Thursday, December 25, 2014

Looking back and forward to 2015 with ROW80

Walt Whitman (about 50)
from Wikipedia
When I was in my twenties, I was charmed by Walt Whitman. His courage, his deceptively simple poetry. His uncompromising commitment to saying what he thought and the beautiful rhythms of his free verse. And for the new year, this quote: "Afoot and lighthearted I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me." - Walt Whitman 

I've been thinking how to prepare for the coming year as I confront also being another year older, yet still enchanted by Whitman's advice to "take to the open road." Yet now I remember T. S. Eliott's lovely lines: "I grow old . . . I grow old . . .  / I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers unrolled." Another hint at less conventionality.

Being a participant in A Round of Words in 80 Days helps me visualize goals and focus throughout the year on achieving those measurable and accountable goals -- with that not-always-so-easy-to-achieve twice weekly check-in. 

But I liked this quote as well: "Make New Year's goals. Dig within and discover what you would like to have happen in your life. This helps you do your part. It is an affirmation that you're interested in fully living life in the year to come." -- Melody Beattie.

2014 was a grand year: Both Standing Stones (January 2014) and Years of Stone (June 2014) were self-published, to thoughtful reviews, following three years of work. The third book, Rivers of Stone, is well into draft stage at roughly 85,000 words. I've done reasonably well with marketing, blogging, and participating in several communities of writers. I did love connecting with readers and finding out what they thought of my stories.

I could stop researching, writing, and revising (and marketing), for this is hard work. Family, grandchildren, travels, and quilting all offer opportunities to do what I love. But my writing is an anchor, whether poetry or fiction. I'm grateful for these early mornings when all seems new, the page is blank, and I can write.

Looking ahead to 2015: My goals are simple.
1. Complete Rivers of Stone and publish by January 2016.
2. Continue participating in ROW80, Wednesday WIPpet, NOVELS-L and my face-to-face writer's group, as well as Spokane Authors.
3. Blog to share ideas about writing, traveling and progress here for ROW80.
4. Devise a marketing plan for Rivers of Stone and persevere.
5. Maybe work on a poetry book. Maybe edit Mothers Don't Die.

And otherwise continue to cherish each day with my loved ones, family and friends, work on de-cluttering online and off, and continue to respect that sometimes hard to define boundary that we honor when we say "No" at least as often as we say "Yes!" 

Granddaughter Leda (June 2014)
This online community of ROW80 (A Round of Words in 80 Days) remains a wonderful process of setting measurable goals and checking in to report progress. Why not join in? Or check out how other ROW80 writers see the end of the year (see links below). 

May 2015 bring you joy and writerly success!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Row80 Weds check-in and the plank . . .

Not sure where to start. Except this Weds check-in for Row80 will be short. Tuesday, I started a new exercise class and hit the 'plank.' Trust me, don't do this beautiful, strong pose on your first day if you are a writer. 

Photo by Yoga Mama (Flickr)
Left wrist sprained. Lots of pain. I'm taking the next week off from blogging (not writing) with all the usual (ice, anti-inflammatory, wrist brace).

Writing goals met. I just want to affirm that the process of sharing your work and reading it aloud with a small group is invaluable. Thank you, Annette and Sandy.

Community/marketing goals: Didn't post WIPpet this week, but I'll be reading you Wednesday WIPpet guys HERE and all you ROW80 writers HERE

My special BookBub deal has been moved out to January 15. Two book reviews done. Decluttering continues everywhere. What amazing progress, except those e-mails in my inbox still hover around 300 and I'm behind.

What was it that Mac said in Standing Stones? "Bend. Don't break." And another favorite Scottish proverb:  "When one door closes, another opens." May your week go well.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

ROW80 Sunday night check-in

Last week was intense. Enough so that tonight, I'm considering the week ahead and feeling pretty good about clearing all away before the end of Round 4 for ROW80 (That's December 25th). Not all my goals have been met, but here's this week's check-in:

Writing: Began editing Section 01 of Rivers of Stone. Now about 30% through the first read. Making notes and editing as I go. 

Blogging: At the library panel, a woman asked if writers really need an online presence. So that led me to blog, "Do writers need websites." My conclusion surprised me. Maybe! Posted snippet for WIPpet Wednesday and read minimum of 10 folks this week.

Read/Review. Finally posted a review on Amazon of E. E. Giorgi's Chimeras. I enjoyed this book for sheer entertainment, a darkly real Los Angeles setting, and the interesting mix of cop talk and science. Also posted one crit for NOVELS_L as part of the Internet Writing Workshop (goal for the month, minimum of two crits). Now 66% through The Angels of the Jardin Massey, my next review, and still need to review Odell and Podruchny.

Marketing: Participated in two panels this week on e-publishing and learned so much from my two partners -- Frank Zafiro (crime fiction) and Annette Drake (historical romance). Why not check out their books? Both are indie-published.

Still to do: Draft a marketing plan for 2015. Evaluate results of BookBub promotion. Played around with Word Press as a possible 'real' website rather than pages on Blogger, BUT I really like blogger. . . so, maybe no change. Undecided.

Other: Continuing work on decluttering my office. Actually read 6 writing craft magazines, finished a cute knitted hat with matching cowl (no pattern!), and made two potholders. That was fun. And my office doesn't quite look like a quilting hoarder lives here. E-mail still holding under 300. Not quite caught up . . . yet.

I'm feeling very thankful for all the writers I've come to know. Thank YOU for enriching my writing life. May 2015 bring you that perfect balance between creativity and productivity!  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

ROW80 check-in: Almost didn't!

Very intense week, so my thoughts throughout most of today: What if I don't post?  

