Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Weds update . . .

Weds morning: The grass is green on the hill, an occasional Canada goose honks as it flies north, and the dogwood's flat blooms have faded. Now, the purple iris flaunts its color, and hot pink petunias flower on my patio. Perhaps the hummingbird will return.

Here are my updates for this week's goals:

1. Continue final edits for Years of Stone. Add a page to my writing blog just for YOS. UPDATE: I'm doing 4 chapters a session, so that's just two more days and I'll finish Section 3.

2. Implement 2 action steps from Marketing Plan (the first being to print it out!). OK I printed it out. Obviously, this is a priority before Sunday.

3. Participate in social media (Linked-In, Twitter, FB), and, of course, ROW80. Catch up on blogging. UPDATE: So far, so good. Hitting about 5 a day visits and commenting. Half-way through a blog post for the travel blog. I so want to dust off my suitcase and hit the road.

4. Write a review on For the Love of Ireland and draft interview of Judy Leslie. UPDATE: Finished reading the book. Now to write the review before Sunday.

5. Draft presentation on Africa trip
and send to Betty. DONE. Follow-up with phone call.

6. Other: Quilt, have fun, lay in the sun, and cook my little heart out! UPDATE: Not so much on the cooking or laying in the sun, but I got some quilting done (Cowboy quilt) and today is doctor day and movie day.

Found out that Gonzaga University's library has some materials I want to get my hands on. That means a day trip. And a new book is coming out on Lady Franklin, focusing on her stay in Van Diemen's Land -- exactly my time period. Put in a request at the library for Alison Alexander's Ambitions of Jane Franklin: Victorian Lady Adventurer.

Learned a little more about Amazon's Cloud for pictures and documents. I'm thinking a flash drive would be easier. Amazon's Cloud changes the name of the image when I re-download it. Oh, I so don't want to lose that for hundreds of images. Perhaps their service will continue to improve. Perhaps I need to learn more.

May your ROW80 writing week be filled with possibility -- and accomplishment!

Inside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey (Camp 2004)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Simplify . . . Simplify!

Sunday morning. It's been a good week, with optimism outranking those moments of doubt all writers have. Planning ahead for next week, my goals will be simple:

1. Continue final edits for Years of Stone. Add a page to my writing blog just for YOS.
2. Implement 2 action steps from Marketing Plan (the first being to print it out!).
3. Participate in social media (Linked-In, Twitter, FB), and, of course, ROW80.
4. Write a review on For the Love of Ireland and draft interview of Judy Leslie.
5. Draft presentation on Africa trip and send to Betty.
6. Quilt, have fun, lay in the sun, and cook my little heart out!

Thanks to Karen Woodward, I found the very best marketing advice of the week in the middle of Russell Blake's "26 Tips on How to Sell A Lot of Books". He suggests, "Write 75%. Market 25%." Just this simple equation takes away lots of stress.

And a shout-out goes to Arlene Radasky for The Fox, my next read (and hopefully, author interview).

And that's all, folks. May your writing week go well.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thurs note: Fan Mail and edit, edit, edit . . .

What a surprise in my inbox late last night. I got a totally unexpected e-mail from someone who likes my writing. Wow! That's enough to sweeten my doubt. 

Wednesday's writing crit group was also again useful. We're allowed up to 4 pages (double-spaced -- always a bit dicey since I work single-spaced). I read Chapter 7 where Mac begins his prison sentence by working in a road gang and then returning to Hobart Town Goal.

Crit group universally called the chapter "gripping" and "intense" and "Mac's sense of helplessness comes through."  Areas to work on:  consistency in using vernacular (several characters use flash mob slang), check for repeated words (always a stumbling block), and watch for sneaky POV shifts. Very helpful feedback. 

One issue I'm not sure yet how to deal with. Four of the seven readers commented they could not visualize treadmills. Here's my excerpt:

After ten days, Mac’s road gang returned to Hobart Town to find the trackers had brought Robert in from the bush. They had flogged him and chained him to one of two treadmills, giant wooden wheels that faced the rear courtyard wall. Some twenty convicts turned each great wheel, stepping into nothing twelve hours a day.

“That’s Robert. We was on the Brilliant together,” whispered Mac. “I told him not to run.”

“The cockchafer’s better than solitary,” said Rupert. “Your friend’s lucky.”

What I had read about these treadmills in Hobart Town led me to visualize them as two giant wheels placed in an open courtyard. 

The only image I can find on line comes from

After reading the excerpt and seeing this picture, can you make any suggestions?  

