Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Some Long-Awaited Updates

Time to sit down and talk about some things. I hope this doesn’t get too rambly for you, but I’ve been getting a lot of questions about TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT and THE WAY OF KINGS, so I thought I’d give you some updates regarding what’s been happening over here at Dragonsteel Entertainment HQ. (Also known as my basement.)

First off, TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT. The progress bar has been stopped at 82% for about two months now. Why is that? Well, mid-to-late December, two things happened. First, I decided that I couldn’t work any further on new material for TOWERS until I did some substantial rewrites to the book. This happens frequently with my novels; it’s not something to worry about. I did this twice on HERO OF AGES. The more complex the book and the series, the more often I find myself doing midbook refining drafts like this one, making certain I’ve got the voice, motivations, and plot sequences right.

TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT is going very well. I’m very pleased with how it’s turning out, and I’m confident it will be ready in time for a release later this year as promised. It will be longer than THE GATHERING STORM, which is another reason the progress bar stopped. I’m just not sure how long the book will end up being, so a percentage is harder to judge right now. The actual length of the book right now—after putting together all the pieces I’ve been working on over the last six months—comes to 291,294 words. THE GATHERING STORM was around 300,000 words. I estimate this one at around 320,000 or so after revisions and edits. (It might get as high as 350,000, then get sliced back down. I always trim a lot off books in later drafts when I tighten up the language.)

I figured that since I was doing revisions, and since getting to “100%” at 300,000 words would give the wrong impression, I’d just let the progress bar sit for a time. As long as I turn in the book by this summer, it will still be ready for a late fall release. So there's no need for anyone to panic yet.

I’m afraid I can’t say much about what I’m working on in the book. Out of respect for Harriet’s wishes, I need to remain tight-lipped. I know it’s not very satisfying to hear, “All is well, please keep waiting.” But . . . all is well, please keep waiting.

I put that progress bar up so that you can keep track of me, and because I feel that readers deserve to see how things are going on my books. It’s just how I like to do things. But don’t let it become too much of a crutch to you, an absolute indication that things are moving or not moving. I’m always working, and these last two months have been no exception. (Arrival of my second son notwithstanding—I sent out a newsletter about that, and if you didn’t get it, you might want to drop me an email through the form on my website and ask to sign up. Be sure to let me know what city/state/country you live in so that I can let you know when I’ll be stopping by on tour.) If you didn't get it, here are the details on Meatloaf's arrival:

A baby boy has come to the Sanderson family. Dallin Matthew was born on January 19th, weighing in at 9 lbs. 2 oz. He joins his two-year-old brother Joel as heir to Brandon's literary legacy. (Though Joel has only recently started speaking much English. He used to talk and talk and talk, but apparently in an alien language with inflections that sounded maddeningly familiar. Anyway, Joel's favorite word in English is "cars.")

Emily, Brandon's wife and business manager for Dragonsteel Entertainment (her official company title is "Queen"), is adjusting to being the mother of two boys. Joel is helping her out by learning not to throw things; I haven't seen him throw anything off the second-floor balcony in weeks!

Here's a link to some pictures of Dallin. (Photos by Faith Jennings.) Isn't he cute?

The other thing that happened in December to slow me is that production from Tor started to get anxious because they didn’t have THE WAY OF KINGS (book one of my new series, The Stormlight Archive) in final form yet. So I had to spend a lot of time working on another draft of that book, along with getting some of the interior artwork done.

Talk has already started to float around the internet about KINGS. I’ll start posting more about the book in the upcoming months. I wanted this update to be focused on the Wheel of Time.

Remember, I do often make little notes on my Twitter and Facebook pages (the two are mirrored) about what I’m doing and how it’s going. So if you’re salivating for info, you can keep an eye on one of the two. There’s not a ton of information there, but there is some.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Updates, Audies, Vote for the David Gemmell Legend Award!

In the most recent MISTBORN 3 annotations, I discuss Vin's defense before Yomen and what happened to Janarle. And in this week's Writing Excuses podcast, Dan, Howard, James Dashner, and I take questions from the crowd at LTU&E, covering a variety of topics. Check it out.

THE GATHERING STORM was named as one of five nominees for the 2010 Audie awards in the category of science fiction/fantasy audiobook. Kudos to voice performers Michael Kramer and Kate Reading! If you haven't had a chance to give the Wheel of Time audiobooks a try, I highly recommend them.

Now for this week's big news (though this is fighting with the Audies as far as how big it is). THE GATHERING STORM is on the long list of titles up for the David Gemmell Legend award (WARBREAKER is also on the list, but I feel that THE GATHERING STORM is more in the spirit of Gemmell's work, which is part of the award's criteria). HERO OF AGES made the short list last year and lost to BLOOD OF ELVES, and I was just honored to be nominated—until I found out that the winner gets a freaking battleaxe.

