Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, March 18-24, 2018

I give you … your informal writerly learnings for the week. What else?

K.M. Weiland shares five ways to take risks with your writing. Helping Writers Become Authors

Vaughn Roycroft asks, how deep the darkness? Writer Unboxed

Dave King is playing on trust. Writer Unboxed

Margaret Dilloway wonders, should your main character be likeable? Writer Unboxed

Heather Webb considers serendipity, zeitgeist, and the interconnectedness of all things (in writing). Writer Unboxed

Angela Ackerman shares three ways to help quieter protagonists steal the scene. Writers Helping Writers

Jennie Nash: characters in cars, thinking, or, how to deal with the passage of time. Writers Helping Writers

Nathan Bransford offers his take on how to edit your novel.

Gabriela Pereira guest posts on Writer’s Digest: four basic steps to start building your author blog.

Sara Letourneau provides a case study on isolation as a literary theme. DIY MFA

I plumb the depths of the Baba Yaga fairy tale. DIY MFA

Tamar Sloan lists five powerful strategies to build writer’s grit. DIY MFA

Margie Lawson helps you capture “cliché play” power. Writers in the Storm

Jami Gold explains how to create positive themes despite bittersweet endings. Later in the week, she answers the question, what is line editing and what should line editors do?

Nathan Bransford explains how writing changes the world.

Nina Munteanu: the gestalt nature of passion and success.

Oren Ashkenazi lists five common pitfalls of stories with deep ideas. Mythcreants

Farrah Penn tells the tale of Amy Daws, the first writer-in-residence of Tires, Tires, Tires. Buzzfeed

Emily Asher-Perrin looks at Trish Walker’s evolution in the second season of Jessica Jones: I don’t want to be with him; I want to be him. Tor.com

Michael Moreci: Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One is smarter and more insightful than you’ve been told. Tor.com

And that was Tipsday. Be well until Thursday!

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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!

tipsday2016

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

I present your informal writerly learnings for the week:

K.M. Weiland offers five tips for organizing sub-plots. Helping Writers Become Authors

Later in the week, Amber Massey guest posts on Kate’s blog: five tips for creating believable fictional languages.

Susan Wolfe wonders, if you write a book that nobody reads, are you still a writer? Writer Unboxed

Annie Neugebauer offers a pragmatist’s guide to easing the ugh (AKA learning to wait well). Writer Unboxed

Lydia Kang helps you prepare your research to-do list. Writer Unboxed

Jennie Nash visits the Writers Helping Writers coaching corner: fast draft writing for NaNoWriMo—and every other month.

Later in the week, Kristen Lamb stops by to talk about flashbacks.

Gabriela Pereira stops by Writer’s Digest to explain how to build your email list.

Terri Frank lists six writing books librarians recommend. DIY MFA

Catherine Schaff-Stump (one of the lovely writerly types I met through the Writing Excuses Retreat) shares her favourite bit of The Vessel of Ra on Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog.

Sarah Laskow finds 30 lost English words that deserve a comeback. Atlas Obscura

Angela Chen is the last Chinese-American woman writer who hadn’t read Maxine Hong Kingston. Electric Lit

Deji Bryce Olukotun imagines the future of Nigeria through science fiction. Literary Hub

Eliza Anyangwe counts Nnedi Okorafor’s “so many different kinds of strange” and how she’s changing the face of science fiction. The Guardian

Mark Medley reports: three first-time authors (including one genre writer) make Giller Prize longlist. The Globe and Mail

Oh, yum! James Whitbrook gives us our first look at David Tennant and Michael Sheen in Good Omens. i09

Be well until Thursday, my friends.

tipsday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 18-24, 2017

The informal writerly goodness was plentiful this week 🙂

Jane Friedman: when you’re successful, lots of people ask for your help. You have to decide who deserves it. Then Claire McKinney visits Jane’s blog to explain the difference between a press release and a pitch (and why you need both). Later in the week, Jane tackles permissions and fair use.

K.M. Weiland helps you make the most of the five stages of the writing process. Later in the week, Kate returns to offer four reasons you should outline your setting. Helping Writers Become Authors

Vaughn Roycroft is heartened by Wonder Woman—making the case for sincere storytelling. Writer Unboxed

Dave King: two coins in the hundred. Writer Unboxed

Dank blank shares four ways to beat frustration in your writing career. Writer Unboxed

Heather Webb says failure is a four letter word (in writing). It’s also a necessary part of the journey. Writer Unboxed

Chuck Wendig offers his signature advice on writing scenes: Aaaannd, scene! Later in the week, Laura Lam visits Terribleminds: I am on so many government watchlists.

