Friday, December 27, 2013

ROW80: Endings and Beginnings . . .

Here's to the end of Round 4 -- and a little over a week to celebrate and reflect on new goals for 2014.

WRITING. I'm knee-deep in technical talk, converting my Word files to CreateSpace for the paperback version of Standing Stones. So far, so good, though at times sliding my story into CreateSpace feels like trying to wear a girdle designed for a someone just a little smaller than me. Final review begins this week, with online launch in early January. That's pretty exciting. The face-to-face launch will have to be 4-6 weeks later to allow time for physical books to arrive.

I worked hard on my cover, put it through a few reader groups, and came up with a great cover, thanks to all that input, including comments from graphic design folks. But uploading "my cover" to CreateSpace (CS) proved to be a little past my skills. Since CS has rather strict layout formats (i.e., you can't move any of the text boxes and have limited selection of fonts), I am trying an online graphics design person for the first time through the highly recommended  I'll report back on this one.

BLOGGING/COMMUNITY. Mea culpa! Mea culpa! My ambition outstretches what I can actually achieve. But when I look at blog posts for the year, I'm ahead of last year in number of posts, though I still fall short of once a week on each blog. Ah, next year beckons. I appreciate so much the community of writers I've met on ROW80, Facebook writing groups, and Linked-In. And so 2014 looks like I'll be continuing to work on this category.

MARKETING. So much information, so many suggestions! But my Marketing Plan is finally taking shape, and I will continue to write about what I learn here.The latest challenge? To make a book trailer, design and order bookmarks, and request testimonials. Of these three, I hate asking people for favors. How about asking famous people for favors! Aargh!

More than all else, for ROW80, my goals for the first round of 2014 will be to keep all goals pared down to what I can actually achieve -- and work to balance writing with 'real' life. If I'm feeling really obsessive, there's always quilting to fall back on.

May 2014 be an especially good year for you. ROW80 writers, write on!

Beth's Sashiko Block (2013)

To see other ROW80 end-of-year posts, click here!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

ROW80: On to the end . . .

Just a week and a half left in Round 4, and it's a Sunday morning roll out for this last bit of goal setting and accountability.

What was most challenging this week, other than real life? 

Writing a death scene. At least it was for an unlikable character. I didn't want him to die violently for that would smack of artificiality. This man wreaked violence from behind a desk. He never realized his self-interest hurt others, not even in his last moments.

Now the writing gurus suggest one more read through and not to rush to publish. I'm remembering my master's dissertation. I was so sick of rereading and editing that document, that I let the final proofreading go. Realistically, will one more read through strengthen Standing Stones? This time, I've crafted, beta-tested, revised, edited, and revised again, this whole process taking some 4 years. To me, the story sings complete, and Books 2 and 3 are ready for the coming year of writing. For the writing is what I love, bringing the story whole and complete.

2013 Goals for ROW80's last week and a half: 

WRITING: Let this final draft of Standing Stones rest for one week while I work on marketing/pre-launch activities. Then do a 1-2 day read through. Write that short story about Ruthie's quilt for some writing. Write the afterword, draw maps, begin conversion to Kindle and CreateSpace formats.Draft newsletter announcement.

MARKETING. Finalize the timeline and set date for launch.Update MailChimp.

COMMUNITY: Continue reading 10x ROW80 each week. Post in travel blog and writing blog.

OTHER: Read, exercise, cook, and sew. What else? Reduce clutter and cherish family and friends every day.

The above stairs led to our fourth-floor walk-up apartment on Blair Street in Edinburgh during our month-long stay there to research Standing Stones. You should have seen the postman race up these stairs to hand-deliver any mail. I'm thinking of Edinburgh because that's where the death scene took place, but in a rowed mansion in Edinburgh's New Town (still called that today), just off Charlotte Square, where once only the wealthy could enter.

May this last round of writing go well for you. 

Now I'm longing for a Scottish breakfast -- I nearly forgot how delicious they were, these substantial breakfasts with eggs, sausage, ham, fresh tomato, a sampling of hot-from-the-oven breads, and tea, plain or with milk. Can you tell I've checked in BEFORE breakfast? 

To read what other ROW80 writers have written, click HERE.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Just one thing . . .

Sometimes the holidays can get a little frenetic. So Rick Hanson's newsletter essay on imperfection lightened this week for me and lessened my guilty-face about not quite reaching this week's goals.

Rick talks about the anxiety we generate when we worry about our work/actions not being perfect and how to "let the broken cup be a broken cup." He doesn't tell us not to strive for professional standards, but he does encourage us to think more expansively, with less self-absorption, with less negativity.

And so I do what I can for those I love and will sweep aside the 'should'.

My Wednesday check-in for ROW80 is very simple. Yes, I have made some progress with writing and reading and preparing to publish, but my heart sings because my daughter came home from the hospital today in some pain but healing and really OK, my husband brought me coffee at 8 am (a true gift since it involved a drive and not a few steps to the kitchen), and my African violets continue to blossom -- despite cold, cold weather outside. Time now to draw. Tomorrow I'll write.

May your week be a good one.

Read Rick Hanson's essay:  "Just One Thing: Is Everything Perfect?"

76 China Screen 17thC
Chinese Screen, 17th Century (Camp 2004)
Prince Albert's Museum, London

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunday morning check-in

Outside we have our first real dusting of snow with temperatures in the low teens (and below). What does it mean when my goals remain the same and progress is slow? That I missed the Weds check-in? That my very bones are cold? That our heating bill went up and I don't care anymore?

In working through revisions for Standing Stones (my top priority for December), beta reader and master of understatement Ruth Nestvold (blessings upon her head and pen) pointed out that my fight scenes might need a little something. As a white collar worker extraordinaire, my exposure to fighting tends to be a bit on the snarky side. So if you want to see what I learned (and the 'before' and 'after'), jump over to my writing blog. Still working on the 'after' but will post next week.

Easily distracted this week. Perhaps I'm still recovering from NaNoWriMo, but here's my update with goals unchanged for the coming week.

WRITING: Complete Standing Stones for publication by end of ROW80 December 26. This week: complete edits and fill last plot holes. Steady progress on editing (40% complete). Now working on fight scenes. Need to make sure sequence of major subcharacter's comings and goings is accurate. This one will take a few days (revise, let scene sit, revise again).

BLOGGING: Post 4 out of 7 days on writing, travel, and ROW80 blog. Include Weds WIPpet. Posted twice. No WIPpet, but did post scene on writing blog. GOAL for coming week: 3 posts.

COMMUNITY: Read 20x in ROW80, FB poetry group, WEDS WIPpet. Only read 8x, but dipped in ROW80 and poetry group. Skipped WIPpet entirely. Found truly wonderful writerly memes on Pinterest.

MARKETING: Identify 10 crucial steps for Standing Stones launch and implement 2-3.Got a nice running start to identify 6 pre-launch step and now have a list of 6 blogs that review historical fiction.

OTHER: Exercise 3x week. Quilt whenever possible. Be inspired by Sandy Brown Jensen and CREATE SOMETHING DAILY. Finish all projects to wind down volunteer job of public relations by Weds Dec 4. Celebrate my birthday (it's a decade-turning big one). Track all my reading (even Kindle). Reduce clutter around the house and online. Cherish each day! Exercise 3x! Got some quilting done. Carted 5 boxes off to the new president at our board meeting to give to the new public relations person. Her response, "Do I have to keep all this?" Committed to preparing for 2014 as much as I can by December 31, but it's a little tough when people don't respond to my e-mails. Need to switch to phone calls for the coming week. Can't say I'm being particularly creative, BUT I am writing again.

