Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, June 26-July 2, 2022

Another week, another batch of informal writerly learnings. And so it goes …

Vaughn Roycroft is living an artist’s life with lessons from Kate Bush. Then, Erika Liodice is finding inspiration in unexpected places. Tessa Barbosa shares some easy tricks for crafting memorable characters. Then, Sarah Callender is writing (and living) in the midst of fear. Barbara O’Neal considers the practice. Writer Unboxed

Tim fixes Legend of Korra season 2. Hello, Future Me

K.M. Weiland offers eight ways to avoid cardboard characters and plot contrivances. Helping Writers Become Authors

Susan DeFreitas explains how (and how not) to write queer characters: a primer. Then, Tiffany Yates Martin reveals how to improve your storytelling by studying other people’s. Jane Friedman

That … could have gone better? (Analysis of Luke vs. Vader in Empire Strikes Back.) Jill Bearup

Kris Maze says re-gear your writing career—take risks to revitalize. Then, Jenny Hansen shares Kurt Vonnegut’s ten tips for successful writing. L.A. Mitchell is opening the top-secret client vault on ghostwriting (and how you can find your first). Writers in the Storm

Teresa Conner shares three design secrets for captivating book adds. Hyacinthe M. Miller helps you avoid writing stereotypes of people of color. Writers Helping Writers

Death by misadventure—Passing and the nature of identity. Princess Weekes

LA Bourgeois is battling the guilt monster. Then, F.E. Choe offers a few, humble thoughts on voice. Michael Bourne lists five ways to turn your setting into a fully realized character. DIY MFA

Tiffany Yates Martin points out the main writing skill you may be neglecting. Fox Print Editorial

Moiya McTier—Trickster gods and the mortals who love them. Fate & Fabled | PBS Storied

Chuck Wendig says sometimes writing is finding a place to put all your rage, sorrow, and even joy. Terribleminds

Chris Winkle explains how to write a first-person retelling. Then, Oren Ashkenazi reveals the myth of conflict-free story structures. Mythcreants

Kristen Lamb: writing to formula vs. formulaic writing.

Thank you for visiting with me 🙂 I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress.

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

The next chapter: June 2022 update

Greetings, my writerly friends. It’s been a bit of a struggle for me recently in terms of productivity, but I think I’m finally rounding the bend, as they say.

Before we get to the month in writing, here are your PSAs:

All lives cannot matter until Black, Indigenous, and people of colour lives matter. We can’t lose sight of the goal despite … (gestures vaguely) everything.

Covid is now endemic. That means following public health recommendations and getting all your vaccinations on an ongoing basis. People are still hospitalized. They’re still dying. Let’s keep everyone healthy.

I can’t believe Russia’s unprovoked war against the Ukraine is ongoing. We can’t normalize this. I stand with the Ukraine and deplore Russia.

The rights of childbearing people to their own bodily autonomy must be protected. SCOTUS has erred egregiously in its reckless revocation of Roe.

The month in writing

June was … a month. Falling behind in April and May meant I had to take some time to catch up. And it landed in June. You may remember that I was late with my last update. That was one thing that pushed other creative pursuits out of the way.

And at work, another project (requiring some overtime) was due and had to get done. I leveraged assistance where I could, but some work fell to me, and I wasn’t going to ask anyone else to do the work that I could do in half the time … but that was done by the 13th.

I also had a Canadian Authors Association board meeting to attend in advance of our annual general meeting on the 18th, but after that, the month began to open up.

With respect to Reality Bomb revisions, I again set what should have been a reasonable goal of revising 15,000 words in June. That should have taken me to the end of the draft and potentially into the next. My plan was to work through my map and figure out where the next round of final-for-now revisions should focus in a strategic manner. My hope was for this work to take a week, maybe two, and that I’d get back to it, so I could then work with an editor or book coach over the summer.

Well, I didn’t get much done in the first part of the month. The above-listed challenges meant more non-revising days than revising days. Ultimately, I revised 9,842 words on RB (66%), and I’m mere pages from the end of the draft (pages, I say!). I hope to finish in the next few days, then focus on poetry, short fiction, and re-reading book two of the Ascension series (gotta get back on that), before rework using the map, and getting back to RB a week or two later.

The only writing I did in the month was on this blog. I blogged 5,467 words of my 5,500-word goal, or 99%.

