Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 11-17, 2020

Another week, another collection of informal writerly goodness.

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

Wear your masks. Maintain physical distance when you can’t. Wash your hands. Get your flu shot as soon as you can.

K. Tempest Bradford: World Fantasy, the convention that keeps on failing. The lack of diversity on panels and lack of a properly enforced anti-harassment policy have been ongoing for the better part of a decade and organizers are reluctant to admit there are problems, let alone take action on them.

Princess Weekes breaks down true womanhood and black girlhood in media. Melina Pendulum

Jeanette the Writer: yes, there are different types of English. Later in the week, Jeremy Hance explains how he decided to write a memoir about his hilarious mental illness. Then, Ambre Leffler offers five ways to be kind to your eyes. DIY MFA

K.M. Weiland explores the link between the first and second pinch points. Helping Writers Become Authors

Shaelin shares five fantasy tropes to avoid, be careful with, or embrace. Reedsy

Lori Freeland details the five key elements to layering your scene. Later in the week, Jenny Hansen lists the five fears that spook most writers. Writers in the Storm

Janice Hardy explains the difference between a first page that hooks and a novel that hooks. Fiction University

Jim Dempsey wants you to ground your characters with all five senses. Then, Barbara Linn Probst wonders, what is your story about, anyway? Word, phrase, sentence, equation. Later in the week, Anne Greenwood Brown explains how to communicate without words. Writer Unboxed

Alli Sinclair is asking the right questions with character interviews. Writers Helping Writers

Nancy Stohlman extols the benefits of writing flash fiction. Jane Friedman

Chris Winkle shares lessons from the exposition of Crescent City. Then, Oren Ashkenazi lists six signs your story is about the wrong character. Mythcreants

The setting of a story: what is it and how to write it. Reedsy

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

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

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 4-10, 2020

Now that we’ve entered month seven of the pandemic, we have to balance self-care with medical compliance. Be kind to yourself and nurture your creativity with some informal writerly learnings.

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

Wear your masks. Maintain physical distance. Get your flu shot as soon as you can. Sacrifice now (and really, it’s not that much of a sacrifice) will mean that fewer people have to contract covid-19 and fewer people have to die from it. Compliance is not a violation of your rights. It is respect for your fellow human beings.

Princess Weekes critiques Antebellum and movies about slavery in general. Melina Pendulum

Abigail K. Perry does another Story Grid scene analysis: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. Erin Tyler shares five tips for writing about family dynamics. DIY MFA

Joanna Penn interviews K.M. Weiland about outlining your novel and filling the well. The Creative Penn

Over on Helping Writers Become Authors, K.M. points out the link between your story’s first and third plot points.

Jenna Moreci shares her top ten tips for killing off characters.

Janice Hardy shows you what makes a good beginning (if you’re struggling with yours). Then, she explains what makes a good middle (beware of getting stuck in the mud). Fiction University

Leslie Vedder shares three tips for cutting your word count (without giving your whole story the axe). Jane Friedman

If you’re not sure about NaNoWriMo, Shaelin looks at the pros and cons. Reedsy

Therese Walsh: the edge of now, and its gift for writers. Then, Donald Maass discusses timeless endings. Kathryn Craft lists five ways paragraphing supports story. Writer Unboxed

The girly girl trope, explained. The Take

Chris Winkle lists five signs your story is classist. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes the Star Trek series finales, from worst to best. Mythcreants

Jill Bearup explains why a corset stopping a knife strike (ala Enola Holmes) is plausible.

Words with lost meanings (AKA that word you keep using. I don’t think is means what you think it means). Merriam-Webster

Petra Mayer: amidst global troubles, the MacArthur “Genius” Grant winners provoke and inspire, including N.K. Jemisin, Jacqueline Woodson, and Christina Rivera Garza. NPR

Emma Reynolds reports that the 2020 Nobel Prize for literature awarded to Louise Glück. CNN

Thank you for stopping by. I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress.

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

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Sept 20-26, 2020

Here we are at the end of September. Where has the month gone?! Console yourselves with some informal writerly learnings.

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

There’s some debate about whether we’re into the second wave here in Canada. We’re seeing infection numbers in several provinces that haven’t been seen since the beginning of May, most of them in younger people. We’ve had 9 new cases in Sudbury in September. It may not seem like a lot, but the fact that the recent cases are community spread from unknown contacts is concerning. I’ve downloaded the government’s covid tracking app even though I hardly leave the house these days.

