The next chapter: August 2018 update

Greetings, my writerly peeps!

I won’t say it again. I will not. If you’ve read the last few next chapter updates, you know what I’m resisting writing.

It’s still true, but I think that by this time, it goes without saying.

On to the writing progress report.

AugProgress

Once more, I fell short of my modest 5k writing goal on my current work in progress, Playing with Fire. I did write 3,828 words, or 77% of my goal, but I had some competing priorities that made it both necessary and the best I could do given the circumstances.

One of those priorities was a quick run-through of Marushka, as I broke the monolithic manuscript into chapters for posting online. I’ve just finished this task and will be writing up some further notes for me new critique group. In the process I bumped the word count for the draft up by about a thousand words. Draft 2.5 (‘cause this wasn’t really a true revision in any sense of the word) is now just shy of 78k words and I’m sure I’ll be able to take it into the 80-90k range once I have my critique notes.

So, technically, I revised 65,196 words of my 60k-word goal, or 100%

I also sacrificed some personal reading time to do an initial reading of the draft of another writer in the group. As one does in a critique group 🙂 Critiques were initially due by the end of August, but an extension has been granted. I have the time to so a second reading (at least) and put together some juicy notes.

August saw the recurrence of the due date for my DIY MFA column, which should be out on the 11th. It’s another big one, 1,632 words worth, and 163% of my goal.

Finally, I published 3,235 words on this blog in August, or 116% of my 2,800-word goal.

Overall, it’s been a good month with more hits than misses.

In September, I’ve set myself what I hope to be my final 5,000-word goal on PwF. I shouldn’t need that many words to finish off the draft (yes, I’m that close—so close I can taste it, as my mom would say) but I’ve given myself the “space” in case I need it.

Then, I’m going to organize my novel notes into a true series “bible” and begin outlining the final book in the Ascension series, Tamisashki, for NaNoWriMo 2018.

I’ll get to work on my critique and possibly take on another.

My next DIY MFA due date isn’t until October and so, because this won’t be a writing-heavy month, I’ve decided to take on a couple of learning opportunities, just for shits and giggles.

The first of these is the NaNoWriMo/Wesleyan prep course, offered through Coursera. The cost is nominal, and I get to see what Wesleyan offers.

The second is that I’m formally participating in Rachael Stephen’s Prep-tober this year (are we seeing the theme here?).

Writing is and always has been my happy place and that’s where I’m “spending” my creative energies.

Other aspects of my life are still in strange limbo-land, but there is hope/an ending in sight.

In other news, here are some Torvi pictures:

And my attempts at sunrise/sunset/moon pictures:

I’m no professional and all I’ve used here was the camera in my cell phone, but I thought I captured some lovely moments.

And that’s it for this month’s next chapter update.

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

The Next Chapter

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, July 15-21, 2018

And here we are in the land of Friday Eve. Have some thoughty to see you through to the weekend.

Ephrat Livni says, look up at the moon every night, not just when there’s a lunar eclipse. Quartz

Rhett Allain presents a comprehensive guide to the physics of running on the moon. Wired

Ryan F. Mandelbaum: cosmic ray mystery finally solved by supermassive black hole emitting ultra-high-energy cosmic rays directly at Earth. The supermassive black hole is called a blazar. So cool. Gizmodo

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry recommends evacuations near the French River. CTV Northern Ontario

The Parry Sound 33 forest fire grows to 1,900 hectares and jumps the Key River. The Northern Life

Eric Barker says that the secret to loving your life is … amor fati. The Week

Laura Beil: the brain may clean out Alzheimer’s plaques during sleep. Yet another reason to get a quality night’s sleep. Science News

Kate Snow and Jon Schuppe: how a small forensics company is cracking years-old cold cases. NBC News

Jennifer Dixon: dead bodies, wild dogs, and squatters in government-owned Detroit houses. USA Today

Lynn Freehill-Maye profiles Daniel Toole, who finds the untapped potential of alleys. CityLab

Ze Frank – true facts about the sea pig (from 2013, but they’re all hysterical)

 

And more true facts, this time about the tarsier.

 

Until next week, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, April 15-21, 2018

Here are a few items to get your mental corn popping.

