Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Aug 3-9, 2014

It appears to be I Fucking Love Science! (IFLS) week again.

This surfing seal is a cutie. Guess what? IFLS.

Remains of extinct giant penguin discovered. My question: how do they know its head looked like that? IFLS.

The headline could have used a little editorial assistance. 60 years after his death, Alan Turing’s morphogens help solve the mystery of how our digits developed. Yup. Moar IFLS.

Second super moon of the summer showed up on August 10. IFLS.

Theoretically, this means of interstellar propulsion could work. Thinking spacey thoughts yet? IFLS.

The Smithsonian answers the question, what happens to your body in space without a space suit?

 

Literary link here: Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander connection with newly discovered neolithic ruins in Scotland. National Geographic.

“Backroads” Bill Steer explores northern Ontario’s dolmen stones. CBC.

We had not one, but two earthquakes in Sudbury on August 5th. One was a 3.8 (!) They’re not frequent, but they’re freaky 🙂

This Shai Reshef guy has a really good idea: accessible, affordable education. TED.

LEGO for science geeks girls! Sure wish I had this kind of stuff when I was a kid. Barbie and her friends had to make do (I dressed them up in “costumes” and made them popsicle stick “swords”—maybe the LEGO ladies wouldn’t have attracted me, after all).

Feed your brain. It’ll give you ideas for teh stories 🙂

Thoughty Thursday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 3-9, 2014

Anne R. Allen explores the good and bad of critique groups.

What’s the most important relationship in your story? K.M. Weiland explores how focusing on this aspect of your story could improve it.

Then Katie continued her blog tour on Janice Hardy’s Fiction University, on finding your character’s breaking point.

And then she continued the tour on Procrastiwriter with, What Jane Eyre can teach us about mind-blowing heroines.

Opening lines (and scenes) are some of the most difficult to write. K.M. Weiland has some suggestions for you in her post about Most Common Writing Mistakes: Boring opening lines. Podcast link included.

SF author Veronica Sicoe writes about opening line madness. See, everyone struggles.

MJ Bush guests on Writers Helping Writers (Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi) on the problem of overly self-aware protagonists.

Then she posted about inner conflict on WritingGeekery.

Casting your novel may seem like frivolous fun, but Fantasy Faction offers five ways it can help improve your story.

Stuck on a scene? Janice Hardy gamifies the work of sorting through scene outcomes on Fiction University.

QueryQuagmire (on Tumblr) offers ten things writers should keep in mind before diving into revisions.

Porter Anderson shares Hugh Howey’s ten counterintuitive tips for self-publishers on Publishing Perspectives.

The Canada Council has denied operational funding to On Spec. Susan MacGregor, On Spec editor and author, explains the situation and offers some options to help. On Spec is a Canadian institution in speculative fiction, and the quality of their fiction, editing, and production, is excellent.

I know this first hand. My SF short story “Downtime” will be appearing in the fall 2014 issue, and Barb Galler-Smith, the editor with whom I worked, was very professional. That the magazine is excellent is not just my opinion, though. On Spec is an award nominated, and award winning publication.

Their Patreon account has now been set up. Go to the On Spec web site for more information.

Why Fifty Shades of Grey has bondage all wrong. Tickld.

Forgotten Dr. Seuss stories and other news from Poets & Writers.

Mashable offers up their list of 22 summer reads.

Ten SF novels that will make you more passionate about science, from io9.

Ursula K. LeGuin talks to Michael Cunningham about genre, gender, and broadening fiction on ElectricLit.

Billy Collins shares two dog poems in this brief TED talk.

 

Wow! That’s a lot of Writerly Goodness.

Enjoy, folks 🙂

Tipsday

Caturday Quickie: Calgary, I am in you

I’ve been waiting to say that for a long time. I’m such a nerd.

To be brief:

Thursday afternoon, Phil and I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy. I may have to post a Mel’s Movie Madness about it. For the future. I enjoyed it thoroughly, however.

