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Friday Fare: 7/19/19

Timing is Everything … I really appreciated this insight from Angelique L’Amour’s blog post.  And as always, how does this relate to my own life?  (And some uncomfortable questions that causes me to ask myself.)

Jill Lepore wrote an incredible piece called “The Lingering of Loss” for The New Yorker.  I can’t define one facet of this piece that spoke to me (a writer who is also a mom?  That intersection of motherhood and creativity?  The importance of female friends? [One of mine was having a health crisis when I originally found this.] Loss?  There’s been a couple important losses recently in my life. [Although shit, thank God my cat didn’t have a laptop, I don’t even want to know what he’d have surfed on the Internet.])  The whole of this piece is poignant and incredible.

Nick. Cave.  That is all.

My husband sent me this article – the gist of it being a state of Iowa employee was dismissed by the governor for having an obsession with the late rapper Tupac Shakur.  And the article, right there, as it’s stated sounds like a solid read.  Until you click on the link and realize that this employee is not the disenfranchised Gen X-er or Millennial who could/should be digging Tupac’s music, but an old white dude.  And all of the sudden, your heart fills with hope.  At least mine did after I stopped giggling like a madwoman.

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Listening: Earlier this week, I got to see 10,000 Maniacs.  Natalie Merchant may not be with the band anymore, but when I listen to 10,000 Maniacs, I’m back in high school.  (And actually, driving my car in a ditch while listening to the live version of “Like the Weather”.  Seriously. )

Reading: Ooooooof … I finished Tracy Clark’s second Cass Raines book this week (Borrowed Time) and wow.  My Kindle drained itself of battery when I was 94% through the book, so I plugged it in and stood to read the rest of it.  Reading Clark is like a master class for plot, tension, and dialogue.  Also, her characters are just finely drawn people that leap off the page.

I also read Meg Hafdahl’s Daughters of Darkness, her second book in the Willoughby Chronicles.  It was literally un-putdownable as in, I started reading it, skipped dinner, and finished it waaaaay after my bedtime.

They say that if you want to be a writer, you need to read avidly.  I sometimes lose track of that, but it is true.  After reading Meg’s book, I couldn’t sleep and ended up doing some more writing. 🙂

Writing Life: Steady as it goes …

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: 7/12/19

Soooo many good articles.  Let’s dig in, shall we?

A throwback from The Atlantic that popped into my Internet “suggestions” – the fact that Hollywood doesn’t make movies like “The Fugitive” anymore.  They probably have their reasons (I’ll withhold too much comment about the new Hollywood formula of remaking the hell out of everything), but this piece was a joy to read.  Because I loved “The Fugitive.”  I doubt that I saw it in the theater, but my family probably rented it.  Then rented it again.  And if it showed up on some random movie channel, we’d sit down and watch it again.  Because it is that good.  This line particularly slayed me:  “One of the movie’s more frequently quoted lines, which (Tommy Lee) Jones conjured the morning of the shoot, has him telling a marshal who claims he is ‘thinking’: ‘Well, think me up a cup of coffee and a chocolate donut with some of those little sprinkles on top, while you’re thinking.'”

Here’s a list challenge of “100 Books You May Have Actually Read.”  And it’s a pretty decent list of newer books and classic standbys.  I have read 37/100 books.

Why yes, I’m still a sucker for productivity articles, but this one was really interesting – why you need an untouchable day every week.  Mark it on your calendar, put your smartphone in airplane mode, and lock the office door (literally or figuratively).  I love the idea of what that could do to my productivity and am thinking about actual ways that I could make that a practice in my life, even if it’s a modified version that takes into account my day job and the realities of my family life.  (Somebody’s gotta drop the kids off in the morning and when school starts, my work day won’t be starting until after 9 AM and that drop off.)

I went down a rabbit hole recently looking at so many cake recipes on Smitten Kitchen.  Birthday season’s coming up for my family (we were remarkable at planning it so we have birthdays in July, August, September, and October!).  Our family’s core group of friends (also known as our Urban Family) also have a bunch of birthdays in the summer (one in June and three in July).  So many good reasons to bake cake!

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Watching: For awhile after my cat died, I decided to indulge in some brain candy.  And I came up with this:

Time spent with Hugh Laurie is never a bad thing.

Reading:  I finished two books recently – Layne Fargo’s “Temper” and Ava Black’s “The Bug Jar.”  And holy hell – both of them were stick to your ribs, drill into your psyche good.

