Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Sept 30-Oct 6, 2018

The thoughy’s focused on psychology and neuroscience this week. What appropriate subject matter for getting your mental corn popping 🙂

Lisa Margonelli enters the jaw-dropping world of termites: a giant, crawling brain. The Guardian

Mark Humphries presents a new prime suspect for depression. The Spike/Medium

Bruce Goldman-Stanford says people with depression have low blood levels of this stuff (but that doesn’t mean you should rush out to buy some). Futurity

Joseph Frankel: hallucinations are everywhere. The Atlantic

Ermin Misirlisoy explains what happens when your body is no longer yours. Medium

Paula Cocozza examines night terrors: what do anxiety dreams mean? The Guardian

Inverse: Your brain on horror with Shannon Odell.

 

Jacqueline Detwiler introduces us to the heroes of science who are unlocking the brain. Popular Mechanics

Ayodeji Awosika explains why it’s dangerous to focus on finding your passion and what you should do instead. Medium

And that was thoughty Thursday.

Until next Tipsday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!thoughtythursday2016

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Sept 30-Oct 6, 2018

I’m back with your weekly infusion of informal writerly learnings.

K.M. Weiland answers six outstanding questions about structure. Helping Writers Become Authors

Jael McHenry is writing someone else’s story. Or, she has and is sharing the tale with us 🙂 Writer Unboxed

Nancy Johnson explores her experience with writing as resistance. Writer Unboxed

Donald Maass: the weight. Writer Unboxed

Catherine McKenzie is writing through chaos. Writer Unboxed

Natalia Sylvester waxes on revision as a form of reimagining. Writer Unboxed

Lisa Hall-Wilson gives us a checklist for writing deep POV like a pro. Writers in the Storm

Margie Lawson touts the brilliance of backstory slip-ins. Writers in the Storm

Tamar Sloan says that capturing complex emotion is a writer’s superpower. Writers Helping Writers

Terry Brooks takes over Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds: more than the story. Later in the week S.L. Huang says, let’s also write our joy.

E.R. Ramzipoor stops by Fiction University: writing about slavery in historical fiction.

Ayman Jaber: making teleportation work in your story. Mythcreants

Jami Gold offers some NaNoWriMo prep tips for getting your story idea ready.

Cold Crash Pictures lists their five favourite feminist tropes (as a counterpoint to the last video I shared from them).

 

If you found something helpful in this mix, consider coming back on Thursday for your weekly dose of thoughty.

Until then, be well, my friends 🙂

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Torvi tales: an overdue post

Torvi

Phil was mucking around with a graphics program and made this 🙂

Torvi turned one on Sept 26, 2018. That was two weeks ago last Wednesday but, at the time, I didn’t have the brain (AKA the wherewithal) to even make a quick post on Facebook about it.

The day job is a continuing challenge to me. It’s been nothing but continual change—and not small or incremental, either—for the past seven years and I think I reached my limit about two years ago. I’ve been running on fumes ever since.

When the latest round of this-is-where-we’re-heading-whether-you-like-it-or-not hit, I was struggling to keep my head above water and my time at home was devoted to finishing up Playing with Fire and trying to do a decent job of critiquing the work of some new writerly friends.

So, I stopped posting my sunrise/sunset and other pics and kept my head down.

Then, Phil’s retirement became official (read real) with a defined last day of work and package. It imposed almost as many burdens/worries as it alleviated, but the decision is made and can’t be taken back.

We’re in for an uncertain time ahead.

Torvi is, as I mentioned in my next chapter post yesterday, still a handful. At Thanksgiving supper last night, I had to keep her on the leash the whole time. She’s just so excited when people come over, and the people she most wants to meet (read jump all over and attack with love) are the least capable of withstanding the Torvi onslaught. I even took her on an extra-long walk yesterday, hoping to burn off some of her energy, but she’d missed her walk the night before as we were out celebrating a friend’s 50th, so it probably just evened out.

