The next chapter: September 2020 update

I blink, and it’s October.

Black and Indigenous lives matter

The good fight goes on despite losses. There was no justice for Breonna Taylor. Joyce Echaquan died after enduring racist abuse from the people who were supposed to be helping her. Two of the staff were fired, but it looks like there won’t be justice for Joyce Echaquan either.

On the positive side, Annamie Paul is the first Black leader of a Canadian political party. I’m watching with interest.

We have to keep educating ourselves (those of us who benefit from white privilege), listening, reading, promoting Black and Indigenous artists and entrepreneurs, and bringing issues affecting Black and Indigenous people to the fore. We need to do better.

Pandemic life

Ten months into this hellacious year and seven months into the pandemic. We’re firmly into the second wave in many areas of the province and country. Pre-reopening restrictions have been institutes again. We all have to do our part to protect each other.

Wear your masks, maintain physical distance, wash your hands, don’t go out unless you need to, and get your flu shots as soon as they’re available.

I’m just boggled that Trump decided to break quarantine to give his supporters a “gift.” What gift is that? The rona? I shake my head and wait to see what happens next.

Work wise, while front line workers have returned to the office (with appropriate protections), the rest of us are teleworking for the foreseeable. So, nothing new there. I’ve adapted to my new work laptop and the shelf Phil made for me to elevate my monitors over my laptop also provides additional storage space.

With respect to the assessment process I was involved in for the new job at work … the manager wanted to proceed with next steps in the informal process. If I was interested. To which I responded with a resounding “YES!” The potential start date has been pushed to November to accommodate any approvals that might need to be obtained. And then I was called for the interview in the formal process. Still nervous about it, but they did proceed to contact my references from there.

And now … we wait. Again. Did I mention these things tend to take a fair amount of time?

The month in writing

Please excuse the block caps, but I think some shouting is in order. THE NEVERENDING DRAFT FINALLY ENDED! Yes, I finished this iteration of Reality Bomb. It was basically 120k and I have to cut around 30k, but I’m optimistic. I’m currently mapping in anticipation of revising later this month.

So, 5,234 words, or 105% of my 5k-word goal.

I finished the short story I started last month and promptly submitted it. It was rejected and so will be added to my pile of revise and resubmit stories, but I feel that it was an accomplishment, nonetheless. Then, I started on another story, not expecting to finish it, let alone submit it, but I did both! I probably won’t hear from that submission process for a while yet. I’m just happy to have done it.

I also submitted a previously published story for consideration in a Canadian reprint special issue of a popular SFF magazine. I’ll definitely let you know if anything comes of that 🙂

2,489 word of short fiction in the month, or 124% of my 2k-word goal.

I blogged 6,815 words of my 3,750-word goal, or a whopping 182%. Whop.

Overall, I wrote 14,538 words. I’d aimed for 10,750 and surpassed my goals on all counts. 135% of my monthly writing goal ain’t bad.

In the poetry arena, “Fire and Ice,” one of the five poems accepted for publication in Polar Borealis was also selected for Stellar Evolutions, an anthology featuring the best of the first 15 issues of PB. The pieces for the anthology were selected by Rhea E. Rose of RainWood Press. Pre-orders start October 15th, and the anthology is officially out on October 31st—my birthday!

Isn’t the cover beautiful?

It’s nice to get some external validation again.

Filling the well

Over Labour Day long weekend, our small family gathered at my sister-in-law’s for what’s probably our last outdoor family gathering of the year (it’s too cold for the moms, now). Chicken wings on the barbeque and fresh-cut fries. The sandhill cranes (AKA dinos) were EVERYWHERE.

Later in the month, I went out with Torvi a couple of times for walks in the fields.

