Back in the Saddle

OH, IT DOES FEEL GOOD TO BE writing—and editing again. Moving forward in life—finally. I’ve finished the first edit of Mischiefmaker—I resorted to printing out the manuscript for my edits (I know—paper waster!!—but this is the best way for me to get things done). I did it when I first started this writing-a-book thing and found it to be so much easier for me than sitting in front of a computer, tethered to (or reliant upon) an electrical/electronic source.

I’ll take the written page over a digital screen any day—whether for editing or reading for pleasure. And, yes … I must eventually come back to the computer, but it’s to input changes and for a quick read-through before I print it out once again for the next round. Occasionally, I find myself forgetting about the written page and discover I’ve read ahead four or five pages without editing/correcting my work. I’m obviously still enjoying reading this story of mine. That’s a good thing, don’t you think?

As I was saying before I sidetracked myself (sniggle) … I am working on inputting the corrections for round one. I will read the whole story again with corrections in place, making notes of where I need additional changes as I go. Then, on to round two. Depending on how awful I feel round one was, I’ll do one of two things. Print it out, and dive into it once again … or, if it’s reasonably sound (not too sure it is at this point), I’ll print out copies for my beta readers to get input from them as I am working on taking the rough edges off in round two—it’s usually round three that goes to the beta readers, but maybe I’m improving enough to speed up the process (finally catching the newbie mistakes in the initial writing or round one) … so, we’ll see.

Maybe it’s the upcoming book signing that has me so jazzed about my editing (which I usually dread), or the upcoming surgery that has me up against a deadline … (yeah, probably the latter—teehee), but I’m thoroughly enjoying the time with my manuscript.

The book signing is a joint venture with my author friend, Joyce Oroz—a mystery writer. The Aromas Country Garden (and Art) Tour is on Saturday, May 14th from 10am-4pm (pick up maps for a small fee at the Aromas Grange)–date was recently changed due to rain. We will be joined by other Aromas Hills Artisans (AHA), peppered along the streets of Aromas in various gardens, waiting for people to venture in to admire the area flora—and our various art forms. Most of the AHA members are oil-acrylic-watercolour painters, ceramic & metal sculptors, jewelers, stained glass specialists, etc … whilst Joyce and I use our talents honing words. If you happen to be in the area—northern most portion of Monterey County, come visit Aromas and admire the flower/veggie and xeriscape gardens. Please take the time to see what the artists will have on display. I’m sure they will appreciate your visits to their booths. Joyce and I will be chatting with those that come through our chosen garden (pretty close to the center of town) and of course, we will have books to sell/sign.

From another page in my life, I’ve just given an okay to my publisher on a revamp of the cover of The Scymarian (and made a few corrections to the interior—errors that none of us caught the first time around) and that will head to production soon. Once I get this manuscript polished and wrapped in a bow for my publisher—and finish up with book four, I’ll begin to reclaim book one (and maybe book two) from my first publisher so Inknbeans Press can proceed with publishing it/them under their name. But that won’t happen until I’ve had a real professional edit done on book one (I do not consider the edit done by that publisher as professional by any means—I ended up going back through and correcting all their mistakes and found many more they’d missed). It’s all coming together … slowly, but surely.

After that, I’ll be able to get back to working on book five. It’s exciting, time consuming, stressful and challenging—all at once. Life keeps me busy—and motivated … … that’s for sure.

Folks, I want to thank each and every one of you that have hung in there and kept faithful in reading my blog and following my business pages (my Writerly and Painterly pages) on Facebook. I’m always open to any feedback you might have to make the pages more interesting, so please feel free to comment—either here or on the Facebook pages. I want them to be interesting for you and can only guess if I do not have your feedback.

Have a blessed day—and weekend.

Mine was going to be busy, as you know … and possibly a little wet—but we need the rain, so I’m not complaining. Though it has been rescheduled, if you’re local, no matter the weather next week, don’t let a little rain stop you from getting out to enjoy the beauty of the gardens … and the art. Hopefully we will see you there!

