Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 5-11, 2016

June already? OMG! Where has the year gone? Oh well, console yourselves with some writerly goodness.

C.S. Lakin explains how writers can bring setting to life through personification. Live, write, thrive.

K.M. Weiland: how to write the perfect plot (in two easy steps). Helping writers become authors.

Chris Ebock teaches us how to develop a great story in three (or four) steps. Fiction University.

Chris Winkle shares seven rules of effective prose. Mythcreants.

All the world’s a book: acting for writers. Allie Larkin on Writer Unboxed.

Write about inner demons without boring your reader into a coma. I love Kristen Lamb’s sense of humour 😀

Chuck Wendig’s inimitable writing advice: what exactly makes a damn good story? Terribleminds. Now when this was shared on the listserv of one of my writing associations, the following was quoted: “A man catches a fish isn’t much of a story, because his problem isn’t a problem.” And responded to: erm, Old Man and the Sea? Moby Dick? Yeah, well. Read it in context.

With Pooh’s demise last year, I’ve been missing the distinct feline voice in writing craft. Welcome Harper Hodges to The Write Practice: Seven steps to write more.

Emily Wenstrom shares some marketing magic with the seven points of contact for authors. DIYMFA.

Janet Reid offers her thoughts on this question: so, how do you know if you’re a good writer?

Susan Spann offers a warning about non-disclosure clauses on Writers in the Storm.

A.J. Hartley: writing people of colour as a white author. Tor.com

Stephen Burt reviews Catherynne M. Valente’s Fairyland series for The New Yorker.

Kim Fahner shares some of the things she learned at the Alice Munroe Festival of the Short Story.

Kameron Hurley shares an excerpt from The Geek Feminist Revolution on the Tor blog: what are you fighting for?

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at the Girls Write Now awards ceremony: fuck being likeable. Jezebel.

Dear broke reader: your sense of entitlement is killing me. Sarah Madison.

The British Fantasy Awards shortlists are revealed. The Guardian.

The Sunburst Society releases its 2016 longlist.

Ken MacLeod for Orbit Books: Is science fiction past its sell-by date?

Molly Mcardle interviews Daniel José Older for Brooklyn.

X-rays reveal 1,300 year-old writings inside later book bindings. The Guardian.

The 1,000 year-old manuscript of Beowulf has been digitized and is now available online. Open Culture.

Shakespeare and the supernatural.

 

Benjamin Dreyer annotates Shirley Jackson’s sublime first paragraph in Hill House. Signature Reads.

Lisa Rosman asks, can a movie about editing be Genius? Signature Reads.

Jamie prepares for the battle of Prestonpans on Outlander. Vanity Fair.

Until next week, cheers!

Tipsday

Advertisements

Ad Astra 2016, day 2: Publishing today—old models, new models, and hybrids

Disclaimer: I’m not perfect and neither are my notes. If you see something that needs correction or clarification, please email me at melanie (dot) marttila (at) gmail (dot) com and I will fix things up, post hasty.

Note: I attended the David G. Hartwell memorial panel first, which was lovely and funny and touching, but not the kind of thing one takes notes about.

PublishingPanel

Panellists: Brett Savory, Sandra Kasturi, Ed Greedwood, Tom Doherty, Mark Leslie

SK: There’s been a lot of change in the industry and some “Chicken Little” doom saying. We’re finding our way.

EG: There are so many options now. Historically, traditional publishing or print self-publishing were the only options for the serious author.

TD: What it’s all about is story. How can we make the story the best it can be? How can we get these stories to the reader? J.W. Campbell was “the” editor for short fiction. Tor now has a novella program. In 1996 we had four hundred and some distributors in the US. Changing models for product wholesalers have meant the loss of book distribution networks. We were back to 1939 for a while. Every pharmacy, airport, and grocery store now has a fiction rack. There’s a lot of competition for the brick and mortar book store, chain or indie. New models for distribution and sales are emerging thanks to the internet.

ML: One of the things I like about digital publishing is that we don’t need three hundred pages bound in cloth.

TD: How do we get new readers? If you don’t or can’t put books where readers are, how do we put a book in their hands? Tor.com reviews movies and television as well as books as a means of attracting readers to the brand.

SK: ChiZine is a small publisher. We have a small publishing budget. HarperCollins used to handle our distribution, but they stopped. If anyone tells you they know the secret to marketing, they’re lying.