In September, I attended Jane Friedman’s workshop on Researching Agents and Publishers like a Pro, a Word on the Street event with Michael Christie (Greenwood), Kerri Sakamoto (Floating City), and Doreen Vanderstoop (Watershed), the Writing Excuses Retreat fall reunion, How to Astronaut with Mary Robinette Kowal and Terry Virts, a NaNoWriMo session on How to Unlock the Key to Your Novel (adaptation to screen) with Jenny Han (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before), Angie Thomas (The Hate U Give), Nancy Springer (Enola Holmes), and Roshani Chokshi (Aru Shah), a world building tutorial with Mary Robinette Kowal, and a presentation on The Inner Workings of Spacesuit Design with Adam Savage, Cady Coleman, and (again) Mary Robinette Kowal.

Whew! That was a lot of virtual events.

I also attended several meetings for the Canadian Authors Association and the AGM for CIRA as well as several learning events at work (virtual facilitation, Orange Shirt Day, anti-racism, and mental health). What can I say? I’m a learning mutt.

What I’m watching and reading

Because many series stopped filming and/or production because of covid-19, there hasn’t been a lot on cable these days. Don’t get me wrong, I’m kind of grateful. I get more writing done of an evening if I don’t have regular series to watch. I’m actually catching up on my streaming viewing, but I haven’t finished any more series/seasons that way, either.

I watched the first six episodes of Wynona Earp. It’s the usual wacky shenanigans, but we didn’t get much of anywhere before covid intervened. Apparently, the rest of the season should start coming out in January. I’ll reserve full judgement until then.

Phil and I endured Cursed. It’s okay to envision a new interpretation of traditional myths and legends, but you have to have some kind of cohesive story going in. This was just stuff happening, just to have stuff happen. Pirates and Vikings and fairies, oh my? In what timescape do these all coexist with Arthurian legend (the fairies, okay, but the rest)? It’s fiction. I get it. But it all felt contrived, like, oh yeah, now we have the Inquisition (nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition)!

By all means, let Nimue be the one true queen, but she should act like one (some of the time, please?). She can have (indeed should have) conflicting goals and desires, but she’s running away with Arthur one minute and then making deals with Uther to save her people the next? Everyone was changing allegiances, left, right, and centre, again, apparently for no reason.

In short, nothing came together for us. We’ve watched and enjoyed shows that have done truly bizarre things with Arthurian legend, but they worked because there was a cohesive story to wrap all the crazy in. Someone let their idea monkey out of its cage and the poor dear just started flinging poop everywhere.

The rest of my viewing was long form, that is movies.

I watched Birds of Prey (and the fantabulous emancipation of one Harley Quinn) and it was fabulous. I think it’s the best DCEU film I’ve seen yet. It was all style and fun and it had a legit story. Margot Robbie was *chef’s kiss.* Nice to see strong women coming together to kick some ass and save each other.

Then, I saw Knives Out. Hilarious and clever, though I did wonder how Benoit Blanc, master detective, missed the distinct scent of vomit when he got into the car. You know the scene I’m talking about. This movie isn’t a whodunnit, but a who-woulda-dunnit-if-the-intended-victim-hadn’t-dunnit-first … and committed murder, extortion, and arson to cover their tracks. It’s about true friendship and kindness and a suspect who vomits every time she lies. A feelgood movie. Yeah, that’s what I’m going with.

Finally, Phil and I watched Enola Holmes. Another feelgood movie. It’s a plot wrapped in a mystery. Millie Bobbie Brown was perfect and got to use her own accent (sort of). Henry Cavill and Helena Bonham Carter were lovely. There were a few key differences from the book as I understand it, but I think I’m going to pick it up. I’ve always enjoyed Nancy Springer’s novels 🙂

In terms of reading, I have four offerings, two short story collections and two novels.

The first collection was Lynn Coady’s Hell Going. This collection won the Giller in 2013. I enjoyed the stories, but they all seemed to revolve around absences, and how people only end up hurting themselves by not communicating.

Daniel José Older’s Salsa Nocturna is a collection of stories featuring the characters from the first two novels in his Bone Street Rumba series. Humans who can see the dead, half-dead ghost hunters, witches who trap the souls of their victims in dolls, mammoth ghosts (not big ghosts, but the ghosts of woolly mammoths), and regular folks who get caught up in the world of the NY Council of the Dead.