Filling the well

In June, I attended three online literary events.

The first was a Curtis Chen presentation on query letters that was set up by the Novel Writing Inner Circle of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild on the 8th. It was good and I’d recommend it if you see Curtis offering the presentation again in another venue. It gave me something to think about as I’m getting closer to the end of (the so-far endless) revisions to RB. I’ve been mulling over query letter text in my head. I’ll let it percolate a while longer before committing query.

Next, I attended the Progression of Character Arcs workshop presented by Mary Robinette Kowal on June 9th. It was awesome, as usual, and non-Patreon workshops by MRK are rare these days, so I wanted to snap it up while I could.

Then, I attended an Authors Publish webinar on the 21st. It was interesting and about using the paintings of the Dutch masters to tailor our narrative POV.

Then, I watched a couple of Jane Friedman webinar recordings (‘cause work).

First, Dan Blank presented “I hate social media—now what do I do?” Dan’s always good about viewing social media as an opportunity (as opposed to the dumpster fire it can be) to build relationships and readership.

Then, Allison K. Williams and Jane co-presented “Why is my book getting rejected?” They looked at queries and first pages (are we seeing a theme here?). I did submit a query for consideration, but so did a lot of other people. Allison and Jane didn’t have time to tackle them all.

In terms of personal/social events, I attended supper out (at a restaurant!) with a group of friends on the 18th. It was nice to get out again.

Another friend visited on the afternoon of the 20th for a visit on the patio to discuss contracts.

Finally, I attended the Sudbury Writers’ Guild picnic on the 28th. The host put up canopies and it was a good thing because a thunderstorm passed over.

Unfortunately, the next day a member posted that they were showing covid symptoms and had tested positive, so I’m self-isolating for the requisite 10 days, and watching for symptoms. None yet … but we have a pack of test kits on hand thanks to my sister-in-law. Also unfortunate, I visited Mom after the picnic, and she visited a bunch of her friends before I saw the notification up on the SWG’s Facebook page. So now we’re all self-isolating 😦

I’m still walking Torvi but am wearing a mask. And Mom and Phil and I are enjoying short, physically distanced visits under Mom’s carport, so we stay in touch. I visit Mom every day, one way or the other.

In terms of my physical and mental health, I had a physiotherapy appointment on the 7th, after which the time between visits was extended from one week to two. My next appointment was on the 21st, after which my next appointment was scheduled for the 21st of July. My shoulders are in much better shape now.

I also attended the last autism support group meeting before the summer break on the 16th. The topic this time around was accessing education as an autistic and though my school days are long behind me, I was able to offer some of my experience to the younger autistics in the group.

I was able to leverage the aforementioned overtime I had to work to take a day and a half leading up to a weekend after which I had two days of vacation scheduled, turning it into a 5.5-day weekend that I enjoyed very much.

Finally, I took a pre-retirement webinar offered through my union the next weekend on the 25th and 26th. 4.5 hours each day. Though it was informative and beneficial, it felt like I was working through the weekend and made for a tiring last week of June.

The baby snapping turtle who visited us late in the month.

What I’m watching and reading

First, I forgot to mention last month that I finished watching the most recent season of Grey’s Anatomy. It’s one of my guilty pleasures. The first part of the season with Meredith in a coma and hallucinating Derek and other beloved dead (George, Lexi) was tough to watch. The second half, where they did a 180 and “envision a world in which covid 19 has been managed” was back to business as usual. Mer gets an offer to work in a clinic on the other side of the country and has a new BF there. But by the end of the season, half the staff have left, for various reasons, and Mer’s left holding the Grey-Sloan bag.

On streaming, I finished watching two series.

The first, the reboot of Fraggle Rock, was on Apple + and it was a nostalgic joy. The season-long arc focused on environmentalism and friendship.

I also finished watching Station Eleven on Crave. I’m reading the book at the same time, so I’m going to hold off and do a bit of a comparison in next month’s update.

I also finished watching two series on network television.

This was the last season of the Charmed reboot. It felt very much like they got the news of cancellation partway through the season because the last few episodes were rushed and clunky as they tried to resolve various storylines. Harry becomes a necrolighter. Mel recovers/develops her time travel powers and works things out with new flame Roxie. Maggie finally commits to Jordan, and the newbie, Michaela, finds her roots but commits to the sisterhood. The plot involved an old (and I mean old) feud between the original charmed ones and its resolution involved time travel hijinx and some very convenient realizations.

