Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Updates for Jerks

Were you to compare my blog to a movie right now, it would be like I Am Legend: one man wandering through a forgotten wasteland whose demons lurk in the darkness as deer and wildlife prosper in the ruins of its former greatness.  Also, there’s an angry guy wearing a fedora in the back complaining that the book was better.

That is to say: hello.  I have not posted here in awhile.

Part of that is due to my hurrying like a madman to finish The Mortal Tally, the next book in the Bring Down Heaven trilogy.  It’s going pretty great.  I have just finished the Kataria versus Karnerians fight, if that tantalizes you at all (spoiler: it involves a bag of tarantulas.)

Another part of that is me getting ready for the print release of The City Stained Red next week!
Sykes_TheCityStainedRed-TP (2)

As you may remember, we’ll be throwing a book launch party at the Poisoned Pen in downtown Scottsdale next Saturday, January 31st at 2 PM!

But wait.  There’s more.

This particular booksigning will feature special guest Nika Harper!


If you’re not familiar with Nika’s vlog Wordplay, I highly advise checking it out.  This lady knows a thing or two about writing.

And if you’re not familiar with Nika’s books, I highly advise coming to the Poisoned Pen on Saturday, where she’ll have some to impart unto your face area.

Basically, I am promising you a good time.  I might even bring you cookies.


See you Saturday!

The City Stained Red Launch Party!

If you are in, around or near Scottsdale, Arizona (and by near, I mean like maybe within 1000 miles), I want you to clear your goddamn calendars because I’m having a launch party, motherfuggas!

January 31st, at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore, I will be signing copies of The City Stained Red, which will be out in print.

The Poisoned Pen is my absolute favorite independent bookstore.  They have been exceedingly good to me throughout my career and I am absolutely thrilled that I’ll be able to launch my best book yet within their hallowed walls.  Copies will be available for purchase and you can bring me absolutely anything to sign: comics, other books, infants, what have you.


Where: The Poisoned Pen Bookstore

4014 N Goldwater Blvd #101

Scottsdale, AZ 85251

When: January 31st, Saturday

2:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Why: Because I’ll freaking beat you with a dead marmot if you don’t come.

See you there, everybody!

Speakers of the Claus

Ho ho ho there, friends!

The holiday season is upon us and people are doubtless busy buying presents, wrapping presents, putting presents under the tree and drinking excessive amounts of eggnog to drown out the little voice in the back of their head that shrieks “why so much material wealth, why so many presents, this was supposed to be about family, why am I so alone.”

And I don’t want to distract from that too much, so I’ve just got a few short (but important) announcements to make!


And they are awesome.

Like, I got so many amazing entries this time that it’s genuinely hard to make up my mind.  I will be spending a lot of time in deliberation over who gets the coveted scented candle, but I hope to have all entries spoken a little after Christmas.

And speaking of Christmas…


What does that have to do with Christmas?  Well, to be frank, if you wanted to get a gift for yourself, your opportunity to do so is quickly running out!

Right now, The City Stained Red in eBook format is only $1.99 because I love you.  But that won’t last much longer.  Around the time the print version debuts, the price will be returning to normal because I need to eat.  So, if you’re looking for a good reason to buy it, there you go.

You can find buy links on the right hand side of my front page (or any page on this site, really).  We’ve made it exceptionally easy for you to go buying stuff, so you should go buy it!

In addition, the buy links will also lead you to places you can pre-order the print version, if you’re so inclined!

I’ve been getting a lot of great feedback from fans so far, so I hope you will continue to enjoy it!

Have a happy holiday and try not to be eaten by snow yetis!


Your Mother Rolls Natural 20s

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but have you ever read Zen Pencils?

Created by Gavin Aung Than, it’s a pretty inoffensive inspirational comic that revolves around artistic interpretations of words of wisdom touted by people who are well-known enough to get artistic interpretations made about them.  Most of the time, I don’t really mind the comic because they all have a singular message that forms the foundation of their creations.  And I usually agree with that message: art takes work, art takes sacrifice, art takes support.  That’s all true, all encouraged and all for the better.

