Friday, February 29, 2008

Late Posts and School Visits

Sorry for the late post on these.  Explanation below.
Wabreaker HTML: Chapter Four
New Podcast (It went up Monday, but I forgot to link it here.)
New Annotation: The Well of Ascension Chapter Twenty-Six

I was lazy on Wednesday and didn't post these, thinking I could get to them on Thursday.  What I had forgotten was that I had a school visit on Thursday.  And it was an hour and a half away.

I'm still kind of split on this concept of school visits.  On one hand, I like interacting with the students.  I often wish that when I was younger, I'd had an author visit my school to explain that you COULD be a writer for a living and that it WAS a reasonable job that people have.  On the other hand, doing a visit like this one wipes out an entire day's worth of work and can be really grueling.  I did six presentations to six different groups of kids, then had a two hour signing later in the evening.  Mixed with an hour-and-a-half travel time to the school, it was quite the day's worth of work. 

Even factoring in the money the school paid to have me in, even factoring in the money I made at the signing, it really isn't worth my time to do this if you look just at the cash.  So, the question to me is, how useful is it for the students?  Can I help those who want to be writers realize their potential? 

Anyway, I'm back and working on WOT Book Seven (almost done, actually.)  I hope to be through Book Eight by the end of the weekend.  For those who have been wondering, I DO intend to read A NEW SPRING as part of this.  (I'm reading it after book 10, where it was originally released.)  I've also ordered copies of the audio-books to listen to, though I understand that some of their pronunciations are off. 

Monday, February 25, 2008

WOT: Lord of Chaos

I've now completed my re-read of the first six WoT books.  Perhaps it is my mind seeking organization where there is none, but I see these six books as having a rather interesting division.  The first three each focus around a central event--the hunt for the horn, for instance, or the fall of the Stone.  The second three change the direction of the series, moving to a much more complicated story.  Each of these three middle books seem to contain a much larger number of plots, goals, and character motivations.  These middle three, the second trilogy if you will, blend together far more than the first three did.  It's like they all form one large book, with the lines between them far more blurred. 

I'm not sure if this is the way Mr. Jordan plotted them, or if it's simply the way the series evolved.  Perhaps I'm just seeing something where there is none.  However, as a writer, this division interests me.  I find that as a reader, I am much more satisfied with reading these middle books, though I didn't by any means dislike the early ones.  A series this long could not have lasted by telling stories only about one or two characters.  Series that do such always feel like they have flat characterization to me.  You can only focus so long on one character before you have to begin recycling motivations or pushing their character development into the realm of the ridiculous.  By expanding the series beyond what it appeared at first--a simple hero's journey--Mr. Jordan created something more lasting. 

However, he also took a great risk in changing the series (either intentionally or by natural evolution) as he did.  A great many writers do the easy thing, telling the same story over and over with different names on the front, having the same few characters go through the exact same stories over and over.  That's comfortable for readers, but it does not challenge genre, and it is not the substance of greatness (in my opinion.)  Instead of doing that, Mr. Jordan took a chance on expanding the plots of dozens of side characters, crafting a series that was about much more than it seemed at first.  All three of these middle books blended together, but each one still felt distinct to me.  The story is moving, progressing, growing--and the characters are much different people at the end than they were at the beginning.

Perhaps I should focus more on what specifically happened in LORD OF CHAOS that I liked, but as the one who must--however insufficiently--continue Mr. Jordan's legacy, I find myself looking more at the whole than at the minutia.  That, of courses, is important as well.  But I think for me to be successful in completing this final book, I need to understand--really understand--what made this series great.  I might not be able to write the exact words Mr. Jordan would have, but if I can get the SOUL of the book right, then that will not matter. 

Anyway, as for Book Six, it was a powerful read.  Lews Therin was my favorite character of the book--his interactions with Rand are wonderful.  We are left wondering just how much is insanity and how much is another man's soul in Rand's head.  Each conversation gives us information about the setting, personality about rand, and tension for the plot as we wonder about his sanity.  Not to mention the occasional laugh at the exchanges, sorrow regarding Therin's tragedy, and a sense of mystery as Rand tries to find out just how much he can interact with Therin.  Masterfully done.

