Friday Fare: 5/25/18

A long weekend is looming, friends!  I was telling my husband that I wished that I was going on some sort of road trip or plotting some sort of adventure, but to be honest – I’ve made a list and it includes things like “nap” and “drink coffee on the deck with my husband.”  (I also want to basically smell like sunblock all weekend and check out some of the area parks with my kiddos, so maybe I am adventuring, just in a parent-friendly way.)

Let’s get into some links, shall we?

So, I love Dave Grohl.  Not as much as my childhood best friend loves Dave Grohl (I used to send her flowers and I’d sign them from Dave G. And she’d send me flowers and sign them from Flea [bassist from the Red Hot Chili Peppers].  We were odd.  And single.)  This was a great piece from British GQ.

Some days you’re the fox, some days you’re the eagle.  Just don’t be the bunny.

Good Times was probably one of my favorite albums of 2016.  Mike Nesmith and Micky Dolenz are on tour this year.  I have mixed feelings about this, partly because I saw Dolenz last summer and was a little underwhelmed. (Although the man has amazing stories.)

I got to listen to Michael Kortya at Murder & Mayhem Chicago this spring.  His new book “How It Happened” is out and it was influenced by the missing persons / subsequent murder case of Jill Behrman and how it haunted him throughout his writing life.  This was a great essay Kortya wrote in the Indianapolis Monthly.  This line especially resonated with me:

“When I was struggling to write this essay, a friend asked me a wonderful question: What would you want Jill to know?

I would want her to know that people she never even met still think of her. That she is remembered by her community, and mourned by it.

Maybe that doesn’t matter, but I hope it does.”


Listening: I posted a (not-so-secret) nerd alert to my Instagram this week:

Reading: Still reading Emily’s anthology featuring novellas inspired by “Beauty and the Beast.”  Also working my way through Jason Matthew’s “Red Sparrow.”

Writing Life: My professional (the work that pays me) life has finally relented with its crazy deadlines.  I spent a week doing not a lot of anything (um … hi, Dr. Mario), but I also printed out the last half of “Dragonfly” and have been trying to work through one chapter of edits a day.  And it feels good, but kind of weird at the same time.  I am the person who is getting in the way of my progress and ambition and I need to reverse that course of direction.  (And that’s in all the things of my life, from fitness to motherhood … let’s not even talk about the fact that the soap dispenser in the master bathroom needs to be refilled and has needed a refill for about two weeks.)

Related to my writing life, but a different facet – I’ve been learning more stuff about the “business” end of writing, learning about taxes for creative types from Mindy Mejia.  I also went to a seminar about building a business plan that was presented by Springboard for the Arts, a Minnesota nonprofit that “offers resources, workshops and toolkits for artists of all disciplines to thrive, and for communities to connect to artists.


Have a great weekend.  Eat popsicles if that’s your thing.  Make sure you remember sunblock and bug spray if you’re adventuring in the great outdoors.  Read some books and remember to stay hydrated!

– Shelley


What is Friday Fare? As a recap, on Fridays I post link love to the various bits of arcane shiz I discover on the Interwebs.  I liken it to a glimpse into my mind, but without the 80s song lyrics or mental cobwebs.


Friday Fare: 5/18/18

In a world where you can be anything, always be yourself.  Unless you can be Batman – or have one of the Batmans give your college’s commencement address.

Want to wear socks like the Pope’s?  Apparently this is a thing and possible.

Vanity Fair had an interesting first-person narrative about one woman’s adventure with a “magician of Manhattan.”

Fried. Bologna. Sandwiches.  I want to go there.

And in the social media world, I just want to say that my cat is eons cooler than I am?  Witness that the fiddle player from Old Crow Medicine Show liked one of my Instagram posts.  Was it of my adorable kids?  My writing world?  My love of craft beer?  No – he loved the picture of my feline. (Because my cat is rather adorable.)


Listening: The past couple of weeks have been long and rather emotional.  I’ve had this song on near constant repeat in my car.

The following lyric has meant a lot to me: “What became of you girl, what became of me? / She said / I had good fortune / Silver silk and wool /
I gave them all away and now my heart is full…”

Reading: Finished Thomas Harris’s “Silence of the Lambs.”  And damn.  There’s a reason why that book is a classic.  Reading “Red Sparrow” by Jason Matthews.  And the love story between the two protagonists is coming into focus, because the adage is true – books are usually better than the movies made out of them.  Also, my dear friend Emily is published in an anthology that features novellas inspired by “Beauty and the Beast.”  So proud of my friend and loving her story!

