Monday, November 30, 2009

Great Weekend

Wow. Had a wonderful weekend with the family. Food, football, more food, card games, laughter, naps, friends, and more laughter.

I'll post some photos when I get them downloaded. Got home late last night, so I didn't have time (or the energy) to get out the camera.

I'll definitely need to get back to the gym, though, after all the food I ate!

How was your weekend?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Because It's Too Funny NOT To Share

My daughter didn't have school today. Thus, I told her she could fall asleep watching a movie last night. Which she did. Two movies, in fact, as I found out this morning. Although I was not pleased by her subterfuge which led to a decided lack of sleep, I at least knew that she could take a nap on the drive home to western Nebraska.

Anyway, I thought she might be just a bit tired today, but this was confirmed when we were getting ready this morning.

She came out into the living room and said, "Mom, what is wrong with these jeans???"

She had them on backwards.

"Umm," I said, trying not to laugh, "they're not supposed to go that way."

She looked down at her pants, realized what she'd done, and burst out laughing.

We're still laughing about it. What a memory!

Monday, November 23, 2009

What Makes a Great Character?

I just finished reading Swedish writer Stieg Larsson's novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It was a great read and a definite page-turner. But the one thing that really captured me was the main character.

Her name is Lisbeth Solander and she is so unique, you can't help but wonder what makes her tick. She's a skinny 24-year-old computer hacker, with tattoos and piercings, a penchant for doing what needs to be done (even if it's illegal) and a loner. She comes to life on the page. Larsson does an incredible job of creating her, of making her real, yet still manages to keep some of her secrets that really are the backbone of who she is. It's a fascinating technique. As a reader, you really want to know what those secrets are - it makes her all the more intriguing. But Larsson doesn't tell you.

Of course, since there are two more books in the series, I imagine that some of these secrets will be revealed. But it doesn't detract from the power of her character in the first book.

What makes a great character for you in a novel? How do you try and translate this to your own work?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Spontaneity

Late last night, I decided to take today off from work. I needed a "me" day. No traveling, no running errands, no plans. Just a true day off.

It's been glorious. I already have over 1,000 words written. More are to come. This afternoon, I'll pick my daughter up from school - something I never get to do - and we are going shopping at the mall.

Spontaneity is the spice of life.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Great Experiment: A Year Later

A year ago, I blogged about an experiment I was doing in my personal life. After a life-altering situation (i.e. divorce), I was living in a new apartment and trying to figure out what it was that I wanted in my new life.

I determined that getting rid of t.v. was one of those things I definitely wanted.
How have I done this past year? Did I capitulate and get cable?

Nope.

I have -zero- channels on my two televisions. One t.v. is in my daughter's room. It is hooked up to her Playstation, GameCube, and DVD player. The other t.v., a miniscule thing in my bedroom, is hooked up to a DVD played and is lucky to be turned on once a week, if that.

It is so normal for me to not have t.v. channels that I don't miss it. At all.

What have I learned from my experiment that has actually morphed into a lifestyle?

Here's a list of pros and cons:

Pros

1) My daughter is not bombarded with endless advertisements for the "latest new toy!" and that means I don't have to hear the endless dialogue of, "I want this, I want that!" Instead, my daughter has developed her own interests and only wants things that she is really interested in - not the latest fad.

2) When I am bored, I no longer have the option of turning on the t.v. and spending mindless hours vegging in front of it, watching stuff that I don't need to watch. This forces me to do other things. Read. Write. Embroider. Take a drawing lesson with my daughter. Take a walk.

3) No t.v. noise. Ahhh...do you know how blissful this is? Before, the t.v. was always on at our house and I really got sick and tired of listening to the loud commercials and jibbering voices. Now I listen to music or radio programs or absolutely nothing at all. Heavenly.

4) I watch what I want to watch. I have a huge DVD collection and if I am in the mood for a movie, I can choose one. Here's the funny thing. When I realize that a movie will take approximately two hours out of my time to watch, I often don't watch it - that's two hours of time that could be better spent doing something else. Of course, there is an exception to this rule - sometimes my brain needs a break and vegging on my bed with a bag of popcorn and watching a movie is just what I need. I allow myself that.

5) No reality shows. 'Nuff said.

Cons

1) I can't watch some of the programs that I'd really like to watch - namely those that appear on The History Channel or PBS. There is a new program out on The History Channel called World War II in HD that I'd really like to watch, but can't. Simple solution - rent it on DVD and watch it on my time. So I suppose this is a pro/con.

2) Mad Men. This is the only show that I watch and really enjoy and wouldn't mind watching in "real time." Fortunately, the glory of the Internet makes it possible to watch the next day - for free. Again, on my time. Another pro/con.

Really, there aren't many cons - if any. I have to conclude that my experiment was a resounding success, so much so that it is just how my life is now. Of course, I don't knock those who do watch t.v. I've just learned that it's not for me.

No t.v. Which means more reading. More writing. More
living.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vote for Suzanne!

I read Suzanne McMinn's blog, Chickens in the Road, every single day. I love her stories, her wit, her pictures of her farm animals, her recipes, her crafts, and her unfailing ability to make me smile. I've blogged before about how Suzanne gave me the courage to help me find my happiness.

Now it's time to give back. Suzanne is trying to land a blogging job that will help her stay afloat as she is a single mother trying to make a go of it on her farm in West Virginia. She's as frugal as they come, but with three teenagers, it's still hard to make ends meet. Getting this job would be a true blessing to her.

If you have a chance, go and watch her video entry and vote for Suzanne. Help a fellow writer out!

EDIT: You can vote once per day. :-)

Monday, November 16, 2009

A World Without Books...


