Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random, Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 7/29/16

Friday FareFriday Fare is where I post links to the random articles that have resonated with me during the week. Sometimes they make me smarter, sometimes they make me hungry … sometimes they have to do with writing and sometimes they are just plain random.

I was at an actual fair this past weekend and to my surprise and shock, I discovered that I really, really, really, really like truck pulls / rallies.  Seriously enjoyable.

I’ve adored Walton Goggins since he played Shane Vendrell in “The Shield.”  Recent projects have earned him some well deserved accolades and seriously – he always gives a good interview.

The Kitchn is one of my favorite food aggregators and they recently started a series where they ask authors to name their favorite midnight snacks.  (I typically aim for sleep at the midnight hour, but if I’m awake and writing, hand over the dry Cheerios and no one gets hurt.)

File this under “GET IN MAH BELLY” – rosé gummy bears.  Seriously. How cool is this?

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Listening to: I’ve spent some time in my hometown lately and although he hails from Kentucky, Sturgill Simpson always seems to be an appropriate listen.  This song in particular.

Reading:  Eh … my TBR pile is kind of ridiculous and unmanageable right now.

Fiction Update:  PROGRESS!  GOOD PROGRESS!

Enjoy the weekend!

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Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random, Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 6/17/16

Friday FareFriday Fare is where I post links to the random articles that have resonated with me during the week. Sometimes they make me smarter, sometimes they make me hungry … sometimes they have to do with writing and sometimes they are just plain random.

This was an interesting article from the interwebs: The 22 rules of storytelling by Pixar.  My kids aren’t quite into Pixar yet, but I’ve appreciated what I’ve watched so far …

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is probably one of my favorite movies from my childhood.  While most of my contemporaries probably had a crush on Matthew Broderick’s Ferris, I was more about Alan Ruck’s “Cameron.”  And Jennifer Grey?  Pre-“Baby”?  Flawless.
And I originally emailed this piece to myself because I wanted to read the books Janet Reid recommended, but I liked the gist of this blog post all the same.  (Basically, the writer asked Ms. Reid about “overdone storylines” [ahem – vampires].  Given that I like to dabble in the paranormal, this was good advice to take to heart – write the story, give the convention your own twist.)

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Listening to: The world’s been a heartbreaking place lately.  Whether intentional or not, my YouTube choices seem to reflect that.

Reading: In no particular order: “The Black Hour” by Lori Rader-Day (current prez of Mystery Writers of America – Midwest and all around awesome person); “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger (I’m in a Facebook Book Club organized by a former co-worker of mine – we’re re-reading all of the high school / college classics); “Reliquary” by Douglas Preston / Lincoln Child. <– Why yes … that’s a Pendergast novel.  Now that I’ve binge read through them, it’s time to try to figure out what was so addictive about their narratives and re-discover pieces that I missed.

Fiction Update: Edits, edits, edits. I took some time this week to do a really high-level read through of what I have so far, noted parts that are missing or need some fleshing out, and am re-writing what is the midpoint of “AL.”  That’s taking some spade work, but I’m enjoying the process.

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random, Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 6/10/16

Friday FareFriday Fare is where I post links to the random articles that have resonated with me during the week. Sometimes they make me smarter, sometimes they make me hungry … sometimes they have to do with writing and sometimes they are just plain random.

Sorry for being MIA last week.  Work has been a little crazy lately and I was in the process of getting ready to go on a west central Minnesota roadtrip.

foxhole
And hooray! Bonus that the roadtrip involved a trip to a new microbrewery in Willmar, Minn. The beer here is fiercely good!

Here’s what’s good on the Internet:

Kris Kristofferson.  This piece by the Rolling Stone was a great read.

I read this article from Outside Online about Kay Grayson, known as “the Bear Lady.”  What I liked about this piece was the deep dive the journalist made into this woman’s life and the sense that I couldn’t put this article down when I started reading it.  A very compelling piece of work.

Another piece that came out in April from MPR News.  A goofy read.

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Listening to: I got a chance to take a deep listen to the new Monkees disc while I was on my roadtrip last weekend.  And it was really good.  Most of the album is posted on YouTube and it’s a solid listen.  (In no particular order, my favorite tracks are “Me & Magdalena,” “Birth of an Accidental Hipster,” and the title track “Good Times.”)

