Sunday, February 28, 2016

ROW80 Sunday: Headed for Home

Today we've been packing after a month away from home. Tomorrow we leave at 6 am for the airport in San Antonio, two and a half hours away. By dinner, we'll be home, back to 50 degree weather, but the beginning of spring, first daffodils, first tulips. So my check-in this Sunday is short and sweet.

ROW80 Goals for Feb 29-March 6: 

1. Edit Rivers of Stone. Steadily working on Section 04, 7 out of  7 days for this week. What is especially pleasing is that each day I've made real progress, chapter by chapter, scene by scene. Sometimes the revisions are fueled by research, sometimes I end up deleting a scene that no longer fits my understanding of the characters. Rather like finding my way in a maze, the story slowly tightens and surprises await for my characters and me. 

For the coming week, my writing goals will be to write 5 out of 7 days, allowing for a travel day and recovery time. And that's it . . . except:

2. Attend Thursday's Spokane Authors group.
3. Write just one indie review.
4. Read & comment on what others have posted for ROW80.
5. Do one action step related to marketing.
6. Draft article for The Country Register. 

Today's question: Our local authors' group will talk this week about whether indie authors need an agent. As a self-published author, I feel intensely independent, but Michelle Brower of Folio Literary Management recently said in an article: "If a book has 250 reviews with 4 and 5 stars, and 70,000 in sales, this author has a lot of promise." This is so far from my goals, I can't even begin to imagine how an agent could be helpful. Maybe we need to start with a definition of what an indie author is . . . What's your take?

Meanwhile may your week ahead bring you good words, insights, and celebrations!

Curlew seeking safe haven
on Mustang Island (February 2016)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

ROW80 Weds Check-in: Arcs and More

ROW80 Goals for the week with update. 
Blue = Done. Purple = Pending. Red = not started . . . yet.

1. Edit Rivers of Stone. Steadily working on Section 04, 3 out of 3 days so far.  Key challenge remains getting scenes in proper sequence, editing out inaccuracies, writing in deep pov. Some 32K words and 60 scenes in this section.  I'm about 50% through with revisions. Today researched how to repair canoes with pitch from spruce trees. I wish I could tell how long these revisions would take. Best guess is maybe this section will be 'finished' by March 15.

2. Other Writing: Wrote 500 words on character arcs for ROS. Lots of ideas for memoir flitting by. Otherwise, no other blog posts, no real progress.

3. Reading: Almost finished reading two books: Gabriel Stone's Chorus of Swans, science fiction, and 30 Pieces of Silver, a retelling of the role of Judas in the style of Dan Brown, by Carolyn McCray. Goal: Write a review for both. Read interesting materials from K, M. Weiland on How to Write Character Arcs which is helpful in developing deeper pov for my characters. Now also working up synopsis linked to character arc to ensure each section meshes with the next.

4. Marketing:  Before Sunday: Complete two marketing steps. Sorry. No progress here and no plan.

5. Poetry: Read Poetry Foundation page daily and write in the style of or inspired by prompt from Poets on the Page. I'd love to work on this before Sunday -- in honor of Black History Month.

6. Online community: Read what other writers are doing online and jump in. Goal x10 for coming week. So far, so good: 4/10 before tonight.

7. Declutter. E-mails still under 50.

Today we took a leisurely drive up the Gulf coast to spot a few willets skittering in the mudflats, searching for food. We found outrageous coffee and chicken tacos on home-made tortillas at a roadside cafe, Irie's Island Food in Port Aransas. Stopped at A Mano to drool over Mexican crafts. No room in the suitcase; too many books from the used book store. Allen finished reading Khaled Hosseini's And the Mountains Echoed. He couldn't put it down. Tiny print, but it's added to my TBR pile. Only four days left in this condo by the sea.

Question of the week: How do we improve our writing productivity? I feel caught between what I'd like to achieve and how much work remains. Any tips? 

