Archive for the ‘announcements’ Category

The Life Mosaic

Thank you for subscription over the years. I’ve started a new blog at The Life Mosaic and hope you’ll subscribe there as I suspect this blog will remain fallow.

Again, thank you for all of your support and I hope to see you at The Life Mosaic.



My El Salvador blog

I’ll be in El Salvador from March 18-26, 2010 for a seminary trip. You can subscribe to and read my blog about the trip here:


I'm in the Fringe Festival.

Well, that didn’t take long.

After the lottery happened on Wednesday and I announced here on Thursday that I was number one on the waiting list, I got the call from Mark about twenty minutes ago offering me a performance slot. I took it and it appears I’ll be producing my first show in the Minnesota Fringe Festival.

I have two show ideas and I’m exploring both possibilities. One show is my solo improv comedy show, The Uncle Ukulele Show, which would be a lot of fun. I haven’t performed it in Minneapolis for more than a twenty-minute set while my last few festival appearances were headlining gigs and I had 40-50 minute sets. The show really developed into something fun and it’s a good direction to go. The Fringe and show length would be quite apropo, it’s a good show, and I’d love to do it.

The other show interests me yet the logistics are overwhelming. It’s an ensemble comedy piece with writing and props and rehearsal and waivers and biggest of all, possibly working with a lawyer to secure adaptation rights. If the legal side works out, I’ll go for it. If not, I won’t.



Categories: announcements

I'm almost in the Fringe Festival.

The Minnesota Fringe Festival is one of the largest theater festivals on the continent and it’s awesome. I’m also very, very close to being a part of that awesomeness this year.

It’s a non-juried festival and they have so many applicants they end up holding a lottery. It’s truly luck of the draw to get a show in and in my time of applying every year since 2005, I’ve ended up on the waiting list. The best place I was in was somewhere in the mid-60s and worked my way down to the mid-30s. This year’s lottery happened last night and in terms of my track record it is no exception, in that I’m yet again on the waiting list but there’s a great big difference this year.

I’m number one on the waiting list.

In a lot of ways, it means I’m essentially in the festival. At least one company is bound to bow out and I’m excited to receive the call. That said, I’m in producer mode and yet don’t want to count those chickens before they hatch and what-not. So until I get the call, I’ll be content with the grin on my face when I read the results of the waiting list and watch the lottery video (7:30 minute mark). Thanks, too, for everyone who clapped and cheered when they announced my name. I wasn’t there so I don’t know who it was but thanks all the same.

I’ll keep you updated. Hopefully, for the next few months! 🙂


Categories: announcements

We're going through growing pains.

Just poppin’ in to say we’re doing some behind-the-scenes work with the blog and we’ll try to make it as smooth as possible a transition.

Upcoming entries:

Ten Great Chase Sequences

Fiction on a Stick

Conan O’Brien and Cynicism

Do You Self-Identify as a ‘Young Writer’?

When Writers Write About Childhood

Rare Books and Signed Books I’ve picked up in the last few months

Great Monday Prompts

Okay, hope that whets the appetite. Spread the word, let’s get some folks subscribed, cool?

See you soon,


Categories: announcements

Scrawlers will match your Haiti relief donation

Barry and I thank you for reading.

UMCOR is the United Methodist Committee On Relief and an organization I know and trust. Both the mission trip I did in Texas in 2008 and the mission trip I did in Iowa in 2009 were groups that worked through UMCOR and I was impressed by their professionalism, their efficiency, and their ability to organize volunteers to do real hands-on work. Even more importantly, they genuinely care about the people they’re helping. Make your donation count 200% when you join Barry and me in supporting UMCOR’s Haiti relief.

Scrawlers will match our readers’ total donations to UMCOR, dollar-for-dollar, up to $200. Together, we can raise up to $400 to help people in immediate dire need. If you haven’t donated yet, here’s a great way to get started. If you’ve already donated, amazing, we’re hoping you can give just a little bit more. Remember, every little bit helps. We’ll even sweeten the deal: one random donor will receive a $10 gift card.

Here’s how to participate in the Scrawlers dollar-for-dollar Haiti relief fund:

1. Click thru to the UMCOR donation website.

2. Make your donation in any amount. UMCOR is a registered 501(c)(3) charity. All gifts are tax deductible.

3. Let us know you donated to UMCOR by leaving a comment on this blog post with the amount you donated. We’re using the honor system on this one, so play nice. (Note: If you’re reading this on our Facebook note feed, PLEASE be sure to make your comment at the blog, not Facebook. Cool? Cool.)

This opportunity ends on January 31, 2010 at 11:59pm CST or when readers donate $200 total, whichever comes first. On February 1, we’ll randomly select and announce the winner of a $10 gift card (one entry per person, the amount you donate has no impact on your chances of winning the gift card).