I didn't listen to my doubting self, so here's the check-in for ROW80 (Dec 10). As we get closer to the end of Round 4, 2014, I'm thinking what an amazing year this has been, full of writing, reading, planning, and sharing work in progress. And a new grandbaby to cherish.

Update from last week and looking ahead:
1. Writing: Moved new scenes and notes generated during NaNoWriMo over to sections for Rivers of Stone. Decided to take a two-week break from reading/making notes. Plan to start December 21. 
2. Presentations: 2 of 3 presentations done. This Thursday's panel discussion on e-publishing ready to go, and these are the last for a while.
3. Blogging: Using to draft blog posts and for morning writing. Committed to writing on the travel blog x1, writing blog x1, and ROW80 blog x2 (and WIPpet Weds), and reading what others have posted x10.
4. Reading/reviewing. Behind on reviews for (Giorgi, Podruchny, and Odell) but now reading Jackie Ley, Angels of the Jardin Massey. Finished my interlibrary loan, the very useful study, Making the Voyageur World by Carolyn Podruchny. 
5. Marketing: Up next: Revamp marketing/research plan for 2015. Book Bub approved my listing for Standing Stones on December 17. Their newsletter will go out to about 1.2 million subscribers! Including the U.K. That means this week I need to set up wrap around e-mail alerts, double-check book blurbs as tight as possible, and get that MailChimp e-mail blast ready to go. This is my first real promotion, and I'm excited to offer Standing Stones for free as a kind of thank you for all the interest and encouragement so many have sent my way.
7. Keep decluttering . . . Still holding e-mails under 300. Would love to quilt a little -- between all else. Maybe.

Other stuff: Interesting idea gleaned from our panel (and from reading what other indie writers put in at the end of their books): When you set up your e-book, include a request for reviews in the Afterword. Some writers offer a free copy for review purposes. Interesting.

WIPpet Wednesday: Here's a snippet from Rivers of Stone, the snippet for December 12 month = 12 lines. It was fun to write this work song in the style of the voyageurs. 

Context: Cat, still disguised as a boy, works as an assistant to artist Paul Kane and travels west to Fort Vancouver with the voyageurs. 

     The men started before breakfast, broke camp, and carried blankets, packs, and the food out to the canoes. Kane slept through the noise, while Cat repacked his art supplies and drawings in a waterproof parfleche. 
     Once Kane had roused and the four canoes launched, they were on the river. The voyageurs began to sing, almost a lament, well matched to the rising mist that obscured the forest and the mountains ahead.
     Cat leaned back on her pack in the middle of the canoe. "Sing that one again, Pierre."
     Without missing a beat, Pierre swung his great oar and added a new verse, the men picking up the refrain. 

"She was the prettiest gal I ever did see, 
out along the Muskagee,
Her father was gone, her mother was lost,
and all she had was me."
I'm heading home to that faraway place, 
along the Muskagee,
where the wolves don't run, and the deer are fat,
and all she has is me."

Voyageurs at Dawn, 1871 by Frances Anne Hopkins (1838–1919) Wikipedia

May the week go well for all your endeavors, with a little time set aside for quiet reflection at the end of the year. 

Check out what others have written for ROW80 HERE and, consider signing up to be a sponsor for Round 1 of 2015, yes?

Also, hop over to myrandommuse to see what writers have posted for those precious snippets for Wednesday's WIPpet (work in progress). 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

ROW80 Sunday check-in: 2015 Fast Approaching

December 25 marks the end of Round 4 for 2014, and the end of the year is a good time to recalibrate and think about writing goals for the coming year. This morning I wrote about Blake Russell's key factors of successful self-publishers, useful ideas for thinking about next year.

But for now, here's the check-in for Dec 1-7, pared down (I hope):

1. Writing: Moved NaNoWriMo new scenes and notes over to sections for Rivers of Stone. Writing warm-ups on every day. Coming week: Begin ROS editing by section.

2. Prep for two presentations (luncheon speaker, library panel). Presentation went well. Draft for panel sent to other participants with 2x presentations this week.
3. Blogging: Posted 6 times this week. Keeping up reasonably with what other bloggers post for ROW80 and WIPpet Weds.

4. Reading/reviewing. Finished Chimeras: A Medical Mystery by E. E. Giorgi Need to review.
Reading Terry Oell's Windswept Danger. Must be in escapist mode. Need to start Jackie Ley, Angels of the Jardin Massey. Also reading and making notes from the very helpful Making the Voyageur World by Carolyn Podruchny. 

6. Marketing: Revamp marketing/research plan for 2015? Not yet, but Russell Blake's article started me thinking. Sent in application to be listed on Book Bub. More about this IF they say yes.
7. Keep decluttering . . . Holding e-mails under 300. Pretty good for me. Time for quilting yet? Yes!

Lots of interest in self-publishing and writing process at this week's lunch presentation. One question amused me. When my mermaid quilt was held up, one of the women asked, "Who made the quilt?" When I answered, I did, she blurted out, "When do you have time?"

Mermaid (Camp 2009)

That's why I love ROW80: Goals, progress, accountability! See what other folks are doing for ROW80 HERE.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Weds ROW80: A WIPpet and a Letter

Still discovering what I learned from participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Because some of my characters are historical personages, I want to accurately reflect who they were, and that requires good research, access to letters, and a flavor of their daily life. So when I discover a new fact (like the death of a child), I can't have the bereaved mother celebrating at New Year's Eve. So much editing to do! But I'm working on the editing and feeling grateful that this last round of ROW80 doesn't end until December 25.

