The next chapter weekly: Jan 15-21, 2023

Greetings, all!

This week, I pulled the King of Swords from the tarot, and The Horse from the Celtic oracle deck.

The King of Swords represents a catalyst or wise council. This is good, because I’m meeting with Suzy this week, and a mentor at work. But really, I’m thinking that it’s time I seek the wise council within, know what I mean? I really have to develop (or redevelop) my self confidence.

The horse represents Epona, Gaullish horse goddess, the Great Mare. She was the protector of horses and possibly a fertility goddess. She was the only Celtic deity to be worshipped by the Romans as the goddess of cavalry. Unfortunately, her origins are lost because no one recorded the mostly oral Gaullish myths and legends. There is a Roman tale that survives about a guy that, fed up with women, decided that a horse would make a better mate and produced Epona. Typical Greek/Roman stuff.

I did find this on the OBOD web site, though:

“Epona is the Patroness of all journeys, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. She is the Goddess of the Land and its seasons, of fertility in all things. …. I feel Her presence beside me keeping me safe, giving me strength for each day. I see Her touch in every new green shoot of the Spring and in every fruit of the Autumn. I hear Her voice in the whispers of the breeze through the trees and in the song of the river.”

So, I think I’ll take it as a sign that I’ll be going on a metaphorical journey (I have no plans to travel physically). We’ll see where it leads 🙂

The week in writing

Continuing as I have so far this month, I aimed to finish my map for Alice in Thunderland by Jan 20th and then leave the project for the rest of the month before returning to it and finishing the last four chapters. I submitted my fourth assignment to Suzy on the 15th, so I had a few days off Reality Bomb.

But things changed mid-week. It was a busy week with appointments, sometimes several on the same day. It was a bit hectic and thank goodness for Phil, who managed to get me supper on the busy days. I didn’t get any work done on the Alice map after Monday. I decided to take it easy for the rest of the month and get back to it in February.

I met with Suzy on the 19th. Again, it was a fruitful meeting. But just as we were getting some momentum, I had to withdraw (because of that work/financial situation I mentioned a couple weeks back). We were at the end of our scheduled meetings, and I don’t have the disposable funds to continue, though I really want to because I’m learning a lot. The accountability is also great. When I have external deadlines to work toward (i.e., someone’s waiting/depending on me to do the work), I tend to get it done.

She’s going to check in with me mid-April to see if a resolution is on the horizon.

On that topic, I received notification on Friday that I was successful in the assessment process and am now part of a qualified pool of candidates. Though my employer won’t be able to take any action until at least April, the way has been cleared. So, I guess the resolution (partial though it may be) to my financial difficulties has come through within ten weeks. Thanks, inverted ten of swords 🙂

On the downside, my application for an OAC grant was not successful. I received that notification Friday morning. Another Sudbury writer was successful, though. All congratulations to her. She deserves it.

I’m really getting the vibe that I should take December and January off. From big projects, anyway. Mapping in preparation for revision, poetry, short fiction—I think these would all be doable, but heavy revisions or drafting may be out of the question, at least for my neurodivergent brain.

Here’s how the week broke down.

I wrote a net 16 words on RB on Sunday, and then left the project to rest.

I added the last two drafted chapters of Alice to the map and started freewriting ideas for the next chapter before the week got to be too much. That, too, is sitting for a bit.

I blogged 1,731 words for the week.

So, total revision 16 words and total writing 1,731 words for the week and a net -606 words in RB and 5,540 words in the blog for the month.

Filling the well

I attended the Spoonie Authors Network Launch on the 15th. It was a lovely reading, and I won a copy of Nothing Without Us, Too 🙂

I had a massage on the 17th and a meeting with my support group on the 19th. This month’s topic was trauma. Both informative and cathartic.

What I’m watching and reading

I didn’t finish any series this week, but I did watch Where the Crawdads Sing (Amazon). So good. Gave me a Grisham movie (at their best) vibe. Another book that’s moving up on my TBR list.

