Fiction, Random

TBR Pile – The “You Gotta Be Kidding Me” Version

20150331_202433A couple random nuggets of knowledge about me:

1) I am an incredibly fast reader.  I’m not as fast as my one college professor who had taught himself to read three lines of text at a time, but I am speedy.

2)  I am the mother of a 32-month-old and an 18-month old.  My eldest has currently decided that now is a good time to potty train.  This is while his younger brother has decided that it’s a delightful time to show whose genetics won out in his creation and has turned into my mother’s revenge.  I love both of my children, but most days I feel like I’ve conducted a three-ring circus by the time the babysitter has shown up at our house at 8 A.M., and host a repeat engagement when she leaves again at noon.

3) When in doubt, I read books on topics that might educate me.  Thus – my new To Be Read (TBR) pile.  I have everything covered from potty training to no-cry discipline techniques (although it is funny to hear my almost three-year-old tyrant mimic my “NOW!” to the Cat).  And most importantly (and probably something I could write a book about) – how to encourage curiosity in one’s child.

4) I’m not all “kid” and no Play – apparently, I reserved a copy of V.E. Schwab’s “A Darker Shade of Magic.”  I don’t even remember what it’s about, so … it must be good if I’m finally getting it from my reserve list at the library.  Right.  Right?

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Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Process, Random

Friday Fare: Links from the around the ‘Net

FridayFareI was a little early heralding the arrival of spring – we got nine inches of snow dumped on southeast Minnesota Sunday night (March 22nd).  My friend Jerry warned me, but I was too busy basking in the sun to pay heed to what I should remember about winter in the Midwest – March is a harsh mistress (or as Jerry put it:  “… that raucous, heartless wench.”

What have I been reading lately on the interwebs?

Anyway … New York Times’ Sunday Routine is one of the series that I follow faithfully in my newspaper reading.  This one with Tim Gunn was spectacular.  Not sure if it was Mr. Gunn, what he does for his Sunday Routine, or what it was about this one in particular, but I liked it.

This article regarding coffee and how it can negatively i impact a person’s productivity is bunk and I refuse to believe it.

I found a couple decadent recipes on the Interwebs this week:  Inspire(d) Magazine is a periodical out of my homeland of Northeast Iowa and the Crockpot Chicken Tikka Masala is going to happen this weekend.  And then a friend of mine posted a recipe for Elvis Cheesecake – and it features a Nutter Butter crust.  I have an unhealthy love for Nutter Butter cookies that I can largely dismiss unless I hear the product name.  But while I fixate on the NB, this cheesecake features peanut butter, banana, and bacon bits.  While I do not think I’m going to make this, I would gladly order this off of a menu.  Or if my friend Jenny goes into the baking/delivery business – I would be happy to have this show up at my doorstep.

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Listening to: Every once in awhile I try to educate my sons in the “finer” music in life (beyond my usual folk fixation and their love of anything Sesame Street or secular Veggie Tales.)  This song got some heavy rotation this morning.

Reading:  I kind of abandoned Skellig.  Which means I should likely put it back on my “to be read” list for another day when I have the focus to finish it.  In the meantime, Sheyna Galyan is a member of the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime group that I belong to and we met over a morning involving firearms training.  I’m currently making my way through her debut novel “Destined to Choose” and I’m enjoying it – Galyan is a Jewish author and in her words, her books are written to “answer Big Questions.”  The former religion minor geek in my psyche is enjoying this in depth look at the Jewish faith.  And her story is well constructed, so bonus!

Fiction update: Editing.  And it’s going well.  There are some good things that are happening on the page and I’m getting ready to release my baby out to the beta readers soon!

Happy Friday, dear friends!

Fiction, Marketing, Random

Marketing Madness

A couple things to share … first, my business cards for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference in April:

bizcard

Got these from VistaPrint and went for something that was simple and classic.  I thought about using a different color of cardstock, but this is what felt right to me at the time and I’m pleased with the end result.

Another item that I’ve created in my continuing attempts to build my author base and to give myself a crash-course tutorial in Canva, I created the following header that I’ve put on my Twitter feed:

MaurA WALTONThis isn’t as simple of a design as the business card, but it was a fun starter project to familiarize myself with what Canva has to offer.  (Plus – it shows sunshine.  Oh dear Lord, I miss warm weather.)

Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive – I spent less than $25 on the business cards that are evergreen and can be used beyond my upcoming conference.  And basic designs in Canva are free to use.

Hope you all are having a WONDERFUL day!

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Process, Random

Friday Fare: Links from the around the ‘Net

FridayFare First and foremost – HALLELUJAH, it is Friday!  And secondly – IT’S THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING!  Winter wasn’t as bad as it could be in the hinterlands of Minnesota, but when you’re the mom of two toddlers – any extended periods of time spent indoors is just cruel to all involved.

