Monday, August 31, 2009

Writing Lessons from a Puppeteer and Final Alcatraz 3 Sample Chapter

Today over at Writing Excuses we posted our first podcast episode recorded at this year's Worldcon in Montreal, where we were joined by special guest Mary Robinette Kowal, last year's John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer winner and this year's Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America secretary. She's also been a professional puppeteer for two decades, and in this episode Mary expounds upon the four principles of puppetry and how they apply to writing. Completely because of her, it's one of our best episodes ever. Give it a listen.

ALCATRAZ VERSUS THE KNIGHTS OF CRYSTALLIA is coming out any day now (the previous books have consistently showed up weeks before the announced date), and I've put up the second and final sample chapter today. Also available are the foreword and chapter one, as well as sample chapters from book one for those who haven't read the first two books. If you're planning on buying it, it's a good idea to preorder a copy at your local bookstore to show them that there are people who want this book. So far, they haven't been quite as convinced as they should be.

In the most recent MISTBORN 3 annotations I discuss who Spook sees in the burning building and a little more about the kandra. Especially the first one is an extremely spoilerific annotation that will ruin a big surprise if you haven't read THE HERO OF AGES, so as always, read the book first before checking the annotations!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fanart + Alcatraz 3 Sample Chapter 1

First off, here's an awesome piece of fanart by Brandon Earnhart. Go check out his blog.

Within a couple of weeks, ALCATRAZ VERSUS THE KNIGHTS OF CRYSTALLIA will be appearing on store shelves. To offer you a taste of it, I've released chapter one on the site today. (The foreword went up last week, and chapter two will follow next week.) And if you've never read the Alcatraz series, sample chapters from book one are available as well.

Dan thinks it's necessary to apologize for this week's Writing Excuses episode, in which we discuss the use of dialect and in-world jargon—while speaking in dialect ourselves. So here you go: "Sorry!" Still, I encourage you to give it a listen and judge for yourself whether this was quite as bad an idea in hindsight as Dan says it was.

In the most recent MISTBORN 3 annotations, I discuss Demoux's fall and Sazed's and Goradel's attitudes.

Finally, something I posted about on Twitter and Facebook earlier today: I heard from a happy couple that they named their son Kelsier. That's amazing, humbling, and terrifying all at once.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

To Longtime Wheel of Time Fans

I'm gearing up to dive back into the Wheel of Time next month. To those of you who only check the blog for WoT news, I appreciate your patience with me. I do try to incorporate things into the blog directed at you. I'm sorry there isn't more of it. This is partially because of the strict nondisclosure agreement I'm under. I fear saying much of anything because of how good the WoT community is at pulling meaning out of casual statements. And they're right a shocking amount of the time. So I've held myself back. That, unfortunately, means I often end up posting things like this:

"Gearing up to write the next WoT section; emailing Mr. Jordan's assistants about clarifications on some issues. Can't say which ones. Sorry."

That was posted to my Twitter/Facebook earlier today. (And note, if you're starved for posts, know that I do update my Twitter and Facebook pretty much every day. You can read them on my main blog too; check the left-hand sidebar on the blog page.) Anyway, I don't post such vague things to be annoying or teasing. I just feel compelled by Mr. Jordan and Harriet's wishes to restrain myself. If I tell you what I'm asking about, you'll be able to guess what I'm working on—and from that can guess what is in the second book, and from there guess the contents of the first book. Perhaps I'm too paranoid. But once the first book is out and you all know its contents, I'll let myself be more open about what is in the second book in posts and tweets.

Recently, I've found myself thinking a lot about the years when I was simply another Wheel of Time fan. This is likely due to the coming release of THE GATHERING STORM, which will be the first WoT book that I don't get to experience with the rest of the world as it is released. That puts me in a strange position.

Actually, a lot of things about this project put me in a strange position. I've become the most direct face of the Wheel of Time, with my blogging and appearances. Because of that I find myself (by design) being an advocate for the series, rather than a commentator on the series. There's a distinction there. It's no longer my place, for instance, to offer criticism on the cover art. Perhaps some would call it two-faced of me to avoid discussion of things in the series that perhaps deserve criticism; I just feel that it is my job to stand in Mr. Jordan's place, as best I can, and be respectful of his memory and the responsibility I've been given.

Still, despite this, I do find myself remembering the days when I was just a fan. I went through all of the typical WoT fandom emotions. There were times when I tore through the books, rereading them voraciously, loving every page. And yes—though I don't now talk about it often—there were times when I was annoyed with the WoT. The speed at which the series was released, the quirks of Mr. Jordan's language, the times he focused on a side character I didn't want to read about.

