Perfection … ?

NOWHERE IN THIS WORLD WILL YOU find a person that is perfect. Nope. Not anywhere. One can strive for perfection. One can attain a moment of perfection—like a tear drop in the ocean of life—one tiny moment. That’s all. Life is too messy for perfection. Those that continually attempt to achieve the impossible can find themselves very unhappy because it always remains just out of their reach. Does that mean we shouldn’t try? Oh, absolutely not—we must realise it is not something to attain, but rather, something to use as a goal … to continually strive toward.

For me? Well, I think I love the “messiness” of life. It creates challenges, discoveries and life lessons. Of course, there has been only one being that managed to achieve perfection. Only one—and it was not just anyone. I use His perfection is a goal—a goal I know I will never fully manage in this worldly life. But He knows that. We are all damaged goods, but He knows we are worth salvaging … worth saving, if we ask …

The messiness. I’m trying to figure out why I’m writing about this. It’s as plain as the nose on my face, right? My life is messy. Beautifully messy. And since I seem so disorganised of late, is everything around me is too (insert goofy grin). My home, yard, cars, my art and writing … it can be overwhelming. Honestly. But for some reason, it isn’t—once upon a time, it certainly was … but not now. Back when I was incapable of getting out into the yard to do the tiniest bit of cleanup or lacking the energy to do a simple pick-up around the house, or even put words on a page—oh, yes. That was overwhelming. Emotionally and physically. Thankfully, now my energy and strength is returning—finally (aaah, insert Snoopy’s happy dance here!!) I have been in the yard and puttering around the house all the time. Creativity abounds. Words flow. Still messy, but delightfully so.

The mess created over the last two years is mountainous—but I’m finding as long as I keep going (and with the occasional help of a team of gardeners), it gets better looking, which encourages me to do even more. Weird, but it’s the visual accomplishments—improvements—that keep me at it. The pressure is off (but not forgotten)—where fire safety is concerned—rain has quelled that. I’m past the “ugh—I need to get out of this mess (read: MOVE!) and start over”—I’m so glad to have moved beyond that horrible feeling of frustration. And, finally, my mind is beginning to move beyond “what’s next/now what?” to “how can I improve/beautify?” Ideas are pouring into my mind from who knows where. It’s exciting.

My messy life extends into every corner of my creativity. I find myself (finally) back to seriously working on all three of my Writerly projects—book one’s edit (so it can be republished with Inknbeans Press), book four’s edit (so it can finally be published … and book five (I am progressing in it nicely—it is an exciting “chapter” in the series). The life lessons continue through the series … and I still don’t know what the final book will be—book six? Book seven? Only my characters know for sure. They’ll clue me in at some point—hopefully.

Even my Painterly side seems to be re-ignited. I’ve acquired a new, much larger printer so I can make larger pieces of art—that definitely excites me (still have to figure out out to set it up, but that’s half the fun, right?)—I can hardly wait to begin playing with it. The funny thing is, there are only two more events (one this weekend and one the second week of December), so there’s no way I’m going to produce any new material for this year’s events. The nice thing is, that doesn’t really bother me. The important thing is that I’m re-energised … on fire. And I’m loving it!

The end of November and the whole of December are times of renewal for me … I do have personal (fun) commitments—parties, family events and outings with friends, both day and night. I am so ready to get back to being normal … it has taken two long years. God is good … especially when I remember all things can be done and will happen—in His time, not mine. So … I’m not going to waste a moment.

In the meantime, my dear readers, try not to stress over the upcoming holidays … just be in the moment, take in the joy where you can and shake off the craziness that others try to foist upon you. There is so much to be thankful for. Start counting all of those little things that help you get through each day … have a blissful, blessed Thanksgiving with family and friends, and I’ll see you just after Thanksgiving—no Black Friday for me. Maybe I’ll wander around Point Lobos or venture down into Big Sur—it’s opened partway, so it would be nice to see the area again!

And readers—watch out. Keep an eye out for New Things in the New Year.

FINAL EVENTS:
Book Signings and Art at Craft Fairs

Saturday-Sunday 18-19 November 10am-4pm
Aromas Grange, Aromas CA

Thursday-Friday 7-8 December 10am-4pm
Watsonville Community Hospital, Watsonville CA

 

 

 

Secrets Beyond Scymaria—Books Four and Five

AAAH … I PROMISED YOU A SNEAK PEEK, didn’t I! Well I’ve got goodies for you—two snippets from two different works in progress (WIP). One is from Book Four, Mischiefmaker. I beg you … please remember—I’m still editing, so neither is perfect. But it’s getting there … very quickly (which makes me a happy camper). The other is from Catalyst (a working title … not sure it’s right—but then again, the story’s not done yet either. It may be perfect! Time will tell). Please remember: it is a work in progress, so no editing has been done.

