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Friday Fare: 9/17/21

Friday fare - northernThe past couple of weeks have been hectic and wonderful. First off, a lunch with my dear Yoda (complete with garden bounty!) On Monday, my dear Gretchen and her wife Carrie visited. And as if things couldn’t get any better … my best friend from high school was in my town working and asked if she could crash on our couch.  Um, yes?  So that’s meant morning coffee and evening beer with one of my dearest friends.

And it’s only going to get better … on Friday, I’m going to see a couple other high school friends that mean a lot to me and on Sunday, I’m heading to a concert with a college friend. My cup is overflowing with awesomeness and after so many months of *not* seeing people because of Covid, I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend time with people that I’ve known forever and are still connected with even though time and distance space us apart.

Our kids are back in school and that’s been great, even if it’s with a side of worry since they aren’t vaccinated. And I finally have an office space again after a year of hanging out in our spare bedroom.

Finally, my dear friend Jessica Laine and I are hosting an event with Once Upon a Crime bookstore in Minneapolis. It’s a fall-tastic event filled with a wealth of authors who have books that are either fresh off the presses or future releases. The event is virtual and free to attend – click here for more details!

Be kind to everyone you meet. Trust science, wash your hands, wear a mask. Find a really good local orchard and buy some local apples.

– Shelley

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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.

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Friday Fare: 8/20/21

Friday fare - northernSo many things …

I got the proclamation and the marriage sermon done. Both events (the upcoming retirement of my friend Steve and the marriage ceremony for Caitlyn and Tanner) were both wonderful and emotional. The wedding had the added bonus of a trip to Minnesota’s North Shore. To be honest, I kind of wish I was still up there … 🙂

This week, I’m feeling a little bit panicky with a deadline – my kids are scheduled to go back to school on August 30th. Under normal circumstances, I’d be thrilled, but we’re still in the midst of a pandemic and my kids aren’t old enough to be vaccinated. Vaccination status notwithstanding, I still need to buy school supplies and procure backpacks.

Here are some links that caught my eye over the past few weeks:

  • I am ridiculously proud to post this article about my dear friend Kathleen Donnelly.  Her debut novel comes out next year from Carina Press and I cannot wait.
  • This is a long read, but a good one about REM frontman Michael Stipe.
  • Oh Scholastic
  • This book rocketed to the top of my TBR list. (Where it’s joining a ton of other books …)

And finally – I was scrolling through Instagram where I saw a post announcing that folk singer Nanci Griffith died. I discovered her music when I was a college DJ (Blue Roses from the Moon) and I wore out a CD of her live album Winter Marquee. I had the great fortune of attending one of her concerts in 2011, the year before she quietly bowed out of the limelight. May her memory be a blessing.

– Shelley

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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.

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Friday Fare: 8/13/21 (the “up nort'” edition)

When I was a kid, I said a prayer that basically went … “dear lord, I don’t want to grow up to have an ‘ordinary’ life. Thank you and amen.” First and foremost, childhood me … how the hell did you define “ordinary” and secondly … well, good work. But sheesh …

Case in point, this week’s to-do list has the following items on it:

  • Write proclamation
  • Write marriage sermon

Well, here’s some context. I am on a board in the community where I live and its general manager is retiring after 30+ years of service. Our community’s mayor is going to be reading a proclamation and that smart politician asks for anyone who’s requesting a proclamation to provide a draft of the document.

In terms of a marriage sermon, I’m actually up in northern Minnesota this weekend and am going to be officiating the wedding ceremony for the daughter of one of my dearest friends.

I’ll go back to my normal “Friday Fare” format for next week’s blog, but in the meantime – stay strong, get vaxxed, listen to some good music, and keep drinking your water.

– Shelley

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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.

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Friday Fare: 7/30/21

I really don’t have anything very cool and interesting to share this week. So let me “mom out” for a second … how are you doing? Are you drinking enough water? Are you eating vegetables? (And no, not the deep-fried kind that you dip in ranch dressing.) Have you reached out to a friend lately or had a great conversation that really meant something to your heart or overall well being? Have you ordered books from an independent bookstore lately? Most of them pivoted incredibly well to the pandemic and can ship damn near anything. Have you found any new-to-you musical acts lately?

Finally … are you being kind to yourself?

I didn’t get a lot done in my creative world this week (although I’m rocking it professionally). But my kids are well (we are going to their first baseball game this week) and our cats still love my husband more than they love me. My tomatoes are about to start ripening and I am ridiculously excited for that and I got to have a couple great conversations this week with people that I really adore.

Sending hugs!

– Shelley

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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.

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Friday Fare: 7/23/21

I shouldn’t grouse, because it was a really good week, as far as weeks go. I made progress on my WIP, I heard a few musical acts that were new to me, I accidentally got high by being adjacent to a parking lot where patrons were smoking terribly (and terrible) fragrant ditch weed, I saw some coworkers, and I spent at least an hour on beautiful trails in my town. But I’m also getting older and adventures leave me in need of a nap.

