The next chapter: October 2022 update

Ah, November. Time for NaNaWriMo and a break from weekly curation 🙂 Getting this update out early before the word rush begins.

I’ll be providing mini updates every week, as I have in past years but, with my new system, a regular update on November’s doings should be feasible. Look for that in early December, just before curation resumes.

Your monthly PSAs:

All lives cannot matter until Black, Indigenous, and people of colour lives matter.

Continue to observe public health guidelines (washing hands, maintaining physical distance, masking where you can’t, getting your vaccinations as recommended). Covid is endemic and new variants continue to crop up. Get your bivalent booster when you can (got mine!). Take care of yourselves and the people you love.

Russia’s unprovoked war in the Ukraine continues and continues to be deplorable. I stand with the Ukraine!

Reproductive rights are everyone’s fight!

The month in writing

I continued working through Reality Bomb but had to give up around the 15th. By then, I’d only managed to cut 4,000 words. I realized that my map was failing me almost as much as the draft. I need to step back, take an objective view, and prepare myself for more rewriting, I think.

So, the only writing tracked this month was on the blog.

Including this post, I wrote 6,774 words or by 5,000-word goal, or 135%.

But … I made my choice and am now working with editor and book coach extraordinaire, Suzy Vadori 🙂 She’ll help me whip my WIP into shape.

I also had a Canadian Authors Association Board meeting on the 24th.

Filling the well

The Writer Unboxed OnConference continued through to the 16th. Lots of great sessions with Donald Maass, David Corbett, Desmond Hall, Kathryn Craft, Keith Cronin, Julie Duffy, Gwen Hernandez, Tiffany Yates Martin … there were just so many excellent sessions!

I attended the virtual launch of Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Spare Man on the 10th.

Then, I kind of did the crazy about mid-month. I signed up for Sandra Wickham’s five day “Outline Your Novel” workshop from the 12th to the 16th, and I had already signed up for Can-Con (virtual stream) from the 14th to the 16th. Both events overlapped with the OnCon. Thank goodness for replays.

I then continued the crazy by signing up for Daniel David Wallace’s Escape the Plot Forest event from the 22nd to the 25th. Again, replays saved my butt.

Finally, I attended Mary Robinette Kowall’s No Prep NaNoWriMo on the 29th. It’s the second time I’ve attended and I’m hoping that her techniques will help me draft my next project.

I read some of my poetry for the first time since the panini hit (and, truthfully, a long time before that) at the French Kiss open mic on October 4th. It was a lovely evening, and I got to reconnect with Pandora Topp and Chloé LaDuchesse. I also received some news from Latitude 46: the publisher has a line on a poetry editor for my forthcoming collection.

Had Thanksgiving supper at my mother-in-law’s. For simplicity and convenience, we opted for Chinese (few of us really enjoy Turkey). It was delicious, and we had apple cake for dessert.

We had to leave Torvi at home alone (for the first time) for the 2 hours we were there, as my mother-in-law’s building doesn’t allow pets on the premises, even to visit. The good news, Torvi—though she went ballistic when we got home—was a VERY good girl who deserved all the treatos 🙂

A non-writing event I attended was the Beyond Limits Autism Conference on the 23rd.

I got my second covid booster (Moderna bivalent) on the 12th. I will say that my arm was the sorest with this vaccine, but I’m as protected as I can be. For now.

What I’m watching and reading

In the viewing department, I finished watching the first season of Severance (Apple +). Weird and creepy and totally absorbing. Twists abound, but no answers … yet.

Phil and I watched She-Hulk (Disney +) and we both loved it. I read She-Hulk (both savage and sensational) when I was young, and the series reflects the comics. A focus on the difficulty of trying to be a lawyer and a superpowered person? Check. Breaking the fourth wall? Check. Fun sex positivity? Check (check, check)! And the finale was so meta.

I watched the third live action Full Metal Alchemist: The Last Alchemy. Again, it adheres to the FMA: Brotherhood storyline, but I liked the divergences. Subplots are all tied up at the end.

I watched the first season of House of the Dragon. I liked it, despite repeated misogyny and body horror. I know it’s being done for a reason, but honestly, I could have done without it.

Finally, I watched Red Notice. Fun triple-heist, opposites attract/buddy comedy, long con, double cross, and double-double cross, with a little Indiana Jones thrown in. You’d think with so many tropes, the movie wouldn’t be coherent, but the writers dove into each trope with such gusto, it all worked. And Ryan Reynolds is always entertaining.

