Blog Awards #29: The Vincent Ehindero Blogger Award

Thank you so much, Bhagyashree, for nominating me! Check our their blog, inkandthoughts.com, for lots of fun and engaging posts.

Here’s the post where I was nominated: Vincent Ehindero Blogger Award


The Rules:

1. Thank the person that nominated you with a link to their blog

2. Make a post of the award (with photo) 

3. Post the rules 

4. Ask 5-10 questions of your choice

 5. Nominate 10-30 other bloggers (or more) and notify them. 

6. Follow Vincent Ehindero @ vincentehindero.wordpress.com (to qualify for free blog promotion and shoutout) and more blogging opportunities.


Questions I Was Asked:

  1. Is there a cheesy movie you secretly love to watch?
  2. What is the funniest thing you have seen a stranger do?
  3. What would you choose; an act of chivalry with your favorite hero or a chance to read the personal diary of your most loved villain?
  4. Which is the one thing (item) you never share with anyone?
  5. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you come across an amazing blog?
  6. Which is your spirit comic character?
  7. How would you describe your blogging journey so far in three words?

My Answers:

  1. Grease (1978) is one of my favorite cheesy movies.
  2. The funniest thing I’ve seen a stranger do is … I can’t remember anything significant.
  3. I would choose an act of chivalry with my favorite hero. I would love to do this alongside Captain America.
  4. One item I never share with anyone is my wedding rings. They’re probably too small for most people.
  5. When I come across an amazing blog, I want to read all the posts that have been published.
  6. My spirit comic character is Stargirl.
  7. Fun, challenging, inspirational.

Questions For My Nominees:

  1. What was the last thing you watched on YouTube or an equivalent video streaming site?
  2. If you could costume play (cosplay) as any character, which one would you pick, and why?
  3. What year did you start blogging?
  4. Which book would you buy, and give to a friend?
  5. What is the oldest thing you own?
  6. Do you have a dream animal that you want to have?
  7. If you could get paid a minimum of $60,000 per year, what job would you happily do or perform?
  8. What type of house would you build if everything was already paid for?
  9. What’s your favorite flower?

My Nominees:

  1. Kristian – Life Lessons Around The Dinner Table
  2. Sara – The Bibliophagist
  3. Destiny – Howling Libraries
  4. Phoenix – Penable
  5. Tiana – The Book Raven
  6. Ariel Lynn – Writing Radiation
  7. Caz – Invisibly Me
  8. Didi Oviatt
  9. kyera
  10. stoneronarollercoaster
  11. Book Princess Reviews

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Adventures #6: The Ebony And Fire Writing Club – What Projects Are You Working On?

Welcome back!

Buckle up, friends. Expect a post about The Ebony and Fire Writing Club coming to you every week for the foreseeable future!

I’m so thrilled with the reaction and support that I received earlier this week when I announced that I was joining the club in my Writing Adventures #5 post. If you’re interested, contact Tiana or Phoenix!


Here’s the link to Tiana’s newest post: The Ebony and Fire Writing Club: What Projects are you Working on?

Here’s the link to Phoenix’s newest post: From The Ebony and Fire Writing Club: Tell Us What You’re Working On!

Also, here’s the link to the main club page: The Ebony and Fire Writing Club


Here’s my details!

My Current Writing Project

I’m currently editing my draft of “Experiences From Camp.” This is the novel that I started during my first-ever NaNoWriMo in November 2012. It took 6 1/2 years, but I finished the first draft on March 30, 2019. I’ve sent it to several people to read and critique since then, and I’ve received some really good feedback.

For Camp NaNoWriMo April 2020, I printed out the first draft, threw it in a binder, and went to town with a blue pen and hot pink Post-It notes. Now, coupled with the reader feedback I’ve received so far, I’m translating it into a second draft on the computer. Once the second draft is done, I’ll send it back to my readers. I have set a deadline of sending the second draft to my readers no later than June 30, 2020.

