Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, April 17-23, 2022

Happy Tuesday! You survived Monday 🙂 Reward yourself with some informal writerly learnings.

Sara Farmer enters the not-so-elementary university of Sherlock Holmes, part 1. Then, LA Bourgeois wants you to acknowledge your limitations and set your stage for success. Gabriela Pereira interviews GG Kellner about using history to speculate the future and change the present. Then, F.E. Choe helps you create your own writing space at home. Gracie Bialecki bemoans the double-edged sword of deadlines. Finally, Ashley Christiano lists five ways astrology can help you write your novel. DIY MFA

Jill Bearup says choreography doesn’t matter.

Jan O’Hara: and the Oscar for best reality show script goes to Will Smith (or, writerly takeaways from the infamous slap). Dave King is in search of faith and goodness. Then, Barbara Linn Probst considers time: backstory, flashback, and chronology. Natalie Hart wonders what if you gave up? Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland outlines the six challenges of writing a second novel. Helping Writers Become Authors

Shaelin shares 11 writing exercises to help break writer’s block. Reedsy

Becca Puglisi shares creative ways to brainstorm story ideas. Then, Lynette M. Burrows presents one plotting tool for all. Ellen Buikema continues her literary tour of the senses with the power of vision in writing. Writers in the Storm

Alice Gaines offers three tools for deep point of view. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Margaret McNellis helps you tell your story with three tarot cards. Then, Catherine Baab-Maguira explains why Frankenstein still sells 40,000 copies a year. Jane Friedman

Erica Brozovsky talks about pronouns: the little words that say a lot. Otherwords | PBS Storied

Lisa Hall-Wilson offers one reason readers cheer for unlikeable characters. Then, Angela Ackerman explains how writers can turn the page this spring. Writers Helping Writers

Tiffany Yates Martin: “Leave me alone—I know what I’m doing.” Fox Print Editorial

Kristen Lamb: small steps and the value of just showing up.

Why we’re still so obsessed with the Heather. The Take

Chris Winkle recommends seven external plots for relationship-centered stories. Then, Oren Ashkenazi wonders how useful Michael Moorcock’s ten rules of writing are.  Mythcreants

Angie Hodapp helps you balance the explainable with the inexplicable in speculative fiction. Then, Kristin Nelson says all the writing talent in the world won’t save the wrong story. Pub Rants

Why is Turning Red getting so many weird reviews? Xiran Jay Zhao

Alana Pickerel: new poster exhibit by the Sudbury Writers’ Guild highlights Sudbury’s rainbow hospital. CTV Northern Ontario

Alan Neal interviews John Degen of the Writers’ Union of Canada about proposed Copyright Act changes. CBC’s “All in a Day”

Thanks for taking the time to stop by, and I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, March 13-19, 2022

You’ve survived Monday! Reward yourself with some informal writerly learnings 🙂

Sophie Masson helps you use varied narrative forms in your novel. Then, Dave King wonders if you’re drowning your story in imagery. Barbara Linn Probst wants you to write secondary characters with purpose and pizzaz. Porter Anderson: evil and The Age of Madness. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland: how do you know when you’re a successful author? Helping Writers Become Authors

Ellen Brock explains how to write your novel as an intuitive pantser.

Lori Freeland returns with to comma, or not to comma, part 3. Then, Lynette M. Burrows shares even more things she wishes she knew before she published (also, part 3). Eldred Bird tells a modern writing horror story. Writers in the Storm

Tim Hickson wonders if there’s any hope for Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series. Hello, Future Me

Lori Walker reviews 1984 by George Orwell—in graphic novel form. Then, Stephanie BwaBwa fills your self-publishing toolkit for authorial success with writing tools. Ashley Christiano helps you beat writer’s block and plot your novel with tarot cards. Brittany Capozzi explains five ways the vagus nerve helps writers focus. DIY MFA

Shaelin explains how to write compelling secondary characters. Reedsy

Ashleigh Renard explains how to make money through social media without being an influencer. Then, Caroline Topperman helps you figure out which social media platform is the best. Jessi Rita Hoffman unpacks children’s dialogue: they don’t talk like adults. Jane Friedman

On her own channel, Shaelin shares how she works on multiple projects. Shaelin Writes

Lucy V. Hay helps you figure out if your story is a mystery, thriller, or horror. Then, Becca Puglisi recommends choosing the right job for your character. Writers Helping Writers

Nathan Bransford: writing a book is a time game.

