Category Archives: Sports

Rob’s Update: One More Day

Week of 4-10 June

Greetings all

A Lake Most Deep is FREE on Amazon for one more day. If you’ve wanted to suggest the Edward series to anyone now is the time to do it. On Saturday, it returns to its normal $3.99 price.

One more day means much more than that to me, though. Jason Garrett, coach of the Dallas Cowboys, talks all the time about stacking good days. Do good work today. Then tomorrow, do more good work. Then the day after. Pretty soon, you’ve made great progress.

He’s right, and this is a business where that’s needed. You don’t get novels written in a week of good days, at least I can’t. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that I struggle with. This week has especially been a challenge. There was a bit of a catastrophe at my house a week or so ago. It’s nothing huge, and insurance is doing its job. I’d like to say right now that Nationwide has been awesome. Anyway, while nothing difficult, and will oddly end up being a good thing for the house, it takes time and energy, and has distracted me some from my work.Hence, I’ve done little but behind the scenes stuff all week.

The good news is that weeks like this often mean my mind starts bubbling with ideas, and that’s happened. I was in the shower the other day and I realized exactly how I will kill off a very important character. It won’t happen in the next book, or probably even in the book after that. However, there will come a time when that character will die in a certain way.

That’s always a satisfying feeling, actually. Oh, I cry every time I kill off a character I like, and I’ll cry when I kill this one off, but now I know the character’s entire story arc. I have a bunch of details to fill in between now and then, but the character has carved out his or her place in my world. One of these days, this character will have served its purpose, and I am happy to say its an important purpose.

Now I just have to keep stacking days, type out the hundreds of thousands of words between now and when that character meets its fate.

One last thing to mention. I was a guest on last Sunday’s Write Pack Radio discussion of Plutarch and writing non-fiction. I’ll be on again this upcoming Sunday where we discuss working with an editor. You can find them at:

Quote of the Week

The catastrophe basically involved water overflowing. Hence, this quote from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, one of my favorite poets, seems apt.

I first learned this poem, by the way, by listening to Rush. I learned another Coleridge poem from Iron Maiden, and I think I was the only person in 8th grade who really enjoyed going through the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Anyway…

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Khan

News and Works in Progress

  • Not much to report this week in terms of new fiction.
  • Started working on revamping my website.

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

Right about now, three friends of mine are flying to France so they can walk about 500 miles of the Camino Real to Santiago de Compostela. This is a pilgrimage that I’d like to take someday. In 2012, I walked about 100 miles of the Offa’s Dyke trail, and I will say that long distance walks are awesome, even if exhausting and tough. If you go to http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=248, you’ll find the first of my blog posts about that trip. I enjoy reading through that quite a bit.

However, this is a spotlight section, so I’ll point the spotlight at Heather Dale, who has provided a theme song for all pilgrimages at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ww_lVS2P9cM. You can find the rest of her stuff, which is brilliant, at: http://heatherdale.com/.

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

NFL Christmas Presents Opened

I meant to get to this sooner, but with finishing Where Now the Rider and Planet Comicon, I just haven’t had a chance. I also didn’t have a chance to the the Comicon AAR out earlier, so look at me, double-posting in a day. Go me!

Anyway, as a Dallas Cowboys fan I’ve been very happy with our drafting over the last few years. Much of that success can be given to Will McClay, who has proven himself an excellent talent evaluator.

Getting Dak Prescott in the 4th and having him turn out to be as good as he has been is a stroke of great fortune, but even so last year’s draft was excellent. Ezekiel Elliot looks all that was hoped, and both Maliek Collins and Anthony Brown look like quality starters from the 3rd and 6th rounds respectively. If Jaylen Smith and Charles Tapper can return from injury, than the 2016 draft will be one of the best ever in the NFL. That’s not hyperbole, actually. If one can get three quality starters in a draft, then you’ve had a good draft. This one currently has four, with a chance at more.

So I wasn’t expecting anything like that this year. However, this draft lined up with Dallas’s needs, defensive linemen and defensive backs and I am very pleased with the result because we came out of the draft with 7 players from those two areas.

For my whimsical write up, check my post on the best Dallas Cowboys website, Blogging the Boys: http://www.bloggingtheboys.com/2017/5/2/15525582/rhodris-2112-pack-2017-draft. There I have an occasional series of 2112-packs, where I give out 12 aptly named beers to whoever strikes my fancy.

