Editing, Fiction, Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Process, Random

Friday Fare: Links from the around the ‘Net

FridayFare On Fridays, I post a round up of the various posts and articles that have been of interest to me during the week:

Kristi Belcamino, a fellow Minnesota author, gave a shout out to this website for creating graphics.  I’m looking forward to trying this out and integrating into my social media efforts.

Fidgeting = productivity?  The Wall Street Journal had this article regarding how “creative playtime” may spark new ideas.  The note that I made to myself after reading this was that while I didn’t necessarily agree with this idea (I don’t think that I can play with a Slinky and still type at the same time –  not that coordinated), I have found that music is important for sparking creativity.  If I feel like I’m in a slump, changing a playlist can make my mind skip in a productive direction.

And because I’ve re-discovered that my other creative outlet is cooking and because my sons and I are all getting over colds, I riffed on this chicken noodle soup recipe this week.  It was pretty damn good.

***

Listening to: As I’m writing this, I’m listening to a playlist of Alison Krauss from YouTube, starting with her duet with Robert Plant (“Killing the Blues”), wanting to listen to this song on constant repeat, and then getting some gratification that I’m not the only one who appreciates Gordon Lightfoot.

Reading:  Truthfully?  I’m reading some Highlander/time-traveling smut right now, so I’m not going to be proud about announcing my reading choice right now.  I’m working on a Dean Koontz novel, still need to finish “Skellig” (heading to Chicago and spending an unexpected extra night has thrown a lot of my life off).  Stay tuned … on Tuesday, I’m going to share a shot of my TBR (to be read) pile.

Fiction update:  My work life is ramping up again and it’s causing me a little bit of anxiety.  I have five proposals due before April 13th.  How do I balance this with my own internal deadline (pages in the hands of beta readers by April 1st?).  What I did was print out a fresh copy of my manuscript and I’m taking another run at reading and making edits as I go.  Mentally, I liken this process to my winter driving adventures during my 16th year of life, when I would have to back my Pontiac Sunbird into the field approach across the road from my parents’ farm and take the driveway at a run if I hoped to get up to the top of the drive.  I usually had about a 50% success rate.  Let’s hope that I’m more adept at driving / editing some 20 years later.

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Process, Random

Friday Fare: Links from the around the ‘Net

FridayFare On Fridays, I post a round up of the various posts and articles that have been of interest to me during the week:

I loved this headline:  Mansion for sale.  Not cheap.  The Pillsbury mansion is up for sale – if you have north of $4 million lying around, you could be the next owner.  I sent the link to my mom (who is also a kick ass real estate agent) and she was amazed how small the bedrooms were.

This has nothing to do with writing, per se – but I love Cary Elwes.  And although I thought that the writer was kind of lame to bring her niece to the interview, it made me swoon a little bit to think of him fawning over a baby.

And wait … this is a writing blog?  OK – this has nothing really to do with the writing craft, but does have everything to do with the genre that I like to write in the best … crime.  And again – another good headline:  Chopping up a body takes a special type of depravity.

***

Listening to: Don’t ask me to explain why, but I am kind of obsessed with Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk.”

Reading:  As I noted earlier this week, I went to the Fair Trade Books bookstore in Red Wing to see William Kent Krueger.  What’s neat about Fair Trade Books (other than the fact that it’s an indie), is that it’s a hybrid of used books and new books.  I picked up a couple of books while I was there.  One of them was Skellig by David Almond.  This is a kid’s book and I’m breezing through it, but I gotta be honest – it’s a gripping story.  And honestly, I don’t know if I care that I’m reading a “children’s” book.  It still has all of the elements of a good story.

Fiction update:  Edits!  I’ve taken a couple of evenings and I’ve been sketching out story arcs to make sure that all of my characters are getting all of the “love” that they need and that I’m not leaving any loose threads undone or narratives unresolved.  I’m still on target to have a draft to beta readers by April 1.  EEEEEEEK.  I am about to let my baby out into the universe.

Fiction, Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Process, Random

Friday Fare: Links from the around the ‘Net

FridayFare On Fridays, I post a round up of the various posts and articles that have been of interest to me during the week:

I loved this article about Nora Roberts from the New York Times’ “By the Book” feature.  I’ve wrote down many of the suggestions and have added them to my Goodreads.

