Thankfulness: What Are You Truly Thankful For

December 1st is always an odd time. A time when we shift from a period of reflection and thanksgiving formalized in the Thanksgiving Holiday—which, of course, also has ties to pilgrims and Indians colonizing the states—to the season of greed and giving, Christmas. Now, Christmas for Christians signifies a sacrifice and gift of a Savior, which if you believe in it can and should have real significance. But for many, even some Christians, that blessed gift is often overshadowed by the commercialized Santa-fication of the holiday as signified by a famous jolly old elf and his elf assistants and reindeer with shiny, lit up trees and candy canes and tinsel and so much pomp and circumstance as much centered on receiving as giving.

It’s an odd shift to go from gratitude to greed, yet so many of us seem to manage it seamlessly year after years. I make no claim of being an exception, but what I am as a poor person however is someone used to meager giving and receiving due to circumstances in a way that lends itself to philosophical thought. And that brings us to today’s question: What Are You Truly Thankful For?

Are you thankful for the people who love you in spite of your imperfections, mistakes, and other failings? Who keep coming back time after time to support and check on you no matter what? Who you can call day or night and count on night or day when the going is tough or when it’s really easy? Most of us have someone like that, or more than one.

Are you thankful for the material things you keep gaining in abundance—a DVD collection, a book collection, music collection, wardrobe, money, a car, makeup—you name it?

Be honest. What first comes to mind when you hear the word “Thankfulness.” It is likely there that your true treasure lies. Ask yourself is that really where it should be? Is what you are most instinctually thankful for the thing you should value the most when it comes to gratitude?

For years, I would have answered “What Are You Truly Thankful For?”with things like my guitar, keyboard, banjo, books, CDs, DVDs or something else material. These days I am far more likely to answer with my pet’s names because after years of struggles with suicidal depression after a horrendously traumatic divorce, they are the ones who loved me unconditionally every day and got me to get out of bed and find the will to keep going. I might not have cared if I lived but I’d be damned if these poor once abused and abandoned animals I’ve taken in would be cut one damn day short of the life they deserve because of me. Seriously. They love me even when I lose my temper and am short with them. I couldn’t possible ever leave them without someone to take care of them. And so I went on. And things got better, and here I am. Because of Louie and Amelie, and now Lacy too.

For me, at least, that is an object for gratitude truly worthy of the name. And I am thankful that I have them to remind me of what true fortune is. What about you? You get up, you eat, you breathe, you drive a car, leave a house you own or rent but consider “your home”—for most of you its nice and you take pride in it—what do you truly feel gratitude when you think about? That’s the answer to “What Are You Truly Thankful For?” that I want to hear. Thats the one that should be first on your minds.

If it’s not, ask yourself why and perhaps reconsider your priorities a bit as we go into a season of greed that could erase the good will and positive vibes the prior season of thanksgiving has left us all with, or should have. I am not judging you. I am trying to inspire you: to see the true value where it really is and embrace it. To make thankfulness truly a philosophy of living. I am trying to do it and even pondering it changes your outlook and your attitude. That’s unavoidable.

Which sounds better: walking through life with true gratitude for something meaningful you have that you never deserved and money can’t buy or walking through life lusting for the next gratefulness fix, one that will fade away as soon as the next desire overcomes and takes its place?

Consider this a challenge. When you think of the word “thankfulness,” What Are You Truly Thankful For? Is that the best it can be? If not, what are you going to do about it.

For what it’s worth…-

Acknowledgements: The Returning

These are the acknowledgements I wrote to my second published novel, fourth novel I’ve written. It thanks a lot of online and real life people who deserve to share any credit for my success.