Anti-mask protests are on the rise. As the government faces a non-confidence vote (we do NOT need an election in the middle of a pandemic), CERB and EI ERB have ended and new transitional benefits through Employment Insurance are being established. The uncertainty is distressing. I won’t mention the distress I feel over the situation in the US. I try not to watch a lot of news. Overwhelm is a thing.

Wear your masks. Wash your hands. Maintain physical distance. Please.

Let’s get to the links:

Vaughn Roycroft: sustaining hope is an artist’s specialty. Then, Julie Duffy wants you to craft titles that hook readers and optimize success. Heather Webb is managing expectations, one book at a time. John J. Kelley: am I still a writer (if words evade me)? Writer Unboxed

Princess Weeks covers the fiery history of book banning. It’s Lit | PBS Storied

K.M. Weiland advises you to use slang in dialogue sparingly. Helping Writers Become Authors

Tim Hickson tackles Dark Lords! Hello, Future Me

Lisa Hall-Wilson helps you use deep point of view in limited third person. Later in the week, Ellen Buikema outlines the journey of writing historical fiction. Writers in the Storm

Jenna Moreci shares her best tips for writing women.

Janice Hardy offers a recipe for writing a great scene. Fiction University

Nathan Bransford explains how to use hopes and dreams to make characters come alive.

The “fridged woman” trope, explained. The Take

Sara Farmer interviews Sheena Kamal. DIY MFA

Andrea Dorfman and Tanya Davis created this poetic short film (riffing off their earlier collaboration, How to Be Alone): How to Be at Home. National Film Board of Canada

And, just because it was so lovely, here is How to Be Alone:

Chris Winkle: it’s time to throw out The Hero with a Thousand Faces. While controversial (or maybe just provocative), I always appreciate the opinions and analysis of the team at Mythcreants. HwaTF was never intended to be a writing guide. It has to be said. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes the good and bad climaxes of Marvel’s phase 2.

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, Sept 6-12, 2020

Welcome to tipsday, my humble curation of informal writerly goodness.

Before we get to the resources, Black and Indigenous (and all other racialized or marginalized) lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter.

We’re officially six months into #pandemic life and here in the northeast, we’re waiting for the other show to fall following the return to school last week. We’re already experiencing a bump in infection numbers, likely due to covid exhaustion and the relaxation of safety measures over the Labour Day long weekend.

Wear your masks, maintain physical distance, and wash your hands. We don’t have a vaccine yet.

Now let’s move on to supporting your creative endeavours.

Jael McHenry: is writing work? The answer is not as simple as you’d think. Jim Dempsey wants you to edit at your own pace. Then, Juliet Marillier offers some advice on writing a many-stranded story. Kathryn Craft shares a quiz actually helpful for writers. Later in the week, David Corbett discusses love, hope, and the dystopian darkness. Writer Unboxed

The “bury your gays” trope, explained. The Take

K.M. Weiland shares the 15 steps she uses to self-publish. Helping Writers Become Authors

Yen Cabag is creating believable characters. Elizabeth Spann Craig

The Disney princess trope, explained. The Take

Laurence MacNaughton shares the three-minute scene fix. Fiction University

Jami Gold wants you to explore your options for story conflict. Writers Helping Writers

Inigo vs. Westley: perfectly subversive. Why is this in tipsday? It’s all about storytelling through fight scenes! Jill Bearup

Angela Yeh believes that poetry can change the world. Later in the week, Sara Farmer interviews Ausma Zehanat Khan. DIY MFA

Chuck Wendig muses on plot and character (and giving writing advice at the end of the world). Terribleminds

Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes: fiction faves of the espionage pros. Writers in the Storm

Chris Winkle explains how our stories abandon morality for gray-colored lenses. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes the terrible movie climaxes from Marvel’s phase one. Mythcreants

Shaelin Bishop shares six misconceptions she had about writing. Shaelin Writes

Nina Munteanu considers cymatics and how frequency changes the very nature of matter and energy.

Anne Ray takes us on a journey from La Jetée to Twelve Monkeys to covid-19. JSTOR Daily

This first episode of the new season was awesome! Desmond Cole, Saleema Nawaz, and John Elizabeth Stintzi. Shelagh Rogers, The Next Chapter, CBC.