Writing Life: Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard.  Or more precisely – butt in chair at my local Panera Bread and my hands clutching an ink pen while I hammer away at edits.  Sometimes old school is OK.  Especially when you just need to get the job done.

– Shelley


What is Friday Fare? As a recap, on Fridays I post link love to the various bits of arcane shiz I discover on the Interwebs.  I liken it to a glimpse into my mind, but without the 80s song lyrics or mental cobwebs.

Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 5/11/18 (In Memoriam Edition)

My cousin died this week.  And while my father is one of five children and the majority of them went on to have 2-3 kids, resulting in a plethora of cousins; my mom has one sister and both of them had two children. Four grandchildren, four first cousins – two boys and two girls.  Four musketeers that were raised to basically be siblings (including the fights, oh lordy the fights were stupid-epic.).  And now, we are down one.  And god, my heart has a fault line created early Sunday morning when my mom called to tell me that her bonus son had fallen and died of his injuries.

Let’s not sugarcoat things.  My cousin wasn’t perfect, I’m not perfect – our relationship reflected this imperfection.  I cannot drive the heavy machinery that he seemed born to operate and he could barely use a computer.  He drank Busch Light and I drink craft beer.  But we loved our grandparents.  We have all the shared memories that come out of childhood.  A Waylon Jennings CD was on top of the stack of discs I found in his kitchen, so the kid had good taste in music.  (Yes, he was a 38-year-old man, but I was older – so I get to call him a kid.)  There were times this week that I wondered if he thought that I was weird and frivolous, but to be honest – we probably didn’t spend much time thinking about each other, because we were just there.  Most of the time, family just shows up and my cousin and I were good at that.

My cousin was a good man.  He was one hell of a hard worker.  He didn’t talk a lot, but he showed up early to family gatherings and he’d just take it all in.  He drove a truck, he had a dog.  I watched a lot of burly men cry this week as they remembered one of the greatest friends they’ll ever have.  He leaves his dad, his mom and her husband, his baby sister, a trio of stepsiblings, his aunts and uncles, a lot of cousins.  He was buried on an unseasonably cool spring day in a beautiful church cemetery in the country.  I was comforted to see that he’s beside his beloved uncle Gene and close to his paternal grandparents, Ben and Virginia. 

His memory is a blessing, but for the rest of my days I’m going to miss my bonus brother.

Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 5/4/18

What is Friday Fare? As a recap, on Fridays I post link love to the various bits of arcane shiz I discover on the Interwebs.  I liken it to a glimpse into my mind, but without the 80s song lyrics or mental cobwebs.

My eldest child was already picking some “dandi-flowers” on the way to school this AM, so I think it’s time to change up the banner on ye ‘ol Friday Fare.

I’m an ex-journalist and as a mentor once told me, it’s important to fact check EVERYTHING.  Even the claim that your mother loves you.  Pro tip?  Using Wikipedia is NOT the same thing as using a reputable source for fact checking.  Don’t believe me?  See here.

I’ve got a bunch of big love in my heart for Sturgill Simpson.  And I also understand the angst that comes with being a writer.  Reading this article by Leesa Cross-Smith was a treat as it combines the aforementioned. (PS – Oxford American is probably one of my favorite online reading spots these days.  I don’t read them all the time, but they have some fine contributors.)

Career Authors has become one of my FAVORITE writing spots on the Interwebs.  It features contributors who are luminaries in the mystery world like Hank Phillipi Ryan, Paula Munier, and more.  They recently ran a post by Jenny Milchman that talked about the difficulties of balancing family and the writing life.  And I thought back to the day that I left for Killer Nashville.  My in-laws agreed to watch my kiddos until my husband joined them for the weekend and instead of leaving to hugs and well wishes, I was nearly in tears because my youngest son decided to start projectile vomiting as I was preparing to continue my southern road trip.  It was a rough mom-ing moment in my life.  (And I should add … youngest was fine.  My husband brought his mom a bouquet of flowers.  And I got first runner-up for the Claymore Award.  I like to think that there’s been no lasting damage.)


Listening: Last week, I talked about my trio of awesome concert experience and shared that I saw Willie Watson at the Cavalier Theater in LaCrosse.  I’ve had this song on near constant repeat since then.  (And bonus … my eldest also knows the words, which makes us folk geeks.  Or adorable.  You pick.)

