Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Night Simplicity

We'll be gone an entire month, flying south to a place that's a little warmer. Packing is an exercise in serenity, for, after all, what do I really need after my writing materials are organized?

So the goals for the coming week are pared down.

Goals by Sunday, February 7:
1. Edit Rivers of Stone, 4 out of 7 days.
2. Draft 1 short story for Mermaid Quilt
3. Blog x3: ROW80, travel, and writing blog (and read x10).
4. Work on Media Kit presentation (SASP).
5. Complete 75% of beta read (currently at 50%).
6. Draft article on quilter Sandy Turner.

Kait Nolan, the indefatigable host for A Round of Words in 80 Days, said my article will be up February 2. I hope you find it motivational. Check out what other ROW80 writers are up to this week by hopping HERE.

This week's Poets on the Page prompt asked us to look for serenity and quiet, a little difficult with meetings and packing all week, but then this little poem came along:

Poets on the Page #3: Farewell

What if I lived on a floating island
made of grass
and slept under the stars?
Would you go adventuring with me,
wear long, embroidered pants,
catch fish with your hands,
and dream of snow-covered mountains? 

Maybe we could learn
how to say farewell
to all that holds us to this place.
I mark our journeys
by the map on your face,
and I am content
for we did travel to those grass islands
near Puno and rode reed boats
in the shape of giant birds on Lake Titicaca
not so long ago.

Floating Islands of Uros,
near Puno, Lago Titicaca, Peru
Source: Wikipedia

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

ROW80: Order out of Chaos

We leave Sunday at 4 am for Corpus Christi. Nothing like a month-long trip to bring order out of chaos. Way too much time spent the last several days trying to get my new HP Stream ready for the road.

HP Stream Pros: Ultra light. Cute. Bright blue. So portable at 2.3 pounds. 

HP Stream Cons: Limited memory with 28 out of 30 G used for hidden programs!!!! Slow on the internet. But I only want this for writing and e-mail and blogging (maybe only once a week for ROW80), so I don't need supercomputer. Did you know that if you're using Windows 10 and deleting programs from one device, you can actually delete the program from all your devices IF you don't click that little button that says, "This PC only"? 

I'm starting to feel like a computer guru because my little Kindle Fire now has Skype AND Xfinity login available everywhere (so Skype came off the Stream). And I'm starting to use 'the cloud' -- although it feels nebulous (taking flash drive too).

But did I get any writing done? Well, yes. I actually printed out 20 pages and worked over sequencing, transitions, editing, and new scenes. It's hard to measure progress when word count goes down.

This Week's Goals & Progress by Sunday, January 31: 

IN PROGRESS: 1. Edit Rivers of Stone, 5 out of 7 days each week. On track 3/3.
2. Complete 2 new marketing steps to alert folks re Rafflecopter giveaway on writing blog (newsletter, e-mail). 
3. Blogx3 and READ x10: Steady progress here, but guilt, guilt, guilt when I don't read everywhere: ROW80, Poets on the Page, WIPpet Weds, Insecure Writers Study Group. 
 Declutter office. Amazing progress here.
4. Keep e-mails under 100.  OK, hovering at 98.
5. Clean up WSQ projects. DONE: Bid for printing programs, report to board. PENDING: Library project & call Linda.
6. Packing. Yep. What will be forgotten? We use a packing list but still I end up asking: What is essential? Brings me right back to that HP Stream.

1. Work on poetry book. 2. Read 50 pages of The Frugal Book Promoter (to page 165). Oh, I'd really like to finish this one.
3. Exercise 3x week.
SASP project: Media Kit questions.

WIPpet Wednesday. Last week, I read only two participants. So once again, I'll post with hopes of doing better. This week's excerpt finds Cat on the Saskatchewan River, alternating between portages and white knuckling past rapids. The excerpt, based on the date somehow, equals 10 sentences (1 for January + 2 + 7 for the 27th).