Then, I read Justina Ireland’s Deathless Divide, the sequel to Dread Nation. As dark as the first novel was, DD is darker. You have to read them both to get the full effect, and I’m not going to spoil it.  The metaphoric nature of the story is killer (pun intended).

Finally, I read Barney’s Version by Mordecai Richler. Well, I listened to it. Audible offered Giller prize winning novels for free back in the spring and I got a bunch. I didn’t expect to like this novel, but I did. The twist in the final pages is perfect. The narrator … I’m not as impressed with. He persisted in pronouncing yarmulke (yah-muhl-kah) as yarmuckel—that’s not even how it’s written—gah! I would think a professional voice actor would care enough to look up these things before he began narration … but I’ll leave it there.

Barney is the ultimate unreliable narrator. He’s starting to forget things and eventually dies from complications related to Alzheimer’s. So, basically, the reader can’t trust a word he’s written. He’s writing his memoir, such as it is, in response to former friend turned rival, Terry MacIvor’s fictional expose.

The problem is that Barney readily admits his faults and he does terrible things, but he’s adamant on one point: he did not kill his best friend as everyone thinks he did.

And that 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.

Join me over at DIY MFA for my latest Speculations

This time on Speculations, I share a few ways the NASA/SpaceX collaboration of a few months back can inspire your next SFnal story.

While your there, check out some of the other great columnists and Gabriela’s awesome resources for writers.

Until next time, keep speculating and see where it leads you!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 16-22, 2020

Welcome to another week of informal writerly learnings!

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

The EI ERB and CERB have been extended for the third time and three new transitional benefits are being created to support Canadians in this crisis. It’s resulted in chaos at work, but chaos has been the rule since March 15th.

Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay within your bubbles and avoid crowded events. Take care and stay safe. You don’t know who you could be putting at risk with careless behaviour.

K.M. Weiland shares five exercises for honing your story instincts. Helping Writers Become Authors

Vaughn Roycroft explains why he prefers novels with prologues. Dave King is discussing fiction in the time of plague. Then, Sarah Penner shares the results of a working-from-home survey: navigating changes to our work environments. Later in the week, Porter Anderson discusses emergent voices. Writer Unboxed

Shaelin Bishop shares some of her favourite writing techniques. Shaelin Writes

Tasha Seegmiller: every novel needs a village. Then, Barbara Linn Probst advises us to read like a writer and write like a reader. Later in the week, John Peragine explains the vital importance of your writing community. Writers in the Storm

The muse trope, explained. The Take

Rochelle Melander suggests some tools for revision. Fiction University

Christina Delay uses the lyrics of “Yesterday” to look back at the first act. Writers Helping Writers

Helen J. Darling helps you build your author newsletter list. Then, Pamela Taylor helps you figure out whether you’re writing historical fiction, or something else. Later in the week, Chere Hughes describes the key features of a no-fear critique. DIY MFA

Susan DeFreitas explains what your first 50 pages reveal. Jane Friedman

Nathan Bransford wants you to be very careful with dreams and hallucinations in novels.

Chris Winkle explains why story structures like the Hero’s Journey don’t work. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five stories with anticlimactic endings. Mythcreants

What English can’t do. NativLang

Alexandra Alter: “We’ve already survived an apocalypse”: Indigenous authors are changing science fiction. The New York Times

Thanks for visiting and I hope you’re taking away something that will support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe.

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 10-16, 2020

Welcome to week nine of #pandemiclife.

Here in Ontario, the Premiere has authorized some businesses to reopen. Street-facing retail stores that can deliver curb-side service. Veterinarians, groomers, and pet boarding businesses. Essential-adjacent health support services. My mother-in-law will be able to get her housekeeper back—physically distanced, of course. And golf courses. And cottage country (which really doesn’t want to be open, from what I’ve been hearing).

Will we have another spike? Will we have to dial back? I’m maintaining the status quo. Kind of. I’ll be delivering virtual training over the next couple weeks. It’s going to be interesting. And … I’ve already been asked to deliver the next session, which is pretty much back to back, because there aren’t enough trainers who are comfortable with the platform, or even virtual training, to spread out the burden.

