Alien Exchange Program

Do you write with music on?  I MUST.  It’s the way I operate, get in my character’s head, and keep my voice, tone, and mood.

So I started thinking – what about the other way around?  What if I listened to a song first, and it dictated what I wrote?

I asked readers, on my author page (if you haven’t joined my Facebook author page now, you should, because I post there far more frequently about my books and writing, and it’s lots of fun, I hope!), to post a link to a song they love or find interesting, and I would write a flash piece on the spot after only listening to it once!  😀

After a random roll of digital dice, Elizabeth Liberty Lewis’s song, “Many Words” by DROELOE won!

The following flash fiction piece (under 1000 words) was written in 15-20 minutes on the spot while listening to this specific song!  😀

I highly recommend you listen to it while reading my piece below, which is a gift to Elizabeth that I hope she enjoys!  🙂

Next up with be one for Laura Pol.  Stay tuned!

If YOU like flash fiction, and think you can write an emotionally moving piece in under 1000 words and want to win ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS, my contest is still open!

 

ALIEN EXCHANGE PROGRAM

 

The little alien stumbled and fell in the deep, rich, wet dirt.

As the speeder raced away into the sky, the taillights shrinking rapidly in his vision, his throat clamped shut. The faint smell of diesel filled his nose and time slowed, as if to stamp an important moment on his mind.

He had been abandoned.

His mother, pinch-lipped and silent, her three eyes focused straight ahead, had refused to even glance his way during the duration of the space travel.  He had tugged on her arm at first, but had given up.  He had hoped against hope for a fun vacation spot, like on Krypton’s moon, but his mother’s clenched paw had told him otherwise, her eyes stalks decidedly pointed in the opposite direction.

Now here he sat, alone on a new planet, speeder-like lights surrounding him as if eyes were watching.  In the dark of night. With only lit-up buildings to guide him, the ground wet from fresh rain, the mud squishing between his back flipper feet, he stumbled forward, a sob rising in his swollen throat.

There, straight down the muddy grassy lawn, he saw a smaller shop, the lettering illegible for his three alien eyes.  On the dimly lit sign a drawing of two creatures that looked like the two halves of himself sat and stared at him.  One was green with two bulgy eyes and webbed feet, the other had paws and fur and floppy ears. It was as if they had put both of his parents on one sign: his mother who had just left, taking his heart with her, and his adventurous father who had died so long ago.  A human creature with a stethoscope stood next to them. This had to be the alien welcome center.  Possibly he could find a new home.  The thought seared his heart with pain, but he was glad to have some place to start.

“What is this?” came the screech from the front desk when he entered, pushing his way through the heavy glass door.

He let out a garbled “Ribbit!”

The fleshy, pink, extremely tall creature rose up on it back legs and pushed black wire and glassy things up around her small eyes. “Joe!  Look at this!” it said, and he found he could understand it.  Thank his mother for teaching him alien languages – or had she been planning on abandoning him here all along?

A tall fleshy creature with a single patch of black fur on the very top of its head came around the corner and broke into a giant smile.  “I had one of these once!  A large furred toad!  They’re thought to be extinct!”

The first creature’s red mouth twisted in what was obvious disgust to him, even if he wasn’t used to its oddly hairless pink face. “You had one of these as a pet?  Where did it come from?”

The one called Joe was still smiling, and it was a peaceful, happy expression that tickled the young alien from his head to his webbed toes.  “Yes!  There have only been three in existence that were ever reported.  I had the third.  Maybe it was one of his family, and another had the intelligence to come looking!”

The first one with the metal and glass around its eyes looked skeptical. “Seriously?”

“I think they don’t come from earth, but that can be our little secret.” Joe winked at the other one and then reached those huge, pink hands down for the alien.  “Come here, little buddy.  Did you know my guy Marcus?”

Of course the name did not ring a bell.  It was human earthling talk.  But the hands were warm, and soon the little alien was snuggled against the large cloth-covered chest.

“I bet you did, little buddy.  Before he left, I told him my house was always open to his kind.  And I’m pretty sure, in his alien head, he knew it was time to go home, raise a family, and tell the next generation about earth.” Joe pet his head, and it calmed him to his very core. “I’m so glad you’re here, little buddy.  Let’s start the next chapter of this foreign exchange program, shall we?”

 

Copyright: RJ Conte 2018

 

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“I’m so very ‘umble” – Uriah Heep, Jennifer Lawrence, and You

220px-jennifer_lawrence_sdcc_2015_x-menI happened across an interview with Jennifer Lawrence the other day where she was asked, “Do you believe there’s an afterlife?”

