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.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

ROW80 Sunday Check-in: Hail? Gotta love spring.

Just sitting down to my computer this lazy Mother's Day Sunday to check-in for Row80 with a nice cup of peppermint tea. Outside, a green, but cloudy spring day. And then those clouds opened up. and a steady stream of ice chunks hit the ground.

What happened last week? Well, a little extra babysitting of the grands as their Mommy was away at a conference all week, and a doctor visit, so a few distractions. But some work got done!

--Added 2,200 words to that novella in progress. Took working synopsis to writers' group and so appreciated their feedback on character arcs and conflict.
--Wrote a blog post on my writing blog with a little more about the novella.
--Finished that beta read and sent comments.
--Read only 2 other blogs. Sigh. Big improvement needed here.
--Swam 1x and walked 4x.
--Didn't work on marketing much. No reading and no organizing. 
--Did work on the newsletter and MailChimp. Still don't quite know how to attach a PDF to a newsletter through MailChimp. 
--Did play around with a marketing meme, using PowerPoint. What do you think? Not sure green works. Anything missing? Too many font changes? I'll add the link to Amazon once the book is available online later this summer.

What's on for next week? Maybe a little more progress next week as the calendar looks pretty clear. 

--Another 1,000 words on the novella?
--Send newsletter by May 20.
--Read a book by an indie writer and review.
--Read other ROW80 writers x6.
--Finish organizing that marketing material/research into a REAL PLAN.

I'm having fun working through Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake for the novella. I'm at the writing-character-sketches stage now (Step 5), and little bits of dialogue are coming through. For example, Dylan will say somewhere: “Ah, Moira, my heart. If you had only told me, I would have taken you with me.”

Novella's working title: "The Island Wife." What do you think? If most of the action takes place in Inverness and Edinburgh, how could I call it "The Island Wife"?

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

Four-and-a-half years old!
The two-year-old!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

ROW80 Catchup and a Freebie!

Today's the day that Annette Drake's cozy mystery BUILDING CELEBRATION HOUSE is up for free on Amazon. 

Why not hop on over and grab your copy? This well-written book plumbs a rare topic -- the relationship between two stubborn sisters. And that's against the backdrop of an antebellum Southern mansion and a few ghosts.

Now on to reporting for ROW80. Well, this week has been one of accomplishment! Only some writing, but I finished a queen-sized quilt (will post pic later . . . as this one is a surprise). 

I did make really good progress on mastering MailChimp's newsletter templates, and my novella is about 1,000 words richer. With the hero from Ireland, I have an excuse to do a little research.

A few tweets later, and I met online two writers who write historical fiction. Both look fascinating. Margaret Pinard and Elizabeth Bell. Current reading? Sara Donati, Into the Wilderness, and a chapter from Jared Diamond's The World Until Yesterday.

Perseverance furthers. That and a good cup of coffee have seen me through a hectic week.

What is ROW80? A Round of Words in 80 Days wherein participating writers check in twice a week (most times) to let others know our goals, progress, and to share what's going on. Go HERE to read what others are doing or HERE on FaceBook.

I'll conclude by saying I'm very grateful for all the comforts we take for granted today, compared to the average person in the 19th Century. May you cherish your warm bed, fresh food from the refrigerator, and antibiotics (when needed)!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

ROW80: How about a rant?

It's time for the Sunday check-in for ROW80. We're supposed to report how we've done on our goals for the week and celebrate those little victories that make all else possible.

Except I just want to rant about what I don't know and need to know and haven't figured out yet. It's the end of the month with new deadlines and goals . . . and I'm so not done with April.

To the good: Got a major start on the current quilt (I balance writing with quilting so I don't sit down too long). Cleared out all those e-mails from 300 to under 100. Still too much I want to read. Wrote the article on podcasting for Spokane Authors. 

Really exciting? I finished a prequel to Standing Stones (short, just 8 pages) to use as a giveaway for people who sign up for my newsletter. This gives me more breathing room to work on the novella (sequel).

What's driving me bonkers? I can't figure out how to design a form on MailChimp that looks better than a big blue box for people to use when they signup for my newsletter. And I can't figure out how to automate the sending of that new Prequel PDF. 

Any other progress? Slower than I want to be on reading those marketing books. A writer sent me 68 pages for a beta review. Did read ROW80 posts by others x6 this week. And I'm making slow progress on my marketing/launch timeline/plan. 

