A Culture of The Worst?

Optimist Pessimist memeI love interacting with people from other cultures. Discovering the world through their eyes, looking through that other lens, exploring it, seeing where it leaves, discovering new questions, new answers, new approaches. It’s why I got hooked on traveling to foreign places like Ghana, Brazil, Mexico and more, interacting with natives and trying to understand their lives, their world, etc. for over a decade. Those times enriched me and expanded my own box in so many ways. So it’s ironic to find myself a bit flummoxed by my own culture these days.

I grew up being mostly an optimist. While, as Christians, we believed in the depravity of man and doctrine of sin, my basic assumption was that most people are good people or trying to be. Every once in a while you’d run into someone who tested your faith in that theory, but mostly it panned out. A lot of people were doing good things to make a better world, a better life, a better community, sometimes with great sacrifice. And most people I met, it seemed, had a sense of fairness and politeness that dominated them.

But these days I run into more and more people who seem to believe the opposite: all people are evil and trying to be evil. They seem to automatically assume the worst in every case from actions to words to events, etc. Everything someone says is analyzed, and dissected with the assumption it’s meant to insult, offend, or malign. They jump right onto it too, accusing, blaming, critiquing and riling up their allies about it, all the while impugning motives that may or may not be the truth. Intent no longer matters. Who can be bothered to try reading intent in the modern technoage anyway, right? Intent can’t be discerned well via the web, so why bother?

Yet, I come from a belief that intent matters, and more than that, you can choose be insulted or upset, or you can choose to assume the person means well until they prove you wrong. Not so this new breed. (Or maybe they’re an old breed I just hadn’t encountered much before.)

Although we definitely are a more cynical and nihilistic culture now than we were then, it’s flummoxing for me because you really can’t argue or respond to that kind of flawed reasoning. It’s emotionally based, which is irrational by its nature, and it’s fed by deep seated hurts and insecurities that no words can ever heal.  It’s a rather unfortunate way to go through life, if you ask me. I certainly don’t enjoy wallowing in misery or past hurts and pains. I’ve tried it, believe me. Moving on is always better.

After all, there’s plenty more to come. And plenty to be genuinely upset about without looking for opportunities. They will find you no matter what. No need to seek them out.

But for some reason there are people who operate this way. It continues to puzzle and sadden me. The results are often false assumptions, broken relationships and destructive behavior patterns, all of which seem to feed on themselves.

In a nation already polarized over politics, religion and more, that just adds to existing problems, I think. And it’s unfortunate, because, again, trouble will find you all by itself without asking or going looking for it. That’s the world we live in. Regardless, I hope that this way of thinking remains the minority. I certainly have no desire to culturally adapt. It offers no appeal whatsoever, just a whole lotta unneeded drama, and who needs that? I’ve had enough, thank you very much.

Unfortunately, it’s become more and more the kind of trouble that will find you whether you look for it or no. As has happened to me and several others of late. So be it. If it happens to you, my advice is be nice, don’t waste time trying to argue or engage, just let your life speak for itself. And know that, in the end, that will speak louder than any rumors and last far longer. You’ll be happier, too.

You can be the hero of your own story, despite the flaws. And I’m talking about the kind of hero others might look at and identify as heroic, not the kind that makes people wonder are there any heroes left these days? You don’t have to put on tights and a cape and be perfect. We’re all flawed, that’s not the point, but you can choose to rise above your flaws and work harder to be a better person and positive contributor, or you can live for “me first.” That choice is yours.

Not that I have that all figured out, mind you. I’m still flummoxed. But that’s the dynamic of cultures for you. There are always things we struggle to understand about each other; things/ideas/concepts/behaviors/traditions that challenge us to accept or reject them but refuse to allow us to deny they exist.

When you’re a guest in someone’s country, the polite thing to do is to make those reactions internal while maintaining a respectful interior — something not always easy, I admit but which all too many American tourists get wrong to our country’s detriment. But when it’s in your own country, it’s harder. You start seeing it around you more and more, and there’s no escape. You can’t go home and remove yourself, because it’ll still be there tomorrow, waiting, lurking in the shadows, so to speak.

So you carry on and find a way to live with it, I guess. For me, that involves learning how to identify it and also how to avoid adapting it myself. That might not solve the issues it creates, but it sure makes for an easier walk, if you ask me.

For what it’s worth…

BTS author photo 2Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction including the novels The Worker Prince and The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013), Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age  (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He also edits Blue Shift Magazine and hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, on his website atwww.bryanthomasschmidt.net or Facebook.

Dear Valentine: A Poem – February 14, 2012

Dear Valentine,

I miss you.

You’re three thousand miles away.

You’re in another hemisphere,

where I hear you’re going to stay.


Dear Valentine,

my heart is yours,

despite the troubles we’ve known.

Because good memories are golden

and we’ve got by far way more of those.


Dear Valentine,

my heart is broken,

from just longing day by day

for you to come back home again,

and promise that you’ll stay.


Dear Valentine,

I took for granted,

things were so good they seemed plain.

And I’m sorry I forgot

how much I treasured every day.


Dear Valentine,

God Bless You,

whatever paths your life may take.

May your world be full of laughter,

may you smile and jest and play.


Dear Valentine,

you’re not forgotten.

And worry not, you’ll never be.

For, my Valentine, when you went away,

you took a piece of me.

