Friday, March 31, 2006

The Best Night of the Week




I don't watch t.v.

With one exception...

Friday night. The best night of the week. Work is done, two blissful days of freedom loom ahead, and my BBC comedies are on PBS.

Judi Dench is my favorite actress, and she stars in As Times Goes By with Geoffrey Palmer. She was a nurse and he was a soldier during the Korean War. When he left for war, she stayed behind in England and they wrote letters to one another. But one of those letters went astray, and so did their relationship.

Thirty-eight years later, they meet again and their romance is rekindled!

I absolutely adore this show. It's brilliantly written, intelligent, and always makes me feel wonderful after I watch it. Precious few shows have been able to do this, and that's why I reserve Friday nights for this particular show.

But the other BritComs are hilarious, too. There's Keeping Up Appearances with Mrs. Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced "Bouquet") and her hen-picked husband, Richard. One Foot in the Grave features Victor Meldrew, a stubborn, grouchy old codger who never fails to make his wife furious with his antics. Then there's the classic Are You Being Served? that takes place in a department store with Captain Peacock, the floor manager, Mrs. Slocombe with her variously tinted hair-do's, and a whole host of eccentric employees.

I've also been sort of an Anglophile, but I started watching BritComs on my PBS station back in junior high. I love the simplicity of them, the brand of humor, and the acting.

So tonight, I'll indulge in a bit of chocolate, cuddle up on the couch with my daughter (who also loves BritComs, even though she's only five!) and enjoy my shows. Then starting tomorrow, it's back to writing!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mission: Write

The cupboards are stocked with food. The house is relatively clean. The laundry is done (although not folded).

It's time to write.

It's amazing how I can be away from my novel for a few days and start to feel withdrawel symptoms. But yet, once I sit down at the keyboard, I fear that the old "brick wall syndrome" will emerge.

I'm determined to fight it tonight. In fact, I'm determined to just sit down and let the words flow.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

One Page

That's how much I wrote last night. In my defense, it was single-spaced. ;-)

Thankfully, I took a shower before I finished the scene, otherwise I would have veered off into dangerous territory. Isn't it funny how thoughts hit you while you're doing mundane things? I've come up with some great ideas in the shower - I've heard of other writers doing the same. Last night I knew I had a problem with the scene I was working on. And just as I turned off the water, the solution hit me - maybe it was helped by the cold air - but I knew I couldn't travel down this particular road in my manuscript.

As I was madly typing away, hubby called. As I told him about the retribution I had planned for my villain, I heard a big sigh on the other end of the line.

"What?" I said, somewhat defensively.

"Well, that's so...typical."

"Typical?" I shouted. Ok, maybe not shouted, but my voice definitely raised an octave.

"Now don't get upset. You asked for my opinion."

"Yeah, I did," I grumbled. "Ok, tell me what your idea is."

"Well, it's gotta be full of action! Y'know, the hero confronts the villain, there's a big fight, and the villain doesn't just give up like a wuss. No...he has to keep fighting!"

"Um, do you want the villain to win?"

"Well, no."

"Then why can't I do it my way?"

Another long sigh. "Well, your way is...boring."

"BORING?" (Yes, I shouted this time.)

"Hey, it's your book!"

So now I've thought about how I've planned the villain's demise, and I wonder if it has enough action to entertain the hubby. Maybe I'll throw in a good fight scene just for him. ;-)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Waddya think?

It's a New Look!

I've been wanting a new blog template for awhile, but I'm really picky. I finally decided on this particular one and Rene kindly did the technical stuff for me. :-)

I would like to learn more about HTML and web design, but when I think about doing it, it just seems so overwhelming. Maybe if I could learn a bit at a time, it wouldn't be too bad.

This Month's RWR

If you are a member of RWA and received the Romance Writer's Report, check out the PROgress article by Barbara Samuels in the new issue. Even if you're NOT a PRO, you'll benefit from it! She talks about "serving the work." And I think I've found my new favorite quote: "Do it honestly. With your whole heart."