Draft quilt block (Camp 2013)
Tracking my reading is kind of fun. If I write what I like to read, oh, am I in trouble, for I balance serious reading and research with the most brainless stuff -- skip those x-rated pages, but still mindless froth, romantic escapism.  This coming week, two books are due by Weds. Nancy Marguerite Anderson's The Pathfinder (research) and Michener's Tales of the South Pacific (a faster, classic read). And the froth: Elise Sax, An Affair To Dismember. I must confess to laughing out loud -- twice.

The week ahead looks snowy and cold. That means more time for writing . . . research . . . and reading!  Maybe this coming week, we'll work on art journals and Pinterest? See Christy Houser's Art Journal  I have none to share. Yet.

May your own week go well.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday check-in ROW80: Turning a round

Sunday morning. Gray. Rain. Lots of rain. And finally, an end to NaNoWriMo.

I'm pleased to meet my rebel NaNo goal of 500 words a day on Rivers of Stone. Yahoo! 15,001 words added to this rough draft, bringing my total words for ROS up to 35,500. That does include plot holes.

But now it's the morning after, and I'm recognizing, truly, what I gave up to make progress on this rough, rough draft. Standing Stones will not be launched by my birthday (December 6).

As we enter the last round of the year for ROW80 and the last month, I'm refining my goals once again.

Here are my ROW80 goals for the coming week:

WRITING: Complete Standing Stones for publication by end of ROW80 December 26. This week: complete edits and fill last plot holes. Ongoing: Work on research and writing for Rivers of Stone. Begin read-through of Years of Stone for launch late January or early February.

BLOGGING: Post 4 out of 7 days on writing, travel, and ROW80 blog. Include Weds WIPpet.

COMMUNITY: Read 20x in ROW80, FB poetry group, WEDS WIPpet.

MARKETING: Identify 10 crucial steps for Standing Stones launch and implement 2-3.

OTHER: Exercise 3x week. Quilt whenever possible. Be inspired by Sandy Brown Jensen and CREATE SOMETHING DAILY. Finish all projects to wind down volunteer job of public relations by Weds Dec 4. Celebrate my birthday (it's a decade-turning big one). Track all my reading (even Kindle). Reduce clutter around the house and online. Cherish each day!

My writing inspiration for the week!


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

ROW80: Wednesday, Wednesday . . .

This week's lesson from NaNoWriMo: Write where the story takes you!

WEDS WIPpet. Since we're near the end of November, this snippet from Rivers of Stone comes from near the end of the story. Catriona (Cat), disguised as a boy, has finally made it to Fort Vancouver and has found Dougal, but to her surprise and dismay, he is married. The scene:

"My wife's family lives here along the Cowlitz River. Yes, I will stay here." Dougal reached out to her. "I'm sorry, Cat. If I can be of any help, you have only to ask."
"No need to worry." Catriona pasted a smile on her face. "As you see, I am fine. I will make my own way."
She turned away.
Dougal pulled on her arm. "Wait, Cat."
She broke free. For this she had traveled so far? She walked fast out of the crowded store, not watching where she was going, afraid she would start crying if she stopped. 
"Watch where you're goin', ye pissant."
Someone backhanded Cat, and she hit the floor. She licked her lips and tasted blood. She slowly got up to stare down a river man, Metis from the looks of him, black hair, scarred face, burly, big, and advancing toward her.
"Sorry. Wasn't lookin'," said Cat.
"Well, you should a been. Nobody pushes me around, specially not someone as runty as you."
"Looks like he did, anyhow,  Flint," said the man next to Flint. Both looked as if they had been drinking the night before or had been on the road a long time. Like me, thought Cat. Too long.
"Sorry. Won't happen again." Cat pulled herself up, hoping that Dougal hadn't seen. How was she going to get past these two?
"You bet it won't. I'm tired of being pushed around."
"Ah, don't pick on the runt. He might have friends."
"I got an answer for that," said Flint. He pulled out a whip and stroked the long cured rawhide strands. "Teach you a lesson now."
"Fight," someone called. "We gotta fight."
A tall Hawaiian unpeeled himself from the porch. He stood in front of Cat. "Wouldn't do that. This one may have more friends than you."
Dougal squeezed through the crowd and stood beside the Hawaiian. "I can attest to that, Flint. Now's not a good time."
Flint sneered at Cat. "You better not let me catch you off by yourself. Without your friends." He pushed past the Hawaiian and Dougal into the store.
Slowly, the crowd dispersed. Dougal stepped close to Cat. "Maybe you best come with me. My wife, she'll see to you."
Cat shook her head. "I'm not going with you. Not now. Not ever." 

Read what other WIPpet Weds folks are writing HERE.

With special thanks to K. L. Schwengel for organizing and inspiring WIPpet.

ROW80 check-in and Goals for the coming week:
1. Write those 500 words a day on Rivers of Stone.Yes. Steadily. Maybe late today, but I will make this goal.
2. Work on book reviews x 2 for the coming week.
3. Keep working the final edits for Standing Stones. This was the hardest goal to realize that I would not finish this goal by the end of November, but I will keep working on this goal (and pre-launch) before the end of Round 3.
4. Participate in ROW80 x10 for the week. Read only 5 for this week, but next week . . .
5. Follow blog schedule by posting 5x out of 7 days. Done. Having somewhat of a schedule seems to help me stay on track. Discovered how to draft in blogger, so actually have half-a-post started.
6. Declutter, quilt, cook good meals, exercise 3x, and cherish each day. Doing pretty good here. Actually got some quilting done this week. Exercised only once. Hanging in there. This week's book is Orphan Train. Haven't gotten far enough in to fall into the story, though an interesting double plot contrasts the 1920s (the orphan) with the present (a Goth girl). Movie day is Tuesday and saw the very well done Dallas Buyers Club.
8. Don't listen to that nagging inner voice! Thanksgiving cooking calls, so I'll close by wishing EVERYONE a very happy respite from nightmares and a wish for a family meal that brings joy.

Rachel and me

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What if Thursday were Wednesday?

Hard week, steady progress. Just not in all categories.

Progress on ROW80 Goals for Weds update. 
1. Write those 500 words a day on Rivers of Stone.Oops. Nothing for 2 days.Maybe this morning.
2. Complete pending book reviews x 2. Two reviews done, one posted. Other one goes up later today.
3. Keep working the final edits for Standing Stones. Top priority but no progress since Sunday. Maybe draft pre-launch activities. Still would like to publish before my birthday -- and that's December 6th!
4. Participate in ROW80 x10 for the week. Checked in on 8 folks.
5. Follow blog schedule by posting 5x out of 7 days. Wrote a poem for the writing blog on Monday that still resonates, even if I did get brain coral wrong (now corrected). Thanks, Magrit.
6. Celebrate Egypt presentation behind me (due day Monday, Nov 18). Presentation complete!!!! Audience of about 20. Figure I invested maybe 15-20 hours, or nearly an hour a person. Still learned a little somethng along the way, including more grist for the travel blog.
7. Declutter, quilt, cook good meals, exercise 3x, and cherish each day. Doing pretty good here. Actually got some quilting done this week. Exercised only once. Hanging in there. Reading  Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones. She certainly likes her metaphors and dishes up some beautiful imagery. Still a tough read..
8. Don't listen to that nagging inner voice! As a goal, this didn't work at all. But the good thing about mornings is that fresh start. So I now have about 2 uncluttered hours for writing. OK down to one hour after making breakfast for the fam.

