Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lloyd Alexander Documentary Kickstarter, Creative Writing Lectures + Updates

When Lloyd Alexander (author of many novels including the Chronicles of Prydain) passed away, he left his papers to the BYU library, which has an exhibit that is a recreation of Alexander's home office. BYU student Jared Crossley is making a documentary on Lloyd Alexander, the short version of which will accompany the exhibit and the long version of which will be used by various literary organizations and libraries. To finance the documentary, he is running a Kickstarter campaign. If you're a Lloyd Alexander fan, check it out.

Supanova put up a recording of my panel and reading that I did in Melbourne. At the beginning I read for fifteen minutes from my forthcoming novella LEGION from Subterranean Press. It's followed by some Q&A.

The most recent Writing Excuses podcast episode is a microcasting one where we cover a bunch of topics quickly. This one touches on:

  • Prologues and epilogues
  • Using drawings to get across settings
  • Simple tricks for naming things
  • Would you self-publish if you had a do-over?
  • How do you keep a powerful character interesting?
  • Foreshadowing
  • Trimming
  • Flashbacks

This week's ALCATRAZ VERSUS THE EVIL LIBRARIANS annotation covers the very beginning of the Brandon Avalanche. My assistant has also uploaded another Twitter posts archive.'s science blogger Dr. Lee Falin has another post on the science of Allomancy. This one discusses how zinc and brass might work. (Also see tin and copper.)

Scott Ashton uploaded a couple more of my creative writing class lectures. You can see them below.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bay Area this weekend: BayCon, including Magic

Here's my schedule as Writer Guest of Honor of this weekend's BayCon. There's not a signing on the schedule, which means that I'll sign books whenever you catch me somewhere at the con, unless I'm running to get somewhere else.

I'm also doing a Magic: The Gathering draft, probably Avacyn Restored or something in the Innistrad block, Saturday night. See below for details.

BayCon 2012, Santa Clara, CA

Dates: May 25–28, 2012
Place: BayCon 2012
Address: Santa Clara Hyatt
5101 Great America Parkway
Santa Clara, CA 95054
Schedule: The complete listing is here.


Opening Ceremonies 2:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in Ballroom A
(Brandon Sanderson, Cathy Beckstead, Cruz Arellanes III (M), Dani Kollin, Eytan Kollin, Scott Beckstead, Stephan Martiniere)
Time for the cruise to set sail. Join the BayCon Chairman and our Honored Guests as they get the convention started.

Ghostwriting—Literally! What's it Like to Pick Up a Deceased Writer's Pen? 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Ballroom A
(Brandon Sanderson (M), Kevin Andrew Murphy, Deborah J. Ross, Diana L. Paxson)
Many of our favorite authors were in the middle of writing something when they passed away. What's it like to pick up a deceased author's pen? Is it more important to create the author's intent, or is it ok to add your own style when you're now the one doing the work.

Meet the Guests 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in Ballroom B-C-D
(Brandon Sanderson, Cathy Beckstead, Cruz Arellanes III (M), Dani Kollin, Eytan Kollin, Scott Beckstead, Stephan Martiniere)
Come meet the Cruise Captain, BayCon 2012 Chairman Cruz Arellanes. Mingle with our guests as our Toastmasters regale us with interesting anecdotes and introduce our Guests of Honor.


How the Style of Writing Can Make a Book Readable 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Winchester
(Brandon Sanderson, Norm Sperling, Chaz Brenchley (M), Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, Diana L. Paxson)
First person? Omniscient? First-person smart aleck? A discussion of how and why the point of view changes our liking or disliking of a storyline. How does the way authors convey their story, film noir, western, fairytale, tall tale, all come together or fall apart for the reader?

Writer Guest of Honor Interview 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in Ballroom B-C-D
(Brandon Sanderson, Dani Kollin (M))
Our Writer Guest of Honor Brandon Sanderson spills his secrets during an interview with Toastmaster Dani Kollin.

