Ah, the weather’s already getting cooler. This summer was a good one up in northeastern Ontario. I’m sad to see the shortening days, this year.
Having said that, it’s pumpkin spice latte season!
Your monthly PSAs:
All lives cannot matter until Black, Indigenous, and people of colour lives matter.
Continue to observe public health guidelines (washing hands, maintaining physical distance, masking where you can’t, getting your vaccinations as recommended). Covid is endemic and new variants continue to crop up. Take care of yourselves and the people you love.
Russia’s unprovoked war in the Ukraine continues and continues to be deplorable. It’s been six months and there’s still no end in sight. I stand with the Ukraine.
Reproductive rights are everyone’s fight.
The month in writing
I was all over place in August. Some revision on Reality Bomb, a little short fiction, a little poetry, blogging, a little work on the Ascension series, some review of Alice in Thunderland (my alt-history/steampunk project), and I worked on a beta review as part of an exchange.
In terms of projects I’m tracking, here’s how the month worked out:
For RB, I didn’t put a revision goal up, but my main thrust is to cut 25k words from the last draft while also strengthening the plot and character arc. I didn’t count the days when I cut but noted when I added words. I’m still in the first half of the novel, which doesn’t need a lot of cutting.
I added 626 words but reduced the overall wordcount by just over 200 words. Not bad.
In terms of blogging, my massive July update contributed to achieving 142% of my 5,500-word goal (7818 words).
Short fiction stalled partway through the month after only writing 232 words. That’s 15% of my 1,500-word goal.
I set my poetry goal at 10 poems again and only wrote 8 (80%). I’m trying to turn my hand to capturing my autistic journey in poetry on the recommendation of a friend, but the result isn’t satisfactory. They’re all rather pedestrian. Lists of events, symptoms, reactions. I’ll have to revisit the lot of them at some future time. They’re not coming to life for me. Maybe poetry isn’t the medium for this? I don’t know.
With regard to projects I’m not tracking, I worked a little on the Ascension series master document based on the reading I’d completed to date. Then, I set it aside once other priorities started to take precedence.
I worked on my critique for the author I’d agreed to do a critique exchange with. It’s almost done. I’m hoping to be finished in the next day or so.
And I worked on my OAC grant application (see next section for more on that).
On Friday, August 12, I read an excerpt of “Torvi, Viking Queen” at the launch of Pirating Pups at When Words Collide (WWC). It was a lovely, intimate reading, done virtually. More on WWC in “filling the well.”
I also started my search for an editor/book coach to get RB ready to query. I’m now thinking that I’ll be ready to work with someone in October. There have been emails, intake forms, zoom meetings, and all kinds of administrivia going on around that effort.
I attended the CAA Board orientation on August 22nd. It’s the first time I’ve actually been able to attend one of these. Informative, but intimidating.
And I attended a special general meeting for SFCanada focused on the implementation of a new anti-harassment policy and amendment of the bylaws on August 27th.
Filling the well
I attended an information session from the Ontario Arts Council about applying for grants on Tuesday, August 9th. And … I started working on my application (!) for a literary creation project grant.
On the weekend of August 12 to 14, it was WWC 2022. I actually signed up for a couple of workshops on Thursday and Friday, and watched a few sessions live over the course of the weekend. I’m hoping that this year, more sessions will be made available on their YouTube channel, because there are always 10 sessions going on at the same time, and I can’t attend everything.
I signed up for a CAA/SFCanada webinar on August 17th with the intent of attending but didn’t have the spoons and ended up watching the replay. The session was presented by Den Valdron on publishing contracts, and he sent an impressive array of samples and resources.
Then, I attended a webinar about writing interiority delivered by agent Cece Lyra of PS Literary on the 18th. It was a-MA-zing. I found out about it after starting to listen to “The Shit No One Tells You About Writing” podcast. I think I’m going to watch the recording a few more times before I lose access.
I also signed up for a Mary Robinette Kowal webinar called “Earth’s future climate: a proactive SF approach” with Dr. Tom Wagner on August 23rd.
The next Tiffany Yates Martin webinar hosted by Jane Friedman focused on suspense and tension. It was during the day on August 24th, so I watched the replay.
Finally, Jane Friedman hosted a free roundtable discussion about the Department of Justice-Penguin Random House antitrust trial on the 26th. Again, it was during the day, and I watched the replay.
I also had an appointment with my optometrist and got myself some new (very expensive) glasses. Progressive lenses, anti-glare, and transitions. I’ll probably take a new headshot when I get them so y’all can see.
