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

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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

 

Books an’ Travel an’ Stuff …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thoughts On the Publishing Path

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

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

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

Meeting Authors

Yours truly and Linda Lamb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harvest Jubilee 2017

Editing, Book Signings and Life

OH, MY. THIS WEEK HAS flown by without me even realising it! I’ve been busy working all week on annotating the PDF for my editor, doing a wee bit of advertising and gathering everything I’ll need for the book signing at Jardines this afternoon.

I’ve had a few doctor appointments peppered through the week and am heading out for some fasting blood work in a moment. I hate the “fasting” part … I’m always ravenous by the time they draw the blood! Teehee—usually a great excuse to fudge and eat out, but today, there’s no time. Sigh. Oh, well. I’ll be devouring some yogurt when I get home!

I have a “drama queen” for a neurologist. I do say that in a loving way—he is absolutely hilarious at times … like the other day when I told him I had two events coming up that required me to set up a pop-up tent (well over his 20# limit restriction). He sent me into stitches with his comments, overdramatising of course, to make his point. Fine—I need to scramble and find someone to set the tents up … sigh. I knew what he was going to say, but it never hurts to try a little cajoling to change his mind, right?

So instead, he’s setting up a referral to a specialist up in Daley City (South San Francisco)—that’s an hour and a half drive from where I live (probably more with the crazy traffic up there). No worries. I am a patient driver, but I may try to find a place to stay the night before (or the night of) my appointment, depending on the timing.

So … I am waiting for that referral call, to set up the appointment and I’m also waiting for a call from the local MRI place—he wants to do a repeat MRI. Guess he wants to see if I still have a brain (sniggle).

In the meantime, thinking about today’s book signing: it will be a piece of cake—well, as long as you don’t count sitting outside for four hours in 80 degree weather as a problem. I’m hoping the location of the tables (Joyce and I get two) and the umbrellas will keep the sun off of us. I love that we have been able to find venues to sneak in book signings without having to be part of a larger group (though, those do have a tendency to draw more people … but then, we are vying for attention with a larger group—lots of pros and cons to this book signing stuff.

Well, I do need to get underway, so I’ll leave you with a fond farewell. May this day, this weekend and all of next week be blessed and joyful.

Now, off to visit the “vampire” …

 

 

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!

 

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.

Gearing Up … Already!

OH, MY. IT CAN’T BE—REALLY? I CANNOT believe that on Monday, it will be May already—where on earth did all the time go?? Yikes.

But, this is an exciting time, too! A dear and fantastically artistic friend, Katie Crawford, has returned to our little corner Katie Crawfordof the world and will be talking about getting back in the saddle artisticly- and creatively-speaking tonight (Friday, 28th of May). The next thing on her agenda will be to teach all that attend her Saturday workshop how to make needle-felted creatures. Oh, you can bet I’ll be there! Then, she’s off—heading back to the East Coast to her husband and studio to paint and create her felted critters (they are so adorable).

But that’s not all … my mystery writer friend and cohort, Joyce Oroz has been working in the background trying to “level the playing field” so our book signings aren’t so lopsided—all of our book signing packed into the last quarter of the year can be exhausting (and frustrating). She’s working on peppering them throughout the year. I really should be helping scout out potential venues (oopsie) …

… and the first two are consecutive weekends in May. A new-to-us event is literally just around the corner on Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smithSaturday, the 6th of May at the Guglielmo Winery Vendor Faire in Morgan Hill from 11am-4pm. There will be arts, crafts, jewelry and more (teehee—I think we’re the “more” …) at this outdoors event. I’m excited to get into a new area and see how well it’s attended. Hopefully we’ll see some of you there!

The next one, held on Saturday, 13th of May, is a well established event—the Aromas Country Garden Tour, showcasing beautiful gardens in the Aromas area with various Aromas Hills Artisan members and their creations stationed within each garden. Joyce and I will have our signed books available for purchase. You start out at the Aromas Grange to get the list of homes on the tours (small fee to help support the event), then make your way to each garden. All I can say is, I believe we’re IN town near the Grange. Each artist is mentioned in the list/map, along with the garden they’re “hosting” on the map, so you’ll know where we are once you have the map in hand.

