Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Currently... Summer of Adventure Edition, Part 1

Welcome to another edition of Currently..., a quick and easy way to share what's going on. Thanks for the idea, Katy Upperman!

It's been a couple of months since I've written a Currently... post, and I'm hoping to get back to a regular schedule for the summer.

Here we go! 


Our Summer of Adventure. In May, I declared that this would be another Summer of Adventure, and we've already done a lot of fun - and new - things. The Summer of Adventure took an unexpected turn on June 20 when I was laid off from my full-time job, but I am definitely making the most of it!

We've spent a day in Duluth and on the North Shore, gone to Valleyfair for some amusement park thrills, and spent this past weekend at an RV campground with friends for the Fourth. We've hit up a couple of swimming pools and water parks, and we saw Finding Dory.

I am loving being at home with my kids this summer. It's also giving me a little more time for writing activities, which is always a bonus.


I also have more time for reading! I've read some wonderful books in the last couple of weeks, including TELL ME THREE THINGS by Julie Buxbaum and FINDING AUDREY by Sophie Kinsella, both of which I loved. I just received an ARC of Jennifer Niven's HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE.

Listening To

The Jayhawks on a constant loop. They are one of my all-time favorite bands and they came home to Minneapolis on Friday for Music in the Zoo. The concert was so fantastic. They have a new album out, Paging Mr. Proust, so I've had that on repeat with a few classics thrown in to the mix as well. More than any other band, the Jayhawks have inspired me and my writing.

I've seen them live many times over the last 21 years, and I finally got myself a T-shirt:

Thinking About

I've been thinking about getting a new job, of course, and the wonderful things that are in store with the book coming out next April, and I've been thinking about the WIP that I'm finally able to go back to after a long break. I've joined a cabin for Camp NaNoWriMo and hope to have my draft finished by the end of the month.


More summer fun! We've got much more planned, including our annual family vacation in Hayward, Wisconsin, some time up north, and Scout camp for me and Toad. I'm going to throw in a few more day trips, too, before I go back to work: Lark Toys in Kellogg, Minnesota, the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota, and the Pipestone National Monument. Also! Next week is the much-anticipated Biren Family Reunion, with cousins coming to Minneapolis from all over the US and Canada.

Making Me Happy

The amazing, generous, brilliant people of the Swanky Seventeens make me happy. Last Monday, I hopped in the Vue and drove six hours (and back!) to meet up with Swanks Jilly Gagnon and Dave Connis for coffee in Sheboygan, WI. It was worth every minute on the road. I hope to meet many more Swanks along the way.

Here's hoping you're having an awesome Summer of Adventure!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Summer Special :: SP Critique & Editing Services

There are a lot of great things on the horizon for me this summer, and I'm happy to announce that this includes additional openings for editing clients!

Book now for July or August and save 15% on all services! And if you're looking for a manuscript edit or critique, you'll receive a complimentary query critique whenever you're ready for it.

Learn more about the services I offer HERE and email me to discuss your project!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Currently... Swanky Edition

Welcome to another edition of Currently, a quick and easy way to share what's going on. Thanks for the idea, Katy Upperman!


I have been absolutely loving the Swanky 17 Photo Challenge on Instagram. For 10 days, the Swanky 17s (a group of debut Middle Grade and Young Adult authors with books releasing in 2017) have been sharing images related to books and writing and it's WONDERFUL. You should definitely check it out at the hashtag #Swanky17PhotoChallenge.

I loved getting back into the Instagram habit - and the timing was perfect to think about THE LAST THING YOU SAID as I finished edits on it last week! Here's a wrap-up on Storify of my Photo Challenge posts - I made nine of the ten prompts.


I just finished DREAM ON by Kerstin Gier, the second book in The Silver Trilogy. You probably know of my extreme love for Gier's RUBY RED, SAPPHIRE BLUE, and EMERALD GREEN, and I love this trilogy almost as much. Liv and her sister Mia are so awkward and charming and funny, and Henry - the boy of Liv's actual dreams - really is a dream. As soon as the audiobook is available, I'll listen to that, too.

How sad that I have to wait another year for the third book, but at least I have the recipe for their German au pair Lottie's All-The-Year-Round Vanilla Crescents and that should comfort me.

Next up: working my way through the 28 books I put on hold at the library, about half of which have arrived.


Hammer Guy and I went to Purple Rain with friends. It had been a long time since I'd seen it - so long, in fact, that when I was looking for the DVD, he reminded me that we only owned the VHS. (Must correct that soon.) I was newly impressed by the storyline and the Kid's character arc. Yes, there is quite a bit of cheesy 80s background music, but it's worth a watch if you haven't seen it or it's been a while. Did I cry? Of course I did.

Listening To

The new Jayhawks album, Paging Mr. Proust. Ah, it's so good. Takes me back to the Sound of Lies days, early in my Best Buy career, when I spent three or four nights a week seeing live bands. We also just purchased tickets to see the Jayhawks in July. It's been a few years, so I'm really looking forward to it.

I've also started to recreate all the playlists I lost on Spotify - finally. I started with the playlist for THE LAST THING YOU SAID and am working my way through other WIPs and such.