Writing Advice

You don’t have to write a novel! You may enjoy writing poetry, fan fiction, blog posts, short stories, or free verse. It doesn’t have to end up as a book or something published. As long as you’re writing, that’s amazing! You have a gift. And, since you’re on WordPress, you’re creating!

I recently wrote a short story for a contest, and I had so much fun! It was a great way to stretch myself and actually submit something.


What are you working on?

If you feel comfortable, tell me what you’re working on in the comments! I’ve always enjoyed supporting others and being a cheerleader.


Stay tuned for another Writing Adventures post, coming soon!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Adventures #5: The Ebony and Fire Writing Club

Image Credit: H.R. Phoenix

I’m embarking upon a new adventure! It’s been well over a year since my last Writing Adventures post, but this one is special.

Here’s the link to Tiana’s original post: The Raven Writer’s Accountability Club

Together with Phoenix, she’s starting a club of writers. It’s so exciting!


After her original announcement, they changed a few things. Here’s Tiana’s update post: Announcement! The Ebony and Fire Writing Club

Here’s the link to Phoenix’s post: New: Join the Ebony and Fire Writing Club Now


If you’re interested, click on either one the Ebony and Fire Writing Club posts, and comment with your name.

The idea is those who want to participate will do a weekly post about the progress they’ve made with their work.

Tiana and Phoenix are also setting up donation pages through Ko-fi (Please note: This part is completely optional, it’s not a requirement to join) to give club members special access to writing advice, tips, tricks, and inspiration.

I’m really excited to participate! I’ve admired Tiana since she started her blog, and I’m looking forward to getting to know Phoenix better, along with the other club members.


What about you? Have you joined any blogging clubs or groups? What abour on social media?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #105: “I Wrote A Research Paper About The Publishing Industry … Here’s What I Found”

Image Credit: The Reedsy Blog

I thought Charis Rae’s research was so awesome, I wanted to share it!

Here’s the link to Charis Rae’s post: I Wrote A Research Paper About the Publishing Industry … Here’s What I Found


Charis brought up some excellent points and statistics. Here are a few of them:

  • Nearly 100,000 books were published by major publishing companies in the United States in the year 2019.
  • In 2018, more than 1.6 million books were self-published digitally and physically.
  • The odds of getting a publishing contract is 1 in 4 (25 percent), according to a 2014 report.
  • If you choose to self-publish with Amazon, you will get roughly 70 percent of the profits.
  • A traditionally published author will only receive 6-10 percent of the royalties.

Reading her analysis, it’s pretty obvious that self-publishing is the easiest way to get your book out to potential readers. However, you also face stiffer competition because there are far more self-published titles available by volume, and for less money. If you haven’t, just take a glance at Amazon Books, plus their Kindle Store. It’s overwhelming.

That said, there’s other booksellers, and publishers, than just Amazon. Many traditional book publishers still exist – HarperCollins, Hachette Livre, Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Kodansha, Scholastic. In terms of other stores, there’s Barnes & Noble, Walmart, ThriftBooks, Books A Million, 2nd and Charles, Waterstones (UK), Strand Books, Book Depository, and even eBay.

In addition, you can also request Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) through sites like NetGalley. Several of my friends have done that.

I was really impressed with Charis Rae’s research and analysis! I hope you take the time to read her post.

Also, consider your sources when you purchase books. Of course, I will always recommend borrowing books from the library or getting e-books if you’re into that (I’m not, but that’s just a personal preference). Amazon makes it really easy and convenient, but I encourage you to think outside the box a bit, and consider other sellers once in a while. For example, I bought a copy of Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson from a friend’s online store through eBay!


As for me and my writing journey, I’ve been studying both avenues for the last several years. I personally want to go the traditional route first, mainly for the experience because I’ve never attempted it. If I find myself struggling after a period of time, I’ll consider the self-publishing route. I’m excited to get my work out there!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #209: Camp NaNoWriMo April 2020 Recap

Image Credit: NaNoWriMo

This was my fifth Camp NaNoWriMo session!