Beyond a few questionable strips and a peculiar statement toward the hilarious Dril Pencils, Zen Pencils is pretty inoffensive.  And this blog post is not intended to criticize Zen Pencils or even talk about it beyond a paragraph or more.  The only reason I bring it up is this.

Set over the course of four strips or so, it details the effect of criticism on the artist.  I’m not quite so sure I agree.

I mean, I understand where the strip is coming from.  It’s hard to be an artist or writer these days where the essential nature of the internet means you are closer than ever to your critics and anonymous dickwipes can and will easily use that closeness to try and hurt you.  And given that creative works are, by their definition, something deeply personal, it’s incredibly easy to see how any criticism might be taken as a personal insult.

After all, very few artists create something they don’t feel strongly about on some level.  And when people criticize, derogate or demean that, it usually feels like they’re attacking those feelings.  Hence, I’m not often surprised when authors get personal or irritated or outright weepy when they get bad reviews.

Seriously.  I got a shitty review that basically made me inert for three weeks or so.  We all have that one review that just punched us straight in the nards.  In the bars at conventions, huddled around high top tables with around three to six glasses on the table with just a few flecks of foam at the bottom, we talk about them often.

Everyone eventually finds a way to cope with criticism.

I’m usually content to leave it there, but the reason I bring this strip up is the same reason I’m bringing up this next article.  You probably read about a prominent author who sought out and confronted an online critic in real life.  It was all over the twitters for a bit.  If you missed it, you can find a pretty apt summary here.  But I won’t go into that any more than I did Zen Pencils.  I bring up both for a singular reason.

We seem to be moving toward a rather unhealthy way of interacting with criticism.

This, too, is not a huge surprise.  The internet is generally extremely personable these days, with everyone getting very excited over every thing and every thing that happens is an instant scandal that demands the attentions of the known world (or at least, the attentions of 10-200 retweets).  So it’s hardly amazing that a personal product criticized in an environment where things are personal should be taken so personally.

But I’m not sure viewing criticism as a hostile force is the best way for authors to improve.

And rest assured, improvement should be at the very fore of your mind if you’re an author.

You should always be striving to improve.  You should be consuming media en masse to improve: books and movies and books and games and books and comics and books and books and books.  You should be identifying parts of your writing you aren’t happy with and parts of your writing that aren’t landing with your audience and parts of your writing that just don’t work and improving them.

And that means dealing with criticism.  Sometimes even embracing it.

I could say “grow thicker skin,” but that’s always been a bit of a psychotic statement to offer a writer.  You need thin skin to channel the emotions and to relate to people on the intimate level necessary to write characters well.  Hence, what I want to offer you is three facts about criticism that you can use to learn to use it to your advantage.

1. You don’t have to read it.

I don’t know a lot of authors who do read their own reviews, in fact.  At the beginning, everyone does it and every point cuts knife-deep.  You fume and anger over the unfairness of this author who clearly doesn’t understand your book and how their false review is going to sink sales.

Generally, bad reviews don’t sink sales.  If that were true, Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight wouldn’t be the phenomena they are.  Bad word of mouth can certainly sink sales.  But surprisingly, the worlds of reviews and word of mouth rarely seem to cross over.  Certainly, some reviewers build up communities around their critiques, but they don’t always translate into sales.

When someone hears a well-reasoned, rational critique from an educated voice that says “don’t buy this,” and their friend who says “dude, you have to buy this,” they will always listen to their friend.

The critique is not done for your sake.  Sometimes it’s for the reader’s sake, sometimes it’s for the critic’s sake, sometimes it’s for an audience.  You miss out on absolutely nothing by not looking at it.

Some critiques can be very helpful.  One critique of Tome of the Undergates took issue with the various crude sexual threats uttered by the Cragsmen.  I found that extremely helpful because I ultimately agreed with the critic.  I found them harder to justify as they were just ugly for ugliness’ sake, a biproduct of an edgier age.

But it had been years since I got over those first initial reviews and I was more prepared to handle harsh words about my work.  If you’re ever in doubt, err on the side of not looking.

2. Criticism is, ultimately, a force for good.

Possibly the most important thing to do when approaching criticism is to take it in the right mindset.  When you’re just starting out, it’s easy to be offended and reject it all out of hurt.  When you’re old and jaded, it’s easy to be weary and reject it all out of boredom.

