Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random, Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 8/26/16

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’ve had a hell of a hard time adulting lately.  Not sure if it’s been the endless rain, still recovering from my weekend at the Writers’ Police Academy (WPA), or what’s going on, but I’m ready for fall.  I’m ready for jeans, my favorite hoodie, toasted graham lattes from Starbucks, etc.

Without further ado – the interwebs have been full of good stuff lately.  In no particular order:

I was a proud Kickstarter supporter of Jessica Lourey’s novel “The Catalain Book of Secrets.”  Ms. Lourey taught a class at the first writer’s convention I attended and I appreciated her insights.  Recently, she gave a TEDx Talk on using fiction to rewrite your life.  This video is about 13 minutes long and well worth a watch.  I was gobsmacked at the amount of grace that Jessie brought to her audience and blessed by the levity and humor she brought to her personal story.  Seriously – 13 minutes.  Coffee break.

Speaking of people named Jessica … my WPA roomie and sister-in-arms Jessica Ellis Laine wrote her Top 10 list for why she loved the 2016 WPA.  And crazy story … there’s a darkened picture at the end of the post.  There’s this lady who looks like me, but she’s dancing. Since I’m the boring-est person in the world, that’s likely my evil doppelganger.

Rick Astley talked to Rolling Stone about the benefits of “rickrolling.”  Seriously.  A) The man talked about rickrolling. B) He wasn’t a dick about his past as a 1980s heartthrob.  The interview revealed an amazingly gracious man who embraces his footnote in pop culture history.  It’s a good read.

I’m not saying that this is a contrast, but when it comes to people who are “uncomfortable” with the past, my favorite Monkee is famously prickly about his role in the US version of the Fab 4.  But … this article (also from Rolling Stone) talks to the three surviving members of The Monkees and goes through their musical history in 15 songs.  Considering that their catalog goes back 5o years (and includes songs from Neil Diamond, Carole King, and Harry Nilsson) it’s not a bad look back.

***

Listening to: Recently discovered Lord Huron.  There is some good stuff to be heard here.

Reading:  I’m currently trying to read an overdue copy of Sarah Fine’s “Fractured.”  (YA novel, second in a series, the first was very good but I’m having attention span issues [see intro note about “adulting.”].)  I finished reading a draft copy of Jerry Johnson‘s upcoming novel.  (And that. was. GOOOOOOD.  Should be out in October.)

Fiction Update:  Shhhhh … shh … shh!  After Life (AL) is currently resting and getting ready for the next round of edits.  More about that in an upcoming blog.  The next round of edits will commence on October 1st!  In the meantime, I have a lot of books I want to catch up on.  Some involve craft, some are just good fiction.  All good stuff for the brain!

Enjoy the weekend!

Advertisements
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.

***

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

Friday Fare: Hallelujah

Friday FareFriday Fare is my “best of” when it comes to Internet links that I’ve read this week.  Here are the articles that caught my attention and maybe made me a smarter person this week:

Wow – apparently my life has been all about memes lately.  (And following political stories … bor-rrring.  Although it beats reading about the Kardashians.)

I had to dig hard for this article that I had posted on my Facebook wall last week.  Neil Gaiman on why our futures depend on libraries, daydreaming, and reading.

Otherwise, the only articles that I forwarded and actually read this week was this piece from the Huffington Post asking the question that’s on everyone’s mind:  “What’s A Skoliosexual?”  (I emailed my BFF and asked him if he was my “zucchini.”  Yeah … that was a weird message to send to someone, I admit.)

And then, let’s file this under “I can’t make this shit up”:  There was a woman in Champlin, Minnesota that was pissed off at her neighbors and their children, so she wrote them anonymous notes that said her children looked “delicious” and sent them magazines that were addressed to “Your Tasty Children.”  I emailed one of my other BFFs and told her I was glad that she moved out of that particular ‘burb, she responded that her husband gave the woman props for creativity.

Yes folks, the truth is usually stranger than fiction.

***

Listening to:  In honor of today’s post title, Rufus Wainwright’s take on Hallelujah.  It may be heresy, but this one is my favorite version.

