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.

 

 

“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!

Mother Nature and Creativity

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

Books, Books … and More Books

CreateSpace Dashboard

As always, click on image to see entire photo

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

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

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

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

DSL Speed

As always, click on image to see entire photo

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

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

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

2018 Book Signing Schedule

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

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!

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!

 

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:

Mischiefmaker
“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:

Catalyst
“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.

Blogging, Writing, and … Creativity

OH MY. BLOGGING IS FUN, but there are times … I want to make sure it’s not all “moans and groans” or so boring that you are unable to get through without dozing off. I certainly hope neither has been the case since I got serious in my blogging.

This week has been filled with challenges to carve out any time to write. It’s already Friday and the above is all I’ve managed to write in a week (insert eye roll …). I’m finding my brain is resisting any cohesive thoughts that can be strung together for a blog—there’s just too much “stuff” filling my head. I’ve been trying … I’ve resorted to taking my binder with my edit for the first book with me wherever I go in a feeble attempt to do some writing, whether blog related or not. The funny thing is, in the places I figure I’ll have plenty of time to work (the usual long waits at doctors offices, etc), I’m finding that I just get settled and I’m interrupted. Maybe I should bring work more often (giggle) since the wait times seem shorter when I have something I’m trying to accomplish. And places I “know” I’ll never have time, but bring it with me anyway … well, it seems I’m the most productive then. Go figure.

So … my first run-through of book one in my Secrets Beyond Scymaria series is finished (finally!), but I need to go through at least one more time (I’ve already begun) before I turn it over to my editor for a “second-pass” professional edit. This book did not get a real professional edit before it was published and I apologise to those of you that read it and found the errors. Now that I’ve a new publisher, Inknbeans Press will be republishing the “new and improved” edition—hopefully by this fall and book two (which has had a professional edit) should follow closely on its heels. This means all of my books will be with one publisher. This is a very good feeling for me and makes me want to do a happy dance. Perhaps by spring of 2018 I’ll finally have book four published—it was put on hold so I could get the first two books pulled from Xlibris and republished by Inknbeans. Sigh, and to be honest, it was on hold because my brain wasn’t working right for so long that I couldn’t muster any true creativity. That is now a thing of the past and I am finally eager to dive back into books four and five. I’m definitely doing a happy dance (insert humongous grin).

And, on top of all of that, Joyce Oroz (my mystery writer friend) and I have already begun doing book signings. Friday night we spend three hours at a local Starbucks hawking our books to coffee drinkers. It was fun. In the quiet moments, she and I strategised for upcoming book signings, fine tuning what was on the current agenda and adding yet another potential event to August.

So … seeing as this blog is already two days late, I’d better get it posted. Here’s the schedule (the link will take you to my business Facebook page):  2017 Book Signing and Appearances Schedule  Have a good Sunday and a wonderfully blessed week. I’ve got a quiet week so I’m hoping for a creatively productive week of writing! Until Friday, cheers!

 

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 …

 

 

A Little Shout-Out

WELL … I’M BUSTIN’ MY BUTTONS—Jackson Horvat did an excellent job of the interview with me. Thank you so much, Jackson! This young man is in high school—the interviews he’s been doing are part of a school project—but more importantly, he’s a published author with Inknbeans Press. A darned good one, too. His genre is science fiction and you can find his books here and at Inknbeans Press … and information about him here.

My interview—the first one in quite a while—can be found here. And along with that lovely interview, I’m finally getting the energy and my creative “mojo” back—sweet! I’m seriously diving back into working on editing book one in the Secrets Beyond Scymaria series so Inknbeans Publishing can publish it. If you recall, I withdrew the first two books from Xlibris last August and assumed I’d have the first book published with Inknbeans Press by January, 2017. Oopsie. I’m also still working on book four, editing it so it too can finally be published. And … my characters have started to breath down my neck, waiting for me to open the file up for book five. It’s time to get their newest story finished.

To celebrate all of this—especially for those of you that have yet to purchase any of the books (or wish to make gifts of the series to friends and family)—beginning Wednesday, April 5, 2017 I am having my first ever, honest-to-goodness book sale at my SquareMarket store! I’m still dotting all the i’s and crossing the t’s … but by the 5th, I should be rarin’ to go.

