Saturday, March 31, 2018

ROW80 Goals for Round 2!

Last day of March. How did this happen so quickly? Is the snow really, really gone?

This weekend's challenge is to post goals for Round Two of A Round of Words in 80 Days, an online writing community that inspires writers to set goals and measure progress -- all while recognizing we have a real life. 

I keep trying to simplify my goals and how to measure and report progress, while actually working to achieve them. Most of the time, I feel pretty good about my writing, though being a somewhat slow writer means that I measure my progress in baby steps. And that some goals kind of simmer. This year, for the very first time, I met with writing friends to set annual goals, kind of the 'big picture'. 


These 'big picture' goals are translated into monthly goals and kept in a Daily Work file where I do report in a diary entry what's been accomplished. So, my goals for ROW80's Round 2 and the new month of April are to:

1. WRITE. The Seventh Tapestry: Complete plotting, character sketches, and begin drafting scenes. Ongoing research. Mothers Don’t Die: Finish revisions. Publish 2018. Maybe: Create boxed set w/new cover for Stones trilogy. Maybe: Work on family history (scan photos, write notes).

2. BLOG. Revamp and post weekly on Writing blog. Post 2x/weekly for ROW80.

3. COMMUNITY & READING. Connect with readers by sending newsletter monthly. Participate actively in ROW80, Insecure Writers Support Group, GoodReads, A-Z April Blogging Challenge, The Internet Writing Workshop. Read x6 books/month. Review x2/month.

4. MARKET. Continue learning and applying new skills, including social media. Learn Instagram. Refine overall marketing plan. Time price break incentives. Identify 2-3 action steps for each month: presentations, readings, ads, launch party, media kit, blog hop, recruit reviewers/reviews. Maybe: Learn how to podcast.

5. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT. Improve writing productivity through daily writing on 750words.com Keep current with writing magazines. Read one writing skills book/month. Currently having lots of fun with James Scott Bell's Just Write (ideas + exercises). Learn how to talk back to my muse (encourage her to think more positively).


May you have a productive and joyous Round 2. Go visit other ROW80 writers to find out their goals for the coming round, either on our FACEBOOK group or our WEBSITE. Thank you, Eden Mabee and Shan Jeniah! And why not jump right in, if you are just thinking about ROW80.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

ROW80: Sleepy Weds.

It's nearly 11 pm, and I'm yawning as I write this, but I'm determined to post this Weds. check-in.

Progress on ROW80 so far this week:

  • WRITING: 1,252 new words out of 2,500 for the week. Worked 2 hours on plot summary. Didn't like the male leaping to the rescue all the time, so switched genders. Now the archivist is a male, and the art crimes cop is a female. Interesting how my thinking about their personalities changed -- once those genders changed! Finally decided on their names. Fooled around with Pinterest, setting up a board for The Seventh Tapestry. This was fun. You can look at the images here. Didn't blog on the writing blog yet this week.
  • COMMUNITY: Only read/commented on 2 ROW80 posts. Really wanted to post snippet for Wednesday's WIPpet, but I'm not exactly writing scenes yet. Attended a poetry reading (and got to read two poems). What a wonderful evening of diverse voices. Still prepping for next week's presentation on audiobooks (research, research!).
  • READING: James Scott Bell, Just Write. Still on Chapter 1 but enjoying the exercises. Perhaps the most useful this week was analyzing a few of my own past major failures to discover what the 'transformative moment' was, how and what I learned. Thinking this way, suggests Bell, brings us closer to understanding [and writing about] our characters -- their internal dynamics, external challenges, and emotional life. Bell, in this first chapter, also talks about meeting reader expectations. After reading Bell, I'm a little less forgiving as a reader, because I want to immerse myself in that story. Belonging to BookBub's daily e-mails is rather like a daily chocolate, almost impossible to resist. This week's download, Jeff Carson's Alive and Killing šŸ˜Š pulled me in from page 1. A father and son out camping are surprised (and shot at) by mysterious men on the trail. Today's mail also brought Asa Maria Bradley's Viking Warrior Rising. How could I not care about the main character and not want to know more after reading her first sentence? That's my goal!
Naya's hands shook as she clipped the last alligator clamp over the electrical wires, short-circuiting the power and the security alarm. "Get it together," she muttered to herself.

