Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Check-in, sorta . . .

Good progress to report this Weds check-in, but I'm posting from a different computer, as mine somehow caught the dragon of all nasty malwares (something called win32.genloader). I can't even get onto Chrome with my little netbook.

So just a reminder to back up as you go.

Hopefully by Sunday, my little netbook will be all better. And writing, commitments to blogging and marketing will be back on track. Two kind folks said "yes" to reviews. Standing Stones is now up on Kindle and CreateSpace with book orders placed. Official launch date will be mid-February, somewhat later than I hoped, but that's when my copies arrive. Meanwhile, I'll be on the phone to the computer gurus tomorrow morning.

May all malware stay far from your bits and bytes.

Sonoran Desert (Camp 2012)
This tree somehow survived the Sonoran Desert with a gnarled, twisted bark to protect the tree from the sun and very tiny leaves to absorb any moisture. Sometimes we writers take unexpected twists to reach our goals.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday ROW80 rock and roll . . .

Just a short check-in. The week has gone by in a blur of final editing and formatting for Standing Stones. First with CreateSpace, then Smashwords. To do this myself has been a challenging, step-by-step process, worse than teaching myself to knit, with book in lap, yarn knotted, and painfully slow progress.

But, you are the first to know. Smashwords took my Standing Stones file on the first upload. CreateSpace should deliver its final review this week.

Release date: January 31, 2014.

A word about pricing. This 300-page historical fiction novel took me three years to write. I know. Some writers work faster; others more slowly. But when I uploaded the doc to CreateSpace, their automated menu informed me their minimum price was $13.99 for a paperback. That baseline price would generate two cents of royalty from some distribution channels and about $2.80 from Amazon.

Since I can still remember when a loaf of bread was 99 cents and not $5.00, and a cup of coffee was well under the primo price of $3.50 and up, this baseline price and the return to the writer still shocks me.

I'm setting the e-book price at $4.99 and the paperback at $14.99. Does this seem reasonable to you? I would really appreciate your comments.

Now, moving away from the publishing side, I wanted to give you an update on marketing strategies. A few months ago, someone here on ROW80 mentioned how helpful Rick Hanson's "Just One Thing" approach was in minimizing stress. I now subscribe to his newsletter and enjoy his meditative approach, though I haven't graduated to full lotus.

This week, I tried "just one thing" for marketing. I don't know if Rick Hanson would approve, but not only do I have a smaller to-do list, but progress is being made. Every day. Just one marketing thing.

ROW80 progress and goals for the coming week:

  • WRITING. Back to work on Rivers of Stone (read Pathfinder). Write micro-scenes every day. OK 5 out of 7 days. Use to move past writer's block. Send out Years of Stone to 2 beta readers, preferably Australian. Write 2 other blog posts (other than ROW80).
  • COMMUNITY: Write one review a week for current reading on GoodReads (just downloaded Olivia, Mourning by Yael Politis, a 5-star historical fiction with 28 reviews and free through Monday). Keep up with reading ROW80 posts/sponsorship (just made it this week). Attend writers' groups here in Spokane. Participate in WEDS WIPpet.
  • MARKETING: Practice "just one thing" daily to include contacting local book stores, potential reviewers, and book clubs. Complete author interview on Smashwords. Prepare press release.
  • OTHER: Keep my commitment to family and self through healthy cooking and exercise 3x a week. Quilt if I can and Super Bowl on Sunday. 
May your writing week go well!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday: Proof and Doubleproof

My goals for last week were rather simple, and I did make progress.The proof for Standing Stones finally came in Friday.

For anyone who's self-published, there is that moment of joy! I love the cover. It looks great. But when I opened the book, the print was too small. The margins were uneven top, bottom, right, and left. The gutter wasn't wide enough for a 400-page book. The new matte finish on the cover that CreateSpace is promoting feels unclean. And all that's before the final proofreading!

So progress on ROW80 goals for this last week:

  1. WRITE a short story, a poem, and one blog entry (minimum). Done. Breakthrough (finally) on writing by working on micro-scenes for Rivers of Stone by just writing using the online blank sheet. Other writing: Began article on stash-busting for quilters.
  2. READ 10 ROW80 posts and 3 books. Met the goal of 10 ROW80 posts. Finished James McBride's The Good Lord Bird -- and posted a review in GoodReads. Reading Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones as slowly as possible, more like a daily meditation. 
  3. RECRUIT beta readers for Years of Stone, set in 19th Century Australia. No progress.
  4. REVIEW at least 2 indie books, update GoodReads. Did review McBride. Next up: Reading The Seal Queen by Sandra Saidak, a GoodReads author.
  5. COMPLETE proof of Standing Stones. Finished 3 of 5 sections. Hope to finish before the next check in.
My daughter and I went to coffee for I wanted to show her 'the book'. She loved the cover too and was full of ideas (and changes) that I could make that would make my book a bestseller. "Mom," she said. "You have to get out there. You need blurbs from famous people. You need to delay publishing until you get all the pieces in place." Well, that was a bit of a cold shower.

