Category Archives: Musings from the Heart

Don’t Just Do…Live!

Since I was a little girl I’ve been a storyteller, a writer, and a dreamer, always planning to one day be an *author*—that very person you imagine when you whisper the two melodic syllables aloud…but it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve honed my focus, and in the last year that it’s become even more to me: my soul, my heart, my love, and my passion.

So a few weeks ago, just after my first post (“The Journey”), I had an inspiring phone conversation with my mother. We discussed my freshly tuned writing focus, and like a breathless girl admitting her crush I told her my plans—Kyresa, the other books, the blog, the short stories, the networking, all of it. My mother listened patiently, and after a few proud mom compliments she said, in a dreamily soft voice, “Honey, you have it figured out now! You are no longer just doing…you are finally living.” I nearly burst into tears with her sweet words of encouragement, because I realized my mom was right.

Follow your dreams, and live them.

For the first time in my life, I feel like the stars I’ve always reached for are possible. The dreams I’ve always had are right there, at my fingertips, and I will no longer just do; I will live. I have never been more motivated. I have never been so happy and so fulfilled. I truly feel like I have realized what my life means to me, and that I am going to make all of my dreams happen by living this passion. My passion. Tough day, illness, heartache, bills—none of it matters anymore. I have a goal, a dream, and a wish, and it is to live this one life as thoroughly as I can by letting my fingers run across this keyboard as excitedly and quickly as my imagination dreams it, and as rapidly as my heart beats through it.

I have found my peace through writing. You, dear reader—you may be there already, or you may be on the path to finally reaching everything that you dream as well. Whatever the case, I encourage you to follow your heart, to unburden your soul, and to find that true passion within yourself to not just do…but live.

To finally live your fantasy.


This One’s for the Kiddos!

Recently, it came to my attention that several of my students caught wind of my website. I thought this was just a random mention by a few kids, and then I checked my website stats for the day the word spread. As you can see, the results were a little more staggering:

After I saw this, I felt like my life had been written into a Gossip Girl episode for a day, and I decided it was high time to dedicate a post to my awesome kiddos. 🙂

Now, I’m not entirely sure how this happened, but I suppose it could have come about for one of two reasons: genuine enthusiasm for what’s happening on this blog—which is what I’m inclined to believe because, quite frankly, I have some seriously amazing students—or perhaps just a general desire to catch me saying something naughty.

I have heard a few rumors about this idea that would make such a desire understandable. I’m pretty sure the concept of my alleged dirty writing originated last year, when I mentioned in class that I wrote an adult fantasy novel, as in, not young adult fantasy, and somehow this translated into the idea that I write erotica. (Whoopsy! Epic teacher fail moment…)

Sadly, this is not true, but I’m also not going to lie: I write adult fiction, which is to say that within the course of the story, there may be some graphic material (violence, language, sex, overtones, etc.) that may be deemed inappropriate for young adults, just as a TV-MA show might be. In my humble opinion, this sort of reading decision is something teens make everyday, and hopefully this level of reading has occurred with appropriate discretion, parental or otherwise. As a young girl I read far past my age level, but I also knew what was fictional versus appropriate behavior in real life, as I’m going to assume any teen readers have the capacity to do, as well.

So what do I write? I write fantasy, contemporary, and just about anything else that springs into my thick and somewhat pinhead-shaped dome. And since you like to read, I thought it would be fun to know what type of book YOU prefer to curl up with on a lazy afternoon. Adult or young adult, click on your preference below!

Whether you are indeed a student or another reader, young or young-at-heart, thanks for sharing your reading interests back with me and other blog followers. Expect to see more polls and surveys on your interests in the future from time to time, and thank you for participating in this poll!


The Imaginations of Children

This past weekend I saw my niece—also known as the Most Adorable Niecey on the Planet—and she spent a good amount of time being her charming, four-year-old self. Since my sister recently moved a few hours away, I often find myself missing the little munchkin for quite a while after I see her.

Today I happened to remember some of the exuberance my Niecey shared as she showed me her dolls, shoes, hair, and jewelry. She, like most children, has a vivid imagination, as well as a high-pitched zeal with which she loves to share her young, open-minded ideas. On any given day I can probably recount ten favorite memories, but today I thought I’d share just one.

