Wednesday, January 17, 2018

ROW80 #3: The Plot Thickens . . .

How could it be Wednesday already? Here's a quick check-in for progress so far
for A Round of Words in 80 Days. I can only post the goals for this week, as I've made absolutely no progress on writing or reading since Sunday last, other than minor editing and more work on developing the theme and character back stories. So, by Sunday, I hope to:

1. Write 1,000 words on Tapestry project.
2. Write 1 poem this week.
3. Read x6 ROW80, IWSG, Weds WIPpet.
4. Post snippet from current project weekly to Weds WIPpet. Done! See below.

If you've checked out WIPpet Wednesday, you know this online challenge, hosted kindly by Emily Wrayburn, asks us to post a 'snippet' from our current writing, using some sort of formula derived from today's date. Following, you'll find 17 lines (for January 17), in rough draft form. 

Background: Sandra Robertson, an art appraiser, has driven down from Edinburgh, Scotland, to investigate a Narwhal Cup for her employer.
Mrs. Haversham rose and held her hand out for the portfolio. “I'd rather not discuss the details, at least for now.” She paused. “Thank you for coming today, Miss Robertson. I will be happy to learn of your evaluation of the cup. When you have your report ready, please call me.”

I felt as if I were being dismissed. But that was all right. If traffic held, I should be home by nightfall, certainly early enough to prepare my pictures for a slide show for the morning briefing with Mr. Ferguson. That is, if Tom didn't come over tonight to pick up what he called “his personal effects.” I think he should have used his key to pick up what he wanted. What could I possibly say to him that hadn't been said before? 

Actually, I wanted to toss his things out the third story window into the courtyard below, right next to the Writer's Museum. No doubt that would have horrified the tourists who clumped through the close in small straggling groups on the hour. But not as much as it would have horrified Tom.

The cell phone rang through with a voice mail, just as I was circling the block, seeking that elusive parking spot. I glanced at the notification to see Tom's name.

And that's it for Wednesday. Have a good week ahead. May your writing go well. If you feel so inclined, hop over to our FACEBOOK group or on our WEBSITE.

Distraction #1: Merida Central Plaza

Monday, January 15, 2018

ROW80 #2: Mixing the known with the unknown

Got distracted last night, so it's very early now on Monday morning for that Weds check-in for A Round of Words in 80 Days. To report progress on my goals for January (very simplified while we are here in Mexico):

1. Write 2,500 words/week on Tapestry project. So far, 1,307 (3 days).
2. Write 2 poems a week. Wrote "Visiting Cafe de Frida."
3. Read x6 ROW80, IWSG, Weds WIPpet. So far, read 14.
4. Post snippet from current project weekly to Weds WIPpet. Posted Weds.

Our new home is very comfortable in that disconcerting way of being both familiar and new as we become acclimated to Mexican culture. I have several nooks for writing that work well late at night or early in the morning.

Last Thursday, I met with an expat writers' group that meets weekly at the Merida English Library, though I may not be able to attend every week (outside company). Here, we read our work aloud and then comment. No paper handouts! I don't have a printer here, which makes critiques a little more difficult, at least for me but we do listen attentively!

My biggest writing challenge this week has been exploring that balance between story and theme. Still not sure I have a theme that resonates for me in this story . . . which makes developing the plot a little difficult. So far, character studies and little scenes are the result. I know the inciting incident, the setting (sort of), and the protag (heroine), but not the antag or the protag's hero. Most likely, my story is a quest. The external quest is easy to plot out. I'm less sure of the internal quest.

Another highlight this week was a visit to the Cafe de Frida, a homage to Frida Kahlo. Imagine having lunch or coffee here:

Cafe de Frida, Merida
Have a good writing/reading week. Check out what ROW80 writers are up to in 2018, click on over to our FACEBOOK group or on our WEBSITE.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

ROW80 #1: Checking in with a Cup

I'm just settling in to a new home, a new routine of writing, and a new writing project. So, it seems appropriate for this first post for A Round of Words in 80 Day (ROW80), to also post a snippet from my current project, In the Shadow of a Tapestry, for WIPpet Wednesday. Thank you, Elizabeth Anne Mitchell, for posting your snippet, also rough draft (and also historical fiction).