ML: You started ChiZine because you wanted to publish the books you wanted to read.

BS: Something like 50 Shades of Gray or The DaVinci Code, we’d like to think we’d stay away from, but if something like that came our way, we’d totally publish it. We need commercial successes so we can fund the outliers.

ML: How does Tor approach it?

TD: You have to have great creative people and you have to let them write what they love. The Gears wrote The People of the Wolf. Their books are archaeology and anthropology, but they’re also speculative fiction in our opinion. Forge focuses on near future science fiction and military thrillers. Science fiction has a pejorative reputation. The classic first contact story can also reveal sociological impact and insight.

SK: We’re fascinated by genre ghettoization, even intra-genre. In our experience, dark fiction isn’t just horror. Dark fiction writers get it out on the page. Writers who keep that darkness inside can get messed up.

ML: Is it all about the story?

EG: The Ed Greenwood Group is not going to compete with Tor, who’ve cornered science fiction and fantasy, or with ChiZine, which is more of a literary press. I wanted to do something I remember from my childhood. I used to fall in love with the setting, the story worlds I discovered through reading, and I created my own stories to go with them. So now I have the Hellmaw universe, which is dark urban fantasy. I have story universes for epic fantasy, space opera, hard science fiction. For each setting, we’re creating music, short fiction, art, novels, and follow up stories (like a coda). We will never let things go out of print. If an author wants to stop writing, or dies, there will always be other authors writing in the milieu. We’re an alternative, not competition.

ML: Is there more collaboration?

EG: The potential is there. Each world has its own lore guardian and art director. Fanfic is not verboten, but a TEGG book is a TEGG book. We’re developing a sandbox area for creators to play in.

ML: Where does a beginning writer fit in?

TD: Tor has been publishing new authors for a long time. Brandon Sanderson’s first book was Elantris. Moshe Feder is his agent. They met at a convention.

SK: ChiZine is open to new writers from August to January through the Writers’ Reserve program. I don’t ever want to be above the slush. There are a lot of talented people out there.

BS: Everything that we published has been edited by one of us. It’s an insane amount of work, but we’re still about 10% of the scale of Tor.

EG: David G. Hartwell chased me for seven years to get my last book. It took seven years to get into print.

TD: We buy more from agents because they screen for us.

SK: I pass on the experimental stuff to Brett.

ML: Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith do the Fiction River Anthologies. I joined their panel for one of them. Each editor comments on each story. It’s amazing to see the variety of reactions. One editor will say, ‘This is the best story.’ The next will say, ‘I couldn’t get past the first page.’ Self-publishing has exploded, but 80% of the industry is still print-based. Publish-on-demand can fill the gap, but there’s no distribution.

SK: It really makes a difference. 90% of our books have had missing information, or misinformation on their Amazon listings. Gemma Files’ Experimental Film was out last fall. Amazon finally has it in pre-order.

EG: Amazon wants to go 100% epublishing, but print is still a thing. They’re saying ‘no’ to 80% of their market. What about outside the US?

SK: One thing epublishing has done for us is that we can re-issue novels where the rights have reverted to the authors.

Q: Publishing has changed over the last fifty years. Attention spans are shortening. Is this why serialized fiction is coming into fashion?

TD: Series have always been important. In a series, the characters become friends. It’s an advantage, but not a necessity. There are stand alones. I have a quarrel with literary fiction. Up to five hundred yers ago, everything that lasted was fantasy. Dickens was reviled for being too popular.

Q: Podcasts and transmedia works, are they the responsibility of the publisher?

SK: We’d love to do all the things, but we can’t. We have to network.

TD: Tor has a contract with NASA because they feel that science fiction brought young people to science. They have a massive education project. We are trying to reach a broader audience.

And that was time.

Next week, I’ll be taking in more writerly goodness at the Canadian Writers’ Summit, so I will be taking a brief blogging vacation. We’ll catch y’all up over the weekend of the 25th/26th when I’ll be presenting my notes from the how to get an agent panel 🙂

Embracing zero

This week’s prompt:

QOTW 10: Embrace Your Zero Moment

The hardest step in your creative development is the “zero moment,” the point where you go from doing nothing to doing something. The distance between the zero moment and being a newbie is far greater than the distance between newbie and pro, yet rarely does anyone celebrate this pivotal, important step.