Why The Day Job Really Stinks Sometimes

Ever feel like the workday is never going to end? Ever want to up and walk out on the job because you're BORED and would rather go home and take a nap? That was me today. I had work to do, but I'd lost interest in it by 10 a.m. NOT a good thing. Then I thought about my novel and how badly I wanted to work on it, but it appears that large chunks of time do not a productive Melissa make. So I decided that I'm going to devote a good hour to my writing tonight - thus, my daughter will definitely be in bed early! And as long as the dog cooperates (i.e. doesn't beg me to take him outside or otherwise entertain him), I should be able to write a few pages, at least.

Thanks for the Comments!

Forgive me for not responding to each of you individually - some days are better than others in that regard. But please know that I appreciate each and every one of you who visits my blog and takes the time to comment. :-)

Writing = Pounding Head on Keyboard

Saturday afternoon, I had the place to myself. Just my dog and I. Hubby had my daughter over at his house and I had seven hours stretched out before me with uninterrupted bliss.

My plans included writing, writing, and writing...and taking a very long walk.

But when I sat down at the keyboard, it felt forced. Like trying to squeeze blood out of a turnip, as the old saying goes. And it was so frustrating for me. Here I was, with all this time on my hands, and I couldn't get the words to flow!

I decided to take a nap - just a short one, I promised myself - to maybe work through my plot problems. And I won't lie to you - that nap was heavenly. It was also FOUR HOURS LONG!

I wasn't happy when I woke up and saw the time. But instead of moping about, I put on my walking shoes and my dog and I went for a nice, long walk. When I came back home, I sat down at my computer and typed out the rest of my plot.

Yesterday I managed to write half a page and again, I felt like I was banging my head on the wall. Why, I thought, am I having trouble when I know what I need to write? That's how I like it, after all - I need to have the scene in my head before I sit down at the computer. But for some reason, I wasn't letting go of my inner editor - and writing the bare bones, like I blogged about a few days ago.

I hope tonight will be different, and I can encourage my inner editor to take a hike. :-)

Friday, March 24, 2006

It's the Little Things

I went for a week without a washer and a dryer when I first moved into my apartment. I hated it. I hated having to lug my laundry over to my mom's place and then lug it back. I wanted the convenience and the peace of mind of having my own washer and dryer.

I can't believe how relieved I felt when I finally did get that washer and dryer in my apartment. I loved the feeling of knowing that I could just throw a load of clothes in and not have to worry about it.

Unfortately, the washing machine died quietly last night. I had just put in a load of clothes, it had filled with water, and then...nothing. So as of this morning, those clothes are still in the washing machine full of water because if I take them out at this point, they might start to stink. ARGH. Thankfully, there is a 90-day warranty on my washer. I hope it can get fixed before the weekend hits.

I can't believe how upset I was over it. I need a washer and dryer. I can get by without a dishwasher - I did for years. I can get by without a microwave. Heck, I can even get by without a television. But my washer and dryer? No way!

Needless to say, I didn't get any writing done last night. It wasn't that great of a day anyway, and the washer breaking was the icing on the cake, so to speak.

But today is a new day, right? :-)

UPDATE!!!

The washing machine is FIXED! It was the motor - and thank the Lord that the mechanic was able to do it today. I didn't want to go through the whole weekend without it!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Writing the Bare Bones

I've come to the realization that I cannot write a perfect scene the first time around. Instead, I have to get my bare basics down on the page. As the great Nora said, "You can't fix nothing."

How true.

Last night I wrote a very pivotal scene in my story. I really struggled through it, trying to convey the characters' deep emotions. But the longer I struggled, the more I realized that I didn't need to make it perfect. By allowing myself the freedom to just get the words down on the page, I was able to finish the scene and tonight, I plan to go back and edit.

I find that this has normally been my reason for writer's block. I would much rather get it perfect the first time around so that I can keep writing and not have to go back and edit later. But that's not what writing is all about. There are several quotes floating around about how writing is 99% rewriting. And it really is. In fact, one of my favorite quotes (and forgive me - I'm not sure who said it) is, "The great thing about writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon."

