A Fair to Remember – err, two actually

Lusting for a lip-smacking satisfying treat with no calories? I have just the thing! Upcoming not-to-be missed fairs, including “the big one,” feature local mystery authors (including me). Details below:

>Albert Park - In His Own Words

Albert Park – at Dodd and Smith

July 25, 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM

WEST ST PAUL, MINNESOTA

Art on the Avenue 2015

At Smith and Dodd Avenue

Smith Avenue comes alive again this summer with art, live music, food, crafts, children and adult entertainment and more! Come see me and other artists and vendors on July 25th from 4 to 8PM. Fun will happen at Albert Park, Doddway Shopping Center, Dodd Park and Smith Avenue. More details of my exact location coming, but the area is very walkable. Park and come find me! All three Arvo Thorson mysteries - Burnt Out, Broken Down, and Washed Up - will be available for purchase.

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Fun, food, and mystery at the great Minnesota get-together.

September 2, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM*

FALCON HEIGHTS, MINNESOTA

Minnesota State Fair

Carousel Park

Stop by the MELSA tent during Read and Ride day at the Fair to visit me along with other Twin Cities Sister in Crime authors. Sign up for giveaways! All three Arvo Thorson mysteries - Burnt Out, Broken Down, and Washed Up - will be available for purchase.

*I’ll post my shift time (a two-hour slot) soon!

Wanted: More Writing Prompts

The strange tale of a euphonium-playing animal-loving character named Tiffanie Brump captured the attention of Revolver‘s editors, who named me “Winner of WANTED 25.” Revolver called WANTED 25  “its most ambitious WANTED contest to date”.

My prize is three-month prompt-based SERIAL PROJECT on Revolver. I love writing prompts. They provide fresh inspiration, take my writer’s mind into new places I wouldn’t have thought of, and fresh, unexpected plots and characters always arise.

I think it’s going to be a fun assignment and have already received my first prompt. Watch for bi-weekly musings at Revolver, and while you’re waiting to see my  new serial, check out their other stories, poems, and projects. And watch for the next WANTED prompt. Always fun, whether you win or not!

Let’s Talk About Dialogue (See What I Did There?)

Susan Koefod:

Helpful dialogue stuff. Read it now!

Originally posted on ENEMY LINES: Dispatches from a Cranky Writer:

As a writer and an editor, I have a pile of pet peeves concentrated around dialogue. It seems so simple, and yet it trips up everyone from beginners to pros. Although the basic format long ago became second nature to me, I still find examples of most of my other pet peeves in my first drafts. Sometimes I find examples of these in my published work, and that really drives me nuts. So, what bugs me about dialogue? Let’s dig in ?

Talking Points
“Dialogue format is pretty simple,” said Bob. “But that doesn’t mean it’s easy for beginners.”
Sue nodded. “If you get confused, just grab a novel off your bookshelf to use as a guide.”
“What she said. And start a new paragraph for each speaker.”

The dialogue above demonstrates the two key attributes of the format: indenting for each person and indicating?when necessary!?who’s speaking with phrases outside…

View original 725 more words

Winter’s Revelations

IMG_1359Winter reveals the

wonder of trees –

lacy limbs dividing,

then dividing again,

branches curving high,

arching and bending,

narrowing into many

sturdy brown hands and fine fingers –

held open as if to

bless the wide blue sky.

 

Winter reveals the

beauty of breath –

frosts the steamy workings of

our hidden inner tree –

bronchi dividing to bronchioles

branching off,

finer and finer,

until the microscopic alveoli

perform their miracle –

lungs transform air into the blood,

praising in every breath,

blessing us with life.

Sorry To Rainbow On Your Parade (A Pastor Sets The Record “Straight” On The Gay Agenda)

Susan Koefod:

Oh no! They want to shop and eat and have families. My gosh, what next?

Originally posted on john pavlovitz:

Rainbow
Brace yourselves and gird your loins, true believers; I have some earth-shattering news.

I’ve long heard rumors of the homosexual community’s insidious master plan to contaminate and corrupt our sweet straight setup here, and one way or another, I decided I’d get to the bottom of it, once and for all.

As you may or may not know, I’ve been a pastor in the local church for the past 18 years; listening, counseling, observing. I’ve served at house churches and mega churches; at ones with pipe organs and ones with Marshall stacks; ones with wooden pews and ones with free WiFi. This vast and lengthy resume has given me unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to the hidden lives of tens of thousands of unsuspecting families. During that time, I’ve done some covert reconnaissance on our behalf, and the raw, naked truth I’ve uncovered? Well, it’s a game-changer, to say the least.

