Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 2/9/18 (The “Still Cold AF” 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.

Nearly 40 years ago, this was a Minnesota miracle.

I had the utmost pleasure of meeting Deborah Harkness, author of the “All Souls Trilogy,” a few years back when she was on book tour.  I took PTO when books two and three were released.  It looks like I’ll need to save a day in September for when her next book comes out.  (Think academic vampires in a historical setting.  Excellent!)

Let’s just put this out there:  I will never be as cool as Frances McDormand.  And yeah, I may have something of a girl crush on her.  #LongLiveFrancesMcDormand

On a more serious note, John Gorman’s piece in Medium entitled “You’re Not Lazy: The Last Motivational Blog Post You’ll Ever Need” had me nodding and pulling out pull quotes to feature in my Friday Fare.  (NSFW warning:  Gorman swears.  A lot.)  But as I tend to do, I copied and pasted the most titillating thing I read (“The secret to eternal happiness and boundless success rests in tips that many of us learned in first grade. So … why in the actual fuck are so many of us struggling?” *Inserts giggle* He says the f-word!)  Honestly though – there was a lot more depth here beyond the profanity.  (I’m sure there’s some lesson that somewhere, what it is – I’m not sure.)  But Gorman’s piece made me do some meditation on fear and I’ve bookmarked this piece to read through again.

***

Listening: As the music industry prepares to celebrate the 25th anniversary of k.d. lang’s album Ingenue, the predictable influx of articles lauding lang’s her vocal stylings can be found all over the interwebs.  I was too young to appreciate lang when I was younger, but fell under her spell when I was a teenager and MOR Music TV played her collaboration with Roy Orbison on a predictable loop.  I’ve been listening to Hymns of the 49th Parallel lately and just loving her voice.  But if you want a real treat, check out lang with Orbison:

Reading: I’m currently reading a pair of books.  The new Amanda Hocking (“Between the Blade and the Heart“) and a biography about Meryl Streep (“Her Again: Becoming Meryl Streep“).  Hocking has an interesting story as an author (and she lives in southeastern Minnesota, natch!).  She started her career in self-publishing and made a mint, then went to a big publishing house.  #squadgoals

Writing Life: A couple epochs this week … after a holiday of sorts, I got chapters from “Dragonfly” over to my mentor.  (Thank you, Jerry.  The next round’s on me.) I got 10 pages of a short story draft over to my writers group in the Twin Cities.  It was kind of odious, so next Tuesday ought to be a joy. And finally, I’m a member of the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime.  Earlier this week, our chapter basically got to have a master class on suspense taught by William Kent Krueger (who is, probably literally, one of the nicest authors in Minnesota).  It’s classes and experiences like these that make groups like Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America so valuable. 

 

That’s it from me in the effing frigid north.  I’m dreaming of warmer temperatures and a productive weekend of writing!  My best to you!

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Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 2/2/18 (The “I’m just grateful to get through this week” 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.

“… this, I only now realize, was the lesson she was trying to teach. If you open yourself to the world, there will be stories to tell.” Read this piece from The New Yorker.

The writing world lost an icon last month with the passing of Ursula K. LeGuin.  A couple days later, Dallas Mayr – known better to readers as Jack Ketchum – also passed.  Cemetery Dance posted a posthumous interview with Mr. Mayr.  This passage particularly resonated with me: “Too many kids coming up are reading in their genre only, and they’re reading only the stuff that they think they want to write. Ain’t supposed to do that. You’re supposed to read everything. Read the damn newspaper. Take your ideas from everywhere. Read Maureen Dowd’s column in the Times. She’s a funny writer, and she’s smart. Don’t just read Anne Rice and write the next vampire novel.”

So proud of my friend and former writing group member Bret.  His short story “Straw Men” was published by Sweet Tree Review. It’s pretty cool to see the final version of a piece that he workshopped with our writing group.