I try to remember that. And really, it's a blessing to be able to go back and change, rewrite, fix the spelling, insert more character emotions, whatever, because that way we can make it exactly how we want it without the pressure to produce something perfect the first time. Of course, there also must come a time when we say "enough" with the revisions and move on. That is the tricky balance.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Digging Out

It took me a good fifteen minutes this morning to get all the snow off of my car. While there's still plenty of it on the roof of my car, I did manage to back out of the parking lot, take my daughter to daycare, and get to work. But I'm not alone - I think the whole state of Nebraska has been digging out all day yesterday and today.

It's a very wet snow and luckily, it didn't freeze last night. Otherwise, the roads would have been pure ice. We desperately need the moisture, however, so this snow is perfect for that. It will take a few days to melt and soak into the ground, but it will be worth it. The entire state got blasted with snow - my brother lives 450 miles away and he also got almost two feet of snow. The interstate was closed from one end of the state to the other - we had 14 inches here in town.

I did manage to get quite a bit done on the writing front yesterday and last night. I stayed up late to work on the novel since our office didn't open until 10 a.m. Nice to sleep in!

Monday, March 20, 2006

And It's Still Snowing

So I'm staying home. Not by choice. My daughter has a bad cold and is sleeping in my bed right now. She woke up just before I fell asleep last night, crying and scared. Not sure why, but she crawled into bed with me.

I woke up this morning to more of the white stuff. I had no desire to go outside, but the dog must do his duty, after all, so we trudged out there at 7 a.m. Brrrrrr!!!

I'm working at home today - thank goodness I have a job where I can do that. It is such a blessing.

I did accomplish quite a bit yesterday on the writing front. But I doubt I'll get to it today - we've been pretty busy at work.

Weekend was good. Hubby and I rented Walk the Line - I really enjoyed it. Last night I popped in the movie Chocolat and thus had to eat a bit of sugar-free chocolate wafers, but hey, it's still chocolate, right?

Hope you have a good Monday!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

It's Snowing in March

But that's not all that unusual for Nebraska.

It's a beautiful snow - very wet with thick flakes. I'm looking out my window as I type this and the branches of the pine trees are loaded down with snow. We desperately need the moisture and we've barely had any snow this winter, so I don't really mind. Besides, I have no plans to leave the house today. :-)

We're forecasted to get blasted through tomorrow. Unfortunately, it's spring break for the schools around here, so a snow day isn't in the cards. Unless it's bad enough that the daycare closes - then I can stay home!

Worked on the novel yesterday and plan to do so again today - in fact, I've got my laptop set up right next to my desktop. Kind of a weird system, but hey, it works. :-)

Friday, March 17, 2006

In One Month...

I lost...

(wait for it)



(are you sitting down)



(ready?)



THIRTEEN POUNDS.

My doctor hugged me, I nearly cheered, and I had a huge grin on my face when I walked out of the doctor's office. I also get to go off of my cholesterol meds and now I have to take Omega 3 fish oil and cinnamon pills. The cinnamon will have two benefits - it will help regulate my insuline and it will also help with my cholesterol.

I'm not going shopping for a new wardrobe yet - but I am very excited that the clothes that were once tight are becoming a lot looser.

This was the PERFECT news to get on a Friday!!!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I'm Going to RWA National

I just registered for RWA's National Conference yesterday. The money came through (via hubby - thank you!!!) and now I just have to save for my plane ticket and hotel fees. I'll be sharing a room with two other gals from my chapter, saving me even more money.

I am so excited! I have tried and tried to go to this conference every year, but finances always seemed to get in the way. This year, I was really worried the whole marriage implosion would further affect my chances to go. But it looks like I will be traveling to Atlanta in July. And remember that dress I wore for hubby's Christmas party? It will be perfect for the RITA Awards!!! (Unless, of course, I keep losing the weight. Then I'll either have to get it re-sized or go shopping again!)

I'm sure I'll be asking those of you who have been to RWA conference some questions and I'll also look forward to meeting some fellow bloggers who plan to attend this year!

I did manage to make a bit of progress on my plot problems last night. I love how it continues to stew in my brain while I'm doing other tasks. This morning, as I got into the car after dropping off my daughter at daycare, another intriguing idea hit me that I might be able to use.

It's Thursday - one more day until Friday, the best day of the week. I hope I can get a lot accomplished on the writing front this weekend.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Jumpin' for Joy!

