Wednesday, March 26, 2014

ROW80: The end of Round 1 . . . and the beginning!

Tomorrow marks the official end of Round 1 for ROW80, A Round of Words in 80 Days

2014 began for me with lofty goals -- two single-spaced typed pages in a lovely chart. With twice-weekly check-ins, I was ready to be productive AND accountable.

The reality is I accomplished only SOME of those goals. The biggie: Published and marketed Standing Stones. Made real progress in marketing skills: guest blogs, author interviews, e-mail campaigns, and book club readings and signings set. Kept reasonably current on my three blogs (writing, travel, and ROW80). Reached out to my local community of writers and made some wonderful connections. Continued to read and crit other writers' works.

But I am looking forward to this break between Round 1 and the next round to really sort through what is essential, what is possible, and what is closest to my heart.

What's most likely at the top of the list is working through final revisions for Years of Stone with publication for Summer 2014.

May the coming break between rounds be a good one for you. Check out what other Row80 writers have written HERE.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

ROW80: The last Sunday for Round 3

Let's start with a little Yahoo! before settling down to goals. This Sunday, this morning, that is, today, I was featured in Annette Drake's Author Spotlight -- in which I reveal some writing tips and an excerpt from Standing Stones. Thank you, Annette!

About 2014 ROW80 Round 2: Somewhere, Kait Nolan wrote that the happiest ROW80 folks seem to be those with fewer goals. Maybe only three goals.

I can only report that when I look back on my two pages of goals for Round 1, my reach has far exceeded my grasp. So for Round 3, I shall simplify, simplify. I hope.

WRITING. Complete revisions on Years of Stone. Write on writing blog 2x a week. Write on travel blog 1x a week. Report in on ROW80 2x a week. Only IF inspired, draft scenes for Rivers of Stone.

READING. Read 4 books as research for Rivers of Stone. Read 4 indie/self-published books for review. Complete beta reads for no more than 2 authors. Read and crit minimum 2x/month in NOVELS-L on The Internet Writing Workshop. 

MARKETING. Continue researching and revising Marketing Plan. Work on marketing at least "one thing" each day. Prep for book signing at local bookstore AND book club visit in April.

COMMUNITY. Stay connected to other writers through GoodReads, Google+, Facebook. Participate in local writers groups at least 2x/month.

OTHER: Continue exercising 3x/week. When traveling, switch to Yoga. Try to meditate even briefly before each writing session. Note: This really clears my mind. Keep office reasonably organized. 

We will be traveling mucho this round, so take journal, camera, plan to draw, write poetry, and cherish each day! Hug those I love.

Rewards for all this? A peaceful, happy, celebratory life!

May Round 2 go well for you.

Looms, Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul (Camp 2004)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday, Sunday . . . Yahoo!

Let's start Sunday morning with a Yahoo! Today I'm interviewed on Deb McKnight's Self Published Sunday. I gab a little about the writing process, self-publishing, and share an excerpt from Standing Stones. Whew! My first online interview.

Busy week this week. Still recovering a bit from that nasty cold, but I did make progress in every area except writing new words. And reading.

--Received 2 pages of excellent comments from Alberta Ross (thank you, again!) for beta read of Years of Stone. Goal this week: finish those 75 last pages and start final revisions before formatting for publication in April/May.
--Wrote review of Morgan Dragonwillow's recently released Wild Woman Waking on my Writing Blog
--Wrote interview for Deb McKnight's Self-Published Sunday (see above).
--Kept my commitment to ROW80 by posting twice and reading assigned persons.
--And I have twittered, commented on GoodReads' posts, and blogged.
--Made good progress on wedding quilt due to be quilted by March 22. Why does every wedding quilt have to be king-sized? But I love the fabric and will post a picture as soon as the rows are connected. Rather like writing. I work on blocks and then assemble, never quite sure if the whole quilt works.