Dr. Moiya McTier explains what constellations mean to different cultures. Fate & Fabled | PBS Storied

Story theme: definition and examples for a controlling idea. Story Grid

Chris Winkle examines six types of downward turning points. Then, Oren Ashkenazi discusses five conflicts with weak turning points, and how to fix them. Mythcreants

Angie Hodapp is zeroing in on comps (part 2). Pub Rants

This story will break your heart—The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. Tale Foundry

Anna Russell enters the secret life of Beatrix Potter. The New Yorker

Erin Somers reports how editorial resignations at big houses spark reckoning. Publishers Lunch

Jonah Berger analyzes the science of blockbusters: what makes a good story? University of Pennsylvania, Wharton

Why Game of Thrones already feels dated. The Take

Allegra Hyde considers what makes a great opening line. Literary Hub

Anne Delaney unpacks filler words and floor holders: the sounds our thoughts make. JSTOR Daily

Thanks for spending some time with me, and I hope you found something to support your current work in progress, whatever stage it’s at.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Feb 13-19, 2022

It’s the last tipsday of February! Fuel up on informal writerly learnings for the week.

Roz Morris explains how to write a novel with multiple points of view—seven voices. Nail Your Novel

Raya’s queerbaiting of Southeast Asians – the importance of cultural context to queerness (part 3 of SEA critique of Raya and the Last Dragon). Xiran Jay Zhao

Ann Marie Nieves: PR and marketing questions answered, part VI. Dave King recommends cutting your way to freedom. Then, Barbara Linn Probst shares something that might not actually be true. Porter Anderson: ego, “litflation,” and honor(s). Tom Pope is creating without hope and fear. Writer Unboxed

How do we read? It’s Magic (almost)! Be Smart

K.M. Weiland explains how archetypes and story structure are connected. Helping Writers Become Authors

Joanna Penn interviews C. Ruth Taylor about self-publishing in Jamaica and the Caribbean and the importance of diverse voices. The Creative Penn

On worldbuilding: fallen civilizations. Hello, Future Me

Alexander J. Lewis shares his experience going a year without social media as a freelance writer. Peter Desberg and Jeffrey Davis explain how to pitch like a Hollywood pro. Jane Friedman

Christina Delay takes the measure of a character. Then, Fred Koehler takes you from concept to query in ten months. Writers Helping Writers

Well, THIS seems familiar … Jill Bearup

Nathan Bransford explains how to crystalize the stakes.

Colice Sanders wants you to answer the call for diversity. Then, Disha Walia lists the seven deadly sins of speculative fiction (and how to fix them). Lori Walker: going from preparing to write to actually writing. Alexis M. Collazo shares five reasons to start a morning writing routine. DIY MFA

Dealing with writer burnout. Reedsy

Lynette M. Burroughs: things I wish I knew before I published (pat 2). Writers in the Storm

Angie Hodapp is zeroing in on comps (part 1). Then, Kristin Nelson wants you to dance with the right partner at the publishing prom. Pub Rants

Possibly controversial. Rules vs. Craft. Shaelin Writes

Oren Ashkenazi: how useful are Jonathan Franzen’s ten rules for novelists? Mythcreants

Cory Doctorow reveals that a bug in early creative commons licences has enables a new breed of superpredator. Medium

Promises as a magic system. Tale Foundry

Anne Delaney discusses words on the way in: a retrospective. JSTOR Daily

Ellen Gutoskey shares 11 things you should know about Audre Lorde. Mental Floss

Thank you for taking the time to stop by, and I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Jan 16-22, 2022

It’s the last tipsday of January 2022. Get your informal writerly learnings to see you through the week.