She still has fits of bitey-ness, what Phil and I call the pre-poop and post-poop crazies (one because she’s gotta go and the other because she’s so relieved, all she can think to do it take a tear around the house), puts her front paws up on the kitchen counter, dining room table, desk, or other surface, and grabs whatever’s in reach of her toothy maw, and we have to put her in a controlled down (leashing her, getting her to lie down, and stepping on the leash to keep her there) for most evening meals and some breakfasts. Meal times are when she’s most likely to have a fit of the biteys.

Though I walk her twice a day, I still need to get her out to play fetch or recall until she’s burned out. It’s hard to do when I’m pretty burned out myself.

She’s a work-in-progress. Our other two dogs were a year and a half to two years old before they became calm companions.

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Torvi is not amused.

Without further delay, here are the promised Torvi tales:

The skinned knee

As I mentioned, I walk Torvi twice a day, morning and evening. One evening in early August (yes, that’s how long this tale has been waiting for its telling), we were coming home and the light at the intersections changed before I could get to press the walk signal button.

I figured I could do a gentle jog and we’d cross the road in time. It wasn’t something we hadn’t done many times before. We’d even jogged at both obedience classes. Yes, Torvi gets a little excited when I break into a jog, but she usually stays by my side. I thought nothing of it.

This time, Torvi started gambolling about and gambolled right in front of my feet.

I went down, in the middle of the intersection, skinned my knee pretty bad (like, ten-year-old attempts to learn to skateboard bad), bashed up my shoulder through my jean jacket, and lost my glasses. I was mortified. But I didn’t let go of the leash, thank goodness.

Even though all the lanes were filled with waiting vehicles, I didn’t hear one, “are you okay?” I collected myself, retrieved my glasses, and hobbled to the other side of the street. Only then did I think to be miffed at the lack of concern shown by the drivers.

The capri leggings I was wearing were trashed (though, upon consideration later, I thought I should have turned them into bike shorts) and it took the rest of the month for my knee to heal up.

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Gambolling pup.

The toad

Not long afterward, I was taking Torvi out for her pre-bed time pee, and noticed a dark shape moving over the non-lawn. Torvi noticed it before I did and was on it before I could hold her back.

First, she put her mouth on it, and came up with a strange look on her face, licking and drooling. In retaliation for the icky taste, she pounced on the poor thing, but it had already puffed itself up and looked like nothing so much as a stone.

This was the work of seconds and, by the time I hauled her away and further into the yard to do her business, and then into the house, I realized the dark shape had been an innocent toad. And I wasn’t half sure the dear thing had survived Torvi’s attentions.

I got her inside and gave her a big drink of fresh water to get the toad taste out of her mouth. We went to bed, me still worrying about the toad.

It was gone the next morning, though. I like to think it made it to the shelter of the deck (which is where I think it was heading), though it is possible another animal came around and took advantage of the situation. We have foxes, raccoons, and feral cats in the area, any of which could have done the job.

I still say “hi” to our deck toad, though, whether it’s actually there, or not.

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The pic I took on the 26th–happy belated?

My shoes

We’ve been slowly opening the house to Torvi. Initially, we kept all the doors closed and the gate up at the doorway to the side entrance and basement stairs. I’d open the door to whatever room we were in so that we could keep an eye on her and at night, we’d close her in the bedroom with us.

We started by opening the bedroom door at night, but keeping the others closed. Then, we gradually trusted her to have the run of the upstairs until she tore the already ragged bath mat a few new holes, and now we keep the bathroom door shut for the most part.

We’ve started taking the gate down unless Phil’s eating something in his office downstairs, in which case he generally chases Torvi upstairs and puts up the gate himself.

One evening, though, the gate was down and Torvi had gone downstairs for some daddy-time. She generally settles on the old pillows I put down there for her or brings down a toy to chew on. As the sounds of chewing are nothing unusual, Phil didn’t think anything was wrong. Until he got up for a bio-break, and then I heard the shouting from all the way upstairs in my office.

Torvi had taken one of my shoes downstairs and was happily destroying it.

Now, I have foot issues. I’ve had orthotics for years—and yes, they were in the shoes, but, for whatever reason, she hadn’t touched the one in the shoe she chose to chew on—I’ve had plantar fasciitis, and, most recently, compressed fatty pads on my heels. I’d just this year invested in a really good pair of running shoes that have made all the difference. And now it was $200 down the drain, er, the dog’s gullet.

