Ah, the weather’s already getting cooler. This summer was a good one up in northeastern Ontario. I’m sad to see the shortening days, this year.
Having said that, it’s pumpkin spice latte season!
Your monthly PSAs:
All lives cannot matter until Black, Indigenous, and people of colour lives matter.
Continue to observe public health guidelines (washing hands, maintaining physical distance, masking where you can’t, getting your vaccinations as recommended). Covid is endemic and new variants continue to crop up. Take care of yourselves and the people you love.
Russia’s unprovoked war in the Ukraine continues and continues to be deplorable. It’s been six months and there’s still no end in sight. I stand with the Ukraine.
Reproductive rights are everyone’s fight.
The month in writing
I was all over place in August. Some revision on Reality Bomb, a little short fiction, a little poetry, blogging, a little work on the Ascension series, some review of Alice in Thunderland (my alt-history/steampunk project), and I worked on a beta review as part of an exchange.
In terms of projects I’m tracking, here’s how the month worked out:
For RB, I didn’t put a revision goal up, but my main thrust is to cut 25k words from the last draft while also strengthening the plot and character arc. I didn’t count the days when I cut but noted when I added words. I’m still in the first half of the novel, which doesn’t need a lot of cutting.
I added 626 words but reduced the overall wordcount by just over 200 words. Not bad.
In terms of blogging, my massive July update contributed to achieving 142% of my 5,500-word goal (7818 words).
Short fiction stalled partway through the month after only writing 232 words. That’s 15% of my 1,500-word goal.
I set my poetry goal at 10 poems again and only wrote 8 (80%). I’m trying to turn my hand to capturing my autistic journey in poetry on the recommendation of a friend, but the result isn’t satisfactory. They’re all rather pedestrian. Lists of events, symptoms, reactions. I’ll have to revisit the lot of them at some future time. They’re not coming to life for me. Maybe poetry isn’t the medium for this? I don’t know.
With regard to projects I’m not tracking, I worked a little on the Ascension series master document based on the reading I’d completed to date. Then, I set it aside once other priorities started to take precedence.
I worked on my critique for the author I’d agreed to do a critique exchange with. It’s almost done. I’m hoping to be finished in the next day or so.
And I worked on my OAC grant application (see next section for more on that).
On Friday, August 12, I read an excerpt of “Torvi, Viking Queen” at the launch of Pirating Pups at When Words Collide (WWC). It was a lovely, intimate reading, done virtually. More on WWC in “filling the well.”
I also started my search for an editor/book coach to get RB ready to query. I’m now thinking that I’ll be ready to work with someone in October. There have been emails, intake forms, zoom meetings, and all kinds of administrivia going on around that effort.
I attended the CAA Board orientation on August 22nd. It’s the first time I’ve actually been able to attend one of these. Informative, but intimidating.
And I attended a special general meeting for SFCanada focused on the implementation of a new anti-harassment policy and amendment of the bylaws on August 27th.
Filling the well
I attended an information session from the Ontario Arts Council about applying for grants on Tuesday, August 9th. And … I started working on my application (!) for a literary creation project grant.
On the weekend of August 12 to 14, it was WWC 2022. I actually signed up for a couple of workshops on Thursday and Friday, and watched a few sessions live over the course of the weekend. I’m hoping that this year, more sessions will be made available on their YouTube channel, because there are always 10 sessions going on at the same time, and I can’t attend everything.
I signed up for a CAA/SFCanada webinar on August 17th with the intent of attending but didn’t have the spoons and ended up watching the replay. The session was presented by Den Valdron on publishing contracts, and he sent an impressive array of samples and resources.
Then, I attended a webinar about writing interiority delivered by agent Cece Lyra of PS Literary on the 18th. It was a-MA-zing. I found out about it after starting to listen to “The Shit No One Tells You About Writing” podcast. I think I’m going to watch the recording a few more times before I lose access.
I also signed up for a Mary Robinette Kowal webinar called “Earth’s future climate: a proactive SF approach” with Dr. Tom Wagner on August 23rd.
The next Tiffany Yates Martin webinar hosted by Jane Friedman focused on suspense and tension. It was during the day on August 24th, so I watched the replay.
Finally, Jane Friedman hosted a free roundtable discussion about the Department of Justice-Penguin Random House antitrust trial on the 26th. Again, it was during the day, and I watched the replay.
I also had an appointment with my optometrist and got myself some new (very expensive) glasses. Progressive lenses, anti-glare, and transitions. I’ll probably take a new headshot when I get them so y’all can see.
What I’m watching and reading
In the viewing department, I watched Lightyear (Disney +). It was fun and, as with most Pixar offerings, sentimental. Poor Buzz is so focused on completing his mission, he doesn’t realize he’s failed to live. The reveal of who Zurg is—I’ll leave that to you to find out. A recommended watch.
Then, I rented Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. Oh. My. God. So good. Everyone’s already said all the things about the movie that I could and then some, so I won’t waste your time. Best movie I’ve seen all year. This is one I want to own. Love and google-eyes, y’all.