Thinking About

Summer. Please let it be here soon. We need a change of season - and the kids need to catch up on their sleep.


Our annual end-of-school trip to Duluth and the North Shore. I haven't worked out the details just yet, but I'm looking forward to the weekend away in mid-June.

Making Me Happy

It's finally spring here in Minnesota - and that's making me very happy. I live outside of the metro area, so I'm surrounded by lakes and trails and farm fields. I spent some time on Mother's Day at a couple of my favorite parks and I feel so lucky for it.

Minnesota makes me happy and it always will.

Lake Rebecca Park Reserve

 What's currently going on with you?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Currently... Purple Rain Edition

Welcome to another edition of Currently, a quick and easy way to share what's going on. Thanks for the idea, Katy Upperman!



I have been thinking about Prince for days. The world was shocked and saddened by the news of his death last Thursday, nowhere more than his home state of Minnesota.

I have been thinking about Prince for days, but I'm not sure that I am ready to write about how his death has impacted me. I have been thinking about Prince for days, and crying, and listening to his music and to the rain as it falls over our saddened state.

Photo credit: Erin Pampusch-Bandy

I will say this: although I am not a super fan like many people I know, his loss has been very difficult. I loved a lot of his songs and I admired his creative genius and musical talent. Minnesota was his home, no matter how worldy and famous he became. He was born here, he lived here, he died here. Prince loved his home state, and we loved him. Minnesota was a better place because he lived. The world was a better place because he lived.

I was sick over the weekend, so didn't get a chance to visit Paisley Park or First Avenue, but I will soon. Many thanks to my friend Erin Pampusch-Bandy who did - all of the Prince images here are hers.


Prince. See above. Special thanks to The Current (the MOST awesome listener-supported public radio music station) for devoting themselves to such intelligent, thoughtful coverage, and for Prince A-W. Please check out their blog post, Around the World in a Day: 64 photos documenting the 24 hours following Prince's death.


Minnesota. See above. I love how our state has come together in mourning and celebration, how the death of this one man has brought us together in our shared grief. I am and will always be #MinnesotaProud.


I must tell you that I picked up a copy of THE RAVEN KING on Saturday afternoon, but I will say NO MORE... for now.


Prince. I am happy that he existed. This video is the story of one of my favorite Super Bowl half-time performances (even though I was NOT okay with his Dolphins-colored suit):

Thank you, Prince. Rest in peace and power.

Yeah, everything is beautiful.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Currently... Take a Hike Edition

Welcome to another edition of Currently, a quick and easy way to share what's going on. Thanks for the idea, Katy Upperman!


As I mentioned in my last post, I listen to a lot of instrumental music while I'm editing. I'm still in a major proofreading whirlwind for one of my clients. I recently added Film Scores Radio on
Pandora and I absolutely love it. Lots of Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Pride and Prejudice, and one of my favorite scores, Dances with Wolves.


Last week, Birdy and I finally finished our read aloud of CHAMBER OF SECRETS and started AZKABAN. This is taking forever with the girl. Toad and I had finished the entire series in the amount of time it has taken Birdy and I to read the first two books. Part of it, I think, is that she has seen the first three movies, whereas with Toad, he was not allowed to see the movie until we'd finished the book. So we'll see if we move along any more quickly once we hit GOBLET.


Just heard the news that the Star Wars Original Trilogy will be in theaters this summer! Can't wait to take the kids.


February teased us with warm temperatures, but April has been a joke. It's been cold and windy and I'm wishing for spring. Please hurry


This past weekend was one of my favorite Boy Scout events of the year, the Take a Hike Campout. This year we had 17 Scouts, ranging from brand-new additions to the Troop to Eagle candidates. We stay in a "camper cabin" with nice bunks and bathroom facilities. I was the only female on the trip. Because I was on deadline, I spent most of my time working while the Scouts did their thing, and I'm sorry that I had to miss some of the activities, but overall, it was a great weekend. It's a great group of kids.

The "currently" photo is of the Scouts waiting for their time on the Climbing Tower. Below is a photo of Toad (right) with his friend Adam. They've been in Scouts together since first grade. Seeing them grow and advance together in Scouts makes me happy.

My post is a few hours late due to technical difficulties... but it works out because today is my FIVE YEAR Blog-iversary! Stay tuned - I hope to throw together a giveaway early next week!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Currently... First Post of the New Year

It's been so long since I've written a blog post, but I miss it and want to get back to posting at least semi-regularly.

So I thought a quick way to get caught up would be to join in on the Currently fun as inspired by Katy Upperman. If you don't know Katy, you should - she writes the most deliciously swoony YA romance and her debut, KISSING MAX HOLDEN, will be out in 2017. Plus, she's amazingly kind and generous.


