Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 6/4/21

First and foremost … last. day. of. SCHOOL!!!! I don’t know who’s more excited, my kids or my husband and I.  (Spoiler: It’s us … totally us.)

The interwebs were full of article goodness this week. In no particular order:

  • Willie Nelson is a national treasure. International treasure. My BFF Anne and I have seen him twice in concert and we vow to go again whenever he comes back to the Midwest.
  • Oh, Kate Winslet … ever since she started working, she’s been one of my favorite actresses.

***

Random: There is a fantastic meme out there that talks about loving your body … this is the body that helped flatten the curve during the pandemic, it’s the one that kept you and your family safe, etc. It is in response to the other prevalent messaging out there about “hot girl summer” and trying to trim down those pounds that some of us (ahem, me) gained during the pandemic.

Along with my newfound bike riding hobby, I’ve returned to the gym after a year hiatus. Going to the gym inspires me to eat better (although I totally snarfed a donut yesterday and it was delicious.) I don’t know that I’m going to lose my “Covid 19,” but I feel stronger and it’s huge for my mental health.

(PS – if I celebrate “hot girl summer,” it will be because I am outside in 80 degree weather and sweating like hell. Because that’s what I do. Fall is my season, seriously.)

Reading: I have too many books that I’m working through right now. I’m reading a couple by Tim Ferriss – this scratches my “reading about productivity” itch. I need to continue reading the “Legends of the Fall” novellas by Jim Harrison. My TBR list is lush and a little overgrown.

Writing: Some days, I don’t think I get anything done, but this past weekend, I hit the majority of my goals. The main one was to finish a draft of a short story that’s been lurking around my mind for the past couple of years. It still needs work, a lot of it, but it was something I wanted to write before I started my next novel.

Querying | A dear friend of mine suggested buying a subscription to Query Tracker prior to my querying adventure. I kind of scoffed, because as much as I tell everyone I’m fairly disorganized – actually, I am not. I love a good spreadsheet and I had my target list built in Google Docs and figured I’d track my submissions that way. Hoooo boy … I love Query Tracker. I’ve queried multiple people named Sharon or Katie or some variation of Jessica/Judy/etc., and QT has helped keep my agents and queries straight. I think there’s a free version, but I shelled out the $25 for the professional version and it’s fantastic.

Next Book | I’m grateful for my friend Julie for recommending Jami Attenberg’s #1000wordsofsummer. I still think that I’ve forgotten how to write new content, but this has been a good kick in the pants to start working on my new book. (I’m also grateful for my friend Jerry for the continued support and email check-ins to make sure I’m not procrastinating the start of this book. He knows me way too well. 🙂 )

Get outside, get vaxxed, wear a mask. Stay safe and well, friends!

– Shelley

***

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.

Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 5/28/21

Jami Attenberg’s #1000wordsofsummer kicks off on Monday, May 31st. Fourteen days of writing 1,000 words per day. Considering that my writing practice is a bit rusty (thanks quarantine!), I’m going to use this as a launching point for my next book. 14,000 words is only a fraction of the 90K I’ll need to write, but … it’s a start.

My kids’ summer vacation is looming and although they’ll still be home and we’re all still together, my husband and I get to hang up our teaching hats. We are fortunate that we have jobs that afforded us the time and opportunity to keep them home, but damn … it has not been easy.

Gratitude list:

  • I bought a bike in the early 00s that has moved with me six times. And although I have barely biked in the 20+ years it’s been in my possession (um, twice …), I kept moving the damn thing. And now I’m biking. Slowly. Painfully. Terribly. But I’m biking.
  • Good friends and beer dates.
  • This dish from Lidey Likes (I subbed the hell out of everything, but the original recipe made for good inspiration).

I like Cal Newport’s productivity books (because I have this weird thing about loving and reading productivity, a paradox since I’m a fairly disorganized person). This was an interesting article … why does remote work need to happen from home? With this new influx of people working from home thanks to the pandemic, do we need to separate where a person lives from where they work?

My two cents … I don’t think you do. BP (Before Pandemic), I spent nearly a decade working from home. And it is to the point where I cannot see myself returning to a standard office environment. HOWEVER, having my entire family home for the past year with limited ways to get quiet and alone time? That’s been challenging and has prompted more than one Internet search for co-working spaces, inexpensive office rentals, and wondering if I could build myself a damn she-shed.

