The next chapter: December 2016 update and year in review

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

We’ll get back to that in a few.

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

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

I should have known better.

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

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

decemberprogress

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

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

Not 50k, but not bad at all 🙂

Back to my year-end review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was a lot of fun and another pleasant surprise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, that’s the ticket.

What are my plans for 2017?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Next Chapter

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The next chapter: October and NaNoWriMo 2016 update

I’m baaaa-aack!

Didja miss me?

Let’s just get right to the good stuff.

October

As was the case with September and August before it, October was a month in which I was focused on non-word-count-y stuff.

I finished off my read through and note-taking on Apprentice of Wind and the rest of the time I was making notes in preparation for tackling Wavedancer (book three of the epic fantasy series) as this year’s NaNoWriMo project.

I knew that I’d likely be writing the novel into the New Year. 50k is only half the length of any epic worthy of the name 😉

I had some trepidation, however, as I knew I’d be out of town, training for the day job for the first week of November, and I had Wordstock Sudbury upon my return, the launch of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild anthology, Sudbury Ink, the weekend following, and my own, belated birthday celebration the weekend after that.

And I was only able to use two days of vacation leave in November. Otherwise, I was working.

I fully expected a repeat of 2014, during which I was also working. That year, I didn’t even crack 30k, but I went on to finish the draft over the next months.

So, zero words revised in October, but, amazingly, that still puts me at 96% of my revision goal for the year. Yup. I’m just that awesome 😉

And I have my work cut out for me with regard to some additional amendments to Initiate of Stone (one more run through, methinks), as well as a whole slew of revision notes for AoW. As the series arc progresses, I get further insights into what I’ve already written. It’s all good.

I think, more than anything, it was good to immerse myself in the world and characters of the story. It put me in a good place, mentally, to tackle Wavedancer.

As for the writing done in October, all 7,939 words of it were written on this blog.

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NaNoWriMo 2016

I’m a traditionalist. I work on a new novel each NaNo challenge and, this time, I was tackling a work I knew I wouldn’t complete in November, even if I could achieve the word count necessary for a NaNo win.

As I mentioned, above, I had my doubts I’d even manage that.

As a result, I made some decisions, one of which was, with the exception of the curation posts I had prepared for the first week of November (960 words between the two of them), I wasn’t going to blog.

Working around professional and personal commitments, I fought for my writing time.

Here’s how things shaped up:

While I was out of town, I didn’t even manage a thousand words a day, and I didn’t write one word on the day of Wordstock Sudbury. I was out, manning the book table, participating in a panel on commercial genre fiction (specifically SF&F), attending a book launch, and reading my poetry. It was a full day.

I started to gain ground on the weekend, though, and though there were still a number of days on which I didn’t achieve the average 1,667 words, there were more days on which I wrote 2,000 or more.nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_winner

And . . . drum roll please . . . I reached November 30 with 52,298 words written.

Flailing Kermit arms! Yaaaaaaaa!

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I also don’t hate what I’ve written, not even during those hard slogging early days. That is, in itself, a triumph 😀

I continue to draft at a more reasonable pace. I’m aiming for 500 words a day, and so far (a whole three days in) I’m exceeding that goal.

Other stuff

I received a very kind rejection for one of the short stories I’d submitted to an anthology call earlier in the year.

Phil finished the renovations on the living room. We’re now, very slowly, cleaning up the house and purchasing our new furniture.

My love isn’t getting any younger, and had decided that next year (after a winter of building bookshelves and stocking them) he’s going to renovate the kitchen, bathroom, and side entry.

I’m happy to report that Phil and I are in good health.

The regular blogging schedule will resume, starting with this post. Tipsday and thoughty Thursday will also be returning. Next week, I’ll be moving on with the next session I took notes on at WorldCon.

I tried a new system for my curation posts in October, leading up to NaNo, that I’m going to return to.

