Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random, Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 9/30/16

Friday 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.

Michael Chabon wrote a beautiful piece on his son, “the prince of fashion,” for GQ.  As the mama of boys and an unabashed Chabon fan, I read this with great interest.  It was an article that was beautifully eloquent.

Shirley Jackson has been getting some press lately partially due to the recent release of Ruth Franklin’s book “Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life.”  This piece was adapted from Franklin’s book for New York Magazine.  In a world where the discussion of mothers “having it all” seems to be as divisive as the political world we currently live in, I appreciated reading an article that asserted that motherhood helped Jackson’s writing career blossom.  I’ve been a writer for much of my life, but my fiction writing edged its way as a priority after my eldest was born.

This article about the “alchemy” of the Filet-O-Fish sandwich from McDonalds stirred a couple feelings in me:  1) Recognition, because – man … I have an unhealthy love for FOF sandwiches (that I only indulge in during Lent, right around when Shamrock Shakes are on the menu.). 2) Absolute hilarity:

“The bun’s plain. The cheese sucks. The fish tastes like nothing. But in concert, McDonald’s fish sandwich is alchemy.”

^Truer words, never spoken …


Listening to: I’ve made no secret of my love for Gordon Lightfoot.  It’s thrilling to see that Vanity Fair wrote a piece on him.

Reading:  Reading has been taking a backseat lately to work and trying to get words down on paper for Dragonfly.  However, the latest Pendergast novel will be hitting my Kindle soon, I think this will be a well deserved reward for what I accomplished this month on Dragonfly.

Fiction Update: I was able to get ~6,000 words out over the past weekend when I was away in Wisconsin.  While I’m nowhere near my goal of 3,000 a day, I’ve realized that 1,500 is doable for me.  A good lesson learned.  I’m hoping to be around 70-75,000 words by the end of this week and in possession of a sh*tty first draft.

Enjoy the weekend!

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random, Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 9/23/16

Friday 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.

William Kent Krueger and Jessica Lourey … Minnesota authors that I admire greatly.  And in one article!

This was a death that was overshadowed by other celebrity news this week.  (And I admit … I’ve been reading the article about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.  I am a lot of things, impervious to celebrity gossip is not one of them …)  L.A. Confidential is one of my all-time favorite movies and Curtis Hanson was the driving force behind bringing James Ellroy’s vision to life.  He will be sorely missed.

Ina Garten has a new cookbook coming out in October!  (And yes, I have it on order.  Because … Ina!)  She also answered the Proust Questionnaire in Vanity Fair.

Chocolate. Bourbon. Spiked. Banana. Bread.  You’re welcome.


Listening to: Work’s been a little brutal these past few weeks.  I’ve vacillated from listening to Guns ‘N Roses (angst) and Simon & Garfunkel (in desperate need of an audio hug, apparently).

Reading:  Nothing, nada, zip.

Fiction Update: Last week, I shared my ridiculous ambitious goal to write 3,000 words a day to get a draft of Dragonfly done by October 1st.  *Crickets.* Weeeeelll … yeah.  I’m making progress, but not to the extent that I dreamed back at the end of August.  My rose-colored glasses obscured both family and work obligations.  HOWEVER … I’m really excited with the progress that I’m making.  (And I’m having random plot revelations in the Costco parking lot, the boys in the basement are doing their work even when I’m away from desk.)

I’m doing some travel this weekend (memorial service out of town / sans family), so I’m hoping that some hotel time will help me inch closer to a completed first draft.

Enjoy the weekend!

Editing, Process, Random, Uncategorized

Work In Process: Dragonfly


It’s Friday!  But where’s Friday Fare?  Well, I planned to publish this on Tuesday and then thought … oh I’ll do that on Wednesday.  Well, Wednesday came and went, so instead of Friday Fare, you get to hear about my latest madness.  xo!

Now that Afterlife (AL) is hanging out and getting itself ready for the next round of edits (October 1st, baby!), my attention is turning to another project that I’ve worked on intermittently over the past few years.  The working title on this one is Dragonfly and it’s a romantic suspense novel that’s set near a lake in Minnesota.  (Because, well, we have 10,000 of them … might as well set a story near one.)

At the beginning of this month, I envisioned a pretty ambitious goal.  The story already has about 53,000 words.  I took a few days at the beginning of the month to re-familiarize myself with these old friends and was pleased that my characters are at least upright and not totally inconsistent shells of fictional behavior.  I finished an outline for the story over Labor Day weekend and now I’m trying to make hay on my goal:  An additional 50K by October 1st.  Or basically, the creation of another SFD. 

Fifty thousand words over the course of a month roughly translates to about 1,600 words per day.  To make up for the week (or so) that I missed due to the holiday, I’m aiming for 3,000 words per day. (Cue maniacal laughter.)

Three thousand words is hard, but it’s doable.  And honestly – I’m not quite there yet.  I’ve been averaging 1,500 a day and got derailed over the weekend, but as I’m tweaking my process and scheduling longer afternoons / evenings where I can write, I think that 3,000 is in reach.

BUT … what I’ve struggled with is establishing a regular writing routine in my life.  (Hell, I’m still struggling.)  Getting into this habit and chasing daily word count goals has felt fabulous in terms of measuring concrete progress on my novel.  So, even if I’m only getting halfway to my goal – that’s still words on paper.  Those are still chapters that I can eventually edit.

Beyond writing this post for some accountability, I also have a weekly phone call with one of my fellow writer buddies on Fridays.  My friend Jeff is trying to get into a writing routine with his work-in-progress.  So we talk on Friday – we discuss what went well, what didn’t, and what we can do to change direction in the upcoming week and get closer to our individual goals.  It’s a little woo-woo, but it works.

