Blogging, Writing, and … Creativity

OH MY. BLOGGING IS FUN, but there are times … I want to make sure it’s not all “moans and groans” or so boring that you are unable to get through without dozing off. I certainly hope neither has been the case since I got serious in my blogging.

This week has been filled with challenges to carve out any time to write. It’s already Friday and the above is all I’ve managed to write in a week (insert eye roll …). I’m finding my brain is resisting any cohesive thoughts that can be strung together for a blog—there’s just too much “stuff” filling my head. I’ve been trying … I’ve resorted to taking my binder with my edit for the first book with me wherever I go in a feeble attempt to do some writing, whether blog related or not. The funny thing is, in the places I figure I’ll have plenty of time to work (the usual long waits at doctors offices, etc), I’m finding that I just get settled and I’m interrupted. Maybe I should bring work more often (giggle) since the wait times seem shorter when I have something I’m trying to accomplish. And places I “know” I’ll never have time, but bring it with me anyway … well, it seems I’m the most productive then. Go figure.

So … my first run-through of book one in my Secrets Beyond Scymaria series is finished (finally!), but I need to go through at least one more time (I’ve already begun) before I turn it over to my editor for a “second-pass” professional edit. This book did not get a real professional edit before it was published and I apologise to those of you that read it and found the errors. Now that I’ve a new publisher, Inknbeans Press will be republishing the “new and improved” edition—hopefully by this fall and book two (which has had a professional edit) should follow closely on its heels. This means all of my books will be with one publisher. This is a very good feeling for me and makes me want to do a happy dance. Perhaps by spring of 2018 I’ll finally have book four published—it was put on hold so I could get the first two books pulled from Xlibris and republished by Inknbeans. Sigh, and to be honest, it was on hold because my brain wasn’t working right for so long that I couldn’t muster any true creativity. That is now a thing of the past and I am finally eager to dive back into books four and five. I’m definitely doing a happy dance (insert humongous grin).

And, on top of all of that, Joyce Oroz (my mystery writer friend) and I have already begun doing book signings. Friday night we spend three hours at a local Starbucks hawking our books to coffee drinkers. It was fun. In the quiet moments, she and I strategised for upcoming book signings, fine tuning what was on the current agenda and adding yet another potential event to August.

So … seeing as this blog is already two days late, I’d better get it posted. Here’s the schedule (the link will take you to my business Facebook page):  2017 Book Signing and Appearances Schedule  Have a good Sunday and a wonderfully blessed week. I’ve got a quiet week so I’m hoping for a creatively productive week of writing! Until Friday, cheers!

 

Spring … A Time of New Beginnings

AAAH. SPRING IS HERE AND, ooooh, I’m loving it! Flowers are in bloom, trees are leafing out–brand spankin’ new green growth. And there’s pollen everywhere. Yellow stuff from the pines and oaks

Pollen Abounds

My poor cars … this is my *red* truck’s tonneau, but the whole thing is covered in pollen.

cover my car, the driveway and any relatively flat surface.

My allergies … oooh, they just love this time of year (not). They act up 24/7 … 365 days of the year, but spring is a special time. Sneezing, coughing, puffy and itchy eyes dominate—even with my allergy meds. Ugh. But, because it is such a beautiful time of renewal, I ignore my symptoms as much as possible, throw aside all caution (well … mostly) and revel in the celebration of fresh, vibrant colours and new life that abounds.

Then, there’s the new “batch” of babies–birds,Curious Fawn fawns, chicks … I cannot believe how blessed I am to see all of these things–or have friends that share their precious finds. I live in such an amazing place where I can see ocean, meadows, rolling hills and mountains–all within an hours drive. I can enjoy old and new facades sharing space together–there are three or more California missions within that hours drive plus many historic Birds and Wavesbuildings on the Monterey Peninsula; lakes, rivers and streams that haven’t run much in the last five years because of our drought are now refreshed with the heavy rains and a delight to look at, walk or swim in or boat upon. Lake El Estero, which borders on Dennis the Menace Park Spring Flowers Caterpiller on Lilac(once was a very cool park … until they started—one by one—removing the coolest of the structures for safety’s sake. And the statue of Dennis was stolen!), has paddle boats that I might have to try out–haven’t been on one since my husband, young daughter and I had adventures … so long ago. This Monterey County area holds so many memories … it really is wonderful–my little paradise.

Time for the new beginnings. Just as the first of the year is the traditional time to make “promises of change” (aka: New Year resolutions), I find spring a wonderful time to begin anew in my artistic pursuits–photography (with all that entails), Paper-folding Art Calligraphy Practice Calligraphyart in its many forms—including classes and workshops at Open Ground Studios, gardening (creative ideas to make my yard fun) and writing–since my energy levels are naturally higher Writing ... Editing ...(sniggle … along with my allergies–sigh). My mind is beginning to reel with ideas which gets me excited now, if I can keep the energy high for a while, whilst I wait to I get my body back in shape. Write … right? … and edit!

May this day … this week, and this glorious month have delightful, blessed surprises for you around each corner. Cheers!

 

 

 


 

Commitments

LESS THAN THIRTY-SIX DAYS TILL TAXES are due. In addition to all that gathering of receipts (ugh … I really, really hate doing taxes), I still have an edit or three on my fourth book to complete, an edit or two on the rewrite of book one (I’ve passed the self-imposed deadlines multiple times for both), book five is begging to be worked on. Ideas keep popping into my head—I try to get them scribbled down before they vanish, but have yet to be successful at that … and I have yet to create any art (sniff …) Okay, that was one very long run-on sentence. Sorry. But, you get the drift, right?