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Quarry Hill Nature Center trail

Eldest had an archaeology camp this week and instead of driving back and forth to the house for pickup, I’ve adjusted my work schedule so I’m at a nearby coffee shop during the 2+ hours he’s at camp. It’s excellent in theory (and I am so lucky to have a flexible schedule), but I’ve had a few last minute snags and work emergencies that have reared their heads during this week. But hey … I also netted about 2,000 words on the WIP, which feels good.

Youngest has a camp coming up during the first week in August. I’ll be doing this again, but hopefully without the SNAFUs I encountered this time around.

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Watching: It’s summer vacation and we’re letting our kids play too many video games and stay up way too late. But the trade-off is that while the kids are on their PCs, we are on the couch catching up on the Marvel movies that we’ve missed and the TV shows that our friends rave about and that we’ve missed out on. I started watching “Halt and Catch Fire,” while my husband and I are watching “What We Do In The Shadows.” The TV shows are fine, but maybe it’s telling that we made it through one episode of each this past weekend and we haven’t watched them since then. 🙂

Reading: Dennis Lehane’s “Mystic River” (along with the other books that are piling up on my shelf).

Writing: Have you heard of Jess Lourey? She’s a Minnesota writer that I am very lucky to call friend. She’s been sending out a newsletter on Wednesdays with a little “writing snack.” Subscribe here if you want a midweek gift of writing advice from an expert.

Sending everyone thoughts of kindness, science, and empathy …

– Shelley

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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.

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Friday Fare: 7/16/21

A quick story … my paternal grandma died when I was in first grade. Her name was Sophie and while I can’t remember a lot about her, I remember that she was fiercely kind and that she loved A&W Cream Soda. And she smoked cigarettes. So we’d have tea parties with grandma where we’d drink cream soda and we’d “smoke” cigarettes with her. (OK, maybe I’m making that last part up, but I swear that we mimicked her …)

coffeeandcigs

So, I get nostalgic whenever I see candy cigarettes, erm … sticks! Nostalgia hits whenever I see candy sticks in the store. So when I was editing the other day, I poured myself some coffee, ate me some candy ciggies and man … they tasted better when I was six years old. My kids loved them though, so … Grandma’s still in my heart, even if she’s been gone for a terribly long time.

fronds

Pictured … me and three fierce writer women that I love. On Saturday, J. Lynn Else, Meg Hafdahl, K. Bird Lincoln, and I went on a road trip where we hit wineries, bakeries, cideries, and we even went on a hike. We all write from different genres, but these women helped me weather the pandemic and I’m grateful for their friendship and our camaraderie.

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Reading: I finished “The Comfort Crisis” by Michael Easter. It’s a good book, but it’s one that I’d encourage a person to get from the library. (It’s a renter, not a buyer.) Still reading Hallie Ephron’s “Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel” and Nikki Dolson’s “Love and Other Criminal Behavior.” I started reading Dennis Lehane’s “Mystic River” and am letting the words sink in.

Writing: Querying, writing the new piece, and marveling that my weekends are filling up. I have a glut of proposals due in my day job, but after that I think I’m taking a few days off to work on some fiction. Hopefully I’ll make up for poor word counts then.

Sending love through the screen to you!

– Shelley

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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.

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Friday Fare: 7/9/21

A couple of links to start your Friday:

This piece about Christopher Walken is so pure. And man – I am a little envious of these nuggets of information if they are true.

The writing routines of five famous writers … like the author of this piece, I like the idea of 25 minute writing sprints. I’ve been participating in Saturday morning writing sprints with a group of writers from MWA-Midwest and that has been a great kick in the pants for my productivity.

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Watching: My BFF Anne and I went to “The Dry” over the Fourth of July weekend. A) Eric Bana … meow. B) It was just a fantastic movie based on Jane Harper’s novel about a murder mystery in Australia.

Reading: I finished Laura Vanderkam’s “Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done“. Finishing “The Comfort Crisis.” I started Hallie Ephron’s “Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel.” (I needed a kick in the pants.) And I’ve made a personal goal for the third quarter of this year to read one short story per week. I started with Nikki Dolson’s “Georgie Ann” from her book “Love and Other Criminal Behavior” and DAMN.  So good. (So good that I may just have to finish that book over the weekend.)

Writing: Querying for Dragonfly.

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I’ve been trying to hit a daily word count on my current WIP and I’ve actually sketched out a calendar to help me keep track of what I should be writing on what days. (i.e. – my coworker and counterpart in my day job is on vacation until the 14th – so instead of 1,000 words/day, I’m aiming for 500 words so I can account for any kind of shenanigans that pops up while she’s gone.). It’s helping me be accountable, but there I days that I totally whiff and don’t make any word count. (Boo.) But … constant progress!  That’s the goal!  (And a first draft by end of September?  Maybe? Maybe? OK – let’s not get too ambitious here.)

