Being a mom is amazing and weird. My child is almost seven years old, and I’m only beginning to watch TV again since–
(Crickets chirp) (Bullfrog croaks) (Seven Christmases pass by)
Someone received their gifts early.
So we ditched our satellite and we use Roku instead. The show Nashville is one of the few shows I can’t stop watching. Don’t ask me why I enjoy the predictable and over-the-top modern soap opera. Or why I giggle at Rayna’s bitch face and fist-pump the air when a character does the “right” thing…only to screw it up by the next episode. It could be the same reason people scratch private areas when no one is looking or eat crocodile.
I became annoyed by the end of the first season of the show, yet it’s three seasons in and I won’t stop watching. I’m hypnotized as the characters continue to fail and succeed and go crazy and die and sing decent and shit. (Not that last part for real. Gross.)
Those who enjoy the show as much as I have will know about how certain characters in this series portray their roles. Today I’d like to point out a few obvious but interesting characteristics from the main people in the show.
I love Julianne. To start out, I disliked her. She is snobby and snotty and came across as a brat. As the series evolved (it escalates quickly!), she won me over. Throughout everything, Julianne never lets me down in one aspect:
I’m convinced Julianne hasn’t bent her back a day in her life. I wonder how she shaves her legs. Probably LASIK.
Will Lexington will always be gay, sexy, and an unavailable cowboy much to the dismay of all straight women around the globe. Good for him, though.
Rayna James executes the perfect resting bitch face. Even her smug expression reeks of bitch faceness.
Deacon Clayborne is the most profound of all lead male characters though he uses simple vocabulary. His hair is perfect in the manly-mused way, too.
Avery means well, but he has the hormones and mood swings of a PMS’ing pregnant woman on steroids. Speaking metaphorically.
Scarlett has two boyfriends at the same time. Avery may have his heart taken, but he has fallen for sweet Scarlett lock, stock, and barrel. Gunnar is the least jealous of the three. I hope Scarlett leaves both of them and her mother behind to sing acapella in Vegas.
Some Other Reasons Why I Love This Show
Ya’ll come back now, d’ya hear?
This story is a participant in Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge.
Dagger of The Damned
*This flash fiction story has detailed gore and elements of horror.*
Daren’s limbs rested in unnatural angles on the damp pavement. Astrid spied the edge of the ancient dagger’s wooden handle that peeked out of a pocket of Daren’s bloodied jeans pocket. The crime scene officer stepped forward to block Astrid’s view.
“Let me pass. I’m Daren’s sister.” Astrid’s vision of the man’s stern expression outlined in emerald green as her eyes filled with moisture. The unusual effect on her vision increased since the news of her brother’s violent death a few hours ago.
To know she couldn’t tell her brother he means the world to her–was unbearable. Then to see his body, lifeless and limp on the pavement, drove her insane. The officer is in danger to take a swift knee to the balls if he didn’t let her see Daren. Many so-called thugs were dumped into body bags, loaded into ambulances near the cramped and stifled alley.
Druggies. Dealers. Prostitutes.
“We’ll take care of your brother.” He glanced down past the tip of his nose to her. A silver rectangular plate badge gleamed as she read the bold black print:
Trent Gusztav, Investigation Supervisor.
“I will call a deputy to escort you to the morgue if you wish to see your brother,” Trent said.
The investigator’s bland concern didn’t placate Astrid. She took a step aside to peek around him. A forensic team taped off the area while a female in paramedics’ uniform made haste and pressed a fingertip on Daren’s mangled wrist. She wrote something down—the time of death — then twirled her finger and a body bag appeared, damp from previous rainfall.
Perhaps waiting for another poor soul to suck into the depths of the morgue.
They didn’t know her brother. For all they knew, Daren is another misguided young man in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“Please—,”she glanced at his badge again. “—Officer Gusztav. Don’t take him away until I say goodbye one last time. I’m the only family he has left. He’s not like all the others. My brother doesn’t use or deal drugs. He doesn’t deserve this.”
