Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 9-15, 2020

Welcome to another week of informal writerly learnings.

Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until all Black and Indigenous lives matter. Truth.

Dr. Tam has stated that we should prepare for a second wave of infection in the fall and that we’ll probably be living with covid until 2022 (at least). And young people have been out partying without health precautions in the hundreds in BC.

Children and youth have been getting sick more often, and now they’ve confirmed that young people are more likely to be asymptomatic carriers. Provincially, there has been additional money given to school boards to improve HVAC systems and hire more teachers, but, you know, too little, too late. How do they expect all this work to be accomplished in two and a half weeks (and less, for some school boards)?

There are times that being right makes you sad.

I hope the following shores you up.

K.M. Weiland demonstrates four ways to write sequel scenes that grip readers. Helping Writers Become Authors

Laura Highcove helps you develop your awareness. Then, Bronwen Fleetwood discusses diversity in kidlit: better isn’t enough. Later in the week, Sara Farmer interviews Silvia Moreno-Garcia. DIY MFA

The deeper meaning of time travel stories, explained. The Take

Randy Susan Meyers says that if you’re terrified about writing your novel, that’s excellent! Then, Barbara Linn Probst wants you to begin at the beginning … or maybe not. Kathryn Craft introduces us to hook and inciting incident, the power couple of “must read now!” David Corbett explores identity, authenticity, relationships, and our characters. Writer Unboxed

Princess Weekes considers what makes good queer representation in 2020. Melina Pendulum

Bi-sexuality stories on screen. The Take

Laurence MacNaughton lists six crucial character relationships. Then, Janice Hardy explains why you shouldn’t edit as you go (for the companion post, why you should, click through). Fiction University

September C. Fawkes shares six tricks to layer on stakes. Later in the week, Chrys Fey answers the question: what is writer’s burnout? Writers Helping Writers

Nathan Bransford offers some tips for non-linear narratives.

Leigh Cheak has some Post-It note tips for plotters and pantsers. Then, Lisa Hall-Wilson answers eight questions about deep point of view. Writers in the Storm

Chris Winkle lists five common problems with metaphors. Then Oren Ashkenazi considers six consequences of poorly thought-out magic systems. Mythcreants

Roger Kruez: what irony is not. The MIT Press Reader

Robert J. Sawyer: we’re all living in a science fiction novel now. The Toronto Star

Thanks for visiting, and I hope you take away something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe.

Tipsday2019

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, July 26-Aug 1, 2020

We’ve nearly made to the end of another week of #pandemic life. Console yourself and welcome the weekend by getting your mental corn popping.

Tarannum Kamlani: The Book of Negroes is more relevant than ever as Black lives matter takes centre stage. I watched the mini-series and I’m reading the book. Marvelous! CBC

Emmanuel Acho talks with Carl Lentz about race and religion. Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man

Isabel Wilkerson reveals America’s “untouchables” and the silent power of the caste system. The Guardian

Josh Jones: W.E.B. Du Bois devastates apologists for confederate monuments and Robert E. Lee (1931). Open Culture


Natasha Hinde says, you can still burnout while working from home. The Huffington Post

Kate Starbird shares some lessons from the pandemic: disinformation campaigns are a blend of truth, lies, and sincere beliefs. The Conversation

Amy McKeever lists the covid-19 vaccine developments to follow. National Geographic


Joan Donovan explains why Congress should look at Facebook and Twitter. MIT Technology Review

Cait Munro explains how black and white photography became a complicated symbol of female empowerment. “This kind of vague hashtag activism also recalls the great black square debacle of a few months ago, in which a bunch of people posted black squares alongside #blacklivesmatter in supposed solidarity with the movement, only to drown out important information about nationwide protests by flooding feeds and relevant hashtags with, basically, nothing. The black square then became something of a symbol for performative wokeness, and now is mostly a punch line leveled against white people who do too much without really doing anything at all.” Refinery 29

Biological sex is a spectrum, too. Not new, but interesting. SciShow

Amelia Soth reveals the socially sanctioned love triangles of Romantic-Era Italy. JSTOR Daily

Carly Silver: this is how they wiped themselves in ancient Rome. JSTOR Daily

Kate Yoder considers the surprising reasons people ignore the facts about climate change. Grist

Matt Simon: mad scientists revive 100-million-year-old microbes. Wired

Veritasium explains how scientists found the missing matter (not dark matter) in the universe.

