Autumnal Life Along the Coast

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upcoming Events

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

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

 

 

Killing Time and Art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fall … And All That Entails!

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Novel Writing Month

Pencils sharpened, computer charged…ready to go!

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

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

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

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

Event Schedule through November, 2018

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

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

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

Thursday 23 November HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY!

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

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

 

Spinning My Wheels …


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Jumble and ScurryMorning in ParadiseHarvest Jubilee at Compass Church

It’s An Author’s Life …


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Toodles till next time!

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

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

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

Indie Author Day 2018
Monterey Public Library

625 Pacific Street, Monterey, CA 93940

Coincidence? I Think Not …


 

I RAN INTO A FRIEND, AS IT OFTEN HAPPENS, whilst shopping at Safeway. I haven’t seen her since I was at her house—about a month before I left for my trip to the UK, so it was a delight to find time to chat. Aaannd boy, did we chat! There was so much to talk about.

It wasn’t a chance meeting. Nope. There’s no such thing in God’s world. We were meant to bump into each other. It’s never just a coincidence. There’s always a purpose. Discovering that purpose can be a challenge at times, but I’m never disappointed when I delve deeper to find it. This time, it was easy. In our long conversation, I kept hearing a specific word used again and again—one I felt like I needed to embrace.

Sustain
Suh-steyn
—verb (used with object)
•to support, hold, or bear up from below; bear the weight of, as a structure.
•to bear (a burden, charge, etc.).
•to undergo, experience, or suffer (injury, loss, etc.); endure without giving way or yielding.
•to keep (a person, the mind, the spirits, etc.) from giving way, as under trial or affliction.
•to keep up or keep going, as an action or process: to sustain a conversation.

There were at least ten definitions in my iPhone dictionary, but the first five were the point of the discussion my friend and I were having—as in, God sustains us. It was like having a mini-bible study in the middle of a very busy store. It was kinda cool. And a blessing—for both of us.

We all have problems—whether personal, financial, health, or whatever … and we juggle the rest of our life around them. Some of us feel we must “marshal on”, doing the best we can with what we have—and feel the burden is ours alone to carry. We whisper to ourselves, “I can do it myself”. Like my recent ankle injuries … my stupidity (not paying attention to my surroundings, so I twisted my ankle and fell), my problem—right? “I’ll manage.”

Then, there are those that know from the get-go that they have someone very special they can draw upon—dare I say lean upon—to help them get through any situation. Not unlike each time my husband was rushed by ambulance to the ER. I never hesitated—I wanted Him to be in control of the situation, so I prayed. And gave the entire situation to Him.

Personally—and usually without realising it, I see-saw back and forth between those two very real “attitudes”—and sometimes somewhere in between. In most cases, it finally dawns on me and I eventually hand it over to Him—but not always (and sometimes I steal it back …). He waits—waits for me to realise he will gladly take the burden and carry me through. He wants to sustain me. But, I must remember to ask—to willingly give it to Him; to turn over the problem to Him. Until I do, I’m literally on my own.

Perhaps, by remembering that phrase—”He will sustain me”—making it a mantra until it is ingrained in my mind, then it will be second nature to give all of my problems to him in the first place and not waste a lot of unproductive time trying to do it by myself. This is a good week to practice, that’s for sure. I’m juggling way too many things, and in the process, some of the “balls” have been dropped, creating a poorer-quality than desired result. I didn’t give it to God … <insert severe eye-roll> … when will I learn?

Two events loom—Friday night (tonight!) and Saturday—and I am ill-prepared. It’s never too late to ask for help, but I must also be prepared to take on the consequences of my fumbling. I am willing. The events will go well, just not as well as I envisioned, God willing.

