Happy New Year!

With this new year, we’re thankful for God’s blessings in 2022, notwithstanding loss and upheaval. Going forward, we continue to be prayerful, hoping that 2023 will be a wonderful year for everyone!

How was December for you?

On a somber note, my dad had been cremated in November after his service on the 11th, and his urn was put into his crypt in early December, the one right next to my mom’s. Next, I’m arranging for a cameo to be put onto his crypt, just like the one I got for her.

Onto fun things.

Well, the Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young theme persists, with new furniture, including a massage chair.

Yay! I’d been wanting one of them for so long.

Back pre-pandemic, I was at the gym all the time, using the massage chairs, but when the gyms shut down, I got an exercise machine and broke out some old exercise mats, but we had no room for a chair.

With the new place, we can have an exercise room. That’s where the chair will go.

I’m knitting some runners for the furniture in the guest bedroom.

How’s the writing? I’m hoping for good progress this year.

My RWA-NYC group, they are some tough critics, so I’m back to revising the first twenty pages. This is the third time I’m submitting: once in October, then in December, and now in January.

I finished the latest revisions before Christmas, so I’m just waiting to submit to the RWA-NYC group. I wish they had the Google docs folder up early. Since I organize the folder for my ACFW critique group, I open up the folder right away. So, the January folder was available immediately after our December meeting.

I asked our coordinators for the RWA-NYC group if they’d be willing to upload the folder early. They were willing to, so I posted my latest excerpt there.

I’m so happy to get that out of the way.

Like the last project that’s in the hands of the developmental editor now, it will take a good bit of time to finish.

There’s no rush, it’s not as though I must finish right at this moment.

Have a great month!

Copyright Barbara James, all rights reserved.

Advent and Christmas

I almost forgot to blog! It’s the first of the month, and here we are, this week was the first week in Advent.

How was November for me?

So, I had a computer crash in October which made me want to forget about writing.

But my Reedsy editorial support pulled me off the cliff and extended my deadline for submitting.

I wound up finishing up the edits before the deadline and sending them in to the developmental editor.

Then I had another deadline to make, revising the first submission I made in October for the next work in progress. I got lots of feedback, so I wanted to revise the entire chapter. That took a whole day, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, just so that I could be ready for the submission deadlines of December 5.

And why was I so busy? Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young: “Our House,” link.

Have a great month!

Copyright Barbara James, all rights reserved.

Thanksgiving is Coming!

What’s that feeling when you are about a week or two away from the deadline to submit to your developmental editor, and your computer crashes, which means you’ve lost a week’s worth of work on the draft you just finished?

Major panic mode means it’s time for a repair or a new one, since yours is out of date now and Microsoft will no longer support it.

You’d been notified in the spring into the summer, but you’d been too busy to take care of it.

Urgh!

Fortunately, you have the latest draft you’d prepared before you lost the work.

Now why did I sign up to get a developmental editor before I’d finished revising and editing?

Not a rocket science move, I think.

This is November, and All Saints is here, on the heels of Reformation Sunday.

The Reformation isn’t on my mind now, but a new saint is. My dad died Halloween weekend. He’d been in failing health for a while. He passed away peacefully and quietly.

Love you, Dad, I’m sure Mom is happy to welcome you into heaven.

Here’s to having a great month with no crashes!

Copyright Barbara James.

Commemorating October

I hope you have a great October! Halloween is coming up and I have to get my candy corn!

So many people hate it, but I just love it.

September has been crazy for me. Things were so busy. I only got to page 5 of a 20 page edit from one of my critique groups for the writing project that’s taken up most of my time.

Thankfully, I can go onto the next project and begin those submissions to two different critique groups.

I have to read a submission from one of those groups and all the others from the other two.

Then I have to read for a writing contest.

Whew!

Am I busy, or am I busy?

But I can’t let normal life escape me. I have to get back into cooking and exercising. How good it feels!

I’m experimenting with a cookie recipe. I found cream cheese chips in the supermarket. I decided I’d make a very small batch of cookies, using 1/2 cup of butter, 1/4 cup each of white and brown sugars, 1 teaspoon each of baking powder and baking soda, and egg, a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, a bit of cinnamon, 1 cup of chips, and 2 cups of flour.

I put them into the oven at 350 degrees, for about fifteen minutes.

In the midst of this, I want to commemorate my mom, who died over three years ago this year.

This is her third birthday in heaven. I’m thankful for the blessing she was in being my mom.

So much of what I’m able to do today, it was through her hard work and support.

Thank you, Mom, and Happy third birthday in heaven.

Love you!

Copyright Barbara James. All rights reserved.

September is here–Welcome Fall!

It’s a favorite time of year. Not only because my birthday takes place in the fall, but I love the fall colors–the oranges, reds that emerge as the green leaves turn.

to me!

The light at the end of the tunnel? A joke, what if it might actually be an incoming train!

I edited the submissions I presented to the critique group and presented some of the earlier chapters.

I might need to go back and revise a whole story line.

Me right now: Yikes!

Or if I don’t do that, I might revise a few scenes for clarity.

Now what if I join another critique group? Am I crazy or what?

This book was a good read, it reminds me why Christian inspirational romance matters.

Here are two books that look interesting:

Someone I know is on a strict diet, she’s eating mostly vegetables. I joked, it’s like she’s eating rabbit food nowadays. She admitted it was true, but she said she’s not eating carrots. So what did I do? I got her a gag gift, a bunny rabbit with a carrot!

He’s giving her all the carrots she won’t eat!

She called me as soon as it arrived. We had a good laugh.

Have a great month!

Copyright Barbara James, all rights reserved.

August is here!

A staycation?

Does August feel like an odd month for you? It takes place in summer but there are no days to commemorate.

