About Creationsbydjamesonsmith

I am an entrepreneur. As an author, storyteller, personalized storybook creator, photographer, and artist (artist and freelance photographer), I juggle multiple professions that keep me very busy! I am presently nearing completion of the fourth in a fantasy series (first book released October, 2013) for ages 9 to 99—with book five "hovering" in the wings. Set in a small college town, the story revolving around two "tweeners" and their discoveries of a strange creature, a portal to the other side, their adventures and lessons learned at home and in this other world. A fun and fast paced read. I do make appearances at book signings and meet 'n greets throughout the year—the last one for 2017 will be December 7-8th. When not writing or storytelling, I'm playing with my camera and working on my artistic endeavors with occasional local exhibition showings. There's always one or two of my images hanging on the back wall at Open Ground Studios in Seaside California.

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!


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!


Challenges, Here I Come!

IT’S BEEN AN INTERESTING YEAR so far. Looks like 2018 will hold some fascinating twists and turns. And plenty of new challenges.

But right now, I’m just chillin’. It’s Sunday and I’ve been crazy busy all last week trying to scratch off way too many things on my To Do list simultaneously—which is not a terribly smart move on my part.

I sat down to begin writing a light-hearted blog—great ideas were swimming near the surface and I wanted to get them down before I forgot … aaaand, by the time I settled down to “put them on paper”, they were gone. I haven’t a clue … (insert extreme eye-roll here, along with a deep sigh).

Hence my “chillin’” … I do have a lovely lap-warmer to keep my company. I think Sebastian is not keen on my “away-from-home” schedule that I’ve been keeping lately. If plopping on my lap keeps me from going anywhere, then he’s a pro at keeping me in one place. There is an Unspoken Rule—if a cat falls a sleep or is resting on your lap (or any body part for that matter), you are not allowed to get up, let alone move … Giggle. I do have my ways of getting him to move without breaking the Rule if I must get up, but usually I can handle the length of time he camps-out on my body.  But this week has been gruelling for him. And he’s let me know—he can be a very verbal little guy when he wants/needs to be.

Well, I was hoping that I’d remember what I was going to say—no dice … so, the best avenue for me is to putter … at least, that’s the new plan. The old plan was to go to church and then work at OGS again. But I overslept (majorly) and decided maybe I need to do less today. Staying home does not guarantee that—plenty to do here too …

Aaah … memories (fleeting little guys—insert a very sad face here). There are times that I think I’ve gained back a fair amount of my my memory … then days like Sunday happen. It’s now Thursday and that idea for the blog never resurfaced. I’ve been too busy playing (… well, actually working) in my new studio space. Did I tell you about that? My new studio—still a work in progressAnother view of my new OGS stufioStarting with January of 2018, I’ve a new space to be creative. It’s an actual space with an actual door on it (I know—gasp). So, since a bit after Christmas, I’ve been working on making it “my space” (hence the inordinate time away from my cat …). Adding furniture from home, shelves and cabinets I’ve scrounged, table tops of varying heights to accommodate different mediums … things like that. It is shaping up and I’m loving the space.

The other thing I’m doing (no, not editing …) is scrambling, trying to figure out what I’m doing with my books. Since the announcement that my publisher (if Inknbeans Press) passed away, there are quite a few authors feeling shipwrecked. We’ve been notified that the business will close …. which leaves most of the authors up a creek without the proverbial paddle. We are trying to help each other with whatever experience we can share.

I’m thinking that I may be doing it on my own, creating a mini-publishing company with one author (me). So I’d be using CreateSpace or Ingram as my publish on demand vendor for paperbacks  not sure about the ebooks yet—one step at a time.

But, I cannot do anything until the executors of her estate releases all rights back to each of the author, including me. So, it’s a game of wait and see …

Whilst I twiddle my thumbs in the waiting game, I’m inventorying what I have left in the way of books and I’m putting together a The beginnings of a marketing promo ...promo package to jump start the re-publishing of the series—doesn’t look like much at present, but just wait an’ see! I also need to get book four’s edit finished and wrap up book five (then start the editing process) so I can release them in rapid succession.

My Writerly plate is full, as is my Painterly plate. But as I’ve said before, I’m always up for a challenge. And it will be a challenge—indeed!

For now, I wish you all well. May your day, weekend and upcoming week be filled with manageable challenges, serendipity just around the next corner … and a safe and healthy year ahead of you.


To Everything There Is A Season …

RECENTLY, I WAS PERUSING THE LAST two posts and was somewhat “amused” (not really) by the titles I chose. It was as if I was a wee bit clairvoyant about the immediate future. The direction each post went … and the titles chosen speak volumes to me now.

This has been quite a year … full of ups and downs—thankfully more ups than downs. Finally, this last quarter has found me healthier, with more energy to enjoy the things I hold dear. More energy—and creativity, too—to create whilst wearing my Writerly and Painterly hats. I’ve been loving it!

My body and brain have been so “healthy” that ideas are now screaming to be heard, so as I work out things whilst trying to sleep, I don’t get as many restful hours. But that’s okay. I’d much rather the ideas flow (Insert monster grin here). Seriously. I’ve been on a natural high—finding myself full of purpose. And I’m getting things done. A wonderful feeling—a delightful change of pace, to be sure!

Last week I titled the blog “A New Beginning” and the week before it was “In Memory”—I had absolutely no idea what was going to be happening as the next weeks unfolded. Well, I can’t really say that. Ideas popped in my head, which were immediately squashed as negativity I didn’t need, nor want.

But as fate would have it, on Tuesday morning, someone at Inknbeans Press announced (on our private Facebook page) the passing of our fearless leader … our Inknbeans Press publisher. I couldn’t breathe as I read the news. It was if a monstrous elephant had just sat on my chest. I could not catch my breath. My mind literally reeled from the news.  An unbelievable idea—she could not possibly be dead. The doctors had released her from the hospital only a couple weeks before for an unrelated issue. How could she be gone?

All of her “Beans” (as she fondly called her authors) are still reeling—in denial, disbelief and/or simply unable to wrap our minds around what has happened—we had no clue this could possibly happen. She was, after all, a genuine fighter—an inspiration to all of us “Beans”. We were her Hill of Beans and quite proud of the name bestowed upon us.

She wasn’t simply our “boss” or our publisher. She was our friend, mentor, confidante, encourager—so many things. She had an uncanny way of knowing what each of us needed and she was there for us—juggling all of our individual needs with her own. She was a strong Christian, filled with the fruit of the spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. She needed all those skills, since writers can be a handful at times—doubting their abilities, dealing with writers’ block, insecurities, etc—she gracefully and masterfully helped us through it all. I think her only vice was coffee. She loved her coffee—oh, yes she did! The only other “inconsistency” (if you can call it that) was her aversion to being photographed. She was so beautiful in spirit—I couldn’t understand why she didn’t like being “captured” on camera. We teased her about being in Witness Protection … or being an undercover spy. If she was in a shot, we needed to “wipe” her from it before sharing it. Last year we did manage to get her to take a group shot—under the protection of a fan, she allowed it.

