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Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

THE INDIE AUTHORS DAY ON 7 OCTOBER 2017 was a great Indie Authors Day Program experience for me. When I signed up for it, I thought I was just going to be sitting in the audience taking in all the wisdom of others … I didn’t really realise I had signed up to be a panelist—to pass my wisdom (insert seriously huge eye roll) on to others.

If you’ve been following my blog posts, you know that once I’ve committed to something, I will not back out unless I’m seriously ill or on my deathbed. A commitment is a commitment. That’s all there is to it. So, this deer-in-the-headlights panicked for a few minutes, then remembered something I’d told myself so many years ago—”I can do anything I put my mind to …” (later, I’d added “… with God’s help”). I’d always told people that I loved a challenge (and this definitely qualified). Taking a deep breath, I took the challenge and had a blast—even if I

Meeting Authors

Yours truly and Linda Lamb

may not have been the most knowledgeable person on the panel. I met plenty of people, was able to help (with info and advice) a young teen writer a bit, plus I handled most questions gracefully and with a reasonable amount of knowledge (yay!) …

When it was over, there was definitely a sigh of relief—I’d done it and was glad I’d stuck it out.

Since my husband passed away, I’ve found myself in many such situations like this and each one has helped me grow—in confidence, knowledge and self-esteem (I had come a long way from my very poor self-esteem as a child and young adult, but still carry doubts of my abilities). It also reinforced my integrity. In this last “experiment”, when asked where my ideas came from, I actually dared to step outside the safety of just spewing facts, to announce that “my characters run the show” (something I’ve obviously said before) … but that those characters are, in fact, God directing my story the way He wants it to go, not where I want it to go. That was the first time I’ve ever said that—outside the relative safety of this blog site or to friends. One of the other panelists came up to me afterwards and said she loved that I stated that my story is faith (aka: God)-driven, and that it took courage to say it in front of a crowd. A little growth spurt. And that this particular panelist, whom I grew to admire for her wisdom and skill whilst she passed along information to the audience, made the observation the proverbial “icing on the cake.”

Life is too short to not accept these challenges that are thrown before us. Stepping outside our comfy little world helps stretch our skills and confidence. I used to hate talking in front of people—we had to do it in my 6th grade class all the way through high school—I became a shrinking violet … stuttering, mixing up my words. Horrible. Yet, as a fourty-something mother, I finally managed to engage children by creating spontaneous short stories in front of them (prior to this, I had an awful time even reading stories aloud to my daughter—I didn’t want my dyslexia to show what an awful reader I was.) “Oh, they’re easy to talk and read to,” you say … um, I disagree. Some of them can be pretty tough critics. But I learned by challenging myself—one little stepping stone at a time, till eventually, I was able to stand up in front of larger groups … and larger … until I, heart in my throat, stood up in front of a bunch of seasoned authors a couple of years ago and read a selection from my first book. I was scared to death that I’d mess up in my reading and forgot to mention the title (such a basic—eye roll here) … and that my humble story wasn’t good enough for this awesome collection of people. I didn’t die, or even melt into a puddle on the floor. I made it through unscathed. Rattled, but unscathed. And, discovered many of them even enjoyed the story. Another little growth spurt.

So, my friends, don’t cloister yourselves—take on challenges. Perhaps small at first, but allow yourself the luxury of experimenting with larger challenges. And larger still. Try new things. Travel—with friends or on your own—it’s a awesome experience— and “grows” you in so many ways (check out the bogs I’ve written about traveling with people and on my own). Start writing that book you keep talking about.

As one shoe maker states, “Just do it” … never let failure of a challenge defeat you. It’s simply a learning tool to help you do better the next time.

So, until next week, I bid you adieu—have a blessed week. For the locals, perhaps you would be interested in stopping by Compass Church in Salinas on Saturday, 14 October for their annual craft fair—Joyce Oroz and I will be set up (against the south wall in the main building) with her mystery series and my fantasy series … plus my photography, photopolymer etched prints and other bits of art.

Harvest Jubilee 2017

National Novel Writing Month 2017

YES, IT IS THAT TIME OF YEAR again—literally just around the corner (yikes!)—well, four weeks away to be exact, but the way my timeline seems to fly, it might as well be  NaNoWriMo 2017 Projecttomorrow (sniggle). I’m wanting to get my book five finished pronto, so what better way than to be in a one-month pressure cooker? (click on image to see the whole thing)

I hope it works, because I’m so close to finishing the edit on book four (doing a happy dance—I know y’all are saying “It’s about time!”) and I’d like to have book five roll out (published) no more than six months after book four. I can’t say why (spoilers!), but there’s a good reason … honest.

For those of you unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo (the acronym for National Novel Writing Month), this is an annual online event held from November 1-30 and the goal is to write a novel—50,000 words—in that allotted time. It spills over into the real world in the form of writers and writer-wanna-bees (NOT meant—in any way, shape, or form—as a derogatory statement) meeting in groups to encourage each other, answer questions and create challenges to help move each person closer to the 50,000 word goal.

So many people have told me they’ve got an idea for a story—when they say that, I tell them to stop putting it off—get it on paper (or in digital form). A little bit a day. But I also tell them about NaNoWriMo, since it’s an excellent way to dive into writing.

For the uninitiated, 50,000 words seems daunting. But if broken down into smaller “bites,” that is 1,667 words a day, which is only a little over 208 words an hour (for 8 hours a day)—or 417 words per hour for four hours a day. Now, that’s not so hard, is it? And if you feel you have no clue where to start, NaNoWriMo has a page just for you—Pep Talks are inspirational letters written by well-known authors during NaNoWriMo just for you. They’ll be delivered to your NaNoWriMo inbox throughout NaNoWriMo season, ready to inspire you, motivate you, and keep you writing all month long. Sooo … stop draggin’ your feet and check it out!

