The next chapter: May 2023 update

Welcome to the next chapter monthly update for May 2023. It’s going to be another epic update. Actually, it’s epic-er. Lots of stuff to cram into this month.

I woke up May 1st to the news that a tentative deal had been reached and the strike was over (for now). The deal still had to be formally announced, information sessions held, and members vote on whether to accept the offer or not. And if the membership doesn’t vote to accept, we could be picketing again if further negotiations fail.

CRA workers were still walking the picket until their bargaining team had an agreement they could present to their members. This happened within the week.

Our ratification kit was sent out on May 10th. The ratification vote was called on the 24th, but the voting period doesn’t close until June 16th, so you (and I) will have to wait until next month to learn the results.  

Two people in Incledibles costumes on the PSAC picket line.
Two of our superheroic picketers on a very rainy day.

In the meantime, life threw us another curve ball. Our break line blew, and the car was out of commission until we could find an appointment at a repair shop, which was more difficult than you’d think. The garage we’ve been with for 20+ years was booked solid for six weeks. Our dealership was booked for three. Ultimately, we found a garage that could help us, got the car towed there, and the necessary repairs completed in five days.

It was interesting living without a car for those few days. I hope that the universe doesn’t have any further surprises in store for us. With Phil’s broken shoulder, the strike, and the car, that’s three. Things have to turn around soon.

The month in writing

I worked on a creative non-fiction piece and finished it (I think) on May 6th. Actually, I gave it a few more passes and submitted it on the 8th. There is such a thing as editing the life out of a piece. It’s my first CNF. I have no idea how it will fare.

I continued to edit my poetry collection, work on notes and acknowledgements. I sent it back to Tanis (who was having fun in Finland—I’m so jealous) over the Victoria Day long weekend. She’ll have final notes back to me in June.

Actually, she returned the second round edits May 29th. I’ll work on it on the weekend (June 3rd and 4th) and then forward it to my publisher, Heather, for final copyedits, formatting, cover, and all that jazz. April 2024 is getting closer!

I revised a short story for an anthology call due May 31st. That, too, I finished (after several passes) and submitted on the 28th. And then the call was extended until July 31st. Oh well.

And I finally got back to Reality Bomb. I reviewed the chapters I’d done before, added a stack of Post-it notes to my map, and generally prepared to dive back into editing with Suzy in June. I officially contracted her on the 24th and paid my fee. It’s happening!

Mellie's writing and revision progress for May.
Once again, I’ll just leave this here for you to peruse.
Mel holding up the CSFFA Professional Development Grant letter.

Related to that: My ah-MA-zing news (that I alluded to last month): I received the CSFFA Professional Development Grant! W00t!! Now the first session with Suzy will be mostly covered! I was informed by email on April 30th but asked to hold back on announcing the news until the CSFFA made their official announcement. Now they have, and I can! You may have seen my blog post about it earlier in the month. I thought it bore mentioning again 🙂

I submitted my application for my first Ontario Arts Council Northern Arts Grant on May 1st (again, for better or worse). There was a lot more to it than the OAC grant I applied for last fall. I have no idea how well I did (or did not). I’m still committed to applying for every grant I can. The more grant applications I submit, the better I’ll get at writing them. That I worked on this one while in the midst of the strike … let’s just say it probably wasn’t my best work. But I have no objectivity, so who knows?

I read my poetry at the TWUC Ontario region virtual open mic on May 2nd. It was good to share my poems again.

On May 3rd, I received an email from Odyssey Workshops notifying me that my application to Your Personal Odyssey was not accepted. Each year, the email’s a little longer and this year, Jeanne Cavelos said she enjoyed reading my writing sample. There were even more applicants than last year, and the competition was fierce. I’ll see it as a “one step closer to yes” rejection 😉

On May 12th, I received the package from the K. Valerie Connor Memorial Poetry Celebration contest and judging was underway. More than twice as many poems as were predicted, but I managed.

I attended a CAA board meeting on May 23rd. It will be one of my last. I’m stepping down after two terms to focus more on my writing.

Filling the well

I virtually attended the FOLD from April 30 to May 7, watching most of the sessions in replay. Always a great literary festival.

I watched the first of the Donald Maass series of Free Expressions webinars on May 5th, the Eight Lacks that Torpedo a Good Manuscript. Thought-provoking as ever.

I signed up for another Tiffany Yates Martin webinar through Jane Friedman and watched it on May 7th. The Power of Dialogue in Fiction was a different offering than I’ve seen from her before. Excellent, as always.

The TWUC Webinar, Construction of a Story Arc, featured past winners of the Danuta Gleed Award. Interesting insights into process.

I attended Writers Read for Dawn Walker on May 10th. I’d already signed and shared the petition through and when I was notified of the reading, I decided to show my support. Also, Kim Fahner was one of the readers (and Alicia Elliott and Louise Bernice Halfe and Dawn herself). It was a compelling and heart-wrenching evening. I’ll encourage you to support Dawn’s legal defense fund.

I signed up for Your Novel’s Four Key Scenes with Susan DeFreitas, once again, through Jane Friedman. And once again, I watched the replay. She got into the neuroscience of story. Mirror neurons. Semantic and episodic memory. All the good things.

From May 12th to 14th, I attended the virtual version of the Nebula Conference and Awards Ceremony. There were a lot of great panels including one on revision and one on neurodivergent writers 🙂

I registered for Cece Lyra’s Putting the Hook in Your Book webinar on the 18th. I had a conflict and watched the replay. Full of insight. Cece introduced me to a new way of thinking about story in terms of pitch or query.

Then, I signed up for Carly Watters’ Preparing Your Pitch Package for Literary Agents webinar on the 24th. A bad couple of days at work meant that I had to watch the replay. I did not have the gas. But it was an amazing webinar that covered both fiction and non-fiction queries/packages. And the resources!

I watched a Word on the Street virtual webinar on creating time & space to write on the 25th. It’s not that I don’t already have time and space to write, it’s just that I can always learn something new, and Melissa Yuan-Innes (Yi) was on the panel 🙂

I’m just signing up for all the things 🙂 On the 31st was Jean-Louis Trudel’s “To Enter the Writing Multiverse,” another CAA/SFC webinar. An excellent presentation on creating a diversified writing career.

I had a lovely massage booked with my RMT on the 24th. Much needed respite.

Phil actually got to see the endocrinologist on May 9th. He received a year’s worth of prescriptions, a referral for a bone scan, and an appointment for next year.

He had another appointment with Dr. Vokey on the 12th and this was his last. Unfortunately, the x-ray technician asked him to contort his arm into a weird position and then Vokey manipulated the joint as part of her final exam. He was so sore, he bailed on Mother’s Day dinner.

Speaking of which, my sister-in-law hosted Mother’s Day dinner at her place. It was a lovely weekend for it. Super-delish pasta and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Torvi stayed home with Phil.  

He also had another physio appointment on the 29th. This, too, would be his last. There’s really not much more they can do for him. He just has to keep up with his exercises and see how things go.

Picture of the moon in a cloudy sky over trees.
One of my favourites of the last month.

What I’m watching and reading

It’s finale season. Just warning you now, there are a lot of shows I’m going to be running down.

Phil and I watched Seven Kings Must Die (Netflix), the movie finale of The Last Kingdom series. It basically covers Bernard Cornwell’s most recent novel in the book series the BBC/Netflix series and movie are based on. The series benefitted from being able to cover the events of each novel over up to ten episodes. The movie suffered from having to cram everything into less than two hours. It felt like several novels crammed into one movie. We enjoyed it, but not as much as the series. I have yet to read the books (though I have purchase several).