WIPpet snippet: Here's where I share a little scene from Rivers of Stone, my current work in progress.  The math looks like this:  December = 12th month divided by 3 (that's today) = 4 paragraphs.

LOGLINE: Dougal and Colin, hired at the last minute to go on the Fur Brigade Express to Fort Vancouver, have left Cat behind at York Factory to work as a clerk at the trading post. Cat is still disguised as a boy. Months pass with no word. Finally, a mail pouch arrives with a letter for Cat.
Cat sat in the back storeroom and reread Dougal’s letter. He was not returning to York Factory. It was happening all over again. Just like when he wanted to leave Foulksay Island, he didn't want me with him. But I am his wife, her heart cried. He cannot leave me here. She looked down at her dirty pantaloons. Like this?  He left me like this?

She reread a few lines. "'Tis better if you do not come west. You need to find a new life for yourself, God willing, better than what you would have had with me." His signature was smeared. Cat could not tell if it were from his tears or her own. She crumpled the letter and sobbed.

"Are you all right in there?" called Murray. "I could use some help out here."

Cat shook her head and wiped the tears from her face. She did not want to continue breathing. She did not want to talk to anyone, let alone go back to work and pretend all was well. She did not want to continue her masquerade. If she was capable of anything, she wanted to stay in the dark storeroom, surrounded by animal pelts that hung from the rafters. She wanted to hide. "A few more minutes," she said. 

ROW80 Goals for the this week & progress:
1. Make measurable progress on Rivers of Stone. Done: Move scenes over to actual draft.  Done: writing 750 words a day. Not yet: Develop timeline. Write a little on the memoir project. OK, a little.
2. Prep for two presentations (luncheon speaker, library panel). In progress.
3. Blog at least 3x. Post a pic on travel blog x2. Done.
4. Read and review indie writer 1x. Progress? Not yet. Still reading E. E. Giorgi's Chimeras and via interlibrary loan Carolyn Podruchny's Making the Voyageur World.   Fiction up next: Jackie Ley, Angels of the Jardin Massey. Craft book? catching up on Writers' Digest.
5. Participate in other writing communities (ROW80, Wednesday WIPpet) by reading what others have written 5-10x. Done!
6. Revamp marketing/research plan for 2015. Seriously, so not yet.
7. Keep decluttering . . . quilt a little, rescue those 'lost' digital pictures, and resume life post NaNo. My e-mail's number 260 this morning (those buggers reproduce right in the IN BOX).

Check out what others have written for
A Round of Words for 80 Days HERE
and Wednesday WIPpet (a snippet from a work in progress).

Good news: Got two more reviews over at Amazon today for Years of Stone (19th Century Australia). 

"Cathedral Mountain" in Tasmania
by Tatters at Flickr

So, how many times do I revise and edit before a story is 'done'?
Let me count the ways . . . Perhaps I'm in the earliest stage of revising structure, story arc, and overall quality of story (setting, character, action, plot consistency). I estimate about 3-4 months of work at this level. 

Then comes proofreading and beta readers -- and more editing (another 2 months, maybe). Then comes formatting for e-books, and that truly does involve another pass at editing (just one intense month). Sometimes I think I just bash away until the story seems 'done'.

May you have a good week and a great month at the end of the year. If you would like to, please share how you approach editing.

Monday, December 1, 2014

ROW80: The morning after the night before . . .

My eyes are red. I drank way too much coffee. But I woke up this morning celebrating the end of NaNoWriMo, noticing how different the morning felt, full of promise, uncommitted time, and yet with a clear plan of "What's next!" I do think had worlds to do with "finishing" this year. And what a thrill it is to be able to say, yep. Did it. 50,000 words in one month. Now for the editing!!!!
Elephant Talk by Gina (Flickr)
I remember watching that classic black and white film, Zorba the Greek, and being amused when the very proper Englishman visiting Greece for the first time asks Anthony Quinn, playing Zorba, "Are you married?" 

Zorba replies: "Am I not a man? And is not a man stupid? I’m a man. So I married. Wife, children, house, everything. The full catastrophe."

Zorba's response surprised me, made me read the book by Greek writer, Nikos Kazantzakis, and filled me with awe that a writer could turn such an ordinary question into an opportunity for philosophy that challenges us all to live each day as fully as possible. 

Maybe that's why each year, I jump into NaNoWrimo, with all its obsessive craziness. But, I did it! 

Today I'm a day late checking in for ROW80, and I'm probably all over the place for meeting this round's goals which I haven't looked at for over a month, BUT I really liked how Denise Young organized her reporting so I'll try it.

Goals for the coming week:
1. Make measurable progress on Rivers of Stone. Move scenes over to actual draft. Develop timeline.
2. Prep for two presentations (luncheon speaker, library panel).
3. Blog at least 3x. Work on memoir. Post a pic on travel blog x2.
4. Read and review indie writer 1x. Jackie Ley, ANGELS OF THE JARDIN MASSEY. Report on current reading, no matter how escapist. Include at least one writing craft book.
5. Participate in other writing communities (ROW80, Wednesday WIPpet) by reading what others have written 5-10x.
6. Revamp marketing/research plan for 2015. Seriously.
7. Keep decluttering . . . quilt a little, rescue those 'lost' digital pictures, and resume life post NaNo. My e-mail's number 260 this morning (those buggers reproduce right in the IN BOX).

Currently reading Chimeras: A Medical Mystery by E. E. Giorgi and loving every gritty detail of Track's cop life in Los Angeles. The character twist? Track has a throwback, predatory sense of smell. 

