Sunday, April 27, 2014

ROW80 Sunday Check-in: Book Club Anyone?

I was the featured guest at a local book group -- my first! Wow! Was that unexpectedly fun. These 11 ladies had read Standing Stones and loved it. 

What I learned. Preparing to lead a book club discussion is a little like teaching. Much of what transpires depends on who is there and if they've read the book. 

Before the reading: I reread the book, identified possible scenes to read (if the group stopped wanting to talk about the book), and prepared a synopsis, discussion questions -- about the story line, the characters, and some Scottish proverbs, included my e-mail and a copy of the book cover. These handouts were ready to go, but we didn't really use them. Most useful resource online? The Book Club Resources at

During the reading: We jumped right in with that age-old question, is this story plot-driven or character-driven. Then the ladies got into arguments over the characters! That was fun. I was fascinated by what they thought would happen next to the characters. They outlined plots for the next 5 books! If only. They wanted to know how I got started writing, my writing process, how I came up with ideas for stories, and how I balanced between historical accuracy and storytelling (several minor characters actually did live during the time). I left feeling very appreciated, and they want the next book out now!

Next week's book club visit may be a bit more challenging as this group has already asked, "What if we don't like your book?" Hehehehe. I just replied, "Not to worry. I'm a writer. I'm used to criticism."

Other highlights from last week: Good progress at the F2F writing group. Less progress on the writing, though excellent crits came in from my beta reader, Misha Herwin, a writer based in England. Re blogging, so far, I'm posting poems for the AtoZ Blogging Challenge and hope to complete X-Y-Z. 

One day this week, the writing blog will pass 50,000 hits. That seems amazing. What could I do to say thank you? 

We'll be on the road in Oregon all week, so I'm less sure about internet connectivity. But I'm hoping for some real down time. Pared down goals:

--Continue editing Years of Stone. 4 out of 7 days.
--Post on writing blog 3x, travel blog 1x, ROW80 2x and read 10. --Read and review at least one indie writer this week.
--For WSQ: Send article (deadline May 1) on Applique Society.

Check in on what other ROW80 writers are doing this week HERE.

Reaction at this week's Book Club Reading!
Source: Facebook

Sunday, April 20, 2014

ROW80: Surviving that Sunday morning check-in

Have you ever walked through a bookstore and seen a lonely author at a desk, who's hoping you will stop to chat?

Auntie's Bookstore, an independent bookstore here in Spokane, hosted my first book signing on Saturday. Whew! Friends and family came. We hugged. I sold a few books -- and signed them! 

What I learned. Bring bookmarks. Smile. In quiet moments, amble around the bookstore and ask if people would like a bookmark. When people slow down as they walk by, I asked, "Do you like historical fiction?" Then followed up with conversation. Not necessarily about my book. This was fun. One passerby, a trucker, said he loved audio books. This gives me renewed motivation to find out how to make an audio book. Maybe I should read it! Another turned out to be a graphic artist with a portfolio of gorgeous drawings.

ABNA Quarter finals update: I'm still excited about Monday's news that Years of Stone is a quarter-finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. The excerpt of the first 15 pages is available as a free download HERE. Readers can post their reactions. That includes you, if you are interested. I'm still working toward a release date of sometime this summer. I've started reading through the excerpts from other writers. What diversity! 

--Continue work on Years of Stone edits. 5 out of 7 days.

--Take draft flash "Color Me Green" or current chapter of YOS to new F2F Crit group.
--Post on writing blog 6x, travel blog 1x, ROW80 2x and read 10. 
--Crit 1 sub for NOVELS-L and sub another chapter of Years of Stone

--Read and review at least one indie writer this week.
--Update Marketing Plan and focus on e-mail lists and newsletter.
--Prep book club questions for Standing Stones for Book Club by this Thurs. 
--For WSQ: Draft article (deadline May 1) on Applique Society, finish 2 quilts, order library books.

May your week -- and your writing -- go well.