The award itself is in the shape of a Druss-style battleaxe, and it is awesome. If you want to help me and Team Jordan win one of these for THE GATHERING STORM . . . or rather, if you believe it's the most deserving of the books that have been nominated, go vote for the David Gemmell Legend Award here. (I won't feel bad if you vote for something else.)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Photoshop Contest Winners, Wheel of Time Games, & Updates

I've got the Photoshop contest winners below, but first the weekly updates. In the most recent MISTBORN 3 annotations I discuss TenSoon's visit to Urteau and Vin attacking without using Allomancy.

This past weekend was BYU's science fiction/fantasy symposium, Life, the Universe & Everything. This was my first convention as Guest of Honor (as well as my first con after the release of THE GATHERING STORM), and there was a huge crowd—including our largest crowd ever for an episode of Writing Excuses, several of which we recorded at the con. Up first—airing as this week's episode—James Dashner joined Dan, Howard, and me to discuss pacing. Check it out. I also did a couple of interviews during the convention; one with Provo's Daily Herald resulted in a video that they've put up on YouTube.

My assistant also sent out a newsletter to everyone on my mailing list for the first time in almost four years. I've posted a copy here. Baby pictures included! The newsletter is mostly for the benefit of people who don't come to my site very often, but if you tell me what city you're in, I also send out reminders when I'm signing nearby. Consider putting your name on the list; anyone who sends me an email gets added.

In Wheel of Time news, Red Eagle has announced a partnership with Obsidian Entertainment to handle much of the development for Wheel of Time console and PC games. Read the full press release over at Dragonmount.

And now to the Photoshop contest. I recruited Maria from Team Jordan, Jason and Jenn from Dragonmount, and my assistant Peter to help judge, and we eventually settled on winners for first, second, and third place. I also picked two Judge's Choice winners from other entries I found especially deserving.


This picture of Tam holding a baby iPad Photoshopped by John S. fits in such a creepy way. As the big winner, John picked a copy of the hardcover ABLE ONE by Ben Bova for me to buy from Mysterious Galaxy and have shipped to him. He also gets a signed copy of MISTBORN. Congratulations, John!


I can't believe all the things people did with my head in this contest! Laird Duncan wins a copy of IMAGER by L. E. Modesitt, plus a signed copy of MISTBORN.


This one had the judges cracking up. Gavin Doyle wins a copy of THE REVOLUTION BUSINESS by Charlie Stross (and a signed copy of MISTBORN).


These entries by Michael Willett (left) and Valeryan (right) get special Judge's Choice awards. Michael's Photoshopping is just so good here, and the whole concept fits so well. And I couldn't stop laughing when I saw Valeryan's entry the first time—I imagined Lews Therin rocking out to Journey's greatest hits, unable to keep the tears in. (Valeryan, you haven't responded to my assistant yet, so I don't know whether you want me to send you a copy of the Mistborn Table of Allomantic Metals or the Mistborn paperback. Please check your email!) Both of you have my highest appreciation for your skill and excecution.

The full slate of entries is up in a Picasa album for your perusal. There were so many great entries; you guys are really creative. Have fun looking at all the entries, and remember to support your local independent bookseller!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Updates + Life, the Universe & Everything Schedule

This week I'll be the guest of honor at Life, the Universe & Everything, BYU's annual symposium on science fiction and fantasy. It's basically a convention with a fancier name (but there will be a few research papers presented), though most conventions aren't free like LTUE is. My schedule is below. But first, the weekly updates.

The most recent Mistborn 3 annotations cover the rest of chapter 58, the climax to Spook's plot arc: part 2, part 3. And in this week's Writing Excuses podcast, Howard, Dan, and I talk about using role-playing games as storytelling tools. It may not be what you expect (or fear); give it a listen.

Speaking of Writing Excuses, Dan, Howard, and I will be recording live (with Bob Defendi) at the symposium on Saturday. See below.

By the way, we got some pretty awesome entries in last week's Photoshop contest. Maria from Team Jordan and Jason and Jenn from Dragonmount are busy picking their favorites. A gallery of all the entries should be available soon, and I should announce the winners sometime this week. (Also, all my books went back up on Amazon on Friday.)

Brandon's Life, the Universe & Everything Schedule
Provo, Utah, February 11–13, 2010.
Attendance is FREE

THURSDAY, February 11
10:00 AM
Fantasy without Magic
(Paul Genesse, Brandon Sanderson, Robert J. Defendi, Larry Correia)

Creating a wizard that isn't another Gandalf, Merlin, Dumbledore, etc.
(Brandon Sanderson, Paul Genesse, Dan Willis, Aleta Clegg)

FRIDAY, February 12
9:00 AM
How to become an idea factory: Where do you find ideas? How do you go from an idea to a story?
(Clint Johnson, Larry Correia, James Dashner, Brandon Sanderson, Karen Hoover, Howard Tayler)

10:00 AM
Why Mormons and fantasy? There seems to be an explosion of successful young LDS writers in the fantasy field. What're the ingredients in their Mormon background that make this genre a natural fit?
(Scott Parkin, Laura Bingham, Brandon Sanderson, Lisa Mangum)

5:00 PM
Reading by Brandon Sanderson (subject to change)

SATURDAY, February 13
11:00 AM
Main Address: Brandon Sanderson

1:00 PM
SIGNING: Brandon Mull, Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, Eric James Stone, Berin Stephens, Jake Black, Roger White, Lisa Mangum, Aleta Clegg, Mette Ivie Harrison, John Brown

4:00 PM
Writing Excuses LIVE
(Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, Dan Wells)

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Photoshop Contest—Win a New Tor Book

By now you’re probably very familiar with the whole AmazonFail deal that has been going on. Today, Scalzi made a shout-out for author support. I think that was a fine thing to do.

