Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, March 22-28, 2020

I hope you’re all keeping safe and well.

I’m now working from home and only leaving to walk the dog. Phil continues to be our designated shopper. We’re all remaining as isolated as possible given the circumstances.

While you’re at home, you might have the time to catch up on your informal writerly learnings.

Julianna Baggott is creating in the time of quarantine. Liz Michalski: sea glass. Heather Webb says, the beauty is in the words. John J Kelley: for the love of Moira—the arc of a memorable character. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland touts the power of hopeful stories in a stressful time. Helping Writers Become Authors

E.J. Wenstrom explains how authors can build a true community of fans. Later in the week, Savannah Cordova lists five signs your story’s structure needs work. DIY MFA

Shaelin shares six ways to improve your craft. Reedsy

Barbara Linn Probst visit’s Jane Friedman’s blog to explain the when, why, and how of peer critique and professional editing.

Lisa Hall-Wilson explains how to write compelling emotional triggers. Ellen Buikema explores white space on the page. Writers in the Storm

The Take takes on the weird girl trope.

Chris Winkle helps you make the most of your narrative premise. Then, Oren Ashkenazi explains why zombies aren’t a good pandemic parallel. Mythcreants

Meg LaTorre shares ten fantasy tropes she loves. iWriterly

Jami Gold explains how point of view affects dialogue.

Nina Munteanu: dreams and perceptions and “the other.”

Robert Lee Brewer clarifies fable vs. parable vs. allegory. Writer’s Digest

Adrienne Westenfeld recommends the best books for distancing yourself from reality right now. Esquire

Open Culture introduces us to the world’s first author: the Sumerian High Priestess Enheduanna.

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

Until Thursday, be well!

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 5-11, 2020

It’s a lovely, sunny Sunday after 20 cm of snow. Please enjoy these informal writerly learnings!

Janice Hardy shares three things to remember when revising from a critique. Later in the week, Janice help you craft hook lines that draw readers in. Fiction University

Christopher Hoffmann: what your dialogue tags say about you. Then, Sangeeta Mehta interviews Jim McCarthy and Paula Munier about what it means to be a full-time author. Finally, Jane herself lists five common story openings you want to avoid—if you can help it. Jane Friedman

Tamar Sloan offers a writer’s roadmap to capturing an unhappy relationship. Writers Helping Writers

Jenna Moreci lists her favourite family tropes.

Nancy Johnson finds a new year brings fresh author envy. “But anticipatory angst is real, if a bit irrational, and I sometimes envy authors who make lists I’m not even eligible for, wondering if my own trajectory will be on par with theirs.” Juliet Marillier wants to be a light in the darkness. What will you use your writerly superpowers for this year? Kathryn Craft is bridging temporal story gaps. David Corbett: wherein we resume our discussion of evil. Writer Unboxed

Jenn Walton hopes you’ll use personality tests to enhance character development. Heather Viera shares five tips for creating a relaxing workspace. DIY MFA

Julie Glover: will your character fight, flee, or freeze? Writers in the Storm

Chris Winkle lists five masquerade explanations and why they’re bad. Then, Oren Ashkenazi points out six military blunders in speculative fiction. Mythcreants

Chuck Wendig blogs at clouds (to make a point about blogging). Terribleminds

Robert Lee Brewer distinguishes between heroes and heros. Writer’s Digest

Hélène Schumacher: is this the most powerful word in the English language? BBC

Georgie Hoole introduces us to Cecil Court: the secret alley full of curious old bookshops. Secret London

Thanks for your time and attention. I hope you came away with something you need for your current work in progress.

Until next time, be well, my writerly friends 🙂

Tipsday2019

The next chapter: September 2019 update

Ah, October. My favourite month, mostly ‘cause my birthday 🙂 Yes. I’m a child.

The month in writing

We’re just going to get right to it.

SeptProgress

I made the decision to post only two book reviews this month (though one was of two novellas), and so I was a bit short of my blogging goal. 5,071 words of my 5,600-word goal, or 91%.

I got my latest Speculations written and submitted early because I headed down to Toronto for a day-job learning event. I wrote 1,327 words of my 1,000-word goal, or 133%.

I wrote all of 50 new words on short story number two and revised 41 words on short story number one. Even with a meagre 500-word goal for each, that was 10% and 8% respectively.

I went through the poetry collection again. This one, I decided to track by the number of poems revised. 51 of 51, or 100%. I have one more pass to make before the collection is ready for submission. I hope to get that done this month.

I got my second rejection on my poetry. Will send out more submissions.