I’m also in a holding pattern on finding out what’s going to happen with my left knee. I really did do it in when I fell (twice) in January. Sigh. I see my orthopedist at the end of March … results of an MRI arrived at my primary care doc’s office last week, and from what I read (I always get copies of the reports … handy to have a medical assistant background), it doesn’t look as bad as it initially felt. My regular doc definitely wants me to see the orthopedist. I’m hoping it’s just for PT … no surgery. At least, that’s what I read into the report, plus how I’m feeling. Hoping and praying …

Why is it, when all I want to do (now that I’ve got better vision—cataract surgery was a complete success—yay!) is to write with abandon, there always seems to be Things keeping me from it?? Doctor appointments that cut into the day, meetings, tax preparation (ugh) and my weekly commitment to help out (or even to actually creating some art, which hasn’t happened either) at Open Ground Studios … all of these vie for my attention and precious time. I write best when I have large chunks of time to let my mind go in whatever direction it wishes—remember, the characters seem to be in control. Those large “chunks” seem to be hard to find these days. The same applies to editing. And, I’m finding I need the quiet of my home for that … so I can concentrate.

I either need to “un-commit” myself a whole bunch or figure out how to work in smaller time slots. I have cut back on my commitments, but … oooh, this sounds way too familiar—it’s a repeating problem I seem to have. Balancing things that need to be done with things I’d like to do … and the things others would like me to do. None of it is going to be easy to work out—never is, is it?

I’ve found myself taking art classes that I cannot complete because of stupid injuries, doctor appointments and other time constraints that happen after I’ve made the commitment to take the classes or … well, you’ve got the picture. It is frustrating to not be able to engage in any artistic outlet, whether it is writing or creating art (hopefully that will change this weekend with a one-day monotype workshop). Sure, I am able to compose a blog weekly (most weeks), but those usually are random happenings. No serious “construction” involved—just ramblings for the most part. Fun to write (in most cases) and for you to read, but even those blogs takes me away from creating serious stuff.

So … I need to re-group, figure some things out and take a serious look at my calendar. And add (cringe) a serious exercise regimen to my schedule to help my knee heal. And start planning some book signings for this spring and summer—right?

Sniggle … even as I write this, I find that I’ve signed myself up for two art classes (hmm … how’d that happen? Insert monster grin)—one on Saturday (just a one-day workshop) and the other begins on 21March—for four or five weeks, I think. It’s hard to resist the great workshops and seminars that OGS offers! I’ve decided those two will be fine, as I’m progressing nicely on my sorting of tax receipts and I’ve actually managed to do a little editing. I’ve even made copies of my two WIPs that need editing—I do so much better with hard-copies … old-school girl, yup. But … I’ve also added another thing to my agenda (I’m not ready to divulge it as yet—I’ll probably do a whole blog about it). And it is eating into my time also, but so far I’m keeping it manageable—for the time being.

So … this isn’t the short blog I thought it would be (oopsie …), but I’m ending the week with a smile on my face, so hopefully you won’t mind. May you have a wonderfully blessed weekend and week to come.

Traveling Light-Part Two

TRAVELING CAN BE FUN … EVEN exciting. But, there are certain things that can freak me out.

American Airlines has been great so far. Courteous staff at every point. Once on the plane, technical difficulties with the safety video required a flight attendant to do a “manual” run through—done cheerfully, in a very animated fashion with occasional “I’m watching you” hand signals to someone behind me, which made me giggle—and then he asked if there were questions. Very upbeat … but the electrical issues were reminiscent of one flight I don’t really want to repeat, leaving me a wee bit on edge. One of these days, I’ll tell that story, but not now. Apparently only about four of the monitors worked in sync on my flight, with the whole right

Monitors on the Blink

Note the monitors … not in sync

bank freezing and the rest alternating between being blank or frozen. Glad it wasn’t an international flight … and I do pity those who are digital or entertainment dependent. Yes, I had my iPhone (I used it to work on my blog), but I also had an old-school notebook. I could just as easily use that (if needed). As it turned out … I did get hooked on a tv show special with four celebs (William Shatner, Henry Winkler, George Foreman and Terry Bradshaw—strange combo, eh?) and their “handler” as they toured a few Asian countries. It was actually rather hilarious. Once it was over I pulled off my headphones and turned to other things.

The upbeat and delightfully cheery attendants took my mind off that flight from long ago and I forgot all about my past experience. I was actually able to get some thoughts on paper (a quiet little yay-yay … hip-hip-hurray from this corner—turns out it was over 2300 words!). Between written

Dry with Snow Caps

Tiniest bit of snow on the otherwise brown mountain-scape

thoughts, I watched the change of scenery—it is amazing to see the drastic transformation of the

Dry, Dry ...

Dry & brown …

landscape as one crosses from the west coast to Tennessee (with a stop in Dallas/Ft. Worth). Dry and brown (mostly) into mountainous, to green valleys, with plenty of cloud formations … and the closer we approached my destination,

Green Patches

LOL … I see a Pacman amongst these circles …

water in the form of lakes, streams and ponds abound. Ooh, do I ever covet that water … California is so Beautiful Mountainsdry—tinder dry and there is so much of it that has burned … or is burning even as I write this. Still.  I pray for rain, every day. Weather fronts have taunted California Clouds ... image imagewith the possibilities, only to peter out to nothing …

But—oh, boy— I digress. Back to traveling.

