Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Oct 2-8, 2016

Thoughty Thursday’s all over the map!

The Vintage News reports that Amelia Earhart’s remains may have been found on an island.

Gabriel Samuels reports on a piece of engraved wood that suggests a Persian taught math in Japan 1,000 years ago. The Independent

Medievalists.net compiled this comprehensive list of online resources for researching the Black Death.

Medievalists.net shared this entertaining piece on Viking nicknames. My favourite? Eystein Foul-Fart 🙂

And, for the hat trick, Medievalists.net explains why cats were hated in medieval Europe.

An oldie from Barbara G. Walker of Church and State (2008!): local wise women who carried on ancient traditions were exterminated by Christianity.

Margaret Rhodes invites us to obsess over this infographic about the history of alternative music. Wired

Jonathan Jones looks at the legacy of painter Artemesia Gentileschi. The Guardian

Azeen Ghorayshi reports that transgender children as young as three are getting the help they need. Buzzfeed

Katrina Schwartz wonders why we’re so obsessed with teaching kids cursive handwriting. Mind/Shift

America is obsessed with happiness and it’s making everyone miserable. Ruth Whippman for Vox.

What it’s like to have “high-functioning” anxiety. The Mighty

 

Baby Boomers may be more susceptible to treatment-resistant depression. Anna Gorman for CNN.

Myke Cole writes about PTSD. This is from a few years ago (2013) but it’s still relevant.

Dominik Parisien shares his experience with Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. Uncanny

Justin Gammill lists ten things to keep in mind when loving a highly creative person. I heart intelligence

Paul Stamits talks about how fantastic fungi can save the world.

 

Bees are demonstrating problem-solving and transmission of knowledge. Daily Science

Scientists declare the dawn of the human-influenced epoch. Damian Carrington for The Guardian.

AI and deep machine learning are changing your life. Roger Parloff for Fortune.

What Emma Thompson learned from spending a week in the arctic. Time

Beware of dog, indeed. Upshout

Adieu until Saturday.

Be well until then 🙂

Thoughty Thursday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 21-27, 2016

Sorry to have missed a week of curation, but life happens. I’m back now, though, and here with your informal writerly learnings for the week 🙂

Jane Friedman explores discourse communities as a means of distinguishing yourself among agents and editors. Writer Unboxed

Heather Webb writes about revision and how to make it through. Writer Unboxed

We need to give ourselves permission to begin, courage to continue, and forgiveness to try again. I so needed this, Dan Blank. Bless you. Writer Unboxed

Angela Ackerman offers some advice on creating mood in a scene using light and shadow. Writers helping writers

Later in the week, Angela announces the expansion of One Stop for Writers.

Roz Morris shares three surprising to measure your progress when you’re writing a slow burn book. Nail your novel

Susan Brooks guest posts on Janice Hardy’s Fiction University on the importance of being genre-specific. Part one of a new series. Later in the week, Janice guests on Jody Hedlund’s blog, sharing five reasons your plot stalled. Then, Marcy Kennedy stopped by to explore indie choices: writing in multiple genres or specializing.

Jenny Hansen guest posts on Jami Gold’s blog (while she recovers) and offers some strategies for overcoming fear, the writer’s enemy number one.

Leanne Sowul writes about the importance of quality sleep. DIYMFA

Gabriela Pereira interviews MJ Rose for the DIYMFA Radio podcast: build buzz around your book.

Jamie Raintree guests on Writers in the Storm: the career mindset comes before the writing career.

Love this woman’s big squishy brain 🙂 Kameron Hurley shares her thoughts on why being a writer is an exercise in cognitive dissonance.

K. Eason shares six tips for writing a science fiction series. Writer’s Digest

Steven Pressfield studies stuff that works: True Grit and Paper Moon, which are essentially the same movie . . .

