The next chapter: August 2022 update

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!

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, April 17-23, 2022

Happy Tuesday! You survived Monday 🙂 Reward yourself with some informal writerly learnings.

Sara Farmer enters the not-so-elementary university of Sherlock Holmes, part 1. Then, LA Bourgeois wants you to acknowledge your limitations and set your stage for success. Gabriela Pereira interviews GG Kellner about using history to speculate the future and change the present. Then, F.E. Choe helps you create your own writing space at home. Gracie Bialecki bemoans the double-edged sword of deadlines. Finally, Ashley Christiano lists five ways astrology can help you write your novel. DIY MFA

Jill Bearup says choreography doesn’t matter.

Jan O’Hara: and the Oscar for best reality show script goes to Will Smith (or, writerly takeaways from the infamous slap). Dave King is in search of faith and goodness. Then, Barbara Linn Probst considers time: backstory, flashback, and chronology. Natalie Hart wonders what if you gave up? Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland outlines the six challenges of writing a second novel. Helping Writers Become Authors

Shaelin shares 11 writing exercises to help break writer’s block. Reedsy

Becca Puglisi shares creative ways to brainstorm story ideas. Then, Lynette M. Burrows presents one plotting tool for all. Ellen Buikema continues her literary tour of the senses with the power of vision in writing. Writers in the Storm

Alice Gaines offers three tools for deep point of view. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Margaret McNellis helps you tell your story with three tarot cards. Then, Catherine Baab-Maguira explains why Frankenstein still sells 40,000 copies a year. Jane Friedman

Erica Brozovsky talks about pronouns: the little words that say a lot. Otherwords | PBS Storied

Lisa Hall-Wilson offers one reason readers cheer for unlikeable characters. Then, Angela Ackerman explains how writers can turn the page this spring. Writers Helping Writers

Tiffany Yates Martin: “Leave me alone—I know what I’m doing.” Fox Print Editorial

Kristen Lamb: small steps and the value of just showing up.

Why we’re still so obsessed with the Heather. The Take

Chris Winkle recommends seven external plots for relationship-centered stories. Then, Oren Ashkenazi wonders how useful Michael Moorcock’s ten rules of writing are.  Mythcreants

Angie Hodapp helps you balance the explainable with the inexplicable in speculative fiction. Then, Kristin Nelson says all the writing talent in the world won’t save the wrong story. Pub Rants

Why is Turning Red getting so many weird reviews? Xiran Jay Zhao

Alana Pickerel: new poster exhibit by the Sudbury Writers’ Guild highlights Sudbury’s rainbow hospital. CTV Northern Ontario

Alan Neal interviews John Degen of the Writers’ Union of Canada about proposed Copyright Act changes. CBC’s “All in a Day”

Thanks for taking the time to stop by, and I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 30-June 5, 2021

It’s time, once again, to fill up on informal writerly learnings.

Tom Bentley concerns himself with the fictions of our minds. Kathryn Magendie helps you find your DIY-style voice. Donald Maass wants you to get real. Liza Nash Taylor says, we only see the weeds. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland delves into the flat archetype of the lover in part 17 of her archetypal character arcs series. Helping Writers Become Authors

These shoes will kill you. Jill Bearup

Margie Lawson wonders, what’s your body language IQ? Writers in the Storm

Bella Mahaya Carter says, ask for what you want, writers. Then, Kim Catanzarite shows you how to stoke your mental fire (if you have brain strain). Jane Friedman

Shaelin discusses how to work with a professional editor. Reedsy

Angela Ackerman shares two words that will supercharge your writing career. (Spoilers: good enough.) Jessica Conoley helps you build your writing support triangle with part 1: critique. Colleen M. Story lists seven signs that reveal writing is part of your life’s purpose. Writers Helping Writers

On her own channel, Shaelin explains how to turn an idea into a book. Shaelin Writes

Ambre Dawn Leffler wants you to feed your senses for a bounty of creativity. Then, Pamela Taylor considers the unsavory side of authenticity. Later in the week, Stacey Parkins Millett highlights enduring stories steeped in race. DIY MFA

Pneuma: breath as a magic system. Tale Foundry

Bethany Henry explains how to include mental health issues in your fiction. Fiction University

Kristine Kathryn Rusch brings you part four of her fear-based decision-making series: heads, sand, and traditional publishing.

