Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 7-13, 2018

I’m back with another batch of informal writerly learnings 🙂

DiAnn Mills helps you find your character’s blind spot. Writer Unboxed

Jeanne Kisacky explores the link between non-verbal communication and backstory. Writer Unboxed

Sarah Callender: knowing when you’ve peaked. Writer Unboxed

Kathryn Magendie considers the tiny former planet. What we can learn about persistence from Pluto. Writer Unboxed

Jenny Hansen contemplates the eternal question: to NaNo, or not to NaNo … ? Writers in the Storm

Orly Konig share how squirrel-brain helped her writing. Writers in the Storm

Sacha Black explains how to redeem your villain with killer twists. Writers Helping Writers

Deborah Dixon explains why representation in literature is important and how to handle it. Writers Helping Writers

Pamela Taylor examines the six key elements of historical narrative. DIY MFA

Gabriela Pereira interviews Jennie Nash for DIY MFA radio: empower yourself and your writing.

Jenn Walton shares five benefits of tough feedback. DIY MFA

Janice Hardy stops by Jami Gold’s blog to show you how to use focused brainstorming to develop your plot.

Literary agent Britt Siess shares five steps to nailing your query letter. Writer’s Digest

Chuck Wendig writes a post for world mental health day: when writer’s block is actually depression.  Later in the week, he recounts his firing from Marvel. It’s a travesty, a triumph of trolls. Chuck’s astute irreverence has inspired me and saved my writerly sanity more times than I can count. Terribleminds

Oren Ashkenazi analyzes stories in which six characters are siloed into separate stories. Mythcreants

And that was Tipsday.

Come back on Thursday for your weekly dose of thoughty.

Until then, be well!

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Sept 30-Oct 6, 2018

The thoughy’s focused on psychology and neuroscience this week. What appropriate subject matter for getting your mental corn popping 🙂

Lisa Margonelli enters the jaw-dropping world of termites: a giant, crawling brain. The Guardian

Mark Humphries presents a new prime suspect for depression. The Spike/Medium

Bruce Goldman-Stanford says people with depression have low blood levels of this stuff (but that doesn’t mean you should rush out to buy some). Futurity

Joseph Frankel: hallucinations are everywhere. The Atlantic

Ermin Misirlisoy explains what happens when your body is no longer yours. Medium

Paula Cocozza examines night terrors: what do anxiety dreams mean? The Guardian

Inverse: Your brain on horror with Shannon Odell.

 

Jacqueline Detwiler introduces us to the heroes of science who are unlocking the brain. Popular Mechanics

Ayodeji Awosika explains why it’s dangerous to focus on finding your passion and what you should do instead. Medium

And that was thoughty Thursday.

Until next Tipsday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Sept 9-15, 2018

And now … it’s time to get your mental corn popping.

Sharon Cohen for the Associated Press: why are native American women vanishing?

Thee lesser-known symptoms of depression. SciShow Psych

 

Zarria Gorvett exposes the strange truth about the pill. I was on various birth control pills for maybe five years combined, and this disconcerts me. BBC

Frank Martela recommends that you exercise, eat well, and help other because altruism has a surprisingly strong impact on your health. It’s what my sign-off is all about (be well, be kind, and stay strong). Scientific American

Bret Stetka reports how the infectious theory of Alzheimer’s Disease draws fresh interest. NPR

Lucy V. Justice, Martin Conway, and Shazia Akhtar: your earliest childhood memory is probably fake. Quartz

Simon Parkin asks, is there finally a cure for insomnia? The Guardian

The oldest planet ever discovered. SciShow Space

 

Katherine Lackey explores why Yellowstone’s ecosystem hasn’t been restored by the return of its wolves. USA Today

The Verge: we met the world’s first domesticated foxes.

 

And that was Thoughty Thursday.

Be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Aug 5-11, 2018

It’s time to get your mental corn popping, that is, to present you with some interesting stuff in the hope that the resulting creative connections will lead to your next awesome project! Yup, that’s what thoughty Thursday’s all about.

