Thanksgiving has got to be one of my favorite times of year. Not just because it's a holiday, not because I got free turkey (we actually ate pork, not turkey), not because I got to buy a ton of books for less than $10 (due to Black Friday sales), but because we got to make the long trip to visit my little old grandmother in Indiana! I got to hang out with my amazing, out-of-college cousins, play Boggle, drink caffeine-free Mountain Dew (yes, it exists), talk about video games and awesome books with my brothers and said cousins, and just overall have a good time. Doesn't sound that great? You weren't there! It was awesome!
What's a real shame is that throughout the day and the days surrounding it, I forgot to celebrate the holiday itself. I could tell a history lesson and inform you all of the story behind Thanksgiving, but you should just look it up yourself.
Now, a basic tradition of Thanksgiving is to... be thankful for things. I'd completely forgotten about this (hey, I was having fun!), so now, two days later, I will recall and be thankful for many things. I am aware that I most likely missed many people, and I apologize. It took me an entire afternoon to write this article.
I am thankful for my parents, Dave and Andrea. You've cared for me as little parents do. Though sometimes I feel like you've over-protected my life, I am very thankful that you raised me as you did. When I become the writer I want to be (that's a when, not an if), I will always be thinking of you. Thank you for my life.
I am thankful for my amazing brothers, Michael and Christian. As with all siblings, we were rivals and ultimate enemies when we were younger. We used to do a lot of crazy things together. And looking back, we did some pretty messed up things as well. But hey, we matured with time. Considering our age differences, we would never have been friends if we had not lived with each other our entire lives. But now we're here... and I love you guys as if you were my brothers. That sounds ridiculous, considering you are my brothers. :D I would not be where I am if not for your encouragement, helpfulness and abuse throughout my life. ;)
I am thankful for my grandmother on my father's side, Dorthy. I am impressed how you have continued your life after Grandpa died. I know you are much older and wiser than I am now, but I believe if I were married and my spouse died I would not be able to carry on as you did. I know it can often get lonely living by yourself, but you will always have people praying for you. I love you, Grandma!
I am also thankful for my mom's parents, Harry and Elaine Gerber. You've lived nearby for nearly my entire life and therefore have had a more direct relationship with me. We're very different, because hey, we're from different generations, but I still love you very, very much. You're amazing. :) I also hear that you had a large hand in helping to get me a ticket to The Ragged Edge back in August, and I will forever be thankful for that. I still owe you a discussion of how that went, and I think it's been long enough that I'd be willing to talk about it. For now, however, let us just say that it was a life-changing event. :)
I am thankful for my school friends and teachers. You lit a lamp in my life, and though I don't always feel like I fit in (don't worry, it doesn't happen very often), I'm always thankful for the friends I made at Crossroads last year and this year, along with those whom I already knew. Phillip "Flip" Horning, Tyler Ludtke, Eric "Ewok" Larson, Morgan "Rhombus" Cole", Katelyn Cole, Maggie Siebert, Miranda Jones, Sydney Jones, Emily Efnor, Melissa Cook, Thomas "Thermos" Cook, Elizabeth Henrickson, Shannon Geary, Braden "Colby Jack" Mallery, Jeffrey "G-Fry" Scott, of course my brother Michael again, and then Garrett Mazzotana and Dallas Duckworth, who had to transfer out but didn't really want to. Also a thanks to Mrs. Horst, Mrs. Jones, and everyone else who helped this school become what it is. It was quite the plot twist in my life, one that I wasn't looking forward to at first, but now I completely love it. Oh, and also: Long live Geometry!
I am thankful for my best friend, Justin Fisher. I hope you don't ever mind the fact that I call you that. After all, I can get pretty annoying at times. But anyway, thanks for continuing to be my friend throughout the years. If not for you, I dunno, I may have never even played an Xbox before. *shudders* Oh, and by the way, we totally need another rematch on Conquest sometime!
I am thankful for Zachary and Jacob Pratt. Though we don't get together much anymore, you guys were amazing friends when I was younger. You had a lot of influence in my early life. I'm debatably still in my early life, but you know what I mean. Thanks for being amazing friends.