Moving on to the month in reading, I read Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun. It’s very Velveteen Rabbit and gave me the same feels. Klara is an artificial friend (AF) who is purchased for a young girl, Josie, by her mother. Josie is sick and needs Klara is ways most other children don’t need their AFs. Klara is solar powered but has a special relationship with the sun. She plans to cure Josie with the sun’s “special energy.”

But the mother has other reasons for purchasing Klara and as the mystery unravels and Josie gets sicker, Klara takes drastic measures to save her girl. The ending is bittersweet.

Then, I listened to The Sandman, Act III by Neil Gaiman. S&S Audio pulled out all the stops. Orchestral score, sound effects, actors like James MacAvoy. I can’t imagine how long it takes to produce these things, but bravo. And I loved it.

Next up was Gail Carriger’s Changeless, the second in her Parasol Protectorate series. Alexia stops a humanizing “weapon” from being used to manipulate the supernatural world, but her friend Ivy elopes with an actor and, when it’s revealed she’s pregnant, her werewolf husband suspects her of infidelity, because supernaturals can’t procreate.

I also finished reading Tanya Huff’s The Future Falls. It’s the third in the Gale Women series, but I suspect that each book is fairly standalone. Essentially, Gale Seer Aunt Catharine (all the powerful women in the family are Aunts—the capital counts) Sees that an asteroid is going to strike Earth in an extinction-level event. The Gales can protect themselves, but Charlie wants to save the world. She’s kind of grown to like it, mostly because of the music.

And that was the month in this writer’s life.

Until next tipsday, the last for November, be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

Thoughty Thursday: Popping your mental corn, Oct 16-22, 2022

It’s time to bid farewell to October. Merry Samhain, to those who observe, and happy hallowe’en to everyone else 🙂

It’s time to get your mental corn popping!

Matthew Wills considers the reverse freedom rides in light of recent incidents of forced migration. JSTOR Daily

Guy Kawasaki interviews Dolly Chugh about how to drive social change. The Remarkable People Podcast

Putin tightens grip on Ukraine and Russia with martial law. Associated Press

Quiet quitting is the future of work culture. The Take

Eliza Strickland: with this bionic nose, covid survivors could smell the roses again. IEEE Spectrum

Fergus Walsh reports that BioNTech is using covid vaccine technology to crack cancer. BBC

Michelle Donovan explains how the Black Death shaped the evolution of immunity genes, setting the course for how we respond to disease today. Brighter World | McMaster University

Wyn Reynolds: DNA gives colloidal crystals shape-shifting and memory. Northwestern University

Sheon Han explains how to prove you know a secret without giving it away. The zero-knowledge proof. It’s a computer science thing. Quanta

NASA’s Webb takes star-filled portrait of Pillars of Creation. NASA

Jennifer Ouellette says, “It’s the BOAT”: astronomers observe brightest of all time gamma-ray burst. Ars Technica

Elizabeth Howell: entire known universe recreated in Minecraft by an 18-year-old. Watch the video. Both insane and awesome. Space.com

Jo Marchant reveals that first known map of night sky found hidden in medieval manuscript. Nature

A resource you can lose yourself in: old maps online.

Getting into the spirit of the season, Nathan Strauss suggests 16 spooky places to visit. National Geographic

Alex Lawson wonders, is the great hydrogen gamble: hot air, or the net-zero holy grail? The Guardian

James Ashworth reports that Siberian remains could represent the first known neanderthal community. Natural History Museum

Drs. Georg Hochberg and Tobias Erb (et al.) go back to the future of photosynthesis. Max Planck Gesellschaft

Scientists peel back banana DNA to reveal mystery ancestors. Phys.org

Tim Vernimmen reports that the world’s biggest marine reserve seems to be doing its job. National Geographic

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found something to inspire a future creative project.

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

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Oct 16-22, 2022

This is the final tipsday of October (!) Will you NaNoWriMo this year? I am. It will probably be another NaNo rebel combo, though I will be focusing on Alice in Thunderland. It might actually be a novella, though I’m not certain, yet.

In any case, it’s time to get your fill of informal writerly learnings. Enjoy!