Season five of The Rookie (network) ended with a wild conspiracy that had all the LAPD and their partners on edge. Riddles, masks, ambush attacks, home invasions, abductions … it was a lot. And at first, I was worried they were going to kill of another Black character. But it all worked out and in the last moments of the episode, the mysterious mastermind of the attack drives out of town, his own goal accomplished and the LAPD none the wiser. I guess that’s setting up next season.

The Rookie: Feds (network) completed its first season. There was a lot of crossover between The Rookie and its spinoff throughout the season. I like Feds, but not as much as The Rookie. The finale was a win-lose scenario. Moral grey area. They’re waiting to hear if they’ll be renewed.

The first season of Will Trent (network) was excellent, however. I really like the series and will have to check out the books it’s based on by Karin Slaughter. The finale involved a serial killer with links to Will’s past.

The next seasonal domino to fall was True Lies (network). I liked the movie, so I figured I’d give it a shot. The series was nothing like the movie. Mission briefings were slick, digital cheese. It wasn’t as funny as I hoped, either. The season and series finale (it’s been cancelled) sets up a second season that will never happen. Unless one of the streamers picks it up.

I watched the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy (network). I don’t know how much longer the series will go on. Everyone’s leaving. And now that Ellen Pompeo has stepped back … I mean is there a Grey’s Anatomy without Meredith Grey? I like the new interns well enough, but it’s becoming a lot of the same old, same old.

Phil and I watched Antman and the Wasp: Quantumania (Disney +). I enjoyed it, and Phil was interested enough to actually watch the whole movie with me in one sitting. Jonathan Majors is a tour de force. Hank’s ant farm! “I have holes! Rawr!” >munch, munch, munch< Much fun.

Then, I watched Still (Apple +), the Michael J. Fox documentary. It was amazing.

I needed a little mindless entertainment toward the end of the month, and Jolt (Amazon) fit the bill. Kate Beckinsale plays Lindy, a woman with intermittent explosive disorder who’s just trying to live in the world without harming anyone. She connects with Justin, on the advice of her therapist, but shortly after their third date, Justin is killed, and Lindy decides to use her disorder to find the murderer.

Onto the reading. And, as kismet would have it, I finished reading a lot of books this month, too.

I read Brian Staveley’s The Emperor’s Blades. Solid epic fantasy, but there was a continual stream of objectification and fridging going on, which robbed what might otherwise have been thoroughly enjoyable of the thoroughly part. The emperor is murdered, and his three children have to contend with the fallout while trying to step into their own destinies. I enjoyed Kaden and Valyn’s journeys, but Adair’s was not as well-developed, another reason I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I could have.

Then, I finished Austen Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist. It’s not a long book, but it’s filled with pithy common sense that every writer needs to read interspersed with clever blackout poetry and nifty sketches. Yes. Every creative needs to read this book. That is all.

Next, I turned my attention to some shorter works.

I read Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Depressing story. Before he woke up a giant cockroach, Gregor was the sole provider for his family, but they took him for granted. He had ambitions to send his sister to the conservatory, so she could pursue her talent with the violin. After, his mother, father, and sister all get jobs. His father has some savings, but he decides they should only be used in an emergency. Like his son turning into a cockroach isn’t an emergency. All the while, poor Gregor wastes away as his family withdraws their love and support, the only “food” he really wants. When they finally decide they must get rid of him, Gregor dies, almost as a favour to them. And life goes on.

I also finished my re-read of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Dream Thieves. Not a shorter work, but this was the order I finished it in … I don’t know how to be objective about this series. I love it so much. And I can only hope some of her brilliance might rub off on my as I study her work. Now, it’s on to Blue Lily, Lily Blue.

Another short piece I re-read was “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving. I have a story idea that plays with Sleepy Hollow, but I haven’t been driven to actually write it, yet. I like to keep in touch with the story from time to time. This was one of those times.

Next, I read Penric’s Fox by Lois McMaster Bujold. I’d only read Penric’s Demon before, but I don’t think it matters what order you read these tales in. This is apparently the fifth novella in the series and involves Penric investigating the death of another temple sorcerer whose demon may have made its way into a fox. I liked it a lot.

I finished Aliette de Bodard’s In the Vanishers’ Palace. Yên, a failed scholar, is sold into the indenture of Vu Côn, one of the last dragons, to pay her village’s debts. The dragon takes her to a reality-bending palace, where death waits around every tessered corner. Yên expects to be killed, but Vu Côn makes her teacher of her twin children. Another surprise: Yên begins to have feelings for Vu Côn.

The Wild Wood by Charles de Lint was another short read. It was originally published in 1994 when concern for the environment wasn’t so much a part of our daily lives. The author even composed an introduction to this anniversary edition in which he apologizes for the overt “we have to care for our environment” vibe. Eithne is an artist who lives near a marsh and forest just outside of Ottawa. When faerie begin to appear in her artwork and dreams asking for help, she has to decide whether her desire to help is worth the sacrifice she’s been asked to make.

Then, I dove into Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower by Tamsyn Muir. It’s a delightful, queer riff on the Rapunzel fairy tale. The witch who traps Floralinda is overzealous. And very experienced. She traps princesses all the time, but artistry is her thing. In Floralinda’s tower, there’s a different monster on every floor, starting with a diamond-scaled dragon. In the first months of her imprisonment, hundreds of princes try to rescue her … and the dragon is very well fed. As summer turns to fall and winter threatens, Floralinda decides she has to rescue herself. LOVED!

I read “Seasons of Glass and Iron” by Amal El Mohtar, a shot story from The Starlit Wood anthology of fairy tale retellings. A woman cursed to walk until she wears out seven pairs of iron shoes meets a woman who volunteered to be sealed away in a glass cage. A lovely, sapphic tale of two women discovering how they misogyny of their loved ones has caused them to suffer and the freedom they find when they choose one another.

Next (I did warn you—I read a lot this month), I read Bryony and Roses by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon). A lovely retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Gardener Bryony and her beleaguered pony Fumblefoot are caught in a blizzard on the way back from getting rutabaga seeds. As she begins to lose the feeling in her extremities, Bryony finds a mysterious estate. The estate is sentient, and the beast is in trouble. Fabulous.

Then, I read The King of Elfland’s Daughter, by Lord Dunsany. A prince wins the hand of the king of Elfland’s daughter. They have a child, but the king misses his daughter and lures her back to Elfland where she pines for her husband and son. So, the prince, now a king, goes in search of Elfland to retrieve his bride, while his son, who hears the horns of Elfland, but does not heed their call, hunts unicorns with trolls and will ‘o’ wisps. Happily ever after isn’t … until the king makes a sacrifice that will change both the Kingdom of Erl and Elfland forever.

Finally, on May 31st, I finished Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. A novel and a movie are necessarily two different things, but, with the exception of a few details, which the author is careful to note in his foreword, the novel evoked Kubrick’s movie quite well.

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

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

Image of mist and light rising from an open book.
Test: The Next Chapter: A month in the writerly life.

The next chapter: April 2023 update

Welcome to the first next chapter, back in its monthly format. This means it will be epic. Sorry, not sorry.

The month in writing

I’ve had to completely revamp my annual plan. Well, not completely, but mostly 🙂

My original plan had been to finish mapping out Alice in Thunderland in January and finish the first draft in February and March while continuing to work with Suzy on Reality Bomb. But a budget situation at work and the attendant loss of income meant I couldn’t continue working with Suzy. We parted ways at the end of January.