There are apparently five such courses to be delivered between now and September. I hesitate to be on the hook for all of them. But this may be my work life, moving forward.

I’ll keep you updated.

In the meantime, please enjoy some informal writerly learnings 🙂

K.M. Weiland uses a brave critique volunteer’s work to discuss seven possible hooks for your opening chapter. Helping Writers Become Authors

K.B. Jensen explains how to throw a virtual book launch using Facebook Live. Then, Chantel Hamilton provides a comprehensive guide to finding, hiring, and working with an editor. Jane Friedman

Shaelin Bishop continues her series on developing a novel with part 4: form, style, and voice. Reedsy

Joanna Penn interviews Larry Brooks about how to develop strong fiction ideas. The Creative Penn

Leanne Sowul touts the power of paying attention. Later in the week, Sarah Fraser lists five signs you’re ready to work with an editor. DIY MFA

Jim Dempsey helps you decide, your words, or your editor’s? Juliet Marillier: consolation or challenge? Kathryn Craft shares eight ways to unblock your scene’s potential. Writer Unboxed

September C. Fawkes explains how plotlines add dimension. Writers Helping Writers

Jami Gold wonders whether breaking the rules is easy or hard.

Jenna Moreci says imposter syndrome sucks, but you don’t.

Nathan Bransford tells you everything authors need to know about dialogue tags.

Aliza Mann explains how to get back on track when all your planning fails. Fiction University

Kristen Lamb wants you to create a story-worthy problem that will captivate an audience.

How the strong black woman trope has evolved. The Take

Barbara Linn Probst lists three motivations to write: artistry, identity, and legacy. Writers in the Storm

Chris Winkle says, no. “Art” does not entitle you to spread harmful messages. Then, Oren Ashkenazi gets facetious with seven musts for dominating a fantasy battle. Mythcreants

Richard Marpole goes for a walk among the trees: a look at forests in myth and media. Fantasy Faction

Esther Jones: science fiction builds resilience in young readers. Phys.org

Simon Winchester: has “run” run amok? It has 645 meanings … so far. NPR

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ve taken away something to support your current work in progress (or planning/development of same).

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

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, April 12-18, 2020

I hope everyone is staying safe and keeping well. Here’s your weekly dose of informal writerly learnings to help fill some of your time (I know you’re all doing what you can to keep yourselves occupied).

Helen J. Darling says that if you’re finding it hard to write, try keeping a pandemic journal. Sara Farmer considers fiction from Daphne du Maurier to Megan Abbott: the gothic horror of womanhood. Later in the week, Gabriela Pereira interviews Jeff Garvin about dismantling the stigma of mental illness. DIY MFA

Lori Freeland helps you understand point of view: P-O-What? Writers in the Storm

K.M. Weiland explains how to get some writing done: discipline vs. enthusiasm. Helping Writers Become Authors

Jim Dempsey offers a simple guide to symbolism in stories. Kathleen McCleary wants you to fuel your writing with feeling. Barbara Linn Probst shares five ways to light the spark of a novel. Writer Unboxed

Sacha Black wants you to breathe life into your prose with the sense of touch. Writers Helping Writers

Specificity and concrete language. Shaelin Writes

Susan DeFreitas shares part three of her developing a writing practice series: important.  Then, Mathina Calliope reveals the easy-to-fix tense problem that might be tripping up your readers. Jane Friedman

Jami Gold explains the difference between passive and active voice: was and not was. Later in the week, she wonders if pandemic anxiety is forcing everyone to count their spoons.

Chris Winkle breaks down act 3 of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Then, Oren Ashkenazi looks at six magic systems that need stricter limits. Mythcreants

Writing fight scenes. Hello, Future Me

Chuck Wendig writes about being broken in half but wanting to be whole. Terribleminds

Steve Toase confronts the default: portraying homelessness in fantasy and science fiction. Tor.com

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you take away something that will support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, stay safe and well, my writerly friends.

