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Friday Fare: 11/15/19

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

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

Another week, another piece about Carrie Fisher.

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

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

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

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

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

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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: 11/8/19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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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Bouchercon 2019: Back home with a full heart and head

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

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

Happy Monday!

– Shelley

 

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

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Friday Fare: 10/25/19

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writing Life: Getting ready for Bouchercon and trying to balance work deadlines with personal ones!
– Shelley

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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: 10/18/19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Shelley

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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: 10/4/19

Fall has settled in my corner of the Midwest with a (very rainy) vengeance.  Seriously, the end of September had STICKY HOT weather and as soon as the calendar turned to October, it got cold and it started to rain.  But I love sweater weather, so this kind of weather sings to my soul.

First and foremost – huge congrats to my dear friend and mentor Jerry Johnson.  His latest collection of essays and work is gathered into A View from the North Country and is available for purchase.  I cannot wait to read it and feel blessed that I will get a copy hand-delivered to me (and that said delivery will be accompanied by lunch and beer with the author.)

What was the best children’s book from the year that you were born?

This was a fascinating deep dive into a murder investigation in Texas from the 1980s.  It’s a long read, but a good one.

Sheryl Crow is one of the big voices from my childhood and it was cool to see an article about her and to hear that she has a new album out.

The Washington Post ran an article a few weeks back about a small town in western Minnesota called Worthington.  One of the main characters in the piece was a bus driver named Don Brink and what he had to say about the immigrant children on his bus route was heartbreaking and infuriating.  One woman in the Twin Cities has decided to combat hate with action and has set up a GoFundMe to help unaccompanied children in Worthington.  In a world where there’s a lot of hate, it’s inspiring to see someone combat ignorance with love.

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Watching: I re-started watching Vikings this week. And while I was about to write, I’m not entirely sure why, I do know why … there’s a Skarsgard in the series and I do love those Swedes.

Reading:  Still working through King by David S. Faldet.  I’m also reading Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before. Aaannnndd Rob Hart’s smash The Warehouse showed up in my library holds.  So … yeah.  There are a lot of things I’m trying to get through right now.

Writing Life:  Steady as she goes …

One thing that’s happening right now that I’m involved with and super psyched to be part of is that submissions for MWA-Midwest’s Hugh Holton Award is open now through October 15th.  I won the Hugh Holton in 2015 and as part of my “pay it back” as a MWA-Midwest board member is helping coordinate this program.  If you’re an unpublished mystery writer, click on the link and get your submission in!

I don’t know if you all are pumpkin spice kind of people, but drink whatever hot beverage makes your soul happy and remember to be kind to the people that you meet.  Happy October, friends!

– 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: 9/20/19

There was an interesting bit of scuttlebutt on the #writingcommunity of Twitter this week in reference to a Medium piece published by an author who (basically) squandered thousands of dollars in advance money.  There was a lot of snark, a lot of “how could you?”, much “well, this is what I did”, and a couple decent think pieces which dug deeper into the complex world of publishing, author finances, etc.  Rob Hart is the wildly successful author of the recent book “The Warehouse.”  His career has run the gamut of small and large presses, co-authoring, etc., and he has some fairly concrete advice for authors.  His blog post links to a (TOTALLY NSFW) piece from Chuck Wendig.  Wendig’s another author who has a varied writing career and if you want to laugh about the “tomfuckery” (Hart’s word) of the publishing world while holding back tears about those same shenanigans, read yourself some Chuck Wendig.

Revisions are the key to success, so dammit – I’m going to be GOLDEN someday.  But seriously … I appreciate Jessica Faust and her crew’s insights into the publishing world.  They’re a wealth of knowledge for writers.

Finally, as a huge Sean Bean fan, this article gave me a giggle.

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Watching: I had a chance to go to It: Chapter Two this past weekend in the movie theater from my childhood:

I liked the symmetry of sitting in the movie theater I spent so much time (and money) in as a kid and as a young adult, fast-forwarding to my 40s and watching a movie about oaths and friendships.  Sixteen-year-old me would be pretty pleased with my 41-year-old self.

Reading:  My senior paper adviser from my alma mater has his debut fiction novel out: King by David S. Faldet.  I’ve been working my way through that this week and am enjoying it.  It’s always interesting to read books that are set in an area I’m familiar with.

Writing Life:  I’ve had a couple awesome writerly things happen recently.  First off, coffee with my good friend and horror writer Meg Hafdahl.  It’s always good to hang out with peers.  And finally, I’m a proud member of Sisters in Crime and have been benefiting from a new education initiative that SinC is offering to its members – a number of webinars with various industry experts talking about different facets of a writing craft and career.  This week’s presentation was about being a productive writer by Dana Kaye.  There was some good food for thought in Ms. Kaye’s presentation.

– 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: 9/13/19

I’ve had a lot of good article bookmarked lately.  Let’s dig in:

What did women’s blue jeans look like the year you were born?  My daily uniform is basically jeans and a T-shirt, so this was AWESOME.  I went past my birth year and took a look at all of the fashion trends that I’ve lived through.

Stephen King has outlived most of his harshest critics.  Right on, man.  (Incidentally, I’m hoping to make it to see IT Part 2 this weekend.  Grateful for this man who has been scaring me for decades!  Also, puts his newest book “The Institute” on hold.)