Overall, the draft is getting bigger and bigger, and for me, lots more fun. The more data there is out there, the more I research. Lots of fun stuff, especially when I see more of the moves getting played out.

For example, I mentioned that the Cowboys needed DLine and DBs and that this draft is deep in both positions. It’s very clear that the Cowboys anticipated this depth and engineered their team to need those things most right at the time when they were most available. Excellent job, especially since in so doing they will have more draft choices next year to find whatever positions are deep in 2018.

Don’t ask me what they are. I’m not a professional and I haven’t started to research that draft class yet. I’m hoping it will be deep in offensive tackles (a premium position that was extremely weak this year), linebackers (where Dallas has some young players looking for their next contract), and receiver (because Dez is getting old and we need an heir).

As a spectacle, it’s getting more fun too. The NFL and the Make-a-Wish Foundation arranged for a kid to announce the Baltimore Ravens pick. Awesome thing.

The announcers in general are getting more fun. In the 2nd and 3rd rounds, former players or people affiliated with the teams announce the picks. The draft was held in Philadelphia this year, home of one of Dallas’s greatest rivals, so when retired Cowboy great Drew Pearson took the stage to announce the pick, he was soundly booed. He gave it back in spades by epicly trolling them. Brilliant stuff.

Sports are entertainment. One of my biggest problems with the NFL is that sometimes it takes itself too seriously. It’s great to see the draft changing, and perhaps that will cause some other changes, like getting rid of stupid overcelebration penalties.

It’s only 358 days to the 2018 NFL Draft, but who’s counting?

 

NFL Christmas

This is one crazy weekend for me. I will be at Planet Comicon talking to as many of the 60,000 or so attendees as I can starting 11ish tomorrow.

But I’ll also have an eye on one of my favorite weekends of the sports year, the NFL Draft.

Now, this isn’t like the full Opening Day of baseball or the Super Bowl, which are national holidays to me. No, this is sort of like a combination of final exams and kiln Christmas, the term my potter friends for the moment when the open the kiln after a firing and see what their final results are.

I love thinking about sports from a GM’s perspective. In other words, how they create rosters, even to the point of considering how I would adjust to fit under salary caps. I probably know more about NFL salary cap structures than nearly all non-accountants.

It’s a complicated dance, sort of like a multi-faceted Sudoku game. The numbers have to line up, and I love the challenge of playing armchair GM.

For people like me, the NFL draft is a lot of fun. Other drafts are interesting, but the NBA draft is tooooo short (2 rounds). The baseball draft is tooooo long (30+ rounds). The NFL draft, however, is juuuuust right. 7 rounds, 32 teams, which would be 224 picks, but we also add a number of compensatory picks awarded to teams who lost some free agents the previous year. This year, all told, there are 253 picks.

I watch enough college football and absorb enough research, mock drafts, and scouting reports, that I have some idea about 300 players going into the draft.

I then spend the draft seeing if what I’ve judged matches what the true experts judged.

And then it keeps giving, because you really can’t judge a draft until its 3rd year, so yes, I pay attention to NFL players that I thought were interesting, or would be busts, from many years past.

How do I do, you may ask? Pretty good, actually. I’ve learned some things that generally make more of a difference than one might think.

For example, speed is important for a wide receiver, as one would guess, but past a certain point (around 4.6 40-yard dash), the physical attribute most correlated with success for receivers is height. All else being equal, a receiver with 4.59 speed who’s 6ft 3in will do better in the NFL than a receiver with 4.39 speed who’s 5ft 10in. The reason for this is that the people who defend receivers need exceptional quickness, but few taller players have exceptional quickness.

Pass rushers need long arms more than anything else, but of course if they don’t have a certain baseline of strength they can’t do much. Still, 36in arms are a huge leg up, so to speak, for a defensive lineman. The reason, by the way, is that if an offensive linemen gets his hands on a defensive lineman, it’s difficult for the defender to get to the ballcarrier.

Lots of stuff like this. Fascinating for me.