There would be times when I would reread through all the books—taking months and months—in order to read a new volume that just came out. And then the next one would take just long enough to come out that I'd have forgotten the details of the books. I'd feel mentally fatigued and think, "What do I do? Do I spend all of that time reading again, or do I try to read the new one without a refresher on who is who, and perhaps lose some important threads?" During those times, I would think, "Why am I subjecting myself to this? This series is overhyped."

And then I'd read the books and remember what I'd forgotten. Not just the names and plot threads; the love and the thrill of a purely majestic epic fantasy.

The Wheel of Time is one of the few series I read a lot when I was younger that made the transition to adulthood with me. Other authors—good authors—weren't able to write for both the youthful Brandon and the adult Brandon. But Jordan could do it. There is something very special about these books. I think you'll find it again when you dig back into the Wheel of Time for what is happening in October, whether you decide to read the entire series (I suggest at least reading KNIFE OF DREAMS again) or just grab THE GATHERING STORM.

Still, I guess I'm posting about this to say, "I understand. I don't feel it's right for me to agree with you most of the time when you complain. But I do understand. I've been there." I understand that some are annoyed at there being three books instead of one, I understand that some are excited about getting three books, and I understand that most of you probably feel both annoyed and excited at the same time. (This series does that to people.) I understand what it's like to defend the Wheel of Time vigorously to friends, but then find yourself saying, "I think I'll wait to read the rest of them until the thing is finally done" to other friends later in the week. I've been there. I have a friend who—each time Mr. Jordan's name was mentioned—used to raise his fist to the sky and curse. Partially in jest, partially to express his fascination and frustration at the same time. I empathized with him a lot.

But I've read the ending now. It works. It fits. A journey like this one hinges a lot on the destination. And that destination turned out to be everything I wanted it to be.

Some of you haven't ever felt these feelings; you've loved the WoT the entire time, and haven't felt a bit of frustration. Some of you have only recently discovered the series, and wonder what the fuss and frustration is about in those of us who have been reading for nearly twenty years now. To you who are like I was, I just say this. Give yourself a chance to discover the books again, and you'll remember what this is all about.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Off to my Signing

Off to my signing. Sorry about the short notice on this one.  We're revamping the Events page, and soon (hopefully) we'll have a much better system for telling people where I'll be and when.  For now, if you happen to see this, feel free to come see me at the BYU bookstore from 2:30-4:30 today.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Signing Tomorrow! + Alcatraz Sample Chapters

I'm signing tomorrow at BYU in conjunction with Education Week. (I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but forgot to give details before now.)

WHERE: BYU Bookstore, Provo, UT
WHEN: Tuesday, August 18, from 2:30 to 4:30
WHAT: Whatever you would like me to sign (Some exceptions—as a general rule I won't sign a book written by a different author, but I will sign books written by Dan Wells if offered a suitable bribe or plausible-sounding justification.)

There may even be some numbered copies of WARBREAKER left over from the release party. I don't number any books after release day, so this may be your last chance to get a numbered copy.

The next installment of my middle-grade humorous fantasy series, ALCATRAZ VERSUS THE KNIGHTS OF CRYSTALLIA, is due to be released on October 1. The previous two volumes started showing up on shelves about a month before their official release date, so ALCATRAZ 3 will most likely follow suit and start showing up around September 1. You know what that means, right? It's time for sample chapters! First up is Alcatraz's Author's Foreword; chapters one and two will go up in the next two weeks.

This week's Writing Excuses podcast episode focuses on subplots. What are they for? How do you write them to further your main plot and character development instead of boring your readers to tears? If you've always wanted to know, give the episode a listen.

Finally, the most recent MISTBORN 3 annotation is for chapter 16, in which I discuss Spook's reaction to the Citizen's reign. It's one of my favorite chapters so far, so if you're following along at home, flip to page 121 in the hardback or page 143 in the paperback.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Gathering Storm coming sooner than expected

This afternoon I got word from Tor that the release date of THE GATHERING STORM has officially been moved up one week. The new on-sale date in the U.S. and Canada will be October 27, 2009, so mark your calendars. We don't yet know if other markets will be following suit; as more information comes in I'll keep you posted.