Sometimes I add recipes of things that I plan to make on this blog, since cooking is one of my other creative outlets.  I made this soup from my writing hero J.T. Ellison this past weekend.  Since my kiddos don’t touch it, it makes a ton of leftovers.  Which means I don’t have to cook for most of the rest of the week.  (WINNING.)  And I got a kick out of this post regarding Joan Didion’s cookbook.

***

Listening to:  I wrote a blog post awhile back about listening to music while I write.  To that end, I made a Spotify playlist of the songs that have inspired me / contributed to the muse for After Life.  The songs are a little all over the place (Bowie!  Off-Broadway!), but they all have a spot in the canon.  (Let me know if the link doesn’t work … I’m new at this Spotify thing.)

Reading:  Still on Deborah Harkness.  Took a (very) quick detour to the first Pendergast novel “Relic” by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.  A boyfriend of mine from high school had loaned me that book during my senior year and it was an absolute joy to rediscover it.  It also reminded me how important pacing is in novels.  I am a fast reader by nature (and necessity – I’m the mother of two toddlers) and I slammed that book in four hours.  It was exhilarating.  I’m going to have to visit the library and read the rest of them as well.

Fiction update:  Editing, editing, editing.  I’m past the “this is shit” phase from last week and I remain cautiously optimistic.  The deadline I have set for myself is pages in hands of beta readers by April 1.  I can do this.

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Process, Random

Friday Fare: Links from the around the ‘Net

FridayFare On Fridays, I post a round up of the various posts and articles that have been of interest to me during the week:

How to Create a Social Media Posting Schedule from Constant Contact.  This was very interesting … I’m a prolific Facebook user (to a fault).  I just started using Pinterest regularly (although, it’s more to corral recipes that I’ve bookmarked on my browser than anything else).   I like Twitter and I just recently joined Tumblr (although I have no clue what the hell I’m doing.).  This is something to keep in the back of my head for the future.

When am I going to break through?  According to the Telegraph in the UK, it will be while I’m in middle age.  So … whee!  That should be shortly then.  (With lots of hard work and some good luck.)

***

Listening to: I just discovered Kacey Musgraves.  (Yes, I spend most of my days under a rock.  Well, in my basement, but you get the point …)  This version of the classic Elvis song just kills me.

Reading:  I’m rereading Deborah Harkness starting at the beginning with “A Discovery of Witches.”  (And I’m celebrating the news that the BBC will be adapting the All Souls Trilogy!  I think they will do the series justice.)

Fiction update:  Editing, editing, editing.  I’ve run into the scary part of my WIP and see that I need to do some structural work.  So I’ve been reading some fascinating stuff regarding the three-act structure and trying to sketch out what my story needs to work and proceed in a forward motion.  I also got some good advice from a mentor of mine. 🙂

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Process, Random

Friday Fare: Links from the around the ‘Net

FridayFareConfession:  I love the Internet (affectionately known in my household as “the Interwebs.”).  On Fridays, I’m going to post a round up of the various posts and articles that have been of interest to me during the week:

I am about 40% through the latest round of edits on Afterlife (AL) and I’m really excited with how it’s going.  I feel like the edits I’m making are helping to make a more cohesive story and it’s getting the story closer to beta readers.

Articles like this  help:  http://latenightnovelwriting.tumblr.com/post/101646227591/8-words-to-seek-and-destroy-in-your-writing

J.K. Rowling’s notes!  (I came across this a few years back and I loved how she did this – I’ve used something similar and really like how it helps track characters.)

And here I thought I was just lazy: http://elitedaily.com/money/science-simplicity-successful-people-wear-thing-every-day/849141/

I thought that this looked like a useful tool:  http://writerswrite.co.za/cheat-sheets-translate-emotions-into-written-body-language

And because I like to add a recipe onto these round-ups, here‘s what I am hoping to bake this afternoon.

***

Listening to:  I had a couple recent road trips lately.  While I usually have some mixed CDs on hand to help the miles go by, I also like to listen to radio stations and see what’s new.  This song by Hosier is haunting and the YouTube video gave me absolute chills.

Otherwise, my musical tastes reveal how late I am to the game … I’ve just discovered Old Crow Medicine Show.  My eldest loves “Wagon Wheel” and that’s on frequent rotation, along with “Fuzzy and Blue” and “C is for Cookie.”