In the past, I spent several hours every Sunday, reviewing my social media shares for the week and linking them with a brief framing sentence in my curation drafts in Word. Then, on the day, I’d copy the text into WordPress, format the links, add the picture, post, and then share to my social media accounts.

I’ll still have to do that this week, but now, I’ll be working smarter, not harder.

Every day, I’m going to spend a little time reviewing my posts of the day and copying them into the curation draft in Word. Then, on Sunday, I copy the text into WP, format, add the pictures, and schedule the posts, so that all I have to do on the day of is share it to my various social media accounts.

Much easier.

If I weren’t so paranoid about hackage and losing work, I might choose to draft right in WordPress, but once bitten, and all that 😉

I just thought I’d share in the event that this might make sense for you.

Next month: It will be another double update. I’ll be reviewing December’s progress and 2016 as a whole (goals and other gorgeous stuff). W00t!

Have yourselves a wonderful week.

Until Tipsday!

The Next Chapter

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 23-29, 2016

The informal writerly learnings are here!

Your #NaNoWriMo round up for the week:

Danielle Daniel discusses her memoir, The Dependent, with the ladies of The Social.

Sudbury’s Poet Laureate, Kim Fahner, writes in defense of school libraries. The Republic of Poetry

K.M. Weiland: how to properly motivate your bad guy. Helping Writers Become Authors

Roz Morris shares some thoughts on book marketing. Nail Your Novel

Robin Lovett explains why deadlines are not your worst enemy. DIYMFA

James Scott Bell: writer, this is your job. Kill Zone

Barbara O’Neal explores writing with the knowledge of time. Writer Unboxed

Dan Blank: dealing with a slump. Writer Unboxed

Karen Woodward writes in defense of constraints.

Janice Hardy guest posts on Writers in the Storm: how filtering point of view affects show, don’t tell.

Marcy Kennedy blogs about conflict.

Veronica Sicoe continues her storyworld design series with transportation technologies.

Chris Saylor returns to Marcy Kennedy’s blog with his monthly editorial clarification post: “I could care less.”

Jamie Raintree shares her path to publication (part two!).

Janet Reid addresses the issue of young writers. “Publishing will break your heart. Writing will fill your heart.” Truer words . . .

Joanna Penn interviews Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith on The Creative Penn podcast.

Tamerra Griffen unpacks a situation of academic racism on Buzzfeed: a professor circles the word “hence” on Tiffany Martinez’s paper and notes “This is not your word.” Bonus: here is Tiffany’s response to the incident (linked in the Buzzfeed article).

Foz Meadows explores the relationship between romance and queerness, and the difference between genre and device. Shattersnipe

Meg Elison: if women wrote about men the way men write about women. McSweeney’s

Katherine Langrish explores death in classic fantasy. Seven Miles of Steel Thistles

Sadness. 2016 has taken so many great creators from us. Sheri S. Tepper, 1929-2016.

Award news:

The Governor General’s Award winners announced.

The OAC presents its indigenous arts protocols:

 

Joseph Boyden speaks out for the #WeMatterCampaign

 

Baihley Grandison shares a lovely infographic with untranslatable words from other languages. Writer’s Digest

Rajeev Balasubramanyam states that the Nobel committee got it wrong: Ngugi wa Thiong’o is the writer the world needs now. The Washington Post

Christopher Marlowe will be credited as Shakespeare’s co-author in New Oxford editions of the Henry VI plays. Dalya Alberge for The Guardian.

Connie Verzak considers Tobias Menzies to be the Snape of Outlander. The Daily Record

And that concludes my first and last Tipsday for the month of November.

The next Tipsday will be coming your way on December 6th, after the furor of #NaNoWriMo has subsided.

Be well until then, my writerly friends.

Honour your creative path.

Virtual hugs to the awesomesauce that is you!

tipsday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 16-22, 2016

Just to let you know. I’m participating in #NaNoWriMo this year, but I wasn’t able to take much time off in November. So I’m working. And, I’ll be out of town, training for the day job, for the first week. And I’ll be at Wordstock Sudbury the weekend I get back. And I’ll be helping to launch the SWG anthology, Sudbury Ink. On the weekend of the 12th/13th (the day/date is yet to be determined).

