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.

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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!

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Fiction, Process

2016 Writers’ Police Academy: A Recap

A week ago, I had the pleasure of attending my first Writers’ Police Academy (WPA) in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  While I’m not going to do a blow-by-blow account of the weekend (blood spatter, helicopters, and Spice Girls … oh my!), here’s a rundown of the who, what, and would I return to the WPA?

2016 Writer's Police Academy

What is it:  For the past eight years, former detective Lee Lofland has hosted the Writers’ Police Academy, an “interactive and educational hands-on experience for writers to enhance their understanding of all aspects of law enforcement, firefighting, EMS, and forensics.”  The 2016 Writers’ Police Academy was recently held at the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, Wisconsin, for over 250 attendees – including people who flew in from as far as the Netherlands, Bangkok, and Germany.  Although the road trip from Minneapolis seemed long, it wasn’t as long as it was for the internationals. 🙂

Why did I go:  There are a couple of stories that I’m working on that involve characters who are in law enforcement.  And while I am fortunate to have experience with law enforcement (my previous career as a cops and courts newspaper reporter) and while I still have friends who work as cops, I felt like attending this conference would help give an “authentic” dimension to my law enforcement characters.

While that was a big part of it, what put me over the edge was the announcement that Tami Hoag was keynote speaker for the conference.  (And I love me some Tami Hoag.)

The other part that I assumed, but wildly underestimated, was the ability to network at this conference.  I attended with some fellow Twin Cities Sisters in Crime members, but ended up meeting a TON of writers – folks who are at different parts of their publication journey.  While I couldn’t meet every single person at the conference and while there are some people I wish I could have met earlier or spent more time with, there are a handful of people I’m hoping will be lifetime friends.

Would I go again:  Before I give this section the emphatic, resounding YES that it richly deserves, I have a few caveats.  I think that if you’re a writer, especially one who is working on a police procedural novel or any kind of story that involves fire / police / or EMS, I cannot stress how valuable this conference is.  The instructors at WPA are veteran public safety personnel.  In many cases, the instructors “tweaked” the presentations that they give in their respective fields to either shorten an eight-hour PowerPoint into an hour-long session that highlighted the main points for writers or generated material that specifically addressed creating authentic characters or scenarios for our stories.

Also incredibly generous and valuable?  Several of those instructors gave us their emails or phone numbers, saying “hey, if you need any further information, don’t hesitate to contact me.”  I cannot say enough about the professionalism and generosity of the instructors that we encountered.  There were also several authors that gave presentations that talked about the importance of research in our writing.

So will I go back next year?  I’m not sure if I’ll make it in 2017.  And that has nothing to do with the conference itself, but more about my overall conference plans for next year.  I hope to have my novel ready for querying agents next year and want to attend a conference like Killer Nashville or New England Crimebake.  Several mystery conferences have pitch sessions and I want to go to at least one of them.  I also have plans to attend Murder & Mystery in Chicago in spring 2017.  Although these “local” conferences (i.e. – cheap plane ticket or within driving distance) are easier on the pocketbook, there’s still an expense in attending a convention.

Will I go back again?  Absolutely.  The police component is not *huge* in my stories, but I write mysteries.  During this year’s conference, I was able to fix two lingering questions / problems that I have in my current work in progress, as well as get some killer background information for another project I’ve had on the back burner.  Between the people I met / networked with at the convention, the instructors / staff for WPA itself, and the information and sources I was able to acquire this weekend – I cannot say enough about the value of WPA.

Action Plan: I’ve tried to establish a “plan” that guides my path to publication.  And it will come as no surprise to the people who really know me, that I’m pretty shittacular at actually following my plans.  (I’d blame the fact that I’m the mother of little children, but no … it’s me.)  However, if I’m going to be shelling out hundreds of dollars for a convention, I need to have an action plan at the convention’s conclusion – not just go and marvel at how hunky the hot cops were.  Here’s my action plan that I’ve developed after attending the 2016 WPA:

  • Do a search of #2016WPA and start following the folks who generated posts from the convention on Twitter (and Instagram, if applicable.) I feel a bit like a social media whore if I start trying to friend strangers on Facebook, but Twitter is a better venue for this sort of thing. I’m doing this to make my social media platform more robust and potentially attractive to future literary agents.
  • Go through the business cards gathered and follow up with those people via social media or email.
  • I received a book from a conference attendee, as well as just bought one off of Amazon by a new friend/author I met at WPA. Read those books and write reviews for Amazon and Goodreads.
  • Email the instructors that offered PowerPoints and get those for my “Research” files.

