Monday, February 28, 2011


It's not that I have a nonfiction book to write, two historical articles, one feature article, freelance projects, a novel, and the fact that I am moving in a month that is making me feel overwhelmed.

No. It's my novel itself.

I came up with a stellar idea for my novel about a month ago. It is, to use a cliche, the cherry on top, and will make my novel much stronger and richer. is not an easy idea to implement, especially considering that when I came up with said idea, the novel was nearly finished.

This means going through the entire novel and weaving in this new thread.

Last night, after working on it all weekend, I felt completely and utterly overwhelmed. I also felt completely sick and tired of this story.

Sometimes I wonder why I decided to write novels. Really, there are far easier careers out there I could pursue, and after experiencing such mind-numbing days as yesterday, I have thought about quitting the novel-writing business once and for all.

I won't, of course. I can't. Even now I have a new idea bubbling in my brain and it looks all shiny and new and perfect whereas my current work-in-process resembles an overturned jello salad.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed with a project? Feel free to share your ideas and tips and tools. I need help!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Lovin' the Little Things

When I unpacked my bag this morning at work, I discovered a little Tupperware container with a single cupcake in it. My husband had taken the time to pop it in my bag this morning, without me knowing about it, just so I could have a nice surprise.

I love those little things that say "I love you."

What are the little things you love? Do you put those "little things" in your novels or short stories?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

House vs. Apartment

I've lived in a lot of apartments in my life. There are good things and bad things about it, of course, just as there are in living in a house or actually owning a house.

I love my apartment. Love it. It has cathedral ceilings, a gas fireplace, and a nice, open floor plan, plus red walls. I really like those red walls. It took me awhile to get the place to look exactly as I wanted it to, and I really enjoy it.


I'm tired of the college boys across the hall slamming their door. And having visitors at all hours. And being generally rude.

And I'm tired of trudging up three flights of stairs. While it's good for cardio health, it stinks when you have your hands full of groceries, or you're sick, or you're just plain tired.

I'm also tired of the t.v. in my bedroom since there's no room for it in the living room (and I don't want it in the living room anyway) and it has made our bedroom the de facto "den."

And...I know my daughter is tired of not having a backyard to play in. That, perhaps more than any other reason, is why I've been looking for a house to rent. (We're not in a financial position to buy a house at this point since hubby is in college.)

The process hasn't been easy. We had some criteria: must accept an eccentric but loveable cat; must have a garage; must have a backyard; and, must have a dishwasher. But the ones I've looked at have either been terribly expensive (but really nice) or really cheap (and really dumpy). Finding one in-between has been a challenge.

But then I got an email from my church email list yesterday, and a member was advertising their house for rent. I read the description and it sounded perfect, so I emailed her and set up a showing for today.

When I drove up and looked around the neighborhood, I thought, This fits us. And when I went inside and saw all that space - room for a den! - room for an office! - I was ecstatic. My hubby was happy about the 2+ car garage and the dishwasher!

I met the landlady and wouldn't you know it - she's part of that generation that I understand. :-) She's 77 and a hoot. After chatting for awhile, we struck up a rapport and next thing I knew, I signed the lease.

We have a house now. With a backyard, room for a den, an office, and a dishwasher.

Though I despise the move itself, it will be worth it. I think God was looking out for us on this one - it fit our criteria and the price was right.

Now comes the tought part. Packing!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Interview

Yesterday morning, I set my alarm (not normal for a Sunday) and made sure I was up and ready to go by 11 a.m. Then I hit the road and drove almost 2 hours to Grand Island, Nebraska, a town approximately 88 miles west of Lincoln. Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw played on my radio (CDs - I'm not lucky enough to have a radio station that will play '40s music!) and I went over the interview questions I'd prepared earlier in the week.

I arrived at the modest, white house in Grand Island a few minutes before 1 p.m. As soon as I parked my car on the curb and stepped out, Mary Lou popped her head out of the door and said, "Melissa! Park your car in the driveway in case it rains."

So I dutifully complied and thought, I like her already.

I stepped foot into a well-cared for home with pictures decorating the walls and placed on every available space. On the dining room table, Mary Lou had everything stacked in neat piles - pictures, books, framed photos, and even an old, battered telegram.

We started from the beginning - on the day that she decided to take a chance and apply for a job as a secretary at the FBI in Washington, D.C. during World War II. She was only 18 and had been born and raised in a small Nebraska town. When I asked her if she was afraid to go to the big city, she said, "Not at all."

It was a terrific time. She told me stories that made us both erupt in laughter. Memories that she hadn't thought of in years suddenly came back to her and at one point in our conversation, she said, "I haven't laughed this much in a long time."

Mary Lou met some incredible people, famous and not-so-famous. And her story of living and working in Washington D.C. during the war is one that deserves to be told.

So I'm going to tell it.