Jenny McGrath interviews Kate Greene about her four-month stay in a simulated Mars habitat and what she learned. Digital Trends

Jamie Carter explains how many people will be needed to colonize Mars. Forbes

Thank you for stopping by and I hope to took away something to inspire your next creative project.

As you might have surmised by now, my next chapter update will be a week late. It was unavoidable. You’ll find out why this weekend (I promise!).

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

ThoughtyThursday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, July 26-Aug 1, 2020

Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter. This is not a political statement. It’s a fundamental truth.

22 new confirmed cases of covid-19 have occurred in Sudbury over the last week or so, most of them in people under 30. Just because we’ve entered phase 3 of reopening doesn’t mean we’re back to normal. Wear your masks people. Maintain physical distance.

And now, onto the informal writerly learnings!

The Take traces the development of the interracial relationship onscreen.

K.M. Weiland shares seven misconceptions about being a writer. Helping Writers Become Authors

Bonnie Randall explains how to weave setting into a deep point of view. Later in the week, Bethany Henry shares seven ways to deal with burnout. Fiction University

Sacha Black: what “read more to improve your writing” really means. Writers Helping Writers

Abigail K. Perry offers another Story Grid scene analysis: Something Borrowed. Later in the week, Indiana Lee shares five ways to protect your privacy while promoting your writing online. DIY MFA

Shaelin offers some tips about working with critique partners. Reedsy

Then, she helps you deal with rejection. Key takeaway: NEVER give up. Reedsy

Nathan Bransford shares his thoughts on how to spice up relationships in novels.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell reveals the most important reader question. Then, Kris Maze lists five steps to better writer self-care. Writers in the Storm

Jael R. Bakari visits Jami Gold’s blog to discuss writing process: developing a coherent story.

Aiki Flinthart is creating unique voices for multiple point of view characters—and how to show their emotions. Lisa Hall-Wilson

The universal beauty of LGBT+ love stories. Like Stories of Old

Kim Bullock wants you to use uncertainty to enhance your story. Writer Unboxed

Chris Winkle helps you create a magical atmosphere with this description makeover. Then, Oren Ashkenazi considers five cool storylines that went nowhere.  Mythcreants

John Foxwell explains why many writers say they can hear the voices of their characters. The Conversation

Matt Blake lists the greatest literary groups in history. Penguin

Thanks for visiting. I hope you found something to support your current work in progress (whatever state it’s in).

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

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 23-29, 2020

March first was lamb-like. I’m hoping for a gentle month. How about you?

Now, it’s time to get your fill of informal writerly learnings.

Tiffany Yates Martin lists ten specific ways to encourage your reader to like your protagonist. Kris Maze shares five steps to becoming a superstar self-editor. Writers in the Storm

Julia Munroe Martin is not above spying … again. Barbara Linn Probst is taking it scene by scene: the “middle level” of writing. Heather Webb tackles the social media meltdown and burnout. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland shares the professional resources she uses for all aspects of writing and publishing processes. Helping Writers Become Authors

Do you need to outline your book? Reedsy

Then, Shaelin recommends how to develop your best writing process. Reedsy

Joanna Penn interviews Barbara Poelle about finding and pitching a literary agent. The Creative Penn

Sarah Chauncey lists five flashback mistakes. Jane Friedman

Nathan Bransford: don’t release the tension.

Manuela Williams shares five tips for writing an author bio that stands out. DIY MFA

Jami Gold explains how to get advice from an editor. Later in the week, she wonders, do our stories have deeper meanings?

