Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trends and Fiction


Here's a question.

How does a trend become a trend? For awhile, chick lit was super hot. Now, according to Stephanie Bond and other sources, chick lit is well, not hot. Werewolves, vampires, and anything with paranormal elements is super hot (in the romance world anyway).

Here's my humble opinion on the subject. A trend becomes a trend when an agent/editor/publishing house takes a chance on something new and innovative. Bridget Jones by Helen Fielding was probably one of the first break-out chick lit books (and I loved both of them). And then, suddenly the market was flooded with chick lit. It boomed for a few years, but now, the popularity has suddenly dropped.

Regency-historical novels continue to be popular. Have you seen the boom of Jane Austen-related books? There's even a few movies about Jane Austen and her life, and not adaptations of her stories.

So here's something I don't quite understand when it comes to World War II fiction. I've had agents pass on my manuscript because "World War II is a hard sell at the moment." Well...ok. But then I point to the success of Ken Follett, Alan Furst, Jack Higgins, and...

Wait a minute. Those are all male writers. Female novelists who write about World War II are few and far in between. Why is that? The most obvious answer, of course, would be that men generally are more interested in military subjects, i.e. war.

BUT...

Wars involve everyone - man, woman, child. World War II saw the advent of women, especially American women, enterting the workforce, of keeping the homefront going while their men went off to war. Women were in the military, too - as WACS, as WAVES, as army nurses, as airplane pilots, and yes, even as spies. Books abound on women's role during World War II. I should know - I have most of them!

Yet World War II fiction written by women continues to fall short of the male novelists' output. The inspirational market has more World War II-set fiction than the secular, and though there are a few female novelists that have written secular war fiction - Anita Shreve, Pam Jenoff, and Morag McKendrick Pippin - the balance is clearly in the men's favor.

This whole idea intrigues - and frustrates me. I have so many tales I want to tell about World War II - but is the market there?

I believe it is. Look at the popularity of Hollywood movies like Saving Private Ryan, Pearl Harbor, Black Book, and Schindler's List, to name a few. Ken Burns' documentary was hugely successful. History books on new subjects of the war continue to be released every month. The interest is there.

I can think of only one solution to getting the powers-that-be in the publishing industry to sit up and take notice of our need for World War II fiction written by women - write a great book. A high-concept book. A book that will spark a new trend.

You know that burn-out I had last week? Well, consider it gone. I now feel like I have a mission - to write a book that will spark a revolution of sorts, one that will open the market to more novels set during WW2 written by women.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on World War II fiction. Ever read any? Have any desire to read any? Do you have any ideas on why it's not a big seller in women's fiction?

(And if you would be so kind, please take the poll in the left-handed column).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Outrage

I don't often use this blog to discuss potentially "hot-button" subjects. We all have our opinions, after all, and I like to keep this blog to, well, my writing.

But I can't stay silent on this subject.

If you have kids, especially little girls, I'm sure you've heard of the Bratz dolls. I've never liked them for a few reasons, but the main one is that they look like little prostitutes. I'm not being harsh, really I'm not. But dolls wearing belly-showing shirts, short-shorts, mini-skirts, high-heeled platform shoes, and tons of make-up, is just a bit much for a girl aged 4-10 or so to be playing with. My daughter was given a Bratz doll for Christmas at one point - I vowed never to buy her one. But since she's not into dolls (she is a huge Scooby Doo fan) I didn't worry too much about it.

I'm thanking God right now that she could care less about dolls, especially the Bratz ones, after reading this article. If the American Psychological Association is issuing warnings about these dolls, we better sit up and take notice. Our current society teaches our children - especially young girls - that their bodies are the most important thing about them. I'm not being a prude - but come on. Some of the girls clothes in stores today I would never let my daughter wear. In fact, that's another blessing I have to count - she doesn't like skirts. She's a jeans and t-shirt gal. At this particular time in our culture, I think I'm glad she doesn't want to get all dolled up with the make-up and hairspray, etc.

Being a woman is a wonderful thing. But where has our femininity gone? Even I have fallen victim to the mentality that I have to show a bit of skin to get some respect. That is so darn backwards, isn't it? What about modesty? Now if you wear a long skirt, you're looked at as being a prude. Less is more in the world of fashion. But we're adults. We can make our own decisions on what we want to wear. That's our prerogative.

