Getting Personal #220: Reflections, on My Birthday

Image Credit: lilyandval.com

This is my fifth birthday reflection post! I can’t believe I started this annual tradition in 2016. I’ve enjoyed reading the posts from 20172018, and 2019.

Here we are, 2020! I mentioned in my 2019 post that it had been a roller-coaster ride. Well, 2020 has been one for the books! And it’s only August!


We celebrated having Phineas and Ferb in our lives and our home for the first year in December. They have truly brought so much joy to our lives.

The biggest change toward the end of 2019 for me was changing jobs. I resigned from my analyst position at Riverside on August 13, 2019. That was a significant moment for me. When I was hired in 2012, I thought I would be with Riverside for 10+ years. I saw legacy employees everywhere. I lasted 6 1/2 years, which is now impressive to me, mainly because of the 30-mile-each-way commute I drove every day, five days a week, for 5 1/2 of those years. It got old. But I loved what I did.

An opportunity in Norfolk presented itself in February, and I had my first interview pretty quickly. Months went by, and by the middle of July, I’d figured the team had hired someone else. Lo and behold, I got a call for a second interview at the end of July. I interviewed with the vice president of the department, and I was hopeful, but it was hard to not get excited. I was offered the job a few days after my birthday. I started my role as the Managed Care Contract Analyst for Sentara Healthcare on September 3, 2019.

The first few months, until Christmastime, were difficult. I asked myself several times if I’d made the right choice. I had a couple ugly breakdowns, snot-crying, all of it. But, after the holidays ended, I finally started to feel at peace. I wasn’t the new girl anymore, because a new director came on board before Thanksgiving. I was starting to mesh well with my team, and it was remarkable to notice the differences between the two health systems. As I drove the 14 miles to work in Norfolk, rather than 30+ miles to Newport News, I felt more at ease.

Then, on March 17th, everything changed again. We had our last in-person team meeting, a quick huddle in the afternoon. Because of the virus that we now know as COVID-19, many people in our office were asked to begin working from home, effective immediately.

I set up my personal laptop on one of my parents’ old card tables in my home office, and seethed for the first two weeks. I was miserable. This virus was not only scary, but everything that I enjoyed doing was taken away almost instantaneously – Having date nights with Al at restaurants, movie theaters, hugging my family, traveling, regular meetings for P.E.O. and AAPC, and running the computer and projectors for church services on the third Sunday of every month. Our 20th Anniversary blood drive in April was cancelled because the church was shut down. My extroverted side was scared, sad, and incredibly anxious.

However, as time passed, I pulled myself up out of moping in Al’s old desk chair and started looking at the positives. Al and I were both incredibly fortunate to not only still have our jobs, but that we were both able to work from home. I bought an awesome sit-stand desk on sale, and Al did the same. I bought a computer monitor to mimic my two screens in my cube. Al and I downloaded all the grocery store apps and started ordering online. My anxiety started to ease. I dove into editing the first draft of my first novel for Camp NaNoWriMo in April. I spent a lot more time with Phineas and Ferb. I started getting my home office into shape.

Now, having nearly five months of this “new normal” in the rear-view mirror, I’m happier. I’ve stayed productive at home with work, blogging, my novels, P.E.O., AAPC, and other obligations. We’ve saved a ton of money because of the reduced need for gas, car maintenance, and tolls. Sure, our grocery budget increased, but I think a lot of people did that. Fortunately, and most importantly, everyone in our immediate families has stayed healthy and safe. My 94-year-old Grandpa left Florida, moved in with my parents, and sold his condo within five weeks.

We put a new roof on the house and garage. We’ve started making plans for new siding, gutters, and windows. I accomplished my Camp NaNoWriMo goal for July. I’m primed to finish the second edit of my first novel for my alpha readers by the end of August. Al and I will celebrate 10 years together on September 4th. While we can’t celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary at Galaxy’s Edge in Disney World this fall, I bought the official cookbook, and can’t wait to spend a few days off with Al in November to celebrate.

Cheers to 32!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #111: “50 Best Films About Writers, Ranked”

Image Credit: Medium

I stumbled upon this article when I was researching a daily film challenge post for Facebook. The question that day was: “A film where a character has a job you want.”

My answer: Finding Forrester (2000)


Here’s the link to the article about the 50 best films:

50 Best Films About Writers, Ranked |Flavorwire

Now, granted, this particular article was published in 2014. But, I wanted to take a closer look at these movies and offer my thoughts.

50. Sylvia (2003) — I have not seen this.

49. Finding Forrester (2000) — I have seen this movie, and I like it. I want to watch it again.

48. Total Eclipse (1995) — I have not seen this.

47. Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994) — I have not seen this.

46. Deathtrap (1982) — I have not seen this.

45. Henry Fool (1997) — I have not seen this.

44. Manhattan (1979) — I have not seen this.

43. Barfly (1987) — I have seen pieces of this movie.

42. The Pillow Book (1996) — I have not seen this.

41. My Left Foot (1989) — I have seen this movie, and I like it.

40. American Splendor (2003) — I have seen pieces of this movie.

39. Swimming Pool (2003) — I have not seen this.

38. The Front (1976) — I have not seen this.

37. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) — I have seen this movie, and I like it. I want to watch it again.

36. Ruby Sparks (2012) — I have seen this, and it’s a good movie!

35. Impromtu (1991) — I have not seen this.

34. Kill Your Darlings (2013) — I have not seen this, but I want to.

33. Contempt (1963) — I have not seen this.

32. Prick Up Your Ears (1987) — I have not seen this.

31. Adult World (2013) — I have not seen this.

30. Julia (1977) — I have not seen this.

29. Poetic Justice (1993) — I have seen pieces of this movie.

28. Fellini’s Casanova (1976) — I have not seen this.

27. Shakespeare in Love (1998) — I have seen this, but it’s not my favorite.

26. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) — I have seen this, and it’s an excellent movie.

25. Midnight in Paris (2011) — I have not seen this.

24. Iris (2001) — I have not seen this.

23. Before Sunset (2004) — I have seen pieces of this movie.

22. The Door in the Floor (2004) — I have not seen this.

21. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) — I have seen pieces of this, and I want to watch it in full.

20. Misery (1990) — I have seen this, and I want to watch it again.

19. Before Night Falls (2000) — I have not seen this.

18. Deconstructing Harry (1997) — I have not seen this.

17. The World According to Garp (1982) — I have seen pieces of this movie, and I want to watch it in full.

16. The Hours (2002) — I have seen this movie, and it’s good.

15. Naked Lunch (1991) — I have not seen this.

14. Starting Out in the Evening (2007) — I have not seen this.

13. Bright Star (2009) — I have not seen this.

12. Young Adult (2011) — I have seen pieces of this movie, and I want to watch it in full.

11. Certified Copy (2010) — I have not seen this movie, but I want to.

10. A Man For All Seasons (1966) — I have not seen this.

9. The Shining (1980) — I have seen this movie, and it’s good.

8. Providence (1977) — I have seen pieces of this movie, and I want to watch it in full.

7. Sunset Boulevard (1950) — I have seen this movie, and it’s good.

6. My Brilliant Career (1979) — I have not seen this movie, but I want to.

5. Adaptation (2002) — I have seen this movie, and it’s excellent. I want to watch it again.

4. An Angel at My Table (1990) — I have not seen this.

3. Wonder Boys (2000) — I have seen this movie, and it’s excellent. I want to watch it again.

2. Barton Fink (1991) — I have seen pieces of this movie, and I want to watch it in full.

(1) Reprise (2006) — I have not seen this movie, but I want to.


What do you think about these 50 movies? Let me know!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

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 🙂