Thank you for stopping by. I hope you found something to support your current work(s) in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 30-Sept 5, 2020

Starting a short week with a Tuesday-that-feels-like-a-Monday is tough. Fortify yourselves with some informal writerly learnings.

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

#pandemiclife is entering its sixth month and there’s no end in sight even though everyone has covid brain and is exhausted by the restraint and safety restrictions.

Today marked the return to schools for most children in Ontario. I wish them well, but I still worry. We’ve been told to expect a bump in infections, like it’s acceptable to sacrifice children’s and teachers’ and their families’ health.

Please wear your masks, respect social distancing, wash your hands, and stay safe.

Nancy Johnson explains what it’s like writing while Black in times like these. Kristan Hoffman hopes you’ll try these ideas to stay active in your writing life. Donald Maass wonders what—and how much—belongs in your novel? Erika Liodice explains how to give an out-of-print book new life through self-publishing. Liza Nash Taylor says she’s late to the party: on being a debut novelist at 60. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland shares seven considerations for your antagonist’s motivations (which will save you so much trouble). Helping Writers Become Authors

Orly Konig: suspenders for pantsers. Fiction University

James Scott Bell describes hanging upside down and other creative moves. Writers Helping Writers

The feminist trope explained. The Take

Jenn Walton: sweet writing is made of dreams. Then, Brenda Joyce Patterson explains how to establish a literary mentorship. Later in the week, Neha Mediratta wonders, are you giving yourself a chance? Then, A.R. Taylor offers five tips for creating your villain. DIY MFA

What is a motif? How is it different from theme and symbol? And how can you use motif in your writing? Reedsy

Joe Ponepinto advises that if you want to avoid rejection, take the writer out of the story. Jane Friedman

Angie Hodapp says, your protagonist must fail. Pub Rants

Jami Gold considers the black moment: understanding our options.

Shaelin explains how to raise your story’s stakes. Reedsy

Chris Winkle lists nine options for high stakes conflict without violence. Oren Ashkenazi: The Umbrella Academy shows us why it’s important to plan your powers. Mythcreants

Kristen Lamb explains how story forges and refines character.

Rahil Sheikh introduces us to Kuli Kohli: “They wanted to drown me a birth—now, I’m a poet.” BBC

Thank you for visiting and I hope that you found something that will support your current work in progress.

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

The next chapter: August 2020 update

Another month has passed. I am experiencing covid time. Sometimes, it feels like March was only yesterday. At others, the second drag on. Though I’ve made my monthly goals more manageable, and revised my yearly goals every month, I’ve gotten more done than I thought I would.

Before we get to the month in writing, we have to make a brief stop in covid-ville.

Pandemic life

Black and Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous (and indeed, all marginalized or racialized people’s) lives matter. White privilege and white supremacy are real. We must interrogate our biases, listen, learn, and do better.

Tomorrow marks the return to school for students in Ontario. I’m not optimistic, and I can only wait to see how things turn out.

Working from home continues. I finally, after nearly six months, received my work laptop. The process was poorly organized and involved calls to the service desk. My system was still not working properly at the end of Friday and I ended up returning to the virtual desktop so I could get some work done.

I hope that all of my programs will have been downloaded by tomorrow morning and I can finish reconfiguring the laptop the way I want. Because I only have the one desk and no room to set up a second in my office, Phil will be making me a unit to raise my monitors above the level of the laptop, which has to remain on, open, and connected to our network so that updates can be pushed after working hours.

I have one of my monitors set up so that I can switch inputs between the laptop and my computer. It’s funny. When we were told we were going to be getting dual monitors at work, I and most of my colleagues questioned the necessity. Now, it’s difficult to conceive of working without them. We have so many programs, it really is easier to have them spread out over a larger visual area.

These are all first world problems of privilege. I just have to put on my big girl panties and git ‘er done. It’s interesting how little is takes to throw me off in these covid times. I can’t imagine how teachers are dealing with the possibility of turning on a dime and converting their lessons for online delivery in the event of an outbreak, which we’ve been told to expect.

The exciting events of July have not resulted in any news. That’s to be expected. Sometimes these assessment processes take months to sort through, and I believe the unit has been since slammed with other priorities.

Work itself is still frustrating and fraught. ‘Nuff said about that.

