Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Oct 10-16, 2021

This week’s batch of informal writerly learnings is loaded with writerly goodness 🙂

Stephanie Bwa Bwa shows you how to grow your email list (and your influence). Later in the week, Helena Hunting is finding work-life balance as a full-time author. Then, Brian Leung shares five tips for finding the kind genius writer in your mad genius writer. DIY MFA

Tim Hickson reveals the true ending of Lord of the Rings. Hello, Future Me

Janice Hardy explains how narrative distance affects telling: how far is too far? Then, Dario Ciriello waxes on the importance of commas, meter, and reading aloud for the fiction writer (with help from Cordia Pearson). Fiction University

Jill Bearup takes issue with The Guardian’s list of the top 20 duels.

Tiffany Yates Martin explains why you can’t stop thinking about “Bad Art Friend.” Then, Jim Dempsey is telling the truth in fiction. Kathleen McCleary: when you’re the passive protagonist of your own writing life. Then, Kathryn Craft wants you to make your big issue work through story (part 1). Anne Brown: spiders, snakes, public speaking, and querying agents. Later in the week, Kelsey Allagood explains why you should tackle that ambitious dream project now. Writer Unboxed

Shaelin tells you everything you need to know about publishing your short fiction. Reedsy

K.M. Weiland introduces us to the archetypal antagonists of the mage arc: evil and the weakness of humankind. Helping Writers Become Authors

Sarah Tinsley shares seven ways to create an empathetic antagonist. Live, Write, Thrive

Lori Freeland helps you figure out whether to comma, or not to comma (part 1). Then Piper Bayard lets us peek through a window into the top four organizations (writing spies). Lynette M. Burrows wants you to discover your writing strengths (and weaknesses). Writers in the Storm

On her own channel, Shaelin helps you handle rejection. Shaelin Writes

Angela Ackerman asks: who’s standing in your character’s way? Jane Friedman

Nathan explains how to make your novel un-put-down-able. Then, Christine Pride shares what she learned about writing from being an editor. Nathan Bransford

Piper Bayard shows you how to write the good fight. Then, she provides a writer’s guide to knowing your weapon. Kristen Lamb

The anti-Disney messaging of … Disney movies. The Take

Chris Winkle explains how to create a mysterious atmosphere. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes six magic powers that writers had to ignore. Mythcreants

Kristin Nelson makes the case that content creators deserve a larger slice of the earnings pie. Pub Rants

Maria Tatar discusses her new book Heroine with a 1,001 Faces with Moira Weigel. Harvard Book Store

Wab Kinew reflects on Canada Reads and the meaning of reconciliation. CBC Books

Three northern Ontario writers in the running for the Governor General’s Awards. CBC

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

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Oct 3-9, 2021

A belated Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian readers! It’s time to indulge in some informal writerly learnings. Enjoy!

K.M. Weiland presents the archetypal antagonists of the crone arc: death blight and tempter. Helping Writers Become Authors

Greer Macallister seeks success without self-promotion. Then Jeanne Kisacky is walking the line between insanity and perseverance. Donald Maass reveals the secret of passive protagonists: seeking vs. suffering. Nancy Johnson: the blessed curse of the second book. Then, David Corbett discusses the character in secret search of midnight. Writer Unboxed

Jill Bearup made armor. In a cave shed. From a box of scraps.

Karen DeBonis helps you navigate a story identity crisis. Then, Eldred Bird wonders, what (the heck) is a MacGuffin? Jenny Hansen: writing and the law of loss aversion. Writers in the Storm

Shaelin helps you edit your short story. Reedsy

Angela Ackerman says, if you want powerful conflict, you can’t forget the stakes. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Then, over on Jami Gold’s blog, Angela explains how to write conflict without “bad guys.”

Bethany Henry is making magic systems that work and wow. Fiction University

Why fat phobia is still a problem onscreen. The Take

E.J. Wenstrom presents book promotion graphics for newbies. Then, Sara Farmer looks at some modern girl detectives. Maan Gabriel shares hacks to combat writer’s block and develop discipline. Then, Jane Elizabeth Hughes offers five tips for writing a historical mystery. DIY MFA

Seth Harwood says, your writing matters; a coach can help. Jane Friedman

The Bond Girl, her secret, and her future. The Take

Chris Winkle explains how to keep mysteries from looking like mistakes. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five stories that break their worlds’ themes. Mythcreants

Lindsay Syhakhom: writing and the art of surrender. Nathan Bransford

Allison Flood celebrates Abdulrazak Gurnah’s 2021 Nobel Prize in literature win. The Guardian

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress.

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

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Sept 26-Oct 2, 2021

Welcome to October, my favourite month of the year 🙂 It’s all informal writerly learning treats and no tricks, all month long.

