Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 18-24, 2018

Here are your informal writerly learnings for the week:

Elissa Field dissects Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. Writer Unboxed

Vaughn Roycroft explores the power of writing with the intent of giving your readers the feels: on writing and crying. Writer Unboxed

Heather Webb: they put your book down, but don’t take it personally. Writer Unboxed

Sara Letourneau stops by the Writers Helping Writers coaching corner: mapping your story’s setting.

Angela Ackerman says, if you want memorable characters, you should focus on the little things. Writers Helping Writers

Dan Koboldt visits Writer’s Digest: essential tips for crafting a three-book series.

Leanne Sowul asks, do your commitments reflect your priorities? DIY MFA

Brenda Joyce Patterson wants you to build rigor into your writing process. DIY MFA

Danielle Boccelli directs you to five unlikely places to find inspiration. DIY MFA

Margie Lawson helps you get emotion right on the page. Writers in the Storm

Peter Selgin guest posts on Jane Friedman’s blog. How to make the best of routine events in your fiction.

Jami Gold fills in the blanks of our writing knowledge.

Chris Winkle explains why you should avoid bigoted heroes who learn better. Mythcreants

Oren Ashkenazi lists six stories with contrived conflict (and tips on how to avoid the same mistakes). Mythcreants

Jenna Moreci: how to write while working full time/going to school/being a mother


Emily Temple presents the opinions of 31 authors on the topic of writing what you know. Literary Hub

Jenna Moreci: diversity in fiction.


Lila Shapiro shares the story of how author Keira Drake revised her YA novel after it was criticized for its racism. Was she successful? We’ll have to wait until the revised version is released in March … The Vulture

Sarah Churchwell says, it’s time for women to rewrite the story. The Guardian

David M. Perry: how will publishing deal with Lemony Snicket amid #metoo? Pacific Standard

Just because I still miss her (and probably will for the rest of my life): Ursula K. Le Guin on ageing and what beauty really means. Brain Pickings

Angela Watercutter: how Ava DuVernay became a creator of worlds. Wired

Maeve lists 21 beautiful Irish words that everyone needs in their lives. Buzzfeed

And that was Tipsday.

Be well until Thursday, when you can return for your weekly dose of thoughty 🙂



Muse-inks: Hanging in there

Another week has passed without a single word being written on my WIP. There. I wrote it down. It must be true.

Things at work continue to be stressful. The latest, poor feedback on the training I did a couple of weeks ago has resulted in an additional workshop, hastily pulled together, which only five of the eleven participants are taking part in. If it was that much of an issue, I’m sure all of them would have signed on.

Admittedly, two of them did withdraw from the mentoring phase of training and returned to their normal duties and one returned to his specialized unit where he had already been doing most of what we were delivering the training on, but still. Eight people should have signed on.

It’s the reactionary nature of my employer, though. So, I’ll do what I’ve been asked to do.

And then, I’m heading out of town for most of a week for an in-person team meeting, leaving Phil and my mom to deal with what I expect to be a very upset Torvi. This will be the first time I’ve been away overnight, or for more than a day.

I don’t think I’m going to be able to get much writing done over the next couple of weeks, either.

Things should ease off after that, though.

I signed up for Jennifer Louden’s Get back to Creating workshop, though, and while I didn’t participate, I did watch the videos and garnered some tips for when I’ll be ready to use them.

And I have been thinking about Playing with Fire in the last week. That’s something.

Phil’s work troubles aren’t quite at an end yet, either. Again, progress is being made, enough for Phil to feel comfortable taking a few days off, but it’s a slow process and new crises seem to pop up on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, Phil took Friday off to deal with a leak in the basement. It’s been warm (above zero degrees Celsius) and rainy in the last week or so. A fair amount of freezing rain as well. He’s waiting for the next deluge to see if his repairs will address the problem. If not, he may be obliged to rent a jackhammer and install some weeping tile inside the basement (below the concrete) to divert the water to the sump pump, which has, interestingly enough, remained dry the whole time.

This has, of course, meant, that while the basement is once more in disarray, it is forbidden to Torvi. Just a week after having opened it up to her, we’ve had to deny her access. It’s been a challenge. She doesn’t understand 😦

Torvi Tales (Tails?)

A couple of things have happened in the last week that have been amusing.

One night, after she’d settled down, Torvi was sleeping on her back, which she still often does, propped against my legs as I worked at my standing desk. Without warning, or my human ears detecting any noise, Torvi flips over with a thump and charges for the front of the house, barking like mad.