Make it a good week and visit those ROW80 writers over HERE.

Willet on the Gulf Coast
(February 2016)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

ROW80 check-in: A day for the birds -- Pelicans

Our last company leaves in just a few days, leaving us a week more to loll on the patio by the palm trees. This morning, a Great Blue Heron circled over the canal, checking out the little mystery fish that jump out of the water. Today, we went on another bird tour, and I spotted a bright yellow Eastern Meadowlark. The highlight, a flock of white pelicans waiting for the fishermen to clean their fish.

ROW80 Goals for the week with update:

1. Edit Rivers of Stone. Steadily working on Section 04, 7 out of 7 days. This section has 20 chapters. Completed Chapters 1-5 this week. Goal: Complete 1 more chapter by next Sunday. Progress is deceptive for revising sometimes means taking out as much as I put in, but as long as this writing goes well, the rest is a side dish.

2. Other Writing: Maybe jot notes/scenes for memoir or stories for The Mermaid Quilt, or other articles. Not worried about this goal because editing Rivers of Stone is priority one!

3. Reading: Now reading Gabriel Stone's Chorus of Swans, intriguing science fiction. Also enjoying my late night reading of 30 Pieces of Silver, a historical thriller by Carolyn McCray. Goal: Write a review for an indie author.

4. Marketing: BookBub announced a new Author Profile service so I updated my bio and added a photo and my books. When my next book, Rivers of Stone, is finished, they'll send an alert to my followers -- currently 108. Tweeted a friend's book, David McChesney's Stone Island series; he writes interesting military historical fiction. Before Sunday: Complete two marketing steps.

5. Poetry: Read Poetry Foundation page daily and write in the style of or inspired by prompt from Poets on the Page.

6. Online community: Read what other writers are doing online and jump in.  Goal x10 for coming week.

7. Declutter. E-mails under 50 once again! Can't work on other decluttering since we're not home. Oh, darn.

Make it a good week and visit those ROW80 writers over HERE. Thanks to Kait Nolan for coordinating this lively online writing group that really knows we writers have a life.

Hungry Pelicans
Corpus Christi (February 2016)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

ROW80 Check-in: From the land of Paradise Light

The next two days will hit 80 here in the land of Paradise Light, so nicknamed because while we're on the Gulf Coast, we're not in Mexico. Later, we'll take friends off to see the birds and eat fresh, grilled fish at an open-air seafood restaurant called Doc's. But this morning, as the sun rises over palm trees and the sea gulls squawk, I will catch up and celebrate happy news.

Update ROW80 Goals for last week, continuing unchanged for the coming week:

1. Edit Rivers of Stone. Yes! Finally back on track with fresh eyes, reading, revising, and writing Section 04. Completed Chapters 1-5. Goal: Complete 3 more chapters by next Sunday as Chapter 5 is a bugger.

2. Draft second story for The Mermaid Quilt. 330/1,500 words. Made some progress. Not worried about this one because of (1) above. May draft a few scenes.

3. READING: Now reading Gabriel Stone's Chorus of Swans, intriguing science fiction. Completed & sent private review on indie novella.

5. Marketing: Complete 2 marketing steps: I'm still reading articles about marketing rather than actually marketing. But I did find an amazing survey about readers of historical fiction that helped me to define my readers more precisely than that anonymous, hulking, ghost-like person who reads. I'm slowly inching up to define my 'brand'. OK did Tweet, did post on author's page on FB. Persevere!

6. Write 250 words on memoir and/or poetry book: Read Poetry Foundation page daily and write in the style of or inspired by prompt from Poets on the Page. Yes, this week's opening line: "I know this anonymous face rather too well . . . "

8. Online community: Wrote "And the Big M -- Mystery," subbed it, and this short semi-motivational article was accepted! Keeping pace with ROW80, but still need to read others. Goal x10 for coming week.