Erika Liodice explores the creative connection between travel and writing. Then, Robin LaFevers is navigating self-doubt. Jennie Nash recommends seven business books every writer should read. Then, Julie Carrick Dalton advises you about knowing when NOT to write. Deanna Cabinian examines the time vs. productivity paradox. Writer Unboxed

Kristen Lamb shares five simple ways to finish a book by making (not finding) time. Then, Cait Reynolds wonders, is podcasting the new blog? Kristen Lamb

Tim Hickson talks soft worldbuilding. Hello, Future Me

K.M. Weiland introduces us to the archetypal antagonists for the king arc: cataclysm and rebel. Helping Writers Become Authors

Susan DeFreitas: can fiction make a difference in the world? Jane wonders whether Black voices in publishing is a trend or a movement. Then, Jane considers what authors earn from digital lending at libraries. Jane Friedman

Shaelin helps you draft a short story. Reedsy

Following up on her last instalment on planting bugs, Piper Bayard explains how to find bugs (writing spies). Then, Kris Maze compares pros and cons of using Scrivener and Plottr for outlining. Writers in the Storm

Elizabeth Spann Craig looks at the pros and cons of outlining.

Death worms: fact or fiction? Monstrum | PBS Storied

Joanna Penn and Mark Leslie Lefebvre discuss co-authoring The Relaxed Writer. The Creative Penn

Nathan Bransford explains when to get feedback on your novel. Then, Shalene Gupta reveals how to make and keep writer friends. Nathan Bransford

Richelle Lyn is challenging a genre identity crisis. Then, T.J. Torres offers some advice for committed BIPOC writers. DIY MFA

The “white trash” trope and its hidden agenda. The Take

Sofia Jeppsson clears up seven misconceptions about madness and psychosis. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five movies critics loved but audiences hated. Mythcreants

Richard Marpole says that you’re writing medieval fantasy wrong. Fantasy Faction

Kristin Nelson reveals the connection between velocity, volume, interval, and the New York Times Bestseller List. Then, Angie Hodapp reveals that genre isn’t everything and high concept isn’t king. Pub Rants

How to tell she’s definitely not a Mary Sue. The Take

All the LOLs: the hilarious dictionary of Finnish language and culture. Design You Trust

Allison Flood announces that Laura Jean McKay wins the Arthur C. Clarke Award. The Guardian

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

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

The next chapter: September 2021 update

Another month gone. Le sigh.

Here in Canada, we had a federal election that changed nothing, our first Truth and Reconciliation Day, and a slew of continuing political scandals and health crises. We’re still in dumpster fire territory.

Your monthly PSAs:

All lives cannot matter until BIPOC lives matter.

Please continue to wash your hands, mask in public places, maintain physical distance, and if you haven’t been fully vaccinated yet, please do so, soonest. And get your flu shot, too. It’s forecast to be a narsty flu year now that reopening is happening and kids are back in school.

The month in writing

The month in writing kinda wasn’t. I’ll get to the why of it in the next section. Suffice it to say, I didn’t write for more than half the month.

It’s probably not surprising, then, that of the 10,000 words I’d hoped to revise/rewrite on Reality Bomb, I only managed 5,056 words, or 51% of goal.

I revised a whole 82 words of my 500-word short fiction goal, or 16%.

The only thing that I kept up with was blogging. I blogged 5,301 words of my 3,750-word goal. 141%. I’ll take it.

My latest Speculations came out mid-month.

And that’s about it.

I’m slowly getting back into the groove. I’m not stressing when I have too much going on to pay proper attention to writing. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.

Filling the well

I attended three virtual writing-related events in September. First, I took part in Suzy Vadori’s virtual writers’ retreat Sept 10 – 14, which was flexible enough to fit in around work.

Then, CanWrite! 2021 and FiyahCon were both on the same weekend. Fortunately, I was able to watch the FiyahCon panels I missed in replay. So, it wasn’t terribly stressful. I caught Terry Fallis’s and Farzana Doctor’s sessions at CanWrite! and that was really what I wanted to catch.

I went out to my sister-in-law’s for an outdoor family BBQ. Phil made the burgers. Ger made fresh-cut fries. My mom made a three-bean salad, and Steph made the BEST cherry pie EVAR.

In health-related news … there was a lot.

After the end of my acting, I returned to my position as an instructional designer on a short week, which was made even shorter by a dental checkup and taking my overtime as compensatory time. I still wasn’t feeling quite right, though. I had a doctor’s appointment the following Monday, and I got a sick note for two weeks off work.

While I was off, I took care of some other stuff (shingles vaccine 1 of 2, blood work, orthotic check, that kind of thing).

