Melissa Frey

Fiction Writer, Freelancer for Hire, and Paleo Enthusiast

Category: Miscellaneous (Page 2 of 5)

Why Fiction?

So before I get into the details of my book (which I’m so excited to share with you I can hardly stand it), I wanted to explain why I write fiction, and why you should care. (Plus a bit of insight into my writing process which may or may not cause you to want to have me committed.)

Storytelling has been around since the beginning of language itself, and has almost always been used to illustrate a point.

Stories are relatable and easy to understand at a basic, human level. We connect with stories because they reflect our experiences or give us insight into experiences we’d never had in an understandable way. Great communicators use stories to teach us important truths, truths we’d never understand any other way.

Because of this fact, fiction is powerful. Yes, it can be a welcome escape from the monotony of everyday life, but there are more important things going on, under the surface. There are underlying moral (or amoral) themes, lessons to be learned, and viewpoints to consider. And when a person is incited to change by the telling of a simple story, the power of fiction is on full display.

Great fiction reveals to the heart what the mind is too intelligent to understand. [Tweet this]

In my writing, themes I didn’t intend to show or didn’t even know were there showed up, and it astounded me. I’ve heard it said that a story shows the struggles the author is dealing with at the time they wrote it, and can I just say… I may or may not have some trust issues. Ahem.

So as you venture into my fictitious world with me and meet my characters, read their thoughts, see how they react to what happens to them, I hope you’ll be looking for the lessons unintentionally woven throughout the pages. It pleasantly surprised me when I looked back on what I’d written – I hope it will do the same for you!

 
Oh, and before I go, that bit of insight into my writing process as promised…

I said above that the themes in my story just showed up out of nowhere. Well, my characters kind of did, too. There was some intentionality – and sometimes randomness – in initially creating them (I got one last name off a headstone at Arlington National Cemetery!), but once they were created and I got to know them (stay with me here), I basically just wrote down what they told me happened. That’s the crazy part.

But it’s true, and I’ve heard other authors say the same thing! My characters are more real to me than many other actually real people, probably because I know them so well. Once I’d created them and set them loose in the story, they did what they would do based on who they are and I watched, writing it all down. There was even one scene that I knew someone had died in, but I didn’t know who until I wrote the part where my character walked into the room. Creepy, maybe, but so cool.

So stick with me, and try not to call the insane asylum. I’d appreciate it.

An Open Letter to My Seasoned Coworkers from a Millennial

An Open Letter to My Seasoned Coworkers from a Millennial 042816

Dear Seasoned Coworker,

There are so many things I wish I could tell you in person, things I wish you understood. Here are the top three: First, I’m not as lazy as you think I am. Second, my smartphone will be on my person at all times (it’s too expensive to be left anywhere else), and third, and most importantly, we’re on the same team.

That day when you rolled your eyes at me for checking Google before I cracked open a phone book, I wasn’t mad. I actually kind of get it. For years, the phone book was the gatekeeper to everyone’s phone numbers, and you probably can’t understand why I don’t even bother with phone numbers anymore. But I can honestly tell you that I have no idea how to use a phone book. This may be why you think I’m lazy, but I’m really not.

You see, the world has changed, and is still changing. I’m sure that’s readily apparent to you. But what you perhaps do not understand is that I’ve lived in a constant state of change my whole life. With the advent of the Internet and social media, which are changing literally by the second, my entire life has been a succession of one change after another. It’s truly exhausting, but I’m adaptable. I’ve adapted by taking in previously unheard of amounts of data and filtering them like an expert to retain what serves me and discard what doesn’t.

Remember when you were upset that I was constantly sending emails back and forth to vendors and customers and you weren’t able to catch every detail? I’m not trying to circumvent you, I promise. Delegation is part of my filtering process, which is necessary to keep my head above water in the endless stream of information assaulting me from all sides. I am trying to take things off your plate, especially things that I know frustrate you. Plus email is infinitely faster for me than making a phone call.

We all need to slow down. I get that, more than you realize. I do that with a yoga video I found on YouTube. I meditate in silence, then draw inspiration and spiritual guidance from books on my iPad. I play soothing music on Spotify, pull up recipes on my favorite blogs, then FaceTime my nephew three time zones away.