But here is the kicker. Our children are now the targets. The Bratz dolls are not your average Barbie dolls - Barbie was tame compared to the Bratz! The name alone is insulting. Yet someone is marketing these dolls to children. Hollywood is going to make a movie about them. And their "fashion" is creeping into the girls' clothing departments in every major store. Short mini-skirts. Flimsy, too-tight tops. Shirts that say, "I'm spoiled" and other sayings that really only degrade instead of flatter.

Let's not even get into what this is doing to the little boys of our society. That's a whole 'nother rant. I have a teenager, and let me tell you - the costume I saw his girlfriend wearing to the Halloween party made me eyes pop - and not in a good way. Yet he said it was "hot."

There's something wrong in our culture if our little girls, who should be enjoying their childhood, are worried about how they look. As the mother of a little girl, I refuse to succumb to society's pressure. I have every intention of raising my daughter to be a woman with high self-esteem based on who she is, not what she looks like.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Advice from the Pros

I met Stephanie Bond this weekend. Yes, the Stephanie Bond, the highly successful, prolific, and wonderful novelist. She is the epitome of Southern gentility, very soft-spoken, and gracious.

She gave a one-day workshop at the Nebraska Romance Writer's 5th Annual Conference and although I no longer belong to NRW or RWA, and even though I have been experiencing writer-burn-out, I still went. I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to go, but I'm so glad I did. Not only did I glean some great writing advice and wisdom, but I also feel energized. Two of my friends and I are forming a critique group and we've already set a deadline for ourselves to get started. This has given me focus, and I'm suddenly rarin' to go.

There's just something about being with other writers - face to face - that is, well, essential. I haven't had that lately, and I miss it. Internet communication can only take you so far.

Here's a few tidbits of advice from Stephanie:

--Stephanie always writes a synopsis before she starts the book. Always. Does she sometimes deviate from it? Yes. But what's important is that she has a roadmap of her book. And here is the second important thing she does - she gives that synopsis to her critique partner. That way if there are any holes in the story, her critique partner can point them out before Stephanie even starts writing. This is exactly what my friends and I are going to do - we each have to have a synopsis of our story to each other in two weeks. Here's the crucial part - do not discuss the book with your critique partners before you send them the synopsis. That way they act just like an editor - they know nothing about your book and cannot fill in the holes of the story with the information you've already given them.

--Your story begins on the day your character changes. Simple enough. But this will help you get rid of all that gunky backstory.

--Use definitive sentences in your novel. What are definitive sentences? Think of the most often-quoted movie lines. For example, "This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship." or "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." Those lines are memorable and can reflect a turning point for your character, and can set apart the beginning of your book, a chapter, or even a paragraph. Make a conscious effort to include these types of sentences.

--If you're writing a tragic story or it doesn't end in a "happily-ever-after", then above all, do one thing: Leave the reader with hope.

And on the business side of things, if you're struggling to find time to write, remember this: We take as much time as we give ourselves. You're the CEO of your own business - your writing business. Write a business plan to help you keep on track and know where you're going.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Choices We Make

In my younger years - oh, say age five to around age 18 - I was quite a crafty person. I loved to dabble with my grandmother's craft stuff. I drew, painted, sewed, glued, latch-hooked, colored...you name it, I did it.

When I hit 6th grade and started to really focus on my writing, I didn't leave my crafting love behind and continued to do just as much as before. But during college, marriage, and a career, I abandoned it. I got into rubber stamping for awhile after I got married, but I haven't done much of anything with it for a long, long time.

The other day, my daughter and I went to Hobby Lobby again where they had pre-made wooden Christmas decorations on sale. So I selected a few a few, bought some acrylic paint and brushes, and headed home. Wednesday night I decided to not worry about the writing or the housework, and I just sat down to paint.

It was so much fun. I didn't have to worry about a character's motivation or if this particular plot point made sense, I just painted. All I had to worry about was what color I wanted to paint my snowman's scarf!

This led me to wonder at why I chose to pursue writing above my other creative endeavors. Why didn't I pursue art instead? I loved to draw in elementary and high school, but I haven't picked up a pencil to sketch in years. Drawing wasn't the easiest for me, but when I look back, I think it was a lot easier than trying to write a novel.

I guess there's only one answer for this - I had the passion for writing. Sure, I loved to draw and paint and hot glue, but it wasn't a consuming need. I did it because it was fun to do and I enjoyed it. It was a hobby, not a passion.

