Thursday, March 24, 2016

ROW80: Goodbye to Round 1

I've changed my goals for this round so many, many times that I'm not sorry to see the end of Round One and the beginning of a little break before Round Two starts.

But something pretty awesome happened this round. I made a commitment to finish the draft of Rivers of Stone this year. OK, I've been writing, researching, drafting, and editing for three years now. I finished Section 4 yesterday, just under the deadline. Whoopee!

Here is my abbreviated progress report for Round 01. 

Writing. Finished second draft Sec04 on Rivers of Stone (top writing priority). Write 6 out of 7 days each week. Blog at least 2x week. Wrote 2 shorts for new edition of The Mermaid Quilt and drafted a few scenes for Granny Vampire. No progress on poetry book, novella, or Mothers Don't Die

Reading/Reviews: Read 4 books January, 6 books February, and 6 books March (total 16). Reviewed 2 books Jan, 1 book Feb, 3 books March (total 6). Kept up with sponsorship commitments for ROW80. 

Marketing/Community: Limited participation in social media & Spokane Authors. Postponed research trip to Toronto (summer 2016). Steady progress in reading writing magazines (writing craft), but no books.

Other: On target with quilting (2 comfort quilts completed, 1 baby quilt in progress). E-mails back up to 200. Very slow progress on exercise and on cutting back on that great temptation – ice cream. Still uncertain about the future as hubby not well. I've started another round of downsizing in case we need to move from third floor to first floor; we have way too many books. But on this week's walk, I saw red-winged blackbirds, the sun is out a little longer (daylight savings), and spring can be seen in the flowering forsythia.

I guess Round 1 of ROW80 was pretty good after all. Enjoy your break. Come back refreshed and ready to set those goals and make progress!

Monday, March 21, 2016

ROW80 Check-in: It's Sunday, right?

Yesterday I took a day off.

Here's my ROW80 Sunday morning check-in one day late with BLUE for steady progress, GREEN for holding my own, and RED for no progress -- yet.

1. Writing. Worked 6/7 days on Rivers of Stone. Just 12 single-spaced pages left to edit to meet my goal of finishing Section 04 before the end of Round 1. This is a biggie, so I'm working hard.

2. Reading. Started reading the first of two books for beta comments. Excited about both. Also reading Sue Eller's enchanting Meadowlark Madness: An Emily Trace Mystery (think private investigator + birders + aliens + a few Star Trek references). I felt right at home from the very first page! 

3. Marketing. GOAL: By Sunday, read 25 pages in a marketing how-to book (DONE) and identify 5 action steps to take before March 30 (working on this).

4. Community. Working on deleting e-mails (back up to 185, so no closer to goal of under 100). Did read and comment on 9 out of 10 blogs this week (goal x10). Feeling rather far behind in this category.

Unfinished business: Still noodling over the theme for the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge that starts April 1. Today's the day I'm supposed to post my theme, and I haven't yet. 

Sometimes when I'm writing, I move from quilting to writing and back again; otherwise, I end up sitting in front of the darn computer far too long. This block is from Sandy Turner's "Birds in the Air" (her book Big-Print Patchwork). 

The pattern is a little more complicated than my skill level, but working on this first block reminds me that sometimes we work in faith on one small step at a time to find ourselves achieving our goals. You can click on the picture below to see more detail. 

Which brings me back to making a decision for the A-to-Z Challenge. My first priority is to finish Rivers of Stone.  So for the month, I could stay in that workspace, writing about whatever challenge pops up through the month. 

Or, I could write poetry. Or I could jump into something new . . . the memoir/family history that I've been putting off forever OR one of several ideas for a short novella, including that funny tale that hasn't gotten really started yet, Granny Vampire. Or the quilting murder mystery. Or . . .

Biggest worry? That if I work on something else, I may not finish Rivers of Stone.

That's where I am this Monday am. Check out what others have written for A Round of Words in 80 Days AND join in with this great group that knows somehow we all have a life! 

Thank you, Kait Nolan for being our host and chief sponsor through every round -- and for writing today's inspirational post: "How Marginal Gains Can Bring BIG Results." 

Hmmm. Just what I needed!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

ROW80: Always the river

Here's my ROW80 Wednesday night check-in with BLUE for steady progress, GREEN for holding my own, and RED for not yet.

1. Writing. Worked 3/3 days on Rivers of Stone. Had fun with research as I continue editing and rewriting Section 04 with the goal of finishing this section by March 30. Working a minimum of 2/hours/day. Started a new notebook with a motivational cover for daily writing and drawing. 

2. Reading. No progress at all. GOAL: By Sunday, start an indie book for review.

3. Marketing. OK I did tweet this week. I'm enjoying being a part of 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook. GOAL: By Sunday, read 25 pages in a marketing how-to book and identify 5 action steps to take before March 30.

