The next chapter weekly: March 12-18, 2023

It’s week 11! Spring is just around the corner, and it really feels like it. More mild days of melting snowbanks and mixed precipitation that’s more rain than snow. We may not see the snow plough again this year. Crossing fingers, knocking on wood, and all that jazz.

Onto the esoterica!

From the tarot, I drew The Lovers. The Lovers represents relationship, choice, perpetual bond, cooperation, love versus infatuation, and trust. This very much where my head is at these days. I’ve settled into a kind of new normal, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of Phil as he continues to heal.

With regard to that, there’s good news and bad news. Thanks to an online search, Phil’s finally found a comfortable way to sleep in the bed that supports his arm and shoulder. So long, La-Z-Boy! He’s also been helping some with meals and even coming in for hugs (!) I’m gentle. The exercises from physio are helping, as well. He’s got a new set to add to what he’s already doing.

The bad news? Those same hospital web sites advised that it could be up to 18 MONTHS for him to fully heal, and even then, he might not have full range of motion. We’re thinking that the 18 months is for the soft tissue damage associated with the break, though, rather than the break itself.

I’m sure he’ll be nominally functional by mid-May. If not earlier.

And here’s a retcon. What I’ve been calling the Celtic oracle is actually the Shaman’s Pack. Oops. This week, I pulled the Circle of Nine. The Circle of Nine represents the second circle. It’s a veilish place where the mundane world yields a portal to elsewhere. The key word is experience.

Sorry about the lighting ….

Do I have enough experience to cross over and surrender to the other world? I don’t know, but it’s nice to have the opportunity presented, even if I ultimately decide to decline. Yaknow, due to life stuff.

The week in writing

Again, it was just blogging for the week. I did a little work on my presentation, but I’m not tracking that.

I blogged 1,875 words for the week and 4,535 words for the month to date.

My early-bird application for Your Personal Odyssey was rejected again. Though I’m still in the running for the remaining spots, I’m not hopeful. Once again, they’ve been inundated with applications. It’s their most popular program yet, I think.

But … my applicant profile to the Canada Council for the Arts, which I submitted on Sunday, was approved! I’ll be focusing for the remainder of the month on submitting a few grant applications.

The first will be to the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (CSFFA AKA the Aurora Awards). They have a professional development grant, and the application seems fairly straightforward. That deadline is March 31st. The next will be to the Access Copyright Foundation also for a professional development grant (due April 1st) and the third (and more intimidating, TBH) will be an Explore and Create grant from the CCA, due April 5th. It will be my first attempt at all three, so I don’t anticipate success, but you can’t win if you don’t play, and the experience will be worthwhile. I’ll have documentation I can use for future applications, even if I have to change out the specific details.

Next month, I’ll be shifting gears for the next Ontario Arts Council Northern Arts Grant, due May 2nd.

Maybe this is the new world I’m entering? The next phase of professional writing life?

I’ve been thinking that if my webinar goes well, of starting up a podcast about neurodivergent creatives (which may be the focus for a future grant application).

Yeah … maybe this is a new world I’m entering. Frightening, yet exciting.

Filling the well

I had no writerly events scheduled this week but did watch the replay of Dan Blank’s Find Your Ideal Audience, which I signed up for last Friday. I try to keep at least one toe in the social media/marketing/promotion pool 🙂

I had a dentist’s appointment and had a very thorough cleaning of my teeth.

And I took Phil to his physio appointment on Friday. Progress is being made. The physiotherapist and Phil are very pleased.

What I’m watching and reading

I finished watching The Flash, season 8 (Netflix). This poor show. It long ago jumped the shark (which is sad because the actors are good) and nearly every season treads familiar ground. Season 9 episodes are already populating. Fortunately, there are only 13. The completionist in me wants to see this thing through. If you want a thorough critique, I’ll refer you to Friendly Space Ninja’s analysis of the series 🙂

I also watched the last episode of season 1 of The Last of Us (HBO). I haven’t played the game and honestly don’t want to. The series was great, though. I love Bella Ramsey as Ellie and Pedro Pascale as Joel. There’s a lot of tragedy and a lot of violence, but there’s also a lot of pathos. Loved.

Then, I finished watching the third and last (ever—the series has been cancelled) season of Pennyworth (HBO/network). As bloody and wacky as ever, but the series ends on a weird cliffhanger. Alfie’s about to say “I do” to Sandra after the main cast and a group of PWEs (read enhanced—this is DC) have escaped a London gone mad on milk laced with Lullaby (a psychoactive drug with murderous side effects) when a mushroom cloud erupts in the distance. The Waynes have one child at this point. A girl. Where’s Bruce? And I don’t remember Batman having a sister ….

Next, Phil and I finished watching the second and last season of Carnival Row (Amazon). It was clear they changed tack partway through the season, eliminating the political thread in a bloody massacre. Vignette can’t decide what she wants, a life with the Ravens, with Philo, or with Tourmeline. Philo almost gets himself killed every other episode. And our runaway lovebirds are quickly corralled by a revolutionary group called the New Dawn, which has a nefarious plan that fizzles in the final episode when the main agitator kills herself rather than be taken into custody. It was all very rushed. They probably could have used a few more seasons to tell the various stories properly, but they did manage to tie things up in the end. More or less ….

