Bidding farewell to 2017

Greetings, all!

K. Tempest Bradford shared something that Catherynne Valente wrote:

“If this were a trilogy, 2016 would be the explosively dramatic establishment of conflict. 2017 would be the lowest point, when all seems lost. And 2018 would be the redemption, the triumph snatched from defeat at the last moment, the victory over darkness. Here’s to 2018.”

As a writer of science fiction and fantasy, this struck me as true. Not real, but true.

Not only has the political situation been depressing (Trump and Brexit), but also continued terror attacks, refugees in the millions, mass shootings, sexual assault and harassment revelations, floods, fire, hurricanes, and cyclones … it really feels as if the world is falling apart on all levels.

Even I, as a Canadian, shielded from much of the douche-baggery rampant in the world, have felt the weight of depression more this year that in the several preceding. I’m still struggling with burnout, but I know that I’m in good company. Many of the authors, mostly American, that I follow online have expressed similar sentiments, though for different, and many more dire, reasons.

John Scalzi has had to slow the pace of his writing to deal. Kameron Hurley has had the medical rug pulled out from under her and is seeking to move to Canada, or at least to some place she doesn’t need to shell out thousands a month for the medication she needs to save her life.

Though Chuck Wendig initially expressed similar sentiments at the beginning of the year, he is also considering a move to another state, where state medical benefits can shore up the deficits in the national plan.

But even in 2017, some good things happened. Another thing I saw this morning was former president Obama’s tweets about some of those events.

Communities struck by tragedy have rallied to support their members. Whistle blowers have spoken out and inspired other victims to do the same. There is hope, even in the midst of the dark tea time of the soul. There can be no shadow without the light.

Trump hasn’t been half as successful as he says, and although he managed to dismantle the accessible healthcare act and protection for dreamers, his continual public displays of ignorance, misogyny, and other-phobia, combined with the scandals that continue to dog his heels give me hope for the future.

Then again, I (and so many other people) never thought he’d get into office in the first place.

Brexit proceeds, as it must, changing the political and trade landscape of Europe.

Global warming continues to mess with weather patterns creating monster storms, floods, and conditions ideal for wildfires.

Even here, in north eastern (more like central) Ontario we’ve felt the effects. In the last couple of years, we’ve had green Christmases. This year, it looked like the same thing was going to happen. We had a lovely, warm fall, but then the snow arrived on its usual schedule. And then we got hammered by cold temperatures we usually don’t see until January or February. New Year’s celebrations across Canada have been cancelled or moved indoors because it’s too cold to ask people to stand outside for very long.

Even Torvi, who I’m convinced has husky in her, who loves to stay outside much longer than her humans can bear to, is doing the cold paw dance and willingly comes inside once her business is done.

But the winter solstice is past and it’s getting lighter a little earlier each day. I have hope that this, too, shall pass.

I have hope that mid-term elections in the States will shift the balance of power in senate and congress.

I have hope that as more people speak out against injustice, the rest of the world will finally listen.

I have hope that we can turn the tide in our dependence of fossil fuels and invest more in renewable energy before it’s too late.

The point is, I have hope. I hope for a lot of things, but I have hope.

In the summer, when I embarked on the Writing Excuses Cruise, I wanted to make a breakthrough of some kind. I’ve been feeling for a couple of year that I’ve been on the cusp of something. I know. I’m a slow learner, I guess. I got my breakthrough, but not in the way I expected.

It took Emma Newman to ask me to look deeper for the source of my prolonged burnout. I immediately felt resistance to the suggestion, which told me it was exactly what I needed to do. I cracked the shell on the cruise, but it’s taken me some time to muck about in the goo within to come to terms.

When I first exposed my tender underbelly to a group of writers, I thought I finally had my past trauma under my thumb. I mistakenly thought that my inner editor, informed by a series of threshold guardian experiences, was the thing I had to conquer.

Yes and no.

I had to overcome the inner editor to believe that my work was good enough to submit. It wasn’t long after that, that I started to get second readings, short list placements, contest wins, and finally, a couple of paid publications. So it was work I had to do.

Then I stalled.

Those threshold guardian experiences instilled in me an instinctive, but wrong-headed, mistrust of editors, critique partners, and generally anyone else in whose hands I might put my words. Though I’ve worked with a few editors, took their advice, and worked to improve my stories, I think part of me has been trying to sabotage my own efforts. The resistance has always been there, the distrust.