Though there was some great distress, the shoe was chewed and there wasn’t anything I could do that would un-chew it. So, I took the orthotics out of the ruined shoes, tossed the shoes, popped the orthotics into a cheap old pair of walking shoes, and decided to go shopping at my next opportunity.

By the way, the cheap old walking shoes? They’re going to the charity bin. The shoes are still in good shape, but when I took Torvi for her evening walk in those things, it was like walking on slabs of concrete. Even with the orthotics.

Fast-forward to the next day and I’m looking for the same brand and style of running shoe as the pair Torvi had chewed—Saucony Everun. The store was out of stock. So was the other location, not that I’d have driven across town in the moment to get them. I decided to try another pair of Everuns in a different style and size, and decided they’d work. They were $20 cheaper than the style I’d purchased previous and I counted it a win.

Though I’d told the sales associate my dog-gone tale of woe, I repeated my sorry story to the cashier, who, it turns out, was a dog person who knew my pain. She gave me a further discount on the shoes. That’s customer service 🙂

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We now have matching reflective vests for evening walks.

Here ends this riveting edition of Torvi tales.

Doubtless, there will be more to come.

Be well, be kind, and stay strong until next time!

The next chapter: September 2018 update

Happy Thanksgiving, to all my Canadian friends! And happy Columbus Day to all my American ones. To be honest, I don’t know what other celebrations might be taking place this weekend elsewhere in the world. If you have something special to celebrate, I wish you joy. If nothing else, it’s the weekend, and reason enough to celebrate.

Even it it’s a nice, quiet supper with friends and/or family. Aren’t those really the best celebrations? Maybe it’s just introvert me.

I’m celebrating a few things. Torvi turned 1 on September 26. She’s still a handful, but she’s getting better every day (we have to believe that, regardless). Phil’s work troubles are almost at an end. It’s been formally announced, now, so I can say. Phil’s retiring November 30th. There’s going to be an adjustment period, but there it is.

Writing-wise, September saw me writing the last words on Playing with Fire. Finally. I also brushed up the last batch of chapters of Marushka and got them posted for critique. The only other writing I did in the month was to blog.

Here’s how the month looked, production-wise.

SeptProgress

I reviewed 11,852 words of Marushka and got the last chapters posted over the Labour Day long weekend. I kind of fudged my goal at 10k, so ended up with 119% of my “revision” goal. I put revision in quotes, because I didn’t really revise anything. As I wrote above, I reviewed it. Quick pass before I let it out the door, so to speak.

Once again, I set myself the modest writing goal of 5k on PwF. I ended up writing 6,108 words, or 122% of my goal. It’s the most I’ve written since June, so I take heart.

I estimated 2,600 words on the blog and wrote 2,610; so, 100%.

September wasn’t a month for creative events, but for more personal ones. For example, my coworkers arranged our annual Christmas in not-December (it’s been June, July, August, and now September, so far).

In October, I have a few things to get accomplished. In the critique group, I have to finish my critique of one novel and look at a novella. I also have to review the opening of a friend’s novel (not associated with the critique group).

I have another column due this month for DIY MFA. Aside from that, I’m trying to outline Tamisashki for NaNoWriMo. It’s the fifth and final book in my epic fantasy series and I don’t want to put myself in the same situation I was this year—interminable drafting.

The reason I was working on PwF for so long (if you don’t remember, and it’s totally okay if you don’t) is that, aside from my crazy burnout, I didn’t get a chance to finish my outline for the novel before NaNo, and Torvi, arrived. I had the protagonist’s plot line worked out, but the rest of it was all pantsing.

I’ve come to appreciate the preparatory work I do, even if I don’t end up sticking to the outline, and I usually don’t because I’m a creative monkey.

And, of course, there’s the blogging.

This year, I’m thinking of doing a weekly NaNo update post in November, just to keep something going up on the blog. We’ll see how things work out.

And that’s it for the writerly update this month.

Tomorrow, I’m going to post a special, Torvi-oriented blog and then it’s back to work and curation posts.

Thanks for stopping by and seeing what’s been up with me.

Be well until tomorrow.

