Mother Nature and Creativity

Whilst the Midwest and East Coast have been dealing with an extremely fickle Mother Nature, our weather on the Central Coast of California has been spectacularly beautiful the last week or so. The on again-off again wind has been a nuisance, but compared to the weather elsewhere, we cannot (or should not) complain. Chilly to simply cool mornings melding into cool to “just right” temps as the day progresses has been Mother Nature’s offering. Spring is definitely in the air. And that makes me happy!
The clouds have been amazing. Billowing cumulus (decorator clouds), the dramatic stratocumulus and cumulonimbus have paraded across our skies, keeping my eyes looking upward in awe. Late evening to early mornings have been just as delightful—our fog that rolls in and out like tidal currents makes me smile. At times, it’s a heavy blanket darkening the sky and hiding the sunsets and sunrises. Other times, it’s a white veil that caresses the hills and trees, reluctant to yield to the sun. It’s the veil-like presence that I enjoy the most. That fog that, as it finally yields to the warms of the morning air, stratifies in the nooks and crannies of the hills, finally dissipating altogether. So pretty.  As I stand at my windows watching, it reminds me of Brigadoon—the magic that happens in the mist of the morning …
And, indeed the magic of the mornings (ever so early, I might add) brings creativity. I know that I’ve been very restless (and frustrated), trying to complete the next few books in the series. It has left you, my readers, wanting more and probably just as frustrated as I am. These last few months, with my renewed energy and my mind finally bursting with more and more ideas (of all sorts—not just storylines), I find myself excited—yet even more frustrated as I realise I’ll not be able to follow through with most of them due to my trip across the Pond. Excited—but frustrated—that ideas are flowing at a rate I cannot possibly keep up with … and they come at the oddest of times. It seems 2-3 am is the most prolific creative time (insert massive eye-roll here). Seventeen years ago—when this story in my head would not go away—I was oh-so-much-younger. I was able to handle late nights and early mornings … and middle of the night “eureka moments”. Now? Well, I can still manage a few days and nights like that, but … oye vey! Sigh. Is it possible to train creativity to happen at more convenient times?? This old doddering woman needs her sleep … teehee.
Apparently not. One of my recent middle-of-the-night eureka moments produced quite a few haikus. Really? I don’t do poetry. Yet, my mind kept spitting them out—I managed to get a few written down before I finally collapsed back into my sleepy coma for what remained of the night. They’re not great, but they do adhere to the 5-7-5 rule.
Creativity/Imagination
The mind like Spring blooms
Ideas flowing anew
A canvas of words
Paintbrush poised in hand
Colours explode on canvas
Rains down settles in
I guess that’s how the mind works—at least, my mind. At these “magical hour” moments, I work out ideas for gardening, for building projects, stories—and apparently poetry in the middle of the night. It’s been a very long time since my mind was this active (maybe a year before my spinal surgery—that’d be about 3-4 years ago!). It feels good—but I sure wish it would choose daylight hours for all of these revelations … honestly (eh-hem—as I write this at that “magic” hour in the morning … which has drawn out till 4:30—good grief!). Well, at least the blog has been written.
So, my wonderful readers, even though I’m nearing the time to head off across the Pond (only a couple more weeks—yikes!) and won’t be able to concentrate fully on my edits whilst abroad, you will be able to follow me during my adventure in Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland via my blog. Then, once home and recovered from my trip, I promise to dedicate time to complete book four in the series before I go back to preparing the first three books for re-publishing. I promise!
So, as the roosters begin to announce the new day, the plan is to back to sleep for a bit, before I edit and post this piece. May your Friday and weekend be blessed abundantly! Toodles till next week.

Book Arts: Medieval-Style Books

I SPENT THE WEEKEND in a workshop at Open Ground Studios, learning how to creating a limp vellum medieval book. It’s not the first time I’ve attended a workshop led by Nicky Yeager. And, it will not be the last. I like his laid-back teaching style. This particular workshop was a challenge, but I had fun … and was pleased with the final results. I was sleep deprived (only a bad night’s sleep) and my brain was a wee bit foggy—even after a few cups of coffee—all of which hindered my comprehension.