I’ve also been trying to find myself a therapist. I think I’d really benefit from having someone to help my navigate this sea-change in my life. There’s really no one who specializes in women who are diagnosed as autistic later in life. At least not locally. I have some feelers out, thanks to a friend, but I haven’t heard back yet.

I’ve been using the quality of my sleep, the amount and nature of my rumination, and my relative level of brain fog as my barometers. My sleep has improved—I’m dreaming non-work-related dreams—I’m not ruminating about my work-related failures, but most mornings I’m still foggy.

I was back at work last week and it was really hard.

This weekend has been restorative, though.

A little morning halo for you.

What I’m watching and reading

I’m going to short-form my list this month because I watched a lot in my time off, and a number of mid-season series finished their runs. My reading’s back on track as well.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. The whole season could be summed up by saying … and wackiness ensues. John Constantine’s arc was a bit dark, but the rest was so outlandish that I couldn’t take anything seriously.

The Flash was its usual schmaltz.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier wasn’t as bad as I was led to believe. Yes, there were obvious gaffes that resulted from rewriting and reshooting during a pandemic to avoid a viral subplot, but I enjoyed it.

I May Destroy You was brilliant, but traumatic to watch.

Fleabag was similar but not quite as traumatic.

Black Lightning finished its run in typical DC fashion. Tobias Whale is dead, and everyone is ready for their HEA except poor painkiller, who had to forget he ever knew the Pierces as the cost of removing his kill order on them.

I also watched three movies.

Soul was quite good, as Pixar movies tend to be.

Amazon’s take on Cinderella was an interesting twist [SPOILERS], with Ella’s desire to be a fashion designer causing the prince to abdicate and follow his heart.

Raya and the Last Dragon was another show that I felt was better than some reviews made it out to be. The ending made me teary. Yup. I’m a sap.

Finally, I watched The Death Cure. I’d seen the ending before, so I knew what was going to happen, but I watched it anyway. The thing that got me was that there was evidence in the second Maze Runner movie that showed Thomas’s blood had curative properties, but nobody figured it out. They could have saved Newt. His death was pointless. A lot of the character deaths were.

I finished or read six books in September.

First was Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord. Wonderful storytelling. It was an easygoing story with an uplifting ending.

[SPOILERS] Rebecca Roanhorse’s Black Sun was interesting, but it would appear that the two main characters are dead at the end. I wonder how the author’s going to walk that back.

[SPOILERS] M.R. Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts was typically post-apocalyptic. In the end, all the humans die but the teacher, and she gets to teach the hungry kids, who are apparently the evolutionary future of the human race.

I enjoyed Ashley Shuttleworth’s A Dark and Hollow Star despite the rampant infodumping. The world; the connections between the seelie and unseelie fae, fairies, ironborn, gods, and titans; the interplay of science and magic, kind of required it. And I liked that it was partly set in Toronto.

Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi was the perfect read for my recovery. Short and yet complex. Gentle and kind and even if the ending isn’t particularly happy, it’s hopeful. LOVED.

Finally, Bethany C. Morrow’s A Chorus Rising focuses on Naema Bradshaw, the secondary antagonist from A Song Below Water. A deep dive into what social media and being an influencer can do to a person … until she gets a reality check in the form of her true nature as an Eloko.

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

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

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Sept 19-25, 2021

September’s almost over (!) Not keen on how time warps these days. In any case, another week has passed and here’s another batch of informal writerly learnings 🙂 Enjoy!

Lauren J. Sharkey is fighting imposter syndrome: faker. Then, Adam W. Burgess explains why LGBTQ+ fiction writers need to read LGBTQ+ history. Tammy Pasterick is writing about the immigrant experience. Then, Heather Campbell lists five things she wished she knew about writing a novel. DIY MFA

Shaelin shows you how to conceptualize a short story. Reedsy

Vaughn Roycroft: a writer’s senses working overtime. Then, Dave King is world building through architecture. Alma Katsu: what to expect when your novel is reissued. Then, Heather Webb gives us the 411 on writing retreats. Liz Michalski: space and shadows. Then, Desmond Hall drops some more writing wisdom on us. Bite-sized writerly learnings #FTW! Writer Unboxed

On her own channel, Shaelin shares everything you need to know about writing workshops. Shaelin Writes

K.M. Weiland presents the archetypal antagonists for the queen arc. Helping Writers Become Authors

Lisa Norman lists five reasons tech can’t replace editors. Then, Lisa Hall-Wilson offers her best pro tip for writing deep POV. Ellen Buikema shares five things kids taught her about writing. Writers in the Storm

Erica Brozovsky shares 60 euphemisms for death. Otherwords | PBS Storied

How much do I need to describe my character’s appearance? Lucy V. Hay has answers. Then, Becca Puglisi says, if you need compelling conflict, choose a variety. Writers Helping Writers

Tiffany Watson explains how to format your manuscript for a designer or publisher. Then, Allison K. Williams explains what it takes to be a freelance editor. Jane Friedman

Why do people think Huck Finn is racist? It’s Lit | PBS Storied

Kristine Kathryn Rusch: comparison is the thief of joy.

