I made a mistake in last week's blog. Remember how I said that Where the Clouds Catch Fire would be available on Amazon Kindle for only $.99 on St. Patrick's Day? Well, due to a technical difficulty (or my failure to read Amazon's terms and conditions, I'm not quite sure which), Where the Clouds Catch Fire will be available on Kindle for FREE. No shipping and handling. No charge at all.
I recently saw How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World in theaters. Twice, actually. I enjoyed it both times, and I can't wait for it to come out on DVD so I can watch it again. In my opinion, it's much better than the second movie, and almost (if not) as good as the first. I've been hooked on the series ever since my friend got me hooked on it when I was...my gosh, probably ten or eleven.
I remember the first time she told me about the film. "What kind of name is Hiccup?" I thought. "And what's the deal with Toothless? He has teeth."My perspective changed once I saw the movie. It was amazing. In fact, all three movies, all the short films (except "Dawn of the Dragon Racers," I didn't really enjoy that one) and all the TV series have been wonderfully scripted, acted, and animated, with a great musical score to boot.
I only have one problem with the second movie.
Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed How to Train Your Dragon 2 as much as anyone else did. The animation was cutting-edge, and the scenes where Hiccup's parents were together brought so much heart and emotion into the film. My main problem is the villain.
For those of you who haven't seen the movie, or haven't seen it in a while, Drago Bludvist is the main antagonist of the film. He believes that he alone can control dragons, and he uses them as weapons of destruction. But...why? He says that dragons destroyed his home, killed his family, and took his arm when he was a boy. It makes sense that he'd want to kill all dragons, or maybe imprison and torture them if he's the kind of sadistic maniac the film makes him out to be, but...building an army comprised of his worst nightmares? That's a stretch. And I hoped DreamWorks would have a villain a bit more original than a Viking Hitler bent on world domination.
It's a good lesson for us writers: motivation is key. Yes, some people are bent on world domination, but most aren't. Characters should always want something for a clear and valid reason. They should have something at stake; a certain prize they win or stand to lose forever.
For example, in Where the Clouds Catch Fire, protagonist Alynn McNeil has moved twenty-three times in the past four years. When St. Anne's Monastery becomes her home, she'd rather die than lose it. And, if she doesn't die, she'll be sold into slavery--the worst fate of all in Alynn's mind, as she'd watched Vikings kidnap her mother for the slave trade.
Villains have to have even more believable motivations. The antagonist of Where the Clouds Catch Fire, the Norse warlord Konar the Mad, believes that St. Anne's Monastery is filled with riches and smart young men (the kind that make the best slaves). As a slave trader himself, he's looking forward to making vast sums of money.
Even Grimmel the Grisly, the villain of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World has a decent motivation. He "lives for the hunt," as one character puts it. I'm a Texan. There are multiple taxidermized animals at our local Walmart. I know that hunters take their hobby seriously. Throw in a hint of sadism and/or narcissism and you've got a pretty strong villain with a clear goal: kill things for the fun of it.
Who is your favorite movie villain? And what do you think of the How to Train Your Dragon series? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to Like us on Facebook!
Brook brushes out her hair until it shines. Dang, her hair is long. It comes almost down to her waist. I want to ask her about it, but I'm too busy trying to figure out what to wear to Texas Roadhouse.
Which shirt did I wear last time? I try to switch things up so they don't figure out what I'm doing. I pick a red polo shirt that's a bit too big on me and tuck it into my only pair of jeans. I should really invest in a new pair--when's the sale at Goodwill? I'll figure it out.
"What sorts of clothes do you have?" I ask Brook, emerging from the dumpster a new person. Even my hat's been stowed away in my backpack. I look like a stereotypical Asian schoolgirl, bangs, pigtails, and all.
Brook rifles through her backpack and pulls out a pair of jeans, a few long-sleeved shirts, some underthings, toiletries, and a white blouse. "Wear that," I say, pointing to the blouse. "But wear it over what you've already got on."
"Why? Won't it show through?"