So, without further delay, here are the snippets:

Mischiefmaker
“Oh…be quiet, Amy. No, I didn’t know,” he sputtered between coughs, trying to clear his lungs of apple juice. “I’ve never had that happen before. I’m sure I’ve eaten one lying down before … I’m sure.” His coughing fits settled as he asked if she had any water bottles in her bag, remembering the sloshing sounds he’d heard as she ran off.
“Yeah. I was just about to grab one.” She passed a bottle to him as he cleared his throat.
“Thanks.” He closed his eyes and shook his head, thinking how stupid it had been. Great way to impress a girl … he took a chug of water and immediately felt better. Clearing his throat once more, “Thanks. Okay. I feel better now.” He could still feel a bit of heat under his collar and wondered if his face was red. “How embarrassing. I’m sorry.”
“For what? That was a great mood lifter. Really. I haven’t laughed much since … since our graduation night, so it felt good. I should be thanking you.” Ty could see a twinkle in her eye and a hint of a smile register on her face then it turned somber. Watch out. Somebody at eleven o’clock!
Pretending to shift his backpack to his left, he looked up to see a man headed for them, waving. He didn’t recognize him at all. Do I know him? Wonder why I didn’t feel his presence? Who could this be? He started to call out for Rocky, but decided he needed to handle it himself, after all, he thought, we’re supposed to be dealing with everyday life on our own, right?
Right…oops. Wasn’t that directed at me? Sorry.
Well, yeah. Sorta. No apology necessary. Who do you think he is?
No clue.
The man continued to walk across the Green, with very deliberate strides and with purpose, toward the two as the sat on the grass, watching him approach.
“Hello, there! I’m new in town and just found this amazing park. Isn’t it beautiful?” The two kids stared up at him, dumbfounded. “I’m sorry—my name’s Ian—Ian Woon.” Bending down, he held out his hand, waiting for one or both to respond to his handshake.
Only the boy responded, politely parroting his name. “Hullo, Mr. Ian Woon.” Stealing a glance at his friend, he said no more.
Perhaps I’m being too forward—maybe I shouldn’t press the matter. Clearing his throat, he decided a correction was in order. “Actually, it’s Professor Woon. I’m going to head up the Biology Department at the college. A friend of mine told me this town is ripe for the picking—I mean to say, as a biology professor, there’s plenty of parks for me to use as a lab for my students, so I thought I’d check them out.”
He couldn’t understand why the girl went pale. “Are you okay, young lady? You’re not looking very well.” The boy turned to check on her again and then they politely excused themselves, quickly packing up their things and giving a polite, but distant good bye before disappearing into the bushes.
As they walked away, he chuckled. “Hmm. Wonder what I interrupted.” He looked around and sighed. “Which way do I go next? Two parks down. The professor said this town had an overabundance of parks and ponds. Now, where’s that map?” As he searched his pockets, he pondered what he’d found so far. The peculiar flora and fauna he’d seen fascinated him. Nothing extraordinary, he thought, but not the normal things you’d expect to see in the region. No wonder Professor Larkin was so obsessed with the parks. Too bad he’s losing his job. Well, his loss is my gain. Wonder what else I’ll find next. He studied his map for a moment, and then folded it up neatly, returning it to his pocket. There should be a pond just beyond these bushes …

Okay. That’s all of book four. Sound interesting? Hope so. Now on to book five:

