Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 17-23, 2019

Thoughty Thursday’s here with a mixed bag of edutainment to get your mental corn popping!

Jamie Shreeve: if life exists beyond Earth, how do we find it? National Geographic

SciShow reveals what scientists have discovered to date about Stonehenge—and how much more remains to be learned.

 

Sharanya Deepak investigates how climate change has put Kashmir’s saffron under threat. Eater

David Roberts looks at the California coalition tackling one of the hardest, unsexist aspects of climate policy. Vox

Messy Nessy Chic profiles the real ice queens: women who conquered the cold wearing corsets.

SciShow Psych looks at the enneagram personality types and the science (or lack thereof) that supports them.

 

Ross Andersen reveals how scientists are totally reconsidering animal cognition. The Atlantic

Last weekend, I shared a picture of two pileated woodpeckers dancing around a tree trunk on social media. This is what they were up to 😉

 

Sarah Zhang figures out why we think cats are psychopaths. It’s just “resting cat face.” The Atlantic

True facts about the lemur. Ze Frank. Man, I’ve missed these!

 

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found something inspiring in thoughty Thursday.

This weekend, I’ll be posting my monthly next chapter update.

Until then, be well, my friends.

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 17-23, 2019

Good evening, my lovelies! It’s time to peruse your informal writlerly learnings for the week 🙂

Leanne Sowul exposes the battle between time and energy. Later in the week, Bess Cozby shows you four ways to protect your creative brain. And then, Marielle Orff shares five steps to giving an awesome podcast interview. DIY MFA

Vaughn Roycroft: storytelling and stepping beyond the veil. Writer Unboxed

Rachael Stephen explains how to revise your story.

 

Phoebe Wood shares her strategy for turning your first draft into a second draft.

 

Angela Ackerman stops by Writers in the Storm to share the One Stop for Writers Fast Track Tool for character creation. Then, Tasha Seegmiller invites you to sit with your discomfort: negotiating difficult critiques. Later in the week, Laura Drake shows you how to exorcise redundant writing.

Becca Puglisi visits Helping Writers Become Authors: seven things your character is hiding.

Oren Ashkenazi: seven signs of bad media analysis. Mythcreants

Diego Courchay describes how an Italian writer’s fictional garden became a place of literary pilgrimage. Atlas Obscura

And that is tipsday for this week. Be sure to check in on Thursday for your weekly dose of thoughty.

Until then, be well!

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 10-16, 2019

It’s time to get your mental corn popping!

Jessica Stewart shares the unromantic origins of Valentine’s Day. My Modern Met

Kevin Munger: emotional burnout is fueled by envy. It’s focused on Millennial burnout, but I think there’s something for most readers in the social media obsessed age. The Outline

SciShow Psych: you’re probably more likable than you think you are.

 

It’s okay to be smart brings the impossible hugeness of deep time down to (reasonable) size with string.

 

Matt Williams considers how big a generation ship have to be to keep a crew of 500 alive for the journey to another star. Universe Today

Szabolcs Nagy captures an extremely good ISS transit of the moon. Space Station Guys

Kevin Gill posts this fly-by of Europa.

 

Michael Greshko: the Mars Opportunity rover is dead. Here’s what it gave mankind. National Geographic

Charlotte Higgins examines the battle for the future of Stonehenge. The Guardian

Shoshi Parks shares in the quest for Gamalost cheese, Norway’s “Viking Viagra.” Munchies

BBC design looks at the homes of the future. They almost build themselves!

Bryan Armen Graham checks in with Jerry Grymek, dog concierge for the Westminster Dog Show. Then, he profiles the wire fox terrier who won best in show. The Guardian

For your puppy-loving pleasure: Purin, the super beagle.

 

And that was thoughty Thursday.

Until next week, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories 🙂

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 10-16, 2019

Here we are. How is it already the third week of February? Console yourself with some informal writerly learnings *hugs*

Louise Tondeur guest posts on Jane Friedman’s blog: the myth of plan first and write later (or, you never only write one way).

Rheea Mukherjee joins Writer Unboxed: writing characters who are “smarter” than you.

Kathryn Craft: your story’s valentine to the world (AKA, your query, synopsis, and pages). Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland critiques a brave writer’s work to show how paragraph breaks guide the reader’s experience. Helping Writers Become Authors

September C. Fawkes says, look forward, not backward, to pull your reader in. Writers Helping Writers

Margie Lawson stops by Writers in the Storm to help you put fresh faces on the page.

