Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Weds ROW80 and sweet WIPpet . . .

I'm not setting any goals for Sunday at all. We have just two days left here in Galveston and fly home on Saturday. Give me a pass, please! We're dragging our visiting friends from Philadelphia to all our favorite places, so today a trip to Moody Mansion, lunch at Rudy and Paco's (unforgettable shrimp empanadas with cilantro cream), the sun finally came out, so we went swimming at 54 degrees. As my Swedish mother would say, "Ooofta!" Time for writing? Yes, early, early in the morning.

Today is Weds, that's WIPpet day, a snippet from current writing based on the date of February 25, encouraged by Kate Schwengel. So 2 - 2 = 0 + 5 = 5 paragraphs from Rivers of Stone, historical fiction set in Canada's Upper Manitoba, 1840s, as Catriona McDonnell, disguised as a boy, follows her husband into service with the Hudson Bay Company. In this excerpt, Cat starts work at the Trading Post at York Factory.

“Come along now," called Murray. "Cat's yer name?"
Cat nodded. Her stomach felt uncomfortably full after breakfast. She pushed a bit of bread in her pocket. No telling when she might eat again.
"Funny name, that. Back in Edinburgh, Cat is fer prostitute." He looked at her. "Yer lookin’ comely enuf to be a girl. Better keep close to yer brothers, especially on Saturdays. Kin you read and write? Do sums?" Without waiting for a response, Murray continued. "Expect ye can. One of the reasons we hire Orkneymen."
"My name, 'tis a nickname," Cat interjected.
"Well, it’s too late now. Ye'll be known as Cat.” Murray hurried along the parade ground. “This be our busiest time until the ship leaves. We got to repack every one of those crates they’re unloading from the ship. After they’ve been accounted for, that is.” 
Fur trading at Hudson's Bay Company Post (Wikipedia)
Wednesday's check-in for ROW80: Special thanks go to Cait Nolan who with ROW80, does inspire us to set goals and persevere, despite flu and birthdays! Since Sunday, I have had two good writing sessions and posted to the Writing blog (finally), "Wednesday Morning Chuckle: Are You a Princess Author?"
Internet is rather intermittent here, so I've fallen behind in reading posts by others AND in doing crits for NOVELS-L. Received some amazing crits on Chapter 4 of Rivers of Stone. Sometimes it takes me a few days to absorb sharply critical comments, but even gentle comments keep me focused on revising so that my writing reads with more logical consistency (if you can say that), deeper characterization, and tighter story-telling (always hopefully). 

Let us all face down our challenges and persevere! 

Read what other folks have written for Wednesdays' WIPpet HERE and how ROW80 writers have done since Sunday HERE.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

ROW80 Sunday night check-in.

We have just five days left in this warm, Gulfside town. Today was nearly perfect down by the seawall, waves big enough to tempt surfers, Sunday afternoon strollers, and the temp near 78. I relish in these details for when we go north again, March forecasts predict snow. It's been a slow few days since Wednesday's ROW80 check-in.

WRITING. Steady and slow. I'm revising Chapter 4, appreciating again the helpful and pointed critiques from folks in NOVELS-L at the The Internet Writing Workshop. Most useful are those comments that take me a few days to absorb. So even if I'd like to improve my writing productivity, I'd rather go slowly and tighten. 

The latest challenge is finding ways to describe characters (even minor ones) so they come alive to the reader with deft description. Elizabeth Lyon, in her Manuscript Makeover, suggests 'riff writing.' You find a paragraph from a writer you admire, type it out word for word and then write your own paragraph in the same style. So far, interesting stuff, surprising stuff.

OTHER. Not so much though I did critique two more writers this week, posted to my travel blog, and am keeping current with other bloggers. My to-do list is still long, but I am feeling lazy! Company arrives tomorrow, then we go home on Saturday. Will I get any writing done? Not sure.