I eye the red T-shirt she has on. "Do you have anything else you won't mind getting dirty?"
"Then do it."
Sighing, Brook slips the blouse on over her head and goes into the dumpster to put on her jeans. Then, she follows me down the street and a mile and a half to Texas Roadhouse.
Even though it's late, it's still busy--of course it is, it's Friday. Brook glances around nervously, but I go straight up to the waitress-lady staring at us. "We're here to meet some friends. Mind if we go try to find them?"
We get in, and I smile. I whisper to Brook, "Follow my lead."
There's peanuts everywhere. There's buckets of them on every table, in troughs attached to walls here and there. I grab a handful and pocket my prize. Brook does the same. There's a table nearby, abandoned, with two rolls left in the basket. I hand them to Brook, and she puts them in my backpack. We scour the restaurant, stuffing our pockets and mouths with peanuts and shoving abandoned rolls in my backpack. Finally, we blend into a group of people and leave unnoticed.
I hand Brook a roll, and she devours it. "When's the last time you've eaten?" I ask her.
"Yesterday, I got a hot dog around noon," she says with her mouth full. "You know how you don't realize how hungry you are until you start to eat?"
"Yeah, I hate that feeling." We scored five rolls; I figured we could split the fifth one, but she can have all of it. "We're just going to chill until eleven or so, then run through all the Starbucks dumpsters. Do you think you could take a nap?"
"Sure. Do we head back to the dumpster, or...?"
"Do you feel like walking an extra three miles?"
"Didn't think so. Come on."
There's a bus stop on the corner of Fifth and Evergreen. I take Brook there, and we settle down on a bench. The world will think we fell asleep waiting for our bus, which happens every once in a while. I put my New York Yankees cap back on, the brim low over my eyes, and lean back.
"What are we going to do at Starbucks?"
"Dumpster dive. They throw out a bunch of good food every time they close. Muffins, scones, bliss bars, you name it. Sometimes there's even sandwiches."
Brook doesn't answer.
"You want a sandwich, Brook?"
She's asleep. And soon, I am too.
Before we dive into our blog today, I'd like to let you know about a couple of awesome things coming up. First off, St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner, and I decided to honor Alynn's heritage by making Where the Clouds Catch Fire available on Amazon Kindle for only $.99. That's right. For only ninety-nine cents, you can get a book that took me nearly four years to write. But it'll be on sale on St. Patrick's Day only, so be sure to drop by and get your copy before the sale ends!
Secondly, Spring Break is upon us, and I've been thinking about doing another Facebook live stream. I loved the question-and-answer session we did last time, and I'd love to do the same thing again--can you jump on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/dontraidmymonastery) at 1:00 Sunday, March 10? If you're worried about not making the live stream, put your questions in the comments below, and I'll answer them on the live stream. I'll put the link in my next blog.
I messed up last night. I finished the last of my school yesterday morning--I somehow got an A in my Texas Government class despite only making an 84 on the final, so hallelujah for that--and I decided to celebrate. After church, I hopped on my computer, opened Quora, and scrolled through my recommended feed until 11:30.
What was stopping me? I didn't have school the next morning, and I didn't have work until 1:30. I could sleep in. I could stay up late. It was spring break after all! So I found myself in bed ten minutes to midnight, my hair still braided, my shower postponed.
And then my brain decided it was a good time to have a panic attack.
I've dealt with these little buggers before. I know panic attacks are different for everyone; mine usually involve thinking I'm going to throw up, followed by a post-workout heart rate and shaky legs. For whatever reason, especially when it's late at night, I tend to shake. Violently.
But by dint of experience, I made that panic attack stop in its tracks and was asleep by 12:10. How? I'm glad you asked.
This is where religion kicks in. I was raised Christian--you can probably tell if you've read Where the Clouds Catch Fire--and my parents taught me what to do when you're scared. You pray. Not just any "Thank-you-for-my-house-and-family-et-cetera" prayer. There are specific Bible verses that help drive away fear. Psalm 91 is a great place to start.