Reading: I just finished Kathryn Lane’s “Waking Up in Medellin.”  Ms. Lane won Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion in 2017 for this book.  And it’s good, Lane writes amazing actions scenes. There were a couple parts of the book that I couldn’t suspend my disbelief on.  (i.e. – I rooted for the romantic pairing, but didn’t think that the main character would be getting it on while her life was in peril.  But hey … I could be wrong.)

I have a heart full of congrats and excitement for the next book on my list.  My dear, dear friend Emily Allen West has a novella out with a bunch of other writers.  “Of Beasts and Beauties” is next on my Kindle.

Writing Life: Writing is a marathon, not a sprint and I’m still wogging (walk/jogging) along. I have Sunday to myself since I’m solo parenting this Saturday and I’m looking forward to figuring out what the hell is wrong with the last half of my book.   

May your coffee be hot and your lawn not totally full of dandi-flowers.

– Shelley


Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 4/27/18

What is Friday Fare? As a recap, on Fridays I post link love to the various bits of arcane shiz I discover on the Interwebs.  I liken it to a glimpse into my mind, but without the 80s song lyrics or mental cobwebs.

Click here to see the crown that Prince deserves.  I still miss Prince.

Happy book birthday to my friend Michelle Cox.  She Writes had a neat piece with Michelle on their blog.

Given how weird the world is, I love finding “news of the weird.”  This sounds like a delicious crime.

This editorial cartoon hit me squarely in the feels, sounds like I’m not the only one.


Listening: I’ve had a weirdly wonderful musical weekend / week.  I saw the legendary Del McCoury and his band last week.  On Sunday, I went with one of my dearest friends to see Lord Huron up at the Palace Theatre in St. Paul.  (PS – I’m too damn old for general admission tix.  Ouch.)

Pushing 40 and still collecting bar stamps. #squadgoals #livemusic #lordhuron #iamgoingtobetiredtomorrow

A post shared by skm (@michellekubitzwrite) on

Last night found me at the Cavalier Theater in LaCrosse listening to Willie Watson.

I don’t know if there’s such a thing as “too many” concerts.  I’ve found out the hard way over the years that if there’s an artist you’re into and you get a chance to go … go.  (Ahem … missedoutonseeingjohnnycashandstillpissy.)  My mind is richer because of these experiences.

Reading: How has this book been out for decades and I’m JUST reading this?  Wow.

Writing Life: Plugging along.  I attended an online revision workshop a couple weekends ago, hosted by Samantha & Cristina from ManuFixed.  They’re holding a repeat and it was money well spent.

Be well.

– Shelley


Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 4/20/18

What is Friday Fare? As a recap, on Fridays I post link love to the various bits of arcane shiz I discover on the Interwebs.  I liken it to a glimpse into my mind, but without the 80s song lyrics or mental cobwebs.

OK, so let us be clear.  Roxane Gay is a gatdamn national icon.  Her column “Ask Roxane” does not run ENOUGH in the New York Times.  Dammit.  I hadn’t seen her column “Is It Too Late to Follow My Dreams” when it first ran, but that makes the catch-up all the sweeter.  FYI, NYTimes … more Roxane Gay.  Please?

I had the pleasure of participating in a panel with Catherine Dilts at Killer Nashville. It was great to read her recap of Jeffrey Deaver’s presentation “Writing Commercial Fiction.”  Mr. Deaver gave this presentation earlier this month for Sisters in Crime Colorado / Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America and it’s the same presentation I had the honor of attending in March.  I don’t get to see my mystery brethren outside of the Midwest very often, but reading Ms. Dilts’s recap made me feel like I had attended Mr. Deaver’s talk with my good friends in Colorado.


Listening: The B-52s album “Cosmic Thing” was one of the first albums I remember consciously buying growing up.  (It’s the album that had “Love Shack” and “Roam” on it.  But the whole damn thing is gold.)  I, apparently, am not the only person who has found solace and inspiration in the B-52s.  Forty years ago, the song “Rock Lobster” was released and it inspired a certain English musician who had found himself in a creative funk.  Long live the B-52s.

Reading: I’ve been tearing through books lately, partly because I’ve *needed* to read them, but partly because I just enjoy reading. Earlier this week, as my corner of Minnesota got blanketed in snow, I finished Rebecca Kanner’s “Sinners and the Sea” – a story told from the point of view of Noah’s wife.  It was fabulous.  I liked “Esther” better, but a person could do worse than to pick up one of Kanner’s fabulous stories.

