Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, July 21-27, 2019

July is winding down and we’re heading into the dog days of summer: August. We’ve already had more than our share of hot, humid days—fact, I’m not complaining—and I’m trying to make the most of each one. I hope you’ve been making meaningful progress in your creative projects.

It’s time to reward yourself with some informal writerly learnings 🙂

Janice Hardy offers a Sunday writing tip: reveal something new in every scene. Then she wonders, are you asking—and answering—the right story questions? Fiction University

Alexa Donne talks about nailing your beginnings (first sentence through first act).

Tracy Hahn-Burkett says, if you want to make a difference, tell a story. Heather Webb offers some notes from a book tour. Keith Cronin shares some serious lessons from a fool on a hill. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland explains how to make your plot a powerful thematic metaphor. Helping Writers Become Authors

Jenn Walton says, let your imagination run wild. Gabriela Pereira crawls inside the mind of a worldbuilding junkie with Fonda Lee. DIY MFA

Angela Ackerman visits Writers in the Storm to discuss character building for pantsers.

Jenna Moreci discusses some of the differences between flat and round characters.

Justin Attas wants you to create a credible magic system. Writers Helping Writers

Lisa Bell wonders, is your writing plan ready for a crisis? Jami Gold

Chris Winkle explains what storytellers should know about normalization. Choose compassion. Write stories that normalize the positive. Then, Oren Ashkenazi examines five stories with premises that don’t suit their settings. Mythcreants

Structuring a chapter. Reedsy

CBC books recommends ten Canadian science fiction and fantasy books you should be reading.

Ada Hoffman is moving towards a neurodiverse future by writing an autistic heroine. Tor.com

Thanks for visiting. I hope you’ve found something for your writerly toolkit.

If you’re looking for some inspiration or research material, be sure to come back on Thursday for some thoughty links.

Until then, be well, my friends 🙂

Tipsday2019

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Review of The Sorrow Stone by J.A. McLachlan

I’ve been a fan of Jane Ann’s for some time and when I saw that she was launching her latest historical fiction novel at 2018’s Ad Astra, I had to pick up a copy. Jane Ann is an excellent storyteller and The Sorrow Stone did not disappoint. I have been lax in my commitment to write reviews for my author friends. I read The Sorrow Stone some time ago and I’m only now rectifying my tardiness in writing my review.

TheSorrowStone

What Amazon says:

Winner of the Royal Palm Literary Award for Historical Fiction.

What if you could pay someone to take away your sorrow?
In the middle ages people believed a mother mourning her child could “sell her sorrow” by selling a nail from her child’s coffin to a traveling peddler.

Lady Celeste is overwhelmed with grief when her son dies. Desperate for relief, she begs a passing peddler to buy her sorrow. Jean, the cynical peddler she meets, is nobody’s fool; he insists she include her ruby ring along with the nail in return for his coin.

A strange but welcome forgetfulness comes over Celeste when the transaction is completed – until she learns that without her wedding ring her husband may set her aside, leaving her ruined. She embarks on an urgent journey to retrieve it. But how will she find the peddler and convince him to give up the precious ruby ring?

Pretending to be on pilgrimage, Lady Celeste secretly hunts for the peddler. In dreams and brief flashes her memory begins to return, slowly revealing a dangerous secret buried in her past. Will she learn what she needs to know in time to save herself, or will the knowledge destroy her?

If you like realistic, well-researched historical fiction with evocative prose, complex characters and a unique story, you’ll love The Sorrow Stone. Travel to 12th Century France with this compelling story based on an actual medieval superstition.

“J. A. McLachlan is a terrific writer — wry and witty, with a keen eye for detail.”
~ Hugo award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer
“Strong, character-driven fiction — McLachlan makes you both care and think. You can’t ask for more.”
~ Aurora award-winning author Tanya Huff

My thoughts:

While this novel is somewhat of a departure from her adult and young adult science fiction publications, the inspiration for the story is a superstition and fantastic elements infuse the novel.

In the wake of the transaction that forms the inciting incident, Celeste is not only forgetful, but she’s also lost her capacity to feel compassion in any form, making her alien to her lady’s maid, the nuns of the convent she’s been sent to for her recovery, and the clergy and pilgrims she meets on her journey.

