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.

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.


 

Progress Notes


AAH. PITY-PARTIES JUST aren’t as fun as they’re made out to be. As I said a couple of weeks ago—oh … wow. Sorry. It’s more like a month, now—when I was feeling all funky and out of sorts due to a “death anniversary”, I needed to find a better way. I had little pity parties here and there until my “Aha-moment”. I’ve been scratching my head, trying to figure out a way to overcome the doldrums than invade my heart, soul and mind during that time. I ran across something I’d stashed away long ago, set aside for “another time”–I’ve got lots of these little gems, just waiting for the right moment to be pulled out–and this seems to be as good a time as any for this one.

“Divine Dissatisfaction”. Sounds kinda heavy, doesn’t it?  Well, it’s from a quote made by Martha Graham, a dancer and choreographer: “… There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” Though she is referring to dancers and the art that surrounds it, this can be lifted from that context and put into any area in ones life. Hmm. That unrest, caused by things gone wrong, things (life) disturbed … uprooted … out of balance. It can be managed and manipulated, but the dissatisfaction remains.

Divine? Dunno. Does this “dissatisfaction”—sadness that overpowers me without warning—have a “good” (divine) side to it? I’m still not sure, but it does make me far more aware of my surroundings during the “funk”—but even more so when it has lifted. My “highs” seem higher, taking-in and reveling in life … to its fullest. I’m more contemplative … and my writing (and other artistic endeavors) seem to be richer for those low points in my life. Maybe there is something to what Martha Graham said.

My solution for now? I’ll be doing lots of exploring, reaping the benefits of my lows in the form of increased inspiration, productivity and more energy now that I’ve returned to “normal”. Perhaps next year won’t be as bad.

As I work on finalizing my artistic endeavors for several events … and gear up for a number of book signings over the next few weekends, I realize that Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner (well, maybe a few corners … <giggle> ). My Painterly hat has taken the front seat. I have yet to put a dent into my NaNoWriMo project (managed 500+ words on Thursday) and since family will be away, I have zero plans for Thanksgiving Day (planned on spending it writing … and being thankful for all that I have, including a head full of words—insert huge smiley face). Now that this blog is pretty much done, I need to see if I can pull a few more words out of my brain in the next few hours for my NaNo project … before I head off to read in front of people (not my strong suit)—aaack! Tuesday and Thursday need to be my writing days again … soon I hope!

Oh! My friends, just in case I forget to mention it in the next few very busy weeks, I want to wish you a fruitful life, filled with a cornucopia of things to be thankful for: family, friends, a roof over your head, food in your belly … Happy (early) Thanksgiving Day to you all.

 

November 1-30 24/7 (starts and ends at midnight)
National Novel Writing Month
Write with abandon all month, aim for 50,000 words by midnight on the 30th
Sign-up online: NaNoWriMo.org

November 14 Saturday 9am-1pm
Craft Show w/Book Signing
dj jameson smith w/fellow author (mysteries), Joyce Oroz
735 Ramona Avenue, Monterey CA

November 21-22 Saturday/Sunday 9am-4pm
Aromas Hills Artisans Holiday Art (and craft) Fair w/Book Signing
dj jameson smith w/fellow author (mysteries), Joyce Oroz
Aromas Grange, Aromas CA

December 4 Friday 5:30-8:30pm
Co-Op Members Art Exhibition Opening and Christmas Party
Open Ground Studios, 1230 Fremont Blvd., Seaside CA

Competition

WELL, I DON’T THINK I HAVE A COMPETITIVE bone in my body. I don’t compete (I tried as a kid—on the high school track team … and that was more than enough). It’s never been high on my list of priorities, but the poor “loves” of my life definitely vie—they compete for my attention, my time … and my energy.

My painterly and writerly sides are in competition at the moment. Each vying for all my time, attention and energy. Both are racing to meet deadlines. I’m not sure who will win, but I’m hoping both meet their deadlines—though, the current Painterly deadline is far more important at the moment. (Teehee … re-reading this, I’m talking about “myselves” in third person—and it doesn’t seem odd … not at all. Should that bother me?)

I am scrambling—which is thankfully keeping my mind off the “travel dilemma” ahead—to get the required information and artwork (two pieces to hang … and any pieces that go into the art bin) completed before the November 1st deadline. It’s kinda hard to turn in information on art that doesn’t exist yet … oopsie—I’m workin’ on it! I’ve been working on a couple things, but have not liked the results. So this week and next will be spent sorting out what I want to do, creating/printing some art, then documenting it (photographing and writing up a description) for Open Ground Studios. The Exhibition for us co-op members will not be hung till the middle of November … and the Opening-slash-Christmas Party isn’t until December 4th (please mark your calendar if you’re local), but all information must be in by November 1st. All new work. So, I’m busy—beyond busy, trying to push myself to be creative … which isn’t that hard in the wonderful setting that makes OGS the creative place it is.

(Giggle …) Um … so, why am I working on this blog and not my art? Because I’ve made a commitment to being faithful to a weekly post. I’ve only missed it a couple of times and want to keep it that way. It’s only Tuesday (well, now Thursday as I re-read and fine tune) … and I’m hoping to get it done today (hope, hope … aah, well … so that didn’t happen, did it) so that I can focus on art for the remainder of the week. Today is more of a Writerly day, anyway. Tonight, I will be reading a small bit of my first book in front of an audience—which has me very, very nervous. A room full of writers, listening to me read from my flawed first book . Even I see flaws (little things like punctuation, ways I stated thing) in what I wrote—should I be saying this? … and errors not caught by my vanity-press publisher’s editors. My readers love the story … even if I do see all the errors. Are they simply looking beyond the errors or am I just hyper-critical of my writing? Ooh … that nasty feeling of doubt is rearing it’s ugly head. A writer’s nemesis …

Breath … deeply—and press on. And know that I’ve improved with each book I’ve written. And will continue to improve!

… And, as it’s now Thursday, I can tell you I did fine—even if I was a wee bit nervous. Nervous enough to forget to mention the book title in my introduction <giggle> but was able to use that nervousness to express the nervousness of one of my characters as I read. It was a good evening.

