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 CSFFA Professional Development Grant

This is the news I was teasing in my last update!

On April 30th, I received notification that I was the spring recipient of the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (CSFFA, AKA the Aurora Awards) Professional Development Grant!

Now I can resume work with Suzy to revise my novel in a more focused and accountable way. W00t!!

Sorry, the cheque’s already been deposited and I forgot to take a picture before I went to the bank.

The CSFFA asked that I hold off until they made the official announcement in their next newsletter. Now they have, so I can spread the word!

In case you’re curious, there are two submission periods in the year, spring and fall. So, If you’re interested you can find out more here: the CSFFA Professional Development Grant.

You won’t know if you can succeed unless you apply.

So, maybe go do that. The next submission period opens June 1st.

Much happy dancing is happening.

It’s good to have good news.

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

Pulp Literature Issue 38 Launch

I’m just dropping by to remind everyone that Pulp Literature issue 38 is launching tomorrow at the Port Coquitlam Readers & Writers Festival!

If you’re in the area, I encourage you to visit the Book Fair & Market Hall at 1 pm. Authors Sylvia Leong, JJ Lee, Rhea Rose, Renée Sarojini Saklikar, Jude Neale, Leslie Wibberley, and JM Landels will be on hand and reading their fabulous work.

And if you’re not in the area, consider ordering a copy.

Show the good people at Pulp Literature some love!

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

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!

Book Launch: Enlightened by Defilement by Vera Constantineau

Yesterday, On Saturday, April 15, 2023, I attended the launch of Vera’s collection of haibun, Enlightened by Defilement, at the Hilton Garden Inn, in Sudbury.

It was a lovely afternoon and I saw many members of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild, who came out to support our former Poet Laureate. Heather Campbell, the publisher behind Latitude 46 was also there, and I reconnected with an old friend (hi, Linda!—waves frantically).

Emily DeAngelis conducted an interview with Vera and asked her to read a few poems. It was a different format, and I appreciated it. The Sudbury Star interviewed Vera, as well.

The event was catered with sushi, spring rolls, fruit, cheese, meats, and crackers. Very good!

There was something for everyone.

I’ll encourage everyone to support Vera and Latitude 46 by purchasing a copy, either directly from the publisher’s page, or through

Thoughty Thursday: Popping your mental corn, April 2-8, 2023

My last thoughty Thursday! Parting is such sweet sorrow. Feel free to peruse the archives if you need to get your mental corn popping in the future.

Picture of a moon emerging from behind clouds.

Kaelyn Forde introduces us to the women fighting one of the harshest abortion laws in the Americas. The Walrus

Candace Maracle: Elisapie gets nostalgic with Inuktitut rendition of Blondie’s Heart of Glass. And it’s freakin’ awesome! CBC Indigenous

Guy Kawasaki interviews Temple Grandin: different minds for different times. The Remarkable People Podcast

Sagy Zwirn is all about the fire and brimstone, or how the dichotomy of heaven and hell came to be, and why it bears no resemblance to what the Bible actually says. JSTOR Daily

Lorne Cook and Matthew Lee: Finland joins NATO in major blow to Russia over Ukraine War. Associated Press

Anne Trafton reports that new nanoparticles can perform gene editing in the lungs, offering hope for Cystic Fibrosis and other lung disease patients. MIT News

Nicole Schmidt wonders, will groceries ever be affordable? The Walrus

Stephen Clark: NASA names crew for first human mission to the moon in over 50 years. Spaceflight Now

Brett Tingly explains why NASA’s Artemis II will only fly around the moon, not orbit, or land.

JWST scores another ringed world with new image of Uranus. Shiny! NASA

Gaia discovers a new family of black holes.

Davide Castelvecchi: light waves squeezed through “slits in time.” Nature

Ashawnta Jackson: money, murder, and Mrs. Clem. JSTOR Daily

Erin Blakemore explains why England’s “lost king” ended up buried beneath a parking lot. National Geographic

Henry Grabar explains how Paris kicked out the cars. Slate

Bob Weber: scientists confirm first Canadian fossil of a dire wolf, Ice Age predator featured in Game of Thrones. The Globe and Mail

Researchers discover birds with neurotoxin-laden feathers in New Guinea.

Annette McGivney takes us inside the stunning brains of natures hardest workers: “Bees are sentient.” The Guardian

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you took away something to inspire a future creative project.

Until my next chapter update (returning to it’s monthly format, so the first weekend in May), be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, April 2-8, 2023

Welcome to the last tipsday for the foreseeable. As I mentioned in my most recent next chapter weekly, I’m cutting back on social media to devote more time to writing and revision.

It’s been a while since Torvi made an appearance 🙂

Julianna Baggott: yes, I know how hard it is. Donald Maass explains where connection comes from. Then, Elizabeth Huergo muses on frigates and ChatGPT. Writer Unboxed

Margie Lawson is writing fresh: laughs, giggles, and snorts that carry power. Then, Hannah Jacobson explains what you can do with book awards and reviews. Stefan Emunds says characterization is one of the most vital writing skills. Writers in the Storm

What makes a movie “feminist”? Princess Weekes

Elizabeth Spann Craig is writing longhand.