Yesterday (Friday), I got up at the ungodly hour of 4 am so I could get out to the airport by 5-ish and catch my 5:55 am flight.

All went well, caught my connection, watched the second Hunger Games en route, and arrived at 10:18 am, on the dot, in Calgary.

My friend, Sharon, offered to pick me up and we went out to lunch before I checked in at the Carriage House Inn and started my marathon of sessions.

I attended 5 of those yesterday, plus the keynote speakers in the evening. I also met, in person, several people I’d only known to this point virtually: Angela Ackerman, Diane Walton, Tim Reynolds, and I reconnected with some fellow writers and publishers: Mark Leslie, Ron Hore, Swati Chavda, and Avery Olive.

I had dinner and lovely conversation with Nina Munteanu, and met a few other writers and editors hanging around outside the hotel. I also saw the wonderful Jack Whyte again, and met Brandon Sanderson in the flesh. Brandon was my fangirl moment of When Words Collide so far.

I’ll be in sessions from 10 am to 6 pm today, and then there is the mass autograph session this evening.

It has been a jam-packed conference so far, but I’m having a blast. Prepare for much bloggage coming out of this 🙂

Also got to see the 2014 In Places Between anthology chapbook. The readings and judging take place tomorrow morning. Will let you know (of course) how “On the Ferry” fares.

I think this may be my only post this weekend, just because WWC is proving to be a very fast-paced event.

In the meantime, I shall wish much you all much Writerly Goodness.

Caturday Quickies

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, July 27-Aug 2, 2014

Science abounds this week.

Astronomers detect a signal 240 Million light years from Earth. IFLS.

More IFLS: Scientists have solved the mystery of the hole at the world’s end. Remember that article I posted a few weeks ago? Well, here’s the explanation.

ASAP science asks, how much sleep do you need?

 

NASA records ambient space music. That’s what ima call it anyway. I think it’s lovely.

 

Neil deGrasse Tyson refutes GMO fear mongering. Mr. Science says the same. Smart guy, my man 😉

 

Wired’s absurd creature of the week is the Satanic Leaf-Tailed Gecko. Personally, I think he’s beautiful.

Kathryn Schulz says a good life is not so much about regretting nothing, but about forgiving yourself for whatever it is you regret. TED.

Another TED talk, this time by Suzanne Talhouk. The Arabic language is in danger. Cultures around the world are trying to preserve their languages. Suzanne hopes to inspire the Middle East to do the same.

Vivek Wadwha predicts that automation will replace human workers more quickly than we’re prepared to handle. How will the world address this trend and what will we do?

Heading off to When Words Collide very early tomorrow morning. I’m still going to try to blog Saturday and Sunday, but you may have to forgive me if I get caught up in the panels, sessions, and workshops.

In other words, I’ll see you when I see you.

Hang tight, my writerly peeps 🙂

Thoughty Thursday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz July 27-Aug 2, 2014

Sorry for the late-ish post. Had to go to Yin practice tonight. Yoga was beginning to think I abandoned her 😉

Roz Morris started her Masterclass for The Guardian. This is the first post in her daily reporting on the queries arising from hre students. Catch all of her snapshots. She’s got a clever bunch there.

Part 3 of K.M. Weiland’s negative character arc series: The negative character arc in the third act. Surprise, surprise!

And here’s more Katie, guest-posting on Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi’s Writers Helping Writers. Five important ways to use symbolism in your story is part of Katie’s ongoing blog tour in honour of her new book: Jane Eyre: Writer’s Digest Annotated Classics. It’s the last day to enter her giveaway! Go get ‘em writing tigers 🙂

And . . . Katie’s Wednesday vlogs return with foreshadowing’s number one job in your story. Welcome back, vlogs! We missed you!

Writer Unboxed is experiencing some technical difficulties so The Tyranny of Motive and The Many Dreams of Writing will have to wait until next week.

Shennandoah Diaz writes about three ways to save your backstory from the cutting room floor on the There are No Rules blog at Writer’s Digest.

