Happy New Year

Happy new year to all. For me, this is the official start of the year. I give myself the first day of the year to reflect, transition, and then open the door into the new year.

Last year was rough. Not long into the year, my mom went into hospice care. She steadily declined, becoming weaker in mind and body due to breaking her leg/hip, dementia, and the stroke she had six years previous. It’s not easy seeing someone you love become so lifeless. She died at the end of October and passed peacefully. I still quietly mourn her.

Yesterday was spent at home. Mike and I enjoyed waking up with our grandson’s bright smile and playing dinosaurs and Legos with him. We did small things around the house, spent time together, and watched a movie. No big fanfare, which was nice. We had time to think and simply enjoy the day.

Today is about starting the year with recharged energy. I’m looking forward to what each day brings. My challenges this year will be balancing life and work. I’m ready to take both on, spending quality time with family, friends, and co-workers/writers. I’ve also been editing the second book in The Calling trilogy, which I’m geared to publish this spring.

Let’s make this a great year.

Beth M James

The Calling

Gitana – Life Plan

Happy Veterans Day!

Last August and September my son went on a mission near Berlin, Germany to collect the remains of our World War II heroes missing in action when their planes crashed. What an honor to be able to bring those heroes home to their families and to give them closure. I can only imagine the emotions that ran through my son when dismantling the planes to get at the remains and to find the personal items, knowing the pilots had been in the midst of all the fighting. How they were men with families and ones that they’d never see again. I’m emotional just thinking about it.

Here’s to all our Vets who’ve served our country. Let’s not forget them.

Writer’s Digest Contest

Writer’s Digest Contest

Last year I decided to sign up for the Writer’s Digest’s Self-Published e-Book Awards. I entered the contest and then mailed them three copies of my book “Gitana – Life Plan.” They said they would notify the winners at the end of the year. When the first of the year came around…heavy, sad sigh…I knew I wasn’t one of the winners.

Today, when I got home from work, I did a quick review of my emails. I had three emails from Writer’s Digest. The first email I opened was a greeting and a document of general marketing tips for entrants. I thought that was nice. The next email was a thank you for participating, a note saying that narrowing down the winners was difficult due to impressive talent, and that my score and judges commentary would be arriving shortly. I quickly went to the third email to see how I did.

The scores were 1 (needs improvement) to 5 (outstanding) for the following categories: structure and organization, grammar, production quality and cover design, plot, and character development. I received the highest score, 5, for all categories. Yay! My heart sang. Here is their commentary (in their writing):

“The cover is gorgeous. Love the mix of blues and grays to convey her blue mood. Also, the pier being a bit rubbly, with weeds growing, conveys her state of mind, that she has been walked on, that unwanted things grow (memories), and the model’s thin and slumped posture shows the weight of the world. Well done, conveying so much as well as a sense of place. Very engaging, and a strong impression to bring the reader to the book.
Great opening! The reader can see the smarmy doctor’s tan, the glitzy car, feel his tense presence and her tension in his presence. The reader tightens up at their meeting, which is very good when you make the reader react emotionally and physically in just a few sentences, that’s excellent craft.
Excellent imagery tied between Gitana and her scenery, such as when she looks up to the sun and the author ties it to the sailboats looking up to the sun and sky as well. Author does an excellent job with place, and giving Gitana a presence in it. It’s very 3D, very well-done.
The author excels at using sensory details, how things smell, taste, feel, textures, even the bend of a shoe. Great talent with this essential element of a novel that is an experience, not just a read. We are there with the characters. Beautiful inclusion of nature and animals. This is a real world she’s created.
BRUTAL that the ex gives her a bottle of Diazepam, especially with her history. Reader gets a visceral reaction, feels Gitana’s anger and hurt. This was a brilliant idea on the author’s part.
All of the characters are likeable and engaging, written well with differentiated voices and movements; the author has done great work in creating each of them as the surrounding characters. Excellent work with the supporting cast. Especially with Rex, who is a hoot, and it’s especially good that he’s distant and hesitant with her at first, then grows into a relationship with her. This shows maturity in the author’s writing, not just laying supporting characters in a scene like a paper doll. These supporting characters have depth and motivations, worlds of their own. Well done.
While there are just a few slow spots that are not at all a detraction from the book’s quality, the pace is good, the author moves the plot along well and naturally without any gimmicking, and the romantic parts are done naturally, lacking in clichés. Enjoyable to read and organic to the story.
It’s especially enjoyable to start with Gitana’s sadness over her infertility, her inability to create a child, then evolve into being a creator of art. Nice that this journey allows her to give birth to art.
The author does a good job of evolving Gitana from that mind-lock of imagining her ex with the other woman, the obsessive thoughts, to finding more freedom from that. We sense her strength growing, her learning from her life’s mistakes even with some backslides, and the surprises throughout truly take the reader for a ride. Nothing predictable here. A great read, with great characters, in a great world.
Well done.” —Judge, Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards

I didn’t win the big prizes or get honorable mention, but I was extremely happy with what I did receive. In a world with a million plus authors and zillions of books on the market, it’s nice to know that my scores were the highest given and they liked the book. They made my day! 