ROW80: Fourth Quarter Summary

This week has been all about holiday stuff and writing. There were two work parties, which were held during work–the best kind! On the home side, I still need to get stocking stuffers, but otherwise, my Christmas shopping is done, and the last of my gifts arrived from Amazon yesterday. So all I need to do now is wrap them.

I also got the Christmas cards out–hopefully in time for them to arrive on or before Christmas Eve (with the exception of one that goes overseas–they’ll understand). The cards arrived from Shutterfly last week, but I put off sending them because I wanted to do a holiday newsletter, which I haven’t done for the past couple of years.

 

It's hard to believe Isis looked like this when we got her in April--now she's over 80 lbs!

It’s hard to believe Isis looked like this when we got her in April–now she’s over 80 lbs!

I didn’t feel like I got a lot of writing done, at least in words added, because I was doing a lot of editing and deleting, to make the newer stuff fit in with older stuff. (I have new respect for writers who write out of order!) But when I added it up, the new words came out to over 4700! And that’s in addition to those that made up for the ones I cut, which is probably 1000 more.  Let’s not talk about what my house looks like at the moment. 😀

MillionProdWhat I read this week: I wanted to pick up some nonfiction, so I read one of the books from the NaNoWriMo Story Bundle I got last month, Million Dollar Productivity by Kevin J. Anderson. This was fairly short–so you can get back to writing!–but had some good tips. I found it especially interesting how the author manages to write a half million words a year on his fiction while also editing anthologies, doing several cons and workshops a year, and he revises his fiction too. What he does is go on long hikes, and dictates his fiction, then sends it to a typing service,  at times to the tune of over 10,000 words/day!  😯 But most of his tips work for any process, no matter when and where you can write. Recommended!

I am close, but not finished with the novel, and it’s promising to have an exciting end, so I’ll come back to that next week.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: This week marks the end of ROW80 for Round 4, and for the year. Actually, the end falls on Christmas Day, but I normally only post on Sunday, so I’ll give my end-of-round update now. My primary goal was to finish my current WIP and get it to the beta readers. That has not happened, in large part because it just keeps growing larger and more complex. Just this week, I identified three more scenes that need to be added, one of which I wrote this past week, and started another (see note about about writers who write out of order!). My other goal was to write five days out of every week. There are 11-1/2 weeks in 80 days, and I hit this seven weeks. Looking at it monthly looks better: I wrote 21 days in October, 22 in November, and so far 17 in December (and haven’t written yet today as I tend to do more writing at night). I didn’t mention it in my blog, but I also wanted to establish a more regular writing routine and most of all, have more fun with my writing, and I consider both of those a success! So even though I didn’t meet my main objective this Round, I consider it to be one of “failing to success,” as Dean Wesley Smith likes to say. His discussion on that is very worth reading, especially if you want to increase your output and have more fun with your writing.

What about you–how’s your year-end shaping up? If you’re participating in ROW80, how did your round go? Your year? Or heck, even if you don’t do ROW80, how did you do with whatever goals you might have? Have you ever failed to meet a goal, yet still consider it a success? Please share–I’d love to hear from you! And if you celebrate Christmas, have a wonderful one!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

Little Bits Add Up

This has felt like another busy week, even though I was home for most of it.

Monday was my daughter’s 19th birthday, so we took her out to dinner, and celebrated with presents (we’re having cake and family over today, and celebrating my brother’s birthday along with it). We got her a Nintendo Wii U, so of course spent time setting it up and playing.

That pushed paperwork, which is normally my Monday evening duty, off to Tuesday. Paperwork here is not trivial, as my husband and I own two small businesses in addition to my writing business. And the beginning of the month is always busiest for his businesses.

Wednesday, no one had gone to the grocery store, so we ended up going out to dinner–which I didn’t mind, except that it took a good bit of time, and once again, I didn’t get much writing done.