Today, I want you to celebrate. Think back to your zero moment and do something to celebrate that incredible leap of faith. Maybe your zero moment was ages ago and you’ve forgotten all about it. Maybe you’re in that moment right now. Regardless of where you are on your writing journey, I want you to pause and celebrate that enormous first step that brought you to where you are now.

 

I’ve actually written about this before, but it’s been a while, so this will be a good refresher.

So . . . I was deep in my agnostic writer phase, post-MA.

What’s an agnostic writer, you ask? Exactly what it sounds like.

The angsty version: I hoped this thing I wanted for myself (writing) was out there, but I didn’t know for sure. I’d written before, fairly regularly, even, but the MA had shaken my faith and self-confidence so much that I had serious doubts as to whether I had what it takes to find it again. What if I wasn’t worthy (as certain people had suggested)?

The funny/grounded version: I couldn’t get my ass to believe in the existence of the chair long enough to sit down and git ‘er done.

I felt the need to write within me, but I also felt fear and the fear was bigger than the need.

It’s not like I didn’t write during this period, but there are only so many times you can rewrite the first fifty pages of a novel. Story ideas stayed largely buried in the pages of my journals. Every time I sat down to write one of them, the words seemed unequal to the task.

It wasn’t the words that were unequal.

I joined the local writing group. I started to attend workshops.

And then, Nino Ricci came to town for a weekend workshop. For those of you who may not know, Nino is a big name, award-winning, Canadian literary author. Part of the weekend was workshopping our stories, the other part was a series of informal talks in which he shared his thoughts on drafting, revision, process, publication, and other aspects of the writing life.

The pivotal moment for me was when he shared his struggles in graduate school when his advisor was a legendary Canadian literary author.

His experience mirrored my own.

I wasn’t alone.

After that workshop, I sat in the chair. I wrote my words. At first, I was happy if I could write anything, even a sentence or two. Some days I faltered, but I worked up to a page a day. Then I wrote two a day.

At the end of a year, I had the first draft of my first novel.

More writing workshops, conferences, online critique groups, and I had a revised draft. I started writing short stories again. I tried NaNoWriMo. I started tracking my writing progress.

Now, I’m a writing machine 🙂 I have six novels drafted and I’m working on revising them. I’m querying my first novel. Two of my science fiction short stories have been published in paying markets.

And it all started with someone sharing his hardship.

That’s why I share my story. If I can help one writer the way Nino Ricci helped me, I am happy to show my tender belly. Every writer has been there. You are not the only one.

Please raise a glass to the zero moment. We each have our journey. It has to start somewhere.

Muse-inks

Review of DIYMFA by Gabriela Pereira: What it should have been but never was

What Amazon says:

DIYMFACoverGet the Knowledge Without the College!

You are a writer. You dream of sharing your words with the world, and you’re willing to put in the hard work to achieve success. You may have even considered earning your MFA, but for whatever reason–tuition costs, the time commitment, or other responsibilities–you’ve never been able to do it. Or maybe you’ve been looking for a self-guided approach so you don’t have to go back to school.

This book is for you.

DIY MFA is the do-it-yourself alternative to a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. By combining the three main components of a traditional MFA–writing, reading, and community–it teaches you how to craft compelling stories, engage your readers, and publish your work.

Inside you’ll learn how to:

  • Set customized goals for writing and learning.
  • Generate ideas on demand.
  • Outline your book from beginning to end.
  • Breathe life into your characters.
  • Master point of view, voice, dialogue, and more.
  • Read with a “writer’s eye” to emulate the techniques of others.
  • Network like a pro, get the most out of writing workshops, and submit your work successfully.

Writing belongs to everyone–not only those who earn a degree. With DIY MFA, you can take charge of your writing, produce high-quality work, get published, and build a writing career.

My thoughts:

Gabriela Pereira was compelled to create DIYMFA, the website, community, course, podcast, and now book, after her disappointing experience with her Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program.

Like Gabriela, I went the route of the Master’s degree, believing that I needed the validation. It was the lie I believed, and it almost ended my writing career before it began.

DIYMFA is what the MFA program should be (or should aspire to be) but never was.