Did add 1,800 words this week to that sequel, tentatively named The Island Wife. Fun to discover that in Standing Stones, Dylan went off to Inverness and then Edinburgh. Here I am, gnashing my teeth, for I wanted him to be closer to Inverness. Then I discovered the railway where he got hired as a 'navvy' (short for navigator) ran from Glasgow to Edinburgh. Hah! Still looking for research that talks more in depth about working conditions (not good) on those Scottish railroads in the 1840s, if you happen to know a title.

What's not done: Would love to have a concise and clear set of objectives for May. Maybe that's my goal for this coming Wednesday's check-in!

Do you want to sign up for my newsletter and let me know what you think of the thank you prequel? I'm taking it to writer's group on Weds and would love to have your feedback.

Meanwhile, spring has finally sprouted here in the Inland Northwest. Cherry blossoms, tulips, and beautifully green willow trees. 

Source: Bustle

May your writing -- and all else -- go well in the coming week. Check out what ROW80 writers are doing HERE and on FaceBook HERE . Why not join in?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

ROW80 Weds check-in: Spring showers but no tears.

My readers have been asking: "What happened to Moira and Dylan after Standing Stones ended?" So most of my writing work so far this week has been diving into that story. The goal? A novella that tells the rest of their story and that can serve as a giveaway. 

Usually my stories run away and wind up being three-year projects, with tons of research. And while I am looking into the fates of railroad workers in the 1840s on the Edinburgh/Glasgow line, my first step was to reread those parts in Standing Stones and start building character sketches, summaries, conflicts, and, yes, I'm using Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake method. Maybe I can just tell a little story this time. Not ready to count words, but I've got a running start on plotting.

Round 2, Week 3: Updates on this week’s goals:

--WRITING: Setting aside Rivers of Stone for next two weeks (taking a break while beta readers work). 

--BLOGGING: Writing blog 1x/week, ROW80 2x/week. On schedule.

--MARKETING: No tangible progress, but I am reading and planning. Read another chapter in Bell's book, Marketing for Writers Who Hate Marketing. Very impressed by Jen Blood's setup to entice readers to sign up for her newsletter. She embedded her freebie 'magnet' right in the opening of her Kindle book. So I'm also reading her gritty dog story, The Darkest Thread. Use the 'look inside' feature to check out her beautiful images. Her book is still listed as free as of this morning.

--ONLINE COMMUNITIES: Read ROW80/IWSG: minimum of 6x/week. So far, only read 2x.

--DECLUTTER/OTHER: Get E-mail under 200. Ouch. Right now those unreads are 285. Maybe by Sunday. 

HELP WANTED: Does anyone know about Kickstarter and how it might help an author? This is for a writer I respect. Any suggestions at all will be helpful.

And that's it for a late check-in. Finished a comfort quilt last night instead, a lovely blending of simple purple blocks with a nice flannel backing to keep legs warm. 

Quilting is kind of like writing, you know. Start with a block or two, persevere, and you have something to give away! 

Check out what other ROW80 writers are doing HERE or on our Facebook page. Why not join in?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday ROW80: Poised to leap!

Sunday morning. First cherry blossom on just one branch outside my window. Buds beginning to unfold into leaves. I feel as if I'm poised to leap -- into something entirely different, my own season of change.

Maybe my reaction is inspired by this morning's e-mail from one of my beta readers that challenges me to rethink the opening chapter, and I'm a little afraid to dive in too soon. Poised to leap . . . and yet, not ready. But I can make a list of goals for the coming week.

Round 2, Week 3: This week’s goals:

--WRITING: Work on revisions from betas for Rivers of Stone -- after taking this week off. Draft supplemental materials (map, afterword, review list of characters, bibliography). Draft ideas for prequel, sequel (giveaway for newsletter subscribers). Plan newsletter schedule and contents.

--BLOGGING: Writing blog 1x/week, ROW80 2x/week. 

--MARKETING:  1) Map out events for June launch (party, promotions, readings, book clubs). 2) Request early reviews. 3) Review ACX resources on how to market audio books. 4) Amazon: Set up pre-order? 5) Continue to experiment and evaluate different ways to market my books.

--READING: 3 more chapters in James Scott Bell, Marketing for People Who Hate Marketing. Write 1 review/month of indie author.

ONLINE COMMUNITIES: Read ROW80/IWSG: minimum of 6x/week. Discussion of Chapter by Chapter begins May 17 on GoodReads. Rethink how I participate in GoodReads and Twitter.

DECLUTTER/OTHER: Get E-mail under 200. Write narrator for audio book, Years of Stone. Send Mike Faricy thank you note because he modeled how to interact with readers. Quilt. 

