Serene September Writer’s Get-away

Black woman writer at cafe
Woman writer at cafe

Do you love writing? Do you want to write a book? Joseph Epstein, essayist short story writer, and editor, said at the beginning of the new millennium that 81% of people want to write a book and that statistic likely still holds true! It’s time to write YOUR book!

I started a new, part-time job outside the home this year, so I’ve been extra busy and blogging hasn’t made the top of the to-do list.

But I decided this weekend to just sit down and blog, and wanted to share about my Serene September Writers’ Get-away I hosted and spoke at in fall 2018. Four Christian women writers attended, and it was so fun that we want to do it again this year!

Bethany House
Bethany House

The venue for this writers’ retreat was at the Bethany House in Butler, Missouri. It’s about an hour south of Kansas City, MO. This is a beautiful, fully-furnished house with three bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms in a quiet neighborhood, that has been completely remodeled inside and out.

It is a relaxing, quiet place to pray, refill, and be refreshed. The women and I love it!

Outside porch with rockers
Outside porch with rockers

You can sit outside in a big rocker on the wrap-around porch, make some popcorn and  enjoy a chick flick on TV in the living room, watch the birds with your coffee in the morning in the sunroom, or sleep in late in the master bedroom, queen bedroom, or upstairs bedroom decorated in a children’s theme, which is where I prefer to stay because it’s so cute and comfortable!

Living room to watch a good chick flick!
Living room to watch a good chick flick!

Master bedroom

Queen bedroom

Sunroom

The sunroom is my favorite room. I love sitting in there in the morning, drinking my coffee, journaling, and watching the birds. The sun comes streaming in through the windows.

coffee in Bethany House cup
coffee in Bethany House cup

 

Windchime in sunroom
Windchime in sunroom

 

Stenciling in sunroom
Stenciling in sunroom

It is so peaceful. I’ve stayed at the Bethany House several times overnight just to be alone, think about my life, and pray. The owner of Bethany House has pretty decor like this candle and angel below to set a tone of serenity and prayer for the house’s atmosphere.

candle and angel
candle and angel

I love buying gifts for people and bought the ladies attending a gift bag, each in different colors. I included goodies like a journal (to jumpstart their writing!), Sharpie ultra-fine, black pens, sticky notes, hand lotion, a little bag of tissues with sayings on them like “Seize this moment” and “Find your fearless,” chewing gum, and a Dove chocolate bar. They loved them.

Goodies for ladies’ gift bags
Facial mask, chapstick, and chocolates

My books in gift bags, How To Write Your Book Fast: Making Your Writing Dreams Come True, and 
Walking With God (a book on prayer)
Journal & Kleenex with encouraging captions

I used my book, How To Write Your Book Fast: Making Your Writing Dreams Come True, as the primary resource for this writers’ retreat.

How To Write Your Book Fast: Making Your Writing Dreams Come True
Cover art: Copyright 2016 Beth Jones

I used my daughter Leah’s violin music stand to set my teaching notes on and we used used the formal dining room as our classroom and to eat. Both worked perfectly!

Me teaching at writers’ retreat
Writers who attended the retreat at the dining room table, where I taught the retreat.
Here we are eating the salad lunch on Saturday.
Four women attended the retreat: Krista, Liz, Missy, and Simmie. Liz and Simmie are local author friends. I am friends with Krista and Missy on Facebook, and really enjoyed meeting them.
 I’m so glad they all came!


On Friday evening, I taught the first session of the retreat. Then we went out to eat supper at the local Mexican restaurant, El Charro–fun! When we came out of the restaurant, we saw a beautiful night sky!

Afterward, the ladies made popcorn and enjoyed the chocolates I’d brought them for the weekend, and stayed up watching chick flicks in the living room and talking. I think this set the right tone!

We enjoyed chips and salsa (my addiction!) and Mexican for supper the first night of the writers’ retreat at the local El Charro restaurant.


Beautiful night sky

The next morning, I fixed the ladies breakfast (scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, yogurt, coffee). They were free to sleep in as long as they wanted! 

Two of the ladies have a house full of kids, so they really needed this time of R & R!