So, it’s going to be a busy month.

As a result, I’m not going to be blogging at all in the month of November. I will be able to complete and schedule the curation posts for the first week (Tipsday on Nov 1st and Thoughty Thursday on Nov 3rd), but, after that, you won’t be seeing another post until December 3rd, when I’ll be doing a double monthly update for October and November.

I just wanted to let you know ahead of time, so you won’t be expecting posts, or wondering where the heck I am.

I’ll be well, and writing 🙂

Your #NaNoWriMo round up for the week:

K.M. Weiland reviews the WriteMind Planner (plus a chance to win!). Helping Writers Become Authors

Janice Hardy guest posts on Kate’s blog: three ways to instantly spot telling.

Chris Winkle shares five ways to hide your foreshadowing. Mythcreants

Vaughn Roycroft suggests the synopsis as a way to revision success. Writer Unboxed

Dave King helps you meet your characters on Writer Unboxed.

Janice Hardy asks, which character is the heart of your story? Fiction University

Writing a series: how much do you need to plan ahead? Jami Gold.

Alex Bloom makes a guest appearance on The Write Practice: what most writers don’t know about screenplay structure.

Steven Pressfield: what works and what doesn’t.

Gail Carriger discusses one of her literary influences, Mercedes Lackey.

Sabaa Tahir picks Patrick Rothfuss’s brain about writing sequels and impostor’s syndrome. Tor.com

Sarah Gailey wants to see more mentally ill women protagonists. Tor.com

Authors share their views on cultural appropriation. The Guardian

Marlon James: why I’m done talking about diversity. Literary Hub

Finally! An infographic that breaks down the big five and their imprints.

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan reports on a gorgeous typeface that drove men mad and sparked a 100-year mystery. Gizmodo

Charles Dickens and profanity. Bryan Kozlowski for The Millions.

Azhar A. Alkazwini documents the influence of the Norman Conquest on the English language. Medievalists.net

Five portmanteau words you want to start using. Sad and Useless

Hephzibah Anderson settles in with The Wide Sargasso Sea, the book that changed Jane Eyre forever. BBC

Looking forward to Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2? Check out this teaser trailer! Brian Raftery for Wired.

Women will direct every episode of Jessica Jones, season 2. Beth Elderkin for i09.

All the best until Thursday 🙂

See you then! *waves*

Tipsday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 9-15, 2016

Another harvest of informal writerly learnings for you 🙂

Moar Wordstock Sudbury 2016 news from Kim Fahner, Sudbury’s Poet Laureate. CBC

Emily Franceschini interviews Danielle Daniel for Our Crater.

This week’s #NaNoWriMo round up:

Eleana Sbokou guest posts on Kate’s blog: seven things you need to know about writing and editing.

Roz Morris provides a blueprint for keeping the reader gripped. Nail Your Novel

Juliette Wade guest posts on Janice Hardy’s Fiction University: backgrounding your world through point of view.

Veronica Sicoe continues her series on storyworld design with this instalment on communication technologies.

Gabriela Pereira interviews Amor Towles for DIYMFA radio: worldbuilding from the inside out.

The book monster, or, when writing gets hard. Kate Moretti on Writer Unboxed.

Allie Larkin writes about finding confidence. Writing Unboxed

David Corbett shares what he learned at the beach this summer. And I have another book for the TBR pile 🙂 Writer Unboxed

Lisa Cron explains where drama really comes from. Writer Unboxed

Orly Konig Lopez gives three reasons quitting is an option, and the one reason you won’t. Bonus: guinea pig pictures! Writers in the Storm

Steven Pressfield reminisces about writing “as if.”

Ok. I just can’t resist Harper Lee Hodges. The four steps cats use to explain how to do something. The Write Practice

Julie Phillips: the fantastic Ursula K. Le Guin. The New Yorker

Jamie Raintree shares her story: from agent to publisher, part 1.

