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.

Time Stops For No One …

WATCHING MY DOG AS SHE ages can be hard sometimes. In people-years, she’s surpassed 86. The vet says Kaeli is relatively healthy for her age (other than elevated liver enzymes that are slowly returning to more “normal” every time she is tested). Arthritis has her panting—or is it the abnormal tests? Either way, it distresses me. I hate to see her in pain.

I sure wish she could speak to help us out in trying to help

Waiting ...

Chilling whilst mom works on her blog.
2016

her through this time in her life … I do wonder at times if she is truly enjoying life. Am I being selfish, prolonging things? I’d rather not think about that at this time … denial, maybe?

Kaeli’s definitely not the tail-wagging sweetie I knew a few years ago. Only occasionally do I see the tail-wag I long to see and even less frequent is the trot with a spring in her step. Both

Kaeli chillin'

“… I didn’t say I was comfortable.”
Kaeli resting, 2015

happen, but not as often as I’d like to see. Her walk has slowed to a stiff gait, more often than not dragging one rear foot as she pads along. Her head hangs low, as if too heave to hold erect; tail tucked in painful submission. I hate that I live in a two-story house and she feels obliged to follow me up, tripping on steps as she plods after me whenever I need something upstairs or am heading to bed. Then, there’s the awkward “oh … I need to come back down, don’t I?” look as she stands at the head of the steps, staring down at me. Usually, I let her come at her own pace. Sometimes immediate, but more than likely it’s after a bit of courage-mustering … she’ll then treads carefully down the steps. I love multi-level homes, but this is a huge disadvantage—as much for me as her.

I think Kaeli’d rather be at my side than wander around in the yard freely all day—or perhaps, she’s simply resigned to the fact. I am working (slowly) on creating a smaller compound within my 3/4 acre yard that deer cannot get into (hopefully, as she noms on their droppings and this may be the reason for the abnormal labs) … and in an area clear of

Chillin' With Mom

Kaeli chillin’ with me at Open Ground Studios
2016
(Sorry it’s sideways—can’t seem to remedy)

poison oak for her to roam freely. The later is so I will feel more loving—hard to get all snuggily when I know I’m apt to end up with poison oak. Hopefully she will want to wander—she really needs to build up her muscle mass. All the “shadowing”—snoozing whilst being at my side … or sleeping in the car whilst I run errands has given her very little exercise and I feel guilty for thrusting that upon her. Getting back into the yard will be good for her. She just needs to stay on level area so she doesn’t tumble down the hill.

She’s not the only one aging—but she’s certainly doing it far more gracefully than I.

Me an' My Mom

Kaeli and I at the beach, 2015

Groan. She and I have a disability in common—arthritis. She never complains—oh, you can see how it’s effecting her gait and demeanor, but not verbally. She’s quiet as a mouse. I try not to complain. I’ve gotten pretty good, but occasionally fall into my old habits and find myself grumbling now and again … and hosting a pity party once in a while. I try to remember that I have it so much better than many others. That usually humbles me right there … and pulls me back to reality—thinking about quite a few of my friends and their struggles. Their trials and tribulations are far greater than mine. I find myself realizing how blessed I am. And blessed to have an awesome group of friends and family to lean on—they keep me accountable … and shake me loose from my pity parties. A good thing for someone living alone, don’t you think?

With all the daily reminders that time time waits for no one,

Ready to Roll ...

In my Miata, waiting for me to stop taking photos.
2014

sometimes I worry a little about being away from my furbabies for so long when I go on holiday. If only I could bring Kaeli with me (Sebastian would be fine … so independent, but he’s certainly glad to see me upon my return)—a selfish thought, really—that would be even worse for her.

I will simply continue to count my blessings. My days with my sweet little Kaeli are numbered and I chose

Sebastain and Kaeli

… we’re friends—really.

to cherish them all. I will hurry back from each trip away, ready to snuggle with her and celebrate my return with her—and Sebastian.

They are both great companions.

Have I mentioned, I am blessed? Indeed!