However, summer has returned to the Midwest. Patios work wonders for my productivity, so I’m hoping that since I’m fully vaccinated, I will be able to carve out some time away from the house so I can get some words in this season.

I leave you with this thought … the quote comes from C.S. Lewis and it came to my attention via my pal Cal.

favorable conditions never come.

I think the universe is telling me to stop whining and just write, dammit.

***

Watching: I’ve made it through four seasons of Elementary and have decided that Joan, Sherlock and I need a little break. So I’ve decided to start watching the new season/new show of Law & Order: Organized Crime. (Dah-dum!)

giphy-1

Yeah, I’m a sucker for Elliot Stabler.

Reading: My favorite barista Allison recommended “The Liar’s Girl” by Catherine Ryan Howard. And damn … not only is Allison gifted at making Americanos and being an all-around fantastic human being, she makes good book recommendations.

I’m also making my way through the “Legends of the Fall” novellas by Jim Harrison.

Writing: Querying, querying, querying. Finishing a draft of a short story. Taking some alone time this weekend to start writing the next book.

giphy-2

Get vaxxed, wear a mask. Stay safe and well, friends!

– Shelley

***

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.

Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 5/14/21

Everything is coming up rhubarb in my life. My mom stopped by on Tuesday bearing three rhubarb plants for my garden, with a huge bag of rhubarb from her own garden, and 11 rhubarb muffins.  (My dad helped himself to one before she came to visit …) Since I still have rhubarb in my freezer from last year (and a batch of my favorite rhubarb cherry freezer jam), I feel a baking binge coming on.

Another thing? I am the only person in my family who likes rhubarb. Thank god for friends …

Other articles of note from this week:

  • An op-ed from Carmen Maria Machado on the futility of banning books.
  • I talk about Douglas Preston below in my “Reading” list, he recently published an article in The New Yorker about an old Soviet mystery that seems to be solved.

***

Listening: Neil Young’s “Harvest” is probably one of my favorite albums. One of my childhood friends was raised by a mom who had the most EXCELLENT taste in music, Neil Young was one of the musicians I got to discover through this friendship. I loved reading this article about the “genius” of Young’s album and its creation.

Reading: I read The Scorpion’s Tail by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. They are the fathers of one of my favorite fictional detectives, A.X.L. Pendergast, and this novel is the latest in a spinoff series from a couple characters in the Pendergast universe.

Writing: I’m still knee deep in the querying trenches for Dragonfly (which I’ve trendily titled “Irreversible”). But since a watched email does not generate replies, I am dreaming up my next novel. I had a meeting up in the Twin Cities over the past weekend and I opted to book a hotel room versus driving back late on Saturday. A) There’s something about a crisp white duvet cover that screams “productivity” to me and B) is there anything better than staying up until 1 AM watching a movie that you’ve seen a million times and quote by heart?

giphy

Late night shenanigans aside, I used my alone time to try and sketch out my thoughts, figure out these characters that are shouting at me.

Hiking: Mother’s Day found me at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Bloomington. It was a short jaunt, but a beautiful one.

20210509_093404

Get vaxxed, wear a mask. Stay safe and well, friends!

– Shelley

***

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.

Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 5/7/21

I made a huge scientific discovery earlier this week: Cookies taste better when you make them with bourbon. That’s huge, folks …

***

Listening: It’s been a bit since I’ve shared what I’ve been listening to. (Mostly because I’ve been listening to a lot of the same live Gordon Lightfoot and John Prine. Over and over again.) BUT!  BUT! I was working this past weekend and saw an interesting looking Tiny Desk (Home) Concert from NPR. Since NPR is always a good thing, I gave it a listen. It was immediately followed by another winner.

Reading: Why yes, I am still reading Story Genius by Lisa Cron. I might abandon it because it’s good, but it’s not helping me as I ramp up work on my next book.

I finished The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien and was kinda wrecked a bit afterwards. I also read, and immensely enjoyed, All is Not Lost by Shannon Kenny Carbonell. It’s an autobiography and it’s an interesting read about the intersection of motherhood and creativity. It was a bit of a balm considering what this past year has been like with the pandemic/constant togetherness.

