Autumnal Life Along the Coast

WELL … TUESDAY I BROKE DOWN and turned the heater on. I’m such a cheapskate (I’m part Scot, after all ) and figure I can handle the cold—not! In the house, the temp has only made it up to 57F all week … and temps outside have been relatively low.  With my wonky thyroid and the chilly temps not making it much over 60F, it was time. Oh, so time!

I still don’t have it turned up a huge amount— it was on a 55F hold and I only popped it up to 62F for now (… well, maybe it went up to 65 a couple of times). The set-back kicks in around nine AM (to around 59F), so I’ll be manually tapping it up every day as needed. If I’m not here, I bring it back down to the low setting till I get back.

So … our cold weather has begun. Not that far into autumn and the nip in the air has definitely settled in. That means my persimmons will ripen before Thanksgiving Day, which is a big “YAY”! My trademark persimmon puddings will begin showing up. That makes me happy! I’m hoping that rain is not far behind. There have been taunts in the forecast of 50% chance of rain mid- to late-week on Thanksgiving week. It keeps getting moved back, closer and closer to the weekend. When it does that, it’s almost guaranteed to peter out to nothing but a drizzle at best <pout>.

No rain forecast for this weekend, so we should have a good turnout for the Aromas Hills Artisans’ Holiday Arts Festival. I was hoping to take my lattice display so I could hang my framed work, but the location we (Joyce Oroz and yours truly) ended up with does not allow it. All I can manage is my bin art and note cards scrunched down into one small space—along with my three books, hopefully only taking up about 1/3 of an 8 foot table. Joyce has thirteen books in her Josephine Stuart Mystery series. plus her husband’s historical fiction tale, Okinawa Moon … and her new childrens’ book—it is a series (of one, so far, but she is working on the second in the series) about problems children might encounter—from a dog’s point of view. Definitely cute, definitely helpful. But we are outgrowing sharing a table at the rate she’s writing—and by next year, I should have my fourth (Mischiefmaker) book published and ready for reader-consumption. Maybe I’ll even have book five (The Catalyst) if I do things right! I’m progressing nicely on book five—using November’s NaNoWriMo to keep me motivated <insert huge grin> With all of these books, we may need to consider our own tables for future events.

Not to boast, but this weekends event is definitely a quality-affair. The artisans participating are excellent—if not masters—in their craft. I try not to compare myself to any other artisan … I always feel their work is so much better than mine, but they keep reminding me comparison is not the proper way to judge one work over another. I’ll keep telling myself that (this is a good example of how authors, artists and crafters feel about their own work—always trying to compare to another persons’ work).

In any case, with Thanksgiving nearly upon us and the last two events (for me) looming, I wish you a delightful weekend and Thanksgiving feast … enjoy time together, find things to be thankful for. Be sure there is gratitude in your attitude. Until next week … gobble-gobble-gobble <wink!>

Upcoming Events

Sat/Sun 17-18 November 10am-4pm both days
Aromas Hills Artisans’ Holiday Art Festival
400 Rose, Aromas CA
This is an event you won’t want to miss. Aromas Hills Artisans’ annual Holiday Art Festival, held at the Grange features quality hand crafted items, arts/craft demonstrations, raffle and food, plus a warm fire to sit by as you nibble on your purchased items.
Joyce Ororz and dj jameson smith will have their mystery and fantasy books for sale, plus dj will have her photography and art available.
Free Entry

Thurs/Fri 29-30 November 10am-5pm both days
Watsonville Community Hospital Emergency Dept
75 Neilson Street, Watsonville
Larger than ever with a few of the AHA members selling their wares for the first time, this will be a fun event to explore all of the arts, crafts … and books. Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smith will be there with their mystery and fantasy series.
Free entry.

 

 

Killing Time and Art

IT’S BEEN “ONE OF THOSE MONTHS” (and then some) … as I waited for technicians to show up, I keep trying to get into Facebook to post a Friday blog. I made the mistake of starting an update for Facebook on Thursday. Unfortunately, without WiFi, it apparently hung up and I’m not able to get out of the update process on my iPhone (believe me—I tried everything I could think of … pout).

Anyway, whilst I waited (they weren’t due till a 3-4pm window) … I found things to keep me occupied (not things on my “To Do” list, of course <giggle> but things that bring me joy). I’ve a ton of photos on my iPhone, so I decided to go into it and play with one of my apps.

It really is amazing what the different types of watercolour applications do to a photo. The app I usually end uo using is called Waterlogue—I’ve talked about it before. There are quite a few different styles to chose from: Vibrant, Natural, Bold, Luminous; “It’s Technical” and “Streamlined” (basically “It’s Technical” without the graphed background); Travelogue, Rainy; Illustration, Soaked, Shallow; Color Bloom, Fashionable and Blotted. I find that, depending on the photo, not every technique “works” the same. Some I love, some do absolutely nothing for the image and others … well, there’s always the middle of the road, eh? Here are examples of each with one shot of a succulent—you be the judge. Which do you like:

Waterlogue 1.4.1 (116)
Preset Style = Blotted
Lightness = Auto-Exposure
Size = Medium
Border = No Border

Waterlogue 1.4.1 (116)
Preset Style = Fashionable
Lightness = Auto-Exposure
Size = Medium
Border = No Border

Waterlogue 1.4.1 (116)
Preset Style = Color Bloom
Lightness = Auto-Exposure
Size = Medium
Border = No Border

I’m glad I’m slowly getting my creative juices flowing again <insert warm fuzzy feelings>. In my playing around, I managed to accumulate nearly 200 altered images—images I will eventually download onto my desktop (it has a ginormous screen so I can easily see things in great detail—but even that one is having problems … I am feeling so technologically handicapped—so, so much, that it is starting to wear me down). Each will be scrutinised to determine whether they will end up as note cards, framed photos, photopolymer prints or tossed in the art bin. Sigh—I know, I know. I still have all of my travel photos to go through. I am working on them, but need to

Waterlogue 1.4.1 (116)
Preset Style = Shallow
Lightness = Auto-Exposure
Size = Medium
Border = No Border

Waterlogue 1.4.1 (116)
Preset Style = Soaked
Lightness = Auto-Exposure
Size = Medium
Border = No Border

Waterlogue 1.4.1 (116)
Preset Style = Illustration
Lightness = Auto-Exposure
Size = Medium
Border = No Border

Waterlogue 1.4.1 (116)
Preset Style = Rainy
Lightness = Auto-Exposure
Size = Medium
Border = No Border

Waterlogue 1.4.1 (116)
Preset Style = Travelogue
Lightness = Auto-Exposure
Size = Medium
Border = No Border

Waterlogue 1.4.1 (116)
Preset Style = Streamlined
Lightness = Auto-Exposure
Size = Medium
Border = No Border

Waterlogue 1.4.1 (116)
Preset Style = Luminous
Lightness = Auto-Exposure
Size = Medium
Border = No Border

Waterlogue 1.4.1 (116)
Preset Style = Bold
Lightness = Auto-Exposure
Size = Medium
Border = No Border

Waterlogue 1.4.1 (116)
Preset Style = Natural
Lightness = Auto-Exposure
Size = Medium
Border = No Border

settle several communication issues between my laptops and the printer at Open Ground Studios—and now I’m wondering if there might be a virus that I’ve spread to ALL of my computers.