This Camp session was different. After getting valuable feedback from my two main readers of my first draft of “Experiences From Camp,” I knew it was time to start the first round of editing.


Original word count: 51,960 words (161 pages)

On April 1, I printed out my first draft for the first time ever! I made the 161 pages double-sided, hole-punched them, and put it in a binder.

Almost every night for the first week, I sat down with a blue pen and pink Post-It notes, and read through the draft.

I added page numbers, designated chapters, page breaks, questions about the plot, sentence structure, and recommendations from my two readers.

I was very pleased with my efforts. I faltered a bit after the initial read-through, but I read through nearly 52,000 words!

Because I was editing this time, and not really writing, this Camp session was very different. However, I met my goal!


Final Thoughts

I have a lot of work to do now that I’ve completed the first round of editing. I also started using one of the beautiful journals that I received for my birthday last year to ask additional questions about the work and jot down other notes and thoughts.

My main goal is to send the second draft of the novel to my two readers, Amanda and Mike, by the end of June.

Before I do that, though, I need to translate my handwritten edits and other thoughts from my journal into the Draft 2 document on my computer. For some reason, and I think it’s mainly fear, I’ve been resisting doing this for the entire month of May. However, I do have a couple of days off of work coming my way, so I’m hoping to finally sit down (Well, stand up at my desk, LOL) and knock these edits and additions out!


Have you done NaNoWriMo in November before?

Have you done Camp NaNoWriMo before?

Let me know what you think!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #248: “April AND May WIP Writing Prompt Challenge (extended): The Temporary Insanity of Our Empty Streets … CONTINUED”

Image Credit: The New York Times

Here’s the link to Didi’s challenge:

April and May WIP Writing Prompt Challenge (extended): The Temporary Insanity of Our Empty Streets … CONTINUED

As an Author/challenge joiner: All you need to do is use the characters from your WIP (work in progress), or even a published works, and plug them into the given scene for a short story style post. It can be funny, serious, deadly, really just whatever you want as long as it’s true to your characters (as in, what they would actually do in this situation)!! It’s a fun way to be creative with those personalities that you as their creator love so much. It’s also a fun way to introduce them to the world and your blogs, without giving away your plots and twists… Just pure ‘meet my characters, and get to know their personalities’ separate from their book.


Donning their cloth masks, Brennan and Kristin both sighed. A simple trip to the grocery store wasn’t simple anymore. It hadn’t been for weeks.

“Okay, B., let’s get in and get out. This is so stressful.”

Brennan reached over the center console and squeezed Kristin’s hand. He wanted to kiss her so badly. Usually, kissing started melting the stress away.

“I know, K. But, we’re here, together. We’re being safe. Right?”

Kristin winced. Everything had gotten harder. She was under the same roof as Brennan, in his own apartment, for the foreseeable future. She should be thrilled! But, then, the lockdown started. And it was driving both of them crazy.

Sure, they’d had a lot of sex, and were generally enjoying spending more time together. But, the simplest things were now so difficult. Brennan had been furloughed. He picked up two different virtual assistant jobs to make up for his one day job. Sitting behind a computer all day was draining. And Kristin, wanting to help keep the lights on and contribute, was able to score a temp job. But it was all online, too.

The apartment was big enough where they could separate for their jobs when they needed to. But, being stuck in a 750-square-foot apartment for days, weeks, and now months, was increasingly challenging.

“Let’s go over the list one more time, and then let’s get this over with.”

Brennan sighed. He loved Kristin, that part was obvious. But, this lockdown was not going the way he’d hoped. His emotions were all over the place. And he felt obligated to help keep Kristin from experiencing a full breakdown. He could see it coming – She was teetering on the edge.

