NaNoWriMo 2019 update 2

Week two was a rough one. I struggled, while working, to ramp up my production, but a couple of things happened that pushed me off-course.

The first was that a family member had an operation and is waiting for further test results. We’re all trying not to worry until there’s something to worry about but waiting is the worst. It affected me more than I thought it would.

The second was that former employees and authors of ChiZine Publications spoke out about systemic financial, professional, and personal harassment and abuse. The stories that continue to emerge on social media are horrific and have made it as far as File 770, Publishers Weekly, and the SFWA’s Writer Beware. Though the publisher and managing editor have stepped down, they still own the company. While a statement was released, and a new publisher has taken charge, promising all accounts will be settled by the end of 2019, no apology was made nor was any acknowledgement of the harm done or of trying to make amends other than contractual.

Though I am still trying to process this, I will state categorically that I believe all the testimonies I’ve read. I believe all the victims who have come forward and all the victims who have chosen not to. I know many of them from the SFF community, and I support them unequivocally. I thank those who have come forward for their bravery and hope that justice will ultimately be served for all concerned.

It’s still an unfolding tragedy that is having ripples throughout the Canadian SFF community.

In the midst of this, I was also struggling with story logic issues. I had to work through events in a way that would read well and make sense. That slowed my pace considerably.

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As a result, only yesterday did I approach the daily writing goal for NaNoWriMo, and I’m pleased that I was able to accomplish that. Unfortunately, I will write short for the next couple of days because I have to finish my next DIY MFA column.

I am behind by a considerable margin. I’m not going to stop trying, though.

All this unrest is also why I’m posting this update a day late.

It’s the writer’s life.

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

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NaNoWriMo 2019 update

NaNoWriMoBanner

For the month of November, curation stops (sorry, not sorry). The October next chapter update won’t come out until the first weekend in December. In the meantime, I’ll be writing these wee weekly updates. You won’t see much of me on Twitter. I stop looking at Pinterest or YouTube. I devote as much time as I can to the NaNoWriMo challenge.

Still, the first weekend of November is always tough. Wordstock Sudbury, our local literary festival, takes place this weekend and has for the past several years. I want to participate, support the local arts community, see writerly friends, and fill the well a bit. So, I do.

This year, it was also my 50th birthday, and the party was last night.

Accordingly, I didn’t get much done this weekend. It is what it is. I’ll catch up, or I won’t. Regardless, I’m still giving it my all. Within reason. I’ve often reached the first of December with barely a brain cell to spare. I’d rather not exhaust myself like that if I can help it.

Also, I’ll be working for most of the month and possibly training for the last week of it (and the first week of December). It’s going to be a rough go.

This year, for the first time, I’ll be participating in NaNo as a rebel, rewriting a prior NaNo project, Reality Bomb. I received some difficult-to-hear, but on-point critique of the draft I presented to my online critique group. I’ve spent the last two months reconceiving of the novel in anticipation of rewriting it. I’ve learned enough about my proclivities to know that if I work with the existing text, that I’m hella reluctant to change things significantly. And I have a lot of things to change about this novel.

So, to the word count report:

November 1 – 702 words

November 2 – 295 words

November 3 – 967 words

Total – 1964 words

I hope to make more headway this week.

I’ll check in next Sunday.

Until then, be well, be kind, and stay strong (whether you’re tackling NaNoWriMo or not). The world needs your stories!

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Oct 20-26, 2019

Happy Hallowe’en! It’s all treats and no tricks here—time to get your mental corn popping.

Gideon Lichfield: has Google achieved quantum supremacy? MIT Technology Review

Sarah Todd extols the metaphorical power of NASA’s all-woman space walk. Quartz

Fiona Macdonald: for the first time, scientists have observed a giant magnetic bridge between galaxies. Science Alert

It’s okay to be smart considers what plants might look like on other planets.

Neurologist Caroline Shannon Karasik shares the five things she does to keep her brain healthy. Well and Good

Claire Bugos explains what millions of books have taught us about 200 years of happiness. The Smithsonian Magazine

Hari Sreenivasan: how Sesame Street is still supporting families, 50 years after its debut. PBS

Waylon Lewis: Fuck minimalism. Fuck modernism. Give me joyously cluttered, antique, upcycled, and repurposed. The Elephant Journal

The remnants of Queen Elizabeth I’s sole surviving dress found in rural church. CBC’s “As it Happens.”

