Ad Astra 2015 day 2: Paying your grocery bill: Grants and writing grant applications

Panellists: Amanda Sun, Karina Sumner-Smith, Sandra Kasturi, Chadwick Ginther, Bob Boyczuk

SK: I apply for Toronto Arts Council (TAC), Ontario Arts Council (OAC), and Canada Council for the Arts (CCA) grants for ChiZine and as a writer. OAC runs the Writers’ Reserve. There’s also the Works in Progress (WIP) grant. There are three deadlines a year. If you’re successful, you can’t reapply for two years.

KSS: The first time I applied for a grant, I did everything wrong. Reframe your application in literary or academic terms. I went from applying for a WIP grant so I could write my science fiction novel, to applying for funding to support the creation of post-apocalyptic literature.

SK: The jury changes every round. Keep applying, even with the same application. If you’re turned down in one round, you may be successful the next depending on who’s on the jury.

CG: CCA is the most open to experimental projects, I find. The OAC is the most conservative.

SK: The Writer’s Reserve runs from September to January every year. You send your manuscript to select publishers and one form to the OAC. Publishers get a set amount. ChiZine gets $13,000. That means we can publish about nine books.

KSS: The Writer’s Reserve has funds set aside for residents of Ontario outside of the GTA.

SK: The Speculative Literature Foundation offers two grants per year.

A: Actually they’re up to four now. Check them out.

BB: For the TAC, they ask for five copies of the manuscript and your name is not supposed to be on them anywhere. The judges actually sneak a peek.

SK: Guidelines may be hazy.

Q: What can you tell us about reporting?

SK: It varies between grants and organizations.

CG: There are also literary awards. The CCA runs the Governor General’s Awards. Generally you have to have a publisher to put your book forward for awards.

AS: Register for Access Copyright and the Public Lending Right programs as well.

Mel’s notes: Municipal arts councils will vary in the amount of support they can offer. TAC has money because it’s a big city (may go without saying, but . . . ). The Sudbury Arts Council has to be more selective in the projects it supports and has more limited funding. Provincial arts councils also vary widely. I’ve heard great things about the Edmonton Arts Council and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. Other arts organizations, like the Canadian Authors Association, offer literary awards. Check out the individual sites for further details. Finally, the CCA is currently restructuring its funding programs. Check them out.

Next week: Self-publishing 🙂

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, May 31-June 6, 2015

A little bit of interesting and a little bit of controversial this week.

Listen to the wisdom of trees. OM Times Magazine. I’ve done this. Yes, I’m paganish.

What it means to have the heart of an empath. The Elephant Journal.

How the highly sensitive person may be accessing clairsentience. OM Times Magazine.

We need to address the gap in medicare for patients with mental illness. The Globe and Mail.

This raised a few eyebrows among some of my friends who do not identify as feminist. I understand their position and defend their right to hold it, but I still think this rant from Mark Ruffalo is pretty awesome (no offence, ladies).

In that vein, here’s the trailer for Suffragette. This. Looks. AWESOME!

Jon Stewart makes a brilliant point about Caitlin Jenner that no one is talking about. News.Mic.

Former Prime Minister, Paul Martin, believes that indigenous thought belongs in the classroom. The Globe and Mail.

Truth and reconciliation may be progressing, but there are still issues that remain unaddressed in northern Ontario. CBC.

Residential school survivors and their descendants share their stories. The Globe and Mail.

Truth and reconciliation is not an aboriginal problem, but a Canadian one. CBC’s the Current.

Buffy Ste. Marie speaks out on the need for a new deal for Canada’s First Nations. CBC.

Science fiction author, Veronica Sicoe, wrote this lovely post on our failure to find developed, space-faring civilizations: Blowing up the Kardashev Scale.

Crazy facts about Japan. OMG facts.

Newfoundland’s fairy traditions. Canadian Living.

Want a cheap mansion? It’s haunted . . . CTV News.

For your musical enlightenment: Five new albums to try out on Spotify. The Guardian.

Your edutainment is served. You’re welcome 🙂

See you Saturday for more Ad Astra, and maybe I’ll have some good news on the home destruction front.

Oh, BTW, what do you think of the site revamp? Yeah, I finally did that shit.

