Bedtime Aerobics

Put both kids in bed. Climb into own bed. Get warm. Start reading.

1st kids needs a drink of water. Leave warm bed, go downstairs, fetch water. Get some for yourself. You’ll need it. Deliver water.

2nd kid now needs a drink of water. 2nd kid is out of bed playing with blocks. Order 2nd kid back to bed. Go downstairs to fetch water. Get some more for yourself.

Deliver water. Watch her drink and put cup out of the way. Put 2nd kid in bed and cover up.

Retrieve cup from 1st kid. Re-tuck blanket. This requires climbing the ladder to the loft bed. (In retrospect, not the best investment.)

Return to own bed. Cover up, get warm, start reading again.

2nd kid, “Mama, I spilled.”

Get up. Fetch towel. Dry up water. Convince 2nd child that her covers are not wet and she needs to lie back down. Drop towel in laundry basket.

2nd kid needs more water. Go downstairs and refill cup. Return upstairs with fresh water.

2nd kid needs to go to the bathroom. When finished, put her back in bed.

Return to bed. Get warm. Don’t start reading yet.

1st kid, “Mom, can you come here?”

“What for?”

“I need to tell you something.”

“Then just tell me.”

“You have to come here.”

Of course. Get up again. Listen to what first kid has to say, which is something about wanting an Xbox so he can play Halo. “We’ll talk about that some other time. Go to sleep. Good night.”

“Sing me a lullaby.”

Sing Twinkle, Twinkle. Start return to bed. 2nd kid hollers for mama, so do a quick spin back to bedrooms. Find 2nd kid playing with blocks again. Put back in bed and say goodnight.

Return to bed. Again. Listen, wait. Everything is quiet. Begin reading.

Hear footsteps dashing down the hall. 2nd kid climbs into bed with you and finally falls asleep. Carry 2nd kid back to her own bed. Good strength exercise.

Get back in bed and finally relax.

Then realize that all that water you drank earlier is filling up your bladder. Get up and go to the bathroom.

Why I Enjoy Silence

There are many unseen things in this world that we are only aware of because we hear them.

When I refer to silence, I refer to the lack of human speech – no people, no television, no songs or music. I even prefer nothing human made – no cars, no air conditioners, no humming lights or tapping keyboards.

Natural silence: the moment when human kind is filtered out and only the wild seeps in.

At first, you hear the birds. They are the loudest of nature’s creatures in your typical setting. Dozens of species hide securely in the trees and shrubs, calling to each other across the open air. You might catch a glimpse of a robin or a grackle, but so many other birds remain elusive. Woodpeckers ratatat on tree branches. Bluebirds pummel hard shelled beetles against rocks.

A rustle in the branches might reveal a larger, silent woodland creature. While I waiting in stillness, the deer will  go about their business without fear unless they catch wind of you. Did you know deer make a sound like a sneeze when they warn you to get away? I’ve heard it. I obeyed and let them leave without interference.

The wind itself makes no sound until it acts upon the objects impeding its path. The trees clap a susurrus of applause with their leaves. Dry grass rattles like shakers in the hands of a well-trained percussionist. The rims of our own ears might create a low whistle as the wind blows over our cheeks.

The subtlest bending of grass blades might reveal a reptile in hiding, a small blue-tailed skink or a slithering garter snake. This sound goes unnoticed when even the slightest whisper of human noise drowns it out.

Then there are the creatures that make no noise at all, and it takes a moment of stillness to notice they co-exist in the nearby spaces. Owls perch on tree limbs, camoflaged and observing you from above. A green heron may sail in over the pond without so much as a whisper and perch on a waterlogged tree.

The silence allows me to recharge. Moments without noisy interruption permit the muscle in my jaw and back to relax. I can control my breathing to slow my heart rate and release stress. Silent moments are precious and unfortunately few and far between. The human world insists upon reasserting itself, pressing in from all sides, overtaking the silence and squashing it.

Silence

Short Stories

On my recent blog tour with Rave Reviews Book Club, I was asked to write a number of guest posts about just about any subject I wanted to broach. Keeping in mind the posts I’ve hosted for other members, I wanted to look at a few subjects I hadn’t seen anyone touch. Here is one of my favorite of the guest posts I wrote.

Short Stories

Some of you may have noticed that not only do I have a full length novel available to the public (Call of the Goddess), but I’ve also published a collection of my own short stories under the title Through a Window. Within a scant 100 pages, these five short stories capture an array of intriguing situations both on and off Earth. This book includes an original illustration for each story by yours truly.

On that note, I thought I’d look at this so often ignored form of writing. We fiction authors get wrapped up in writing the next popular novel. So often, we get tied down to writing vast quantities of words, and we shout out our word count for the day as a badge of honor. “Look what I just did!” And congrats to anyone who has the opportunity and spark to grind out several thousand nouns, adjectives, and verbs in one day. I envy you.