Cara Giaimo shares everything we know about birds that glow. Atlas Obscura

The Los Angeles Times editorial board says it’s time to phase out all single-use plastics.

David Costanza begs, can we please stop talking about generations as if they’re a thing? Slate

I didn’t know where to put this, really. Megan Senseney reviews the history of the spite house. Seems like an expensive way to get revenge to me. Urbo

Steven Silver offers an Apple crime roundup. Find out, among other things, how an Apple watch helped solve a murder. Writer fuel? You betcha! Apple Insider

Clive Irving lauds how veteran fighter pilot Tammy Jo Shults saved crippled Southwest flight 1380. The Daily Beast

Kyra Gaunt: how the jump rope got its rhythm. TED Talks

Artful science: Imogen Heap sings salt shapes.

 

And check out this beautiful moon Saturn occultation.

 

Inverse: Your Brain on Social Media. It’s not all bad …

 

Watch out, Grumpy Cat. Loki’s here to steal your throne. Vaiva Vareikaite for Bored Panda.

I hope you got some great ideas from this week’s batch of thought 🙂

Be well until next Tipsday!

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, April 8-14, 2018

Here are a few links to get your mental corn popping!

Alana Ketler: doctors explain how hiking changes our brains. Collective Evolution

Krista Langlois: why scientists are starting to care about cultures that talk to whales. Smithsonian Magazine

Patricia Emonds: these twins, one black and one white, will make you rethink race. I know NG has received a lot of “too little, too late” criticism about this issue, but the article is interesting. National Geographic

Watch NASA’s 4K tour of the moon. Goddard Observatory

 

And, because Jupiter, an infrared fly by of Jupiter’s north Pole. NASA

 

Florence + The Machine – Sky full of song.

 

I hope you have a grand Friday and a fabulous weekend.

Be well until next Tipsday!

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, June 11-17, 2017

It’s time to get your mental corn popping!

Leonard Sumner: I know you’re sorry. CBC

Ivan Semeniuk charts Canada’s troubled waters. The Globe and Mail

Douglas Fox: Antarctica is melting and giant ice cracks are just the start. National Geographic

Simon Lock explains the new theory of how the moon formed. Scientific American

ASAP Science wonders if binge watching is good for you …

 

Ryan Kost covers one family’s experience with their transgender child: finding himself. An excellent and honest portrayal. The San Francisco Chronicle

Kerri Anne Renzulli looks at how different generations view youth and age. Money

Clementine Morrigan shares three thoughts on emotional labour. Guts Magazine

Kerin Higa interviews Michael Gazzaniga on his split brain research and what he’s discovered. NPR

Timothy Morton is the philosopher prophet of the Anthropocene. Alex Blasdel for The Guardian.

An Aztec temple emerges in the heart of Mexico City. The New York Times

Archaeologists in northern Iceland discover Viking age chief buried in his ship with his sword and his dog. (That’s how this shield maiden would like to go …) Iceland Magazine

Veterinary technician Kelsey Beth Carpenter lists five things you should know before euthanizing your dog (number one is it’s okay to cry). Pup Journal

Sad and Useless (but so darned cute) presents first world cat problems.

Be well until next Tipsday. I’m off to CanWrite! For the weekend and due to my volunteer obligations, I will not be blogging.

Have a great weekend, all!

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Sept 11-17, 2016

Time to get your mental corn a-poppin’!

Anna Lovind wants you to find the vision that wants to be born through you.

Kristen Lamb takes aim at the fashion industry.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: we should all be feminists. TEDX Euston.

 

Illustrator Rasneth (Razzy) shows bros why everyone needs feminism. Bust

Daphne Patai: how diversity came to mean “downgrading the west.” Minding the Campus

Throat singer Tanya Tagaq combats indigenous stereotypes. Liz Przybylski for KCET.

Exorbitant food prices on the James Bay coast mean that children are going hungry. Olivia Stefanovich for CBC.

The Irena Sendler story.

 

Sweden is officially moving to a six-hour work day.

 

The wreckage of Sir John Franklin’s HMS Terror may have been found. Garrett Hinchey for CBC.

Phil Plait features Xkcd’s latest comic on global warming. Slate

Anna Nowogrodzki shares a first glimpse of a black hole being born from a star’s remains. New Scientist

Ria Misra reports on new evidence that points to a different theory for the moon’s formation. Gizmodo

The Martian landscape looks like Utah. Phil Plait for Slate.

