Wednesday, May 24, 2017

ROW80: Another late Weds night

Got new glasses last week. Doc said this stronger prescription would help me read more easily. My advice before you leave the optical shop? Make darn sure those new glasses don't slide down your nose. 

All week, I've been struggling with eye strain, finding it impossible to read or work on the computer -- or even write for more than a good 15-minute chunk at a time. Today, glasses got adjusted, and I'm feeling grateful as some of the eye strain was immediately resolved.  Better tomorrow. Now it's catch up time.

Writing: Still working on the novella and Randy Ingermanson's SNOWFLAKE method. This morning I spent reading about Irish gangs in the 19th Century and Scottish slums in Edinburgh. Right on track for my 1,000 words a week (plotting/character descriptions at this point). I did play around with a post on my writing blog about my novella characters. It was so fun to find photos for several characters and to dummy up a cover for the novella. 

Best news ever? One of my beta readers came in with very helpful comments for Rivers of Stone. Thank you, Fallon Brown

Marketing: No real progress on any level, not even reading or filing, although Dave Chesson is offering a free training on using Amazon's Marketing Service effectively. I'm going to try it.

Community: Writer's group meets tomorrow. I have no real scenes to share . . . yet.  I don't think dabs of dialogue will count, but I'm intrigued by Dylan's older brother. He works on the Edinburgh & Glasgow Railway (1840s), survived a cholera epidemic, is rather bossy, maybe a bit of a fighter, and he says to his younger brother, "Don't you worry. I'll take care of that troll."

Catch up on what other ROW80 writers are doing HERE or on FACEBOOK -- and have a great week, at least until Sunday, our next check-in. The end of the month is nigh!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

ROW80: Weds night rather late . . .

Writer's group met today, and I got some feedback on my hopefully-close-to-final draft of Rivers of Stone. While I'd like people to fall in love with my story, critical feedback at this stage is more useful than happy faces scribbled in the margin.

But this beta reader told me (as tactfully as possible) that none of my main characters are likable. At least, not in the first 50 pages. How can my readers care about the story if they don't like the main characters? So do I wait out the rest of May, waiting for other comments before beginning to revise? Or do I dive in and work on the character motivations and arcs, setting aside the novella?

I've been working on 'the novella' (no real title yet), and completed about half the steps Randy Ingermanson suggests with his SNOWFLAKE method. The last two days involved writing the story line from each major character's point of view. It's been fun to discover some of their hopes and fears, along with bits of dialogue, plot twists, and lots of research questions. I've never done this kind of organized plotting before. Usually, the story emerges and evolves scene by scene. IF I continue with the novella, the big next step is to further develop the story with a four-page synopsis.

Goals for this week:
Purple = some progress. Red =  not yet. Blue = Done!

  • Another 1,000 words on the novella? 500 words so far. A little research. Just enough to know that more is needed.
  • Send monthly newsletter by May 20. 
  • Read a book by an indie writer and review. Started reading Annette Drake's Stay at Celebration House.
  • Read other ROW80 writers: So far have read x6.
  • Finish organizing that marketing material/research into a REAL PLAN.
  • Declutter e-mail down to under 100. Actually now at zero!

I have reorganized my e-mail (consistently over 250). Taking advice from  Michelle Schaeffer on how to tame that inbox, I set up folders labelled ACTION, REPLY, READ, and REVIEW. The result so far (after sorting through everything), is that some tasks moved to that ACTION file, which were a higher priority, actually got done because they weren't invisible any more.

I'm still undecided about what to work on for my writing. Guess I'll decide tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, make it a good week. 

Check out what others are doing for A Round of Words in 80 Days either HERE or on Facebook.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

ROW80 Sunday Check-in: Hail? Gotta love spring.

Just sitting down to my computer this lazy Mother's Day Sunday to check-in for Row80 with a nice cup of peppermint tea. Outside, a green, but cloudy spring day. And then those clouds opened up. and a steady stream of ice chunks hit the ground.

What happened last week? Well, a little extra babysitting of the grands as their Mommy was away at a conference all week, and a doctor visit, so a few distractions. But some work got done!

--Added 2,200 words to that novella in progress. Took working synopsis to writers' group and so appreciated their feedback on character arcs and conflict.
--Wrote a blog post on my writing blog with a little more about the novella.
--Finished that beta read and sent comments.
--Read only 2 other blogs. Sigh. Big improvement needed here.
--Swam 1x and walked 4x.
--Didn't work on marketing much. No reading and no organizing. 
--Did work on the newsletter and MailChimp. Still don't quite know how to attach a PDF to a newsletter through MailChimp. 
--Did play around with a marketing meme, using PowerPoint. What do you think? Not sure green works. Anything missing? Too many font changes? I'll add the link to Amazon once the book is available online later this summer.

