Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 21-27, 2018

Get your informal writerly learnings right here!

K.M. Weiland looks at the words that changed your life and how that helps you discover what made you a writer. Helping Writers Become Authors

Emily Wenstrom shows you how to kickstart 2018 with an author website audit. DIY MFA

Gabriela Pereira interviews Joe Fassler for DIY MFA radio.

Lila Diller lists five types of books writers should read. DIY MFA

Lisa Cron stops by Writers Helping Writers to pose this question: what does your protagonist want before the story starts?

Elizabeth Huergo: woke writing. “… we shouldn’t wait to write and ask questions until we have lost the ability to do both …” Writer Unboxed

Barbara O’Neal explains what writers do in times of trouble. Writer Unboxed

Heather Webb writers about harnessing the kinetic energy of writing—and what happens if you don’t. Writer Unboxed

Jenny Hansen: what kinds of social media posts go viral? Writers in the Storm

Janice Hardy explains the difference between a scene and a sequel. Fiction University

Rachael Stephen shows you how to organize your novel using a bullet journal.

 

Jami Gold: romance and the language of consent.

Oren Ashkenazi lists five good stories that turned creepy. Good points all. Though I enjoyed some of the shows mentioned, it was an eye-opener to realize how deeply ingrained misogyny is. As writers, we should aim higher, strive to do better. Mythcreants

Jane Hirshfield explains how the liminal frees us from the prison of self (excerpted from “writing and the threshold life”). Brainpickings

David James Nicoll is fighting erasure: women SF writers of the 70s, A through F. Tor.com

I’m absolutely devastated by Ursula K. Le Guin’s death. It was to be expected, but, as other authors have pointed out, she could have died at 108 and it still would have felt too soon.

Here are a few of the slew of tributes:

The Handmaid’s Tale season two trailer.

 

Be well until Thursday, my friends!

tipsday2016

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Bidding farewell to 2017

Greetings, all!

K. Tempest Bradford shared something that Catherynne Valente wrote:

“If this were a trilogy, 2016 would be the explosively dramatic establishment of conflict. 2017 would be the lowest point, when all seems lost. And 2018 would be the redemption, the triumph snatched from defeat at the last moment, the victory over darkness. Here’s to 2018.”

As a writer of science fiction and fantasy, this struck me as true. Not real, but true.

Not only has the political situation been depressing (Trump and Brexit), but also continued terror attacks, refugees in the millions, mass shootings, sexual assault and harassment revelations, floods, fire, hurricanes, and cyclones … it really feels as if the world is falling apart on all levels.

Even I, as a Canadian, shielded from much of the douche-baggery rampant in the world, have felt the weight of depression more this year that in the several preceding. I’m still struggling with burnout, but I know that I’m in good company. Many of the authors, mostly American, that I follow online have expressed similar sentiments, though for different, and many more dire, reasons.

John Scalzi has had to slow the pace of his writing to deal. Kameron Hurley has had the medical rug pulled out from under her and is seeking to move to Canada, or at least to some place she doesn’t need to shell out thousands a month for the medication she needs to save her life.

Though Chuck Wendig initially expressed similar sentiments at the beginning of the year, he is also considering a move to another state, where state medical benefits can shore up the deficits in the national plan.

But even in 2017, some good things happened. Another thing I saw this morning was former president Obama’s tweets about some of those events.

Communities struck by tragedy have rallied to support their members. Whistle blowers have spoken out and inspired other victims to do the same. There is hope, even in the midst of the dark tea time of the soul. There can be no shadow without the light.

Trump hasn’t been half as successful as he says, and although he managed to dismantle the accessible healthcare act and protection for dreamers, his continual public displays of ignorance, misogyny, and other-phobia, combined with the scandals that continue to dog his heels give me hope for the future.

Then again, I (and so many other people) never thought he’d get into office in the first place.

Brexit proceeds, as it must, changing the political and trade landscape of Europe.

Global warming continues to mess with weather patterns creating monster storms, floods, and conditions ideal for wildfires.

Even here, in north eastern (more like central) Ontario we’ve felt the effects. In the last couple of years, we’ve had green Christmases. This year, it looked like the same thing was going to happen. We had a lovely, warm fall, but then the snow arrived on its usual schedule. And then we got hammered by cold temperatures we usually don’t see until January or February. New Year’s celebrations across Canada have been cancelled or moved indoors because it’s too cold to ask people to stand outside for very long.

