Monday, June 29, 2009

Just Like Old Friends

Over the weekend, I finally pulled a box of books out of storage and unpacked them. This particular box had been in storage for a good two years. I actually forgot which books I'd put in this box and so it was a bit like Christmas when I opened it up. Why? Because these were some of the first books I ever bought. And that makes them special.

As I took out each book, I was assaulted with memories - where I was when I read it, the characters, the emotions, etc. Waves of nostalgia washed over me and by the time I finished putting them all on my shelf, I felt like my apartment was finally my home. I just needed to add those books, ones that had been with me for 20 years, to complete things.

To me, those books represent old friends. Just looking at them makes me feel better about life. Sappy, but true.

Do you have those special books that have traveled with you throughout the years, from college to your first home and beyond?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Why Blogging Rocks

I just got back from meeting Janna from the Something She Wrote blog. Although Janna has taken a blogging hiatus to focus on her writing, I still keep up with her on Facebook. When we discovered how close we lived to each other (within 3 hours) and that her grandmother lived only an hour away from me, we knew we'd have to get together at some point! This weekend we finally got to meet "in person."

What fun! We ate lunch at a small mom and pop cafe and sat and talked writing and life. Janna has a quiet, charming personality and she is such a caring, genuine person. I really enjoyed our time together. Talking to her was like talking to a friend I'd known for years!

Without blogging, I never would have met her. And since I've also met Diane and Shirley when I was in England last October, that's two more people I've been able to meet via blogging.

Even though the Internet can sometimes be intensly impersonal, it can also open doors to new friendships. I feel so blessed to have met Janna, Diane, and Shirley in person, and I look forward to meeting more of you!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gold Stars!

My daughter and I have been playing a lot of UNO lately. In fact, we each have our own nametags that she made, and if you are the champion for the round, you get a gold star beside your name.

I've only got one so far and she has three. She told me on the way to daycare today that to make it more fair, whoever wins the next round will get two gold stars. Then I said, "But what if you win? Then you'll have lots more gold stars than me!"

She just smiled.

Hmm. Methinks this is rigged...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

To Thine Own Self Be True Part 2

I'm one of those incurable romantics. I'm a sucker for romantic movies (as long as there's a happy ending!) and when I was in high school and college (and heck, even after I was first married), I devoured romance novels.

Of course, this spilled over into my writing. My first novel was a Regency historical romance and my second was an inspirational romance set at the end of World War II. My third, however, has moved away from the traditional romance formula and is more mainstream. But...it does have a prominent love story. I don't define myself as a romance writer because I typically do not follow the genre's formula.

But while plotting my fourth novel (Gasp! Fourth? Have I really written three complete novels?), I was having trouble establishing the conflict. Rene knows I am terrible at this sometimes, but I think the reason why is that I try too hard to be "different." This isn't being true to myself and harkens back to the post I wrote last week about writing what -I- want to write.

Once I established the potential love story within my new novel, however, things fell into place. Quite quickly, in fact.

What does all this mean? That relationships, and stories that have people falling in love, no matter if it is a side plot or the main focus, will probably always play a role in my writing. Now if the story doesn't call for a romantic element, then I won't force one into it. But making a concentrated effort not to include this aspect is doing myself a disservice.

To thine own self be true.

Monday, June 22, 2009

That Driver's License Photo

If I were brave (and on this, I'm not going to be), I would show you my brand new driver's license photo.

But you'll just have to miss feasting your eyes on my, er, striking image. I don't think I have ever taken a good photo for my DL. In fact, I swear they fiddle with those dumb cameras to make sure that everyone looks bad. I also wasn't too happy with the cost - $24! Sheesh. I could have bought a couple books for that.

I guess I should just be thankful that I didn't get any tickets between now and the last time I renewed my license, otherwise I would have had to take the written test. As it was, I just had to stick my head in the little viewer and read off a bunch of numbers. Passed with flying colors. Ha!

Have you ever had a good driver's license photo? If you have, you're one of the proud few!

Friday, June 19, 2009

I'm Not Quirky Or Edgy

More and more these days, I am seeing agents and editors looking for "quirky" or "edgy" or "genre-bending."

I'm afraid they won't find that in my work.

I'm not quirky. I'm not edgy. I don't create fads (like the Jane Austen-related books or teenage vampires in love). I don't blend two worlds - like Jane Austen and zombies. I don't create bizarre scenarios or write with an eccentric slant.

That's not me.

To thine own self be true.