  • MARKETING. Messed around a little to set up an account with SOUNDCLOUD, a place to upload PODCASTS (just sound), another goal of mine [someday]. Youtube is sound + video. Does anyone else check Kindle sales? I'm always thrilled when someone buys a book -- like today! Still at the very beginning of planning my launch party. Much more work needed here.
And that's all, folks. Check out what other ROW80 writers are up to, either on the FACEBOOK group or our WEBSITE. Thank you, Eden Mabee and Shan Jeniah! Have a great week, everyone.

Spring flowers are slow to pop out this year. Here
are last April's hyacinths!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

ROW80: Sunday Progress and Brunch

Last Sunday began with a gi-normous list of goals. My plan was to simply update on Wednesday. And then I went to the doctor. Oops. We all have something. My something is simply that I need to learn how to walk without aggravating something called degenerative arthritis in my feet. I did get stuff done. But more slowly than intended. And I had to go shopping for new shoes -- with inserts. Ouch!

So rather than blogging you down with a long list of progress, here's what has been accomplished this week:

  • Wrote 2,163 words since Sunday on plotting, contest entries, synopses, and rewrote bio.
  • Finally received that perfect proof for Rivers of Stone. Luckily I ordered 3 copies so could send one to Historical Novel Society for review and the other to Writer's Digest for self-pubbed contest.
  • Wrote a reflective article, "A Season of Writing" for SASP's newsletter. Prepped for mini-presentation, "Audiobooks: Should I or Shouldn't I" on April 5 with a neat local filmmaker of horror movies.
  • Worked on taxes and nearly finished. Revamped my recording system with Excel (and IRS categories) so I don't go crazy next year.
  • Met with representatives from 5 regional writing groups. We set up a new coordinating group called Connecting Writers. Thank goodness our goal (originally to add another writing conference), is now to promote what we offer throughout our region. Even people on this committee didn't know about all the resources (me included)!
Really regret NOT being able to work more on my plotting AND not posting a snippet for Wednesday's WIPpet. But, next week beckons. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the grands and 6 adults will sit down for brunch about 11 this morning. I'm making Huevos MotuleƱos (breakfast tostada, using Elise Bauer's recipe) and a fruit salad surprise. Wanna drop by?

Huevos MotuleƱos (Elise Bauer)


Festive Pineapple Critter made by quilting buddy for lunch this week (Camp 2018)
Check out what other ROW80 writers are up to, either on the FACEBOOK group or our WEBSITE. Thank you, Eden Mabee and Shan Jeniah! Have a great week, everyone.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sunday: Coffee and Planning, Oh My!

We've been home nearly a month from Mexico. After adjusting to the temperature change (and the reality that I now am cooking again), we're making progress in getting caught up. Not totally, but step-by-step.

I still am hoping to find a way to simplify Wednesday's check-in. This morning, I read Chris Loehmer Kincaid's blog and admired how she set up her goals for the coming week. Thank you, Chris. I'll now post goals/progress on Sunday. Check in with progress on Wednesday. Reboot the next Sunday.

So, forgive the length of this post, but here are my goals overall, with progress for this week noted.  Blue = done. Green = progress. Red = No progress. Strike-through = Seriously pending for now or dropped. [And I can just copy and paste from Word. Hooray!]

WRITING:
·       Write 400 words a day on Seventh Tapestry project, 5 days/week. This week: 1,163.
·       Use 750words 5/days for minimum 2,500 words week.  This week: 5,133.
·       Update Kindle copy (download new file from CreateSpace once PROOF OK).
·       Read 2 writing magazines/week. Read, recycled, gave away 23 writing magazines.
·       Participate in On-line Writing Community: IWW, IWSG, the Hearth on GoodReads, KBoards, WANATribe. 2-4x/week. No progress.
POSSIBLE? Poetry chapbook this year (before July)? Proof/publish Mothers Don’t Die?