Now, a few words about Marketing. It's a tough journey, but here's more progress:

--Received my promo bookmarks for Standing Stones to carry with me at all times. Now I realize that I should have put my blog address on them. And notice that red line. That's the bleed line. Text must be inside the bleed line, or I risk having important stuff cut off. So I'm trimming 250 bookmarks that have text slightly off center.

--Sent out promo e-mails, what I'm calling an e-mail blast. Here, I worry about that line between letting people know what's going on and spamming. I have about 300 names, now organized in an Excel file into 5 categories. Each blast involves sending out a generic but 'personal' e-mail to about 30 people at a time. It's encouraging to hear from former colleagues, friends, and family that they are excited for me about Standing Stones. Some have actually purchased the book. But now I'm going to e-mail writers who have written me personally. Big step. I'm already wondering what the reaction will be. I'd love to have a few more reviews, and it's wonderful to find out what other folks are doing. This is definitely difficult.

About the GOALS FOR ROUND ONE. Oh, dear. Kait Nolan was quite correct that the purpose of ROW80 is to set ATTAINABLE goals. Mine were not. So my goal for the coming week is to bear down on those goals I can achieve:
--Complete read-through and begin final revising of Years of Stone.
--Finish the wedding quilt by March 22.
--Send two rounds of the e-mail blast.
--Post in blogs: ROW80x2, Travel x1, and Writing x1.

Aunt Liz and her dog Connie (c. 1950)
Still thinking about Women's History Week and the women who have influenced me. Here's a pic of my Aunt Liz.

Dubbed "the leftovers" by her parents, told by her then-husband she should take pleasure from an orderly kitchen, she struggled to paint and sculpt in the 1940's and 1950's -- and made art her entire life.

A book lover, she made it possible for me to go to college when all seemed lost.

Liz was uncompromising. She pushed me to look beyond what was expected. She lived into her 80s, but she lost her memories, ending her days close to the ocean she loved. A few of her paintings are with me. I think of her every day.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Weds Check-in: More tea and bread, please.

Nothing spectacular. I'm keeping it short this week.

Writing: On track with 100 pages done on final edits Years of Stone. Still shy one blog post for the week, but that's doable. Working on guest blog by March 15 and beta read by March 20.

Community. So far behind on GoodReads. Did twitter this week. Twittered. Can't make the f2f writers' group today (the very large one), but that's OK. Participate in WIPpet Weds today. Maybe?

Marketing. Had to recategorize and resort my mailing lists (the new Excel didn't save all my work, or I'm not smart enough for this new version). Sent out my first 'personalized' e-mail to first two groups. Wow! What a response to hear from folks I haven't written to for a while. This was really grand, just to share the news of Standing Stones now out there. There's a bounce in my book sales too, though I really didn't expect that. I'm answering e-mails through the week and will catch up by tomorrow for a second targeted e-mailing. I do hate asking people to either buy the book or review the book, but everyone who responded to me seemed excited to learn about the publication -- and didn't see the release on FB or other e-mails. Interesting marketing strategy.

Also going down to a second local bookstore today to drop off books. Pretty straightforward process here, though I'm wondering if most indie bookstores do this for self-published authors -- 40%/60% commission split on commission; check in monthly; now on list for signings.

I'm still wondering if other writers use e-mail as a marketing tool. Will do more research here. I did ask if people wanted to be kept on my mailing list. People said, "Yes!"

About Women's History Month. Not so sure I can find a poem today, but this is the picture I'm remembering from Turkey. This shows the kitchen of a small restaurant we found in Ankara. The day was cold and snowy. We had just walked our feet off at the state museum in Ankara, drooling over Neolithic sculptures (lots of female goddesses). These women welcomed us inside with hot tea and fresh bread (and kindly consented to have their picture taken). What a celebration of Turkish hospitality and culture. Why is this part of women's history? It's what we do -- make beauty out of simple acts.

Zenger Pasha (Camp 2004)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

ROW80 Sunday check-in: Pure Recovery

It's humbling to have a cold. Low energy. Then climbing back up to face that 'to do' list without flinching. So for the coming week, my goals will be pared down:

--Continue reading Years of Stone for revision. Making notes. Goal:  80-100 pages complete.
--Post entries on travel blog x2, writing blog x1, and ROW80 blog x 2.
--Complete beta read x1.

