Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Oct 16-22, 2022

This is the final tipsday of October (!) Will you NaNoWriMo this year? I am. It will probably be another NaNo rebel combo, though I will be focusing on Alice in Thunderland. It might actually be a novella, though I’m not certain, yet.

In any case, it’s time to get your fill of informal writerly learnings. Enjoy!

Richelle Lyn is teaming up with other solopreneurs. Then, Jeanette the Writer explains what an editor actually does. Stephanie Dethlefs helps you get to know your ideal reader. Later in the week, Ashley Christiano offers five meditations to help you find your writing confidence. DIY MFA

Jan O’Hara discusses journaling and the writer (episode: man versus table saw). Then, Barbara Linn Probst is grappling with the awkward question of “women’s” fiction. Sophie Masson considers food in fiction. Writer Unboxed

Janice Hardy lists five ways dialogue can annoy your readers. Fiction University

K.M. Weiland reveals the nine negative character arcs in the enneagram. Helping Writers Become Authors

This fairy tale is an actual nightmare. Tale Foundry

Becca Puglisi lists the ingredients for a successful story climax. Margie Lawson says, here be monsters: writers beware! Lynette M. Burrows shares seven ways to increase your creativity through workspace design. Writers in the Storm

Jessica Conoley is writing through the impossible. Then, Hattie Fletcher explains how to avoid taking edits too personally. C.S. Lakin helps you use weather to convey mood in fiction. Jane Friedman

On her own site, Susanne shares tips on how to bring setting to life in your fiction. Live, Write Thrive

Marissa Graff suggests five micro-edits to hook readers on your first page. Then, Julie Artz shares her top three world-building pitfalls and how to avoid them. Writers Helping Writers

The Rings of Power has a narrative momentum problem. Like Stories of Old

Nathan Bransford wonders, can you see what is and isn’t on the page?

Tiffany Yates Martin explains how to speak as well as you write (part 2). Fox Print Editorial

Kristen Lamb reveals why we love, hate, and need horror.

Chris Winkle explains why you should consider present tense. Mythcreants

Roz Morris interviews Jessica Bell on making good decisions about cover design. Nail Your Novel

Louise Harnby answers this question: can I place a dialogue tag before the character’s speech?

How to prevent creative burnout as a writer. Reedsy

Hannah McGregor shares how her Harry Potter podcast made her a better scholar. The Walrus

Jeff Beer explains why Marvel’s She-Hulk finale is the best branded content of the year. Fast Company

Michelle Cyca interviews Ann-Marie MacDonald on exile, imagination, and her new gothic ghost story. The Walrus

John Garth explains how J.R.R. Tolkien came to write the stories that were the source material for The Rings of Power. The Smithsonian Magazine

David Routt: HBO’s House of the Dragon was inspired by a real medieval dynastic struggle over a female ruler. The Conversation

Thanks you for spending some time with me, and I hope you took away something to support your current work(s) in progress.

Until Thursday, keep staying safe and well.

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Oct 9-15, 2022

Another week, another batch of informal writerly learnings!

LA Bourgeois says, imagination, engage! Then, Stephanie BwaBwa shares some marketing systems and automations to support your self-publishing career. Olivia Fisher is tapping into the hearts of kids: crafting authentic voice in middle grade. DIY MFA

Ann Marie Nieves answers your PR and marketing questions, part IX: do you twerk? Then, Jim Dempsey wonders, is your book any good? Kathleen McCleary is out of character. Kathryn Craft on story and death and life. Then, David Corbett is crafting an unforgettable villain with lessons from Louise Fletcher’s portrayal of Nurse Ratched. Writer Unboxed

How this became the sad girl era. The Take

K.M. Weiland shows you nine positive characters arcs in the Enneagram. Helping Writers Become Authors

Janice Hardy shares five fun ways to take advantage of your characters’ fears. Then, Ellen Buikema lists ten ways to start your story. Later in the week, Julie Glover discusses the hardest book she’s ever written. Writers in the Storm

Hank Quense helps you build your own digital planner with Scrintal. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Gaia, the mother of creation. Fate & Fabled | PBS Storied

Sue Coletta helps you construct the skeleton of your story. Then, Angela Ackerman says that the key to a successful NaNoWriMo is using October wisely. Later in the week, C.S. Lakin says less is more when it comes to describing setting. Writers Helping Writers

Jessica Bell points out the key elements of eye-catching book cover design. Joni B. Cole: you have a great idea for a story. Where do you start? Catherine Baab-Maguira explains why it’s better to write about money, not for money. Jane Friedman

Preptober tips! Do these ten things before NaNoWriMo. Reedsy

Nathan Bransford answers the question, “When should I stop sending query letters?”