BLOGGING:
·       Update my writing blog! See http://annerallen.com/2018/03/5-website-mistakes/
·       Post ROW80 Weds (WIPpet) & Sundays. Done!
·       Post Writing Blog every Tuesday. Done!
·       Read other blogs x6/week. Done! Read/commented x10.

MARKETING:
·       Send March Newsletter.
·       Work 2-3 hours each week on marketing (strategy, action steps). Done! Carry out 2-4 action steps each month. Plan launch party. Pending, some progress.
·       ROS: Enter Writer’s Digest contest by April 1
·       Order ROS copies for sales/Launch Party. Pending (waiting final proof).
·       Send ROS to Historical Novel Society reviewer. Pending (waiting final proof).

SPOKANE AUTHORS
·       April 5: co-host Audio Book presentation. Mapped out presentation.
·       Write articles/do PR for March/April.  Queries sent to presenter.
·       Prep final report Anthology for board.
·       Weekend Workshop: March 27: Planning session. April 3: Board meeting.
·       SECONDARY: Update Anthology description Amazon.

READING:
·       Read 6 books in March. So far, read x6, mostly romantic adventure.
·       Clean up Kindle by deleting books.
·       Review x2 other books.
·       Read 1 writing craft book in March.

OTHER:
·       Declutter e-mail daily (<100).
·       Cook healthy meals; healthy snacks.
·       Exercise 30 min x5/7 days. This week: 6/7.
*    Spend quality time w/family. Quilt.

Because I'm working more on plotting than actually writing, the few scenes I'm writing feel disassociated from the story, more like pre-writing than actually writing. But this coming week's added goal (now that Allen is feeling better) is to finish reviewing the overall plot summary so I can get to work! Next week's goals overall = the same.

May you have a great week -- even if it's an off week!



Check out what other ROW80 writers are up to, either on the FACEBOOK group or our WEBSITE. Thank you, Eden Mabee and Shan Jeniah!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

ROW80 and a Weds WIPpet

I swear that spring is on the way. We still have snow around the edges here in Spokane, but I see buds on the trees and the birds are slowly coming back, though I've only seen red-winged blackbirds, crows, and a flock of wild turkeys. Here's my Weds progress report:

WRITING/BLOGGING: Over 750 words/day so far (plotting, research, planning, writing). Got two checks and another review for Rivers of Stone!  Rethinking my writing blog and have committed to a weekly post that will reach out to my readers. This Tuesday posted The Seventh Tapestry: Arthur's Seat, exploring settings around Edinburgh. That was fun!

OTHER: Did read other ROW80 writers/x4, so far. Goal to write more believable romance elements. Found two great resources: Jax Hunter's "Writing Romance: the Midpoint" (Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers) and a whole section, "The Love Issue" in Writer's Digest (Feb 2018).

Did some research. Two books useful: Eugene Soltes, Why They Do It: Inside the Mind of the White Collar Criminal (interesting case studies about how morality slips step-by-step), and Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo's Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art (lays out relationships between galleries, auction houses, donors, museums, and art crimes). Ian Rankin's series good for background but not quite my genre.

FOR THE COMING WEEK: More writing, more research, some blogging, more work on marketing plan with focus on upgrading/updating my Writing blog website.

And for the first time in a very long time, here's a snippet for WIPpet Wednesday, an excerpt from my very new wip, The Seventh Tapestry.

SCENE: Sandra's office at the Museum has been ransacked, and Thomas, a police officer liaison for the Art Crimes Unit in Edinburgh, assigned to her for the last several months stops by. Formula: 14 sentences (for the day) + 3 (for March) + 1 (for good luck) = 18 sentences.  

Thomas kept telling himself there's no reason to let her know that he liked her and that he wanted her to stay in Edinburgh. He couldn't stop watching her, trying not to stare as she picked over the papers strewn about on the floor in her office.