Of course since it was my first attempt, it was far from perfect—but that’s okay. I’ve always considered the first one my prototype. I found myself alternately frustrated (till I figured out how to do a step) and content—I keep forgetting how much I love working with my hands. I’ve been spending so much time editing (head-work) lately that I’d forgotten the joy of real hands-on creating. Every time I finish up one of his workshops, I want to dive into creating more of what I’ve just learned.

This weekend’s event was no different. I’m glad my mind has been kick-started with creative ideas, but with my upcoming trip, I’m not sure I’ll be able to follow through. Last night my brain wouldn’t stop thinking about the different forms of medieval books. My absolute favourite is the wood-bound books. I spent a good portion of the wee hours of Monday thinking about how I could go about getting my hands on quarter-sawn oak … (insert very loud sigh and eye roll—teehee); about how I’ll keep track of the actual costs of materials so I could price them fairly (for the customer and still make a wee bit of a profit) … and how many I should make. Oh. And I wondered about how I could re-invigorate interest in my personalised storybooks. Maybe I’ve too many interests … just maybe.

Oh, yes. My creative mind has definitely re-engaged.

But all of that must go on hold—at least temporarily, until I’m able to get all my travel plans solidly arranged. Then I’ll start planning my next art project. Oh, wait … I have five books to publish (well, re-publish three and first-time publish two). Egads. I do love a challenge—and juggling projects—don’t I? I know a few of my friends will be doing eye rolls when they see what I’ve planned for myself upon returning from across The Pond.

Here are a few photos from the weekend—not all, as many of them are not cooperating—I’ve spent most of the week

DIY Signature "Punching" Craddle

A handy device to punch holes in the signatures. I’m green with envy.

Signatures Ready To Punch ... Almost

Since I don’t have the DIY craddle, gotta poke ’em all the old fashioned way, using a template (grey sheet).

Okay ... Now I'm Ready

Punched on left, ready to be punched on right. Template at center fold (visible so you can see one of the notches used to punch uniform holes for threading signatures together).

Yeah ... I’ve two that could be entered IF they were done. Maybe next year. Thanks for the heads up.

Twisted leather strips that anchor the signature to the cover.

trying to “right” those photos that loaded side-ways (ugh). I’m giving up on correcting things and posting—I’ll add to the images later when my computer/iPhone is less twitchy! Remember you can click on each image to enlarge them.

Have a great day, a blessed weekend and here’s to Spring making an appearance (well, mostly). Hope you’ll come back next week to see what mischief I’ll be up to—personally, I have no clue (insert huge grin and a wink!). Toodles.a

Books, Books … and More Books

CreateSpace Dashboard

As always, click on image to see entire photo

I MUST BE CRAZY … REALLY. I CANNOT believe I’ve actually begun setting up my CreateSpace account—entering all of the titles I want to publish. It has me all jazzed about the possibilities (and ignoring all the hassles involved) … Honestly. And during the night last night (I actually managed a solid six hours sleep …) I had a eureka moment—I think there is a way around the cover/ISBN/publisher logo issues. That alone has me doin’ a jig. It looks like I can keep my covers, which is what I’ve been hoping for all along—IF (and it’s a big IF) what I came up with last night works. There will need to be a tiny bit of a redesign, but only for what surrounds the actual cover art. That makes me so happy, you would not believe it! And, if I can manage it, then all my promotional material remains the same and I can go ahead and order my supplies.

So, now … the most important thing will be getting the edit for book one complete, getting book two re-worked (shouldn’t require much, as I’ve mentioned before) and if I can finally get book three released from Inknbeans Press. All I need to do is concentrate on a cover for book four—Mischiefmaker. I think I can do that.

I still won’t have any of the books done before I leave on my trip—unless some miracle happens … and I’m not discounting that possibility (insert huge grin), since if He wants it to happen, it will. Just sayin’ … I’ll keep pluggin’ away, making sure all my ducks are in a row, all my i’s and t’s are dotted and crossed. Yup, I’m excited.

The next thing that needs to happen is to get my book signing schedule updated, so you know when and where you can find Joyce Oroz and me. Joyce and I had a little pow-wow over the weekend, looking at what dates/events we’d be available for and decided who would be responsible for completing which applications. I’ll be posting the information at the end of each blog, once I get it all typed up—perhaps by next Friday. There will be many “TBA” dates and other information for the events happening later in the year, but at least they will be available to see, especially for those we have done in the past.

