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.

***

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!

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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 …)

***

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!

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random

Friday Fare: What’s new and what’s random

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:

Today’s post is where Kenny Rogers and mysteries meet!  OK – not really, but that might give you an idea where my mind has been this week.

My writers group (we call ourselves the Rochester Literary Guild or “Guilders”) has been having a HOT debate about this current ad from IBM Watson.  It features a conversation between Watson and Bob Dylan.  (To say that Bob Dylan is something of a patron saint to the Guilders might be conjecture, but I’m not too far from the truth.)  The main question that we’re kicking around?  Why would Bob do this?  But man … I love to hear The Man speak.  I love his facial expressions as Watson poses his questions and opinions to him.

Kenny Rogers!  Mr. Rogers’ recent retirement announcement prompted me to “Like” him on Facebook.  Considering that my brother and I used to stand on my parents’ fireplace bench and pretend that we were Kenny Rogers and Dottie West (this was at the tender ages of 15 and 17 … no, wait!  We were only toddlers.  I swear.), I’m surprised that I hadn’t liked Kenny’s FB page before.  I’m not sure what I was waiting for – I don’t know if Kenny runs his own social media (I’m sure not), but whoever is posting on this page links to the most RANDOM articles and memes on the Internet.  It’s like reading this particular type of blog post.  Seemingly every 20 minutes.  Love it.

Finally – the other article I read this week recapped Ernest Hemingway’s life as a young man in Michigan.  The author’s premise for this piece was the notion that when most people think of Hemingway, the Paris years and his time in Havana automatically spring to mind.  The New York Times’ author went back to Hemingway’s Michigan haunts – the places that deeply inspired “The Nick Adams Stories.”  It’s a quietly moving piece about a larger than life author.

***

Listening to:  Nothing that is too notable.  If anyone has good listening suggestions, hit me up on Twitter @shelleybakes or leave a comment! (Jerry Johnson … I’m looking at you … 🙂 And bird call recordings do not count.)

Reading:  I DEVOURED Jenny Milchman’s first book “Cover of Snow.”  There were a couple bumpy patches at the beginning of the book, but as soon as I realized that it had more to do with the fact that I was reading on my Kindle versus an author error, I powered through.  I’m still thinking of a couple of the herrings that she buried.  Thankful that I have a mystery loving mother-in-law who has this book on hold at the library and will email me her thoughts as well.  Ms. Milchman has been featured on any number of mystery genre blogs because of how she toured to support her debut novel.  In summary, as a debut novelist, her publishing house wasn’t pouring advertising dollars towards her book.  So Ms. Milchman and her husband loaded up their kids and drove cross-country to support her book.  Her account of the “world’s longest book tour” can be found here.

Fiction Update: Toasted Graham Latte – here I come!  (See last week’s post for this random shout out to Starbucks.)  I’m on page 112 of 122 for “Dragonfly.”  I should be able to knock the rest of these pages out today / this weekend.  There will be a post next week that discusses my next steps and some of the … well, I’ll be honest – anxiety that I’m feeling about what needs to happen next.  (OK – maybe anxiety is too strong of a word, but I’m the mama of two toddlers.  I don’t have a lot of time on my hands and I want to make sure that the time I have is used as efficiently as possible.)

Happy Friday, friends!

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!

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.

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

Friday Fare: Links from the around the ‘Net

FridayFareHere is my random group of random Internet musings and links that I’ve discovered
recently and want to curate for the rest of the world:

Ha!  I knew there was a reason beyond the fact that I’m the mother of two toddlers that I wear the same thing everyday.  I’m trying to achieve simplicity!

I’m a huge Stephen King fan.  The recent articles in Rolling Stone magazine are lush with details and research. (As a bonus, the first sidebar linked to this story about King’s sons Owen King and Joe Hill.  I’ve read Joe Hill and have enjoyed his work, need to read Owen King’s debut novel.)

I only caught the tail end of the whole “Alex from Target” … phenomenon … thing?  New York Times takes a look at the flip side of achieving viral fame.  I said this in a Facebook comment – I will never understand death threats.  You hate a guy because he’s on the Interwebs.  So you make a death threat?  Seems a little irrational.

And because no Friday Fare is complete without some offering to foods that I hope to cook someday (see my note about being the mother of two toddlers above), here’s something that could make a great addition to any Thanksgiving table.

***

Listening to: I’ve been binge watching/listening to YouTube playlists.  Alan Jackson singing at George Jones’ funeral?  Old 1990s country music videos (think Reba McEntire with BIG HAIR, Vince Gill with a pseudo-mullet, and Mama Judd herself in what looks like a cross between pleather and latex.)  Why 1990s country music?  Well, this happened:

Garth Brooks. Minneapolis. Fourth Row Seats.