Richelle Lyn is teaming up with other solopreneurs. Then, Jeanette the Writer explains what an editor actually does. Stephanie Dethlefs helps you get to know your ideal reader. Later in the week, Ashley Christiano offers five meditations to help you find your writing confidence. DIY MFA

Jan O’Hara discusses journaling and the writer (episode: man versus table saw). Then, Barbara Linn Probst is grappling with the awkward question of “women’s” fiction. Sophie Masson considers food in fiction. Writer Unboxed

Janice Hardy lists five ways dialogue can annoy your readers. Fiction University

K.M. Weiland reveals the nine negative character arcs in the enneagram. Helping Writers Become Authors

This fairy tale is an actual nightmare. Tale Foundry

Becca Puglisi lists the ingredients for a successful story climax. Margie Lawson says, here be monsters: writers beware! Lynette M. Burrows shares seven ways to increase your creativity through workspace design. Writers in the Storm

Jessica Conoley is writing through the impossible. Then, Hattie Fletcher explains how to avoid taking edits too personally. C.S. Lakin helps you use weather to convey mood in fiction. Jane Friedman

On her own site, Susanne shares tips on how to bring setting to life in your fiction. Live, Write Thrive

Marissa Graff suggests five micro-edits to hook readers on your first page. Then, Julie Artz shares her top three world-building pitfalls and how to avoid them. Writers Helping Writers

The Rings of Power has a narrative momentum problem. Like Stories of Old

Nathan Bransford wonders, can you see what is and isn’t on the page?

Tiffany Yates Martin explains how to speak as well as you write (part 2). Fox Print Editorial

Kristen Lamb reveals why we love, hate, and need horror.

Chris Winkle explains why you should consider present tense. Mythcreants

Roz Morris interviews Jessica Bell on making good decisions about cover design. Nail Your Novel

Louise Harnby answers this question: can I place a dialogue tag before the character’s speech?

How to prevent creative burnout as a writer. Reedsy

Hannah McGregor shares how her Harry Potter podcast made her a better scholar. The Walrus

Jeff Beer explains why Marvel’s She-Hulk finale is the best branded content of the year. Fast Company

Michelle Cyca interviews Ann-Marie MacDonald on exile, imagination, and her new gothic ghost story. The Walrus

John Garth explains how J.R.R. Tolkien came to write the stories that were the source material for The Rings of Power. The Smithsonian Magazine

David Routt: HBO’s House of the Dragon was inspired by a real medieval dynastic struggle over a female ruler. The Conversation

Thanks you for spending some time with me, and I hope you took away something to support your current work(s) in progress.

Until Thursday, keep staying safe and well.

Thoughty Thursday: Popping your mental corn, Oct 9-15, 2022

Happy Friday eve! It’s time, once again, to get your mental corn popping 🙂

Austen McCoy: After Floyd. What has changed and what has not since George Floyd was killed. The Baffler

Baltimore prosecutors drop charges against Adnan Syed after receiving DNA test results. WBAL

Eteng Ettah explains how Abbott Elementary shows us schools without police. Scalawag

Aoife Walsh: Crimea Bridge: Putin accuses Ukraine of “terrorism.” BBC News

Jon Gambrell: protests over Mahsa Amini’s death reach key oil industry. Associated Press

Joseph Pierce says your land acknowledgement isn’t enough. Hyperallergic

John Loepky and Alex Green point out that politicians with disabilities are rare because of barriers, discrimination. Teen Vogue

Varena Coscia explains how SARS-CoV-2 communicates with human cells. And how this “contactome” might result in new therapies. Phys.org

Gabrielle Blair: Why the Least a Man Can Do Is Ejaculate Responsibly. The Remarkable People Podcast

History in Three Dimensions | Daniele Cybulskie | TEDxMilton

Will Sullivan reports that scientists find fungi in cancerous tumors. But what does it mean? The Smithsonian Magazine

Aria Bendix: in a novel experiment, brain-like human tissue implanted in rat brains influenced the rodents’ behavior. NBC News

Hunter’s moon shines in October skies. USA Today

Mark Belan presents this animated map: where to find water on Mars. Visual Capitalist

Jonathan Amos: NASA’s Dart changed the path of asteroid. BBC

The heaviest element yet detected in an exoplanet’s atmosphere. It might rain iron?! Phys.org

The unbelievable story of the earth’s most epic flood. Be Smart

Franco Mariotti says, protecting Laurentian’s greenspace would be visionary. Sudbury.com

Adele Peters: these mini wind turbines are designed for rooftops. Fast Company

True facts: sea cucumbers. Ze Frank

Thank you for visiting. I hope you took away something to inspire a future creative project.

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

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Oct 9-15, 2022

Another week, another batch of informal writerly learnings!