Finally, I watch Three Thousand Years of Longing (Amazon). Based on A.S. Byatt’s short story collection, The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, the movie focuses on a narratologist, Alithea Binnie, who releases a djinn from a bottle and resists the temptation to make her wishes because every wish tale is a cautionary one. Beautiful, lush, and emotionally devastating. It’s too bad it didn’t do better in NA theatres. Loved!

In books, I finished Simon Sinek’s Start with Why, a long-ago recommendation from Gabriela Pereira.  Good, but repetitive. The principles can be applied to both my day job and my writing business, as well as the writing itself.

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

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

The next chapter weekly: March 5-11, 2023

Welcome to week ten of 2023! Yes, I’m going to keep counting them. I hope you’re enjoying these #actuallyautistic, paganish author-in-progress check-ins.

This week, I drew The World card from the tarot. This card represents realization, triumph, closure, attainment, reward, and fulfillment. Seems an odd card to be pulling now, when I’m consciously uncoupling from my writing to focus on other things.

Maybe that’s the realization. That this pause/retreat/whatever is necessary, and that I will return with renewed fervour when the time comes. I can always hope.

In the Celtic oracle, I pulled The Lord of the Underworld. That’s Arawn. The card represents unpredictability, the cyclical ceding of power, and transformation.

Again, from the Mabinogion, Pwyll enters into an agreement with Arawn to exchange places for a year and fight Arawn’s enemy Hafgan (lord of another underworld kingdom). This battle can be thematically tied to the battle between the Holly and Oak kings at the solstices when they each cede to the other protection of the world for the coming six months.

Arawn, with his antlers and red-eared hounds, is also associated with the Wild Hunt and Herne the Hunter/Cerunos.

So, again, if I’m not misinterpreting, I’m ceding my power (writing) for a season (the 8-12 weeks it will take Phil to heal), and it will be transformative. Gonna try to channel that wild power and see where it takes me.

This week also saw the full worm moon, or the moon of the crusted snow (and boy, is it ever crusted!) in Virgo. Still struggling with sleep hygiene, though I’m generally getting to be by midnight, and I’ve managed 11:30, which is my goal bedtime once or twice. Yay, me! I added to that continued goal the gentle release of my guilt for not writing.

The week in writing

While the only tracked writing I did was on this blog, I did get a couple of projects organized.

I started working on my presentation for SF Canada and Canadian Authors on being The #ActuallyAutistic Author. It won’t be scheduled until sometime in June or July, so I have time. Not much progress yet, but the PowerPoint is started. I have a rough outline that I’m working from. This is something I can do in dribs and drabs.

I also grabbed a bunch of old blog posts and combined them in one document. I’ve been mulling a creative non-fiction/hybrid project (including some poetry) re-envisioning my creative life through the lens of my autism diagnosis. So far, it’s only been copy and paste (copypasta) work, but soon, I might shape it into something a little more robust.

I blogged 1,543 words for the week, and 2,660 words for the month so far.

Filling the well

TWUC held its monthly Ontario open mic night on Tuesday. I didn’t read, but I enjoyed the work of those who did. I may read at a future TWUC open mic. I need to start getting out there again. My debut poetry collection is just over a year from publication (April 2024!).

On Wednesday, SF Canada held its special general meeting (again). This time, we got quorum, and a fifth member of the board was acclaimed. W00t!

I signed up for a Susan DeFreitas webinar, “The Heart of Story,” through Jane Friedman and watched the replay. Excellent, as ever.

On Saturday, I attended a webinar on grant writing with Lindsay Zier-Vogel sponsored by The FOLD Academy. It was awesome. I’m going to be diving into the grant app trenches again shortly.

What I’m watching and reading

My brain is a sieve. Forgot that I’d watched The Shape of Water (Amazon) Saturday last week. It was lovely, every inch of it. I’ve been wanting to watch it for years.

This week, I watched a documentary. Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me (Apple +). She’s lived a fascinating life. Beiber, leukemia (twice), and mental health struggles. It was inspiring to see that she addressed her issues with connection and good works.

I also finished the first season of The Winchesters (network). An interesting look at the origins of John and Mary Winchester and their hunting lives. Love Carlos and Lathika. The big bad of this alternate reality of the Supernatural universe was overpowered, though, and the finale was a little Dean x machina 🙂 but it was enjoyable.

I listened to a fun paranormal romance, Witches Get Stuff Done by Molly Harper (Audible Originals). Light and tropey and a little explicit (for those who might object to such content). The audiobook is a relaxing listen, but it’s not well written …. For example, “I heard the squeak as the ghost silently loosened the screws on the chandelier.” Or the guy hit in the head by said chandelier, blood pooling as he bleeds out, having the wherewithal to speak coherently and throw an important piece of paper into a lit fireplace. I mean, have you ever tried tossing a bit of paper, even folded up, from a prone position? Physics will frustrate the effort. Despite that, it was about the speed of my brain this week, and I enjoyed it.

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

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

The next chapter weekly: Feb 26-March 4, 2023

Greetings, folks! Welcome to March and week nine of 2023 🙂

In the tarot, I drew the six of swords. This card represents journeys, experiences, forgiveness, and optimism. Well, I’m certainly on a journey and hoping for a better place to land in the future.