--Participate on GoodReads, Twitter, and Facebook daily.
--Attend Weds writers' group.
--Participate in WIPpet on Wednesday.
NOTE: I'm always surprised by how many really helpful articles I find on Twitter. This week's find was ROW80's very own Shah Wharton's link to "Why I Suck at Book Marketing (& WHY You Do Too". I really liked this because Shah jumps into "why" our books will appeal to our readers.

--Work on e-mail alerts to targeted audiences. Write back to those who have written me!
--Review overall marketing plan and make notes.
--Take books to second bookstore here in Spokane.

Women's history month continues. I remember working in a bank in the late 1970s and being told, "We like your work, Beth, but we can't promote you. You're not wearing a tie."

At that point, I was without a college degree and spent my days training MBAs in international finance. The short story is I went home that weekend, dithered, and went back on Monday to resign. They promoted me, but I resigned three months later to return to school. Fast forward a few years, and I became an English teacher. Academia has its own world of issues, but I went into meetings where people said, "And what do you think?" (a refreshing change). Of course, it did take a while for me to shift gears from corporate meetings to this academic setting, but that's another story.

Picture of the day is a simply amazing small plaque called the Burney Relief for it shows the "Queen of the Night", most likely made about 4,000 years ago, from Mesopotamia. The symbols are lovely -- She faces us with hands raised in prayer, note the owls on each side (as are the predatory cats), the owls perhaps showing wisdom similar to the later Athena. I love her bird-like attributes -- the wings, the dew-claws and talons for feet. I first saw this by accident at the British Library, just came around the corner, glanced down, and there she was, contemplative, calm, very old, and still a very powerful image.

Burney Relief: "Queen of the Night"
British Museum (Wikipedia)
May your week go well. Stay healthy. Write good.

Challenge question: How do you use e-mail as a marketing tool?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Weds ROW80 Check-In: Take the plunge . . .

I'm on the brink. Cleared the desk. Printed out the entire manuscript of Years of Stone -- all 70,000 words. Then I went through my files to find some suggestions about how to tackle a read-through and found Holly Lisle's "One Pass Manuscript Revision: From First Draft to Last in One Cycle."

I want to be a believer. I love her no-nonsense style and the fact I'm working with pen on paper rather than the oh-so-easy to get distracted on-screen version.

Part 1 Discovery is done. All this entailed was writing down (again) the theme, sub-themes, main characters, story arc, and blurb.

Part 2: The Manuscript Slog looks more daunting. First step (today) is to analyze every scene, starting right at the beginning. That's why I'm writing this check-in for ROW80. Oh, procrastination! I'll be back on Sunday with an update on my progress.

Yes, I was waffling over how to continue on two major projects at the same time, but I really knew that I work more or less effectively (and deeply) on one at a time. Thus Rivers of Stone is set aside (except for reading research) at least for the coming week.

ROW80 Check-in of sorts:

WRITING: Slower progress this week because of that nasty cold. I'm behind on writing blog posts for this week, but several ideas are percolating. Did get that quilting article finished and in on deadline. Started journaling, an idea borrowed from Sandy Jensen to create something daily that draws on (sorry for the pun) the more intuitive side of the brain by mixing art, poetry, and writing. I haven't drawn in so long that my pencil and pen feels awkward.

READING/COMMUNITY: Reading Alison Alexander's nonfiction bio of Lady Jane Franklin for those insights into her daily life and character. Up to page 89. Have two beta reads pending. I would love to finish one by Sunday. Barely staying current with ROW80 posts and reading what others have written.

MARKETING: Since Sunday? Aargh!!! Contacted another book club. Most of my energy has been expended on sneezing and setting up the new computer, doing all sorts of technical tasks that hover just beyond my skill level (yes, installed the new router, got internet back up finally, registered the programs, downloaded my favorites to find updates). Nothing to do with marketing. I did find two possible book review sites and will report back on these.