About two months ago, the Most Adorable Niecey stayed overnight, and in the morning she tapped me gently on the shoulder. “Auntie Eva,” she whispered, “it’s time to wake up.” Groggy and somewhat delirious, I managed to wake—albeit slowly—as she explained that it was time to play Princess.

“Princess!” I said, rubbing my eyes. “How do we play that?”

“Well, I’m the Pink Princess,” she said, waving her hands in the air. “I have a pink dress, a pink crown, and a pink wand. I also have pink jewelry!” she squealed proudly, pointing at her bare (but remember, not really bare) fingers and wrist. “It’s time for you to get up, so you can be the Purple Princess.”

“Oh my!” I said. I propped myself up on the pillows. “How do I do that?”

“First, we have to put on your purple dress. Sit up.” I did, and she proceeded to simulate sliding the dress over my head. “Now for your purple crown and wand.” She placed the crown on my head and the wand in my hand, smiling proudly as she adjusted the way I held it. “You have to hold it this way for spells,” she whispered.

“Oh thank you,” I said. “What’s next?”

“Well of course you need purple jewelry. Hold out your other hand.” She slid the imaginary rings onto my finger and clasped a bracelet around my wrist. “I’ll give you your shoes when you get out of bed. Now come down here,” she said, wriggling to the floor and pointing at a two-by-two area on the carpet. “This is my pink castle. And over there is your purple castle. Hurry! You have to get there fast, the dragon is coming!”

“Ick!” I shrieked, jumping out of bed. I climbed over to the area she designated as my purple castle, and then she tossed over my purple shoes. (Yes, she actually simulated tossing over a pair of shoes.) “Do I have to stay here?” I asked.

“You can come over here,” she said, lifting a warning finger. “But you have to move very quickly, and you’re only safe if you wear the purple shoes. Put them on, fast, and come to the pink castle!”

Naturally, I did, and then scooted over to her castle. Clearly, it was the place to be!

We played for a while like this as she told me about all the creatures in the land (the dragon, some magical cats, an enchanted forest, even more glittering purple and pink jewelry!), and eventually my need for coffee won out. “Sweetheart,” I said, “I’m just so tired, I fear the dragon will catch me because I’m moving too slowly. I really need coffee.”

“Silly Auntie Eva, I can make you coffee here in the pink castle!” she laughed, whirling her hands around until she produced a cup of coffee. Not quite real enough for my taste, but I let it slide for another ten minutes until I convinced her Auntie Eva’s kitchen was a safe place away from evil dragons, and that eating pancakes would give her strength to fight them off.

It’s a silly story, true, but the way she weaved her imaginary world captivated me. Each time I see her, she has created some romantic tale of fantasy and magic, a world she wants to involve everyone in. It’s a gift that most children have in their early years, making our already interesting world so much more amazing, colorful, and even a little more magical.

For some scientific reason we tend to lose this ability as we get older, both in our loss of fantastical thinking and in our hesitation to express these ideas. It’s a shame, really—but also the reason so many of us turn eagerly to the wild creativity we see in books and movies, hoping, if only for 300 pages or two hours, we might recapture our ability to run free through someone else’s imaginative musings. These pieces capture us in a world we might otherwise not experience, letting us imagine that we, too, are still the Pink and Purple Princesses (and Princes) of our youth. Those memories may be buried deep within, but somewhere in your mind and heart you might remember these moments bringing a smile to your face…so don’t forget to let them out every once in a while to play.

*** A giant kiss to my adorable niecey V! ***


But What Does Charity Have to Do with Fantasy?

This is the very question I asked myself as I ran at a blazing pace (humor me) on the treadmill yesterday, feeling the urge to write about charity, but also puzzling over how to unify the two concepts.

So I ran, and I ran…and it suddenly hit me as hard as the cramp gnawing at my side: charities are about giving, about caring, and about helping others to reach their goals and dreams. We who have the ability to give, the capacity to share our compassion—if we really make an effort, then we can help those who need our assistance for anything from healing, to resources, to companionship. No matter what the objective, charities provide a clear path toward fulfilling a longing, or a dream—the attainable fantasy of making this world a better place for everyone, not just those who can help themselves.

