Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Dec 7-13, 2014

Hachette wants to turn Twitter into a bookstore. I’m still not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. Bloomberg Businessweek.

Do agents Google potential clients? You bet your sweet bippy. Survey conducted by Debbie Ridpath Ohi.

The most common writing mistakes series, part 36: Too much introspection and not enough interaction. K.M. Weiland.

Blogging for authors: How to create a blog that will grow with your career. Anne R. Allen.

How to become a writer by Lisa Cron for Writer Unboxed. It takes time and patience, practice and persistence.

Last week, I shared a post about writing in your books. This week, I discovered that monks annotated their illuminations 😛 Catholic Memes.

Shakespeare’s Curtain Theatre unearthed. The Guardian.

Margaret Atwood’s ten rules of writing. Brainpickings.

Buzzfeed shares 51 of the most beautiful sentences in literature.

This is the coolness: a periodic table of figures of speech. LifeHacker.

Nearly perfect movies and what they teach us about storytelling. Charlie Jane Anders for i09.

Steven Moffat finally agrees that a woman Doctor is a distinct possibility. Can I get an “Amen” my sisters? Though he also says it’s too soon to think about a new Doctor. i09.

Five lessons Peter Capaldi learned from Doctor Who. Wired.

Beautiful poetry from Shane Koyczan:

 

Neil Gaiman recites “Jabberwocky”:

 

This is going to be one splendid movie 🙂

 

Paftoo’s secret room in Roz Morris’s Lifeform Three was based on this real underwater ballroom. Sunny Skyz.

May your week be full of fantastic nonsense 🙂

See you Thoughty Thursday!

Tipsday

Advertisements

When Words Collide wrap post

So . . . it’s been a few months since I attended When Words Collide in Calgary, Alberta. It was an interesting event. Organizers billed it as a literary festival, but it grew out of a fan con. It was an interesting mix, one part writing conference, one part reader/fan convention.

It takes its organizational model from conventions, asking a nominal membership fee rather than a pricey conference fee. Most of the sessions were panels with a few workshops and guest of honour sessions worked into the schedule.

I enjoyed my first WWC and got a lot out of it, as you may have gathered if you’ve been following my WWC posts over the past months.

One thing I didn’t appreciate was the heavy scheduling. With the exception of the banquet, there were no set breaks for meals, and even during the banquet, which was an optional extra cost, there were concurrent sessions.

It made what was already a difficult decision between a plethora of sessions even more challenging. They should have handed out time turners at the door 😉

I met a lot of authors I had previously only known on the interwebz and I got to act all fangirlish around Brandon Sanderson. I also reconnected with a lot of authors I had previously met at other conferences and stayed an extra day so I could spend some time with an old university roommate hiking at Lake Louise and Johnston Canyon.

There was a book room, and of course, I bought a few books. Not as many as at past conferences, but I picked up enough to keep feeding my addiction and weighing down my bookshelves.

WWCBooks

One of the other bonuses was the writing contest, which I was happy to place second in with my paranormal short story, “On the Ferry.” I got to read an excerpt from my story, meet all the other top ten authors, and the judges of the contest, who also gave all of the top ten their comments.

I am currently revising that story for another market.

Overall, it was a rewarding time. I probably won’t be able to attend every year, however. Like the Surrey International Writers’ Conference I attended last year, the air fare and accommodation costs make WWC an occasional treat rather than a definite must.

And that, as they say, is a wrap.

Next week: I’ll be updating you on Nuala’s situation and the state of things in the yard and driveway.

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Nov 30-Dec 6, 2014

Diana Pitaru of Psych Central wonders, are we afraid of losing our darkness?

TED talks to pick you up when you’re feeling down.

The trouble with bright girls. Psychology Today.

Anita Sarkeesian is just getting started. Bloomberg Businessweek. One of my favourite bits: “Harassment is the background radiation of my life.” And still she fights on. The definition of courage.

Alanah Pearce has started reporting young harassers to their moms. The Huffington Post.

Trauma dog helps victims on the stand during sexual abuse trial. The Huffington Post.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since the Montreal Massacre was perpetrated. Poet Penn Kemp posted about some of the commemorative and healing events taking place.

The world’s oldest engravings found on 500,000 year old shells. IFLS.

Abandoned and tragic places are fascinating to me. Drone footage of the Chernobyl exclusion zone from IFLS.