But when reviewing, it helps to take a moment to realize what you’re looking for.

Consider what you wanted to accomplish in your story; if the review suggests you accomplished that, you can ignore it if they didn’t like it.  Consider what you’re concerned about; if the review touches on that, then maybe you have an identified problem.  Consider that you might be criticized for things you didn’t anticipate; if the review brings up things that you never even thought of, these are worth looking at.

3. Control is always in your hand.

The personal nature of a creative work and the personal responses we’ve discussed can sometimes make it seem like criticisms are demands: letters from magazines cut up and pasted to form a message and mailed to you with a polaroid of your book tied to a chair.  But rest assured, this is never the case.

As a work is personal, so is a criticism.  The critic will always be coming from their own experiences and points of view.  You can’t plan for that and you shouldn’t try.  Hence, when a critic criticizes a deliberate choice you made as a mistake, you are free to reject that.  You are free to reject any criticism, really.  There is wisdom in paying attention to people who are all saying the same thing, of course, but ultimately all control over the creation rests with you.

And this is the “zen” of this blog, if you will: you can only control the book.

You can’t control the reviewers; if they like it, then good, if not, then okay.  You can’t control the audience; if they reject it, then you must think of something else.  You can’t control the publishing industry; it’s basically like a cat who wallows in scotch.  You can’t control any of the thousands of other things out there that will affect your book.

You can only ever write the very best book you can.

And you should always be striving to do exactly that.

The City Stained Red is OUT!

I really should have put up this up sooner, but I’ve been dreadfully busy.  In humble apology, there will be a picture of a cat somewhere on this blog post.

Now, as for the actual content?

YES!  The City Stained Red, Book One of Bring Down Heaven is now available in eBook!B1B3NoQIgAAkEql



And you might have also noticed that The City Stained Red is available for a meager $1.99!

It won’t stay that way forever, of course.  But for the span of the next month or so, this book will be about as cheap as it can get until the print version is out in January of next year.  You would, honestly, be foolish and perhaps a little dense not to buy it.

You can find buy links all over my site, but if you need convincing, there are a few (and a handy excerpt of the book) HERE.


If you buy the book now, please Click on This Page and be entered to win an EXCLUSIVE SIGNED COMIC written by me and illustrated by Ashley Cope!  Wow!

And finally, if you are a supporter of mine, I would immensely appreciate it if you would follow this link to my Thunderclap Campaign.  It’s a mere link that will express your support for the book and I will be forever grateful to you for helping out.

Thank you so much, guys!  I hope to hear from you soon if you enjoyed it!

As promised, here is your cat.


Fan Art Contest!

I’m not going to lie: I’m kind of a sucker for art and gratification, in equal measure.  For that reason, it’s been a long-standing tradition of mine to announce fan art contests periodically.

And since The City Stained Red will be debuting soon, now seemed like a perfect time TO DO EXACTLY THAT.


1. Submit a visual representation (illustration, cosplay, whatever you feel) of your favorite part from The Aeons’ Gate series or anything else I’ve worked on

2. Send it to me via the Contact Form here.

3. Make sure it gets in before Thanksgiving of 2014!

4. Eat your vegetables.

5. That’s it!


photo (1)

Runner Up Prizes: All entrants will receive Four (4) (IV) signed bookplates!  You can stick ‘em in your books and that will be my signature!  You could ostensibly have something by Hemingway signed by me!  I don’t judge.

Second Place Prizes (3): Four Bookplates and a signed copy of Flesh and Blood, Steel and Gold, the comic prelude to The City Stained Red as illustrated by the fabulous Ashley Cope.

First Place (1): A signed ARC of The City Stained Red, a copy of the comic and four bookplates!  Hooray!


Ideally, the deadline to this will be Thanksgiving 2014, but I’m pretty lenient.  If you’ve got something brilliant that needs more time, just pop it in the email around then.  I’m sure I’ll find it and reward you handsomely.

This is one of my favorite things to do.  I love that my readers are always intensely creative and I love that I can resonate enough with them to inspire them to NEW HEIGHTS of majesty.  I eagerly look forward to what you guys can come up with.