Mr. Lane, as short as any of the boatmen, stood shadowed by the campfire. “I’m hoping it stops raining,” he said. “The next bit is only three miles long, one mile of which runs with great rapidity. Boats can descend, but as we are going upstream, in the morning, we portage.”

For the next three days, the men ran and stumbled along barely visible paths along the portage trail, bent under the weight of two 90-pound packs. Below, as if they were animals, six oarsmen dragged the two York boats over the portage path of logs, with two men on either side lifting the boats slightly. 

At the end of the portage, the men cheered, clapped each other on the back, and drank the rum tots that Mr. Lane handed out. Then they reassembled the brigade in a small eddy by the Saskatchewan River. Cat had carried one of Kane’s small backpacks, feeling she was not of much use. She gazed at the river’s white water ahead of them and wondered what Dougal had done here.

Voyageurs' Portage (Source

I love the picture above for it shows the head straps, the barrels and those 90-pound packs of furs and supplies the voyageurs carried. Sometimes the men would compete to see who could carry the heaviest load. Rough humor.

Now why not visit ROW80 to see what we're up to this week or drop by WIPpet Wednesday to read other snippets. And have a great week!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

ROW80 Check-in: One step forward . . . two steps back

I'd love to announce a Rafflecopter giveaway to celebrate the release of the audiobook version of Standing Stones, BUT you've heard of those endless loops? Where you try to login, but can't? And the troubleshooting guide doesn't fix the problem? And the automatic response sends you off to "502 Bad Gateway"? again and again?

UPDATE: The longest 36 hours, but the Rafflecopter help desk came through! If you'd like to enter the giveaway NOW LIVE, hop over to my writing blog!

So that's why I'm late in posting my ROW80 update this Sunday. Here's a quick summary of otherwise reasonable progress this week -- in spite of not having packed ANYTHING yet . . . Completed = blue. Some progress = Purple.  Not yet = Red.

Progress this week:
1. DONE: Edit Rivers of Stone, 5 out of 7 days each week.
2. DONE: Completed 2 marketing steps supporting AudioBook/ACX. Rewrote & posted new blurb for Standing Stones on Amazon. Posted a note re audiobook on Facebook to positive response. PENDING: Can't log into my Rafflecopter account so I can post the giveaway. Going back and forth with their HELP desk.
Work on poetry book. Had two intense work sessions this week. Did get permission from a favorite photographer to use her photos.
4. DONE: Blogx3 and READ x10: Slower than I want but did read x10.
5. PENDING: Read 50 pages of The Frugal Book Promoter (to page 165). Still 15 pages to go to meet this week's goal.
6. DONE: Review 2+ books by indie writers each month. 
7. DONE: Exercise 3x week. Finally! Includes 2 30-minute walks.
8. PENDING: Declutter office. DONE: Keep e-mails under 100.
9. Clean up WSQ projects. Starting today.

10. Clean up SASP projects: DONE: James Parry press release, list of issues. PENDING: Media Kit questions.

The sun is shining outside. Sidewalks are clear. A football afternoon beckons, far from my characters who remain knee deep in snow, and I just finished basting that baby quilt for hand sewing. Do I get that walk in? Before lunch?

Catch up on what other ROW80 writers are up to this week HERE.

May the week ahead be a good one -- with no unexpected challenges. The waterfall below measures some 82 feet across, with a drop of 200 feet. As my mother would say, "Ooofta!"

Skógafoss Waterfall Winter Landscape Iceland
Skógafoss Waterfall Winter Landscape Iceland
by Ngaire Hart Lawson on Flickr

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

ROW80 Weds Check-in: Surprise!

Easy-peasy. Sort of. The writing goes steadily and slowly with research supporting the editing, scenes fleshed out, and Cat somehow surviving a winter crossing of the Rockies.