What's on for next week? Maybe a little more progress next week as the calendar looks pretty clear. 

--Another 1,000 words on the novella?
--Send newsletter by May 20.
--Read a book by an indie writer and review.
--Read other ROW80 writers x6.
--Finish organizing that marketing material/research into a REAL PLAN.

I'm having fun working through Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake for the novella. I'm at the writing-character-sketches stage now (Step 5), and little bits of dialogue are coming through. For example, Dylan will say somewhere: “Ah, Moira, my heart. If you had only told me, I would have taken you with me.”

Novella's working title: "The Island Wife." What do you think? If most of the action takes place in Inverness and Edinburgh, how could I call it "The Island Wife"?

Make it a good week. Check out what others are doing for A Round of Words in 80 Days either HERE or on Facebook.

Four-and-a-half years old!
The two-year-old!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

ROW80 Catchup and a Freebie!

Today's the day that Annette Drake's cozy mystery BUILDING CELEBRATION HOUSE is up for free on Amazon. 

Why not hop on over and grab your copy? This well-written book plumbs a rare topic -- the relationship between two stubborn sisters. And that's against the backdrop of an antebellum Southern mansion and a few ghosts.

Now on to reporting for ROW80. Well, this week has been one of accomplishment! Only some writing, but I finished a queen-sized quilt (will post pic later . . . as this one is a surprise). 

I did make really good progress on mastering MailChimp's newsletter templates, and my novella is about 1,000 words richer. With the hero from Ireland, I have an excuse to do a little research.

A few tweets later, and I met online two writers who write historical fiction. Both look fascinating. Margaret Pinard and Elizabeth Bell. Current reading? Sara Donati, Into the Wilderness, and a chapter from Jared Diamond's The World Until Yesterday.

Perseverance furthers. That and a good cup of coffee have seen me through a hectic week.

What is ROW80? A Round of Words in 80 Days wherein participating writers check in twice a week (most times) to let others know our goals, progress, and to share what's going on. Go HERE to read what others are doing or HERE on FaceBook.

I'll conclude by saying I'm very grateful for all the comforts we take for granted today, compared to the average person in the 19th Century. May you cherish your warm bed, fresh food from the refrigerator, and antibiotics (when needed)!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

ROW80: How about a rant?

It's time for the Sunday check-in for ROW80. We're supposed to report how we've done on our goals for the week and celebrate those little victories that make all else possible.

Except I just want to rant about what I don't know and need to know and haven't figured out yet. It's the end of the month with new deadlines and goals . . . and I'm so not done with April.

To the good: Got a major start on the current quilt (I balance writing with quilting so I don't sit down too long). Cleared out all those e-mails from 300 to under 100. Still too much I want to read. Wrote the article on podcasting for Spokane Authors. 

Really exciting? I finished a prequel to Standing Stones (short, just 8 pages) to use as a giveaway for people who sign up for my newsletter. This gives me more breathing room to work on the novella (sequel).

What's driving me bonkers? I can't figure out how to design a form on MailChimp that looks better than a big blue box for people to use when they signup for my newsletter. And I can't figure out how to automate the sending of that new Prequel PDF. 

Any other progress? Slower than I want to be on reading those marketing books. A writer sent me 68 pages for a beta review. Did read ROW80 posts by others x6 this week. And I'm making slow progress on my marketing/launch timeline/plan. 

Did add 1,800 words this week to that sequel, tentatively named The Island Wife. Fun to discover that in Standing Stones, Dylan went off to Inverness and then Edinburgh. Here I am, gnashing my teeth, for I wanted him to be closer to Inverness. Then I discovered the railway where he got hired as a 'navvy' (short for navigator) ran from Glasgow to Edinburgh. Hah! Still looking for research that talks more in depth about working conditions (not good) on those Scottish railroads in the 1840s, if you happen to know a title.

What's not done: Would love to have a concise and clear set of objectives for May. Maybe that's my goal for this coming Wednesday's check-in!

Do you want to sign up for my newsletter and let me know what you think of the thank you prequel? I'm taking it to writer's group on Weds and would love to have your feedback.