Writing Life: Earlier this week, I was chronicling my work life and how my writing life was out of whack.  The person I was whini … erm, venting to … told me to write a paragraph a day.  I’m not quite doing that, but putting my frustrations in email helped me to refocus my attention on “Dragonfly.”  I’m going through the entire draft and I’m sketching out the edits that I still need to make overall in the second half of the story. Who is it that said that the majority of writing is rewriting? Sigh.  You were right.

Be well,

– Shelley


Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 4/6/18

What is Friday Fare? As a recap, on Fridays I post link love to the various bits of arcane shiz I discover on the Interwebs.  I liken it to a glimpse into my mind, but without the 80s song lyrics or mental cobwebs.

Lots of lit stuff in the webz this week. Let’s dig in (and PS – it’s going to be a love fest of Minnesota writers, because there’s a lot going on in my Minnesota mystery world):

– Jess Lourey is an incredible writer and she’s seriously one of the nicest people you’re going to meet in life.  Bonus:  She’s also a college instructor and one of the most meaningful “craft” classes I’ve had came from Ms. Lourey.  I mentioned that she’s nice, right?  She announced on Facebook that she was discounting the cost of her “Rewrite Your Life” course from ~$100 to free.  I left a comment on her original post and she mentioned her desire to “share the light.”  <– Seriously.  This.  Author.

– Clay Stafford, the founder of Killer Nashville, has now founded a publishing company.  Congrats, Clay!

– Do any of us really balance the reality between social media and creating?  Dani Shapiro contributes a great piece to LitHub.

Finally, I have a weird crush on Donald Sutherland.  I do not care that he’s 82 years old.  (Kinda like my feelings for Christopher Plummer.  Let’s not plumb these thoughts, eh?)  If Helen Mirren and Mr. Sutherland pulled up in my driveway, I’d pack the snacks and hit the open road with them.


Listening: So, my work day used to be orchestrated to random finds on YouTube.  And while I still lurve me some YouTube, the commercials were driving me batty.  So I’ve been listening to “old faithful”: The music I have on my laptop streaming through Windows Media Player.  (Why yes, I’m lame.  And I’m OK with this.)  So here’s my random contribution to y’all finding something new.  Check this guy out:

I went to college with this guy’s big sister and even though I think that covering Bruce Springsteen is sacrilege, he can do it.  (PS – Hayward Williams is the guy’s name.)

Reading: If you keep up with my “Events” section, you’ll note that I’ve added an upcoming event at the Edina Art Center.  I’ll be facilitating a conversation with Rebecca Kanner, the author of “Esther” and “Sinners and the Sea.” Full disclosure:  Kanner’s about a million miles cooler than I am; so the few times we’ve talked IRL, I’ve pretty much stammered, so April 14th’s event should be a real treat. But in preparation for Rebecca’s presentation, I took a spin through “Esther.”  And by “I took a spin”, I basically spent Easter weekend glued to the screen of my phone/Kindle app because “Esther” was so damn good.

Writing Life: Well … my professional life gave me a trio of panic attacks last week.  And this week has nearly reduced me to tears three times, so … yeah. Panic attacks and looming work deadlines do jack sh*t for my creative life, but I’m going to make up for it this weekend.  Mindy Mejia (another Minnesota author extraordinaire) is presenting a session on taxes for us creative types at ModernWell up in the Twin Cities.  (Very cannily titled “Of Death and Taxes.”)  I’m going because I want to learn about taxes.  But to be honest, ModernWell is an incredible work co-operative that’s specifically for women (it smells like lavender and the last time I was there, they had Fleetwood Mac playing on a continuous loop.  It was a weird version of Shelley heaven.)  Mindy Mejia is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.  And two other writer friends are attending.  So … we’re going to call that a trifecta of winning.

Spring is nearly here, right?  Right?

Be well.

– Shelley


Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 3/30/18

What is Friday Fare? As a recap, on Fridays I post link love to the various bits of arcane shiz I discover on the Interwebs.  I liken it to a glimpse into my mind, but without the 80s song lyrics or mental cobwebs.

I’ve been continually impressed by the activism of the upcoming generation.  (And am waiting for the day that Emma Gonzalez files for public office.)  Is it any surprise that folks are turning to the ubiquitous books from their childhood and referring to J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard and his seven-book arc as a rallying cry?

For what it’s worth, I think we’re hip deep in dark times. I strive to choose what is right, even when I want to choose what is easy.

