Sunday, May 29, 2016

ROW80 check-in: Goals and goals

Had a lovely sidetrip this week, working on book trailers. Unfortunately, the greatest lesson learned has been a new appreciation for that gap between my test videos created with Vimeo and YouTube and those professionally produced, including one by a writing friend, Sandy Brown Jensen. You can see all three on my writing blog HERE

But in comparing my draft efforts to what's out there, I still have much to do. 
--Need more compelling text. Especially in a short (under 50 second) video, every word must connect with the viewer. Emotionally.

Mermaid, detail from fountain in Edinborough (Camp 2009)
--Need images that resonate and add depth/intensity to the video. These can be related to the theme, the hero's journey (heroine, in my case) or the story conflict.

--Music also needs to be high energy, related to the story.

--Work on the fade-in/fly-in, with 3-6 seconds per frame, depending on how much text is on the frame. Images without text can fade faster. The more text, the slower the fade.

Otherwise, the week has been a slammer of a balancing act, with commitments to family and friends keeping me far too busy. 

Here's my update for ROW80:

WRITING. Finish Section 05 for Rivers of Stone by May 28 and get it out to two of my beta readers by June 1. Progress: I might actually make this goal as the last chapter is finally falling into place. Wrote 7/7 days.

MARKETING. Worked a healthy slug on those book trailers (6 hours). Proposing a WRITING CLINIC umbrella for local workshops, presentations, short blips for newsletter/blogs this Thursday for local writers' association. Prepping medley of topics for presentation next Thurs as well to possible hosts. Good progress on assembling my own library of hashtags related to writing, historical fiction, editing, reviewing, marketing, and reading. Sent a query to an Australian reviewer re Years of Stone. And tweeting a little more.

3. BLOGGING: Posted twice for ROW80 (including today) and twice on the writing blog ("Monday Morning Musings: Why Write a Review?" and "Friday Fooling Around: Book Trailers"). Having two days set aside for blogging seems to help me stay connected. Read ROW80 x6. Done. Would have liked to do more.

4. Reading/Book Reviews: Very slow progress here. Goals: Read 2 articles on writing craft. 
Still found a super article on M.K. Tod's A Writer of History by Mark Beaulieu on researching historical fiction, "Time Travel -- a 12th Century View." Not yet: Write at least one review by the end of May on an indie writer. Working on a beta read. May not get a review in this month.

5. Declutter: Keep e-mails under 150. The marketing surge of e-mails is over, but those e-mails keep coming in. Up to 300 this morning, but I did read & delete 140 this week. I think the marketing spillover to FaceBook resulted in me getting blocked. Still having problems accessing FaceBook through Chrome, so I'm using Mozilla Firefox. Anyone have similar problems?

And here's a pretty neat reminder for writing scenes: My characters tend to get into trouble more than they face down conflict. Hmmm.

Found via Google on Writing Romance

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

ROW80: Mid-week check-in with thoughts about Hawaii

Just two chapters to go to finish off the first rough draft of Sec05 of Rivers of Stone. What a strange process of writing and editing this is. I start with the main characters, kind of know what they need to do, what challenges they face, and then begin filling in the interactions, the conflict, the story that moves forward. 

But along the way, I need to do more research. What direction was the Columbia River flowing and how fast? How many days did it take to canoe from one location to another? What were the Chinook natives wearing? 

What's fun is the unexpected little gem of history I find along the way. For example, this morning I learned that those really neat young Hawaiian men who came over on trading ships to work for the Hudson's Bay Company (and lark around by wrestling, staging competitions like who could swim the fastest, and dancing the hula), left the Oregon Country almost entirely in the 1840s because the law would not allow either blacks or Hawaiians to own property. Aargh!

But some Hawaiians stayed and married into the Native community. This Vimeo video (of about 4 minutes) captures the sense of family and the larger Hawaiian community that remain connected even today.

Hawaiian and Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest from Dmae Roberts on Vimeo.

I hope to do justice to the Hawaiian characters in my story.

Now for progress so far toward my goals by Sunday, May 28, for A Round of Words in 80 Days   Blue = good progress. Red = Ouch! No progress. Green = Some progress.

