Sunday, September 17, 2017

OK, so maybe I'm doing that walk of shame as somehow the last two check-ins for ROW80 have slipped right by me. I have two relatively big excuses (besides babysitting).

Revisions on Chapter 71 have taken up many hours in the last two weeks. Maybe, just maybe I'm closer. The next and last revision goes to writer's group this Wednesday. I don't like to argue with anyone at all, but my two main characters need to confront each other.

An opportunity for a radio interview popped up Monday, with recording on Friday. I learned a lot, had fun with an amazing host, and wrote about it HERE on my writing blog.

Meanwhile, here's the official check-in for Week 11 with Round 3 ending on September 21 (this week).

WRITING: Good but grueling progress on that last chapter of Rivers of Stone. Wrote another 1,000 words on the memoir and warmed right up with a poem this morning for OctPoWriMo (a poetry writing challenge that asks participants to write a poem every day throughout the month).

GOALS for the coming week: Write a poem a day. Write at least 400 words for afterword/book blurb. James Scott Bell has very useful 'how to' suggestions in his Marketing for Writers Who Hate Marketing (the shoe fits). Write at least 500 words on the memoir. Keep reviewing poems for poetry chapbook with goal to publish before summer 2018 (currently have 90 pages).

BLOGGING:  Posted 2x this week and read x14 what others posted. GOALS for the coming week: Post Weds for ROW80 and take a break to set goals for ROW80's Round 4. Read everyone who posts for ROW80 on the blog or in  FaceBook. Continue to post those poems daily on my Writing blog. Luckily I like short poems.

MARKETING: Steady but very slow progress in Bell's book. GOALS for the coming week: Firm up one pending workshop. Set up GoodReads giveaway. Keep pricing for Standing Stones and Years of Stone on Amazon at .99c through September.

OTHER: Finished a comfort quilt and already am excited to start the next one. Doing pretty good with exercise and diet (lots of salads), but it's time to see the doctor about those runaway blood sugars. PR for Spokane Authors on track. Still need more work on decluttering that e-mail.

READING: So far 7/15 for the month. I'm having fun reading April White's Marking Time: The Immortal Descendents, Book 1 (438 pp, 4.5 stars on Amazon with 1,200+ reviews). Saira Elian, a young girl whose mother abandons her routinely, is a tagger armed with a can of spray paint. Then she finds out she can time travel. And the plot takes interesting twists from there.

That's this week, folks. Hope all is well with you. If you haven't yet joined A Round of Words in 80 Days, please consider it. We set goals and try to achieve them with steady work and encouragement. Check out ROW80 writers on our website or on our FaceBook page.

Have a great week!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

ROW80: Oops! Missed Wednesday.

There I was at the end of the day, just settling into writing my Wednesday check-in for A Round of Words in 80 Days, when the phone rang. "Help, Mom! I need a babysitter." Oh, this Gramie can move when needed. In under 5 minutes, I was out the door for a little over an hour. Did I say it was 9:45 pm?

So, this morning's (the morning after the night before) check-in shall be modest as we move nearly as fast to the end of Round 3 (only 14 days left!).

Weds Check in Round 3, Week 10:

WRITING: Goals: Write wrap-around materials for Rivers of Stone. Complete revisions. Prioritize writing projects (Prequel + Memoir). PROGRESS: Drafted back of the book copy. All else set aside for revision of the final chapter (more about that below).

BLOGGING. Blogging: Post in Writing blog x1 and ROW80 blog x2/each week. Read other writers x6. Post monthly for the Insecure Writer's Study Group. PROGRESS: Posting ROW80 today. So far, read 2. IWSG post due later today!

READING: Read 15 books a month. Review 2 books each month. PROGRESS: A little slow here, but finished 3 books and am rigorously deleting books off my Kindle (187 books is just too many). Have 14 on the 'must read' list.

MARKETING: Work on release of Rivers of Stone. Work on marketing 3 hours each week. PROGRESS: Actually feeling pretty good about this. Reading, reviewing, making lists. So far this week, about 4-5 hours.

OTHER: Write 2 articles a month. Continuing: Support Spokane Authors & Self-Publishers with publicity. Also continuing: Declutter! Everywhere! Personal: Quilt, exercise, maintain healthy blood level/diet. PROGRESS: Other than decluttering e-mail and sewing doll clothes for the grands, and being reasonably focused re diet and exercise, this goal is a back-grounder.

NOW TO THE REAL STORY about what I've been working on this week, or what some might call the rest of the story. I've talked about this a little here. That last chapter. My group had some comments, but not until I gave a copy to my live-in brilliant editor DH did I begin to "see" how to "re-vision" the last chapter.

His advice? To think about the chapter from THE POINT OF VIEW CHARACTER, what she wants and how she's feeling. My main character is strong, the actor rather than being acted upon. Even the revisions I'm working on can show you what this means.

OLD VERSION: "You must be Mrs. McDonnell," said Mr. Clark. "And a fine morning it is. Welcome to Oregon City. I'll get your husband for you. Just wait here." The tall, portly man gave her a lingering glance that made Cat wonder what Dougal had said about her.

Once again, Cat found herself pacing nervously in the Mercantile, her skirts rustling as she walked around the smalls tore. Had she come too early? Maybe she should have waited until later in the day. Or changed her mind entirely. What would she say to him She raised her chin. I'm here to say goodbye.

REVISED SO FAR WITH MORE TO COME: Cat dashed across the street in front of a team of horses. She shook her skirts out before entering Clark’s Mercantile and pursed her lips. Dougal has some explaining to do, she thought. And this time, he’s going to tell me everything.

Inside, she spotted Mr. Clark bent over a large accounting ledger. “Mr. Clark, I’d like to see Mr. McDonnell.”

“Good morning, Mrs. McDonnell,” said Mr. Clark. “And a fine morning it is. Welcome to Oregon City. I’ll get your husband for you. Just wait here.” The tall, portly man nodded and scooted out the back door of the shop.

Cat paced back and forth. She didn’t like waiting, and she didn’t like being in the closed-in store. How could he stand it after being on the trail? She raised her chin. That doesn’t matter. I’m here for answers. And if he can’t satisfy me, I will say goodbye. She turned back to the counter just as Dougal entered.

May you have a good week, productive and grateful for all that life brings you. If you're here from WIPpet Wednesday, hope you enjoy the snippet in progress. Find out what other ROW80 writers are up to on our WEBSITE or on FACEBOOK! Why not join in?

Sunday, September 3, 2017

ROW80 Sunday check-in: Forward we go!

Ever since Thursday afternoon, I've been a bit at loose ends. Finished revising the last chapter of Rivers of Stone. Still celebrating a little. But now I'm organizing the how-to publish (which platform to use), and writing the wrap-around materials (forward, afterword, more words for promo). So, the progress feels a little convoluted this week.

