Sunday, April 30, 2017

ROW80: How about a rant?

It's time for the Sunday check-in for ROW80. We're supposed to report how we've done on our goals for the week and celebrate those little victories that make all else possible.

Except I just want to rant about what I don't know and need to know and haven't figured out yet. It's the end of the month with new deadlines and goals . . . and I'm so not done with April.

To the good: Got a major start on the current quilt (I balance writing with quilting so I don't sit down too long). Cleared out all those e-mails from 300 to under 100. Still too much I want to read. Wrote the article on podcasting for Spokane Authors. 

Really exciting? I finished a prequel to Standing Stones (short, just 8 pages) to use as a giveaway for people who sign up for my newsletter. This gives me more breathing room to work on the novella (sequel).

What's driving me bonkers? I can't figure out how to design a form on MailChimp that looks better than a big blue box for people to use when they signup for my newsletter. And I can't figure out how to automate the sending of that new Prequel PDF. 

Any other progress? Slower than I want to be on reading those marketing books. A writer sent me 68 pages for a beta review. Did read ROW80 posts by others x6 this week. And I'm making slow progress on my marketing/launch timeline/plan. 

Did add 1,800 words this week to that sequel, tentatively named The Island Wife. Fun to discover that in Standing Stones, Dylan went off to Inverness and then Edinburgh. Here I am, gnashing my teeth, for I wanted him to be closer to Inverness. Then I discovered the railway where he got hired as a 'navvy' (short for navigator) ran from Glasgow to Edinburgh. Hah! Still looking for research that talks more in depth about working conditions (not good) on those Scottish railroads in the 1840s, if you happen to know a title.

What's not done: Would love to have a concise and clear set of objectives for May. Maybe that's my goal for this coming Wednesday's check-in!

Do you want to sign up for my newsletter and let me know what you think of the thank you prequel? I'm taking it to writer's group on Weds and would love to have your feedback.

Meanwhile, spring has finally sprouted here in the Inland Northwest. Cherry blossoms, tulips, and beautifully green willow trees. 

Source: Bustle

May your writing -- and all else -- go well in the coming week. Check out what ROW80 writers are doing HERE and on FaceBook HERE . Why not join in?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

ROW80 Weds check-in: Spring showers but no tears.

My readers have been asking: "What happened to Moira and Dylan after Standing Stones ended?" So most of my writing work so far this week has been diving into that story. The goal? A novella that tells the rest of their story and that can serve as a giveaway. 

Usually my stories run away and wind up being three-year projects, with tons of research. And while I am looking into the fates of railroad workers in the 1840s on the Edinburgh/Glasgow line, my first step was to reread those parts in Standing Stones and start building character sketches, summaries, conflicts, and, yes, I'm using Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake method. Maybe I can just tell a little story this time. Not ready to count words, but I've got a running start on plotting.

Round 2, Week 3: Updates on this week’s goals:

--WRITING: Setting aside Rivers of Stone for next two weeks (taking a break while beta readers work). 

--BLOGGING: Writing blog 1x/week, ROW80 2x/week. On schedule.

--MARKETING: No tangible progress, but I am reading and planning. Read another chapter in Bell's book, Marketing for Writers Who Hate Marketing. Very impressed by Jen Blood's setup to entice readers to sign up for her newsletter. She embedded her freebie 'magnet' right in the opening of her Kindle book. So I'm also reading her gritty dog story, The Darkest Thread. Use the 'look inside' feature to check out her beautiful images. Her book is still listed as free as of this morning.

--ONLINE COMMUNITIES: Read ROW80/IWSG: minimum of 6x/week. So far, only read 2x.

--DECLUTTER/OTHER: Get E-mail under 200. Ouch. Right now those unreads are 285. Maybe by Sunday. 

HELP WANTED: Does anyone know about Kickstarter and how it might help an author? This is for a writer I respect. Any suggestions at all will be helpful.

And that's it for a late check-in. Finished a comfort quilt last night instead, a lovely blending of simple purple blocks with a nice flannel backing to keep legs warm. 

Quilting is kind of like writing, you know. Start with a block or two, persevere, and you have something to give away! 

Check out what other ROW80 writers are doing HERE or on our Facebook page. Why not join in?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday ROW80: Poised to leap!