I'm thankful for Evan Morgan and Gavin Pierce—you guys are like brothers to me! The fact that I "knew" Evan for so long before the Share the Love campaign is just annoying, considering how great friends we have become. Thanks so much for founding Commandos with Shari and me! Oh, and Gavin, I'm going to totally pwn you in Mario Kart someday when we meet in person! >:)
I'm thankful for Taylor Bomar! We didn't get off to a good start. I don't even know why we didn't like each other so much at first, but I'm glad we moved on and become great friends. I have never read anything that you have written in any detail, but trust me, you will go far, my friend. I have great faith in you. What was the name of that book you were writing that I never really paid attention to? Love Always Ends in Tragedy? I have no idea what it's about, but I just have to say, I've always loved the name! Good luck on your adventures, man!
I'm thankful for... Adam Bolander! You have come a long way, and I pray every night that you can get your novel published. When I read through it I kept thinking, "Yes, this needs more editing and proof reading, but what publisher would be able to resist this novel!?" I think if an agent or publisher actually took the time to read Saloli, they would realize that it's a masterpiece, and is (dare I say it?) bestseller potential. If it never gets off the ground, if it's never accepted by an agent or publisher, then my heart will crush along with yours. Not only are you an amazing writer, but you are an amazing friend. Sure you sometimes act like a madman (probably all geniuses can be madmen at times O.o), and you're definitely on the wrong side of the 3DS-PS Vita debate (*winks*), but you're an amazing person. I can't wait to read Saloli 2!
I'm thankful for those certain three girls from North Carolina. You know who I'm talking about. ^.^ Victoria Walcott, Tori Wallace and Kalee Hassell. You guys are awesome. I don't know why, but I always seem to have a great time talking with you guys! Sometimes I want to pack up and move to North Carolina just so we can hang out. I know, it's pretty random, but it's true. Haha, the things that go through my mind. :D
I'm thankful for Ashley and Adam Procko—or should I said, Saviin and Cabur Cyare. :) I haven't really formally congratulated you guys yet, but I love you both more than you can know. Okay, I take that back, you can know how much I love you. But it's still a lot! Thanks so much for being there when I'm down or depressed, and thanks for just being the epic people that you are. If teleportation technology had been available, there's nothing I would've liked more than to attend your wedding.
I'm also thankful for my "sisters" Samantha Gendi and Sarah Swain (or Sarad Cyare and Mirdala Cyare, if you wish). Sam, yes, we've had our differences and annoyances towards each other, but you're truly awesome. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise! Sarah, always remember, I'm your protector against evil! *pulls out sword, then dies of laughter*
I'm thankful for Sarah Newman, the person whom which we always agree to disagree. We really don't have much in common, but hey, that in itself makes for great conversation! Oh, and by the way, you're faaaaaar too much of a Whedon fan. :P Love ya!
I'm thankful for Shari Hughes, for getting together with Evan and me and creating Commandos of the Forest Guard, which led to Authors for Elyon. I don't even remember who's idea it was, but it changed all of our lives. :)
I'm thankful for Josh Olds! You're amazing, man, and I think it's awesome that you got to write The Blood Book with Ted and Kevin. We never really continued that conversation about maturity, but I have to say: you're wrong. I believed you at first, but the more I prayed and thought about it, I realized it wasn't true. Message me sometime if you want to talk about it. Oh, and on a side note: write and publish your own book! It would be amazing!
I'm thankful for Brandon Blackwood. I bet when you went to The Ragged Edge you didn't find the exact audience you expected. I could say the same to any of the other younger attendees that weren't already a part of our group. I'm glad you stuck with us all afterward: you're a great friend and a talented writer.
I'm thankful for Tyler Carrington, my cameraman at The Ragged Edge. Sorry for dragging you around everywhere, but at least we had fun, right? Your writing will take you far, my friend. I can't wait to see your counterpart's adventures in print!
I'm thankful for Donna Marie Adams McChristian! I would shorten it to just your first and last names, as I've done with everyone else, but I freaking love your name! Donna, you're amazing. I love you so much, and I'm so glad I got to meet you! Though you're not around much anymore, you were a bright star at the creation of our amazing writing groups. Thank you. :)
I'm thankful for my buddy David Klein, who introduced me to many awesome bands such as Blind Guardian and Van Canto. You and Rachel are the Lord of the Rings geeks in AfE, and that often made for awesome conversation. You're awesome, man. Thanks for being my friend.