Writing is my passion. But I've also recognized that I need to take time to just sit and paint and let my mind be creative without being mentally exhausted afterwards. That is what triggered my burn-out. I was focusing on the work and not the fun. And let's not kid ourselves - writing is a lot of work. But it's also a lot of fun. When you lose the fun part, well, it's just a miserable existence.

What about you? Do you do any other creative activities besides write?

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Must-Read: Patricia Wood's Lottery

I really can't say enough good things about Patricia Wood's debut novel, Lottery. It is one of the best books I have ever read - and I have read A LOT of books.

Here's a summary:


Perry L. Crandall may have an IQ of 76, but he is not retarded—he’s just not as fast as everyone else. Perry works at a marine supply store in Everett, Washington, and lives with his wisecracking Gram. After Gram’s death, Perry tries to resume a normal life, but that all changes when he wins Washington State’s $12 million lottery. His famously-callous family suddenly takes an interest in his well-being, and Perry’s fame makes him a target for unscrupulous money grubbers. With the help of his boss, Gary, his best friend Keith, and Cherry, the gum-chewing convenience store girl, Perry has to navigate this scary new world. But just because he’s slow, doesn’t mean he’s stupid…

A truly remarkable novel that will make you think twice about the world around you.

And my second book review (for those interested in my other passion, WW2) is over at my World War II blog - a new picture history of World War II with several never-before-published photos.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Role Reversal


It's fall break this week, which means my kids can stay up late and sleep in late. That's what vacations are for, y'know!
Last night I went to bed and I asked my daughter if she would read me a bedtime story. Her eyes lit up and she said, "Yes!" and then went upstairs to pick out a book. She chose the one pictured above, a book that I absolutely love.
And while I was tucked under the covers, she read me Bear Snores On, even holding it up like her teacher does in the classroom.
I nearly cried. Not only was it a precious memory, but to see her read and sound out the words she didn't know was such a blessing. If you'll remember, she struggled with reading quite a bit. But thanks to the wonderful efforts of her school and the Reading Recovery program, she is back on track.
On Writing
Yesterday, I had a bit of a lull at work. So I decided to do the unthinkable - write. *grin* I had an idea for a story while riding the elevator and I started typing. I didn't think about what I was writing, didn't worry about spelling or grammar, but just wrote. And I got lost in flow, forgot about the noise around me, and just wrote. Will this story ever see the pages of a magazine? Doubtful. But that's perfectly ok. I need to get the idea out of my head that everything I write has to be for publishing purposes. Sometimes, it's ok to write just for writing's sake.
I also had a bit of a breakthrough on the whole burn-out issue, and felt the spark start to slowly flame to life again. But I'm not pushing the issue, and so spent the night reading, learning how to draw Scooby Doo with my daughter, watching Disney's Cars, and talking with my husband.
Thanks to all of you for your great advice and comments on yesterday's post. Each and every one of you is awesome!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Spark Is...Gone?



It's finally time to admit it.

I'm burned out.

I sit down in front of the computer and open up my novel, then I slave over each and every word. It's not fun.

I'm not excited to write right now. When I'm at the day job or in the midst of a particularly bad day, I don't stop and think of my novel and feel a rush of relief because I always have my writing (I used to feel this way all the time, especially when life was tough). Lately, it's more of a yoke around my neck than anything. I've started second-guessing everything that I write. Everything. A little gremlin has popped into my head and said, "You can't write anymore. You lost your talent. It's gone. And it's not coming back. So there!"

I know I shouldn't believe him. But right now, that psychological block is there.

Barbara Bretton wrote a great article on writer burn out. After I read it, I felt better. Yes, it does happen, even to multi-published authors. The creative well runs dry.

I've suspected something was off-kilter for awhile now. My entire mood has been up and down. There are times of the day when I feel really good - and then an hour later, I'll be depressed again.

Maybe it's all just the residual effects of the summer medical disaster with my husband. Maybe I'm still adjusting to the new job. Maybe I am just going through a particularly down period.

Whatever the reason is, it's scaring the crap out of me. I don't like feeling this way. I don't like thinking about my writing and not feeling that burst of happiness. I don't like going through life feeling, well, rather numb.

I don't know what's going on, but I'm trying to take some action. I went to Hobby Lobby yesterday because I felt the need to be creative in something other than writing. I wanted to paint, to draw, do something different. But by the time I got there, that same lackluster feeling overcame me and nothing caught my eye. I decided to make my own charm bracelet, which consisted of picking out charms that represented who I am and then attaching them to the already-made bracelet. That took all of ten minutes to make. I love how it turned out, but it didn't ease the ache in my soul.