Tipsday2019

The next chapter: March 2020 update

And here we are with my first monthly writing update since covid-19 was declared a pandemic. What a difference a month makes.

A month of uncertainty and change

March came in like a lamb. It would leave that way, too, as if it knew that other events would play the lion. The first reports of a novel coronavirus had come out in November (hence the 19 in the virus name) from Wuhan and the first confirmed case in Canada was on January 15. We had no idea what was coming. At worst, I thought we’d be facing another SARS and Canada had weathered that. I’d worked through similar crises before. Or so I thought.

Then, on March 10, the first case was confirmed in Sudbury and a few days later, a second. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared covid-19 a pandemic. On March 12, the school boards declared that all schools would shut down for two weeks following March break to enforce quarantine on travellers returning after March break. Our university and colleges closed, as well.

The next week was March break and the first of my coworkers went home on special leave because she had school-aged children. More followed. I had scheduled leave the Thursday and Friday of that week. That weekend, Phil and I made the decision to stop visiting my mom, stop having her pet sit Torvi while Phil was out and about. While there have been no documented cases of covid-19 in pets, if Phil or I are asymptomatic carriers, we could transfer the virus on her fur and as Phil continues to venture out for necessaries, the potential danger is continual. The weekend and the decision were fraught with anxiety and disappointment. When I returned to work on Monday (March 23), half of the office had been sent home to telework. On Tuesday, the rest of us were told to go home. I came in on Wednesday to finish up a few things and collect my plants.

I’ve been working from home since March 26.

2020-03-27 18.01.12

States of emergency were declared at the national and provincial levels. Schools were closed indefinitely, and plans made to teach students virtually. Social distancing was renamed physical distancing. I don’t go out except to walk Torvi and when I do, I’m sure to stay at least two metres away from other pedestrians. Phil is our designated shopping and fetching guy, which works because he’s otherwise unemployed. He’s also performing this service for our moms.

Things haven’t changed much for me. I’m still working (a blessing) but am doing so from home. I don’t have any more time than I normally do, and so I’m not engaging in binge-watching, catching up on learning activities, or seeking distraction. I’m distracted enough by the surreality of the situation.

This is the new normal. And yet changes continue to be announced every day. The chaos has me in a state on continual, low-grade anxiety.

The month in writing

I’d planned to take weekends off and intended to compensate with extra words during the week. This went swimmingly for the first few weeks until covid-19 started to make its presence felt. Then, all bets were off.

When I came home from the office with the mandate to work from home on March 24, Phil ordered me a second monitor. My workstation at the office has two monitors and we have enough applications open that it really does make things easier. The second monitor arrived on Friday and we set it up after I finished work for the day. After that, I was toast, but I’d planned not to write Friday through Sunday every week in March, anyway, so I didn’t think I would fall too far behind. But I’d already missed Wednesday. The workday was chaotic and the more I tried to finish up and pack up and move home, the more stuff happened that prevented me from doing so.

So, I didn’t write Friday or Saturday and when I got back to it on Monday, my progress was not what I’d hoped.

MarchProgress

All this to say that I fell short on my drafting goals for the month again. Of my 13,702-word goal, I wrote 11,689 words, or 85%.

I blew my blogging goal away with my massive review of the split worlds series last month and wrote 5,396 words, or 144% of my 3,750-word goal.

I wrote my latest Speculations column in 1,285 words, or 129% of my 1,000-word goal. It should be coming out this week, so you can look forward to that.

I also revised a short story. There wasn’t as much revision as I’d thought. There was a lot more cutting than writing. I ended up writing 240 new words and cutting close to a thousand. I set myself a 250-word goal for the revision and accomplished 96% of it. I don’t count words cut.

I submitted the revised story to an SF magazine for their open reading period. Wish my words luck.

I received some awesome news that five of my speculative poems have been accepted for publication. I’ll be able to tell you more about that when they’re actually coming out. Stay tuned.