Thanks to Phil Plait for posting this wonderful video on his Slate Bad Astronomy column.

Cymatics, the science of sound from Nigel Stanford.

 

Cody C. Delistraty of The Atlantic wonders, can creativity be learned? What a new study reports.

The difference between opinion and reaction. Prolost.

Walking helps us think. The New Yorker.

Veritasium. Why innovation in education is not the end of the teacher.

 

Reasons you should move to Finland. Buzzfeed. We have most of this stuff right here in Canada, though, especially in Sudbury, Thunder Bay, and many other northern communities where the Finnish have settled. My last name? Finnish 🙂 Yes, my mom has a sauna and makes Finn bun. Om-a-nom-a-nom-a-nom.

I only hope this is true. The Huffington Post.

Kawaii time with Buzzfeed: 21 reasons to be thankful for your dog.

Stanley the Airedale talks to his mom on the phone.

 

Thoughty Thursday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Nov 30-Dec 6, 2014

Here’s another post and podcast on theme from K.M. Weiland. This theme stuff is a little brain-twisty. Katie makes it accessible without getting didactic. That’s exactly what you have to do with your theme.

Jane Kisacky writes about literary hypochondria for Writer Unboxed.

Ruth Harris wrote this wonderful post for Anne R. Allen’s blog on managing your social media for sanity.

Listen to the Creative Penn podcast. This week’s guest: David Farland 🙂

What Catherine Ryan Howard learned about rejection. Catherine, caffeinated.

Karen Thompson Walker. What fear teaches us. TED Talk.

 

11 books aspiring writers should read. Bustle.

25 words you should add to your vocabulary.

Pixar’s 22 rules of phenomenal storytelling.

Chuck Wendig’s simple, no-fuckery plan to write and the no-fooling, fix-that-shit plan to finish your goddamned novel.

Last week, we learned that readers have more empathy. This week, writers are proven to have better coping skills and better physical resilience. Go figure. Arts.Mic.

I think this might go along with last week’s reader discovery. Book ban in prison repealed. BBC.

How not to build a future society. BBC.

If any of you out there are like me, you’re in agony waiting for April and the resumption of the Outlander season. Here’s a little teaser for you to tide you over courtesy of The Nerdist.

I am a BIG B5 fan, so when I read about a reboot movie, I was vibrating on a higher level. Ars technica.

The Saturday Evening Post DC superhero series by Juan Carlos Ruiz Burgos. Deviant Art. I waffled about whether to put this on the Tipsday post or the Thoughty Thursday post.

The Creative Arts Shop on Etsy offers Doctor Who themed merchandise. I kind of like the fingerless gloves meself.

Buzzfeed presents some awesome writing nooks.

The science of Shakespeare on CBC’s Ideas.

Do you write in your books? Consider this post by Tim Parks for The New York Review of Books.

Tipsday

The next chapter: November 2014 update

So. Just to get it out there, I didn’t meet my NaNo goal this year. Honestly, I thought it was going to be a tall order writing 50k words while working full time.

If you remember my pre-NaNo post, I said that if everything went to hell and I only got 20k words written, that I’d still be happy.

Well, I wrote 28,355 words on my new novel idea and I’m more than happy with that.

NaNoWriMo participant 2014

I didn’t do more than maintenance housework.

I did try to live as normal a life as possible.

I did not abandon my blog, though I was less present on social media.

I had two birthday celebrations, two weeks of training (which always drains introverted Mellie), two weeks of travel, a workshop on publishing, a Christmas party fiasco, and a new critique group meeting to attend.

I’m surprised I got as much done as I did.

I’m still in recovery.

So here, briefly, is what the month looked like.

November's Writing Progress

5,269 words on the blog and 28,355 on the new novel.

33,624 words total for the month.

Whew!

I’ve taken a few days’ respite so far in December (sorry about the time warp, folks), but I’m getting back on that wee writing horsie next week.

As Chuck Wendig says, I gotta finish my shit. As Kristen Lamb says, life rewards finishers.

Specifically, I’m not only going to work further on Marushka, which is another YA urban fantasy/fairy tale re-envisioning, but I’m also going to get back to my other draft-in-progress, Gerod and the Lions, my MG fantasy, and work on a few short stories for upcoming contests and anthology calls.