What I’m watching and reading
In the viewing department, I watched Lightyear (Disney +). It was fun and, as with most Pixar offerings, sentimental. Poor Buzz is so focused on completing his mission, he doesn’t realize he’s failed to live. The reveal of who Zurg is—I’ll leave that to you to find out. A recommended watch.
Then, I rented Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. Oh. My. God. So good. Everyone’s already said all the things about the movie that I could and then some, so I won’t waste your time. Best movie I’ve seen all year. This is one I want to own. Love and google-eyes, y’all.
The Groot shorts on Disney + were cute. I felt sorry for the … squirrel-bird? And the bonsai. And the mimic. And the little whatever-they-were. Admittedly, in the last instance, Groot felt bad about squishing them, too. And he tried to make it up to the bonsai. Emphasis on tried. Just a root-ball ‘o’ chaos, Groot.
I watched the last episode of season 4 of WestWorld on August 14th. The writers’ collective fondness for not letting their audience know when they’re watching continues to be irritating. Everything comes together, eventually, but until it does, the viewer is left feeling confused and stupid.
Dolores is now Christina, who works at a gaming company, writing stories for in-game characters. Her alternate, Charlotte Hale, has now *SPOILERS* created a world in which most people have been infected by what I assume is a technological virus, which makes them subservient to the AIs. There’s a resistance cell of people who’ve managed to avoid or are resistant to the virus (delivered by fly—I get it, but ew!) and they’re trying to defeat the AIs and free the humans.
Caleb, who died last season, appears to be back, but his consciousness has been repeatedly uploaded into a host body, which we know from past seasons never works out well. His daughter, Frankie/Cookie/C, leads the outliers as the resistance is called, and one of her main missions is to find her father.
Bernard returns from the Sublime, having run infinite simulations about how things in the world outside will turn out. Stubbs has been his faithful guardian in the meantime and the two set off to find the outliers, resurrect Maeve, who was killed early in the season (and then again later—but what is later, really?), infiltrate Hale’s city to rescue what’s left of Caleb, and set the next iteration of WW into motion.
Almost everyone dies in the end, but Christina is returned to the Sublime by Hale (after which Hale commits suicide) and begins her final, most dangerous experiment, which looks suspiciously like the original WW she was built for. Frankie gets back to her people, which are the only humans left alive after AI-William sets every other AI and human into a homicidal/suicidal frenzy. *END SPOILERS*
I guess we’ll see what Dolores has in store for us some time in 2023 or 4, now that Ed Harris spilled the beans that filming on season five will begin next spring.
I watched Luck (Apple +) next. I like anything Simon Pegg’s in, even if he’s a cat 🙂 It’s a cute story. Sam is the unluckiest person in the world. She’s just aged out of an adoption centre but wants better for a young friend (a forever home). She has her own apartment and new job. We follow her through a typical day, just to set up the fact that if any can go wrong for Sam, it will. Until she shares a panini with a black cat and finds a lucky penny for her friend when it leaves.
The next day, penny in pocket, Sam can do no wrong. Despite enjoying the hell out of her new luck, she’s going to give the lucky penny to her friend. Until she accidentally flushes it down a toilet. Re-enter the black cat, to whom she tells her tale of woe. And when he demands, in a Scottish accent, “What did you do that for?” Sam’s whole world changes. Fun and sweet and feel-good.
Phil and I watch Fullmetal Alchemist: The Revenge of Scar (Netflix). This is the second of the live-action FMA movies and does follow the FMA: Brotherhood series of events. Phil and I have seen all the iterations of the anime, animated movies, and now the live-action movies. If you’re a fan, you’ll want to watch it.
After a month of being locked out of Goodreads, they’ve finally fixed the issue. And I’m still five books behind in my reading challenge, even after entering the books I read during the outage 😦
I read Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone. While it appears to be the first book published, it’s the third in the series (as its title implies). On his site, Gladstone says each book is standalone and I found this to be true. There was only a little bit of disorientation, but I find that I like books that expect me to figure things out on my own. I enjoyed the legal/spiritual/craft interweave in the novel and the world building, based on the magic system, is superb.
Then, I finished Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad. It’s been a while since I watched the series on Amazon, but, in this instance, I like the book better. It’s cleaner than the series and more direct. Cora’s journey is Cora’s alone and the cruelties of the slave owners and catchers aren’t explained. There’s no need for explanation.
Next, I read The North-West is Our Mother by Jean Teillet. It’s a non-fiction book about the history of the Métis Nation. It was an interesting and informative read.