This week, I finished Stephen Fry’s Secrets of the Roaring Twenties (Audible original). It was an interesting historical podcast and, because it’s adjacent to the time period Alice is set in, very informative.

I also read Lori Devoti’s One Soul to Share. A vampire looking for a soul meets a mermaid looking to make a deal with the sea witch Melusine for the same. A straightforward paranormal romance.

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

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

The next chapter weekly: Jan 8-14, 2023

Welcome to the next chapter weekly for the second week of 2023.

I must say that coming into this experiment, I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough to fill up a weekly update, but I think I like this new format. What do y’all think? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

This week, I drew the Ace of Cups and The Salmon.

The ace of cups represents abundance, relationships, and contentment. I was hoping that the abundance might have something to do with my financial situation, but alas, that was not the case. Instead, I received the confirmation that all would be status quo at least until the new fiscal (April 1, 2023) and probably longer.

What I did have an abundance of this week was workdays with minimal meetings. I was able to make progress on a project and that did, indeed make me content. I also made progress on my creative endeavours. More on that, below.

And I was quite content in my relationships, noting several of them in my nightly gratitudes. I try to record three before I go to bed. Sometimes, I record them when I get up the next morning. I haven’t successfully incorporated this new piece into my bedtime ritual.

The salmon of knowledge or wisdom is associated with a young Fionn mac Cumhaill, who inadvertently absorbed the salmon’s knowledge when he burned his thumb while cooking it for the poet Finegas.

Am I becoming wiser? I don’t know. More knowledgeable, certainly. About instructional design, about autism, about my craft. If only I could access that knowledge “on demand” by biting my thumb, like Fionn does 🙂 

The week in writing

My goals were again simple. Seven more chapters of Alice in Thunderland in the map and more work on Reality Bomb’s first three chapters.

I accomplished both, but I’m still experiencing a lot of self-doubt when it comes to revisions for RB. My next assignment is due on the 15th, so the night this post goes live, and at this point, I have no idea if I’ve managed to do a good job. I’ll find out next week, one way or the other.

Here’s how the week broke down.

Again, there was a lot of up and down with respect to RB. I edited down the second chapter by a couple of pages. I think. But it’s still too long and I’m not sure how to shrink it further. Same goes for the third chapter, which is, again three chapters slapped together.

This week, I’ve cut a net 636 words. Not bad. And despite the adding and cutting, I’m now down a net 606 words on the first three chapters overall. We’ll see what Suzy says next week.

My two weekly curations and this update amount to 1,785 words, and my total bloggage for the month so far is 3,807 words.

I meant to mention my new colour coding on the Excel. This year, I’ve decided to give myself a visual of my days off, days of significance, like full and new moons, and appointment days on my spreadsheet. My hope is that it will help me be more realistic with respect to my creative output on any given day.

I got the idea from “colour blocking” my calendar at work. So far, I like it. Visually, if nothing else 🙂

Filling the well

On the 14th, I attended a FOLD webinar called “Unsettling Poems” presented by Liz Howard. It was an interesting session and I think I have some ideas swirling around in my head. I’ll let them percolate for a while, I think.

I also attended a webinar about “Autism and Mental Health” on the 10th presented by Dori Zener, the therapist who set up the autism support group I attend. It’s all part of my learning.

What I’m watching and reading

In the viewing department, Phil and I finished watching the first season of Willow, the series (Disney +). It was a little uneven. The elements didn’t all come together for me. I enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong, but I was hoping for better.

I’ve seen some critique of the series as too grimdark for the original movie, but I don’t think that was the case. I think, rather, that it’s the result of things not being properly woven together, as I mention above. Their attempts to attain the comedy of the original were clearly there, but they didn’t land. I’m not sure if it was the script or the acting, but that’s my opinion.