Chris Winkle lists the four essentials of an effective character arc. Then, Oren Ashkenazi explains how to use failure in your story. Mythcreants

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you took away something tasty that will support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well!

Tipsday2019

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, May 26-June 1, 2019

Here’s a solid mix of video and articles to get your mental corn popping.

Ben Lindbergh celebrates UC Berkeley’s SETI@home’s 20th anniversary. The Ringer

Greg Nichols reports on technology in development: a robotic trauma centre in a backpack could be MASH for millennials. ZDNet

Arriana Mcylmore: these black women gamers teamed up to take on the worst online trolls. Fast Company

Kati Morton has a chat about what bothers her about self-care.

ASAP Science talks about sleep hygiene and shares a technique that may help you fall asleep in two minutes (!)

Jenna Birch explains what leads you to burnout—and how to recover from it—according to your Myers-Briggs type. Well and Good

SciShow Psych delves into what the statistics are really saying about teens and screen time.

SciShow news looks at how an AI was trained to predict the effects of non-coding DNA and how these effects could be linked to autism spectrum disorder.

The Walrus dedicates an issue to death. It’s amazing. So much good here. Really. You’ll want to read it all.

Nick Summers: science has brought back the scent of a long-dead flower, sort of. Engadget

Tom Allan looks at the wildlife haven Chernobyl became after people left. The Guardian

Tim MacWelch lists 11 gross animals you can eat in a survival situation. Includes cooking recommendations, too … Popular Science

Ian Sample says that exploding stars could have been the reason we started walking on two legs. The Guardian

David Grimm shares the research of Maren Huck, who clipped cameras to the collars of 16 cats and let them do their thing. Science

This made me laugh. So. Hard. Dogs trying to catch treats, mid-air. The Awesome Daily

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found something to take away with you 🙂

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

ThoughtyThursday2019

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Mar 31-Apr 6, 2019

It’s time to get your mental corn popping 🙂

Chad Frischmann profiles the young minds solving climate change. BBC

Camille Bromley wonders, could a woman walk around the world today? National Geographic

Kara Wada covers the miserable history of seasonal allergies, from ancient China and Greece, to today. Quartzy

Shayla Love investigates the power of the nocebo effect. Vice

Sarah Barnes shares the work of Kate Allen, an artist with anxiety who illustrates lessons on mental health. My Modern Met

Kati Morton begins a new series on burnout with part 1: the history.

 

Adam Rasmi: new research suggests you should do anything but sit. Quartz

SciShow Space explains why our solar system is weird.

 

Ryan Bradley: the exploding bolts that get us into space. Popular Science

The Dodo presents the tiniest, fuzziest little horse.

 

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope some of these ideas are pop-corning around in your head, making creative connections and inspiring your creative work.

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

thoughtythursday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 27-June 2, 2018

Your informal writerly learnings are short and sweet this week. Trade wars and Harvey Weinstein on trial and the Rosanne debacle really took it out of me.

K.M. Weiland: how the truth your character believes defines your theme. Helping Writers Become Authors

Sharon Bially says, purpose is the missing link between your characters’ motives and depth. Writer Unboxed

Bryn Greenwood helps you find your empathy through Florida Man (or Florida Woman). Writer Unboxed

Becca Puglisi helps you create character empathy in your first few pages. Writers Helping Writers

Kristen Lamb explains how and why we writers are our own worst enemies. It’s called self-sabotage.

Jami Gold asks, how do you deal with writer burnout?

Oren Ashkenazi gives us five tips for creating an engaging space battle. Mythcreants

And that’s it for Tipsday.

Be well until Thoughty Thursday comes around.

tipsday2016

The next chapter: May 2018 update

Hello, all you writerly people!

It’s time for my next chapter update for May 2018.

Looks like I’m finding my stride. Things were going so well with the drafting of Playing with Fire, that I actually decided to take a purposeful break to read the draft to date. The problem I was encountering is that it’s taken me so long, relatively speaking, to draft the darned thing that I started to forget what I’d written way back in November (or December, January, February, March, or April!).

