The next chapter: January 2019 update

Greetings, my wonderful, writerly friends! How has your January gone? This isn’t a throwaway question, I’m sincerely interested. If you want to share, that’s what the comments are for 😉

As I mentioned in my last next chapter update, I’ve set myself some fairly steep goals. Though I didn’t meet all of them, I’m happy to report that I met most of my goals for January.

January in review

I continued drafting Tamisashki, the last of my epic fantasy series. I’d set my goal at 16,802 words (based on 542 words a day, which would allow me to reach my ultimate goal by the end of April). I managed to write 17,554 words, or 104% of my goal. And I did it even giving myself a break on the weekends (boggles).

I don’t expect to be able to continue this pace beyond the end of March, but I’ll keep it up as long as I can.

I only managed 74% of my 5,000-word writing goal on this blog, or 3,696 words. I’m never too distressed about not meeting my blogging goals. In some ways, it depends on how many tasty posts and articles I can curate, and that’s variable.

I did write more than my 2,500-word short fiction goal for the month, but I didn’t finish the piece. Most of the extra words have been shunted into a secondary document, as I started to do the thing I usually do, which is to start building the world and backstory and detail to the point where short would no longer be tenable. What does the reader really need to know? That’s where I have to focus, moving forward. Still, 106% is satisfying.

I met my goal of revising and formatting 31 poems in my collection. I’ve decided to work on the poetry in terms of poems rather than words or pages. Some of my poems are haiku. Others are several pages long (though the lines are short). It’s the most convenient way for me to track my progress in this respect.

Finally, I wrote an 833-word piece for the WarpWorld blog in honor of the launch of the last book in the series.  The theme was “the end,” and I chose to explore writer’s grief. My goal had been to write 750 words for them and so I surpassed that goal, as well, at 111%.

January2019progress

I did start reading one of the pieces posted for critique in my group, but I’m already behind. I’ll find a way to catch up.

In January, I also attended Tracing our Wild Spaces, an exhibition of triptychs (poem, photograph, and painting) put together by Kim Fahner (poems and photos) and Monique Legault (beautiful, photo-realistic paintings). It was held at the Fromagerie on Elgin and will be displayed through February.

Sean Barrette provided musical accompaniment and Kim read her poetry, which will appear in her upcoming poetry collection, These Wings.

Looking forward to February

In February, I hope to draft another 15,176 words on Tamisashki, blog about 4,200 words, work on another 28 poems for the collection, write my next Speculations column for DIY MFA, finish my January short story (get it critiqued and edited, and submitted, somewhere), and write another short story. I might aim for flash, which will be even more of a challenge, given my propensities.

As February is a short month, my goals are, accordingly, smaller. I’m trying to keep things reasonable.

I’m going to keep on with the reading for the one critique and start on another.

I’ve also started the Writing the Other Building Inclusive Worlds course.

Wish me luck 😉

What I’ve been Reading and Watching

I’ve decided to add in a mention of what I’ve been reading and watching during the month. I used to post book reviews and do a periodic post on movies and series. As these posts have fallen by the wayside, I wanted to add something in so that you’d have an idea about what I spend some of my non-writing time doing.

I started my 2019 Goodreads reading challenge with several books in progress. I finished N.K. Jemisin’s The Shadowed Sun (loved), Octavia Butler’s Patternmaster (liked), Marcy Kennedy’s Cursed Wishes (liked), and Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars (loved), before starting in on fresh books in the New Year.

I started in on Patternmaster not realizing that it was the last in Butler’s series. It was the first written, though, so I’ve decided to read the series in the order written. Maybe it was whatever pulled Butler back to the premise again and again until she finally wrote Wild Seed, which is technically the first book in the series, that left me with the feeling that the book was somehow incomplete.

I’ve been wanting to read The Calculating Stars since last summer, when it came out. It’s full of everything that made Hidden Figures great, and more. There are complex characters, loving relationships, and explorations of misogyny and racism in an alternate historical United States in which a meteorite takes out most of the eastern coast, including Washington DC. Loved.

I have since read Sarah Gailey’s River of Teeth (loved), Signe Pike’s The Lost Queen (loved), K.M. Weiland’s 5 Secrets of Story Structure (writing craft, really liked), and Seth Dickinson’s The Traitor Baru Cormorant (liked).

The Lost Queen was a book I discovered through the Kobo Writing Life podcast. They interviewed the author, Signe Pike, and I decided on the strength of that alone to purchase the book. It’s a different take on the legend of Merlin and based in historical research. It was a great historical fantasy and I’ll be looking for the next book in the series.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant was a novel that I picked up on the strength of a recommendation. I generally don’t enjoy reading stories with unreliable narrators. The thing is that Baru isn’t really unreliable. She’s straightforward in her goals all the way along. It’s just that the things that she says at every turning point in the story can be taken multiple ways.