Disha Walia is debunking myths about speculative fiction. Then, Ambre Dawn Leffler suggests you bring coziness to winter writing with hygge. Pamela Taylor shows you where to start with historical fiction. Then, Barb Geiger says, no really. Show. Don’t tell. DIY MFA

The pretty girl trope. The Take

Katey Schultz is getting off the hamster wheel. Then, Jan O’Hara shares what her pup taught her about writing. Dave King reveals how to learn to write. Then, Barbara Linn Probst is finding the path to authenticity. Porter Anderson explores the inevitable näiveté of the past. Writer Unboxed

10 tips for writing strong dialogue. Reedsy

Harrison Demchick explains the roles of causality and plot structure in literary fiction. Then, Jane shows you how to plan and host worthwhile online events. Jane Friedman

Ellen Brock explains how to write the status quo in your novel.

Lisa Hall-Wilson reveals how to use physical pain to show a character’s past trauma. Then, Michelle Barker shows you how self-editing can take your novel to the next stage. Writers Helping Writers

Is there any hope for the Netflix adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender? Hello, Future Me

Angela Ackerman says that if you want your characters to stand out, give them a skill. Then, Lynette M. Burrows shares the things she wishes she knew before she published (part 1). Jenny Hansen shares two aha-moments that boosted her writing confidence. Writers in the Storm

Erica Brozovsky asks, is swearing good for your brain? Otherwords | PBS Storied

Chris Winkle helps you outline a short story in seven steps. Then, Oren Ashkenazi explains how Sanderson bungled culture in Way of Kings. Mythcreants

Dune: why do people even like this book? Tale Foundry

Kristen Lamb examines the relation between branding and attention: busy brains in a busy world.

Angie Hodapp discusses kishōtenketsu and non-western story structures. Pub Rants

The gaslit Disney Princess. The Take

Nina Munteanu: when we burn books

Natalie Zutter says that there are no heroes or villains in Station Eleven, just fans. Tor.com

Reeves Wiedeman delves into the mystery of the spine collector. Vulture

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, my writerly friends.

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Dec 12-18, 2021

You’ve made it through Monday. Reward yourself with some informal writerly learnings 🙂

Richelle Lyn is discovering the art of book coaching. Then, Gabriela Pereira interviews Sacha Black about crafting your side characters. Amanda Polick reveals three ways the holidays can revive your book. Then Kerry Chaput delves into HERstory, the woman’s side of history. Melanie Moyer recommends five sci-fi books about humans creating artificial intelligence. DIY MFA

Princess Weekes explains why we keep retelling Persephone’s story. Melina Pendulum

K.M. Weiland examines the two halves of the climactic moment. Helping Writers Become Authors

Christina Delay wants you to use awe to spark creativity. Then, Lucy V. Hay explains how to write a compelling antihero. Writers Helping Writers

What are foil characters? Reedsy

Jenny Hansen shares the dreams and confessions of a disorganized writer. Then, Lynette M. Burrows offers 35 tips to a healthier writer you in 2022. Lori Freeland returns with to comma, or not to comma (part 2). Writers in the Storm

Joanna Penn interviews Lisa Cron about Story or Die. The Creative Penn

Elizabeth S. Craig: common mistakes that pull readers out of stories.

Emily Zarka reveals the origins of Krampus, the yuletide monster. Monstrum | PBS Storied

Jim Dempsey sees the future in stories. Then, Barbara Linn Probst takes a closer look at trusting the reader. Porter Anderson gets provocative about chaos, coherence, and the dream of a narrative. Writer Unboxed

Kimberly Fernando provides seven steps for tackling a revise and resubmit (R&R). Jane Friedman

Chris Winkle presents six archetypes for sidekicks. Then, Oren Ashkenazi explains how Martha Wells fell into some toxic tropes: building the Raksura.  Mythcreants

The good girl trope—why women can’t win. The Take

Angie Hodapp discusses reactive goals vs. proactive goals. Pub Rants

Nina Munteanu: the Witch’s Hat and other fungi tales.