Leanne Sowul offers four rules for eliminating distractions and cultivating deep work. DIY MFA

Brenda Joyce Patterson joins the DIYMFA team: opening doors through poetry and short fiction.

Gabriela Pereira interviews Lisa Preziosi about writing a modern day fairy tale for DIY MFA radio.

Janice Hardy shares her brainstorming process in her birth of a book series. Fiction University

Jennie Nash drops by the coaches corner on Writers Helping Writers: how to boost your self-editing superpowers.

Angela Ackerman shares ten ways to show character emotion. Writers Helping Writers

Jami Gold muses on the writer’s heroic journey.

Cait Reynolds takes over Kristen Lamb’s blog and offers you some advice on research for historical fiction. Plus, she’s hilarious!

Jenny Hansen shares five things the family road trip taught her about editing. Writers in the Storm

Oren Ashkenazi lists six ways rapid communication changes a fantasy setting. Mythcreants

Brian Dillon analyzes Virginia Woolf’s wonderful, beautiful, almost failed sentence. Literary Hub

Andrew O’Hagen wonders if social media will kill the novel. The Guardian

The second Game of Thrones trailer has been released!

 

I hope you’ve found something to feed your muse in this lot, or at least something to tame your inner editor 😉

 

Be well until Thursday!

tipsday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, March 19-25, 2017

Another bumper crop of informal writerly learnings for you!

K.M. Weiland shares nine tips that will help you create opening and closing lines that readers will love to quote. Helping Writers Become Authors

Later in the week, Kate helps you determine when it’s a good idea to use a made-up setting.

Shanna Swendson guest posts on Fiction University: is your plot complex, or chaotic?

Vaughn Roycroft is embracing perseverance. Writer Unboxed

Maya Rock helps you prepare for the emotional roller coaster of revision. Writer Unboxed

Dave King takes a look at Stephen King, a master of suspense and suspension of disbelief. Writer Unboxed

Heather Webb tackles writing through the soggy, infuriating, anxiety-inducing middle. Writer Unboxed

Dan Blank encourages us to use the magic wand of generosity. Writer Unboxed

Jeff Lyons guest posts on Jami Gold’s blog: how to make every story idea the best it can be.

Constance Renfrow lists five story openings to avoid. DIY MFA

Gabriela Pereira interviews Dan Blank on DIY MFA radio.

Kolina Cicero shares five tips for reading like a writer. DIY MFA

Jenna Moreci: show vs. tell.

 

Chuck Wendig has some considerations for you, if you want to be a professional writer. Terribleminds

Kameron Hurley guest posts on Writer’s Digest: how to build fantastic worlds.

Amber Mitchell offers six tips for fantasy worldbuilding. Writer’s Digest

Jennie Nash visits the Writers Helping Writers coaching corner: how to rescue a book in danger of dying.

Jody Hedlund suggests three ways to add depth to your novel.

Kristen Lamb helps you evaluate whether or not you have a story (or just 85,000 words). Later in the week she  wonders, do some people lack the talent to be authors?

Jenny Hansen shares some helpful hacks to build a strong brand. Writers in the Storm

As a follow up to Jenny’s post, Jami Gold offers some tips for keeping our sanity while building a brand.

Alice Sudlow offers a lesson on phrasal verbs. The Write Practice

Merriam-Webster explores the history of thon, the proposed and forgotten gender-neutral pronoun.

Grace O’Connell interviews Robert J. Sawyer for Open Book.

Wyl Menmuir shares data from the app that helped him write his Booker long-listed debut. The Guardian

Natalie Zutter shares the full length trailer for Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Tor.com

Hope this gave you something you needed to keep creating.

Be well until Thursday!

tipsday2016

The next chapter: December 2016 update and year in review

My goodness, here we are in 2017 (!) and now it’s time for me to take stock of my year. Did I accomplish what I hoped to at the beginning of the year?

We’ll get back to that in a few.

First, I have to sum up (‘cause there is too much—I live by PB references) December 2016.