4. Community. Working on deleting e-mails (down to 135, so closer to goal of under 100). Read and commented on 4 posts so far this week (goal x10). 

Unfinished business: Still noodling over the theme for the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge that starts April 1. It's memoir or Granny Vampire. I think writing memoir will take me dark places I don't want to go, and for now, I'm drawn to humor. Granny Vampire, look out!

Today I took a friend down to the Spokane River so we could marvel at the last rush of high water (a couple of pics below). It was the first time she had been there since her husband died 7 months ago. Not an easy time, but the river reminded me of white water in Canada, still beautiful.

Have a great week. Check out what others have written for A Round of Words in 80 Days AND stop by WIPpet Wednesday to see snippets of works in progress. 

Spokane River (March 2016)

Spokane River (March 2016)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

ROW80 Sunday night check-in: Not for the birds alone

This afternoon's first real walk at home took me past a nearby wetlands. The red-winged blackbirds are back. I saw a fat robin, a few ducks, and a trio of Canada geese headed south. Gotta love the birds.

Here's my ROW80 check-in with BLUE for steady progress, GREEN for holding my own, and RED for not yet. .

1. Writing. Worked 7/7 days on Rivers of Stone. Finishing Section 04 by the end of this round is looking possible. Maybe. Worked on other writing-for-fun (Granny Vampire) only twice this week.
2. Reading. Reviewed two books this week; not sure what to read next.
3. Marketing. Updated my profile on LibraryThing
. Suddenly sales have picked up for Years of Stone, and I don't know why. Mailed two copies of The Mermaid Quilt out for review. 
4. Community. Still behind in reducing e-mail clutter (holding at 160). Read and commented on 10 posts for the week. 

Signed up for the A-to-Z Challenge. The first challenge is to decide on a theme (due March 21). Usually I wing it day-by-day and write poetry for the month of April just because it's fun. But this year, I'm undecided. Do I write a serial, every day, to develop one of those novellas that keep tickling my imagination? Or do I start a drawing journal? Or work on memoir, tell the story of my grandparents and my mother through poetry and blog posts? If you have an opinion, please chime in . . . I'm so undecided. Argh!

5. Other: Got my sewing machine set up and finished a lap quilt. Baby quilt (hand sewing) slow but steady. Missed Spokane Authors this month (sigh), but did get to meet with my quilting buddies. 
Something new: Went to a Democratic caucus for the first time ever, a real mix of Hilary and Bernie supporters. This orientation prepares us for the BIG caucus later this month. Yep, I'm going. I've been a Democrat since grade school, causing me innumerable 'discussions' with my sister. 

Sometimes one short moment can unexpectedly transform the future. Are we ever prepared? The key question is how do we retain balance? This week I'm grateful for the kindness of friends and family -- F2F and virtual. Make it a good week.

And so we go, nearly to the end of Round 1. Checkout what others have posted for A Round of Words in 80 Days HERE 

Great Blue Heron, Wetlands near Corpus Christi (Feb 2016)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

ROW80 Weds Check-in: One Step Forward

OK, I'm finally over jet lag and finding a new rhythm to each day. We're home in Spokane. The birds are back, temps in the 40-50s, and no nasty cold wind swipes in from the north. DH's still an invalid, but there's slight improvement, so we're encouraged. We're watching some 'old' movies. Yesterday's highlight: My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Here's my ROW80 check-in with BLUE for steady progress, GREEN for holding my own, and RED for by gosh, I have to get on these goals.

1. Writing. Worked 2/3 days (so far). I would love to finish Section 4 by the end of this round. Maybe. Still having fun with Granny Vampire (see below for a snippet).
2. Reading. Finished C. C. Hunter's Born at Midnight. With 360 reviews, she doesn't need my review, but I'll post one later. Now reading Tammy Andreson's Midnight Magic (from The LibraryThing) and will review.
3. Marketing. Finally! Queried Reaching for a book review by e-mail yesterday and got an invitation to sub. Mailed review copy today. Will look at one other possible review by Sunday.
4. Community. Hopelessly behind in reducing e-mail clutter. Back up to 160 e-mails in the old inbox. Did read and comment on 9 posts for the week so far.
5. Other: May exercise today. May set up the sewing machine. Making steady progress on the hand sewing for the baby quilt (30% done). Making soup for dinner -- an experiment with chicken broth,  garlic, fresh spinach, and little Shu Mai dumplings. Working on staying balanced.

It's Wednesday, so here's my snippet for WIPpet Wednesday, kindly hosted by Emily Witt. Based on the date, you'll find March = 3 + today's date = 9 = 12 sentences below from Granny Vampire, very much early in draft stage:

Sarah stopped on the Roman tiles in the front entry way as a wave of smell hit her in the face. Unwashed bodies. Urine. Her nose twitched, and she wanted to forget the cinnamon roll she had eaten for breakfast. A tall, skinny man hunched over a mop and moved it slowly back and forth in the same place. Here’s where I put my big-girl pants on, thought Sarah. I’m not staying in this place.