As this blog goes to “press”, we are still uncertain as to the fate of the company, our involvement with Inknbeans, and our books. The Inknbeans Press office has been closed “until further notice”, so getting additional copies, getting new books published—it’s all on hold. In limbo. We will find out more sometime next month, hopefully. I’m trying not to stress over it …

In the meantime, many of us are working on writing something up to be added to a small anthology, which will be printed, bound and presented to her family, friends and a copy for each of her authors as a memorial to her. It is rather therapeutic to do this sort of thing, so I’m glad I said yes.

We Beans have a pretty short deadline to work with and I am struggling to get it written (being therapeutic doesn’t make it any easier …). Because of that, I am going “dark” for a couple of weeks—there will be no blog till I’ve got my piece done. This blog, of course, is the last for the year—literally, since the new year begins in only a few short days. I will give myself a few weeks to concentrate on my piece for the anthology and hopefully have a new blog for the 12th or 19th of January. I may surprise myself and get it done before … but no promises.

So, to close the 2017 year … I wish you all a Blessed and Happy New Year. May 2018 hold more ups than downs—and many wonderful experiences, plus unending Joy and Peace.

Memphis Tennessee Bean Reunion, 2016

“Hill of Beans” and Boss Jo

For my dear friend, Maaijo “Boss” Lowe, may you rest in peace at the feet of Jesus with an ever-fresh, steaming cup of coffee. We Beans know you’ll be chatting up all the authors that have gone before you and spreading your indomitable love everywhere you go. I miss you so much already …



A New Beginning

OOH, TALK ABOUT BEING SIDETRACKED! I’ve tucked my edits away as I’ve worked toward digging out a few important pieces of furniture for my new space at Open Ground Studios. The OGS director texted me on Wednesday, saying the space was ready for me—talk about the ultimate early Christmas present! Edits put aside, I’ve been dreaming and scheming about how I can transform my space—I pulled together a few things (tape measure and a few tools) and drove over to begin to tidy and measure my space. I mopped the floor—in hindsight, probably should have done that last. I kinda cleaned the walls, knocked down the cobwebs and dust hiding on the windowsills (I’ve three windows—insert grin—plus a windowed door).
Then I found the key to the storage space and wrestled my box of IKEA bits into my office—they needed to be put together. Though that took much longer than I figure, I was able to successfully put together a six drawer rolling unit—it looks great!

I left OGS completely spent, with plans to return on a Thursday to deliver a few large items: two small filing cabinets, a smallish table and (now that I know it will fit—remember the measuring tape?) … a corner unit computer desk. Oh, and that was fun—not! Took two days of attempting to dismantle, then I gave up on it (I’ll have to reassemble what I’ve done as it’s staying at home). I decided to take a drop-table secretary desk instead. I’ve cleaned it out and it’s ready to go. It’s much heavier than anticipated, so getting it out of the house, into the truck and back out at the other end will be interesting … this is how I’ll be spending my Friday. I’m hoping there might be somebody at OGS to help with the desk … we’ll see.

So … I also needed to return all the stuff I had in my flat file and cubby. Most of it was done Thursday, but I’ve one more load to go (I think). Then, I’ll be going to Home Depot to look for brackets and boards for some shelving. I might even get a couple of boards I’ll need to cut down and some wheels to make a rolling table/platform. Still working on that in my head.

Sigh—no matter how “small” the move, it’s a nuisance … to say the least (she said with a grin).

Christmas is this weekend (Sunday/Monday). I’ve promised to bring some yummy food, so Saturday will be my day to prep/cook all of it. I’ll be spending Sunday at church, then at my daughter and son-in-law’s home for a Christmas Eve dinner. Monday morning—and most of the day—will be spent with his family and a few friends. So … before it gets crazy, I want to wish you all safe travels and, as you settle in with your friends and family, a blessed Christmastime.

May Peace and Joy surround you this weekend and beyond. 🎄 Merry Christmas 🎄

In Memory …

ONE OF MY MOST FAVOURITE actresses is Dame Judi Dench. When I read this article—found on a friend’s Facebook page—with a goofy photo of her, it started me to thinking …

If I were to plant trees in memory of my deceased love ones, which would I choose? With my Celtic roots, I would definitely want to research the history behind ones found in Scotland and Ireland for my family.

I do have quite a few loved ones that have left this earthly plane in my lifetime: all of my grandparents, all of my uncles, one (blood relative) aunt, my parents, my mother-in-law, my husband, a number of friends …

After reading the article, I found that Dame Judi was very particular about which trees she chose. Her friends either had an affinity to the tree or there was some personality trait that clicked with the particular tree chosen. I think I would need to research the strengths and character of each tree—and of each person before I began. I would be limited to how many I could plant, since I have a meager, not-quite-acre—on a serious hillside (with the house set in the middle of it all).

The easiest to choose would be for my dad. I’m not sure I’d only plant the Jacaranda … maybe I’d add a couple of other trees as well, plus roses. He was an avid gardener with the greenest of green thumbs. And he loved nature. I’d probably dedicate an area with various small to medium sized plants that would fair well under the umbrella of a Jacaranda. My mom loved roses—especially pinks. I think I’d probably combine their trees/garden and add forget-me-nots since pink and blue were her favourite colours.

Mom’s mom—my maternal grandmother—passed away when I was fairly young and I honestly don’t remember much about her, except that she was a wonderful cook, making sure her grandchildren had sweets and cakes to enjoy on our visits. I haven’t found any photos of her—I think my cousin has all of those, along with much of my grandfather’s photos. So I’m not sure what I’d plant in her memory. In his memory, I’d probably do best with a cactus (don’t get me wrong—I loved him, but he could be very prickly at times) … my brothers saw him in a much different light than I (I’m sure it was a gender thing after hearing stories told by my mother).

My dad’s dad (my paternal grandfather) also died before I really had a chance to get to know him—think I was only four or five. My dad looked up to him from a very early age, but all I really remember was him sitting under an old, sprawling avocado tree with most—if not all—of his grandchildren sitting or running around on the lawn around him (he was definitely the patriarch of the family). So, perhaps an avocado. I was a young adult when my paternal grandmother died, so I have many memories of her. She was the only one to send me books for my birthdays and at Christmas. This grandmother was my dad’s step mom—his birth-mom died during the flu epidemic when he was entering toddlerhood. I think, for both of his moms, I’d plant gardenias … or perhaps citrus (or maybe one of each) and forget-me-nots underneath. Not sure why—just seems appropriate. Perhaps it’s because I associate the town my dad grew up in with those plants. Both of them were of German descent, so maybe a little research will yield a beautiful tree that would survive my climate.

My husband’s mom—Czech and UK descent—and all other loved ones will need research … it’s going to be a mighty forest when I’m done (which makes me happy), but I must consider my veggie garden in the process. All trees may need to be planted only on the north-east side of the property so I will have sun to nourish my edible garden—and I don’t interfer with neighours’ viewshed.

What have you done to memorialise family and friends? I’d love to hear.

