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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Friday Fare: 3/5/21

I am one of the least flexible people that I know. And you can interpret that any way you wish, but in this context – I’m now at that age where I can injure myself by sleeping on the wrong pillow. Let’s not even discuss how I also serve as a trampoline for my cats. (Don’t ask.) Anyway … I keep hearing about those people who are emerging from quarantine and they’ve worked on their abs, have arms that rival Michelle Obama’s, or they dedicated themselves to a meditation practice. Ummmm … a year later, my abs are a little flabbier, my sourdough starter is languishing somewhere in the back of my refrigerator, I’ve upgraded from wine in bottles to boxes (environmentally friendly, you know), but hey … as of this writing, I have a four-day streak of doing yoga. I guess the YouTube hits for Yoga with Adriene skyrocketed during the pandemic. It’s no real wonder why – Adriene is this laid back yogi who lives in Austin, Texas. Her dog makes guest appearances in her videos. And even for someone inflexible and plus-sized like me, her videos feel pretty accessible. And although the zen, calm, and focus is a huge benefit of daily yoga, I’m in it because I’m in my 40s and most days my back hurts like a sonofabitch. And there is your moment of zen …

I made the viral baked feta pasta that originated from TikTok.  (No, I’m not on TikTok, but if they keep making delicious things go viral, I’m all for it.) Yes, it was tasty.

Carole King’s landmark album “Tapestry” turns 50 this year. Her daughter Louise Goffin wrote this incredible piece commemorating her memories of the album. My mom had this album on vinyl and I remember “discovering” it when I was a teenager. I got to catch Ms. King in concert when she and James Taylor celebrated the 40th anniversary of their November 1970 performance at The Troubadour. It was pretty cool to sit next to my mom and hear the songs that brought us together when I was a kid.

***

Watching: I finished the latest season of Netflix’s “The Crown” and have moved on to watching CBS’s “Elementary.” I think that originally came out in 2012. Sometimes I wonder how I’ve missed out on so much television, but then I remember that 2012 was the year my first child was born. The second came in 2013. Ergo … not a lot of time for TV.

I also like to say that I don’t watch a lot of TV. And I guess I really don’t, but given that come March 18th, I’ll be celebrating the one-year anniversary of when my family went into lockdown, binge watching TV is the least of the vices I’ve been leaning on.

Reading: I finished Mindy Mejia’s “Everything You Want Me to Be.” And it was so good that I promptly sent copies to my mentor Jerry and my BFF Deb. I think Jerry managed to read it in a day. I’m waiting for the rude texts to start from Deb once she gets to the scenes involving “Jane Eyre.” (Deb and I have known each other for over 30 years, she’s still bitter that I convinced our high school AP English teacher that we HAD to read JE for our class.)

Writing: Busy work week (which is good), I’m hoping for a quiet afternoon today to research some agents.

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.

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Friday Fare: 2/26/21

This article attracted my notice because it featured David Lynch, so … no brainer. But what lured me in was that Lynch was keeping farmer’s hours during the pandemic.

Well, my reading list just grew exponentially with this post from Ingram and their recommendations for “rural noir.”

***

Watching: I’m almost caught up with Netflix’s “The Crown.” But over the past few episodes, I’ve been focusing less on the content and more that Olivia Colman’s jawline and overall *lewk* really, really, really reminds me of my late maternal grandma Boots.  It’s comforting and disconcerting.

Reading: I’m really focusing on reading comps (comparative) books for my upcoming agent querying odyssey. I’m revisiting one of Mindy Mejia’s books “Everything You Want Me to Be” and damn … so good.

Writing: Good things abound. Dragonfly/Irreversible is under 90,000 words and I’m getting ready to start sending out my queries.  I just need to write a synopsis.  Gross.

The weather is getting warmer here in Minnesota! Stay healthy, get active, wash your hands, and mask up!

– Shelley

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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.

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Friday Fare: 2/12/21

Do I get some sort of prize for blogging three weeks in a row? What, no? Sigh.

I don’t have that much to say, but I’ve read a few good things lately that need to be shared. This piece about Shelley Duvall in particular. I know she is Wendy Torrance from Kubrick’s “The Shining” for so many people, but she’ll always be Olive Oyl from Robert Altman’s “Popeye” to me.