I knew when I decided to tackle Wavedancer, the third book in my epic fantasy series, for NaNoWriMo 2016 that I wouldn’t even come close to finishing the draft (it is EPIC fantasy, after all) in November. I was, however, foolish enough to think, initially, at least, that I’d write another 50k words in December and finish the draft by the end of the year.

I should have known better.

This is the fourth year I’ve done NaNo, and my third win. Each year, I enter December in a fog, still half-living in the world of my novel. I work a day job. There’s no way I could keep up the NaNo pace for another whole month.

Accordingly, I adjusted my expectations to 500 words a day and, though there were two days I didn’t write at all and a few assorted low-count days in the mix, there were also five days in which I wrote over a thousand words, so it all came out in the wash.

decemberprogress

To be more specific, of the 15,500 word goal for the month, I wrote 18,859 words, exceeding my goal by 3,359 words 🙂

Blogging 5,610 words brought my writing total for the month to 21,600 words.

Not 50k, but not bad at all 🙂

Back to my year-end review.

2016 was the first year that Jamie Raintree incorporated separate columns and totals for revision in her Writing Tracker, now called the Writing & Revision Tracker.

Though I’ve looked back at 2015’s and 2014’s trackers, the totals were skewed because in 2014, I didn’t track my revisions, and in 2015, I was tracking my revisions at one counted word for every two words revised. So there’s no real point in trying to compare.

What I set out to do at the beginning of 2016 was to go through all of my written novels to date and start to revise.

I’m happy to say that I accomplished this goal, but things didn’t go quite as I’d hoped. They never do. Quite.

For most of the novels, it was more of a getting reacquainted with the stories and the characters. I didn’t do a lot of revising, but now that I have the lay of the land, so to speak, the next passes will all be more in-depth.

I already mentioned that, having revised my goals post-NaNo, I did write two thirds of Wavedancer. To be specific, I wrote 71,157 words between November and December, and I will continue in that vein until the draft is done in my estimation.

I continued to query Initiate of Stone, but finally got it through my thick skull that it’s not the best project to use when trying to get a deal. So I’m changing gears and going to prepare another project for querying this year. We’ll see how it goes.

How did all this shape up as far as numbers went?

yearend

Of my 138,100 word writing goal, between all projects, I wrote 169,288 words, or 123%. Considering all the revision I was doing, that’s a lovely total.

With respect to revision, I managed 359,114 words of my 375,000 goal, or about 96%.

Some things happened in the year that I didn’t plan on, however.

Though it didn’t happen until July, I wrote a new piece of short fiction. I hadn’t expected that with my focus on the novels. It was a good surprise 🙂

January through March, I participated in the first offering of the Story Genius course created by Jennie Nash and the story genius herself, Lisa Cron. It was something unexpected, but I couldn’t let the opportunity pass. I had to try to make space for the course in my overall plan for the year and ended up making some poor decisions that didn’t serve me well.

While my experience in the course wasn’t, overall, a positive one, I still love the Story Genius method (and book—go get it!) and I would recommend it highly to anyone who can devote 100% of their time to the work. You will reap the benefits.

I just learned, in the most ego-wrenching way possible, that I cannot learn on someone else’s schedule. Especially while I’m working full time. I also made the decision to use Apprentice of Wind, the second in my epic fantasy series, as the project for my work in the course. Story Genius, in the form I took it, was not intended for novels that are already drafted, or for books other than the first in a series. I understand that strategies and approaches for projects of this type have been developed since.

These issues were entirely of my own creation and should not cast any doubt on the excellence of the course, of Lisa or Jennie, or of their dedicated team of editors.

I signed up for K.M. Weiland’s Character Arcs course through the Digital Freedom Academy. It’s entirely self-paced and Kate has loaded her usual extras into the course materials. Her Creating Character Arcs book also came out in the fall, and I definitely recommend both. I am a fangirl, though.

In August, I signed up for another Nelson Literary Agency course on the first five pages. NLA courses are excellence sources of feedback from professional agents who know what makes a successful submission.

At the end of September, I enrolled in a Mary Robinette Kowal Short Fiction Intensive. Blew my mind.

Finally, as far as courses go, I signed up for a course by Kristen Lamb on writing query letters and synopses.

I also tried my hand at #PitchWars for the first time with Reality Bomb, and while I didn’t make the extremely competitive cut, I did have a positive experience thanks to the team who considered my proposal, Michael Mammay and Dan Koboldt. It’s quite an eye-opener, and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to test the waters with one of their novels.

