Monday, June 30, 2008
Weekend was good. Got some writing done, danced to some old music with my daughter, and got in some good quality time with hubby. It's been rather calm and quiet around the place with my stepson off to see his mom in Kentucky. :-)
Four-day work week - yay! And on Wednesday, I'm giving a talk at a retirement center, one I've been to twice before. They keep asking me back, so I must be doing something right. *grin* The theme for this particular speech is "patriotism" in keeping with the 4th of July holiday. I've started to dig into my books on the American Revolution that I had in graduate school. I did love that class - and now I'm having thoughts of diving into that time period again. I have several ideas for novels set during the Revolution, but we'll see if any of them are strong enough to knock me off my World War II platform.
Found the digital camera, so I've been snapping photos again. My daughter has been collecting fireflies at night and putting them in her "bug jar", then releasing them later. I tried to get a few photos of them, but they all turned out blurry. Little guys refuse to sit still and pose!
Friday, June 27, 2008
That was me this week.
Stick a creative person at a desk, 8-5, staring at a computer, every day of the week, and eventually, you're going to have a basket case on your hands. The mind starts to wander, to daydream, to think, "If I could only stay home and write all day...", to believe that there must be more to life than cube-dwelling.
And then the next week, the creative person might have overcome that little hurdle, be happy with their job, think they could do it another few years, and all is well with the world. (This is usually around a payday).
Back and forth, up and down. And if the creative person isn't creating, well, watch out. That's just a time bomb waiting to explode. And I've been doing more research than writing this week. Hmm...that could perhaps figure in to why I'm not very happy and satisfied with life.
There's just too darn much going on in creative people's brains sometimes, and it becomes a bit overwhelming. Depression sets in. The urge to shut out the world and sleep or just sit like a lump on the couch and watch bad B movies all day taunts us. Sometimes we give in. Sometimes we must fight to grasp onto that shred of motivation. Sometimes we win. Other times we lose.
In some ways, I envy those people who have worked at the same job for 20+ years - and are absolutely content with doing so. That's what they want. Wish I could say the same. Sometimes. Like today.
This is a bit of rambling post, but that's ok. Rambling is sometimes good for the mind to release all that gunk that's built up.
Thank goodness it's Friday.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
I think I can handle that.
I'm reading Forever by Pete Hamill. It's for our bookclub at work and I gotta admit, it's an amazing story. A long, amazing story, clocking in at more than 600 pages. But the writing is good, albeit very different. But I like that. Different is good. We're supposed to be done with the book by Friday and I'm not there yet, so I may have to do a bit of speed reading tonight.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
As I sat there and gorged myself on M&M's and popcorn, I couldn't tear my eyes away from the screen. The adventures of Po the Panda and his sudden quest to become the Dragon Master kept me completely enthralled. My daughter and I laughed and laughed at several parts, and I teared up at one particular scene (which is not hard to do for me).
My husband bought the Kung Fu Panda game for our Playstation 2 and my daughter has loved playing it. And she's also showed me her kung fu moves and I have to say, she's pretty darn good at them. I asked her if she wanted to take karate lessons, but she said she wants to be "taller" when she does. ;-)
So if you haven't seen this movie yet, I highly recommend it for the entire family. I can't wait until it comes out on DVD so I can watch it again!
Sunday, June 22, 2008
For weeks, my days consisted of getting up, taking my daughter to school, going to work, going to the hospital over my lunch break, going back to work, picking up my daughter, then going back to the hospital and then, at last, going home to fall into bed and get up and do the same thing the next day.
It was exhausting. I credit God with getting me through it, and my friends and family for all the wonderful support they showed us. And all my blogging buddies were just awesome. Since I chronicled the whole journey on my blog, I had tons of people offering me daily support.
And now, finally, a year later, hubby has a good job, is completely healed, and has one hellacious scar on his arm. But what counts is that we made it.
Friday, June 20, 2008
This terrifies me.