Now, go forth and rock my sensibilities.

New York Comicon 2014!

I swear to heebus, I meant to have this up earlier, but a fearsome bout of pancreatitis kept me out of action.

But now that I’m all cleared up, I can tell you that SAM SYKES WILL BE AT NEW YORK COMIC CON!


oh jesus I was not prepared for this eventuality please god tell me where I can find Sam Sykes

I have one panel while I’m there!

Playing With Magic

Friday 10/10/14

1:15-2:00 PM

Location: 1A01

Magic is central to fantasy, whether it takes place in our world or on one completely foreign.  How does using magic affect storytelling?

Speakers: AM Dellamonica, Ilona Andrews, Gordon Andrews, Kim Harrison, George Hagel, Sam Sykes

But, if you can’t make it to that panel, you might be able to find me at the Hachette Book Group Booth, which is Booth #2218!

good lord that sounds amazing please go on tell me what else is happening

If you come to the Hachette Book Group booth and ask for one, my excellent publicists will be happy to give you a copy of Flesh and Blood, Steel and Gold, my new comic and excerpt of the upcoming The City Stained Red!





If you can’t make NYCC, but are in the area (or if you just can’t get enough Sam Sykes), please attend the Coffee With Authors post-NYCC event starring Myke Cole, Peter V. Brett, Robin Hobb, Simon R. Green, Naomi Novik and ME!

Robin has a good rundown of the event on her blog here and there’s another good one at Suvudu, but here are the basics.

  • To attend: send an RSVP email to with the subject line RSVP!
  • The event is at Random House, 1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019
  • Show up any time between 11 am and 1 pm




Sexy Destroyers of the Future

Featured image used with permission by Aerlyn’s Costumes and Designs!

So, if you’re at all into comics, you’ve probably seen this.

Denise Dorman, wife of Dave Dorman, recently illuminated a problem that’s been talked about for ages and has now been coming to a head: Comicon doesn’t seem to be about comics anymore.  She goes on to list a number of artists, none of whom have made any money from attending several shows, and then attempts to explain exactly what might be the cause of that.

Her explanations are a bit…hm.

I have slowly come realize that in this selfie-obsessed, Instagram Era, cosplay is the new focus of these conventions–seeing and being seen, like some giant masquerade party. Conventions are no longer shows about commerce, product launches, and celebrating the people who created this genre in the first place. I’ve seen it first-hand – the uber-famous artist who traveled all of the way from Japan, sitting at Comic-Con, drawing as no one even paid attention to him, while the cosplayers held up floor traffic and fans surround the cosplayers–rather than the famed industry household name – to pose for selfies.

As an ardent fan of cosplay, selfies and youth culture in general, I’m going to have to disagree with this.

And while it does come close–dangerously close, in fact–to being the sort of statement that is accompanied by a shaking cane and a number of directives toward kids about their placement relative to a lawn, I think it’d be foolish and disingenuous to write off her concerns as mere angry ranting.  Because, as she points out, she is hardly alone in the observation of this.

Many artists, I’ve learned, have found it harder and harder to justify going to Comicon.  While I’m certainly thrilled to see them there (I bought four prints from Todd Lockwood this year and felt pretty damn good about myself), I can’t support them all by myself.  It eventually becomes a cost-benefit analysis and a lot of people are finding the costs outweighing the benefits.

The question therefore becomes: are big cons, with all their media attention and all their giant populations, a viable source of income?

I can’t answer from an artist’s perspective.  Nor a comic writer’s perspective.

But I can tell you from an author’s perspective that the answer is a definite yes.

As people who are also trying to make a living from our own creative work, we have a similar problem and whenever we meet up at a convention, we always ask the question of whether it’s worth it or not and whether small, local conventions tend to be better than giant comicons for an author.  But we diverge shortly after that.

Unlike artists, an author’s takeaway from a convention might be intangible.  You certainly might sell some books at a convention (or, more likely, the bookseller will sell your books, which is still a big benefit to you), but the major takeaway is developing readers: making a positive enough impact to guarantee someone will be looking for your books every time a new one comes out.  That can be hard to gauge, of course; sometimes you see sales spike after a convention, sometimes it takes a long time to notice anything.  But, having attended a number of small cons and large cons, I have noticed something.