Help Haiti Now, Help Haiti Later

The most important thing to keep in mind about Haiti relief, or any relief effort, is the help these people will need in the years to come. For example, the Texas mission trip I did in 2008 was to help repair homes damaged by Hurricane Rita in 2005 – three years before we got there. I remember being overwhelmed by how much work was still left to be done and how much remains. I can’t imagine what Haiti’s going to need come one, five, even ten years from now. Let your donations of time and money continue long past this moment of initial attention.

Can’t Donate Money? Donate Time Through “Feed My Starving Children”

We know not everyone can give money right now so here’s an easy and fun way to give your time. If you’re in the Twin Cities or Chicago metro areas, we encourage you to give your time to Feed My Starving Children. This organization asks volunteers to package well-balanced meals that go out to people in need in over sixty countries, including their number one mission site – Haiti. They have one million meals on the ground in Haiti and hope to get another three million there as soon as possible. I’ve volunteered at FMSC several times with my youth group and it’s both touching and really fun.

This is an experiment.

Last thing. This moment of philanthropy is an experiment, one we’re hopeful about. There’s potential for more opportunities like this and we hope you’ll continue to support Scrawlers as we try giving time, attention, and a little cash to causes we care about. Keep your creative spark alive at Scrawlers and we hope to hear from you this month.


Nate Melcher and Barry Hess co-founders

My Ten Biggest Missed Blog Opportunities of 2009

I have a little saying around my desk that goes, “Thinking about writing isn’t writing. Writing is writing. So write.” I didn’t take my advice very well this year and ended up thinking about writing a lot more than actually doing it. Here are ten examples of how I could have written more here. These are missed opportunities, folks, learn from my mistakes.

10. I didn’t finish blogging about the Chicago Improv Festival.

I had grand intentions of reviewing the shows I saw (most were great), reminiscing about the fun times I had with friends (there were plenty), and doing a little self-critique of my own show (it went pretty well, if I do say so myself). If you think that’s bad, I didn’t touch upon my headlining at the Milwaukee Comedy Festival one bit. That was one of the best shows of my life.

9. I didn’t follow up on my reading list for the summer.

Mostly because I only read about half of what I intended to read. I can’t say I’m surprised.

8. I didn’t follow up on my summer writing plan.

See above.

7. I didn’t tell you what I thought of Road Dogs.

This book is great and deserves a review. I want to make that happen.

6. I didn’t finish blogging about LYFE Camp.

This one’s a real bummer because I receive more comments from readers on these blogs than anything else I write. On those days when I feel like I’m writing in a vacuum I could do worse than to remember that when I actually know I have readers I’d best give them something to read.

5. I didn’t post the “retro posts” I said I would put up.

Like numbers eight and nine, I can’t say I’m surprised. They’re still on my dashboard, half-written and waiting for my return.

4. I apparently choose to quit blogging the day I turned thirty.

Here’s where the truth comes out – I’ve had a tremendous year of stress. I’ve often used writing to get me through stress. Instead, I turned my back on it and the result is a near five-month stretch of radio silence.

3. I didn’t write about teaching.

This one was a difficult decision but I made it on purpose. I didn’t feel it was appropriate to write about my classroom experiences while teaching though now that I think of it, I certainly could have written about which texts I was using and other technical issues. Perhaps my reflections on teaching will crop up in the future here.

2. I didn’t write about getting laid off.

I taught for one full academic year outside of my MFA as a temporary part-time instructor and got an email that I wouldn’t have any classes to teach in the fall five days after my wife was in a serious car accident. I really didn’t tell anybody about this and for the last nine months or so I’ve seen surprised face after surprised face as I casually mentioned that I wasn’t teaching anymore. Can I just say that no matter how noble it is to support one’s partner and let the support others give them be at the forefront of how you handle their bad luck, it’s completely okay to acknowledge your own simultaneous bad luck. Kelly would be the first to agree with me, and it’s a lesson learned.

1. I didn’t write about enrolling in seminary.

I’m a first-year Master of Divinity student at United Theological Seminary and a candidate for ordination in the United Methodist Church. Those who read this blog with regularity in 2009 – not that there was a lot of regular blog posts in 2009, but whatever – probably put two and two together with mission trip stories, LYFE Camp tales, and church men’s book club selections that this was on the horizon. I’ll give this one more attention in 2010.

I’m not down on myself for any of this and don’t think this post a pity party. Rather, this is me acknowledging how I could have come up with some great writing and I just didn’t do it. I was stressed, I was busy, I was overwhelmed. Was writing there for me? Certainly. But for some reason I resigned myself to letting go of it for a while. I hope you don’t do what I did. If you have, write to me and let me know about it. And if you haven’t, kudos to you, dear reader.

If anything, it’s made me hungry to stop thinking about writing and to just plain write.

I hope to see you in 2010.