I read Micaiah Johnson’s The Space Between Worlds in gulps (it was just so tasty!). Traversers are recruited for a peculiar reason: they die a lot—in alternate realities. Because you can’t traverse to a world in which your alternate exists. The multiverse kills you for the offense.
Earth Zero identifies worlds that are similar enough to have the same resources and similar technologies because the main thrust of the traversers is information. Once the prospect world’s resources and technologies are identified, automated missions extract them to enrich Earth Zero.
I don’t want to get into the plot because it would be major spoilage and I don’t want to deny you the treat of reading this book for yourself.
Then, I finished Elan Mastai’s All Our Wrong Todays. I’ll be brief about this one too. It’s another fabulous read.
Tom Barren is a chrononaut, but he’s also a fuck-up and after he manages to derail the inaugural time travel mission, he breaks his timeline. How he tries to fix it is the story. And it’s hilarious and heartbreaking in equal measure.
And that was the month in this writer’s life.
Until next tipsday, be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!
Welcome to tipsday, your opportunity to fill up on informal writerly learnings for the week!
Also, I’m super excited for the launch of Pirating Pups at When Words Collide this coming Friday, August 12, at 3 pm MT, 5 pm EDT. WWC is virtual again this year and registration is FREE. Find out more on their website.
And … here we are in August. Is the summer really half over? *Gives head a shake. Onward!
Trying something new this month. I opened my template early (around the 6th) and filled things in as the month progressed. We’ll see if this experiment bears fruit 🙂
UPDATE (July 13th): Boy howdy, it’s a bumper crop! With more time to write leisurely, this post is over 2000 words and it’s not even mid-month. I may have to edit (!)
UPDATE (July 30th): I’ve decided not to edit. We’ll see how the new mega-update flies.
Imma stick with it. It makes drafting the update much easier writing as it happens/in bits and pieces. The only reason this one is huge-mongous is that I’ve included my comparative review of Station Eleven now that I’ve finished the book and series (see what I’m watching and reading, below). That was over a thousand words on its own … Sorry/Not sorry.
Your monthly PSAs:
All lives cannot matter until Black, Indigenous, and people of colour lives matter.
Continue to observe public health guidelines (washing hands, maintaining physical distance, masking where you can’t, getting your vaccinations as recommended). They’re saying we’re entering a seventh (!) wave in Ontario. For some of you, the waves probably merge/never end. Covid is endemic and new variants continue to crop up. Take care of yourselves and the people you love.
These protective measures are even more important now as the friggin’ monkeypox threatens to become endemic as well.
Russia’s unprovoked war in the Ukraine continues and continues to be deplorable. I stand with the Ukraine!
I’m filled with hope at the response of US legislators at various levels of government to the reckless revocation of Roe. Reproductive rights are everyone’s fight!
The month in writing
I finished version 6 of Reality Bomb on July 5! I only did my curation and filled in bits of this template the next day. For the rest of the week, I shifted to poetry and short fiction on a casual/as I felt like it basis.
After that first week, I started reviewing RB using my map, which is a breakdown of chapters and scenes in the novel. I incorporated notes I’d taken in my journal, and I think I have a path forward for my final (for now) pass. I also started reading through the second novel in my Ascension series, here and there. It’s not bad 🙂
I thought I might get to freewriting some ideas for my next novel (alt-history/steampunk), but here I am at the end of the month, and I haven’t touched it yet.
My intent is to get back to RB in August, while continuing to plug away at poetry and short fiction and whatever else I dip my fingers into, and then seek out a book coach/editor in the fall. Things have been pushed back. They’ll still get done. And I’m feeling fairly optimistic that I should be back in the query trenches by the end of the year. Not sure that’s something I should be optimistic about, given the current state of the publishing industry, but I can win if I don’t play …
And that’s all the excitement.
Except for this: signed two contracts in one day 🙂 One was for my most recent poem to be published in Polar Borealis 22. The other was for my poetry manuscript. It’s becoming a REAL THING!
Actual publication is a long way away on the poetry collection, but I wanted to share, and I wanted to celebrate all the things. Because all the things are good! And I find that I haven’t been recognizing and celebrating the good things as much as I deserve (I originally wrote “should,” but that’s something I deserve less of—shoulding all over myself!).
I also attended a couple of board meetings for the Canadian Authors Association.
In terms of my writing and revision tracker, here’s how the month broke down:
As I mentioned, I finished this draft of RB on the 5th. That was 2,458 words and I set an arbitrary goal of 2,500 words, so that’s 98%.