Hmm. A last minute thought: Jesus’ life/death/character was memorialised by a pine tree, in addition to the red/white candy cane and a cross …

Speaking of that … only two more Sundays until Christmas! Hanukkah began on the 12th … and all the other holidays will soon follow. Wishing you all a Merry, Happy (you fill in the appropriate blanks). Whatever way you choose to celebrate, may your holiday be blessed abundantly.


Winding Up … Winding Down

{Oops. My apologies—I was having technical difficulties and was unable to get into my account, so couldn’t post this until now.}

IN WAYS, THE SEASON IS just beginning to warm up, in other ways, it’s finally winding down. Today is the very last day of my crazy book signing/craft show events.

The wind-down allows me to evaluate what worked and what did not. And it allows me more time to spend with friends and family as the holidays heat up. I’ve had to say no to friends and family so many times this year, I’m sure they thought I was a workaholic.

Being able to say yes feels wonderful! I love when I can mix work with pleasure, too—the two-day Christmas at the Inns was delightful, allowing me to photograph the Inns in all their Christmas splendour … and I was able to have some quality time plus a delicious meal with good friend. I’ve known this cool lady since we moved up into my little paradise—a good thirty-plus years! We have a mutual love for cars and photography, so it was natural to share the two days of fun with her.

There are a few more photography-rich events we are doing together, plus a concert before year’s end and I have a Writerly Christmas luncheon to attend, a sports car club Christmas luncheon, time with family, too … my social calendar is almost as crazy as my business calendar was earlier in the year.

It’s all about spending time with friends and family. Friends I’ve neglected through the year. I haven’t been quite so bad with immediate family—I’ve been able to spend time with my daughter and son-in-law fairly frequently. My brothers and their families … well, sadly, that’s something else again—with no one close by, it’s hard. Now … it’s time to catch up on all that has been going on—somehow.

The winding-down means I can relax, too. I can enjoy the holiday—my very favourite season. For me, it means Christmas lights, decorations, decorating the tree … giving of ones self. Nothing is rushed. Everything is savoured. Enjoyed. And lovingly shared. That’s the way is should be.

So, my friends, make sure to set aside time to truly enjoy the season—slow down, breathe. Fill yourself with the beauty of the time of year—whether it’s filled with snow, rain or sun … find it in you to be gentler, caring, giving. And forgiving.

May you find this day, this weekend and week to come blessed and filled with joy!


ON MY WAY TO FINDING A WEATHER station in Las Vegas, the new home of a friend of mine, I got sidetracked. I did find the proper station so I could follow the weather patterns, but also found myself reminiscing over long ago family trips.

Probably long before the “new” Highway 101 and 5 were well established, my dad used to drive us up and down the old two-lane Hyws 101, 99 and 395 to take us on our holiday-to-the-relatives and our annual vacations. In my wanderings with the map, many memories were triggered. So many. In the past, I’ve actually retraced—or at least tried to retrace my dad’s paths … trying to find any bit of the old roads. Using key landmarks helped, but even those finally disappeared in the name of progress. But lacking landmarks doesn’t stop me. I love poking into the corners of my past.

One path I have not tried—and there are so many memories attached to this route—is Highway 395. June Lake is somewhere off of Hwy 395 and there are some fond memories from that area—both with me as a kid and as a young wife with my husband and my youngest brother. My weather station hunting had me deciding to trace the road on the map to see how feasible it would be to make a trip. It begins just west of Hisperia in the high desert of Southern California, which is about 40 miles south of Barstow. It traverses the desert along the eastern edge of California and up into the mountains, jogging in and out of Nevada several times on its way up into Oregon. It dead ends the small town of Riley at the junction of Hwys 395 an20 (which travels east to west). Well, that’s what I thought. I went back to verify the name of that little town … and after a lot more searching, found that it actually dead ended in the city of Spokane, Washington near the surface streets of S. Lincoln St. and W. 4th Ave (sharing Hwy 90). Mind you, my recollections are that my dad only drove the California section—and only parts of that. I may be wrong … but I won’t know till I look at the map in more detail (was using my smart phone’s map app first, then focused on the route only, once I switched to the laptop computer)—I wasn’t looking at what was around the route.

But the entire route, my friends, is not a quick little jaunt—that amounts to a 1,170+ mile drive! So, if I decide to make it an adventure, I’ll probably stick to the California section. As it is, that will take quite some time—perhaps three separate trips. And, with winter setting in soon, the majority of it will need to wait til spring and summer—I do not have a snow-worthy vehicle. Sure—I’m capable of driving in snow … and I could get chains for the snowy bits, but I’d rather not deal with that much cold and be putting my safety in other driver’s hands (I know I can drive in it, but what about other tourists?) …

So, I will be writing a travel blog sometime next year (maybe) about mapping out the route, packing and the actual trip (I’m sure there will be plenty of photos to insert)—in addition to my “regular” trip blog about another travel across the Pond … this 2018 trip may be my “Swan Song”—the last trip to the UK and abroad, so I’m going to do it up right.

I’ve done so little traveling of late—I am getting restless. On Black Friday, I turned my errand-running into a driving adventure  I took back roads and routes I’ve seldom (if ever) taken to get to my destinations and had a blast—and the weather was magnificent. I’m thinking I need to do this more often—even once the rain begins to be a nuisance. Perhaps once a week will suffice. I’ll have to play with timing to see how it goes—I’m a big fan of spontaneity, so who knows when my next jaunt will be (insert huge grin …)

May your Friday, your weekend and the whole of next week be blessed with spontaneous happenings.


Thanksgiving …

(Written on 19Nov17)

I AWOKE SO EARLY THIS MORNING—so much earlier than necessary, that I realised I’d be able to catch the sunrise for the first time in such a very long time. I grabbed my robe and slippers, trod downstairs and started to brew my tea. I watched the pre-dawn light—first light—create beautifully contrasting dark and light grey shadows just outside my kitchen window. The few clouds hanging about looked like grey wisps against a lighter grey sky.
That made me smile—sunrises and sunsets are pretty, but clouds make for a more vibrant, colourful display.

As I waited, I sipped on my tea, contemplating this chilly morning hour. Why on Earth was I even awake? I didn’t have to be at the Aromas Grange until about 9:45–which means leaving about a half-hour before. Plenty of time to do everything needed with a normal 7:30-8am rise. So, why so early? There were some very logical reasons—among others: every day I’m feeling healthier, getting more restful sleep than I’ve had in ages—both give me more energy … but I don’t think that’s the entire picture.

I try (that is a key word …) to revolve my life around God—a God-centric, purposeful life. Trying to listen to what He wants me to do, how He wants me to act, what He wants me to say … keeping my mind open to His leading whilst going about my daily life. Sometimes I fail miserably … other times, I succeed. The way I try to interact and treat others is one of the successes. I think my fantasy series is another one of these successes. So is my photography. The majority of my images are of nature—plants, animals and landscapes. This is where I shine—because He leads me to the situations resulting in lovely shots.

