Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Process, Random

Friday Fare: Links from the around the ‘Net

FridayFareConfession:  I love the Internet (affectionately known in my household as “the Interwebs.”).  On Fridays, I’m going to post a round up of the various posts and articles that have been of interest to me during the week:

Over the past year, I’ve been intentionally seeking out the mystery writing community.  I’ve joined a couple of writing associations (Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers Association) and follow various listservs and blogs that are devoted to the craft, research, etc.  D.P. Lyle’s blog has become one of my favorites and there are times where I just feel so incredibly lucky and blessed to have a legitimate reason to read these things. 🙂  This recent Q&A blog is no exception to this rule.

I’m a huge Deborah Harkness fan – these articles were a delight to read.  And timely too since the first book of the All Souls Trilogy and its intro is set during this time of year. (Also – I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Harkness earlier this year.  If she is at a book signing in a community near you – go.  She is a wonderful speaker and just a warm person.)

And this has nothing to do with writing, but it’s soup season.  Here are a couple of recipes that will be making their appearance in my kitchen very, very soon!

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Listening to: Busted … a conference call.  I’m multitasking.  In terms of music, I’ve been digging playlists on YouTube lately – listening to old favorites and discovering bands that are new to me.

Reading:  I am a proud owner of a Kindle, but I also love physical copies of books.  And thus far, the only duplicates that I have in electronic and physical form have been strategic buys.  (i.e. – I love Deborah Harkness’s books.  But dragging around my hardcover versions of her books around my house with two toddlers is akin to throwing a plugged in toaster into a bathtub.  Not the smartest idea that I’ve ever had.  So when her books have been on sale in the electronic format, I’ve bought them.)  But earlier this week as I picked up the “latest” Sam Owens novel from J.T. Ellison, I kept thinking to myself … “why do I feel like I’ve read this before?”  And not intentionally, I had purchased a paperback version and the ebook.  Sigh!

Fiction update: Plugging along.  I’m getting to a scary part of my WIP that I know is not well written, so … let’s hope that the luck and muse that have been with me so far don’t abandon me in this crucial part of the journey!

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Finally … Happy Halloween!   My husband and I are going to be escorting a mini-Batman and a garden gnome (sans hat and faux beard) for trick-or-treating tonight.

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Process, Random

Novel Playlists

When I was a kid, my brother and I would regularly climb up on the bench seat of my parents’ stone fireplace and entertain the masses (eh-herm, my parents and maybe the dog) with our performance of Kenny Rogers / Dottie West songs. Another early musical memory that I have is cranking up my parents’ 8-track player and blasting Eddie Rabbit’s “I Love a Rainy Night” and then go hide under the couch. Because – you know, after the second or third time that this happened, I’m sure that my parents had no clue who the perpetrator was.

OK – so I’ve established that I was a goofy kid. The other thing? While I didn’t turn out to be a virtuoso musician, music is something that’s really important in my life and to my creative presence as a writer.

In September, Sisters in Crime had an interesting group of questions for its blog hop and since I’m apparently immune to deadlines – I figured I’d respond to one of the blog prompts: Do you listen to music while writing?

Oh absolutely, I listen to music while I’m writing. I currently have over 130 hours of music saved up in Windows Media Player and if I’m working on my day job or if I’m writing fiction, there is always music playing. I also have a little mp3 player that has a mix of music on it – that’s for airplane rides, gym trips, and writing evenings at Panera Bread when I’m not feeling the easy listening that pipes through their speakers or I want to tune out the noise that’s around me.

What’s on your playlist?

Before I delve into my personal playlists that I’ve constructed from my Works in Progress (WIPs), there’s one author who really does playlists well: Deborah Harkness. In fact, when I met her at a book signing – I stuttered my thanks for introducing me to the music of Florence + the Machine. “Of course!” she replied.

Ms. Harkness is the author of the “All Souls Trilogy” that chronicles the journey of Diana Bishop, a thoroughly American witch, and Matthew Clairmont, a mysterious and prestigious biochemist who also happens to be a vampire.

Harkness’s playlists are stunning and chronicle her inspiration for her individual characters, as well as the books themselves. As someone who is an avid reader and as someone who really loves music, Deb Harkness’s Spotify playlists are a little piece of heaven. (Find Ms. Harkness here on Spotify.)

Two of my WIPs have their own playlists. The music therein serves a couple of purposes – one is to evoke a certain feeling in me while I write. It’s not unheard of for me to play a certain song over and over again while I’m writing a certain scene or trying to get into a character’s head. The other purpose is to mentally transport myself to a certain time and place that inspired me in the first place. My novel “Afterlife” is set in 2002-03. No, I’m not going through and finding the “NOW” CD compilations from that time, but I remember what CDs I was obsessed with when I was 25 years old. Listening to Moby’s “Play” album transports me back to the tiny house that I rented when I was a broke journalist. U2’s “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” had been out for a couple years at that point, but I had just discovered that album – the song “In A Little While” in particular.