NaNoWriMo changed the rules a couple of years ago, making it an awesome tool for those of us in the middle of a manuscript (a work in process—WIP) that needed a little boost to take it to the finish line. Instead of something completely new, they allowed writers to start where their WIP “ended” … and made it easier for those writing poetry, too—though I’m not terribly familiar with those changes since I seldom play with poetry.

For those of you that are interested in giving it a go—you do know … you do not need to make that 50,000 word goal to benefit from this month-long exercise—you can click on this link (to NaNoWriMo’s site) to check it out. The simple act of starting to put your thoughts on paper is an amazing feeling. You can create an outline, choose characters, situations, etc. prior to November first (that is permitted)—or like me, just start writing (I’m what they call a Panster—I write as the story comes to me … outlines don’t work with me), but don’t start to write the story until midnight of October 31st! Anything written before that time cannot be counted (that includes those of us with unfinished WIPs).

Sign up today. Start planning now. Read the website’s helpful hints … and above all, have fun with it—explore your mind for ideas.

Phases

LIFE IS INTERESTING. Especially the phases. You know … the phases you go through on the way to becoming an adult.

For example: I’ve always had a fascination with colours. Always. I think the fascination came from my mom—she was forever changing the colour of accent pieces in whatever house we lived in at the moment. Pinks and sky-blues were her thing. I have a lovely hutch that my parents took with them on all of their moves that has layer upon layer of paint (blue, pink … and white layers—I see it in the chipped spots). I’m reluctant to strip down that precious history to the beautiful oak woodwork … and it actually makes me giggle, because my parents (oh, lets be real—my mom) purchased a painted player piano that needed refinishing. Why the giggles? Because there was overwhelming and unsightly evidence of layer upon layer of paint. And when my mom started the stripping process, she couldn’t believe it when she found a few wallpaper layers amidst the layers of paint. Aghast at the thought of wallpaper and paint on a piano, she ranted about it. How could they?? But, I’ll ask how is that different from painting layer upon layer onto perfectly good oak wood?

I don’t think I remember much in the way of colour preferences before middle school—or maybe it was high school. Not sure. I had a phase where just about everything I possessed (even the walls of my room) was lavender. Then, I kept the lavender walls and accented with orange. And I mean bright, eye-blinding orange. Then I mixed a psychedelic checker-board black wallpaper onto a tall dresser (no squares or even rectangles–all parallelograms) with all of that—it was the sixties, after all …

Orange stayed with me for quite some time—even as a young adult. Orange and brown tones dominated my space. Then suddenly (well, it seems that way in my recollections) … pinks overtook and replaced the orange tones. Then purple, then back to pink.

One day, I sat back and looked at the collection of colours around me—pinks and blues—and I developed a serious case of the giggles. Had I finally become the “mother’s daughter”—taking on her preferences? No, I don’t think so, but those colours do dominate my surroundings—with splashes of red, browns … and purple.

My flower gardens blooms are pinks, reds and blues. Pots are blue, burnt red-orange … and green. It has to be the “right” green to set foot in my life. I tolerate oranges, but only little splashes—though I do find I like earthy tones more around Halloween and reds—lots of reds—around Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

So, are my phases becoming seasonal? I’m not sure … and I’m not sure it even matters.

I watch one of my very talented cousins, Elaine Dunham, play so freely with colour—very abstractly—and am so amazed at her final products. I’ve not been a fan of abstract art, but watching how she gets to the finished image has be appreciating it a bit more. And most of them (in my opinion) are lovely! If you are interested in abstracts, here’s a link to her work. There’s some amazing stuff there! 10/11/17 Note: She’s just added another link to her ello account.

So … I’ve started to pay closer attention to what I’m doing colour-wise—I’m still a seat-of-the-pants artisan … whether in Writerly or Painterly mode, but now I see that I need to be more mindful, even when I’m being spontaneous.

This little spontaneous trip down memory lane was fun! I find it fun to walk some of the corridors of my mind and peek through doors and windows to see what’s there. How about you? Can you tell me—and please be honest—what some of your phases were as you navigated life?

Oh … by the way—autumn is here (well, if in southern hemisphere, it’s spring, isn’t it?) and I’ve been glass pumpkin hunting to add to my collection. Enjoy the season!

Waterlogue-Glass Pumpkins

Click on it to see entire image

Secrets Beyond Scymaria—Books Four and Five

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

So, without further delay, here are the snippets:

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

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

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

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

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

Books, Fairs and A Bit More …

OH, MY. A BUSY AND INTERESTING week with a new venue for Joyce Oroz and I. The Cesar Chavez Library’s Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smith's tableFirst Salinas Book Fair was a hit with the locals—mostly Hispanic, with the two of us sticking out like sore thumbs. All announcements were made bilingually; most of the authors spoke Spanish, and many of their books were written in Spanish. It took us very little time to realise it wasn’t exactly the best fit for us, but we made sure we had dj jameson smith at the First Salinas Book Fairfun and each of us did make a few sales. It was fun meeting many of the authors—and quite a few of them, including yours truly and Joyce, had to read from their books. Aaack! I’ve only done that once before—in front of a bunch of teens (tough audience). Well, I did okay … and Joyce did too. Reading a selected bit from the book gave the audience (aka: readers or parents of readers) a chance to hear what many of the books were like, then come to the booths and get more information … or better yet, make a purchase.

Now, Joyce and I have a bit of a respite from our books—well, at least I do. I’ll be taking some “personalOne Big Pile of Weeds To Go Please ... time” for the next two weekends. On the week days, I’m trying to fulfill CalFire’s requirements to make my property fire safe. I’m making progress … slowly. Weeds, dead trees and branches … ugh. I’m looking forward to my weekends—I’ve decided to pop over to Carmel Valley to check out (and probably purchase) a few glass pumpkins. I’ve found myself collecting them (insert eye-roll)—just what I need! They are so gorgeous—I want to buy, buy, buy—but they are also a little on the pricey side.