Aspiring Writers Toolkit 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Winchester
(Brandon Sanderson, Todd McCaffrey, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff (M))
What kinds of workshops are there for writers? When might they help you? When might they not help you? Panelists discuss their workshop experiences and help you avoid some of the pitfalls.

Magic the Gathering Tournament with the Writer GoH 9:00 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. (or later) in Magnolia
Brandon will be hosting (and playing in) a celebrity Magic draft (a type of tournament). There will be room for fifteen players, with sign-ups in the Gaming Room. There will be a fee, which will include fresh card decks.


Evolution of Female Characters in SF and Fantasy 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in Ballroom A
(Brandon Sanderson, Juliette Wade (M), Veronica Belmont, Deborah J. Ross, Daryl G. Frazetti, Diana L. Paxson)
From damsels in distress to sword-wielding, gun-toting, and military masterminds, have women found their place, or are they "feminized" men? Do the women truly reflect changing attitudes about the roles of women?

World Building Basics 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Ballroom B-C-D
(Brandon Sanderson, Pat MacEwen, Juliette Wade, Paula Butler, David J. Peterson (M), Eytan Kollin)
Panelists discuss the basics of world-building. If you are going to set your fantasy or science fiction piece is an alien place, what kinds of things should you think of, prior to doing so?


Top 10 Rookie Author Gaffes 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in Ballroom A
(Brandon Sanderson, Leslie Ann Moore, Berry Kercheval, Marty Halpern (M), Eytan Kollin)
What are the most common ways to prevent your first sale, and how can you avoid them? Why do so many of them involve teenage vampires?

Authors: Stop Blocking Your Own Potential! 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Ballroom A
(Brandon Sanderson, Tony N. Todaro, Deborah J. Ross (M))
For years the publishing industry has pushed and pulled authors into "marketable" categories that they can quantify, but today's readers are looking for something different. As long as you believe in your work and the enjoyment that it brings to you and those like you, give it to the masses. Figure out who you are, what you want the world to see, and commit to it! Then figure out how to reach people like you and go out and sell books!

Closing Ceremonies 4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Winchester
(Brandon Sanderson, Cathy Beckstead, Cruz Arellanes III (M), Dani Kollin, Eytan Kollin, Scott Beckstead, Stephan Martiniere)
Join our Guests of Honor and Toastmasters as we return to port and bid a fond farewell to BayCon 2012!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Updates + Reader Mail

The most recent Writing Excuses podcast episode starts a new "Project in Depth" series where Mary, Howard, Dan, and I take a project that one of us has completed and grill the creator about it. These episodes necessarily contain spoilers. The first one covers Howard's Hugo-nominated Schlock Mercenary volume Force Multiplication. In future episodes (not all in a row) we'll do THE WAY OF KINGS, GLAMOUR IN GLASS, and THE HOLLOW CITY. Check the first one out here.

This week's ALCATRAZ VERSUS THE EVIL LIBRARIANS annotation covers the Alivened attack. Those are the big monsters made from bad romance novels.

Today I'm highlighting two pieces of fan mail I received recently, the first related to ALCATRAZ and second to ELANTRIS.

Here's the first one, from the dinosaurs.

Declaration of the library

We the people of the Hushlands worldwide have grown to see the evil the library imposes on kids. The taxation, limitation, and selectiveness coupled with such high requirements to check out books is outrageous.

First there is taxation, where if the book is one day late it costs a whole 25¢ which is a lot for kids. I mean that's like 10 hours of work and then it adds an extra 25¢ per day which can add up until buying the book would be cheaper. This was made to keep kids working forever to pay off their fines. And then we only are allowed to choose some books and can be turned down for books at your whim.

We have tried to turn them in on time but sometimes there's no way to get there in time, because of natural disasters or if we're delayed by parents whom we are scheming against. We have tried to explain this but you don't understand it's not always possible.

To protect our freedom and avoid taxation we must find a way out of this through talk. If not, more drastic moves may be needed, such as boycotting or abandoning the library altogether. Then your plot to take over the Free Kingdoms would be over. The Smedrys would win, and you would be shown that knowledge wins only when it is free.