Get vaxxed, wear a mask. Stay safe and well, friends!

– Shelley

***

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.

Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 4/30/21

May is almost HERE! And that means one more month of distance learning for my kids and then SUMMER VACATION. It will not look very different from last summer (or really, the school year), but my husband and I are looking forward to retiring our “educator” hats.

The Oscars were Sunday and other than adoring Emerald Fennell and Frances McDormand, I did not pay that much attention to the shindig. I did, however, adore People magazine’s recap of the Oscar ceremonies from 1991 and 2001.

I know I’ve talked about how ridiculously talented my friends are. Beyond friends who are writers, I am lucky to know artists and musicians. But there’s a special place reserved for those friends who bake … and my friend, author K. Bird Lincoln, hosted a “craft” morning the other day. I don’t craft, but I eat cake, and she’s been making this Orange Cardamom Cake with Almonds and Gran Marnier.  And it’s delicious.

***

Reading: Why yes, I am still reading Story Genius by Lisa Cron. I finished How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish, My eldest is an excellent reader, so he got a kick out of my reading material. (“Are you LISTENING, moooom!?”) I may be a writer, but to two people, I am mom. 🙂

Writing: It was a bit of a week with work, so writing got put on the back burner.  But I did finish the third class (of three) from a Jane Friedman advanced editing class.

Hiking: Bluebells at Carley State Park.

Stay safe and well, friends!

– Shelley

***

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.

Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 4/23/21

I live in Minnesota and I’m grateful for the bravery of Darnella Frazier, the young woman who filmed George Floyd’s murder. We still have a lot of work to do, but Derek Chauvin’s conviction is a step in the right direction.

Gillian Welch is one of my favorite musicians. This article ends with a beautiful anecdote on how John Steinbeck’s son sent her a collection of Steinbeck’s books, because her records felt like something Steinbeck would have written. What an incredible compliment to her artistry.

I finished reading Cal Newport’s book A World Without Email and he cited an essay by my beloved Anne Lamott about how to make time for writing. As someone who’s largely been off of Facebook since Halloween and still struggles with the allure of Twitter and Instagram, I gotta say … Lamott’s got a point. (And I’ve never had a problem ignoring housework. Just ask my parents or my husband.)

***

Reading: Story Genius by Lisa Cron (still) and Era of Ignition by Amber Tamblyn. I’m enjoying Tamblyn’s book/memoir and it’s interesting … I think many of my contemporaries (and people younger than I am) associate Tamblyn for her roles in the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and “Joan of Arcadia”. Being the eccentric that I am, I associate her as Russ Tamblyn’s daughter. And I love Russ Tamblyn:

IYKYK … or … here’s an image from Giphy of Russ Tamblyn playing Dr. Jacobi in “Twin Peaks”. (And if you want to go back even further, he played Riff in “West Side Story.”)

Finished: I Have Something to Tell You by Chasten Buttigieg; A World Without Email by Cal Newport; and Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L. Trump.

Writing: I don’t talk a lot about my writing process, because I don’t know that I really have one. Am I a plotter or a pantser? Do I light candles and need to write in absolute silence. (BTW – there’s no such thing as absolute silence in my house right now and when there is, it’s absolutely weird.) The way that story works in my mind is a matter of “what if?” and then my squirrel brain goes from there. I tell myself stories when I should probably be doing productive things and eventually, those little vignettes start to hang together and I start seeing the characters in my mind and drawing the arrows, fleshing out their backstories, etc.  I’ve been carrying a notebook around lately and sketching little ideas in the pages. And now here’s the scary part … I know how the story starts and how it ends. I probably have enough in between to start writing, but … but … but …

This is the scary “jumping off the cliff” part of writing. Let’s hope that I fly and not:

Hiking: Friends persuaded me to go on a five-mile hike. It was glorious AND painful.

Stay safe and well, friends!

– Shelley

***

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.

Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 4/16/21

I *meant* to blog last week, but my Wednesday Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine had me like this on Thursday:

giphy

Considering I’m going to have my hair professionally cut for the first time since 2019 at the end of this month … worth. it.