Marketing is that one aspect of a writing career that I truly dread. 

Natalie Goldberg says to think about what we really want from our writing -- to dream deep. Once those dreams surface, we will have a clear sense of direction.

To write without embracing marketing seems incomplete. 

It took a long time for me to define myself as a writer. I do hope to find readers, though I have no aspirations of becoming a 'bestseller.'  But I can do a better job of marketing. So for the coming week, I shall be more specific (and more accountable?) for specific marketing steps to take. In addition to the goals above, I shall:
  1. Update Smashwords author interview.
  2. Set up pre-order on Smashwords.
  3. Write press release for newspapers.
  4. Contact two local bookstores.
  5. Request reviews on GoodReads.
What one essential step would you add to such a marketing to-do list?

May your writing week go well!

Check in on other ROW80 writers here!

Yield sign near Inverness, Scotland
It does have that meditative quality, yes?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

ROW80 Weds check-in: Beta, beta, block!

My goals for the week at Wednesday check-in look rather lofty, BUT I am making progress.

Here are the goals for this week with updates:

  1. WRITE a short story, a poem, and one blog entry (minimum). Finally, a breakthrough. After writing nothing at all related to various wip's, I wrote yesterday, a long ranting journal that itemized all those reasons NOT to write and ending with a short blast of dialogue. Feeling good. 
  2. READ 10 ROW80 posts and 3 books. Right on schedule this week with reading what other ROW folks have posted. Turned the corner on McBride's The Good Lord Bird with only 150 pages left (this is the overdue library book). Still reading Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones, one short chapter a day. She is inspirational, combining meditation with practical, writerly advice.
  3. RECRUIT beta readers for Years of Stone, set in 19th Century Australia. No e-mails sent. Yet. But I have thought of one person I'd like for this job.
  4. REVIEW at least 2 indie books (one done), update GoodReads (done), and
  5. COMPLETE PROOF of Standing Stones.
The proof for Standing Stones still hasn't arrived yet, but I'm peeking out the window at the mailman's truck. Not today, but maybe tomorrow..

What's new on the marketing front? I set up an author page on Facebook. You can go look at it (if you already are on Facebook) by clicking here.  Next, I'll learn how to put a "like me on Facebook" button on my blogs here. Wish me luck! I'll share what I learn back here on Sunday.

If you have a moment, click here to visit other folks from ROW80.

Inspirational photo of the day from avrdreamer on Flickr

Sunday, January 12, 2014

ROW80 and Sunday writing goals . . .

I'm thinking about that spaghetti-western, "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly" when a young Clint Eastwood narrowed his eyes as he pointed his gun at one of the bad guys. Laser focus and a fine metaphor for the coming week.

The good. I blasted through the process of making a video trailer for my forthcoming book, Standing Stones. The process of making a 45-second trailer took about 10 hours. I wrote up the process on my writing blog for those who want an inexpensive (free) way of making a book trailer, using PowerPoint, my photos, and youtube. I'd love to have some feedback on the trailer, if you are so inclined (see below).

I'm working on a Facebook author page and finished the banner! Wrote up my inspirational article (attempted some humor) for ROW80 and surpassed my goals of reading ROW80 posts, thoroughly enjoying what others are thinking about and achieving.

The bad. Too slow on making my reading goals. I'm about half-way through Steve McBride's The Good Lord Bird, entranced by the voice and history of Little Onion, the narrator, who speaks directly to the reader in a compelling dialect that begins to sing with its own poetry. A+ so far, but that book is going to be overdue.

And two slow on writing blog posts, though I did post twice this week.

I'm dragging behind on reviews. Does anyone else make a commitment to read an indie-published book, add it to the list, and find 10-15 books yet waiting to be read, let alone reviewed? And I'm dragging behind on research reading, maybe because . . .

