Sunday, March 26, 2017

ROW80: Happy dance at home!

Today's Sunday and time to check in for A Round of Words in 80 Days, the writing challenge that knows you have a life. We're supposed to be taking a break between the first round of 80 words and the second, with no more check-ins until April 2, but I'm checking in each Sunday. Because IF I stop, I truly do stop!

I'm doing that happy dance because (ta-da) I'm finally healthy again. After being nasty sick for over 4 weeks, the life force has returned. I leap out of bed and can get stuff DONE. Yippee. OK, ok, so sometimes in the afternoon, there's a little slump. But mostly, I'm back, still sipping hot tea to ease that lingering tickle in the throat.

More good news. I finished revising Section 04 (32K words), and Section 05 of Rivers of Stone, the last section has only 9K words. This means no more (fictional) facing white water or plodding through snow, as my characters come down the Great Columbia River to Fort Vancouver and the end of the story!

First sight of Mount Hood on the Columbia River
(called Mount Timm in 1846)
Painting by James Everett Stuart (Artnet)

Progress this week:

  • Revision: 13 chapters this week; added 1,173 words.
  • Marketing: Updated photo on all platforms. Handed out bookmarks.
  • Other: Finished a scrappy comfort quilt, met with writers' group, walked x3. Almost ready to resume swimming.
Goals for the coming week:
  • Begin last section, Rivers of Stone.
  • Marketing: Persevere with one more step.
  • Other: Work on Leah's recipes, quilting, meet w/writers' group. And swim!
May you ALL have a great week!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

ROW80: Sunday check-in at home

Today's Sunday. Time to check-in for ROW80, A Round of Words in 80 Days. 

My sister called this afternoon. It's 92 F in Tucson, quite a lovely comparison to Spokane's 37 F this morning. Guess we got a high of 54 F today. Not too bad for closing in on spring. Here's a pic of the wetlands near our house. Yep, that's snow on the ground, but I did see a few red-winged blackbirds.

We're still exhausted from our trip, still recovering from colds, but I did get a little more done this week (including mopping the kitchen floor). 

  • Wrote 1,600 words this week, revising and writing. Got some research done as well to resolve some dratted questions. It's summer, 1846, and Cat is slogging through mosquito-infested plains, somewhere south of Winnipeg.
  • Reviewed marketing materials and goals: 3 hours.
  • Wanted to resume exercise 3x this week. Walked 30 min/2x.
  • Completed promo for Spokane Authors.
  • Highlight: Met with writing group for the first time for wonderful, critical feedback.
  • Shelved Quilt Fiesta article as it's simply too bland.
For the week ahead, still keeping it simple as I seem to run out of stamina each day, especially in the afternoon, so more writing, more work on marketing, and that's about it!

I hope all you writers are working hard, meeting your goals, and enjoying each day. Thank you, Eden and Shan, for continuing to keep us organized! Check out what we're up to (or join in) on Facebook HERE or at our website LINKY HERE. And have a great week!

Upper Fort Garry on the Red River, now Winnipeg
Catriona arrives here August, 1846
That stone wall is 15' high!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

ROW80: Home, Sweet Home (more or less)

Yes, we drove a thousand miles home, arriving exhausted on Friday, March 3, just a little over a week ago. Nasty colds slowed us down considerably, but finally, I'm picking up the pieces, the car is unpacked, and I've resumed writing.

Though I only wrote a little over 500 words this week, today's big achievement was learning that Gurlay died of measles, not the smallpox. Did you know that one virulent strain of the measles affected the lungs and circulation, turning the victim's fingers and toes blue? But my heroine is finally off the Plains and just about back on the Saskatchewan brigade heading west from Norway House.