A second response comes with the ending.  It's sometimes easy to skip over this ending in light of the dramatic occurrences at the end of Book's two and three, and yet I found this to be one of the most tense of the entire series.  It was very well foreshadowed and marvelously executed.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Warbreaker + Annotation

Two quick updates:
New HTML Warbreaker Chapter
New Mistborn 2 annotation.  Note that as of this posting, the sidebar box that links to the New Annotations actually doesn't, but instead points to random blog entries.  We're not sure what's up there, but we're working on it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Elantris Hardcovers For Sale

Yesterday evening we added signed, personalized copies of ELANTRIS in hardcover to the store.  These work just like the MISTBORN ones I offered in January.  Also, if you missed yesterday's post because of the holiday, have a look.  I posted some interesting things.

The ELANTRIS hardcovers actually cost me a lot more than the MISTBORN ones, so I can't sell them quite as cheaply.  (Which feels odd, since ELANTRIS had a lower cover price than MISTBORN.)  Still, I am able to offer them at a couple of bucks off of cover price for now.  This will go up to $25 mid march.  I'm not sure how quickly these will sell, but I don't have nearly as many as I do of MISTBORN.  They should last until then, but I can't guarantee anything.  So, if you want an ELANTRIS hardcover, now is the time!

I'll post WARBREAKER and annotations tomorrow.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Podcast, New Art, MB3 Preorder, WoT: FIRES OF HEAVEN

Wow.  I've got a lot to post today.  Guess that's what I get for not blogging for four days.

First, a new Podcast is up over at Writing Excuses.  And, speaking of podcasts, I did an interview with Adventures in Sci Fi, which you can hear on their website.

LTUE was fun; much thanks to everyone who came to see me and who got their books signed.  Over the weekend, we also got initial cover art for the new MISTBORN: THE FINAL EMPIRE paperback which is coming out in June.  Click on it to get a much larger version.  And, if that weren't enough, Mistborn 3 just went up on Amazon for pre-order!  What a busy weekend.


Here are a few short responses to FIRES OF HEAVEN.  This isn't very long, I'm afraid.  I finished the book last week and am now much of the way through LORD OF CHAOS.  The demands of the convention, however, kept me from being able to do a response to book five until now.  (And forgive me if I spell any names wrong below.  I wrote this rather quickly.  I think I got them all right, but didn't have time to check them all.)

As I've said before, reading through the WHEEL OF TIME this time, now that I'm a writer, has been very interesting. It seems to me that this series--particularly staring with Books four and five--were always intended to be read straight through as one. Though there are climaxes in each book, I also get a sense that each ending isn't really the end and each beginning isn't really the beginning. (Which, of course, is part of the overarching theme of the series in the first place.)  I like how the books blend together, each having their own theme, but each also feeling like a continuation of what came before.

Book five has a lot of very interesting events. I'm curious how Egwene's character is changing, in particular, and I find myself empathizing with her less and less--but find myself liking Nynaeve and Elayne (not to mention Aviendha) quite a bit more. Nynaeve, in particular, is growing quite quickly as a character as she realizes she can't use hatred of Moiraine as a motivation, and shifts more toward her desires to heal and protect. It is interesting to me that Perrin disappears in this book, much as Rand disappeared in Book Three. The series really begins to expand here, moving more and more toward an exploration of a wide variety of characters.

Reading and expecting this to happen, I find myself very interested in what is happening with the "side" characters. I use quotes because if there's one thing this series has taught me, it's that there aren't really side characters and main characters in this series. It's about everyone. True, the ta'veren form the focus for what is happening to the others, but Siuan and Morgase's stories are in many ways as important to the pattern as those of Egwene and Elayne. My second favorite storyline in this one, actually, was indeed Siuan's story. We've had a lot of tales in this series about common people becoming important. It's nice to see that reversed and look at the lives of important people who are suddenly forced to become common.

My favorite storyline in this book, however, is Mat's.  He finally starts to shine.  Almost against his will, it seems--which makes it all the more interesting.  Those moments in the battle near the end where he keeps trying to escape, but ends up unable to abandon the soldiers were quite powerful and meaningful.  I find it interesting--as many others have noted--that the final fight between Mat and Couladin happens off-screen.  This seems an indication to me that Mr. Jordan felt that the affect of conflict upon the characters was more important than the conflict itself.  Getting to sit with Mat as he works through in his head what had just happened proved for a very interesting scene, and allowed us flashbacks to the fight with Couladin itself.  Obviously, this isn't a plot structure to use all of the time, but I felt that it was quite adeptly employed here. 

