Book Review- Mistborn: Secret History by Brandon Sanderson

Hellooooo Blogland!

Sorry for the delay. I’ve been doing a TON of edits on The Steel Armada, and fully expect to be done with it before the week is out.

Let me just say that one more time.Keepin it classy

I am going to be done with the second draft of my novel sometime this week…

WHAAAAAAT?

Ahem.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to. For those of you who follow me on Goodreads, you’ll even see that my reading has slowed considerably, although I think I should be done with House of Many Ways by Wednesday.

So, let’s talk about this thing! This thing being Brandon Sanderson’s newest novella, Mistborn: Secret History.

Let me start now by saying that, if you haven’t read the original Mistborn trilogy, DO NOT read this review. Pretty much, this novella can not exist without the original trilogy, and honestly, would make a ton of sense without the Wayne and Wax books. If you’re not caught up, turn back now!

Last chance…

Ok! Here we go!Secret-History-cover

So, this novella, which was actually quite long, follows Kelsier after his death at the hands of the Lord Ruler.

Yup. You read that right.

This book is weird. It doesn’t follow Sanderson’s typical storytelling methods, and it reads a bit rough.

Kelsier basically talks his way out of passing into the true afterlife, and gets stuck in limbo. From there he’s able to witness the events of the original trilogy, and even has a very important role in the outcome.

To be honest, I’m not going to be able to rehash this tale in my usual detail. It’s too convoluted and complex. I’m still not entirely sure of everything that happened, so you’re going to have to read it yourself.

Some things I want to mention:

Despite my undying love for all things Mistborn, especially Kelsier, I’m still not sure how I feel about this story. There were a lot of moments where I wasn’t sold on the writing. A first for me when it comes to Sanderson. I think that’s directly linked to the lack of worldbuilding in this novella. In limbo, everything is just mist, occasionally taking on the reverse forms of the real world. Also, Kell is alone for most of the story. He’s a fantastic character, and by the end I remembered why I love him so much, and was so glad to have his continued story, but a novella of mostly monologue was…

Slow.

That being said, there’s a ton of Cosmere references in this story. As a reminder, the Cosmere is the universe that all of Sanderson’s major works take place in. There’s a larger plot concerning the Cosmere as a whole, but it’s not remotely clear yet, and won’t be until all the worlds and books are explored. I was dying to understand what was happening, and I know there were some heavy drops sprinkled in. I just don’t know enough to recognize them yet.

And, I do think my distance from the original trilogy made reading this story more difficult. I didn’t remember a lot of the more subtle moments, or the less momentous. Even though I’ve read them three times, I never can quite remember all the minutia.

Anyway, the story follows Kelsier post-death as he follows the events of the trilogy. So you’re seeing the events of Mistborn: The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, and The Hero of Ages from his spiritual perspective. He has limited vision and hearing, and he can’t really communicate with the living, so his point of view is a very different and complex take on the trilogy.

But, it does explain some key elements from the original novel, and hints that not everything is as it seems in the Wayne and Wax books.

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Mistborn: The Final Empire Brazilian cover art by Marc Simonetti

That’s right. Kelsier never actually acquiesces his soul, so he’s still roaming limbo, using his limited abilities to effect the living. I’m not sure what all he’s done, but I have a feeling, if I reread some, I can find him, pulling string from beyond the grave.

But, the real highlight of this story for me was seeing Vin and Elend again. Post-death. I cried, just like I cry every time they die. It was so bittersweet, because Kelsier’s affection for Vin is much better explored and fleshed out. It was rough on my emotions. As usual with these characters.

So, without context, this book absolutely does not work. And honestly, if you’re just a casual fan of the original trilogy, I’m not sure you’d like it. This novella poses a lot of deep questions and toys with what you think you know upon completing the trilogy. It’s not for the faint of heart.

But, if you’re in this deep, like me, then it’s worthwhile. For me, it felt like stolen time. Kelsier was the first Sanderson character I fell in love with. He was my favorite, and he still has a special place in my heart. So, spending so much uninterrupted time with him was magical, even if the ramifications this novella causes are mind-numbing.

And I think that’s really the best part. This novella was incredibly nostalgic for me, while offering up a ton of information and questions for the continuation of not just the Mistborn series, but the Cosmere at large.