DSL Speed

As always, click on image to see entire photo

So, on this delightful “up” note, I will close this blog so that I can get back to getting things done. There are still some travel arrangements to be made—I’ve had no internet at home (either completely dead, or so slow it’s unusable), so my time at Open Ground Studios has turned into “make-up” days … trying to catch up with things that need to happen. Hopefully that will be remedied soon!

Oh, yes … Saturday will be very busy for me. There’s a book arts workshop by Nicky Yeager—I would not miss one of his workshops … ever (this will make the fourth year he’s been coming to Open Ground Studios)! And in the midst of the workshop, I will need to disappear into my little studio to register for the 2019 Gallifrey One conference. I’ll have new books to promote. Such a lovely sound—new books! Yes! Praying I’m able to get passes!

May your Friday and weekend be gloriously fun … and blessed. See you next Friday. Enjoy. Toodles!

2018 Book Signing Schedule

Saturday May 6  Monterey Moose Lodge 9am-2pm Art and Crafts | Book Signing at the Lodge will include Joyce Oroz’s Josephine Stuart’s Mystery Series and some of her art and dj jameson smith’s Secrets Beyond Scymaria series along with her photography and art.

Thursday-Friday May 11-12  Watsonville Hospital 11am-4pm Craft Show | Book Signing with Joyce Oroz’s mystery series and dj jameson smith’s fantasy series. This is a tentative date—we will not find out if it’s a go until the last minute, unfortunately.

Saturday May 12  Aromas 10am-4pm Aromas Garden Tour | Arts & Crafts & Book Signing
Pick up the garden map at the Aromas Grange on Rose Avenue, then wander the streets to admire the gardens and art—oh … and don’t forget the books that Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smith will have available, along with some of their art.
There is a nominal “entry” fee for the Gardens map.

Date and time TBA Summer Book Signing at Jardines de San Juan’s Mexican Restaurant 115 Third Street, San Juan Bautista CA. It was so fun to do this last year, that we’ve decided to try it again. We need to get permission and lock down a date—we’ll let you know as soon as possible.

Saturday, July 28 LaSelva Beach Clubhouse and Lawn, 10am-4pm 314 Estrella Ave LaSelva Beach CA Books and Brew’s LaSelva Beach Summer Festival | Book Signing
dj jameson smith may not be ready to greet the world due to jet-lag, but she will be there. So will Joyce Oroz, with her Josephine Stuart Mysteries series. Lots of arts and crafts, lovely food and games. Come enjoy the day.

Saturday-Sunday, 4-5 August 2018 Scottish Games | Monterey Fairgrounds
Gates open daily at 9am, gates close after the ending ceremonies (5pm on Saturday, 4pm on Sunday)
Sshhh … don’t tell anyone, but since I’ll be manning the Gunn Clan booth (again) along with my Gunn Cousin all weekend long, I’ll have a box of my books with me for sale. Come and enjoy some wonderful Celtic music, watch the Games and taste the delicious, hearty food. Find the Clan Gunn booth and either Michelle or I will tell you about your Celtic roots (Gunn or not) … and I’ll offer up signed books for purchase.
There is an entry fee to the Games.

Friday-Sunday, 24-26 August West End Celebration—more details to follow

Saturday, mid-September Seascape Beach Resort 8am-12:30pm Alzheimer’s Walk—more details to follow

Saturday, 30 September Gilroy CA 10-4 Gilroy Street Fair | Book Signing—more details to follow

Saturday, 6 October  Compass Church 10-4 Harvest Jubilee | Book Signing—more details to follow

Tuesday, 16 October  Point Pinos Grill, Pacific Grove 6-8pm Central Coast Writer’s October BookFest | Book Signing—details to follow

Date TBA Friday-Sunday, November Watsonville Elks Holiday Craft Show | Book Signing—details to follow

Saturday, 3 November Aptos Grange, 12-4pm Holiday Craft Show | Book Signing—details to follow

Saturday, 10 November Casanova Oak Knolls Park Center, Monterey 9am-1pm Holiday Craft Show | Book Signing—details to follow

Saturday-Sunday 17-18 November Aromas Grange 10am-5pm Aromas Hills Artisans’ Holiday Fair—details to follow

December date TBA Kelly’s Book Store, Watsonville CA 1-3pm Book Signing—details to follow