Wasn’t sure where to put this . . . creepy. David Brown reports on the discovery of a skeleton that points to cannibalism in the Jamestown colony. The Washington Post

Photographer, Lorenzo Montezemolo, takes enchanting long exposure shots of fog over California. My Modern Met

Elyse Wanshel lists ten ways dogs show they love you. The Little Things

Hugs and stuff, ‘cause you’re all grand, you are!

See you Saturday for some movie madness and some series discoveries (midseason follies).

Thoughty Thursday

CanCon 2015, day 3: Whither and how the human exploration of the solar system?

Mini disclaimer: These are my notes and may contain errors. Got corrections? Email: melanie (dot) marttila (at) gmail (dot) com

Panellists: Trevor Quachri, Wolfram Lunscher, Eric Choi

SpaceExplorationPanel

TQ: What do you think would be the most promising method of space travel for the exploration of the solar system?

WL: Nuclear-powered space travel. Once you’re in space, chemical rockets make less sense. NASA has developed a reactor the size of a fridge for interplanetary travel. Financing of the Mars program has been a contentious issue, however, and, for now, the Russians are ahead of the West.

EC: There is a lot of optimism about space travel again. It’s the positive influence of science fiction. Are there negatives to the way fiction portrays space travel?

TQ: Not really. Except, “where’s my rocket pack?” People want access to this technology now. It’s hard to see the destination when the process is so drawn out. We need to encourage science literacy.

WL: 2001: A Space Odyssey shows the way it was supposed to work, the way we thought it would work. There was a lot of optimism. After the moon landing, we were going to establish a presence on the moon in the 70’s and then use that as a step toward Mars, and eventually Jupiter.

EC: Fred Ordway was the advisor for 2001. They showed the use of flat screen monitors and newspads. While we don’t have human exploration of the Jovian system, in terms of the other technology featured in the film, we’ve been there and beyond.

TQ: The human interest aspect is crucial. We lose some of the romance when we compare what’s actually happening with what’s portrayed in science fiction.

WL: Space exploration was a human endeavour in the 50’s ad 60’s. That robots would go first wasn’t part of the picture. Arthur C. Clarke followed up on this with the message the monolith transmitted. There was a documentary on Discovery about a manned mission to another planet. The craft was totally automated.

TQ: In some fiction, automated probes are designed to build habitat and biological bodies for scientists, then the scientists’ consciousnesses are transferred into the remote bodies.

WL: They’re looking at similar possibilities for the moon.

EC: In Stephen Baxter’s alternate history Voyage, Kennedy survives and the mission to Mars is accomplished in the 70’s. They swung around Venus. We know more from robotic probes than the characters were able to gather. What are the hurdles we need to overcome to make this kind of vision happen?

TQ: Public interest needs to be sustained over long periods of time. This is the primary challenge. Science fiction is optimistic that we can overcome the obstacles.

WL: The biggest hurdle is money. We have to invest heavily to make the vision a reality. The money spent on The Avengers: Age of Ultron exceeded the cost of the last probe sent to Mars. The money being generated from the space program isn’t being realized in the same amounts as the money being invested into it. The money comes from the government or military, so it becomes politicized. It’s all quid pro quo. We need to build an industrial space infrastructure that will lead to colonization. There are parallels to be drawn to the discovery of the New World.

EC: William Proxmire, a former US senator, created the Golden Fleece Award, and gave it to scientific experiments that he considered to be the biggest wastes of taxpayer money. A number of them resulted in advances, but it just reflects his misunderstanding of science and scientific enquiry. Niven and Clarke both wrote stories about him. Sagan knew that Proxmire was opposed to SETI, but the senator was also concerned with the nuclear arms race. Sagan framed SETI in terms that were attractive to Proxmire and was able to get support for the project.

Q: How do private enterprises figure in?

TQ: Heinlein pre-figured that private industry would be responsible for our exploration of space. The Military-industrial complex worked toward it. Outside of public good, how do they identify the cost effectiveness of their efforts?

