Thursday, January 29, 2015

ROW80: Weds check-in on Thurs -- with rules.

Last night at writers' group, two of the writers in my small group protested a comment about shifting point of view, saying, "The rules don't matter at all." They cited proof from several A-list writers they've read (literary fiction).

Apparently, this writing strategy applies to dialogue, story structure, punctuation, grammar, and the elements of fiction we've all come to know and love. 

Maybe this is true -- that we can play with our stories and stretch those 'old rules'. Maybe I'm too conservative a writer and reader. Maybe I'm too sensitive because my own wip is in that deep revision stage. 

My personal take is that writers can do pretty much anything -- as long as that 'anything' doesn't snap the reader out of the story. 

What's your take?

And now for the lamentably late check-in for ROW80. My 'to-do' list was short this week.

1. Writing/revision: Wrote every day. Two more chapters revised in wip, posted twice, read one chapter in Cowie. GOAL BY SUNDAY: Continue. Maybe 'finish' one more chapter. Back up all writing and transfer current wip and research to travel computer. 

2. Community. Met sponsorship goals for ROW80. Met with writing group. Committed to pr work for nonprofit. Registered for "2015 Power of the PEN" writing conference sponsored by the Inland Empire Chapter of Romance Writers of America here in Spokane on March 7. GOAL BY SUNDAY: Wind up dangling threads with all local folks/projects.

3. Marketing. Nothing. Still tracking ripple sales now from BookBub promotion. GOAL BY SUNDAY: Check out e-Reader News Today , Indies Unlimited, and Book Gorilla as potential marketing sites. Indie books can be highlighted on these sites and their promotional e-newsletters. Each has different guidelines (of course), but all look smaller and less expensive than BookBub. Outcome: A promotional schedule that will allow me to evaluate which venue works best in terms of attracting new readers and generating sales for my historical fiction.

May the coming week be a good one for your writing, reading, and all else! I think the next few days will be hectic as we pack up for a month trip to Galveston, Texas, where temperatures seem to be hovering close to the 70s, not bad for January. 

"Birds on Galveston Island" by Vadim Troshkin (posted by on Flickr)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

ROW80 Sunday night check-in: Booyah!

Diving into another roller-coaster of a week. Goals update for ROW80 first:

1. Writing/research. Didn't make all my goals by this Sunday, but persevered with writing and revision. Wrote 660 of 750 words on WIP, posted twice on other blogs, and read 2 more chapters in Cowie's A Community of Adventurers. GOAL BY WEDS: Another 750 words, read two more chapters in Cowie, and two more blog posts.

2. Community. Posted review of Zafiro's book, Under a Raging Moon. Tweeted once. Read ROW80 x9. GOAL BY WEDS: write at least one crit for NOVELS-L (The Internet Writing Workshop), tweet x2, FB x 2. Read assigned ROW80 folks +.

3. Marketing. Still tracking numbers following my BookBub promotion and still not sure what's next. GOAL BY WEDS: Send query to xxx and revise that unwieldy Marketing Plan.

A word about writer identity. I'm finding it all too easy to say I'm a writer to my friends and local folks I meet. I do enjoy the whole (although somewhat slow) process of researching, writing, and revising. And I'm pretty comfortable as an older-than-average writer with all the steps to self-publishing that puts my stories out there at the least expensive cost. 

Last month I committed real money to a five-day marketing promotion through BookBub, and now I'm struggling a bit at the thought (and reality) that nearly 40,000 people (more than in a small town) downloaded my first book, Standing Stones, at no cost. Ripple sales are steady, and reviews are slowing coming in. One reader posted she stayed up until 4 am to read my book. Wow!

I feel so humbled and appreciative that others like my stories. But what about that next story. Will it be good enough? None of my other marketing efforts came close to reaching readers like this experiment with BookBub. I wish I could set aside doubt -- and somehow balance my own writing work, quietly researching and writing and telling my story . . .  with an effective and methodical process of marketing. 

If you have any secrets, please share!

Or visit other ROW80 writers HERE. And may your writing and reading week go well!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

ROW80 Check-in, Resistance and Creativity

I've been circling around ROW80's check-in all day. Thinking about what I could say, wondering if I'm making enough progress, dreading sitting down and reporting that I've not gotten much done since Sunday. Here is my shortened update, still pushing for more specificity:

1. Writing/research. I've done more reading of research than writing. Yes, there were icebergs, great floating floes several miles long, as the ships of the 19th Century turned north past Greenland to Hudson's Bay. The setting is not action, but a chunk of a chapter is tickling my imagination. Goal by Sunday: 750 words. Read 2 more chapters in A Community of Adventurers (Cowie).

2. Community. Finished a lovely cop procedural by Frank Zafiro, Under a Raging Moon. Bailed on my F2F writing group tonight because I've been exposed to H1N1 (and have a rare headache). Goal by Sunday: Post review of Zafiro's book. Write a crit for Novels-L.