Galveston beach near Pleasure Pier (Feb 2015)
Meanwhile, may your own writing go well. Read what other ROW80 writers have done this week HERE. Be sure to wish Cait Nolan a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Row80 Weds Zero Dark 6 am

This morning in Galveston, the sky turns from black to a pearly pink very quickly, the ocean, flat, calm and deep blue. So I do write dark stuff. I wish I didn't sometimes, for my characters get into such pickles. And have few resources. In another week and a half, we will return north and face winter. I will miss the palm trees.

Today's WIPpet Wednesday, and I've made a commitment to participate in Kate Schwengel's generous community of writers who share snippets of their work-in-progress, based on the date. February 18 = convoluted math for me. Shorter would be division, so 18/2 = 9 sentences.

This snippet is from Rivers of Stone. Catriona, disguised as a boy, has traveled from Scotland with her husband, Dougal, to work for the Hudson's Bay Company. It's a cold August, 1842.

“Push off,” cried one of the sailors. “We’re ashore tonight.” The men laughed and shoved the boat away from the Prince Rupert.  Cat took great breaths of air, thrilled to be smelling fish and birds and something different, something that smelled of the land.
As they drew closer to shore, a polar bear sat in shallow waters at the mouth of the Hayes River, catching fish and swallowing them whole. “There’s fresh meat for us,” one of the sailors said. The bear watched them pass, its giant jaws moving. Cat marveled at its size.
The boat turned into the Hayes River. One of the men shouted, and they all saw a black roof, then a sprawling, two-story white building, and the finger of a long dock reaching out to them.
David Hogg, Polar Bears Fishing (Flickr
ROW80 Update since Sunday.
--Revise Section 02 on Rivers of Stone. First read through of 13 chapters done. Revise Chap 3 (Sec 01) based on crits from NOVELS-L 5/9 done.
--Read Elizabeth Lyon's Manuscript Makeover. Half-way through Chap 5 on story structure. Dense and thought-provoking. I think I'll be on Chapter 5 for awhile.

--Blog 3x week. 2/3 this week so far. Read others' posts x6 weekly. 4/6 so far. Participate in WIPpet Weds weekly. That's today. Done.
--Crit drafts by other writers 1x weekly. 1/1 done.

--Social media: Twitter x3.

--Draft marketing plan w/action steps by month. In progress.
--Evaluate possible ads: Collected background on 3 out of 5. 

--New goal: Read one book/article on marketing.

Once while camping in British Columbia, we watched brown bears sit in the middle of a river, catching and eating salmon. They'd simply break the fish in half, rip out the fish eggs, and toss the broken bodies of the fish back into the river. They ignored the tourists well back on the banks, until someone brought a dog. That's when we left.

May doubt not be your companion this week -- and your reading and writing week go well.

Check out what other ROW80 writers are up to HERE and read other WIPpets HERE.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

ROW80 Sunday night with Seagulls

I took inspiration this week from ROW80 writer, Denise Young, who posts an admirably concise list of goals (and steady progress) for her ROW80 twice-weekly check-in.

As I crunched my goals into new categories, I discovered why I sometimes feel like I'm not making 'good' progress: I have too many goals. And I want to keep them all! Even if I chunk down to three main categories, the list of supporting goals just keeps growing.

I need to simplify. If I strategize by dividing all those goals into PRIMARY and SECONDARY goals, something amazing happened. What is most important to me floated right to the top. So here, with thanks again to Denise, are my goals for this first round of 2015 with this week's progress. Maybe next week, my check-in will be even shorter!

--Revise Section 01 on Rivers of Stone. Done. Beginning Section 02.
--Read Elizabeth Lyon's Manuscript Makeover. Finished Chap 4.
--Blog 3x week. 2/3 this week. Read others' posts x6 weekly. 12/6 this week. Participate in WIPpet Weds weekly. Done.
--Crit drafts by other writers 1x weekly. 3/1 done.
--Draft marketing plan w/action steps by month. Done.
--Evaluate possible ads: Collected background on 2 out of 5. 

