It's the holiday season

This time of year can feel really hectic, but take time to slow down. Read on for a special story from my own past.

Also, like I promised in last month's newsletter, I've included an excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel, Confessions of a Former Zombie.

Stop and Admire the Lights

December 21, 2012

I really enjoy being a dad. Here's what happened tonight:

As I was preparing to give Alex his bath tonight, he stared out the window at one of the neighbor's houses. "Lights out there, Dad! Lights!"

"Yep, you're right," I said. "They're pretty, aren't they?"

"Yeah, lights!"

I paused a moment so I could change the subject. "Come on, bud. Time for bath!"

I was tired. It's been a long week--late nights, early mornings, the stress of trying to finish things at work before a long vacation. I was already in sweat pants, looking forward to maybe watching a movie before heading to bed myself.

I went to the bathroom to start the water. He padded along behind me, but then darted to his room. As I reached for the faucet, he came back with some outdoor clothes.

"Lights?" His voice trembled, realizing that we were about to do the normal routine, and that meant he'd soon be in bed. I could tell he was about to cry.

As a parent, I prefer to maintain routines. According to the research I've read, it's good for kids to know what to expect each day. This works for us--I rarely need to discipline him (other than the occasional playing too rough with his brother or the cats). On the other hand, I'm very mindful of helping my kids develop their independence. I want them to feel like their opinion matters.

I took my hand off the faucet. "You know, Alex, you're right. Let's break the rules and go look at some lights."

We spent a half hour driving around Elgin, looking at all the lit-up houses. We talked constantly, pointing out the colors and the stars and the snow men. Alex had a blast (I did too), and when we got home, he went to bed without complaint. Even though I was still exhausted from the stress of the week, that half hour helped melt that stress away.

Sometimes we get so stuck in our routines that we forget to stop and admire the lights. I hope you take the time to break the rules with your family this holiday. Or on a random Monday. Our time here is short, and knowing when to give in on something small can make a huge difference to a little boy. And his dad.

Enjoy life. It matters.
Author's note: I don't remember anymore what made me feel stressed that week almost five years ago, but every time I see Christmas lights, I think of this story. It's amazing how such a little thing can impact your life forever.

NaNoWriMo update:
Confessions of a Former Zombie

I wrote ~25,000 words on Confessions of a Former Zombie this month. While this was short of my goal, it's still pretty significant progress. I'm hopeful to maintain my pace and finish the first draft in December.

As a reminder, here's the book blurb:

Edward Lake lost everything during the zombie apocalypse: his family, his home, and even his humanity. When the government discovers a cure for zombism, his body is restored, but his mind remains broken. To become human again, Edward must overcome his guilt over those he killed, avoid angry mobs who blame him and other survivors for the deaths of millions, and perhaps even find someone to love.

Excerpt from Confessions of a Former Zombie

As a former zombie, I’ve done some unspeakable, unforgivable things.

I’d like to say that I have no memories of my time as a zombie. I’d like to say I don’t remember my first smell of fear, my first taste of blood, or the thrill of my first kill. I’d like to say I watched in horror at every action I did, and that my mind recoiled as my body betrayed me.

That would be a lie.

I relished every moment.

In fact, every bite filled me with intense pleasure, even as my victims screamed. I felt no guilt, no desire for anything more than my next taste of meat. I’d never known that life could feel so complete.

That’s when someone discovered a cure.

Soon after that, I rediscovered guilt.

I suppose in some ways I’m lucky. I was still fresh enough to save. Most zombies weren’t. They’re gone now, and part of me misses them.

Dr. Hansel thinks that recording my thoughts might help me process my emotions. “If nothing else, Ed,” she says, “it will offer a rare glimpse into the mental costs of this disease. It might be important for the future.”

Perhaps she’s right.

It all started on the day I made one stupid mistake.
Want more? Contact me to be added as an early reader.



Upcoming events

I'm taking the month off from events to focus on family, but some of my friends are hosting other events. Please check them out and support them too!

Sunday, Dec. 3 - 2-4PM -- Book folding class at the Rochester Public Library
Friday/Saturday, Dec. 8-9 - Times vary -- Gift Book and Bake Sale at the Rochester Public Library
Saturday, Dec. 16 - 1-3 PM -- J. Lynn Else will be signing copies of her books at Barnes & Noble in Rochester, MN!
Please stop by--I'm hoping to make it to these too!

Frankenstein Novella Contest

The Rochester Public Library is hosting a novella contest with a $1000 grand prize (the two runners-up get $500), along with their work published in an anthology. This is an awesome opportunity for local writers to get something published.

Please note: the contest is limited to writers living in southeast Minnesota. Visit the Rochester Public Library's website for details.

Next month, you'll get an excerpt from Writing Advice for Teens: Editing Fiction. Enjoy your holidays!

Find my books on Amazon!
Some of my friends books are on sale for 99 cents.
I've read them, and they're great!
Grab them now!

Copyright © 2017 Mike Kalmbach, Author, All rights reserved.

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