Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 3-9, 2015

Gots a bumper crop of Writerly Goodness this week!

Writerly news from the Sudz: Wordstock returns 🙂 The Sudbury Star.

Kristen Nelson shares four negotiating tactics of good agents.

Martin Hill Ortiz presents his analysis of 50 years of bestsellers. It explains a lot about how things have changed. Very interesting. In three parts, with more to come 🙂

Brenda Hiatt shares some interesting stats in her Traditional Publisher Survey. It’s from 2013, but it’s still interesting . . .

Roz Morris explains how to transition from academic writing, business writing, or journalism to fiction.

K.M. Weiland not only explains why unnecessary scenes are bad for your readers, but she also discusses the various types of unnecessary scenes and how to identify them so you can get ‘em outta your novel.

In Katie’s Wednesday vlog, she discusses how minor characters help make for a memorable protagonist.

Stuart Horowitz discusses how to plot without using a formula on Jane Friedman’s blog.

Therese Walsh posts part four of her multitasking series on Writer Unboxed: How to meditate when you’re too busy and why it matters – with Leo Babauta.

Donald Maass guides us through the process of using change to stir the higher emotions of our readers. Writer Unboxed.

In which Chuck Wendig critiques your story (that he hasn’t read). Read this amazing feat of digital prestidigitation and see if he doesn’t manage to do it (curse you, Wendig—you’re too brilliant for me).

Why being a debut author isn’t a dream come true (see the URL title for additional perspective: nipple deep in a mudpit of despair—oh joy). Buzzfeed.

Why your brain loves good storytelling. The Harvard Business Review.

Michael Hyatt discusses the power of persistence in his podcast.

16 modern poets you should read. Brit+Co.

The history of the ampersand:

And . . . the history of the interrobang‽

10 brilliant novels that have one fatal flaw. Charlie Jane Anders for i09.

May SF&F books that everyone will be talking about. i09.

Women in science fiction, a podcast from The New Yorker. Interestingly, I’m currently reading Pain, Porn, and Complicity, which explores some of the same issues. Interesting stuff.

Are our heroines too perfect? i09’s Observation Deck.

How Game of Thrones finally fixed its three weakest characters. Vanity Fair.

Holy cow! Where did all of that come from?

Come back for more curation on Thoughty Thursday where I will feed you interesting stuff to get your big squishy (brain) generating ideas 🙂

Tipsday

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, March 15-21, 2015

There’s a whole lot of thoughty going on!

What kind of geek is Delilah S. Dawson? The kind that has to defend herself far too often.

The part of bravery people struggle with most. Michael Hyatt.

Things that introverts would never tell you. Higher Perspective.

Gideon Lichfield of The Atlantic explores the science of near-death experiences (NDEs).

I’ve been curious about trying absinthe since I was that the liquor store was selling it. I checked it out this weekend, though and it’s a little expensive for my taste. Maybe for a special occasion. This article on The Daily Beast on the resurgence of absinthe piques my curiosity, though.

Four reasons you should invest in a standing desk. Michael Hyatt.

Six things you should know about how you learn. The Next Web.

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s new late night television show will premiere April 20! The Verge.

This new Tesla battery has the power to take you off the grid 🙂 Inhabitat.

Since I live in the city, I didn’t get to see these, but apparently it’s been a very good week for aurorae 🙂 CBC.

What colour is the universe? It’s okay to be smart.

 

What your genes can and cannot determine. The Guardian.

How did an Arabic inscribed ring end up in a 9th century Viking grave? i09.

Oppression by omission: The women soldiers of the Civil War. Brainpickings.

Jane Goodall is still wild at heart. The New York Times.

Horses never forget their human friends. NBC news.

Check out this video of killer whales feeding in the Dodd Narrows in BC. CBC.

Fawn rescue:

 

Cookie Monster, life coach:

 

Office cats from AFV:

 

ViralNova wants to fill your cute cup to overflowing with these adorable animals!

I hope you were inspired by some of this edumacation 😀 Edutainment?

See you Saturday!

