Progressing Nicely …

 


 

GOOD MORNING! FRIDAY IS turning into an absolutely gorgeous day here on the Central Coast of California. I truly live in Camelot—um … well, except for the three-ish days of rain and horrific winds. And now, it is the calm before the storm—a small respite before the next storm comes in tomorrow … the proverbial “calm before the storm”. The weather seems to be mirroring my life right now—at least, somewhat.

The storm is gathering. So are all the things that need to be accomplished. They are piling up … and I either tackle them—quickly—or they will run me over like a bulldozer. These last few storms have been like that—slamming the Central Coast with monster wind and rain (seriously unusual for this area—and these new weather patterns seem to be morphing into the “norm”)—major flooding elsewhere in the state—and mudslides in Big Sur are hopefully not undoing what CalTrans has worked so hard to repair from last year’s storms.

Well, I wrote all of the above last week. Monday—after a damp rainy weekend—was another gorgeous day, as were the rest of the days this week. Truly wonderful weather. I think the serious rains are really done for the season. And I still have a mountain of things to tackle before my trip. But, better weather and my ever-improving health is making the list look not quite as daunting.

So much as been accomplished this week—so refreshing. Editing has happened all week, plugging away at transcribing corrections for book one, editing book four and adding words to book five. (Book two sits in limbo, waiting for me to start the edit.) It truly feels wonderful to be getting things done—two long years of recovery, with its ups and downs. I think I can finally put that problem to rest. Yay!

My upcoming trip has certainly put a fire under me. I’m even getting things done around the house and in the yard. Can you see me doing Snoopy’s happy dance? (Insert foolishly giant grin here). My give away pile is growing; I need to make dump and recycle runs and I’m knocking off things on my to-do list. Feels good. Definitely.

I’ve even celebrated two birthdays (sniggle—same person …), spent time with my writing group and worked on getting my ducks in a row for the trip (still need to purchase some euros and pounds to take with me). As I came home these last few nights, I’ve seen the amazingly bright almost-full moon shining overhead—the weather has been very kind in that regard. I’m looking forward to Saturday’s blue moon—apparently it is the second of two blue moons for 2018, if I read the information correctly. I may be up extra late (or would that be super early??) to catch it with my good camera whilst it’s at its peak—my Painterly side is even getting a boost this week! Additionally, I’ve a few incomplete watercolour paintings that I’ve been studying off and on this week, trying to decide what to do next. Both have nice qualities (trying to decide it I’ll be able to layer them together in Photoshop—I hope so. It will be the beginnings for the cover for book one.

My upcoming trip has certainly put a fire under me. Honestly! I’m even getting things done around the house and in the yard. Can you see me doing Snoopy’s happy dance? (Insert foolishly giant grin here). And it does feel good!

My give away pile is growing; I need to make dump and recycle runs and I’m knocking off things on my to-do list. Feels good. Definitely.

I’m looking forward to Saturday’s blue moon—I may be up extra late (or would that be super early??) to catch it—my Painterly side is even getting a boost! I’ve a few incomplete watercolour paintings that I’ve been studying … trying to decide what to do next. Both have nice qualities (trying to decide it I’ll be able to layer them together in Photoshop—I hope so. It will be the beginnings for the cover for book one.

… And, this week culminates with Good Friday. Seems an ironic name for the awful thing that happened a little less than 2000 years ago. Christ dying an agonising death, taking on all of our sins. ‘Tis solemn and sad … but not really. It is the beginning of a celebration. The BC cartoonist, Johnny Hart, Good Friday Explanationexplained things in a nutshell (click on the image to enlarge), don’t you think? Sunday is a new beginning—a new week, with Easter—the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. And with all the flurry happening in my life right now, I’m glad to have both Good Friday and Easter happening—both are humbling for me, centering me. Very special days to celebrate.

So, my friends, I leave you with wishes for a blessed Friday and weekend … and the week to come.

Happy Easter—he has risen.

Books an’ Travel an’ Stuff …

THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING ARRIVED with a bang … rain and wind that I’d prefer not driving in—but I did. The third Tuesday of each month is the Central Coast Writers meeting, on the Peninsula, tucked away in a corner of Pacific Grove. This meant I was driving in the wind on very wet roads … and the wind was ferocious enough that I felt like my car would hydroplane at any moment (if it wasn’t already …). Speed didn’t seem to be a factor at all. Let’s just say I was glad to get off of the highway and onto surface roads that were protected from the wind. The roads were dryer when I headed home (thank God!), so the winds (which were still pretty stiff) were no problem.