As for the grimdark content, I read the book that was written as the sequel to Willow, yeeeears ago. It was called Drumheller, and I can’t find it online. Madmartigan and Sorcha were both dead, and Elora Danon was purposefully hidden, as in the series, because a powerful sorcerer wanted to control/enslave her and failing that to kill her. Unfortunately, when her guardians die, Elora is lost, and Willow has to become the Drumheller (a process that almost kills him) to find and protect her before the big bad does his worst. If memory serves, it made the series look like Looney Tunes by comparison. Now that was grimdark.

Then, I watched The Boys: Diabolical (Amazon). Fun shorts that are as bloody and chaotic as the series.

I also watched Swiss Army Man (Amazon). I decided to check it out, because it’s another movie by the Daniels, who were behind Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. I’m kind of glad I didn’t see SAM first. I would have gone into EEAaO with completely different expectations.

It’s as much of a mind fuck as Bunny was. Right up to the end, you’re wondering if the main character is delusional or if any of this is really happening.

Moving on to the week in reading, I read Another Richard Wagamese book: One Native Life. Another balm for the soul, but also, a compassionate look back at the author’s life and what it taught him as he struggled to regain his identity as an Indigenous man.

In audiobooks, I’ve decided to catch up on the podcasts I followed. Catherine Hernandez’s Imminent Disaster was fun. I’m not big into sketch comedy, but it was good.

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

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

The next chapter weekly: Jan 1-7, 2023

Greetings, all! Welcome to the revamped next chapter weekly 🙂

I’m going to try something a little different. At the start of each week, I’m going to draw a tarot card and a Celtic oracle card to see if they offer any guidance.

This week, I drew the ten of swords, inverted, and Blodeuwedd.

The ten of swords represents fear of betrayal in relationships or fear of financial ruin. Inverted, it can represent temporary success.

While I don’t think there’s any problem with any of my significant relationships, there has been a little financial insecurity in my life recently. The two-year acting assignment as an instructional designer I achieved in November 2020 came to an end at the end of November 2022. Though I had been successfully deployed to my current division, it was an “at level” deployment, at a step lower in salary. So, I’m doing an instructional designer’s job for a courseware developer’s pay.

I have been working through another assessment process that should get me into a qualified pool from which I could be assigned to a position at my acting (or actual) salary, but as a business analyst. There’s also another possibility that I could have my salary bumped up by other means, or by an assignment to another team in my division.

I’m interpreting the inverted ten of swords to mean that this unfavourable financial situation will be resolved, one way or another, in the near future. It might involve some change, which I’m rarely comfortable with, and perhaps several changes, before all is said and done, however.

Bloddeuwedd represents a claiming of one’s own power, steering your craft, or directing your fate. I’m seeing this divination in terms of my vocation as an author. I’ve been taking steps to improve my craft and those steps will lead to success. The card could also support the resolution of my financial difficulties.

We shall see where these oracles lead.

This week also saw the full wolf moon. I did a little ritual to help rid myself of a bad habit. As the moon wanes to new, I hope to do a little better around my sleep hygiene/routine. Again, we’ll see how things go. I’ll let you know how it’s going in a couple of weeks.

The week in writing

I’m starting off 2023 slow and steady. I took New Years Day off except for posting my next chapter update and year in review. My two goals for the week were to continue mapping out Alice in Thunderland and work on the first three chapters of Reality Bomb.

I’m pleased to report that I’ve added 7 chapters to the Alice map (not recorded in the spreadsheet). This brings me to chapter 16 of 28. This work is in anticipation of a) finishing the last four chapters of the draft and then, after a brief break, b) revising the novella. I’m trying to incorporate some of the lessons I’m learning while working on RB with Suzy.

With regard to RB, the work is going slow. I’m definitely lacking confidence, but I’m finding my way. Made a belated discovery: I can input negative words in the spreadsheet. D’oh! It does give a better idea of my progress, or lack thereof. This week was a lot of back and forth, up and down. I’m trying to cut a bunch of pages out of chapter two (which is three of the previous draft’s chapters smooshed together). It’s challenging but rewarding. I’m definitely feeling that the draft is improving.