By Thursday, I was getting kind of twitchy. I wanted to write. I had that ending scene all blocked out, was excited about it, and wanted to just get it down, darn it, but I hadn’t had time, kept being pulled in different directions. That night, I retreated into my headphones while DH watched TV so I could make some progress. Yet I didn’t feel like I did, because there were still some lingering paperwork issues providing distraction. On Friday, DH was busy in the garage, but Isis was very insistent that I play tug-a-lamb with her, so not as much got done as I’d have liked. (That’s OK, a puppy’s worth it.)

It's hard to write when this is being shoved into your elbow...

It’s hard to write when this is being shoved into your elbow…

Saturday, having a whole day helped, but my adrenal fatigue was really kicking in and I didn’t feel like I did much, just a bit here, a bit there. I was also still not done with the ending scene, which had been my goal. Darn thing expanded into three scenes! (I consider it a separate scene when it’s a separate unit of conflict, or separated by time or place, which these all were).

Then I looked at my totals. I’d written over 3700 words this week!

A little bit here and a little bit there really does add up. Now if only I could do that with decluttering my house…

What I read this week: I finished Smith’s Monthly #5 (entertaining, as always!) and started a new book Friday night. I’ll have more to say about it when I’m further into it, so will discuss next week.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: My goal for this week was to complete the ending scene, and while I didn’t accomplish that, I did get three other scenes written, so I consider this week a win. I’ve refined the plan for my ending scene, and now can see that it really is limited in time and place, so I think I’m finally there this time. So that’s once again my goal for the week: finish that ending scene. And again, as a bonus, list out what other scenes need to be inserted earlier in the ms.

What about you–ever had one of those weeks when it seemed like very little got done, but when you look back over it, a lot actually did? Can you believe Isis is 55 lbs (my husband got her weighed this week)? O.o  If you’re participating in ROW80, or even if you’re not, how are you doing on whatever goals you may have? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

 

Road Trip for Research

This week has been a busy one. It started out with a research trip, my very first. My current WIP is the first one that hasn’t taken place mostly in my home area, so the first time I’ve needed to travel farther than across town (a twenty-minute drive in Dayton) to personally experience my book’s locale.

So on Sunday, my daughter, one of her friends, and I headed south to Middlesboro, Kentucky, on the north side of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, our primary destination. We arrived to rain and storms, so took it easy at the hotel Sunday night, where I got a good bit of writing in, even with the girls playing computer games in the room. In the morning, we walked out of our hotel to lovely views of fog in the mountains.

Our first day at the park, we took a tour of a restored historic village. Even though this one was occupied in the first half of the twentieth century, it was more on the lines of a pioneer village, with no running water or electricity–great stuff for how my eighteenth century hero would have lived.

Cumberland Gap village

This cabin was inhabited as recently as the 1940s

 

This waterfall began as a tiny spring in the historical village on the mountaintop. Photos do not do its beauty justice.

This waterfall began as a tiny spring in the historical village on the mountaintop. Photos do not do its beauty justice.

Later that afternoon, we trekked across Tennessee to visit the Museum of Appalachia, which was an experience all in itself. That too, gave me some great story ideas–mostly little details that add verisimilitude to our stories. And saw more antiques in one place than I could imagine. So. Much. Stuff. It was overwhelming! But a great place to visit, and a great snapshot of American history and culture, deserving of its association with the Smithsonian.

Then we headed across Norris Dam, which also figures into my WIP, and back to the hotel.

The second day, we took a cave tour. There are 38 known caves in the Cumberland Gap National Park, and we toured just a small part of one of the more well-explored ones, simply called “Gap Cave” now. This one housed soldiers during the Civil War, and has been open to tours since the late nineteenth century.

Civil War soldiers (and people since, before the park took over) left their mark in Gap Cave with carbide lamps and other implements.

Civil War soldiers (and people since, before the park took over) left their mark in Gap Cave with carbide lamps and other implements.

We ended our visit with a trip up to the Pinnacle Overlook, where the curviest and steepest road my old car has ever driven led us to some spectacular views:

Chimney Rock has drawn tourists for centuries, according to a placard nearby. Good to know!

Chimney Rock has drawn tourists for centuries, according to a placard nearby. Good to know!