Thoughty Thursday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 31-June 6, 2015

My god, it’s full of links 🙂

Well, this is distressing. The Writers Union of Canada has released the results of their writing income survey and it seems we’re doing worse than we did in 1998 (!). And we’re working harder for the privilege of earning less.

Some good news for Canadian creatives: The Canada Council for the Arts is revamping its programs.

Locally, a group has been working behind the scenes on their proposal for an arts centre that “transforms.” The Northern Life. We won’t be able to keep our tax freeze if this goes ahead, but it would be an efficient and multi-purpose space. I like the idea, but I don’t know if the municipality can afford it.

And what the hairy fuck is this? The Guardian reports that books about women are less likely to garner awards and critical favour?

Do you know the difference between a reactive protagonist and a passive one? K.M. Weiland uses examples to illustrate that vital difference and explains why a passive protagonist is the kiss of death (!)

Why authors can’t afford to dupe their readers. Kind of goes without saying, but Katie makes her point by expressing some extreme displeasure with Avengers: Age of Ulton for its use of misdirection.

Neal Abbott guest posts on Helping Writers Become Authors with this great post about how Doctor Who can help you become a fantastic writer. (I’m a timelord! I knew it!)

Donald Maass posted this lovely piece on working with third level emotions on Writer Unboxed.

Therese Walsh continues her series on multitasking with part five: Know your nature, nurture your focus. Writer Unboxed.

Jami Gold guides us in the process of formatting a manuscript for printing using MS Word.

Moshin Hamid and James Parker share their thoughts on whether the size of a book suggests significance or not. The New York Times.

David Mitchell says YA SF&F books are like gateway drugs, but in a good way. Bustle.

For the query-weary: 15 SF&F classics that were rejected. i09.

Kind of related: Found this link on an agent’s #MSWL. Kick-ass women in history: Khutulun on Smart Bitches/Trashy Books. She wants a book based on the life of a Mongol Queen!

The Huffington Post Books column shares their list of seven new badass YA heroines you should check out.

CBC Books shares their list of five books they can’t wait to read.

20 words that, when confused, can make you look dumb. LinkedIn.

Lauren Carter shows off her writing space with The New Quarterly.

Cheryl Strayed says, “Write like a motherfucker.” Is she channelling Wendig? BrainPickings. Favourite quote:

“Writing is hard for every last one of us… Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.”

Ursula K. LeGuin explains why she doesn’t want us buying books from Amazon. Electric Lit.

Mary Robinette Kowal is interviewed on the Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing podcast. Part one. I’ll post part two when it pops up 🙂

Check out the BBC’s Hardtalk podcast, too. I shared the June 1 interview with Colm Toibin.

Show runner Ron Moore shares his thoughts on the pivotal climax of Outlander and why nothing will ever be the same. E! online.

Sam Heughan explains why acting in those harrowing final episodes was a gift. Zap2It.

So that’s your helping of writerly goodness for the week.

See you Thursday!

Tipsday

Six questions with M. H. Callway

Madelaine Harris-Callway

Madeleine Harris-Callway is a traditionally published crime writer. Her debut novel, Windigo Fire, which has a northern Ontario setting, was published by Seraphim Editions in October 2014. It was warmly received by reviewers, including Margaret Cannon of The Globe and Mail. The Huffington Post Canada put it on their list of Books for Book Clubs. On April 23rd, she was thrilled to learn that Windigo Fire is a finalist for this year’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Crime Novel.

Prior to writing Windigo Fire, Madeleine was a successful crime short story writer. Her stories have appeared in several anthologies and magazines and have also won awards.

She has moderated and participated on numerous panels at writing conferences. Most recently, she moderated a panel at Left Coast Crime on plot twists. Her favourite topic is “How to Get Published” and she regularly gives talks at public libraries on this subject.

In 2013, Madeleine founded The Mesdames of Mayhem, a collective of 16 Canadian women crime writers.

_______________________________________________________________________

I was introduced to Madeleine through a mutual friend, author Dorothy McIntosh (D.J. McIntosh), last year. She mentioned that she would be interested in coming up to Sudbury to promote Windigo Fire, and we started a correspondence that culminated with the organization of a writing workshop and her participation in this year’s Wordstock literary festival.