But, just because it looks like I’ve got the camera in my face all the time does not mean the beauty that surrounds me escapes me. My mind, my heart—it takes it all in and I do a little dance of thanksgiving. It seems I am always doing this dance. What I see fills me with joy. Sometimes, the camera takes a nice shot but my heart says what I’m seeing is too beautiful to capture in a two dimensional image. So, I simply bring the camera to rest and breathe in the scene, enjoying it for what it is—a gift to behold, to wrap myself up in. And I thank Him for the delights He brings to me every day.

So this mornings early rise was one of His gifts—a sunrise I haven’t seen in so many years … all of the beautiful blushed pinks, reds and orange-yellows popping behind the dark oak tree silhouettes.

With all of the hustle and bustle in my life lately, my heart and mind needed to see something quietly inspiring. He always knows exactly what gift to give, just like so many other times before—wonderful one-on-one conversations with dear friends, seeing someone I haven’t seen in ages and having time to reminisce, does and bucks grazing in the yard, frisky little fawns frolicking, my mocking bird with new songs to share with me, an owl carrying a conversation with another in a nearby tree … magnificently delicate blooms to contemplate … and this morning, me being wonderfully present (both physically and mentally) when the beautiful, vibrant sunrise unfolded before me.

Thank you Lord for the splendiferous abundance of beauty you provide in my life—friends, experiences … it’s all in His timing, not mind.

May He bless you and your loved ones abundantly today, on Thanksgiving Day, and beyond.


Perfection … ?

NOWHERE IN THIS WORLD WILL YOU find a person that is perfect. Nope. Not anywhere. One can strive for perfection. One can attain a moment of perfection—like a tear drop in the ocean of life—one tiny moment. That’s all. Life is too messy for perfection. Those that continually attempt to achieve the impossible can find themselves very unhappy because it always remains just out of their reach. Does that mean we shouldn’t try? Oh, absolutely not—we must realise it is not something to attain, but rather, something to use as a goal … to continually strive toward.

For me? Well, I think I love the “messiness” of life. It creates challenges, discoveries and life lessons. Of course, there has been only one being that managed to achieve perfection. Only one—and it was not just anyone. I use His perfection is a goal—a goal I know I will never fully manage in this worldly life. But He knows that. We are all damaged goods, but He knows we are worth salvaging … worth saving, if we ask …

The messiness. I’m trying to figure out why I’m writing about this. It’s as plain as the nose on my face, right? My life is messy. Beautifully messy. And since I seem so disorganised of late, is everything around me is too (insert goofy grin). My home, yard, cars, my art and writing … it can be overwhelming. Honestly. But for some reason, it isn’t—once upon a time, it certainly was … but not now. Back when I was incapable of getting out into the yard to do the tiniest bit of cleanup or lacking the energy to do a simple pick-up around the house, or even put words on a page—oh, yes. That was overwhelming. Emotionally and physically. Thankfully, now my energy and strength is returning—finally (aaah, insert Snoopy’s happy dance here!!) I have been in the yard and puttering around the house all the time. Creativity abounds. Words flow. Still messy, but delightfully so.

The mess created over the last two years is mountainous—but I’m finding as long as I keep going (and with the occasional help of a team of gardeners), it gets better looking, which encourages me to do even more. Weird, but it’s the visual accomplishments—improvements—that keep me at it. The pressure is off (but not forgotten)—where fire safety is concerned—rain has quelled that. I’m past the “ugh—I need to get out of this mess (read: MOVE!) and start over”—I’m so glad to have moved beyond that horrible feeling of frustration. And, finally, my mind is beginning to move beyond “what’s next/now what?” to “how can I improve/beautify?” Ideas are pouring into my mind from who knows where. It’s exciting.

My messy life extends into every corner of my creativity. I find myself (finally) back to seriously working on all three of my Writerly projects—book one’s edit (so it can be republished with Inknbeans Press), book four’s edit (so it can finally be published … and book five (I am progressing in it nicely—it is an exciting “chapter” in the series). The life lessons continue through the series … and I still don’t know what the final book will be—book six? Book seven? Only my characters know for sure. They’ll clue me in at some point—hopefully.

Even my Painterly side seems to be re-ignited. I’ve acquired a new, much larger printer so I can make larger pieces of art—that definitely excites me (still have to figure out out to set it up, but that’s half the fun, right?)—I can hardly wait to begin playing with it. The funny thing is, there are only two more events (one this weekend and one the second week of December), so there’s no way I’m going to produce any new material for this year’s events. The nice thing is, that doesn’t really bother me. The important thing is that I’m re-energised … on fire. And I’m loving it!

The end of November and the whole of December are times of renewal for me … I do have personal (fun) commitments—parties, family events and outings with friends, both day and night. I am so ready to get back to being normal … it has taken two long years. God is good … especially when I remember all things can be done and will happen—in His time, not mine. So … I’m not going to waste a moment.

In the meantime, my dear readers, try not to stress over the upcoming holidays … just be in the moment, take in the joy where you can and shake off the craziness that others try to foist upon you. There is so much to be thankful for. Start counting all of those little things that help you get through each day … have a blissful, blessed Thanksgiving with family and friends, and I’ll see you just after Thanksgiving—no Black Friday for me. Maybe I’ll wander around Point Lobos or venture down into Big Sur—it’s opened partway, so it would be nice to see the area again!

And readers—watch out. Keep an eye out for New Things in the New Year.

Book Signings and Art at Craft Fairs

Saturday-Sunday 18-19 November 10am-4pm
Aromas Grange, Aromas CA

Thursday-Friday 7-8 December 10am-4pm
Watsonville Community Hospital, Watsonville CA




Keep On Keeping On …

LOOKS LIKE MY WEEKEND NOVEMBER calendar is filled to the brim. Between Joyce and me finding things, just about the only weekend without a book signing is the weekend following Thanksgiving Day (I’ve never been keen about taking part in the Black Friday/Weekend frenzy) … at least I think we’re not doing anything—insert eye roll here … haha. I’ve actually found one more—up in Morgan Hill (another new one for both of us)—for December 9th … but I’ve just realised I already have a commitment that day. So, I’ll be chatting with Joyce to see if she will be doing it. We’ll do it next year—each of us have personal things already on the calendar. Sigh (whew!)

October ended up not being as busy as anticipated—the events didn’t get us applications soon enough, so we missed the deadlines. In a way, that was good—it allowed me to work on getting the yard squared away … still not CalFire compliant, but getting closer.

We’ve already had a little rain (not enough to dampen the level of fire hazard, so I keep on keeping on … working toward full compliance. But life is going to get very crazy with the book signing weekends, so I’ll have to focus on working in the yard during the week … and hopefully not maim myself too bad (teehee)!

So, here I am—into the second week of November. This weekend event begins on Friday 1pm-6pm at Watsonville Elks and it goes from 10am until 4pm on Sat, and 10am-3pm on Sunday. You can always check the dates and times at my Amazon Author’s page.

Next week the craziness begins on Saturday at the Aromas Grange, 10am. Right now, I need to put some finishing touches on what to take to Watsonville.

