Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Sept 12-18, 2021

It’s tipsday! That means you’ve made it through Monday 🙂 Celebrate with some informal writerly learnings.

Sophie Masson is cooking up great book buzz. Then, Jim Dempsey explains how to tap into your characters’ emotions. Barbara Linn Probst wants you to go beyond description with story-relevant aspects of setting. Then, Matthew Norman shares the best writing advice he’s ever gotten. Kelsey Allagood says, active protagonists are tools of the patriarchy. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland looks at the archetypal antagonists for the hero arc: the dragon and the sick king. Helping Writers Become Authors

Shang Chi: I can see clearly now … Jill Bearup

Jennie Nash asks, why write this book? Then, Anna David explains why and how she got her rights back from HarperCollins. Jane Friedman

Eldred Bird: everything has a story. Then, Piper Bayard explains how to bug a room (writing spies). Jenny Hansen: what if my [insert person] reads this? Writers in the Storm

John Kerr lists five story structures to use in your writing. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Kellie Doherty introduces us to some autumn deities. Fantasy Faction

How do we criticize our own? (Also, stop calling Lizzo a mammy.) Melina Pendulum

Jami Gold: if your story’s not behaving, try going deeper into structure. Then, Christina Kaye lists the three things you should consider before choosing your fiction genre. Writers Helping Writers

Olivia Fisher recounts her long road to becoming a freelance editor, part 1. And here’s my latest Speculations: one author’s journey on the autism spectrum. Sonia Hartl explains the importance of friendships in YA. Then, Kanh Ha shares five tips on writing fiction. DIY MFA

The Oedipus Complex: Film and TV’s Freudian obsession. The Take

Kristen Lamb considers types of plot twists and why they’re amazing for stories.

Christine Pride explains how a book goes from acquisitions to books store shelves. Nathan Bransford

Chris Winkle explains why you shouldn’t write a masterpiece. Then, Oren Ashkenazi scores WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki on engagement. Mythcreants

Susanna Clarke: I’d really ceased to think of myself as a writer. The Guardian

5X15 presents Neil Gaiman and Susanna Clarke.

Beth Cato: shared pain. Nature

James Whitbrook: Marvel’s Eternals star, Lauren Ridloff, wants movie theatres to be more accessible for everyone. Gizmodo

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

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Join me at DIY MFA for my latest Speculations

This Speculations is special to me. And personal. If you’ve been reading my monthly updates, you’ll be familiar with some of what I share.

Speculating Neurodiversity: One Author’s Journey on the Autism Spectrum.

While you’re there, please check out some of the other excellent columns, Gabriela’s resources, and courses.

And until tomorrow, 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!

Join me at DIY MFA for my latest Speculations

This edition of Speculations came out on June 29th. I did not have the spoons at the time to post it in a timely manner.

Still, better late than never 🙂

This time around, Speculations focuses on the works of a handful of AAPI authors of science fiction and fantasy.

While you’re there, please check out the other great columnists and Gabriela’s fabulous resources.

Until tipsday, be well and stay safe!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 27-July 3, 2021

Welcome to another week of informal writerly learnings 🙂 Enjoy!

Erika Liodice explains how to create an authentic setting from a place you’ve never been. Matthew Norman advises, when in doubt, look about. Then, Deanna Cabinian offers some tips from a pregnant lady on deflecting unsolicited writing advice. Nancy Johnson shares three tips for mastering conflict in your novel. Later in the week, Julie Carrick Dalton is crafting climate futures we can survive. Writer Unboxed

Princess Weekes looks at WandaVision and the feminine madness. Melina Pendulum

K.M. Weiland completes her review of the flat archetypal arc with the mentor in part 21 of her archetypal character arcs series. Helping Writers Become Authors

Colleen M. Story lists three reasons writing is a healthy form of escape. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Writing compelling character relationships. Shaelin Writes

James Scott Bell says, act like a professional. Colleen M. Story explains how to tell the difference between procrastination and a true writing crisis. Writers Helping Writers