And the writing. Giorgi describes a minor character as "her talk was as sharp as a paper cut and as stinging as a double shot of whiskey." I'm reading this on my well-traveled Kindle, page 12 (who else hates that we can't know what 'real' page we're on?). Maybe I'm loving this book because it's well written, amusing, serious, and reminds me of living in LA, as well as just luxuriating in characters that pop off the page and routinely get into trouble. I like dark and gritty. 

This morning feels full of 'what if?' when what I really want to do is jump into editing. Sundays for ROW80 are about thinking ahead to the coming week, and we are at the beginning of a new month. So, to work! And I'm not talking about laundry.

Graphic by Kriss Morton
May your week go well. 

Remember indie writers as you plan to survive the holidays. Good reads for a break. Good reads for a gift.

Take a moment to check in with other writers who are a part of ROW80, A Round of Words with 80 Days, the writing community that has us setting goals, checking in, and sharing our progress. Jump in HERE.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday night latte . . .

A little late and a little latte. 

NaNoWriMo continues to challenge my writing every day . . . but I can report good progress for ROW80 this week -- mostly. One day this week, I did slip under the goal of writing 1,667 words each day. And I haven't met my goals of reading what others have posted, or worked much on marketing, or reviewing works by others, or even blogging. Sigh.

Writing for NaNoWriMo pushes me well beyond what I've ever done before. This week I'm exploring new territory, reading and writing about unexpected advice and research, and practicing with little scene-lets, just straight drafting, rather than drafting and editing at the same time. I'm already looking forward to the end of November to see how this all fits together. I've played with Larry Brooks' Storyfix strategies and learned a bit more about plot twists from Dave King.

Thanksgiving fast approaches. Relatives start to arrive tomorrow. The round of cooking begins in earnest Tuesday. This year, I'm especially thankful to celebrate the arrival of our new grandbaby, who will be three weeks old by Thanksgiving. Life is always more complex and simpler than we realize. So I'll send wishes for a healthy and peaceful Thanksgiving for you all.

Special thankfulness goes to those intrepid and motivating facilitators: Kait Nolan, for A Round of Words in 80 Days, and K. L Schwengel for Wednesday WIPpet (snippets from works in progress).  

May your writing go well, and your heart be full.  

Today's meme is built around an inspirational photo from Allen English (via Flickr) and Louis Lamour.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ROW80 Update: Nano and reality

Most of today I spent helping a friend with dementia prepare to leave her home. Not an easy day. So for the first time this month, I haven't made the quota for writing 1,667 words for Nano. Maybe I will catch up tomorrow. Most likely not.

Available on Amazon
My update for ROW80, is equally brief. Wrote some. Read some. Got two wonderful books in the mail. Sylvia Van Kirk's Many Tender Ties: Women in Fur Trade Society, 1670-1870, which I've already read via interlibrary loan, but now I can spend some time with this nice used copy.  

Kate Sparkes' Bound, the audio book, won in a virtual drawing, also arrived in today's mail. What a thrill. Her cover is fabulous! Why not check out this fantasy/scific read by an indie writer on Amazon? Just about perfect for a break from all those relatives next week.

Weds WIPpet, that snippet from a work in progress, still from my Rivers of Stone, is a little dark today. In today's excerpt of 15 lines (for November , the 11th month, plus 4 for the 4th week), Catriona confronts death in 1840s Upper Manitoba, where winters are far colder (temperature today is a chilly minus 4).

Inside the teepee, Cat sat beside Marie on a bearskin blanket, the smell of tobacco strong. She wasn't sure what to say. Marie's grandmother had walked away in the night, and no one could find her. 

Marie finally sighed. "We didn't have enough food. Sometimes this happens in the winter. The elders go away, so the young can survive."

"We had hungry times back home," said Cat.

"We shouldn't have to go hungry." Marie picked at a brown glass bottle. "Not when our men bring this home. It wasn't like this when I was a child."

"Things change," said Cat. "Not always for the best."

"She taught me how to work beads." Marie pulled out a heavily beaded small bag, the pattern a medley of flowers and birds in rich colors. "She made this one. Keep it to honor her memory."

"I will," said Cat. She held the soft deerskin bag on her lap and traced the design with her fingers. "Teach me, will you?"

"I will teach you, but not today. Not tonight. We wait until spring brings the flowers back, and I will take you into the woods, and when we find her, we will sing her spirit song and remember her. Then I teach you how to make the pattern of your heart."

Metis Bag (University of Oregon)
Read snippets from other writers have posted at Kate Schwengel's blog, My Random Muse.

Encourage other writers from A Round of Words in 80 Days HERE.

May the rest of November go well for you.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

ROW80 and NaNoWriMo: Half Way There!

Lessons learned at the half-way mark of NaNoWriMo: I'm still pinching myself and making word count each day. What works for me is using to jumpstart what I'm thinking about. At the end of the month, I'll pull scenes into the overall draft. If I work directly with my draft, I find myself distracted by editing when what I really want to do is to flesh out the story and my characters -- at the structural level and at the scene level. So, NaNo goals for the coming week:

1. Start first with
2. Post 3x5 cards on my book board to track/organize new scenes.
3. Keep reading and researching as I go.
4. Accept that I don't have to write all 1,667 words in one session but I am committed each day to reach this goal.
5. Try to write a few sessions this week of more than 2,000 words (Thanksgiving is coming!).
6. Keep planning April trip to Portland's Historical Museum, Oregon City and Fort Vancouver.