The wild woman trope: a story of radical self-discovery. The Take

Fay Onyx shows us what respectfully depicting a character adapting to a disability looks like. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five poorly motivated villains from popular stories. Mythcreants

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

Until Thursday, be well, my writerly friends!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, March 21-27, 2021

It’s almost the end of March (!) and time to get your informal writerly learnings on 🙂

Erika Liodice shares some lessons found in a lost year. Heather Webb: your writing process says you’re a failure. Later in the week, John J. Kelley shows you what happens when everything changes—capturing profound character moments. Then, Desmond Hall shares his Desmond’s Drops for March. Writer Unboxed

Jill Bearup analyzes the Max vs. Furiosa fight from Mad Max: Fury Road.

K.M. Weiland continues her archetypal character arcs series with part seven: the mage arc. Helping Writers Become Authors

In search of absolute beauty. Like Stories of Old

Janice Hardy points out two words that lead to a stronger novel. Then, she explains how to show (and not tell) without raising your word count. OMG, do I ever need this! Fiction University

Shaelin helps you deal with creative slumps, writer’s block, and low motivation. Favourite quote: “That’s the bitch of capitalism, baby!” Shaelin Writes

Lisa Cooper Ellison wants you to beware of chapter-by-chapter critiques. Then, Susan DeFreitas lists three pitfalls when writing from your own life. Later in the week, Sharon Oard Warner helps you find your way to the end. Jane Friedman

Dr. Erica Brozovsky explores the unexpected origins of the word monster (w/ Dr. Zarka). Otherwords | PBS Storied

Elizabeth Spann Craig helps you handle perfectionism. The perfect is the enemy of the good.

Becca Puglisi asks, what is your character’s emotional shielding and why does it matter? Writers Helping Writers

Nathan Bransford explains how to write clear physical description.

Savannah Cordova busts some of the biggest myths in the publishing industry. Then, Marina Barakatt recounts how the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl takes over comics: not just dudes in tights. Later in the week, Gabriela Pereira interviews Simon Stephenson about voice, emotion, and metastory in a “mistopia.” Then, Stephanie Kane wants you to look at the bigger story. Gracie Bialecki shares five ways to have a healthy relationship of your writing group. DIY MFA

The serial killer trope, explained. The Take

Lisa Hall-Wilson shows you two ways to help readers connect emotionally with your characters. Later in the week, Ellen Buikema lists ten ideas for inspiring your writing with music. Writers in the Storm

Cordia Pearson: horses as change agents in fantasy. Dan Koboldt

Chris Winkle explains how to pace your story. Then, Oren Ashkenazi shares six principles for becoming a better worldbuilder. Mythcreants

David Shield: this Saskatchewan college is home to some of the rarest books in the world. CBC

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, March 7-13, 2021

We’re half-way through March and heading for the vernal equinox. Reward yourself with some informal writerly learnings.

K.M. Weiland continues her archetypal character arcs series with part five: the king arc. Helping Writers Become Authors

Janice Hardy shows you five places to find your novel’s theme. Then, Janice lists four steps for choosing what details to describe in a scene. Later in the week, Angela Ackerman recommends you do this one thing to write unforgettable characters. Fiction University

Princess Weekes: Lovecraft Country … was just not that good. Melina Pendulum

Lisa Cron returns: still crazy after all these years. Then, Jim Dempsey lists five reasons you need a professional editor. Juliet Marillier celebrates wild women. The Cailleach and Baba Yaga, two of my personal favourites! Later in the week, Kathryn Craft explains how authenticity builds a satisfying author career. Then, David Corbett looks at two approaches to dramatizing character change: Emma vs. Hamlet. Writer Unboxed

Shaelin explains how to convey emotion in your writing. Shaelin Writes

Jane Friedman considers which is better for authors, blogging, or an email newsletter. Then, Lisa Cooper Ellison shares three traps that subvert our ability to receive feedback. Jane Friedman

C.S. Lakin explains how to face down writer fear. Live, Write, Thrive

The ice queen trope, explained. The Take

Kris Maze offers five dialogue quick tips for page-turning fiction. Later in the week, Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes list ten common bedroom object to use as weapons. In a pinch. Writers in the Storm

Jami Gold discusses setting as character. Later in the week, David Duhr wonders, do you focus on the doing or the having? Writing process vs. product. Writers Helping Writers

In defense of basic. What does it meme? The Take

Laura Highcove wonders, why does it feel like you can’t write after a writer’s conference? Then, Manuela Williams explains how to nurture your reader community. Later in the week, Elly Griffiths advises you to follow the feet. Then, Angyne Smith shares five things that saved her novel from oblivion. DIY MFA

Jenna Moreci shares her structuring method.