Rebecca Nicholson interviews Carrie-Anne Moss: “There was a scene in the first Matrix with me in stilettos. I could barely stand straight.” The Guardian

Inverse interviews Shohreh Aghdashloo about Chrisjen Avasarala and the final season of The Expanse.

Minyvonne Burke and Michelle Garcia: acclaimed author and activist bell hooks dies at 69. NBC News

Cassie Da Costa hails the second coming of Octavia E. Butler. Vanity Fair

Vincent Schilling announces that Reservation Dogs [loved it!] nominated for a Golden Globe. Indian Country Today

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

Happy solstice and cool yule, to those (like me) who celebrate!

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

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Sept 26-Oct 2, 2021

Welcome to October, my favourite month of the year 🙂 It’s all informal writerly learning treats and no tricks, all month long.

Erika Liodice explores the creative connection between travel and writing. Then, Robin LaFevers is navigating self-doubt. Jennie Nash recommends seven business books every writer should read. Then, Julie Carrick Dalton advises you about knowing when NOT to write. Deanna Cabinian examines the time vs. productivity paradox. Writer Unboxed

Kristen Lamb shares five simple ways to finish a book by making (not finding) time. Then, Cait Reynolds wonders, is podcasting the new blog? Kristen Lamb

Tim Hickson talks soft worldbuilding. Hello, Future Me

K.M. Weiland introduces us to the archetypal antagonists for the king arc: cataclysm and rebel. Helping Writers Become Authors

Susan DeFreitas: can fiction make a difference in the world? Jane wonders whether Black voices in publishing is a trend or a movement. Then, Jane considers what authors earn from digital lending at libraries. Jane Friedman

Shaelin helps you draft a short story. Reedsy

Following up on her last instalment on planting bugs, Piper Bayard explains how to find bugs (writing spies). Then, Kris Maze compares pros and cons of using Scrivener and Plottr for outlining. Writers in the Storm

Elizabeth Spann Craig looks at the pros and cons of outlining.

Death worms: fact or fiction? Monstrum | PBS Storied

Joanna Penn and Mark Leslie Lefebvre discuss co-authoring The Relaxed Writer. The Creative Penn

Nathan Bransford explains when to get feedback on your novel. Then, Shalene Gupta reveals how to make and keep writer friends. Nathan Bransford

Richelle Lyn is challenging a genre identity crisis. Then, T.J. Torres offers some advice for committed BIPOC writers. DIY MFA

The “white trash” trope and its hidden agenda. The Take

Sofia Jeppsson clears up seven misconceptions about madness and psychosis. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five movies critics loved but audiences hated. Mythcreants

Richard Marpole says that you’re writing medieval fantasy wrong. Fantasy Faction

Kristin Nelson reveals the connection between velocity, volume, interval, and the New York Times Bestseller List. Then, Angie Hodapp reveals that genre isn’t everything and high concept isn’t king. Pub Rants

How to tell she’s definitely not a Mary Sue. The Take

All the LOLs: the hilarious dictionary of Finnish language and culture. Design You Trust

Allison Flood announces that Laura Jean McKay wins the Arthur C. Clarke Award. The Guardian

Thank you for taking the time to visit, and I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress.