My friends, sadly I’m afraid that the horror…

View original 959 more words

Gardens Under Glass

 

43971923_fabe4c4ee5_zThe photo was taken almost ten years ago when my oldest son was first in Helsinki, and I thought of it this morning as I practiced meditative breathing exercises.

The beautiful flower bloomed inside the Helsinki Winter Garden, which is a place much like Saint Paul’s Como Park Conservatory: both transparent glass skins held together by metal bones, both housing carefully gardened ecosystems of  tropical plants and koi ponds.

There is nothing more restorative than a visit to one in winter.

You step inside such a place and, if you wear glasses, they are immediately fogged up, you become overheated but don’t really care, and the vibrant perfume of growing things saturates you in a healing way.

So it was the perfect day to visit the St. Paul Conservatory–especially now that we are in the thick of winter, experiencing one of the coldest days of the year. I needed the restoration it offered. I could imagine that many similar visits are being made these winter days in Helsinki – which can be even colder, and even darker than winter is in St. Paul

The Conservatory was the perfect place to practice my breathing exercises, by which I mean meditation –

Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in,

Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.

Nowhere are you more aware of the breath than when you are in such a place, so damp with the thick, wet breath of green things exhaling and inhaling.

As I walked through, occasionally pausing to sit and breathe–I thought how conservatories are much like our own bodies–fragile and resilient–in need of care in order to be remain balanced and vibrant. Beautiful.

I glimpsed a half-dozen gardeners working behind the scenes in staff-only greenhouses. Others stood watchfully in the bonsai room and elsewhere, making sure visitors kept a safe distance from the rarest plants.

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Now I am thinking of myself as both a winter garden and its gardener: I inhale and exhale calmly, protecting and maintaining the beauty within my fragile crystal skin and strong metal bones.

Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in,

Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.

Goodbye Facebook

Botón_Me_gusta.svgThe causalities are piling up: Facebook exits by several friends, some just as the New Year began (resolutions?), others over the past several months.

One was driven away on his significant other’s insistence, another out of some unexplained need to take a break for the year. Yet another left, claiming she was being stalked and her departure was at the insistence of legal authorities for her own protection.

Another friend comes and goes all the time, claiming the need to purge from the negativity showing up in her stream.

I joined Facebook as a writing career move, prodded by an agent to establish my social platform. Naturally, many of my online friends are other writers, doing the same. Now I’m having doubts too, and I know that others have long had the same. What I have to say here is nothing new, but I’ll say it anyway.

I do what all my writer friends are doing – posting links to my blog, reading updates, publishing updates, – you know – marketing myself. This is the dark side of being creative. The very antithesis of it. But part of being artist is performing your work (i.e., getting published, presenting readings), and marketing yourself is an entree to both of those ends.

Yet the creative urge is fed by lots of time alone with the work. And not all the time you spend talking about your work.

The flipside is that I am on the receiving end of all of my writer friends’ marketing efforts, and along with my happiness for them when they succeed there always comes a stab in my belly that I’m not keeping up, that I should be doing more, that I’m not getting published enough, that I’m not winning enough awards, getting the important reviews, etc, etc, etc.

And that’s just the thing.

Affirmation (in the form of a Facebook like or number of views) creates the need for more – it’s a vicious cycle –there is not enough affirmation (Facebook liking) in the world, for anyone to ever feel validated. Loved.

You can’t get true affirmation from an impersonal system masquerading as a community that is really trying to pitch ads at you and make money for a Faceless corporation.

I wish I could be one of those people who just posts and moves on, invested with a power ego that doesn’t care if people like or hate what they say. To be honest, that was my goal when I naively joined up. That I could be the real person that I am, express my real opinions, and be better for it.

But I’m neither being real, honest, or feeling better for it.

Writer Sherry Turkle says, Facebook is the place “where you show your best self. It’s a place for good news, not the place where you talk about your most vulnerable self.”

And it’s true: Susan – the public persona as seen on Facebook is nowhere close to the real person that I am. The Facebook Susan is a curated façade, intended to help market me as a writer and, I admit, to share my other personal successes for your stamp of approval.

sallyfield-meme-generator-you-like-me-you-really-like-me-1c90be

Again, this is not a new thought, just a realization of how artificial this community can be.

 

As much as I love to see my friends and family’s adorable baby and pet photos, as much as I do cherish new friends I’ve made only because of striking up a Facebook friendship, as much as I love to keep in touch with friends, old and new, I’m finding it harder and harder to give a thumbs up to the Facebook experience these days.

And I know I’m not alone. So there’s community in that, right?