It’s been since June that she’s gone. It’s my first Valentines without her present in four years and the first in seven years without her as my Valentine. So I’m thinking of her, one of the great loves of my life…lost. And wishing somehow things could be different for us. Knowing they can’t be.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, 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. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind and SF Signal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.‎ Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

4 5-star & 12 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $4.99 Kindle http://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.

Do Something: Live A Life Of Significance

This is not a lecture. It’s an observation. And it’s not a self-aggrandizing post but I do need to give some detail on my own life to make the point, so I will.

Recently, I saw Wayne Koons, a former Marine, then NASA Engineer, then pilot/astronaut speak about his education, his life and his faith. Speaking at the same event were one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, a Nicaraguan musician and the head of athletics for University of Kentucky, Mitch Barnhart. Other accomplished people joined them but all of them shared a similar message: Do something. Koons pointed out that the median age of all employees at NASA up into 1969 when Apollo 11 landed on the moon was under 40. And he said it to point out to college students that they can make a difference.

It got me to thinking. I’m a guy who often feels frustrated by lack of success in areas of my life. 23 months unemployed. And I have a hard time getting a job because I’ve done so many things, despite a Masters, and despite the fact my career had been somewhat steady until I was fired by my ex-employer in May 2010.  Resumes don’t explain all the variety in my life. But what does explain it is an inner drive I was raised with to be someone who made an impact on my world and community.

My parents are a doctor and nurse who believed in service. Of my grandparents, one was a farmer, one a teacher, one a housewife and one a utility worker. (The housewife was all about service. She raised six kids and helped manage a farm in addition to serving church and community so don’t write her off as less significant.) My family has a legacy of service to others–careers and jobs which make an impact far beyond the walls of their homes. So naturally, I grew up expecting to do the same.

My earliest dreams fluctuated between being a rock star/composer and an author/writer. I focused on TV and film in college but then wound up leaving my time in Hollywood to travel doing music. Fun as those days were in many ways, I found them unsatisfying. I still wanted to make a difference and entertaining people wasn’t enough. So I went back to school for a Masters while working in sales and other retail jobs to get by, often working 30 hours plus while taking a full time load of classes. It was hard. Grades suffered someone. But I was serving and that made me happy.

After I got my Masters, I founded a nonprofit and travelled for the next decade to Africa, Brazil, Mexico and other places bringing musicians and other qualified arts people to provide specialized training to people who couldn’t afford or get access to it any other way. I raised money,  recruited volunteers, led teams and taught. And to this day, I still hear from students who grew and went on to great success from what Anchored Music has done. We still exist. Life just sideswiped me a bit and have been less active the past two years due to many personal crises in my life. But the point is, we made a difference. I got paid nothing. I took consulting or contract jobs instead of full time to have the freedom to take weeks off and do the mission work. I sacrificed a career path, in other words, but I was doing something and that’s what mattered. No matter what other failures I experience, no one can take that away.

It’s funny when you’re an author. No matter the genre or book itself, people just assume you’re accomplished. Not that I am belittling what it takes to be published. There is hard work and some degree of intelligence generally involved, most of the time, yes. But do all authors deserve to be treated like heroes? Not so sure. I do know when your book teaches something or brings a message of hope and change, it’s much more satisfying than just writing to entertain. Because you’re doing something with your words.

What’s my point? When I was 17, all I wanted to do was be the rock star/composer, find a girl, fall in love, and have a family like the portrait painted by my hero John Denver in his songs. How disappointing it was to find out years later that even John Denver couldn’t live the ideal he sang about. His “perfect” family life was far from it. But I never imagined the roads and paths down which life would take me in my quest to make a difference. Or how much frustration and heartache there could be with employment as a result.

Still, I don’t regret it, because even if I die tomorrow, I have accomplished a lot for a 43 year old man: national radio singles, opening for major acts, name on national TV, TV and radio appearances, songs used in six languages and sung in churches, published books, and most importantly students who took what I taught and went on to make better lives for themselves and their community. That last one is the greatest accomplishment of all. To those people, my life matters. They still tell me that every time they track me down online. I made a difference. I did something and it had significant impact for their lives.

Wayne Koons and Mitch Barnhart never imagined growing up where their paths would take them. Neither did a little African boy who was just feeling lucky to be alive every day in the Sudan. But now they are educated, accomplished men with better lives than any one of them could have ever imagined.

No matter who you are or what your dreams or background, you can do that, too. You can do something and be significant. Your liffe can matter to more than just you. I urge you to consider that. Strive to serve more than just yourself and your own desires. Strive to reach beyond you spouse, kids and immediate community. As Christa McAuliffe said, before dying in NASA’s Challenger accident, “It’s better to shoot for the stars and miss than shoot for nothing  and hit.” So shoot for the stars. You never know, you might just change the destiny of a solar system. Your life can be significant. It can matter. And all you have to do is DO SOMETHING.

For what it’s worth…

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, 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. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind and SF Signal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.‎ Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

4 5-star & 13 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $4.99 Kindle http://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.

VLog: How To Respond To Reviews

Recently my friend reviewed my book at SFSignal. I never expect anything less than an honest review from reviewers, especially friends. Anything is unhelpful because people tend to see through it anyway and because honest evaluation is the only thing a writer can rightfully expect from anyone. You hope they love the book. It’s hard if they don’t. In this case, the reviewer liked it but had some hard criticisms of a few aspects. Nonethless, I went on the site, said I was sorry it didn’t all work for him, linked to the B&N Year’s Best mention of the book, and thanked him for reviewing it. My friend, instead of taking my thanks as appreciation for his work, thought I was upset with him and it made him very uncomfortable. We’ve now sorted that out but it really got me thinking about how we respond to reviewers as writers and here are some thoughts:

Bryan Thomas Schmidt VLog1: Responding To Book Review from Bryan Schmidt on Vimeo.