Saturday night I attended a wonderful charity event for the Ria Foundation, which was founded after the unfortunate passing of a talented young artist named Maria Ann Hsiao, or “Ria.” For the last ten years, the Foundation has been running a program called Art4Kids (http://riafoundation.org/kids.html), bringing art and self-expression to children throughout California and Hawaii and inspiring them to explore their own creativity. As I listened to the presentation about Art4Kids, I thought about how many children could benefit from organizations like this, and also how many children, and people in general, just need a little love and support from others.

My parents are heavily into charity organizations and charity work, and it has rubbed off on me over the years. The reward of helping someone else live the fantasy that we so often take for granted—homes, health, companionship, and food in our bellies—is a pleasure in its own right, and unfortunately, it’s not a topic we often get to discuss with one another.

So, I thought I’d share a few of the organizations that I’ve investigated in the last few years; though there are an infinite number to choose from, these are some of my favorites. I’ve provided an extremely brief description of each, so please be sure to click on the links for more detailed information.

  • Water.org — this organization builds wells and sanitation systems, bringing safe drinking water to communities in Asia, Africa, and Central America.
  • Madre.org — promotes women’s rights and safety in war-torn countries, and supports women’s voices where they remain otherwise unheard.
  • Bestfriends.org — Best Friends Animal Shelter is a no-kill sanctuary in Utah, caring for wild and domestic animals until they are rehabilitated or adopted.
  • Heart.org — The American Heart Association provides tons of research and care for heart diseases. This one is particularly dear to me—several years ago, a close family member was diagnosed with a rare heart condition. She is quite well now, and the organization’s research remains imperative.
  • Dtrf.org — promotes research for a rare and often fatal disease that forms locally aggressive tumors in connective tissues and destroys neighboring tissues—even bones and organs. A close friend of mine has this condition, but she’s had a clean bill of health for about two years thanks to some incredible doctors and the research funded by this group.
  • Africare.org — works to improve the quality of life for people in Africa through sanitation and water services, care and education for HIV/AIDS, and food security for its people.
  • Bbbs.org — Big Brothers/Big Sisters is an experience-based program connecting a “big” brother or sister with a “little” considered in need of company beyond his or her circumstance. I had the pleasure of working with a charming girl for about two years through this program, and we had a fantastic time together every time we met. The time commitment is minimal, but the rewards for both parties are tremendous.

This list is by no means a suggestion, nor is it a very exhaustive one. If you are interested in a charity, do some research to find an organization that fits your heart. The American Institute of Philanthropy gives a great list of top charities based on those that use the majority of their funding for causes and research instead of administrative costs at http://www.charitywatch.org/toprated.html.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to donate or work with a charity, I encourage you to consider it—it is an incredibly satisfying experience, and if every one of us could give even a little, we could share the fantasies and dreams we’ve built for ourselves with so many others around the world.


The Journey

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. If I trace back far enough, I think it all started with a children’s Halloween writing contest in the local paper when I was about six years old. I remember a limit of 500 words. I also remember thinking, “How can I possibly tell this story in only 500 words?”

In sixth grade I wrote “The Bear with a Tutu,” a short story about a ballerina turned into a bear by an evil witch. I don’t remember much about this piece except that it lives in a fire-safe box in my office, and more importantly, that my teacher wrote some incredible words on the top of the first page: “Eva, this is so creative. Please never ever stop writing!” She was an inspiration to me, and so I took her words to heart.

For every breakup, I wrote a poem or twenty; for every stress, I grabbed my journal; and for just about everything else, I delved into the mind of that little girl who wrote about a tutu-wearing bear. I also began to feast on the works of some of the most creative authors in an eclectic array of genres, leading my writing to transform from fictional biographies (strangely about more ballerinas), to horror, and soon after fantasy—and it was in this genre that I found I wanted to thrive. I had a wonderful mentor at the Institute of Children’s Literature who pushed me to create the first three chapters of a young adult book, and in college I had a professor who encouraged me to delve into more mainstream, deeper work, leading me to fall equally in love with the contemporary/mainstream style, and also the idea of writing for adults.

Several years later, I’m still writing—although my journey has been a bit of a wild zig-zag across multiple paths and far too many years of distractions. I have a day job and about fifty hobbies, but I also have a passion to write, and for the rest of my days I intend to live my life immersed in this passion.

And so, I welcome you to join the folds of what Eva Rieder always intended for herself to be, and I thank you for your thoughts and ideas as I navigate that which is truly the center of my being. Perhaps, along the way, life will lead you to a similar place—with a promise to follow your true passion.


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