Goals for the coming week remain relatively unchanged: Write 1,000 words to finish Section 04. Other goals: Don't quite know if I have the stamina but before next Sunday: 

  • Meet with writing group this Weds.
  • Work on one marketing activity this week.
  • Resume exercise x3/week.
  • Draft promo for Spokane Authors' April meeting.
  • Finish article on Quilt Fiesta.
I'm pretty excited about quilting again and started my first machine applique . . . a Row by Row pattern of Cape Fidalgo and Mount Baker. Here's a snippet.

Quilt in progress March 2017

It's also great to be back in my own kitchen. Made a broccoli quiche last week and will try a mushroom one this week. Have a great week, everyone, and I hope you are grateful for your health, stamina, family, friends, and -- the joy of writing!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

ROW80: Weds check-in Somewhere north of Stockton . . .

Maybe life has returned to "normal" as I'm checking in on both Sunday and Wednesday. Thank you, Shan Jeniah, for double-posting the check-in link at the linky AND on FB.

ROW80 Progress/Goals for Week 8:
  1. Wrote 1,009 words since Monday 2/27. Now editing Chapter 5  (Section 4). These revisions are coming too easily, making me doubt myself. Ah well, maybe I could call this a first draft revision and just keep moving forward! 
  2. Plan to write monthly blog post for Insecure Writers Support Group due today. Optional March question: Have you ever pulled out an old story and reworked it? How did that turn out?
  3. Need to finish article for Country Register.
  4. Read at least 6x for ROW80 and IWSG. So far read 2x.
Snippet from today's writing -- just for fun as Cat continues disguised as a boy on her journey from the Plains to Norway House in 1846. Cat, left behind with an ailing guide, Gourley while Canadian artist Paul Kane goes for help, was rescued by two men from the fort.

“Three days,” said Cat. “Somehow I kept Gourlay on the cart, and we headed north. I didn’t know if the wolves or the Sioux were going to get us, and then we got to the Stinking River. At first, I couldn’t figure out how to cross with him in the cart.”

“No river had a better name.”

Cat kept talking, as if she couldn’t believe she was with people again. “Mosquitoes everywhere. All muddy. No place to sleep. Our horse kept getting stuck in the mud.  I’m grateful you kept looking for us.”

The other man, a constable in a gray coat, pointed back at the river. “Kane told us he got lost out here in the mud, almost had to shoot his horse. Lucky for you he found the fort.”

Yeah, lucky for me, thought Cat. I might just shoot him myself.

May the rest of Week 8 go well for all ROW80 writers. We're still driving north, with over 1,000 miles to go. Our mantra, "What else could go wrong?" This morning, I woke with a bad cold.

Passed near Joshua Tree National Park yesterday, through the Tehachapi Mountains at 70+ mph, lots of traffic on the freeways, no one follows the posted speed limit, but we then dropped into the beautiful, rolling hills of the Great California Valley, highlighted by fields of flowering, sweet-smelling almond trees.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

ROW80: Last Day in Yuma

Still feeling weak and slow to recover from that illness earlier this week, but today's check-in has me reporting steady progress.

I really enjoyed reading Lisa Ann Verge, Heaven in His Arms, an engaging historical romance set in Canada about 200 years before my story. 

What drew me into the story was her deft and sensual descriptions of history and culture. I can work more on this skill in my own writing by reminding me to slow down to recount sense-based description that captures what my characters are seeing and feeling.

But here's a question: I tend to sidestep the erotic. My characters may kiss, but when they go to bed, I draw the curtain. Verge takes us very close to the intimacy characters share. I've never written any truly erotic scenes. How do you handle how much 'heat' to add to your story?

ROW80 Progress Week 8: 

1. Wrote 1,139 words. Now editing Chaps 4-6 (Section 4).
2. Posted promo for Spokane Authors March 2 meeting.
3. Some quilting, but not enough to consider this real progress.
4. Drafted part of article for Country Register

Have a great week. I'm hoping for good energy for us all and lots of words in the coming week. 

