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.**


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.

Upcoming Book Signing

JUST A QUICK NOTE: for those of you local to the Monterey County area, the last book signing of the year is coming up on the 20th of December at the Salinas Baptist Church, 1130 San Vincente from 10am to 2pm.

I will have my Secrets Beyond Scymaria sci-fi fantasy series and sharing the table with Joyce Oroz, murder mystery author of the Josephine Stuart Mystery series. We will have our autographed books available for purchase and will answer questions you might have about the making of each series.

Please join us and spend a some time perusing the other delights for sale…there’s still time to find a last minute gift to put under the tree…whether a book or craft item.

Salinas Baptist Church
1130 San VincenteSalinas CA 93901
Saturday, December 20th

Hope to see you there!

Upcoming Events

WELL, IT’S BEEN AWHILE SINCE I’VE let you know any specifics about my schedule, including my fundraising fun and upcoming book signings/readings, so here goes:

Yes, I know—these are not business related, but very dear to my heart:
Sat, 27 September from 8:30-12:30
Walking for Alzheimer’s at Aptos Seascape Resort.
Sat, 11 October from 8:30-12:30 Walking for Alzheimer’s at Monterey’s Custom House Plaza.

I know…two walks? Am I daft? No. The Santa Cruz walk is the one I started with—Monterey didn’t have one. When Monterey finally did start up their walk, I felt since my dad had Alzheimer’s Disease and I felt fully invested in the cause, I chose to do both. Sometimes it is a bit much, but I will always support one or the other in some form.

Alzheimer’s Disease hits straight across all the demographics and does not discriminate—it hits the rich and famous, poor, average joe, intellectuals. You or a family member could be its next victim. There’s a higher risk if someone in your family has had it. Right now, there are some good drugs that will slow down the progress of the disease, but the end result is the same: loss of memory—not just memories of friends and families, but the basic functions to be a productive person, and then, eventually death. Wouldn’t you want research to be trying to find a cure? You can help raise awareness and help fund research for this cruel disease by supporting Alzheimers Association, either through the walks or direct donations to the organization.

If you are interested in supporting me in either event, click on one of these links—donations received up to a month after the events will count toward my total (Santa Cruz or Monterey). If you choose to make a general donation to Alzheimer’s Association or simply want to find out more about the disease, that’s fine with me.

My Secrets Beyond Scymaria series book signings and sales:
Sat, 25 October from 2-4 Book signing at Open Ground Studios 1230 Fremont Blvd, Seaside CA. Come and meet me, ask questions about the series and have your purchased copies signed.
Sat-Sun 14-15 November (times TBA) Holiday Crafts. Several authors (including yours truly) will be available to answer questions and sign purchased books at Watsonville Elks Lodge, 121 Martinelli St, Watsonville CA
Sat-Sun 22-23 November (times TBA) AHA Holiday Crafts event at Aromas Grange, Corner of Rose and Bardue, Aromas CA. Again, several authors (including yours truly) will be present to sign books and answer questions.

Check back for more details (times) as they become available.

I’m working on getting some events for out of town, but not sure when they will happen…still in the works.



I’m Struggling Here

THIS IS HILARIOUS. I WONDERED WHEN I’D RUN out of ideas to post each week. I think this is the week—it’s already Wednesday and I’m stuck. It’s not even October yet. And November is going to be horrible…(read: busy with NaNoWriMo). I’ve started three different posts and I’ve deleted each one. Arg. I’m actually hoping, as I ramble on here that something will come to mind.

Struggling. Okay. Now it’s Thursday and my deadline looms (at least I haven’t deleted this one yet).

My life is so full, yet I am struggling. There are so many things I could draw from to write about, yet I find it hard to get things ‘on paper’ at the moment. Yes, there’s plenty to write about, but I don’t want to bore you—too often, and I seem to be a wee bit restless—not wanting to sit still long enough to get things written. My mind is going is so many directions right now.

