Accountability Monday: How Far Behind Am I? (Do I Really Want To Know?)

Well – technically, I’m two/three chapters behind schedule, but considering that six of those chapters in the image above have “(New)” behind them, I’m going to give myself a little grace and maybe an extra shot of Bailey’s in my morning coffee.  (Kidding on the Bailey’s part … or am I?)

Things are going well.  I need to kick some arse this week if I’m going to hit my goal for July 18th and I’m not entirely sure if I’m going to do it.  (See the sentence above where I talk about the “new” chapters that I’ve been adding.)  But, I’m feeling good about the journey.

Happy Monday!


Friday Fare: 7/6/18

Crustless blueberry pie. Get in mah belly.

I’ve been loving the “Overlooked” feature on the New York TimesThis one was an in-depth look at a woman called Grandma Gatewood.

My brother used to ride in the rodeo.  Because he was crazy.  (Maybe still is, but aren’t we all?)  This was a fascinating piece about “the Jackie Robinson of rodeo riders.”

A good primer on using Twitter as a writer.


Listening: This video combines two favorites, Gregory Alan Isakov and the music of Iron and Wine.

Reading: My TBR pile is a pretty ridiculous mess of riches and it’s hard to know what to read next sometimes.  I recently spent a weekend with my family down in Iowa and grabbed Jess Lourey’s “Salem’s Cipher.”  WOW.  I’m going to be sad when this one is over.  So good news for me that the sequel “Mercy’s Chase” is coming out in September!

Writing Life: I’ve started something new on the blog called “Accountability Mondays.”  Basically, I have an ambitious plan to get through the rest of my rewrite of “Dragonfly” by the time I head to Denver for the Romance Writers of America conference on July 18th. WILL I MAKE IT?  I’m already two chapters behind, but I’m feeling hopeful.

– 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.


Accountability Monday: July 2, 2018

According to my editorial calendar, I should be editing chapters 30 through 34 this week.  Aaaaaand I’m on chapter 28.  But … I’m feeling good, feeling like I’m making decent progress (and still learning new things about my characters.  Which – friends … could you have made these reveals earlier in this process?  No?  Alrighty then.)

Have a good week friends!


Accountability Monday: Editorial Calendars for DAYS

The picture is fairly self-explanatory, but the gist is that I’m going to Denver on July 18th.  I want to have the latest round of Dragonfly edits done by then (with time to go back and read through the MS in its entirety so I can make sure that there are some plot points that are gelling / arc-ing well).  And since you have to plan your work and work your plan, I tore out a couple pages from one of my calendars and split up the 14 remaining chapters over the next three weeks.

Is this possible?  Absolutely.  One challenge is that my dear friend and co-worker is going on vacation during this timeframe and that I’ll be taking on some of her workload while she’s gone.  The other challenge is life itself … me sketching out a plan seems to cue my children that it’s time to start vomiting and acquire sleep-shattering ear infections, but … plan your work, work your plan.  Books don’t edit themselves and I can’t dream of publication unless I’m willing to put in the work.


Incidentally, I’m going to be attending the Romance Writers of America annual conference from July 18th to the 21st.  If you’re in Denver and attending the conference, I’d love to meet up with you!  I’ll be the bespectacled mystery writer belting out “Rocky Mountain High” in the hotel bar.


Friday Fare: 6/22/18

It’s not like I’ve been on vacation, per se – although I recently enjoyed a road trip with my beloveds in Wisconsin, as well as an impromptu wedding in Iowa (I don’t know if the wedding was impromptu, but my role as the officiant was a last minute add.)  But June’s been a silent month for me on the Interwebs.  But since the last time we talked, my eldest finished his first year of school and summer has started in full force with the smells of sunblock and bug spray, ice cream to eat, and the elements that make a Midwestern summer one of the best times of year.  (And that’s even with humidity and mosquitoes.)  As my kids get older, I find myself thinking about my own summers as a kid and although I’ll never recreate those lazy days on the farm that I had, it’s fun to make different memories with my children.  This summer has been a good one.  (<– Which, given the state of the world right now, it hurts a bit to type those words.  #familiesbelongtogether )

Work is now picking up again.  I didn’t take advantage of the break as much as I should have, although my personal score for Dr. Mario improved immensely.

The writing is going well.  I’ve established a July deadline for edits with Dragonfly.

Don’t forget to put on sunscreen. Stay hydrated.  Check for ticks.

Much love,



Friday Fare: 5/25/18

A long weekend is looming, friends!  I was telling my husband that I wished that I was going on some sort of road trip or plotting some sort of adventure, but to be honest – I’ve made a list and it includes things like “nap” and “drink coffee on the deck with my husband.”  (I also want to basically smell like sunblock all weekend and check out some of the area parks with my kiddos, so maybe I am adventuring, just in a parent-friendly way.)