Even Torvi, who I’m convinced has husky in her, who loves to stay outside much longer than her humans can bear to, is doing the cold paw dance and willingly comes inside once her business is done.

But the winter solstice is past and it’s getting lighter a little earlier each day. I have hope that this, too, shall pass.

I have hope that mid-term elections in the States will shift the balance of power in senate and congress.

I have hope that as more people speak out against injustice, the rest of the world will finally listen.

I have hope that we can turn the tide in our dependence of fossil fuels and invest more in renewable energy before it’s too late.

The point is, I have hope. I hope for a lot of things, but I have hope.

In the summer, when I embarked on the Writing Excuses Cruise, I wanted to make a breakthrough of some kind. I’ve been feeling for a couple of year that I’ve been on the cusp of something. I know. I’m a slow learner, I guess. I got my breakthrough, but not in the way I expected.

It took Emma Newman to ask me to look deeper for the source of my prolonged burnout. I immediately felt resistance to the suggestion, which told me it was exactly what I needed to do. I cracked the shell on the cruise, but it’s taken me some time to muck about in the goo within to come to terms.

When I first exposed my tender underbelly to a group of writers, I thought I finally had my past trauma under my thumb. I mistakenly thought that my inner editor, informed by a series of threshold guardian experiences, was the thing I had to conquer.

Yes and no.

I had to overcome the inner editor to believe that my work was good enough to submit. It wasn’t long after that, that I started to get second readings, short list placements, contest wins, and finally, a couple of paid publications. So it was work I had to do.

Then I stalled.

Those threshold guardian experiences instilled in me an instinctive, but wrong-headed, mistrust of editors, critique partners, and generally anyone else in whose hands I might put my words. Though I’ve worked with a few editors, took their advice, and worked to improve my stories, I think part of me has been trying to sabotage my own efforts. The resistance has always been there, the distrust.

So that’s my big goal for 2018. I have a critique group, and I’m going to work it. I’m going to open myself up and see if I can’t make one of my novels into something that agents and editors will like.

So … there it is, out in the world. My big, scary goal for 2018.

Be vulnerable. Get out of my own way.

And hope that everything will turn out for the best in the end.

Have a triumphant 2018, everyone!

Until the New Year, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

Muse-inks

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 1-7, 2017

Here are your informal writerly learnings for the week!

This is October now … and so you know what those of us who do the crazy of NaNoWriMo are doing. Yup. NaNo prep (not to be confused with those other preppers). For the month of October, therefore, I will be posting lots of tasty NaNo prep materials, which can be pretty useful even if you don’t participate 🙂

K.M. Weiland assembles her complete guide to preparing for a successful NaNoWriMo. Helping Writers Become Authors

To help y’all prepare for NaNoWriMo, Janice Hardy’s running a 31 day novel workshop. Here’s the first instalment: brainstorming your idea. Day two: develop your hook. Day three: what’s driving your plot?  Day four: creating your characters. Day five: developing your protagonist. Day six: creating the novel’s conflict. Day seven: developing your antagonist.

Laura Highcove lists the pros and cons of NaNoWriMo. DIY MFA

Rachael Stephen continues preptober with how to be an early bird.


Laura Drake helps you find your perfect critique partner. Writers in the Storm

Kristen Lamb has a little tongue-in-cheek advice for you. Fun is for losers! If you aren’t miserable, you’re doing it wrong! Later in the week Kristen returns with 50 shades of butt-in-gear—the ultimate slacker’s guide to writing success.

Bryn Greenwood: haters gonna hate (but you don’t have to). Writer Unboxed

Writerly wisdom from Donald Maass: the world is inside out. Writer Unboxed

Jo Eberhardt encourages us to write like a girl. Writer Unboxed

Gabriela Pereira interviews Jodi Kendall for DIY MFA radio.

C.S. Lakin visits Writers Helping Writers: what’s the dark night moment all about?

Ari Ashkenazi: five ways David Weber built the Honorverse into an immersive world. Mythcreants

Even John Scalzi is having a challenging writing year. Whatever

Elizabeth Bear wonders, where are all the women? Tor.com

Terri Pous shares 17 bits of word nerd trivia. Buzzfeed

And that be it until Thursday, my writerly friends.

Be well until then!

tipsday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 14-20, 2017

Another tasty batch of informal writerly learnings for you 🙂

K.M. Weiland gracefully admits that she was wrong: eventually, writing does get easier. Helping Writers Become Authors

Later in the week, Kate explains how to take advantage of your four most important characters.