Anyway, not only am I doing that stroll amongst pumpkins, Tiger Lily and Peter Pan from Forest Theatre, Carmelbut I’m also going to see the play, Peter Pan, at the Forest Theatre—an outdoor theatre (a very cool theatre)—in Carmel with a friend and her kids. I know I’ll have fun—no matter what the weather (I always come prepared)!

The following weekend will be another double-header for me. On the calendar for ages is the Alzheimer’s Walk—the only one I’ll be able to attend will be held in Aptos at the Walk to End Alzheimerslovely Seascape Resort. Depending on how I feel, I’ll either walk the full 2-3 mile walk—which includes a bit of a walk on sand with Taiko drumerss at the turn-around point (love, love, love Taiko drums!!) or I might do the short circuit if I’m not feeling up to par. Either way I am going to have a wonderful time, walking for a cause that is near and dear to me. For those of you that don’t know, my dad had Alzheimer’s Disease. To find out more about this devastating disease, go to my personal page or to the Alzheimers.org page.

I did say it was a double-header, didn’t I? Well, after the walk, I’ll be jumping in my car and traveling up to Los Gatos for their annual Magical Glass Pumpkin Patch event (yes, My Glass Pumpkins Are Lonesome ...more glass pumpkins!). I’ve never been, but one of my friends brings home a number of exquisite pumpkins for me to choose from. I decided this year, I’d go there in person. I just hope the drive up will be enough to re-coup my energy, because I believe there will be plenty of walking involved!

Next week, I believe I’ll be giving you a sneak peek—snippets from two stories in my series: Book Four, Mischiefmaker and Book Five, Catalyst (working title). I’m all excited about these two books. It’s hard to edit my first book, knowing I’ve got the edit for book four waiting (I have been working on it, but bouncing back and forth between two edits makes my head spin) and book five wanting completion.

With that said, I do believe it’s time to say Belladonna Lily (Naked Lady)good-bye for the week … I’ll leave you with one last photo. A beautiful pink flower (Belladonna Lily—aka: Naked Lady). I wish you all a wonderful and blessed Friday and weekend. Enjoy!

 

Things That Go Thump in the Night

I’M ALL TOO FAMILIAR WITH restless nights, whether I’m in the throes of an over active mind—a story begging to be let out—or it’s due to my “normal” aches and pains … or due to overly warm nights, or even my falling asleep too early and the middle of the night is when I’ve fulfilled my sleep quota.

Despite all of this—or perhaps because of it—nights hold a magic all their own for me. But, only if I take the time to listen. And imagine. Normally there is some sort of activity that will catch my attention—seldom is the night completely still and quiet for long. My cat, Sebastian, is excellent at this “game” of listening. He may be snuggled in, obviously dead asleep when a noise I cannot hear awakens him with a start. He then launches himself off of me (bringing me to full consciousness—sigh) and is off to investigate, returning only after he is satisfied the thing is gone or no threat.

The sounds I hear are usually include my hoot-owl—occasionally a screech owl, an occasional confused rooster, or the footfall from my resident deer—oh (insert huge, dreamy grin … I love my deer)! And my various mocking birds that do not confine their vocalisations to daytime. Always playing a “solo”, they will wander their territory enchanting the air with their song. I’ve grown so accustomed to hearing all of these sounds that when they are absent, it’s literally deafening. Like on the last day of August. It was very strange. There were no bits of white noise from traffic (I live near a freeway, with only a hill between us), no dogs barking, cats yowling, or even roosters announcing some unseen threat. No footfall or music from my feathered friends. It was strangely silent, which pulled me even further from my sleep, leaving me wide awake to wonder why.

… And it left me to reminisce of times when there were very strange sounds haunting the night. Whether due to a vivid imagination (yeah, writers do have to deal with that …) or perhaps some late night movie leaving a lasting impression, I imagined dark and scary things were lurking. It could have been a coyote or some nasty beast of the night making strange noises—not a bark … nor a howl. It was somewhere between. I imagined a mad animal wandering about, looking for prey. I certainly didn’t want to meet up with it. Don’t get me wrong—I didn’t see it as encountering a nightmare, but it was just spooky and made me curious … and my mind took off with ideas. So that August night was like that … I anticipated some strange occurrence—perhaps an earthquake (we haven’t had many recently—we’re actually due for a good shaker). We need a really “good” shaker—one that will take the pressure off so we don’t have to deal with The Big One for a bit longer.

In any case, I’ve missed my normal night sounds … and any chance at a good nights sleep—I’ve had about a week of extraordinarily hot. Ugh. Freakishly hot of weather (no a/c)—aaah! Perhaps that was the calamity that befell us … all the animals knew to escape the heat, leaving us behind to cope. The evening temperatures have slowly dropped, and by Tuesday night we were supposed to be pretty much back to “normal”—not. The one good this is, my night sounds have begun to return to normal.

Now, with things returning to normal—even my health is finally returning, so yes … perhaps now I can get a good nights sleep. I am wishing each of you the adventure of nighttime magic, without the things that go thump in the night. Have a blessed weekend and week to come!

Please go to my Amazon Authors Page to see my upcoming events. Next one is First Salinas Book Fair this Saturday, 9September17 at Cesar Chavez Library.

I’m Back!

