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.

JulyProgress

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.

20180714_151212

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.

20180714_161319

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.

20180715_163728

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.

20180728_100823

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

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, July 22-28, 2018

Give yourself the treat of informal writerly learnings on this last day of July 🙂

Jane Friedman excerpts from Diana Kimpton’s Plots and Plotting on her blog: how to skillfully use subplots in your novel.

K.M. Weiland shares four steps to turn an idea into a story that rocks. Helping Writers Become Authors

Anne Greenwood Brown explains how to write emotional scenes when you’d really rather not. Writer Unboxed

Heather Webb encourages you to build a world, hook a reader. Writer Unboxed

Joanna Penn interviews Samantha Keel about writing effective injuries for your characters. The Creative Penn

Kathryn Craft: our capacity for brilliance. Writers in the Storm

Rachael Stephen: how to punch perfectionism in its dumb face.

 

Leanne Sowul is writing for life. DIY MFA

Brenda Joyce Patterson explores voice across genre: by any other name. DIY MFA

Laura Stradiotto interviews Gail Anderson-Dargatz: overcoming the fear of writing. I attended her workshop on Saturday—stellar! The Sudbury Star

Jeff Vandermeer shares his views on the art and science of structuring a novel. Electric Lit

Anne Quito: the graceful restoration of a 200-year-old serif typeface reveals the problem with digital fonts. Quartzy

Hope you found something to move your craft forward.

Come back on Thursday for some thoughty.

Until then, be well, my friends.

tipsday2016

The next chapter: June 2018 update

Hello all you writerly people!

I know I’ve said this often in recent months, but this past month has been a weird one.

It started off well, but in the first full week of June, I was asked to deliver training with just one week to prep in and amongst my other duties. We didn’t even have a proper participant list until the Thursday before the class was to start. At least no one had to travel.

So, a week of frantic prep and two weeks of training followed by five weeks of post-training monitoring (PTM). Yeah, I’m going to be busy through to August.

I’ve had another life lesson confirmed for me. I no longer have to deliver training away from home to feel exhausted by the activity. Introvert me has to be on all the time in front of a class. It really leaves me drained at the end of the day with little to nothing left for my creative pursuits. And what little energy I have is still focused on Torvi, who, while she is showing steady improvement as she grows older, is still a handful. More on the T sitch, later.

On Wednesday of the second week of training, our group was inducted into a new PTM pilot project. The first class and group of monitors was chosen to be the pilot in advance of that class. The participants, their team leaders, and the trainers and monitors were all provided with training and information prior to the class. In other words, they were well-prepared.

Following the training, we were scrambling to mark the final tests, create course summary reports, and my co-facilitator was the lead monitor for the transition week, essentially dedicated advice and guidance for the whole class of fifteen. Plus, we both had our own agents (three each) to take care of.

I won’t get into the details, or this will be a very long, ranty post. Needless to say, it was madness.

JuneProgress

Given the crazy, I think I did pretty good. I wrote more days than not, and I wrote less than I would have liked, but I wrote, and that was the biggest part of the battle. I only wrote 6,635 words of my 10K goal, or 66%.

This means that it will be one more month drafting Playing with Fire. I should, however, finish the draft by the end of July.

I wrote 3,363 words on this blog, or 129% of my 2,600-word goal, got my DIY MFA column in early at a honkin’ 2,141 words, or 241%, and assembled my last Sudbury Writers’ Guild newsletter at 4,072 words, or 102% of goal.

In all, I wrote 16,213 words in June, or 92% of my monthly writing goal. Not too shabby 🙂

I did nothing in terms of creative events this month, but I did have supper with a good friend the other night. We haven’t seen each other in forever and it was lovely to catch up.

This coming month, however, I’ll have a couple of events to share. I’ll be heading down to Ad Astra next weekend, and the Sudbury Writers’ Guild will be holding a workshop with Gail Anderson-Dargatz on the 28th.

I may have another critique group in the making. I’ll find out more tomorrow and be sure to fill you in when I compose next month’s update.

In other news …

Phil continues to trudge toward sanity at work. It’s still rough, but they’ve hired someone who’ll be able to ease some of Phil’s burden and who’ll be starting mid-month. There will be some training before the new hire is going to be able to take some of the workload off Phil’s shoulders, but it’s another small win.