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

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 15-21, 2021

You’ve made it through Monday! Reward yourself with some informal writerly learnings 🙂

Vaughn Roycroft is living with unpublished characters. Then, Barbara O’Neal is finding the particular. Barbara Linn Probst considers writing: is it an art, identity, or profession? Why not all three? Later in the week, Porter Anderson gets provocative about flights of self-censorship. Then, Kelsey Allagood explains how creation myths affect character motivation. Writer Unboxed

Princess Weekes explains how true crime reveals the corruption and failures of the legal system. Melina Pendulum

K.M. Weiland explains why you should always identify your characters, pronto. Helping Writers Become Authors

Jane (herself) says, the value of book distribution is often misunderstood by authors. Then, Tiffany Yates Martin shares the secret to a tight, propulsive plot: the want, the action, the shift. Sangeeta Mehta interviews agents Michelle Brower and Jennifer Chen Tran about whether you should publish with a small press. Jane Friedman

Related: E.J. Wenstrom shares what she’s learned in six years of small press publishing. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Story structures: In medias res. Reedsy

Melinda VanLone offers some advice for branding a series. Then, Lisa Norman lists seven things every author website needs. Miffie Seideman offers some helpful advice on writing about drugs: Fentanyl 101. Writers in the Storm

Andrea Turrentine shares two key factors in successfully outlining stories. Live, Write, Thrive

Rayne Hall lists 11 reasons you should submit your short stories to anthologies. Then, Janice Hardy wonders, why ask why? Because your readers will. Bonnie Randall considers the risks and rewards of uncommon narrative structures. Fiction University

Nathan Bransford advises what to cut when your book is too long. Nathan Bransford

Seven-point story structure. Reedsy

Ambre Dawn Lefler wants you to be a conference guru. Then, Susan Francis Morris explains how writing helped her live life after trauma. Later in the week, LA Bourgeois offers five ways to trick yourself into writing. DIY MFA

E.J. Wenstrom explains why we need ADHD representation in fiction. Terribleminds

Christina Delay is breaking free. Writers Helping Writers

Chris Winkle: what do writers need to describe? Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five characters with the wrong skill set. Mythcreants

Why it’s time to write out the nag. The Take

Angie Hodapp introduces us to the trinity of premise, plot, and prose. What happens when one is missing? Then, Kristin Nelson shares 14 reasons why agenting is harder now than it was 20 years ago. Pub Rants

Nina Munteanu: to boldly go where no human has gone before ….

Rebecca Thomas explores Mi’kmaw language in poetry collection: I Place you into the Fire. CBC’s The Next Chapter

Vicky Qiao reports that Ojibway journalist and author Tanya Talaga to write three new nonfiction books. The first will be published in 2023. CBC

Thank you for taking the time to visit. I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress.

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

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, July 18-24, 2021

It’s the last tipsday of July? Where the hell has the time gone? And so fast? Ah well, console yourselves with some informal writerly learnings.

Jan O’Hara shares what an unnatural book marketer learned while Marie Kondo-ing her house. Then, Dave King exposes the dangers of editing. Barbara Linn Probst explains what to do when you take a break from your work in progress. Heather Webb says, when the going gets tough, the though get going (in publishing). Late in the week, John J. Kelley offers some tips for when characters meet: close encounters of he initial kind. Writer Unboxed

What is Toph’s character arc? Hello, Future Me

K.M. Weiland: why everyone should write (even if you think you stink). Helping Writers Become Authors

Angela Ackerman promotes writing character descriptions that hook readers. Then, Sudha Balagopal encourages you to flavor your fiction with foreign expressions. Later in the week, Ellen Buikema encourages you to think about why you’ve chosen the road to writing. Writers in the Storm

Copyediting vs. proofreading. Reedsy

Bonnie Randall helps you access deep point of view via description (and a writing exercise). Fiction University

Nathan Brandford wants you to try to separate process from product (outcomes).