I'm eagerly awaiting the moment when the Wise Ones discover that Egwene isn't a full Aes Sedai. She needs to be brought down a notch or two. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

LTUE + Warbeaker +Annotations

First off, I'll be at Life the Universe and Everything this weekend. (That's  BYU's science fiction convention.)   I'll post my schedule below.  Know that I'll be doing a signing on Friday the 15th.  3.00 at the BYU bookstore, and everyone is invited, even if you're not attending the con.  (I'm pretty sure it will be in the bookstore.  If you don't find me there, ask around.)  As always, LTUE has free admittance to the public, and since both Orson Scott Card and Gail Carson Levine are going to be there, it should be quite the convention.  I should also have a few copies of the Mistborn and Elantris hardcovers for sale with me, if you wanted to grab one without having to pay the shipping.  Check the bookstore first, however, as they sometimes have remainder hardcovers they sell for six or seven bucks. (Though they do have a remainder mark, which mine don't.)

My Panel Schedule:
Thursday 10:00: Using history and folklore to enrich your world (M)
Thursday 4:30: Book Signing
Friday 9:00: Dialogue (M)
Friday 2:00: Realities of NY Publishing
Friday 5:00: Putting Romance in your Novel
Saturday 9;00: Researching unusual subjects
Saturday 10:00: LDS Beliefs & SF&F (M)

Also, as it's Wednesday, I've posted a new html chapter of WARBREAKER.  I've also posted a new annotation for Mistborn: The Well of Ascension

Thank you for all of your comments and responses to the bookplates idea.  I'll mull it over and let you know what I intend to do.  For now, I've got to focus on reading LORD OF CHAOS.  (I finished Book Five last night--I'll do a blog post on it tomorrow or Friday.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Elantris Hardcovers coming + Question

I just got in an order of ELANTRIS hardcovers, which I'll probably start selling signed and personalized through the website next week.  These cost me more than the MISTBORN ones, since it's been too long and I couldn't get them through Tor any more, but they aren't remainders and look pretty nice for books that have been shipped back and forth between bookstores for three years.

Keep an eye out for them.  At how much they cost, I'm not sure how much of a discount I'll be able to give them, but I'll at least knock a couple of bucks off for the first month like I did with Mistborn. 

In line with that, I've got a question for you all.  I want to offer signed bookplates (stickers you can stick in books you've already bought).  I figure that if you've already bought one of my books, you shouldn't have to order a brand new one to get a signature in it.  This offers me some problems, though. 

First off, I now have a large stock of books sitting in my garage, and I'd hate to have everyone end up getting bookplates instead leaving me with a ton of money I'll never recoup.  Secondly, I don't want to make the bookplates so cheap that I get orders for thousands of them, which I think I just might if I charged only the cost of a stamp (which was my first inclination.)  Thirdly, even signing a couple hundred bookplates a month would be time consuming enough that it would eat a little into my writing time.  All of that says that I should charge something to pay for the time it takes to personalize them and the cost of paying my assistant package, address, and send them. 

On the other hand, I feel like a total cad charging money for a little slip of paper with my signature on it. 

Therefore, I put the question to you.  What would be fair, in your minds, for something like this?  I've put some options below, but feel free to offer your own.  As always, you can post on my forums, my LJ (where you can post without an account), or you can just email me.  I read all comments and posts, even if I don't always have time to respond to them.

My thoughts:
$3 for one bookplate, signed and personalized however you want, shipping included.
$6 for up to four bookplates, signed and personalized, shipping included.
$3 for up to four bookplates, signed but NOT personalized, shipping included. 

What do you think?  Too much?  Too little?  Other suggestions?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Free Copy of Mistborn! + Podcast!

Folks!  I have two amazing bits of news today.  First off, Tor is launching a new website in a few months.  As an incentive to get people to sign up for their newsletter, they've decided to give away free ebooks.  There will be a different book offered each week until the website launches, and the first week's book is MISTBORN: THE FINAL EMPIRE.  Sign up once and you'll get a new email each week with a link to that week's download.  Next week's is OLD MAN'S WAR by none other than my evil nemesis John Scalzi.  It's important that we all read his books to keep track of whatever nefarious plots he's currently hatching.

Anyway, if you've been waiting to read MISTBORN, go get the ebook for free!

The second bit of news is almost as cool.  A few months back, I realized that there is a whole lot of writing talent hanging around my area.  I also realized that my brother is getting a degree that focuses heavily on web marketing, and that he had just taken a podcasting class.  The result of these two ideas fighting to the death in the arena of my mind?  Writing Excuses, the weekly podcast!