LA Bourgeois says, imagination, engage! Then, Stephanie BwaBwa shares some marketing systems and automations to support your self-publishing career. Olivia Fisher is tapping into the hearts of kids: crafting authentic voice in middle grade. DIY MFA

Ann Marie Nieves answers your PR and marketing questions, part IX: do you twerk? Then, Jim Dempsey wonders, is your book any good? Kathleen McCleary is out of character. Kathryn Craft on story and death and life. Then, David Corbett is crafting an unforgettable villain with lessons from Louise Fletcher’s portrayal of Nurse Ratched. Writer Unboxed

How this became the sad girl era. The Take

K.M. Weiland shows you nine positive characters arcs in the Enneagram. Helping Writers Become Authors

Janice Hardy shares five fun ways to take advantage of your characters’ fears. Then, Ellen Buikema lists ten ways to start your story. Later in the week, Julie Glover discusses the hardest book she’s ever written. Writers in the Storm

Hank Quense helps you build your own digital planner with Scrintal. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Gaia, the mother of creation. Fate & Fabled | PBS Storied

Sue Coletta helps you construct the skeleton of your story. Then, Angela Ackerman says that the key to a successful NaNoWriMo is using October wisely. Later in the week, C.S. Lakin says less is more when it comes to describing setting. Writers Helping Writers

Jessica Bell points out the key elements of eye-catching book cover design. Joni B. Cole: you have a great idea for a story. Where do you start? Catherine Baab-Maguira explains why it’s better to write about money, not for money. Jane Friedman

Preptober tips! Do these ten things before NaNoWriMo. Reedsy

Nathan Bransford answers the question, “When should I stop sending query letters?”

Kristen Lamb considers motivation and how what drives us defines us.

Tiffany Yates Martin: how to speak as well as you write, part 1. Fox Print Editorial

Chris Winkle considers movement, the 2,300-year-old story principle. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five stories undermined by their epilogues. Mythcreants

Roz Morris: becoming you—how to develop confidence as a writer. Nail Your Novel

Overcoming perfectionism as a writer. Shaelin Writes

Sahar Arshad: from Never have I Ever to Bridgerton, the Desi girl era is here at last. Teen Vogue

Matthew Vogt: pantheon of superheroes. JSTOR Daily

Joyce Kinkead recounts the 5,000-year history of writer’s block. The Conversation

Jordan Pruett wonders, what counts as a bestseller? Public Books 

KC Hoard conducts a roundtable with designers: book cover confidential. The Walrus

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you found something to support your current work(s) in progress, whatever stage they’re at.

Until Thursday, keep staying safe and well.

Thoughty Thursday: Popping your mental corn, Oct 2-8, 2022

It’s thoughty Thursday, and you know what that means: tomorrow’s Friday! Celebrate by getting your mental corn popping in time for the weekend 🙂

Sean Lahman and Kayla Canne report that Rochester to pay $12M to settle lawsuit filed by Daniel Prude family, largest civil rights settlement in city’s history. Democrat & Chronicle

Livia Gershon considers women leaders in Africa: the case of the Igbo. JSTOR Daily

Errin Haines: it’s almost 100 days since Dobbs. What has changed? 19th News

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha says able-bodied leftists cannot abandon disabled solidarity to “move on” from covid. Truthout

Hugo Bachega and James Fitzgerald: Russian troops forced out of Lyman in eastern Ukraine. BBC

Nine NATO members urge support for Ukraine after annexation. Associated Press

Hyung-Jin Kim, Kim Tong-Hyung and Mari Yamaguchi report that North Korea sends missiles soaring over Japan in escalation. Associated Press

Study is first to show role of genomic changes in specific brain cells in Alzheimer’s disease. University of Exeter

Mechanism used by metastatic cancer to infiltrate liver found. Osaka Metropolitan University

New route to evolution: how DNA from our mitochondria gets into our genome. University of Cambridge

Anne Cleary: what is déjà vu? Psychologists are exploring the creepy feeling of having lived through an experience before. The Conversation

Nostalgia, the gift that keeps getting rebooted. Khadija Mbowe

Clark Quinn: myth persistence (in learning design). Learnlets

Renee Dudley and Daniel Golden introduce us to the self-taught tech geniuses fighting cybercrime: ransomware hunters. The Guardian

Michael Sheetz reports that SpaceX launches Crew-5 mission for NASA, carrying astronauts to space station. CNBC

How to Build for Human Life on Mars | Melodie Yashar | TED

Ronan O’Connell takes us inside the Irish “hell caves” where Hallowe’en was born. National Geographic