Superman and Lois was better. The super-fam came together and defeated the bizarro-world villain Ally Allston and Superman was able to recharge in the heart of the sun before preventing the merging of the worlds with the help of John Henry Irons, his daughter, the Cushings, and local newspaper owner Chrissy.

I also watch a couple of movies in June.

I caught Ghostbusters (2016 version) on network TV. It was okay, and I definitely liked the all-female take, but the cameos from the original cast felt forced and I felt that Ghostbusters: Afterlife did a much better job overall of telling a related, but new story. In general, I wish Hollywood would resist the urge to reboot series. Get creative. Tell new stories.

Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness started streaming on Disney + and while I enjoyed the story, I did not enjoy how Wanda was treated. It felt too reminiscent of Danerys (and every other powerful woman who just has to be corrupted/go insane). As Wanda herself says to Strange: “That seems unfair, don’t you think?” Particularly since Strange reads the Darkhold with his eidetic memory and is somehow able to resist the corruption. Or not. He does end up with a literal third eye in the end and some viewers speculate that Dark Strange may have taken up residence via dreamwalking.

In terms of books, I read five.

The first was Spirit Walker by David Farland. I’d wanted to read one of his books since I learned of his death earlier in the year. It wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t blown away. It’s science fantasy about a world that has been colonized by genetically reconstructed neanderthals (who call themselves pwi) and humans. The story focuses on a half-pwi, half-human who is tapped to become the next spirit walker and defeat an enemy army. It’s the first in a series, but I don’t think I’ll be reading on.

Next, I read Gail Carriger’s (writing as C.L. Carriger) Vixen Ecology. It’s a short story in the San Andreas Shifters series (noted as 3.5). I enjoyed it, but I think reading the earlier books in the series might have helped 🙂

Then, I finished Jade War by Fonda Lee. It felt like a fitting conclusion to the trilogy. I appreciated how not everything worked out for the characters as they would have liked, but it left the Kaul family in a good place, overall.

I also read Peyakow by Darrel McLeod. This was a memoir of McLeod’s life from the time he was a teacher and principal fighting for a more traditional curriculum, through his years working for provincial and federal governments, to his tenure with the Assembly of First Nations. McLeod finally comes to terms with his two-spirit nature late in life and fights addiction along with generational trauma throughout. It ends on a positive note.

Finally, I read the last book in the Kingston trilogy, Soulstar by C.L. Polk. I can’t tell you how much I love Polk’s work. Some readers might find the plot quiet, focusing on political schemes and subterfuge, but Polk’s characters are unfailingly compassionate and there’s plenty of tension and conflict to keep reader’s turning pages. It’s a better world made even better. With love and magic.

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

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

Thoughty Thursday: Popping your mental corn, June 19-25, 2022

It’s the last thoughty Thursday of June! Early happy Canada Day to my Canadian friends and early happy Independence Day to my friends south of the border.

Mon M: the Uvalde shooting is just the latest example of why we need abolition. Prism

Jia Tolentino says America’s not going back to the time before Roe. We’re going somewhere worse. The New Yorker

Vanessa Taylor explains why Muslim teens love surveillance memes. Teen Vogue

Max Hunder and Tom Balmforth: Ukraine to withdraw from Sievierodonetsk as Russia closes in. Reuters

Laurentian gets court approval to sell the Art Gallery of Sudbury. They haven’t said what they’re doing with the art collection. Yet. CBC

Frances Solá-Santiago wonders what’s really behind TikTok’s “weird girl aesthetic”? Refinery 29

Why you can’t smell yourself (and other ways your senses lie to you). Be Smart

Clark Quinn is all about reality checks. Learnlets

Danielle D. King and Megan R. McSpedon explain what leaders get wrong about resilience. Harvard Business Review

Guy Kawasaki interviews Gloria Romero, former senator, author, and feminist. The Remarkable People Podcast

Rina Torchinsky says, get your binoculars: five planets are lined up nicely for you to see at dawn this month. NPR

“Do fabulous science”: Jane Rigby. SciShow Space

Robert Lea: fastest nova ever seen “rings” like a bell thanks to feeding white dwarf. Space.com

Nina Lakhani introduces us to the farmers restoring Hawaii’s ancient food forests that once fed an island. The Guardian

Olivia Box spotlights improving communications around climate change. JSTOR Daily

Thanks for taking the time to stop by, and I hope you took away something to inspire a future creative project.