So, if you’re like me, and all caught up and dying for any kind of answers, give this novella a try. It’ll confuse you, but it will give you at least some sort of answers while we wait for the last Wayne and Wax book.

I plan on finishing House of Many Ways by Wednesday night, so I should have a book review out on Thursday. From there I’m reading Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey. From there, I’m not entirely sure.

See you soon, Blogland, and as always, thanks for reading!

 

BZ

Book Review- The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson

Blogland!

I literally just finished reading The Bands of Mourning, and I’m at a loss for what else I could possibly do besides talk about this book, RIGHT NOW!

Now, I realize not everyone can read with the fervor I did, so if you’re not finished yet, and don’t want to be spoiled (and you don’t), then turn back now. No one will blame you.BandsofMourning_cover.jpg

After his wedding is sabotaged by a tumbling water tower Wax and Friends find themselves on a sort of Archaeological expedition, hunting down the fabled Bands of Mourning. They’re said to be the Lord Ruler’s bracers (bracers being the metal forearm bands that store Feruchemical ability).

Ok, I just realized that, unless you’re pretty well versed in your Mistborn lore, this is going to get confusing.

Anyway, the Kandra tried to get Wax to hunt down Mr. Suit (Wax’s Uncle, and the main villain of the series so far) in order to retrieve one of their brother’s Hemalurgic spikes. That’s the deal-y that grants sentience to the Kandra. ReLuur lost his when he was attacked by the Set, the folks Mr. Suit works for, after discovering the lost temple of the Lord Ruler. Insane and rambling without his spike, ReLuur is less than useful in providing information that could lead the Kandra to either his spike or the temple.

But, since the events of the last book, Wax is less than amenable to the whims of the Kandra or Harmony. He staunchly refuses, and so they turn to Marasi. Which really isn’t fair, because she of course says yes, which of course means Wax and Wayne are going too. Damn, sneaky Kandra.

So, Wax ends up traveling with Marasi to New Seran. Which means that Wayne, MeLaan, and Steris all went too. Which was nice. A nice big group on an even bigger adventure!

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Had to snap this one myself, apparently the internet hasn’t consumed it yet.

This book only spends a very small amount of time in Elendel, and focuses mainly on the Southern reaches of the Basin. New territory for the series thus far, and very interesting to see. While New Seran itself was charming, and place I’d love to see explored further, Wax and Co. don’t linger long. As endearing as a town built on a series of waterfalls is, it’s pretty hard to sight-see when you’ve been framed for murder.

Poor Wax can never just enjoy himself…

So the group flees in the night, heading Northeast toward the last known whereabouts of Mr. Suit. But what they find there isn’t Wax’s Uncle, but something far more interesting. And world-shattering.

Hidden in a remote warehouse, the Set is working on refurbishing a humongous ship. But Dulsing, the village the Set commandeered, is as landlocked as they come. Well, as the gang soon discovers, this is no ordinary ship. It doesn’t need water, seeing as it flies. And how does it do that?

Why, with Allomancy, of course!

So, after a wild gunfight, Wax and Friends load onto the ship, adding Wax’s sister Telsin to their company, as well as a man named Aliik. He’s a “Southerner”, someone who lives outside of the Basin, and it’s his people’s ship they’re stealing.

Now, a moment to discuss Aliik and just how crucial he is. While his understanding of Allomancy and Feruchemy are unique, showing that the Southerners view The Metallic Arts quite differently than those in the Basin, he’s much more important than that. Aliik’s very existence pulls the entire understanding of Scadrial into question. Wax and Marasi feel this most keenly, being the most intellectual ones of the group. There’s an entire race of folks whose entire history and customs are different than their own. And they have their own technologies and religions. This is incredibly important and mind-bending stuff for the people of the Elendel Basin. The ramifications don’t really get explored here, but by the end of the novel, it’s plain it’ll come up in the next book.Elendel Basin

Ahem, back to the topic at hand. So, they fly away, and though it’d probably be best to head back to Elendel and get reinforcements, there’s not really time. So they fly straight to the mountaintop temple thanks to Aliik and Telsin’s knowledge after being held captive by Mr. Suit and Co.

They get there first, just barely, and proceed through various booby-traps to get to the chamber where the Bracers should be. Except they’re not there. And they never were.