Pacific Ocean set to make way for world’s next supercontinent … in 200 to 300 million years from now. Phys.org

Your city is full of fake buildings. Here’s why. Answer in Progress

MĂ©lissa Godin introduces us to the women fighting fire with fire. Atmos

Aysha Khan says that plants by school playgrounds protect kids from road pollution. Next City

Scientists crack upcycling plastics to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, advancing a recent study. University of Illinois

Damian Carrington: wax worm saliva rapidly breaks down plastics. The Guardian

Eleanor Cummins takes us inside one of the world’s first human composting facilities. The Verge

Livia Gershon offers a natural history of dragons. JSTOR Daily

Talia Ogliore: study reports first evidence of social relationships between chimpanzees and gorillas. Washington University in St. Louis

Haley Weiss: dark extinction has scientists worried. Here’s what they’re doing about it. CNET

Nancy Darling explains why your dog likes to flirt with other people. Psychology Today

Thank you for visiting. I hope you took away something to inspire a future creative project.

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

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Oct 2-8, 2022

Fall is in the (very chilly) air! Hope all my Canadian friends had marvelous Thanksgiving weekends, but now, it’s back to the grind. Hello, Tuesday-that-feels-like-a-Monday. It’s time to reward yourself with some informal writerly learnings 🙂

K.M. Weiland explains (very briefly) how to pull off a plot twist. Helping Writers Become Authors

Karen DeBonis recommends you celebrate every writing milestone. Lisa Norman: welcome to the future, part 2. Stefan Emunds shares three principles to make your story experience as real-to-life as possible. Writers in the Storm

Tikbálang, the Filipino nightmare shapeshifter. Monstrum | PBS Storied

Elizabeth Spann Craig shares five tips to make your life easier as a writer.

Greer Macallister: knowing your no. Donald Maass returns with more novels that shouldn’t work but do, and why. Then, Sarah Callender is stealing style, structure, and subject from other writers: imitation and emulation. Susan DeFreitas: I’ll feel what she’s feeling.  Yuvi Zalkow is rewriting the bookstore event. Writer Unboxed

Jill Bearup gets creative: the fantasy heroine vs. the writer.

Joe Ponepinto is writing small for a bigger impact. Then, Allison K. Williams says motivation doesn’t finish books. Allison also starts her “Ask an Editor” series answering this question: when should writers stand their ground rather than defer to an editor? Jane Friedman

Tim Hickson fixes the final season of Legend of Korra. Hello, Future Me

E.J. Wenstrom helps you overcome the book promotion scaries. Then, Sara Farmer presents her favourite Jane Austen mysteries. Lori Walker interviews Carol Van Den Hende about finding inspiration and writing purpose-driven fiction. Then, Mason Engel reveals the secret to maintaining the motivation—and discipline—to write: writeforce. Rita Zoey Chin shares five tips for writing dynamic characters. DIY MFA

How to brainstorm effectively. Reedsy

Janice Hardy explains why “the worst that can happen” is terrible writing advice. Fiction University

Becca Puglisi says themes and symbols go together like peas and carrots. Writers Helping Writers

Tiffany Yates Martin discovers how Emi Nietfeld revises: writing and real life. Fox Print Editorial

How to structure a short story. Shaelin Writes

Chris Winkle explains when to kill a hero—or not. Then, Oren Ashkenazi hosts another three-way ANTS death match between Three Parts Dead, House of Blood and Earth, and A Master of Djinn. Mythcreants

Emily Zarevich wonders if Mary Wollstonecraft’s Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark was the original Eat, Pray, Love. JSTOR Daily

Justyna Pawlak and Simon Johnson announce that the scrutiniser of self, France’s Annie Ernaux, beats long path to Nobel literature prize. Reuters

And that was tipsday. Thanks for spending some time with me, and I hope you found something to support your current work(s) in progress, whatever stage they’re at.

Until Thursday, keep staying safe and well, my writerly friends.

Thoughty Thursday: Popping your mental corn, Sept 25-Oct 1, 2022

We’re rounding the bend to the weekend. Fortify yourself by getting your mental corn popping.