To read my interview with book blogger/reviewer Sarah Chorn at sffwrtcht, go here.

Why Is Respecting Others So Hard?

I like to post things which are interesting on my Twitter, Facebook, GooglePlus, etc. I do it because they made me think and perhaps others will think, too. I hang with a lot of writers and smart people who like to think, so my assumption is, maybe they’ll find this interesting. Just because I post it doesn’t mean I want to get in a long drawn out debate. GooglePlus allows you to disable comments, a feature I really like. Facebook doesn’t. You just have to block people. So I recently posted something and stated: posting this to make you think. I don’t want to debate it. What happens? Someone takes me on immediately.

Now, ironically, this happened on GooglePlus and I hadn’t turned off comments. I figured, why should I have to? People should respect each other. Well, they don’t. And you know, that’s pathetically sad. It indicative of a general cultural problem which has divided our country and our world.

Why do people feel the need to attack everyone they disagree with? I have friends who cross the spectrum of beliefs from gay to straight, religious to Atheist to Agnostic, African to American to Mexican to Brazilian, none of whom are the same and none of whom believes exactly as I do. I don’t go attacking them every time they post something. I respect their right to disagree. If they want to disagree, fine. But personal attacks are so common. Why? I thought we treasured free speech and individualism in this country? Why is everyone so threatened?

I’m not asking why everyone is angry. I’m furious at being constantly disrespected for what I believe. I am furious at being called a bigot and all kinds of things by people who stereotype a group some of my beliefs align me with and generalizing that I must be like the most extreme members of said group. They don’t know but they assume. And it’s infuriating. It’s insulting. I feel bullied. I have always marched to a different drummer. I resent being told I’m just like everyone else because, frankly, I try really hard not to be. I work at it.

So why do we have such a hard time respecting other people today? I don’t have the answer, but I can tell you this much: it often seems like civil conversation is impossible these days and it’s unpleasant to live in a world like that. I think we can do better. I think we should do better. I think it’s worth the effort. And I wish more people agreed and would make the effort. Because the guy who did this to my post tried to force a discussion I said I didn’t want to have. And although I like and respect this person, I feel beaten up and disrespected by his actions. I feel bullied. And that’s not a good feeling.

For what it’s worth…

Life, Death and Other Ruminations (Thoughts On Suicide & Depression)

Okay, it’s Write Tips day, I know. Mondays I always post them. But this week I don’t have one ready, and part of the reason is that I just can’t get suicide off my mind. I got news yesterday that takes me back to a dark time in my own life.

When I was in my teens, I once sat with my dad’s Army reserve pistol in my mouth, aching to pull the trigger. The barrel was cold against my lips, the gun heavy–it shot .22 caliber but weighed like a .55 (he was a military doctor and didn’t need or want real firepower). I’d loaded it, because I had done so many times using it for target practice in the fields on my Grandpa’s old farm. I don’t remember why I didn’t want to live. I just remember wanting the pain to stop–pain of rejection, not fitting in, no one understanding me, feeling so alone. I also remember picturing pieces of my head all over the wall and my mom’s face as she had to kneel down and clean it up. (She probably wouldn’t have had to do it herself but that never occured to me.) I just couldn’t do that to her, so I put the gun away and left their room and went on to live another day.

Since that time I’ve toyed with the idea a couple times when I was depressed or down, but never seriously thought of suicide again. Not to the point of acting on it or even planning it. But a high school classmate’s older brother, who was a family friend, killed himself when we were in high school. He ate a shotgun in a Kansas field, and so I can’t help, as I watch another family go through this nightmare, thinking about that day and wondering what was in my friend, Todd’s, mind all those years ago, which made him pass that point of no return.

Most people have a really hard time understanding suicide. Most people just don’t get why anyone would do it. Oh they joke about people who had nothing to live for or this and that, but when it really comes down to it, they just can’t imagine. But for those of us who have had serious depression, it’s easier to contemplate. Because being in that deep, dark place is a very dangerous place to be and it feeds on itself in its attempts to defeat you. No one’s told me the specific circumstances of my latest friend’s actual death, but he had to have been depressed. Happy people don’t take their lives. Happy people have hope. Deeply depressed people couldn’t find hope if it stared them in the face.

How is this possible?

Depression is such a deep darkness and sadness that literally it’s impossible to believe at the time that you could ever get out. God can’t even reach you there, and, if you believe in a God who’s everywhere, that’s devastating. People may know you’re down and say encouraging things but they just bounce off the surface, never sinking in. Because people always do that for those they care about but you know the truth of your own real patheticness and worthlessness. They’re just being kind but you know they can see. Your life isn’t worth a thing and you’re just a burden one everyone. Eventually you reach a point of such anger at yourself for wasting everyone’s time and emotions and energy on your worthless self that, frankly, relieving them of the burden seems the only kind thing you can do. Enter suicide.