IT’S TRULY AMAZING WHAT A little vacation will do for you. Well … not"Hello September" by djamesonsmith exactly “little”—an entire month. The respite from blogging has allowed for a bit of creativity and energy to creep in. Lovely. Honestly … a wonderful Yours Truly ... Well Restedchange of heart, mind and body. And, it doesn’t hurt that I’m finally nearing the end of the “healing” mode for all the “traumas” that have happened in the last two years. Have you ever heard the saying that getting is old is not for faint of heart? Boy … is that ever an understatement.

(As always, clicking on photos will give you a larger, full view)

So, I guess a little bit of a catch-up is in order. I’ve a couple book signings under my belt, had a few cancel or become a no-go, managed to keepOpen Ground Studios muddling through on the edit for book one, get half-way through my book four’s first edit (mostly done at Open Ground Studios) … my imagination has been kick-started by seriously getting into the edit—which is a very good thing, and finally … I’ve rolled up my "Before" Weedingshirtsleeves and started the daunting task of rescuing my property from mother nature’s grips and serious cleaning and purging of all the unwanted stuff in and around my home. Gardening and housecleaning! Fun …

In my absence from the blog-o-sphere, a “once-in-a-lifetime” solar eclipse happened (have to giggle over that one— there’s another one in 2024 in the eastern US, but I guess they said that because it made a path that crossed the whole of the continental US). Though I did not see anything Solar Eclipse 2017 by Ken Pitts 2017 Solar Eclipse by Ken Pittsdue to high clouds and fog, one of my cousins up in Oregon did—and I was given permission to share Ken Pitts images.

My photography may not have profited that much from my respite, but I certainly have been able to enjoy the wildlife in my yard more. The result has been lots of quickie shots A Few Deer Gathering No Fear of MeBuckeye Butterflyof my resident deer … and plants. Lots of flora and “fawna” (teehee). I haven’t done much  trudging around anywhere to specifically take photos.Lupin on Cloudy Day at Point Lobos I’ve finally enough energy to take walks at Point Lobos again … now I simply need a time when there aren’t a ton of events on the Peninsula drawing tourists to my favourite spot. Once that happens, I know I’ll get back to a physically fit state.

These last two years have made me seriously question what I’m physically capable of doing (in a negative way) … and in this last month, I’ve been allowed (mentally) to realise I am still very capable of so many things—but, that’s another blog post entirely (insert smiley face). It’s been an eye-opener and has lifted a burden of doubt.

It has been quite a journey—made in about a months time—and I’m still trekking towards the finish line, so now that I’m back at my blogging (and a few other things I’ve thrown to the side whilst taking my vacation), I’ll be able to keep you in the loop as to my progress.

So, though this first blog entry is a wee bit late (I was having way too muchFor Me ... HOT! fun yesterday to clean it up and get it ready—I nearly forgot to add all of the photos!—waaay too much fun … teehee), I am back in the saddle. I wish you a blessed and wonderful weekend—ours will be unseasonably warm. Stay safe, stay dry … and/or cool, depending on what’s happening in your corner of the world.

Respite

ITS BEEN ONE OF THOSE weeks … lots of weird stuff, plus just plain ol’ busy–and I’m having problems with saving my blog. Again.

Drats. I really am getting tired of fighting with my website nearly every week. It’s the same ol’ thing every time. And my poor addled brain simply does not remember, so it happens again and again.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are other issues that pop up when I’m trying to actually post also, but it’s most irritating when I start it–grateful to finally get those first few hundred words on “paper” then clicking on Save (without first performing a highlight all and copy–which should not be necessary, by the way) … only to find the prompt saying “could not perform the task”. So, all of those hard-fought first words are lost. Like I said, irritating. Frustrating.

I love writing. But things like that suck me dry; leave me wanting to do other things. Anything other than working on my blog. Or any other kind of writing. I do like that I’m able to work on it even whilst still snuggled under my covers, at any hour, whether I have my laptop with me or not. My smart phone makes me lazy that way. But it’s the smart phone that is creating all the angst.

Ha! Another reason for me to shed all these fancy electronic devices. Sigh. I’d love to see it happen. But I’m so “hooked”.

Well, the reason for this post is to tell you I’m taking a break. I’ve been trying to decide how many weeks … and I do believe four weeks will help me sort things out (personally, health wise and of a writerly nature). Sure hope understand I’m not abandoning you … I simply need time to sort my life out and get some writing done.

Have a blessed weekend and month. Enjoy your summer and I certainly hope you find serendipity right around the corner! I’ll be back–maybe even sooner than planned. You can always find some posts on my Facebook dj jameson smith-author page.

Toodles for now …

Time And . . .

RELATIVE DIMENSION IN SPACE. Ummm … my weeks seem to be running together. Day after day, week after week simply skitter by with no hope of reigning in their vanishing. It’s all very strange. It makes planning my activities difficult. After all, how do you schedule things when the allotted time sucks into nothingness?

Plans are concepts. So is time. Oh, wow. I think I just opened a can of worms with that–I took a moment to google “is time a concept” and came up with this article, written in 2012.  “Time does not exist …” A bit radical, but it’s exactly how I’m feeling about time right now.

Now, I can hear a certain very knowledgable individual spouting off all kinds of rubbish (well, to this brain, at least—insert eye roll). You know … it’s a “timey-wimey” thing. Honest. I think there is something to this and perhaps the Doctor would agree …

I could certainly use his assistance to assure that my blogs are done on time these days. Too many doctors appointments or physical therapy, book signings, meetings of one sort or another … sometimes I wonder if time is standing still and all of these appointments and meetings are just backing up like the over-packed freeways on a holiday weekend, leaving absolutely no room for anything else. Or, as I said before … vanishing before my eyes! My sieve-of-a-memory certainly isn’t helping (eye-roll here) …

Oh! But now he’s not going to be a “he”—or at least won’t be fairly soon! I am looking forward to the Doctor’s new regeneration in the annual special at Christmastime. Our illustrious Doctor will be changing gender—to a beautiful and quite intelligent woman! When Missy and the Doctor next meet, it’s going to be very interesting! Yes, indeed! And, since I’m not doing it justice, here’s a blog piece that did! (Well done and thank you, Mark, for letting me use your blog post!)