I then thought I’d continue working on my own and sign up again once my position and salary had been restored, but Phil had his accident (on Valentine’s Day, I’ll remind you), and all writing work was suspended until such time as he recovered.

In the interim, I got the hare-brained idea to start applying for grants. All of them.

Now that Phil’s recovered, I’ve committed to …

  1. Finish my #ActuallyAutistic Author presentation script and resources,
  2. Revise my poetry manuscript from now through June (in progress),
  3. Write a creative non-fiction (CNF) piece for a call due in early May (in progress),
  4. Work on another CNF piece,
  5. Revise a short story for an anthology call later in May (started),
  6. Start working with Suzy again (come hell or high water, as they say),
  7. Revise another short story for a potential project,
  8. Apply for more grants in May and June (working on one, now),
  9. Deliver my #AAA presentation in June or July,
  10. Revise yet another short story for future submission,
  11. Revamp my web site (some of it’s already done—just bits and pieces left),
  12. Work on new poetry,
  13. Work on a CNF project,
  14. Start work on my new fiction project in September, and
  15. Apply for more grants, September through November.

You can see why I’ve decided to cut back on blogging in the interim.

Alice is taking a back seat, for now. I think it was a good project, but I don’t have the head space or energy to get back to it right now. I do have the outline finished and a solid idea of where I need to head when I do get back to revisions. So, it’s in a good place.

That was the only big change from my original plan, aside from pushing out some timelines because life is what happens when you may other any plans.

So far, the experiment in rearranging my creative life (i.e., giving up curation and returning to monthly updates) seems to be working. I’m a lot less stressed out, that’s for sure. Or I was.

Just gonna let the Excel speak for itself.

Unfortunately, the universe couldn’t take it easy on me. An added stress is that a general strike was called on April 19, 2023. I’m showing up and showing solidarity, but the first day was bitterly cold and I had to take a nap after I got home (which I never do) to warm up and recover. Subsequent days weren’t any easier, though I planned a bit better each day.

My executive function is definitely compromised. Meltdowns each morning, naps most afternoons, and I’m having trouble functioning on any level. At least I didn’t have to picket on the weekends. As of today (April 30, 2023) there’s a new offer on the table, but I haven’t heard anything yet. I expect we’ll be back on the picket line tomorrow.

In other developments, I’ll be one of three judges for the K. Valerie Connor Memorial Poetry Celebration contest held by the Leacock Museum in Orillia this year. I’m honoured to have been considered.

I received another bit of amazing (ah-MA-zing!) news this morning, but I’ll have to wait a bit before I make that announcement. Stay tuned! And yes, I’m a tease.

Filling the well

Just picking up from where I left off in my next chapter weekly updates. I’m not recapping the whole month (!) As you’ll see, it’s been a month FULL of events.

I attended the online book launch for Fonda Lee’s The Untethered Sky on April 10th. A great conversation between Fonda and Andrea Stewart about all aspects of the creative process.

I had signed up for a FOLD Academy webinar with Liselle Sambury on April 8th, but was unable to watch it live, because recovery. I watched the replay once it was posted to their YouTube channel. It’s an interesting method, and Sambury offered a lot of alternatives for outlining and tracking your novel.

I signed up for an Authors Publish webinar on a new (to me) poetry form, the zuihitsu, with Eugenia Leigh. Because it was held during the workday, I watched the replay. Zuihitsu is a fascinating form, but I don’t know if I could manage the consciously disordered nature of a zuihitsu collection. It does track with some of the ideas I’m hoping to play with poetically, though. We’ll see where it leads.

I met with my poetry editor, Tanis MacDonald, on the 12th. It was less fraught than I thought it would be (and that would have been on me—Tanis was lovely). Now I have my marching orders and some work to do 🙂

I attended the Writing Success Series Discovery Night on April 13th. I’ve signed up for the Donald Maass six-webinar package and will return for individual sessions by Eric Maisel, Janice Hardy, Tiffany Yates Martin, and Beth Baranay.

I signed up for another Dan Blank webinar about defining your identity and creative voice on April 14th. Again, because it was during the workday, I watched the replay. Dan has a lot of good information about how to engage with social media on your terms and it all begins with defining your identity and creative voice.

On April 15th, my friend and former poet laureate of Sudbury, Vera Constantineau, launched her poetry collection. Enlightened by Defilement is a collection of haibun inspired by the 108 defilements of Buddhism. It was a lovely afternoon at the Hilton Garden Inn, good food, and a lot of familiar faces that I haven’t seen in a while 🙂

That was a big week of writing-related events, I realized, and dialled it back a bit. Yeah, all of the above was in one week. I might have overdone things a bit.

Just four more writing-related events in the month.

I purchased a Rambo Academy webinar on revision that I could watch at my leisure, which I did.

I attended Mary Robinette Kowal’s Barriers to Writing webinar on Sunday, April 23. It was extremely helpful in a few different ways.

Finally, I registered for a TWUC webinar on marketing and self-promotion presented by Rod Carley and Ali Bryan, which I also watched in replay. With my debut poetry collection coming up next year, it was very helpful!

I almost forgot! The FOLD started on April 30th, but as the bulk of the event is in May, I’ll leave the details until next month’s update.

In the self-care department, I had an appointment with my doctor because of a bump on the inside of my wrist. It’s a ganglion cyst and nothing to worry about unless it gets bigger and/or starts causing pain or impeding my range of motion. Something to monitor for now.

Phil had another physio appointment and an appointment with an endocrinologist for his type II diabetes. Unfortunately, the diabetic clinic is being shut down. It’s disappointing because he was finally getting the treatment and support he needed. And then his appointment with the endocrinologist was cancelled. Super frustrating.

I took Torvi to the vet for her annual exam and flea/tic/worm medication. An expensive trip, but she was her crazy, adorable self for Dr. Andrews, and she’ll be protected for the coming year.

What I’m watching and reading

I finished watching The Witcher: Blood Origin (Netflix). An interesting origin story for the witchers, with great characters, fight scenes, and a tie-in to the main series. Also, it was only four episodes, so it didn’t have time to fall prey to some of the gaffs other series suffer from.

Next, I watched The Wonder (Netflix), based on the novel of the same name by Emma Donoghue. Mystery and pathos. Lib Wright is a nurse who is called upon, with a nun, to perform a 14-day watch on a girl is a small Irish village who hasn’t eaten in four months. Ah, my heart.

I finished watching the first season of The Peripheral (Amazon). Bizarre and brain-twisty, but I loved it. Virtual reality isn’t just VR. It’s time travel and the creation of alternate realities called stubs. A VR gamer and her ex-military brother are inducted into a program with new technology, and a whole new world of complex future and present political and corporate intrigue changes their lives.

I also finished off the first season of Extraordinary (Disney +). In a world where most people develop powers (some of which are bizarre, and others, totally useless), protagonist Jen is powerless. She’s also a horrible person who has no money to pay for the expensive treatment that could rectify the situation. Growth happens. British series. British humour.

Then, I watched Ghosted (Apple +). It was the fun escape I needed after three days of picketing. Lots of cameos by popular action actors. I was laughing out loud. It might have been the dysregulation, but I enjoyed it. There was some problematic content, though, like the white male protagonist getting all stalkery (repeated texts, tracking her, a surprise trip to see her) on his love interest after she apparently ghosts him. Unfortunately, the stalking is critical to the plot. Like, there would be none without his intrusive and unwanted behaviour.