The house has all the amenities of a nice hotel–including little shampoos and other toiletries and soft, white robes!

Breakfast on Saturday morning
Fresh fruit: Strawberries and blueberries
Simmie and I enjoyed fresh peaches!
The ladies at breakfast Saturday morning

One of the attendees, my friend Liz, generously brought bagels from Einstein Brothers in Overland Park, Kansas, as she and her friend Simmie drove together to the retreat. She bought a variety, but one unique kind is their bagel with red onion, tomatoes, capers, and cold-smoked Nova Lox salmon. Delicious!

Yummy bagels that Liz brought from Einstein Brothers


One of the attendees, Missy, and I talked prior to the retreat and I asked her to share a devotional on Saturday morning in the sunroom after breakfast. It was so good and she did a great job! 

Missy, one of the attendees, sharing the Saturday morning devotional

I had never met Missy in person or heard her speak before, but I am led by the Holy Spirit and my gut. Neither have ever led me wrong! 

I’m so glad that Missy shared! It was anointed by God!

Missy sharing the devotional in the sunroom and Simmie

I taught several hour-long sessions during the weekend retreat, but I also gave the ladies some needed free time to be alone to pray, think, write, or to talk with each other. On Friday and Saturday night I went home to sleep, since I live right here in town and that gave the ladies more privacy.

The beautiful ladies at the Serene September Writers’ Get-away:
Krista, Liz, Missy, and Simmie

The sessions included these topics: Why do you write, Getting Started, Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing, Writing Tips, and Resources that I use each time I write a book (I’ve written 17 and am about to write my next one. You can find out more about my books at my Amazon Author Page at http://www.amazon.com/author/bethmjones.

This retreat was intense with a lot of information for beginner writers, but we also took time out for FUN! That weekend was near my birthday (September 20) and Liz’s was that weekend (September 23) , so we decided to celebrate both of ours that weekend.

I brought cupcakes and Liz and I gave each other a gift. I loved the Paparazzi earrings and necklace that Liz got me! They have such cute jewelry for just $5! The ladies sang happy birthday, too!

My pretty floral gift bag from Liz
The pretty flower Paparazzi earrings that Liz got me

I felt led by God to also offer Holy Communion at the writers’ retreat. This may sound unusual, but I desire to put God first with everything I do. He is the one who has given us this gift of writing, and I feel it is important to dedicate the writing of our books, blogs, and everything we pen to Him, for Jesus’ glory.

Communion at writers’ retreat

I ended the retreat by answering any questions they had about writing. I encouraged them that I’d be first in line to buy their books!

One of the ladies, Missy, emailed me this after the retreat: “We leave for vacation in Angel Fire, NM for the next six days and I have plans to write and take photos for my book project (an inspirational “coffee table” type book about all that I have learned “In the Valley” of this year) while I am there!  I can’t wait to just start!”

Another lady who attended, my friend Liz, has written an exciting adventure novel and a devotional book on the Lord’s rest, both which she plans to publish soon. I’m so excited for her!

Before the retreat, I also prayed for God to give me a Scripture and a song for each lady there. We concluded the retreat by praying for one another. This was one of the most powerful parts of the retreat, where the ladies and I received prophetic words for each other. We were all ministered to and cried! God is so good!

Krista praying for Missy
Missy praying for Simmie

Krista praying for Simmie
Liz praying for Krista
Simmie praying for Liz
Liz sharing song with Missy from her phone
Anointing oil and candle from Israel, decorative mirror & hearts

I brought a few visual aids to the retreat for the teaching times, such as my Cinderella glass slippers (this is my signature speech) and the Curious George monkey that was a gift to me years ago when I attended renown speaker Florence Littauer’s CLASServices speaker/writer retreat. She said always be curious!

Curious George that Florence Littauer gave me and other speakers at CLASS retreat for speakers & writers. Always be curious!

For my birthday, my family gave me some fresh beautiful red roses and sunflowers, which are my favorite kinds of flowers. They made such a gorgeous centerpiece in the sunroom! 

The ladies loved looking at them all weekend!

Beautiful sunflowers and roses that was my birthday gift from my family. It made a great centerpiece in the sunroom!