It was a lot of fun and another pleasant surprise.

As far as conferences and conventions, I attended Ad Astra, The Canadian Writers’ Summit, and my very first WorldCon last year.

I was also pleased to participate as a panellist at Wordstock Sudbury 2016.

And I had two stories published in the Sudbury Writers’ Guild anthology, Sudbury Ink, which launched in November.

Complicating all that, Phil had some significant health issues to deal with at the beginning of the year (now resolved), and, from August through to November, he renovated our living room after work and on the weekends.

We’re still waiting for the last pieces of furniture to be delivered, and he’ll be working on building wall-to-wall bookshelves, as the weather allows (he’s working in the unheated garage) throughout the winter. Pictures will be forthcoming in a future post.

Looking at all of that written out, I accomplished a helluva lot last year.

I think I’m going to have to ease back a bit in 2017, work smarter instead of harder.

Yeah, that’s the ticket.

What are my plans for 2017?

Well, you know I’m not one for resolutions. I have goals that I work steadily toward and amend as required.

First, I’ve nabbed my copy of Jamie Raintree’s 2017 Writing & Revision tracker. I’m setting up the projects in series this year, and will identify different novels in my Ascension series with different colours so I’ll be able to distinguish them and extract the numbers I need to feed my production geek.

I’ll continue to finish drafting Wavedancer, as I mentioned (way) above. At my current rate, I should be finished by the end of February.

Once drafting is done, I’m going to return to revising. I should be able to get through all of the novels in the course of the year. Again, as I mentioned above, I intend these revisions to be more in depth and to address some of the structural issues, as I see them, in the stories.

I’m going to be working with a coach to get Reality Bomb reworked. It’s something else I’m trying in my quest to improve my craft. My hope is that I’ll be able to query RB later this year.

With the short fiction surprise last year, I’ve actually had another idea I want to work on, and some other ideas for revising a couple of my other stories to improve them. Accordingly, I’ve made some room for these projects in my plan.

For NaNoWriMo, I’m going to tackle the fourth novel in the epic fantasy series, tentatively titled Playing with Fire.

I may also have a new, semi-regular writing gig to tell you about. I don’t want to let the cat out of the proverbial bag yet, but if it materializes, you can be sure I’ll let you know all the tasty deets I can 🙂

I’ve already signed up for the Story Masters Workshop in May. Donald Maass, James Scott Bell, and Christopher Vogler are coming to Toronto. This is a squee-worthy score, in my books. It was another opportunity I couldn’t let pass.

When I heard that the No Excuses cruise was going to be in Europe this year and timed to immediately precede WorldCon in Helsinki, I was seriously considering signing up. Unfortunately some non-writerly priorities make both the cruise and WorldCon impractical. Mellie haz a sad.

In fact, I may not attend any conferences or conventions at all this year. We’ll see how things shape up.

The reason for this dialling back is that Phil, who’s in his 50’s now, wants to proceed with renovations to the kitchen and bathroom this year. Though he will continue to do as much of the work himself as he can, these two projects will require a significant financial investment. And we haven’t paid off the living room renovation yet.

We also want to get another puppy. This will depend on whether my employer sorts out their payroll issues and I can apply for another self-funded leave. I will need the time to train our new dependent, furry quadruped. Again, deets will be forthcoming as I can share them.

On that front, if the payroll issues at work are sorted, I’ll finally see my acting pay from mid-February to the end of September last year, less about a thousand dollars outstanding from my last self-funded leave.

We’ve heard that union negotiations have resulted in an offer, the terms of which look reasonable. If we vote to ratify the new contract, it will mean about two and a half years of retro pay and a signing bonus, again, dependent on when the payroll issues can be sorted.

Our car loan should be paid off in late spring, as well, and so, between it all, we’ll have a little extra money to use to pay down our debts.

Phil got a promotion and raise last year from his employer, so we figure this will be the year to finish the renovations.

As you can see, this is going to be a different kind of year, but I’m hopeful that everything will work out.

Besides, come the end of February, it will be the Chinese Year of the Rooster (I’m a rooster!) and I think the powers that be might finally be aligning in my favour 😉

Here’s to a fabulous and productive 2017 for everyone.

Love and light and loads of good words to you all!

The Next Chapter

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 8-14, 2016

All kinds of writerly goodness for you this week!

