Sunday, February 18, 2018

ROW80 Sunday Progress and Russians?

This week, I discovered my main character, Sandra Robertson, is a bit of a hiker. It's fun to set her loose on my favorite walks around Edinburgh (Royal Mile and Arthur's Seat). She's also excited to visit Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, as well as local museums and other historic neighborhoods. When we get home, I'm pulling my travel journals and photos!

Even as we close in on leaving Merida (just 2 days left before we hop on that plane back to snowy Spokane), I'm still spending about 2 hours a day on plotting,research, and character development. I've never worked this much on plotting ahead of writing, and am eager to get those 3x5 cards up on my corkboard back home.

Today we walked about 2.5 miles to the artisan's market, hoping to find those crafty gifts for friends back home. As we strolled through the Central Plaza, a troupe of dancers and a puppet master entertained the Sunday crowd.

Folk Dancers, Merida (February 2018)
ROW80 Check-in SUMMARY. Wrote 7/7 days on for a total of 4,131 (goal 2,500) words, most a combination of plotting, research on black market antiquities scandals, and character descriptions for The Seventh Tapestry. Read 7 ROW80 writers (goal 8). Wrote a puppy poem for ROW80 and revised another poem on Merida (history). Did some interesting research on marketing/reviews as part of getting ready to be back home. Didn’t participate in this Weds SNIPpet.

READING THIS WEEK: Yasmine Galenorn’s appealing Legend of the Jade Dragon, single mother of two with witchy tendencies faces disaster with a cursed jade figurine; Libby Howard’s cozy mystery, The Tell All (Locust Point Mystery); and Amy Gamet’s Hero Force (3 book set).

Just a thought about the Russians: My three blogs are hosted by Blogger. One of the features they give us is the ability to look at traffic sources and audience in a global map. I do look at these occasionally, so earlier this week, I was shocked to see 346 hits (views) from Russia on one of my blogs. Why? Even today, I got 126 new hits from Russia. So I'm wondering if this is an anomaly, a glitch in Blogger's tracking program, OR something else. I know technology continues to change . . . but why on earth would my little blog pick up so many views? Anyone else check where their readers/visitors are coming from?

That's it for this week. The week ahead will be busy, intense, full of change. I most likely will not check in on Weds as we'll be heading for the airport about 6am and arriving home (in a different time zone +2 hours) at about 11 pm. So, have a great week and know that I'm thinking about you!

Join in and check out what other ROW80 writers are up to, either on the FACEBOOK group or our WEBSITE.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Weds ROW80: On Puppies and Progress

Mid-week check-ins are difficult. I feel as if I've barely gotten started on the week, and already, I hold myself accountable. This week is no different. More research than writing, though as I read through layers of articles and try different search terms, surprised at what I'm finding, I laugh: You truly cannot make this stuff up!

My story slowly takes shape, and I have hopes that this pre-writing planning will lead to a story that has more structure, even if I STILL haven't exactly figured out who the villains are, where the 'real' action takes place, and who falls in love for that happy-ever-after ending.

CHECK-IN: Not counting today's writing with 750words, on Mon/Tues, I've written 1,350 out of goal 2,500, and read x4 out of x8 for ROW80 this week. Perseverance furthers!

And I wrote the poem.

"Morning Thoughts Before Writing"

Outside this colonial mansion
the morning traffic begins: Trucks rattle by at speed,
tourists jump out of the way. Pedestrians don't have
the right of way here. Pigeons coo, the sound
competing with those drivers who honk
and bluster their way; two cars barrel together
down this street meant for one. I gloss the headlines,
appalled at the misery that awaits us all.
No time for innocent puppies or
little girls who draw ragged red Valentine hearts.
I am yet thankful for your whispered words
this morning. At least we still have love.

Playful Puppy from ROW80
Happy Valentine's Day wherever you are. Have a great week! Join in and check out what other ROW80 writers are up to, either on the FACEBOOK group or our WEBSITE.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

ROW80: Nearly Farewell to Merida

Earlier this week, we were quite excited to once again visit Celestun, a national preserve here in the Yucatan for thousands of flamingos. We walked down a tiny dock to board the small but charming boats, each holding 6 passengers and each with a canopy, looking like out-takes from The African Queen

A elderly, tall man slipped as he stepped from the dock onto the boat. Suddenly, he fell head first into the water and looked likely to slide under the boat. Several men quickly grabbed his feet and pulled him from the water, drenched, his head with contusions, but he was, relatively speaking, all right.

We all sorted quickly into our boats, and the excursion began. Flamingos, cranes, herons, pelicans, and a trip through a large mangrove filled up the rest of the afternoon. But the scene of the man falling remains with me. One moment, all was well. The next, disaster.

Part of the flexibility of ROW80 is that process of sorting through our goals, refining them, measuring our progress, and identifying those smaller steps that seem more achievable and take us closer to achieving our goals. Even when we're on vacation.We have just 11 days left before returning home, and I'm still trying to figure out who plays the villain in my current draft plot.

What I really want is access to a printer so I can print out those research articles I'm finding, mark them up, and resolve the relationships between museums, police, and those who trade in black market art.

So, if an artifact is 'on loan,' apparently some museums don't review provenance as carefully as they do for an outright donation or purchase. Perhaps the size of the museum is a factor. Or dwindling budgets for police departments. I've found stats that say that sales of black market art has grown just in the last five years from several billion to $5-7 billion in 2017. Looting of precious artifacts during war grabs headlines, as do arrests of art gallery owners and auction houses for selling illegal artifacts.