Lindsay Syhakhom explains how to protect your manuscript from computer meltdowns and hackers. Nathan Bransford

Love, according to Studio Ghibli. The Take

Chris Winkle shows you how to create an elemental magic system. Oren Ashkenazi: how useful are Neil Gaiman’s eight rules of writing? Mythcreants

Kristen Lamb tackles brave new writing and learning to think outside the book.

Jason Asenap: Reservation Dogs is just the beginning of an Indigenous storytelling explosion. Esquire

Monisha Rajesh: pointing out racism in books is not an attack—it’s a call for industry reform. The Guardian

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: Informal writerly learnings, Aug 29-Sept 4, 2021

Welcome to another week of informal writerly learnings! Notice the change in the title of this curation. After years of writerly goodness found on the interwebz, I thought it was time for a change.

Yuvi Zalkow writes his acknowledgements. Then, Tom Bentley considers purple prose and the word surgeon’s scalpel. Donald Maass is creating character safety zones. Then, Grace Wynter interviews Yasmin Angoe—just one more thing. Liza Nash Taylor shares some event tips ‘n’ tricks for the vain, shallow, and/or insecure. Writer Unboxed

Loki, the MCU, and narcissism. Lindsay Ellis

K.M. Weiland indicates the six archetypal antagonists for each of the six archetypal character arcs. Helping Writers Become Authors

Savannah Cordova explains why reading short fiction is the best thing you can do for your writing. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Main character syndrome: why you should be self-centred. The Take

September C. Fawkes takes a closer look at person vs. fate conflict. Then, Angela Ackerman recommends you tap this powerful source if your story needs more conflict. Writers Helping Writers

Anita Ramirez has a finished manuscript—now what? Angela Yeh: chasing my muse. Cheryl Grey Bostrom says that tone of voice is more than personality. Then, Kim Catanzarite shares five ways to turn your plot into a page-turner. DIY MFA

Janice Hardy lists five ways your story hurts your novel. Then, James R. Preston shares his thoughts about point of view: myth vs. reality. Writers in the Storm

Shaelin Bishop shows you how to structure your book without an outline. Shaelin Writes

Chris Winkle wonders, how can writers make description evocative? Then, Oren Ashkenazi looks at five villains with contrived wins. Mythcreants

Kristen Lamb challenges you to pitch your entire story in one sentence with a log line.

Shanna Swendson wants you to try these tricks if you’re struggling with writer burnout. Fiction University

Black Swan: a cautionary tale about perfectionism. The Take

Jane Friedman likes Substack, but the PR is getting ridiculous.

Jessica Singer: BookTok’s novel approach to books is helping Canadian authors and retailers reach new audiences. CBC Books

Thank you for taking the time to visit. 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: August 2021 update

There’s something about the quality of the light in September that I love. The position of the sun in the sky, its later rising as we near the autumnal equinox. They instil peace and evoke memories of happy times in my life. Lying in my bed with the light flooding into my room as a gentle nudge to waking. Sitting on a covered porch in a comfy chair, wrapped in a sweater, with a cup of tea and my journal, writing. Solitary moments when I felt wholly myself.

I hope you find some joy in the season, too.

Before we get to the update, here are my monthly PSA’s:

All lives cannot matter until BIPOC lives matter.

Keep washing your hands, wearing a mask in public, maintaining social distance, and, if you haven’t been fully vaccinated yet, please get on that, won’t you? Delta’s still raging and new variants are on the horizon.

The month in writing

August started off well, writing-wise, but something happened (more on that in filling the well) that sent my train off the rails. Originally, I’d set myself an ambitious goal (as you do), but around the middle of the month, I realized I wasn’t even going to come close. I adjusted down and still didn’t reach it.

Of my 10,000-word goal, I wrote 6,703 words, or 67%.

I wrote my next Speculations. 1,080 words, or 108% of my 1,000-word goal.

I wrote 5,385 words on this blog. That’s 144% of my 3,750-word goal.

I worked on a couple of pieces of short fiction, trying to get them ready for open calls, but that fell by the wayside after mid-month as well.

Filling the well

The three writerly events I attended in August were closely clustered. I signed up for Fonda Lee’s Revision Boot Camp, on August 12th. It was offered in conjunction with When Words Collide, which was free and ran from August 13th to the 15th. On Saturday the 14th, I also attended Margaret Dunlap’s Demystifying Outlines offered through the Rambo Writing Academy.