This weekend, I hope to post my June next chapter update (we’ll see how that works out).

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

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, June 19-25, 2022

Welcome to the final tipsday of June! Fill up on informal writerly learnings for the last time this month.

Sara Farmer lists more of her favourite Sherlock Holmsian mystery series. Then, Abigail K. Perry analyzes the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Angela Yeh explains why all writers should play with poetry. Then Angela unlocks writer’s block sideways. Later in the week, Lewis Jorstad lists five reasons your novel’s premise is a powerful writing tool. DIY MFA

Nathan Bransford provides a novel revision checklist.

How to write a non-fiction book proposal. Reedsy

Matthew Norman explains how his career in advertising helped shape him as a novelist. Dave King: when worlds collide. Kelsey Allagood wants you to let your words grow wild. Then, Deanna Cabinian wonders, when is obsession a good thing? Victoria Strauss warn about the predatory contracts of serial reading/writing apps. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland helps you understand the new normal world of a story’s resolution. Helping Writers Become Authors

Erica Brosovsky suggests some foreign words we need in English. Otherwords | PBS Storied

Lisa Norman explains why you want people to hate your website. Then, Megan Ganesh promotes diversity and inclusion in writing. Eldred Bird says Chekov’s gun is a double-edged writing sword. Writers in the Storm

Nina Amir reveals how to quickly develop a writing habit. Live, Write, Thrive

Elizabeth Spann Craig points out yet another use for outlines.

Allison K. Williams reveals why agents don’t give feedback—and where to get it instead. Jane Friedman

The curse of creativity. Tale Foundry

Becca Puglisi wants you to go beyond the superficial character talents and skills. Jami Gold

Cheryl Rainfield helps you avoid writing mental health stereotypes. Writers Helping Writers

Tiffany Yates Martin asks, are you writing safe or risking your readers? Fox Print Editorial

Chris Winkle explains how to make your character novel. Then, Oren Ashkenazi says that the three-act structure is a mirage. (!) Very insightful and something that’s been bothering me about most story “structures.” Mythcreants

Workplace dystopias aren’t fiction. They’re here. The Take

Angie Hodapp talks rhetorical story development. Then, Kristin Nelson asks, can a writer set out to write a bestselling novel? Pub Rants

Kristen Lamb explains why we play “follow the reader.”

Terry Nguyen says we need rituals, not routines. Vox

Cassie Josephs: Murderbot is an autistic-coded robot done right. Did I not nail this in my last next chapter update? Oh, yeah. I did. Tor.com

Thank you for spending some time with me. I hope you found something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Thoughty Thursday: Popping your mental corn, June 12-18, 2022

It’s thoughty Thursday, and you know what that means. It’s time to get your mental corn popping!

Guy Kawasaki interviews John Biewen, author, journalist, and documentarian, about the origins of racism. The Remarkable People Podcast

Jon talks with Isabel Wilkerson about white resentment. The Problem with Jon Stewart

Jazmin Graves Eyssallenne introduces us to Mumbai, where Indian Ocean diasporas and cosmopolitanisms meet. JSTOR Daily

Hans van der Burchard, Clea Caulcutt, Christopher Miller, and Jules Darmanin: Germany, France, and Italy back EU candidate status for Ukraine. Politico

Danica Kirka: UK cancels first flight deporting asylum-seekers to Rwanda. Associated Press

Marie Woolf reports that the “Whiskey War” between Canada and Denmark over tiny arctic island ends peacefully with deal. CTV News

Cameron Mclean reports that retired priest, 92, charged after decade-long investigation into residential school sexual assault. CBC

Peggy Lam reveals that specialized clinics to treat long covid are in demand, and physicians say they can’t keep up. CBC

Jessica Stilllman suggests you try this magic two-minute, research-backed trick for a better night’s sleep. Inc.