What inspires us every day?

Here is Sherry Pryor's "Not Your Grandmother's 9-patch". Just looking at this quilt makes me want to dive right in. My version would not have the embellishments, but the curves in tones of batik, appliqued leaves, a central moon. Beautiful.

"The purpose of art is to wash "the daily dust of life off our souls." --Pablo Picasso

Not Your Grandmother's Nine Patch

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday ROW80: NaNo, Conflict, and a snippet . . .

Lesson from NaNo this week:  Write even when I don't believe I can.

If I work at the micro-scene level, sinking down into the character and 'feeling' what his or her greatest concerns are, the scene develops. Understanding what my characters feel -- positive and negative -- help me tell their story.

External conflict remains my biggest challenge, but if I recognize that some people really are just jerks, my story can have one or two of these folks. But I see a difference between someone who is an insensitive bully, though, and someone who is intrinsically evil. It's that second category that I have trouble with.

For example, one of Yahoo's lead stories today is about the 10 top companies who, despite high profits, pay the lowest wages to their employees -- excluding management. The list includes WalMart, Sears, Kroger, somewhat expected, and then Starbucks, MacDonald's, and Macy's, unexpected.

Here is where I take a lesson for conflict. For what bothers me is that calculating decision that sets aside the human factor. Management defends itself by saying it's about the business of making money.

How this relates to my story can be seen in 'business' decisions that encouraged 19th Century voyageurs and fur traders to marry Native wives so that trade would function more smoothly. So I need to put this hat on when thinking of the Chief Factors at each post as well as remembering the very clear social class lines that affected everyone. For the children of those 'mixed marriages' were not promoted. Were they angry? Hah! More research needed.

BTW, my best research this week: Nancy Marguerite Anderson's neat site that chronicles journal highlights from fur traders. Her work is based on her study of her grandfather, the famous explorer of the Pacific Northwest, but takes in much more history, all of it fascinating to me. Most likely Alexander Caulfield Anderson was a Swede, most likely not related to my great-grandfather, a doctor in Chicago, also an Anderson. Can't wait to read her book, The Pathfinder.

Snippet from today's Nano 500 words for Rivers of Stone

Dougal found Colin sleeping by one of the canoes. He unpacked a blanket and rolled in it, but even as he slowly warmed up, he lay, looking at the star-filled sky and thinking of Cat. Someone took slow, careful steps toward the canoes. Dougal raised up. "Who's there?"

"Touchy bastard, ain't you. Thought I'd find you here. And no surprise, Colin as well." Louis squatted beside Dougal. "Yer in luck. We're short a few men. Colin's back in."

"Thanks, Louie."

"Don't worry. He'll carry his weight, or you'll make up the difference. Best get him up. We leave in a little bit."

Dougal rolled his blanket up and gathered his kit into a bundle. He nudged Colin. "Hist, are ye packed already? We're going out."

"Now?" asked Colin. "Don't worry. I got my stuff right here. I slept on it." He sat up suddenly. "Really? I'm really to go?"

"Aye," said Dougal. "Thank Louis when you have the chance."

Around them, the voyageurs made their way down to the canoes, surly from hangovers, some still drunk.

"You got any more of that rotgut?" called one of the men. "My head hurts something fierce."

Progress on ROW80 Goals this week. 
1. Write those 500 words a day on Rivers of Stone.Still writing over 500 a day! Whoopee, a miracle!
2. Complete pending book reviews x 2. Finished one review for Mike Young's Kirk's Landing; nearly done reading the second one.
3. Keep working the final edits for Standing Stones. Maybe draft pre-launch activities. Still would like to publish before my birthday -- and that's December 6th!  Two days of editing, then nada. Maybe next week.
4. Participate in ROW80 x10. Done!
5. Follow blog schedule by posting 5x out of 7 days. Surprised myself! 6 out of 7 days on three different blogs. :)
6. Celebrate Egypt presentation behind me (due day Monday, Nov 18). Almost. Hard at work on revisions.
7. Declutter, quilt, cook good meals, exercise 3x, and cherish each day. Doing pretty good here. No quilting, but I made a really good chicken/pasta/broccoli dish that will last 3 days. Exercised 2x. Hanging in there.
8. Don't listen to that nagging inner voice! Keep writing. I need this statement tattooed on the inside of my forehead!

Make it a good week! To read about those 10 Companies, click on Yahoo! And may your writing go well.

God's River
God's River (near Hayes River), Manitoba
Picture by Redpaddle on Flickr 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

ROW80 Check-in: Day late and day sorry

Does the morning after the night before count?

WEDS Check-in for ROW80: Still writing that 500 words a day for NaNo on the Rivers of Stone draft. Up to an unbelievable 8,289 as of yesterday. This will be successful for me IF I can do that 500 words a day. Still chipping away at final review of Standing Stones with three chapters left. Wrote a short flash called "The Bench" (don't know where that came from -- except a random writing prompt from Writer Wednesday Blog Hop).

Still to do: Write poem for Poets on the Page sometime later today. Still far too easily distracted by research. For example, did you know that the average winter temperature (that's between November and April is minus 7 F in and near York Factory in Upper Manitoba? No wonder the polar bears have double layers of fur.

Thank you to everyone who so generously gave me very helpful feedback on my draft cover for Standing Stones posted last Sunday. I've editing fonts, resized font sizes, made a commitment and may use the second-runner-up for the Smashwords version. Dunskey Castle was the favorite.

I'm babysitting this week until after 10 pm each night and feel I can't get everything done.Yesterday went for a walk with DH and he got very tired. Sometimes I deny what I see.

Goals to work on by next Wednesday:
1. Write those 500 words a day on Rivers of Stone.
2. Complete pending book reviews x 2.
3. Keep working the final edits for Standing Stones. Maybe draft pre-launch activities. Still would like to publish before my birthday -- and that's December 6th!
4. Participate in ROW80 x10.
5. Follow blog schedule by posting 5x out of 7 days.
6. Celebrate Egypt presentation behind me (due day Monday, Nov 18).
7. Declutter, quilt, cook good meals, exercise 3x, and cherish each day.
8. Don't listen to that nagging inner voice! Keep writing.

Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, Iceland, during a night with aurora borealis
seen from east beach by Moyen Brenn 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

ROW80 Sunday: NaNo and Polar Bears . . .

Week 2 of NaNoWriMo and I'm chunking right along -- at least until today.  My commitment is to write 500 words a day. Surprise! One day I topped 1,000, really amazing for me. Most days I doubled  my ordinary output of 250 words. For 6 days of NaNo this week, over 3,000 words (not counting today).

But yesterday we attended Disney on Ice, a three-hour flamboyant retelling of classic fairy tales with several thousand folks shepherding little girls in Ariel, Snow White, and Cinderella costumes. By the time we got home, we were exhausted. This morning, I was not able to write at all.

For NaNoWriMo, I'm working on a draft for Rivers of Stone. Book One is set in the 1840s at York Factory in Manitoba, Canada. In today's chapter, Catriona, our intrepid heroine in disguise as a young boy, goes snow goose hunting on James Bay and befriends two Cree brothers.