Oh! Did I mention that National Novel Writing Month is less than ten days away? Have I started preparing? Um … no. November 1st. Another deadline. These next few weeks are going to be crazy. But November will be equally as crazy—trying to keep my “routine as usual” on top of finding time to squeeze in an average of 1,667 words daily, writing with abandon. Fun. Honest … it is fun—and doable if I keep focused. Key word: focused (add winky face here as I’m sure I’ll have issues with that).

And, in the midst of that November chaos, there’s a book signing or two. I don’t think I know the meaning of moderate in my lifestyle. Sniggle. But, that’s part of who I am. Crazy, living life to its fullest … then crashing for a wee bit to recover, only to do it again. Yup.

Next week I’ll hopefully get back into my “usual” routine and post part two of my travel dilemma saga. Until then, I’ve listed a few of the things going on in my Painterly and Writerly life below—you might want to mark your calendar for a few of them:

November 1-30 24/7 (starts and ends at midnight)
National Novel Writing Month
Write with abandon all month, aim for 50,000 words by midnight on the 30th
Sign-up online: NaNoWriMo.org

November 14   Saturday  9am-1pm
Craft Show w/Book Signing
dj jameson smith w/fellow author (mysteries), Joyce Oroz
735 Ramona Avenue, Monterey CA

November 21-22   Saturday/Sunday 9am-4pm
Aromas Hills Artisans Holiday Art (and craft) Fair w/Book Signing
dj jameson smith w/fellow author (mysteries), Joyce Oroz
Aromas Grange, Aromas CA

December 4   Friday 5:30-8:30pm
Co-Op Members Art Exhibition Opening and Christmas Party
Open Ground Studios, 1230 Fremont Blvd., Seaside CA

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

AAAH. IT IS NEARING THAT TIME, once again. Only a little over a month. November 1-30 is a time of Writers Abandon. Trying to cram 50,000 written words into thirty days. Sounds impossible, but really, that means writing an average of 1,600 words per day for thirty days. It’s really not that hard to achieve. And can be a wonderful time, if you allow yourself to simply write, with abandon. Yes, we all have commitments that keep us from fully engaging, but if you allow yourself at least an hour a day, you’d be surprised at what you are able to accomplish. Figure out a schedule you are able to keep, then stick to it. You are allowed to plan ahead, creating an outline to help you through the process before that auspicious day of Nov 1st. They are even allowing works in progress (WIP) to be included—you just can’t count the words you’ve already written prior to that Nov 1st date.

So, come on folks. Adults, teens, middle schoolers and even younger. Grab pen and paper—on your compute—and be ready for that day to roll around. Get a group of writerly friends together … or hunker down in a corner by yourself. Whatever works. Meet weekly … or daily … or whatever schedule you can work out and take the challenge. Turn off your internal editor (YES! It’s all about how many words you can write … not about the correctness) and write. Do a series of Word Wars (15-30 minutes of timed writing)—you’ll be amazed how much you can get written by doing that. Personally, I prefer the 15-minute Word Wars. The longer time allows my mind to wander too much … but try them both and see what works best for you.

If you don’t make it to the 50,000 words, it’s not the end of the world. Honest. It may be hard for those of you that are “win” oriented … but really, even if you aren’t an official winner, it’s still a win-win situation. You will have managed to put quite a few words on paper. Something you might talked about doing, but never managed to “find time” for … so, it’s a beginning. A beginning that you will hopefully add a middle and end to at some point.

If you do manage to get 50,000 or more words, you’re an official winner and NaNoWriMo has gifts for you! Some of them are pretty nice, too. Check it out at NaNoWriMo.org

So, folks … mark your calendars and start gearing up. It’ll be fun! Let me know if you’re planning on doing it—my NaNoWriMo name is djamesonsmith. Come by and say hi!

Oh … speaking of writing, I can’t leave this blog without mentioning that my newest book in the Secrets Beyond Scymaria series, The Scymarian is * L I V E * and available for purchase as of today. To quote Inknbeans Press in their promo, “Welcome to Scymaria. The secrets held within are vital to the planet, but not everyone can enter, and no one returns unchanged.”

I’m doing a happy dance … and you will find it at all the links below:

Inknbeans Press, Publisher
My Square Market (autographed books)
Amazon
Barnes and Nobles link for The Scymarian is unavailable at this time. They do have the previous two, so I will make sure they get the third one also.

I’ve Been Thinking …

UH OH … THIS COULD BE DANGEROUS. I always come up with some very profound thoughts and fantastic ideas when I’m in the shower—awesome thoughts I’d love to share. And ideas for the garden or yard … or a storyline for my book—or even some places to go take photos. But it never fails—the moment I have pen and paper handy—able to get those thoughts down so I won’t forget, the thoughts evaporate from my mind. Same thing when I’m driving down the road, enjoying the scenery as I barrel towards my next destination. I’m never prepared for these moments of spontaneous thought. And it is frustrating.

Sometimes, I can compose an entire blog in my mind that is so perfect. So very perfect. Or the perfect scene for my story—but apparently not memorable enough for me to get it into written form. Artistic ideas that would be stunning once implemented into my yard or crafted on paper and framed … yet they are lost forever (well, perhaps not forever). It’s so blasted frustrating.

My head is always teaming with ideas that are begging to explode into life when I least expect it, so why is it, since this happens so frequently, that I don’t expect it? (I feel a headache coming on … giggle.) I should be prepared, right?

This is a weird month to be working on writing of any sort, anyway. With all these ideas floating around, one would think it would be ideal … but I look around my yard and house in its woefully

Back Yard View

I’d certainly like a better view as I sip on tea or nom on food …

neglected state and am drawn to work outside—away from the computer and/or pen and paper. The computer nags at me to work on my blog, the galleys for The Scymarian — and my WIP, Mischiefmaker—but the gorgeous weather pulls me the other direction.

Yard View Improved

It’s a slow process … but it is improving. It’s a pity, with this drought, that I can’t plant anything.

Away from all electronic devices.

I hate it when I’m of a divided mind. I’m not the most logical person in the world. I’ve always been a seat-of-the-pants kinda person, no matter what I’m doing. Common sense is my go-to tool, but I’ve also got this gut-level thing going, too—especially where outdoor activities are involved. Either I’m all in … or not (insert grin). Whether it’s walking, gardening, yard work, tromping through nature taking photos … yup—all in or not.