I exceeded my blogging goal, writing 5,458 words of my 5,000-word goal, or 109%.
I worked casually on my short fiction. It’s a story that was inspired by an anthology call, but just for me. I wrote 935 words, set my goal for 1,500 words, and managed 62% of goal.
I hoped to write 10 poems this month, actually wrote 9, resulting in 90%.
And that’s it for the month in writing.
Filling the well
I attended Author Accelerator’s “Ready, Set Revise” webinar on the 8th. I signed up for “How to revise like an Editor,” another Jane Friedman webinar presented by Tiffany Yates Martin and watched the replay (theme developing here, but it’s where my head is at). On the 19th, I attended “The Story You Tell Yourself,” presented by Sue Campbell.
I registered for Daniel David Wallace’s “Find Your Reader Summit” over the weekend of July 22nd to 25th.
Finally, I registered for an Authors Publish webinar on revision with Jenn Givhan with the intent of watching the replay.
A couple of months ago, I added several podcasts to my listening … and fell way behind because every time you add a podcast, the app adds the last several episodes. And I can’t not listen to them (!) Darned autistic/completionist urges! Mind you, I have resisted listening to every episode, historically, so that’s a win.
I’m now almost caught up and will get to listen to my music again, which I’ve been dying to do, because Florence + The Machine’s “Dance Fever” is my new jam.
Happy to say that I don’t seem to have caught covid after last month’s exposure. No symptoms presented themselves in the five days I was required to self-isolate, anyway. I could always be asymptomatic, so I continue to mask when I go out in public.
My one physiotherapy appointment in July was my last. I’ve “graduated.” Yay me and all my ritualistic behaviours 🙂
I also saw my massage therapist again. I’m doing well and feeling healthy.
Finally, on the last day of the month, I went to my sister-in-law’s for a barbecue and family get-together. Phil’s helping her renovate her kitchen and though it’s only about half done, the results so far are stunning.
What I’m watching and reading
In terms of viewing, Phil and I watched season four of Stranger Things (Netflix) and enjoyed it verra much. While Phil did whinge a bit that they were holding over Venca/Henry for another season, I mentioned that it was a similar situation to Babylon 5, one of his favourite series. It was always intended to be a (four- or) five-season arc. All the “big bads” of prior seasons are linked. Mind you, Phil thinks that the mind flayer is the big boss. Henry may have given it form, but it was clearly in his head from the time he was a child (like Will). I think there’s something to that theory 🙂
Then, I finished watching the first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (network TV). I liked it. Maybe even more than Discovery.
When I was a kid, I was more of a Star Wars than Trek fan, though I have watched my share: TNG, DS9, Voyager (but I stopped watching after the first couple of seasons), the movies. I wasn’t turned on by Enterprise and haven’t watched a single episode of Picard, Lower Decks, or Prodigy. But I’m really enjoying Discovery now that they’ve settled in the future, and SNW was good from the start.
Anson Mount is fabulous as Pike (I didn’t recognize he was the same actor who played Black Bolt on the ill-fated Inhumans) and Ethan Peck is capturing young Spock. What I enjoy most? The theme music. It’s the same as ToS, but the composer’s done something, built the chords a bit differently, different instrumentation (def no theremin), something. There’s more tension in the theme, a yearning toward the major, and hope. It choked me up a bit when I first heard it, but music can do that to me.
Next, Phil and I watched The Boys, season 3 (Amazon). Typically bloody, squirm-worthy (for many reasons), and overall, what we’ve come to expect from the series.
Butcher’s used temp V enough that he’s permanently damaged his brain and has 18 months to live (maybe). Hughey’s managed to resist the temptation (ha!) of temp V and is reconciling with Starlight. MM has told his daughter the family history/trauma with Soldier Boy. She tells him that he’s her hero (d’aw). Frenchie’s grown a spine and ain’t takin’ any more shite from Butcher, a newly-repowered Kumiko by his side. Starlight’s gone rogue and exposed Homelander for what he is (uber douche). At the end of the season finale, she officially joins the boys. Maeve sacrificed her powers to put Soldier Boy back in cold storage, but now has a second chance for a more normal life, albeit in the run, with the woman she loves. Homelander killed Black Noir for not telling him Soldier Boy was his dad and has taken poor Ryan under his wing.
I hope they don’t make Ryan Homelander’s mini-me. It was bad enough when Ryan accidentally killed his mom, but to have a kid with powers running around murdering people … I hope the writers don’t go there. I’d rather see the small smile on Ryan’s face as a sign that he’s thought of a way to take Homelander down.