Lucy V. Hay offers a comprehensive guide of ALL. THE. STORY. STRUCTURES. Informative and somewhat overwhelming. Bang 2 Write

Chris Winkle explains why you should watch out for hindrance characters. Then, Oren Ashkenazi points out five problems with focusing on internal conflicts. Mythcreants

Kristen Lamb extols the art of embracing the suck: commitment matters.

Julian Lucas shows how Octavia Butler reimagines sex and survival. The New Yorker

Stephanie Burt: we live in the world of WandaVision. The New Yorker

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found resources to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

The next chapter: January 2021 update

I hope everyone had a good January (after the 6th) and that the slowly lengthening days are infusing you with new energy.

I’ve felt better in recent weeks myself and am taking steps to lose the “covid 19” I put on since March. I’ve recruited Phil, who does the shopping and cooking, my mom, and a friend as a support group. I’m already measuring progress.

While the numbers of covid infections have been dropping due to provincial lockdowns and curfews, I think talk of reopening is premature. We need to stay on track long enough for the vaccination supply, distribution, and scheduling gets back on track. Once the manufacturing issues have been resolved, we should be good.

If we can get daily infection numbers to less than 1000 in the worst-affected provinces (Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and BC) on a stable basis and have our most vulnerable populations (front-line health care workers, seniors, Indigenous peoples, and other POC) vaccinated, we can reconsider. Yes, it’s inconvenient. Yes, the economy is suffering. But I think public health is more important than the economy at the moment. We’ll recover. We’ll survive. The economy will, too.

Locally, we’ve had outbreaks (defined as two or more cases) in several public and high schools, seniors’ residences and nursing homes, a group home, and the hospital. We’ve even identified cases of the “variants of concern.” Again, cases are going down, overall. All sites report that people are self-isolating, getting tested, and that all outbreaks are considered to be under control at this time.

The month in writing

There wasn’t a lot of writing this month. As I mentioned in my last update, I’ve decided not to dive into another novel right away. I want to give myself time to recover from 2020, solidify learning, and prepare to apply lessons learned to existing and new projects. More on this in a bit.

I wrote eight new poems. I’d planned to write seven, and so achieved 114% of my goal. I also submitted two batches of poems, both of which were not accepted, and I sent a proposal for my poetry collection to another small press.

I revised one short story, which was my goal. I’d allotted 1,500 words but ended up deleting more than I wrote. I wrote 187 new words, or only 12% of my goal. Just now, I realized that I forgot to update the word count on the story before I submitted it, but I did submit it. I’ll call it a win.

I also wrote my latest Speculations column for DIY MFA, which was published last week. The column came in at 768 words, or 77% of my 1,000-word goal.

And I blogged 4,532 words, or 129% of my 3,500-word goal.

Overall, I wrote 107% of my goal and revised 12%.

Other than those projects, I have a number of things I’m working on that I’m not tracking. I’m making revision notes for various pieces of short fiction, continuing work on the Ascension series guide, and making some revision notes for Marushka.

I’m also slowly updating this site and other social media images. Nothing major.

A vulnerable time

Three members of my critique group paused and submitted what they’d reviewed to date and asked me if they wanted me to continue. I completely misunderstood one of these messages, thinking that critique partner had chosen to stop altogether at that point.

I was thrown. I sorted out the misunderstanding and asked them all to continue but had to wonder if I’d given everyone the impression that I was especially fragile.

In reviewing the feedback, however, I felt reactive. I didn’t want to be, though. Maybe I am fragile. How can I learn to improve if I don’t know what the problems are? It’s a battle I’ll have to fight with myself.

Last year, I’d rewritten Reality Bomb, not referring to the earlier draft and then I gave it two passes to cut the word count down. I was trying a new approach to revising, because I have a habit on not making substantial revisions if I’m working in the same document. I may cut too much, though, or the wrong things. I may have focused on all the wrong things in the rewrite. Whatever the situation is, there are still significant problems with the draft.

Maybe I’m too much in my head. I approached the whole rewrite and revision too cerebrally. I can’t seem to get the emotion on the page. But I’m very closed down emotionally, in general. I don’t seem to respond to people like they expect. Maybe I’m neurodiverse. I just paused to take a self-assessment and scored high. Maybe I should get formally assessed.