Amanda Connolly reports that Black public servants face trauma amid class action. Global News

Kimmy Yam and Shakshi Venkatraman reveal that Adnan Syed faced racial stereotypes in court that weren’t scrutinized. NBC News

Torture and ill-treatment of Haitian asylum-seekers rooted in anti-Black racism. Amnesty International

Jon Gambrell and Adam Schreck: Russia’s call-up splits EU; Ukraine says it shows weakness. Associated Press

Nadeem Badshah summarizes what we know on day 214 of the invasion. The Guardian

Ivana Saric: Nord Stream pipeline leaks were an act of sabotage, EU says. Axios

Amir-Hussein Radjy says Iran’s anti-veil protests draw on long history of resistance. Associated Press

Darren Major: on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Murray Sinclair challenges Canadians to be mindful, year-round. CBC

Peter Sagal puts a face on the senseless gun violence in the US: killed for walking a dog. The Atlantic

Rob Ferguson reports that Ontario tries to delay shutdown of Pickering nuclear station amid electricity “supply crunch,” sources say. The Toronto Star

Julia Simone-Rutgers: no place to live. One person’s search for a place to call home reveals a public housing system stretched to its limits. The Walrus

Jessica Stillman: a neuroscientist explains when it’s time to start worrying about your memory. Inc.

Shape-shifting fat cells fuel breast cancer growth. And they may lead to new treatments (!) Medical Xpress

Allie Volpe shares the sleep advice no one tells you. Vox

Ashawnta Jackson: vampires and public health. JSTOR Daily

Jenna Benchetrit says “quiet quitting” isn’t really quitting, but it’s forcing employers to adapt. Essentially, it’s the backlash against hustle culture. CBC

Clark Quinn considers the power of emotion. Learnlets

The fatal physics of falling objects. Veritasium

James Doubek: Jupiter is coming its closest to Earth in decades. NPR

NASA’s Juno shares first image from flyby of Jupiter’s moon Europa. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Ashley Strickland reports that NASA’s DART mission successfully slams into an asteroid. One small collision for humankind … 🙂 Then, Webb, Hubble space telescopes share images of DART slamming into an asteroid. CNN

Sarah Collins says there’s new evidence of liquid water beneath the south polar ice cap of Mars. University of Cambridge

Smriti Mallapaty: China’s Mars rover finds evidence of catastrophic floods. Nature

Elizabeth Howell announces that SpaceX’s Crew-5 mission will carry Native American woman to orbit for first time. Space.com

Grace Toohey reports that Mexico earthquake triggers “desert tsunami” 1,500 miles away in Death Valley cave. Phys.org

John Bartlett: Gran Abuelo in Chile could be the world’s oldest tree. The Guardian

Dogs love the smell of stress. SciShow

More on the same: dogs can smell when we’re stressed, study finds. Phys.org

Thank you for spending a little time with me, and I hope you found something to inspire a future creative project.

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

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Sept 25-Oct 1, 2022

Welcome to October! Energize yourself for the rest of the week with some informal writerly learnings.

Tiffany Yates Martin explains why plots fail. Then, Amanda Miller shares five ways to use community marketing for your book. Jane Friedman

Jenny Hansen suggests a strength-based approach to writing. Then, Lisa Hall-Wilson explains why rhetorical questions help you go deeper with emotions. Eldred Bird is writing through life’s storms. Writers in the Storm

C.S. Lakin helps you show the world through your character’s senses. Live, Write, Thrive

Angela Ackerman says, if you want lifelike characters, create a character bible. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Sauron wasn’t always evil. What happened? The Philosophy of Tolkien. Hello, Future Me

Vaughn Roycroft talks turning points. Then, Kelsey Allagood shares decision trees, angry bees, and other writer brain hacks. Julia Whelan: I’ve heard such mixed things. Jeanne Kisacky wonders who are you reading now? Writer Unboxed

Becca Puglisi explains how to reveal a character’s inner conflict. Writers Helping Writers

Nathan Bransford encourages you to close off your protagonist’s easy off-ramps.

Richelle Lyn is designing a logo from scratch. Then, Melanie Bell offers five things to think about when writing a coming-of-age story. Barbara Rubin shares how she found balance between capturing joy, sorrow, humor, and rage in her writing. DIY MFA

Tiffany Yates Martin answers the question, how much should you plot your stories? Fox Print Editorial

Chris Winkle says storytellers must stop dehumanizing prisoners. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five overshadowed characters in popular stories. Mythcreants

How H.P. Lovecraft wrote the unimaginable. Tale Foundry

Nalo Hopkinson has won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. J. Wayne and Elsie M. Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction

Sean Wetselaar says Judy I. Lin’s recipe for success is fantasy and a cup of tea. The Walrus

Adrian Daub writes about losing oneself in the geography of fantasy worlds: here at the end of all things. Longreads

Guy Kawasaki interviews Min Kym about her book Gone: A Girl, a Violin, and a Life Unstrung. The Remarkable People Podcast

Jessica Winter explains how E. Nesbit used her grief, her politics, and her imagination to create a new kind of children’s book. The New Yorker

Check out Publishers Weekly’s annual publishing in Canada report. Interesting reading.