After seeing Garth Brooks and attending one of the best concerts of my life, I’m feeling pretty nostalgic for the music I used to hear on the radio – on the school bus, while busing dishes at my great-aunt’s diner, in my dad’s barn …

Reading:  Just finished the final book in Nora Roberts’ “Dark Witch / Cousins O’Dwyer” trilogy.  I read it in a day, so it must have been good.

Fiction update:  I’ve hit something of a wall.  After reading this blog post from Chuck Wendig, I’m taking these words to heart:  “And that, I think, is one of the things that separates the Aspiring Not-Really-Writers from the Really Real Writers — the latter group writes even when it’s hard, even when the motivation is a dry well, even when the inspiration seems like a dead or dying thing. They hook the car battery jumper cables up to the coyote’s car-struck carcass and rev the engine and make the damn thing dance yet again. Seems dead, but isn’t. Every day then is an act of revivifying your own abilities and motivations. The act of writing becomes clarifying to the act of writing. To restate the principle for the third time: momentum begets momentum.”  I work to be a Really Real Writer, even when that means I have a little voice parroting in my head: “This is shit.  These words … shit.  You are shit.  Still shitty.”  One foot in front of the other.  One word at a time.

I’ve had some incredible moments during revisions – I’m not currently experiencing that.  But I can do this.  And if I show up every day, I’ll make progress.  Progress can be revised.  Progress is the goal.  Completion is the goal.

Fiction, Process, Random

Process and Parenting

I’ve read some really neat articles lately that feature the offices / work spaces of the “famously creative.”  This article “The Writer’s Room” is from the New York Times. The other one is from BuzzFeed and features “40 Inspiring Workspaces of the Famously Creative.”

When I was a kid, having an office seemed synonymous with Being a Big Deal.  I’m not sure where I got that from – my father was a farmer, the farm and its 100+ acres was his office.  My mom later worked in an office, but since she owned the entire building – well … my mom had an entire building.  Somewhere in my mind and in my existence, I thought to myself that if I had a space with a working door and a desk – I’d have an office.  And it would be good.

Here’s my “office.”  I ended up claiming this space as my own after turning my old office / spare bedroom into a nursery.  To be honest … it’s a pretty great space and really gets me away from it all – with the exception of the Cat.  He is perched on my worktable right now, purring.  And likely plotting.

office illustration
Click on to enlarge and view the madness!

 

Anyway, as I’m doing edits on my first draft of my novel (the working title is “After Life” [AL]), I bought a pad of those easel-size Post-It notes.  Right now, I have three up and they represent some of the main characters that are in my story and will eventually have their character arcs sketched out.  As I’ve finished my first draft of AL and its initial read-through, I realize that there’s a story there and that there are some good moments, but that there are some things that are missing. I’m hoping that if I can physically SEE the arcs and can stare at them for awhile, they’ll jolt something into being.  So yes – that sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo, but it’s already working.  Last night after I affixed the current Post-Its to the wall, I had a couple thoughts regarding the backstories of a couple pivotal characters.

***

The revisions to my first draft of AL have taken longer than I originally anticipated – I don’t remember what my exact deadlines were, but I adjusted accordingly.  I want the first set of revisions to be done by end of first quarter (April) and ready for beta readers by fall (October).  To be honest – I think I might be able to hit the April deadline, but I think it’s going to take a little more love and attention before I set this child out into the world to get her first round of critiques.

Part of the reason that my edits are taking longer is because my “real life” – i.e., my job as a proposal writer, has been taking a lot of my time lately.  Not only from my writing, but (more importantly) from my family.  And then there’s the reality that I’m the mom of two children under the age of 2.  God, I love them and while they are my best inventions – they are marvelously exhausting.  But here’s the thing – even though I’ve lived solo on this earth longer than I’ve been a mother, I have found that motherhood has done some interesting things to my writing.  One of the biggest things is that motherhood has helped me prioritize my time.  It’s pretty easy for me to pick and choose what social obligations I’d rather skip in favor of spending some time with AL. I’d also say something about how it’s given me greater depth of feeling, but you know?  That’s probably a bunch of bullshit.  Motherhood is part of a larger whole of me – I draw from being a mom, just like I’ve drawn from being a reporter.  I’ve even got a couple stories that came from the time that I worked as a phone operator at a cab company.  Every writer is different.  We all bring something unique and personal to the mix.

***

Writing / Doing: Setting up the Post-Its were a step in the right direction.  I got a couple ideas jotted down last night that I need to play with and see how they work in the overall arc of my story.

Reading: Still going through Geneen Roth.  Picked up a copy of J.T. Ellison’s latest novel “When Shadows Fall” on my Kindle.  I’m looking forward to reading her latest.  Also, I’ve linked to my Goodreads account on this page.  This also reflects what is on my bookshelf – both physical, Kindle, and virtual.