Romano Santos wonders, are you sleeping properly? Vice

Emily Graslie explains how shoulders took over the world. SciShow

Jessica Thiefels shares everything you need to be happier, according to science. Fast Company

Clark Quinn: critical instructional design (ID)/learning experience design (LXD) differences? Learnlets

Rachel Triesman advises the best way to was the Strawberry Full Moon (on June 14th). NPR

Marcia Dunn reports that NASA launches study of UFOs despite “reputational risk.” Associated Press

Diana introduces us to a new phase of matter: 4th dimensional time crystals. Physics Girl

Olivia Box: turf algae and kelp forests. JSTOR Daily

Katie Hunt explains why cats go crazy for catnip. CNN

Thank you for spending some time with me. I hope you took away 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!

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, June 12-18, 2022

Welcome to tipsday, you’re opportunity to get your fill of informal writerly learnings. Enjoy!

K.M. Weiland helps you understand the underworld of a story’s third act. Helping Writers Become Authors

Ann Marie Nieves: book promotion and marketing questions answered, part VIII. Lisa Janice Cohen recommends a writer’s buddy system. Then, Barbara Linn Probst is walking back to “what do I really want?” AKA the miracle question. Julie Carrick Dalton is seeking the existential, the intimate, and the urgent: essays that model masterful storytelling. Writer Unboxed

Tim Hickson says show don’t tell (is a lie). Hello, Future Me

Ellen Buikema wants you to write a compelling first line. Then, Lynette M. Burrows helps you create compelling scenes with the motivation-reaction unit (MRU). Lori Freeland: to comma or not to comma (part 4). Writers in the Storm

Jodé Millman issues a call to arms against banning books. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Jill Bearup explains how to fight in Versace.

Becca Puglisi helps you avoid writing stereotypes of religious figures. Jami Gold: “They’re all gonna die!” Wait. Why does that matter? Writers Helping Writers

Over on her own blog, Jami follows up with this post: what gives our stories meaning?

Nathan Bransford explains how to write a synopsis for your novel.

Shaelin explains how to submit to literary magazines. Reedsy

Ambre Dawn Leffler suggests three small steps to get your writing back on track. Then, Marina Barakatt introduces us to the comic Shutter. Linda Murphy Marshall offers five words of encouragement for writers. Then, Mary Adkins explains how to use the enneagram to create fictional characters. DIY MFA

Kristen Lamb considers neurodivergence: being different in life and fiction.

Emily Zarka and Josef Lorenzo uncover UFOs and alien abductions. Monstrum | PBS Storied

Tiffany Yates Martin wonders, are you paying attention to your progress? Fox Print Editorial

Jane provides a step-by-step walk-through of Amazon Ads for beginning authors. Jane Friedman

Chris Winkle explains how to make your character selfless. Then, Oren Ashkenazi pits Andy Weir against himself in a three-way competition: The Martian vs. Artemis vs. Project Hail Mary. Mythcreants

Shaelin suggests questions to ask while you’re revising. Shaelin Writes

Thanks for stopping 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: Popping your mental corn, June 5-11, 2022

Happy Friday eve! Prepare yourself for the final push to the weekend by getting your mental corn popping!

John Flesher and Ed White report that Michigan officer charged with murder in Patrick Lyoya shooting. Associated Press

Livia Gershon reveals the unbearable middle passage. On the melancholy of the enslaved. JSTOR Daily

Billy McEntee lists 15 essential plays, books, and movies for understanding the history or queer liberation. them

Lexi McMenamin: the Johnny Depp Amber Heard verdict doesn’t matter after the internet made a spectacle of abuse. Teen Vogue

Dareh Gregorian and Kaitlyn Francis report on Uvalde native Matthew McConaughey’s plea for gun control: “Make these lives matter.” NBC News

Muizz Akhtar wonders what would it mean to treat guns the way we treat cars? Vox

Arash Javanbakht explains how mass shootings affect our brains, even if we aren’t directly harmed. Fast Company

Dave Davies: historian Carol Anderson uncovers the racist roots of the 2nd amendment. NPR

John Leicester reports that Russia hits Kyiv with missiles; Putin warns West on arms. Associated Press

Matthew Wills recounts the long history of same-sex marriage. JSTOR Daily

Harmeet Kaur announces that a newly issued US quarter celebrates Cherokee leader Wilma Mankiller. CNN

Ashley Andreou considers antifatness in the surgical setting. Scientific American

Is that a cold or are your organs flipped? SciShow

Adela Suliman and Ellen Francis: “needle spiking” fears rise in Europe, but crime is “really difficult” to trace. The Washington Post

Shauneen Miranda reports that the EU will soon require all cell phones to have the same charging port. NPR

Peter Keating: the Stanford lab startup that found a constructive way to capture carbon. Inc.

