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.