We're 10 days away from leaving home for the month of February to that place of no snow, Corpus Christi, and I'm cleaning up projects, clearing out to-do stacks of work, and wondering if I will finish all that remains. Completed. Pending. Not yet.

1. Edit Rivers of Stone, 5 out of 7 days each week. Done.
2. Research ACX process and identify 2 marketing steps. Surprise!
3. Write 500 words on memoir and/or poetry book. Surprise!
4. Blogx3 and read x10 on ROW80x2, WIPpet Weds, IWSG, Poets on the Page. Done. WIPpet Weds (see below). 
5. Read 100 pages of The Frugal Book Promoter. No progress last three days.
6. Review 2+ books by indie writers each month. List other books read. Done.
7. Exercise 3x week. Meditate 5 minutes daily. 3 sessions done.
8. Declutter office. Keep e-mails under 100. Done.
9. Clean up WSQ projects. Working on this starting tomorrow.
10. Prepare for trip to Corpus Christi. More fretting than planning, but we have the trip binder in progress.

Surprise #1: Poets on the Page challenged us this week to look again at a poem we had written and abandoned -- and resurrect it in some way. Since it is the beginning of the year, I pulled all the poems I've written in 2015 and looked at them anew, knowing if I didn't do something to fix them in a more permanent fashion, they would be abandoned. Wow! Five hours later of unexpected revision, I rediscovered 45 poems and have the beginnings of a chapbook. Thank you, Morgan Dragonwillow, for this lovely challenge.

Voice actor Darryl Kurylo
Surprise #2: ACX/Amazon has approved the audiobook version of Standing Stones -- which should go live on Amazon in the next few days. Wow! Fortunately, ACX provides a nice list of marketing strategies (my nemesis). But I'm thrilled as voice actor Darryl Kurylo adopted so many different voices to bring my characters to life -- and sang the few songs in the story absolutely beautifully.

Now for WIPpet Wednesday to post a snippet of 4 paragraphs (1 for January + 2 from 20th day + 1 for the year) from Rivers of Stone as we follow Cat down a series of rapids near Lake Winnipeg. She's been assigned to assist artist Paul Kane on the journey.
"You can’t sleep either?" Kane drawled. "Here, sit closer to the fire. I'll teach you how to draw."

Cat scooted next to Kane. "Really?"

"Really. 'Tis not so hard. You need to look closely at what you want to draw, and then let your fingers walk the pen or the pencil until you catch it on paper." He looked at Cat and drew the lines of her face on the scrap paper he held. "See?" He handed the paper and pencil to Cat. "Now, you draw me."

Cat stared at Kane. Her fingers trembled a little as she held the pencil. His face was interesting. They'd been on the road long enough for short rations to pull the skin back from his bones. His cheeks had hollows, and his eyes seemed set in deep sockets. The longer she stared and tried to draw what she saw, the steadier her hold on the pencil. Gradually, a face formed on the paper, but it didn't look like Kane.

And now, why not check out what other writers have written for A Round of Words in 80 Days, kindly hosted by Kait Nolan? Or join in our round?

Or read a poem over at my writing blog about the tango! Or read a few poems posted at Poets on the Page, hosted by Morgan Dragonwillow.

Or visit other WIPpet Wednesday writers HERE

Have a great week. Stay warm. Keep writing and reading!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

ROW80 Snowy Sunday Check-in: Fat Flakes

Yesterday, very fat snowflakes fell all day. I braved the slush and ice to drive out on a few errands, came home to write and watch the most exciting (and today) most depressing football. Now to the week's progress for ROW80 as another football game awaits.

Goals & Progress:  

--Edit Rivers of Stone, 5 out of 7 days each week. So far, 7 out of 7 days. Today's session got a little bogged down in research, but I found some fascinating snippets that will affect motivation, characters, and plotting. 

--Awaiting approval from ACX for Standing Stones' audiobook (10-14 days). Maybe this week? 