Doctor number four (Tom Baker, with his wonderful, deep speaking voice and crazy curly locks … and that scarf—yes, I love that scarf!) will always be my First and Favourite Doctor, but I will be cheering for the new one—for a change. The series has been around since the 60’s—don’t you think it’s high time for a new change?

I wonder if the new Doctor would be interested in helping me juggle my time issues …

Aah, well. Probably not. Probably for the best, really. I’ll need to sort it all out on my own—well, at least it appears I’ve managed a decent blog for this week … well, perhaps.

Would you like a jelly baby?

Next Saturday (the 29th of July) will find me in LaSelva Beach at a summer festival with my books! Until then, have a blessed weekend and upcoming week, my friends.

 

Editing, Book Signings and Life

OH, MY. THIS WEEK HAS flown by without me even realising it! I’ve been busy working all week on annotating the PDF for my editor, doing a wee bit of advertising and gathering everything I’ll need for the book signing at Jardines this afternoon.

I’ve had a few doctor appointments peppered through the week and am heading out for some fasting blood work in a moment. I hate the “fasting” part … I’m always ravenous by the time they draw the blood! Teehee—usually a great excuse to fudge and eat out, but today, there’s no time. Sigh. Oh, well. I’ll be devouring some yogurt when I get home!

I have a “drama queen” for a neurologist. I do say that in a loving way—he is absolutely hilarious at times … like the other day when I told him I had two events coming up that required me to set up a pop-up tent (well over his 20# limit restriction). He sent me into stitches with his comments, overdramatising of course, to make his point. Fine—I need to scramble and find someone to set the tents up … sigh. I knew what he was going to say, but it never hurts to try a little cajoling to change his mind, right?

So instead, he’s setting up a referral to a specialist up in Daley City (South San Francisco)—that’s an hour and a half drive from where I live (probably more with the crazy traffic up there). No worries. I am a patient driver, but I may try to find a place to stay the night before (or the night of) my appointment, depending on the timing.

So … I am waiting for that referral call, to set up the appointment and I’m also waiting for a call from the local MRI place—he wants to do a repeat MRI. Guess he wants to see if I still have a brain (sniggle).

In the meantime, thinking about today’s book signing: it will be a piece of cake—well, as long as you don’t count sitting outside for four hours in 80 degree weather as a problem. I’m hoping the location of the tables (Joyce and I get two) and the umbrellas will keep the sun off of us. I love that we have been able to find venues to sneak in book signings without having to be part of a larger group (though, those do have a tendency to draw more people … but then, we are vying for attention with a larger group—lots of pros and cons to this book signing stuff.

Well, I do need to get underway, so I’ll leave you with a fond farewell. May this day, this weekend and all of next week be blessed and joyful.

Now, off to visit the “vampire” …

 

 

Nature’s Colour

IN ORGANISING FOR THE UPCOMING book signing in San Juan Bautista—it’s coming up fast … 14 July, I found myself out and about, enjoying the early summer colours. Though our book signing location—Jardines (a delightful Mexican restaurant)—has many Beautiful Garden at Jardinescacti in their gardens, there’s also an abundance of other plants that flourish. Some blooms have already come and gone, but there are many still going strong. (please click on the individual photos to get better, larger images)

Seeing all of the abundant beauty there put my “radar” on high alert (subconsciously) and I started to see flowers

Carmel View

Looking south from Mission Ranch Restaurant

Pink Everywhere You Look

Flush with Pink!

Loads of pink!

and beautiful leaf formations everywhere. A dinner in Carmel (near the Mission) with an out-of-town friend

yielded some lovely blossoms. And some I haven’t seen since I was a much, much younger person.

Yellow Straw Flower

A straw flower—I haven’t seen these in years!

Spider Alert ...

I knew I saw something … had to wait till I got it on the screen—tiny guy!

Definitely a weed …

Not sure if it’s a weed …

 

 

 

 

All around my yard, as ragged and unloved as it is at present, yielded some faithful bloomers. Even some of the weeds were fascinating.
(Oh, my … these went all wonky—well, at least you can still see them …)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst shopping for sundries in Target, I wandered down their dollar aisles and found some cute little blue flower pots—little flower kits—for a flower I’ve Forget-Me-Not Kitalways meant to put into my garden: forget-me-not. Teehee … a little ironic what with my memory and all (insert eye roll and a quiet giggle here). They’ve taken off—they’re still at the two-leaf stage, Forget-Me-Not Seedlingsbut that will change quickly … and I don’t have a place to put them yet that will be safe from the deer. But I look forward to their blooms.

So, as I gear up for my next two book signings, I am keeping nature’s gems on my radar. It’s calming—all things natural are calming, but flowers and forests are top on the list. I certainly hope that you will find some serendipitous blooms in your life, whether they be of the flowering kind or life-events. Have a wonderful weekend and week to come.

Two Book Signing with Two Local Authors
Friday, 14 July, 2017 4-8pm
in San Juan Bautista, California
Jardines de San Juan Mexican Restaurant
in the Garden
and
Saturday, 29 July, 2017 10am-4pm
at Books and Brews Summer Festival
314 Estrella Avenue, LaSelva Beach California
LaSelva Beach Clubhouse and Lawn

Join us!
Additional events listed
here

 

Staying On Track … and Memories

SUMMER SOLSTICE HAS come and gone, which means our long days will start to shorten once again. We still have delightfully long well-lit evenings and I should be jumping at this opportunity to dust off my camera and catch some twilight shots down by the ocean and in the hills. But instead, book deadlines have me tethered.

