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

Sunday, January 8, 2017

ROW80: Checking in from on-the-road

What to take? What to leave behind? What is essential and what is really not?

These questions are why I really love going on the road. DH rattles the suitcase, and I say, "Yes!" 

We left yesterday from Spokane for an open-ended three month trip to someplace warmer. After about an hour on the road, the snow began. Just now we're holed up in a Super8 in Kennewick for an extra day. The snow has come down all day, travel advisories and closed roads mean we'll make our way south slowly.

But my computer travels beautifully.

Here's my update for ROW80:

  • Writing = 1,000 words/week. By this afternoon, 959 words, but I'm hoping for another session later today.
  • Other writing = None.
  • Blogging = Posted Insecure Writer's Support Group ("Writing is Like Quilting is like . . .") on time. Posted to Travel blog, "On the Road Again 2017" (this will be an ongoing project), and now ROW80 (still once a week for now). Read posts by other bloggers x5.
  • Marketing = Goals set but no progress.
One of the reasons I like to read what other writers are posting is simply I keep learning new strategies (and have renewed appreciation for what kinds of work writers do to reach their goals).

Shannon Lawrence, on her blog, "The Warrior Muse," not only talks about the question-of-the-month (writing rules) for Insecure Writer's Support Group, but she 'gives back' to her readers by listing possible markets (primarily science fiction) and by listing her own progress in submitting her work for publication. 

View outside our Super8
This is pretty inspirational to someone who is knee deep in revision, because I haven't even been thinking about or subbing flash/short fiction. Why not? 

Writing a little science fiction (Granny Vampire?) sounds like a welcome break from slogging through spring flooding near Winnipeg in the 1840s.

What do you think? Have you written outside your primary genre?

If you are not yet a part of ROW80 or Insecure Writers Support Group, why  not join in? Both are also Facebook-based. May your writing go well in 2017.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Thinking of 2017

Just a few days left in 2016, but today, in my small writer's group, we set goals for 2017. Here are mine for the coming year:
  1. Finish writing/editing and publish Rivers of Stone.
  2. Edit Mothers Don't Die to final copy.
  3. Make progress on memoir.
I looked back to last January to find no goals reported online at all, just happy progress with editing, a little poetry writing, and all the rest that makes for a busy life. So perhaps this year, setting goals will sharpen my focus. Two added suggestions from VR Barkowski: Make a plan and build in accountability. 

Hmmm. Sounds just like A Round of Words in 80 Days (now a FaceBook group). So here we go!

Time out! I doublechecked my Daily Work file for January 2016 to find quite a bit of work on goal-setting. A postscript: Each day I write up progress, questions, and track words by the month. So here are my 2016 Goals reported last January. 

What did I learn from looking again at 2016 goals? That Priority 2 goals fell by the wayside. That the audio book for Standing Stones really did get finished (masterfully narrated by Darryl Kurylo) and is available on Amazon. I did add just over 30,000 words this year to Rivers of Stone, and the story finally has a cohesive structure -- with characters that seem very real to me. I want to finish telling their story and have enjoyed 'living' the fur trade history through their exploits.

Are my new goals so very different from those set in 2016? Nope! And I'm making progress. So here is my continuing mantra, summarized from an article by Kristen Schuder on Wikihow, "How to Set Goals and Achieve Them."

Questions to help me achieve my goals for 2017:

CONTROLLING QUESTIONS: Am I setting aside enough time for writing? 
SMART = Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. 
Are my goals visible? Can I see them? Do I need a ‘vision’ board? 
Have I broken that gigantic goal into smaller steps? 
Prioritize. Consider breaking into first, second, and third priority. 
Are my goals well matched to what I can achieve? 
What rewards? (intrinsic/extrinsic motivation) 
What obstacles? 
Do I talk about my goals? 

GET STARTED ON THOSE BABY STEPS. Review progress daily. 

Keep in mind the journey!

ROW80 folks: May you achieve your own goals.
Make 2017 a good year.

PS: Just found a post about free writing meters to track writing progress, 
including the one that Fallon Brown uses. 
Check it out at Tracy Lucas' blog.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Writing just one word at a time . . .