Have an amazing Friday and weekend … and may you find a balance between “doing it myself” and giving it up to that higher power in your life. May it be a blessed week … and if you are local and have time, please do drop by one or both events:

Open Ground Studios: Making Our Mark
1230 Fremont Blvd, Seaside
Friday, September 21  5:30-7:30pm
Artist collective group exhibition. Featured work by:
Alyssa Endo
Bonnie Rose
Cindy Davis
Deb Burke
Denese Sanders
Dora Lisa Rosenbaum
Helen Sakkaris
Koko (Donna) Kooyman
Kristin Peterson Guertin
Linda Lay
Noriko Constant
Paul Richmond
Renata Carettoni Abma
Susie Berteaux
Terese Garcia
Yvonne Gorman

Book Signing and Art at Gilroy Sidewalk Sale and Craft Fair
Downtown Gilroy on 5th Street between Monterey & Eigleberry Streets
Saturday, September 22nd. 10am to 4pm
Books • Art • Crafts
 Authors dj jameson smith and Joyce Oroz will be participating in the craft fair portion of this event. They will have their fantasy and cozy mystery book series available for purchase. Joyce Oroz has a new children’s book available—and she just finished another mystery (location is in Gilroy and Morgan Hill), which will be available very soon—find out details on Saturday. Author dj jameson smith will also be wearing her Painterly hat on Saturday and will have photographic and photopolymer prints on display, along with blank photo note cards—all for sale.
Come join the fun, poke around all the booths along 5th Street—we’re sure you’ll find something to your liking.
Event is free; family friendly.

“Progress” On Republishing the Series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Planning Ahead … Book Signings (and art)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Travel Blog: Week One, Part Two

{Well … I was wondering why this was sitting in the draft “pile”. Guess I forgot to combine the one I ended up posting with this one, so you get two blogs today <insert sheepish grin …> Bear with me … I’ll eventually edit and combine the two together so this isn’t permanently plopped into the middle of the trip. Oopsie. So sorry.}

ON MY MARK, GET SET … GO! THE TRIP HAS BEGUN! Sandy’s husband was so kind as to cart us up to the San Francisco airport (thank you, John!!), where we caught a 5:30pm flight to Dublin. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never taken Aer Lingus, so it was a new experience. As much as I love to take pictures of the clouds—I have such a plethora of clouds-from-a-plane photos—I would much rather have an aisle seat so that I can get up and stretch. I really didn’t know what to expect in the way of seating—whether it would be like packed sardines or if there would be much in the way of leg room (after all, Aer Lingus is a no-frills airline…). Yes, that meant I needed to accommodate the window and middle seat passengers, but I’d much prefer the ease of getting up to stretch or use the WC. Yup … definitely.

Sandy sat in the aisle seat across from me (and we have the same set-up for our return flight). Both flights are non-stop—something I’d recommend, if you can afford it. As far as I’m concerned, it’s well worth the extra expense for peace of mind. No dealing with rushing to catch the next leg of the journey … or missed or cancelled connecting flights. Definitely worth it.

We arrived on Thursday, 17 May around noon—I was a little preoccupied with deplaning (grabbing my carry-on), grabbing baggage and finding our rental car to take notice. Our ticket says 11:50am as an arrival time—a little over ten hours in the air. How did I fare flying with Aer Lingus?

Thursday was spent getting settled in and adjusting to the 8-hour time change (extra hours, mind you … so an extra long day). And I had to juggle when to take my medicines—that’s always fun. Departure/arrival day is always a jumble where my medications are concerned (insert big eye-roll here—haha). At least there are only two pills that are prescriptions (and the doses are low enough that taking sooner than scheduled—or even later—is not a bad/harmful thing. Hopefully my doctors never hear about the weird scheduling I always end up doing (insert eye-roll … teehee). Friday—aaack … that’s today—is our first full day in Dublin and I will be back on schedule medicine-wise. And we will begin our exploring slowly—working up our stamina for all that walking (insert sheepish grin). I am so excited to finally get to Dublin (and Ireland/UK in general) and show Sandy all the neat things there are to see! Sadly, even with two and a half months, we will not see everything, since it is, of course, a leisurely trip.

I wish you a blessed Friday and weekend. Hopefully there will be a good internet connection to get this blog out to you on schedule! Until next Friday and the second installment of our travels—slainté!

Perfection … ?

NOWHERE IN THIS WORLD WILL YOU find a person that is perfect. Nope. Not anywhere. One can strive for perfection. One can attain a moment of perfection—like a tear drop in the ocean of life—one tiny moment. That’s all. Life is too messy for perfection. Those that continually attempt to achieve the impossible can find themselves very unhappy because it always remains just out of their reach. Does that mean we shouldn’t try? Oh, absolutely not—we must realise it is not something to attain, but rather, something to use as a goal … to continually strive toward.