Kristen Lamb considers motivation and how what drives us defines us.

Tiffany Yates Martin: how to speak as well as you write, part 1. Fox Print Editorial

Chris Winkle considers movement, the 2,300-year-old story principle. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five stories undermined by their epilogues. Mythcreants

Roz Morris: becoming you—how to develop confidence as a writer. Nail Your Novel

Overcoming perfectionism as a writer. Shaelin Writes

Sahar Arshad: from Never have I Ever to Bridgerton, the Desi girl era is here at last. Teen Vogue

Matthew Vogt: pantheon of superheroes. JSTOR Daily

Joyce Kinkead recounts the 5,000-year history of writer’s block. The Conversation

Jordan Pruett wonders, what counts as a bestseller? Public Books 

KC Hoard conducts a roundtable with designers: book cover confidential. The Walrus

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you found something to support your current work(s) in progress, whatever stage they’re at.

Until Thursday, keep staying safe and well.

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Aug 14-20, 2022

Week four of August is here along with your weekly batch of informal writerly learnings! Enjoy!

K.M. Weiland explains how to write emotional scenes (without making them cringey). Helping Writers Become Authors

Lisa Norman reveals how to painlessly generate dozens of blog ideas. Then, Sandy Vaile digs into research: how far will fiction authors go for facts? Laurie Schnebly Campbell wonders how much does genre matter? Writers in the Storm

Joanna Penn interviews Becca Puglisi about writing conflict. The Creative Penn

How to write a plot summary and a synopsis. Reedsy

Roz Morris considers using real people in historical fiction—how much can you invent? Nail Your Novel

Barbara Linn Probst wonders what does “award-winning author” mean—and does it matter? Then, Marcie Geffner discusses aphantasia and writing fiction with no “mind’s eye.” Writer Unboxed

AJ Harper helps you get in front of your readers’ doubts and objections. Jane Friedman

Good characters are overrated. Tale Foundry

Christina Delay: small focus. Big creativity. Becca Puglisi wants you to use your character’s career to support your story’s theme. Writers Helping Writers

Nathan Bransford says don’t outsource your agent search.

Kris Hill considers fairy tales and once upon a time. Manuela Williams: what is the poetry of witness? Then, Daria White proposes an alternative to traditional time management for writers.  Abigail Cutter suggests five ways to get inside your historical characters’ heads. DIY MFA

This fight changed everything … Jill Bearup

Angela Ackerman: does conflict really belong on every page? Jami Gold

Tiffany Yates Martin explains how to write a query letter (without losing your mind). Fox Print Editorial

Kristen Lamb examines the priority parallax: what’s truly important?

Chris Winkle lists ten reasons your characters might stop communicating. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five stories with well-written families. Mythcreants

How to write your first novel. Reedsy

Chris Martin discusses poetry, autism, and the joy of working with neurodiverse writers. Literary Hub

Peter Kafka: the newsletter boom is over. What’s next? Vox

S.L. Huang investigates the ghost of workshops past: how communism, conservatism, and the Cold War still mold our paths to SFF writing. Outstanding essay! Tor.com

Thank you for spending some time with me. I hope you found something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, keep staying safe and well!

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, May 8-14, 2022

Ah, Tuesday. My favourite day of the week, when I get to share my favourite informal writerly learnings of the week with you 🙂 Enjoy!

K.M. Weiland explains the role of the antagonist in story structure (part 2 of 2). Helping Writers Become Authors

Sophie Masson: the hardworking magic of book design. Then, Jim Dempsey considers the creativity of emotions. Juliet Marillier wants a helping hand: supporting your fellow writers. Then, Kathryn Craft gives you six hall passes for grammar un-school. David Corbett is writing wrongs: the color of my low-down, dirty vote. Yuvi Zalkow: gatekeepers and creativity. Writer Unboxed

Does this make my hammer look big? Jill Bearup

Melinda VanLone continues her book cover 101: mystery/thriller. Then, Kathleen Baldwin shares five secret ingredients for writing a killer teen novel. Later in the week, William F. Wu wonders if you’re a plotter, pantser, or … roadster? Writers in the Storm

