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!