"Well," she said. "Are you going to help me or watch me work? I can't figure out why someone tossed my office. None of this makes any sense."

"I can get Alex for you."

Sandra shook her head. "If it's all right, you could just help me. Or just stand there. I'd rather not be alone."

He didn't blame her. He felt the same way. He didn't want to leave her alone, but he needed to find out what the team had on whoever broke into her office. He fell back on interrogation mode. "Do you normally lock the door?"

"Always." Sandra grimaced. 


Women's March, Edinburgh 2009 (Camp)
May you have a wonderful week. Persevere with what is closest to your heart.

Check out what other ROW80 writers are up to, either on the FACEBOOK group or our WEBSITE. Thank you, Eden Mabee and Shan Jeniah, for facilitating ROW80 so beautifully!

And why not check out the other WIPpet Wednesday entries and add your own. Just post a bit of your WIP, connect it to the date, and link up with us. Thank you, Emily Wrayburn.


Sunday, March 11, 2018

ROW80: Sunday, Sunday

The snow is melting. The sun is out! No grouching today.

PROGRESS ON GOALS FOR THIS WEEK. OK, slow progress this week. Done! Making some progress. Not even a little. I can't really rate my progress because it's been busy, progress is being made in several very different categories. So it looks like a 'green' week!

1.     WRITING: Used Snowflake and 750words.com to add only 1,125, under goal of  2,500 words. Allen is giving me detailed crit on my plot summary for The Seventh Tapestry. Did not participate in Weds WIPpet's snippet. Worked on research for TAPESTRY with 2 sessions at the library (research) and 2 online. Looking at art crimes, museum scandals, and various other notorious crimes, including a study about why people get mired down in white collar crime (a psychological study).

2. BLOGGING/E-MAIL: Blog 1x Writing blog, 2x ROW80. Read others x4 (under goal of 8). Posted on my writing blog a monthly post for Insecure Writer's Support Group. This month's question was 'How do we celebrate when we complete a writing goal?' Making slow progress in de-cluttering e-mails (if I don't do this every day, they replicate).

3. MARKETING: Worked on Marketing PLAN x3 sessions, but the real sink hole this week was working on formatting for CreateSpace. I literally dropped hours on this Weds/Thurs/Fri (3-4 hours each session), until an writer/editor friend reviewed my code. Hallelujah, brothers and sisters! After Sue's work, the file passed the first hurdle (CreateSpace's dreaded interior reviewer) and will be reviewed next by a 'human' reviewer at CS. So it's hard to make progress on marketing without review copies to send out, but I did discover KBoards' resources and am still working that action list. Really enjoyed participating with 3 other writers at a local reading on Thursday this week -- and sold books! I tend to forget that face-to-face can be fun.

OTHER: Two quilting sessions. Almost done with the binding on one of my favorite comfort quilts. Getting back into the rhythm of exercise (walking, water aerobics), though my foot is still tender. Cooking. Cleaning. Did I say that our little apartment was torn down and put back together when our maintenance people replaced the kitchen, entry, and laundry flooring. Hooray (after 6 years)! And one last grand achievement: got the car in for maintenance. Spring is on the way. Maybe this year, I'll figure out to do with this orphan block!


Have a great writing and reading week. Why not join in and check out what other ROW80 writers are up to, either on the FACEBOOK group or our WEBSITE.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

ROW80 Weds: There's still snow on the ground!

Check-in today will be relatively simple. Even as I shudder to see those storm pictures from back east, I can report that snow is still on the ground here in Spokane, but it's melting!

Source: Wikipedia
WRITING: Steady progress with 750words.com, adding 1,125 by today, out of 2,250 for the week. Working on both character sketches and expanding that plot summary for The Seventh Tapestry. Played around making a draft cover with images from Wikipedia, and I did write one blog for March, Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Really enjoyed some diverse research this week so far: Scottish troops in Afghanistan during the time of the looting of artifacts there as well as looking at what kind of work the Art Crimes Unit does. May change the name of one main character as Thomas sounds a little too British for my Scottish hero.

