Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Jan 19-25, 2020

Let’s get your mental corn popping. That’s right, it’s thoughty Thursday, and you know what that means … Friday’s right around the corner!

Why trauma survivors can’t just “let it go.” The Mighty

Elena Renken: most Americans are lonely, and our workplace culture may not be helping. NPR

James Hamblin considers China’s unprecedented quarantine of Wuhan in the hope of halting the spread of coronavirus. The Atlantic

John B. Judis offers a warning from the 60s generation. The Washington Post

John Henley reports that overtourism in Europe’s historic cities sparks backlash. The Guardian

SciShow examines why humans menstruate (when most other mammals don’t).

SciShow Psych looks into REM sleep behaviour disorder.

Rebecca Heilweil explains how AI can help find opioid sellers online … and wildlife traffickers … and counterfeits. Vox

Archaeology World shares images of 14000-year-old bison sculptures found in Le Tuc D’Audoubert cave in Ariege, France.

SciShow considers the causes of crown shyness.

The mating dance of the puffin. Ze Frank

Thank you for visiting. I hope you found something to inspire your next creative project.

This weekend, I’ll be working on my next chapter update for the first month of the new decade (eee!). Until then, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

ThoughtyThursday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 19-25, 2020

Welcome to tipsday, your source for informal writerly learnings.

Angela Ackerman wonders, does your character’s behaviour make sense? Then, Lisa Hall-Wilson supplies one quick fix for telling in deep point of view. Writers in the Storm

Jan O’Hara explains what cows and writing competence have in common. Dave King had a solution to absent friends. Heather Webb is navigating an evolving writing process: writing on a boat, with a goat. Keith Cronin: on getting it and showing up. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland examines the two different types of lie your character believes. Helping Writers Become Authors

Tim Hickson on writing first person. Hello, Future Me

Christina Kaye explains how to write a killer villain. Jane Friedman

Nathan Bransford shares nine ways to spice up your characters. Later in the week, he wonders, what does it mean to be your “real self” online?

Leanne Sowul wants you to use the power of habit to achieve your goals. Then, Bronwen Fleetwood wonders, should you use pop culture references in MG and YA fiction? Gabriela Pereira interviews Constance Sayers: stitching together multiple timelines. DIY MFA

Agents Sara Megibow wants you to make a list of personal influencers. Fiction University

Jami Gold considers how to make your protagonist more proactive.

How to introduce your characters, part 1. Reedsy

And part 2:

Chris Winkle examines six effective animal companions (including droids and baby Yoda). Then, Oren Ashkenazi critiques eight instances of sexism in The Witcher. Mythcreants

Robert Lee Brewer clarifies when to use canceled and when to use cancelled. Writer’s Digest

And that was tipsday. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you took away something you need for your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well, my writerly friends 🙂

Tipsday2019

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Jan 12-18, 2020

This week, I found lots of resources to get your mental corn popping.

Zwikar Oli reports for the Plaid Zebra: moss-growing concrete absorbs CO2, insulates, and serves as vertical garden.

Alex Landon considers similar installations in London: artificial trees absorb as much pollution as 275 regular trees. Secret London

Nathan Bahadursingh says that urban farming is the future of architecture. Architizer

Greta and George

Gosia Wozniacka warns about the dark side of compostable take-out containers. Eater

Alex Ross considers the past and future of the world’s oldest trees. The New Yorker

Five things ravens do. The Raven Diaries

Christian Cotroneo tells the tale of the astonished divers who encounter a massive jellyfish off the coast of England. Mother Nature Network

Chelsea Whyte explains how we can tell where a whale has travelled by the themes in its song. New Scientist

True facts about the ostrich. Ze Frank

Eben Disken: wombats are the improbable heroes of the Australian bushfires, hiding other animals in their burrows. Matador Network

Greg Hogben explains how we broke our promise to Harry. My Daughter’s Army

Melissa Pandika: why does my body jerk when I’m falling asleep? Mic

Joseph Stern shares his perspective on dying in the neurosurgical ICU. The New York Times

Kathrin Glösel: Finland ends homelessness and provides shelter for all in need. Scoop.Me

Anne Quito reviews a survey of 20,000 creatives that suggests group brainstorming is a giant waste of time. Quartz

John Pavlus: computers are learning to see in higher dimensions. Wired

Kelly Richman-Abdou shares five powerful paintings by underappreciated female artist Artemesia Gentileschi. My Modern Met

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found something you can use to inspire your next creative project.

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

ThoughtyThursday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 12-18, 2020

Welcome to tipsday, the place to load up on informal writerly learnings.

