Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Day After the Day After

It's been a while since I've posted anything political, but I’ve had a day to reflect on the election, and, well, here we go:

Unity. I see so many calls for “unity,” mostly from the winning side. Principally, I agree with them. One of the beautiful things about our country is the peaceful transfer of power from one party to another. But unification isn’t made any easier when the call goes something like “you lost, fair and square, now get back in line (or leave the country).” I’ve got a theory on something that might help with the unity thing, though, and that’s empathy. I’m grateful for those of you who have attempted to empathize with the pain and anguish that some of us feel. I would sincerely love, and appreciate, seeing more of that. Saying things like “I see how this has been a rough campaign, I know the winning candidate said and did some awful things, and I can’t imagine how hurtful that must have been, and how hurtful it is now that he will actually be our president,” could go a long way. I truly believe that. Same goes for the losing side: if some of my liberal friends would seek to understand the emotions, concerns, and feelings behind those who voted for the President-elect, it could only help. Honestly, I can’t think of anything that would help unify us more than seeking to understand one another.

To be clear, I’m not talking about anyone changing their beliefs or ideas. I’m not even talking about compromise. Empathy isn’t a meet-in-the-middle sort of thing; it’s a temporary journey to see something from another perspective. Sometimes, sure, that journey can make you want to change your position. But, more often than not--and as quickly as you like--you can return to where you feel comfortable, but hopefully having become more open and understanding in the process.

Stereotypes and generalizations are the enemies of empathy. They obstruct our ability to relate to one another, to acknowledge the humanity in all of us. I’ve seen liberal friends, in their anger and despair, post scathing rebukes of all conservatives or all of those who voted for the President-elect, and I don’t think that’s right. One of my own posts, while not intended to target any specific group, was nevertheless emotionally charged and generalizing, and I’ve since deleted it because it only engendered divisive comments. On the other side, I’ve seen many of my conservative friends post condemnations of “liberal logic” or complaints about how all of their liberal friends have only been posting angry attacks on conservatives. It seems clear that these generalizations--that “all those who voted for the President-elect are racist,” for example, or that “all liberals think in a fundamentally flawed way”--cannot possibly be true. Please, everyone, let’s stop with the generalizing. That is only harmful, and it hurts our ability to empathize.

For my part, I’ve been seeking to understand those who may have voted for our President-elect, and believe it or not, I think I’ve been making some progress.

I can understand, on some level, those who voted for him just because he was the Republican nominee, and Republican ideals still reflected most accurately their own, and they considered a third-party vote wasted. I can understand that.

I can understand, on some level, those who voted for him simply because they did not want HRC in the White House. While I, quite clearly, would not have minded HRC in the White House, I can acknowledge that she was a very flawed candidate, and certainly not my first choice from the Democratic Party. I can understand simply not wanting her in office.

I can understand, on some level, those who voted for him out of fear--fear of an imbalanced Supreme Court, fear of a liberal agenda, fear of losing aspects of their nation that they value highly. I’ve felt that same fear (although probably for different reasons), and can understand it.

I can understand, on some level, those who voted for him out of anger. I acknowledge there is an entire class of people in our country who feel they have been marginalized, who feel their voices have been forgotten, and are absolutely done with it. I can understand wanting to throw the now-proverbial molotov cocktail into our political structure in the hopes that something better will rise from the ashes.

I’m sure there are many other reasons why people voted for the President-elect, reasons I don’t yet understand--and some, perhaps, I never will--but I think, for the most part, it’s worth the effort.

In my ongoing efforts to understand, I haven’t changed my mind much. I still disagree, on many levels, with those who voted for the President-elect. But, again, that’s one of the wonderful thing about empathy: I don’t have to change my views to try to understand someone else’s.

Now let’s look at the other side of things. There are people hurting right now. Many of them are liberals. Many are conservatives who voted for a third-party candidate. Some of them even voted for the President-elect. There is a lot of pain going around, and it does no good to criticize it, marginalize it, or sweep it under the rug. We should talk about it, why it’s there, and figure out how to ease it, make it better.

As for the why: Please acknowledge that racism and misogyny played significant roles in this campaign. Please acknowledge that hurtful things were said and done--by both sides, I’ll absolutely admit it, and corruption still worms its way through our political structure like a cancer--but chiefly, and most publicly, by the President-elect. Acknowledge the fear that those targeted by his language must feel. I mentioned above an entire class of people who feel they have been marginalized, and hopefully now their voices will be heard--but please don’t forget about the many groups of people who were marginalized further (“further” because many of them have been discriminated against for centuries already) by the President-elect’s rhetoric. Please, don’t dismiss your brothers and sisters who are hurting. You may not have similar views, but express your desire to stand up for them. To protect them. To make sure that their voices are heard, too. We can champion our own causes while standing up for the rights of those that oppose us. We can hold to our values while empathizing with the views of those opposite us. That's the unity we’re seeking, I think. Not a unity of ideals, but a oneness of compassion and humanity.

I hope the President-elect proves those of us who are hurt, frightened, and numbed by his election wrong. I hope his presidency is wildly different from his campaign in all of the best ways. But, whatever the President-elect’s actions--even, and especially, if our worst fears come true--it’s up to us to stand up for one another. Both sides of the isle. All religions. All races. All genders. We are the people. We all are the people.

Let’s not forget it.

Monday, October 31, 2016

DUSKFALL Reading, Q&A, and Signing in Portland!