In non-tracking projects, the read-through of Ascension continues. I’m almost finished with book three and will move onto book for this month.

I’m also 31 handwritten pages into revision notes for the SF novel that didn’t know what it was. It’s shaping up and I should be ready for my stint as a NaNo rebel next month.

I’ve also critiqued another project for my online critique group and have moved on to another.

One thing I’ve learned in the past few months is that you can still be a working writer, even if you’re not producing a lot of words. Not all writing is writing. Sometimes it’s reading, critiquing, planning, and thinking. You have to make space for all of it.

Filling the well

No writerly events in September, but I did get together with a couple of writer friends for and evening of Thai food and chat. It was just what I needed to refresh and refocus.

No pictures. Sorry.

Here are a few of my random photos from the last month instead 🙂

What I’m watching and reading

This month, Phil and I watched Carnival Row. We enjoyed the gritty, alternate world, the murder mystery wrapped up in a tragic origin story, and cheesy prophecy trope. It was nice how most of the story elements were connected to the main plot and so, as events unfolded, the characters developed and changed accordingly.

The final season of Killjoys came to an end in September as well. I didn’t appreciate all the creative choices that were made in this final season. Several of them felt forced, or worse, contrived. The series has always been more fun than philosophical, though, and things ended well.

I finished watching the first season of The Order. It really didn’t know what it wanted to be. Magical university? Werewolf story? Magical revenge tale? Things were tied together loosely, and the ending was disappointing. The titular order erases the memories of the werewolves and steals all their artefacts and research library. Really, I was left wondering why I should care.

Finally, The OA. The first season kind of ruined me with the second to last episode. When the box of incriminating books was found and everyone basically abandoned Prairie, deciding that she must be crazy/delusional, it completely undermined everything that happened in the final episode. Having broken my credibility, the series could not restore it. I basically went through the motions to finish watching, because I prefer to have a complete picture.

I wasn’t going to watch the second season, but I wanted to see how they could possibly move forward. And, honestly, it wasn’t horrible. The second season suffered from some of the same issues as the first, however. I watched it with a sceptic’s eye, distrusting everything the creators asked me to take on faith. Again, things were building to a climax and then, Pairie/Nina and Hap end up jumping to a universe in which they are Brit Marling and Jason Isaacs on a movie set. Oh, yeah. Though Michelle’s soul was retrieved by detective Karim, there was no real resolution for those left behind in the first universe, or for Homer, who finally remembered who he was but was trapped in the second.

I’m glad there won’t be a season three. At least, that’s the word on the interwebz at the moment.

Reading wise, I finished Mary Robinette Kowal’s Ghost Talkers, in which a corps of mediums help the allies in an alternate WWII. Loved. Kowal has indicated that she would like to revisit the world, but her Lady Astronaut books are demanding her time and creative energy at the moment.

I also finished Matthew Hughes’ What the Wind Brings, which he unabashedly calls his magnum opus. This was historical fiction, and I reviewed it last month.

Sarah Gailey’s A Taste of Marrow was next, and I enjoyed this second novella in her alternate America inspired by a strange-but-true plan to import hippos. This was my second posted book review last month and I looked at both novellas, which have been combined in one volume as American Hippo.

After I finished watching the last season of The Handmaid’s Tale, I finally read the book that inspired the series. I enjoyed the book more than some of Atwood’s others, I have to say, though it does share some of the aspects that I found problematic. June is another unreliable narrator, but why wouldn’t she be? The June of the book is never dependably identified by that name, though there is some speculation in the symposium appended to the end of the novel. She lives in fear, far more fear than Elizabeth Moss portrays in the series. She’s far less empowered. June is, essentially, a slave. It makes for an oddly distanced read.

Finally, I read Sean Carroll’s Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime, which I enjoyed though much of the content was over my head. Frankly, it blew my mind a bit. I read this one for research. It ties into the SF novel I want to revise.

Again, selected reviews will be forthcoming.

And that was September in this writer’s life.

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

The Next Chapter

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Sept 22-28, 2019

Welcome to October, when everything is pumpkin spice! And thus, I must inflict upon you the guinea pigs:

Now that you’ve survived that, please enjoy some informal writerly learnings.

