Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, April 19-25, 2015

Not an overwhelming amount of thoughty this Thursday, but quality is the thing.


The tragic news of the week is the earthquake in Tibet. Zee News.

Before and after images of the devastation from Think Progress.

My thoughts and prayers, such as they are.


Last week I shared an article about how there are not enough psychiatrists and too many in need. This week: why Doctors don’t have clients . . . Psychiatric Times.

Your passion isn’t your bliss; nor is it your bitch. Justine Musk.

Sir Ken Robinson on how creative schools can transform education. CBS News.

Cancer research in Sudbury is making progress. Here’s the news article and the interview from Morning North. CBC.

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s ambition is to make science hip. LA Times.

Shedding light on dark matter and dark energy with Patricia Burchat. TED Talk.

Life in the deep ocean, a TED Talk by David Gallo.

North Brother Island: the last unknown place in New York city. Brainpickings.

More abandoned places. This time: Creepy brothels. Scribol.

When cancer in dogs isn’t just a matter of bad luck. Vet Street.

If I fits, I sits! Why cats (of all sizes) love boxes. IFLS.

Watch an octopus catch and eat a crab. Wicked! Geekologie.

Diving giraffes and bouncing elephants. Awesome animation on i09.

I’ll catch up with you next on Satuday. Break a pencil until then.

Thoughty Thursday

Advertisements

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, April 19-25, 2015

Some of the best writing posts and podcasts came out last week. Seriously. Awesome.

Here’s part 2 of K.M. Weiland’s Scrivener series: How she uses Scrivener to draft her novels.

How symbolism and subtext improve action beats in your dialogue. Katie’s Wednesday vlog.

Roz Morris’s video chat with Christine Nolfi and David Penny from #indierecon15: How to keep writing when time is scarce.

Then Roz joined Joanna Penn on The Creative Penn podcast to talk about plot.

Jami Gold has some excellent advice on . . . advice 🙂

Dan Blank wrote my favourite post of the week on Writer Unboxed: Shame and your writing career.

Christine Frazier of The Better Novel Project interviews Jeff Goins on the importance of fairy tales.

Jordan Rosenfeld guests on Jane Friedman’s blog on the topic of balanced productivity. Here’s another book for my “to read” pile . . .

Amazon pays this self-published writer $450,000 a year (!) I couldn’t do what Mark Dawson did. Kudos to him for making it. Forbes.

MPR News presents the top ten most challenged books of the year.

TED-Ed on Shakespearean insults:

Enrich your vocabulary with some 1920’s slang:

How Tatiana Maslany is transformed into a cast of clones by Orphan Black makeup artists. Vanity Fair.

See you on thoughty Thursday!

Tipsday

Ad Astra 2015 day 1: Deconstructing tropes

First, a disclaimer

These posts are composed of my notes. Often, because of the scheduling, I enter sessions after they’re already in progress. I write by hand, so as I’m writing what I believe to be a salient point, I may miss the next one. I do my best to catch as much as I can, but things will be missed. Also, if, in my haste I recorded something incorrectly, please don’t be shy about coming forward and letting me know. I will correct all errors post-hasty once informed of them.

We good?

Alrightie, then!

Panelists: Gail Z. Martin, Leah Bobet, Charlotte Ashley, K.W. Ramsey

KWR: What if you love genre, but hate tropes?

LB: Tropes are clichés. They’re mass produced. They’re widgets. Genre is more than just the tropes that are common to it. Genre is an assumed set of knowledge. This can include tropes, but it’s more enjoyable for most readers if the writer alludes to tropes rather than spelling them out in the same ways as other writers before them.

GZM: We have archetypes, the Hero’s Journey. That’s structure. To use a construction metaphor, not every house will be built the same way, even if the builders start out with exactly the same materials.

KWR: You have to understand the tropes to use them properly. When you understand what an FTL [faster than light] drive is, and the scientific problems attendant upon creating one, then you can use it well.

GZM: Butcher does that with Harry Dresden. He’s a wizard, and powerful, but he lives without any of the benefits you would think go with that power.

CA: Dresden is basically an import into urban fantasy of the hardboiled detective trope.

KWR: And there are writers who do this well. Firefly mixed science fiction and the tropes of the western. Defiance tried to do something similar, but they didn’t understand the tropes they were trying to use in enough depth to use them well. The writers behind Firefly were conscious of what they were doing and wrote around their tropes intentionally.

