Category Archives: On A Personal Note

Birthday Was Happy

Thank you Laura D. for the amazing birthday gift basket!

It’s a new year for me as I turn 49 years. I spent my birthday celebrating quietly. As the clock turned over I was busy finishing a story for the Kansas City Star on  The Roasterie Kansas City Air Roasted Coffee and the amazing thing Danny O’Neill did for Variety Children’s Charity of Greater Kansas City.

Later it was lunch out and then a nice surprise when an awesome birthday gift basket from “the Birthday Fairy”was delivered. Loved it, and we’ve already pigged out on most of the treats.

The rest of the day was spent unpacking, walking dogs and other odds and ends. It was a perfect day.

Thanks for all the birthday wishes everyone!

Work is… Working

A representation of how I feel after working 114 hours in two weeks.

The past two weeks have been a blur. I worked 114 hours total at my new job. Yes, I had overtime—34 hours of overtime. I will have a very fat paycheck next Monday.

I still managed to keep up with blog posts here, published Spiders Are Everywhere, relaunched Monsters Are Everywhere and reformatted Everly is Everywhere.

I’ve also somehow managed to get 81 images up on Pixabay and have been in the top 100 producers for the past two weeks.

Am I tired? Yes, yes I am tired…. but that’s what coffee is for.

Celebrating a Birthday!

Taking a break tonight to celebrate my second daughter’s birthday. I’m so happy I get to be up here in Kansas City to celebrate with her.

She is one of my best friends. She has illustrated for me, built webpages, taught me social media, made my Facebook profile (despite my protests) and always been there, front and center, on my team. I hope I am the same kind of friend for her.

Living with her wiener dogs, however, is another story. This photo sums it up perfectly.

Interviewing Myself

Booksignings then and nowAfter I realized I am coming up on my sixth year as a published author, I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing on how it all began. I wish that the green newbie I was could have spoken with me now so I could have saved us both a lot of heartache, money and time. Since a time travel app isn’t available yet, I’m doing the next best thing—interviewing my 2011 self.

Angela Yuriko Smith2017 Angela(flashing back) Angela, you just indie published your first book. How do you feel? Describe those first moments when you finally held End of Mae in your hands. What were the thoughts going through the moment you saw your first, physical copy of your book?

Old Angela2011 Angela—Oh my goodness, 2017 Angela! It feels amazing! As soon as the box arrived I opened it and held my book—my book!—in my hands. My heart was racing. It was such a fulfilling moment. I’d waited my whole life for this.

Afterwards I took a walk. I know it’s silly, but I kind of expected people to look at me different. I was certainly glowing on the inside. How could no one notice it as I walked by? My book is available on Amazon. Now all I have to do is sit back and wait for the royalties to roll in.

Angela Yuriko Smith2017 Angela(laughing) I know a lot of authors feel like the hard work is finished when they finally get their book on Amazon’s shelves, but truthfully, the real work is about to begin with marketing, author branding, social media and book signings. In fact, I believe you just had your first book signing. Can you tell me what that was like?

Old Angela2011 Angela—Oh, well, it was good, I guess. I participated in the FWB Art Walk and I sold two books total. I probably could have sold more but I couldn’t make eye contact with anyone. I really felt stressed and shy. As soon as they’d approach my table, I would intently look at my phone so they wouldn’t talk to me.

In fact, one of the books sold while I had walked away from the table. My husband sold and signed it for me. He signed it in his name, of course, for a little girl who fell in love with his Aussi accent. I wish I knew how to engage people about my work better.

Angela Yuriko Smith2017 Angela—You aren’t alone. Many authors feel awkward when it comes to public speaking, and signing books books is just one-on-one public speaking. Six years ago I was in the same place as you—reluctant to engage—and it did nothing positive for my books sales.

I had to change the way I handled public appearances, and it wasn’t easy. I started doing things to make me feel more comfortable around people. Anything can be learned with practice and time. Many, many poetry open mics and book signings later, I’ve learned a few tricks, like folding origami during signings. It’s an ice breaker, doesn’t communicate that I’m too busy to talk and helps me avoid staring too hopefully at people walking by.