Jason Denzel at Dragonmount is one of the lucky few who has had the opportunity to read the finished book, and he posted his review of THE GATHERING STORM at the end of July. The review does include some very minor spoilers that he's marked off so you can skip them if you want the book to be completely fresh when you open it up in October. Also over at Dragonmount today Jason posted my comments on the situation with the outriggers and prequels. Short version: A MEMORY OF LIGHT is what Harriet and I are focused on right now.

I got home late last night from Worldcon, where Howard Tayler was beaten to the Best Graphic Story Hugo Award by the much-deserving Phil and Kaja Foglio with Girl Genius. Congratulations!

In this week's Writing Excuses episode Howard, Dan, and I talk about trimming—tightening your prose and reducing word count without changing your story. And while at Worldcon we recorded three episodes with the puppeteer and Campbell-winning writer Mary Robinette Kowal, so that's something to look forward to in upcoming podcasts.

And since it's Tuesday, a new MISTBORN 3 annotation has gone up and I have three links to give you: Part One Wrap-Up, Chapter Fourteen, and Chapter Fifteen. The beginning of Part Two is when Spook shows up, so these are chapters I particularly like. It's more setup, but with a more epic scope like HERO OF AGES has, more setup is necessary.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Worldcon schedule (and weekly updates)

A couple friends of mine who used to be power booksellers at Waldenbooks (Steve hand-sold dozens of copies of ELANTRIS back when it came out and arranged my first Black Friday signing) have just opened up a book review site. Among their first reviews are WARBREAKER and Dan Wells's book I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER, so check them out.

Two more annotations have gone up on the site: HERO OF AGES chapter twelve and chapter thirteen in which I discuss some of the Mistborn series' tropes. And this week's Writing Excuses podcast presents the second part of our focus on conventions: The Dos and Don'ts of Attending Cons. Once again this is particularly relevant because of the World Science Fiction convention this weekend.

Brandon Sanderson's Worldcon Schedule August 7–9

Note: Room assignments may be subject to change.

Brandon Sanderson Signing
Friday 12:00 p.m., Autographs
This signing is scheduled for only 30 minutes and does not include a reading. Please also check out Brandon's off-site signing at Indigo on Saturday.

Writing Excuses LIVE
Friday 2:00 p.m., P-513B
Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson, and Howard Tayler will record a number of live podcasts with special guests from among the luminary writers and editors attending Worldcon. Come be part of the studio audience, and you may get to submit a question for a Q&A episode.

Gods and Monsters
Friday 3:30 p.m., P-516AB
Jus de Pomme, Aliza Ben Moha, Brandon Sanderson
Most fantasy worlds tend to have an invented pantheon of gods: what are the differences (for writer and reader) between doing this and using an existing system like the Greek or Roman deities? How does one introduce superbeings into a work without pushing the human characters into insignificance? Gods are often gigantic projections of human characteristics. Can they serve other functions as well? Why are polytheistic settings so common in fantasy?

Writing for the Non-Adult
Saturday 9:00 a.m., P-513B
Julie C. Andrijeski, Eoin Colfer, Alison Baird, Susan Fichtelberg, Brandon Sanderson
From children’s books to YA literature: How do you approach material appropriate for certain age-groups; what, if any, boundaries does the literature impose?

Archetypes Without Stereotypes
Saturday 10:00, P-518A
Ben Jeapes, Patrick Rothfuss, Nalo Hopkinson, Doselle Young, Brandon Sanderson
Thanks to culture and convention, every reader carries a built-in cast of characters requiring little or no explanation. Is there a way to use this built-in knowledge without writing stereotypes or poorly-defined stock characters? What happens when readers don’t share those assumptions?

Brandon Sanderson Kaffeeklatsch
Saturday 12:30 p.m., P-521B
Join in a small intimate group setting to chat informally with Brandon Sanderson! The session is limited to 10 people. Sign up at the programme desk near registration. First come first serve. (Note: If you've chatted with Brandon multiple times before, please be courteous and give other people a chance. Thanks!)

Off-Site Signing at Indigo Books
Saturday 2:00 p.m., 1500 avenue McGill College
You don't have to be registered at Worldcon to attend this signing. For details, see the previous blog post.

JOLT Writing . . . Get Your Writing Kickstart Here (Teen Programming)
Sunday 1:00 p.m., P-516E
Dan Wells, Elaine Isaak, Jay Lake, Karleen Bradford, Brandon Sanderson
Crash course: Brainstorming, structures, writing… all in 90 minutes. Work on a new story or punch up an old one. (First Contact work session, too.)