What about last week? Lots of last week's goals turned to blue -- Done! Including that big one of sending out Rivers of Stone to those beta readers. So I'm trying to look forward, analyze, prepare, and map out what's next. Those goals highlighted in bold above will be my priority in the coming week. I hope.

Resource for blogging? John Fox at BookFox wrote "50 Good Questions to Ask an Author" -- on the premise that many questions are used over and over. I'm not quite ready to think about author interviews, but his first question prompted a post on my own Writing Blog: John asked, "What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?" I want to say -- so many!

Check out what other ROW80 writers are doing HERE or on Facebook HERE. And have a great week!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

ROW80 Weds Check-in: Celebrate Spring!

The yellow-headed blackbirds have arrived. We had our first sighting today as we walked by the wetlands near our apartment. Lovely. Now we can watch as the yellow-heads fight with the red-winged blackbirds over who controls the pond. Ah, control issues in nature?

This week has been fairly intense so far, with two marketing promotions I was (note was) quite excited about. One through Amazon for Sponsored Product (4,300 impressions, 3 clicks, cost $0.42), and the other through Google Express ads (42,000 impressions, 25 clicks, cost after 5 days, $7.20). No Kindle or paperback sales for either promotion. 

So, my question remains: How do I increase visibility without sounding like a door-to-door sales person? So much advice. So many choices. That's why I'm reading James Scott Bell this week and next.

My writing buddy, Annette Drake, published a lovely cozy story about a woman who decides to refurbish an antebellum mansion in Missouri (my grandfather grew up there and always called Missouri, miz-rey before he ran away to Wyoming to become a cowboy). 

Building Celebration House features a few ghosts and is informed with neat details drawn from nursing, Civil War buffs, and an insider's view of how to run an event center. But, her book is invisible. For certain readers who love cozy stories about strong women, this book shouldn't be invisible. 

So we're going to continue to scrutinize various marketing ploys to see what works (and I'll share info here). By the way, kudos to Annette, as BookBub just approved her promotion for May 7.

Now, here's the progress for Week 2 through Weds:

RED = top priorityGreen = in progress, and Blue = Done, Done, Done!

Wish I had better news to report, but there's still the rest of the week to go. My favorite quote this week (so far): "Writer's block is an indication of a larger plot or story structure issue -- step back and reevaluate." Brian Mercer

Check out what other ROW80 writers are doing HERE or on Facebook HERE. And have a great week!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

ROW80: Sunday check-in Celebration

That new cover came in for Rivers of Stone. early this Friday morning. You know I was excited and happy. It took courage to say, "Yes, I will finish the book, so it's time to order the cover." And Angie has changed her process a bit, so I had to select the cover image. 

The new cover matches the overall design of Books 1 and 2 in my series (scroll down to see covers on the right side of this page to see if you agree). 

I love the way the wilderness of the 1840s is reflected in this pic of the Athabasca River in the Canadian Rockies. Angie Zambrano of has done a wonderful job on all three of my covers.

That new cover was just the inspiration I needed to send out my first author newsletter in two years. Have you signed up for my newsletter? I can promise it will not be sent out very often! Click HERE if you'd like to receive that very occasional alert about new releases, giveaways, etc.

Any challenges? I still have maybe another week of revising to do before Rivers of Stone is ready for my beta readers. Goal? To send final copy to beta readers no later than May 1.

RED = top priority, Green = in progress, and Blue = Done, Done, Done!

Other challenges? If I'm to keep to schedule and launch by late June (for summer reading marathons), I've got a lot of wrap-around work to do as an indie writer (publishing, marketing plan and media kit, schedule, and launch party). 

My F2F writing group (thank you, Annette, Sandy, and Sue), has been wonderful with critical feedback that keeps me focused through these final edits -- at least until beta comments come back.

Is the rest of my life in balance? Well, that dratted cold is finally gone. I'm resuming exercise (swimming 3x/week), and still quilting. Daily walks bring the smells of spring close. Today we saw hyacinths and tulips and early azaleas.

Looks like ROW80 on Facebook will take off with a few more activities. Check out what we're up on Facebook or on ROW80's website and consider joining in -- if you haven't already. 

Make it a good week, one day at a time. Oh, yes, and take time to smell those spring flowers.

May is the time of Lilacs (Manito Park 2016)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

ROW80: Wednesday Already?

Time to check in already? This will definitely be short and sweet. Got a few things done, but that darn list is getting longer. I'm  hoping to see better progress by Sunday. 