Sigh. I may try to snag my daughter or son-in-law to help undo something I must have done … or get them to a computer doctor!

At least, in the meantime, I’ve figured out a way—for now, at least—to work around the glitchy problems. But … my friends, if you do not hear from me on a Friday via a blog entry, it may be because I’ve registered myself a room with padded walls <insert severe eye roll> … seriously!

Oh, my—can’t forget that I’ve got a three-day event this weekend, starting later today:

 

Watsonville Elks Lodge’s Holiday Craft Show
121 Martinelli Street, Watsonville
Friday-Sunday 9-11 Nov
Fri:    1-6pm
Sat:  10am-6pm
Sun  10am-3pm

I will be among many vendors at the Elks Lodge for this three-day event. I will have my fantasy series (Secrets Beyond Scymaria) available for purchase along with my bin and framed art and a variety of holiday and general blank note cards. Mystery author, Joyce Oroz will be available on Sunday only with her Josephine Stuart Mysteries series, including her just-released addition.
Please do drop by and check the vendors—and don’t forget the authors!

There will be only two more book signings/art events after this one—one before Thanksgiving and one after.

Sat/Sun, 17-18 November
9am-5pm both days
AHA Holiday Fair in Aromas
400 Rose Avenue

Thurs/Fri, 29-30 November
9am-5pm both days
Watsonville Community Hospital’s Holiday Craft Fair
75 Neilson Street

Hope you enjoyed my little artsy show-an’-tell. My days are blurring into night and I find myself waking in the wee hours with my mind going full-tilt with neat ideas—for plots and storylines, for art work … and even for yard designs. I do believe my “mojo” is back! Now … if I can figure out how to juggle everything. Mmm-hmmm. <insert huge grin …>

Have a blessed Friday and weekend—only two weeks to Thanksgiving Day. I’m getting excited. How about you?

 

Fall … And All That Entails!

FALL, AUTUMN … WHATEVER YOU prefer to call it—it is definitely here. And, with it comes chillier weather, an urgency to complete outdoor (and some indoor) chores before the rains come—hopefully they will (one never knows whilst living amidst a drought), a countdown to the Holidays … and a writing frenzy.

Halloween came and went quite unceremoniously in my home. I did dress up in my Celtic garb, but did not do the usual trunk-or-treat festivities at my church—didn’t think I’d be up to it because of a tooth extraction and a few other health issues. By the time I realised I’d be okay, it was too late. So, I snuggled up on the couch, buried under a quilt and heated blanket to watch the Hallmark Channel—yeah … I am a sucker for the sappy shows they air every year around this time.

Heated blanket, you say? Yes, we’ve past our Indian Summer—which never really happened here for some reason … we went straight from summer to chilly autumn weather. Well, we did have an occasional warmer than usual day, but mostly chilly to mild days. But it’s definitely chilly—especially in the mornings and evenings, so that heated blanket gift I received last year has come in quite handy. Oh, definitely!

Hmmm … I’m good at getting off track, aren’t I ?

Waterlogue 1.4.1 (116)
Preset Style = Fashionable
Lightness = Auto-Exposure
Size = Medium
Border = No Border

These last couple weeks of no blogging have had me quite the busy girl—mostly dealing with medical issues and trying to get my photography turned into art (I have over two hundred images I’ve tinkered with) for my upcoming book signing/art events—first one is on November 4th in Monterey—the date of the time change <UGH>. Then the craziness begins, because between events, I am up to my eyebrows in NaNoWriMo— that annual, crazy writerly event where writers around the world attempt to create a 50,000 word novel in thirty (30) days. That

National Novel Writing Month

Pencils sharpened, computer charged…ready to go!

requires me writing 1670 words daily … or an accumulation of that if I miss a day or two … or more! I’m going to use this time to attempt to finish book five.

The troublemaker—long and skinny, Word and my computer are not liking it and refuse to cooperate. Sigh

Right now, my primary focus is getting my computers and printer to communicate properly! The printer I took to Open Ground Studios doesn’t seem to like the written word. It will print images, no problem—let me take that back … it doesn’t like one long and skinny image I’m trying to print <pout>. The computers will write words (I’m so glad), but have decided to be stubborn about how—and where—I put images into a Word document (haven’t figured out if I’ll be able to print those words out on my OGS printer). It’s driving me up a wall—of course, all of this happens as I’m trying to come up with new material for the Painterly side of my events <pout> Sigh. I think I simply need to take a step back … breathe … and allow my mind to sort things out. On Thursday—in the wee hours—I came up with an idea. But I’m also wondering about the possibility of a virus of some sort. Only time will tell. But, you do remember how much I like electronics, right? <insert dark grey cloud over my head … raining on my parade!>

Until next Friday, have a delightful time this weekend and through this next week. Hope you survive the time change! Have a blessed weekend!

Event Schedule through November, 2018

Sunday, 4 November   9am-2pm. DON’T FORGET TO SET YOUR CLOCKS BACK !
Book Signing/Art at Holiday Fair
Moose Lodge, 555 Canyon Del Rey Blvd, Monterey

Friday-Sunday, 9-11 November 1-6pm (Fri), 10am-6 (Sat), 10am-3? (Sun)
Book Signing/Art at Watsonville Elks Holiday Craft Show
121 Martinelli Street, Watsonville CA

Saturday-Sunday, 17-18 November  9am-5pm (both days)
Art/Book Signing at Aromas Hills Artisans Holiday Fair
400 Rose Avenue, Aromas CA

Thursday 23 November HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY!

Tuesday-Wednesday 27-28 November Christmas at the Inns 5-8pm
Pacific Grove sponsored event: visit 3-4 Inns/B and Bs in Pacific Grove to see their beautiful Christmas displays whilst enjoying hot apple cider, cookies and music of the season.
I will be wandering through each location, taking photos for next year’s Christmas card selection.
Pick up your tickets at the Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce.

Thursday-Friday, 29-30 November    9am-5pm
Book Signing/Art at the Holiday Craft Fair at Watsonville Community Hospital
75 Neilson Street, Watsonville CA

 

Spinning My Wheels …


 

THAT WASN’T THE PLAN” … SEEMS like  a reoccurring theme these last few weeks. <insert eye roll> Plans have been going wonky—off kilter for some time now. This week has been no different. Actually worse.

