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.

Common Ground

AAAAH … THE RAINY SEASON IS UPON US. Here in California, we can only hope and pray that it continues — to help pull us out of our five-year drought. As I lounge on the couch writing this, I can see out the window … up through the oak trees to see beautiful clouds floating by. Between the trees and the clouds, very little blue sky is visible, but the sun is out — since the very beginning of the day, but it looks like the clouds are going to dominate. There’s no forecast for rain, but I wouldn’t mind if they were wrong. We are so desperate for rain … every little bit helps.

But as delightful — and necessary — as rain is for us right now, historically, people don’t like to get out into it. To drive in it; to walk in it … which causes a problem for vendors at the craft fairs that are Final Set Up at Watsonville Elks Lodgeeverywhere this time of year. And, thankfully for the third year, I’m one of those vendors hawking my wares Settled In At Watsonville Elks Lodge(books and art) many weekends, from late October through mid-December.

Up until last weekend, everything was wonderful — no rain and a bevy of people, chatting with us then buying books and art. This last weekend Author's Corner at Aromas Grange… well, it was mixed. Saturday had very little rain and we did well. After we closed up shop and off n’ on overnight, it rained. On Sunday there were ominous clouds and threats of rain which turned into a couple spritzes here and there. The turnout seemed much lower (I did not keep track of numbers). More time between people stopping to chat. Or perhaps it was just that the “purchasing” crowd was lower … more “lookie-lous” than buyers, flying past our booth.

Of course I like to have sales, but I have so much fun talking with people too — whether they are interested in buying or not. Finding out about their likes and dislikes, what they enjoy reading (many times it’s not fantasy … and that’s okay — I get leads on some good books to investigate), what their family members like to read … or what kind of art they like. I also get feedback on what they think of my story line and art. For an introvert (yeah, really I am. I think I’d classify myself as a “socialised introvert” — though my daughter would disagree, saying I’m an outright extrovert since I’m able to talk with “complete strangers”) I have found my niche with chatting-up small numbers of people, discussing a variety of things. Strangers, yes. But, not really. We have one of two (or both) things in common. Each of us likes to read … or likes some form of art — or we discover something totally unexpected that connects us. A common ground to begin our conversations.

Having Joyce Oroz as my cohort-in-crime Joyce Oroz, Mystery Writer… with her Josephine Stuart Mysteries and my “somewhat-like-CS Lewis’-Narnia” fantasy, the two of us reel-in a very diverse crowd. Some are of the “love-mysteries-but-hate-fantasy” camp … and visa versa, which keeps us on our toes. And, since I’ve fallen in love with Joyce’s mysteries … and I’m the more out-going (and the more vocal) of the two, I find myself “selling” — talking-up — her books as well as mine. Someone even joked that I should be paid for my sales pitches … which I laugh off. Paid? Nope … then it wouldn’t be as much fun.

Having common ground … oh, I could go so many places with that, but I’ll stick to relatively safe ground. The dictionary says: “common ground •a point or argument accepted by both sides in a dispute. •ideas or interests shared by different people.” It’s what brings people together, focusing on shared interests, rather than everything that could build walls between people. For me, that means spending time with like-minded artist, writers, photographers — even though there may be a financial, political or religious (or whatever) chasm between us. We still enjoy sharing ideas, methods — and so much more that can enrich us as individuals and perhaps change how we perceive/create things. I’m always open to learning new things. It’s part of the challenge of being me. Keeping me enlivened, enthusiastic, responsive and open to change.

What is common ground for you? Could you walk up to someone — whether you know them or not — and discover common ground so that you could carry on a friendly, intelligent, non-divisive conversation? Or are your walls built so high that no one could scale them so you could find something exciting to talk about … to enlarge your knowledge base without an agenda? Ooh. Did that ruffle any feathers? It wasn’t meant to do that, but I’m sure there may be a few.

My dear readers, may this Day-After-Thanksgiving Friday — and in the coming week — find you open to new ideas, bursting with creativity and blessed.

Back in the Saddle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a blessed day—and weekend.

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

 

It’s A No Blog Blog …

I’M GOING TO BE UPFRONT WITH YOU. My writerly brain has turned to mush. And because of that there is no blog for today … or will there be?

I’ve tried taking a number of draft blogs and expounding upon them but I am so entrenched in getting ready for the Open Ground Studios Co-op Member show that I cannot concentrate. I’m still scrambling due to some very strange circumstances on Thursday. It exhausts me to even think about the craziness that became Thursday.

So, instead I will simply be thankful. Thankful that Thursday has come and gone; that it is Friday and I will be setting up the table this afternoon for the Aromas Hills Artisans’ Holiday Art Festival that is happening this weekend. Thankful that the pressure will be off (mostly). Thankful that there are only a few more pieces of art to prepare for this weekend—and for the Open Ground Studios show, which opens on the 25th … and goodies to gather up for the OGS Artists’ Reception and Holiday Party happening on Friday, 4 December.

And … I’ll leave it at that. Short blog. Perhaps next week my brain and thoughts will gel better. Until then, have a blessed weekend!

AHA Holiday Art Festival

Come one, come all to this delightful event! (click on picture for more detail)

Holiday Art Festival: November 21-22 10:00-4:00 at the Aromas Grange
Art of all kinds, beautifully crafted items, books by
dj jameson smith (fantasy) and Joyce Oroz (mystery). Both authors will be available to sign their books.

Co-op Artist Showcase Exhibition: November 25, 2015 – January 21, 2016

With Special Guests:
Monterey Peninsula College Drawing Students
Presented by Instructor Bob Lamp

Artist Reception & Holiday Party: December 4, 5:30-7:30pm
Free and open to the public
Open Ground Studios Gallery
1230 Fremont Blvd. Seaside, CA 93955

The evening festivities include a raffle with beautiful holiday prizes, hot cider, refreshments and community cheer!

For More Information:
Denese Sanders, OGS Artistic Director
Tel: 831-241-6919 | Cell: 861-236-8636
Email: info@opengroundstudios.com
Website: opengroundstudios.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/opengroundstudio

 

It’s All About Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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