I dream of traveling–it’s been two years … waaay too long for me. This craving for travel is problematic, as it muddles my mind with lovely visions of Ireland, Scotland–and takes my focus away for the task at hand: editing and spinning my story further. Recently, there was news that the train that connects much of the western coastline is on the chopping block which made me yearn for traveling (by train) even more. It is so sad that train travel in California does not even get a second though from people.

Once, as a child, my poor mom was in charge of me (and my siblings) as we traveled by train to our new home in Southern California. My dad had to rush down there to start his new job, leaving mom with all of us–I think there were four of us at the time. I think they chose wisely and I am thankful this was the mode of transportation chosen. Putting all of us on a plane might have been faster, but I’m not so sure I could have contained my energy for even that short a time. The train experience was mesmerising for me. The rhythmic clickety-clack and gentle motion of the train made the trip more tolerable.  That, and the fact I had row after row of strangers to make friends with or that needed entertaining–oh, my. I couldn’t have been too bad, since we were not put off the train (giggle). It is a fond echo of a memory in my mind.  I’ve always enjoyed train rides and I made sure my daughter learned to enjoy them too. She was a lot more well behaved on the train rides we did with her than I was, I’m sure!

Traveling by train is something everyone should experience at least once in their life. Then you will understand the sadness I feel at the news of them cutting service to our area. I will not be able to take the train up the coast to Oregon or Washington to visit friends (um, I don’t mind planes, but if I am given a choice, I’d much rather travel by train due to the huge queues and all the waiting–things my body doesn’t like–when traveling by plane).

Trains allow you to wander around–truly stretch your legs out, chat with quite a few people as you move from your seat to the dining car or the observatory car … and there are no seat belts, no “air turbulence” that will keep you cross-legged if you need to use the facilities. It is a far gentler form of travel.

I’m praying that the train routes are saved from The (governmental) Ax … and now, I need to put aside these travel desires for a bit so that I can get my books edited and written.

Tell me, though–what do you think of train travel? And have you done any adventures on a train–or plan to in the near future?

I bid you adieu for now. Have a blessed Friday and weekend. The Fourth of July is literally just around the corner–what are your plans?

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!

 

Patience …?

HHMMPH! DWELLING ON THINGS you have no control over is terribly counterproductive. My Friday visit to the ER a couple weeks ago left me with tons of questions, some of which are being sorted out with a scheduled test and upcoming appointments. But I’m finding myself very impatient, wanting answers NOW. Ugh. Yes, I AM part of the “now” generation. I’ve tried very hard to shed that “layer” but it rears its ugly head now and again. Especially when I am frustrated.

I even had another visit to the ER a week later. A different “problem”, or so I thought. Turns out, probably the same issue: my spine is finally protesting all of the abuse I’ve given it over the years. The frustrating thing is, many of the symptoms are so close to what one would experience with a heart attack or stroke—so it’s not like I can simply brush it off and just get on with my life. It requires a trip to the ER (well, I’m getting a stress test to see if I really need to do that every time symptoms pop up—like I had on my last two visits).

It really is a nuisance. In the meantime, my neurologist has me doing physical therapy to help with the pressure on my spinal cord and he has me on a lifting restriction (no more than twenty pounds). Ugh. That certainly puts a crimp in my working around the yard. Well, I keep saying I need to hire a gardener … I do believe it’s time to make good on that “threat”. A housekeeper may be a wee bit more tricky since they want to come in and do a deep cleaning before they do routine weekly stuff. I’m going to need to have a little chat about tossing that requirement out the window from the get-go … (giggle) we’ll see how that flies.

With all my doctor visits and PT, I almost forgot to finish up this blog (oopsie). Matter of fact, I seem to be more forgetful (if that’s possible) of late—I forgot to take all of my usual meds yesterday. I think that’s a first. But, thankfully, even if the PT will be continuing, my doctor visits are slowing down and I can get back to living normally. Well, as normally as as one can expect for me.

In the meantime, I think it’s time I hone my “patience” skills (insert eye roll here). And, I need not forget who is truly in charge. I need to remember to “give it to God” …

Summer is just around the corner and this week looks like it’s going to be quite warm. May this weekend and the upcoming week be a blessing to you all.

 

Upcoming Events

Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smithWELL, IT HAS BEGUN … AND I’M NOT sure I’m ready for it (what’s new). Friday, June 23rd begins our (Joyce Oroz and yours truly) book signing and appearances. This first one is a low key event at the “new” Starbucks in Prunedale—in the Prunetree Shopping Center. We’ll be set up inside at one of the tables (yay … since weather has been awfully fickle lately. It was drizzly on Thursday—don’t want to get our books wet!). The next one will be up in San Juan Bautista at Jardines Restaurant in their beautiful garden, possibly on July 15—we’re still negotiating that one. Then over to LaSelva Beach at the library on July 29th.

Unfortunately, the Inknbeans Press’ annual get-together and “across-the-country” book signing (in September) in N. Carolina has been cancelled. Sounds like we out-of-town writers messed up and didn’t get our confirmations in on time. Our bad … and our loss. That one would have been fun. We’ll give it a go next year. And … the application for the October Harvest Jubilee in Salinas just came in, so I’ll be getting that filled out and sent in very soon—I’ll be able to display my art along with my books. I love it when I can combine the two loves of my life.

I’m trying to keep the Facebook business page up to date—in Notes, I’ve got a note titled: 2017 Book Signings and Appearances that has all of the dates, whether confirmed or still negotiating. I do need to update the list with the above mentioned items, so give me a couple of days to do that.

In the meantime, I’m trying to get all my ducks in a row (business & personal), mind my p’s and q’s (health-wise 😳)—trying to follow doctors’ orders … and survive another week (sad that it’s come to that, but hopefully “that” situation will be short-lived).