I am excited about all that’s going on in my life. And loving the chaoticness (is that even a word?) of it. Both my writerly and painterly side will be busy in the coming days and months (forget about the basic daily things that should be done…) with my third book’s final two-rounds of editing then publishing, book four begging to be completed, a book signing (October 25th at Open Ground Studios—I should be working harder to line more up of these), NaNoWriMo looming in the near future (Nov 1-30) and a number of fun workshops at Open Ground Studios just waiting for my participation (squeee!).

Okay…I think I’m on a roll, don’t you?

Open Ground Studios is so amazing, and as it passed it’s first birthday this summer, it continued to grow and change—for the better. Membership packages have been revamped, as have the costs of classes and workshops, all making joining and ‘playing’ a more enjoyable experience. Working in this environment, whether (for me) simply to write or to finally let my painterly side free, is wonderful. Peaceful. Friendly. Can’t say enough about this place. Really. Check it out for what’s coming up (see link above).

I, for one, will be attending the Medieval Book Binding workshop with Nicolas Yeager (November 8th)—I’m really excited! I love the first book that I made in the workshop…so much so that I’m having a hard time ‘breaking-in’ the interior—it’s so beautiful, I don’t want to spoil it! I know—the wrong frame of mine. USE IT!

Then, there’s the exposure unit (for photopolymer printing) that has been patiently waiting…waiting to be calibrated so it can be used. I am thrilled that someone (Bob Rocco) is finally coming in—very soon—to do just that. Then he will have a class for those of us interested in using it. I can hardly wait. I’m on the list, waiting for a time (date is known—October 14th—well, it is changeable, depending on availability for those interested)—I’ll make the day work, no matter which one is chosen.

Okay…I’ve said enough. Please enjoy your—and the gloriously beautiful weekend that is nearly upon us. May your days ahead be blessed and joyful.



Mucking About

“MUCKING ABOUT: BEHAVING IN A silly or aimless way, esp. by wasting time when serious activity is expected…”

That’s what the dictionary has to say about it. I’ve just started (and not completed) four blog posts. I’d say I’m definitely mucking about, especially since it’s now Friday and I’m supposed to have something for you. Now. Yet, I keep “mucking about”, not finishing anything. My thoughts do seem aimless — well, aimless where writing is concerned. My mind is definitely elsewhere. I have ongoing, ever-evolving lists rolling around in my mind right now and I cannot concentrate on writing a decent blog.

You see, tomorrow — that’s Saturday, 23 August, I have my very first book signing at a real book store. (wheeee!) I’ve never been so nervous. I’ll be up in Gilroy at the Barnes and Nobles’ “brick and mortar” store — the closest big-box book store since all the stores in Salinas and on the Monterey Peninsula closed down (very sad, indeed). All that is left are a few little boutique book shops, some with new, or new and used or some with only used books. So, from 2-4pm on Saturday, I’ll be signing books, chatting with BN customers and passing out book marks. (There’s a little treat for anyone that buys either or both books.)

Then, the busyness continues (even more so) on 24 August, Sunday, as I spend an entire day (9-4) in Aromas (I’ll be there at 7am setting up) at their annual Aromas Days, doing more of the same — book signing and chatting, answering any questions about my books. But this time, I’ll have a bit of my art work to show off (for sale) as well, so hopefully all of that will keep me busy…but not overly busy.

There is one more event, but not until 27 August at 11am, at the San Juan Bautista Library, rubbing elbows with patrons and the SJB Library Axillary members. Depending on the time, I’m hoping to have time to do a reading from one or both of my two books that are now available, but at the very least, there will be time to answer any questions about the books.

If you live in the area, please come by either of the events this weekend, or the one on Wednesday at San Juan Bautista’s Library. I’d love to take some time to chat with you. Honest!