Most people don’t want to be a burden. Especially to those we love. Even if we don’t really believe they can truly love us or understand why. We don’t want that delusion to be a burden so it’s our fault for deceiving them or sucking up all that energy and if we die, they’ll be better off. Oh it may hurt in the short run, but they’ll eventually realize we were holding them down and be so glad we’re gone. So relieved the burden is over.

Sounds nuts? Well, it’s not right thinking. But that is somewhat what it’s like to be depressed and suicidal. It’s hard to explain to someone who’s never lived it. In any case, it’s truly a tragedy when someone goes there and doesn’t find the way out.

The M*A*S*H* theme song went: “Suicide is painless. It brings on many changes. And I can take or leave it if I please.” But the song is, frankly, entirely bullshit. Suicide is not painless and you either take it or you don’t. It’s final. It’s permanent. And the changes mostly come for the pained people you leave behind. Most families live with that pain the rest of their lives. Parents may divorce after the suicide of a child. The burden is just too much to bear and they wind up taking it out on each other. Siblings may follow in the suicidal footsteps, especially if one is close to the dead sibling. Or they may engage in other dangerous behaviors from drinking to promiscuous sex, etc. Whatever the details, suicide absolutely is NOT painless. It’s devastating. It’s not a gift to a family. It’s one of the most selfish, cruel acts known to man. Killing one’s self is never the right thing for anyone but you. And only in your mind is it right for you.

It’s so sad to think about anyone taking their lives, but especially the two young people I have known. The tragedy of a life cut short. A lost hope for victim and all who loved them. A lost future. A waste.

So my thoughts are on suicide and life and death and depression today. Don’t worry. I’m not suicidal. I’m just grieving the broken world in which such destruction of lives happens way too often to way too many good people.

If you have loved ones, give them a hug today. Tell them you love them. Tell them how much you look forward to every day with them and to the future, whatever comes, with them in it. Then think about my friends and their families and say a prayer. Both for comfort for them and for the blessings you have. None of us really deserve them. Whether you believe they’re from God or in God or not. Take the time to do this. Because life is precious and every moment counts.

For what it’s worth…

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, 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 & 11 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.


Hello 2012! Good Riddance 2011! (Predictions & Reflections)

Well, 2011 is gone and I am as glad as anyone it will never return. I thought 2010 was a bad year but 2011 was so much worse. In may 2010, I lost my full time job. By the end of the year, my part time one also went away due to my out of state job search and their wanting continuity. Unemployment problems began. We made it through 2010 without a relapse of Bianca’s health issues, but in February, 2011, they came back with a vengeance, resulting in her spending most of February through May in various hospitals against her will and causing a great deal of financial and emotional stress for me. While I did sign my book contract at the end of 2010 and see my debut novel published to good reviews and even a B&N Book Clubs Honorable Mention on Years Best SF releases, overall, 2011 was pretty unhappy. I did complete a sequel to The Worker Prince and start a new heroic fantasy novel. I outlined some other ideas and I did see stories published. I made my first paid sale to Tales Of The Talisman early on but it won’t appear until Summer 2012. Residential Aliens finally bought my long standing Worker Prince prequel story, “Rivalry On A Sky Course” and published it a few days before the novel’s release. I also sold stories to the anthologies Of Fur and Fire and Wandering Weeds and got the editing assignment and completed Space Battles, which will feature yet another Worker Prince universe story. Both Wandering Weeds and Space Battles should appear in 2012 along with The Returning, book 2 in the Saga Of Davi Rhii and hopefully other things which have yet to materialize.

SFFWRTCHT became a major thing in 2011. I started it in Fall 2010 and it grew into a majorly respected interview series with a column, guest posts and much more. I got bigger name guests and publishers partnered with me to get me arcs of their books. I also started columns on the  blog as well and am looking into a podcast.

My first book tour was a success and a lot of fun in 2011 and I plan another one for mid-2012 to promote both The Returning and Space Battles. I did my first podcast interviews, author interviews and guest posts all as part of this tour. Additionally, I attended my first Cons as a panelist and author guest. And moderated my first panels. I now do them a lot more often and am enjoying the opportunity to share my knowledge, vision and ideas with a larger audience and interact with them. I really feel like I got legitimized as a member of the professional SFF community this year and that’s a really good feeling.  I also got my first reviews. Most were positive, thankfully. And I’ve learned as much as I can, applying it as we edit The Returning for its 2012 release.

As for 2012, after what I’ve been through, I’m hesitant to make too many prediction, and, frankly, not very optimistic. But based on the few positives from 2011, I can make a few guesses. I imagine SFFWRTCHT will continue to grow. If it’s approved, my membership in SFWA will commence as an affiliate member. I will have three more books published, two anthologies and one novel with my material. North Star Serial will finally come to ebook and I’ll be writing more episodes at some point. I also hope to make my first traditional publishing deal and get an agent. I really feel like those are the next steps in my career but we’ll see.

I have quite a few Con appearances and signings scheduled for 2012. My first signing was a success despite low attendance. I didn’t promote it well due to a date change and just not being on the ball. But we sold well above the statistical average number of books for a signing which I consider a huge success. I will be an Author Guest at Convergence and ConQuest. With Convergence having an average attendance of 5k, that’s a big deal and it will coincide with my having Space Battles and The Returning released, giving me five books with my work to sell. I also plan to attend ChiCon WorldCon and several more area cons and will aim for World Fantasy and GenCon as well.