Acknowledgements
Writing your fourth novel and first sequel is an interesting
experience. And as I finished each chapter, I turned it over to a
dedicated trio of beta readers—Michelle Ristuccia, Lee Gunter and
Louis Shalako. Each brought different perspectives and experience as
readers and writers. And as is my wont, I did not look at any notes after
chapter 1 so it wouldn’t cloud my writing process. (I only looked at
chapter 1 because I wanted to be sure what they were giving me was
going to be useful. It was…quite useful!) Amazingly, once I got it all
together, and once I let them read The Worker Prince (they’d been
chosen as betas initially because they had no familiarity with it), they
kept telling me this book was better. Now it’s up to you to decide.
Despite all those who graciously assisted me in making this book a
reality and, I hope, a success, any errors or issues remain my own. So I
gratefully thank, in addition to the three wonderful betas listed above,
Kathy Williams, Mike Wallace, Anthony Cardno, Randy Streu, Jen
Connelly Ambrose, Tim Ambrose, and Diminished Media Group for
editing, input, proofing, feedback, encouragement, support and more.
And for loving my writing even at its worst in a way that continues to
amaze and inspire me to keep going.

I must add to the list those who taught me story craft: Ted Dale,
Ron Dyas, John Wells, Larry Ward, and so many at California State
University, Fullerton film school. Again writers like Leon C. Metz,
Robert Silverberg, Orson Scott Card, Mike Resnick, Ken Scholes, Jay
Lake, Kevin J. Anderson, Alan Dean Foster, Timothy Zahn, A.C.
Crispin and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. For support, encouragement and
friendship, Mary Robinette Kowal, Kat Richardson, John A. Pitts,
Brenda Cooper, Saladin Ahmed, Jason Sanford, Patty Jansen, Moses
Siregar III, Howard Andrew Jones, Jean Johnson, Patrick Swenson, and
all of the SFFWRTCHT regulars.

To the publicists and other friends who helped promote The
Worker Prince, had me on their blogs, reTweeted, posted links, etc.,
mostly without my asking, especially Adonna Pruette and Matt
Staggs—thank you for supporting me. In supporting you, I never had
ulterior motives. It’s nice to know I don’t need them. Special thanks to
Paul Goat Allen for honoring The Worker Prince with Honorable
Mention on his Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Years Best Science
Fiction Releases of 2011. You have no idea how much that encouraged
me at just the right time.

To my dogs, “my babies,” Louie and Amelie for always reminding
daddy that he’s loved and that he takes things too seriously way too
often. Your companionship has seen me through so much. To family:
Ramon & Glenda Schmidt, Lara McCullough, Kyle McCullough, Karl
and Heather Schmidt for support. To Mitch Bentley for great artwork
and encouragement and Jeana Clark for the map. To friends like Charles
Davidson, Aaron Zapata, Tim Pearse, Greg Baerg, Shaun Farrell,
John Klima, Patrick Hester, John Anealio, Kaolin Fire, Sarah Hendrix,
Johne Cook, Grace Bridges, Jaleta Clegg, Matthew Sanborn Smith,
Charles A. Tan, John DeNardo, John Ottinger for all your support,
encouragement, and so much more. I am so blessed by your presence
in my life!

Last, but not least, to all the readers and reviewers who read The
Worker Prince and sent feedback or just told a friend. This is for you. I
hope we fixed the issues and grew in craft. And I hope you enjoy this
second chapter even more than the first and look forward with me to
the “more to come.”

God’s richest blessings on you all.
Bryan T. Schmidt
Ottawa, Kansas
Spring 2012

Unbelievable Day

Today started out badly. But never has a day so quickly turned completely around and gone off the map. I mean toilet overflow with chunks kinda day. Yep. That’s what I dealt with first thing this morning. Disgusting. Sorry to share. But there’s a point.

Then, just reading my Facebook wall, I find this: http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Explorations-The-BN-SciFi-and/The-Best-Science-Fiction-Releases-of-2011/ba-p/1241244

As usual, I check it over and prepare to send it out for others to see. Then I get to the Honorable Mentions. Just scanning, mind you. And my mind is blown.

My debut novel is listed.

I know Paul from Facebook and B&N Book Clubs. Nice guy. We’ve chatted a few times. He invited me to send my novel, so I did. In August. Never heard a word. I figured he didn’t review it. Maybe he didn’t like it. Maybe it just didn’t catch his interest.

I am stunned, amazed, humbled and honored.

I feel legitimate in a whole new way. And so privileged.

If you haven’t seen it, you should check it out here http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/the-worker-prince/

And if you’ve read it, please review it on B&N, Amazon, Goodreads, etc. Sales are steady but slow. And I guess I feel like there’s an audience out there who would enjoy it I’d like to see discover it.