Most MFA programs centre on critique—without teaching the students what it takes to offer and receive constructive feedback—and coaching/mentorship by someone who may or may not even understand their own creative process, let alone be able to articulate it, or guide their mentee to their process and best mode of creative expression without imposing some ideal of “how things should be done.”

Admittedly, MFA programs have matured and improved, but rather than focus what should be a review of an amazing guide to the writing life on an indictment of the graduate institution, I’m going to, in grand rhetorical style, return to the matter at hand (see? Academia has ruined me—ruined!).

Gabriela divides her guide into three sections: write with focus; read with purpose; and build your community.

In the first, she offers a brief, but engaging, examination of all the essential points of craft that writers must master. There is no one way to reach the destination, but a multitude of paths from which writers can choose based on their personal goals and aptitudes. Self-knowledge and self-confidence are the foundations upon which craft is built.

While the reading with purpose section is shorter than the other two, it is no less important. Gabriela emphasizes a balanced approach throughout DIYMFA. All three aspects, writing, reading, and community, are essential to creative development.

Learning to read and analyze the text, not like an academic, but like a writer, is what this second section is all about. We have to learn about craft first and begin to apply it before we can learn to recognize it in the writing of others and extract lessons from that purposeful reading that we can take back to the page.

Finally, in this brave new world of social media, how do we tackle the task of finding our audiences, reaching out to them, and building a community of writerly friends, readers, and fans?

In all aspects of DIYMFA, Gabriela has studied and learned from the best in the industry, and she unpacks these lessons in an accessible and engaging way.

One of the things I enjoyed most about DIYMFA is that Gabriela draws on her statistics background and mathematical bent to offer charts, matrices, and unique visualizations that will help readers and learners find a way into the material she presents.

And, as a self-confessed word nerd, she exercises her talent for acronyms and initialisms, creating fun mnemonics to encapsulate concepts and principles for her writerly audience.

Having sung the praises of DIYMFA as an alternative to a traditional MFA program, I must point out that Gabriela never disparages academia, in fact, traditional programs are pointed out as viable options for the aspiring writer.

What if that writer has economic, domestic, or temporal limitations, though? It is for those writers-in-progress that DIYMFA has been crafted.

DIYMFA earns my highest recommendation.

My rating:

FIVE STARS!

About the author:GabrielaPereira

Gabriela Pereira is the Instigator of DIYMFA.com, the do-it-yourself alternative to a Masters degree in writing. While undercover as an MFA student, she invented a slew of writing tools of her own and developed a new, more effective way for writers to learn their craft. She dubbed it DIY MFA and now her mission is to share it with the world. Teaching at conferences and online, Gabriela has helped hundreds of writers get the MFA experience without going to school. She also hosts DIY MFA Radio, where she recreates the MFA speaker series in podcast form.

Before becoming a writer, Gabriela has done lots of wild and nerdy things like: playing violin at Carnegie Hall, singing madrigals in full Renaissance garb, designing toys for kids ages toddler to tween, and taking applied topology and number theory “just for kicks.” Despite her varied interests, Gabriela’s main passions have always been teaching and design. Now at DIY MFA she can bring these two elements together. Her favorite thing to do is come up with new dastardly plans and innovative resources for writers.

When she’s not teaching or developing new courses, Gabriela loves to write middle grade and teen fiction, with short stories for “grown-ups” thrown in for good measure. A New Yorker born and raised, she lives in NYC with Lawyer-Hubby, Little Man, Lady Bug, and Office Cat.

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, May 29-June 4, 2016

A nice variety this week.

Sudbury’s Health Sciences North put boots on the ground to help the people of Attawapiskat. Carol Mulligan for The Sudbury Star.

Laurentian University is now requiring all arts students to take Indigenous Studies courses. Kudos! CBC.

Morris Davis says he’s fine if goldfish have more patience than Millennials 😉 Ontuitive.

How Mark Zuckerberg led Facebook’s war to crush Google Plus. Vanity Fair.

Portland now generates electricity from turbines installed in city water pipes. Rafi Schwartz for Good.

Phil Plait shares footage of the latest SpaceX landing—from the Falcon 9’s perspective 🙂 Slate.

Here’s how the government on Mars will work, according to Elon Musk. Kurt Wagner for Recode.