Trying to remember all the necessities —and the few comforts—necessary to make the trip is important. Things (at least for me) like a cervical neck pillow are pretty handy, especially since this was my first long trip after my neck surgery—and I forgot mine (pout). A list is an excellent idea (especially for me … which I did not do—note to self: make a list … check it twice …), listing essentials like medications, a full list of the electronic devices AND their chargers you want to take, itineraries, airline approved snacks (sealed, prepackaged usually works) …

Everybody’s list will be different. For me, I need to remember my camera and computer … plus all the accessories that entails. It’s no fun getting to your destination and realising you’ve left an important item back home. Some items can, of course, be purchased at your destination … if you don’t mind wasting time making the purchase and the redundancies once you get back home—or the added cost. Others may be unobtainable (especially medications if you are flying out of state or out of country) unless you visit a doctor at your destination, or too expensive, so make that list … and check it twice—if you’re a list maker, that is. I certainly find it useful—when I remember to make one …

A great flight (actually both ways) and great flight attendants made this flying journey doable, even though there was turbulence and electronic glitches for them to solve and quite a few things I forgot. Next time, I’ll talk about my adventures in Tennessee. T’was a wonderful time.

Tomorrow I’ll be camped out at Compass Church in Salinas selling my books and art. Until next week, I wish blessings of the day—and week—on you. Have a serendipitous day and week.

8 October 2016 • 9 am – 4 pm
Harvest Jubilee at Compass Church
Books, Art, Crafts, Food and Fun
1044 S. Main St • Salinas CA

 

 

 

Think Outside The Box?

I LISTENED TO A YOUNG MAN, PHIL HANSEN, SPEAK IN a TEDTalk on Wednesday–a post shared by a local writer friend on Facebook, which I in turned shared to my Creations page … and his words—and art—inspired me. God is good that way … and I thank Him all the time for the gems he places in my hands, helping me work out solutions to my current “problems”.

I’ve been bombarded with serious, not-gonna-budge deadlines—something I’m not accustomed to at all (a novel concept for this author) … I’ve always made sure I had “wiggle-room” for any self-imposed deadlines—and though I’ve met them all, they left me drained. I am so happy to have them all done. Happy to be one step closer to having The Scymarian in print—it’s so close it’s palpable (insert huge grin) … but drained of creativity, nonetheless.

After I transcribed scribbled notes for book 4-5 from this weekend, I chose to “chill” by cruising Facebook (not terribly productive, usually … just a way to unwind). Laughing at some posts … nodding or shaking my head in approval or disapproval at some of comments. Then I came upon this post. TEDTalks have some amazing speakers, so I knew I’d be listening to something interesting, but for this one … I perked up. Listened intently. I’ve actually played the ten-minute talk several times so it could sink in better. Take root. Some profound insights by this young man. Experience is a wonderful teacher. It was time well-spent.

In the talk, he discusses his disability and—as an artist—his initial reaction to it, then how he embracing his disability, thinking outside the box … and more importantly, finally finds himself drawing back into his limitations. Discovering that having “the biggest, the best” does not make you any better … or even more creative. He found that limitations, either external or internal, can actually allow for greater creativity. I can see how being limited allows the ability for limitless creativity. And it applies to art, writing … even everyday life. I’m hoping to put these concepts into action as I go through my daily life. But the one example he showed that I would really like to try is his story-on-a-turnstile—I’m intrigued … I want to see what it creates with one of my short stories. I’m sure there’s more to it than what I was seeing … I’ll not give away what his creative process is (I don’t even know the half of it, I’m sure)—you’ll need to watch the talk. It will be interesting to see what it produces.

Embrace the Shake. Seize the Limitation. Learning to be creative within the confines of my world. That is definitely the key … and I want to unlock my creative world. But, I know it will be useful in solving everyday problems as well.

Short but sweet this week, but inspiring. It was for me. Hopefully it will be for you. Please feel free to share with your friends!

Here’s Phil Hansen’s TEDTalk link. Enjoy.

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.

Distractions …

I SHOULD BE WORKING ON THE FINISHING touches of my next book, but I’ve just discovered a new camera app that has be quite distracted. Camera + is the name and it’s for the iPhone 5 on up. I’ve only just begun playing and am thrilled with it.

Becoming distracted is very easy for me … and gets me into trouble all the time. At least I stay focused whilst in the car, driving down the road … well, my daughter may feel that’s a bit overstated as a fact. That’s only because we get to talking (some wonderfully deep conversations at times)—so 99.9% of the time, I’m on the road in the car all by myself and perfectly safe to be around.

Back to the camera and photography. Or, was it distractions …

Yeah, about that. I’m feeling terribly goofy right now, so maybe I should go get distracted by something else for a bit. Gee … and I haven’t even had any wine

Port Wine and a Distraction

Mulling over quotes for next year’s Dr. Who con ribbons.

(wink)—oooh! There’s a good distraction. I’ll be back—later. There’s some port with my name on it …

Now that I’m a bit more sensible (it’s only Monday), I still find myself being distracted. Deliberately. There’s book four pulling at my thoughts, this blog … and a myriad of chores around the house and yard harping at me, begging to be worked on. So, I chose to flit between several of them to keep me “fresh”. Especially the writing items. I can easily shove off the house and yard work (except, the laundry really does need to get done if I want clothes for tomorrow—giggle). I’m finding it easy to bounce from one writing task to another, keeping me engaged. When my mind struggles for an idea, then I step outside with my iPhone—with it’s newly acquired app and search for a worthy subject. Sometimes

Nasturtium in the Yard

A delightful twist of colour from the normal red-orange. And the new macro app on my iPhone makes up close a delight.

Freshly Emerging Mushroon

I’m loving the macro capabilities of the iPhone app, allowing me to easily capture the gills of the mushroom.

I’m successful, sometimes not. But the process sharpens my mind and I’m ready to write again.