Thoughty Thursday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the Interwebz March 16-22, 2014

TipsdayAway from home this week and free wifi is slooooow.

I’d just posted about seasonal affective disorder (SAD) myself when Lydia Sharp posted this to Writer Unboxed:
http://writerunboxed.com/2014/03/16/seasonal-writing-disorder/

On the changing role of agents and new submission guidelines from Anne R. Allen’s blog (with the fabulous Pam Van Hylckama Vlieg):
http://annerallen.blogspot.ca/2014/03/the-changing-role-of-literary-agents.html

Part 6 of K.M. Weiland’s Creating Stunning Character Arcs series:
http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/2014/03/character-arcs-6.html

Two from Elissa Field. Is teaching a good day job for a writer? http://elissafield.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/writers-day-job-is-teaching-a-good-day-job-for-writers/ and Friday Links for writers 03.14.14 http://elissafield.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/friday-links-for-writers-03-14-14-quirky-info-sources/

Hey, who says I can’t curate the curators?

And here’s a third for good measure: novel revision strategies: http://elissafield.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/novel-revision-strategy-retyping-the-novel-draft/

The science of emotion in marketing. The article speaks to me more of braiin science and the power of story.
http://blog.bufferapp.com/science-of-emotion-in-marketing

Improve your vocabulary.
http://justenglish.me/2014/03/10/important-infrequently-used-words-to-know/

Stephen King’s top 20 rules for writers, ‘cause you know, we can never break too many of them 😛
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/stephen-kings-top-20-rules-for-writers/

Agent Carly Watters explains what she looks for when she Googles a prospective client.
http://carlywatters.com/2014/03/17/q-what-do-agents-like-to-see-when-they-google-writers/

Roz Morris on the dangers of over-dependence on your thesaurus.
http://nailyournovel.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/bring-on-the-empty-horses-handle-synonyms-with-care/

The neurological similarities between writers and the mentally ill. Get your critical thinking caps on people.
http://thoughtcatalog.com/cody-delistraty/2014/03/the-neurological-similarities-between-successful-writers-and-the-mentally-ill/

5 charts that show how publishing is changing from Jane Friedman.
http://janefriedman.com/2014/03/21/5-valuable-charts/

5 insightful writing tips from Paul Harding.
http://publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/tip-sheet/article/60070-5-writing-tips-paul-harding.html

5 reasons your platform may be spinning its wheels from Michael Hyatt.
http://michaelhyatt.com/traction.html

WOW! Did I find a lot of good stuff on the interwebz last week or what?

That’s the thing with me. Sometimes, I’ll be all over that. Sometimes I won’t. This week, for instance, being on the road, I don’t think will be very productive for the linkage. We shall see.

And this is me, saying goodnight.

A year (and a bit) in the life of Writerly Goodness

This post is one in a series of Anniversary posts for Wordsmith Studio (WSS).

What is WSS, you ask?

It’s a group of people who originally bonded through Robert Lee Brewer’s April Platform Challenge last year and who have gone on to create a community online, not only through our blogs, but also through social media (Facebook, Twitter (#WSchat), LinkedIn, G+, Goodreads, Pinterest (sorry, not a pinner, so no link for the group there), and probably a few other places that I don’t know about yet).

Originally the MNINB Challengers, or Not-Bobbers, we slowly evolved into our own collective.

Part way through the year, a group of fabulous people got together to create the Wordsmith Studio site on WordPress.org.  Since December of last year, a number of members have been blogging regularly on the site as well as on their own blogs.

Others have been attracted to WSS who had nothing to do with the original challenge, and others who participated in the challenge have moved on to other projects.

So now you know, and knowing is half the battle Go Joes! 🙂

Prelude to a kiss challenge

One thing that amazed me was the diversity of people who participated in the challenge.  Some of them had been blogging for years already, or had several blogs.  Others, like myself, were new bloggers.  Others still didn’t start blogging and platform building until Robert’s challenge prompted them to.

I actually started my platform building in September of 2011.  I tried Joomla! first, but found it to be less intuitive than I wanted.  Plus, I was posting a blog more than anything else, and couldn’t figure out the proper way to set a blog up on a Joomla! site.  I wasn’t interested in bothering my techie husband, or in paying someone to sort this out for me, so I looked at other options.

