Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What Are You Reading? Sizzling Summer Edition

Tomorrow is the first day of summer. (It's also my dad's birthday and I forgot to mail his card. Gah!)


Since I'm not a summer person and heat agrees with me just about as much as poison ivy, I love to spend my days curled up inside my house reading or writing.

I've found that I've succumbed to the frightful habit of reading more than one book at a time. So my reading list right now is composed of these gems:

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys - I normally don't read young adult novels, but this one is set in Lithuania and Siberia during World War II. I was hooked from the first page and had to stop myself from reading the entire thing last night so I could get some other things done.

The Sound of Paper by Julia Cameron - Sometimes, I need an artistic and creative boost. Julia Cameron unfailingly delivers it with her beautiful essays on writing and the creative life.

The Second World War by Antony Beevor - This is a brand new book and it's a mammoth one at 880 pages. It may take me awhile to get through, but I'm looking forward to it.

What are you reading?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Livin' the Dream

Back in 2005, a new magazine hit the stands called America in WWII. I had recently completed my MA in history with a focus on World War II, so I snatched it up, eager to see what it had to offer. I wasn't disappointed. It was printed on lovely, slick glossy paper, had wonderful photos, and incredible articles.

At that time, writing magazine articles wasn't on my radar. But as the years passed, I kept thinking, "Hmm. I'd love to be published in this magazine."

It soon became my dream publication. And when I finally had a story to offer them, I emailed my query. It took a few tries and some persistence on my part, but it paid off. My first article, "Government Girl" was published in the April 2012 issue. It was about Mary Lou Moorberg, a Nebraska girl in the 1940s who moved to Washington D.C. to work for the FBI during the war.

My second article on World War 2 combat artist Ed Reep,"Artist Under Fire" appeared in the August 2012 edition, available on newsstands now. Ed is an incredible man and my correspondence with him remains some of the most meaningful of my life.

It's an amazing feeling, to see my name in print in my dream publication, to read my words, and to realize that I did it.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

The Beauty of Flexibility

Flexibility. No, I'm not talking about the ability to touch your toes or do the splits - I can do neither - and I'm not talking about anything related to the writing craft.

Instead, I'm talking about your writing schedule and the need to make it flexible.

The longer I'm involved in this writing business, and the more writers I talk to, I understand that one method that works for me will be devastating to another writer and throw them off their game. So with that caveat out of the way, let me tell you why I think flexibility in a writing schedule is beautiful...

It involves this girl.

My daughter turned twelve last month. She just finished her first year of middle school. She's growing into a beautiful young lady and I completely adore her and love her with all my being.

Tuesday night, I had plans to write. I went on my evening walk and was about to hit the shower, then head on up to the office, when my daughter approached me. "Mom," she asked, "would you like to spend some time with me?"

My heart melted, and of course I said, "Absolutely." Any plans I had of writing went out the window. This was far more important, this moment, this time with my daughter who is growing so fast that sometimes I want to cry.

We played several games of UNO, laughed and talked. By the time 9:30 rolled around, I knew I wouldn't get much writing done - but I didn't care. I wrote about a half a page and that was fine.


Last night, to my surprise, my daughter joined me on my walk. We always have a blast - her sense of humor and her incredible imagination are a delight to behold. When we got back, I was outside cooling down with my husband and she came out with her glove and softball. Suddenly, I was on my feet again, helping her with her pitching and her catching, and then the neighbor and my husband got involved, and we spent the next hour and a half playing softball in the backyard.

Did I have plans to write last night? Yes.

But this was more important.

I finally went inside around 9 p.m., took a shower, and  climbed into bed (I used some muscles I forgot I had while playing softball!) with my laptop and managed to write another page. It was enough.

That, my friends, is the beauty of flexibility. It's the ability to know when to put the writing aside for more important things. In this time when my daughter is growing so much and changing, I truly believe she needs her mama more than ever, more than even when she was a toddler. She needs me to be there for her emotionally and physically, and there is no way I will deny her that.

The writing can wait. It can be done in snatches of 30 minutes here and there. It can be done on lunch breaks at work, or during the weekend, or even when I really should go to bed after a long day, but decide to fight sleep and squeeze in just a few minutes of writing time.

The work will get done, some way, some how. It's important to me that it gets done. I'm not denying myself anything by putting it off for a few hours, not when I'm spending time with my daughter. There will come a day, not far from now, when she will fly from the nest and I will long for her sweet voice to ask me if I'd like to spend time with her.

Flexibility. Yes, it's a beautiful thing.

Monday, June 04, 2012

My Other Addiction

I'm addicted to writing, yes. But I'm also addicted to history. And if you didn't know, I'm addicted specifically to World War 2 history.

Pinterest has become my new favorite place for feeding that addiction. I have found lots of other WW2 enthusiasts out there, and I'm learning quite a few things I never knew before. One thing that fascinates me about this war is how all-encompassing it was. It really was a world war in every sense. Hardly a corner of the globe went untouched by it, and when you think about it, that is mind-boggling.

Thus, my learning about this conflict will never, ever be over. There will always be something new to discover, something new to unearth and research. Which means I can spend a lifetime studying it. Awe...some.

Lately, I've loved finding pictures of soldiers with animals. There's something rather beautiful about seeing a hardened man in combat snuggling with a dog or kitty, or taking time out to help an animal that has been wounded by the humans fighting around him.

Here's a few of those photos:

I love all these photos. They show humanity during a time of great upheaval.

So what are your addictions?

Friday, June 01, 2012

Jump Start

Did you happen to notice the little picture in my sidebar that says, "Camp NaNoWriMo Participant"?

NaNoWriMo is known in the writing world as National Novel Writing Month. As it always occurs in November and I can never participate because November is one of the worst months of the year for me, I was excited to see they offer a similar event in the summer.

Because as we all know (at least if you've been following my blog since its inception), I hate, despise, and loathe summer. Heat and I do not get along, and when the temps outside get grueling, I head inside into my air-conditioned house and become a hermit.

And, as I finished plotting my novel and am ready to work on it again, Camp NaNo came along at just the right time.

I'm eager to jump in and get going on the novel again after my recuperation from the hysterectomy, the sinus infection I got a week ago, school getting out, and various other activities derailed me from writing.

If Camp NaNo is something you're interested in, check out the site, www.campnanowrimo.org, and sign up. Or don't and do it on your own terms. ;-) Be a rebel! They're hosting it in June and August.

I don't plan to write 50,000 words (the goal). Instead, I tailor NaNo to my particular needs. And my need is to simply write as much as possible, and not a bunch of goop that I'll have to get rid of with a scythe come editing time.

Want to join me?

New Digs

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