A quick tip for outliners. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Heather Davis explains the difference between plot and story and why you need both. Anne Carley: your journal as time machine. Jane Friedman

Reading like a writer. Reedsy

Roz Morris: writers, can you feel it? How to use gut feeling to guide your writing. Nail Your Novel

Richelle Lyn shares her insights on when to formalize your business entity. Then, Amanda Polick lists 25 tips for pitching, writing, and being published in magazines. Catherine Drake explains how setting can serve as a catalyst for story. Later in the week, EC Hanes shares five ways to tell enough without telling all. DIY MFA

Ember Randall: self-defense vs. martial arts. Then, Sarah J. Sover is making magic systems stronger with science. Dan Koboldt

How Beauty and the Beast’s Belle launched the bookworm princess hero. The Take

Angela Ackerman says, if you want readers to connect with your character, include this. Writers Helping Writers

Tiffany Yates Martin: prioritizing your life. Fox Print Editorial

The crime genre: justice and injustice; stories of mystery and intrigue. The structure genre: arch-plot, anti-plot, and mini-plot. Story Grid

Chris Winkle wants you to use your story’s premise to create novelty. Then, Oren Ashkenazi wonders how useful Pixar’s rules of storytelling are (part 1). Mythcreants

Gaslighting: narcissists and tampering with reality. Kristen Lamb

11 tips to take your short stories to the next level. Shaelin Writes

Bill Sanders: welcome to Greater Sudbury, where art comes to die. The Sudbury Star

Sudbury Theatre Centre not transparent with new direction, say critics. CBC

James Whitbrook announces that Ncuti Gatwa is Doctor Who’s new Doctor. Gizmodo

Thanks for stopping by and spending some time with me. I hope you found something to support you current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Feb 13-19, 2022

It’s the last tipsday of February! Fuel up on informal writerly learnings for the week.

Roz Morris explains how to write a novel with multiple points of view—seven voices. Nail Your Novel

Raya’s queerbaiting of Southeast Asians – the importance of cultural context to queerness (part 3 of SEA critique of Raya and the Last Dragon). Xiran Jay Zhao

Ann Marie Nieves: PR and marketing questions answered, part VI. Dave King recommends cutting your way to freedom. Then, Barbara Linn Probst shares something that might not actually be true. Porter Anderson: ego, “litflation,” and honor(s). Tom Pope is creating without hope and fear. Writer Unboxed

How do we read? It’s Magic (almost)! Be Smart

K.M. Weiland explains how archetypes and story structure are connected. Helping Writers Become Authors

Joanna Penn interviews C. Ruth Taylor about self-publishing in Jamaica and the Caribbean and the importance of diverse voices. The Creative Penn

On worldbuilding: fallen civilizations. Hello, Future Me

Alexander J. Lewis shares his experience going a year without social media as a freelance writer. Peter Desberg and Jeffrey Davis explain how to pitch like a Hollywood pro. Jane Friedman

Christina Delay takes the measure of a character. Then, Fred Koehler takes you from concept to query in ten months. Writers Helping Writers

Well, THIS seems familiar … Jill Bearup

Nathan Bransford explains how to crystalize the stakes.

Colice Sanders wants you to answer the call for diversity. Then, Disha Walia lists the seven deadly sins of speculative fiction (and how to fix them). Lori Walker: going from preparing to write to actually writing. Alexis M. Collazo shares five reasons to start a morning writing routine. DIY MFA

Dealing with writer burnout. Reedsy

Lynette M. Burroughs: things I wish I knew before I published (pat 2). Writers in the Storm

Angie Hodapp is zeroing in on comps (part 1). Then, Kristin Nelson wants you to dance with the right partner at the publishing prom. Pub Rants

Possibly controversial. Rules vs. Craft. Shaelin Writes

Oren Ashkenazi: how useful are Jonathan Franzen’s ten rules for novelists? Mythcreants

Cory Doctorow reveals that a bug in early creative commons licences has enables a new breed of superpredator. Medium

Promises as a magic system. Tale Foundry

Anne Delaney discusses words on the way in: a retrospective. JSTOR Daily

Ellen Gutoskey shares 11 things you should know about Audre Lorde. Mental Floss

Thank you for taking the time to stop by, and I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Dec 5-11, 2021

Now I’m back to full-week curation, tipsday is back to its regular size 🙂 Enjoy!

