Random causes of celebration

_AdventuresinEditingThe grand tour of my sh*tty first draft of “After Life” (AL) is OVAH.  Or, at least, I’ve gone through the draft.  I’ve made copious amounts of notes and to-dos for round two and it’s time to let AL rest for a little bit and marinate in its wordy funk.

But while I have broke out the champagne (more about that below), there’s a lot of work to be done.  See this note that I left in the MS towards the end:

Pardon me, I’m blurry.


Oh well – I’ll get there.  I had some good revelations during the first draft review process. I’m hoping that the sense of “clarity” that I had during the discovery process will stay with me for version 2.


IN THE MEANTIME … I’ve had some recent causes of celebration that call for champagne.  At least adorable little cans of champagne.  WITH A STRAW.

  • Celebrating … a successful review of first draft edits!
  • Celebrating … some good news regarding a short story that I wrote earlier this year! (More about this when it’s official.)
  • Celebrating … some good work for other projects that I’ve been working on. (Wedding shower planning for my future niece!  Finishing a read on Jerry Johnson’s upcoming novel … trust me … when that goes live ORDER IT.)

Life is good, dear friends!  Hope all is well in your world!

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random, Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 8/26/16

Friday FareFriday Fare is where I post links to the random articles that have resonated with me during the week. Sometimes they make me smarter, sometimes they make me hungry … sometimes they have to do with writing and sometimes they are just plain random.

I’ve had a hell of a hard time adulting lately.  Not sure if it’s been the endless rain, still recovering from my weekend at the Writers’ Police Academy (WPA), or what’s going on, but I’m ready for fall.  I’m ready for jeans, my favorite hoodie, toasted graham lattes from Starbucks, etc.

Without further ado – the interwebs have been full of good stuff lately.  In no particular order:

I was a proud Kickstarter supporter of Jessica Lourey’s novel “The Catalain Book of Secrets.”  Ms. Lourey taught a class at the first writer’s convention I attended and I appreciated her insights.  Recently, she gave a TEDx Talk on using fiction to rewrite your life.  This video is about 13 minutes long and well worth a watch.  I was gobsmacked at the amount of grace that Jessie brought to her audience and blessed by the levity and humor she brought to her personal story.  Seriously – 13 minutes.  Coffee break.

Speaking of people named Jessica … my WPA roomie and sister-in-arms Jessica Ellis Laine wrote her Top 10 list for why she loved the 2016 WPA.  And crazy story … there’s a darkened picture at the end of the post.  There’s this lady who looks like me, but she’s dancing. Since I’m the boring-est person in the world, that’s likely my evil doppelganger.

Rick Astley talked to Rolling Stone about the benefits of “rickrolling.”  Seriously.  A) The man talked about rickrolling. B) He wasn’t a dick about his past as a 1980s heartthrob.  The interview revealed an amazingly gracious man who embraces his footnote in pop culture history.  It’s a good read.

I’m not saying that this is a contrast, but when it comes to people who are “uncomfortable” with the past, my favorite Monkee is famously prickly about his role in the US version of the Fab 4.  But … this article (also from Rolling Stone) talks to the three surviving members of The Monkees and goes through their musical history in 15 songs.  Considering that their catalog goes back 5o years (and includes songs from Neil Diamond, Carole King, and Harry Nilsson) it’s not a bad look back.


Listening to: Recently discovered Lord Huron.  There is some good stuff to be heard here.

Reading:  I’m currently trying to read an overdue copy of Sarah Fine’s “Fractured.”  (YA novel, second in a series, the first was very good but I’m having attention span issues [see intro note about “adulting.”].)  I finished reading a draft copy of Jerry Johnson‘s upcoming novel.  (And that. was. GOOOOOOD.  Should be out in October.)

Fiction Update:  Shhhhh … shh … shh!  After Life (AL) is currently resting and getting ready for the next round of edits.  More about that in an upcoming blog.  The next round of edits will commence on October 1st!  In the meantime, I have a lot of books I want to catch up on.  Some involve craft, some are just good fiction.  All good stuff for the brain!

Enjoy the weekend!

Fiction, Process

2016 Writers’ Police Academy: A Recap

A week ago, I had the pleasure of attending my first Writers’ Police Academy (WPA) in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  While I’m not going to do a blow-by-blow account of the weekend (blood spatter, helicopters, and Spice Girls … oh my!), here’s a rundown of the who, what, and would I return to the WPA?

2016 Writer's Police Academy

What is it:  For the past eight years, former detective Lee Lofland has hosted the Writers’ Police Academy, an “interactive and educational hands-on experience for writers to enhance their understanding of all aspects of law enforcement, firefighting, EMS, and forensics.”  The 2016 Writers’ Police Academy was recently held at the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, Wisconsin, for over 250 attendees – including people who flew in from as far as the Netherlands, Bangkok, and Germany.  Although the road trip from Minneapolis seemed long, it wasn’t as long as it was for the internationals. 🙂

Why did I go:  There are a couple of stories that I’m working on that involve characters who are in law enforcement.  And while I am fortunate to have experience with law enforcement (my previous career as a cops and courts newspaper reporter) and while I still have friends who work as cops, I felt like attending this conference would help give an “authentic” dimension to my law enforcement characters.

While that was a big part of it, what put me over the edge was the announcement that Tami Hoag was keynote speaker for the conference.  (And I love me some Tami Hoag.)

The other part that I assumed, but wildly underestimated, was the ability to network at this conference.  I attended with some fellow Twin Cities Sisters in Crime members, but ended up meeting a TON of writers – folks who are at different parts of their publication journey.  While I couldn’t meet every single person at the conference and while there are some people I wish I could have met earlier or spent more time with, there are a handful of people I’m hoping will be lifetime friends.