  • Writing: Continue to work a minimum of 5 out of 7 days on Rivers of Stone (drafting scenes or editing). Progress? 3 out of 3 days with 4 to go! Finished one chapter, two chapters to go to meet my goal of finishing Section 05 by the end of May. 
  • Blogging: Minimum of 3 posts/week, plus read others x8. Progress? Posted 2x: Today's ROW80 check in and "Monday Morning Musings: Book Reviews" on my writing blog. Read 4 ROW80 writers so far. 
  • Marketing: Work a minimum of 4 out of 7 days. More research than action, but have worked 3 out of 3 days.  Pretty good progress:  Actually requested a review from an Australian reader for Years of Stone. Joined HomeTown Reads, a website that promotes local writers by city. Yay! Spokane has its own site HERE. You can scroll down to see local writers and check to see if your city is part of this nationwide project.
  • Reading/Book Reviews: Nothing yet: Read 2 articles on writing craft. Write at least one review by the end of May on an indie writer. 
  • Decluttering: Goal: E-mails down to 150. Reality: Currently 280, but I've deleted 99 since Sunday.
  • Other: Swim x3 and quilt. So far? Swam once, daily 20 minute walk, and quilted a little. Daydreamed about the next quilting project.
Make it a good week! Check out what other ROW80 writers are doing HERE. Why not jump right in. We'd love to have company, comments, and support your writing journey!

Missionaries Preaching to Hawaiians in Kikui Grove @ 1841
Source: Wikipedia
Click to see larger view.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday: Time to be grateful

Rainy Sunday afternoon. The best mornings this week have been when I wake up with a scene unfolding and new insights into my characters. This week has been somewhat fragmented with babysitting, taking a friend in for cataract surgery, and working on a big quilt project. But some progress was made on my ROW80 goals. Blue = great progress but not this week. I'm seeing only green and red! Green = Hanging in thereRed = Nada.

Progress so far: 
--Writing: Worked on writing 4/7 days but fell down the research hole Thurs and Fri. Found some exceptional material to flesh out one minor character and an understanding of another 'country marriage.' Imagine 10 children and no birth control. See my post on Archie McKinlay on my writing blog. Did find a beta reader for Section 05. Set new goal to finish Section 05 by the end of May.
--Marketing: Since Weds, mostly thinking about how best to move forward. Thinking, though, does not lead to forward motion. New since Weds: Looked at 25 sites that review books and identified 5 that may have potential for my books.
--Declutter: E-mail inching up to 258 this afternoon, above my goal of 200. Those two marketing workshops dumped mucho new e-mails, so I will persevere.
--Review: Posted review for Caren Rich's Mystic Brew.  
--Other: No action on WSQ program. Exercise: 20-minute walks with hubby 6 out of 7 days. Swam once. Quilting: Started another comfort quilt. 

Still noodling over what incentive to offer for folks to sign up for my newsletter. Most popular? Free novel/novella. But I don't have one . . . yet. Do have two short stories, closer to flash than short, though.

Here are my goals for the coming week for A Round of Words in 80 Days  by next Sunday, May 28.

Writing: Continue to work a minimum of 5 out of 7 days on Rivers of Stone (drafting scenes or editing).
Blogging: Minimum of 3 posts/week, plus read others x8.
Marketing: Work a minimum of 4 out of 7 days.
Reading/Book Reviews: Read 2 articles on writing craft. Write at least one review by the end of May on an indie writer.
Decluttering: E-mails down to 150.
Other: Swim x3 and quilt.

And the best motivational image I found this week, otherwise known as a meme, was posted by Steven Malone on Google+. Thank you, Steven!

May you have a good week writing and reading. Why not visit other ROW80 writers and give them a helpful wave or comment! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

ROW80 Weds Trucking right along . . .

Breathe! It's Wednesday already as we head toward the last third of May. My report today for A Round of Words in 80 Days shows goals by Sunday, May 22, and progress so far this week:
Blue = great progress! Green = Hanging in there. Red = Nada.

Writing: Minimum of 750 words and/or 4 hours of editing on Rivers of Stone. So far 3/3 days with steady progress on adding new material and editing.

Marketing: Take one action step each day. 3/3 days so far. Met today with senior center. Result? Invited to talk about workshops and/or presentations to a meeting of some 10 different program coordinators in early June. Tweeted. Result? Invited to participate in #HomeTownReads, a website that promotes local authors by city. Revised website slightly and updated Media sheet. 