Catalyst
“Y-yikes! What on earth was that?” Shaking her arm, she then examined it for any physical damage and shuddered at the pin-prickly feelings that lingered.
“What’s the matter?” Ty’s face was furrowed with concern. His hands immediately took hold of her arm.
“I … I thought something was raking up against my arm—like it was trying to keep me from going through. Like it was … was trying to grab at me with something sharp. I was almost through before—when you pulled me back a few minute ago and it was fine—what changed?” Her mind was in complete confusion. That insistent urge to go across to Scymaria was still present pressing at her very core of her being, but the reaction by the portal made her question if it was that smart of an idea. “I dunno. Maybe it’s not such a good idea to go, but I still have an overwhelming need to do it …” Looking at her friends for advise, she continued. “I don’t think Rocky would pull a stunt like that if he didn’t want us to use the portal … but, well, maybe?”
“No, the Guardian would not do that. He would never harm anyone.” Raf stood tall, with shoulders squared, facing them as he defended his mentor. “No. There is something else at work here. Something that we must investigate. I cannot sense the Guardian any longer—it is as if something is blocking his communication with me.” He screwed up his face in determination. “This … this is very hard for me. I have always sensed his presence. Always. The moment we pulled Amy back, I began to feel his presence ebbing—becoming very hard to hear. There was no warning from the Guardian.” His hands, palms flat, pressed against the portal, searching this way and that. “There must be a way.”
Amy felt Ty’s gentle pull on her still-tingling arm, guiding her away from the portal as Raf explored its surface. She stepped back, allowing their friend more room to probe with hands and mind—she could hear him imploring his mentor to intervene, to give him guidance. In her minds eye, she could see everything he did. Surprised that he did this openly, she watched and listened, observing in silence as she stood next to Ty, hoping he would succeed. But, what then? What are we to do once we can get to Scymaria? These thoughts repeated themselves, over and over as she watched Raf try to break through.
Now! Come now. We must go through together, quickly! The thought exploded in her mind as she grappled with her own thoughts. She could feel hands grabbing her as they all plunged through the portal. Again, she could feel the raking against her body as they made their way through. Perhaps not as noticeable, but it made her shudder, nonetheless. Will we be able to get back through? She broadcast those thoughts for both her friends to hear. Not wanting to think about the dire consequences if they were unsuccessful, they plowed ahead into Scymaria, anxious to see the bright blue skies and the colorful flower-peppered fields with the magnificent forest and mountains arching around and over them. Even if they are dangerous, I have a feeling, what I’m sensing is far …
She wasn’t able to finish her thought. Every sense was slammed with an overpowering feeling of dread as she broke through into their wonderful world of Scymaria. A place where nothing but beauty abound. Ty’s mother had called it Eden and she had agreed.
Her breath caught in her throat as she took in what lay before her. “Oh no—it can’t be.”

So … I’ve gone waaay over my usual word count, but it couldn’t be helped if I was to put both into one blog post. I certainly hope you’ve enjoyed these little snippets.

That’s all for now. May your Friday, weekend and week to follow be blessed.

At It Again … Book Signings and Art

I’M OF THE OPINION THAT MANY EVENT planners conspire against us humble vendors. Back-to-back weekends with a few events on Thursday and Friday, just prior to one of the weekend events can certainly be daunting.

Joyce and I have survived two years of that (or has it been more?), Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smithworking together in the fall/winter with all of the holiday events (Halloween, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas—am I forgetting any?). As we drag our way through the last few events of the year, we keep saying (every year) that we need to spread out our events more evenly throughout the year (adding to what we have), so that we can pick and choose which ones we do in the latter part of the year.

Teehee … Joyce managed to find a couple events for the new year already, so we’re already at it again. We finished our first event on 6May (a Saturday)—new to us … and absolutely great for a mystery writer, but apparently not so much for a fantasy writer. The winery seemed like such a great venue to catch people as they came out of their wine tasting and as the headed into the craft/vendor area. Guglielmo Winery Book SigningWe were placed in what should have been a prime location, but we found people skirting around us, not wanting to connect. Those that did connect bought Joyce’s mystery books, but not mine—I chatted with a quite a few people and did sell a few, so it wasn’t a complete loss. Some would listen to our spiel and say they’d think about it … and if they had money left over, they’d stop back and buy—but didn’t. Guess they spent their money elsewhere in the vendor’s fair.

The “background” music did not help. It truly was difficult to carry on conversations with those that did stop, whether their stopping was out of curiosity or an honest desire to purchase. It didn’t help that both Joyce and I no longer have strong voices to talk over the music. And my not having two of my three books on Amazon further damaged my ability to sell. I really need to get those two books republished with Inknbeans Press—soooon!

All of that aside, our next two events were literally back-to-back two-day, then one-day events. First up was the low-key and delightful craft event at Watsonville Watsonville Hospital Book Signing (and Art)Hospital in their conference room, from 10am-4pm on Thursday and Friday, 11-12 May. I had both Painterly and Writerly hats donned for that.

Next (and the finale for the very busy, long weekend) was the Aromas Hills Artisan’s event, Aromas Country Garden Tour on Saturday, 13 May from 10am-4pm. Attendees began at the Aromas Grange to pick up the Garden Tour map, then meander to the homes to admire the rich variety of gardens … and find AHA members displaying their Aromas Country Garden Tour/Book Signingwares—Joyce Oroz and I scored a prime setting to display and hawk our books. An amazing 2.5acre garden. We Scored A Fantastic GardenWe relished every sale, but knew people were there for the gardens, so it was more to get the word out … a PR day, so to speak—and to thoroughly enjoy the glorious day, as well.

We’ve had a quiet spell for a wee bit—time to spend with family on Mother’s Day before I begin chatting with a few business managers these next couple weeks to see if they’d be open to having two authors cluttering up their space for a few hours. We’re going to chat with the proprietor of Jardines de San Juan in San Juan Bautista—after we have a lovely lunch—to see if we can do a Restaurant Garden Delights Beautiful Garden at Jardines Jardines de San Juan's gardensigning in their beautiful garden … and check on a few other businesses in the town, also—especially since one of Joyce’s mysteries is set in San Juan Bautista. Slowly but surely, we will have events scattered throughout the year. And hopefully we’ll be able to keep them on the schedule for years to come.