Speaking of all in or not … this is the NaNoWriMo’s July Summer Camp, which I foolishly signed up for—and am now kicking myself, for thinking I could manage to “finish” successfully. The idea behind

Tea in Pacific Grove

A very creative friend and I at Bookworks in Pacific Grove—she with her knitting and jewelry for sale, me with my books and some tea.

signing up was to give me the impetus to keep working towards an end on my WIP. The rules for the Summer Camp are (thankfully) much more laid back than in November. November requires 50,000 words minimum for the 30 days of writing. NaNo’s summer camp allow you to choose your goal, no matter how small or grand it may be. Even with that, I’ve tried it in the past and should know better that just signing up for it does not work with me. Well, at least it hasn’t in the past. I guess time will tell.

My galleys should be taking precedence over every other writing—and it’s really a non-writing task—except that I am finding many, many formatting errors and it’s keeping me from even wanting to work on it.

Petunia Up Close

The deer haven’t nommed on my flowers yet—knock on wood

I’d rather be outside, slaving in the hot sun than working on the galleys. Or wandering around the yard taking photos. Sad state of affairs, isn’t it?

It’s probably because I am one that enjoys the gratification of seeing what has been accomplished.

Yard Work in Progress

Improving my view is hard work … but I’m getting there. And it’s a lot more fun that working on the galleys …

These galleys do not afford that luxury at this point. But what I’ve been doing outside certainly has! And watching the progress of my plants is even more fun than working on the galleys. Sigh.

Succulent Up Close

Hmm. Didn’t know this variegated plant was a succulent.

Tresspasser

A young doe is sneaking around in my yard, looking for things to nom on.

And when I see a deer wander in the yard, I get excited and thrilled!

When I work on the galleys (or my WIP) at Open Ground Studios, I take a few minutes out to wander around, stretch my legs and take photos of things happening in the studio.

Playing On-Site Photographer

I try to catch our DOG (Director of Open Ground) and others as they play and work at the studio

Workshops, classes … there’s always something going on. There are so many different things to keep my mind stirred up and rarin’ to go on to the next project. Some could (and do) call that a bit like an attention deficit problem. I’d prefer to call it keeping things fresh. I certainly don’t get bored.

So … now that I’ve procrastinated whilst writing this blog, done a bit of reminiscing of what I enjoy—and shared a few photos (insert smile) … it’s now time to get back to the task at hand. Writing. Wait. Isn’t that what I’ve been doing? Yes, but it doesn’t count against the NaNo word count, nor does it help with the galleys…

Did I mention I am really good at procrastinating? Yup.

I hope your Fourth of July weekend is blessed with many wonderful memories. I’ll be walking in a parade with other writers (part of the Central Coast Writers group) on Saturday in Monterey. Maybe you’ll be there. Maybe not. Have fun in either case!

Enjoy your weekend.

Gratitudes and Attitudes

AN AUTHOR FRIEND OF MINE, Leland Dirks (an amazing author), has put together a wonderful book entitled 100 Days of Gratitude. The seed for his project began with his Facebook friends nudging him to join in on the ‘Thankful’ thing that’s been floating around for a bit: list three things you are thankful or grateful for—or blessed by, do it for seven days, and tag x-number of people to join in.

So, he did. And because he enjoyed it so much, he is still doing it (and I love seeing both his prose and photography posts)—as are many of my friends. It is, for a lack of a better word, addictive. Leland has taken his love of photography and paired it with his thankful thoughts to create this awesome book, blessing his readers with a work of art!

At first, I resisted jumping on the bandwagon because I give voice to my blessings daily to God, so I felt it would make my them less valuable by announcing them on Facebook. I kept getting a nagging feeling, like it was something I needed to do, even though nobody had specifically tagged me. I laughed when, on the day I finally decided to do it, I was officially tagged—by my daughter.

I started mine the day after she began hers and faithfully posted my gratitudes daily for seven days. It turned out to be very freeing, this public announcement of my blessings. And, like I said before, it is something that I want to continue, though not as frequently. Besides, who wants to hear from me every single day? I’ve cut back my postings on Facebook (sometimes it still seems like I’m on there more than I should be)—I get so little done when I try to keep track of everything on that social media site. That and my blogging once a week is probably all (probably more than) I should be doing (giggle—and I won’t mention all the other stuff that ends up getting put off because of it…)

Recently I attended a photo exhibition at Open Ground Studios (of course—wink), celebrating the sunrises from many locations over the course of a week from January, 2014. Many of the pictures were stunning. All captured a moment in time as the new day dawned. I liked the concept. Short time period, making it more doable than the 365-day challenge—which I failed at miserably after about two weeks: take a picture (any picture) daily and post it at a specific web address—I decided to post on my own photo website. Like I said. I failed. So, this sounded much better.

The new sunrise challenge began on 6 October and ran through 11 October. I managed to be up for the first sunrise, failed the second day, but was determined to make it for the remainder—made it, but the sunrises were somewhat boring (ordinary)…apparently I needed to be up almost an hour before sunrise to catch anything memorable. I just couldn’t manage—lazy me!

Then, I had a idea: combine two things I love. My photography and my blessings. I figured I would combine my sunrise photography with my gratitudes (blessings). I don’t mean to step on Leland’s toes…he did originate the idea using the views from around his home and the mountains at all times of the day, but I’m putting my own personal twist on it. I decided to expand the Sunrise Challenge idea a wee bit to include sunsets—and wait till I had some awesome sunrises and sunsets. I’ll be accumulating them and posting here and on my Flickr page sometime in the near future. No book for me—that’s Leland’s arena…just the photos and blessings.

But for now, I’m focusing on my two books…the one I’m supposed to be editing in preparation for a December release (may have to push that to January, 2015) and book four. It is now November and I’m up to my eyeballs in NaNoWriMo fun: 30 days of writers’ abandon…trying to accumulate 50,000 words to create a novel…

This year, they are allowing writers to participate with works in progress (WIP). I am 20,000 words into it. Officially, I only need 30,000 more words but would like to add 50,000 more. Hmm..we’ll see if I managed it—on December 1st.

Until next week (hopefully on schedule this time!), check out the links and have a blessed week.

I’m Struggling Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

A Cause, A Purpose and A Piece of My Life

NEARLY EVERY MORNING, AS I GET dressed, I put three silicone bracelets onto my wrist for all the world to see. They are not color co-ordinated with my clothes: one is yellow, another is purple and the third is teal and white swirls. Nope. Definitely not. I’ve collected them over time and I really don’t care because they are part of who I am. If anyone asks about them, I say they are all about a cause, a purpose and a piece of my life.