I just got back from the library and I can't wait to go home and start reading. I've been waiting for one book in particular to be available for awhile and when I spotted it on the "New Releases" table, I snatched it up.

As I walked back to the office (thank goodness the library is only a block away), I thought, "Life is better with books."

Then I thought, "What if we didn't have books?" Horrors!

So how would you finish this sentence?

"A world without books..."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Do You Write What You Want to Read?

There's an old axiom in the writing world: write the book that you want to read, but can't find.

As I ponder that statement, I realize that most of the time, I don't follow it. Why? One simple reason: I can't write the books that I want to read and can't find.

I like intricately-plotted, danger-filled novels full of spies and bad guys and romance and thrills. When they are set during World War II, I am a very happy camper. I devour those types of novels. Greg Iles' Black Cross, Ken Follett's The Eye of the Needle, and Jeffery Deaver's Garden of Beasts are great examples of the types of novels I love.

Unfortunately, I can't write those types of novels. Don't get me wrong - I wish I could. But my stories are far more simpler. When I have attempted to go the complicated, danger-filled route, I stumble around and more often than not get a huge case of writer's block because I can't figure the darn thing out. I have lots of notes on these failed novels and plots. But the novels I've finished - three - are nowhere near that type of thriller that I love to read.

So in this case, I'd have to say that axiom doesn't quite work for me.

What about you?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Because I Am a History Geek...


I couldn't resist posting this, and it seems appropriate for Veterans Day.

The Band of Brothers is coming to my town.

*squeal*

Ok, for those of you who do not know why this is such a big deal for me, a quick background: I love World War II history. This is what I focused on when I received my MA in history. The Band of Brothers was originally made famous by Stephen Ambrose's book by the same name, and then HBO turned it into a miniseries that won countless awards and was produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.

The Band of Brothers are specifically called Easy Company, and were part of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. They went into France on D-Day and ended up at Hitler's Eagle's Nest. Their stories are nothing short of remarkable.

When I saw the headline in my newspaper, I immediately sent a text to my brothers (aha! See? The text is easier in this instance since my brothers are both busy with corn harvest and it's too loud to talk in those combines, y'know!) and an email to my dad.

"Come to Lincoln! The Band of Brothers will be here!"

Why did I contact my brothers and my dad?

Well, I believe all three of them ordered HBO specifically so they could watch the Band of Brothers miniseries. Dad has read the book.

Now you see where I get my fascination with World War II. It runs in the family.

The surviving members of the Band of Brothers will be flown into Nebraska and will be at the Strategic Air and Space Museum. For more details, check out this news story.

I love reading about history, watching it on the big screen, and discussing it with others. But the best part of history is actually speaking to those people who lived it.

I'll get to do that next month.

Veterans Day 2009


To all those who served and are serving our country, thank you for your service.
Remember to thank a veteran today.

Monday, November 09, 2009

This Time, It's a Yes


Go ahead. Ask me again.

Are you writing?

YES!
And it feels wonderful.

Managed to get some character issues worked out, which made the floodgates open and everything now make sense. Love it when that happens.

It was a relaxing weekend all around. Finished a book (my first Suzanne Brockmann and it was good, yet a bit predictable
), watched Song of the Thin Man, took a nap, made a roast in my slow cooker (and it turned out AWESOME), and my daughter and I headed to Hobby Lobby to get some art projects to work on.
I love low-key weekends. They recharge me for the work week ahead.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Are You Writing?

Are you writing? Are you working on your novel, short story, article?

My answer: No. *gulp*

I admit it. I haven't been writing this week. I've been reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield that I won from Jenna's contest (thanks, Jenna!) and it's a very direct call to get off your tush and just do it. It specifically talks about Resistance and how that derails us at every opportunity possible.

Well, it's been derailing me this week. I've allowed my personal life to interfere with my writing instead of using my writing as an escape, a relief, a chance to get my mind off what's going on in my world and focus on something else.

I hope to get back on track this weekend so that next time I ask this question, I can answer with a resounding, "YES!"

What about you? Are you writing?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Images


There she is, walking in the inky darkness, D.C.'s lights behind her. She wears a tan trench coat, her feet encased in a pair of high heels. A fedora lays low on her brow, her curls springing out from underneath it to bounce on her neck. Her hands are clenched in her pockets and she keeps her gaze focused ahead, ready for...what? Danger? Surprise? Regardless, she won't be caught unawares.

Who is she?

I don't know.
She popped into my head last night and all I have is this startling image of her and her name. She has a story. A good one. But she's not talking yet, though I think she's getting ready to spill.

My pen is waiting.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Halloween Weekend

Had a nice weekend. Amazingly, the roads were completely fine on the drive home - no snow or ice at all. On Saturday, the sun was out and melted the majority of the snow and it was a mild evening for trick or treating.

My daughter and my mom made her costume this year - she was a ghost dog. This is what she looked like:
We also went bowling and I was quite surprised at how well my daughter does! Granted, she still uses the bumper pads, but she's got a good arm on her. Must take after her mom. Ha! Ok, ok, her dad is a pretty good bowler, too. I'm very thankful that my ex and I get along well and are able to do things together as a family still. That is a blessing for all of us.

I had to
share this photo - this is a mustache she got out of one of those coin vending machines.

I'm also pleased to say that the book on CD was an awesome idea. I listened to it the entire way to western Nebraska and also on the drive back home. In fact, I was on the very last CD when we pulled into town and wished I had a few more miles to drive so I could finish it! I figure I'll listen to it on the drive to work tomorrow.

I'm ready to stay put for awhile. I made three trips home in the month of October - that's roughly 1800 miles I put on my car!

Now, though, it's time to focus on the writing. I'm looking forward to burying myself in the story and forgetting the cares of the world for awhile!

New Digs

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