I’m hopeful that the practice I establish for Dragonfly seeps over to my writing life in general – through the upcoming Afterlife edits and beyond.  I’ll keep my progress posted in upcoming Friday Fares!

P.S. – Since it’s not Friday without a little bit of rambling from me, please check out this YouTube concert from Sylvan Esso.  It’s the latest thing I’ve been listening to lately and although it’s totally out of my usual milieu, I. Love. It.

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random, Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 9/9/16

Friday 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.

Like so many of my fellow Minnesotans (and probably most Midwesterners, parental-types in general), I’ve been riveted by the news that after 27 years, Jacob Wetterling has been found.  To say my thoughts are with his family seems awfully twee, but they are.  This week has been an emotional one.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the loss of Anna Dewdney in the children’s book industry.  The “Llama Llama” books are in heavy rotation at bedtime and we’ve learned a lot from her work.

I read lighter things this week.  Was thrilled to see that Freddie Mercury was honored with an asteroid named after him.  And even after all these years, Chekov is still my favorite character from the original Star Trek shows.

I made these cookies.  Then I bagged them up and gave them away.  Because they were waaaaaay too good.

I’ve discovered GIFs and short videos on Instagram that shows people frosting cakes or making Thai ice cream rolls.  I’m telling you, there’s something oddly theraputic about it.  And perfect for my frazzled attention span.


Listening to: I’ve been working on my story “Dragonfly” lately, so I’ve been listening to the playlist that I built for that particular story.  I’ll build that up on Spotify so you all can take a listen, but in the meantime – this song is a key to a lot of the feeling that I have when I think about Dragonfly Lake.

Reading:  I’ve had a ridiculous amount of books pile up lately and I’m making a clean slate of my library books.  In the meantime, I’m awaiting the arrival of Jess Lourey’s new book “Salem’s Cipher.”

Fiction Update: I have some pretty ambitious plans for September – stay tuned and I’ll share next week! <— Yeah … I have a blog post drafted and I need to finish it.  But trust me … good things happening.

Enjoy the weekend!


Now available to own!

I’ve been teasing the hell out of this book on my blog lately, but Jerry Johnson’s latest book “Ivory and Gold” is now available to purchase on Amazon.  GO. BUY. IT.

In Mr. Johnson’s words: “An African adventure like no other. At the start of the 20th century the British East Africa Protectorate is a beautiful but savage country. A veneer of civilization overlays a prehistoric land where a man stays alive ‘by dint of his courage, daring, cunning, and ferocity,’ and can make a fortune smuggling ivory, gold and slaves from the jungles of the Congo to the black markets in Zanzibar.

Two American hunters, Kincaid and Gunner, are tossed back a hundred years in time and find themselves lost on East Africa’s Athi Plain where mischance – or great good fortune – makes them masters of a smugglers’ caravan on trek from the shores of Lake Victoria to the Uganda Railway at Nairobi, laden with £20,000 worth ($2.5 million) of illicit ivory, gold, and slaves.

To free the seventy natives held as slaves, they must survive assaults by askari military police, Arab slavers from Oman, Kavirondo tribal warriors, hired thugs in the streets of Mombasa, a lion’s mauling, and the mysterious wiles of a fierce and beautiful Baluba woman.”

There were a number of things that stood out for me when I originally read “Ivory and Gold.”  First were the rich characterizations of the story’s two main characters – Gunnar and Kincaid, the American hunters that are taken from the Sandhills in Nebraska and transported to the Athi Plain.  I always tell Jerry that I’m convinced he’s been hanging out with my uncles when I read his stories and essays – he convincingly taps into the idiosyncrasies of middle aged Midwestern men. The other thing that has stayed with me, way after the final midnight reading I had to finish the novel, are the lush scenes that Jerry paints. The adventure takes place in East Africa, a place of his childhood dreams, but his words make me crave a trip to the Sandhills as much as a safari adventure.

I think one of my emails to Jerry after reading “Ivory and Gold” said something like “where the hell did this COME from?” My curiosity was indulged in this blog post that Jerry wrote announcing the publication of his book and a narrative regarding the seeds from his childhood that had his fingers flying on the keyboard.

If you’re looking for an adventure story, this is one to buy.  It’s a beach book, it’s something to crack open on a blustery winter day – this is a story that my sons will read to their children in the future.

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random, Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 9/2/16

Friday 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’m wearing jeans as I write this update.  Which means that fall is in the AIR!  (Never mind that I’ll wear flip flops until the snow flies, but HOORAY FOR BEARABLE WEATHER.)  Here’s what’s good in the Interwebs this week:

Blame it on Rasputin, but here’s why every movie includes the disclaimer that the events that the film is based on are fictional.

I love tattoos, but I’m also a proud blood donor.  And my husband is not a fan of tattoos.  So – there’s a plethora of reasons why I won’t be inking my body again any time soon, but if I was and I was traveling to the Middle East, here’s the tattoo shop I’d visit.  How incredible is this history?

Spaghetti carbonara frittata.  You’re welcome.


Listening to: I listen to this concert a lot on YouTube.  I cannot get over how good Gillian Welch and David Rawlings are.

Reading:  I finished Sarah Fine’s “Fractured.”  (YA novel, second in a series, fabulous book and series.)  I have a couple interlibrary loan books that I need to catch up on that are craft-related.

Fiction Update: I have some pretty ambitious plans for September – stay tuned and I’ll share next week!

Enjoy the weekend!