 

Too Much To Do …

OOPSIE. THERE’S BUSY … THEN THERE’S WAY too busy. It looks like October is just one of those months … filled with a mix of business and pleasure, leaving very little room for quiet time. I’ve been so darn busy trying to get ready for the release of my third book in the series, the book signing next week and the upcoming Steampunk convention—and failing miserably to get my costume the way I envisioned it (insert huge pout), that I have put aside my blog responsibility to the very last second. Literally. Yikes.

Also, in trying to make sure all my ducks were in a row, I completely forgot about book marks for my new book (groan … head/desk!). So … if I’ve time, that’s on my agenda today so I’ll have something for the weekend. Otherwise, it’s on my to-do list for Monday (for next week’s event).  Now I’m wondering what else I’ve forgotten. What was initially planned as  a low key event where I would meander through the vendor tables, etc. to distribute business cards, con ribbons and chat up attendees has become … um, well, almost a circus—with me running in circles, trying to get things to work out correctly. I keep misplacing things, only to find and misplace yet again (and, in most cases, find them again). Some things remain MIA, sadly … so I’m not able to do a few things I’d planned. But, I should be ready. A “scaled-back” ready.

At least, I hope I’m ready.

… And, I now have an added responsibility of trying to recruit interested Steampunk artists to teach at Open Ground Studios. I don’t mind—it’s kind of an honor, really … but I don’t want it to take away from any other aspect: having fun, passing out my con ribbons and chatting with attendees about Dr. Who, steampunk and my ever-growing series. I’ll figure it out.

So, as short as this blog is, I’m sure next week’s will be just the opposite … and should be filled with photos from the conference. Until then, I’m off to have some fun, so have a blessed weekend and week to come.

 

Secrets Beyond Scymaria series (books 1-3) available now at my SquareMarket (signed copies)
Inknbeans Press (book 3 only … at some time in the future, they will have all of the books in the series)
Amazon (book three)  (book 1-2) … having issues getting Amazon to recognize all are by same author.

 

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.

It’s Almost Time

OKAY … I’M COUNTING THE DAYS NOW—I’VE JUST HEARD from my publisher, verifying that we’re on schedule … and it looks like it’s just one week away before The Scymarian will be released—on Friday, 25 September, 2015. Wheee!

To say that I’m excited is a gross understatement. Can you see me doin’ a happy dance? … ooh, big time! It’s truly a mini-event for me, since this is the last bit of the initial story that I wrote, then split into three to create the Secrets Beyond Scymaria series. The story line has only just started to unfold, with new discoveries on each page … in each book.

Now the real challenge begins.

I’ve already managed to accumulate over 45,000 words for the next couple books. Right now I’m trying to find a good spot to slice the book … and then dive in, to add a few more elements to the first of the two books to create book #4—The Mischiefmaker. Then it will be time to do a serious edit. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

For now, I’m simply going to bask in the joy of knowing that The Scymarian is just about ready for you to read. I’m hoping to have some of the books in my hands for my little foray into Steam Punk at the convention in Turlock—my publisher has promised I’ll have them. I’m not sure how successful I’ll be “steam-punking” the Dr. Who’s Sarah Jane Smith character (still working on it) that I plan to cosplay as … but I’m certainly going to have fun trying. So, if you happen to be attending the SteamHouse Steam Punk Conference, you just might see me there. Hopefully with a few new books …

My second Inknbeans Press blog piece is out today, to give you a bit more information about the new book. Short but sweet … and with a link for pre-ordering books (with free shipping). You can find the link to the blog piece here.

Have a blessed weekend. Stay cool—or warm, depending on where you are. And enjoy your weekend.

#SecretsBeyondScymaria (twitter)
SquareMarket-Creations by djamesonsmith

 

 

Funny Thing …

THIS LOOKS TO BE ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE … don’t-know-what-to-write-about weeks. There are oodles of ideas pinging around in my head, but none will settle long enough to take root. Perhaps because I’m so excited about my upcoming book release, two blogs for my publisher (one already done and turned in … the other nearly done—not due till mid September) … and a very fun (I hope) event in early October for which I am still feverishly attempting to get my “costume” completed. And, on top of that, a writer-friend told me about two local Dr. Who events mid September, one of which that has a costume contest (am I going to be ready with my costume by then??).