Health-wise, I’m pretty much sorted. My doctor put me through a battery of blood screenings, and other tests, and all of the results came back showing that I’m in good health. The one issue I’d wanted to investigate turns out just to be age-related and manageable without medication. Oh, and I have fibroids, which I didn’t have a few months ago, but I haven’t experienced any problems as a result of them. Funny, I don’t feel old enough to have these problems …

And … five months after the ablation, I had my first non-period. It was essentially just prolonged spotting. I’m cautiously optimistic.

We have one class left in Torvi’s intermediate obedience. As I said above, she’s improving, but she’s still a handful. One bit of progress is that I was able to take her across town in the car—without meds (!) I think we’ll be able to stop using them soonish. She may never enjoy the car, and she’ll probably drool every time we take a ride, but she’s not really distressed, and she hasn’t thrown up.

I took her to get her nails trimmed and she was snappy with the groomer. They may have to muzzle her in the future 😦

Feisty pup is feisty.

Tomorrow, I’m going to introduce her to a beach and see if she’ll swim. If, as I suspect, she’s got a good bit of husky in her, she may not do more than wade in and get her belly wet. I’ll be instagramming the pics.

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

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

The Next Chapter

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Sept 4-10, 2016

Lots of informal writerly learnings for you this week 🙂

K.M. Weiland posts another instalment in her most common writing mistakes series. Last week, it was part 53: no contractions in dialogue. Helping writers become authors

Later in the week, Kate returns with more lessons from the MCU: the right way and the wrong way to foreshadow.

Janice Hardy guest posts on Writers helping writers: how to stay organized during revision.

Later she posts on killing your darlings on her own Fiction University blog.

Sophie Masson offers some tips on how to use real-world places to inspire fictional settings. Writer Unboxed

Donald Maass: intensity. Writer Unboxed

Steven Pressfield examines the inciting incident and the call.

I shared the Tweet that inspired Chuck Wendig’s grammar rant last week. I’d also heard Grammar Girl, Mignon Fogarty, discuss it on her podcast a week or two earlier. Chuck brings up some good points, though. The ideal order of adjectives may well be how they sound best when spoken, and this can vary between English speaking countries as well as regionally, within each country, based on dialectical differences. Words like absolute and must, while they exist in the English language, sometimes don’t apply to it universally.

Annie Neugebauer is back with part two of her query letter mini-series: the extras. Writer Unboxed

Professional book critic, Laura Miller, extols the merits of Amazon reader reviews. Slate

If you’re going to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, you’d better start planning now. Bess Cosby for DIYMFA.

Sarah Selecky wonders how we make the time to write? An exploration of the concept of white space as it applies to process. Story is a state of mind

With timeframes ranging from 2.5 days to 16 years, this infographic on how long it takes to write a novel could give you the encouragement you need. Or not. Mental Floss

Jael Richardson outlines six reasons you should attend a Canadian literary festival. Includes lists of festivals into 2017. Open Book Toronto

Award news: The Scotiabank Giller Prize 2016 long list.

Gail Anderson-Dargatz: when the book is ready, it will find a home. The Globe and Mail

Ann Patchett: If writers are to survive, we must take responsibility for ourselves and our industry. The Guardian

This was the big, and somewhat controversial, news lat week. No, the internet hasn’t killed the printed book. Most readers still prefer them. Daniel Victor for The New York Times.

K.C. Alexander: publishing while female (A.K.A. why I stopped internalizing your shit). Terribleminds

Dashka Slater exposes the uncomfortable truth about children’s books. Mother Jones

Nisi Shawl: representing my equals. A discussion of how and why she chose the eleven POV characters in Everfair. Tor/Forge blog

Why Yassmin Abdel-Magied walked out of the key note speech at the Brisbane Writers Festival. Medium

The do’s and don’ts of writing a transgendered or non-binary character. The story and its writer

Brooks Barnes considers this summer’s mega-hits and super flops in cinema. Was this the year that movies stopped mattering? The New York Times

Natalie Zutter has updated the (very long) list of SFF works coming to the big and little screens, from the rumoured to in production. Tor.com

This is beautiful. Though it was completed more than a decade ago, this is the first time I’ve seen Destino, Walt Disney’s collaboration with Salvador Dali.

 

Marvel’s Luke Cage is the unapologetic, black superhero we’ve been waiting for. Evan Narcisse for i09.

Here’s the trailer for the next MCU movie I’m looking forward to: Dr. Strange.

 

And . . . Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

 

Come back Thursday for a short but insightful bit of thoughty.

Tipsday