I'm thankful to all of the members of Authors for Elyon or Ragged Blue Monkeys that I may have missed. Yes, I know there were many, but if I took the time to write them all out, it would take me all day to write this blog post (and it did anyway...)! Don't worry, though, I'm thinking about each and every one of you!
Moving on, I am thankful for my fiancé, Ashley House! *winks* You know, if we're going to get married, we have to get around to arranging that wedding. . . . Haha, but all joking aside, you're awesome, Ash. Thanks for confronting me when I'm depressed and need confrontation, and thanks for just being a great friend. You and Eva have added an extra spark of interest into my life. :) Love ya!
I'm thankful for Eva Ping. Why... why... why do you have to be so smart? You always make me feel so dumb with all your smart-head talk and huge vocabulary! How are you even still in high school? You're like... wow, you need to write a book or something. All that knowledge needs to have some outlet! Heheh, thanks for being a great friend, Eva, even if you're sometimes an idiot about it. :P Love ya.
I'm thankful for Stephen Scott. Man, you are amazing. When I first knew you, I had no idea how awesome you really were. Thanks for being my friend over the past couple years. I'm sorry about the recent turn of events at your church, but in the end I know it'll all work out. I love you, man. Good luck!
I'm thankful for Ben Lamoreux. We haven't really talked in person for several years, but you're a pretty awesome online friend. Good luck with your future, whatever it may be! Oh, and we still need to face off in Mario Kart sometime. :D
I'm thankful for Brian and Mary Atwell. You're an amazing couple and I love chatting with you. I'm glad you were chosen to come to our church because, frankly, I can't imagine anyone doing a better job than you guys. You have some unique perspectives—often ones that I had not considered before—and just overall you guys are awesome.
I'm thankful for Diane Murphy. Can you believe it? I can't even remember how we met anymore! I just know that since then we've become great friends. Thanks for being yet another star in a formerly black sky. :)
I'm thankful for Ted Dekker! If not for you, man, I would never have gotten into reading quality fiction. Though now I have moved on to other authors and genres, I always read your new books when they come out as a reminder to my early days of reading good novels. We have many, many differences in our opinions, but you're just a different person in general. It's what makes you awesome. It's what makes us all awesome.
I'm thankful for Erin Healy, one of the coolest authors and editors I know. You have made me smile many times, and I always love hearing back from you when I email you. You are the person who initially got me interested in editing. Though I now have no idea if I will choose that as a career in addition to my writing, it opened my mind to many new ideas. Thank you, Erin!
I'm thankful for Tosca Lee, the sweetest writer I have ever met, along with Robert Liparulo, Eric Wilson and Kevin Kaiser, who have got to be three of the coolest writers I have ever met. You all are extremely intelligent and full of wisdom. You all have lent a hand in inspiring me, and I hope to meet each of you guys again someday.
I'm thankful to Steven James, who has shown me what a story that flows is truly like. No other novels have taken hold of me like yours have. I believe you are one of the greatest thriller writers of all time. I generally dislike super tall people, but you're an exception. :D You have inspired me like few have, my friend. Thank you.
I'm thankful for my three favorite songwriters of all time, John Petrucci, Mike Portnoy and Matt Smith. You guys have strongly inspired me in life and writing, and I forever thank you. I would love to meet any of you someday.
I'm thankful for Daniel and Rachelle Rediger. You're amazing, and I hope you succeed in your goal. I loved getting to meet you guys, even if the pictures didn't turn out. Rock on, and write on. :)
I'm thankful, regretfully, for the trolls who took my life and burned it. Out of the ashes grew another life, similar but changed. If not for your insults and abuse, if not for the dozens of times I've broken down because of you, if not for the pure hatred that you have spurred, I would not be the person I am today. I have never been able to figure out if that is a good thing or a bad thing. But regardless, I am who I am now.
Last but not least, I am thankful to the man who helped me rise from those ashes, built my bridge when all hope was lost, signed his name on my painting of disgrace, sang to me as a young child, and stood up for the truth—his truth—when the world worshiped a lie. Forever you will be my King.