The only thing she’s certain of, at first, is that something terrible happened that sent her to the convent and, because she can no longer feel the love she once did for her dead child or her husband, while she knows the something terrible involves her infant’s death, she can only assume that her life had been one of cruelty and pain to have resulted in her current state of health. Celeste uses her mind and sense of logic, skewed because of her lack of feeling, to try to unravel the mystery.

She’s afraid of revealing her compromised state to anyone and engages is some radical behaviour to achieve this end. She travels with only her maid as a companion, she seeks the means to become independent, and she tries to track down the merchant to whom she traded her sorrow and her wedding ring with the intent of reclaiming only the ring and not her emotion, now viewing it as a weakness. Her actions in pursuit of these goals verge on cruel.

For his part, the pragmatic merchant Jean finds his life plagued by unwanted compassion. He wants to rid himself of Celeste’s ring and the sorrow attached to it, but his every attempt to do so ends in failure or worse. After he recovers from a robbery and assault that nearly results in his death, Jean returns home to find his bad luck extends to his family. His daughter is seriously ill and may die if he doesn’t find the means to set things right.

The outcome of these intertwined journeys involves a mystery, betrayal, and greed on multiple levels. As Celeste’s husband pursues her, thriller elements come into play. Can Celeste reclaim her ring before her husband catches up to her and finds out what she’s done?

The Sorrow Stone is a complex story about how important it is to achieve a balance between logic and emotion, the destruction that greed engenders, and the revelatory and healing powers of love.

My rating:

Four out of five stars.

I really liked it 🙂

I’m going to try to catch up on my review obligations over the next weeks, so you can look forward to more reviews on writerly goodness.

 

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, July 14-20, 2019

It’s time to get your mental corn popping. Let’s get started with some lunacy in honour of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing 🙂

Alexandra Witze says these young scientists will shape moon research for the next 50 years. Nature

Eli Glasner talks to astronauts about which movies have “the right stuff.” CBC

Proof that Sudbury was mentioned on the moon. We live up here

Nicole Mortillaro: Sudbury was a stand-in for the moon and other, little-known (Canadian) things about the Apollo program. CBC

Veritasium looks at why astronauts also trained at a nuclear test site.

Molly Hennessy-Fiske explains how the women of NASA made their mark on the space program. LA Times

And … from Mary Robinette Kowal: to make it to the moon, women have to escape Earth’s gender bias. The New York Times

Alexander Rose wants to make something that lasts 10,000 years. BBC

Mark Gollom report on how Zoe the police dog sniffed out two missing girls in Algonquin Park. CBC

Laura Staugaitis shares the shadowed beauty of DAKU’s “Theory of Time” street installation. This is Colossal

Viktorija Gabulaité and Jonas Grinevičius introduce us to Australia, AKA, the land of nope. Bored Panda

Thank you for taking the time to visit, and I hope you found some inspiration for your next creative project (or a current one).

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

ThoughtyThursday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, July 14-20, 2019

The weeks continue to march along, whether we want them to or not. Summer’s passing too fast! Console yourself with some informal writerly learnings.

Jan O’Hara extolls the life-changing magic of zeroing non-writing commitments. Carol Newman Cronin says, there are no wasted words: power to the pantsers! Julie Carrick Dalton is interrogating characters about their motivations. Writer Unboxed

Manuela Williams looks at five mistakes you’re making with your author brand (and how to avoid them). Pamela Taylor is extrapolating the past. DIY MFA

Reedsy examines the chosen one trope.

Robert Lee Brewer: everyday vs. every day. Writer’s Digest

Jeri Bronson’s married to a coroner and she explains the hows, whys and the WHAT?! Writers in the Storm

Jenna Moreci answers all your critique partner questions.

Lisa Cron poses three simple questions that will unlock your story. Writers Helping Writers

Nathan Bransford explains how authors make money.

Angela Ackerman visits Jami Gold’s blog to explain how to avoid the boring stuff in character descriptions. Then, Kassandra Lamb stops by: what’s the right way to include multiple POVs?

Oren Ashkenazi examines six stories with failed turning points. Mythcreants

Nina Munteanu considers Vonnegut’s ice-nine and superionic ice. Science!