Row80 update.
--Keep writing 1,650 words a day on Rivers of Stone: Done!
--Blog x3 on writing, travel, ROW80 blogs: OK 3 posts done since last Weds, including a cover reveal and excerpt for science fiction/fantasy writer Melissa Barker-Simpson's The Fifth Watcher, coming out on November 21.
--Keeping current w/reading for ROW80 and Weds WIPpet: Done!
--Continue research for Rivers of Stone: Writing craft (Larry Brooks' Storyfix) and psychology (Maslow's hierarchy) have me reassessing plot structure and character motivation, along with life at the various forts along the fur brigade express trail and 19th Century Oregon City.
--Updated/uploaded proofed version of paperback for Standing Stones on CreateSpace to correct font error. Trying to decide if I should reduce the Kindle price (currently $2.99) for December to build interest in Book 2.
--Decluttering e-mail: Still keeping to my goal of no more than 100 e-mails in my inbox. Keeping my office relatively well organized keeps me trucking right along on other projects. Finished another block for the pueblo quilt (applique) and started a flannel lap warmer quilt from scraps.
--Unresolved: When do I edit Mothers Don't Die and get it out there as a Kindle read? January? Is it possible to edit a book in one month?

Yes, this is a blog hop for that really wonderful online writing community, A Round of Words in 80 Days, led by Kait Nolan. Check out what other ROW80 writers are doing HERE.

Simplified Butterfly block for Pueblo Quilt
NOTE: Technically, in formal appliqué, all should be equally balanced, but I kind of like my little froggy's arms off balance. Should I 'fix' this? Maybe. I've had this exquisite 12-block pattern by Betty Ann Standiferd ("Bountiful Blessings") for about 5 years. Twelve blocks are nearly complete, and I'm just about ready to start what writers would call gutters and what quilters call sashing, those strips between each block that set the overall design. Another goal: Finish this quilt by January! Well, maybe April.  

May your week go well!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Weds ROW80, WIPpet and NaNo Updates: What could go wrong?

Morning. Cold. About 16 degrees out there, but, thankfully, no snow. Just clear and very cold.  Bright sunshine already. It just might be a good day for writing.

NaNoWriMo update. Incredibly, so far, so good. No one in the family knows I'm attempting to write 1,650 words a day . . . hehehe. The words seem to come along in several sessions a day, and if the writing slows, I read some research and jump to another section. One resource that keeps me get those words on paper early is  This online journal that tracks the numbers of words you write. Since it's essentially free-writing, I don't get distracted by editing.

Row80 update.
--Keep writing 1,650 words a day on Rivers of Stone: Done!
--Blog x3 on writing, travel, ROW80 blogs: 2 posts done!
--Keeping current w/reading for ROW80 and Weds WIPpet: Done!
--Continue research for Rivers of Stone: A lot of ground this week, from studying maps of rapids on the Columbia River that are now underwater to Victorian hairstyles, to how the voyageurs cooked and ate while out on the river.  
--Decluttered e-mail (keeping it under 100) and critiqued one writer for NOVELS-L (part of the very helpful online Internet Writing Workshop).

Still to do: Need to send that query to Australian Times. I'm probably sitting on this because of editing BUT that's not going to happen this month.

WIPpet Wednesday:  For November 12, here are 12 paragraphs, fresh from NaNo drafts. Logline: Catriona, disguised as a boy and working as artist Paul Kane's assistant, finally arrives at Fort Vancouver, hoping to reunite with her husband. It's November 1846, and Cat finds Dougal working at a nearby trading post.  This may not mean the story is over, for Dougal is a changed man, and Cat has also changed.

Dougal was a bit formal, moving awkwardly as he started a fire to take the cold out of the room, put bread on the table, and prepared tea.
Cat sat on a willow bark chair and watched him. "So you're working here now?"
"Aye. 'Tis a good job. It kept me close to the fort while I waited for you." He didn't look at Cat.
"Enough," said Cat. "Come sit. We need to talk."
Dougal stumped over to the table and sat next to her. Finally, he raised his head and stared, his eyes narrowed and fierce. "I didn't think I'd ever see you again."
"Tell me about your leg."
"There's nothing to tell. My feet froze up bad, that's all. They had to take some toes off an' a bit more. I was lucky to live through it. Losing my toes wasn't the worst of the trip from York Factory." His huge hands moved his tea cup. "Want some tea?"
Cat nodded.
"I couldn't find you there at York Factory. The only thing I could think to do was to come west again and hope you'd make it somehow to Fort Vancouver. I guess I thought I'd never see you again. Nothing helped. Not rum. Not the music. So I came west again." He shrugged and looked at his feet. "You know that part of the trail where you're walking through the snow, and you can't see, you can't feel anything, and you haven't eaten in a long while, and you know there's nothing at the end of the day?"
"Yes, we hit bad snow just past Jasper House. I remember it well."
"This screaming blizzard came in, and we had to hunker down in snow huts to keep warm. Three days we spent, with nothing to eat but our moccasins." Dougal shuddered. "And then the sun came out, and we went on. Met up with the main group, and that's all. I came here. Got the job at the store." He raised his head slowly. "It's hard for me to believe now you're sitting there, right there."

Paul Kane, "Beacon Rock, Columbia River"
from Lewis and Clark Today

OK time to get back to work on NaNoWriMo! A heartfelt thanks to ROW80 organizer Kait Nolan and sponsors. See what other ROW80 writers have done this week HERE

With more thanks to Kate Schwengel at WIPpet Weds. Check out those Weds snippets from works in progress HERE.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday check-in: NaNo, Cold weather, and progress!

Never thought I'd say this, but so far, for the first time ever since I started doing NaNoWriMo, I'm kicking butt and writing 1,650 words a day! 

Don't know how long this will last or even if it will last through the month, but just being able to write again is such a boost to my confidence in really writing something every day.