Monday's surprise was a five-minute flurry of snow. In April?? Here's today's update:

  • I feel like I'm holding my breath, waiting for the new cover to come in. Due date: this Friday.  
  • The Amazon Sponsored Ad (ends tomorrow) was an interesting experiment. Over 4,000 impressions (where my little ad appeared), but only 2 clicks through for a total cost of .25c. No actual sales, though the final data will come in about 3 days after the ad ends. I did like the reporting system.
  • Two ideas found online on ways to reach readers: Post random chapters from your books right on your blog.Offer a novella or short story when readers sign up for your newsletter. That's a good idea, though I don't have a novella exactly right now. Maybe that's what I can work on while waiting for those beta comments.
Have a great week! Check out what other ROW80 writers are doing this week HERE or on FaceBook HERE

And here's a meme for writers from Sandy Brown Jensen, posted on Flickr back in 2014:

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Row80: Sunday, Sunny Sunday

Good morning, ROW80. Since revamping how I track weekly goals last Weds to show priority and status by color, checking in for  ROW80's 2x weekly posts is much, much easier. 

My schedule-at-a-glance: 

Now, right under this weekly schedule, I add weekly goals (RED = high priority/not done yet, GREEN = in progress, and BLUE = Done). Each day, I also add a summary of what's going on (notes, questions, etc.). Here is this week's progress: 
This week, I'm most excited that all 4 beta readers (writers I know and trust) have responded with a "Yes!" Somehow, keeping those weekly goals right in front of me enabled me to work on those marketing action steps that tend to fall to the bottom of the list.

About the new cover. I'd like to have a face on the cover since the characters move the story -- but, covers that feature people in varying states of dress or missing body parts (you know, the body of a woman in a revealing gown with her head cut off), lean to romantic historical fiction. 

Covers for fiction by writers like Rutherfurd and Follett tend to show historical scenes on their covers, rather than people.  

So I've asked for a cover that will fit in with Books 1-2 (see right sidebar). But just maybe, by the end of the year, I'm thinking new covers for a boxed set that will feature the main characters for all three books.  

What do you think of this strategy?

And that's the news this Sunday. A new week beckons with potential, deadlines, goals, and writing. Mike Faricy continues to inspire me to rethink that newsletter and how to reach out to readers. Expect more progress this week on that newsletter!  OK, have YOU signed up for my newsletter?

May you have a good week.

Heartfelt thanks to Eden and Shan Jeniah for all the work they do behind the scenes to make ROW80 happen. Join in (if you haven't yet), and check out what other ROW80 writers are doing this week HERE or on FaceBook HERE.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

ROW80: Wedsnesday maybe?

I always feel a bit rushed by reporting in to ROW80 on Wednesdays, but maybe I just need a slightly different system. 
So, here goes. 

I keep a Daily Work Log to track writing progress, etc. Now, I'm adding a Weekly goals list. Here's this week's schedule and weekly goals list. I post a daily journal entry underneath.
Here, red means I really want to complete this action step.

Meanwhile, I'm still celebrating being ready to send off Rivers of Stone to beta readers and starting on the copyediting (book blurb, cover, ad copy). Wrote about this for IWSG's monthly post on my writing blog HERE.

The other exciting step I'm taking this week (and the rest of this month) is experimenting with online ads. A writing friend will post her FaceBook ad this month and will report her results. I'm running a ten-day 'Key Word Sponsored' ad through Amazon. Stats lag by three days, so we'll see how the overall promotion goes. But as I did research, I discovered Google Express Ads and learned I can target by location -- anywhere in the world! That opens a new promotion for Years of Stone set in Australia, but I want to run only ONE promo at a time so I can see what works.  

My F2F writing group only meets 2x this month instead of weekly. I learn from their wip as well as their comments and the simple process of reading aloud. I'll take the last chapter of ROS next time we meet.

For inspiration? My dear hubby showed me the opening lines of the book he's currently reading. Michael Chabon's Moonglow. He does that when he's truly hooked. Now, so am I, though I'm more likely to read Patricia Cornwell's Blow Fly (on my towering TBR pile).

Another bit of inspiration came this week from Mike Faricy, author of the very gritty Bobby Custer (amoral attorney at large), novels. I wrote him about the books and received a very nice personal e-mail back. So I joined his newsletter. Wow! That first newsletter was so personal and fun that it made me rethink what I write about on my blog AND in my own newsletters. So, inspiration can arrive when least expected.

And that's the news this Weds from the wilds of Spokane. May you have a good week. Check out what other ROW80 writers are doing this week HERE or on FaceBook HERE