For the foreseeable future, I'll be sitting down with a couple of writer friends--Howard Tayler of Schlock Mercenary and Daniel Wells (a guy who recently got an offer on his horror novel)--and talking about various aspects of writing.  Each episode is 15 minutes long, and you can listen right through your browser.  There will be a new episode each Monday.  You can also subscribe to the podcast via itunes or other podcast sites. 

I get a lot of emails asking me about how to write and how to break into publishing.  I figure this will be a fun, interesting way to answer some those questions as well as give you multiple viewpoints on the topics. Dan and Howard are both excellent writers, and I'm very excited to be part of this with them.  Give it a listen and let us know what you think either on my forums, on the podcast website itself, or via email.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Note: this is the last day for the MISTBORN hardcover sale.  The books will go up to $25 sometime tomorrow, without warning, when my brother gets around to changing the store.

I know these posts are getting mirrored around to a lot of different websites, so I thought I'd mention a couple of things.  First off, you should understand how I use my blog.  While I sometimes go into depth on topics, writing long essays (I call them EULOgies, after my net nickname EUOL), most of the time my blog is used simply for a "Here's what I'm doing right now."  Often, I'll post a few paragraphs about the copyedit I'm working on or the book I'm writing.  Nothing ever in-depth.

I'm not a true blogger, as I've discussed often on this blog.  I don't read up on what is happening in the Blogosphere and offer criticism and debate.  My blog is more of a news feed than a true blog.  A way for my readers to keep an eye on what I'm doing.

These WHEEL OF TIME posts are intended for that purpose.  Less analysis of the books, more of a way of saying "Hey, I've finished this book and am moving on to the next, if you're interested."  I intentionally shy away from any deep analysis since, well, I'd rather not get pulled into any in-depth debates at this point.  These are just off the cuff reactions intended to indicate where I am and what I've been feeling.

That said, here are a few reactions to THE SHADOW RISING. 

This book is long--huge, actually.  I'm curious to know if it's the longest of Mr. Jordan's books by wordcount.  (Does anyone have a list of the wordcounts of all the books?)  However, it didn't feel long to me, since we have so many characters to watch and follow.  I've heard some people complain about the number of characters in the WoT books, but this is what makes the series work so well, in my opinion.  You can justify a 400,000 word novel if you're letting us follow so many different viewpoints and storylines. 

The best part of this book for me, hands down, were the scenes where Rand gets to experience the history of the Aiel and the Traveling People.  This actually illustrates what I was trying to say in the previous paragraph, but didn't quite get around to.  These books work because no matter who's viewpoint you are in, Mr. Jordan is able to make them feel alive and real, and is able to make their motivations rational.  (If, sometimes, evil.)  These scenes in the past are a great example.  We've never met these people, and yet they were as interesting to read for me as the main characters. 

I think this is the jump readers need to make to really enjoy this series.  They can't get so attached to Rand, Mat, Egwene, and Perrin that they aren't willing to experience the powerful characterizations of other people in the world.  Those who can't make this jump tend to complain about the series loosing focus.  Those who do make the jump get a story with more complexity and depth than you find in some of the other fantasy series, which stick to the more traditional plot structures and characterizations. 

My second favorite parts of this book come with Perrin and Faile.  Faile is often cited as one of people's least favorite characters, but again, I think this comes from not understanding what is going on.  She's annoying at the beginning--she really is.  She's childish and petulant.  That's great: it means she has room to grow.  And I think she does.  This book starts off with her and Perrin having, in my opinion, a very immature relationship.  By the end they've grown together and both have matured.  Perrin by learning to be a leader, Faile by learning to work with him rather than just trying to hard to get him to let her be in charge.  I think that's an important lesson that a young noblewoman like her needed to learn. 

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Warbreaker + Links

First off, it's time for Wednesday Warbreaker: Chapter One, html form.  You may also be interested to note that I've reposted the MISTBORN sample chapters over into the Library.  Soon, I should have all of the sample chapters there in a single place.  Hopefully we can get the bugs in this system worked out soon so we can put a link to the Library on the front page.

Also, for those of you who have already read WARBREAKER and MISTBORN, don't worry--I've got some things in the works for you as well.  I have been digging through old files on my computer and have located--somewhat to my embarrassment--some early short stories that I wrote in high school.  They're terrible, of course, and I think one is even an unintentional Dragonlance Fanfic.  If I get brave enough, I'll post them in the Library once I'm done with the WoT Read Through posts.

Until then, a couple of fun links for you.  First off, an interview I did for Amazon last week.  Secondly, a funny comicFinally, a New Annotation.