Declutter: Keep e-mails under 150. Working on this. I have lots of new material to review related to marketing so inbox up to 220. 

Reviews. Start reading book by indie writer for review. Haven't made good progress here, but received amazingly helpful beta comments from Cori Lynn Arnold for my draft Mothers Don't Die. Did reread Caren Rich's Mystic Brew and hope to review by Sunday. 

Winter Rambling Comfort Quilt Top
--Set up WSQ program format and action list, and send out preliminary e-mails to gather content. 3x week. No progress yet. 
--Be mindful to keep stress levels down. Continue exercise daily. Short walks with hubby every day. Not enough but steady progress.
--Quilt. Finished another comfort quilt today (riffed off a panel, flannel backed, wheelchair size)!

Reading: The most helpful article I read this week was Constance Hale's article, "Good Grief: Seven Stages of Manuscript Drafts Can Lead to Success" (The Writer, June 2016). Short and humorous, Hale's comments helped me pinpoint where my draft is (somewhere between her "Prozac draft" and "The long slog"), AND how to stay somewhat balanced throughout the process of editing the 'whole darn thing.'

May you have a good week writing and reading. Why not visit other ROW80 writers and give them a helpful wave or comment! 

And could you let me know which incentive for signing up for my very occasional newsletter works best for you: Chance to win a free audiobook link? Or download a free poetry book? Or free novella? 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

ROW80: Just Checking in on Weds

And here's my check-in for A Round of Words in 80 Days, that process of setting goals and checking in twice weekly to evaluate my writing progress, with thanks to Kait Nolan, our fearless leader, who reminds us we can persevere with writing and recognize that 'real life' continues around us. 

--Goal for the week 6 out of 7 days. So far? 2 out of 3 days. This week, I'm organizing research, slotting ideas into different parts of the mss. Fascinating process for I realized that the history matters to me. I want my story as close to what happened, rather like riffing around what is true rather than explaining in an afterword what I changed. 
--Blogging: Drafted a schedule (and one post) for blog posts. Goal: 4-6 posts a week. Not sure if this will work because my primary writing goal is still finishing Rivers of Stone this year, with beta reads scheduled for August. Themes: Monday Musing (writing), Weds: ROW80 and WIPpet. Throw-back Thursday. Friday Focus: Historical Fiction. Sunday: ROW80.

--Workshop on self-publishing completed. Still applying what I've learned. Goal: Update website. So far? Reviewed my website. Need to look at websites I like & do some more research. My site doesn't look too bad as is, but is it appealing to readers? 
--Set up another workshop tied to some aspect of writing.  Identified 3 possible venues. Making calls today. 
--Other: Developed marketing checklist. Watched 2 marketing videos, one 25 minutes long, the other 5 minutes. Both had little gems. 

--Goal? To delete 200 and bring e-mail down to 160. So far? Finally. Progress. Deleted down to 120. Most helpful tip for me: Relist e-mails by sender and unsubscribe where volume exceeds value. New mantra? Delete when I'm done reading or acting on  an e-mail!  
--By Sunday? Update cluttered Kindle (another place I read and don't delete).

--B. A. Shapiro's The Muralist. Interesting story switches from contemporary setting, first person narrator to third person, Eleanor Roosevelt and a community of artists during the W.P.A.  
--Also read Fall Out (Navy SEAL story with lots of adventure) by Zoe York and Sex, Lies & Sweet Tea (an x-rated romance featuring well developed scenes and lovely quotes from e. e. cummings) by Kris Calvert. By Sunday: Start reading indie book for review.

The mail brought a surprise: A copy of Old Broads Waxing Poetic, a collection of poems by 8 'old broads' with proceeds to CARE International. Hmm. Maybe here's my review.

--First round of info for WSQ program in for editing. By Sunday: Edit & send 2 e-mails for more info. 
--Exercise? Daily 10-minute walks with DH. Resume swimming x3/week. 
--Quilting? Going to put an applique bird and a few applique coffee cups on that modern quilt. It just doesn't 'feel' done.

Today I take a friend for pre-cataract surgery appointment, and I'm grateful that life is nearly 'normal' once again. DH's planning trips.

Why not check out what other ROW80 writers are doing this week? And stop by to read ROW80 sponsor Steph Nickel's inspirational article (yes, tied to writing), "Why I Love Camping!"