GZM: After the Civil War, people went west, not seeking adventure, but because they’d been on the losing side.

KWR: Defiance trots out their tropes too obviously: here’s the stagecoach episode, etc.

LB: A photocopy of a photocopy eventually fades to nothing. If we see the same tropes used similarly in story after story, they lose meaning.

GZM: If the writer wants to be successful, she has to bring something new to inform the trope and give it fresh life.

LB: We all read books for different reasons. Some readers want comfort and familiarity. For these readers, tropes are fine. Some readers want their minds blown.

CA: In that sense, Firefly does not subvert its tropes.

GZM: It’s not just the tropes, though. Characters can bring something fresh as well. Tropes alone will only get you so far.

CA: Comfort reading is like decor. Mind-blowing reading is deeper.

LB: The stories that meant something to us as children need to be reinvented for a modern audience.

GZM: Myth is bigger than the telling.

CA: Look at Diana Wynn Jones’s retelling of Tam Lin.

LB: The books that point out that “this is messed up” further the conversation. We need these conversations.

KWR: Literature is cyclical. It responds to what has gone before but also invites the next voice to the conversation. The pendulum is always swinging.

GZM: In the 50’s and the 60’s, the cold war was a huge trope in science fiction. Recent authors have brought that tropes forward successfully.

LB: There’s a genre fallacy that there should only be one conversation going on, though. For example, post-colonialism is not part of the SF conversation.

CA: A Stranger in the Laundry speaks to that.

[There was a short side-track into the Hugo’s controversy that I chose not to record.]

CA: Is Star Wars not a post-colonial narrative?

KWR: The Jedis are basically samurai. It all goes back to the Tokugawa gun law.

GZM: What about Carpe Demon? The protagonist is an everyday person. She has to get the kids to school, work, manage her household, and still fight demons.

LB: That’s just good writing. Rounded characters are the result of good writing. Kate Elliott is an underrated writer. Karen Addison’s The Goblin King is fabulous also.

And we were out of time.

Next week: You get a double shot. Science Fiction in YA from Ad Astra 2015 and my next chapter April update.

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, April 12-18, 2015

#BringBackOurGirls a year later. NBC News.

It hasn’t always been a man’s world. Amy Logan’s TED X talk from Sacramento:

The reason you’re not happy and how to fix it. The Next Web.

There are too few psychiatrists and too many patients. The Psychiatric Times.

Why you should spend your money on experiences rather than on things. Fast Company.

How to be emotionally intelligent. The New York Times.

Peak creative moments. 99u.

The greatest work of your life will require a compass, not a map. The Creativity Post.

Could oral contraceptives be changing your brain structure? IFLS.

BBC Two presents super powered owls.

Why we melt when we see puppy dog eyes. The LA Times.

Remembering the dogs of the Titanic. Dogington Post.

Neil deGrasse Tyson on Pluto, science groupies, and killing insects. Esquire.

Now we know why the earth hums. IFLS.

Fabulous picture of the Grand Canyon.

The eeriness of the English countryside. The Guardian.

Horrible crimes took place in this lovely house in New Orleans. i09 True Crime.

She sheds: the answer to the man cave. The lighter side of real estate.

These three young girls rock Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” ReMezcla.

And I’ll leave you on that rockin’ note (LOLZ) until Saturday 🙂

Thoughty Thursday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, April 12-18, 2015

How K.M. Weiland uses Scrivener to outline her novels.

Katie’s Wednesday vlog discusses how to help your readers love an unlikable character.

Roz Morris shares some common errors indie authors make in their self-published work.

Therese Walsh posts about finding the time to write (part 3 of her multitasking series) on Writer Unboxed.

Suzanne Alyssa posts on Sarah Selecky’s blog on the subject of the vulnerability of submission.

A two part post from Delilah S. Dawson on self-promotion: Please shut up, and Wait, keep talking.

Delilah S. Dawson guest posts on Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds with 25 blood-spattered tips for writing violence.

Are these filter words weakening your fiction? Write it Sideways.

Jamie Raintree asks, are artists still allowed to be neurotic? Thinking through our fingers.

Diana Gabaldon interviews Susanna Kearsley at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore.

Anne Lamott: “Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, and scared.” Salon.

Tim Parks on CBC Radio’s The Sunday Edition: Writing in the Margins.

Sherwood Smith offers some thoughts on Heyer and Austin.

Astrophe: The feeling of being stuck on Earth. The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

The history behind Orphan Black. The New Yorker.