Sara Letourneau offers some further reading on the theme of family. DIY MFA

Becca Puglisi visits DIY MFA: five vehicles for showing emotion.

Chris Winkle: optimizing your story ideas for stronger engagement. Then, Oren Ashkenazi reveals six mistakes that can kill a great plot. Mythcreants

Chuck Wendig says, your ideas aren’t that interesting. This is less about making you feel bad than about making sure your ideas don’t take the place of, like, actual writing. Terribleminds

In honour of Valentines, Jenna Moreci offers her top ten tips for writing sex scenes. [Features discussion of sex and sexuality. Yeah. Even so, had to be said.]

 

Krista D. Ball rants: why is AUTHOR NAME taking so long to write their next book? This made me wonder if these impatient readers think they own writers? At the cost of $10 to $20 per book? Really? Gear down, people. Reddit

Later in the week, an 11:45 pm amber alert (and subsequent rescind after midnight) in Ontario resulted in a strange outcry of people who didn’t want their sleep disturbed, even after they learned that the child featured in the alert had been murdered. Seriously? Disturb me all night, every night, if it saves a life.

On that boggling note, I leave you until Thursday, when you can come back for some thoughty.

Until then, be well, my friends.

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 3-9, 2019

Another fair number of videos in this week’s gathering of thoughty. I hope it gets your mental corn popping!

Troy Farah steps inside the push to legalize magic mushrooms to treat depression and PTSD. Wired

Sarita Robinson examines the profound effects isolation has on the human mind and body. Science Alert

Veritasium investigates the effects of negative ions. I still like my salt lamps. They’re pretty.

 

Hayden Field of Entrepreneur produced a three-part video series about mental health and entrepreneurship featuring Gabriela Pereira and Michael Phelps (among others). Here’s part 1, part 2, and part 3.

SciShow reveals the real reason it’s so hard to lose weight. This is why I don’t try to lose weight by dieting. I still experience difficulties, but I try not to change my eating behaviours as a way of overcoming a plateau.

 

Matt Richtel shows you how to be creative. The New York Times

Ephrat Livni shares Thich Nhat Hanh’s tips for mindful walking—without looking like a weirdo. Quartz

It’s Okay to be Smart – How can we tell if there’s life on other planets? We look at Earth.

 

SciShow Space looks at the evidence for a new theory about how the universe will end: the big rip.

 

Catherine Zuckerman reveals the hidden world of microscopic life through Jannicke Wiik-Nielsen’s extraordinary photography. ‘Cause microscopy is cool. National Geographic

Phil and I have decided that Torvi has a lot of husky in her … (i.e., T exhibits a lot of these behaviours.)

 

Thanks for stopping by for a little edutainment!

Until next tipsday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Jan 27-Feb 2, 2019

Time to tickle those neurons and get your mental corn popping!

Ashley Whillans looks at what time poverty is doing to us: time for happiness. The Harvard Business Review

Amanda Kooser reveals how NASA watches the wild polar vortex from space. Cnet

SciShow Space explains how the collision that created the moon could have provided Earth with the elements of life and how stellar occultation can help us figure out how the collisions that originally formed the planets of our solar system happened. Whew!

 

Loren Grush says, better interior design might keep astronauts healthier and happier in deep space. The Verge

Will Meyer: the weather and the wall. Climate change and the border wall are more connected than you might think. Longreads

Emma Taggart shares the colourful chart that traces the evolution of the English alphabet from Egyptian hieroglyphics. My Modern Met

Katarzyna Szymielewicz says, your digital identity has three layers, and you can only control one of them. Quartz

Ryan Gabrielson: the FBI says its photo analysis is scientific evidence, but scientists disagree. ProPublica

Thanks for stopping by for a little inspiration.

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

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 27-Feb 2, 2019

And here I am, back with your weekly dose of informal writerly learnings.

Kathryn Craft: the story that holds you back. Hint: it’s the one you tell yourself. Writers in the Storm

Kim Bullock advises you to vanquish emotional overwhelm to increase productivity. Writer Unboxed

Elizabeth Huergo honors Mary Oliver on Writer Unboxed: walk slowly and bow often.