It was a packed weekend, and I didn’t get to attend as many WWC sessions as I would have liked, but they will be coming out on their YouTube channel. Eventually.

Torvi on kiltti koira. Yes. I’m still enjoying learning Finnish.

So … the thing that happened.

For the month of August (August 3rd to September 3rd, actually—so five weeks) I was acting for my team lead in instructional design. I was the project manager for everything my team was working on, including a very important and time-sensitive project (henceforth known as the VITSP) that had to be completed. I knew it would be challenging and had booked the last two days of July off, leading into a long weekend, for a nice break to muster my resources.

Unfortunately, in the two working days I was off, the scope of the VITSP changed drastically. Originally, we were to have the learning products published on our learning management system (LMS) on the 9th of September. Now, it was to be published August 27th. That was two weeks cut from our timeline.

The instructions I was left with indicated that we would have to have the validated and translated documents for the self-instructional modules (SIMs) in the week of August 16th, so that we could edit, send for review and approval, convert to PDF documents, and submit them to our technical partners for posting to the LMS in time for the due date.

My first meeting of that first day of my acting made it clear that the SIMs would not be validated and translated until August 25th or 26th. I panicked. But I couldn’t be seen to be panicking. Add to this the fact that my manager was also absent for most of the week, and I was spiralling.

I tried to power through, but I found even thinking difficult. I couldn’t seem to make a decision (a deadly shortcoming in project management), and I certainly couldn’t articulate what was happening to me. My brain literally could not brain.

On the evening of August 12th, the situation had been diffused sufficiently that my brain began to brain again. What I was experiencing was related to my autism. Had I had some kind of meltdown? I did some research over the weekend and learned that what I’d experienced was called autistic burnout. I’ll let you click through if you want to find out more about it.

The best remedy for autistic burnout is rest. Unfortunately, I did not have that option, so I powered through. The brief rest of weekends was insufficient for recovery. I was plagued by insomnia, spent hours ruminating about the mistakes that resulted from my autistic burnout.

Proactive about my mental health as I am, I again reached out to my employer’s employee assistance program (EAP). After two weeks of playing phone tag, however, I gave up on the idea of getting counselling support. People were probably on holidays and demand exceeded supply. I only had one week remaining in my acting assignment, anyway, and the crisis would likely be over by the time we finally connected.

I explained to my manager and critical partners what was happening, and the situation improved. But it was still extremely stressful.

Somehow, I managed to get the VITSP done on time, but not without days of foregoing proper breaks and lunch, working overtime, and shaking like I was standing naked in a snowstorm.

I’m still not fully recovered, but I have a doctor’s appointment on the 13th. I’ll see if I can get some support then. I also have a couple days of leave coming up and will take my overtime as compensatory leave. I’ll make it through, but I’m still feeling foggy.

I tried to persist in writing, because my creative pursuits are one of the things that bring me joy but bullying through wasn’t serving me. The quality of my work was not satisfactory. So, I’ve stepped away from writing, too. I’m trying to be kind to myself.

What I’m watching and reading

Due to the above difficulties, my reading and watching habits have suffered as well. Concentration is hard, right now, so I have less than usual to report for August.

In the watching department, I only finished two series.

First, I watched the series finale of The Good Witch. It’s a positive and uplifting kind of series, and the last season was no exception. Though the writers tried to insert some romantic tension and uncertainty, nearly everyone paired off by the final episode. After a brief disconnect about Sam’s workaholic nature (aside from the season’s big arc of the red haloed moon), he retired and embarked on a world tour with Cassie.

Joy ends up with her girlfriend, Zoey, who was nearly frightened off when she discovered that Joy was a witch. Adam and Stephanie get back together, and even George gets a love interest. But Abigail and Donovan, who were engaged to be married, abruptly call it off. What about her happily ever after? And her flower shop is in danger from a big floral chain that’s moved into town. It seems that there’s more story to tell. Too bad the series was cancelled.

I also watched the end of the first season of Superman and Lois. It was a short season, because pandemic, I suspect, but it was typical DC network fare. Clark and Lois are devoted partners and the parents of two boys. Clark is fired from the Daily Planet and Lois quits because of the new owner of the paper, Morgan Edge. They move to Smallville after Martha dies.

Jonathan and Jordan, their sons, are day and night. Jonathan is the golden boy, popular, QB on the football team, and otherwise typical teen. He adjusts poorly to small town life, having left his girlfriend behind in Metropolis. Jordan is shy and awkward and plagued with social anxiety. It’s a surprise to no one and everyone when Jordan turns out to be the one who inherits Kal-El’s powers.

I really liked John Henry Irons.

I only finished reading three books in August.

The first was We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia. The book starts with the origin story of the land of Medio. It establishes the social contract between men and women, as well as the class structure of the island nation. In Medio, every affluent man is married to two women. His Primera manages his household and is his intellectual and political partner. His Segunda is his social partner and bears his children.