--Blog x3 each week on ROW80 x2, Poets on the Page Mon x1. Current with posting AND reading posts by others as well.

--Build realistic marketing plan. I'm actually reading The Frugal Book Promoter, 114 pages this week. And taking notes like mad. One strategy involves partnering with another writer. Maybe.

--Review 2 books by indie writers each month. DONE. List other books read. Started this goal, but . . . It took me nearly 100 years to read 100 Years of Solitude, and it's a great book. 
The harder I work on my own writing, the more I want to read escapism, genre fiction that either thrills me with unexpected twists or lulls me to sleep with sweet romance. 

For example, Diana Orgain's Formula for Murder looks like a fun read. It's a mommy mystery that starts with a bang -- a car accident with the heroine's infant daughter in the back seat. Yes, I remember quite fondly Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and it still influences me. But  my taste in reading has lightened. Leads me to question if I'm writing in the 'right' genre.

--Exercise. No real progress at all.
--Declutter office and E-mail under 150. Yep. 
--Clean up WSQ projects. Not yet. Write letters? Two done & mailed. 

And that's this week. May the coming week bring inspiration to all. I read somewhere that even 5 minutes of meditation may help reduce stress (and high blood pressure). Worth a try. Now why not visit HERE to see what other ROW80 writers are up to -- or jump right in? 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Weds ROW80: Back on the River

Last night, I should have checked in with ROW80. Instead, I organized fabric. I swear my office looked like a bomb exploded with stacks of batiks and traditional fabrics everywhere. But I sorted by color and type, organized into bins, and gave away some. A picture would have described the chaos, but my next quilting projects are now organized. Phew!

Now I'm tackling those library books that must be returned and those end-of-the-year letters that must be written in January. We're two weeks away from leaving for a month to a warmer place, one with no snow, south to Corpus Christi, a little off the beaten path taken by winter Texans. 

Going away for a month means letting go of the routine. Yes, the laptop goes with (as does Rivers of Stone), and I will still be present in the land of ROW80, setting goals and reading about everyone's progress.

Goals & Progress for this Week:
--Edit Rivers of Stone, 5 out of 7 days each week. So far, 3 out of 3 days. I love writing in this world of traveling through wilderness in the 1840s!
--Awaiting final approval from ACX for Standing Stones' audiobook. Had a glitch, now corrected. Now waiting the 10-14 days for approval.
--Blog x3 each week on ROW80x2, Poets on the Page Mon x1. All posted. WIPpet Weds one day late (see below). Current with reading all.
--Build realistic marketing plan. I'm actually reading The Frugal Book Promoter, and making notes.
--Review 2 books by indie writers each month. List other books read. Yes! Finally. One review (Annette Drake's cozy Death Goes to the County Fair) completed and posted! Just read a horrible (and nameless) book about bikers (tats and all), and a fascinating tale by S. J. Watson, Before I Go to Sleep, a debut novel about a woman with amnesia who forgets everything that she knows and remembers every night -- until she keeps a secret journal. Does anyone else get seduced into reading far too many books on Kindle?
--Exercise minimum 2x week, building to 3x week. Well, does one short session and a walk count?
--Declutter office and E-mail under 150. Yep. Clean up WSQ projects, write letters. Not yet.

WIPpet Wednesday (one day late): Based on the date, 2016 brings you 17 (16 + 1 for January) sentences from Rivers of Stone. It's 1846. We join Cat, back on the river with the fur brigade traveling west on the Hayes River in upper Manitoba:

    Sobered, the men clambered down from the overlook. They were truly in the middle of nowhere, desolate, unending forests, and the river before them roiling with white water, despite it being late summer. "Somebody say a prayer," said one of the men.

    Pierre hit his arm. "Hell, we don't need a prayer. Just stay clear of that whirlpool."

    Cat stayed on the hill with Thurston. They watched the rest of the men climb down to the river’s edge where the boats had been pulled ashore, and she wondered if today her journey would end. Cat surveyed the land around her, limitless trees, the gorge ahead cutting deep and the river boiling white with spray up the narrow channel.

