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.


 

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.

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.