It was enough to get Phil up from downstairs.

I think she was dreaming.

With all the freezing rain, just getting Torvi out to do her business is a challenge. The first day, she was sliding down the driveway (her favourite place to do number one) while she peed. The look on her face was priceless.

She hasn’t attempted to pee in the driveway since, though. It’s meant an increase in accidents indoors. With a week of above-zero daytime temperatures and freezing overnight, I don’t anticipate remediation in the short term.

But, she’s our sweetie.

And here she is, challenging Mommy to play.

The current list of Torvi’s nicknames: Torv, the Torvster, Torvina, Torvi-adore (like toreador, and yes, I sometimes hum Tosca to her), turkey-Torvi (cause she can be), sweetie, sweet pea, love/my love/little love, lovey-bum, fuzzy butt, puppy love, wee one (we call all of our dogs that), and Phil has come up with an elaborate one … Torvi Consuela Josephine. Don’t ask me why. He can’t even explain where the impulse came from.

So that is the weekly update.

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


Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 11-17, 2018

Happy Friday Eve! Here’s a little something to get the mental corn popping.

Sad stuff first …

Kyle Edwards: the Gerald Stanley verdict is a terrifying blow to reconciliation. McLean’s

Rachel Giese wonders why Colton Boushie’s mother has had to work so hard to prove her son’s humanity? Chatelaine

Tage Rai: the myth that mental illness causes mass shootings. Behavioral Scientist

Max Fisher and Josh Keller examine the reason there are so many mass shootings in the US. The New York Times

Sean Illing interviews Steven Pinker for Vox: the case for optimism.

Katherine Ellen Foley explains why we cringe when someone else embarrasses themselves. It’s all about empathy. Quartzy

Chuck Wendig offers some quick thoughts on managing anxiety. Terribleminds

Emily Hartridge gives us an update on her anxiety and how she deals.


SciShow Psych: myths about schizophrenia.


SciShow Psych: dissociative identity disorder.


How Tim Lomas discovered there are (at least) 14 different kinds of love by analysing the world’s languages. The Conversation

Mireia Movellán Luis profiles the rise and fall of the mighty Minoans. National Geographic

SciShow: thunder snow. We have that up here 😉


Katherine Zuckerman thinks that if birds left tracks in the sky, they’d look like these amazing photos by Xavi Bou. National Gerographic

Check out this collection of leaf insects—love the ones that look like little flowers! Daily Motion

The BBC News reports on the fall of a 1,000-year-old tree in Wales.

Zoey Peresman reviews Kate Bush’s The Kick inside on its 40th anniversary. Stereo Gum

Be well until the weekend!


Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 11-17, 2018

Here are your informal writerly learnings for the week:

K.M. Weiland: cohesion and resonance! Helping Writers Become Authors

Joanna Penn interviews Becca Puglisi on writing with emotion and depth of character. The Creative Penn

Daeus Lamb: theme made simple. Writers Helping Writers

September C. Fawkes says the key to writing introspection well is to show “just enough.” Writers Helping Writers

Kristen Lamb: conflict is the elixir of the muse, creating timeless stories readers can’t put down.

Sara Letourneau: a case study on love as a literary theme. DIY MFA

Join me over at DIY MFA for my latest Speculations column. The science in your science fiction: conventional space travel.

Rebecca Monterusso lists the five essentials of every scene. DIY MFA

Chris Winkle: using poetic devices. Mythcreants

Oren Ashkenazi shares six tips to make your fantasy setting more immersive. Mythcreants

Jami Gold compiles her master list of line editing skills and her master list of copy editing skills.

Porter Anderson: diversity in international publishing is not so diverse. Writer Unboxed

Michael Harris: I have forgotten how to read. The Globe and Mail

I saw the headline and thought, sweet Jesus, kid lit too? The only way we’ll overcome systemic sexual harassment is to expose it and talk about it. Like human beings. Sexual harassment in the children’s book industry. Anne Ursu for Medium.

Jim C. Hines, ally and sensible human being, writes about #metoo, denial, and backlash.

Related: James Dashner dropped by his literary agent. The New York Times

And then, Penguin Random House drops him, too. Publishers Weekly

Maria Popova remembers Ursula K. Le Guin, not as a product of, but a creator of, her time. Brain Pickings

I hope you found something to help you get to the next level.

Be well until Thursday!


Muse-Inks: Honouring my reality

So … this past week was a week of delivering training at work.