I’m so pleased to welcome Madeleine to Writerly Goodness 🙂

WG: When did you first come to writing, and, as it’s always seemed to be your thing, what drew you to crime writing specifically?

MHC: I have been writing since I was a child. I co-opted my mother’s portable electric typewriter and banged out plays for my friends to perform with mixed results! I forgot my dream to be a writer between studying science and business at university, earning a living and raising a family though I returned to it from time to time. In 2002, I decided it was now or never and committed to writing full time.

While I worked at the Ministry of Health, I was assigned to work on the scientific investigation of the mysterious deaths at Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto. The study, in parallel with the police investigation, was headed up by the Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta. The report concluded that deaths were indeed homicide.

It was a deeply disturbing experience that affected every one of us who worked on the study. My boss at the time ended up leaving the government and becoming a forensic psychiatrist! He and I would have many long discussions puzzling over the motivation of the person responsible. I began to read accounts of true crimes, trying to gain insight into the criminal mind and I continue to read such books to this day though I’ve come to believe that the reasons, at least to me, remain unknowable.

I turned instead to crime fiction, where the criminals, for the most part, are caught, punished and moral order is restored!

WG: You’re an avid cyclist, runner, and downhill skier. Does your physical activity play a role in your creative pursuits?

MHC: Physical activity and writing are intertwined my personal life. Windigo Fire is an outdoor survivalist thriller. I drew on my personal experiences with dehydration and fatigue to lend authenticity to the hardships my hero, Danny Bluestone, goes through. During long training runs and bicycle rides, I have the freedom to think up stories and to resolve plot problems. And on the way I always spot odd and fascinating people, buildings or incidents that give me ideas.

WG: What led you to found the Mesdames of Mayhem?

MHC: Sadly women crime writers still face an uphill battle to get equal recognition. Though we represent at least half of published crime writers, we aren’t reviewed as often as men and we don’t win as many awards. My friends and I feel we have greater power by banding together and supporting each other at our new book launches and through social media. Through the Mesdames of Mayhem website and Facebook page, we reach far more readers than we can as individuals. We’ve had great fun doing readings at libraries and other venues. It’s much easier for emerging and mid-list authors to get exposure when we approach libraries and literary events as a team.

WG: What was the idea that became Windigo Fire, and how did it evolve?

MHC: The first crime novel I wrote became my “learner novel”. Though it had interest from a few publishers and a New York agent, it never quite made it and it now lives in my filing cabinet. Windigo Fire was to be the second novel in the series, but Danny came to life and took over.

The story of Pasha, the tame bear at Logan’s zoo, was inspired by a bear we saw performing at Clark’s Trading Post, a roadside attraction in New Hampshire. I was inspired to write Windigo Fire after reading about Ted Nugent’s obsessive advocacy of hunting. At the same time, I ran across a sad story about canned bear hunts or fake hunts where the poor animal is chained down and shot by “hunters” who pay a fortune for this. Fortunately these occurrences are rare. Naturally, I asked what if the hunters become the hunted . . .

I spent a lot of time in Northern Ontario early on in my working career: my first job was with Lac Minerals, a gold mining company and later on, I ran health studies for the Ontario government. I heard many wild stories from my workmates, some of which, like the wild bear encounter, are true. The event “karaoke strip night” is an exaggeration, of course, though not by much!

WG: Windigo Fire is set in northern Ontario and features a native protagonist. What kinds of research did you conduct in the process of writing the novel?

MHC: I relied on a friend and fellow writer who was Native Canadian. She explained aspects of culture, such as sweat lodge ceremony and shared her life on and off the reserve. Sadly she passed away so she never knew that Windigo Fire was published.

I also did research at the Spadina Road Branch of the Toronto Public Library, which has a great collection of Native Canadian literature. Studying Cree legends, I ran across the story of the windigo, which proved to be the perfect theme for my novel. The windigo is the symbol of evil, a cannibal with a heart of ice that can only be destroyed by fire. I believe Native Canadians used this legendary character to explain the existence of psychopaths.

At a deeper level, my novel represents the struggle of the main characters against evil. Do they rise and become strong enough to fight it? Or do they succumb to it and let their hearts turn to ice?