In the Celtic oracle, I drew the Son. This card represents Mabon. You may remember a few weeks ago, when I drew the Eagle, that Culhwch was tasked with finding Mabon and consulted the eagle on his journey.

Mabon is the eternal child and may mean recapturing my youthful joy and playfulness. It’s something I’ve said I want to do. Can I actually do it?

Something I’ve neglected to mention in past NCW posts was that I’ve been reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (finally). Healing and reconnecting with the artist within, who is a child, plays a big role in TAW.

The week in writing

Once again, it was a “catch as catch can” kind of week. And all I managed this week was blogging.

So, 1,550 words for the week, 6,815 total for February, and 1,117 for March.

I’m settling into the fact that this enforced break could be a good thing for me and my projects. I probably need some time and distance before I dive back in. Yes, I managed to cut a chunk of words a couple days last week, but if I keep exploiting opportunities like this, I may be courting burnout.

It’s one thing to write (or revise) at every opportunity when your life is otherwise uncomplicated. It’s another when you have full time job and caregiver responsibilities at home. I’m going to give myself a break and, hopefully dive back in with energy when the time comes.

It’s not that I’m not thinking about my projects or making notes or dreaming of other things I’d like to do. So, part of me is still very much dwelling in writerland 🙂

Filling the well

While I had nothing scheduled for the week, I finally watched the TWUC tax webinar replay. It will be more useful to me when I have a book (next year … it’s coming …).

And then, on a whim, I signed up for a webinar on writing Native American characters.

Other than that, I was focused on balancing work, caregiving, and self-care. My mother-in-law delivered about a week’s worth of meals from Smith’s. Phil and I enjoyed the fajitas Saturday evening.

I’ve decided that I’m going to stop being stubborn and proud and accept the help people are offering. It will make life easier in the coming weeks.

What I’m watching and reading

I watched the first season of Mayfair Witches (AMC). Honestly, I’m disappointed.

I missed the latest iteration of Interview with a Vampire and was kind of kicking myself, because I’d heard good things about it from various sources. Unfortunately, AMC now has its own streaming service and I’m not subscribing to anything else, nor am I prepared to binge anything (at this point) during a free trial period. So, I didn’t want to miss this next entry into the Immortal Universe storytelling world.

The story wasn’t bad, but Rowan always felt off to me. I’m not sure whether it was the actress or the script, but I just didn’t care about her. On reflection, it may be that the book had a lot of key interiority that the writers couldn’t figure out how to show in a visual format. There’s only so much you can put into dialogue and flashback and otherworldly visions. The rest has to be carried by the actress. Rowan looked continually frightened. Until she wasn’t. And then, I got whiplash from the uncharacteristic changes in the last couple of episodes.

In reading, I finished reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. And yes, I am doing morning pages … just not necessarily in the morning. It depends on the day and what I have to do. I find that I’m already doing or have done a lot of what she recommends.

I also finished Jordan Ifueko’s Raybearer. A girl, raised in isolation, is sent to become one of the crown prince’s council of eleven. But she is bound by her mother’s wish to kill the prince when he anoints her as one of his chosen. Early on, I’ll admit to being irritated with Tarisai, but the story held me long enough for the character to mature and for the story events to carry me through.

Finally, I read Charles Dickens’ The Signalman. It’s a short story (novelette?) and I’ve read it before. I just didn’t remember until I started reading it again 🙂 A solid ghost story about a spectral visitor who foretells train-related deaths.

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

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

The next chapter weekly: Feb 19-25, 2023

Greetings, my writerly friends, and welcome to week eight of 2023 🙂

This week, I again had a repeat pick, this time from the tarot: the king of wands. Just a reminder, then, that this card represents inspiration, charisma, and natural leadership. I chose to focus on the inspiration aspect of the card last time, largely because I don’t think I’m that charismatic, nor do I exhibit natural leadership.

This time around, I think I’ll focus on the imagery in the card, rather than the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck images that I’ve been sharing. The tarot deck I’m using is the Somnia Tarot by Nicholas Bruno. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful deck and I’d rather you check out his work for yourselves.

The card shows a figure draped in white cloth sitting in profile on an austere throne in the dark. The cloth flows out from the figure to cover the floor where a candelabrum, a fallen chandelier, and several candlesticks are lit. There are two more candles at the top of the throne and a sconce extends from the king’s covered face. In the king’s hands is a book and they read by their own light. Haunting image.

It speaks to me, though. I’m in a place where, though my mind is still brimming with ideas and I have the sincere desire to write, life circumstances leave no room for creative pursuits.

I’ll have to keep my candles lit until Phil’s recovered.

cock-eyed again …

The Celtic oracle card I drew was the Boar. Boars are fearsome beasts and Celtic legend is filled hunts for magical boars, and people being killed by boars (I believe Robert Baratheon’s death by boar in GoT was inspired by this tradition).

The sow is associated with the goddess Cerridwen, the Welsh goddess of rebirth, transformation, and inspiration. Her cauldron, Awen, is one of poetic inspiration. She consumed her servant, Gwion Bach, and later birthed him as Taliesin. From the Mabinogion is Hen Wen, the oracular pig, who ate the beech nuts of the tree of wisdom.

Either way, the boar/sow represents power, something I’m in need of, right now.