Blogging for today is pretty much consisting of an infomercial. My apologies. To make up for the blatant plugs, here’s an excerpt (it has not seen the red pen of a final edit yet) from the latest Secrets Beyond Scymaria series (book three), The Scymarian:

… he was ready to attack them if necessary.  But they advanced no further.  Weapon at the ready, he slowly moved forward, his mind racing with questions and strategies.  The music that surrounded him put him at ease once again, but his defensive stance remained.  He stared curiously at the three women and one boy standing before him.  The smaller woman, a girl not much younger than he, stood behind the other three, protected.  Very slowly, she raised an open hand, perhaps to show she had no weapon.  She raised her other hand in the same fashion.  He could see nothing concealed. Scanning the hands of the others, he saw they had no weapons. He had an advantage over them, perhaps.
He brought his stick to his side, again using it more to lean on than as a protective weapon. The pain at time was searing, but he tried to ignore it.

As Amy stepped forward, in line with the others, she could see he stiffened slightly.  She paused, not wanting to frighten him.  He relaxed to the music again.  Slowly, she stepped in front of the rest, bringing her outstretched and weaponless hands to her sides as she came forward.  She was now outside of Rocky’s protective cave, face to face with her would-be assailant.  The others remained just behind her, shielded.
She spoke softly, with an even tone, “I’m not going to hurt you.  I am unarmed.”  She paused to see his reaction. He cocked his head to one side for a moment, not taking his eye off of her.  Trying desperately not to reveal the fear welling up inside, Amy drew in a deep breath, expelling it slowly and steeled herself, to console this would-be friend, “I –I want to help you.  Do you understand me?”
She waited for an answer, or some other clue that he understood her.  When there was no response, she continued, “My name is Amy.  I don’t come from this world.  I am from–” she paused again.  She really didn’t know how specific she should be, since his people had been trapped for so long and probably had no recollection of where they originated.  Quickly, she made the decision to be very general.  “Um, I am from Earth.  Do you understand that?  Not from here.  From the other side.”
She saw a flash of recognition in his eyes when she mentioned the other side.
While she spoke, she kept an eye on him.  She had observed his frailness from the safety of Rocky’s interior, but now, as she stood before him, she could see he truly was nothing more than skin and bones with only the faintest outline of thin muscle barely holding him together…..

So, I hope that appeases you for another week. The story is still evolving, and once it passes over the red pen of my editor, I’m sure there will be further changes. Please feel free to pass this on to friends, either via Facebook, or as a link in an email.

Until next week, may your days find purpose, filled with unexpected blessing and joy.



Just Thought I’d let you know…

WELL, I’VE BEEN BUSY this week. Editing, “housekeeping” for the business, taking care of critter needs (those pesky toenails just keep growing back), avoiding editing, errands, household chores…and more editing. Then there are the night meetings and classes have also kept me occupied–I’ve managed to work in a few a week–oh! And lovely, wanna-pull-off-the-road-and-just-watch-the-whole-thing sunsets…so beautiful! The weather has been ripe for beautiful sunsets and (though I’ve managed to sleep through them) sunrises. Makes me want to chuck all my chores and go traipse around taking pictures! But, that pesky edit keeps tapping me on the shoulder…

Central Coastal California Sunset

Central Coastal California Sunset, just started. Taken on the fly…

And my head has been spinning all week.

At center stage, I am stalled in the editing department.

I’m battling with myself about character point of view. Convention says, stay in one head per chapter…this is so hard as the action is so fast paced and I bounce back and forth between character’s thoughts–all the time…  Apparently, occasional obvious switches are okay…but I have too many. “No, no. Way too many…,” says my editor. For those of you that have read “Secrets Beyond Scymaria”, what do you think?


So, here I am…doing re-writes, which takes time. No mistakes like last time (well, at least not the same ones). I am not going to rush things this time. I’m going to do it right–but at this rate, I may not make my “Spring Release” date.  My already-paid-for trip to Wales means, perhaps a “Early Summer Release” instead. I’d much rather get a quality product out to my readers than rush (like I did with my first book) just so I can meet a self-imposed deadline.

Well, I will just have to see how it goes. I’ll keep you updated, I promise.