For me? Well, I think I love the “messiness” of life. It creates challenges, discoveries and life lessons. Of course, there has been only one being that managed to achieve perfection. Only one—and it was not just anyone. I use His perfection is a goal—a goal I know I will never fully manage in this worldly life. But He knows that. We are all damaged goods, but He knows we are worth salvaging … worth saving, if we ask …

The messiness. I’m trying to figure out why I’m writing about this. It’s as plain as the nose on my face, right? My life is messy. Beautifully messy. And since I seem so disorganised of late, is everything around me is too (insert goofy grin). My home, yard, cars, my art and writing … it can be overwhelming. Honestly. But for some reason, it isn’t—once upon a time, it certainly was … but not now. Back when I was incapable of getting out into the yard to do the tiniest bit of cleanup or lacking the energy to do a simple pick-up around the house, or even put words on a page—oh, yes. That was overwhelming. Emotionally and physically. Thankfully, now my energy and strength is returning—finally (aaah, insert Snoopy’s happy dance here!!) I have been in the yard and puttering around the house all the time. Creativity abounds. Words flow. Still messy, but delightfully so.

The mess created over the last two years is mountainous—but I’m finding as long as I keep going (and with the occasional help of a team of gardeners), it gets better looking, which encourages me to do even more. Weird, but it’s the visual accomplishments—improvements—that keep me at it. The pressure is off (but not forgotten)—where fire safety is concerned—rain has quelled that. I’m past the “ugh—I need to get out of this mess (read: MOVE!) and start over”—I’m so glad to have moved beyond that horrible feeling of frustration. And, finally, my mind is beginning to move beyond “what’s next/now what?” to “how can I improve/beautify?” Ideas are pouring into my mind from who knows where. It’s exciting.

My messy life extends into every corner of my creativity. I find myself (finally) back to seriously working on all three of my Writerly projects—book one’s edit (so it can be republished with Inknbeans Press), book four’s edit (so it can finally be published … and book five (I am progressing in it nicely—it is an exciting “chapter” in the series). The life lessons continue through the series … and I still don’t know what the final book will be—book six? Book seven? Only my characters know for sure. They’ll clue me in at some point—hopefully.

Even my Painterly side seems to be re-ignited. I’ve acquired a new, much larger printer so I can make larger pieces of art—that definitely excites me (still have to figure out out to set it up, but that’s half the fun, right?)—I can hardly wait to begin playing with it. The funny thing is, there are only two more events (one this weekend and one the second week of December), so there’s no way I’m going to produce any new material for this year’s events. The nice thing is, that doesn’t really bother me. The important thing is that I’m re-energised … on fire. And I’m loving it!

The end of November and the whole of December are times of renewal for me … I do have personal (fun) commitments—parties, family events and outings with friends, both day and night. I am so ready to get back to being normal … it has taken two long years. God is good … especially when I remember all things can be done and will happen—in His time, not mine. So … I’m not going to waste a moment.

In the meantime, my dear readers, try not to stress over the upcoming holidays … just be in the moment, take in the joy where you can and shake off the craziness that others try to foist upon you. There is so much to be thankful for. Start counting all of those little things that help you get through each day … have a blissful, blessed Thanksgiving with family and friends, and I’ll see you just after Thanksgiving—no Black Friday for me. Maybe I’ll wander around Point Lobos or venture down into Big Sur—it’s opened partway, so it would be nice to see the area again!

And readers—watch out. Keep an eye out for New Things in the New Year.

FINAL EVENTS:
Book Signings and Art at Craft Fairs

Saturday-Sunday 18-19 November 10am-4pm
Aromas Grange, Aromas CA

Thursday-Friday 7-8 December 10am-4pm
Watsonville Community Hospital, Watsonville CA

 

 

 

Nature’s Colour

IN ORGANISING FOR THE UPCOMING book signing in San Juan Bautista—it’s coming up fast … 14 July, I found myself out and about, enjoying the early summer colours. Though our book signing location—Jardines (a delightful Mexican restaurant)—has many Beautiful Garden at Jardinescacti in their gardens, there’s also an abundance of other plants that flourish. Some blooms have already come and gone, but there are many still going strong. (please click on the individual photos to get better, larger images)

Seeing all of the abundant beauty there put my “radar” on high alert (subconsciously) and I started to see flowers

Carmel View

Looking south from Mission Ranch Restaurant

Pink Everywhere You Look

Flush with Pink!