In conclusion, and to quote my mom’s and my favorite movie “Shag,” I had “the most fun.”  My experience at WPA was a valuable one for my writing career (not to mention the fact that I totally fan-girled Tami Hoag and danced like a fool to the Spice Girls.)

I heard someone refer to WPA as “a writer’s Disneyland” and honestly … that’s pretty accurate.  It was a weekend well spent.  My sincere thanks to Lee and his team for a wonderful convention.

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random, Uncategorized

Friday Fare: Dreaming of spring

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 guess the biggest news of my week is that in August, I’m going to be caravan-ing with some fellow members of the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime and will be attending the Writers Police Academy in Green Bay, WI.  Or, as one of my fellow toddler moms/writers IM’d me: writers + guns + weekend without kids = AWESOME.

Have you written a good short story and want to submit it somewhere?  Check out this article from the Mystery Writers of America – New York Chapter. (While this is from an MWA chapter, there are some listings that aren’t limited to the mystery genre.)

If all goes well today, I plan on visiting this old coot tonight (Friday, 2/26/16) and cheer him on at his latest book signing.

Why yes, Chrissy Teigen’s new cookbook has nothing to do with writing, but this cookbook is going to make its way into my collection soon.  I just love her philosophy on food and her smackdowns on social media typically border on awesome, if not epic.

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Listening to: I’ve become something of a YouTube junkie.  I love to listen to NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts and shows from KEXP, a Seattle radio station.  This song from the Dave Rawlings Machine has been in pretty heavy rotation lately.

Reading: I read another J.D. Horn book in a day.  Then I revisited childhood with some a recent Christopher Pike novel.  (I was OBSESSED with him when I was a teenager.  I actually ordered one of my favorite books of his to rediscover why I liked him so much.)

Fiction Update: I finished my short story and I feel pretty good about it.  Even if it doesn’t make it to the anthology I’m pitching it for, I think it has legs and a chance elsewhere.  I really enjoyed the process of discovery with the story and characters.  I also enjoyed the discipline of taking something that started out at 5,700 words and trimming that down to a lean 3,900.  In terms of my larger projects, I ordered this book in preparation to start editing the next draft of AL.  That’s been on the back burner since July – I think it’s past time that I revisited it.

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random

Friday Fare: It’s on the Internet … must be true

Friday FareFriday Fare is my “best of” when it comes to Internet links that I’ve read this week.  And it’s been so long since I’ve written one of these, I had to look back to see the format!  Uff da.

Without further ado – these are the articles that caught my attention and maybe made me a smarter person this week:

Forbes ran an article about what is considered to be “on time,” “late,” etc.  I hate to admit this, but I’ve become terrible about making appointments on time.  I could blame my children because readying for an outing, loading two toddlers in a car, and refraining from drinking is probably the closest thing I’ll come to competing in a triathlon in my life, but this is something I need to be better about.

Lee Lofland, the mastermind/force behind the Writers’ Police Academy, published these “6 Police Apps for Writers.”  I’m upgrading to a better phone in October, I think some of these are going to find their way on my phone …

And this has nothing to do with writing, but a lot to do with who I am as a person … one of my all-time favorite movies is “Real Genius.”  And it turns 30 this year.  Kids and writing have cut back on my movie watching bandwidth, but “Real Genius” is a movie that I could watch over and over again.  It’s eminently quotable and it has Val Kilmer in it.

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Speaking of movies, I’m making time to take one in this weekend – Ricki and the Flash.  I’m not one of those people who fawn over every film that Meryl Streep makes (and honestly, I have never seen the older films that put her on the map), but some of my favorite movies from recent years feature her: “Julie and Julia” (dragged my hubby to that one, he didn’t complain) and “Mamma Mia!”  Plus Kevin Kline is in it … this can’t be a bad thing (“In and Out” is also one of my favorite movies.)

Otherwise, this is what has been inspiring me lately:

Listening to:  I’ve been on an Old Crow Medicine Show kick recently.  I went to see them in concert in May and it is in one of my top five shows.  Here are a couple of YouTube concerts that give a glimpse of how talented these guys are.

Reading:  Sheyna Galyan gave me an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of her latest book “Strength to Stand” (will be released on Sept. 1.).  And damn … it was a good read.  I’ll be posting a review on my Goodreads feed soon.  I’m also reading “Winter Garden” by Kristin Hannah.

Fiction Update: Right now, I’m filling the well back up and reading good books, getting ready to beta read a friend’s novel, and mentally weighing what project I want to start outlining next!

Happy Friday, friends!