Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How's the Writing Life?

How's your writing going? I'm still editing - and enjoying it, though at times, I feel like this novel is sucking my soul out of me. I suppose that's good - right? That means I'm digging deep and not just skimming the surface of my emotions.

The edits are slow - but this is how I work. I refuse to speed up and therefore, have shoddy results.

How about you? Where are you at with your latest work? Are you going great guns, or is the pace slower than an afternoon sitting in a cubicle at work? ;-)

Friday, August 26, 2011

You're Not Alone

My kitty, curled up with a stuffed animal
Sometimes, we need someone to understand us, to say, "Yeah, I get it," to reassure us, "No, you're not crazy" and to encourage us on this writing journey.

That's why I loved Sophy Burnham's For Writers Only.

It's a quick and wonderful read. In addition to her own thoughts, she includes quotes from well-known writers and even some artists on the creative life. And after the week I've had with my novel, I desperately needed some commiseration.

I found myself nodding along several times throughout the book and saying, She gets it.

One of my favorite sayings was included in the section on "Making Time." Sophy writes, "I have a lion inside me, and I have to feed it words every few days; when I don't, it begins to eat me instead."

How true!

But it is this story that really got me to thinking. Sophy says, "I fret with impatience. Hurrying. I punish myself for working so slowly, for not going faster, doing more."

See me nodding my head over here? This is me!!! But then Sophy relates the story of how Michelangelo spent eight months, along with his horse and two other men, building the road up to the marble quarry so that he could go there and cut out a marble slab to use for Pope Julian II's tomb.

Wow. Just...wow. That is dedication to the art right there. To think - I can simply turn on my computer and start typing away, or grab a piece of paper and a pen and start writing. I am truly blessed.

I picked up this book on a whim while I was at the library the other day, and I'm so glad I did. I just ordered it and it will now be a permanent part of my writing book collection. I highly recommended it!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Nothing. Nada. Zip.

I got nothing.

I've started a blog post, then deleted it. Came up with another one, then deleted it. This has been the pattern all morning.

My brain is a fog.

I blame my novel edits.

Or the heat.

Take your pick.

This ever happen to you?

Monday, August 22, 2011


Isn't it nice when you can look back over the weekend and say, "Wow, I got a lot done."

And I did.

I tackled housecleaning, laundry, baking, and even yardwork in the last two days. We've had quite a few storms lately and they've left a nice mess of leaves and branches on our lawn and driveway. So I decided to get my exercise on Saturday by sweeping and picking them up. (And I used muscles I obviously haven't used for awhile if my aching body was any indication...).

I picked some more zucchini (why do zucchini plants expand so darn much???) and made another batch of zucchini bread. I also brought a ton of zucchini to work to share with everyone. Hubby and I have taken to walking around the neighborhood with a big basket of zucchini and tomatoes and cucumbers to share with the neighbors. We simply can't eat it all.

Writing? Why, yes. I was productive with that, too. Though I must say one thing: I am a slow editor. I love to edit, but that also means I really choose my words with care. Whether this is a good thing or bad, I'm not sure.

Now mind you, I'm not productive like this every weekend. It's been too hot to go outside and do any yardwork, but we got a break in the weather and it was actually decent outside. And baking? Pffft. I barely do any. Hubby usually takes care of the laundry, so I don't do that, either. (Yes, I am a very blessed gal!).

So I have to celebrate the one weekend out of the last, er...several, where I was actually productive on more than one front!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Still deep in editing land, but thought I'd share a few photos with you of our short vacation (and some gratuitous cat photos!). We went to Worlds of Fun in Kansas City and had a blast! As a Snoopy collector, Planet Snoopy was the best possible place to be, especially the Snoopy Boutique, a store FILLED with Snoopy and Peanuts merchandise!


Hubby and my daughter just before our first ride.

We won the tiger!

Me, hot and sweaty, but happy!

The Mamba roller coaster - hubby went on this. Daughter and I elected to keep our feet on the ground!

The Mecca for Snoopy lovers!

Oh my gosh...a whole store dedicated to Snoopy and the gang!

By this time, she was getting tired...

I could barely walk through here without snatching everything off the shelves!


Love this dog!

We did not attempt this ride. We were all too chicken!

Cheesey tourist photo.
Look at the concentration!

Yet another ride we did not attempt...

Slick, the ever-growing kitten, loves to cuddle.

Exhibit B - loves to cuddle!

Ack! This may be going too far...

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Brief Hiatus...

Apologies to those whose blog I haven't stopped by lately.

I'm taking a brief blog hiatus to focus on editing my novel and working on my freelance projects. We're also taking a quick vacation this weekend before my daughter starts school next week.


I shall return. :-)

Friday, August 05, 2011

Gettin' Ready!

I'm excited.

Scratch that.

I'm ecstatic.

