Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 7-13, 2018

Here we are with another week’s worth of informal writerly learnings!

K.M. Weiland shares the five secrets of good storytelling (that writers forget all the time). Helping Writers Become Authors

Janice Hardy points out four reasons readers stopped caring about your story. Later in the week, Janice returns with, do your characters have the right flaws? Fiction University

Colleen M. Story shares the one technique you need to nail your writing goals. Writers in the Storm

Orly Konig: confessions of a workshop flunkie. Writers in the Storm

Julie Glover responds to Fae Rowan’s voracious reader post of last week. Slow: meandering reader ahead. Writers in the Storm

Jenna Moreci shares her recommendations for writing resolutions.

 

Sacha Black offers some advice on owning your writing career in 2018. Writers Helping Writers

Lisa Hall-Wilson stops by Writers Helping Writers to help us write characters with PTSD.

Sara Letourneau explores the theme of legacy in Station Eleven. DIY MFA

My latest column at DIY MFA was also up last week 🙂 Speculating your future: five steps to FIT goals.

Dawn Field lists five questions you don’t want your readers to ask. DIY MFA

Gabriela Pereira interviews Joan Dempsey for DIY MFA radio.

Then, Gabriela stops by Writer’s Digest to bust three myths that hinder creativity.

Juliet Marillier: a new year for writers. Writer Unboxed

Julie Carrick Dalton shares what she learned about writing a dual timeline novel. Writer Unboxed

Jami Gold explains how to tap into strong emotion through memory.

Kristen Lamb says, the publishing cold war is ending.

Autocrit lists five idioms with unexpected origins.

Porter Anderson explores Teos and Finland’s endless forest.

Janice Bradbeer tells the tale of science fiction author Judith Merril and the very real story of Toronto’s spaced-out library. The Toronto Star

Mehera Bonner takes us inside The Handmaid’s Tale’s sophomore season. Marie Claire

Be well until Thursday!

tipsday2016

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Muse-inks: A week in this writer’s life

The beginning of 2018 is proving to be a challenge.

At my day job, were heading into a busy quarter. Training and monitoring and an in-person team learning event.

The medical procedure I’ve been waiting for since last March has finally been scheduled for the week after next.

Torvi continues to improve, but she’s still a (32 pound!) puppy and Phil and I and my mom, who watches Torvi weekdays while we work, have had our hands full. We’re still getting used to the continual disruptions life with a puppy requires.

Since I’m twelve years older than I was the last time I did this, I find I’m exhausted. It’s worth it, but I wish I could catch up on my sleep. Maybe when Torvi’s older.

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For now, as she closes in on four months, the shepherd in her is coming out, personality-wise as well as physically. Her head, shoulders, legs and paws are still super-soft. I just want to cuddle her ALL the time. When she’s not biting me *sigh*

Four out of five people in my critique group are in the process of moving and so the start of that new adventure will be delayed.

And that’s about it for the week.

Bed’s calling.

Until Tuesday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories 🙂

Muse-inks

The next chapter: December 2017 update and year in review

Well, hello there, writerly folk!

It’s time for December update and 2017 wrap up post.

December was a decent month. I was still on my self-funded leave until December 13thand initially, I thought I’d be able to write a bit more because Torvi had been with us a few weeks. I thought we’d start to see some improvement in her behaviour and I might be able to manage a thousand words a day.

As I mentioned last week, that lasted all of a day before I realized I wouldn’t be able to manage it. So, I amended my goal to 500 words a day and mostly kept to it. There were just some days when I was too tired, especially after I returned to work.

I wrote 41k words in November and hit the 50k goal just in time for Christmas 🙂 I’m currently closing in on 60k and figure I’ll be drafting Playing with Fire through March this year. In all, I wrote 14,567 words in December on PwF (94% of my 15k goal) and another 5,361 words on this blog, or 88% of my 6,600-word goal.

That’s a total of 19,928 words for the month. Not too shabby considering pup and work and the holidays (which were lovely and quiet—hope yours were too).

No revision happened in December.

DecemberProgress

Overall, 2017 was a strange year. I set my usual ambitious goals at the start of the year and adjusted them as circumstances demanded. Circumstances being my protracted burnout fuelled by depression and anxiety.

Writing-wise, I did fairly well, exceeding some of my goals and falling short of one other.

I finished drafting Wavedancer by the end of February, achieving 106% of my goal for the novel, and the rest of the work on the Ascension series was revision. I made it through all three novels before I left on my grand adventure at the end of July.

I wrote 127% of my short fiction goal, but that story, once again, turned out to be a novel-length idea that will have to be developed in the future. I just can’t seem to think small these days.

On the blog, I wrote 103% of my goal and when it came to PwF, my NaNoWriMo (and after) project for the year, I wrote only 85% of my goal.

I hit 97% of my overall writing goal for the year.

The above-mentioned revisions for the three books in the Ascension series came in at 95% of goal, the revisions for Reality Bomb came in at 85% of goal, and my revisions of short fiction (I did make a few submissions last year) reached 92% of my goal.

My overall revisions met 93% of my goal.

I’m pleased. I had wanted to go through my other novels as well, but, honestly, I wouldn’t have been able to manage.

