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

Sunday, February 5, 2017

ROW80: Sunday Check-in from Philadelphia

Tolstoy wrote in Anna Karenina, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Sometimes we delve into these kinds of issues in our writing. Sometimes we live through them with our families. 

This week, we said goodbye to a generous, stubborn matriarch of our family. At 96, she influenced generations of kids, grandkids, and great-grands. She knew about each one and cared about their interests, whether soccer or stamp-collecting. She cooked family dinners of five courses, pulling gourmet soups and entrees out of her freezer at the last moment. She stopped driving 6 months ago, following years of protests. Now, she remains with us in memory.

So, not much writing got done this week. We're in Philadelphia for another week. I can only report the outlining for Section 03 is complete. Despite having added about 1,500 words last week, the coming week looks sparse, for I'm now working on the last minor edits for Section 03 (20 chapters). This outlining process showed me more clearly where plot/conflict lines need strengthening and where minor characters can be clarified and/or combined.

It's been a long week. 

One very nice aspect of writing on the road is that all seems simplified, reduced to essentials. The laptop. A card table. An empty apartment. A lovely winter view of the woods. And so I will work in the quiet mornings. May your own writing go well.

Joshua Tree National Park (January 2017)



Monday, January 30, 2017

ROW80 Update: Ooops! We're in Philadelphia.

I know change is constant, but still am unprepared. This week's update for ROW80, A Round of Words in 80 Days, that online writing community that recognizes we all have a life and yet persevere as writers . . .  this week's update is a bit of a challenge.

We're not in Arizona. My DH's mother is dying. We're now in Philadelphia for the next few weeks. Thanks to the kindness of dear friends, we have a temporary and quiet apartment. Unfurnished except for bed, card table, and chair. But that's OK. Last night I slept by my MIL, listening to her breathe and hoping she will not suffer.

So to report on the writing when all else is fragmented is difficult. Even though my laptop is balanced on that card table with an early morning lovely park view, I'm not writing just now. With the month soon ending, I can only report that:

  1. Section 03 is now complete for Rivers of Stone. I need to outline it before moving on to Section 04 revisions. Does anyone else outline AFTER writing? I've tried to 'scaffold' and that works, but a more complete outline for me just needs constant change as I revise drastically.
  2. I'm doing a little better in reading what other ROW80 folks write, just not since we left Arizona.
  3. Maybe this month I won't get to blog for IWSG.
My MIL always said, "When are you finishing that next book, Beth. I want to read it." 

At 97, she knows the value of tenacity. Some call it stubbornness, for mixed with her love of family, she was not always easy to live with. After decades, finally, I forgive her and will keep writing.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

ROW80 Sunday update: By the numbers

We're on the road, moving from California into Arizona in the coming week. You can see a few pics on my travel blog.

Keeping a writing routine while on the road presents a few challenges. So far, I've learned I can only drive about 2 hours a day before collapsing at night. Writing before breakfast seems to work. 

Another surprise this week: Some revisions and new scenes crossed several chapters, so I'm working to tighten the structure of this section -- and to develop further Cat's emotional responses to what's happening around her. This was fun. 

Progress on January goals:
  1. Write 5/7 days. Goal: 1,000 words/week. Finish Section 03 Rivers of Stone this month. Week 3 met goals: Wrote 6/7 days, 1,589 words. 4 chapters remain in Section 03. I just might make this goal. Sent Chapter 15 to writing group & got wonderful comments back. Critted their work as well.
  2. Blog at least 2x/week. Week 3 met goals: Blogged 2x Travel blog and 1x ROW80 blog. Would like to blog on Writing blog.
  3. Reading other ROW80 posts. No goal set. Read x4 this week. If I read a minimum of 1/day, that's 7 per week. Want to read IWSG posts as well.
  4. Other writing. None. Decided Rivers of Stone is the primary focus. This means articles and Granny Vampire are set aside.
  5. Marketing. None. Still tiptoeing around sending out that next 'quarterly' newsletter.
Goals for last week of January:
  1. Write 5/7 days. Goal: 1,000 words/week. Finish Section 03 Rivers of Stone this month. 
  2. Blog at least 2x/week.
  3. Read at least 7 other ROW80/IWSG posts.
  4. Participate with my F2F writing group by e-mail!
When the writing is going well, I feel pretty much isolated from all else that's going on, as if I'm in a bubble, back in the 19th Century, struggling with snow storms rather than political storms. As the new administration takes office, I'm hopeful for inclusive policies and willing to wait and see. 

Meanwhile, we write, revise, and work to reach our goals. May your week go well.

Joshua Trees in California (Cholla Chamber of Commerce)



Sunday, January 15, 2017

ROW80: Sunday morning and no snow!

Yesterday we drove through the coastal range to the Oregon coast on an exceptionally sunny day. Yes, there were patches of snow here and there, and it was 28F outside, but by the time we negotiated the last curve and reached the ocean, temps had warmed to the 40's and the snow disappeared.

We've now been one week on the road, enough for a rhythm to set in. I wake early, write/edit, then we scrounge breakfast. By 11, we're back on the road, neither of us feeling very leisurely until perhaps today, with glorious views of the ocean ahead as we continue south.

Today's report for A Round of Words in 80 Days is simple. 

While my goal is very modest, just 1,000 words a week, I'm editing -- which means taking out as many words as I'm putting in. If I count hours, I'm on schedule. Words this week? 699 new words (before today's session), but yesterday I deleted nearly 1,000. 

Perhaps this draft I'm working on is rather like the road we're traveling. Parts ahead are unknown and sometimes bumpy, but behind me, the way is smooth and known. But if I focus on word count alone, I do get discouraged. So I'm adding chapters (4 completed this week).

Writing goal for the coming week: Write/edit/add 1,000 words and/or 4 more chapters for this section (25 chapters) of Rivers of Stone. Post an update to ROW80 on Sunday. Blog at least once on the travel blog.

Staying active in ROW80 keeps me focused, thanks to seeing what others accomplish. So, persevere. I'm sitting in an anonymous hotel room, my computer balanced on a chair, nearly ready to go to work -- and sending wishes for a good week to all!

Coos Bay, Oregon (from coosbay.org)