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you found something you need to help you with your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well, my writerly friends!

Tipsday2019

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, July 7-13, 2019

And, once again, it’s time to get your mental corn popping!

Michele Adelman reports on how Ford cuts have unleashed a crisis of conservation. Now Toronto

Physics Girl visits the first gravitational wave detector—LIGO. Stellar

SciShow Space looks at how a tank of water could change physics forever (AKA looking for evidence of a GUT).

Robin McKie: everyone’s going back to the moon. But why? The Guardian

Anne Collins Goodyear: long before Armstrong and Aldrin, artists were stoking dreams of space travel. The Conversation

The secret language of trees – Camille Defrenne and Suzanne Simard. Ted.ed

Erin Biba says, in the real world, Simba’s mom would run the pride. National Geographic

Sara Barnes: photographer spends years taking poignant portraits of animals on the brink of extinction. Beautiful. My Modern Met

And that was thoughty Thursday. I hope you found something to spark your next great work 🙂

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

ThoughtyThursday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, July 7-13, 2019

Looking for some informal writerly learnings? Here they are!

Jim Dempsey offers some fiction therapy: achieve your writing goals. Juliet Marillier explains why editing matters. Then, David Corbett shares the content of his Thrillerfest workshop about characters in search of a moral compass. Writer Unboxed

Sacha Black explains why every novel needs a sprinkling of fear. Writers Helping Writers

How to write with multiple POVs. Reedsy

Julie Cantrell wonders, should authors break free from their brands? Then, Julie Glover shares seven tips for finding a great critique partner. Writers in the Storm

Jenna Moreci shares her top ten romance tropes.

Rebecca Fish Ewen explains how to draw nothing. DIY MFA

Chris Winkle lists five information technology blunders and how to fix them. Then, Oren Ashkenazi examines five popular tropes writers struggle with. Mythcreants

Show, don’t tell, the Reedsy way.

Nathan Bransford explains why Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island works. This novel was one of two I focused on for my independent study in grade 12 English class. I have a fondness, and a bias 😉

I’m putting this in tipsday, because reasons. The Lost Words Blessing – The Lost Words.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found something useful.

Until Thursday, be well, my writerly friends!

Tipsday2019

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, June 30-July 6, 2019

It’s time to get your mental corn popping 🙂

Sabrina Imbler covers the forgotten trans history of the wild west for Atlas Obscura.

Nicole Cliffe interviews Alanis Morissette on being pregnant at 45, childbirth, post-partum depression, and #metoo. You might be surprised, but I like Alanis Morissette. I’ve been a fan since she was on “You can’t do that on television.” I’ve only really liked her music since Jagged Little Pill, but, ya know, I was never into the pop princesses. And Alanis wasn’t either. She didn’t want to follow that path. I’m glad she didn’t. Self

SciShow Psych explores whether you can learn emotional intelligence.

Kris Newby recounts one family’s journey to a diagnosis of Lyme disease. It felt like the flu. It took ten doctors, a year, and $60,000 to find out the truth. Vox

It’s okay to be smart looks at what it takes to create a world-sized telescope to see a black hole.

This is just something cool: ceramic skulls for your fire pit or fireplace. Can You Actually

Michael Greshko reports that these capuchin monkeys are 3,000 years into their own “stone age.” National Geographic

The White Wolf Pack shares a sweet video of raven courtship. Have I ever told you that corvids rock my world?

Haley Weiss: dogs’ eyes have changed since humans befriended them. It might be argued that dogs domesticated us 😉 The Atlantic

Thanks for stopping by.