Remember, the Mistborn Hardcover sale ends Friday!  Grab your signed books now before the price jumps up.  Also, THE SHADOW RISING is really long!  Wow.  Great book, but LONG. 

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


I've mentioned that it's sometimes hard for me to remember which events happen in which book.  Obviously, I knew going into this one that I'd be reading about the fall of the Stone of Tear--the cover gives a handy hint on that.  However, some of what I'd THOUGHT happened here--the pages and pages of Egwene being held by the Seanchan, the training of the three in the White Tower--all was covered in the last book.  (Man, he packed a lot into THE GREAT HUNT.)  And now, it turns out that another big event (Rand using the lightning to clear the Stone from shadowspawn) is actually in the next book.

So, I went into this one a little bit confused, trying to remember what exactly happened in Book Three.  About a hundred pages into it, I suddenly remembered.  This is the one where Rand disappears. 

As if in foreshadowing of future books in the series, where side characters become main characters, this is the book where we only get brief glimpses of Rand.  I remember being annoyed by this when I was younger.  Oddly--this is another change between my young self and my older self--I didn't feel that any more.  I've grown, over the years, to see the WHEEL OF TIME less as Rand's story, and more of the story of the end of an age.  It's the story of the entire world and the people in it, not just the story of one person.  And so, I actually enjoyed reading the different viewpoints, which allowed me to get to know the world and setting better.  Perhaps that's just the writer in me knowing that in another month or so, I'm going to have to write in this setting, and so anything that shows me more viewpoints, more characters, and more places is going to be well appreciated.

All admit to a slight longing, however.  Not for more Rand viewpoints specifically, but a longing to know him better.  The man whom we read about at the beginning of this book has changed a lot since the end of the second book.  That progress, that change, is trapped between books, lost to us.  A friend recently explained to me that Mr. Jordan looked at Rand's changes during this book as a metaphor for the way he himself changed during his years in Vietnam.  That same friend suggested that maybe showing those changes explicitly might have been to close to home for Mr. Jordan.  I'd never heard that before, but it makes a whole lot of sense.

My only other complaint about this books is Moiraine.  She's always been one of my favorites, but she got on my nerves here.  It's okay to push around Mat--he deserves it.  Rand is fair game too; he can blow up cities.  He needs direction.  But why does she have to pick on Perrin?  He doesn't deserve it. 

And, speaking of Perrin, my favorite moment in this book came when Perrin entered the blacksmith's shop near the end and worked the forges.  Something about the beauty of the writing there, mixed with Perrin's inner turmoil of the surrounding chapters, worked for me.  It was one of the most amazing moments in the series so far for me, and reminded me why I like Perrin as a character so much. 

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Great Hunt Part Two

Note: Since I forgot to announce it last week, I'm going to give an extra week on the MISTBORN hardcover sale. On Friday the 8th, we're going to move the price up to $25. Thanks to everyone who has ordered copies so far! You've made this a success, and so I'll probably do it with future books.

Now, on to the read-through. I'm far into Book Three, but I thought I'd stop and give some more reflections on THE GREAT HUNT.  I know that this book is the favorite of a lot of readers, and as I re-read it, I can certainly remember why.  The ending was fast-paced and dramatic and contained several of my favorite scenes from the series. 

One of these is the experience of using the Portal Stone and letting us see all of the different lives Rand could have lived.  I loved the variety of the scene and the power of ending each one with the Dark One's words.  I win again....

I thought that would be my favorite scene of the book until I hit the climax with the horn sounding and the Dragon Reborn riding to battle beneath his banner.  As many of you know, I am an endings guy.  A great ending makes a book for me, while a weak ending can really ruin a story.  This ending was a great one--plenty of powerful imagery and good conflicts.

There's one interesting that happened when I was reading this book.  I remembered and anticipated  a lot of the moments in this book, one of the most important being Egwene's capture by the Seanchan.  The strange thing is, I kept waiting and waiting for the event, and it never came.  I'd remembered with detail the chapters and chapters of torture she'd gone through as one of the leashed ones. 

Finally, I reached the last fifth of the book and the capture came along.  I was surprised to see that the time I'd remembered as filling 'chapters and chapters' was really only about thirty pages worth of material. 

This says a lot, I think, about the depth of the conflict in those thirty pages.  What Egwene went through was traumatic enough for her that it left a strong impression on me.  The fact that Mr. Jordan was able to do that in just a few chapters says a lot for his ability to give depth and power to a scene.