This is where the avalanche happens. Not a literal avalanche, although that was likely, seeing as they’re on top of a frigging mountain. I’m speaking of the Sanderson Avalanche. That wondrous whirlwind of plot points and details, where everything you thought you understood comes together in ways you never could have imagined.

As usual, Sanderson’s novel took a turn that blew my mind, and had me screaming as I read along. Characters are tested, and thus do things you didn’t think them capable of. Wayne in particular has such a moment, and I was at once proud and utterly heartbroken for him.

In fact, looking back, this is a very transformative story for Wayne. He grows a lot, and in ways I wouldn’t have expected. Seeing as he’s my favorite character, possibly of all time, this was an emotional story for me.

Anyway, I don’t want to spoil the avalanche. That’s just asking for bad juju. And if you think the avalanche was mind blowing, just wait for the epilogue. It basically takes everything you think you know about the Mistborn series and says, “There’s always another secret.”

Wax and Co
Awesome cartoon featuring (left to right) Steris, Marasi, Wax, and Wayne. By the talented Maki- check her out  here!

So, some points that aren’t spoiler related. Things I can talk freely about. This book was back in the swing of a high-action, Wild West train ride. The Bands of Mourning felt much more like The Alloy of Law. It was fast-paced, fun, and full of great banter and character interactions. There were tender moments, and much more crassness than I remember in the first two. It was just an incredibly fun book. Unlike Shadows of Self, which was straightforward, very dark, and soul-searching.

And The Bands of Mourning sets the tone for the final book in this series, The Lost Metal. As Sanderson calls it in his Postscript, “The epic finale of Mistborn: Era 2“. I guess that’s the official title for the Wayne and Wax books, now.

Another thing, this book is incredibly lore heavy. I remember thinking that Shadows of Self was a sharp swerve from the episodic and casual manner of The Alloy of Law, instead delving into the depths of Scadrial’s history and legends. Well, The Bands of Mourning makes Shadows look more like the kiddie pool. Events from the original Mistborn trilogy aren’t just mentioned, they’re critical to the plot and continue to be fleshed out. By the end of this book, things I thought were fact at the end of the original trilogy are now entirely up in the air.

Secret-History-coverWhich is where Mistborn: Secret History comes in. What’s this, you ask? Why, a novella that Sanderson is releasing, via ebook only, on Saturday. He didn’t announce it until Bands released, and he added a warning. That, though this novella is set during the original trilogy, it does contain spoilers for The Bands of Mourning.

Whaa..?

Basically, I ordered it immediately, and am now so grateful. If I had to wait a whole year (or more) to get any sort of answers after that epilogue, I would be about as sensible as ReLuur sans spike.

So, all in all, I adored this book. It was a return to the tone and pace that made The Alloy of Law my favorite book. Although I think I can safely say that The Bands of Mourning has usurped its predecessors in that regard. That wild west roller coaster feeling, where every page promises some new development. The faith that Wax can solve every problem, even if we’re not sure how he’ll do it just yet. And in this book, Wax’s decimated heart is rejuvenated. Watching him rise above such anger and loathing was really satisfying for me, especially since the last book had such a powerful effect on my emotions.

So hurry up and get caught up already!

 

BZ

Book Review- Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

Now, if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know I am a Brandon Sanderson fan. Like, the foaming at the mouth, squealing uncontrollably variety.

Me when someone mentions Sanderson.
Me when someone mentions Sanderson.

Anyway, Sanderson just released Shadows of Self on October 6th, which I’ve been counting down to ever since he announced it back in December of last year. Again, if you’ve been reading along, I’ve talked at length about The Alloy of Law, and it’s probably my favorite book of my adult life. Shadows of Self is the sequel, which I’ve waited four years for.

Brandon toured in support of the release, and he made a stop in Portland, so like any good fangirl, I requested the night off work and drove my happy ass on up.

Shadows of Self Release
#ShadowsofSelfie

As usual at these things, I met all kinds of people, some of them calm and nice, and just a little nerdy. Others… well, they are deeply entrenched in this fandom, same as me, but man are they vocal about it! It’s always fun to eavesdrop on the overflowing enthusiasm of these folks, and me and the fellow seated next to me giggled a lot.

