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Everyone

Tiny houses are all the rage these days, but what can you do with something so small?

Here are seven stories from seven authors about people chasing their dreams, making fresh starts, finding love, stumbling upon forgiveness, and embarking upon new adventures–all involving a tiny house. Travel with us around the country in this big novella collection.


Contains the novella Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection, which contains my novella “Big Love,” is now available. If you’re intrigued by the idea of using tiny houses for the homeless, or about tiny houses at all, this would be a good time to pick up the collection. All seven novellas feature tiny houses as part of their stories.

Michael Ehret’s novella, ‘Big Love’, tackles the hard topics of homelessness, revenge, how memories change you and finally the biggest of all: forgiveness. — From an Amazon reader review.


Mike-9Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as the author of “Big Love,” a novella within Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection, he is enjoying his playground. Previous playgrounds include being the Managing Editor of the magazine ACFW Journal and the ezine Afictionado for seven years. He also plays with words as a freelance editor and has edited several nonfiction books, proofedited for Abingdon Press, worked in corporate communications, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

Tiny Housing for the Homeless

One of the reasons I wrote my novella “Big Love,” was to play around with the idea of using tiny houses to address the issue of homelessness in our country.

Now, I don’t want to pretend my story is something it’s not, because it is mostly a humorous “will they fall in love” type story. But my protagonist, Berly Charles, builds tiny houses for a living. One of the key scenes in the story revolves around a community-wide build, similar to a Habitat for Humanity build, where Berly and her friends come together to construct tiny houses for homeless citizens. Her interest in tiny houses and the homeless stems from a key childhood incident.

So that’s one side of the love equation. The other side is Nathan Rafferty, a prestigious journalist for the architecture industry, who thinks reporting on the tiny house craze is beneath him. He looks down his very upturned nose at the idea of tiny houses—also for reasons that stem from his childhood.

When they come together, they are undeniably drawn to each other. So, there’s plenty of conflict, misunderstanding, and humorous mayhem to go around.

Bookmark TH Ehret

Since writing the novella, I’ve remained connected to parts of the tiny house community and have been interested, particularly, in ways to use tiny houses to address the issues associated with homelessness. Recently a story from HuffPost’s “Road Trip: Listen to America” series caught my attention. Watch the 7:55-minute video below.

TinyTubeHouse

A solution to homelessness?

Here’s another interesting possibility that was featured on the Tiny House Talk website—stackable tiny houses built out of concrete water pipes that “measure just 100 sq. ft. and cost about $15,000. They can be stacked and therefore be used as a temporary housing solution in places like shipyards, under highways, or even in-between buildings.” (Tiny House Talk)

What do you think about these ideas? Do you have other ideas for how to address the housing needs of the homeless? Share in a comment.


Contains the novella Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection, which contains “Big Love,” is now available. If you’re intrigued by the idea of using tiny houses for the homeless, or about tiny houses at all, this would be a good time to pick up the collection. All seven novellas feature tiny houses as part of their stories.

Michael Ehret’s novella, ‘Big Love’, tackles the hard topics of homelessness, revenge, how memories change you and finally the biggest of all: forgiveness. — From an Amazon reader review.

 


Mike-9Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as the author of “Big Love,” a novella within Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection, he is enjoying his playground. Previous playgrounds include being the Managing Editor of the magazine ACFW Journal and the ezine Afictionado for seven years. He also plays with words as a freelance editor and has edited several nonfiction books, proofedited for Abingdon Press, worked in corporate communications, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

God Sighting: I Think I Can Hear You

I have a habit of looking for God in secular culture because I believe God can, will, and does use anyone to plant the whispers in our lives that often, if we’re listening, lead us to him.

Michelangelo_-_Sistine_Chapel_ceiling_-_bay_4_croppedSometimes the creative person participates in giving God an outlet, sometimes she doesn’t. I do not care either way. But looking and listening for these breakthrough moments when God gives the world a nudge is a fun, and ultimately rewarding, hobby.

For instance, J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter books. For me, there are echoes of the gospel simply bleeding from those stories. I get that others can’t see past the wizardry, and that’s OK, but that’s not me. I am interested in using whatever tools come my way to shine a light and communicate truth. See, if we can get the heart open sometimes we can insert truth.

I heard another whisper today while listening to a song from Carole King’s 1972 album Rhymes & Reasons, “I Think I Can Hear You.” You can listen to it below.