Ultimately, I’ll need this month to develop my approach to reviewing the feedback and the next round of revisions on my novel. It was my hope to address the revisions in the month of March, but there may be so much to improve that I won’t be able to do that. I have to set that worry aside, though. Until I review all the feedback, I won’t have an idea of how much work there is to be done or how I’ll have to adjust my year’s writing plan and goals.

Add to that the fact that I’m in learning mode at work for the first time in 12 years. I’m feeling stupid and wrong and that this acting won’t be extended because I won’t be able to prove myself or be accepted as a member of my new team (cause I’m socially awkward). I’m doubting myself on all fronts.

I know that they way I’m feeling isn’t based in truth. I’ve won contests. I’ve been published in paying markets. I’ve been validated. I’ve had a successful 20-year career in the public service. When I was offered this acting position, my old team offered me an equivalent promotional position to stay. I do not, objectively, suck.

I’m just struggling at a point in my life when I think I shouldn’t be. It’s a massive case of imposter syndrome.

I’ll let you know how it goes, as always.

Filling the well

With the continuing lockdown, there hasn’t been any getting together with friends or family and, for the first time since I started to work from home in March, I’m feeling the lack of community. I have our household: me and Phil and Mom and Torvi. And I’m with them every day.

And that’s it.

I attended four virtual events in January, two workshops, and two readings. I also attended two board meetings for the Canadian Authors Association.

And that’s it. There are a lot of MS Teams meetings for work and I’m still at my peak zoom saturation level.

I’ve just been walking Torvi twice a day (which I must pause to do right now) and living in my own little world. I have to reach out to some friends …

What I’m watching and reading

The most recent season of His Dark Materials finished in January. I’m quite enjoying the series, particularly the chemistry between the actors who play Lyra and Will. There are some distinct differences between the series and the books, but I appreciate the choices made. For example, introducing Will’s plot in the first season.

Discovery also wrapped up its season in January. Though I like the series overall, this season seemed to find its stride better than some of the others. One reason may be because Michael and the Discovery are now in the distant future. They can, for the first time, write their own stories free of the legacies of other ST series.

I finished watching Warrior Nun on Netflix. It was okay. Confusing. And it took the protagonist seven episodes to get over herself and commit to her role as the halo-bearer. The last three episodes were the best of the season, but they shouldn’t have taken half as long to get there.

Also on Netflix was the first season of Snowpiercer just in time to start season two. I’d seen the movie but hadn’t read the graphic novels and liked that they chose not to do (another) reboot.

Finally, Phil and I caught up on the first half of Supernatural, season 15. We just needed to fill in a few gaps (How did Rowena become the queen of hell? How did Jack come back from the divine dead?) and now we have the full picture.

In January, I read/listened to seven books. The first was an Audible Original, Tanya Talaga’s Seven Truths. Loved it. Seven Indigenous teachings. Seven stories told with an emphasis on reconciliation and what it could be if we open ourselves to the possibility.

Then, I read Cherie Dimaline’s Empire of Wild. Fabulous. What would you do if your soul mate went missing for a year and when you finally found him, he claimed not to know you? Based on Métis tales of the Rogarou.

Louise Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God is a dark, post-apocalyptic novel with an unreliable narrator and a disturbing end. It’s a great book and Erdrich is a master of deep POV. It just leaves you thinking about how horrible people can be and how easily the world could turn into literal hell.

Then, I read Rivers Solomon’s The Deep. It’s the story of how the slaves thrown overboard on Atlantic crossings spawned a race of merpeople whose collective trauma is so deep that they decide to entrust it to one of their number. It’s the story of what happens when that one decides to share the burden.

The next book I listened to was Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. The narrator has striven for most of his life to be a “good butler” but, in the process, has remained uncritical of his employer’s shortcomings, and of the feelings (his and hers) developing between himself and the housekeeper. The series of the butler’s reminiscences are framed by a road trip to see that housekeeper. In the end, he chooses wilful blindness. It’s the easier path.

Then, I read L.L. McKinney’s A Blade So Black. Loved. A retelling of Alice in Wonderland with several twists. I’ve already picked up the second in series.

