Thanksgiving 2016

Black Friday. Small Business Saturday. Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday.

Worn-out Wednesday. (Okay, I might have made that one up.)

It’s a lot to take in, isn’t it? Yet sometimes the banality of life’s daily routine can shock us out of our paralysis.

Even in a year which I will be glad to see the end of, I have more than enough to be thankful for, and I am. I hold those things in my heart when I could easily rail against the unfairness of the world, the moral decrepitude of society, the crumbling state of…well, basically lots of things, including our environment, both literal and figurative.

I had been hoping to make this post on Facebook on November 9th:

30 Days of Gratitude: I’m standing here, with my daughter, in a field of broken glass, staring at the beautiful sky. There is no limit.

But that’s not a post I had the opportunity to make, no matter how many days, weeks, months, years I’d been looking forward to its being a reality.

I reminded my students, when they came to me that day seeking guidance, that culture is not always top-down. It also radiates outward from each person’s choices. It rises from the ground up when we lay its foundation through our actions and voices.

Our school adheres to four core values: honesty, respect, responsibility, and kindness. And even when we don’t see these values modeled for us in the public sphere — and oh, my goodness, we don’t see them there nearly enough — we have the ability to be honest and respectful and responsible and kind. We have countless opportunities every day to choose to adhere to those values, and we must.

If we treat others in every daily interaction, be it in person or online, with those four values, and if we do it consistently, then we can and will change the toxic culture around us.

It will radiate outward.

It will rise from the ground up.

It will shatter what holds us down.

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Prayer of Thanksgiving

Thank you for our many, many blessings:
good health, good friendship, the love of those we hold dear;
the ability to provide for ourselves (may we always have it),
and the opportunity and responsibility to care for others;
the enlightened perspective to know when all is not right
and the desire to leave the world better than how we found it.

 

Help us always to remember our blessings,
to appreciate and be grateful for them,
to enjoy them,
but most of all, to deserve the good fortune laid at our feet.

 

Help us to feel and to understand our gratitude.
Help us to make the world a more sustainable,
more respectful, more loving and peaceful place.
Help us to save ourselves and be always better than we are.

 

Blessed be.

FINIS.

So it has been quite a busy time over here! If you’ve been following along on my social media you know that this coming week is a very big deal for me. My first ebook, Finis., is coming out — it goes live on Tuesday!

 

cover design by Lauren Volness
cover design by Lauren Volness

 

You can already pre-order it at Smashwords by clicking on this link here. Smashwords also has free samples available if you want to give it a test drive first. Finis. will be available at Amazon this week, too, and I’ll be sending another post with the link once it goes live there.

 

UPDATE 8/6/14:  Finis. is now live and on sale!  🙂  Get it from Smashwords or Amazon by clicking the links on their names. It’s just $3.99!

 

This post contains some information about the ebook and the launch party, advance praise for Finis., and (saving the best for last) some very important thank-yous.

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First, if you don’t have a Kindle or Nook or other e-reader, never fear: you can still get this ebook! Download the Kindle reading app for free from Amazon, and you can turn any Apple, Android, or Windows device into an e-reader. I’ve done this with my laptop, and it works quite nicely (though I’ve been told that sometimes formatting doesn’t load quite as well with the app as with an actual e-reading device).

In case you’re going to be in Houston on Sunday, August 10th: we’re having a Finis. launch party at The Black Labrador in The Churchill Room. Come on by! Be sure to order yummy food and drink while you’re there; The Black Lab may have the best pub menu in town (because it’s also an excellent restaurant). I’ll be giving a short reading at 4:30 and again at 5:15 for those who come later and miss the first one. Copies of The Milk of Female Kindness — An Anthology of Honest Motherhood (which contains some of my poems and essays) will be available for sale there. (Look for more information on that later this week.)

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Here is some advance praise for Finis.:

“It’s not often I get that viscerally emotional on behalf of a fictional character. In a setting of overt fantasy, Angélique Jamail has created some of the most real people I’ve encountered via text in a long time.” — Ari Marmell (author of Hot Lead, Cold Iron)

“A silver vein of irony runs through Angélique Jamail’s fantastic Finis. It is a witty tale of conformity, prejudice, and transformation, in a world that is disturbing as much for its familiarity as for its strangeness. In a place where everyone is different, Elsa is the wrong kind of different, and that means facing pity, discrimination, danger, and sharp teeth. Dive into this story, readers, and confront them for yourself; it may just change the way you feel about things…” — Marie Marshall (author of The Everywhen Angels)

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Now, of course there are acknowledgements in the ebook itself of people who were an integral part of the process of making Finis. a real live book. I could never hope to list everyone who has supported me in such a short space, though, and here I want to take a moment to acknowledge a few people who have been just wonderful.

I’ll start with my editor Jayne Pillemer, whose insight is so sharp, and whose confidence in me and in Finis. has been sustaining.

Thank you to Russ Linton, author of Crimson Son, whose guidance through the self-publishing process has been invaluable. If you’re thinking about going this route, check out his blog, where he discusses at length his journey on this path, and his interview here on my blog about it and other interesting things.

When I was at my wits’ end trying to figure out how to manipulate the files for Amazon and Smashwords, I lucked into hiring Jesse Gordon as the formatter. I could not have made a better choice. His response time was quick, his expertise was thorough, and he handled my quirky combination of perfectionist and techno-luddite with grace and aplomb. He has my highest recommendation.

The gorgeous cover design for Finis. was created entirely by Lauren Volness, photographer and graphic designer extraordinaire. I also owe a debt of gratitude to Kara Masharani for being the fantastic and enthusiastic model.

Finally, I want to thank David Jón Fuller for the occasional lunchtime chat when I needed to be talked down from the proverbial editing ledge. Every writer needs friends like that.

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This week will be busier than usual here at Sappho’s Torque as we gear up for the launch festivities. Stay tuned for more exciting information as it becomes available! All the best, and thank you so much for your support.

Prayer at Thanksgiving

Help us to be truly thankful for our many blessings,
including the ability to provide for ourselves
and the wisdom to recognize that ability.

Help us always to remember and appreciate and
enjoy our blessings, but most of all,
help us always to deserve them.

Help us to be generous with those who have less.

We are thankful for our friends, whom we have chosen
to be in our lives.
We are thankful for our family, whom we did not choose
but love anyway.

We are thankful for the earth and the sky,
for the flowers and the rivers,
for the trees and the squirrels gamboling in the yard.

We are thankful,
we are thankful,
we are thankful.