I have to write book 3 in the Saga Of Davi Rhii, finish The Relic Of Aken, my heroic fantasy, and do draft two of Sandman, as well as write those North Star stories.  I have two steampunk novel ideas and an urban fantasy I would like to get to. And I’d like to get back to short stories outside North Star despite my failure this year to do much with them. I really feel I am terrible with that area of craft but since novels are doing so well for me am focusing my attention there for now. The sole exception being North Star because the present run is almost exhausted and the zine wants more episodes to complete the cycle.

In any case,  I also hope 2012 brings financial stability again, either through a book contract or a steady job or both. This living on the edge has been very devastating, causing me to have serious depression for the first time, gain a lot of weight, and have a lot of health issues. And getting back on a even keel would really change how I produce and enjoy life in 2012. With Congress playing games on unemployment extensions, my current account runs out in February and it’s uncertain how I’ll get by. My parents have strained their resources helping me and I don’t know how to burden them any further. Let’s hope 2012 is not my return to flipping burgers. That doesn’t seem like a good use of my Masters.

Anyway, there’s my reflections and predictions. I tried not to be too negative. Most of you have already seen my hard life posts so why rehash it. After all, isn’t the goal to predict a happier future?

In any case, I hope 2012 brings better times for all of us.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, 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 & 11 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.


Still Skeptical On GW Theory But That’s Beside The Point

It’s been a while since my last Global Warming post, so I feel like making an update for various reasons. (Mostly because it’s on my mind at the moment.) The more I look into it, the more I remain convinced that the scientific community’s dogmatic attitude is distracting them from far more important matters. There have been plenty of scientists poking holes in the theory, plenty of studies showing significant warming periods throughout the Earth’s history even warmer than this one, that I find it ridiculous how much like attacking pitbulls GW proponents become the moment anyone dares questions GW theory. That just makes me question it more. Why are they so threatened by questions? Isn’t that how science is done, by asking questions? I have been around religious cults. I have people in my family who belong to one. That’s exactly how cultists act. Science is no good when you stop questioning things. It stops being science. And GW proponents have made GW their religion, plain and simple. I have a religion. I don’t need another one.

The purpose of this post though is not to rehash that old argument. Instead, while I don’t think we have it all figured out, I remain convinced, as always, that man has harmed the environment. Anyone who says differently, to me, is just being an idiot. How many oil spills do we need to clean up to realize we’ve harmed the environment? How many missing mandrakes must we uncover? How many cities have to have regular smog warnings and level alerts? Fact: Man has been a bad steward of the Earth. There’s no dispute on that. What is disputable is the degree of Global Warming and what we can and must do to reverse it.

It hardly matters, to my mind, whether you believe in GW theory or not. Man must change how we treat the environment in the face of continued distruction and depletion of resources. Fossil fuels won’t last forever, for example. Future generations will pay a price for our refusal to change our reliance on them. Future generations will also pay for continued deforestation, destruction of animal habits, and so much more that we are aware of and continue to ignore. It’s really shameful that there are so many simple things which every person can do that most people never bother with. Separating recyclables and taking them to recycling centers: I live in a small city of 13k. There is no city wide recycling but we do have centers and I separate everything per the list and it gets dropped off regularly. We are talking over half the garbage I generate that’s being reused here. Why in the world wouldn’t I want to do that? Problems exist with our landfills, people. The amount of land on the Earth is not growing. We are using it up at an incredible rate. Garbage has to go somewhere and no, New Jersey, barges in the ocean is not an attractive option. Everyone should be recycling in the United States and major developed countries. Some poorer nations have more of an excuse but one of the things we should be doing instead of fighting over theory is helping them develop programs.

This is my thing. While we fight over theory and argue over facts, the indisputable facts get ignored as well and nothing gets done. There is plenty of evidence that we harm the environment and plenty we can be doing to do better with it, plain and simple. We need to focus energy on that. So what if some people won’t get with the program? That’s always the case. Those who are aware should do all they can. Yet how many people are not? “It’s too hard.” “It’s too expensive.” “I don’t have time.” BAH HUMBUG. It costs me so little to recycle that I can’t even calculate it. Just a few extra trash cans and seconds of my time. Period. Instead of carrying the recyclables to the trash can, I carry them past to a recycling bin (whichever ever of the 4 bins they belong in). No one can reasonably argue to me that’s too expensive or time consuming or hard. And recycling is just one of the things we can do.

What about driving less or carpooling? People value their freedom more than the environment. That includes most of us. I live alone on the opposite side of town from family, and I’m currently unemployed. But I drive only when I must. I walk around the area of my home a lot. Within a few blocks I can find minimarts and restaurants and various places to keep basics going. And when I have to drive, I wait until I have multiple reasons to do so and go to the many different places on one trip. Just being conscious of this saves me a lot of gas and also tends to save time because coordinating stops at places congregated together makes more sense and takes less time than multiple trips.

That’s two simple things any of us can do.

There are more. I once got involved with Ted Danson’s American Oceans Campaign (now Oceana). As  supporter, they sent me a simple wheel on basic household products which are environmentally destructive and how to make environmentally friendly substitutes out of other common household items. I’ve done this. I’m conscious about littering and how I engage with natural habitats and environments. No more breaking off branches or throwing rocks, etc. I try not to mindlessly disturb the place, instead, enjoying it in all its charms while leaving a minimum record that I was there.

