Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 2/21/20

I’m hoping that this Friday finds you well!  I’m taking a bit of a mom vacation overnight.  Up to a 1990s dance party with my BFF from high school (she’s already assured me that her other mom friends are going to adore me) and then coffee with a fellow writer on Saturday.

I got to have a fun adventure earlier this week … some writer friends and I went to our local “micro-cinema” and watched a vintage Mary Pickford silent film.  This was my first time watching a silent film and I sincerely hope it isn’t my last.  It takes a different level of concentration to read the body language as the actors tell a story … it was so fun. And PS – Happy book birthday to Meg Hafdahl (center in picture below) and Kelly Florence for The Science of Women in Horror!

So proud to see my friend Jessica Laine featured in Bolo Books!

I finally found a cornbread recipe that’s a “go-to.” Here’s another recipe that I’ve made a few times in the past that’s also a good “reminiscent of spring” recipe.

***

Listening: I had lunch with a dear friend the other day and happened to cruise past a country music station that was playing “the classics.”  Usually when you say “classic”, my mind goes to the holy trinity known as Waylon, Willie, and Johnny, but they were playing 1990s country music which is its own sweet vintage.  I wasn’t sad to rediscover this wonderful voice:

Reading: I am still going strong with Chloe Neill and her Chicagoland Vampires. So good.

Writing Life: I’ve used this GIF before, but it’s still accurate:

***

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: 2/14/20

I’m just ducking in here to wish folks a Happy Valentine’s Day!  I’m something of a romantic – I adore chocolate and flowers, but considering that my husband and I are in the thick of parenting small kiddos, I’m content and geekily excited about the heart-shaped cake pan I recently bought and that we’ll be eating heart-shaped pizza tonight for our dinner. (And I would like some praise for actually having my kids’ class Valentines done WELL in advance of the due date, versus my usual night-before rush.) Here’s the cake that I may be making.  And here are the cookies that I wanted to make, but am holding off on until I know that I’m going to see friends.  I may have done a great job of getting my kids’ Valentines squared away in record time, but I have almost zero self-control when it comes to cookies in my household.

***

Reading: I recently discovered Chloe Neill and her Vampires of Chicagoland series.  Oooof.  I don’t know why I love vampires as much as I do, but man these books are devour-able and binge worthy.

Writing Life: Slow but steady …

***

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: 2/7/20

Well, February seems like as good of a time as any to start writing Friday Fare. 🙂 I still have an “Annual Review” sketched out that takes a look at the good, the bad, and fugly of 2019, but in the meantime – the mental break I took from blogging last month was a good one.  So without further ado, here’s what’s been going on in the weird and random:

I think my love for libraries is pretty well known.  There’s the fact that there are THOUSANDS of books on shelves (and now in eBook form) that are free for people to borrow.  And then there are librarians – the keepers of information (and often the wonderful people who are making sure that my hellions aren’t totally destroying the children’s section of the library). So when my friend Brenda asked if I’d volunteer at the Rochester Public Library Foundation’s Wit, Wisdom & Wine, my answer was a swift “hell yes.”

I was honored to introduce Shari Mukherjee. Mukherjee is a local Rochester-ite who made it to the Top 5 contestants of MasterChef (Season 10).  As a mom, as a cook, and as a Gordon Ramsay fan – you can imagine how exciting it was to meet her.

I also got to introduce former Congressman Tim Penny.  Penny and Mukherjee were two of several interesting guests that the library foundation had speak at this annual fundraiser.  It was just a sincere honor to attend and thrill to be asked to help.

I’m a little obsessed with Tieghan Gerard’s blog Half-Baked Harvest (and own the first of her two cookbooks). It certainly doesn’t hurt that she lives in the mountains of Colorado and that she loves soup and cookies about as much as I do.  We had a dear friend over for dinner a couple of weeks ago and I made this Creamy Wild Rice Chicken Soup with Roasted Mushrooms. And man … I was sad when that soup was gone and not ashamed that I ate the majority of its leftovers.  It’s a very simple soup that’s made in a crockpot (crockpot = an immediate win for me.) But it’s the roasted mushrooms that boot this into another dimension.  (Two pounds of mixed mushrooms roasted in an oven with garlic.  In a stick of butter.)  In fact, I actually used the roasted mushroom trick on a different soup (beef with barley) and I think I basically just want to eat butter-roasted mushrooms for the rest of my existence.