This week has turned into one that is very doctor-centric: appointments, phone calls—and physical therapy (in the office setting & trying to find time to do “homework”. The therapy will be on-going until (at the-minimum) the first week of November. The way things are going, I can easily see it stretching out to near Christmas which is not making me very happy. First week wasn’t too bad, but with this second week, I feel like I’m going backwards. And … I’ve a tooth that’s requiring a new root canal, so I’ll be bouncing back and forth between endodontist and my general dentist for a while. So much fun …

In the meantime, my weekends are set aside for book signings, I even have one event where I’m a panelist (wheee!) instead of selling books and I’m still scrambling to get any photography off the computer and into print form with any success for the Painterly/Writerly events. Have I mentioned I’m beginning to hate technology (even more than usual)? Great when it’s working, but a nightmare when some little thing goes wrong … sigh. I’ve got lots of little things sproinging all over the place <giggle—what else can I do …>

With all that’s happening, time for art seems to have taken a back seat since it’s hard to concentrate and editing takes even a bigger allotment of focus. I couldn’t even manage a blog post last week. I actually took one day to not do any of the things I needed to be doing and let my day flow naturally. It felt good.

I need more days like that. Many more days like that! I need to unhook from technology and get my hands dirty, playing in the yard and in the house. So, if my blogs seem shorter for a while, or my online presence is a shadow of its former self, it’s because I’m taking care of myself for the long haul.

Sigh. The glorious life of a writer … <giggle!>

Have an amazing and blessed Friday and weekend—if you’re a local, please consider dropping by at Compass Church in South Main Street and check out the great event happening (9am-3pm). See you next week.

A Jumble and ScurryMorning in ParadiseHarvest Jubilee at Compass Church

It’s An Author’s Life …


 

FOR ALL OF MY SCURRYING, I’M NOT SURE it really accomplished much (well, certainly not everything I’d planned, that’s for sure). Now that the dust has finally settled, I look back and am glad that week is done. Hopefully, never to be repeated again.

This week has been far more leisurely, yet plenty busy. My calendar is full—with a new weekly bible study (finally … and yay!), doctors appointments, physical therapy (ankle’s getting taken care of at last!), and playing with things that involve my camera and paintbrushes. Oh—and getting my Miata back up to snuff—replacing the back bumper that had a couple holes punched into it by a semi … and finally fixing the scars (down to bare metal) from the large aluminium ladder that, in my absence, fell across its hood a couple of years ago during a very windy storm. It will be nice to have it back—I’ve been driving my truck till it’s fixed. It’s a nice work-horse, but not so nice for around the town driving.

There’s a nice balancing act to keep me in my happy place. A little fun, a little work … and I must not forget the down-time to help keep this energiser bunny going strong.

But, it looks like I’ve left something out—as a writer, shouldn’t there be some writing happening somewhere in the mix? Yes, there should be some writing happening—beyond writing these posts … but I’m still in “putting out fires” mode from my vacation, which means the most important thing is sidelined. And that saddens me immensely <insert teary-eyes …> especially since I’m trying to get all of my books republished.

There have been tiny bits of writing—well, actually editing, but who’s quibbling? I finally spoke with the editor helping me with book one’s rewrite and apparently he was unaware I was having a devil of a time with the PDF edit—he’s offered to turn it into a Word doc so I can be more productive (bless his heart!!!). Now, all I need to do is send the PDF back to him and wait for it to come back in a workable form—yay! <insert happy dance!>

I do have a friend helping me with possible cover ideas, and my head is nearly ready to explode if I don’t get back into creating book five soon … so, all is not completely quiet on the writing front—just not as busy as I’d like it to be. But, things are progressing. Painfully and slowly …

Saturday was my first book signing of the Fall season, and it went fairly well—all except the heat … oh, my! Ninety-one degrees was waaay too hot for yours truly. Joyce did just fine since she runs a bit on the cold side (how I wish!) … we both made sales, though she was Annie Gets Her Bounce by Joyce Orozdisappointed that her newest book—a children’s book—did not have any sales. It’s a cute story, helping children understand seperation anxiety—but, perhaps unintended, I see that it’s also about what happens when a pet doesn’t get the love and attention they deserve. I hope it starts to sell at future events—it deserves a reading audience.

There is a book signing respite for a couple of weeks, as the Monterey County Studio Tour Image of Open Ground Studios Artworkwarms up—Open Ground Studios will be in the line up Saturday and Sunday—we’ve got plenty of our artists with their work on display in the studio (mine included), so if you can make it, 1230 Fremont Street in Seaside is where we’ll all be both Saturday and Sunday!

I get some personal fun-time the next weekend (<insert massive grin …> because I’m all for play-time)—cosplay time for the RenFaire at Casa de Fruta in Hollister. I can hardly wait to don my Celtic attire (I just hope it’s not horribly hot …). Then, back to a book signing and a meet and greet with Harvest Jubilee at Compass ChurchHarvest Jubilee Craft Fair in Salinas and Authors Day at the Monterey Library—a wonderful way to begin October. By the time I’ve gotten back into the book signings, I’m hoping to have at least some of my art (photos from my trip turned into hangable art and blank note cards) squared away and I can concentrate on writing when I’m not doing book signings and sharing my art.

I know many writers that hunker-down and write daily—I can’t seem to master that. I write when words come. They flow better when I do it that way. So, sometimes there’s quite a “desert” when other things overpower my writing, and other times when there’s a word-fest, with a plentiful garden filled with words …

For now, I’ll be happy with the words that create the blogs until I can settling into the “garden” and enjoy the aroma of a bountiful selection of words for my stories.

Until next week, I wish the best for you and yours—may your weekend and upcoming week be blessed.

Toodles till next time!

Saturday and Sunday, September 29-30, 2018
Monterey County Artists Open Studios Tour (including Open Ground Studios in Seaside)
11am-5pm both days
Map and Information about tour

Saturday, October 13, 2018
9am-3pm
Harvest Jubilee
Compass Church
1044 S. Main Street, Salinas CA 93901

Saturday, October 20, 2018
12:00 pm to 5:15 pm

Indie Author Day 2018
Monterey Public Library

625 Pacific Street, Monterey, CA 93940

“Progress” On Republishing the Series

My CreateSpace Title ListSunday, August 12, 2018: HONESTLY … SOMETIMES I WONDER if I’m cut out to be an author. Sure—I love to spin a yarn … and do a pretty darned good job, even if I say so myself. I find myself doubting I can get it done … and don’t get me started on the other aspects of getting the writing out there for the public. Frustration talking, I’m sure.

One of my last real book blogs was done in April, I think. In any case, it’s the one I’m going to be referencing, so here’s the link. The above photo (click on it for larger image) shows all the books I currently have that need tweaking (including covers), books in the series yet to come—and even a couple books I’ve been contemplating (and discussed with Jo before her passing). Most of the stories are actually done, I just need to transcribe a bunch that are in audio form <groan> and write a few more for the Christian fantasy anthology.

I keep reminding myself not to rush through any of this writing/editing/publishing process. It’s going to take time and I don’t want to bulldoze through, missing something important. So … one step at a time. “Slow and steady wins the race”—as the old saying goes. Yup. As much as you and I want to jump to the “published” point (you have been so very patient—thank you from the bottom of my heart!), I know you would want it done right. I know that’s what I want—I want it done right. No sloppy job allowed—I’ve learned my lesson with book one. No shortcuts. No rushing.

