Books, Fairs and A Bit More …

OH, MY. A BUSY AND INTERESTING week with a new venue for Joyce Oroz and I. The Cesar Chavez Library’s Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smith's tableFirst Salinas Book Fair was a hit with the locals—mostly Hispanic, with the two of us sticking out like sore thumbs. All announcements were made bilingually; most of the authors spoke Spanish, and many of their books were written in Spanish. It took us very little time to realise it wasn’t exactly the best fit for us, but we made sure we had dj jameson smith at the First Salinas Book Fairfun and each of us did make a few sales. It was fun meeting many of the authors—and quite a few of them, including yours truly and Joyce, had to read from their books. Aaack! I’ve only done that once before—in front of a bunch of teens (tough audience). Well, I did okay … and Joyce did too. Reading a selected bit from the book gave the audience (aka: readers or parents of readers) a chance to hear what many of the books were like, then come to the booths and get more information … or better yet, make a purchase.

Now, Joyce and I have a bit of a respite from our books—well, at least I do. I’ll be taking some “personalOne Big Pile of Weeds To Go Please ... time” for the next two weekends. On the week days, I’m trying to fulfill CalFire’s requirements to make my property fire safe. I’m making progress … slowly. Weeds, dead trees and branches … ugh. I’m looking forward to my weekends—I’ve decided to pop over to Carmel Valley to check out (and probably purchase) a few glass pumpkins. I’ve found myself collecting them (insert eye-roll)—just what I need! They are so gorgeous—I want to buy, buy, buy—but they are also a little on the pricey side.

Anyway, not only am I doing that stroll amongst pumpkins, Tiger Lily and Peter Pan from Forest Theatre, Carmelbut I’m also going to see the play, Peter Pan, at the Forest Theatre—an outdoor theatre (a very cool theatre)—in Carmel with a friend and her kids. I know I’ll have fun—no matter what the weather (I always come prepared)!

The following weekend will be another double-header for me. On the calendar for ages is the Alzheimer’s Walk—the only one I’ll be able to attend will be held in Aptos at the Walk to End Alzheimerslovely Seascape Resort. Depending on how I feel, I’ll either walk the full 2-3 mile walk—which includes a bit of a walk on sand with Taiko drumerss at the turn-around point (love, love, love Taiko drums!!) or I might do the short circuit if I’m not feeling up to par. Either way I am going to have a wonderful time, walking for a cause that is near and dear to me. For those of you that don’t know, my dad had Alzheimer’s Disease. To find out more about this devastating disease, go to my personal page or to the Alzheimers.org page.

I did say it was a double-header, didn’t I? Well, after the walk, I’ll be jumping in my car and traveling up to Los Gatos for their annual Magical Glass Pumpkin Patch event (yes, My Glass Pumpkins Are Lonesome ...more glass pumpkins!). I’ve never been, but one of my friends brings home a number of exquisite pumpkins for me to choose from. I decided this year, I’d go there in person. I just hope the drive up will be enough to re-coup my energy, because I believe there will be plenty of walking involved!

Next week, I believe I’ll be giving you a sneak peek—snippets from two stories in my series: Book Four, Mischiefmaker and Book Five, Catalyst (working title). I’m all excited about these two books. It’s hard to edit my first book, knowing I’ve got the edit for book four waiting (I have been working on it, but bouncing back and forth between two edits makes my head spin) and book five wanting completion.

With that said, I do believe it’s time to say Belladonna Lily (Naked Lady)good-bye for the week … I’ll leave you with one last photo. A beautiful pink flower (Belladonna Lily—aka: Naked Lady). I wish you all a wonderful and blessed Friday and weekend. Enjoy!

 

Moving Along

WOW … THE MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND dust has finally settled and I’ve had an opportunity to have a little chat with my neurosurgeon (post-op visit). Everything is looking good on the health-front … progressing nicely, albeit way too slow for me—but the doc is happy and that makes me happy and he doesn’t want to see me for a whole month. That’s a good thing … right? (insert Cheshire grin)

So, now I can get back to business … well sorta. I am healing slowly but surely and am trying to not rush back into “business as usual” since that usually means I’ve done too much. So, bit by bit. Slowly. I’m revamping my schedule to accommodate. Usually I use my Tuesdays and Thursdays to work on all things writing—instead of saving those days for art. I am, after all spending time at Open Ground Studios on those days for a reason. And, I’ve been looking at cover art from other authors’ books and an idea struck me. I’ve been tinkering with the idea of doing my own, but had absolutely no clue where to begin or what the subject would be—other than I’d most likely use photography and then attempt to stitch together a cover image. Ha! Not likely with my Photoshop skills (can we say Total Beginner …?)