My cat is another distraction. Sebastian can be quite entertaining. He is equal to—or better than any TV show, that’s for sure! Demanding at times, too. When he wants your attention, he will get it, one way or another. I’ve had my back to him when he’s wanted attention. He decided to be my “cat shawl” … jumping on to my shoulders and lounging around as I went around doing what needed to be done—or like this morning: I was trying to “sleep in” (after having let Kaeli out, dishing out her morning meal) when he started making all kinds of racket. Playing with the blinds, tearing from

Sebastian ... Up Close

Though he’s not amused by my attempts to catch him taking a cat-nap on my chest, I love that I’m able to do so with the new macro app.

one high spot to another—quite noisily (he can be the stealthy ninja type when he wants), and kneading something that sounded expensive—which was what finally got me out of bed … very quickly. Turned out to be the lovely ancient handed-down-to-me wool blanket. Glad I caught him. He obviously wanted something. I decided to check on his food dish. Yup. Empty.

So much for lazing about after that. I did manage to muck about most of the morning, not getting much done, other than surf through Facebook posts of friends, reposting the appropriate ones, commenting on others … Facebook in an excellent (if you can label it as such), time-sucking sponge. Facebook does have it’s good points, but I’m presently at a loss to list anything beyond keeping in touch with friends and associates.

Are distractions a nice way to say procrastination? Maybe. Well … most likely. And, of course, I am quite good at procrastination, aren’t I (insert grin)? Is that something I should be proud of? Hmmm. Ooops—probably not … or at least shouldn’t be.

Well, procrastination or distraction, I do it not (grin)—at least not presently (it’s still only Monday). I finished the final edit on book three and will give myself a days rest (Tuesday’s a busy day, anyway), then start with the gathering of promotional blurb/bio, etc on Wednesday to submit to my publisher. Then I’ll come back to this, add more thoughts, then polish it up and add a few photos and have it ready for Friday. I love my life … as crazy as it is.

Wednesday found me almost as busy as Tuesday. I was definitely busy gathering

My Ducks in a Row

Compiling all of the things needed before I submit to my publisher … time consuming!

and honing the blurbs to be submitted, searching for other items in vain, so I did not get everything completed as planned. Distractions abound—and I grabbed every opportunity to indulge, simply so I could take breaks from the frustration. More photography, a few errands and more snapping photos—and with one of those errands, I garnered yet another temptation to dangle in front of me to

Sherlock Holmes Stories

A trio of non-Conan Doyle stories of the famous Sherlock Holmes, by Hugh Ashton. I’m looking forward to delving into these new mysteries. But, it must wait. Perhaps as a reward, after I send off all my materials to my publisher…

distract me from work: a newly purchased book.

It will have to wait in the queue with my others since I am determined to get all required bits and pieces off to the publisher as quickly as possible. My readers are waiting after all. When I come down “to the wire”—sometimes, it takes that extra “push”—all distractions and procrastinations are put aside so that I can finish my tasks on time. Most of the time I am successful (every once in a while, I’m not). I try to stay focused on the successes and move forward.

Through the ups and downs, mires of procrastination and distractions, I persevere—and succeed. With these last few lines, the blog is done; later today (or Saturday at the latest) I should have all the information together for the publisher … and tonight I will enjoy celebrating a two year birthday for Open Ground Studios. There will be an artist opening, music, food and socializing. A grand time to celebrate.

May your Friday—and weekend—unfold into a blessed time with family and friends.

 

 

All In Good Time … Patience

WAITING. PATIENCE. QUEUES. How are you at waiting? I think, once upon a time, I had an over abundance of patience—kinda necessary when raising a child (or working with children), both of which I’ve done. Friends would say I had “the patience of Job”—took me awhile to realize what they were saying. What a complement. But … I think, when my daughter reached fifth grade and I was a co-coach (for the fourth consecutive year) to seven kids on an Odyssey of the Mind team … with all their new-found hormone-spewing emotions, something happened to that unending supply … it kinda got up and went. Escaped, really. Fled, screaming and yelling into the night. I loved each and every one of them—we’d become a close knit family—but I swore never to coach again. Never.

After that, well … I had a “normal” level of patience (what is “normal” anyway??). It would ebb and flow depending on the situation. As I grew older and wiser (insert sniggering grin), patience was easier to muster. It was almost like the “old” me had regained some of that youthful reserve. There are still times where I find myself pushing when I could be chillin’, but not as bad … definitely.

Waiting in lines? I actually have found it fun. I use the time to people watch. Watch their impatience or passivity—how they handle waiting. I decided to look up some quotes about patience and this one by Joyce Meyer fits in here perfectly: “Patience is not simply the ability to wait—it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” Perhaps they need to be somewhere five minutes ago (oh, I do remember that)—getting agitated, trying to make things go faster, complaining, maybe even making nasty comments. Sometimes it can be quite comical (not their intention, but that’s how I see it that way) and I need to squelch a giggle or smile.

Watching people, like I said … but also interacting with them. I’ve found striking up conversations while in line helps pass the time, too. Once, while “suffering” through the summer heat and l-o-n-g lines at Disneyland, I pulled out a bag of freshly washed string beans and we three (father, very young daughter and yours truly) started munching. Cool, sweet and perfectly healthy. People in line would stare and then comment on how smart it was to bring such an easy and nutritious snack (and wishing they’d thought of it). Then the conversations began. Time flew. Stress flew out the window. Perfect.

Other times, as I stood in the grocery store lines, with my daughter in tow, I’d strike up conversations with people. My daughter used to look horrified as I talked with complete strangers (after all, hadn’t I taught her not to talk with strangers?)—only to find out the horror was not caused by that, but the fact that is was so easy for me to chat with a complete stranger. She finally asked: “How did you do it?” Hmmm. I honestly couldn’t tell her—at least not at the time. I know now. Having faith and simply allowing it to happen. Make the first move, say hi or simply make a positive comment about something happening while we are waiting or compliment/comment about something they are wearing or purchasing (“oh … my, that cake looks yummy!”). It’s easy. Doesn’t require any thought, really. Then let nature take its course. It may stop right there, or in may evolve into a complex discussion about something totally unrelated. I love it (insert grin).