Thanks to all for the support and encouragement!

Especially those mentioned on my Book Day Thanks. Thanks to Paul Goat Allen as well!


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

‎4 5-star & 8 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $3.99 Kindlehttp://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.  Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble’s Best SF Releases of 2011.

A Book Day Thanks

We all have our Writer’s Journey and it’s different for everyone. Although I thought of this story idea in my teens, it wasn’t until 2008 that I actually began to seriously dream of being a published novelist. To be there three years later, is still unbelievable. Here’s the Acknowledgements from my first novel, reprinted here because these people all deserve so much thanks.  In this case, I just don’t have words.

Acknowledgements

The idea for this story came to me when I was a young, fifteen-year-old science fiction fan living in a small Kansas town where it sometimes felt like dreaming was the only way out.  Over the years, I lost my original notes, but the idea in my head and the names Xalivar and Sol stayed with me.

It took me twenty-five years to start writing it and I wrote daily through some of the toughest trials I’ve experienced in my life.  So this book you hold in your hand is a victory in many ways, and I’m very excited and proud of it and hope you’ll enjoy it and share it with others.

Thanks go first to Lost Genre Guild for inspiring me to try writing for Digital Dragon and to T.W. Ambrose for encouraging me to write more space opera stories, and then agreeing to publish them. An abridged version of the prologue to this novel first appeared in Digital Dragon’s May 2010 issue.

Secondly, thanks go to fellow authors like Blake Charlton, Ken Scholes, Jay Lake, Mike Resnick, Leon Metz, Jason Sanford, Moses Siregar and Grace Bridges who have supported, encouraged and advised me time and time again, no matter how silly my questions were or how many times they’d heard them before.  Special thanks to Blake and Grace for taking time to read and offer more specific advice to help me grow as a writer and to Mike Resnick for advice in figuring out this crazy business.

Thirdly, thanks to first readers and friends like Larry Thomson, Tim Pearse, Jeff Vaughn, David Melson, Todd Ward, Mike Wallace, Andrew Reeves, Chris Zylo Owens, and the members of the FCW-Basic Critique Group for actually seeming to enjoy my writing even in its roughest form and for giving me feedback which helped me to improve it greatly.

Fourthly, thanks to friends like Charlie Davidson, Aaron Zapata, Mark Dalbey, Nelson Jennings, and Greg Baerg, who, along with some of the guys above, have helped me escape from behind the desk and keyboard and laugh a little bit when I needed it.

Fifthly, thanks to Mitch Bentley for actually reading the book before creating the awesome cover art.  And thanks to Randy Streu, Jen Ambrose, Paul Conant and Darlene Oakley for their editing and advice, the El Paso Writer’s League for encouragement and fellowship, and Mike Wallace for the science of the Boralis solar system. Thanks also to Jeana Clark for the solar system map which brought it to life for me.

Thanks to you, the reader, for taking a chance on a new, unknown writer.  I hope you like it enough to come back for more.

Thanks to God for making me in His image and giving me the talent and inspiration to do this and continually opening the doors. I look forward to seeing what’s behind the next ones.

 

Let me add a few names of people who weren’t mentioned but would have been at this point if I wrote that today, including blurbers and others who’ve supported me so much: Mitchell Bentley (what a cover–sorry, I meant to add you in!!!!), Maurice Broaddus, Saladin Ahmed, Jaleta Clegg, David Lee Summers, my parents–Ramon & Glenda, whose thanks comes in the book’s dedication, Jamie Pearse, Sarah Hendrix, John H. Stevens, Kaolin Fire, Lee Gunter, Louis B. Shalako, Michelle Ristuccia, Shaun Farrell & Adventures In SF Publishing, Kevin J. Anderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Kat Richardson, Sam Sykes, Patrick Swenson, Eric Reynolds, Johne Cook, John DeNardo, Charles Tan, John Ottinger, Lyn Perry, Mike Ray/RedstoneSF, Anthony Cardno, David Rozansky, John A. Pitts, Brian Knight. I know I’m still forgetting someone, but at least this is a better list.

 


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host ofScience Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.