When I woke up this morning, I didn't know what to wear. So I walked into my closet and thought, well, let's just try on this pair of black jeans and see what happens.

They fit.

Not only did they fit, but they were comfy enough to wear to work!

I haven't been able to wear this particular pair of jeans for probably two years!

I don't know how many pounds I've lost, but I know I'm losing inches. I was so excited I literally jumped up and down in my apartment. When I woke up my daughter, I told her about it, as well, and I said, "Mommy's tummy is starting to go away!" and she hugged me and said, "You're going to be skinny!" :-)

I just have to remind myself that it's going to take time to lose it all, but I love seeing results right now, no matter how small they may be.

In Writing News...

Did some research last night, but no writing. I was wiped out and just sat on the couch and read a book. I've come to a sticky plot point and I've been trying to work it out in my mind during odd moments of the day. Hopefully I'll find a solution soon.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

One of those days...

I wish I could just go home and write. Forget the day job. Forget bills. Forget marriage problems and money problems.

Just immerse myself in my manuscript.

Maybe go to Barnes & Noble and write for awhile, then switch to a picnic table at the park, or even just plant myself on my couch with music playing in the background, a pair of comfy sweats on, with my Diet Pepsi and dark chocolate nearby.

Strange, how when those days actually present themselves, it's very hard to get to that point - to actually sit down and do what you've dreamed of doing. It's more the thought of the dream than the dream itself.

Is that what it will be like when I am finally published? Will reality smack me in the face like a wet fish? (Ewww...)

I've held the dream of being published since I was in the sixth grade. That's a long time. And in that time, I know I've built up certain expectations. I doubt all of those expectations will come true. But still...I'll take the reality right along with the dream. I can do no less.

Monday, March 13, 2006

To Recap

Sounds like you all were busy this weekend! I had a fair amount of down time and was able to get some more stuff hung up in the apartment. A few of my friends stopped by on Saturday to chat and one gave me a beautiful Victorian picture that she no longer wanted. It goes perfect with my living room decor! Thanks, Brenda!!!

My washer and dryer were delivered on Satuday and it is such a blessing to have them in my apartment. Prayer really works! I had prayed that I would be able to afford a good washer and dryer and God provided! :-)

The date with hubby went well on Saturday. We had a nice dinner - grilled salmon, yum! - and then went over to Barnes & Noble. Nice time.

And yesterday...ah...I got to write. I spent the majority of the evening working on my manuscript since my daughter was over at hubby's house painting her brother's room. I absolutely loved being able to immerse myself in my fictional world again. I also decided to print out my revisions just in case something happened to the laptop and I lost all that hard work. The new printer did great, until I jumped the gun and added paper at the wrong time, resulting in a big-time paper jam. After I took nearly the entire thing apart to get the paper out, it worked just fine.

Tonight I'm off to continue my work-out routine. I took last week off just to recover from the move and give myself some time to settle in. But now I'm ready to get more of this weight off!

Friday, March 10, 2006

What are you doing this weekend?

It's Friday and the atmosphere at the office is pretty much, well, Friday-ish.

Since I'm not in a frame of mind to come up with anything close to philosophical, I just thought I'd list what I'm doing over the weekend.

1) Installing my new washer and dryer (well, new to me, but they're not new, but used)

2) Decorating my apartment with all my family photos, etc., etc.

3) Buying a vacuum.

4) Going out on a date with hubby on Saturday night to discuss things.

5) WRITING!!!

Have a great weekend, everyone!!!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

An Intriguing Honor

Yesterday, the former president of my chapter emailed me to ask if I would like to speak at a short story awards ceremony held every year in honor of one of Nebraska's authors.

"Sure!" I said, then immediately wondered if I'd made the right decision.

But I'm actually quite excited by the whole thing, even though I know my nerves will probably be a little on edge. I'm going to speak on historical research and writing, and I hope I can make it both humorous and entertaining.

Even though Bess Streeter Aldrich was born in Iowa, she and her husband moved to a small town in Nebraska called Elmwood. It was here that she set many of her short stories and novels. http://www.lincolnne.com/nonprofit/bsaf/bio.html

This event doesn't happen until April. But coincidentally, I'm also a volunteer judge at Nebraska's National History Day state competition on the same day. I've judged the event before and it's so much fun to see how the kids interpret history. I'm judging the performance division again this year - the kids write and act their own skit that follows the theme for the year.