It's also scientifically proven that fear and gratitude can't coexist. So I incorporate thanksgiving into my prayers. "Thank You, God, that Your perfect love drives out fear. Thank You, God, that I have the mind of Christ. Thank You, God, that You are my confidence, and You will keep my foot from being caught. Thank You, God, that You will keep me in perfect peace, for my mind is stayed on You, and I trust in You."
At this point, the main part of the panic attack is past. I don't feel like I'm going to throw up anymore. I'm just shaking under my blankets and a bit frazzled, wondering if the fear is going to come back. Then, I bring in the numbers.
I love numbers when I'm freaking out because they never change. You can pronounce the letter A in about three different ways--without even blending it with another vowel--but one is always one, never more, never less. I couple numbers with deep breathing to help settle down. Breathe in, count to four, hold your breath, count to four, breathe out, count to eight, wait for a minute, count to four, repeat. Better? Almost?
As a last resort--or if you're driving or in public when panic strikes--start playing a song and try to find the rhythm. Try to count, one-two-three-four, one-two-three-four, or one-two-three, four-five-six if that doesn't work.
What are your tips for stopping a panic attack? And what are some questions you'd like me to answer on our next Facebook live stream? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to Like us on Facebook!
The sun starts to set, and thank God, the world starts to cool down. I'm able to put my short-sleeved shirt back on over my tank top without feeling like dying. I'm hungry. Seven o'clock comes and goes, rush hour dies down, and still, I'm standing there with my cardboard sign.
Yank's Car Wash, still open.
The brown-haired girl--Brook, I guess--comes back. I'm guessing she's acting more like herself now. She holds her head higher, she walks faster, and she seems more sure of herself. Being heatsick can really mess with you. Ask me how I know.
"You doing better?"
"Yeah. Thanks." She hands me a dollar and seven cents. "Where do you live?"
I shrug. "I've got a base of operations in the park. Wanna see it?"
"I'd love to."
"Come on, then." I put my clothes under my arm, pick up my sign and my bucket, and start walking. "It's a decent hike. Don't complain."
I glance at Brook-I-Guess. She seems helpless enough. She definitely hasn't been homeless long enough to get caught up in a gang or make many enemies. In fact, I might well be her first friend. "How long have you been on the streets?" I ask.
"This was my fourth day."
"The first few months are the hardest. And winters."
"Don't you have a family?"
This girl's sweet enough to give anyone a toothache, but I guess she deserves an answer. "My dad's dead, my mom's either in jail or in drug rehab, all my aunts and uncles still live in Japan, and God knows where my brother is. Probably still in foster care. You?"
She sighs. "Long story."
"Longer than the one I just told you?"
"Okay. My parents live in Toronto, my mom got tired of raising me, so she shipped me off to live with some--I guess friend, relative, college roommate or something--over on Armistice Street, when I was six. So now I've got my quote-unquote 'mom' Jetta St. George and her kid Sophie. Sophie's not bad. She'll be sixteen in a few days. It was Jetta I couldn't stand."
"Let me guess. They called you something other than Brook."
"They called me Christa."
"Jetta sounds like a witch."
"I guess. She drank a lot, but she just got silly when she was drunk. It was when she was hungover that life was miserable."
We stop at an intersection and wait for traffic to clear. A gust of wind nearly blows my hat away, but I grab it just in time. "One of the cool parts about living on the streets," I tell Brook, "is that you get to pick what everyone calls you. You think my parents named me Yank?"
"I guess not. What is your name?"
"It's Yank, as far as you're concerned."
We finally cross the street, and I lead Brook into the patch of woods right behind the park. There's a dumpster there that everyone's forgotten about. I turned it on its side and propped the lid up with sticks, lining it with a discarded mattress, providing me with a decent shelter. I even grabbed a toilet off the side of the road and put it behind some plywood. All in all, I've got a sweet little house.
"You got living arrangements yet?" I ask Brook.