I’ll not give it away yet, but know that I will be keeping an artsy aspect to my cover. I just hope I’ll be able to achieve what’s in my mind’s eye …

What I will do is to give you a snippet from my upcoming book four in the Secrets Beyond Scymaria series: Mischiefmakers—if I do things right, it will be ready by Fall, 2016 (depends on my healing process). So, this too will be a longer post than usual—sorry. Please remember, I’m still in edit mode, so this little tidbit is not what you’ll see in final print … but fairly close. Also remember that this is my intellectual property. Please do not copy in any form without my permission:

Secrets Beyond Scymaria: Mischiefmaker … somewhere into chapter two.
Grabbing her backpack, she tippy-toed into her mom’s room to find it empty. Shrugging her shoulders, she spun on her heels and flew down the stairs into the kitchen—her mom’s sanctuary. There she was, back to her, busily preparing breakfast.

“Mom,” Amy protested, “it’s only half past! What on earth are you doing up so early?” She slid up behind her mom before she had a chance to turn around and she gave her a hug.

“Oh, I’ve got my reasons,” returning her hug, her mom avoiding answering the question directly. Amy smiled, wondering if she knew something.

“Um, wouldn’t by chance have anything to do with a request from, um…the Guardian, would it?” She knew all of the adults that were aware of their friend preferred referring to Rocky as the Guardian. She had a hard time remembering to use this “formal” name.

“Well, just maybe. With that backpack, I think you might be in for a busy day, so a hearty breakfast would be perfect, don’t you think?” She slid a plate of bacon, eggs and toast onto the table as Amy slipped into her seat. “Oh—and what about a picnic lunch for you to tuck into your backpack?”

Laughing at the thought of carting an entire picnic lunch in her backpack, she teased. “Mom, I won’t have time—or room for that, I’m sure. Not the way you put together a picnic!” Remembering the feasts they’d found in the past in picnic baskets in her “resting place” on the other side, she added, “Besides. Rocky seems to think of that every time we visit, remember?” She giggled quietly at the thought. “But … maybe a few PBnJs and a couple apples would be good. That’d tide us over till we get back, in case he doesn’t. Rocky has asked us to meet him at the portal. I’m assuming he’s got another little lesson for us. That’s okay, isn’t it?” As an afterthought, she added, “You don’t need me for anything today, do you?”

“No, sweetie, I’ll be fine. I’ve got plans of my own for the day.”

Amy could have sworn she saw a twinkle in her eye as she said that before turning back to gather ingredient for her snack. It’s good to see her so genuinely cheerful. Dad’s death hit both of us hard, but mom seems to be hardest hit. “Want any help putting that together?”

“No, you eat your breakfast. I’ll have it done before you know it.” Already busy working on the lunch, back still turned, Amy’s curiosity was peaked. There was something about how she said it that had her wondering.

“Anything I’d be interested in?” She shoveled in a few bites of egg and bacon, savoring the flavors, waiting for a response.

“Hmm? Oh. No, dear. Grace and I are just going to go into town to do a little shopping, that’s all.” She continued to work at the counter, back to Amy.

Ty! What’s your mother doing today? Is she going with my mom into town? I’m getting a little bit suspicious. She chuckled to herself as she threw her question out to Ty. She’s obviously hiding something—why keep her back to me?

Hmm! Ya know, you’re right. It just dawned on me that something might be going on—just a sec …

The next thing she heard was a gale of laughter in her mind. Her fork clattered onto the floor, along with her next bite of egg. What was that for? “Oops. Sorry Mom. I’ll clean it up.” She quickly grabbed a napkin, cleaning up her mess, wiped off the fork and finished her meal, listening to Ty’s explanation.

I just caught my mother packing a lunch for me. She even pulled out my old backpack. Did your mom pack one too? She’s skirting my questions. So transparent, it’s not even funny. So, what’s going on?

Yeah, she’s making it now, while I finish up breakfast—which was all ready for me when I came downstairs. She let a laugh slip, which caught her mom’s attention.

“Honey, what’s so funny?”

“Mom, it’s okay. I know you’re hiding something. Obviously Rock—I mean the Guardian has talked to you about our little trip. Looks like you know more than we do at this point. Wanna share?” Picking up her plate and fork, she brought them over to the sink and did a quick rinse before slipping both into the dishwasher, then gave her mom a lingering hug.

As her mom slipped the sandwiches and apples into her backpack, she replied, “Dear, I really don’t know much. ‘Make a lunch, they’ll be gone for a while’—really, that’s all he told me. And Grace and I are going into town to shop.”

As she passed the information on to Ty, she nodded in agreement with her mom. That’s too easy…too convenient, but oh, well. It’s not that important. We’ll find out when we get there, right? As she grabbed her backpack, she concluded her conversation with her mom, “Okay, mom. I believe you. Have fun with Mrs. Graeagle. We’ll be back later.”

She called out to her mom as she opened the front door, “G’bye, Mom. Love you!” She could hear a faint “Love you, too!” in reply as she shut the door behind her.

Ty saw her come out the door, calling out her usual “good-bye, love you” to her mom as the door closed. I like how she does that, every time—ever since her dad died. He jumped off the porch swing, leaving it to its cockeyed swinging and sauntered down the stairs two steps at a time, waving to Amy as she looked over, smiling. Cheerful. Good. Well, hopefully she slept better than she’s been sleeping lately. She hasn’t said anything about it yet. She looks like she might have had a good night.