And the players often have interesting stories. One of the sad stories this year is that of Jake Butt. Yes, that’s his name. And yes, he’s a tight end. The jokes write themselves. The sad part of the story is that he got hurt in his final college game and he lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, he’s definitely got a sense of humor. Charmin has hired him as one of their spokesbutts… er… spokesmen.

The first round of the draft is tonight. The second and third tomorrow night. The final four rounds on Saturday.

I’ll be watching every pick when I can, more curious than any cat about the trades that shape the draft.

And yes, you can expect a draft review next week. Once I’ve recovered.

Rob’s Update: The Other Half Is Physical

Week of 2-8 April

Greetings all

The memorial this weekend went very well. I figured out what to say, and you can find it on this blog post: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=582. We had enough food and drink for everyone (more than enough, I literally came home with 3 boatloads of ribs). Mom’s display of his things and pictures was excellent. And several people got up and told stories, including one that I don’t remember where I jumped out a window when I was 3.

As promised, I did very little on Monday but watch baseball. Unfortunately, the Rangers lost, but that’s baseball. A very wise philosopher once said “you win some, you lose some, and sometimes it rains.”

I’m getting the itch to revamp my personal website. I suspect that might happen right after I send off Where Now the Rider. Though I said I’m putting it away for a week, I didn’t really, and I’ve been editing here and there. In some ways, the editing process has been nice. I wrote too many words in the original draft, so cutting scenes out hasn’t really been a problem. This makes up slightly for hunting down every problem with timing and location created by shuffling chapters around. I’m changing how I write to make this less of a problem in the future, by the way.

I did do some work on Brief Is My Flame and None Call Me Mother. Basically, I wrote the opening scene of BIMF and planned what I want to happen with many of the major characters at the end of NCMM. It’s likely not all that will actually happen, but that makes it easier for a lot of the writing.

Over the weekend, I started planning for a trip to North Carolina with my mom. While this is prompted to let mom go visit my aunts, I will time it so I can go to a couple of things. It’s looking like I’ll be at Atlantia’s War of the Wings and HonorCon in late October, but both are tentative at this point as I’ve just started making arrangements.

This upcoming weekend is Calontir’s Crown Tournament. I’ll be there live-blogging the tournament on Facebook, as usual. I don’t plan on setting up a table, but I’ll have books there. We’ll see. I might get sales, I might not, it’s hard to say.

Anyway, that’s it for now.

Quote of the Week

You get another baseball quote this week. Don’t worry, I’ll not run out of them. I’ve got plenty.

This quote comes from one of the world’s great aphorists: Yogi Berra.

I find this quote apt for writing. So much of writing is just doing, but that doesn’t change the thinking part.

“Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.

– Yogi Berra

News and Works in Progress

  • Where Now the Rider: editing and eliminating plot holes
  • Brief is My Flame: initial scene, a debriefing to Ivan Yevgenich of what happened in I Am a Wondrous Thing
  • None Call Me Mother: laid out the end game for many of the characters, now I just have to figure out how to get them all there
Upcoming Events
Spotlight

I met Susanne Lambdin in a dealer’s room where we didn’t have many people circulating but we had whimsy. Mine was by far the best paper airplane design, as she’ll readily admit.

She just released a new book starting a new fantasy series to go with her zombie series. Her website is http://www.susannelambdin.com/ and you can find her author page here: https://www.amazon.com/Susanne-L.-Lambdin/e/B00EYNT4OW/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1491413106&sr=8-1.

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Rob’s Update: Waiting for Spring

Week of 26 March – 1 April

Greetings all

Saturday will be the memorial for my dad. Yes, April 1st. Given his love for dad jokes, it seemed appropriate. Besides, it was a day the church had open. I’ll be saying something. Not sure what something yet. What does one say, really? I can figure out that Monty Python’s Dead Parrot sketch is probably inappropriate. As is just about anything from the Holy Grail. Beyond that? I’m sure I’ll come up with something, but I may not even know until I’m standing up there.

Glad the SCA has given me a lot of experience talking in front of people.

It’s been a productive week. Where Now the Rider is at the stage where I’m going through and inserting clues and red herrings so there’s a proper trail of bread crumbs. The goal, of course, is for you to have the possibility to figure out the villain, but make it very difficult.

My editor can take it at the end of April, so I’m going to finish a draft next week, take a break for a week or so, then polish it for a week before sending it to Kellie.