Greer Macallister offers a gift guide for the writer in your life. Then, new contributor Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai considers climbing many mountains. Kathleen McCleary: stories will save you. Then, Kathryn Craft reveals the hidden—but crucial—mad skill. David Corbett: for the sheer joy of it. Desmond Hall drops some writing wisdom: respect for your craft, captain happen, and excavating perspective. Writer Unboxed

Ellen Brock provides her advice for the methodological pantser. In case you need a reminder, Ellen presented her four types of writers about a year ago …

Penny Sansevieri lists ten keys to successful publishing. Then, Colleen M. Story wants you to channel your inner James Bond to boost writing success. Piper Bayard gives you ten steps to get from NaNoWriMo to publication. Writers in the Storm

Jill Bearup says, size does matter …

K.M. Weiland reveals the two halves of the third plot point. (Links to the entire series at the bottom of the post.) Helping Writers Become Authors

Heather Campbell explains how to overcome perfectionism and achieve your writing goals. Then, Tiffany Yates Martin advises when—and whether—to hire a developmental editor. Then, Barbara Linn Probst considers a book launch: baby, art, or product? Jane herself makes a bold statement: yes, social media can sell books, but not if publishers sit on their hands. Jane Friedman

How to self-edit your manuscript. Reedsy

Chuck Wendig delves into the latest publishing controversy: does social media sell books? A vital inquisition! Terribleminds

And Dan Blank offers his reasoned perspective: does social media sell books? We Grow Media

Angela Ackerman explains how symbolism adds depth to a story. Lisa Poisso: when are you ready for professional editing? Writers Helping Writers

The Dragon Lady trope. Regaining her power. The Take

Lauren J. Sharkey is finding the joy of writing. Then, Adam W. Burgess says that if you want to write your best, find your writing community. Angela Yeh shares five ways to change the world with your creativity. DIY MFA

Roz Morris explains how to cope with a hefty report from a developmental editor. Nail Your Novel

Chris Winkle tells you how to keep readers happy with your novel series. Then, Oren Ashkenazi wonders which show is the most engaging, Voltron, The Dragon Prince, or She-ra? Mythcreants

Xiran Jay Zhao does a Chinese cultural breakdown of Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

Kristen Lamb explains how to harness the true power of dialogue: talk is cheap.

Sophie Gilbert reveals what the sexual violence of Game of Thrones begot. The Atlantic

Blair Braverman: I moved to a remote cabin to write, and I hate it. Outside

Thank you for visiting, and I hope you found something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe, my writerly friends!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, July 25-31, 2021

You made it through Monday (and a Tuesday-that-feels-like-a-Monday for my Canadian readers)! Time to reward yourself with some informal writerly learnings.

Janice Hardy helps you write better descriptions: describe what your readers won’t assume. Then, she warns of the dangers of infodumps (and how to avoid them). Rochelle Melander: what my literary heroes taught me about writing. Then Spencer Ellsworth explains that word count isn’t the only metric of productivity. Fiction University

It’s a Shaelin bonanza, this week 🙂 How to write the midpoint. Reedsy

Tiffany Yates Martin explains why writing is like pie. Then, Elizabeth Huergo offers some readings for writers: Judith Ortiz Cofer and the will to write. Milo Todd wants you to know your invisible narrator. KL Burd tackles the topic of writing as restoration. Then, Desmond Hall drops some writing wisdom. Later in the week, Tonia Harris helps you keep a light burning. Writer Unboxed

How to write the rising action. Reedsy

K.M. Weiland: should you edit as you go? Helping Writers Become Authors

Bella Mahaya Carter lists five common mistakes writers make that sabotage their success. Live, Write, Thrive

Kris Maze shares three steps to make time to write. Then, Lisa Hall-Wilson peels back the four important layers of deep point of view. Margie Lawson lists ten “not absurd” rules for writing fiction. Writers in the Storm

10 writing tips I don’t agree with. Shaelin Writes

Joanna Penn interviews Roz Morris about writing and publishing literary fiction. The Creative Penn

Nathan Bransford lists three ways “show, don’t tell” can lead you astray.