Roz Morris says, if you want to become a writer, social media is a long-term investment for your career. Nail Your Novel

Vaughn Roycroft wonders if you’re destined to write. Writer Unboxed

Dave King wants you to go beyond the first five pages. Writer Unboxed

Annie Neugebauer says, you’re amazing and you can do this! Writer Unboxed

Porter Anderson rounds up some provocative writerly news for Writer Unboxed.

Lisa Cron visits Writers in the Storm to explain how your character’s origin scene is where your story really begins.

Sara Letourneau visits the Writers Helping Writers coaching corner: using real-world locations to ground your story’s setting.

Following up on Sara’s post, Becca Puglisi helps you decide if a writing residency is right for you. Writers Helping Writers

Angela Ackerman makes another entry for the character motivation thesaurus: discovering one’s true self. Writers Helping Writers

Kristen Lamb talks writing process: it ain’t no unicorn hug.

Emily Wenstrom touts the value of an Amazon follow. DIY MFA

Robin Lovett introduces us to the subgenres and varieties of romance. DIY MFA

Gabriela Pereira interviews Jenni Walsh and Bess Cozby on the author/editor relationship. DIY MFA

Chuck Wendig offers a hot, steaming sack of business advice for writers. Hey, blame Victoria (V.E.) Schwab. Terribleminds

Jami Gold tells us what to do when readers don’t believe our stories.

Lesley L. Smith tells you how to put the science in your science fiction. Fiction University

Wendy Laine visits Jami Gold’s blog to discuss diversity and the importance of “Own Voices.”

I told you there’d be more coming on cultural appropriation:

On the good news end of things: crowdfunding campaign raises thousands for Indigenous writers’ award. Marsha Lederman for The Globe and Mail.

Zora Oneill lists eleven words that make more sense when you know their Arabic roots. Mental Floss

Alex Preston explains how print books have trumped ebooks. The Guardian

From dark to dark: yes, women have always written space opera. Judith Tarr for Tor.com.

Sarah Mangiola interviews Grand Master Jane Yolen: write the damn book. The Portalist

Lili Loufbourow: Jessica Jones is a shattering exploration of rape, addiction, and control (originally published in November 2015, but still a fabulous analysis). The Guardian

Charlie Jane Anders analyzes Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2: the most popular movie in America is all about toxic fatherhood. Tor.com

And that’s it until next Tipsday, but be sure to come back for your dose of mental corn-popping inspiration on Thoughty Thursday!

Be well until then, my friends.

tipsday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 28-Sept 3, 2016

We are once again full of the informal writerly learnings.

K.M. Weiland offers six reasons you need to make way more writing mistakes.* Helping writers become authors

Kate returns later in the week with more lessons from the MCU. This time it’s all about backstory, the number one key to relatable characters.

Ollie, as transcribed by his human, James Stack, prefers to frame rejections as declines.* Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm

Regine Ward shares seven common truths that will help writers handle rejection productively. Live, write, thrive

On the other side of the coin, Pamela Hodges shares six ways to let go of past writing and tackle something new. The Write Practice

Kellie McGann: why we write. The Write Practice

Kassandra Lamb offers four ways to add depth to your stories on Jami Gold’s blog.

Gabriela Pereira interviews Delia Ephron on DIYMFA radio. On Friday, Emily Wenstrom shares her top five takeaways from the Writer’s Digest Conference.

Victoria (V.E.) Schwab: this book is broken and other things I tell myself while writing.*

Anna Elliott shares four ways to recapture the joy of writing.* Writer Unboxed

Last week’s Spark in the summer replay was episode 299, which features an author who live-streamed the writing of a book, and an interview with David Mitchell on how Twitter played a role in the creation of his novel, Slade House. Awesomesauce. CBC

Nora Jemisin (N.K. Jemisin): I would just love to write and not have everything turn into a political battle. David Barnett for The New Statesman.

The Library of America will publish Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Complete Orsinia. David Streitfeld for The New York Times. The actual title of the article is misleading, implying that Le Guin is denying that she’s a science fiction author (something of which she’s accused other writers in the past). Not so. She’s tired of the epithet being used as a reason to exclude writers of excellence from the literary canon. As she says, she won’t be pushed out. Kudos!

Locus interviews Kelly Robson.

And then, THIS: On being a late bloomer.* Kelly Robson in Clarkesworld. Really, I want to give this article ALL THE STARS. I think Kelly single-handedly saved me last week.