Middlesboro, from above

Middlesboro, from the Pinnacle Overlook

This one is book cover-worthy!

This one is book cover-worthy!

As much fun as our trip was, I was glad to get back home to this:

I got it... now what?

I got it! Now what?

Then yesterday, my RWA chapter had an all-day retreat, where we did some fun plotty workshops and played a writerly version of Cards Against Humanity, which was great fun. Actually, the whole day was great fun, as always when I’m with a bunch of my writer friends.

What I read this week: Still working on Smith’s Monthly #5. Last week I read the short stories and serial parts, and started the novel. This week, I’m still reading the novel. Lots going on, and it was tiring, so not as much time to read.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I wrote a whole scene in my hotel room, during the two evenings we were in Middlesboro. So mission accomplished! It was not the ending scene, which was what I’d originally planned to write, but another one that sneaked in and needed to be written. Sometimes that happens. Then I got the ending scene sketched out. This week: I’m already started on the ending scene, so the goal is to complete that. As a bonus, I want to list what other scenes need to be added in the middle, because I already know of several.

What about you–if you’re a writer, have you ever taken a research trip? Have you ever been on a writers’ retreat? And whether or not you’re a writer, have you ever visited Cumberland Gap National Park? (If not, you should!) If you’re participating in ROW80, how are you doing–or if not, how are you doing on whatever goals you might have? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

Press Pause, Hit Reset

I used to think New Year’s Eve was a silly thing to celebrate. Mostly, it was Amateur Night for drunks (still is). But as I got older, and got more about setting goals and including a time component to them, I realized there’s something to that changing of the calendar.

PauseIt’s a chance to hit reset, to start over, begin anew with new, or revised goals.

Not resolutions – I don’t do those, as they always seem doomed to failure and fizzle out by mid-February (or March at the latest). But the turning of the calendar gives us a reminder to press pause, evaluate the last calendar, see where we went and what we did–or didn’t do–and then see what we could do this year.

At first glance, it doesn’t seem like I did much with my writing last year. I do formatting, cover design, and print book interior layout for my publisher, Mythical Press. One of my big goals last year was to do this for an anthology that included a Saturn Society short story, as well as works by five of my local writing friends.

Initially, I was supposed to get the materials by May. Due to editorial snafus and who knows what else, I didn’t end up getting the last of the submissions until the end of November. I had the e-book cover already designed and could have busted my butt to get the rest done last month, except I was already committed to other things, like my relative’s e-commerce site (which did get completed, though they’re still tweaking the product descriptions, etc.). Also, it was the holidays, which is hard enough to keep up with…

So that did not get done. I also wanted to get one other novel written, which also did not happen.

But when I look at what did happen, it’s not too bad:

  • Hangar 18: Legacy was finished and published
  • I outlined and wrote 75,000 words on a new Saturn Society novel (my original plan was for something else, which would be finished at this length, but SS novels are long)
  • I won NaNoWriMo with the above (the other 25, 000 words were written before and after November)
  • Took two online workshops
  • Designed cover for the anthology

In addition, I did several things that weren’t on my list:

  • Wrote “Time’s Tempest: The Storm” for the anthology (wasn’t originally on my list, because I wasn’t sure I’d put something in that anthology). “Time’s Tempest” is a Saturn Society story featuring different main characters, though it does tie into novel #3. This is going to eventually be a serial novel, in 7-8 parts, each of which I think will be about 20,000 words – a long short story/short novella.
  • Took an additional workshop
  • Developed new website for Mythical Press
  • Designed six book covers for writing friends
  • Cover designed for the work-in-progress SS novel
  • Wrote 10,000 words on a follow-up “Time’s Tempest” novella

Sometimes we really need to press pause to see how much we really did accomplish.

ROW80Logo175So what’s up for 2014? ROW80 does a nice job of breaking it down into quarters, so we’ll start there.