Princess Weekes loves Octavia E. Butler, the grand dame of science fiction. It’s Lit | PBS Storied

Tasha Seegmiller is exploring a character’s past wound. Then, Julie Glover shares five more quick dialog tips. Writers in the Storm

Emily Zarka looks at the macabre origins of the grim reaper. Monstrum | PBS Storied

My latest speculations: ten AAPI science fiction and fantasy authors to read right now. Later in the week, Lauren Eckhardt shared five ways to catch your golden butterfly. DIY MFA

Why slow adulting is a good thing. The Take

Kristine Kathryn Rusch presents part seven of her fear-based decision-making series: fear and all writers.

Rachelle Shaw lists ten alternative types of short fiction. Fiction University

Jane Friedman breaks down where her money comes from.

The dangerous woman. How we package female sexuality. The Take

Chris Winkle points out what you need to know when planning character arcs. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes six twists that hurt the story. Mythcreants

Nate Berg: stunning new museum brings Hans Christian Andersen’s stories to life. Fast Company

Hank 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!

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!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, April 11-17, 2021

Ah, Tuesday! The day when you get to catch up on your informal writerly learnings of the previous week.

Janice Hardy explains how the wrap up works in a novel. #storystructure Fiction University

K.M. Weiland continues her archetypal character arc series by introducing us to the hero’s shadow archetypes. Helping Writers Become Authors

Wonder Woman 1984: gravity would like a word … Jill Bearup

Kathleen Marple Kalb explains how to navigate a book launch through social media. Then, Sharon Oard Warner wonders which comes first: character or plot? Jane Friedman

Shaelin explains how to write science fiction. Reedsy

Then, she covers sci-fi tropes to avoid or embrace. Reedsy

Nicole Souza shares some tips for creating strong female characters. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Alli Sinclair wants to help you use your fiction skills to earn money. Writers Helping Writers

Jim Dempsey tells you how to cut the cost of a professional editor. Then, Kathleen McCleary explains how regrets reveal and forge character. Later in the week, Porter Anderson is suiting up for serialization. Kelsey Allagood: writer, know thyself. Writer Unboxed

Erica Brozovsky: what’s the longest word? Otherwords | PBS Storied

My latest Speculations column went live on April 13: celebrating Perseverance. DIY MFA

Brannan Sirratt defines nonfiction and fiction dimensions. Story Grid

Queer coding, explained. The Take

Piper Bayard lists 10 common kitchen items to use as weapons. Writers in the Storm

Chris Winkle explains how to teach world terms without confusing readers. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five stories with unsatisfying endings. Mythcreants

The sympathetic villain. The Take

Kristen Lamb: how to write stories that grip readers and don’t let go.

Thom Dunn explains why it’s harder for neurodivergent people to break into publishing. Boing Boing

Julia Skinner: libraries and pandemics, past and present. JSTOR Daily

And that was tipsday for this week. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Join me at DIY MFA for my latest Speculations

This time on Speculations, it’s all about the Perseverance Rover (AKA Percy).

The mission is producing lots of cool science and media that can help you write you next SFnal story.

While your there, take some time to check out the other, excellent columns, and Gabriela’s fabulous supports and resources for writers.

Until tipsday, be well and stay safe!

Join me at DIY MFA for my latest Speculations

This time, I’m exploring Gail Carriger’s The Heroine’s Journey and what it taught me about the stories I write.

While you’re there, you may want to check out some of the other awesome columnists or look into Gabriela’s writers’ resources, courses, or the Word Nerd community.

See you soon! And remember to stay safe and well!

Join me at DIY MFA for my latest Speculations

This time, on Speculations, I’m sharing five of my favourite Indigenous SFF authors.

It’s time to decolonize your reading, y’all!

While you’re there, check out some of the great resources Gabriela has, the other awesome columnists, and the Writer Igniter SFF Summit–it’s free!

Until next time, bl and stay safe, my writerly friends!