The next chapter: July 2018 update

Greetings, all you writerly people!

I think I’ve said this nearly every month this year but, once again, July was weird. This whole year has been weird.

I have to concede the effects that not only Phil’s health issues last year, but also the issues he’s been experiencing with his employer—not to mention the increasing stress of my day job—continue to have on me. I think these have been some of the chief contributing factors to my protracted burnout. When you have shit going on in other aspects of your life, it inevitably affects your creativity.

And while Phil’s health issues have been addressed and he continues, according to all recent test results, to be healthy, the work-related stresses are not at an end. I find myself struggling. Doubting. Resisting. Self-sabotaging.

As I mentioned previously, Phil’s work issues should be resolved by the end of the year. Unfortunately, my work stresses are just ramping up again. It’s usually the way things happen. One of us is in an upswing while the other is spiralling downward. I’m hoping that the fact that we’ve both been on the downward trend for the last while means that relief is in my future as well.

Once again, July has been hit and miss, but more hit than miss 😉 In other words, I wrote more days than I didn’t. Still, even adjusting my writing goal down for Playing with Fire, I was just shy of it, writing 4,858 words of my 5,000-word goal. That’s 97%.

As I like to say, every word’s a victory.

I wrote 3,454 words on this blog, or 123% of my 2,800-words goal. I had no other writing-related goals in July.

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I attended Ad Astra on July 14th and 15th, though. Because I’d spent so much on my grand adventure last year, I didn’t attend Ad Astra, even though Brandon Sanderson was one of the guests of honour. Normally, Ad Astra is in May. This year, they moved it into July and I think it was a good move.

It felt a bit more understated than in past years, and I decided that, this time, I was going to focus a bit more on networking and chatting up my fellow writers and less on rushing from panel to panel, making all the notes I could.

Last year, at WorldCon, I made the decision not to post my panel notes, but I still made notes, and I still rushed from panel to panel in a vain attempt to cram all the things into my wee skull. This year, I attended panels out of interest and enjoyed them. I didn’t take scads of notes, and I took the time to be social.

I introduced myself to J.M. Landels, one of the people behind Pulp Literature Magazine and Press, which I have been supporting through Kickstarter and other means since its inception. I met up with fellow SFCanada members Joe Mahoney and Douglas Smith. I enjoyed the company of fellow CAA members, Matt Bin and Ness Ricci-Thode, who introduced me to a number of her writing friends from the K-W area, several of whom were also CAA members. And I attended Jane Ann McLachlan’s book launch for The Sorrow Stone, her historical fiction release. There, I won a door prize of some lovely red wine, which has already been consumed 🙂

I also reconnected with Beverly Bambury, publicist to the stars. She actually remembered me before I had a chance to say, “hi.” I also saw a lot more people in passing that I’ve met in the past, like Robert Sawyer.

I started out by attending J.M. Landels’ reading from her novel Allaigna’s Song: Overture. Then, I headed to The Timey-Wimey Stuff with Jen Frankel, James Bambury, Cameron S. Currie, Cathy Hird, Kari Maaren, and Douglas Smith. It was interesting to hear how other authors used time travel in their fiction and how.

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I followed that up with The Business of Writing, with Jen Frankel, Beverly Bambury, Larry Hancock, Matthew Bin, and Jane Ann McLachlan. There was a lot of interesting information in this panel.

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After that, I broke for dinner, where I met up with Matt, Ness, and their friends, and then headed to what was the best panel of this year’s Ad Astra, Writing a Series.

Jen Frankel, Sarah WaterRaven, Justus R. Stone, Thomas Gofton, Kit Daven, and Lesley Livingston kept the room, which was packed to capacity, in stitches the whole time. Their chief collective advice: don’t do it. Apparently, when you get contracted to write a series, publishers generally set very steep deadlines. They don’t want readers to forget about novel one by the time the second is released.

After that was Writing Through Darkness, with Erik Buchanan, Adam Shaftoe-Durrant, and Cameron S. Currie, which was a very helpful panel on writing with mental illness. The panellists shared their strategies for improved mental health.

Then, I capped off the day with Jane Ann’s book launch.

On Sunday, I hung out at the dealer’s room and got myself this tasty pile of books.

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At the end of the month, Gail Anderson-Dargatz delivered a workshop on Writing Through Fear for members (and guests) of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild. We discussed the personality traits (read neuroses) and fears that most writers share, how these reveal themselves through the creative work, and how to address any problems that may arise because of them.

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It was, overall, a great month, despite my ongoing difficulties.

Torvi graduated from intermediate obedience, and is getting closer, all the time, to being a good dog.

What’s ahead for me?

I’m now (finally) within striking distance of the end of PwF (yay!). Once I finish with that draft, I’m going to organize my now-considerable notes (think series bible) before I begin another revision of Initiate of Stone and then I’ll be deep in outlining mode for the fifth and final book in the series, Tamisashki, for this year’s NaNoWriMo. I’d hoped to be able to get through revisions on the whole series, but that’s not going to happen. Next year. After I finish up with Tamisashki.