If that piques their interest and they ask more, I explain:

The purple band is a reminder of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Memory Walk. Well, they don’t call it that any more, but that’s what it is. I’ve had this band for well over ten years. The walk is to bring awareness to a disease that is effecting more and more people–not only the individual with the disease, but those closest to them–as time goes by.

My dad had Alzheimer’s Disease, as did one of my husband’s aunts. I watched my dad lose touch; slowly he had more and more difficulties with simple daily tasks; his most recent memories disappeared, then more and more to the point he only recognized me some of the time–and only as someone he knew was ‘special’ or ‘important’ (his words) to him.  I was in his life most days, and I thank God for that. My brothers all reside a long way off and their lives were like any other persons–busy. They would visit as often as possible, but there was too much time away for my dad to remember them. They were strangers to him. I felt sorry that they were not able to see the delightful things, the childlike things he did. I have some wonderful memories from before he passed away.

So, this purple band is personal. Very personal. Most years, I walk in the Santa Cruz and/or Monterey “Walk to End Alzheimers”, held annually in September for Santa Cruz and October for Monterey. I’ll be doing both again this year. I’ll tell you more about it in another blog later this year.

The yellow band is a reminder of what I must do: write. It is for National Novel Writers Month (NaNoWriMo). I’ve had it for about four years. I do support them annually also, in addition to participating in their Novemeber novel writing frenzy. It forces me to put thoughts to paper daily–well, almost daily–for a solid month. It has been useful to help me create some good stories.

That brings me to the third band. My teal and white swirled band. It’s pretty new–less than a year old, but a lovely reminder of who I have been for quite some time: a writer, a blogger–and now, a published author. Secrets Beyond Scymaria is the on-going sci-fi series, rolling around in my head and I am constantly working to put it into words on paper. Book one is in print, book two just came back from the editor after a second round of editing (I need to polish a few points here and there…then it’s ready for the publisher), and I have book three to get ready for the editor and…well, you’ve heard this all before and it must be getting repetitious. Sorry.

So, my writing is part of my life, as is my art and photography–but I don’t have a band for that (hmm…maybe I should), so I like to think the artistic choice of colors and swirl of the three bands represents that.

There is one other very important part of my life that is not represented on my wrist “for the world to see”. I don’t need to. It is deeply rooted, interweaving all four–and so many more (family, for example)–aspects of my life. It is my love for God. It’s not just a go-to-church-every-Sunday kind of relationship. He’s my gyroscope. My stability. My reference point helping me navigate this thing called Life. I try very hard to have Him at the center of my life; at the center of each activity I do as I wade through each and every day. I’m not perfect at it because I am human. There are days that my life gets busy or I get grumpy…or tired…and I forget, but always, the moment I realize it, I draw open the door and invite Him back in to take center stage. Things always get better when I do. It doesn’t mean everything is perfect with Him at center stage…but it sure helps move through Life with Him there, at my side, ready to comfort me, celebrate with me, listen to me…even guide me, when I take time to listen.

So, a cause, a purpose and many pieces of my life, interwoven together like the colorful ribbons on a May Pole with God acting as the strong, anchored central pole. As I negotiate life, He stabilizes me as I weave, bobbing in and out and through situations, struggles, and triumphs, creating a beautiful multicolored tapestry called my life.

Right now I’m still just a ‘work in progress’ with loose threads running everywhere; incomplete. But, I know the craftsmanship. And it’s creator. I know it will be a beautiful sight when it’s done.

 

I’m Back On Track…

FUNNY HOW TIME FLIES when you really aren’t wanting it to. I cannot believe it’s been so long since I last made a blog entry. I’ve tried. I’ve started a few that have languished and “died on the vine”, as it were.

Trying to get the book published has been all-consuming and once I signed off on that last bit, I thought I could sit back and plan the next phase…marketing. ‘Hiccups’ in the publishing road have kept me preoccupied. Pesky health issues have slowed me down. Even peskier problems with my blog have frustrated me when I’ve needed access. Travel (with no reliable internet) has delayed things and the next two books, waiting to be polished, languish–just like my NaNoWriMo project (book four). I’m already at day ten and only have 3,001 words written. That’s a mere 300 words per day. A pittance compared to what I should be writing (1,667/day).

The struggles and preoccupations of everything have keep the creative flow blocked.

So, here it is, 1:30 in the morning (well, it was probably closer to one I started) and I can’t sleep because–finally, random words and phrases are not just bouncing around but melding together and finding their way down the canyons of my mind to crystallize into written thoughts.

Am I frustrated at the hour they chose to form? Well, yes…and no. I could really use a few good nights sleep, but I’m awake, so–what the heck. I don’t have to get up and sit in front of the computer, thanks to today’s technology. I’m snug in bed, in the dark, with the only illumination being the screen of my iPhone, glaring back at me with my written words. The only sounds are intermittent heavy breathing and occasional snores from my four-legged babies, and the half-hour reminders from my antique clock on the mantle downstairs. It’s amazing how easy it is for me to put my thoughts onto this dinky device. Thank God!

So, until my eyes get tired, or thoughts stop flowing, I will write. Then I will sleep. Perhaps I’ll get a few good blogs begun during these wee hours.

Who knows.

One thing I do know–it is a very nice feeling to have the creativity flowing once again.

Even if it is two in the morning.

Getting My Ducks In A Row…

I’VE BEEN MIA FOR A BIT NOW, what with frantically trying to get all my ‘ducks in a row’ with my book, getting another art exhibition ready, traveling to visit friends…and now a lovely sinus infection.

It’s finally quieting down, though there are still loose ends everywhere.  Still things to be signed, Book Art classes to attend (I’ve missed three with my travel, which makes me very sad), a little more traveling and some digging into my photo archives for a potential sale or two.