 

Joy


I LOVE LIFE. JOY IS A LARGE PART of me — my natural state. Joy seeps into almost everything I do, think, create. I am the proverbial optimist, with my view on life being half full, rather than half empty. In life, I countered my husband’s “half-empty” attitude. We balanced each other in so many ways: my sometimes impulsive, energetic, adventuresome curiosity to his restrained, analytical reserve. We were quite a pair. To this day, I wonder how we managed to stay together “until death do us part” … but we did.

So, without him as a “governor” to reign in some of that enthusiastic energy, I seem to have higher highs … and lows that I don’t recall being there before. Maybe it’s simply my faulty memory playing tricks.

In any case, I love my half-full attitude. And this week I find my cup of joy overflowing. I’ve got pressures to meet some deadlines, NaNoWriMo is afoot and I haven’t even started … yet, I’m filled with joy.

On November 1st, I decided to begin posting my gratitudes—things I’m thankful about and for. That—and playing with my photography, using canvas to lay the image onto—seems to have pushed my joy button even more (insert giggly smiley face here). I was downright euphoric on Monday when I produced my first image. Some of my images will make their way into the Open Ground Studios show at the end of the month (through mid-January, 2016) … some will be at the book signing/art event that Aromas Hills Artisans puts on annually in November (21-22 of November this year) … and another unrelated event this weekend (Yikes! Where did the time go??). I’m tickled to be involved with both organizations … and finally have something new to show at all events (aside from my books).

So, this post… and the next several weeks (or more)—since Thanksgiving comes near the end of the month—will be about being grateful … and joy filled. We all find ourselves fretting about so much. How often do  you take a moment to think about all that you are thankful for? For me … well, I know I should be spending far more time being thankful. Here’s part of the list I started at the beginning of the month:

I am thankful for …
•met deadlines, with more to come (yes, thankful for even more pressure)
•food in the cupboards and fridge
•my dog snuggled at my feet
•the cat curled up, purring in my lap
•rain rain rain. Thank God for rain in parched California!!
•the sound of rain on my roof, running down the downspouts
•warm dry clothes on a wet day
•muted light from an overcast sky–easy on my aging eyes
•a friend’s relief from pain … and finally after so long, a diagnosis so they can move forward to manage her pain
•hot tea to sip on chilly mornings
•automatic thermostats that knows when to take the chill off the morning air
•that first long rain of the season, when everything around me is painted in deeper, richer colours
•being able to share my abundance with others
•visitations from my local deer. They are so beautiful

May your day … and the coming week be blessed with a multitude of reasons to be thankful and joy filled.

UPCOMING EVENTS (hopefully I’ll see some of you that live locally):
November 1-30 24/7
(starts and ends at midnight)
National Novel Writing Month
Write with abandon all month, aim for 50,000 words by midnight on the 30th
You can still sign-up online: NaNoWriMo.org

November 14   Saturday  9am-1pm
Craft Show w/Book Signing (and some of dj’s art)
dj jameson smith w/fellow author (mysteries), Joyce Oroz
735 Ramona Avenue, Monterey CA

November 21-22   Saturday/Sunday 9am-4pm
Aromas Hills Artisans Holiday Art (and craft) Fair w/Book Signing & art
dj jameson smith w/fellow author (mysteries), Joyce Oroz
Aromas Grange, Aromas CA

December 4   Friday 5:30-8:30pm
Co-Op Members Art Exhibition Opening and Christmas Party
Open Ground Studios, 1230 Fremont Blvd., Seaside CA
dj jameson smith will have her art on display for sale in various forms (framed, matted & unmatted pieces along with note and post cards), plus her books will be available for purchase
(the exhibition will be available for viewing from Nov 25, 2015 – Jan 20, 2016)

 

I’ve Been Pondering … Deeply | Part Two

YES, I’M STILL FREAKING OUT OVER THIS decision of cutting myself off from overseas travel—well … maybe not as much as I was when I first started thinking about this. I did promise two friends I’d visit their country … no, make that three friends … and now it looks like I’m going to have to renig on my promises. That’s something I seldom do. If I make a promise to do something, I like to keep it. But, sometimes, things get in the way … like finances—and, in the case of the three locations (India, Australia and Hong Kong)—distance plays heavily into the decision.