This is a brief blog post—wow … what a change! Kinda nice change—the reason is, I spent all of yesterday doing everything but work on my blog. And here it is, nearly 9am PST—which, by the way, I am loving being back on standard time!—and I’ve not yet posted …

My friends … I hope your Friday is blessed beyond belief, as will your weekend and week to come. Have an awesome day!


WHEN I WAS A YOUNG ADULT, ONE of my younger brothers was called a Pollyanna by some family members. I’ve even called him that (to others—not sure if I’ve ever told him to his face). I’m not sure how he is viewed by the outside world. He’s had plenty of hardships, but he always managed to spin them positively when we were talking with him—he still does.

I’ve always been an optimistic person—for as long as I can remember, so I think I’m a bit of a Pollyanna myself—none of my other brothers have called me that to my face (but then, I don’t know if they’ve ever told my younger brother to his face either—always was behind his back with other family members). I’m forever looking at things positively (yeah, I do grumble a bit now and then, but I usually turn it around to a more positive attitude—eventually). I can’t help but have a positive outlook—God is with me and no matter how bad it gets, there always seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel I can crawl towards.

I presumed, the way people used the term (usually rolling their eyes when said) that is was more of a negative thing—that the person had blinders on, not thinking straight—not looking at the whole picture. My computer dictionary defines Pollyanna as: “an excessively cheerful or optimistic person”. I don’t see anything wrong with that. I guess it really depends on what you consider excessive, doesn’t it? So, I went a wee bit further and clicked on the definition of excessive: “more than is necessary, normal, or desirable; immoderate.” Giggle … that led me to the definition for immoderate: “not sensible or restrained; excessive”. Then I turned to the online Merriam/Webster version. It defines Pollyanna as: “a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything.” I like that even more.

Well … I guess I’m found guilty. To the average person, I definitely fit into that category, but I do not see it as a negative—not one bit. Pollyanna (and all that the dictionary espouses) is just a worldly view of life. A view that makes many uncomfortable watching. For me, it’s more like I’m filled with joy. Cutting to the chase, my computer’s definition of joy is: “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” Merriam-Webster’s definition?
“1 a :the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires :delight
b :the expression or exhibition of such emotion :gaiety
2 :a state of happiness or felicity :bliss (complete happiness)
3 :a source or cause of delight”

Merriam/Webster’s version is the true Me. I’m overflowing with Joy. When I’ve apologised to friends for the over-exuberance (especially my giggles and laughing), they tell me they love it—it leaves them feeling better, so please don’t stop! Knowing that has helped me know it’s not an irritant to others—I’m simply sharing my Joy with others!

There are always going to be good and bad days, but how I view each day … each hour is the big thing (at least for me). When I’m down, nothing seems to go right. The moment I lighten up and think more positively—the joyous feeling returns. The Bible’s got it right:
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Phillippians 4:8
When I do that, things start to turn around (insert glowing smile …).

… and, as usual, this is not where I’d planned on taking this blog (not sure exactly where I was headed, but not down this path …) But all of my writing is guided—it sure took me a very long time to realise that and I am very much okay with it. Apparently this is what I needed to talk about today. So, I do hope this has inspired you in some way. If nothing else, it’s been a reminder for me to be more focused on what really counts in life—not all of the people-bashing, doom and gloom, and nay-sayers that is permeating the media. I’ll stand firm in my beliefs, stay positive and spread my joy. How about you?

May this day, this weekend and coming week find you blessed with abundant joy.

Black and White

I’VE BEEN WATCHING FRIENDS ON FB posting black and white images as part of a 7-day black and white photo challenge. Beautiful images. Some telling. Some everyday life shots. So, I decided to do it on my personal FB page … and then decided to do it on my Painterly FB business page (didn’t plan that one quite right—wanted my pumpkins to appear on the 31st … but that’s okay).

Friday is the last day on my Painterly page. The personal page challenge was done on Monday. Now, so you don’t need to search my personal or Painterly page, I’ve decided to post the combination of personal and business images … and maybe add more—just for you. I’ve posted them in no particular order.

Please remember all of these images are my property. No copying nor sharing of any of them is allowed without my written permission.


7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge

7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge

7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge

7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge

… and last, but not least and still six days away from 7-Day Black and White ChallengeHalloween (but it is now harvest time, so still works). Now, I need to add a few more from my archives … this is fun!

More Black and White More Black and White More Black and White More Black and White

More Black and White More Black and White

More Black and White … and that’s all folks.

I wish you all well this Friday … and over the weekend and the next week. Take time to pause and look around you. There is so much for you to see—whether it’s people watching, bird watching, savouring the beautiful flower in peoples’ gardens (or even at the local garden shop), feeling the wind in your face.

Take it in. Let it revive you. Enjoy. May this week be blessed and filled to overflowing with serendipitous (yes, I love this word) joy.

Yard Work and Accomplishments

ITS BEEN A QUIET WEEK, DESPITE the busyness of preparing for the book signing/art show at Harvest Jubilee in Salinas over last weekend. Sunday was supposed to be a “chill” day, but I had enough energy reserves, I decided to putter in my yard.

You really cannot truly appreciate the results of the work done in my yard by the three guys that worked their tails off a week ago. I’m embarrassed to post any photos to show how much was done, but let’s just say that all they had to deal with was the results of not being able to do much for about two years! There’s still tons of work to do, but things look so good, I’m thinking that alone has given me quite a bit of energy!

Our tinder-dry state (plus the urgings from CalFire to bring my property into compliance)—and the horrific fires we are experiencing both north and south of us are incentive enough to get things cleaned up. I need to call my gardener and find out when they will return to continue the cleanup process. In the meantime, I’m in the yard as often as possible, cleaning up what I can. And it’s nice to be able to really see the fruits of my labour. Gives me the incentive to get back out and keep working. Ooh, and it is a very good feeling. I’ve even taken the time to finally pot a few of the plants that have languished in their tiny containers. I’ve pulled others to safety from potential browsing by my resident deer (my bunny condo has been turned into a safety zone for my plants for now), placed a wire guard over a raised bed—after taking a ton of mulch and dumping it into the bed, adding a few onions that ended up “passed edible usage”, but were still producing greens (yum) and, well, in general I’ve been busy making the yard more presentable between weeding stints.

My yard is a work in progress—just like I am (insert huge grin …)—it will take many more trips to the dump (yard waste and trash), lots of fighting with poison oak (ugh … not me—unfortunately my gardener and his crew get that privilege). Oh—and there’s the pruning of trees (they must have no branches hanging down lower than 6-8 feet). Hand saw is not going to do the job—at least not in my hands (pout) …

I’m falling in love with my yard all over again. Wheeee! Even when I have it back to within CalFire’s guidelines … I’ll keep going, bringing it back to its former glory—including a koi pond … a real one, not the “temporary” small trough I have been using for sooo maaany years. That’s the plan … and I’m sticking to it! I’m so tickled with the progress that I’m still trying to decide—I’ve such a roller coaster of emotions about this—whether I put off traveling abroad one more year so I can get this vision of what the yard will be done … I’m so conflicted! I’ll have to decide soon. I will send my money in for the CIV tour and keep planning for the other parts of it. I’ll just need to keep an eye on the deadline for withdrawing from the tour so I don’t lose the money … again!