The Deep’s divorced and having sex with sea life (mostly octopi), and A-Train has a second chance to run after receiving the heart of the low-powered superhero he killed (for terrorizing A-Train’s home community and crippling his brother). Victoria Neuman (the head-popper) may be on her way to the White House.
Then, Phil and I watched Ms. Marvel (Disney+). Loved. LOVED! Some mature viewers might steer clear because, ew, teenagers, but we really enjoyed the family dynamic and Kamala’s spirit and the cultural grounding of the show. There were a couple of contrived conflicts resolved by Kamala’s “power of kindness,” but aside from those, it was a solid show. Toronto’s Iman Vellani plays the titular role with a geek’s fervour. And she really is a fan of Marvel comics. The aesthetic was chef’s kiss.* I don’t want to spoil the show. I’ll just encourage you to watch it.
Season 2 of Russian Doll (Netflix) was characteristically confusing. It picks up on the mystery of the missing krugerrands for Nadia, complicated by Ruth’s declining health, and Alan gets his own motherly mystery to solve. Motherhood seems to be the theme for the season. This time around, Nadia and Alan jump around in the past, courtesy of the New York subway, but also into their respective mothers. Nadia breaks time by taking her infant self (whom she, in the body of her mother just gave birth to) into the present. There is a satisfactory resolution to the two main plotlines that doesn’t involve the disintegration of time.
Then, Phil and I watched season 3 of The Umbrella Academy (Netflix). I liked all three seasons for different reasons. Season 3 wasn’t as wacky as the first two, and though the series’ fate hasn’t yet been decided, it felt very much like it could have been the last.
I watched Spiderman: No Way Home (Amazon). Gaaaaah! Aaaaa! More wordless wonder! I loved it so much, I can’t even.
Then, I watched Spiderhead (Netflix). I’d read the short story the movie was based on, George Saunder’s “Escape from Spiderhead,” earlier in the year and was curious to see how it was adapted for the screen.
Very differently, it turns out. The story starts the same way. The protagonist is a convicted murderer who’s volunteered for a drug trial reminiscent of Brave New World. That is, they change your mood, but not just by making you happy/euphoric/languid. The drugs are loaded into an implanted device and administered to the “volunteers” in a series of trials.
In the story, the protagonist’s crime (vehicular manslaughter) isn’t revealed until the end, and he escapes Spiderhead by killing himself, after which he, in ghostly form, visits the survivors of his victims and achieves a post-mortem catharsis.
In the movie, the protagonist’s crime is revealed in bits and pieces throughout. He’s given a love interest in the research facility, with whom he escapes in the end. The antagonist, the head researcher, is actually the inventor of the drugs and owner of the facility. He also takes the drugs himself to alleviate his personal malaise.
In the end, the protagonist conspires with the research assistant to rig the antagonist’s drug supply. He overwhelms the antagonist with conflicting emotions and makes his escape, but in the process, the antagonist’s implant is mashed, and he gets all the drugs all at once. Though he takes off in his float plane, the drugs alter his perceptions to the degree he crashes his plane into Spiderhead island.
I enjoyed the story more than the film, but it was interesting to see Chris Hemsworth play the villain.
Then, I watched Night Raiders (Crave). Sorry, had a few days off and a gap in series to watch with Phil at supper. I substituted movies.
This movie, Indigenous written, Indigenous directed and produced, and with a primarily Indigenous cast, was a refreshing pause to the doom-and-gloom of most post-apocalyptic movies. It begins with a prophecy and by the end of the movie, the prophecy is fulfilled in an unexpected way. There were a couple of uncharacteristic shifts in the protagonist, clearly done for effect, but aside from that, I enjoyed it. The movie ended on a hopeful note, and I appreciated it for that alone.
Moving on to the month’s reading …
I finished reading Station Eleven on July 2nd. While I enjoyed the book, I like the series better. What follows is my comparative review of both, as promised last month.
HERE BE SPOILERS. You have been warned.
Hate to say it, but the book suffered from the disconnection that a lot of “literary” works fall victim to. The novel, however lauded it may be, is a series of “things that happen.” It’s a survival story more than anything else as well as a deeper dive into the characters united (physically or by circumstance) at the time the Georgia Flu decimates the world.
It could be summed up thusly: Arthur Leander died the night the Georgia flu killed most of the people on the planet. Most of the people connected to him survived—except for poor Miranda, who wrote a graphic novel that shaped the world of the survivors—for 20 years. The end.
Maybe not so flip.
