Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random

Friday Fare: Random Brain Stuff

Friday FareFriday Fare is my “best of” when it comes to Internet links that I’ve read this week.  Here are the articles that caught my attention and maybe made me a smarter person this week:

I originally was going to start this post by saying “I don’t have a lot to share this week” and I really don’t, but then when I went through my bookmarks and random things I’ve emailed to myself this week, I realize that I’ve kept my mind decently occupied.  However, I found myself in one hell of a funk this week upon the shootings of the two TV journalists in Virginia – Alison Parker and Adam Ward.  One of my former news colleagues nailed it when she wrote the following post on Facebook:  “Print and TV journalists are sometimes opponents. Not today. Today I am grieving with the WDBJ7 employees and the loved ones of Alison Parker and Adam Ward. I’m also praying for my friends who still go out and cover the news every day. Be safe, be aware and know that one (former) print journalist wishes she could give you an in-person hug today.”

I had plenty of angst for the television reporters that I came across during my tenure as a print reporter, but at the end of the day – we were all doing our jobs.  And for this to happen?  The thing I kept thinking as I read the coverage of their murders was that these guys were just kids. Their deaths made my heart hurt.  A lot.

Other than that?  My reading list was inane:

Can you filter cheap vodka and make it better?  This article tests a theory.

This piece about a retired cop and a potential UFO sighting was just well done.

And finally, performance artist Amanda Palmer asks some questions that I found myself thinking before I had my children – how do you balance children with creating art?  What changes?  What gets better?  What might get worse?

One of my favorite passages:

“So no small wonder that as I approached my mid-thirties I entered a conflicted baby conundrum. If I had kids, would I turn into a boring, irrelevant, ignorable artist? Would I suddenly start writing songs about balance and shit? Would I have a sudden, terrifying, interest in the LUTE?

Would I become that annoying person who is so enthralled with their child that it’s impossible to have an intelligent conversation with them about art because they’d rather show you iPhone photos of their kid drooling out a spoonful of mashed carrots? This all made me really afraid.”

(As for what I’d tell Amanda Palmer about the intersection of motherhood and art is that having kids has given me a sense of urgency about my writing.  And for me, it’s deepened my process, but yeah … the sleep deprivation is a real bitch.  And I haven’t found myself drawn to the lute yet.)

***

Listening to:  Still on my Ray LaMontagne kick.  Specifically, this song.  I’ve had a couple late nights recently working on a bid for my full-time job and this has helped me get through a few work days.  What slays me about this video is not only LaMontagne’s raw vocals, but just the cohesiveness in his backing band The Pariah Dogs.  Nothing flashy about them, just solid skills and a non-verbal shorthand that powers their collaboration.

Listening II:  I really adore Kacey Musgraves.  I’ve said that before, but I came across her NPR “Tiny Desk Concert” the other day and re-upped my adoration of her.

Reading:  Still reading “Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Bibliography” by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  My first-grade self is a happy camper.

Fiction Update: Nothing this week.  And trust me, I’ve been bitchy and antsy because of it.  Next week will be better.

Happy Friday, friends!

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Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random

Friday Fare: Woo! Friday!

Friday FareFriday Fare is my “best of” when it comes to Internet links that I’ve read this week.  Here are the articles that caught my attention and maybe made me a smarter person this week:

I have yet to get on the Sara Paretsky bandwagon (which is kind of pathetic … she lives in Chicago, is a member of Mystery Writers of America – Midwest chapter, and is the mother behind the Sisters in Crime organization).  But for the reasons I’ve parenthesized and because of this article, I’m looking forward to getting caught up in her backlog of V.I. Warshawski books.

I have a lot of love for Dave Grohl.  My high school gym teacher had posted this on his Facebook wall – it’s worth the eight minutes of your life.