May each of you have an amazing weekend and may this upcoming week unfold serendipitously (sniggle … Word’s dictionary doesn’t like that word—too bad!)! Have a great week!

Don’t forget to check the updated events calendar (at the bottom of my Amazon Author’s page):
Next event is Saturday, November 4, 2017 in Aptos, CA

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

THE INDIE AUTHORS DAY ON 7 OCTOBER 2017 was a great Indie Authors Day Program experience for me. When I signed up for it, I thought I was just going to be sitting in the audience taking in all the wisdom of others … I didn’t really realise I had signed up to be a panelist—to pass my wisdom (insert seriously huge eye roll) on to others.

If you’ve been following my blog posts, you know that once I’ve committed to something, I will not back out unless I’m seriously ill or on my deathbed. A commitment is a commitment. That’s all there is to it. So, this deer-in-the-headlights panicked for a few minutes, then remembered something I’d told myself so many years ago—”I can do anything I put my mind to …” (later, I’d added “… with God’s help”). I’d always told people that I loved a challenge (and this definitely qualified). Taking a deep breath, I took the challenge and had a blast—even if I

Meeting Authors

Yours truly and Linda Lamb

may not have been the most knowledgeable person on the panel. I met plenty of people, was able to help (with info and advice) a young teen writer a bit, plus I handled most questions gracefully and with a reasonable amount of knowledge (yay!) …

When it was over, there was definitely a sigh of relief—I’d done it and was glad I’d stuck it out.

Since my husband passed away, I’ve found myself in many such situations like this and each one has helped me grow—in confidence, knowledge and self-esteem (I had come a long way from my very poor self-esteem as a child and young adult, but still carry doubts of my abilities). It also reinforced my integrity. In this last “experiment”, when asked where my ideas came from, I actually dared to step outside the safety of just spewing facts, to announce that “my characters run the show” (something I’ve obviously said before) … but that those characters are, in fact, God directing my story the way He wants it to go, not where I want it to go. That was the first time I’ve ever said that—outside the relative safety of this blog site or to friends. One of the other panelists came up to me afterwards and said she loved that I stated that my story is faith (aka: God)-driven, and that it took courage to say it in front of a crowd. A little growth spurt. And that this particular panelist, whom I grew to admire for her wisdom and skill whilst she passed along information to the audience, made the observation the proverbial “icing on the cake.”

Life is too short to not accept these challenges that are thrown before us. Stepping outside our comfy little world helps stretch our skills and confidence. I used to hate talking in front of people—we had to do it in my 6th grade class all the way through high school—I became a shrinking violet … stuttering, mixing up my words. Horrible. Yet, as a fourty-something mother, I finally managed to engage children by creating spontaneous short stories in front of them (prior to this, I had an awful time even reading stories aloud to my daughter—I didn’t want my dyslexia to show what an awful reader I was.) “Oh, they’re easy to talk and read to,” you say … um, I disagree. Some of them can be pretty tough critics. But I learned by challenging myself—one little stepping stone at a time, till eventually, I was able to stand up in front of larger groups … and larger … until I, heart in my throat, stood up in front of a bunch of seasoned authors a couple of years ago and read a selection from my first book. I was scared to death that I’d mess up in my reading and forgot to mention the title (such a basic—eye roll here) … and that my humble story wasn’t good enough for this awesome collection of people. I didn’t die, or even melt into a puddle on the floor. I made it through unscathed. Rattled, but unscathed. And, discovered many of them even enjoyed the story. Another little growth spurt.

So, my friends, don’t cloister yourselves—take on challenges. Perhaps small at first, but allow yourself the luxury of experimenting with larger challenges. And larger still. Try new things. Travel—with friends or on your own—it’s a awesome experience— and “grows” you in so many ways (check out the bogs I’ve written about traveling with people and on my own). Start writing that book you keep talking about.

As one shoe maker states, “Just do it” … never let failure of a challenge defeat you. It’s simply a learning tool to help you do better the next time.

So, until next week, I bid you adieu—have a blessed week. For the locals, perhaps you would be interested in stopping by Compass Church in Salinas on Saturday, 14 October for their annual craft fair—Joyce Oroz and I will be set up (against the south wall in the main building) with her mystery series and my fantasy series … plus my photography, photopolymer etched prints and other bits of art.

Harvest Jubilee 2017

National Novel Writing Month 2017

YES, IT IS THAT TIME OF YEAR again—literally just around the corner (yikes!)—well, four weeks away to be exact, but the way my timeline seems to fly, it might as well be  NaNoWriMo 2017 Projecttomorrow (sniggle). I’m wanting to get my book five finished pronto, so what better way than to be in a one-month pressure cooker? (click on image to see the whole thing)

I hope it works, because I’m so close to finishing the edit on book four (doing a happy dance—I know y’all are saying “It’s about time!”) and I’d like to have book five roll out (published) no more than six months after book four. I can’t say why (spoilers!), but there’s a good reason … honest.

For those of you unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo (the acronym for National Novel Writing Month), this is an annual online event held from November 1-30 and the goal is to write a novel—50,000 words—in that allotted time. It spills over into the real world in the form of writers and writer-wanna-bees (NOT meant—in any way, shape, or form—as a derogatory statement) meeting in groups to encourage each other, answer questions and create challenges to help move each person closer to the 50,000 word goal.

So many people have told me they’ve got an idea for a story—when they say that, I tell them to stop putting it off—get it on paper (or in digital form). A little bit a day. But I also tell them about NaNoWriMo, since it’s an excellent way to dive into writing.

For the uninitiated, 50,000 words seems daunting. But if broken down into smaller “bites,” that is 1,667 words a day, which is only a little over 208 words an hour (for 8 hours a day)—or 417 words per hour for four hours a day. Now, that’s not so hard, is it? And if you feel you have no clue where to start, NaNoWriMo has a page just for you—Pep Talks are inspirational letters written by well-known authors during NaNoWriMo just for you. They’ll be delivered to your NaNoWriMo inbox throughout NaNoWriMo season, ready to inspire you, motivate you, and keep you writing all month long. Sooo … stop draggin’ your feet and check it out!

NaNoWriMo changed the rules a couple of years ago, making it an awesome tool for those of us in the middle of a manuscript (a work in process—WIP) that needed a little boost to take it to the finish line. Instead of something completely new, they allowed writers to start where their WIP “ended” … and made it easier for those writing poetry, too—though I’m not terribly familiar with those changes since I seldom play with poetry.

For those of you that are interested in giving it a go—you do know … you do not need to make that 50,000 word goal to benefit from this month-long exercise—you can click on this link (to NaNoWriMo’s site) to check it out. The simple act of starting to put your thoughts on paper is an amazing feeling. You can create an outline, choose characters, situations, etc. prior to November first (that is permitted)—or like me, just start writing (I’m what they call a Panster—I write as the story comes to me … outlines don’t work with me), but don’t start to write the story until midnight of October 31st! Anything written before that time cannot be counted (that includes those of us with unfinished WIPs).