DBC Pierre lists ten books all writers should read. With the exception of a couple, they’re not what you’d think. The Guardian

John Bradley evokes Marshall McLuhan’s statement, “the medium is the message” to examine how we read and how it affects us. The Wild Detectives

Brandon Taylor states that there is no secret to writing about people who do not look like you. Literary hub

Sarah Gailey encourages SFF writers to “do better” when it comes to writing sexual violence. Tor.com

Laurie Garrison’s #women_writers manifesto aims to build the community of female authors. Lara Williams for The Guardian.

It was the 101st anniversary of James Tiptree Jr. (Alice B. Sheldon)’s birth. Tachyon Publications offers this tribute to her work and influence. Leah Schnelbach writes this article on Tiptree and the power of the SF community for Tor.com.

Fiona Macdonald reports on the secret libraries of history for the BBC.

Alexandra Alter interviews Hugo award winner, N.K. Jemisin, for The New York Times.

J.M. Frey explores how fantasy tropes can bring out the power of being a fan girl. The MarySue

And here’s the cover reveal for her new novel 🙂

Cheryl Eddy presents all the new science fiction and fantasy books you must read this fall. i09

Charlie Jane Anders previews Dominik Parisien’s new fairy tale anthology, The Starlit Wood for i09.

Katharine Trendacosta shares photos of some of the set pieces for the Ready Player One movie for i09. I have to say that this was one of my favourite novels I read last year. So looking forward. Here are some more from Collider.

And that was Tipsday.

See you Thursday!

Tipsday

Ad Astra 2016, day 2: Common mistakes from an editor’s perspective

Disclaimer: I am not perfect and neither are my notes. If you notice anything that needs correction or clarification, please email me at melanie (dot) marttila (at) gmail (dot) com

Panellists: Dominik Parisien, Linda Poitevin, Nina Munteanu

MostCommonMistakes

With this session, I chose a different approach. There was a lot of discussion and insight, with examples from various editing projects, none of which I was able to capture effectively on the page. The editors focused on the three parts of a story, the beginning, middle, and end, and, interestingly enough, they discussed three main problems with each part of a story.

As a result, this is a very point-form summary of the main points of the panel.

So here’s the description of the panel from the program:

Whether it’s easy-to-correct grammatical errors or awkward sentence structure, or more complex issues related to characterization, plot, or research, in this panel you’ll hear real editors share the most common mistakes that they see new or inexperienced writers make and tips on how to avoid them. They’ll tell you the things they encounter that have a simple fix, but also the things they encounter that are warning signs of larger problems.

Problems with beginnings

  • Not starting in the right place. Too early (prologues/backstory) or too late (character in danger immediately/no reader investment).
  • Not hooking the reader. If the reader puts the book down, you’re done before you’ve even gotten started.
  • Not having a distinctive, crisp voice.

Mel’s note: Most of these problems can only be solved by experience, either the author’s own, gained through practice, or by leveraging the experience of others, with the help of good critique partners/beta readers/freelance editor.

Problems with middles

  • Solving the character’s problem too early in the narrative. The story ends when the character achieves their goal.
  • Not knowing the story you’re telling/theme.
  • Presenting event after event to get the character from point A (the beginning) to point B (the end).

Mel’s note: Points two and three are related. If you don’t have a handle on your story and its theme, you’re most often going to end up with a series of unrelated events. My recommendation: read Steven Pressfield’s blog and books, and read to Shawn Coyne’s (Steven’s editor) Story Grid book and blog (and now podcast with Tim Grahl—excellent).

Problems with endings

  • Not ending (!).
  • Setting up for a series when the novel is a standalone, or failing to set up for another book when it’s a series.
  • No payoff for the reader/unsatisfactory ending.

Mel’s note: Begin with the ending in mind, even if you’re a die-hard pantser. Endings are torture if you’ve given them no thought until you get there and you’ll likely finish your draft with a hefty case of post-partum depression. Also, one of your editing exercises should be to ‘reverse engineer’ your story from the ending back to the beginning. You can see where important bits of foreshadowing need to be.

And that is my final entry in Ad Astra 2016 reportage. There were readings and launches and the Guest of Honour Brunch, but I wanted to enjoy those rather than record notes on them 😉

See you on Tipsday!