Adam Vaughan: climate change means people are losing 44 hours of sleep a year. New Scientist

Kieran Mulvaney reveals that humpback whales face major setback from climate change. National Geographic

Livia Gershon explains how street dogs spend their days. JSTOR Daily

Thank for spending some time with me. 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!

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, June 5-11, 2022

Monday’s in the rear-view and we’re one day closer to the weekend! Celebrate with some informal writerly learnings.

K.M. Weiland helps us understand the adventure world of a story’s second act. Helping Writers Become Authors

Richelle Lyn explains how to build an online portfolio. Kris Hill: doom, hope, and ten candles. Manuela Williams wonders, what is confessional poetry? Then Ashley Christiano returns with part 2 of her tarot for storytellers series: from tarot spread to novel outline. DIY MFA

Start writing your book. Reedsy

Louise Harnby explains how to use parentheses (round brackets) to convey simultaneity in fiction.

Beth Harvey considers the lure of literary symbolism. Then, Tiffany Yates Martin explains how tension and microtension keep your readers hooked. Kathleen McCleary walks the Camino as a creative reset. Then, Kathryn Craft wonders whether to challenge or concede to copy edits. David Corbett is weaving a life: the three levels of dramatic action. Writer Unboxed

Shaelin explains how she got her literary agent. Shaelin Writes

Penny C. Sansevieri shares four ways non-fiction authors can succeed in the “age of free.” Then, Colleen M. Story shares her top seven places to find people to write great blurbs. Piper Bayard helps you write believable driveway crime: carjacking and kidnapping. Writers in the Storm

Meghan Harvey wonders, is hybrid publishing ethical? Then, Kris Spisak says that if you’re looking for beta readers, turn the question around. Jane Friedman

How ancient mythologies defy the gender binary. Fate & Fabled | PBS Storied

Elizabeth Spann Craig defines who we’re writing for.

The war genre: honor and dishonor in pro-war, anti-war, and kinship stories. The society genre: stories of power and impotence. The status genre: stories of success and failure. Story Grid

Lisa Poisso offers three ways to infuse character voice. Then, Drew Hubbard helps you avoid writing LGBTQ+ stereotypes. Writers Helping Writers

This story is about rabbits, but it will still change your life. Tale Foundry

Nathan Bransford wants you to avoid aimless stage direction.

Tiffany Yates Martin reveals the best character tool you may not be using. Fox Print Editorial

The brainy brunette trope. The Take

Kristen Lamb explains why mastery should matter to authors.

Chris Winkle explains how to make your character sympathetic. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes six important story elements introduced too late. Mythcreants

Danielle Daniel draws on her ancestors’ past in debut novel Daughter of the Deer. CBC’s “the Next Chapter” with Shelagh Rogers

Thank you for taking the time to stop by, and I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress (whatever stage it’s at).

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Thoughty Thursday: Popping your mental corn, May 29-June 4, 2022

It’s time to get your mental corn popping!

Kelly Hayes: hope is not a given. We must cultivate it together. Truthout

Patrick Washington says that white supremacy is America’s love language. Word in Black

Ashawnta Jackson explains how Black radio changed the dial. JSTOR Daily

Ali Breland unpacks mass shootings and our never ending doomcycle. Mother Jones

A message from the Future II: The Years of Repair. The Intercept

100 days of war in Ukraine: a timeline. France 24

Andrea Woo and Marcus Gee report that BC to decriminalize possession of small amounts of “hard” drugs, like cocaine, fentanyl, and heroine. The Globe and Mail

Guy Kawasaki interviews Jennifer Kerns about women’s rights. The Remarkable People Podcast

Janice Gassam Asare interviews Dr. Raquel Martin talks race-related stress and why burnout must be treated as a systemic issue. Forbes

The euphoria of Elliot Page. Esquire

Ina Fried predicts the future of the office could look like a Starbucks. Axios

Douglas Perry: clinging to an 8-hour workday? Research suggests 5 hours is better. The Seattle Times