There is a tricky father-daughter relationship that weaves its way through my story. One day I was scrolling through my mp3 player and came across Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son.” That was like a visceral punch to the gut. The anguish in Stevens’ voice helps me understand some of my characters’ misunderstandings. Pearl Jam’s “Man of the Hour” also helps.

So yes – music is a constant of days and of my work.

What about the rest of you? Anyone else out there who builds playlists for their writing lives?

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Process, Random

Friday Fare: Links from the around the ‘Net

FridayFareConfession:  I love the Internet (affectionately known in my household as “the Interwebs.”).  On Fridays, I’m going to post a round up of the various posts and articles that have been of interest to me during the week:

The following column from UK’s The Guardian has caused a bit (understatement) of a brouhaha around the book blogger community. To be honest, I couldn’t stop reading Kathleen Hale’s narrative … it was kind of like watching a train wreck and wondering if the author would regain her sanity before making a total ass out of herself.  (Spoiler alert:  She didn’t.)

I think I’ve said this before, but J.T. Ellison is one of my favorite authors.  Hands down.  This article delves a little bit into Ms. Ellison’s professional life before her career in fiction.  As someone who has starry-eyed dreams about being able to hang up my day job (or even just go part-time?), this was inspirational.

I got my invite to Gmail’s new app – “Inbox.”  Just waiting to see if I can enable it without disclosing billing information.  (*Gnashes teeth in irritation.*)  Prior to receiving the invite, I had emailed this article to my husband and was super excited. Because this is an app I think I can actually use.

And finally – this has nothing to do with the writing world, productivity, or really … much of anything.  Except that I read this article from The Kitchn and was enamored with the idea of “mother sauces” as the backbone of French cooking.

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Listening to: “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse (That voice!)

Reading:  Just finished the “King” series from Mimi Jean Pamfiloff.  Oh dear … I’ll admit it.  These aren’t books that I’d recommend to my mother (or my mother-in-law who is a voracious reader), but this was absolute brain candy.

Fiction update:  Edits are going pretty well.  I’m back on my revamped schedule that will have me completing the next round of edits by November 10th.  After that, I’m going to let AL rest for a couple of weeks and then do a fresh read through before I send to my beta readers.  I’m excited and nervous.

Editing, Fiction, Process, Random

Perserverance

Dear Yoda,

It was great seeing you this past weekend. And thank you for the kind words that you wrote in your book to me.  I can’t tell you adequately what it meant to read that.

I’m struggling today. Part of it is exhaustion from the kiddos.  They are great, but between parenting and work and trying to make the needle move on the novel edits, it doesn’t leave time for much else.  And then there is the editing process itself … one foot in front of the other, all while trying to ignore the inner voice that tells me that each word that I place on the page is shit.  And while some people think that writing can be taught, they forget that I really have no mental capacity to retain the words in the writing books that I’ve read.  In the meantime, I want to read some more Craig Johnson.  When I read the first Longmire book, I felt electrified.  His voice was so unique and genuine.  How do I capture that and find my own genuine voice?  But more accurately – when the hell am I going to find time to read? 

Sorry that this has turned into a regular ol’ bitch session.  I had wanted to get some pages to you by the end of the year.  And I think that I’m almost there.  But as I keep revising, I can see a couple of spots that just need a little more love before I let this baby out into the world.  How do I deepen the relationship between my heroine and her father?  How do I transition naturally into a romantic relationship between her and Travis?  How do I amp up the tension, but keep the B-story progressing?  How do I know that this book is not shit?

I’m not going to stop.  This is what I do in my “free” time. I try to move that needle and inch closer to my dream of being a published fiction writer.  But god, sometimes it’s hard. 

Hope that the bird hunting went well and that your hunting buddies didn’t give you too much grief that you had to postpone your trip to attend your book signing.  It’s going to sound stupid when I say this, since you are old enough to be my dad – but I am so very proud of you. 

-sk

^^ An unsent letter to my mentor.  Today’s a tough day, but if writing was easy – everyone would do it.  I am getting so close, but the edits are taking longer than I anticipated and there are just a few problem spots that need time, love, and undivided attention.

I will get there.  I will persevere.  But damn, there are days that I think my spirit animal is an effing tortoise!

*~*~*~*~

OK – now that my rant is over.  Here’s what’s good:

  • My author platform is limping/wogging (walk/jog – get it?) along.  I’m aiming for a January 1, 2015, launch.  Kind of scary, but I embrace it.
  • I entered the first 20 pages of AL to a writing competition that is hosted by a state chapter of the MWA.  To be honest, I do not anticipate to win, but I basically invested $25 into a brief critique of the opening chapter of AL.  And you know what I realized through that process?  I do need to tighten up some of the exposition a little bit.  That re-read in getting those pages ready for submission provided a great moment of clarity.

That’s what’s good in the writing world.  When it comes to everything else, life is pretty damn good.  My BFF gets married this weekend.  It’s fall in Minnesota and the tree out in front of our house is a beautiful tangerine shade.  My husband and kiddos are healthy.  And there’s a lot of love in my world.