Trent put his hands on her shoulders as a couple of men shoved Daren into a bag. Astrid noticed no one bothered to remove valuables from Daren’s pocket to confirm his identity. “Ma’am. It’s understandable that you are upset over your brother’s death. No one deserves to die in such a brutal way. The integrity of the body will remain intact. Move. Away. Now.” He demanded.
The integrity of the body.
Not Daren — a human being who had been a lived and breathed. An individual with a sister who wondered why he hadn’t met her at the Pizza Palace a couple of hours ago. A barely recognizable — cold and lifeless piece of mangled flesh, bone, blood, and muscle—body — would keep its integrity intact.
Astrid’s tears fell onto Trent’s hand. The tears made his skin sizzle.
“Ow.” He glared at her, stared at his hand then back to her. The yellow light from a nearby street lamp revealed Trent’s pale face. Distinct worry lines crimped between his brows. “You’re in transition.”
A grin spread over her face. She didn’t know why her tears had burnt him or why his pain made her giddy. Daren had the dagger the woman had given them from the antique shop. The rare weapon had powers that didn’t belong in the hands of the man who confronted her now, or an affiliate to him.
Ambulance lights glared as the Trent crossed his arms. “I could make your life more difficult and report this incident. He held up one of his hands where appeared a second-degree burn in the shape of a jagged line on his palm, “and not fail to mention verbal assault to an officer of the law.”
Astrid wiped the remainder of the moisture from her eyes. She knew this man had the authority to twist their encounter any way he pleased.
Her pulse and anger skyrocketed. Each word and movement Trent made encouraged her to attack. Intuition ached. She felt the instinctual urge to protect but closed her eyes for a moment to remember hope hinged on the antique artifact her brother carries with him. She has a chance to retrieve the dagger, but it is vital to not cause unnecessary chaos. Distractions would cause her to not be able to obtain it.
Astrid climbed onto her motorcycle; the soft seat conformed to the curve of her leather-clad bottom. She’d lost Daren tonight by way of something dark and violent. Her heart twisted into a million pieces of battered fragments as she spoke to Trent. “You’re an asshole. I’ll escort myself to the morgue.”
The echo of the Trent’s frigid laugh sliced through the night. “Good luck, Healer. You’ll need it to keep yourself out of a morgue soon enough.” His figure faded into the darkness. A blood-curdled growl vibrated too close for comfort.
The green tint in her vision for the past couple of hours cleared, and the motor roared as she jetted down a bike path beside the road the ambulance drove the hospital. She used side mirrors to ensure she hadn’t been followed.
(c) Laurie Kozlowski 2015
Whether it’s a craft project or you are fortunate to secure a creative career, being able to manage time and tasks is a big deal. Most jobs require employees and managers to perform basic tasks, such as being able to stay organized, take care of their health and communicate effectively in tandem with continuing their skillset.
At first it may seem like someone with a creative career or growing hobby is less structured, more sporadic, or that they have advantages over someone working in a more common work environment.
However, creatives have a way of becoming so dedicated to seeing a project through that surface advantages may become a block to their very livelihood: their creativity.
Time management should not be ignored, especially in creative careers. Poor planning may cause bigger problems to arise such as lost communication from valuable sources, health problems, working way too many hours and causing creativity burnout.
Here are a few tips to prevent this from happening to you.
Start the week with a plan.
It’s Monday. There are pages of files not put away because of much-deserved time off after working a six-day work week. Email is overflowing, and you’re certain you’ve deleted that important message from a lead client. You feel sick because you haven’t been eating well. Who has time to cook when you could be working?
Also, your three points daily checklist goes out the window when a co-worker needs your guidance to work out details of a project at the last minute.