“Now, Granny, first impressions are not always what they seem.” Ron tugged at her arm. “Let’s go talk to the director.”

First impressions, my ass, thought Sarah. You just want to get rid of me.

And so we go, hurtling to Sunday. Checkout what others have posted for A Round of Words in 80 Days HERE and for WIPpet Wednesday HERE

In case you missed it, here's my motivational essay for ROW80, "And the Big M -- Mystery." Have an outstanding rest of the week!

Trumpet Flowers at Texas Botanical Gardens (Feb 2016)
Spring is coming to the North as well!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

ROW80 Sunday night: Not for the birds!

It's been quite a crazy week. But thanks to posts by writers participating in A Round of Words in 80 Days and the Insecure Writers Support Group, I'm persevering!

The backdrop: Life goes on even when someone you love is sick. My ROW80 goals have been simplified . . . but despite the ups and downs of doctor appointments, new medications and more tests, these last several days have brought:

1. A new writing project just for fun, Granny Vampire, with an older-than-average paranormal heroine and a story line with humor. I may post snippets on Wednesday WIPpet. And I'm experimenting with Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake method to improve my writing productivity.

2. Real progress on the editing for Rivers of Stone. This combines research, writing, and editing. I'm glad to be home where all my books and files are quickly accessible!

3. A poem about birds transformed into a 'video poem'. This took a little more work, but I wanted to include some of the fabulous bird pictures I took while in Texas. See my 30 second video on my writing blog.

What am I reading? C. C. Hunter's Born at Midnight, a well-written YA story featuring a paranormal with all that teen-aged angst about identity, relationships, and separation from parents. And for the first time, I 'won' three books from The LibraryThing to read -- and review! Aargh! My TBR pile is going to topple over!

What's next? sincere thanks to those intrepid writers (and hosts) who make A Round of Words in 80 Days and the Insecure Writers Support Group possible. Why not find out what everyone else is doing and offer some words of encouragement?

An amazing crane
hanging out by the fishing boats
in Rockport, Texas (February 2016)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

ROW80 Check-in: Another Challenge?

Take Control of Your TBR PileI can't believe I'm taking on another challenge. Thanks to Kat Morrisey and a few others leading the way, the March Take Control of Your TBR Pile CHALLENGE starts right now! 

Here's my working list of books that have been in my TBR pile for over a year (not counting books on Kindle). 
1. Ape House by Sara Gruen.
2. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini.
3. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.
4. Incidents of Travel in Yucatan by John Lloyd Stephens.
5. Springer's Heart by Bob Manion.

Perhaps this new challenge is just a metaphor for change. We're home. Nothing changed here but the garage door won't open, the kitchen light won't work, and it's a sharp drop from 75 degrees to a high of 40, with yesterday's morning rain looking awfully like sloppy snow. DH's back went into spasm, and he can barely walk, grunting now and then, those short gasps that say serious pain has taken up residence. Yesterday was doctor day and a rough 7-10 days ahead. I'm hoping the stronger muscle relaxant will work. At least he had Super Tuesday to get him through the day/night, though how many more times I can hear those TV hosts say, "Stand by for breaking news"?

I've only been gone a month, but friends have hubbies in the  hospital, cats and dogs and birds have died, and it's still not spring.

ROW80 goals for writing? By this Sunday, at least 3 out of 4 editing/revising sessions for Rivers of Stone.

Community? Attend Spokane Authors, Read ROW80 x 6. Maybe write a blog article on a new book I found.

As for the rest, just maybe not this week.

And is it Wednesday, time for WIPpet Wednesday? Yep. Under the working premise of it's better to write something than nothing, I offer the following short opening, something funny to play with between the round of editing for Rivers of Stone above. 

Here's 105 words (the math related to the date = 3/2/2016 = 14 sentences divided by 2 because I feel only half home = grand total of 7 sentences. Working title? Granny Vampire. My only question: Would you want to read more?

If Tommy Hunter cut in front of her one more time, flipping his long blonde hair and flashing her a grin like dimples trumped who was first, she’d transform right before his eyes into a blazing vampire with knifes for fingernails. Sandy tipped her head back on the pillow, imagining the black leathers she’d wear and the look on his face as she moved in for the kill.
A bell chimed, once, twice, three times.
Dammit, she thought. Breakfast time. 
Sandy coughed and reached for the walker close to her twin bed. If I could turn myself into a vampire, now would be the time.

That's it . . . Have a great week. See y'all Sunday. Read what others have written for WIPpet Wednesday and ROW80.  And keep our online community hanging in there!

Not a self-portrait but pic of Iguana from
South Texas Botanical Gardens (Feb 2016)