In Writing News...

Not much to report. I thought about my story last night, but other than that, I haven't dug out the laptop since the move. I hope to do that this weekend. In fact, I will do it this weekend!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Tryin' to Catch Up!

Early yesterday morning, my daughter woke me from a sound sleep (ok, half-way sound since my dog had demanded he needed to go outside right now a half hour earlier) and announced that she had to throw up. Big sigh.

So we stayed home yesterday. And I didn't have the Internet. Thankfully, that little problem was remedied today and I'm glad to report that I am online at home. I felt disconnected from the world without it!

Needless to say, I'm swamped at work today, but I did finish judging my contest entries and made significant progress on rearranging my bedroom yesterday. My daughter is feeling much better (after sleeping until 3 p.m. yesterday! Yes, I was worried!).

Tonight I need to go over to my mom's and do laundry since I do not yet have a washer and dryer. I also need to go pick up my mattress at the furniture store that just happens to be clear across town.

And writing? Sigh...I hope I can do it this weekend!!!

Anyway, I wanted to apologize for not visiting your blogs lately. I promise to remedy that and SOON.

Thanks for bearing with me!

Monday, March 06, 2006

I Have A New Home

Literally.

I took Thurday and Friday off and moved into an apartment with my daughter.

Unfortunately, the reasons for doing so are not so grand. My husband and I separated.

I won't go into the gory details because let's face it - I'm sick to death of thinking about it. Suffice to say that it was time. Seven years is long enough to go through what I've been going through. Now that's not to say it was all bad because it most certainly wasn't - there were absolutely wonderful times. But when you're caught in a cycle, those wonderful times always disappear and the "bad" times creep up.

I found a great deal on a two bedroom apartment that is just across the street from my daughter's daycare and my mom's apartment. It's only a mile from work and I can have my dog.

Now my office is in my bedroom and I can look out the window while I write. And I can't wait to get back into writing. When you are in a situation that sucks the energy out of you, finding time to do much of anything becomes difficult.

Where the marriage will go from here is unclear. I'm open to anything right now. But some major changes need to happen.

But just being able to distance myself from the situation has helped tremendously. I feel lighter, more clear-headed, and healthier. I'm actually losing weight! With my new eating habits and exercising, I have more energy than I've had in awhile and my clothes are starting to reflect the changes. I know the stress I was under contributed to my health. But now I feel much more in control.

I might even ignore the boxes stacked haphazardly around the apartment and open up my laptop tonight. :-)

Didn't mean to keep you all in suspense, especially for a message that wasn't all that great! But I'm doing just fine - and I can't wait to catch up with all of you!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Big Changes A'Comin!

Lots going on in my life right now...and I'll give you all the news in a few days when things settle down. Unfortunately, none of my big news has to do with my writing career. Rather, it's life itself. :-)

I'll see ya in a few days...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

That First Page

The first page of the book is perhaps the most important. It is here that potential readers sometimes look to see if they're immediately hooked by your story, or if they like your writing style and voice.

For awhile now, I've thought about the beginning of my book and how it just doesn't have that zing.

But to tell you the truth, I've put off changing it because I'm just plain sick of looking at it. I've polished it for contests, polished it for agents, polished it until if I look at it one more time I'll throw it into a blazing fire. (After saving a copy to the hard-drive, of course.)

After I came home from my chapter meeting last night, I sat in the living room, eating a bowl of cereal (Oatmeal squares, not yummy Captain Crunch, but oh well), and the solution to my problem suddenly hit me. And I wanted to get on the computer and write.

Unfortunately, I was exhausted and in no mood to stay up past 10 p.m. And to tell you the truth, when I collapsed into bed, I completely forgot about my idea.

Until this morning at work. Then I remembered. And got this silly grin on my face.

Maybe, just maybe, I'll get a chance to write it today since work is pretty darn slow. :-)

It's Time

I've had this blog for over 10 years. But I'm finding that I go to it less and less. Maybe it's the death of blogging that broug...