Thursday-Friday, December date TBA 10am-4pm Watsonville Community Hospital Holiday Craft Fair | Book Signing—details to follow

 

Neverending Traveling Preparations …

AAAAH … NEVERENDING—IT SURE SEEMS that way. Once again I am spinning my wheels, attempting to prepare for the journey across the Pond. I do this every time (and I think I’ve mentioned that before … but really—it seems worse this time around). This year there seems to be more distractions, more “last minute” things that need to happen before I disappear. And, more reluctance. Not because I’m afraid I won’t have a blast, but because of all the “unfinished” business (my books and incomplete manuscripts) I’ll be leaving behind. Yes, I can work on them whilst abroad, but I’d rather not take the editing binders with me. I will take a USB with me to work on the WIP (book five: The Catalyst). Maybe, by some miracle, I can complete the edit on book one and four before I leave. Sigh—one can dream.

Aside from the books, there are a few more accommodations that need to be arranged before the departure; two cars to rent—yeah … at least two. I want to use one whilst in Ireland for the first leg of the journey, then turn it in when we take the ferry across to Wales. We’ll grab a car at the ferry station, then use it the entire time we’re in the UK (I know … seems frivilous to have it sit for a full week up in Inverness, but I don’t think I can easily find a rental agency up there—and that’s what I do once I reach a destination anyway … park and walk), then turn it in when we catch the ferry back to Ireland. I’m of a mind to spend our last week roaming around on foot in and around Dublin and/or taking mini-tours (let the business do the driving)—there are plenty of them in the area … and hailing cabs when necessary (any night activities or things too far afield).

So, in planning the rentals and accommodations, I need to know the when—need more planning on how much time we’ll spend in various places. Do we hunker down in Dublin and take day trips? Do we travel to the west side of Ireland (Galway) and make day trips north and south? My planning time is running out … I need to focus on the nuts and bolts of the trip and not the other things that keep coming up in my day-to-day life—I need to put all the other stuff on the back-burner, so to speak.

Since I’ll have my daughter’s mother-in-law with me, I’m feeling that I need to be more organised than I usually am. She has a fairly laid back personality (we don’t fit the “normal” mother-in-law profile—we actually get along …), but I still feel the need for things to flow more smoothly. Not quite so spur-of-the-moment or spontaneous … or coddiwomple (teehee … I do love unusual words. Hmmm—should I make you look that one up? Naaw!) “(v.) to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination.” Yup. That’s me in a nutshell. When I travel, I like to know some of the places I want to visit, but it’s not written in stone—there are way too many things that might be even better than what I’d planned. Or, circumstances may change the direction we need or want to go. I’m all for keeping an open mind and a loose itinerary (insert huge grin).

Luggage is also more of a concern this year than in the past. I’ve usually used one of the major airlines and they are fairly lax on checked bag size—Aer Lingus is very rigid about size. Usually, I’ve taken one 21″ 2-wheel bag so it’s never been a problem—except when I return … it’s usually bulging with gifts. Once I took two—the major airlines allow two, but not Aer Lingus. Only ONE free checked bag. So, this year, I decided to upgrade—I’ve got myself a 25″ spinner (4-wheel, omni-directional suit case).. I will still pack light (wash clothes on a weekly basis) and have room for plenty of gifts without the bag bulging. I still must limit my suitcase to 50# (same with all airlines). I’ve purchased a hand-held digital scale (don’t know why I didn’t think of this before!)—it will be a great way to keep tabs on how much we’ve accumulated. Overages can get very expensive—$100 (if I recall correctly) if even one pound over the max. An added suitcase would only have a $60 fee (plus the purchase price of the bag), so if we find ourselves overweight, that may be the way to go. I’m planning on staying under the limit—hopefully. We can always ship some items home—it may be worth that extra cost. We’ll see. My advise to you is to choose your airline carefully—this is the first time I’ve flown with Aer Lingus—they were the only airline that had a non-stop to Dublin from San Francisco that didn’t cost an arm and a leg … a “cheaper” airline may not be that good of a bargain—like I said … we’ll see.

Okay … so that’s enough rambling today. We’re in for a very rainy weekend … beginning later tonight. Have a delightful Friday—and weekend—despite the weather. Make sure to keep your eyes open—check around the corner for serendipitous happenings. Many blessings and cheers!