August 13, 2018: Oh, my. In my absence (during my ten-week vacation across the Pond), the official letter from Inknbeans Press finally arrived in my e-mailbox—and I could do absolutely nothing. Now that I’ve been home two weeks (yikes!), I’ve still done nothing. Well, not nothing—there’s been plenty of brain-work and wrestling with ideas going on. I still have a few things from my trip that need to be ironed out before I dive into the task of re-publishing. I can start tinkering with things, but no serious work till I’ve managed to clear the table of the dust and clutter that gathered whilst having fun in Ireland and the UK.

I’m still planning on publishing on my own (aka: self-publishing) … but one of the Inknbeans Press authors has gathered a team together and created a new publishing company (now that I’ve paid for my ISBNs, of course). So … what to do? Flounder on my own as publisher of my own work, with 100% control over my work, or join Boch Publishing—their brand-new publishing company—with their own unique growing pains that any new company must deal with, and let them do the “hard work” of publishing, marketing, etc? I do love that Boch Publishing uses a phoenix rising from the ashes as their logo—some of the Inkinbeans authors have signed up with them (hopefully more will), so they are rising from the ashes of their deceased publisher to be published once again with Boch. Like I said—I’ve been doing some serious wrestling of late. No matter which way I choose, I will need to finish getting the body of work editing properly, artwork for covers organised (for all four books) … so, there’s plenty for me to do before I actually decide one way or the other.

On the book-signing front, I’ve a few set up—I did post that a few weeks ago. The spacing of events was perfect—well, a bit busy in November, but I’ll survive. Now I’m being inundated by new opportunities. Many of the events from last year have been slow to get their information out to their participants—I simply thought we (Joyce Oroz and I) had been forgotten. Nope. The event planners have been slow to get organised. Now, I need to do triage—which ones are the most important to attend, which do I decline due to my pressing publishing schedule? I only have so many books left to sell. I don’t want to sign up for an event and not have any books. Personally, I think that would be bad—or … is it a good thing? I could do marketing for the new editions at the events. That means getting my act together very, very quickly and produce some marketing items pronto. I really need to start thinking more like a marketer. Sigh. This is one area I’m not terribly good at … <insert panicked deer-in-headlights look>

August 15, 2018: Finally starting to get “old business” off the table so that I can start to seriously dive into my new adventure of publishing. Definitely a nice feeling. I even managed to find and frame (still a few things to do before it’s ready to go) a lino-cut print for one of the art events coming up (though, honestly … I was not even sure which one—oh, my) <insert nervous giggle> Well … I’ll know soon enough.

August 16, 2018: I was able to finish up the framing of the lino-cut print. The simple act of prepping and framing the print put my mind in the right place—creativity started to flow! Yes! So, though not finished with all of the old business, I decided to pull up the edit for book one of Secrets Beyond Scymaria and dig in. Future edits will not be so brain-sucking complicated. It’s still going to take some time to get this done. I’m only half way through it. Once Hugh (my editor) gets the edited manuscript and tweaks things (then returns it to me …), I’ll have one more edit before it’s ready to publish. Then, on to book two and three (simpler tasks, but still—plenty of work to do). And then <sigh> there’s book four which needs its first edit completed—and book five needs to be finished. What have I gotten myself into …?

Oh, my. Guess I’ve lost all sense of brevity … <giggle> this is another  l o n g  post. I promise to get back to shorter posts soon—honest. Scout’s honor. <wink>

In the meantime, here’s an abbreviated list of what’s happening in my community in the near future. Until my next blog, I wish you a blessed Friday, weekend and upcoming week. Toodles until next Friday!

Events (books and/or art) coming up soon:
Fri-Sun, 17-19 August, 2018 7-11pm (Fri) 11am-6 (Sat) 11am-5pm (Sun) – ART
(and much more!)
WestEnd Celebration in Sand City: Open Ground Studios will have a booth with artists’ work on display—including one of Debra’s prints.

Sat, 22 September, 2018 10am-3pm – ART AND BOOKS (and much more)
Fall GDBA Sidewalk Sale in Gilroy
: On 5th Street in Gilroy, Joyce Oroz and Debra J Smith will join a multitude of vendors—the two authors with be there, sharing a booth with their mystery and fantasy series books for signing and for sale; Debra will also have some of her art available for purchase.

Sat/Sun, 29-30 September, 2018 11am-5pm – ART
Monterey County Artists Open Studios
: Open Ground Studios’ artists (including Debra J Smith) will be participating, sharing their work—and work spaces—with the public at Open Ground Studios at 1230 Fremont Street in Seaside CA.

 

 

 

 

Planning Ahead … Book Signings (and art)

OH, WELL. I’VE BEEN JUGGLING WAY TOO much since I got back from my “little” adventure. Sales tax filing took the most out of me (I will never fully trust figures from my SquareUp account after four grueling days of trying to crunch numbers) and gearing up for our local Scottish Games (a friend and I host a booth for the Gunn Clan)—happening this weekend. So, I’ve chosen to do some light-weight stuff this week. No photo downloading. No insightful commentary/reflections of the adventure. Just simple, informative stuff.

My decision was to update all of you on my book signing schedule for 2018. It will be light this year (well … sorta), as I’ve a monumental task ahead of me—getting three books re-published and back out onto the market), getting the fourth book published … including cover designs for all, and getting book five completed and ready for publication. And I know I’m probably dreaming, but I’d like to accomplish all of that by February, or early March at the latest. Like I said—a monumental task.

So, here’s the book signing schedule—my art/photography will be there also (after my trip abroad, I’m hoping to have some beautiful new items to share). You will find it on my business Facebook pages and website in the near future—this is the first place I’m posting the information—just the basics. I’ll add/update all the details as we get closer to each date:

Saturday, 22 September (tentative) Fall GDBA Sidewalk Sale on 5th Street in Gilroy: Book Signing (Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smith) and Art/Photography (by djamesonsmith)

Saturday, 13 October 10am-4pm: Harvest Jubilee at Compass Church in Salinas
Book Signing (Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smith) and Art/Photography (by djamesonsmith)
Sunday, 4 November (tentative) 10am-4pm: Holiday Fair at Monterey Moose Lodge
Book Signing (Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smith) and Art/Photography (by djamesonsmith)
Saturday/Sunday, 9-10 November: Authors Invade Columbia (South Carolina) at Embassy Suites (I think I must be crazy to do this one … but commitment—airfare—was made before my publisher’s death)
Book Signing with many other authors in Columbia SC
Saturday/Sunday, 17-18 November 10am-5pm: AHA Holiday Fair at Aromas Lodge
Book Signing (Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smith) and Art/Photography (by djamesonsmith)
Thursday/Friday, 29-30 November 10am-5pm Holiday Fair at Watsonville Community Hospital
Book Signing (Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smith) and Art/Photography (by djamesonsmith)
That’s it … at least, I think so <insert eye roll>

Next week, I will (hopefully) be back in the swing of things and will finish up my posts about my adventures abroad. In the meantime, may your Friday and weekend be filled with blessed events and your upcoming week hold a few serendipitous surprises! Cheers and toodles!