So that’s my big goal for 2018. I have a critique group, and I’m going to work it. I’m going to open myself up and see if I can’t make one of my novels into something that agents and editors will like.

So … there it is, out in the world. My big, scary goal for 2018.

Be vulnerable. Get out of my own way.

And hope that everything will turn out for the best in the end.

Have a triumphant 2018, everyone!

Until the New Year, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.



Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 17-23, 2017

It’s another tiny thoughty Thursday to finish off the year.

Steve LeVine compiles a list of the biggest AI stories of 2017. Axios

Patrick Caughill: SpaceX is leading the rise of an entirely new industry. Futurism

They escaped child marriage and now they’re speaking out. Kyle Almond for CNN.

Bill Donohue is seeking the lost art of growing old with intention. Outside

Anna Lovind: how to make darkness magical. Because we all need more magic in our lives.

Natasha Frost reviews the year in animal accomplishments. Atlas Obscura

Hope that was enough to get some mental corn popping.

Be well until the weekend!


Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Dec 17-23, 2017

It’s the last instalment of informal writerly learnings of 2017! Not to worry, I’m not stopping the writerly goodness any time soon 😉

Jane Friedman hosts Peter Selgin on her blog: the deadliest first page sin, plus a critique of two novel openings.

Vaughn Roycroft presents the pantsing leftoverture. Writer Unboxed

Dave King: surprise! Writer Unboxed

Kathleen McCleary: what to give yourself this year. Writer Unboxed

Joanna Penn interviews Douglas Smith about writing short fiction for The Creative Penn podcast.

Emily Wenstrom recommends three types of social media posts you should be using. DIY MFA

Stacy B. Woodson shares seven lessons she learned from Lisa Gardner at Crime Bake. DIY MFA

Gabriela Pereira interviews Ada Palmer about writing speculative fiction for DIY MFA radio.

Gabriela Pereira: creativity is craft and it belongs to everyone. TEDxWilmingtonWomen


My latest contribution to DIY MFA: five reasons to book a writing cruise.

Jennie Nash stops by the Writers Helping Writers coaching corner: creating the perfect elevator pitch.

Jamie Raintree offers five ways to use the holiday season to benefit your writing career. Writers in the Storm

Jami Gold explains how to create scene endings that hook readers.

Jenna Moreci: common world building mistakes.


Chris Winkle lists five reasons your story is transphobic (and what to do about it). Mythcreants

As she turns 90, suspense still thrills Mary Higgins Clark. Lynn Neary for NPR.

Alison Flood: “Cat Person” author’s debut novel sparks flurry of international publishing deals. The Guardian

A.N. Devers: this is how a woman is erased from her job. Longreads

Michelle Dean: what makes someone a predator? The New York Times

Victoria Schwab: in praise of strange books. NPR

Ava DuVernay decided to direct A Wrinkle in Time so she could create new worlds. Evan Narcisse for i09.

Minute Physics: time travel in fiction rundown.


I hope your holiday celebrations were filled with joy, family, and friends.

Be well until Thursday!



Things for which I am thankful in 2017

I know that gratitude is something that’s supposed to be reserved for Thanksgiving, but in this year of political upheaval and general dreck, I wanted to share my list of things for which I am thankful in 2017.

Things have been shifting for me in the past couple of years. I’m not expending as much energy at the day job and trying to focus on what makes me happy, namely, writing and my family.

Accordingly, the first item on my list is: Phil.

Though he may not understand me all the time, Phil has been unfailingly supportive and loving. We really are the best of friends.

I am also grateful for my mom, who, likely because I’ve chosen not to have kids, continues to care for me long after I’ve become an independent adult. Phil and I should be taking care of her, and we do, but moms are moms, ya?

I give thanks for my extended family, Phil’s mom and sister and her husband. We’re a small family up here, but that’s just the right size for us.

I’m thankful for my dearest friends, Margaret, Kim, Yana, Sandy, Sharon, and Stacy. These people have been in my life for a long time and even if we don’t chat often, we do keep in touch and keep each other grounded.

I’m grateful for my job, believe it or not. Having a day job gives me enough disposable income to travel and attend writerly events. It also gives me the opportunity to take self-funded leaves, like the one I just finished. While it’s still a dream of mine to be able to quit and devote my time to my craft, for now, it remains a dream. And I have some great co-workers, many of whom I count among my friends.

I’m thankful for my writing community, locally, and on line. There are so many of you, now, that I can’t list you all. But know that you’ve all contributed to my development as an artist. If I ever do get a novel published, it will be due, in part, to all of you.