NOTE: The weekly WIPpet Wednesday is hosted by Emily Wrayburn and asks us to use some sort of formula derived from today's date. Following, you'll find 10 lines (for January 10), in rough draft form. 

The first time I held the Narwhal Cup, I almost dropped it. Mrs. Haversham had unwrapped the cup from packing materials and placed it on the large oak table in her drawing room. I had taken the usual precautions. I was wearing gloves. I held it with both hands. 

The outer face of the carefully carved bone cup was covered with sea-unicorns floating on an ocean of stylized waves, surrounded by finely lined circular symbols. 

I couldn't help but remember all the stories about how such a cup was supposed to prevent poisoning. Except for the Duc du Lac, the Monseigneur Claussier, and now, perhaps, the very recently deceased Mr. Haversham. 

That's when the cup wobbled and threatened to fall right out of my grasp. Or maybe it was the fourth cup of coffee I had grabbed to keep me alert on the three hour drive south from Edinburgh.

UPDATE ON ROW80 GOALS: Since we are in Merida, Mexico, for the next seven weeks, my only goal is to work on this latest project x5/week. So far, so good.

To read what other ROW80 writers are up to in 2018, click on over  to our FACEBOOK group or on our WEBSITE.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2018: Beginning again . . .

I wasn't quite sure how to check in to A Round of Words in 80 Days this time. Perhaps we're always 'between' this moment and the next.

I've just finished a major project by publishing (hooray!) Rivers of Stone in December. In 6 days, we leave for nearly a two-month stay in Merida, Mexico, truly a tropical respite, and I'm not quite sure what to write next.

So, 2018 is looking a little murky at the moment. I want to shake my head and make a list, but I also want to stay open to possibility.

Usually I set up specific goals by the month, track progress daily with journal notes, and assess as I go. Something happened in late November, though, perhaps in talking with my daughter as she organizes her busy life and attempts to balance that sometimes overwhelming triad of work, family, self. I recast what I want to do as "Big Picture Goals" and put these in chart form (who doesn't love a check-it-off-chart?).
I still like the scope and flexibility of these goals, so this chart captures my 2018 goals. What's next? Each month, I add a column to the right that spells out those action steps we love. And I keep a running journal to set priorities of the day, rough notes about research, progress, unanswered questions, etc.

Something new: And for the second time, my writing friends gathered for coffee, and we each set our 2018 goals together. These goals were rather more specific than above. We recognize the value of keeping a short list, and we are all willing to change. Mine are simply:

  1. Finish and publish Mothers Don't Die in 2018.
  2. Draft story ideas/scenes for In the Shadow of a Tapestry Jan/Feb.
  3. Work on memoir (scan pictures, write and research).
Sandy, Sue, and me (December 2017)
Happy New Year to all. Happy writing and reading to all. Doubt not! Persevere!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

ROW80: Really, the last 2017 check-in . . .

The last few days, I've been thinking about resolutions and what I hope to achieve in 2018. The reality? I'm just not sure.

After three years of work, Rivers of Stone is done, and I hit that magic button to publish it in Kindle and paperback format. It's finally out there. The Kindle version is available for $0.99 through December 31. I'm celebrating just now because the paperback version arrived yesterday. My desk overflows with 23 copies of Catriona and Dougal's story for family, friends, and consignment!

Meanwhile, what do I wish to accomplish in 2018? It may well be time to simply let go. Yes, I do enjoy writing every day. Working on some kind of a story. But, truly, at the moment, I don't feel at all like diving into another three-year project.

