Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 5/11/18 (In Memoriam Edition)

My cousin died this week.  And while my father is one of five children and the majority of them went on to have 2-3 kids, resulting in a plethora of cousins; my mom has one sister and both of them had two children. Four grandchildren, four first cousins – two boys and two girls.  Four musketeers that were raised to basically be siblings (including the fights, oh lordy the fights were stupid-epic.).  And now, we are down one.  And god, my heart has a fault line created early Sunday morning when my mom called to tell me that her bonus son had fallen and died of his injuries.

Let’s not sugarcoat things.  My cousin wasn’t perfect, I’m not perfect – our relationship reflected this imperfection.  I cannot drive the heavy machinery that he seemed born to operate and he could barely use a computer.  He drank Busch Light and I drink craft beer.  But we loved our grandparents.  We have all the shared memories that come out of childhood.  A Waylon Jennings CD was on top of the stack of discs I found in his kitchen, so the kid had good taste in music.  (Yes, he was a 38-year-old man, but I was older – so I get to call him a kid.)  There were times this week that I wondered if he thought that I was weird and frivolous, but to be honest – we probably didn’t spend much time thinking about each other, because we were just there.  Most of the time, family just shows up and my cousin and I were good at that.

My cousin was a good man.  He was one hell of a hard worker.  He didn’t talk a lot, but he showed up early to family gatherings and he’d just take it all in.  He drove a truck, he had a dog.  I watched a lot of burly men cry this week as they remembered one of the greatest friends they’ll ever have.  He leaves his dad, his mom and her husband, his baby sister, a trio of stepsiblings, his aunts and uncles, a lot of cousins.  He was buried on an unseasonably cool spring day in a beautiful church cemetery in the country.  I was comforted to see that he’s beside his beloved uncle Gene and close to his paternal grandparents, Ben and Virginia. 

His memory is a blessing, but for the rest of my days I’m going to miss my bonus brother.

Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 5/4/18

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.

My eldest child was already picking some “dandi-flowers” on the way to school this AM, so I think it’s time to change up the banner on ye ‘ol Friday Fare.

I’m an ex-journalist and as a mentor once told me, it’s important to fact check EVERYTHING.  Even the claim that your mother loves you.  Pro tip?  Using Wikipedia is NOT the same thing as using a reputable source for fact checking.  Don’t believe me?  See here.

I’ve got a bunch of big love in my heart for Sturgill Simpson.  And I also understand the angst that comes with being a writer.  Reading this article by Leesa Cross-Smith was a treat as it combines the aforementioned. (PS – Oxford American is probably one of my favorite online reading spots these days.  I don’t read them all the time, but they have some fine contributors.)

Career Authors has become one of my FAVORITE writing spots on the Interwebs.  It features contributors who are luminaries in the mystery world like Hank Phillipi Ryan, Paula Munier, and more.  They recently ran a post by Jenny Milchman that talked about the difficulties of balancing family and the writing life.  And I thought back to the day that I left for Killer Nashville.  My in-laws agreed to watch my kiddos until my husband joined them for the weekend and instead of leaving to hugs and well wishes, I was nearly in tears because my youngest son decided to start projectile vomiting as I was preparing to continue my southern road trip.  It was a rough mom-ing moment in my life.  (And I should add … youngest was fine.  My husband brought his mom a bouquet of flowers.  And I got first runner-up for the Claymore Award.  I like to think that there’s been no lasting damage.)


Listening: Last week, I talked about my trio of awesome concert experience and shared that I saw Willie Watson at the Cavalier Theater in LaCrosse.  I’ve had this song on near constant repeat since then.  (And bonus … my eldest also knows the words, which makes us folk geeks.  Or adorable.  You pick.)

Reading: I just finished Kathryn Lane’s “Waking Up in Medellin.”  Ms. Lane won Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion in 2017 for this book.  And it’s good, Lane writes amazing actions scenes. There were a couple parts of the book that I couldn’t suspend my disbelief on.  (i.e. – I rooted for the romantic pairing, but didn’t think that the main character would be getting it on while her life was in peril.  But hey … I could be wrong.)

I have a heart full of congrats and excitement for the next book on my list.  My dear, dear friend Emily Allen West has a novella out with a bunch of other writers.  “Of Beasts and Beauties” is next on my Kindle.

Writing Life: Writing is a marathon, not a sprint and I’m still wogging (walk/jogging) along. I have Sunday to myself since I’m solo parenting this Saturday and I’m looking forward to figuring out what the hell is wrong with the last half of my book.   

May your coffee be hot and your lawn not totally full of dandi-flowers.

– Shelley


Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 4/27/18

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.

Click here to see the crown that Prince deserves.  I still miss Prince.

Happy book birthday to my friend Michelle Cox.  She Writes had a neat piece with Michelle on their blog.

Given how weird the world is, I love finding “news of the weird.”  This sounds like a delicious crime.

This editorial cartoon hit me squarely in the feels, sounds like I’m not the only one.


