Alycia Christine

Enchanting Tales, Intriguing Art

Category: Gifts

What Happens When Thanksgiving Feels More like a Thanks-Getting?

thanksgivingtable1-ac4x6On the eve of Thanksgiving Day, I must admit an ugly truth—I am less interested in giving thanks for the things I have than I am counting the things I want. Never mind the Turkey Day, I want to skip straight to Black Friday. Being grateful isn’t nearly as much fun as being enticed. The admission sticks in my throat like a half-swallowed barb. How could I, of all people, be so unwilling to give thanks?

How bad could a little ingratitude really be?

Apparently, ingratitude breeds catastrophe. According the Bible, the ruin of our world actually occurred because humans were ungrateful. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God and ate the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, it introduced several curses including death to humans (Genesis 2-3). Such a calamity happened because Adam and Eve were ungrateful. Adam and Eve’s exalted position of fellowship with God was not enough. Being able to walk with the Creator of the Universe in the utopic Garden of Eden was not enough. Instead of being grateful and content with being made in the image of God and having direct fellowship with Him, Adam and Eve were tempted to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil so that they could become like God. In demanding more, they actually chose for themselves much less. Whether you believe such a story to be fact or fiction is not the point. The point is that this story highlights the misery that occurs when we don’t give thanks.

This cautionary tale brings me back to this morning in which I sit in an attitude of ungratefulness for the things that I’ve been given. Never mind the fact that I sit with a full belly on a comfortable couch in a warm home with electricity to power the lights and keep the clothes tumbling in the dryer. Never mind the fact that I am surrounded by shelves filled with books, movies, and art. Never mind the fact that my husband and I actually have enough money to cover all of our bills this month. Never mind the fact that I have had a good amount of work lately to help cover those expenses. Never mind the fact that more people have been interested in my books and my photography than ever before. Never mind all of the good stuff.

A malcontent multiplies misery.

Instead of the warm home, I focus on the creaking floors cloaked in ragged carpet under my feet. Instead of the paid rent, I focus on windows that weep every other time it rains. Instead of the ample electricity, I focus on the flickering overhead light and the groaning, pint-sized refrigerator in our tiny kitchen. Instead of being thankful for the work that I now have, I focus on the fact that we could well be homeless in a few months if sales and jobs don’t pick up soon. Those major worries and minor annoyances are that have occupied my mind for the last month.

A few weeks ago, I met a woman in the middle of the grocery store whose home sits less than a mile from mine. When the tornado came whirling and swirling through our corner of Dallas last December, she and her husband hid inside a closet. That closet was one of the few things left standing after the clawing winds did their worst. When I met her eleven months later, she was buying toilet paper for the RV where she and her husband live because the repairs on their house still aren’t finished. She lives in a twenty-foot trailer and I live in an 850-square-foot apartment. And yet I am ungrateful.

During yet another grocery run, I had a homeless man offer to help me load my groceries into the car. My newest acquisitions took up the entire trunk of my vehicle while all that he owned fit inside a child’s backpack. He has so little and yet was still generous to me who had so much. And yet I am ungrateful.

Three years ago, my husband and I were far more affluent than we are now. We owned an 1800-square-foot house and had more than enough money from our jobs to pay for all of our needs. I often had the option of taking only those freelance projects that I found interesting and was able to work from home. We had so much, yet I was miserable.

What is wrong with me?

We had some friends where we lived, but most of our closest friends were scattered far beyond the desert sands we called home. We might have had a glut of material possessions, but I couldn’t have been more starved in emotional health. I was still reeling from the deaths of three loved-ones and the incapacitation of a fourth when we decided to move to Dallas, and that blood-stained view has colored my perception ever since.

Dallas was an opportunity to start anew—to make new friends, seek more cultural variety, and trade our easy but mundane living for a chance to make a true difference in the lives of others. And yet I’ve often been less than grateful that we took this chance. We’ve endured a lot to come here and to remain here, but we have also been amazingly blessed. My husband and I have found real purpose in this city that we didn’t have in the desert. Life is still hard and often discouraging, but the work is some of the most fulfilling that we could do.

Even with all of my worries weighing me down, I wouldn’t trade my life here for my life in the desert—not even for a second. I still don’t know how all of this will play out, but I do know that the God who faithfully led us through the desert is the same God who wants to restore us back to Eden. Whether we get back to Eden or not, I think is up to me and whether I’m willing to accept His good gifts just as they are or if I’m still more interested in eating the fruit of ingratitude plucked from that poisoned tree.

Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Alycia

~

The SCRAWLS blog is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with enchanting fiction, deep love, and vivid art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

FREE STUFF

Books:
Skinshifter | Dreamdrifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

Remembering 33 and the Birthday Bucket List

pansy_passion-4x6acI turned 34 this week. Hurrah! I survived on this planet one more year and I couldn’t be more grateful. While it has had its share of challenges, the year of 33 has been so much easier than the year of 32. The year of 32 saw a career change, lost job, house downsizing, 430-mile move, a devastating fire, hard drive crash, and a case of head lice. The year of 33 has happily been a little more mundane. We still endured life in a cramped apartment, more job hunting, tight finances, car transmission repairs, and a tornado scare, but we’ve also experienced so many blessings. My husband gained a new job working with good people. We found a good church home with people who care about us. We’ve made friends here in Dallas who are actually as quirky and nerdy as we are. I saw my sixth book published, started the Sylvan Scribes book reading club, was a guest speaker at a speculative fiction convention, met several amazing readers, walked the grounds of two arboretums, attended Major League baseball games, and toured world-class art museums. Even with all of that, walking into my neighborhood grocery store and seeing the sheer variety there compared to my small town’s store still makes me smile.

In the weeks prior to my birthday, people kept asking me what gifts I wanted and, quite frankly, I had no idea to tell any of them. Money? Clothes? A lamp to replace the broken one on my side of the bed? Nothing seemed right. Nothing seemed adequate because I have already been given so much.

As it turns out, what I really want for my birthday aren’t things that money can necessarily buy—although it can help. If I’m truly honest, what I most want for my birthday are things like: losing 20 pounds and being able to fit back into the sexy leather pants I wore in college, shooting photos of plants and wildlife in their native environment on some exotic island, seeing one or more of my books hit the USA Today bestseller list, replacing my sturdy but worn camera equipment, spending time with my closest family and friends, and being remembered on my birthday as someone who made a difference in others’ lives.

He didn’t know it, but my husband was the first to give me my best birthday present this week. As we both sluggishly crawled out of bed at 4 a.m. to get ready for work, he kissed me and wished me a simple happy birthday. Before anything else happened and before any other promptings, my husband took care of my first birthday wish: to have my birthday remembered by someone I love. My parents did the same about four hours later and my family and friends have kept the amazing wishes coming ever since. They all made me smile so much!

I haven’t celebrated my birthday yet, but I think I should tomorrow. Tomorrow morning, I think I’ll do some writing, finish a few house chores, get some of the junk cleared off of my desk, and go to church. In the afternoon, I’ll take the birthday money I have and go shop for a couple new pairs of jeans and maybe visit the zoo. After I’ve had my fun for the day, I’ll sit down and plan out the bucket list for what I hope to have happen by my next birthday. I think I’ll skip the exotic island trip this coming year in favor of a few more practical things.

Getting back in shape, helping other people, publishing more books, replacing the broken lamp and camera flash, seeing my favorite bands in concert, visiting more museums, and maybe hitting that bestseller list all seem like amazing goals. And the best part about each of them is that I won’t be working toward them alone. With a year’s worth of planning and several hundred people rallied to the cause, we might see all of this come together. So here’s what I’m asking for my birthday. If any of you had planned on spending any money on me, I’d ask that you would instead help me give gifts to someone else. Go online to your favorite bookstore, find a friend in need of a good book, and then give them one of mine. It’s a simple gesture and it won’t cost you more than what you would pay for a cup of coffee, but I guarantee you that it will make at least two people’s day a lot more fun. If we can each make someone else’s day happier, maybe we can all find our own smiles a little quicker.

Thank you all so much for my birthday wishes! Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Alycia

~

The SCRAWLS blog is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with vivid fiction, deep love, and epic art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

FREE STUFF

Books:
Skinshifter | Dreamdrifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

ARC Giveaway Contest for MUSINGS!

Twig_Sunset-4x6ACToday I am proud to announce two very important events. The first is that I am giving away 10 free Advanced Reader Copies of MUSINGS today! The second is that next Tuesday’s blog will finally reveal the book’s cover for all of you who have been dying to see it!

I will give away a free ARC of MUSINGS to each of the first 10 interested people who contact me today. To win a book, just fill out the contact form and send me the address where you want the book sent. I can send either a print copy or an eBook copy (Kindle .mobi or .epub file) to you, so be sure to mention which version works best for you. All I ask of the winners is that each of you read the book and post an honest review on Amazon.com, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, or another such site. That way other readers know what to expect from the book. Thank you all so much!

Now, I’m off to prepare for the upcoming MUSINGS cover unveiling next week. The cover is so beautiful that I can barely stand to keep it secret another minute, but I’m being good so that you can have the best surprise possible! Before I go, though, I will give you one hint: the MUSINGS cover has something to do with a poem included in the book.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Alycia


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with love, speculative fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

My Christmas Presents to You: Two-Tone Cookies and Inverted Icicles

Ice_Fingers-8x12ACMerry Christmas, all! Thank you all for the gifts of your support and friendship throughout this year! I am so blessed and inspired by your love and dedication.

As my Christmas gift to you, I have included two things:

The first is the “Ice Fingers” photograph above, which I have uploaded in high resolution so that you can download it and use it as your computer desktop photo if you wish. To do this, simply click on the photo above and follow these instructions:

    • Once the photo loads, hover over the picture with your mouse and right-click on it.
    • Choose “Set Image as Desktop Image” from the menu
    • Select “Fill” for your Position.
    • Click “Set Desktop Background” and you’re done.
    • Now the photo should show up as your desktop art.
    • Don’t forget to save it, so that you don’t lose it!
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    The second is my famous Two-Tone Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe. Click HERE for the instructions.