When I told my husband about my novel a week or so ago, he was intrigued by the concept and thought it was a great idea. I thought this was a wonderful thing because he is a big reader and will tell me straight out if he thinks something won't work. BUT, he also said, "You're ambitious."
Hmm. Yeah, I suppose I am. Without giving away the plot of the novel (because to do so doesn't jive with my inner writer), this research has to be accurate. Spot on. Because if it's not, there will be plenty of people who will tell me so.
This is a good thing and a bad thing. A good thing because there are lots of people that I can turn to who will have the information I need. A bad thing because, well, they'll know if I get something wrong!
Thus, I've been engrossed in autobiographies, historical studies, and surfing for articles on the web, taking lots of notes and searching for tiny pieces of information. I've found quite a bit, but not exactly what I'm looking for. I'm starting to think it doesn't exist!
So for the past few days, since I reached the halfway mark, all of this has been mucking about in my brain, and the irrational part of me has started (ok, has been for awhile) freaking out. How can I possibly hope to pull this off? Why in the world can't I write something simple? Why did I think I could do this?
Ahem. Yes, slight hysteria on my part.
However, the rational side of my brain has come to the rescue - I hope. I figure that if I start leaning toward those irrational thoughts, I will freeze up when it comes time to write. And that will be a bad thing. But if I take it slowly and get my details right (this is not a place where I can frantically write everything down and then go back and fix it later), then I'll be ok.
Slow and steady. I think I can handle that.
So! Off I go...
Have a great weekend!
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
I went to Barnes & Noble and picked out a big, fat spiral journal. Lots and lots of crisp, white pages waiting for me to fill them up. And the cover of it even featured an illustration of Venice. Perfect for my Italian story.
And off to work I went. I found pictures of my characters (what I thought looked like my characters, anyway), printed off the photos, and then pasted them into my journal. I filled the notebook with all my random thoughts and plot ideas, character sketches and brainstorming notes. If I happened to be without the notebook for whatever reason and wrote something down on a piece of paper, I made sure I taped it into my notebook to keep everything in one spot.
I carried the notebook with me everywhere - no matter where I went. It went to work with me and sat on my desk in case I needed to jot down something. It went with me on lunch breaks. It stayed on my nightstand for journaling before bedtime or waking up with an idea I needed to write down.
Even though I've put the Italian Duet novel series on hold for awhile, I still have the journal and it will be waiting for me when I pick up the threads of the story again.
But now, I have a journal for my WW2 story. I found it at a local craft store, on sale, and fell in love with the cover because of its vintage-feel. And with it, I've done the same thing - put down my aimless thoughts and ideas, wrote reminder notes to myself for things not to forget when I write the story, put lots of my research notes into it, and any research books I need to be on the look out for.
My writer's notebook is one of the best things I've done for my writing. Anything and everything can go into this journal, and anything and everything does. And I've found two immense benefits in having a journal for my novels: one, all my stuff is in one spot and two, it keeps my head in the story.
You see, I made the mistake of not taking my journal with me for a few days and then I forgot it altogether. Big mistake. I was writing stuff on sticky notes and other pieces of paper, misplacing them, and getting frustrated by my failure to put them in my notebook.
No more. I took my journal with me to work today, tucked it into my purse, and promptly put it beside me on my desk, reminding me that it was there and that I didn't need to use my stack of sticky notes to write down thoughts or ideas.
If you find yourself disorganized and wishing you could put everything in one spot, you might want to try this method. Buy a journal and let yourself have fun with it. Or you could really get creative and buy a binder and put separate folders in it to organize everything. For me, that's a bit too big as I like to be able to put my journal in my purse. I'm much more likely to carry it with me if it's smaller.
And hey, it's a great excuse to go and pick out a journal. There are so many neat ones out there. Find one that fits your novel's theme and maybe buy a nice pen that you use only in your journal. Make it special. Make it yours.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Last night I fought the urge to curl up on the couch and take a nap. Instead, I took the dog for a walk and then dived into some research for the novel I've been putting off for awhile. Sometimes, research requires good, old-fashioned note-taking, and that's what I did.