Janice Hardy helps you figure out which opening works best in a novel. Then, she hopes you don’t let your plot hijack your story. Fiction University

Susan Spann wants you to throw your writing from the train. Heather Webb offers some do’s and don’ts of writing query letters. Writer Unboxed

Lori Freeland lists the up and down sides of critique groups. Writers in the Storm

K.M. Weiland says, if you’re struggling to be creative, this might be why. Helping Writers Become Authors

Joanna Penn interviews Jen Louden about trusting your creativity and choosing yourself. The Creative Penn

Sara Letourneau differentiates between topic and theme. Richelle Lyn offers five steps to creating your writing wind up (setting the stage for a productive writing session). DIY MFA

Nathan Bransford wants you to let the reader diagnose your characters.

Kris Kennedy returns to Jami Gold’s blog with the fifth and final part of the avoid infodumping by making backstory essential series.

Jenna Moreci shares her top ten science fiction tropes.

Gavin Hurley looks at effective repetition in writing as demonstrated by A Song of Ice and Fire. Writer’s Digest

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

Until Thursday, be well, my writerly friends!

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Sept 8-14, 2019

I present this week’s batch of informal writerly learnings 🙂

Daryl Rothman visits Helping Writers Become Authors: how to write stories that matter with writing’s secret formula.

Jim Dempsey wants you to give useful criticism. Kathryn Craft studies showing through exposition. Juliet Marillier considers publicity and the introvert. David Corbett is turning a terrible truth into compelling fiction. Kathryn Magendie is living the dreamy dreamland. Writer Unboxed

Shaelin explains how to write a scene. Reedsy

Jami Gold considers what’s stopping our characters: avoiding change. Writers Helping Writers

Kris Kennedy returns to Jami Gold’s blog for part three of her avoid infodumping by making backstory essential series.

Nathan Bransford lists seven reasons your characters feel flat. Then, Nathan lays out your options in hybrid publishing.

Manuela Williams explains how to use Pinterest to create an author brand board. DIY MFA

Fae Rowan shares ten more f-words for writers and their characters. Writers in the Storm

Sophia Jeppson explains how to make time travel logical. Oren Ashkenazi considers five ridiculous organizations from popular series. Mythcreants

Robert Lee Brewer explains the difference between prophesy and prophecy. Then, he tackles the difference between allude and elude. Writer’s Digest

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you found the information you need to move forward with your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well, my friends!

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 11-17, 2019

It’s time to dig into another week’s worth of informal writerly learnings 🙂

Elizabeth A. Harvey is remembering Toni Morrison. Then, Nancy Johnson shows us how Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye offers a masterclass in craft. Porter Anderson: murders she didn’t write, a provocation on writers in the context of real world gun violence. Rheea Mukherjee: negotiating social privilege as a writer. Jim Dempsey wants you to explore the wonders of your character’s world view. Sarah Callender forgets to remember that writing is an act of faith. Writer Unboxed

Jenna Moreci helps you get back into the writing habit after a break.

C.S. Lakin visits Helping Writers Become Authors: how to evoke reader emotions with “surprisingness.” Then, she heads over to Larry Brook’s Storyfix to explain how to effectively “tell” emotions in fiction.

Emily Wenstrom offers three tips for creating your author newsletter before you’re published. And here’s my latest column: find storytelling inspiration with the women of the Kalevala. Constance Emmett shares five tips for surviving rejection. DIY MFA

Lisa Hall-Wilson shares four ways to go deeper with point of view. Then, Laura Drake starts with character first. Writers in the Storm

Michelle Barker wants you to remember that the wand chooses the wizard. Writers Helping Writers

Janice Hardy explains why you want nitpicky critiquers. Fiction University

Robert Lee Brewer explains the difference between slight of hand and sleight of hand. Writer’s Digest

Some reassuring advice from Chris Winkle: why you shouldn’t worry about someone stealing your manuscript. Then, Oren Ashkenazi offers advice on choosing naval tactics for your pre-gunpowder world. Mythcreants

Sam Bleicher offers some unusual writing tips on dealing with facts in science fiction. The Creative Penn

Ferris Jabr: the story of storytelling. Harper’s

Thanks for visiting. Come back on Thursday for some thoughty.

Until then, be well!

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, July 14-20, 2019

The weeks continue to march along, whether we want them to or not. Summer’s passing too fast! Console yourself with some informal writerly learnings.

Jan O’Hara extolls the life-changing magic of zeroing non-writing commitments. Carol Newman Cronin says, there are no wasted words: power to the pantsers! Julie Carrick Dalton is interrogating characters about their motivations. Writer Unboxed

Manuela Williams looks at five mistakes you’re making with your author brand (and how to avoid them). Pamela Taylor is extrapolating the past. DIY MFA

Reedsy examines the chosen one trope.

