Monday, April 23, 2018

inherited creativity

I used to share some of these on my Facebook page, until I closed it down. Like mother, like daughter. While I use words to paint, my oldest daughter uses different media. She's a very talented digital artist when she wants to be. Here's one of her better works, inspired by an episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender and shown here by screenshot.

She creates some of her art (like the above picture)  on a Nintendo 3DS and posts it using a program called "Colors". She is also expanding to drawing on a computer with a drawing pad and creates some amazing art with the traditional pencil and paper. If you have a passionate artist, I recommend the Colors program and the supportive community of artists accessible through the 3DS.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

a lesson from being sick

There's something about chronic illness that changes you, and not only because it changes your physical health. Rather, it makes you realize your mortality and weaknesses. In that, you begin to appreciate the smallest of victories and the simplest of moments. Suddenly those days and events that once seemed like the end of the world don't seem so bad, because there are much worse things to worry about.

It's sad that we can't learn that until the irreversible illness happens. Those who understand without becoming sick are the truly blessed.

Treasure each moment that you can do what you enjoy. You never know when it will be taken away, nor do you realize how good your life is until you can no longer do the simplest of tasks without effort or not at all. Do not take anything for granted--not a breath, not a blink, not even a smile. Make changes for the better before you must learn the hard way that it could all be taken from you. Learn to appreciate every gift of your life.

This is what I wish I had more fully understood before getting sick. Just think what our would could be if everyone was thankful rather than envious and generous rather than greedy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Enlightenment excerpt 3

Enlightenment continued from March 17th:

After what seemed an eternity, one of the soldiers re-emerged, shoving a black-robed man with his wrists strapped together before him. 
Lilly barely restrained a groan. Several more seemed to materialize from nothing, the last of four stumbling after a shove from the butt of a Peacekeeper weapon. Her heart sank to see one of the men she considered a friend among them, and it sank deeper when she saw the rest of the Peacekeepers emerge with seven more Velokians, some of them in their ordinary clothes. 
I'm sorry. I did this. If I hadn't feared for Mychel…  
She twisted around to see the taut lips of restrained anger on his pale face. He was Pallora Fen, the enlightened celemae preparing for Ascension. Luriel, the enemy of the daemons. Velokians served the daemons.
"Don't you even," she snarled.
Hard eyes flashed on her with accusation. 
"These are good men," she argued. 
Cheek muscles bulged with the tightening of Mychel's jaw. He didn't have to say a word--she saw it all on his face.
"That remains to be determined," Commandant Renvil said with a hint of conceit in his voice. "Sergeant." 
The smart clap of boots came from behind. 
"Take these two to a holding cell." 
At a motion of the commandant's chin, steely fingers on her shoulders dragged her towards the door. Mychel followed, hobbling on a leg brace with the help of a cane. 
At the door, they met another Peacekeeper who led them through the narrow, utilitarian corridors of the carrier. Fresh air wafted through the corridors with the faint tinge of chemicals that maintained the various parts of the airship. 
Through several tight corridors and past Peacekeepers in the wider spaces, they attracted few eyes. The men and women in their military uniforms were too busy with their duties and were too well disciplined to let themselves be distracted by prisoners; but Lilly didn't doubt they were not oblivious, especially when a young officer gave her a sly side look as she passed. 
Anger sparked a desire to wipe that look off his face but died after passing, to be replaced by guilt and regrets of having led the Peacekeepers to the castle. 
Before the Awakening of the luriel piece within her, she had often cheered their swift tamping down of civil disobedience demonstrations. Thrissen might be a free republic, but it had rules and she had gladly lived by them, would still if not for the chaos that had interrupted her orderly life. 
If only she could go back. 
But now, everything was different. 
Would the daemons come for her? Did they fear her? Would they continue what Darrac had started? What would happen in Velok without Darrac's leadership? 
A pang of grief plucked at her heart and emerged as a welling of moisture in her eyes. She swiped it away a moment before the lead guard keyed a cell door to open in the brig. 
When the woman stepped aside, Lilly was nudged into a square barely big enough for a man to fully stretch across either way, if one ignored the fold-down cots. 
When Mychel followed, she dropped onto one of those cots with her head turned away to avoid the scolding in his eyes. The faint click of the door and the tap from the cane told her all she needed—she was stuck once more in a tiny cell with him. 
The sound of fabric rustling accompanied a groan. After a heavy sigh, he fell silent. 
Several minutes passed in which Lilly started to think he might leave her alone. She dared to peer aside only to see him glaring in judgment. Those blue eyes were ice in their fix on her. 
"Those men came from the same place you did—you and Darrac. They served him, didn't they?" 
He didn't deserve an answer. 
"Tell me, Lilly. Are they revived Velokians?" 
"They're good men." 
"Are they Velokians?" 
She refused to give him the satisfaction. He didn't know them, but she knew him; he would make assumptions for the worst. 
"By your silence, I assume I'm correct." 
"You don't know them, Mychel." 
"They serve the daemons. That's all I need to know." 
She jumped to her feet before him, trembling in fury. "How dare you judge!" 
Mychel stared up at her, a curious blend of emotions on his face, but she wouldn't back down. She was done cowing to him and his Pallora Fen.
(c) 2018 Melanie Nilles and may not be reproduced without permission.