As always, may your writing go well.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Weds Update: A Busy Day . . .

ROW80 keeps me accountable.

WRITING: Primary goal = PLUGGING PLOT HOLES. Found a plot hole so big I fell in, and I'm still thinking a way for my characters to solve this. Most likely need to add a new chapter. I'm at the 3x5 card level.  I did check Section 1 for POV shifts, intensity of chapter openings/closings, and overuse of "it". Today I'm going to the second meeting of a face-to-face critique group with 4 pages in hand. Will Deidre come across as feisty?

BLOG: Blogged about a quote that bothered me -- the difference between a 'good' and a 'talented' writer. After three days, I'm satisfied that SOME writerly advice is just not good for us! I don't pretend I want to be a bestseller, but I would like to be a 'good' writer, with readers who care about my stories. For some critics, being a 'good' writer is 'not quite good enough' and 'not talented.' My dear hubby says that truly talented writers are rare, maybe 2-3 giants in a generation, and you recognize their talent from reading their earliest work with awe. Dealing with negative feedback from my muse is hard enough without having writing 'advice' larded with doubt. Ooops! I guess I'm still upset about this one. 

Some teachers believe they have the right to set their standards high, that only a few will reach 'perfection'. Those who do not achieve perfection are mediocre. But some teachers, those rare and 'talented' ones, encourage us to know that we each have a gift -- and the best way to find our voice is not the same for every one, nor at the same pace.

Still need to do: 3 crits for NOVELS-L and a post on my travel blog. This week's blogging highlight:  Jai nominated me for a blog award. The best part -- nominating 10 other blogs! Check out these BLOG LINKS links at my writing blog.nominated for a blog award. The best part -- nominating 10 other blogs!  I'm also reading about 5 other blogs a day.

RESEARCH/CRAFT:  Still to read: Bell and Cox. Finished notes on Lucy Frost, "Protecting the Children: Early Years of the King's Orphan Schools in Van Diemen's Land." Also read Mark Staniforth's "Care and Control: Female Convict Transportation Voyages to Van Diemen's Land, 1818-1853." 

Frost gave me a good reminder of what conditions were actually like in state-run schools for orphans, and Staniforth reminded me why birth control is so important. The women of the 19th Century had few options to live independently.

MARKETING/PUBLISHING: No progress here. Still to do: Research ISBN issue. Work on Marketing Plan (longer goal = article/post/Writer Unboxed). Update Shelfari/Barnes & Noble. Move promo PowerPoint (Scribd) toMermaid publication page. 

OTHER STUFF: WSQ/Family/Quilting/Exercise: Each day has been a good one. Here's maybe the only place I can post my quilting progress -- now at the basting stage. Still need to order WSQ library books and work on timeline and prep for board ($500 limit on ads). MUST prep Africa presentation by Thurs and that's tomorrow. Babysat last night until midnight. Had a neat walk in the rain. Office is so clutter free, it squeaks!

May your writing week go well!

And I'm wondering, which size font do you prefer? This size or a little larger?

Arizona Bird Quilt (Camp 2013)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

May 19: Sunday morning wake-up and check-in . . .

This morning starts slowly. Yet since I began with ROW80, when I visited Ruth Nestvold's site, there was a treat. Her reference to Draft2Digital led me to a faster way to e-pub that builds on Word documents. So maybe I'll add Allen's novels (and Mothers Don't Die) to the list. D2D distributes to  4 biggies (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple iBookstore), taking a reasonable 10% percent cut of sales. A new goal!

So here are the goals for May 19-May 25. Anticipate an update on Weds.
  1. WRITING: Keep working on PLUGGING PLOT HOLES. Plot holes await on Deidre’s thread. Only 6 weeks left in this round, and I want plot holes plugged by June 21. Revision: Look at intensity of chapter openings/closings (Section 1) and search for “it”. Watch out for POV shifts.

  2. BLOG: Write minimum of 2 blog posts (writing and travel) and ROW80 update Weds. Fulfill ROW80 sponsor commitment by reading minimum of 15 this week. May post re Mike Well’s comment re readers. NOVELS-L: Do 3 crits this week (Last week I subbed Chapter 9 and received 9 very useful crits back). Not sure if I should sub another chapter this week. 