Here’s some link love:

How did TV’s Frasier really afford his apartment? (Frasier wasn’t a must-watch in my family, but I have a huge soft spot in my heart for John Mahoney.)

My family eats a lot of macaroni and cheese and while I have the ability to make a mean homemade mac and cheese, my kids are Kraft people. (Weirdos.) I like the white cheddar mac from Annie’s Organic, so of course I had to read this article that talks about the Annie formerly behind this organic behemoth.

My college advisor died on April Fools Day. Since she wasn’t known for her sense of humor (the urban legend about her was that she did the Sunday NY Times crossword in pen), I don’t think that it was comedic timing on her part. While I can’t credit Mary Hull Mohr for my writing career, I can credit her for being a gentle force in making sure I graduated from college. I am also exceedingly proud to have known her and to be able to say that she was my academic advisor. (Trust me, I was a TERRIBLE advisee.) Mary Lou and her husband Martin loom large in the memories that my husband and I share from our time at Luther College. We adored both of them and hold their memories as a blessing.

***

Reading:

Finished: Her Final Words by Brianna Labuskes and Pursuit of the Truth by K.D. Richards. Both were fun and good reads.

Currently: (And yes, this list is as random as I am …) I Have Something to Tell You by Chasten Buttigieg (loving it); A World Without Email by Cal Newport (I have a thing for productivity books); Story Genius by Lisa Cron (obvs); and Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L. Trump.

Writing: Good things are happening on the querying front. Some of the books I’m reading pertain to the next book that I’m percolating in my head.

Otherwise, this was a week to fill my tank … my husband and I got to have lunch with our college mentors and I got to spend some time talking to my parents (it was the first time my husband saw my folks in person for about a year). Some friends and I are going to conquer another trail this weekend and warmer weather is supposed to finally arrive here in the Midwest! (It will be in the 50s this weekend … woo!)

– Shelley

***

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.

Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 4/2/21

My long weekend sans family was NOT a bust, although I did not do anything remotely creative. I did a mountain of laundry (including bedding for all of my stinky boys. Phew!). I did make it to Costco and I basically ate a lot of takeout, drank beer, and made up for all of my interesting choices by going on an EPIC hike with some of my dear girlfriends.

That Dakota Trail wasn’t messing around and man, I was grateful that the majority of the mud we slogged through was frozen.  Ooooof! Lots of Gandalf jokes were made, we decided as a collective that we weren’t going to hike Everest … ever, and I grateful for good friends, post-hike coffee accompanied by Ina’s blueberry bran muffins, and the morning migas from Taco Jed’s here in my town. Delicious.

AND THEN!!!! If the fact that I had three days and two nights sans family wasn’t enough, my parents asked if they could watch our children for a couple of days. Given the amount of screen time my kids have been consuming lately, given that my folks have acres for my kids to expend energy on, and the fact that my kiddos have missed out on a year of grandparent-ly shenanigans from both side of the family, we said “hell yes,” reminded my oldest to not play with axes (long story, but no injuries, thank the goddess) and they spent two nights with my folks and whew … between visits with both sets of grandparents, I think my kids had a fantastic spring break. And I have a grateful heart.

You’d think that with so much time to myself, I’d be outlining my next novel, working on the synopsis for Dragonfly that’s eluded me, etc.  But on Sunday I confessed to my girlfriends that I hadn’t been near my computer since Thursday evening. And honestly … I think I needed a break from computer screens as badly as my kids did.

***

Watching: While my family was gone, I rented a terrible, TERRIBLE 90s “thriller” that I adored when I was younger. I still adore it, it’s still terrible (saxophone at crucial scenes whether romantic thriller or “hey! that dude has a knife” thrilling moments), but it was Friday night and I was eating pad Thai … so life was good and I wasn’t questioning my taste.

My children were born in 2012 and 2013, so it is no great mystery that I missed out on a couple crucial moments of pop culture history … namely most of the Marvel movies. While our kids were gone, my husband and I caught up on “The Avengers” and one of the “Thor” movies while drinking beer and eating snacks for dinner that we’d never let our kids get away with.

Reading: Her Final Words by Brianna Labuskes. (And it’s gooooood.)