Listening: I’ve had a weirdly wonderful musical weekend / week.  I saw the legendary Del McCoury and his band last week.  On Sunday, I went with one of my dearest friends to see Lord Huron up at the Palace Theatre in St. Paul.  (PS – I’m too damn old for general admission tix.  Ouch.)

Last night found me at the Cavalier Theater in LaCrosse listening to Willie Watson.

I don’t know if there’s such a thing as “too many” concerts.  I’ve found out the hard way over the years that if there’s an artist you’re into and you get a chance to go … go.  (Ahem … missedoutonseeingjohnnycashandstillpissy.)  My mind is richer because of these experiences.

Reading: How has this book been out for decades and I’m JUST reading this?  Wow.

Writing Life: Plugging along.  I attended an online revision workshop a couple weekends ago, hosted by Samantha & Cristina from ManuFixed.  They’re holding a repeat and it was money well spent.

Be well.

– Shelley


Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 4/20/18

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.

OK, so let us be clear.  Roxane Gay is a gatdamn national icon.  Her column “Ask Roxane” does not run ENOUGH in the New York Times.  Dammit.  I hadn’t seen her column “Is It Too Late to Follow My Dreams” when it first ran, but that makes the catch-up all the sweeter.  FYI, NYTimes … more Roxane Gay.  Please?

I had the pleasure of participating in a panel with Catherine Dilts at Killer Nashville. It was great to read her recap of Jeffrey Deaver’s presentation “Writing Commercial Fiction.”  Mr. Deaver gave this presentation earlier this month for Sisters in Crime Colorado / Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America and it’s the same presentation I had the honor of attending in March.  I don’t get to see my mystery brethren outside of the Midwest very often, but reading Ms. Dilts’s recap made me feel like I had attended Mr. Deaver’s talk with my good friends in Colorado.


Listening: The B-52s album “Cosmic Thing” was one of the first albums I remember consciously buying growing up.  (It’s the album that had “Love Shack” and “Roam” on it.  But the whole damn thing is gold.)  I, apparently, am not the only person who has found solace and inspiration in the B-52s.  Forty years ago, the song “Rock Lobster” was released and it inspired a certain English musician who had found himself in a creative funk.  Long live the B-52s.

Reading: I’ve been tearing through books lately, partly because I’ve *needed* to read them, but partly because I just enjoy reading. Earlier this week, as my corner of Minnesota got blanketed in snow, I finished Rebecca Kanner’s “Sinners and the Sea” – a story told from the point of view of Noah’s wife.  It was fabulous.  I liked “Esther” better, but a person could do worse than to pick up one of Kanner’s fabulous stories.

Writing Life: Earlier this week, I was chronicling my work life and how my writing life was out of whack.  The person I was whini … erm, venting to … told me to write a paragraph a day.  I’m not quite doing that, but putting my frustrations in email helped me to refocus my attention on “Dragonfly.”  I’m going through the entire draft and I’m sketching out the edits that I still need to make overall in the second half of the story. Who is it that said that the majority of writing is rewriting? Sigh.  You were right.

Be well,

– Shelley


Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 4/6/18

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.

Lots of lit stuff in the webz this week. Let’s dig in (and PS – it’s going to be a love fest of Minnesota writers, because there’s a lot going on in my Minnesota mystery world):

– Jess Lourey is an incredible writer and she’s seriously one of the nicest people you’re going to meet in life.  Bonus:  She’s also a college instructor and one of the most meaningful “craft” classes I’ve had came from Ms. Lourey.  I mentioned that she’s nice, right?  She announced on Facebook that she was discounting the cost of her “Rewrite Your Life” course from ~$100 to free.  I left a comment on her original post and she mentioned her desire to “share the light.”  <– Seriously.  This.  Author.

– Clay Stafford, the founder of Killer Nashville, has now founded a publishing company.  Congrats, Clay!

– Do any of us really balance the reality between social media and creating?  Dani Shapiro contributes a great piece to LitHub.

Finally, I have a weird crush on Donald Sutherland.  I do not care that he’s 82 years old.  (Kinda like my feelings for Christopher Plummer.  Let’s not plumb these thoughts, eh?)  If Helen Mirren and Mr. Sutherland pulled up in my driveway, I’d pack the snacks and hit the open road with them.


Listening: So, my work day used to be orchestrated to random finds on YouTube.  And while I still lurve me some YouTube, the commercials were driving me batty.  So I’ve been listening to “old faithful”: The music I have on my laptop streaming through Windows Media Player.  (Why yes, I’m lame.  And I’m OK with this.)  So here’s my random contribution to y’all finding something new.  Check this guy out:

I went to college with this guy’s big sister and even though I think that covering Bruce Springsteen is sacrilege, he can do it.  (PS – Hayward Williams is the guy’s name.)