In reading, I finished T.J. Klune’s Wolfsong. The protagonist, Oxnard, or Ox is clearly autistic coded. And bisexual (pan?). I loved the book for that alone, but it was a love story between a human boy and his wolf pack. Correction, packs. There are some explicit sex scenes if you’re not into that kind of thing. My heart (again)!

Then, I finished The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michelle Richardson. A fascinating historical fiction based on true events. Look up the blue people. They were an actual thing. And the packhorse librarians. Loved it!

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

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

The next chapter weekly: April 2-8, 2023

Welcome to week 14, and, sadly, the last next chapter weekly for a while (see below). I’ve enjoyed this experiment and think I’ll return to it when I have more time or more spoons or what have you.

An image of The Moon tarot card.

From the tarot this week, I drew The Moon, which represents dreams, mystery, deception, illusion, fears, and the unknown. Something is not what it seems. So, am I delusional to think I’ll be able to devote more time to my writing and make significant progress toward my goals? I don’t know.

I’d like to hang my hat on the dreams alone, because dreams (the ones you have when you’re asleep) are cool, and aspirations (the dreams you have when you’re conscious) are a motivating force.

An image of The Mound of Wonders card from the Shaman's Pack.

From the Shaman’s pack I drew The Mound of Wonders, which represents the empowerment of earth. So, a faery mound. There’s another tale from the Mabinogion about when Pwyll met Rhiannon—you guessed it—at a faery mound. This card seems to be more about elemental power rather than mythic significance. And that’s fine because I love me some elemental magic. Earth is a good place to start, with grounding and steadfast intention.

This week also saw the Pink full moon in Libra on the 6th. That was the night the graupel (I’ve been calling it gropel—yeesh) started, and it was overcast. She’s been out the nights since and has been glorious. I formulated my full moon release and did a guided meditation.

The week in writing

Just blogging again.

I wrote 1,954 words for the week, and 2,535 words for April so far.

A screenshot of an Excel sheet showing writing progress of 2,535 words for April 1 to 8, 2023.

Last weekend, Pulp Literature did the cover reveal for issue 38, and—my name’s on the cover! First time ever! Eeeee! And the cover is gorgeous, am I right?

An image of the cover of Pulp Literature 38, spring 2023.

Early in the week, I emailed my poetry editor, Tanis MacDonald, and work will begin on my poetry collection, verra soon.

I got my first Canada Council Grant application submitted! I have no idea how any of these grants will work out. Will wait and see and report back when I have something to report.

I’ve given some thought to what I’m going to do with blogging and social media now that work on my poetry manuscript will be starting and my work with Suzy will be resuming. Rather than a complete hiatus, I’m thinking of something more strategic.

I’ll be giving up curation for the foreseeable and moving these next chapter updates to monthly ones again. So, no weekly tarot draws or other paganish stuff. I’ll still do that for myself, but I won’t be sharing it.

As I mentioned off the top, I’ll probably return to the weekly format at some point, but something else has got to give before that happens. Phil is mostly recovered now and has resumed most of the household responsibilities. This frees up some time, but I’m still working full time, and I only have so much vacation.

Something Phil’s accident and recovery has taught me is that I can’t do it all.

Curation isn’t a burden, per se, but it does take up a good chunk of time that I could be using to write or revise, or really, do anything creative. And there are others out there who are doing a more comprehensive job, like Elizabeth Spann Craig with her Twitterific links.

I also remember how much I enjoy my curation breaks for NaNoWriMo. Not having to do curation has actually made it possible for me to do NaNoWriMo in past years, in any capacity.

I’m going to use the break to rework my website. I have to update some pictures and messaging, redo the header to reflect my more recent publications. I have some decisions to make, as well. The site might become more static, especially if I turn my next chapter updates into a newsletter.

I won’t be as active on Twitter. Not that I was very active before. Other than my blog, the two main places you’ll find me will be on Facebook (just my personal account—I don’t intend to make an author page) and Instagram, where I post all my pictures. I may try doing more on Insta, but not right now.

Again, all these activities cost time and energy, and I only have so much of those, less as each year passes. If anything, I’m my autistic traits are becoming more prominent as I age, not less.

Filling the well

On Tuesday, I attended another TWUC Ontario Region Open Mic. Heard some poetry and some short fiction. It was nice to sit back and enjoy the work of other writers.

On Wednesday, the Sudbury Writers’ Guild Poetry Inner Circle brought in the lovely Tanis MacDonald (yes, my poetry editor) for a brief poetry workshop. Useful tools were shared. I’m sure I’ll be using some of them in the coming months 🙂

I also took Torvi for her grooming last Sunday, and Phil to his next physio appointment on Monday. He’s now starting strength training and his traumatized muscles are sore.

What I’m watching and reading

Phil and I finished watching the second season of Shadow and Bone. Neither of us enjoyed it as much as the first. Again, combining two book series that were never intended to happen at the same time means that each episode is packed with so many things happening, the show seems to hurtle toward its conclusion in a frenzy. And now it looks like they’re adding in the King of Scars duology as well. They’ve also had to make significant departures from the books and move events around. It’s really its own thing now and can’t be compared to the books that were its inspiration. It’s not bad, but I’m nervous about what future seasons will look like.

I watched the end of the first season of the new Quantum Leap. I like it. Ben Song is another kind, gentle soul who just wants to help everyone. I think the season finale ended the way it did in case it’s not renewed. We don’t know who’s coming back. So, they could move in either direction, or even bring Scott Bakula back for a limited run. They’ve made it very clear (repeatedly) that Sam never returned. Maybe part of Ben Song’s plan was to make it possible for Sam to stop leaping. I’ll watch the next season. If it’s renewed.

In reading, I finished Guy Gavriel Kay’s All the Seas of the World. It’s a sequel to A Brightness Long Ago and features many of the same characters. What can I say? Kay’s another author I’m completely unobjective about. I’ll read everything he writes, and I’ll love it.

I also finished reading K.M. Weiland’s latest writing craft book, Writing Archetypal Character Arcs. I’ve posted my review. Unsurprisingly, I loved it. This is a reference every writer should have on their desk. In print.

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

Until next tipsday (which will be the last for a while), be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

A hand holds a book with mystical energy floating up from it.
The next chapter.
A month in the writerly life.

The next chapter weekly: March 26-April 1, 2023

It’s lucky week 13, finishing off March and ending with April Fool’s Day. Which I don’t observe. I’ve never enjoyed practical jokes. Now that I know I’m autistic, this isn’t surprising.

From the tarot, I drew the Hanged Man, which represents ordeal, introspection, fate, acceptance, momento mori, stoicism, and stagnation. Well, I’ve certainly undergone an ordeal, but I’m on the other side of it, emerging from the overwhelm of work and household responsibilities. I have accepted it, but I haven’t been particularly stoic about it. I’m certainly not stagnating. So, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Not too sure what it means. More changes coming?

From the Shaman’s pack, I drew the Mother, who is Modron (literally Mother). Once again, from the tale of Culhwch and Olwen and the search for Mabon (the child of Modron). This card represents conception. When contemplating new projects, she can provide wise and loving advice. Well, there’s a lot of contemplation happening, and new projects are on the horizon.

The week in writing

Once again, just blogging. And grant applications (which I’m not tracking).

I wrote 1,306 words for the week and 7,084 words for March, total. That’s 109% of my goal. I wrote 581 words on April 1st, essentially this update. And again, the week’s visual tracking is broken into two parts.

I submitted my application for the Access Copyright Foundation’s Professional Development Grant on the 29th! Two down. Two to go (one due in the coming week and one in May).

Filling the well

I finished out the Perfect your Process Summit on Sunday and Monday. It’s usually a good variety of presenters.