Loads of pink!

and beautiful leaf formations everywhere. A dinner in Carmel (near the Mission) with an out-of-town friend

yielded some lovely blossoms. And some I haven’t seen since I was a much, much younger person.

Yellow Straw Flower

A straw flower—I haven’t seen these in years!

Spider Alert ...

I knew I saw something … had to wait till I got it on the screen—tiny guy!

Definitely a weed …

Not sure if it’s a weed …

 

 

 

 

All around my yard, as ragged and unloved as it is at present, yielded some faithful bloomers. Even some of the weeds were fascinating.
(Oh, my … these went all wonky—well, at least you can still see them …)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst shopping for sundries in Target, I wandered down their dollar aisles and found some cute little blue flower pots—little flower kits—for a flower I’ve Forget-Me-Not Kitalways meant to put into my garden: forget-me-not. Teehee … a little ironic what with my memory and all (insert eye roll and a quiet giggle here). They’ve taken off—they’re still at the two-leaf stage, Forget-Me-Not Seedlingsbut that will change quickly … and I don’t have a place to put them yet that will be safe from the deer. But I look forward to their blooms.

So, as I gear up for my next two book signings, I am keeping nature’s gems on my radar. It’s calming—all things natural are calming, but flowers and forests are top on the list. I certainly hope that you will find some serendipitous blooms in your life, whether they be of the flowering kind or life-events. Have a wonderful weekend and week to come.

Two Book Signing with Two Local Authors
Friday, 14 July, 2017 4-8pm
in San Juan Bautista, California
Jardines de San Juan Mexican Restaurant
in the Garden
and
Saturday, 29 July, 2017 10am-4pm
at Books and Brews Summer Festival
314 Estrella Avenue, LaSelva Beach California
LaSelva Beach Clubhouse and Lawn

Join us!
Additional events listed
here

 

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!

 

Upcoming Events

Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smithWELL, IT HAS BEGUN … AND I’M NOT sure I’m ready for it (what’s new). Friday, June 23rd begins our (Joyce Oroz and yours truly) book signing and appearances. This first one is a low key event at the “new” Starbucks in Prunedale—in the Prunetree Shopping Center. We’ll be set up inside at one of the tables (yay … since weather has been awfully fickle lately. It was drizzly on Thursday—don’t want to get our books wet!). The next one will be up in San Juan Bautista at Jardines Restaurant in their beautiful garden, possibly on July 15—we’re still negotiating that one. Then over to LaSelva Beach at the library on July 29th.

Unfortunately, the Inknbeans Press’ annual get-together and “across-the-country” book signing (in September) in N. Carolina has been cancelled. Sounds like we out-of-town writers messed up and didn’t get our confirmations in on time. Our bad … and our loss. That one would have been fun. We’ll give it a go next year. And … the application for the October Harvest Jubilee in Salinas just came in, so I’ll be getting that filled out and sent in very soon—I’ll be able to display my art along with my books. I love it when I can combine the two loves of my life.

I’m trying to keep the Facebook business page up to date—in Notes, I’ve got a note titled: 2017 Book Signings and Appearances that has all of the dates, whether confirmed or still negotiating. I do need to update the list with the above mentioned items, so give me a couple of days to do that.

In the meantime, I’m trying to get all my ducks in a row (business & personal), mind my p’s and q’s (health-wise 😳)—trying to follow doctors’ orders … and survive another week (sad that it’s come to that, but hopefully “that” situation will be short-lived).

So, my dear friends, enjoy your Friday and the ensuing weekend and I’ll see you next Friday. May it be blessed abundantly!!

 

 

 

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).

 

Gally One and What IS This Crazy Weather …?

[Dear Readers: My apologies for the length of this blog—no good spot to cut it. Sigh.]

WELL, IT’S BEEN A VERY INTERESTING TWO weeks. Between threats of major storms, I managed to make it down to The LAX Travelodge—reasonable traffic (considering it’s LA), not bad accommodations and service for what we needed. And not too bad a walk (0.5mile—three long blocks) to the event hotel—Marriott at LAX. That is … if my knee wasn’t throwing fits and the wind was trying to turn my umbrella inside out. Still, all in all, it was not bad.