Here’s how the week broke down.

Revisions on the first two chapters of RB have resulted in a net gain of 3 words (!) Also, note that I only entered the net gain or loss for the day. There was often a lot more words written, then deleted, or vice versa, on any given day. It’s been weird.

On the blog, I wrote 420 more words on the last monthly next chapter update before posting it, 236 words on tipsday, 218 words on thought Thursday, and 1,150 words on this next chapter weekly for a total of 2,024 words. The total shown on the spreadsheet includes my tipsday and thought Thursday posts for the coming wee, which I prepare and post on Sundays.

Filling the well

I signed up for “Write that Book Already” from The Narrative Project and Sidekick Press from January 2 to 6. Interesting sessions, but three a day, so it was a challenge to keep up.

I also took my mom to another hair appointment and did some minor shopping.

What I’m watching and reading

In the viewing department, I finished watching Dickenson (Apple+). Just a delight.

In another surprise, two more episodes of The Shining Girls appeared on Apple+, completing the series. Very different than the book. Beukes’ novel didn’t include any of the time shifting and changes that the series does. To explain, every time Harper murders one of the other shining girls, Kirby’s world changes. She may not live in the same place, have the same job, or the same relationships with other people in her life. Visually, her hair and clothing style changes as well.

There are other shining girls that are characters in the series that are merely victims in the book. In the series, some of these women take back their power when Kirby kills Harper in the story’s present. She then uses the house to travel back in time and prevent Harper from ever moving in. Ultimately, she saves Dan (who was killed in the series and whose fate was uncertain in the novel), and all the other women harper had killed. Interesting.

While I was in Apple+, I checked out what else there was to watch and got a lovely surprise. They’ve done an adaptation of Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and the Horse. So much the sweet self-care I needed in these still dark days of winter.

I watched Strange World (Disney +), a charming eco-fable wrapped in generational drama about fathers, sons, and legacies. Some things were a bit “on the nose,” but I enjoyed it for what it was, and I really appreciated how Ethan’s having a boyfriend is no big thing, even to his ultra-macho explorer grandfather. Refreshing and light.

Moving on to the week in reading, I started off 2023 by reading Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Yes, another classic I’d never read. I loved it. Dickens really does comment on the ills of his world in multiple respects.

Then, I finished Rachel True’s True Heart Intuitive Tarot. I quite like her take on the tarot and may pick up the physical book and deck she designed.

And that was the first week of 2023 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, Feb 28-March 6, 2021

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Time to indulge in some informal writerly learnings.

K.M. Weiland continues her archetypal character arcs series with part four: the queen arc. Helping Writers Become Authors

Sharon Oard Warner advises you to find the ending before you return to the beginning. Jane Friedman

Yuvi Zalkow encourages you to expose your mess. Sarah Penner considers women’s empowerment in fiction from a bookseller’s perspective. Later in the week, Liza Nash Taylor declares, there will be worms. Writer Unboxed

Jill Bearup considers boob armor: four things you need to know.

James Scott Bell wants you to turn envy into energy. Later in the week, Becca Puglisi shares eleven techniques for transforming clichéd phrasings. Writers Helping Writers

Jeanette the Writer lists eight essential edits for your novel. Later in the week, Emily R. King wants you to find your voice. Then, Ann McCallum Staats shares five hands-on research techniques for spot-on writing. DIY MFA

Shaelin looks at Deus Ex Machina: what it is, why it happens, and how to fix it. Reedsy

Janice Hardy points out six places infodumps like to hide in your novel. Fiction University

Then, Shaelin explains how to write a cliff-hanger that keeps readers turning pages. Reedsy

Janice Hardy asks, does you novel have a problem? (It should.) Writers in the Storm

Chris Winkle: Space Sweepers shows us what excellent messaging is. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five common story fragmentations and how to consolidate them. Mythcreants

Emily Zarka examines the Taotie: the mystery of Chinese mythology’s famous glutton. Monstrum | PBS Storied

Nina Munteanu: the semicolon is dead; long live the semicolon.