If you’d like me to speak at your women’s conference, retreat, or event sharing my powerful testimony or about writing your book, I’d love to come encourage you and your friends. You can contact me here at my website.

One of the ladies at the retreat, Missy, gave this testimonial:

“Thank you for all of your planning and prayer and preparation for the amazing retreat this weekend. Your passion for encouraging women to find and follow God’s calling to WRITE is simply contagious. Your willingness to be transparent, genuine and compassionate toward each of us was a blessing. Every detail was covered, everything we could possibly have needed was provided for, and every question we had was answered. You went above and beyond to ensure that we were thoroughly blessed, carefree and able to remain focused on what God was speaking to our hearts this weekend. Saying “Thank you” doesn’t seem like enough!  I have buried this dream for long enough. Because of this weekend, I am moving forward with three projects immediately, and I came home with a list of up to 20 additional writing projects to work on in the future. How amazing is that!”

Liz shared her experience about this retreat: “Beth had a great writing retreat in a lovely retreat center. She paid attention to a lot of little details, which added to our experience and had some great teaching time which was helpful.  I personally needed more time to write. But I ran into some personal snags which kept me from writing. The rooms were great and the food was great, too! Loved it!”

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Killorglin: flies, a spider, a moving bed, and a French couple!

This is post #11 of a blog series I’m writing including pictures of the recent amazing trip I took with our precious, beautiful daughter Leah. Here are posts:

#1, My daughter Leah and I went to Ireland,

#2, Ireland: Dreams Come True,

#3, We visited Bunratty Castle in Ireland,

#4, Bunratty Folk Park: the waterfall, the lamb, and the fairy village,

#5, The Gorgeous Cliffs of Moher,

#6, Galway Girl,

#7, Galway Girl, Part 2,

#8, Treacherous Corkscrew Hill, and

#9, The ferry in Kerry County.

#10, Torc Waterfall

We took so many pictures with our phones that I need to break up the posts, to make it easier for you to read, as I know you live a busy, hectic life like mine and you don’t have lots of spare time!

I hope these blogs inspire and bless you. I thank my Lord Jesus Christ, who made this amazing opportunity and prayer possible.

The recent trip I made to Ireland with my precious daughter Leah for the first time in our lives was incredible. I had booked our trip through Great Value Vacations, choosing their B & B’s package, which I believe was the right choice. It allowed us to travel throughout the southwest of Ireland at different Bed & Breakfast places.

I read lots of reviews to decide which ones to stay at as we traveled in a direction that resembled a Shepherd’s Hook. Every one of them was immaculately clean, with a full Irish breakfast served in the morning and tea/coffee and cookies in the afternoon to welcome us there.

Road in Killorglin
Road in Killorglin

There was only one B & B that we stayed at where I couldn’t wait to leave! It was in the town of Killorglin, which is located in County Kerry, located on the famous Ring of Kerry and The Wild Atlantic Way. It is founded on the River Laune, known for its salmon and trout fishing, and the Reeks District is renown for outdoor activities, mountain walks, and sports activities.

I loved the canopy of green trees driving to this B & B, pictured above, as well as the unusually beautiful roses in the driveway. It was beautiful.

gorgeous roses
gorgeous roses

 

yellow roses
yellow roses

There were palm trees and beautiful, majestic, blue-purple mountains in the background. It was one of the prettiest places we visited.

mountains
mountains

The owners of this B & B near Killorglin had a sheep farm; they had a sheep dog, a breed of dog that Leah loves. To my amusement, they also had a cat that looked just like my black cat Natalya. She even had green eyes and the little tuft of white hair on her chest like Natalya’s!

sheepdog
sheepdog

 

The cat in Ireland that looks just like my black cat Natalya!
The cat in Ireland that looks just like my black cat Natalya!

 

black cat in Ireland
black cat in Ireland

I noticed a pretty topiary plant at the entrance of the front door, which are plants pruned or shaped into certain forms. To me, this was a symbol of the entire house’s decor: elegant.

topiary plant
topiary plant

As soon as we knocked on the door of this B & B and entered the house, though, I noticed right away one disturbing thing: flies. HUGE flies–everywhere! Maybe it’s because this was a sheep farm. Leah said it was because they had the front door open when we first arrived. I assume this was to let in fresh, cooler air; most places in Ireland don’t have central air and heat.

