Monday, July 17, 2017

ROW80 Home and not home . . .

Breakfast by the computer. Writing done for the day. Next? Trying to post a late check-in for ROW80 (Welcome home after a week away), and getting ready for immersion babysitting. We leave in 2 hours for a four-day sleepover with those beloved grands -- the five-year-old and the almost three-year-old. Did I say we're not packed, and we're not ready? And feeling somewhat intimidated?

Progress since last check-in and goals for this week:

  1. Writing: Revised Rivers of Stone chapters 9-15. THIS WEEK: Complete 3-4 more chapters.
  2. Blogging: Nada last week. THIS WEEK: Post ROW80 x2 and Writing blog x1. Read x6.
  3. Reading: 3 books. Escapist reading only. THIS WEEK: Most likely escapist reading all week.
  4. Marketing: Gave 2 review copies away. No social media presence. Read 1 article. THIS WEEK: I can only improve. Most likely won't start until Friday. Or Saturday. OK: Do more reading. 
  5. Community: ROW80's post last week about what's ahead reminded me how much I appreciate this online writing community, even as it keeps evolving. So what can I do to support the new changes coming? THIS WEEK: Make a plan.
  6. Other: Made a breakthrough in designing current quilt. Finished the backing. Said 'yes' to teaching a "Let's Write!" workshop at a senior center. Really got excited about writing another article about a wonderful quilter I met at the Sisters' Quilt show for The Country Register. Need to work on both. Exercise? Forget about it! OK, we'll be chasing the grands.
And that's all folks as I try to climb back on a schedule. Check what ROW80 writers are up to on FACEBOOK or the WEBSITE and have a great week writing, enjoying summer, and surviving the current calamity.

Favorite memory of last week: Stopping at Timberline Lodge and admiring Mount Hood while eating a cheesecake slathered with raspberry sauce. Yes, we walked a little at high altitude.

Cheesecake view of Mount Hood

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

ROW80 Weds: Round 3 begins . . .

Round 3 begins and I feel a little like Alice, racing down that rabbit hole. We're packing for a week away, our first trip since January and leave tomorrow morning. So I'm not sure about posting goals for Round 3 for A Round of Words in 80 Days, but I can post goals for the coming week (slightly adjusted since we'll be on the road, but, trust me, the writing/laptop is packed)!

ROW80 GOALS Week 1 Round 3: Keeping it simple for the coming week: 
--Writing: Revise 2 more chapters for Rivers of Stone
--Blogging: Post in Writing blog x1 and ROW80 blog Weds/Sun. Read other writers x6.
--Reading: Read 2 books this week. 
--Marketing: Drop off bookmarks wherever possible. Read one marketing book. 
--Other: Draw and journal while on the road.

Last week was pretty amazing with 3 more chapters completed for Rivers of Stone, a comfort quilt completed. Started making doll clothes for the grands. Bought a few doll clothing patterns at an amazing price ($1.99). Who knew these patterns now cost $16-$18/each???? Had an exceptionally useful meeting with my small writing group AND recruited my first 2 early reviewers. Also subbed an article to The Country Register; it was accepted AND they want to review Rivers of Stone (once it's out there).

Biggest challenge this last week? Digging into revision (I wrote about this on my Writing Blog HERE for the July post for The Insecure Writer's Support Group).

Actually worked pretty consistently on marketing this week (MailChimp, Smashwords promotion, website update) AND am offering "My Selkie" (a short story) FREE through July on Smashwords.  One writing guru suggests becoming an 'affiliate' for Amazon and for Smashwords. Has anyone tried this? Results? Did you continue?



Now check out what other ROW80 folks are doing: We're an online group of writers who set goals, work on writing, and encourage each other as we all balance 'real life' with our writing.  We're on FaceBook and have a website HERE

Why not join in? Stay cool. It's only July.  Keep writing and take some time to enjoy summer. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

ROW80: Hot Sunday check-in

Temps highest so far this summer:  expected to be 95F today, and, yes, I turned down an opportunity to go pick strawberries! Instead, I'm dithering away about my writing goals (and actual performance) and that neat 1,000-piece puzzle in our cool (for now) apartment. I've been working on downsizing this week and finally donated the last of 5 boxes of books to our library for their annual book sale. These books are on Mayan and Aztec culture, left over from teaching humanities. OK, so I kept 10. Do I really need 3 bookcases in my little office???