At stage left, in the wings, I have an upcoming book signing–on Saturday, March 29th, a simple affair at Crossroads Christian Church (1035 Rogge Road, Salinas CA) from 11am-4pm. If I can get things together fast enough, I will have some of my artwork (and perhaps photography) for sale…and maybe even do a storytelling for the kids. As it gets closer, I’ll keep you updated. Two months seems so far away–yet, not!

I need to roll up my sleeves and get out there, pounding the cement to get a few more book signing and book reading dates lined up…in between my editing (insert eye-roll).  I’ve ordered more books and need to pull together my “Secrets Beyond Scymaria” swag–bracelets, bookmarks, book plates (and I’m looking for some new stuff to add, too–wheeee!).

Never a dull moment, that’s for sure.

In any case, I promise to keep you apprised of all that is happening. If you’re a Facebook fan, you can also see updates at my business Facebook page:–if you “Like” the page, then you will get automatic notifications.

Until next week, have a blessed time exploring what’s right in front of your nose.

Good Bye, Old Friend…

Yes, a new year is just around the corner and I greet it with open arms, eagerly willing to accept anything is has to throw at me. It will be an adventure, as always.

I will not miss the crazy hours I kept for most of 2013. I do know there will be more of that, but thankfully, less–at least, I’m hoping so. Protracted stretches of time into the wee hours of the morning, when my creativity decided to dance in my head, begging to be released will always be there, but the need to respond will not be as strong. That’s the plan, at least.

I look forward to more time behind the camera and in my studio, creating art. Though 2013 was a year of discovery for my artistic side, very little came of it. Mostly, old works, newly framed and hung, languished on the wall. I was delighted that a few pieces did sell. In 2014, I want to give wings to my Painterly side, allowing it to soar.

Hunkered in the confines of my house, writing and editing for most of 2013, left little room for travel. Oh, yes…I did manage to get away by train to Seattle for a few days to celebrate the retirement of a friend, then to Vegas to witness the union of my geeky (said lovingly) nephew to a lovely young lady. I sneaked off to take photos in the desert for short periods during my stay, which filled my heart with joy. Plus some local photo shoots resulted in some decent work. This new year will find my calendar filled with dates of travel–for the sheer joy of travel. And with photography. My heart will be bounding with joy.

Writing will always be important. I still have two books–my second and third in the series, to edit and publish, a fourth manuscript to finish so I can begin the first edit and there’s always this blog that will keep me busy.

I will be busy in 2014. I’ll be doing what I love–writing, traveling, photographing, creating art and keeping you apprised of the amazing, funny and surprising things that happen in my travels, and with my Writerly and Painterly sides.

I can hardly wait.

Until then, my faithful followers, I wish you a Happy New Year’s Eve and an amazing New Year.

May it unfold in surprising and wonderful ways. Have a joyful and blessed New Year!

A Christmas Story

 THE FOLLOWING IS A CHRISTMAS STORY I wrote in 2010 for a 101 Word Short Story project (yup, just 101 words long). For my Christmas card that year, I shaped it into a Christmas tree with a star atop. Obviously, this blog site makes adding a star difficult, so just use your imagination and see a star atop the Christmas tree.

My gift to you:


strides crunch

in the morning

snow, meandering.  Searching.

Chopping wood in the stillness

of the morning, chips fly in all directions.

    Deep footsteps trudge with the prize as the

      tree gently sweeps his steps, heading homeward.

The fire snaps and pops quietly, enveloping the room in warmth.

The piney scent of the freshly cut tree seeps into every corner as it is jostled

into place.

Ornaments, lights

give the room a

warm and festive

look.  Triumph.

And now, ready for yet another Christmas.

   But in truth, perhaps a little sadness at the loss of another beautiful tree from the woods.

101 Word Story by djamesonsmith ©12/2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May it be blessed abundantly.

Interview with YA Author Sharon Ledwith

SINCE I SEEM TO BE HAVING ISSUES with the interview I posted on the 15th, I have deleted it.  My apologies.  BUT, you may still see it by going to my FB business page–in Notes at this link.