Laura Drake shares her tale of tragedy and triumph on Writers in the Storm.

Edits, Editors, Editing. Ruth Harris explores the secret weapon of every successful writer on Anne R. Allen’s blog.

Elif Shafak’s TED talk on the politics of story.

Quentin Cooper asks the question, why is science fiction so hard to define, on the BBC’s Future blog.

Crawford Killian looks at three SF&F writers who break the mould in The Tyee.

21 books that changed science fiction and fantasy forever from io9.

Electric Lit shares a lovely list of supernatural collective nouns. Anyone for a fondle of unicorns (I thought that was a blessing)?

CNN Travel features the world’s coolest bookstores. Ok . . . gotta sop up the drool here.

Enjoy the Writerly Goodness, my peeps. See y’all Thursday.

Tipsday

CanWrite! 2014 wrap post

It’s been a month and a bit of me posting on the weekends, but here we are, at last, at the end of the CanWrite! run.

The CAA Literary Awards Gala

This was held the night of Saturday, June 21st.

The night previous, we’d heard several of the nominees read from their works. All were excellent.

Here’s a post about the award winners.

Mariatu Kamara and Susan McClellandThe highlight of the evening was Keynote speaker, Mariatu Kamara, who, along with Susan McClelland, wrote her harrowing story of survival, resilience, and hope.

Of course, I picked up a copy of the book, The Bite of the Mango, and got it signed by the authors.

It was a night of wonderful stories shared and writerly camaraderie.

Other stuff that happened

The CanWrite! conferences are set up with all sorts of interesting activities.

On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday mornings, there were meditation sessions (which I did not attend), yoga sessions (which I did), and writers’ circles in fiction, poetry, and non-fiction (which I attended last year, but not this), pitch sessions (which I did not participate in), photo sessions (which I participated in last year, but not this), and walking tours (which I opted out of).

In the evenings on Thursday and Friday, there were readings with open mic segments. I read at both, but since the reading time was capped at three minutes, I did not read much 😉

There were workshops on Wednesday, one on fiction, one on poetry, and one on non-fiction. I had initially signed up for the fiction one, but the facilitator had to cancel.

On Wednesday night, there was a wine and cheese reception.

There were also two to four other sessions or workshops held each of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday afternoons which I could not attend without benefit of a time turner 🙂

Finally, there was the book fair. You know what I did there, don’t you?

CanWrite! book purchases

It’s an addiction

Thoughts on conferences and conventions

This brings me to preparing to attend a conference.

First, as with everything else that has to do with writing, you have to do your research.

What kind of conference or convention is it? I’ve attended three CanWrite! Conferences, an Algonkian Pitch conference, the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, an Ad Astra convention, and will be attending When Words Collide next weekend. All of them have been different.

Some conferences are set up as a kind of writers’ retreat with swaths of time for independent writing, group work (by genre – and here I’m talking poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and plays/screenplays), individual assessment (usually by the group facilitator), and social/networking opportunities (dinners, readings, etc.).

Pitch conferences focus almost exclusively on the pitch sessions, with all other workshops serving to prepare the pitchers and their pitches for their sessions.

Most conferences are set up with one-hour or two-hour sessions throughout the day and evening with short breaks in between to address biological imperatives like bathroom visitations and snack purchases. Each time slot will have multiple options for the attendee and reviewing the program ahead of time is of paramount importance. These conferences will also have pitch sessions (for an extra cost), blue pencil sessions (for an extra cost), photo sessions (extra cost), readings, and other social events. There will often be some kind of buffet, or gala dinner. Keynote speakers will be featured after meals, and there will be book launches/signings, after-hours parties, book fairs, and so forth. These are the writerly smorgasbords/marathons that you will have to navigate carefully to avoid utter exhaustion.

Conventions take the conference model and add even more geekery to the mix with LEGO salons, costume balls/masquerades, anime theatres, arts lounges, vendors, astronomy sessions, readings, and karaoke. The convention sessions are primarily panels, however, and not focused workshops, though workshops may be offered for an extra cost. The big reception or gala/keynote dinner will often also be an extra cost.

