Friday Fare: Upcoming Challenge!

30 Day Writing Challenge - Writers Circle
Taken from The Writer’s Circle Facebook Page

November may be all about National Novel Writing Month, but since I’m going to be doing more editing than world creating, I thought I’d participate in this challenge recently posted on The Writer’s Circle Facebook page.  Stay tuned – this challenge starts on November 1!


Will you NaNo with me?

h/t to Pilcrow & Dagger for the graphic, posted last week on their FB page.
H/T to Pilcrow & Dagger for the graphic, posted last week on their FB page.

Ah yes – November 1 is looming.  For a lot of writers out there, that means participation in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) – in short, getting your arse in chair and cranking out a 50,000 word novel by 11:59 PM by November 30th.

In regards to my writer friends, the concept of NaNoWriMo (seriously, I’m just going to shorten that acronym to NaNo from here on out, OK?) produces split reactions.  A third of my friends gasp because they are daunted by the prospect (which, if you write daily, susses out to a little over 1,600 words per day); a third of my friends scoff and say that there isn’t anything good that can come out of a binge writing session like NaNo; and then the final third of my friends are a bunch of happy worker bees who exude sunshine and effective word counts. (I’ll let you guess which third I fall into.  Definitely not the third, erm … third.)

I’ve been “participating” in NaNo since 2009 and honestly, I’ve never fit into any of the categories that I list above.  In 2012 and 2013, I was knee deep in mothering mode for my newborns, so sleep trumped writing.  And in the other years, I was usually in editing mode or doing my own half-assed attempt at NaNo that didn’t really involve keeping word counts.

Despite my apathetic showing in regards to NaNo, I do think that it’s a good concept.  The world is full of people who want to be published writers.  How does one get published?  Well, that’s a blog post for another time, but unless you put words on paper, there’s no chance in hell that your work will be published.  NaNo encourages writers to get into a daily habit of writing.  And at the end of November, people will have a shitty first draft (SFD) of 50,000 words to craft and hone into a better draft.  It also fosters a sense of community, which is great when you consider how solitary writing can be at times.

The NaNoWriMo official website has a TON of great resources that writers can leverage as they prepare for the November 1st start date.  They also provide different prompts and exercises to help writers if they get stuck on their drafts.  Another blog that I’ve been reading and absorbing lately (and for more than just NaNo) is K.M. Weiland’s website “Helping Writers Become Authors.”  (Seriously – this is like an MFA on a webpage.)  Ms. Weiland has had some killer posts lately on helping folks prep for NaNo.

So … 2015.  Will this be my year to NaNo or will I be as apathetic as I’ve been for the past six years?  Weeee-lll.  Here’s the deal:  My goal is to finish a draft of Dragonfly in November.  Keep in mind that it’s already about 75% done, but I’m hoping that the prep work I’ve been doing for the past couple of months will have me in good shape for cranking words out in November.  I’d be doing it, even if it wasn’t NaNo (and seriously … that’s one of the “points” of NaNo, establishing a regular and sustainable writing practice).  But it’s fun for me to cheer my fellow writing friends on and to feel like I’m part of the game too.

OK friends … let’s get ready to NaNo.  Asses in chairs, fingers on keyboards – luck to you all!


Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random

Friday Fare: Hallelujah

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:

Wow – apparently my life has been all about memes lately.  (And following political stories … bor-rrring.  Although it beats reading about the Kardashians.)

I had to dig hard for this article that I had posted on my Facebook wall last week.  Neil Gaiman on why our futures depend on libraries, daydreaming, and reading.

Otherwise, the only articles that I forwarded and actually read this week was this piece from the Huffington Post asking the question that’s on everyone’s mind:  “What’s A Skoliosexual?”  (I emailed my BFF and asked him if he was my “zucchini.”  Yeah … that was a weird message to send to someone, I admit.)

And then, let’s file this under “I can’t make this shit up”:  There was a woman in Champlin, Minnesota that was pissed off at her neighbors and their children, so she wrote them anonymous notes that said her children looked “delicious” and sent them magazines that were addressed to “Your Tasty Children.”  I emailed one of my other BFFs and told her I was glad that she moved out of that particular ‘burb, she responded that her husband gave the woman props for creativity.

Yes folks, the truth is usually stranger than fiction.


Listening to:  In honor of today’s post title, Rufus Wainwright’s take on Hallelujah.  It may be heresy, but this one is my favorite version.

Reading:  My cousin Cheryl invited me to be part of a Facebook society that is devoted to L.M. Montgomery and I found out about this book: “L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys.”  I’m not going to lie, when I found out about these essays that chronicle Ms. Montgomery’s Ontario years, I was having a shit-tacular day and had to fight the mighty urge to Click.  Buy.  Devour.  Truthfully, the only thing that really stopped me was the realization that there are a TON of books that are devoted to the “Anne of Green Gables” author’s life, inspiration, etc.  I’m thankful that my local library has a robust interlibrary loan system.  I have a feeling that I’m going to be doing some academic reading this winter about one of my favorite authors.

Fiction Update: I’m making good progress on outlining “Dragonfly” and noodling on the mushy middle parts that need to coalesce into something that resembles a story and not the end result that looks like my toddlers had a field day on my laptop’s keyboard.

Happy Friday, friends!  I am wishing you a blissful day and weekend. Today I am heading north to St. Paul to eat some borscht with a beloved college friend. I’m looking forward to not checking work emails and soaking in some good conversation.  It will be good for my soul.  Do something good for yourselves today!