I left home on Wednesday and made my ritual over-night stop at Lebec, hoping I would be in good enough shape to trudge around taking pictures—beautiful mountainous countryside. Mmm … not if I wanted to keep my camera dry and me upright. Fits of rain intermingled with bigger fits of wind (gusts) … and exhaustion kept me from playing with my good camera. I was going to take a few Blustery Skies ...shots from the window (a south-easterly view), but really not much of a view—18-wheelers were parked between the hotel and my view. Drats. Well, this one is from my return trip.

Since I ended up with loads of “chill-time” on my hands in Lebec, I caught up on what wasForcasting Rain happening at home via my iPhone and Facebook. The beginnings of a monster storm front started to dump rain … by the time I arrived in LA (actually, Inglewood) the next day, the front had hit the entire coast line—including LA. It only took a little over 1.5 hrs to get to the Travelodge from Lebec and thankfully they were able to accommodate my early arrival (yay). So I settled in and leisurely Dr. Who Paraphinalia unpacked before trudging up to the Marriott. Registration officially opened at 3pm … so I wandered around up in the Lobby for a bit before heading downstairs—plenty to do. By the time I got down there, they were already allowing people through (around 2:15-ish). Score! No queuing, no waiting! Lovely.

Whilst waiting in the faux-line, I met two gentlemen from Canada. After I was asked a few questions—I won’t say what, as John will probably use the same ones next year … we exchanged con ribbons—not my first since I was activelyRibbon Collecting Begins seeking people out up in the Lobby to share my ribbons (and hope to get some in exchange). John and Jake turned out to be hilarious—quick, dry wit that had me in stitches. We ran into each other over and over all weekend—and they had new costumes for each day. Jake did purchase all three of my books on Saturday—I was ecstatic! If he likes them, he promised to do a review and spread the word up in Canada! Yay! Saturday was the “dress your best” day—costumes were absolutely magnificent on everyone!

I nearly forgot the two Thursday events: trip to the local InNOut Burger place (unofficial)—poor locals never know what hit ’em—and Ice Cream Social Ice Cream Socialthe ice cream social (official) … both were tons of fun (but I cheated—took a taxi A Sneak Peek at Dealer's Roomto and from the InNOut Burger spot … I vividly remember the walk last year—LOL).

Captain Jack

Captain Jack

The costuming all weekend was amazing—especially on Awesome Weeping AngelSaturday as I mentioned. Weeping Angles (very few this year, but that made the ones I saw more special), tons of different Osgood or Zygon ...? Third DoctorDoctors, oodles of Amys, Daleks, TARDIS costumes in various shapes and sizes, a delightful K-9 Lovely Cardboard K-9(full size, but of cardboard and pulled about on a leash), Osgood … oooh, the list goes on. This year, I chose to not cosplay, but rather wear a hodge-podge of Dr. Who things: 4th Doctor’s hat and scarf, question mark pin (I didn’t realise so many doctors used that—three of them to be precise … do you A Bevy of Doctors Sutek and Mummiesknow which ones without googling it?), bow tie of the 9th My "Cosplay" AttireDoctor, vest of Sarah Jane … etc. I left the Osgood lab coat in my bag—no glasses (they broke the week before I left) to make it official. I also left Sarah Jane’s raincoat behind. I didn’t want to be lugging it around—no cloak room. Next year … I plan on making my cosplay outfits (only two) much more special. Next year—that is, if I’m able to manage scoring a pass …

I did have an umbrella—a Doctor Who “special” umbrella (insert huge grin) Dr. Who Umbrella-Inside Dr. Who Umbrella-Outsidethat I found a rubber tip for (I used it as a cane on Thursday—oh, yeah … I’ll explain that later) I finally got to use it asUmbrella ... and Crutch an umbrella on Friday and Saturday. It’s gorgeous—and huge! I didn’t need any other protection and stayed relatively dry—once I worked out how to keep it from becoming a “rain collector” (sniggle) and still keep the rain off.

I scoped out the Dealers Room as early on as I couldDr. Who Pins and found my two missing pins for myA Sneak Peek at Dealers Room hat—the War Doctor and 12th Doctor (Capaldi). Yay! That made me happy!

My buddies that came down late had awesome costumes! Renée was a very posh Dalek and Pam had a dress with the exploding TARDIS. Friends' Cosplay OutfitsMichelle chose to be neutral—she’s not into cosplay, which is perfectly fine! She and I did a number of the talks together … we only occasionally saw Pam or Renée (at Gally) since they had their own agendas for the talks.