I just—I can’t even. Apparently Texas representative Louis Gohmert wants to save us from same sex space colonies . . . ? Phil Plait, getting wacky for Slate.

When everyone got the vote. This is Finland.

For the women with balls who do give a fuck. Kate Rose for Elephant Journal.

Research reveals that a three day work week might be better for people over 40. I hope this research gets confirmed, pronto. Simplemost.

Lolly Daskal lists eight tiny habits that will make you happier. Inc.

A neuroscientist points out a benefit to exercise that’s rarely discussed. Quartz.

This is creepy-weird: there’s a mental illness called walking corpse syndrome that makes people think they’re dead. Medical Daily.

King Tut had a knife made from a meteorite. Slate.

Marian Evans explores Rosslyn Chapel’s ancient bee sanctuary. Bee-loved.

And that was your thoughty for this week.

Thoughty Thursday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 29-June 4, 2016

Your Writerly Goodness for the week!

Bonnie Randall upcycles and upends clichés on Janice Hardy’s Fiction University.

K.M. Weiland offers six tips for how to organize your novel’s edits. Helping writers become authors. Later in the week, she provides three resources to help you unlock fascinating character goals.

Leanne Sowul explores learning through failure for DIYMFA.

Kristen Lamb looks at botched beginnings and common first page killers.

Ruth Harris lists nine ways editors can make you look good and seven ways they can make you miserable. Anne R. Allen’s blog.

Julia Munroe Martin asks, are we having fun yet? Why can’t the work of writing be fun? Writer Unboxed.

OMG, I love this! Lauren Carter explores the difference between discipline and devotion.

Juliet Marillier writes about focus, and how to regain it. Writer Unboxed.

Donald Maass characterizes the difference between literary and genre as the difference between scenes and postcards. Writer Unboxed.

Jami Gold wonders, can we track out improvements in writing quality?

Becca Puglisi covers this entry in Emotional Wounds for Writers Helping Writers: Being Stalked.

Here I am, curating the curators again 🙂 Elissa Field shares some great resources in her Friday Links for Writers.

Porter Anderson interviews Aron Levitz of Canada’s WattPad Studios. Porter Anderson Media

Debut novelist Anakana Schofield wonders why media is more interested in her than her novel, and . . . why can’t she get paid? The Guardian.

Sachiko Murakami interviews Anita Anand on the hardest thing about being a writer. Writing So Hard.

This is BEAUTIFUL. Astronomers attempt to date Sappho’s Midnight Poem using the stars. Carey Dunne for Hyperallergic.

Elizabeth Alsop says, the future is almost now. On the power of science fiction storytelling. The Atlantic.

Kim Stanley Robinson explains the technology behind his novel, Aurora. BoingBoing

Storytelling sadness for me: Makiko Futaki, the animator behind some of Studio Ghibli’s best anime, has died 😦 Konbini

Yum! Brit Mandelo wrote an amazing essay about Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle. Please do not read this if you haven’t read the full series. Major Spoilers! But it’s so good 🙂 Tor.com

This goes in Tipsday. One of my favourite ballads that tells a lovely story 🙂 The Once: Maid on the Shore.

 

Have fun! See you Thursday.

Tipsday

The next chapter: May 2016 update

The year of revision is progressing steadily.

MayProgress

I finished my first run through of Marushka, which ended up at 75,473 words total, 33,258 of which were revised in May, and moved on to Reality Bomb. I revised 17,624 words on that manuscript.

I achieved 136% of my revision goal for May with 50,882 words revised.

All my writing was on Writerly Goodness, and, because I joined Gabriela Pereira’s DIYMFA launch team and have been posting twice each weekend, I’ve achieved 181% of my writing goal for May with 10,474 words on the web.

In other news, I’ve let my querying slip. I’ve received enough form rejections that I have this feeling I need to return to Initiate of Stone and give the manuscript another run. I’ve come up with some ideas to improve my first pages (and other stuff) as a result of working on Apprentice of Wind and I’m not sure I should burn any more agent bridges . . .

At the same time, I want to continue on the chance that I haven’t presented IoS to the agent that will love it. I’ve had success pitching the novel in person to both agents and small publishers, so the idea has merit. It must be the execution that needs work.

Accordingly, I’m probably going to take a break from revising RB for a few days to focus on reworking the first chapter and query of IoS and then get back at it.