Short blog entry today as my head is too wrapped up in research and the novel (this is a good thing, right?) than it is in writing a scintillating blog post. I hope to be more witty and entertaining tomorrow. ;-)
Sunday, June 15, 2008
So I'm not doing a whole lot today. Lounging around, eating my birthday cake (because calories don't count on your birthday!), watching a few movies, and tonight we'll go out for dinner. Since it's also Father's Day, my husband and I get to share the day. :-)
I already received some very nice presents - a Lifehouse CD from hubby, a beautiful bracelet from my mom, and some birthday cash from my dad, which I will undoubtedly use at my local Barnes & Noble.
Happy Father's Day to all those dads out there, and a special Happy Father's Day to my own Dad!
Friday, June 13, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
My poor daughter was in tears when she heard about all the funnel clouds around us, but I assured her that we were in a safe place - the basement. Poor thing is really having a rough summer weather-wise.
But the weather is playing havoc with my writing plans. Who can concentrate on writing when a tornado might be headed your direction? I went to bed before 10 p.m., exhausted by the night's activities. The tornado warning would expire, then they'd issue another one. Rain flooded our back yard and the animals were all in the basement with us, my dog Charlie running back and forth whenever a particular loud thunder clap sounded.
This morning, I woke to water in my basement - and of course, it was in my office. A good inch or more spread a nice little pool on the floor - thankfully, it is a concrete floor, so no ruined carpet. BUT...I had a box of paperback books sitting under my desk - my favorite, most-treasured paperback books. And yep, you guessed it - the bottom stack of them got water-logged. Some of these books I have had since high school.
Yet I tried to keep everything in perspective. After all, books can be replaced. People cannot. And this storm system created tragedies for many people last night. We were very fortunate and blessed that the only problem we had was some water in the basement.
Hopefully, this evening will be a bit more quiet storm-wise and the writing will commence.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
I'm in the spring cleaning mood, but since it feels like summer around here, we'll just call it summer cleaning.
It's the chores that have been neglected for too long - washing the window sills, washing curtains, washing the baseboards in the bathroom, fixing the broken kitchen cabinet, cleaning cobwebs in the basement, replacing the blinds in my kids' windows, and on and on and on.
After I made the list, I no longer felt so overwhelmed. It was the first step toward tackling a very difficult and time-consuming task. Lots of difficult and time-consuming tasks.
Hubby jumped right on things when he got home from work, bless him, and I started on cleaning the windows in the kitchen. I'm also in the de-cluttering mood, and I'm sick of having a bunch of "stuff" around that I never use and don't need. I have no doubt that I'll be donating stuff to Goodwill or my local FreeCycle group.
I think if I pace myself, and keep looking at my lists, I'll be ok. And when I put a check mark next to the chores done, the sense of accomplishment will keep me going!
I've also done a bit of "summer cleaning" with my writing. I had a few short stories that I've wanted to submit for awhile now, so I got them out, "dusted" them off, and finally got the motivation to send them this week.
And even though this has nothing to do with spring cleaning, I couldn't resist sharing my other bit of good news. I won Christine Fletcher's new book, Ten Cents a Dance. It takes place during World War II in Chicago. I've been looking in the bookstores for it and couldn't find it, so was just about to order if off Amazon.com. But no longer! And of course, I can't wait to read it.
So. Spring cleaning. Do or don't?
Monday, June 09, 2008
Ok. Here goes. 7 Random or Weird Things About Me You Didn't Know (And Maybe Don't Want To Know)
1. I can't swim. I even took private swimming lessons when I was a girl. Still didn't help. My mind could not get over the fact that if I tried to float, I would definitely sink because it was obvious that I was heavier than water. I couldn't even dunk my head under water.
2. My mom and I wrote two children's books and had them published about seven years ago (I'm not listed as an author because I have no idea who put this on Amazon. Wasn't us!). They were commissioned by the Nebraska Dry Bean Grower's Association that my mother worked for. We wrote the stories and we had a local illustrator draw the pics for it. They turned out great. They were sent to every school in Nebraska, and we even did a few book tours, went to local schools to speak, and even libraries.