    The rest of the party seemed a little nervous, checking and tightening ropes on the packs. When all was stowed away, Pierre called out. “Follow me and paddle hard, as if the devil were after you.” His boat was the first to enter the gorge. His crew shouted and paddled in unison, their oars flashed in the sunlight. 

    Thurston and Cat saw the boat emerge at the end of the gorge as if the river spit it out. Thurston waved to the men below. “He’s through. Take the next boat.” 

And that's all folks. Time to get back to work . . . Check  out what other folks have written at ROW80 HERE and read a few snippets from WIPpet writers HERE.

Whitemud Falls from "Paddling through History" by Bartley Kives,Winnipeg Free Press
Note: This great article also has a very clear map of the Hayes River from York Factory down to Norway House, exactly the route that fur traders took during the time of Cat's story.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

ROW80 Sunday check-in: busy, busy.

ROW80 progress from Monday to Sunday. Blue = making progress or completed. Red = not started yet.

--Finish editing Rivers of Stone, 5 out of 7 days each week. Steady progress so far. 2 of 3 days. 
--Review ACX recordings for audio version of Standing Stones, minimum of 2 chapters a day until finished (so far 54 out of 65 chapters complete). Complete by January 15. 
Completed the last chapters. This is pretty exciting as ACX will now review and, if approved, distribute my first audio book!!! 
--Blog x3 each week on ROW80, Writing & Travel blogs. Done. 

--Serve as ROW80 sponsor, participate in WIPpet Wednesday, Poets on the Page Mondays, and the Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG). Completed ROW80 article, read x5. Read x4 WIPpet Weds. Need to read POP and IWSG.
--Build realistic marketing plan. Read first 60 pages of Carolyn Johnson's The Frugal Book Promoter. Took a few notes, but I'm not seeing a clear path . . . yet.
--Reading. Review 2 books by indie writers each month (Jensen in progress; Annette Drake up next). No progress yet. 

--Exercise minimum 2x week, building to 3x week. Ran around a lot this last week. No formal exercise.

--Decluttering.  E-mail under 150. Office a little cluttered with too many projects. By end of next week: clean up WSQ projects, write letters.

--Quilting: Finished a comfort quilt top and another panel top for a baby quilt. 

Signed up for a quilting workshop with Sandy Turner at the end of the month. Oh, I'm excited about this. We take our sewing machines, fabric and rulers, and learn all kinds of new strategies for quilting. Her book, Big Print Patchwork, is already a classic.

Today, I'll babysit a one-year-old for a few hours. Last night, the four-year-old ran around her house, turning the lights off and shouting, "Mom, Dad, the power's off. We have to have a sleep-over at Gramie's!"

May you have a good week -- and check in with what other writers are doing for A Round of Words in 80 Days , , , ROW80 right HERE.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

ROW80 Weds check-in: Off to a snowy start

Goals for 2016 are posted HERE, and, surprisingly, it was fun to go for the 'big picture' for the year. Now for the nitty-gritty -- those goals by the round and by the week.

Priority ONE goals for Writing/Community/Other: 
--Finish editing Rivers of Stone, 5 out of 7 days each week. 
--Review recordings for audio version of Standing Stones, minimum of 2 chapters a day until finished (so far 54 out of 65 chapters complete). Complete by January 15.
--Blog x3 each week on ROW80, Writing & Travel blogs. 
--Serve as ROW80 sponsor, participate in WIPpet Wednesday, Poets on the Page Mondays, and the Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG).
--Build realistic marketing plan (haven't started yet).
--Review 2 books by indie writers each month (Jensen in progress; Annette Drake up next).
--Exercise minimum 2x week, building to 3x week.

So far, so good. Tonight's a board meeting (quilters' group), so this will be short. Go out there and conquer that blank page!