Patricia Grisafi writes about the terrible “what if”: how OCD makes every day a matter of life and death. The Guardian

Brenda Knowles wonders if solitary activities are only half-fixes for anxiety and depression. Space2Live

Your brain on caffeine with Shannon Odell. Inverse

 

Tom Wipple: how to edit a human. On unlocking the human genome, ethics, and CRISPR. 1843

Jason Pontin discusses the genetics (and ethics) of making humans fit for Mars. Wired

Disney princesses look more like children as the years pass. It’s not accidental. It’s all about neoteny. It’s Okay to be Smart

 

And, for your amusement: Ze Frank’s true facts about the dung beetle.

 

Be well until next tipsday!

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, July 22-28, 2018

It’s time to pop your mental corn, get those creative connections established, and generate awesome ideas for your craft.

Brain scans show four different types of depression. Kate Horowitz for Mental Floss.

Brenda Knowles explores avoidant attachment in adult relationships: the truth behind our need to be alone. Space2Live

SciShow Space stops video production to report on the underground lake on Mars.

 

Linda Webster tells a dog tail: my dog is teaching me to be resilient. The Globe and Mail

Those forest fires I posted about last week? Stephanie Johnson introduces us to Shawn Rae, a fire rescuer who’s saving people’s cottages from the French River fires. Parry Sound North Star

Adele Peters: the four-day work week is good for business. Fast Company

Abby Sewell and Stephanie Gengotti invite us inside the magical life of Europe’s family circuses. National Geographic

Dave Lucas explains what it is to love an old dog. Made me weep. Literary Hub

Stephen Dowling: the complicated truth about a cat’s purr. BBC

Sadie Dingfelder tells the story of the crane who fell in love with a human. The Washington Post

Moar Ze Frank: true facts about ducks (and their spiral genitals—seriously weird shit).

 

Watch a black bear take a bath.

 

And that was your Thoughty Thursday for the week.

This weekend, I’ll be composing my next chapter update for the month of July. Come back for a visit and see what I’ve been up to.

Until then, be well!

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 24-30, 2018

It’s time for your weekly dose of informal writerly learnings.

/rant on/

I’ll start off on a negative note. Harlan Ellison died last week, but I have purposefully not posted about it or shared any posts about it on social media. Though he was influential in the science fiction universe and wrote much that is considered objectively great fiction (he was even a consultant on my favourite series ever, Babylon 5), I have never read any of his work. I wondered why that was and realized that I instinctively disliked the man in the interviews in which I saw him. Since, I have learned that he was a universal asshole and a misogynist prick. The incident with Connie Willis at the 2006 Hugos was just one, very public incident. For the record, I may read his work someday, but regardless of what I think of the man as a writer, I will always think of him as a poor example of a human being. I don’t care what his damage was, to be honest. It’s no excuse. We must do better, be better, than the pathetically low bar he set.

/rant off/

Now, on to the good stuff.

Patrice Williams Marks stops by Writer Unboxed: what is a sensitivity reader, and can I become one?

Susan Spann says, fear is a liar. Inspirational. Writer Unboxed

Barbara O’Neal considers light and dark, and writing with duende. “Duende is the dark magic, the force of Other, that enters the work and turns it from something interesting, maybe even really good, into something transcendent. It is born of the knowledge that death walks among us, that sorrow will mark you with her handprint, that we are all doomed to be forgotten.” Yum!  Writer Unboxed

Heather Webb wonders, is juggling multiple writing projects at once is exhausting or a bright idea? Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland: writing as the art of thinking clearly in six steps. Helping Writers Become Authors

Victoria Mixon: five advantages of rereading.

Joanna Penn interviews Michaelbrent Collings about writing with depression. The Creative Penn

Nathan Bransford explains how to list your publishing credits in a query letter.

A.K. Perry continues her exploration of James Scott Bell’s signpost scenes: trouble brewing. DIY MFA

Ambre Dawn Leffler shares five tai chi and yoga techniques to help with writer focus. DIY MFA

Gabriela Pereira offers six writing exercises to fuel your creativity. Writer’s Digest

Jami Gold breaks down the revision process, so you can improve your storytelling.

Lisa Granshaw offers an oral history of Babylon 5, the beloved TV novel that showed us a different way to tell a science fiction story. SyFy

Thu-Huong Ha: No mas, say the writers. How bilingual authors are challenging the practice of italicizing non-English words. Quartzy

MTV’s Decoded with Franchesca Ramsey – six phrases with racist origins.