As soon as you’re aware you have an hour of time to think about your schedule and upcoming events for the next week, outline touch-points as a day-by-day reminder. You may even do this as you go, and keep lists with reminders and alarms on Wunderlist or another app. An hour is a small price to pay, especially when due dates and deadlines are looming.
The point is to be aware of what is ahead. After adjusting the reminders a few times, you’ll have a fail-proof routine.
Busy doesn’t always equal productivity. I like how Kory Kogon author of The Five Choices distinguishes “busy” from “productive” in this video on inc.com.
Reserve thirty minutes to file away emails and messages every week.
If you’re unable to manage that, take fifteen-minute breaks daily, to ensure your files are in backup storage files and are sorted. Gmail requires users to make use of folders, tags, and favorites to sort. If convinced your computer is on the verge of crashing while typing an important document, set up a free account on Dropbox as a backup on the cloud. Double save files. The only drawback to this system is that you have to be consistent saving files to your main saving source plus remember to back up the file on Dropbox time. Once you’re in the habit of keeping a filing backup system, you won’t have to worry about recovering files or paying someone to do it for you. Instead, you could buy your dog a year worth of treats so this doesn’t happen or buy ridiculous items like the tiny broom slipper.
Write email responses or messages ahead of time and send them at the beginning of the following work week.
Set an alarm for every couple of hours (or your preferred time increment) to remind you to get up and walk around if you have a sedentary job at a computer or sitting constantly.
Walk for 15 at least twice a day. The health benefits of walking is far better than the risk that comes with always sitting without exercise–blood clots, heart desease, and diabetes are leading health complications related to not exercising. (American Heart Association.)
Pre-prepare super simple meals ahead of time.
Quinoa can be prepared in five minutes, is gluten free, and packs protein to keep a stomach full. There is instant oatmeal, and add raisins, Splenda sweetener, or berries (unthawed in the fridge overnight) to enhance a bland breakfast into morning fuel.
Oatmeal is one of the wonder foods in whole grains and has been proven to curb high-cholestorol.
Coffee is usually good in moderation, but some side-effects like ulcers can cause discomfort. Also, caffeine is addictive. Instead try this: eat an apple. No joke. This works every time. Sure, it will take time to get used to, but it’s better than keeling over in pain from an ulcer.
How you like them apples? (quote from the movie Good Will Hunting.)
Make a brief outline of the week ahead, even if you get off track.
Daily checklists are bound to be rearranged and moved around unless your sole mission is to be a robot. The fact is, we’re humans (gasp) I know. Surprise, surprise.
Image Source, Jo Gibney
So it’s good to note to pre-write those emails even if you don’t get around to it. Set reminders to take care of the most pressing issues on the days when you know you’ll have a pocket of time to deal with them. Preferably not on lunch break. Take lunch with a friend or watch a favorite show or read a physical book. Start a creative hobby you want to excel at and take note of your progress. Maybe join a creative community in real life or a nearby city.
You’ll be surprised at how encouraging it is to do a different type of creative project and be great at it. Soon the creativity starts flowing; the creativity blocks aren’t quite as high, and the less-stressed side of you is free to deal with the issue at hand:
What the Kardashians are doing today.
Oh, no. Wait. That’s not it.
What is for dinner.
Hmm. Probably good to know, but what I mean to say is:
Don’t give up, plan for the best, and if it doesn’t turn out right, keep creating something and being proactive until it happens.
Tiny Disclaimer: I’m not a weight-loss, health, or time-management guru by any means, but the tips in this post are brought to you by things that work in my own sometimes chaotic life.