So – who didn’t read the New York Times’ account of Amazon’s cutthroat / “bruising” work environment?  (My parents don’t count …)  Since then, I’ve read that the government is wading into the fray (that oughta be good …) and then I read this piece from Forbes where the writer says: “Journalists enjoy the right to be selective, conducting long interviews and then using only short segments in an article. They enjoy the right to interview wide ranges of people and then to build the final story around a small subset.”  That line resonated with me because of my former career as a journalist – the challenge to take all of that information and drill it down to something publishable, accurate, and palatable … it was a challenge that I relished.  But it’s also a good warning to take everything that you read in the media with a salt shaker … you never know what ends up on the cutting room floor.

Finally, I recently wrote about how much I loved the movie “Real Genius.”  This time around, we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of “The Usual Suspects.”  There are not enough words for me to accurately describe how that movie made my mind explode the first time I saw it.  Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, the late and amazing Pete Postlethwaithe … every member of that cast was just so spot on in their roles.  It is funny to hear the director’s memories of the movie and to read the reviews – some scathing – that were published 20 years ago.

***

Listening to:  John Prine and Bonnie Raitt’s duet of “Angel of Montgomery.”  Discovered a new band last weekend – Lucius.  Right now as I’m writing, I needed some Ray LaMontagne.

Reading:  I reserved “Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Bibliography” by Laura Ingalls Wilder at my local library and picked it up the other night.  I’m only through the acknowledgements and the introductory chapter, but I’m really enjoying the book.  Because I grew up in the Midwest – my entire first grade class was raised on this stuff.

Fiction Update: I made a read through the story that I call “Dragonfly.”  I’m hoping to take some time this weekend to sketch out an outline of what I have written (the story’s basically there – just need to string some lines between the tent poles.)  I have another idea that recently crawled into my head space, but I’ve just been jotting down notes on that, going to let it marinate for awhile before I commit to paper. (PS – Have I ever told you that I love this writing life?)

Happy Friday, friends!

Fiction, Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Process, Random

Friday Fare: It’s on the Internet … must be true

Friday FareFriday Fare is a round up of my “best of” when it comes to Internet links that I’ve read this week. Enjoy!

There were a couple things I read that got elevated to “Post-It” status on my desk this week.  Sure, I had to unearth said Post-It from my desktop, but these items were important enough for me to remember and post for your reading enjoyment. 🙂

First is this post called Slow Berkshires from Alana Chernila at “Eating from the Ground Up.”  Ms. Chernila is known for her incredible recipes and their reflection of the “farm to table” movement and while this post is a departure from the typical fare of her blog, it is in line with the aesthetic of her recipes – local, organic, intentional.  The post is a reflection of the hike that Chernila and her husband took from one end of the Berkshires to the other.  And while I know that such a jaunt is a few years from my present life (hel-lo, mother of toddlers!), it is something that’s on my bucket list.

The other three things I jotted down are a little more random … one of them is down below in “Listening,” while the other two are food related.  1) If you have an abundance of cucumbers right now from your garden or CSA, make these pickles.  Now.  2) I’m kind of obsessed by the concept of turning zucchini into noodles.  It seems like a travesty, but it sounds like a tasty one to try …

BUT THIS IS NOT A COOKING BLOG.  Now to the articles that enriched me as a reader and writer this week …

I grew up in the Midwest and I was reared on the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.  (Do not get my mom started about the side trips I begged to go on during our bi-annual trip to South Dakota where I would seek out random LIW-related sites.)  So this literary mystery about whether or not Pa Ingalls brought a heaping helping of vigilante justice to some serial killers was interesting (even if unlikely).  Side note – I still need to read “Pioneer Girl.”

Here’s another bandwagon I’m late for:  Ann Rule.  Turns out that one of my FB author friends was real-life friends with the late author so upon Ms. Rule’s death, I found myself reading a lot about this amazing ex-journalist, turned author.  And while it seems that everyone and their mother has a Ted Bundy story in the Midwest, I need to get my hands on “The Stranger Beside Me.”