The month in writing

The never-ending novel is never-ending. I’m now over 116k words and not yet finished with the story. It’s going to be a hell of an edit. I did achieve 153% of my writing goal on Reality Bomb, however, writing 7,662 words of my 5k-word goal.

I wrote 173% of my 3,500-word blogging goal, writing 6,040 words in August.

I wrote 905 words for my latest Speculations column, which, though only 91% of my 1k-word goal, I count as a win, because I’m forever going over my 1k-word limit 🙂

Finally, I drafted 611 word on a new short story. I had wanted to write 1k words, but I ran out of spoons, or maybe hands, by the end of the month.

Overall, I wrote 15,218 words, or 145% of my 10,500-work goal.

Filling the well

There were just a few virtual events in August.

The first was When Words Collide, from the 14th to the 16th. They opted to provide the entire weekend of programming free this year because they had to cancel the in-person event. I only attended one session live, with Swati Chavda, on burnout. Unfortunately, the unsecured Zoom account WWC borrowed from the Alberta Romance Writers Association meant the intrusion of a Zoom bomber, which was not fun even though the session was great.

Phil and I were invited out to his sister’s backyard paradise for a bubbled day of social fun on the Saturday, so I wasn’t able to take in any further live sessions. I’m waiting for them to be edited and posted to WWC’s YouTube channel. The Aurora Awards were presented on Saturday evening. That’s the only session that’s been posted so far.

On the 16th, I watched Lavie Tidhar and Silvia Moreno-Garcia in conversation.

On the 18th, I started a free online course on short fiction from Steven L. Sears offered in conjunction with the Roswell Awards. This was the impetus for the new short story I started working on. The last of the classes is tomorrow.

On the 19th, I enjoyed Melissa Yuan-Innes’s workshop on How to Build Worlds without Boring your Readers to Death.

Finally, on the 24th, I attended a Penguin Random House Star Talk with Saleema Nawaz about her book Songs for the End of the World, which is now out.

I’m doing a lot more of these virtual events, I find. I’m enjoying them and they’re doing the job of inspiring me to keep on with the keeping on.

What I’m watching and reading

Phil and I watched the second season of Doom Patrol. It seemed to be one of the shows that was interrupted by covid. It ended at episode 9, and in a bit of an odd way. Sure enough, I found confirmation online that they were in the middle of filming episode 9 when production shut down. The cliff-hanger at the end of season one was apparently intentional. The cliff-hanger at the end of season two was not.

It was okay. We like most of the characters, though we both agree that Cliff is useless. The disappointment was that after the whole of season one was spend delving into the personal traumas of the various heroes and the big reveal that the Chief actually caused all of their “accidents” in one way or the other, or took advantage of their circumstances in a kind of hero syndrome on steroids, the whole of season two was more of the same. The heroes made progress, but several of them were still stuck in the mire of their various issues.

We’re hoping for actual progress in season three … please?

The Umbrella Academy season two was admittedly better than season one, but it, too, suffered from many of the same problems. Again, all the heroes struggle with trauma associated with their upbringing by Hargreaves—who is revealed to be an alien in this season—and most of them end up exactly where they started.

At the end of season one, the rest of the team take down Vanya, but fail to stop her from ending the world. Five’s solution is to take them back in time, but his time travel abilities malfunction conveniently, scattering the UA members over several years in the early 60’s. While they do eventually get together again, because, of course, there’s another apocalypse, they’re all as deeply messed up as they ever were.

They deal with Vanya’s overpowered and ill-defined abilities by giving her amnesia, but she’s still nearly the cause of the apocalypse—again. Five’s powers continue to malfunction, until they don’t. And even though he’s trapped in the body of his pre-teen self, he’s actually in his 50s and should know better, especially when the Handler screws him over—again. Allison feels so much guilt over abusing her abilities to manipulate her daughter in the future that she proudly refuses to use her powers. Until she doesn’t and goes on a power trip that includes a “shopping spree” and getting a racist diner owner to scald himself. Luther uses his super strength to win fixed fights for Jack Ruby. Diego is so obsessed with saving the soon-to-be-assassinated Kennedy that he winds up in an asylum. Klaus starts a cult with dead Ben’s help and tries to prevent the man he fell in love with during the Vietnam War from enlisting.