Monday was the new rowan moon in Pisces. I spent some time on my intentions for the coming weeks. I want to focus on supporting Phil in his recovery and not stress about not being able to write. But … if the opportunity to write presents itself, I want to run with it.

The week in writing

As you might guess, not a lot of writing or revision happened this week. But I did manage to fit some in (!)

I received a kind rejection of one of my stories. Once again, feedback says it reads like the beginning of a longer story. It’s not, though. So, I’ll have to figure out how to tweak it into story shape. I has some ideas 🙂

Here’s how the week went.

On the 22nd and 23rd, I worked on Reality Bomb. I cut another 721 words, bringing the monthly total to -1,049, and the total to date to -1,681. It’s still a far cry from the 24k words I want to cut, but if I keep up in this vein, I should be able to make it 🙂

I also, on the 22nd, finished my freewritten outline for the remainder of Alice in Thunderland. Now I just have to go back and add in the bits and pieces the last four chapters plus epilogue require in my revision notes, and I should be good to go for the writing. If I can make the time.

I had thought that I’d already be writing the last part of Alice by now, but it wasn’t to be, so I eliminated my February writing goal for this project. We’ll see what March brings.

On the blog, I wrote 1,649 words for the week and 6,382 words for the month to date, exceeding my goal of 6,000 words. And there’s still one more tipsday before the month ends.

Filling the well

I didn’t have any writerly events to attend and tried to focus on reinforcing my reserves of energy, creative and otherwise.

I still haven’t watched the replay of the TWUC tax strategies webinar.

I’m just trying to take it easy and keep up with the household chores and errands.

What I’m watching and reading

In the viewing department, I finally finished The Rings of Power (Amazon). I see the criticisms levied against it (harfoots abandoning their people on the road, ill-timed cavalry charges, too obvious Gandalf tease), but I enjoyed it.

Then Phil and I finished season one of Lockwood and Co. (Netflix). An interesting and light YA horror series. A mysterious event in the past has turned the world (or at least the UK) into ghost central and only young people have the gifts to fight them. Most companies are headed by adults, but Lockwood and Co. is an independent, and Lucy, their newest recruit is a star who’s afraid to shine.

Then, I watched The Woman King (Crave). A-MA-zing! Viola Davis was robbed.

Moving on to the week in reading, I read Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Loved! The human race (being the human race) is on the decline. Earth is uninhabitable and off-planet settlements are struggling. In a last-ditch effort to save humanity, several teams travel to candidate planets to terraform them to support the dwindling human race. One ambitious project is seeding new life in the form of chimps (they’re only called monkeys) and a nanovirus intended to bioengineer them into a better version of humans. Only something goes wrong, and the monkeys die, but the nanovirus makes it to the planet and finds the next most intelligent creatures it can. Spiders.

Don’t let that put you off. Tchaikovsky (brilliantly) makes spiders empathetic (!) even though he writes them in omniscient.

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

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

The next chapter weekly: Feb 12-18, 2023

Greetings, all, and welcome to week 7 🙂

This week, I pulled the seven of cups from the tarot. This card represents temptations, choices, or bewilderment. This week, I was supposed to have a poetry reading, and a special general meeting for one of my writing organizations to attend. It was also predicted to be a hectic week at work with a very important project (not mine, thankfully) that had to get done.

I was thinking that I’d have to make some tough decisions and maybe not work on either Reality Bomb or Alice in Thunderland for a couple/three days. Turned out to be more than that due to an unfortunate accident (see below). This was a good reminder to be cognisant of my energy levels and plan accordingly.

In the Celtic oracle, I drew The Bride of the Waters, or Boann, goddess of the Boyne River and or poetry, fertility, and knowledge. You may remember a couple of weeks ago, when I first drew The Father/Dagda, that Boann was his mistress. It was a good omen for the poetry reading.

Here’s a little more information on Boann from the Discover Boyne Valley site.

It’s been a pretty tight grouping of interrelated cards for the past few weeks. Interesting …

So. Before I get to the week in writing, I want to tell you what happened. On Valentine’s Day, Phil slipped on some black ice in the driveway and fractured his shoulder. When he came in and told me what happened, I dissociated and went full on factual Mel. It’s how I handle crises.

I got him to the hospital, he got x-rays, a sling, and a prescription for pain, and an appointment with a specialist on Friday. He’s in a lot of pain and has to sleep (or try to) in our La-Z-boy recliner.

On Friday, the specialist confirmed that we’re doing everything we can. Surgery, thankfully, is not necessary. We’re in a holding pattern for two weeks until he’s reassessed, and physio begins. Six weeks after that, Phil might be in a position to transition back to his regular level of activity.

And he has arthritis in his shoulders, too.

Family has arranged for a snow plough to keep the driveway clear, and everyone has been offering us food. Phil just did a fairly big shop last weekend, so we have food that needs to be cooked and/or eaten first.

So, I’m doing the cleaning and some of the cooking. Phil’s stubborn that way. I’ll also be shopping, running my mom to any appointments she needs to go to, and all that jazz.

Needless to say, I have had to redirect from creative pursuits. It’s just the way it is.

The week in writing

My intention was to proceed with the next chapter/group in RB, but I decided to divert to some work in the map, reworking it to match my revamped chapters so far. I figured it would be easier to work on that periodically and then get back to working of chapter four after the hectic of the week was over.