Without further ado – here’s the articles that piqued my interest this week:

What common editing mistakes are you making?  Lourdes Venard is a member of the Sisters in Crime Guppies (Great Unpublished) online group that I am a part of.  Recently, she wrote a blog post that encapsulated some of the common mistakes that editors see when editing fiction.  Confession:  I know I’m guilty of a couple of these!

Wow – I haven’t read any of Adrian McKinty’s books, but need to start based on the soundtrack for his Detective Sean Duffy’s books alone.

I do a decent amount of research for some of my stories – I’m nowhere near as detailed as someone like Diana Gabaldon is, but some of the things that I write prompt me to consult subject matter experts or look up articles / various sources to find out random things like the history of embalming (don’t ask.)  Sometimes, I’m simply bookmarking articles for future information – storing little nuggets of information in my head that could be relevant in future stories.  Like this article about a super-secret policing gadget that can listen in on cell conversations.  Hel-lo big brother.

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Listening to:  As I finalize this post today, I have Simon and Garfunkel’s Concert in Central Park playing.  My parents had this album on cassette when I was a kid and I wore it out.  If I ever had to exist on a desert island, this is probably one of the albums that I’d bring with me.  This one and Paul Simon’s “Negotiations and Love Songs.”

Reading:  I have a couple of books that I picked up from the library – Sanctum by Sarah Fine and The Cold Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty (see the link above that got me interested in reading Mr. McKinty’s books).  I am 99% sure that I’ve read Sanctum, but need to page through it to see if that is the case.  If so, I’ll do a quick re-read since this is part of a larger series of Young Adult (YA) fiction.

Fiction update:  Edits, edits, edits.  I’m still on my April 1st deadline.  Just got to keep plugging away to that goal line and not let life derail me.

Also – I’m getting ready to go to the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference next month in Minneapolis.  I had been on the fence regarding my attendance, but they have a Saturday pass for $40.  With my work schedule and with my family, that’s going to be the best option for me.  I’ll be writing more soon regarding what I hope to get from the conference, but honestly – I’m just looking forward to rubbing elbows with some of the Minnesota writers that I’ve befriended over the past few years and drinking with my Writer’s Guild at the conclusion of Saturday’s festivities. 🙂

Random

Stacks

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”- Stephen King

TBR

Forgive how dark this photo is – but here’s my “TBR” (to be read) stack of books.  In some cases, they are books to re-read, but they are safer down here in my office than they are at the hands of my two toddlers.

Editing, Fiction, Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Process, Random

Friday Fare: Links from the around the ‘Net

FridayFare On Fridays, I post a round up of the various posts and articles that have been of interest to me during the week:

Kristi Belcamino, a fellow Minnesota author, gave a shout out to this website for creating graphics.  I’m looking forward to trying this out and integrating into my social media efforts.

Fidgeting = productivity?  The Wall Street Journal had this article regarding how “creative playtime” may spark new ideas.  The note that I made to myself after reading this was that while I didn’t necessarily agree with this idea (I don’t think that I can play with a Slinky and still type at the same time –  not that coordinated), I have found that music is important for sparking creativity.  If I feel like I’m in a slump, changing a playlist can make my mind skip in a productive direction.

And because I’ve re-discovered that my other creative outlet is cooking and because my sons and I are all getting over colds, I riffed on this chicken noodle soup recipe this week.  It was pretty damn good.

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Listening to: As I’m writing this, I’m listening to a playlist of Alison Krauss from YouTube, starting with her duet with Robert Plant (“Killing the Blues”), wanting to listen to this song on constant repeat, and then getting some gratification that I’m not the only one who appreciates Gordon Lightfoot.

Reading:  Truthfully?  I’m reading some Highlander/time-traveling smut right now, so I’m not going to be proud about announcing my reading choice right now.  I’m working on a Dean Koontz novel, still need to finish “Skellig” (heading to Chicago and spending an unexpected extra night has thrown a lot of my life off).  Stay tuned … on Tuesday, I’m going to share a shot of my TBR (to be read) pile.

Fiction update:  My work life is ramping up again and it’s causing me a little bit of anxiety.  I have five proposals due before April 13th.  How do I balance this with my own internal deadline (pages in the hands of beta readers by April 1st?).  What I did was print out a fresh copy of my manuscript and I’m taking another run at reading and making edits as I go.  Mentally, I liken this process to my winter driving adventures during my 16th year of life, when I would have to back my Pontiac Sunbird into the field approach across the road from my parents’ farm and take the driveway at a run if I hoped to get up to the top of the drive.  I usually had about a 50% success rate.  Let’s hope that I’m more adept at driving / editing some 20 years later.