Stephanie BwaBwa offers some tips about using Instagram to grow your author business. Then, Gabriela Pereira interviews Veronica G. Henry about intention, agency, choice, and how to write three-dimensional characters. Olivia Fisher helps you revitalize your writing resolve. Later in the week, Brandie June wants you the use the magical reverse outline.  Then, Urszula Bunting shares five yoga poses to boost creativity. DIY MFA

Words invented by authors. Otherwords | PBS Storied

Susan DeFreitas lists three strengths and three challenges of starting your novel with plot. Jane Friedman

The redhead on screen. The Take

Chris Winkle and Fay Onyx draw some lessons from the edgy writing of Blindsight. Mythcreants

Lisa Hall-Wilson unpacks writing trauma in fiction: anniversaries.

Guy Kawasaki interviews Hugh Howey: author, storyteller, dreamer. The Remarkable People podcast

Joanna Lilley’s lyrical and devastating poetry collection, Endlings wins the Canadian Authors Association Fred Kerner Book Award. CBC Books

Tasia Bass introduces us to 11 lesser-known fairy tales. Mental Floss

Thank you for visiting. I hope you found something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe, my writerly friends!

The next chapter: July 2020 update

Another month has passed. July was eventful and not in the all the ways I expected.

And yes, this post is late. A week and a day late. You’ll understand.

Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until all Black and Indigenous lives matter. This is a fundamental truth.

The lives of all BIPOC, LGBTQ2A+, disabled, neuro-atypical, and all other racialized or marginalized people matter. We all need to listen, learn, and do better.

That is all.

Pandemic life

So. 24 new confirmed cases of covid-19 have occurred in Sudbury over the last couple of weeks, most of them in people under 30. While there hasn’t been any confirmed written report on the topic, the rumours are that a group of young people went down to a huge party in southern Ontario and brought the virus back with them. Police have also reported breaking up a couple of large parties within the city.

Some people are blaming covid exhaustion. Indeed, it’s taxing for people who haven’t been able to engage in any of their pre-covid social activities, but going from isolation to parties that exceed the safe gathering limits? Travelling to do so? Not smart.

The worrisome part of it all is that we now have community spread in our area and health officials haven’t been able to determine where some of the newly infected might have been exposed.

It’s a drop in the bucket with respect to covid cases nationwide, and we’re faring so much better than other areas of the country. Overall, Canada is doing better than some countries and worse than others. Considering that we had, in total, 68 cases and 2 deaths up until this new rash of infections, though, I think that we may be heading for a second wave. Those 24 new cases represent a 35% bump for our relatively small city. It’s not necessarily going to happen the same way everywhere, but even extrapolating a 15% increase elsewhere means a lot of new infections.

I’m still worried about what’s going to happen when kids return to school. The “plan” we have in Ontario is missing a lot of key details. I think now is not the time to experiment. “Let’s wait and see” is not an acceptable strategy.

Wear your masks, people. Stay safe. Keep your distance when you can. Gather in safe numbers and watch out for your friends and family.

My situation remains status quo with the one key excitement of being invited to write an exam for an internal position I applied for pre-covid. As the position is one that I am very interested in (in many ways, it’s my dream job), I confirmed my participation and awaited next steps.

It turned out the exam was to be written over the course of a week, well, six and a half days, most of which would be while I was working my substantive job. So, evenings and on the weekend, which in this case was the Civic Holiday long weekend.

Then, due to a technical issue, the exam materials, which I was to have received Monday morning, were not issued until that night, but they were sent to my work email (which, admittedly, I had requested because of the technical issue). This means I didn’t even see the email until the next morning when I logged in to my remote desktop. The due date was extended, but only considering the time of issue, not when I would have, in fact, received it. So, I lost any time I could have devoted to the exam on Monday and the due date was now the morning of the Civic Holiday.

It was a lot of work. By Friday, I’d only managed to devote about three or four hours a day to the exam. I determined that I would submit the exam on Sunday night, rather than work through the night to submit the exam in the morning. I know my limits. Going without sleep is not something I can do without consequence. I planned accordingly. I devoted eight hours to the exam on Saturday and 12 on Sunday and I still didn’t have the time to do all I’d wanted to do.

For better or worse, I submitted the exam at 11:57 pm on Sunday.

Because I was catching up on all the work I hadn’t done during the exam week, I didn’t get around to writing this update until today.

The month in writing

Once again, I failed to finish my rewrite of Reality Bomb. I’m closer, but I’m not done yet and the draft is over 108k words. Once I do bring the story to a conclusion, more or less, I’m going to be going over it again and cutting like mad. I have to tighten it up and make sure that the overall story has continuity. I want to reduce the draft to 90k if I can. I’ll settle for 100k, but I want a trim beast to present to my critique group.