With my train travel, I have actually had time to sit back and doodle with paper and water color–and completely read two books (and start a third)!  I haven’t been able to do that for some time now.  Thank God for the Kindle, which allows you to ‘cart around’ a stack of books without the burden of bulk.  Such a delightful feeling to finally get into other writers fantasy worlds, and I am craving more. I’ll be downloading more books very soon!  The books I read: Grimsley Hollow: The Chosen One by Nickie Storey and The Last Timekeepers by Sharon Ledwith.  I do not believe in spoilers:  Both are fiction, well written, fast paced, fun stories geared for middle schooler and beyond.  There are characters you’ll love, cheer on and those you’ll loath.  I think I found myself tearing up in both at times.  Like I said…well written.

Speaking of train travel, now that I have done the Coach Car routine on two separate trips, I can honestly say it’s great for shorter trips, but ‘overnighters’ may require a sleeper in the future–if I can find one cheap enough. Two hours (maybe) of sleep on the floor of the observation deck leaves a lot to be desired…the coach seats, though spacious, do not recline far enough for my poor back.  The phenomenon of feeling like you’re still on the train…it is the most bizarre feeling…I’m not sure it is from my sinus infection (maybe an inner ear thing), or from the prolonged constant motion of the train, but I still feel (a day after the train ride) like I’m rocking or swaying, especially if I’m sitting.  A very strange feeling, indeed.  Not bad, just strange.

The loose ends for the first book in my series consist of giving the final okay (I’m still not satisfied with their explanation of why the print on the spine is so smooshed up, so they won’t get it till it’s either corrected or tell me it cannot be corrected–in which case, I will NOT be a happy camper and will remember that for the future book designs), filling out and signing marketing contracts and finally, setting up dates for my book signings and readings.  I am still excited about late next month, when I will have my stack of books in hand, sitting down to sign copies for readers.  I also just received my web address for my very own authors page at my publishers site, with all the information about the book, about the author (me) and Xlibris link to order the book: www.djjamesonsmith-author.com

On the painterly side, I am taking a book arts class, learning different ways to create books, large and small, which I will incorporate into the personalized storybook creations I make.  Open Ground Studios has created a “permanent” rotating artists’ work wall, which is super idea, and I have one piece included.  Now that things have quieted down a wee bit, I might actually have time to do some art there, also!

I plan on taking a trip down the coast in the near future to capture some images of our beautiful coastline and trees. They (mostly pine, redwood, with a few deciduous varieties) will be beautiful once the temperatures cool down and they start their brief color changes…the mix of colors will be striking — I hope I can capture it to my satisfaction!

Very soon — only a couple days more than a month, NaNoWriMo begins once again. I am excited! November 1-30: 30 days of ‘writers abandon’ attempting to create 50,000 words.  I already have plans for my fourth book floating around in my head.  I will use NaNo as my starting point for this book. Then of course, soon after, I will need to hunker down to begin tying up the loose ends for the next two books in the series so they will be ready for publishing early- and mid-year of 2014. Secrets Beyond Scymaria, book one, was the beginning, setting the stage.  These next two will be even more exciting than the first.  Book four is planned to come out just before the holidays, Fall of 2014, if all goes well.

Life continues to be exciting, challenging and full — both between the pages of books and for real…

May God bless your days ahead, filling them with health, wisdom and a wealth of experiences.

 

Squeeee — It’s Almost Ready…

Beta Readers copy, part one

Beta Readers copy, part one.

IT HAS BEEN A VERY, VERY LONG time in the making, but finally, I have (at least the first ‘half’) the manuscript ready for my four Beta Readers.  One Reader already has hers, the others will soon be distributed.

In the meantime, with tea at the ready, I continue to work on the remaining ‘half’ of the manuscript.  I want this to be a series and am hoping that I can manage to divide this into two reasonable stories.  (And create even more from there.) My Beta Readers will help me determine if this will be possible.

This is an exciting stage to be at — almost there, yet not quite.  I can feel the excitement welling and find myself spending more and more time (as much as I can tolerate) in front of the keyboard, transferring my written corrections to my electronic copy.  The entire manuscript is edited (on paper) for those pesky typos and grammar.  There were a few glaring continuity problems that I finally figured out how to resolve, thankfully.  As I continue making the changes to the electronic version, I will make those drastic changes to smooth out the continuity issues  (saving at the end of each page — am I paranoid?  YOU BET — and at the end of each day, it goes onto a memory stick!)

It’s interesting that the continuity problems are all in this second ‘half’ — well, it’s probably better to say it’s divided into one-third, two-thirds (over 60,000 words in total, the first ‘half’ is only a bit over 20,000…).  But, like I said, it’s all in the second half.  I know most of this portion was written using the pressure of NaNoWriMo’s “writing with abandon” — the goal being to get the elusive thoughts on paper.  It was an amazing adventure, but somehow (oh, I know how…), I ended up repeating myself a lot.  I still managed to greatly exceed the 50,000 word requirement by the end of the month, then finishing it in February of 2013, using the word war concept.  I’ve edited out a fair portion, gleaning the gems from the chaff to create the strong storyline that is my story.

It is my understanding that the publisher will accept anything over 10,000 as a book.  We’ll see what they say when I submit the first bit.  But, that’s a solid month (plus) away.  I eagerly await the return of each manuscript from my beta readers, to sift through, evaluate their comments and make corrections accordingly. Then, and only then, it will be sent on to my publisher.

Excited?  You betcha!  Anxious?  Of course.

Ready for it to happen?  Absolutely!

Sucked-In to Writing…

MY NANOWRIMO ML (municipal liaison) kept telling me (and everyone else) to kill a character.  For the past two years I’ve attended, this seemed to be his mantra.  Kill a character.  And he had a method: with a shovel.

Well, you don’t kill characters with shovels in a kid’s novel, right?  I had a number of people point to Harry Potter and a few other kids’ books for examples of multiple brutal killings.  Well, not in my novel, you don’t.  And that’s that.

Well, I found out last year that characters have a mind of their own.  They do not go where you planned for them to go.  They don’t “stay with the script” that you’ve planned out in your head.  They go, do, and say what they need to as a character.  And I am fine with that.  It has helped me grow as a writer.  It has helped my story line, and it has helped my characters.

But, I was frustrated with where they had taken the storyline.  I needed them to be back at home.  But, noooo.  They had to go traipsing off to their ‘Never Land’…I was driving down to the last Write-In, having already reached my 50,000 word goal–such a wonderful, euphoric feeling in itself–when it dawned on me how I could solve several problems at once…not only get them back to where they needed to be, but help one of the characters do a little bit of growing.

