Join me at DIY MFA for my latest Speculations

This time, on Speculations, I’m sharing five of my favourite Indigenous SFF authors.

It’s time to decolonize your reading, y’all!

While you’re there, check out some of the great resources Gabriela has, the other awesome columnists, and the Writer Igniter SFF Summit–it’s free!

Until next time, bl and stay safe, my writerly friends!

NaNoWriMo 2020, week 3 update

Just a quick update this week, though it has been a momentous week.

Mom was released Monday evening. Though we were a bit surprised, we figured the hospital didn’t want her staying longer than necessary, because covid. Phil and I have been taking care of her (mostly Phil as I’m still working during the week) and Mom has graduated to soft foods. All is going well.

As of November 20th, right on schedule (according to the NaNo site), I “won” NaNoWriMo. That is, I edited just over 50k words. I’ve now cut 12,627 words from the draft. I have eight chapters left and don’t think I’ll meet the goal of cutting 30k this time around. Maybe I’ll make 20k, but not 30k.

I’ve revised 58,244 words in November. I had revised 24,714 words at the end of October. I’ll keep going until I’m finished with the draft.

Fortunately, I have until Dec 25 (yeah, yeah—I’ll be giving my critique group a Christmas gift) to give the draft another sweep and cut those extra words. I think I’ve got the story structure in good shape, though. I’ll have to parse the draft at the end of the month to say for sure (are the plot points coming at the right percentages of the draft?).

So that’s my progress this week.

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

NaNoWriMo 2020, week 2 update

I’m late with this update (duh). For reasons.

Last Monday afternoon, my mom got sick. On Wednesday, she asked Phil to take her into emergency. Neither of us could accompany her because covid. That evening, we finally heard from the hospital. Mom was in recovery. Unfortunately, she wasn’t settled in a room until after visiting hours were over.

I didn’t find out the details about her surgery until the following day when I was screened in as her “health partner” or designated caregiver. Thank goodness my employer offers family-related leave.

Mom was discharged yesterday evening. It felt like it was a little early, but they didn’t want to keep her longer than necessary, again, because covid. Phil went to pick her up and we got her home and settled, changed her bed and got her into it, and then Phil ran around to get her prescriptions filled and the clear fluids she’ll be on for the next week or so.

Understandably, I didn’t have time to put this update together until today.

I continued to edit Reality Bomb though there were a couple low-count days (right around when Mom was admitted to the hospital, wouldn’t you know), but I kept at it, as was able.

As of yesterday, I have revised 36,746 words and I’ve taken the original draft of 120,071 words down to 110,753. So far, I’ve cut 9,318 words off the draft. NaNoWriMo predicts that I will reach my goal of 50,000 words edited by November 22. I’m at chapter 24 of 38.

I’m thinking that I might manage another four or five thousand words cut by the time I reach the last chapter. I’ll take another run at it in the time I have remaining in the month and see what additional damage I can do.

And that was my eventful week!

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

NaNoWriMo 2020, week 1 update

Here we are, my writerly friends. It’s November 8th, week one of NaNoWriMo is over, and Joe Biden is the president-elect. Kamala Harris is the first woman of colour to be elected vice president. The world breathes a sigh of relief … and then one of exasperation as the big, orange baby continues to insist that he “won by a lot.” In the words of the late, great Stan Lee, ‘nuff said.

Week one was a good one for me. I’ve cut almost 4,000 words off my draft, rewritten significant portions of text, but it still feels like I’m cheating when I put the word count of the chapter I’ve just revised into my spreadsheet and into the NaNo site.

I’ve declared myself a rebel. I’m not drafting this year. I’m editing. The point is to get some work done. And work is getting done. I’ve edited 19, 851 words this week. By NaNo stats reckoning, I’ll be done by November 20th. I’ll probably loop around again, though, just to make sure I’ve got the draft as “right” as I can make it at this point.

And then it’s off to the critique group for review and I move on to another project. 2020 has been so messed up, I’m not sure what that will be at this point. I had wanted to go back and rewrite/revise Marushka this year, but the Ascension series is always sitting at the back of my mind. And MageBlood. And Gerod and the Lions. And the half a dozen other ideas that have sprouted up over the years. Projects aren’t the problem. It’s the choosing that’s hard.

I just have to figure out where my energy is best used and go there.

