Sunday, July 28, 2013

The moment . . . Sunday check in for ROW80

Karen Huber's blog begins with this insight: "The moment is all you ever have, and it is enough."

These last few days have brought me to a new and remembered understanding of this statement.

I remember the moment of falling several years ago while holding a dear child and choosing -- in that moment -- to fall backward. I broke my glasses and bruised my back, but the child was unhurt.

This last Thursday, my daughter fell down some stairs. She was carrying one-year-old Leda. She chose to fall backwards in the moment of falling. Leda is unhurt. Rachel broke one ankle and sprained the other badly. The surgery went well (two hours instead of one), but for the next three months Rachel will be relatively immobile.

So I begin by revising Karen's statement slightly.

"This moment is what I have, and it is enough."

It is enough for me to say to my daughter that I can be here for you, at this moment.

My writing goals may not be met this round for ROW80 and for myself, but that's OK. Just thinking about what I can do here and now to help her, I have renewed energy and will persevere. For the coming week by next Sunday, my goals are even simpler.

1. Cherish each moment.
2. Do some writing every day.
3. Continue exercising for mental health x3.
4. Check in ROW80 x10.

May your writing week go well.

Rachel and me in 2011

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Hot Wednesday Check-in . . .

I'm reminded of that wonderful slogan from AA, something like, "Accept with serenity that which you cannot change and move forward with what you can."

Not a bad concept for Wednesday morning. It will be 96 later today.

Here's my progress on this week's goals.


1. Survive until Wednesday. DONE! Yippee! The Africa presentation went well last night. I'm guessing some 30 hours for prep. but it's done. Behind me. Finished.

In progress:
2. Keep working on Smashwords conversion. On page 39 of the Smashwords Style Guide.  Making my own checklist that can be used again and again. 
3. Reduce electronic clutter. (Spent 15 minutes x2 deleting e-mails). Why do I need copies of e-mails sent in 2010?
4. Read and comment on Gardner's poetry that he sent me in June. Started this morning.
5. Read Flanagan's Gould's Book of Fish. Started late last night. Now on page 12.
6. Do another crit for NOVELS-L. Maybe later today.

Before Sunday:

7. Write a post for my travel blog (a little difficult since my travels are more internal). Posted Rachel's lovely poem on the writing blog. Will tackle the travel blog.
8. Start reading Standing Stones for final revision.
8. Cherish each day. <--My favorite ongoing goal.

This week, Eden Mabee's "Those (Five) Sentences" post challenged ROW80 folks to consider Kait Nolan's Test Mile, a way of not giving up BEFORE you get started. Run that 'test mile' and work through the obstacles, those 'I can't do this' statements that create barriers to writing (or doing any task we resist).

Eden's resulting 'test mile' is to write 5 sentences. So can I write 5 sentences daily? 
This is pretty necessary since I've been immersed in revising so long I sometimes doubt that I CAN write at all. And the challenge for me would be to write something, anything, a piece of a story.
She can't see anything. The smell of wood is all around her. Her thumb brushes wooden splinters from the tips of her fingers. She thought nothing would go wrong. Nothing at all, once she was home.
Later the nurse would say, "I didn't think she was dead."
Later the nurse would awaken from nightmares. "Why didn't I say something?"
1902. Dock landing near Paris. The captain. The doctor. The rush of passengers to finally disembark.The unloading of a coffin. An inquest. A baby.
So, did you read Eden's or Kait's article? Do you have a daily 'test mile'?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Goals, mapping, drifting . . .

Slowly it has come to me that perhaps the most important goal of all is to drift . . . 

When the words don't come.

When a loved one is not well. 

I promised that I would update my goals for the coming week this Sunday. It's now early Sunday. The Africa presentation is Tuesday (I'm about 80% ready). Mother-in-law leaves Wednesday. Today, actually by 10:30 am, the women leave for the clearance floor at Macy's. I don't need anything. The pleasure is in taking my daughter, granddaughter, and mother-in-law for an annual trolling of goodies-to-find. But, I'd almost rather go to garage sales and second hand stores.