Ood

Gallifrey One was amazing, running smoothly throughout the weekend. The all-volunteer staff did a marvelous job. Kudos—to all of them—for their tireless work that made the event such a fun time. I didn’t do Best Doctor Cosplay Ever What Can You Do With Ribbons??Queen Elisabeth or Zygon ?? Dalek Ood and Nurseany of the autograph or photo sessions like I did last year as I was feeling a bit “poor”—unwilling to spend the money for the opportunities. I did attend quite a few talks, both in the main room and auxiliary rooms.  And … unfortunately, I did not go on Sunday. My injured knee (remember the “caned” umbrella? That was not a Ooooh!prop—I trashed my knee … and ankles at the end of January), using a cane instead of the crutch for two days and all the walking took its toll on yours truly. So instead, I packed up my bags, put them in the car and headed home—I was going to try to do it in one day, but knew I needed the down-time in Lebec, so I made reservations at “my” Motel 6.

My trip home was relatively uneventful … Leaving LebecStop For BreakfastOminous Cloudsuntil I was about fifteen minutes away from my house. Flooding, downed trees/power lines and road closures from slides Accumulation of Rain (Wed-Mon)Flooded CulvertDowned Trees—Across Power LinesMore Downed Trees On My StreetUmbrella Damage Umbrella Damage Umbrella Damagebrought the highway to a standstill. I attempted to take alternate routes, but the country roads couldn’t handle the amount of rain and were completely flooded, so back to the highway to wait it out with everyone else. It took over an hour to drive a normally 15-minute drive. I came home to no power and a boil water notice. A tree came down and took out the water pipe for our little community. They had it fixed by the time I got home, but contaminants were in the system (my neighbor had told me to just stay where I was, but I really just wanted to come home, so I had steeled myself for the worst). It wasn’t too bad—that’s what blankets, coats and bottled water are for … and power was back on 24 hours after I got home (still on a Boil Water order … hope that ends soon because hand-washing dishes with boiled water is a nuisance). A glass-topped table with an opened umbrella toppled over. Only damage was to the umbrella (yay) and an aluminum ladder that mysteriously moved in the winds. There’s lots of very soggy ground so I’m treading lightly. I consider myself extremely lucky. No, let me amend that comment—I am blessed. There’s no luck involved.

Many people have standing water—or even literally running water—rushing through their homes. The roads are not just flooded, but in many cases the foundation of the road has given way and whole sections of road are gone. In the case of Big Sur, slides and flooding are the least of the problem—one bridge near Pfeiffer has been deemed unsafe and will need to come down and rebuilt. Our area is not the only area that has been inundated by the storms. Dams and roads in Oroville, San Jose and Yosemite (to name o few) have been compromised with flooding and erosion. Getting out from under all of this damage is going to take time  … and money—lots of it—and I’m not sure California has planned for a catastrophe of this magnitude.

I still have to clean up around my property plus empty out my refrigerator and freezer—”better to be safe than sorry” is the adage I’m holding on to—then make a trip to the dump to toss the spoiled food. We have a few days respite before the next round comes.

My biggest concern is that I live on a hill … I’m praying that my hillside stays put.

Dear readers, please enjoy your Friday and the coming week. If you’re a praying sort, please pray for California and all of the effected residents—for their safety, for dams to hold back their burgeoning water supply and for this rain to slow to a trickle for the remainder of the rainy season.

The drought is over for the majority of the state—a blessing. Have a serendipitous week, my friends.

 

 

 

2016 … The End Is Nigh

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

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

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

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

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

What’s Right In the World-Part One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

Traveling Light-Part Four

FINALLY … WE GET TO THE REASON I started this whole

Welcome to Memphis

Welcoming sign at Steve’s home

series. My trip revolved around lugging my books all the way to Memphis, to the Mid-South Book Festival.

It was quite an affair. But, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself. Though my main purpose was to attend the Festival and meet all my fellow “Beans”, I had grand visions (or was it delusions …) of traipsing all over the countryside, snapping impressive photos of the area. Except, the stifling temperatures on top of the oppressive humidity turned me into a sweaty puddle of I-don’-wanna-do-it … meaning I had extra days (aka extra and unnecessary room charges—sigh …) with no real benefit.

You know what they say about best laid plans … yup.