Let’s get into some links, shall we?

So, I love Dave Grohl.  Not as much as my childhood best friend loves Dave Grohl (I used to send her flowers and I’d sign them from Dave G. And she’d send me flowers and sign them from Flea [bassist from the Red Hot Chili Peppers].  We were odd.  And single.)  This was a great piece from British GQ.

Some days you’re the fox, some days you’re the eagle.  Just don’t be the bunny.

Good Times was probably one of my favorite albums of 2016.  Mike Nesmith and Micky Dolenz are on tour this year.  I have mixed feelings about this, partly because I saw Dolenz last summer and was a little underwhelmed. (Although the man has amazing stories.)

I got to listen to Michael Kortya at Murder & Mayhem Chicago this spring.  His new book “How It Happened” is out and it was influenced by the missing persons / subsequent murder case of Jill Behrman and how it haunted him throughout his writing life.  This was a great essay Kortya wrote in the Indianapolis Monthly.  This line especially resonated with me:

“When I was struggling to write this essay, a friend asked me a wonderful question: What would you want Jill to know?

I would want her to know that people she never even met still think of her. That she is remembered by her community, and mourned by it.

Maybe that doesn’t matter, but I hope it does.”


Listening: I posted a (not-so-secret) nerd alert to my Instagram this week:

Reading: Still reading Emily’s anthology featuring novellas inspired by “Beauty and the Beast.”  Also working my way through Jason Matthew’s “Red Sparrow.”

Writing Life: My professional (the work that pays me) life has finally relented with its crazy deadlines.  I spent a week doing not a lot of anything (um … hi, Dr. Mario), but I also printed out the last half of “Dragonfly” and have been trying to work through one chapter of edits a day.  And it feels good, but kind of weird at the same time.  I am the person who is getting in the way of my progress and ambition and I need to reverse that course of direction.  (And that’s in all the things of my life, from fitness to motherhood … let’s not even talk about the fact that the soap dispenser in the master bathroom needs to be refilled and has needed a refill for about two weeks.)

Related to my writing life, but a different facet – I’ve been learning more stuff about the “business” end of writing, learning about taxes for creative types from Mindy Mejia.  I also went to a seminar about building a business plan that was presented by Springboard for the Arts, a Minnesota nonprofit that “offers resources, workshops and toolkits for artists of all disciplines to thrive, and for communities to connect to artists.


Have a great weekend.  Eat popsicles if that’s your thing.  Make sure you remember sunblock and bug spray if you’re adventuring in the great outdoors.  Read some books and remember to stay hydrated!

– 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.


Friday Fare: 5/18/18

In a world where you can be anything, always be yourself.  Unless you can be Batman – or have one of the Batmans give your college’s commencement address.

Want to wear socks like the Pope’s?  Apparently this is a thing and possible.

Vanity Fair had an interesting first-person narrative about one woman’s adventure with a “magician of Manhattan.”

Fried. Bologna. Sandwiches.  I want to go there.

And in the social media world, I just want to say that my cat is eons cooler than I am?  Witness that the fiddle player from Old Crow Medicine Show liked one of my Instagram posts.  Was it of my adorable kids?  My writing world?  My love of craft beer?  No – he loved the picture of my feline. (Because my cat is rather adorable.)


Listening: The past couple of weeks have been long and rather emotional.  I’ve had this song on near constant repeat in my car.

The following lyric has meant a lot to me: “What became of you girl, what became of me? / She said / I had good fortune / Silver silk and wool /
I gave them all away and now my heart is full…”

Reading: Finished Thomas Harris’s “Silence of the Lambs.”  And damn.  There’s a reason why that book is a classic.  Reading “Red Sparrow” by Jason Matthews.  And the love story between the two protagonists is coming into focus, because the adage is true – books are usually better than the movies made out of them.  Also, my dear friend Emily is published in an anthology that features novellas inspired by “Beauty and the Beast.”  So proud of my friend and loving her story!

Writing Life: Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard.  Or more precisely – butt in chair at my local Panera Bread and my hands clutching an ink pen while I hammer away at edits.  Sometimes old school is OK.  Especially when you just need to get the job done.

– 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.

Friday Fare

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday Fare: 5/4/18

What is Friday Fare? As a recap, on Fridays I post link love to the various bits of arcane shiz I discover on the Interwebs.  I liken it to a glimpse into my mind, but without the 80s song lyrics or mental cobwebs.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

– Shelley


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Friday Fare: 4/27/18

What is Friday Fare? As a recap, on Fridays I post link love to the various bits of arcane shiz I discover on the Interwebs.  I liken it to a glimpse into my mind, but without the 80s song lyrics or mental cobwebs.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Be well.

– Shelley