Reading: Yeeeeeah … I kinda burned through of almost all of Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston’s “Pendergast” novels.  (There are 15, and the latest one has a 16-deep wait list at the library, so it’s probably good for my eyes that I can’t access the last one just now.)  And honestly, I learned a lot about pacing from the “Pendergast” books, so I think I’m going to back up and read them again.  I also finished Dana Chamblee Carpenter’s “Bohemian Gospel,” a historical mystery that I similarly couldn’t put down.  I wasn’t 100% thrilled with the ending, but it was the ending that belonged to the story.  I have a sense that this one is going to stay with me for awhile, the story was haunting and the details were just sumptuous.

Fiction Update: One of the best parts about being away for the last weekend was the opportunity to get some uninterrupted time working on “AL.”  I didn’t get as far as I wanted, but considering I was in the town that originally inspired the setting for my book, I had a wonderful weekend of soaking in some of the details that I look forward to bringing to life in my story.

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random, Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 5/27/16

Friday FareFriday Fare is where I post links to the random articles that have resonated with me during the week. Sometimes they make me smarter, sometimes they make me hungry … sometimes they have to do with writing and sometimes they are just plain random.

First and foremost, I get to have lunch with this guy today.  I’m lucky to have this writer as one of my mentors.

I’m not a huge Johnny Depp fan, but came across this 2013 article whilst clicking around the internet.  I share this article because of this line:  “Says Depp, ‘I thought if I had just got out of the pokey after 18 years, I’d want some fucking Tater Tots, man. I’d want some tacos. Give me some deeply trashy food.'” I can dig the concept of “deeply trashy food.”

Dung beetles.  Just ’cause.

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Listening to: As always, I’m late to most musical games.  Iron and Wine is no exception and admittedly, I found them through the original “Twilight” soundtrack.  But I found the first public performance of “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” and I’m not going to lie – I listened to it three times in a row while sipping coffee on a recent morning.  Absolute chills.  (Bonus content:  This NPR Tiny Desk Concert performance is also pretty awesome.)

Reading: Still hovering at 75% through Stephen King’s “IT.”  I made it through Book 5 in Lincoln Child/Douglas Preston’s Pendergast series before I was put on the wait list for the next one.  Probably better for my social life and my eyes.

Fiction Update: I got to spend some hours last Saturday in the Stillwater Public Library working on “AL.”  I’m slogging my way through some original content that is just taking time to generate, but it’s good.  I’ve also been trying to change up my writing routine to get an hour in before my kids wake up.  It’s all about constant progress.

Have a good weekend! xo

Editing, Fiction, Process

Adventures in Editing: Clunk.

_AdventuresinEditingAfter several years of toiling, I finished a SFD draft of After Life (AL) in July 2015.  I let it set on the back burner until March 2016 and am editing in earnest.  Adventures in Editing is an occasional feature that chronicles the travails of trying to bring a bunch of muddle into a more cohesive draft.  Thanks for reading!

I think the following picture tells a pretty decent story:

clunkAs my mentor mentioned in my earlier “Adventures” post, reading your draft out loud is an effective way to catch any parts of your story that are … well, clunky.  As I read through my draft of AL to see how the story flowed together, I marked the sentences / sections that were clunky upon reading them out loud.

Still don’t believe me?  Check out what the experts say in the hyperlinks.

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random, Uncategorized

Friday Fare: Hello April!

Friday FareFriday Fare is where I post links to the random articles that have resonated with me during the week. Sometimes they make me smarter, sometimes they make me hungry … sometimes they have to do with writing and sometimes they are just plain random.

The Interwebs were just plain kind this week with entertainment:

This advice from the creator of Calvin and Hobbes was much appreciated.

I’d watch Meryl Streep read children’s books, it’s no surprise that I devoured this article from Vanity Fair about her experience making “Kramer vs. Kramer.”  I am also once again reminded that I need to re-watch some of the classics from the 1970s.

Lemon Cream Cake.  Because … well, cake!

Finally, another beautiful post from Jerry, my mentor.

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Listening to: This mashup of classic movie clips and Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk … glorious.

Reading: My reading has been a little crazy lately.  I’ve been digging into some books for research purposes.  Also been reading to see how some of the “masters” pull of particular concepts in their fiction.  (My fellow Minnesotan Jess Lourey recently wrote a post on how to read like a writer … very helpful!)

Fiction Update: I encapsulated the kickoff of edits to “After Life” (AL) in this post.  Edits are ongoing, I’ve identified what I need to work on during the next round of writing and am preparing for a chunk of time on Sunday when I can hopefully dig in and make some meaningful progress to start off my actual editing work.

Happy weekend, friends!

Editing, Fiction, Process

Adventures in Editing: In One Sitting

_AdventuresinEditingA little back story, after several years of toiling, I finished a SFD draft of After Life (AL) in July 2015.  I let it set on the back burner until March 2016 and have started the process of editing in earnest.  Adventures in Editing is an occasional feature that chronicles the travails of trying to bring a bunch of muddle into a more cohesive draft.  Thanks for reading!