Thanks for taking the time to visit. I hope you took away something to support your current work(s) in progress.

Until Thursday, keep staying safe and well!

The next chapter: September 2022 update

October, already! I know pumpkin spice latte season officially started in September, but October feels more PSL to me. So here: have some guinea pigs talking PSL 🙂

An oldie, but a goodie 🙂

Your monthly PSAs:

All lives cannot matter until Black, Indigenous, and people of colour lives matter.

Continue to observe public health guidelines (washing hands, maintaining physical distance, masking where you can’t, getting your vaccinations as recommended). Covid is endemic and new variants continue to crop up. Take care of yourselves and the people you love.

Russia’s unprovoked war in the Ukraine continues and continues to be deplorable. I stand with the Ukraine.

Reproductive rights are everyone’s fight!

My new plan for my updates, to have my template open and write throughout the month as things happen is working a treat. Going to keep doing it.

The month in writing

I took it easy. Kind of. There was a flurry of writing admin at the start of the month. Finished the beta read/crit I promised (haven’t heard back, though, so thinking I might have overstepped?). Submitted the Ontario Arts Council grant application, for better or worse. Continued vetting book coaches.

Then … I took it easy 🙂

Continued my slow way through Reality Bomb (again) in anticipation of working with a book coach. The good news is that It’s resulted in a net loss of words. There are still several chapters that are longer than I’d like, but progress is being made. I probably won’t be finished until part-way through October.

Other that that, and blogging, I didn’t do much else. The short story’s stalled. The poetry is still pedestrian. I haven’t read any more of the Ascension series or worked any further on Alice in Thunderland.

Not sure what all this means. Think I just need a break.

As I did last month, I didn’t set a revision goal for RB. If I added words to the draft, I noted it in my tracker. If revision resulted in a negative word count, I didn’t. The interesting thing is that, though I added about 1,500 words between August and September, the overall word count on the draft has shrunk by more than 2,000. I’m now entering the second half of the second act, where most of the cutting has to occur, so I anticipate a lot of shrinkage between now and the time I complete this pass. I don’t know if the net loss will get the draft down to 100k, but we’ll see how far I get.    

I blogged 118% of my 5,500-word goal, or 6,477 words.

And that was that.

I also had a meeting of the Branch Support and Development Committee for the Canadian Authors Association (CAA) to attend on September 29th.

Filling the well

I watched the replay of Dan Blank’s “Identify Your Ideal Readers” webinar, facilitated by Jane Friedman, and two Authors Publish webinars, Marin Sardy’s “How to Create Vivid Metaphors that can Transform Your Writing” and Michael Kleber Diggs’ “The Art of Poetic Efficiency.” I also watched the replay of Krista Ball’s “Going Solo: A Beginner’s Guide to Finding Readers with Indie Publishing,” a joint presentation from SF Canada and the CAA. Replays are such a blessing.

Finally, the Writer Unboxed OnConference started on September 29th. I appreciate that they’re extending the OnCon over several weeks and holding major sessions and workshops in the evenings or on weekends. It’s a great model for writers with day jobs 🙂

I attended a family get-together on the 10th out at my sister-in-law’s. Her kitchen is mostly done, and it looks beautiful! A great barbeque (hamburgers and hotdogs) with potato salad, bean salad, and baked beans. With no-sugar-added blueberry pie and strawberry-rhubarb crisp with no-sugar-added ice cream. Gotta love the Chapmans 🙂 It was a rare chance to indulge.

The lovely reno—all the cabinets were salvaged/recovered. Phil did the counter tops.

My support group is back in session for the fall and the September session was about burnout, which was beneficial. My semi-annual dentist appointment has resulted in some changes to my oral care routine. The fractures in my teeth haven’t progressed, but my lower labial frenula is pulling my gums down. If things progress, I might need a frenectomy (not looking forward to that).

I also had my orthotics checked and got a new pair along with new shoes, both needed and expensive. The shoes are Gore-Tex, though and will be waterproof and longer lasting. My toes poke through the mesh of regular runners. And I had an appointment with my registered massage therapist.

Last month, Torvi turned five! She’s clearly not impressed.