Writing Life:  Feeling good. **shhhhhh**

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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Rest easy, old friend

Not so eloquently stated, this week sucked.  I miss my cat.  My husband and I continue to look for him in his familiar spots and have our hearts cracked every day by the little things that follow a great loss.  Not having to worry about food out on the kitchen counters.  Not having to shut doors and having to block entryways.  I bought groceries today and did not have to worry that my feline would find the hamburger and attack it.  And then there are the larger things – that familiar mirp when coming up the stairs or that hip check he’d give when he’d find you in the bathroom.  Eighteen years worth of memories.  People tell me that the cat was lucky that I found him (which is a long story that involves a flexible moral compass, so it’s one that I’m happy to tell in person and not in writing), but to be honest – I was the lucky one.

 

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Friday Fare: 6/21/19

We’re light on the articles of note this week.  There’s been good stuff out there, but it’s been a looooooooonnnnngggggggg week.  Here’s some stuff I’ve read:

Career Authors is the blog that keeps on giving.  Paula Munier had a fabulous “Ten Commandments” for writers.

Marie Claire published a sobering piece about “invisible victims” – Native American women who’ve disappeared without a trace and the effort made by other Native American women to find them.  Heartbreaking.

I have an unabashed girl crush on Taffy Brodesser-Akner (to the extent that I am sad that her debut novel and its book tour won’t be coming to the Midwest.  Dammit!).  I love reading her articles and clicked through nearly every link that GQ posted in their Tweet honoring her debut novel.  (PS – Google search “Taffy Brodesser-Akner Sugar Daddies GQ” – it is worth the click.)

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Listening: I miss David Bowie.  And I usually am fairly “meh” on covers, but this one was not terrible:

Reading:  Reading Layne Fargo’s forthcoming “Temper.”  So very good.

Writing Life:  I had a wonderful time with Rhonda Gilliland earlier this month at the Kahler Grand Hotel (Peacock Books).  We had an event in support of her Cooked To Death anthologies.

I even wore mascara.  And didn’t stab myself in the eye with the wand. #winning

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: 6/7/19

I have a fairly blessed life, but sometimes I need to remind myself that the glass *is* half full.  (Or in my case, that the mug is half full of delicious, delicious coffee.)  I was sending a text to my husband that started off by saying “Next week is going to suck …”, but then I read the next words which were “I have a book signing on Monday” and it hit me.  Damn.  So I changed my note to say that next week is going to be hectic.  Because it will be hectic.  But what a trip it is!

Another random thing that’s making me smile this week is my children’s cake preferences.  On Thursday morning, they “helped” me make some pumpkin cake from a mix.  My eldest kid is not a cake fan, but if you give him any of those quick breads – pumpkin, banana, gingerbread, lemon poppyseed cake/bread <– he’s a happy camper.  Same thing with the youngest (although he’s like me – all treats are good treats.) My husband and I come from a long line of amazing cooks.  Somewhere our grandmas and great-grandmas are smiling down as these standbys are loved and consumed by our children.

Onto the articles of note from this week!

Dana Chamblee Carpenter is a gem of a human.  She wrote The Bohemian Gospel, which is one of my favorite books.  And also the book that introduced me to the Killer Nashville’s Claymore Award.  She was kindness personified when I met her in 2017 down at KN and it was great to see her recognized in The Thrill Begins.

I remember when this song first hit the airwaves.  I love it when Rolling Stone does these “oral history” pieces.

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Listening: I’ve been listening to Spotify on a fairly regular basis for over a year or so.  What I like about streaming music is I’m typically exposed to new-to-me artists.  I was recently introduced to Ian Noe and the guy has a voice that throws me back to folks like John Prine, Fred Neil, or (swoon) Gordon Lightfoot.  He was born in 1990.  And I have tickets to see him at 7th Street Entry in October.  An old soul indeed!

Reading:  I am woefully behind on my reading.

Writing Life:  I am less behind on my writing.  Go me!  And I have a book signing on Monday, June 10th at Peacock Books in the Kahler Grand in downtown Rochester.  I’ll be appearing with Rhonda Gilliland, the editor of the Cooked To Death short story anthologies.  The shindig starts at 4:30 PM and goes until closing time. 

