Wednesday, August 30, 2017

ROW80 Weds Check-in: Beginnings!

Grump and groan. You've heard it all before. I sit in comfort, relatively cool from the outside nearly-September temp at 93F today (with 97F by Saturday).

Harvey's filled the news in a steady stream of flood disaster. After nearly a week of headlines about Houston, the front page of our local paper this morning featured nuclear disaster. Why not worry about that too? After all, aren't we all on the west coast possibly a prime target?

But the story in Houston keeps getting grimmer as the body count rises. Dramatic tales of rescue. Crowded shelters. And this is just the beginning, as it may well be months before people can return to their homes. I still remember the smell of mold in the basement of a New Orleans library several months after Katrina. At least we have generous first responders, all those volunteers, and the military coming together to help, and money/supplies are pouring in from everywhere.

American Alligator (Wikipedia)
Today's FaceBook funny/not-so-funny: Overworked firemen dropped the f-bomb when they spotted an alligator that turned out to be a life-sized lawn ornament! Turns out a local alligator farm owner is worried that his 350 alligators may ESCAPE during the flooding. As my mother would say, "Oofta!"

Midweek check-in for ROW80, Round 3, Week 9. 

WRITING: Finished 5 Chapters for Rivers of Stone since Sunday. Which means: TA-DA! The final revisions for ROS are complete, and I'm ready to format!!!!  Which also means I'm right on schedule for putting this puppy out before fall turns to winter.

BLOGGING: Interviewed Chris Loehmer Kincaid's about her lovely Where the Sky Meets the Sand on my Writing blog. Read x3 other ROW80 posts so far.

MARKETING: I was playing around with video storytelling as part of Diane Wakeman's 5-day Biz Challenge. The idea is to make videos (very short) and put them up on Instagram (a new venue that's foreign to me), so I'm using PowerPoint and Youtube. Not sure this is a good idea for me, but here's the first day's video:

My month-long promo of offering Standing Stones and Years of Stone (Books 1 and 2 of the McDonnell clan) for 99c (usually $3.99) kicked off officially today through MyBookCave. I'd also like to try BookBot Bill later this week.

OTHER: So what am I doing for fun? We had our first getaway in months. Went for an overnight trip to a waterpark in Idaho. Splashed in the water like kids. Ate out. Left just in time to avoid a tragic fire destroying a historic hotel. A friend donated lots of fabric for comfort quilts; I think I have enough for sewing through the winter. I'm doing just fine on diet and exercise. Tomorrow, that mystery quilt goes to its new home.

I still don't have a clue what to write about next now the BIG project moves into formatting, but maybe one of our ROW80 writers will have something inspiring going on. I'd love to write something light, happy, and romantic. I think we all need more light in our lives.

Have a great week. Check out what's happening on the ROW80 WEBSITE or on FACEBOOK!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sun ROW80: Forward ho!

Hooray for the internet. Kidney #1 left town with 20 pounds of peaches ready to can. I checked my small-print cookbook to find some 30 pages of advice. Then jumped on Google to find a handy-dandy how-to in under 10 pages. With pictures! The result - 5 nice quarts of peaches, canned and ready for winter!

So it's been a pretty amazing week as we ROW80 writers head to the end of August with 21 more days left for Round 3. Here's my weekly update (far from political or tropical storms, though we're tracking the devastation along the Texas coast closely):

Round 3, Week 8: ROW80 Goals, Progress, and What's Next:

WRITING Goals: Revise 5 chapters Sec03. Actually revised 13 chapters this week -- and started on the last section. Only 5 chapters to go for the coming week to actually finish the revisions for Rivers of Stone. Wow! I'm excited. Writer's group meets Thursday, and after 3 years of work, I just may be ready to start formatting and sending out review copies.