There’s more. Look into it. I don’t have time or energy to lay them all out here. We do have a responsibility to future generations for their planetary home. We have not yet discovered somewhere else in the Universe we can go and live. Recent water planet discovery aside. We don’t have capability of sending colonists into space and since the government just defunded NASA, it’ll be a while. Nope. We’re stuck here, on Earth. This is our home and this is where we’re gonna be for a while to come. So we need to do better. Period.

Sometimes I think people just love to blame others and prefer arguing to real progress. It’s always someone else’s fault or responsibility. Always someone else who must start first, never me. BAH HUMBUG. One only has to look at the current White House, one of the least effective in U.S. history to see how good finger pointing and blame does. One only has to look at the current ineffective Congress to see how good arguing instead of pursuing progress works. It’s time for a change. By all of us. Period. If we don’t have the guts to do it, we share the blame. Period.

Well, there you have it. My GW update. At least as far as my opinion goes. I’m sure it will continue to piss off bought and sold pro-GW friends. But they, like everyone else, often continue to miss the point, and so be it. I’m entitled to an opinion. For what it’s worth…

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, 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 & 11 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.

What I Want For Christmas: True Tolerance From Tolerance Demanders

What do I want for Christmas? Well it’s the same thing as last year really. And ironically something everyone could give but most won’t. What is it? I want people to think about what they say and how they say it. I find myself subjected to hurtful hate against Christians and others daily on Facebook and Twitter. It really gets me down. Maybe that’s my depression. But what’s worst is so much of this hate comes in the name of anti-hate. If you say it, think about how you’d feel receiving it. And always assume you can’t read a person’s heart.

That this comes from people I admire, respect and think of as friends is really disturbing. Many are smart, well educated, well meaning people. Do they know how much they’re hurting others with their careless remarks?

One of the most offensive changes in our cultural climate the past few years to me has been the change in the way people ideologically bully others. The chief tool of this seems to have become throwing around words like “bigotry.” Calling someone a bigot used to be a major accusation not given lightly. Now it’s thrown around without major thought. And that’s a very destructive thing. In my experience, this change has come about because people have forgotten the distinction between bigotry and racism and have redefined the word. Ironically, in the process, by calling people “bigot,” they themselves have begun acting as bigots.

Dictionary.com defines bigotry as follows:



noun, plural -ries.


stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.


the actions, beliefs, prejudices, etc., of a bigot.
On the other hand, racism is defined as follows:





a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among thevarious human races  determine cultural or individualachievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.


a policy, system of government, etc., based upon orfostering such a doctrine; discrimination.


hatred or intolerance of another race  or other races.

As you can see, strictly speaking, bigotry is an intolerance of different opinions, creeds and beliefs and acting to persecute anyone who holds such ideologies.  It is not accusing people of being inequal for various differences. That’s racism, and it’s an important distinction. Let’s look at some examples.

I often hear Christians labelled as bigots when they take a stand that marriage is sacred and should be restricted to one man and one woman and not redefined to include same sex couples. Many of these same Christians would have no issue if the government created civil unions or some other form of marriage-like bond for same sex couples but they want to maintain the biblical definition of marriage. How is this bigotry? It’s not according to this definition. They are not saying same sex couples cannot have similar rights. They just don’t want to redefine a religious rite to mean something different than it’s biblically defined. The other difficulty is that many Christians believe for true forgiveness to occur, one must be repentant of the sin. And one must make an effort to leave behind the sinful behavior. In other words, one must attempt to and desire to change. For people who believe homosexuality is a choice, which is also completely unbiblical, this poses a problem as well because if you are born something, how can you be asked to change? They believe the Bible clearly states that all men and women are tempted with sin but we also all have the power to resist and not act on those impulses. Yet, here we are, all of us sinners, which means, we all fail to resist some temptations which we encounter. Equally.

While there are stricter, more conservative sects of Christians who consider homosexuality an abomination worse than other forms of sin and some who even go so far as to condemn gays as an abomination, this is not biblically correct. The bible does not rank levels of sin. The one sin singled out as worse than others is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. That’s the only one. Instead, the bible states many times that all sin is an equal abomination before God and that all men and women are equally sinners. Being a loving God, with faith in Christ, we are offered forgiveness and a second chance. That offer is extended to all sinners, not just straight ones. But because such diversity of beliefs exist, all Christians get painted with the same paintbrush. There are a number of other sects with varied beliefs, some far more liberal than this. Yet all get lumped together when Christians are called bigots, etc. by people who have no idea what those they are accusing really believe.

I believe the reason that people often call Christians bigots is because they don’t share these biblical beliefs. But the fact that they are in ideological disagreement does not make the other side “bigots” by the definition we see above. It just makes them in disagreement. In a country founded for religious freedom, this is an important distinction. Throwing around that term is incredibly wrong. It’s also incredibly hurtful. Even if you disagree with the biblical claims I state above,  that does not make someone who believes those things a bigot. It makes them people who disagree with you. And the holding of a difference in belief itself is not bigotry. It is only when you are intolerant that it becomes bigotry. And as per the definition, that means being intolerant of the belief itself existing.