I’ve always been a fan, but here’s how Mary Engelbreit burrowed a large(r) spot in my heart.

I’m not sure what it is with the recent proliferation of articles about GenX’ers, but here’s one that gave me a chuckle.

***

Reading: While I still have the Instagram app on my smartphone, I took the Facebook and Twitter apps off.  A couple of reasons … first is the amount of time that I would spend mindlessly scrolling through feeds of comments, memes, political arguments, etc.  I never bothered to calculate how much time I spent on the socials, but I’m sure that it was ridiculous.  Second – I think it’s better overall for my emotional health.  For just lots of reasons.  And while I still get pulled into wormholes of reading through news articles and Wikipedia pages regarding the Royal Family, I’ve been trying to read more books.  And I’ve already read seven books this year.  Three this past week. (There may be a reason that my eyes are kind of tired.)

Here’s the one that I’m most excited about:

There are a million reasons that I adore Tracy Clark.  I used to serve on the MWA-Midwest board with her and I can attest that she is a walking master class in critiquing.  And if we would have gone to high school together, I’d want to sit at her cool kids table.  She’s just sincerely a wonderful person.  And she’s one HELL of a writer.  And I totally bargained a batch of homemade cookies to get my hands on an Advanced Readers Copy (ARC) of What You Don’t See (coming out on May 26, 2020). This is the third book in a series and her PI is a finely drawn character.  You can find my review here on Goodreads.

Writing Life: I am polishing Dragonfly for submission to this contest. Due April 1st and making good progress towards that goal.

***

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

2019 | Don’t let the door hit ya …

… where the good lord split ya.

Oooooh 2020, so glad that you’ve made your way into my life.

I am one of those (annoyingly) glass is half full type people. (Or in my case, the coffee cup is perpetually 3/4 of the way full and edging on cold, but it’s still coffee.  Yay!  Coffee.)  But 2019 challenged me.  It challenged me personally with the loss of my beloved cat and my grandma.  It challenged me professionally with some work shenanigans.  It challenged me creatively with more commitments than I had time for.

Despite the challenges, I am still writing. I am the mother of two adorable and creative kidlets (also affectionately known as my hellions.)  Our family grew by eight paws this fall when we adopted two kittens (although I still miss my curmudgeonly old man.)  My husband is still great and devastatingly handsome (and supportive <– probably the most important part.)  Even at its most challenging, my life is really damn good.

I am currently working on an “annual review” article that’s inspired by one of my favorite authors, J.T. Ellison. And despite the fact that I’ve been on vacation for the past week, I literally just started thinking about putting that together and goal setting for the new year.  2020 may be a new year and a new decade, but I’m still a little bit behind the organizational eight-ball.

My blessings to you all for a good year!

– Shelley

Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 11/15/19

We had a big change this week in my family.  Meet Scruff and Poots:

So, Scruff (short for Scruffy) is the little love on the left.  Poots (which is short for Pootsen) is on the right.  Poots’ name got shortened because my youngest child kept leaving the “s” off the cat’s name and it sounded like we had named the cat after a certain Russian despot. As I mentioned in my Instagram post, I really miss Digger, my beloved cat of 18 years.  But it’s fun to have kittens again.

Another week, another piece about Carrie Fisher.

Taffy Brodesser-Akner is one of my favorite longform journalists.  Her article about Tom Hanks was no exception to the awesomeness I’ve come to expect from her.

I’m also a big fan of Michael Chabon and this essay The Final Frontier was beautiful.

***

Listening: I’ve documented my love for Gregory Alan Isakov pretty well in the pages of this blog.  I was happy to see this from APM’s “Live From Here”:

Reading:  I’m reading Priscilla Paton‘s “Where Privacy Dies.”  And I’m loving it.  Priscilla’s a friend, but I’m loving her voice. (And I’m also loving the fact that she’s asked me to beta read the sequel to her debut novel!)