Now for the good news. Somehow this last Monday, after two weeks away from home and established routines, I began again to edit Rivers of Stone, fighting with those plot holes and unresolved character motivations. Finally making progress. I'm feeling really good about that. 

Today began with a short e-mail from a reader who wanted to know when the next "Stones" book would be available. I made a commitment. Late summer 2016. That's THIS summer. We talk a lot on ROW80 about goals shaping our work and making a difference. I don't want to spend another several years writing in a circle. Wish me the best!

And now hop over to ROW80 to see what everyone's up to. Give an encouraging wave for me!

Spoonbills in flight
Corpus Christi (February 2015)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

ROW80: Love is Thicker

For Valentine's Day, a one-liner from e. e. cummings:  "love is more thicker than forget."

I got sidetracked by Valentine's Day and early morning thoughts about writing. Up  at 5:30 am as the birds awaken, happy to find my writing routine restored, even if we are far from home.

ROW80 Update for last week with goals relatively unchanged for next week:

1. Editing Rivers of Stone. No progress at all, though the folder moved around on my desk. This makes 2 weeks of not touching the draft.
2. Draft 2 short stories for The Mermaid Quilt. Finished one; started second.
3. Poetry: Surprised to report I wrote two poems this week, "Privacy" and "Winter Texans." Poets on the Page suggests reading a poem a day from the Poetry Foundation, a process both intimidating and inspirational. Poems for Valentine's Day (that quote from e. e. cummings above) can be found on this site.
4. Other writing: Drafted an article (530 words) and a little on the memoir that's on the back burner (330 words).
5. Participating in online writing communities: Done: ROW80 check-ins x2. Done: WIPpet Weds posted. Read posts by others x8 since Weds.
6. Decluttering e-mail: Keeping it under 200 (that's up from 100, a revised goal).
7. Write review of indie book? Sending comments by e-mail.
8. Exercise? Some walking on the beach in shirtsleeves.

And that's all, folks. Check out what others are working on this week for A Round of Words in 80 Days as we slog away towards our writing goals and participate in this writing community that knows we have a life!

If you eat chocolate on Valentine's Day, why not read a little about this holiday on Wikipedia, a reminder that Chaucer was nearly the first to romanticize the loving acts of St. Valentine and that for many, Valentine's Day marks the beginning of spring.  Have a great week!

A bevy of Least Terns
obviously waiting for breakfast!
Corpus Christi, February 2016

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

ROW80 check-in from Padre Island

Did I remember that life is more convoluted on the road? There's the illusion when we leave home, that life becomes simpler. Commitments fall away. But the reverse can be true as we adapt to the new. Yes, I'm gaining distance, but the loss of the familiar can be an irritant as well. Where is the darn dustpan? Another trip to the Goodwill to replace essentials? And how many for dinner?

My update for ROW80 this week is very much pared down and will be kept to just these goals for the coming week.
1. Editing Rivers of Stone. No progress at all. 
2. Drafting a short story for The Mermaid Quilt. 1,130 words written.
3. Poets on the Page. Prompt this week: "I now see . . . " Poem written. Maybe I won't post as my poem is called 'Privacy.' Interesting that Rick Hanson's column this week was about the tension between intimacy and autonomy. He is much nicer than I am. More open. More forgiving. More trusting. 
4. Supporting online communities: ROW80 posts done! Reading what others have written for ROW80, POP, IWSG, WIPpet Weds. Just a few this week. Did I say the last four days have been complicated by a round trip to San Antonio (3 hours each way) and the Super Bowl (Broncos won!!!!!).
5. Decluttering e-mail <100? Oops. Should I try for <200?

Now for a snippet of my writing from this week for WIPpet Wednesday, kindly hosted by Emily Witt, Participants share a snippet somehow related to the date. Below find 11 lines (10 plus 2 for February and minus 1 for the year) from a short story that surprisingly turned dark. (Why, oh why don't I write humor?) The storyline: The narrator meets a woman on a beach who might be a mermaid; somehow they start talking about marriage. 

