Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday check-in: Still snowing, still writing . . .

I'm working on a new quilt, all shades of blue and sage, and it's rather like writing. Plan, cut, sew, arrange, sometimes rip and sew again, piece by piece, block by block, until the final quilt emerges. Out of daily commitment, sometimes my work is beautiful. Isn't that what keeps us writing (and quilting)?

I suppose every week is intense in its own way. We're watching some of the Olympics at night, and I marvel at the concentration and sheer physical effort that these athletes show, for all their training culminates in one moment of failure or success in a very public arena.

This week, I missed the Weds check-in. I went to a face-to-face writing group instead. What could have been a two-hour commitment turned in to three hours, and feeling guilty, I left before the last reader read. The group was comprised of 11 writers at every level, and we moved slowly through those who had something to read -- everyone commented.

I was exhausted by the end of the session. In one sense, we didn't have enough time to properly critique each person. I wasn't as interested in correcting someone's punctuation as I was in digging deeper into the story, but comments needed to be tempered by how much that writer needed encouragement and where his or her skills were. So if you are in a face-to-face writers' group that really works for you, feel blessed. For me, I rejoined the NOVELS_L list on The Internet Writing Workshop.

Progress this week on ROW80 goals -- and the week to come:

WRITING. Another 5,000 words this week, pushing ahead on writing scenes around research for Rivers of Stone. I should give up on WIPpet Weds, though I love the idea and enjoy seeing what others have written. So here, perhaps I'll just post a snippet when I can. For the first time in weeks, I posted on my travel and writing blogs. That's a celebration!
For the coming week:
--Read Years of Stone and map out editing goals. Overall goal to publish by April.
--Research and write 750 words a day on Rivers of Stone. Block out scenes.
--Post at least once on travel and writing blog this week.

COMMUNITY/READING. I'm reading two books at once (does anyone else do that?). Freud's Mistress (Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman) is told strictly from Freud's sister-in-law's pov and shows clearly what it must have been like to live as a reasonably intelligent and unmarried woman, dependent in that half-life of unsuccessful middle class occupations of governess or companion. But the print is slow, so the reading is glacial. Olivia, Mourning, by indie writer Yael Politis, is a sheer delight, and on my Kindle so I can adjust the font. Set in the 1840s, the story tackles the issues of racism and follows a young woman's attempt to make a new life for herself. Last week, I did post a new meme on my writing blog. That was fun.
For the coming week:
---Post reviews on GoodReads for both books I'm reading.
---Meet with writer for more review of her work (she's from the writers' group above).
---Celebrate the launch of Standing Stones with friends at coffee shop on Monday. I have no idea how this will turn out, but folks have said they will come.
---Meet with event coordinator at Barnes & Noble to set up reading/signing. Contact one other local bookstore.

MARKETING. Not so much this week, other than at least 2x Twitter and Facebook (on author page). Just one goal: Update Amazon's Author Central. And maybe update the marketing plan by month.

The hardest marketing strategy for me still is to request those neat testimonials from established writers that appear on the back of your book. I've read here and there that you simply ask. Have you successfully negotiated such advance reviews. Did you simply ask?

SNIPPET for today is from Rivers of Stone. Catriona, disguised as a boy, and Dougal have arrived by ship at York Factory on Hudson's Bay. It's August, 1843. Dougal is immediately assigned to go west to Fort Vancouver with the fur brigade, but Cat has been assigned as an apprentice clerk to the Company store. They have under two weeks together before they say goodbye:

"I know you'll come back," said Cat. "But just in case you don't, how long do I wait?"

Dougal straightened the cap she wore. "I'll be back before winter. If I'm not, then come west next spring. I canna promise more."

"It's enough." She punched his arm like any little brother would and threw herself into his arms for a last hug. "I'll stay here 'til then."

York Factory, 1853 (Lithograph, Wikipedia)

This is a blog hop for ROW80. Read what others are doing this week here.


  1. I never thought about it, but I can see how quilting and writing have similar processes.

    I've participated in groups before that did cold reads, but my current writing group sends work ahead of time. I like that approach because I can reread if there's enough time and really dig into a manuscript. Stories at different stages require different approaches--a first draft might require observations about world-building or character development, whereas someone writing a later draft might need more feedback on voice or structure.

    Good luck with your ROW80 goals, Beth!

  2. Cold read writing groups are exhausting. No wonder you left lat and drained. Any any group where people feel they have to limit their critiques out of fear of discouraging a fellow writer is not conducive to honest dialogue. It's not right to cut down another person's dreams, but if someone can't say "this is going to be really hard to market" or "I couldn't maintain my interest through X section", then they are doing the author a disservice.

    As Denise noted, a "pre-read" group works well. Or drawing lots... Not every story can (or should) be read at each meeting. Sorry you got so trampled, Beth.

    That book on Freud's mistress sounds interesting. Sorry it's been such a challenge to read. Slow and steady, I guess. And enjoy the Kindle works where you can.... :-)

    Nice little snippet too. I take it you aren't doing the WIPpets with us anymore. :-(


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