Authors I Love – Brandon Sanderson

All right, so, I’m starting a new thing which is just what it says on the tin: authors I love.

These aren’t just authors that I read; these are authors I follow, whose books I buy as soon as I get a chance. These are the authors for whom I’ll read everything they write just because they’re the ones writing it

First up? Brandon Sanderson.

mistbornWhat does he write?
Epic fantasy.

How did you first hear about him?
In a news story linked from Fark.com, when it was announced he would be finishing off the Wheel of Time series after Robert Jordan’s death. A lot of people were really excited and couldn’t stop talking about Mistborn, pointing to it as an example that Sanderson would do a good job of completing the WoT books.

What was the first book of his you read?
Mistborn.
I loved the premise, got hooked in the first couple of pages, and then stayed up until 1:30 a.m. finishing it because I literally could not put it down for the last 150 pages.

Of course, then November started and I couldn’t read anymore of his stuff until NaNoWriMo was over.

How many of his books have you read?
Six of them. I’ve read:
Mistborn
The Well of Ascension
The Hero of Ages
The Alloy of Law
Elantris
Warbreaker

I also own The Way of Kings and The Rithmatist, thought I haven’t had a chance to read them yet.

Why do you like his work so much?
One major reason is his worldbuilding, specifically in regards to magic systems (a strength he’s well aware of, because if you listen to the Writing Excuses podcast, Sanderson regularly refers to himself as “the magic system guy”). All of his magic systems are fascinating and I love the way they tie into his worlds. In some cases, they actually help drive the plot (as with Elantris).

In addition, he’s very good with relationships—friendships, family relationships, and romantic relationships. He does a fantastic job of building the relationships realistically, and since I’m such a hardcore romance reader, I love to see that done well in epic fantasy.

Not only does he do epic well, but he also writes an amazingly fun adventure story. I intended to just start The Alloy of Law and read for about an hour, and then I ended up reading the entire book in a day.

What’s your favorite book of his?
Mistborn
. A high fantasy heist/con story? BE STILL MY HEART. It was fabulous, and the whole series was one of the best fantasy trilogies I’ve read in years.

What’s your least favorite book of his?
I would have to say Warbreaker, and that’s simply because I didn’t like the magic system in that one as much as I did in Elantris and the Mistborn world, and the ending fell a little flat for me. Other than that, it’s still a very good story with some great twists and two of my favorite character arcs ever.

Where should a new reader start?
The two best places to start, in my opinion, are either Mistborn or Elantris. Obviously I’m partial to Mistborn, for reasons, but it is the first book of a trilogy, and Elantris is a standalone novel. So if you’re not quite willing to hop all the way into a trilogy, then Elantris would be the better place to start.

Elves, Hobbits, and Allomancy: Book and Movie News!

First off, Christopher Eccleston—better known as “Nine” to Doctor Who fans like me—will be playing the villain in the next Thor movie, Thor: The Dark World.

He’ll be playing Malekith the Accursed, the ruler of the Dark Elves.

To say my inner fangirl is pleased that the Doctor is going to be in a Marvel movie is like saying the Atlantic Ocean is a little damp. I can’t WAIT to see what Eccleston looks like as a Dark Elf!

And you’ve probably heard this already, but Peter Jackson announced on his Facebook page that the Hobbit films will be three instead of just two.

Why no. I’m not excited about this AT ALL. (I only saw the original LOTR movies eleven times in theaters and own three different versions of the movies on DVD and dressed up as Arwen for Halloween and went to Trilogy Tuesday to see all three movies when Return of the King came out. I’m just a casual fan.)

And finally, Brandon Sanderson just finished writing the Wheel of Time series.

His blog post is a fascinating look at what it’s been like these past few years, working on completing one of modern fantasy’s most famous epics while still eking out his own stuff in between.

And even more importantly, here’s what he says about his upcoming projects:

Returning to the stories of Kaladin, Shallan, Jasnah, and Dalinar will be my next major project. You’ll also see me doing revisions on both The Rithmatist and Steelheart this fall—as I’ve made arrangements for both to be published next year or the year after. You’ll probably hear more about them in the days to come. And yes, I WILL be doing a sequel to The Alloy of Law.