Reading: If you keep up with my “Events” section, you’ll note that I’ve added an upcoming event at the Edina Art Center.  I’ll be facilitating a conversation with Rebecca Kanner, the author of “Esther” and “Sinners and the Sea.” Full disclosure:  Kanner’s about a million miles cooler than I am; so the few times we’ve talked IRL, I’ve pretty much stammered, so April 14th’s event should be a real treat. But in preparation for Rebecca’s presentation, I took a spin through “Esther.”  And by “I took a spin”, I basically spent Easter weekend glued to the screen of my phone/Kindle app because “Esther” was so damn good.

Writing Life: Well … my professional life gave me a trio of panic attacks last week.  And this week has nearly reduced me to tears three times, so … yeah. Panic attacks and looming work deadlines do jack sh*t for my creative life, but I’m going to make up for it this weekend.  Mindy Mejia (another Minnesota author extraordinaire) is presenting a session on taxes for us creative types at ModernWell up in the Twin Cities.  (Very cannily titled “Of Death and Taxes.”)  I’m going because I want to learn about taxes.  But to be honest, ModernWell is an incredible work co-operative that’s specifically for women (it smells like lavender and the last time I was there, they had Fleetwood Mac playing on a continuous loop.  It was a weird version of Shelley heaven.)  Mindy Mejia is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.  And two other writer friends are attending.  So … we’re going to call that a trifecta of winning.

Spring is nearly here, right?  Right?

Be well.

– Shelley


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

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.

Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 2/23/18 (The “Done With Winter” edition)

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.

Given that I talk a little bit about my recent trip down memory lane below, the timing of this article is fortuitous.  While the rest of my girlfriends were oogling a young Brad Pitt (This was right when “Legends of the Fall” and “A River Runs Through It” first came out.), I was making my girlfriends rent movies like “Dogfight” and “School Ties” so I could drool over Brendan Fraser.  (For my money, he’s still dreamy …)

This piece comes out of Canada and has some beautifully sumptuous details.  One of my favorite lines:  “… Nothing that implied flesh; Lanvin’s My Sin, the olfactory equivalent of a slinky black cat, would never do.”

Again with the nostalgia card.  I read two articles this week that had to do with authors important to my “upbringing” as a writer.  I remember a winter break where I read a small garbage pail full of Louis L’Amour books.  (No, I don’t think there was a hidden meaning that they were in a garbage pail.  My grandpa bought them at an auction and I think they were just put in there for ease of carrying / selling.)  This piece about some of L’Amour’s unfinished work and a chance to look at some of the method behind his madness with his drafts?  Sign me up.

V.C. Andrews.  She was a staple of my junior high cafeteria.  We’d earmark the sex scenes and then pass the book around so we could all educate each other on the finer points of fictional lovemaking (or something like that).  And you can laugh at me, but I had no clue that Ms. Andrews was dead.  Buzzfeed curated an amazing piece that goes into the “ghost of V.C. Andrews” and her amazing publishing afterlife.


Watching: Let’s run with this nostalgia thing, shall we?  I was folding laundry the other day and decided that I wanted to tackle laundry mountain while mindlessly watching TV.  So I went to Netflix and I clicked on “Riverdale” which is a modern retelling of the Archie comic books. (A favorite from junior high.)  Holy hell … a) I love the Archie comic books, so this is up my alley.  B) The makers of “Riverdale” are totally playing the nostalgia card – Mädchen Amick (she played Shelly Johnson in “Twin Peaks”) is Betty’s mom while Luke Perry (from “Beverly Hills 90210” fame) plays Archie’s dad.  Nostalgia sells, CW … good work.

Reading: I finished the Streep biography and had to return Amanda Hocking’s book (new release at the library and my time was up).  I had to read some books for a panel I moderated and very much enjoyed Sherry Roberts’ “The Down Dog Diary.”  (Roberts is a Minnesota mystery author and her book was just brain candy.)  I’m partway through John Gaspard’s “The Ambitious Card.” (Another Minnesota mystery, this features an amateur magician as the protagonist.  Fabulous.)  Also just got this one from the library:

Pendergast rarely lets me down.  This book is no exception.

Writing Life (and Life In General): Remember in my year-end recap how I talked about when my kids got sick in March 2017?  Well, they jumped a month and my entire family got some version of crud last week. 

I recovered in time for a good weekend of events, both writerly and not.  First, on Saturday, I moderated a panel about “celebrating the amateur sleuth” in Shakopee, Minnesota.  I had to make a stop at the Donut Connection for nostalgia’s sake.

Then on Saturday night, I spent a girls’ getaway with some of my dearest friends from high school.  Lots of laughter.  Lots of Fireball – more for them than for me.  On Sunday morning, I woke up with the intention of grabbing a cup of coffee and spending some time on “Dragonfly,” but one of my friends was awake and it was a bit of a no-brainer to sit on the couch and catch up with her.  Words on the page are important, but so is nurturing friendships and filling the well. Sometimes I think that I place an almost mythological spin on our friendship, but when I think about who I am today – they have a lot to do with it.  It was a great weekend.


I’m signing off from the land of nostalgia.  It’s cold here, not because of the memories – most of those are amazing.  It’s just freakin’ cold here in Minnesota and I need to remember to escape to a warmer climate next year.  Even if only for a weekend.