Arthur has a fatal heart attack while playing Lear. Jeevan is a former paparazzi (who used to wait outside Arthur’s house for pictures), now paramedic-in-training, who tries to save his life. Kirsten is a young actress who witnesses the event. In the novel, Jeevan sees Kirsten to her “minder,” and then leaves.
The novel then follows Jeevan (for a while) and Kirsten into year 20 of the pandemic while jumping around in Arthur’s past (and therefore Miranda’s) leading up to his death. The other major characters are tied to Arthur in some way. Miranda, who creates the graphic novel that gives the book its name, and Elizabeth, mother of Tyler, the boy who eventually becomes the prophet, are two of Arthur’s former wives. Clark, who creates the Museum of Modern Civilization at the Severn City Airport, is his best friend.
Arthur receives two copies of the graphic novel from Miranda, one of which he gives to Tyler, and a snow globe paperweight from Clark. On the night of his final performance, he gives the other copy of the graphic and snow globe to the minder who then gives them to Kirsten. The graphic becomes a touchstone for Tyler and Kirsten, but in very different ways. The snow globe and graphic become exhibits in the Museum of Modern Civilization.
And that’s it. These thin strands connect the lives of the characters very tentatively. Kirsten eventually kills the prophet on the way to the Museum, where the travelling symphony regroups after being separated, and they perform Shakespeare and concerts for five days before departing to investigate what seems to be a settlement with electric light. Kirsten leaves one of the copies of the graphic in the Museum before she goes as a promise to return.
Like I say, I enjoyed the novel. I don’t mean to imply that I didn’t.
But the series was much better. I appreciated most of the creative decisions they made.
After failing to save Arthur, Jeevan tries to take Kirsten home in the midst of a snowstorm and the first wave of the pandemic (much worse than covid—most people die within a day of contracting it). They end up going to Jeevan’s brother Frank’s apartment, where they stay until a home invasion results in Frank’s death.
This plot point is another difference I appreciated. In the novel, Frank is in a wheelchair and chooses to commit suicide, thus setting Jeevan free to leave. I understand the situation. Without power, utilities, food, mobility, or the proper medications, he doesn’t want to burden Jeevan with his care. It’s a realistic problem that would have to be faced. But it’s a variation on the kill your gays/the Black character dies first/fridging tropes. Disabled Frank dies to motivate/traumatize Jeevan.
To continue with the series, Jeevan and Kirsten travel together until Jeevan is attacked by a wolf and taken in by a group of pregnant women and their doctor who needs help delivering all their babies. Kirsten travels alone until she joins up with the travelling symphony.
Meanwhile, Miranda dies in Malaysia. She can’t find a way out and catches the Georgia flu. Clark, and Elizabeth with Tyler, are both on flights diverted to the Severn City Airport, and after it becomes apparent that there’s no rescue coming, they set up a community there. Tyler “fakes” his death by making his mother and Clark believe he’s in a plane full of Georgia flu victims when he sets it on fire. He runs away in the ensuing panic.
Years later, the prophet visits the symphony and Kirsten tries to kill him to prevent him from taking her young friend Alex, but she doesn’t succeed, and they meet up again as the prophet continues to harass the symphony.
This is one of the decisions made in the series that I wasn’t so fond of. In the novel Tyler/the prophet sets up a bigamist cult in which they abduct young girls for him to marry. In the series he adopts/gathers children and indoctrinates them into becoming suicide bombers for him. I don’t like either scenario, but the child bombers make it really challenging for the reconciliation between Tyler and his mother that happens in the series to feel authentic. Who would forgive a guy who does that?
So, Kirsten takes Tyler captive and brings him to the Museum of Modern Civilization where he reconciles with his mother. And the symphony entertains the community as in the novel.
But their conductor is sick, and they’ve called the local doctor—Jeevan. There’s a little bit of Jeevan and Kirsten narrowly missing each other as they move around the airport, but they finally reunite.
Tyler and Elizabeth depart with the prophet’s remaining children and Alex. Kirsten continues on with the Symphony, with the Airport now on their route, and Jeevan returns to his home, a cottage or resort somewhere in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula or cottage country in Ontario, where all the children he helped bring into the world and their mothers live. I think this is the settlement with electric light that Kirsten departs to investigate in the novel.
I haven’t spilled every last drop of tea, but that’s the gist of it. The series left me feeling more hopeful than not. The novel left me hopeful, but unsatisfied. There seemed less rhyme or reason, and I suppose that’s fair, if you’re going for a realistic post-apocalypse. Even with so few people left in the world, coincidences like those in the series wouldn’t happen.