I also critiqued a draft for one of my group members.

JulyProgress

I set another modest goal of 5,000 words and wrote 6,628 words, or 133% of my goal.

I blogged 5,448 words of my 3,750-word goal, or 145%.

I planned to write 8,750 words and actually wrote 12,076 words. That’s 138% of my goal.

Filling the well

On July 1st, I attended an online workshop with Roz Morris on backstory, offered through Jane Friedman. Love Roz 🙂

On the 11th, I attended the WXR virtual reunion and the taping of their annual “cruise” portions of the Writing Excuses podcast. The cruise is cancelled this year, and this was a great compensatory virtual get-together.

I also attended the virtual launch of Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Relentless Moon on July 14th. It was fun. The Lady Astronauts Club showed up in period-appropriate/IAC costume, MRK was dressed as her protagonist, Nicole Wargin, and they framed the experience as an orientation session for new lunar colonists at the IAC. There was a lecture on orbital mechanics, a lander simulation (which I managed on the fourth try), and several other entertaining activities. I’ve since received my copy of the novel and an IAC Artemis Base badge.

On July 20th, I attended a virtual lecture by Ibram X. Kendi on how to be an anti-racist broadcast by Prince George’s County Memorial Library System.

Finally, on July 24th, I attended a session on Mythology and Speculative Literature that was sponsored by The Carl Brandon Society. Vida Cruz, Piper J. Drake, Kate Elliot, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Shveta Thakrar discussed the mythological inspiration for their work, problematic or clichéd uses of myth, and other mythic goodness.

A couple of friends from out of town were visiting family and came over for an evening, which we spent on the backyard patio, appropriately distanced. These visits are always too short.

What I’m watching and reading

Phil and I watched all of Penny Dreadful. Though we enjoyed the first two seasons, the third left us scratching our heads. Ethan was taken back to America and Sir Malcolm, recruited by Kaetenay, travelled from Africa to rescue him. Ethan temporarily goes dark side before the resolution to his troubles brings him abruptly back to the light. Then, Kaetenay has a vision that sends them back to London to help Vanessa …

… who has been languishing, abandoned by all her supposed friends and family. At Dr. Lyle’s suggestion, she enters into therapy with Dr. Seward, who looks identical to her witch mentor from the previous season’s flashbacks. She makes progress through hypnosis and ventures out into the world again with Dr. Sweet, who is, in fact, Dracula (dun, dun, dun!).

Frankenstein teams up with an old colleague, Dr. Jeckyll in a subplot that doesn’t really go anywhere.

The creature reunites with his family, only to discover that his wife wants him to take their dying son to Frankenstein for resurrection.

Brona recruits the fallen women of the city and trains them to become her army with Dorian’s help. Her goal: to liberate women everywhere from the power and cruelty of men. Sadly, Dorian bores of the game and delivers Brona into Frankenstein’s hands, where both creator and creation have inexplicable changes of heart. He refuses to use the serum he and Jeckyll developed to tame Brona, and Brona, once freed, knowing that Dorian delivered her into Frankenstein’s captivity, decides not to take her revenge on either of them. She returns to Dorian’s manor and, seeing her disciple dead on the floor at Dorian’s hands, simply leaves. Brona delivers an empowering speech that’s supposed to leave Dorian devastated, but it doesn’t.

Meanwhile, a new friend enters Vanessa’s life, Catriona Hartdegen. Cat knows a lot about vampires and Dracula in particular and together, they figure out that Dr. Sweet is Dracula. Vanessa goes to confront him, intending to defeat him, but—again, inexplicably—decides instead to surrender to him. Darkness and chaos descend upon London.

Ethan, Sir Malcolm, and Kaetenay, newly arrived, team up with Dr. Seward and Cat to save Vanessa. Dracula tells Vanessa that her former friends are coming, and she intimates that she will welcome the opportunity to slay them all. When the battle is joined, however, Vanessa is no where to be seen. Everyone fights valiantly, but it looks like the tide is turning in Dracula’s favour. Ethan breaks away and finds Vanessa isolated in a room where she merely begs him to kill her, which, after some weeping and moaning, he does.

And that was it. I know the series was cancelled while they were in the middle of filming this last season, but in an attempt to compress the story, the writers were unable to set up the appropriate character development that would make the last few episodes feel earned (where have we seen that before, eh, GoT?). Instead, we have uncharacteristic actions/decisions by nearly every character, lose ends, and a lot of lost opportunities. It would have been better if they had changed course and written and ending that made sense, even if it wasn’t the ending they had been writing toward for the whole series.