You can try anything that keeps your hands busy but your attention free to engage—draw pictures, knit, whittle—and bonus points if it can be something that ties into you as the author. My grandmother is Okinawan, and I learned Origami from her and my mother.

But this interview is about you, 2011 Angela. Tell me what you are doing to market yourself as an indie author? What works best for you?

Old Angela2011 Angela—Oh, I don’t really do a lot of effective marketing yet. It really comes back to that awkward feeling I have when I talk about my work. We are raised that we should be modest and not boast, so how do I tell people about my book? Maybe with a few more years under my belt that will change and I’ll be more confident. Time will tell.

2017 Angela—It certainly well. That’s all I have time for today, but I certainly wish you the best of luck in all your endeavors, writing and otherwise. I hope to talk to you again soon, and thanks for sharing with us what it’s like to be a brand new author.

Signature

Chillin’ in Chicago… it’s FREEZING up here!

At Grapevine Cemetery

At Grapevine Cemetery

My youngest son and I made it to Chicago and it is COLD! Us poor displaced Floridians are looking unprepared in our flip flops and lack of outerwear. We started the day in Madisonville, Kentucky where we stopped by to visit the infamous Grapevine Cemetery where there are reports of a crying angel and screams when love songs are played.

We found a gorgeous angel near the front of the cemetery that we photographed. The cemetery was beautiful with lovely, dignified headstones. Very clean and orderly, this place is obviously loved very much.

We paid our respects to the Moore family, who the angel guards, but witnessed no angel tears as reported. We also played Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers and heard nothing out of the ordinary. We haven’t checked the audio files yet for unusual sounds.

A true Kentucky Mountain Hobbit. Now I know where it comes from...

Great Aunt Dolly, a true Kentucky Mountain Hobbit. Now I know where I get it from…

That done, we headed over to Sacramento where I lived as a baby and caught up with my Aunt Dolly. The last time she saw me I was a babe in her arms. She seemed familiar to me, even though I couldn’t possibly have remembered her, and I felt like I reconnected to something precious. She was as short as I am, even a bit smaller, and I was told everyone in my family is this size. I guess I do come from the Kentucky Mountain Hobbits.

Afterwards it was straight to Chicago so we can celebrate my oldest son’s Naval graduation. He walks tomorrow, so I expect a day of emotion and happy tears. Tonight we are ready for showers and bed. Early day tomorrow, and then we will head back down south where it’s warm.

Catching up at home…

We got used to the Hollywood life pretty quickly... for the weekend.

We got used to the Hollywood life pretty quickly… for the weekend.

I officially dedicated myself to a full time writing schedule as of April 15—and I’ve had almost no time to write since. Three weeks of back to back trips has kept me occupied.

The first trip was for 310 Nutrition to LA. They brought Mr. Smith and I there to shoot a small video about how I lost the fifty pounds last year. There were two other “big losers” happily participating. 310 really fêted all of us.

We went to Pancho’s for some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had and we got to work with a real Hollywood make up artist and camera crew. Mr. Smith was there to demonstrate an awesome new line of home work out equipment created by 310 called 310 Gym.

Flying back, I spent a day at home and turned around and went right back to California for StokerCon 2017 on the haunted Queen Mary ship in Long Beach. Same airport, passing the same places. I had serious déjà vu.

This is what a group of paranormal investigators look like at 4 a.m. after 5 solid hours of hunting.

This is what a group of paranormal investigators look like at 4 a.m. after 5 solid hours of hunting.

Stokers was as amazing as always. I met fantastic writers—my highlights include taking Jonathon Maberry’s Act Like a Writer class and Linda Addison’s poetry workshop.

Biggest thrill? Maberry reading a copy of my poem, Fear Shimmers, from Escape Claws. At the (violent) prompting of my assistant, I had the presence of mind to take a quick video but the audio was too faint.

Too bad. His reading was so well done it sent chills down my spine. When he handed me the book back I realized that my poetry sounds amazing when read by Jonathon Maberry. To be fair, he could probably read a grocery list and make it sound good. This remains one of my favorite memories of StokerCon 2017.