In the meantime, I certainly hope those mothers, mothers-to-be—and those with a seed of an idea to become a motherHappy Mothers Day—amongst my readers had a memorable Mother’s Day. Though belated, Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!

I’ve been hunkered down working on the edit for the book that started the whole thing … Secrets Beyond Scymaria. Editing ... ... And More EditingThere may be a few changes, but it will not change the direction of the story. I can hardly wait to get it back into print. But please know that you can get both paperback and hardbound copies of the original printing via my SquareMarket store and I’ve decided to extended the sale for all three—if purchased as a trio, whether two hardbound and one paperback or all three paperback.

So, my dear readers … may this Friday and the week to come be one filled with delight, surprise and cheer …

 

 

A Little Shout-Out

WELL … I’M BUSTIN’ MY BUTTONS—Jackson Horvat did an excellent job of the interview with me. Thank you so much, Jackson! This young man is in high school—the interviews he’s been doing are part of a school project—but more importantly, he’s a published author with Inknbeans Press. A darned good one, too. His genre is science fiction and you can find his books here and at Inknbeans Press … and information about him here.

My interview—the first one in quite a while—can be found here. And along with that lovely interview, I’m finally getting the energy and my creative “mojo” back—sweet! I’m seriously diving back into working on editing book one in the Secrets Beyond Scymaria series so Inknbeans Publishing can publish it. If you recall, I withdrew the first two books from Xlibris last August and assumed I’d have the first book published with Inknbeans Press by January, 2017. Oopsie. I’m also still working on book four, editing it so it too can finally be published. And … my characters have started to breath down my neck, waiting for me to open the file up for book five. It’s time to get their newest story finished.

To celebrate all of this—especially for those of you that have yet to purchase any of the books (or wish to make gifts of the series to friends and family)—beginning Wednesday, April 5, 2017 I am having my first ever, honest-to-goodness book sale at my SquareMarket store! I’m still dotting all the i’s and crossing the t’s … but by the 5th, I should be rarin’ to go.

So my friends, Spring is here. It’s going to be a wonderful season in my life. I certainly hope it is the same with you! Have a wonderful day! May your day and weeks ahead be blessed … may you find serendipity around the corner. Oh … next week will be a photo-blog … I can feel it in my bones (insert mischievous grin here).

 

Branding …

I’M PUTTING ASIDE A NUMBER OF BLOG ideas to post this one … time sensitive and all. Sorta.

Branding is a “thing” in many fields. I’m not really sure there is a field it’s not important, but that’s not the issue.

Businesses have their logos, musicians and artists have a certain way they create their masterpieces, whether spoken (or sung) or visual. Some even go so far as to dress, act (their mannerisms) or even talk a certain way. It is all a form of branding.

As I tippy-toe through this minefield of ideas, trying to determine what I want to do—how “far” I want to go—with the branding for my books, my business and myself, I wonder. My business is very direct: “God Inspired” is in the title because I know I could not have achieved what I’ve done without the talents provided by Him and he deserves the credit. But, do I create an alter ego that is the writer and businessperson? Do I anchor myself in who I am (sometimes a bit crazy, goofy), blowing off the staid norms of the industry, or find a balance somewhere in between?

I am inclined to lean heavily on being myself. Lighthearted. Joyful and full of life. A follower of Christ (at least, doing my best). In doing so, I am going against what I see as the norm in the writing industry. Will that hurt my chances of succeeding?

One “struggle” I had was whether to stay with the simple, conservative author’s photo for my book—my first two were relatively simplistic. Static photo of me with something in the background. But, a few months ago, friend and I were out “shooting” the scenery when I caught her taking a picture of me. I got goofy, pulled my hat off my head (it was very, very cold and blustery that day—we were well bundled … and still freezing) and pretended to throw it up in the air. She caught it on camera. When I saw it, I immediately felt like it captured the real me—others have said the same. Yes, I can be serious. But mostly, I am what I’d call a free spirit—even more so now that I’m older. I knew this was the photo I wanted to use as my official author’s photograph.

Crazy, right?

Am I dooming myself by doing so? Will people take me serious when they see this crazy photo? All of the articles about succeeding in the writing business say to keep it professional, to keep the “artsy” photos on Instagram, etc.

Well, I’ve spent a better part of a week grappling with this one issue and finally made my decision. Along with all the other legal bits and my manuscript, I attached a jpeg of my joyful photo to be used on the back of my books. I am relieved at finally making the decision to use it—in addition to the immense relief of finally having everything out of my hands as I pushed the send button.