For information about surviving in the north, I used the book, How to Survive in the Woods, and for details on uranium mining, I used the internet.

WG: Can you give us a hint about what’s coming up in the future for M.H. Callway, author?

MHC: Absolutely! I am hard at work on Danny’s next adventure, the second book in the series, called Windigo Ice. Danny survived forest fire season, but now he’s forced to battle the frigid northern winter and a rogue priest bent on bio-warfare.

In follow up to our successful first anthology, Thirteen, my group, the Mesdames of Mayhem, will be releasing a second anthology, Thirteen O’Clock. It contains twisted tales of time and crime and will be available on Amazon this fall on Kindle and in printed form.

Thank you for an insightful interview, Madeleine. It was a pleasure! Break a pencil in your creative pursuits 🙂

Many thanks, Mel. It was a pleasure to be interviewed!

________________________________________________________________________

Danny Bluestone, a young Native Canadian, settles for a job at a children’s camp in his Northern Ontario hometown of Red Dog Lake. Local entrepreneur, Meredith Easter, offers Danny some easy money: play the role of native scout for his wealthy hunting buddies. Danny knows that Easter’s roadside attraction, Santa’s Fish Camp, is the front for the local grow-op, and probably more, but the money is his way out of Red Dog Lake. Danny flies the hunters to an island lodge deep in the wilderness. Once there, he learns that he’s part of an illegal bear hunt and is powerless to stop the men from shooting the helpless animal. The following morning, he awakes to find all the hunters but Ricky brutally murdered. Even though each of them believes the other is the killer, Danny and Ricky must team up to escape the forest fire started by the hunters. While his friends in Red Dog Lake struggle to rescue him, Danny falls back on the teachings of his shaman grandmother to survive the bush and the Windigo, the evil spirit that pursues him and Ricky.

Windigo Fire

Sundog snippet: Stuff keeps happening . . . or not

It’s been a wild week.

Last week, Phil and I thought we’d made arrangements to have our sewer pipe dug up and replaced. Phil received a call from the city engineer on Wednesday saying that the pavers would have to proceed with the driveway soon. They’re at the end of the contract that includes the work on our property and they wanted to get at it.

So I called the contractor and he said that the hold up was because the locates hadn’t been done. Apparently they’re backed up, too.

The locate still hasn’t been done, the sewer pipe has not been replaced, and on Friday the paving company was making preparations to start work on the street.

So we’ll see how that goes.

Had a lovely lunch with a friend I haven’t seen in years on Thursday. It was awesome. We spent the whole afternoon talking about books and work and life.

On Friday, Phil prepared a Shepherd’s Pie and had just turned on the oven to warms everything through and brown the top. Mere minutes later, he says we have a fire, which I’m not sure how we would have handled as our extinguishers have both been discharged.

It wasn’t a fire, though. The element in the stove melted and vaporized toxic chemicals all over our supper 😦

So we went stove shopping on Saturday.

And Saturday night was the retirement party for two of my (now former) co-workers. It was another amazing night with friends.

Today, I wrangled Phil into helping me clean up the kitchen. And I mean clean up. We moved all the appliances and cleaned under them. We went through all the cupboards. Two garbage bags, three compost bags, and a number of small boxes of stuff to give away. It took all afternoon. Hence the lateness of this post.

So yeah. That’s been my non-writing week.

Sundog snippet

The next chapter: May 2015 update

Holy shemoley! It’s June already and I’m three weeks into my five week leave. Time she’s a-flying 😦

May 2015 progress

May was all about catching up on my revisions. I’d fallen behind and had really wanted to get them done before my leave started. As it was, I worked through until May 24th on my revisions. The remaining words I wrote on Initiate of Stone were (marked in red) were on my query and synopsis.

I rewrote the latter no less than three times, but I think the third one is the best of the three, so I’m going with that version.

It should be no surprise, then, that the lion’s share of my word count was on IoS: 24,511 words (!) Now, keep in mind that revision word counts are halved (unless I drafted completely new chapters).