I write about normal people that find themselves in less than ordinary situations. Usually, they must dig deep inside themselves to find the strength and courage to deal with these situations, and in the process, they not only learn and grow, but they become a better person for it. They're simple stories full of heart and soul.

I believe there is room for books such as these. I've read many of them. But in the current publishing climate - i.e. the hard economic times - I don't know that publishers want to take a chance on books like mine. After all, they're not quirky. They're not edgy. They're not experimental. They will not be lauded as "the new trend in publishing" nor will they produce a media frenzy.

And you know what? I am ok with that. I really am. I don't want to change who I am as a writer to fit the market. I know some people do this and I am ok with that, too. That is their choice.

But I can't. I simply can't. Now if I have a story idea that screams "Edgy! Quirky! Experimental! Genre-bending! The new trend!" then I'll write it. But I am not going to go out of my way looking for it. That is the key.

If I am not passionate about my work, if I am not in love with my characters and truly believe in them and their world, then how can I expect anyone else to be? It will show on the page. That cheats me as a writer and it cheats the reader, as well.

I must write what -I- want to write. I can't change that. I've tried. Believe me. The last month or so, I've constantly second-guessed any idea that pops into my head. Is it unique enough? Is it edgy? Is it a breakout idea? Consequently, I've stymied my creative process. Only now have I realized, once again, (I have a very long stubborn streak) that my ideas will be unique because it is my voice that will be telling them.

The publishing world will always be looking for the "new" and the "next best thing." But I will be writing the stories that speak to me and pray that they will also speak to others. I can do no less.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's That Time of Year

Every single summer, I blog about how much I hate heat. Hate is not even close to what I feel for those excruciatingly hot summer days where the heat rolls off the pavement, chokes you, and makes you run for the air conditioned building.

It was hot here yesterday - I think we hit 91 degrees. Technically, summer doesn't begin until Sunday, but this is Nebraska, and the weather doesn't do what it's "supposed" to do.

But the other thing that comes along with my hatred of heat is how it makes me feel emotionally. I fight off depression a lot during the summer months. I feel lethargic and unmotivated, despite staying inside where it's nice and cool.

I've often wondered why I dislike this time of year so much. There are certain aspects of it I enjoy. Picnics, the 4th of July, baseball games, sitting outside on the deck watching the sun set, the beautiful flowers. When I was younger, the "no school" thing was wonderful, too. However, the first time I ever struggled with a deep depression was during the summer months. I think that my brain somehow remembers that and whenever summer hits, it triggers those feelings to haunt me again.

With everything that I've recently been through, I'm not looking forward to battling these same ol' summer blues. I think I have the opposite of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I do better when there's less light!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rejection and the Economy

Yesterday I received a form email rejection that made me pause. Usually, a form rejection includes something to the effect of, "We weren't excited enough about your story idea," etc., etc. But this one said something different.

It referenced the poor economy as a reason for the rejection, stating that they must be extremely selective in what projects they pursue because of the poor economic conditions in the world today.

I guess that makes sense and I can see where they're coming from. But I wonder if it's really necessary to put it in the rejection. If a story idea is really good, does it matter if the economy is bad or not?

What do you think?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Giddiness

As ideas began to pour into my brain for the next novel, sometimes, a certain giddiness will just sneak into my soul and make me the happiest human being on the planet.

This is why I write.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happy (Early) Birthday to Me!

Here it is - my early birthday present! A 2005 Chevy Impala. My birthday is on Monday, so I treated myself a bit early. :-)

My daughter loves it - especially the sunroof.

And the best thing? The payments are lower than what I was making on the Jeep. Another bonus.
I can just see myself, cruising down the highway, sunroof open, radio blasting...ah, bliss!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In Defense of Leisure


Published author and writer extraordinaire Christine Fletcher has a wonderful post up on her blog today about leisure time.

We all know how hard we push ourselves to get the book done or write 1,000 words a day or submit, submit, submit! But sometimes, we really need to sit back, relax, and rejuvenate.

You can read the post here.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

That *&#%$! Synopsis

I've been avoiding the synopsis for a month now.

It's not that I have no idea how to write it. I've written two others before, and my career as a freelance cover copy (read: book jacket) writer has certainly helped me condense an entire novel into a few paragraphs.

But boy, am I dreading it. Dreading it so much that, well, I haven't even thought about it. Whenever it does happen to cross my brain, I quickly discard it and say, "I'm not ready for it yet."