I’ve been trying to figure out how I could physically manage about 18 hours in the air. With my body’s slow meltdown after October, 2013 (I’ve had good times and not so good times—I never know when each will hit), there’s no way. Finances … well, I could probably figure that one out eventually (pull from “Peter” to pay “Paul” …), but the time spent in the air is a biggie. Even for a trip to/from across the Pond. I’m not thrilled about the travel time required for my 2016 visit to the UK and beyond, but I’ve already committed myself to this trip. And if I do decided to go business cla$$ (haven’t decided as yet), it’s going to eat into what I will be able to afford in the future.

A couple of friends have suggested to make the decision on a trip-by-trip basis: plan it, see how I’m doing … then if I’m doing well, make the commitment to go. If not, then … well obviously, don’t. Hmmm. I may have to take that under consideration. But in the meantime, I think … since I have time before my next big planned trip (after the 2016 trip … pattern is every two years or so), I think I will play with the shorter, on-my-continent trips to see how I do. There’s plenty to see in the States … and I have yet to make it up to Alaska, which is on my bucket list (actually, was on my husband’s list, too … and I still have some of his ashes destined for—hmmm … maybe Anchorage … or Denali National Park?) so, I’ll just have to see how that pans out. Right?

Looking at things in the short term is appealing, too. Long range planning is hard. Doable, but hard. Planning ahead a week, a month … even a couple months out is so much easier. Forking out deposits nine-plus months in advance, then paying the balance six-months out (to get the best discounts) for the delightful Celtic Invasion Vacations tour does have it’s drawbacks. With closer to home, shorter trips, costs should be more manageable also, allowing for more travel (insert huge grin here).

So, this is what I’ll do. For now. Hmm. Now, if I can just find the time … and solve Kaeli’s scrounging/scarfing issues, I’d be set.

Well, folks, I’m back to diving into last minute planning and creating art for my upcoming—yikes! It is just over a month away—painterly exhibition at Open Ground Studios. Deadlines loom (Sunday!!). Prior to the opening, I’ll have all of the art documented and live on my SquareMarket website for those of you unable to make it to the event due to conflicts (excuses like distance or prior commitments are allowed—wink).

 

Open Ground Studios showcases it’s Co-op Members artistic talents in an exhibition from November 25, 2015 – January 20, 2016
Debra Jameson Smith’s art and fantasy series will be on display
The Opening and Holiday Party 5:30-8:30pm will be December 4, 2015
1230 Fremont Boulevard • Seaside California

 

 

Steampunk … Here I Come!

AAAH. IT WAS A “QUIET” … YET BUSY WEEKEND for me—and my friend, Pam—as we made our way (separately) to the outskirts of Turlock for the steampunk conference. About two hours from home, Turlock is nestled between Modesto and Merced on Hwy 99 (which is east of Hwy 5). It really is a beautiful drive, if you like the stark beauty of naked mountains (which I do). Not one green blade of grass or leaf anywhere … well, except in the almond groves or other cultivated produce.

The shadows played beautifully with the curvature of the mountains and hills, creating some lovely contrasts. Unfortunately, I was “driven” to driving to my destination … and did not stop—not even once (unusual for me). I did not bring my good camera (foolish!), so was not as inclined to stop. I just visually soaked up all the undulations and shadows and stored them in my (faulty) memory. I believe this drive needs to be done again, without a destination or deadline planned so that I can stop at a moments notice … on a whim … and take photos.

Because of our allergies, as the time drew near both of us were concerned about air quality due to the fires blazing in surrounding areas. Fires were out and beautiful, clear skies greeted us—thankfully! And, although it was much cooler weather for locals (they’d been suffering with 116° heat until recently), the 89° was a bit toasty for us—especially in costume. Thankfully, it continued to cool down a wee bit more over the course of the weekend. But was still too warm for me to wear either the London Fog rain coat or the knit shell sweater—or even the 4th doctor’s beautiful trademark scarf for any length of time—to complete my Sarah Jane Smith costume. Oh, well.

