Sunday, July 31, 2016

ROW80: End-of-month check-in

The last day of the month brings a sense of closure. Already, before August begins, I'm seeing the tops of trees change color to that harbinger of winter, and we're fast moving to the end of the year. So, for A Round of Words in 80 Days, here's my report for July. 

Blue = completed. Green = In progress. Red = Not yet!

1. Participate in Camp Nanowrimo by editing Rivers of Stone at least one hour a day. Missed 5 days, but only need 1.5 more hours of editing to meet my goal for this month. Will try to squeeze this in later today. Overall, progress is steady but so much slower than what I'd like. What's in the way? That pursuit of perfection, or at least as good as I can make it. Big picture goal? Finish edits by October. 

2. Blog minimum of 3x a week (12 posts) on Writing and ROW blogs. Blogged 11x. Even a weekly post to the Writing blog seems difficult, though I love sharing ideas and updates from my wip. Not sure how best to tackle this one. Read a minimum of 2 other ROW80 writers each week. Need to improve. Some weeks, yes. Can I blame summer heat?

3. Marketing: Work on one event/week & planning. Last month's presentation led to three presentations at local senior centers. Now organizing authors' table at Artisans Fair (August 13-14) and Indie Author Day (October). Newsletter not yet.

4. Create project file on ACX for Years of Stone's audiobook by August 1. Darryl Kurylo, a wonderful voice actor, will be the reader! 

5. Write one article. Wrote an article for SASP's August newsletter, "Trolling the Internet" (vlogs, deep point of view, and Ten Minute Novelists on FB). Got word my article on "Quilting with Compassion" was accepted by The Country Register.

6. Work on quilt show program for WSQ: Cover front finished! Completed interview with featured quilter. Outstanding vendor identified. Now to keep writing sections and format. Will receive exhibitor info late September. Have 3 new volunteers to train for next year.

7. Reading: At least one indie author & one SASP author. No progress on reading Yasmin Tirado-Chiodini, Antonio’s Will. Finished beta read of Nancy Hartley’s Justice. Still want to read one more SASP author by August 4 meeting.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm slowing down because I'm getting older or if summer heat affects my stamina. I'd rather blame the heat. 

Still much work to do. Which project brings passion and excitement? The editing -- and a new quilt block just at the planning stage. This week we'll take a short, 2-day trip north, our first road trip for many months, to explore the country around Colville, Washington, once a key stop for voyageurs, now under a man-made lake. But the mountains remain.

May you have a good week with writing goals for August set to motivate you! Check out what other ROW80 writers are up to and cheer us all on. Maybe even volunteer to be a sponsor! Or, if you're not a part of ROW80, why not join us?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sunday morning: What if?

What if all your e-mails disappeared? Just vanished. An empty inbox. Empty folders. As if you no longer had an online identity?

On a philosophical level, think ahead 100 years, and this will be so for us all. Vanished. Maybe a few artifacts will remain, a family photograph, a treasured painting or book. Chimeras all.

And here I was worried about catching up, decluttering, finishing, staying organized. Feeling guilty because I reported into A Round of Words in 80 Days only once this week.

This morning, all my e-mails did go away to some mystical, nebulous unknown. Yahoo Mail says no one has used up their terrabyte of storage, but I had whittled those 500 e-mails in my inbox down to a mere 250. My contacts are still there, but all those folders are gone. 

Yahoo is working on restoring my e-mail, and I'm in active damage control (who do I absolutely have to contact now?). I could fall down the rat hole of what's to blame (new iPhone, one of several Clouds), but maybe it's OK to just let those e-mails go and start over.

Sunday morning ROW Report for the week:

  • Writing: Wrote/revised 6 out 7 days on Rivers of Stone. Blogged on my writing blog (hooray!) about: "Revision and More Revision: Barn Owls or Cougars." Read another 60 pages on Justice (beta read).
  • Marketing: Actually used social media x2. Handed out bookmarks at random. (I'm not so good at selling. Sometimes I send people to the library or a local bookstore . . . and then I feel guilty because I could have saved them $5.)
  • Community: Finished front cover for that 40-page program due October. Worked on vendor section.
  • Other: Walked/exercise x7 days? Yes. Blood sugar coming down? Yes. Quilting? Fooled around with bear quilt, a design that's emerging as I finish each block, a process of draw, select batik fabrics, moves pieces around, and hand sew into place. Babysat grands so kids could see Star Wars. They came home smiling. Starting to plan our first trip since March -- maybe two weeks up to the Colville wilderness area here in Washington and over to Lake Chelan.
ROW80 Goals for the coming week:
  • Writing? Go for 7 out of 7 on Rivers of Stone. Finish beta comments on Justice by August 1. Set up ACX for Years of Stone by August 1. Blog 3x week (ROW & Writing blog).
  • Marketing: Work on authors' table for Artisans Fair and Folklore Society. Draft summer newsletter.
  • All the rest? Pretty much damage control. Maybe Yahoo will have good news for me.
Bear Quilt in Progress,
Three blocks finished (July 2016)
(click to see detail)
May you have a good week of writing and just enjoying the summer, a perfect time for walking in the late afternoon and noticing those leaves at the very top of the trees are starting to hint at fall.