What I’ve done since I’ve taken my foot off that pedal is to start seriously plotting books 2 & 3 of the Kreisens series, the series that started with I Am a Wondrous Thing. The working titles will be Brief is My Flame and None Call Me Mother. These are working titles and might change, but I like them, especially with some of the tribulations Irina and Eleonore are going to face. I’m plotting both of them, by the way, because when writing I Am a Wondrous Thing I sort of floundered about in terms of pacing. I’m still mostly a pantser (a writer who writes by the seat of his pants), but at least having a basic outline might help. I’ve had nebulous ideas all along, but I want to firm them up some.

Of course, I’ll change them all the time. But at least they’ll be something I *know* I’m changing.

Anyway, that’s enough for now.
Quote of the Week
I may or may not get anything done on Monday the 3rd. Just warning you. In my mind, the first Monday in April (sometimes the last Monday in March) should be a national holiday. It’s baseball Opening Day, and I’m only halfway joking about the national holiday thing.

Opening Day has a magic about it. It’s a day of comfort, a sure sign of the end of winter and a return of the poetry of the game. It’s a day of hope, because on that day every team is in the playoff race and every fan can imagine a way, if things come together just right, their team can make it to the playoffs, and if that happens, who knows?
On Opening Day, though, it’s fresh again. Checking box scores has not yet become routine again. It’s like sleeping in your own bed for the first time after a long trip. You know it’ll become part of the routine again, and you’ll like it then too, but not with the snuggly, burrowing feel of that first night.

Why not have a holiday celebrating comfort, hope, and the return of spring?

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”
– Rogers Hornsby

News and Works in Progress

  • Finishing Where Now the Rider
  • Plotting Brief is My Flame and None Call Me Mother
Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Nothing new this week. I’ll be adding a batch of updates to the wiki to catch up with things in Where Now the Rider.
Upcoming Events
Spotlight
I listen to a lot of folk metal like Tyr, Korpiklaani, and Tengger Cavalry. Not surprisingly, I often fall into the rabbit hole of YouTube going from band-to-band. One of the things I love is the use of medieval and traditional instruments in hard-driving music. This past week I ran into Sventoyar, a Ukrainian folk metal band who has a person routinely playing the hammered dulcimer. It will come as no surprise to many that amongst my friends in the SCA is a professional hammered dulcimer player.
Since I teased him that Sventoyar might have supplanted him as my favorite musical act with a hammered dulcimer, this week my spotlight is on Vince Conaway. He’s a fantastic musician, and one of the great parts of Gulf Wars to me was working in Drix’s shop when he was playing nearby.

Anyway, you can find his stuff at: http://www.vinceconaway.com/.
Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Rob’s Update: Recovering

Week of 5 – 12 February

Greetings all

Sorry for not getting an update out last week. On the trip to Birka I came down with an awful cold, plus food poisoning on the drive back, and the overall trip was 4000 miles in 12 days so it was exhausting enough as it was.

I’m really glad I went on the trip, though sales at Birka were not enough to justify attending again. However, I had a good time and might consider it next year simply because I enjoyed the trip. The swing from ChattaCon to Maryland to Birka and back was a good one, though I need to contemplate taking longer than two days on the drive back, especially since the weather was generally pretty good on the drive and I can’t always expect that to be the case.

This past week I’ve spent mostly in Wichita with my mom helping out after dad’s passing. Because of her preparation, it’s been fairly easy, but it’s been nice to spend time with her.

Somewhere along the way though, my mind finally kicked back into gear and I know have the missing piece to make Where Now the Rider the way I want it. Now, I just have to find the time to finish it, which will be in the next few weeks I hope, but if not, probably April because I have most of March on the road. However, because of missing deadlines with my editor, I don’t have a good schedule right now because I’m not her only client and I have lost my spot for the moment. We’ll deal with it, though, and as soon as I get that to her, I’ll be continuing on with the sequel to I Am a Wondrous Thing.

Quote of the Week
What an ending to the Super Bowl. First overtime in Super Bowl history, biggest collapse in the playoffs ever, and a fifth ring for Brady. Hard to argue he’s the best of all time, though I might still make a case for a few others.