  • Format, design print cover and interior of anthology for Mythical Press
  • Finish first draft of “Time’s Tempest #2” (about 10,000 more words)
  • Research for Time’s Tempest #3
  • 10,000 words on SS novel #3
  • Finish first draft of Time’s Tempest #3

I’m all for keeping it simple. For this week, that breaks down to:

  • Format anthology for Smashwords upload
  • 2500 words on TT or SS#3
  • Fitness 3-4x

What about you–do you like the figurative hitting reset that comes with a new calendar year? What are your big goals for the year, whether or not you participate in ROW80? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

When the Going Gets Tough, Walk Away, And ROW80

Sometimes, you get stuck on a project. You’ve tried powering through, you’ve tried researching possible solutions, you’ve tried banging your head on the keyboard (or whatever), and you get to a point where the only thing left to do is walk away.

And this can be the best thing to do. I don’t mean permanently, but just take a break and go do something else. Later, I’ll usually come back to the first project with an a-ha solution to whatever was blocking me!

This is something I’ve internalized years ago at the day job (I am a web developer), and it works for other things, too–graphic design projects, sewing, even restoring a car (my husband’s current hobby project). This week, I was reminded that it’s great for the writing, too.

The “something else” we walk away to doesn’t even need to be something entirely different–it can be a different project of the same type. A different web development project, a different part of the garment I’m constructing, a different part of the car in restoration–or a different story.

I didn’t think I could work on two stories at once, but I tried it yesterday, and my wordcount added up fabulously fast!

It might be because the project I switched to is related to the primary project–a short story in the same world, and almost functions as a subplot, so while it was different, it wasn’t too different.

So I met the writing portion of my ROW80 goals by doing something seemingly counterproductive–by walking away.

ROW80Logo175Here’s how the rest went:

  • 12,000 words on WIP: split between 2 WIPs, but I’m calling this one Done!
  • Review video lessons for Promotions workshop first three weeks and take notes: partial–got through 2-1/2 weeks.
  • Refine layout of Shopping Cart page for family member’s web site: Partial–worked on it, but it’s not quite finished.
  • Fitness 4 times, no matter how short: Done!

Here’s what’s up for this week:

  • Finish out NaNoWriMo by writing 11,000 words on either story or both
  • Review remaining lessons for Promotions workshop
  • Finish Shopping Cart and Checkout pages for website
  • Fitness 4 times, even if short
  • Survive Thanksgiving–yes, it’s that time! And yes, I’m hosting, but this won’t be difficult, as my family is small and others contribute.

What about you–have you had to “walk away” from a project lately? Did you come back to it with renewed vigor and ideas? If you’re doing NaNoWriMo, are you on track to hit 50,000 words by Saturday? If you’re in the U.S., what are your plans for Thanksgiving? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

 

How to Tell if Something is Worth Your Time, Fun Fact, and Goals Update

It’s been said many times (including by me) that we don’t find time to write (or do whatever it is that we want to do), we make time. But how can we make time when so often, our days are so full?

One way is to eliminate activities that don’t contribute to the things that are important to us, and when faced with a particular activity, ask whether–and how much–it does contribute.  I might ask myself, does this enhance a relationship? Am I learning something? Is it getting my novel written, or giving me a new/more practiced skill I can use in my day job? If not, I think of how I can eliminate that task, or at least reduce the amount of time I spend there. You can guess where housework falls on that continuum. 😀 Same with much of what’s on TV, or playing level after level of computer games. But taking a break to play Candy Crush for five minutes can be some much-needed downtime. So if you’re trying to eke out a few more minutes here and there for something that’s important to you, see where you can eliminate time spent on something that’s not!

My Town Monday Fun Fact

Wright Flyer IIIEven though I’m posting this on Sunday, many people don’t read until Monday, so I figured why not keep up the My Town Monday Fun Fact? Here’s this week’s: Many people think that the only mobile National Historic Landmark is the San Francisco Cable Cars. Not true! There are others, and one of those is right here in Dayton. It’s the Wright Flyer III, the world’s first practical airplane. Built by Wilbur and Orville Wright in 1905, it’s the first Flyer that could turn, make circles, and fly in the more variable winds we have here in Ohio. And even though it’s a National Historic Landmark, and part of the National Park System, you can see it today: it’s housed at Dayton’s Carillon Historical Park, which is operated by Dayton History, and unaffected by the government shutdown.