Finally – Facebook, it’s ability to stalk me via whatever “feels” I’m having and its targeted ad suggestions should squick me out, but I tune out ads as handily as I ignore whining children.  However, I’ve noted that FB thinks I should take James Patterson’s “Master Class” for writers that is offered online.  Luckily, another writer did that for me.  Joyce Maynard’s piece is light on the snark and her conclusion is surprising …

***

Here are the other mediums that have been inspiring me:

Listening to: One of my coworkers texted me an article the other day about the television debut of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats.  I’m in love.  Jimmy Fallon said that their music is pure barroom soul and he’s not too far off the mark.  NPR is currently streaming their upcoming album.  I have a sense that this album is going to find it’s way into my home soon.  And hopefully, my children won’t start running around singing “S.O.B.”

Reading:  Just finished “Winter Garden” by Kristin Hannah.  I’m still processing this one … it was an incredible read and it’s the kind of book that an aspiring writer can learn a lot from …

Fiction Update:

Wine and song ... er, outlining
Wine and song … er, outlining

This was the scene at Casa de My Kitchen Table the other night … I unearthed the folders that had the notes for my “resort story” and I started to page through them.  I was surprised to see how much I had written (I apparently went on a jag with this project in October 2012 through February 2013 … my eldest son would have been three months through eight months old during that time … no wonder I barely remember anything!) and even more thrilled to discover it wasn’t total shit!  Woo for some postpartum progress!

Happy Friday, friends!

Fiction, Process, Random

For the Summer

My dad ... circa 2009.
My dad … circa 2009.

I am admittedly late to the Ray LaMontagne bandwagon.  It happens to me frequently – there will be a musician or a band that is burning up the charts or have become the indie darlings of the radio and I’ll find out about them five years later.  Then I become a little obsessed with their music and email all of my friends something along the lines of “you need to hear this band!”  And then … crickets.  Because they typically will have heard of said band when they were relevant.

Anyway … Ray LaMontange.  Love his music.  And although I’m just writing about him now, I’ve been listening for a couple of years.  And as I’ve written in the past, music tends to inform a lot of the atmosphere around my writing.  Some writers need absolute silence to write.  I’ve heard that Stephen King likes to listen to heavy metal when he’s penning his work.

I’m in a bit of a limbo right now in waiting to hear feedback from some of my beta readers.  I have a couple of items that I want to work on in my writing life, but I’ve been thinking about using this time to start outlining the next full-fledged fiction project that I’m going to work on.  To give you an idea where my head is right now (beyond trying to come up from air under the amount of boxes and crap that my husband and I need to unpack … bleh), it vacillates between a story set in my heart’s home of northeast Iowa or the story that’s set in the lake country of west central Minnesota.  The northeast Iowa story starts in the fall – it always has had its starting time frame in the fall, when the trees along the Mississippi River bluffs display their quiet riot of fall colors and when the farmers are in the field, trying to harvest the last of the corn.  But the west central Minnesota story is a resort story – it belongs on a place called Dragonfly Lake where time is moving on, despite the memories that would keep Marv Carlson trapped in the past.  And when Ray LaMontagne’s “For the Summer” cues up on my mp3 player and when I think about the summer I spent cleaning resort cabins on weekends for a couple extra bucks, my heart knows what story to tell next.

PS – The picture above is of my dad.  When my mind isn’t thinking of Minnesota lakes, Mr. LaMontange’s song makes me think of summer on the farm – one arm out the rolled down window of my mama’s pickup truck.  Spring Grove pop.  And I think of this particular day on a long ago vacation when my dad and I found a riot of flowers in South Dakota.

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random

Friday Fare: It’s on the Internet … must be true

Friday FareFriday Fare is my “best of” when it comes to Internet links that I’ve read this week.  And it’s been so long since I’ve written one of these, I had to look back to see the format!  Uff da.