Sunday morning. First cherry blossom on just one branch outside my window. Buds beginning to unfold into leaves. I feel as if I'm poised to leap -- into something entirely different, my own season of change.

Maybe my reaction is inspired by this morning's e-mail from one of my beta readers that challenges me to rethink the opening chapter, and I'm a little afraid to dive in too soon. Poised to leap . . . and yet, not ready. But I can make a list of goals for the coming week.

Round 2, Week 3: This week’s goals:

--WRITING: Work on revisions from betas for Rivers of Stone -- after taking this week off. Draft supplemental materials (map, afterword, review list of characters, bibliography). Draft ideas for prequel, sequel (giveaway for newsletter subscribers). Plan newsletter schedule and contents.

--BLOGGING: Writing blog 1x/week, ROW80 2x/week. 

--MARKETING:  1) Map out events for June launch (party, promotions, readings, book clubs). 2) Request early reviews. 3) Review ACX resources on how to market audio books. 4) Amazon: Set up pre-order? 5) Continue to experiment and evaluate different ways to market my books.

--READING: 3 more chapters in James Scott Bell, Marketing for People Who Hate Marketing. Write 1 review/month of indie author.

ONLINE COMMUNITIES: Read ROW80/IWSG: minimum of 6x/week. Discussion of Chapter by Chapter begins May 17 on GoodReads. Rethink how I participate in GoodReads and Twitter.

DECLUTTER/OTHER: Get E-mail under 200. Write narrator for audio book, Years of Stone. Send Mike Faricy thank you note because he modeled how to interact with readers. Quilt. 

What about last week? Lots of last week's goals turned to blue -- Done! Including that big one of sending out Rivers of Stone to those beta readers. So I'm trying to look forward, analyze, prepare, and map out what's next. Those goals highlighted in bold above will be my priority in the coming week. I hope.

Resource for blogging? John Fox at BookFox wrote "50 Good Questions to Ask an Author" -- on the premise that many questions are used over and over. I'm not quite ready to think about author interviews, but his first question prompted a post on my own Writing Blog: John asked, "What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?" I want to say -- so many!

Check out what other ROW80 writers are doing HERE or on Facebook HERE. And have a great week!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

ROW80 Weds Check-in: Celebrate Spring!

The yellow-headed blackbirds have arrived. We had our first sighting today as we walked by the wetlands near our apartment. Lovely. Now we can watch as the yellow-heads fight with the red-winged blackbirds over who controls the pond. Ah, control issues in nature?

This week has been fairly intense so far, with two marketing promotions I was (note was) quite excited about. One through Amazon for Sponsored Product (4,300 impressions, 3 clicks, cost $0.42), and the other through Google Express ads (42,000 impressions, 25 clicks, cost after 5 days, $7.20). No Kindle or paperback sales for either promotion. 

So, my question remains: How do I increase visibility without sounding like a door-to-door sales person? So much advice. So many choices. That's why I'm reading James Scott Bell this week and next.

My writing buddy, Annette Drake, published a lovely cozy story about a woman who decides to refurbish an antebellum mansion in Missouri (my grandfather grew up there and always called Missouri, miz-rey before he ran away to Wyoming to become a cowboy). 

Building Celebration House features a few ghosts and is informed with neat details drawn from nursing, Civil War buffs, and an insider's view of how to run an event center. But, her book is invisible. For certain readers who love cozy stories about strong women, this book shouldn't be invisible. 

So we're going to continue to scrutinize various marketing ploys to see what works (and I'll share info here). By the way, kudos to Annette, as BookBub just approved her promotion for May 7.

Now, here's the progress for Week 2 through Weds:

RED = top priorityGreen = in progress, and Blue = Done, Done, Done!

Wish I had better news to report, but there's still the rest of the week to go. My favorite quote this week (so far): "Writer's block is an indication of a larger plot or story structure issue -- step back and reevaluate." Brian Mercer

Check out what other ROW80 writers are doing HERE or on Facebook HERE. And have a great week!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

ROW80: Sunday check-in Celebration

That new cover came in for Rivers of Stone. early this Friday morning. You know I was excited and happy. It took courage to say, "Yes, I will finish the book, so it's time to order the cover." And Angie has changed her process a bit, so I had to select the cover image. 