Robert Lee Brewer: everyday vs. every day. Writer’s Digest

Jeri Bronson’s married to a coroner and she explains the hows, whys and the WHAT?! Writers in the Storm

Jenna Moreci answers all your critique partner questions.

Lisa Cron poses three simple questions that will unlock your story. Writers Helping Writers

Nathan Bransford explains how authors make money.

Angela Ackerman visits Jami Gold’s blog to explain how to avoid the boring stuff in character descriptions. Then, Kassandra Lamb stops by: what’s the right way to include multiple POVs?

Oren Ashkenazi examines six stories with failed turning points. Mythcreants

Nina Munteanu considers Vonnegut’s ice-nine and superionic ice. Science!

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you found something you need to help you with your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well, my writerly friends!

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, July 7-13, 2019

Looking for some informal writerly learnings? Here they are!

Jim Dempsey offers some fiction therapy: achieve your writing goals. Juliet Marillier explains why editing matters. Then, David Corbett shares the content of his Thrillerfest workshop about characters in search of a moral compass. Writer Unboxed

Sacha Black explains why every novel needs a sprinkling of fear. Writers Helping Writers

How to write with multiple POVs. Reedsy

Julie Cantrell wonders, should authors break free from their brands? Then, Julie Glover shares seven tips for finding a great critique partner. Writers in the Storm

Jenna Moreci shares her top ten romance tropes.

Rebecca Fish Ewen explains how to draw nothing. DIY MFA

Chris Winkle lists five information technology blunders and how to fix them. Then, Oren Ashkenazi examines five popular tropes writers struggle with. Mythcreants

Show, don’t tell, the Reedsy way.

Nathan Bransford explains why Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island works. This novel was one of two I focused on for my independent study in grade 12 English class. I have a fondness, and a bias 😉

I’m putting this in tipsday, because reasons. The Lost Words Blessing – The Lost Words.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found something useful.

Until Thursday, be well, my writerly friends!

Tipsday2019

The next chapter: June 2019 update

Happy July, everyone! The summer weather has finally arrived in my area of the world. I hope you’re enjoying the season, whatever it is where you live.

And now, it’s time for my next chapter update for June 2019.

The month in writing

My “big” project continues to be my reread, restructuring, and preparation for revision of my Ascension series. As with many of my plans or goals, what I hoped to accomplish at the beginning of the year is changing.

To be specific, I had hoped that by the end of June, I’d have read through all five novels and be ready to start revising book one. Here, in July, I’m still reading through book one … As a result, I’ve decided that I’m just going to focus on laying the groundwork for future revisions. I’m going to continue reading through the series through to the end of September. For now.

While I’ve reviewed the various documents that will make up my series bible, I haven’t yet done the work of pulling everything together. This is part of the work I have to do to get ready for revising. I’m not sure if I’ll have this done before I have to shift gears into NaNo prep.

One of the challenges that I’ve been facing is that, since April, as I’ve noted in past updates, the day job has kicked into high gear. I finish most days exhausted and unable to nab even a little time during breaks of lunch to devote to my WIP. In the early months of this year, there was some downtime that I was able to capitalize on.

Also, I’ve been critiquing, which takes up time in the evening that I might otherwise use to work on my series. Accordingly, I’ve adjusted my goal, but what I’ll accomplish by the end of September is a bit up in the air. Sometimes we have to do what we can and live within the uncertainty.

Still it’s important work and I’m doing it, regardless of the pace 🙂

I blogged 4,073 words of my 2,600-word goal, or 157%.

Toward the end of the month, I got back to my short fiction. While I didn’t reach my 1,000-word goal, I wrote 693 words, or 69%. While this is, strictly speaking, revision of my January short story, most or the work is new. I’ve added scenes and switched things up. In the end, I think the story will be closer to 5,000 words than the 2,500 I’d planned on. It’ll be a better story, but I have a feeling that this draft won’t be the end of my work on the piece.

Revision-wise, I got Reality Bomb ready for critique and it is now posted. I had hoped to get the draft up to 80,000 words, but I’m still 1,175 words short of that. Still, 99% is good. It’s not a huge gap and it gives me room to work with. I’m nervous because there’s a lot of material in the novel that I’m not sure works. We’ll see what my critique group thinks.

JuneProgress

And that’s all the writing and revision I accomplished this past month.

Filling the well

On June 20th, A couple of poet friends, Kim Fahner and Tom Leduc, held a reading at One Sky they called On the Cusp of the Solstice. After their sets, the evening became an open mic and we got to hear five other local poets share their work. It was a great evening and a lovely, artistic venue.