I’m happy to share with you: Serendipity Summer, my first book with Booktrope Publishing, will be re-released soon! I’m planning fun giveaways, contests, and you’ll have the opportunity to access first news and more freebies by signing up for my newsletter. My promise to you is that I will not spam my newsletter to your inbox. It shall be a wonderful a glorious way to keep in touch with those who follow my blog and publications, so they have first dibs on the most awesome events,freebies, and opportunities. For now you can follow my blog and be updated by email when a new post is up or if you haven’t checked out my author website–what are you waiting for? ;)
Do you love funny memes and enjoy movies? Check out this mix of six movie quote memes! From current to classic movies, there is enough funny to go around. The Avengers
Nightmare on Elm Street
Pirates of The Caribbean
Seeing a giraffe on safari was a highlight of our family’s trip. We were fortunate to observe many wild animals up close. To touch them would have not only been dangerous, but it would require climbing out of the gigantic jeep bouncing us and several other people around on the rough terrain, similar to an actual African safari.
I imagine Africa is a lot hotter than where we were, only a brief bus ride from the Magic Kingdom. I was relieved to see the animals had plenty of refuge in the area, and Disney had truly done what I perceived as a fine job at caring for them though they were out of their natural habitat.
This post is not me endorsing animal captivity, by the way. If I could know every animal on Earth is free from harm, I would arrange it. But reality says another thing, so I’m sharing what I feel is more of a moment of appreciation for these wild and beautiful beasts.
We were all amazed by the beauty of the majestic creatures surrounding us. I’d love to share the moments we captured in snapshots with our camera with you today. Here they are.
To add to this, I’m going to add an analogy a friend shared with me one day, a few months back. It holds weight concerning perception of ourselves and others, and I have reflected on her words more than once:
“There are giraffes and turtles. The giraffes are occupied looking up and pursuing possibilities while the turtles graze on lower possibilities.”
She shared this thought with me just after I had gotten finished going through a list of comparisons of myself versus a few other acquaintances. I think many people have this negative self-talk going on, and there are days we have to talk ourselves up from it.
The thing is, as I watched the giraffes nibble on the higher leaves of the trees and observed the huge tortoises below them, I knew I wanted to be the giraffe. My friend was sharing her faith in me that day, and today I’m giving it to you!
Being concerned with the turtles who are content on feeding on lower conclusions of themselves does not mean we giraffes of the world have to get down there with them. Some days we will lift the negativity from ourselves and be able to help others up. Other days, we may only be able to help ourselves up.
I know the big idea for me is to feed consistently from the upper branches while giving grace to myself and others going through the “turtle phase mentality.” This challenge is a work in progress, but I’ve come far in the past several months.
In the meantime, I’m keeping my eyes and heart open to receive and give grace. The posts will continue while seeking refuge in the possibilities while finding a way through moments when I think I’m a turtle! ;)
© Laurie Kozlowski 2015
RWA Member | Founder of Book Escape Reviews | Pro Reader Participant, NetGalley | Founder/blogger @ luluzoko.com (Messy Muses, Children’s Books) | Also Tweets at: @nextbookescape (Book Escape Reviews)
Saint Patrick’s Day is one of the most celebrated holidays around the world. It seems like everyone is Irish or wants to be.
As Saint Patrick’s day approaches, I love to see the smiling faces. Everyone is in a better mood because the sun is shining, and the flowers are blooming. The formally frozen castles of the Irish and want-to-be kinship are bustling with hearty food. (bless the people who haven’t given up the resolution to eat salads for a lifetime.) Uplifting music boasts across borders and nations in celebration as parades unite us all. And uninhibited exhibitions of love and happiness that could get us all arrested are (mostly) acceptable on St. Patrick’s Day.
Though the original phrase “Luck of the Irish” was an old mining expression that carried a distinct tone of derision, the Irish holiday proves to be a way the world disagrees.
I remember my father giving me a crystal tea set, made in Ireland. Since we’d reunited only a few months before, he couldn’t have known I loved Irish made collectables such as those. I now use the tea set when my daughter and I have tea parties. I like to think that although he didn’t know my gift preferences, luck had played a part in the special birthday gift. It was certainly a blessing to see my entire family around the table for the first time.
My father and I are not close, but I am happy this year to be spending St. Pattie’s Day with my husband and daughter. Like so many around the world, I will have a smile on my face. Life has given me an opportunity to build on the unconditional love of my little family and great friendships. I believe in love and luck and blessings.