The exciting news I have for you this month is that I’ve found another critique group. It’s early days yet, and I have to spend some time getting my submission together, posting up my information on the various forums, and diving into another member’s posted draft. But I have a good feeling about this one. I think it’s going to help me break through some of my resistance and get back on track.

There was an admission process. These authors take their work seriously. Other than that, I’m not going to say much about it.

That’s all the writerly news I have to share with you this month.

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

The Next Chapter

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Dec 17-23, 2017

It’s the last instalment of informal writerly learnings of 2017! Not to worry, I’m not stopping the writerly goodness any time soon 😉

Jane Friedman hosts Peter Selgin on her blog: the deadliest first page sin, plus a critique of two novel openings.

Vaughn Roycroft presents the pantsing leftoverture. Writer Unboxed

Dave King: surprise! Writer Unboxed

Kathleen McCleary: what to give yourself this year. Writer Unboxed

Joanna Penn interviews Douglas Smith about writing short fiction for The Creative Penn podcast.

Emily Wenstrom recommends three types of social media posts you should be using. DIY MFA

Stacy B. Woodson shares seven lessons she learned from Lisa Gardner at Crime Bake. DIY MFA

Gabriela Pereira interviews Ada Palmer about writing speculative fiction for DIY MFA radio.

Gabriela Pereira: creativity is craft and it belongs to everyone. TEDxWilmingtonWomen

 

My latest contribution to DIY MFA: five reasons to book a writing cruise.

Jennie Nash stops by the Writers Helping Writers coaching corner: creating the perfect elevator pitch.

Jamie Raintree offers five ways to use the holiday season to benefit your writing career. Writers in the Storm

Jami Gold explains how to create scene endings that hook readers.

Jenna Moreci: common world building mistakes.

 

Chris Winkle lists five reasons your story is transphobic (and what to do about it). Mythcreants

As she turns 90, suspense still thrills Mary Higgins Clark. Lynn Neary for NPR.

Alison Flood: “Cat Person” author’s debut novel sparks flurry of international publishing deals. The Guardian

A.N. Devers: this is how a woman is erased from her job. Longreads

Michelle Dean: what makes someone a predator? The New York Times

Victoria Schwab: in praise of strange books. NPR

Ava DuVernay decided to direct A Wrinkle in Time so she could create new worlds. Evan Narcisse for i09.

Minute Physics: time travel in fiction rundown.

 

I hope your holiday celebrations were filled with joy, family, and friends.

Be well until Thursday!

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 28-July 4, 2015

Another bumper crop of Writerly Goodness. I guess you can tell where my head is these days, eh?

Will a newly consolidated Penguin Random House weaken or save Canadian publishing? The Globe and Mail.

Chapters Indigo to carry more lifestyle products. Is this a good thing for our national bookseller? The Province.

Russell Smith writes about how to publish a book in Canada. The Globe and Mail.

Apple loses its appeal and ebook decision is confirmed. Publishers Weekly.

K.M. Weiland shares three ways you can make writing your novel easier.

Level up your fiction with dramatic irony. Katie’s Wedneday post (what, no vlog? Nope, but the post is just as good).

Nina Munteanu writes on the topic of exposition.

How Veronica Sicoe brainstorms her story ideas into working concepts.

What are three signs that your novel has too many characters and what can you do about it? Roz Morris helps you Nail Your Novel.

Donald Maass contributed this piece on openings to Writer Unboxed. Intrigue vs. engagement? As usual, Don argues for a healthy balance of both 🙂

I may have posted this before, but it’s good advice, so here you go: How to know when to stop editing and move on. The Write Practice.

Chris Winkle posts about the differences between writing a short story and writing a novel. Mythcreants.

Steven Pressfield discusses the writer’s skill.

Ruth Harris writes about the care and feeding of your muse on Anne R. Allen’s blog.

Enough is a wretched concept. Delilah S. Dawson.

Are perfectly micromanaged worlds utopian or dystopian? Veronica Sicoe considers the question on her blog.

An interview with Douglas Smith. Fantasy Fiction Focus.

Charlie Gilkey interviews Ali Luke on The Creative Giant podcast.

Which books didn’t change your life? The Guardian.

What Zack Handlen learned from rereading The Stand. i09.

50 years on, how Dune changed the world. The Guardian.

Reading Canada with SFF legends, eh? Beauty in Ruins.

The Wizard of Oz and Age of Ultron mash up you didn’t know you needed. i09.

Advantageous is an insanely good movie that everyone should watch. Katherine Trendacosta for i09.

Check out theses fifteen TV series that reinvented science fiction in the past decade. i09.

Diana Gabaldon shared this two part interview from a few years back on Writer Unboxed. Good stuff 🙂 Here’s part 1 and part 2.

A first look at Outlander season two: Jamie and Claire in Paris. Entertainment Weekly.

Hang in there until Thoughty Thursday, peeps. I’ll be back with more curation for you then.

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