Rachel shared a motivational quote: "Don't burden your future self. Do it now!" That's been my motivation this busy week as I look to the end of Round 3 coming up September 21. For my list of goals for Round 3 was long and, rather like a cactus, somewhat full of bristles.

Simply put, my goals for September, the rest of Round 3, and the coming week:

  1. WRITING: Write wrap-around materials for Rivers of Stone. Complete revisions. Prioritize writing projects (Prequel + Memoir).
  2. BLOGGING. Blogging: Post in Writing blog x1 and ROW80 blog x2/each week. Read other writers x6. Post monthly for the Insecure Writer's Study Group.
  3. READING: Read 15 books a month. Review 2 books each month. 
  4. MARKETING: Work on release of Rivers of Stone. Work on marketing 3 hours each week. 
  5. OTHER: Write 2 articles a month. Continuing: Support Spokane Authors & Self-Publishers with publicity. Also continuing: Declutter! Everywhere! Personal: Quilt, exercise, maintain healthy blood level/diet. 

On the marketing front, I am somewhat in the middle of Denise Wakeman's 5-day challenge to create videos. Her Day 2 challenge was to create a video (or image) about who my readers are. Here's the result!


And last, but not least, here are three not-so-professional pictures of the wonderful quilt I made that honors the 50th Anniversary for two dear friends.

The Front

Detail of the front

The Back

Have a lovely holiday weekend. Find out what other ROW80 writers are up to on our WEBSITE or on FACEBOOK! Why not join in?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

ROW80 Weds Check-in: Beginnings!

Grump and groan. You've heard it all before. I sit in comfort, relatively cool from the outside nearly-September temp at 93F today (with 97F by Saturday).

Harvey's filled the news in a steady stream of flood disaster. After nearly a week of headlines about Houston, the front page of our local paper this morning featured nuclear disaster. Why not worry about that too? After all, aren't we all on the west coast possibly a prime target?

But the story in Houston keeps getting grimmer as the body count rises. Dramatic tales of rescue. Crowded shelters. And this is just the beginning, as it may well be months before people can return to their homes. I still remember the smell of mold in the basement of a New Orleans library several months after Katrina. At least we have generous first responders, all those volunteers, and the military coming together to help, and money/supplies are pouring in from everywhere.

American Alligator (Wikipedia)
Today's FaceBook funny/not-so-funny: Overworked firemen dropped the f-bomb when they spotted an alligator that turned out to be a life-sized lawn ornament! Turns out a local alligator farm owner is worried that his 350 alligators may ESCAPE during the flooding. As my mother would say, "Oofta!"

Midweek check-in for ROW80, Round 3, Week 9. 

WRITING: Finished 5 Chapters for Rivers of Stone since Sunday. Which means: TA-DA! The final revisions for ROS are complete, and I'm ready to format!!!!  Which also means I'm right on schedule for putting this puppy out before fall turns to winter.

BLOGGING: Interviewed Chris Loehmer Kincaid's about her lovely Where the Sky Meets the Sand on my Writing blog. Read x3 other ROW80 posts so far.

MARKETING: I was playing around with video storytelling as part of Diane Wakeman's 5-day Biz Challenge. The idea is to make videos (very short) and put them up on Instagram (a new venue that's foreign to me), so I'm using PowerPoint and Youtube. Not sure this is a good idea for me, but here's the first day's video:

My month-long promo of offering Standing Stones and Years of Stone (Books 1 and 2 of the McDonnell clan) for 99c (usually $3.99) kicked off officially today through MyBookCave. I'd also like to try BookBot Bill later this week.

OTHER: So what am I doing for fun? We had our first getaway in months. Went for an overnight trip to a waterpark in Idaho. Splashed in the water like kids. Ate out. Left just in time to avoid a tragic fire destroying a historic hotel. A friend donated lots of fabric for comfort quilts; I think I have enough for sewing through the winter. I'm doing just fine on diet and exercise. Tomorrow, that mystery quilt goes to its new home.

I still don't have a clue what to write about next now the BIG project moves into formatting, but maybe one of our ROW80 writers will have something inspiring going on. I'd love to write something light, happy, and romantic. I think we all need more light in our lives.

Have a great week. Check out what's happening on the ROW80 WEBSITE or on FACEBOOK!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sun ROW80: Forward ho!

Hooray for the internet. Kidney #1 left town with 20 pounds of peaches ready to can. I checked my small-print cookbook to find some 30 pages of advice. Then jumped on Google to find a handy-dandy how-to in under 10 pages. With pictures! The result - 5 nice quarts of peaches, canned and ready for winter!

So it's been a pretty amazing week as we ROW80 writers head to the end of August with 21 more days left for Round 3. Here's my weekly update (far from political or tropical storms, though we're tracking the devastation along the Texas coast closely):

Round 3, Week 8: ROW80 Goals, Progress, and What's Next:

WRITING Goals: Revise 5 chapters Sec03. Actually revised 13 chapters this week -- and started on the last section. Only 5 chapters to go for the coming week to actually finish the revisions for Rivers of Stone. Wow! I'm excited. Writer's group meets Thursday, and after 3 years of work, I just may be ready to start formatting and sending out review copies.

BLOGGING Goals:  Post x2. Report in for ROW80 Weds & Sunday. Read other ROW80 posts x6. Set up topics for coming week on Writing blog. Posted ROW80 x2, read other ROW80 writers x7, and have topics x2 for my Writing blog. Also posted a short take on our visit to the Vietnam War Traveling Memorial. Next week? Looking forward to a writer's interview (Chris Kincaid) for the Writing blog, timed just before her September 1 release. Also, the Insecure Writer's Support Group post deadline is Weds, September 6. My goal for the rest of the month is 1x each week for the writing blog.

READ and REVIEW: Reviewed Chris Kincaid's moving Where the Sky Meets the Sand, a novel about a young woman who is transformed by a trip to Africa. Have two library books to read: The Nazi Officer's Wife by Edith Hahn Beer, and The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan (about the Dust Bowl). Allen thinks my next book will come out of the Dust Bowl. I'm less certain, though my grandmother left Oklahoma as a teen roughly at the time of the Dust Bowl. Overall, I wanted to read 20 books this month, but so far have finished only 11.

 Later this week, my promo on MyBookCave will go live, so I'm trying to learn what wrap-around activities are best.

OTHER: Still doing pretty good on changing how I think about food (and how I eat). Found a lovely exercise class that feels like boot camp, and I love it! Goal to exercise x4 times this week. Actually x5. Spent this morning visiting with a friend to sort out donated material for comfort quilts. Now I have about 5 projects going.

Thank YOU, ROW80 facilitators: Shanjeniah and Eden. Hope the coming week is a good one for you. If you are reading this, why not check out what other ROW80 writers are writing and talking about on the WEBSITE or on FACEBOOK.
My next quilting project (Aug 2017)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Weds ROW80 Perseverance furthers . . .