Christine Schrum: what growing up in sulphur city taught me about beauty.* Latitude 46  We’re still strange children, by the way.

Julie Czerneda posts on The Black Gate about the challenges of living a #rurallife.

Beth Cato explains why we need more trans heroes in genre fiction. The MarySue

A Writing the Other Roundtable: how to stay in your lane.

 

John Scalzi asks some special guests to post about writing the other. Whatever

Jim C. Hines says, don’t look away: how we fight sexual harassment in the science fiction and fantasy community. i09

Jo Walton writes about science fiction, innovation, and continuity. Tor.com

Meir Solovichik gives us some insight into the secret “Jews” of The Hobbit. Carnage and Culture

You have to read this letter Josh Corman wrote when uncomfortable parents asked his school to ban The Handmaid’s Tale. Bookriot

Jessica Stillman reports on more evidence to support the link between reading and empathy. Inc.

Jake Parker: finished, not perfect.*

 

Another brilliant entertainer, gone 😦 i09’s Germaine Lussier revisits five of Gene Wilder’s defining film roles. Note: If the video isn’t in the frame, scroll back to see it.

Shakespeare and performance. Oxford University Press.

 

Outlander has cast Lord John Grey. Entertainment Weekly

Netflix announced that they were renewing Stranger Things on Tuesday last week. On Wednesday, the creators shared this first teaser for season two. They had no idea what was in the pipe, no, they didn’t 😉 Katharine Trendacosta for i09.

Tim Stack has additional details about season two on Entertainment Weekly.

Writers Relief celebrated National Dog Day with pictures of these book-loving hounds.

*posts that comforted me this past week.

I hope you’ve found some comfort here as well 🙂

Have an awesome week until Thursday and then come back to fill up on thoughty!

Creative sustenance. It’s what I’m all about.

Tipsday

The next chapter: August 2016 update

Let me tell you a story 🙂

Dark season

Over the last couple of years, August has been a bad month for me, emotionally speaking.

I’ve been down. Living with depression, if you do it consciously, means that you can see the signs and take action, or not, whatever is most appropriate for your mental health at the time. Trying to barge through rarely works. For me, anyway.

Last year, I was away from home, delivering training, for two and a half weeks in August. I thought London was a lovely city, and I did enjoy myself to the extent I could—I even went shopping (!) and if you know me, you know I hate shopping of any kind with a passion—but it was too far away for me to go home on the weekends, and I had discovered earlier in the year how much more difficult it was for me to write or blog while travelling. So except for curation, I gave over.

Writing on the road isn’t undoable, and I have put on my big girl panties and done it since (I started NaNoWriMo while travelling last year), but, at the time, I was at a low ebb, and sometimes you have to be kind to yourself.

This year, I went to Kansas City for WorldCon and stayed an extra day or so to visit with a friend who’d moved down there several years ago. More on WorldCon in a bit. The bottom line is that health issues and my introvert nature (exacerbated by my emotional low) conspired to rob the trip of some of its joy.

Remembering what had happened last year, I had even planned for the dog-day doldrums. I figured I’d have the first run-through of all my drafted novels done by August (and I did) and that I would need a little break (and I did).

My plan to turn to other projects, though, didn’t work out as well as I’d thought. I worked on some short fiction, made a few submissions (a rejection from one of which was returned within a week), but I never touched the poetry collection or the non-speculative short fiction collection. I just didn’t have the heart.

I journalled, trying to work out what my plan for the rest of the year would look like and trying to find my way back to what is, for me, normal. I also participated in a Nelson Literary Agency workshop on first pages with Angie Hodapp.

Though the initial review of my first five pages wasn’t horrible, I wanted to try something completely different for the revision, see if the advice of the readers would work. It was a spectacular failure, but I learned a lot from the experience.

You really do have to fail to learn, even if it’s painful 🙂

I’m now delving back into Initiate of Stone, working long hand in a notebook. Sometimes you just have to write it out. I find that writing long hand helps give me the time to examine the words and sentences, and get a fresh perspective.

I can now also disclose that I did not succeed with my application to #PitchWars. Reality Bomb was the project I chose for that experience. I didn’t expect to get in this first year of applying, but one pair of mentors, Michael Mammay and Dan Koboldt, was very supportive. They asked for additional materials, a synopsis and first 50 pages.

Our email exchanges in that first week or so were productive and illuminating for me. I now have some great ideas to return to that manuscript with. So, ultimately, #PitchWars was a win.

This brings me to another realization of why this year has been a difficult one for me.