In short order, I found WordPress, and gleefully uploaded the software to my self-hosted domain, labbydog.ca, converting all of my content into proper posts for my blog.

I learned as I went, relying heavily on experts such as Robert, Jane Friedman, and Michael Hyatt and the resources to which they referred me.

Then in February of 2012, disaster struck.  My blog was hacked, and our hosting company insisted in a complete wipe.  RIP labbydog.ca.

After playing around further, I decided, gun-shy and tender creative person that I was, to move to WordPress.com.  On Robert’s advice, I’d purchased my domain name, mapped it to WordPress.com and www.melaniemarttila.ca, A.K.A. Writerly Goodness was born.

At first I was merely attempting to recreate my content and was posting 5-6 days a week.

Enter the dragon challenge

I was already following Robert at the time, and when he announced his April Platform Challenge, I jumped onboard.

For a month, I eagerly awaited my daily dose of platform.  I’d been on Facebook since 2007, and had, as part of my amateur platform building program, already joined Twitter, LinkedIn, and G+, so the days in which the challenge task was to set up accounts on these services I had things a little easier.

It’s a good thing too; otherwise, I’d have fallen waaaay behind.

I learned about having a mission statement for my blog, about using a blogging schedule (doesn’t blogging in this sense sound like a colourful euphemism?  What the blog?  Blogging work!), about calls to action, guest blogs (hosting them and proposing them), interviews, tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite, hashtags and Twitter chats, mailing list, business cards, newsletters, Goodreads and other kinds of social media.

By the end of the month, I verged on the overwhelmed.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

I cut down on the frequency of my posts.  A new position at work meant that I had even less time and energy to spare for my blog if I wanted to keep up with my novel and other creative writing.

Something I’ve learned is that, as a writer, the writing comes first.  Blogging is a part of that, but if I don’t get my stories, poems, and novels written, submitted, and published, the blog is tantamount to an online journal and practically useless for the purpose of promotion or true platform building.

Now I blog on weekends only, and it’s been working for me, which is the most important thing.  I’ve been getting the writing done and have achieved a greater balance between my professional, creative, and personal lives.

I have several new pages, with links to those of my books that are still available for purchase from the publisher, my blogging schedule (such as it is), an invitation for guest bloggers, awards, and so forth.

I’ve started doing interviews with a number of friends, online and in real life, and was surprised but ultimately pleased when a fantasy writer right here in town contacted me out of the blue on my blog to be interviewed.  It speaks to the unexpected impact that blogging has had on my creative life and the community that I am, however back-asswardly, building 🙂

This post will be my 190th, I have 118 followers through WordPress, and publish my posts to 243 friends on Facebook, 412 followers on Twitter, 112 connections on LinkedIn, and 90 people have included me in their G+ circles.

I’ve participated in a few challenges (October submit-o-rama, I ❤ my blog, and the Just write 2013 short story challenge) and a couple of the Goodreads group craft book discussions.

I’ve posted a grand total of once on the WSS site and am currently waiting to hear from Robert regarding a guest blog on My Name is Not Bob.  **Hint: Look in your spam folder, Robert 🙂

It’s a humble beginning, but I remind myself that platforms take years to build and that until I have something more than a couple of old poetry anthologies to shill, that I’m not likely to have a massive following.  Even then, unless I turn out to be the next big thing for real, I’ll probably only see modest growth.

Next

I’ve been threatening to move to WordPress.org for a while now.  I still haven’t found the time to parse my archives and clean up some of my old posts.  I have to rework some of my images too, since in the early days of my blog, I just did a Google search for my images.  I have to find creative commons equivalents, use my own, or remove them entirely.

Nor have I settled on a new hosting company.  The fear of hack still lives in me and I’m admittedly dragging my feet on this one.

I’m also considering a greater involvement in WSS.  The site is still in evolution and I’m not sure what I can commit to.  Want and need are two entirely different things.  Keeping that distinction in mind will help me stay sane.

