Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Jan 3-9, 2021

It’s thoughty Thursday! Fortify yourself for the weekend and get your mental corn popping (i.e. get those ideas ping-ponging around inside your skull)!

The Capitol insurrection held me horrified. It still does. And the continued attempts of a certain despot to assail social media to issue a call to arms to disrupt the inauguration have me once again fearing for the future. This is not just America’s problem. It has the potential to disrupt nations across the world.

Katrin Bennhold and Steven Lee Myers report how America’s friends and foes express horror as Capitol attack shakes the world. The New York Times

Aaron Morrison: race double standard clear in rioters’ Capitol insurrection. Associated Press

Todd Richmond and Michael Tarm: no charges for Wisconsin officer who shot Jacob Blake. No justice. Associated Press

Dylan Lovan reports that two police officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death have been fired. Still, no justice. Associated Press

Allison Miller reveals the hidden meaning of a notorious experiment. In a 1961 grant application, filed before the Eichmann trial was in full swing, Milgram “proposed to study the conditions under which compliance with authority could be increased or decreased—knowledge that had obvious military and political applications.” JSTOR Daily

Some good news: Doha Madani reports that the Red Sox hired Bianca Smith for minor league team, the first Black woman to coach in pro baseball. NBC News

Ashawnta Jackson say that when mambo was king, its creators were stereotyped. JSTOR Daily

And all this political and racial injustice while we’re in the midst of a pandemic.

Darren MacDonald: lockdown in northern Ontario to extend until Jan 23rd, but schools reopen Jan 11th. “… the province said the positivity rate for kids aged 12-13 years old increased from 5.44 per cent in late November, early December to nearly 20 per cent in early January.” CTV News

We have to do better, people.

How alchemy led to modern-day chemistry and medicine. SciShow

Gabriella Marchant: Australian “super seaweed” supplement that reduces cattle gas production wins $1million international prize. And … it was discovered by accident (!) Australian Broadcast Corporation

Graham Averill announces that New River Gorge is the US’s newest national park. Outside

Three ways exoplanets rocked planetary science. SciShow Space

Andrew Fazekas lists ten spectacular stargazing events to observe in 2021. National Geographic

Brent Lang: women directed a record number of films in 2020. Variety

Sylvia Poggioli introduces us to the women uncovering the lost works of female Renaissance artists (because, who else?). NPR

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

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

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 3-9, 2021

Welcome to tipsday, your chance to top up on informal writerly learnings.

Janice Hardy shares an easy fix for tighter point of view. Hint: nix those filter words! Fiction University

Greer Macallister offers the gift of critique. How to by way of how not to … Sarah Penner encourages you to rethink resolutions and habits as writers in 2021. Donald Maass: the real vs. the unreal. Nancy Johnson compiles this list of published authors sharing wisdom from their debut journeys. David Corbett: what now, storyteller? Writer Unboxed

The female assassin trope, explained. The Take

K.M. Weiland shares seven lessons learned in 2020. Helping Writers Become Authors

Karen DeBonis shares her writing goal for 2021: let go to love more (AKA, how I stopped worrying and learned to love editing). Janice Hardy offers a different approach to writing success this year (i.e. how dumping self-imposed deadlines can increase productivity). Julie Glover: how much of our real life shows up in our fiction? Writers in the Storm

Emily Zarka introduces us to the Kasogonagá: Sky Deity and Absolute Cutie. Monstrum | PBS Storied

Nathan Bransford explains how to set meaningful goals.

Colleen M. Story explains why writers should take more risks this year. Writers Helping Writers

Victoria R. Girmonde: worldview and the MG/YA genre. Story Grid

The wicked stepmother trope, explained. The Take

Sara Farmer interviews Elizabeth Little. Then, Gabriela Pereira wonders, where do we go from here? DIY MFA

Joe Bunting offers definitions and examples of the six shapes of stores. The Write Practice

Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five popular stories with conflicts that are too difficult. Mythcreants

Ron Friedman: rotating spacecraft and artificial gravity. Sci and Sci-fi

Clair Armitstead provides the 31-day literary diet for January 2021. Sure, we’re half-way through the month already, but who says you have to finish it all in January? Be a rebel. Start now and continue your literary snacking into February! The Guardian

Jesse Wente is reframing Indigenous stories in joy. CBC’s Ideas

Why should you read Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”? – Yen Pham TED-Ed

Kritika Agrawal shares seven fascinating facts about Octavia Butler. Mental Floss

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

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 27, 2020-Jan 2, 2021

It’s time to get your mental corn popping.

The Skimm summarizes the year in racial justice in the US.