Last year was the year of almost. I got on several long and short lists in contests, had my work set aside for second readings for anthologies, and while it didn’t result in any publications, the nature of the responses was reassuring. I also had a couple of stories accepted into the Sudbury Writers’ Guild anthology, which should be coming out this fall.

This year, with the exception of #PitchWars, has been the year of no. Form rejections all around, whether from querying or from short fiction submissions. Though I have, to some extent, found a way to turn rejection into a positive, when so many pile up, it becomes disheartening.

You begin to question your worth and skill as a writer, to doubt the kind things that have been said about your work (because there are so few of them, relatively speaking, that they must be the flukes, you reason). You begin to look for those opportunities to confirm your negative bias, blow small faux pas into huge incidents. Reasonable lapses in communication become the occasion for self-blame and recrimination.

Fortunately, since my return from Kansas City, I’ve been coming across the most wonderful articles and posts that have given me the encouragement I’ve needed, some of which you’ll see in this week’s curation. Between that, and the long hand work I’ve been doing on IoS, I’m making my way back to the page.

WorldCon

I’d left with the best of intentions and wanted to practice Gabriela Pereira’s method of networking with a number of authors I’d only ever seen online. In the moment, though, I was so nervous, I basically blathered.

I did get to meet and have a couple of nice, brief chats with Mary Robinette Kowal, met Cat Cambo and Foz Meadows at their Literary Beer sessions (informal chats), but otherwise, I just did my usual and took notes in panel discussions.

I was within three feet of George R.R. Martin, but as he was just coming out of the second of two autographing sessions in which fans lined up for the better part of an hour to see him, I just couldn’t bring myself to be that fan. Instead, I smiled, nodded, and moved on without harassing the poor man.

I had gone to the Tor Party with the intention of meeting John Scalzi, but several people seemed to be running interference and by the time I was able to politely make my excuses, Mr. Scalzi was monopolized by other Tor authors and friends. After that, he turned his attention to his beautiful wife and, again, I could not bring myself to interrupt just to say “hi, and thank you for writing wonderful books.”

Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian, or an introvert, or both, but I just couldn’t.

I’m also a total newb and have no clue with regard to what’s appropriate and what’s not in which context.

The Hugo Awards Ceremonies were wonderful, though, and the sad puppies were soundly trounced.

N.K. Jemesin won best novel for The Fifth Season, Nnedi Okorafor won best novella for Binti, Hao Jingfang and Ken Liu (translator) won best novelette for Folding Beijing, and Neil Gaiman (who wasn’t there in person) had a special message for the sad puppies when he won best graphic story for The Sandman: Overture.

Really, you can just go to the Hugo Awards site and check out all the winners. Diversity was the word of the evening.

It was a great event, but at the end, I felt like I needed a vacation to get over my vacation 🙂

I returned home with a whopping case of imposter’s syndrome, though. I’d met and seen and learned from all of these authors, many of whom I read and respect. Who am I, with my two publications in what the Science Fiction Writers Association (SFWA) considers “token” markets, to think that I can get a traditional deal in a market that’s more competitive than ever?

When I confided my doubts to Phil, his response was that print publishing was on its way to extinction and why would I want that, anyway? So not what I needed to hear, but I forgave him instantly. Though he is very supportive of me and my creative calling, he, like most non-writers, will never understand what it’s like to be in my neurotic wee skull.

But, as I said, I’m surfacing now. I have no further conventions I’ve committed to (having used up my budget for such things) and the only challenge I’ve set for myself is to get through another revision of IoS and Apprentice of Wind before I tackle the third novel in the series for NaNoWriMo.

I still want to get back to the poetry collection and the non-speculative short fiction collection, but neither is a big priority for me at the moment.

I’m taking my time with the short fiction. Some of my stories are actually the seeds of novels. I have to set those aside in their own project folders for the future, and then get on with revising and submitting what I have. Who knows? I may even surprise myself and write some more new stories. It has been known to happen.

In the meantime, I’ve applied for my winter leave at work and am crossing my fingers.

Persistent payroll issues may affect my application for another leave with income averaging. Until things are sorted out, the powers that be may recommend against such special considerations. I may have to defer again until next year.

It won’t be the worst thing that’s ever happened, but Phil and I are ready to look for another furry dependent. I need the five weeks for acclimatization and training. We’d rather it be sooner than later, but we’ll be patient if we must.

Having a new puppy in the spring would probably be more convenient (she says, mentally willing leave approval).