In honor of my friend, Nancy, who just acquired
a baby llama, here's a pic of a baby llama (Camp, Peru, 2009)

Check out what other ROW80 folks are doing HERE. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Weds: Chin up and swimming as fast as I can . . .

The announcements for quarter-finalists in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) were posted Monday at noon.

Out of 10,000 entrants in 5 categories, 2,000 were selected to move forward in the first round. Entrants have now been winnowed down to 100 quarter-finalists in those 5 categories. 

Get ready for the Yahoo! 
Lion making his presence known! (Camp 2010)
 Years of Stone is in the quarter-finals!!! 

I guess it's time to order an amazing cover from Angie Zambrano (she's made my two covers). 

Robin Cain's The Secret Miss Rabbit Kept (already available online), is also in the quarter finals. Robin is someone I know from the NOVELS-L group on The Internet Writing Workshop, an excellent crit group. Her book is now on my to-be-reviewed list.

--Continue work on Years of Stone edits. 5 out of 7 days: Progress: So far, so good. 2 out of 3 days.
--Post on writing blog 6x, travel blog 1x, ROW80 2x and read 10. Progress: Keeping up with ROW80 and a daily poem for the A to Z Blogging Challenge in April. Half-way with a post for the travel blog. Have read 5 others so far.
--Crit 1 sub for NOVELS-L and sub another chapter of Years of Stone. ProgressPosted the crit for Bob White's wip, To Catch a Monster.
--Posted 5 star review of B. A. Shapiro's The Art Forger on GoodReads.
--Continue updating Marketing Plan and outreach. Progress:  Found and am pondering Gunson's excellent article on building an e-mail list.

--Prep book club questions for Standing Stones
--Prep for book signing at Auntie's Bookstore on Saturday.
--For WSQ: Write article (deadline May 1) on Applique Society, finish 2 quilts, order library books.

There's always more, but this is enough! May your week go well.

Check out what other ROW80 folks are doing HERE.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

ROW80: Sunday morning update with mermaids . . .

Progress? Let's see. Yesterday I read a short, short for Get Lit! at an open mic. "The Last Mermaid," from The Mermaid Quilt,  is told by a daughter about her mother and father, a mermaid and a cowboy, and the narrator holds a turquoise.  While I enjoy sharing my stories, if the story has an emotional hook for me, it shows in my voice. Breath control, yes. But so far, that last line kills me every time.

Reading in such a setting (small, 25 in the audience) is not really about you as a writer, but you as a performer. So, I dress to perform, a little more on the flamboyant side. 

I want the reader to care about my story, so I try to create an intimate setting. Read slowly, as if I were reading poetry. Maintain eye contact. Some of the best performance poets use gestures and act out their poems. They memorize the words. Well, since my memory doesn't work that way despite considerable effort, if I am very familiar with the story by prepping the reading (practice, practice), the reading goes smoothly.

To use or not use a mic depends on the size of the space. Even if you ask the audience if they can hear, a person or two in a larger setting, sitting in the back, may have hearing issues and not want to speak up. For me, the mic creates artificiality. The darn thing gets away, slides down. You have to put your mouth close. One more thing to master when what I want is that direct connection with my audience. But it went well.

So here's my check-in for the week. Still trying to keep it simple. On looking at the overall goals for the round, I may already be behind.

WRITING: Working rather slowly on Years of Stone edits. Gained very useful feedback from new face-to-face crit group on that first chapter, from the NOVELS-L group online, and from Brian S who said my fight scenes sound like they were written by a girl (that made me laugh and think). 

Still behind on blog posts, though I'm keeping up with the AtoZ Challenge with a daily poem on the writing blog. Some are fun! For example, K was for Klondike Bar. And I wanted to post on the travel blog about Lake Titicaca on the border between Peru and Bolivia because we did spend a magical afternoon there, but when I went to look for pictures, these were lost when my computer was stolen on the road. But I can still remember how it felt to walk on those floating islands made of bound grasses, that heaved and squished with every step.