Somehow polar bears crept into the story. They are stealth hunters, I learned, along with several other fascinating facts. The polar bear is a ferocious hunter, preferring (thank goodness) seal to human. They are quite hungry in October when the ice first begins to form in Hudson's Bay and splay out on the ice, looking for the airholes of seals.

I found several several videos of polar bears playing with dogs and hunting. Looking at Youtube was a very helpful research tool because these videos give me a clear sense of SETTING, scale, colors, moods. Even discovering that Churchill -- and York Factory -- are both above the treeline is quite helpful, even if it's not quite what I imagined when I began this story. Forests will have to wait until Cat heads west. Can you tell that active procrastination has taken over? Here's one of the polar bear videos from youtube.

What I've learned from NaNo so far. 

  • Simply writing to a specific (and larger) word goal surprises me. Am I more accountable? 
  • The largest output on a single day was spent on plotting (something I did not do before NaNo), but I now have a clearer sense of the story, its main characters, and, most particularly, their relationships.
  • Not every day is easy.
  • The more I know about my characters, the more complicated their interactions are. And they surprise me! 
  • Dialogue and setting help me unbundle what my characters are like because I begin to understand what they face and how they react.
  • I hate conflict. But making my characters get angry was fun!

My other challenge this week: Trying to decide on a good cover. Final revisions are on schedule, and I've been working on covers for Standing Stones this week. Here are two more for a little feedback, if you are so inclined. I'd love to put something a little more dramatic on the cover, but so far my technical skills and budget have not led me to find that "knock-me-out" image.

Which of these two do you prefer? Why? Which one would you be most likely to pick up?

This draft cover features a picture I took of a fisherman's croft
in Kirbuster, the Orkneys, Scotland
so no worries about copyright.

This cover features a picture of Dunskey Castle,
Scotland from The Commons at WikiMedia,
again no worries about copyright.
ROW80 Goals for the coming week: Hope to keep this simple as my babysitting schedule is tight.

WRITING. 500 words a day x 7 days on Rivers of Stone. 4 Chapters a day on Standing Stones. I'm behind on beta reads x2 and hope to finish these by Thanksgiving. Make final preparations for presentation on Egypt, which includes at least 2 blog posts this week. I did, for the first time, sketch out a schedule for posting on my three blogs at least once each week.

RESEARCH. Only when I'm stuck with any writing goal. Reading 3 books just now.

COMMUNITY/OTHER. Read at least 15 posts for ROW80 and Poets on the Page. Attend one NaNoWriMo f2f this Monday night. Quilt on Thursday with my quilting group. For sanity's sake, clean up my office and get the laundry done.

May your week go well!

If you are a writer, why not jump in on ROW80, A Round of Words in 80 Days?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Little of NaNoWriMo . . . A Lot of Writing

Here's my Wednesday check-in to ROW80, A Round of Words in 80 days, that heady process of setting goals and then attempting to carry them out, despite the intrusions of real life!

Day 6 of NaNoWriMo. My personal goal is just 500 words a day, double my normal output.

So far, so good. On Monday, I cracked over 1,000 words on a daily write, and, for the first time, I have a real working outline for Rivers of Stone. But this morning, after about two hours of reorganizing, that nasty inner voice is saying I don't know enough about the research to really write the story. Not even 500 words would come along this morning. So far. But I am a stubborn writer. Sometimes we persevere through stubbornness. Sometimes we let the story percolate. So I'm sliding sideways first by checking in here at ROW80. Short and sweet.

WRITING. Rivers of Stone is bouncing right along at 3,337 words -- until this morning, for a total of 24,250 on the first draft. The final edit of Standing Stones is also on schedule as I'm editing a minimum of 4 chapters a day. Began blogging about Egypt on the travel blog. I actually miss writing that poem-a-day. I plan to start the creativity series on the writing blog. Busy, busy.

COMMUNITY. Reading other ROW80 writers continues to be useful. Met my commitment to read 10 others this week. Didn't go to the NaNoWriMo meet-up here because of snow, but maybe the next one.

MARKETING. I read in a recent writer's mag this incredible statement about the distinction between writing and publishing. This nameless writer actually said once your book is published, "you can plunge in and enjoy the social aspects of publishing, the fellowship of doing readings and interviews and talking with other nice, smart people about art." Sorry. He's NOT talking about the gritty world of an indie writer who self-publishes and who would like to build an audience larger than friends and family! That article almost made me swear off reading writing craft magazines.

Marketing seems such a daunting task that I was intrigued by an idea from this week's e-mail from that suggests we spend just 5 minutes a day marketing. Certainly that's more than I did all last week. So this week, I have updated my Amazon book description for Mermaids, and I continue to cast about for ideas on cover design for Standing Stones. At this point:

  1. Free sounds good, so it's do-it-yourself.
  2. Need high impact cover that attracts the reader AND communicates the theme.
  3. Standing Stones is historical fiction so photograph may not work (though I have a few).
  4. Best covers have PEOPLE on them or a compelling image. Not sure what the compelling image should be, but I will know it when I see it. Looking at LOTS of pictures of the Orkneys, standing stones, scattered stones, etc.
  5. Apparently a clever FONT is important -- as is some sort of TAG LINE on the cover.
By Sunday, I will put up another draft cover or two for Standing Stones.

READING. Still reading Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones daily. I'm about 150 pages into The Curiosity by Stephen P. Kiernan and not sure whether I'll continue because I don't quite care about the characters or the situation they find themselves in. Is this story a barely disguised essay on the ethics of raising someone from the dead? Each chapter tells the story from a different point of view, so I'm never quite attached to anyone (Some of the characters are not at all likable, so I'm plodding through those chapters). Maybe I want to find out what happens next, but so far the book reminds me why I'm happy to be retired (no office politics). Next up is Christina Baker Klines's Orphan Train.

OTHER PROJECTS. Steady progress in closing down books for my volunteer public relations job. Wrote an article this week (and got it accepted) on scrap quilting. All else is well. We had our first snow, ate Italian out (fabulous meatballs I will learn how to make some day), and dear daughter is now able to walk for about an hour without icing her ankle. I think my African violets are suffering a bit from the cold.

So I'm curious to know: How are you doing now that the snows of November have begun? Does your writing productivity change with the weather?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

ROW80 Sunday afternoon, NaNo and Covers!

NaNoWriMo has started! I'm not sure how many other ROW80 folks have jumped in as NaNo rebels, but I have -- and at the last minute.

Normally I write somewhere between 250-300 words a day and move on to other projects. For this NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I'm committing to write 500 words a day, a real stretch for me (so far, doing great!). Participating in NaNo is how my rough drafts have begun for my previous books, so I'm eager to jump in, even though I'm going right ahead with plans to publish Standing Stones before my birthday on December 6.

Already my ROW80 Goals for Round 4 have started to drift, but for the coming week, writing is the top priority: 

WRITING. Write 3,500 words this week (500 words a day x 7 days) for Rivers of Stone (ROS) draft. Attend local meet-up for NaNoWriMo right here in Spokane.  Research x 2 articles for ROS. Blog 4x on travel blog re Egypt and 3x on writing blog re Nano. I'm wondering if short daily updates on NaNo on the writing blog are too much. Complete the final edits for Standing Stones (that's 4 chapters a day or 28 chapters by the end of this week). Haven't begun to input any pages for Reaching.

COMMUNITY. Participate in ROW80 with twice weekly updates and reading 2-3 others each day. Continue active participation in Book Review Depot, GoodReads, Facebook, and Twitter.