Forgive me if I’ve shared this before, but this is still my favorite soup recipe. I’m one of those people who will eat soup whenever, but since the temperatures have been below zero here in Minnesota, comfort food like this is a must right now.

***

Minutia/Writing/Etc.: I don’t think that I’m the only creative type who has had one hell of a time putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, etc., during the past year. March will mark a full year that my family have been together with our new work-from-home/distance learning lives and ohmigosh – I am one of the luckiest people that I know and it was our choice to distance learn with our children, but wow – all this togetherness! What we saved this summer in daycare, I am certain will go towards future therapy bills for our shiznits. There are several days (weeks?) that creativity is the last plate that I juggle in my household.

Courtesy of Giphy

While my mind probably resembles a dried out husk, the children run amok, and while the piles on my kitchen counter are truly epic, I’ve been trying to foster my creativity in a passive way.  If I see a webinar that looks interesting and is a “reasonable” cost (free-$35), I’ve attended it. These past couple of weeks, I’ve attended a webinar on publishing hosted by the Off Campus Writers’ Workshop that featured an acquiring editor I admire and an agent who is on my list to query. I also attended a thriller-writing workshop hosted by Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. Jane Friedman has also had some amazing workshops recently and there are authors I admire who have been giving master classes on character development, editing tips, etc.

The pandemic has been a CF and it’s been frustrating to try and get deep work done whether it’s creatively or in my day job (which is the one that pays the mortgage, so that one gets top billing). But attending webinars is my attempt to turn lemons into lemon drops.

However, *whispers* I’m going to get some writing/editing/alone time in this weekend. My fingers are crossed for all sorts of productivity! Or if I’m not productive, some time hanging out in my underwear drinking cheap beer with olives at the bottom of the glass.

Sorry for that image, folks, but it is what it is. Happy Friday!

– Shelley

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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.

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Friday Fare: 2/5/21

The Rochester Public Library Foundation had a successful Wit, Wisdom & Wine in a virtual format. Here’s one of my favorite pictures that came out of the weekend. (Because … well, I didn’t take too many pictures of me rocking business clothes up top and yoga pants on the bottom.)

What I love about this photo is William Kent Krueger’s smiling face (obvs), but the four images up top – that’s me, Brenda, Grace, and Catherine. I felt like these ladies were my sisters after we spent countless hours together moderating this virtual event. And our text strings back and forth were fairly epic.

***

Reading: I’ve been reading, of course, but this is the article that nearly made me nose my coffee when my husband sent it to me.

Also, evenings are for snuggles and books. I like to read productivity books while my oldest child goes for the kid lit.

Writing: I have a blog post percolating in my head that’s based on an email that I wrote to an aspiring writer the other day. Stay tuned. 🙂

– Shelley

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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.

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Friday Fare: Something fun …

I am the speaker chair for this year’s Wit, Wine & Wisdom event that benefits the Rochester Public Library Foundation. Due to Covid, this year’s programming is an online affair via Zoom conferencing call. The past few months have been a flurry of enjoyable planning, but this week has been distilled into a “crunch time.” All of the sudden, those “to dos” on my list aren’t items that I can put off any longer. One of them was preparing a “camera-ready” space for the sessions I’m moderating.

Honestly, I’ve enjoyed those interviews where the watcher can get a glimpse of what’s on a celebrity’s bookshelf and man – I could have a lot of fun with that, but I decided to go for the “artful” route versus showing my husband’s collection of Star Trek novels or revealing to the audience that we have at least three copies of Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” books.