I do believe in the adage that to write is to be a constant student of the craft.  I see this as I discover new writers or glean some nugget of information in the writing blogs that I peruse.  However, while all things can be good in moderation, I have found that too much information causes creative paralysis.  I rediscovered this as I started thinking about how I was going to approach the editing process on AL.  My current draft is hovering around a chunky 113k mark.  I feel OK about the beginning, I’m a little meh about the ending – it’s there, but it needs some loving, and the middle?  Uff da – don’t get me started on the middle.  There’s good stuff there, but there’s flab.  Oh sweet Lord, there’s flab.

But as I’ve purchased my red pens and have mentally been gearing up for the editing process, I found myself paralyzed.  First and foremost – do I have the tools to accomplish my goal?  This goes beyond red pens and Post-It notes.  Do I have the knowledge to bring draft one to a better second draft?  That question tends to paralyze me.  It’s not only do I have the knowledge, it’s also a question of efficiency.  Gestating a book and getting it ready to send it off into the world takes time, but do I approach the editing process correctly?  Are there things that I should be considering as I read my draft that I don’t know about?  Should I take a(nother) class where I learn more about the editing process?

There was one concept in particular that kept me procrastinating on the start of my current round of edits.  Somewhere along my journey, I read you should read your draft from stem to stern in one sitting at the beginning of the editing process.

I don’t disagree with this concept and I think that the intent behind this is so that thoughts and perceptions remain fresh in the author’s mind and that any mental progress isn’t interrupted by having to read your draft in several different sittings.

And I really, really tried to do this with my latest draft of AL.  I did.  So how long did it take me?  Four days.  So do I think that my novel is now doomed because I wasn’t able to follow the advice of the experts?  Nah.  I think in my dream world, I’d have endless amounts of time to chase my dreams of fiction and publication.  But in my real world, the world that fills me with ideas and introduces me to potential characters and … well, pays the bills … it took me four days to read my draft and rediscover my old friend Kate and her father Simon.  I realized that there were a couple extraneous characters that could be jettisoned.  I saw plot threads that were started and then fizzled out.  I got what I needed.  And now I’m crafting my action plan to go forward.

So the moral of the story?  I’m learning to cut through the noise and I’m finding what works for me on this creative journey.

I’ll leave you with the following thought. I came across this status update in November on Facebook from Louise Penny.  I liked this … this encapsulates my hopes as I hop from a shitty first draft to my second draft and beyond: “Started the second draft of the next book yesterday. The first few chapters are, of course, the ones that need the most editing. When I started this book, I knew the outline of the plot, and some of the themes, but as the book went on things evolved. These first chapters drag their knuckles on the ground. Need to have them stand upright. And in the next draft will make them lean and strong and swift. And, if I do a fourth draft, will see if I can teach it to make cappuccino.”

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random, Uncategorized

Friday Fare: Done with Winter Edition

Friday FareFriday Fare is where I post links to the random articles that have resonated with me during the week. Sometimes they make me smarter, sometimes they make me hungry … sometimes they have to do with writing and sometimes they are just plain random.

On Sunday, I was rambling the woods on my parents’ farm; on Thursday, my corner of Minnesota got about a foot of snow dumped on it.  I am done with winter.  Let’s be done with snow, m’kay?

It’s been a quiet week on the work front and I’ve been finding all sorts of readables on the Interwebs:

I’m pretty verbose about my love of L.M. Montgomery and “Anne of Green Gables.”  One of the fan sites on Facebook linked to this 1986 New York Times article talking about the American debut of the beloved Canadian TV series.

I’ve probably missed about 90% of the shows / movies / etc. that James Franco has been in, but I like him all the same.  This was an interesting article from Rolling Stone about a brilliant artist.

Obligatory George Clooney article.  (Seriously – I think that I’m stuck in the 1990s or something.  I have referenced Clooney in my fiction on TWO different occasions.  He is my measurestick of hotness.)

This will be on my (To Be Read) TBR pile when it’s released:  Nora McInerny Purmort’s memoir “It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying Is Cool Too).” Like many Minnesotans, I followed the love story of Nora and her husband Aaron Purmort, who died in 2014 after a fierce battle with cancer. (This love story might have stayed in Minnesota, but gained national recognition after Mr. Purmort’s obituary ran in the Star Tribune.  Seriously, read it.  Best. Obit. Ever.) Mpls St Paul magazine ran a feature on Ms. McInerny Purmort in a recent issue.  It’s worth the read.