Becca Puglisi says, if you need organizational help, try Trello. Then, Colleen M. Story shares six ways to make your author blog more successful. Writers Helping Writers

Is cyberpunk actually punk? Tale Foundry

Amy L. Bernstein provides a framework for moving beyond your first draft. Then, Matt Holmes lists the four pillars of book marketing, or how to sell more books in less time. Amy Goldmacher explains how to differentiate between desire and desperation in pursuit of publication. Next, John Matthew Fox helps you find comp titles using ChatGPT. Jane Friedman

My revision process—first draft to ready for publication. Shaelin Writes

Ashley Christiano shares chakras for storytellers, part 2: putting concept into practice. Then, Manuela Williams considers four poetry book cover design trends. Stacy Frazer explains how to recover from creative burnout and enhance your energy. Next, Lori Walker interviews Danielle Mitchell about reading and writing poetry. Brenda Rech shares five things she learned by entering writing contests. DIY MFA

Seven exercises to improve dialogue. Reedsy

Janice Hardy lists three steps to crafting a story arc that sucks (your readers in). Fiction University

Tiffany Yates Martin discovers how Camille Pagán revises—by betting on herself. Fox Print Editorial

Chris Winkle offers six tips for writing your first novel—and series. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five stories that undermine their own stakes. Mythcreants

Thank you for visiting, and I hope you found something to support your current work(s) in progress. You can always peruse the archives.

Until Thursday, keep staying safe and well, my writerly friends.

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.

Book review: K.M. Weiland’s Writing Archetypal Character Arcs

What Amazon says:

The Six Transformational Character Arcs of the Human Life

Ready to take your story’s character arcs and themes to the next level? This latest book from veteran writing teacher and story theorist K.M. Weiland ventures far beyond the popular and pervasive Hero’s Journey to explore six important archetypal character arcs, representing key moments of initiation in the human experience:

  • The Maiden
  • The Hero
  • The Queen
  • The King
  • The Crone
  • The Mage

Found in every genre from fantasy to drama to romance to adventure, these transformational stories are the secret of powerhouse fiction—as shown through a wide variety of real-story examples throughout the book.

Writing Archetypal Character Arcs will teach you:

  • The archetypal beats for each of the six journeys
  • Which archetypes are right for your particular story
  • The best way to use archetypes in a series
  • How to choose the right archetypes for supporting characters
  • How to use archetypes to identify your story’s theme

You will also learn how to deepen your stories by implementing shadow archetypes (the negative sides of each positive archetype), resting or “flat” archetypes (the fixed stage between each of the main arcs), and archetypal antagonists (the epic antagonistic forces that oppose each of the positive archetypes in their journeys). The Hero’s Journey is just the beginning.

Learning about archetypal character arcs will change the way you view stories—and life—forever.

My thoughts:

K.M. Weiland has a passion for story structure (Structuring Your Novel) and character arc (Creating Character Arcs). Now, she adds to her writing craft oeuvre with Writing Archetypal Character Arcs.

Her journey began with Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth (The Hero’s Journey) and his discussion of Jungian archetypes in his seminal work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. But Campbell’s work has always lacked the feminine dimension and anything leading up to or following the Monomyth/Hero’s Journey.

To fill this gap, Weiland has read not only the works of Maureen Murdock, Kim Hudson, and Gail Carriger and their interpretations of the heroine’s journey, but she’s also delved deeply into archetypes at all stages of life’s journey through the works of numerous authors. One look at her list of references at the end of Writing Archetypal Character Arcs will make the craft writing book junkie or academic in you drool.

Though I intend to add a number of these books to my reading list (‘cause I’m a geek), you don’t have to. Weiland has studied and skillfully distilled these works into her book and lays them out for writers in an accessible way.

This is a writing craft book that you will want to buy in print and keep at your desk as a reference. It’s that good.

My Rating:


Go buy it now, peoples.

You’re welcome.

Thoughty Thursday: Popping your mental corn, March 26-April 1, 2023

It is time, once again, to get your mental corn popping 🙂

Annie Hylton: where the children are buried. The Walrus

Michele Cyca wonders why more people are claiming Indigenous ancestry. The Walrus

Kai Chenk Thom says that kids deserve a new gender paradigm. The Walrus

Nathaniel Wade and Marilyn Cornish explain how to forgive yourself. Psyche Guides

Heidi Ledford: “astonishing” molecular syringe ferries proteins into human cells. This could improve drug delivery systems. Nature

Chris Vallance says AI could replace the equivalent of 300 million jobs. Not a new story. We’ve been hearing similar messages one way or the other since the industrial revolution. Sometimes it’s as bad as predicted, and sometimes it’s not. We have to wait and see. BBC

Guy Kawasaki interviews Wanda Harding about her journey from stars to students. The Remarkable People Podcast

Genelle Weule: Change’e-5 samples reveal water on Moon stored in glass beads. ABC

Daniel Lawler reports that a large asteroid to zoom between Earth and Moon.

Alexandra Witze: JWST gets best view yet of planet in hotly pursued star system. Nature

The obscure history of Japanese sea lords. PBS Origins

Amy McCaig reports that ancient DNA reveals entwined African and Asian ancestry along the Swahili coast. Rice University

Human cells help researchers understand squid camouflage. American Chemical Society

Why does every animal look like this? Be Smart

Robotic system offers hidden window into collective bee behaviour. École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)

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

Until my next chapter weekly update, be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!