Secondary goals are not invisible, but for this round, they will remain 'maybe' goals -- as in, maybe I'll work on these. How about you? Do you find how you set goals and track your progress changing?

And maybe for these last two weeks in Galveston (with slower internet), I will just sit out on the patio to watch these amazing black-headed seagulls circle overhead, their calls a raucous reminder of life near the sea. 

My caption: "Hey, George, you started revising your novel yet?"
George replies, "Yep."

Blackheaded Gulls by Jan Stefka (Flickr)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

ROw80 check-in: Wednesday?

Wednesday just comes around far too quickly for this twice weekly ROW80 check-in, and today marks WIPpet Wednesday. 

FOR WIPpet WEDS: Thanks to the encouragement of Kate Schwengel, participants post a snippet of their work in progress, somehow related to the date. For me, February 11 = 2 + 1 + 1 = 4 paragraphs from Rivers of Stone. Here, French-Canadian voyageurs prepare to travel in canoes for the long trek from Hudson's Bay to Fort Vancouver. It's late August, 1842.

Murray’s pen paused. “When are you leaving?”
“We’d leave tonight if we could.” Fronteneau paced in front of the counter as if he couldn’t bear being inside. “By God, I don’t want us caught out when the cold comes. ‘Twill be bad eno’ as it is, so late my men will drop like wasps at the first frost.”
“I’m telling Hargrave yer leaving in the morning. Can you do it?”
“Aye, and don’t tell him different.” Fronteneau left, slamming the heavy door of the Trading Post behind him.
Now for ROW80's mid-week check-in (with hopes Cait Nolan will soon recover from the flu):

1. WRITING/READING. Still revising away a minimum of an hour a day on Rivers of Stone, now up to Chapter 14. Elizabeth Lyon's Manuscript Makeover is a very useful resource. I'm tightening the writing and adding (gently) more sense-based imagery. I'm reading Ken Follett's Fall of Giants and appreciating again the tension created by plot-driven writing. By SUNDAY: Complete 3 more chapters of ROS, 3 more chapters in Lyon.

2. COMMUNITY. Completed two reviews (one for NOVELS-L and another for a my F2F group back home). Keeping current with ROW80 reading, By SUNDAY: Finish one chapter review and begin reading novel by indie writer. Read one writing craft mag.

3.  MARKETING. Finally! Began drafting 2015 marketing plan with due dates by month. Researching sites for guest blogs and ads.

Just as the sun ended the day, I saw a pelican drop into the sea with a splash. I wasn't close enough to see if he caught his fish, but it was enough. May your writing go well!

Check out what other WIPpet writers are doing HERE and encourage other ROW80 writers HERE.

Brown Pelican (by NixBC on Flickr)

Sunday, February 8, 2015

ROW80 Sunny Sunday check-in

They call us winter Texans here in Galveston, those folks who come south to get out of the snow zone, and we're settling in quite nicely into our quiet, tiny condo. 

I can't believe I'm reporting this, but today we swam in the heated swimming pool, sunny skies overhead, about 70 degrees. We walked along the beach, watched kids playing in the waves and flying kites, families gathered around folding chairs, firing up the b-b-ques. How has the week gone since Weds?

1. WRITING/READING. Meeting that goal of one hour of revision every day on Rivers of Stone. Trucking right along and now up to Chapter 10. Finished Cowie and read 2 chapters in Elizabeth Lyon's Manuscript Makeover. Just started reading Ken Follett's Fall of Giants. What a great read. By WEDS: 3 more chapters down on ROS and at least 3 chapters in Lyon.

2. COMMUNITY. Yes! Completed one review for NOVELS-L and another for a writer from my F2F group back home (with one more to go). Keeping current with ROW80 reading too, learning as I go. By WEDS: Finish two chapter reviews for indie writers. Get started on novel review for indie writer. Read one writing craft mag.

3. OTHER. Not sure what my other goals are for the coming week. We may hike out to a bird preserve. We've seen cormorants, stilts, black capped sea gulls -- but no pelicans, yet! I did make two colorful coasters by hand. The local quilt shop closed after Hurricane Ike, so no new fabric for me, but I did find a Goodwill nearby, so if I get stuck, I may start a 'found' applique project. 