It’s hard to be a Falcons fan right now, because that was an awful loss that will never stop hurting. In the category of bad losses, the other end of the spectrum also involved a team from Atlanta, though in this case Georgia Tech won. In 1916 they played Cumberland College. Here’s a tough question. Which is worse? Losing like the Falcons did, or getting beat 222-0 (yes, 222-0) like Cumberland did.

My favorite quote from the game comes from the halftime speech of Georgia Tech coach John Heisman (yes, that Heisman). Just to note, the score at halftime was 126-0.

“You’re doing all right, team, we’re ahead. But you just can’t tell what those Cumberland players have up their sleeves. They may spring a surprise. Be alert, men! Hit ’em clean, but hit ’em hard!”

– John Heisman

Yeah, some surprise, they held Georgia Tech to only 96 points in the second half.

News and Works in Progress

  • Where Now the Rider

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Been a slow week, I’ll have more next week

Upcoming Events

  • 3-5 March: CoastCon, Biloxi, MS
  • 12-20 March: Gulf Wars, Lumberton, MS
  • 28-30 April: Planet Comicon, Kansas City, MO

Spotlight

One of the pleasures of Birka was sharing a table with Dexter Herron, another self-published author. I got his book Shard’s Thugs, which is epic fantasy from the perspective of goblins. I enjoyed it quite a bit. You can find his work here at: https://www.amazon.com/Dexter-C.-Herron/e/B00BRX1HP6/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1486681553&sr=8-1

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works

Weekly Update Archive

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Rob’s Update: Loved and Lost

Week of 15-21 January

Greetings all

  • Tomorrow I’ll be heading out towards Chattanooga for ChattaCon. Here’s my schedule for the weekend. As you can, it’s an interesting set of panels. Going to be a lot of fun.
  • Friday 5pm in Finley
    Writer’s Workshop – What Gives Characters Depth? Writing the well-rounded character.
  • Saturday 11am in Classroom B
    Special Interest- Is “Moana” Disney’s Lord of the Rings?
  • Saturday 4pm in the Dealer Lobby
    Author Meet and Sign
  • Saturday 5pm in Finley
    No Camelot’s, Shires or Hogwarts Here!
  • Saturday 7pm in Classroom B
    Gaslighting in the 21st Century
  • Sunday 10am in Finley
    Special Interest – Futuristic Variations on the Locked Room Mystery
  • Sunday 1pm in Classroom B
    Special Interest Panel – The Power of Storytelling

Quote of the Week

Well, this past Sunday was a frustrating day for me. If you didn’t watch the game, let me tell you that the Cowboys-Packers game was one that will be shown over and over. It’s an instant classic. Sadly, the Packers won, basically because Aaron Rodgers is playing quarterback as well as anyone ever has right now. I’m proud of the Cowboys though, they got down 21-3 early but clawed their way back into it and I’m convinced that if the game had gone into overtime they would have won it. It was not to be. I was crushed, as I always am when the Cowboys are out of contention for the Super Bowl.

Some friends of mine who don’t get sports ask my why I get so invested in sports. Each season is so likely to end in sadness, after all. In the NFL, only 1 of 32 teams lifts the Lombardi Trophy each year. That’s 3.125% chance each year. The Cowboys went into the playoffs as the best team in the NFC and had less than a 25% chance of winning it all according to Football Outsiders. And they were a great team. Sports is filled with heartache.

But when your team wins, as I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a number of times in my life, there’s a feeling that you just can’t describe. I often trot out Wallace Stevens “death is the mother of beauty” quote when I’m talking about character lifespan. In a sense, every year’s disappointment makes those years when one of your teams wins it all priceless.

Though usually used for love and romantic relationships, this week’s quote is just as valid for a sports fan. It is the answer to those who wonder.

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

– Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “In Memoriam A.H.H.”

News and Works in Progress

Where Now the Rider is getting there. I’m fighting some balancing and timing questions, as I’m trying to weave a couple of different threads. I’m pushing my writing skills in the sense that this is a more complex puzzle than either of the ones in A Lake Most Deep and The Eyes of a Doll and I want to get it right.

