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 After being active in this group since 2011, I've withdrawn.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.