So here's my vote to writing challenges that challenge us to strive beyond our capacity: Yes!

That includes participating in ROW80 because this twice weekly check-in, even when I don't quite make the check-in every week or work at a very slow pace, the process of checking in keeps me focused on goals and making progress.

ROW80 Sunday check-in (goals and progress): 
--Keep writing 1,650 words a day on Rivers of Stone: Done!
--Blog x3 on writing, travel, ROW80 blogs:  2 posts done!
--Keeping current w/reading for ROW80 and Weds WIPpet: Good progress here; I'm keeping up w/assigned reading, but want to do more. Just barely published that snippet for WIPpet last Weds -- yanked right out of NaNo draft.
--Continue research for Rivers of Stone: Currently working on voyageurs, and women at Fort Vancouver in 1840s.
Still to do:
--Critique/review at least 2 other writers.
--Still need to send query to Australian Times.

Other highlights: Really enjoyed talking with Spokane Authors on Thursday about writing contests. Questions after were particularly interesting as one writer challenged me to define how I separate historical fact from historical fiction. Maybe grist for a post? 

In an effort to get Years of Stone more visibility in Australia, I wrote to an esteemed researcher in Tasmania -- who read both of my books and sent very useful comments back to clarify certain historical facts from an Australian point of view. What a gift! I especially appreciated her comment that my novel paints a realistic picture of life in Van Diemen's Land at this time. 

Now, back to real life. That nasty cold is nearly gone. I made meatball soup to die for, so I don't have to cook for a day or two, plus the old apartment smells really grand. That big old storm in the North Pacific will be pushing cold air down through Spokane next week, so thoughts of fall are fast disappearing. It's time to dig out those sweaters.

Finch Arboretum, Spokane (Camp 2014)
ROW80 writers: May your writing go well as you cherish each day!

To check in with other ROW80 writers, go HERE.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

ROW80 Check-in: NaNo Next!

No beating around the bush. This check-in just says my cold is slightly better, the drafting is kicking right along, and yesterday afternoon, little Ruthie was born.

ROW80 Weds check-in: Not much diversity to report since Sunday. So far, I'm drafting an average of 1,650 words a day on Rivers of Stone. What I like best is that I can't afford to worry about the perfect phrasing (micro) or the plot (macro). I'll probably have a mess by the end of November, but I'll know more about the story, and that's a good end goal for me. I feel closer to the characters and closer to the setting and storyline. Normally, I write between 250 and 500 words a day, but for the last month have not been writing much at all. NaNoWriMo is helping me break out of that. It's fun. So far.

This WEDS WIPpet snippet picks up Cat's journey west as she travels disguised as a boy, working as artist Paul Kane's assistant. It's November 1846, and a small brigade is crossing the Rockies. Here are 6 paragraphs for November 5 (November = 1 + 5):

Cat slung her pack on her back and crossed the compound to the cookhouse for something hot before she met Kane. What a commotion out in the staging area. Cat quickly counted over fifty horses in the turmoil as Indians, soldiers, and HBC servants loaded provisions and furs on their backs. Someone grabbed her arm.

“Careful there,” said Mary Lane. She pulled Cat back up on the verandah.

“Shouldn’t I help somewhere?” said Cat.

“Safest place is right here. We’ll have plenty to do later.”

"Who would think we would need this many horses?" said Cat.

Kane strolled out on the verandah. "That's because there's nothing between here and Jasper House," said Kane. "We either carry our food or we go hungry. Least that's what I've been told." He measured Cat with his eyes. "Not that you can afford to go without. Sure you don't want to stay behind and come out with the spring brigade when snow's not looming at us like a hungry wolf?"

Check out what other ROW80 participants are doing HERE. Read other 'snippets' from works-in-progress HERE. May you have a joyous week.

Leda meets her baby sister, Ruthie, yesterday, November 4. 

We wore face masks because of those nasty colds, but we got to share this moment with family.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sunday night ROW80 Check-in: It's NaNo Time!

The bell rang at midnight, October 31st, and I'm off and running, another participant in that annual madness known as NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.

I've never aspired to write 50,000 words in just one month (that's 1,667 words a day). But the challenge somehow jump-starts that rough draft I've been fighting with. After all, I can't be worrying about plot holes or 'perfect' wording if I'm drafting as fast as I can.

So update for ROW80:

Completed last week
Write 1,000 words on Rivers of Stone (actually wrote 3K).
Finally set up Mail Chimp for quarterly newsletter.
Blog x3 (combo of travel, writing, and ROW80 blogs).
Read 30 pages in Letitia Hargrave's Letters.
Prep for book club visit this Thursday for Years of Stone.
Finish reading Letters from Brackham Wood for book club.
Read other folks for ROW80.
De-clutter e-mail (my inbox is now under 100).

Not completed this week but still on the hit list: 
Participate in WIPpet on Weds.
Critique x1 for Novels-L or GoodReads. 
Send query to Australian Times for indie book article.
and keep plugging away as sponsor for ROW80.
For the coming week:
Write every day for NaNoWriMo on Rivers of Stone.
Cherish each day! 

On other news: The baby isn't here yet, I've got the beginnings of a dreadful cold, and my urge to cook has gone south for the winter. If you'd like to read my article, "Indie Writers and MailChimp?" and/or subscribe to my quarterly newsletter, go HERE

If you like to let me know your experiences in setting up or sending your writing newsletter, please comment or e-mail me.

If you'd like to be friends on NaNoWriMo, my handle is Bluebethley. May it be a good week!

Frances Anne Hopkins "Voyageurs at Dawn" from Wiki

Sunday, October 26, 2014

ROW80: Start Where You Are . . .

