stuff for what I’m thankful

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While the history of Thanksgiving is one filled with nonsense, and based on assumptions about the British settlers in New England and the local Natives that have proven to be mostly bullshit, the actual holiday is a generally noble thing: pausing to reflect and give thanks for things, plus also time to spend with family, whether blood or chosen or both.

This particular Thanksgiving has been unique for me because I spent it with my wife in a foreign country where it was pretty much just Thursday. (Having said that, the stores do Black Friday here, an “event” whose sole reason for existence is because many folks have the day after Thanksgiving off, a uniquely American thing, yet the transmogrification of that into Black Friday is now a worldwide phenomenon. Everyone calls it “Black Friday,” mind you, even if English isn’t their primary language. It’s like Cinco de Mayo. But I digress……..)

And because we’re vacationing in Italy, my Thanksgiving day post is going up on Black Friday instead, because I’ve been too busy relaxing and having fun and enjoying our Tuscan getaway to write the traditional giving-thanks blog post on the day itself.

So anyhow, as I sit here on a train that is taking us from Firenze back to Roma (though I’m actually posting it in our hotel room in Roma, as the train wifi in Italy is not great), here’s some of the stuff for what I’m thankful:

First, the obvious: my wife, Wrenn Simms, with whom I am now finishing the niftiest vacation ever. We spend a ridiculous amount of time together, since we both work from home, and we just spent 2.5 weeks gadding about Italy. We’re still not sick of each other, we still love being with each other, and we still love each other. This trip has been a delight, as we both love a lot of the same things (museums, wandering around, shopping, drinking copious amounts of cappuccino, drinking an equally copious amount of wine, eating superlative food, etc.).

Second, my family, both blood and chosen: The Forebearance, the Godmommy, Meredith, Matt, Anneliese, Sas, David, Lilly, Alex & the brood, and all the aunts, uncles, and cousins.

My dear friends, too numerous to list, but basically everyone we invite to our house for our parties (you know who you are) and with whom we spend as much time as we can, even if it’s not as much time as we’d like.

My karate family, which is manifold and glorious. We start with the adults at our Honbu (headquarters) in the Bronx, with whom I train and spar. Then there’s the kids whom I teach and encourage and whose progress always fills me with pride and joy. Then there’s the kids I teach in my afterschool programs, who always keep me on my toes. Then there’s our sister dojos in South Africa, Japan, Chile, and right here in Italy. The Italian dojo in particular has shown me and Wrenn tremendous hospitality and love during this trip, including a lovely day trip to San Gimignano and Volterra, a Saturday-night wander around Firenze, several delicious meals (including a fun celebration in honor of Kyoshi Filippo’s twenty-fifth anniversary as a karateka), not to mention three wonderful classes at the dojo (and also getting to help teach a kids class). In addition, I have several friends who study other martial arts styles who are all part of a friendly, wonderful, supportive community. Being a martial artist has enriched my life and my health in so many ways. I expected the improved physical health; I’m continually surprised and grateful for the mental health, the friendships, the camaraderie.

My readers, without whom my writing career would be much less impressive. I’m especially grateful for the constant feedback one can get in the twenty-first century, what with blogs, e-mail, Goodreads, Amazon, social media, etc. Sure, it’s not always positive feedback, but all feedback is useful to some degree or other. And this year in particular I’ve been enjoying seeing people discovering older works of mine for the first time.

The fine folks at Tor.com, including the wonderful staff and the even more wonderful readers. The site is one of the most vital sources of pop-culture commentary around, and I’m honored to be a part of it. The conversations on my own writings—whether the superhero movie rewatch, the Star Trek Discovery reviews, or the reviews of Marvel’s Netflix series—have been cogent and friendly and non-acrimonious, a rare beast on the interwebs.

My Patreon supporters, who have given me a method of continuing to write TV and movie reviews that don’t fit in with Tor.com’s mission statement (or which someone else is writing about for them), and whose support helps keep the lights on and the bills paid.

Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Mike McPhail, and Greg Schauer, the wonderful people at eSpec Books, who took over the publication of the “Precinct” series, reissuing Dragon Precinct, Unicorn Precinct, Goblin Precinct, Gryphon Precinct, and Tales from Dragon Precinct, as well as signing me up for four more books: the just-completed Mermaid Precinct, as well as the novels Phoenix Precinct and Manticore Precinct and another collection, imaginatively titled More Tales from Dragon Precinct. They also reissued Without a License, and we’re talking about doing a second collection. I’m so happy to see my longest-running original series have a happy new home. And Danielle challenging me to come up with two new novels has actually proven to be a wonderful prompt for new stories about the Cliff’s End Castle Guard.

Speaking of that, huge thanks to the folks who supported “The Fall of Iaron,” another story set in Flingaria, but not featuring the Castle Guard. It’s encouraging me to do more stories outside the norm in this fantasy world of mine.

My three biggest projects this year were finishing A Furnace Sealed, the first book in my urban fantasy series about a nice Jewish boy from the Bronx who hunts monsters, and writing the novels Alien: Isolation and Mermaid Precinct. All three books will be out in early 2019. I am extremely thankful to Kevin J. Anderson, Marie Whittaker, and D.J. Butler at WordFire Press, Steve Saffel at Titan Books, Steve Tzirlin at 20th Century Fox, and the aforementioned eSpec folks for all their work in shepherding these three novels through.

My agent Lucienne Diver, who remains the best ever, as well as her wonderful husband and daughter. Lucienne and Pete and Abby were dear friends before Lucienne was my agent, and they remain dear friends all these years later. I wouldn’t want anyone else representing me.

I’m extremely grateful to Chris Metzen, the former story coordinator at Blizzard Games, with whom I worked closely on my World of Warcraft and StarCraft fiction a decade ago. Chris was the one who recommended me for a game tie-in (the one that sent me out to L.A. back in May), which is proving to be a phenomenal project that I’m having a blast working on. Can’t wait to be able to talk about it. I will, however, thank the folks involved in that project, in California, Vancouver, and Korea, who have been fabulous to work with.

All the conventions that have had me as guests this year. Some were new conventions that invited me directly for the first time (e.g., ConGlomeration). Some were the regular conventions I attend every year (e.g., Dragon Con). And some were done under the auspices of Bard’s Tower (e.g., Planet Comic-Con). All of them have been amazing, giving me the opportunity to spend time with friends, with readers, and with colleagues. Huge thanks to all the con organizers, and to Alexi Vandenberg and Erika Kula Marter at Bard’s Tower for getting me out into the world.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (who run the four zoos and one aquarium in New York City), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (who also run the Cloisters), the New York Botanical Garden, and the American Museum of Natural History, all places we’re members of, which enables us to visit them any time we need a sanity day. The glorious displays of art and nature at those locations never fails to renew and replenish us.

Thanks to everyone who reads this blog, and who follows me on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram, for reading my inane ramblings. And thanks to anyone I might have forgotten, as I’m sure I did, because there are a lot of people who make my life awesome, and it’s far too easy for me to lose track of them.

Happy (day after) Thanksgiving!

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