CRAFT. Read Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones daily. Read 2 writing craft magazines.

MARKETING. Follow suggestions from DuoLit's Weekend Marketing Makeover and Eric Michael's Pimp My Kindle Book.  Write reviews for each and report on my own marketing progress. What am I learning and what I am doing.

PERSONAL. Cherish each day with family and friends. Quilt. Exercise 3 times this week. Work on Egypt for November 18. Catch up on filing and revise timeline for public relations for WSQ this week.

A question for writers/editors who might stop by. A colleague has released a Kindle e-book. The preview reveals many, many grammatical errors and a few missing transitions. Do I simply lurk and say nothing? Do I jump in with a private note? Perhaps the wrong version was uploaded? What is a writing buddy supposed to do?

About covers. Earlier in the week, I posted a possible cover for Standing Stones. The result (illuminating for me) was that readers thought the cover was a little bland.

I did review the top historical fiction covers on Amazon and fell in love with Edward Ruthurfurd's nostalgic covers, BUT he is an established name. So, as a novice, I need to 'grab the attention' of readers, and I'm not sure how to go about this.

Here are two potential covers for Mothers Don't Die, definitely not historical fiction, but still slated for release in 2014.

Which do you like and maybe why?

For those of you who've accepted the NaNoWriMo challenge, how are you doing?

For ROW80 folks, may the week go well.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Weds check-in: On a roll . . .

I'll be inspired by what others have done and post a brief update following each goal for this week.

Updated goals for this week or what's happened since Sunday:

* Work on final read/edit of Standing Stones. Hitting four chapters a day. So far, so good. Helpful feedback from beta readers.

* Wind up October with daily poems for OctPoWriMo and read what others have written. Haven't missed a day . . . yet! One more poem to go and I'm enjoying what others have written.

* Post at least once on my travel blog. Not yet. Maybe tonight?

* Plan November entries for my writing blog (guest blog Sandy Brown Jensen and series on creativity). No progress here.

* Continue participating in ROW80 through Round 4. OK so far. Reading 5 tonight.

* Write two crits for NOVELS-L (the Internet Writing Workshop) and 1 more book review for Book Review Club. After being active in this group since 2011, I've withdrawn. My work-in-progress isn't really ready for subbing, and I'm always rushing to read and critique what others have written. The IWW, and specifically the NOVELS-L group has been a sustaining source of helpful feedback -- when I've subbed, and I've met some truly wonderful writers. But . . . I'm feeling drawn to other writing challenges. Marketing, for one and that final level of editing that depends on my own critical eye. Need one more book review for that Book Review Club. Still feels a bit of the numbers game here, but reviewing others' indie-published books in my genre (historical fiction) has been illuminating and fun.

* Read craft (Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones and 2 magazines). Luckily Goldberg's chapters are short. So far, I'm reading her every day. Two magazines? Not yet.

* Work on winding up volunteer work, play with quilting, and cherish each day with family and friends! Steady progress here. I'm working on files and the job description binder, have quilted 2 out of 3 days (show and tell next time), and had a lovely walk with DH today, alongside a small pool with mallards and scattered pine needles along the path. It was just cold enough to appreciate our warm apartment when we came back home.

For fun, I've started playing around with a cover for Standing Stones. Here's today's effort (left side for blurbs; right side for cover).

What do you think?

I hope your week is going well. Or as they say, "Whassup?"

Visit A Round of Words in 80 Days for more information or check out these ROW80 participants:

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Check-in: Diving into the Wreck

You may have noticed I did not report in on Wednesday.

No writing at all this week -- except for that daily poem for Octpowrimo. Part of this lapse is because of the quilt show (hours and hours of work), and part because I'm at a curious place, caught between three works-in-progress.

Guilie Castillo-Oriard recommended an article on IWW by Brian Klem, "How to Write the Last 10% of Your Novel," just right for reading now.

While people have responded favorably to my first book, Standing Stones, my efforts to find agents/publishers have not worked. And I will self-publish in December to celebrate my birthday. So as November begins, I'd like to finish finally the edits for Standing Stones and get it out there. Klem's article talks about 8 key ideas (which I'll put here) to think about, beginning today.

  1. Is each scene anchored in my character's needs AND the overall story problem?
  2. For each main character, does their excitement, doubt, dread or hope drive the character from the very first page? And then turn by the middle of the book to something else?
  3. Why does this story matter to me?
  4. Does each antagonist have his/her own journey?
  5. Are all characters active, especially right from the beginning? How does each character change the protag? How are they involved in crisis and change?
  6. What makes my readers respond positively?
  7. Which scenes are especially significant to me?
  8. Why did I want to write this book in the first place?

So, if I work on 1-2 questions each week, it will take me 6-8 weeks to finish just looking at these questions, without work on any other project (of which there are many). But no action at all = no movement. So I am committed to 1-2 questions each week.

Before I begin rereading Standing Stones once again, here's a crack at #3 why this story matters to me?

Back in the 1960s when I was working my way through college, when I sat next to two boys who bought a 50-pound bag of rice to survive through the term, I took a class called "The Intellectual History of Great Britain."

In the first week of class, the instructor criticized me for being the only female in the class. I was shocked. In front of the class of some 70 souls, all male, he said "How dare you take away a seat from a man." I've forgotten his name. I'm sure he's forgotten me, but he didn't know how stubborn I was or how important a college education was to me.

Yes, I earned an "A" in that class, but the readings, discussions, and lectures in that class changed how I looked at history irrevocably. I became aware of class distinctions, the inherent unfairness of the accident of birth (which I already knew, being female). Now the scope of history was open to me, even though I was in my twenties and had many battles to fight before I began to write seriously.

Standing Stones is about Mac McDonnell, a working class fisherman who tries to protect his family and his community -- unsuccessfully and at great cost. His story matters to me because it is my story.

My female characters are important to me because the story is set in mid-19th Century Scotland, a time when women's lives, whether upper or lower class, were restricted. What they experienced and how they survived reminds me of what I experienced in the 1960s and 1970s. It becomes a kind of lesson to me and contemporary readers that no matter how large the obstacles may appear to achieving a goal, we can persevere. We are true to ourselves.

Goals for this week (It's only about the writing!)
* Work on final read of Standing Stones.
* Wind up October with daily poems for OctPoWriMo and read what others have written.
* Post at least once on my travel blog. Plan November entries for my writing blog (guest blog Sandy Brown Jensen and series on creativity).
* Continue participating in ROW80 through Round 4.
* Write two crits for NOVELS-L (the Internet Writing Workshop) and 1 more book review for Book Review Club.
* Read craft (Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones and 2 magazines).
* Work on winding up volunteer work, play with quilting, and cherish each day with family and friends!

You can:
Read my poems for October on my writing blog or at OctPoWriMo.
Read Guilie Castillo-Oriard's blog.
Read Brian Klem's article for Writer's Digest, "How to Write the Last 10% of Your Novel."
Check out the resources at the Internet Writing Workshop

May your week go well. And I'd be interested in your reaction to Brian Klem's ideas!

Spirit Horses
Detail of quilt by Bonnie Hogue
Washington State Quilters 2013 Quilt Show (Camp 2013)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday check-in, sort-of . . .

Today's the last day of the quilt show. All else has gone to the devil's dust bowl, that place under the bed where I hide what I don't want to look at.