  3. RESEARCH/CRAFT: Read Frost. Keep Bell and Cox as top priority IF I finish Frost. Read at least one craft magazine. 

  4. MARKETING/PUBLISHING: Research ISBN issue. Work on Marketing Plan (longer goal = article/post/Writer Unboxed). Update Shelfari/Barnes & Noble. Move promo PowerPoint (Scribd) to Mermaid publication page. Sunday Update: Posted a PowerPoint on my writing blog via Scribd. This was fun, though it took hours! I shared images that inspired The Mermaid Quilt. In reality, this seems static, but I hope to get some feedback on whether readers like the PowerPoint format. Most likely Animoto or Youtube would be better. Failed miserably in integrating music into the PowerPoint, but I found a perfect composer, Oskar Schuster who uses Creative Commons (he uses typewriter sounds with piano). 
  5. WSQ: Continue work on pending projects and publicity timeline. Update online events and Facebook. Order books for WSQ library. Work on “Contemporary Quilt” article. Update Job description. Prep background for board meeting on $500 limit on ads.
  6. Family/Quilting/exercise: Cherish each day. Prep presentation on Africa. Begin hand sewing on Arizona bird wall hanging. Sew on cowboy quilt for fun. Exercise 4x a week. Know that if Allen doesn't want to exercise, I still can. Keep office clutter free!

Now all this looks like a clear plan. But I know myself. Maybe half will actually get done. Right now I want to be writing, but I'm thinking about Chicken Morocco and don't even know what that is.

May your writing week go well. If you could look at my PowerPoint and let me know what you think, that would be grand.

A lot of sirens at my apartment complex this morning. No fire. Don't ask for whom the siren sounds: she calls for thee. Write on!

Ross Fountain, Edinburgh (Camp 2011)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May 15: Wednesday UPDATE

Trying something new today. Here are the goals for this week with UPDATES as of today.

WRITING Goal:  Work Deidre through Sections 1-3. Make notes for Afterword. 

5/15 WEDS UPDATE: Still working Mac's thread throughout as I found new research on prison systems that strengthen my understanding of what, where, and why.

Blogging goal: Read 15 other posts, write minimum 2 blog posts (not counting this one). Maybe find another blog challenge? 5/15 WEDS UPDATE: Not even close on adding new entries but I did read 15 other posts.

RESEARCH/CRAFT Goal:  Read 1 chapter each in Cox and Bell. Read Frost and Petrow. 5/15 WEDS UPDATE: Read and took notes from Petrow's article (it was 23 pages long, single-spaced).

MARKETING/PUBLISHING Goal: Add 2 more pages of action steps to Market Plan. Draft promo PowerPoint for The Mermaid Quilt. Update Barnes & Noble w/Shelfari by next Weds. Get info on ISBN's. 5/15 WEDS UPDATE: No progress yet.

PERSONAL Goal: Work on 'cowboy quilt' and complete bird wall hanging. Washington Quilters: Organize that nasty stack of paperwork and complete 5 tasks. Exercise 3x minimum. 5/15 WEDS UPDATE: Exercise coming along just fine. Quilting also with just a little more embroidering to do on 3 blocks. See pic below. Steady progress with Washington State Quilters w/prep for 2 meetings well underway, and I'm half-way through that mountain of paperwork.

Arizona Bird Quilt (Camp 2013)
SUMMING UP: Feeling good about reducing clutter in my office. Writing remains the top priority, with blogging and marketing coming in second. No advice to give today re how to make all this happen. Still need to work on simplifying goals while not losing momentum on larger goals.

I read somewhere that we tend to push away from accomplishing the more difficult tasks, so I'm still celebrating progress on those marketing goals. Tonight I will go to an authors' meeting to learn more.

May your own goal-setting and writing go well!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

May 13: ROW80 Check-in . . .

It's Sunday morning, with Mother's Day brunch ahead. I'm supposed to get dressed up fancy, and it's going to be fun (with babysitting of Leda to follow). So here's my ROW80 check-in. I'm still working out how to set goals. Even last week's minimalist goals were not quite achievable, so I'm going to try something new! I'm setting goals here for the week and will check in Weds with an UPDATE rather than a formal entry. 

WRITING:  Feeling good about this. Wrote every day. Tracking time spent instead of numbers of words helps me feel a little better about progress as I'm spending 2-3 hours a day. Now what I'm doing is following the character arc of one main character through the whole story. So finished Mac through Sections 1-3. 

Goal:  Work Deidre through Sections 1-3. Make notes for Afterword. 

Blogging: Met goal in reading what others have posted (sponsor ROW80) and with 1 post on travel blog and 2 posts on writing blog. I'm finding Twitter and online reading to be a source of ideas. I love thinking and writing about craft after my writing is done. Being part of blog challenges pushes me out to connect with other writers. 