The Next Chapter

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Sept 23-29, 2018

Welcome to thoughty Thursday where the goal is to get your mental corn popping!

That Phoenix debacle that keeps popping up from time to time in my social media feeds or these curations? Yeah, that one. Here’s a video that may help explain things:

 

Sarah DiGiulio explains why your weird dreams actually make a lot of sense (according to neuroscience and psychology). NBC News

Megan Feldman Bettencourt: how forgiveness has been weaponized against women. In other words, to truly forgive someone, they have to be held accountable. Harper’s Bazaar

Linda Rodriguez McRobbie reports on the dead beneath London’s streets. Smithsonian Magazine

SciShow introduces us to the incredible biodiversity of Lake Baikal—plus, extremophiles!

 

Matt Reynolds examines the almighty tussle over whether we should talk to aliens or not. SETI, METI, and the arguments for and against. Wired

Stephanie Pappas: humans contribute to the Earth’s wobble. Scientific American

SciShow Space looks at the Dark Matter vs. MOND debate.

 

Eric Mack: NASA turns 60 and it’s reinventing itself for the SpaceX era. Cnet

Adrien Mauduit shares his time-lapse video of the skies over Tenerife:

 

Florence + the Machine cover Tori Amos’s “Cornflake Girl.”

 

Beck: Colours

 

I hope you found something interesting in this edutainment mix.

This weekend, I’ll be posting my next chapter update for September.

Until then, be well, my writerly friends 🙂

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Sept 23-29, 2018

Let’s start off October right with some informal writerly learnings 🙂

K.M. Weiland returns from hiatus with three tips for improving show, don’t tell. Helping Writers Become Authors

Susan Spann explains when zero is greater than one. Writer Unboxed

Bryn Greenwood: how long is a piece of string? Ruminations on quitting the day job and what it takes to make a writing life. Writer Unboxed

Barbara O’Neal writes about the pause between. Sometimes, you have to take a break between projects. Listen to your body. Writer Unboxed

Heather Webb offers some tips on writing the authentic modern woman (especially if you’re a man). Writer Unboxed

Julie Carrick Dalton uses a metaphor to describe the editing process: putting words on trial. Writer Unboxed

Jane Friedman shares three principles of finding time to write. Then, Grant Faulkner joins Jane to help you overcome creativity wounds.

Elisabeth Kauffman answers another question in her ask the editor column: conflicting critique advice. DIY MFA

Barbara Poelle answers another “Funny you should ask” question: what is new adult fiction? Writer’s Digest

Chuck Wendig tries his hand at another writing analogy: a writing career is basically a really weird RPG. Terribleminds

Laura Drake explains why learning writing takes so long. Writers in the Storm

Chris Winkle shows you how to break storytelling rules. Mythcreants

Jami Gold: how to save a broken story.

Cold Crash Pictures takes a look at the five most annoyingly sexist tropes in movies. Works for fiction, too.

 

That was Tipsday for this week.

Come back on Thursday for your weekly dose of thoughty.

Until then, be well!

tipsday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Sept 16-22, 2018

It’s time to pop your mental corn. Get those creative connections ping-ponging around that skull of yours!

Jim C. Hines shares lessons from a viral #metoo tweet.

Michael Hobbes: everything you know about obesity is wrong. The Huffington Post

ASAP science teams up with Gigi Gorgeous to explore the science of being transgender.

 

Marie Heinen: Doug Ford, no power grab is worth undermining Canada’s solid foundation. The Globe and Mail

The Ottawa Citizen provides an update on the tornadoes that touched down in Ottawa and Gatineau: it’s devastating.

SciShow explains why the weak nuclear force ruins everything.

 

In SciShow Space news: cryovolcanoes on Ceres and Iridium flares.

 

Ryan F. Mandelbaum reports that scientists gave MDMA (ecstasy) to octopi … and learned something profound. Gizmodo

True facts about the cuttlefish. Ze Frank

 

And that was your edutainment for the week.