For the Outlander fans: Interview with Sam Heughan.

The real romance behind Outlander. The New York Times.

Sesame Street’s Game of Chairs:

And that’s your Writerly Goodness for the week.

See you Thursday!

Tipsday

Sundog snippet: (W)rites of spring returns to Sudbury

It’s been a while since I posted on a Sunday, and I had another literary event to report on, so I thought I’d share a Sundog snippet with you 🙂

The last time the (W)rites of spring visited Sudbury was in 1997 (!). I was a part of that event as a budding poet as was my friend Kim Fahner, who was getting her first chapbook, You must imagine the cold here, published through Your Scrivener Press.

Kim’s gone on to have two further collections published, braille on water, and The Narcoleptic Madonna, both through Penumbra Press and she’s currently working on the contents of her next collection. It wasn’t a surprise, therefore, that for this year’s National Poetry Month, she decided to bring the (W)rites of spring back to Sudbury.

On Friday evening, at Marymount Academy in Sudbury, Kim, along with Sudbury’s current poet laureate Tom Leduc, its past PL, Roger Nash, Susan McMaster, and Tanya Neumeyer did a round-robin reading of their poetry on the theme of food.

The MC was Marcus Schwabe of CBC Radio Sudbury and he kept the evening moving with some humour and commentary. Here is Kim and Tanya’s interview with Marcus from Thursday morning.

The League of Canadian Poets and The Canada Council sponsored the event.

The organization to which proceeds were being donated was the Young Writers’ Guild which meets every month at the Greater Sudbury Public Library.

It was a lovely evening and the breadth and depth of poetry was wonderful.

Sundog snippet

Ad Astra 2015 day 1: Arrival and Julie Czerneda workshop

The Ad Astra 2015 reportage starts now!

This year, I managed to find the Sheraton without too much difficulty (yay me). I can be Google Maps challenged at the most inconvenient times, especially when GM wants to send me on the 407 (I am toll route averse) or tells me to pull a u-turn when I don’t see the need for it 😛

Still, I just—just—got checked in to my room in time to run back down and into the workshop.

Julie Czerneda’s workshop was entitled It only hurts when I write: Destroying your story gremlins.

After a brief round of introductions, we got to work. Julie asked us to work in pairs and assigned us a series of writing tasks. The focus on the workshop was to solve the gremlins that many writers experience. The main gremlin was the blank page, or not knowing what to write/how to come up with story ideas.*

  1. Using a grid, storyboard a plot with a beginning, middle, and end (plot emphasis).
  2. Using a grid and a character card prompt, storyboard a plot with a beginning, middle, and an end (character emphasis).

After each exercise, each group shared the results of their efforts.

There was a brief break and then we reconvened for the second half of the workshop.

In the second half, Julie handed out a story worksheet to each pair. We were to fill out the worksheet with the following information: Story idea, Protagonist, Setting, Type of story, Format of story, Readership for this story, and what Feeling we wanted the reader to respond with.

Once the worksheet was completed, Julie handed out cards that added completely random items to the story. My partner and I received these three: What this story needs is a cat; Add an hilarious death; and Rewrite as a comedy.

Considering that I’d elected to fill out the worksheet using my main WIP, Initiate of Stone, a darkish epic fantasy, the cards actually threw three rather large wrenches into the gears.

The point of these wrenches was to concretely prove that we can change our stories, sometimes to good effect, on a dime and at the request of someone else. It teaches you to relinquish control, release from attachment, and may serve you well if/when an editor wants you to make changes your story.

It was a bit of a light bulb moment for me. I learned that I had, to a degree, achieved a certain amount of detachment from IoS. It’s a novel, not one of my vital organs.

Though I think if anyone actually asked me to rewrite IoS as a comedy, I would refuse. Categorically, even.

Overall, it was an enjoyable workshop.

Julie Czerneda

*I walked into the workshop thinking that we were going to be working with our actual story gremlins, as in the problems we are experiencing with our WIPs. It took me a few minutes to get over my disappointment that I was not going to get help with the opening of IoS. I was motivated, as ever, to learn, though, and so I did 🙂

There you have it.

Next week: Deconstructing tropes 🙂 Yes, we had all the fun! Really. I like this kind of thing 🙂

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, April 5-11, 2015

It’s almost all videos this week! Holy cow!

Higher perspective shares this infographic on optimizing your nap time.

The surprising science of workplace bliss. Podcast. The Good Life Project.