So my friends, Spring is here. It’s going to be a wonderful season in my life. I certainly hope it is the same with you! Have a wonderful day! May your day and weeks ahead be blessed … may you find serendipity around the corner. Oh … next week will be a photo-blog … I can feel it in my bones (insert mischievous grin here).

 

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.

Moving Along

WOW … THE MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND dust has finally settled and I’ve had an opportunity to have a little chat with my neurosurgeon (post-op visit). Everything is looking good on the health-front … progressing nicely, albeit way too slow for me—but the doc is happy and that makes me happy and he doesn’t want to see me for a whole month. That’s a good thing … right? (insert Cheshire grin)

So, now I can get back to business … well sorta. I am healing slowly but surely and am trying to not rush back into “business as usual” since that usually means I’ve done too much. So, bit by bit. Slowly. I’m revamping my schedule to accommodate. Usually I use my Tuesdays and Thursdays to work on all things writing—instead of saving those days for art. I am, after all spending time at Open Ground Studios on those days for a reason. And, I’ve been looking at cover art from other authors’ books and an idea struck me. I’ve been tinkering with the idea of doing my own, but had absolutely no clue where to begin or what the subject would be—other than I’d most likely use photography and then attempt to stitch together a cover image. Ha! Not likely with my Photoshop skills (can we say Total Beginner …?)

I’ll not give it away yet, but know that I will be keeping an artsy aspect to my cover. I just hope I’ll be able to achieve what’s in my mind’s eye …

What I will do is to give you a snippet from my upcoming book four in the Secrets Beyond Scymaria series: Mischiefmakers—if I do things right, it will be ready by Fall, 2016 (depends on my healing process). So, this too will be a longer post than usual—sorry. Please remember, I’m still in edit mode, so this little tidbit is not what you’ll see in final print … but fairly close. Also remember that this is my intellectual property. Please do not copy in any form without my permission:

Secrets Beyond Scymaria: Mischiefmaker … somewhere into chapter two.
Grabbing her backpack, she tippy-toed into her mom’s room to find it empty. Shrugging her shoulders, she spun on her heels and flew down the stairs into the kitchen—her mom’s sanctuary. There she was, back to her, busily preparing breakfast.

“Mom,” Amy protested, “it’s only half past! What on earth are you doing up so early?” She slid up behind her mom before she had a chance to turn around and she gave her a hug.

“Oh, I’ve got my reasons,” returning her hug, her mom avoiding answering the question directly. Amy smiled, wondering if she knew something.

“Um, wouldn’t by chance have anything to do with a request from, um…the Guardian, would it?” She knew all of the adults that were aware of their friend preferred referring to Rocky as the Guardian. She had a hard time remembering to use this “formal” name.

“Well, just maybe. With that backpack, I think you might be in for a busy day, so a hearty breakfast would be perfect, don’t you think?” She slid a plate of bacon, eggs and toast onto the table as Amy slipped into her seat. “Oh—and what about a picnic lunch for you to tuck into your backpack?”

Laughing at the thought of carting an entire picnic lunch in her backpack, she teased. “Mom, I won’t have time—or room for that, I’m sure. Not the way you put together a picnic!” Remembering the feasts they’d found in the past in picnic baskets in her “resting place” on the other side, she added, “Besides. Rocky seems to think of that every time we visit, remember?” She giggled quietly at the thought. “But … maybe a few PBnJs and a couple apples would be good. That’d tide us over till we get back, in case he doesn’t. Rocky has asked us to meet him at the portal. I’m assuming he’s got another little lesson for us. That’s okay, isn’t it?” As an afterthought, she added, “You don’t need me for anything today, do you?”

“No, sweetie, I’ll be fine. I’ve got plans of my own for the day.”

Amy could have sworn she saw a twinkle in her eye as she said that before turning back to gather ingredient for her snack. It’s good to see her so genuinely cheerful. Dad’s death hit both of us hard, but mom seems to be hardest hit. “Want any help putting that together?”

“No, you eat your breakfast. I’ll have it done before you know it.” Already busy working on the lunch, back still turned, Amy’s curiosity was peaked. There was something about how she said it that had her wondering.

“Anything I’d be interested in?” She shoveled in a few bites of egg and bacon, savoring the flavors, waiting for a response.