BLOGGING Goals:  Post x2. Report in for ROW80 Weds & Sunday. Read other ROW80 posts x6. Set up topics for coming week on Writing blog. Posted ROW80 x2, read other ROW80 writers x7, and have topics x2 for my Writing blog. Also posted a short take on our visit to the Vietnam War Traveling Memorial. Next week? Looking forward to a writer's interview (Chris Kincaid) for the Writing blog, timed just before her September 1 release. Also, the Insecure Writer's Support Group post deadline is Weds, September 6. My goal for the rest of the month is 1x each week for the writing blog.

READ and REVIEW: Reviewed Chris Kincaid's moving Where the Sky Meets the Sand, a novel about a young woman who is transformed by a trip to Africa. Have two library books to read: The Nazi Officer's Wife by Edith Hahn Beer, and The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan (about the Dust Bowl). Allen thinks my next book will come out of the Dust Bowl. I'm less certain, though my grandmother left Oklahoma as a teen roughly at the time of the Dust Bowl. Overall, I wanted to read 20 books this month, but so far have finished only 11.

 Later this week, my promo on MyBookCave will go live, so I'm trying to learn what wrap-around activities are best.

OTHER: Still doing pretty good on changing how I think about food (and how I eat). Found a lovely exercise class that feels like boot camp, and I love it! Goal to exercise x4 times this week. Actually x5. Spent this morning visiting with a friend to sort out donated material for comfort quilts. Now I have about 5 projects going.

Thank YOU, ROW80 facilitators: Shanjeniah and Eden. Hope the coming week is a good one for you. If you are reading this, why not check out what other ROW80 writers are writing and talking about on the WEBSITE or on FACEBOOK.
My next quilting project (Aug 2017)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Weds ROW80 Perseverance furthers . . .

As we move to the end of summer, cooler weather promises fewer distractions, yes? This week has been a doozy with DH scheduled TODAY for a procedure that puts me in the waiting room for 3 hours. I really don't want to be anywhere else and have notebook, Kindle, and latest quilt to bind for company. So, here's the midweek update.

ROW80: Round 3, Week 8:

WRITING: Goal this week: Revise 5 more chapters of Rivers of Stone. So far? Finished 5 chapters (2 early this morning), so anything more is gravy.  Now 68% done with Section 03. Thinking about the more problematic next section. My question about character arcs: How far does a character have to fall before pulling herself up out of the depths to that sometimes hard to achieve 'happy every after' ending?

READING: Doing a little better reading x3 posts so far by other ROW80 writers (goal this week x6). Finished Suzanne Brockmann's Some Kind of Hero, a rather fun read about a romance writer who falls for a Navy SEAL when his daughter goes missing. Pure entertainment. Fast-paced. Nearly finished (89%) with Chris Loehmer Kincaid's moving When the Sky Meets the Sand.

MARKETING: Finally, finally decided to put Standing Stones on an end-of-summer sale discount to 99c and, thunder fingers that I am, accidentally changed Years of Stone to 99c as well! So created a graphic promo, announced it on FB and Twitter. This is all prep for running a promo to new readers through Book Brag and My Book Cave (more about how all that works later). I'm back now to plan, schedule, carry out, evaluate, and recalibrate!
OTHER: Finished that mystery quilt. Now binding a comfort quilt with a steam-punk theme. House is relatively clean. I'm using SparkPeople to track weight, nutrition, and exercise goals. I even had salad for breakfast this week. Making reasonable progress. Actually, I'm not so worried about progress as in changing how I eat and what I eat (for now, that just means no sugar, no goodies -- and work on portion control). As they say, my goal is to live forever, and so far, so good!

The rest of the week looks much calmer than today. I hope the sun shines bright where you are and that you find all those words to flesh out your story. And why not check out what other ROW80 writers are writing and talking about on the WEBSITE or on FACEBOOK. Make it a good week!

Summer at Manito Park (2017)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

ROW80 Sunday Summer Check-in

This week was fairly intense with babysitting from 5:30 to 11 pm for 3 nights. I love my grands, but they can tire me out! Favorite moment? See mud pie party below.