But there you go.
Then, I finished Down Among the Sticks and Bones, the second of the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. This novel focuses on the backstories of Jack and Jill and what brought them to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. It’s lovely and heart wrenching and depressing and hopeful all at once.
Next, I read Stories of the Raksura, volume 1: The Falling World and Indigo and Cloud by Martha Wells. I haven’t read The Cloud Roads yet, though it’s in my TBR pile. Starting with these stories (there are two more shorts in the collection as well as the two novellas) was a good beginning, as most of these tales pre-date The Cloud Roads and offer context.
Then, I read Ashley Shuttleworth’s A Cruel and Fated Light. I read A Dark and Hollow Star last year and enjoyed it enough that when the next book in the series was released, I snatched it up. This is a YA urban fantasy series and Shuttleworth’s worldbuilding is quite complex. So complex that the times she has to convey essential information to the reader, whether through narrative or internal monologue, can come off as info-dumps. But the information is essential to understanding either what’s going on in the moment, or the context of what’s happened in the past (backstory). I definitely enjoyed it, though, and will probably pick up the next in series.
And that was a very long rambling report of the month in this writer’s life.
Until next tipsday, be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!
First of all, yeah, I’m late. Life got the better of me. I even tried to write little bits of this post through the week. Didn’t work. As Inigo says, “Let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me summarize.” I should probably take those words to heart.
Here we are, halfway through the year. And … what have I accomplished? It doesn’t feel like a lot, though this year has been … kind of awesome. I’m just in a weird place. Is it just imposter syndrome, or am I failing to take the time to recognize and celebrate my wins? I’ll dig in, in a bit.
Before we get to the month in writing, here are your monthly PSAs:
All lives cannot matter until Black, Indigenous, and people of colour lives matter.
I’m still washing my hands, maintaining physical distance, and masking in indoor public spaces, and I encourage you to do the same. Covid and its variants are still out there (that’s what endemic means). People are still being hospitalized and dying, though vaccination and the above public health measures are working to keep numbers relatively low. Protect yourself and the people you love.
I can’t believe that the war in the Ukraine has lasted more than 100 days. I deplore Russia’s continued unprovoked aggression.
And now …
The month in writing
May should have been better, productivity-wise, than April. At work, we got one major project put to bed and things haven’t been so stressful.
Having said that, I only revised 5,711 words of Reality Bomb in May. That’s 29% of my 20,000-word goal. Yes, I’ve hit another stretch where it’s more writing than revision, but damn. It’s disappointing. I’m within 30 pages of the end of the novel (and have been there for … a while), over 120,000 words on the draft, and I have no idea if I’ll meet my goal of another pass before July. It feels like it’s not going to happen, right now.
I really wanted to reduce the manuscript to 110,000 words, but that may not happen, either.
I blogged 5,514 words of my 5,000-word goal, or 110%.
I revised a short story and submitted it. Most of it was cutting, but 60 new words got on the board. I put in the “goal” of revising 100 words, but it was going to be what it was going to be, so that 60% isn’t really reflective.
And I wrote three new poems and submitted them. A fabulous poet friend suggested that I try to commit my autistic journey to poetry, but damn is that hard. I’m not really in a place where I understand it yet.
I had a trifecta of good news early in the month. On the 9th, “The Undine’s Voice,” a story that was accepted last year was published in Polar Borealis 21. On the 10th, Tyche Books began promotions for Pirating Pups, in which “Torvi, Viking Queen” will appear. Cover and TOC announcement went out that day, and pictures of pirate pups have been making the rounds on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Then, on the afternoon of the 10th, I was contacted by a small publisher who’s interested in my poetry collection (!) It was a happy-dancing couple of days 🙂
Filling the well
May 1st to the 7th marked the return of FOLD, the festival of literary diversity. I signed up for the virtual stream and watched most of it after the fact (‘cause work). If you’re interested, replays should be available to watch until June 11th. You can still register and watch if you wish. FOLD has some of the best programming.
I also attended a book club/reading with Xiran Jay Zhao on the 6th, and a reading by Sarah Polley on the 12th.
I attended a staged reading of Kim Fahner’s play, “All the Things I Draw” on Friday the 13th at the Sudbury Theatre Centre. It was great to get out and see something in person again, but it was my first such outing since the pandemic hit and I was a bit overwhelmed.