I arrived at the hotel and unpacked before heading over to the Stanislaus Fairgrounds for the convention. Nice accommodations at the Comfort Inn at the convention rate. Yay! I had less than an hour left before they closed down for the night, so I simply drove over, picked up our passes and meandered through the venue to see what was there. I had to remind myself that it was their first year and it should grow quickly, so it was nice to see it in it’s “infant” state.

The SteamHouse Steampunk Convention will grow. I’m sure. There were vendors of all sorts: selling handmade steampunk clothes and accessories ranging from jewelry to goggles, to fun movable clock-gear pendants and cool pens made from bullets (I thought about getting one for one of my brothers … but forgot! I hope I grabbed his card). Two Whovian clubs were

The War Doctor and "Sarah Jane Smith"

San Diego’s War Doctor and I posed with K9

represented: San Diego Whovians (with a War Doctor cos-player) and Central Valley Whovians, plus more than a few steampunk Star Wars actors—I managed to not get their photos, but Pam did: the “steam Star Wars

Steampunk Star Wars characters

Courtesy of Pam Leja, a nice shot of the steamy Star Wars Steampunk crew.

crew. Star Wars Steampunk. They even have permission from the creator to use the Star Wars name! There was a video producer—though I was not interested, so I cannot tell you what he was trying to sell.

It was fun. I did have my cell phone camera, but found that I was having too much fun poking around and asking questions to be bothered with many photos. When I looked at the ones I did take, I had to shake my head. Mostly generic, vanilla shots! I’m embarrassed!

Vendors of All Kinds

Costumes, accessories, clockwork gearing were only a few things you might find.

The nice thing about new venues … they are small, not as well attended (which is a bad thing for the vendors), but it allows more time to chat. This group of vendors was delightful … talking about their wares, about little things—and I found two from my area … plus, the whole affair was far more intimate. That’s a good thing for a first-timer like myself. I had misgivings about attending, but shouldn’t have worried. The intimacy of the venue gave me time to warm up to the cool things I was seeing. And gave me ideas on how I could better steampunk my character for next time. Yup … there will be a next time if dates don’t conflict with my schedule.

Pam and I spent most of Saturday morning wandering around and

More Vendors

It’s a large space and in the future, it will be packed with vendors and attendees.

investigating what was available, chatting up the vendors. We even went into the next building where there was a holistic/crystal show going on (spend very little time there) … and we had a lovely lunch from the catered trucks (no “roach coaches” here—gourmet food, indeed!). Some came as far a San Francisco to cater to the crowd … including a cupcake truck from San Jose.

Clockwork Heart

Movable gears on this sweet little pendant. May work it onto K9 to Steampunk him a bit more.

Sunday, we came back over to the convention to find that many of the vendors had abandoned the show (remember … sadly, low attendance can mean low income for vendors). I had hoped to find a few things to buy, plus get permission to take a few photos. Oh, well. I did get a photo of me with the War Doctor and my dinky little K9. My little guy was quite a hit, by the way! Everybody wanted pictures of K9 with or without me. That made me happy. I even got a few compliments on my costume. Pam, on the other hand, had plenty of compliments … but then, she definitely dressed the part.

I was going to add more photos … but for some reason, they load into WordPress sideways (tried rotating the originals, but it was a no-go—insert extremely grumpy face) … and unless you’re game with side-ways photos, I’d rather not add them. They were so cute! One of K9 with his Steampunk hat and one of Pam with a few nicely dressed Steampunk vendors. Drats.

So, folks … it was quiet, but fun. Lots of cool outfits that I managed to not take photos of … good food and fun, chatty vendors to pass the time of day.

It does sound like the date is set now in stone for next year … and it’s the same weekend, so I won’t be able to attend—prior commitments at the Big Trees Scottish Gathering and Highland Games in Ben Lomond CA with the Gunn Clan tent will keep me away—always on the first weekend of October … sigh.