MARKETING: Haven't made as much progress here, though I'm organizing a binder and still chunking away at defining what's next. GOAL: 5 hours this week. So far, just one hour. Tomorrow, I'm taking books to a reading with 3 writers and will also staff a book table at a craft fair over the weekend with other local writers. Probably the most exciting news is that Rivers of Stone (19th Century Canada) will be listed in the May edition of Historical Fiction Review, and the Historical Novel Society has requested a copy for review. So defining those action steps (and following through) can actually work!

OTHER: Almost back to quilting (lined up two projects to work on). Groceries almost replenished. Spent 6 hours at the emergency room with hubby. All is well. We got meds, a diagnosis, and a referral. Add in a few other meetings, babysitting, an outing to the movies (Game Night, funny plot twists; I'd give it a B), and perhaps it's OK that I didn't get as much done this week as possible.

READING: I forgot to recommend Lucky Bet by Anna Reader. This book sticks in my mind because of its engaging plot, detailed settings of Victorian London, and affirmations of family, honor, integrity, and, of course, love. I'm currently reading William Miller's Noble Man, a complete shift to a thriller/kidnapping/international slave trade context, with hero Nick fighting against evil to save those he cares for. Miller's character descriptions are inspiring. Up next: the highly recommended Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. Opening sentence: "I like to think I know what death is."

May you be cozy and warm for the rest of the week, happy with your accomplishments, with a clear sense of direction, knowing that Daylight Savings Time will be here Sunday! 

Why not join in and check out what other ROW80 writers are up to, either on the FACEBOOK group or our WEBSITE.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

ROW80 Sunday Progress . . . but no dog!

We've been home now for 10 days after two months away at warmer, snow-free Merida. That flight home started at 4:30 am and ended nearly at midnight. I just might be too old to travel like that anymore, for it's taken more than a week to unpack the suitcases, restock that empty refrigerator, and resume somewhat of a normal schedule for the writing. At times, I've been a little overwhelmed with trying to figure out what's next. Did you notice that I didn't report in last Sunday or last Wednesday?

But I'm truly back. More than ready to benefit from the structure that setting goals and reporting in to all of you that ROW80 encourages.

THIS WEEK'S SUMMARY: Used 750word 5/7 days for a total of 2,506 words, barely over my goal of 2,500/week. Didn’t post ROW80 Weds. Did work on setting goals for March. Reworked TAPESTRY plot summary, tightening to 3 pages. Didn’t blog at all. Did declutter e-mail. Set up 2 readings for March and happily discovered new reviews for Rivers of Stone. and thanked the reviewers.

WRITING: Still working Randy Ingermanson's SNOWFLAKE, more slowly than I like. My 'normal' process is writing scenes and jumping around in the story as it unfolds. Randy's process is more linear, but so far, I'm happy with the plot and digging away at backstory for characters. I miss an active F2F writing group, that objective, critical feedback that helps me see my work with new eyes.

MARKETING: I don't have a marketing plan. I haven't even had a launch party for Rivers of Stone. So, my biggest leap forward this week was discovering Nick Thacker's book marketing plan which lays out a step-by-step discussion of the key elements needed. I've put his suggestions into a checklist and am amazed all over again by how much work indie writers do!

My MARKETING goal for the coming week is to complete a working checklist/timeline AND to read 5 marketing articles to polish that new checklist/timeline. One of Nick Thacker's suggestions was to get active on KBoards. Has anyone used KBoards for marketing, visibility, and/or resources?

Snow is on the ground, but the morning seems somehow lighter. Maybe spring is on the way to your house? I hear songbirds. The tips of trees are turning that pre-green yellow. I learned how to make Peruvian Chinese rice. Allen loves it, and the soy sauce is a lot tastier when you cook the rice with it, rather than splashing the soy sauce after the fact. May you have a beautiful week!