Even though there are flies in the United States, LOL, and we have had flies in our house at times if the door is left open (especially in summer), the flies left a really bad first impression in my mind. I tried to just ignore them and be gracious, mindful that I was leaving an impression too–as a guest and an American.

The hostess was wonderful and so welcoming. She had tea and cookies for our arrival, as did the other B & B hostesses. However, she didn’t have enough tea and sugar set out for us. I wondered about this, as she knew we were coming (along with other guests there).

The room she gave us was beautiful: two single beds, as I had requested. It had large windows letting in the sunlight, and the decor was in beautiful, lacy white.

Killorglin B & B
Killorglin B & B

In fact, the room was so beautiful and clean and WHITE that I was afraid to touch anything. I didn’t want to dirty it with our muddy boots!

white lace
white lace

 

white satchel with lavender
white satchel with lavender

Leah was intrigued with the pretty lamp with faux glass on our table beside the beds, that resembled a chandelier.

"chandelier" lamp
“chandelier” lamp

We brought in our luggage and settled into our room, and then decided to go into the town of Kilorglin, which was only a few kilometers away. Leah really liked the fine dining restaurant that we went to there. They were so polite to us and seemed to go out of their way to serve us well. It also had a very nice atmosphere.

Restaurant in the town of Killorglin
Restaurant in the town of Killorglin

 

Killorglin restaurant table lamp
Killorglin restaurant table lamp

They had HUGE cheeseburgers, which we both got. As usual, it was served with some type of potato, so we chose French fries. We noticed that a small, fresh salad is often served with any entree in Ireland, which I enjoyed.

Leah ordered a drink called a “Double Dutch,” consisting of gin and watermelon flavor. She liked it. I love the pretty glass bottles which water is served in and the little table lamp, pictured above.

huge burgers in Killorglin
huge burgers in Killorglin

The older couple in the picture below chatted with us, with all of us laughing over how big the cheeseburgers were!

Leah at restaurant in Killorglin
Leah at restaurant in Killorglin

 

Quaint town of Killorglin
Quaint town of Killorglin

We sat awhile in this restaurant. Leah seemed to relax here. Then we went back to the B & B, and as Leah was doing her college homework, suddenly a giant spider fell on her bed and then ran under it. We both screamed. I tried to kill it with a shoe, but to no avail. We couldn’t find it. I think it came through the window, which we had opened to cool off the room. I prayed the Irish spider wouldn’t crawl on or bite one of us during the night!

Then I went into the bathroom, which–oddly for a B & B–was across the hall. I got locked into the bathroom! Leah and the owner had to help me out. The owner tried to tell me that I just wasn’t unlocking it correctly, but Leah told her she had trouble with the lock, too, when she tried to come out. This is definitely something they need to fix if they are going to have a B & B for guests!

As I tried to lay down to sleep, each time I rolled over, the little single bed squeaked and moved, bumping into the wall! There was a couple in the room next to ours, with a little child. I was afraid the noise was going to wake them. I felt frustrated. Despite the spider, Leah liked this place. This was the one B & B that I could not wait to leave!

Killorglin bed
Killorglin bed

There was another full Irish breakfast the next morning (you could also order other items of your choice). We met other guests staying there, among which there was a young French couple. To my delight, I was able to speak to them briefly in French as we were leaving. It blessed me to be able to show Leah that if you study a foreign language, even a little bit, you can converse with foreigners. I need to brush up on my French again—and maybe learn Gaelic, too! (And Spanish!)

I apologized for our noise to the couple who were in the room next to us, and explained about the squeaking bed and then the couple. They said I didn’t wake them or their child, and laughed about the spider. Then they shared their own horror story of having a flying roach in their hotel when they traveled to Hawaii.

The hostess came into the room then to serve us more hot coffee, smiling and pleased that her guests were laughing and obviously enjoying themselves, but having no clue what we were laughing about. After my incident with the locked bathroom, I didn’t have the heart to tell her about the spider!