Writing Life: My alarm on my cell phone is currently set for 5 AM every morning.  And on Monday … I heeded its call.  The rest of the week?  Not so much.  I have a lot of things that I need to accomplish, so I need to turn the tide on this, but at the same time I am fairly tired most of the time and … yeah.  I need to think about how I can do all of the things.

***

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: 11/8/19

Well, I’m back from Bouchercon and back in time for the first snow in my town and fighting off the last vestiges of what I thought was a sinus infection, but seems to be a garden variety, phlegm-producing cold.  I’ve been pissed off at myself that I’ve been ignoring the chunks of time that I’ve put in my calendar to go to the gym, but then I realize … I really can’t breathe properly right now and I’m hacking up lung cookies.  Maybe they don’t want me at the gym? Probably not.  I’ll work off the Halloween candy that I’ve been stealing from my kids next week.

I have so much to process from Bouchercon and a list of “to-dos” (that I originally said I’d have done by Wednesday … ha!).  Look for more posts in the coming weeks – people I met, books that are now on my list (or in my 20 lb. box), etc.

I’m an unabashed Carrie Fisher / Princess Leia fan.  I loved Carrie Fisher for her blunt honesty about depression and addiction.  I remember reading “Postcards from the Edge” when I was way too young to realize / understand its contents, but even then my brain grasped her brilliant talent and biting wit.  (And now I realize, I really should read Postcards again.)  It turns out that Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd is just as talented as a writer.  Time Magazine featured an essay by Lourd that memorializes her daughter and her journey in becoming Princess Leia’s keeper. The last line made me cry.

This piece features favorite songs reimagined as book covers. It’s awesome.

***

Watching: I got to watch Olivia Wilde’s “Booksmart” on my flight from ORD to DFW.  It’s a coming-of-age story about two best friends and their last night before high school graduation.  The dialogue is whip-smart and whereas I am now old enough to be the mom in these “coming of age” stories, I couldn’t help but remember my high school friends and I.  How lucky I was (and am) to have them. It’s a great movie.

Reading:  First and foremost – a disclosure.  I shipped 20 pounds worth of books back to Minnesota from Bouchercon.  I haven’t even opened the box yet, because I don’t want to see the expression on my husband’s face when he sees my haul.  But beyond the AMAZING amount of books netted, I had a really weird moment of symmetry / destiny on my recent Bouchercon trip.  I was at Content Bookstore in Northfield recently and bought a used copy of Karen Dionne’s The Marsh King’s Daughter.  This was an “it” book from a few years back and it wasn’t long into my trip and in the book itself that I realized why everyone raved about it.  It’s an intense read from beginning to its conclusion.  And … Karen Dionne was at Bouchercon.  I had no clue that she was going to be in attendance and I was thrilled to talk to her and get her to sign my copy.  I finished the book from DFW to ORD and wow … I can’t recommend the book enough.

Writing Life: What is the line from the song … I’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there?  <– That’s pretty much my writing life right now.  Which is a blessing, but a big challenge too.  But … one that I’m up for. Attending Bouchercon was a huge inspiration and it’s time to leverage that to get my work done.

 

***

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

Bouchercon 2019: Back home with a full heart and head

I’ll write more after my mind has a chance to recuperate from five days of conference learning, but wanted to share a quick picture from my Bouchercon* 2019 experience.

I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to do proper justice to my first Bouchercon, but it was a wonderful week of seeing old friends, making new ones, and making some valuable contacts in the mystery world.

Happy Monday!

– Shelley

 

*Bouchercon is a mystery convention that is named in honor of Anthony Boucher.

Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 10/25/19

What’s the best productivity hack out there?  This article reminds me of something I’ve said to my writing friends – BICFOK (Butt In Chair, Fingers On Keyboard).

Jessica Lange is a gift.  I can’t wait to see her book of photography.