“Hmm? Oh. No, dear. Grace and I are just going to go into town to do a little shopping, that’s all.” She continued to work at the counter, back to Amy.

Ty! What’s your mother doing today? Is she going with my mom into town? I’m getting a little bit suspicious. She chuckled to herself as she threw her question out to Ty. She’s obviously hiding something—why keep her back to me?

Hmm! Ya know, you’re right. It just dawned on me that something might be going on—just a sec …

The next thing she heard was a gale of laughter in her mind. Her fork clattered onto the floor, along with her next bite of egg. What was that for? “Oops. Sorry Mom. I’ll clean it up.” She quickly grabbed a napkin, cleaning up her mess, wiped off the fork and finished her meal, listening to Ty’s explanation.

I just caught my mother packing a lunch for me. She even pulled out my old backpack. Did your mom pack one too? She’s skirting my questions. So transparent, it’s not even funny. So, what’s going on?

Yeah, she’s making it now, while I finish up breakfast—which was all ready for me when I came downstairs. She let a laugh slip, which caught her mom’s attention.

“Honey, what’s so funny?”

“Mom, it’s okay. I know you’re hiding something. Obviously Rock—I mean the Guardian has talked to you about our little trip. Looks like you know more than we do at this point. Wanna share?” Picking up her plate and fork, she brought them over to the sink and did a quick rinse before slipping both into the dishwasher, then gave her mom a lingering hug.

As her mom slipped the sandwiches and apples into her backpack, she replied, “Dear, I really don’t know much. ‘Make a lunch, they’ll be gone for a while’—really, that’s all he told me. And Grace and I are going into town to shop.”

As she passed the information on to Ty, she nodded in agreement with her mom. That’s too easy…too convenient, but oh, well. It’s not that important. We’ll find out when we get there, right? As she grabbed her backpack, she concluded her conversation with her mom, “Okay, mom. I believe you. Have fun with Mrs. Graeagle. We’ll be back later.”

She called out to her mom as she opened the front door, “G’bye, Mom. Love you!” She could hear a faint “Love you, too!” in reply as she shut the door behind her.

Ty saw her come out the door, calling out her usual “good-bye, love you” to her mom as the door closed. I like how she does that, every time—ever since her dad died. He jumped off the porch swing, leaving it to its cockeyed swinging and sauntered down the stairs two steps at a time, waving to Amy as she looked over, smiling. Cheerful. Good. Well, hopefully she slept better than she’s been sleeping lately. She hasn’t said anything about it yet. She looks like she might have had a good night.

Hey, Amy. How’d you sleep last night?

He could hear her groan in his mind. Don’t ask. Talk about anything else, okay?

Ty scuffed at the ground as he met her out on the sidewalk. “Okay. Whatcha got in yer backpack? Looks awful heavy.” Leaning over her, he started to unzipped the pack to take a peek. She swatted at him.

“Keep out, nosey! That’s a surprise. Mom was gonna put the kitchen sink in there if I hadn’t stopped her. C’mon!” Laughing, she dashed off, with her backpack thumping along in beat to the rhythm of her jog as she headed for the park. He could hear a chinking and sloshing sound as she moved away from her, peaking his curiosity.

“Are you sure she didn’t sneak it in? What’s that noise?” When she didn’t respond, continuing to move away from him, he called out, “Fine!” He let her get a bit more distance between them before slinging his backpack into place, and jogged after her, easily overtaking her with his long stride before she reached the park entrance. He grabbed at her backpack to stop her, then playfully yanked one of her pigtails. She twirled around glaring at him. He could see she was ready to rip into him. He smiled and gave her a wink, pointing forward.

You are not taking any precautions anymore, are you? Keep walking, but not into the park, okay? Let’s go to the Main Street Park for now. I’ll explain later.

So, my friends, that’s it for now. My meds are kicking in, so I know better than to attempt any more writing. Hope you enjoy the tidbit. It’s not—by any means—the nail-biter that I am presently working on. Perhaps I’ll reveal part of that the next time I give you a peek into book four.

Until next week, have a wonderful Friday … and a blessed weekend!