 

***

Listening: My first concert for 2018 is booked.  Lord Huron are touring in support of a new album.  My concert BFF and I are going to the Palace Theatre in April to absorb.  This is a favorite LH song:

Reading: I finished Cate Holahan’s “Lies She Told.”  And it was goooood.

Writing Life: Man … this was a week.  It wasn’t a bad week, per se – I was able to cross some stuff off of my to-do lists, but there was a lot of personal time spent catching up on my day job (let me just say a quick word of praise for the concepts of “urgent care” and “antibiotics” [with love and appreciation from a mom with kids prone to ear infections]).  We also saw the calendar page turn from January to February.  Although I felt like I kicked some arse on making progress on Dragonfly, my word tallies felt somewhat short of the goal.  (I wrote around 10,500 words in January, my monthly goal is around 17k.)  BUT … I’m further today than I was a month ago, so … measurable progress friends!

My wishes to you all for warm weather and fat word counts!  Have a great weekend.

Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 1/26/18

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.

Sign me up.  Has it really been two years since we’ve lost David Bowie?  His son Duncan found a beautiful way to memorialize him by setting up a David Bowie-inspired book club.  (Bonus content: Bowie’s 100 favorite books.)

Publishers Weekly posted their list of 2018’s most anticipated books.  I see some good reading in my future.

I’ve previously discussed my love for Agent Pendergast, the fictional character created by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.  And in an amazing “six degrees of separation,” Liz Gatterer from Killer Nashville interviewed Preston and Child in advance of the upcoming release of “City of Endless Night.” (I met Liz last summer and she’s. amazing.)

***

Listening: A lot of times when a well-known musician dies, there’s this outpouring of memories for one segment of the population; while another part of the populace scratches their heads and asks “Did you know them?  Why are you sad?”  I don’t have a great answer for that, but in the case of Dolores O’Riordan from The Cranberries and her untimely death at 46, it’s a combination of factors.  The rise of The Cranberries basically tracks the tail end of my junior high and the beginning of my high school years.  There was nothing like her voice – that glorious, unabashedly Irish brogue – when I was growing up in the middle of nowhere Iowa. In hearing the song below, I remember drives in my 1988 Pontiac Sunbird and cranking this song when it came on the radio.  Whether I was pissed off at some stupid choice I’d made or happy to have dodged some sort of karmic bullet, there were so many times that this was my personal anthem.

Ms. O’Riordan’s death leaves a hole in the creative universe and in the case of this talented musician (only about six years older than me), it’s grieving a loss of what could have been.

Ms. O’Riordan, this angsty girl-woman from the middle of nowhere Iowa thanks you.  Safe travels on your final journey.

Reading: Cate Holahan’s “Lies She Told.”  I met this woman last summer at Killer Nashville and was intrigued when she told the panel about her upcoming novel release.  Apparently, Kirkus Reviews agreed with my perception that Holahan’s book is a stunner.

Writing Life: Earlier this week I talked about how 2018 is the year of “measurable progress.”  So I’ve been measuring progress, namely by tracking word counts and how much time I’m spending per week on my writing.  This week was a major project week for my day job and so far this week, I’ve spent about three hours on writing.  Luckily the majority of that (2.5 hours / 1800 words) was for fiction.  Unfortunately, that nice little burst of creativity happened on Sunday and wasn’t replicated during the week.  But I netted over 2,000 words this weekend and the trends I’m seeing for January make me wonder if I need to maximize my potential on weekend mornings.  I’ve been getting some good work done during that time (and that’s even between getting up from my desk to switch cartoons for my kids.)  More on this next week!

That’s it from me – have a peaceful weekend!

Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 2017 Recap (1/12/18)

Is it my imagination or did 2018 sneak up on us like some stealth ninja?  I have a post-it note on my desk that I wrote in November with my year-end wrap-up ideas and … it’s still there.  But I’m just getting around to writing this post.  I get props for the effort, right?  Right?