Conferences are usually expensive, with a fee in the hundreds of dollars. Conventions are nominally priced, but all the extras are on a pay per participate basis. Accommodation and transportation are always additional costs.

Mel’s tips for travel and accommodation: use hotel and travel rewards programs to lessen these expenses, where possible.

So, do your research, decide what you want to do, and go prepared. Most conferences and conventions will have their programs online months in advance, so you can plan what to attend and budget for the experience.

So, CanWrite! is a wrap, just in time for WWC 🙂

Today’s second post will have to be deferred until next weekend. I’m heading out to my sister-in-law’s shortly for a family BBQ.

Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!

The next chapter: July 2014 update

July was much the same as June for me.

I worked primarily on Gerod and the Lions, am still slowly mapping out Figments, and though I did some work on a short story (it’s almost 10K, so not really short, per se) it was revising, and the word count was negative.

July's progress

Total for the month: 17,516 (not quite as high as last month, but still a w00t! in my book)

Total on GatL: 4,821 (again, a little less than last month, but I’m still on track to finish the first draft by year’s end)

Total on blog: 12,695

Thought it might be time for a review of the year to date:

Month Total Blog Initiate of Stone Apprentice of Wind Figments Gerod and the Lions Short Stories
January 11,532 7,114 0 2,781 207 821 609
February 9,789 6,303 0 47 308 1,296 1,835
March 10,781 8,193 0 333 1,488 312 455
April 11,612 10,930 0 0 381 0 301
May 7,503 7,503 0 0 0 0 0
June 18,471 13,425 0 0 0 5,046 0
July 17,516 12,695 0 0 0 4,821 0
YTD Total 87,204 66,163 0 3,161 2,384 12,296 3,200

I must say, I’ve impressed myself. This ain’t bad for a writer with a day job.

It’s a comfort to know that I could convert some or all of those words spent on the blog into other writing projects, even while continuing in my day job. That could be two books a year, and that’s awesome.

Why don’t you do that now, you ask (and well you might). Right now, I’m happy to blog away for the benefit of my readers and writerly friends. Though a platform isn’t required for a publishing deal, it doesn’t hurt. Plus, sharing my struggles, progress, and process, curating and conference/convention reportage is gratifying to me. It seems that I’m sharing material that benefits my network.

It warms my wee heart when people like, comment, reblog, or otherwise share my posts.

The fact that I’m making progress also makes me happy. I don’t want to rush into querying or publication and regret it later.

I have to work the day job at least until Phil and I have our remaining debts paid off. There’s a lot of uncertainty in our lives right now (of which I’ll write tomorrow). Call me a chicken, but I can’t take the risk of quitting at the moment.

If I’m fortunate enough to get a deal of some description before we’re debtless, I’ll also have a choice. I could potentially devote all my time to writing, and produce three or four novels in a year. That could translate into a replacement income . . . eventually.

Due to the uncertainty in our lives and in the rapidly-shifting publishing industry at the moment, I’m not prepared to take that chance now, but I know I can do it if I have to.

I write because I enjoy it and I want to keep it that way.

What’s on for this month?

I’m going to continue to plug away at GatL and Figments, and that 10k story I mentioned, I’m going to submit it after revision. I don’t want to talk too much about it, because a story of this length is a huge risk. I’ve also submitted it to other anthologies and magazines in the past to a resounding “no.” Let’s see if I can’t do better this time.

This coming Friday, I’m off to When Words Collide in Calgary, and I’ll learn on Sunday morning whether my top ten story “On the Ferry” was considered a winner in the In Places Between contest. Though I’m really excited about the possibility, I’m just pleased as punch to be in the chapbook anthology.

So, of course, there will be more conference reportage coming your way 🙂

And that’s about it.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting my CanWrite! Conference wrap and writing about the unsettled nature of things, not necessarily in that order.

Have a happy Civic Holiday long weekend, my Canadian friends 🙂

The Next Chapter