MARKETING: Sometimes a moment occurs. We can be quiet or we can speak. Such a moment came when I attended a Book Club meeting on B. A. Shapiro's The Art Forger, a really interesting read. When the talk turned to the book planned for the next month, nonfiction, described as "rather dry," it was quite apparent no one wanted to read it. So I seized the moment! First, I asked, "Do you like historical fiction?" Then, I made my pitch. The result? The group will read Standing Stones next month.

--Continue work on Years of Stone edits.
--Prep book club questions for Standing Stones
--Prep for book signing at Auntie's Bookstore on Saturday.
--Post on writing blog 6x, travel blog 1x, ROW80 2x and read 10.
--Crit 1 sub for NOVELS-L and sub another chapter, Years of Stone
--Continue updating Marketing Plan and outreach.
--Post review of The Art Forger on GoodReads.
--For WSQ: Write article (deadline May 1) on Applique Society, finish 2 quilts, order library books.
--Hold my breath for the next round of ABNA. Results in on Monday, April 14.

There's more, but this is enough! May your week go well.

Check out what other ROW80 folks are doing HERE.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

And Round 2 officially begins.

This whole process of setting goals and measuring accountability has kept me thinking and working in a more balanced way toward my writing goals. But family commitments this last month have blasted a hole in how much stamina I have for writing -- and my other passion, quilting.  I've added my goals for Round 2 to the ROW80 goals page here. and will report this first week's progress already one day late.

WRITING goals for April: Make significant progress on revising Years of Stone. Progress: Completed 10 pages of 195 (I work single spaced, but still, that is waaay behind what I wanted).

Goal for Blogging: Keep them current with at least one post a week. Writing blog: posting daily with a poem a day for National Poetry Month and the A to Z Challenge.  Travel blog 1x post. Goal re ROW80 2 posts/week. So far so good.

READING goals for April:  Read 4 research books and 4 indie-published books for the round. Read and crit 2 subs for NOVELS-L on The Internet Writing Workshop. Progress: Happily finished B. A.Shapiro's The Art Forger and will post reviews today.

MARKETING goals for April: Revise marketing plan. Prep for reading at open mike for Get Lit!, signing at Auntie's book store, and visit to Southside Book Club (book club questions). Progress: None yet, but I'm carrying a bag of marketing articles around with me. Need to work on promo for the signing and questions for the book club.

COMMUNITY goals for April: Stay connected to other writers through ROW80, GoodReads, Twitter, Facebook, and that A to Z Challenge. Progress: read others x 10/daily. Twitter x2 daily. Progress: So far, hanging in there.

A word about TWITTER. I swear I shall master more of Twitter this round. To be considered for an audio book at ACX (another great resource for audio books through Amazon), you need to post a profile. ACX suggests describing your fan base, as in 5,000 Twitter followers. Aargh! How could someone reasonably follow 5,000 people? I don't understand enough about Twitter nor its special language. Progress? Not sure at all about this one.

Kore (Camp 2004)
Kait Nolan's introductory post on ROW80, "Remember to be Kind to Yourself," really struck a chord. So often, my writing comes between commitments that I make to others. The writing itself NEVER goes smoothly. Well, sometimes. But I must lay the table before the muse visits and then hope she decides to stay. Laying the table for me means settling into the writing, making a commitment every day, and priming the pump with research, reading, and dreaming. Sometimes my creative energy gets used up in helping others. This I choose to do. But I find it a little harder to come back to find my table, crumbs strewn, and the muse gone.

So I resolve to be kind to myself this round.

I hope you read Kait's article HERE.

Drop in to read what other ROW80 writers have posted HERE.

In writing this update, I found my letter for today's A to Z Challenge, "G" for Greece. This picture of a Kore, from the Acropolis Museum, in Greece, suggests such inner calm and strength. Kore, defined as Persephone, the goddess of spring and the queen of the underworld.

How appropriate for writers and for this day and this time.