Back in the Saddle

OH, IT DOES FEEL GOOD TO BE writing—and editing again. Moving forward in life—finally. I’ve finished the first edit of Mischiefmaker—I resorted to printing out the manuscript for my edits (I know—paper waster!!—but this is the best way for me to get things done). I did it when I first started this writing-a-book thing and found it to be so much easier for me than sitting in front of a computer, tethered to (or reliant upon) an electrical/electronic source.

I’ll take the written page over a digital screen any day—whether for editing or reading for pleasure. And, yes … I must eventually come back to the computer, but it’s to input changes and for a quick read-through before I print it out once again for the next round. Occasionally, I find myself forgetting about the written page and discover I’ve read ahead four or five pages without editing/correcting my work. I’m obviously still enjoying reading this story of mine. That’s a good thing, don’t you think?

As I was saying before I sidetracked myself (sniggle) … I am working on inputting the corrections for round one. I will read the whole story again with corrections in place, making notes of where I need additional changes as I go. Then, on to round two. Depending on how awful I feel round one was, I’ll do one of two things. Print it out, and dive into it once again … or, if it’s reasonably sound (not too sure it is at this point), I’ll print out copies for my beta readers to get input from them as I am working on taking the rough edges off in round two—it’s usually round three that goes to the beta readers, but maybe I’m improving enough to speed up the process (finally catching the newbie mistakes in the initial writing or round one) … so, we’ll see.

Maybe it’s the upcoming book signing that has me so jazzed about my editing (which I usually dread), or the upcoming surgery that has me up against a deadline … (yeah, probably the latter—teehee), but I’m thoroughly enjoying the time with my manuscript.

The book signing is a joint venture with my author friend, Joyce Oroz—a mystery writer. The Aromas Country Garden (and Art) Tour is on Saturday, May 14th from 10am-4pm (pick up maps for a small fee at the Aromas Grange)–date was recently changed due to rain. We will be joined by other Aromas Hills Artisans (AHA), peppered along the streets of Aromas in various gardens, waiting for people to venture in to admire the area flora—and our various art forms. Most of the AHA members are oil-acrylic-watercolour painters, ceramic & metal sculptors, jewelers, stained glass specialists, etc … whilst Joyce and I use our talents honing words. If you happen to be in the area—northern most portion of Monterey County, come visit Aromas and admire the flower/veggie and xeriscape gardens. Please take the time to see what the artists will have on display. I’m sure they will appreciate your visits to their booths. Joyce and I will be chatting with those that come through our chosen garden (pretty close to the center of town) and of course, we will have books to sell/sign.

From another page in my life, I’ve just given an okay to my publisher on a revamp of the cover of The Scymarian (and made a few corrections to the interior—errors that none of us caught the first time around) and that will head to production soon. Once I get this manuscript polished and wrapped in a bow for my publisher—and finish up with book four, I’ll begin to reclaim book one (and maybe book two) from my first publisher so Inknbeans Press can proceed with publishing it/them under their name. But that won’t happen until I’ve had a real professional edit done on book one (I do not consider the edit done by that publisher as professional by any means—I ended up going back through and correcting all their mistakes and found many more they’d missed). It’s all coming together … slowly, but surely.

After that, I’ll be able to get back to working on book five. It’s exciting, time consuming, stressful and challenging—all at once. Life keeps me busy—and motivated … … that’s for sure.

Folks, I want to thank each and every one of you that have hung in there and kept faithful in reading my blog and following my business pages (my Writerly and Painterly pages) on Facebook. I’m always open to any feedback you might have to make the pages more interesting, so please feel free to comment—either here or on the Facebook pages. I want them to be interesting for you and can only guess if I do not have your feedback.

Have a blessed day—and weekend.

Mine was going to be busy, as you know … and possibly a little wet—but we need the rain, so I’m not complaining. Though it has been rescheduled, if you’re local, no matter the weather next week, don’t let a little rain stop you from getting out to enjoy the beauty of the gardens … and the art. Hopefully we will see you there!