Do you still have books that you can't quite say 'no' to?  Don't you love the feel of a book, the snap of pages as you read through, engrossed by maps and charts and glossy photographs. Alas, that tiny print has pushed me almost entirely to Kindle, and I'm letting go -- slowly -- of some of my favorites.

Last week's progress was pretty good. The writing and revision for Rivers of Stone goes slowly but steadily (more about that on my Writing blog a little later today). Chapters 5-7 are now relatively complete. And I finally worked on marketing, balancing reading with action steps. Completed publicity for Spokane Authors; proofed newsletter and worked on a library report for Washington State Quilters. Reorganized my quilting corner (actually in a closet), finished my secret quilting project, and am 50% through binding a comfort quilt.
Beth's sewing closet!

Did I post on my writing blog? Not this week. I am working through a step-by-step workshop by Shelly Hitz of Training Authors (and other research) that is helping me to identify areas to work on. For the blog, my first steps are to 1) Understand what my goal is in writing the blog -- reaching out to readers and other writers of historical fiction. 2) Plan out a series of content my readers would be interested in (The key here is to have fun. More of a 'what if?' approach). 3) Make a consistent schedule that I can commit to.

More Progress with Marketing? Had fun uploading an author interview that video/storyteller Sandy Jensen did of me last summer at Lake Chelan (we ran into each other by accident). Uploaded the video to Amazon USA and to Amazon UK. You can see it HERE.

Other major changes: I ended my enrollment in KDP Select and am in the process of relisting my books on Smashwords. Lots of technical reasons. The most important being I feel invisible on Amazon, and I really like being able to use coupons for discounts and giveaways on Smashwords. So, we'll see. Have you gone wide or narrow re Amazon/Smashwords? Was that an easy decision?

GOALS: Keeping it simple for the coming week: 
--Writing: Revise 3 more chapters for Rivers of Stone.
--Blogging: Post in Writing blog x1 and ROW80 blog x2. Read other writers x6.
--Reading: Read 3 books this week. Review 1 book by an indie writer, and 2 more chapters in Sally Mitchell’s Daily Life in Victorian England.
--Marketing: Work on magnet. Set up GoodReads giveaway. Enter Smashwords summer reading promo. Keep working that marketing plan!
--Other: Complete binding for comfort quilt. Exercise 5/7/days. Enjoy the summer!!!!

Now check out what other ROW80 folks are doing -- at least those who don't stop for the proverbial break between 80 day rounds. We're an online group of writers who set goals, work on writing, and try to encourage each other.  We're on FaceBook and have a website coordinated by two amazing facilitators: Eden Mabee and Shan Jeniah Burton. Thank YOU! Why not join in?

Peonies in Manito Park (June 2017)








Wednesday, June 21, 2017

ROW80: Weds Progress

Peonies in Manito Park
It's that time of summer when the flowers begin to shrink from the heat, and walks are best taken early in the morning.  Here's my short progress report for this nearly-last-week of Round 2.

GOALS for this week:

--Writing: IN PROGRESS: 3 DAYS ON CHAP6. Revise 3 more chapters for Rivers of Stone. IN PROGRESS: Photocopy & read 3 chapters in Sally Mitchell’s Daily Life in Victorian England. NOT AT ALL: Write 500 words for NOVELLA.

-- Blogging: NOT YET: Post in Writing blog x1 and POSTED TODAY: ROW80 blog x2. Read other writers x6. SO FAR READ X6.

--Reading:  DONE: Read 3 books this week. PENDING: Review 1 book by an indie writer.

--Marketing: DONE: Move research material into my marketing plan. IN PROGRESS: Identify ONE action step for this week. Had fun uploading a video, updated bio, and pic to Amazon's Author Central in the UK and the USA. Double-checked that Amazon's Author Central in India was current. Can't find Author Central for Australia. Darn.

--Other: IN PROGRESS: Work on promo for Spokane Authors and write newsletter article. PUTTING BINDING ON: Complete another comfort quilt. DONE: WSQ Newsletter. DONE: WSQ storage study. GOOD PROGRESS: Exercise 5/7/days. So far, 3/7 days, swim/walk each day.

A little more about the writing: Revisions are coming along. I'm deleting, revising, adding, and deleting more than I'm adding. At roughly 3 chapters a week, I'm guessing it will take me 5 months to finish -- unless I find some superhuman way to be more productive! Suggestions?