I’m still grappling with the tone of the piece, but I think I get closer every day. I need to recognize that my recent glut of reading non-fiction is actually my procrastination drug of choice and I need to start reading actual FICTION again. I bought some Dennis Lehane. I’m going to re-read my patron saint Gillian Flynn. In another fit of procrastination, I built a playlist to play while writing. Sometime, I’ll put it out on Spotify or YouTube so y’all can listen to some John Prine and Gordon Lightfoot with me.

It’s been a week, friends … I can blame my lack of writing on procrastination and me being me, but to be honest – there’s been a lot going on. Some of it good (niece getting married and asking me to perform her wedding ceremony, yay!) and some of it sad (some family friends who have passed on). If you’re vaccinated and if you’re so inclined, give and get some hugs from your social circle. Keep washing your hands, move your body, and be kind.

– Shelley

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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.

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Friday Fare: 7/2/21

Travel has left me a lot to say on the “listening, watching, reading, and writing” homefronts below, so I’ll just say that Colorado was everything I wanted it to be (including warm scotch in the parking lot of the Red Rocks Amphitheater). I’m glad to be home and I’m glad that I had some additional alone time last weekend in which I plotted out my additional life and goals as a fiction writer.  I’ll leave you with a compilation photo of my double chins and some purty Colorado images and then we’ll get to it:

PhotoGrid_1625150000375

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Listening: Lucy. Dacus. She opened for Shakey Graves at Red Rocks and I’m kind of obsessed by her voice and whipsmart lyrics. (Lucy Dacus leads to her collaboration boygenius, which will bring you to Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers. You’re welcome.)

Watching: My husband and kids up and left to visit my in-laws after I returned from Colorado. While I missed them, I used my time strategically to watch ALL THE THINGS that no one else would want to watch while they were gone. First off, I met some dear friends and watched Werewolves Within, which is a horror comedy. (I’m not a huge horror person, but this was a great movie.)

On the home front, I watched The Deer Hunter, which made me go down a rabbit hole to watch this documentary about John Cazale, and then I finished watching Law & Order’s new franchise.

Reading: I finally finished Tim Ferriss’s “Four-Hour Workweek”. I read Gillian Flynn’s “Dark Places” while I was in Colorado (and it was FANTASTIC), I also read “The Dozier School for Boys: Forensics, Survivors, and a Painful Past” by Elizabeth Murray. I’m reading Laura Vanderkam’s “Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done“. And I need to finish Michael Easter’s “The Comfort Crisis.”

Writing: Querying for Dragonfly. I have one full request that’s out for consideration, otherwise I’m still working my list of agents.

I’m reading a lot and I’ve been watching more stuff than I usually do, but I’m still writing. I’m planning to submit a short story for consideration in an anthology. Due date is August 1.  I did take my work travel time and was able to make some good progress in edits. (It actually has a real title, but for the longest time, the working title was Trapeze Singer because that’s the song that really helped me capture the feeling I was trying to harness.)

I’ve been working on a side project with some friends for the past couple of years. We are approaching the finish line and July 15th is the date for completion. (Then querying in the fall.)

My new project is chugging along. I’ve been struggling a little bit with tone, but I’ve been excited by the things that I’ve been discovering as I’ve been writing along. (Character ideas, plot lines, etc. The stuff that has me jumping out of bed to grab a pen and paper.) This is one of the first stories I’ve ever written that has presented an actual, legitimate working title, but before that showed up, the working title was Clay Pigeons. Again, a song that helps me get into a certain mindset.

Have a good, long weekend! Be kind, stay safe and well, friends!

– Shelley

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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.

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Friday Fare: 6/18/21

I’m full of exhausted brainfarts as I write this. Exhausted because I spent 1.5 hours actively talking on the phone with people today (which is Thursday …) and another hour+ of morning meetings. This is on top of a week of prep work – I head to Colorado for a work meeting on Monday and I’ve been working on a 2.5 hour presentation with my cohort in proposal management. (A coworker asked me, “can you really talk for 2.5 hours?” Oh yes, my friend, yes … I can talk for 2.5 hours.) I still have a day’s worth of work to do on my end of the presentation and a run through before the weekend starts. It’s deep work that I really appreciate doing, but man … all of the talking and thinking make me feel like I need a nap, a double shot of espresso, or both …

So I am heading to Colorado, which holds this really deep spot of my heart.  Once on a long-ago family vacation, my dad and I were in the front seats of his Monte Carlo and we saw a sign that indicated that Colorado was 16 miles away. We exchanged a look and I probably said “go for it!” And we circled into Colorado and pulled over to pick some wildflowers in a ditch, then turned to car east again – all while mom and my brother were sleeping in the back. We didn’t bother to wake them and it’s still a memory that my dad and I hold dear. My first trip to Colorado was in 2011 and I’ve been back a few times since then. Every time feels magical, even when I’m going for work – so that should tell you the allure of the Rocky Mountains for me. (And no, it’s not just my love for John Denver or the ubiquitous dispensaries on every corner.)