I made many new writer friends, met George R. R. Martin and had the best volunteer team (and personal assistant!) beside me fighting fires and managing the crowds.

I also took a five hour paranormal tour in

Flying back from LA again was full of exhausted shenanigans.

Flying back from LA again was full of exhausted shenanigans.

the underbelly of The Queen Mary. Did I see anything? No, but I was poked in the back twice by John who lives in the boiler room and had an interesting conversation with him via dousing rods.

He and I talked about who he missed the most, and through a series of yes/no questions, he told me his father. Later, this was verified separately. I was pretty excited when the rods started actually working!

As soon as I was done with Stokers it was home for a few days and then on to Panama Beach for the weekend. This time I got to relax as a guest of a Baptist Ladies Retreat group. Yes, I realize some would see my follow up trip as ironic but I enjoy all sorts of people as long as they are kind people. The women I met this weekend were definitely kind people and I enjoyed myself.

Panama City was a welcome bit of down time on the beach with wonderful new friends.

Panama City Beach was a welcome bit of down time on the beach with wonderful new friends.

That brings us up to now. I am home this weekend but playing catch up with quite a lot. I have a final trip coming up mid-May to watch my oldest son graduate from Navy boot camp.

I am preparing my fall class schedule at the college. I’ve signed up to participate in Crestview Library’s Local Author Meet & Greet May 27 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. I was recently interviewed by Joe Compton (great interviewer!) for Go Indie Live and I’ll post that video when it’s available.

Right now I’m working on a full size version of Snakespeare (I know, finally!) and working on a new Lizard story that involves a super fast reading tarantula named Trueman. I also have a full schedule of appearances scheduled thanks to the diligent work of my assistant Laura who constantly pushes me outside of my comfort zone… for which I’m grateful.

Those are the highlights. I am appreciative of all the wonderful people I’ve met in the past few weeks. I actually ran out of business cards for the first time ever and had to order more. All three trips were amazing adventures, each of them a yearly highlight individually, but back to back as they were they made for a three week marathon of good times.

Still, happy to be home and living the boring life… for at least a week.

In LA with 310 Nutrition

IMG_20170421_183125_330We are living it up in LA this weekend as the guests of 310 Nutrition.

Today we are touring the 310 Nutrition headquarters, exploring Manhattan Beach and eating fish and chips while we watch surfers. Life is good 🙂

In exchange for the royal treatment, tomorrow Mr. Smith and I will be working with 310 on videos about their new 310 Gym line of work-out equipment and how I lost 50 pounds last year. Tomorrow we will be off to play in Hollywood and Little Tokyo.

As if just losing the weight wasn’t enough… 310 Nutrition has somehow made it even more awesome.

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Horror Movie Daycare

It’s been a busy, busy week. To entertain you in my absence, here’s “Horror Movie Daycare,” a funny College Humor production.

Surprise! Moving TODAY

Happy couple in their new home having fun - moving concept

Our plans to move to Atlanta have been halted due to some opportunities popping up here we just can’t leave. One of them is the perfect place to park our camper. We are moving… today. Camper life is spontaneous life 🙂

Last week we were just on a day trip to explore the area and we stopped in an RV park we were on the waiting list for. We never expected to get in. People who stay at this park on a long-term basis love it and rarely leave. Some have been residents for 10 years or more.

We walked in and introduced ourselves, to be polite, and were told a spot had just opened up the day before. Most people on the waiting list had waited so long they’d found other places and we happened to be next. Did we want it? We said yes, and set a move date.

Apparently, we are meant to stay in the area. All going away parties are canceled until further notice. All other parties may commence as planned.

Find True Love

IMG_20170214_104714_775Love doesn’t come wrapped in red cellophane. It doesn’t come in a heart shaped box full of bad chocolate. Read every card on the shelf and check all the envelopes… you will not find love there.

Love comes in each of us, expressed by what we do. You can hear it in a lullaby, a happy bark and a purr. Love comes with a smile and in the silence of words left unsaid because they were cruel. Love can sound like a baby coo.

Love can be on a subway, in an alley, a bowl of soup or bag of kibble. Love is what we do to make our world, and us, better.

Here’s my best wishes that we all find true love today.