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

Progressing Nicely …

 


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Easter—he has risen.

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.

FINAL EVENTS:
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!

Phases

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

A Day In the Life …


 

MY FRIDAY BEFORE MEMORIAL DAY weekend was mighty busy. More than I bargained for, actually. It started with me wearing my “Homeowner’s” hat; taking a lawnmower in (hand to wrangle it into the back of my truck, then out again) for maintenance and then paying “bail” to get my weed eater/brush cutter sprung outta jail so I could do some serious work in the yard over the weekend.

Then I switched hats (after getting spiffed-up) and met my mystery writer friend, Joyce Oroz, for lunch up in beautiful downtown San Juan Bautista. Writerly hat donned, I was hoping to leave the grey skies behind as I headed inland, but apparently the grey extended its hand all the way into (and beyond) San Juan Bautista. As I walked the block and a half to the restaurant, I took inventory of my warmer weather attire, and I crossed my fingers, hoping we’d be eating inside at Jardines. Thankfully I didn’t find Joyce outside in the patio, but nestled nicely to one side of the Mexican restaurant’s indoor seating area. A pesky pain in my arm interfered with my high spirits a little bit, but after a lovely, filling meal, we chatted with the assistant manager about utilising their garden patio (dining area) for a book signing. He was quite sure something could be worked out, but would have to get back to us on Monday or Tuesday. We were happy with that and bade our good byes to the manager and each other.

My shoulder and arm kept hurting (I couldn’t figure out why) and by our departure was quite bothersome, so, before leaving San Juan Bautista, I rung up my family doctor to see if I could—by some miracle—be squeezed in … no such luck. They didn’t like the sound of the symptoms and since I could not be seen by them, their automatic (CYA) response was to recommend I go to the emergency room.

Sigh. Not happy with the recommendation, I did comply. But calculating the timing and my itinerary, I chose the hospital on the Peninsula over Salinas because it would be closer to my next destination … and if the worst happened (which I doubted), I’d be closest to my daughter—so much more convenient for her (and I prefer CHOMP to SVMH anyway). Another reason was I’d be more likely to make it to the event at Open Ground Studios since it usually took less time at CHOMP than at SVMH. Even with CHOMP being busier than usual, I made it out in under three hours—just in time for the event.

So, I spent some “quality” time at CHOMP, admiring the paintings hanging in their waiting room as I went through the “triage” of care, then was led into the inner sanctum for further evaluation. Kinda wished I’d brought my edit with me—time would have passed faster (maybe). I always feel like I’ve wasted the staff’s time when it’s a false alarm—but I am thankful it wasn’t the worst-case scenario (heart attack—I always have to consider it since I’m on blood pressure meds and have a wonky heart that likes to skip beats, then add an extra now and again). Instead, it was most likely a neck/nerve issue that I’ll have to address at a later date. (Drats!) Well, with Memorial Day weekend upon us, it was put into the back burner. I can’t read a crystal ball, but I do foresee more doctor appointments in my near future—several, in fact … plus a stress test (ugh). Sniggle and sigh … all in one breath.

With that out of the way, I was finally able to switch hats (Painterly) one final time and enjoy (mostly, since my arm still hurt) a wonderful evening with my fellow artist friends and the public that came to see the exhibition of art created in classes and by OGS members. I didn’t participate this year. It felt kind of weird not having any work displayed—other than the piece on the Co-Op Member’s wall at the back (along with my books), but I’m glad I didn’t—I would have been scrambling the last month or so, even more than I already had been! Time to let other artists get the spotlight—well deserved, too. I’m so proud of the amazing things that are created with the OGS walls.

By the time I got home, I was ready to crash and take some medicine that would work better than the Aleve (which gave me zilch relief). Saturday I awoke to no pain (the cycle was broken—yay!) and the day was spent recovering from the busyness of Friday. I didn’t even touch the weed eater—I’d planned on spending the day whacking away at my burgeoning weedy yard, but recovery was more important. The weeds could wait for another day. Monday was the first day I attempted using the weed eater … oh, my. I am so far out of shape—the vibrations did not feel good on my neck, so I laid it to rest in front of the garage … and have yet to pick it up again.

I think I’ve finally resigned myself to not doing any of the heavy work needed to bring my yard back into a more tidy form … instead, I’ll be making a call to have someone come in and do the work for me—this is a very hard thing for me to let go of. I love my gardening—even the hard stuff. Maybe I’ll have him out to work this weekend. Maybe I’ll have another story to tell. We’ll see.

I cannot believe it’s June already (insert serious eye-rolling here)!! Until next time, I’ll say adieu. Have a fantastically blessed Friday and weekend.

At It Again … Book Signings and Art

I’M OF THE OPINION THAT MANY EVENT planners conspire against us humble vendors. Back-to-back weekends with a few events on Thursday and Friday, just prior to one of the weekend events can certainly be daunting.

Joyce and I have survived two years of that (or has it been more?), Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smithworking together in the fall/winter with all of the holiday events (Halloween, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas—am I forgetting any?). As we drag our way through the last few events of the year, we keep saying (every year) that we need to spread out our events more evenly throughout the year (adding to what we have), so that we can pick and choose which ones we do in the latter part of the year.

Teehee … Joyce managed to find a couple events for the new year already, so we’re already at it again. We finished our first event on 6May (a Saturday)—new to us … and absolutely great for a mystery writer, but apparently not so much for a fantasy writer. The winery seemed like such a great venue to catch people as they came out of their wine tasting and as the headed into the craft/vendor area. Guglielmo Winery Book SigningWe were placed in what should have been a prime location, but we found people skirting around us, not wanting to connect. Those that did connect bought Joyce’s mystery books, but not mine—I chatted with a quite a few people and did sell a few, so it wasn’t a complete loss. Some would listen to our spiel and say they’d think about it … and if they had money left over, they’d stop back and buy—but didn’t. Guess they spent their money elsewhere in the vendor’s fair.

The “background” music did not help. It truly was difficult to carry on conversations with those that did stop, whether their stopping was out of curiosity or an honest desire to purchase. It didn’t help that both Joyce and I no longer have strong voices to talk over the music. And my not having two of my three books on Amazon further damaged my ability to sell. I really need to get those two books republished with Inknbeans Press—soooon!

All of that aside, our next two events were literally back-to-back two-day, then one-day events. First up was the low-key and delightful craft event at Watsonville Watsonville Hospital Book Signing (and Art)Hospital in their conference room, from 10am-4pm on Thursday and Friday, 11-12 May. I had both Painterly and Writerly hats donned for that.