I took Phil to his appointment with Dr. Vokey on Friday. The bone is healed! All that’s left is the soft tissue damage, which always take a long time. Phil’s resuming most of his former responsibilities around the house, but he can’t lift heave things yet, so laundry, shopping, etc. are still my responsibility.

What I’m watching and reading

I finished watching RRR. It took me three days with the run-time of 3 hrs 5 minutes. It was an epic tale. A young girl named Malli is abducted by the governor’s wife, and her village’s protector, Bheem, goes to Deli to rescue her. While there, he helps a man named Ram rescue a boy and the two become friends. Bheem is unaware that Ram is the police officer assigned to find and stop him from returning Malli to her village.

That’s just the set up. There are Bollywood numbers, romance, bromance, and tragedy. The fight scenes are over-the-top. Wild animals as distraction! Ram on Bheem’s shoulders, fighting as one! Ram dressed as Arjuna! The two men taking down an army of special forces and then destroying an entire compound!

So. Much. FUN!!

I read Annalee Newitz’s The Future of Another Timeline. A timely (sorry, not sorry) novel about an alternate world in which abortion was never made legal and reproductive rights are severely restricted. In the future, women called Queens have their hands amputated so they can focus on procreation.

But in this alternate reality, there are time machines that were discovered in the Earth. A whole new field of study, chronogeology opens up, and the protagonist wants to edit the past to make a better world. Compelling.

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

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

The next chapter weekly: March 19-25, 2023

It’s week 12 already?! Holy cow! Spring has sprung and I’m feeling good 🙂

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 90

From the tarot this week, I drew the eight of cups, which represents abandonment, withdrawal, and escapism. It’s kind of a negative card, but I’m thinking of it in a positive way. Specifically, this is about my purposeful and temporary abandonment of my writing while Phil recovers.

My creativity will out in weird ways, though. I’m working on grant applications and still playing around with my presentation for the SF Canada & Canadian Authors webinar.

From the Shaman’s pack, I drew The Inworld, which is the Third Circle, or Anwwn, the underworld. If you remember, I drew the Circle of Nine, or the Second Circle last week, and Arawn, the Lord of the Underworld the week before. It seems to be a thematic sequence. The Inworld represents accessing the wisdom of the ancestors.

This is interesting, because the third grant I’m applying for will be for a new project which will involve research into Finnish pre-Christian spirituality and history. Maybe my Finnish ancestors will have some wisdom for me.

The week also saw the spring equinox on Monday. I lit up my altar to welcome spring.

On Tuesday, it was the new moon, and I took some time to set my intentions for the next lunar cycle.

The week in writing

Once again, it’s just blogging. I’m not tracking the grant applications or the presentation.

I blogged 1,824 words for the week and 6,359 words for the month to date.

Work on the grant applications is going slow. I think I’m just intimidated. But … the CSFFA grant application is sent, for better or worse. One down. Two to go!

The presentation has taken a back seat while I focus on grants.

Another piece of excellent news: I was accepted into the SFWA as an associate member! Whee!

Thinking of something radical: a blogging and social media sabbatical while I work on revisions for my poetry collection and on Reality Bomb. It might mean several months (like five or six) incommunicado, but I think it’s what I have to do if I really want to get some work done.

Will keep you apprised as things develop.

Filling the well

This week, I registered for a Tiffany Yates Martin webinar through Jane Friedman on mastering point of view. I watched the replay. Tiffany is an amazing instructor and I always learn a lot from her.

I also signed up for an Authors Publish webinar with Book Publicist Isabella Nugent on setting yourself up for success. Again, I watched the replay.

Finally, I signed up for Daniel David Wallace event about perfecting your process. It runs from the 24th to the 27th, so I’ll be mentioning it again next week.

I took the week off work (vacation planned, prior to Phil’s accident) so I could rest and observe both the equinox and the new moon as my pagan heart desires.

I also wanted to accomplish a couple of things, just for me, this week. I wanted to gather all our tax info and send it to our accountant (done!). And I wanted to spring clean my office (also done!). It’s been a while and I decided I wanted to reorganize my bookshelves, cull some outdated filing, and generally tidy up the space. It’s been good for me, getting ready to dive back into writing in a more serious way when Phil’s shoulder is healed.

I had a blissful massage on Tuesday. My parasympathetic nervous system activated, and I got into “rest and digest” mode 🙂 And yes, that means my stomach was growling like ten.

Phil’s also feeling recovered enough that he’s cooking again! Physio is going well, and he’s found a position to sleep in that allows him to get a full night’s rest. He still can’t lift or push anything, though, so I’m still doing the groceries (with him, though, for the most part), laundry, clearing the steps of snow, taking the dog out (she pulls), etc., but progress is being made 🙂

On Wednesday, he went for a walk. On Thursday, he went for a drive. There’s still some awkwardness associated with that activity. He can’t reach with his left arm to turn on the headlights or the turn signal, but he can reach over with his right to flip the switches. He has an appointment with the doctor next Friday (March 31st), so we’ll find out more then.

What I’m watching and reading

I didn’t finish watching any series or watch any movies this week. Well, I started watching RRR, but the three hour and five minute run time meant I couldn’t finish it in a single sitting.

I read Ada Hoffman’s The Outside. I’ve had Ada’s work on my radar for a while because she’s another #actuallyautistic author. Her novel features autistic characters in a world that, while not built for them, willingly makes accommodations for them, and accepts them as part of society. There are still misunderstandings, but it’s a better world than the one we have.

The story’s good, too. Humanity has colonized the galaxy, but AI has become sentient, and something called the Morlock War has Ais installed as gods with cyborg angels doing their bidding. Outside the galaxy, the titular Outside, is heretical, and the god Nemesis has chosen to bring all heretics to justice.

In this milieu, Yasira Shien, a highly intelligent autistic, has completed her doctorate and created a revolutionary reactor that promises to provide for all the energy needs of a new space station, the Pride of Jai, which orbits her homeworld. But something goes wrong, and the reactor sets off some Outside cascade, which consumes the Pride of Jai and 100 of its crew. Yasira is now a heretic and at the mercy of Nemesis and her angels. If she’ll help them track down her mentor, Dr. Evianna Talirr, an even worse heretic, she might be shown mercy.

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

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

The next chapter weekly: March 12-18, 2023

It’s week 11! Spring is just around the corner, and it really feels like it. More mild days of melting snowbanks and mixed precipitation that’s more rain than snow. We may not see the snow plough again this year. Crossing fingers, knocking on wood, and all that jazz.

Onto the esoterica!

From the tarot, I drew The Lovers. The Lovers represents relationship, choice, perpetual bond, cooperation, love versus infatuation, and trust. This very much where my head is at these days. I’ve settled into a kind of new normal, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of Phil as he continues to heal.

With regard to that, there’s good news and bad news. Thanks to an online search, Phil’s finally found a comfortable way to sleep in the bed that supports his arm and shoulder. So long, La-Z-Boy! He’s also been helping some with meals and even coming in for hugs (!) I’m gentle. The exercises from physio are helping, as well. He’s got a new set to add to what he’s already doing.

The bad news? Those same hospital web sites advised that it could be up to 18 MONTHS for him to fully heal, and even then, he might not have full range of motion. We’re thinking that the 18 months is for the soft tissue damage associated with the break, though, rather than the break itself.

I’m sure he’ll be nominally functional by mid-May. If not earlier.

And here’s a retcon. What I’ve been calling the Celtic oracle is actually the Shaman’s Pack. Oops. This week, I pulled the Circle of Nine. The Circle of Nine represents the second circle. It’s a veilish place where the mundane world yields a portal to elsewhere. The key word is experience.