And then, I laughed.  I was going to kill a character?  You’ve got to be kidding!  No.  I could not possibly kill a character. I did much soul searching.  This started as a children’s book..that now reaches up to the middle school age group, not unlike the Harry Potter series.  I don’t want to be responsible for younger kids’ nightmares!  What to do…listen to the character or my alternate storyline…

Uh, oh…spoilers?  Well… I guess you’ll just have to wait till the book is published to find out, won’t you?

But, what I really wanted to talk about was how my characters have pulled me in.  I don’t know if all writers feel this way, but when I write, I feel my characters’ joy, their pain and frustrations.  I laugh at the things they do and occasionally find myself a bit sad.

It is a beautiful thing, to have such alive characters — at least in my head.  I know I have much “fleshing out” of each character to make them more believeable to everyone else.  It is only a first draft.  There will be more to come before I am comfortable in showing it to an agent (if I can find one) or someone that can help constructively to polish it into a final product that I might just self-publish.

I am thinking about them, day and night.  An obsession?  Who knows.  This is one obsession I don’t mind having.  I’ve been working on this for so long.  I started it just before my mother died and tried to write as I took care of my dad, but ended up shelving it for quite awhile.  I’d occasionally pull it out, trying to edit it, then do some writing, but couldn’t get motivated.  Or captivated by the story or the characters.

Finally, I’m captivated.  I believe I have invested my heart and soul in the characters in this story.  The last two years (and especially this last month), I think I’ve managed to dive in and create what may be the beginnings of a trilogy…or, at least I think so.   And my mind is not done with this story.  No, not by a long shot.  And that makes me happy–and frustrated, because I must find some sort of ending so I can say it is done.  Done, but left ‘open-ended’, so that I can easily continue it on. That way, I can stop what I’m beginning to call the ‘never-ending story’ and begin the process of editing my first draft.   I will keep making notes when thoughts arise for new material (that means continuously), but my focus must be on completing this one first.

I love my characters.  How can I not?  I’ve been told to focus on one, dump the other–I have two.  They are too engaging to get rid of one.  They work very well together.  I was told to write from the viewpoint of one.  I chose to write from multiple viewpoints…it was necessary.  If you ask me who my primary character is, I am not be able to tell you — at least not now.  Maybe after re-writes, I’ll know.

Like I said before, I think about them all the time.  How can I get them out of the trouble they always seem to get into?  What characteristics do each have?  How can I grow their characters as the story progresses?  All of this seems to float around in my brain all the time now — especially during and after NaNoWriMo.  I’m excited about this story, as I should be.  But…

Perhaps, I just might, sometime in the future…yes, I just might post some excerpts.

I will now let you get back to your normal lives — away from the rambling of this deranged woman.  Sorry to have kept you for so long.

Peace be with you as we get closer to the frenzy the World calls Christmas.  May you find quiet, and the real reason for the season.

 

The End Is Nigh

I AM ABSOLUTELY AMAZED at how smooth this month has gone.  Well, I mean to say, considering I’ve procrastinated like never before and there was a major holiday smack dab in the middle of it, I find that I am energized, full of ideas, have time to post quite a few blogs and still take the time to work on — and am almost at the completion point of, my National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) project.

That’s 50,000 words in 30 days…though I squandered nearly half of the month, writing a little here and there, blogging here and there, with life taking up the lion’s share of each day.  That is, until last week.  I have dishes stacked in the sink, laundry that needs to be done, my cat has to bat me about the face to get my attention and my dog simply sulks and the chickens just have no clue.

Oh, they all get fed, me included, but that’s about it.  I have occasionally changed the kitty litter — Sebastian has a rather unique way of reminding me.  When it “time”, I suddenly notice that there is so much litter on the floor surrounding the box, it makes me wonder if there is any left inside.  When I check, I realize I have, once again, been a bad kitty mom and do my duty…

My dishes are tilting rather precariously, so it is time, once again to don the gloves and scrub them up so I can return to using metal rather than plastic utensils.  The plates seem to be holding up well, but bowls are in short supply.  So, since I’m scrubbing, I’ll end up taking care of those too.  If there’s an earthquake before I get this job done, I won’t need to do dishes…they are all going to crash to the floor.  Then it’ll be broom-time.  Oh, dear.

Why am I telling you all of this?  Just so you know what it’s like when someone gets so focused on what they are doing that everything other than the focus item becomes inconsequential.  At least to a degree.

Do you have someone like that in your life?  Someone so focused, that you get left in the dust?

Thankfully, I was blessed with a fairly normal husband and daughter.  So was I…note the past tense.  I find I get much more focused on things nowadays.  But, then, it’s just me, so there’s nobody else in the house to complain.

I enjoy what I do so much, that I could spend hours upon hours working on a project, whether photography, printing artwork, or writing, and completely forget about eating, or taking medicine.  Thank God for the iPhone alarms…I have one set for doctor appointments and other important events in my life, for medication times — haven’t set one for meals, but that’s mostly because I take my medicines around meal times (makes it easier to remember).  But even with the alarms, if I’m in the middle of something, I either ignore the alarm (that’s 15 minutes of jangling in my ear) or get up, turn it off and go right back to whatever I was doing.  And forget about the alarm or what I was supposed to do when the alarm goes off.

So, I can see how someone can get completely consumed by something and forget things and people around them.  But, in my case, it’s not a big deal.  There is no family that I am ignoring.  Well, they are only animals, after all, right?  Even now, my NaNo project is calling to me.  It wants me to leave this ( “– just save it and come back to it,” it says) and return to the writing.

My “animals” are my family.  They need my attention, almost as much as my daughter did when she was a youngster.  Right now, they are getting the basics:  food, water, “good girl” or “good boy”, a few special treats and that’s it.  I know they should be getting more, but I also know that this ignoring them will be short lived, even if they don’t know it.  And, to keep the guilt away, I choose to dwell on that.

Well, I have a little over 4,000 words to write and a tad more than two days to meet the 50,000 word challenge that makes NaNoWriMo what it is, so my ramblings are done for now.

May you find that your focus is family and not things.   For family is where your heart should be.  Peace of the Season to all of you.

 

 

Photography VS Writing — and NaNoWriMo

HA!  TWO BLOGS IN ONE DAY!  That’s a first.  Can you tell I don’t want to do any house/yard chores?