ROW80 Goals Update

ROW80Logo175My goals for this past week were:

  • Finish sketching out/outlining first quarter of WIP – Done!
  • Keep up with lessons and homework for Promotions workshop – Done!
  • Refine layout of product listing page and individual product page for web site – Partial
  • Fitness 4 times – No

I am going to keep those same goals this week, and try to outline/sketch out the second quarter of the WIP.

What about you – do you sometimes struggle to find–I mean, make–time for the things that are important to you? Which activities would you like to eliminate? Did you know the Wright Flyer III is a mobile National Historic Landmark? How are you doing on your goals, whatever they may be? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

ROW80 Round 4 Goals, Productivity Tip, and My Town Monday Fun Fact!

ROW80Logo175It’s time to ROW again! And that means it’s time for new writing goals. But first, it occurred to me that a lot of people might not know what ROW80 is, and I write this assuming everyone does know. ROW80 stands for “A Round of Words in 80 Days” and is “the writing challenge that knows you have a life.” What this means, is that unlike other well-known writing challenges like National Novel Writing Month for example, ROW80 is not a one-size-fits-all goal. It’s whatever goal(s) the participant wants to set. The goals don’t need to be words written–they can be revision, planning, promotion… anything! Some participants throw other life goals in as well, like fitness, home organizing, or spending time with family. It’s also perfectly acceptable–encouraged, even–to change our goals as needed. Every Sunday and Wednesday, we post links at the ROW80 Blog and go to each others’ blogs to offer encouragement and support. But even this is flexible–many participants check in only once a week (I just do Sundays), and others only when they have something to report. So if you’re a writer and would like to get in on a great goals group that’s flexible enough to work for your goals, why not check it out?

ROW80 participants have different ways of defining and measuring goals, too. Most will define a set of goals for the whole 80 day Round and just measure progress toward those, but some of us break it down further. I do week-by-week goals. Here are mine for the overall Round:

  • I want to have my Work-in-Progress completely outlined by the end of October, preferably sooner.
  • I’m going to do NaNoWriMo, and I want to get 50,000 more words written on my WIP by the end of November.
  • I’m also taking an online workshop on Promotions that goes for six weeks, and I plan to keep up with that and all the associated homework.
  • I’m going easy in December, because I usually don’t get much done then, but I’d like to get an additional 10,000 words on the WIP.
  • In non-writing goals, I’m adding a product catalog to my family member’s website, so I want to get that done, too.
  • I also want to keep up with fitness activity each week.

My goals for this week:

  • Finish sketching out/outlining first quarter of WIP
  • Keep up with lessons and homework for Promotions workshop, which begins tomorrow
  • Refine layout of product listing page and individual product page for web site
  • Fitness 4 times

Productivity Tip

Something I found that helped immensely in my book planning was timed writing. This will be obvious to some, and it’s something I’ve done before, but I’d forgotten how effective it was. Simply set a timer for as little as five minutes (I’m doing ten minutes) and just write notes. It doesn’t matter what it is, just write. This frees us up from perfectionism and worrying about getting it “just right.” When the timer goes off, stop. Congratulate yourself for getting it done, then go do something else. If you feel like it, do another session later, but no beating yourself up if you don’t! Do sessions of the amount of time you picked for at least a week before increasing the time–and then, increase only by five minutes per week. This has pulled out some great stuff for the scenes I’m sketching out, and I now have a much more interesting beginning planned for my WIP.

Fun My Town Monday Fact

Dayton has its own Walk of Fame! It’s located on the near West Side, right in front of the restored Wright Bros. Cycle Shop, which is part of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Park. There are over a hundred people recognized there–inventors (of course!), authors, artists, entertainers, business people, educators, musicians, athletes, and others who contributed to society. There’s a great Flickr gallery of it here.