Now … a quick apology for the monster-long blog entry, then I’m off to prepare for the book signing that’s happening Saturday in Salinas! Have a great Friday plus a beautiful and blessed weekend, folks. Until next Friday … cheers!

 

Secrets Beyond Scymaria Covers 1-3

click on for full image of the first three books

 

 

Facebook Author’s page Upcoming Events
The Scymarian at Amazon
Secrets Beyond Scymaria series at my SquareMarket

 

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)

It’s All About Books

NO … NOT MINE. THOUGH I’D CERTAINLY LOVE to push them, I know doing so too often turns people off. Did you know that Sunday (9 August) was National Book Lovers Day? I missed it. Drats.

So, to make up for that loss, I thought it would be a good thing to share a few indie authors and their “babies” (in no particular order). I’ve read some of their books, though not all—and most are on my To Read list. Some of these authors are “co-conspirators” at Inknbeans Press—my new writing family—and some are completely independent in their endeavors. All of these authors are worth reading. (please let me know if there are problems with any of these links—I’ve checked them all, but one never knows …)

Leland Dirks and his cohort, Angelo: Leland is an amazingly prolific writer and fantastic photographer. He lives in the mountains of Colorado (I’m so envious) with his three dogs (one of which happens to be Angel), finding inspiration all around him as he writes his amazing pieces and captures some beautiful photographic gems. He is truly an independent writer, publishing on his own, using CreateSpace as his publishing medium and Amazon as his store. Jimmy Mender and His Miracle Dog, Angelo’s Journey, Seven Dogs in Heaven, The Cat Who Thought He Was A Border Collie, Strange Savior—there are more stories, plus two wonderful photo-heavy books: Valley of Light and 100 Days of Gratitude. Please find his books on his Amazon Author’s page.

Joyce Oroz: Joyce is a local writer with a flair for mystery. As her stories are centered around this area (Monterey, Santa Cruz, Aromas and places not all that far afield), she steeps her mysteries with local bits and pieces, which makes it all the more fun for us locals. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed her Josephine Stuart Mystery series and am still reading, trying to keep up with the next adventure. Publishing through Cozy Cat Press, she is still considered an indie writer. Secure the Ranch, Read My Lipstick , Shaking In Her Flip Flops and Cuckoo Clock Caper are the books available so far. Please find information about her books at http://cozycatpress.com/joyce-oroz and some of her books (go about half way down the page) at http://cozycatpress.com/cozies/ You can also go to her Amazon Author’s page to see all of her books in one place.

Robin Owens: Robin grew up as a military brat and is married to a military “lifer” with children of her own, so she knows about the military life from nearly all aspects. She currently lives on the East Coast. She has a wonderful collection of books to help today’s military families’ children deal with all that moving and getting acquainted in their new towns, in addition to a number of other children’s books. All of her books are published through Inknbeans Press. Some of them are: The Dabby Project series, The Wand, Three Children and A Blessing and God’s Soldier (these last two are also in Spanish)  You can find all of her books at her Amazon Author page and nestled into the Inknbeans website (link above).

Hugh Ashton: Hugh has a diverse collection of published books, from his excellent Sherlock Holmes books to historical fiction and thrillers. Another InknBeans Press writer, he’s an international bloke, splitting his time between Japan and the UK. I’m partial to his take on Holmes. Very well done and in keeping with Sir Conan Doyle’s writing (I love a good Holmes mystery!!). Some of his books are Sherlock Holmes: The Dispatch Box, The Untime, Leo’s Luck and Beneath Gray Skies.  More information about Hugh and all of his books can be found at http://hughashtonbooks.info/ and his Amazon Author’s page.

Sharon Ledwith: Sharon has a flair for fantasy—and I loved her two books! Her publisher is now Mirror World Publishing. I’m anxiously awaiting the release of her third book. Sharon lives in Canada … and some day I will be knocking on her door for a visit—and perhaps we will do a book signing together. The Last Timekeepers Time Travel series: Legend of the Timekeepers and The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis. You will find more information about these two books and the author at http://www.sharonledwith.com and on her Amazon Author’s page.