3. Marketing. Most of my marketing this week has been to simply check the numbers following my BookBub promotion. Goal by Sunday: Drag out my Marketing Plan and REVISE.

A note about writing. At times we writers find it more difficult to get those words on paper. Earlier today, I wrote on my writing blog ("Conflict: Gotta Love It") about a very helpful set of prompts from Chuck Sambuchino that can add a more intense level of conflict, and I'm excited to try these . . . starting tomorrow morning.

But why it is so difficult to sit down and write? I can't find the quote from a famous woman writer who said we must write about what we fear the most. Definitely, I resist.

Do we fear our own failure of imagination, or substance, or value? Do we fear success? The brain has a way of distracting us from challenging tasks. 

My search on the internet for that missing quote brought these two gems for reflection. 

Steven Pressfield, in The War of Art, said: "Resistance is fear. But resistance is too cunning to show itself naked in this form. Why? Because if Resistance lets us see clearly that our own fear is preventing us from doing our work, we may feel shame at this. And shame may drive us to act in the face of fear.

I fell in love with this quote from Leonard Cohen:

“Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering, There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in.” 

"River" by Sandy Brown Jensen
Sandy Brown Jensen, friend and digital storyteller, just posted this video poem on Flickr (see link below). 

I can't think of a better way to prepare for the rest of the week -- and more --  than to ponder her beautiful words and pictures.

The video starts with a black screen . . . but just click!

Sandy Brown Jensen: "What the World Is Trying To Be"

And why not check in on what other ROW80 writers are working on this week HERE.

Steven Pressfield's quote comes from Carolyn Rubenstein's article, "23 Quotes to Help You Overcome the Fear of Writing."
Leonard Cohen's quote is one of several at "Quotes About Writing, Fear, and Creativity."

Sunday, January 18, 2015

ROW80: Getting ready for reality . . .

This week has been scattered because I've been distracted by that BookBub promotion. Watching day-to-day downloads was pretty stressful, a mix of excitement and dread. 

At the end of the first day, just a hair under 30,000 new readers (about the size of a small city) clicked that download button for a free copy of Standing Stones

Standing Stones is available free until midnight tonight, January 18.

So ROW80 progress this week:

1. Reading/writing. Nothing for the last three days. Nada. Zip. Z-E-R-O. But I did go to my F2F writers' group and got excellent feedback and made just a few changes Thurs am.

2. Marketing. Several e-mails sent to different groups to support the BookBub promotion. 

3. Other. Finished three small quilts for our wheelchair quilt project. Babysat. Went to a great basket-making class taught by a friend. Saw The Imitation Game, for me the best movie of the year!

And tomorrow begins again with writing.

See what other ROW80 folks are up to HERE.

"Crane" by Jeff Stemshorn, Tucson

Friday, January 16, 2015

ROW80: Late but offering a free download!

I'm sorry to be late. The only thing I've gotten done since Sunday is getting my first promotion through BookBub ready to go.

For the next three days, 
from January 15 through January 18,
the Kindle version of
is available FREE.

When Lord Gordon threatens to destroy the only life that Mac McDonnell has ever known, Mac will need to decide what he is willing to risk to protect his family, his sweetheart, and his livelihood.

This is such a big step, my first paid promotion in an effort to reach out to new readers. So far, the response has been exciting and overwhelming, with downloads numbering in the thousands. Truly. BookBub sends out an e-mail to folks who love historical fiction with a link back to my book on Amazon. 

I'm feeling humbled by this response and hope if you like 19th Century historical fiction set in Scotland (or know someone who does), that you will consider checking out Standing Stones. Thank you!

My office is a disaster because I'm still deep in revision on Book 3, Rivers of Stone, still working with pencil and notebook. Had a very useful meeting with my F2F writing group. Reading aloud works to tighten at the word level, at least for me.

Hiking at Iron Mountain (Camp 2010)
In other areas: I'm finally getting back to exercise 3x a week (recovering nicely from those sprained wrists). Sewing stuff is piled up everywhere. I'm putting the sashing on my my pueblo quilt and finishing the flannel backs for three wheelchair quilts. But that old e-mail inbox is under 300. And I'm holding up my part as a ROW80 sponsor by reading what others post (about 10 folks).

So jump in. Celebrate your writing progress, your hard won insights into the writing process, and the gifts we have to observe, reflect, write, and share our work.

See what other ROW80 folks are doing HERE.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Row80 A Snowy Sunday check-in

We've lived here for four years, and I'm still not used to the snow, though I now know how to stop a skid to avoid hitting the car in front of me. Maybe that's like Round 1 goals. My progress feels a bit like an accident, hit and miss, but I'm still persevering. Hope you are too.

--Finished the read-through on Section 01, Rivers of Stone.
--Blogging on schedule (3-4 times a week).
--Put all my poems from 2014 into an e-book format. Now for the fine tuning. Will work least 1 hour of this in the coming week.
--Currently on page 79 of The Company of Adventurers.
NOT YET: Reading any craft book.