And then there are the renovations to consider, but that’s another post. Probably several 😉

The month in writing

August was sparse as far as writing goes. Aside from the blog, from which I took a vacation for WorldCon, the only writing I did was to finish off the one short story I was working on.

AugustProgress

6,451 words on the blog and 901 words on the short story. 7,362 altogether. That’s literally all she wrote.

I didn’t revise a thing. Fortunately, because I met or exceeded my revision goals in every other month so far this year, I’m not that far behind.

I didn’t count the minor revisions I did to the stories I submitted, or any of the journalling or long hand writing I did.

Besides, I wasn’t anticipating (until part way through the year) that I’d return to IoS, so I don’t have a column for that on my spreadsheet. I could make one. I have the skill, but I don’t want to take the time to do it now. Yes. I know. Lazy Mellie.

I’m getting my mojo back. The writing’s the thing.

Science fiction is the literature of ideas. It is the great “what if?” that leads us into the future. Fantasy is the literature of (im)possibility. It longingly wonders “If only . . .” and whispers in our dreams. I write both and I think I’m pretty damned lucky.

And that’s it until next month.

I hope you’re all experiencing great creative breakthroughs and are satisfied with what you’ve done. In the end, that’s all that matters.

Be well!

The Next Chapter

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, September 13-19, 2015

I can barely contain myself! This week’s Writerly Goodness is so . . . GOOD.

So, first Lorraine Devon Wilke publishes this article in The Huffington Post: Dear self-published author, do not write four books a year.

Then all this happened:

Larry Correia dissected and lampooned the article.

Chuck Wendig responded with, Dear any-kind-of-published author: write as much as you want.

And even John Scalzi felt compelled to post, how many books you should write in a year.

</Rant on>It all comes down to the individual. Write as much, or as little, as you want/need to. It was an interesting controversy, however, and worth the read. Wendig mentions the Stephen King article I shared a few weeks ago along with a few others on the topic. Never lose sight of your goals and don’t let stuff like this distract you. Read it and take what you need from it. The rest is noise. Interesting noise, but noise, nonetheless. </Rant off>


K.M. Weiland shares eight paragraph mistakes you may not know you’re making. These are good 🙂

How the poor choice of your character’s goal can kill your novel. Katie’s Friday vlog. Yes, she changed her schedule, like, a month ago, and I’m just getting used to it now . . . Make of that what you will.

Jane Friedman gets back to basics: writing the synopsis.

Bonnie Randall posts on Janice Hardy’s Fiction University about rejection and how to deal with it. I love this, because it’s basically my take on the experience.

Our fractured days: Steven Pressfield offers advice about staying on schedule when life (or other things) happens.

Gwen Hernandez joins Writer Unboxed with this post: Nine (or more) things I love about Scrivener.

Kameron Hurley asks what will you sacrifice and offers a review of The Traitor Baru Cormorant.

Later in the week, Kameron tackled cold publishing equations.

Porter Anderson weighs in on the latest Authors Earnings Report.

Mira Jacob writes about her experience with diversity (or lack thereof) in American publishing for Buzzfeed.

Usually, VSauce would appear on the Thoughty Thursday roundup, but this week, Michael was talking about language, linguistics, and math. IT’S AWESOME!

And the poetry of The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is back. Here are two lovely entires:

This is part of why I stopped at getting my MA (and still, in many ways regret going that far). The shit graduate studies asks you to vomit out in the name of “higher” education. Tickld.

Ursula K. Le Guin speaks to myth, modernism, and why she’s suspicious of the MFA. Salon.

Margaret Atwood waxes political and literary on the topic of our (un)freedom. The Guardian.

Aja Romano of the Daily Dot presents “dreadpunk” as a new subgenre. It seems like good ole Gothic to me. Do we really have to redefine these things? What do you think?

Electric Lit shares this poster about yoga for writers.

Buzzfeed presents 21 signs that prove booksellers are clever 🙂

Dogs and books! Two of my favourite things together! The cute! Bustle.

Eeee! Wasn’t this a tasty week? Yes. I equate writing craft and book porn to consumables 🙂 Nom. Nom. Nom.

See you Thursday!

Tipsday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, August 2-8, 2015

This was the big controversy this week: Homme de Plume (now in convenient hashtag #hommedeplume). One woman author queries using a male name and gets more requests for partials and fulls than when using her name.

Canadian author, Marie Bilodeau responds.

Kameron Hurley offers a reality check on the necessity and nature of writing with a day job.