So, my dear friends, enjoy your Friday and the ensuing weekend and I’ll see you next Friday. May it be blessed abundantly!!

 

 

 

A Day In the Life …


 

MY FRIDAY BEFORE MEMORIAL DAY weekend was mighty busy. More than I bargained for, actually. It started with me wearing my “Homeowner’s” hat; taking a lawnmower in (hand to wrangle it into the back of my truck, then out again) for maintenance and then paying “bail” to get my weed eater/brush cutter sprung outta jail so I could do some serious work in the yard over the weekend.

Then I switched hats (after getting spiffed-up) and met my mystery writer friend, Joyce Oroz, for lunch up in beautiful downtown San Juan Bautista. Writerly hat donned, I was hoping to leave the grey skies behind as I headed inland, but apparently the grey extended its hand all the way into (and beyond) San Juan Bautista. As I walked the block and a half to the restaurant, I took inventory of my warmer weather attire, and I crossed my fingers, hoping we’d be eating inside at Jardines. Thankfully I didn’t find Joyce outside in the patio, but nestled nicely to one side of the Mexican restaurant’s indoor seating area. A pesky pain in my arm interfered with my high spirits a little bit, but after a lovely, filling meal, we chatted with the assistant manager about utilising their garden patio (dining area) for a book signing. He was quite sure something could be worked out, but would have to get back to us on Monday or Tuesday. We were happy with that and bade our good byes to the manager and each other.

My shoulder and arm kept hurting (I couldn’t figure out why) and by our departure was quite bothersome, so, before leaving San Juan Bautista, I rung up my family doctor to see if I could—by some miracle—be squeezed in … no such luck. They didn’t like the sound of the symptoms and since I could not be seen by them, their automatic (CYA) response was to recommend I go to the emergency room.

Sigh. Not happy with the recommendation, I did comply. But calculating the timing and my itinerary, I chose the hospital on the Peninsula over Salinas because it would be closer to my next destination … and if the worst happened (which I doubted), I’d be closest to my daughter—so much more convenient for her (and I prefer CHOMP to SVMH anyway). Another reason was I’d be more likely to make it to the event at Open Ground Studios since it usually took less time at CHOMP than at SVMH. Even with CHOMP being busier than usual, I made it out in under three hours—just in time for the event.

So, I spent some “quality” time at CHOMP, admiring the paintings hanging in their waiting room as I went through the “triage” of care, then was led into the inner sanctum for further evaluation. Kinda wished I’d brought my edit with me—time would have passed faster (maybe). I always feel like I’ve wasted the staff’s time when it’s a false alarm—but I am thankful it wasn’t the worst-case scenario (heart attack—I always have to consider it since I’m on blood pressure meds and have a wonky heart that likes to skip beats, then add an extra now and again). Instead, it was most likely a neck/nerve issue that I’ll have to address at a later date. (Drats!) Well, with Memorial Day weekend upon us, it was put into the back burner. I can’t read a crystal ball, but I do foresee more doctor appointments in my near future—several, in fact … plus a stress test (ugh). Sniggle and sigh … all in one breath.

With that out of the way, I was finally able to switch hats (Painterly) one final time and enjoy (mostly, since my arm still hurt) a wonderful evening with my fellow artist friends and the public that came to see the exhibition of art created in classes and by OGS members. I didn’t participate this year. It felt kind of weird not having any work displayed—other than the piece on the Co-Op Member’s wall at the back (along with my books), but I’m glad I didn’t—I would have been scrambling the last month or so, even more than I already had been! Time to let other artists get the spotlight—well deserved, too. I’m so proud of the amazing things that are created with the OGS walls.

By the time I got home, I was ready to crash and take some medicine that would work better than the Aleve (which gave me zilch relief). Saturday I awoke to no pain (the cycle was broken—yay!) and the day was spent recovering from the busyness of Friday. I didn’t even touch the weed eater—I’d planned on spending the day whacking away at my burgeoning weedy yard, but recovery was more important. The weeds could wait for another day. Monday was the first day I attempted using the weed eater … oh, my. I am so far out of shape—the vibrations did not feel good on my neck, so I laid it to rest in front of the garage … and have yet to pick it up again.

I think I’ve finally resigned myself to not doing any of the heavy work needed to bring my yard back into a more tidy form … instead, I’ll be making a call to have someone come in and do the work for me—this is a very hard thing for me to let go of. I love my gardening—even the hard stuff. Maybe I’ll have him out to work this weekend. Maybe I’ll have another story to tell. We’ll see.

I cannot believe it’s June already (insert serious eye-rolling here)!! Until next time, I’ll say adieu. Have a fantastically blessed Friday and weekend.

Mind Over Matter

MINDS ARE SUCH FICKLE THINGS … I’VE picked up my “digital” pen so many times this week, only to put it down again. Even now … cohesive thoughts elude me. Already over half way through the week with nothing inspiring having trickled out of my grey cells can create a wee bit of panic.

There are plenty of mundane things to write about, but I really don’t want to put you to sleep … really I don’t. Honest. It’s weeks like this that I want to go back to random posts–you know … only when a good idea pops. But I know consistency is important to grow a reader base. Sigh.

And on top of that, Friday is going to be a very busy day. My writing cohort, Joyce Oroz and I will be having a late lunch up at Jardines in San Juan Bautista and chatting with the manager to see if we can use their location for a book signing … then I zip back down, and over to the Peninsula for Open Ground Studios fourth annual celebration–it’s hard to believe it’s been that long. Four years of creating art and nurturing friendships with some amazing people. A perfectly wonderful home away from home for me.