 

Jessica Leigh Hester: why medieval monasteries branded their books. Atlas Obscura

Arika Okrent presents the curious origins of 16 common phrases. Mental Floss

And that was Tipsday for this week.

I hope all of my Canadian friends had a LOVELY Canada Day long weekend (today will have been our Tuesday-that-feels-like-a-Monday) and that all of my friends in the US will have an equally enjoyable Independence Day holiday.

Be well until Thursday rolls around and don’t forget to come back for some quality thoughty.

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 6-12, 2018

A few links to get your mental corn popping 🙂

Brian Resnick: Stephen Hawking’s final paper makes a hopeful case for the limits of existence. Vox

A super-massive black hole is hurtling toward Earth, but don’t worry, it’ll take about four billion years to get here. Sci-Tech Universe

Wil Wheaton shares his keynote speech for the NAMI Ohio’s statewide conference, Fulfilling the Promise: I live with chronic depression and I’m not ashamed.

SciShow: the strange (but true) history of hysteria.

 

Inverse: your brain on sugar with Shannon Odell.

 

Inverse: your brain on music with Shannon Odell.

 

Alfredo Carpineti: fasting for just one day can regenerate your stem cells. I wonder if the stomach flu counts? IFLS

Maggie posts about the history of our most common vegetables. The Plant Guide

Rosie McCall reports on a crow that steals a credit card, attempts to use it to buy a train ticket, and, after it fails, returns the card to its owner. Corvids rock my world. IFLS

I hope you found something in the mix to inspire.

Be well until next Tipsday!

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, April 22-28, 2018

It’s time to get your mental corn popping for the final push to the weekend. Yes! Tomorrow is Friday. And today is Thoughty Thursday 🙂

Stephen Luntz discovers that trees have a “heartbeat,” too. IFLS

Linda Poon: new “mutant enzymes” could solve Earth’s plastic problem. Are they any better than recycling, though? The proof remains to be seen. City Lab

Another promising solution? Saqib Shah: first ever ocean plastic cleaner will tackle the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The New York Post

Why so few people on the Six Nations Reserve have clean, running water, unlike their neighbours. It’s not just remote or northern reserves. We really have to provide all people with the necessities of life. Like, yesterday. CBC’s “Out in the Open.”

Alek Minassian, the Toronto van attack suspect, praised “Incel” killer. BBC

Psychologists explain why you should be friends with people who swear a lot. We’re more fucking honest and intelligent 🙂 Rachel-Lee Thomas for Providr.

Do essential oils work? And why? (I guess that second question gives away the answer to the first …) SciShow

 

Can exercise treat depression? SciShow Psych

 

Scientists may have discovered the root cause of autism (and no, it’s not vaccines). Let’s first seek to understand ASD before we attempt to eradicate it. IFLS

Sara Burrows explains how one Texas school beat ADHD by tripling recess. Return to Now

Nina Strochlic reveals the race to save the world’s disappearing languages. National Geographic

Going grey the right way: everything you need to know about grey hair. Katie Martin for HealthyWay.

Nadia Drake: how 1.7 billion stars were mapped with dazzling 3-D precision. National Geographic

Alfredo Carpineti: Study reveals Uranus smells of farts. IFLS

Baby elephant chases the birds, falls, and runs to mom.

 

I hope something in this mix inspired you (or at least entertained you).

Be well until this weekend’s next chapter update.

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, March 25-31, 2018

It’s time to get your mental corn popping 🙂

Ari Berman: Emma Gonzales is responsible for the loudest silence in the history of US social protest. Mother Jones

Zoë Beery hopes we all say goodbye to our happy plantation narrative. The Outline

Showwei Chu reports on how every bit of exercise counts in reducing the risk of early death. CBC

Colin Lecher explains what happens when an algorithm cuts your care. Automation is not always a good thing, especially when users don’t understand how it’s intended to work and don’t bother to check. The Verge

Samantha Paige on firsts. Shondaland

Karin Brulliard asks, are service dogs good therapy for military veterans suffering from PTSD? The Washington Post

Six signs of high-functioning depression (dysthymia) – Kati Morton

 

Your Brain on Sleep Deprivation – Inverse

 

I hope you found something inspiring or pertinent to a current project.

Be well until the weekend and my next chapter update for March.

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