“Okay, milk, eggs, bread, paper towels, bathroom cleaner, toilet paper, if we can find any …”

Kristin sat back in the passenger seat. Brennan saw the tears.

“K., look at me.”

She turned. Two tears spilled out, soaking into the blue floral fabric.

“I love you. I say that to you so much because that’s one thing that won’t be changing. Okay? We can do this. We’re together.”

Kristin sighed. “I love you, too, Brennan. I’m sorry. I feel like all I’m doing is apologizing.”

Brennan stroked her hand, remembering that he needed to use hand sanitizer again before they got out of the car.

“I know you’re sorry. I’m sorry, too. I feel like I haven’t been apologizing enough, you know?”

Kristin leaned over and brushed her lips to his forehead. “What do you feel you’re sorry for?”

Brennan’s eyes turned serious. “I feel bad for inviting you down here, with our colleges closed and shuttered, and then the full lockdown hit. I feel guilty. Maybe selfish, too.”

Kristin laughed slightly. “As frustrating as this lockdown has been, I can’t imagine being alone, living alone, right now. We’re together. We’re healthy. And we’re doing a lot of different things. Your apartment hasn’t been this clean, like, ever. We’re both working. There’s really nothing to feel guilty or selfish about.”

She paused. “Now, let’s get this trip over with. I want to get home, wipe everything down, and then get busy. You know, that busy. That’s the only selfish thing I want.”

Brennan smiled, squeezed her hand, and turned the car off.

“I’m feeling selfish like that, too. Lead the way, darling.”


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #208: “3 Story Treehouse, Scotland” (Reblogged)

I wanted a treehouse so badly as a kid. We had so many trees in our backyard, but I never got my wish. So, I wrote about them, daydreamed about them, and got overly excited when I saw them on TV or in movies. I certainly climbed trees and enjoyed every tire swing, rope swing, and hammock that I came upon, but nothing really compares to a treehouse.

This image caught my eye immediately. Did you know that you can stay overnight in treehouses in certain areas? I would love to do that someday.

But, for now, I’m staring at this photo and daydreaming.


If you could build a massive treehouse, what would you put in it or do with it?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Just Wunderlust

3 Story Treehouse, Scotland

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Getting Personal #207: Hope in Disaster Writing Contest

Image Credit: Charis Rae

I adore Charis Rae!

Here’s the link to her post, and how to enter the contest: Enter the Hope in Disaster Writing Contest.

Submissions are open now, through May 23.

Please note the age range. Charis Rae’s contest is open to ages 13-25.


If you’re outside that age range, like me, you can enter Bella Putt’s contest. Check out her post and guidelines here: I’m Co-Hosting A Short Story Contest. The submission deadline is the same – May 23.


Good luck to all who enter!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #103: “The Elegance of Kindness”

Image Credit: Found on Gratitude and Trust

This post started with an email and a YouTube link. Thanks, Momma V.!

Al’s mom sent this link to me, asking if I’d seen it: Story Behind the Song: The Rainbow Connection


I hadn’t, so I clicked on it. It’s a bit dated now – It was posted in October 2016. However, what I clicked on and witnessed was nearly 12 minutes of magic and appreciation. It was an interview where Paul Williams discusses how “The Rainbow Connection” came to be. In the middle, Williams mentioned his website, Gratitude and Trust, along a post he wrote called “The Elegance of Kindness” about Jim Henson. I paused the video, grabbed a Post-It note, scribbled that down, and continued the video.

Visiting the website a little while later, I noticed that Paul posted it in September 2013. But, dates don’t matter.


As I started reading, all I felt was warmth when I digested Paul’s words. What an amazing life he’s had as a songwriter. He’s also a recovering alcoholic, a major feat by itself. And, to meet AND work with Jim Henson! Wow.

He told the same story in the video as he did in his blog post, about not wanting to throw any surprises at Jim when he and Kenny Ascher were beginning to produce the music for The Muppet Movie (1979).

