The Lesson I Learned from an Icee

I’ve often thought about how some memories are stuck in my mind, and others seem to have slipped away from me. For instance, I remember waking up when I was five years old from a nap on the floor of my room. I don’t know why I wasn’t in my bed; I assume I was playing and merely slept where I was. That said, I awoke to a puppy licking my face. I don’t remember anything after that, but I remember the first time Samson, my golden retriever pup, and I met. It’s adhered to my mind.

I remember walking down the hill to the neighbor’s house, having been invited to come over for a cap gun battle, only to be ambushed on my way down by the three neighbor girls wielding their cap guns and blasting me away after jumping out from behind the trees that lined the hill. I don’t remember anything else from that day, but I remember being surprised and happy.

Yesterday, I was brought back to another time in my memory. My wife and kids and I had gone to Sam’s Club to get a couple necessities. In particular, I needed a new pair of jeans. I tend to kill pants. I’ve tried $100 jeans and $45 jeans and everything in between. However, no matter the price or the claims of the brand, the pants tend to die on me after about six months. So, several cycles ago, after a recommendation from my dad, I purchased my first pair of $10 jeans (although they have increased in price now to $14). These jeans lasted me, surprise, six months before giving up the ghost. So now, I buy cheap $14 jeans and save myself some money.

Anyway, after shopping for jeans and all the other random stuff you pick up at Sam’s that you never intended to buy before walking in there, we paid for our items and my wife walked over to the snack center and got the kids some Icee Slurpies as a treat. She took their picture as they stood there enjoying the sweets. However, my mind was taken back. When I was a kid, we didn’t have a lot of money. I don’t think we were poor, but there wasn’t a lot of money for things like Icee’s. My neighbor and her three girls and my mom and I often did things together during the day. They were home-schooled and I was an only child. So by default, we were all the best of friends.

One day though, my neighbor’s husband got a promotion at work. As such, when we went into the local K-Mart, all of us kids got an Icee as a rare treat. I know some of you reading this might think that it’s odd to believe that an Icee could stick out in my mind, but maybe the remainder of the story will clue you in as to why. Our neighbor, Chris, handed each of her kids an Icee.

Ashley got an Icee, and her response was, “Thank you!”

Courtney got an Icee, and her response was, “Thank you!”

Angie got an Icee, and her response was, “Thank you!”

And finally, Michl (me) gets an Icee, and his response is SLURP! SLURP! SLURP!

Suddenly, my Icee is gone, as if it has merely vanished from my hand. Looking up, I see my mom standing there, slurping on my Icee. She raises her eyebrows and glances down at me. I am shocked.

“Next time, you will remember to say thank you,” she says and walks away with my Icee.

She drank the entire thing. The saddest part is, she doesn’t even like cherry Icees. There was a similar lesson that happened earlier in my life with a Snickers bar, but that’s a story for another time. Some of you may think the lesson cruel, I’m sure. However, while I am sure I did cry, I don’t remember crying. What I remember was a lesson my mom taught me. To this day, I remember to be polite. It was ingrained into me to show respect and thankfulness to someone who is kind to me. It was a big deal for Mrs. Chris to buy us those Icee’s. At the time, the amount of money it took to buy all of us kids those Icee’s was a lot for her, and at that time, I didn’t show appreciation for that. True, I was just a little kid, but it was important for me to recognize the value of what I was getting. Just like a pair of jeans that obviously aren’t worth $100 to someone like me who is just going to kill them in six months, an Icee to a mom who is pinching pennies for the good of her family is a big deal. And it was a big deal to us, but I didn’t recognize it for what it was and my mom wanted to reinforce that value of thankfulness. She wanted to engrain that value into my head enough that I would remember it. I don’t remember crying, but I remember the lesson.

I was standing over to the side waiting for my wife to get the Icees for the kids and I didn’t hear if they said thank you to her when she handed them the treats. So, I can’t say if the direct lesson has been passed down to my own offspring. However, I can tell you that they are thankful for the blessings they have. True, like all kids, they must be reminded from time to time, but I think the value has been instilled. So, as I sit here sipping my coffee and thinking back, I must smile, I have a good momma, who taught me how to live life in gratitude and thankfulness; not just to her and my dad, but to God for all the blessings I have been given. I hope in the end I am able to give back some of that blessing to others.