What I’m watching and reading

I watched the final season of A series of Unfortunate Events. It was okay. I know it adhered fairly closely to the books (which I haven’t read) and I understand the choice not to give the Beaudelaires a happy ending, but it felt unsatisfactory because most of that denouement happened off-screen and the story was given to Lemony and Beatrice the second. In a way, the story was always Lemony’s, but he never did anything to propel the narrative, so it felt like a cheat.

I also finished the most recent season of Homeland released to Netflix. I think they’re a season behind what’s on the network, but I prefer to watch some shows when I want to rather than when the network wants me to. It was dark, as every season of Homeland has been to date. The twist at the end was interesting and promises a climactic next season. We’ll see.

I finally reached the end of season one of Man in the High Castle. I know I’m behind in this one, but I watch multiple series at the same time on both Netflix and Amazon Prime (like, between six and ten at any given time) and I only watch them on the weekends or days off and that means slow progress. I enjoy where the series is going and the characters. It’s interesting to see what they’re doing with another of Dick’s shorter works.

Phil and I devoured Good Omens. We loved it. I know a good deal has been made of focusing the story on Azirophale and Crowley because they are secondary characters. Like Lemony Snicket, above, they don’t really do anything to progress the plot or save the world. They just mess up and luck into every win. Still, I loved seeing David Tennant on screen again and Crowley’s friendship with Azirophale is a beautiful thing.

We also enjoyed Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse. I LOLed quite a bit. The movie didn’t take itself seriously and mocked its own tropes. I see why a lot of people consider it one of the best Marvel property movies (even though it was a Sony movie), better even than Endgame. I think comparing the two isn’t something that can be done. They’re both their own beasts.

Valerian remains in limbo, and Phil and I, on the strength of our liking of the original, checked out Reboot: The Guardian Code. One episode and I was, no. So no.

Reading-wise, I finished American Gods, which I liked much more than the Amazon Prime series. Events and gods have been juggled in the series so much that it’s almost unrecognizable. I recommend the book, though I did enjoy the series on its own merits.

For my literary selection, I read Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. I know it was probably the author’s intention, but I was alternately depressed and enraged throughout the novel. I still have unsettled feelings about it, and I think it will take some time to come to an understanding.

I read Sarah Negovetich’s Rite of Rejection, her YA dystopian. The story has similarities to books like The Handmaid’s Tale, in that society has doubled down on traditional gender roles and anyone considered divergent is identified through their activities (arrested) or by “the machine” which identifies those with undesirable traits. In both cases, undesirables are sent to camps so that they will never be able to spread dissent or reproduce. It’s another stark book, but I’ll probably read the rest of the series.

Finally, I listened to both volumes of The Outlandish Companion on Audible. It was a great refresh of the series, the Lord John books, and the interstitial shorts along with a lot of fascinating insights into Gabaldon’s process, research, and tasty tidbits about the series. It was a nice palate cleanser 🙂

And that was this month in the writerly life.

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

The Next Chapter

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 9-15, 2019

Here we are, in mid-June, half-way through the year. Celebrate whatever you’ve accomplished and enjoy some informal writerly learnings 🙂

Arthur Klepchukov says, word count goals shouldn’t be your only goals. Jim Dempsey explains how to respond to criticism. Sarah Callender considers things she forgets to remember when she’s writing a novel: mood. Kathryn Craft: when something good incites story. Writer Unboxed

Julie Glover shares five tips for writing great dialogue from The Gilmour Girls. Barbara Linn Probst takes a fresh look at “writing what you know.” Writers in the Storm

Jenna Moreci returns with part three of her dialogue series: it’s all about tags.

K.M. Weiland lists six requirements for writing better character goals. Helping Writers Become Authors

Jami Gold: are story goals slowing your pace? Writers Helping Writers

Then, Jami follows up on her own blog: can passive goals ever be good for our stories?

Alexa Donne shares her magic editing hack that fixes pacing.

Nathan Bransford lists the most common mistakes writers make. Then he explains what it takes to write a good climax for a novel.

Leanne Sowul wants you to balance the supply and demand of the writing life. DIY MFA

Sarah McGuire explains how to guide a critique. Fiction University

Cat Rose explains how to survive a conference even if you’re an introvert. The Creative Penn

Bunny helps you select classical music to set any scene. Then, Oren Ashkenazi looks at four problematic tropes to drop and what you can do instead. Mythcreants

Jane van Koerverden reports on the $6K literary award to honour YA books written in an indigenous language. CBC

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found something of value in the mix.

Until Thursday, be well. See you then 🙂

Tipsday2019