It’s been niggling at me for a while, and sometimes, I’d just go back to the chapter I suspected contained the bit I was looking to be refreshed on, but that got cumbersome, particularly since, once there, I’d start tweaking …

K.M. Weiland has been mentioning how she does a periodic re-read of her WIP, and I decided to give it a try. It was a nice rest, and a great way to tighten some of my plot threads, especially since I didn’t have to time to do much of an outline for this novel before I started drafting.

MayProgress

Even with the break, about nine days, I still managed to surpass my 7,500-word writing goal. I wrote 8,302 words, or 111%.

I’m enjoying the break from weekend blogging as well, and though I adjusted my blogging goal to 3,000 words, even with just the curation posts going up, I managed to write 3,940 words on the blog, or 131% of my goal.

I met my DIY MFA deadline with a long column of 1,739 words, or 174% of my goal, and aggregated my penultimate Sudbury Writers’ Guild newsletter at 6,777 words, or 169% of that goal.

So, it’s been a good month, writing-wise.

The burnout thing

I promised to tell you how the whole burnout thing was going.

Well, after a lot of soul-searching, pondering, and some all-out navel-gazing, I’ve finally figured out why I’ve suffered such a protracted burnout in the past year. And, let’s be clear, I’ve been struggling since at least the beginning of 2017. It might, in fact, be longer than that.

Part of it is historical. It’s my writing wound, the lie I believe about myself as a creative person and about my work. If you’re ever curious and you have the time, you can read the posts in the category, My History as a So-called Writer. That will give you the low-down.

The short version is that my creative life has been full of threshold guardians (in hero’s journey terms), who’ve blocked me, stunted my growth, and betrayed me in various fashions. When I finally found my way back to a consistent writing practice in 2007, I thought I’d conquered those demons. In that version of victory, all the naysayers were wrong, and I was just going to do what I wanted. Screw them.

That, it turns out, was only half the battle. It’s the bitter legacy those experiences left me with that make me innately distrustful of handing my work off to anyone else, whether a friend, beta reader, editor, or … anyone. I don’t believe that the advice I receive is in the story’s best interest. Or mine. I always see it in terms of a personal attack, though unconsciously. I’m aware of it now but, in the moment, I often slip back into old ways of thinking.

While I’ve had some writing success, that lie has never left me. It’s made finding a critique group difficult. It makes working with editors a bit fraught. It also leaves me thinking that I’m not, at heart, a good writer (passable good, not even great) and that people are just humouring me. It’s not merely imposter syndrome. It’s a deep distrust of anyone else’s opinion of my work.

There’s been a lot of self-sabotage involved, mostly unconscious.

This is what I’m working to overcome now. It’s a process. It’s going to take time.

The next piece of the puzzle is that, in January of 2016, after decades of what we thought was good health, Phil went to the clinic thinking he might have shingles, and came home (well, there was some bloodwork in there) with multiple diagnoses: type II diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and possibly shingles.

He had no rash, though. Several months passed and the doctor said, fibromyalgia. Several more months passed, and they finally settled on widespread diabetic neuropathy. Until the doctor found the right combination of meds, there were some horrible times, but it all worked out. Eventually.

Two of the meds Phil was on were Lyrica (an antidepressant found to be effective for nerve pain) and Cymbalta (an anticonvulsant also found to be effective for nerve pain). Aside from managing his pain and elevating his mood (it has often been said of my husband that the inside of his skull is painted black), both medications increased the amount of melatonin in his system.

Phil, who had always been a night owl and considered sleep to be the enemy, was now getting the best sleep of his life. Things went well for a while.

Then, because he got a promotion that required occasional travel, Phil decided to stop both the Lyrica and Cymbalta. He couldn’t risk falling asleep at the wheel. Combine this with a progressively complex and worsening situation at his employer (ongoing) and things quickly went from bad to worse.

The health problems shook me, probably more than I’d care to admit. It was after Phil’s health situation resolved that I started to feel the real effects of the burnout.