After attending two Mardi Gras parades right on the Seawall yesterday (and collecting amazing beads), we're happy to have quiet time again.

Check out what other ROW80 writers are doing HERE. Why not join the fun?

Galveston Seawall across the street from our condo (Feb 2015)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

ROW80 Weds morn in Galveston

We're still settling into our tiny condo in Galveston (think studio with a bedroom).Yesterday was a stay-at-home, rainy, somewhat cold day, wherein I made friends with the kitchen (truly a one-butt kitchen), decided the oven was decoration, and relearned how to make toast in a frying pan (delicious!).

1. WRITING. Revised Chapters 3-4 in Rivers of Stone. On track with reading Cowie and read The Writer magazine (craft). By SUNDAY: Revise minimum of 4 chapters in ROS and read 2 chapters in Cowie and Elizabeth Lyon's Manuscript Makeover. 

Discovered that for the most part the class barriers between those who were to become the 'gentlemen' of Hudson's Bay (the apprentices) and those who traveled in steerage pretty much continued after they landed, even to work assignments, the food they ate, and where they slept. 

At this point, mid 19th Century, family connections and the type of work you did determined what kind of future you had. So people in their letters talked about who was related to whom, who married whom, and how they fit into the pecking order. And when they met a stranger, maybe this litany of relationships was how that stranger became the cousin of a friend and someone who was 'family.' Much more gossip than I anticipated.

2. COMMUNITY/MARKETING: Generally good progress here. Stay current with ROW80 and NOVELS-L. Keep e-mails under 300. Will review 2 indie writers each month. Decided not to worry about marketing this month as the BookBub promotion plays out.

What's next? Tracking the time spent (and not number of words) on revising seems to have upped my productivity. My uber-goal to finish Section 1 (15 chapters) this round.

Had fun starting my applique project, watched The Big Burn and Person of Interest last night. Haven't even gotten the camera out yet, but each day seems simpler. Staying in a completely different place seems to reaffirm what's essential about home -- family, friends, and, OK, a toaster! Today, I plan a walk along the beach between rainy periods and after a morning of writing.

Check in with what other ROW80 writers are doing HERE and wish us all well.
One of my favorite mermaids,
found long ago on E-bay

Monday, February 2, 2015

ROW80 Monday morning in Galveston . . .

Outside, 'tis sunny, a strong sea breeze in the palm trees, and a crowd of seagulls huddle on the cold beach across the street from our tiny, one-bedroom apartment. We made it to Galveston, flew yesterday via Southwest and choppy reception of the Super Bowl aboard the plane, to arrive at our new home for the next month. Half a bagel from yesterday, internet access and hot coffee mean I'm almost ready to start writing.

But first the late check-in. In the final flurry to pack and clean house for those guests who will visit in our absence, I can't remember what I did. Sorry. So instead, I'll climb back on to say what's coming up by Wednesday.

1. WRITING. Continue revising (Chapter 3-4) and reading research for Rivers of Stone. Read at least one chapter in Elizabeth Lyon's Manuscript Makeover and one chapter in Cowie's The Company of Adventurers. Discovered that the 'tween decks where Cat and Dougal sleep on the ship had a height of 5' which meant that not everyone could stand upright.

2. COMMUNITY: Catch up on ROW80 and NOVELS-L. Keep e-mails under 300. And, as Cate Morgan reminds me, continue to review at least 2 indie writers each month.

3. MARKETING. No goals at all here. Still tracking results of BookBub and will report later. If marketing promotes visibility, and visibility brings new readers, then this will have been well beyond any anticipation. I'm thrilled at each e-mail from someone who's connected to my writing.

Ahead of us all, the start of a new week and the challenge of writing. Check in with what other ROW80 writers are doing HERE and wish us all well.

Seals sleeping at sunset (Camp 2013)