On TV, I watched the most recent season of The Good Witch. It’s candy and fluff, but sometimes you need a little candy and fluff.

I finally finished Orange is the New Black. They had to do some fancy tap dancing to get everything rolled up and they did leave some loose ends. I’m glad Piper decided to stick with Alex, but I think I would have been just as happy if she’d gone on to have her own life. It was the other stories, Taystee’s, Original Cindy’s, and Gloria’s stories in particular, that grabbed me. Blanca got a happy ending. Pennsatucky’s end was tragic. Maritza and Shani’s deportations were senseless. Aleida and Daya just continued the cycle of violence. Suzanne was left hanging, much as Red and Lorna were. I know it was supposed to be a commentary on the incarceration system, but aside from being largely depressing, I was left with a solid meh.

I watched The Crown’s latest season and it was interesting, but it wasn’t edge-of-your-seat viewing.

13 Reasons, season 3 definitely had me on the edge of my seat, but I kept asking myself why. Why even write a second season? The first season covered Asher’s book and did so well. They just delve deeper and deeper into trauma and its aftereffects to the point that in season four, it’s just painful to watch. That may have more to do with my trauma than anything else, but there you are.

I finished the 2018-19 season of Riverdale, which was already out there (juvenile prison fight rings, a criminal empire based on a D&D analogue, and an organ-harvesting cult) and am trying to catch up on the 2019-20 season.

And I finally finished the 2018-19 season of The Flash. Solid meh. But proceeding with the 2019-20 season, anyway.

Reading-wise, I only have four offerings.

I finished Jenn Lyons’ The Ruin of Kings. I liked it. I wish I could rate a book three and a half stars, but I gave it four. Lyons did play with structure in an admirable way. The book overall is presented as a report to the current empress (a very long report, might I say) and the annotations that appear throughout are not distracting, as you might think, and they do add to the content of the story. Once I learned who the empress was, I had trouble understanding how most of the annotations were necessary and that returned them to the category of authorial intrusion, however.

The first part of the book is told by two narrators, prisoner and jailer (kind of like Black Panther, Red Wolf) but the jailer is a shape-shifter named Talon who has the ability to absorb the memories of the people they imitate. Or come into contact with? Or consume? Really, the process isn’t well-explained. Talon and Khirin (the prisoner/protagonist) use a stone, handed back and forth. It’s a clever conceit that allows Lyons to present other POVs than Talon’s and Khirin’s, by virtue of Talon’s abilities.

Not only that, but Khirin starts telling his story from the point of his enslavement. Talon complains and goes back further, to the point they believe in the true beginning of the story. So, we have a narrative frame within a narrative frame and dual timelines that intersect and the end of part one. That’s another structural oddity. Part two is maybe a fifth of the book.

There was nothing wrong with the story itself and the structural gymnastics were definitely novel, but it made me wonder if Lyons had presented the story chronologically, without the frames and the annotations, if I would have thought differently about the book.

Then, I read The Queen of Katwe. I was hesitant, because the author is a white man (Tim Crothers), but it’s a non-fiction book using a lot of interviews and correspondence and thus presents the book in the words of the people involved. The book was, by turns, depressing and uplifting, but there was no real resolution. It’s an incomplete biography that leaves the reader wondering if Phiona ever achieved her dream of becoming a grandmaster. Wikipedia indicates she holds the title of candidate women’s master, but that’s as far as she got.

Kij Johnson’s The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe was interesting. Rather than starting in this world and entering one of dream, Johnson flips the concept. Vellitt has always lived in the dream world and must travel into our world to recover the favourite granddaughter of one of the gods, who, if he wakes to find his favourite missing, will destroy half the dreamlands. The one thing I wasn’t comfortable with was that the real-world dreamers who travel to the dream world are always men, powerful and ageless. When Vellitt finally reaches our world, she is instantly transformed, has an identity and all the knowledge she might ever need or have gained from living a life in this world, though. Maybe Johnson’s statement is more subtle. Maybe women are the only true dreamers, living lives simultaneously in the dream world and in this? It’s thought-provoking, to be sure.