I managed to get this done on Monday.

The good news is that I don’t have any other events or meetings scheduled for the month. Things should open up after this week.

I also wanted to finish freewriting the last chapter and epilogue for Alice, and then go over what I had and tweak until I was satisfied.

Welp, the work emergency (mentioned above) turned out not to be (an emergency), so that was a relief. But then Phil’s accident turned the rest of the week on its head. I thought I’d picked the wheel of fortune last week!

Here’s how the week turned out.

As I mentioned, I reworked the RB map for the three chapters I’d already rewritten on Monday. But I only worked on RB one day this week, the 14th. And I only got that work done while I was waiting for Phil to be released from the hospital. I reduced a further 38 words on the draft, making the monthly total -328 and the year to date total -960.

I finished freewriting chapter 28 of Alice and moved on to the epilogue (also on Monday), but I haven’t touched it since.

On the blog, I wrote 1,890 words for the week, bringing the monthly total up to 4,733.

Filling the well

I attended a Mary Robinette Kowal webinar on Diagnosing Story Problems on Sunday afternoon. The more I attend her sessions, the more I learn.

As I mentioned off the top, I had a reading on Valentine’s Day, but with Phil’s injury, I had to cancel.

I signed up for a TWUC webinar on Tax strategies for writers but will watch the replay in the future.

And then, I had a special general meeting (SGM) for SF Canada to attend. They were in need of one more board member. As I’m already on one board, I did not put my name forward. We didn’t get quorum, so we’ll be trying again in three weeks, as per the bylaws.

And … I applied for associate membership in the Science Fiction Writers Association (SFWA). It may be up to 30 days for them to assess my qualifications. I’ll get back to you about that.

What I’m watching and reading

I watched The School for Good and Evil (Netflix) on Saturday night. An interesting take on the YA magical school trope. The school teaches heroes to be heroes and villains to be villains, with an eye to maintaining balance. Occasionally readers of fairy tales get thrown into the mix, as is the case with Sophie and Agnes. And of course, there’s something wrong at the school … Entertaining. I enjoyed it.

I have to backtrack a bit for the week in reading. That I forgot I finished reading The Spectral Arctic by Shane McCorristine may tell you something about what I thought about the book. The topic was interesting enough. It’s about how ghosts, dreams, Inuit shaman, remote viewing, and other psychic phenomena played into the search for Franklin’s expedition and shaped the whole tenor of Arctic exploration for ensuing adventurers. But the book was clearly an academic dissertation and while the author included colourful citations from the likes of Charles Dickens and Margaret Atwood, it was … just … boring. Sorry.

Definitely not boring was Luane G. Smith’s The Vine Witch. A sweet paranormal romance about a winemaking witch, who, after freeing herself from a cursed life as a toad, returns to her vineyard to find it sold and the grapes suffering under several vile spells. Multiple mysteries, adventure, and, of course, smoochies.

I also finished my re-read of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys. You already know I loved the book, and the series. I didn’t mark up the book as much as I intended, but I did note some structural and stylistic patterns. It was a rewarding exercise.

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

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

The next chapter weekly: Feb 5-11, 2023

Welcome to week six of 2023!

This week, the tarot card I drew was The Wheel of Fortune. This card symbolizes infinity, boundless energy, turning point, destiny, life cycle, endless possibility, and purpose. It can represent unexpected changes, in either a positive or negative direction.

I’m seeing this card as a positive change in my life, both at work and creatively.

From the Celtic oracle deck, I pulled The Father/Dagda, for the second week in a row. And I shuffled that deck.

Pairing The Wheel of Fortune and The Dagda seems portentous.

The 5th was also the full cold moon (and moon in Leo for the astrologically inclined). I renewed my goal to rid myself of a certain kind of autistic inertia and get to bed at a reasonable hour. It’s getting better, but I’m not as rested as I need to be.

The week in writing

I worked most days on Reality Bomb and finished freewriting ideas for chapter 27 in Alice in Thunderland. I’ve moved on to chapter 28, but I’m thinking I have to rework these last four chapters before I get to the actual drafting. But I will get to it before the end of the month (!)

I took Friday and Saturday off after a full week of work. I just needed a break.

Copy edits for my forthcoming story in Pulp Literature arrived and were actioned promptly.

My application to the Writers Union of Canada (TWUC) was accepted (very quickly—within a week). I’m updating my CV, etc. today 🙂

Here’s how the week broke down:

I managed to reduce RB by a net 401 words for the week, a net -290 words for the month so far, and a net loss of 922 words on the draft overall.

I’m moving on to the next chapter using the pattern I started with Suzy, i.e., combining three chapters and paring down to a reasonable length. In RB, I have this nasty habit of repetition, like everything has to happen three times before I move on. I also write events in an inefficient order. Working on cleaning those issues up.

As I mentioned, I finished chapter 27’s freewritten outline and moved on to chapter 28 in Alice. This week, I hope to finish chapter 28, sketch out the epilogue, and tweak the whole climax and denouement in preparation for finishing the first draft.

In creating my map for Alice after drafting most of it, I’ve been marking in each chapter how it needs to change, what foreshadowing needs to be added, and how cause and effect can be strengthened. I think it’s a good approach. We’ll see how it works out and whether I want to use it for future projects.