As we move to the end of summer, cooler weather promises fewer distractions, yes? This week has been a doozy with DH scheduled TODAY for a procedure that puts me in the waiting room for 3 hours. I really don't want to be anywhere else and have notebook, Kindle, and latest quilt to bind for company. So, here's the midweek update.

ROW80: Round 3, Week 8:

WRITING: Goal this week: Revise 5 more chapters of Rivers of Stone. So far? Finished 5 chapters (2 early this morning), so anything more is gravy.  Now 68% done with Section 03. Thinking about the more problematic next section. My question about character arcs: How far does a character have to fall before pulling herself up out of the depths to that sometimes hard to achieve 'happy every after' ending?

READING: Doing a little better reading x3 posts so far by other ROW80 writers (goal this week x6). Finished Suzanne Brockmann's Some Kind of Hero, a rather fun read about a romance writer who falls for a Navy SEAL when his daughter goes missing. Pure entertainment. Fast-paced. Nearly finished (89%) with Chris Loehmer Kincaid's moving When the Sky Meets the Sand.

MARKETING: Finally, finally decided to put Standing Stones on an end-of-summer sale discount to 99c and, thunder fingers that I am, accidentally changed Years of Stone to 99c as well! So created a graphic promo, announced it on FB and Twitter. This is all prep for running a promo to new readers through Book Brag and My Book Cave (more about how all that works later). I'm back now to plan, schedule, carry out, evaluate, and recalibrate!
OTHER: Finished that mystery quilt. Now binding a comfort quilt with a steam-punk theme. House is relatively clean. I'm using SparkPeople to track weight, nutrition, and exercise goals. I even had salad for breakfast this week. Making reasonable progress. Actually, I'm not so worried about progress as in changing how I eat and what I eat (for now, that just means no sugar, no goodies -- and work on portion control). As they say, my goal is to live forever, and so far, so good!

The rest of the week looks much calmer than today. I hope the sun shines bright where you are and that you find all those words to flesh out your story. And why not check out what other ROW80 writers are writing and talking about on the WEBSITE or on FACEBOOK. Make it a good week!

Summer at Manito Park (2017)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

ROW80 Sunday Summer Check-in

This week was fairly intense with babysitting from 5:30 to 11 pm for 3 nights. I love my grands, but they can tire me out! Favorite moment? See mud pie party below.

This week, I spotted a letter to Ann Landers (not the right name, but you know what I mean), which talked about the sadness in getting older. Not just the loss of friends or being left out of family events, but that slow realization that we just can't do every day what we once did without thinking. I've noticed recently that some of those TV newscasters look about 12 years old! But I do worry about my husband's health and hope each day he will improve just enough to enjoy the time we have together. Perhaps this is why I can't quite achieve every goal each week, but I appreciate ROW80's routine that keeps me focused and connected.

Looks like our week of cooler weather is heading back to mid-90's tomorrow. Luckily I do get up very early, so I'm ready to make good progress in the coming week.

ROW80: Round 3: Week 7 - 8
WRITING. Revising Section 03 (20 Chapters/30K words). Goal by Sunday: Complete 5 chapters. Completed 8 chapters so 8/20 = 42% done with this section. Not as much progress in reviewing Section 04 in writer's group as we haven't met this week. Next week: Same goals. Minimum of 5 chapters of Sec03, with Sec04 postponed to the last week of the month.

WRITING PROJECTS: Finished the Call for Submissions form for SASP's website for our Anthology. Late on getting info on next month's speaker, but sent questions and will hope for the best. Next week: No other writing projects pending. Send PR on September speaker by 8/30.

MARKETING: No real progress other than those 3 poems submitted to a local library for its anthology. Meeting re possible presentation has been moved again. Next week: Make calendar and, most important, make decision about putting Standing Stones on perma-bargain. Considering MyBookCave for promo.

BLOGGING/READING: Currently reading Suzanne Brockmann's Some Kind of Hero (quirky writer meets hot SEAL whose daughter goes missing). Pure escape. I'm also trying to read a book by an indie writer with the goal to review before month end. Making no progress yet with blogging, and I keep falling behind on what others have posted for ROW80. Can I blame summer? Next week: Read that indie book. Write the review. Make a schedule for blogging. Read at least 6 other ROW80 posts.

OTHER: Still binding that mystery quilt. Goal to finish this coming week. Then I shall share a picture! The other major challenge I've set is to increase exercise to 4x/week (this week accomplished 5x), and to revamp my diet (more fruits/veggies, no sugar). Many of the changes suggested by The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet (whole wheat, grains) I've already made. So far, I'm holding steady and making progress. 

Here's that picture of the littlest grand I promised. Why not check out what other ROW80 folks are doing on the WEBSITE or on FACEBOOK. And have a great week!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

ROW80: Back on schedule . . .

You know that sinking feeling when disaster strikes? There I was, computer keyboard humming away, ready to write and revise. I opened up Section 03 of the current revision-in-progress to find five chapters missing. Let's just say blessings for back-ups and double back-ups. In under ten minutes, I was back at work.

So in the spirit of Wednesday, here is where I am with goals for the coming week:

ROW80: Round 3: Week 7

WRITING. Just starting revisions for Section 03 (20 Chapters/30K words). Goal by Sunday: Complete 5 chapters. Reviewing Section 04 (the last one!) in writers' group.

WRITING PROJECTS: Just burned way too many hours putting a proposal together to indie publish an anthology for our local writers' group. I'm figuring 30-40 contributors, 200 pages +/-, with graphics, and publish by mid-November. Proposal approved by board. Next: Call for Submissions form and promo.

MARKETING: Does it count that I handed out 6 bookmarks? I also am in the middle of setting up a presentation for another writing group. Did submit 3 poems to a local library for its anthology.

READING: Have read 8/20 books so far this month. Reviewed Lee Goldberg's The Walk about a somewhat sedentary white collar professional who tries to walk home after a devastating earthquake hits Los Angeles. I really liked the story, its many surprising twists, not the least being how the experience tested his integrity and core values. Of course, we did live in mid-Wilshire for five years -- without a car.

DECLUTTERING INSIDE AND OUT: Oh, was I efficient in this category. Maybe another form of procrastination. My e-mail is slimmed down considerably, I recycled through a foot-high stack of files, and got rid of (donated) a pile of cords and electronic gizmos I will never use. My goal to avoid diabetes has shifted into high gear after a nasty blood sugar test. If anyone is in a similar situation, consider The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet (available at most libraries and online). This book (with its positive tone and very specific steps) is transforming how I think about what I eat. Who could imagine salad for breakfast?

The last few days, temperatures have eased into the 80s, a very short bit of rain cleared out the smoke from nearby forest fires, so all seems possible once again.  Thank you, A Round of Words for 80 Days, for just being inspirational.