As a writer, photographer and artist, I have found that patience is, indeed, a virtue. I’m not as too good at being patient whilst waiting for the “right” shot—many times I give up just before the optimal opportunity arises—and kick myself in the rear for not waiting just a wee bit longer, missing an extraordinary shot or two. I have garnered an abundance as a writer, but it has been a long, painful haul. One does not rush writing or art—and obviously, taking pictures if you want to catch the “perfect” shot. But, especially with writing and art, when it happens, it happens. It is so obvious—at least to me—when things get rushed. This is why, even though I’m way past my self-imposed deadline for my book, I am not rushing. I want to get it right. I want it to be the best it can be.

Patience?

Definitely a virtue and one to hold close as we navigate through this life.

I’ll leave you with some little gems I gleaned from my search on patience. Have a blessed day, filled with love and patience for your fellow man and in all the things you run up against, both big and small.

  • Patience is a virtue: “Only Patience has the strength needed by all the others (virtues), from Psychomachia (Battle of spirits) by the Late Antique Latin poet Prudentius, during the early fifth century A.D.
  • “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
    A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
  • “A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.”
    Henri J.M. Nouwen
  • “The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”
    Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
  • You can learn many things from children.  How much patience you have, for instance.  ~Franklin P. Jones
  • Genius is nothing but a great aptitude for patience.  ~George-Louis de Buffon
  • Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.  ~John Quincy Adams
  • Have patience, my friend, have patience;
    For Rome wasn’t built in a day!
    You wear yourself out for nothing
    In many and many a way!
    Why are you nervous and fretty
    When things do not move along fast;
    Why let yourself get excited
    Over things that will soon be past?
    ~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, “Patience” (1940s)
  • Patience is the companion of wisdom.  ~St. Augustine
  • Patience is also a form of action. ~Auguste Rodin
  • One moment of patience may ward off great disaster.  One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.  ~Chinese Proverb

Drawing A Blank…

WELL, THIS IS UNUSUAL. MY BRAIN SEEMS to be blank—at least where my blog is concerned. Well, I do have fleeting ideas, but none manage to take root. Often, when I’m driving around town, an idea comes to me and churns ’round in my mind till it forms into a line of thought. But this week, nothing. Nada.

This is when I consider going through my photos to come up with a pictoral blog. Usually, about half way through rooting around all the pictures, I come up with a nice blog—one of prose. It’s only Tuesday. We’ll see what happens…

And now…it’s Thursday and I’m still drawing a blank. My edit has my mind fully engaged in the story. Working on making it better—with the help of my awesome editor, David Antrobus—with each pass. Surprisingly, I’m having fun going through the edit and re-reading what I’ve written (this does not mean it’s not hard to make the changes needed—unfortunately, it seems that will always be a challenge). I will never get tired of this story I’ve created and the characters (especially the two protagonists) that have evolved. They each have such a distinct persona. I love it. I find myself giggling and/or shaking my head at their antics, actions and thoughts. And, thankfully, they are still developing. Growing. My children (insert huge grin here).

I’ve read somewhere that the characters in a writer’s story are usually bits of that writer’s own persona. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I have drawn characteristics from people around me—and, yes…I guess some from me, too—to make them real, to give them depth. I certainly hope I have succeeded.

Working concurrently on both book three’s edit and the creation of book four has helped keep the continuity of their character…but at the same time it has slowed my progress on each one—trememdously. In addition, writing/editing has made it difficult to concentrate and create this weekly blog. I certainly don’t want to discontinue the blog…but it may get a bit spotty now and then as I struggle to juggle so many different things. For this, I am apologizing in advance. Though I hate to just fill the space with “fluff”—I’ll endeavor to avoid this—at the very least, I’ll try to post a few photos of what life has thrown my way during the week. You may (insert wink) get tired of my dog and cat…and Point Lobos…

I’ll keep you posted on my writing/editing progress, for sure. But, I do have a visit to Gallifrey One Convention in LA at the beginning of next month, so at least one blog will be about my adventures there. For those unfamiliar, I am a Doctor Who fan. It’s a on-going science fiction tv series from the 60s…still going strong. Gallifrey is the Doctor’s home planet, hence the name of the convention event. I stumbled upon it in mid-70s when Tom Baker portrayed the Doctor. I haven’t been to a convention is a zillion years, so this event aught to be interesting…. I’ll probably be one of the oldest attendees (giggle). Like I said…interesting.

Trying to sneak in a book signing whilst I am in LA was on my agenda, but it looks like that’s not going to happen. Perhaps in March—I’ll be back down in Southern California then for a family reunion…I just have to see if I can round up critter sitters for the extended time I’m gone.

So, this has been a mish-mash of thoughts, ideas and an apology. I’ll try to keep my future blogs a wee bit more focused. In the meantime, I hope this next week is filled with amazing discoveries, good books to take you far afield and blessed with friends and family to share your life’s adventures.

 

 

Timing…

I HATE IT WHEN I STOP WRITING mid-sentence/mid-thought…I guess, at the time, I thought I’d easily be able to pick up where I left off. I began a blog entry a month ago, laid it aside in the ‘draft’ pile and figured I’d use it at an appropriate time, but without changing tenses, timing…well, it was very time sensitive. And now, one month later, after scanning through my previous blogs, I realized I actually did finish it and posted it. It seems WordPress has been having issues saving thing…and letting go of old (published) drafts, too. I was relieved that I hadn’t made a huge mistake. But, it made me think—I had done nothing more on this entry (or so I thought), I’ve done very little on my edit for book three—my editor has probably forgotten all about me since I haven’t communicated with him, I haven’t been communicating with my publisher and I have done nothing on book four (other than think about it), which is my NaNoWriMo project this year.