The ugly. I still haven't written a single word on my own stories. I'm feeling a bit in limbo, waiting for the review copy of Standing Stones. I want to read the review copy as if I were a first-time reader -- and then read it as an editor. Paper mark-up and then publish.

For the coming week, my goals are simple:
  1. WRITE a short story, a poem, and one blog entry (minimum).
  2. READ 10 ROW80 posts and 3 books.
  3. RECRUIT beta readers for Years of Stone, set in 19th Century Australia.
  4. REVIEW at least 2 indie books, update GoodReads, and, most important,
  5. COMPLETE proof of Standing Stones.
Here's my video trailer for Standing Stones, 45 seconds. With music. Thank you for taking a look. NOTE: I've slowed the pacing as several readers suggested and welcome any comments.

You may also view this directly on Click here.

Check out what other ROW80 writers are doing this week here.

May your week go well. Bend, don't break!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Weds check-in: Nattering away.

We're a week into the New Year and so far, ROW80 goals for Round One and my office are admirably well organized. Big achievement, ordering the CreateSpace proof, so it should arrive within the week for that final proof of Standing Stones. I'm excited and yet . . .

I have written nothing this year.

OK, one little poem.

Maybe because I'm caught between three major projects.

But I did find this inspirational quote this morning from The Writer (Feb 2014):

  • "Every romance has to have a black moment when the hero and heroine (and therefore the reader) believe that love is absolutely impossible. The deeper, darker and blacker this moment, the more satisfying the ultimate happily-ever-after ending." Hope Ramsay was quoted in a side bar.
Which makes me wonder if I have brought my characters to that blackest moment. 

Goals for the coming week:
  • Write something, even if it's wrong. Go for 1,000 words of something by Sunday.
  • Write an inspirational piece for ROW80 (have a few ideas kicking around, wabi sabi being my favorite) by Jan 10.
  • Have fun working on a book trailer for Standing Stones.
  • Read 30 pages in Pathfinder by Sunday for Rivers of Stone and continue with Writing Down the Bones.
  • Write one book review, a blog on reading for the writing blog (Why I read romance books?), and post on Egypt for the travel blog.
  • Update GoodReads.
Motivational TIP for the week: I have two pages of goals for this round, set up in a Word table with three columns, oganized by goal, action steps, and deadlines by five categories (writing, blogging, reading/research, community, and other. In the past, this table has resided on my computer, invisible unless that computer has been turned on. OK, so I printed my goals out. Sounds like a rather small thing. But when I'm wondering what I could be working on, that printout helps.

What's your motivational tip for the week?

Here's a photo from Moyan Breen that shows a storm coming in. The contrast between that red sky and the intense blue sea reminds me that we cannot always tell when a storm is coming, but a part of us knows and remembers.

Read what other ROW80 writers are doing this week by clicking here!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Round 1 begins . . .and a cover reveal!

Hands poised over the keyboard, clock ticking relentlessly (even if it's battery-powered, it has that familiar click), I'm wondering what to say about this new Round of Words that begins today.

Goals set up on chart, organized by categories with priorities, action steps, and deadlines. Check. Two pages. No wonder I make slow progress <grin>  Office cleaner than it's been for a very long time as I'll continue my commitment to un-cluttering!

WRITING remains my top priority, but I'm not writing right now.

BLOGGING = commitment to post once each week on each of my blogs, serve as ROW80 sponsor by reading 5-8 each week, and participate in a few blog challenges.


PUBLISHING/MARKETING. Here's my main focus! I'm working on self-publishing Standing Stones through CreateSpace and Amazon's Kindle, and, ta-da! Here is the cover!

Angie at pro_ebookcovers designed my cover, including the back cover through fiverr. Her directions were succinct. I sent her text and ideas, as well as links to three covers I liked from Amazon. Within 4 days, I had my cover with an image of the standing stones that far surpassed anything I could do.

I'm now awaiting for paper copy  for that final read through for typos before 'launching,' later than I thought BUT still this month.

Thinking about marketing, reading about marketing, and then actually carrying out individual steps can actually be fun. Now the mystery begins. If I do everything on my list, will people fall in love with my story? That's my hidden goal this year: To find out if my writing really does move readers.

PERSONAL GOALS include commitments to family, exercise, quilting, and health. I just joined a new quilting group that will make quilts for charities twice a month. This morning is our first meeting, and I'm excited to have 4 hours set aside just for quilting with my buddies. So, gotta run, gotta run.

May 2014 be a very good year for you -- especially in identifying and meeting your writing goals.

Thank you, ROW80, for making all possible!