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