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

ThoughtyThursday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 30-July 6, 2019

Another week, another batch of informal writerly learnings 🙂

Jeanette the Writer: forewords, introductions, and prologues … oh, my! Then, Tammy Lough wants to help you create your series bible. DIY MFA

K.M. Weiland wants you to take your writing to the next level: whole-life art. Helping Writers Become Authors

Yi Shun Lai: better your writing by being a beginner—every day. Later in the week, Justin Attis warns against some common pitfalls of trying to make your story “unique.” Jane Friedman

Sophie Masson relates the pleasures and pitfalls of writing a multi-POV narrative. Donald Maass is back to the one-word titles: legendary. Bryn Greenwood explains what a ghost heart has to do with writing fiction. “The difference between the memoir I’ll never write and the novels I can’t stop writing is all about processing personal experience into fiction.” Jo Eberhardt: one story, many paths. Writer Unboxed

Tamar Sloan is digging deep into the psychology of a layered story. Writers Helping Writers

Fae Rowan writes about lost love and using your young adult voice. Later in the week, Janice Hardy stops by to explain how to write an opening scene that hooks readers. Writers in the Storm

David Safford explains how to apply helpful writing feedback (and how to know what you can ignore). The Write Practice

Chris Winkle shows you how to avoid melodrama in your writing. Then, Oren Ashkenazi writes about water travel before engines. Mythcreants

Cory Doctorow: I shouldn’t have to publish this in the New York Times. The New York Times

Open Culture reveals how Jane Austen edited her manuscripts with straight pins.

And that was tipsday. I hope you found something you need to help with your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well!

Tipsday2019

The next chapter: June 2019 update

Happy July, everyone! The summer weather has finally arrived in my area of the world. I hope you’re enjoying the season, whatever it is where you live.

And now, it’s time for my next chapter update for June 2019.

The month in writing

My “big” project continues to be my reread, restructuring, and preparation for revision of my Ascension series. As with many of my plans or goals, what I hoped to accomplish at the beginning of the year is changing.

To be specific, I had hoped that by the end of June, I’d have read through all five novels and be ready to start revising book one. Here, in July, I’m still reading through book one … As a result, I’ve decided that I’m just going to focus on laying the groundwork for future revisions. I’m going to continue reading through the series through to the end of September. For now.

While I’ve reviewed the various documents that will make up my series bible, I haven’t yet done the work of pulling everything together. This is part of the work I have to do to get ready for revising. I’m not sure if I’ll have this done before I have to shift gears into NaNo prep.

One of the challenges that I’ve been facing is that, since April, as I’ve noted in past updates, the day job has kicked into high gear. I finish most days exhausted and unable to nab even a little time during breaks of lunch to devote to my WIP. In the early months of this year, there was some downtime that I was able to capitalize on.

Also, I’ve been critiquing, which takes up time in the evening that I might otherwise use to work on my series. Accordingly, I’ve adjusted my goal, but what I’ll accomplish by the end of September is a bit up in the air. Sometimes we have to do what we can and live within the uncertainty.

Still it’s important work and I’m doing it, regardless of the pace 🙂

I blogged 4,073 words of my 2,600-word goal, or 157%.

Toward the end of the month, I got back to my short fiction. While I didn’t reach my 1,000-word goal, I wrote 693 words, or 69%. While this is, strictly speaking, revision of my January short story, most or the work is new. I’ve added scenes and switched things up. In the end, I think the story will be closer to 5,000 words than the 2,500 I’d planned on. It’ll be a better story, but I have a feeling that this draft won’t be the end of my work on the piece.

Revision-wise, I got Reality Bomb ready for critique and it is now posted. I had hoped to get the draft up to 80,000 words, but I’m still 1,175 words short of that. Still, 99% is good. It’s not a huge gap and it gives me room to work with. I’m nervous because there’s a lot of material in the novel that I’m not sure works. We’ll see what my critique group thinks.

JuneProgress

And that’s all the writing and revision I accomplished this past month.

Filling the well

On June 20th, A couple of poet friends, Kim Fahner and Tom Leduc, held a reading at One Sky they called On the Cusp of the Solstice. After their sets, the evening became an open mic and we got to hear five other local poets share their work. It was a great evening and a lovely, artistic venue.

What I’m watching and reading

I watched the final season of A series of Unfortunate Events. It was okay. I know it adhered fairly closely to the books (which I haven’t read) and I understand the choice not to give the Beaudelaires a happy ending, but it felt unsatisfactory because most of that denouement happened off-screen and the story was given to Lemony and Beatrice the second. In a way, the story was always Lemony’s, but he never did anything to propel the narrative, so it felt like a cheat.

I also finished the most recent season of Homeland released to Netflix. I think they’re a season behind what’s on the network, but I prefer to watch some shows when I want to rather than when the network wants me to. It was dark, as every season of Homeland has been to date. The twist at the end was interesting and promises a climactic next season. We’ll see.