Then Chuck Wendig posted this: Starving is a terrible condition for making art.

Most common writing mistakes, part 43: Too many exclamation points! K.M. Weiland, Helping writers become authors.

Show, don’t tell, matters in foreshadowing, too. Katie’s Wednesday vlog.

Christine Frazier looks at five kinds of societies for your novel on The Better Novel Project.

Donald Maass discusses how to write about unnameable emotions on Writer Unboxed.

Elizabeth Stephens introduces us to the #weneeddiversebooks hashtag on Writer Unboxed.

Veronica Sicoe writes about how perfectionism is murdering your muse.

Stephen King shares 22 lessons on how to be a great writer on The Business Insider.

John Scalzi shares his creative process on lifehacker.

Catherine Ryan Howard answers the question, how many drafts did you do?

Chris Winkle discusses the process of troubleshooting when you’re stuck. Mythcreants.

Can a virtuous character be interesting? The New York Times.

22 authors, including K.M. Weiland and Roz Morris, share their greatest writing challenges. Become a Writer Today.

A genre takes flight: Science Fiction. The Library Journal. The good news: epic fantasy still sells. The bad news: the dark stuff, not so much . . .

Tor.com shares 20 time travel classics.

Ten Old English insults that could be band names. Anglophenia.

Geekster Ink Shares twenty images of women in practical armour.

Tipsday

The Red Band Deadpool trailer is def NSFW.

Tipsday will be beck next Tuesday with more Writerly Goodness.

Wordsmith Studio Homecoming 2015: What are you reading?

For the best effect, please read the headline of this post with an incredulous tone 😉

WSS Homecoming 2015

1) What are you reading?

Just like I work on multiple project in my writing, I read multiple books, both ebooks and print, cause I kind of have this problem. I can’t stop buying books of any variety (!)

So here’s my current reading list:

  • 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. Although I’m sure it suffers in translation, I’m enjoying this novel immensely.
  • InFusion by Scott Overton. I’m beta reading this SF novel for an author friend. I’ll save my specific feedback for him, but, just so you know, I think it’s great 🙂
  • The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. On finding your calling. It’s kind of serendipitous that I found out about this book back in January.
  • Moon Called by Patricia Briggs. I picked this up last year after seeing Patricia at Ad Astra. I figured I should get off my butt and read it . . .
  • Pain, Porn, and Complicity by Kathleen McConnell. An academic work on SF&F movies and television series. It’s been a while since I dipped my toes in that particular non-fiction pool.
  • Lock In by John Scalzi. I’m listening to this on Audible. Narrated by the inimitable Wil Wheaton.

2) What was your favorite read in the last year (or month, or…)?

My favourite reading of recent recall is A Turn of Light by Julie Czerneda. I rated it five stars, though I haven’t written a proper review. Yet. This is the kind of fantasy novel I love to read. It’s also the kind I write and there were a lot of similarities between Czerneda’s Jenn Nalynn and Ferrathainn Devlin, the protagonist from my WIP. I was enthralled to the end 🙂

3) Do you have a favorite genre?

Yes and no. I favour fantasy novels of any age range, but I also read science fiction, historical fiction, the classics, mysteries, and romance novels (though I must say I haven’t read many of those recently). I try to alternate fiction and non-fiction reading, as well. Again, most on my non-fiction reads tend to be writing craft books, but I also read as a form of research for my various works in progress, and sometimes, stuff that I’m just interested in. I learn something from everything I read, even if I don’t particularly enjoy the book. In other words, I read as a writer.

4) Bend one step further: are there alternative forms of writing or art that you have found inspiring or even dabbled in?

In my “searching” phase of university (the undeclared years) I majored in music and art at different times. Performance anxiety put the brakes on my music career, though I still love to sing. I was summarily drummed out of art class when my professor called me nothing more than an “illustrator.” From time to time, I still sketch, but I’ve honestly never been very good. I’ve sunk all my creativity into my writing for a number of years now. In 2000, I did the crazy, being in between jobs, and auditioned for a Theatre Cambrian production of Hair (Y2K). I sang and danced in that, for what it’s worth 😉

6) Back to your main inspiration: Do you have “mentor” titles for the writing you are working on?

I’ll reframe this in terms of “comps,” or comparative works. As I mentioned above, I learn something from every book I read, so I don’t have any “mentor” titles, per se, though I would identify several novels/authors whose work I aspire to.