Overall, this revision of IoS came in at a whopping 129,402 words. That’s only 520 words fewer than the previous revision, despite the fact that I eliminated a POV character. As I expected, her role and sections were easily assumed by other characters, but I had to write more to make things work seamlessly.

Ah, well.

I wrote more of Marushka, as well, but I haven’t finished the draft yet. I’d wanted to have that done before my leave, too. What can you do, though? 3,173 words isn’t anything to sneeze at.

I revised a short story and submitted it to an anthology (for a scant 10 words), but I won’t hear anything about that until the end of July. I missed an anthology deadline for which I had the perfect story. I could have kicked myself. I mistook the date and thought I had until the end of the month when I only had until the 15th.

That kind of thing happened a lot in May.

And blogging filled out the rest of my word count for the month with 9,706 words.

That’s a total of 37,400 words. Egads! Again, the lion’s share of that was on revision, which are a different beast, but it’s my best month since NaNoWriMo 2013 🙂

May 2015 Summary

This month, I’ve been pouring more time and effort into researching agents and planning my querying strategy. I think June will be a low word count month as a result.

I’ve also organized a couple of workshops for visiting writers. On May 31st, Jane Ann McLachlan delivered a great workshop on Crafting the Contemporary Genre Novel. On June 18, Madeleine Callway will be delivering a workshop on How to Get Published. I’ll have more on Madeleine with an interview in just a few 🙂

And there are a pile of other things happening.

More on that in my Sundog snippet.

The Next Chapter

Ad Astra 2015 day 2: Put the pen down and back away slowly

Editing your work

Quick note: My apologies. Last week I mentioned that I would be getting uncanny, but I realized (only today when I opened my notebook) that the panel on the new weird, speculative fiction, and uncanny literature was one that I sat back and enjoyed rather than taking copious notes. I guess I needed a bit of a break (!)

In any case, I did take notes on the self-editing panel. And here they are 🙂

Panellists: Julie Czerneda, Anne Bishop, Monica Pacheco, Kelley Armstrong

Self-editing panel

AB: I used to write a scene because I wanted to follow the path for the story. Now, if I know a scene will likely be cut, I can run through it in my mind without writing it.

MP: Do you edit as you write?

KA: If I edit as I go, I’ll never finish. My first drafts are quick and dirty. The faster, the better.

JC: I just finished two fantasies, two literally, sweeping epics. Now I’m writing science fiction, so I find it easier to write to a word count goal. Still, I like to write quick and dirty, though.

AB: I write my first draft to tell me what the story’s about often. Anything goes at this stage and I use a strange font. It tends to free me up.

MP: Where do you start?

JC: If something is bothering me, I’ll deal with it right away. If it can be left until I edit, I leave myself a signal in the text. I use “OOO” so it’s sure to stand out.

AB: I used to be comfortable making notes outside the document, in a separate notebook. Now I write notes inside the document in different colours.

JC: My computer has defaulted to Canadian English and now I have to make a special pass just for that.

KA: As I write, I can flag what needs work. I use Scrivener.

MP: Are you harder on your work than an editor?

KA: Yes. I’m my own worst critic. Working with a great editor teaches you a lot, though.

JC: How do we know when to stop?

KA: When the publisher rips it away from you. We do the best we can in the time we have.

AB: I learn from the audio book version of my novels. Where do I need dialogue tags and where can I use an action beat or piece of description?

JC: I learn the most from my editor’s comments. Sheila doesn’t give me any praise, just notes of what to work on.

KA: If you’re critiquing, you have to be positive.

MP: You have to be careful not to crush spirits.

JC: You have to recognize the good in your work. It was a triumph when Sheila called me up in the middle of the night just to tell me she’d cried twice while reading my manuscript. Because she’s not big on praise, I knew I’d nailed it.

AB: You don’t want to edit the heart out of your story, either.

Q: What’s your editing process?

AB: I print it out, read through it, and make notes by hand.

KA: I put my first draft aside for at least two months while I work on something else. I print it out and mark everything up with a red pen from page one.

JC: I also print it out and edit my drafts by hand, but I like to edit in a separate place from where I drafted.

Q: What do you do about editorial comments you don’t agree with?