Check out what other ROW80 writers are doing HERE

Consider joining in. After all, we are a community of writers at every stage who recognize real life does intervene. Thank you, Kait Nolan and those sponsors actively making ROW80 possible for Round 3!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday night: Looking ahead

For those who follow A Round of Words in 80 Days, Sunday brings a bit of time to reflect back over the week -- and to plan ahead. 

Well, the grandchildren came today, the four-year-old and a nearly two-year-old. Both energetic, curious, and adorable. Thankfully, when they tired of quieter games, we could run, the tried and true, "1-2-3: Go!" I was grateful I got my writing done early this morning. 

Looking back over the week, I'm pleased with writing progress (thank you, Summer Camp Nanowrimo) by writing/editing every single day. And I did complete that interview of a local quilter I admire. The rest seems unimportant, but I've made good progress on the program for WSQ (cover done!), some progress on marking up Justice, a very little sewing, read my backlog of writing magazines, and watered my African violets. OK, I also got the filing organized and caught up. Exercising every day? Yep.

So goals for the coming week?

  1. Write/edit minimum of one hour a day/Rivers of Stone.
  2. Blog minimum of 3 posts, including writing blog.
  3. Set up Years of Stone on ACX for audiobook.
  4. Persevere on Marketing Plan: Complete 2 action steps.
  5. Read 30 more pages to crit Justice.
Which of these goals is most problematic? For now, maybe because it's summer, I'm finding it hard to write on my other blogs. The travel blog is moribund because we're not traveling at all just now, though a trip to Fort Colville may be in order for early August. But since I am writing, something should pique my blogging pen, right?

Actually I have an idea for a post I'll work on later -- Allen talked about his book Reaching to a group of retired (mostly World War II veterans). Check out the link HERE.

May you have a good week! Read what other ROW80 writers are up to HERE. And what do you do when you want to blog, but just don't have the 'right' idea?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

ROW80 Weds update: Steady, steady she goes

Halfway through the month and checking in with progress to date.

Goals for July:     
  • Write/Revise Rivers of Stone minimum 1 hour a day, reporting progress at Camp Nanowrimo. Chapters 1-6 done: 12 out of 13 days. 
  • Blogging: Reporting in for ROW80 x2 each week and posting on writing blog on Fridays. ROW80 posts? Done. Friday blog? in process.
  • Marketing: Work on one event/week & planning. Schedule newsletter. Progress: Allen has breakfast reading for Reaching tomorrow morning. Goal by month end? Years of Stone up on ACX for book 2 audio book! The fantastic voice actor Darryl Kurylo has agreed to read. Not active on twitter or FB this week.
  • Articles: Write one article for SASP newsletter (done) & one more. Article on comfort quilts accepted by The Country Register. 
  • WSQ: Prepped program for Tues meeting. Working on vendors section. Sent Robin interview questions for this Friday.
  • Spokane Authors: Sent application in for Artisan’s Market (book fair) before deadline. 
  • Reading: In process: Finish commenting on Nancy's Justice before August 1. In process: 1 of 16 chapters done. Read 3 lighter books. . At least one indie author & one SASP author. Review: Yasmin Tirado-Chiodini, Antonio’s Will. Review Nancy Hartley’s Justice by SASP Aug meeting.
  • Other: Exercise: 4 out of 4 days this week. Nearly finished with binding on wheelchair quilt (I like this one) and started an applique project.
Quilt block in progress
(rough draft stage)

Gleaned from writing this week: I'm planning to read through the rough draft of Rivers of Stone twice; my overall goal is to finish editing this story before year end. Once at micro level (word choice, missing scenes at chapter level, characters' emotional reactions, anything that I can see), and once at macro level (story structure/arcs, and anything I can see).

The opening chapters seemed unsettled to me and have required much rewriting. Once the story takes off, though, I'm happier with the overall flow. So maybe these early chapters are a little like the quilt block above, as I find my way into the story, some parts are unfinished and ideas about characters/plot are yet emerging. Because the entire draft is complete, I can now look more critically at these opening chapters with a sense of the whole story.

If I weren't such a dedicated pantser, this would motivate me to work on planning/outlining, reading research, and drafting more back story before I begin to actually write the story. 

What about you when revising that first draft? How much work do you do BEFORE beginning to write?

Check in with A Round of Words in 80 Days and read Stephanie Nickles helpful article on understanding your brand. Or see what everyone's up to this week over  HERE. And why not join us?

Sunday, July 10, 2016

ROW80: Sunday Night Real Time

We're already looking at the first full week of Round 3. 

All I can report is my goals are set, some progress is being made, and the weather for tonight's walk was gorgeous. Just at dusk, part of the sky was dark with summer storms from the north and part of the sky an intense blue color, with fewer clouds hot pink from the setting sun. 

Here's my update.