I’ve booked my flight to Kansas City in August. I’m one step closer to WorldCon and a visit with a friend who lives in KC. So looking forward.

In the meantime, the Canadian Writers’ Summit is taking place in less than two weeks. I’m looking forward to that, as well, but the scheduling is a bit strange. Because the

CWS is a joint conference between a number of professional writing organizations in Canada, some of the sessions are overlapping. It will make things challenging, but I’m also going to get to attend a great session by Robert J. Sawyer, as well as key note addresses by Jean Little, Kenneth Oppel, and Nalo Hopkinson.

If I had more leave, I might have gone down Wednesday evening to see Lawrence Hill, but I had to make a choice between the CWS and WorldCon/friend visitation. Seeing a new city and an old friend won out 🙂

A new short story idea is brewing for an anthology call later in the year, but I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to short fiction this year, as was the plan. We’ll see if I can keep the idea from blowing up into a novel-sized concept and premise.

I’ve signed up for another online course, this time from one of my favourite authors/writing craft experts, Kate Weiland. It’s another thing I’m looking forward to. We’ll let you know how things go in future updates.

And that’s it for now.

I’m doing too much, as usual, but enjoying every minute of it. I’m really not happy unless I’m learning something/pushing my boundaries.

Hope everyone has a productive, happy-making month!

The Next Chapter

Feeding my creativity

Here’s the prompt Gabriela sent this week for the DIYMFA launch team:

“Coming up with ideas takes practice. You have to train your brain to get creative on demand. You can’t sit around waiting for your muse to show up because she might take her sweet time. Instead, you have to go after your muse. Hunt her down and show her who’s boss. One writer told me he “keeps his muse chained to his desk.”

While I find that mental image of the muse-prisoner hilarious, I prefer to think of it a little differently. I have a shrine to my muse, a small box I call the ORACLE. (Like most things in DIY MFA, ORACLE is an acronym that stands for outrageous ridiculously awesome creative literary exercises.) Just like the ancient Greeks made pilgrimages to oracle temples so they could get guidance and wisdom from their gods, I visit my ORACLE whenever I feel the creative well going dry.

These contents have changed over time, but a few things have stayed constant:

  • Dice: I use dice for writing exercises whenever I need to leave something up to chance. I’ll assign each number an option, and then do whatever the roll decides.
  • Word Box: This small box contains slips of paper with words on them. I pull a few words out of the box at random, and then write a short piece that uses all those words.
  • Image Box: I keep an old chocolate tin filled with photos I clipped from magazines or postcards I picked up at museums. Whenever I’m stuck for ideas, I use those images to spark a story.

These are just a few things I keep in my ORACLE. I also have a paper prototype of the Writer Igniter app, a Writer Igniter deck of cards (also an early prototype for the app), a stack of fortune cookie fortunes, and a pocket-sized book of prompts.

Do you have an ORACLE? If not, treat yourself and start putting one together this week. It took me several years to refine and build my ORACLE, so don’t feel like you have to fill it overnight. Go out, get a nifty container, and start assembling materials to put in it.”

Muse-inks

I don’t have an oracle. I’ve bought decks of story cards, but, I have to confess that I don’t use them. I’m not fond of prompts, honestly, though the idea for one of my novels did result from a prompt. It was a Natalie Goldberg prompt, though, so that may have had an impact on how things turned out 😉

A lot of my story ideas come from my dreams, which, when I can remember them, are quite theatrical/cinematic in scope.

Other ideas come from articles that I read that trigger interesting connections in my head. I talked about the reasons I started my Thoughty Thursday curation a couple of weeks ago. I keep this curation going for myself as much as for others.

I share the posts and articles that make me think, start the mental corn a-popping. Some of those pops ignite story ideas.

I’ve always had story ideas, and more ideas than I knew how to write, especially when I was young. I used to write my stories (so-called) in Hilroy exercise books. I still have them. I still have most of the stories I wrote for school, too.

When I had an idea that I wasn’t sure how to write, I’d write as much as I could about it in one of those notebooks. Eventually, spiral bound notebooks and loose leaf paper replaced the exercise books.

That was the beginning of my idea file.

I mentioned last week as well was that when I was in university, I started making those thoughty connections with all the things I was learning in my classes. Psychology fed into sociology fed into Taoism fed into Old English fed into genetics fed into astronomy.