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

  • – 22 January: ChattaCon, Chattanooga, TN
  • – 27-28 January: Market Day in Birka, Manchester, NH
  • – 3-5 March: CoastCon, Biloxi, MS
  • – 12-20 March: Gulf Wars, Lumberton, MS
  • – 28-30 April: Planet Comicon, Kansas City, MO

Spotlight

One of the people I get to sit on panels this weekend is Stephanie Osborn. She’s a real life rocket scientist who is also an author. I especially enjoy her Sherlock Holmes Misplaced Detective series. You can find her work at:

https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Osborn/e/B0026DM46M/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1484720511&sr=8-2

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works

Weekly Update Archive

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels
www.robhowell.org

NFL Playoff Prediction

Greetings all

Last week, I did a large NFL playoff prediction on Blogging the Boys, a Dallas Cowboys blog. I meant to link it here but forgot.

http://www.bloggingtheboys.com/2017/1/4/14169844/rhodris-2112-pack-2016-playoff-edition

Me forgetting to post this is symptomatic of me pushing through a busy holiday season. I’ll be getting more posts out, including some follow-ups to this one as the NFL playoffs continue.

Thanksgiving

Greetings all

It’s much easier to focus on what’s wrong and not what’s right about something. To let perfect be the enemy of the good.

Thanksgiving is a perfect example. I’ve seen people complaining for years about how it’s just a time for gluttony, an insult to Native Americans, and it leads into all the greed of Black Friday. There’s some truth to all of these and other complaints.

But there’s so much to appreciate about Thanksgiving that is forgotten when focusing on such things. It’s a time for many people to enjoy spending time with family.

Gluttony yes, but also an opportunity to make great food and share it with friends.

It’s also a great day for football. I personally really appreciate it.

I know there are those who love Black Friday in the way a hunter loves the opening day of deer season. Not my thing, but I’m happy for people who enjoy it.

More importantly, Thanksgiving prompts all of us to think about our lives. Cliche though the idea is, it’s a great thing to simply think about what we’re all thankful for. If you don’t do that now, I hope you do that at some point. It will make you happier.

So here are some things I’m thankful for.

My parents. I’m especially thankful my mother has survived breast cancer and that it looks my dad will survive his cancer for many years.

My sweetie. I’ve a great sweetie who puts up with me, despite my abilities to dig myself into a hole by being mouthy. She rocks. She even loved that went I went to see Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood last December that I had them pose with no one in between them so I could caption it as a picture of her with them.

My kitty. She’s a really nice cat who needs more love than I can really give her at times, but she’s still always there purring when I fall asleep.

My job. Writing is hard, but I love it. I’m not successful enough financially at this yet, but I keep plugging away.

Brewbakers. This is a bar in Lenexa that lets me sit here for hours writing and doing my job. In some ways, it feels like my office. Tonya and the rest take good care of me.

My readers. I’m very thankful for those who’ve made it clear that as long as I keep plugging away and doing my best they’ll read my stuff. The most important one in many ways is Cedar Sanderson, who has twice been there with nice things to say at exactly the time I needed nice things the most.

A myriad of *things*. By things, I mean my car, my house, my computer, my scrolls, my books, and all the rest of my stuff. I’m wealthy indeed when it comes to that and I’m thankful for all of it.

Rush. It’s really hard to express how important Rush’s music is to me. It’s been there when I’ve needed it ever since 1980. It’s inspired me many times.

My other favorite artists, authors, and performers. Too long to list, but I’ve admired a lot of great stuff over the years. In 2016, my new passion is Tengger Cavalry, which is Mongolian folk metal.

The Dallas Cowboys. I’m not saying that because they’re doing so well this year, but because they’ve given me a lifetime of great moments, even if some of those moments were some of the saddest in my life. Really, I could just say football. Or frankly, sports.

The SCA. The SCA continually gives me great opportunities to grow. Whether it’s as a person, or a public speaker, a poet, or all the other things, I am much stronger. Also, some of the best friends I’ve ever met.

My friends. Very lucky here, especially as I’m a guy who’s never really been anything but socially awkward. I do better now, but it’s never been easy. Thanks for staying when I’ve screwed up.

There’s so much more, but that’s a fine list. I don’t know about you but seeing it laid out like that makes me much happier.

I often quote Wallace Stevens, “death is the mother of beauty.” The universe gives us bad things that we dwell upon, but that makes all of the good things so much brighter.

Oh, one last thing.

Thanks to all of you for reading this.