Emphasis mine.

I won’t lie; I nearly shrieked with joy when I read that. As it was, I punched the air and danced in my office chair.

The Alloy of Law - autographed!

Because we all know how I feel about The Alloy of Law.

Between these three awesome pieces of news, it was difficult to keep the smile off my face all day. In fact, the knowledge that there will be a sequel to The Alloy of Law is almost enough to offset the news that another writer got a seven-figure deal for republishing their Twilight fanfic.

That news prompted me to jokingly ask Becca if I should revise a Star Wars fic I wrote when I was eleven. And that spurred a Twitter conversation involving Andrew, Avery, and Lady Jai, among others, the end result of which was yes, there should be a Star Wars-based fanfic mashup featuring space vampires, erotic sexy-times, insane amounts of angst, forbidden love between a Jawa and a Wookiee, and 101 things you can do with a blaster.

I’m so tempted to make that my NaNo project for this year.

The Critic Gets Kreativ (Again), and #WriteMotivation Updates

I’ve been awarded! Twice!

Kreative Blogger Award

Shiny!

Both Valerie and Becca put me on their lists for the Kreativ* Blogger award. As part of the award, I’m supposed to thank the lovely people who gave it to me, give you seven facts about me, and then pass it on to seven other people.

I will give a big shout-out and thank you to Valerie and Becca, and say if you aren’t reading their blogs, you ought to check them out.

(Also, Becca has an AWESOME picture of the Tenth Doctor in that post I linked. If you can’t like somebody who posts pictures of the Tenth Doctor, then we’re not going to be very good friends.)

As I’ve already been tagged as a Kreativ Blogger before, I won’t give you seven more facts about me. (If you want to read what I wrote before, go here.) Instead, I’ll share a little story.

As you may have guessed, I’m a pretty big fan of Brandon Sanderson, and I absolutely love the Mistborn series, which is why you see the book over my face in every single picture I have on various social sites.

The most recent book in the series, The Alloy of Law, came out during November, so of course I couldn’t touch it until NaNoWriMo was over.

About halfway through November, I got a package from a friend of mine who lives in Boston, with strict instructions NOT to open the blue box inside until November was over. (Apparently it was to be my “Congratulations for surviving NaNo!” present.)

To keep temptation away, I shoved the package to the corner of my room and steadfastly ignored it for the next two weeks. You should be proud.

At about 11 p.m. on December 1, after a full day of work and final NaNo prep for the TGIO, I promptly tore it open.

This is what I found inside:

The Alloy of Law - autographed!

Michelle,

Keep up the great work encouraging writers to chase their dreams. Best of luck to you, too, as you chase your own!

When your first book is published, I hope it will be my turn to receive a signed copy!

Best,
Brandon

You cannot imagine the fangirl squeal that emanated through our house when I read that. Fortunately, I didn’t wake up my roommates.

Yes, I have the best friends ever.

Finally, I’m sure just about everybody I would tag for the Kreativ Blogger has already been tagged. However, here are some of the writers I’ve been reading over this past month, in addition to the lovely people who tagged me:

Black and Dark Night
Quid for a Quill
KT Hanna
ZM Wilmot
Jessica Therrien
WriteBackwards

And now, a #WriteMotivation update!

Because I got this up late the past two weeks, it’s up early tonight!

1. Upload at least 2 months of “The Barenaked Archive” posts.

2. Add at least 4 new reviews (movie, book, and TV).

Number three will be out tomorrow morning!

3. Edit 5 chapters in my 2006 NaNo novel, and outline the damn thing.

It’s outlined. Completely. And my God, I wish I’d done that sooner. Those little note cards have helped me so much with the problem areas of the story that it’s not even funny. Yes, it kicked me back about four chapters, but I’d really rather this draft be my LAST significant rewrite pass through the story.

I’m also through editing two chapters, with three to go. Woohoo!

4. Write another 10,000 words on my 2011 NaNo novel.

I’m thinking this one might get put off until next month. As I said last week, I’m really feeling the ’06 novel, and now that I’ve gotten it outlined, writing/editing is going so much more smoothly.

That’s all for this evening! Hope your #writemotivation goals are going swimmingly!