Reading:  When I originally started drafting this post, I was re-reading Stephen King’s “Bag of Bones.” I was reminded once again why I want to be a writer.  And because it’s brain candy, I’m re-reading Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series.  (This might be the fourth time through??)

Fiction update:  Again, when I originally drafted this blog post, I was in the midst of letting AL marinate (I let my drafts rest between edits so they have a little bit of time to rest).  During that time, I started outlining another story that I had started (and abandoned) a few years back.  My thought process was that I’d have a decent outline ready for when my next round of edits on AL are done and while AL is out with beta readers, I’d start getting more words on the page for my next project.

While I didn’t completely finish my outline, I made some great progress on that project.  But, as it turned out – this past week has been a quiet one at work.  Since I never know when things are going to be quiet on the work front, I decided to go ahead and jump into edits.  (If I wait until there’s a “perfect” time to write / edit, I will never pen another word again.)

I am hoping that this finds you all well!

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.

Random

VOTE

Vote!I meant to write about NaNoWriMo today (or more accurately, why I’m not participating this year.)  But work and edits got in the way!  However, a more important post is to remind my American readers that today is the day to get out and VOTE!  My coffee cups and I did our civic duty today and were #42 at the local poll.

In the fiction world – edits keep crankin’ along.  I’m also going to head north tonight for the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime meeting!

Editing, Fiction, Process, Random

Perserverance

Dear Yoda,

It was great seeing you this past weekend. And thank you for the kind words that you wrote in your book to me.  I can’t tell you adequately what it meant to read that.

I’m struggling today. Part of it is exhaustion from the kiddos.  They are great, but between parenting and work and trying to make the needle move on the novel edits, it doesn’t leave time for much else.  And then there is the editing process itself … one foot in front of the other, all while trying to ignore the inner voice that tells me that each word that I place on the page is shit.  And while some people think that writing can be taught, they forget that I really have no mental capacity to retain the words in the writing books that I’ve read.  In the meantime, I want to read some more Craig Johnson.  When I read the first Longmire book, I felt electrified.  His voice was so unique and genuine.  How do I capture that and find my own genuine voice?  But more accurately – when the hell am I going to find time to read? 

Sorry that this has turned into a regular ol’ bitch session.  I had wanted to get some pages to you by the end of the year.  And I think that I’m almost there.  But as I keep revising, I can see a couple of spots that just need a little more love before I let this baby out into the world.  How do I deepen the relationship between my heroine and her father?  How do I transition naturally into a romantic relationship between her and Travis?  How do I amp up the tension, but keep the B-story progressing?  How do I know that this book is not shit?

I’m not going to stop.  This is what I do in my “free” time. I try to move that needle and inch closer to my dream of being a published fiction writer.  But god, sometimes it’s hard. 

Hope that the bird hunting went well and that your hunting buddies didn’t give you too much grief that you had to postpone your trip to attend your book signing.  It’s going to sound stupid when I say this, since you are old enough to be my dad – but I am so very proud of you. 

-sk

^^ An unsent letter to my mentor.  Today’s a tough day, but if writing was easy – everyone would do it.  I am getting so close, but the edits are taking longer than I anticipated and there are just a few problem spots that need time, love, and undivided attention.

I will get there.  I will persevere.  But damn, there are days that I think my spirit animal is an effing tortoise!

*~*~*~*~

OK – now that my rant is over.  Here’s what’s good:

  • My author platform is limping/wogging (walk/jog – get it?) along.  I’m aiming for a January 1, 2015, launch.  Kind of scary, but I embrace it.
  • I entered the first 20 pages of AL to a writing competition that is hosted by a state chapter of the MWA.  To be honest, I do not anticipate to win, but I basically invested $25 into a brief critique of the opening chapter of AL.  And you know what I realized through that process?  I do need to tighten up some of the exposition a little bit.  That re-read in getting those pages ready for submission provided a great moment of clarity.

That’s what’s good in the writing world.  When it comes to everything else, life is pretty damn good.  My BFF gets married this weekend.  It’s fall in Minnesota and the tree out in front of our house is a beautiful tangerine shade.  My husband and kiddos are healthy.  And there’s a lot of love in my world.