Hey, Amy. How’d you sleep last night?

He could hear her groan in his mind. Don’t ask. Talk about anything else, okay?

Ty scuffed at the ground as he met her out on the sidewalk. “Okay. Whatcha got in yer backpack? Looks awful heavy.” Leaning over her, he started to unzipped the pack to take a peek. She swatted at him.

“Keep out, nosey! That’s a surprise. Mom was gonna put the kitchen sink in there if I hadn’t stopped her. C’mon!” Laughing, she dashed off, with her backpack thumping along in beat to the rhythm of her jog as she headed for the park. He could hear a chinking and sloshing sound as she moved away from her, peaking his curiosity.

“Are you sure she didn’t sneak it in? What’s that noise?” When she didn’t respond, continuing to move away from him, he called out, “Fine!” He let her get a bit more distance between them before slinging his backpack into place, and jogged after her, easily overtaking her with his long stride before she reached the park entrance. He grabbed at her backpack to stop her, then playfully yanked one of her pigtails. She twirled around glaring at him. He could see she was ready to rip into him. He smiled and gave her a wink, pointing forward.

You are not taking any precautions anymore, are you? Keep walking, but not into the park, okay? Let’s go to the Main Street Park for now. I’ll explain later.

So, my friends, that’s it for now. My meds are kicking in, so I know better than to attempt any more writing. Hope you enjoy the tidbit. It’s not—by any means—the nail-biter that I am presently working on. Perhaps I’ll reveal part of that the next time I give you a peek into book four.

Until next week, have a wonderful Friday … and a blessed weekend!

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!

 

The Tax Man Cometh …

OH … GROAN. THIS IS THE TIME of the year I dread. Every. Single. Year. I’m not exactly aces where numbers are concerned … and the older I get—on top of the math inadequacies—the less organized I seem to become. I promise myself I’ll do better. Every. Single. Year.

Yup.

At least, this year, I’m getting things together sooner—I should have it all gathered together and “handled” before the end of the month—I’m hoping, at least … or at the latest, by mid-March. Haven’t managed that in quite a few years. Matter of fact, I’ve had to do extensions the last two years due to serious cases of procrastination.

Baaad girl!

I need this done so I can get back to working on my book(s) … so Mischiefmaker can be neatly tied in a bow and out of my hands before I step onto the plane to visit the UK (including Scotland and Wales). Plus I must focus on the artwork for the book … and continue my work on book five. (There’s some serious stuff building up in my story, ready to happen—hopefully you will think it’s as amazing as I do—and I really need to carve out some large chunks of time to get it right …) That’s pretty good incentive, don’t you think? I know my trip abroad will really help my imagination gel ideas for book five (no official title as yet, but—hmm … I think Redemption sounds about right). I am getting excited … and I have no clue what’s about to happen (oh … if you didn’t already know, I do not outline my stories—it’s a seat-of-the-pants experience, all the way—insert maniacal grin here)!

I must confess: the release of my book has been pushed back till this fall, but I’m okay with that. I want to make it the very best—no throwing things together for my readers. Never! Need to keep it cohesive … and on the right path. I still don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as a finish-line for the series. My characters are keeping mum about that. I’m okay with that too. It will happen when it’s “right” … right?

In the meantime, I have to get my mind completely wrapped around numbers and organization of receipts … I’ve already found myself avoiding the pile by doing other things—including this blog. These are all things that “need doing” but, really. The priority is (shudder) tax prep. I’ll attempt to make this short and … well, maybe not so sweet a blog (ooh—I could digress to something else by the end of the week because it is only Saturday … insert huge grin here …). Um … I’ll just have to play this one by ear.

Ooh, gotta laugh, because almost as soon as I wrote the above, my allergies decided to kick in. Not too bad at first, but by Monday … ugh. A full-blown sinus infection was on it’s way to rear it’s ugly head. I did manage to make it into Open Ground Studios for a bit, but … have not laid one finger—or eye—on my pile of receipts … except to add to it. Found two more piles: stuff from the early part of 2015 and some 1099s, which Kaeli (my sweet ol’ dog) proceeded to nibble on. Heart failure, for sure! Thankfully, the important bits are still intact.

It’s now Thursday and I’m finally feeling a little better, so I’ll be upstairs finishing up the sorting, then start (maybe) the number crunching. Yes, this is the part (well, one of them) that I hate. I have to add stuff with a calculator (with tape) two or three times and hope the results are the same. This is where dyslexia is not my friend (transposing numbers from what I see to what I enter … groan). Yup. Real fun.

Whilst I was wallowing in pity over feeling so lousy, I managed to cheer myself up by starting to peruse the possibilities of when and where I will visit once across The Pond. My head was too fuzzy to work on numbers, but not to surf the web for things to do (checking prices) and locations to stay. That cheered me up immediately. Now I’m chomping at the bit to finalize my itinerary … but, that’s another blog, entirely!

So … yeah. Short and (hmmm) sweet? It’s my life and I’ve gotta live it—I’ll take the bad with the good.

…So onward.

May your day … and the week ahead be blessed with sweet circumstances.