Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 3/30/18

What is Friday Fare? As a recap, on Fridays I post link love to the various bits of arcane shiz I discover on the Interwebs.  I liken it to a glimpse into my mind, but without the 80s song lyrics or mental cobwebs.

I’ve been continually impressed by the activism of the upcoming generation.  (And am waiting for the day that Emma Gonzalez files for public office.)  Is it any surprise that folks are turning to the ubiquitous books from their childhood and referring to J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard and his seven-book arc as a rallying cry?

For what it’s worth, I think we’re hip deep in dark times. I strive to choose what is right, even when I want to choose what is easy.

The original 1980s iteration of “Roseanne” is one of the closest ways that I can point to my childhood and say “There.  That’s my life in a nutshell.”  Some of my friends may have wanted to be Kelly Taylor or Jessie Spano (OK – I wanted her hair.), I wanted to have the snark, the wit, the bro wardrobe, and the curls of Darlene Conner from “Roseanne.”  (And Sara Gilbert? Perfection.) I haven’t watched the reboot yet.  I’m not sure if I’m going to, but I have hopes that it represents the blue collar, middle class that’s never really represented on primetime television.

Michelle McNamara’s final book “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” is out, published posthumously.  I’ve been reading the tribute articles and will be reading McNamara’s book soon.


Listening: Work has been insane lately.  The mellow sounds of Gregory Alan Isakov are getting me through.  I also read this article about Annie Mack, a southeast Minnesota-based musician, with interest.  Going to have to check Ms. Mack out the next time she’s playing in my community.

Reading: Picked up Ariel Lawhon’s “I Was Anastasia” at the library this week.  I’m something of a Romanov nut, so this is up my nerdy little alley.

Also, while I was in Chicago, I finished Meg Hafdahl’s “Her Dark Inheritance.” Damn. Good.  Hard copy is out now too … click here to see my review on Goodreads.

Writing Life: Dragonfly, Dragonfly, Dragonfly, Dragonfly …

Have a good weekend, friends!


Friday Fare Recap: A Magical Mystery Weekend

Instead of the (un)usual amount of arcane knowledge that I distribute during my typical Friday Fare, I’m going to recap my “magical mystery weekend” in Chicago over St. Patrick’s Day weekend.  Oh yes, there was vomit, but luckily none of it was mine.

There are times in this writing life, that I mentally pinch myself to see if I’m sleeping or awake.

Jeffrey Deaver presenting “Writing Commercial Fiction” at MWA-U Chicago – Sunday, March 18, 2018.

Sitting less than five feet from Jeffrey Deaver and cracking lame jokes to him does that to a person.

Same with Gillian Flynn sans the lame jokes.  Because I was kind of dumbstruck when I met her.  But I was still within spitting distance of her.

Patricia Skalka, President of Sisters In Crime Chicagoland, interviews Gillian Flynn during Murder and Mayhem Chicago – Saturday, March 17, 2018.

My notes are fairly scattered, because – well … I write notes for me.  And well, if you can make sense out of my chicken scrawl, bless you!  But as brief explanation – Gillian Flynn and Jeffrey Deaver were the keynote guests at Murder and Mayhem Chicago, while Mr. Deaver taught a class on “Writing Commercial Fiction” for MWA-U, an event sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter.  (Mr. Deaver is currently the president of Mystery Writers of America.)

I sent the kiddos and the husband to his parents’ house and made it a weekend in Chicago.  I stayed at an adorable hotel in Oak Park (The Write Inn – a fabulous place, I will stay there again).  I got to ride the green line to downtown. I got incredibly lost trying to find the Murder and Mayhem conference (<– so not a surprise to anyone who knows me.)  But importantly, I got to spend some time with my novel-in-progress and I nurtured the connections I’ve made in my writing community, while meeting more new people.

I’m a sucker for food shots. Especially when the breakfast setup is so adorable (MINI JAMS!).