Starting on January 7 and for the next 8 weeks, we'll be living in Merida, Mexico, where the sun shines every day (no snow), and the temperature averages 85 degrees (compared to a high of 19 today). Our casita has a rooftop patio for lounging with a hammock. Yelp promises many, many restaurants with unique Yucatan cuisine, nearby museums (including one specializing in Mayan culture), open air markets, musical concerts, 20 miles to the beach, and two Mayan ruins relatively close to this city of nearly 1 million.

Maybe I will find a new story. After all, La Casa de Frida is just down the street. What magic awaits?

We will also have internet, so I hope to keep up with my ROW80 colleagues by reporting at least once a week. But, alas, my ambitions for 2018 are small.

  • Write daily with no particular project in mind.
  • Cherish the time with family and friends.
  • Declutter, let go, and finish projects (quilting and writing).

May the New Year be good to you in every way. 

Check out what we're doing over on our FACEBOOK group or on our WEBSITE.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

ROW80: Last post for 2017

Reckoning. That look in the mirror to ask: What worked? What went well? What would (or could) I change?

In reality, 2017 began with a death in the family. Major breaks in long-standing relationships were not healed by year end. My dear husband's health shifted and never quite improved. Highlights: A summer birthday celebration for a dear friend, a cruise through the Panama Canal, two completed quilts for friends, maybe 7 comfort quilts for cancer patients. And now, outside, snow, the darkest time of the year, lightened by family and friends, Leaf Day, and ongoing participation in writing groups, including A Round of Words in 80 Days.

The writing? Finished Rivers of Stone, my biggest goal. Taught a few workshops on writing. Helped publish Celebrating Spokane Authors, an anthology featuring 19 writers.

Not quite sure what is next. Part of me doesn't want another major project. Yet, the research tickles my fancy. Smugglers in northern Scotland in mid-19th Century. The beginnings of the suffragette movement, sometime in the 1860s in England. Those rumblings for Irish independence (the Fenian movement) about the same time. As I'm now almost to the middle of being a septuagenarian, perhaps a three-year turn-around for a novel seems daunting.

We leave for Merida on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico for 7 weeks, starting in early January. This may be our last trip, for dear hubby doubts he can travel so easily as we have in the past. But we have rented a small house, an 18th Century Colonial, just 4 blocks from the historic district, an easy walk (we hope) to those necessaries. With netbook nearby, I'm looking forward to 85 degree weather, unstructured time, and immersion in a culture we love.

Maybe I'll find a story or two, or some lovely tropical birds as we sit on the patio in the sun.

Tres Ventanas by Lucy Nieto (Flickr)

Meanwhile, I wish the very best for ROW80 writers in the coming year. May your goals be specific and focused, infused with dreams and energy, and may you find the words you wish.

Check out what we're doing over on our FACEBOOK group or on our WEBSITE.

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Sunday, December 17, 2017

ROW80 Sunday night late

Not sure I can update very completely tonight as we've been busy with company -- as so many of us are this time of year.

I did finalize and upload the very last (I hope) revisions on the Kindle version of Rivers of Stone. These revisions were hard won after that final review of the paperback version. Through December, Rivers of Stone is available for the special launch price of $0.99. The paperback version is also now available, and I'm holding my breath until my order of 20 books comes in, sometime around December 27.

And I'm thrilled to report the first review of Rivers of Stone came in!!!!! 5 stars!!!! How grateful I am for readers who love my stories AND write reviews!!!!

Finishing Rivers of Stone was my biggest goal for this year. All else pales.

I've worked hard on revisions and marketing as well, but these seem more a distraction. My husband's health is not well. Weeks pass, and he doesn't really improve. Or, he improves and has another setback. He tells me he never expected to live this long, but I'm not ready to say goodbye. So think of us in the sunshine of Merida for most of January and February, maybe sitting on that rooftop patio, lolling around on hammocks, far from snow.

Each day brings its own small celebrations. For example, this week I visited a trio of authors' at their book signing. What joy.

May 2018 be a good writing year for you. 

Check out what we're doing over on our FACEBOOK group or on our WEBSITE.

Click to visit Amazon