What I will do is encourage all of you to visit the Wordsmith Studio site, peruse the wonderful diversity of our members’ sites and blogs (photo bloggers, pet bloggers, health bloggers, poets, fiction writers of all genres, non-fiction writers, publishers, and so much more).  A weekly round up of our anniversary blogs will be posted on the Veranda, so please read on.

Also visit My Name is Not Bob to see some of the lessons learned posts from several of the original challengers.

Many of my online friends have had amazing years, some good, some bad, some demoralizing, and some downright inspiring.  Most of them are far more eloquent than I am.

Consider liking, commenting, sharing or subscribing.  They are teh awesome, with a little awesomesauce on the side 🙂

Happy anniversary WSSers!  Love you all, even if I don’t show it often enough.

Caturday Quickies: Other Writerly Goodness to share

In other writerly news

A couple of weeks ago, Mark Leslie contacted me about my submission to his Spooky Sudbury project which will be published through Dundurn Press later this year.  He’s going to include the piece I submitted 🙂

Last week, Sopphey Vance, editor of Enhance Magazine, advised that she was interested in one of my poems.

These were both submissions I had made last fall, while participating in Khara House’s October Submit-O-Rama challenge.  It’s wonderful to know that my efforts are bearing fruit.

On a slight downer, my submission to the League of Canadian Poets’ National Poetry Month Blog has not been accepted.  This is my fault.  I delayed in sending my poem in and they had too many submissions to post everything.  It’s a ‘live and learn’ moment.

Certified and certifiable

I found out the Monday following my return from Chatham, that I passed my certification (yippee!).  I am now a certified trainer through my employer.  This could open up several opportunities for me in coming months.

Also on the work front, my acting position as training coordinator has been extended through to August 31, 2013.  Given the chaos that is my portfolio right now, I’m not so certain that this was a wise move on the part of the powers that be (PTB), but I was happy to accept.

Monday, I’m heading down to Toronto again for a course in writing briefing notes.  This one I’m not facilitating.  Professional development rocks 😉

Platform impasse

WordPress

WordPress (Photo credit: Adriano Gasparri)

I’ve reached the anniversary date of my blog this month and with that have come some challenges that I hope very soon to turn into opportunities.

I have now passed my WordPress follower goal of 100.  I’m currently at 111 and am faced with the challenge of setting up a quarterly newsletter.  I’ve been dragging my heels on this, though, because …

I’m seriously considering migrating to WordPress.org from WordPress.com.  I can’t very well set up a newsletter on my current site and then leave it.

I’ve been reading up on the process of migration/blog set up through WPBeginner and Michael Hyatt.  I’m pretty certain I can make the leap, but I want to parse my posts first.  I need to ensure that my pictures are either my own, or provided courtesy of a commons license.  I want to edit some of my posts too, so that I can make sure that my best foot is put forward.  I know that few if any people will peruse the archives, but I want to be ready of they do.  This is going to take some time.

With the move, I’m also considering a change in theme/appearance.  This also deserves some careful consideration.

Do you have any suggestions for a new theme?  Any and all welcome in the comments below.

Alas, Google Reader, I knew him well

Only days after the announcement that Google Reader would be decommissioned in July, the option disappeared from my more + tab.  Not interested in spending the time trying to find a buried link, I decided to try Feedly.

Feedly Logo and iPhone App Design

Feedly Logo and iPhone App Design (Photo credit: imjustcreative)

So far, so good.  I’d definitely recommend giving it a try.

What I’m working on now

So … I’ve been mentioning for ever that I’m going to submit some more poetry.  I’m now thinking Sulphur will be one of those.  Maybe they’ll like the poem that the League passed on 😉

I’ve been trying to get back into the swing of Initiate of Stone, but since the beginning requires significant rewriting, this has not been easy.  The progress is painfully slow.

I’m having better luck with the short stories and hope to have them completed/revised in advance of their respective dues dates.

Just as a reminder: Writers of the Future closes April 1 and In Places Between April 4.

Recently, I became aware of the Rannu Fund prize.  Bonus: Cory Doctorow is one of the tie-breaking judges.