I also finished a critique for one of my partners in the online group and found the time to wrangle all the information I needed to submit our taxes. Yay me 🙂

Interestingly, at 18,370 of my total writing goal of 18,452 words, I came in at 99%. Between writing and revision, I accomplished 98% of my goals. I’ll take it.

Overall, I’m pleased with what I was able to accomplish this month, all things considered.

Filling the well

You wouldn’t think that I’d have anything to report here. You’d be wrong 😉

I’ve recently joined a Facebook group run by Lauren Carter and she organized an online reading through Zoom. I got to read poetry along with other poets, memoirists, non-fiction writers, and other novelists from all over North America. It was lovely and supporting and just the thing I needed.

What I’ve been watching and reading

March’s viewing included Locke & Key. Phil and I enjoyed it and are glad that the series in being renewed. We classified it as horror lite because of the juvenile protagonists. Although there was a truly horrific backstory that cropped up again in later episodes, it wasn’t overwhelming. The twist wasn’t terribly twisty, though. We had it figured out before the reveal. We liked the effects of the various keys and are looking forward to what the show has in store for next season.

We also burned through Altered Carbon. Season two takes place several centuries after the first. Takeshi Kovacs and Poe have travelled all over the known universe in search of Quellchrist Falconer and Tak has worn many different sleeves. The show opens on a scene in a lounge and the singer is Tak’s latest sleeve. She’s killed and Tak’s stack is taken. A virtual meeting with his new “employer” sees Tak lured into a protection detail in return for information on Quell. The bad news? Tak is back on Harlan’s World, the hellhole he and Poe escaped at the end of season one.

When he’s resleeved in Anthony Mackie’s buff body, Tak wakes to the chaos of his new employer’s assassination, which he is promptly framed for. Poe has meanwhile degraded because he refuses to relinquish his “memories” of Lizzie from season one. He glitches dangerously and seems to have an AI version of Alzheimer’s, often forgetting what he was saying, what he was doing, and where he is. The only “cure” is to reboot, resetting him to his factory state. Poe, of course, resists this because he would not only forget Lizzie, but Tak and all the adventures they’ve shared.

I highly recommend this one.

We also watched Aquaman (finally). Eye-candy aside, it was okay. Pretty standard DCEU fare.

This month’s reading started off with Robert J. Sawyer’s Calculating God. This was an older novel, published in 2000, and centers on an alien who comes to Earth, and specifically to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in search of a paleontologist because God seems to be engineering the apocalypse. Sawyer plays with the idea that civilizations only evolve to the point where they either begin to colonize other planets, or they destroy themselves. Add to this the controversial idea of intelligent design. The aliens believe in God and that everything in the universe had been planned and balanced in such a way as to to create life in multiple forms and to direct its evolution.

Two alien species have joined forces to investigate the apparent destruction or disappearance of several other civilizations. Some have, in fact, destroyed themselves. Some have taken refuge in virtual existence to avoid destroying themselves. And one travels to a remote sector of the galaxy for mysterious reasons. An impending supernova (of Betelgeuse, no less) threatens Earth and the other two alien species and the aliens want to join forces with humans to solve the mystery. Thomas Jericho struggles with the aliens’ belief in God because he has lung cancer that’s going to kill him.

A secondary plot devised by two fundamentalist Christians who want to show us Godless Canadians how wrong we are complicates matters. The bombing of a nearby abortion clinic is only a prelude to their main attraction: destroying the ROM’s collection of Precambrian fossils. The ticking clock is threefold. Will the terrorists destroy the fossils, and everyone in the vicinity; will the cancer kill Jericho and doom the interstellar mission to potential failure; or will the supernova make it all pointless?

Sawyer has often said that his stories are, at heart, about optimism. Calculating God is no exception.

Next, I read Ed Willett’s Spirit Singer. The titular character, Amarynth, begins the novel as apprentice to her grandfather. A spirit singer’s job is to sing the souls of the dead into the afterlife, but there’s something wrong. A malevolent presence haunts the between world. It stalks and kills her grandfather, stranding the souls of the people of their village, and Amarynth doesn’t yet know enough to assume his duties. She must find help.