I started keeping my first journal in those years.

I have a stack of them now.

I keep one beside my bed to capture dream ideas.

I carry one in my purse so I can write down ideas that occur at work or when I’m otherwise away from other means of capturing them. I could use my smart(er than me) phone, but I like the feel of pen on paper. I take all my conference and convention session notes by hand as well.

Also during my university years, I worked in libraries. I learned a lot about research in those years, and, in the course of processing books and magazines to put on the shelves, if I came across an article that elicited a pop, I’d copy it. I called it being a clip rat.

These, too, went into my idea file.

I once clipped an entire series from a newspaper on families living on welfare. I also copied articles on the future of economics. And yes, both of these have story ideas that go along with them.

When the library’s collection was culled, I bought whatever books I could afford from the resulting sale. I accumulated a number of interesting, if slightly out of date, reference books, including an etymological dictionary (in two volumes), a name dictionary, and a couple of collections of popular quotations.

Currently, I read a number of blogs using Feedly. Before Feedly, I used Google Reader (when they announced the end of Google Reader, I was in a panic until Michael Hyatt mentioned Feedly in one of his blog posts).

Things that inspire an idea for a story, I clip to Evernote.

When I start working on a story, outlining, drafting, revising, I do my research in dribs and drabs. I use Evernote to capture online research as well.

Finally, my husband is a great source of ideas. We watch a lot of science fiction, fantasy, historical, and anime series. We have discussions about them. Because my man is Mr. Science, he’ll often have a few things to say about the poor science in a science fiction series. One of my stories was inspired by a discussion we had about Star Trek: The Next Generation.

He’s also very critical of story/plot quality. We can have animated conversations about what writers do and fail to do in the series we like to watch.

I can also fact check some of my SF ideas with him. He’s awesome that way 😀

So, I have lots of ideas and a lot of the resources I need to refine them.

I find that the best way to come up with story ideas is to be present, pay attention, and capture them however you can.

I like to keep things simple.

Tomorrow: It’s next chapter update time 🙂

Next week: DIYMFA will be out on the 10th! I’ll be posting my review to Amazon and Goodreads, and posting it to Writerly Goodness on Saturday.

Have a great weekend!

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, May 22-28, 2016

Thoughty Thursday is weird and wonderful this week. Well . . . weird, anyway.

On refugees: a history of the ‘other’ in Sudbury. Nilgiri Pearson for Sudbury.com

This was one of the sad bits of new to come out in Canada this week: Gord Downie, lead singer of The Tragically Hip, diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. The Globe and Mail.

Here’s the sensationalist article: bodies of strange creatures found in the basement of old London home. Design you trust. And now, the real story: the truth behind the viral story of mysterious skeletons in London basement. The Earth Child.

Complain all you want, but your busy schedule may be helping your brain. Angus Chen for NPR.

Angela Hanscom wonders why can’t children stay still in the classroom? It turns out that movement is critical to attention and learning. The Washington Post.

How to be happy: lessons from an Amazonian tribe. Rick Warren for Medium.

A psychologist identifies three elements that determine happiness. Diane Koopman for LifeHack.

Finding 16 cents on the sidewalk helped one person recognize something important about happiness. The Business Insider.

The more I learn about this man, the more I love him. Albert Einstein: racism is a disease of white people. Open Culture looks at his little-known fight for civil rights.

The #HeForShe Media Summit (it’s an hour and a half long) featuring Patricia Arquette and Joss Whedon. UN Women.

 

Maisha Z. Johnson offers a black feminist’s guide to the racist shit too many white feminists say. Everyday Feminism.

Amanda Vickery says it’s time to bring female artists out of storage. The Guardian.

This is too cool. This Finnish university gives its doctoral graduates a funky top hat and sword. This is so Hogwarts, I have the desire to get my PhD! Oh. Tuition. Dissertation. But top hat and sword!

Jupiter gets his by visible asteroid impacts six times a year. Phil Plait for Slate.

Ed Yong reports a shocking find in a Neanderthal cave in France. The Atlantic.

The gruesome history of eating corpses as medicine. Maria Dolan for The Smithsonian.

Coming up: The next chapter will be coming out this weekend. I might have one more DIYMFA QotW, too! Oh, the writerly life 🙂

Thoughty Thursday