Next (and the finale for the very busy, long weekend) was the Aromas Hills Artisan’s event, Aromas Country Garden Tour on Saturday, 13 May from 10am-4pm. Attendees began at the Aromas Grange to pick up the Garden Tour map, then meander to the homes to admire the rich variety of gardens … and find AHA members displaying their Aromas Country Garden Tour/Book Signingwares—Joyce Oroz and I scored a prime setting to display and hawk our books. An amazing 2.5acre garden. We Scored A Fantastic GardenWe relished every sale, but knew people were there for the gardens, so it was more to get the word out … a PR day, so to speak—and to thoroughly enjoy the glorious day, as well.

We’ve had a quiet spell for a wee bit—time to spend with family on Mother’s Day before I begin chatting with a few business managers these next couple weeks to see if they’d be open to having two authors cluttering up their space for a few hours. We’re going to chat with the proprietor of Jardines de San Juan in San Juan Bautista—after we have a lovely lunch—to see if we can do a Restaurant Garden Delights Beautiful Garden at Jardines Jardines de San Juan's gardensigning in their beautiful garden … and check on a few other businesses in the town, also—especially since one of Joyce’s mysteries is set in San Juan Bautista. Slowly but surely, we will have events scattered throughout the year. And hopefully we’ll be able to keep them on the schedule for years to come.

In the meantime, I certainly hope those mothers, mothers-to-be—and those with a seed of an idea to become a motherHappy Mothers Day—amongst my readers had a memorable Mother’s Day. Though belated, Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!

I’ve been hunkered down working on the edit for the book that started the whole thing … Secrets Beyond Scymaria. Editing ... ... And More EditingThere may be a few changes, but it will not change the direction of the story. I can hardly wait to get it back into print. But please know that you can get both paperback and hardbound copies of the original printing via my SquareMarket store and I’ve decided to extended the sale for all three—if purchased as a trio, whether two hardbound and one paperback or all three paperback.

So, my dear readers … may this Friday and the week to come be one filled with delight, surprise and cheer …

 

 

Commitments

LESS THAN THIRTY-SIX DAYS TILL TAXES are due. In addition to all that gathering of receipts (ugh … I really, really hate doing taxes), I still have an edit or three on my fourth book to complete, an edit or two on the rewrite of book one (I’ve passed the self-imposed deadlines multiple times for both), book five is begging to be worked on. Ideas keep popping into my head—I try to get them scribbled down before they vanish, but have yet to be successful at that … and I have yet to create any art (sniff …) Okay, that was one very long run-on sentence. Sorry. But, you get the drift, right?

I’m also in a holding pattern on finding out what’s going to happen with my left knee. I really did do it in when I fell (twice) in January. Sigh. I see my orthopedist at the end of March … results of an MRI arrived at my primary care doc’s office last week, and from what I read (I always get copies of the reports … handy to have a medical assistant background), it doesn’t look as bad as it initially felt. My regular doc definitely wants me to see the orthopedist. I’m hoping it’s just for PT … no surgery. At least, that’s what I read into the report, plus how I’m feeling. Hoping and praying …

Why is it, when all I want to do (now that I’ve got better vision—cataract surgery was a complete success—yay!) is to write with abandon, there always seems to be Things keeping me from it?? Doctor appointments that cut into the day, meetings, tax preparation (ugh) and my weekly commitment to help out (or even to actually creating some art, which hasn’t happened either) at Open Ground Studios … all of these vie for my attention and precious time. I write best when I have large chunks of time to let my mind go in whatever direction it wishes—remember, the characters seem to be in control. Those large “chunks” seem to be hard to find these days. The same applies to editing. And, I’m finding I need the quiet of my home for that … so I can concentrate.

I either need to “un-commit” myself a whole bunch or figure out how to work in smaller time slots. I have cut back on my commitments, but … oooh, this sounds way too familiar—it’s a repeating problem I seem to have. Balancing things that need to be done with things I’d like to do … and the things others would like me to do. None of it is going to be easy to work out—never is, is it?

I’ve found myself taking art classes that I cannot complete because of stupid injuries, doctor appointments and other time constraints that happen after I’ve made the commitment to take the classes or … well, you’ve got the picture. It is frustrating to not be able to engage in any artistic outlet, whether it is writing or creating art (hopefully that will change this weekend with a one-day monotype workshop). Sure, I am able to compose a blog weekly (most weeks), but those usually are random happenings. No serious “construction” involved—just ramblings for the most part. Fun to write (in most cases) and for you to read, but even those blogs takes me away from creating serious stuff.

So … I need to re-group, figure some things out and take a serious look at my calendar. And add (cringe) a serious exercise regimen to my schedule to help my knee heal. And start planning some book signings for this spring and summer—right?

Sniggle … even as I write this, I find that I’ve signed myself up for two art classes (hmm … how’d that happen? Insert monster grin)—one on Saturday (just a one-day workshop) and the other begins on 21March—for four or five weeks, I think. It’s hard to resist the great workshops and seminars that OGS offers! I’ve decided those two will be fine, as I’m progressing nicely on my sorting of tax receipts and I’ve actually managed to do a little editing. I’ve even made copies of my two WIPs that need editing—I do so much better with hard-copies … old-school girl, yup. But … I’ve also added another thing to my agenda (I’m not ready to divulge it as yet—I’ll probably do a whole blog about it). And it is eating into my time also, but so far I’m keeping it manageable—for the time being.

So … this isn’t the short blog I thought it would be (oopsie …), but I’m ending the week with a smile on my face, so hopefully you won’t mind. May you have a wonderfully blessed weekend and week to come.

Saying No …

IT SEEMED LIKE A LOVELY, SLOW MONTH — really it did. And that’s just how I wanted it, especially with two edits hanging over my head. But … I have a tendency of “filling” my time — without thinking. The only thing I had going this month was my cataract surgery in the middle of the month and my weekly NaNoWriMo group. Now, all of a sudden, my calendar is being populated with art classes at Open Ground Studios … and dinners with friends and families. Oh, yes. And there’s the short story for an anthology I said yes to (but now that I know more details, I may back out). Whaaat was I thinking?

I’m not even sure it has anything to do with saying no … because — at least for the art classes — nobody asked if I wanted to do them … the flyer was just sitting there and I was craving some dedicated creative time. Time specifically set aside for practicing and playing with what I love. I signed up for two classes (photopolymer and watercolour), but now I’m not sure about the timing for the watercolour class — evening classes and I don’t get along that well. I hadn’t realised the times when I signed up for the that class. The other is a daytime class so I’ll have no problem with it. And, I’ll be there anyway. Um, well, all except the first day. That’s the day of my cataract surgery (oopsie) … so, I’ve got a note into the instructor, letting him know — just in case that makes the class a no-go.

Well, I guess it does have to do with saying no after all. Just because there isn’t a physical “other body” to say no to doesn’t mean I can shirk the saying no. Sometimes I’m the one I must say no to. That’s hard. I thought I was getting really good at saying no — but apparently only to others (stifles a guffaw …) — so, I still have some work to do on that.