WL: What goes out has to come from somewhere. Rocket Ship Galileo was owned by the older brother of one of the characters. Serenity was bought in a junkyard. Elon Musk doesn’t fund Space X entirely out of his own pocket. NASA is his partner. They’ve faced hardship because of rocket explosions. That’s how research and development goes, though. Sometimes experiments fail.

TQ: In the golden age of science fiction, the archetype was the two-fisted astronaut-explorer. Now characters fit into the Elon Musk or Tony Stark archetype.

WL: In Clarke’s Prelude to Space, the mission tot he moon was funded by the last millionaire in England who bequeathed his fortune to the space program. The general belief is that mad scientists working in basements come up with all of the scientific innovations. In reality international teams of scientists do that work.

TQ: It’s a childhood fantasy, though. People have been building rockets in their back yards.

WL: Larry Niven isn’t just an author. He was involved in the Strategic Defence Initiative, the Citizen’s Advisory Council on National Space Policy, and an advocate for the Single-Stage-to-Orbit concept. He’s advised the Department of Homeland Security.

EC: Elon Musk was asked, how does one make a small fortune in space? His answer? You start with a large fortune. He went to Russia and tried to buy a rocket. It was beyond his means and so he started his own company.

WL: The question of security has been raised. What are they afraid of? That we’ll drag everyone to the trailing edge of technology? It’s so expensive because, to this point, most projects have been one-offs. One shuttle. One space station. Or the numbers have been limited. It’s the opposite of manufacturing. We need to think of efficiency and reusability for space exploration to move into the future.

And that was all we had time for.

Fascinating. Thoughty, even 😉

Next week, I’ll be coming to my last report from CanCon 2015. Sunday was not only a short day because of travel, but it was also the day when I had most of my pitches and blue-pencils scheduled.

It’s been fun. I won’t have more convention reportage to share with you until after Ad Astra at the end of April. In the meantime, I’ll fill up Saturdays with movie madness, series discoveries, and next chapter updates. I might even muster a book review. You never know.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, December 6-12, 2015

Here is your Thoughty for the week.

Colin Gautrey writes about women and bullying for Learn to Influence.

48 things women hear in a lifetime that men don’t:

 

The Ross Spiral Curriculum. This is kind of mind-blowing.

Emily Hill explores the world of Maori tattooing, or moko, for Wanderlust.

John Hooper unravels the history of the Etruscans for The Guardian.

Phil Plait shares his video of the moon occulting Venus on Slate. Beautiful.

Watch whales swim under the northern lights on NBC News.

Ethnobeat Irkusk percussion groups plays the Baikal Ice.

 

Story Travelers take a road trip across the UNESCO world heritage sites of Ireland.

 

Disturbed covers Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.” Shivers. Rock ‘n’ Roll World Magazine.

It’s kawaii time!

Animals who think they’re puppies:

 

Hope you enjoyed your edutainment!

See you Saturday for more CanCon 2015 reportage 🙂

Thoughty Thursday

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 8-14, 2015

Ten things that people who love their lives do differently. Higher Perspective.

Twenty beliefs happy people share. Lifehack. My favourite? #17: They comprehend that happiness isn’t everything.

How to live with mystery in a culture obsessed with certainty and definitive answers. Brainpickings.

RSA’s take on Susan Cain’s message on the power of introverts, plus a link to Susan’s TED Talk. Brainpickings.

The neuropsychiatric dimensions of movement disorders in sleep. Psychiatric Times.

The moon as you have never seen it before. NPR.

Veritasium interviews Commander Hadfield.

 

I love Vsauce rambles. It reminds me of being in university, when ideas ping-ponged off one another in my skull and inspired me:

 

What one artist is doing to educate us about everyday harassment (you know, cat-calls and wolf whistles?). UpWorthy.

Lauren Davis presents ten real-life female spies who deserve their own movies. Why not a novel? Giving you ideas with what Thoughty Thursday is all about! i09.

More training isn’t always the answer. Harold Jarche.

These kitsune (foxes) are so kawaii (cute) it’s kawai (scary). Foxes roam freely in the sanctuary of Zao Fox Village. My Modern Met.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe rocks Brainpickings 🙂

Sergei Polunen’s gorgeous interpretation of Hozier’s “Take me to church.” The Huffington Post.

See you again on the weekend!

Thoughty Thursday