Yippee! I'm checking into ROW80 relatively on time, so here's this week's progress report, keeping in mind my goals were very simple.
  1. Write every day and track words completed, despite the fact that I'm deleting as much as I'm writing. PROGRESS: Wrote 5 out of 8 days.
  2. Complete editing 15 chapters by January 15. PROGRESS: Maybe OK. I'm re-sequencing chapters, so I'm somewhere between Chapters 5-9.
My favorite way to track progress each week is by word count. But, alas. I'm at that point in editing when it's more important to take words out, to check words haven't been doubled, and to tighten the logical structure. Micro and macro. Word count doesn't build up very fast just now. Last week, only 838 words were added. Many more were taken out.

What was most fun? Editing to clarify the oarsmen were traveling against the current when they went through the rapids. My writing group (which meets twice a month) is fabulous!
  1. Done: Post an update here on my ROW80 blog once a week and report in to FB.
  2. Check out what 3 others are doing each week. OK, read 2 others. Will do better next week.
Other goals this week?
  1. Exercise? Nada. Snow and ice a good excuse.
  2. Blogging? Yes! Finally! A post about my current research reading on the writing blog. Did not include a snippet. Maybe next time.
  3. Quilting? Finished a comfort quilt top from donated blocks. Played around with design. Had a hard time figuring out a good color for the border. Would love to finish another one before January 10.
  4. Reading? More books in than books read. Still distracted enough by 'real life' to read lots of genre fiction late at night. Currently enjoying Footsteps in the Snow: The Red River Diary of Isobel Scott, Rupert's Land, 1815 by Carol Matas.
As the end of the year winds closer, may your writing go well. See you next week!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

December Musings and a Snippet

Since the inspirational and quite structured online A Round of Words in 80 Days went over to Facebook, I've been missing. The election results hit me with a mighty thump, and I stopped writing. When I began writing again, that was all I could do.

The purpose of this blog and ROW80 is to connect with other writers and to set weekly and monthly goals for 80 days, with 4 rounds of 80 days throughout the year. I used ROW80 to motivate myself by being accountable for how much I'm able to complete in the last week -- and how much I wish to stretch in the coming week.

I missed the familiarity of reporting in to ROW80 twice a week, each Wednesday and Sunday. I missed hearing what other writers were doing as I struggled with my own unwieldy draft.

But I'm back. I can't promise I'll report in twice a week -- yet. My goals for participating in ROW80 as this last round of 2016 ends December 22 are to:

1. Post an update here on my ROW80 blog once a week and report in to FB.
2. Check out what 3 others are doing each week.

My writing goals are also simple. I'm tracking progress daily in a sort of chart. My clunky 4th draft of Rivers of Stone is at the 'divide and conquer' stage. So I will continue reading and editing Section 03 (37 chapters and 27K words), adding those missing scenes and transitions, hoping to tighten the story and let my characters breathe.

1. Write every day and track words completed, despite the fact that I'm deleting as much as I'm writing.
2. Complete editing 15 chapters by January 15.

Because it's Wednesday, here's a snippet from Rivers of Stone. Cat, still disguised as a boy, makes her way down the Hayes River late in the summer of 1843, hopeful of finding a way west to Fort Vancouver. She's an employee of the Hudson's Bay Company, and they're traveling the famous fur trade route.
     The next morning began the same, with the brigade leaving before dawn. The sun was just coming up, a faint glow of white behind lowering white clouds, when Pierre directed the brigade to the banks. “Take a pipe,” he called out. “This is White Falls.”
     The men groaned.
     “Most of you know what’s ahead,” said Pierre as everyone gathered on the bank, boats and canoes pulled ashore. “We have to lighten up. Some of you will carry packs to the camp ahead.” He pointed to the path that edged the steep gorge. “Might as well begin unloading the boats. Helmsmen, follow me.”
     Cat followed Thurston to climb to the top of the rocky hill. They joined the group of voyageurs overlooking the narrow channel their boats would navigate. The fast-moving current pounded the rocks below them.
     Pierre pointed at a sucking whirlpool and raised his voice over the roar of the river. "We have to avoid that. You get pulled down in that whirlpool, your bones won't come up until spring."
     The voyageurs shrugged.
     Pierre scowled. "Each of you has to know this. Making it past White Falls is the last bad run before Norway House. But we'll hit white water maybe a hundred times before we reach Fort Vancouver. And we'll portage when we have to. You'll get wet, you'll shiver, and you'll go hungry, but when I tell you to row, by God, you better row. Let's get through this one."
     Sobered, the men clambered down from the overlook. They were truly in the middle of nowhere, desolate, unending forests, and the river before them roiling with white water, despite it being late summer. "Somebody say a prayer," said one of the men. Pierre hit the man’s arm. "We don't need a prayer. Just stay clear of that whirlpool."
"The weather outside is frightful" [just now, a crusty 2 degrees F), but "inside it's so delightful" (hunched over my computer, happy to be connecting again to ROW80).

