Lessons Learned: Getting Refreshed

Image result for free thanksgiving clip artI hope everyone enjoyed their long Thanksgiving weekend. My husband and I hosted dinner on Thanksgiving Day, having family join us for a great afternoon and evening. I then had three full days to tackle my writing goals and knock off some items on my chore list. For the first time in ages, I did not leave my house for the entire four-day weekend. I can’t even remember the last time that happened.

I had an amazing time battling the Morlorns as I worked on the draft to my next book, the third in the “Dream or Reality” series for “The Calling.” While most of you were shopping on Black Friday or on the weekend, I decided to hibernate inside my happy little home. Not only did I write, but I also put up the Christmas decorations, paid bills, cleaned, and spent time with Mike.

Now that I’m refreshed, I’m ready to start the week feeling better about myself, my accomplishments, and happy to get through that battle near the stone dwelling. My characters never get a holiday, but this year I did. I’m ready to rejoin society and take on the outside world once again.

Beth M James

Novels based on strong characters and elements of romance.

http://www.bethmjames.com

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Writing Retreats

Two weekends ago, I went on a writing retreat with five other Chippewa Falls Area WisRWA group members. Getting away for the purpose of writing, brainstorming, and/or honing our craft was a great way to renew our dedication to what we love the most – writing.

Us Chip girls try to have a weekend writing retreat once a year. In the past, we have had our retreats at hotels with adjoining rooms. This year we rented a house near New Auburn, Wisconsin. Yep, on a lake. The house gave us ample space, and I would highly recommend it if thinking about your own retreat.

So, what do we do on our retreats? Besides making sure that we have enough food, snacks, and beverages (of all kinds) that are readily available, we create a scheduled plan for the weekend to make sure we keep on task.

The first thing we do after arriving and getting settled in is to have each person list what she would like to accomplish at the retreat. This could be writing 10,000 words, editing three chapters, brainstorming, creating an outline, or creating a synopsis. We will have at least three goals (or more) per person that are written on large paper and taped to the wall to keep us accountable (and so we don’t forget).

Based on everyone’s goals, our second step is to create the agenda for the retreat. The agenda includes time each day for personal writing, group brainstorm sessions, walks, meals, and cocktail hours. For example, we may eat breakfast at 7:00 a.m., write solo (personal time) for two to three hours, gather in the living room for the group brainstorm session, eat lunch, walk, and then write solo again until cocktail hour. After dinner, we’ll talk about our work, play one or more games, and catch up on personal events.

Throughout the day, we will look at the agenda (large sheet of paper also taped to the wall) and cross off what we’ve accomplished. We’ll also discuss if we need to make changes to the agenda for the next day. After having some writing time, one of us may need to brainstorm ideas with the group. We’ll also mark off the personal goals we’ve accomplished. Yes, we’re list people who love to check off tasks when they are completed. Strikethrough, star or check mark – it doesn’t matter.

At the end of the retreat, as we’re eating lunch (all the leftovers), we’ll see how much we’ve accomplished as a group. The best feeling in the world is to see how much we’ve accomplished. When it’s time to leave, we may be tired from writing, but we also feel satisfied and eager to continue the pace once we get home. I cannot wait for next year.

Beth M James

Novels based on strong characters and elements of romance.

http://www.bethmjames.com

 

 

 

Morning Coffee: Self-Publishing

A writer friend wrote this on her blog about self-publishing. She’s absolutely right! Creating and publishing a book takes dedication and time, but we love what we do!

Jane Yunker, Author

fallA couple weeks ago I wrote about my author friend Tina Susedik. This week I want to tell you about another, Beth James. Beth self-publishes and currently has three books available on Amazon. A fourth will be out soon…I hope.

Self-publishing isn’t for everyone, certainly isn’t for me, but I know a number of writers who do self-publish and I admire them for it. It’s hard work. You have to do everything. If you’re smart, after you write the book you hire a professional editor to go over it. Unless you have graphic artist talents you hire someone to do your cover art. Your techie side formats and downloads it to Amazon. You do all the marketing. You pay to have it printed and then you sell it, one copy at a time, at author events and festivals. It always amazes me how my self-publishing friends can find the time…

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Memorial Day

Anything military always makes me teary-eyed. I love watching the videos of American soldiers coming home after being deployed. It’s heartwarming to see them reunite with their families. I love watching the motorcycle rides parading down the highway to honor those who have served our country. Yesterday, we pulled to the side of the road to allow them to pass and to show our support.

It’s amazing what these vets have done for our country. I think about my uncles, my dad, and my brother who have passed on. They were proud to have served our country. And I think about my son who has been deployed three times, putting himself in danger and making sacrifices along the way.

And not to forgot all others who have served and continue to serve…I thank you for your service. My heart goes out to the parents who have had sons or daughters who did not come home. One in particular that I’m thinking about today is an EOD who served with my son. He will never be forgotten.

Vandenberg Memorial

Lessons Learned: One Way of Cruising

My husband and I recently came back from a cruise to the Western Caribbean. We absolutely loved it. This was our second cruise ever and our second cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). I’ve decided that I really like cruises. I like being able to:

  • Dine when and where I want to. We went with a group of friends, and we gathered every night to eat dinner together at one of their “included” restaurants. The last night on the ship, we had dinner with a show (that one we paid a little extra for). Since we weren’t eating until later on, Mike and I went down to the buffet for a small snack to hold us over. They were serving prime rib. Lean, juicy prime rib. How could we refuse? What a snack!

 

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Who knew? Sliced bananas with faces!

 

  • Have unlimited beverages. When you start drinking a few in the afternoon and then finish the evening with a few more (not to mention the drinks in between), those fun drinks can add up—if paying for them. At home, I normally drink beer. Not on these cruises. Give me beach drinks. I’ll worry about my weight later.
  • Attend the free entertainment. This last trip was awesome. In fact, the free entertainment was better than the two we paid for. Burn the Floor and Million Dollar Quartet were fantastic shows that had awesome dancers and singers. The comedians were funny and gave us a good laugh. Dueling pianos was fun as well. I had no problem watching one of the piano players. No problem at all…
  • Wear what I want. People wore all different kinds of outfits from fancy, sparkly, long gowns to shorts and tank. No one forced you to dress up. That made me happy because after a day in port, I liked wearing relaxed chic. I was on vacation. Comfort overruled.

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Cool dude wearing Mike’s glasses.

 

There were a few disappointing things that happened, but I can’t say that the events wrecked my trip. They were minor. In fact, I was double charged for the paid entertainment on the ship. When I called to explain the issue, the guy couldn’t help me yet (I had to wait a few more days to see if the credit went through). In the meantime, I booked our next cruise. Oh yeah.