Barbara Linn Probst wants a place to write. Kris Maze gives you three reasons to consider readability before you publish. Writers in the Storm

Janice Hardy touts the freedom of writing without chapters. Diana Gabaldon does this too … think Imma try this some time. Then, she shares a simple trick to keep readers turning pages. Fiction University

It was question week on WU! Sophie Masson wonders, what do you save? Then, Jim Dempsey asks, do you really want to be a writer? Natalie Hart: what do people get wrong about you? Jeanne Cavelos extolls the compelling, emotional, complex sentence. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland offers three life-changing rules for finding more writing inspiration this year. Helping Writers Become Authors

Sacha Black shares six steps to setting yourself up financially as a writer in 2020. Writers Helping Writers

Sara Letourneau assigns additional reading on the theme of man and the natural world. Pamela Taylor is celebrating the solstice (a little late, but hey, SOLSTICE). DIY MFA

The Take unpacks the tough woman trope.

Then, Shaelin looks at the manic pixie dream girl trope (which, it turns out, is not a trope at all). Reedsy

Chris Winkle outlines six important differences between filmed and narrated stories. Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five stories where the heroes lack agency. Mythcreants

Robert Lee Brewer considers when to use a while and when to use awhile. Writer’s Digest

Thank you for taking the time to visit and I hope you found it worthwhile 🙂

Until Thursday, be well!

Tipsday2019

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Jan 5-11, 2020

It’s that time of the week again—time to pop your mental corn! Give yourself the gift of thoughty, and welcome a happy Friday with a satiated brain 🙂

How to capture a ghost particle. PBS Space Time

Alex Fox relates how nuns are converting their convent into a wetland to fight flooding in New Orleans. The Hill

Geology In shows us the incredible crystal caves of Naica, Mexico.

That time the Mediterranean Sea disappeared. PBS Eons

Zaria Gorvett: medications that change who we are. BBC

Markham Heid explains why you wake up at the same time every night. Medium

Why a strong immune system may mean more severe cold symptoms. SciShow

Elle prints an excerpt from Anna Wiener’s Uncanny Valley: dispatches from the front line of Silicon Valley sexism.

Jason Beaubien: with their land in flames, aboriginals warn fires show deeper problems in Australia. Indigenous land management practices could have mitigated the disaster. NPR

Graham Redfearn reports that the Australian bushfires have reached Kangaroo Island where several species of unique wildlife are threatened. The Guardian

Tim Sohn: how Tom Mustill became “The Whale Detective.” Outside online

Moon Child shares 33 photos of weird and rare flowers that look like something out of a fairy tale.

Ze Frank brings the awkward and hilarious with the mating dance of the ostrich.

Thank you for visiting and I hope you can take away something to inspire your next creative project. Or … maybe something amusing 🙂

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

ThoughtyThursday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 5-11, 2020

It’s a lovely, sunny Sunday after 20 cm of snow. Please enjoy these informal writerly learnings!

Janice Hardy shares three things to remember when revising from a critique. Later in the week, Janice help you craft hook lines that draw readers in. Fiction University

Christopher Hoffmann: what your dialogue tags say about you. Then, Sangeeta Mehta interviews Jim McCarthy and Paula Munier about what it means to be a full-time author. Finally, Jane herself lists five common story openings you want to avoid—if you can help it. Jane Friedman

Tamar Sloan offers a writer’s roadmap to capturing an unhappy relationship. Writers Helping Writers

Jenna Moreci lists her favourite family tropes.

Nancy Johnson finds a new year brings fresh author envy. “But anticipatory angst is real, if a bit irrational, and I sometimes envy authors who make lists I’m not even eligible for, wondering if my own trajectory will be on par with theirs.” Juliet Marillier wants to be a light in the darkness. What will you use your writerly superpowers for this year? Kathryn Craft is bridging temporal story gaps. David Corbett: wherein we resume our discussion of evil. Writer Unboxed

Jenn Walton hopes you’ll use personality tests to enhance character development. Heather Viera shares five tips for creating a relaxing workspace. DIY MFA

Julie Glover: will your character fight, flee, or freeze? Writers in the Storm

Chris Winkle lists five masquerade explanations and why they’re bad. Then, Oren Ashkenazi points out six military blunders in speculative fiction. Mythcreants

Chuck Wendig blogs at clouds (to make a point about blogging). Terribleminds

Robert Lee Brewer distinguishes between heroes and heros. Writer’s Digest

Hélène Schumacher: is this the most powerful word in the English language? BBC

Georgie Hoole introduces us to Cecil Court: the secret alley full of curious old bookshops. Secret London

Thanks for your time and attention. I hope you came away with something you need for your current work in progress.

Until next time, be well, my writerly friends 🙂

Tipsday2019

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 29, 2019-Jan 4, 2020

It’s time to get your mental corn popping.