K.M. Weiland has made no secret of her disappointment in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. In classic Kate fashion, she gleans writerly goodness from the experience. Planning your story: what George Lucas can teach you (not) to do. Helping writers become authors.

Later in the week, she offered eight tips for writing child characters.

Jessi Rita Hoffman explains how to write a thrilling action scene for Writer Unboxed.

Sophie Masson shares the building blocks of great young adult fiction. Writer Unboxed.

Lisa Cron advises: don’t accidentally give your characters a time out. Writer Unboxed.

Margaret Dilloway explores overcoming impostor syndrome for Writer Unboxed.

Christine Frazier shows you why your hero should eavesdrop and make a bad assumption (in four steps). The Better Novel Project.

Janice Hardy looks at writing a character with a gender not your own. Fiction University.

Dan Koboldt offers some tips for creating fundamentalist religions in fantasy.

Chris Winkle offers strategies for defeating the contrivance boogeyman. Mythcreants.

Jami Gold wonders if your plot obstacles are too easy, too difficult, or just right?

Jennie Nash studies great opening lines. The Book Designer.

Chuck Wendig advises us to defy reality and become artists. Terribleminds.

Jami Gold explores how to reach your potential through writing feedback.

Angela Ackerman offers six rules that will keep your critique partnerships golden. Writers helping writers.

Gabriela Pereira interviews Charlaine Harris for the DIYMFA podcast.

Annie Neugebauer says, don’t hate the query—master it! Writer Unboxed.

Janet Reid shares a checklist of things you need to be thinking about between offer and acceptance.

Susan Spann offered some advice on royalty clauses in publishing deals and how authors get paid. Writers in the Storm.

Karina Sumner-Smith guest posts on Janice Hardy’s Fiction University: is a quick release schedule right for you and your books?

My friend, Kim, is back on the road. This time, she spends an afternoon with Margaret Atwood.

Micah Solomon offers three books that will help you to radically improve your writing. BookBaby

Cory Doctorow shares his vision of how publishers, libraries, and writers could work together. BoingBoing.

Delilah S. Dawson wrote this beautiful post on writing and grieving: someday this pain will be useful to you.

Natalie Zutter shares Nnedi Okorafor and N.K. Jemesin in conversation: masquerade, initiation, and science fiction and fantasy. Tor.com

Bustle wants you to diversify your reading list with these 23 LGBTQ books with a person of colour as a protagonist.

What Bustle says your to-be-read list says about your personality.

Ferris Jabr revisits the lost gardens of Emily Dickinson. The New York Times.

Kathryn Hughes looks at the dystopian world of Beatrix Potter. The Guardian.

Shakespeare and death:

 

Women swept the Nebulas! i09.

Jo Walton reviews Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning for Tor.com.

A Ken Liu short story will be made into a movie. i09.

John Marcotte reports that Marvel is committing to a Black Widow movie (at some unknown point in the future). Heroic Girls.

And, speaking of Marvel, the next X-Men movie is due out May 27th: X-Men Apocalypse.

Here’s the teaser:

 

And the official trailer:

 

Buzzfeed shared what was a sneak peek of Outlander’s next episode (I saw it Sunday) but I thought I’d post it anyway. “Ovaries explode!” – funnee.

See you Thursday for some thoughty stuff 🙂

Tipsday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, April 3-9, 2016

Wahoo! Is it possible there’s even more writerly goodness in here then there was last week? Hella yeah!

More exciting local news: Sudbury is part of Reading Town 2016 (think Hockey Town with books) 🙂

 

Most common writing mistakes, part 50: Info dumps (and how to fix them). K.M. Weiland. Helping writers become authors.

Liz Bureman looks at parataxis and hypotaxis (and how Greek makes you a better writer). The Write Practice.

Sara Letourneau explores how to develop theme in your stories through symbolism. DIYMFA.

Donald Maass discusses relevance for Writer Unboxed.

Juliet Marillier writes about the different responses you can (and should) have to an editorial report. Writer Unboxed.

Roz Morris asks, must plot twists always be misfortunes or disasters? And, where does your story end? Nail you novel.

Daniel José Older offers twelve fundamentals of writing the other (and the self). Buzzfeed.

Marcy Kennedy explores how to read as a writer (part 1).

Real writers don’t self-publish, part two. Kristen Lamb shares her further thoughts on the issue.

Mike Shatzkin wonders what will happen to high-cost non-fiction in the evolving indie world.