Why not check out what other folks are doing on the WEBSITE or on FACEBOOK. And have a great week!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

ROW80: Not quite normal

Was I the only one who woke up early this morning about 5 am, wondering if today's news would bring word of a nuclear explosion here or over there? And if a war came, how much would it change our world, our interconnected communities, our sense of balance. And so I remember those wars within my memory, the Korean War, Vietnam, Afghanistan.

My projects and progress seem quite small.

Yet today is Wednesday. Time to check in with A Round of Words in 80 Days. See what others are doing here or on our Facebook page. Why not join in?

Half-way through Week 6: August 7-13.

1. WRITING goal: Finish 5 chapters. Finished revising 7 chapters of Rivers of Stone this week so far. Beginning Chapter 45 tomorrow morning (I hope). That's 63% complete (44 of 70 chapters).
2. BLOGGING. Today, here. Maybe on the writing blog later this week. Did read 7x other posts so far.
3. OTHER PROJECTS: Worked on Spokane Authors project (2017 Anthology). Fascinating mix of creative stuff and then all the organizing needed around a timeline (volunteers, job descriptions, submission guidelines, releases, graphics, formatting).

Wednesday is also the day to share a snippet of what's in progress, inspired by WIPpet Wednesday, a small group of writers who share snippets of work in progress. So here are 3 paragraphs (since we are in the 3rd quarter of the year), from that chapter in Rivers of Stone when Cat finds her friend lost in the snow:

     When Cat came out from securing the barn, she faced a wall of snow. The blizzard had strengthened. She could hardly see the trading post, less than a hundred feet away. She heard a low cry. Was that an animal? Someone in distress? She took a few steps away from the protection of the barn, one hand on the fence that led to the fields.
     There. Again. Someone cried out, “Help!”
     Cat kept her hand on the fence as she worked her way towards the cry. She found Pete slumped over on the ground. His breath came slowly, as if it were caught in his chest. 

I really have no other words tonight. The picture of Mount Hood reminds me we are surrounded by beauty. Maybe that is enough.

Mount Hood (July 2017)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

ROW80: Sunday night special . . .

Why am I drawn to suspense this week? Weird dreams could be attributed to the weather -- still hot, and smoky air blowing over Spokane from forest fires. Our air quality hit 'hazardous' a few times this week (worse than Beijing). I honestly don't know which is better, these stinking hot summers or knee-deep-in-snow winters. Or Oregon's more moderate temperatures but constant rain from about October to May. Sigh. But I'm happiest about steady progress on the writing and feeling almost recovered from that stint of immersion babysitting.

Round 3, Week 5: July 30 - August 6 progress:

1. WRITING. Revised 10 chapters this week. Consolidated one chapter so up to chapter 38 out of 66 (OK so a percentage makes me feel good: 58% completed). Also started feeding last section to my small writer's group. Also writing chapter summaries as I go. Feeling good about steady progress.

2. BLOGGING. Posted "I Hate Tailgaters" for Insecure Writer's Study Group on my writing blog to respond to their question for the month: "What peeves you when reading/writing/editing?" Check out the post HERE. Working on a plan for better blogging. Posted 3x this week (met goal).

3. READING. Goal 25 books for the month. So far 5/25. Just started Rhenna Morgan's Unexpected Eden featuring parallel worlds (Earth and Eden). Finished Lisa Kessler's Moonlight (too x-rated for me) though a mix of jaguar and wolf shape-shifters was interesting. Less interesting was Christina Dodd's Just the Way You Are, a class-based plot with hard-working orphan falling for billionaire passing as the 'butler'. Again, a little x-rated (skipped pages). Doing a little better on reading what others have posted online (x4/6 for the week). Hoping for improvement (tonight and in the coming week). Reviews this week x1. 

4. MARKETING. Discovered MyBookCave, a newsletter for readers and authors that features free/discounted books; they do include x-ratings so you can steer away from the downright erotic (which Bookbub does not). Their newsletter goes out to about 78K subscribers, but is significantly less expensive than BookBub. Their website offers helpful info and online submission guidelines. 

5. OTHER: Visited with a group of would-be writers at a nearby assisted living complex and came away feeling that perhaps I had entertained them a little and inspired them with some new directions. But I'm also humbled by the stories they shared, and the gifts of health and family we share. 

Also proposed our local writer's association publish an anthology (poetry, fiction, nonfiction), with proceeds donated to a local charity. Maybe we'll do this every two years? Has anyone worked on a project like this? Have advice to share? Please comment or e-mail me! Thank you!

Recipe of the week: Ravioli tossed with green beans, spinach, sauteed in garlic chicken bites, mushrooms, and topped with Romano. Chopped veggie salad (that store-bought cabbage-based mix with apples added). Easy. Fast. Delicious. My goal: healthier meals.

Sunday means thinking ahead to the new week. May all your goals be met and the weather not quite as hot where you are. Check in with other ROW80 writers either on FACEBOOK or the WEBSITE.

My Rachel, inspired by Frida (July 2017)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

ROW80: Weds progress

Outside, the temps will be in the high 90s again, with the week ahead looking the same. Inside, I leave the windows open in the early morning, and the breeze smells so fresh. I'm still thankful for air conditioning. Imagine the 1840s when women wore long skirts, had babies at home, and in the summer, no air conditioning.

This week's progress on goals:

1. WRITING. Revised 3 chapters so far. Up to chapter 31 out of 67 (not counting what happens later today). Writing chapter summaries as I go. Feeling good about steady progress.
2. BLOGGING. Posted "I Hate Tailgaters" for Insecure Writer's Study Group on my writing blog to respond to their question for the month: "What peeves you when reading/writing/editing?" Check out the post HERE. Working on a plan for better blogging.
3. READING. Doing a little better on reading what others have written (x3/6 so far for the week). Currently reading Vickie McKeehan's Indigo Fire, a nifty thriller about a family abduction set in the Florida Keys. Reviewed Anne Baines' Hunting Delilah, another thriller about a feisty con artist who discovers a severed head in a freezer. Guess you can see I'm reading escapist genre stuff and loving it.
4. MARKETING. Circling around. No action. Yet.

OTHER: Yesterday was our 42nd anniversary so we celebrated with a movie (Dunkirk) and dinner out at a very nice restaurant called Clover here in Spokane. The waitperson (a kid, really) confided he had only experienced 'fine dining' for two months and was loving it. We loved our dinner too, exquisitely flavored -- from the caprice salmon appetizer, to the scallops with crab ravioli. No room for dessert. I should have taken a picture! Now I'm behind on exercising, diet, and quilting. Aargh. No wonder Wednesdays always feel like I'm behind.

Back to the writing. It is Wednesday, so here's a snippet as Cat, our fearless heroine, makes her way south by York Boat to Red River in Manitoba, 1840s. Yes, she's still disguised as a boy.

