Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 14-20, 2015

Another wonderful week for Writerly Goodness!

What’s the key event and how is it different from the inciting incident and the first plot point? I know I still forget the distinctions. K.M. Weiland’s Helping Writers Become Authors.

And here’s Katie’s Wednesday vlog: How to write a riveting characteristic moment.

Roz Morris shares her experience with repetitive stress injury (RSI).

Kassandra Lamb guests on Jami Gold’s blog: Nine psychology myths you need to avoid.

Tips on picking up the pace from Rebecca LuElla Miller.

Learn about the magic systems of Brandon Sanderson. Tor.com.

Five ways first contact could turn into an epic fail. Veronica Sicoe.

Neil Gaiman offers his thoughts on why stories last. (w/ Podcast) BrainPickings.

Liz Bourke ponders how we speak of strong female characters. This post refers to others I’ve shared in past weeks and takes it in a slightly different direction. Very interesting. Tor.com.

How can you keep readers from hating your characters? Jody Hedlund.

Beth Revis posts on Janice Hardy’s Fiction University: How do you know you’re ready to publish? Agent Carly Watters of P.S. Literary wrote on the same topic last week 🙂

Dave King explores our motivations for writing. Writer Unboxed.

Kameron Hurley asks, why are we self-publishing? Locus.

Porter Anderson takes a look at Hugh Howey’s promotion of self-publishing and what it really means in the context of the continually evolving publishing industry. Thought Catalog.

Related: Nielsen Book’s latest results indicate that self-publishing is more like traditional publishing. Publishing perspectives.

Amazon changes its terms for KDP select. The Digital Reader.

Why I teach diverse literature. The Toast.

What librarians wish we knew about how to use a library. i09.

Authors share the places that inspire them. FlavorWire.

Ten books you should read before you see the movie. The Huffington Post.

Mark Twain’s advice to little girls. BrainPickings.

This is fun 🙂 Classic novels with clickbait titles. BuzzFeed.

BuzzFeed shares 22 book-themed gifts for readers.

Watch the Scooby Doo crew’s fashion evolve through the last century. i09.

The first set photos of the new all-female Ghostbusters! i09.

Mike Hale states that Game of Thrones the series is going the way of Lost . . . What do you think? The New York Times.

Here are Charlie Jane Anders’s suggestions about how to fix Game of Thrones. Is it even possible? i09.

How Terry Dresbach’s costumes bring history to life on Outlander. Variety.

Orphan Black’s season finale: history yet to be written. It was awesome (IMO). The Wall Street Journal.

See you Thursday 🙂

Tipsday

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Dec 28, 2014-Jan 3, 2015

K.M. Weiland’s last post and podcast of 2014! The difference between your story’s hook and your story’s heart.

Chuck Wendig’s 2015 publishing wishlist.

Here’s a podcast you may want to check out: Coode Street. The episode I’m sharing features Robert J. Sawyer and Peter Halasz having a heated, but friendly, discussion about Canadian Science Fiction.

The best science fiction and fantasy books of 2014. i09.

Brandon Sanderson explains why superheroes are so hard to get right. i09.

Western fairy tales given a Korean makeover. i09.

Arthur Kade interviews Sam Heughan and Catriona Balfe from last summer (in case you needed a little droughtlander viewing).

 

Neil Gaiman’s eight rules of writing on Brainpickings.

Margaret Atwood’s timeless advice for writers. The Huffington Post.

Our poet laureate is putting poetry on our transit 🙂 The Northern Life.

Opportunities for writers in January and February 2015. Aerogramme Writers’ Studio.

19 short story competitions from same.

Enjoy!

Tipsday

When Words Collide wrap post

So . . . it’s been a few months since I attended When Words Collide in Calgary, Alberta. It was an interesting event. Organizers billed it as a literary festival, but it grew out of a fan con. It was an interesting mix, one part writing conference, one part reader/fan convention.

It takes its organizational model from conventions, asking a nominal membership fee rather than a pricey conference fee. Most of the sessions were panels with a few workshops and guest of honour sessions worked into the schedule.

I enjoyed my first WWC and got a lot out of it, as you may have gathered if you’ve been following my WWC posts over the past months.

One thing I didn’t appreciate was the heavy scheduling. With the exception of the banquet, there were no set breaks for meals, and even during the banquet, which was an optional extra cost, there were concurrent sessions.

It made what was already a difficult decision between a plethora of sessions even more challenging. They should have handed out time turners at the door 😉

I met a lot of authors I had previously only known on the interwebz and I got to act all fangirlish around Brandon Sanderson. I also reconnected with a lot of authors I had previously met at other conferences and stayed an extra day so I could spend some time with an old university roommate hiking at Lake Louise and Johnston Canyon.