I had to admire Dickinson’s craft in misdirection, but, as a reader, I also resented it. The book is written in a close point of view. The reader is privy to Baru’s thoughts. It is, most often, those thoughts that are misleading. Everything made sense in the climax, but I felt deeply dissatisfied.

I haven’t watched any movies yet in 2019.

In terms of series, I just finished watching the latest season of Outlander. I’m really appreciating the changes that are being made for the television series. In the novels, Brianna and Roger’s respective journeys in getting to the past were given short shrift, of a necessity, because of the focused point of view in the novel. They basically had to tell Claire and Jamie what happened after their arrival. They’ve kept the major events of the novel without getting overly complicated with the cast. Young Ian’s induction into the Mohawk was different in the novel, but the series weaves the threads together more cleanly.

Phil and I were surprised by Titans. Phil has never liked DC. I’ve watched most of the DC series that have come out, but they were never “can’t miss” viewing. Titans was grittier without being emo. I tell ya, Oliver Queen’s brooding is harder to watch than Angel’s ever was 😛

Vikings went off on a tangent when they killed Ragnar. I watched the final season, but, honestly, The Last Kingdom is SO much better.

I’m really enjoying The Rookie. It’s feel-good without being saccharine. Also, Nathan Fillion.

This next season of Star Trek: Discovery is also enjoyable. As is Deadly Class, though it’s so full of bullet plot holes … I’m more looking forward to The Umbrella Academy, in all honestly. Magicians has just started. I know it’s far removed from Grossman’s novels, now, but I’m enjoying it as its own thing. I finally got around to watching The Man in the High Castle. Not too far into it, yet, but I’m enjoying what I’ve seen so far.

I’m watching a bunch of other stuff, too, on TV and on Netflix or Amazon (Good Omens, why can’t you be here NOW?), but not much of it is noteworthy. Riverdale doing the D&D, excuse me, G&G is devil worship/brainwashing thing is so lame I can’t even. The other DC series, which I’m not even going to list, are uniformly meh. I watch Grey’s and Murder, but I could miss them—and not miss them, if you know wheat I mean. The Charmed reboot is ok.

One thing that I’ve noticed about the shows I watch is that I can often figure out what’s going to happen next. I read, and watch, like a writer, analyzing as I go. It’s when I stop analyzing and just get wrapped up in a show that I know it’s good.

And that’s where I’ll leave you for this month.

It’s been a monster post. Thanks for hanging in there.

Here’s a few pics of Torvi.

Until next 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, Feb 11-17, 2018

Happy Friday Eve! Here’s a little something to get the mental corn popping.

Sad stuff first …

Kyle Edwards: the Gerald Stanley verdict is a terrifying blow to reconciliation. McLean’s

Rachel Giese wonders why Colton Boushie’s mother has had to work so hard to prove her son’s humanity? Chatelaine

Tage Rai: the myth that mental illness causes mass shootings. Behavioral Scientist

Max Fisher and Josh Keller examine the reason there are so many mass shootings in the US. The New York Times

Sean Illing interviews Steven Pinker for Vox: the case for optimism.

Katherine Ellen Foley explains why we cringe when someone else embarrasses themselves. It’s all about empathy. Quartzy

Chuck Wendig offers some quick thoughts on managing anxiety. Terribleminds

Emily Hartridge gives us an update on her anxiety and how she deals.

 

SciShow Psych: myths about schizophrenia.

 

SciShow Psych: dissociative identity disorder.

 

How Tim Lomas discovered there are (at least) 14 different kinds of love by analysing the world’s languages. The Conversation

Mireia Movellán Luis profiles the rise and fall of the mighty Minoans. National Geographic

SciShow: thunder snow. We have that up here 😉

 

Katherine Zuckerman thinks that if birds left tracks in the sky, they’d look like these amazing photos by Xavi Bou. National Gerographic

Check out this collection of leaf insects—love the ones that look like little flowers! Daily Motion

The BBC News reports on the fall of a 1,000-year-old tree in Wales.

Zoey Peresman reviews Kate Bush’s The Kick inside on its 40th anniversary. Stereo Gum

Be well until the weekend!

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Jan 14-10, 2018

A few articles to get your mental corn popping.

Not that bad. Katy Kati Kate: momming your ass off

Jennifer Wright: women are afraid men will murder them. Harper’s Bazaar

Suzannah Weiss offers a psychological explanation for why compliments are so embarrassing. The Cut

Kaya Oaks shares what medieval women taught her about being 40. On Being

Judith Graham reveals the secret to keeping your brain sharp as you grow older. It may be simpler than you think. Business Insider

Anika Burgess: the secret paths that led Ireland’s Catholics to forbidden mass. Atlas Obscura

Nikhil Sonnad explains that it’s tea if by sea and cha if by land and why the world has two words for tea. Quartz

Paul Cooper expounds on the timeless allure of ruins. BBC

Jenn M. Jackson: Martin Luther King Jr. was more radical than we remember. Teen Vogue

The extraordinary life of Nikola Tesla. Richard Gunderman for The Smithsonian Magazine.