*God help me, it KILLS me to spell it that way.

Reading List – Mini-Reviews

Well, I guess it’s a good thing when I’m two weeks into 2012 and have made considerable headway on one of my goals. Granted, it’s my “read everything I own that I haven’t read yet” goal, which is probably the easiest one on there, but still! I’m accomplishing something!

Here’s a brief update on a few of the books I’ve read since posting the list:

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
I started this back before Christmas and have been steadily making headway on it for the better part of a month. Not surprising, considering it’s a 1000-page behemoth, and it is dense.

The Wise Man’s Fear and its predecessor, The Name of the Wind, are quite possibly some of the best fantasy novels of the last few years. It’s rare to see a fantasy novel told in first-person POV, but Rothfuss makes it work.

He does get a little too much into describing things, and I do think he could stand to shave a few thousand words off the next book, but by and large, if you are at all into fantasy and you haven’t picked up this series, you need to remedy that now.

One unexpected bonus in (finally) finishing the book: this Penny Arcade comic makes a lot more sense now.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This was a surprisingly brisk and refreshing read, especially after The Wise Man’s Fear. As a shameless geek, I enjoyed it thoroughly. I didn’t get all the references — I was a bit too young when the ’80s ended for that — but it was a lot of fun nonetheless.

I did have some problems with it from a technical standpoint — far too much time was spent with Wade as Exposition Man, for example. I found myself skimming at a lot of these points, especially the points where he has to stop and explain certain gaming mechanics and history to ensure the non-geeks can follow along.

Overall, though, I really, really liked it, and if you’re at all into the geeky side of life, pick this up.

The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson
I love the Mistborn series so very, very much, as you may be able to tell from the picture on my “About” page. So, it’s understandable that another book in that world has been in my to-read list since I found out it existed.

Unlike Mistborn, this is more of a steampunk/western romp than a fantasy epic. Action, suspense, betrayal, deceit, and a bit of romance…all of it comes together to make a wonderful, entertaining book that I practically flew through, finishing it in less than a day.

Plus, I love the little additions they have: the old newspaper pages interspersed throughout the book, the maps at the beginning, and as always, the Ars Arcanum that Sanderson includes at the end of each of his novels that sums up the magic system in a bit more detail.

I really, really hope there’s a sequel, not just because of the questions left unanswered at the end of the book, but also because I really want to spend more time with the characters created here. Wax, Wayne, and Marasi made a great team.

Have you guys read anything good lately?

Books, books, books, books, BOOKS!

You may recall that one of my goals for this year was to read all the unread books currently mocking me from my bookshelf.

I have a terrible habit of collecting books — borrowed from friends, sampled on the Kindle, picked up at the used bookstore (God save me from the used bookstore; I never leave without at least 3 books in hand) — and then not reading them. Either I get distracted by something else (like NaNoWriMo or Doctor Who), or I just find about 15 other books that I want to read FIRST.

Well, I’m going to try to fix that this year.

Books I want to read in 2012

These are the books I want to read in the next year, organized in 3 columns: fiction books, nonfiction books, and books I have already finished in the past 2 months. Let’s see if we can get that third column a little taller, shall we?

Kindle books:
As You Like It by William Shakespeare
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole

Fiction:
Endymion by Dan Simmons
The Ancient by R.A. Salvatore
Long Lost by David Morrell
A Coral Kiss by Jayne Ann Krentz
If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (I don’t want to hear a damn word.)
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson
The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

Nonfiction
The Pirate Queen: Queen Elizabeth I, Her Pirate Adventurers, and the Dawn of Empire by Susan Ronald
Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain
Scene & Structure by Jack Bickham
Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler
EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey
Story by Robert McKee

Books already read:
Miss Wonderful by Loretta Chase
The Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia Quinn
Waiting for Nick and Considering Kate by Nora Roberts
Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey
Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook (Kindle)

I’ve actually made headway on this; Heart of Steel was added to the “read” pile on the first day of January (Short review: Find it and its predecessor, The Iron Duke, and read them NOW.).

Next up on my list is probably going to be The Wise Man’s Fear, or at least I will try to make a dent in that behemoth.

What are you reading? Got any recommendations for me to add to the list?