I finished off the month with another Audible Original (it was a freebie), Mel Robbins’ Take Control of You Life. It’s about listening to your fear and learning how to move past it. You’d think I’d have learned something from this one, eh? It’s probably one of the reasons I’ve come down with this case of imposter syndrome. I’m facing my fear. Maybe I should listen to it again 😉

And that was the revelatory month in this writer’s life.

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

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 24-30, 2021

Welcome to February! Winter is progressing, the light is returning, and we’re beginning to see signs that the lockdown is once again flattening the curve. Yes, there have been problems with the vaccines, but we will see a resolution, sooner rather than later.

You’ve been so good, wearing your mask, maintaining physical distance, washing your hands. Keep it up! This is the way we beat covid-19. Reward yourself for all your good work with some informal writerly learnings 🙂

Barbara Linn Probst takes a closer look at writer time and reader time. Elizabeth Huergo offers some readings for writers: John le Carré and George Orwell. KL Burd: the soul of art. Later in the week, Heather Webb is writing through the pain. Then, Julie Carrick Dalton says, I choose joy, dammit! Kristin Owens says, you asked for it: when it’s time for critique. Writer Unboxed

Why are we so obsessed with characters being redeemed? Melina Pendulum

Janice Hardy wants you to stop being nice to your characters. Fiction University

Tiffany Yates Martin helps you understand third-person point of view: omniscient, limited, and deep. Then, Susan DeFreitas explains the one thing your novel absolutely must do. Jane Friedman

Shaelin shares 8 simple ways to make your writing better | Reedsy

Then, she explains how to write a closer (or more distant!) point of view | Reedsy

K.M. Weiland: story theory and the quest for meaning. Helping Writers Become Authors

Lisa Hall-Wilson shares four ways to write deeper with personification. Kris Maze advises that if your writing’s in a slump, get into the flow! Writers in the Storm

Why The Hunger Games’ Katniss represents all teen girls. The Take

The bombshell trope, explained. The Take

Christina Delay is creating from the familiar. Writers Helping Writers

Gabriela Pereira interviews Julie Carrick Dalton about multiple timelines, climate fiction, and a childhood code of honor. Then, Sara Farmer interviews Sherry Thomas. DIY MFA

Chris Winkle recommends nine jerkass traits that aren’t toxic or abusive. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five emotional arcs that fell flat. Mythcreants

Vigilantes, retribution, and the pursuit of meaningful justice | Like Stories of Old

John Tattrie introduces us to the extraordinary inner world of Charles R. Saunders, father of Black “sword and soul.” CBC

Michael Martin interviewed Cicely Tyson about her new book, Just as I am, prior to her death. NPR

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

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 3-9, 2021

Welcome to tipsday, your chance to top up on informal writerly learnings.

Janice Hardy shares an easy fix for tighter point of view. Hint: nix those filter words! Fiction University

Greer Macallister offers the gift of critique. How to by way of how not to … Sarah Penner encourages you to rethink resolutions and habits as writers in 2021. Donald Maass: the real vs. the unreal. Nancy Johnson compiles this list of published authors sharing wisdom from their debut journeys. David Corbett: what now, storyteller? Writer Unboxed

The female assassin trope, explained. The Take

K.M. Weiland shares seven lessons learned in 2020. Helping Writers Become Authors

Karen DeBonis shares her writing goal for 2021: let go to love more (AKA, how I stopped worrying and learned to love editing). Janice Hardy offers a different approach to writing success this year (i.e. how dumping self-imposed deadlines can increase productivity). Julie Glover: how much of our real life shows up in our fiction? Writers in the Storm

Emily Zarka introduces us to the Kasogonagá: Sky Deity and Absolute Cutie. Monstrum | PBS Storied

Nathan Bransford explains how to set meaningful goals.

Colleen M. Story explains why writers should take more risks this year. Writers Helping Writers

Victoria R. Girmonde: worldview and the MG/YA genre. Story Grid

The wicked stepmother trope, explained. The Take

Sara Farmer interviews Elizabeth Little. Then, Gabriela Pereira wonders, where do we go from here? DIY MFA

Joe Bunting offers definitions and examples of the six shapes of stores. The Write Practice

Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five popular stories with conflicts that are too difficult. Mythcreants

Ron Friedman: rotating spacecraft and artificial gravity. Sci and Sci-fi

Clair Armitstead provides the 31-day literary diet for January 2021. Sure, we’re half-way through the month already, but who says you have to finish it all in January? Be a rebel. Start now and continue your literary snacking into February! The Guardian

Jesse Wente is reframing Indigenous stories in joy. CBC’s Ideas

Why should you read Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”? – Yen Pham TED-Ed

Kritika Agrawal shares seven fascinating facts about Octavia Butler. Mental Floss

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

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Sept 13-19, 2020

It’s another tipsday, your opportunity to catch up on some informal writerly goodness.