I haven't been exercising as much, although I do take a break every afternoon and go and walk. My eating habits are getting better. And this is my favorite time of year! I love fall. I love the leaves changing color. I love the cool breezes. I love preparing for the holidays.

I've also been reading a lot, watching movies, hanging out with my daughter (we colored pictures last night and watched a movie), and spending quality time with my husband.

In a way, I'm grieving for my writing. I want it back. I want to feel that spark again. But it's been doused.

Will it come back? I'm sure of it. But at this point, I'm not going to rush things.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Constant Struggle?

Here's one thing that I've recently learned about writing (okay, maybe not recently, but you get what I mean). No matter how many times you pick yourself up from a bad writing day or no matter how many times you remind yourself to shut off the internal editor when you're writing your first draft, you're going to keep doing it.

Here's what I mean.

I've immersed myself in craft for the past two months. I've studied books, worked on my outline, and prepared myself to write. Now that I'm actually in the writing stage, I'm having a hard time shutting off that internal editor.

Is this the first time this has happened? Absolutely not. Will it be the last? Nope.

Our writing personas are constantly in flux. One day we'll have no problem zipping through our daily word count or coming up with an awesome turn of phrase. The next we'll have a gremlin jumping up and down on our fingers, making us produce absolute rubbish or criticizing every single thing we write.

It's a cycle, isn't it? Every day is different.

But that's what makes the whole writing journey worth it.

Agree or disagree?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bit by the Travel Bug!



I haven't traveled anywhere outside of the U.S. since, oh, 1994! That's pretty bad. But if you're a faithful reader of this blog (thank you!), then you know I'm planning a trip to Italy sometime in the near future.


If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? Money is no object!


List your top three places!


Here's mine:


1) Italy

2) United Kingdom

3) Germany

Monday, October 15, 2007

We Have Lift Off!


I started Chapter One on the Italian novel, tentatively titled Catch and Release, last night.

And it felt great.

I've been trying to figure out a way to plot this novel so that I don't run into any dead-ends, thus prolonging the entire process. Here's what I came up with. Chapter by chapter outlines. Does this stifle my creativity? On the contrary! Before I started writing last night, I sat down and wrote a short synopsis of everything I wanted to include in this chapter. I sat down at the keyboard and felt, well, free. I didn't have to worry about sitting there and trying to think of what was going to happen next. I could see the scene in my mind.

No, I didn't put every detail in my short chapter synopsis - but just the essence of what I wanted to happen in the chapter. My plan is to write one of these short synopsis for each chapter before I write it. That way I'll hopefully be able to catch any potential problems before they start.

Otherwise, weekend consisted of a bit of shopping, a horrific tension headache on Saturday that thankfully was pretty much gone by Sunday, and lots and lots of rain. We're slated to have thunderstorms and cloudy skies for the rest of the week. Since I thrive in this kind of weather, that's a forecast I can live with!

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Power of Lunch Breaks


Yesterday I decided to ditch the office over my lunch break and head to a new coffeehouse/sandwich shop that just opened here in town. After I ordered my sandwich, I settled into the cozy backroom on a stuffed leather chair, ate my lunch, and then dove into some character work for my novel.

It was glorious. Not only did I have a yummy, healthy sandwich, but I found out new things about my character that will add an amount of depth to the story that I didn't have before.

I have a feeling I'll be heading back to this place several times a week, if possible. Taking that creative break in the middle of the day gave me an energy I didn't have that morning.

It's the weekend, and I plan to start Chapter One on the Italy novel. Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

It's Time

Time to get back in shape. Time to quit with the excuses.

Hubby's whole medical experience over the summer severely derailed my weight loss and workout plan.

Well, now that he's back to work, (albeit with a huge scar on his upper arm) and we've recovered from the whole experience (although not financially), I need to get back on my plan.

To that end, I've resurrected my weight loss blog.

This may not be the best time of the year to get focused on my weight loss with the holidays coming up, but in my experience in the past (I lost 38 pounds in the past year and a half), I know that it doesn't matter what day you start - putting it off only makes the whole thing worse.

I have to get back in that mindset. I was a lot happier in that mindset, let me tell you!