     Cat gagged the first time they saw a body. A man had been buried beside the river, but something had dug aside the rocks, and a skeleton gazed out at them.
     "Don't look if it makes you sick," said Pierre.
     “Won’t be the first one you see.” Lambidoux snorted.
     Thurston stopped to shape a rough cross of wood and reburied the remains at the top of the embankment.

Have a great week. May all your goals be met and the weather not quite as hot where you are. Tomorrow I'm teaching a workshop on getting started with writing. Should be fun. Check in with other ROW80 writers either on FACEBOOK or the WEBSITE.

Anyone catch the missing apostrophe???

Sunday, July 30, 2017

ROW80: Sunday check-in once again

July is very nearly gone. As Denise Young reminds us, only 53 days remain in Round 3.

This last month has been tumultuous with lots of people, commitments, babysitting, and major shifts in writing. I haven't looked at the goals for the round, keeping instead to week-by-week.


1. WRITING: Revise 5 more chapters. DONE: Actually revised 7 chapters and finished Section 01 of Rivers of Stone. Began revising Chapter Summaries as well. So far 12/27 chapters completed. Need these summaries updated to keep track of changed plotting and those pesky characters who keep changing their names. My overall goal is to publish Rivers of Stone by year-end, with Sections 01 and 05 being most challenging.

NEW GOAL? Thought I would start a notebook/folder for the next story, but despite the often seemingly overwhelming task in front of me, I want to keep my focus on Rivers of Stone. This week, I will begin revising Section 02 (12 chapters) and finish those Chapter Summaries for Section 01 (15 chapters).

2. BLOGGING: Post x2/week. Read other posts by 4x.  GOAL? Same for the coming week.

3. MARKETING. Not sure yet. I find it easier to set this aside. I am teaching a writing workshop this Thursday. Does that count for indirect marketing? And I did write an article on dialogue for Spokane Authors' newsletter. GOAL? At least review my notes and pick out ONE ACTION STEP to work on.

3. OTHER. Did resume swimming 2 out of 3x this week. Plan to continue. Dithering a little over which quilting project to do next. 

Here's a picture of the Happy Birthday quilt (African theme to celebrate our trip with friends to Tasmania) now in its new home, and I'm equally excited that secret project number 2 is now at the quilter.

Sometimes I think that quilting is much like writing as a project will (at least for me) emerge in pieces. I'm having fun with Pinterest collecting images of landscape quilts. My first effort is rather small, about 10" x 15" that I made in March of this year. But the block is calling for 'the rest of the story.'

Meanwhile, may your week go well. Check in with other ROW80 writers either on FACEBOOK or the WEBSITE. That's where I'm going next!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

ROW80: Sunday and home again . . .

Sometimes we learn again to be humble. After four days with my two lovely granddaughters (aged 5 and 2.5), I've relearned that my stamina has limits. And yet those kids are a joy, curious, and full of energy and love. Our day began at 7am and ended at 9pm. We were too tired to do much of anything else, BUT somehow, I got three days of writing sandwiched in before wake-up time.

WRITING GOAL FOR LAST WEEK:  Revise 3-4 more chapters. 

Completed Chapters 15-20. 

All other goals got postponed.

Biggest lesson learned? Being responsible for these two energetic children brought out a few symptoms of PTSS. I screeched when the little one ran out into the street and panicked at the noises at Jump and Bounce when the five year old hid for 15 minutes. So we are home now and it's quiet, though I haven't written the last 3 days. Tomorrow's Monday, and I hope for better progress when I report in on Weds.

Inspired by Elizabeth Ann Mitchell, here is my short list of goals for the week:

  1. WRITING: Revise 5 more chapters. Start a notebook/folder for the next story.
  2. Blogging: Post x2.
  3. Marketing: Not sure yet. Thinking about Holly Lisle's class.
  4. Other: Resume exercise x4 times this week. Decide what quilting project is next.

You can still pick up a free copy of  "My Selkie" through July 31 at Smashwords  

This short story led to Standing Stones, my first historical novel set in Scotland in 1840, also available deeply discounted on Smashwords through July 31.

Meanwhile, may your week go well. Check in with other ROW80 writers either on FACEBOOK or the WEBSITE. That's where I'm going next!

Backyard Treat (Summer 2017)

Monday, July 17, 2017

ROW80 Home and not home . . .

Breakfast by the computer. Writing done for the day. Next? Trying to post a late check-in for ROW80 (Welcome home after a week away), and getting ready for immersion babysitting. We leave in 2 hours for a four-day sleepover with those beloved grands -- the five-year-old and the almost three-year-old. Did I say we're not packed, and we're not ready? And feeling somewhat intimidated?

Progress since last check-in and goals for this week:

  1. Writing: Revised Rivers of Stone chapters 9-15. THIS WEEK: Complete 3-4 more chapters.
  2. Blogging: Nada last week. THIS WEEK: Post ROW80 x2 and Writing blog x1. Read x6.
  3. Reading: 3 books. Escapist reading only. THIS WEEK: Most likely escapist reading all week.
  4. Marketing: Gave 2 review copies away. No social media presence. Read 1 article. THIS WEEK: I can only improve. Most likely won't start until Friday. Or Saturday. OK: Do more reading. 
  5. Community: ROW80's post last week about what's ahead reminded me how much I appreciate this online writing community, even as it keeps evolving. So what can I do to support the new changes coming? THIS WEEK: Make a plan.
  6. Other: Made a breakthrough in designing current quilt. Finished the backing. Said 'yes' to teaching a "Let's Write!" workshop at a senior center. Really got excited about writing another article about a wonderful quilter I met at the Sisters' Quilt show for The Country Register. Need to work on both. Exercise? Forget about it! OK, we'll be chasing the grands.
And that's all folks as I try to climb back on a schedule. Check what ROW80 writers are up to on FACEBOOK or the WEBSITE and have a great week writing, enjoying summer, and surviving the current calamity.

Favorite memory of last week: Stopping at Timberline Lodge and admiring Mount Hood while eating a cheesecake slathered with raspberry sauce. Yes, we walked a little at high altitude.

Cheesecake view of Mount Hood

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

ROW80 Weds: Round 3 begins . . .

Round 3 begins and I feel a little like Alice, racing down that rabbit hole. We're packing for a week away, our first trip since January and leave tomorrow morning. So I'm not sure about posting goals for Round 3 for A Round of Words in 80 Days, but I can post goals for the coming week (slightly adjusted since we'll be on the road, but, trust me, the writing/laptop is packed)!

ROW80 GOALS Week 1 Round 3: Keeping it simple for the coming week: 
--Writing: Revise 2 more chapters for Rivers of Stone
--Blogging: Post in Writing blog x1 and ROW80 blog Weds/Sun. Read other writers x6.
--Reading: Read 2 books this week. 
--Marketing: Drop off bookmarks wherever possible. Read one marketing book. 
--Other: Draw and journal while on the road.