"If I let you stay here, can you follow some ground rules?"
"The laundromat is a once-a-month deal, but sponge baths are daily here. You get lice, you get your hair chopped off. Also, I do not waste money on shampoo. Wash your hair with regular soap or brush the oils out of it, your choice. If you've got extra clothes, put them under the mattress. When we're not home, the dumpster is closed. When you scavenge, fruits, vegetables, and baked goods are your safest bet. Meat, cheese, and egg products can and will give you food poisoning. Should you contract food poisoning or any other gastrointestinal ailment, you are not allowed in the dumpster unless you feel like cleaning the mattress and blankets yourself. You're cool with that, Brook?"
"Great. Now, fix yourself up, and bring some clothes you don't mind getting dirty. We're going to Texas Roadhouse."
"How's school going?" a friend asks.
"Oh, it's fine. I have to write a ten-page paper, though, for my government class. It's about oil fracking."
"That shouldn't be any problem for you. I mean, you're a writer."
I'd love to smile at them and say no, writing an essay is nothing like writing a book. I don't have to enjoy trying to take a topic that I have zero background knowledge on and write a ten-page dissertation about why it's good, why it's bad, the corruption between the government and the oil industry...ugh. Yeah.
Do I enjoy it? No. Do I get good grades on my essays? Yes. And if you or someone you know is trying to write an essay, the following tips might help you (or them) get an A.
Most of my clothes are scattered about the side of the road. I had them folded, but it's windy today and they're scattering. I scrub harder and hope they don't blow away.
"Don't forget the windshield," the driver snaps at me through the open window.
I climb on the tire and get as much of the windshield as I can reach. I hate being short. I hate being twelve in general. I hate having to stand by the side of the road and wait for someone to ask me to wash their car.
"The light's green," the driver says.
He swears at me and drives away, and I grab what's left of my clothes. My long-sleeved shirt, my hoodie, my short-sleeved shirt, the pants that are two sizes too big on me--I'll need most of them if I'm here late and it gets cold. But right now, I can work in my tank top, secondhand Nike shorts, and New York Yankees cap.
I've washed five cars, got paid three times, and made eleven dollars today. If that one older couple hadn't given me seven bucks, I'd be a lot more disappointed than I am now. But I shake it off, toss my sponge back in my bucket, and take up my sign again.
Yank's Car Wash, it reads.
If I had more cardboard, it would say a lot more things. Best In Detroit. Four Years' Experience. Taught by Best Dad in the World.
I wish I could put that last bit on there. "You must love your dad," so many people would tell me. "I did," I'd tell them back. "He was killed in a car crash two years ago." "Oh, that's terrible," they'd say. "Do we have any more cash? Good--here's ten dollars, dear. Get yourself something to eat."
I try to tell myself that would never actually happen. People aren't nice like that anymore. Not that they ever were. If people were still nice, they'd let me work at actual car washes instead of the side of the road. The foster care system wouldn't be the mess it is. Kids at school wouldn't pick on me. I could probably stop going to school entirely and no one would notice, but I really need my high school diploma so I can get an actual job.
The light turns red, and I get another car to wash. This time, I get three dollars. That's enough for two water bottles, a week's worth of clearance Walmart bread, or a package of hot dogs.
I take a sip from my water bottle, and someone sees me. A pedestrian. Great. This never ends well.
It's a female--long brown hair, lighter than my jet-black ponytail. Jeans and a T-shirt with a jacket around her waist. She looks rumpled and tired and pretty dehydrated.
"You good?" I ask when she's within earshot.
"Can I have some of your water?"
I hand her my water bottle, but she goes straight for my bucket of soapy wash water, soaking her arms and her face and pouring some down her shirt. "I hate this weather," she breathes.
I give her a drink, and she accepts it eagerly. "You're not the only one," I tell her. "But it sure beats getting your hands frozen off, washing cars when it's fifteen degrees out, with a wind chill of negative two. Because that sucks."
"I'm sorry you have to do that."