I’ve been hibernating…It’s not that I’m “burnt out” from all of this, it’s just that I’m dealing with some health issues—with my dog and my own health. I think I’ve mentioned some of it in a previous blogs. I’m not looking for sympathy (just statin’ the facts, ma’am….) So, now that Kaeli is better (finally!) I’m trying to recuperate from my own issues. Trying to get some energy back so I can plow ahead with all that needs doing.

The lack of editing on The Scymarian has been a huge negative. Not only does that mean the completion and publishing of book three has been pushed back to the beginning the new year, which has me feeling like I’ve disappointed my readers—big time (I am so sorry), but I seem to be in a time warp with the Holiday season nearly upon me.

There is so much to do and so little time to accomplish it. In a little over a week, Thanksgiving Day will be here with my merry little family over for the day. I do have a turkey and menu planned (whew!), but my house looks like a tornado blew through it—no counter space for cooking, no room for guests to sit…oh, my! In less than a week (aah…by the time this is posted, it will be imminent), I have a two-day book signing, which will take two precious days away from cleaning up my disaster. Then, a month later, Christmas—with all the decorating and preparations. Yikes. Don’t get me wrong…I absolutely adore both holidays. They are very special, close to my heart…but I want to enter into each with my head and heart in the right place.

And, life seems to be getting in the way of writing, which makes me sad too. I love writing. Beyond my weekly blogs, I’m not doing much. Let’s just say this year is one fraught with frustrations. I know, with God’s help, I’ll get through it all. But, I’m going to have to make decisions–which is more important. Prioritize. You, my dear readers, may not be happy with me, but family trumps my books and writing, so there will be delays in the release of book three and perhaps a few missed blogs. I’ll be less stressed and the final products will be much better. Please be patient. It’ll be worth the wait.

There will be no blog entry the day after Thanksgiving—unless I’m unusually productive, so I will wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving Day now. Take time to be present with your family and friends. May you find many things to be thankful for on this special day.

Have a blessed week.

Writing, Memories and More…

I AM UP TO MY EYEBALLS IN EDITING, have a book signing in a week with a list of all the things that need to be done breathing down my neck, today is the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake which devastated Santa Cruz, San Francisco and our own local areas…and I just finished a three-plus mile walk after a three week hiatus. Quite a hodge-podge of things in my life (the story of my life—teehee)–always and forever.

But for now, this is plenty. So much to do. I needed a break.

I needed a break from my editing, from my planning…from the craziness I manage to create, so I decided on a walk. A mini-escape. It’s an excellent way to refresh the mind—clean out the cobwebs, so to speak. If I haven’t mentioned it before, Point Lobos State Park is my favorite place to meander. All those trees—and the lovely coastline. To die for. I may have overdone it slightly, since I am ready for a nap now that it’s done. So much for feeling refreshed. (grin)

I dusted off my good camera and found a few things worthy of capturing. I alternated between the iPhone and my good camera as I walked through the woods.

As I walked, I thought about the earthquake that struck our area twenty-five years ago and wondered when the next one would hit. Not if, but when. The science of predicting earthquakes is pretty lame, so after the earthquake, they announced another would come within the next thirty years. The reporters today are saying that scientists are saying another of similar devastation (6.9 or greater) in the next thirty years. What? Thirty years from now?? I thought we had five more years on the first warning. Can you tell I don’t hold much trust in their predictions. I wondered, while I walked what I’d do if one happened while I was on my walk. I decided I’d deal with it when it happened. No need to worry about it till then, so I turned my attention back to my walk.

The sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds, fading in and out, but was never strong. There was a high cloud ‘film’ apparently defusing the brightness. I was looking for rays of light streaming into the forest through the canopy of green to photograph. It did not oblige me. But, the lichen was lovely. Gently waving in the breeze, it was beautiful when the sunlight hit the lacy green sheets of lichen.

Once I get the photos off the cameras, I’ll add them to this post (that’s the plan, anyway…)—when I’m feeling more alert.

Ideas for my book signing at Open Ground Studios (on Saturday, 25th of October) bounced around in my mind as I walked—hope I can remember them later, and my characters sat on my shoulders, whispering in my ears, telling me what they want me to do in book four—I’m excited to see where that book is headed. Then, my ongoing edit tapped me on my shoulder, reminding me that I’ve had enough of a walkabout and it was time to hunker down in front of the computer and get back to business. Such a party crasher. I shrugged off the reminder.

Like I said, I walked a little too far (over three miles) for my first time after three weeks ‘off’, so my edit will have to wait till tomorrow. Tonight, I rest and recover from my wonderful day on the Peninsula. Tomorrow, I’m back to plugging away at the corrections so I can have book three published before the end of the year.

Until next time, folks. Have a blessed week—enjoy the changing weather. Check back later (over the weekend) and I’ll have a few photos of Point Lobos posted in this blog.

 

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.

 

 

Do I Or Don’t I? Sigh…

I’M TRYING TO MAKE A DECISION. I’ve been contemplating this for quite some time, too.
To go, or not to go…that is the question.

I’ve been reading blogs about the benefits of attending writers conferences. Kristen Lamb recently wrote about the pros of attending conferences in her blog. She’s good. Great at selling ideas. http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/why-all-writers-should-attend-a-writing-conference/

But I haven’t been able to figure out how to manage everything I’m already doing now and squeeze a conference in too…plus, there’s the impact on the pocket book. My trip to Europe will pummel my account for quite some time…

My trip has been in the planning stages almost as long as my pondering of the conferences. I’m not sure if I should be kicking myself in the behind or just chuckle at where I place my priorities. Some may feel the trip is a luxury. A non-necessity. Perhaps, at least the distances I am going to find relaxation. The trip will be my break from the frantic work I’ve done on two books–though, I know I will make it a working holiday and I’ll begin working on book three–and it will refresh my creativity. Yes, I could go somewhere closer…and it would be a lot less expensive, but I want to do my travels abroad while I’m still able.  I’ll be taking a ton of pictures so I’ll have a plethora of choices for my Painterly side to play with and my travels will give me plenty to write about on my blog when I return. The conference, on the other hand, will be work. Networking, learning, and sharing ideas (in a ‘work’ sort of way). Don’t think I’m ready for more work. Not yet, at least.