Harry Potter isn’t a good guy. The Take

Cassandra Drudi encourages you to listen to Waubgeshig Rice and Jennifer David’s new podcast, Storykeepers, an audio book club on Indigenous literature. Quill & Quire

Kyle Muzyka interviews Richard Van Camp on storytelling and its power to combat loneliness. CBC’s Unreserved

John Dickerson interviews Colson Whitehead, the only fiction writer to win Pulitzer Prizes for consecutive works. 60 Minutes

Guy Kawasaki interviews Luvvie Ajayi Jones for the Remarkable People Podcast.

Gabriel Weisz Carrington explains how his mother, Leonora Carrington, used tarot to reach self-enlightenment. Literary Hub

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

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

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 17-23, 2020

Another week of #pandemiclife, another batch of informal writerly learnings.

Before we get to those, though, here is my weekly update:

Though Ontario’s efforts at “reopening” have been cautious, numbers of confirmed cases have increased. Some of this is to be expected, but testing has not kept up. The federal government is trying to get the tech companies on board to have 1 tracing app across platforms (Android and Apple). While Phil and I did take my mom and Torvi out for an afternoon of physically distanced fun at his sister’s (she’s worked hard on her back yard this year, increasing the size of her patio to accommodate a gazebo, making a proper fire pit, and various planter boxes) we were careful to stay two metres apart.

Phil made a couple of yard games, a set of lawn dice for outdoor Yahtzee and a Finnish game called mölkky. I’ll let you look the latter up on the interwebz 🙂 We played a couple games and had an enjoyable afternoon.

Onto the curation!

K.M. Weiland strikes a balance between creativity and distraction: 13 tips for writers in the age of the internet. Helping Writers Become Authors

Janice Hardy is clarifying ambiguous pronouns. Then, Orly Konig wants you to organize the chaos using these five revision tips for pantsers. Fiction University

Gabe lists the four questions every pitch must answer. Bookish Pixie

Marjorie Simmins offers an excerpt of her Q&A with Lawrence Hill: memoir beyond the self. Then, Susan DeFreitas returns with part seven of her developing a writing practice series: engrained. Jane Friedman

Shaelin finishes her series on developing a novel: creating a writing plan. Reedsy

E.J. Wenstrom lists ten ways to connect with readers while physically distancing. And here’s my latest column: mythic storytelling with the tarot, part three. In which I create an outline for a fantasy story using the tarot. Jason Jones shares five tips to get your book on local media. DIY MFA

Dave King goes into the woods. Barbara Linn Probst is learning from Pinoccio how to create a character who’s fully alive. Writer Unboxed

Christina Delay thinks you might as well jump—into the third act. Writers Helping Writers

Ellen Buikema takes a look at body language in writing. Writers in the Storm

The Take looks at the girl next door.

Jami Gold explores the spectrum of third person point of view. Then, she helps you develop a powerful point of view.

Chris Winkle explains how to plot a series. Then, Oren Ashkenazi considers the world building of The Expanse. Mythcreants

Kelly Grovier: the women who created a new language. BBC

Deborah Dundas: Amazon hurt them. The lockdown hurt them. Now there’s a painful loss in court. Canada’s book biz — authors, publishers, retailers — is hunting for a new business model. The Toronto Star

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

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Tipsday2019

Join me over at DIY MFA for my latest Speculations

In part three of my series on the tarot for writers, I create a rough outline for a story using the tarot. It was a lot of fun. Maybe you’d like to try it?

Mythic Storytelling: Tarot for Writers, Part 3

TarotPt3

And while your there, check out the other great columnists and all the awesome Gabriela has up for offer.

See ya Thursday!

The next chapter: April 2020 update

Here we are in the first week of May. It was an interesting and surprising month.