I was able to say no to an extended family get-together, but needed to say yes to another one … since I was sick for Christmas, I missed two dinner/get-togethers. My daughter (and son-in-law) and I decided to move our annual get-together to a time when I was well. We tried last weekend, but I wasn’t quite up to it. So, this Saturday it is! I’m looking forward to spending time with them … and planning our next dinner (also delayed due to me) to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. She gets to choose the when and where, then we’ll all go and have a lovely time. I love spending time with these two (one of my harder duos to say no to …) — any time!

Trying to keep my calendar underpopulated is going to be a challenge. I can foresee some complications that are likely to arise, but all in all, I think these first three months will stay fairly quiet … and that’s a good thing (and very much needed). Making time, finding time … and preserving those times for whatever is needed — for me, it’s time to be still, refresh and get some things done that have been ignored for a very long time. Saying no can be so freeing (Cheshire grin here …)

Before I sign off, I’d like to wish each of you a Happy New Year. May this year bless you with many serendipitous happenings.

 

2016 … The End Is Nigh

IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN … THE SAND FOR 2016 has almost run out. I’ve only a few more blogs to do before the closing of the year. I’m surprised I’ve managed to produce one weekly (well, almost). These last few months have been crazy. I knew they would be. I almost burned out—but not quite—from five-plus weekends of book signings and a lovely OGS Artist Showcase party (and a few personal and holiday fun things I squeezed in—I just cannot say no to fun with friends and family!) … leaving me with only one more event coming up tomorrow (that’s Dec 10th at Aptos Grange, Aptos CA folks)—and a mere three blogs to conjure after today before 2016 expires.

I’m ready for it—for all of it! I still have my initial edit for book four to finish (then begin the re-writes) and my publisher will be sending me a first “re-edit” (actually, first truly professional edit) of book one for my perusal—gotta get that back asap so we can get it back into publication! And for my event tomorrow, I worked my fingers to the bone all week trying to get the Christmas cards done—I was so excited that I was able to use images taken two nights in a row at the Christmas at the Inns in Pacific Grove. The Bed and Breakfasts and Inns were splendiferously dressed for the occasion. Beautiful. And yummy goodies to nibble on, too. My favourite was the Jaberwock Inn … for obvious reasons. And I had so much fun turning a slew of photos into lovely faux watercolour images. They all turned out very nice (insert huge grin).

I did not reach the 50,000 word goal for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I was about 20,000 words short, but that’s okay. I’m super excited about where the story is headed. I was going to the NaNo TGIO (thank God it’s over) Party last Sunday, but was too exhausted from a combo of some personal fun and work-related stuff on Friday and Saturday. Sunday turned into a day of rest. I had printed up an excerpt to read—re-reading it was fun … oh, yeah! So sad I didn’t get to share it. Maybe I will later … maybe. Book five is going to be suspenseful. Definitely.

Tomorrow, Joyce Oroz and I will be in Aptos at the Grange—along with quite a few other vendors—hawking our wares: Josephine Stuart Mysteries series (I think she has eight) for Joyce and my Secrets Beyond Scymaria series (books one-three). I think we’re the only ones with books, but I will also have my art. I was told “no photos—we’ve already got three photographers”. I was given permission to sell art and my photopolymer prints (plus … well, I haven’t talked to the contact about my Christmas cards … but I’m sure they’ll be fine because they are “watercolour” vs straight-up photos).

Don’t freak out but … do you realise there’s only sixteen days till Christmas (eeeek!) and fifteen days till the beginning of Hanukkah? Sniggle … on that note—before I close, I want to wish you a blessed Friday and week ahead. Try to stay focused on the reason for the season rather than the craziness all around you.

What’s Right In the World-Part One

SO OFTEN, YOU HEAR ALL THE naysayers and doomsday “promoters” spouting off about what’s wrong in our world today or that the end will surely happen soon. I’m not sure about you but I, for one, am so tired of hearing negatives—especially in the political arena. Whether it’s about the candidates … or about our president-elect, our environment or simply about the people around us. I am tired of it. All of it.

Shutting out all that noise is difficult when it is at everywhere—on the radio, television, plastered across all of the different social media … even as you walk down the street and in coffee shops as you try to sip your beverage of choice in peace. Conversations bleed over into your personal space, into your mind. It seems there is no escaping it.

But, I find that I do have a choice—even with the negatives constantly bombarding me at every turn. I choose to close my mind to it. I do not let it take up residence in my thoughts. I find ways to replace those thought and images with something—anything—more positive.

I’ve got some amazing friends that put me to shame in the “making right choices” department. One young man—a local—I “friended” on Facebook is a perfect example that few of us could mange to emulate. But, that said, he makes sure that there are opportunities for those with less energy to help out. Todd has an non-profit—Change A Heart Foundation—that he created for various projects he has going—mini-homes for the homeless in the states, trips to Tijuana to build homes for the destitute, digging wells for those with non-potable water in Africa … and he is always looking for funds or willing souls to help out—people wanting to take some time away from their busy schedules or money to help those less fortunate.

I have friends that donate their time to deliver Meals-On-Wheels meals, library books, or simply to check on those that are home-bound. Our church has a really cool and easy way to help others—it’s our benevolence fund … singles (one-dollar bills) collected each week in the offering tray go towards helping others in need—to pay bills, buy groceries, pay for much needed repairs. It adds up fast and we’ve been able to help so many in such a simple way. For me, it’s so easy to tuck away those dollar bills I get back as change from breaking a larger bill. It may be just one … or four at a time, but in time, it adds up and honestly, I don’t notice them. Perhaps a dollar is too much for you (or your kids). Pennies—or change of any sort—can be handled in the same way. Put a jar where it’s easily seen … and at the end of the day, empty your pockets or purse of any and all change into the jar. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much has accumulated at the end of a month (but don’t hoard it, share it—take it to your nearby church and ask it be used for a benevolence fund, or to a homeless shelter, or to a battered women’s shelter—the choices (unfortunately) are endless … which one you decide to contribute to is your choice.

The above are only suggestions. Hopefully they will trigger some ideas for you. If not, next week I’ll finish off with some specific ways you can use your time and/or money to help others.

Until then, look around you. What do you see? Shut out the negatives and look for the positives—little things you can do to make a difference. May your day and the weeks ahead be filled with joy … and insight.

{Sorry … as my month ramps up, I must do a little promo for my books and art/photography—if you’re in town, please stop by and say hi!}

Thursday-Friday 10-11 November 10am-4pm
Watsonville Hospital Craft Fair, Conference Rms, 75 Neilson St, Watsonville (Joyce will be there with our books on Friday, but I’ll be leaving early to go set up at the Elks Craft Fair—see below—with my art and our books)

Friday-Sunday 11-13 November 1pm-7pm
Watsonville Elks Craft Fair, 121 Martinelli St, Watsonville

Saturday-Sunday 19-20 November 10am-5pm
Aromas Hills Artisans Holiday Faire, Aromas Grange, Aromas

Friday-Sunday 25-27 November 9am-5pm
Gilroy Elks Holiday Craft Fair, 2765 Hecker Pass Hwy, Gilroy

That’s all, folks … hopefully I’ll be able to get enough words written between all this craziness to reach my 50,000 word goal in my NaNoWriMo endeavor. Cheers. Have a blessed week.