This week, I spotted a letter to Ann Landers (not the right name, but you know what I mean), which talked about the sadness in getting older. Not just the loss of friends or being left out of family events, but that slow realization that we just can't do every day what we once did without thinking. I've noticed recently that some of those TV newscasters look about 12 years old! But I do worry about my husband's health and hope each day he will improve just enough to enjoy the time we have together. Perhaps this is why I can't quite achieve every goal each week, but I appreciate ROW80's routine that keeps me focused and connected.

Looks like our week of cooler weather is heading back to mid-90's tomorrow. Luckily I do get up very early, so I'm ready to make good progress in the coming week.

ROW80: Round 3: Week 7 - 8
WRITING. Revising Section 03 (20 Chapters/30K words). Goal by Sunday: Complete 5 chapters. Completed 8 chapters so 8/20 = 42% done with this section. Not as much progress in reviewing Section 04 in writer's group as we haven't met this week. Next week: Same goals. Minimum of 5 chapters of Sec03, with Sec04 postponed to the last week of the month.

WRITING PROJECTS: Finished the Call for Submissions form for SASP's website for our Anthology. Late on getting info on next month's speaker, but sent questions and will hope for the best. Next week: No other writing projects pending. Send PR on September speaker by 8/30.

MARKETING: No real progress other than those 3 poems submitted to a local library for its anthology. Meeting re possible presentation has been moved again. Next week: Make calendar and, most important, make decision about putting Standing Stones on perma-bargain. Considering MyBookCave for promo.

BLOGGING/READING: Currently reading Suzanne Brockmann's Some Kind of Hero (quirky writer meets hot SEAL whose daughter goes missing). Pure escape. I'm also trying to read a book by an indie writer with the goal to review before month end. Making no progress yet with blogging, and I keep falling behind on what others have posted for ROW80. Can I blame summer? Next week: Read that indie book. Write the review. Make a schedule for blogging. Read at least 6 other ROW80 posts.

OTHER: Still binding that mystery quilt. Goal to finish this coming week. Then I shall share a picture! The other major challenge I've set is to increase exercise to 4x/week (this week accomplished 5x), and to revamp my diet (more fruits/veggies, no sugar). Many of the changes suggested by The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet (whole wheat, grains) I've already made. So far, I'm holding steady and making progress. 

Here's that picture of the littlest grand I promised. Why not check out what other ROW80 folks are doing on the WEBSITE or on FACEBOOK. And have a great week!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

ROW80: Back on schedule . . .

You know that sinking feeling when disaster strikes? There I was, computer keyboard humming away, ready to write and revise. I opened up Section 03 of the current revision-in-progress to find five chapters missing. Let's just say blessings for back-ups and double back-ups. In under ten minutes, I was back at work.

So in the spirit of Wednesday, here is where I am with goals for the coming week:

ROW80: Round 3: Week 7

WRITING. Just starting revisions for Section 03 (20 Chapters/30K words). Goal by Sunday: Complete 5 chapters. Reviewing Section 04 (the last one!) in writers' group.

WRITING PROJECTS: Just burned way too many hours putting a proposal together to indie publish an anthology for our local writers' group. I'm figuring 30-40 contributors, 200 pages +/-, with graphics, and publish by mid-November. Proposal approved by board. Next: Call for Submissions form and promo.

MARKETING: Does it count that I handed out 6 bookmarks? I also am in the middle of setting up a presentation for another writing group. Did submit 3 poems to a local library for its anthology.

READING: Have read 8/20 books so far this month. Reviewed Lee Goldberg's The Walk about a somewhat sedentary white collar professional who tries to walk home after a devastating earthquake hits Los Angeles. I really liked the story, its many surprising twists, not the least being how the experience tested his integrity and core values. Of course, we did live in mid-Wilshire for five years -- without a car.

DECLUTTERING INSIDE AND OUT: Oh, was I efficient in this category. Maybe another form of procrastination. My e-mail is slimmed down considerably, I recycled through a foot-high stack of files, and got rid of (donated) a pile of cords and electronic gizmos I will never use. My goal to avoid diabetes has shifted into high gear after a nasty blood sugar test. If anyone is in a similar situation, consider The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet (available at most libraries and online). This book (with its positive tone and very specific steps) is transforming how I think about what I eat. Who could imagine salad for breakfast?