There is a winner to announce!

My interview with Sharon Ledwith included a raffle of her two eBooks: The Legend of the Timekeepers and The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis.  The winner is Jennifer Loiske.  Congratulations, Jennifer.  Sharon will be contacting you soon with your coupons for the eBooks.

Inspiring Teens Blog Hop

IT’S ON…AND REALLY HOPPING!  The Blog Hop started this morning at Inspiring Teens Blog Hop and will be ongoing through Saturday, 19 October.

Inspiring Teens Blog Hop 14-19 October Be there or be square...

Inspiring Teens Blog Hop
14-19 October
Be there or be square…

There are a ton of YA book authors to learn about, new books to discover and bloggers that are strutting their guest authors stuff.  There are giveaways at each blog, plus at the ‘home’ site of Inspiring Teens Blog Hop.  Make sure you check it out.

Sharon Ledwith, YA author
Come by Tuesday to check out her interview!

Tomorrow, I will be hosting Sharon Ledwith with an interview and a chance to win copies of her books (they really are terrific!) and on Saturday, Robbie Cox will be hosting me as an author–and a chance to win copies of my eBook and paperback, plus a cover for a Kindle eReader!  Go to Inspiring Teens Blog Hop for further details for links and a contest for a $10 Amazon gift certificate!

SEEK THE UNKNOWN: 13-19 October Teen Read Week Blog Hop

YES, INDEED.  I’M SURE, IF YOU CHECK your local library, you will find that it will be hopping on the week of 13-19 October!  And, if not, ask why not!?  Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) has dedicated this week to teens (whether avid or reluctant readers), ages 12-18, so they can learn about books of all sorts that they will draw them into the world of reading.  Their tag line for this event is Seek The Unknown.  So fitting!

A Facebook group–specifically for parents, kids, teachers & authors–that I belong to (Inspiring Children…One Book At A Time) is planning a Blog Hop, featuring authors and their books, specifically written for this age group.  Each blogger will host an author.  There will be contests, giveaways and links to other blogs to find out about other books.

I am excited to be involved with this event:  I will be hosting an author on Tuesday, 15 October–I don’t know which one yet…and I will be hosted by a blogger as an author on Thursday, 17 October.  I also do not know which blogger as yet.  I will let you all know as soon as I find out!  I do know I will have a book to give away, along with bookmarks–and maybe a few other goodies…not sure about that yet.

If you are a teen, or if you are a parent or relative of a teen, this is a week you do not want to slip away without investigating.  There are some talented authors out there, many you probably have never heard about.  I’ve read some of their work and can tell you–it’s amazing how many gems exist in that forest of authors!

Mark your calendar: 13-19 October.  Start at the Inspiring Children’s Facebook site for the Blog Hop!   Make sure to find the time to check it out–you won’t regret it!

Blessings to you all!

Teen Read Week: October 13-19, 2013

NOW, THIS WOULD BE A GOOD TIME FOR TEENS–and their parents to get involved at their local libraries to discover the books available to them and the authors creating those books.  This event, sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) will happen online and at local libraries across the country.  YALSA  is a national association of librarians, library workers and advocates whose mission is to expand and strengthen library services for teens, ages 12-18. Through its member-driven advocacy, research, and professional development initiatives, it builds the capacity of libraries and librarians to engage, serve and empower teens.

I’m not sure, but it looks like this is YALSA’s second year doing Teen Read Week and looks to be the beginning of something big!

So, join us as we collective of bloggers and authors help out during this week in October with a Teen Week Blog Hop.  Bloggers and authors will be teamed up to help promote and talk about the books that are available for teens, ages 12-18.

If you are in the twittersphere, use this hashtag to get the word out: #TRW13

I’ll update you as information is made available.  Go to YALSA’s website to sign up or for more details.  For those authors that peruse this blog, to find out more details click on the Author’s link.

Don’t forget: Teen Read Week: October 13-19, 2013.  Make a point of checking it out!