My third book, The Scymarian is now in the hands of my publisher. I am excited, relieved and just plain ol’ joyful. The cover art will follow shortly, but they have everything that they need to get the inside galley and the marketing begun.

I’m going to place an order soon for some “con ribbons”—those lovely little self-adhesive backed ribbons with sayings and art on the front that is handed out at ComicCons, DrWhoCons, etc. I’ll use it when I attend any of these conferences—attending as myself (most likely … though that may change), wandering around passing out the ribbons and wristbands to interested attendees. The one definite exception will be the Dr. Who conference in February … I’m going to go as Sarah Jane Smith—insert huge grin—(one of Dr. Who’s companions in the Classic series and leading lady in her own series before her passing). I’m gathering the costume slowly, even now.

Back to branding. Companies switch out their brand—why, I’ve no clue. It’s disruptive to my poor little brain. If I like a company, I settle into it, logo and all. When they change things up, I get confused. Can’t find their products. Maybe it’s not their logos that need changing. Quit trying to please everyone in the world so much. That’s an impossible task and requires changing more than a logo. Perhaps they need to work on keeping their ethics intact. I don’t know.

I just know it’s so much easier simply being myself. I won’t have to switch back and forth, turning on and off my alter ego. I like who I am. So, I’m going forth as me … a person who also happens to be a writer, a photographer and an artist. I’m not going to change just so I fit a certain perceived peg. I am who I am.

So, be assured I will stick with my “me” brand. It may take some time to polish, but … what you see is what you get (insert huge grin) …

Just so you know.

 

Secrets Beyond Scymaria

Book one

Secrets Beyond Scymaria

Book two

Secrets Beyond Scymaria

Book three

 

Secrets Beyond Scymaria series, book three: The Scymarian coming soon!  The first two books in the series are available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and signed copies at my SquareMarket website. The Scymarian, available soon.

Painterly Endeavors

PUTTING ON MY “PAINTERLY” HAT THIS month…I’ve been having fun at Open Ground Studios lately. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Denese Sanders, teacher and owner, has classes of different sorts going each month. Crazy me jumped in with both feet … taking classes both Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

Denese’s Tuesday Creative Habits is dedicated to getting into a creative groove, so to speak. A potpourri of artistic mediums are used—a different one each month. January is graphite drawing. I’m not that good as a line-drawing artist (I know I may be better at some, but consider myself

graphite drawing

Graphite drawing of my dog at Creative Habit class at Open Ground Studios

far worse than many more), but figure it’s not going to hurt dabbling, working on improving my skills. Kaeli (my dog) was a great model, even if I don’t do her justice. There are times I think I

Kaeli, my model

My model for some graphite drawing

might have ADD since I find myself getting distracted about half way through the class. But, even with my doodles—and Denese’s guidance, I can focus and accomplish

Doodles

Doodles when I get distracted…

the task at hand. I think I may play with drawing my cat’s eye next time (see below)…so amazing to see the detail in his eye.

Cats Eye

My cat’s eye up close and personal…

The first Thursday class for miniature book binding was postponed ’till this Thursday—last night— which was a good thing in disguise (at least for me). Starting up with two night classes in a week might have been my downfall.

Miniature Books

A collection of the little books made on the first night. The business card is for size comparison.

I was excited to get my hands on a miniature book (insert grin) … guess anything concerning books gets me going. Teehee.  Though a small class (a good thing for us students), we had a blast, learning quite a few forms…creating quite a few in the process: accordion (two types), pocketed folio, mini books with three- and five-hole threading.

Mini Accordian Book

My slightly modified mini accordion book, with a flap to enclose the whole book (or it can lie flat at the back)

I think my favorite for the night was the teensie-tiny (only about an inch and a half square) accordion. I modified my cover slightly to make it a bit more artsy. By the way…after last night’s class, I think the “ADD” I experienced at the Creative Habit class is more from it not being something I’m “in love” with doing…line drawing apparently is not my thing, but still, a good way to explore the different things out there. Three hours time flew by so fast last night … I didn’t want it to end (well, I was getting blurry eyed from the hour, but was having so much fun). I can hardly wait for next Thursday. Denese has some interesting structures for us to “build” … wheee!

For those of you that are local, there’s still time to join in on either night’s activities. Simply sign up at their website: Open Ground Studios

In between my art-focused classes, I’ve been wandering around with various cameras (iPhone, my little Canon point ‘n shoot and my Pentax)—snapping shots in different settings. I find myself in awe of our area, taking pictures along the coast and in the woods at Point Lobos—both flora and fauna, in my yard (there’s always something to capture my interest), and on the road (or along side the road)—or even in nurseries (see below)

Deer grazing.