There is a third (new) event lined up, but not until July, at the La Selva Library. The out- and indoor event (our booth will be indoors), Books and Brew’s La Selva Beach Festival will be held on Saturday, 29th of July from 10am-4pm. There will be Arts, Crafts, Books, Plants, Produce & Flowers Sale … in addition to music, food, microbrews, prize drawing & kids’ activities. Again, this will be a new venue for the two of us, so it will be fun to see how well-attended it is.

After that, things quiet down for a couple months—at least for now, then start to heat up again (for me) in late September … on into mid-December. I’ll keep you in the loop if and when any new events pop up … and when the planned ones are happening. Promise.

May this weekend and the upcoming week be blessed—we’ll finally have some warmer weather (yay) to look forward to. Enjoy your week.

 

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).

 

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.

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.


 

Reflections of a different sort

I’M A SUCKER FOR ANYTHING in nature reflecting back in a body of water, or in any reflective surface for that matter! Makes me melt for some reason. The momentary capture of such magnificence … a camera can capture the technical aspect, but there’s more … and it’s hard to explain.

There are other kinds of reflections … the obvious one is of mental images and thoughts. That’s another kettle of fish, isn’t it? So much can be gained from this kind of reflection. Looking back. Evaluating. I’ve had an opportunity to do a little of this in the past few months. No, actually, lots! (Insert severe eye roll here … teehee).

So much has happened to me—and to the world around me in the last four-ish months. I grumble at how slow the healing process seems to be (it isn’t really … just feels that way). Then I look at the absolutely insane craziness of politics, the injustices occurring with our military personnel, in our Native American and  the African-American communities throughout the United States, … I’m sure you are aware of it all. It makes me take a closer look at the depth—and insignificance—of my own problems. Yes, I’m having issues … but compared with what’s happening with friends and their friends, and in the world—it’s nothing. And I am slowly improving. I need to keep reminding myself of this. This is my reflection. Healing, focus is returning … I’m nearly back to normal and I thank God for what I do have.

As I begin to write this … early in the week, I look ahead at my own crazy week. By the time I post this, I’ll be half-way across the country preparing for what will hopefully be a very fruitful trip; meeting new people, perhaps purchasing new books and scoping out potential new venues (aka: bookstores) for my books.

Much has been invested into this trip. Time, money … energy. I’ve probably put far more into this than I will see back. At least in the immediately future. I keep reminding myself I am doing this because I love writing—not for money. I’ve spent a lot of brain cells, sleepless nights, worry … and energy to get my series where it is. And I am hoping that this will be another step forward in presenting my story to the world at large. It’s all very exciting.

I’ve definitely stepped out of my comfort zone—all my book signings to date have been no more than an hour from my home base. This is a huge leap for me. I’m in the heartland of our country. A whole new world for me. Reflecting back on when I started this little endeavor—so many years ago, I never imagined it would get this far. It was just a nice little story that wouldn’t leave me alone. It needed to be written down … and the story still begs to be written, just not as urgently at the moment (that’s the focus issue … but as I’ve said, that’s improving). I look forward to the day when I start complaining of lack of sleep because my characters won’t leave me alone.

I’m thrilled that people enjoy my story. Most writers wonder whether their book (and all the angst that goes into writing it) is worth the effort. I know I speak for many writers when I say that it’s delightful to be validated with sales and positive feedback from readers (a heartfelt thank you! to those who have purchased one or more of my books).

Writers—as well as artists—have this critic sitting inside their head … your work is lamewhy bothernobody’s going to get what you’re trying to say … it can be very frustrating. Reviews are great—not only to inform other readers (an excellent tool!) of how good the book you just read is, but also to validate your favourite writer and keep them writing. Believe me—they do read every single review. Some they lament over, but most help bolster their will to keep writing—to go on to publish for the public.

For me, I look back at where I started … and where I’ve landed and am happy with what I see. The learning curve was steep (sometimes I think it still is—insert severe eye roll here) but it’s been a fun ride and I know it will continue to be so.