  • Writing/Revision: 4 out of 5 days revising Rivers of Stone
  • Blogging: 2 out of 3 posts done.
  • Marketing: Steady progress here as well with 1 new venue identified, Artisans' Fair project on schedule (sending application this week), and follow-up on this week's presentation done.
  • Other projects: worked on WSQ program 5 out of 5 days.
  • Exercise: 4 out of 5 days. Eating mindfully, except for that birthday cake today.

For the coming week, the goals are the same. After tonight's walk, I did a house check for a friend who's rather ill. My message: Cherish each day. Appreciate your health, and give a helping hand when you can. Not a bad way to live. Oh, yes, and I watered my African Violets.

Check out what other ROW80 writers are doing HERE. And thank you, Elizabeth Anne Mitchell, for your encouraging comment which resonated all week.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

ROW80: first Weds check-in

OK, I'm feeling a little guilty for not volunteering to be a sponsor . . . but still appreciative of those sponsors who waved their virtual hands and said, "Yes!" Thank you!

Here's my progress on this first check-in for Round 3.

WRITING: Revising Rivers of Stone and having fun along the way. Today, my doctor said she loved Books 1 and 2 and asked when Book 3 would be ready. Still so much work to be done. Today I discovered Great Beluga Whales. I didn't know they were white -- perfect for blending in to those ice-crusted waters of Hudson's Bay. Progress: 100% (started revision July 1). See stats here on Pacemaker.

School of Great Beluga whales (Wikipedia)
Taken by Ansgar Walk at Hudson's Bay

I'll check in Sunday to report progress on those other goals -- blogging, reading, reviewing, volunteer work (2 meetings this week, one last night). In summary, so far, so good.

Now to the fun part: ideas about revision. I was reading an engaging story when it hit me that what pulled me into the story was the RELATIONSHIPS between characters -- their feelings, their actions, reactions, and attachments to each other. Since I'm in revision mode, this made my editing pen quiver. 

How do my characters reveal their relationships -- through action or thought? How does the story drill down to their emotions? 

Then I hit one of my chapter openings that seemed flat. I knew it was flat, a real place holder. So I took out one of my favorite books, Ken Follett's Winter of the World, to see how his chapter openings worked.

Surprise! Every single chapter by Follett begins with a focus on the point-of-view character, specific images, and sensory-based description! Here are a few examples at random:

  • "Ursula Dewar had her own small suite of rooms in the old Victorian mansion on Delaware Avenue" (116).
  • "It was a sunny Saturday afternoon in May 1936, and Lloyd Williams was at the end of his second year at Cambridge when Fascism reared its vile head among the white stone cloisters of the ancient university" (149).
  • "Volodya Peshkov bent his head against the driving snow as he walked across the bridge over the Moscow River" (226).

How could a reader not be curious about the lives of these characters? I'm drawn into Ken Follett's story every time. 

So here's my new opening for a chapter in the first 25% of Rivers of Stone (1840s, historical fiction).

OLD: As the Prince Ruppert sailed north, Cat, Dougal, and Colin saw the first ice since off the coast of Greenland.

NEW: Cat was grateful to be on the deck and out of steerage. After Captain Herd read the gospel on this clear and cold Sunday morning, the crew, passengers, and those in steerage had a few hours of respite. While the passengers strolled along the quarter deck, Cat leaned on the bulwark, next to Dougal and Colin to watch chunks of ice floating atop the waves by the hundreds, each chunk two and three feet across, the first they’d seen since leaving the coast of Greenland.

Have a great week of writing. Check out what others are up to for ROW80 here, and if you haven't jumped in, why not? 

Monday, July 4, 2016

ROW80 Round 3: And we're off . . . and writing!

How the fates conspire. The last two weeks have been a jumble, and I barely made it through the last round of ROW80, but somehow, on July 1st, the calendar itself inspired commitment, due partly to Kait Nolan's promo of Pacemaker. 

What a marriage. Pacemaker, an online-tracking of goals, and A Round of Words in 80 Days, an online community of writers who set goals, work mightily to reach them -- and yet recognize that 'real life' may intercede. 

My goals for Round 03 (July 23-September 22):

WRITING: Work prodigiously on writing/revising Rivers of Stone to final, edited version for a minimum of 1,000 words a day. I hope to not be distracted by other writing projects which do keep popping out of my file cabinet. Tracking? Pacemaker and Camp Nanowrimo.

READING: Read and review at least two books per month. Finish reading Orson Scott Card's Characters & Viewpoint. Stay current with e-mail, keeping the clutter under 200 in my inbox.

BLOGGING: Once a week on my writing blog, and (this is a great waffle), 1-2 times a week for ROW80.

MARKETING: Carry out 2-3 marketing action steps each week. Continue marketing for DH's book, Reaching. He speaks to a veteran's breakfast next week!

OTHER: Continue volunteer work for Spokane Authors, my Cascades quilting group (Because We Care), Washington State Quilters, and exercise a minimum of 3x a week. 

Should it be a goal to continue to seek balance each day, time to nurture self and others? I think so. Each decade brings challenges, some quite unexpected -- even if changes in health and stamina in those we love (and ourselves) are inevitable. 

And so the next round of ROW80 begins! Check out what others have written HERE.

My Sister's Backyard, Tucson (Jeffrey Stemshorn)