While we reminisced about the good looks of Clark Gable and Frank Sinatra,  discussed the jitterbug (she won a jitterbug dance in D.C.), and lamented over our shared concern for the current state of our country, I said to Mary Lou, "I get along better with your generation than my own."

She smiled, and without missing a beat, she said, "That's because you understand us."

I sure do.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Your Writing Projects

With spring-like temperatures here in Nebraska, I'm a little more motivated to tackle my writing projects. Here's what's on my to-do list:

1) Organize outline of new non-fiction book
2) Finish novel
3) Write rough draft of two history articles
4) Plan/prepare for interview for WW2 article
5) Make plans to travel for research for non-fiction book

What about you? What writing projects are you working on?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Is History Boring To You?

I'm diving in to a new book - and it's not fiction. Instead, I'm expanding my history graduate thesis into a full-length book. The topic is the German POW camp at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, during World War II. With the exception of a few items, I have all I need to write this book, thanks to the tenacity of the Fort Robinson Museum curator who saved me the trouble of going to the D.C. archives!

Right now, I'm trying to figure out what kind of narrative I want to portray, and I need to decide if I should take a more scholarly approach or a more "popular" history approach. I think a blend of the two is what is needed, and I intend to make my narrative "user-friendly" - i.e. not boring.

Chatsworth, England  - Oct. '08

But I'm curious. Is history boring to you? Why? Is it because you were told to memorize dates and names of major historical figures? Did your teacher have no interest in the subject and make it boring by virtue of their nice, monotone voice? Or did you have a great teacher who made history come alive for you?

I guess I'd like to get a bit of a perspective on how the average person - i.e. those who didn't go to school for the subject - views history.

What say you?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Blech and Yuck and Grr!

I hate being sick.

All week, I've pushed through the fog in my mind and the fatigue in my body to try and stay on point for the day job (one of my co-workers is on vacation so I can't take sick leave). It's been trying, to say the least.

But Friday is here, and I only have a few more hours to go before I can go home and relax.


I have an idea for a new book (non-fiction this time) and my mind is spinning with everything I have to do. I spent last night so engrossed in the project that I forgot for a bit how awful I felt.

I was reminded this morning.

I also haven't exercised once this week, which infuriates me, but I simply don't have the energy.

Ah well.

Here's to a restful weekend full of lots and lots of naps!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The American Writers Museum

Can I just say that this would be the perfect place for me to work? Not only would I get to use that handy dandy graduate degree in history that I earned, but I would also get to immerse myself in the written word all day long.

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you: The American Writers Museum.

Though the museum does not have a permanent location yet (I "subtly" suggested they put it right smack in the middle of the country, i.e. Nebraska, for a "central location." ha!), that day is not far behind.

The founder of the museum, Dr. Malcolm E O'Hagan, has planned some absolutely brilliant concepts to put in the museum including literary art (portraits of authors, book cover art, etc.), manuscripts and first editions on display, and even a little cafe featuring dishes from novels!

You can even take a survey and offer your feedback on what YOU would like to see at the museum!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Weekend Recap

Oh man. Not much to say about the weekend.

Saturday - Slept in. Worked on the novel. Read. Played a game of Scrabble with hubby and LOST AGAIN.

Sunday - Slept in, woke up with a scratchy throat and a headache. Determined to stay in bed all day long and hopefully get rid of whatever sickness was encroaching upon me. Didn't work. Took a nap. Watched "Hogan's Heroes." Worked on the novel.
No, I did not watch the Super Bowl (no cable) and really had absolutely no desire to.

Today, I'm back at work, trying to feel better, and failing miserably. Sick leave is not an option at this point since one of my co-workers is on vacation. So I must push through.

However, hubby did buy a lottery ticket last night, so maybe, just maybe, I might get lucky and win some moolah so I can quit the job and write full-time!

*cue uproarious Muttley laughter*

Ok, I'm done now. Back to reality.

Have a good Monday.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

On Valentine's Day

Once, I wore black on Valentine's Day. So did all the rest of my single friends. We were boycotting the holiday.

The year that I finally had a boyfriend in college, he was out of town at a wrestling meet. I didn't get any flowers delivered to me, either.

When I met my husband and we had our first Valentine's Day together, I was showered with gifts. He was determined to make up for all of the bad Valentine's Day experiences I had. In fact, he still sends me flowers for no reason but to make my day.

But I still hold a slight grudge against this holiday. In elementary school, it was fun since we had a party, made a Valentine's Day box for all our valentines, and drowned ourselves in sweets.

When you're a teenager and an adult, however, things start to look a little different.

So while my husband has cured me of my loathing for this holiday, I still refuse to go all buttery and gooey it. I think you should tell the people you care about that you love them every chance you get, not just on Valentine's Day. But I won't begrudge those who do love this day, even though it results in lots of stuffed animals that will eventually end up at Good Will!

I do have to admit, though, that the vintage valentines of yesteryear are adorable. I could see myself collecting these...

What about you? Love or loathe Valentine's Day?

New Digs

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