 

Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’ …

I’M ON A ROLL … AND IT FEELS GOOD! (Sniggle … that title immediately makes me think of the old western tv show, Rawhide … that wasn’t the plan.) The fog is lifting and energy is finally returning. I wonder if it’s residual from all my walking on Wednesday of last week (I think I managed three miles in one day—that’s a lot for me). On Thursday (last week), I made good progress on the edit of book four—and had fun face-to-face interacting with two other “writerly” NaNoWriMo members. Or maybe the awesome evening I had at Open Ground Studios for their Social Paint Night (if you’re in the area, you really need to check the next one out … not sure there’s a date yet—I’ll check)—oh, yeah! I was able to get a tax extension, so that pressure is off (whew!). Or maybe it’s the fact that, on Saturday, I miraculously scored four hard-to-acquire tickets for the 2017 Gallifrey One event in February and made room reservations for half of us—a friend will make the second room reservation.

I’m on a roll, aren’t I? Well … I did miss the Sunday’s Paint Out with the Aromas Hills Artisans at Point Lobos. They changed the time last minute and I wasn’t able to make the new time work. It would have been great—they paint and sketch whilst I usually wander around with my camera capturing images. Oh, well. There’s always next time.

I even worked in the garden over the weekend. Spring is here in spades—actually, over the weekend, it was more like summer with temps in the high 70s and low 80s! Gorgeous day to play in the garden, even if only for short bits … there’s so much to do. Even though I spend a good hour toiling, it’s hard to see much progress—but I can now walk pathways without getting attacked by thistle plants (yay).

Buoyed by all this wonderful stuff, I walked in on Monday to hear the doomsday lecture from my neurosurgeon. I was prepared for it (plus, I had my extended church family praying for me—thank you—you know who you are). I knew (kinda) what was coming and was prepared with lots and lots of questions. It went smoother than anticipated and there was no lecture (yay!). It took a few more days, but now I’m on the cusp of having a date for my surgery—and the daunting task of cancelling my trip to the UK (that’s the only sad part, really). Air fare and rooms … with the aid of the doctor’s office, I should get most of my money back … I hope.

My week continued to be pretty darn great—a walk in a cute little park, a bit of editing on my work in progress, then a wonderful speaker at Central Coast Writers (perfect for me … she spoke about writing a series). Though I’d already grappled with many of the things she spoke of, I learned plenty. CCW has terrific speakers!

And, after a busy Thursday of talking with doctors, juggling non-painterly things at Open Ground Studios and getting zapped in a “nerve conduction test”, then working on editing with writerly friends, here we are again … at Friday. There’s still plenty on my plate, like the ongoing editing project, finishing and confirming the cancelling of all my flights/rooms and an upcoming book signing in May—May 7th to be exact … in a garden setting—lovely—in Aromas! I’m praying for good weather, but I will take whatever is thrown at me.

Oh … and there’s that pesky “major surgery” near the end of May. God’s got my back on that one (along with all my friends—bless each and every one of them!!), so I’m not going to worry unnecessarily. There may be a few weeks where I’m in hibernation, incoherently babbling from pain medications (grin) so, no blog during that time (I’ll give you warning) … but I’ll be back to my old self soon enough.

I love my life … with all it’s ups and downs—it’s pretty darn exceptional. I am blessed. Indeed.

May your day … and weekend—the whole week, really—be gloriously and serendipitously blessed.

Too Much To Do …

OOPSIE. THERE’S BUSY … THEN THERE’S WAY too busy. It looks like October is just one of those months … filled with a mix of business and pleasure, leaving very little room for quiet time. I’ve been so darn busy trying to get ready for the release of my third book in the series, the book signing next week and the upcoming Steampunk convention—and failing miserably to get my costume the way I envisioned it (insert huge pout), that I have put aside my blog responsibility to the very last second. Literally. Yikes.

Also, in trying to make sure all my ducks were in a row, I completely forgot about book marks for my new book (groan … head/desk!). So … if I’ve time, that’s on my agenda today so I’ll have something for the weekend. Otherwise, it’s on my to-do list for Monday (for next week’s event).  Now I’m wondering what else I’ve forgotten. What was initially planned as  a low key event where I would meander through the vendor tables, etc. to distribute business cards, con ribbons and chat up attendees has become … um, well, almost a circus—with me running in circles, trying to get things to work out correctly. I keep misplacing things, only to find and misplace yet again (and, in most cases, find them again). Some things remain MIA, sadly … so I’m not able to do a few things I’d planned. But, I should be ready. A “scaled-back” ready.

At least, I hope I’m ready.