Most of the authors involved don’t care so much about ebook pricing either way. They just want people to read their works. In fact, the majority of writers I know care about money only in so much as it allows them to keep writing books. Money is important because without it, we’d all have to be working in a cubicle somewhere rather than creating the art that we love.

Some will argue that $9.99 is too low for an ebook, others that it’s too high. I’m not really on either side, to be honest. I see it both ways. But I do agree that what Amazon did in pulling physical books was a petulant, annoying move that harms a bunch of people who had nothing to do with the negotiations. Scalzi, in his nefarious evil wisdom, calls for everyone to show support to the authors and get their books someplace other than Amazon.

This strikes me as particularly important for authors who released books either last week or this week. For those of us who had book launches before the holidays, most of you who want our books already have them. But think of Steven Erikson, who had a new book come out a couple of weeks ago. Or heck, Ben Bova, Charlie Stross, and L. E. Modesitt Jr. had books come out today. First week sales, as everyone knows, are very important for a book’s future. What Amazon did to me was annoying; what it did to these folks was downright nasty.

On an unrelated note, I’ve been very amused by that picture of Rand holding up an iPad that was over at Engadget. Someone on my Facebook page made a great suggestion that Photoshopping the cover of THE DRAGON REBORN to have an iPad would be an awesome idea, what with the design of the book. That made me laugh out loud to consider.

Therefore, I’m issuing a Photoshop challenge (with prizes) to all of you readers out there. Photoshop a picture of a figure from the Wheel of Time books (it doesn’t matter who, or whether you use official art or fan art) to include iPads, Kindles, Nooks, Sony Readers, or whatever ebook reader you prefer. Then send it to me or post it to my forums.

Be creative. Recreate the Last Battle with ebooks. Have Kindles being Balefired. Whatever you want. Keep it clean, make us laugh, and have fun.

I’m going to give you until Friday at noon my time. My partners in crime (probably Peter and whomever I recruit—maybe Maria and Dragonmount Jason) and I will pick our three favorites. If you win, I will walk to my local bookstore (okay, I’ll probably give Mysterious Galaxy or Sam Weller’s a call) and I will BUY YOU A COPY of a recent Tor release. I’ll also send you a signed hardcover of one of my books.

FIRST PLACE: A hardcover of DUST OF DREAMS by Steven Erikson or ABLE ONE by Ben Bova.
SECOND PLACE: A paperback of IMAGER by L. E. Modesitt Jr., THE REVOLUTION BUSINESS by Charlie Stross, or STEAL ACROSS THE SKY by Nancy Kress which I will buy for you.
THIRD PLACE: Same as second place.

Let the Photoshoppery begin!

UPDATE NOON FRIDAY: Submissions are now closed.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Amazonfail 2010, Mythmaker Interview, Updates

The big story over the weekend was that Amazon temporarily stopped selling all Macmillan books, which includes all my books from Tor, to protest Macmillan's new ebook terms. There's not a lot I have to add to this discussion, except to say that Tor's publicity department thought the illustration accompanying Engadget's article on the affair was hilarious. Still, if you haven't heard about what's been happening, or if you've emailed me asking why you suddenly can't buy my books from Amazon, check out the following links for a thorough rundown.

My evil nemesis John Scalzi probably said it best in the following blog posts (especially the last one): 1, 2, 3, 4. Other comments come from Cory Doctorow (1), Toby Buckell (1, 2, 3), Charles Stross (1, 2, 3, 4), Jay Lake (1, 2, 3, 4), and Scott Westerfield (1). As you might expect, these include quite a bit of cross-linking and cross-commenting. I also made a few comments on my Facebook page.

The current situation is that Amazon has said they "will have to capitulate," but so far they are still not selling any Macmillan books. If there are books of mine you were planning to buy in the near future, I've got a number of non-Amazon links for you here. Or, of course, stop by your local independent bookseller!

Now for a completely different controversial topic. In this week's Writing Excuses podcast, Howard, Dan, and I talk about whether a writer needs an agent. This is partially in response to Dean Wesley Smith's recent posts about the writer/agent relationship (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). It's a complex topic, all sides of which writers should explore.

While I was in Los Angeles during the GATHERING STORM tour, I sat down for an interview with the folks from Mythmaker Films. Yesterday they posted an 18-minute film that includes footage from that interview as well as from my Los Angeles signing. If you're interested in how I got started writing and how I became involved in completing A MEMORY OF LIGHT, check out the video.

Finally, in the most recent MISTBORN 3 annotations, I have a discussion of Vin's interactions with Ruin while imprisoned and the first of a three-part annotation on Spook's climactic chapter.