Why is it so difficult to get an agent? Liza Dawson Associates

Kristen Lamb explains why we need a synopsis before we write the book.

Catherine Ryan Howard explores her hate/love relationship with writers’ workshops.

Susan Spann helps us understand advances in publishing deals. Writers in the Storm

Adrienne Raphel: a history of punctuation for the internet age. The New Yorker

Four writers share their stories about the search for happiness. The Telegraph

Claire Kirch reports on We Need Diverse Books new curated reading app. Publishers Weekly

The publishing industry risks becoming irrelevant. Tom Welson of Penguin Random House UK. The Guardian

Here’s a lovely bit of storytelling for you. Dia de los muertos from Film School Shorts.

 

And another  video on the role of geometry in visual storytelling. Now you see it

 

The indigenous science fiction film, Northlander, will be screened across Canada. CBC

Kameron Hurley digs into the first couple of episodes of Westworld.

Alex Cranz reviews the season premiere of Supergirl. i09

James Whitbrook says that DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is trying to be Doctor Who with superheroes, and that’s just fine by him. i09

Clara and Eleven were a couple. What we’ve all known, finally confirmed. Caitlin Busch for Inverse.

Katharine Trendacosta reviews the first Iron Fist footage from NYCC. i09

And The Nerdist shares the Iron Fist trailer.

Katharine Trendacosta shares what she learned about The Dark Tower trailer (leaked). i09

The Outlander, season two, gag reel 😀

 

I hope that you find some news you can use to help improve your craft.

All the best.

See you Thursday!

Tipsday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 2-8, 2016

This week was just yummy 🙂

The Wordstock Sudbury 2016 schedule is up 🙂

Prism International interviews George Elliott Clarke, one of our Wordstock guests of honour.

Your #NaNoWriMo prep posts for the week:

Nina Amir guest posts on K.M. Weiland’s Helping writers become authors: how to get up close with your characters.

Chris Saylor guest posts on Marcy Kennedy’s blog: how to punctuate dialogue.

Roz Morris shares her insights on how to write emotions. Nail your novel

Donald Maass looks at four kinds of pace. Writer Unboxed

Joanna Penn: how to find and capture ideas for your novel. The Creative Penn

Janice Hardy guest posts on Writer Unboxed: a ten step guide to plotting a practice novel.

Therese Walsh explores dehumanization in fiction using one of my favourite movies, The Shawshank Redemption. Writer Unboxed

Cathy Yardley: just say yes. Writer Unboxed

Chris Winkle thinks the surprise kiss must go. Why? It’s a matter of consent. Mythcreants

Chuck Wendig offers some good writing (and life) advice: control what you can control. Terribleminds

Later in the week, he shares ten quick story tips to use or discard at your leisure.

Kameron Hurley shares her experience: five years a novelist.

Sarah Waters shares her ten rules of writing fiction. Aerogramme Writing Studio

Last Sunday I spent the day online in a short fiction intensive with Mary Robinette Kowal (!) Here’s one of the resources she shared on critiquing:

 

Carly Watters offers ten ways to personalize your query letter.

Kristen Lamb: what the dreaded synopsis reveals about our writing.

Anna Davis: how to prepare your submission package. Curtis Brown Creative

Awards news!

Ursula K. Le Guin has stopped writing fiction, but we need her more than ever. Zoë Carpenter for The Nation.

When Steven Musil reported that Amazon was cracking down on incentivized reviews, everyone panicked, until it was clarified that this policy change would not apply to ARCs provided for book review purposes. cnet

Sarah Gailey: why we write about witches. Tor.com

Lisa Rosman: what The Girl on the Train is really about. Signature Reads

Angelica Jade Bastièn says the price of fandom can be too high for women of colour. New Republic

Julia Alexander examines sexism in television in the microcosm of Adult Swim. Polygon

Shane Parrish: what you read changes your brain. Medium

If you can correctly pronounce every word in this poem, you speak English better than 90% of English speakers in the world. I must admit, I flubbed two or three <blushes>. The Poke

Ephrat Livni for Quartz: a linguist’s love letter to profanity and why it’s okay to swear in front of kids.