Truly, very little writing, revising, social media, marketing, has happened this week EXCEPT for a poem a day for OctPoWriMo (on my writing blog) and this trial meme, inspired by Cindy Dwyer's link to The Blood-Red Pencil. So here's my first draft meme for my forthcoming Standing Stones. What do you think?

Have you made a meme? This kind of meme is increasingly being used to provoke interest in a book that's already out. Writers post them on websites and Facebook, and maybe GoodReads. I don't know as I'm just starting to find out about this format used to support a book launch.. But it also might be the beginning of a promotional video.

I simply used Word and inserted a text box, then used 'prt scrn' to move it over to my freebie photo program (Irfanview) to create a JPG. Does that sound easy?

I'll be back on Weds to give a more complete check-in for ROW80, but if we're to have fun with our writing, making this first trial meme was fun!

Read my poems for October at my writing blog or jump to Octpowrimo to read what others have written.

Read "Use Memes to Promote Books" at The Blood Red Pencil.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Weds check-in: Quilting and writing and . . .

This week, the Quilt Show dominates everything, starting Thursday for set-up, Friday and Saturday for volunteering. We expect about 5,000 people over three days. By Sunday, I won't know what will be left over, except we're taking Rachel to the show in a wheelchair (she's better every day). Thank goodness, ROW80 has begun! For it's keeping me focused on my writing goals -- despite all else.

1. Writing. So far, so good, though I wrote only one out of two days. It feels like a mosh pit. I'm jumping back to Standing Stones for the final revisions (Catriona's character has changed and I need a slightly different set up for Book3, final check on dates) and to add all those goodies needed (copyright, acknowledgements, about author, questions for book club,  preview of Years of Stone, photos, and the cover).I'm also still writing a poem a day for Octpowrimo. Where these poems come from surprises me every day. Writing on my blogs is a challenge: daily poetry on the writing blog. 2x weekly on this blog for ROW80, and once a week on the travel blog. So far, OK.

2. Community. Goals = writing that poem a day and reading at least 5 others. Reporting in for ROW80 and reading 5 others a day. Last night the Coursera course on historical fiction ("Plagues, Witches, and War") began, and I'm one of 12,000 students. What a fascinating experiment with teacher videos, a discussion board, and reading and writing assignments. Watched the first two videos and will discover this week's assignment tonight.

3. Reading/Craft/Research. I'm reading Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones in small bites (up to page 15) and appreciating very much her sense of writing as practice. Process, not final product. I'm behind on reading, though another great book came in from interlibrary loan, excerpts from Letitia Hargrave's diary with photos and maps of her time at York Factory in the 1840s. Van Kirk's academic study of country wives is simply difficult to pick up, though I'm loving the subject. When the day is done and I have those precious 15 minutes before falling asleep, what do I read? True confession, I'm reading cozy romances. I do like happy endings, despite the darkness in the world (i.e., government shutdown, violence everywhere).

4. Marketing. Oofta! Pending for awhile BUT I do have a sense of direction AND my e-book Mermaid Quilt will be featured this Friday on World Literary Cafe as a free e-book. We'll see how that goes as I'm supposed to promote it like heck! The LINK won't be LIVE until Friday but this could be your chance . . .

5. Personal. Because I'm needed as a babysitter especially this month, I feel like I've picked up a part time job. It's temporary, but all else goes on hold, cooking, cleaning, even exercise. Allen and I walk daily, but swimming only 1x this week. Rachel has finally started to walk -- with a walker and a cane for very short bursts. She can go up and down the stairs with these aids.16-month-old Leda greeted me yesterday with, "Oh, boy!" And I know I'm going to be OK because my office doesn't look like a bomb hit it and I have an hour now to write.

May your week go well, and your characters surprise you.

Breakfast in Buenos Aires (Camp 2009)
Why can't I have a breakfast like this in the states?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday afternoon . . .

The first check in for Round 4, and I'm dithering. Still recovering from a cold, but more lethargic than anything else. Low energy has affected my writing for the last week. Three lost days. But more than anything, checking in for ROW80 makes me accountable for what little I did get done. And what I learned.

Writing. One 'achievement' over break was to take all those micro-scenes for Rivers of Stone that I drafted (some 20,000 words) and put them into a nasty first draft. The result was a story that went 'and then . . .' and then, and then.

Lisa Cron in Writer Unboxed asks writers beginning a draft to look again at back story to find the real structure of the story. She wants us to identify that very specific event that changed everything for the main character, i.e. What knocked my character's world apart. And then how did my character react? Rationally? Irrationally? Imagine both! And how do both of these types of reactions (what Cron calls 'misbeliefs') affect her actions? In reading Cron's article and digging into that back story, I discovered more of Catriona, her heart's desire and her greatest fear. I do feel better about going forward.

Except that my biggest goal for this last round this year is to publish Standing Stones (Book 1) finally -- and before my birthday. And plan the launch for Years of Stone (Book 2) for January. But some of what I discovered in writing about Catriona in Rivers of Stone (Book 3) will affect Book 1.

So I'm uncertain what to do . . . continue drafting or start revising. If you have been in this dilemma, how did you work your way out -- and meet your goals?

My Round 4 Goals are here.

In summary for this week:

I'm writing a poem a day for OctPoWriMo; you can read my poems on my writing blog if you wish. Some have been fun. Others more difficult. I'm reading Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones for the first time, very slowly.

Still chunking away on marketing. Francene Stanley was immensely helpful with a beta read (a trade) and I also did a book review (also a trade), though I'm less certain of what process is ethical, though I've found 'review groups' on Facebook and GoodReads.

The quilt show is this week here in Spokane, so a final push on marketing AND I made a block for Quilts of Valor -- just need a border and it's done. Rachel finally got the go-ahead to put some weight on her foot, so she is mobile for a little bit every day. Hooray! We'll take her to the quilt show in a wheelchair, but she's good to go. And I still am cherishing each day . . . just slowly. Now if I could just get the house clean!

Carolina Lily in Progress (Camp 2013)

If you would like to join a community of like-minded writers who set goals for each Round of 80 Days, check out A Round of Words for 80 Days and jump right in.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Round 3 ending: Look in the Mirror

Day late. But I'm making those daily writes on Rivers of Stone, so all is good. This Weds marks the end of Round 3. I almost want to say hooray and yahoo! Because now we have a little break between now (the end) and the beginning of Round 4, the last for 2013.

Rather than simply meditating on goals at the turn of the New Year, ROW80 gives us that opportunity to consider how we are doing week by week and quarter by quarter. I am grateful for this structure.We all face obstacles in our lives, but this commitment to ROW80 makes achieving my goals a little more possible.

Now to the mirror!

Here is the final update to my goals from Round 3, the what-I-did and the what-I-didn't:

WRITING.  Both Standing Stones and Years of Stone are in Beta read AND Standing Stones was subbed to an indie publisher with 1-3 month turn around. Still committed to self-pubbing this year. Began serious writing on Rivers of Stone with daily writes and a commitment to 7,000 words a month (starting in September). Posted The Mermaid Quilt to Smashwords. NEED TO DO: prepare Afterword, notes, formats for SS and YOS. Continue research, plotting, and writing for ROS.  

WRITING COMMUNITY. My blogging is rather hit and miss. I'm keeping up (sort of) with Row80's 2x a week, and hooray! have hosted two guest blogs on my travel blog with another 2 on the way (one for the travel blog and one for the writing blog). But I'm finding it hard to post to my writing blog. Perhaps an identity crisis? Don't know what people want to read? Don't want to just post any old thing? Don't have the energy? And I haven't written any guest blogs for anyone else (other than ROW80). Yet.

