Lessons Learned: Weather

In a matter of two days – I went from tropical…


To a winter storm…


I think I like tropical better.

Beth M James – Novels based on strong characters and elements of romance.  http://www.bethmjames.com


Lessons Learned: To Do List

Yesterday I had a lot that I wanted to get done. I really wanted to work on my book edits, but I also knew that I had quite a few writing and household tasks that had (or I wanted) to do as well. And when I get overloaded, bringing on superwoman and do everything in a single day, I end up being less productive. I do the famous start one thing and then move on to the next without finishing the first.

Yesterday I decided to create a list to make sure that I gave myself time to edit and do other tasks. I know this sounds nerdy, but my list started like this:

  1. Edit 1-2 pages
  2. Get ready for the day
  3. Menu plan
  4. Edit 1-2 pages
  5. Eat breakfast
  6. Start laundry
  7. Edit 1-2 pages
  8. Sort out bills, pay charge cards
  9. Record pile of receipts into the check register
  10. Edit 1-2 pages
  11. Bank reconciliation for both banks
  12. Edit 1-2 pages

This is only the beginning. The above took me through the morning. What was nice about the list is that I didn’t have to think about what I should do next. I just followed it line by line. However, I do like this one as well:

Image result for image of a to do list

I didn’t get through all my tasks yesterday, but I’m now working on it again tonight. I filed papers, waited for my computer to update (grrr), went through emails, and wrote blog. Now that I’m done with the blog, guess what I get to do next! Yep, edit one to two pages.

Have a great week!

Beth M James

Novels based on strong characters and elements of romance.


Lessons Learned: To Be Inspired

At work, I overheard a project manager say to a developer, “You’ve inspired me today.” I heard this a few weeks ago, and it’s still stuck with me. The project manager said the comment after the IT developer gave her hope on one of the troublesome projects she’s managing.

For me, the word inspire offers a different perspective than simply stating to encourage or to motivate. I think of inspire as getting a breath of fresh air, of new hope, and of thanks for changing my outlook. I believe the project manager meant it that way too. I wasn’t involved in the conversation but just hearing the comment had made my day. I loved the word choice because it stood out from the norm. I’ll have to remember to use the word as well when I truly want someone to know how they’ve made me feel. Here’s to being inspired…

Image result for inspirational images without words

Beth M James

Novels based on strong characters and elements of romance.


Lessons Learned: Acceptance

Acceptance is important for good and bad situations – whether it’s indirect or not. By accepting whatever it is, you can then assess the situation and determine how to move forward. You would think that this is easy to do but for some it’s not. They’ll scramble, make up excuses, get angry, and maybe make bad choices.

For good situations, I know people who will immediately brush off the situation. Whether it’s a good event, an award, a compliment, or another person’s accomplishment. I had a situation about seven years ago when I won an award for Employee of the Year. I couldn’t believe that I had won the award. There were others who deserved the award. When I went up to accept the plaque, I thanked everyone. No speech. A few people were disappointed because I didn’t elaborate, but the director stated that I didn’t have to make a speech. Of course, in hindsight, I wish I would have said a few words. If I would’ve accepted that I had won, I would have been thinking about my speech as I walked up to the podium instead of wondering why me.

Image result for award acceptance

For bad situations, accepting what happened will help keep your emotions in order. It means that you know you can’t change the event, which then helps you focus on what needs to happen next. For example, if you’re late for work due to traffic, there’s not much you can do when your idling along with the other cars. If you accept that your stuck, you can think of what needs to occur next (what second route you can take or turning up the tunes to enjoy the music) instead of being angry at the people in the car or cars in front you when they can’t do much either. You don’t need to make a bad situation worse.

Image result for Traffic On Highway

Beth M James

http://www.bethmjames.com     Novels based on strong characters and elements of romance. 

Lessons Learned: Decorating Cookies

One of my favorite traditions throughout the Christmas seasons has been decorating Christmas cookies. My mom would have us kids and then our kids over each year to make the cut outs of Santas, reindeers, angels, snowflakes, Christmas trees, and wreaths. After the cookies baked and cooled, we would then ice the cookies before decorating with red and green sprinkles, chocolate chips (a must have), red and green frosting, and cinnamon hots. We always ate too many cookies, and we would leave with slightly upset stomachs. But it didn’t matter. We had that time together.

Decorating 1993

After my mom had her stroke and my dad passed away, there were a couple of years when we didn’t decorate cookies. Time was lost as we reorganized the holiday season into new traditions. It wasn’t until my daughter insisted that we decorate cookies that I knew we had to keep this tradition going. The time together wasn’t about eating the cookies as much as spending time as family.

This year, we decorated cookies at my daughter’s house. Even my son-in-law joined in to help decorate with pink and blue frosting, baby bottle sprinkles, chocolate chips, red sprinkles, and cinnamon hots. Yes, there was a little mix up on what was bought for decorations, but it didn’t matter. We still had fun and enjoyed this time together. And luckily, we were able to eat a few of those cookies before my grandson, sick with a cold, sneezed over the entire plate of finished cookies.


Beth M James

Novels based on strong characters and elements of romance.



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.


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.