The Game Blocks of Life Copyright 2021 Beth M. Jones Book Cover Design Copyright 2021 Leah Merae Jones
Last night I finished the second edit on my new fiction book, The Game Blocks of Life.
Our talented daughter Leah, who is a graphic designer, designed the front cover for me. (Pictured above) I bought the image of the colored blocks on iStock, where I always find the perfect image for my book covers.
My goal now is to get the third edit done by this Friday (October 22) , and then print out the manuscript for a more thorough edit. There’s something about printing out a manuscript that helps you to find content, spelling, and grammar mistakes easier. Then I’ll do the final proofreading before publishing it at Amazon.
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!
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
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!
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
Windchime 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
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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 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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!”
The proof print, physical book, that is…for my newest book on marriage, Stained Glass & Marriage: Reflections of Light & Hope by an Imperfect Wife.
This is the 12th book I’ve written and this time I’m testing Create Space as the POD (print on demand) printer to self-publish my book. I wanted to make sure their books don’t have inferior quality to the company I’ve been using.
So what’s the verdict?
The book’s glossy cover of the stained glass window is beautiful, just like I thought it would be. If you’re choosing between a matte finish and glossy, I’d encourage you to get the glossy. It looks and feels so much prettier and smoother. I love the cover!
However, some authors (or their readers) prefer the matte finish. There’s actually quite a bit of controversy over matte vs. glossy. Some people think glossy screams “self-published.”
I disagree and I LOVE the glossy cover. It’s in your court; you decide what you and your readers like best. I’ve always lived by this maxim: IT’S YOUR BOOK. Why write and publish a book that you don’t even LIKE?
As far as the interior quality of the book (the pages, margins, text, pictures, etc.), I think the ink seems a little faded on the words in the text. It’s not as dark black as I’d like it to be. But it’s acceptable and it’s not going to stop me from using Create Space from now on.
The formatting inside the book is fine, which was one of my concerns. You want to make sure the formatting looks professional in both your print books and your eBooks.
If this is not your area of expertise (and it’s not mine), then I highly recommend you OUTSOURCE the formatting.
Keep in mind formatting for a print book is very different than for eBooks. Also, formatting for the Kindle is different than for the Nook at Barnes and Noble. You can find out more here.
When I was first starting as a writer, I didn’t have one of my books professionally formatted inside, and you can really tell a difference! (It didn’t look professional. I won’t tell you which book, though!)
Live and learn! Now I’m sure to hire professionals with each book I write and publish. I focus on my areas of strength and anointing from God: speaking and writing, and I outsource the rest!
PUBLISHING TIP: Hire a professional formatter, editor, and graphic designer if you self-publish! You want your book to look as professional as possible.
A poorly written, formatted, designed eBook or book can get bad reviews and/or much less sales.
Also as Christian believers, we want all we do to be done with excellence, because we are representatives of Christ.
I hired a formatter at Fiverr to format itspecifically for print at Create Space, and a graphic designer at Fiverr to design the front cover, spine, and back cover specifically for Create Space.
Some book snobs would sneer at me using Create Space and Fiverr. They compare Create Space to be the “Walmart” or “Dollar Store” of POD companies. But since this is saving my husband Ray hundreds of dollars, he’s not sneering at all.
Do I prefer to use my previous graphic designer, formatter, editor, and POD? YES! I love them and I want to use their wonderful, excellent services! But this time I’m going a different route…and this way will make a dream I’ve had for three years now come true.
If this printed book had looked absolutely horrible and unprofessional, I wouldn’t do it. You just have to make sure you have the right people helping you at Fiverr! Hire people with high ratings and reviews!
Research all you can about Create Space. Talk to your author friends who have used them before. Ask questions. Create Space also has great customer service. They were very helpful and fast when I emailed them.
I’m VERY excited about this, as now it will be more financially feasible for me to get all 12 of the books I’ve written in PRINT–physical copies of my books that I can HOLD in my hands (like a baby!) and sell on the back table when I speak!
After I wrote this book on marriage, at Amazon I saw a stained glass picture of Jesus doing the miracle at the wedding in Cana, turning water into wine, and ordered it. It arrived today, when my marriage book arrived. I didn’t think that was a coincidence, but very significant–like a confirming sign, a little nod, from God about this book and His purposes for it.
The picture is beautiful, although it’s much smaller than I thought it was. I believe it is a prophetic picture for my own marriage, that God is going to do a miracle of healing and restoration for us.
You can read the story about Ray’s and my very painful, almost 23-year marriage in the eBook for your Kindle at Amazon, Stained Glass & Marriage: Reflections of Light & Hope by an Imperfect Wife, by clicking here.
I’m going to hang the picture in our dining room. Today I’ve been doing the happy dance because now I can pursue a dream I’ve had for three years: getting all 12 of my books in print, physical books. Yay!
I’m working on proofing the print book, finishing the process at Create Space this week, and then I will let you know when it’s available for sale.