I hope you’re all experiencing success, however you’ve chosen to define it. Every word’s a victory.

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

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Oct 25-31, 2020

This is your last opportunity to get your mental corn popping until December. Enjoy!

Paulina Jayne Isaac explains where Amy Coney Barrett stands on upcoming important SCOTUS topics. Important for understanding how her influence will affect various marginalized and racialized people. Bustle

Breonna Taylor grand jurors say that Louisville police actions before her death were negligent and criminal. Apparently neither murder nor manslaughter were even on the table. NBC News

Tim Elfrink: Texas cop who killed Jonathan Price, a Black “pillar of the community” charged with murder. The Washington Post

John Philip Santos reveals the secret history of the Texas Rangers. Mass murder of Indigenous and Mexican peoples and bounty hunting escaped slaves were part of their assigned duties. Texas Monthly

Josh Wood introduces us to the US police department that hired social workers. The Guardian


Arne Delfs and Raymond Colitt: Merkel imposes toughest German restrictions since the lockdown. Bloomberg

Sophie Lewis reports that even Vladimir Putin is instituting a national mask mandate. CBS News

Rebecca Sohn reports that covid-19 patients are developing “brain fog,” but what does that mean? Mashable

Lina Zeldovich: what bats can teach us about coronavirus immunity. JSTOR Daily


Just because Halloween was last week doesn’t mean you have to stop with the spooky!

Jill Beatty considers Vardø’s witch trials: the evil north. An oldie-but-goodie? The Norwegian American

Tai Gooden reveals the history (both pure and evil) of the Ouija board. Also, check out the linked video on the Fox sisters. Nerdist

The editors at JSTOR Daily curate a list of Halloween-related articles. Perfect for this time of year!

Henri, le chat noir. L’haunting

Here are some spooky musical suggestions from the New York Public Library.

Emily Zarka presents modern zombies, a rebirth. Monstrum | PBS Storied

The Bakemono Zukishi “Monster” scrolls (18th – 19th centuries). Let these weirdos inspire your own twisted creations. The Public Domain Review

SciShow considers what Earth’s next supercontinent might look like.

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) finds water on the moon.

SciShow Space news also features the lunar water discovery.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you took away something to inspire your next creative project.

I will not be abandoning you entirely in November. I’ll have weekly updates on the progress of my NaNo project.

Until my next update, be well and stay safe, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 25-31, 2020

Welcome to the first—and last—tipsday of November! Load up on informal writerly learnings and I’ll see you in December. ‘Cause NaNoWriMo.

Black and Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter.

Wear your masks. Maintain physical distance. Get your flu shot. We are firmly in the second wave and the situation is getting steadily worse. We all have to pull together to survive and protect each other until a vaccine is available.

Kim Bullock explains why writers need rooms of their own. Later in the week, Barbara O’Neal distinguishes between using memory vs. backstory. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland: the midpoint as the swivel of your novel’s linked structure. Helping Writers Become Authors

Janice Hardy shares six steps to creating a great character. Fiction University

Susan DeFreitas says, don’t hold out for publishing to make you feel seen. Pursue this goal instead. Jane Friedman

The Karen trope, explained. The Take

And then, the witch trope, explained. The Take

Tasha Seegmiller: how do your characters love? Later in the week, Eldred Bird offers some tips for upping your “what if” game. Then, Laurie Schnebly Campbell explains why we love (and resent) alpha males. Writers in the Storm

Gilbert Bassey offers four ways to fix a boring story. Writers Helping Writers

Helen J. Darling wants you to reconnect with your values if you’re feeling stuck. Then, Pamela Taylor helps you create authentic details in historical medicine. Later in the week, Gabriela Pereira interviews Laura Jamison about writing the ensemble cast. Then Sara Farmer interviews Linda Olson. DIY MFA

Shaelin reviews structuring your novel with Dan Harman’s plot embryo. Reedsy

And then, she looks at the traditional three act structure. Reedsy

Jami Gold gives some thought to world building on an epic scale.

Oren Ashkenazi analyzes the mixed climaxes of Marvel’s phase three, part 1. Mythcreants

Kristen Lamb explains why some stories fall apart and fail to hook readers (spoilers: it’s story structure).