I’ve written Marushka in Scrivener, my first project using that program. To be honest, while I can see the value of Scrivener, I’m organized enough, and well-versed enough in Word that I’m content to return to it.

Unless, of course, Microsoft does what it’s threatening to do and make Office into a subscription-based service. If that happens, they’ve lost a heretofore faithful customer and I’m jumping ship to Scrivener.

I don’t know why MS has to go and screw up a perfectly good office suite.

I’ve had the pleasure of being on the launch team for a fellow author for the past few months as well. It’s been an interesting process helping Jane Ann McLachlan choose a title for her novel, a cover, reading the ARC, and writing the review for her.

I’ve also gleaned a few things for my toolbox. I knew that one must place one’s review to Amazon.com (as opposed to .ca) but now I know that I should also find other reviews helpful and click that little button on as many of them as possible.

Apparently that’s another little tip: Amazon will give preference and weight to helpful reviews, as opposed to reviews on which the button has not been clicked. Amazon also prefers it if you have purchased the book or ebook through them prior to posting the review. A verified purchase carries more weight again.

Interesting stuff. And here I thought I was helping people out by posting my reviews of their books. Now I know how to help them even more.

And that was my month.

I got a little present in my inbox this past week. See that lovely Excel spreadsheet depicted above? That was created by the wonderful and talented Jamie Raintree. I got her newsletter, and a link to the 2015 version (happy dancing commences).

You need to subscribe to that lovely lady 🙂

I spent most of today cleaning the house after my month of sloth. Phil helped (bless him) by doing the pots in the kitchen and cleaning the bathroom.

Now Mellie has to toddle off to Bedfordshire. She has five submissions to critique for tomorrow’s meeting and Christmas decorations to haul out of storage and place artfully around the house.

You know what? I love my life 🙂

The Next Chapter

Why do I write and how do I stay motivated?

The question that Bob Clary of Webeducator.com posed to me was this: We’re wondering how other writers who write more for pleasure for than for financial gain stay motivated.

  • What were your goals when you started writing?

I started writing in grade three, at the age of seven, after having been inspired by the storybooks created by the grade five class. In particular, the story created by Siobhan Riddell, of a knight who fought a dragon to rescue a princess, made me want to write something like that. I sent my first submission to CBC’s Pencil Box, a show that dramatized the stories of its young viewers, that same month.

I didn’t have goals when I started writing. Nothing so formal. I wanted to write something that could make someone else feel the way Siobhan’s story made me feel.

  • What are your goals now?

The same. More or less.

Now, however, I have read thousands of books by hundreds of authors.

I have been published as a poet. This is not something one does for money. Especially in Canada. A “bestseller” in poetry in Canada is 500 copies. In most cases, you’re lucky to break even. Many journals pay in subscriptions. Many anthologies pay in copies.

I have won prizes in short story contests, five to date, the prize money ranging from $50 to $150. This is also not a way to earn a living as a writer, but it is a way to get published.

As of this year, I have had three professional sales, all for science fiction short stories. Even with professional rates, though, it’s hard to make a living this way. I’d have to publish a story every working day of the year to make a living wage.

I have now written three novels and am working on two more. None of these have been published. Someday, they will be, if not by a traditional publishing contract and deal, then by self-publishing. I am struck with the thought at how few people in North America actually live by their writing alone if they write fiction.

Non-fiction, journalism, and technical writing all pay better. If anyone wanted to write in order to make a living doing it, I’d recommend any, or a combination, of those fields.

Not that it’s impossible, but it is challenging and it takes a kind of bravery I have to admit I lack. I will not thrust responsibility for my care and upkeep onto my spouse. I cannot let our debts go unpaid.

Having said all of that, I still intend to make a living by my writing one day. There are conditions, namely, that all our outstanding debts must be paid off, I must make enough by writing to replace my current income, or we must become incredibly lucky and win the lottery 😛

  • What pays the bills now?

I am a corporate trainer working 37.5 hours a week.

  • Assuming writing doesn’t pay the bills, what motivates you to keep writing?

That wonderful storybook from grade three. All the books I’ve since read. The ideas that I keep getting that just won’t leave me alone. The fact that my writing is my solace, my entertainment, my therapy, my passion, my calling, and one day, my legacy, keeps me typing, scribbling, and learning about my craft.

Though I started writing young, I have always struggled, and until about nine years ago, I didn’t write every day. I’ve had some very damaging experiences that have led me to distrust my talent and my skill, but the desire to write has never left me.