There was a book room, and of course, I bought a few books. Not as many as at past conferences, but I picked up enough to keep feeding my addiction and weighing down my bookshelves.

WWCBooks

One of the other bonuses was the writing contest, which I was happy to place second in with my paranormal short story, “On the Ferry.” I got to read an excerpt from my story, meet all the other top ten authors, and the judges of the contest, who also gave all of the top ten their comments.

I am currently revising that story for another market.

Overall, it was a rewarding time. I probably won’t be able to attend every year, however. Like the Surrey International Writers’ Conference I attended last year, the air fare and accommodation costs make WWC an occasional treat rather than a definite must.

And that, as they say, is a wrap.

Next week: I’ll be updating you on Nuala’s situation and the state of things in the yard and driveway.

WWC 2014, Days 2 and 3: All the Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson

Photo by Nazrilof

If you want to find out moar about Brandon Sanderson, please visit his eponymous web site.

I attended several of Brandon’s sessions at When Words Collide, but I didn’t take notes in any of them. I just soaked up the writerly goodness 🙂

On the Saturday, I attended “An hour with Brandon Sanderson,” in which Brandon shared his path to publication, as well as the highlights of his involvement in finishing Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series. Much of the information is summarized in the About Brandon page of the above linked site.

I love finding out how authors started out, how they made it work, and how they manage to make a living writing, which is a rare privilege (IMHO).

On Sunday, I attended Brandon’s two hour “The Writing Process” session, followed by a panel discussion he sat on about “How to build a consistent and original magic system.”

Both were fabulous.

I’ve read many posts recently about attending author sessions at conferences and conventions. The warning is that some authors don’t know what their processes are, or if they do, they speak to how they write only, without giving context or alternatives. Some are speaking as a form of self-promotion, or to get you to buy and read their books and don’t necessarily offer anything of value in terms of what the individual writer can take away and apply to their own work and process.

There’s nothing wrong with promotion, but it’s best not to dress such sessions up as workshops.

I’m happy to say that Brandon was nothing like that. He achieved his Master’s degree in English from Brigham Young University and subsequently took over teaching their SF&F creative writing class, which used to be taught by David Farland (from whom Brandon himself learned in his undergraduate years).

You can find links to Brandon’s courses and videos on his web site (linked above), but you can also find them by Googling Write About Dragons. Here’s a link to his 2012 and 2013 lectures on their site, and another to their YouTube channel.

Another great way to get your hands on Brandon Sanderson’s writing advice is to listen to the Writing Excuses podcast, which he co-hosts with Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler. I started listening in the spring.

Needless to say, Brandon did a mah-veh-lous job of his workshop. The two hours flew by. He’d either enter into a topic by describing his process and expand out to discuss alternative methods, or, he’d cast his net wide, and describe the various approaches to an aspect of the writing life, and then describe his personal preferences.

I appreciated this, because, ultimately, every writer develops her or his own process, and there is no one correct way to write a novel. It’s a message that can’t be sent often enough.

As the saying goes, anyone who tries to tell you differently is selling something.

Finally, in the magic system panel, I was just fascinated about how the authors approached their individual magic systems and how they all applied the rule that all magic comes with a cost. There was even some speculation about writing a magic system without a cost, but, it was argued, that would be science and technology.


 

Next weekend, I have a few posts that have to take precedence: my month end (and NaNo) update, a post about my intrinsic motivations for writing, and a Caturday quickie on a blog award I received this month.

So My When Words Collide Wrap Post won’t arrive until the second weekend of December. In the meantime, Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday posts will continue and, just to whet your appetite, I’ll have posts coming up about teaching team building, the Humber Writers workshop I attended, a pupdate on poor Nuala, and the state of the driveway and yard now the construction season has ceded to snow.

I’ll even have a couple of book reviews coming up for my friend Jane Ann McLachlan. So, yes, December’s going to be a busy month on the blog.

Fare thee well until Tipsday and my book review of Jane’s The (occasional) Diamond Thief.

WWC 2014, Day 1: Evening keynotes

Here we are at the end of day 1 (for me–I know others partied into the wee hours). At other conferences and conventions, guest of honour keynotes are generally spread throughout the event, often at or after a meal.

The When Words Collide organizers chose to do something different.

Prior to the literary festival, there were several master classes offered by the keynote speakers, and the night before, they all delivered their presentations at a branch of the public library.

Between the extra days of leave I would have had to sacrifice, the cost of the master classes, and the expense of a longer stay, I had to opt out of the pre-conference program.

On the first night (formally speaking) of WWC, then, all of the keynote speakers were well into conference mode and had an opportunity to work out the bugs.