So … I chilled (literally) in my air-conditioned room and drove in my air-conditioned car, but never stepped foot into the world of Memphis prior to our events, except to go into grocery stores, purchasing simple, microwavable food to sustain me. I was pretty disappointed in myself for not being adventurous enough to deal with the weather. Not having the right clothes—and fearing mosquito bites (I understand they rival the Minnesota variety in their ability to haul off their prey … and I have a tendency to swell up badly when they attack)—all of that did have a bearing on me not wanting to be out in nature.

My driving around came in handy, though. I checked out the AirBnb place we were all going to stay on Friday and knew several routes to and from my hotel to that location … and knew where grocery stores were in close proximity to the AirBnb, so I was helpful to others once they did arrive.

Our AirBnb DigsOur digs and our neighbourhood were wonderful—actually, over the top. I’m not sure everyone had an opportunity to poke around the neighbourhood, but … oh, my. Gorgeous homes. In my area, they would have gone for a cool million at the low end. There was plenty of room for everyone at our AirBnb—there were seven or eight of us staying

Jackson & Gregg

chilling at our AirBnb digs.

there (can’t remember), with a large living room for us to gather and talk, a door to close off the sleeping area so not to disturb the early-to-bed folks (as long as we remembered to shut the door, that is … teehee!) and two eating areas. We were only 20-or so minutes from our venue, which was perfect. And only a stones throw (mmm … ten to fifteen minutes) from our “host” Bean, Steve Gibbs. Our “Boss Bean” stayed with the Gibbs and we had a lovely dinner there after the crazy Saturday event, finally meeting his beautiful (in all ways, inside and out), vivacious wife as these two gracious people opened their home to us.

Having settled into our new digs, we got fancified for the Friday night meet ‘n greet (I can’t believe I have no photos of that night).  Delicious food (I especially loved the alligator—considering I couldn’t have the two shellfish items … serious pout here), great entertainment and of course, time to get to know my fellow “Beans” from Inknbeans Press much better.

The next day started early—trying to get all of us showered and ready for the day was a challenge, but we were up to the task. Books, extraneous promo material, authors and publisher piled into a three cars to keep the nightmare of finding parking to a minimum. After arriving, we unloaded our paraphernalia into our

More Inknbeans Press Authors

L-R: Candy Ann, Robin and Kitty

designated spot and set up under a massive tent, set up in the middle of a side street, just off the main drag through town. Who-knows how many authors and publisher … and a few sales venues gathered underneath. There was a group of high school musicians wandering around, playing jazzy-bluesy music the whole time—

Jazz Band

Our entertainment whilst we sold our wares …

quite good, but they settled down in front of us for a bit and made it impossible for us to hear or converse with passers-by. Situated at the back corner, we garnering the brunt wind—which was perfectly okay by me.  It was what kept me from literally melting into one large puddle. Seriously.

Inknbeans Press Authors

L-R:Candy Ann, Kitty, Steve, Jackson (and his dad, Gregg)

And, it allowed me to wander around (with my camera, of course) to stretch my legs during the event without turning into a big puddle. You will find those (and a couple more) photos at the end of this blog. My apologies—I culled quite a few, leaving very few to share.

Our youngest author, Jackson (age 17) did great guns selling his two books. He made the rest of us look pathetic, but I’m all for how well he did. I think I tied with another author in sales, but I’m not really counting. This whole experience, though expensive, put us into a new “reader pool”, getting the word out on our titles, no matter how many we sold. An expensive promotion for me, but I had a blast, was able to meet some of the authors at Inknbeans Press and enjoyed meeting our “Boss” again. I could not be happier with my decision. I’m so glad I’m part of the Hill of Beans.

I was the only one to stay on, with my flight not scheduled till Monday afternoon, so I came back to the hotel where I planted myself for one more night. I spent the afternoon and evening packing and repacking in preparation for my (thankfully uneventful) flights home.

As much fun as I had, I was definitely glad to be home … it’s always good to come home after traveling for any length of time.

Have a blessed Friday and weekend. I’ll be gearing up for some deadlines that are looming: NaNoWrimo is upon us with planned meet-ups, preparation for the annual member exhibition at Open Ground Studios and quite a few book signings in tandem with my art.

Textures-Pampas Grass Memphis ReflectionsJazz/Blues Band


 

 

 

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.