 

Her answer was, “No.  That’s a reaction to innate narcissism.  To think that we don’t have to cease to exist.”

This year I’ve done a lot of thinking about what I’m going to call the Uriah Heep Mentality.

Uriah Heep is one of my favorite, creepy villains of all time.  Charles Dickens created him to be the thorn in David’s side in David Copperfield.

[Heep’s face] was quite as cadaverous as it had looked in the window, though in the grain of it there was that tinge of red which is sometimes to be observed in the skins

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Artwork by Chris Riddell

of red-haired people. It belonged to a red-haired person—a youth of fifteen, as I take it now, but looking much older—whose hair was cropped as close as the closest stubble; who had hardly any eyebrows, and no eyelashes, and eyes of a red-brown, so unsheltered and unshaded, that I remember wondering how he went to sleep. He was high-shouldered and bony; dressed in decent black, with a white wisp of a neckcloth; buttoned up to the throat; and had a long, lank, skeleton hand, which particularly attracted my attention, as he stood at the pony’s head, rubbing his chin with it, and looking up at us in the chaise.

His hands are always wet, cold, and clammy, like a dead fish, and his catch phrase is calling himself “humble” (or ‘umble) over and over again while being a sycophant to everyone around him.

He’s the type of guy you might feel sorry for except that he overdoes the false humility, and later you find out he’s been sneaking around behind everyone’s back to make sure they come to ruin so that he can own them all in the end.  His hypocrisy is deceptively sneaky and takes a suspicious David and a wise Mr. Micawber to figure out the years of ingratiation, lies, and manipulation that went into his scheme.

The sad thing is, I’ve met Christians with Uriah Heep Mentality.

Christians, who, like Jennifer Lawrence pretend to be “so very ‘umble” by saying that God doesn’t love them, God doesn’t want them, they’re worthless, they’re wretched sinners, and they deserve to be trampled upon and have nothing good happen to them their entire lives.  Maybe you don’t realize it in the beginning, but you realize it was false humility all along when they show you how they really think.

These Christians can also find themselves the most sensitive at the slightest perceived “attack.”  Because how dare others criticize when I am trying so hard and am doing so much better than everyone else. The obsequiousness is often sneaky arrogance disguised under a clammy, skeleton costume.

Don’t get me wrong.  Yes, we are wretched sinners.  Yes, we do nothing to earn our salvation.  Yes, we deserve nothing but hell. Yes, we should bow on our faces before a great and powerful God.  (1 Tim. 1:15, Rom. 6:23, 14:11)

But God.

He does not choose to leave us there.  Uriah Heep Mentality forgets all the other verses that talk about us being inheritors with Christ Jesus, a little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor, that the Lord delights over us with singing, that we are bought and redeemed with all of His blood, and that heaven and the kingdom is our inheritance!  (Rom. 8:14-17, Heb. 2:7-9, Zeph. 3:17, Is. 44:22, Luke 12:32)

Does the Christ who died to pay for us want us to go around wringing our hands calling curses down upon ourselves and feeling like bruised victims waiting to assume the worst about everyone and everything because crushing ourselves makes us feel better?  Maybe this isn’t your motivation, or maybe when you peel back the skeleton costume, you reveal that it is.  ❤

It’s actually really super ‘umbling to stop and say, I’m loved by the King of Kings.  I’m His princess or prince.  I am made in His image, the greatest part of His creation, His masterpiece.  Jesus calls me His brother or sister and His friend.  I have His same power in me. Nothing can stop me from receiving God’s love.”  (Deut. 10:17, Ps. 86:5, 36:7, John 15:9-17,  Rom. 8:37-39, Gen. 1:27, Eph. 1:19-20, 2:10)

Do those things make you squirm?  They shouldn’t.  They’re taken directly from Scripture.  See all those verses above.

Why do they make you squirm?  Is it because you’ve been bullied and rejected and downtrodden all your life, and you’re afraid to believe in the Sovereign God’s love for you?  Can I recommend Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick for that, just to sit and seep in the beauty and boosting love of the gospel?  He would have died just for YOU, Christian.  If you had been the only human being on earth. ❤ (Matthew 18:12)

Or is it because you actually believe in a works religion, where you have to keep maiming yourself and brow-beating yourself until you’re “holy enough” that the Lord God will accept you, and it pains you to see other Christians happy and rejoicing in their salvation and inheritance and greatness in Christ? (1 Kings 18:27-29, Phil. 1:14-17, Mt. 23:1-4, Lk 18:10-14, Rom. 14, 

Believe.  Doing comes after.  Believe that it’s nothing of you.  That you could never follow all the rules.  That you could never be perfect.  That you have been lifted up out of that mud that you like to throw yourself into.  That your sins are forgiven, and God doesn’t even see them any more.  That Christ’s blood is all He sees, and you are hidden in Christ.  That He will sanctify those stubborn sins step by step and you don’t have to go on hating yourself to make Him like you better.