Brandon talked a bit, and gave a really nice lecture about the power of fiction to cross distances, time, and cultures to give people something in common. In short, about fiction’s ability to bring people together. He spoke about nerdom’s recent trend of exclusion, and how quick we are to judge someone’s nerd level, and how eager we can be to find them lacking. He spoke against it, begged us to be more inclusive. And I gotta say, Sandersonites (yes, that’s how we refer to ourselves) are one inclusive bunch. We desperately want people to read Sanderson, we brag about him to any and everyone. And we’re more than happy to educate others on the intricacies of the Cosmere. And once we’re all on the same page, we start theorizing wildly!
SandersonPowells2015

Then he answered some questions, which I rarely participate in, mainly because I can never think of a question good enough. And then he read a chapter from the next Stormlight book, and I grinned the entire time! I am so excited for that book! Then came the signing, which took a while, so I read while I waited.

And then this magic happened:
SandersonFunPic

And of course I tweeted all of these things, and Brandon even retweeted a couple of them. So, needless to say, I was in fangirl heaven for the next 24 hours or so.

Now, on to the actual review! As per usual, there are massive spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk!
Shadows-of-Self_Mistborn_Sanderson

So, the book opens about a year after the events of The Alloy of Law. Marasi finished her schooling, but left her solicitor dreams behind to work in Elendel’s constabulary. She was hired on at a fairly high level, which has definitely stepped on a few toes in the precinct. But, she’s holding her own and proving her worth.

Wayne moved in to Wax’s mansion, where he proves to be a consistent, and much loved, pain in the ass.

Wax has been made an honorary constable, which allows him to continue his detective shenanigans, and keep him occupied while Steris continues to plan the wedding.

Yes, that’s still a thing. I hated Steris at the end of The Alloy of Law, but by the end of this book, I saw her in a totally different light, and I actually really like her.

Now, Alloy felt fairly episodic. Though it referenced from and drew heavily on the Mistborn trilogy, it was it’s own stand alone story. And that was how Sanderson originally intended it. But, as Wax’s story continues, Shadows suddenly becomes a very “Cosmere” story. If you haven’t read the original Mistborn trilogy, much of Shadows won’t make sense. The Kandra feature heavily in this story, and beloved characters from the original trilogy make an appearance in this novel.

Which was awesome! And now I want a SoonieCub so bad! (A stuffed animal based on the character in Shadows).

Anyway, Wax and company discover that there’s a plot against the Governor of Elendel, and they endeavor to save him from a homicidal kandra.

Now, about kandra. They’re immortal shapeshifters, which makes finding and killing them damn near impossible. So this book is full of brutal gunfights, insane Allomantic battles, and a ton of suspicion, paranoia, and plot twists.

Shadows wasn’t so much the wild train ride that Alloy was, and it’s actually a really heavy story. Wax’s faith in Harmony gets thoroughly rattled, if not completely obliterated. And by the end of the book, I didn’t even blame him.

Side note: it’s really strange to witness a character that was so wise and kind in one series intentionally hurt a beloved character in another one. My love for them conflicts, and my logical brain tells me that Sazed/Harmony wouldn’t do this to Wax if there was any other way. In a really strange turn of fictional events, I just need to have faith.

Now, there is a HUGE spoiler at the end of this novel. Like, just this monstrously awful thing that’s sort of gnawing away at my soul, even now. I’m not going to talk about it here, because it’s that big, and because it physically hurts me to think about it too much. To the point where, when I finished the novel last night, this happened:
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All in all, I adored this book. I fully intend to reread Alloy and Shadows, because the second read through always reveals something new. As Kelsier said, “there’s always another secret”. I’m betting Shadows has a few more I can figure out before Bands of Mourning releases in January.

And you better believe I am counting down to that release!
Wax and Wayne (Mistborn)

Thanks, as usual, for getting this far. I highly recommend this book, but you will need to do your background reading first, or else it’s just going to be a REALLY steep learning curve.

The Book Club meets tomorrow night to discuss The Perks of Being a Wallflower, so you’ll hopefully hear from me sooner than later!

BZ

My Reading List Keeps Growing!

Guys! Guys, guys, guys!

I am so excited right now! Like, drawing attention to myself in the Starbucks lobby as I fangirl and foam at the mouth, excited!