She finishes my water bottle, and I can't say I blame her. The nearest building with a water fountain is three blocks away, and I'm tempted to send her to refill it. But she'll probably forget, and I'll be down a water bottle, and I hate it when that happens.
"I need a job," the girl says.
"How old are you?"
"Diploma or GED?"
I consider rolling my eyes. "Did you graduate high school?"
"Have you tried fast food?"
"You need an address and a social security card, and I don't have either."
I sigh. "What are you good at?"
"Try dog walking."
"Thanks." The girl stands up, a bit shakily, and I stand up after her.
"You need to rest for a bit," I tell her. "Find a gas station or something. Drink some Gatorade, chill in the AC, you're going to get heatsick. You have cash?" She shakes her head, so I hand her three dollars. "Come back with the change. I'll show you how to use it. I'll be here until seven or eight tonight."
"Thank you so much." The girl takes the cash, then smiles at me. "What's your name?"
"Call me Yank." I point to my New York Yankees cap. "You?"
She hesitates. "Brook, I guess." Her red, apprehensive face smiles a bit. "Nice to meet you, Yank."
One of the things I try to do as an author is maintain a level of historical accuracy. But sometimes that's tough. Sometimes different books and websites will tell you different things. And in that case...do I go crazy trying to figure it out, or just make up my own stuff?
Case in point: life expectancy. It's common knowledge that people in the Middle Ages didn't live for very long. You got married at 15, had five kids, and then died of cholera at the age of 30. Right?
It might be true that the life expectancy for a person was somewhere around 30 or 35. But there's a reason for that: infant and child mortality. There were no NICU's in the year 950. Some sources say that half of everyone born in the Middle Ages died before their twentieth birthday. Yes, pro-vaxxers, diseases had a lot to do with that. Things like scarlet fever, typhoid, influenza, smallpox, and tuberculosis (called consumption at the time) were commonplace, and children didn't always have the strength to survive these things.
But the lack of vaccines weren't the only culprit. People didn't understand hygiene at all. Norse people only took baths once a week, and only God knows if they washed their hands before meals (or used soap if they did so). At some point, the church decided taking baths was actually bad for you, and people went their whole lives without bathing. Sewage ran in the streets. Outhouses were too close to drinking wells. You get the picture.
Oh, yes--diseases weren't the only things that killed people. Famines were commonplace. If you had a bad harvest, if you were at war and someone decided to set fire to your fields, if you were in a city under siege...you couldn't exactly run to Dollar General to pick up some milk and peanut butter.
Now, for those lucky people who survived to adulthood, you could expect to live for a while. How long? It depended. A lot of women died in childbirth; a lot of men died in battle. But living to the age of 55 or even 60 was not unheard of. Snorri Sturluson, a famous Icelandic historian and author, lived to be 62. He would have lived longer than that, too, had someone decided not to murder him.
So the next time you pick up Where the Clouds Catch Fire (either by clicking the "purchase" tab above or by dropping by the Amazon Kindle store), don't be surprised when you find out Lukas is in his fifties. It wasn't as uncommon as most people think.
Have you discovered something different in your own research? Let me know in the comments below; I'm always looking for information! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to Like us on Facebook!
Sorry for the late post. I have a couple of essays due, so I might be posting on Fridays instead of Thursdays for a while. Or not at all. It depends on how well I'm able to stay off YouTube.
So. Valentine's Day. It's a big deal for some people, nonexistent for others. For me, it was like any other day, except that I had to throw a party for a dozen kids (two of whom were there even though they were sick) instead of prepping them for the STAAR test. And my dad took me to Chick-fil-A today. I have yet to meet a girl who loves chocolate more than some good ole' Chick-fil-A.
I got chocolate. Why is chocolate considered more romantic than any other kind of candy? I'd pick Swedish fish over a Hershey bar any day, but I still appreciate those little heart-shaped boxes with four little chocolates in them. Those are good.