I’m going to trim that down today.

I love to read a good short story. I always have. Short stories were how I started my writing adventure.

So what is it about short stories that some find appealing? That’s a question both for those who write them and those who read them.

For me, short stories quell a thirst for reading when I may only have a limited amount of time and still want to embrace the full breadth of the story. I want a chance to walk away from a story with a feeling of accomplishment and understanding in one sitting, instead of taking days to reach that satisfying ending.

I’ve heard some readers say that a short story won’t give them the same amount of substance as a full-length novel. They want a hearty meal for their reading pleasure, not just a snack. I have to disagree. A good short story will give me the same sense of satisfaction as any book ten times as long, and with less time invested in the main course.

In the last six months, I’ve read two excellent compilations of short stories. The first was The Power of Six by RRBC’s own Nicholas Rossis. I found each brief tale poignant and particularly telling of the human condition. I found many of them humorous as well, and I’m a fan of using science fiction to point out our human quirks. I swept through the six stories in just a couple of days worth of reading time and craved more once I finished. I noted in my review that he reminded me a great deal of Isaac Asimov, one of the most iconic science fiction writers of all time. You’re not quite sure where the story is going to take you, but you are never let down by the ending.

The second was Scouting for the Reaper by Jacob M. Appel. This collection reminded me more of authors such as John Updike in the way Appel captured current and past social sentiments by focusing on rather ordinary characters and ordinary situations. It’s the twist that highlights the emotions and the unusual choices the character makes in the end, whether for better or worse.

As for writing such brief whimsies of literary art, I enjoy the challenge of using words in their most efficient capacity. There is a carefully budgeted economy of sentiment and storytelling that must be met in 10,000 words or less. Character and world building must take place in an instant, and the story must resolve in the nick of time. As much dedication as it takes to write that novel, it takes precision and self-discipline to compose an equally substantive work in so few words.

I urge everyone to set a challenge, once a year at least, to try a hand at writing a story of 10,000 words or less. If you really want to push yourself, shoot for 1500 or less! Practice economy, expand your vocabulary. By limiting yourself, you’ll expand your creativity.

 

~*~*~

You can find Through a Window by Elizabeth N. Love on Amazon.com

About the Book:

Take a journey through the window of imagination, into the possible realms of alien worlds, a kingdom that knows only light, and the annihilation of an entire species. These stories will satisfy your craving for adventure and thought-provoking fiction.

The five short stories encapsulate a variety of musings from the last two decades, including alien cultures, human relationships, a world without darkness, and genocide. The collection includes pen and ink illustrations of the author’s own creation.

Reviews from Amazon readers:

5 Stars – In these five short stories, Elizabeth Love encapsulates the wonder of human (and humanoid) curiosity and strength. This compilation is reminiscent of Stephen King’s early Sci-Fi days, back when he wrote under a pen-name.
Her humanoid characters are fully distinct, their culture and context and well realized, and her imagery will bring you right into the book. Overall, I would highly recommend it!

4 Stars – When I hear short stories mentioned, my mind quickly goes to children’s stories, but this book is not about stories for children, although it could be read, understood, and enjoy by very smart children. There was a quirkiness about them that made them unique.
The first story, The far-seer, told us about two worlds, one intelligent enough to explore other worlds, and the other not so intelligent to believe in a fake god. At least two people from this later world, Mela and her friend Bena knew the truth.
I thoroughly enjoyed the third story, Nearly Perfect. I like the fact that in the end Azure got to decide her own fate.
Zana’s Heart was also very interesting. That was a strange way of explaining how night and day came about, but that was fine. Every culture have their own explanation.
The last story was good too, but the end was so sad. Did Hwee-Kee just walk into her sure death?
Otherwise, the stories were very well written. I had fun reading them.

 

Connect with me on these social media outlets!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elizabeth-N-Love-Author/586497788065264

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bee_writerbee

Amazon Author: www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-N.-Love/e/B00JRM567O

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/beelove

 

Honesty vs. Politeness

After a particularly harrowing day, I came to an interesting revelation: Honesty and politeness cannot be performed simultaneously.

I know some of you will scoff this idea. You believe it is possible and even noble to be honest and polite at the same time.

But think about each of these concepts.

Oil and Water. Matter and Antimatter. Incompatible.

Here’s why:

Honesty points out imperfections.
Pointing out imperfections is impolite.

Honesty is (often) construed as negative.
Negativity is impolite.

Honesty implies an act of criticism.
Criticism is impolite.

Politeness implies avoid hurting another person’s feelings.
Honesty can hurt feelings.