The last month I've been struggling with the writing. Fits and starts. Revamps. Edits. But with today's check-in for ROW80, I feel optimistic. I almost accept that life will not return to a harmonious and simple schedule. 

That new baby granddaughter will arrive maybe this week. Writing will come second. DH is finally recovered from his surgery. That means we can start to do activities together once again. New schedule! Writing will come second.

Even with 43,000 words on my next book, the ending doesn't ring true for my characters.

Background: View from Steptoe Butte,
eastern Washington State (Camp 2014)
But I saw something online, can't even remember where, maybe Facebook, maybe Twitter. Can't find the source, just a simple statement:  "There will never be a perfect time. Just start where you are." 

Finally, that jolted me into realizing that I won't make forward progress, not even during NaNoWriMo, until I get organized and write something every day. So here are my ROW80 goals for the coming week:

Write 1,000 words on Rivers of Stone.
Blog x3 (combo of travel, writing, and ROW80 blogs).
Critique x1 for Novels-L or GoodReads.
Read 30 pages in Letitia Hargrave's Letters.
Send query to Australian Times for indie book article.
Prep for book club visit thisThursday for Years of Stone.
Finish reading Letters from Brackham Wood for book club.
Participate in WIPpet on Weds and keep plugging away as sponsor for ROW80.
Cherish each day and continue de-cluttering (Note: my inbox is now under 300, down from 3,000).

WIPpet Wednesday: Here's a snippet LATE (should have been on Wednesday) of 26 lines (for October 26) from Rivers of Stone. Cat, still disguised as a boy, is traveling with artist Paul Kane as an assistant, to Fort Vancouver. It's late summer 1842, and they're somewhere west of the plains.
"Dinna let me have any more of this." Kane shoved a deerskin bag at Cat. "'Tis poisoning me."

Cat put her hand on Kane's forehead. It felt cold and clammy to her touch. "Look at me."

Kane opened his eyes and stared at Cat. His pupils were like pinpoints.

"What have you taken?"

"Don't wanna talk. Here.” He thrust the bottle at her. “Just go. Don't come back 'till morning." Kane’s head fell back on his bedroll, and he slept.

Cat sat on the ground, just outside the tent as dusk fell, unsure what to do or where to go. Ever since they had left the trading post, he had been angry one moment and laughing aloud the next, or nodding off while riding his pony until Cat was afraid he'd fall off.

She pulled the small bottle out of the bag, twisted the top off the vial, and dipped her finger in. Bitter, bitter taste. "What is this?"

Pierre loomed out of the darkness. "That’s laudanum. Ye take it for pain or to ease the dysenterry. Got a bitter taste. That's why we mix it with the rum, no? He don't want it no more? I'll take it off your hands fer a dollar."

Paul Kane: Lake Huron 1848 (Wikipedia)
Cheer on other writers participating in WIPpet Wednesday HERE, with thanks to Kate Schwengel for encouraging us all.

Check in on other ROW80 writers HERE.

And may your writing go well!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

ROW80: Sunday night quarter-backing

Tony Romo, quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, said in this afternoon's interview: "You win the game, you go out and start over. You lose the game, you start over." You make a commitment, and you go to work.

Nice lead-in for this week's ROW80 check-in. Last week, the highlights were discovering my book, Standing Stones, is now on Overdrive for the Spokane County Public Library! Also helped set up the quilt show and worked a few hours over the weekend for this 3-day extravaganza. Nearly finished with baby quilt #1 with another to wrap up (forgive the pun).

Here are my goals for Oct 20-27: 

--Write 5 out of 7 days, minimum of 250 words/day.
--Write a poem a day for OctPoWriMo and post on writing blog x2 (guest post from science fiction writer Ruth Nestvold scheduled for October 24).
--Read 40 pages of research related to Rivers of Stone
--Review other indie writers x2.  
--Participate in online and F2F writers' groups, including WIPpet Wednesday, UBC, Novels_L and ROW80 (keep up with sponsor readings).

--Read inspirational posts and set 2 marketing goals for this week. 
--Prep for book club next week.

And in other realms: Keep up with real life (laundry, house cleaning, cooking, exercising, decluttering, and a little sewing).

May your life be full of all good things in harmony, and the coming week a good one. 

This is my favorite picture this week of fall leaves I took at our local arboretum; it seems to invite reflection.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ROW80 Weds Check-in: Delete, delete!

I spent most of today helping a friend who has early stage dementia. Insurance forms, doctor visits, flu shot. Two meals. Her stories came around again and again, but I didn't have the heart to tell her I had heard that story already five times. She lives alone. No husband. No pets. No kids. No relatives. But we made progress. The social worker comes Monday. She had her flu shot. She has been referred to a neurologist. I will try to be a good friend, but we are looking at a day when she cannot live independently.

So tonight, as I sit down to catch up on today's check-in for ROW80, I'm feeling just a tad blocked. This photo by Drew Coffman says it well.

Writer's Block I
Writers' Block I (Drew Coffman, Flickr)

Weds ROW80 check-in:

Writing/Critiquing/Research: Actually wrote 2x this week (very slow progress). Critiqued one writer's opening chapter and finished a book for an "honest" review. Writing a poem a day on my travel blog for October (not exactly 100%, but persevering); each poem was inspired by experiences and/or/pictures from travels in France. 

Started reading Letitia Hargrave's Letters (1840s) on life in Upper Manitoba. Fascinating reading from an upper class woman with ascerbic observations of those around her.

Community/Other: Missed my weekly writing group. Sigh. Holding steady with sponsorship commitment to ROW80 by reading other posts. 