Rich McKay reports that an Ohio police officer is fired for fatally shooting an unarmed Black man. The criminal investigation is ongoing. Reuters

It takes a community to eradicate hate | Wale Elegbede TED

Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain Alhathloul sentenced to nearly 6 years in prison. CBC

South Africa surpasses one million infections as cases surge. BBC

Pfizer reports no data to support that a single dose of their vaccine offers protection after 21 days. Axios

Natalie Neysa Alund, Yihyun Jeong, and Brinley Hineman report that Anthony Warner, identified as the bomber, died in the Nashville explosion he set off. The Tennessean

Kelly Boutsalis looks into teaching Indigenous star stories with Wilfred Buck. The Walrus

Doggerland: a real-life Atlantis. SciShow

Why we can’t measure the speed of light. Veritasium

Jess Romeo: you don’t catch colds from being cold! On the persistence of folk belief. JSTOR Daily

Blake Stilwell recounts that time when Jimmy Carter saved Canada from nuclear destruction. We are the Mighty

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

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

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Dec 27, 2020-Jan 2, 2021

Here comes the first tipsday of the new year. Time to indulge in some informal writerly learnings.

Laura Highcove: how your writer’s intuition knows what advice works best for you. Later in the week, Gabriela Pereira interviews Alexandra Monir about the dystopian superhero story. Then, Kim Lozano shares five musts for writing a compelling story beginning. DIY MFA

Princess Weekes: Wonder Woman 1984 was a bitter disappointment. Melina Pendulum

Janice Hardy offers a five-minute fix to jumpstart your scene. Fiction University

Shaelin Bishop offers her advice on how to finish your novel in 2021. Reedsy

Tasha Seegmiller delves into a writer’s authentic self. Then, Fae Rowan offers three words to help you thrive in 2021. Writers in the Storm

The Himbo trope, explained. The Take

The likeable sociopath trope, explained. The Take

Kelsey Allagood: what Gandhi taught me about telling stories that mean something. Later in the week, Jeanne Kisacky shares strategies for restarting a cold project. Writer Unboxed

Shaelin Bishop shares what she learned about writing in 2020. Shaelin Writes

Bunny lists five Arab and Muslim stereotypes to avoid. Mythcreants

All Stories Matter: The Need for Afro-Futurism | Ramatoulie Bobb | TEDxRoyalCentralSchool

Nina Munteanu is embracing the paradox of creative destruction.

Foz Meadows writes a response to Meghan Cox Grudon and the Wall Street Journal. About the classics and teaching them in a modern context. shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows

The Backlisted podcast considers the influence of Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising with Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, co-authors of The Lost Words and The Lost Spells.

Livia Gershon reveals sci-fi pen pals James Tiptree Jr. and Joanna Russ. JSTOR Daily

The Merril Collection, AKA the Spaced-Out Library, is 50! Toronto Public Libraries

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

The next chapter: December 2020 update and year-end review

Here we are, in January 2021. While we may have hoped that our situation changed with the dawning of a new year, this is just not so. Despite the slow distribution of vaccines and lockdowns, we still haven’t seen the impact of holiday gatherings and numbers of infections in hot zones continue to rise. Hospitals in those same hot zones are on the verge of overwhelm. Some have already started to ship non-covid patients to hospitals in less affected areas.

Until we have most of our population vaccinated, which may not be until late summer, or early fall this year, we must continue to wear our masks, wash our hands, maintain physical distance, and avoid gathering outside our households.

Institutionalized racism is still a problem. A HUGE problem. We can’t stop learning how to be good allies, fighting the good fight in whatever ways we can, and working to dismantle racist institutions. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter.

The month in writing

All I did in December is give Reality Bomb another pass, and blog.

With respect to RB, my goal was to cut back to 90k words. I would have accepted 100k words, but I didn’t quite manage it. I did cut almost 15k, ending with 101,024 words. I posted it for my critique group on Christmas Day. I don’t know how much of a gift it will be. We’ll see at the end of February, when critiques are due.

I set my revision goal for 90k words, but ended up with 102,105 words, or 113% of my goal, with the addition of the last three days on the initial revision from November.

In the blogging department, I set my goal at 3,500 words and ended up writing 4,527, or 129% of my goal.

Filling the well

I started off the month with the launch of Stellar Evolutions and a reading of my poem on December 1st. I had three more Free Expressions online workshops, the last class of Writing the Other’s Diverse Narrative Structures, and another Jane Friedman webinar on writing your second draft with Allison K Williams.

The holidays have been quiet. Phil and I only got together with my mom (because she lives alone, she’s part of our household) for Christmas and a couple of other meals. No gifts. No parties. Quiet.