--Finished a beta read for an indie author.
--Finished article for ROW80 sponsor; read posts 10x last week.
--Wrote 2 crits for NOVELS-L.
--Review 1 indie book by the end of this week.
--Interview 1 indie author for blog. 
--Participate more fully on GoodReads, Twitter, and my Facebook Author Page

Marketing: No progress at all any of these Round 1 goals:  
Continue outreach to bookclubs x2, Update websites. Evaluate promotion on BookBub that runs Jan 15-17.  Develop marketing plan that works for me. Send out one e-mail newsletter by January 10. 

Other: Still decluttering e-mails and computer files (slowly). Pieced 3 quilt tops (wheelchair size). Someone else will quilt these; they'll come back to me for binding. Still working through my UFO box (unfinished objects). Finished embroidering the last quilt block for my queen-sized Pueblo Quilt that I've been hand appliqueing for the last 2 years. Hooray! Now for sashing and assembly. 

A further comment about my writing progress this week. 

My motivational article for ROW80 is about trying a more productive process for revision. After researching and reading posts from my favorite editors, I drafted a new process. 

Thinking this would be a great way to start to 2015, I plunged into revision. But, instead of focusing on the 'big picture' first with a complete read through, I was immediately distracted into editing at the word level, sidestepping the benefits of having the 'big picture' clearly in mind. No wonder revision takes me so long!

Guided by Kait Nolan's conclusion, "There is no one way," I decided to continue following this new and more global revision process, but I am working at the section level. This will give me 'permission' to integrate new research and make those editing changes -- after that read-through of Section 1. Making progress now!

May your writing and reading week go well. Now check in with other ROW80 writers!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

ROW80: Weds check-in already?

Today is the first Wednesday check in 2015's Round of Words in 80 Days. Since posting goals for this round just last Sunday, I've made some progress.   

--Worked through 4 chapters in Section 01 of Rivers of Stone, with more to come.
--Blogged 3x (goal this week - 3-4).
--Read 4 chapters of Isaac Cowie's The Company of Adventurers (Hudson's Bay Company history 1867-1874), a little past my period but many details accurate for the 1840s.
--Worked on poetry book 2x.
NOT YET: Begin reading craft book this week.

CommunityOn target to meet weekly commitments as sponsor for ROW80 (read x6 so far). Began beta reading for local author. Wrote crit for NOVELS-L x1. NOT YET: Submit updated bio and motivational article to ROW80.

NOT YET: Revamp marketing plan. Continue outreach to bookclubs x2. Draft e-mail newsletter by January 10. 

Other: Continue decluttering and downsizing all else. Yes! E-mails under 300! Exercised for the first time in 3 weeks (sprained wrists much better). Almost finished painting "baby owl" cartoon mural on Ruthie's nursery walls.

Bay View, ID (Camp Dec 2014)

Today I saw wild eagles at Lake Coeur d'Alene, comforted a two-month old baby, and got dinner for six on the table in 25 minutes (spaghetti w/clam sauce) with ice cream and delicious fruitcake for dessert (I'm a fan). 

Tonight, it's time to write!

Please check in with other ROW80 folks for Round 01 -- and have a great week.

Monday, January 5, 2015

2015 and Round 1 of ROW80 begins

In a quest to keep my writing reasonably productive and not quite so intimidating, my overall goal for Round 1 of A Round of Words in 80 Days is to simplify.

So my goals for Round 1 (January 5 through March 26):

Writing/Research: Complete revisions on 2-3 sections (out of 5) of Rivers of Stone after complete read-through. Blog 3-4 times each week on writing, travel and ROW80 blog. Read 3 writing craft books and 3 research books related to Canadian history. Plan research trip to Fort Vancouver, Washington, and across Canada, summer 2015. Maybe, just maybe put together another poetry book with photographs.

Community: Read and review 5 indie books. Interview 1 indie author for blog. Meet commitments to ROW80 as sponsor. Participate in NOVELS-L of The Internet Writing Workshop with minimum of 4 crits/2 subs a month. Participate more fully on GoodReads, Twitter, and my Facebook Author Page. Continue active participation in Spokane Authors and face-to-face writing group. 

Marketing: Continue outreach to bookclubs x2, Update websites. Evaluate promotion on BookBub that runs Jan 15-17.  Develop marketing plan that works for me. Send out one e-mail newsletter by January 10. 

Other: Continue decluttering and downsizing all else, keep e-mails under 300, finish at least 3 quilt projects, and cherish each day with family and friends. Here's my office. I can tell when stacks of projects surround me, that it's time to declutter and let go.

This December, I celebrated by 71st year. I've always wanted to write and now, retired, I begin each day with writing. At times I'm intimidated by what lies ahead. I worry I won't have stamina to finish what my heart wants to continue. But I will persevere, share what I learn, and appreciate so much this community of writers and readers I've met.

May 2015 bring you good ideas, time to write, and a quiet place to get those words out!

Please visit and encourage other ROW80 writers as we begin 2015. And thank you, Kait Nolan, for keeping us organized and motivated!