The new cover matches the overall design of Books 1 and 2 in my series (scroll down to see covers on the right side of this page to see if you agree). 

I love the way the wilderness of the 1840s is reflected in this pic of the Athabasca River in the Canadian Rockies. Angie Zambrano of has done a wonderful job on all three of my covers.

That new cover was just the inspiration I needed to send out my first author newsletter in two years. Have you signed up for my newsletter? I can promise it will not be sent out very often! Click HERE if you'd like to receive that very occasional alert about new releases, giveaways, etc.

Any challenges? I still have maybe another week of revising to do before Rivers of Stone is ready for my beta readers. Goal? To send final copy to beta readers no later than May 1.

RED = top priority, Green = in progress, and Blue = Done, Done, Done!

Other challenges? If I'm to keep to schedule and launch by late June (for summer reading marathons), I've got a lot of wrap-around work to do as an indie writer (publishing, marketing plan and media kit, schedule, and launch party). 

My F2F writing group (thank you, Annette, Sandy, and Sue), has been wonderful with critical feedback that keeps me focused through these final edits -- at least until beta comments come back.

Is the rest of my life in balance? Well, that dratted cold is finally gone. I'm resuming exercise (swimming 3x/week), and still quilting. Daily walks bring the smells of spring close. Today we saw hyacinths and tulips and early azaleas.

Looks like ROW80 on Facebook will take off with a few more activities. Check out what we're up on Facebook or on ROW80's website and consider joining in -- if you haven't already. 

Make it a good week, one day at a time. Oh, yes, and take time to smell those spring flowers.

May is the time of Lilacs (Manito Park 2016)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

ROW80: Wednesday Already?

Time to check in already? This will definitely be short and sweet. Got a few things done, but that darn list is getting longer. I'm  hoping to see better progress by Sunday. 

Monday's surprise was a five-minute flurry of snow. In April?? Here's today's update:

  • I feel like I'm holding my breath, waiting for the new cover to come in. Due date: this Friday.  
  • The Amazon Sponsored Ad (ends tomorrow) was an interesting experiment. Over 4,000 impressions (where my little ad appeared), but only 2 clicks through for a total cost of .25c. No actual sales, though the final data will come in about 3 days after the ad ends. I did like the reporting system.
  • Two ideas found online on ways to reach readers: Post random chapters from your books right on your blog.Offer a novella or short story when readers sign up for your newsletter. That's a good idea, though I don't have a novella exactly right now. Maybe that's what I can work on while waiting for those beta comments.
Have a great week! Check out what other ROW80 writers are doing this week HERE or on FaceBook HERE

And here's a meme for writers from Sandy Brown Jensen, posted on Flickr back in 2014:

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Row80: Sunday, Sunny Sunday

Good morning, ROW80. Since revamping how I track weekly goals last Weds to show priority and status by color, checking in for  ROW80's 2x weekly posts is much, much easier. 

My schedule-at-a-glance: 

Now, right under this weekly schedule, I add weekly goals (RED = high priority/not done yet, GREEN = in progress, and BLUE = Done). Each day, I also add a summary of what's going on (notes, questions, etc.). Here is this week's progress: 
This week, I'm most excited that all 4 beta readers (writers I know and trust) have responded with a "Yes!" Somehow, keeping those weekly goals right in front of me enabled me to work on those marketing action steps that tend to fall to the bottom of the list.

About the new cover. I'd like to have a face on the cover since the characters move the story -- but, covers that feature people in varying states of dress or missing body parts (you know, the body of a woman in a revealing gown with her head cut off), lean to romantic historical fiction. 

Covers for fiction by writers like Rutherfurd and Follett tend to show historical scenes on their covers, rather than people.  

So I've asked for a cover that will fit in with Books 1-2 (see right sidebar). But just maybe, by the end of the year, I'm thinking new covers for a boxed set that will feature the main characters for all three books.  

What do you think of this strategy?

And that's the news this Sunday. A new week beckons with potential, deadlines, goals, and writing. Mike Faricy continues to inspire me to rethink that newsletter and how to reach out to readers. Expect more progress this week on that newsletter!  OK, have YOU signed up for my newsletter?

May you have a good week.