So the picture above is my set-up. The picture is taken in my old office (which is a long story of location shuffling due to Covid). My husband has gracefully dealt with the sheer amount of stuff that I have on the shelves surrounding my old desk, but I decluttered for my upcoming interviews. Here’s what made the cut:

  • A piece of artwork from one of my kids. I may love the library and I may be a writer, but I am a mom first (especially these days …). I don’t remember which kid made this masterpiece for me, but it was cool enough to frame.
  • An event poster from the Edina Art Center and the first official book signing I attended for my short story in Rhonda Gilliland’s anthology “Cooked To Death II: Lying on a Plate.”
  • I lived in west central Minnesota at the beginning of my career in journalism and befriended an amazingly talented artist named Ron Adams. Hell, he’s more than a friend – I call him my Papa Ron and he’s extraordinarily dear to me. Willmar has an annual festival called “Celebrate Art, Celebrate Coffee” and in 2000, Ron designed the poster. I didn’t know him very well at the time (he was one of the photographers at the paper), but the piece spoke to me and I bought one of the numbered copies and accosted him in the paper’s photo bureau to sign the print for me. Little did I know that he would later become one of my closest friends. I treasure this piece for its artistry, but I love this piece because it reminds me to take a chance when it comes to people.
  • I come from a family who’s pretty damn proud of our Scandinavian heritage. For me, this includes receiving pieces featuring “rosemaling” from my great-aunts. Luckily for me, I’ve befriended a Rochester, MN artist named Janet Swanson who paints some of the most amazing pieces. I picked this one up pre-Covid and treasure it. (Janet is married to another amazing artist/photographer named Rick, who is also a dear friend.)
  • I cannot say enough about my friend Cathy Wheeler. She’s a force of nature. She’s kind, she’s talented, she gave me my sourdough starter at the start of Covid, she knitted items for my children when they were born, I used to babysit her cousin’s kids and … and … and. I don’t know what’s bigger – her heart or her immense talent. This piece is an original work that she gifted to me.
  • Finally … FINALLY! My husband and I joked that I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t do something that was slightly subversive. You can’t really see it, but there’s a little trio of items that I have in the corner of my tableau – a wooden cat figure that’s gray, a cherry-stained wooden box, and a ceramic skull that my husband gave me when he came back from a work trip. Why yes, that box holds my cat’s ashes. This is the tribute to my late cat, Digger. He was a force to be contended with and he’s always with me in spirit. And in some cases, on screen.

Not seen is a picture that’s directly behind me. It’s an old picture of my grandpa Stan from the 1970s at an auction. He had a gift for gab, I’m hoping that there’s enough of him in me to make me sound smart and not like a stuttering fan girl as I interview folks this upcoming weekend.

***

Blessings: Emails from friends and family. Facebook Messenger strings and text groups with good friends – exchanging recipes and memes, helping each other navigate motherhood and life during Covid. Adorable cats. My family who puts up with me. Hello Fresh deliveries that do the bulk of grocery “shopping” for me.

Reading: One of the authors I’m interviewing is C.H. Armstrong. I read her books “The Edge of Nowhere” and “Roam.”  They were both unputdownable books. I also finished Sherry Thomas‘s “Murder on Cold Street,” the latest of her Lady Sherlock series. That was so good and it was a read that had me up way past my bedtime.

Random: I triple-booked myself on Tuesday, which, if you know me – that’s not unusual or impossible. Luckily for me, everything these days is virtual and both sessions I attended were taped via Crowdcast or Zoom. First, the national Sisters in Crime held an editing session with Jess Lourey. She’s a Minnesota author who is amazingly talented and kind. To get to learn from her is a master class in and of itself. But I also took a chance on a virtual book event from the Harvard Book Store – Irish actor Gabriel Byrne was doing an event to promote his second memoir “Walking with Ghosts.” I tried talking myself out of registering for Byrne’s event, but I’m glad that my frivolous side that hoards books talked louder than the rational side of me that reminded me that I had a webinar with Jess Lourey and a 7 PM meeting for another engagement. There are so many terrible parts of Covid, but if there’s a silver lining, it’s the fact that Zoom enables a different sort of connection.

Sending love and socially distanced hugs to you all!

– Shelley

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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.

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A new dawn, day, year …

… And I’m 25 days late in greeting it, and you, in it. But I’ve been blessedly swamped with work lately. And then on Saturday, I tried a new sport:

My hips are screaming at me today, but I’m grateful for socially distanced activities so I can see my dear friends and get out of the house. (A bonus that the women below are insanely talented local writers who like craft beer and chocolate as much as I do!)

So – my belated wishes for a happy new year. I am hoping for a kinder year. I am hoping to get to spend time with more friends and family this year. (Wear a damn mask.) I am hopeful for a greater peace.

Best,
Shelley