Day one, I felt obliged to nap after supper. And I don’t nap. Generally, I might lay down, but I don’t sleep. As a result, I don’t even bother getting prone most of the time. But I was bushed. I went to bed at 8 pm and woke up just after 10 pm.

During the day, the participants, all of whom work earlier shifts, asked for the training to shift to an earlier time, as well. Remember that meme? I’m not an night owl. I’m not an early bird. I’m some kind of permanently exhausted pigeon? Yeah.

For the rest of the week, I decided to nap when I got home so Phil could wake me up for supper. Well, Torvi had something to say about that and I didn’t end up getting any quality rest.

Needless to say, I went into maintenance mode. I dealt with my daily curation tasks for my weekly curation posts as quickly as possible, and then relaxed for the rest of the evening.

That’s right. I didn’t write a word on my novel all week.

And I probably won’t write a word this weekend, either. I have a friend coming in from out of town that I’d much rather visit with. I have a deadline for the Sudbury Writers’ Guild newsletter I have to meet. Priorities.

I’ve had to fight a certain amount of guilt over not writing. But I haven’t felt the burning desire to get back to the page, either. The last time I took a purposeful break, I was immediately thinking about what I would be writing. Even though I’d stopped writing, my creative brain was still immersed in the project and when I returned to the project, I was working at full steam.

That hasn’t happened this time.

What this means is that I’ll probably be drafting Playing with Fire into April. So be it.

This is my reality at the moment. I have to honour what’s happening in my life, make choices, and live with the results. I will be adjusting my goals accordingly.

In other news …

Things continue to improve, in small increments, for Phil at work. He’s felt motivated enough to clean up the basement so Torvi can go down there and spend time with him if she wants.

Today was the first time we coaxed Torvi down into the basement. I have a couple of old pillows I took down there for a dog bed (until Phil buys another one) and a few toys. It’s been a bit of a stressful afternoon. Torvi doesn’t like change. She’s been constantly running the stairs and whining. It was to the point that we couldn’t tell when she was asking to go out. But there were no accidents. I’m counting it a win.

She’s also making progress with controlling her excitement when meeting people. She still jumps and freaks out, but if we get visitors to ignore her, she settles quickly. We’ll see how it works with our guests tonight.


I weighed her last week. She’s 42 pounds. Woof! Here she is, waiting for Phil to come home, and NOT destroying footwear (!) Another win.


And she’s starting to lose her puppy teeth. I know, it’s kind of gross, but if I find them, I save them. I still have some of Nuala’s teeth.

And that’s all the news for the week.

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


Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 4-10, 2018

Thought Thursday is here, and you know what that means … tomorrow is Friday! Happy Friday eve!

This is why Uma Thurman is angry. Maureen Dowd for The New York Times.

Gemma Hartley says that the equal distribution of emotional labour is the key to gender equality. Harper’s Bazaar

Author Roni Loren writes a personal post about hormones, stress, and sneaky depression.

Ed Yong studied his own articles to improve the gender balance of his reporting. The Atlantic

John Pavlovitz: no, you’re not tired of being politically correct.

The Economist is thinking about natives in an era of nativism.

Hannah Devlin reports on the DNA analysis of Cheddar Man and the revelation that the first modern Britons had dark to black skin. The Guardian

Cleve R. Wootson: Maya civilisation was vaster than thought, as thousands of newly discovered structures reveal. The Washington Post

Phil Plait shares Mike Olbinski’s time-lapse storm video, Breathe. SyFy

Whistler Deep Sky II – David McColm Photography


Ashley Hamer: yes, a donut-shaped planet is technically possible. Curiosity

Tariq Malik reports on the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket’s historic maiden voyage. Space

Andrea Morris introduces us to the woman teaching artificial intelligence about human values. Forbes

Rafi Letzter examines how an ancient virus may be responsible for human consciousness. Live Science

World War II spitfire pilot Mary Ellis from the Isle of Wight turns 100. BBC

Dangerous Minds profiles the Victorian woman who drew pictures of ghosts.

The astonishing science of what trees feel and how they communicate. Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees. Maria Popova, Brain Pickings.

Hooria Jazaieri points out three things we still don’t know about meditation (and how to read studies critically). Mindful

Steven Parton explores the science of happiness and why complaining is literally killing you. Curious Apes

Mohammed Al-Mosaiwi: people with depression are more likely to say certain words. Quartz

Truth Potato tells it like it is. Bored Panda

Piper, a short film by Disney Pixar.


I hope something in this mix got your mental corn popping.

Be well until the weekend.


Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 4-10, 2018

Here, once again, are your informal writerly learnings!