Heartfelt thanks to Eden and Shan Jeniah for all the work they do behind the scenes to make ROW80 happen. Join in (if you haven't yet), and check out what other ROW80 writers are doing this week HERE or on FaceBook HERE.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

ROW80: Wedsnesday maybe?

I always feel a bit rushed by reporting in to ROW80 on Wednesdays, but maybe I just need a slightly different system. 
So, here goes. 

I keep a Daily Work Log to track writing progress, etc. Now, I'm adding a Weekly goals list. Here's this week's schedule and weekly goals list. I post a daily journal entry underneath.
Here, red means I really want to complete this action step.

Meanwhile, I'm still celebrating being ready to send off Rivers of Stone to beta readers and starting on the copyediting (book blurb, cover, ad copy). Wrote about this for IWSG's monthly post on my writing blog HERE.

The other exciting step I'm taking this week (and the rest of this month) is experimenting with online ads. A writing friend will post her FaceBook ad this month and will report her results. I'm running a ten-day 'Key Word Sponsored' ad through Amazon. Stats lag by three days, so we'll see how the overall promotion goes. But as I did research, I discovered Google Express Ads and learned I can target by location -- anywhere in the world! That opens a new promotion for Years of Stone set in Australia, but I want to run only ONE promo at a time so I can see what works.  

My F2F writing group only meets 2x this month instead of weekly. I learn from their wip as well as their comments and the simple process of reading aloud. I'll take the last chapter of ROS next time we meet.

For inspiration? My dear hubby showed me the opening lines of the book he's currently reading. Michael Chabon's Moonglow. He does that when he's truly hooked. Now, so am I, though I'm more likely to read Patricia Cornwell's Blow Fly (on my towering TBR pile).

Another bit of inspiration came this week from Mike Faricy, author of the very gritty Bobby Custer (amoral attorney at large), novels. I wrote him about the books and received a very nice personal e-mail back. So I joined his newsletter. Wow! That first newsletter was so personal and fun that it made me rethink what I write about on my blog AND in my own newsletters. So, inspiration can arrive when least expected.

And that's the news this Weds from the wilds of Spokane. May you have a good week. Check out what other ROW80 writers are doing this week HERE or on FaceBook HERE

Sunday, April 2, 2017

ROW80: Spring has sprung!

Each morning begins with writing. Now it's Sunday night after a sunny, warmish day. For those intrepid followers of ROW80, the online writing community that knows we writers have a life, we're on to Round 2. 

First, set goals that are measurable, then report in twice weekly. 

My ROUND 02 goals (so far):

  • WRITING: Write 6x/week on current project, Rivers of Stone (1840s historical fiction set in Canada). Send beta out x2 by April 30. Meet weekly w/writers' group. Work on ROS book blurb and cover. Begin to draft wrap around materials (afterword, notes, bibliography?, and links). Overall goal: Publish Rivers of Stone by the end of summer.
  • MARKETING: Jump start that marketing plan and media kit. Complete 2-3 action steps each week. Send newsletter by April 15. 
  • BLOGGING: Post ROW80/weekly on Sunday, Writing blog weekly, and IWSG on Weds, April 5. 
PROGRESS March 27-April 2:
  • WRITING: Actually finished revisions of Rivers of Stone. Now reworking those crucial last three chapters. Just once more. Key question: Does the ending tie together all those loose threads? Will it satisfy the readers?
  • MARKETING: Listened to Joanna Penn's weekly podcast on Amazon marketing. Took LOTS of notes. Began researching key words in my genre. Working my way through Shelley Hitz and Heather Hart's Building a Book Marketing Plan for Authors (
  • BLOGGING: So far, so good. Some notes for IWSG already. I decided not to participate in the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year . . . because I want to focus on my primary writing goals.
Now here's the real deal: Being a part of A Round of Words in 80 Days keeps me focused and motivated. Schedules help. Positive self-talk helps. Digging into my work critically and figuring out what needs to be done next is woven throughout ROW80. Thank you for reading, writing, participating, and for those words of encouragement. Sometimes my best lessons come from your own honest assessment of what's going on with your writing!

May Round 2 be good to you all!

OK, just maybe I'm past editing, revising, and
editing and editing that first draft . . .