D. Michl Lowe

How I Find Time to Write

When I have a full-time job…

I work in the school system. It’s a school counselor by day, novelist by night sort of thing. However, it’s more than that. Because of my job, I have more opportunities to write than some, but I feel like everyone can make time for writing a book if they really want to. So, when you are first starting out as a writer and you have a separate full-time job, what do you do to make time to write? Below are some tips I have used to get time in which to write seven books so far.

Utilize a Smart Phone: 

I remember seeing Apple’s first press release talking about the first iPhone. I was mesmerized! I knew right then; this thing is going to change everything. It was like a Star Trek communicator had come to life. With that though, today, much of my writing is done on one of these types of devices. The “notes” section of my phone is jammed packed with notes about stories, articles I want to write, and ideas. As well as full sections of chapters that are later transferred over to my main document. This article itself was started on my smartphone. What this allows for is the use of downtime in everyday life. Everyone has moments throughout the day where they have 10 minutes here or there. Normally you might just scroll through Facebook, which I still of course do, but I also use that time to write. 

Use Screen Time:

As modern American humans, we use screens a lot. If we aren’t on our phones, we are on our computers. If we aren’t on our computers, we are watching TV or playing video games. Replace some of that general entertainment screen time with writing time. Some of this just seems obvious, but in a lot of ways, writing is just sitting down and doing it. Making the time when you think you don’t have it. Discipline is important. I have actually scheduled time to write on my calendar to make sure I sit down and do it.

Carry a Backpack:

I have a whole ethos dedicated to things I try to keep on my body and carry on my person. If you have never looked on YouTube for the acronym EDC which stands for Everyday Carry. There is a whole subculture that is nearly obsessed with the idea of what is in a person’s pockets. It’s fun if nothing else. That being said, carry a backpack, and in that backpack pack your laptop. Why? I can’t tell you the number of pages I have written while waiting in the doctor’s waiting room, or the dentist’s waiting room. My daughter goes to the Wednesday night church for teen group. My particular church doesn’t offer any classes or groups for adults on Wednesday night, and we live like thirty minutes away from our church, so my going home and coming back is silly. So I spend the time I would normally have been waiting, playing on my phone, or just sitting around; writing. That’s a solid hour and a half of uninterrupted writing time I get every week almost. Bring your laptop with you in your car, in a backpack and you will discover there are a lot of opportunities to write.

Use Vacations Wisely:

When I go on vacation, I try to utilize the experiences in a productive way. I try to experience different things; foods, historic sites, and oddities. A wide array of experiences gives the writer a full template to pull from. I’ve often told other writers to write what they know. When you pull from real things, the writing can come alive in a way that’s often unparalleled. Also, I try to find places to sit and write. For me, that’s a public place with lots of people. I know that’s not a good environment for writing for some people, but for me, that’s ideal. So I have sat on the beach writing, around a pool, in a tropical garden, etc. For me, I have summers and most holidays off due to working in the school system. That is prime time for writing for me. Many days of my summer vacation days are spent down at my local library, sitting at a table and writing. 

Create a Writing Space: 

In my house, we have three wonderful kids and I have a beautiful wife. These people make life worth living, but they also get in the way of actually getting writing done. So I have set up a little corner in our basement with a plastic table and a chair to set myself apart from the rest of the family. That way when I am there, the kids know what I am doing and tend to let me have my time. A side note: noise-canceling headphones help with that separation. I also talk with my family and explain what I am doing and what my intention is. 

So these are just a couple of the ways I work to find time to write when I hold down a full-time job. True, I do have some advantages over others, with having nearly every holiday off and summer vacation, but I think if you take the time to really think about your own time, you will find ways to get it done. J. K. Rowling wrote the original Harry Potter novel while she was a single mom working a full-time job through most of it. That gives me hope. I might not be able to pump out a thousand-page novel in a year like Brandon Sanderson, but I can get my novel done. It just might take me a little longer. Hopefully, I still have years left in my life to devote to this craft. Maybe I can even finish the full story I want to write before I leave this mortal coil. I guess we will see.