And then there's flowers. Is it wrong to buy myself flowers, so I can at least pretend my parents aren't the only people who love me? I'll wait until they go on sale. Or maybe I'll just wait until the wildflowers come out and take my dog to find some yarrow. Or Indian Paintbrush. Or those little purple ones that look like Eeyore.
And one more thing: what's with the teddy bears? Grown-ups don't have a use for them, unless they know a kid they can give them to. They'll just sit there on a shelf and collect dust. Or maybe they'll be given to a dog. My dog enjoys playing with stuffed animals. The only thing is that none of us enjoy cleaning up the stuffing that gets strewn across the yard.
Honestly, I'm wondering what the point of all this stuff is. Yes, most girls like flowers and chocolates, but we need a lot more than gifts. Depending on our love language, we might also need quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, or physical touch. I'm a major hug person. If you've read Where the Clouds Catch Fire (which is available on Amazon), you'll see a large importance placed on the power of human touch.
But hugs make some people uncomfortable. My sister can't stand them. She prefers quality time. As I'm writing this, my dad is demonstrating love for my mom by hanging a picture for her. He got his level out and everything. My dog knows she's loved when she gets treats and walks. I haven't been able to walk her as often now that I work in the afternoons instead of the evenings, but hey, we both need the exercise.
Love is so much more than flowers and sugar and glittery cards. Flowers wilt. Sugar rots your teeth. Cards get thrown away. But true love lasts forever.
What did you do for Valentine's Day? Do you know what your love language is? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear reader, and don't forget to Like us on Facebook!
Christmas comes and goes. I turn nine on Epiphany. Snow falls, rain melts it, and now it's February, and we're sad along with the weather.
We keep trying to explain to Tarin what happened. A group of bad men--Da says they're Vikings--sailed up the Shannon. They stole things, but worse than that, they stole people. They took Mum because she was pretty. Da tried to stop them, but he got hit in the head and couldn't do anything about it.
In our dreams, we all see the man who took Mum. Sometimes, Tarin wakes up screaming. Aunt Sorcha and her new baby Maura have been staying with us, and she always tries to calm him down, to make him go back to sleep. Sometimes it works. Sometimes, he cries all night, and Britta wakes up and cries with him.
Britta cries all the time now. She won't nurse off anyone else, and she won't drink from the bottle that Nan tries to give her. Sometimes she'll take a few sips of sheep milk, but she usually spits it up.
Now it's March. One morning, I wake up, and Britta's not crying. I take her out of her cradle, and she's cold and grey and heavy. I take her by the fire to warm her up, and I try to wake her, but nothing happens. When I put my ear to her chest, her heart isn't beating.
We put her next to my sister Louisa in the graveyard, and I wish there were flowers growing so we could give some to her. But we pray masses for her, and Da gives the priests money so they'll pray even more masses for her, and we know that she was baptized, so she'll go to heaven. And since Louisa's there, she won't be alone.
One grey and rainy day, Da wakes up and packs all our things into two trunks. All our clothes and dishes. Monika, the rag doll Mum made for me when I was little. Tarin's little wooden ox and cart. We take the trunks to the graveyard. There's a bunch of people there--Nan and Grandad, Aunt Sorcha and Aunt Ruari and all our other aunts and their husbands. Uncle Micheal, Uncle Stiofan, and Uncle Oisin are there too, and for once they're not causing trouble.
Grandad walks up to Da; he's angry. "Don't do this, Rowan," he snaps.
I jump. I've never seen Grandad angry. I want to run away, but Da's holding my hand and would sooner twist my arm off than let go.
Da's voice shakes like it has a lot since the Vikings took Mum. "I can't stay here anymore. There's too much sadness. Too many memories."
"At least give us the children," Nan says. "They deserve a better life than you draggin' them town to town. God knows if you'll ever get a decent job."
"I've had two of my children taken from me, and by God, I'm not lettin' you take the other two."
"There's memories in them, Rowan," Nan says. "Alynn's turnin' out just like Cait. Tarin's got her green eyes. They'll sadden you worse than Limerick City, Rowan."