Reading:  My cousin Cheryl invited me to be part of a Facebook society that is devoted to L.M. Montgomery and I found out about this book: “L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys.”  I’m not going to lie, when I found out about these essays that chronicle Ms. Montgomery’s Ontario years, I was having a shit-tacular day and had to fight the mighty urge to Click.  Buy.  Devour.  Truthfully, the only thing that really stopped me was the realization that there are a TON of books that are devoted to the “Anne of Green Gables” author’s life, inspiration, etc.  I’m thankful that my local library has a robust interlibrary loan system.  I have a feeling that I’m going to be doing some academic reading this winter about one of my favorite authors.

Fiction Update: I’m making good progress on outlining “Dragonfly” and noodling on the mushy middle parts that need to coalesce into something that resembles a story and not the end result that looks like my toddlers had a field day on my laptop’s keyboard.

Happy Friday, friends!  I am wishing you a blissful day and weekend. Today I am heading north to St. Paul to eat some borscht with a beloved college friend. I’m looking forward to not checking work emails and soaking in some good conversation.  It will be good for my soul.  Do something good for yourselves today!

Fiction, Process, Random

For the Summer

My dad ... circa 2009.
My dad … circa 2009.

I am admittedly late to the Ray LaMontagne bandwagon.  It happens to me frequently – there will be a musician or a band that is burning up the charts or have become the indie darlings of the radio and I’ll find out about them five years later.  Then I become a little obsessed with their music and email all of my friends something along the lines of “you need to hear this band!”  And then … crickets.  Because they typically will have heard of said band when they were relevant.

Anyway … Ray LaMontange.  Love his music.  And although I’m just writing about him now, I’ve been listening for a couple of years.  And as I’ve written in the past, music tends to inform a lot of the atmosphere around my writing.  Some writers need absolute silence to write.  I’ve heard that Stephen King likes to listen to heavy metal when he’s penning his work.

I’m in a bit of a limbo right now in waiting to hear feedback from some of my beta readers.  I have a couple of items that I want to work on in my writing life, but I’ve been thinking about using this time to start outlining the next full-fledged fiction project that I’m going to work on.  To give you an idea where my head is right now (beyond trying to come up from air under the amount of boxes and crap that my husband and I need to unpack … bleh), it vacillates between a story set in my heart’s home of northeast Iowa or the story that’s set in the lake country of west central Minnesota.  The northeast Iowa story starts in the fall – it always has had its starting time frame in the fall, when the trees along the Mississippi River bluffs display their quiet riot of fall colors and when the farmers are in the field, trying to harvest the last of the corn.  But the west central Minnesota story is a resort story – it belongs on a place called Dragonfly Lake where time is moving on, despite the memories that would keep Marv Carlson trapped in the past.  And when Ray LaMontagne’s “For the Summer” cues up on my mp3 player and when I think about the summer I spent cleaning resort cabins on weekends for a couple extra bucks, my heart knows what story to tell next.

PS – The picture above is of my dad.  When my mind isn’t thinking of Minnesota lakes, Mr. LaMontange’s song makes me think of summer on the farm – one arm out the rolled down window of my mama’s pickup truck.  Spring Grove pop.  And I think of this particular day on a long ago vacation when my dad and I found a riot of flowers in South Dakota.

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Process, Random

Friday Fare: Links from the around the ‘Net

FridayFareI was a little early heralding the arrival of spring – we got nine inches of snow dumped on southeast Minnesota Sunday night (March 22nd).  My friend Jerry warned me, but I was too busy basking in the sun to pay heed to what I should remember about winter in the Midwest – March is a harsh mistress (or as Jerry put it:  “… that raucous, heartless wench.”

What have I been reading lately on the interwebs?

Anyway … New York Times’ Sunday Routine is one of the series that I follow faithfully in my newspaper reading.  This one with Tim Gunn was spectacular.  Not sure if it was Mr. Gunn, what he does for his Sunday Routine, or what it was about this one in particular, but I liked it.

This article regarding coffee and how it can negatively i impact a person’s productivity is bunk and I refuse to believe it.