The meeting was wonderful—the guest speaker, C. S. Lakin, was quite engaging. She’s written quite a few books—the one she spoke about on Tuesday was Shoot Your Novel: Cinematic Secrets to Supercharge Your Story. She shared visual storytelling techniques and I was surprised at how many techniques I was already utilise in my series. Perhaps not as well as the examples she used, so I listened carefully to what she had to say. It was well worth the trip in the horrific weather. Well worth it! (And … by the way, I bought the book.) The timing is very good, since I will be republishing each one of the books in the series. I am still (insert rolling eyes) working on getting book one’s first edit done for the editor—or, would it qualify as the second edit, since the book was already published (insert impish grin). I am a third of the way done transcribing all of my corrections into notes for him. In any case, I can take a good look at the whole thing once he sends it back to me with all of the changes. And I can start on book two—and three, looking at them in the same light … then move forward with a more critical eye in the edit of book four and five.

It’s times like these that I question my traveling abroad this year, but I am committed to the trip, and I know I’ll enjoy myself—once I get over there. I’ve been vacillating back and forth ever since I paid for the non-refundable airline tickets. I did this last time, too … but I ended up not being able to go last time due to my neck surgery. I truly love my time across the Pond. I’d live over there if I could figure out how to afford it (and keep my home here). Not in the cards unless I find myself a “deep-pockets” hubby. Sigh. Don’t think that’s in the cards either (insert major giggling here). I will be taking photos for book art and for my photopolymer etched printing … but I will not be taking any of my usual promotional materials—or even books. Well, maybe a few books, but my supply is limited and freebees are going to be few and far between. I say no promo material because the books are not really available for anyone to purchase over there—Amazon is not carrying any of them (or will not in the very near future) and I think overseas shipping for me to mail anything would be outrageous. Hmmm … mayhaps I should find out how much it would cost before I make too many assumptions.

Anyway, back to reality. I’m serious when I say (in one of my previous blog posts) that I may need to take a hiatus once I return from my trip. Distractions abound. It will be the only way to get editing, artwork (which I’m afraid I’m going to have to start from scratch …) and publishing done in a timely fashion. But when? Almost immediately after I get back, there’s a Scottish Games that our clan tent needs to be at—a friend and I host the tent every year—I cannot back out. Then the book signing season starts up with a bit of a sputter in early September and goes all the way through the first week of December. One of the November weekends, I’ve signed up to be in Columbia, South Carolina at a book fair. I know … I am plum loco. I committed (monetarily) to that before my publisher passed away. Before the headache of regaining rights to my books. And the artwork. Sigh.

So, the challenge will be finding time, saying no to friends and OGS (insert huge pout)—unless it gets me closer to my goal, cancelling commitments that can be cancelled … and focusing—not procrastinating—on the task at hand. I don’t know how long it will take, but I’ll keep you apprised of my progress. Blogging will stay—possibly much shorter posts than my usual blogs (and I do apologise for the length of this one!), but I won’t disappear.  I promise (I may link to my other blog account, since things look nearly full again—I do not want a repeat of what happened in January!) I promise to keep you up to date.

Please make sure you subscribe to both blogs so you don’t miss anything.  I’ll add links later—or in the next blog—it’s not like I’m leaving tomorrow. Not until May, so there’s time.

I leave you with wishes of a delightfully blessed Spring—even if you’re presently knee deep in snow. It will pass (I know—not soon enough, I’m sure). Have a delightful Friday and weekend … and I will be back next Friday! Toodles!

 

Thoughts On the Publishing Path

OH, MY. WHEELS ARE TURNING very slowly as my publisher’s business is being dismantled after her death just before Christmas, 2017. It has giving me time to begin researching what I’ll have to do to get my books back out in the marketplace. But there will not enough time to accomplish it before I go on my trip across the Pond.

With my researching, I am just now beginning to see all of the costs and complications involved in publishing my fantasy series (and anything else I choose to publish) on my own. The simple way would be to use CreateSpace, use their free ISBNs and only worry about Amazon as the primary vendor for my books—and purchasing my own books to sell at book signings and fairs. But I want to be able to use other platforms. And have control over my product. This means I must step into the shoes of the publisher. Much of what the publisher does, indie authors do … but because indie authors utilise CreateSpace (a Print-On-Demand company), it’s a free venture for the author. All they pay for are the books they need for their book signings (plus any table fees at the events and marketing tools). Publishers, on the other hand, handle quite a few things—I’m just beginning to understand it all.