Well, without any more of my lame excuses, I need to start out by saying that 2017 was a pretty damn incredible year.

I broadened some horizons.  I met some incredible people.  I was gobsmacked to win an award for my novel “Dragonfly Lake.”  I attended a book signing … where I signed books!  I think I had about a million “pinch me” moments throughout the year that defied my expectations.  Here’s a bit of a recap:

In January, I announced that the Sh*tty First Draft (SFD) of Dragonfly was done (finished in December 2016.)  Guess what … still editing that SFD.

February – Attended the Minnesota Writers Workshop and pitched to two agents.  It was nerve wracking, but helped me to polish my pitch.  Money well spent.

I spent March working on a short story.  And my children seemed to be sick for most of the month.  (Note to children … please do not schedule a repeat.)

In April I moderated my first panel that featured some kick-ass Minnesota mystery writers that I admire immensely. I also started (and apparently I subsequently abandoned) a feature that I called “Book Dump” that featured AAAAALLLLLL of the screenshots of books that have caught my fancy on social media.  The sad part?  I could revive this feature in a heartbeat, because I screenshot books “To Be Read” (TBR) on a daily basis.

May … the only thing of note in this month is that I changed the Friday Fare logo to reflect what my children call “dandi-flowers.”  Man, I miss spring.

What I lacked in May, I made up for in June.  I read “Jane Steele” by Lyndsey Faye and have subsequently nursed a girl crush on both Jane and Faye since then.  Lori Rader-Day and Kristi Belcamino kicked some arse at Subtext Books in St. Paul.  The night before that, I got to worship at the Church of Neil Diamond and I even made time during June to take a class at the Loft Literary Center from Tamara Hogan.

[Insert Gratuitous Neil Diamond Picture Here.]

Aaaaaaaaaaaand then I didn’t post anything in July, which … shame on me.  Two important things happened though in July.  OK – a few things happened in July.  I turned 39.  (<– I love birthdays, because … well, cake.)  I got to see the final cover proof of “Cooked To Death II: Lying on a Plate.”  (I’d announce my involvement in the anthology later, but trust me – there were squeals of joy when I saw the back cover.  Especially when I saw a blurb from William Kent Krueger.)

Another crazy thing happened – I got an email from Nashville, informing me that my unpublished novel “Dragonfly Lake” (why yes, the novel of the SFD) was nominated for the 2017 Claymore Award:

I may have shrieked a little bit.  May have run around my basement a couple times like a total loon.

AUGUST. There was a lot of August and only one of me.  And that particular me drove 1,500+ miles at the tail end of the month to Nashville, Tennessee and back.  I got to cross rivers and see landmarks that I had only read about in books and heard in old country songs.  And I found out that I’m really, really, really bad at speaking in public when I’m caught unprepared:

First Runner Up for the 2017 Claymore Award.

I also made some lifelong friends and tribe members.  So. Amazingly. Blessed.

September.  Finally wrote a recap about my Killer Nashville weekend.

October. Finally lifted the lid on my story’s inclusion in CTD.  Was surprised and thrilled that my parents drove 3+ hours to come to CTD’s first book event.

November. Got to spend a girls weekend with two of my favorite writers.

December.  My blog presence was the equivalent of a lump of coal, apparently. 🙂

Man alive … sorry for the longest blog update ever, but considering I personally know the majority of my blog readers – I gotta extend my sincere thanks and my appreciation for being on this journey with me.  I hope that we all have a peaceful and productive 2018.

Best,
Shelley

 

Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 12/29/17 (The “I really have nothing to say but ‘hi'” Edition)

I am grateful for vacation and long holiday weekends.  I’m grateful for Caribou Coffee and Americanos with room for cream.  And although you’d think that this cozy coffee shop would give me plenty of impetus for inspiration (or “scope for the imagination” as my dear friend Anne Shirley would say), this day has found me relatively tapped of anything other than a fond hello to my blog readers.  I hope that whatever holiday traditions you embrace, that you’ve had a pleasant season, and that you’re eying 2018 with a sense of adventure versus trepidation.