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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Monday Mayhem: 6/3/19

The school year ended on Friday for my first grader.  The next time it rolls around again, I’ll have a boy in second grade and my youngest will be in Kindergarten.   I have parent friends who talk about their favorite years and while I always tell my children that their current year is my favorite year, to be honest – I loved first grade.  It was a joy to see my son’s reading comprehension take OFF and he made some incredible friends.  It’s hard to say if he’ll be friends with these kids for the rest of his life, but for this past year, they did his six-year-old self some good.

The mystery world lost a friend this week.  Sandra Seamans maintained the blog My Little Corner and passed away recently.  Her blog was a clearing house of short story opportunities for writers and she’ll be sorely missed.

Yay or nay: Dill Pickle Pizza.  (I say “yay.”)

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Listening: I needed to hear some Neil Diamond over the weekend.  That is all.

Reading: Huge congrats to a couple of my friends who had recent book launches.

Tracy Clark‘s second book in her Cass Raines series came out this past week.  Publishers Weekly said that her protagonist Cass Raines “… is a worthy addition to the pantheon of Chicago sleuths.” <– Yup.

Writing Life: Work + kid activities + ailing / aged Cat = not a lot of time to devote to craft.  But this week is a new week and my family will be settling into a new routine, so I’m hopeful for more edits and time.

Miscellany: This pretty much sums up my life in a nutshell:

– Shelley

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Monday Mayhem is what happens when I neglect to write a Friday Fare. Or it can be any kind of article that happens to be published on a Monday.  I hope that it provides a great start to your week!

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Friday Fare: 5/24/19

Longform articles sing to my soul.  This piece from GQ is no exception.

Working in the age of distraction … well, ain’t that the truth.  Freedom, a productivity app, featured a recent blog post by one of my favorite writers J.T. Ellison about her working habits.  Some good food for thought.

Seth Rogen is apparently my spirit animal (and I’ve been reading a lot of content from GQ lately.  See also their piece on Keanu Reeves).  Here’s what spoke to me in reading this: Still, spend a little time in his company, talking about his life, and certain patterns start to emerge, themes and lessons recurring with enough frequency that they can be isolated for general distribution: Work harder than everyone else. Find a mentor, or at least some encouragement. Cultivate enduring relationships. Grow gradually. Beware hubris. Never be their biggest problem. Be in control of your own work (where possible). Always have something else going on.

Loved this piece on Danielle Steele.

A couple of my Sisters in Crime from Chicago helped induct our organization’s youngest member.  Read this piece in the Chicago Sun Times about Azka Sharief and her podcast! (And big love and shout outs to Lori Rader-Day, Susanna Calkins, and Mia P. Manansala for their part of this story!)

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Listening: My husband and I got a rare date night this week.  Technically, we saw both Steve Martin and Martin Short; but when I think about Steve Martin, here’s what my brain comes up with:

And I guess when I think about Martin Short, here’s what my brain supplies:

Reading:  Read Steve Berry’s The Malta Exchange.  Interesting – book 14 of his Cotton Malone series.  I liked it well enough (I lived in Malta for six months when I was in college, so it was fun to see some places I’ve visited featured in fiction), but unlike my love affair with A.X. Pendergast, I don’t feel a need to go binge read the other ones.

Writing Life: 

– 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: 5/17/19

Apparently Gen X is a mess (and I’m supposedly an Xennial?  WTF *is* that?).  This was an interesting look of allll the things I remember from my childhood / teenage years.

HBR had an interesting piece on what to do when work is slow.  (And I think when I originally bookmarked it, work *was* slow.  At least that one day.)  But this is good and I feel like this is something I can use for my creative life as well as my professional life.

This is old news, but Meghan Markle and Prince Harry had their baby.  And they gave him the most deliciously adorable name. Long live Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor!

My husband and I had a beloved friend over for dinner the other night.  Our friend is effortlessly cool, loves our little hellions, and is just one of those people that I want to be when I finally grow up.  Anyway – chicken was on the menu, salad, and good crusty bread.  And these lemon bars for dessert.  Half Baked Harvest is a gem on the Internet when it comes to effortlessly delicious recipes.

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Listening: Bless Garth Brooks and his insistence that the late Keith Whitley be immortalized in the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Whitley’s voice is incomparable and it’s touching that 30 years after his death, people still recognize him for the talent that he was.

Reading:  I got to wish a happy book birthday to my dear friend Jeffrey D. Briggs for “Out of the Cold Dark Sea.” I obviously have *my* copy.  I also got a copy of my friend Meg Hafdahl‘s “Daughters of Darkness.”  Man … so many books to read!