Dark Horse Comics will be producing the next two seasons of The Legend of Korra in print. Rob Bricken for i09. Moar Korra! Eeeeee!

Evan Narcisse talks to Greg Rucka about the reaction to Wonder Woman’s canon bisexuality. i09

Did you see the premiere of Westworld last Sunday? Here are a few pieces about it.

Michael Bennett Cohn looks at Westworld through the lens of the golem story. The Forward

Can Westworld do for science fiction what Game of Thrones did for fantasy? Charlie Jane Anders for Wired.

I’m watching and enjoying it. Phil, not so much, but then, he did see the original movie (which I haven’t) and he just doesn’t see how the writers can turn it into a series and so he’s closed to the possibilities.

Evan Narcisse explores how Luke Cage uses blackness for i09.

Netflix provides a release date (and teaser) for Iron Fist: March 17, 2017.

Outlander casts Marsali and adult Fergus. Entertainment Weekly

The Doctor Who Christmas special features superheroes (!) plus a wee teaser. Katharine Trendacosta for i09.

See you Thursday!

Tipsday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Sept 25-Oct 1, 2016

Yup. Lots of informal writerly learnings for you this week. LOTS!

K.M. Weiland answers reader questions about scenes versus chapters. Helping writers become authors. Later in the week, Kate invites Wordplayer, Usvaldo de Leon, Jr., to share his thoughts on setting up the potential for change in character arcs.

Lisa Cron guest posts on Writers Helping Writers: how your character’s misbelief drives the plot. Later in the week, Angela Ackerman provides this amazing list of resources for writers.

Karen Woodward explores C.S. Lewis’s writing advice.

Jo Eberhardt shares her lessons learned from watching Supernatural. Writer Unboxed

Kristen Lamb shows how Girl on the Train demonstrates the two elements that all great stories share.

Barbara O’Neal responds to the Merritt Tierce article I shared last week: money and the writer. Writer Unboxed

Joanna Penn interviews Toby Neal on The Creative Penn podcast.

 

Janice Hardy guest posts on Writers in the Storm: five reasons your revisions aren’t working.

Erika Robuck has a message for all of us about remembering why we started writing. Writer Unboxed

Steven Pressfield digs deeper into the reasons he writes.

Jami Gold explores how to strengthen your stakes. It’s not always about going big.

Veronica Sicoe discusses story world design and choosing the right time period.

Oren Ashkenazi lists six ways flight changes a fantasy setting. Mythcreants

Bonnie Randall guest posts on Janice Hardy’s Fiction University: on balance versus burn-out.

It’s NaNoWriMo prep season! Joe Bunting shares ten catalysts that will help you win NaNoWriMo. The Write Practice

Catherine McKenzie unpacks the issue of audience limiting covers for books by women authors. Writer Unboxed

More fallout from the Lionel Shriver keynote:

Stephanie Saul reports on how campuses are teaching freshmen about cultural sensitivity and microaggression. The New York Times. This was the kind of thing that Janet Reid ranted about last week.

Liz Dwyer closes the diversity gap in young adult literature. Take part

Tshaka Armstrong discusses Luke Cage, Black Panther, and why superheroes of colour matter. Rotten Tomatoes

Jenny Kay Dupuis shares her grandmother’s residential school story in honour of Orange Shirt Day. CBC

Heidi Ulrichsen interviews Danielle Daniel about her new memoir. Sudbury.com. Later in the week, Danielle was interviewed on CBC Sudbury’s Morning North.

Carl Slaughter of File 770 interviews Kelly Robson.

Haralambi Markov reviews Charlotte Ashley’s body of short fiction. Tor.com

Fran Wilde’s characters aren’t defined by their disabilities. Natalie Zutter for Tor.com.

PW Radio interviews Nisi Shawl on her novel, Everfair, and Writing the Other.