I popped over to Brandon Sanderson’s website to check-in with his progress meters, because they don’t show up on his mobile site. So, I’m skimming through blog posts, and see that he’s done a 2014 summary, as well announced his projects for 2015…

Guys! He’s releasing two, dos, deux, zwei, TWO Mistborn books next year! Both of them Wayne and Wax novels, AKA sequels to The Alloy of Law! And he admitted that there will be a fourth and final book in that series somewhere down the line.

Firefight-by-Brandon-Sanderson
Guys! I am wigging out right now. Add to it that Firefight, the sequel to Steelheart comes out next week, and I have a deadline to meet! I can’t be stuck reading Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café when a new Brandon Sanderson book is released!

Also, his list of projects is so overwhelming. He has so much going on and I am so excited for all of them!

The weekend before last found me traipsing around Portland with Trevor and his parents. And if I’m in Portland, I’m stopping at Powell’s. Trevor grumbles as he follows me about the metropolis of books, but I think he secretly enjoys it. I don’t know how he couldn’t. Any place that packed with books is too magical to dismiss lightly. I think he mostly worries about our bank account when I’m there.

This last trip I only bought five books. He thought it was a lot, but I promised him it could have been so, so much more.
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If we lived anywhere near this book mecca, I’m certain I’d be begging on the corner within days. Above you’ll see my five finds. The top two are starts to series I’ve been meaning to try. Year Zero is a sci-fi that’s been chilling on my goodreads “to read” list for far too long. Castings was a lucky find. I’d never heard of it before, but upon reading the back cover, and leafing through the pages, I’m pretty stoked to tear into it.

It’s the bottom book that is my true treasure however. It’s a hardback copy of both Legion and The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson. I already own, and had signed, a paperback copy of The Emperor’s Soul, but could only find Legion as an ebook. And if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know I don’t do ebooks, if it can be helped. And so I’ve never read Legion, but snatched up this copy for $10!

It’s perfect timing, because the sequel was just released, and I can get a hardback copy from Powell’s!

But, before I can tear into any of these, I have to finish the current Book Club book. I’m almost halfway there, and am feeling motivated to get it out of the way. School starts in a couple of weeks, and my reading time will be hurt because of it. At least, my pleasure reading will be.

Today I plan to start edits on A Stranger Comes Knocking. I’m feeling confident as far as readability and grammar stuff, it’s content I’m worried about. I fear the story may have taken a direction Caladria isn’t really looking for…

The only way to find out is to edit it up and send it off. For all I know they’ll be pleasantly surprised, and they might really enjoy my spin on events. I don’t know.

I have an hour or so today, and about four hours tomorrow to work on the story. My goal is to turn it in before work tomorrow. And since I can’t seem to focus, I’m gonna get some lunch.

Have a great day, Blogland!

BZ

Insomnia and the Trouble with Endings

It’s one of those nights. When thoughts trickle in through the seams of my brain, persistent like the drip of a leaky sink. The nights that curse me once or twice a month. Blame it on the caffeine, or over stimulation. Or call it by name.

Insomnia.

By definition I’m convinced that every person in the world struggles with insomnia. It’s not just the inability to fall asleep, but also difficulty staying asleep. Who hasn’t dealt with that from time to time? I will say that, once I’m out, I’m down for the count. Very little can interrupt me once I’m asleep. But, I’ll hear phones vibrate on the night stand, and awaken immediately for my alarm. I am not a snooze button kind of girl. However, I still consider myself a sound sleeper. I usually feel rested in the morning, and I don’t wake up sporadically.

But, there are nights, like this one, where the inner monologue just won’t stop.

This blog has seen its fair share of late night musings. They tend to be more poetic than the posts written during the day, but they also tend to make a lot less sense. Ramblings is a good term for them.

So. what has me riled up tonight?

You’re going to think me silly. I slipped up. I let myself play Mass Effect before finishing ‘Cards’. That’s right. Only one chapter and an epilogue left to write, and I didn’t do it. Instead I’ve spent about 10 hours finishing my second play through of my favorite game of all time. For those of you not in the gaming world, the last installment of the Mass Effect trilogy was a bit controversial. You see, most fans found the ending to be vague, and disappointing. And while I agreed with them from a player’s perspective, I saw the vision and the beauty from a writer’s perspective. This unique blend of perception allowed me to appreciate an ending to a most beloved series that the rest of the world hated.