C.S. Lakin points out the need for persistence in your writing journey. Live, write, thrive.

Janice Hardy shares her thoughts on challenging yourself, versus setting yourself up to fail. Fiction University.

Kameron Hurley writes about career milestones and prioritizing projects.

Catherine Ryan Howard recounts how the idea for her novel Distress Signals evolved.

How to create a better writing space (and other thoughts on writing). Avoiding Atrophy.

Jennie Nash shares her one page book planner on Kobo Writing Life.

Sarah Selecky shares more writing retreats for your wish list.

Speaking of writing retreats, my friend, Kim Fahner, has just spent the week in Banff with Lawrence Hill. Here are her posts on the experience: Making time to write, and Writing retreats and the friends you meet.

“Mad Men” creator, Matthew Weiner’s reassuring life advice for struggling artists. Fast Company.

Sword and Laser: Interview with Ken Liu.

 

The Writes of Women: a celebration of female writers and their work.

Stephen Greenblatt explores how Shakespeare lives now for The New York Review of Books.

A Shakespeare first folio was discovered on the Isle of Bute, just in time for the Bard’s 400th anniversary. The New York Times.

The history of typography. Ben Barrett-Forrest.

 

Christopher Zumski Finke discovers what Battlestar Galactica teaches us about the militarization of police. Yes! Magazine.

Rogue One teaser trailer.

 

Kate Spencer says, hey dudes, you should be watching Outlander. Esquire.

And that should keep you busy for a while (!)

See you on Thursday for a video heavy dose of thoughty edutainment 🙂

Tipsday

The next chapter: February 2016 update

February is always a struggle for me, even in this year, when we didn’t have snow until after Christmas. By the time February rolls around, the dimness of winter has resulted in some degree of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). I’m tired of being cold. I’m tired of slogging through the snow. I’m just tired.

Just a note here: We’ve had more snow in January and February that we had by this time last year, and last year, the snow started in the last week of October. That’s global warming for you.

Add to that Phil’s health issues (which are steadily showing improvement, so we’re good on that score), my illness, and my subsequent discovery that I’m anaemic, and we have a perfect storm of personal stress.

I suspect that I’ve been anaemic for some time. Persistent exhaustion and difficulty sleeping (among numerous other symptoms) have supported this hypothesis. Heck, in the days when I used to donate blood, I remember being turned away on several occasions because of low iron.

Then there’s work. The problems there are mostly political in nature and not anything I have either control or influence over. It’s frustrating and disappointing more than anything else, but that’s contributed to my desire to leap-month over February and get on with things.

Creatively, I’ve still managed to exceed my revision goal, but was unable to meet my writing goal in February. I’m not going to go into the reasons for that because it doesn’t have an impact on you, gentle readers, nor would there be any nugget of wisdom to be pulled from those events.

My challenge in February was in trying to continue my coursework in Story Genius while proceeding with my writing and revision goals, which were set prior to the course, and (for me) take precedence. I also committed to another, shorter course from Jamie Raintree, and though I enjoyed it, I think I simply took on far too much. Far. Too. Much.

I had a rough week during which I felt stupid because I couldn’t effectively implement the Story Genius lesson. It blocked me. I couldn’t even revise for a number of days because I could see my failures too clearly in front of me. I could see all the ways in which my existing work sucked ass (sorry, but that was the exact thought in my head at the time).

There are several reasons for this:

  1. I’m a keener and I have been learning my entire life. I’m a perfectionist. I’m used to doing well. I’m so much harder on myself than anyone else can be. My confidence is easily shaken. Usually, I can write through the malaise, but this time, I balked.
  2. I chose to work on a finished draft rather than a new story idea. Worse, I chose the second book in a series. I set myself up for failure because the focus of the course is to develop an idea from, “oh, this is cool,” to a realized story map given the specifics of the Story Genius methodology. It would have been much easier if I had chosen to do this. I was stubborn and thought I could both revise Apprentice of Wind and use it as the basis for my work in the course. Silly rabbit.
  3. This was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, but I had neither budgeted for the expense of the course, nor, because of my day job, could I budget sufficient time to do a good job.
  4. Illness played a role, both mine and Phil’s. My personal circumstances have made me less able to cope with what would otherwise be a minor disappointment.

Ultimately, I’ve stepped back. I have the lessons, transcripts, examples, etc., and I’m going to take the time to do the learning, and incorporate it into my creative process. In my own time. Benefits will be reaped, just not tomorrow.