Sorry about the lighting ….

Do I have enough experience to cross over and surrender to the other world? I don’t know, but it’s nice to have the opportunity presented, even if I ultimately decide to decline. Yaknow, due to life stuff.

The week in writing

Again, it was just blogging for the week. I did a little work on my presentation, but I’m not tracking that.

I blogged 1,875 words for the week and 4,535 words for the month to date.

My early-bird application for Your Personal Odyssey was rejected again. Though I’m still in the running for the remaining spots, I’m not hopeful. Once again, they’ve been inundated with applications. It’s their most popular program yet, I think.

But … my applicant profile to the Canada Council for the Arts, which I submitted on Sunday, was approved! I’ll be focusing for the remainder of the month on submitting a few grant applications.

The first will be to the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (CSFFA AKA the Aurora Awards). They have a professional development grant, and the application seems fairly straightforward. That deadline is March 31st. The next will be to the Access Copyright Foundation also for a professional development grant (due April 1st) and the third (and more intimidating, TBH) will be an Explore and Create grant from the CCA, due April 5th. It will be my first attempt at all three, so I don’t anticipate success, but you can’t win if you don’t play, and the experience will be worthwhile. I’ll have documentation I can use for future applications, even if I have to change out the specific details.

Next month, I’ll be shifting gears for the next Ontario Arts Council Northern Arts Grant, due May 2nd.

Maybe this is the new world I’m entering? The next phase of professional writing life?

I’ve been thinking that if my webinar goes well, of starting up a podcast about neurodivergent creatives (which may be the focus for a future grant application).

Yeah … maybe this is a new world I’m entering. Frightening, yet exciting.

Filling the well

I had no writerly events scheduled this week but did watch the replay of Dan Blank’s Find Your Ideal Audience, which I signed up for last Friday. I try to keep at least one toe in the social media/marketing/promotion pool 🙂

I had a dentist’s appointment and had a very thorough cleaning of my teeth.

And I took Phil to his physio appointment on Friday. Progress is being made. The physiotherapist and Phil are very pleased.

What I’m watching and reading

I finished watching The Flash, season 8 (Netflix). This poor show. It long ago jumped the shark (which is sad because the actors are good) and nearly every season treads familiar ground. Season 9 episodes are already populating. Fortunately, there are only 13. The completionist in me wants to see this thing through. If you want a thorough critique, I’ll refer you to Friendly Space Ninja’s analysis of the series 🙂

I also watched the last episode of season 1 of The Last of Us (HBO). I haven’t played the game and honestly don’t want to. The series was great, though. I love Bella Ramsey as Ellie and Pedro Pascale as Joel. There’s a lot of tragedy and a lot of violence, but there’s also a lot of pathos. Loved.

Then, I finished watching the third and last (ever—the series has been cancelled) season of Pennyworth (HBO/network). As bloody and wacky as ever, but the series ends on a weird cliffhanger. Alfie’s about to say “I do” to Sandra after the main cast and a group of PWEs (read enhanced—this is DC) have escaped a London gone mad on milk laced with Lullaby (a psychoactive drug with murderous side effects) when a mushroom cloud erupts in the distance. The Waynes have one child at this point. A girl. Where’s Bruce? And I don’t remember Batman having a sister ….

Next, Phil and I finished watching the second and last season of Carnival Row (Amazon). It was clear they changed tack partway through the season, eliminating the political thread in a bloody massacre. Vignette can’t decide what she wants, a life with the Ravens, with Philo, or with Tourmeline. Philo almost gets himself killed every other episode. And our runaway lovebirds are quickly corralled by a revolutionary group called the New Dawn, which has a nefarious plan that fizzles in the final episode when the main agitator kills herself rather than be taken into custody. It was all very rushed. They probably could have used a few more seasons to tell the various stories properly, but they did manage to tie things up in the end. More or less ….

Finally, I watch Three Thousand Years of Longing (Amazon). Based on A.S. Byatt’s short story collection, The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, the movie focuses on a narratologist, Alithea Binnie, who releases a djinn from a bottle and resists the temptation to make her wishes because every wish tale is a cautionary one. Beautiful, lush, and emotionally devastating. It’s too bad it didn’t do better in NA theatres. Loved!

In books, I finished Simon Sinek’s Start with Why, a long-ago recommendation from Gabriela Pereira.  Good, but repetitive. The principles can be applied to both my day job and my writing business, as well as the writing itself.

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

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

The next chapter weekly: March 5-11, 2023

Welcome to week ten of 2023! Yes, I’m going to keep counting them. I hope you’re enjoying these #actuallyautistic, paganish author-in-progress check-ins.

This week, I drew The World card from the tarot. This card represents realization, triumph, closure, attainment, reward, and fulfillment. Seems an odd card to be pulling now, when I’m consciously uncoupling from my writing to focus on other things.

Maybe that’s the realization. That this pause/retreat/whatever is necessary, and that I will return with renewed fervour when the time comes. I can always hope.

In the Celtic oracle, I pulled The Lord of the Underworld. That’s Arawn. The card represents unpredictability, the cyclical ceding of power, and transformation.

Again, from the Mabinogion, Pwyll enters into an agreement with Arawn to exchange places for a year and fight Arawn’s enemy Hafgan (lord of another underworld kingdom). This battle can be thematically tied to the battle between the Holly and Oak kings at the solstices when they each cede to the other protection of the world for the coming six months.

Arawn, with his antlers and red-eared hounds, is also associated with the Wild Hunt and Herne the Hunter/Cerunos.

So, again, if I’m not misinterpreting, I’m ceding my power (writing) for a season (the 8-12 weeks it will take Phil to heal), and it will be transformative. Gonna try to channel that wild power and see where it takes me.

This week also saw the full worm moon, or the moon of the crusted snow (and boy, is it ever crusted!) in Virgo. Still struggling with sleep hygiene, though I’m generally getting to be by midnight, and I’ve managed 11:30, which is my goal bedtime once or twice. Yay, me! I added to that continued goal the gentle release of my guilt for not writing.

The week in writing

While the only tracked writing I did was on this blog, I did get a couple of projects organized.

I started working on my presentation for SF Canada and Canadian Authors on being The #ActuallyAutistic Author. It won’t be scheduled until sometime in June or July, so I have time. Not much progress yet, but the PowerPoint is started. I have a rough outline that I’m working from. This is something I can do in dribs and drabs.

I also grabbed a bunch of old blog posts and combined them in one document. I’ve been mulling a creative non-fiction/hybrid project (including some poetry) re-envisioning my creative life through the lens of my autism diagnosis. So far, it’s only been copy and paste (copypasta) work, but soon, I might shape it into something a little more robust.

I blogged 1,543 words for the week, and 2,660 words for the month so far.

Filling the well

TWUC held its monthly Ontario open mic night on Tuesday. I didn’t read, but I enjoyed the work of those who did. I may read at a future TWUC open mic. I need to start getting out there again. My debut poetry collection is just over a year from publication (April 2024!).

On Wednesday, SF Canada held its special general meeting (again). This time, we got quorum, and a fifth member of the board was acclaimed. W00t!

I signed up for a Susan DeFreitas webinar, “The Heart of Story,” through Jane Friedman and watched the replay. Excellent, as ever.

On Saturday, I attended a webinar on grant writing with Lindsay Zier-Vogel sponsored by The FOLD Academy. It was awesome. I’m going to be diving into the grant app trenches again shortly.