They hated it so much that they took to the internet and demanded the developers fix it. We can stay up all night discussing the implications of such behavior, but that’s not what I’m really here for tonight. The development team stood by their ending, refusing to alter it in any significant way, but they did release DLC (downloadable content) that would add a few more cut scenes and more dialogue to deal with some of the ambiguity.

This game was released in March of 2012. The Extended Cut, as the revised ending is called, was released in June of the same year. Over the past two years I’ve downloaded all other available content, and have finally played them all. And tonight I was so excited to finally get some answers. I was ready. I could play it again, and ride the roller coaster of emotions that is the end of this trilogy. And so I played for almost six hours straight tonight. Only to discover, as the ending played out before me, that I never downloaded the Extended Cut.

This is what has me so pumped up.

How? Why?

I thought I downloaded it, obviously. But, as I think back, now that I know the DLC isn’t there, I remember thinking, “I’m not ready. I don’t want to play it yet, I’m not ready.” And so, out of a sense of emotional unpreparedness, I never downloaded the augmented ending. But, since we moved we haven’t connected the XBOX 360 to the internet, because we’re on the XBOX One much more. Without the internet, I couldn’t check to see what DLC was still available to me.

What this means is that I will have to play another additional three hours, after downloading the Extended Cut.

I’m trying to tell myself this isn’t a bad thing. It means I get to play again. I get to see all these wonderful characters, and interact with them. Again. But the thing is, the last three hours or so of Mass Effect 3 are hard on my soul.

I don’t want to get into details, because if you don’t know the characters, you won’t care. Some day, I’ll forgive you for that. But, there are two characters that I cherish more than any others. They are my wing-men. And one of them is my character’s romantic interest. They go on every mission with me, in every single installment of the game. My boys. And to go into the end sequence, which we all know is more than likely a suicide mission, is just downright painful.

Goodbyes, and lingering glances laced with things left unspoken.

You’re thinking I’ve lost my mind. That all of this can’t be in a video game. But, there are those that say these same experiences aren’t in books, and we both know they’re just flat out wrong. That’s the beauty, and the pure tragedy of good characters. They come to life in our imaginations. Spend enough time with them, and suddenly you know their movements, their every facial expressions, and their exact response to any given situation.

You know it’s true.

And so, playing this ending is painful. Even more so now that Bioware, the company that develops Mass Effect, has officially confirmed that the next installment in the franchise will be with all new characters.

There’s another silver lining I’m trying to convince myself of. All new characters to fall in love with, and new adventures to be had. I did have a thought today though that bolstered me on this subject. I’m a broken record, but I thought of Mistborn. The original trilogy was filled with characters that really moved me, and I loved each of them. The end of that series drives me to tears every time. When Alloy of Law, a book set in the same world, but 300 years later, came out I was excited.

And skeptical.

I could never love these characters the way I loved Vin and Elend. Or Sazed and Kelsier. Never.

Except I do. And would now even venture to say that the Alloy of Law is my favorite book set in the world of Mistborn. Yes, saying goodbye to Commander Shepard and her stalwart crew is painful. It always will be. But, these new characters, and their new adventure? I can’t wait to meet them. To grow to love them all, as much as I love the characters in the current games.

For tonight though, I’m angry and disappointed. All at myself. I spent so much time, only to experience the exact same ending for a second time. The game gives you options for how the game truly ends, but because I thought I had the DLC I chose the same option, in order to see the difference. Well, that didn’t work out.

So now I have to play again, and pick the same ending. Again. Because it’s my ending. The way my heart says it has to be. In the future, with other incarnations of Shepard, I’ll make other decisions. For curiosity’s sake. But, for now, it’s got to be this ending.

I’m supposed to be waking up for work in about four and half hours. Yeah. Another one of those nights. I find that, as I age, sleep just seems less and less important. I can get by on two hours of sleep. In fact, I did it just Tuesday. I slept nine hours last night, but had been up for a straight 22 the day before. And now I’m here, hoping that this post will get the rambling echoes of thought out of my head. That maybe now I can put my head to the cool side of the pillow and feel relaxed.