I’ve blogged 1,615 words for the week and 2,843 words so far in the month.

Another Shaelin Writes video cracked open the concept of subtext for me. Look for that on tipsday. I really relate to her process and way of thinking about writing, even though she writes literary fiction and I’m a genre writer.

Filling the well

I attended a FOLD webinar, “How to Write a Great Book” presented by Evan Winter on February 11, 2023. It was a good presentation. Unfortunately, Evan’s journey to publishing was anomalous, i.e., he self-published his book, attracted the attention of a publisher, who helped him get an agent before moving forward with the deal.

I had my biannual appointment with the OBSP, AKA the booby squishing, on Monday. Not as bad as the first time.

I took my mom to our next hair appointment on Saturday.

What I’m watching and reading

In the viewing department, Phil and I finished watching The Legend of Vox Machina (Amazon), season 2. The series really strikes the perfect balance between comedy and drama. And most of the characters progressed in their arcs/got their moments to shine.

I also watched The Banshees of Inisherin (Disney +). Good movie, but it made my poor heart hurt.

Moving on to what I’ve been reading, I finished Sue Lynn Tan’s The Daughter of the Moon Goddess. There’s a lot of fighting and battles, but the story had an overall dreamy feel to it. It was gentle and lovely. I really enjoyed it.

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

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

The next chapter weekly: Jan 29-Feb 4, 2023

Welcome to next chapter weekly, a look at the week in this writer’s life.

This week I drew the three of wands from the tarot and the father from the Celtic oracle deck.

The three of wands represents discovery, negotiation, great effort, and foresight. This felt fortuitous as this is the week that I intended to get back on my writing game in a more serious way.

The father represents the Dagda, the “great god” of Irish mythology and one of the Tuatha Dé Danann. He controls life and death, the weather and crops, and time and the seasons. He can be equated to Zeus or Odin from other mythologies.

He was married to the Morrigan, but Boann was his mistress, and Brigit, or Brigid, is one of his children.

February 1st was Imbolc, or Brigid’s Day. Brigid is, among other things, the patron saint of poets and scholars. How apropos 🙂

I lit the candles and incense on my altar with special intention on Tuesday. The light has been steadily returning and I’ve had a distinct upswing in energy of late. It’s time to rededicate myself to my creativity.

The week in writing

Last week was all about playfulness and reacquaintance. I may not have written or revised every day, but I read things over, maybe accepted some track changes, or deleted some comments that were no longer needed.

This week, starting on February 1st, I got back into writing and revision more consciously and decisively. At least that was the plan. But you know what life does when you’re making those …

So, yeah. I didn’t get back to Reality Bomb or Alice in Thunderland until the 3rd. That was Friday. Better late than never?

Here’s how the week broke down. To show you the whole week, I have to give you two screenshots. The last three days of January are on this first one.

And the first four of February are on this second one.

Again, I entered my curation posts for the coming week before I took this screenshot. I’ll learn, eventually.

For RB, it was a week of net gains. 45 words on the 31st and 111 words between Friday and Saturday for a total of 156 words. There was some deletion in there, too. In fact, chapter two has shrunk a page. I’m hoping to finish up chapter three and move on to chapter four.

I closed the month with a net reduction of 632 words. I decided to take out the word goal for the months. My ultimate goal is to reduce about 25,000 from the draft. That’ goal is now in my annual tracking page as a negative number, and I’ll keep track of it there. Right now, it’s showing -521 (-632 + 111) words of the -25,000-word goal, or 2%.

On Alice, I finished up my freewritten notes for chapter 26 and I’m moving on to chapter 27 (of 28—getting closer!). I’ve also decided to add an epilogue. Originally, I had intended to begin writing in January to finish off the draft, but that hasn’t happened. So, I took out the wordcount goal for January on Alice as well.

For the blog, I wrote 1,708 words for the week between curations and this update, 1,228 of those in February. I finished out January with 7,306 words, or 104% of my 7,000-word goal.

Filling the well

I took this week as annual leave for myself. I needed to recalibrate after the cold, dark months of the year.

I signed up for a Dan Blank webinar this week: A simple plan to share on social media, in newsletters, and more. Though I could have attended, I chose to watch the replay. I prefer digging into webinars in my own time, when my head’s in the right space for it.

I applied for membership in The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC). It may be a while before I hear back.

I also had my annual checkup with my doctor. I came away with a referral letter for my registered massage therapist, a prescription to help with my next outbreak of blepharitis, and a vaccination for pneumococcal pneumonia (Prevnar 20). I am as protected as I can be until next fall’s flu/potential covid booster.

What I’m watching and reading

In the viewing department, I watched Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Disney +). I appreciated Coogler’s focus on grief and the tribute to Chadwick Boseman, but it was a Marvel movie 🙂

I also finished watching season 2 of Res Dogs (Disney +). SPOILERS The dogs finally make it to California and Bear wants to stay. It seems likely since their car and money have been stolen. We’ll see what happens in season 3.

Catherine Called Birdy (Amazon) was a delight. Bella Ramsey is awesome as Birdy (and a stark contrast with her character in The Last of Us). It’s a total fantasy, but I loved it.

Moving on to the week in reading, I finished Jay Baruschel’s Highly Legal (Audible Originals). An entertaining examination of the legalization of cannabis in Canada, and it’s ongoing challenges.