I’ll be back in 2018.  I have some stories to share and some goals to set.  In the meantime, merry everything and we’ll see you in the new year.

Best,
Shelley

Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 12/8/17

Here’s a holiday gift idea for the metal-loving cat lady in your life.

This was an enjoyable piece from Lithub about how L.M. Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables” is the “patron saint of girls who ask too many questions.”

I think I’ve talked ad nauseum about my love of the Royal Family.  So you can imagine that I was delighted to hear that Prince Harry proposed to his girlfriend, the American actress Meghan Markle.  To complete the awesomeness of this announcement, the Kitchn published this piece announcing that the Barefoot Contessa herself has given her blessing to the new royal couple.

Finally – check out my Events page.  I have an event coming up in January at the Rochester Barnes & Noble!

***

Watching: I had some personal time over the Thanksgiving holiday and after CRUSHING a Turkey Trot, I recovered while watching BBC’s “North and South”  (Richard Armitage – swoon.)  and the London-based police procedural “Luther” (Idris Elba – also swoon.  There was a lot of swooning over the Thanksgiving holiday, apparently.)  I don’t watch a lot of TV (Reasons: Young children and literary dreams.), but both distractions were enjoyable.

Reading: I had to abandon Sherman Alexie’s memoir (wait list at the library and someone is wanting to read it!).  I’ll pick it up again later.  I was bemoaning how slow I am when it comes to reading, but then I slammed down Colleen Hoover’s “Without Merit” last night. And that was good …

Writing Life: Edits. Edits.  Built a Visio to mindmap where my book is at.  Edits.

Have a good weekend, friends!

Friday Fare

Friday Fare: Black Friday Edition (11/24/17)

I’m currently working on a short story. Although this blog post was published in August, it has some timely information about short stories and the importance of nailing your ending.

I’ve read this before and I’ve probably posted this before (because I have a documented girl crush on Tina Fey), but this article came up in my Facebook feed recently and I wanted to read it again.  This part is particularly resonating with me as I think about my journey with my novel “Dragonfly”:  “The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s eleven-thirty.”

This is one of those recipes that make me think “I can do that.”  And I probably can, but man … I need to clone myself if I think that such culinary excellence is in my near future.

 

***

Listening: As I’m writing this, Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer are crooning from my laptop speakers.  People think I’m joking, but the Sound of Music soundtrack is my “getting sh*t done” music.

Reading: Still reading Sherman Alexie’s memoir “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.”  Finished Wendy Webb’s “The End of Temperance Dare.”  And wow – that one gave me some bad dreams.  In a good way.

Writing Life: “Dragonfly” rewrites and churning away at a short story.  The short story is going better than the rewrites, but … I’m being creative.  That’s half the battle, right?

Have a good weekend, friends!

Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 11/10/17

I shared this link awhile ago with a certain mentor of mine and told him that there’s a lot of Frances McDormand in the main character of my novel Dragonfly.  This woman is equal parts luminosity and sandpaper.  I adore Frances McDormand.

Thriller writer (and all around kick ass person) Cate Holahan contributed this piece to Miss Demeanors on “10 Bookstagrammers To Know”.  Instagram has emerged as an interesting medium for authors to promote their books.  Holahan’s piece spotlights a handful of them.

 

Finally, have a problem with clutter?  (Yeah, my office is something of a hovel / ready for a “Hoarders” intervention.)  Forget KonMari-ing everything, the New York Post sheds light on a new way to clean.  And who thought that the best thing to come out of Sweden were the Skarsgard men?