I found a couple decadent recipes on the Interwebs this week:  Inspire(d) Magazine is a periodical out of my homeland of Northeast Iowa and the Crockpot Chicken Tikka Masala is going to happen this weekend.  And then a friend of mine posted a recipe for Elvis Cheesecake – and it features a Nutter Butter crust.  I have an unhealthy love for Nutter Butter cookies that I can largely dismiss unless I hear the product name.  But while I fixate on the NB, this cheesecake features peanut butter, banana, and bacon bits.  While I do not think I’m going to make this, I would gladly order this off of a menu.  Or if my friend Jenny goes into the baking/delivery business – I would be happy to have this show up at my doorstep.

***

Listening to: Every once in awhile I try to educate my sons in the “finer” music in life (beyond my usual folk fixation and their love of anything Sesame Street or secular Veggie Tales.)  This song got some heavy rotation this morning.

Reading:  I kind of abandoned Skellig.  Which means I should likely put it back on my “to be read” list for another day when I have the focus to finish it.  In the meantime, Sheyna Galyan is a member of the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime group that I belong to and we met over a morning involving firearms training.  I’m currently making my way through her debut novel “Destined to Choose” and I’m enjoying it – Galyan is a Jewish author and in her words, her books are written to “answer Big Questions.”  The former religion minor geek in my psyche is enjoying this in depth look at the Jewish faith.  And her story is well constructed, so bonus!

Fiction update: Editing.  And it’s going well.  There are some good things that are happening on the page and I’m getting ready to release my baby out to the beta readers soon!

Happy Friday, dear friends!

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Process, Random

Friday Fare: Links from the around the ‘Net

FridayFare First and foremost – HALLELUJAH, it is Friday!  And secondly – IT’S THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING!  Winter wasn’t as bad as it could be in the hinterlands of Minnesota, but when you’re the mom of two toddlers – any extended periods of time spent indoors is just cruel to all involved.

Without further ado – here’s the articles that piqued my interest this week:

What common editing mistakes are you making?  Lourdes Venard is a member of the Sisters in Crime Guppies (Great Unpublished) online group that I am a part of.  Recently, she wrote a blog post that encapsulated some of the common mistakes that editors see when editing fiction.  Confession:  I know I’m guilty of a couple of these!

Wow – I haven’t read any of Adrian McKinty’s books, but need to start based on the soundtrack for his Detective Sean Duffy’s books alone.

I do a decent amount of research for some of my stories – I’m nowhere near as detailed as someone like Diana Gabaldon is, but some of the things that I write prompt me to consult subject matter experts or look up articles / various sources to find out random things like the history of embalming (don’t ask.)  Sometimes, I’m simply bookmarking articles for future information – storing little nuggets of information in my head that could be relevant in future stories.  Like this article about a super-secret policing gadget that can listen in on cell conversations.  Hel-lo big brother.

***

Listening to:  As I finalize this post today, I have Simon and Garfunkel’s Concert in Central Park playing.  My parents had this album on cassette when I was a kid and I wore it out.  If I ever had to exist on a desert island, this is probably one of the albums that I’d bring with me.  This one and Paul Simon’s “Negotiations and Love Songs.”

Reading:  I have a couple of books that I picked up from the library – Sanctum by Sarah Fine and The Cold Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty (see the link above that got me interested in reading Mr. McKinty’s books).  I am 99% sure that I’ve read Sanctum, but need to page through it to see if that is the case.  If so, I’ll do a quick re-read since this is part of a larger series of Young Adult (YA) fiction.

Fiction update:  Edits, edits, edits.  I’m still on my April 1st deadline.  Just got to keep plugging away to that goal line and not let life derail me.

Also – I’m getting ready to go to the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference next month in Minneapolis.  I had been on the fence regarding my attendance, but they have a Saturday pass for $40.  With my work schedule and with my family, that’s going to be the best option for me.  I’ll be writing more soon regarding what I hope to get from the conference, but honestly – I’m just looking forward to rubbing elbows with some of the Minnesota writers that I’ve befriended over the past few years and drinking with my Writer’s Guild at the conclusion of Saturday’s festivities. 🙂

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.