Is your book ready for an editor? Reedsy

E.J. Wenstrom shows you how to plan an online book launch. Then, Sara Farmer considers classic girl detectives. Gabriela Pereira interviews Brandie June about character dynamics in a fairy tale retelling. Later in the week, Kim Catanzarite shares five copyediting mistakes you’re probably making (and how to eradicate them). DIY MFA

El Silbón: The Deadly Whistler of the South American Grasslands. Monstrum | PBS Storied

Angie Hodapp shares four ways to create inter-character conflict. Pub Rants

Becca Puglisi helps you figure out whether fight, flight, or freeze is your character’s default response. Writers Helping Writers

Chris Winkle explains how to make large conflicts exciting. Mythcreants

Chimera: mythology’s magical multi-species monster. Tale Foundry

Kathleen Newman-Bremang: it isn’t just Gossip Girl—TV has a major colorism problem. Refinery 29

35 Canadian books to check out this summer. CBC Books

Phil Pirello introduces us to the version of Aliens we never saw. SyFy

Kim Stanley Robinson considers the novel solutions of utopian fiction. The Nation

Davide Tristan: one megahit later, we check in with the creator of Enola Holmes. ABC27

Vicky Qaio reports that Canadian authors C.L. Polk and Silvia Moreno-Garcia among World Fantasy Award finalists. CBC books

Neda Ulaby: when your book publishes in a pandemic. NPR

And that was tipsday. Thanks for taking the time to visit, and I hope you found something to support your current work in progress.

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

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 30-Sept 5, 2020

Starting a short week with a Tuesday-that-feels-like-a-Monday is tough. Fortify yourselves with some informal writerly learnings.

First: Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter.

#pandemiclife is entering its sixth month and there’s no end in sight even though everyone has covid brain and is exhausted by the restraint and safety restrictions.

Today marked the return to schools for most children in Ontario. I wish them well, but I still worry. We’ve been told to expect a bump in infections, like it’s acceptable to sacrifice children’s and teachers’ and their families’ health.

Please wear your masks, respect social distancing, wash your hands, and stay safe.

Nancy Johnson explains what it’s like writing while Black in times like these. Kristan Hoffman hopes you’ll try these ideas to stay active in your writing life. Donald Maass wonders what—and how much—belongs in your novel? Erika Liodice explains how to give an out-of-print book new life through self-publishing. Liza Nash Taylor says she’s late to the party: on being a debut novelist at 60. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland shares seven considerations for your antagonist’s motivations (which will save you so much trouble). Helping Writers Become Authors

Orly Konig: suspenders for pantsers. Fiction University

James Scott Bell describes hanging upside down and other creative moves. Writers Helping Writers

The feminist trope explained. The Take

Jenn Walton: sweet writing is made of dreams. Then, Brenda Joyce Patterson explains how to establish a literary mentorship. Later in the week, Neha Mediratta wonders, are you giving yourself a chance? Then, A.R. Taylor offers five tips for creating your villain. DIY MFA

What is a motif? How is it different from theme and symbol? And how can you use motif in your writing? Reedsy

Joe Ponepinto advises that if you want to avoid rejection, take the writer out of the story. Jane Friedman

Angie Hodapp says, your protagonist must fail. Pub Rants

Jami Gold considers the black moment: understanding our options.

Shaelin explains how to raise your story’s stakes. Reedsy

Chris Winkle lists nine options for high stakes conflict without violence. Oren Ashkenazi: The Umbrella Academy shows us why it’s important to plan your powers. Mythcreants

Kristen Lamb explains how story forges and refines character.

Rahil Sheikh introduces us to Kuli Kohli: “They wanted to drown me a birth—now, I’m a poet.” BBC

Thank you for visiting and I hope that you found something that will support your current work in progress.

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

The next chapter: August 2016 update

Let me tell you a story 🙂

Dark season

Over the last couple of years, August has been a bad month for me, emotionally speaking.

I’ve been down. Living with depression, if you do it consciously, means that you can see the signs and take action, or not, whatever is most appropriate for your mental health at the time. Trying to barge through rarely works. For me, anyway.

Last year, I was away from home, delivering training, for two and a half weeks in August. I thought London was a lovely city, and I did enjoy myself to the extent I could—I even went shopping (!) and if you know me, you know I hate shopping of any kind with a passion—but it was too far away for me to go home on the weekends, and I had discovered earlier in the year how much more difficult it was for me to write or blog while travelling. So except for curation, I gave over.