The making and the movement of the newest supergroup to come out of Nashville.  (Also see Listening below.)

Here’s another movie that I want to see – Tom Hanks playing Mister Rogers.  I’m going to be bringing tissues.

Signs that you are an extroverted introvert.  As they say on the Internet … I feel seen.

A letter from a six-year-old convinced the maker of plastic toy soldiers to make female soldiers.  Right. On.  (And buy me a couple packages for my nieces.)

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Listening: I’ve been a little obsessed with a new supergroup that’s come out of Nashville.

The Highwomen are a nod to the supergroup The Highwaymen that was formed in the 1980s, but they are doing it their way and it is wonderful.  This is an album that I’m going to buy and put on continuous repeat.

Reading:  Finished Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living by Elizabeth Willard Thames.  I’ve been a longtime reader of the Frugalwoods blog and the book was similarly enjoyable and a fairly fast (and informative) read.

Writing Life:  Work has been a little hectic this week, but I had a couple creative opportunities that I’ve taken advantage of.  First off was attending the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime meeting earlier this week where I got to see Jessie Chandler and Terri Bischoff talk about the love/hate relationships between authors and editors.  (Sherry Roberts also read an excerpt from her upcoming novel “Crow Calling.”  I prefer suspense to cozy mysteries, but I adore her Maya Skye series.)

I’m also getting super excited about the upcoming Bouchercon 2019 in Dallas, Texas!

– 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: 9/6/19

My children are back in school.  Thank you Lord.

Prior to returning to school, my kids had a couple extra days off.  As I am the more permissive parent, they played too many video games, ate way too much crappy food (we found something at Chuck E Cheese called “unicorn churros” and it was about as disgustingly delightful as it sounds), but all and all had a great time.  I took some time off and ended up going on a canning and pickling binge.  I’ve said this before – canning, baking, making jam – it makes me feel closer to my grandmas.  It makes me feel like I’m honoring their memories by bringing back some slow foods and taking the time to subject endless glass jars to water baths and cheering when I hear the snick of a properly sealed jar. (Or, let’s be honest, I freaking love eating pickles and sometimes I find myself wondering – can I pickle that?  And lo and behold, most of the time I can and it’s wonderful.)

These are the recipes I’ve been using this summer to preserve the bounty that I’ve stolen out of my mom’s garden (and off of my aunt’s apple tree):

Easy Fridge Dills – Smitten Kitchen is my absolute go-to for almost every recipe.  Deb Perelman is a domestic freaking goddess.

Pickled Cherry Tomatoes – This was a total pipe dream, but The Kitchn made it happen.

– Refrigerator Sweet Pickles – My mom sent me this recipe via text in a picture she took of a note that one of her friends gave her.  <– That’s when you know a recipe is legit.  What’s funny is that I’m really the only person in my family who eats sweet pickles, so those six cups of thinly sliced cukes?  Those are allllllll mine.

Spicy Pickled Green Beans – I made a couple jars of these and made one that I did not process in a water bath.  My friends and I launched into that jar and man … good stuff.  Makes me think that the properly canned version is going to be uh-maz-ing.

Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce – made it for my kids.  They didn’t like it.  Le sigh.  Anyway … made it according to recipe, blitzed it using an immersion blender and then processed in a water bath for 20 minutes.

Salsa – This has been my go-to recipe for 5+ years.  But pro tip … seed your jalapeno peppers (or any peppers) using gloves.  Otherwise, the oils from the damn peppers will burn the sh*t out of your hands.  (You’d have thought I’d have learned that lesson many years ago, but no – I’m a freaking idiot.)

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Listening: Joyann Parker … you’re welcome.  She’s a Twin Cities-based blues musician and I sincerely hope that she hits it big in the somewhat near future.  This VOICE.

 

Reading:  Finished Glensheen’s Daughter by Sharon Darby Hendry.

Writing Life:  The kids are back in school.  I’m hoping that this means a little bit more time in my future for creative work. 🙂

– 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: 8/30/19

This is the last full week before my kids head to school.  My eldest is in second grade while the youngest heads to Kindergarten.  I’m not sad that they are growing up, but they’ve been in a wonderful summer program and I’m going to miss those folks.

Neil Young is a cantankerous treasure, isn’t he?  This was a fascinating article about the man, his process, and a few other interesting flights of thought.

This picture of three Italian grandmas holding migrant children in their laps restores some of my faith in humanity.

I’ve talked about my love of Olivia Colman, haven’t I?  (If I haven’t, find the BBC’s show “The Night Manager” and watch her in all of her glory.  She is wondrous.)  I know that I’ve talked about my love of the Royal Family and so I’m psyched to see these pictures of Colman and Helena Bonham Carter in the upcoming season of Netflix’s “The Crown.”

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Listening: Tanya Tucker … grateful that she’s still on this planet and grateful that she’s still making music.

Reading:  Still reading Glensheen’s Daughter by Sharon Darby Hendry.  Still.  Finished J.D. Horn‘s “The King of Bones and Ashes” the first book of his “Witches of New Orleans” series.  So good.

Writing Life:  Ooof – I barely survived girls’ weekend.  (And am still recovering two weeks later?)  But it was productive and challenging.

I am looking forward to a long weekend.  I think pickling green beans is in my future.  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.