I can’t not write. I have often said that I will write until age and infirmity (it’s going to take both of them—I ain’t going down without a fight) rob me of the capacity.

Siobhan’s storybook has never left me either, and I can’t fulfill that childhood desire to give readers the thoughts and feels unless I publish more of my writing.

  • What advice would you give young authors hoping to make a career out of writing?

Read. Read everything. Read in your genre. Read outside your genre. Read non-fiction. Read the classics. Read crappy books. Read books that make you cry or cheer or race to the end (and stalk watch the author’s web site until the next book is out).

Write. The only way to become a better writer is to write and to finish what you write and then to start writing something else. Lather, rinse, repeat. Never stop.

Study the craft. Take workshops. Go to conferences. Read every writing craft book you can borrow from the library or afford to buy. Subscribe to blogs and newsletters. Love learning and be open. I got an MFA, but they’re not for everyone. You can often do more and or better without. Be savvy. Do your research. Trust your gut.

Be willing to work. Work your butt off. Work your fingers to the bone. If you love what you do, the work—well it won’t be easy, but it will be a burden you can bear with a glad heart, because you know that this is what you were born to do.

Invest in yourself. Join professional associations in your genre. Find the money to pay for freelance editing. Get into a critique group. Learn about the publishing industry. Hone your query or book proposal until it is perfect.

Never give up. Persistence pays.


 

You can see how Roger Sakowski and Janie Sullivan responded to these questions on the Webeducator blogAnd here are a few other authors who have participated:

Muse-inks

Caturday quickie: One lovely blog award

I haven’t received one of these in a while and so it was a pleasant surprise when Cassie of My Etch-a-Sketch Life nominated me for the One Lovely Blog award.

one_lovely_blog_award

Awwww . . . THANKS!

So I have to share seven things about myself (I’ve decided to list seven things that make me happy):

  1. I met my BFF in grade three. Yes, we’re still friends, and no, I’m not telling you how long it’s been.
  2. My university roomie, after a decade (at least) during which we lost contact with each other, got in touch with me recently.
  3. I’ve just joined a writing/critique group with five other women. Our second meeting will be on Sunday.
  4. My husband of twenty years (whee!) does all the cooking and consequently all the grocery shopping. This is a real blessing for writer Mellie.
  5. I have three novels drafted and two more in progress. All are fantasy of various kinds.
  6. This year, I’ve had two paid publications of science fiction short stories and won a second place prize for another short story of a paranormal bent. Writerly income (even a little) rocks 🙂
  7. Writing. It’s who I am and what I do. It makes me Snoopy-dance happy, #furiouslyhappy.

Now I’m supposed to nominate people to continue the chain. Most of the time the people I nominate don’t play along. So I’m going to take a page from another (much cooler) writer, Veronica Sicoe, who was also asked to participate in this blog award challenge.

You are all hereby nominated. Yes. I’m a big, fat cheat. Participate if you are so moved. Otherwise, I hope these seven bits of my incredibly boring life entertained.

lovely-blog

Caturday Quickies

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Nov 23-29, 2014

Chuck Wendig confesses to being a sexist, racist, and whatever other ‘ists you can think of. This is social justice in my opinion, so I’m presenting it on thoughty day.

The psychology behind messy rooms. Elite Daily.

Wired’s absurd creature of the week: The colugo. Flying squirrel meets bush baby.

We’re mistaken about the whole alpha wolf thing. i09.

Ravens have social abilities previously only seen in humans. Another reason curvus corvus rocks my world. IFLS.

Interesting for genealogists and writers. Who is related to whom in what way? A great chart to keep things simple. mic.com

Because I love language. Newfoundland slang, brought to you by Cottage Life.

And that’s a wrap for this week.

Thoughty Thursday

Review of The Occasional Diamond Thief by Jane Ann McLachlan

What Amazon says:

On his deathbed, Kia’s father discloses a secret to her alone: a magnificent and unique diamond he has been hiding for years. Fearing he stole it, she too keeps it secret. She learns it comes from the distant colonized planet of Malem, where her father caught the illness that eventually killed him. Now she is even more convinced he stole it, as it is illegal for any off-worlder to possess a Malemese diamond. When 16-yr-old Kia is training to be a translator, she is co-opted by a series of events into travelling as a translator to Malem. Using her skill in languages – and another skill she picked up after her father’s death, the skill of picking locks – she unravels the secret of the mysterious gem and learns what she must do to set things right: return the diamond to its original owner. But how will she find out who that is when no one can know that she, an off-worlder, has a Malemese diamond? And how can she bear to part with this last link to her father?
Kia is quirky, with an ironic sense of humour and a loner. Her sidekick, Agatha, is hopeless in languages and naive to the point of idiocy in Kia’s opinion, but possesses the wisdom and compassion Kia needs.