AnnualProgress2017

This year, I aim to finish drafting PwF. As I’d mentioned in my NaNo recap, I didn’t have a full outline to work with this time around and so, even if we hadn’t adopted Torvi, I don’t think the writing would have gone very smoothly. I finished the main plotline around Fer and Dair and their mission to the dwergen deepholds, but I hadn’t more than a sketchy idea of what any of the other characters would be doing this time around. So, I’m pretty much pantsing those parts of the story.

I’d given some thought to stopping the drafting and finishing the outline, but I decided against it. While it can be a bit frustrating to dive into a piece without a clear idea of where you’re going, there’s something liberating about discovery writing that I don’t want to abandon. Even when I do have an outline, my brain tends to take the story in new (and often better) directions in any case.

After the draft of PwF is finished, I’ll be diving into the next rounds of revision on the whole series. With each novel I write, bits and pieces of the earlier ones have to be adjusted. I develop ideas, settings, and it all has to become one seamless story. The whole thing gets better every time.

As the result of some connections I made during the Writing Excuses cruise, I’m now part of a critique group made up on people from all over the world. Freaky, but in a good way. I’m going to be submitting Reality Bomb to them for review. It’s still rough, but before I get into the hard work of revision on that one, I want feedback on the essentials. Structure, characters, arc, and all that.

I’m not so invested in the story yet that I couldn’t tear it down and start over, if that’s what’s required.

By the time I’m finished with my revisions of the Ascension series as it stands, I should have my critiques and I’ll turn my attention to RB. If things go well, I may have something I can start to query with by the end of the year.

I should have time to devote to getting one more project prepared for the next round of critiques, likely Marushka, before I turn my attention to the final book in the Ascension series, Tamashki, for NaNoWriMo 2018. I’ll spend October working on the outline, which I sincerely hope I’ll get finished this time, and charge into drafting come November first.

And, as in past years, I’ll continue to draft until the story’s done.

While I have made some goals for short fiction, I really don’t know whether or not I’ll have the time or energy to devote to it.

2018WritingAndRevisionGoals

As a result of the big travel expenses of the last couple of years, I’m staying close to home in 2018. I’ll probably attend the Canadian Writers’ Summit in June, and Ad Astra in July.

I’m continuing with my column for DIY MFA as well and will continue to post here when each is released.

And I’m continuing to create the newsletter for the Sudbury Writers’ Guild, though I’m thinking that after this year, I might try to hand the reins over to someone else. It’s not a great burden, but it is time I could be spending on my own writing. I’m continuing to draw in and refocus my energy.

Those are my writerly goals for the year, and I think they’re reasonable. I still may have to adjust them as time passes, though. I see goals as living things. They’re affected by events and other priorities in my life.  I’ll let you know how it all goes in my next chapter updates throughout the year.

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

The Next Chapter

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, 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

Things for which I am thankful in 2017

I know that gratitude is something that’s supposed to be reserved for Thanksgiving, but in this year of political upheaval and general dreck, I wanted to share my list of things for which I am thankful in 2017.

Things have been shifting for me in the past couple of years. I’m not expending as much energy at the day job and trying to focus on what makes me happy, namely, writing and my family.

Accordingly, the first item on my list is: Phil.

Though he may not understand me all the time, Phil has been unfailingly supportive and loving. We really are the best of friends.

I am also grateful for my mom, who, likely because I’ve chosen not to have kids, continues to care for me long after I’ve become an independent adult. Phil and I should be taking care of her, and we do, but moms are moms, ya?

I give thanks for my extended family, Phil’s mom and sister and her husband. We’re a small family up here, but that’s just the right size for us.

I’m thankful for my dearest friends, Margaret, Kim, Yana, Sandy, Sharon, and Stacy. These people have been in my life for a long time and even if we don’t chat often, we do keep in touch and keep each other grounded.

I’m grateful for my job, believe it or not. Having a day job gives me enough disposable income to travel and attend writerly events. It also gives me the opportunity to take self-funded leaves, like the one I just finished. While it’s still a dream of mine to be able to quit and devote my time to my craft, for now, it remains a dream. And I have some great co-workers, many of whom I count among my friends.

I’m thankful for my writing community, locally, and on line. There are so many of you, now, that I can’t list you all. But know that you’ve all contributed to my development as an artist. If I ever do get a novel published, it will be due, in part, to all of you.

I’m very thankful to have had the opportunity to attend the Writing Excuses Baltic Cruise. It really was a transformative event, as I continue to say.

And I’m thankful for Torvi, though she’s driving me a bit mad with her puppy shenanigans at the moment.

TorviGoodGirl

Here she is, doing her best imitation of a good dog 😉 The perspective’s off a bit because of the angle I took the picture at. Her head is still big, proportionally, but not that big …

We weighed her yesterday. She’s 25 pounds and on Tuesday, she’ll be three months old (!)

Phil and I have been ready to welcome a new pup into our lives for about a year. This fall, everything came together like it was kismet. Torvi was meant to be our pup.

And now, all that’s left is to say Merry Christmas. And to those who celebrate other traditions, I hope you have had, or will have, the best of times with family and friends. That’s what this time of year is all about, after all.