So persecuting Christians for that belief and labeling them incorrectly as bigoted becomes an act of bigotry itself. Those who take this view argue that the beliefs are discriminatory. But is that really the case? It’s more of a disagreement of definitions and the majority of belief holders are not going out to try and attack or otherwise harm or label or abuse same sex couples. Most would live in peace with them and let each have his or her own, so to speak, but they remain convinced the Bible is true and that its definition of marriage as God’s sacred union of one man and one woman is something that must not be violated. Those on the other side call this discrimination but if same sex couples can have the same rights through civil unions or something how is it really hurting or discriminating against them? It’s not actually. This is a matter of terms really. I have not been alone in suggesting that marriage be left to churches and all couples be offered civil unions by the government. In fact, some countries require this. In Brazil, you can marry in the church, but it’s not legal for the government until you have the civil government ceremony and filing. If these Christians can be accused of something, it may be lack of compassion for others is appropriate, certainly at times. But actual bigotry? In individual cases, yes, but overall? Hardly.

Another example. Recently Lowes pulled ads from a Michigan local TV show about ordinary American Muslims. Lowes was immediately labelled bigoted. But the CEO of Lowes received thousands of letters from potential customers around the country decrying sponsorship of the show, so he made a business decision that it was a headache he didn’t need. Courageous? Maybe not. Bigotry? Hardly. There’s no value judgement being made here about religion. It’s about where advertising dollars can be most effective in promoting the business. Period. Yet they are labelled bigots. Incorrect.

Yet another example. Actress Angie Harmon recently spoke about how she was treated in Hollywood when she answered a question about her politics, revealing herself as Republican: “When I quote, unquote came out I had no idea I was doing something that was detrimental to my career. It never occurred to me. I’m an American. I’m going to have an opinion as everybody else does and I was asked a question. The fact that it was turned into that I was a gay hating racist was just heartbreaking. It was really horrible. The fact that most of my close friends are gay. After I quote unquote came out as a Republican, one of my dearest gay friends said to me, ‘You’ve got to go on a T.V. show and tell everyone you like gay people.’ I was like, ‘Why?’ He was like, ‘Because you’re a Republican.’ I was like, ‘I’m sorry who’s stereotyping who?”

Yes, that’s right, automatic labeling and assumptions based on beliefs. Am I the only one who sees how wrong this is? How ignorant and hateful it is?

To me, this opposition is more a stubborn refusal based on a desire to  “win” an ideological battle (itself a bigotry against anyone who disagrees) than it is about legitimate discrimination. So the accusers in labeling others bigots, themselves become bigots. Ironic, isn’t it? Most of the vitriol and rhetoric these days has one aim: to totally discredit anyone with opposite beliefs. It’s not really about the truth nor is about the mutual respect and harmony they claim to demand. They want to win. And in a country founded on respect for different beliefs and ideas, that’s a crime. The worst perpetrators are people who are educated and smart and should know better. In fact, they often do. That lack of character is the real danger to America, not opposing beliefs.

In fact, these are the same people who preach “tolerance” while being intolerant. There is a difference. Let’s look quickly at these definitions.





a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward thosewhose opinions, practices, racereligion, nationality, etc.,differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.


a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions andpractices that differ from one’s own.





the act of taking or receiving something offered.


favorable reception; approval; favor.


the act of assenting or believing: acceptance of a theory.


the fact or state of being accepted or acceptable.

To disagree with someone’s choices or views is not the same as being intolerant.  It is not acceptance, of course. But intolerance? Hardly. Yet another misused term that’s being improperly employed here.  To not allow others to think freely even when they disagree with you is to be intolerant. It’s also to be bigoted. Who are the real bigots and intolerant ones in these situations?

I once was a camp counselor. We had kids of all backgrounds, beliefs, etc. One day someone heard a rumor that I was Christian and asked me about it. I said, yes, I am. They asked my belief about what the bible says about homosexuality. I said “I believe the bible says it is sin.” That’s it. Period. They said thanks for being honest, walked away and told everyone I was a bigot. I was persecuted as a gay basher and gay hater. Forget the fact that one of the kids I was closest too that year was gay. I never treated him or any of the other students any differently. I never even broached the subject of their sexuality with them. I never talked about my faith. The mere fact that my opinion existed made me a hater. But who was the one being hated? Who was the one not being tolerated? Who was not being accepted?

I’ve gone out of my way on #sffwrtcht, the Twitter chat I host, to allow discussion of a wide variety of topics. Both homosexual fiction and Christian have been discussed. I’ve promoted books with gay characters and books with Christians characters. My own preferences don’t enter into it. All I ask is that we keep our discussions and web content family friendly. Am I really the intolerant one?

Let me close with another Angie Harmon quote from the same article: “Look our forefathers moved here for freedom of speech and wanting to be able to have their own opinion. I don’t care if you’re Republican or a Democrat or a Liberal, getting crucified for the way you think or believe, obviously if it’s not hurting anyone, it’s just Un-American.We’ve become so intolerant of each other that it’s just sickening. It’s just heartbreaking. United we stand, divided we fall. We have got to learn to be tolerant of each other. It’s pretty obvious we’re not going to al think the same way but we’ve got to learn to appreciate every American for the fact that they have the right to think the way they do.The Democrats have the right to think the way they think, the Republicans have the right to think the way they think. I might not understand everything a Democrat or liberal thinks but hey let’s be honest, I don’t understand some of the things the Republicans think, but that doesn’t make me some dumb hick that doesn’t have the right to live here.”

I know exactly how she feels.

For what it’s worth…

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, 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 & 9 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.