The Occasional Diamond Thief

My thoughts:

The Occasional Diamond Thief is a fabulous adventure, but it also offers thoughts and feels for readers of all ages.

In The Occasional Diamond Thief, McLachlan’s protagonist, Kia, learns the truth about herself by learning the truth about others.

Kia is the youngest of three children. Her father, a space ship’s captain and merchant, returns from a trip to another planet with the illness that eventually kills him. He is secretive and haunted, but Kia wants his love and approval.

She believes her facility with languages will accomplish this and so learns the difficult Malemese. Unfortunately, hearing the language worsens her father’s condition.

Kia is also at odds with her mother, who is strictly religious and seems to resent Kia’s connection to her husband through the language of Malem. In an attempt to protect both spouse and child, Kia’s mother forbids the speaking of Malemese in the house.

When her father dies, Kia is with him, and he commends to her an incredible diamond. Determined to solve the mystery of the gem, but escape her mother’s oppressive grief, Kia applies to become a translator. Independence is a challenge, and Kia must turn to thievery to support her life as a student.

She gets caught, and as a consequence is sent to Malem as a language teacher for the Select who assisted her in the theft. Once there, Kia must solve the mystery of the diamond, risking her life and that of the Select, uncovering a conspiracy that has its roots in the highest levels of Malemese society.

Kia believes her mother harsh, but learns that she was only trying to protect the ones she loved. Kia believes her father is a thief, but learns that it was his compassion that placed the diamond in his custody. Kia believes the Select and her order, the O.U.B. are attempting to manipulate her, but discovers that they are only trying to make it possible for Kia to right old wrongs. Kia believes the Malemese people to be cold and barbaric, but experiences their capacity to love first hand and fights to free them from a fearful legacy.

McLachlan has created a simple, but compelling universe that doesn’t strain credibility and serves as the perfect backdrop for Kia’s journey. She even weaves in a sweet love interest that proves to have his own secrets. Woven into the overall plot are mystery and thriller elements that will keep readers turning pages.

McLachlan’s novel is reminiscent of Madeline L’engle and Ursula K. LeGuin’s young adult fiction.

My highest recommendation.

My rating:

5 out of 5 stars.

Jane Ann McLachlanAbout the author:

Jane Ann McLachlan is the author of a short story collection, CONNECTIONS, published by Pandora Press, and two textbooks on Professional Ethics, published by Pearson-Prentice Hall. She has a Science Fiction novel, Walls of Wind, on Amazon under her pen name, J.A. McLachlan, and a second science fiction novel, The Occasional Diamond Thief, coming out on Dec. 2, 2014. She is a professor at Conestoga College in Kitchener, and lives with her husband and daughter in Waterloo, Ontario. Her goal is to write and publish the kind of stories you hate to finish reading.

http://www.janeannmclachlan.com/

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Nov 23-29, 2014

What does theme have to do with your story’s climax? Everything, according to K.M. Weiland 🙂

Don’t let up on your tension. Katie’s weekly vlog.

A very important post from Dan Blank on Writer Unboxed: Adding more white space to your life.

Agent Sarah Negovetich answers your questions about publishing credits and space opera 🙂

 

Anna Quindlen’s A short guide to a happy life on Brainpickings.

Joss Whedon’s screenwriting talk for Impossible. He’d cracked a tooth at the time and persevered.

Steven Moffat has hired a woman to write for Doctor Who! Nerdist.

The Huffington Post’s Ethan Reid shares seven of the finest apocalyptic novels.

A list of words authors are sick of hearing. i09.

What Star Wars: A New Hope’s cut scenes can teach us about editing. i09.

Worldbuilding tropes that need to be forgotten. i09’s Toybox.

What science has revealed about people who read. arts.mic.

Shakespeare folio discovered in France. The New York Times.

C’est tout, mes amies!

Enjoy!

Tipsday