Goal: Read 15 other posts, write minimum 2 blog posts (not counting this one). Maybe find another blog challenge?

RESEARCH/CRAFT: Some progress in reading. Found an outstanding article by Dr. Stefan Petrow of the University of Tasmania on "After Arthur: Policing in Van Diemen's Land 1837-1846" (1999) that explains the administrative structure of prisons as well as political issues of the day. It's like ice cream. Dug into Cox (crime in small communities in VDL a little before the time of my story). Finished Chapter 1 in Bell. Haven't started Frost. 

Goal:  1 chapter each in Cox and Bell. Read Frost and Petrow.

MARKETING/PUBLISHING:  A breakthrough here. Finally! Now have 4 single-spaced pages of steps to take towards a Marketing Plan. The breakthrough came by just DRAFTING and not worry about getting the goal exactly right. Some suggestions from folks on Writer Unboxed helped me see how truly individual such a plan will be, especially for self-publishers. OK. 

So my overall goal is to come up with a plan that works for me, try elements out on The Mermaid Quilt, and then work to launch at least one of my books by my birthday in December. Share results of my work by posting doc on FB writing groups, maybe Scribd. Learned that Scribd will take PowerPoint and then I can link to my blog. Still behind on updating Shelfari.  

Leda Rose (February 2013)
Goal: Add 2 more pages of action steps to Market Plan. Draft promo PowerPoint for The Mermaid Quilt. Update Barnes & Noble w/Shelfari by next Weds. Get info on ISBN's.

PERSONAL: Now flowering dogwood and lilacs are in bloom and the pale, pale green of early leaves transforms the landscape everywhere. On wetland walks, the red-winged blackbirds trill. We walk nearly every day. I'm making steady progress on the office. 

Goal: Work on 'cowboy quilt' and complete bird wall hanging. Washington Quilters: Organize that nasty stack of paperwork and complete 5 tasks. Exercise 3x minimum.

Happy Mother's Day to all -- and may your writing go well in the coming week. Here's my reason to smile today: Just got this picture of sweet granddaughter, Leda.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

ROW80 Weds check-in

Day late. I think my problem is that I set too many goals, then 'real life' intercedes. So this post will be mercifully short. I'm downsizing!

WRITING is on track every day. Solved a few problems along the way. Tracking time on task rather than words completed as I'm deep in revision. Attended a new small writing critique group yesterday (8 folks, 2 hours), and got real reader feedback on my opening chapter.Not sure I should continue, as my writing tends to be darker than theirs, but they only meet twice a month and they care about the writing. Blogging: No new entries but read 15 in quest to be supportive. Goal: By Sunday, finish Section 1. Write 2 blog posts. Read 10.

RESEARCH/CRAFT not as much progress. Still on Chapter 1 in Bell. Found some great images of the prison in Hobart. Behind on reading both Cox and Frost, so Goal:  1 chapter each by Sunday.

MARKETING/PUBLISHING feels like it's in abeyance. Goal: By Sunday, start 'launch' article. Got some great posts from reader/writers on Writer Unboxed. Update at least Barnes & Noble w/Shelfari by next Weds. Still need to gather info on ISBN's.

PERSONAL. A little better every day. My office doesn't look like a bomb hit it. Monday's planning session with quilters helped focus the final layout for my 'cowboy' quilt. My to-do list for Washington Quilters is a little overwhelming, so by Sunday, do 5 tasks. 

Leda and Babu (May 2013)
Made easy chicken tacos last night; hubby loved them (and he didn't get sick -- always a good sign, so he's off the brown rice only diet). He's doing better, especially when he doesn't eat, and we finally got to see the gastro person Weds. His physical therapy continues 2x a week. I'm changing my exercise schedule to still 3x a week, but to a more strenuous class 2x and yoga 1x. We'll see if that works.

I hope your writing week goes well -- and Happy Mother's Day to all. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sunday: May 5: ROW80 Check-in

Fell into the Slough of Despair BUT schedule, goals, and determination are bringing me out.

First off: Why was I depressed this week? I ran out of energy, barely able to complete April's challenge-to-write-a-poem-a-day. Even though I was able to keep to my writing routine and met with friends throughout the week, I felt preoccupied about my husband's health, for he has shown no discernible improvement. When he started talking about death and its inevitability, I felt helpless.I really don't mind death. I just want to be the one who goes first. So we talked about what we could do. And we finally got a doctor's appointment for this coming week. Our agreement: To set a plan each day to do something each of us would like to do so we could end the day with a sense of accomplishment. 