The last few days, temperatures have eased into the 80s, a very short bit of rain cleared out the smoke from nearby forest fires, so all seems possible once again.  Thank you, A Round of Words for 80 Days, for just being inspirational.

Why not check out what other folks are doing on the WEBSITE or on FACEBOOK. And have a great week!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

ROW80: Not quite normal

Was I the only one who woke up early this morning about 5 am, wondering if today's news would bring word of a nuclear explosion here or over there? And if a war came, how much would it change our world, our interconnected communities, our sense of balance. And so I remember those wars within my memory, the Korean War, Vietnam, Afghanistan.

My projects and progress seem quite small.

Yet today is Wednesday. Time to check in with A Round of Words in 80 Days. See what others are doing here or on our Facebook page. Why not join in?

Half-way through Week 6: August 7-13.

1. WRITING goal: Finish 5 chapters. Finished revising 7 chapters of Rivers of Stone this week so far. Beginning Chapter 45 tomorrow morning (I hope). That's 63% complete (44 of 70 chapters).
2. BLOGGING. Today, here. Maybe on the writing blog later this week. Did read 7x other posts so far.
3. OTHER PROJECTS: Worked on Spokane Authors project (2017 Anthology). Fascinating mix of creative stuff and then all the organizing needed around a timeline (volunteers, job descriptions, submission guidelines, releases, graphics, formatting).

Wednesday is also the day to share a snippet of what's in progress, inspired by WIPpet Wednesday, a small group of writers who share snippets of work in progress. So here are 3 paragraphs (since we are in the 3rd quarter of the year), from that chapter in Rivers of Stone when Cat finds her friend lost in the snow:

     When Cat came out from securing the barn, she faced a wall of snow. The blizzard had strengthened. She could hardly see the trading post, less than a hundred feet away. She heard a low cry. Was that an animal? Someone in distress? She took a few steps away from the protection of the barn, one hand on the fence that led to the fields.
     There. Again. Someone cried out, “Help!”
     Cat kept her hand on the fence as she worked her way towards the cry. She found Pete slumped over on the ground. His breath came slowly, as if it were caught in his chest. 

I really have no other words tonight. The picture of Mount Hood reminds me we are surrounded by beauty. Maybe that is enough.

Mount Hood (July 2017)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

ROW80: Sunday night special . . .

Why am I drawn to suspense this week? Weird dreams could be attributed to the weather -- still hot, and smoky air blowing over Spokane from forest fires. Our air quality hit 'hazardous' a few times this week (worse than Beijing). I honestly don't know which is better, these stinking hot summers or knee-deep-in-snow winters. Or Oregon's more moderate temperatures but constant rain from about October to May. Sigh. But I'm happiest about steady progress on the writing and feeling almost recovered from that stint of immersion babysitting.

Round 3, Week 5: July 30 - August 6 progress:

1. WRITING. Revised 10 chapters this week. Consolidated one chapter so up to chapter 38 out of 66 (OK so a percentage makes me feel good: 58% completed). Also started feeding last section to my small writer's group. Also writing chapter summaries as I go. Feeling good about steady progress.

2. BLOGGING. Posted "I Hate Tailgaters" for Insecure Writer's Study Group on my writing blog to respond to their question for the month: "What peeves you when reading/writing/editing?" Check out the post HERE. Working on a plan for better blogging. Posted 3x this week (met goal).

3. READING. Goal 25 books for the month. So far 5/25. Just started Rhenna Morgan's Unexpected Eden featuring parallel worlds (Earth and Eden). Finished Lisa Kessler's Moonlight (too x-rated for me) though a mix of jaguar and wolf shape-shifters was interesting. Less interesting was Christina Dodd's Just the Way You Are, a class-based plot with hard-working orphan falling for billionaire passing as the 'butler'. Again, a little x-rated (skipped pages). Doing a little better on reading what others have posted online (x4/6 for the week). Hoping for improvement (tonight and in the coming week). Reviews this week x1. 