Perhaps that's what draws me to historical fiction, that delving into the detritus, of finding something that once was precious to someone else and treasuring it anew.

It takes no courage to go shopping.

Perhaps I like to recast the past because so much of history is unknown. We see political and economic history in shelves of books, but the women's stories, what's been dubbed social history, is hard to find. Rather like my search for water.

So last night, after everyone left following dinner (pesto hamburgers, my first home-made pesto), I did nothing at all. I sat and quilted a bit, making something of scraps of cloth, letting go of the panic beneath the day's activities, for I know that life will change again. Allen's discomforts continue; we'll find the results of the MRI in the coming week. He says the results will be typical, yet his energy level drops.

My goals for the coming week are very simple.

1. Survive until Wednesday.
2. Keep working on Smashwords conversion (I actually did make progress on this).
3. Reduce electronic clutter.
4. Read and comment on Gardner's poetry that he sent me in June.
5. Read Flanagan's Gould's Book of Fish.
6. Do another crit for NOVELS-L.
7. Write a post for my travel blog (a little difficult since my travels are more internal).
8. Cherish each day.

Did you notice there are no writing goals for this week? Hah! No word count. No tracking hours spent. I give myself permission to drift this week. My characters will simply have to talk to each other for a bit.

When do you allow yourself to drift?

A wonderful group of ROW80 writers posts twice weekly to share goals. Read about our progress here. Or considering joining us at A Round of Words in 80 Days here!

Carolyn Mabel Johnson, my grandmother.
She's the child in the center, flanked by
her mother, rumored to be Native American,
her father, a soldier,
and his intrepid mother.
Fort Reno, Oklahoma, about 1900.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Weds check-in: Free for you because . . .

Another crazy few days. Another late check-in. But let's get the WEDS ROW80 check-in out of the way so I can get back to something just for you: It's free! Available instantly because all you have to do is read on! (and I'm not talking about my books). Read on!


I'm doing the happy dance! Finished the edits (Sections 1-3) on Years of Stone yesterday morning!!!! This is maybe the 6th or 7th or 8th round of editing, so I'm really done. Started work on the cover and a new web site that's more author-like. My ultimate goal: To publish Years of Stone and Standing Stones before year-end AND

Not sure what's next. Got a big presentation Tuesday next week, so it's immersion time. Went to a fabric sale last night (yes, I'm a quilter) that started at 10 pm just to get that 40% discount. Skipped exercise this morning to get caught up and . . . Tomorrow I take my visiting mother-in-law (who wears a size 2) to 6th floor Macy's clearance center (70% off), and I promise to set my goals on Sunday more specifically.

Now for the FREE article for YOU!

I ran across this neat article by Gregory Ciotti, a copywriter, "The Five Most Persuasive Words in the English Language" because I was looking for a video of that funny and annoying little 6-second TV commercial from the 1960s.

A black bird appears on the TV screen and screams out, "I've got six seconds to sing: Buy Kraft cottage cheese, you'll love it, love it. Buy Kraft cottage cheese!"

I've been feeling like that bird this week: I've got six seconds! Yack!

But at the bottom of the article, I found a link to Ciotti's article on those five most persuasive words. So I jumped over instantly to take a look because today, we writers must market as well as write. Maybe I'll learn something new!

Here are those 5 most persuasive words in order of their importance: 

you, free, because, instantly, new

Really, Ciotti's explanations of each word are quite useful. I'm plugging them right into my marketing plan -- keeping in mind that my genre (historical fiction) trumps marketing. And what works for cottage cheese may not work for me.

How do we market without being too intrusive? Without sounding like a crazy bird? With only six seconds? How have you integrated marketing into your daily/weekly writing?

And here's the link:

Beth's Raffle Quilt Square (July 2012)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Oops: Monday morning Sunday check-in . . .

Did I say my mother-in-law is visiting for two weeks?