Oh—and I cannot forget about the next book-signing event coming up this Sunday in Aromas during their annual Aromas Days event. I’m still recovering from the wonderful time I had at the West End Celebration, working both Saturday

Open Ground Studios Booth

The OGS booth . I was situated on the left edge on Sat, on the right edge for Sunday to hawk my books

Accordion Boooks

Community Pallette’s tent. OGS  art demos were done here—my set-up for demo of mini accordion books

and Sunday at the Open Ground Studios booth, first as an artist demonstrating how to create a mini accordion book (book arts), then as an author hawking my books to passers-by all weekend. Delightful—and exhausting. Oh, yeah … I forgot sunscreen on an absolutely gorgeous weekend—sunny and bright (with no hat). I’m now in the peeling stages of my major sunburn. Looks awful. Serves me right.

So, I am having issues with “settling” on any one thing to write about. Groan. Hmm. What to write about … well, I could tell you about the spending spree I

Clockwork Gears

Found treasures to glean for my Steam Punk Sarah Jane Smith outfit

went on over the last couple of days to acquire a few Whovian items to round out my Sarah Jane Smith persona for the Steam Punk conference in October (hmmm … wonder if I can write any of it off—sniggle). Or the stash of clock gears and springs I scored at my clock smith’s shop (Leon Hittner, proprietor of the Antique Clock Shop in Pacific Grove, has been the “doctor” for my old steel-cased Chelsea clock, inherited from my husband’s side of the family). “Smith” … “doctor” … how apropos!

And … whilst trying to hone in onto the one thing to write about (obviously not happening) I received an email from the “Boss Bean” at InknBeans Press. My first blog piece about me and my books will be posted the same day as this blog —TODAY! So if you are interested, here’s the link to A Fresh Cup at the InknBeans Press website. The second blog will be posted closer to the tentative release date—which by the way … she also told me (drum roll, please …) for Friday, the 25th of September. TentativeI’ll let you know when it’s for sure. I’m still a happy camper, indeed! But, she’s also given me a last minute assignment of adding a page to the book—”Previously in Secrets Beyond Scymaria …”—to catch up readers who may be starting with book three. Ought to be interesting trying to encapsulate the essence of the first two books without spoilers…

If you are interested, here’s the schedule of things happening over the next two months (as present)—or go to my Facebook authors page for a more detailed schedule :

Sunday 30 August 10-4   Aromas Days | Author’s Book Signing with Artists in the Park | Aromas CA

Tuesday 15 Sept 5:30-8:30  attendee (member) Central Coast Writers monthly meeting with dinner (open to public) | 77 Asilomar Blvd, Pacific Grove CA

Wednesday 16 Sept 7:30pm  attendee Dr. Who Event (at select theaters near you—I’ll be in Monterey)

Friday 18 Sept 6:30pm  attendee Dr. Who mini-con | John Steinbeck Museum, Salinas CA

Friday 25 Sept tentative release of The Scymarian It will be available in paperback and e-book formats only. Available through InknBeans Press, Amazon, and I believe also at Barnes and Nobles. It may be ordered through any local bookstore.

Saturday 26 Sept 8:30  participant Alzheimer’s Assoc. Walk to End Alzheimer’s | Monterey Custom House, Monterey, CA

2-4 October   attendee SteamHouse Steam Punk Conference | Modesto CA

10 October   Harvest Jubilee Author Book Signing (tentative) | First Presbyterian Church, Salinas CA (more info later)

Blogging and Writing

IT’S WHAT I DO, RIGHT? SO WHEN my new “boss” at Inknbeans Press said I needed to write a blog, I just flew right into it … wrong. It’s really quite funny what new things do to the psyche. I’ve written blogs about all sorts of things—even about me. But somehow, this feels different. And I felt a wee bit self-conscious.

Usually, I write what I’m lead to write. I write when I want to write … and I have self-imposed deadlines, which if missed are not a big deal. But for this blog, I needed guidance. It wasn’t my blog that my words were going in and I wanted to do it right. And on time. As I did a little back and forth with “Boss Bean”—that’s what everyone at Inknbeans Press call her (love it!) … and waiting, I began forming the blog. It grew into a behemoth of a blog in no time—1300+ words. Yikes! Now, the task of a massive edit lays before me (now that I have perimeters to work with)—to divide and bring two pieces to a more manageable 500-600 word count. One is due next Thursday (panic mode engaging in three … two … one ...). The second one is due mid-September.