I finally reached the end of season one of Man in the High Castle. I know I’m behind in this one, but I watch multiple series at the same time on both Netflix and Amazon Prime (like, between six and ten at any given time) and I only watch them on the weekends or days off and that means slow progress. I enjoy where the series is going and the characters. It’s interesting to see what they’re doing with another of Dick’s shorter works.

Phil and I devoured Good Omens. We loved it. I know a good deal has been made of focusing the story on Azirophale and Crowley because they are secondary characters. Like Lemony Snicket, above, they don’t really do anything to progress the plot or save the world. They just mess up and luck into every win. Still, I loved seeing David Tennant on screen again and Crowley’s friendship with Azirophale is a beautiful thing.

We also enjoyed Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse. I LOLed quite a bit. The movie didn’t take itself seriously and mocked its own tropes. I see why a lot of people consider it one of the best Marvel property movies (even though it was a Sony movie), better even than Endgame. I think comparing the two isn’t something that can be done. They’re both their own beasts.

Valerian remains in limbo, and Phil and I, on the strength of our liking of the original, checked out Reboot: The Guardian Code. One episode and I was, no. So no.

Reading-wise, I finished American Gods, which I liked much more than the Amazon Prime series. Events and gods have been juggled in the series so much that it’s almost unrecognizable. I recommend the book, though I did enjoy the series on its own merits.

For my literary selection, I read Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. I know it was probably the author’s intention, but I was alternately depressed and enraged throughout the novel. I still have unsettled feelings about it, and I think it will take some time to come to an understanding.

I read Sarah Negovetich’s Rite of Rejection, her YA dystopian. The story has similarities to books like The Handmaid’s Tale, in that society has doubled down on traditional gender roles and anyone considered divergent is identified through their activities (arrested) or by “the machine” which identifies those with undesirable traits. In both cases, undesirables are sent to camps so that they will never be able to spread dissent or reproduce. It’s another stark book, but I’ll probably read the rest of the series.

Finally, I listened to both volumes of The Outlandish Companion on Audible. It was a great refresh of the series, the Lord John books, and the interstitial shorts along with a lot of fascinating insights into Gabaldon’s process, research, and tasty tidbits about the series. It was a nice palate cleanser 🙂

And that was this month in the writerly life.

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

The Next Chapter

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, June 23-29, 2019

Happy Independence Day to my friends south of the border! Take some time to feed your brain and get your mental corn popping!

IndependenceDay

Robin Hammond presents Stonewall at 50: stories of resistance and resilience. National Geographic

Mia Jensen interviews Cathy Mulroy about her career as a woman miner and her upcoming memoir. The Sudbury Star

Ahem. Yeah, I shared one of the cited articles (the BBC one) a couple of weeks ago. Here is the awesome debunking of that study on how technology influences the human skeleton and all the reportage it received. I am duly reminded that correlation is not causation. Thank you, SciShow. Seriously.

Simon Makin: better memory through electrical brain ripples. Scientific American

SciShow Psych discovers that alcohol may enhance your creativity in some respects, but not others.

Joyce Cohen: for those with hearing impairments, restaurant noise isn’t just an irritation. It’s discrimination. The Washington Post

Brene Brown talks to Oprah Winfrey about the six types of people who don’t deserve to hold space for you.

Jill Paider lists 20 sublime retreats you need to visit for creative inspiration. Dwell

Bryan Bender: a new moon race is on. Is China already ahead? Politico

SciShow answers the question, what makes soft things soft?

Dr. Suzanne Hoffmann and Professor Manfred Gahr have discovered that the brains of birds synchronize when they sing together. How did the do it? With transmitters weighing 1 gram that recorded the brain waves of the birds. Max Planck Gesellschaft

Katarzyna Nowak reveals the daunting task of wildlife crimefighters in the Alaska-Yukon wilderness. National Geographic

John Nova Lomax reports on the flight of the Texas fireflies. Texas Monthly

And that was thoughty Thursday.

This weekend, I’ll be assembling my next chapter update for June 2019. Until then, be well!

ThoughtyThursday2019