I'm combining these two categories to tell you that how much I am loving The Winner's Trilogy. I planned my reread of THE WINNER'S CURSE and THE WINNER'S CRIME very carefully and strategically based on my vacation days and editing workload. I finished the second book Friday night at my in-laws' in Wisconsin.. I checked the stock of the THE WINNER'S KISS, which officially released today, at the La Crosse Barnes & Noble, and knowing that Macmillan doesn't always have a hard sell date, took my chances. I had that beautiful book in my hands by 10 am on Saturday. I was so happy to return to Kestrel and Arin's world, even if it did cause me copious amounts of agony. And I will say no more, as I am aware that many of you pre-ordered and your orders shipped today.


Because I've been doing a lot of freelance proofreading, I've been listening to a lot of classical music lately. I love hearing new pieces and love hearing familiar melodies. Some remind me of movies, like The Seven Year Itch and The Cutting Edge. Therefore...


The Cutting Edge is one of my all-time favorite movies and it was on the brain when I pulled up Amazon Prime tonight to watch something while I did a monotonous, time-consuming task with a paper cutter. I've watched about half of it. I still know every line. The Minnesota Machine - I mean, what more do you need? I was living in Duluth, Minnesota when that movie came out. Sadly, there is no radio station called WICE, but Doug Dorsey was a real guy. I mean, obviously Doug is fictional, but I've known a lot of guys like him over the years. Hockey is a big deal in this state.

The movie is so wondrously early-90s. Never change, Cutting Edge.

Toe pick!


Edits and taxes and client work and work-work. Scouts and summer plans. So much life maintenance.


Last week was spring break. We only get one about every four years in our school district, so we took advantage of it and went up north for a few days. We stayed at Breezy Point Resort in the Brainerd Lakes area. I know I've written about that area many times. It's where I found inspiration for the setting of THE LAST THING YOU SAID. In fact, geographically speaking, Cloud 9 is very close to where Breezy Point would be, and a very similar resort with a very similar ice cream/coffee shop makes an appearance in COLD DAY IN THE SUN (the manuscript formerly known as KEYS). Hanging out in Pequot Lakes and Nisswa and at Breezy Point always makes me very happy. The photo of the boats above is from the Towering Pines Resort on Clamshell Lake, where I spent many happy hours as a child every summer.

The view from our deck at Breezy Point

I hope you are well - and I hope to start making the blog rounds regularly very soon. What's currently making YOU happy?

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ten Awesome Things :: 2015 Edition

Tonight, my family and I are in Wisconsin celebrating a quiet New Year's Eve Around the World. It's become a tradition to choose a different country each year that inspires our menu. This year, we celebrated Italian style. We had antipasto and spaghetti and balsamic bruschetta and cookies with cannoli dip. There's a bottle of Prosecco chilling in the snowbank. If the kids can stay up (who am I kidding?), they will ring in the new year with Italian sodas.
It's been a good year. I'm grateful for so many things, especially my family and friends and the supportive writing community. My days are full, but I wouldn't want it any other way.


Here's a list of Ten Awesome Things that Happened in 2015, in no particular order:

10. Toad started drum lessons and joined the middle school jazz band and both kids are continuing with piano. There's a lot of music in our house.

9. Birdy joined Cheer, which is a new world for me, but the fact that she is so HAPPY makes me happy.

8. Trips to the lake - we were so lucky to spend so much time this year at various lakes around Minnesota and Wisconsin - time along Lake Superior in Duluth, a quick trip to Mille Lacs Lake for me, a week at Placid Lake in Hayward, WI, some time at Breezy Point Resort on Pelican Lake, and a weekend at Cragun's on Gull Lake in November. (2016 is looking good for this, too!)

Brighton Beach, Lake Superior

We met an old friend on the streets of Nisswa

7. Our day at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival is always one of my favorite days of the year. It's magical.

6. Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We went as a family the night before the official premiere and my heart was overflowing with joy at the fact that these people share my love of Star Wars.

5. Scouts - the kids are having a great time in their Troops and I've become more involved.

4. My work schedule has been really flexible and now I'm able to work from home every afternoon.

3. The YA Buccaneers and The Swanky Seventeens have allowed me to make even more connections in the writing community.

2. I read some really amazing books this year.

1. My book deal, announced in May. My YA novel THE LAST THING YOU SAID will be published by ABRAMS - Amulet Books in spring of 2017. It's my dream come true. 

As I look ahead to 2016, I'm keenly aware of the busy-ness of my life lately, and I want to slow down the pace a bit. I'm involved in a lot of organizations and volunteer opportunities, and while I want to continue with them, I know that if I don't trim my to-do list, my stress level will increase and my health will suffer.

So I'm going to continue with a practice I started mid-year. Each morning, I write down Three Good Things from the previous day, decide what one thing I'll do to decrease stress (which could mean meditating or doing yoga or crossing something non-essential off my to-do list), and decide what one thing I'll do to work toward my dream. I'm going to take it a step further and be more consistent with daily meditation and trying to work in exercise.

Overall, my goal for the year is to SIMPLIFY. That's my word for 2016. I may have a lot on my plate, but there are things I can do to work toward my goal to simplify - starting with the things that clutter up our home and our lives. I'm going to work hard this year to reduce our belongings and simplify our routines.

Like this year, 2016 is going to be a good one.

Best wishes for an amazing year.