Jamie Carter offers a skywatcher’s guide to 2020. Forbes

Caleb Scharf wonders if we’re alone in a crowded Milky Way. Scientific American

Joe explains the benefits of launching rockets from the moon. It’s okay to be smart

Physics Girl shares part three of her visit to CERN.

Shayla Love: how long is right now? Fave bit: physics says “right now” may be an illusion … that’s not to say we should all become chrono-nihilists … Vice

The MIT Technology Review considers how a virtual version of da Vinci’s glass orb helps explain its weirdness.

Mike Cannon-Brookes: how to harness imposter syndrome for the greater good. TED Talks

James Hamblin says, your bedroom is too hot. Get your mind out of the gutter! The Atlantic

Darryl Fears: on land, Australia’s rising heat is “apocalyptic.” In the ocean, it’s worse. The Washington Post

Thanks for stopping by. I hope something here inspires your next creative project.

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

ThoughtyThursday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Dec 29, 2019-Jan 4, 2020

It’s the first tipsday of 2020! Get yourself some informal writerly learnings here 🙂

Kris Maze offers some New Year’s reflections on wellness and this writer’s life. Eldred Bird says, let your characters tell the story. Writers in the Storm

Ten qualities an agent wants to see in a writer. Bookends Agency

Bess Cozby suggests five writing resolutions beyond “write every day.” Tammy Lough helps you ramp up your dialogue with help from Isaac Newton. Samantha Hanni shares five ways to aid your editor. DIY MFA

Donald Maass revisits the un-con a second time: emotional tipping points. Barbara Linn Probst shares a 2020 vision. Julianna Baggott wants you to set aside the planning and the pantsing and consider a land of your own invention. Writer Unboxed

Jenna Moreci lists ten things you should do before you write your novel. My favourite bit: Writing a book is hard. Books don’t just fall out of your mind vagina. 😀

Chuck Wendig says that in 2020 you should write with a knife to your back and the cliff’s edge at your feet. Terribleminds

Chris Winkle explains how The Rise of Skywalker finally made Kylo Ren worth redeeming. Mythcreants

Thank you for visiting and I hope you found something to fuel your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well!

Tipsday2019

The next chapter: December 2019 update and year-end wrap-up

Here we are at the beginning of a new year and a new decade. The possibilities seem endless. I hope you’ve all set reasonable goals and are diving into your work with passion and compassion.

The month in writing

Dec2019Progress

In December, my focus was on continuing to rewrite Reality Bomb. I set my goal at 500 words per day or 15,500 words for the month. I wrote 12,131 words, or 78% of my goal.

The only other thing on my writing plate was this blog. I wrote 4,789 words of my 4,250-word goal, or 113%.

And that’s it.

2019 in review

I started off the year ambitiously, as I always do (more on that in a bit). In addition to finishing drafting book five of my epic fantasy series, Tamisashki, roughly revising RB for presentation to my critique group, blogging, and my bi-monthly Speculations column for DIY MFA, I’d decided to write, revise, and submit one short story per month, revise a poetry collection and two collections of my previously published short fiction.

Add to that my involvement in the critique group, which meant—surprise—critiquing some of my partners’ work, attending Ad Astra, Can-Con, and Wordstock Sudbury, and I had a fuller-than-usual plate. Yes, I was finally over my burnout, but I suspected, even as I set these ambitious goals, that I wasn’t up to accomplishing all of them.

Yeah. While I did revise my poetry collection (and wrote a new poem—yay, me), I only managed to write and revise one short story and start on one more before I realized that the one-story-per-month goal was untenable. I never got to either of the short story collections aside from putting them on my 2019 Writing and Revision Tracker.

I did write one side project, a guest post about writers’ grief for WarpWorld, but that was the only unplanned writing I did.

So, I adjusted my goals. Several times. But what I have on this summary page is what I ended up with.

2019Progress

On the writing side of things, I did rather well. Of my collective 114,150-word goal, I wrote 138,875 words, or 122%.

I revised (or rewrote) 123, 155 words of my 157,110-word goal, or only 78%.

Interestingly, the average of my writing and revision percentages is 100%.

Still, between writing and revising, I produced 262,030 words in 2019. That’s over a quarter of a million words. I’m damned pleased with that.

Filling the well

I relaxed in December. I’m fairly certain that I, like many people in northern Ontario, suffer from some degree of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Self-care is important for me at this time of year. Accordingly, I spent a quiet holiday with family.

Consider me a bear. Winter is my time to hibernate 🙂

What I’m watching and reading

With regard to series, Phil and I watched the new Watchmen series and His Dark Materials in December.