Summer H. Paulus offers some insight into the origins of Halloween and its traditions. Fantasy Faction

Tricia Ennis reveals the strange, difficult history of queer coding. SyFy

Aja Romano explains how voice actors are fighting to change an industry that renders them invisible. Vox

Disney’s new content warnings on classic animation featuring racist characters. BBC

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

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

The next chapter: October 2020 update

October has ended. NaNoWriMo has begun. This year has been temporally bizarre. Covid time moves both slower and faster than normal time. Months have passed at a snail’s pace, and then I blink and the next month is gone.

Black and Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter. Marcellis Stinnette and Jonathan Price were killed by police in October. The RCMP has refused to protect Mi’kmaw fishers and their rights.

I’m so afraid for what will happen, not just in the US, but also to countries and economies all over the world if Trump gets in for a second term. Not a little of my anxiety these days is due to this election.

Pandemic Life

Worldwide, we’re in the second wave. Numbers of infections are exceeding those seen in the spring in many countries are increasing restrictions. While I understand that people are tired, if we don’t recommit to reasonable restrictions like wearing masks in public, maintaining physical distance, washing your hands, and getting your flu shot, governments will have no choice but to implement lockdowns again.

It’s not about inconveniencing you. It’s not about violating your civil liberties. It’s about protecting other people. It’s about preventing the spread of disease.

Do your part.

The month in writing

Having finally finished my rewrite of Reality Bomb in September, I’d hoped to map things out and revise by the end of October. Once again, my ambitions exceeded my capabilities.

I didn’t finish mapping the story until October 20th. When I got to work on revisions, it wasn’t too bad. With eleven days left on the month, I set the goal of revising 30,000 words. I managed 24,714 words, or 82%. I’ve not just been cutting words, I’ve been rewriting whole sections again, so this is not bad. This is also the first month I’ve posted substantial revision numbers all year.

For NaNoWriMo this year, I’m doing the rebel thing again and I’m hoping to revise the remaining 60,000 (and a bit) words. I’ve already cut over 2,000 words from the over 120,000-word draft. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to tighten everything up and end up with a 90,000-word story that I can present to my critique group. I’m sure there will be further revisions, but this is my short-term goal.

Thanks in part to these long monthly updates, I once again outstripped my blogging goal by 174%. I wrote 6,532 words of my 3,750-word goal.

I also drafted most of my next Speculation column for DIY MFA. I managed to write 840 word of my 1,000-word goal, or 84%.

Overall, I wrote 155% of my writing goal of 4,750 words.

Also, my poem “Visiting Endymion” was published in Polar Borealis 16.

Filling the well

My family did get together for a low-key Thanksgiving at my Mom’s. Even though there were just five of us, we had more than enough food to send everyone home with leftovers.

For my birthday, Phil ordered sushi, I had wine, and we watched a seasonally appropriate movie (more on that, below). I’m a level 51 human now. I still behave like I’m a kid 😛

Virtual event-wise, I started the month with the launch of Ariel Gordon’s Tree Talk on the 1st. On the second, I attended a Carl Brandon Society lecture by Desi authors called Our Literary Mothers.

On the 6th, I attended a talk with Waubgeshig Rice and Eden Robinson in anticipation of the CBC series Trickster, based on Robinson’s books. It’s awesome. You need to watch it. CBC Gem.

I signed up for a series of webinars from Free Expressions. So far, I’ve attended a couple of Donald Maass lectures/workshops, and a Lisa Cron presentation on story and the brain.

I also registered for Surry International Writers’ Conference (SiWC) online, which combined their usual weekend offering with the Writing Excuses virtual retreat. I have to admit that I hit peak zoom saturation on Saturday night, but the recorded sessions will be available for a month for registered attendees. I’ll catch up.

Almost full/blue/hunter’s moon

What I’ve been watching and reading

In the viewing category, the month started off on a lowish note.

We finished Wizards: Tales of Arcadia. It wasn’t as good as Three Below, but it was okay and a better interpretation of Arthurian legend than Cursed.

Season two of The New Legends of Monkey was fun, but dumb. It doesn’t pretend to be anything else.

We watched The Boys, season two, and it was awesome and bloody and surprising, but Lucy traumatized me.

Lovecraft Country blew my freaking mind. I’ve seen some less than stellar reviews, but Phil and I loved it.

Utopia was good as well. I enjoyed it more than Phil, but I think what got him was the lack of resolution. Every plot line ended on a cliffhanger. I’m more comfortable with this than Phil is.