Next stop on the Duskfall book tour is Powell's in Portland, OR! They'll be hosting a Duskfall event at their downtown location (1005W Burnside St.) on Wednesday, 23 November @ 7:30 PM! 

I'll be doing a reading, a brief Q&A, and a signing at the event. There'll be books, swag, cool folks, and overall an awesome time being had by all (or so I predict). Come one, come everyone!

EDITED (20.11.2016): Updated location to Powell's City of Books in downtown Portland instead of the Powell's location in Beaverton.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

World Fantasy 2016

I'll be at the World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, OH next week.

World Fantasy always seems a different animal than some of the other conventions I've attended. It has a more intimate feel; they usually cap the attending memberships at around 1000, I believe.

This year I'll have the pleasure of participating on a couple panels (see schedule below)! I'm very much looking forward to that, and if you're one of the folks attending, come say hello. I don't know as many people going to this con as I usually do, so I'll be looking for new friends :-).

Friday 28 October at 1PM (Delaware CD): Fantasy Emerging from Crisis
Are there trends in fiction that can be tied to global crises? E.g., certain kinds of fantasy emerged from the instability that led up to WWI. The Lord of the Rings is a clear response to the Great War. Are there directions we can anticipate with near-future environmental conflicts (water wars), destabilizing natural disasters, rising seas, income inequality issues, etc. perhaps leading to more political works (especially considering the popularity of Game of Thrones)? 9/11 produced Lavie Tidhar’s World Fantasy Award winning Osama and also inspired stories by Lucius Shepard, Richard Bowes, Jack Ketchum, and others. Fantasy inevitably arises from the zeitgeist. It can also come right out of the headlines.

Saturday 29 October at 5PM (Delaware CD): How George R.R. Martin Has Changed Fantasy
Will imaginary-world fantasy ever be the same? A whole generation has grown up reading A Song of Ice and Fire. As Martin’s epic fantasy comes to a conclusion, where will those readers turn next? ASoIaF is rife with strong female characters, both good and evil, disabled characters with real power, and lack of security around the characters they love. What kinds of stories should we be writing for those fans? What is the long-term influence likely to be, beyond the obvious cash-ins and knock-offs? Great works inspire real growth. What should we anticipate?

Sigur Rós

So, this happened a couple weeks ago:

It was breathtaking and phenomenal.

Basically: if you haven't heard of Sigur Rós, you need to go listen to them right now. I suggest starting with Ágaetis byrjun, but really any one of their albums is a great listen. Fun fact, by the way: Sigur Rós produces some of my favorite writing music. Honestly, though, my favorite way to listen to them is in the dark, lights out, headphones turned up--the way beautiful, powerful music deserves to be consumed.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


The most common complaint I hear about Duskfall criticizes the lack of a map in the US/UK editions.

First of all, I'm quite content with the fact that the #1 complaint about my first book is something that was largely out of my control. (If I could've dictated everything about the publication of Duskfall, of COURSE it would've had a map; it would've also had a hardcover edition, and a collector's edition, and a platinum-plated "edition" edition where the text of the book was made up of little diamonds embedded in the metal. What I'm getting at, here, is that it's probably a good thing I wasn't in charge. Also, it's my first published novel for crying out loud--I'm just ecstatic to see it on shelves, to see that it has a beautiful cover, and to see people reading it and reviewing it and talking about it. All that is pretty amazing stuff, you know.)

Ahem. Anyway.

Secondly, the wonderful irony is that my German publisher actually did decide to put a map in their edition of the book--and I love how the map turned out. The artist responsible (Andreas Hancock--you can check out his webpage here, although it's in German, so good luck) was kind enough to allow me to post the image on my webpage for all of my US/UK fans.

So, without further ado, and with great pleasure, I present Roden and Northern Khale, the small portion of the Sfaera in which Duskfall takes place:

Most of the proper noun names are quite similar to, if not exactly the same as, the english version, so I don't think you'll have much trouble figuring out which city is which, etc. That said, the legend in the top left corner is obviously in german, so I'll provide a little legend for that legend. I won't try to write out the german words because I don't even think I could transcribe them correctly; the words below correspond with the words in the legend, going from top to bottom.

Legend legend:

  • forest
  • mountains
  • lakes
  • rivers
  • roads
  • small cities/towns
  • large cities
  • capital cities
So there you have it, folks! A real, genuine, official map! I hope that helps everyone's reading of the book.

* Wait. They don't love you like I love you.

See also:

Kindle Daily Deal RESULTS

So, as I mentioned last weekend, Duskfall was a Kindle Daily Deal on Amazon--and the results were pretty fantastic.

Duskfall peaked at #3 in Epic Fantasy,

#1 in BOTH Dark Fantasy categories (!!!!!!!),

and #213 overall in the Kindle store, which is pretty awesome (I mean, that's out of, like, millions of books).

So I'm quite happy with the results for the Kindle Deal--I hope everyone who purchased Duskfall enjoys it--and spreads the word :-)!

Friday, October 07, 2016

Kindle Daily Deal!

Hey folks! Duskfall is today's Kindle Daily Deal!

That means you can get my novel for just $1.99 on Kindle. Usually it's, like, FIVE TIMES more expensive, so if you or someone you know have been on the fence about whether or not to read an awesome dark epic fantasy novel about assassins, magic-addicted elves, religious upheaval, and kick-ass vampires, this should totally win you over.

Tell your kids! Tell your wife! Tell everyone you know!