There’s one week left and I’m not going to ignore it or dog it. I’m going to do the best I’m currently capable of and be content that, with practice, the true learning will occur.

My difficulties have been completely of my own making and I could have prevented them from happening by waiting for the next time the course was offered, or the time after that. If I’m able to prepare properly, I can meet (and sometimes exceed) my own, admittedly high, expectations.

Learning nugget for y’all: If we fail to plan, we plan to fail. Thank you, Benjamin Franklin.

Mel’s version: If you’re keen on something that’s popped up unexpectedly, sit back and really assess the situation. What will happen if you don’t do it this very minute? Are there future opportunities you could take advantage of? Do you really have the resources (time, money, focus) you need to invest? If not, is there a way you can shift things around to make those resources appear? Look at the long game. What part in your career does this opportunity have? Will things look any different in five years (or ten, or twenty) if you don’t “do all the things” now?

Above all, be kind to yourself.

Having said that, Story Genius is a mind blowing course and I value the opportunity to learn from Lisa Cron and Jennie Nash, both incredible experts in writing and editing. My assigned editor is also a fabulous guy and he’s been very supportive. It’s well worth the investment in time and money.

I’ll reiterate what I wrote above: my problems are of my own making and should not in any way reflect on Jennie and Lisa’s amazeballs course.

So. What did I get done in February?

I have finished the first run-through of Apprentice of Wind. There is at least one more structural edit I have to do, in which I will make use of the Story Genius method, but I’m going to let the work relax for a bit before I dive back in. In fact, I’ve seen some further areas for improvement in Initiate of Stone, as well. I might start at the beginning and work straight through both novels on the next round. It will keep me in the Ascension series headspace and voice, too, something I feel is lacking in AoW.

In the meantime, I’ve moved on to Figments. Reading through it, it’s a lot better than I remember, which has been comforting. I’m going to apply Story Genius to that, too. Before I get to the actual revision, so I’m not mucking up one process (planning) with the other (revision).

I think that repeated practice will be the key to successful implementation. Eventually, it will become second nature. Then, I will actually be able to say that I’m a story genius 😉

I resumed querying, and I submitted more short stories.

I also received more rejections. Some of them were positive (this story isn’t suitable, but please send something else), but it still results in no further publications.

This hits home in tax season, during which one becomes acutely aware of how little income one has made from one’s creative efforts.

It doesn’t help, either, that nominations for various awards have opened. Even though I really don’t have a chance in hell of getting on a ballot, it would be nice to be able to put my name beside the title of a story I wrote (and was paid for), and then stand back and say, like a proud five year old, “I made this.” 😀

FebruaryProgress

Here’s how the numbers break down.

I achieved 108% of my revision goal with 40,708 words revised.

I achieved 90% of my writing goal with 5027 words, all written on this blog.

I sent out five queries and one package for a publisher’s open call.

I submitted short stories to one anthology call, and one magazine.

And that was my month in review.

This month, as I mentioned, I’m moving on to revising Figments, and will be submitting more queries and short stories.

And I’m going to give myself a break. I’m making progress. It’s enough. So am I. I just have to remind myself what would happen if publishing was taken out of the equation.

That’s right. I’d still be writing.

If you don’t love what you’re doing, why the hell are you doing it?

Have a good week, everyone.

Hugs all around.

You’re awesomesauce, each and every one of you.

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: January 2016 update

First, a note about the non-writing parts of my life

Well, the new year has gotten off to a bit of a shaky start, not with respect to my writing and revision goals, but with respect to other stuff.

In the last week of December, Phil got sick enough he had to go see a doctor. He hadn’t been in a very long time and in the process of diagnosing the illness he went to see the doctor for in the first place, the doctor diagnosed him with two other, fairly serious, illnesses. Three for the price of one. Yay?

I won’t go into the details, because it’s not my story to tell, but he’s on several medications, we’ve had to change our diet (not significantly, but still), and we’ll have to commit to several more lifestyle changes in the coming months. It’s going to be a good thing, ultimately, but I’m a creature of habit. Change is stressful.

Phil’s been told not to tackle everything at once, and so we’re dealing with things one issue, and one day, at a time.

I’ve gotten a cold for the first time in about three years. Since I don’t get them often, I tend to get doozies. I’m also in the process of seeing whether I’m anaemic or not, and my gall bladder is acting up.