A young deer, completely unafraid of me, posed as I took photos of it grazing. (above)

Path through forest

Path through the forest at the south end of Point Lobos

 

Broken Plaster

Unfinished plaster display at a nursery caught my eye (center)

The Central Coast of California is an awe inspiring place for photographers — and plein-air artists…you can find them set up, perched on a chair or rock or standing, painting or drawing the landscape almost any time of the day.

In between all of the painterly activities, I am working on the edit for The Scymarian—trying desperately to get it done and returned to my editor for the second go-round so my readers can dive into the third book … and then there’s always the weekly, last-minute scurry to get the blog finished and published. Well, honestly … it’s only sometimes that I’m doing that last-minute thing. I do try to have it done by the end of the day on Thursday and have been pretty successful of late (yay). Right now, I’m begrudgingly yielding to the need to work on the blog instead of editing—I know taking breaks from editing helps get it done with less fatigue … but I am certainly pressed to complete the edit as soon as possible.

I’ll sign off now so that I can get some editing done before heading off to run errands (and attempt a short walk—all this sitting will be the death of me!).

Cross your fingers—those Secrets Beyond Scymaria readers amongst you—hopefully I will have this edit completely done before the end of this month and have it submitted to the publisher by the end of February.

Until next time, may your day be blessed with wonderment, good health and joy.

Mucking About

“MUCKING ABOUT: BEHAVING IN A silly or aimless way, esp. by wasting time when serious activity is expected…”

That’s what the dictionary has to say about it. I’ve just started (and not completed) four blog posts. I’d say I’m definitely mucking about, especially since it’s now Friday and I’m supposed to have something for you. Now. Yet, I keep “mucking about”, not finishing anything. My thoughts do seem aimless — well, aimless where writing is concerned. My mind is definitely elsewhere. I have ongoing, ever-evolving lists rolling around in my mind right now and I cannot concentrate on writing a decent blog.

You see, tomorrow — that’s Saturday, 23 August, I have my very first book signing at a real book store. (wheeee!) I’ve never been so nervous. I’ll be up in Gilroy at the Barnes and Nobles’ “brick and mortar” store — the closest big-box book store since all the stores in Salinas and on the Monterey Peninsula closed down (very sad, indeed). All that is left are a few little boutique book shops, some with new, or new and used or some with only used books. So, from 2-4pm on Saturday, I’ll be signing books, chatting with BN customers and passing out book marks. (There’s a little treat for anyone that buys either or both books.)

Then, the busyness continues (even more so) on 24 August, Sunday, as I spend an entire day (9-4) in Aromas (I’ll be there at 7am setting up) at their annual Aromas Days, doing more of the same — book signing and chatting, answering any questions about my books. But this time, I’ll have a bit of my art work to show off (for sale) as well, so hopefully all of that will keep me busy…but not overly busy.

There is one more event, but not until 27 August at 11am, at the San Juan Bautista Library, rubbing elbows with patrons and the SJB Library Axillary members. Depending on the time, I’m hoping to have time to do a reading from one or both of my two books that are now available, but at the very least, there will be time to answer any questions about the books.

If you live in the area, please come by either of the events this weekend, or the one on Wednesday at San Juan Bautista’s Library. I’d love to take some time to chat with you. Honest!

Blogging for today is pretty much consisting of an infomercial. My apologies. To make up for the blatant plugs, here’s an excerpt (it has not seen the red pen of a final edit yet) from the latest Secrets Beyond Scymaria series (book three), The Scymarian:

… he was ready to attack them if necessary.  But they advanced no further.  Weapon at the ready, he slowly moved forward, his mind racing with questions and strategies.  The music that surrounded him put him at ease once again, but his defensive stance remained.  He stared curiously at the three women and one boy standing before him.  The smaller woman, a girl not much younger than he, stood behind the other three, protected.  Very slowly, she raised an open hand, perhaps to show she had no weapon.  She raised her other hand in the same fashion.  He could see nothing concealed. Scanning the hands of the others, he saw they had no weapons. He had an advantage over them, perhaps.
He brought his stick to his side, again using it more to lean on than as a protective weapon. The pain at time was searing, but he tried to ignore it.

As Amy stepped forward, in line with the others, she could see he stiffened slightly.  She paused, not wanting to frighten him.  He relaxed to the music again.  Slowly, she stepped in front of the rest, bringing her outstretched and weaponless hands to her sides as she came forward.  She was now outside of Rocky’s protective cave, face to face with her would-be assailant.  The others remained just behind her, shielded.
She spoke softly, with an even tone, “I’m not going to hurt you.  I am unarmed.”  She paused to see his reaction. He cocked his head to one side for a moment, not taking his eye off of her.  Trying desperately not to reveal the fear welling up inside, Amy drew in a deep breath, expelling it slowly and steeled herself, to console this would-be friend, “I –I want to help you.  Do you understand me?”
She waited for an answer, or some other clue that he understood her.  When there was no response, she continued, “My name is Amy.  I don’t come from this world.  I am from–” she paused again.  She really didn’t know how specific she should be, since his people had been trapped for so long and probably had no recollection of where they originated.  Quickly, she made the decision to be very general.  “Um, I am from Earth.  Do you understand that?  Not from here.  From the other side.”
She saw a flash of recognition in his eyes when she mentioned the other side.
While she spoke, she kept an eye on him.  She had observed his frailness from the safety of Rocky’s interior, but now, as she stood before him, she could see he truly was nothing more than skin and bones with only the faintest outline of thin muscle barely holding him together…..