***

Listening: See my “Reading” note below, but every time I type the title of the book I’m currently reading, my mind hears Dusty Springfield:

Reading: Sherman Alexie’s memoir “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.”  I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Alexie speak up at Macalaster College in St. Paul a few years back.  He had either wrote or was in the process of writing this book and his talk featured stories about his late mother.  And man … when I remember was my amazement of how Alexie broke my heart one moment and then had me laughing until more tears were rolling down my face in the next.  His memoir is no different.

Writing Life: Girls’ weekend was a mad success.  I got some time to work on Dragonfly, as well as take notes and get inspiration for a project I’m working on with my friends Jessica Ellis Laine and Emily Gorman.  (H/T to Jessica for the photo below – although, technically it was my ridiculously long arms that captured the shot [ergo, why my face is hogging most of the frame.].)

As I indicated last week, I’m using National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) to finish rewrites on Dragonfly and am grateful for the Facebook group that’s helping me with accountability.  Mind you, work has been crazy SILLY busy this week, but even if I write 200 words – that’s still 200 words.

 

Have a good weekend, friends!

Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 11/3/17

By the time some of you read this, I’ll be in my mom-mobile and heading north to northern Wisconsin with a pair of dear friends for a girls’ / writing weekend.  I have a penchant for GSD (getting sh*t done) while away on weekends, so I’m hoping to keep up with that winning streak.

In the meantime, the Interwebs have been good this week.  Here’s a couple links:

I’m proud to be an Iowan and I’m a Hawkeye fan by default.  To hear how people are reacting to Iowa’s “wave” to cancer patients and their families at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, it makes me proud and teary at the same time.

This girl is my hero.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed as Clark Kent for Halloween.  True to this article, I had all the feels.

I’ve been eating more low carb stuff lately for a variety of reasons.  And something that I’m secretly mad about … meatballs.  The perfect, portable food.  I made these meatballs the other day and they did not disappoint.

***

Listening: I take comfort in hearing about the creative process for other artists.  That’s not limited to other authors.  So, the fact that it took Sam Beam (from Iron & Wine) ten years to write his song “Tree by the River.”  Well … it comforts me a little bit.  Listen to the song here.

Reading: I finished Jerry Spinelli’s YA book “The Warden’s Daughter.”  Young Adult is usually not my jam, but this book was immensely enjoyable.

Writing Life: I’m fortunate to have found Mystery Writer’s of America and I’m particularly in love with the Midwest chapter.  It’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and one of our members announced that she’s not writing a novel this month, but she’s re-writing.  We have a group formed for support and encouragement and although it’s only the first week, I’ve appreciated the sense of community.

So yeah – edits.  Beyond the writer’s weekend described above, my world is all about edits right now and that’s OK.

 

Friday Fare

Friday Fare: 10/27/17

This article seems timely with Halloween upon us.

I think I’ve talked before about how much I appreciate good journalism. Obviously, that stems from my past life as a reporter.  But there’s nothing more satisfying to me than a well executed series of stories.  Check out this one from the Los Angeles Times about a woman who fell in love with the wrong man.  (Bonus:  It’s already run in its entirety so you can binge at once.)

This soup is my secret weapon.  Chicken.  Wild Rice.  Crockpot.  (And because I’m lazy – erm, busy – I get everything from Trader Joe’s, including their pre-cut mirepoix, and all I need to do is dump everything in the crockpot and let it cook.)

***

Listening: Always worth a watch:

Reading: I finished Jenny Kales’s “Secrets and Pie” her latest installment in her Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries series.  Cozy mysteries aren’t usually my jam, but there’s something addictive about Jenny’s combination of a kick ass character, authentic Greek recipes, and a mystery series set in a quaint Wisconsin town.

Writing Life: Dragonfly – Edits. Edits. Edits. I’ve surmounted my pacing issue (I hope?) and am plugging along.  Cooked To Death – I have a short story that was published in a short story anthology called “Cooked To Death: Lying on a Plate.”  I’m incredibly proud to be included with some killer authors – Kristi Belcamino, Wendy Webb, Christine Husom among some of them.  See my Publications page for purchasing details!