I’ve always said that my goal in attending conferences is making at least one new connection and cultivating two solid ideas that would improve my manuscript. I cultivated ideas galore during my trip.  I have all sorts of notes jotted down in my notebook – ideas that will strengthen my storyline.  The connections piece is a little less tangible than it’s been at past conferences.  However, a lot of my writing community is found online – people I’ve only friended on Facebook or through other social media outlets.  To get to meet people “IRL” is always fun.

For my fellow Midwesterners – I highly recommend both Murder & Mayhem and MWA-U. 2019’s conference will also be held over St. Patrick’s Day weekend and I think MWA Midwest will try to piggyback on the MMC event to host a master class on the Sunday after (details TBD!).  Murder & Mayhem is more of a “fan” conference, but again – if you’re a member of the mystery community, it’s a fabulous way to connect with your fellow writers and maybe even sit next to Sara Paretsky.

Writing is a solitary pursuit.  Even if you cultivate a tribe, even if you are a member of a writers group.  Weekends like these remind me of what my ultimate goal is in the publication world.  I want to be up on an MMC panel someday talking about my debut novel and “how it happened to me.”  Visualizing your goal helps to achieve it.

I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend.  I’ve heard that my corner of Minnesota is supposed to get blanketed in snow this weekend.  I call shenanigans on this, but hey – it’s March.  We’re not out of the woods yet for winter weather.



Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 3/16/18 (A magical mystery [conference] tour weekend!)

What is Friday Fare? As a recap, on Fridays I post link love to the various bits of arcane shiz I discover on the Interwebs.  I liken it to a glimpse into my mind, but without the 80s song lyrics or mental cobwebs.

My love for “Jane Eyre” is well documented.  Was happy to see this article from the New York Times about Charlotte Brontë.

Dana Chamblee Carpenter is the reason I knew about Killer Nashville and its Claymore Award.  (Her debut novel “Bohemian Gospel” won a few years back.)  I had the pleasure of meeting her last summer and she is kind to boot.  I liked this post of hers called “The Magic of Maybe.”

It. Is. Almost. TIME!  Meg Hafdahl‘s debut novel “Her Dark Inheritance” is out on Kindle on SATURDAY!  (Paperback is out later this month.)  Meg’s become a friend and she loves coffee about as much as I do, which makes her fairly awesome.  I am really excited to download my copy of Meg’s book.


Watched: My bestie Anne and I went to “Red Sparrow” last weekend.  And I basically told her that she’s in charge of picking movies from here on out.  (The last movie night we went to was “The Mountain Between Us” which was fine [hel-lo, Idris Elba!], but “Mountain” was more of a renter than a goer.)  I love Jennifer Lawrence.  Joel Edgerton is a hot Australian, but man … too much violence and nudity.  I’m not a prude, but when those elements are gratuitous it ruins what could be a great movie experience. 

Reading: Well, since the movie was a dud (and I’m still trying to figure out why Joel Edgerton’s character willingly slept with Jennifer Lawrence’s spy [trained to seduce and kill, y’all]), I went out and bought a copy of Jason Matthews’ “Red Sparrow.”  Because seriously …

Listening: Well, hey – I do have a “new to me” band to share this week.  Meet First Aid Kit, a folk duo of sisters from Sweden.  You’re welcome.

Writing Life: Oh, this is going to be a good weekend … I’m going to be in Chicago at a couple of mystery events! On Saturday, when the Chi-town Irish are turning the river green, I’ll be rubbing elbows with some of the Midwest’s finest mystery writers (and fans) at Murder and Mayhem in Chicago. Then on Sunday afternoon, I’m taking a class hosted by the Mystery Writers of America – Midwest Chapter.  Our teacher?  The masterful Jeffrey Deaver.  I. Can’t. Wait.  Plus – I’m going to be in a hotel room.  With my laptop.  Dare I say that some writing’s going to happen?  You betcha.

Have a great weekend, friends!  If you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, make good choices – avoid the green beer and make sure you have a sober driver!

Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 3/9/18

What is Friday Fare? As a recap, on Fridays I post link love to the various bits of arcane shiz I discover on the Interwebs.  I liken it to a glimpse into my mind, but without the 80s song lyrics or mental cobwebs.

I’m ridiculously proud of this man and cannot wait to get my hands on his latest book.  Congrats, Jerry!

Frances McDormand, my woman crush, earned her second Oscar earlier this week.  And according to The New Yorker, she made the Oscars weird again.  #squadgoals

I had the pleasure of meeting Max Allan Collins at Killer Nashville.  He’s been keeping Mickey Spillane’s work alive, even after the master’s death.  A neat piece from Wall Street Journal about two mystery legends.

Steel Magnolias makes me ugly cry; Garden & Gun did a neat piece looking at the phenomenon of the play turned movie, thirty years after its release.


Listening: I’m embarking on a road trip next weekend to a mystery-packed weekend in Chicago.  Leave me comments below if you have any suggested songs for my time on the interstate.

Reading: Still reading Cal Newport’s “Deep Work: Rules for Success in a Distracted World.”  It’s good, it’s now officially overdue at the library, but apparently I’m too distracted to plow through it.

Writing Life: I got through what felt like a major round of rewrites to Dragonfly, so now it’s time to double down and get through the rest of the draft.

Another part of my writing journey is making public appearances and one of my favorite things to do is moderating author panels.  On Tuesday, March 6th, I got to facilitate a panel celebrating the amateur sleuth with Sherry Roberts, Barbara Deese, and Carl Brookins.  I adore these writers – from a craft perspective and from the standpoint that they make my job as a moderator super simple.  My friend Jessica Ellis Laine took this picture from Tuesday’s event.  (PS – I gesture.  A lot.)

Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 3/2/18

What is Friday Fare? As a recap, on Fridays I post link love to the various bits of arcane shiz I discover on the Interwebs.  I liken it to a glimpse into my mind, but without the 80s song lyrics or mental cobwebs.


Book me a ticket to Ankara to see this most amazing library.

I’ve talked about the Salt Bae before.  Here’s how he spends his Sundays.

Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers?  I can be sold on that casting.

February was “Women In Horror” month and I’m proud to have a friend who writes in that genre.  Meg Hafdahl is releasing her debut novel in March and is garnering a nice amount of press coverage for her upcoming book.  This piece from was a nice interview that traces Ms. Hafdahl’s roots as a horror writer.

So, I keep going on and on about my love for Frances McDormand.  And while that love is true, I revel in the fact that Laurie Metcalf is getting a huge amount of press for her turn in Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird.”  The New York Times Magazine did a nice profile on Ms. Metcalf.  I love these strong, unconventional leading ladies.


Listening: Eh … I got nothing. I have been streaming the “Riverdale” soundtrack off of Amazon which simultaneously makes me feel cool (I’m streaming!  I’m listening to stuff that I haven’t listened to before!) and old.  At the same time.  (Old:  I remember the original rendition of the single “Kids in America.”  And I remember how cool I thought that song was in the 1980s as I grooved to it in my jelly sandals that gave me the WORST blisters.)

Reading: Preston and Child’s latest Pendergast was marvelous, as expected, and was snarfed down by my brain like a sugar addicted kid eating marshmallows.  I also finished John Gaspard’s “The Ambitious Card.”  That was a great read and I highly recommend it.  Now I’m reading Cal Newport’s “Deep Work: Rules for Success in a Distracted World.”  I’m only through the introduction and already liking what I’m reading.  Hopefully I can glean some tips that help me maximize my (increasingly limited) time and work output.

Writing Life: Last week’s sniffles for my family was replaced this week by vomiting.  Between that and some other outside distractions, I’ve been doing more reading than writing / editing.  But I’m reading more books versus articles / blog post on my phone, so we’re going to chalk that up as a quasi-win.

Spring is in the air, friends!  Beware the ides of March and that sort of thing.