Pandemic life

In Canada, and Ontario, specifically, there are indications that the numbers of new cases and deaths are no longer increasing exponentially, but they are still increasing. This is likely due to the number of international travellers over March Break and returning Snow Birds as well as various waves of repatriation.

These returning travellers were all back in March, yes, but I think that because most of those travellers were not equipped to quarantine for two weeks, there was likely some scrambling to shop for supplies before self-isolating, and that unintentional transmission occurred. I’m not pointing fingers. None of us had any idea things would get so bad so quickly. People can contract covid-19 and not be symptomatic. There are reports of people in Italy and Spain being diagnosed almost a month after self-isolating. We live and we learn and we try to do better.

Because they’ve had to, the federal and provincial governments have made public their “plans” for reopening. I have to emphasize that these are plans, and plans that are dependent on widespread testing and infection tracing. Several plans do not contain hard milestones because they can’t. It’s a matter of waiting until the curve is truly planked—and confirmed—and then implementing a cautious reopening of some services and businesses and waiting to see how that affects the rates of infection and death before proceeding.

It’s true that some provinces haven’t been as affected as others and thus may be tempted to rush the reopening process, but the federal government’s message remains, “stay the course.”

And so, we are.

The month in writing

AprilProgress

I had adjusted my writing goals for Reality Bomb once again because I had almost reached my writing goals but ultimately fallen short of them in the past two months. I had lowered my overall goal to 85k words and am pleased to say that I’ve exceeded that goal this month.

Specifically, I wrote 11,378 words of my 10,264-word goal, or 111%. This put me over the 85k mark.

But … the story’s not finished yet. So, I’ve extended the project into May. Technically, I only have 4,057 words left to reach 90k, which was my original goal, but I suspect I’m going to have to overshoot that, possibly by quite a bit, to finish the story properly. Then I’m going to return to the middle section to see what needs to be cut (it is a bit of a sprawl) to bring the overall word count back down to 90k.

I once again blew away my blogging goal. I wrote 5,283 words. My goal was 3,750 words and that meant I achieved 141% of my blogging goal.

I also wrote my next Speculations column and, because it was the creation of an outline using tarot cards, it was another of my huge posts. I wrote 2,112 words of my 1,000-word goal, or 211%.

Overall, I aimed to write 15,014 words and ended up writing 18,773. That’s 125% of my goal and makes up for prior months’ shortfalls. Actually, with respect to writing goals, I achieved 111% in January, 91% in February, 99% in March, and 125% in April, for an average total of 107%. The only month I worked on revision, I achieved 96% of my goal, so that means between writing and revision, I’m running an average of 101% of my goals. I’m good with that 🙂

In addition to my writing, I finally got my poetry collection organized and submitted it to a press. We’ll see where that goes. I also entered several of my poems into a contest. The results should be out May 15, 2020. I’ll let you know if I get good news or bad news.

I heard back from the short story submission. It was rejected, but with a couple of comments. The mystery was solved too easily, which I accept and can work on. The other comment was something I’ve seen many times before, and that was that the story felt more like the basis of a longer work. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever effectively conquer short 🙂

I’ll definitely keep trying. In the meantime, my backlog of novel ideas continues to grow.

In non-writing-related happenings, my right eyelid became inflamed. It’s called blepharitis and was probably due to a blocked gland in the eyelid. I had the same thing two years ago. Same treatment. Warm compresses twice a day and antibiotic drops (as a preventative) every four hours for five to seven days.

And then, it appeared that my iPod classic (the kind they don’t make anymore) finally kicked the bucket. I’ve had it for a loooong time and thought that it was due. Basically, it froze (wouldn’t sync with iTunes, change menus, reset to factory settings, or anything) and none of the troubleshooting tips appeared to work. Phil and I were considering buying a new Touch, but lo and behold, I looked over at the shelf where I put the poor, gorked (or so I thought) thing, and it had miraculously reset.