Clark Quinn recommends that instead of asking what’s in it for me, ask, what’s in it for them? Learnlets

Forgetting doesn’t reverse the learning process. Neuroscience News

Livia Gershon: scientific seances in twentieth-century Iran. JSTOR Daily

The absurd search for dark matter. Veritasium

Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne reports that a new law unchains fusion energy. Phys.org

Princeton University reveals that electrons in a crystal found to exhibit linked and knotted quantum twists. Phys.org

This machine makes hurricanes! Be Smart

Olivia Box considers the imperiled inland sea. JSTOR Daily

Craig Welch: will the oldest tree on Earth survive climate change? National Geographic

Thank you for visiting, and I hope you took away 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!

The next chapter:  May 2022 update

First of all, yeah, I’m late. Life got the better of me. I even tried to write little bits of this post through the week.  Didn’t work. As Inigo says, “Let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me summarize.” I should probably take those words to heart.

Here we are, halfway through the year. And … what have I accomplished? It doesn’t feel like a lot, though this year has been … kind of awesome. I’m just in a weird place. Is it just imposter syndrome, or am I failing to take the time to recognize and celebrate my wins? I’ll dig in, in a bit.

Before we get to the month in writing, here are your monthly PSAs:

All lives cannot matter until Black, Indigenous, and people of colour lives matter.

I’m still washing my hands, maintaining physical distance, and masking in indoor public spaces, and I encourage you to do the same. Covid and its variants are still out there (that’s what endemic means). People are still being hospitalized and dying, though vaccination and the above public health measures are working to keep numbers relatively low. Protect yourself and the people you love.

I can’t believe that the war in the Ukraine has lasted more than 100 days. I deplore Russia’s continued unprovoked aggression.

And now …

The month in writing

May should have been better, productivity-wise, than April. At work, we got one major project put to bed and things haven’t been so stressful.

Having said that, I only revised 5,711 words of Reality Bomb in May. That’s 29% of my 20,000-word goal. Yes, I’ve hit another stretch where it’s more writing than revision, but damn. It’s disappointing. I’m within 30 pages of the end of the novel (and have been there for … a while), over 120,000 words on the draft, and I have no idea if I’ll meet my goal of another pass before July. It feels like it’s not going to happen, right now.

I really wanted to reduce the manuscript to 110,000 words, but that may not happen, either.

I blogged 5,514 words of my 5,000-word goal, or 110%.

I revised a short story and submitted it. Most of it was cutting, but 60 new words got on the board. I put in the “goal” of revising 100 words, but it was going to be what it was going to be, so that 60% isn’t really reflective.

And I wrote three new poems and submitted them. A fabulous poet friend suggested that I try to commit my autistic journey to poetry, but damn is that hard. I’m not really in a place where I understand it yet.

I had a trifecta of good news early in the month. On the 9th, “The Undine’s Voice,” a story that was accepted last year was published in Polar Borealis 21. On the 10th, Tyche Books began promotions for Pirating Pups, in which “Torvi, Viking Queen” will appear. Cover and TOC announcement went out that day, and pictures of pirate pups have been making the rounds on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Then, on the afternoon of the 10th, I was contacted by a small publisher who’s interested in my poetry collection (!) It was a happy-dancing couple of days 🙂

Filling the well

May 1st to the 7th marked the return of FOLD, the festival of literary diversity. I signed up for the virtual stream and watched most of it after the fact (‘cause work). If you’re interested, replays should be available to watch until June 11th. You can still register and watch if you wish. FOLD has some of the best programming.

I also attended a book club/reading with Xiran Jay Zhao on the 6th, and a reading by Sarah Polley on the 12th.

I attended a staged reading of Kim Fahner’s play, “All the Things I Draw” on Friday the 13th at the Sudbury Theatre Centre. It was great to get out and see something in person again, but it was my first such outing since the pandemic hit and I was a bit overwhelmed.

I attended the retirement party for a co-worker the next day. Shirley and I joke that we’ve been joined at the hip since we started working. We started in the same class, worked in the call centre for six and a half years, were both successful on the same process to move into adjudication, and then became BEAs at the same time. Though I had a few acting positions as a BEC and then moved to the College to become an instructional designer, until the pandemic hit, we’d always worked together and sat in the same area. It was lovely to be able to see Shirley into the next phase of her life.