So, I will continue the research and take a lesson from our visit to that preserve for flamingos: One moment all is well. The next moment, disaster.

LAST WEEK'S SUMMARY: Wrote words 5/7 days. Total words = 2,932 (goal 2,500). Continued work on developing the villain character for The Seventh Tapestry. Posted on writing blog: Monthly post on Insecure Writers’ Support Group and poem (Winter in Merida). Reported in for ROW80 Weds & Sun. & read 6x posts.

For the coming week, same goals as above, with one new wrinkle. Focus research on the Museum of Edinburgh (or other Scottish museum) and on Scotland Yard's art crimes unit.

And now for the flamingos!

Celestun (February 2018)

Have a great week! Join in and check out what other ROW80 writers are up to, either on the FACEBOOK group or our WEBSITE.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

ROW80 #9: Weds check-in a little late

Wednesday was a day of confronting the old. We wandered through the Grand Museum of the Mayan World here in Merida for close to four hours, reconnecting what we once knew with a stunning collection of artifacts. My feet may never recover!

The week goes reasonably well (see update below), each day filled with adventures as we explore Merida and surrounds with visiting friends, who go back to the States very early Saturday morning -- leaving us with about one week left here in this truly amazing town.

Progress on GOALS this week (blue = done, purple = in progress, red = not yet!).

  1. Add another 2500 words. Wrote 1,659 new words. Keep working the SNOWFLAKE. Use 750words x5/7 days. 3/7 so far. Participate in Weds WIPpet's snippet. 
  2. Blog 1x Writing blog, 2x ROW80.  Posted Weds. Read others x8. Read x4 so far.
  3. Continue decluttering e-mails and researching my story. 
  4. Write up some of the travel highlights. Not yet.

A word about villains. Allen told me that he doesn't write about villains because he doesn't believe that people are intrinsically evil. I never quite thought about evil that way, so in constructing my current 'bad guy,' I went through an exercise to describe what may have influenced 'evil' behavior from various persons from my own life. I made a rather startling discovery.

When we're children, and something very bad happens, it's like a beast comes out of a closet, and we're terrified. We fall back on fight or flight. We may never understand truly bestial behavior (and I don't particularly want to write about a psychopathic villain).

The act of writing out what may have motivated 'bad' behavior led me to understand the villains I have personally experienced -- actually did suffer from evil in their own lives. In each case, the individual was unable to break the cycle. I came to understand their motivation in a way that transformed them from that ravening beast in the closet, still fearful, to a person with perhaps more than one tragic flaw. They're not quite so scary. And I'm back to drafting my character sketches (hopefully more multi-dimensional for the bad guys), still Step 3 in Randy Ingermanson's SNOWFLAKE.

Have a great week! See you Sunday. Meanwhile, check in with other ROW80 writers on  our FACEBOOK group or our WEBSITE to check in with other ROW80 writers! Here's the picture of the day:

Capstone of funerary chamber, Ek Balam, Puuc style. 
Roughly 3' high, painted limestone.

Detail of black 'ink' drawing of Maize god. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

ROW80 #8: Sunday Update

This week I'm feeling pretty euphoric because each small step seems to open up my story, and I found a real title for my current project. The Seventh Tapestry.

Wrote and shared the story concept with two small groups of writers. This took real courage for the paragraph summary is not a book blurb, but a snapshot of the entire story.

My question: Did the concept seem of interest to readers? One writer said, "I'd like to write this one!" Another suggested readers would fall in love with a quirky female lead. The comments generally affirmed the historical context, and, despite my interest in working on a shorter, less complicated story, I'm committed once again to a hairy, multi-layered story that will involve museums, black markets, and a mysterious tapestry, as well as my heroine, an art intern.

Meanwhile, back at the keyboard, here's a summary of progress this week.

WRITING/BLOGGING: Used words 5/7 days. Total words = 3,555 (goal 2,500). Set a meandering 10K draft aside and on Monday, started work on Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake. Completed 1) Storyline, 2) Expanded Story Summary. Working on 3) Character sketches. Had fun setting up the hero as a descendant of the original McDonnell clan. Now at 7,185 words. Wrote Cenote poem & posted on writing blog. Posted updates for ROW80 Weds & Sun and read posts x8. Met with Merida's writers' group.

OTHER: Cleaned up e-mails from high of 280 down to 85. Found useful strategies from research on romantic thriller and romantic suspense in a quest for lots of conflict AND that happy ending. Actually worked on Marketing Plan but won't do anything until we're home in late February.

GOALS for the coming week (keeping it simple while on the road):
  1. Add another 2500 words. Keep working the SNOWFLAKE. Use 750words x5/7 days. Participate in Weds WIPpet's snippet.
  2. Blog 1x Writing blog, 2x ROW80. Read others x8.
  3. Continue decluttering e-mails and researching my story.
  4. Write up some of the travel highlights.
And CURRENTLY READING The Xibalba Murders (Lyn Hamilton, set in the Yucatan) and Danger Incorporated (Olivia James).

Have a great week! Visit our FACEBOOK group or our WEBSITE to check in with other ROW80 writers! Here's the picture of the day:

House of the 7 Dolls at Dzibilchaltun