Monday Mayhem …

Monday Mayhem… Because Friday apparently didn’t happen in my world. 🙂

Also – this gave me an excuse to play around with Canva.com for a new blog graphic.  It wasn’t the woman’s head buried in the crook of her arm with a forgotten cup of coffee somewhere beyond her reach, but I think it gets the point across.

Hope you are all having a wonderful start of the week! While I don’t have a treasure trove of random articles to share with you, I do have this nugget of goodness to illuminate your mind.

Happy Monday, indeed!

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random

Friday Fare: What’s new and what’s random

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:

Today’s post is where Kenny Rogers and mysteries meet!  OK – not really, but that might give you an idea where my mind has been this week.

My writers group (we call ourselves the Rochester Literary Guild or “Guilders”) has been having a HOT debate about this current ad from IBM Watson.  It features a conversation between Watson and Bob Dylan.  (To say that Bob Dylan is something of a patron saint to the Guilders might be conjecture, but I’m not too far from the truth.)  The main question that we’re kicking around?  Why would Bob do this?  But man … I love to hear The Man speak.  I love his facial expressions as Watson poses his questions and opinions to him.

Kenny Rogers!  Mr. Rogers’ recent retirement announcement prompted me to “Like” him on Facebook.  Considering that my brother and I used to stand on my parents’ fireplace bench and pretend that we were Kenny Rogers and Dottie West (this was at the tender ages of 15 and 17 … no, wait!  We were only toddlers.  I swear.), I’m surprised that I hadn’t liked Kenny’s FB page before.  I’m not sure what I was waiting for – I don’t know if Kenny runs his own social media (I’m sure not), but whoever is posting on this page links to the most RANDOM articles and memes on the Internet.  It’s like reading this particular type of blog post.  Seemingly every 20 minutes.  Love it.

Finally – the other article I read this week recapped Ernest Hemingway’s life as a young man in Michigan.  The author’s premise for this piece was the notion that when most people think of Hemingway, the Paris years and his time in Havana automatically spring to mind.  The New York Times’ author went back to Hemingway’s Michigan haunts – the places that deeply inspired “The Nick Adams Stories.”  It’s a quietly moving piece about a larger than life author.


Listening to:  Nothing that is too notable.  If anyone has good listening suggestions, hit me up on Twitter @shelleybakes or leave a comment! (Jerry Johnson … I’m looking at you … 🙂 And bird call recordings do not count.)

Reading:  I DEVOURED Jenny Milchman’s first book “Cover of Snow.”  There were a couple bumpy patches at the beginning of the book, but as soon as I realized that it had more to do with the fact that I was reading on my Kindle versus an author error, I powered through.  I’m still thinking of a couple of the herrings that she buried.  Thankful that I have a mystery loving mother-in-law who has this book on hold at the library and will email me her thoughts as well.  Ms. Milchman has been featured on any number of mystery genre blogs because of how she toured to support her debut novel.  In summary, as a debut novelist, her publishing house wasn’t pouring advertising dollars towards her book.  So Ms. Milchman and her husband loaded up their kids and drove cross-country to support her book.  Her account of the “world’s longest book tour” can be found here.

Fiction Update: Toasted Graham Latte – here I come!  (See last week’s post for this random shout out to Starbucks.)  I’m on page 112 of 122 for “Dragonfly.”  I should be able to knock the rest of these pages out today / this weekend.  There will be a post next week that discusses my next steps and some of the … well, I’ll be honest – anxiety that I’m feeling about what needs to happen next.  (OK – maybe anxiety is too strong of a word, but I’m the mama of two toddlers.  I don’t have a lot of time on my hands and I want to make sure that the time I have is used as efficiently as possible.)

Happy Friday, friends!

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random

Friday Fare: Random, random musings

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:

William Kent Krueger wrote an eloquent blog post a while ago regarding his decision to temporarily shelve the sequel to his New York Times bestseller “Ordinary Grace.”  The Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote a piece that included him and some of Krueger’s thoughts on that decision.  Very interesting.

This has nothing to do with writing, but I loved/hated this piece on Ina Garten.  I thought it was one of the most insightful pieces on her, but the writer has a serious problem with Martha Stewart and barely concealed their snark.

And finally – I would be remiss if I closed this “Friday Fare” without being cognizant of current events.  It’s been an ugly week.  Another school shooting.  This time in Oregon.  I haven’t read a lot of the coverage of the issue for many reasons.  But I did read this:  The Daily Beast article that urges people to forget the zero who pulled the trigger, but to honor Chris Mintz, the Army vet that charged the shooter.


Listening to:  For some reason, Ashlee Simpson’s “Pieces of Me” was in my head this morning.  So I pulled it up on YouTube.  Yeah – I won’t link to that.  That guilty pleasure is all my own.

Reading:  Almost done with Ann Rule’s “Stranger Beside Me.”  This book is lauded as the ultimate true crime novel, partly because of the late author’s relationship with the subject of this book – notorious serial killer Ted Bundy.  This book is incredible.  I’ve literally had some trouble sleeping because of it.

Fiction Update: Progress on outlining / reviewing “Dragonfly” has been a little slow, but I’ve made myself a deal … I cannot have another Starbucks Toasted Graham Latte until I’m done with a read-through.  And seriously – the TGL is one of the tastiest things I’ve ever drank, I will try to finish my read-through by middle of next week.

Happy Friday, friends!