Writing on the road isn’t undoable, and I have put on my big girl panties and done it since (I started NaNoWriMo while travelling last year), but, at the time, I was at a low ebb, and sometimes you have to be kind to yourself.

This year, I went to Kansas City for WorldCon and stayed an extra day or so to visit with a friend who’d moved down there several years ago. More on WorldCon in a bit. The bottom line is that health issues and my introvert nature (exacerbated by my emotional low) conspired to rob the trip of some of its joy.

Remembering what had happened last year, I had even planned for the dog-day doldrums. I figured I’d have the first run-through of all my drafted novels done by August (and I did) and that I would need a little break (and I did).

My plan to turn to other projects, though, didn’t work out as well as I’d thought. I worked on some short fiction, made a few submissions (a rejection from one of which was returned within a week), but I never touched the poetry collection or the non-speculative short fiction collection. I just didn’t have the heart.

I journalled, trying to work out what my plan for the rest of the year would look like and trying to find my way back to what is, for me, normal. I also participated in a Nelson Literary Agency workshop on first pages with Angie Hodapp.

Though the initial review of my first five pages wasn’t horrible, I wanted to try something completely different for the revision, see if the advice of the readers would work. It was a spectacular failure, but I learned a lot from the experience.

You really do have to fail to learn, even if it’s painful 🙂

I’m now delving back into Initiate of Stone, working long hand in a notebook. Sometimes you just have to write it out. I find that writing long hand helps give me the time to examine the words and sentences, and get a fresh perspective.

I can now also disclose that I did not succeed with my application to #PitchWars. Reality Bomb was the project I chose for that experience. I didn’t expect to get in this first year of applying, but one pair of mentors, Michael Mammay and Dan Koboldt, was very supportive. They asked for additional materials, a synopsis and first 50 pages.

Our email exchanges in that first week or so were productive and illuminating for me. I now have some great ideas to return to that manuscript with. So, ultimately, #PitchWars was a win.

This brings me to another realization of why this year has been a difficult one for me.

Last year was the year of almost. I got on several long and short lists in contests, had my work set aside for second readings for anthologies, and while it didn’t result in any publications, the nature of the responses was reassuring. I also had a couple of stories accepted into the Sudbury Writers’ Guild anthology, which should be coming out this fall.

This year, with the exception of #PitchWars, has been the year of no. Form rejections all around, whether from querying or from short fiction submissions. Though I have, to some extent, found a way to turn rejection into a positive, when so many pile up, it becomes disheartening.

You begin to question your worth and skill as a writer, to doubt the kind things that have been said about your work (because there are so few of them, relatively speaking, that they must be the flukes, you reason). You begin to look for those opportunities to confirm your negative bias, blow small faux pas into huge incidents. Reasonable lapses in communication become the occasion for self-blame and recrimination.

Fortunately, since my return from Kansas City, I’ve been coming across the most wonderful articles and posts that have given me the encouragement I’ve needed, some of which you’ll see in this week’s curation. Between that, and the long hand work I’ve been doing on IoS, I’m making my way back to the page.

WorldCon

I’d left with the best of intentions and wanted to practice Gabriela Pereira’s method of networking with a number of authors I’d only ever seen online. In the moment, though, I was so nervous, I basically blathered.

I did get to meet and have a couple of nice, brief chats with Mary Robinette Kowal, met Cat Cambo and Foz Meadows at their Literary Beer sessions (informal chats), but otherwise, I just did my usual and took notes in panel discussions.

I was within three feet of George R.R. Martin, but as he was just coming out of the second of two autographing sessions in which fans lined up for the better part of an hour to see him, I just couldn’t bring myself to be that fan. Instead, I smiled, nodded, and moved on without harassing the poor man.