Not sure if I agree with this: the essential psychopathology of creativity. The Creativity Post.

Related: ASAP Thought asks, are you a psychopath?

Creepy black and white photos. Will you find some inspiration here? ViralNova.

Can the world economy survive without fossil fuels? I kind of think we have to, don’t you? The Guardian.

It’s Okay to be Smart explores the recipe for life:

This is what people in 1939 predicted fashion would look like in the year 2000:

And from 1947, women’s self defense:

Big cats like Easter eggs, too!

Zach King having fun:

Ms Mr – Painted. Though it’s presented as a video, it’s really just audio.

Hope you had some fun with these.

Ad Astra reportage starts Saturday! W00t!

Thoughty Thursday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, April 5-11, 2015

A weekend of rest plus a weekend away at a convention equals slim pickings. It’s all Writerly Goodness, though 😀

“When did thrilling the reader become cheap?” Roz Morris weighs in on storytelling in literary fiction.

K.M. Weiland discusses how to ace your climactic moment.

Interaction is the key to dynamic scenes. Katie’s Wednesday vlog.

Fallacy: the primer for surprise. Blew. My. Mind. Writer Unboxed.

How dreams can lead to creative breakthroughs. Canva.

How the subconscious mind shapes creative writing. The Guardian.

Brainpickings presents Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s favourite books.

Authors Publish offers seven misattributed quotes. Oops.

Research suggests Shakespeare may have written ‘lost’ play. CNN.

Monks wrote in the margins, too. i09.

Alex Garland on being an “auteur” and his movie, Ex Machina. Grantland.

Thoughty Thursday appears to be full of YouTube this week (!)

See you then, my friends.

Tipsday

Wordsmith Studio third anniversary blog hop

Alrightie, then!

Three years ago, Wordsmith Studio got its start.

WSS Homecoming 2015

Here’s my interview:

1. Are you a WSSer (a member of Wordsmith)? If so, sound off about how long you’ve been a member, your favourite way to participate, or anything you’ve missed if you’ve been away. We’re not your mother/father… there will be no guilt about how long since your last call.

I was with WSS from the start. I’m a founding member. I’ve only contributed one post to the collective, however. Life is busy. No excuses. Just facts. I have enough trying to keep up with the day job, my blog, and, what’s most important, my writing. Oh, and there’s that pesky family thing, too 😀

2. What medium do you work in? For our writing folks, are you currently working on fiction, poetry or non-fiction, or a combination? Anyone YA or mystery or thriller or…?

I started off getting published as a poet, and won a few short story contests. Now, I’m writing fantasy novels—yes, that was plural—and science fiction short stories. I continue to blog about aspects of the writing life that are important to me.

3. What’s the name of your current project (ok multitaskers, give us your main one)?

Initiate of Stone is my epic fantasy. I’m currently in my last revision (for now—I know there will be much more coming) prior to diving into the query process later this spring. I know, I’ve been saying that forever, haven’t I?

4. What is your favourite detail, sentence or other bit you’ve written lately?

Gah! I have to pick just one? OK. Here’s the opening of a recent short story:

“I wander endless halls, time compressed by shimmering walls, thought slowed by the dance of acrylic and oil over canvas, memory smothered by ephemera. There are only three floors and a block of conjoined buildings, but the halls twist and turn back upon themselves. I can walk for hours staring at the art and collectibles, which change regularly, and then stare at the plastic card in my hand, wondering which of the rooms I’ve passed is mine.”

5. Any obstacles or I-hate-this-chapter moments?

ALL. THE. TIME. I constantly doubt myself. I just keep writing anyway. It’s what we do.

6. What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned lately from your writing?

Last year I experimented with working on multiple projects. I tried different approaches, but have realized that realistically, I can only work on two projects at a time (aside from blogging and writing short stories) and that they have to be at different stages of development. I can draft one novel and revise another, but I can’t draft two novels at the same time. It requires too much of the same kind of creative energy.

7. In what ways do you hope to grow in the next 6 months/year?

I want to become the bionic writer. I want to be faster, stronger . . . 😀 You get the idea.

8. In what ways do writing friends and communities help you do that?

I learn from everything I do and from everyone I meet. You might say I’m addicted.

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Since I didn’t blog this past weekend, I thought I’d get this posted for you.

And Tipsday will be coming up tomorrow. This will be interesting. I haven’t prepared my weekly posts in advance. This might hurt a bit . . .