Here's my late, late, late update. OK, it's Monday morning catch-up. But overall, so far, so good for this week's goals (my weekly goals are usually set on Sunday for the coming week, but not this week).

1. Finish revising Section 2 of Years of Stone (edit 6 out of 7 days). Done. Actually about half way through Section 3, the last section. Yippee! Also sent section 1 to my BFF who's going to design the book cover. She said she couldn't put the story down. Always encouraging to hear that, even if she is my BFF.

2. Work on Africa Presentation (draft 4 out of 7 days, find music/picture books at Library, review journals). Some progress in selecting pictures. Expect this to go into high gear in the coming week as the presentation is July 23.

3. Prepare Mermaids for Smashwords (revise 3 out of 7 days). No progress at all.

4. Remove clutter from office and e-mail. Organize and let go. Not too much is stacked on the floor, so that's progress of a sort. 

5. Read craft/research (3 out of 7 days). Made 2 days. Some progress here.

6. Read, learn from and encourage other ROW80 folks (4 out of 7 days). Again, some progress. Read 10 posts by others.

7. Blog at least one post to writing and one to travel blogs. Drafted half a blog. Does that count?

8. Other: Relax and let others take the lead as family arrives. Quilt a little. Clean house a little. Cherish quiet time. Really? Did I really say relax? My goal for the coming week is to gain no more than 3 pounds from stress eating!

Last week I tried WIPpet Wednesday and was so warmly welcomed. I didn't read around as much as I wanted, but I have today and tomorrow to do a bit more reading of others' posts.

Flaubert's rough draft
for A Simple Heart (Wikipedia)
A note re marketing as I continue my journey of trying to learn as much as I can: I read somewhere that it's a good idea to start requesting 'blurbs' for that all-important book cover well before the launch date. That you may get as many as 70 rejections before you get a single yes! So I sent out two requests to historical writers I respect. 

I'm amazed at the generosity of people I've met on the internet. One responded immediately, told me her current agent, and said when she returns from vacation, she'll happily consider reading Years of Stone. Hey, that's not a no!

Any stories about how you gained blurbs for your books?

Remember when we used to revise by hand???

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A snippet for WIPpet Weds . . .

Here's my first post for WIPpet Weds from my work in progress, Years of Stone. I'm using the first 7 sentences (for July, month 7) that open Section 2.

Chapter 23: Hobart Town (December 1842)

“Ew, mate. You’ve got the stink of death on you.”
“I’d laugh. But you’re too close to the truth.” Mac stood by the water pump in Doc Morrell’s back yard.
“You got lucky, man,” said Mackey. “You being assigned out to Doc Morrell. ‘Tis better than being out in the bush. Bet you thought you were going to the dogs.”
 “What happened? Nobody will tell me.”
“Talk to Doc Morrell. He knows.” Mackey finished filling two large jugs of water. “Best clean up afore you see him.”
Mac took a quick wash at the pump and presented himself to Doc Morrell in his front office.
The morning light showed every line on Doc Morrell’s face. “You’ve got a few new bruises, I see.”
#   #   # 
Posting this makes me wonder what people will say, especially since there's no blurb. Oh, well. Here's the draft blurb for the book cover:

In 1842, Deidre Scott undertakes a perilous four-month journey to follow Mac McDonnell, the man she loves, a fisherman who has been sentenced to seven years for resisting evictions on an island in the Orkneys, Scotland. The story begins just as they reach the dreaded penal colony, Van Diemen’s Land (present day Tasmania, Australia). 
 They survive a shipwreck, only to be separated as Mac begins work on a road gang, while Deidre cobbles together a job. Befriended by Lady Franklin, the wife of world-famous explorer, Sir John Franklin, Deidre begins teaching at the Cascades Women’s Factory, always finagling ways to improve conditions for Mac. She discovers a hidden world through Kate Dallow, her ship-mate, and  she is besieged by proposals.
 Through Deidre’s efforts. Mac is reassigned from a chain gang to Doc Morrell in Hobart Town, but even Doc cannot help him, once Mac fights with Constable Johnson. Mac must find a way to survive the prison at Port Arthur. Will Deidre and Mac find each other once again? Will they build a new life for themselves in colonial Van Diemen's Land?
WIPpet Weds, dreamed up by K. L. Schengel, asks writers to post a little something that relates to the date. So for July, that might be 7 words, 7 sentences, 7 paragraphs, etc. Then jump to the LINKY on her site, share, and read on. 