Geology In looks at fulgurites: when lightning strikes sand, magic happens. Actually science. Science happens 🙂

Justine Hunter reports: BC introduces legislation to align its laws and policies with the UN Indigenous rights declaration. The Globe and Mail

Kyle Chayka says Iceland’s tourism boom isn’t a boon. Vox

Stephen J. Bronner reports that lab-grown meat can not only fight climate change, but it can also offer other benefits. Inverse

Chelsea Papineau: two white “spirit moose” seen at the side of northern Ontario highway. CTV

Dina Templeton-Raston says that elephants under attack have a new ally in AI. NPR

Tioga takes us inside the mind of a very good boy. Outside Online

Related: Ze Frank offers insight into dogs in therapy.

Thanks for the visit. Hope you found what you need to make your next creative project scary-good!

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

ThoughtyThursday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 20-26, 2019

Counting down to Hallowe’en, NaNoWriMo, and Wordstock Sudbury! Be prepared with this excellent selection of informal writerly learnings 🙂

Jan O’Hara helps you avoid a writing cat-astrophe. Sarah McCoy: confession of a lapsed reader. Heather Webb is writing boldly, without fear. Writer Unboxed

Meg LaTorre catalogues filter words you should remove from your manuscript. iWriterly

Becca Puglisi shows you how to use secondary characters to sway the reader. Eldred Bird explains how to create a multi-use logline. Then, Margie Lawson shows you how to make hugs carry power. Writers in the Storm

K.M. Weiland offers a writer’s guide to understanding people. Helping Writers Become Authors

Bonnie Randall: scaredy-pants! Four breeches—er, breaches—that elicit fear in your characters. Then, Janice Hardy shares two tips that make plotting your novel way easier. Fiction University

Jeanette the Writer shares six things editors want writers to know. Gabriela Pereira interviews Nicole Valentine about pacing, world building, and time travel. Savannah Cordova shares five tips for writing nail-biting suspense. Then, Rayne Lacko offers five ways to write what you want to understand. DIY MFA

Chuck Wendig wants you to find the balance of self-care and tough love. Terribleminds

Chris Winkle: Carnival Row shows us the damage a reveal can do. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five slow story openings and explains how to avoid them. Mythcreants

Jenna Moreci shares ten tips for creating magic systems.

Christina Bacchilega: how mermaid stories illustrate complex truths about being human. Literary Hub

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you found something useful for the busy writing months ahead.

Until next time, be well!

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Oct 13-19, 2019

And now, a small but intriguing set of links to get your mental corn popping.

Brown dwarfs are space’s strangely important oddballs. SciShow Space

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir in all-woman spacewalk. BBC

Eve Conant shows us the best and worst countries to be a woman. National Geographic

The discovery of homo naledi changes the human story. It’s okay to be smart

Diana Beresford-Kroeger says trees hold the answers to many of life’s problems. The Globe and Mail

Jessica Stewart: the largest eagles in the world have talons bigger than bear claws. My Modern Met

Cecelia Rodriguez shares 20 outstanding wildlife photographer of the year 2019 images. Forbes

True Facts about the sand bubbler crab. Ze Frank

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found something entertaining or interesting to fuel your next creative project.

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

ThoughtyThursday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 13-19, 2019

Another week, another batch of informal writerly learnings. Enjoy!

K.M. Weiland: this is how to transform infodumps into exciting plot reveals. Helping Writers Become Authors

Roz Morris considers what your readers will never notice (and what they will) … a brief point about reader belief and story logic. Nail Your Novel

Dave King talks gatekeepers. Kathleen McCleary: the books that get people talking. Tiffany Yates Martin explains how to train your editor brain. Writer Unboxed

Shaelin Bishop shares seven of her favourite writing tools.

Ethan Ellenberg gives authors the big picture on intellectual property. Jane Friedman

Angela Ackerman lays out the free and paid story feedback options for authors. Later in the week, Savannah Cordova from Reedsy visits: what can the best metaphors in literature teach us about writing? Writers Helping Writers

Abigail K. Perry looks at James Scott Bell’s signpost scene 12: the Q factor. Brenda Joyce Patterson takes a deep dive into novellas and novelettes. DIY MFA

Julie Glover give us more on plotting, pantsing, and personality type. Writers in the Storm

Jami Gold warns you to watch for redundancy in your story.