Self-published authors must be tenacious in their indirect marketing so that 'the book' gets out there and noticed by readers. I'm still circling that goal, not sure that what I've tried is actually working. A few folks who are currently reading Standing Stones have reported they love it and will write reviews, so I'm encouraged by the atta-girls.

Today is WIPpet Wednesday, March 3, so here's a snippet from Chapter 3 of Years of Stone. It's November, 1842. Following a shipwreck, Deidre and Amalie, the little girl who shared her cabin, have safely landed in Van Diemen's Land (present day Tasmania).

Deidre shuddered. Something jolted against her. She could hear a man cursing. Her head lay on someone’s lap.  Her stomach roiled, and she tasted sea water. Her body felt battered from head to toe. She shook her head, and a line of pain seared her skull. Was it only this morning the whalers, cursing and rowing, had brought them to Sandy Bay?
Deidre winced and opened her eyes, a slit against the brightness. “Amalie?”
Amalie leaned over Deidre, just as the cart they were in went over another rough patch on the road. Both of them bounced against the sideboard, and a man’s leg plopped over them.
“Can’t you slow down?” cried Deidre, shoving the man’s leg aside as she sat up suddenly.
The man driving the cart swung around, his bearded face twisted in a scowl. “They said to get to Hobart Town in a hurry. We’re getting.” He cracked his whip. The two horses leaped forward, the cart jerked again, and Amalie grabbed Deidre.
Deidre braced herself against the side as the cart swayed. She gasped at the loaded cart, filled with bodies, some silent, some groaning.
“Don’t get sick again,” said Amalie. “Doc Harris said he would find us in Hobart Town.”
Deidre’s head swirled. Truly they were on land and safe.  No matter Mac was still a prisoner. The sun dazzled her eyes.
More about WIPpet Wednesday here. See what other writers have posted in this lovely sharing of writing-in-progress organized by Kate Schwengel. Why should we participate? Because putting our work out there sharpens our own critical reading. Yes?
May your week go well. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

ROW80 check-in: Snow and Frida

If I were writing as fast as the snow were falling, I'd have a novel this afternoon! Instead, I'm watching weather reviews (more snow predicted), swaddled in blankets, and trying to stay on schedule despite another nasty cold. So this week's check-in will be truly short.

WRITING:  Over 700 words for 4 out of 7 days. Maybe later tonight. Still waffling between working on two major drafts at the same time. Blogged twice (big improvement). Wrote on the writing blog about self-published writers and give-aways.

READING/COMMUNITY: Two beta reads pending. I'm reading nonfiction the rest of this week Alison Alexander's The Ambitions of Jane Franklin, and it's a wonderful, clearly written bio of an exceptional woman (the wife of Arctic explorer John Franklin).

MARKETING: Don't know if this is direct or indirect, but I've got one book club reading scheduled for April, a guest blog interview set up for mid-March and have reached out to an interesting site called the Author Alliance and The Masquerade Club. Both review historical fiction. Queries pending. I finally took the plunge and called a wonderful local book store and now am scheduled for a book signing (my first) mid-April. They were so nice with very clear guidelines that now I wonder why I waited so long.

So much of marketing requires advance planning and commitments. Tenacity. All very different from the writing process. Perseverance furthers.

Now, in honor of Women's History Month, the entire month of March, here's a screen CAPTCHA of the most influential artist, a woman who faced tremendous physical and social barriers to become Mexico's first surrealist painter. An icon to many, Frida Kahlo began painting while bedridden. She painted herself again and again, throughout her short life. If you look at photographs of her, you can see an innocence in her early years, slowly transformed to deep sadness. But her life and her art have inspired many, including me, to see what is possible.

I was lucky enough to have visited her studio in Mexico City, to walk through the rooms where she once painted. Large windows looked out on an equally large patio below, gardens as they once were. Easy to dream that she still lives.