My life is a constant influx of information. Call it being a product of my environment, and that’s probably true, but this is where I am, who I am, who we are: our lives inexorably tied to a screen. True, we need to learn to unplug at times, but to disregard technology entirely would be a disservice to all the friends we’ve never met in person, or all the people we’re able to help that live on the other side of the world, or the mentors we can learn from that happen to live in a different state than we do.

But here’s the bottom line, what we really want to say to you: We need you. We promise you’re not irrelevant. Your methods may seem outdated to us at times, but you’ve walked this earth longer than we have, and we would put ourselves at a disadvantage if we ignored all that knowledge and wisdom.

So work with us, please. We’re young, yes, but we have so much to offer the world. We just want to make things better, and you can help us do that.

We want to incite change in our company, our environment, the world, and we want things to change for the better. But we can’t do it alone.

Sincerely,

Your Millennial Colleague (you know, the one on their iPhone)

Wellness/Paleo Website Launch!

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This past February, my husband and I took an amazingly relaxing trip to Tampa, Florida. (Above is the sunset in St. Petersburg.) We almost didn’t make it out of Michigan due to a snowstorm, but as the palm trees came into view, we could almost feel the weight (probably the weight of the snow) lift off our shoulders.

We took the week and rested, ate amazing food, laid out and walked on the beach, drove all over the Tampa Bay area, and watched Supernatural. (Thank you, TNT) And after our minds finally cleared, we decided that we needed to start something.

At first, we weren’t sure what we were going to start. We knew that between my own Paleo/health journey and his desire to become more fit we’ve accumulated a lot of knowledge about wellness, health, and nutrition. So we brainstormed, planned, scrawled all over some white boards, planned some more, thought way too much, and came up with an idea. A website! (Not very original, but bear with me.)

We knew so many people who wanted help getting their health back on track, so we wanted a place where people could go to find help on their wellness journey. Somewhere people could peruse articles, check out some Paleo recipes, and gain inspiration to start and maintain a healthy lifestyle day in and day out.

Our website isn’t up quite yet, but we wanted to start getting the word out. If you are considering starting your journey to a healthy life, are ready to get started, or are simply curious, sign up to get notified when the site launches! It’s really only a few clicks away. (Get notified here.)

Also, we’d love to connect with you on Facebook! My Facebook author page is here; send us a message! If you have any questions or already have ideas of things you’d like to see on the website, email us at info@andrewandmelissafrey.com.

And don’t worry; my blog will still be here! I will just transition my health and wellness posts to andrewandmelissafrey.com.

What would you like to see on the new site? Blog posts, recipes, pictures, something else? We want to create content you’ll love! Sound off in the comments!

5 Ways You’re Probably Holding Yourself Back

We all do it.

We have great intentions, lofty goals, but we somehow never see the results. Somehow, some way, we’re stuck. Frustrating, isn’t it? I’ve lived in this place a long time, and am currently clawing my way out.

Beach Sunset Taking Picture in Florida

But in the process of learning how to move forward, I’ve learned a little about the things that were holding me back. Perhaps they’re not mind-blowing revelations for you, but identifying the problem is the first step in finding the solution.

1. You’re Not Learning

It’s easy to binge watch Netflix. Not that anyone here’s done that before… Ahem. What’s not easy is challenging yourself, pushing yourself, learning and absorbing all you can.

Does it matter what you’re learning? Not really. It’s about training your mind to process and retain information. So learn anything and everything you can. I mean it. Want to learn the migrating patterns of a particular bird? If that’s your thing, run after it. We have this amazing thing called “The Internet” that might help…

Learning to learn can be a beautiful thing. And it helps you grow as a person; sometimes just the act of learning itself will help you grow. Just try it.

2. You’re Thinking Horrible Things

Imagine you love someone a whole lot. Like a ton. Remember your first girlfriend maybe. Or think of your husband. Or your kids maybe. Now what would you do if you heard someone tell them they were worthless? Besides wanting to punch them in the face (don’t do that), you would, in no uncertain terms, tell them to leave immediately and never speak that way to your loved one again.

Have you ever told yourself those kinds of things? If you have, you’re undoubtedly reading this right now with a lump in your throat. Push those thoughts as far away from you as you can by replacing every negative thought with at least one positive thought. Bonus: if you can find a way to make the negative a positive, you are well on your way to conquering that evil voice inside your head!

I’ll be the first to tell you that this is in no way easy, but it’s well worth it, I promise.