Here's a snippet from Rivers of Stone:  Cat has safely landed at York Factory just off Hudson's Bay and has been assigned to the trading post there. It's August 1842 and the little snippet below is her first day at work:

     “I’ll take over Jacob’s ledger,” said Mr. Murray. “Cat, follow old Gillis there. He’ll show you what to do.”
     She shadowed the gnarled assistant trader around the store as he took care of the Cree. Gillis spoke to them in their own language, the words sounding like a song to Cat, words she didn’t know and couldn’t translate.
     “Will you teach me some words,” she asked after the Cree had left the store.
     “Aye, I’ll teach you.” Gillis rubbed the remaining three fingers on his hand. “You should have been here in the old days, when we lived in the stone houses, before all this was built. The ice was so thick on the walls we cut it off each morning with axes.” He laughed, a low guttural sound. “Even the cellar we dug under the stove wasn’t warm enough to keep our rum from freezin’.”

York Factory, 1853 (Wikipedia)
Perseverance furthers! May you have a good week of reaching your writing goals. Enjoy each day of summer, for we all know another winter is on the way. Check out what other ROW80 writers have written HERE or on our Facebook page HERE.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

ROW80: Sunday, Sunday

I'm still trying to find a way to simplify and report progress for ROW80 at least once a week. Wednesday's three meetings put me behind, Saturday's garage sale was exhausting, and those new glasses are playing havoc with my eyes. With hopeful heart, here's my update.

GOALS/progress for Round 2, Week 10: June 12-18: 

Writing:
Revise 3 more chapters for Rivers of Stone. (Completed Chapters 3-5).Read 3 chapters in Sally Mitchell’s Daily Life in Victorian England. (Did read 2 chapters). Write 500 words for NOVELLA. (no progress). I'm pretty sure after two weeks of no progress that I can't really work on two different projects with any depth.

Blogging: Post in Writing blog x1 and ROW80 blog x2. (Posted once). Read other writers x6. (No progress).

Reading: Read 3 books this week. Read 4 this week (10/15 for June). Highlight: Fear University by Meg Collette. What’s not to like about a scrappy street-wise kid who can’t feel pain? She's kidnapped and sent to school to learn how to kill half-man, half wolf creatures in a secret war to save humanity. Excellent world-building. 4.5 stars. Review 1 book by an indie writer.

Marketing: Move research material into my marketing plan? Finally, done! Identify ONE action step for this week. (Not yet.)

Other: Work on promo for Spokane Authors. Steady progress here. Complete another comfort quilt. Working on bindings. Exercise 5/7/days? This week: 4/7 days (swim/walk). Saved $20 and cut my hair myself!

Re the writing: I'm reworking my characters for Rivers of Stone. Somehow Rivers of Stone began with two very unhappy characters -- fighting with each other, mistrusting each other, and essentially betraying each other. This is not the story I wanted to write. The bones of the story, the setting in mid-19th Century, and the conflicts are relatively fine. But who these two people really are? Not so much. So here's another reason for moving away from intuitive writing (pantser) to researching, mapping out the plot, and building the characters BEFORE beginning!

Goals for the coming week: Unchanged.

Check out other ROW80 writers on FaceBook or on the ROW80 website HERE!  Thank you, Eden, for reminding me (and all writers) that writing really is hard work. As we think ahead to the next round of goals and writing projects, may your own writing go well.

Summer lily at Manito Park


Sunday, June 11, 2017

ROW80 Sunday check-in . . .

I skipped reporting in for ROW80 entirely this last week. Maybe the weather changed. Maybe I was sidetracked by the struggle over my glasses. I had wanted to continue work on my novella AND begin revisions on Rivers of Stone.

Instead, I learned once again that working on more than one project (at least for this week) leads me to circle around as if I'm not quite ready to work on anything at all. 

I am thrilled at the level of revision this week, though, on Rivers of Stone. My main character, Catriona, is getting a makeover!

GOALS LAST WEEK (Blue = progress. Green = some progress. Red = no progress):
--Writing: Minimum 3 hours on RIVERS OF STONE. Wrote/revised Chapters 1-5 on 5/7 days and added 1,227 words. Minimum 1,000 words on NOVELLA. No progress. Did read some in Sally Mitchell’s wonderfully rich book, Daily Life in Victorian England.
-- Blogging: Posted Weds in Writing Blog for IWSG. ROW80 Weds and Sunday. Did not post this week. Read other writers x6. --Read a book by an indie writer and review. Read 2 others for fun. Read 5 books this week/no review.
--Marketing: Continue organizing marketing materials into a REAL PLAN. No progress.
--Other: Finished 2 comfort quilts. Exercise 5/7/days? Walked 3x this week.