What I’ve been watching and reading

In the viewing department, I finished watching the most recent season of Anne with an E. This takes Anne to her departure for Queen’s university and her confession of love to Gilbert Blythe. I wonder what this means for the Black and Indigenous story lines the writers added into this iteration of the tale.

I also watched the last season of The Order. And it was the last season. Netflix has elected not to renew the series. It was okay. Problems from past seasons cropped up in both plot and in the writing. It wasn’t a must-see, but I wanted to watch it to see what would happen and how conflicts would be developed.

I read four books in December.

Emma Donaghue’s Room was brilliant. Jack’s voice grabs your heart right out of your chest. He’s an innocent in the midst of a horrific situation that he can’t understand. His eventual realization that he’s outgrown Room made me weep.

I finished N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season. Some readers have disliked the mix of second person and first person narratives. I didn’t mind it. In fact, I think the use of second person (you) narratives have frequently been used when the subject has experienced some form or trauma. It is effective.

**SPOILERS**I also figured out that the three main POVs are different parts on one character’s life before it was revealed in the narrative. Again, some readers found this to be a cheat. I enjoyed it. I think The Fifth Season was deserving of its Hugo Award.

Then, I read Sabaa Tahir’s A Sky Beyond the Storm, the finale to her An Ember in the Ashes series. Tahir resolves the seemingly insurmountable problems of her characters cleverly and satisfactorily. It was a good capstone, but I still don’t think it measures up to something like A Song of Fire and Ice (to which An Ember in the Ashes was compared when it debuted).

Finally, I read Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones. Like Room, The Lovely Bones is told from the point of view of an unusual narrator. In this case, it’s Suzie, the dead victim of sexual assault and murder. Suzie watches her friends and family from heaven as they come to terms with her never-solved murder and move on with their lives.

Sebold made a bold choice for her resolution. I kept waiting for someone to find the clues that they were standing right next to. I was disappointed in the fate of the serial killer, but I think that was Sebold’s point. Some things in life don’t turn out the way we hope. You have to accept it and move on. It might have been a little too realistic in these pandemic times. I really liked it, but it wasn’t my favourite read.

I did read 62 books of the 60 that I aimed for, though. That’s nice 🙂

The year in review

At the beginning of 2020, I’d set myself some lofty goals. I wanted to finish my rewrite of RB much earlier in the year, rewrite Marushka, and have the first novel of Ascension ready for rewriting in time for NaNoWriMo. I’d wanted to write some short stories. I’d wanted to get my poetry collection out.

Then the pandemic hit, and I had to shift the goal posts.

I let Ascension slide completely. I didn’t finish the initial rewrite of RB until October. I never got to Marushka. I did write a couple new short stories and even submitted them (to no positive response). I did send out my poetry collection.

My year-end summary sheet looks a little skewed because I didn’t adjust all of my goals from the start of the year.

This year, I’m taking a different approach. Because I’ve just posted RB for its second critique, which won’t be due until Feb 28th, I’ve decided to start off the year slowly. I’m going to work on the outline for my rewrite of Marushka, work on some poetry, send out my poetry collection to another publisher, revise a short story each month January to March, and work on revision notes for other short stories.

I’m going to continue work on Ascension as time allows, which may not be much at all, but it’s still there.

March will be devoted to another revision of RB and preparing my query and synopsis in anticipation of querying starting in April.

In April, I’ll start working on the rewrite of Marushka at a reasonable rate. I don’t anticipate being done before mid-September. If this pans out, I hope to post it for critique at that time and get feedback in time to start on revisions in November.

Then, I don’t know if I’m going to plan on tackling anything else in December.

There will be a lot of stuff that I’m not going to track in terms of word count (poetry collection, querying, outlining, revision notes, Ascension), and if I don’t get everything I want done, I’m not going to panic. The pandemic hasn’t gone anywhere, after all.

I’m taking a more casual outlook on planning than I have in the past.

We’ll see how it works out.

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

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

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 20-26, 2020

It’s New Year’s Eve, the last thought Thursday, and the last curation of the year! This is your last opportunity to get your mental corn popping for 2020.

Chloe Alexander: body cam footage shows officer Jose Santos shooting Joshua Feast. It’s graphic. It’s distressing. This young man did not have to die. KENS5 News

Gregory S. Schneider reports that statue of General Robert E. Lee is removed from US Capitol. The Washington Post

Emmanuel Acho – How to have uncomfortable conversations with your loved ones.