Another powerful motivator, besides my health (I still need to watch my diabetes, even though my levels were great last time I went in for a checkup), is my clothes. They're starting to not fit so well again. I refuse to go back to those old clothes.

So.

Here's to getting back on the wagon and staying on it this time!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hidden Treasures



I'm deep in research mode right now and finding lots of cool info. Little did I know that the region of Piemonte, Italy, (where my great-grandparents are from and where my next novel is set) is the birthplace of Nutella. The region also supplies the yummy hazelnuts used in this divine spread. And little did I know how great Nutella tastes!

My local Walgreens on the corner had a jar of this yummy, creamy stuff, so I decided to try it. Oh. My. Goodness. Wunderbar, though I will have to watch my intake so I don't gain any more weight!

I love all the little facts and hidden treasures I'm finding about the region where my great-grandparents used to live. So much fun!

Hmm...I think my main character might just have a thing for Nutella...

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Downside of Being a Pubbed Author

I just read a book set on the American homefront during World War 2 by a New York Times bestselling author. I'd read the reviews and while they were mixed, I figured I'd go ahead and give the book a shot.

I devoured the book in 24 hours - something I rarely do (of course, I was also sick and didn't feel like doing much else!). But when I got to the last two chapters, the author had her character make a decision that I neither agreed with nor thought plausible. I felt cheated. Because I cared about the author's characters, I decided to come up with my own ending, one which satisfied me much more.

When I went to look at the reviews, I found that I was not the only person who disagreed with the ending.

Now I know that book reviews are subjective - some people will hate a book that others love. But when the same thing is cited in the majority of reviews as being the kicker as to why the book didn't receive the best rating, you've got to take a look at it. For me, the author's decision to end the book this way effectively "broke" the promise that she'd made with me when I started the book.

Some reviewers stated that they'd loved this author's books - all of them - but this one. And that got me to thinking about several things not only about writing, but about the publishing industry in general.

Here are a few of my thoughts:

1) The pressure.
I can't imagine the pressure that NY Times bestselling novelists have to produce great books one right after the other. Does there come a point where they just type the ending, throw up their hands, and say, "Good enough!" ?

2) Deadlines.
I'm talking about the push for authors to produce a book a year or sometimes even more. I remember reading an author's first book - it was extremely well-written, emotionally-intense, and remains one of my favorite books. But her second and third books, well, fell flat. I wonder if it's because she spent all that time on her first book, honing and polishing it until it gleamed, because she had time to do all those things. In the rush-rush world of publishing, I'm thinking authors don't have nearly the luxury of all that time. Pubbed authors, if I'm wrong, let me know!

3) Burn-out.
We all get it. But when you have a deadline and a contract to fulfill, it doesn't much matter, does it? You've got to get the book written and submitted. Does this lead to a less-than-enthusiastic effort on the author's part? And is there a way to avoid burnout as a successful, published author?

Lots and lots of stuff to think about. It only reinforces the notion in my mind that becoming a published novelist will be wonderful, BUT it will have its own stresses to deal with.

In the end, it's the writing that matters. Here's the thing, though. Does the writing get pushed to the side because of one of the three reasons above, or a combination?

Curious to hear what you all think...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

My Body Is Rebelling

Thursday afternoon I felt pretty darn yucky. But after work, I drug myself to the annual library book sale and discovered that the history table had already been picked clean (and of course, every other table had plenty left to offer. This leads me to the conclusion that historians are a mad bunch who love their books). But Thursday night I had a feeling I wasn't going to be feeling much better.

Sure enough, Friday morning I felt worse and decided to take the day off. Not happy about that, but then I realized that if I was to get better, no sense in going to work and allowing my body to get sicker than it already was. I slept until after lunch and hubby was fantastic in bringing me something to eat, plus two great movies - North by Northwest with Cary Grant and a new one with Nicolas Cage called Next. Excellent flicks, both of them. Also have been doing a lot of reading - I finished John Grisham's new book, Playing for Pizza last night (loved it) and finished Elmore Leonard's newest Up In Honey's Room (meh...) the other night. I'm now reading Elizabeth Berg's Dream When You're Feeling Blue.

I just came down with a cold a few weeks ago and my conclusion is that my body is crashing. When I went through everything with hubby, my adrenaline was going all that time and I think that now things are back to normal (hubby starts a job on Monday!!!), I'm bottoming out.