Without further ado – these are the articles that caught my attention and maybe made me a smarter person this week:

Forbes ran an article about what is considered to be “on time,” “late,” etc.  I hate to admit this, but I’ve become terrible about making appointments on time.  I could blame my children because readying for an outing, loading two toddlers in a car, and refraining from drinking is probably the closest thing I’ll come to competing in a triathlon in my life, but this is something I need to be better about.

Lee Lofland, the mastermind/force behind the Writers’ Police Academy, published these “6 Police Apps for Writers.”  I’m upgrading to a better phone in October, I think some of these are going to find their way on my phone …

And this has nothing to do with writing, but a lot to do with who I am as a person … one of my all-time favorite movies is “Real Genius.”  And it turns 30 this year.  Kids and writing have cut back on my movie watching bandwidth, but “Real Genius” is a movie that I could watch over and over again.  It’s eminently quotable and it has Val Kilmer in it.

***

Speaking of movies, I’m making time to take one in this weekend – Ricki and the Flash.  I’m not one of those people who fawn over every film that Meryl Streep makes (and honestly, I have never seen the older films that put her on the map), but some of my favorite movies from recent years feature her: “Julie and Julia” (dragged my hubby to that one, he didn’t complain) and “Mamma Mia!”  Plus Kevin Kline is in it … this can’t be a bad thing (“In and Out” is also one of my favorite movies.)

Otherwise, this is what has been inspiring me lately:

Listening to:  I’ve been on an Old Crow Medicine Show kick recently.  I went to see them in concert in May and it is in one of my top five shows.  Here are a couple of YouTube concerts that give a glimpse of how talented these guys are.

Reading:  Sheyna Galyan gave me an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of her latest book “Strength to Stand” (will be released on Sept. 1.).  And damn … it was a good read.  I’ll be posting a review on my Goodreads feed soon.  I’m also reading “Winter Garden” by Kristin Hannah.

Fiction Update: Right now, I’m filling the well back up and reading good books, getting ready to beta read a friend’s novel, and mentally weighing what project I want to start outlining next!

Happy Friday, friends!

Uncategorized

Le Sigh: This Writing Life

Kitteh!

There’s a meme that’s been on Facebook recently that claims writing is 7% inspiration and 93% staying off of the Internet.

In the case of this blog, I apparently have been gone too long from this particular portal of the Internet, so for that I apologize.  I have the usual bucket ‘o great excuses, but excuses are typically a lot of hot air, so I will spare you the details. However – my time away has been well spent, so let me do a little bit of catch up:

May 2015 – I kinda, sort of hit my internal deadline for the final revision of After Life (AL) and was able to get the manuscript to my friend Jeff by May 15th.  So where does the “kinda, sort of” come into play?  He didn’t get the last three chapters until July 18th.

June 2015 – I made a friend, slept a few nights in a B&B run by monks, and met fellow members of the Mystery Writers of America – Midwest Chapter in Chicago!  The occasion was the Printers Row Literary Festival and because I wanted to do some networking this year, I hopped a plane and soaked in some adventure.

July 2015 – My family moved to a new house!  We’re still in the same town we were in before, but acquired newer digs with a huge backyard for our little hooligans.  I also turned 37, fully finished my first novel and sent it to three beta readers, and I submitted a short story for consideration in a local mystery anthology.  I’ll find out in October whether it’s been accepted or not.

August 2015 – My month has started out with a literary bang, having attended the book signing of my dear friend and mentor, Jerry.  (He’s also one of my beta readers.)  I’ve also sketched out a couple of goals for this month – serving as a beta reader for my friend Emily is one of them.  I also need to “organize” my own writing life and make some progress during my downtime while I await feedback from my beta readers.  I’m hoping that includes some outlining on one of my “shelved” fiction projects and catching up with some reading.  Oh … and unpacking.  Always the unpacking.

I’m hoping this finds you all well and reading!