My goals are simple as we move to Week 8: Write at least 1,000 words and continue to edit/revise Section 4 of Rivers of Stone.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

ROW80: Checking in from Yuma

Life on the road, a writer's dream. We had that romantic vision when we started out. Time to explore new settings and make progress on the current wip while deciding each day where we'd go on this nomadic trip south.

Well, we hit snow on the way south from Washington State. Then a hairy rainstorm down the coast of California. Then came news that Allen's mother died. We left our car in Phoenix and flew to Philadelphia for a family celebration/memorial. Two weeks later, we flew back to Phoenix to pick up the car and ended up driving to Tucson the very next day for a family birthday/reunion.

We said farewell to my sister in Tucson on Saturday and began the 300+ mile drive to Yuma, mostly because we've never been here before. 

So I should have good writing progress to report. I picked up some food poisoning somewhere along the way, and the last three days have been a blur, so much that I haven't opened the laptop for the last three days. Does that sound repetitive? Even yesterday, I was walking around like an old lady. But I am an old lady! It's just I usually have lots of stamina. Slowing down only slightly. A humbling experience, hinting at challenges to come.

Sadly, dear hubby finished off my Dr. Pepper and followed me into that semi-coma state of painful slumber interrupted by frequent bathroom breaks. Yuck! But don't feel too sorry. For we are finally in Yuma at La Fuentes Inn for another four days . . . and this is our view (today's high 73F):

La Fuentes Inn, Yuma, Arizona
So one of our goals has been achieved. We are out of the snow zone for sure, more than a little wobbly, but ready to lie around the pool and stare at those palm trees.

Progress this week. Yes, I cracked my current goal of 1,000 words/week (if I count from before I got sick, this being the first day back), and I'm working on reorganizing Chapters 2-9. Made some breakthroughs on sequencing this section (using scaffolding and freewriting). A little snippet from Cat's bison hunt and how she meets Canadian artist, Paul Kane (1846).
Cat and Jacob made their way up a small rise to watch the buffalo hunters. Just ahead Cat spotted that skinny artist, his rifle at the ready, taking aim at a great beast, the herd thundering around him. Cat and Jacob held their ponies still as Kane took his shot, stunning the buffalo to a standstill. 

Kane leaped off his horse and knelt, with sketchbook propped on his lap. What was he doing on the ground? thought Cat. 

Suddenly, the buffalo roused itself and charged Kane.
For the coming week, I'm not ambitious.

1. Another 1,000 words. Write 5 of 7 days.
2. Post promo for Spokane Authors today.
3. Do a little recreational quilting.

So this week, I'm also thinking about what a reading group said about my stories. They like the stories and the characters very much and want more (not realizing it takes me about 3 years for each book, and it seems a slow journey). But they said my stories have a dark side, and they didn't always like that. I'm not sure what to make of this comment. Most of my stories revolve around the theme of survival under difficult situations -- as we all face. In various forms. I personally don't like conflict at all, but I hope my characters fight back. When needed.

And that's all folks. Have a great week of adventure and writing as we wend our way forward.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

ROW80: Back in Arizona

Two pretty hard weeks in Philadelphia. This morning, jet lagged in Phoenix. Family dinner tonight in Tucson. Between Tripadvisor and Trivago, I have no idea where we're sleeping tonight. So we'll hit the road in the next hour and hope for the best.

Meanwhile, back at the laptop, I've made final edits on 13 chapters, working 6 out of 7 days before everyone else was awake. Goal for the coming week:  finish final edits on 7 more chapters and start on Section 04. Yippee!!!

Fresh from Philadelphia (home of the Cheesesteak sandwich), I've picked up some wonderful recipes (Tortellini soup being my favorite) from Lynda, and we dragged Lynda and Gordy off to the Penn Museum of Archaeology (another favorite) before saying goodbye. 

For now, good memories ease the way forward. May your writing and all else go well in the coming week.

Carved, covered food dish, Zambia
Penn Museum of Archaeology