Writing and reading is a combined act between two people with different points of reference.
One person’s honesty is another person’s rudeness.

A lot of people proceed in life believing that putting a happy face at the end of a line of text automatically negates any negativity implied by the writer or reader. Or that adding a line such as “With all due respect…”

Can I politely say, “With all due respect, I think you are an asshat? :)”

#NaPoWriMo 2015

Wow. April has kicked my butt.

Alas, I haven’t come close to writing a poem every day. I fizzled out about half-way through, but for good reason. We’re packing up our house and planning to move. We’ve been busy painting and rearranging and cleaning and so many other things that go into getting a house ready to sell. Whew!

It’s never a failure, though. I wrote some good little bits of poetry, sparked some creativity, and touched a few readers out there.

I’ll keep up writing poetry throughout the year. When the inspiration strikes, words will flow!  I hope every one enjoyed National Poetry Month 2015!

2015-04-30 11.25.42

 

 

#NaPoWriMo #16-Tributes

False color tributes to our dead
Sparkle in dappled sunlight as
Their bodies liquify in sealed casements

Frayed fabric blooms stray with the swift prairie wind
Decorating the tree-lined field like Christmas in April
Poinsettia red and rosy orange

Faded remnants twist on plastic sticks
Beside engraved granite markers
Bearing witness to the inevitable end

Ashes to Ashes

Dust to Dust

Water to Water

Plastic to Plasticcemetary S. Halawy

Photo Credit: S. Halawy via Flickr

Writer’s Block

Ironically, I am sitting in my rocking chair staring at a blank piece of paper wondering what I am going to write for my tenth Spotlight blog. On my regular blog, I write about whatever appeals to me that day and the topics range across a number of interests, both silly and serious. Since this is the Spotlight Author Blog, I am drawing a blank.

So I text my sister and explain that I’m stumped. I love my sister. I wish we lived closer than 1400 miles apart, then we could have these conversations over homemade margaritas. We’d be making sarcastic remarks and laughing until our sides hurt.

She suggests “Writer’s Block.”

Well, duh. That fills in the blank, doesn’t it.

Writer’s Block

I don’t see it so much as a blockage of the creativity. A block implies that there is a flood behind the obstacle and that eventually the obstacle will break down or be washed away. This sounds somewhat painful; at least, that’s been my experience with blockages (i.e. kidney stones—Youch!!!)

In my mind, it feels more like an absence, an empty room that needs to be filled in. The Vacancy sign is on, flashing its neon characters begging for a resident. And once the resident appears, there is the greatest sense of anticipation, then a spreading relief as a new idea and the words to create it settle in for a stay.

In a fit of so-called “writer’s block,” I stare into the background, unfocused, my inner eye seeking a picture, a word, a sound, something in my gray matter that will germinate and spring forth like the fabled magic bean. My eyes may cast around the room like I’m looking for something in the physical world, but I’m seeing nothing there, not while my internal self is so desperate. Something? Anything? The doors are wide open! There’s cable TV!

If nothing comes after ten minutes of searching, it’s time to make a move. Time to get up, get moving. The best remedy is a brisk walk outside. Open up the windows and air out the linens. With the Spring Equinox behind us and temperatures on the rise, this is a more likely scenario. But back in the winter months, with temperatures in the range of super-chill, this was only recommended for yetis. Instead it was clean the house. (Oh no! Not that!) Or hop on the treadmill and watch The Universe DVDs.

Sometimes I turn to drawing. With a cup full of pencils and Sharpies, I can spend a solid hour or two scribbling and sketching, experimenting with colors and contrasts, refining a piece of art. At times like these, it isn’t a complete absence of creativity that’s causing the problem, just the medium desired by this spiritual manifestation of my soul. The guests want to switch rooms to get a better view of the countryside. They are welcome to any open suite, as long as they offer an exchange.

#NaPoWriMo #15-This is My Smile

This is my smile
I put it on carefully
For you

You see, I’m not really smiling
No, I’m not
But I’m pretending to be

Beneath this forced upturn
I’m thinking of all the things
You deserve to hear
All the things you won’t like

I could be hurtful
I could be hateful
I could be…

Here is my smile
I put it on carefully
But it is aching

 

#NaPoWriMo #14-Anger

Anger curls my toes and fingers
Like centipedes beyond my control
Writhing against my sides
Eager to encircle the unsuspecting prey

Anger casts my face aglow
Like sunfire in July
My hair feels like burning twine
Or Medusa’s enchanted snakes

Anger clenches my heart
Like a fist around my throat
Stealing my pulse and my breath
Until I lash out to escape.

I scream
I am the ache
I am the anger

Anger - madstreetz

 Photo Credit: madstreetz via Flickr