Jessi Rita Hoffman stops by Jane Friedman’s blog to help you prune hedge words and inflation words from your writing.

K.M. Weiland offers four tips for writing to your right audience. Helping Writers Become Authors

Jael McHenry: on commitments, participation, and the writing community. Writer Unboxed

Donald Maass shows you what happens when worlds collide. Writer Unboxed

Nancy Johnson joins the Writer Unboxed team: the question your novel answers.

Gabriela Pereira takes her turn in the Writers Helping Writers coaching corner. Writing by design, part two: pattern and repetition.

Back on DIY MFA radio, Gabriela interviews Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi: understanding the emotional wound.

Kristen Lamb: great stories are addictive by design.

Janice Hardy offers seven tips for creating believable fantasy and science fiction worlds. Fiction University

Fae Rowan shares a simple tip to help get rid of saggy middles. [But … will it work on ma belleh—lol?] Writers in the Storm

Jami Gold looks at the editing process and what every writer needs to know to improve.

Backtracking a bit to give you episode 1 of Ask a Puppet (Mary Robinette Kowal). Seriously hilarious.


Mary Robinette Kowal shares her writing process in honor of her birthday.

Roz Morris shares three paradoxes of a slow writing process. Nail Your Novel

Chuck Wendig: yes, you can hiss without sibilance. Terribleminds

Breaking their usual pattern of constructive critique, Oren Ashkenazi reviews five novels with strong throughlines for Mythcreants.

Shane Koyczan – Resolution


Jessica Stillman: why you should surround yourself with more books than you’ll ever have time to read. Inc.

E CE Miller shares 21 love letters by authors to inspire you on Valentine’s Day. Bustle

Ryu Spaeth: an education through Earthsea. New Republic

Michael Blanding reports on how plagiarism software unveiled a new source for eleven of Shakespeare’s plays. And no, before the histrionics start, Shakespeare did not plagiarize. The New York Times

Jill Lepore explores the strange and twisted life of Frankenstein. Amazing. Truly. The New Yorker

Krista D. Ball revisits Joanna Russ’s “How to Suppress Women’s Writing” after 35 years. Thought-provoking and anger-inducing. Reddit r/fantasy

Jamil Smith writes about the revolutionary power of Black Panther. Time

I hope your week got off to a great start. Be well until Thursday 🙂


Muse-inks: Treading water

Hello again, writerly peeps.

I’ve really been too ambitious in my goals this year, in every aspect.

I forget to account for age.

Every year that passes alters my ability to be productive. Part of the problem is that I don’t pay attention to age. I’ve never felt the typical crises that some of my friends and family have experienced. 25, 30, 40, these milestones have passed me without much notice or angst.

But, as I age, my physical and mental health have changed. I feel more aches and pains, my anxiety and depression have influenced me differently, and my hormones are wreaking havoc.

I think that I take these things into account, modifying my goals to accomplish less, or take longer to meet a goal. Then I have a procedure—yes, I knew about it in advance, but not so far in advance that I was able to account for it in my annual planning—and it throws things out of whack. I’m not great at sudden course correction. It takes time for me to adjust.

I forget to account for changing circumstances.

When Phil and I adopted our first puppy, Zoe, I had just gotten my MA from the University of Windsor and had just finished a one-semester contract with the Cambrian College Library. I was newly unemployed and able to devote my complete attention to Zoe’s care and training.

We’d previously had cats, rats, budgies, and fish, all animals that don’t require as much time and attention.

Zoe was with us for five years, during which time I’d started to work for my current employer, but in a different position than I currently work, and part-time.

After two years, we adopted Nuala. I was still working part-time, and I was still able to devote a lot of time to Nu. I also hadn’t yet found my way to a regular writing practice. By the time I started working full-time, and writing regularly, Nu was two years old and was able to adapt to the change with no adverse behavioural results. Both of my parents were around and took care of Nu while we worked. They could get out and do what they wanted, as well. Nuala was very good when left alone. She didn’t enjoy it, but she wasn’t destructive.

Nuala was with us for ten years, and we again waited for two years to look at adoption again.

With Torvi, while I was able to take a six week leave, I’m generally working full-time, as is Phil. My dad passed away during Nuala’s time with us and now my mom takes care of her during the day alone.

Torvi’s training and raising has had to be shared between Phil, me, and Mom, with assistance from Phil’s mom and a family friend. This generally means that we’re, all of us, tied to home. We haven’t felt that we can leave Torvi completely alone yet, and so my mom’s given up her volunteering, for the most part, we haven’t gone out together, even to dinner, and it’s made for some stir crazy among Torvi’s three primary caretakers.