Conferences

Was looking at the CanWrite! conference this year and it looks quite good.  So good, I’ve just registered 🙂

My other goal is to attend the Surrey International Writers Conference.  Registration isn’t open yet, but I’ll keep watching.  Also, their annual writing contest opens April 1.

So there’s lots of Writerly Goodness going on.

What’s happening in your writerly life?

Caturday Quickies

On virtual homework and the reading of books

Dan Blank of We Grow Media

So here we are in week two of We Grow Media’s Build Your Author Platform course.

Week one was about developing focus, and I think I did pretty well.  As I mentioned a few weeks ago in my post about Michael Hyatt’s Life Plan document, I’ve done a lot of thinking about my life and what I want out of it.  It wasn’t difficult for me to put into words my plans for my creative life.

This week, it’s going to be a little more challenging.  I have to figure out my writerly identity and brand.  I know what I’ve said about myself on this blog and elsewhere, but this week’s assignment will have me digging deeper.

I have this morbid image floating about in my head …  See, a garden spade is pretty sharp, and I can imagine that digging into my tender heart and mind being a bit painful.

One benefit is that my name is pretty unique, and since I’ve bought my domain and all my SoMe is in my name, my blog, Twitter, Facebook account, LinkedIn account, etc. appear at the top of the results in most search engines.  And if my blog isn’t up there, then one of my poetry books, NEOVerse is.  So that’s a win.

I’ll have to let you know how the branding exercises go.  I’m not a tooter of my own horn.  It makes me squirm, actually.  Hence the painfully-sharp-spade-phobia.

On introversion

I’m an introvert, though I work in an industry that has me putting myself “out there” as a trainer.  My friend, Brainy (pseudonym) had this to say about introversion on her blog this week:

Other people in my work environment likely see me as fairly extroverted because I am very outspoken and I address individuals and groups quite confidently when sharing the expertise that I have accumulated in recent years.  I do a lot of online coaching and desktop sharing with collaborative technology but it’s usually one-on-one now.  I can only sustain the energy required for the group stuff once in awhile and with considerable advance preparation.

I can relate.

She also recommends Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.  It’s on my reading list.

What else I’ve been reading lately

Last month, I finished Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games.  I’d had the trilogy since last year when I saw the movie with a couple of friends who had both read the whole series and loved it.  More recently, I was urged to take the plunge for two more reasons: 1) my mom had just read the series and also loved it, and 2) Larry Brooks’s eleven-part analysis of the first book on his Storyfix blog (more on that in a moment).

I too, loved the book.  Having seen the movie, read Brooks’s analysis, and a few other reviews/articles on the novel, I was well aware of the plot and events of the novel.  But spoilers never spoil a book for me.  When I know the major plot points, I only enjoy the book more.  I read to improve my craft.

Collins’s prose is clean, her POV engaging, and her craft extraordinary.  Damned.  Good.  Book.

Mind you, I think I might be the last person on the face of the earth to read The Hunger Games 🙂

Brooks’s analysis of the book also lead me to read his: Story Engineering.  I did get a lot out of his book, but it was despite the author’s ethos.  Brooks comes on a little strong for my liking, and I truly resent having anyone shake a virtual finger at me.

For more of my thoughts on this writing craft book, please check out my review on Goodreads.

Ethos, for those who may not know, is the author’s personality as it comes through in print.

My undergrad was in rhetoric, so I’m pretty adept at reading past ethos.  It’s a good thing too, because Brooks does have some great information to share and I have already implemented some of his lessons.  I do get it.  I’m just not fond of how Brooks got his message out.

Currently, I’m reading Diana Gabaldon’s The Scottish Prisoner, which I’m enjoying quite a bit (though not as much as the main novels in the Outlander series), and A Medieval Miscellany.

Will let you know how all of that goes.