So, I hope that appeases you for another week. The story is still evolving, and once it passes over the red pen of my editor, I’m sure there will be further changes. Please feel free to pass this on to friends, either via Facebook, or as a link in an email.

Until next week, may your days find purpose, filled with unexpected blessing and joy.

 

 

An Excerpt

I’M NEARLY READY TO TURN IN my manuscript to my editor for the first of his critiques (I keep saying that, don’t I? I keep getting sidetracked—teehee)…but before I do so, I thought I’d give you a taste of how the third book begins (in the unedited form). In it’s final form, it should be ready for publication by late Fall, 2014 if everything falls into place as planned.

I did have another post nearly ready when my website ate it (is that like when the dog eats your kid’s homework?)—I should have it reworked and ready for next week—so, to take it’s place, what follows in an unedited excerpt from The Scymarian:

Secrets Beyond Scymaria: The Scymarian (book 3):

The new morning brought renewed hope. The sun, still low in the sky, just beginning its ascent coupled with an unusually warm breeze, flowing from the northwest, created excitement for everyone. An excellent Saturday. As Amy stepped out on her porch, she could see Ty, already sitting on the swinging bench on his porch. She waved and grinned as she took a long deep breath, savoring the warm woody breeze brushing against her face.

Ty jumped from the bench, leaving it to its cockeyed swing, returned her wave and thought, Good morning, Amy. Still able to read my thoughts? He stood there, staring at her, concentrating.

She smiled, cocked her head curiously, but no reply. He shook his head, sighed and heavily trod down the steps, punctuating each step with a pause, until he reached the bottom.

He turned to face Amy, you can’t hear me, can you?

Amy continued to watch him. She lightly flew down the steps, barely touching them as she went. Before he could get to the sidewalk, she was there, waiting. Staring intently at him for only a moment, Amy flashed a smile as she reached over, tousled his hair and snatched his hat. Before he could react, she was flying down the street to the park, laughing all the way, holding the hat close to her. She could hear him as he followed close on her heels, shouting for her to return his hat, laughing almost as hard as Amy. As they approached their park’s entrance, Amy slowed momentarily, glancing behind her and realized that Ty was within reach but had yet to grab at her. Scrunching her face, she turned back to focus on entering the park. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a figure climbing out of a car. Her laughter caught in her throat when she realized it was the professor. No! No…not now!

My amazing cover artist is working hard to create an awesome cover for me—I’m guessing I’ll get to see it fairly soon. I’m definitely anxious to see it. I’ll make sure to let you get a sneak peek, but just a peek…

Hope your week is filled with hope. Have a blessed week ahead.

Breaking News…

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN–AND KIDS of all ages…I am breaking into the regularly scheduled post about my trip to make an announcement (patience…I’ll continue the story of my trip next week). I would be remiss if I didn’t let you know that my second book in the Secrets Beyond Scymaria series is finally available for your reading pleasure. Perfectly timed for a good summer read.

Secrets Beyond Scymaria, is an engaging read for all ages, with many unexpected twists and turns. Second in the MG/YA sci-fi fantasy series, Secrets Beyond Scymaria: Warriors of the Forest continues the adventures of Amy and Ty as more problems crop up with their classmates and the professor returns to add even more grief to their lives. Their new-found friend invites them on an adventure through the portal into his world, but events unfolding could trap them in this new world if they don’t act fast.

Warriors of the Forest

Just released-Secrets Beyond Scymaria: Warriors of the Forest, second in the series

The discoveries unfolding within…

The Series:
Book One: Secrets Beyond Scymaria
Book Two: Warriors of the Forest
Book Three: The Scymarian – coming this Fall/Winter, 2014
Book Four has a working title of “Redemption” and will be released sometime in 2015.

I must say, I am excited that Warriors of the Forest has finally made it through the grueling publishing process. My talented cover artist, Michele Luccketta, created a delightful cover for the book. Soon, she and I will sit down to come up with the cover for book three–and that book is gearing up to begin the publishing process…but what has me über excited is the fact that book four (with a working title of Redemption), which I started in January, 2014 is growing into an amazing addition to the ongoing story that makes up the Secrets Beyond Scymaria series.