Minnesota schools and students celebrated MEA Break on Oct. 17-18.  The Minnesota Educator Academy (MEA) conference is held on the third Thursday of October each year, so school kids are left to their own devices.  I had a couple friends go to Florida, some acquaintances head to places like Hawaii, Iceland, and London.  I took my kids to Iowa. It may not be the most exotic location, but it’s where my family lives and my boys got to spend some extended time with my parents. (Mostly my dad, which – I think I’m going to owe him a large bottle of something at the holidays.)  On Friday, we went to Effigy Mounds National Monument near Marquette, Iowa.  Funny fact and a fun bit of symmetry for my dad and I – neither of us had been to Effigy Mounds since we were kids.  So, some 25+ years for me; some 45+ years for my old man.  And yes, I think Dad and I had more fun than the hellions we had in tow:

***

Watching: My husband and I had a rare child-free night recently.  (Thank you to my parents for wrangling my hellions!)  We thought about watching a Marvel movie, then I was making my play to have us start the Indiana Jones trilogy (and it IS a trilogy, this movie doesn’t exist).  But then we saw that Jim Henson’s classic “The Dark Crystal” was on Netflix and we turned that on (while eating cheap pizza.  We are nothing if not romantic and decadent.)  It’s always funny to watch movies from your childhood through the lens of adulthood.  This one is still creepy AF, but such a good watch.  (And it assured us that no, our children are not ready to watch this movie.)

Bonus Watch – We had a family movie night over the weekend and watched the 1971 “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.”  Gosh, that movie is so good.  And (some) shade towards Johnny Depp, but to think that he could replace Gene Wilder?  Fuggedaboutit.

Reading:  Finished Gideon the Ninth by Tasmyn Muir.  Ooof – I can’t believe that I have to wait until June 2020 to read the second book in the trilogy!

Writing Life: Getting ready for Bouchercon and trying to balance work deadlines with personal ones!
– 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: 10/18/19

Huge congrats to my friends Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence for the release of their book The Science of Monsters.  I am so freaking proud of both of them.  And seriously, this past week was a deluge of amazing books from authors that I know or am acquainted with:

  • Catch Me When I’m Falling by Cheryl A. Head – I had the extreme pleasure of getting to know Ms. Head earlier this spring when she presented to MWA-U on the topic of “Characters, Not Caricatures” – writing diverse characters in fiction.
  • The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas.  I love Ms. Thomas’s take on the Sherlock Holmes canon, reimagining the character as Charlotte Holmes.
  • Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha.  OK – so I don’t know Ms. Cha at all, but all of my mystery peeps are abuzz on Cha’s novel.

Is it any wonder that I think I’ll never catch up on all of the awesome books that are out there in this world?

This article made me chuckle – a look at a Midwest chain’s take on pizza.  And guess where you can get it?  At a gas station.

Another book that I should read, but haven’t put on any of my hold lists is Ronan Farrow’s in-depth look in the reporting that took down Harvey Weinstein.  One of the producers who worked with Farrow on NBC News’s original investigation wrote this piece for Vanity Fair. 

***

Listening: Spotify has been really good to me lately. It reminded me of this gem from the late Leonard Cohen:

Reading:  Finished Rob Hart’s The WarehouseAnd I absolutely understand every accolade it has received.  Such a good book and one that feels all to prescient in our Amazon-driven world. Also, upon the recommendation of … well, it seems like nearly everyone on social media, I’m reading Gideon the Ninth by Tasmyn Muir and wow …  So.  Good.  And what a voice.

Writing Life: T-minus only a week+ before I’m heading down to Dallas for Bouchercon 2019. I am so excited, but it’s also hitting me that ~10 days is not a lot of time to get everything done.  Like … you know.  Figure out what clothes to pack.  Research what panels I should attend, figure out who will be in attendance, update my business cards, etc. And since my wonderful in-laws are coming up to help my husband wrangle the hellions, I need to make my mother’s meatloaf and leave it in the fridge as a thank you to my father-in-law. 🙂 The man doesn’t ask for much, but he likes my meatloaf.

– 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.