Yesterday I had the urge to start looking for a writers' conference to attend. While I would love to attend the big ones - the Backspace Conference and Writer's Digest Conference in New York City, I simply couldn't afford it. So I was looking for something closer to home.

Not only did I find the perfect conference nearby, but one of my dream agents will be there!

In September, I'm headed to the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' Colorado Gold Conference in Denver, Colorado. I originally was going to drive from eastern Nebraska to Denver, but after looking at airfare prices, I can fly for the same amount it would cost me to drive -- and get there in much less than half the time.

So the decision has been made.

I'm going.

This has given me the necessary push to finish editing the novel. Since I have approximately a month before the conference, that should be enough time to finish up the edits. I also need to perfect my "pitch" for the agent. I'm a little nervous about this, but am confident I will do my best.

This will be my first "big" writers' conference, and thus, a new experience all on its own. The workshops look fabulous and the keynote speaker is Bernard Cornwell, historical fiction writer extraordinaire!

If you've been to any big writers' conferences, do you have any helpful tips? If you haven't been to one, do you have a dream writers' conference you'd like to attend?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

When The Dream Job Isn't Nearby

I'm a World War II historian. Most of you know that. I have a master's degree in history that I'm currently not using in my day job. This makes paying the student loan rather painful.

My dream job, of course, would be working at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. In fact, I just checked their employment page today and saw this position:

Reporting to the Manager of Research Services, the position is responsible for collecting artifacts, archival materials, oral histories and conducting research on selected individuals or historic topics as requested by the Museum’s President, Board of Trustees or the Development Department. This position conducts research, interviews, collects materials and catalogs oral histories into the collection. Strong computer and technological skills (including editing, annotation and transcription) to assist in the digitization of the Museum’s oral history collection is required. This position also assists with Museum product development. Bachelor’s degree in history, museum science or related field. Minimum of two years experience in historical research — preferably within a museum environment.

I just want to sob when I read this. Why? Because I want this job.

But I can't move to New Orleans. Nor do I want to. I've visited New Orleans before and while I enjoyed visiting, I do not want to live there. Since I am a person that absolutely needs to be comfortable wherever I live, moving to the Big Easy is out of the question.

So that leaves me looking closer to home for an alternative to my dream job.

Of course, as a historical fiction writer, my dream job is to write my novels full-time. But as we all know, writing novels is not the easiest way to make a living. And with a family to support, making a living is quite important.

We do have a stellar historical society here in Nebraska, but since it is linked to the state, and thus the state budget (which, like other states, is not doing so hot), jobs are not easy to come by. In fact, once a person gets in to the society, they pretty much stay put. But our museum has a wonderful exhibit on World War II in Nebraska that I'd love to work with. Will I get the chance? We shall have to wait and see.

In the meantime, I'm learning the value of patience. I'm working on my novels, researching and writing history articles in my spare time, and trying to keep up with the professional world of history.

Is there a dream job you'd love to have but can't because of location or other responsibilities?

Monday, August 01, 2011


My office
Even after a three day weekend, I am tired. Coherent thoughts aren't plentiful today, so you get a mishmash of half-coherent thoughts. Ha!

1) Friday morning, I woke up with an excruciating headache and stayed home from work. It decided to also give me a nauseous stomach. Joy! The kicker, though, was that I am out of vacation/sick leave and had to take the day unpaid.

2) I had to do something to take my mind off the ickies, so I started reading Thomas Childers' Soldier from the War Returning: The Greatest Generation's Troubled Homecoming from World War II. I finished it early the next morning. It's an incredible read. We often tend to think the Greatest Generation came home from war, went back to work, and had few, if any, problems readjusting to society. Not so. Not so at all. This book is incredibly eye-opening about their emotional (and sometimes physical) struggles to cope. It affected not only the veteran himself, but also his spouse, his children, his friends, and his family.

3) Playing Littlest Pet Shop with my daughter always brings about some zany situations. I am usually the character of Winston, the gray bulldog. He, of course, emulates Winston Churchill and lately has been having trouble with his ex-wife. She won't let him see the kids because his current wife is a Russian cat named Tatiana. Then there is Poky, the Porcupine, who creates havoc by driving his car at excessive speeds, and George the loveable (but dumb) guard dog who tries to keep Poky from causing too much trouble. Yeah, we have a lot of fun.

4) It's hot. I am so, so sick of the heat. I am ready for autumn. Now. Yesterday.

5) I am finally mailing out my sister-in-law's birthday card. Her birthday was in June. Yikes!

6) My daughter starts school in two weeks. Two weeks! How is that possible? How? I am not ready for her to be in middle school. Neither is she. If only to turn back time for a day and have her be a baby again...

7) I've learned the value of having pen and paper on my nightstand. I couldn't get to sleep Saturday night, my novel swirling around in my head. Several very important ideas popped into my brain and I grabbed pen and paper and wrote them down, in the dark. Thankfully, they were legible the next morning!

New Digs

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