We liked Watchmen because it was consistent with the feeling of the graphic novels and, to some extent, the movie. It was a slow burn to start with, which we don’t mind, particularly in this case, as everything came together in a truly surprising twist. The denouement was satisfying, and the cliffhanger was something that, while I’d be happy to see what happens next, if a second season isn’t in the cards, I would be satisfied with the possibilities it presents without needing a definitive answer.

His Dark Materials was well done, better than the movie, in any case. As in many adaptations, changes were made that would better serve the medium, and I appreciated many of the decisions made for this iteration of Phil Pullman’s novels. I liked the actors and the incorporation of Will’s plotline into this season. A solid season and I hope BBC’s collaboration with HBO will continue.

We started watching Witcher, but it was more of a gap-filler and Phil gave up after the third episode. We didn’t even get through the first episode of the second season of Lost in Space before Phil walked away. I’ll probably pick up both when I’ve made some room on my personal Netflix viewing.

Reading-wise, I grabbed Erin Morgenstern’s The Starless Sea right after Call Down the Hawk. I enjoyed it right up to the ending, which was confusing and unsatisfying for that reason.

Then, I picked up Diana Gabaldon’s collection of novellas, Seven Stones to Stand or Fall. It was a bit of a cheat because I’d read all but two in their individual novella forms. I’m a big Gabaldon fan, though, and I like the way she writes into the gaps in her larger series of books.

Next, I read Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Virtue and Vengeance. It was okay but suffered from many of the same problems as the first book in the series. The characters are all moving between love and hate for themselves and one another so quickly that I got whiplash. I understand that this is YA and the characters are all teenagers, but there were several points at which I felt that the drama was just too much.

Six of Crows was much stronger than Shadow and Bone. Maybe Leigh Bardugo is better at ensemble casts, or heist plots? The characters were stronger and had more agency. They felt more grounded and complex. Whatever the reason, I enjoyed it.

To finish off the year, I returned to a couple of classics. Charles Dickens’ The Chimes, and A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. Dickens has a fondness for ghosts and time travel lessons. Winnie was just charming.

I’d set myself a reading goal for the year of 50 books and ended up reading 71 (!) or 142% of my goal.

What’s up in 2020

I think I’ve finally learned my lesson, writing-wise. I’ve focused in on what I need to do and let my ambitions amuse themselves.

Given my reduced—but still good—production, I’m giving myself until the end of April to finish the rewrite of RB. The core story remains the same, but the content is different enough that it is like writing a new novel. Accordingly, while I counted the work I did in November and December as revision, I’m counting everything in 2020 as writing.

Then, I’m going to begin work on revision/rewriting Marushka. I’d put it up for critique in early 2019 but didn’t feel as strongly about getting back to it as I did about RB. I have to make some decisions about this novel which could entail a significant rewrite … or not. I’ll make those decisions when I review the novel and the critique feedback.

Throughout the year, I’m going to be steadily working on the Ascension series. I should finish my initial reread by the end of January. Then, I’m going to work on the series bible and revision notes on all five novels. By November, I should be ready to tackle revision/rewrites on book one.

I’ll blog, as usual and keep up with my Speculations column. If I can fit it in, I’ll work on some short fiction. I haven’t made any hard and fast goals with respect to the short fiction, though. If it has to go by the wayside, so be it.

The one last thing I’m going to do is shop the poetry collection around, as well as some of my unpublished poems, to see if I can’t do something with them.

2020Goals

I’ll likely attend Ad Astra, Can-Con, and Wordstock again.

So, my plans are much more modest this year. I’m hoping I won’t have to sacrifice much more than the short fiction.

I’ve set my reading goal for 60 books this year, but I’m not sure I’ll achieve it. I put off reading several monster books that I’ll probably tackle in 2020.

By the way, if you like the Writing and Revision Tracker in the screen shots, Jamie Raintree created it. Please do yourself a favour and visit her website to find out more.

That’s it for this update. I generally do them on the first weekend of every month.

Until next time, 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, Dec 22-28, 2019

Welcome to 2020!

Lots of videos today, but there’s still something in here that will pop your mental corn.

Veritasium looks into the science of resolutions (and why most of them fail).

The strange and unexpected reason ice is slippery. It’s okay to be smart

Nadia Drake reports that Betelgeuse is acting strangely, and astronomers think it might be going supernova. National Geographic

SciShow Space news shares their biggest, brightest, most (superlative) news of the year.

Matt O’Dowd answers the question, does life require a multiverse? PBS Space Time

Physics Girl considers how the large hadron collider (LHC) can help us identify dark matter.

Jessica Stewart shares Yaoyao Ma Van As’ heartwarming illustrations of the bond between a dog and their owner. My Modern Met

Thank you for stopping by. I hope you came away with something to inspire your next creative project.

Until the weekend (next chapter for December and year-end review), be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories 🙂

ThoughtyThursday2019