I am now happily listening to my musics again 🙂

Filling the well

In April, I attended a Webinar through the Canadian Authors Association on the publishing process following the completion of a book (fiction or non-fiction). It was called, “The End” is just the beginning.

I also participated in a stress test of Zoom breakout rooms in anticipation of its use for a virtual conference. It was pretty cool. I was shunted in to two or three separate breakout rooms, hung out for a while and chatted, and then the experiment was over. We didn’t break Zoom, as far as I understood, but I think it was a valid trial of the system for the intended purpose.

This weekend (May 1-3) was to have been the Ad Astra convention, but it was, of course, cancelled.

What I’m watching and reading

Phil and I watched I Am Not Okay with This. The series was short and so were the episodes. One of the people involved in The End of the Fucking World was behind it and the series had the same aesthetic. It had a very retro vibe (the soundtrack dates it in the 80s) but the story felt contemporary.

Syd discovers she has telekinetic abilities even as she discovers her sexual identity. It’s a kind of supernatural weaponizing of a coming out story, kind of like how Ginger Snaps supernaturally weaponized female sexual maturity. The fact that Syd feels she needs to hide who she is and what she can do makes her doubly monstrous. She doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but continually ends up doing the worst possible thing in the moment. It was good, quirky, and horrific in a metaphorical and (fictionally) literal way.

There wasn’t anything new that we were interested in on the immediate horizon, so we turned to catching up on Supernatural. We’d watch up to the end of season 12 on Netflix and then they dropped the series. It moved to Amazon Prime, but we didn’t have the gap to indulge until recently. We watched season 13 and have started 14. I classify it as comfort watching. Supernatural doesn’t demand a lot of the viewer 🙂

We also watched Spiderman, Far from Home. Not as good as Into the Spiderverse, but we enjoyed it. Tom Holland is the best Spiderman yet.

In my personal viewing, I finished up the latest season of Frontier, Jason Momoa’s passion project about the genesis of the Northwest Company. They did some necessary hand waving at the travel times for story reasons (they couldn’t dedicate realistic screen time to the ocean journeys), but the story was interesting.

In terms of reading, I read the next two books in Sabaa Tahir’s series, A Torch in the Night and A Reaper at the Gates. The story is good. I liked how the three main characters each develop in their own ways. It’s the continuing relationship drama that frustrates me as a reader.

I also read Alex Bledsoe’s The Hum and the Shiver. SPOILER WARNING I quite liked the displaced Tuatha de Danann, living in seclusion in America. Good plot, humorous secondary stories, and a damaged and compelling protagonist.

Autonomous by Annalee Newitz was thought provoking. Newitz comes at the topic of slavery from multiple perspectives. The protagonist, Jack, is a slave to her past. Threezed, is a human slave. Paladin is a robot with a human (cadaver) brain that aids in facial recognition. Most bots are created indentured but can earn their autonomy through service. Med is a bot created free, educated, and with a stable career. Elias, the human antagonist and Paladin’s partner is a slave to his preconceived notions of free will, consent, and sexual identity.

Throw all of these characters into a mixing pot of big pharma, piracy, a drug that enslaves people by addicting them to their jobs, free labs that attempt to make life-saving pharmaceuticals available to everyone, and the security agency tasked to police it all and you have a SF thriller that never stops and never stops making you think.

Finally, Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward was surprising. I’ve read quite a few of Sanderson’s novels. I really liked the Mistborn series. I enjoyed the Legion novellas, Steelheart, and The Way of Kings. Warbreaker was good, too. But Skyward kept me reading in a way his other novels haven’t. I was really invested in Spensa’s journey. The theme was simple: what does it mean to be a coward or to be brave? Spensa’s father was a pilot—a great one—but in one of the greatest battles in her people’s history, he’s said to have run from the fight. Spensa grows up under the burden of that legacy, but still wishes to be a pilot despite it. Frustrated at almost every turn, Spensa has to come to terms with what her father did, her true legacy, and she has to decide who she really is.