My eyes are starting to feel sluggish. Unwilling participants in this little exercise. And my head does seem calmer. The sentences don’t flow in that same harried pace, and I can pause to consider my thoughts. But, there’s still a spark in there. I know what it is. It’s the hint of creation. I want to write a Mass Effect fanfiction, but I know better than to go down that path. Fanfiction is the product of obsession. But, I can use this spark. The character that’s caught my eye, that is begging to be written…

I can use him. Not really him, obviously. Not his name, or his abilities. But his essence. I can take the characteristics from him, the things that helped me fall for him in the first place, and put them into someone of my creation. And I have an idea for who.

But, this is a dangerous topic. I’m not quite finished with ‘Cards’ yet. I can’t start working on something new until it’s done. That’s how this writer thing works. At least for me. I’m off again Monday. I’m aiming for completion then. I know it won’t happen before then, since I have to see this Extended Cut, and Trevor and I are both off Sunday.

Monday is the day. I’m feeling good about it. Well, not literally. In fact, I feel rather guilty for putting it off. But, that guilt will help me sit down and write it, once Monday rolls around.

I’m not completely cured of this wakefulness. But it’s definitely better. And this post blossomed into something much larger than I originally anticipated. My mind is settling, which means it’s time to get some sleep.

I’ll see you Monday, Blogland.

 

BZ

Reflections on Sanderson

Hey All,

I finished the Mistborn Trilogy the other day. Though I knew where the ending was headed, it still had a strong effect. I mourned the death of characters I’d spent nearly a month getting to know. I mourned the end a series that taught me so much.

The first time I read the series I’d only just started writing myself. So I read with different eyes. I only saw characters and plots as they related to the enjoyment of the story. But this time, I truly saw the magic and prowess Sanderson possesses.

With new eyes and an expanded mind I read Mistborn. And I saw a world expertly crafted. Believable and concrete. Dying. I met characters, each of them with their own complexities. Even characters who ultimately would die, or prove to not really affect the end of the story, were round and dynamic. And characters that seemed to be introduced as after thoughts unfolded over the course of three books to be heroes and favorites.

The plot, so much less a mystery to me this time around, was still incredibly captivating. I waited, anxious, for scenes I remembered, and ones that my untrained mind had forgotten. My mind now was working overtime to both enjoy the story for what it is, and to simultaneously tear it apart. I had to learn how to craft a world and convey information without seeming to “info dump” which Sanderson does beautifully.

And so the series ended.

With minimal pause, to absorb the ending and allow my mind to think, I moved on to a side novel set in the same world, The Alloy of Law. This novel is much different than the other Mistborn novels. Where the Trilogy was dense and almost hard to read, Alloy flows with a straightforward simplicity. Characters come to life immediately, and conversations are much more informal. Overall, a much more welcoming novel. The reader doesn’t have to work as hard to understand the world, or the magic, though both are more complex after 300 years.

It’s also only about 350 pages. Half the size of any of the Mistborn books.

And so I finished it in less than a day. I appreciate this novel because it’s much more like what I want to write. Reading the Mistborn books, or any of Sanderson’s larger works, is daunting. I can’t imagine writing such complex and long stories. But Alloy of Law is ideal. It sets a standard.

Now I’m reading Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. It’s a staggering 1,252 pages. Apparently the manuscript was over 400,000 words. It’s insane, mind-boggling, and completely terrifying.

I can’t wait!

 

Much love,

BZ

The Annotation Realization

So, I’m currently writing chapter 8, and it’s coming along well, though a little slow. I like what I’ve written so far, and it just feels good.

But, I really wanted to tell you guys about something else. Today, I went to Brandon Sanderson’s website and saw something I hadn’t really paid attention to before. He has annotations on most of his books. The first time I saw those I thought, “why would I want to read annotations?”

Here’s why:

In his annotations, Sanderson reveals what it’s like for a professional writer. It blew my mind. You see, I had, and still have Sanderson on this pedestal. To me he is a fiction god, especially when it comes to world building and magic systems. In my mind, when Brandon Sanderson writes, he sits down, types, hands it to his editor and they say, “All right, Mr. Sanderson, we’ll edit these typos and have it published next week!”

His books come so quickly! He’s a publishing machine! Surely his books don’t take much editing!

But through reading his annotations of the first Mistborn novel, I see that this isn’t the case.