Finally, I read Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation. What kind of country would America have been if the civil war was interrupted by a plague of zombies? Ireland calls them shamblers and, in her novel they basically make time stand still. In some respects. The protagonist, Jane is biracial, though her skin is not light. She’s at a school for “attendants,” Black girls who are trained to fight shamblers and protect wealthy white women. It’s the best she can hope for in a world in which slavery and indenture still exist and people of colour (Black and American Indian) are seen as biologically inferior. Ireland examines the racism of the world she’s created through the lens of her “finishing school,” the viral shamblers (one plotline involves the development of a vaccine), and the white supremacists who attempt to create their own isolated empire in the midst of the chaos.

Each chapter begins with an excerpt from a letter that Jane has written to her mother and later, after she learns that her correspondence has been intercepted and she comes into possession of them, her mother’s letters to Jane. It’s a good book, but I kept wanting a little more and there were some events that seemed to resolve in the favour of plot convenience rather than where they seemed to be heading. I’ve already nabbed the next in the series, though.

And that was a month in this writer’s life.

Until next time, be well and stay safe, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

The Next Chapter

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Dec 8-14, 2019

Here are some informal writerly learnings to peruse while you’re preparing for, or celebrating, the holidays.

Lori Freeland says that show, don’t tell, are the three most misunderstood words in a writer’s vocabulary. Then, Colleen M. Story shared seven ways writers can overcome holiday anxiety. Julie Glover is saying no to get to a more important yes. Writers in the Storm

Shaelin shares five of her favourite tropes. Reedsy

Rheea Mukherjee makes notes on writer dreams, gratitude, and the anxiety of authenticity. Jim Dempsey wants you to manipulate your reader’s point of view. Sarah Callender asks, is imitating the greats helpful or harmful? Kathryn Craft is manipulating story time for maximum effect. David Corbett shares a lesson in forgiveness from The Crown. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland critiques: ten ways to write a better first chapter using specific word choices. Helping Writers Become Authors

Roz Morris shares five post-NaNoWriMo ways to use the holidays to keep your new writing habits … without revising too early. Nail Your Novel

Abigail K. Perry digs into James Scott Bell’s signpost scene 13: the final battle. Brenda Joyce Patterson takes a deep dive into the essay. Then, Constance Emmett shares five tips for post-publication survival and success. DIY MFA

Robert Lee Brewer points out the difference between lets and let’s. Writer’s Digest

Nathan Bransford offer the eight essential elements of a story.

Chris Winkle shares five ways to make multiple points of view more engaging. Then, Oren Ashkenazi explains why some dark topics are more sensitive than others. Mythcreants

Tim makes some excellent points about writing power escalation. Hello, Future Me

Heidi Fiedler stops by The Creative Penn: five ways to quiet your inner editor.

Jami Gold asks, what’s your core story?

Thank you for stopping by. I hope you’re leaving with some great resources for your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well!

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 13-19, 2019

Another week, another batch of informal writerly learnings. Enjoy!

K.M. Weiland: this is how to transform infodumps into exciting plot reveals. Helping Writers Become Authors

Roz Morris considers what your readers will never notice (and what they will) … a brief point about reader belief and story logic. Nail Your Novel

Dave King talks gatekeepers. Kathleen McCleary: the books that get people talking. Tiffany Yates Martin explains how to train your editor brain. Writer Unboxed

Shaelin Bishop shares seven of her favourite writing tools.

Ethan Ellenberg gives authors the big picture on intellectual property. Jane Friedman

Angela Ackerman lays out the free and paid story feedback options for authors. Later in the week, Savannah Cordova from Reedsy visits: what can the best metaphors in literature teach us about writing? Writers Helping Writers

Abigail K. Perry looks at James Scott Bell’s signpost scene 12: the Q factor. Brenda Joyce Patterson takes a deep dive into novellas and novelettes. DIY MFA

Julie Glover give us more on plotting, pantsing, and personality type. Writers in the Storm

Jami Gold warns you to watch for redundancy in your story.

Jane Friedman reports on current trends in traditional book publishing.

Chris Winkle shares 18 ways for protagonists to contribute. Mythcreants

The complex problems with mental illness in fiction. *Please be aware that this video essay discusses suicide, self-harm, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other mental health issues. While it’s very well done (in my opinion), the video offers no solutions. If you prefer not to watch, do not click through on this one.* Hello Future Me

Nina Munteanu considers science fiction on water justice and climate change.

Thanks for visiting! I hope you found something to help you progress with your work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well, my writerly friends!

Tipsday2019