Writing Life: This week has been allllll about recovery from last weekend’s Wordplay literary conference.  You can read my recap here.  Work is ramping up and I’ve been trying to catch up on all the things, but as you can imagine – a weekend spent in the company of a bunch of amazing writers and people who love books?  It’s the shot in the arm I needed to get some stuff done.

– 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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Recap: The Loft’s Wordplay (May 11-12, 2019)

On May 11 & 12th, The Loft Literary Center hosted its inaugural Wordplay literary conference in downtown Minneapolis.  Billed as “Minnesota’s largest celebration of readers, writers, and good books”, the conference certainly lived up to its hype – hosting The Rock Bottom Remainders on Friday at the iconic First Avenue and featuring a megawatt list of authors throughout the weekend.  I was in attendance in my capacity as a board member for the Mystery Writers of America – Midwest Chapter (MWA-Midwest).

I think that I’m recovered (think is the key word there) and just wanted to give a rundown of some of the high points from my weekend.  I’m not even going to bury the lede:  I freaking met Stephen King.  *The* King.  My childhood writing hero.  And no mom, I didn’t pee my pants.  And although I’m not sure – I think I was coherent?

I think it’s fitting that I’m clutching a coffee cup as I’m meeting my hero. To the right of the picture is the wonderful Rachel Howzell Hall.

So, meeting Stephen King (and getting him to sign my much loved copy of Salem’s Lot) was pretty freaking special, but I got to hang out with two other luminaries from the mystery world: Rachel Howzell Hall and Hank Phillipi Ryan.  These ladies!  They didn’t even bat an eye when I brushed about three years worth of Goldfish crumbs out of the backseat of my mommobile and drove them to their hotel later that night.

Other highlights:

BOOK LOVE: I was incredibly proud of my friend (and local author) Meg Hafdahl.  Meg was chosen by The Loft was one of the Exhibitors for the weekend and she KILLED it in book sales.  I also got to crash with Meg and her writing partner Kelly Florence and will always be grateful for our solidarity and need for takeout, silence, and bad literary movie adaptations after Day 1 of the conference.

MERCH: The last day of the conference coincided with Mother’s Day, which kinda sucked?  (I’m of a couple different minds – I don’t like the commercialization of it, I am mindful of my dear friends who have a hard time with this day, but damn do I love the preschool / homemade art crafts that my kidlets bring home to me!  And the snuggles!)  So, I took advantage of that “excuse” and a kind exhibitor’s discount from Odin & Osgar to get myself a couple book-related gifts.  (See the Book Nerd t-shirt in the graphic above.)  These guys are funny and local.  (And size-inclusive … I’m a plus-sized lady, so it’s nice to get a shirt that actually fits me!)

SHENANIGANS: MWA-Midwest had a booth that was right in the shadow of the US Bank Stadium and almost adjacent to the stage where Stephen King gave Saturday morning’s keynote speech.  Our booth neighbor to the left was South Dakota author Phyllis Cole-Dai.  I do sincerely wish that our paths will cross again.  It was great to meet her and Ruby R. Wilson (co-editor of their shared poetry book: Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems).

The MWA-Midwest booth featured signings by several of our Minnesota authors: Jessie Chandler, Priscilla Paton, Christine Husom, Jimmy Olsen, Michael A. Black, Terri Karsten, and Rob Jung.

On Sunday, a group of MWA-MW’s authors participated in a panel on the Target Stage called “Mysterious Minnesota.”  Luckily for me, our chapter president Heather Ash did all the work, I just got to hang out and take pictures of my friends and peers’ faces up on the big screen.

From top L: Heather Ash, C.M. Surrisi, Allen Eskens. Directly below Ash – our panelists on stage. Bottom row from left: David Housewright, Mindy Mejia, and another picture of our panelists.

It was wonderful. It was a lot.  I was glad to get home on Sunday night and have been drinking coffee by the pot since then in trying to regain some of my energy, but I was happy to be part of the experience.

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Friday Fare, where?

Don’t get me wrong … the Interwebs were RIFE with content this week, but I’m in the midst of preparing for this weekend’s Wordplay conference up in Minneapolis!

I’ll be hanging out and representing Mystery Writers of America-Midwest Chapter in booth C7 this weekend!

Happy Friday!