June has the first day of summer. July has the fourth, and September has Labor Day and the first day of fall, signaling summer’s end.

University and college students often move onto their college campuses during the course of the month while other folks tend to take vacations.

Anabel Taylor Hall, Cornell University

So what’s the writing life like? One critique group got the last of the submissions from the current draft of the work in progress, while the other group might be one or two submissions behind.

What should I do? Resubmit some older chapters I reworked? I don’t think I’m ready yet to work on the next work in progress, because it has felt stuck to me since earlier in the spring.

The irony is that in romance, high conflict is good!

That’s something I hope to work on soon.

The whole notion of high conflict in romance drew my attention to this book.

I asked my local library to get Brenda Jackson’s book. I was surprised when it came in, I’d forgotten it.

It’s on my Overdrive now!

Here’s Toni Shiloh’s forthcoming book:

This looks interesting!

Have a great month!

Copyright Barbara James. All rights reserved.

It’s July!

Here’s to a great Fourth of July celebration!

So what’s been on my mind lately with respect to the writing life?

Juggling acts.

How did it happen that I’m juggling three different submissions for my two different critique groups?

I think it’s a scheduling issue, and I might as well be directing traffic at an intersection.

One critique group is ahead of the other. This group has more people, and they are my most challenging critics. They will roast me, but I know for sure, that they are forcing me to think and re-think my storytelling.

When I get myself up off the ground from my walloping, I make the revisions to the first submission and then show the second group the stronger draft.

I then revise the second submission for the first group. It’s a fresh submission based upon the revisions from the first submission. Once the second group sees that second submission, I can then go forward with the third submission for the first group.

It looks like this: sixth submission, seventh submission, eight submission. And these are submissions based upon the rewrite I did after last year. I just wasn’t happy with my first draft and all the revisions I did, so this is my second draft that I’m revising with the groups.

Confusing? Complicated? Well, that’s what the writers’ journey is like.

Happy writing!

What books am I reading now?

These are Toni Shiloh’s latest:

Copyright Barbara James. All rights reserved.

It’s June, summer is coming!

How was May? My latest writing adventures?

My recent revisions felt daunting when I first glanced at my critique partners’ comments. Was it that we seemed to be meeting earlier than I’d anticipated and I never imagined I’d ever get the work done? Was it that I’d been distracted by some recent projects around the house?

Well, I finally got myself together and did the work.

It’s a fantastic feeling when I have a story line developed in the work in progress and my critique partners make a suggestion that can take the story in a whole other direction.

They haven’t seen the subsequent chapters yet, but this new direction is one I can work on over the next few days or so to get the revision on point for when they read it in a week or so.

I made the revisions on the current submission earlier than I anticipated, because I was eager not only to have them done before the next submission is due, but because I’m hoping to get input from the other critique group I’m a member of.

As for the other revision project that’s stalled, I have to think about some strategies.

So that gives you a sense of how my June will go.

Books I’ve been reading:

This book wasn’t what I thought it would be. It was for people who haven’t exercised at all and who were interested in starting. I liked reading about the studies, though.

I’ve never been persuaded by the “dream hoarders” language I’d been seeing in many discussion of social and public policy lately. I read the book that came out a few years ago that was instrumental in shaping this new way of looking at middle class people. I’m still not persuaded.

I think I need to read more romances.

Have a great month!

Copyright Barbara James. All rights reserved.

We’re in May!

Isn’t it exciting that we’re entering the middle of spring? Memorial Day is coming up in a few weeks, and for many people, that’s the unofficial beginning of the summer.

Since Easter Sunday was only a few weeks ago, here’s a picture of the specialty cake I bought that lasted the whole first week of the season. I’m not so daring as to have more cakes to persist until Pentecost, but I’ll survive. Smile.

How’s the writing? Well on that front, I’m persisting with the manuscript that I’ve been working on with my critique groups. That’s been going well.

As for the work in progress I wrote last summer into the fall and which I began revising in March, I’ve hit a road block. Something doesn’t seem right.Perhaps I need to change the whole story line, or I need to change what’s going on in the midpoint, but the revisions aren’t getting any easier, so it’ s time to sit this one out. I’ve been reading in the meantime, some of the books I mentioned before.

What else? Sanditon season two had me enthralled. I wasn’t posting about writing, but I was posting about the show. Georgiana is my favorite character. I read there will be a season three. Bring it on, I say, with many more seasons to follow, 4, 5, …

As for the reading front, check out the books I’ve been looking at lately. There aren’t too many romances. Here’s one by someone who used to be in my chapter. Perhaps a book on women and care giving and one on creating community? I’ve been spring cleaning, so I’m including books that fit into that theme. The last one is useful for making the argument that sweet and inspirational romances are excellent reads.

Have a great month!

Copyright Barbara James. All rights reserved.

April is here!

Do people still do April Fool’s Day?

Lent is coming to a close soon enough. Holy Week will be here in about two weeks, which means Easter is on its way.

Where on earth has the time gone to?

I’m enjoying the warmer days and longer days of more daylight!

I’m deep into my revisions of the current work in progress. I’ve made a goal of two chapters per week since some chapters require some heavy duty rewriting. So far I’m on target, thankfully, so that means I have to push through even though I know I’ll have plenty of distractions this week.

What it also means is that I’m not reading at all. Well, I read for my critique groups, but reading the novels and books I’ve bought and which have just been sitting there?

Not happening, it’s just a low priority in the midst of all my other responsibilities. I’ll get back to them later.

In the meantime, these are some new books I just learned about. Will I read them? I hope I will someday, eventually.

Continuing with the foodie theme, how are these for some desserts? These are cheesecakes–Irish cream and mint chocolate chip, from the Nuns of New Skete.

Have a great month!

Copyright Barbara James, all rights reserved.