Re guest posting and beta reads: I've gotten involved with both this round, 3 Beta trades pending (1 completed), 2 reviews pending, and now guest blogs to think about.

Met my commitment to read other ROW80 participants (ending in -4 this time) most weeks. Am feeling more comfortable with social media (Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, GoodReads). I want to participate in local writing groups (F2F writer's group x2/month, SASP x1/month, INWG x1/month), but family commitments intervened. Participate in NOVELS-L with subs/crits 3x/month.Oofta on this one. I'm barely making the required 2 to stay on the active list.

Still undecided on whether to sign up to be a sponsor for Round 4. Just 3 slots left! Of course, I would notice that only women have signed up. Hold up the earth!

MARKETING/PUBLISHING. I have continued to work on Marketing skills and plan. I originally planned to write about my progress with marketing, but I don't feel knowledgeable enough -- yet. But, DuoLit's free download Weekend Book Marketing Makeover has given me a sense of direction and I can't say enough positive about it. Outstanding!  Still to do: Evaluate success of Mermaid Quilt marketing.

CRAFT. Hit or miss but still working on: Apply principles learned from revising YOS to SS. Keep current with writing magazines. You should see the pile of magazines. But I do read those writing strategies that come in via e-mail.

WASHINGTON STATE QUILTERS. My goals were to continue to support guild activities through the summer to promote annual quilt show, guild meetings, speakers, and program. Interview Sherry Thompson. Get Membership Brochures out to local shops. Post weekly on WSQ Facebook page. Big decision: This is my last year of this volunteer post, but I still love this group of quilters!

PERSONAL. Cherish each day with family and friends. Quilt, quilt, quilt. DONE: Finish Raffle block by July 9 and Charity Quilt by July 25 <--NOT DONE (I can make this by Oct and still be fine). DONE: Prepare presentation on Africa trip by July 23 but got sweet-talked into doing another one on Egypt in October. 

Some of you know that my daughter had a bad fall, breaking one ankle and bruising the other. Our 15-month old daughter was not hurt, but my daughter is now in a wheelchair through most of October. She's making remarkable progress, bones regenerating, but still can only use the walker for very short bursts (and pays for too much time standing with aches and pains). So, she cannot really care for little Leda when hubby goes off to work. My life has been turned topsy-turvey. I feel behind in most things and exhausted on most days. But I'm thrilled to be close enough to be helpful. The writing comes first in the morning, and then all else is a crap shoot. Unedited. Sorry.

Resting Warthog (Camp 2012)
Onward to Round 4. May it go well for you. Write on!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Write, organize, market . . . write!

Sunday, I make a new table to set up writing goals for the coming week. Wow! Am I anal? It looks something like this.

When several days go by with no action in a specific goal area (check out those blue blocks), that helps me reset priorities and/or get to work!

I also keep a short daily journal in the same file to track what I'm doing, random images and notes on research, characters, submissions, sales, and resources. At the end of the month, I review the whole file and start another one for the coming month.

So after the writing of the day, and following my mantra from Weds of finding the marketing tools that fit and having fun with them, I opened DuoLit's Weekend Book Marketing Makeover that I downloaded maybe two months ago.

Wow! Was that fun.

In a very few pages, Toni and Shannon map out specific steps to take to revamp your marketing strategy. Starting with looking at yourself in the mirror. Reasserting your goals. Thinking about your 'comparables' (those blockbuster writers who write like you do). Describing your fans. And then the payoff for me: Evaluating your online presence.

What follows next is rather like a dieting check-list. A daily commitment. But with organization. Manageable chunks. This falls right into that well-worn insight: If you have a very large task to do (and marketing is a very large task), break it into smaller chunks. 

I can't wait to get started . . . and will report updates here . . . but first ROW80 check-in, nearly the last for this round. What could be more appropriate for looking into a mirror as a writer than reconsidering those writing goals I made some 3 months ago?

Shannon and Toni point out that it's really all about the writing -- and connecting with readers. That makes marketing more accessible for me. How about you?

ROW80 check-in:

1. Cherish each day. This week I am cherishing the time I have with others who need me.
2. Write 5 sentences a day for Rivers of Stone for a minimum of 1,000 a week (7,000 for the month). Somehow this math doesn't add up, but I'm on target for a total of 1,553 for this week and 3,820 so far for September. Hooray!
3. Work on marketing. Not sure this really fits here, but my first BETA READ is done, and I've started two others. Read DuoLit's Weekend Book Marketing Makeover and will get started on their action steps this coming week.
4. Fulfill ROW80 Sponsorship by reading assigned +5. So far read 7. Will pick up more today.
5. Reduce electronic clutter. Slow progress here. Only 200 deleted from e-mail so far. Maybe today.
6. Catch up on Washington State Quilters. Road jam with bookmarks, though overall design complete. Will finish program today. Idea for article on antique quilts still pending.
7. Exercise 3x this week. I ought to set this for 2x for that's my reality. Still no walks.

For a little more reading:
Check out Toni and Shannon's DuoLit (and their free download) at
Follow them on TWITTER @duolit <-- I'm a fan!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Weds Check In on Thurs AM: Off to Market . . .

I read something somewhere this week that took a little of the sting out of marketing.

Find the marketing tools you're comfortable with and have fun with those.

That works for me because every time I look at my now rather long Marketing Plan with its 'to-do' list, I simply set it aside. And stress over what I'm not doing.

So this week, I discovered book reviews and beta reads.

Being enthusiastic, I probably have too many ahead of me, but this is fun. For the beta reads (3 in progress), I can read a nearly-final draft and let the writer know what works for me. For the reviews (4 downloaded and ready to go), I can simply read and write reviews. Something I want to do anyway for Friday Fiction on my own writing blog.

Two sites on Facebook may be of interest to you:  Book Review Depot has a nice list of about 30 books, some free, some at regular or discounted price, with a 'rule' that one of the reviews must come from the top (and oldest) listed books. Additionally, you must review two books from the list before your book can be added to the list.

The second Facebook review site I found is simply called Review Seekers. To participate here, you must offer a FREE version of your book you'd like reviewed. The list is crowded, but I've found a few here to review.

As we move to the end of Round 3, I can only say that I'm happy to have made SOME progress this round. In spite of all else, I'm feeling encouraged, supported, and reasonably productive. What else could we want?

Update for ROW80 Weds check-in one day late:

1. Cherish each day. Working on this one. The last three days have been very intense, so I'm tired. But daughter is improving every day.
2. Work on marketing. Made progress here. I'm working on my first beta read for a ROW80 colleague!
3. Write 5 sentences a day for Rivers of Stone for a minimum of 1,000 a week. New goal 7,000 words for September. Missed two days so only 341 this week . . . so far. Total as of Sept 12: 2,407.
4. Fulfill ROW80 sponsor by reading assigned + 5. Ooops. Not yet. Only 2 so far this week. Persevere!
5. Reduce electronic clutter 2x weekly. So far deleted 200. Discovered clutter on the netbook too, but I'm catching up the e-mail clutter first. Easy to do when I'm tired.
6. Blog 4x a week. Probably OK. Two posted so far.
7. Catch up on Washington State Quilters. Oh yes! Prepped for meeting AND motivated my colleagues to distribute hundreds of posters and brochures. That was fun. Promo next and a new article on antique quilts.
8. Exercise 3x this week. So far 2x and a lovely breakfast with the swimming buds. No walks yet.

