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.