Right now, Writerly Goodness needs a wee bit of rest.  A new work-day awaits!  Egad …

Sick days and life planning

sick

sick (Photo credit: jungmoon)

Today was a sick day.  Now I’m not sick very often.  This was my first since May.  The last time I had a cold was October of 2010.  I remember it well, because it was a doosie, I was delivering training, and I couldn’t take any time off.  Usually, the only “sick” time I take is for doctor’s appointments and tests and the last time I took more than a day off was when I got hit by the car (funny story that, remind me to tell you sometime), or when I had surgery.

This, of course, got me thinking.  To work, and to do your work well, you have to be healthy.

I’m not the epitome of health.  I’m overweight.  I smoke.  I drink on the weekends.  I eat junk food more than I should, and I don’t exercise as much as I should, but I do what I can.  I walk every day.  I generally eat healthy food.  I get enough sleep (though I think I could use more), and I manage stress to the degree that I can.

Still, I have to take the odd sick day.

One of the things that I took the opportunity to do today was to read Michael Hyatt’s “Creating a Life Plan.”  Michael wrote it based on his own experience in life coaching and in cooperation with Building Champions.

Now this experience took me back a few years.  There was a time, a long time ago, that I was in “seeker” mode.  I read Stephen Covey, Anthony Robbins, Elizabeth Hay, and dozens of other books, then classified as “self-help,” in an attempt to straighten out my rather messy life.  I made a personal constitution. I worked out a weekly schedule.  I was going to FIX MY LIFE.

I learned a couple of things in the process.

1. I’m a person of habit rather than a person of plan. 
I am very habitual.  I generally do the same things every day, at the same time.  I’m organized.  I’m disciplined, but write it all down, and I’m useless.  Don’t get me wrong, I make lists of important things I need to remember, and I keep my calendar updated with events and appointments, but I can’t schedule my day to within a minute of its life.  Stuff happens and I’m a creative kind of person.  If I tie myself to a schedule, I inevitably fail to meet some of my obligations, and when it’s in writing, it becomes a permanent testament to my failure.  I’d rather set goals and achieve them, in my own time.  And usually, I get things done before their respective due dates.

2. I’m my own dog.
I think that was an old “Spuds” Mackenzie saying, but I’ve found it to be true.  I generally find my own way, and though I may try everything (at least) once, what works for everyone else doesn’t necessarily work for me.  I let experience inform my life and decision-making process.

Having said all that, there was a lot of value in Michael’s .pdf book.  It reminded me of the things that I’ve done and the progress that I’ve made on a personal level.  Most of what I’ve learned has become internalized.  Frankly, I’ve come to take it for granted.  “Creating a Life Plan” made me aware that I do have a life plan and that I need to be more conscious of it, to honour it, and to ensure that I’m still in tune with it.

It’s important to keep your priorities straight.  This is one of the first steps in creating a life plan: knowing who and what is important to you.

Personally, I prefer the idea of a pool to a hierarchical list.  I know what’s important to me, and more significantly, I know why it’s important.  But life doesn’t often allow for rigid prioritization.  I can’t always put myself ahead of my spouse.  We’re a team, on par.  When my mom needs me, she becomes the priority.  So I’ve identified who and what is important to me and we all float in a pool together.  If I notice someone’s struggling, I toss a life jacket, or at least a pair of water wings.

Once you know what’s important, then you take each item, articulate why it’s important, set a goal for future achievement, describe where you are now, and create a plan to get you to point B from point A.

Finally, you set aside time every week, quarter, and year to review your plan and ensure you’re on track.

I think this last was the most valuable piece I got from Michael’s book, and that’s to make time to review, be conscious of your plan, and to be able to make adjustments as you go.

If you can get your life plan in order, then work becomes a lot easier to manage.  You’ll find you have the flexibility you need to stay on top of your projects and ensure that everything gets done, and done well.

English: Michael S. Hyatt, Thomas Nelson, Inc.

English: Michael S. Hyatt, Thomas Nelson, Inc. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I do recommend “Creating a Life Plan” and Michael’s blog, Intentional Leadership.  He’s got all kinds of good stuff: videos, podcasts, free documents with subscription.  I encourage you to check it out.

In the meantime, I’m heading to bed.  Still not feeling up to snuff and I have to rest up for tomorrow.