Disclaimer: I have no idea what King’s inspiration for this song was. I haven’t even tried to find out. For me, it’s a prayer—and I have sung it to God as my prayer—of commitment and dedication.


As a creative Christian—and if we’re made in God’s image and God is the ultimate Creator shouldn’t all Christians be creative? —I often struggle with finding a creative outlet within an evangelical mode. How can I communicate truth in a world that increasingly rejects the very idea of truth? It’s a toughie.

This song’s opening questions expose my desires and insecurities about my place in this world: “What can I do(, God)? How can I serve you? Is it (even) true what I do is a way to be near you?”

Sometimes those questions are answered, sometimes we’re left wondering, as the next statement suggests, whether we can even hear God when he answers. Regardless, it’s true, as the verse’s closing line suggests, that just thinking about God (praying?) can soothe the restless, creative heart.

Right now, I’m struggling with a novella I’m writing. Is the idea not good? Do I just not have enough information? Have I gotten ahead of God? (I’m only 3,500 words into it, so I don’t think so.)

The tone and tenor of this story are quite different from my last novella, which was a light-hearted, humorous tale of finding big love in a tiny house. For this story, I’m writing about a man who has made humor his lifeline, who discovers what’s left after it seems the joke is over. It’s anchored on the hymn, “Be Still My Soul,” about living in God’s peace amidst chaos.

That ties beautifully into King’s second verse:

But I’m here, and life is dear,
And I guess that’s a good enough reason to say
Just let me do
What you put me here to
Let me be what you want me to be
And I hope it’ll cheer you.

No, my character is not going to hear King’s song played on a radio or some other contrived occurrence; the song won’t even be in the novella. But that place of belief, that place of “but I’m here and life is dear” acceptance, is exactly where I need to get him by “The End.”

I’m going to sidestep the universalism in King’s third verse—I’m no theologian—but after spending a decade pretty much self-sidelined in my writing by a lack of belief (and a world of crushed hopes and dreams), I do find lasting comfort in knowing, now, that God never stopped believing in me. As King sings, “Even when I thought I didn’t believe, you believed in me.”

I can’t help thinking about Mathew 18:12-14 and the kind of shepherd I have: A shepherd in charge of 100 sheep notices that one of his sheep has gone astray. … God’s shepheContains the novella rd goes to look for that one lost sheep…

Where in secular culture do you find God? Leave a comment here or on Facebook and I’ll enter you for the chance to win a copy (print or e-book) of Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection which houses my novella, “Big Love.” 


Mike-9Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as the author of “Big Love,” a novella within Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection, he is enjoying his playground. Previous playgrounds include being the Managing Editor of the magazine ACFW Journal and the ezine Afictionado for seven years. He also plays with words as a freelance editor and has edited several nonfiction books, proofedited for Abingdon Press, worked in corporate communications, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

My nomination for Coolest Tiny House Ever

 

Contains the novella

Stumbled across this video of an amazing tiny house called the Escher (named after both the owner’s child and M.C. Escher, one of the world’s most famous graphic artists). If my main character in “Big Love,” Berly Charles, lived in a tiny house it would be something like this.


(Read “Big Love” in the novella compilation, Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection.)


There is much more to Escher than just his impossible constructions, but those are what he’s most known for. No doubt you’ve seen a couple, even if you didn’t realize who the artist was. My oldest sister introduced me to Escher when we were in high school. With Salvador Dali, he’s still one of my favorites.

If you’re entranced by tiny houses (I am), you’d probably enjoy “Big Love” and the other six novellas in the book. I’d love for you to give it a try and let me know what you think. If you have a link to another cool tiny house, feel free to share here in a comment. I will definitely visit.


Mike-9Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as the author of “Big Love,” a novella within Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection, he is enjoying his playground. Previous playgrounds include being the Managing Editor of the magazine ACFW Journal and the ezine Afictionado for seven years. He also plays with words as a freelance editor and has edited several nonfiction books, proofedited for Abingdon Press, worked in corporate communications, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

Lighting the Corners of the Mind

Pappy_Bosse

Memories are strange things. Malleable by time and easily lost, but among our most cherished possessions.

That first time driving on our own. The moment we look at the one we’re dating and know with certainty that she is the one. The birth of a child.