There are a number of things I hadn’t thought much about regarding the publisher-avenue. Purchasing ISBNs, for example. The ISBN (a necessity) is quite pricey all by itself—and one is needed for each and every form of book that goes to market—whether paperback, hardbound or the various types of ebooks (one ISBN for each ebook type—yikes). Bar codes are another element that is important if the books are to go to vendors such as brick and mortar stores, libraries and such. The code makes all of the information about the book scannable. At least these are only needed for the physical book editions—soft and hard bound. The official website wants to sell them to me, but I googled bar codes and it turns out there’s a generator that creates them for free … or I can use Word or Excel to create them. I’ll need to print the instructions out and go over them with a fine tooth comb, looking at the pros and cons of each before I settle on the method. Of course, copyright is also important. At least this element is not too expensive—I hope—but there’s quite an application process to go through. And another thing I’ll need is a LCCN (Library of Congress Catalog Control Number)—a must for libraries. This is free (yay!) and takes very little time to acquire, but the ISBN is needed. So … I’m going to be one very busy girl. Sigh.

I still am not sure I’ll have access to my cover art work or if I’ll need to make new covers. I’m already tinkering with cover art—but I’m a long way from being ready to have a finished product. Then there is getting the logo for my publishing company, figuring out where everything goes on the cover—and the first three books will need to be published as second editions. Where does that information go? Oh! The press name popped into my head earlier today and I think it’s kinda catchy—and still incorporating my business name (insert grin). What do you think: The Press at Creations by djamesonsmith—”The Press” for short. The logo will be circular, probably with some form of tree in the center.

I’m afraid this is only the tip of the iceberg—and I feel like an entire Pandora’s box is going to explode in my face in the very near future. I’ve said I’m going to take this slow, but even with a slow wade through the mire, I’m afraid It’s almost too overwhelming—leaving me wondering if it’s worth it.

It is worth it, of course—but that doesn’t make it any less daunting. By the way, I bit the bullet on Thursday and paid for a block of ISBNs for my books (and then some, since I’m trying to think ahead and keep costs down). That single act makes me committed. Committed to move forward as a Publisher-Author. So, now you will be able to follow me through this quagmire as I learn as I go—you’ll be hearing about all the craziness as I juggle the new skills needed for this new endeavour. Thankfully, I’ve a wonderful friend or two … or three that will be invaluable in this whole process. Thank God for friends. Seriously!

I’ll be going between trip preparations, editing, and juggling this thing called publishing, plus all sorts of researching in my upcoming blogs—I’ll make sure to break up all of that with some photography and art so you don’t get too bored. So … until next week, I wish you a wonderfully blessed Friday, a delightful St. Paddy’s Day weekend and I’ll be here next week with another “installment” of my craziness. Cheers!

Fascinations

I’M A CLOUD-WATCHER from waaay back when. My daddy instilled the love of cloud gazing when I was quite young and it has never wavered. There are days I yearn to simply find a comfy spot on the ground—a patch of grass to settle into—and watch them parade across the sky, imagining a line of angels, lions, dinosaurs and such, morphing as they float across the heavens. It always brings memories of my daddy, too. Very fond memories! Watching the clouds and thinking of my daddy—nothing else. Heaven. Mmmm. Yes.

Our skies have been filled with strange and beautiful cloud formations—even sundogs and pillars, which I seldom have an opportunity to see. The skies have been amazing. Simply amazing. Clouds make for exquisite sunsets and sunrises—which I’ve taken full advantage of recently. Another reason to enjoy the rainy weather we’ve had. I’ve found that I’m waking earlier, so I’m able to watch the skies unfold into daylight with or without the decorator clouds help—whether I have camera in hand or not, I’m loving it!

But, the skies are weird too. I don’t remember seeing so many con trails from high-flying jets that checker-board our skies. Contrails that are fatter—and seem to hang around so much longer than I recall. Sometimes, I wonder about them, especially since I happened upon a conspiracy article (didn’t realise it was until I neared the end of my reading—naive little ol’ me … ). The idea was planted, even if I didn’t believe anything they said in the article. Conspiracy or not, I know air traffic has increased and the con trails have changed—just don’t know the why. I only hope they are not interfering with the ecology of our planet. We’ve done enough already and are so slow—or not willing—to rectify our errors (okay … off my soapbox now).