Then, I finished reading Tanis MacDonald’s Straggle. An in-depth consideration of what it means to be a woman walking through the world. This creative non-fiction collection of essays and poetry looks at one woman’s experience through engaging with wildlife, birding, reflections on youthful walks, and some not-so-youthful. Excellent.

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

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

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Jan 1-7, 2023

Welcome back to tipsday, your opportunity to get your fill of informal writerly learnings.

A heavily cloud-veiled moon above a winter naked tree.
A heavily veiled moon.

Chuck Wendig shares his writer’s resolution 2023: mounting an aggressive defense. Then, he declares, “Eat shit, robots!” (Or: No, the absolute intrusion of artificial intelligence is not inevitable.) Terribleminds

Lisa Hall-Wilson explains how to edit for deep point of view.

Visions of the future onscreen vs. reality—what came true? The Take

Greer Macallister considers choosing your habit, which reframes resolutions or goals in terms of habit-forming. Thought-provoking for this time of year. Then, Allyson Rice says, I’m sure I’ve landed on a federal list somewhere. Donald Maass discusses chaos and creating fiction. Then, Sarah Callender explains when good enough is good enough. Terah Shelton Harris discusses what we ask of our readers. Writer Unboxed

Elizabeth S. Craig offers some thoughts about writer self-care for the New Year.

Beatrix Potter: the secret life of a Victorian genius. Absolute History

Angela Ackerman wants you to force your character to make hard choices. Then, Colleen M. Story shares five reasons it’s still a good idea for a writer to have a blog. Writers Helping Writers

Ken Brosky reveals the biggest mistake even expert writers make. Then, Michael Evans presents the author-creator marketing playbook. Jane Friedman

How to set writing goals and actually achieve them. Reedsy

Karen DeBonis explains how to talk about your book. Then, J. Alexander Greenwood reveals how to get booked on a podcast by answering one question. Writers in the Storm

Tiffany Yates Martin finds out how Kyla Zhao revises by writing her way out of loneliness. Fox Print Editorial

Gabriela Pereira interviews Mary Robinette Kowal about writing diverse characters via nuanced shifts in language. Then, Manuela Williams talks about point of view in poetry. Stacy Frazer takes you from idea to drafting in five steps. Then, AK Nevermore shares how finding her tribe helped silence her self-doubt. DIY MFA

Chris Winkle analyzes five stories that crawl along. Then, Oren Ashkenazi says that the Willow series is a terrible sequel. Mythcreants

Hey! January 1st was public domain day 2023. Ever wanted to write something based on a property coming into the public domain? Duke Law

Another fabulous resource, courtesy of Jane Friedman: Dr. Mardy’s Dictionary of Metaphorical Quotations. Having trouble putting something to words? Find out how other writers and thinkers have done it. It really helps.

Thank you for visiting, and I hope you found something to support your current work(s) in progress.

Until Thursday, keep staying safe and well.

The next chapter weekly: Jan 1-7, 2023

Greetings, all! Welcome to the revamped next chapter weekly 🙂

I’m going to try something a little different. At the start of each week, I’m going to draw a tarot card and a Celtic oracle card to see if they offer any guidance.

This week, I drew the ten of swords, inverted, and Blodeuwedd.

The ten of swords represents fear of betrayal in relationships or fear of financial ruin. Inverted, it can represent temporary success.

While I don’t think there’s any problem with any of my significant relationships, there has been a little financial insecurity in my life recently. The two-year acting assignment as an instructional designer I achieved in November 2020 came to an end at the end of November 2022. Though I had been successfully deployed to my current division, it was an “at level” deployment, at a step lower in salary. So, I’m doing an instructional designer’s job for a courseware developer’s pay.

I have been working through another assessment process that should get me into a qualified pool from which I could be assigned to a position at my acting (or actual) salary, but as a business analyst. There’s also another possibility that I could have my salary bumped up by other means, or by an assignment to another team in my division.

I’m interpreting the inverted ten of swords to mean that this unfavourable financial situation will be resolved, one way or another, in the near future. It might involve some change, which I’m rarely comfortable with, and perhaps several changes, before all is said and done, however.

Bloddeuwedd represents a claiming of one’s own power, steering your craft, or directing your fate. I’m seeing this divination in terms of my vocation as an author. I’ve been taking steps to improve my craft and those steps will lead to success. The card could also support the resolution of my financial difficulties.

We shall see where these oracles lead.

This week also saw the full wolf moon. I did a little ritual to help rid myself of a bad habit. As the moon wanes to new, I hope to do a little better around my sleep hygiene/routine. Again, we’ll see how things go. I’ll let you know how it’s going in a couple of weeks.

The week in writing

I’m starting off 2023 slow and steady. I took New Years Day off except for posting my next chapter update and year in review. My two goals for the week were to continue mapping out Alice in Thunderland and work on the first three chapters of Reality Bomb.

I’m pleased to report that I’ve added 7 chapters to the Alice map (not recorded in the spreadsheet). This brings me to chapter 16 of 28. This work is in anticipation of a) finishing the last four chapters of the draft and then, after a brief break, b) revising the novella. I’m trying to incorporate some of the lessons I’m learning while working on RB with Suzy.