I guess this is my reaction to the stress of everything else.

Which includes learning that I’ve been screened out of the consultant process at work. We’ve had a general information session, because many of the over three hundred people who applied were screened out, but I’m still getting an informal discussion of the specific reasons I was screened out. That happens Tuesday.

I’ve really been trying not to get upset. Work is work and I’ve tried to prioritize my creative work over the day job, but having been successful in the last three processes and had four acting assignments in as many years, I can’t help but feel that I’ve been kicked in the teeth. They still have testing and interviews to go, and if the eventual pool ends up being as small at I suspect it will be, there will be another process in the future. I have to question the point of putting myself through the wringer again, though.

My current acting assignment ends next Friday and at that point, so far as I know, I’m heading back to the training and advice & guidance team, but everyone keeps saying that I’m not going back and even managers aren’t including me in the training plan and no one is telling me anything. I’m kind of suffering from mushroom syndrome.

I’m trying to be Zen, but I’m not very good at that, in all honesty. I am a lot more laid back than some people, but I internalize a lot. Hence, the illen.

Now, onto the Writerly Goodness 🙂

I took some time over the holidays to plan out my writing year. Using Jamie Raintree’s amazing new Writing and Revision Tracker, I set writing and revision goals for the year, and for each month.

As I mentioned in my last Next chapter update, 2016 will be the year of revision. As I return to the querying process with Initiate of Stone, I realize I want to have some of my other five finished novels revised and edited and ready to go so that I can keep working toward my dream of a traditional deal.

What I did was to add up the current word totals of all my drafts and divided them up according to what I figure will be my productive months. I also estimated what my blogging totals would be per month and add in my NaNo 2016 writing goals.

What that worked out to was 37,550 words of revision each month (except November and December), between five and seven thousand words of blogging each month (except November), and 50k words drafted in November and December (NaNo this year will be book three of the Ascension series I figure it will take me two months to complete the draft).

So this is what January looked like.

JanuaryProgress

And I even took a few days off (!)

The month started with a couple of days devoted to reading through my draft of Apprentice of Wind, and then I set to. I’ll probably have the first run through done within the next couple of weeks, and then I’m probably going to go through it at least one more time.

So at 9,274 words, I wrote 141% of my writing goal and at 69,774 words, I almost doubled my revision goal (186%).

I also revised and sent out two short stories, and heard that another short story is still under consideration from a submission last year. So that’s awesome.

I also sent out IoS packages to open submission periods for a couple of publishers. As of the end of last year, the three Canadian small publishers I’d pitched last fall had either declined or failed to respond.

We’ll see where all of that gets me.

Other excitement

I’ve attended a few events this past month. The first was Last Stop at the Sudbury Theatre Centre, in which a couple of writer friends had their plays in progress workshopped in front of a live audience (us). It was awesome.

Then, I attended a Skype workshop with Barbara Kyle through the Sudbury Writers’ Guild on adding magic and verve to your first thirty pages. Barbara is an excellent presenter and so knowledgeable about her craft. It’s a pleasure to learn from her.

Finally, I attended a lecture by singer/songwriter Steven Page at Laurentian University on ending the stigma around mental illness. He sang a couple of songs from his new album and discussed his struggles with mental illness.

I’m also currently enrolled in two online courses.

First, I couldn’t resist signing up for Story Genius with Lisa Cron and Jennie Nash. It’s based on Lisa’s new book (of the same name) and is eight weeks long. I’m working on my week four submission this weekend. It’s hard (like, it hurts my poor, tender head hard), especially negotiating the day job and health issues Phil and I are facing right now, but I can see how it’s going to improve my ability to write a novel that will hook readers and keep them reading.

Second, I signed up for Jamie Raintree’s Design a writing career you love workshop. I’m trying to keep one foot in the business side of things. Jamie’s an excellent instructor and I always enjoy her courses.

I’ve booked my hotel for both Ad Astra in April and WorldCon in August and am still waiting for the registration information for The Canadian Writers’ Summit to emerge.

So, I guess it’s no wonder I’m under the weather at the moment.

By and large, though, I love my life. The creative part of it anyway 😉

Next week, the CanCon 2015 reportage continues.

Hope your creative endeavours are moving full steam ahead and that you’re all well on your ways to meeting your goals. Feel free to share your trials and triumphs in the comments below.

The Next Chapter