My photography has taken a back seat to my writing.  And my writing has taken a back seat to simple, every-day living (aka: chores).  And I guess I should add that my chores have just taken a back seat, period.  At least, for today.

About the only thing I’ve done photographically speaking is to snap shots with my smart phone (nice in its tiny format, but forget about blowing it up to any size other than the original) and my point-n-shoot (much better, but the phone always seems more handy).  No serious, day-long trudges to the hills or shoreline to suck up some much needed out-door time and one-on-one with nature.  The 365 (as in, year-long!) photo journal on Flickr languishes…untouched since mid-June.   Even all of my other art projects are on the back burner.  Waiting for time, re-organizing, behind closed doors.

As for my writing, the most I’ve done is to tinker with my blog.  The result has been a few good posts over the last week.   I’ve occasionally tried to figure out how to insert a photo into the blog — unsuccessful…I’ll keep trying.

All of the tools that I have to create amazing things, both physical and mental, sit there unused.  It makes me sad.

There are times I want to go screaming through the “house”, flinging open every single “door” splitting myself into however many pieces needed so that I can dive into each one of those favourite things — for a very long, long time.  They are such an integral  part of me and I have not allowed myself the pleasure of being fully me for what seems like forever, because of the drudgery  called every-day life.  Being a ‘slave’ to my house and yard, with so many tasks that need to be done (and I am an excellent Procrastinator–hmmm…think we’ve talked about that–this blog has allowed me that).  To be a ‘slave’ to my physically deteriorating body (some natural, some caused by overdoing), with all of the aches and pains that go with it means that it takes longer to accomplish all those mundane tasks.

There is a story in me — no, let me correct myself .  There is a plethora of stories in me, pushing and shoving behind another closed door, waiting to burst forth.  On November first–the first day of NaNoWriMo, I plan on throwing open that particular door to allow the ideas to leap out, dancing around, waiting for me to noticed.  Teasing me, wanting me to snatch them out of the air, frame them into sentences, paragraphs and chapters, to finally create a completed story — or series of stories that will be bound into book(s) — sorry…I am a tactile reader…I do read on-line material, but for me, it’s so important to hold that book.  To physically turn those pages.  Into book form for (hopefully) my readers.  There will most likely be an e-reader form for those of you so inclined, but I want to see the words popping out from a bound book.

That is what November holds for me.

But until then, I continue to putter here, there and try to force myself to get my boring chores done.

And look what I was finally able to do!  A photo inserted into my blog!  That makes me happy!

National Novel Writing Month

Pencils and mind sharpened, computer charged…ready to go, with only eleven days to go!

 

 

Back at the Keyboard, Finally!

Oh, my. I have been negligent. Not spending time with my business website, not posting blog entries…

I’m sorry. I’ve been a bit absorbed with my young hens (acquired this spring) and loving every minute. But soon…oh, so very soon begins NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  This is the month of Literary Abandon — abandoning everything so that you (anyone that loves writing) can concentrate on just that–write. That is what November means to me. Obviously, I cannot “abandon” my Girls, or my other critters and I certainly will not forsake church–and, oh bother…Thanksgiving falls in that month too, but just about everything else will be put aside. I WILL post excepts (unedited, so please be nice) of my writings from NaNoWriMo.

The goal is 50,000 words in 30 days. I’m hoping to reach it this year!!

If you love writing and/or have thought about participating, now Is the time to go to NaNoWriMo.org and sign up!  Do yourself a favor and give it a try.

So, here are my official first entries, originally posted on my Facebook business page on the 9th & 11th.  After today, I will post directly to this blog (wonder how close to “daily” I will get)  and my FB Friends will need to follow the link to this blog.

9 Oct 12

My mother tried. It was the 50’s after all, when boys were boys and girls were girls. And she already had two boys. Now, she had a girl. Images of frilly things and girl-time must have danced in her head.

She tried very hard:  Frilly dresses, dolls of all imaginable sizes and shapes.  One doll was as big as I was. Most had eyes that opened and closed, one even wet it’s diaper & could be fed a bottle.  I even had a Barbie doll when they first came out.  I cut it’s hair to match my short, tightly permed hair.  A play house and all the girly goodies that go with it.  Yup.  The life of a girl in the 50s.

But I think my mother grew tired of mending my store-bought clothes. They weren’t made for they way I played. She began sewing her own; frocks that were not quite so frilly for me, with seams reinforced, hoping that they would withstand my rough play. Climbing trees is hard to do in a dress. Always stepping on the hem, tearing it at the waistline.

Even the reinforced seams didn’t work.  And by then, I really didn’t want to be in a dress.  Jeans were in — it was almost time for the Flower Child stage of my life.  Jeans–torn at the knee were really cool.

And playing rough was too.  Well, with four brothers by then, I was a full-blown Tomboy and loving every moment.  Though, I bet the required caring for my baby brother & diaper changes were a last ditch effort by my Mom to instill some sort of “womanhood” in me.  Didn’t work.

Climbing trees, arm wresting, romping through poison oak (and paying for it later), playing Cowboys and Indians (I was never a squaw…always a hunter/gatherer), wanting desperately to go hunting (no, that’s for boys…) with my dad and brothers…(but, I did get to learn how to shoot a rifle) — that is all I ever what I wanted to do.

Rough housing was standard fare at our house.  I could definitely hold my own against my brothers.  One of my brothers still sports, to this day, an ‘L’ shaped scar on his back from the time we were rough housing and while I was on the ground, he lunged at me.  Without thinking, I responded by using my legs to catch and repel him across the room — onto the corner of a table.  Oops.  It took him a little while to catch his breath (I was definitely concerned & promised not to do it again).

I’ve always been strong — thanks to my brothers, I think!  The arm wrestling and climbing certainly helped.  In high school, I signed up for shot put.  Definitely not the average sport for a girl.  I still like to do things — and it continues to surprise men — that requires more strength than is expected of me because of my gender, age and/or perceived physical abilities.

And their response always makes me giggle — oh, now there is a ‘girl’ trait! And finally, after all these years of jeans & tennies, climbing & rough housing, I am finding I am enjoying getting dressed up in frilly things and wearing makeup (occasionally).

Well, guess Mom finally won out.
Maybe.