I’m very thankful to have had the opportunity to attend the Writing Excuses Baltic Cruise. It really was a transformative event, as I continue to say.

And I’m thankful for Torvi, though she’s driving me a bit mad with her puppy shenanigans at the moment.


Here she is, doing her best imitation of a good dog 😉 The perspective’s off a bit because of the angle I took the picture at. Her head is still big, proportionally, but not that big …

We weighed her yesterday. She’s 25 pounds and on Tuesday, she’ll be three months old (!)

Phil and I have been ready to welcome a new pup into our lives for about a year. This fall, everything came together like it was kismet. Torvi was meant to be our pup.

And now, all that’s left is to say Merry Christmas. And to those who celebrate other traditions, I hope you have had, or will have, the best of times with family and friends. That’s what this time of year is all about, after all.

Blessings to you all!

Be kind, be well, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.



My latest post on DIY MFA

Aside from my regular column, I pitched an idea for a #5onFri post about writing cruise.

Yeah. Cause I went on one of those 😉

Please, join me over at DIY MFA for #5onFri: Five reasons to book a writing cruise.



Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 10-16, 2017

It’s time again to get the mental corn popping. In a small way.

I think I’ve figured out why my Thoughty Thursday curations have been suffering of late. 2017 has simply been an exhausting year. Though as a Canadian, I haven’t been in the thick of it, the madness is there, every day. It’s in the news, in the posts of friends and writers I follow, it’s EVERYWHERE.

There’s no escaping it.

And so I find myself shutting down. I don’t want to engage in all the sturm und drang. It makes my heart hurt. But it’s all important stuff. A lot of it needs to be shared. But I get selective. Because exhausted.

I seriously hope 2018 is a little lighter on the soul.

Salma Hayek: Harvey Weinstein is my monster, too. The New York Times

Courtney E. Martin: this isn’t about bad apples; It’s about our broken sexual culture. On Being

Why are America’s farmers killing themselves in record numbers? Debbie Weingarten for The Guardian.

The Boston Globe takes a hard look at its city. Boston. Racism. Image. Reality.

Christen Reighter: I don’t want children—stop telling me I’ll change my mind. TED Talks


Be well until the weekend.



Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Dec 10-16, 2017

Please find linked your informal writerly learnings for the week.

Jane Friedman gives you a book launch plan for first-time authors without an online presence.

Jami Gold takes her turn in the Writers Helping Writers coaching corner: episodic vs. epic.

Later in the week, Jami talks transitions on her own blog: meanwhile, back in our subplot …

Piper Bayard helps you win the anxiety war. Writers in the Storm

Sharon Bially touts the power of a writing group for publishing success. Writer Unboxed

David Corbett helps you motivate the reluctant protagonist. Writer Unboxed

Sarah Callender looks at fiction and improv and discovers that they’re sisters from different misters. Writer Unboxed

Kathryn Craft helps you bring your dialog to life. Writer Unboxed

Don’t get rolled by bad publicity. Porter Anderson on Writer Unboxed.

Leanne Sowul interviews Carol van den Hende for DIY MFA: be well, write well.

Melanie Bell shares five books that will help you start and finish your writing. DIY MFA

Steven Pressfield: the villain is not always a person.

Paige Duke helps you survive rejection. Standout Books

Oren Ashkenazi presents six tips for writing sequels. Later in the week, Oren lists five insufficient reasons for including bigotry in your story. Mythcreants

Ursula K. Le Guin explains how to build a new kind of utopia. Electric Lit

Then Ursula appears on Open Democracy, encouraging science fiction and fantasy authors to envision alternatives to capitalism.

CBC Books presents a guide to writing prizes for Canadians.

Jason Guriel: the case against reading everything. The Walrus

Olivia Zaleski reports that two Audible executives depart after harassment probe. The Seattle Times

Have you read “Cat Person” yet? I have, and apparently, I’m in good company: New Yorker short story triggers record-breaking response. Heloise Wood for The Bookseller.

Jessica Jernigan: the book that made me a feminist was written by an abuser. Electric Lit

Naima Coster: my editor was black. Catapult

Be well until Thursday!



Muse-Inks: Back to work

This is going to be a short post because I find myself running behind … already.

I returned to work on Thursday. It was a short week. But, as often happens with short weeks, it felt really long.