It was a decent YA fantasy, but nothing surprising.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi was another story. A heist plot set in 19th Century Paris in an alternate world in which Babel Fragments endow people with magic. There’s political intrigue and manipulation and a cast of characters that I loved. Not going to say much more because y’all should read this one for yourselves.

Aliette de Bodard’s The Tea Master and the Detective is not what you might expect from the title. The tea master is a disenfranchised ship mind who’s lost her crew and is trying to make ends meet by brewing “teas,” which seem to be neurochemical enhancers. The detective is one of ship mind’s clients who solves mysteries for fun. The mystery she draws the ship mind into? That of a young woman who seems to have voluntarily exposed herself to the deep spaces.

My classical selection of the month was Moby Dick. This was basically Melville’s love letter to the American whaling industry. The story itself could have been told in a small fraction of the words, but the novel is also a palimpsest. Every event becomes a story within the story. And then there’s the chapters on the categorization of whales, the difference between whale oil and spermaceti. I didn’t hate the book, but it was entirely too long.

Finally, I read Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes. I remember when it was being released that someone said it would be the next Game of Thrones. Not quite, but it was an enjoyable read. The characters were engaging, but I did get a little irritated by the duelling love triangles. The world building was excellent, and I have moved on to reading the second in the series.

And that 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.

The Next Chapter

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, March 8-14, 2020

There’s enough information on the interwebz about covid-19. I don’t need to add to the deluge here. But I have assembled a nice batch of resources to get your mental corm popping.

Joe looks at daylight saving time and whether it’s still a good idea. It’s okay to be smart

Katie Weeman: time has no meaning at the North Pole. Scientific American

Maria Popova: how Kepler invented science fiction and defended his mother in a witchcraft trial while revolutionizing our understanding of the universe. Brain Pickings

Stephanie Vozza explains how to tap into your brain’s four attention states to get more done. Fast Company

Tom Lamont tells the incredible tale of Dominic Van Allen, the homeless man who built a life underground. The Guardian

Jessica Stewart announces that a 100-year-old illustrated herbal has been available online since 2017. My Modern Met

When the Sahara was green. PBS Eons

Research shows that Mangrove conservation will pay for itself in flood protection. Phys.org

Sarah Keartes shares super macro photos that reveal the magical world of the tiniest creatures of the sea. Yes. It’s old, but it’s just so dang beautiful! Earth Touch News

Greta Keenan shares a recording of fish singing a dawn chorus on reefs just like birds. New Scientist

The Mind Circle shares pictures of Japanese and Siberian dwarf flying squirrels because they’re the cutest animals on the planet (!)

Ze Frank offers some true facts on the freaky nudebranchs.

Thanks for visiting. I hope you found something to inspire your next creative project (or at least entertain you).

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

ThoughtyThursday2019

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Aug 25-31, 2019

You’ve made it this far through the week. Reward yourself. Get your mental corn popping!

Jennifer Walter explains that, to our brains, it doesn’t matter whether we read or listen. Discover

Gregory Barber: what science fiction can teach computer science about ethics. Wired

SciShow explains how projects for living on Mars can improve life on Earth (from climate change to affordable and recyclable homes).

Deborah Netburn shows you how the world can cut food waste in half. LA Times

Jeff Goodell wonders, can we survive extreme heat? Rolling Stone

Nithin Coca: as the Amazon burns, Indonesia shows the world how to fight forest fires. Ozy

Caroline Riseboro: why we’re losing ground in the fight for gender equality. TEDXDonMills

Dan Nosowitz says, respect the hammock, one of humanity’s greatest creations. Atlas Obscura

Michael Greshko explains how this “unprecedented” skull reveals the face of a human ancestor. National Geographic

Dr. Becky explains the proof of dark matter’s existence.

SciShow Space considers the propulsive potential of the Hall Thruster.

Then, SciShow Space news announces the collision of a black hole and a neutron star detected by LIGO and VIRGO plus, progress on the Europa Clipper mission.