What I’m watching and reading

My brain is a sieve. Forgot that I’d watched The Shape of Water (Amazon) Saturday last week. It was lovely, every inch of it. I’ve been wanting to watch it for years.

This week, I watched a documentary. Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me (Apple +). She’s lived a fascinating life. Beiber, leukemia (twice), and mental health struggles. It was inspiring to see that she addressed her issues with connection and good works.

I also finished the first season of The Winchesters (network). An interesting look at the origins of John and Mary Winchester and their hunting lives. Love Carlos and Lathika. The big bad of this alternate reality of the Supernatural universe was overpowered, though, and the finale was a little Dean x machina 🙂 but it was enjoyable.

I listened to a fun paranormal romance, Witches Get Stuff Done by Molly Harper (Audible Originals). Light and tropey and a little explicit (for those who might object to such content). The audiobook is a relaxing listen, but it’s not well written …. For example, “I heard the squeak as the ghost silently loosened the screws on the chandelier.” Or the guy hit in the head by said chandelier, blood pooling as he bleeds out, having the wherewithal to speak coherently and throw an important piece of paper into a lit fireplace. I mean, have you ever tried tossing a bit of paper, even folded up, from a prone position? Physics will frustrate the effort. Despite that, it was about the speed of my brain this week, and I enjoyed it.

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

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

The next chapter weekly: Feb 26-March 4, 2023

Greetings, folks! Welcome to March and week nine of 2023 🙂

In the tarot, I drew the six of swords. This card represents journeys, experiences, forgiveness, and optimism. Well, I’m certainly on a journey and hoping for a better place to land in the future.

In the Celtic oracle, I drew the Son. This card represents Mabon. You may remember a few weeks ago, when I drew the Eagle, that Culhwch was tasked with finding Mabon and consulted the eagle on his journey.

Mabon is the eternal child and may mean recapturing my youthful joy and playfulness. It’s something I’ve said I want to do. Can I actually do it?

Something I’ve neglected to mention in past NCW posts was that I’ve been reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (finally). Healing and reconnecting with the artist within, who is a child, plays a big role in TAW.

The week in writing

Once again, it was a “catch as catch can” kind of week. And all I managed this week was blogging.

So, 1,550 words for the week, 6,815 total for February, and 1,117 for March.

I’m settling into the fact that this enforced break could be a good thing for me and my projects. I probably need some time and distance before I dive back in. Yes, I managed to cut a chunk of words a couple days last week, but if I keep exploiting opportunities like this, I may be courting burnout.

It’s one thing to write (or revise) at every opportunity when your life is otherwise uncomplicated. It’s another when you have full time job and caregiver responsibilities at home. I’m going to give myself a break and, hopefully dive back in with energy when the time comes.

It’s not that I’m not thinking about my projects or making notes or dreaming of other things I’d like to do. So, part of me is still very much dwelling in writerland 🙂

Filling the well

While I had nothing scheduled for the week, I finally watched the TWUC tax webinar replay. It will be more useful to me when I have a book (next year … it’s coming …).

And then, on a whim, I signed up for a webinar on writing Native American characters.

Other than that, I was focused on balancing work, caregiving, and self-care. My mother-in-law delivered about a week’s worth of meals from Smith’s. Phil and I enjoyed the fajitas Saturday evening.

I’ve decided that I’m going to stop being stubborn and proud and accept the help people are offering. It will make life easier in the coming weeks.

What I’m watching and reading

I watched the first season of Mayfair Witches (AMC). Honestly, I’m disappointed.

I missed the latest iteration of Interview with a Vampire and was kind of kicking myself, because I’d heard good things about it from various sources. Unfortunately, AMC now has its own streaming service and I’m not subscribing to anything else, nor am I prepared to binge anything (at this point) during a free trial period. So, I didn’t want to miss this next entry into the Immortal Universe storytelling world.

The story wasn’t bad, but Rowan always felt off to me. I’m not sure whether it was the actress or the script, but I just didn’t care about her. On reflection, it may be that the book had a lot of key interiority that the writers couldn’t figure out how to show in a visual format. There’s only so much you can put into dialogue and flashback and otherworldly visions. The rest has to be carried by the actress. Rowan looked continually frightened. Until she wasn’t. And then, I got whiplash from the uncharacteristic changes in the last couple of episodes.

In reading, I finished reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. And yes, I am doing morning pages … just not necessarily in the morning. It depends on the day and what I have to do. I find that I’m already doing or have done a lot of what she recommends.

I also finished Jordan Ifueko’s Raybearer. A girl, raised in isolation, is sent to become one of the crown prince’s council of eleven. But she is bound by her mother’s wish to kill the prince when he anoints her as one of his chosen. Early on, I’ll admit to being irritated with Tarisai, but the story held me long enough for the character to mature and for the story events to carry me through.

Finally, I read Charles Dickens’ The Signalman. It’s a short story (novelette?) and I’ve read it before. I just didn’t remember until I started reading it again 🙂 A solid ghost story about a spectral visitor who foretells train-related deaths.

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

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

The next chapter weekly: Feb 19-25, 2023

Greetings, my writerly friends, and welcome to week eight of 2023 🙂

This week, I again had a repeat pick, this time from the tarot: the king of wands. Just a reminder, then, that this card represents inspiration, charisma, and natural leadership. I chose to focus on the inspiration aspect of the card last time, largely because I don’t think I’m that charismatic, nor do I exhibit natural leadership.

This time around, I think I’ll focus on the imagery in the card, rather than the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck images that I’ve been sharing. The tarot deck I’m using is the Somnia Tarot by Nicholas Bruno. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful deck and I’d rather you check out his work for yourselves.

The card shows a figure draped in white cloth sitting in profile on an austere throne in the dark. The cloth flows out from the figure to cover the floor where a candelabrum, a fallen chandelier, and several candlesticks are lit. There are two more candles at the top of the throne and a sconce extends from the king’s covered face. In the king’s hands is a book and they read by their own light. Haunting image.

It speaks to me, though. I’m in a place where, though my mind is still brimming with ideas and I have the sincere desire to write, life circumstances leave no room for creative pursuits.

I’ll have to keep my candles lit until Phil’s recovered.

cock-eyed again …

The Celtic oracle card I drew was the Boar. Boars are fearsome beasts and Celtic legend is filled hunts for magical boars, and people being killed by boars (I believe Robert Baratheon’s death by boar in GoT was inspired by this tradition).

The sow is associated with the goddess Cerridwen, the Welsh goddess of rebirth, transformation, and inspiration. Her cauldron, Awen, is one of poetic inspiration. She consumed her servant, Gwion Bach, and later birthed him as Taliesin. From the Mabinogion is Hen Wen, the oracular pig, who ate the beech nuts of the tree of wisdom.

Either way, the boar/sow represents power, something I’m in need of, right now.

Monday was the new rowan moon in Pisces. I spent some time on my intentions for the coming weeks. I want to focus on supporting Phil in his recovery and not stress about not being able to write. But … if the opportunity to write presents itself, I want to run with it.

The week in writing

As you might guess, not a lot of writing or revision happened this week. But I did manage to fit some in (!)

I received a kind rejection of one of my stories. Once again, feedback says it reads like the beginning of a longer story. It’s not, though. So, I’ll have to figure out how to tweak it into story shape. I has some ideas 🙂

Here’s how the week went.

On the 22nd and 23rd, I worked on Reality Bomb. I cut another 721 words, bringing the monthly total to -1,049, and the total to date to -1,681. It’s still a far cry from the 24k words I want to cut, but if I keep up in this vein, I should be able to make it 🙂

I also, on the 22nd, finished my freewritten outline for the remainder of Alice in Thunderland. Now I just have to go back and add in the bits and pieces the last four chapters plus epilogue require in my revision notes, and I should be good to go for the writing. If I can make the time.