Now, how can I improve my productivity across the range of my goals?

Found this interesting article, "Habits vs. Goals: A Look at the Benefits of a Systematic Approach to Life," from Shane Parrish's weekly e-newsletter. Well worth a read.

My habit has been to start writing immediately on getting up in the morning, but since June 1, I've been worrying. Which project do I work on? Do I really know how to edit Rivers of Stone? How can I work on that novella if I haven't enough research? So those precious morning hours have flown by as I dither and delay.

This article reminded me of the value of habits I already have -- and to start small on goals/action steps. So for the coming week:

GOALS for this week:
--Writing: Revise 3 more chapters for Rivers of Stone. Read 3 chapters in Sally Mitchell’s Daily Life in Victorian England. Write 500 words for NOVELLA.
-- Blogging: Post in Writing blog x1 and ROW80 blog x2. Read other writers x6.
--Reading:  Read 3 books this week. Review 1 book by an indie writer.
--Marketing: Move research material into my marketing plan. Identify ONE action step for this week.
--Other: Work on promo for Spokane Authors. Complete another comfort quilt. Exercise 5/7/days. 


Have a great week. Check out what others have written for ROW80 HERE or on Facebook HERE.



 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

ROW80: Revision ahead

Round 2 for A Round of Words in 80 Days. It's Week 9, with 22 days left before the end of this round, and I've been working hard on goal setting -- for the month of June.

ROW80 Goals for June:
  • WRITING: Continue work on Moira and Dylan's NOVELLA, The Island Wife (4,000 words by month end). Begin review/revision of Rivers of Stone (40 hours by month end).
  • BLOGGING: Post 4x on Writing blog, post 8x on ROW80 blog. Post June 7 for Insecure Writers' Support Group. Read posts by others x5/week.
  • MARKETING:  Read Bell, complete Hitz marketing workshop, develop 200-300 key words for Amazon Express ad (for Reaching). Combine MailChimp lists. Send newsletter June 15. Continue organizing marketing materials.
  • READ: 10 books/month (at least 1 on marketing and 1 + review for indie writer). Read 6 writing mags/month. 
  • OTHER: Complete 1 comfort quilt. Keep e-mail under 100. Continue Spokane Authors press releases/articles.
I'm a little leery of working on two different projects at the same time. One usually ends up taking precedence. But I really like Fallon Brown's multi-bubbling projects. A few hundred words here, a few more there. Progress!  My goals are hopefully specific enough that I can track that progress and surprise myself. Now to report in from last week.
  • WRITING: Added 7,013 words to The Island Wife (goal 40K) for the month of May. Most of this is plotting, but dialogue and scenes are starting to show up. Printed out first 100 pages of Rivers of Stone and handed them over to my severest critic. 
  • MARKETING: Finally made progress in organizing marketing goals. This may sound anal to some, but the currently 30-page file is now organized by goals, chart of timeline of marketing strategy, and alphabetical by marketing strategy and notes. 
In other words, May is soon over, but we shall persevere.


PS: I'm wearing my old glasses and can SEE again!

To celebrate Wednesday, here's a snippet from those two brothers, Dylan and Michael, who've just rented a corner of a room in the slums of 1840's Edinburgh:

     “At least we’re away from the stink.” Dylan shoved the blanket into the corner of the room they had rented. “When do we have to pay again?”
     “Before we’re ready, I’m thinking.” Michael sniffed the air of the crowded top floor room, its windows shuttered, and the air close with the smells of sour beer and sweat. The room stretched some fourteen feet long and eight feet wide. The floor was littered with bodies wrapped in ragged blankets, a mix of men, women, and children still sleeping, though it was past noon.
     “How much do we have left?” asked Dylan.
     “Enough.” Michael looked around. “An’ we should no’ be talking about it here.”
     Dylan gave a short nod. “We best be finding some kind of a job.”
     “Bring yer stuff,” said Michael. “I’m no’ ready to leave what we have behind just yet.”

And I'm not ready to leave their story behind. Have a great week. Check out what others have written for ROW80 HERE or on Facebook HERE.