Phoebie Shamiso Chigonde profiles nuclear scientist Senamile Masango. The Weight She Carries

15-year-old Jessica Hyatt, a Black woman chess champion, wins $40k scholarship. Season two of The Queen’s Gambit, anyone? Black News

Elly Belle: how white people can hold each other accountable to stop institutional racism. From last year, but we can’t lose sight of our responsibilities. Teen Vogue

Ryan Patrick Jones: Health Canada approves Moderna covid-19 vaccine. Between Pfizer and Moderna, we should have 1.2 million vaccinations available by Jan 31st. Good news for long-term-care homes, Indigenous populations in remote areas, and the rest of our valiant health care and other front-line workers! CBC 

Jamie Carter explains why 2020’s longest night of the year is special. Forbes

Mistletoe shouldn’t exist. SciShow

Danielle Prohom Olson considers the spirit of winter solstice: doe, a deer, a female deer. Gather Victoria

Dennis Zotigh shares Indigenous winter solstice traditions: a season of storytelling and ceremony. The Smithsonian Magazine

Ask an Elder: winter solstice in the Cree tradition. CBC

Piqsiq melds Inuit throat singing with classic Christmas tunes. CBC

Piqsiq – Coventry Carol

Researchers create entangled photons 100 times more efficiently than previously possible. The goal is to see quantum laptops in the backpack of every child. We’ll see. Phys.org

Chelsea Gohd reports that, following Arecibo’s collapse, China is opening the world’s largest radio telescope to international scientists. Space

Jonathan O’Callaghan and Lee Billings: alien hunters discover mysterious signal from Proxima Centauri. Scientific American

How Joan Feynman demystified auroras. SciShow Space

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupts and earthquake rattles area. CBS News

Barnaby de Hoedt: hemp batteries are better than lithium and graphene. UK Cannabis Social Clubs

Thank you for visiting. I hope you found something to inspire your next creative project.

This weekend, I’ll be assembling my December next chapter update and year-end round up.

Until then, be well and stay safe, and have a happy New Year!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Dec 20-26, 2020

It’s the last tipsday of 2020! Quick, get your informal writerly learnings while they last!

Janice Hardy suggests you try this fun exercise to shake up your muse. Fiction University

How to write descriptively – Nalo Hopkinson. TED-ed

Ellen Buikema explains how she moved from pantser to plantser. Then, Kris Maze shares productivity hacks from bestselling writers. Writers in the Storm

Shaelin Bishop makes a craft video on writing experimental fiction: the unity of form and concept. Shaelin Writes

Kristen Lamb considers amazing grace: what do we do when we’re our own worst critic?

Princess Weekes: is Dune the most important scifi series ever? It’s Lit | PBS Storied

Jeanette the Writer reviews the words that shaped 2020. Jo Wnorowski shares five ways journaling improves your life.  DIY MFA

The Becky trope, explained. The Take

And, the sexy vampire trope, explained. The Take

Chris Winkle lists five ways to build your storytelling muscles. Then, Oren Ashkenazi explains how Interview with a Vampire shows the strengths and weaknesses of adaptation. Mythcreants

Emily Zarka considers the Pontianak, the vengeful, violent, vampiric ghost of southeast Asia. Monstrum | PBS Storied

Waubgeshig Rice: Indigenous identity and the responsibility of telling stories. Open Book

Thanks for visiting and I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 13-19, 2020

It’s Thursday (or Friday eve)! It’s also Christmas Eve. You know what that means. It’s time to open some virtual presents and get your mental corn popping.

Isaac Abrak and David McKenzie report on the more than 300 students still unaccounted for after Nigerian school raid. They have since been found/rescued, thank goodness. CNN

Eric Levitz asks, should NYC axe “gifted” programs to integrate its schools? Yes, this is from last year, but it’s an example of another aspect of our lives affected by racism. And it still hasn’t been addressed. New York Magazine

Jeff Zeleny, Dan Merica, Gregory Krieg, MJ Lee and Kate Sullivan: Biden taps Deb Haaland as first Native American interior secretary. CNN

A new variant of coronavirus identified in England. The messaging is to remain calm and wait. Other than to know that it’s more transmissible, they haven’t learned much about it. BBC

Leah Asmelash and Cheri Mossburg report that after 51 years, two amateur codebreakers crack the Zodiac Killer’s cipher. CNN

Loren Grush: Virgin Galactic aborts first powered space flight from New Mexico airport. The Verge

Uranus smells like farts (and other smelly facts about our solar system). SciShow Space

Why do remember the past but not the future (or, how your brain is like an asteroid)? PBS Space Time

Seven-billion-year-old stardust is the oldest material found on Earth. In Geology

Annie Lennox performs Dido’s Lament with London City Voices. So touching.