The original 1980s iteration of “Roseanne” is one of the closest ways that I can point to my childhood and say “There.  That’s my life in a nutshell.”  Some of my friends may have wanted to be Kelly Taylor or Jessie Spano (OK – I wanted her hair.), I wanted to have the snark, the wit, the bro wardrobe, and the curls of Darlene Conner from “Roseanne.”  (And Sara Gilbert? Perfection.) I haven’t watched the reboot yet.  I’m not sure if I’m going to, but I have hopes that it represents the blue collar, middle class that’s never really represented on primetime television.

Michelle McNamara’s final book “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” is out, published posthumously.  I’ve been reading the tribute articles and will be reading McNamara’s book soon.


Listening: Work has been insane lately.  The mellow sounds of Gregory Alan Isakov are getting me through.  I also read this article about Annie Mack, a southeast Minnesota-based musician, with interest.  Going to have to check Ms. Mack out the next time she’s playing in my community.

Reading: Picked up Ariel Lawhon’s “I Was Anastasia” at the library this week.  I’m something of a Romanov nut, so this is up my nerdy little alley.

Also, while I was in Chicago, I finished Meg Hafdahl’s “Her Dark Inheritance.” Damn. Good.  Hard copy is out now too … click here to see my review on Goodreads.

Writing Life: Dragonfly, Dragonfly, Dragonfly, Dragonfly …

Have a good weekend, friends!


Friday Fare Recap: A Magical Mystery Weekend

Instead of the (un)usual amount of arcane knowledge that I distribute during my typical Friday Fare, I’m going to recap my “magical mystery weekend” in Chicago over St. Patrick’s Day weekend.  Oh yes, there was vomit, but luckily none of it was mine.

There are times in this writing life, that I mentally pinch myself to see if I’m sleeping or awake.

Jeffrey Deaver presenting “Writing Commercial Fiction” at MWA-U Chicago – Sunday, March 18, 2018.

Sitting less than five feet from Jeffrey Deaver and cracking lame jokes to him does that to a person.

Same with Gillian Flynn sans the lame jokes.  Because I was kind of dumbstruck when I met her.  But I was still within spitting distance of her.

Patricia Skalka, President of Sisters In Crime Chicagoland, interviews Gillian Flynn during Murder and Mayhem Chicago – Saturday, March 17, 2018.

My notes are fairly scattered, because – well … I write notes for me.  And well, if you can make sense out of my chicken scrawl, bless you!  But as brief explanation – Gillian Flynn and Jeffrey Deaver were the keynote guests at Murder and Mayhem Chicago, while Mr. Deaver taught a class on “Writing Commercial Fiction” for MWA-U, an event sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter.  (Mr. Deaver is currently the president of Mystery Writers of America.)

I sent the kiddos and the husband to his parents’ house and made it a weekend in Chicago.  I stayed at an adorable hotel in Oak Park (The Write Inn – a fabulous place, I will stay there again).  I got to ride the green line to downtown. I got incredibly lost trying to find the Murder and Mayhem conference (<– so not a surprise to anyone who knows me.)  But importantly, I got to spend some time with my novel-in-progress and I nurtured the connections I’ve made in my writing community, while meeting more new people.

I’m a sucker for food shots. Especially when the breakfast setup is so adorable (MINI JAMS!).

I’ve always said that my goal in attending conferences is making at least one new connection and cultivating two solid ideas that would improve my manuscript. I cultivated ideas galore during my trip.  I have all sorts of notes jotted down in my notebook – ideas that will strengthen my storyline.  The connections piece is a little less tangible than it’s been at past conferences.  However, a lot of my writing community is found online – people I’ve only friended on Facebook or through other social media outlets.  To get to meet people “IRL” is always fun.

For my fellow Midwesterners – I highly recommend both Murder & Mayhem and MWA-U. 2019’s conference will also be held over St. Patrick’s Day weekend and I think MWA Midwest will try to piggyback on the MMC event to host a master class on the Sunday after (details TBD!).  Murder & Mayhem is more of a “fan” conference, but again – if you’re a member of the mystery community, it’s a fabulous way to connect with your fellow writers and maybe even sit next to Sara Paretsky.

Writing is a solitary pursuit.  Even if you cultivate a tribe, even if you are a member of a writers group.  Weekends like these remind me of what my ultimate goal is in the publication world.  I want to be up on an MMC panel someday talking about my debut novel and “how it happened to me.”  Visualizing your goal helps to achieve it.

I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend.  I’ve heard that my corner of Minnesota is supposed to get blanketed in snow this weekend.  I call shenanigans on this, but hey – it’s March.  We’re not out of the woods yet for winter weather.