Fandom has split into two categories.

I’m very supportive of small cons.  I think they’re great.  I think people who run them are awesome and the people who enjoy them are tremendous.  But they don’t make a lot of business sense.  The crowds tend to know what they like and prefer to keep reading that, proving amazingly resistant to new authors.  Whenever I’m speaking on a panel, I can see the audience’s eyes glaze over as they wait for me to be done so they can ask a question of the author that they really came to see.  And that’s the downside of a small con: people are rarely there to see you, you just happen to be in the same space as other guests.  This can prove great, at times, and I’ve made a number of lifelong readers from small cons, but they’re hard to get to and difficult to justify.  There’s a big benefit to solidifying fans if you’re already a big name that they came to see, but if you’re a debut or newer author, it’s hard to get into.

Big cons, however, have a marked difference in tone.  People who come to a massive, mixed media con are open to just about anything.  You have gamers rubbing shoulders with art-lovers, comic geeks walking side-by-side along novel fans, tabletop roleplayers interacting with movie nerds, MMO players and, yes, even cosplayers.  All of these are potential readers and damn near all of them are open to the idea of new authors.  These cons are marked by a general enthusiasm for nerdiness and geekiness that’s easy to tap into if you know how.

And Jim Zub went into this in detail on twitter.

I agree with him wholly on this.  Unless you’ve got a big name to carry you, you can’t really rely on sitting down and expecting people to seek you out.  You need to make an impression on people.  You need to be open, thoughtful and, above all, enthusiastic.  You need to reflect the excitement that these potential fans are feeling.

Cosplay is just an extension of that enthusiasm–one that someone felt strongly enough about to go through the effort of making an entire costume for.  But it’s everywhere: people come to a big con to be shown something cool.  If you act as though you are that something, then things get easier.

It’s really not that different from social media, which darn near every publisher wants their authors on these days.  People want to come to see you, see you be glorious, see you be brilliant, see you be awesome.  They want to see your work, too, but as a costume is a statement about the cosplayer, so are you a statement about your work and you want to be able to reflect that.

Now, my hands kind of quivered when I typed that, because every time I make a statement that says “you need to be friendly and outgoing if you want to make it as a new author,” someone who identifies as a militant introvert will swoop in and scream “that’s not true!  You’re not doomed if you’re shy or reclusive!”

And that’s true.  You could have a lot of publisher support backing your newest book that negates the need for you to market yourself.  You could have one of those books that’s just lightning in a bottle and everyone inexplicably wants it.  You don’t need to be outgoing for these.

But considering how rare those are, you can’t bank on them.  And even if you’ve got them, you’d be screwing yourself if you weren’t also good with talking to people.

I know we’re all in love with the idea of the reclusive writerly genius, puffing cigarettes and drinking coffee as they type away on a typewriter, so deep in the throes of wordsmithing that the mail piles up and the goldfish is dead and the spouse has left because, damn it, the work is more important than people.  But times have changed.  I’ve got rent to pay, motherfuckers.

No one’s asking you to be eloquent, merely to be enthusiastic.  Believe in your work enough to make others want to also believe in it.  Believe that you are great and worth buying.  Believe that your audience wants to see you be great.  Believe that you are worth it.

You can work on the actual talking to people once you’ve got that down.

But for now, it’s my ardent belief that big cons are the best way to get noticed as a new author.  Sharing that enthusiasm, being excited about your own stuff, making that impression upon readers, is what it’s all about.

I dearly hope that the same can be said for artists, in the future.

UPDATE: Denise Dorman has clarified her views in an additional blog post, shifting blame to a “new breed of attendees.”

And while I continue to share her concerns, I remain opposed.  The “new breed” is the only way new authors can get any traction in this world.

Red Nooses in Tight Circles

This week is Banned Books Week, seven days in which we celebrate the essential freedom to read.  I’d never given it much thought before.  Not until my publisher at Orbit sent me an email and asked if there was anything I’d like to do for Banned Books Week.

I promise I had something more funny than this in mind.