Hope she’s smiling up there. ♥

11 Oct 12
Daily blogging takes more time than I thought. I certainly have the time, but putting all those little bits together to create enough space in time to sit down, uninterrupted, and pull my thoughts from the space between my ears and up into the Internet is more difficult than I thought.

Same with photographic blogging. I had challenged myself in June to do a “365 photo blog”. That’s one photo a day. Simple, right? Starting it on my trip overseas was a great way to start — plenty of photos, but finding the time to sit down, download the photos onto the computer and then sharing the meager Internet connection with my fellow travelers to upload to my Flickr account proved to be my downfall…and once I got home, I had so many things on my plate…so, I am sorry I have not followed through with it. Perhaps soon, I will be able to resume the photo blog. I promise. I keep my promises — eventually.

Time seems to be an illusive creature for me. Beautiful, fleeting…trying to harness it to work in my favor is a daunting task. I look around me, often wondering how some people are able to accomplish so much even when their “plate” is fuller than mine.

Secretly, I do know why I seem to have such a hard time. I haven’t told anyone, but I’m sure they can see it. It’s that dreaded Procrastination Monster. It hovers menacingly over me constantly. It weighs heavily on my shoulders–no wonder they ache so much. I make mental lists (oh, for those of you that know me personally–this should be a no-no) and begin my tasks, but the list vanishes into thin air, gobbled up by the Monster, even before I have completed the first thing on my list.

So, forgetting the list, I find something to entertain me — presently, that would be socializing with my sweet, sweet Girls…a dozen beautiful young hens (pullets, actually). We talk, my Girls and I, mostly about how they should be giving me more of their scrumptious, brown (and blue) eggs. They happily chatter back to me and amongst themselves, probably giggling at how this Human is demanding something they are not capable of performing quite yet. After all, the youngest is just coming up on 20 weeks and may require a few more weeks of maturing to produce her beautiful fruit. I do get presents of 4-6 eggs a day, but greedily hunger for more. What can one person do with so many eggs?  I eat them — too many, my doctor says. And, well, I do have friends, after all, so now they are getting even more now. Believe it or not, the Girls even get some too!

As we chat, I look around at all the incomplete projects and remember that I had a list going somewhere. I say adieu to the Girls and start searching for the List. Not finding it, I decided to create one on paper. But paper can be misplaced too. That Monster follows me everywhere!

Even when I am trying to run my errands efficiently, I discover I have left some important item needed (the List, perhaps?) at home. So, back I go. Now, I use my cell phone’s memo pad for my lists and I am less likely to misplace it. But still…

All of this takes time. My day is filled with free time, but it is stitching together those bits is the trick. I guess I would make an awful seamstress.

And I’m off again!

I cannot believe it has been over a year since I posted in this blog!  My apologies!

So much has happened in the last year, but in summary, once I returned from my trip to Europe, my daughter announced she’d found the man of her dreams — after a whirlwind “courtship” period, and some crazy, last-minute planning for the wedding, the in-love couple tied the knot in front of friends and family in the fall.

I didn’t have much time to recover, as the annual NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) began on 1 November.  This month-long writing frenzy netted me an almost-complete first-draft spin-off  for my already-in-progress novel.

November’s Thanksgiving and December’s Christmas, January’s New Year’s Eve — they all flew by without me taking much notice.  Where was time flying, anyway?  This getting old(er) is a challenge, but such a wonderful experience.  I love the adage that, like wine, women only improve with age!  Oh, yes!

So, in this new year, I get an email from a friend about a tour in Ireland.  Again, you say?  Well, if I had my way, I would either have a second residence there or have the funds to afford copious travel back and forth.  Ireland is the most beautiful country.  As is Scotland.  And England…and Germany…where do I stop?  I love to travel and meet people from different cultures, take in the extraordinary beauty of their homeland — the different gardens, buildings that are so ancient that stories dance in my head when I am around them — it is all so wonderful.

Of course, I’ll go!  A tour.  Something I said I’d never do…like being in a cattle car, shuffling from one “oooh, lookie” spot to another.  This one promises to be different.   There will only be ten of us.  Our musical guide (Marc Gunn, a musician) and his wife, plus eight others.  The tour will be focused on the musical side of the people.  We will tour Galway and westward by day and sing and laugh and drink pints by night.  So, this blog will get some good posts coming up soon.

I’ve spent little time on my manuscript — I still need to finish that first draft!  There has been no time (my fault) and this makes me sad….

Instead, I have procrastinated — found other pleasures and pursuits to follow.  I’ve been spending time behind my lens, working in the yard, going to classes to improve my artistic skills…

But mostly, my focus has been getting ready for this delightful trip and getting ready to be a mama to about 12 young chickens.  I’ve raised chickens before, but failing health required finding new homes for them.  I was called the Egg Lady at church.  There was always someone that needed some eggs.  Which was a good thing, because I had quite a few very productive hens, laying daily.

Now that my health has improved (finally), I have decided to start up again…but not until I get back from my trip.   I must say, I have some terrific neighbors, because, they help me out when I’m gallivanting off to other continents.  They love on my dog and cat while I’m gone.  Without them, my traveling days would be naught.  And I would be very sad, indeed.

So, as I said, heading to Ireland in June & blogging the trip (I still need to figure out how to post photos–my brain can be so lame sometimes!).  Working on my manuscript.  Starting a new project called 365: a photo journal on 1June — which you will be able to find on my Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/creationsbydjamesonsmith/ (hope this is a link — if not, copy and paste to your address bar).  I may post a few of the photos on this blog. And beginning to put together new pr material for my local schools to promote my storytelling.

I am thinking 2012 is going to be one very busy year!

Until next time,

Slainte!

NaNoWriMo:National Novel Writing Month

Hello, all!

This will be a first for me — I’m diving in (already signed up) and participating!  NaNoWriMo is all about writing — beginning November 1, ending November 30 at midnight, anyone that wishes to sign up and join in, commits to (attempt to??)  write a 50,000 word novel.  The goal is not quality, but quantity — so that opens it up to anyone that wants to give it a try.  This quantity over quality is something very foreign to me, so I consider it quite a challenge!

I will post my gibberish here — or at least excerpts — for your reading pleasure.

If anyone is interested, here’s the link to the NaNoWriMo site:  http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/whatisnano

Let me know if you decide to give it a try!  If you register, my online name is djamesonsmith.  See you there.