On the 29th, I went to dine at an actual restaurant (!) with a friend I haven’t seen in forever. It was great catching up.

In the health/self-care arena, I started to see a physiotherapist because of pain in my shoulders. Not wanting it to develop into anything serious or long-term, I asked my doctor for a referral. After a month of weekly visits, I’ve made progress and graduated to bi-weekly appointments. Yay!

May’s therapist appointment will be my last one. For now. We both agreed that I didn’t need her support anymore, though I will continue to attend my support group meetings.

My employer has accepted the discontinuation of my duty to accommodate request, which is a big relief.

It was a good month, all around.

So … this leaves me wondering about my current low mood. I think it’s a combination of lack of progress on RB and having to be more independent again.

Last year, I reached out for help in a number of areas, and I received it. At the time, I needed the support. Now, I need to take responsibility for my wellbeing again, and it’s hard work. Honestly, though, I’ve been doing the work all along. It was just the presence of health care practitioners that made it feel like I wasn’t.

It was nice to be cared for, though. I think I just have to get used to being on my own again. It’ll take a little time. And I have to grieve the end of some productive, supportive relationships.

What I’m watching and reading

Phil and I watched three shows together. The first was Moonknight. I loved it. Phil, not so much. Oscar Isaac did a fabulous job as Mark/Steven/Jake. Tawaret! LOVE! I’m looking forward to what happens next.

Next up was Raising Dion. What a disappointment. I’d hoped that they would have learned some lessons from season one, but all the same problems popped up. Plot holes galore.

Then, we watched Love, Death and Robots, series 3. Bloody violent. It was good but unsettling. And some of it was hard to watch.

On network television, I watched Outlander. I will never not love the show or the books. So, I think expressing an opinion would be disingenuous. I watched some interviews, though, and discovered that the season was cut short due to Catriona Balfe’s pregnancy. But if you read the books and watch the show, it’s a master class in adaptation. You can see the choices made and why they make sense for the medium. I won’t go on. Suffice it to say—loved!

Then, Naomi. In a way, it’s a bit sad that it was cancelled after one season. The show had potential. A young Black female lead, a diverse cast, and an interesting story. Unfortunately, the writers had a habit of playing the same irritating misdirect in several episodes. They’d set things up to make it look like Naomi was doing something irresponsible, go to break, and return with the reveal of a secret plan.

And finally, The Rookie. It’s a consistent show if nothing else. And they do address interesting issues. But I’m still pissed off that they killed Jackson. A “kill your gays” / “the Black character dies first” double suck.

On streaming, I finished watching Arcane. The animation was gorgeous. The story could have been better. Jinx was another female character whose trauma drove her insane and made her incredibly destructive. Kind of tired of the trope.

My non-fiction (kind of) watch of the month was We’re All Gonna Die (Even Jay Baruschel). Amusing. Horrifying. Both!

And … I don’t know how I squeezed them all in, but I watched three movies, too.

The first was The Matrix: Resurrections. Awesome. Very meta.

Then, I watched Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Also awesome. I love a new story in a favourite imaginary world. And Phoebe was autistic-coded!

Finally, I saw The Kingsman. None of the problematic camp that marked the first two films. It was basically a WWI family tragedy/drama. The action scenes couldn’t save it.

I read five books in May.

The first was All Systems Red by Martha Wells. I lurved Murderbot. Who was also autistic-coded. Will read more of this series.

Then, I finished Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone by Diana Gabaldon. Yup, I read the latest book while watching the series 🙂 This is an amazing saga.

Next, I read Wolf’s Bane by Kelley Armstrong. This is the first of her Logan and Kate (the children of her Otherworld werewolves) books. Fun. Ended on a huge cliff hanger. I think the whole story was arbitrarily broken up. Will read more, though.

My non-fiction read was Burnout by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. Even though it wasn’t specifically about autistic burnout, this book is a-MA-zing. It’s written for women and woman-presenting people who suffer from “human giver syndrome.” It’s hilarious and affecting. Highly recommend.

Finally, I read Stormsong by C.L. Polk. Fabulous. I love how this woman’s mind works and it’s no wonder the Kingston Cycle is up for best series at the Hugos.

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

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