The big test coming up is my impending trip to Toronto in March. I hope Phil survives.

Phil’s also been having some challenges with his employment, which I’m not at liberty to share. It’s not my story. But it’s meant that he’s had additional pressures on him and he hasn’t been as able to deal with the bitey beast.

So, our household has been in a bit of a mess.

Torvi’s been making progress, but we got her younger than any other pup, and she’s so much larger—she’s already the size of Zoe when she was full grown—that it’s been quite challenging to teach her the behaviour we want her to exhibit.

Verbal reprimands are interpreted as invitations to play. She will do what we ask for kibs or other treats, but only then. She’s still so excited when people return, or when she meets new people, we practically have to sit on her to keep her down. She’s strong. Our morning walks are decent, but the time will soon arrive when I won’t be able to use the harness anymore. She’ll be able to haul me around if something freaks her out or catches her fancy. Our training sessions with the Halti have so far not been successful.

It’s all a work in progress. Eventually, we know she will become the dog we’re training her to be, but experience tells us that time won’t arrive for a year to eighteen months.

The result of all this is that I’m not getting as much writing done as I’d hoped.

I’m dealing with it. As one of my writing mentors, Gabriela Pereira says, I have to honour my reality. Things are what they are. I have to accept that there are going to be more days than not that I can’t accomplish what I’d hoped to. Eventually, our situation will improve.

Here she is, “helping Grandma with the laundry.” The bottle was empty, headed for the recycling bin. And yes, I took it away from her before she got at its scant contents. It was just a cute moment I had to capture. Also notice the new, heavy-duty harness. The white stitching is reflective for safety.

Already, Phil’s employer is taking action to improve his circumstances, but it’s not going to be a quick fix, and, as with any complex situation, things will get worse before they get better. There is now the hope that they will get better, though.

With that pressure eased, and Torvi’s continued improvement, we plan to take back our lives to some degree. Phil’s slowly cleaning up the basement, which, because his main hobby involves computers as well as his job, was a mine field of hazardous materials. We’re going to give her more of a run of the house. We’re going to try going out to dinner and see what kind of destruction she causes.

Once Torvi has her final vaccinations, I’m going to start taking her out to places where I can give her a bit of a run, or at least a long enough walk that she’ll get her “ya-ya’s” out. I’m going to start taking her places in the car—short trips at first, then gradually longer ones—so we can overcome her motion sickness.

But each stage is going to be an adjustment. Each change will present new challenges. My goals will have to be amended accordingly. And I’m going to have to become more agile again, something that becomes more difficult with each passing year.

Winter is also a hard time for me. I want to hibernate, like a bear, and wake up when spring arrives.

These are all parts of my current reality that I have to recognize and honour.

I’m working on it. In the meantime, I’m treading water. Endurance, I have 🙂

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


Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Jan 28-Feb 3, 2018

Here are a few things to get your mental corn popping!

Michael Carroll: the richness of everyday life. Mindful

That F word. The state of feminism in the wake of Weinstein and the #metoo movement. CBC’s “Out in the Open” with Pia Chattopadhyay.

Annett Heide introduces us to Maxi Bauermeister, who lives as both a man and a woman. Zeit Magazin

A conversation with Native Americans on race. The New York Times Op-Docs season 6 by Michele Stephenson and Brian Young.

Miranda Larbi shares photos of 19th century interracial couples—incredible examples of love overcoming law. Metro

The Bell Let’s Talk Day impact video. I’ve participated/supported the event for years now.


Phil Plait: no, the eclipse and a planetary alignment will not cause massive earthquakes. Sheesh. SyFy

I’m an unapologetic lunatic, so the super moon/blue moon/eclipse/blood moon was kind of a big thing. Here’s a time lapse of the January 31st super blue blood moon over NASA’s JPL. I couldn’t see it here in the Sudz because it was overcast 😦


And the highlights from the Griffiths Observatory.


February first is St. Brigid’s Day. Here’s some Irish folklore and traditions surrounding the day. ‘Cause I’m paganish.


Conscious Reminder presents the evidence for dream telepathy. ‘Cause I’m a huge fan of dreams and various freaky parasomnias.

Vincenzo Pietropaolo writes about Toronto’s oldest tree. The Toronto Star

Nicola Davis reveals how orcas can imitate human speech. The Guardian

Minsmere murmuration:


Hope you found something to inspire your next great work.

Be well until the weekend!