So, (even though this is awfully short) now I’m going to sign off and get this little gem posted before I forget! Have a wonderfully blessed Friday and upcoming week. This is Memorial Day weekend for those of us in the States. Please take a moment to remember all those that served  to protect us.

 

At It Again … Book Signings and Art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

It’s Just One of Those Days …

HAVE YOU EVER HAD ONE of those days … you know, the ones that start off with you struggling to get out of bed? Days where you welcome the overcast skies because it’s not jarring your senses. Days where you drag your feet—literally—across the floor because there’s no energy for quick or crisp steps. Days where even after your “wake-up!” beverage and breakfast all you can think about is returning to a horizontal position. In bed, under the covers … hiding from the world. And, in my case, trying to escape pain. It’s not horribly bad like some of my friends deal with, but it’s there. All. The. Time. Nagging at me.

For me, hiding out in bed doesn’t really work—it’s one of those dreaded catch 22 things. Going forward in my day may sort the pains out … but trigger new ones. By staying in bed, old pains are relieved, but new ones creep in due to inactivity. Like I said … it’s a no-win scenario. I just have to decide which way I want to deal with it.

I can lessen the pain by taking medications, but because my body is not fond of it, I don’t take the meds unless I’m really hurting and I can only manage the meds for a couple days. I used to be a morning person—popping out from under the covers at 7am to start my day. Now, not so much. I still wake up at the same time … it just takes a whole lot longer to get my engines working. A whole lot longer.

I’m not trying to be a whinging ninny here. I’m simply trying to make a point. I count my blessings that my pain levels are relatively mild compared so many. I am able to get up and get moving—unassisted. I am able to walk—carefully—downstairs to make my own breakfast. My knees and ankles may sound like a creaky ol’ house in the process of descending the stairs, but I can do it.

My inactivity of late has triggered a weight gain, which is another catch 22—the more weight, the more stress/pain in the body, but movement and exercise cause pain, so I am less active, causing weight gain. And, it seems recently, pain apparently has become a trigger for me to seek comfort food (aka: major carb intake!!). Groan! I’m trying to fix that bad habit!

So … what am I trying to say here? There will always be “one of those days” or perhaps a string of them for you or for someone you know—or maybe it’s the complete stranger standing next to you. What do I do? I lean on God more heavily on those days … and it helps me get through the day. If it’s not you, please do not be the one to tell those that are having difficulties that it’s all in their head; that they can work it out (physically); or to shun them because they cannot keep up with you or are impeding your plans. Ask how you can help. Quietly and deliberately slow your pace (mentally and/or physically) so conversations can happen when your together. Understand where they are coming from … if you don’t understand fully, perhaps ask about the underlying illness causing the issue. Be educated. Just be there. Engage with them.  Be considerate. Smile (a genuine smile, please) and send up a prayer for them. There are so many ways—these are only a few of them.

Life is getting a wee bit hectic (I’ll explain later), so I probably will not be doing a blog next week (it will be a miracle if it happens)—as it is I almost forgot today’s! (insert very red face here …)

Have a blessed day and week—no, make that two weeks. The days are getting more and more beautiful, which makes me happy. Here’s to the upcoming summer! Cheers!

 

Gearing Up … Already!

OH, MY. IT CAN’T BE—REALLY? I CANNOT believe that on Monday, it will be May already—where on earth did all the time go?? Yikes.

But, this is an exciting time, too! A dear and fantastically artistic friend, Katie Crawford, has returned to our little corner Katie Crawfordof the world and will be talking about getting back in the saddle artisticly- and creatively-speaking tonight (Friday, 28th of May). The next thing on her agenda will be to teach all that attend her Saturday workshop how to make needle-felted creatures. Oh, you can bet I’ll be there! Then, she’s off—heading back to the East Coast to her husband and studio to paint and create her felted critters (they are so adorable).

But that’s not all … my mystery writer friend and cohort, Joyce Oroz has been working in the background trying to “level the playing field” so our book signings aren’t so lopsided—all of our book signing packed into the last quarter of the year can be exhausting (and frustrating). She’s working on peppering them throughout the year. I really should be helping scout out potential venues (oopsie) …

… and the first two are consecutive weekends in May. A new-to-us event is literally just around the corner on Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smithSaturday, the 6th of May at the Guglielmo Winery Vendor Faire in Morgan Hill from 11am-4pm. There will be arts, crafts, jewelry and more (teehee—I think we’re the “more” …) at this outdoors event. I’m excited to get into a new area and see how well it’s attended. Hopefully we’ll see some of you there!

The next one, held on Saturday, 13th of May, is a well established event—the Aromas Country Garden Tour, showcasing beautiful gardens in the Aromas area with various Aromas Hills Artisan members and their creations stationed within each garden. Joyce and I will have our signed books available for purchase. You start out at the Aromas Grange to get the list of homes on the tours (small fee to help support the event), then make your way to each garden. All I can say is, I believe we’re IN town near the Grange. Each artist is mentioned in the list/map, along with the garden they’re “hosting” on the map, so you’ll know where we are once you have the map in hand.

There is a third (new) event lined up, but not until July, at the La Selva Library. The out- and indoor event (our booth will be indoors), Books and Brew’s La Selva Beach Festival will be held on Saturday, 29th of July from 10am-4pm. There will be Arts, Crafts, Books, Plants, Produce & Flowers Sale … in addition to music, food, microbrews, prize drawing & kids’ activities. Again, this will be a new venue for the two of us, so it will be fun to see how well-attended it is.

After that, things quiet down for a couple months—at least for now, then start to heat up again (for me) in late September … on into mid-December. I’ll keep you in the loop if and when any new events pop up … and when the planned ones are happening. Promise.

May this weekend and the upcoming week be blessed—we’ll finally have some warmer weather (yay) to look forward to. Enjoy your week.