Like many other things, I believe the fear of writing the synopsis is worse than actually writing it.

Guess there's nothing to do but, well, do it.

Off I go...

Monday, June 08, 2009

Car Shopping

Sigh.

Scratch that.

BIG, HUGE SIGH.

I hate car shopping. I hate dealing with car salesmen. I'm sure they are perfectly nice people when they're not at their job, but speaking from experience, I know they all have tricks up their sleeves. My experience is that my ex-husband worked for two car dealerships and he used to come home from "class" and tell me what they were teaching him. I was slightly appalled.

But since the "great deal" I got on the '97 Grand Prix isn't working out so well (read: lemon!), then it's off to find another vehicle. I've already picked one out at a local dealership (thank you, Internets!) and hope I can go and test drive it tonight and well, drive it home tonight. That all depends on financing, etc. (Did you know that divorce can really screw up your credit?). But one thing is for sure - I am checking out the specifics of this car. Turns out that the '97 Grand Prix has a TON of problems. Funny. I once bought a Grand Am, right out of college. And I had tons of problems with it, too! Guess Pontiac Grands and I just don't get along...

Wish me luck!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

D-Day 65th Anniversary

This was the prayer given to Americans by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as our brave Allied soldiers were storming the beaches at Normandy 65 years ago:


My Fellow Americans:

Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest -- until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them -- help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment -- let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.

Franklin D. Roosevelt - June 6, 1944

Friday, June 05, 2009

New World War II Site


If you know me at all (haha!), you'll know that I am deeply interested in World War II. I focused on that global conflict for my master's degree in grad school and I did my thesis on the German POW camp at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, that was housed there during the war.

My brothers and my dad also enjoy this era, so it's not uncommon for us to have discussions about new war movies or books or even talk about our relatives who fought in the war.

I discovered
a new site the other day - it's called the Greatest Generation Society. It's the perfect gathering place for WW2 enthusiasts because it employs social networking tools. You can post blogs, pictures, news articles, and just about anything else and then have discussions about them. It's a different format than a forum - and it's a fun format. One neat feature is the honoree section. Relatives of members who fought in the war are given a place of honor. This is at the core of the website's purpose - to remember those of the Greatest Generation.

I recently joined the staff of this website as an editor and historian, and I'm excited to see where this new endeavor will go. It's a perfect place to share my love of history with other like-minded individuals.

If you
get a moment, pop on over to the Greatest Generation Society and have a look around. Joining is free.

Don't forget - tomorrow (Saturday) is the 65th anniversary of D-Day, that momentous occasion that launched the liberation of Europe. Remember the sacrifice of those brave men on that day!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

It Happened

Finally. Inspiration struck. And once it did, ideas began pouring out of me. Thank goodness there was a pen and paper nearby.

Last night, as I tried to go to sleep, more inspiration struck. I ended up writing my ideas down, in the dark, on the back of some research papers. I could still read the scratches this morning, so my penmanship in the dark isn't too bad.

I can't tell you how much better I feel. I have a story idea I love just waiting to be told. Of course, there's lots to do before I write Chapter One, but I'm excited to get going. And thanking the Lord for the inspiration!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Daniel Craig...Popsicles?

I had to share this today.



Seriously. Who thinks of this stuff?

Here's the story from Entertainment Weekly:

In honor of National Ice Cream Week in the UK, Del Monte Superfruit Smoothies has sculpted a limited edition popsicle in the shape of Daniel Craig's nude torso. The frozen treat -- said to come in blueberry, pomegranate, and cranberry flavors and be under 100 calories each -- is the result of a poll of more than 1,000 women, the majority of whom wanted the image of Craig, emerging from the water in Casino Royale, immortalized.

Click here to read the rest.

I wonder what Daniel Craig thinks of all this...

Monday, June 01, 2009

Bye, Bye, Jeep

My beloved Jeep Liberty has to go back to the dealership this week. I've only been leasing it these past two years, and unfortunately, I couldn't get it financed. With the state of the economy and the banking industry stumbling as it did, getting a loan with a bank when you don't have 100% credit (divorce will do that to you) is nearly impossible.

So...the Liberty is going back on the lot.

I'm going to miss it.

In its stead, I bought a 97 Grand Prix. It's got a lot of miles on it, but it's in good shape and I own it outright. No payments to make every month! And that will help my checkbook immensely. But after driving a small SUV, it's going to be a change to go back to driving a car so low to the ground.

I'll just console myself with that extra money in the bank every month. ;)

New Digs

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