Daniella is about to graduate from Medio School for Girls and enter into her marriage contract as a Primera when she is approached by a member of a resistance group who blackmails her into spying on her new husband for them. His price? Silence about her impoverished background and family.

It was definitely a heroine’s journey novel, a la Gail Carriger. Dani has little power throughout the novel, and it’s only her compassion and desire to do right that allows her to prevail. It’s also an enemies to allies to lovers story between Dani and her Segunda. I enjoyed it.

Then, I read Nancy Springer’s The Case of the Missing Marquess. Yes, the novel that inspired the Enola Holmes movie. I attended a literary event back in the spring that featured Springer, and everything she said about the adaptation was true. It was a short, but lovely story, and Enola is much more resourceful in the novel. She has to be. Basilwether is also much younger, so no romance in the book.

Finally, I read P. Djèlí Clark’s A Master of Djinn. Loved! I’ve heard some negative things around the interwebz, but I loved the story. I loved Fatma. I loved the world. Read this book. I will say no more.

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

Until tomorrow, be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 15-21, 2021

You’ve made it through Monday! Reward yourself with some informal writerly learnings 🙂

Vaughn Roycroft is living with unpublished characters. Then, Barbara O’Neal is finding the particular. Barbara Linn Probst considers writing: is it an art, identity, or profession? Why not all three? Later in the week, Porter Anderson gets provocative about flights of self-censorship. Then, Kelsey Allagood explains how creation myths affect character motivation. Writer Unboxed

Princess Weekes explains how true crime reveals the corruption and failures of the legal system. Melina Pendulum

K.M. Weiland explains why you should always identify your characters, pronto. Helping Writers Become Authors

Jane (herself) says, the value of book distribution is often misunderstood by authors. Then, Tiffany Yates Martin shares the secret to a tight, propulsive plot: the want, the action, the shift. Sangeeta Mehta interviews agents Michelle Brower and Jennifer Chen Tran about whether you should publish with a small press. Jane Friedman

Related: E.J. Wenstrom shares what she’s learned in six years of small press publishing. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Story structures: In medias res. Reedsy

Melinda VanLone offers some advice for branding a series. Then, Lisa Norman lists seven things every author website needs. Miffie Seideman offers some helpful advice on writing about drugs: Fentanyl 101. Writers in the Storm

Andrea Turrentine shares two key factors in successfully outlining stories. Live, Write, Thrive

Rayne Hall lists 11 reasons you should submit your short stories to anthologies. Then, Janice Hardy wonders, why ask why? Because your readers will. Bonnie Randall considers the risks and rewards of uncommon narrative structures. Fiction University

Nathan Bransford advises what to cut when your book is too long. Nathan Bransford

Seven-point story structure. Reedsy

Ambre Dawn Lefler wants you to be a conference guru. Then, Susan Francis Morris explains how writing helped her live life after trauma. Later in the week, LA Bourgeois offers five ways to trick yourself into writing. DIY MFA

E.J. Wenstrom explains why we need ADHD representation in fiction. Terribleminds

Christina Delay is breaking free. Writers Helping Writers

Chris Winkle: what do writers need to describe? Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five characters with the wrong skill set. Mythcreants

Why it’s time to write out the nag. The Take

Angie Hodapp introduces us to the trinity of premise, plot, and prose. What happens when one is missing? Then, Kristin Nelson shares 14 reasons why agenting is harder now than it was 20 years ago. Pub Rants

Nina Munteanu: to boldly go where no human has gone before ….

Rebecca Thomas explores Mi’kmaw language in poetry collection: I Place you into the Fire. CBC’s The Next Chapter

Vicky Qiao reports that Ojibway journalist and author Tanya Talaga to write three new nonfiction books. The first will be published in 2023. CBC

Thank you for taking the time to visit. I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress.

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

The next chapter: July 2021 update

Well, I blinked again, and July disappeared … what’s going on with time? Seriously? But it’s August now, and I owe everyone an update.

Before we get to it, your monthly PSAs:

All lives cannot matter until BIPOC lives matter.

Even if you’re fully vaccinated, please continue to wash your hands, wear a mask in public, and maintain social distance. Delta is proving to be a force to be reckoned with. If you’re not fully vaccinated, get on that, won’t you?

The month in writing

The latest round of revisions on Reality Bomb were going well … until I got past the first plot point. Then, I realize that I needed to start over with a different POV. I had been writing it in third person, but after my protagonist becomes a passenger in her alternate self’s body, trying to format their internal conversations was too much for third to handle.

I’d suspected that I might have to make the shift to first person and even asked my critique group about it. I was advised to try it but chickened out. Now I’m paying the price.