    I wish you all the joy and love possible as we celebrate Jesus Christ’s birthday. I hope you fully enjoy the holiday season with your loved-ones.

    Until our next meeting, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

    🙂 Alycia


    The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the desk of Alycia C. Cooke and/or Alycia Christine Sears with love, fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

    SCRAWLS: A Warm and Fuzzy Excerpt from “Winter’s Charge” (Plus a 15% Off Sale)

    Mountain_Ice_AC4x6Welcome to December and the snowy cold of winter! Okay, technically my corner of West Texas will likely see temperatures in the 70s today, but that was not the case early last week. We saw freezing temperatures and our first dusting of snow four days before Thanksgiving. Of course the weather cleared just in time for Turkey Day travel, but we expect winter to return this weekend.

    In the middle of all of this crazy temperature change, I have been hard at work on a tale crafted especially for those of you who love the snow. The short story is tentatively titled “Winter’s Charge” and its rough draft is about 6000 words long. I have included an excerpt for your reading pleasure today. I hope you like it.

    I stayed next to the graves of my clan members long after the fire died, the temperature dropped, and the winds rose again. I was trembling so violently that I was sure I would break my chattering teeth before the end, but if I must die, then at least I would die alongside my kin.

    A shuffling sound roused me from my fevered thoughts and I looked up to see a miracle materialize out of the starry darkness. The miracle came in the form of one of the most dangerous creatures an Alawaeun hunter can encounter: a polar bear.

    I wish I could tell you that I behaved in a manner befitting my new status as an Alawaeun warrior, but I am ashamed to say that I did not. When I first saw the bear, I screamed like a woman in labor. Death had found me and our first meeting was about to be far more painful than death’s original greeting to my frozen clansmen.

    As the bear moved closer, I shut my eyes and waited for the strong swipe of a paw to permanently tear my spirit free of my body. I waited and waited, but death did not come. Finally, I cautiously peeked with one eye at the world around me. My eyes widened when I found the bear simply sitting and watching me. Although I am no judge of emotions in animals, I remember thinking that she seemed quite sad.

    “What are you doing here, child?” the polar bear asked.

    I mouth fell open in surprise. Surely I was dreaming. Surely the Aurora had given me some last wild vision of peace before death finally claimed me.

    She repeated the question plaintively and I quickly sat up from where I had laid against the cold stone wall. “How can you speak? What are you?”

    The polar bear slowly shifted her head, studying me with an expression far different from any other predator’s that I had ever seen. “I am your guardian…for now at least,” she said.

    “My father once told me the story of how the Father Spirit sent an orca to save a fisherman from drowning,” I replied. “The orca used the fisherman’s net to drag his leaking boat back to shore. I have heard the same sorts of stories about belugas and ravens, but never a polar bear.”

    “Never a polar bear…” The sadness seemed to deepen her dark eyes. “My kind and yours are often enemies, but even I will not thwart the will of the Father Spirit when he decides to favor one of man.”

    I said nothing.

    “Come,” she said as she rolled her massive body pack onto her four large paws, “You need warmth and food and you will find neither here.”

    I crossed my arms in stubbornness and stayed firmly seated on the tumbled ice and snow. If it was even possible, she laughed when she saw my resoluteness. “Come, little one,” she said to me. “Death has no purpose for you yet.”

    “What is your name?” I asked.

    “Ukiuq,” she said the Alawaeun name for winter. “You may call me Ukiuq.”

    I rapped my little hand against my fur-clad chest in a traditional tribal salute. “I am honored to know your name,” I said. “I am Ataniq.”

    She bowed so deeply toward me that her black nose almost touched the snow beneath her white-furred paws. “I am honored as well. Ataniq…yours is a strong name. Now come before you further drain it of its power.”

    As you might have guessed, this is one of the short stories that will be included in the soon-to-be-published Musings short story collection. If you enjoyed the excerpt and wish to know the rest of the story, please look for the full version in the upcoming book!

    Finally, I need to mention that I have a 15% OFF SALE going on all of my artwork from now until December 31st! If you are wondering what to get your loved ones for Christmas, look no further than the beautiful, high-quality prints on my photography website! I offer everything from custom greeting cards and phone case covers to framed prints, metal wall art, and stretched canvases. My work is reproduced and shipped through Fine Art America so you can be sure of its quality and its timely delivery.

    To redeem your discount, simply type in the promo code YMHLAA in the indicated box when you check out. Your 15% discount will then be applied to all of your products that are sitting in the buyer’s shopping cart at the time of checkout. If buying for Christmas, please remember that December 15 equals the last day for FedEx and UPS Ground Shipments and December 18 equals the last day for FedEx and UPS Overnight Shipments. All profits will go toward the production and marketing of Musings and related projects. Thanks so much!

    Until our next meeting, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

    🙂 Alycia


    The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the desk of Alycia C. Cooke and/or Alycia Christine Sears with love, fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

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