Giraffe, Tanzania (Camp 2012)
Round 3 for ROW80 begins October 7. I know I will continue with ROW80 for this weekly accountability keeps me focused. BUT what I'm undecided about is whether I should sign up to be a sponsor again. Have I done all that a 'good' sponsor should do? I wrote the motivational article and read my assigned colleagues, but I don't reach everyone who posts on ROW80. But how else do I say thank you in a tangible way for this lovely on-line writing community?

Or is it better to have the sponsorship rotate? There are 4 slots left.

Have you considered signing up to be a ROW80 sponsor????

Sunday, September 8, 2013

ROW80: Sunday, foggy Sunday . . .

Foggy Sunday. Long list of to-do today. But I do cherish this morning of quiet, the gray air softening what is to come, just as the green leaves on the cherry tree outside my window soften my view of the parking lot below. These sweet green leaves remind me of a summer nearly past. One or two leaves have turned that bright yellow that speaks of fall. The temperatures now are dropping, and I wonder what changes this winter will bring.

ROW80 Sunday check-in:

1. Cherish each day. 
2. Work on marketing. Took the plunge. Subbed Standing Stones to an indie publisher with a 1-3 month turn-around. If no-go, then I self-pub by year-end. Sent 3 beta-read trades out and am excited about reading them this week.
3. Write 5 sentences a day for Rivers of Stone for minimum of 1,000 words a week. New goal 7,000 words for September. Great progress this week 6 out of 7 days. Total as of Sept 8:  2,066.
4. Fulfill ROW80 Sponsor by reading assigned + 5. Met goal.
5. Reduce electronic clutter 2x weekly. Deleted 600 this week.
6. Blog 4x week. Done.
7. Catch up Washington State Quilters. Reasonable progress. Finishing program today, then out for proofing. Then work on promo for meeting and quilt show.
8. Exercise 3x this week. Swam 2x. Rain and fog descended. No walks.

Just 10 days to 'finish' Round 3. May your week go well.

Crane at moment of flight (Camp 2012)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Weds Check-in: Lost and found . . .

Some mornings I just wake up tired. OK maybe this morning's 151 blood sugar had something to do with it. But I will exercise this morning and do that finger-prick again. Take a breath. It's Wednesday morning check-in.

So maybe being tired is related to my blood sugar ups and downs. I've been pretty tired when helping Rachel and Nick but just push through the dishes, housework and childcare. Little Leda is so much fun. She loves me, hugs me, and today I have a great video from yesterday of the kid eating yogurt.

Easy to get discouraged over the writing. If I don't have readers who like my stuff, why am I writing every day? But then the story pulls me in. I made an exciting breakthrough yesterday for Rivers of Stone. A ROW80 colleague recommended Susan Bischoff's writing blueprint (see her DOWNLOAD page) and off I went to try it out.

Boom! Nearly 1,000 words later, I discovered that (1) Catriona will be the main protag for Rivers of Stone, (2) I now know the locale of each major section, and (3) I'm making a commitment to write 7,000 words on Rivers of Stone right now, for the month of this September.

So that's the update from the Pacific Inland Northwest. What I've read from others is that health issues sometimes affect us and we persevere. That's enough for me. Thank you all.

ROW80 Mid-week check:

1. Cherish each day. Doing my best here. Had one great walk. Saw Elysium yesterday with DH. Not bad. Just reading this phrase daily slows me down and makes me feel thankful.
2. Work on marketing. Not as good progress here. Checked out Book Blast and Kindle Books and Tips. Got rejected by both for length as my current book is 60 pages and number of reviews (need at least 6). But both could be pay-for-promotion opportunities for fall launch.
3. Write 5 sentences a day for Rivers of Stone for minimum of 1,000 words a week. 500 for Mon/Tues.
4. Fulfill ROW80 Sponsor by reading assigned + 5. So far 7 read.
5. Reduce electronic clutter 2x weekly. Not yet.
6. Blog 4x week. Blogged re Sao Paulo, Brazil on Travel blog.
7. Catch up Washington State Quilters. Worked on program. Need to finish my portion this week and promote speaker. OK progress.
8. Exercise 3x this week. OK. Skipped Monday. Said I would go Tuesday. Skipped Tuesday. OK must go Weds. I'm off!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sunday night late . . . check-in ROW80

I'm rolling into September with another experiment in marketing.

I've been reading about J. Konrath's experiment with short, shorts. He's challenged e-book indie writers to write an e-book and publish it in 8 hours. You can read about this a little more on my writing blog in my review of Ruth Nestvold's The Destruction of Ys, a fine introduction to her blend of fiction and fantasy.

For 1/3 of the price of a cup of coffee, you can download these short, shorts and meet new writers. I've heard these are popular with train commuters who can finish a story before the next stop.

So I've decided to offer The Mermaid Quilt & Other Tales for 99 cents throughout the month of September. Available on Smashwords or Amazon.

I'm not sure what (if anything) will happen.

A few writers from the Internet Writing Workshop have commented that publishing such short shorts risks alienating or outright angering readers who anticipate more than the 10-20 pages in such a download.

So there are some risks, but one writer commented this may be a necessary plank in a writer's platform, another way to build connections with readers. Another wrote with passion about the need to know your audience. Even publishers are encouraging writers to put together similar 'collections'.

I'd like to get my work 'out there' and learn more about marketing -- and my audience -- in the process. Stay tuned for an update. As my sister says, "This should be interesting."

Sunday Night ROW80 CHECK-IN.

Usually Sunday is when I set up plans for the coming week. I spent about an hour this morning going over last month's achievements (and missteps) and was pretty happy, even as we run up against the end of Round 3.  For the coming week, I hope to:

1. Cherish each day. Walk with Allen. MOVIE day Tuesday.
2. Work on marketing plan.
3. Write 5 sentences a day for Rivers of Stone for minimum of 1,000 words a week. 
Do research, outline Rivers of Stone (Paul Kane, journal, notebook, METCALF reading x1). Update: fine progress here 980 words and a good amount of research done.

4. Fulfill ROW80 sponsor by reading assigned numbers each week plus 5. OK read 10 this week.
5. Reduce electronic clutter x2 each week. Deleted 300 e-mails this week.
6. Blog on each blog at least once EACH week, including Friday Fiction on writing blog. So far, so good.

7. Catch up with Washington State Quilters: Knocked my socks off this week with article filed on time, ads arranged, and progress made on promo bookmarks and program. 
8. Exercise x3 this week. Yep + 2 really good walks. But no yoga this week except for 5 minutes, and I'm not sure that counts at all.

The goal that underlies all else is simply to remind myself to stay calm while supporting my daughter as she goes through the healing process from her broken ankle. This week she'll see the doctor and maybe get a lighter cast. She's not walking yet, but the picture that stays in my mind is of her drying Leda from her bath while sitting in a wheelchair, both of them giggling. This afternoon I made soup. She loved it.

A final thought: What I notice most about the goal-setting process is how my goals drift. Do yours? The to-do list gets longer. But I keep making small steps to reach my goals. Perhaps that heady mix of self-doubt and joy when the writing goes well is enough. How do you maintain your focus? 

On balance, does reporting progress on your goals help you or hinder your writing?

Morning Crane (Camp 2012)

Click HERE to read what other ROW80 folk have written this week.