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

thoughtythursday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Sept 16-22, 2018

Looking for some informal writerly learnings? Don’t worry. I’ve found them:

Vaughn Roycroft is writing through uncertainty (with a writerly life jacket). Writer Unboxed

Dave King: wait, what? The power of ambiguity. Writer Unboxed

Annie Neugebauer explains how to process and filter feedback. Writer Unboxed

Julie Duffy: self-doubt is not good. Writer Unboxed

Laura Drake proposes a writer’s resolution anyone can keep. Writers in the Storm

From Beyoncé to the X-files: allusion power on the page. Margie Lawson guest posts on Writers in the Storm.

Angela Ackerman visits Writers in the Storm. What’s stronger than your character’s worst fear? Their unmet need …

A.K. Perry explores another of James Scott Bell’s signpost scenes: doorway of no return #1. DIY MFA

Brenda Joyce Patterson shares some practical magic: voice in character creation. DIY MFA

Jenn Walton presents five conversations you should have with your protagonist. DIY MFA

Chuck Wendig says that a writing career is a series of cliff-mitigation exercises. Terribleminds

Faith Okamoto shares five tips for characters who go against the flow. Then, Oren Ashkenazi presents six sources of conflict for your world. Mythcreants

Jami Gold wants you to proactively avoid issues with a brainstorming check.

Jenna Moreci lists the top ten she looks for in a book (for personal reading enjoyment).

 

Erik Kwakkel tells the tale of two medieval selfies: me, myself, and I. Medieval Books

The Captain Marvel trailer (looks awesome!)

 

And that was tipsday. Come back on Thursday for your weeky dose of thoughty.

Until then, be well!

tipsday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Sept 9-15, 2018

And now … it’s time to get your mental corn popping.

Sharon Cohen for the Associated Press: why are native American women vanishing?

Thee lesser-known symptoms of depression. SciShow Psych

 

Zarria Gorvett exposes the strange truth about the pill. I was on various birth control pills for maybe five years combined, and this disconcerts me. BBC

Frank Martela recommends that you exercise, eat well, and help other because altruism has a surprisingly strong impact on your health. It’s what my sign-off is all about (be well, be kind, and stay strong). Scientific American

Bret Stetka reports how the infectious theory of Alzheimer’s Disease draws fresh interest. NPR

Lucy V. Justice, Martin Conway, and Shazia Akhtar: your earliest childhood memory is probably fake. Quartz

Simon Parkin asks, is there finally a cure for insomnia? The Guardian

The oldest planet ever discovered. SciShow Space

 

Katherine Lackey explores why Yellowstone’s ecosystem hasn’t been restored by the return of its wolves. USA Today

The Verge: we met the world’s first domesticated foxes.

 

And that was Thoughty Thursday.

Be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

thoughtythursday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Sept 9-15, 2018

Another awesome week of informal writerly learnings.

Rochelle Deans covers for K.M. Weiland while she’s on hiatus: three tips for writing a story that’s better than its flaws. Helping Writers Become Authors

Jenny Hansen wonders, have you lost touch with your inner avid reader? Writers in the Storm

Julie Glover suggests four easy edits to make your story flow better. Writers in the Storm

David Corbett is gearing up for getting out: the conference experience. Writer Unboxed

Jami Gold drops by Writers Helping Writers to apply lessons from TV to chapter hooks: and … action!

Over on her own blog, Jami wonders, what do you want to write that you haven’t yet?

Kristen Lamb discusses time as a literary device: flashbacks vs. non-linear structure.

Laurence MacNaughton offers five tips for writing group success. Fiction University

Kristen Lamb helps you decipher the log line: can you pitch your entire story in one sentence?

Ellen Brock offers a two-part series on writing a query letter. Here’s part one:

 

And part two:

 

Here’s my latest DIY MFA column: world building with the celestial objects of our Solar System.

On episode 217 of DIY MFA Radio, Gabriela Pereira interviews Yang Huang: write dangerously. Later in the week, Gabriela presents the opposite is possible theory of character development. DIY MFA

Chuck Wendig says, you gotta trust in the process. Terribleminds

Jim C. Hines explains what to do when you’re called out on something problematic

Chris Winkle explains why English needs singular they. Then, Oren Ashkenazi discusses six pieces of misunderstood storytelling advice. Mythcreants

So looking forward to Outlander season 4.

 

Be well until Thursday, when you can visit again to pick up some thoughty 😉

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