The realization hit about the 15th of the month. I took a few days to mourn the work I’d already done and got back at ‘er. Needless to say, RB is going to take a lot longer to revise that I’d hoped.

I revised my revision goal down to 10,000 words, but still only managed 6,564, or 66%.

Work on short fiction has more or less ground to a halt. I put a few words in, here and there, but that’s all the effort I can afford to put into it these days. I wrote/revised another 508 words in my May (MAY!) short story revision. That’s 51% of my adjusted 1,000-word goal.

I blogged 4,813 words of my 3,750-word goal, or 128%.

I changed the colour of the font when I started over. *weeps

Filling the well

I only attended one writerly event in August, but it was a-MA-zing! It was a Writing the Other workshop on character arcs with Stant Litore on July 17th and 18th. I will only say that I immediately bought his two writing craft books. Working with Olivia Wylie (O.E. Tearmann) and the group on our character arcs was a lot of fun and I got some really good feedback.

I went out to my sister-in-law’s this past Friday. We ordered out this time. Ali Baba’s family style. Everyone had a feast and there was enough left over for everyone to take a share home.

In the work world, I received some good news. My original acting was to end July 31st. At the eleventh hour, I was extended to November 30, 2022 (!) Job security—it’s a thing! I’m also filling in for my team lead while she’s on holidays for the next month. I’m a little intimidated, but I’m sure all will go well.

But … things are a bit hectic at work right now. It’s only a problem because it results in fewer spoons remaining at the end of the day. I’m not reading as much (haven’t been for the last couple of months), writing as much, or feeling like I have much time at all for myself. I’m sure things will level out.

I’ve now broken 150 lbs in my weight loss journey. I’m into a size 10 jean. I have done some shopping. More to come, I suspect. Accordingly, I’ve cancelled my Noom account. I think I can take it from here 🙂

I also received a free three-month trial of Duolinguo. So, I’m learning Finnish. Terve! Minä olen Melanie (Hello! I am Melanie). It’s only about 10 minutes a day and will take over the 10 minutes I’ve been spending on the Noom articles.

A rainbow for you.

What I’m watching and reading

In the solo watching department, I finished the last season of Riverdale. Alien abductions and serial killers and prison breaks. Oh, my! I hear that the next season will be the last.

Invincible was extremely bloody (in the way only an animated series can be), but it was also quite good. [HERE BE SPOILERS] The premise: what if a superhero like Superman was sent to Earth to conquer it and was only pretending to protect humanity by way of garnering good will for their new alien overlords? And what if his half-human son, who finally develops his father’s abilities, sides with the humans?

Charmed was okay. While I appreciate the increased diversity of the cast, they haven’t really gone very far off-script. One of the sisters makes the ultimate sacrifice in the season finale, but the newly bereft sisters are told, in Star Wars fashion, there is another …

I really liked Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad. The ending was a little ambiguous, though. I’ll now have to cue up the book in my TBR pile.

With Phil, I watched NOS4A2, based on the Joe Hill novel of the same name. The show was filled with homage to Joe’s dad, Stephen King, and it had a similar feel to King’s adapted work. There were some questions left dangling at the end of season 2, though.

Then, I signed up for Disney+ and we watched WandaVision. I enjoyed it more than Phil. There’s been so much buzz out on the interwebz about it that I don’t think I have to go into details. Suffice it to say, I’m looking forward to future Marvel properties.

And, of course, we watched, and both loved Loki.

I have four books that I finished reading in July (up from three in June—yay?).

The first was Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson. I’d read his second book A Taste of Honey first. By turns literary and grounded. I liked it, but I’m still sitting with what I think about it.

Next was Alechia Dow’s The Sound of Stars. I really liked this one. An alien dissenter and a human rebel team up to overthrow an invasion, the purpose of which is to turn Earth into an alien “all inclusive” resort. The chief attraction? The ability to inhabit humans and live like a native. Of course, the humans can’t have will or intelligence for that to happen.

Then, I read The Hands We’re Given by O.E. Tearmann (and yes, I got the book because I was in Olivia’s workshop group in the WtO class). The book is hard to classify. An LGBTQIA2S+ romantic military science fiction? A post-apocalyptic LGBTQIA2S+ romance? It’s somewhere in there. I quite liked it.

Finally, I read Robert Olen Butler’s From Where You Dream. It’s more of a transcript from one of his classes, than a more traditional writing craft book. I’ve had it on my radar for years because K.M. Weiland refers to it when she talks about dreamzoning. It was a challenge to get my head around Butler’s methodology, for all that he demonstrates it rather than just telling readers what it is. Because it’s not really something that can be told. It has to be experienced.