But it was the work situation that broke the peace of our household. I was used to living with Mr. Grumpy Pants, but his problems at work followed him home and made everything more difficult. It was about that time that we brought Torvi home. The extra stress of bringing up puppy did not help.

Also in the mix was my great adventure of last year. Though Phil encouraged me to go, I felt horribly guilty about the expense. I’ll just be paying off the last of that debt this month.

Add to all that my own health problems. Though less life-threatening than Phil’s, they were affecting my quality of life. Now that most of them have been addressed, I’m in a much better place.

But every time I tried to dig myself out of the hole, emotionally speaking, in the last couple of years something popped up and dragged me back down. I’ve suffered several episodes of depression, panic attacks, and poor quality of sleep (resulting from the other two).

Most of these issues are resolving. I’ve had my ablation and other health issues are being investigated. I’ve lost about 25 pounds. I’ve gotten back to my regular writing practice and it’s feeling good. Torvi, at eight months and in her second obedience class, is becoming a good dog but, that too is a process.

Really, it’s just Phil’s work situation that’s the continuing problem but, though there’s still no end in sight, slow progress is being made. There’s hope that things might be largely sorted by the end of this year. We just have to hang in there.

I’m sure other world events have played their parts, but I’m actively seeking to minimize their effects on me.

I’ll keep you updated, for those who want to know.

My writerly event of the month

On May first (May Day, Beltaine—yes, I’m a paganish sort) I went to see the staged reading of the latest iteration of Kim Fahner’s play, Sparrows Over Slag. It was part of Play Smelter, which ran the rest of the week. It was fascinating to see the evolution of Kim’s play, of which I was privileged to read an early draft.

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She gave a lovely Q&A afterward that gave further insight into her process. Writing a play is a different beast than any other kind of writing, even screenplays.

Later that week, I had lunch with Kim, who was only in Sudbury for a couple of weeks around Play Smelter. She’s been in south western Ontario, working hard on her craft and trying to figure out her next steps, creatively.

Just chatting over lunch was a balm. We are soul sisters and that won’t change wherever she goes and whatever she chooses to do.

And that’s it for this month’s next chapter update.

Until the next time I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

The Next Chapter

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, May 13-19, 2018

Welcome to thoughty Thursday. You know what that means: tomorrow is Friday!

Jessica Bennett and Daniel Jones compile these 45 stories of sex and consent on campus. The New York Times

Megan Garber: David Foster Wallace and the dangerous romance of male genius. The Atlantic

Jim C. Hines offers some advice on setting boundaries.

Nicole Gallucci reports that ageism is becoming a major issue for corporations. The Globe and Mail

Tim Herrera lists three things that can help if you’re feeling burned out. The New York Times

Brian Resnick: 100 million Americans have chronic pain, but few use one of the best tools to treat it. Vox

SciShow Space: is there really an infinite multiverse?

 

Mary Schwager: new studies show humans love dogs more than other humans. I Love My Dog

This guy is a case in point. He bought 5,400 ball pit balls and made his dog the happiest dog in the world.

 

I hope something here got your mental corn popping.

Be well until next Tipsday!

thoughtythursday2016

Bidding farewell to 2017

Greetings, all!

K. Tempest Bradford shared something that Catherynne Valente wrote:

“If this were a trilogy, 2016 would be the explosively dramatic establishment of conflict. 2017 would be the lowest point, when all seems lost. And 2018 would be the redemption, the triumph snatched from defeat at the last moment, the victory over darkness. Here’s to 2018.”

As a writer of science fiction and fantasy, this struck me as true. Not real, but true.

Not only has the political situation been depressing (Trump and Brexit), but also continued terror attacks, refugees in the millions, mass shootings, sexual assault and harassment revelations, floods, fire, hurricanes, and cyclones … it really feels as if the world is falling apart on all levels.