Meanwhile, spring has finally sprouted here in the Inland Northwest. Cherry blossoms, tulips, and beautifully green willow trees. 

Source: Bustle

May your writing -- and all else -- go well in the coming week. Check out what ROW80 writers are doing HERE and on FaceBook HERE . Why not join in?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

ROW80 Weds check-in: Spring showers but no tears.

My readers have been asking: "What happened to Moira and Dylan after Standing Stones ended?" So most of my writing work so far this week has been diving into that story. The goal? A novella that tells the rest of their story and that can serve as a giveaway. 

Usually my stories run away and wind up being three-year projects, with tons of research. And while I am looking into the fates of railroad workers in the 1840s on the Edinburgh/Glasgow line, my first step was to reread those parts in Standing Stones and start building character sketches, summaries, conflicts, and, yes, I'm using Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake method. Maybe I can just tell a little story this time. Not ready to count words, but I've got a running start on plotting.

Round 2, Week 3: Updates on this week’s goals:

--WRITING: Setting aside Rivers of Stone for next two weeks (taking a break while beta readers work). 

--BLOGGING: Writing blog 1x/week, ROW80 2x/week. On schedule.

--MARKETING: No tangible progress, but I am reading and planning. Read another chapter in Bell's book, Marketing for Writers Who Hate Marketing. Very impressed by Jen Blood's setup to entice readers to sign up for her newsletter. She embedded her freebie 'magnet' right in the opening of her Kindle book. So I'm also reading her gritty dog story, The Darkest Thread. Use the 'look inside' feature to check out her beautiful images. Her book is still listed as free as of this morning.

--ONLINE COMMUNITIES: Read ROW80/IWSG: minimum of 6x/week. So far, only read 2x.

--DECLUTTER/OTHER: Get E-mail under 200. Ouch. Right now those unreads are 285. Maybe by Sunday. 

HELP WANTED: Does anyone know about Kickstarter and how it might help an author? This is for a writer I respect. Any suggestions at all will be helpful.

And that's it for a late check-in. Finished a comfort quilt last night instead, a lovely blending of simple purple blocks with a nice flannel backing to keep legs warm. 

Quilting is kind of like writing, you know. Start with a block or two, persevere, and you have something to give away! 

Check out what other ROW80 writers are doing HERE or on our Facebook page. Why not join in?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday ROW80: Poised to leap!

Sunday morning. First cherry blossom on just one branch outside my window. Buds beginning to unfold into leaves. I feel as if I'm poised to leap -- into something entirely different, my own season of change.

Maybe my reaction is inspired by this morning's e-mail from one of my beta readers that challenges me to rethink the opening chapter, and I'm a little afraid to dive in too soon. Poised to leap . . . and yet, not ready. But I can make a list of goals for the coming week.

Round 2, Week 3: This week’s goals:

--WRITING: Work on revisions from betas for Rivers of Stone -- after taking this week off. Draft supplemental materials (map, afterword, review list of characters, bibliography). Draft ideas for prequel, sequel (giveaway for newsletter subscribers). Plan newsletter schedule and contents.

--BLOGGING: Writing blog 1x/week, ROW80 2x/week. 

--MARKETING:  1) Map out events for June launch (party, promotions, readings, book clubs). 2) Request early reviews. 3) Review ACX resources on how to market audio books. 4) Amazon: Set up pre-order? 5) Continue to experiment and evaluate different ways to market my books.

--READING: 3 more chapters in James Scott Bell, Marketing for People Who Hate Marketing. Write 1 review/month of indie author.

ONLINE COMMUNITIES: Read ROW80/IWSG: minimum of 6x/week. Discussion of Chapter by Chapter begins May 17 on GoodReads. Rethink how I participate in GoodReads and Twitter.

DECLUTTER/OTHER: Get E-mail under 200. Write narrator for audio book, Years of Stone. Send Mike Faricy thank you note because he modeled how to interact with readers. Quilt. 

What about last week? Lots of last week's goals turned to blue -- Done! Including that big one of sending out Rivers of Stone to those beta readers. So I'm trying to look forward, analyze, prepare, and map out what's next. Those goals highlighted in bold above will be my priority in the coming week. I hope.

Resource for blogging? John Fox at BookFox wrote "50 Good Questions to Ask an Author" -- on the premise that many questions are used over and over. I'm not quite ready to think about author interviews, but his first question prompted a post on my own Writing Blog: John asked, "What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?" I want to say -- so many!

Check out what other ROW80 writers are doing HERE or on Facebook HERE. And have a great week!