What about you? If you’re participating in ROW80, what are your goals this Round? If you’re not, (even if you’re not a writer), do you have any goals you’re working toward? Have you ever tried the timer for writing, or anything else? (I’ve found it’s great for housework, too.) Have you ever visited a Walk of Fame? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

What can you do in 18 minutes?

Get your mind out of the gutter! I don’t mean that! I’m talking about a nonfiction book I read last week.

18minutes18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done
by Peter Bregman was the Kindle Daily Deal one day for $1.99. Finding focus and dealing with distractions are both challenges for me, so I figured what the heck?

There are some pretty good ideas in this book, some of which I’ll put to use right away, others I’ve already been doing. The 18 minutes in the title refers to spending five minutes at the beginning of the day planning what you’re going to do (I already do this), and five minutes at the end of the day going over what you did and are going to do the next day (I do this, too). The other eight minutes are a new concept to me, however. The idea is, once an hour, pause for a minute and take stock of your day. Are you being the person you want to be? Are you focusing on areas that you want to? I’m assuming he only has allowed for eight of these pauses because this book is mostly focused on business (although it does touch on personal life and relationships, too). But I found it an interesting concept.

Another concept I found interesting was that, while most time management books tend to focus on getting all the stuff on your to-do list done, this one instead tells us that we try to do too much – more than anyone can reasonably do in a day – and that we should instead choose five or so areas in our life we want to focus on, and build our to-do lists around those to the extent we can (while acknowledging that there are going to be things we simply have to do).  And get rid of the rest. This is also something I’ve been trying to work on this past year, although I hadn’t thought about it this clearly. It’s why I always put off marketing and promo activities – I simply hate them, and don’t want to do it. The time I accidentally wiped out my to-do list was almost a relief, because I remembered the really important stuff, but most of the marketing stuff simply went away. And I decided I was OK with that, even if it meant I sell fewer books. Because I also decided that I’d rather have fun with my writing than let it become focused on sales, and something I dread.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 is something that can be whatever we want, and for me it’s fun! So here’s how I did this week:

  • Skim/read three chapters in research book – Nope.
  • 1500 words on new ms – Yes!
  • 4 workouts – Yes!

I am just going to shelve the research for now, since it’s not turning out to be very interesting, it’s for a different story than the one I’m working on right now, and I want to focus on that. So I’m raising the bar on wordcount this week, but I again have things going on several evenings, so not too much:

  • 2000 words on new ms
  • 4 workouts

What about you? Found any tips for managing the to-do list lately? Whether or not you did, and whether or not you’re doing ROW80, how did your week go? Please share – I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

Spark Plugs, Executions, Outlines, and a Good Book

What do these seemingly disparate things have in common? I learned something about each this week! Let’s start with the book. Normally, I’d feature this on WANA Wednesday, but I only have one book, and I’m lazy, so…

thepromisedonehighresA couple of weeks ago, real-life writing friends C.D. Hersh released their debut urban fantasy, The Promised One. In the wrong hands, the Turning Stone ring is a powerful weapon for evil. So, when homicide detective Alexi Jordan discovers her uncle has been murdered and his magic ring stolen, she is forced to use her shape-shifting powers to catch the killer. By doing so, she risks the two most important things in her life–her badge and the man she loves.

Rhys Temple always knew that his cop partner, and would-be-girlfriend, Alexi Jordan had a few secrets. He considers that part of her charm. But when she changes into a man, he doesn’t find that as charming. He’ll keep her secret to keep her safe, but he’s not certain he can keep up a relationship–professional or personal.

I am reading The Promised One now, and really enjoying it! What’s especially cool is that it isn’t your typical creature-shapeshifter–in this book, people shift into other people. Very cool, with so many opportunities for things to get interesting! More info on their blog at http://cdhersh.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/book-release-birthday/


So, one thing I learned this week is that it’s still possible to put a new twist on something that’s been done and done and done – in this case, the shapeshifter romance. Other things I learned are:

Another thing I learned is that changing the spark plugs on a ’99 Firebird is a major pain! They are almost impossible to get to. I know this, because my husband was attempting to do this on my old car, that our daughter now drives, and needed my smaller hands to help. We did it, but it wasn’t easy–he even ended up drilling a hole through the wheel well to get an extension socket wrench through to get to the most difficult one!