Is the interbrain a kind of human wifi? IFLS

Bored Panda features photographs from the world’s coldest village.

Monitoring the wildlife overpass on highway 69, March 20, 2017.

 

A close encounter between a fox and a snowy owl. CTV News

Be well until the weekend!

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, March 19-25, 2017

I hope something in this mess gets your mental corn popping 🙂

Pete Mohrbacher has been painting surrealist angels since 2004. I would plaster the house with his work if I could. Angelarium.

Lori Dorn shares a documentary about M.C. Escher. Laughing Squid

Joel Levy shares some vintage photographs of the Toronto Islands. Toronto Guardian

Teodora Zareva: Disney is fulfilling on of Nicola Tesla’s dreams. Big Think

Matt Simon covers the revelation of the crazy-tough water bear’s secret. Wired

Phil Plait reacquaints himself with an old friend that has a new mystery. Is it a planet, or a star? Blastr

Then, a three billion solar mass black hole rockets out of a galaxy at eight billion kilometres and hour. Blastr

Umir Abrar: the big bang isn’t the beginning of our universe—it’s the ending of something else. Physics-Astronomy

Gobblynne provides a great reminder and lovely interpretation of the two wolves mindfulness parable. Vimeo

Tom Jacobs thinks America needs a crash course in critical thinking. I think everyone, everywhere, could use a primer. Pacific Standard

Ever twist yourself into philosophical knots wondering about the nature of reality? That’s okay, Professor Donald H. Hoffman says it probably doesn’t matter because living in a constructed fantasy world is the thing that allows us to survive. Robby Berman for Big Think.

Tori Rodriguez reveals that negative emotions are key to your wellbeing. Scientific American

Lee Suckling lists twelve signs that you may be an extroverted introvert. Stuff

Vicki Hall reports on Clara Hughes’ continuing struggle with mental illness. The National Post

Brian Resnick: if you’re not a morning person, science says you never will be. Vox

Mayim Bialik: girl vs. woman and why language matters.

 

Jim Moodie covers how Shannon Agowissa and Lisa Osawamick are helping to keep Sudbury’s indigenous girls and women safe. The Sudbury Star

Jimmy Thomson reports on the development of new maps that will depict the pre-colonial “Turtle Island” Canada. I’m eager to see these. CBC

Gregory D. Smithers examines the enduring legacy of the Pocahontas myth. The Atlantic

A Medieval abbey trapped by tides and time. Great Big Story

 

I love dance. So you think you can dance is the only reality television I watch. So this hip hop routine by Kyle Hanagami for Ed Sheeran’s “The Shape of You” kind of blew me away.

 

And that was your thoughty for the week.

See you on the weekend for my next chapter update.

Be well until then.

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 12-18, 2017

Time to warm the ole brain pan. There’s mental corn that needs popping.

Arnie Seipel shares the dark origins of Valentine’s Day. NPR

Daniele Cybuskie relates three fairy tale romances in honour of Valentine’s Day. Medievalists.net

Henry Rollins: what side of history do you want to be on? LA Weekly

Mario Livio reports on the discovery of Winston Churchill’s lost essay on alien life. Nature

Tom Hale shares these stunning aquatic vistas by finalists of the underwater photograph of the year competition. IFLS

Cats sailed with the Vikings to conquer the world. Bec Crew for Science Alert.

Katy Evans reports on how dogs and monkeys judge you on how you treat others. IFLS

Do crows have funerals? You betcha. Ask a Mortician

 

Tom Hale encourages you to observe the evidence of evolution in your own body. IFLS

Lesley Alderman: the year of conquering negative thinking. The New York Times

Linda Rodriguez McRobbie reports on the people who never forget and what they’re teaching us about memory. The Guardian

Sarah Knapton: our seas have become a plastic graveyard, but can technology turn the tide? The Telegraph

Google’s “DeepMind” AI understands the benefits of betrayal. Robin Andrews for IFLS.

I admit it. I was #furiouslyhappy to find this list of more than 150 learning resources compiled by Janet Alexandersson for Medium.

Here’s hoping creative connections are being made.

See you on Saturday for more WorldCon 2016 reportage.

Stay strong, be kind, and be well!

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

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, May 10-16, 2015

This week’s a little light on the thoughty, but I hope it will still inspire some writerly ideas.

Thoughts on the creative life and well-being. The Creativity Post.

The Conversation illuminates the connection between bullying and suicide.

Victoria Weldon of the Herald Scotland writes about stamping out sexism in movies and television.

