Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s a big day today for many people. A time to get together with family and revel in the massive amounts of food placed before us. Ok, sure, that isn’t the reason for Thanksgiving, but it is still a good excuse to come together and to express our gratitude for the things around us.

I am grateful for many things. Some are silly and others are grand. I try each day in my life to feel that gratitude, and that is something I believe everyone should do. Appreciate what you have, even when times are tough. So for now, let me thank a few people:

  • To my mom, for always being my biggest ally
  • To my dad, for all your support
  • To Kevin, for your love and kindness
  • To John and Liz, for including me as part of your family
  • To Kim, for ever being my Wonder Twin
  • To Lisa and Bob, for your spirit and joy
  • To Merlin and Monty, for enriching our lives daily
  • To John, for lessons you’ve taught me
  • To Lois, for all of our adventures
  • To Joseph and Christina, for the life you bring
  • To Leanne and Mark, for the unlimited laughs
  • To Chris and Sean, for all the good times
  • To Larry and Jeremy, for always keeping me in your hearts
  • To Kathy and John, for your warmth and understanding
  • To Christie and John, for all your magic
  • To Jeff and Laura, for pursuing your dreams
  • To Jared, for the inspiration you’ve brought me
  • To Hayden, for your keen insight that challenges me to be better
  • To Lorrie, for all distant hugs and support
  • To Greg, for sharing your adventures
  • To Gaby, for protecting our rights every day
  • To Eric, for helping me focus on the behind-the-scenes stuff
  • To Brian, for rising to the challenge
  • To my aunts, uncles, and cousins, for all your passions
  • To my colleagues, for always helping me grow
  • To my students, for the lessons you’ve taught me too
  • To my readers, for living in my worlds
  • To my author friends, for the multitude of the helpful advice
  • To Rochelle, my editor, to the careful attention you’ve given my creations
  • To Fyodor, for visually bringing my characters and world to life
  • To my reviewers, for taking the time to let me know your thoughts
  • To the amazing staff at Mac’s who always take care of us like family
  • To our other favorites (Piccolo, Restaurant Joanina, Tutto Pazzo, Andrea’s 25, Porto Vivo, Primo Piatto, Pomodorino, Bertucci’s, Toast & Co., etc.), for great food and company
  • To video game companies like SquareEnix, Fireproof Games, Activision, Lego, and Gree, for the entertainment
  • To the actors on Broadway, for the ecstatic entertain in every show I’ve seen
  • To the movie and TV show crews, for a phenomenal processes of getting the job done
  • To all my followers online, for all of your support!
  • To the Levittown crew who’ve tapped me on Facebook, for the memories
  • To everyone I had to have missed, for giving me more to be grateful for later when my brain starts working again
  • And of course to William Shatner and State Farm for this important PSA with a catchy twist, thanks to melodysheep
Deep Fried Turkey - William Shatner

Deep Fried Turkey – William Shatner, State Farm PSA

Hurdle: Finding Time

The biggest challenge I face today is finding the time I need to complete my edits. I can’t just sit for ten minutes here and there to work on them. That would be like painting a wall a little bit every hour. It loses the flow and the brush tends to dry up and scratch the wall, or it requires spending a lot of time cleaning the bristles in between.

To truly edit, it takes a block of time to sit and let myself sink back into the world I created with the people who live there. I love spending time there, but life outside that world is a busy place too. 

This week, I received back the edits for book four of the Red Jade series. It is the culmination of the story and I received great feedback from my editor. I always take the edits and just read them through first to see the overall tone of what needs to be done, of where I slipped off the mark in the story, and so on. Mostly, I have a bit of cleaning to do, but I don’t have to repaint the whole room, so to speak. I feel grateful and excited.

While these edits have been going on, I have also been working with my cover artist on the other covers. Every time I think we are finished, I come up with some other tweak to the art or text and we dive back into it. I’m also printing the covers without the text for myself, so we also check to make sure that works too. 

I’m also doing my part to get the word out about book one. It is truly amazing how much time goes into just that alone! With all the books out there in the world, getting mine noticed takes a bit of work. It is rewarding that reviews are starting to come in for it. If you have Journeys in Kallisor, please consider posting a review on Amazon. It would really help.

Kono with Journeys in Kallisor ad 

Kevin also made some great ads to include in his iOS apps. I love how they turned out!

So now I have need of a time machine. Or, like the girl in the old TV show Out of this World, I’d love to just bring my fingers together and pause the world around me. Then I could escape into Kallisor and Hathreneir and see what Dariak and the others are up to.

To be fair, “finding” time is a bit of a misnomer. Really, it should be “making” time. So now I need to look at my schedule and shift some things around and get to work on those edits. The journey continues and there are those among you already awaiting book two. It is on its way, I promise!

I Stand With France

When tragedy strikes, it is difficult to know what to do. We mourn. We weep. We get angry. We wonder how it’s even possible for people to hurt each other at all. I stand with France in these troubled times. But more than that, I stand against violence.

Violence seems a part of our nature. It’s something not everyone is able to control. Though I’m not a religious person, I’m familiar enough the basic tenets of “Love thy neighbor” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Why must these be in religious writings and prayer? Because the violence is within us and we need to be reminded to avoid it.

So it up to us now to challenge ourselves to be stronger than that inner seed of hatred and anger and rage. We must channel the force of violence and reshape it into something more positive. Use that drive to improve an aspect of the world around you, to make it better for everyone. It may be small at first. You hold a door for someone even when you’re running late. You breathe deeply when someone wrongs you and try to understand where they’re coming from, then speak your mind more calmly. Work on a new invention that helps ease the suffering of others. Pitch in at a soup kitchen. When the violence comes, find ways of diffusing it.

It isn’t always possible and I don’t mean to sound callous. I have no intention of belittling the pain of shootings like those that happened in France or in schools around the world, and so forth. These events must remind us not to lose sight of our humanity. We must grieve. We must feel. We must respond, but we must do so carefully.

Sometimes it is important to react in kind and stop a force that rises up against us. But in the day to day, remember that we are all struggling with that inner anger. We all feel injustices around us, even if it’s just at the person who cut in front of you on the highway. We each have a struggle we are facing, so let us take the time to be a little nicer. To go out of our way a little bit for someone in need. To slowly put an end to violence by making it unnecessary. 

Idealistic? Perhaps. But if I did not believe in a brighter, wiser tomorrow, then I would not be able to teach today.

My heart goes out to the victims and their families. Today and tomorrow and the next day, I will do that one extra thing to help another person, to share the message of peace above violence, to improve the world around me even just a little. As we all grieve, let us all do the same. 

I light a candle tonight in honor of those lost. May you rest in peace.