AB: My editors know I’m fragile. Most of the time, I can come around to seeing things their way, but it I can’t, I find I have to express why I think the scene or line is essential to the story. If I can offer a cogent explanation, the editors come around to seeing things my way.

KA: The majority of the editors I’ve worked with are great. I know them and what they want to see. We’ve developed a relationship. Some are dead wrong, though. You have to be willing to defend your work.

________________________________________________________________________

And that was time.

I learned a lot from these writerly women. I hope you did, too 🙂

My Next Chapter update and another Sundog snippet will have to wait on tomorrow. I have a retirement party to get ready for (!) Not mine (I wish), but two lovely ladies from the BEA hive at work. I’m the comic relief O.o

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, May 24-30, 2015

Ready for the thoughty Thursday workout? Here we go in 3 . . . 2 . . .

This is awesome: Scientists unlock the biological secrets of creativity. The Globe and Mail.

This video made me cry, but it’s brilliant. And you all have to watch it. The Daily Mail.

The Huffington Post presents ten ways introverts interact differently with the world.

What’s the point of thinking about death? The Atlantic.

If you want your kids to do better in school, you need to get serious about mental health. Take Part.

Nigeria bans female genital mutilation. Finally! International Business Times.

A primer on rape culture (in case you needed one). While you were sleeping.

Why is Elizabeth I always depicted as grotesque? The Guardian.

17 R-rated history facts no one teaches you in school. Distractify.

How did the Vikings make this incredibly strong sword? i09.

This is beautiful. I want to start one up in Canada 🙂 Solar Sisters: how this “Avon” model of solar power distribution has taken off. Fast Company.

What are ice spikes and what are they doing in your freezer? Veritasium.

Writing and speaking are totally separate in the brain. Futurity.

The Big Bang Theory just did something awesome: they established a STEM scholarship for impoverished youth 🙂 Hello Giggles.

Full rainbow filmed at Niagara Falls.

This graphic of all life forms will make you feel tiny. Business Insider.

Ms Mr – Painted. I shared the audio only version the other week. I figured it was only fair to share this when it was posted 😉

Saturday will bring moar Ad Astra reportage and the next chapter. See you then!

Thoughty Thursday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 24-30, 2015

It’s writer-palooza, er, um. Tipsday. Yeah.

Make sure you include these five factors in your story if you want it to make an impact on your readers. K. M. Weiland.

What’s the trick to creating vivid descriptions? Focus on the obscure details. Katie’s Wednesday vlog.

Harrison Demchick guest posts on Katie’s blog about what to do with your very long manuscript.

Scars and shame: the secrets of female characters. Barbara O’Neal nails this post for Writer Unboxed.

John Vorhaus gets into something deeper on Writer Unboxed.

Heather Webb asks, As writers, what are we worth? Writer Unboxed.

Jane Friedman writes about the age-old cynicism surrounding the book writing dream.

Kazuo Ishiguro and Neil Gaiman debate “genre fiction” on BBC Radio 4.

Phoenix Sullivan digs deeper into the latest Author Earnings report for David Gaughran.

The Authors Guild dumps Author Solutions (yay!). David Gaughran.

Use these five steps to write a killer elevator pitch for your book. Jennie Nash for BookBub.

Bryan Collins posts the ultimate how-to guide to blogging with Scrivener.

Terrorism in Elizabethan England, a post by Barbara Kyle for English Historical Fiction Authors.

Lauren Carter, whom I’ve featured here on the blog for a workshop she delivered in Sudbury, won the 2014 Room Poetry Contest. Here’s their interview with her.

Ten books that will change the way you think about fairytales. i09.

The horrifying origins of your favourite Disney films. Diply.

Mental Floss presents ten Old English words you should be using.

What do you think of this list of 24 brilliant portmanteaus? Ima start using some of them 🙂 Earthporm.

This little bit of awesome is courtesy of Addicting Info: J.K. Rowling slams Westboro Baptist Church’s hate-tweet.

John Doyle writes about Outlander and the triumph of the true female superhero. The Globe and Mail.

Caitriona Balfe’s serves up an insider’s view of Outlander. LA Times.

How Outlander broke the mold with their two-part finale. MTV.

Cute writing comic from The New Yorker.

Have a good week until Thoughty Thursday!

Tipsday