3. I still have my prom dress from when I was a junior. I can't bear to part with it since it was handmade. It's still gorgeous to this day.
4. I went to Las Vegas to get married. It was just hubby and I. Terribly romantic, plus we saved a ton of money in the process. We had a reception for our family and friends when we got back.
5. I have to eat pizza with a fork. Otherwise, it's too messy. My husband calls the way I eat pizza un-American. I just don't want to spill sauce on my shirt.
6. I am addicted to email. I will check my private email at work once every hour. At home, I have to check it at least every four.
7. I have to get the mail from the mailbox No one else. If they do, I get irritated beyond belief. Don't ask me why. Maybe that's why I am addicted to email.
If you're like me and can't think of a good blog post, go ahead and consider yourself tagged to do this meme. :-)
Friday, June 06, 2008
It wasn't an easy landing. The beaches at Omaha and Utah were brutal. Machine guns from atop the bluffs strafed the soldiers even before some of them got off the boats. Earlier, paratroopers jumped from the sky and landed in France, some scattered far away from their units, others killed when German soldiers saw them falling from the sky and shot them.
Before the invasion commenced, General Dwight D. Eisenhower said the following words:
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.
In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely. But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men.
The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory! I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory! Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
SIGNED: Dwight D. Eisenhower
Today, take a moment to remember these brave men and the incredible courage it must have taken to do what they had to do.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Last night we had another patch of storms roll in. And let me tell you, those clouds were nasty looking. So dark they were almost black, they converged on our city and sent the tornado sirens blaring. We headed to our basement and kept watching the weather on our local station to see if there might be a tornado headed our way. We were under a tornado warning because this same storm had a history of producing tornadoes.
My daughter was not a happy camper. She was quite scared, but I reassured her that we were in a safe part of the house if a tornado happened to come by. Thankfully, the warning expired without any funnel clouds appearing.
I woke up to a lake in the backyard, but if there was any thunder, I didn't hear it. We're supposed to get more severe storms this afternoon and this evening, which means more sky-watching and nail-biting.
Of course, the funniest part of the whole evening was my scramble downstairs - I had my laptop running and had written about a half a page on my novel when the warnings sounded. And of course, the laptop is the one thing I grabbed before I went downstairs.
That's a writer for ya.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Check out the ants scurrying on the ground, building their home one piece of dirt at a time.
Watch how a cat gracefully jumps on the window sill (or the couch), his body moving in just the right way at just the right time.
And in our writing, we can explore that creativity to our heart's content. We can play with words to create images and thoughts and emotions. We can create our own world, populated with characters from our own imagination. How much more creative can you get?
Creativity is all around us - we only have to open our eyes to see it. And as my nephew once said, "God is a pretty good artist."
I couldn't agree more.
Monday, June 02, 2008
I went shopping Saturday morning and got a few more summer outfits. I can't believe it's June already! And the thermometer is already starting to climb. If you've followed my blog, you'll know that I am not a heat person. It makes me grouchy and downright miserable. I spent most of my summer time inside anything that is air conditioned, be that the office, the car, or the house. Only when the temps cool off enough do I venture outside on the front porch.
Sunday was my designated writing day. And since it was rather warm outside, I decided to hole up in my basement bedroom where it was nice and cool. I turned on the t.v. to the 1940s station on XM Radio, turned on my laptop, grabbed my chocolate, switched on my fan, and started to write. My cat, Slick, hopped up on the bed and curled up beside me.
A few hours later, I had written 3600 words. I was rather proud of myself. ;-)
Hubby and I took the dogs for a walk, we filled water balloons with my daughter, and then I relaxed on the couch and did a bit of reading.
And now it's Monday already. The kids are out of school, so that eliminated a few miles off my morning commute this morning. They took advantage of summer vacation by staying up late. Hey, that's what summers are for!
I've got a new home on the web - stop by if you get a chance! www.melissamarsh.net
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