Jane Friedman reports on current trends in traditional book publishing.

Chris Winkle shares 18 ways for protagonists to contribute. Mythcreants

The complex problems with mental illness in fiction. *Please be aware that this video essay discusses suicide, self-harm, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other mental health issues. While it’s very well done (in my opinion), the video offers no solutions. If you prefer not to watch, do not click through on this one.* Hello Future Me

Nina Munteanu considers science fiction on water justice and climate change.

Thanks for visiting! I hope you found something to help you progress with your work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well, my writerly friends!

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Oct 6-12, 2019

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

Brené Brown is doubling down on love. A guiding light, this woman.

Shannon Odell looks at your brain on music. Inverse

Sara Barnes shares gravity-defying photos of determined dogs catching Frisbees in mid-air. My Modern Met

Maria Goodavage reports on the tech helping dogs learn to “talk” with humans. Wired

Researchers reveal that losing a dog can be as hard as losing any human loved one. Power of Positivity

Nathaniel Dove: bee populations recovering due to regenerative farming. Global News

Rebecca Seales researches tebori: the eye-watering art that thousands cross the world for. BBC

Lindsay J. Smith: envisioning and designing the floating future. UnDark

Ed Finn: algorithms are redrawing the space for cultural imagination. MIT Press Reader

Rob Stein shares how CRISPR therapy may help treat sickle cell disease. NPR

SciShow Space news reports on how the black hole at the centre of our galaxy “woke up” about 3.5 million years ago and the latest evidence from Cassini about the possibility of life on Enceladus.

Emily Chung announces that Saturn has just beat Jupiter for the title of “moon king” with 20 new moons confirmed. CBC

Thank you for visiting. I hope you found something to fuel your ongoing creative efforts 🙂

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

ThoughtyThursday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 6-12, 2019

This week’s curation of informal writerly learnings for your consideration.

Julie Glover talks plotting, pantsing, and personality type. [Hehe! I was one of the 87 people on FB who responded to Julie’s question 🙂 ] Lisa Hall-Wilson shares four pro tips for writing the emotional journey in deep POV. [I’m participating in Lisa’s five day deep POV challenge!] Writers in the Storm

Jael McHenry considers the novelist’s necessary evils. Jim Dempsey says, writing is a labyrinth of choices. Sarah Callender forgets to remember that writing can be uncomfortable. Kathryn Craft lists 12 signs that you’re afraid of your work in progress. Writer Unboxed

Janice Hardy explains how to ground (and hook) your reader in your opening scene. Then, Janice shares lessons learned from a decade in publishing. Fiction University

Meg La Torre visits Jenna Moreci and explains everything you ever wanted to know about literary agents.

K.M. Weiland issues a challenge to write life-changing fiction. Helping Writers Become Authors

Sacha Black helps you embrace diversity by writing the character you’re afraid to write. Then, Lisa Hall-Wilson explains how to scare your readers using deep point of view. Writers Helping Writers

Emily Wenstrom explains how (and why) to market yourself. Savannah Cordova shares five highly effective ways to reboot your creative system. DIY MFA

Macy Thornhill shares six ways to stay productive in a creative slump. The Creative Penn

Chris Winkle offers some thoughts on reconciling your character’s choices with your plot. Then, Oren Ashkenazi considers five more underutilized settings in speculative fiction. Mythcreants

Sabrina Imbler reports that the Merriam-Webster of medieval Irish has just got a major update. Atlas Obscura

Mental Floss presents 30 Harry Potter word origins 🙂

Joolz looks at English idioms and where they come from. ‘Cause language!

And that was tipsday. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found something useful for your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well, my writerly friends!

Tipsday2019

Book review of The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal

What the publisher says:

TheFatedSkyMary Robinette Kowal continues the grand sweep of alternate history begun in The Calculating Stars, The Fated Sky looks forward to 1961, when mankind is well-established on the moon and looking forward to its next step: journeying to, and eventually colonizing, Mars.