 As I looked later at the key that was supposed to unlock the bathroom, I thought how Jesus is the key to everything in our lives! After we left there, Leah and I laughed about the things that happened at this B & B, but at the time it wasn’t funny! But this place stands out as one of our vivid memories in Ireland!

Jesus is the key
Jesus is the key

I decided that the next morning we’d retrace our steps and go back to the town of Killarney to shop, which was only about 25 kilometers from Killorglin. In my next post on this Ireland Blog series, I’ll blog about the town of Killarney which I loved and share pictures of beautiful Saint Mary’s Cathedral with incredible stained glass windows.FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Treacherous Corkscrew Hill

This is post #8 of a blog series I’m writing including pictures of the recent amazing trip I took with our precious, beautiful daughter Leah. Here are posts:

#1, My daughter Leah and I went to Ireland,

#2, Ireland: Dreams Come True,

#3, We visited Bunratty Castle in Ireland,

#4, Bunratty Folk Park: the waterfall, the lamb, and the fairy village,

#5, The Gorgeous Cliffs of Moher,

#6, Galway Girl, and

#7, Galway Girl, Part 2.

We took so many pictures with our phones that I need to break up the posts, to make it easier for you to read, as I know you live a busy, hectic life like mine and you don’t have lots of spare time!

I hope these blogs inspire and bless you. I thank my Lord Jesus Christ, who made this amazing opportunity and prayer possible.

“I find that romance is for readers. I want adventures; they are for the living.” –Moryah DeMott, Timeless

Doolin Clare Hills
Doolin Clare Hills

Any time you step out and do something new and different, you’ll face anxiety or fear. Some of my fears about going to Ireland was about mine and our daughter Leah’s physical safety: terrorism or being the victim of a crime; getting sick from some disease; one of the planes crashing (I actually love flying, but this is always possible); and my biggest fear was me learning to drive on the left side of the road, in the right front seat–and possibly having to drive in hard rain, because it rains a LOT in Ireland! (I dislike driving in rain or bad weather!)

I conquered all these fears traveling to Ireland, but one of the scariest times we had there was driving up Corkscrew Hill to our B & B near Doolin.

Although they are called “Clare Hills,” they are really more like mountains. And even worst, it began to rain as we drove up the steep, treacherous hills!

Driving through mountains in Ireland
Driving through mountains in Ireland

When we arrived at our B & B later, the owner Mary told me that they do have “driving rains” in the hills, so bad that you can hardly see out the windshield as you’re driving. I was thankful that it was not raining hard like that, although it was still stressful driving on the winding roads in the rain.

Doolin fields
Doolin fields

The speed limit often read 100 km ( about 62 mph). There was NO way I was driving that fast in the mountains! Cars were whipping fast around the curves, appearing suddenly and freaking me out. I gripped the steering wheel tightly and prayed.

Leah was telling me to not drive TOO slow, as that was dangerous, too (especially for cars behind us). But I kept my speed between 40 to 60 km! I was being extra careful, as I did not want to wreck our rental car!

When the GPS showed that we were within five miles of the B & B, I stopped in a little town for us to use the restroom–and for us to enjoy an ice cream cone. I’d watched videos of Ireland before traveling over there, and had heard that the ice cream cones were delicious–and they are! They have square pieces of chocolate in them.

Ireland's delicious ice cream cone
Ireland’s delicious ice cream cone

Leah wanted to know how I could “spot” stores so fast that had ice cream. I told her about the big, plastic ice cream cone signs outside the stores.

plastic cone sign
plastic cone sign

I was stressed out from having to drive in the rain up the winding mountain roads, and just wanted to get to the safe B & B, so I hurriedly ate my ice cream cone (the word “gobble” comes to mind!). To my chagrin, Leah seemed to be taking her sweet time, slowly licking her ice cream cone. When I urged her to hurry, she told me she was not going to rush through eating it.

Looking back now, this is extremely funny to me and I laugh about it. When Leah said this, I immediately felt convicted by God for trying to hurry her. I needed to just slow down and savor this surreal moment of being in Ireland with our precious daughter as she enjoyed her ice cream. I calmed down and waited, as we sat on a bench outside the store and she ate her cone.