Reality Check: Thoughts On American Education

True story. In college, I said “I’m never going to use Algebra and Calculus and you all know it. Give me a math class I can use.” They shook their heads, smiled at me like I was daft, and put me in basic math. We learned how to balance checkbooks, calculate interest, budget, etc. Best math class I ever took and I was the one laughing in the end.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, today’s post is me wondering why a country which was once, deservedly perhaps, known as the greatest country in the world, and which still clings to its sole superpower status, is so behind in adapting certain realities. For example, the whole world uses the metric system. It’s easier than our system, for one, and it’s not based on associations with body parts and such, like feet, etc., which can vary from person to person. (Ever try and measure feet with 13.5 inch shoes like me and compare to someone with 7 inch shoes? Ridiculous.)  We insist kids learn Algebra and Calculus and Geometry, when, in truth, while some basics of reasoning which come from those are essential to life, they could be taught in other ways and the subject matter made more relevant to the realities kids and adults actually face in the real world (like my example above). Why aren’t we teaching kids things that matter? Calculating the distance between two trains running on the same tracks at different speeds and when they will collide is not vital. If some idiot allows two trains going opposite directions on the same track with no plan to get them off, it’s probably because of his bad education and not being taught the things he or she really needed to know, isn’t it?

How much help would it be to teach our kids how to evaluate themselves by various factors rather than still over emphasizing sports as coolness? Later in life, how many people can rely on sports abilities for their friendships and popularity? Just as my uncle, Dave Hale, who once played for the Chicago Bears and had to retire with a knee injury. He’ll tell you how long that all lasts.

How about teaching our kids how to load dishwashers? Sew buttons? Mend clothes? Wash clothes? Basic maintenance and home repair? Oh wait, sorry, those are the parents’ responsibility, right? The same parents whom statistics show annually spend less and less time with their kids as a family because of dual jobs, divorce, and other realities of multitasking modern life.

Why do we insist on forcing kids to read the same classic books their grandparents read in school over and over despite the fact that some, while well written, are so dated and out of touch with contemporary kids that they find them boring and totally unrelatable? Is it any wonder reading has faded in popularity? What if we actually encouraged them to read for fun just to get them reading? Do we really believe they wouldn’t learn anything? Do we really believe they might not actually one day read classics on their own because they want to? Would that be such a bad thing?

And what about teaching people practical science too? I made it through life without ever taking a single class in chemistry. The -ologies I have used the most are Psychology, Astronomy and Sociology. I think basic science is important. But sometimes I wonder if we’re teaching the right subjects. It depends a child’s goals, of course. And exposure to a variety of things is important. I am all for encouraging the sense of wonder which leads to scientific exploration but I do sometimes wonder if we choose subjects because they’re relevant or just because they’re tradition.

Oh science is important, don’t get me wrong. So are culture and socioeconomics. In our diverse world, if we don’t teach this things, we are just leading to the destruction of our unity which is already occurring. People should learn respect for each other and gain some understanding of socioeconomic realities and the differences which result as well as the cultural differences which separate us and how to respect and overcome them. Those are real, needed skills. Why not teach those?

I recently encountered a man in his 30s with terrible spelling who told me his school didn’t teach spelling and grammar. They were deemed less important than other subjects. WHAT?! How in the world could anyone determine that? I hear from teachers all the time about how much of a problem online speak has become in classrooms. Students employ it in situations totally inappropriately and it has really caused issues with spelling and grammar practices. Have we given up then and stopped teaching it all together? Yes, let’s be the greatest illiterate national on Earth, shall we? That’s a way to maintain our status for sure.

Another issue is the bias in classrooms. The fact that the educational establishment tends toward one side of the political spectrum over the other and teaches accordingly is a real problem. How can students learn to think through issues fairly and form their own opinions if they’re taught biased perspectives and never given a fair chance to hear both sides? How can the generations which are our future be counted on for new and innovative ideas to change our world for the better if they can’t think for themselves? It’s indicated in the ideological warfare tearing our country apart at present. With each side declaring the other stupid and itself superior, no wonder we have a country so divided. Teaching children one side over another is just adding to this problem. And private schools with the opposite political bent are just as much of a problem. Like it or not, your children will have to learn to think for themselves to succeed in life and have great futures. The skills needed to do so must be taught in a classroom. Biased teaching cannot provide them with the needed skills training.

Last but not least, we undervalue education. Is it any wonder the development of new methodologies and materials moves often at turtle crawl when we are so quick to cut education budgets in favor of other things? I can’t think of anything more important in life than solid education. Yet our country continues to pay teachers low wages, slash school budgets, and act as if education is a minor concern. All of the issues I posit above are unlikely to be addressed as long as education is a low priority for spending.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my country, despite my disgust with a lot of the problems mentioned. I respect education. I respect teachers. And I am not really suggesting we just dump all the subjects I use as examples. But as I look back on my life and how much my educational background has mattered to me, and as I reflect on the situations encountered in travelling to multiple countries and continents over the past twenty years, I definitely think we need to reexamine our priorities. We need to consider new ideas and be willing to admit we don’t always get it right. How can we make the subjects we teach and the way we teach them relevant to students and their lives? Times change and we must change with them. If we don’t, we are in denial of reality. And living in denial is no way to run a country successfully. The present actions of government ought to be testimony enough of that.

For what it’s worth…

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 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. His second novel, The Returning, sequel to The Worker Prince, is forthcoming in Summer 2012.

3 5-star & 6 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $3.99 Kindlehttp://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh$14.99 tpbhttp://bit.ly/qIJCkS