I need some serious ‘playtime’.

Well, I think I’ve answered my question about the writers conference–at least for now. Once I have three books under my belt–or book four, maybe I’ll be able to connect better then–early next year…I’ll just have to see how things go and play it by ear. Until then, I guess I should get back to my travel plans.

Cheers!

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.

 

A Conundrum

BEFORE I BEGIN THIS POST, I MUST announce: this is post #100 (doing a dance)! I began this whole endeavor in 2010 as an experiment, not really knowing what I was going to write about. It quickly (well, it took a year) turned into a tongue-in-cheek, informative travel blog, then I expanded from there. It’s been many things, chronically my thoughts and activities for the past three and a half years. It seems so long ago! To refresh my memory, I’ve been reading through a few of them and it has been entertaining to see where I was and how far I’ve come. Though I’ve not been consistent (my apologies), my posts have improved. So will my consistency–I hope!

I thank you, my readers–whoever and wherever you are, for bothering to take the time to read my entries. I hope you’ve found them entertaining and/or informative. Now, on with post number one hundred:

PASSIONS ARE WONDERFUL THINGS really. They keep you driven, moving forward. Challenged. I like that. But, when you acquire too many passions, well…problems arise.

They begin butting heads with each other, competing for my valuable time. Well, maybe not valuable, but precious–yes, since there are only so many usable hours in a day. And I find myself, with all this bouncing between passions, starting to lose momentum. Becoming disengaged from each.

This, I do not like.

Trying to find a balance between all of the loves in my life seems to be getting more difficult. My garden is in shambles. My photography is a mere shadow of itself, my art beckons and my writing, well…it’s demanding. And I did very little travel–none abroad–last year. That is added to the mix this year.

I’m excited, yet terrified.

How does one successfully juggle all of this without everything coming crashing down on one’s proverbial head? The conundrum: my travels will involve three loves: travel, photography and blogging (it’s been awhile since I’ve done a fun blog about travel). I will try to sneak in some promotional stuff too, visiting schools and libraries to make people aware of my book–both the one presently in print and the one that will (hopefully) be published this spring, before I head off on my sojourn.

Finding time to write (other than the blog) will get interesting. By the time I begin my travels, I will be eyebrow deep in editing my third book (if all goes well, it will come out in the fall) and still needing to finish my fourth. Oh, my! Will there be time (and enough focus) at the end of each day to work on the backstory and editing for book three? My editor will be waiting for it…patiently, I hope.

And my heart aches when I think about leaving my fur-babies alone for so long. No snuggling up with them, being purred to sleep, no amusing times watching the antics of my bunny, no wagging tail to greet me when I come back to rest my head for the night after a hard day of walking.

Yes, there will be plenty of that. Walking–that’s a good thing…and bad. When I’m on my own, I’ll be able to alter my schedule to accommodate my feeble knee…when I’m on the tour tromping around upper Wales, well, not so much. I’ll either have to opt out of the days activities or simply press on and make sure I have my Aleve, my clunky brace and some ice for the end of the day.

And thinking about my art…and my garden. Hopefully neither will languish too much in my absence. Art? Well, I can doodle on the road now and then, but my garden…that will be left in the hands of my neighbors and to the whims of Mother Nature. She may be very cruel this season (they’ve officially proclaimed that we are in a drought). I can tidy the garden up (it is a complete disaster right now from my neglect whilst editing all last summer and fall) in preparation for my departure, get the irrigation system in top condition and protecting the plants as best as possible. But, ultimately…I know I will have work to do when I get back–I cannot expect neighbors to put the TLC into it that I would. Hmm…perhaps I should leave it as is (groan–that hurts to contemplate!). No, I must tidy it up.

I do have faith that if it is to be, it will happen. Everything will fall into place. I know that I can’t just sit back, expecting it all to ‘just happen’–to go smoothly without some planning and work on my part…which adds to my juggling act.

Quite a conundrum, don’t you think? It’s never-ending.

Just like my books.

May your days be blessed. May they be problem free–or at least free of problems without solutions visible at the end of the tunnel…

 

Good Bye, Old Friend…

Yes, a new year is just around the corner and I greet it with open arms, eagerly willing to accept anything is has to throw at me. It will be an adventure, as always.

I will not miss the crazy hours I kept for most of 2013. I do know there will be more of that, but thankfully, less–at least, I’m hoping so. Protracted stretches of time into the wee hours of the morning, when my creativity decided to dance in my head, begging to be released will always be there, but the need to respond will not be as strong. That’s the plan, at least.

I look forward to more time behind the camera and in my studio, creating art. Though 2013 was a year of discovery for my artistic side, very little came of it. Mostly, old works, newly framed and hung, languished on the wall. I was delighted that a few pieces did sell. In 2014, I want to give wings to my Painterly side, allowing it to soar.

Hunkered in the confines of my house, writing and editing for most of 2013, left little room for travel. Oh, yes…I did manage to get away by train to Seattle for a few days to celebrate the retirement of a friend, then to Vegas to witness the union of my geeky (said lovingly) nephew to a lovely young lady. I sneaked off to take photos in the desert for short periods during my stay, which filled my heart with joy. Plus some local photo shoots resulted in some decent work. This new year will find my calendar filled with dates of travel–for the sheer joy of travel. And with photography. My heart will be bounding with joy.

