May is here!

Memorial Day is coming up this month, the official beginning of summer in the U.S.

I missed posting on May 1. I don’t know why; I can’t begin to explain how I forgot. Distractions, distractions, distractions. That’s the only way I can explain it.

So, what were these distractions? Well, the usual life stuff, then my movie watching, the period dramas. I know I’ve really gone down the rabbit hole when I resubscribed to Netflix. For some years a long time ago, I had a dvd subscription, but I resisted getting a streaming service.

I finally gave in, just so that I could watch Bridgerton. Yes, I’m watching the adaptations of Julia Quinn’s regency novels that I read years ago.

I tell myself it’s research, and that’s true, again, how to get feelings into my head and into a scene, then onto paper.

Maybe it’s working. I made my latest submission to my writing class, and the instructor liked it. Yay!

Good news—I finally got the honorarium for some freelance reviewing I did of a nonfiction manuscript. What does that mean? More books!

I have a critique group meeting tonight and another next week. No one submitted for next week’s meeting, so I’m twiddling my thumbs, waiting for my next writing assignment for the writing class.

Otherwise, I’m working on a nonfiction piece, for a popular theological magazine. It’s been going well. This editor is one I’ve worked with before. I really learn a lot from the questions he asked, and I did so much reading just to get myself on track to revise better. Much thanks to him, in praise of good editing.

I’m also doing a confirmation class discussion group and some cooking for a local ministry.

Recent faith-based books I’ve been reading, and a look at some shelves from my new bookcase!

Have a good month!

Copyright Barbara James. All rights reserved.

April is here!

From our garden!

Daylight savings began in March, the flowers are blooming, and it’s good to see the sun set at around 7pm. The days are getting warmer, great for lightweight fleece jackets. I’ll clean my winter jacket and coats soon.

We had been waiting for some custom-made furniture. They finally came in and I began a spring-cleaning project, to donate all the clothes I don’t need anymore.

I’m talking about clothes that can still fit me, but I just don’t wear, and I can’t imagine I will wear again anytime soon. I found a dress that I had cleaned in September of 2010, with the tag still on it. Is that insane?

Do you like the stuffed animals? I have a few bears and a frog, in honor of a green car I had years ago. I nicknamed it Froggie, and so I had a frog I put in the rear-view mirror. The car is long gone, but the frog is still here! They are all on the new dresser.

Now that I have a gray colored car, I have a gray colored gnome! He sits in a basket on the back seat.

What else? I pray the Daily Office each morning as per Rite 1 of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, just figuring I would like it because it uses the older language that I find compelling.

Then I went to a Lenten Quiet Day for clergy in my area, and the bishop led us in Morning Prayer Rite 2. There were extra prayers I hadn’t seen in Rite 1. What does that mean? I’m sold, I’m going to pray Rite 2 more often.

Sanditon’s season 3 became available on the 19th, and I’ve been hooked. I binge watched the season the first night it broadcast, since I have all the seasons through PBS Passport. I’ve been rewatching the broadcasts each week then I’ve been watching season 2.

I just love it, the whole story line, of Charlotte and Alexander, but also and even more importantly, the character of Georgiana that got me from the first. Some think she was a character solely for modern audiences, but she was in Jane Austen’s unfinished Sanditon manuscript, and there were stories of that type back then, of free black people with familial ties to the aristocracy.

Dido Bell, great niece of Lord Mansfield

A free black woman and heiress to a fortune?

Sign me up to look at all the Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit conversations. Then the YouTube videos.

Georgiana preparing to testify in defense of her fortune

I tell myself it’s research for writing good G to PG rated romance scenes, the conversations with a look only, or the touch of a hand, the heartfelt conversations.


Have a great month!

Copyright Barbara James, all rights reserved.

March is here!

And that means spring is on its way. It feels like spring is already here, because the winter has been so mild. Except for a few cold days, it felt like fall. We’ve had no snow, only rain.

How has the month been? Well, my writing class is coming along. I really hope the instructor will offer an advanced romance writing class for me to work on my first draft.

I only have the first chapter that I’ve been revising, far less than the first draft I’ll need eventually, but I really appreciate the great feedback. I want more of it, so I want another class!

I got a surprise invitation to review an academic manuscript in my old field of study.  I asked if it was okay for me to participate, they said it was fine.

I grabbed it, even though I’m no longer in that field. Why? They’re paying me an honorarium that I can use to buy more romance books!


Otherwise, I baked for a parish outreach to a local shelter:

I’m thinking about ministry, and I’m participating in a Lenten quiet day. There’s a book or two I’d like to read.

Have a great month!

Copyright Barbara James. All rights reserved.

February is here!

How was your January? It had been time, I thought, to take a craft class, a class on romance writing. I’d listened to so many lectures and read so many books on improving one’s writing, plus I work with my critique groups.

I found one online and I registered. It’s going well. The day before the class began, I went to my local library, to see what they had on the shelves. Look at this:

A big sign advertising inspirational fiction plus smaller signs advertising the romance novels they carry.

What’s interesting is that the inspirational fiction section includes inspirational romances and inspirational women’s fiction published by Christian booksellers like Bethany House or Intervarsity Press. I saw Toni Shiloh, To Capture a Prince, and an author that interested me, Sharon Garlough Brown, who writes Christian women’s fiction: link.

I finally finished some books I’d been meaning to read, and I discovered a few more.

Here’s a picture of my prayer corner, with the new liturgical calendar I bought earlier in the month.

Some other projects? I’m thinking of getting back into sewing. The exercise room is a good place for storing my machine and supplies. What would I make? Aprons and curtains!

In the meantime, here’s a focaccia I made.

Have a great month!

Copyright Barbara James. All rights reserved.

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.


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.


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.