Cathy Yardley guides you from cool idea to premise. Writer Unboxed

Jo Eberhardt mines her (misspent/not misspent) RPG youth: when your characters have minds of their own. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland shares her nine writing goals for 2019. Helping Writers Become Authors

Manuela Williams shares five simple SEO tips for authors. DIY MFA

Pamela Taylor explains how to create authentic details: keeping secrets. DIY MFA

Bess Cozby shares her experience going for six weeks without social media. DIY MFA

Sofia Ashdown shares her top ten editing tips. The Creative Penn

Chuck Wendig explains the story about the story, or, how writers talk about their books. Terribleminds

Becca Puglisi guest posts on Jerry Jenkins’ blog. Got subtext? Writing better dialogue.

Janice Hardy explains what writers need to know about hooks. Fiction University

Chris Winkle shares lessons from The Maze Runner’s point of view disaster. Then, Oren Ashkenazi tackles the problem with oppressed mages. Mythcreants

I post about writer’s grief. WarpWorld

Sangeeta Mehta lists 19 diversity-focused writing conferences and events in 2019. Writer’s Digest

I hope you found something you need to fuel your creative efforts this week.

Come back on Thursday to get your weekly batch of thoughty.

Until then, be well.

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The next chapter: January 2019 update

Greetings, my wonderful, writerly friends! How has your January gone? This isn’t a throwaway question, I’m sincerely interested. If you want to share, that’s what the comments are for 😉

As I mentioned in my last next chapter update, I’ve set myself some fairly steep goals. Though I didn’t meet all of them, I’m happy to report that I met most of my goals for January.

January in review

I continued drafting Tamisashki, the last of my epic fantasy series. I’d set my goal at 16,802 words (based on 542 words a day, which would allow me to reach my ultimate goal by the end of April). I managed to write 17,554 words, or 104% of my goal. And I did it even giving myself a break on the weekends (boggles).

I don’t expect to be able to continue this pace beyond the end of March, but I’ll keep it up as long as I can.

I only managed 74% of my 5,000-word writing goal on this blog, or 3,696 words. I’m never too distressed about not meeting my blogging goals. In some ways, it depends on how many tasty posts and articles I can curate, and that’s variable.

I did write more than my 2,500-word short fiction goal for the month, but I didn’t finish the piece. Most of the extra words have been shunted into a secondary document, as I started to do the thing I usually do, which is to start building the world and backstory and detail to the point where short would no longer be tenable. What does the reader really need to know? That’s where I have to focus, moving forward. Still, 106% is satisfying.

I met my goal of revising and formatting 31 poems in my collection. I’ve decided to work on the poetry in terms of poems rather than words or pages. Some of my poems are haiku. Others are several pages long (though the lines are short). It’s the most convenient way for me to track my progress in this respect.

Finally, I wrote an 833-word piece for the WarpWorld blog in honor of the launch of the last book in the series.  The theme was “the end,” and I chose to explore writer’s grief. My goal had been to write 750 words for them and so I surpassed that goal, as well, at 111%.

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I did start reading one of the pieces posted for critique in my group, but I’m already behind. I’ll find a way to catch up.

In January, I also attended Tracing our Wild Spaces, an exhibition of triptychs (poem, photograph, and painting) put together by Kim Fahner (poems and photos) and Monique Legault (beautiful, photo-realistic paintings). It was held at the Fromagerie on Elgin and will be displayed through February.

Sean Barrette provided musical accompaniment and Kim read her poetry, which will appear in her upcoming poetry collection, These Wings.

Looking forward to February

In February, I hope to draft another 15,176 words on Tamisashki, blog about 4,200 words, work on another 28 poems for the collection, write my next Speculations column for DIY MFA, finish my January short story (get it critiqued and edited, and submitted, somewhere), and write another short story. I might aim for flash, which will be even more of a challenge, given my propensities.

As February is a short month, my goals are, accordingly, smaller. I’m trying to keep things reasonable.

I’m going to keep on with the reading for the one critique and start on another.

I’ve also started the Writing the Other Building Inclusive Worlds course.

Wish me luck 😉

What I’ve been Reading and Watching

I’ve decided to add in a mention of what I’ve been reading and watching during the month. I used to post book reviews and do a periodic post on movies and series. As these posts have fallen by the wayside, I wanted to add something in so that you’d have an idea about what I spend some of my non-writing time doing.