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

And in the midst of the pandemic and ongoing demonstration, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg dies. Such a blow for equality and justice. I hope her last wish can be honoured and her absence on SCOTUS won’t be filled until after the US election.

We’re seeing a bump in infection rates and we’re being told to brace for a second wave. This was something epidemiologists predicted could happen, way back in March. People tend to forget this. Despite what a certain president says, we will not have a vaccine that’s widely available before next year.

Wear your masks. Maintain physical distance when possible. Get your flu shots when they become available. Take care and stay safe.

Onto the curation:

K.M. Weiland: the crucial link between your story’s inciting incident and its climactic moment. Helping Writers Become Authors

C.S. Lakin explains how your premise determines your characters. Live, Write, Thrive

Shaelin has a chat about writing selfishly. Shaelin Writes

Eldred Bird says that a great story is like music to the eyes. Then, Barbara Linn Probst explains why your book matters. Later in the week, Jenny Hansen explains why storytellers are the most powerful people in the world. Writers in the Storm

Lucia Tang promotes the art of the constructive critique. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Meg LaTorre lists 17 things she hates to see in romance. iWriterly

Dave King helps you manage your cast. Then, Barbara Linn Probst shares road, neighbourhood, sky: a three-layer approach to writing a novel. Writer Unboxed

Lucy V. Hay shares awesome writing tips from six famous writers. Writers Helping Writers

Jenna Moreci shares her top ten tips for writing fight scenes.

Lauren J. Sharkey talks dollars and sense. And, my latest Speculations: how the NASA-SpaceX collaboration can inspire your writing. Sara Farmer interviews Adam Smyer. Later in the week, Lynne Golodner shares five tips for narrowing your focus. DIY MFA

Susan DeFreitas shares three common issues with early drafts. Jane Friedman

Chris Winkle lists seven ways jokes can sabotage your story. Then, Oren Ashkenazi sheds light on how Le Guin laid a shaky foundation for Earthsea. Mythcreants

Waubgeshig Rice launches his new column at Open Book: stories of the North.

Thanks for the visit. I hope you found something that will support your current work in progress.

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

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 16-22, 2020

Welcome to another week of informal writerly learnings!

Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter. This is a fundamental truth.

The EI ERB and CERB have been extended for the third time and three new transitional benefits are being created to support Canadians in this crisis. It’s resulted in chaos at work, but chaos has been the rule since March 15th.

Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay within your bubbles and avoid crowded events. Take care and stay safe. You don’t know who you could be putting at risk with careless behaviour.

K.M. Weiland shares five exercises for honing your story instincts. Helping Writers Become Authors

Vaughn Roycroft explains why he prefers novels with prologues. Dave King is discussing fiction in the time of plague. Then, Sarah Penner shares the results of a working-from-home survey: navigating changes to our work environments. Later in the week, Porter Anderson discusses emergent voices. Writer Unboxed

Shaelin Bishop shares some of her favourite writing techniques. Shaelin Writes

Tasha Seegmiller: every novel needs a village. Then, Barbara Linn Probst advises us to read like a writer and write like a reader. Later in the week, John Peragine explains the vital importance of your writing community. Writers in the Storm

The muse trope, explained. The Take

Rochelle Melander suggests some tools for revision. Fiction University

Christina Delay uses the lyrics of “Yesterday” to look back at the first act. Writers Helping Writers

Helen J. Darling helps you build your author newsletter list. Then, Pamela Taylor helps you figure out whether you’re writing historical fiction, or something else. Later in the week, Chere Hughes describes the key features of a no-fear critique. DIY MFA

Susan DeFreitas explains what your first 50 pages reveal. Jane Friedman

Nathan Bransford wants you to be very careful with dreams and hallucinations in novels.

Chris Winkle explains why story structures like the Hero’s Journey don’t work. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five stories with anticlimactic endings. Mythcreants

What English can’t do. NativLang

Alexandra Alter: “We’ve already survived an apocalypse”: Indigenous authors are changing science fiction. The New York Times

Thanks for visiting and I hope you’re taking away something that will support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe.

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