Last week was pretty amazing with 3 more chapters completed for Rivers of Stone, a comfort quilt completed. Started making doll clothes for the grands. Bought a few doll clothing patterns at an amazing price ($1.99). Who knew these patterns now cost $16-$18/each???? Had an exceptionally useful meeting with my small writing group AND recruited my first 2 early reviewers. Also subbed an article to The Country Register; it was accepted AND they want to review Rivers of Stone (once it's out there).

Biggest challenge this last week? Digging into revision (I wrote about this on my Writing Blog HERE for the July post for The Insecure Writer's Support Group).

Actually worked pretty consistently on marketing this week (MailChimp, Smashwords promotion, website update) AND am offering "My Selkie" (a short story) FREE through July on Smashwords.  One writing guru suggests becoming an 'affiliate' for Amazon and for Smashwords. Has anyone tried this? Results? Did you continue?

Now check out what other ROW80 folks are doing: We're an online group of writers who set goals, work on writing, and encourage each other as we all balance 'real life' with our writing.  We're on FaceBook and have a website HERE

Why not join in? Stay cool. It's only July.  Keep writing and take some time to enjoy summer. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

ROW80: Hot Sunday check-in

Temps highest so far this summer:  expected to be 95F today, and, yes, I turned down an opportunity to go pick strawberries! Instead, I'm dithering away about my writing goals (and actual performance) and that neat 1,000-piece puzzle in our cool (for now) apartment. I've been working on downsizing this week and finally donated the last of 5 boxes of books to our library for their annual book sale. These books are on Mayan and Aztec culture, left over from teaching humanities. OK, so I kept 10. Do I really need 3 bookcases in my little office???

Do you still have books that you can't quite say 'no' to?  Don't you love the feel of a book, the snap of pages as you read through, engrossed by maps and charts and glossy photographs. Alas, that tiny print has pushed me almost entirely to Kindle, and I'm letting go -- slowly -- of some of my favorites.

Last week's progress was pretty good. The writing and revision for Rivers of Stone goes slowly but steadily (more about that on my Writing blog a little later today). Chapters 5-7 are now relatively complete. And I finally worked on marketing, balancing reading with action steps. Completed publicity for Spokane Authors; proofed newsletter and worked on a library report for Washington State Quilters. Reorganized my quilting corner (actually in a closet), finished my secret quilting project, and am 50% through binding a comfort quilt.
Beth's sewing closet!

Did I post on my writing blog? Not this week. I am working through a step-by-step workshop by Shelly Hitz of Training Authors (and other research) that is helping me to identify areas to work on. For the blog, my first steps are to 1) Understand what my goal is in writing the blog -- reaching out to readers and other writers of historical fiction. 2) Plan out a series of content my readers would be interested in (The key here is to have fun. More of a 'what if?' approach). 3) Make a consistent schedule that I can commit to.

More Progress with Marketing? Had fun uploading an author interview that video/storyteller Sandy Jensen did of me last summer at Lake Chelan (we ran into each other by accident). Uploaded the video to Amazon USA and to Amazon UK. You can see it HERE.

Other major changes: I ended my enrollment in KDP Select and am in the process of relisting my books on Smashwords. Lots of technical reasons. The most important being I feel invisible on Amazon, and I really like being able to use coupons for discounts and giveaways on Smashwords. So, we'll see. Have you gone wide or narrow re Amazon/Smashwords? Was that an easy decision?

GOALS: Keeping it simple for the coming week: 
--Writing: Revise 3 more chapters for Rivers of Stone.
--Blogging: Post in Writing blog x1 and ROW80 blog x2. Read other writers x6.
--Reading: Read 3 books this week. Review 1 book by an indie writer, and 2 more chapters in Sally Mitchell’s Daily Life in Victorian England.
--Marketing: Work on magnet. Set up GoodReads giveaway. Enter Smashwords summer reading promo. Keep working that marketing plan!
--Other: Complete binding for comfort quilt. Exercise 5/7/days. Enjoy the summer!!!!

Now check out what other ROW80 folks are doing -- at least those who don't stop for the proverbial break between 80 day rounds. We're an online group of writers who set goals, work on writing, and try to encourage each other.  We're on FaceBook and have a website coordinated by two amazing facilitators: Eden Mabee and Shan Jeniah Burton. Thank YOU! Why not join in?

Peonies in Manito Park (June 2017)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

ROW80: Weds Progress

Peonies in Manito Park
It's that time of summer when the flowers begin to shrink from the heat, and walks are best taken early in the morning.  Here's my short progress report for this nearly-last-week of Round 2.

GOALS for this week:

--Writing: IN PROGRESS: 3 DAYS ON CHAP6. Revise 3 more chapters for Rivers of Stone. IN PROGRESS: Photocopy & read 3 chapters in Sally Mitchell’s Daily Life in Victorian England. NOT AT ALL: Write 500 words for NOVELLA.

-- Blogging: NOT YET: Post in Writing blog x1 and POSTED TODAY: ROW80 blog x2. Read other writers x6. SO FAR READ X6.

--Reading:  DONE: Read 3 books this week. PENDING: Review 1 book by an indie writer.

--Marketing: DONE: Move research material into my marketing plan. IN PROGRESS: Identify ONE action step for this week. Had fun uploading a video, updated bio, and pic to Amazon's Author Central in the UK and the USA. Double-checked that Amazon's Author Central in India was current. Can't find Author Central for Australia. Darn.

--Other: IN PROGRESS: Work on promo for Spokane Authors and write newsletter article. PUTTING BINDING ON: Complete another comfort quilt. DONE: WSQ Newsletter. DONE: WSQ storage study. GOOD PROGRESS: Exercise 5/7/days. So far, 3/7 days, swim/walk each day.

A little more about the writing: Revisions are coming along. I'm deleting, revising, adding, and deleting more than I'm adding. At roughly 3 chapters a week, I'm guessing it will take me 5 months to finish -- unless I find some superhuman way to be more productive! Suggestions?

Here's a snippet from Rivers of Stone:  Cat has safely landed at York Factory just off Hudson's Bay and has been assigned to the trading post there. It's August 1842 and the little snippet below is her first day at work:

     “I’ll take over Jacob’s ledger,” said Mr. Murray. “Cat, follow old Gillis there. He’ll show you what to do.”
     She shadowed the gnarled assistant trader around the store as he took care of the Cree. Gillis spoke to them in their own language, the words sounding like a song to Cat, words she didn’t know and couldn’t translate.
     “Will you teach me some words,” she asked after the Cree had left the store.
     “Aye, I’ll teach you.” Gillis rubbed the remaining three fingers on his hand. “You should have been here in the old days, when we lived in the stone houses, before all this was built. The ice was so thick on the walls we cut it off each morning with axes.” He laughed, a low guttural sound. “Even the cellar we dug under the stove wasn’t warm enough to keep our rum from freezin’.”