It was fabulous.

And that was April in this writer’s life.

Until Tipsday, be well and keep safe, be kind, and stay strong. The world still needs your stories.

The Next Chapter

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, April 5-11, 2020

Another week of physical distancing has come and gone. Another week of working from home or unemployment, and increasing numbers of confirmed illness, hospitalisation, and deaths from covid-19. There is also hope that, in some areas, at least, that we’re reaching a peak, beginning to flatten or plank the curve.

Treatments are being investigated while a vaccine is in development, but this new normal may pertain until a vaccine is available. I hope that you’re finding a way to navigate the enforced isolation.

My own humble contribution is this curation of informal writerly learnings. Enjoy.

K.M. Weiland lists seven ways writing saves us when life is hard. Helping Writers Become Authors

Susan DeFreitas returns to Jane Friedman’s blog with part two of her developing a writing practice series: community. Then, Susann Cokal suggests that instead of setting a goal, try a writing dare.

Shaelin Bishop explains show, don’t tell, so you can actually understand it. Shaelin Writes

Over on Reedsy, Shaelin lists the pros and cons of past and present tense so you can choose the best one for your story.

Tamar Sloan shares what you need to know to keep the words flowing in difficult times. Writers Helping Writers

Jeanette (the Writer) Smith considers whether you can trust editing software. And here’s my latest column: five books on the tarot for writers. DIY MFA

Jenna Moreci shares her favourite man tropes 🙂

Jami Gold wants you to escape generic storytelling by asking why. Then she helps us understand the past perfect tense.

Janice Hardy helps you identify whether it’s a loss of momentum or writer’s block. Fiction University

Chris Winkle tackles Act II of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Then, Oren Ashkenazi explains what Tolkien did right—and wrong—when he built Middle Earth. Mythcreants

Kristen Lamb shares the truth about introverts and why isolation is hard on us, too.

Thank you for visiting, and I hop that you’ve found something here to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe.

Tipsday2019

Join me on DIY MFA for my latest Speculations

Hey, everyone!

On the last Speculations, I provided a brief introduction to the tarot. This time, I review five books on the tarot for writers.

FiveBooksonTarotforWriters

While you’re there, you might as well peruse the site and the great articles by my fellow columnists. Or have a look at some of the awesome resources Gabriela has put together for you.

Until next time, be well and stay safe!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 2-8, 2020

You’ve survived Monday! Reward yourself with some informal writerly learnings.

Janice Hardy says, author, we have a problem: four plotting tips. Later in the week, Janice is poking dead scenes with a stick. Fiction University

K.M. Weiland shares six steps to create realistic and powerful scene dilemmas. Helping Writers Become Authors

Jami Gold uses an, ahem, moving metaphor to discover what matters in our stories. Then, she wonders, where do you want your story (or career) to go?

Jenna Moreci explains how to tell if you should write a series (and when you shouldn’t).

Abigail K. Perry covers James Scott Bell’s final signpost scene: transformation. As one series ends, another begins. The first of my three-part series on the tarot as a tool for mythic storytelling: an introduction to the tarot. DIY MFA

Donald Maass revisits the uncon again: world building for non-SFF writers. Cathy Yardley: your subconscious speaks a different language. ‘Cause tarot (see above)! Writer Unboxed

Meg LaTorre explains how to find critique partners and beta readers. Writers Helping Writers

Kris Spisak advises you to look at these four problem areas when revising. Jane Friedman

Joanna Penn interviews Jennie Nash: would you make a good book coach? The Creative Penn

Chris Winkle explains how storytellers use reactivity and proactivity for effect. Then, Oren Ashkenazi shares seven tricks to improve your minions. Mythcreants

Etuaptmumk: two-eyed seeing. Rebecca Thomas TEDxNSCCWaterfront

Brit Marling: I don’t want to be the strong female lead. The New York Times

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’re taking away something to help with your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well, my writerly friends 🙂

Tipsday2019