Rachel Cordasco reflects on the Three Body trilogy. Tor.com

Margaret Atwood writes about re-envisioning Shakespeare’s The Tempest in her novel, Hag-Seed. The Guardian

Laura Miller muses on the haunting of Shirley Jackson. Literary Hub

Michelle Fazekas and Tara Butters, the showrunners behind Marvel’s Agent Carter, sell series ideas to various networks, including a series based on Wesley Chu’s Tao series. Deadline

Susan Spann explains when you should walk away from a publishing deal. Writer Unboxed

Ed Nawotka of Publishers Weekly says the publishing world needs more Canada.

Wallace Immen visits the Penguin Random House offices where curling up with a good book is encouraged. The Globe and Mail

Award news! The British Fantasy Award winners announced 🙂

The Scotia Bank Giller Shortlist is announced.

Martha Schabas reviews Hannah Moscovitch’s Bunny and the play’s exploration of the double standard of consent. The Globe and Mail

Tori Amos: Trump is disrespectful to all women. The singer/songwriter talks about her response to Audrie and Daisy, the role of storytelling in her creative process, and accountability. The Daily Beast

And here’s her LA Times piece on the same issues.

Thu-Huong Ha lists 30 words and phrases that will soon be eliminated from American English. Quartz

Author Hannah Kent dives into the Irish world of faith and fantasy. Donna Liu for The Guardian.

John Plotz writes about the influence of Ursula K. Le Guin. The Guardian

Matt Santori-Griffith interviews Greg Rucka on Wonder Woman and queer narrative. Comicosity

Entertainment Weekly shares a fan-made mash-up between Stranger Things and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Awesomesauce 🙂

Anne Perry recommends five Stephen King books you should read if you liked Stranger Things. Hodderscape

Estelle Tang talks to Sam Heughan about sweat, sheep-dipping, and Outlander spoilers. Elle

Lynette Rice of Entertainment Weekly takes a first look at Outlander’s new season. Later in the week, Lynette shares some breaking news on another actor cast for season three.

Film festival audiences say Split may be M. Night Shyamalan’s best movie yet.

 

Whew! I’m exhausted.

See you Thursday!

Tipsday

The next chapter: July 2016 update

So, here we are again at a monthly update. August. Where has the year gone?

One of the great things about tracking your production (and this applies to all things, not just writing) is that you can look back and see the evidence of your work. It’s very comforting.

In addition to wrapping up my work in July this time, I’m going to review the year to date.

July

JulyProgress

This month, I finished my first review of Gerod and the Lions. As with the last couple of novels, I wasn’t twitching as I reread, reacquainted myself with the story, and worked on some of the flow issues I saw. One reason for the flow issues was that GatL was written in chunks, separated by work done on other projects.

Sometimes the gaps were months long, and it shows. I had to get my head back into Gerod’s world and each time I returned to it, it took a few days to recapture the feeling.

The draft comes in at 44,996 words, which is decent for a middle grade book and 124% of my revision goal for the month.

I also continued work on the short story, which I’ll be submitting for consideration soon. 2,615 words written on that.

And, of course, there was the blog, and since I continued to participate in the weekly challenges presented by Gabriela Pereira to her DIYMFA Street Team, I far outblogged my goal.

Between the short story and the blog, I wrote 173% of my goal for July.

I also had the pleasure of guest blogging a couple of times in July, once on Mel’s Madness, and later, on DIYMFA (holy cow!). I have another guest blog due out this month on Kristene Perron’s Warp World blog.

I continued querying.

Year-to-date

Please keep in mind that revision is a very different animal than writing. I’m not writing all these words from scratch. I’m rearranging words, rewriting sentences or paragraphs for flow, inserting or removing punctuation, and making notes for future revisions.

Writing equates to original words.