With regard to RB, the work is going slow. I’m definitely lacking confidence, but I’m finding my way. Made a belated discovery: I can input negative words in the spreadsheet. D’oh! It does give a better idea of my progress, or lack thereof. This week was a lot of back and forth, up and down. I’m trying to cut a bunch of pages out of chapter two (which is three of the previous draft’s chapters smooshed together). It’s challenging but rewarding. I’m definitely feeling that the draft is improving.

Here’s how the week broke down.

Revisions on the first two chapters of RB have resulted in a net gain of 3 words (!) Also, note that I only entered the net gain or loss for the day. There was often a lot more words written, then deleted, or vice versa, on any given day. It’s been weird.

On the blog, I wrote 420 more words on the last monthly next chapter update before posting it, 236 words on tipsday, 218 words on thought Thursday, and 1,150 words on this next chapter weekly for a total of 2,024 words. The total shown on the spreadsheet includes my tipsday and thought Thursday posts for the coming wee, which I prepare and post on Sundays.

Filling the well

I signed up for “Write that Book Already” from The Narrative Project and Sidekick Press from January 2 to 6. Interesting sessions, but three a day, so it was a challenge to keep up.

I also took my mom to another hair appointment and did some minor shopping.

What I’m watching and reading

In the viewing department, I finished watching Dickenson (Apple+). Just a delight.

In another surprise, two more episodes of The Shining Girls appeared on Apple+, completing the series. Very different than the book. Beukes’ novel didn’t include any of the time shifting and changes that the series does. To explain, every time Harper murders one of the other shining girls, Kirby’s world changes. She may not live in the same place, have the same job, or the same relationships with other people in her life. Visually, her hair and clothing style changes as well.

There are other shining girls that are characters in the series that are merely victims in the book. In the series, some of these women take back their power when Kirby kills Harper in the story’s present. She then uses the house to travel back in time and prevent Harper from ever moving in. Ultimately, she saves Dan (who was killed in the series and whose fate was uncertain in the novel), and all the other women harper had killed. Interesting.

While I was in Apple+, I checked out what else there was to watch and got a lovely surprise. They’ve done an adaptation of Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and the Horse. So much the sweet self-care I needed in these still dark days of winter.

I watched Strange World (Disney +), a charming eco-fable wrapped in generational drama about fathers, sons, and legacies. Some things were a bit “on the nose,” but I enjoyed it for what it was, and I really appreciated how Ethan’s having a boyfriend is no big thing, even to his ultra-macho explorer grandfather. Refreshing and light.

Moving on to the week in reading, I started off 2023 by reading Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Yes, another classic I’d never read. I loved it. Dickens really does comment on the ills of his world in multiple respects.

Then, I finished Rachel True’s True Heart Intuitive Tarot. I quite like her take on the tarot and may pick up the physical book and deck she designed.

And that was the first week of 2023 in this writer’s life.

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

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, April 10-16, 2022

Welcome to tipsday, your opportunity to stock up on informal writerly learnings.

Ann Marie Nieves: book PR & marketing questions answered, part VII. Jim Dempsey wants you to exploit your hero’s flaws. Then, Kathleen McCleary is getting over it. Kathryn Crafts says foreshadowing is a revision skill to love. Later in the week, Desmond Hall drops some more writerly wisdom on us. Writer Unboxed

Shaelin shares seven ways to level up your writing process. Reedsy

K.M. Weiland shares 14 tips for dealing with the passage of time in a story. Helping Writers Become Authors

Lisa Norman introduces us to the magic of World Anvil. Then, Monica Corwin suggests eight ways to stay open to story. Jenny Hansen: the extraordinary blessings of asking for help. Writers in the Storm

Have humans always feared sharks? Monstrum | PBS Storied

Jane explains why so many blogs and newsletters aren’t worth the writer’s effort. Then, Lisa Cooper Ellison explains how to gracefully leave your writing group. Jane Friedman

Sue Coletta: what is rhythmic writing? Emily Young shares six tips for writing compelling action scenes. Writers Helping Writers

Crafting as a magic system. Tale Foundry

Abigail K. Perry poses seven questions to ask about your first chapter. Then, Gabriela Pereira interviews Claire Stanford about character development in literary fiction. Angela Yeh wants you to embrace your inner poet-activist! Then, Lewis Jorstad suggests five secondary character arcs to strengthen your cast. Later in the week, Linda Dahl explains how to inject humor to relive narrative tension. DIY MFA

The Heather trope and why we’re so obsessed with her. The Take

Story beats: the key to line-by-line writing. Morality genre: altruism stories of redemption, punishment, and testing. Performance genre: stories about sports, music, business, and art. Four Core Framework: the foundational elements of storytelling. Story Grid

How to write realistic male characters. Jenna Moreci

Tiffany Yates Martin explains how writers Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke survive. Fox Print Editorial

Chris Winkle says the best characters eat their spinach—and their candy. Illustrated by Bunny. Then, Oren Ashkenazi critiques five inexplicable planets from Star Trek. Mythcreants

The three planes of story and creating causal connections. A very personal literary theory. Shaelin Writes

Kristen Lamb warns that bloated writing makes readers sick.

Nina Munteanu shares example steps for keeping a nature journal.

Anne Delaney examines chronemics and the nonverbal language of time. JSTOR Daily

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

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!