The cool thing is, these two blogs I need to do bring me closer to publication of my third book—finally. I know I’ve been saying … for a very, very long time it was just about ready to be published, but this time—thank God—it’s for real (insert monster grin … and Snoopy’s famous happy dance) and I am so excited.

Boss Bean has “forced” me into actually doing some promotion for it by requiring this blog. And, believe it or not, I kinda like it. The vanity press did no such thing—with a “we’ll do it for you … for a price” attitude (and yet, didn’t do much for me)—leaving me to grapple with how and when to do so. It’s all a learning process—but this is a whole bunch more enjoyable way to learn. Believe me!

But, because of this deadline—and the upcoming weekend event (WestEnd Celebration in Sand City … Open Ground Studio will be there with hands-on demonstrations) … plus another event I have next weekend—neither of which I have yet to finish preparing for, my blog post is limited to this little blurb (sniggle … just looked at the word count—I’ve managed to stretch into over 400 words already!)

So, my friends, until next week, I bid you adieu. May your week be blessed with delightful surprises to buoy you through the normal drudgery of your week.

 

 

Big News

I’VE KEPT THIS KINDA HUSH-HUSH for a very long time (been dying to tell you), but now I can finally make it public. It’s a hodge-podge of good news and sorta bad news—depending on how you look at it. However you may look at it as a reader, as a writer I am filled with relief and anticipation (well … maybe a touch of anxiety, too).

The Good News is that I’ve been trying to find a real publisher (not a vanity press publishing company) to accept my books since I’ve become so displeased with (but tolerant of) the shenanigans of Xlibris—yes, I know they are a vanity press and I cringe at paying through the nose for every single thing, but I feel they should be professional about how they handle their business (especially for the kind of money laid out).

Recently, I approached InknBeans Press, a small company in So. California and they were kind enough to bump my request to the top of their pile of books to review because of my situation (thank you so very much—I truly appreciate what has been done for me). Those of my fellow writers that have books published through InknBeans speak highly of them.

I finally heard back on Wednesday—they are interested! Enough so that they even mentioned talking about contracts. Squeee! Later that day, I sent of a positive response to their letter to address their questions and concerns—pretty much agreeing with all they had to say, except for a few minor points. Now, I’m hovering over my email account, waiting for a response.

Perhaps I’m jumping the gun—well, yeah … I am jumping the gun—but I’ve been so completely dissatisfied with Xlibris that on Thursday, I sent my letter requesting immediate withdrawal of The Scymarian from their grips. We’ll see how long it takes them to release me from their contract.

In the meantime, there is no contract with InknBeans Press (yet). Which means, my book remains in limbo. So, the bad news is, even if I get that contract signed soon, it will be a few more months before the book is published. I have to go through submitting the artwork, their corrections (if any) of the manuscript and then the reviewing and authorization of the interior and cover galleys again (I’m sure it’ll be just fine this time). But, if InknBeans Press decides those few minor points I mentioned in my letter to them are too much, I may be forced to resort to CreateSpace to publish my book. I’ve never done it before, so a huge learning curve is before me. Plus, CreateSpace has no hardback copies for those that want them. InknBean does not usually do hardbound, but are able to provide it and will do so if ask (I will ask if enough people request it).

Lots of ifs and whens, but I feel this was the right move. The good outweighs the bad. Whichever way it goes, please know that it’s because I am trying to do the best thing for my readers—to provide a quality product. I know it’s been a very long time since my last book (nearly a year), with lots of hiccups causing delays, but I ask for your patience—yet again.

Whilst I wait for the response from InknBean Press and the acknowledgement from Xlibris about my book, I will concentrate heavily on my next endeavor … book four: “Mischiefmaker”. I’ll keep you informed.

Until then, have a blessed weekend and enjoy the weeks ahead as summer busts out into its full glory.

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.

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.