I also believe that great things come to those who work hard and wait. For two years, I’ve been blogging and writing fiction. Here is my most recent stroke of luck/blessings/serendipity, posted to my Facebook Author page:
I’m pleased to announce the first book of the Riverbend Way series–Serendipity Summer–will now be represented by a new publisher. I’ve signed with Booktrope, a growing publishing company based out of Seattle, Washington.
“Serendipity Summer,” contemporary romance/womens fiction novella was originally independently published, released in November of 2014. It has now opened the door to work with an exclusive creative team through Booktrope while I focus on writing and developing the series.
No woman/man is an island when it comes to writing, producing, and publishing a book. It takes a small village to do all of it and spread the word. Those who have extended to me their expertise throughout this journey, I am eternally grateful. My sincerest thanks for jumping aboard on this journey.
I’m happy to share this moment with my daughter and husband. They have both seen me through the hills and valleys these first two years of a writing career. I’m thrilled “Serendipity Summer” has opened a door to work with Booktrope and a creative team to take this series to the next level.
Thank you all for believing in “Serendipity Summer” as much as I have. Your readership, shares, reviews, and various avenues of support have lighted the path to wonderful possibilities and opportunities!
To show my appreciation for your support, I'm giving away an e-book copy of Serendipity Summer to a random commenter. To be eligible to win, answer this question: what would be your idea of an extreme stroke of luck? (eg.,"winning a lottery ticket", "paying off my kid's tuition," "being able to meet my favorite celebrity.") Don't forget to leave your name and email in the comments section so I can send you the book if you win. The winner will be announced on upcoming blog post, 3.23.2015. Good luck!
“Did you encounter a man in the women’s department who looked suspicious?” An attractive blonde woman, about early thirties and who rang up my items at the cash register asked me.
I was there for yarn. For colorful, soft yarn and possibly chocolate, because of being emotional. I had no idea about a suspicious man in the women’s department though I’d also added to the items a couple pair of sweatpants to accommodate the chocolate coma I expected to ensue later that evening.
“I uhm…suspicious man?” I asked.
The kind lady continued our discussion in a low whisper. “Yes. Apparently a strange man is lurking in the women’s department saying he’s doing research for a communications project, but he’s looking for women’s animal print panties!” She shook her head as if the man had committed a carnal sin for wanting animal print women’s panties.
I had an image of Duce Bigelow, Male Gigolo in my head and tried not to snort as strip music thumped in the brain. The cashier’s deadpan expression urged me to laugh out loud, but I held it in. Maybe like the guy “researching” was doing now, depending on his Monday panties or Friday panties. Weekends are made for thongs. But I digress.
“Ohhh nooo.” I attempted to sound disturbed. Not too hard to do, these days!
She nodded. “Yep. So if you see a guy wander around, the manager has warned him off. Hopefully, it’s no big deal.”
She sounded doubtful. I was on the verge of a cough-laugh because the “threat” was a real concern to her. I didn’t want to discount her claim of the wild panty thief under the guise of a mere communications research project.
What is love…baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more. Whoooaaa oh-oh whoahhhoaaa…
I squeezed my eyelids to tune “The Night at The Roxbury” by Haddaway music out of my head and focused on the cashier.
“But I didn’t see…”
“$39.95, please!” She stated my total.
When had I spent so much? YARN and CHOCOLATE. What the hell.
[Photo credit Ann Burton]
I paid up and smiled. “Oh, I’m sure it will be okay. Though, I’m sure there were better ways for him to go about researching for…whatever.”
The cashier widened her eyes and nodded. “I know! The women’s department! How weird,” she said.
“There are weird people everywhere. Seriously.” I smiled again.
“That’s the truth.” The friendly cashier shook her head but smiled back.
©LaurieKozlowski 2015, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction permitted unless given by the author.