My mom’s taking care of Torvi while Phil and I go to work. We’re so fortunate to have her support. I think the house would be demolished if we had to leave Torvi alone. Yes, she would be restricted to the kitchen, but still. There’s a lot of stuff she could get into that we just don’t have the cabinet space to put beyond her reach.

I was worried about how Mom would fare. Torvi’s still wilful and bitey. But it worked out.


I wish she was always this sweet 🙂

We made it through week one.

But I’m still adjusting. I’m trying to get all the work done that I used to and still give Torvi the time she needs.

It’s been a challenge.

This weekend, I sacrificed some time to go shopping and booked a socialization session with Torvi’s cousin Buster (I’ve shared pics of buster before—Phil and I have pup-sat him for Phil’s sister Steph a couple of times).

And we’ve confirmed that Torvi gets car sick. She threw up on me on the way out and on the way back. Good thing Sunday is laundry day.

It’s good to know. We have to plan for this in the future. Particularly on Christmas Day, when we’re heading back out to Steph’s for the holiday feasting. This was the point of our socialization today. We didn’t want disaster on Christmas Day.

Fortunately, Torvi and Buster get along just fine.

This week will be a three day work week. I booked a couple additional days of leave just before Christmas (you’d think I’d planned it!).

Then another three day week after Boxing Day, a four day week after New Year’s Day, and then, full five day work weeks.

It’s a good transition for me and for Torvi.

I’ll keep you informed about how things progress.

Until next I blog, be kind, be well, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.



Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 3-9, 2017

It’s time, once again, to get your mental corn popping.

Yes, it’s another short post. I’ve been recognizing the trend recently.

Gillian Flynn: … I don’t feel triumphant. I feel humiliated and angry. Time

Chuck Wendig sounds off (in his inimitable fashion) on issues of consent and basic human decency. Dear mens: your greasy demon hands are in time out. Terribleminds

Jaela Bernstein reports on the massive, ice-age cavern found beneath Montreal. CBC

Anthony Wood lists ten of the world’s most creative cities to live, work, and play in. Creative Boom

Vsauce from last year . . . Mind Field: Isolation.


Brian Resnick: what would it take to kill all the tardigrades (the toughest organism on Earth)? Vox

Dom Galeon reports that artificial life just moved a step closer to reality. NBC

George Dvorsky shares a surreal (and beautiful) picture of Jupiter’s clouds. Gizmodo

Be well until the weekend.

Virtual hugs all around.



Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Dec 3-9, 2017

Here’s your informal writerly learnings for the week 🙂

Autocrit offers five quick editing wins for December. NaNoWriMo Tumblr

Laurie McLean of Fuse Literary gives an agent’s take on NaNoWriMo.

Lance Schaubert writes a defence of spoilers. Writer Unboxed

Donald Maass objects to the willing suspension of disbelief. Writer Unboxed

Lynne Griffin stops by Writer Unboxed. Dying to know, afraid to find out: building tension in fiction.

Allie Larkin is refilling the well. Writer Unboxed

Kathryn Magendie: the big ole scary monster at the window. Writer Unboxed

Sara Letourneau looks at identity as a theme in YA. DIY MFA

Brenda Joyce Patterson teaches you how to use small forms as steps to a novel. DIY MFA

Jonathan Vars: five tips for building tension into your scenes. DIY MFA

James Scott Bell visits the Writers Helping Writers coaching corner: ten ways to goose the muse.

Julie Glover wonders, what motivates you to finish? Writers in the Storm

Kristen Lamb says all wounds matter: writing better stories.

Jefferson Smith guest posts on Jami Gold’s blog: how can we improve our readers’ experience? Story immersion.

Author Amal El-Mohtar was detained for hours in customs because she was travelling to the States … even though she’s a Canadian citizen. CBC

Kazuo Ishiguro’s Nobel lecture: my twentieth century evening and other small breakthroughs.

Steph Farnsworth: science fiction, speculative fiction, and the problem of imagination erasing race (featuring Nisi Shawl). Stand Up

Here is part one of Adam Fitzgerald’s interview with Samuel Delaney: don’t romanticize science fiction. Literary Hub

Kari Maaren writes through grief: unfinished.

Stephanie Marchie describes what happened when she enlisted an algorithm to help her write the perfect piece of science fiction. Wired

Jess Zimmerman: when bad men define good art. Electric Lit

How we eclipse women’s literary brilliance with scandal. Sarah Seltzer for Jezebel.

Sarah Gailey: fear of the female voice.

I hope this writerly goodness will sustain you through the week!

Be well until Thoughty Thursday.