And that’s not mentioning the Swedish assassins, the Handler’s daughter, or Harlan, whom Vanya inadvertently endows with her powers.

At the end, apocalypses apparently dealt with, Five manages to get them back to 2019, except Hargreaves, having met his failed experiments in the 60s, decides to go with a whole different set of enhanced babies (except for Ben), who are now The Sparrow Academy.

I watched the final season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and enjoyed it, though I felt that they had lost their way as far back as the Inhumans storyline … which they resurrected in this final season. In fact, it’s like they picked bits and pieces from all of the previous seasons and brought them together, intending to tie everything up with a nice bow, only to fumble the bow like a three-year-old. No, honey, the rabbit goes into its hole. The show ended in a similar way to iZombie, with the team having a virtual reunion. It was satisfying and there are intimations that there might be some kind of tie in to the MCU/Disney+ (which has thus far ignored everything the networks or Netfix has put out), but we’ll have to wait and see.

Lost in Space wasn’t bad. I was left thinking that the Robot is kind of like the TARDIS, taking the Robinsons where they need to go, despite where they might tell him to go.

Finally, I watched the limited series Unorthodox. It was an interesting window into orthodox Hasidic culture, but it’s nothing like the true story it’s based upon. The writers were not unsympathetic to Esty’s husband, but they didn’t offer any resolution with regard to her aspirations in the music program she’d auditioned for. It was good, and I was riveted, but I was left wanting more.

In the reading department, I read seven books in August.

First, I finished Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself. It was good and definitely an epic fantasy, but something didn’t sit well with me for most of the book. I think it’s that there were only two women characters of note, one with a history of abuse who resorts to alcohol for self-medication and the other a feral warrior who was enslaved and abused in the past.

Ardee West seems to serve no purpose but to provide motivation to the male characters of the novel. To her brother Collem West, she is burden and a source of guilt. To Jezal, she is a potential love interest and borderline obsession. To Sand, she is a bittersweet reminder of what might have been.

Ferro Maljinn is a powerful woman, but she is the ultimate wild card, hating everyone without cause or reason, and bent on her personal quest for revenge even though she understands the bigger issues at stake.

Also, the book was very much the first act of the larger story that is the trilogy. It could never have stood on its own. I was, accordingly, ambivalent.

I read Kai Ashante Wilson’s A Taste of Honey. Though it is the second in series, it was a complete story on its own. At first, I thought that it was an alternate world historical fantasy, but part-way through, there was math and advanced science. So, science fantasy, then? I liked it, regardless, and the first novella is on my TBR list.

Then, I read Bethany C. Morrow’s A Song Below Water. I loved it. Though it was YA, it didn’t suffer from the agonized romantic subplot that most YA novels feature. Instead, it focused on the emotional journeys of its two young Black protagonists. Tavia is a siren living in hiding. Sirens are the most feared of the supernatural peoples because of their ability to rob their victims of their free will. Effie, who’s lived with Tavia’s family since her mother’s death, swims like she was born to the element and plays a mermaid at the annual Renaissance Fair.

Set in Portland, the story explores both girls’ trauma, not only as Black women in a mostly white city, but also as women who must unravel secrets—which their families actively keep from them—in order to become the people they were meant to be. Ultimately, it’s the girls’ friendship that gives them the strength to succeed. Morrow doesn’t shy away from the complexities of racism and intersectionality in various contexts.

Then, I read two Lawrence Hill books. The Illegal tells the story of a runner, Keita Ali, from the fictional country of Zantoroland, where dissidents are held for ransom, tortured, and killed by their corrupt government. Keita escapes to another fictional country, Freedom State, where he attempts to achieve his goal to become a competitive marathoner, when he discovers that his sister has been kidnapped and is being held in Zantoroland. If Keita can’t come up with the ransom, she’ll be killed, and so he runs, not just for his own life, but for that of his sister.

Based on a true story, The Book of Negroes is about Aminata Diallo, stolen from her home in Bayo (in Mali) by other Africans, and sold into the slave trade. She is bought by a cruel indigo plantation owner in South Carolina, her first child is taken from her, and she is subsequently sold to a Jewish man who, though he ensures she has work worthy of her skills and education, nonetheless abuses her after his own fashion. When Aminata discovers that he was responsible for selling her child, Aminata escapes while they’re in New York as the America Revolution begins.