Before we are forced to leave due to lack of freedom I would like to explain that knowledge should be free no matter how stoopid you are, with no limitations, and nothing that needs to be kept or taxed.


The dinosaurs

Here's the second one, from a teacher. (Last names have been removed for privacy.)

My ninth grade English students read Elantris this year. I only had four major questions for them that spanned the length of the text, but we did do some other activities. One of them was called Found Poetry. We used lines from Elantris to make poems. Some of them are quite good. Here is a sampling. I thought you might be interested.


by Sarah

My rage was like a river
The pain swelling with each passing day
I stared absently with morose eyes
At the trees that sparkled like jewels
In the winter daylight.

My forlorn voice rose and fell
Like a well written symphony
As leaves floated slowly
Spinning in a hazy circle
Around a column of narrow-dust filled light.

Something within my heart healed
As I remembered to be my own master,
Finally discovering the simple explanations
For what I had sought for so long.

Dilaf's Rant

by Emma

I hate them
Beasts made of Gods
Foul, loathsome creatures
Thinking of them makes my heart sick
My mind feels tainted
Chaos, killing, riots, and panic
They used people as slaves
They lied to us
They are unholy
We listened to them for centuries
But we were rewarded with impotence
Vile cripples
I hate them


by Stacy

They gasped in wonder at its beauty
The creature growled at it
It was lined with delicate spiraled arches
And crafted of pale, white marble
It was something large
Something impossibly immense
The air bled at its light
Dissolving into pure whiteness
It brought bumps to her arms;
And a sent a shiver through her body.
It's a chapel.

City (A Haiku)

by Alexander

The city of the Gods;
Elantris was beautiful.
Then the earth shattered.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Play the Mistborn Adventure Game with Me at Gen Con + Updates

There's a new ALCATRAZ VERSUS THE EVIL LIBRARIANS annotation up. This one talks about chapter thirteen, when Alcatraz breaks out of the Librarians' holding cell.

This week's Writing Excuses episode is another one that was recorded at Life, the Universe & Everything in front of a live audience. It's about writing carthartic horror and features Michael R. Collings and Michaelbrent Collings.

Richard Allred sent me a recording of a Mistborn Adventure Game session that he did at Epic Puzzles & Games at the end of March. It's almost three hours long, but if you're curious about the gameplay, you might want to give some of it a listen.

That leads me to today's big announcement. You know that I play Magic: the Gathering with readers a lot, but have you ever wanted to play an RPG with me? At Gen Con in August, Crafty Games will host a special session of the Mistborn Adventure Game with me as a player. This is going to be a five-hour session, and six seats will be raffled off at the Crafty Games booth during the con. For more details, see the Crafty Games site. You can also find out more about the Mistborn Adventure Game there.

Scott Ashton has uploaded another of my creative writing class lectures. This one covers plotting, with a short introduction by my former student Peggy Eddleman talking about her experience getting a publishing deal. Her novel THROUGH THE BOMB'S BREATH will be published by Random House next year. (Part 3 of the video is currently not working, but I assume Scott will fix that soon.)

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

More Creative Writing Lectures + Updates

The most recent ALCATRAZ VERSUS THE EVIL LIBRARIANS annotation covers the chapter where Alcatraz gets tortured. Check it out.

This week's Writing Excuses podcast episode features Q&A with James Dashner at Life, the Universe & Everything. We cover the following audience-supplied questions:

  • Why is the ARC of James's first book so different from the later books?
  • How do you handle paragraph- and sentence-level edits?
  • How do you plot your stories?
  • How do you craft endings that are both satisfying, and leave the reader wanting more?
  • What do you do when your compelling villain threatens to take over the whole book?

Scott Ashton put up two more lectures from my creative writing class. The first one, Lecture 5, features Nebula Award-winning writer Eric James Stone talking about writing short stories. (I was away at a convention.)

The next one, Lecture 6, covers networking and pitching. Unfortunately there were technical difficulties and the first 20 minutes of the lecture got missed, but the first part of the rest of it is here: