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

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

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

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

Does this make my hammer look big? Jill Bearup

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

A quick tip for outliners. Elizabeth Spann Craig

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

Reading like a writer. Reedsy

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

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

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

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

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

Tiffany Yates Martin: prioritizing your life. Fox Print Editorial

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

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

Gaslighting: narcissists and tampering with reality. Kristen Lamb

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

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

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

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

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

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

The next chapter: January 2016 update

First, a note about the non-writing parts of my life

Well, the new year has gotten off to a bit of a shaky start, not with respect to my writing and revision goals, but with respect to other stuff.

In the last week of December, Phil got sick enough he had to go see a doctor. He hadn’t been in a very long time and in the process of diagnosing the illness he went to see the doctor for in the first place, the doctor diagnosed him with two other, fairly serious, illnesses. Three for the price of one. Yay?

I won’t go into the details, because it’s not my story to tell, but he’s on several medications, we’ve had to change our diet (not significantly, but still), and we’ll have to commit to several more lifestyle changes in the coming months. It’s going to be a good thing, ultimately, but I’m a creature of habit. Change is stressful.

Phil’s been told not to tackle everything at once, and so we’re dealing with things one issue, and one day, at a time.

I’ve gotten a cold for the first time in about three years. Since I don’t get them often, I tend to get doozies. I’m also in the process of seeing whether I’m anaemic or not, and my gall bladder is acting up.

I guess this is my reaction to the stress of everything else.

Which includes learning that I’ve been screened out of the consultant process at work. We’ve had a general information session, because many of the over three hundred people who applied were screened out, but I’m still getting an informal discussion of the specific reasons I was screened out. That happens Tuesday.

I’ve really been trying not to get upset. Work is work and I’ve tried to prioritize my creative work over the day job, but having been successful in the last three processes and had four acting assignments in as many years, I can’t help but feel that I’ve been kicked in the teeth. They still have testing and interviews to go, and if the eventual pool ends up being as small at I suspect it will be, there will be another process in the future. I have to question the point of putting myself through the wringer again, though.

My current acting assignment ends next Friday and at that point, so far as I know, I’m heading back to the training and advice & guidance team, but everyone keeps saying that I’m not going back and even managers aren’t including me in the training plan and no one is telling me anything. I’m kind of suffering from mushroom syndrome.

I’m trying to be Zen, but I’m not very good at that, in all honesty. I am a lot more laid back than some people, but I internalize a lot. Hence, the illen.

Now, onto the Writerly Goodness 🙂

I took some time over the holidays to plan out my writing year. Using Jamie Raintree’s amazing new Writing and Revision Tracker, I set writing and revision goals for the year, and for each month.

As I mentioned in my last Next chapter update, 2016 will be the year of revision. As I return to the querying process with Initiate of Stone, I realize I want to have some of my other five finished novels revised and edited and ready to go so that I can keep working toward my dream of a traditional deal.

What I did was to add up the current word totals of all my drafts and divided them up according to what I figure will be my productive months. I also estimated what my blogging totals would be per month and add in my NaNo 2016 writing goals.

What that worked out to was 37,550 words of revision each month (except November and December), between five and seven thousand words of blogging each month (except November), and 50k words drafted in November and December (NaNo this year will be book three of the Ascension series I figure it will take me two months to complete the draft).

So this is what January looked like.

JanuaryProgress

And I even took a few days off (!)

The month started with a couple of days devoted to reading through my draft of Apprentice of Wind, and then I set to. I’ll probably have the first run through done within the next couple of weeks, and then I’m probably going to go through it at least one more time.

So at 9,274 words, I wrote 141% of my writing goal and at 69,774 words, I almost doubled my revision goal (186%).

I also revised and sent out two short stories, and heard that another short story is still under consideration from a submission last year. So that’s awesome.

I also sent out IoS packages to open submission periods for a couple of publishers. As of the end of last year, the three Canadian small publishers I’d pitched last fall had either declined or failed to respond.

We’ll see where all of that gets me.

Other excitement

I’ve attended a few events this past month. The first was Last Stop at the Sudbury Theatre Centre, in which a couple of writer friends had their plays in progress workshopped in front of a live audience (us). It was awesome.

Then, I attended a Skype workshop with Barbara Kyle through the Sudbury Writers’ Guild on adding magic and verve to your first thirty pages. Barbara is an excellent presenter and so knowledgeable about her craft. It’s a pleasure to learn from her.

Finally, I attended a lecture by singer/songwriter Steven Page at Laurentian University on ending the stigma around mental illness. He sang a couple of songs from his new album and discussed his struggles with mental illness.

I’m also currently enrolled in two online courses.

First, I couldn’t resist signing up for Story Genius with Lisa Cron and Jennie Nash. It’s based on Lisa’s new book (of the same name) and is eight weeks long. I’m working on my week four submission this weekend. It’s hard (like, it hurts my poor, tender head hard), especially negotiating the day job and health issues Phil and I are facing right now, but I can see how it’s going to improve my ability to write a novel that will hook readers and keep them reading.

Second, I signed up for Jamie Raintree’s Design a writing career you love workshop. I’m trying to keep one foot in the business side of things. Jamie’s an excellent instructor and I always enjoy her courses.

I’ve booked my hotel for both Ad Astra in April and WorldCon in August and am still waiting for the registration information for The Canadian Writers’ Summit to emerge.

So, I guess it’s no wonder I’m under the weather at the moment.

By and large, though, I love my life. The creative part of it anyway 😉

Next week, the CanCon 2015 reportage continues.

Hope your creative endeavours are moving full steam ahead and that you’re all well on your ways to meeting your goals. Feel free to share your trials and triumphs in the comments below.

The Next Chapter

Wordstock Sudbury

Today, I was pleased and privileged to be a part of Wordstock Sudbury, the first of what is hoped to be a biannual literary event.  At the Sudbury Theatre Centre (STC), Wordstock took over the main stage, lounge, and lobby areas for readings, workshops, and the essential selling of books.

If you would like to have a look at the full schedule, it is available on the site linked above.

I attended primarily to support my friend, poet Kim Fahner, and my fellow members of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild (SWG).  I also read the recently revamped opening of my novel.

Kim read with former Sudbury Poet Laureate Roger Nash, and Charlie Smith from Massey, all of them published by Your Scrivener Press (YSP).  The theme of their reading was Home and Away.  Though all three have very distinctive voices, the reading went well and had a seamless feel.  It’s always a pleasure to see such consummate professionals perform their works.

KimFahnerOf course, Kim was fabulous 🙂  She has a way of addressing the audience, slightly self-deprecating yet hilarious, that establishes a relationship.  We feel instantly at home with her, and completely comfortable as she shares pieces of her life in verse.

After a brief break, Sudbury Arts Council (SAC) president, Vicky Gilhula took the stage and presented the youth writing contest winners with their prizes.  One young man (forgive me, but I forget his name) came prepared to read and his story, based on his grandfather’s life in Sudbury and his career in the mining industry, was spectacular.  Amazing: a thirteen year old young man had the confidence and presence to bring us to tears.

He was that good.

Next, the SWG took over the auditorium, beginning with Rosanna Batigelli, who read a RosannaBatigellicouple of chapters from her historical novel, La Brigantessa.  The novel’s protagonist takes to a life of a brigand when she is assaulted and forced to leave her home by a tyrannical general.  Rosanna is in the process of revising her novel for publication.

EmilyDeangelisEmily Deangelis read from her middle grade/young adult novel about a young girl who loses her father in a car accident and subsequently experiences supernatural visitations when she is left with her great-aunt in Manitoulin Island’s Meldrum Bay.

Irene Golas read a selection of her poetry and flash fiction.IreneGolas

Tom Leduc read a number of his poems centering on his experience of Sudbury and its mining industry.

MargoLittleMargo Little from Manitoulin Island read some of her works published through projects of the Manitoulin Writers’ Circle including one on the War of 1812 and how the soldiers of the time became enamoured of their muskets, called Brown Betties.

Janice Leuschen, a member of both the SWG and of the JaniceLeuschenProfessional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) read one of her stories, and Heather Campbell, also a member of PWAC, finished off the session with a discussion of creative non-fiction.

I read just after Margo and just before Janice.  I don’t have any pictures and I’ll reach out to my fellow guildies to share any pictures they may have of me at the event.  It would be a lovely remembrance of the day.  Sincere thanks in advance 🙂

As I mentioned, I read the revised opening of Initiate of Stone; it was my first public presentation and I received some excellent feedback from Kim and Emily.  The technical director of the STC also found me in the lobby and complimented me on my reading.

I have often been told that I have a great voice.  It’s one of the things that helps me both as a corporate trainer and as a writer, a learned skill from my days as a poet, honed by years of practise.  I tend to a literary style, even though I write genre, and the voice creates an appropriately dreamy backdrop for my words.

After the SWG session was over, playwright Matthew Heiti took the stage to host a series of readings from plays in which one friend, Paulette Dahl, was reading from a play by another, mutual friend, Louise Visneskie.

The English Arts Society of Laurentian University also hosted a reading, Heather Campbell hosted a workshop on the creative process, and Roger Nash and Daniel Aubin, Sudbury’s current Poet Laureate read their poetry.

And all of that wasn’t counting the Friday night cabaret, the children’s and young adult programming on the patio, or any of the other workshops and events that I couldn’t attend.

Though attendance was modest, I think that it was a good start.  The hope of the organizers is to grow Wordstock into a full literary festival at a larger venue, or at several venues throughout the city.  I wish them the best and applaud them for this year’s event.

I had a blast 🙂

Fusion: An Ekphrastic Experiment

July 1, 2009.

In light of the Willisville Mountain Project and the Cross-Pollination Series, the Sudbury Writers’ Guild decided to try their collective hand at ekphrasis.  For the curious:  Ekphrasis is the graphic, often dramatic interpretation of a work of art, thank you Wikipedia.

I became interested in ekphrasis in graduate school during a course on the Rossetti’s.  Dante Gabriel Rossetti was founder and member of the Pre-Raphealite Brotherhood and their paintings frequently feature poetry either in the artwork itself or as part of the frame.  The verse typically described the subject of the painting. So when I had a chance to participate in something similar, I jumped at the chance.  While not true ekphrasis, the Fusion project was nonetheless interesting and fun to participate in.

Essentially, writers and artists pair up and create a composite work of writing and art.  The written work can be either prose or poetry, and the visual component, while usually painting or photography, could be anything.  In our group’s case, quiting, stained glass, and a place setting of tea and cookies on china were included in the mix.  Each interested writer from the Guild paired up with an area artist in January of 2009 with the goal of having a composite work assembled by July 1st.

My partner in crime was Robert Luopa, fine arts teacher at Espanola High School.  You might say that what we worked on was the reverse of ekphrasis.

Due to our limited ability to get together and work in a truly collaborative fashion, Robert felt that creating a painting based on one of my unpublished pieces of poetry might work out better.  I sent him a likely selection of suspects and he chose “Fire and Ice.”  From there, I described the original inspiration for the poem and Robert then when out and took some pictures.  He drew up some concept sketches and we further discussed the eventual form of the final painting.  In addition to presenting the poem with the painting, I used one of Robert’s photos and Gimp‘ed it into a background for the poem.

The Fusion Project was first displayed at Art Berries and Jazz in Espanola July 1, 2009 and then was displayed a second time at the Sudbury Theatre Centre for the month of August 2009.

Have you ever collaborated with another artist?  It doesn’t have to be ekphrastic in nature.  My poet-friend Kim Fahner had one of her poems set to music.  Some people have their stories turned into short films.  It’s good to get out of your own art-form sometimes.  I’ve found it offers respite and perspective.  What did you learn from your creative experiment?