Jim smiled, and reassured Paul with these words, “Oh, that’s all right Paul. I’m sure they’ll be wonderful. I’ll hear them in the studio when we record them.”

Hearing Jim say that immediately allayed Paul’s fears and worries. He also told this story in the liner notes when the soundtrack was re-released for the nearly 35th anniversary of the movie. And, in a way, this meeting paved the way for one of the most memorable and warm songs that has ever been created.


But the point here is “the elegance of kindness.” As I was telling Al about the video and the blog post, he immediately nodded and said, “Yes, exactly. That’s how many people have described Jim Henson. How kind he was.”

Jim Henson died in 1990. I wasn’t quite two years old when he left the world. But, I’ve learned who he was. And what an impact he has made! In his short 53 years, he became a legend. He created the Muppets, helped develop characters for Sesame Street, produced The Muppet Show, started the Jim Henson Foundation, and founded Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.


I made the same connection that Paul did about Jim. With kindness comes trust. With kindness and trust, magical things can bloom and grow. I don’t think “Rainbow Connection” would have been written if Jim Henson didn’t trust Williams and Ascher. There have been so many issues with trust, time and time again, with the world of entertainment. And it’s not limited to entertainment, either.

I write this post as the pandemic continues. I’m frustrated and appalled at the President of the United States and other leaders who have spouted clear lies, and they have incited great fear among millions of people. Millions of people who have gotten so many mixed messages at the worst possible time. No wonder I have trust issues! And there’s not a shred of kindness from the top. Sadly.


However, my spirit has been renewed. There is kindness, still.

Some Good News with John Krasinski is AWESOME!

I’ve loved Steve Hartman since he started reporting with CBS News in the 1990s (Remember Assignment America? And throwing a dart at a map of the U.S.?). A while ago, he did a four-part series called Kindness 101. Not only are his kids adorable, but he’s sharing many of his stories, old and new, and reminding everyone who’s watching what the important things are in life. Character. Gratitude. Empathy. Optimism. Purpose. I’ve watched all of them, and I’m excited the series is continuing.

Just today, I read a father’s account of his daughter, Emerson, and her letters. Her handwritten letters and decorated envelopes. She wrote a letter to her mailman, Doug, expressing her appreciation for him to help her mail her letters. Now, it’s gone all over the country, through thousands of people and postal workers. I’m inspired to be a pen pal again.

And, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Sesame Street’s theme is now “Smarter, Stronger, Kinder.” The elegance of kindness can, and should, be embraced as young as possible. But, you’re not too old to start. You’re never too old to embrace something like kindness.

Enjoy a special performance of “Rainbow Connection” from Kermit that posted to YouTube last week.

Stay safe, stay well, friends.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #204: 10-Year Blogging Anniversary

This was a happy sight to see today!


Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!

You registered on WordPress.com 10 years ago.

Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.


It’s kind of wild to think about – I started with WordPress to continue the passion that was kindled during a college assignment. In my Computer-Mediated Communication class in 2009, we were assigned to start a blog, on any topic we chose, that we maintained for the entire semester. That original blog, on a different platform, was about movies that I found in the college library that I figured my classmates had never heard of. It wasn’t much at the time, but it planted a seed.

Ten years ago, Hot Shot Headlines didn’t exist. I started, and then deleted, at least two other blogs. I lost my way, and my passion, for a while.

But, I stuck with it. I never really stopped writing, even when I wasn’t blogging. And it’s been an incredible journey.


Thank you, everyone, for your contributions! I truly appreciate all of my readers and followers. Every comment you write is significant to me. I try my very best to respond to all of them!

Best of all, I have made some amazing friends through the WordPress community. So, here’s to you, Kristian, Jenna, Tony, Simon, Ariel, Vinnie, Antonio, Lori, Sara, Didi, Tiana, Destiny, Greg, and others. Thank you for the words you write, the stories you share, and your friendship!

Cheers to 10 more years!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