Third, I learned that six people can be invited to witness an execution in Ohio. Three by the condemned, and three by the victim’s family. Maybe this is obvious to folks who watch a lot of news–I found it in the process of doing research for my work-in-progress.

ROW80Logo175And finally, I’m finding that I don’t need to outline exhaustively to start writing–in fact, this is one excuse I use to procrastinate. I knew this before, but this awesome blog post by Dean Wesley Smith reminded me. If you’re a writer and you haven’t read it, go there. Really. This is the best blog post I’ve read all year! So I didn’t write up the 25 scene cards I’d noted in last week’s ROW80 goals–just made a few more notes, and started writing instead. Nothing major, just 250 words, but hey, it’s a start! Here are the rest of the details:

  • Do the Character Pre-plan Exercise for my antagonist – Done!
  • Work on outline–create 25 cards – not done, but still counting this as a win. See above.

I also started back in on fitness, now that I can walk on the treadmill for more than five minutes without having to stop to cough. Got four workouts in last week! I also picked up some more research materials at the library. I have a bunch of stuff going on this weekend which will require a good bit of prep time, so going easy on the goals this week. So here’s the plan:

  • Skim/read the smaller of the two research books
  • 1500 words on new ms
  • 4 workouts

What about you–what new things have you learned this week? Read any good books lately? If you’re doing ROW80, or just working toward some goals, how are you doing? Let us know in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

What have you learned?

I’m coming up on making another one of my major goals for ROW80, and it’s time to ask myself a basic question that I think is important to ask every now and then: What have I learned?

The first draft of my short story is done. The story itself isn’t; it still needs revision, but close enough. So what have I learned?

  1. I don’t need to outline a short story. I did last summer when I wrote “Time’s Holiday.” Not only did the outlining seem to take forever, but the  story took much longer to write than it should have. So this time, I got an idea and started writing. I worried that the ending wouldn’t come to me and that I’d wind up with a hundred pages of drivel with none in sight. (I have tried to write a novel without an outline, and that’s exactly what happened – only I had six hundred pages of drivel with no ending in sight. I did have fun, though.) But this time, the process worked, and the story’s ending came to me right before I needed it.
  2. 1500 words/week (or 300/day, five days a week), won’t get anything done very quickly, but it will keep things moving forward. I can up this pace – the 2500/week is not unreasonable, and from NaNoWriMo, I know I can do 12,000 words/week. Need to keep working on this after I get the story revisions taken care of.
  3. It doesn’t take long to write 300 or 500 words. Even without an outline, I can get 300 words out in 10-20 minutes.
  4. We don’t need big chunks of time to write – a bunch of little ones will get the job done – see above.
  5. It’s helpful to do some basic research and make some basic decisions up front. I’ve decided to change the setting of my story, so I don’t have to deal with getting the main character from one place to another (which would mess with other things). But the new setting requires research, and that’s going to be the bulk of my revisions. Getting this right up front would have been helpful, and greatly reduced the time needed in revision, but oh well. OTOH, I know better than to do more than minimal research up front. That may work for some people, but for me, it ends up being an excuse to procrastinate getting started writing. I prefer to do most of it after the first draft is written, so I have specific things I can look up.

ROW80Logo175So a lot of learning, and overall, a good week. Here are the details:

  • Design flyer for relative’s small business – Done!
  • Writing: finish short story – Done!
  • Fitness: 5 workouts – partial – got four in

This week, I’m going to keep it simple. I have some boring business stuff on my Weekly Status Report to do, but don’t really want to list that here. I also have stuff going on this coming weekend. So we’ll just stick with:

  • Writing: complete research for short story & and do initial read-through
  • Fitness: 5 workouts

What about you? Whether or not you’re doing ROW80, or whether or not you write, how are you doing with your spring goals? What have they taught you lately? I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.