When we arrived at the B & B, we saw that the owner had two beautiful, brown horses in a pasture. Leah is an animal lover and one of them came to her right away.

Beautiful horse that came right away to Leah
Beautiful horse that came right away to Leah

 

Leah and the horse near Doolin
Leah and the horse near Doolin

All the hostesses of the B & B’s in Ireland were so nice, but this B & B’s owner, Mary, was mine and Leah’s favorite. (Riverdale Farmhouse near Doolin) She had a true gift of hospitality and made us feel so welcome to Ireland. As usual, there were gorgeous roses outside. Roses, flowers, trees, and grass thrive in Ireland due to how often it rains.

Riverdale B & B, Doolin
Riverdale B & B, Doolin

When we arrived, Mary had hot tea and cookies ready for us, which was such a blessing after the long, stressful drive there. The B & B owners serve the tea in fine china cups. Many of them also had these beautiful, antique glass bottles to keep drinking water in for their guests.

Tea and cookies
Tea and cookies

Later that evening, Leah and I also tried her chai that she bought at a pharmacy in Galway, when I purchased a natural sleep aid there similar to Melatonin (I had trouble sleeping in Galway). I had saved my Biscott cookies from our international plane flight, so we ate those with the chai. Leah and I decided that we would keep the relaxing habit of afternoon tea when we flew back home to the states.

I was so proud of Leah for doing her college homework each night while we traveled in Ireland! She made an A in this class, and is now taking her third course in her graphic arts college program. The natural sleep aid knocked me right out, and I slept great here!

Enjoying Leah's chai
Enjoying Leah’s chai

One of the things I was very impressed about with the B & B’s in Ireland is how neat and spotlessly clean they are. While I no longer have old-fashioned taste (Victorian, antique furniture), the B & B’s are pretty and the beds are comfortable. I booked one room with two single beds at each B & B, although this room had a queen-size bed and a single bed. I feel the advantage to B & B’s versus hotels is that there is generally more privacy and they are less expensive. 

The B & B's in Ireland are neat and very clean
The B & B’s in Ireland are neat and very clean

 

Mirrored dresser
Mirrored dresser

 

Pretty floral light at B & B--I thought our daughter Heather would like this.
Pretty floral light at B & B–I thought our daughter Heather would like this. She loves flowers, and her name is that of a purple-blue flower.

I was very tired that night and really didn’t even want supper, nor did I want to face driving in the mountains in the rain, but Leah did want something to eat. Mary told us about pubs in Doolin, only about 2 km, so we went to one. Leah ordered a sweet potato soup that came with soda bread, and I ordered a tuna salad, that came with a different type of bread. The portions were huge!

I was disappointed that Leah and I never heard a live band playing at one of the Irish pubs…maybe next time we go! The pub looked typical: a group of men sitting around talking, watching sports on TV, and drinking a Guinness beer. (Guinness beer is made in Ireland and you can tour the famous factory in Dublin. Leah and I never tried one while there.) The men gave us some odd looks when we came in and just ordered food! Guess we weren’t their typical pub crowd!

Leah's sweet potato soup
Leah’s sweet potato soup

 

bread at the Doolin Pub
bread at the Doolin Pub

 

tuna salad at pub
tuna salad at pub

Mary made an amazing full Irish breakfast for us the next morning, but Leah requested just fresh fruit and yogurt (she feels the full breakfast is a little much!). A full Irish breakfast generally consists of an egg, bacon (which is really more like the US version of ham), sausage, fresh fruit and yogurt, baked tomatoes, mushrooms, and some type of bread and/or scones with jam. The fresh orange and grapefruit juice were delicious!

fresh fruit juice
fresh fruit juice

I really enjoyed our stay at this B & B. Mary gave us directions to reduce a lot of driving time to the Killarney National Park, by us taking the ferry. This was the first time that Leah had ever gone on a ferry and she thought it was interesting. In my next post in this Ireland Blog Series, I’ll share pics with you of the ferry ride–and the beautiful Torc Waterfall in the national park, which was one of the things I really wanted to see in Ireland!

Doolin stone bridge
Doolin stone bridge
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