I thought about our marriage, now eleven years old. Tim had promised for life before, to someone else, and so had I. His marriage had faltered and ended, not without the requisite scars, something we didn’t talk of easily. Mine had simply ended with the death of my husband. 
When Tim and I recited our vows, I remember feeling a sense of impermanence, as if only today mattered. I shrugged. After all, I thought, who could read the future?
“I can,” the woman said. She raised her hand. “I can call the birds from the sky and your darkest nightmare from the sea. I can send this one away and bring Stuart back to you.”

A Writer Looks at Lionfish
seen at the Texas State Aquarium
(February 2016)

Start the rest of the week by checking in with other writers. Go HERE to see what ROW80 writers are up to and HERE for WIPpet writers. And may your week go well.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sunday ROW80: Of Mermaids, Birds, and Progress

What to do when your body runs two hours behind the clock? My daughter always says whenever you take a plane, you need a day or two for your soul to catch up. 

So, as I look over the original ROW80 goals for this week, I can now ask, "What was I thinking?"

Goals by Sunday, February 7:
1. Edit Rivers of Stone, 4 out of 7 days. Haven't started. Reset to 3/7 days.
2. Draft 1 short story for Mermaid Quilt. In progress. 630 words. Persevere!
3. Blog x3: ROW80, travel, and writing blog (and read x10). Only 1 of 3. Reading what others have writen? x6.
4. Work on Media Kit presentation (SASP). No progress this week.
5. Complete 75% of beta read (currently at 50%). Yes! Finished comments for this very interesting read.
6. Draft article on quilter Sandy Turner. Tabling until March.

You might notice that in addition to nonexistent progress on my main wip, I don't plan to participate this week in WIPpet on Wednesday or Poets on the Page. But maybe.

We've taken our company exploring in mostly 70 degree weather. So far we've gone bird hunting, walked along the beach at Padre Island, and eaten unforgettable food at Dragonfly. We've made innumerable trips to the grocery store and the Goodwill to fill in the gaps, and we discovered a wonderful bookstore -- found a new book on Canadian history as well as an intriguing book on the first European discovery of Mayan ruins (1840s), which reminds me of an early archaeologist who climbed to the top of one of the ruined temples and was struck by lightening.

Mermaid imagery is everywhere here along the Gulf coast. Three days before we left Spokane, someone was thumbing through The Mermaid Quilt at our quarterly quilters' meeting. I went over to her to see if she had any questions. "I'm looking for a quilt pattern," she said. 

This gave me bubbles of goosebumps -- because (ta da!!!!), I was planning to add two new stories and do a re-release sometime this year. Why not draft a few patterns and add them as well? Two quilting buddies have already volunteered to vet the patterns. And then that poem, "What Do Mermaids Eat?" surely calls for a recipe or two? Mermaid muffins? What would a mermaid put in a muffin? I would love some humor because, darn it, some of my stories turn so dark. 

That's been my week, a tumbled up and down schedule, settling into new places, but finally, making a space for writing somehow in the precious early morning. How are other ROW80 writers doing this week? Go HERE to find out and give an encouraging wave or two.

And if you are always looking for ways to improve your marketing, please go read Ruth Nestvold's fascinating update, "How to Develop A Strategy for Ebook Sale Promotions (Starting Out as an Indie Author." I took notes. True to her word, Ruth's also participating in a mega-marketing promotion with other authors; they're offering 40 boxed sets scifi/fantasy that you can choose from for 99c. I remember reading boxes of science fiction when I was in my teens, so yes, I want to go see what's happening. HERE is that link! 

May your writing and reading inspire you this week!

Brown Pelicans and two Great Blue Herons
Padre Island (Feb 2016)

PS You can snag this great picture I took by using the old Right Click and 'Save Image As', then pop the image into your picture file. Makes a good screensaver.