Would I go again:  Before I give this section the emphatic, resounding YES that it richly deserves, I have a few caveats.  I think that if you’re a writer, especially one who is working on a police procedural novel or any kind of story that involves fire / police / or EMS, I cannot stress how valuable this conference is.  The instructors at WPA are veteran public safety personnel.  In many cases, the instructors “tweaked” the presentations that they give in their respective fields to either shorten an eight-hour PowerPoint into an hour-long session that highlighted the main points for writers or generated material that specifically addressed creating authentic characters or scenarios for our stories.

Also incredibly generous and valuable?  Several of those instructors gave us their emails or phone numbers, saying “hey, if you need any further information, don’t hesitate to contact me.”  I cannot say enough about the professionalism and generosity of the instructors that we encountered.  There were also several authors that gave presentations that talked about the importance of research in our writing.

So will I go back next year?  I’m not sure if I’ll make it in 2017.  And that has nothing to do with the conference itself, but more about my overall conference plans for next year.  I hope to have my novel ready for querying agents next year and want to attend a conference like Killer Nashville or New England Crimebake.  Several mystery conferences have pitch sessions and I want to go to at least one of them.  I also have plans to attend Murder & Mystery in Chicago in spring 2017.  Although these “local” conferences (i.e. – cheap plane ticket or within driving distance) are easier on the pocketbook, there’s still an expense in attending a convention.

Will I go back again?  Absolutely.  The police component is not *huge* in my stories, but I write mysteries.  During this year’s conference, I was able to fix two lingering questions / problems that I have in my current work in progress, as well as get some killer background information for another project I’ve had on the back burner.  Between the people I met / networked with at the convention, the instructors / staff for WPA itself, and the information and sources I was able to acquire this weekend – I cannot say enough about the value of WPA.

Action Plan: I’ve tried to establish a “plan” that guides my path to publication.  And it will come as no surprise to the people who really know me, that I’m pretty shittacular at actually following my plans.  (I’d blame the fact that I’m the mother of little children, but no … it’s me.)  However, if I’m going to be shelling out hundreds of dollars for a convention, I need to have an action plan at the convention’s conclusion – not just go and marvel at how hunky the hot cops were.  Here’s my action plan that I’ve developed after attending the 2016 WPA:

  • Do a search of #2016WPA and start following the folks who generated posts from the convention on Twitter (and Instagram, if applicable.) I feel a bit like a social media whore if I start trying to friend strangers on Facebook, but Twitter is a better venue for this sort of thing. I’m doing this to make my social media platform more robust and potentially attractive to future literary agents.
  • Go through the business cards gathered and follow up with those people via social media or email.
  • I received a book from a conference attendee, as well as just bought one off of Amazon by a new friend/author I met at WPA. Read those books and write reviews for Amazon and Goodreads.
  • Email the instructors that offered PowerPoints and get those for my “Research” files.

In conclusion, and to quote my mom’s and my favorite movie “Shag,” I had “the most fun.”  My experience at WPA was a valuable one for my writing career (not to mention the fact that I totally fan-girled Tami Hoag and danced like a fool to the Spice Girls.)

I heard someone refer to WPA as “a writer’s Disneyland” and honestly … that’s pretty accurate.  It was a weekend well spent.  My sincere thanks to Lee and his team for a wonderful convention.

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random, Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 8/5/16

Friday FareFriday Fare is where I post links to the random articles that have resonated with me during the week. Sometimes they make me smarter, sometimes they make me hungry … sometimes they have to do with writing and sometimes they are just plain random.

Power to the people … I was among the miffed and the peeved when I read that the new iteration of “Sesame Street” was going to be without my beloved Bob McGrath.  (Seriously – I once tried to acquire a 1960’s McGrath album as an anniversary gift for my hubby.  Because nothing says love like obscure vintage vinyl!) But management had a change of heart. Yes, I know that the “Sesame Street” of my childhood is vastly different than the Elmo-driven … erm … drivel of today’s generation, but McGrath and Co. should be able to retire when they damn well please.  (*Crosses arms over chest and stomps over to the corner to pout.*)

“Sesame Street” may have molded much of my childhood, but when it came time to go to college, the soundtrack to “Rocky Horror Picture Show” was what was usually blasting from my six-disc changer.  (<– That paragraph alone may explain a lot about me.)  Was glad to see that Tim Curry, my undergraduate crush, is back in business after a recent stroke and involved with the new iteration of RHPS.

I don’t know where in the universe you’re living, but it’s really hot in Minnesota right now.  Humid, sticky, I-don’t-want-to-even-see-next-month’s-energy-bill hot.  Hot weather = perfect guacamole eating weather.  (Although who am I joking?  It’s always a good time to eat guac.)  Someone posted Boris Karloff’s guac recipe on the interwebs and it was too cool to not post here.


Listening to: Remember when I wrote about my hunch regarding Gregory Alan Isakov’s new album (in collaboration with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra).  Yup … called it.  It’s ddddaaaaaaamnnnnn good.

Reading:  Jerry Johnson’s latest novel. Oh wait … it’s an advanced copy.  I’ll let y’all know when it’s available to the general public, because it. is. good.

Fiction Update:  I’m trying to get my draft to a point where I can let it rest for a bit before I tackle the next round of edits.  I had a couple last minute epiphanies that totally kicked ass and I want to make sure that I capture those thoughts before I let my draft go fallow for a bit.

Enjoy the weekend!