We also watched two movies. The Old Guard was good, but fairly standard and somewhat predictable. Zombieland Double Tap was as delightful a romp as the first one.

Reading-wise, I finished Jade City by Fonda Lee. I’ve been diversifying my reading and quite enjoyed the Asian-based fantasy world. The characters were fabulous.

Then, I backfilled a gap with Sabriel by Garth Nix. I quite liked the world of the Abhorsen.

I consumed Harrow the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir’s follow up to Gideon the Ninth. I went in prepared for the second person narrative, the apparent retconning of many of the events of the first book, and the lack of Gideon’s exquisitely kiss-my-ass voice. There is a point to it. Trust me. The second novel is as much a mystery as the first and part of the delight is trying to figure out what the hell is going on. The pay off is worth it, though the ending still leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Loved.

I also read K.M. Weiland’s Writing Your Story’s Theme. You may have noticed my book review 🙂 Yes, I’m A K.M. fangirl, but her analysis is on the mark and she has a way of making theme accessible to the reader without too much brain twisting.

I finished off the month with Alice Munro’s Runaway. There are only two standalone stories in this collection and the rest are linked in two groups. The title tale is chilling.

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

Just a reminder, I won’t be doing curation for most of the month of November. There is just one each of tipsday and thoughty Thursday, and then I’ll be devoting most of my time to RB revisions/NaNo. Of course, I hope to provide you with a weekly update on my revision progress.

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

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Oct 18-24, 2020

It is time, once again, to get your mental corn popping.

Catharine Tunney: Indigenous services minister calls raid on Nova Scotia fishing facilities and assault on the Mi’kmaw people. CBC

Brandon Young and Allan April: southwest Nova Scotia lobster pound destroyed by fire, one man hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. CTV News

Gimba Kakanda takes you inside the protests taking on police brutality in Nigeria. Time

Brando Simeo Starkey explains respectability politics and how a flawed conversation sabotages Black lives. Also called tone policing. From 2016. Yet again, these conversations are not new. The Undefeated

Ken Miller: Tulsa digs again for the victims of the 1921 race massacre. Associated Press

Michael A Fletcher reveals the results of a poll: Black Americans see a healthcare system infected by racism. National Geographic


Janelle Randazza lists eight covid-friendly ways to hand out candy this Halloween. Reviewed

Amanda Woytus: does virtual learning work for every student? Spoilers: It depends on how the lesson is delivered and whether the learner has any special needs. JSTOR Daily


Amy Alipio takes us inside the fortress known as “Dracula’s Castle.National Geographic

Reese Oxner reports that Colorado fire grows 100,000 acres in a day and hits Rocky Mountain National Park. NPR

Andrew Liszewski reports that Impossible Foods is now developing a plant-based alternative to cow’s milk. Gizmodo

Jan Hoffman and Katie Benner: Purdue Pharma pleads guilty to criminal charges for opioid sales. The New York Times

SciShow Space explains how to find dark matter with a billion pendulums.

Denise Chow: scientists clock the fastest interval of time in “zeptoseconds.” NBC News

Michael Walsh shares a map that shows every country’s most famous mythical creature. Nerdist

Thank you for visiting, and I hope you take away something to inspire your next creative project.

This weekend, I hope to get my next chapter update done before NaNoWriMo hits. Also, while I should get next week’s curation scheduled as well, those will be the last until December 8th. I will, however, post my progress, weekly. This year, as last, I will be a NaNo Rebel, because I will be working on the revisions for Reality Bomb. I’m focusing on getting a project completed before moving on to the next, these days, and I’m not at all ashamed to say that this year has thrown my writing for a loop.

It takes the time it takes.

Until the weekend, then, be well and stay safe, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 18-24, 2020

Another week, another batch of informal writerly learnings 🙂

Black and Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter.

Wear your masks. Maintain physical distance if you can’t. Get you flu shot. We have to take care of each other if we’re going to get through this.

Janice Hardy provides an easy way to find your protagonist’s goal. Fiction University

Becca Puglisi wonders, is compassion fatigue is relevant for your characters? Then, Barbara Linn Probst considers dead and undead darlings. Writers in the Storm

Just in time for Halloween, Jenna Moreci shares her favourite monster tropes in fiction.