Sign up today. Start planning now. Read the website’s helpful hints … and above all, have fun with it—explore your mind for ideas.


LIFE IS INTERESTING. Especially the phases. You know … the phases you go through on the way to becoming an adult.

For example: I’ve always had a fascination with colours. Always. I think the fascination came from my mom—she was forever changing the colour of accent pieces in whatever house we lived in at the moment. Pinks and sky-blues were her thing. I have a lovely hutch that my parents took with them on all of their moves that has layer upon layer of paint (blue, pink … and white layers—I see it in the chipped spots). I’m reluctant to strip down that precious history to the beautiful oak woodwork … and it actually makes me giggle, because my parents (oh, lets be real—my mom) purchased a painted player piano that needed refinishing. Why the giggles? Because there was overwhelming and unsightly evidence of layer upon layer of paint. And when my mom started the stripping process, she couldn’t believe it when she found a few wallpaper layers amidst the layers of paint. Aghast at the thought of wallpaper and paint on a piano, she ranted about it. How could they?? But, I’ll ask how is that different from painting layer upon layer onto perfectly good oak wood?

I don’t think I remember much in the way of colour preferences before middle school—or maybe it was high school. Not sure. I had a phase where just about everything I possessed (even the walls of my room) was lavender. Then, I kept the lavender walls and accented with orange. And I mean bright, eye-blinding orange. Then I mixed a psychedelic checker-board black wallpaper onto a tall dresser (no squares or even rectangles–all parallelograms) with all of that—it was the sixties, after all …

Orange stayed with me for quite some time—even as a young adult. Orange and brown tones dominated my space. Then suddenly (well, it seems that way in my recollections) … pinks overtook and replaced the orange tones. Then purple, then back to pink.

One day, I sat back and looked at the collection of colours around me—pinks and blues—and I developed a serious case of the giggles. Had I finally become the “mother’s daughter”—taking on her preferences? No, I don’t think so, but those colours do dominate my surroundings—with splashes of red, browns … and purple.

My flower gardens blooms are pinks, reds and blues. Pots are blue, burnt red-orange … and green. It has to be the “right” green to set foot in my life. I tolerate oranges, but only little splashes—though I do find I like earthy tones more around Halloween and reds—lots of reds—around Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

So, are my phases becoming seasonal? I’m not sure … and I’m not sure it even matters.

I watch one of my very talented cousins, Elaine Dunham, play so freely with colour—very abstractly—and am so amazed at her final products. I’ve not been a fan of abstract art, but watching how she gets to the finished image has be appreciating it a bit more. And most of them (in my opinion) are lovely! If you are interested in abstracts, here’s a link to her work. There’s some amazing stuff there! 10/11/17 Note: She’s just added another link to her ello account.

So … I’ve started to pay closer attention to what I’m doing colour-wise—I’m still a seat-of-the-pants artisan … whether in Writerly or Painterly mode, but now I see that I need to be more mindful, even when I’m being spontaneous.

This little spontaneous trip down memory lane was fun! I find it fun to walk some of the corridors of my mind and peek through doors and windows to see what’s there. How about you? Can you tell me—and please be honest—what some of your phases were as you navigated life?

Oh … by the way—autumn is here (well, if in southern hemisphere, it’s spring, isn’t it?) and I’ve been glass pumpkin hunting to add to my collection. Enjoy the season!

Waterlogue-Glass Pumpkins

Click on it to see entire image

Secrets Beyond Scymaria—Books Four and Five

AAAH … I PROMISED YOU A SNEAK PEEK, didn’t I! Well I’ve got goodies for you—two snippets from two different works in progress (WIP). One is from Book Four, Mischiefmaker. I beg you … please remember—I’m still editing, so neither is perfect. But it’s getting there … very quickly (which makes me a happy camper). The other is from Catalyst (a working title … not sure it’s right—but then again, the story’s not done yet either. It may be perfect! Time will tell). Please remember: it is a work in progress, so no editing has been done.

So, without further delay, here are the snippets:

“Oh…be quiet, Amy. No, I didn’t know,” he sputtered between coughs, trying to clear his lungs of apple juice. “I’ve never had that happen before. I’m sure I’ve eaten one lying down before … I’m sure.” His coughing fits settled as he asked if she had any water bottles in her bag, remembering the sloshing sounds he’d heard as she ran off.
“Yeah. I was just about to grab one.” She passed a bottle to him as he cleared his throat.
“Thanks.” He closed his eyes and shook his head, thinking how stupid it had been. Great way to impress a girl … he took a chug of water and immediately felt better. Clearing his throat once more, “Thanks. Okay. I feel better now.” He could still feel a bit of heat under his collar and wondered if his face was red. “How embarrassing. I’m sorry.”
“For what? That was a great mood lifter. Really. I haven’t laughed much since … since our graduation night, so it felt good. I should be thanking you.” Ty could see a twinkle in her eye and a hint of a smile register on her face then it turned somber. Watch out. Somebody at eleven o’clock!
Pretending to shift his backpack to his left, he looked up to see a man headed for them, waving. He didn’t recognize him at all. Do I know him? Wonder why I didn’t feel his presence? Who could this be? He started to call out for Rocky, but decided he needed to handle it himself, after all, he thought, we’re supposed to be dealing with everyday life on our own, right?
Right…oops. Wasn’t that directed at me? Sorry.
Well, yeah. Sorta. No apology necessary. Who do you think he is?
No clue.
The man continued to walk across the Green, with very deliberate strides and with purpose, toward the two as the sat on the grass, watching him approach.
“Hello, there! I’m new in town and just found this amazing park. Isn’t it beautiful?” The two kids stared up at him, dumbfounded. “I’m sorry—my name’s Ian—Ian Woon.” Bending down, he held out his hand, waiting for one or both to respond to his handshake.
Only the boy responded, politely parroting his name. “Hullo, Mr. Ian Woon.” Stealing a glance at his friend, he said no more.
Perhaps I’m being too forward—maybe I shouldn’t press the matter. Clearing his throat, he decided a correction was in order. “Actually, it’s Professor Woon. I’m going to head up the Biology Department at the college. A friend of mine told me this town is ripe for the picking—I mean to say, as a biology professor, there’s plenty of parks for me to use as a lab for my students, so I thought I’d check them out.”
He couldn’t understand why the girl went pale. “Are you okay, young lady? You’re not looking very well.” The boy turned to check on her again and then they politely excused themselves, quickly packing up their things and giving a polite, but distant good bye before disappearing into the bushes.
As they walked away, he chuckled. “Hmm. Wonder what I interrupted.” He looked around and sighed. “Which way do I go next? Two parks down. The professor said this town had an overabundance of parks and ponds. Now, where’s that map?” As he searched his pockets, he pondered what he’d found so far. The peculiar flora and fauna he’d seen fascinated him. Nothing extraordinary, he thought, but not the normal things you’d expect to see in the region. No wonder Professor Larkin was so obsessed with the parks. Too bad he’s losing his job. Well, his loss is my gain. Wonder what else I’ll find next. He studied his map for a moment, and then folded it up neatly, returning it to his pocket. There should be a pond just beyond these bushes …