Emma Taggart shows us artistically arranged time slice photos that display the stages of a total solar eclipse. My Modern Met

M.R. O’Connor experiences a day in the life of a tree. The New Yorker

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found some inspiration to feed into your current of next creative project.

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

ThoughtyThursday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 18-24, 2019

Ack! We’re in the last week of August! The weather’s still holding though. I, for one, am going to extend summer for as long as I can.

Whether you’re heading back to school or work, take some time to enjoy these informal writerly learnings 🙂

Vaughn Roycroft talks story endings: happy or sad or something else? Kathleen McCleary considers the values of good fiction. Writer Unboxed

Christina Delay extolls the power of the writing tribe. Then, Jenny Hansen covers the writer hierarchy of needs. Margie Lawson wants you to strive for excellence by using what you learn. Writers in the Storm

K.M. Weiland: how to tell if your story has too much plot, not enough character. Helping Writers Become Authors

Joanna Penn interviews Cat Rose about being a creative introvert. The Creative Penn

Roz Morris offers seven swift storytelling hacks for backstory, description, dialogue, exposition, point of view, and plot. Nail Your Novel

Victoria Mixon takes a different approach to character motivation. Then, September C. Fawkes shares four keys to a powerful denouement. Writers Helping Writers

Jenna Moreci compares static and dynamic characters.

Abigail K. Perry delves into James Scott Bell’s eleventh signpost scene: lights out. Brenda Joyce Patterson takes a deep dive into playwriting. Then Bethany Henry offers five tips for creating engaging characters. DIY MFA

Janice Hardy explains how to write a scene (and what qualifies as a scene). Fiction University

Jami Gold hopes you take a leap of faith in fiction and in life.

Oren Ashkenazi analyses seven stories with contrived character conflict. Mythcreants

William R. Leibowitz details his research for his latest novel: using facts as the base of science fiction. Writer’s Digest

Laurie Penny says, we can be heroes: how nerds are reinventing pop culture. A story about stories, fanfic, structure, the hero’s journey, and awesome. Wired

Thanks for visiting. I’ll be back on Thursday with some thoughty links for you.

Until then, be well.

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 11-17, 2019

It’s time to dig into another week’s worth of informal writerly learnings 🙂

Elizabeth A. Harvey is remembering Toni Morrison. Then, Nancy Johnson shows us how Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye offers a masterclass in craft. Porter Anderson: murders she didn’t write, a provocation on writers in the context of real world gun violence. Rheea Mukherjee: negotiating social privilege as a writer. Jim Dempsey wants you to explore the wonders of your character’s world view. Sarah Callender forgets to remember that writing is an act of faith. Writer Unboxed

Jenna Moreci helps you get back into the writing habit after a break.

C.S. Lakin visits Helping Writers Become Authors: how to evoke reader emotions with “surprisingness.” Then, she heads over to Larry Brook’s Storyfix to explain how to effectively “tell” emotions in fiction.

Emily Wenstrom offers three tips for creating your author newsletter before you’re published. And here’s my latest column: find storytelling inspiration with the women of the Kalevala. Constance Emmett shares five tips for surviving rejection. DIY MFA

Lisa Hall-Wilson shares four ways to go deeper with point of view. Then, Laura Drake starts with character first. Writers in the Storm

Michelle Barker wants you to remember that the wand chooses the wizard. Writers Helping Writers

Janice Hardy explains why you want nitpicky critiquers. Fiction University

Robert Lee Brewer explains the difference between slight of hand and sleight of hand. Writer’s Digest

Some reassuring advice from Chris Winkle: why you shouldn’t worry about someone stealing your manuscript. Then, Oren Ashkenazi offers advice on choosing naval tactics for your pre-gunpowder world. Mythcreants

Sam Bleicher offers some unusual writing tips on dealing with facts in science fiction. The Creative Penn

Ferris Jabr: the story of storytelling. Harper’s

Thanks for visiting. Come back on Thursday for some thoughty.

Until then, be well!

Tipsday2019