Here the goals are small. If you've struggled with depression, you know. I watered my African violets. I think one with rather large leaves will never forgive me. But they all are now flowering.We went for a walk along the Spokane River, just beginning its surge from ice melt.

For the writing, it's been a busy few days. Here's the update.

WRITING: Finished the read-through of Years of Stone. Now working on those plot holes. By Weds: Clean-up SECTION 1.

BLOGGING: Set a theme for the writing blog for May: "Plot Hole Month." Happily posted a funny recipe on my travel/at home blog yesterday:  Satisfy Your McMuffin Craving at Home. By Weds, post 2 entries. Write reflective entry for A-to-Z Challenge. Read 3 chapters in Bell's Plot & Structure. Read 3 chapters in Robert Cox Baptized in Blood and Lucy Frost's Protect the Children (Queen's Orphan School, Van Diemen's Land). Read at least 15 postings for ROW80.

MARKETING: Worked on marketing plan. Set a calendar that IF I self-publish, Standing Stones will launch in September 2013 and Years of Stone in January 2014. 

Sent query to writers' lists re recommended steps on pre-launch. Mailed promo copy The Mermaid's Quilt to Raffle-copter winner (who promised a review). 

Did a GOOGLE search to find my press release on Craigslist for The Mermaid's Quilt had been picked up. Also found 2 illegal free download sites. Sent queries but no response yet. Not sure what can be done about this as Mermaid Quilt was published only thru Kindle and CreateSpace. 

By Weds: Update Mermaid Quilt page on Barnes & Noble and on Shelfari/Amazon. Continue to work identifying steps for PRE-LAUNCH phase.

PUBLISHING: Still vascillating between indie publishers and self-pubbing. Gathered info on one not-well-established but well regarded publisher to find 15% royalty on paperback and 50% on e-books. Smashwords offers 85%. This drives me back to why I want to publish. I would like folks to read my historical fiction and to find a clear way to make this happen. By Weds: Gather info on why ISBNs are needed, how much that will cost.

PERSONAL: Made real progress with my 'cowboy' quilt for Charity Central. This was challenging because I bought fabric without a real pattern or sense of direction. My quilting buddies on Thursday helped immensely. Looks like I'm nearly done with the major blocks. Chose 'sawtooth' to go with those cowboy panels. On all else, one day at a time.

My African Violets (Camp 2013)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Weds May 1: ROW80 Check-in

This week has been a bit hectic, but hubby is doing a little better in getting doctor appointments, that sun is shining, and it's warm enough now to go out walking. So here's a quick update. I didn't make all my goals, no quilting done, added a few new distractions, but the African Violets got watered and they look gorgeous.

WRITING: Made the quota of a poem a day (one day late) for April. Got totally distracted and put all my April poems up on SCRIBD just to see if this venue would work. Has anyone else done this? This week I miraculously recovered photos and PowerPoints from teaching humanities that I thought had been lost forever, so I may make them available via SCRIBD. I'm also pretty happy that the plot-hole-search for Years of Stone is complete for Sections 2 and 3. Now working on Section 1 by Sunday.

I'm calling May "Plot Hole Month" to complete final revisions on Years of Stone

Came up with a new writing exercise for writing BLURBS. Most blurbs I read sound slightly hysterical. Mine tend to read more academic, but I don't want to put a potential reader to sleep!  So I photocopied several blurbs from historical fiction I like, and I rewrote my blurb from scratch, thinking about the style, tone, and syntax of other blurbs. The result has been a blurb with hopefully more reader appeal -- and a little more dramatic.

Check out A Month of Poems at SCRIBD and let me know what you think of the preview (if you like).

BLOGGING: Several people commented on my April 29 post "What Impels You to Write?" over at the ROW80 Blog, which was very, very nice. A few e-mailed comments. Every step takes courage. Today was supposed to be recipe day over at my travel blog. Nada. But it's not midnight yet. Writing every day on the blog remains a challenge, but participating in various Blog challenges seems to help me. So far, the A-to-Z Challenge and NaPoWriMo are over. What are other writing challenges? 

MARKETING: Success! After months of nattering away and worrying, I finally posted reader questions for the Mermaid Quilt. In fact, this is how I discovered SCRIBD. The questions are up, the publications page is updated, and I learned a little more about promotion along the way. One author makes herself available to Book Clubs by SKYPE. Hooray for technology that keeps paving the way.

PUBLISHING: Not ready. No progress.

All else goes reasonably well. May spring bring you sunshine and good gardening and good progress on your WIP.

Mystery flower spotted at a roadside rest in Oregon. 
Any ideas?