Even I, as a Canadian, shielded from much of the douche-baggery rampant in the world, have felt the weight of depression more this year that in the several preceding. I’m still struggling with burnout, but I know that I’m in good company. Many of the authors, mostly American, that I follow online have expressed similar sentiments, though for different, and many more dire, reasons.

John Scalzi has had to slow the pace of his writing to deal. Kameron Hurley has had the medical rug pulled out from under her and is seeking to move to Canada, or at least to some place she doesn’t need to shell out thousands a month for the medication she needs to save her life.

Though Chuck Wendig initially expressed similar sentiments at the beginning of the year, he is also considering a move to another state, where state medical benefits can shore up the deficits in the national plan.

But even in 2017, some good things happened. Another thing I saw this morning was former president Obama’s tweets about some of those events.

Communities struck by tragedy have rallied to support their members. Whistle blowers have spoken out and inspired other victims to do the same. There is hope, even in the midst of the dark tea time of the soul. There can be no shadow without the light.

Trump hasn’t been half as successful as he says, and although he managed to dismantle the accessible healthcare act and protection for dreamers, his continual public displays of ignorance, misogyny, and other-phobia, combined with the scandals that continue to dog his heels give me hope for the future.

Then again, I (and so many other people) never thought he’d get into office in the first place.

Brexit proceeds, as it must, changing the political and trade landscape of Europe.

Global warming continues to mess with weather patterns creating monster storms, floods, and conditions ideal for wildfires.

Even here, in north eastern (more like central) Ontario we’ve felt the effects. In the last couple of years, we’ve had green Christmases. This year, it looked like the same thing was going to happen. We had a lovely, warm fall, but then the snow arrived on its usual schedule. And then we got hammered by cold temperatures we usually don’t see until January or February. New Year’s celebrations across Canada have been cancelled or moved indoors because it’s too cold to ask people to stand outside for very long.

Even Torvi, who I’m convinced has husky in her, who loves to stay outside much longer than her humans can bear to, is doing the cold paw dance and willingly comes inside once her business is done.

But the winter solstice is past and it’s getting lighter a little earlier each day. I have hope that this, too, shall pass.

I have hope that mid-term elections in the States will shift the balance of power in senate and congress.

I have hope that as more people speak out against injustice, the rest of the world will finally listen.

I have hope that we can turn the tide in our dependence of fossil fuels and invest more in renewable energy before it’s too late.

The point is, I have hope. I hope for a lot of things, but I have hope.

In the summer, when I embarked on the Writing Excuses Cruise, I wanted to make a breakthrough of some kind. I’ve been feeling for a couple of year that I’ve been on the cusp of something. I know. I’m a slow learner, I guess. I got my breakthrough, but not in the way I expected.

It took Emma Newman to ask me to look deeper for the source of my prolonged burnout. I immediately felt resistance to the suggestion, which told me it was exactly what I needed to do. I cracked the shell on the cruise, but it’s taken me some time to muck about in the goo within to come to terms.

When I first exposed my tender underbelly to a group of writers, I thought I finally had my past trauma under my thumb. I mistakenly thought that my inner editor, informed by a series of threshold guardian experiences, was the thing I had to conquer.

Yes and no.

I had to overcome the inner editor to believe that my work was good enough to submit. It wasn’t long after that, that I started to get second readings, short list placements, contest wins, and finally, a couple of paid publications. So it was work I had to do.

Then I stalled.

Those threshold guardian experiences instilled in me an instinctive, but wrong-headed, mistrust of editors, critique partners, and generally anyone else in whose hands I might put my words. Though I’ve worked with a few editors, took their advice, and worked to improve my stories, I think part of me has been trying to sabotage my own efforts. The resistance has always been there, the distrust.

So that’s my big goal for 2018. I have a critique group, and I’m going to work it. I’m going to open myself up and see if I can’t make one of my novels into something that agents and editors will like.

So … there it is, out in the world. My big, scary goal for 2018.

Be vulnerable. Get out of my own way.

And hope that everything will turn out for the best in the end.

Have a triumphant 2018, everyone!

Until the New Year, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

Muse-inks