Writing: The next adventure is still percolating …

Wear your mask! Be good to people you meet. Get outside if the weather is fine where you are.

– Shelley

***

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.

Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 3/26/21

Friends! It is Friday!  And although Covid is still at-large, I am still kinda brain dead from life, etc.: MY BOYS (ALL THREE OF THEM) ARE HEADING TO MY IN-LAWS FOR THE WEEKEND. (PS – My mother-in-law reads this blog, so G … I love you, I thank you, and I bless you. Amen.)

I’ve been planning my takeout adventures for the past week and it is EPIC, my friends. Fried fish for Friday night, migas from one of my favorite restaurants at some point, and who knows what else. Sushi?  Maybe? The sky is the LIMIT!  The last time I was alone in my house (August, not that I’m counting …), I had takeout from the local Greek festival and lived on Indian leftovers for a weekend. And I drank Mich Golden Light with olives. I still dream of that weekend in Technicolor.

This afternoon though, I am having lunch with my vaccinated parents and I’m dispatching the loaves of lemon danish bread that I’ve made to my lemon-loving relatives.

For the rest of the weekend, Lord knows I have creative worlds I need to conquer. I need to get some new shoes. I’ve been avoiding Costco for reasons not entirely known to me. I think I’ll be watching a lot of Elementary and just … breathing.

So … onward to the links!

***

Listening: I’ve been listening to *a lot* of John Prine and Gordon Lightfoot lately. So much, that I accidentally left a Prine CD in my husband’s car. “What the hell is this ‘Sam Stone,’ sh*t?” (OK, so maybe he didn’t say *that,* but he didn’t quite know what to do about a song with the subject matter of a veteran OD-ing on heroin when he was making an innocent drive to fill his gas tank. Sorry, hon.) So, I wasn’t sad when my latest itch to scratch was listening to Sonny and Cher’s “Please Don’t Go” and YouTube followed that with a Patsy Cline “best of” compilation.

I’ve mentioned that I think I was born in the wrong generation, right?  Right?

Reading: I currently have the attention span of a gnat. So this book from K.D. Richards (Pursuit of the Truth from Harlequin Intrigue) is an #ownvoices comfort food read. Perfect for the quarantine state-of-mind that I am in!

Writing: Querying. Thinking of the next adventure.

As usual … stay healthy, get active, get your vaccination if you’re eligible, wash your hands, and mask up!

– Shelley

***

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.

Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 3/19/21

There’s a meme that circulates every year that talks about the various stages of how winter transitions to spring in the Midwest. There’s the “faux spring” followed by the second winter. Last weekend, I got lost* in the woods during a beautiful “faux spring” day:

*Thoughts on the word “lost.”  Technically I was on a trail and I thought I was following what was called the “Maple Trail” which was supposed to be a leisurely 1.5 km loop. Somehow, I wandered off of the Maple Trail and made it to the 2.5 km Zumbro Trail. Anyone who knows me is not surprised that I have no real sense of direction.

On Monday, we got ~6 inches of snow that’s still on the ground. Temps are in the 40s and 50s and next week will feature rain, ergo we’ll transition to the final phase of spring … mud. I want to go forest bathing again, but I think I’ll be heading to my local park that has paved trails.

Otherwise, it’s been a bit of a week. Thursday marked what I consider the year anniversary of being home because of coronavirus. (It’s an easy date to remember because it’s also my dad’s birthday.) Daylight Savings Time has totally KICKED my arse, and I have more projects – personal and professional – than time.

But hey … there’s still cookies to be baked. Every day brings news to me of loved ones who are getting their vaccination against Covid and that fills me with a lot of hope.

***

Watching: I’m still watching CBS’s “Elementary.” And oh … I love it.

Reading: I’ve been generating a list of “comps” that I need to read that are similar to my novel. (Query letters usually have comparative novels that help a potential agent see what niche your book will fall in.) I’ve always considered myself well-read, but the vampire novels that I consumed over my year of quarantine aren’t really the genre I’m trying to publish in. 🙂

Writing: I am officially querying agents. And I’m starting to dream up the next project. That’s been a lot of fun.

As usual … stay healthy, get active, wash your hands, and mask up!

– Shelley

***

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.