Unlike many writers, I do not use an outline, nor do I have any concrete ideas of what the beginning, middle or end will be when I sit down to write. I jokingly call it ‘seat of the pants’ writing. I solely depend–and have faith in whatever God provides. And He has never failed. It makes the story as exciting for me as it does for you, the reader. The only difference is, you can sit down and finish the book within a day or two. I must agonize for weeks or months over what will happen next. What I do know is, it appears that book four will be introducing a few more characters. I was surprised to see them pop up–will they be friend or foe? Honestly, I don’t know yet. I’ll find out as they unfold their story.

Enjoy Secrets Beyond Scymaria and Warriors of the Forest–and be ready for the third one, The Scymarian, to come out before the end of 2014.

Here’s where you can find them (don’t forget, you can always ask your local book store to stock them!). Both books are available as eBook, paperback and hardbound–and can be purchased internationally, for those of you outside of the USA:

(hardbound) ISBN: 978-1-49902-586-6                 (paperback) ISBN: 978-1-49902-587-3                             (eBook) ASIN: B00LF917AK

SquareMarket (my business store-you may place an order after 21July, 2014): http://mkt.com/creations-by-djamesonsmith

Amazon: http://goo.gl/J83ob3

Barnes and Nobles:  http://goo.gl/VZVRpJ

Xlibris:  http://goo.gl/Jw5suD

Please feel free to let your friends know about the new book! I’m lining up dates for book signings and will let you know as soon as they are confirmed.

May your day be filled abundantly with joy and peace.

 

Secrets Beyond Scymaria: Warriors of the Forest

HOPEFULLY, BY THE END OF MAY, my next book will be out for you to purchase. I spent the evening in the company of a fellow writer, each of us working on our respective edits. I was able to iron out all but a few of them before I needed to close up and head home (the seats in the coffee shop were no that conducive to long stays). So the publisher should be getting the manuscript pretty soon.

Then, it dawned on me–I’ve been negligent! I have not given you, my faithful readers, any inkling of where book two takes my two characters. So, without further adieu, here’s a bit of a teaser:

“Okay. Okay . . . Ty. I think I understand now.” Amy and Ty were sitting at the cafeteria table, hunched over their lunches, and talking in whispers so as not to be overheard. Amy’s pigtails fell, brushing the table as she leaned in to discuss Ty’s problem.

“What do you mean?” he asked through clenched teeth, glaring at her with his dark brown eyes while mindlessly poking at his food. He was in a foul mood. The morning had not gone well for him; all week long his friends had been relentless in their taunting about his relationship with Amy. He kept insisting they were just friends, nothing more, but they wouldn’t let up with their teasing, and a terrible tension had mounted between them. Finally, this morning, in his anger, he’d yelled at them and stomped off.

Just like a little kid, he thought, now regretting his actions.

All this had happened before classes started. All morning, none of his friends would talk to him, and made it abundantly clear to Ty they were avoiding him by turning around when he approached them. Shunning him. He’d just finished confessing to Amy his outburst and the subsequent consequences.

“Well, they think we’re going out or something, right?” Amy kept staring at him. Ty felt his face grow hot. He was ready to shout at her too. Rolling her eyes, Amy put up a hand. In a calm tone, she added, “Wait. Let me finish, please . . . And you certainly haven’t spent very much time with them, right?”

Ty nodded. He could feel the heat drain from his face as he sighed.

*  *  *

“Okay. Ty, you guys are super good friends, but they really miss all the fun you usually have. You’ve been blowing them off ever since this all started—for a good reason.” She kept an eye on him while she polished off the last of her lunch. “Really, they’re probably just jealous.”

He looked up and scowled, glaring straight at her.

“Jealous?” he snipped.

Remaining calm and ignoring his penetrating glare, she answered, returning his stare with a gentler one. “Yes, silly. Jealous. No, we are not”—she made air quotes as she spoke—“‘a couple’ or going out, but you have to agree we’re spending tons of time together. We have . . .” She paused. She wasn’t sure how to label their relationship anymore; their new friend made it very complicated. All the secrecy surrounding him and what he represented was intriguing—exciting, really—but they could not share this information with anyone outside their parents and their science teacher, Miss Tansy.

“We have a common bond.” She leaned in a bit closer and whispered, “Rocky. We can’t tell them about him, but we’re having so much fun with it. He’s changed us, Ty. More than we could ever dream. Don’t you agree?”

Ty nodded again.

All the things, the new “talents” they had discovered with Rocky’s help were amazing, beyond their wildest dreams, especially the thought-speech. They both loved it.

WELL, HOPE THAT SATISFIES all of you for a bit–at least until I get the final manuscript (plus the cover artwork and ‘blurbs’ for the back and jacket flaps) off to the publisher and I’m deep into the throws of publishing phase…