… And, I now have an added responsibility of trying to recruit interested Steampunk artists to teach at Open Ground Studios. I don’t mind—it’s kind of an honor, really … but I don’t want it to take away from any other aspect: having fun, passing out my con ribbons and chatting with attendees about Dr. Who, steampunk and my ever-growing series. I’ll figure it out.

So, as short as this blog is, I’m sure next week’s will be just the opposite … and should be filled with photos from the conference. Until then, I’m off to have some fun, so have a blessed weekend and week to come.

 

Secrets Beyond Scymaria series (books 1-3) available now at my SquareMarket (signed copies)
Inknbeans Press (book 3 only … at some time in the future, they will have all of the books in the series)
Amazon (book three)  (book 1-2) … having issues getting Amazon to recognize all are by same author.

 

It’s Almost Time

OKAY … I’M COUNTING THE DAYS NOW—I’VE JUST HEARD from my publisher, verifying that we’re on schedule … and it looks like it’s just one week away before The Scymarian will be released—on Friday, 25 September, 2015. Wheee!

To say that I’m excited is a gross understatement. Can you see me doin’ a happy dance? … ooh, big time! It’s truly a mini-event for me, since this is the last bit of the initial story that I wrote, then split into three to create the Secrets Beyond Scymaria series. The story line has only just started to unfold, with new discoveries on each page … in each book.

Now the real challenge begins.

I’ve already managed to accumulate over 45,000 words for the next couple books. Right now I’m trying to find a good spot to slice the book … and then dive in, to add a few more elements to the first of the two books to create book #4—The Mischiefmaker. Then it will be time to do a serious edit. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

For now, I’m simply going to bask in the joy of knowing that The Scymarian is just about ready for you to read. I’m hoping to have some of the books in my hands for my little foray into Steam Punk at the convention in Turlock—my publisher has promised I’ll have them. I’m not sure how successful I’ll be “steam-punking” the Dr. Who’s Sarah Jane Smith character (still working on it) that I plan to cosplay as … but I’m certainly going to have fun trying. So, if you happen to be attending the SteamHouse Steam Punk Conference, you just might see me there. Hopefully with a few new books …

My second Inknbeans Press blog piece is out today, to give you a bit more information about the new book. Short but sweet … and with a link for pre-ordering books (with free shipping). You can find the link to the blog piece here.

Have a blessed weekend. Stay cool—or warm, depending on where you are. And enjoy your weekend.

#SecretsBeyondScymaria (twitter)
SquareMarket-Creations by djamesonsmith

 

 

Funny Thing …

THIS LOOKS TO BE ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE … don’t-know-what-to-write-about weeks. There are oodles of ideas pinging around in my head, but none will settle long enough to take root. Perhaps because I’m so excited about my upcoming book release, two blogs for my publisher (one already done and turned in … the other nearly done—not due till mid September) … and a very fun (I hope) event in early October for which I am still feverishly attempting to get my “costume” completed. And, on top of that, a writer-friend told me about two local Dr. Who events mid September, one of which that has a costume contest (am I going to be ready with my costume by then??).

Oh—and I cannot forget about the next book-signing event coming up this Sunday in Aromas during their annual Aromas Days event. I’m still recovering from the wonderful time I had at the West End Celebration, working both Saturday

Open Ground Studios Booth

The OGS booth . I was situated on the left edge on Sat, on the right edge for Sunday to hawk my books

Accordion Boooks

Community Pallette’s tent. OGS  art demos were done here—my set-up for demo of mini accordion books

and Sunday at the Open Ground Studios booth, first as an artist demonstrating how to create a mini accordion book (book arts), then as an author hawking my books to passers-by all weekend. Delightful—and exhausting. Oh, yeah … I forgot sunscreen on an absolutely gorgeous weekend—sunny and bright (with no hat). I’m now in the peeling stages of my major sunburn. Looks awful. Serves me right.

So, I am having issues with “settling” on any one thing to write about. Groan. Hmm. What to write about … well, I could tell you about the spending spree I

Clockwork Gears

Found treasures to glean for my Steam Punk Sarah Jane Smith outfit

went on over the last couple of days to acquire a few Whovian items to round out my Sarah Jane Smith persona for the Steam Punk conference in October (hmmm … wonder if I can write any of it off—sniggle). Or the stash of clock gears and springs I scored at my clock smith’s shop (Leon Hittner, proprietor of the Antique Clock Shop in Pacific Grove, has been the “doctor” for my old steel-cased Chelsea clock, inherited from my husband’s side of the family). “Smith” … “doctor” … how apropos!