Now, did any idea in this post catch your interest? Pique a response? Why not comment? Have you signed up for my rare and quarterly newsletter? Why not? Should I offer an incentive?

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sunday ROW80 check-in: Whatta week!

Why is it when we do something for someone else that sometimes we end up taking a closer look at our own priorities?

This week was a hummer. Thursday's presentation on marketing to Spokane Authors took me down some well-worn paths but with a twist. Here are the surprises I learned from the workshop:

  • Of 25 participants, only 4 have a website. Roughly half are published. Few use social media. The group seemed roughly divided between "pay someone else" and "do it myself."
  • I divided possible action steps related to marketing into low-tech and higher-tech to make 'what's next' more accessible to everyone.
  • My own jump forward came as I led everyone through the process of thinking about their overall goals and identifying action steps that will help them meet those goals (using handouts that identified those classic areas to work on -- everything from bookmarks to interviews to, gasp, websites). This process of setting goals and evaluating our progress is the same process we use for ROW80, but . . . 
With A Round of Words for 80 Days, I've been setting goals and reporting progress now for about three years. Maybe long enough to shrug off my goals if I don't meet them. 
  • Enter Shelley Hitz, writing and marketing coach extraordinaire,  with her 30-day marketing calendar. I did use Word to adapt her idea and print out a simple calendar (see graphic).

I can now "see" what's next -- and track my progress on a 'scribble' sheet. Because I tend to gravitate to what I like to do best, marketing falls far behind writing. This simple MARKETING ACTION SHEET keeps my marketing priorities more visible each day, more attainable, and in balance with (what else?), writing. 

OK, now for the check-in for this week. Very simple. Hopefully very short with NEXT being goals by next Sunday.

On Amazon
  • WRITING? 4 out of 7 days. NEXT? 6 out of 7 days.
  • MARKETING: Workshop done. NEXT? Update website. Set up another workshop tied to book promo.
  • DECLUTTERING e-mail: deleted 150, but inbox now at 360. Ouch. Signed up for two marketing workshops online so e-mails can only increase! Most likely faster than I can delete. NEXT: Delete 200.
  • READING: B. A. Shapiro's The Muralist
  • COMMUNITY/OTHER: Finished my first modern quilt. First round of info for WSQ program in for editing. NEXT: Edit & send 2 e-mails for more info. Resumed walking (after last week's hike w/Bloomsday).
My walk takes me near a wetlands where I've been watching Redwing Blackbirds slowly lose ground to a growing brood of relatively rare relatives -- Yellow-headed Blackbirds. 

Click on either of this morning's photos to see a larger version:

ROW80: Have a great week with lots of good progress. Check out what others are up to HERE.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

ROW80 Check in: Busy . . . Busy.

Good news. DH finally is healing from his back injury. The pain level is down to about 4 (out of 10), and he's up and about, walking, and of good cheer. So I can only report progress in all other areas, right?


1. Write a minimum of 750 words and/or 4 hours of editing on Rivers of Stone. So far, wrote 2 of 3 days (3 hours). Will write the monthly post for Insecure Writers Study Group a little later tonight.

2. Marketing: A speaker was unable to attend, so I prepped presentation for tomorrow's local author meeting: How to organize your Media Kit, set up Interview Questions, and draft 30-day action steps to meet your marketing goals. Working on this project got me kickstarted on my own marketing plan!

3. Delete at least 150 e-mails. Deleted 350 but still way too many to go. Goal by Sunday, another 250 deleted.

4. Read book by indie writer for review. Ha! Still reading and enjoying escapist genre fiction. Did read 14 books for April and reviewed 2. Read James Patterson's 12th of Never in May. Interesting POV shift each chapter. Lots of action. I must confess I'm reading a story about a fire-fighting SEAL just now.

5. Editing. Continue developing content for WSQ 40-page program that goes to print in October. Worked on this 3x last week. Revamped some format. Goal before Sunday: Send out 3 more e-mails requesting content. 
Beth and Annie
Bloomsday (May 2016)

6. Other: Transfer photos from at least one of two dead computers. Nada. Worked on my first experiment with strip quilting. Happily finished that 7.5 mile walk on Sunday, May 1 for Bloomsday! Overall, feeling grateful and at peace. May the coming week be a good one for you.

Check out what other ROW80 folks are up to HERE.