The keynotes were presented as a panel, with all of the speakers up on the stage, seated at tables.

Randy McCharles offered a few opening words, and then introduced the first of the speakers.

  1. Jacqueline Guest, author of 18 published novels, spoke about her adventures as aJacqueline Guest touring author. She has been all over the world, in the arctic, and had some very interesting tales to share. The old advice to writers is to write what you know. Travelling and experiencing all the world has to offer is a valuable way of gathering experience that can translate into your writing.
  2. Mark Leslie, of Kobo Writing Life, chose the subject of the mark-lesliehistory of story. From our earliest gatherings to share news around a fire, through the oral traditions of Greece and Rome, the invention of the printing press, and the advent of the novel, to today’s proliferation of traditionally published and independently published novels, novellas, short stories, anthologies, and all other manner of written storytelling, Mark spoke eloquently of the purpose and value of story in our lives. He ended his keynote with this: when words collide, magic happens.
  3. Dorothy (DJ) MacIntosh, author of the (in progress) Mesopotamian trilogy, spoke
    DJ McIntosh

    photo by Robert Rafton

    about passion and how to keep that precious flame burning. She related the experiences, hers and those of other renowned authors, with rejection, and various reactions to rejection letters. How can we keep our passion alive amidst the darkness that can assail us?

  4. Brandon Sanderson, author of—oh, I’ll just say it—a shit load of bestselling fantasy novels including the
    Photo by Nazrilof

    Photo by Nazrilof

    posthumous conclusion of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, addressed the problem of telling a compelling lie. He started with a grade school experience in which he realized that the story of Columbus and his discovery of the new world was all propaganda. In short, it was a lie, but it’s a lie that has been perpetuated over the years by quality storytelling. You could say that’s when the seed of his desire to become a professional liar was planted. He spoke of Sturgeon’s Law: that ninety percent of everything is crap. He wanted to test that hypothesis and started with Roger Ebert’s movie review site, which revealed between sixty and seventy percent good movies (two thumbs up). He then went to Rotten Tomatoes, a review site contributed to by the movie-going public. He found roughly the same results. There were exceptions, of course. He found one reviewer who didn’t like Return of the King, for example. Reviews are one of the most power tools in any author’s service. Word of mouth is what really translates into sales and a groundswell of support. The bad reviews can be damaging in all kinds of ways. We have to be able to distinguish between someone expressing a personal opinion, e.g. I didn’t like this book, and someone who’s going for the hurt, e.g. this is crap. They are two completely different judgements.

  5. Jack Whyte. I’d seen him last year at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference jack-whyteand knew the power of his presence, but, when Jack took the stage, I put my pen down and sat back. I knew I was about to be entertained. Jack basically extemporized (or, he made is sound like he was), drawing in elements of each of the previous speakers, adding colour with a touch of personal humour, and wrapping up the evening in style.

Next week: We enter day 2 with the Blending Science Fiction and Fantasy Panel.

Caturday Quickie: Calgary, I am in you

I’ve been waiting to say that for a long time. I’m such a nerd.

To be brief:

Thursday afternoon, Phil and I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy. I may have to post a Mel’s Movie Madness about it. For the future. I enjoyed it thoroughly, however.

Yesterday (Friday), I got up at the ungodly hour of 4 am so I could get out to the airport by 5-ish and catch my 5:55 am flight.

All went well, caught my connection, watched the second Hunger Games en route, and arrived at 10:18 am, on the dot, in Calgary.

My friend, Sharon, offered to pick me up and we went out to lunch before I checked in at the Carriage House Inn and started my marathon of sessions.

I attended 5 of those yesterday, plus the keynote speakers in the evening. I also met, in person, several people I’d only known to this point virtually: Angela Ackerman, Diane Walton, Tim Reynolds, and I reconnected with some fellow writers and publishers: Mark Leslie, Ron Hore, Swati Chavda, and Avery Olive.

I had dinner and lovely conversation with Nina Munteanu, and met a few other writers and editors hanging around outside the hotel. I also saw the wonderful Jack Whyte again, and met Brandon Sanderson in the flesh. Brandon was my fangirl moment of When Words Collide so far.

I’ll be in sessions from 10 am to 6 pm today, and then there is the mass autograph session this evening.

It has been a jam-packed conference so far, but I’m having a blast. Prepare for much bloggage coming out of this 🙂

Also got to see the 2014 In Places Between anthology chapbook. The readings and judging take place tomorrow morning. Will let you know (of course) how “On the Ferry” fares.

I think this may be my only post this weekend, just because WWC is proving to be a very fast-paced event.

In the meantime, I shall wish much you all much Writerly Goodness.

Caturday Quickies