The death of a close friend. The embarrassment of double-flunking a college term paper. Bitter words and arguments. Rejections. These are the snapshots our minds take and file away for later comfort, self-beratement, or reflection.

As we age, we naturally lose bits and pieces of ourselves as if our brains are a large computer and we’ve about maxed out our storage. This is an expected process.

Memories stripped

But then there are the evil—there is no other word—diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s that strip away, image by image, the memories that make us who we are leaving those who suffer from those ailments reduced and often isolated and their family members bereft.

My father-in-law has Alzheimer’s. And now his wife and his children, including my wife, are walking through a process of slowly losing each other. But more than that. He is also losing himself.

Daddy, as my wife calls him, has always had a sharp mind and muscular intellect. We have spent many family dinners, holidays, and euchre games engaged in debates—my family would call them arguments, but we were raised differently—about issues of the day.

Pappy_Bench

Enjoying the gift his class gave to Bosse High School.

Those days are now reduced, though not gone entirely. But recently my wife and I enjoyed the opportunity of accompanying Daddy and his wife to his 65th high school reunion in Evansville. Throughout his life, he has talked about his days as a Bosse High School Bulldog and we knew this trip would be important.

We did not attend the actual reunion with him, though by all accounts it went well. However, we arrived in Evansville early enough to drive by his childhood home on Iowa Street. Not only is the home his parents built when he was five still there, but it is in great shape having been well maintained.

A rare opportunity

Pappy_House

Outside the front door of his childhood home in Evansville.

The plan was to drive by the house and see it. But as we sat reminiscing in front of the home, a woman drove up, got out of her car, and headed to the back of the house. In this day and age, seeing four strangers appear on your doorstep can be concerning and we didn’t want to alarm the woman, but the opportunity was too great.

At first hesitant and guarded, as we talked in the driveway she began to engage. It turns out the home belongs to her daughter and she was there to visit. After checking with her daughter, she invited us in.

Entering that front door with Daddy was emotional. It was clear what the trip meant to him. Changes had been made to the interior, of course, though looking at his eyes it was clear he was seeing the memories of his childhood, rather than current day.

“Oh look,” he said, pointing to the right. “That was my bedroom and Mother and Dad were in that room.”

He told the story about how he once broke a basement window with a baseball. He shared about how he’d had his picture taken on a pony in the front yard—where now a new front porch exists. But I’m pretty sure he saw the pony and the little boy, not the porch.

Letting us in their home was an unbelievably gracious gesture by the young woman and her mother, but it is one that will never be intentionally forgotten. Combined with the reunion and a visit after the reunion to Benjamin Bosse High School (pictured above), the trip lit several dark corners of my father-in-law’s mind where he still has those “misty, water-colored memories” of the way he was.

But it also created memories—snapshots—of our own for my wife and I. Images and impressions we will treasure long after Alzheimer’s takes him from us and long after, even, his departure from this world.


Mike-9Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as the author of “Big Love,” a novella within Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection, he is enjoying his playground. Previous playgrounds include being the Managing Editor of the magazine ACFW Journal and the ezine Afictionado for seven years. He also plays with words as a freelance editor and has edited several nonfiction books, proofedited for Abingdon Press, worked in corporate communications, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

From Our (Tiny) House to Yours

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A Book Lover’s Christmas

jollyholiday_2000pxBooks are great Christmas presents. No, they really are. Because unless you’re last-minute shopping and grabbing the first thing you see (been there, done that) a book is a personal gift.

Giving someone a book indicates you’ve taken the time to find a present specifically for them. A book says, “I saw this and thought of you. I think you’ll love it.”

We all have book lovers on our lists. My wife is a librarian. If I pick a book for her, I just about can’t lose. My mother likes biographies. My sister appreciates unusual cookbooks. If I can find a book that mentions Purdue University, then I am “in like Flynn” with my father-in-law.

What kinds of books do your friends and family like? Check out “Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection” which contains my novella, Big Love. It’s a great collection of seven novellas, each one with a tiny house incorporated. There’s some romance, suspense, humor (okay, there’s lots of humor), and even some architecture!

 


MichaelEhretMichael Ehret loves to play with words and as an editor, he is enjoying his playground. Previous playgrounds include being the Managing Editor of the magazine ACFW Journal and the ezine Afictionado for American Christian Fiction Writers for seven years. He has also proofedited for Abingdon Press, worked in corporate communications, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.