The Groot shorts on Disney + were cute. I felt sorry for the … squirrel-bird? And the bonsai. And the mimic. And the little whatever-they-were. Admittedly, in the last instance, Groot felt bad about squishing them, too. And he tried to make it up to the bonsai. Emphasis on tried. Just a root-ball ‘o’ chaos, Groot.
I watched the last episode of season 4 of WestWorld on August 14th. The writers’ collective fondness for not letting their audience know when they’re watching continues to be irritating. Everything comes together, eventually, but until it does, the viewer is left feeling confused and stupid.
Dolores is now Christina, who works at a gaming company, writing stories for in-game characters. Her alternate, Charlotte Hale, has now *SPOILERS* created a world in which most people have been infected by what I assume is a technological virus, which makes them subservient to the AIs. There’s a resistance cell of people who’ve managed to avoid or are resistant to the virus (delivered by fly—I get it, but ew!) and they’re trying to defeat the AIs and free the humans.
Caleb, who died last season, appears to be back, but his consciousness has been repeatedly uploaded into a host body, which we know from past seasons never works out well. His daughter, Frankie/Cookie/C, leads the outliers as the resistance is called, and one of her main missions is to find her father.
Bernard returns from the Sublime, having run infinite simulations about how things in the world outside will turn out. Stubbs has been his faithful guardian in the meantime and the two set off to find the outliers, resurrect Maeve, who was killed early in the season (and then again later—but what is later, really?), infiltrate Hale’s city to rescue what’s left of Caleb, and set the next iteration of WW into motion.
Almost everyone dies in the end, but Christina is returned to the Sublime by Hale (after which Hale commits suicide) and begins her final, most dangerous experiment, which looks suspiciously like the original WW she was built for. Frankie gets back to her people, which are the only humans left alive after AI-William sets every other AI and human into a homicidal/suicidal frenzy. *END SPOILERS*
I guess we’ll see what Dolores has in store for us some time in 2023 or 4, now that Ed Harris spilled the beans that filming on season five will begin next spring.
I watched Luck (Apple +) next. I like anything Simon Pegg’s in, even if he’s a cat 🙂 It’s a cute story. Sam is the unluckiest person in the world. She’s just aged out of an adoption centre but wants better for a young friend (a forever home). She has her own apartment and new job. We follow her through a typical day, just to set up the fact that if any can go wrong for Sam, it will. Until she shares a panini with a black cat and finds a lucky penny for her friend when it leaves.
The next day, penny in pocket, Sam can do no wrong. Despite enjoying the hell out of her new luck, she’s going to give the lucky penny to her friend. Until she accidentally flushes it down a toilet. Re-enter the black cat, to whom she tells her tale of woe. And when he demands, in a Scottish accent, “What did you do that for?” Sam’s whole world changes. Fun and sweet and feel-good.
Phil and I watch Fullmetal Alchemist: The Revenge of Scar (Netflix). This is the second of the live-action FMA movies and does follow the FMA: Brotherhood series of events. Phil and I have seen all the iterations of the anime, animated movies, and now the live-action movies. If you’re a fan, you’ll want to watch it.
After a month of being locked out of Goodreads, they’ve finally fixed the issue. And I’m still five books behind in my reading challenge, even after entering the books I read during the outage 😦
I read Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone. While it appears to be the first book published, it’s the third in the series (as its title implies). On his site, Gladstone says each book is standalone and I found this to be true. There was only a little bit of disorientation, but I find that I like books that expect me to figure things out on my own. I enjoyed the legal/spiritual/craft interweave in the novel and the world building, based on the magic system, is superb.
Then, I finished Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad. It’s been a while since I watched the series on Amazon, but, in this instance, I like the book better. It’s cleaner than the series and more direct. Cora’s journey is Cora’s alone and the cruelties of the slave owners and catchers aren’t explained. There’s no need for explanation.
Next, I read The North-West is Our Mother by Jean Teillet. It’s a non-fiction book about the history of the Métis Nation. It was an interesting and informative read.
I read Micaiah Johnson’s The Space Between Worlds in gulps (it was just so tasty!). Traversers are recruited for a peculiar reason: they die a lot—in alternate realities. Because you can’t traverse to a world in which your alternate exists. The multiverse kills you for the offense.
Earth Zero identifies worlds that are similar enough to have the same resources and similar technologies because the main thrust of the traversers is information. Once the prospect world’s resources and technologies are identified, automated missions extract them to enrich Earth Zero.
I don’t want to get into the plot because it would be major spoilage and I don’t want to deny you the treat of reading this book for yourself.
Then, I finished Elan Mastai’s All Our Wrong Todays. I’ll be brief about this one too. It’s another fabulous read.
Tom Barren is a chrononaut, but he’s also a fuck-up and after he manages to derail the inaugural time travel mission, he breaks his timeline. How he tries to fix it is the story. And it’s hilarious and heartbreaking in equal measure.
And that was the month in this writer’s life.
Until next tipsday, be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!