3. You’re Listening to the Wrong (External) Voices

Anyone ever tell you something you should do? No? So you’ve never been around people before? Everyone, whether they mean to or not, has at some point given you advice. It’s not a bad thing – until we start listening to them more than we listen to our own voice.

What’s the best way to avoid this? Know yourself. It’s hard, so hard. But completely worth it. Figure out who you are, and do it relentlessly. Then you’ll be able to take all that advice, filter it through your personality, then use what serves you and discard what doesn’t. Again, it’s hard. But anything worth pursuing is.

4. You’re Allowing Fear to Run Your Life

Ouch. I’m stepping on my own toes here. Always (read: every single time) ask yourself your motivation behind choosing to do or not do something. Is fear holding you back, telling you you won’t succeed, or that you’re not good enough, or that _________ (fill in the blank)?

Don’t let fear run your life anymore. Jeff Goins sums it up well: “…courage isn’t the absence of Fear; it’s the willingness to face it in spite of how you feel.” So let’s all do one thing to be courageous and laugh in the face of fear. Then another. And another. And soon, fear will go and bug someone else.

5. You’re Convinced This is All There Is

You’ve been there, haven’t you? Somehow someone (probably yourself) convinced you that where you are is where you’ll stay. Sometimes it definitely feels like that. But here’s a quote I love, and though I usually use it to pertain to travel, it fits here, too: “Life’s not meant to be lived in one place.” (Author unknown) That isn’t only talking about your geographical location, but maybe for you it is. Or maybe it means something else.

The point here is that you learn, grow, venture out, try new things! The worst that can happen is that you find out something you don’t like – but maybe you’ll stumble onto your life’s purpose. And what could be cooler than that?

 

All that to say: we don’t have to stay here, people. We can live in victory, in freedom, in complete and utter happiness, if only we discover how to let go.

Because only in letting go can we find true freedom. (Tweet that)

What one thing can you do today to start moving forward? Let me know in the comments!

Beauty wins Flint: Why the News Out of Flint Isn’t All Bad

I live near Flint. I work in downtown Flint. I grew up near Flint. And, like nearly everyone else, my hearts breaks for the #flintwatercrisis there. This tragedy has touched so many people, some I know by name.

And it is a tragedy, in the truest sense of the word. Things that shouldn’t have happened did. And it’s tempting to focus on that, on the negative. It’s easy to focus on finding blame, punishing those responsible. And while that process is necessary, it shouldn’t be the focus.

I say it’s time to focus on the good.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Downtown FogFall Tree Behind Flint HouseRiverside Fall TreeSnowy Road

(The one above may not be Flint, but it’s definitely Michigan, and we definitely have snow.)

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These are just a few of the pictures I’ve taken around Flint. This last one is a bridge over the now-infamous Flint river. And you know what? I choose to see beauty here. I choose to see scores of people being the change instead of waiting for someone else to do it. I choose to focus on the beauty, on the community here, than on all the horrible things happening here right now.

So instead of politicizing the crisis and calling for resignations far and wide, what if we send money, pass out water, donate water, pray for the people of Flint. What if we choose to focus on all that’s going right here?

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – ‭‭John 1:5‬ ‭‭NIV‬‬

If you know anything about history of the city of Flint, you know the sad story. I was a young girl when the last of the factories started closing. My family drove by all the empty factories and buildings as we went to school, church, my grandma’s house – it’s very sad.

Most of those reminders remain. Some of the lots where factories once stood are now empty concrete slabs. Some are just empty shells with the windows broken or boarded up. And with the factory closings, the businesses around them closed, too. The domino effect on the economy was far reaching.

But there’s a revitalization coming, and it’s already begun.

A New Coffee Shop Coming to Flint’s College and Cultural District

New Businesses Opening Downtown (ABC12)

The New Farmer’s Market

So come visit Flint! We need your help, to be sure, but we need your support more. We need water, but we also need your prayers, your patronage, your blessings.

Come see the great Flint comeback. Visit a coffee shop on Saginaw, take in a show at the Whiting, check out our new Planetarium, eat at the Farmer’s Market!

Be the change. Be the light in what can sometimes seem to be an overwhelming darkness. And don’t miss the beauty.

Upload pictures of beauty right where you are (even if you aren’t in Flint)! Let’s show the world that beauty and love triumphs over hate and fear. Just use #beautywinsflint on any platform.

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