Tess Holliday is the biggest thing to hit modelling. BuzzFeed.

Breathtaking photos from the 2015 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest. Quartz.

This time-lapse video of a thunderstorm supercell is awesome. IFLS.

Scientists discover anti-matter storms on Earth. IFLS.

I shared this lovely video about our solar system being a vortex. Then, it was pointed out to me that it’s a crap theory. So disappointed.

Fearful memories haunt mouse descendants. Nature.

And now for a little fun from from Tumblr: Before and after pictures of pets with their favourite toys.

Come back on Saturday for more Ad Astra 2015 reportage.

Thoughty Thursday

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, April 26-May 2, 2015

Finally! Pakistan jails 10 of Malala Yousafzai’s attackers. BBC News.

Jon Krakauer: If you’re not a feminist, then you’re a problem. Penguin Random House’s Medium.

Teachers in the secondary school board are striking right now. Here’s a couple of posts that deal with the issues they’d like to see addressed.

11 ways Finland’s education system shows us that less is more. Filling my Map.

Schools should teach kids to think, not memorize. The documentary Most Likely to Succeed. Gotta watch this. The Huffington Post.

Ok. So, Sudbury was nominated the happiest city in Canada. Here’s 17 things you should know about us 😉 Buzzfeed. (Yes, we made Buzzfeed!)

Studies link social anxiety to empathic ability, high IQ, and sentinel intelligence. Spirit Science and Metaphysics.

The secret weapon that prevents anxiety and depression? It’s not what you think. The Creativity Post.
“When we attempt to divorce ourselves from pain, we end up feeling nothing pleasurable or meaningful at all. When we better understand, tolerate, and harness distressing thoughts and feelings, and become aware of the situations when they are helpful, we become empowered. We gain vitality. We become whole.”

Depression can alter your DNA (!) IFLS.

Veritasium: just knowing about learned helplessness can help you free yourself from its clutches. (Plus a bonus Sudbury tie-in with a mention of the Neutrino Observatory 🙂 )

LifeHack lists 20 signs that you’re succeeding, even if you don’t feel like you are.

Scientists turn pancreatic cancer cells into normal cells. Now . . . how close are they to releasing this treatment? IFLS.

Why are some people left-handed? (I like to say that we’re the only people in our right minds – LOL). IFLS.

Audi makes diesel fuel from water and carbon dioxide. IFLS.

i09 presents seven lesser-known but fascinating Victorian inventors.

A man knocked down a wall in his basement and discovered a hidden underground city. SlipTalk.

Here are the winners of the 2014 Smithsonian photography contest. Amazing and beautiful photos. The Atlantic.

And that’s your thoughty for the week.

Be well.

Thoughty Thursday

La Cloche Spirit: The Equivalent Light

This afternoon, for a creative date, I treated myself to Jon Butler’s exhibit at the Living with Lakes Centre, La Cloche Spirit: The Equivalent Light.  I did some visiting with the photographer and some of my friends from the Sudbury Writers’ Guild, did some Christmas shopping, and generally had a lovely time.

Jon’s exhibit remains at the Living with Lakes Centre through to Friday, November 30, 2012.  Go consume the visuals.  They are eminently tasty 🙂

The photograph that lent its name to the exhibit is, I think, my favourite.  A thick fog rolls over the mountains, pools between them, as the sun rises through clouds, casting a purple strier effect across the sky.  Against the shadows of further mountains, two wisps of fog chase one another, the lead one almost looking as if it has a head.

If I had enough disposable income to blow, I’d be installing the mounting hardware about now and ‘La Cloche Spirit’ would be hanging in my office in short order.

I first heard of Jon a number of years ago, through my SWG friend Vera Constantineau.  She and Jon worked together on an ekphrastic collaboration for the Manitoulin Writers’ Circle’s Cross-Pollination project.   She’s since teamed up with Jon again, and here are the wonderful results.

The two photographs reminded Vera of her family with the right number to reflect her aunts and uncles.  Her poems, entitled “The Boys” and “The Girls” were inspired by Jon’s photography.  “The Girls” has subsequently been published in The Antigonish Review.

Jon does a little of his own ekphrasis too.  In these two photographs, he’s written haiku on birch bark and inserted them into the frame.

In addition to the framed photographs, art cards are available for purchase, and Ian Tamblyn’s Willisville Mountain CD, also inspired by Jon’s work.

Apparently only a few copies of his coffee table book of photography remain at the Art Gallery of Sudbury, so if you’re in the market for a lovely Christmas gift, hit the AGS before they’re all gone.

It’s well worth your while to visit the exhibit, even if it’s only to gaze longingly at and be inspired by Jon’s beautiful photography.  Of course, you can also visit his web site or find him on Facebook if you want to know more about Jon and his work.

There’s still time if you want an evocative and uniquely northern Christmas gift 🙂