Writing will always be important. I still have two books–my second and third in the series, to edit and publish, a fourth manuscript to finish so I can begin the first edit and there’s always this blog that will keep me busy.

I will be busy in 2014. I’ll be doing what I love–writing, traveling, photographing, creating art and keeping you apprised of the amazing, funny and surprising things that happen in my travels, and with my Writerly and Painterly sides.

I can hardly wait.

Until then, my faithful followers, I wish you a Happy New Year’s Eve and an amazing New Year.

May it unfold in surprising and wonderful ways. Have a joyful and blessed New Year!

A Christmas Story

 THE FOLLOWING IS A CHRISTMAS STORY I wrote in 2010 for a 101 Word Short Story project (yup, just 101 words long). For my Christmas card that year, I shaped it into a Christmas tree with a star atop. Obviously, this blog site makes adding a star difficult, so just use your imagination and see a star atop the Christmas tree.

My gift to you:

Long

strides crunch

in the morning

snow, meandering.  Searching.

Chopping wood in the stillness

of the morning, chips fly in all directions.

    Deep footsteps trudge with the prize as the

      tree gently sweeps his steps, heading homeward.

The fire snaps and pops quietly, enveloping the room in warmth.

The piney scent of the freshly cut tree seeps into every corner as it is jostled

into place.

Ornaments, lights

give the room a

warm and festive

look.  Triumph.

And now, ready for yet another Christmas.

   But in truth, perhaps a little sadness at the loss of another beautiful tree from the woods.

101 Word Story by djamesonsmith ©12/2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May it be blessed abundantly.

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.

Done…

…WELL, ALMOST DONE.  I have edited my story, attempting to create two books out of the 66,000+ word manuscript.  It is in now the process of a professional edit at the publishers — after I bravely handed it over to my four Beta Readers to see if I’d chosen well.  My Beta Readers agreed — definitely more than one book…one specifically saying three books, and he wants to see more!  While it was in the hands of my Beta Readers, I actually came to the same conclusion.  Like minds…

I have read, re-read and still, I find this story fun, engaging, with surprises around many corners and I want more!  And more is piled up in my brain, ready to spill out onto the keyboard when I am ready to sit back down and get serious again.  But, right now, I am anxiously awaiting the return of my manuscript, which I am sure will be rife with corrections…corrections that will need rectifying very quickly if I wish to keep my October, 2013 release time frame.

In the meantime, I have been on holiday, enjoying myself…not thinking (well, not too much at least) about writing.  I have my cover art well in hand…in good hands of a wonderful artist, Michele Littlejohn-Luccketta of The Potters Hand.  Tomorrow, she will reveal her handiwork to me and I am excited to see it!  She will also take my picture for the author’s photo on the cover.  I want to keep my book and all that goes in to it as local as possible…except the publishing part.

I have yet to create much of anything artistically at the Open Ground Studios, except for the mini-workshops that are open to the public.  I’ve made origami creations, Japanese sumi-wash painting, had fun at a social night or two, gone to several exhibition openings for fellow artists and this weekend, I will participate in a workshop led by Frank Trueba, to learn how to make/create Japanese wood-cut prints and enjoy his exhibition opening.  Just so you know, most — if not all of this — is available to the public, so if you are interested, come check it out (click on the link above to find out more).

My holiday seems to be drawing to a close, as my brain is beginning to fill to overflowing with ideas for the new books in this series.  This makes me happy — yet I am clinging to this lovely feeling of holiday-time…the leisureliness of it, not wanting to get back to the grind of frantically putting to paper all the thoughts piling up in my head. But if I don’t begin to ‘release’ some of these thoughts, I feel my head may explode…

To make matters worse, my brain has the notion of taking all of my personalized stories and those stories told in the classroom over the years and weaving them into an anthology…well, perhaps an anthology series, since there are quite a few stories to be had.

But, for now, whilst keeping myself busy having fun — cramming in as much leisure time as possible — I anxiously await 7August13.  That is the promised date on which I will receive (perhaps before) my edited manuscript for correcting. It seems so far off — yet so very near!  Exciting.

The countdown has begun.

 

And Now, My Final Edit…

THE BETA READER CRITIQUES ARE trickling in, allowing me time to review each a little before the next arrives.  Soon, I will have all of their comments and corrections digested, notated and will begin my last edit before presenting my manuscript for the publisher’s editor to carve up.

Yes.  That is how I envision it.  In my mind’s eye, I see red pen in hand, ruthlessly slashing sentences, mumbling under his (or her) breath and shaking the head in disgust…my beta readers are been fairly kind, gently pointing out flaws and obvious errors, making kind suggestions — and some glowing comments — that bolster my confidence.  The professional editor, I am sure, will not be so generous.

But, I keep telling myself, this will make it a better book for you, the reader.  I still feel, after it is all said and done, this is a good story.  One that will catch the readers imagination and will create a desire for more.  And more is coming.

The ideas keep flowing in my mind like an unstoppable flood.  I have affectionately dubbed it my ‘never-ending story’.  I have at least four more plots to work out…and more are forming in the back of my mind as time passes.

I am looking forward to getting the initial editing done, getting it out of my hands and into the hands of the publisher.  Then, my focus can be turned to all the little stuff — cover page, tag lines for advertising…and maybe a little time to myself.  Perhaps a trip down the coast, with my camera to refresh my mind…in preparation for the return of the manuscript — so I’ll be ready to once again hunker down to the long — final — editing session.

I’m still hoping for a Fall publishing date.  As I get closer, I will be able to give an actual date.  Until then, dear readers, please be patient.

May your days be filled with the anticipation and joy of life.