I originally was going to see if I could convince some local police to take a picture with me, looking on impotently as I read a formerly banned book with savage glee.  When I realized that cops terrify me, I had planned to gather as many books as I could and make a fortress of freedom out of them.  When I realized how expensive that was going to be, I thought maybe I’d just take some selfies with banned books and call it a day.

I took only one.



It wasn’t that great.

I had originally planned on just letting this week pass by with no particular contribution to me save that I was making a token effort toward the celebration.  It wasn’t as though Orbit had held a gun to my head, after all.  And there were other things to be doing: I need to finish The Mortal Tally (Book Two in Bring Down Heaven), I need to prepare for The City Stained Red’s eBook launch next month, I need to get ready for New York Comicon.  I was pretty content to take freedom for granted and not do much of anything.

Then I logged onto twitter.

As I tend to follow passionate people, I saw quite a bit of it on display.  Sometimes, that passion turned venomous: people screaming at each other, wishing death upon each other, trying their best to get each other to shut up, generally acting quite vicious.  Being the social opossum I am, I managed to steer clear of it, but as I figuratively lay on my back, feigning death and waiting for the scavengers to move on, I realized something.

I’m scared to death of censorship.

This is something of a blessing, however convoluted that may seem.  I’m certainly not immune to other tragedies such as being murdered, robbed, beaten or raped.  I could get into a car crash, be stabbed to death in an alley, develop an incurable disease.  I’m in a place in the world and the society that lives in it where I can usually live free of these worries.  Not everyone can.  So while these disasters might happen to me, they’re not likely to.

Is me being censored any more likely, then?

Maybe not.

I can’t imagine any religious groups getting angry at me and burning my book, despite that it’s full of demons (that’d kind of rock if they did, though).  Nor can I really foresee an event in which the American government would decide that my book is a threat to the nation and forbid it (again, this would only increase my allure).  It’s a little more likely that I’d say something that would anger someone and they’d start doing everything in their power to get me off the shelves, but that’s not likely to go further than twitter and it’d probably be forgotten the moment someone else said something worse.

So why am I so terrified of censorship if it’s not that likely to happen to me?

Because, put plainly, censorship hurts everyone.

It hurts the person whose art is stifled and whose expression is silenced, certainly.  But it also hurts the person who succumbed to their fear and sought its censure to begin with.  But most importantly, it hurts everyone: everyone who was refused the right to judge for themselves, everyone who was refused the right to have the discussion, everyone who was refused the right to agree or disagree, everyone who was instantly robbed of a voice.  A work, however abhorrent, is gone and we have lost the ability to speak because we embraced fear.

And fear is at the heart of everything.

I believe that all fiction, maybe all writing, is an exploration of which is the more powerful human emotion: love or fear.

Censorship is a triumph of fear over love.

This fear that spawns censorship takes a variety of shapes.  Many powerful people throughout history ear that a work might threaten someone’s influence or position in the world they live in and wanted it banned.  Many parents succumbed to the fear that a work might negatively influence or alter their children and wanted it banned.  Society at large lives with the constant fear that a work might introduce an idea that spurs someone to dangerous action and may ban something out of that.

But all these shapes of fear have a root cause: the fear of pain.

That is, after all, what the most common fear is, isn’t it?  And it’s hard to blame people for being afraid of pain.  None of us enjoy pain, be it mental or physical, and pain is never far from our thoughts.  We’re hardwired to want to avoid it at all costs.

It’s my personal belief that pain is necessary for growth.  Pain is what lets you know that things are happening.  And just as your bones ache as you grow taller or your muscles are sore after working out, an idea that causes you pain is an idea that you eventually learn your response to and grow as a person.

The pain of loss is a reminder of how much you loved what you lost.  The pain of betrayal is a testament to your capacity to trust someone.  The pain you feel when someone else is hurting is the proof of your empathy and ability to love someone else more than yourself.  None of these things mean anything without the ability to feel pain, sometimes even the willingness to feel pain.

Ideas cause us pain.

They do everyday.