York Factory, 1853 (Wikipedia)
Perseverance furthers! May you have a good week of reaching your writing goals. Enjoy each day of summer, for we all know another winter is on the way. Check out what other ROW80 writers have written HERE or on our Facebook page HERE.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

ROW80: Sunday, Sunday

I'm still trying to find a way to simplify and report progress for ROW80 at least once a week. Wednesday's three meetings put me behind, Saturday's garage sale was exhausting, and those new glasses are playing havoc with my eyes. With hopeful heart, here's my update.

GOALS/progress for Round 2, Week 10: June 12-18: 

Revise 3 more chapters for Rivers of Stone. (Completed Chapters 3-5).Read 3 chapters in Sally Mitchell’s Daily Life in Victorian England. (Did read 2 chapters). Write 500 words for NOVELLA. (no progress). I'm pretty sure after two weeks of no progress that I can't really work on two different projects with any depth.

Blogging: Post in Writing blog x1 and ROW80 blog x2. (Posted once). Read other writers x6. (No progress).

Reading: Read 3 books this week. Read 4 this week (10/15 for June). Highlight: Fear University by Meg Collette. What’s not to like about a scrappy street-wise kid who can’t feel pain? She's kidnapped and sent to school to learn how to kill half-man, half wolf creatures in a secret war to save humanity. Excellent world-building. 4.5 stars. Review 1 book by an indie writer.

Marketing: Move research material into my marketing plan? Finally, done! Identify ONE action step for this week. (Not yet.)

Other: Work on promo for Spokane Authors. Steady progress here. Complete another comfort quilt. Working on bindings. Exercise 5/7/days? This week: 4/7 days (swim/walk). Saved $20 and cut my hair myself!

Re the writing: I'm reworking my characters for Rivers of Stone. Somehow Rivers of Stone began with two very unhappy characters -- fighting with each other, mistrusting each other, and essentially betraying each other. This is not the story I wanted to write. The bones of the story, the setting in mid-19th Century, and the conflicts are relatively fine. But who these two people really are? Not so much. So here's another reason for moving away from intuitive writing (pantser) to researching, mapping out the plot, and building the characters BEFORE beginning!

Goals for the coming week: Unchanged.

Check out other ROW80 writers on FaceBook or on the ROW80 website HERE!  Thank you, Eden, for reminding me (and all writers) that writing really is hard work. As we think ahead to the next round of goals and writing projects, may your own writing go well.

Summer lily at Manito Park

Sunday, June 11, 2017

ROW80 Sunday check-in . . .

I skipped reporting in for ROW80 entirely this last week. Maybe the weather changed. Maybe I was sidetracked by the struggle over my glasses. I had wanted to continue work on my novella AND begin revisions on Rivers of Stone.

Instead, I learned once again that working on more than one project (at least for this week) leads me to circle around as if I'm not quite ready to work on anything at all. 

I am thrilled at the level of revision this week, though, on Rivers of Stone. My main character, Catriona, is getting a makeover!

GOALS LAST WEEK (Blue = progress. Green = some progress. Red = no progress):
--Writing: Minimum 3 hours on RIVERS OF STONE. Wrote/revised Chapters 1-5 on 5/7 days and added 1,227 words. Minimum 1,000 words on NOVELLA. No progress. Did read some in Sally Mitchell’s wonderfully rich book, Daily Life in Victorian England.
-- Blogging: Posted Weds in Writing Blog for IWSG. ROW80 Weds and Sunday. Did not post this week. Read other writers x6. --Read a book by an indie writer and review. Read 2 others for fun. Read 5 books this week/no review.
--Marketing: Continue organizing marketing materials into a REAL PLAN. No progress.
--Other: Finished 2 comfort quilts. Exercise 5/7/days? Walked 3x this week.

Now, how can I improve my productivity across the range of my goals?

Found this interesting article, "Habits vs. Goals: A Look at the Benefits of a Systematic Approach to Life," from Shane Parrish's weekly e-newsletter. Well worth a read.

My habit has been to start writing immediately on getting up in the morning, but since June 1, I've been worrying. Which project do I work on? Do I really know how to edit Rivers of Stone? How can I work on that novella if I haven't enough research? So those precious morning hours have flown by as I dither and delay.

This article reminded me of the value of habits I already have -- and to start small on goals/action steps. So for the coming week:

GOALS for this week:
--Writing: Revise 3 more chapters for Rivers of Stone. Read 3 chapters in Sally Mitchell’s Daily Life in Victorian England. Write 500 words for NOVELLA.
-- Blogging: Post in Writing blog x1 and ROW80 blog x2. Read other writers x6.
--Reading:  Read 3 books this week. Review 1 book by an indie writer.
--Marketing: Move research material into my marketing plan. Identify ONE action step for this week.
--Other: Work on promo for Spokane Authors. Complete another comfort quilt. Exercise 5/7/days. 

Have a great week. Check out what others have written for ROW80 HERE or on Facebook HERE.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

ROW80: Revision ahead

Round 2 for A Round of Words in 80 Days. It's Week 9, with 22 days left before the end of this round, and I've been working hard on goal setting -- for the month of June.

ROW80 Goals for June:
  • WRITING: Continue work on Moira and Dylan's NOVELLA, The Island Wife (4,000 words by month end). Begin review/revision of Rivers of Stone (40 hours by month end).
  • BLOGGING: Post 4x on Writing blog, post 8x on ROW80 blog. Post June 7 for Insecure Writers' Support Group. Read posts by others x5/week.
  • MARKETING:  Read Bell, complete Hitz marketing workshop, develop 200-300 key words for Amazon Express ad (for Reaching). Combine MailChimp lists. Send newsletter June 15. Continue organizing marketing materials.
  • READ: 10 books/month (at least 1 on marketing and 1 + review for indie writer). Read 6 writing mags/month. 
  • OTHER: Complete 1 comfort quilt. Keep e-mail under 100. Continue Spokane Authors press releases/articles.
I'm a little leery of working on two different projects at the same time. One usually ends up taking precedence. But I really like Fallon Brown's multi-bubbling projects. A few hundred words here, a few more there. Progress!  My goals are hopefully specific enough that I can track that progress and surprise myself. Now to report in from last week.
  • WRITING: Added 7,013 words to The Island Wife (goal 40K) for the month of May. Most of this is plotting, but dialogue and scenes are starting to show up. Printed out first 100 pages of Rivers of Stone and handed them over to my severest critic. 
  • MARKETING: Finally made progress in organizing marketing goals. This may sound anal to some, but the currently 30-page file is now organized by goals, chart of timeline of marketing strategy, and alphabetical by marketing strategy and notes. 
In other words, May is soon over, but we shall persevere.