Watch for the full novel in late May-early June 2018!

Read Book 1 of The Luriel Cycle, Awakening, now in paperback or ebook:

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Sunday, April 1, 2018

A good reason to unplug

I haven't missed Facebook. Twitter I still kind of miss, sometimes thinking that there's something I want to share. Then, I'm forced to realize that I don't need to share and that my brain was rewired by social media to open my life to the world.

But, you know what? I feel so much HAPPIER without those platforms. It's liberating to be without both. At first, you think you're missing out, but if you wean off gradually, it's not quite so difficult. Social media is an ADDICTION. It is unhealthy for your mental state and a big reason our world is in so much trouble, imho.

Part of this was made easier because of a situation at my day job. I have a TV available by my desk and usually have it on various news programs while I'm working, on a low volume, occasionally turning it up to hear an interesting segment. However, when I'm really busy, I keep it off and play music from my phone app, quietly so it's not disturbing to me or my boss in his office.

Well, I realized something after the busy time of the year, after I had the TV off for a couple of weeks so I could concentrate on a gazillion tasks at one time, and then things slowed and I started turning it on again. If I have the TV off, I don't know what I'm missing but am too busy to care. When it's on, I tend to pay more attention to everything, only because it's there in front of me.

Guess what? The same applies to social media. Realizing that I didn't care about what I didn't know on the news made unplugging from social media that much easier for me. If more of us would just not care about what we're missing out on, we would be a lot happier. We don't need to know what someone we hardly know is doing on their vacation or that a social media celebrity got more bling. I mean--really? Does that change your life in some dramatic way?

Probably not. So, why should you care? People are just looking for attention in the form of likes and comments. It's called narcissism, and it's unhealthy behavior, on both sides.

I still have two social media accounts, but one is instagram, for picture sharing. That's all I really like anymore, if someone can tolerate my cat and horse pics and the occasional food or book pics. And I have my G+ account, which I hardly use, and then usually just to share blog posts. This blogspot is also owned by Google. (I had issues with Wordpress that came up on a periodic basis, so I gave up on that blog site.)

Social media can be very toxic, especially Twitter and Facebook. Whether that's in the form of our "friends" commenting something we dislike or something they dislike. It's not like spoken words that we only hear once. Written words are there to see over and over and tend to stick in our minds longer. Why torment yourself? There are helpful aspects also, but most people utilize both.

Back to my original point--unplug. If you are constantly checking social media because there's a little voice in your head questioning what you might be missing, turn it off. Delete one account without opening a new one. Give it four to six months and then delete the next big one. If you still can't slow down, after another six months, give up the next most active account. I promise that once you overcome the withdrawal symptoms (yes, they are real, even for our digital devices and social media), you will feel more peaceful. The world will be a quieter place. You won't know what you're missing and you won't know what should be making you angry, because it won't be constantly poking at you and irritating you. Do you like to feel angry all the time? No? I didn't think so.

I hope that others can see the light as I have. You don't have to quit social media completely, depending on your particular level of addiction, but you'd be surprised how much lighter you feel without the two heavies--Twitter and FB. Quit oversharing your life and begin looking inside for affirmation rather than outside. You'll learn to appreciate what living really is.