What I’m watching and reading

In the watching department, Phil and I caught The Sandman (Netflix). Having listened to the audiobook production, I really appreciated the choices made to bring what was a serialized comic, with a number of episodic digressions, to a more or less cohesive whole. Phil enjoyed it, too, but we’re both worried that Netflix will do the stupid and not fund the second season. Because subscriptions.

Then, we watched the final season of Locke & Key (Netflix). There were a plethora of irritating plot holes. For instance, Dodge hitches a ride with Bodie when he uses the time key to try to defeat her in the past and then, when he attempts to escape using the ghost key, she jumps into his body, leaving him a ghost tethered to the family graveyard. But there’s a fail safe on the time key that returns any out-of-time elements to their proper time when the timer runs out. Dodge, still in Bodie’s body when this happens, disappears along with Bodie’s body. There is a contrived solution using the animal key that apparently pulls Bodie’s body back from the past so he can inhabit it again. And what happened to Dodge’s body hidden under Bodie’s bed? We never find out.

Stuff like that took much of the enjoyment out of the series.

Next, I watched Thor: Love & Thunder (Disney +). I loved it. Phil started watching it with me, expecting the typical Marvel movie, and had to leave part way through to run his virtual RPG, but he’s going to watch the rest of it himself at some point (actually I watched the second half again along with him 🙂 ). You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (maybe), you’ll love it. I’ll say no more.

Season three of Snowpiercer (Netflix) ended in a weird place, but I’ll have to back up for context. At the start of the season, the train has separated (again) and neither is thriving. Using Melanie’s data, they’ve been searching for a habitable place in the world, to no avail. Layton does pick up a survivor, however, and decides to rejoin and take over Big Alice before heading to the final data point on Melanie’s list of possible habitable zones, the Horn of Africa.

The train reunites, with the requisite battle and loss of life, Wilford is taken into custody, and Layton puts their destination to a vote, but asks the survivor to lie to support going, even though there is no guarantee they will find what they’re looking for.

There’s a lot of side drama, including a knife battle between Layton and Pike, because Pike thinks Layton will get them all killed. They find Melanie, miraculously alive, but she outs Layton’s lie and the risks associated with going to the Horn, igniting another civil war, which Wilford capitalizes on.

Melanie seems to ally with Wilford, but it turns out to be a secret plan between her and Layton to expel Wilford from the train and then split the train (again). Layton and the passengers who wish to, will head for the Horn, and Melanie will continue on with the rest of the passengers, even though the train is falling apart.

Months later, Layton reaches the Horn and habitable conditions are confirmed. Meanwhile, Melanie sees an explosion in the distance. Apparently, season 4 will be the last.

Bridgerton season two was much better than season one. Not half so self-conscious of the messages they were trying to convey. It was more enjoyable as a result.

In terms of books, I read The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin. I liked it a lot. I only had time to read part of the novel in university because the summer course was only six weeks, and I didn’t have time to read everything. I enjoyed the novel a lot but see some of the problematic aspects that some readers complain of.

I read Rocannon’s World a long time ago, and The Dispossessed in that same science fiction class I couldn’t finish TLHoD for. I might fill in the gaps in the Hainish Cycle.

Then, I read Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao. A fabulous futuristic reimagining of history. Zhao has talked about this on her YouTube channel. 18-year-old Zetien signs up to be a Chrysalis (giant, transforming robot) co-pilot, with the aim of revenging her sister’s death in the misogynist pilot system. She achieves her goal fairly quickly, but then she’s taken into custody and forced to co-pilot with Li Shimin, who’s chi is so strong, his co-pilots never survive. There’s political intrigue, polyamory, and alien mecha-beasts that turn out not to be so beastly, or alien, in the end.

Next, I read … Nona the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir. What can I say? I lurve the Locked Tomb series. I know there are readers who can’t get around her style and structure of storytelling, but I have to consume these books as soon as they’re released. So looking forward to Alecto the Ninth.

In Gideon, the titular character, sacrifices herself so that Harrow can become a lichtor. In Harrow, things aren’t going well with the transition to lichtorhood, and … almost everyone seems to die, though with necromancers, you just know that never sticks. Now, in Nona, the titular character has no memory of who or what she is, and her remembered life is all of six months. I won’t say anything more for fear of spoiling the experience for you.

Finally, I read Brenda Ueland’s If You Want to Write. This classic craft book has been on my shelf for years and I finally read it. It’s a kind, gentle, and short book about allowing yourself to write, enabling yourself to write. She’s firmly in the pantser/gardener/discovery writer camp.

And that was September in this writer’s life.

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