Vickie Johnstone: Another great writer/author with a wonder flair for children’s books. A true indie author, she and I have traipsed through her downtown London—she’s a delightful person, as well as a terrific writer. I’ve read at least one of her books, with more on my To Read list. Great fun … even for an adult! Her Kiwi Series is about a cat. Not an ordinary cat, mind you. There is magic involved, of course! This lady is definitely multi-faceted: you’ll find poetry and other story lines—some children’s, some more for YA and older (I have not read any of these as yet, though I have seen snippets … I’ve only read one Kiwi book so far). You can find information about her, her books and poetry at http://kiwiincatcity.com/ and http://vickiejohnstone.blogspot.co.uk/ and of course at her Amazon Author’s page.

There are so many more writers out there that I want to share with you, but I think this is enough to get started. I’m hoping this will be a monthly or quarterly thing–we’ll see.

I think next round may include writers/authors like Greta Burroughs, Rosanne Dingli, Ey Wade, Dan Mader …

I would really love your feedback. Have you heard of any of these authors? Have you you read any of their books? Do tell, please!

 

 

Big News

I’VE KEPT THIS KINDA HUSH-HUSH for a very long time (been dying to tell you), but now I can finally make it public. It’s a hodge-podge of good news and sorta bad news—depending on how you look at it. However you may look at it as a reader, as a writer I am filled with relief and anticipation (well … maybe a touch of anxiety, too).

The Good News is that I’ve been trying to find a real publisher (not a vanity press publishing company) to accept my books since I’ve become so displeased with (but tolerant of) the shenanigans of Xlibris—yes, I know they are a vanity press and I cringe at paying through the nose for every single thing, but I feel they should be professional about how they handle their business (especially for the kind of money laid out).

Recently, I approached InknBeans Press, a small company in So. California and they were kind enough to bump my request to the top of their pile of books to review because of my situation (thank you so very much—I truly appreciate what has been done for me). Those of my fellow writers that have books published through InknBeans speak highly of them.

I finally heard back on Wednesday—they are interested! Enough so that they even mentioned talking about contracts. Squeee! Later that day, I sent of a positive response to their letter to address their questions and concerns—pretty much agreeing with all they had to say, except for a few minor points. Now, I’m hovering over my email account, waiting for a response.

Perhaps I’m jumping the gun—well, yeah … I am jumping the gun—but I’ve been so completely dissatisfied with Xlibris that on Thursday, I sent my letter requesting immediate withdrawal of The Scymarian from their grips. We’ll see how long it takes them to release me from their contract.

In the meantime, there is no contract with InknBeans Press (yet). Which means, my book remains in limbo. So, the bad news is, even if I get that contract signed soon, it will be a few more months before the book is published. I have to go through submitting the artwork, their corrections (if any) of the manuscript and then the reviewing and authorization of the interior and cover galleys again (I’m sure it’ll be just fine this time). But, if InknBeans Press decides those few minor points I mentioned in my letter to them are too much, I may be forced to resort to CreateSpace to publish my book. I’ve never done it before, so a huge learning curve is before me. Plus, CreateSpace has no hardback copies for those that want them. InknBean does not usually do hardbound, but are able to provide it and will do so if ask (I will ask if enough people request it).

Lots of ifs and whens, but I feel this was the right move. The good outweighs the bad. Whichever way it goes, please know that it’s because I am trying to do the best thing for my readers—to provide a quality product. I know it’s been a very long time since my last book (nearly a year), with lots of hiccups causing delays, but I ask for your patience—yet again.

Whilst I wait for the response from InknBean Press and the acknowledgement from Xlibris about my book, I will concentrate heavily on my next endeavor … book four: “Mischiefmaker”. I’ll keep you informed.

Until then, have a blessed weekend and enjoy the weeks ahead as summer busts out into its full glory.