 

An Update

OCTOBER IS WINDING DOWN to its last week, with Halloween and All Saints Day literally on the heels of each other and Thanksgiving Day not all that far away. The year is winding down—sometimes I feel it happens way too fast. There’s no time to enjoy all the special things that happen just before winter sets in.

We don’t have much “colour-changing” going on here, with all the oak trees, manzanita and pines. My “old-growth” manzanita, with its gnarly, flaky red trunks usually stand out more during this time of the year, but most of them have died in this drought-ravaged area. Now they stand bent and grey; leafless skeletons. I’m not sure if it’s age or disease that’s taken them, but I’m sad to see so many dead. I do have many young manzanita scattered around the yard, but they don’t have the character the older ones possessed. There are a few California laurel that give an occasional spray of red berries … but

Persimmonsit’s my persimmon tree and its fruit that is my one true indicator of the changing season. And this year, the fruit is ripening–plentiful and early. I will be fighting with the squirrels and birds to harvest some for my traditional persimmon puddings, but it will be worth the battle (I may go out today and pull some beforePersimmons-2013 they are fully ripe to ensure at least one or two batches).

I’ve been able to enjoy myself these last few weeks, doing personal, fun things. I’ve been to an outdoor theatre to watch a Shakespeare play (teehe–in the rain), have had several lovely dinners with friends and family … and simply Pumpkin Patchrelaxed at home, puttering around—and spent the time at a few pumpkin patches. I’ve even been free of medical appointments! It’s been lovely.  Our church puts on a trunk or treat event for the kids in the neighbourhood and I’m hopin’ to go. Hope it doesn’t rain. I’ve even planned on attending a Halloween party at a friend’s house this weekend. Haven’t had time to do one of those in years.

But this idyllic time is about to come to an end. November brings National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a time for “writers’ abandon” … though I’m not source about that—I’m thinking more like “writers’ frenzy” since trying to juggle serious writing with book

National Novel Writing Month

Pencils sharpened, computer charged…ready to go, with only eleven days to go!

signings is going to be interesting … to say the least! Yup. November also brings all of the craft fairs out of the woodworks. Joyce and I signed up for quite a few … we’ve added a few new venues, in hopes of spreading the word about our books.

My friends … it may not look like much, but these four events are going to keep Joyce and I very busy this month. If you’ve got time, please stop by and take a gander at plethora of goodies for sale. There is greater detail of each event on my business Facebook page, so feel free to check that out.

Thursday-Friday, Nov 10-11
Holiday Craft Faire
10am-6pm at Watsonville Hospital
75 Neilson Street, Watsonville CA
Friday-Sunday, Nov 11-13
Holiday Crafts

9am-5pm at Watsonville Elks Lodge
121 Martinelli St, Watsonville, CA
Saturday-Sunday, Nov 19-20
Aromas Hills Artisans’ Holiday Faire

10am-5pm at the Aromas Grange
400 Rose Ave, Aromas, CA

Friday-Sunday, Nov 25-27
Gilroy Elks Holiday Craft Faire
9am-5pm at the Gilroy Elks Lodge
2765 Hecker Pass Hwy, Gilroy, CA

So … there’s the craziness for the month of November—with me trying to find time to work on my NaNoWriMo project in between all of these events.

Have a fun and safe Halloween celebration. And a blessed Thanksgiving, hopefully a joyful time with family and/or friends. I will try my best to get blogs out on time each Friday over the next four weeks.


 

Now What …?


FEELIN’ BETTER, GETTING THINGS DONE slowly but surely … and now what?

I need to do some book-stuff housekeeping, since in a month, things are going to start getting very busy and not slow down till sometime in December (yikes!). I need to inventory my books to determine if I need to restock before my jaunt back to Tennessee in September, get more bookmarks—I’m down to the last few and know I need to get that done soon … and really … I need to get my head into a writing space so that I can get book four done and sent off to my editor.

… And very soon (aaack!)—a mere two weeks away—the Scottish Games will be upon us. So much to get ready before the 6-7 August event … the Gunn clan tent will be great! I’ve enlisted a friend (thank you Lora!) to help Michelle and me get the tent erected—since I’m still limited in what I’m allowed to do (serious pout!). And, I will have copies of my books for anyone interested in purchasing.

But right now, I’ve been taking an acrylic “boot camp”—this whole week. I’m had fun, as are the other participants. Two are doing portraits, one is doing a barn landscape … and, of course, I chose a macro-shot of a flower, which does not have much in the way of shadowing—something Robert Burcar had requested (oopsie). We’ve learning different techniques and it’s very educational! But, I also learning that acrylics and I don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye. I love how they are similar … yet, very different when compared to water colour (which I think is my favourite medium, since I keep gravitating back to it). But the plastic base/fumes of acrylic paint and I—more precisely, my allergies—don’t get along. I’m waking with increasingly puffy eyes and I’ve my cough has gotten worse. Pout.

Our instructor, Robert Burcar is an accomplished oil/acrylic artist and has a website if you are interested in his art. Along with many other instructors, he teaches classes at Open Ground Studios as the need arises. Check out these two websites to find more details.

The skills I’ve learned could be used with water colour, sketching, etc. Centering the canvas, drawing the skeleton, creating dark and light values—he says, “cover the canvas!” (well, not so much this for other mediums), blending … and so much more.

Unfortunately, my allergies got so bad that I only stayed half-way through Thursday … and will not return to complete my project on Friday, but I’m hoping that I can get finished images from each of them to post at a later time.

**I will eventually fix the landscape shots that ended up sideways … promise—so sorry about that.**

image

1) Centering and getting the skeleton on the canvas

Here are a few shots of the demos Robert did for us (using a Clint Eastwood black and white photo, which he chose to colourize) … and the progress of each of our project.

Sketching out where shadows and light will go (sorry—directionally challenged (oops)

2) Sketching out where shadows and light will go (sorry—directionally challenged (oops)

Shadows of various values

3) Shadows of various values

Demo/instruction time.

4) Demo/instruction time.

Helping Linda decide what to do next

5) Helping Linda decide what to do next

Yours truly's reference images & art work.

6) Yours truly’s reference images & art work—long way to go.

Day Three ... getting to add more values and "details"

7) Day Three … getting to add more values and “details”—again, directionally challenged 🙁

It's looking good! (I'll get a portrait image soon!)

8) Getting the values just right … It’s looking good—even if it is sideways!

 

All of these portraits are looking wonderful. Wish I'd taken 9) pictures of their skeletons!

9) All of these portraits are looking wonderful. Wish I’d taken pictures of their skeletons! Wait! I may have them … I’ll add later (if I find them).

End of day three

10) End of day three for my project—practically upside down … sorry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And with that, I will bid you adieu. Have a wonderful Friday and a blessed weekend.