Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random, Uncategorized

Friday Fare: Waitin’ for the weekend

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 have been ripe with damn good articles this week:

I’ve made no secret of my adoration of J.T. Ellison.  Her (adopted) hometown paper wrote an awesome article about her path in the writing world and her recent successes.  And so yeah, I’m biased because I’m a fan of Ms. Ellison’s, but considering how the newspaper industry has gutted their editorial staffs and the tendency for “quantity over quality” I was gratified to see that the reporter did their work and contacted more than Ms. Ellison and one other person for a quote.

Brian Freeman is a Minnesota author who has a cultivated quite a following with readers through his Jonathan Stride novels.  While I always joke that I’m usually about 10 years behind when it comes to following trends, I actually hopped on the Stride zeitgeist in 2005/6 when his first novel “Immoral” came out.

If my local writers group, the Rochester Literary Guild, had a patron saint; it would be Bob Dylan.  I think a pilgrimage to Tulsa is in my future …


Listening to: I’m still kinda obsessed with the Dave Rawlings Machine and I’m going to be damn unapologetic about it.  This song slays me and has been added to the soundtrack list for at least one of my writing projects.

Reading: Read another Alexandra Sokoloff book.  And it was good.

Fiction Update: It’s been a crazy work week with some daunting deadlines.  I did make it to the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime meeting where I got to hang out with some of my tribe members and do burgers and beer with my writer friend Emily.  But for the sake of sanity, I’ve been focusing on work and trying to be a decent family member this week.  I’ll spend some time this weekend working on finalizing my short story for submission.  That deadline’s March 15th and I’m feeling pretty good about my story and the edits I’ve gotten back from fellow writers.

Wherever you’re reading from, I hope that you have a wonderful weekend!

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!

Accolades, Editing, Fiction, Process, Random

Is this microphone still on?

I’m sorry for my absence. I recently read a statistic that said that nearly x(*)-percent of blogs were abandoned within the first year of their founding and honestly – as someone who has written and contributed to a number of blogs over the past several years, I was not surprised to see that number. Blogging is a commitment. And while I’m going to grant myself some grace in regards to my blogging practice (Demanding full-time job! Two toddlers! Good fiction is going on from my fingertips!), this space is important to me.

So … haaaaaiiiiiii. Happy New Year! How are you all? What’s good that’s going on in your worlds? What is inspiring you?

My family has gotten through the first part of winter without succumbing to flu or other crud (*knock on wood / strikes head*). We had a great time with our family members over the holidays, ate too much food, drove many miles, and just had a good time seeing people we don’t get to see as often as we like to. (My parents are about 2 hours from where my family and I live; my husband’s parents are 3 hours away.)

And things are going gangbusters on the writing front:

Version three edits of Afterlife (AL) were finished before the Christmas Eve deadline that I set for myself. AL is currently resting on my brain’s back burner and will be picked up again in a week or so to start the next round of edits.

AL also received an award! Right before the New Year, I received an email from Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter (MWA Midwest) that the critique of AL that I submitted was one of the entries selected for the Hugh Holton Award!

_Hugh Holton
Being called a “promising writer” will never get old.

From MWA Midwest: “Hugh Holton was a Chicago mystery writer and member of MWA Midwest. He wrote eight books about Chicago Police Detective Larry Cole, all of which drew on his experiences as a Chicago cop. When he died in 2001 the mentor program was launched to remember his contribution to the writing community.”

To say that I’m honored and thrilled is an absolute understatement. (I just made my news Facebook official and I’m getting a little verklempt as the “likes” are rolling in from my friends and family, as well as the awesomely random comments I’m getting from folks. Getting. Teary.)

What’s next?

So while v3 is marinating in its own weird thought process, I’ve decided to treat myself to a little bit of a diversion. No, I’m not binge watching old episodes of Quantum Leap. (That was at the tail end of November. And yes, that did get in the way of the deadlines I had set for myself. Darn you Scott Bakula!) I’m going through and outlining a story idea that I had a few years back and have a few chapters written on.

Although AL is a marriage, I’m having a wonderful little fling with this story that I call “Summoned.” Again, I want to give AL a month’s worth of rest, so I’m doing a little bit of research on Summoned, working on an outline (I’ll talk about my crazy writing process in a future post. I always thought I was a pantser – and I am! – but man, there’s something seductive about writing an outline too.). I am aiming to be done with the outline by the time I pick AL up again.

So … life is good. Life keeps rolling on. And I keep setting deadlines. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

(*) Of course, now I can’t find that random statistic regarding how many blogs are abandoned in their first year. But if you Google “abandoned blogs,” various articles state that 95% of blogs are abandoned.

Process, Random

This week’s goals

  • Rearrange editing calendar
  • Finish character list
  • Compare notes from v2 and v3
  • Look at notebook

I’m already behind.  But I’m making consistent progress on AL and after 10 hours of driving over the weekend to see a very dear friend of mine, I made a ton of progress on version 3. 