Okay. That’s all of book four. Sound interesting? Hope so. Now on to book five:

“Y-yikes! What on earth was that?” Shaking her arm, she then examined it for any physical damage and shuddered at the pin-prickly feelings that lingered.
“What’s the matter?” Ty’s face was furrowed with concern. His hands immediately took hold of her arm.
“I … I thought something was raking up against my arm—like it was trying to keep me from going through. Like it was … was trying to grab at me with something sharp. I was almost through before—when you pulled me back a few minute ago and it was fine—what changed?” Her mind was in complete confusion. That insistent urge to go across to Scymaria was still present pressing at her very core of her being, but the reaction by the portal made her question if it was that smart of an idea. “I dunno. Maybe it’s not such a good idea to go, but I still have an overwhelming need to do it …” Looking at her friends for advise, she continued. “I don’t think Rocky would pull a stunt like that if he didn’t want us to use the portal … but, well, maybe?”
“No, the Guardian would not do that. He would never harm anyone.” Raf stood tall, with shoulders squared, facing them as he defended his mentor. “No. There is something else at work here. Something that we must investigate. I cannot sense the Guardian any longer—it is as if something is blocking his communication with me.” He screwed up his face in determination. “This … this is very hard for me. I have always sensed his presence. Always. The moment we pulled Amy back, I began to feel his presence ebbing—becoming very hard to hear. There was no warning from the Guardian.” His hands, palms flat, pressed against the portal, searching this way and that. “There must be a way.”
Amy felt Ty’s gentle pull on her still-tingling arm, guiding her away from the portal as Raf explored its surface. She stepped back, allowing their friend more room to probe with hands and mind—she could hear him imploring his mentor to intervene, to give him guidance. In her minds eye, she could see everything he did. Surprised that he did this openly, she watched and listened, observing in silence as she stood next to Ty, hoping he would succeed. But, what then? What are we to do once we can get to Scymaria? These thoughts repeated themselves, over and over as she watched Raf try to break through.
Now! Come now. We must go through together, quickly! The thought exploded in her mind as she grappled with her own thoughts. She could feel hands grabbing her as they all plunged through the portal. Again, she could feel the raking against her body as they made their way through. Perhaps not as noticeable, but it made her shudder, nonetheless. Will we be able to get back through? She broadcast those thoughts for both her friends to hear. Not wanting to think about the dire consequences if they were unsuccessful, they plowed ahead into Scymaria, anxious to see the bright blue skies and the colorful flower-peppered fields with the magnificent forest and mountains arching around and over them. Even if they are dangerous, I have a feeling, what I’m sensing is far …
She wasn’t able to finish her thought. Every sense was slammed with an overpowering feeling of dread as she broke through into their wonderful world of Scymaria. A place where nothing but beauty abound. Ty’s mother had called it Eden and she had agreed.
Her breath caught in her throat as she took in what lay before her. “Oh no—it can’t be.”

So … I’ve gone waaay over my usual word count, but it couldn’t be helped if I was to put both into one blog post. I certainly hope you’ve enjoyed these little snippets.

That’s all for now. May your Friday, weekend and week to follow be blessed.

Books, Fairs and A Bit More …

OH, MY. A BUSY AND INTERESTING week with a new venue for Joyce Oroz and I. The Cesar Chavez Library’s Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smith's tableFirst Salinas Book Fair was a hit with the locals—mostly Hispanic, with the two of us sticking out like sore thumbs. All announcements were made bilingually; most of the authors spoke Spanish, and many of their books were written in Spanish. It took us very little time to realise it wasn’t exactly the best fit for us, but we made sure we had dj jameson smith at the First Salinas Book Fairfun and each of us did make a few sales. It was fun meeting many of the authors—and quite a few of them, including yours truly and Joyce, had to read from their books. Aaack! I’ve only done that once before—in front of a bunch of teens (tough audience). Well, I did okay … and Joyce did too. Reading a selected bit from the book gave the audience (aka: readers or parents of readers) a chance to hear what many of the books were like, then come to the booths and get more information … or better yet, make a purchase.

Now, Joyce and I have a bit of a respite from our books—well, at least I do. I’ll be taking some “personalOne Big Pile of Weeds To Go Please ... time” for the next two weekends. On the week days, I’m trying to fulfill CalFire’s requirements to make my property fire safe. I’m making progress … slowly. Weeds, dead trees and branches … ugh. I’m looking forward to my weekends—I’ve decided to pop over to Carmel Valley to check out (and probably purchase) a few glass pumpkins. I’ve found myself collecting them (insert eye-roll)—just what I need! They are so gorgeous—I want to buy, buy, buy—but they are also a little on the pricey side.

Anyway, not only am I doing that stroll amongst pumpkins, Tiger Lily and Peter Pan from Forest Theatre, Carmelbut I’m also going to see the play, Peter Pan, at the Forest Theatre—an outdoor theatre (a very cool theatre)—in Carmel with a friend and her kids. I know I’ll have fun—no matter what the weather (I always come prepared)!

The following weekend will be another double-header for me. On the calendar for ages is the Alzheimer’s Walk—the only one I’ll be able to attend will be held in Aptos at the Walk to End Alzheimerslovely Seascape Resort. Depending on how I feel, I’ll either walk the full 2-3 mile walk—which includes a bit of a walk on sand with Taiko drumerss at the turn-around point (love, love, love Taiko drums!!) or I might do the short circuit if I’m not feeling up to par. Either way I am going to have a wonderful time, walking for a cause that is near and dear to me. For those of you that don’t know, my dad had Alzheimer’s Disease. To find out more about this devastating disease, go to my personal page or to the Alzheimers.org page.

I did say it was a double-header, didn’t I? Well, after the walk, I’ll be jumping in my car and traveling up to Los Gatos for their annual Magical Glass Pumpkin Patch event (yes, My Glass Pumpkins Are Lonesome ...more glass pumpkins!). I’ve never been, but one of my friends brings home a number of exquisite pumpkins for me to choose from. I decided this year, I’d go there in person. I just hope the drive up will be enough to re-coup my energy, because I believe there will be plenty of walking involved!

Next week, I believe I’ll be giving you a sneak peek—snippets from two stories in my series: Book Four, Mischiefmaker and Book Five, Catalyst (working title). I’m all excited about these two books. It’s hard to edit my first book, knowing I’ve got the edit for book four waiting (I have been working on it, but bouncing back and forth between two edits makes my head spin) and book five wanting completion.

With that said, I do believe it’s time to say Belladonna Lily (Naked Lady)good-bye for the week … I’ll leave you with one last photo. A beautiful pink flower (Belladonna Lily—aka: Naked Lady). I wish you all a wonderful and blessed Friday and weekend. Enjoy!