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

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

The next chapter: June 2021 update

Here we are in July, after a strangely introspective and quiet national holiday—on this side of the border, anyway. I won’t speak for my American friends. With the discovery of nearly a thousand unmarked graves near residential schools, I, and many Canadians of colonist descent, have been examining our collective lack of action with respect to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations.

If you read the calls to action—and I encourage you to—they’re mostly common sense. Ensure that all Indigenous communities have clean water, solid infrastructure, support for health and mental health needs, and so on. Reuniting Indigenous families, doing whatever we can to identify the occupants of unmarked graves, and demanding accountability from the Catholic church (other protestant denominations and the federal government have already apologized, but no further action has been taken) are the least we can do.

And how do we do it? Personal actions are a start, but we can act most powerfully by lobbying our local members of parliament and through voting. If swift action is not taken by the government in power, then we elect a government who will act.

With that, I’ll segue into my usual PSAs:

All lives cannot matter until all BIPOC lives matter.

Wear your masks, wash your hands, and get fully vaccinated. The delta variant wants to undo all our good work. Don’t let it!

The month in writing

The month started out well. I was making headway with Reality Bomb, and once I got the May next chapter update and my Speculations column dealt with, I even manages some more work on the short story I started … in April.

Then work (several days sacrificed to the meeting gods) and meetings (about 10 hours worth) for the Canadian Authors ramped up and my productivity went down.

I set myself a goal of revising 25,000 words on RB but adjusted it down to 20,000 words around the middle of the month. I’m into another section where I’m rewriting, not just revising, now, and most days, I’m lucky if I can get 250 words written. There’s a lot of resistance around this section of rewrite, which is how I know that it has to be done. It’s just taking more time than I’d like.

But I rewrote/revised 16,330 words in June, or 82% or my amended goal, so I’m happy enough.

In short fiction, I revised 567 words, or 38% of my 1,500-word goal. Again, I’ve gotten to the point where it’s writing and not revising (the story was only part-written before). This is where I return to the old NaNoWriMo saying: every word’s a victory.

I wrote 1,272 words for my Speculations column, or 127% f my 1,000-word goal. And I submitted it on time. Win!

Finally, I blogged 5,458 words of my 3,750-word goal, or 146%.

Of my total writing goal for the month, I achieved 141%, of my total revision goal, I achieved 79%, and overall, I achieved 90% of my combined goals for the month. Not bad 🙂

Of the projects I’m not tracking, I made progress on my Ascension master document (like that much better than bible …), I did brainstorm a new short story, but I didn’t finish the story from two months ago, or start revisions on another story.

You can only do what you can do.

Filling the well

On June 2nd, I attended another Tiffany Yates Martin webinar through Jane Friedman. Always a good investment, those. I also signed up for TORCon June 10-13 and attended a few sessions, but that was it with respect to writing related events.

I had an appointment with my registered massage therapist on the 10th and I don’t know if it was the weight loss or my ASD diagnosis, but I’ve never had a more relaxing, less painful massage.

On June 20th, I went out to my sister-in-law’s for a lovely afternoon of lawn games and BBQ. I didn’t even take pictures. Just relaxed. So much relax.

Had an appointment with my financial advisor to make a couple of small tweaks to our banking and investments.

And … on the 28th, I called first thing to book my second vaccination. In another week, I will be as fully protected as Pfizer allows 🙂 I did have more pain in my shoulder than I did last time, but I got my shot. I done a #goodjab.

I’m down to 154 lbs, but now most of my clothes are too big. Can I say I hate shopping? First world, privileged white woman problems.

What I’m watching and reading

The latest season of Grey’s Anatomy came to an end in June. Same old, same old. What can I say? It’s a guilty pleasure.

Nancy Drew also finished its season. It was okay. Still not sure I like the ghostbusters version of ND. She resolved the major problem of the season only to have more crop up. Par for the course.

Phil and I watched the second volume of Love, Death, and Robots. Some of the shorts were amusing, others grim. Not bad.

The History of Swearing was amusing, though. I hope they do more, though I think they’ll run out before too long.

I also watched two movies.

The first was Monkey Beach, based on an Eden Robinson novel of the same name. I’d been meaning to watch it since I found out about it (about the same time as the Trickster series came out). It was good. Sad, but hopeful.

Wonder Woman 1984 was bad, but not as bad as I was prepared for it to be. Compared to the first movie, though? Meh.

Only three books on the reading radar this month, but they were all great.

I read TJ Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea first. Pure joy. If you haven’t picked it up yet, do it.

Then, I finished Diana Harkness’s The Shadow of Night, to catch up with the series. It’s very interesting to see the differences between the two, and I could really understand the creative decisions behind the adaptation. Doing the book, as written, would not have worked visually. Like them both for different reasons and in their own respects.

Finally, I read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. Ohmygodsogood! Just going to leave it there.

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

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