  • The above-mentioned Julie Czerneda and her A Turn of Light. I’ve committed to read more by Julie.
  • Juliet Marillier’s Celtic legend inspired Seven Waters series.
  • Guy Gavriel Kay’s novels. Though he writes in a created world, it is based on painstaking historical research. I’m not that dedicated, but I love the stories he writes. He’s actually made me cry in the reading.
  • Sherri S. Tepper. Just anything she writes. I love her ideas. Or should I say lurve?

6) If you didn’t already do this for #4, what music inspires your writing?

Okay, now you’re going crazy. Or you will if I offer up all 963 songs on my iPod (!) Suffice it to say that any music I like is generally something I’ll add to my playlist. I have music from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and the new millennium. I like some pop, a lot of alternative, celtic, and world music. I also have more eclectic selections on CD: The Rites of Spring, Satie’s gymnopedies, The Symphonie Fantastique, Carmina Burana, Gregorian chant, a number of Sequentia recordings (including the Eddas), gamelan music, Tibetan singing bells, shakuhachi flute music . . .

My favourite artists (I’ll pick up just about anything they release):

  • Imogen Heap
  • Tori Amos
  • Sarah Slean
  • Florence + the Machine

7) Have you ever thought of this: what book is your main character reading?

Interesting question. I’ll even answer it.

  • Ferathainn Devlin: Sadly, all of Fer’s reading would be studying for her forthcoming initiation, so all of it would be history, scholarly works on magic, or non-fiction works on herbs and simples, astronomy, and the like.
  • Charlene Kalveras: School textbooks, and, because of what’s happened to her father, true crime.
  • Gerod: Owing to his impoverished upbringing in an environment of medieval feudalism, Gerod doesn’t know how to read. He learns, though.
  • Marushka: She hasn’t had any formal schooling, hopping around the world in a magical hut, so she’s had to teach herself everything. She steals books from libraries and reads omnivorously.

8) Do you have a favorite book, article or magazine for writing advice?

Again, I have several 🙂

  • Writing the 21st Century Novel, Donald Maass. Currently on loan to a member of my critique group. Actually all of Maass’s books have helped me immensely.
  • Any of K.M. Weiland’s writing craft books.
  • Any of Roz Morris’s Nail Your Novel series.
  • And the books that have helped me find my way to the writing life: Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind and Writing Down the Bones; Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write; Heather Sellers’ Page After Page and Chapter After Chapter; Stephen King’s On Writing; Terry Brooks’s Sometimes the Magic Works; Jane Yolen’s Take Joy; and Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Wave in the Mind.

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Alrightie, then!

I’ll have a wee Sundog snippet tomorrow about miscellaneous stuff, ‘cause sometimes you need miscellaneous stuff, you know?

Muse-inks

Saturday night keynote: Jim C. Hines

I’d encountered Jim C. Hines before, on the pages of John Scalzi’s and Chuck Wendig’s blogs.  I was curious about his penchant for cross dressing and why he would write a book about a libromancer.

So, of course, I was eager to find out more about the man.  His Saturday night keynote did not disappoint.  Several people I spoke to reported tearing up not once, but several times during the address.

Did I?  I’ll never tell 😉

As I mentioned, I do not have an eidetic memory.  I couldn’t give you the blow by blow of the speech and truth be told, I was listening to and enjoying it rather than taking notes.  Mea culpa.

Fortunately, I don’t have to. Jim has posted the text and links to a three-part recording of the keynote on his blog: http://www.jimchines.com/2013/10/my-keynote-from-siwc2013/

The essence of Jim’s keynote was that stories matterOur stories matter.  There is a reason we are called to this crazy life of writing.

One anecdote was about a teacher who had a young man in one of her classes.  He refused to read.

She wrote to Jim that she put a copy of his book Goblin Quest on her desk and left it there

Goblin Quest

Goblin Quest

in plain sight.  The student asked about it one day and the teacher said that he probably wouldn’t like it.  The student picked it up and not only read that one, but asked for and read the rest of the books in the series.

The experience of reading Jim’s books changed this young man’s life.  Not bad for a series which features a protagonist with a nose-picking injury 🙂

Jim also wrote a short story for an anthology of humorous fantasy.  Oddly enough, he chose the topic of cancer, but after reading the story, an audience member approached Jim and told him that her father was dying of the same cancer.

She asked for a copy of the story, took it to her father, and the two of them laughed until they cried.  It was cathartic and comforting.

Our stories matter.

Take heart and keep writing.  Your stories matter too.