Aminata works for the British during the war and once hostilities cease, becomes scribe, noting the names of the slaves freed through service to the British in the titular book. Pregnant with her second child, she is prevented from joining her husband on their way to Nova Scotia when her previous owners make claim upon her. Though eventually emancipated in truth, by the time Aminata makes it to Nova Scotia, she cannot find her husband and learns that circumstances in Canada are little better than they were in America.

Her second child is abducted during the chaos of a white attack on the Black settlement, and Aminata is once again on her own. Abolitionists come and recruit Nova Scotian Blacks, none of whom have been given the land promised them by the British, to create a free Black settlement in Sierra Leone. Aminata signs up because it has been her dream to return to Africa since she was first stolen from her home.

Again, the repatriated settlers of Sierra Leone are denied land and must endure the continuing slave trade that goes on around them. Aminata travels inland with guides and though she fails to find Bayo, she does find an African village where she stays for a while before eventually returning to Sierra Leone and accepting an offer to travel to England and help the abolitionists end the slave trade.

In a beautiful ending, Aminata is reunited with her daughter May, writes her story for the abolitionists, and helps to end the slave trade, though not slavery itself. This is a novel that everyone should read. Full stop.

Then, I read Danielle Jensen’s The Stolen Songbird. Cécile is kidnapped and magically bonded to the troll prince in the hope of ending a curse that a human witch places on the trolls centuries ago. The bonding does not break the curse and Cécile must navigate troll politics and a rebellion in the attempt to win her freedom. But, of course, she falls in love with the troll prince.

Finally, I marked as read Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Relentless Moon. I didn’t actually read it this month, but I was involved in the beta read last year and was invited to the live streaming of Mary Robinette’s recording of the audiobook this summer.

This is the third in Kowal’s Lady Astronaut series and focuses on Nicole Wargin during Alma York’s journey to Mars (in The Fated Sky). Earth first is sabotaging Artemis Base and Wargin must uncover the plot while dealing with the effects of the sabotage, personal injury, and threats to her husband, the governor of Kansas, on Earth. It was gut-wrenching and wonderful. I won’t say anything more about it. Read.

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

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

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

Welcome to tipsday 🙂 Pick up some informal writerly learnings to get through your week.

Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter. I don’t want this to be a “performative wokeness” thing. I believe it wholeheartedly. I’m going to keep putting this message out there until real change happens.

Next week will see Ontario students return to class. Though additional money has been allocated to help schoolboards prepare, there still doesn’t seem to be a firm plan across all schoolboards. We’re going to have to wait and see.

Tiffany Yates Martin considers whether you should set your stories in a pandemic world. Then, Laurie Schnebly Campbell wants you to follow your heroine beyond the Hero’s Journey. Writers in the Storm

Kathleen McCleary: get me out of here. Barbara O’Neal: a writer’s sacred task to observe. Then, Heather Webb is struggling through the shitty first draft. Writer Unboxed

Shaelin explains how to write a plot twist. Reedsy

K.M. Weiland offers five steps to get past your fears of sharing your work. Helping Writers Become Authors

Nathan Bransford compares third person omniscient, third person limited, and head-hopping.

Tim Hickson explains how class systems fall. Hello, Future Me

Savannah Cordova shares some predictions for publishing trends in late 2020 and beyond. Writers Helping Writers

Bonnie Randall is learning from the mistakes of the greats. Then, Janice Hardy offers three quick steps to write a scene. Fiction University

Kristen Lamb helps you find focus during crazy times: only so many ducks to give.

Sara Farmer interviews Marcie Rendon. DIY MFA

Nina Munteanu explores the Mozart effect and the power of music.

Oren Ashkenazi lists six common misconceptions of new writers. Mythcreants

Catching up on some awesome from The Take. First up: is Kill Bill’s Beatrix Kiddo a feminist hero?

Then, the model minority trope, explained.

Next, The Take explains how Kat, from 10 Things I Hate About You emphasizes the feminist message of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.

Finally, the neurotic, type A woman trope, explained.

Hephzibah Anderson reveals the surprising secrets of writers’ first drafts. BBC

Roxanne Fequiere: Black women are topping the bestsellers lists. What took so long? Elle

Farzana Doctor explains why her latest novel, Seven, is about khatna, or genital mutilation. Chatelaine

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

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

Tipsday2019

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.

Tipsday2019