Happy holidays, happy end of the year, and happy writing to all.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

On the Road Again: Row80 Sunday Check-in

Making the transition from a blog-based check-in for ROW80 to a FaceBook-based check-in has not been easy. Add in the usual distractions, and all I can say is I haven't checked in since September 19. I've missed the community of like-minded writers AND that twice-weekly accountability that keeps me assessing my progress toward very specific goals. 

For the last month or so, I've been distracted more by research and plotting issues than actually writing. We're now on the road for two weeks, and I couldn't bring all my library with (not even research files as I'm testing out a new laptop). Accomplishments so far: Following the old 'divide and conquer' rule, I have divided my story into 4 sections and attacked the weakest section by dividing it into another 3 sections, each with a story outline. Suddenly, I can 'see' those plot holes!

And then I remembered -- an online drafting site that offers a blank page with a word counter. I know this is not so different than a blank page in Word, but by ending each day's writing session with a focus question that relates directly to my story, I found myself really writing for the first time in weeks. As I write the STORY, my characters and their relationships are clearer, and I added 3K this week.

MY GOALS for the coming week are quite simple:
1. Write 750 words a day on Rivers of Stone for a total of 2,500 new words.
2. End each writing session with a focus question to guide the next day's story writing.
3. Market and support Veteran's Day reading November 12.

Well, you'll have to go over to Facebook to read what other ROW80 writers are doing. I'm sending wishes for a good week of writing and whatever other recreation comes your way as we edge closer through the 'October surprise' to Election Day.

Meanwhile, here's one highlight from our trip south, right through Malheur National Wildlife Reserve:

View from Buena Vista, Malheur, Oregon (Oct 2016)

Monday, September 19, 2016

ROW80 Update: Change? Changing?

ROW80 is changing, and I'm not ready. Round 3 ends Sept 22, and I'm really not ready. But Chris started her update with a simple list, and so shall I as the new week begins.


1. Write more on Rivers of Stone.
2. Continue work on marketing in various formats.
3. Support writing and quilting community as best I can.
4. Exercise and quilt and cook.

The results this week?

1. WRITE. Yep. Very, very slow. Discovered my working blurb was not centered around my lead female -- and the entire story is her story. Rewrote that. I've been doing lots of research on the Red River Settlement (today, Winnipeg) in the 19th Century. Still did add maybe 1,000 words this week.

2. MARKETING. Some surprises this week. My article was published in the Spokane paper but not online, so I'm not sure how to share it. I'm still doing a little happy dance. I could scan it and share that way . . . maybe.
--Presentation tomorrow on writing historical fiction at a local senior center. Almost ready.
--Updated this trailer for The Mermaid Quilt book. Slow on writing/designing the next edition which I'd love to do since it involves adding a few quilt patterns.


3. SUPPORT writing & quilting community in various ways. 
--Gave beta feedback at the structural level for a book by an online friend and, in the process, found this wonderful article in THE WRITER (October 2016), "Portrait of a Modern Novelist" by Nicki Porter, featuring an interview of Caroline Leavitt. What I loved about the article is that Leavitt profiles her writing process. Her first step is to identify THE MORAL QUESTION, a simple statement that the book must answer and that shapes the entire story. That helps me rethink the ending to my current wip.
--Working on library readings for Veteran's Day. Good progress. So far have 6 writers lined up. Maybe two locations.
--Making steady progress on Quilt Show program (interior nearly finished; final proof next week).

4. Exercise, quilt and cook? Well, the cold squashed exercise, quilting is handwork and slow (but useful to keep me awake during football games), and I made meatballs.

May your week go well, writing or otherwise. Check out what other ROW80 writers have been up to this last week of the round HERE.

And here's that article that appeared today in the Spokesman-Review (September 19, 2019), page C3, just in case you don't live in Spokane!

Click to see in slightly larger size!