About a month ago, I put a hole in my wall.  I clenched my fist, swung it out and smashed a hole in the drywall just above my shoulder (don’t get any ideas about my ferocity; the drywall was very cheap).  The reason I did this was because I read something in an online forum that made me incredibly angry.  It was a vicious, hateful thing that made me genuinely upset.  It made me angry and I damaged my house.  I did this all the time when I was younger.  I do it much less these days and I was embarrassed to have done it this time.

I regret doing it.  I regret letting my emotions get out of control.  I regret giving into fear.  But I don’t regret feeling pain at it.  And I would have regretted taking actions to try and silence the statement.

But why, then, would I feel that way at such a terrible message?

I wouldn’t have been rid of that statement or the idea that caused it.  I wouldn’t have defeated it or banished it or come to terms with it and buried it.  I would have put it in a closet and waited for it to come back out some day.  I would have silenced it, knowing it could hurt me, and lived in fear of the day it would come back and hurt me again.  And each time, my ability to deal with it would be called into question.

Some may think I’m suggesting we never say anything bad, ever.  Some may think I’m suggesting we let hatred run wild and never confront it.  I think it’s plain to see that I’m not a fan of fear and as I believe all hatred descends from fear, I’m very much for confronting these sorts of things.  But the answer to that confrontation is freedom.

We have the freedom to confront ideas.  We have the freedom to criticize them.  We have the freedom to reject them and we have the freedom to dismiss them from our presence, if we must.  But we cannot justify using freedom to deny freedom.  We must let idiots speak.  We must let wounds bleed.  We must let the hatred and the agony and the panic in someone’s words make themselves known.  We do not always have to listen, but we cannot demand them be silent.

What we do, in its stead, is present a new idea.

We are writers.  Nothing is real to us until we put them into words on paper (or on a blank white screen, anyway).  This is how we confront our fears.  When we silence, when we censor, we give into those fears.  We devote ourselves to that fear, rather than to expression.

Censorship is a triumph of fear.  It is sometimes understandable why someone might give into that fear.  It is sometimes understandable that the exhilaration that comes from temporary release of fear and pain can be liberating.  It is sometimes understandable that people who feel powerless may find comfort in exerting some amount of control.

But these are fleeting.  And nothing compared to the lingering shadow of fear that will haunt us when these things we try to silence come back to us.  And they will.

I suppose this blog post is me confronting my own fear.  For in writing this, I am afraid.

I’m afraid of retribution for what I’m writing here.  I’m afraid of being ignored entirely and merely screaming into a void.  I’m afraid that these words will hurt someone else.  I’m afraid that someone will want to hurt me over these words.

But this, too, is a fear I could not live with.  This is a fear whose specter would always be at the corner of my eye and just over my shoulder, a constant reminder that I had given into it and it only had to wait until it could come back and test me again.  I would still be afraid, but I’d be safe.

And all it would cost me is just not writing.

Which is a fate unthinkable.

So I had to write this.

Do not give into fear.  Do not let it triumph.  Do not seek to censor and harm yourself.  Do not seek to silence and harm others.

Do your best.  Never stop writing.  Never stop thinking.

Read dangerously.

Happy Banned Books Week.

Ape Fight

If you’ve read this blog in at least a passing capacity, you probably know that I like supporting various art projects.  I’m a huge fan of artists and I love supporting them with linkage from this blog where I can.

If you’ve been reading this blog in the past few months, you’ll know that I recently pimped Marc Simonetti’s Coverama.  Marc, who did my French covers among other covers for well-known fantasy artists, did a collection of all his covers.

And if you’ve taken my advice, you’re probably getting one of your copies of Coverama right now.  Like I have.



But if you didn’t, you missed out.  How badly did you miss out, you ask?

Well, you missed this.



And what is that, you may ask?  Let’s take a closer look.



Ape Fight.  Ape Fight!  APE FIGHT!  APE FIGHT!  APE FIGHT!

This is a scene from my fifth book, The Mortal Tally, coming out in 2015 featuring Lenk, Kataria and a shitton of apes.  Apes with shurken.  Apes with shuriken who are ridden by ape-men who throw spears.

Why did I write it?  Because it’s awesome.

Why did Marc draw it?  Same reason.

Why are we here?  All answers lead to Ape Fight.

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