I attended the retirement party for a co-worker the next day. Shirley and I joke that we’ve been joined at the hip since we started working. We started in the same class, worked in the call centre for six and a half years, were both successful on the same process to move into adjudication, and then became BEAs at the same time. Though I had a few acting positions as a BEC and then moved to the College to become an instructional designer, until the pandemic hit, we’d always worked together and sat in the same area. It was lovely to be able to see Shirley into the next phase of her life.
On the 29th, I went to dine at an actual restaurant (!) with a friend I haven’t seen in forever. It was great catching up.
In the health/self-care arena, I started to see a physiotherapist because of pain in my shoulders. Not wanting it to develop into anything serious or long-term, I asked my doctor for a referral. After a month of weekly visits, I’ve made progress and graduated to bi-weekly appointments. Yay!
May’s therapist appointment will be my last one. For now. We both agreed that I didn’t need her support anymore, though I will continue to attend my support group meetings.
My employer has accepted the discontinuation of my duty to accommodate request, which is a big relief.
It was a good month, all around.
So … this leaves me wondering about my current low mood. I think it’s a combination of lack of progress on RB and having to be more independent again.
Last year, I reached out for help in a number of areas, and I received it. At the time, I needed the support. Now, I need to take responsibility for my wellbeing again, and it’s hard work. Honestly, though, I’ve been doing the work all along. It was just the presence of health care practitioners that made it feel like I wasn’t.
It was nice to be cared for, though. I think I just have to get used to being on my own again. It’ll take a little time. And I have to grieve the end of some productive, supportive relationships.
What I’m watching and reading
Phil and I watched three shows together. The first was Moonknight. I loved it. Phil, not so much. Oscar Isaac did a fabulous job as Mark/Steven/Jake. Tawaret! LOVE! I’m looking forward to what happens next.
Next up was Raising Dion. What a disappointment. I’d hoped that they would have learned some lessons from season one, but all the same problems popped up. Plot holes galore.
Then, we watched Love, Death and Robots, series 3. Bloody violent. It was good but unsettling. And some of it was hard to watch.
On network television, I watched Outlander. I will never not love the show or the books. So, I think expressing an opinion would be disingenuous. I watched some interviews, though, and discovered that the season was cut short due to Catriona Balfe’s pregnancy. But if you read the books and watch the show, it’s a master class in adaptation. You can see the choices made and why they make sense for the medium. I won’t go on. Suffice it to say—loved!
Then, Naomi. In a way, it’s a bit sad that it was cancelled after one season. The show had potential. A young Black female lead, a diverse cast, and an interesting story. Unfortunately, the writers had a habit of playing the same irritating misdirect in several episodes. They’d set things up to make it look like Naomi was doing something irresponsible, go to break, and return with the reveal of a secret plan.
And finally, The Rookie. It’s a consistent show if nothing else. And they do address interesting issues. But I’m still pissed off that they killed Jackson. A “kill your gays” / “the Black character dies first” double suck.
On streaming, I finished watching Arcane. The animation was gorgeous. The story could have been better. Jinx was another female character whose trauma drove her insane and made her incredibly destructive. Kind of tired of the trope.
My non-fiction (kind of) watch of the month was We’re All Gonna Die (Even Jay Baruschel). Amusing. Horrifying. Both!
And … I don’t know how I squeezed them all in, but I watched three movies, too.
The first was The Matrix: Resurrections. Awesome. Very meta.
Then, I watched Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Also awesome. I love a new story in a favourite imaginary world. And Phoebe was autistic-coded!
Finally, I saw The Kingsman. None of the problematic camp that marked the first two films. It was basically a WWI family tragedy/drama. The action scenes couldn’t save it.
I read five books in May.
The first was All Systems Red by Martha Wells. I lurved Murderbot. Who was also autistic-coded. Will read more of this series.
Then, I finished Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone by Diana Gabaldon. Yup, I read the latest book while watching the series 🙂 This is an amazing saga.
Next, I read Wolf’s Bane by Kelley Armstrong. This is the first of her Logan and Kate (the children of her Otherworld werewolves) books. Fun. Ended on a huge cliff hanger. I think the whole story was arbitrarily broken up. Will read more, though.
My non-fiction read was Burnout by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. Even though it wasn’t specifically about autistic burnout, this book is a-MA-zing. It’s written for women and woman-presenting people who suffer from “human giver syndrome.” It’s hilarious and affecting. Highly recommend.
Finally, I read Stormsong by C.L. Polk. Fabulous. I love how this woman’s mind works and it’s no wonder the Kingston Cycle is up for best series at the Hugos.
And that, my friends, was the month in this writer’s life.
Until next time, be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!