PS: I'm wearing my old glasses and can SEE again!

To celebrate Wednesday, here's a snippet from those two brothers, Dylan and Michael, who've just rented a corner of a room in the slums of 1840's Edinburgh:

     “At least we’re away from the stink.” Dylan shoved the blanket into the corner of the room they had rented. “When do we have to pay again?”
     “Before we’re ready, I’m thinking.” Michael sniffed the air of the crowded top floor room, its windows shuttered, and the air close with the smells of sour beer and sweat. The room stretched some fourteen feet long and eight feet wide. The floor was littered with bodies wrapped in ragged blankets, a mix of men, women, and children still sleeping, though it was past noon.
     “How much do we have left?” asked Dylan.
     “Enough.” Michael looked around. “An’ we should no’ be talking about it here.”
     Dylan gave a short nod. “We best be finding some kind of a job.”
     “Bring yer stuff,” said Michael. “I’m no’ ready to leave what we have behind just yet.”

And I'm not ready to leave their story behind. Have a great week. Check out what others have written for ROW80 HERE or on Facebook HERE.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

ROW80: A Wish for Vision

Well, those darn glasses are still being pesky. It's back to the doctor tomorrow. I can't read more than 20 minutes, or work on the computer, or sew without my eyeballs feeling like they're swimming in mustard. So aside from the hot compresses, weepy eyes, and eye muscle strain (sorry for the whining), I'm wishing for better vision this week as I report in for ROW80.

Another beta read for RIVERS OF STONE came in this week. I should be celebrating, but . . .  this reader stopped after reading the first 85 pages, said she found nothing to like about my characters, didn't read historical fiction, and that my stories are too sad.

My only answer is that these are the stories I am drawn to, stories of people who struggle. Yes, my characters suffer, but they find love and survive, and . . . Chris Stenson posted a meme from Sylvia Plath on Facebook, and it made me sigh.

Sometimes writing is hard. I didn't expect every beta reader to have positive comments, for not everyone will enjoy reading my historical fiction (not cozy, not romantic exactly). But I'm struggling a bit this week. I'm also stubborn, driven by this vision of what life was like. So I'll fall back on that mantra of the 1970s: Perseverance furthers!

The rest of this week's report for ROW80:

Writing: Amazing progress on that novella telling Moira and Dylan's story. +2,250 words. What kept me writing? First, I'm continuing with Randy Ingermanson's very structured Snowflake system and digging into character descriptions. Second, the new Writer's Digest, July/August 2017  just out features a theme on "Crafting Better Characters," about 4 articles on various strategies for adding depth to your characters.

"Steam Punk" Comfort Quilt
 (May 2017)
Blogged for ROW80 on Weds and Sunday (another first for a while). Did read posts by other ROW80 writers x4 so far. Posted a book review for an indie author. Found 2 great books for the novella: James G. Leyburn's Scotch Irish: A Social History, and another look at Sally Mitchell's Daily Life in Victorian England.

Other: Swam/walked 5 out of 6 days (so far), though we did almost get lost in the woods in an hour-long hike. Finished a comfort quilt (to see more detail, click on the image), and started another.

What needs more attention? Marketing. But that's for the coming week. Time for a coffee break. Have a great week and check in what other ROW80 writers are up to HERE on Facebook or on ROW80's website.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

ROW80: Another late Weds night

Got new glasses last week. Doc said this stronger prescription would help me read more easily. My advice before you leave the optical shop? Make darn sure those new glasses don't slide down your nose. 

All week, I've been struggling with eye strain, finding it impossible to read or work on the computer -- or even write for more than a good 15-minute chunk at a time. Today, glasses got adjusted, and I'm feeling grateful as some of the eye strain was immediately resolved.  Better tomorrow. Now it's catch up time.

Writing: Still working on the novella and Randy Ingermanson's SNOWFLAKE method. This morning I spent reading about Irish gangs in the 19th Century and Scottish slums in Edinburgh. Right on track for my 1,000 words a week (plotting/character descriptions at this point). I did play around with a post on my writing blog about my novella characters. It was so fun to find photos for several characters and to dummy up a cover for the novella. 

Best news ever? One of my beta readers came in with very helpful comments for Rivers of Stone. Thank you, Fallon Brown

Marketing: No real progress on any level, not even reading or filing, although Dave Chesson is offering a free training on using Amazon's Marketing Service effectively. I'm going to try it.

Community: Writer's group meets tomorrow. I have no real scenes to share . . . yet.  I don't think dabs of dialogue will count, but I'm intrigued by Dylan's older brother. He works on the Edinburgh & Glasgow Railway (1840s), survived a cholera epidemic, is rather bossy, maybe a bit of a fighter, and he says to his younger brother, "Don't you worry. I'll take care of that troll."

Catch up on what other ROW80 writers are doing HERE or on FACEBOOK -- and have a great week, at least until Sunday, our next check-in. The end of the month is nigh!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

ROW80: Weds night rather late . . .

Writer's group met today, and I got some feedback on my hopefully-close-to-final draft of Rivers of Stone. While I'd like people to fall in love with my story, critical feedback at this stage is more useful than happy faces scribbled in the margin.

But this beta reader told me (as tactfully as possible) that none of my main characters are likable. At least, not in the first 50 pages. How can my readers care about the story if they don't like the main characters? So do I wait out the rest of May, waiting for other comments before beginning to revise? Or do I dive in and work on the character motivations and arcs, setting aside the novella?

I've been working on 'the novella' (no real title yet), and completed about half the steps Randy Ingermanson suggests with his SNOWFLAKE method. The last two days involved writing the story line from each major character's point of view. It's been fun to discover some of their hopes and fears, along with bits of dialogue, plot twists, and lots of research questions. I've never done this kind of organized plotting before. Usually, the story emerges and evolves scene by scene. IF I continue with the novella, the big next step is to further develop the story with a four-page synopsis.

Goals for this week:
Purple = some progress. Red =  not yet. Blue = Done!

  • Another 1,000 words on the novella? 500 words so far. A little research. Just enough to know that more is needed.
  • Send monthly newsletter by May 20. 
  • Read a book by an indie writer and review. Started reading Annette Drake's Stay at Celebration House.
  • Read other ROW80 writers: So far have read x6.
  • Finish organizing that marketing material/research into a REAL PLAN.
  • Declutter e-mail down to under 100. Actually now at zero!

I have reorganized my e-mail (consistently over 250). Taking advice from  Michelle Schaeffer on how to tame that inbox, I set up folders labelled ACTION, REPLY, READ, and REVIEW. The result so far (after sorting through everything), is that some tasks moved to that ACTION file, which were a higher priority, actually got done because they weren't invisible any more.

I'm still undecided about what to work on for my writing. Guess I'll decide tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, make it a good week. 

Check out what others are doing for A Round of Words in 80 Days either HERE or on Facebook.