"You were hit in the head. You're not thinkin' straight," Grandad says.
Da holds my hand tighter and swears. "I know what I'm doing. Caitriona's not the first person I've lost. These children are all I have, and blast it, I know how to take care of them."
Nan gives a strange sob and hides her face. Grandad just gets angrier. "Rowan McNeil, you--"
"Stop it!" I shout. "Stop yellin'! It isn't helpin' anythin'!"
I start crying, and Nan hugs me and kisses me and cries with me. Da lets go of my hand long enough to kneel by Britta's and Louisa's graves and say good-bye to them. I hug all my aunts, all my uncles, and my eleven cousins. Then Da picks up one trunk, Uncle Micheal picks up the other trunk, and we start walking.
Da and I take turns carrying Tarin. He fusses and cries and wants food and water, but I can't give him anything. We keep walking until we reach another town. But Da doesn't go into town. He goes into the woods, breaks down a few branches, and builds a wee shelter to keep the wind away. He says it'll do until we find a house.
Finally, I sit down, and Uncle Micheal gives Tarin a crust of bread to quiet him. Then he hugs us, wishes us well, and leaves back for Limerick City.
We all sleep in a pile to keep warm that night. Da puts his arm around both of us, and I hold Tarin, and Tarin holds Monika the rag doll. Just before he goes to sleep, Tarin asks me, "'Lynn?"
"What is it?"
"Does it wain in heaven?"
"I don't know."
"Will Bitt cwy if it wains in heaven?"
Tears sting my eyes. "Bitt won't cry in heaven, even if it does rain. There's angels watching her."
"There are," I promise, holding him tightly. "I'm sure there's angels watching Mum."
"There are. There's angels watching us, too."
I'd just like to take a moment and thank Texas for the lovely weather we've been having. Yesterday it was seventy degrees; today's it's thirty and feels like eighteen. I went from wearing short sleeves to sweaters in 24 hours. I'd also like to give a shoutout to everyone who's been stuck in a polar vortex recently, my relatives in Illinois included. God bless you guys, and stay warm!
I met a fellow author yesterday. A Baptist organization at my community college gives out free lunch on Wednesdays (rather, they invite churches to give out lunches) and yesterday we had pizza. Wonderful, cheesy pizza. And cookies. And salad with Olive Garden dressing. But I ended up sitting with a young veteran who was working on a fantasy series of short stories.
It sounded amazing.
I'd almost liken what I heard of it to C.S. Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet, except the races don't get along and there's no common language. There are gods and angel-like beings and either seven or twelve different races (we weren't the only people talking at our table), only one of which is a democracy. There's a race of snake-like people who hate everyone and can hold bent bows for hours on end. There's Nazi goat-people who live in the mountains and three nations of elves. The best part of the whole thing, though, was watching this young veteran enjoy himself. He was having the time of his life as he told me what his stories were about.
To be honest, I was a bit envious of his imagination.
I've made up a lot of things for my books, both present and future ideas. One of the fantasy works I hope to release in the future involves a dragon and a made-up language (in which I can't even remember the alphabet, much less any of the 100 or so words I've come up with so far). But inventing a species of sentient beings? That sounds like fun.
One of the gods my lunchmate had come up with was the god of creativity; the one who made the earth. He said that any person in his fictional world who was particularly creative or inventive was said to be blessed by this god. And that got me to thinking. As a Christian, I believe in one God Who created everything--you, me, elephants, whales, oceans, forests, stars, fleas, everything. And we as humans are created in the image of God. Which means that we, too, like to create things.
Not everyone creates worlds and races. Some people, like my mother, create music. Others create cars, bridges, mathematical equations, medicines, or new ways of doing things. Some people don't make much of anything at all, but they make it possible for other people to create things. Athletes need stadiums. Businesspeople need new technology. All these things need to be created.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go create order in the kitchen by doing dishes....
What's your favorite thing to make? If you're not the crafty type, how do you express your creativity? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to check out our Kindle book!
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.