I started my 2019 Goodreads reading challenge with several books in progress. I finished N.K. Jemisin’s The Shadowed Sun (loved), Octavia Butler’s Patternmaster (liked), Marcy Kennedy’s Cursed Wishes (liked), and Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars (loved), before starting in on fresh books in the New Year.

I started in on Patternmaster not realizing that it was the last in Butler’s series. It was the first written, though, so I’ve decided to read the series in the order written. Maybe it was whatever pulled Butler back to the premise again and again until she finally wrote Wild Seed, which is technically the first book in the series, that left me with the feeling that the book was somehow incomplete.

I’ve been wanting to read The Calculating Stars since last summer, when it came out. It’s full of everything that made Hidden Figures great, and more. There are complex characters, loving relationships, and explorations of misogyny and racism in an alternate historical United States in which a meteorite takes out most of the eastern coast, including Washington DC. Loved.

I have since read Sarah Gailey’s River of Teeth (loved), Signe Pike’s The Lost Queen (loved), K.M. Weiland’s 5 Secrets of Story Structure (writing craft, really liked), and Seth Dickinson’s The Traitor Baru Cormorant (liked).

The Lost Queen was a book I discovered through the Kobo Writing Life podcast. They interviewed the author, Signe Pike, and I decided on the strength of that alone to purchase the book. It’s a different take on the legend of Merlin and based in historical research. It was a great historical fantasy and I’ll be looking for the next book in the series.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant was a novel that I picked up on the strength of a recommendation. I generally don’t enjoy reading stories with unreliable narrators. The thing is that Baru isn’t really unreliable. She’s straightforward in her goals all the way along. It’s just that the things that she says at every turning point in the story can be taken multiple ways.

I had to admire Dickinson’s craft in misdirection, but, as a reader, I also resented it. The book is written in a close point of view. The reader is privy to Baru’s thoughts. It is, most often, those thoughts that are misleading. Everything made sense in the climax, but I felt deeply dissatisfied.

I haven’t watched any movies yet in 2019.

In terms of series, I just finished watching the latest season of Outlander. I’m really appreciating the changes that are being made for the television series. In the novels, Brianna and Roger’s respective journeys in getting to the past were given short shrift, of a necessity, because of the focused point of view in the novel. They basically had to tell Claire and Jamie what happened after their arrival. They’ve kept the major events of the novel without getting overly complicated with the cast. Young Ian’s induction into the Mohawk was different in the novel, but the series weaves the threads together more cleanly.

Phil and I were surprised by Titans. Phil has never liked DC. I’ve watched most of the DC series that have come out, but they were never “can’t miss” viewing. Titans was grittier without being emo. I tell ya, Oliver Queen’s brooding is harder to watch than Angel’s ever was 😛

Vikings went off on a tangent when they killed Ragnar. I watched the final season, but, honestly, The Last Kingdom is SO much better.

I’m really enjoying The Rookie. It’s feel-good without being saccharine. Also, Nathan Fillion.

This next season of Star Trek: Discovery is also enjoyable. As is Deadly Class, though it’s so full of bullet plot holes … I’m more looking forward to The Umbrella Academy, in all honestly. Magicians has just started. I know it’s far removed from Grossman’s novels, now, but I’m enjoying it as its own thing. I finally got around to watching The Man in the High Castle. Not too far into it, yet, but I’m enjoying what I’ve seen so far.

I’m watching a bunch of other stuff, too, on TV and on Netflix or Amazon (Good Omens, why can’t you be here NOW?), but not much of it is noteworthy. Riverdale doing the D&D, excuse me, G&G is devil worship/brainwashing thing is so lame I can’t even. The other DC series, which I’m not even going to list, are uniformly meh. I watch Grey’s and Murder, but I could miss them—and not miss them, if you know wheat I mean. The Charmed reboot is ok.

One thing that I’ve noticed about the shows I watch is that I can often figure out what’s going to happen next. I read, and watch, like a writer, analyzing as I go. It’s when I stop analyzing and just get wrapped up in a show that I know it’s good.

And that’s where I’ll leave you for this month.

It’s been a monster post. Thanks for hanging in there.

Here’s a few pics of Torvi.

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

The Next Chapter