I had gone to the Tor Party with the intention of meeting John Scalzi, but several people seemed to be running interference and by the time I was able to politely make my excuses, Mr. Scalzi was monopolized by other Tor authors and friends. After that, he turned his attention to his beautiful wife and, again, I could not bring myself to interrupt just to say “hi, and thank you for writing wonderful books.”

Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian, or an introvert, or both, but I just couldn’t.

I’m also a total newb and have no clue with regard to what’s appropriate and what’s not in which context.

The Hugo Awards Ceremonies were wonderful, though, and the sad puppies were soundly trounced.

N.K. Jemesin won best novel for The Fifth Season, Nnedi Okorafor won best novella for Binti, Hao Jingfang and Ken Liu (translator) won best novelette for Folding Beijing, and Neil Gaiman (who wasn’t there in person) had a special message for the sad puppies when he won best graphic story for The Sandman: Overture.

Really, you can just go to the Hugo Awards site and check out all the winners. Diversity was the word of the evening.

It was a great event, but at the end, I felt like I needed a vacation to get over my vacation 🙂

I returned home with a whopping case of imposter’s syndrome, though. I’d met and seen and learned from all of these authors, many of whom I read and respect. Who am I, with my two publications in what the Science Fiction Writers Association (SFWA) considers “token” markets, to think that I can get a traditional deal in a market that’s more competitive than ever?

When I confided my doubts to Phil, his response was that print publishing was on its way to extinction and why would I want that, anyway? So not what I needed to hear, but I forgave him instantly. Though he is very supportive of me and my creative calling, he, like most non-writers, will never understand what it’s like to be in my neurotic wee skull.

But, as I said, I’m surfacing now. I have no further conventions I’ve committed to (having used up my budget for such things) and the only challenge I’ve set for myself is to get through another revision of IoS and Apprentice of Wind before I tackle the third novel in the series for NaNoWriMo.

I still want to get back to the poetry collection and the non-speculative short fiction collection, but neither is a big priority for me at the moment.

I’m taking my time with the short fiction. Some of my stories are actually the seeds of novels. I have to set those aside in their own project folders for the future, and then get on with revising and submitting what I have. Who knows? I may even surprise myself and write some more new stories. It has been known to happen.

In the meantime, I’ve applied for my winter leave at work and am crossing my fingers.

Persistent payroll issues may affect my application for another leave with income averaging. Until things are sorted out, the powers that be may recommend against such special considerations. I may have to defer again until next year.

It won’t be the worst thing that’s ever happened, but Phil and I are ready to look for another furry dependent. I need the five weeks for acclimatization and training. We’d rather it be sooner than later, but we’ll be patient if we must.

Having a new puppy in the spring would probably be more convenient (she says, mentally willing leave approval).

And then there are the renovations to consider, but that’s another post. Probably several 😉

The month in writing

August was sparse as far as writing goes. Aside from the blog, from which I took a vacation for WorldCon, the only writing I did was to finish off the one short story I was working on.

AugustProgress

6,451 words on the blog and 901 words on the short story. 7,362 altogether. That’s literally all she wrote.

I didn’t revise a thing. Fortunately, because I met or exceeded my revision goals in every other month so far this year, I’m not that far behind.

I didn’t count the minor revisions I did to the stories I submitted, or any of the journalling or long hand writing I did.

Besides, I wasn’t anticipating (until part way through the year) that I’d return to IoS, so I don’t have a column for that on my spreadsheet. I could make one. I have the skill, but I don’t want to take the time to do it now. Yes. I know. Lazy Mellie.

I’m getting my mojo back. The writing’s the thing.

Science fiction is the literature of ideas. It is the great “what if?” that leads us into the future. Fantasy is the literature of (im)possibility. It longingly wonders “If only . . .” and whispers in our dreams. I write both and I think I’m pretty damned lucky.

And that’s it until next month.

I hope you’re all experiencing great creative breakthroughs and are satisfied with what you’ve done. In the end, that’s all that matters.

Be well!

The Next Chapter