I just want to watch the clouds float by and let my imagination go wild. It helps with my creativity in my work—both Writerly and Painterly. It has definitely helped with my Painterly side … I’ve spent a few days at Open Ground Studios playing with some ideas triggered by all that cloud watching. I’m certainly no Van Gogh—my imagined product is far from what I end up with, but putting my ideas to paper is a wonderful feeling—and knowing I can massage the results in Photoshop gives me hope that I’ll come up with some usable covers for my books. I just need to play more.  Practice makes perfect, eh? I’ll post photos later (in another post)—when I am feeling better about the finished product.

I’ve a few photos to leave with you before I bid you adieu—there have been so many photo ops, and I’ve missed so many of them whilst driving to an appointment … or was in need of my good camera (vs iPhone) to capture the essence. Have fun with the few I’m sharing today (click on them to see the full image). I sincerely hope it doesn’t end up getting me locked out due going over my allotted storage space … yeah, still working on little bits of it (trying to get questions answered—fun, fun …) Please do not reproduce in any fashion without my permission. Thank you.

Clouds at Sunset Clouds Just Before Sunset Yes, More Clouds Sunset Nearly Done Clouds Sundog Variety Is the Spice of Life Good Morning, Clouds Partly Sunny ...? Impending Rain ... Cloudy SkiesMay your Friday, your weekend and the upcoming week be filled with the blessings of joy and accomplishments. Toodles!

 

Well, I’m Back—Finally

IT’S BEEN A VERY, VERY LONG MONTH—actually, over a month … but who’s counting! At least it appears that I have access to my account again (yaaaay!). I’m still waiting for a phone call from Yahoo’s help desk to sort things out (should come before 11am—ideally sooner, as I gave them a window of availability from 9-11). It may be that they simply opened the account for me to access so that I could go through stored (but unused) photos and delete them. (Update: the phone call never happened and I’m still waiting for a written reply on my “case”, so I’ll simply get on with my life as I wait …)

I’m certainly not tech savvy enough to figure out why I couldn’t get in to fix things. The Managers Tools are like Greek to me. I still think it was a glitch at their end, but I’ll never know. Well, in doing all the deleting and reviewing, I realised I had quite a few drafts I haven’t touched over the last few years—oopsie. And there were way too many photos that I supposedly did not use in blogs, yet had them all set up with description, titles, etc (which seems weird … another thing I need to ask about, right?)

So … this blog entry will seem a bit odd—trying to play catch up, plus for those of you that were unaware, I set up another blog so I could keep posting. Thankfully, there are only three blogs entries (at this point) on the new page <— that’s the link to those posts, in case you want to check them out. It’s not set up the way I want it yet, but it serves its purpose—when I decide to leave Yahoo, I’ll have this blog to move everything to (once I find a good tech to help me make the move smoothly). Still trying to decide which platform I’ll use for my existing website which is currently tethered to Yahoo. There must be another web host that is better … there must be.

But, at this point, that is the least of my worries. I need to complete two edits—actually four if you count book two and three (they need minor tweaks for the second addition), purchase the ISBNs for the series, finish a manuscript (and edit it!), come up with cover art (whether existing art or newly created) for all of them … and plan my vacation. This year was probably not the best year to be traveling, but it was time. Tickets are purchased and I desperately need the time away to play with my camera and unwind my mind. I’m definitely looking forward to traveling.

But … even before all of that, there is the annual headache called income tax preparation, that must be dealt with. So, the moment I post this, I’m off to my cave to sort through, crunch numbers (with an unknown factor from Inknbeans—no 1099 from them this year) and submit my return. I’m determined to have it ready to send off by the 15th of this month. A whole month ahead of schedule, so I can concentrate on planning my trip and editing. Here’s hoping I’m able to do it!

So, my friends … wherever you are, no matter the weather—my little corner of the world is being buffeted by a series of storms rolling through, bringing snow to fairly low elevations (sooo pretty to see snow in our mountain range)—keep looking for small nuggets of serendipity to brighten your day. Have a wonderfully blessed Friday and weekend and I’ll chat with you next week. I think next week will be about travel preparation—soooo much to do! Cheers!