Christ would love you even if your sins didn’t change.  

(Phil. 1:6, John 10:28-29, Deut 7:7-10, Is. 54:4-8, Hos 14:4-7, 1 Tim. 1:15-16)

Does that feel like heresy?

It’s not.  Scripture says so.  And if His love was dependent on your sins, then you would have some control over your own salvation.  The life on earth is but a breath.  You are saved – you have eternity in heaven.  His love is everlasting, and it doesn’t disappear in this life-breath when you fail. (Jer. 31:3, Ps. 144:4)

And His love doesn’t lessen AFTER salvation, when you keep messing up.  If He loves you when you did nothing to deserve it, why should you somehow change it like a lever later based on the speed or efficiency of your sanctification?

You should want to quit sinning just because you love Him so much that you want to obey Him with all your heart, not because you think you can force your own holiness and bring yourself into better standing with God.  We are supposed to strive for holiness, but we don’t do that on our own.  We do that leaning on and resting in and being with and enjoying God.  Otherwise, we fail. (John 14:15, Mt. 11:28-29, Ps. 37:4, Eph. 1:19-20, Rom. 8:11, Gal. 5:16)

It’s arrogance to assume you can control any part of Him, and that you can affect the Almighty God’s love for you – that you can control it with your own works and life.  His love is steady like the sun, and its existence nothing to do with you.  It IS and it changes you merely because it is His good pleasure to do so.  It will never change, never stop, never lessen, and never disappear.  David’s wife Michal was chastised for stopping David from dancing and rejoicing in the Lord in what is the ultimate story of Uriah Heep Mentality. (2 Samuel 6:14-23)  It is not narcissistic to rejoice that you are an eternal, spiritual being as well as a physical one, to look forward to eternity and to your glorification in a righteous body, seated up with God in the heavens. His blood has paid for your place there, and He wants you to live like you know it! (Eph. 2:6, Ps. 63:3, Hk. 3:17-18, 

BASK in that.  Enjoy that. Be happy and rejoice. Put your tiara on your head and dance around in it like you would the sunshine on a summer day.  It’s your gift, and instead of shoving the gift away, you can live in the light of that glory.

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Photo by ЗДОРОВЬЕ ЧЕЛОВЕКА

God’s love and kindness
    will shine upon us
like the sun that rises
    in the sky.
On us who live
in the dark shadow
    of death
this light will shine
to guide us
    into a life of peace.

Luke 1:78-79

 

Cassi is in a Coma – FREE Book

51-6kgew0ylMy friend, Krista Wagner, has a new issue-driven book for free!  If you like your YA to have a punch and come from a Christian worldview, this is the book for you.

FREE tonight and tomorrow!

A cross between If I Stay and Remember Me 

A Small Town Secrets Novel Standalone Series – (Book #3)

“You are not wanted” 

Cassi Walker has been Royal High School’s most-liked girl for the past four years, but a lot can happen in two days. Suddenly, she’s the school’s most-hated girl, but before she can figure out why, a ten-story fall off a water tower sends her into a coma. Soon, rumors start to fly that it was attempted suicide. Unfortunately, she has no memory of those final seconds before the harrowing event. Through a strange barrage of dreams, flashbacks, and an out-of-body journey, Cassi will attempt to expose the secrets and uncover the mysteries behind what happened to her. But will she be able to handle the truth? 

Dear Reader,
I dedicated this YA supernatural mystery thriller to those who have been betrayed in the worst kind of way. I wrote the novel when I saw a need to tell a story about someone who is liked by everyone at her school and then is suddenly treated like a pariah without any explanation. Unfortunately, this is an experience that many of us can relate to.

There is a lot of mystery and thrill here. You will find a surprising story that uncovers many secrets through a barrage of flashbacks, dreams, and an out-of-body journey.

Enjoy!

~Krista

PICK UP FOR FREE here on Amazon!

NOTE: I have not read this book myself, but I’ve read a few other books of Krista’s, and, while she doesn’t mince words on serious issues teens face, she’s approaches them with a Christian worldview.  ❤