D. Michl Lowe


This is a scene I recently wrote that takes place about halfway through the book. The character Meshiah healed her friend’s sister the night before and news has spread throughout the village about the healing. Now, the town has shown up to see if the miracle can be repeated with others in need.

After dressing in a wool skirt and button-down white blouse, Meshiah walked from the back room into the main bakery. The room was full, but no one was talking. Meshiah assumed the place would normally be a bustle of chatting customers and delicious smells, but the hearths had been cold back in the kitchen, and beyond the general smell of flour and day-old bread, there was no fresh scent of developed yeast. Instead, the main large room of the bakery was packed with people, nearly silent, all staring, at her.

A middle-aged woman rushed up to her, tears flowed from her eyes and dropped in front of Meshiah and clasped at the front of her skirts.

“Please milady, please, my daughter. She fell last week and hit her head. She’s just gotten engaged to the miller’s son. They were to be wed in just a month,” she pled. “I can pay whatever is needed. Please.”

Meshiah looked over to where the woman indicated and saw a rather handsome lad of no more than twenty carrying a woman of about the same age. She had long dark hair, but it was pulled back, a thick bandage covering most of her head. The young man had the haunted eyes of a man who had spent too many nights awake in prayer, pleading to a God he wasn’t sure was even there. She looked down again at the woman and reached down to her, lifting her up.

“Will you help her?” the woman asked, meeting Meshiah’s eyes. There was a desperation in that face, haggard desperation. “I heard what you did for Schalk’s sister, and if you can take away the Heat, then you can save my daughter. I know you can.”

Meshiah felt a stab of guilt. Of course, she would want to help, but she looked out at the mass of people, crammed into the little shop. The bay windows looked out into the courtyard of the town hall across the street and the very street itself was packed with people. There had to be thousands. Where had they all come from, and had they been waiting here for her while she slept nearly all day? How could she help so many? She pursed her lips.

“Mrs. Lusion,” she announced and Procty popped around the corner of the counter where she had been standing behind another group of people.

“Yes, milady?” Procty said.

“I am going to need a large cup of coffee, some sort of breakfast bread, an apron, and several people to help me prioritize those in this mass of people who are in the greatest need. I won’t be able to help them all today, but I intend to make a sizable dent,” she said as she unbuttoned the sleeves of her blouse and rolled them up past her elbows.

Procty bounded off towards the back of the shop and Meshiah walked over to the young man who held the injured woman.

“I am going to need your help,” she said, looking to the man’s eyes. There was hope there, but it was distant.

“Okay,” he mumbled.

“No, I mean it. This is going to be hard on you. I am going to use you to heal this woman. It will not be pleasant.”

He looked confused but nodded his head.

“Okay, get ready,” she said and he stiffened his body. “You might want to lay her down on the floor here and sit down beside her.”

He did as instructed. Meshiah bent down and placed her right hand on his shoulder and then her left hand on the girl’s head. Then she began to pull again like she had done the night before, but this time, instead of her general surroundings, she pulled from the man. The warmth flooded into her again until she was nearly bursting with energy. The man fell back, his entire body going limp. People standing nearby gasped and one woman went to try to stop Meshiah, but was held back by others. Meshiah allowed the energy to pour into the woman, and she stirred slightly. The one eye that was still visible under the bandage opened and she blinked several times.

She looked around the room. Faces stared at her, shocked expressions on them all.

“Fire and ashes,” one woman exclaimed. “Has she killed the boy to heal the girl?”

A man who had knelt to the boy shook his head. “No, he’s just sleeping.”

A cheer rose in the room and everyone began talking at once. The woman who had spoken to Meshiah at first had run over and begun hugging the woman, but she now stood up and came over to Meshiah.

“Thank you, milady. Thank you,” she wept, wrapping her arms around Meshiah.