And … whilst trying to hone in onto the one thing to write about (obviously not happening) I received an email from the “Boss Bean” at InknBeans Press. My first blog piece about me and my books will be posted the same day as this blog —TODAY! So if you are interested, here’s the link to A Fresh Cup at the InknBeans Press website. The second blog will be posted closer to the tentative release date—which by the way … she also told me (drum roll, please …) for Friday, the 25th of September. TentativeI’ll let you know when it’s for sure. I’m still a happy camper, indeed! But, she’s also given me a last minute assignment of adding a page to the book—”Previously in Secrets Beyond Scymaria …”—to catch up readers who may be starting with book three. Ought to be interesting trying to encapsulate the essence of the first two books without spoilers…

If you are interested, here’s the schedule of things happening over the next two months (as present)—or go to my Facebook authors page for a more detailed schedule :

Sunday 30 August 10-4   Aromas Days | Author’s Book Signing with Artists in the Park | Aromas CA

Tuesday 15 Sept 5:30-8:30  attendee (member) Central Coast Writers monthly meeting with dinner (open to public) | 77 Asilomar Blvd, Pacific Grove CA

Wednesday 16 Sept 7:30pm  attendee Dr. Who Event (at select theaters near you—I’ll be in Monterey)

Friday 18 Sept 6:30pm  attendee Dr. Who mini-con | John Steinbeck Museum, Salinas CA

Friday 25 Sept tentative release of The Scymarian It will be available in paperback and e-book formats only. Available through InknBeans Press, Amazon, and I believe also at Barnes and Nobles. It may be ordered through any local bookstore.

Saturday 26 Sept 8:30  participant Alzheimer’s Assoc. Walk to End Alzheimer’s | Monterey Custom House, Monterey, CA

2-4 October   attendee SteamHouse Steam Punk Conference | Modesto CA

10 October   Harvest Jubilee Author Book Signing (tentative) | First Presbyterian Church, Salinas CA (more info later)

Blogging and Writing

IT’S WHAT I DO, RIGHT? SO WHEN my new “boss” at Inknbeans Press said I needed to write a blog, I just flew right into it … wrong. It’s really quite funny what new things do to the psyche. I’ve written blogs about all sorts of things—even about me. But somehow, this feels different. And I felt a wee bit self-conscious.

Usually, I write what I’m lead to write. I write when I want to write … and I have self-imposed deadlines, which if missed are not a big deal. But for this blog, I needed guidance. It wasn’t my blog that my words were going in and I wanted to do it right. And on time. As I did a little back and forth with “Boss Bean”—that’s what everyone at Inknbeans Press call her (love it!) … and waiting, I began forming the blog. It grew into a behemoth of a blog in no time—1300+ words. Yikes! Now, the task of a massive edit lays before me (now that I have perimeters to work with)—to divide and bring two pieces to a more manageable 500-600 word count. One is due next Thursday (panic mode engaging in three … two … one ...). The second one is due mid-September.

The cool thing is, these two blogs I need to do bring me closer to publication of my third book—finally. I know I’ve been saying … for a very, very long time it was just about ready to be published, but this time—thank God—it’s for real (insert monster grin … and Snoopy’s famous happy dance) and I am so excited.

Boss Bean has “forced” me into actually doing some promotion for it by requiring this blog. And, believe it or not, I kinda like it. The vanity press did no such thing—with a “we’ll do it for you … for a price” attitude (and yet, didn’t do much for me)—leaving me to grapple with how and when to do so. It’s all a learning process—but this is a whole bunch more enjoyable way to learn. Believe me!

But, because of this deadline—and the upcoming weekend event (WestEnd Celebration in Sand City … Open Ground Studio will be there with hands-on demonstrations) … plus another event I have next weekend—neither of which I have yet to finish preparing for, my blog post is limited to this little blurb (sniggle … just looked at the word count—I’ve managed to stretch into over 400 words already!)

So, my friends, until next week, I bid you adieu. May your week be blessed with delightful surprises to buoy you through the normal drudgery of your week.