In the midst of PowerPoint presentations and sorting through endless Excel cells of data, I’ve been physically getting ready for a trip. What in my closet actually fits, post-Covid? What of those items do I actually want to wear? Let’s be honest – I’ve already purchased a cute pair of pants and a few shirts for this trip (because I want OPTIONS), but I don’t want to look like I’m trying too hard. (Which is why I haven’t sprung for a new pair of jeans yet … my regular ones should be fine, even though they’re so long I need to cuff them, right … RIGHT? Sh*t, I should probably take a closer look at my jeans situation.)

Anyway … there will probably be no Friday Fare next week because I am getting back on Thursday evening. If you’re inclined, find me on social media (Instagram or Twitter) and chances are good that I’ll be posting thirst traps, mountain-style throughout the week.

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Reading: Sooooooooo many books. I’m still working through my Tim Ferriss books and just picked up Michael Easter’s “The Comfort Crisis.” Easter’s book is interesting, the tag line is “Embrace Discomfort To Reclaim Your Wild, Happy, Healthy Self.”

Writing: I participated in Jami Attenberg’s #1000wordsofsummer and hit 14,052 words. Ooof, that was good and hard and probably vomitous (in terms of the words themselves). But it was a good practice.

Anyone who’s been following along on my blog for the past few years knows that I embrace my work-travel time as a chance to work on my fiction. I’m not bringing my personal laptop to Colorado, but will be bringing a printout of my short story to edit and will be bringing a notebook to keep my WIP fresh and at the forefront of my mind.

Sending lots of love to you all for the week ahead. Be kind, stay safe and well, friends!

– Shelley

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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.

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Friday Fare: 6/4/21

First and foremost … last. day. of. SCHOOL!!!! I don’t know who’s more excited, my kids or my husband and I.  (Spoiler: It’s us … totally us.)

The interwebs were full of article goodness this week. In no particular order:

  • Willie Nelson is a national treasure. International treasure. My BFF Anne and I have seen him twice in concert and we vow to go again whenever he comes back to the Midwest.
  • Oh, Kate Winslet … ever since she started working, she’s been one of my favorite actresses.

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Random: There is a fantastic meme out there that talks about loving your body … this is the body that helped flatten the curve during the pandemic, it’s the one that kept you and your family safe, etc. It is in response to the other prevalent messaging out there about “hot girl summer” and trying to trim down those pounds that some of us (ahem, me) gained during the pandemic.

Along with my newfound bike riding hobby, I’ve returned to the gym after a year hiatus. Going to the gym inspires me to eat better (although I totally snarfed a donut yesterday and it was delicious.) I don’t know that I’m going to lose my “Covid 19,” but I feel stronger and it’s huge for my mental health.

(PS – if I celebrate “hot girl summer,” it will be because I am outside in 80 degree weather and sweating like hell. Because that’s what I do. Fall is my season, seriously.)

Reading: I have too many books that I’m working through right now. I’m reading a couple by Tim Ferriss – this scratches my “reading about productivity” itch. I need to continue reading the “Legends of the Fall” novellas by Jim Harrison. My TBR list is lush and a little overgrown.

Writing: Some days, I don’t think I get anything done, but this past weekend, I hit the majority of my goals. The main one was to finish a draft of a short story that’s been lurking around my mind for the past couple of years. It still needs work, a lot of it, but it was something I wanted to write before I started my next novel.

Querying | A dear friend of mine suggested buying a subscription to Query Tracker prior to my querying adventure. I kind of scoffed, because as much as I tell everyone I’m fairly disorganized – actually, I am not. I love a good spreadsheet and I had my target list built in Google Docs and figured I’d track my submissions that way. Hoooo boy … I love Query Tracker. I’ve queried multiple people named Sharon or Katie or some variation of Jessica/Judy/etc., and QT has helped keep my agents and queries straight. I think there’s a free version, but I shelled out the $25 for the professional version and it’s fantastic.

Next Book | I’m grateful for my friend Julie for recommending Jami Attenberg’s #1000wordsofsummer. I still think that I’ve forgotten how to write new content, but this has been a good kick in the pants to start working on my new book. (I’m also grateful for my friend Jerry for the continued support and email check-ins to make sure I’m not procrastinating the start of this book. He knows me way too well. 🙂 )

Get outside, get vaxxed, wear a mask. Stay safe and well, friends!

– Shelley

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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.