Month Revision Writing Projects
January 69,774 words 186% of goal 9,274 words 141% of goal Apprentice of Wind, blog
February 40,708 words 108% of goal 5,027 words 90% of goal Apprentice of Wind, blog
March 66,637 words 177% of goal 8,436 words 141% of goal AoW, Figments, Marushka, blog
April 37,478 words 100% of goal 10,498 words 187% of goal Marushka, blog
May 50,882 words 136% of goal 10,474 words 181% of goal Marushka, Reality Bomb, blog
June 48,009 words 128% of goal 12,013 words 207% of goal Reality Bomb, blog
July 46,656 words 124% of goal 11,387 words 173% of goal RB, Gerod and the Lions, short fiction, blog

 Now and the rest of the year

With GatL, I’ve finished reviewing all of my drafted novels. Many of them are still grossly underwritten, but at least I have a better idea now of where I’m going with each.

For August, I just finished up my short story, which I will now revise, and otherwise, the only writing I’m doing is on the blog.

I’ve taken some time off to consider the remainder of the year and what I want to do.

Under consideration are:

  • Assembling a poetry collection (going to submit to a local small press) – August
  • Organizing a collection of my non-SFF short fiction (again, targeted at the small publisher) – August
  • Outlining the third book in my epic fantasy series. I’ve already taken a shot at it, but I know I have to rework it. I’ll do this anyway, because it’s this year’s NaNoWriMo project, but it’s on the list. – concurrent with other projects through to the end of October
  • Returning to Initiate of Stone and AoW, to recapture the voice of the series and bring everything into line in light of the outlining and NaNo for the third book. I want to get to November steeped in the world and its characters. – September and October

Because the third in series is of the epic nature, I expect to be continuing the drafting well into December.

I’m also taking a bit of time to think out how I want to structure my writing year from here on out. Previous to 2016, my focus was on getting the words down. Great, but then I had six novels drafted, only one of which was ready for querying.

This year, I’m focusing on the revision of all those drafts. They won’t be completely ready to go, but I’ll be in a place where I can alternate writing and revision in the coming years.

I want to draft new work twice a year, and then work on revision in between. I don’t know exactly what form that’s going to take (except for NaNo), but I think it’s something I can do.

Other stuff

I’m heading out to WorldCon/MidAmeriCon II on the 17th. It will be my first big con, so I’m super excited. This will be my last convention or conference for the year, though. I’ve blown my budget.

As a result, though, I’m going on a blogging vacay. I’ll schedule my Thoughty Thursday curation for the 18th before I leave, but you won’t hear from me again until I’m back and recovered and ready to resume bloggage on the 27th. Sacrifices have to be made.

I’ve done the crazy and applied for Brenda Drake’s #PitchWars. I’ll find out how that goes on the 25th. Not saying more about it for now.

I’m investigating partnerships with an editor. I want something long term, a professional editor who can help me get my drafts into publishable states.

I signed up for a first five pages workshop with NLA. Again, I’ll leave the deets for later.

And that’s this writer’s life.

Next weekend, I’ll be continuing with my CWS 2016 reportage with my notes from the Writing Hard Truths panel.

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: March 2016 update

In my 2015 year-end update, I said that 2016 would be the year of revision. To this point, I’d only ever revised the one novel, Initiate of Stone. I revised IoS eight times and I recently got a few ideas on how to improve it further as a result of my first run through of Apprentice of Wind.

In the first few days of March, I finished that first review of AoW. I’m going to return to it again, but this time, as I mentioned last month, I’m going to apply what I hope to be improvements to IoS and then move on to AoW.

My idea is to reinforce my voice over the two novels, which is quite different to the other novels I’ve drafted so far. Most of those are in a modern setting. Urban fantasy of various stripes. Though I’ve worked with IoS for so long, when it came to reviewing AoW, because I’d drafted the five other novels in between, I found I’d lost touch with the voice of the series and its characters.

We’ll see how that turns out, later in the year (I hope).

YTDProgress

Year Goals and Totals page

The current draft of AoW stands at 119,590 words. So 120K, which is reasonable for an epic fantasy.

