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


 

 

 

Reflections of a different sort

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life’s Stages

SOMETIMES I FIND MYSELF STUMBLING through life, taking falls, picking myself up, dusting myself off and plodding forward, hoping to make it to the end of the day in one piece. Other times, it’s as if the seas part—there’s not one obstacle in my path and I’m almost flying … with exuberant joy through the day.

As a young adult, I must confess, I was pretty myopic. Very unaware of anything that didn’t directly impact me. Completely naive of the terrors in the world, seeing only the good in everyone. A flower child if there ever was one, wearing rose-coloured glasses.

I’d like to say that I’ve held on to that glass-half-full optimism about most people and the rose-coloured glasses aren’t too far out of reach, but some skepticism has crept in, bit by bit as I’ve gotten older. Thankfully, still not bad, though.

Even as I aged (gracefully, I hope), I still found most people could be trusted and I’d willingly give my all to support them, whether friends, strangers or employers. I’m glad that helping others seems to come naturally. Doing what needs to be done. And I love doin’ it—even now. I’m not driven like some (who I admire for the fire in their hearts), but I will not waiver from the standards set by my parents. No compromising. No cutting corners. And if I promise to do something, my word is my bond. It will happen—unless I’m on my deathbed … it will happen (as long as I remember that I’ve made the commitment—I’ve taken to writing them into my calendar so I won’t forget!). There have been times that I wonder what on earth I was thinking, but since I said I’d do it, well … I did it—no backing out.

I don’t think that will ever change, no matter how old I get—at least, I certainly hope not. Things happen slower these days—that makes me laugh.  Yup … I’ve slowed down. A lot. Still getting things done … just a whole lot slower. Maybe a little too slow for some people, but that’s okay.

To steal a saying my daughter “coined” when she was just five (when we were pushing her to finish her food—she was such a slow eater … sniggle) … “I’m savouring it”, she’d say (where on earth does a five year old come up with a response like that?? LOL). I’m savouring it. Yes, indeed. I am savouring life with all its intricacies, ups and downs … and surprises. Serendipity at its best.

So I’m slower. That’s okay. It allows me to take more in. To savour everything I see. To stop and “smell the roses” …

Have you ever zoomed down the road, completely unaware of the things happening along the road side? Well, perhaps it’s time to slow down, take a look now and then to see just what is happening around you. Yup. To quote one of my favourite songs … “slow down, you’re movin’ to fast—gotta make the mornin’ last. Just kicking down the cobble stone …” (insert dreamy-eyed smile … yeah, love this song!) …

 

Hmmm. This is sounds vaguely familiar. Well, I’m not even going to check to see if I’ve already done a blog on this. Just enjoy my thoughts … and find the time to slow down. It will be worth your while. Believe me …

And, as I write this, I’m thinking ahead to the end of this month and into next month—life is going to get really busy, so I need to take my own advice and figure out how to keep chilled as I zip through my activities! WestEnd Celebration in Sand City CA 26-28 August (I’ve only committed to the 27th and will have my art and books there), then gear up for The trip to Memphis Tennessee for the Mid-South BookFest 9-11 September (I’ll be there with other authors from Inknbeans Press—it will be lovely to meet them all!), a women’s retreat (much needed personal time), Alzheimer’s Walk in Aptos CA on 24 September—something I try to do every year in memory of my dad … then October begins super craziness. Won’t even go into that. Yes. I need to make sure I slow down and smell the roses along the way through the remainder of August and all of September!

May your weekend and the upcoming week find you taking time to enjoy life, finding serendipity in your life. Peace to all of you.