I had thought that I’d already be writing the last part of Alice by now, but it wasn’t to be, so I eliminated my February writing goal for this project. We’ll see what March brings.

On the blog, I wrote 1,649 words for the week and 6,382 words for the month to date, exceeding my goal of 6,000 words. And there’s still one more tipsday before the month ends.

Filling the well

I didn’t have any writerly events to attend and tried to focus on reinforcing my reserves of energy, creative and otherwise.

I still haven’t watched the replay of the TWUC tax strategies webinar.

I’m just trying to take it easy and keep up with the household chores and errands.

What I’m watching and reading

In the viewing department, I finally finished The Rings of Power (Amazon). I see the criticisms levied against it (harfoots abandoning their people on the road, ill-timed cavalry charges, too obvious Gandalf tease), but I enjoyed it.

Then Phil and I finished season one of Lockwood and Co. (Netflix). An interesting and light YA horror series. A mysterious event in the past has turned the world (or at least the UK) into ghost central and only young people have the gifts to fight them. Most companies are headed by adults, but Lockwood and Co. is an independent, and Lucy, their newest recruit is a star who’s afraid to shine.

Then, I watched The Woman King (Crave). A-MA-zing! Viola Davis was robbed.

Moving on to the week in reading, I read Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Loved! The human race (being the human race) is on the decline. Earth is uninhabitable and off-planet settlements are struggling. In a last-ditch effort to save humanity, several teams travel to candidate planets to terraform them to support the dwindling human race. One ambitious project is seeding new life in the form of chimps (they’re only called monkeys) and a nanovirus intended to bioengineer them into a better version of humans. Only something goes wrong, and the monkeys die, but the nanovirus makes it to the planet and finds the next most intelligent creatures it can. Spiders.

Don’t let that put you off. Tchaikovsky (brilliantly) makes spiders empathetic (!) even though he writes them in omniscient.

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

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

The next chapter weekly: Feb 12-18, 2023

Greetings, all, and welcome to week 7 🙂

This week, I pulled the seven of cups from the tarot. This card represents temptations, choices, or bewilderment. This week, I was supposed to have a poetry reading, and a special general meeting for one of my writing organizations to attend. It was also predicted to be a hectic week at work with a very important project (not mine, thankfully) that had to get done.

I was thinking that I’d have to make some tough decisions and maybe not work on either Reality Bomb or Alice in Thunderland for a couple/three days. Turned out to be more than that due to an unfortunate accident (see below). This was a good reminder to be cognisant of my energy levels and plan accordingly.

In the Celtic oracle, I drew The Bride of the Waters, or Boann, goddess of the Boyne River and or poetry, fertility, and knowledge. You may remember a couple of weeks ago, when I first drew The Father/Dagda, that Boann was his mistress. It was a good omen for the poetry reading.

Here’s a little more information on Boann from the Discover Boyne Valley site.

It’s been a pretty tight grouping of interrelated cards for the past few weeks. Interesting …

So. Before I get to the week in writing, I want to tell you what happened. On Valentine’s Day, Phil slipped on some black ice in the driveway and fractured his shoulder. When he came in and told me what happened, I dissociated and went full on factual Mel. It’s how I handle crises.

I got him to the hospital, he got x-rays, a sling, and a prescription for pain, and an appointment with a specialist on Friday. He’s in a lot of pain and has to sleep (or try to) in our La-Z-boy recliner.

On Friday, the specialist confirmed that we’re doing everything we can. Surgery, thankfully, is not necessary. We’re in a holding pattern for two weeks until he’s reassessed, and physio begins. Six weeks after that, Phil might be in a position to transition back to his regular level of activity.

And he has arthritis in his shoulders, too.

Family has arranged for a snow plough to keep the driveway clear, and everyone has been offering us food. Phil just did a fairly big shop last weekend, so we have food that needs to be cooked and/or eaten first.

So, I’m doing the cleaning and some of the cooking. Phil’s stubborn that way. I’ll also be shopping, running my mom to any appointments she needs to go to, and all that jazz.

Needless to say, I have had to redirect from creative pursuits. It’s just the way it is.

The week in writing

My intention was to proceed with the next chapter/group in RB, but I decided to divert to some work in the map, reworking it to match my revamped chapters so far. I figured it would be easier to work on that periodically and then get back to working of chapter four after the hectic of the week was over.

I managed to get this done on Monday.

The good news is that I don’t have any other events or meetings scheduled for the month. Things should open up after this week.

I also wanted to finish freewriting the last chapter and epilogue for Alice, and then go over what I had and tweak until I was satisfied.

Welp, the work emergency (mentioned above) turned out not to be (an emergency), so that was a relief. But then Phil’s accident turned the rest of the week on its head. I thought I’d picked the wheel of fortune last week!

Here’s how the week turned out.

As I mentioned, I reworked the RB map for the three chapters I’d already rewritten on Monday. But I only worked on RB one day this week, the 14th. And I only got that work done while I was waiting for Phil to be released from the hospital. I reduced a further 38 words on the draft, making the monthly total -328 and the year to date total -960.

I finished freewriting chapter 28 of Alice and moved on to the epilogue (also on Monday), but I haven’t touched it since.

On the blog, I wrote 1,890 words for the week, bringing the monthly total up to 4,733.

Filling the well

I attended a Mary Robinette Kowal webinar on Diagnosing Story Problems on Sunday afternoon. The more I attend her sessions, the more I learn.

As I mentioned off the top, I had a reading on Valentine’s Day, but with Phil’s injury, I had to cancel.

I signed up for a TWUC webinar on Tax strategies for writers but will watch the replay in the future.

And then, I had a special general meeting (SGM) for SF Canada to attend. They were in need of one more board member. As I’m already on one board, I did not put my name forward. We didn’t get quorum, so we’ll be trying again in three weeks, as per the bylaws.

And … I applied for associate membership in the Science Fiction Writers Association (SFWA). It may be up to 30 days for them to assess my qualifications. I’ll get back to you about that.

What I’m watching and reading

I watched The School for Good and Evil (Netflix) on Saturday night. An interesting take on the YA magical school trope. The school teaches heroes to be heroes and villains to be villains, with an eye to maintaining balance. Occasionally readers of fairy tales get thrown into the mix, as is the case with Sophie and Agnes. And of course, there’s something wrong at the school … Entertaining. I enjoyed it.

I have to backtrack a bit for the week in reading. That I forgot I finished reading The Spectral Arctic by Shane McCorristine may tell you something about what I thought about the book. The topic was interesting enough. It’s about how ghosts, dreams, Inuit shaman, remote viewing, and other psychic phenomena played into the search for Franklin’s expedition and shaped the whole tenor of Arctic exploration for ensuing adventurers. But the book was clearly an academic dissertation and while the author included colourful citations from the likes of Charles Dickens and Margaret Atwood, it was … just … boring. Sorry.

Definitely not boring was Luane G. Smith’s The Vine Witch. A sweet paranormal romance about a winemaking witch, who, after freeing herself from a cursed life as a toad, returns to her vineyard to find it sold and the grapes suffering under several vile spells. Multiple mysteries, adventure, and, of course, smoochies.

I also finished my re-read of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys. You already know I loved the book, and the series. I didn’t mark up the book as much as I intended, but I did note some structural and stylistic patterns. It was a rewarding exercise.

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

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