What this all boils down to is … my past love of writing has brought me to this:  a weekend where I get to rub elbows with a bunch of cool authors—both Inknbean Press authors and others—and meet other book press representatives … and who knows what else. It will be a new experience—and if you’ve been following my blog, you know I love new experiences.

Until next week, have a blessed week … no matter what happens.

If you’re in the area: Mid-South Book Festival
Playhouse on the Square, Memphis Tennessee.
Saturday, 11 September … rain or shine! Come on down!

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.

The Tax Man Cometh …

OH … GROAN. THIS IS THE TIME of the year I dread. Every. Single. Year. I’m not exactly aces where numbers are concerned … and the older I get—on top of the math inadequacies—the less organized I seem to become. I promise myself I’ll do better. Every. Single. Year.

Yup.

At least, this year, I’m getting things together sooner—I should have it all gathered together and “handled” before the end of the month—I’m hoping, at least … or at the latest, by mid-March. Haven’t managed that in quite a few years. Matter of fact, I’ve had to do extensions the last two years due to serious cases of procrastination.

Baaad girl!

I need this done so I can get back to working on my book(s) … so Mischiefmaker can be neatly tied in a bow and out of my hands before I step onto the plane to visit the UK (including Scotland and Wales). Plus I must focus on the artwork for the book … and continue my work on book five. (There’s some serious stuff building up in my story, ready to happen—hopefully you will think it’s as amazing as I do—and I really need to carve out some large chunks of time to get it right …) That’s pretty good incentive, don’t you think? I know my trip abroad will really help my imagination gel ideas for book five (no official title as yet, but—hmm … I think Redemption sounds about right). I am getting excited … and I have no clue what’s about to happen (oh … if you didn’t already know, I do not outline my stories—it’s a seat-of-the-pants experience, all the way—insert maniacal grin here)!

I must confess: the release of my book has been pushed back till this fall, but I’m okay with that. I want to make it the very best—no throwing things together for my readers. Never! Need to keep it cohesive … and on the right path. I still don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as a finish-line for the series. My characters are keeping mum about that. I’m okay with that too. It will happen when it’s “right” … right?

In the meantime, I have to get my mind completely wrapped around numbers and organization of receipts … I’ve already found myself avoiding the pile by doing other things—including this blog. These are all things that “need doing” but, really. The priority is (shudder) tax prep. I’ll attempt to make this short and … well, maybe not so sweet a blog (ooh—I could digress to something else by the end of the week because it is only Saturday … insert huge grin here …). Um … I’ll just have to play this one by ear.

Ooh, gotta laugh, because almost as soon as I wrote the above, my allergies decided to kick in. Not too bad at first, but by Monday … ugh. A full-blown sinus infection was on it’s way to rear it’s ugly head. I did manage to make it into Open Ground Studios for a bit, but … have not laid one finger—or eye—on my pile of receipts … except to add to it. Found two more piles: stuff from the early part of 2015 and some 1099s, which Kaeli (my sweet ol’ dog) proceeded to nibble on. Heart failure, for sure! Thankfully, the important bits are still intact.

It’s now Thursday and I’m finally feeling a little better, so I’ll be upstairs finishing up the sorting, then start (maybe) the number crunching. Yes, this is the part (well, one of them) that I hate. I have to add stuff with a calculator (with tape) two or three times and hope the results are the same. This is where dyslexia is not my friend (transposing numbers from what I see to what I enter … groan). Yup. Real fun.

Whilst I was wallowing in pity over feeling so lousy, I managed to cheer myself up by starting to peruse the possibilities of when and where I will visit once across The Pond. My head was too fuzzy to work on numbers, but not to surf the web for things to do (checking prices) and locations to stay. That cheered me up immediately. Now I’m chomping at the bit to finalize my itinerary … but, that’s another blog, entirely!

So … yeah. Short and (hmmm) sweet? It’s my life and I’ve gotta live it—I’ll take the bad with the good.

…So onward.

May your day … and the week ahead be blessed with sweet circumstances.