Capture the Atlas presents the 2020 northern light photographers of the year.

Sara Burrows: photographer captures the northern lights taking the form of the firebird. Return to Now

True facts about army ant riders. Ze Frank

Rachel Nuwer says young ravens rival adult chimps in a test of general intelligence. Scientific American

Two of the most beautiful voices. Dala – The Christmas Waltz

Thank you for visiting. I hope you took away lots of inspiration for a future creative project.

Until next tipsday, be well and stay safe, be kind, and stay strong. Have a peaceful and safe holiday. The world needs your stories!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Dec 13-19, 2020

Ah! The penultimate tipsday of the year! Time to get your informal writerly learnings 🙂

John J. Kelley helps you stage the scene. Yuvi Zalkow is embracing the I-don’t-know-ness. Porter Anderson hopes you work wonders in 2021. Writer Unboxed

Janice Hardy shares three steps to crafting a stronger first draft. Fiction University

Jenna Moreci shares her top ten tips for writing fantasy.

Lori Freeland lists five things every writer needs to thrive. Then, Barbara Linn Probst considers scene coherence from the reader’s perspective. Writers in the Storm

My name is Inigo Montoya: Princess Bride fight analysis. Jill Bearup

Lucy V. Hay shares ten steps to revise your NaNo novel. Writers Helping Writers

Nathan Bransford explains what to expect when you work with a freelance editor.

The strong female character trope, explained. The Take

Abigail K. Perry demonstrates the importance of internal and external value shifts in characters. Later in the week, Amy Ayers offers five ways to talk about writing with nonwriters. DIY MFA

The funny fat girl trope, explained. The Take

Ken Brosky explains how to effectively manage multiple narrators in your novel. Then, Louise Tondeur asks, is your writer’s block really writer’s indecision? Jane Friedman

Chris Winkle does a narration makeover to create tension. Oren Ashkenazi: what The Black Company teaches us about dark stories. Mythcreants

Emily Zarka considers the Nuckelavee, Scotland’s skinless, evil monstrosity. Monstrum |PBS Storied

Mildred Europa Taylor: Cynthia Erivo to star in and produce film about enslaved Yoruba girl who became a gift to the queen of England. Face 2 Face Africa

Stephanie Cram: Darcie Little Badger’s YA debut Elatsoe landed on Time’s list of the best fantasy novels of all time. CBC’s “Unreserved”

A Poem for All The ‘Old Hags’ // Sarah MacGillivray

Tom Grater reports that Charlie Mackesy, author of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse, teams up with Bad Robot to produce animated short. Deadline

Thanks for dropping by, and I hope you found something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe, my writerly friends!

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 6-12, 2020

It’s thoughty Thursday, your opportunity to get your mental corn popping!

Brakkton Booker: federal investigators join probe into Casey Goodson shooting death. NPR

N’dea Yancey-Bragg reports that the Seattle police who fired pepper spray and blast balls at BLM protestors violated order, according to judge. USA Today

Liz Navratil reveals how a divided Minnesota city council votes to cut 8 million from police budget. Star Tribune

Emmanuel Acho talks to the police. Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.

Hailey Fuchs: Brandon Bernard’s planned execution stirs debate over punishment for your offenders. The New York Times

Karen Hao read the AI ethics paper that forced Timnit Gebru out of Google. Here’s what it says. MIT Technology Review

Luis Martinez reports that 14 senior army leaders at Fort Hood suspended or fired after broad review of sexual harassment and abuse allegations. ABC News

Colin Dwyer: Canada authorizes Pfizer vaccine. NPR

Joe takes us inside the lab that developed the covid-19 vaccine. It’s okay to be smart

Margot Sanger-Katz, Claire Cain Miller and Quoctrung Bui compiled this article on how 700 epidemiologists are living now, and what they think is next. The New York Times

Jackie Wattles explain how the Starship explosion was still a success. Spoilers: we learn from our failures. CNN

Nadia Drake introduces us to the astronauts of the Artemis Mission, eight of whom are women (!). National Geographic

Jim Daley says Earth’s orbital shifts may have triggered ancient global warming. (From Sept 2019, but still interesting.) Scientific American

Marco Hernandez and Cassandra Garrison report that the world’s biggest iceberg heads for disaster. Climate change is still happening. Reuters

Grace Eber explains how precisely arranged stones coil and surge across the land in Jon Foreman’s mesmeric works. This is Colossal

Fun, and so much better than the original. Walk Off the Earth and Harm & Ease cover Toxic.

Thank you for stopping by, and I hope you found something to inspire a future creative project.

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