Decluttered much of my e-mail, now down to an almost manageable 500 to read rather than a little over 3,000. How did I do this? By rigorously reviewing those writing newsletters that I didn't read -- and unsubscribing. Plus merrily deleting all the way back to April. Is there such a thing as an e-mail hoarder?

Went to the movies with my sweetie for the first time since January (Walking the Camino), a documentary about a 500 mile pilgrimage to Santiago, Spain. Yes, I'd love to go, but not sure if my knees would be up to such a hike. The doc gave hubby thumbs up with a 100% recovery from his back surgery. Yippee! 

Snippet for Weds WIPpet: Here are 25 lines from this week's writing for Rivers of Stone (October = 10th month + the 15th day). Context: Poor Cat, still disguised as a boy, is stuck alone at York Factory in Hudson's Bay. It's winter, 1842, and Dougal will not return until spring. 

     Catriona threw up, her dinner of venison and fish spewing onto the snow. Dizzy, trembling, and wondering if she could ever eat again, she leaned against the wall of the mess hall and stared at the Clerk's house and the Chief Factor's house across the compound. How long had Dougal been gone? Two months? And no word. No letters, no messages.
     "Took a bit too much fish, eh, Cat?" McKenzie loomed next to her. Too close.
     Cat wiped her mouth and wished the sour taste would go away. She shook her head. "Creeping crud of some kind. Best stay away."
     "Go on back to the Clerks’ House and report to the doc if it don't clear up by tomorrow," said McKenzie. "Yer me best clerk."
     Catriona smiled weakly. "Thanks."
     She started across the compound and thought of her bunk. If I can make it, she thought. Half way there, she crumpled in the snow.
     "Bring him in here," called Mrs. Hargrave from her porch. 
     Cat was vaguely aware she had fainted and was now being carried somewhere warm.
     "Put him in here, next to the stove. I'll take care of him." The noise abated, and Cat became aware of a warm cloth cleaning her face.
     Cat swallowed, her mouth dry. I've got to get out of here. She struggled to sit up.
     "Easy now. Feeling better?" Mrs. Hargrave leaned back on the stool next to the cot. "Just relax. You'll be fine. Most likely you ate something a little tainted, though 'tis so cold, I don't know how anything could spoil."

May you have a good week. Breathe! Write! Cherish the moment!

Check out updates from other ROW80 writers HERE and see what other writers have posted for Wednesday snippets from current works in progress HERE (Kate Schwengel's WIPpet Wednesday).

Sunday, October 12, 2014

New Row80 Round About!

I'm very happy to report that I'm finally writing, after nearly 6 weeks of not writing very much at all. Perhaps the very process of setting goals and trying to be accountable pushes me back into the writing, even if the writing is a bit ahead of the research.

This week's preoccupations have been: When does the ice pack on Hudson's Bay form, how did people of the 19th Century survive the harsh winters, where did they find food, and when did the ice blessedly melt? Were polar bears a problem? How much did voyageurs drink? How strict were the officials of the Hudson's Bay Company? Luckily, I have good research, but this feeds the context of the story, not the actual story (if that makes sense). Still, as I try to sift through what is most relevant and stay true to my characters, the forward progress remains slow.

This week's progress:

  • Write 250 words a day on Rivers of Stone. 2 out of 4 days, and I'm celebrating!!!!
  • Finish that baby quilt. Sewing the bindings on now. Photo will follow. Most likely this is the last quilt I will try to quilt myself on my rather ordinary sewing machine. If you are a quilter, you know that flannel doesn't feed very smoothly.
  • Write 2 critiques and 2 reviews this week. 1 critique complete and started reading for the book review. This goal may be too ambitious, especially as I started reading the wrong book and wondered how on earth I could write a review (I follow the Thumper School of Reviewing).
  • Blog 5 times on writing (+1), travel (+4), and ROW80 (+2). Done! I'm writing a poem a day for OctPoWriMo on the travel blog and having fun exploring travels past.
  • Read at least ONE research book for Rivers of Stone by Weds. Picked it out. Got started.
  • Declutter e-mail. OK, looks like I've cleared out about 800 e-mails so far, with gazillion to go.
As fall begins in earnest, may your own week go well, your goals be met, and all your words sing!

Manito Park in the Fall (Camp 2013)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

First check-in for ROW80: Very late!

Life is settling down to whatever 'normal' is . . . though this last round of ROW80 promises to be just as busy. Hubby is doing very well since back surgery, and our daughter's new baby is slated to arrive at the end of October. She just might decide to arrive a little early! 

So my goals will be simple and subject to change, though the list remains long and seems to grow constantly.

Round 4 Goals (October 6 through December 25).

  • Write something every day for Rivers of Stone
  • Blog 3-4 times each week. 
  • Stay connected to writing communities, online and off. 
  • READ research, craft, and review writers I like. 
  • Continue work on marketing with focus on book clubs. 
  • Prepare upcoming presentations x3.
  • Commit to de-cluttering before end of year. 
  • Learn to say “no” as easily as I say “yes”.
  • Cherish each day.
And my progress so far? Slower than usual, but I hope to persevere.

Colobus Monkey, Jonzani National Preserve, Tanzania (Camp 2012)
So, goals for this week:

  • Finish that baby quilt!
  • Write 250 words a day on Rivers of Stone.
  • Crit x 2 and write reviews x2 (Allie Cresswell, Tiger in a Cage).
  • Blog 5 times on writing/travel/ROW80 blogs.
  • Read at least 1 research book by Weds.
  • De-clutter e-mail (currently nearing 3,000 e-mails; I hate to delete!).
May your own writing go well.