4. MARKETING. Discovered MyBookCave, a newsletter for readers and authors that features free/discounted books; they do include x-ratings so you can steer away from the downright erotic (which Bookbub does not). Their newsletter goes out to about 78K subscribers, but is significantly less expensive than BookBub. Their website offers helpful info and online submission guidelines. 

5. OTHER: Visited with a group of would-be writers at a nearby assisted living complex and came away feeling that perhaps I had entertained them a little and inspired them with some new directions. But I'm also humbled by the stories they shared, and the gifts of health and family we share. 

Also proposed our local writer's association publish an anthology (poetry, fiction, nonfiction), with proceeds donated to a local charity. Maybe we'll do this every two years? Has anyone worked on a project like this? Have advice to share? Please comment or e-mail me! Thank you!

Recipe of the week: Ravioli tossed with green beans, spinach, sauteed in garlic chicken bites, mushrooms, and topped with Romano. Chopped veggie salad (that store-bought cabbage-based mix with apples added). Easy. Fast. Delicious. My goal: healthier meals.

Sunday means thinking ahead to the new week. May all your goals be met and the weather not quite as hot where you are. Check in with other ROW80 writers either on FACEBOOK or the WEBSITE.

My Rachel, inspired by Frida (July 2017)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

ROW80: Weds progress

Outside, the temps will be in the high 90s again, with the week ahead looking the same. Inside, I leave the windows open in the early morning, and the breeze smells so fresh. I'm still thankful for air conditioning. Imagine the 1840s when women wore long skirts, had babies at home, and in the summer, no air conditioning.

This week's progress on goals:

1. WRITING. Revised 3 chapters so far. Up to chapter 31 out of 67 (not counting what happens later today). Writing chapter summaries as I go. Feeling good about steady progress.
2. BLOGGING. Posted "I Hate Tailgaters" for Insecure Writer's Study Group on my writing blog to respond to their question for the month: "What peeves you when reading/writing/editing?" Check out the post HERE. Working on a plan for better blogging.
3. READING. Doing a little better on reading what others have written (x3/6 so far for the week). Currently reading Vickie McKeehan's Indigo Fire, a nifty thriller about a family abduction set in the Florida Keys. Reviewed Anne Baines' Hunting Delilah, another thriller about a feisty con artist who discovers a severed head in a freezer. Guess you can see I'm reading escapist genre stuff and loving it.
4. MARKETING. Circling around. No action. Yet.

OTHER: Yesterday was our 42nd anniversary so we celebrated with a movie (Dunkirk) and dinner out at a very nice restaurant called Clover here in Spokane. The waitperson (a kid, really) confided he had only experienced 'fine dining' for two months and was loving it. We loved our dinner too, exquisitely flavored -- from the caprice salmon appetizer, to the scallops with crab ravioli. No room for dessert. I should have taken a picture! Now I'm behind on exercising, diet, and quilting. Aargh. No wonder Wednesdays always feel like I'm behind.

Back to the writing. It is Wednesday, so here's a snippet as Cat, our fearless heroine, makes her way south by York Boat to Red River in Manitoba, 1840s. Yes, she's still disguised as a boy.

     Cat gagged the first time they saw a body. A man had been buried beside the river, but something had dug aside the rocks, and a skeleton gazed out at them.
     "Don't look if it makes you sick," said Pierre.
     “Won’t be the first one you see.” Lambidoux snorted.
     Thurston stopped to shape a rough cross of wood and reburied the remains at the top of the embankment.

Have a great week. May all your goals be met and the weather not quite as hot where you are. Tomorrow I'm teaching a workshop on getting started with writing. Should be fun. Check in with other ROW80 writers either on FACEBOOK or the WEBSITE.

Anyone catch the missing apostrophe???