I then moved onto Figments, my YA urban fantasy. It’s considerably shorter, nineteen chapters, and 53,536 words. I know I’ll have to punch that up a bit, but I have a number of ideas to make that happen.

Both of these novels were drafted, let to sit, printed out, read through, mapped, let to sit again, read through again, and then reviewed. I just changed some of the major things, POV, character deletion, consistency over the novels (in the case of AoW), and notes for future revision.

I don’t think I’ll need as many drafts of either AoW or Figments as I needed with IoS to finish them to my satisfaction.

I’m trying something different with Marushka, which I moved on to in the last few days of March.

My revision plan so far has been to review a chapter a day, which was challenging for AoW and Figments, because a number of the chapters of both were several thousand words long. I often found myself up until midnight on a weekday trying to get my work finished before I went to bed.

Marushka was the first novel I drafted using Scrivener and it really changed the way I drafted. The chapters are comparatively tiny (1000 to 1500 words so far) but there are a lot more of them (54).

I didn’t print Marushka out. I didn’t read it through or map it. As I review each chapter, I’m reading it through for the first time and mapping it as I go.

We’ll see if this is more or less productive than printing the draft out, and reading and mapping it out prior to my first run through.

I’m approaching this year of revision as an opportunity to experiment. My process is in continual evolution and, as I learn, from both success and failure, I’m seeing improvement in my process and in my writing overall.

I’m not looking for short cuts as much as efficiencies. I’m not doing any less work, I’m just doing it differently.

Again, we’ll see how it goes.

So here’s how the month breaks down.

MarchProgress

MarchProgress1

Want your own Writing and Revision Tracker? Visit http://jamieraintree.com/writing-revision-tracker

  • AoW – 7,334 words revised
  • Figments – 53,536 words revised
  • Marushka – 4,737 words revised
  • Blog – 8,436 words written.

I achieved 141% of my writing goal and 177% of my revision goal.

At this rate, I’ll finish the first run through on Marushka part way through May and move onto Reality Bomb and finally, Gerod and the Lions. Once I’ve got everything reviewed once, I’m going to take a break (which I tend to need in the summer months) and work on my outline for Mistress of Waves, the third book in my Ascension series and NaNo 2016 project 🙂

Then I’ll get back to deeper revisions until November arrives. I may not be able to conquer more than IoS/AoW. Maybe I make it as far as Figments.

Querying continues. I’ve not devoted much time to short fiction recently, though.

As far as conferences and conventions, I’m hitting Ad Astra (April 29-May 1), The Canadian Writers’ Summit (June 15-19, though I’ll only be attending June 17-19), and WorldCon, AKA MidAmericon II (August 17-21). I have paid my fees and reserved accommodation, but it’s all pending leave approval.

I’m holding my breath until I know it’s approved. Once it is, I’ll be able to book my flight to Kansas City.

My employer asks us to apply for leave every six months. We apply in March for the first half of the fiscal year, April to September, and in September for October through March. Approval is subject to seniority and operational demands (peak seasons).

I should know whether this first round of leave requests has been approved by the end of April.

My plans for fall and winter will have to wait on the approval of the second round of leave in October.

I’ll save those potential plans for a later update.

For the remainder of this month, I’ll be offering some Series discoveries posts (fall season, part two, mid-season follies, and anime) and at least one book review (Jane Ann McLachlan’s second Kia novel, The Salarian Desert Game).

As of Ad Astra, the convention reportage will resume.

So there’s lots of Writerly Goodness to look forward to, and of course, Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday curations will continue through the week.

In the meantime, break a bunch of pencils, you wonderful, creative people.

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: January 2016 update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, onto the Writerly Goodness 🙂

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

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

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

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

So this is what January looked like.

JanuaryProgress

And I even took a few days off (!)

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

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

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

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

We’ll see where all of that gets me.

Other excitement

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

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

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

I’m also currently enrolled in two online courses.

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

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

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

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

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

Next week, the CanCon 2015 reportage continues.

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

The Next Chapter