Hobart Town, Mount Wellington (Wikipedia)

Weds: Smaller is better . . .

Cup of coffee half-full? Half empty? Goals half-met? Wonder if I will do 'better' this week?

As I look back over last week, I realize that my 'to do' list is far too long. Yet, I'm having trouble winnowing out any one goal. All look good on paper. I think I'm OK if I just continue to put writing first (and trying to make the goal as measurable as possible). So for the coming week, trying to "Keep it real, dog," here are my goals:

1. Finish revising Section 2 of Years of Stone (edit 6 out of 7 days).
2. Work on Africa Presentation (draft 4 out of 7 days, find music/picture books at Library, review journals).
3. Prepare Mermaids for Smashwords (revise 3 out of 7 days).
4. Remove clutter from office and e-mail. Organize and let go.
5. Read craft/research (3 out of 7 days). 
6. Read, learn from and encourage other ROW80 folks (4 out of 7 days).
7. Blog at least one post to writing and one to travel blogs.

Other: Relax and let others take the lead as family arrives. Quilt a little. Clean house a little. Cherish quiet time.
Leda picking strawberries (July 2013)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Weds check-in: First for Round 3.

UPDATE Sunday night check in -- Shown in italics below. Very, very short this time, but I did make progress on the article that's due tomorrow for ROW80.  Hooray! 

Simpler seems so much more accessible, yet when I write, my goals seem to proliferate. So THIS WEEK, my goals are:

1. Continue work on revising Years of Stone. FINISHED Section 1.
2. Prepare The Mermaid Quilt for Smashwords. NO Progress at all.
3. Read Joanna Penn's How To Market a Book (and take notes). First chapter done.
4. Read Edward Lenox, Overland to Oregon for Rivers of Stone. No progress.
5. Write 2x blog posts.No progress.
6. Complete 2x crits for NOVELS-L. No progress.
7. Try the FAST DRAFTING daily (200 words, riffing from Rivers of Stone). 1x session = good enough to try at least 3 more times before Weds check-in!

I've picked up some useful ideas from reading what other ROW80 folks plan to do. But here are the three top ideas:
  • Fast drafting for a minimum word count.
  • Meditate before writing (even 5 minutes is good).
  • Decide on a topic and write blogs every week.

Other commitments for this week: Survive the heat. Continue work for Washington State Quilters (meeting this morning, meeting next week). Every day, cherish my dear family. Here's a pic of my granddaughter, just home from a week away on vacation, down to the Oregon Coast.

Leda Rose at the Beach (Nick, June 2013)

Do I have a focus for either of my blogs? The writing blog documents ups and downs on my various writing projects, research I find of interest, and the occasional poem. I'm not sure what would appeal to anyone there, so I just end up writing what's going on for me. Joanna Penn says to think about your audience and write to them. That a blog is another way to create audience.

My travel blog was begun to share travels with family and friends. But we don't travel quite as much, so I've renamed it "on the road and home again". Again, I'm really writing for me and am unsure what to post.

What do you think about when getting ready to write your blog? I'd love to know what other ROW80 folks think about when they write blogs. Do you have an audience? A focus? A specific strategy or commitment to a schedule for writing your blog?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Round 3 goals are . . .

Round 3 Goals are over here.

Please click to visit!

Somehow this break before the start of Round 3 was really essential. Warmer weather? Steady working? Don't know. Just know that I'm ready now. At least as long as the air conditioning works!

May your Round 3 be everything you hope.