And then, Emily Zarka looks at the influence of the Romero zombie. Monstrum | PBS Storied

Finally, The Take considers the final girl trope.

Laura Highcove helps you use your writer’s intuition intentionally. Then, Bronwen Fleetwood considers age categories and wonders who’s being served by them. Later in the week, Gabriela Pereira interviews Carol VanDenHende about book marketing for busy writers. Savannah Cordova shares five bits of writing advice that actually work. DIY MFA

It has come to my attention that you don’t all love Birds of Prey. Cold Crash Pictures

Dave King says, don’t mess with Mama Nature. Then, Kathleen McCleary advises us about writing an ensemble: can we be a pod? Writer Unboxed

Lisa Hall-Wilson explains what you can learn from rhetorical questions in your manuscript. Writer Helping Writers

Nathan Bransford: your writing matters.

Elizabeth McGowan spent nearly two decades writing and revising her book. She finally found a publisher. Jane Friedman

Chris Winkle has some advice for writers using incantations in their magic systems. Then, Oren Ashkenazi explains how Red Rising flubs class conflict. Mythcreants

Freytag’s pyramid: the five-act structure, explained. Reedsy

Kathleen Rooney explains how Frank London Brown’s Trumbull Park exposed the brutal legacy of segregation. JSTOR Daily

Dustin Nelson: these are the words that were added to the dictionary the year you were born. Thrillist

Lydia Dishman shares six covid-19 terms that would have made no sense in January. Fast Company

Waubgeshig Rice explains how to engage online (as a writer). Open Book

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found something to support your current work in progress (or your upcoming NaNoWriMo).

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Oct 11-17, 2020

We’re heading toward the weekend. Fortify yourself for the final stretch and get your mental corn popping.

BLM and pandemic-related items grouped for your convenience.

Grace Hauck wonders whether you’re celebrating Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and then makes the case for the 14 States honoring Native American history and culture. USA Today

Renée Gokey shares five ways to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Just because the day is past doesn’t mean you can’t keep celebrating. The Smithsonian Magazine

Reed Abelson and Abby Goodnough explain what would happen if the Supreme Court ends Obamacare (AKA the Affordable Care Act). Most of these negative outcomes will disproportionately affect marginalized populations. The New York Times

Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux, Nathaniel Rakich and Likhitha Butchireddygari explain why it’s so rare for police officers to face legal consequences for their misconduct. FiveThirtyEight

David Lammy: climate justice cannot happen without racial justice. TED

Juan Michael Porter II writes about racism and profiling on Katahdin: “We didn’t expect to see you.” Outdoors

Emily Cataneo provides a brief history of the women’s KKK. JSTOR Daily

Jess Romeo: the Taínos refused to grow food and the Spanish starved. Environmental racism in colonial times and its lasting effects. JSTOR Daily

Jedediah Purdy: environmentalism’s racist history. The New Yorker


Doha Madani reports that Johnson & Johnson pauses clinical trials for covid-19 vaccine due to participant’s illness. NBC News

Helen Branswell and Ed Silverman present seven looming questions about the rollout of a covid-19 vaccine. Stat

Ed Cara reports that an international WHO trial finds no benefit from remdesivir and other drugs in treating covid-19. Gizmodo

Jessica Wong: as school boards blend in-person and virtual classes, criticism emerges for the hybrid model. CBC

Jenny G. Zhang: coronavirus panic buys into racist ideas of how Chinese people eat. Eater

Olga Khazan explains how to tell if socializing indoors is safe. The Atlantic


Bob Berman says to watch the skies for Mars—it won’t be this close and bright again until 2035. The Farmer’s Almanac

Tour of asteroid Bennu. NASA Goddard

Marina Koren announces that NASA has finally made a toilet for women. The Atlantic

Livia Gershon: fossilized footprints found in New Mexico track traveler with toddler in tow. The Smithsonian Magazine

Emily Zarka: the origins of the zombie from Haiti to the US. Monstrum | PBS Storied

Ernie Smith explains why the plastic packaging you hate so much is still here. Vice

Ed Stoddard: the chinchillas and the gold mine. UnDark

Emma Stoye shares her favorite science-related photos of the month, including a covid-sniffing spaniel named Floki. Nature

Thank you for visiting and I hope you took away something to inspire your next creative project.

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