Blessings to you all!

Be kind, be well, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

Muse-inks

Muse-Inks: Back to work

This is going to be a short post because I find myself running behind … already.

I returned to work on Thursday. It was a short week. But, as often happens with short weeks, it felt really long.

My mom’s taking care of Torvi while Phil and I go to work. We’re so fortunate to have her support. I think the house would be demolished if we had to leave Torvi alone. Yes, she would be restricted to the kitchen, but still. There’s a lot of stuff she could get into that we just don’t have the cabinet space to put beyond her reach.

I was worried about how Mom would fare. Torvi’s still wilful and bitey. But it worked out.

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I wish she was always this sweet 🙂

We made it through week one.

But I’m still adjusting. I’m trying to get all the work done that I used to and still give Torvi the time she needs.

It’s been a challenge.

This weekend, I sacrificed some time to go shopping and booked a socialization session with Torvi’s cousin Buster (I’ve shared pics of buster before—Phil and I have pup-sat him for Phil’s sister Steph a couple of times).

And we’ve confirmed that Torvi gets car sick. She threw up on me on the way out and on the way back. Good thing Sunday is laundry day.

It’s good to know. We have to plan for this in the future. Particularly on Christmas Day, when we’re heading back out to Steph’s for the holiday feasting. This was the point of our socialization today. We didn’t want disaster on Christmas Day.

Fortunately, Torvi and Buster get along just fine.

This week will be a three day work week. I booked a couple additional days of leave just before Christmas (you’d think I’d planned it!).

Then another three day week after Boxing Day, a four day week after New Year’s Day, and then, full five day work weeks.

It’s a good transition for me and for Torvi.

I’ll keep you informed about how things progress.

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

Muse-inks

Wordstock Sudbury 2017

While I was offline in November, other than pup prep and pup rearing, and NaNoWriMo, I also attended Wordstock Sudbury 2017. It was November 2-4 and I took in several events.

On Thursday, November 2nd, I went to the Femme Poetic Force reading at One Sky.

Dinah Laprairie opened the event on behalf of Wordstock, then yielded the floor to former poet laureate Tom Leduc, who introduced the femme force readers, Tanya Neumeyer, Emily Ursuliak, Kateri Lanthier, and our current poet laureate, Kim Fahner.

Later that evening, I attended a dramatic reading of Kim’s play-in-progress, Sparrows Over Slag.

DramaticReading

For those who don’t know, a dramatic reading is unstaged. The actors stand to read their parts. It’s a stripped down version of the play that acts as part of the workshopping and development process. A play is meant to have an audience and a staged reading can tell the playwright a lot about how well the piece works. Staging is intended to enhance the play, but the words, the dialogue, has to be solid on its own before the rest of the play is built around it.

On Saturday, I attended Merilyn Simonds’ master class on The First Page.

MerilynSimonds

And later on, I attended Nathan Alder’s master class on speculative fiction (sorry, forgot to take a picture).

Overall, it was another successful year for Wordstock. The festival improves each year. There are still a few rough spots, but it bodes well for the future.

Plus a week in this writer’s life

Post-NaNo, I’ve continued to work on Playing with Fire, the fourth in my epic fantasy series. I’ll be working on the draft into the New Year.

Foolishly, I thought I’d be able to continue to write around 1000 words a day while I was still on leave. That resolution lasted for exactly one day before I realised that it would be untenable. Since then, I’ve been writing about 500 words a day, around pup duties.

With regard to the Torvi-beast, Phil and I have been trying to train her to our habits rather than letting our world revolve around her, as it kind of has been for the last few weeks. I have to keep reminding myself that Torvi was six weeks old when we adopted her. We’ve never adopted a pup so young.

Two weeks makes a lot of difference. I’m seeing it. She’s learned a lot in the last weeks. And she’s really good around my mom, who will be taking care of her when I return to work.

She’s sleeping through the night (mostly). She’s pooping outside, but there are still times when she pees inside, mostly when I’m not quick enough to get her out. I’m still her favourite chew toy, but we’re making progress. I’m told that’s the shepherd in her.

Torvi’s a pro at the sit, now, lays down with kib incentive, shakes a paw inadvertently, and walks a block or so most mornings. We’re too indulgent with the pup love for her to get off dependably. That’s brilliant for a ten week old pup. Really.

And she hasn’t actually destroyed anything … yet.

Though I’m back to work next Thursday, I’ve done the best I can at this point. I have to have faith that the work I’ve put in will bear fruit.

I’m going to start scheduling pup play dates in the near future. She’s okay to play with dogs we know have been vaccinated. She’s just prohibited from pet stores and dog parks until she had her full set of vaccinations in March.

I’m exhausted, though. Walking zombie. Our next pup will still be a rescue, but by then, I’ll be old enough that training a pup from scratch will be impossible. She’ll have to be three to six months and house trained.

Still love Torvi insanely and the cuddles are worth the rest of it, but I’m looking forward to catching up on my sleep. Someday.

Than and now 🙂

Speaking of which, it’s time for final outings and bed.

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

Muse-inks