I am of the mindset that I can snap back from things (life-altering things) quite easily. In other words, the week's vacation I had should have been enough to get me "centered" again. Unfortunately, I don't think this is the case at all. I've changed jobs, had financial problems to deal with, finished a novel, and dealt with hubby's health issues. I think I stayed pretty strong through the whole ordeal, but now...now I just want to lay in bed, read a book, watch a movie, and eat bad things for me. The adrenaline has worn off, the "tough girl" attitude has crept off to the shadows, and I'm left with the fall-out.

Never despair, though! This, too, shall pass, and I know I'll get my act together again - eating right, exercising (although I must admit, I have been doing an awful lot of walking lately), and working on my writing.

But tonight I'm going to lay on the couch, crack open my book, and maybe sneak in a bit of chocolate...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Bound to Happen

I'm pretty proud of myself for staying as focused as I did on my writing while my husband went through his medical ordeal that lasted for two months plus (and then there was the whole broken foot thing). I finished the novel, got it sent off, and dealt with everything else.

Now I think my brain is rebelling.

I've been working on my plot for the next novel and while I pretty much have it figured out, there's still some research I need to do before I start writing. But lately, I've been just going home, vegging on the couch, and reading. Granted, I'm reading books set in Italy to give me a better feel for things, but I still feel like I should be doing more.

In short, I don't feel too focused right now. I tend to think that this is a result of being so mentally focused on so many things for so long. Now that things are pretty much back to normal, I think my brain is down-shifting and being lazy.

Of course, I'm my own worst critic. It's not like I've been completely ignoring everything. I research on a daily basis. Of course, I haven't been writing. Maybe that's why I feel a bit of guilt.
I can't write right now because I'm not ready - I still have some critical research to do.

What about you? Do you feel guilty when you're not doing what you think you should be in regards to your writing?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Good Ol' Days


A little more than ten years ago, I graduated from college (undergrad). I wish I could go back for a few weeks and not worry about marriage or mortgages or student loans or...*gasp* gaining weight.

Wish I had that figure back, too!

This is me and one of my best friends in college. We still stay in touch, but it's nothing like it used to be. He's married, has kids, I'm married, have kids, and well, we're both doing the whole "adult" thing. They say that your college years are some of the best of your life. I tend to agree.


The Top 10 Things I Miss About College


1) Ditching class and sleeping in (which I didn't do too often)

2) Wednesday night "history club" meetings at the bar

3) Staying up late because I could

4) Wild excursions out to the country for the evening's "big" party or being otherwise completely spontaneous

5) Ok, I don't necessarily miss this, but I'm glad I did it a few times - being the designated driver.

6) All my friends were right there - not scattered across the entire USA like they are now

7) Eating whatever I wanted without having to worry about gaining weight

8) Wearing whatever I wanted because everything fit perfectly! (dang, I miss being a size 7)

9) Hanging out with friends. Whenever. Wherever.

10) Independence.

What do you miss about college?

Monday, October 01, 2007

When You Think Too Much

Over the weekend, I tried to iron out some specific plot details for the Italy novel. By Sunday evening, I was depressed because I just couldn't figure it out. Why, I thought, do I make things so difficult?

There's a few reasons. One, I don't want to do every other idea that's out there. I want to be original. And in so doing, I can't use the first thing that pops into my mind. The problem is, by blocking those thoughts, I'm also blocking the entire creative process. I'm not allowing my brain to cast aside the junk to get to the gold.

The two sides of my brain are at war - the analytical side and the creative side. This makes for some darn frustrating moments where I just want to abandon the entire idea and move on to something else. I'm just thinkking too darn much.

There's a book called Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath, a new and upgraded edition of the online test from Gallup's Now, Discover Your Strengths. This book helps you discover your strengths. After taking an extensive online questionnaire, my results came back and honestly, I wasn't too surprised by them. Number one on my list? Intellection. And the definition boils down to, "You like to think."

But there's a danger in thinking too much - on everything. My brain needs a break sometimes!

Last night, before I went to sleep, I started to look through my novel notes with nothing more in mind than to see what I'd already come up with. Before I knew it, ideas began to spark and suddenly, everything fell into place. I tried not to scrutinize those ideas, but to just let them come. When I was finished writing everything down, I knew I'd made it to the top of my mental mountain.

I went to bed with peace in my heart. And now, I can't wait to get started writing!

New Digs

I've got a new home on the web - stop by if you get a chance! www.melissamarsh.net