How do I make progress while driving?  Well, first off – very carefully.  Basically, what I do is retell the story in my head as I’m driving along.  I throw out the niggling issues that are causing me heartburn and asking questions.  Mainly … am I making things harder than they need to be?  And honestly – if you’re asking yourself this question, the answer is probably a resounding “yes!”  Some sketched out items for backstory were cut in favor of simplicity.  I figured out how to tighten the pace (that was a huge “a-ha!” moment that had me pulling over in the next town and scribbling madly in my notebook). 

I also finished my complete readthrough of version 3.  Here’s a picture of Sunday morning and the glorious three hours that I had transcribing the notes that I had scribbled while reading:


I’ll share the story regarding the motel I had been staying in at a later date.  While the place was dated, it was clean and the coffee was good and plentiful.  (And it was QUIET! Yay for quiet working conditions!)

In the meantime – this is what else is going on in this world:

Listening to: Vintage Ricky Skaggs and a new find.

Reading: I have a whole host of books that need to be consumed … one of those is going to be J.T. Ellison’s latest. 

Happy September, friends!

Fiction, Process

Plan your work, work your plan

20140729_100849I completed the second draft edits of “Afterlife.” To give you a clue at the lack of fanfare regarding this event, my husband doesn’t even know that.  And in his defense – I just decided that I was done with the edits on Sunday night after about a week’s lull of activity regarding my WIP.  I was sitting at my desk when it hit me … I’m done with the second round of edits.  In fact, I had finished edits when I was in a hotel room in Colorado the week before.

But this should also give you an idea of how long I still have to go with AL.  The internal deadline I had set for myself with AL was that she’d be ready for beta readers by the fall.  Conservatively, I’d say that she’ll be ready closer to Christmas.  There are still some holes, there are some exciting things that I discovered during the second round of edits that I’m going to go back and flesh out.

Next steps?  Mentally, I decided that I finished the second round of edits on July 18th.  I’m giving AL a month to rest and then I’m picking her up again for version 3.  (As you can see in the photo above, I have the binder for v3 all ready!)

Here’s what I’ll be doing in the meantime:

  • Reading “Write Your Novel From the Middle” by James Scott Bell.  The middle of my novel has issues.  There’s some pacing concerns that I’ve grappled with during v2, so I’m hoping that this helps.
  • Dammit … I wanted this to be a bulleted list.  And to be honest, that’s really the only thing I’m doing in preparation for v3.  There are other things that I’ve done to further AL.  Those include (subbullets!)
    • Reread a lot of Patricia Briggs … Mercy Thompson is one of my favorite characters in paranormal literature. Plus, the way that Briggs presents her stories in the same POV that AL is in.  It’s a good primer to see what I want to accomplish with my own work.
    • Finished rereading Elizabeth Lowell’s “Always Time to Die.”  For some reason, that novel has been stuck in my head and I re-read it on my flight back and forth to Colorado.  I tried to pay particular attention to how Lowell unfolded “ATtD” because she has a lot of story threads moving through this novel and I wanted to see how she managed all of them and still presented a pretty gripping story.  (Even if some of the romantic dialogue leaned heavily towards the cheese territory.)

Starting August 18th, I’ve taken three days of PTO from work and I’m going to devote that time to kickstarting round three of edits.  My goal is to complete that round of edits by October 11th.  It’s ambitious, but not impossible.

In the meantime, I’m going to take my hiatus from AL to switch gears and start outlining a story that I started a few years back.  I have a big problem with starting and abandoning projects.  As a result, I have about four orphaned stories that I’ve been working on over the past 10 years or so.  This story (the working title is “Summoned”) is one that has been niggling at my brain lately and I’m very much looking forward to going down that path again and setting up a road map that I can refer to when I go back to writing that particular tale.

Plan your work, work your plan … Happy Tuesday, everyone!


The wooshing sounds of deadlines …

I had set an internal deadline of finishing edits on my Shitty First Draft (SFD) by July 1.  It is July 1.  And I’m about four chapters, give or take, behind.  However – I am not bummed by missing this deadline.  I have two children under the age of two that are running afoot, I work full time, and I really like spending time with my husband and other family members; I’m cutting myself a little bit of slack.  And that’s partially because I’m confident that I’m not far away from finishing my edits.

What’s next?  I’m wavering between giving my story some time to rest and marinate (what does that even MEAN?) or going right back into more edits.  I think I’m going to give it a little rest, partially to give myself some objective distance, but mostly because there’s another project that’s been niggling at my gray matter and I want to do some outlining on that before I return to my edits.  I worry about losing my momentum, but my instinct is telling me that I’m going to be OK as long as I return to AL before August 15th. 

In other news – I’m reading again.  When I’m writing, my reading habit becomes feast or famine.  And if I do read, I want to read something that I’ve read before (It’s my brain’s version of comfort food?  I’m really strange?  All of the above?),  I’m out of my famine mode and back into feasting on books.  I’m back to reading Patricia Briggs’ “Mercy Thompson” series and restarted the “Alpha and Omega” series.  I love the world that Briggs created with these characters – again, mental comfort food.  I’m also reading books on the Russian empire – Robert K. Massie’s “Catherine the Great” and Edvard Radzinsky’s “The Last Tsar.”  I’ve been minorly obsessed with the Romanovs since high school.  And like my penchant for mental comfort food, I cannot explain why I am drawn to those eras in history and that country. 

Happy July, friends!