Of course, the noted Lady Astronaut Elma York would like to go, but there’s a lot riding on whoever the International Aerospace Coalition decides to send on this historic—but potentially very dangerous—mission. Could Elma really leave behind her husband and the chance to start a family to spend several years traveling to Mars? And with the Civil Rights movement taking hold all over Earth, will the astronaut pool ever be allowed to catch up, and will these brave men and women of all races be treated equitably when they get there? This gripping look at the real conflicts behind a fantastical space race will put a new spin on our visions of what might have been.

My thoughts:

The Calculating Stars began with the impact of the meteorite. The Fated Sky kicks things into gear with a hostage-taking.

Dr. Elma York, Lady Astronaut and calculator is returning from the moon, a journey that has become routine, when a problem during re-entry sends them off course and into a crash landing. They have to wait for the retrieval crew to find them, but a group of PoC Earth Firsters discover them before the IAC.

Elma manages to diffuse the situation, but the IAC cannot ignore the opportunity to capitalize on the resulting media coverage and places Elma on the first Mars mission, displacing fellow calculator, Helen, who has been training with the rest of the crew for months already.

The rest of the crew resent the substitution and Elma must face the impact her privilege has on the mission. Though she tries to make amends, becoming an ally is not so simple.

Complicating matters, Elma and her husband Nathaniel have to make a decision about their future. If Elma goes to Mars, a round trip that will take years, the chances that they’ll be able to have children upon her return will be greatly reduced. But Mars is Elma’s dream.

Then there’s the Mission’s commander, Stetson Parker, with whom Elma has a complicated history. His misogyny is legendary as is his hatred of Elma. They’ll be in close quarters for the duration of the mission.

And what about Elma’s anxiety? Can she manage it successfully on the journey?

Once they’re underway, though, and beyond the point of return, it becomes apparent that someone is sabotaging the mission.

Kowal has written a wonderful sequel to The Calculating Stars. Her characters continue to be complex and flawed. Even Stetson Parker is not all that he seems. He’s still a horrible person, but he gains dimension. Nathaniel continues to be Elma’s anchor and touchstone and their relationship is an inspiration.

Elma struggles with her limitations and failings, but ultimately, she and her crewmates come together to work the problem and find a solution. Despite the cover, (spoiler warning) Elma doesn’t get to set foot on Mars, but the denouement is no less satisfying for the disappointment.

My rating:

Five out of five stars!

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Sept 29-Oct 5, 2019

A substantial curation of stuff to get your mental corn popping.

Claire Landsbaum interviews Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey on how far #metoo has yet to go. Vanity Fair

Teresa Write and Bob Weber: names of children who died in residential schools released in sombre ceremony. CTV News

Jason Lyons says that to pay attention, the brain uses filters, not a spotlight. Quanta Magazine

Chelsea Wald: why red means red in almost every language. Nautilus

Atossa Araxia Abrahamian says, the dream of open borders is real—in Svalbard. The Nation

Dan Charles: how Penn State is cutting greenhouse gas emissions and saving money. NPR

Brian Fagan recounts the bizarre 77,000-year history of the bed. Quartz

Ian Campbell reports on the continuing outrage that “hallway healthcare” continues at Health Sciences North. CTV News

Ashley Strickland has hope for the first all-female space walk scheduled for later this month. CNN

It’s black hole week on SciShow Space news: is the hypothetical “Planet 9” actually a primordial black hole? And … the assassin black hole (that’s not sinister at all, is it?).

Dr. Becky shares all of the latest discoveries about Jupiter’s aurora that Juno has facilitated. And the outtakes at the end are hilarious 🙂

And Physics Girl gets to see the world’s largest optical lens (going in the LSST).

Brendan I Koerner: how cities reshape the evolutionary path of urban wildlife. Wired

Kelly Richmond-Abdou tells the tale of a couple who spent 20 years replanting a forest for animals to return to. My Modern Met

Mario L. Major reports on the Australian stingless bees building stunning spiral hives (and no one’s quite sure why). Interesting Engineering

Jason Bittel lists five animals with amazing senses. Popular Science

Cats in therapy from the ever entertaining Ze Frank.

Thank you for the visit and I hope you found something to entertain or inspire your next creative project.

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

ThoughtyThursday2019