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Listening to: I remember reading Loretta Lynn’s autobiography, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” when I was a kid.  My grandpa Stan wasn’t big on books, but this was one that he kept at his house.  So my heart has a huge soft spot when it comes to Loretta Lynn.  This recent duet between Ms. Lynn and Willie Nelson?  Impeccable.

Reading:  See below.

Fiction Update:  Monday marked the beginning of edits of what is either version five or six of “After Life” (AL).  I’m already encountering self doubt and Microsoft Word shenanigans, but I’m in it for the long haul, babies … I’ve been jotting down some future blog post ideas, so I’ll share more through my “Adventures in Editing,” but for the time being, I’ll just leave it at this brief update.

Happy weekend, friends!

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random, Uncategorized

Friday Fare: In Like a Lion

Friday FareFriday Fare is where I post links to the random articles that have resonated with me during the week. Sometimes they make me smarter, sometimes they make me hungry … sometimes they have to do with writing and sometimes they are just plain random.

OK – so the weather in Minnesota has been delightful – 60 degree days where I can send my hooligans outside to run off the energy they’ve been conserving over the winter.  But in terms of work?  My lord … as I told one of my co-workers, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel – just hoping it isn’t a train.  But there were still good things to read this week:

I’m a huge fan of articles that are part of a larger series.  Sunday Routine from The New York Times comes to mind, as does the Grub Street Diet from GrubStreet.com.  (I mean – everyone should know that Judy Greer and I are now soul sisters because of our shared love of Panera Bread’s chocolate chipper cookies.)  The latest series I’m into and have subscribed to is called My Morning Routine.  I have no clue why I like to read about what people do during their days (probably envy – I think they all are getting more sleep than I am); but it’s something I enjoy a lot.

A website / blog that I’m a fan on is Scary Mommy.  Their recent post “19 Ways Work-At-Home Moms Lie to Themselves” was a character study in my … erm, routine.

And falling under the category “GET IN MAH MOUTH,” here’s a recipe from Sweatpants & Coffee.  I like brown butter.  I like rice krispies.  And I love bourbon – this recipe just screams “win” to me. (Might need to bring this to my next writer’s meeting …)

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Listening to: This killed me … what an amazing concept – remaking songs using instruments that were only available in the 1930s.  Oh BBC – I love you.

Reading: Anne Frasier’s “Pretty Dead” is on my counter.  The same spot it was when I hauled it home from the library, but I’m looking forward to reading it.

Fiction Update: I met with my South Metro Writer’s Group this week and it was invigorating.  We have a new member that brings great energy to our already vibrant group and I appreciate all of the insights they’ve given me on my work.  This week, I workshopped a short story that I had sent in for consideration in a different anthology.  It was rejected and while I knew that it had been passed up for good reasons, I wasn’t sure what those reasons were.  Getting their outside perspective was extremely helpful.

And – now that I’m exiting my season in (proposal) hell, I’m looking forward to cracking open some “After Life (AL)” and starting a new round of edits.  Deep breath.  I got this.

Happy weekend, dear friends!

Editing, Fiction, Process

April Fools Day … Joke’s On Me

So – I have good news and I have sh*tty news. Because I’m pragmatic and my crappy news colors the rest of this narrative, I’ll start with that.

It’s April 1st. My latest round of edits for After Life (AL) is not done. I’m 3/5ths through the book and I’ve had some really great insights as I’ve been going through my story in preparation for my beta readers, but that’s not done and I haven’t hit the really scary parts of my book yet – the parts that were added later and still need some work.

I’m not happy with this news, but I’m also pretty honest with myself and the progress that I’ve made. I have a major work project that’s sucking the life out of me. I am a mom and while I think my kids fart rainbows, it’s really hard to get anything personal done during their waking hours. (Let’s not even talk about the stuff I’m happy to ignore – looking at you, laundry pile.) I have a triptych of priorities that I established after my kids were born: 1) Family/Friends Who Double as Family, 2) Fiction, and 3) Work. There are days that #3 edges over #2, but since #3 provides my paycheck, I’m not going to get too pissed off about it.

What am I going to do about this? Here’s the good news: My problem child of a work project will go away on April 13th (its due date). I’m going to take a couple days of PTO that week and ask the babysitter to stay late on a couple of days so I can power through the rest of my draft. The new deadline is April 15th.

Life is good. I am on the right track with my book. I wish sometimes it was a speedier track, but it is what it is. I also have some good things that have been happening with meeting some other AWESOME writers and my Twin Cities Sisters in Crime group, I’ll share those tidbits on Friday!