He reveals that some scenes weren’t a part of the original manuscript, and were only created after the suggestion of an editor or agent. In fact, many scenes weren’t anywhere near what he originally wrote. Many of them were altered significantly after the manuscript had already been accepted.

It really was mind blowing for me. I never imagined a world where Sanderson needed help creating his books. But, he even stresses the importance of being a member of a writing group, and expresses his thanks to the people who suggest a new or different scene than the one he originally wrote.

And so, I’ve come to the realization that writing a book might be a one person job, but publishing and editing a book is a team effort.

I really look forward to reading more of his annotations. Every chapter seems to have undergone some sort of change, and it leaves me feeling hopeful that my writing isn’t as god awful as it seems sometimes. Just that it hasn’t been edited yet!

Anyway, I’m using this blog to hide from my novel, and that’s just not right. So, blogland, have a great rest of your day!

 

BZ

Appreciate the Little Things

Today has been an oddly good day!

Now, I would say that I’m a fairly optimistic person. I tend to try and think the best of any given situation or person.

But really, today has been awesome!

I woke up to discover that my cousin is having twins, a boy and a girl. She texted the whole family with an adorable picture of her 4 year old son jumping out of a decorated box holding blue and pink onesies. It was quite adorable.photo-8

Then I did laundry, worked out while I waited for the clothes to finish, and read more of Mistborn.

Ok, it doesn’t seem like anything extraordinary yet, I know. But I’m getting to it!

I get ready for work, and head out to the car. And it was SUNNY! Like blue skies and warm rays! Already I’m feeling like today is gonna be good. So I drive to work with the windows cracked and the moonroof half open, enjoy the day.

THEN, I walk into work and all of my coworkers are clapping for me, for no reason whatsoever. Pretty much the best way to start a workday ever.

So I get my iced coffee (3 pumps classic and cream) and sit down to write. I type away for a few moments, really focusing on how I want chapter four to end, and where Val’s going to go from there. And suddenly it all just clicks! Everything makes sense, and Val and myself are simultaneously renewed with purpose!

And so I close the chapter with that feeling of ominous intent. Danger and intrigue. All that good stuff. As I finish the chapter I look back at the word count for the entire story so far, and see that I’ve crossed the 9,000 word mark!

So, in celebration I clap to myself and start writing this blog, feeling as if every thing is right and good with the world.

Thanks for reading this, and remember to find joy in the little things!

 

BZ

I’m Not Even S’posed to be Here Today!

It’s my day off. The first I’ve had to myself in a very long time.

And I’m sitting in the lobby of Starbucks. And not just any Starbucks, but MY Starbucks. I’m sipping iced coffee like a madwoman hoping that if I just keep typing I’ll come across the solution.

I’m not stuck. Not really. I’ve just hit a road block. My brain has proposed a very logical thought that is preventing me from getting Val to the main plot of the story.

This isn’t anything new. It just means that I’m not familiar enough with either my characters or my setting. And since it’s been less than a week since I’ve started this story, it’s probably both.

I tried to write today at home. When I say “try” I mean to say that I looked at my laptop sitting on the floor of our computer room and cringed. The house is too empty. Too quiet.

My day started by going to the gym with a friend. We did our usual butt-kicking thing, and then I did something I have never done before. I used a tanning bed.

I know, I know. It’s horrible for me and I’ll probably get skin cancer. But you all forget, I’m from ARIZONA! Now I’ve been in Oregon for almost 10 months. It’s 80 degrees back in AZ. It was 52 degrees here today.

Forgive me if I could use a little UV.

So I used a tanning bed. And it was AWESOME! I laid there for five whole minutes (don’t worry, I applied sunscreen) and felt like I was at home. It didn’t take much creativity to imagine that the hot air blowing through the bed was the summer wind whipping at me as I drove down the deserted I-10 in a stripped bare Jeep Wrangler. In fact, that’s where I spent those five minutes. I was traveling at 60 miles per hour, blaring Muse and baking under the desert sun. All was right with the world.

And that’s how I’ve felt all day.

Those five minutes of heated escape have lent me a sense of joy I haven’t had in months. If tanning is wrong, I most definitely don’t want to be right. It was as if my skin were empty. I felt almost itchy and sallow. I don’t know how to explain it, but my skin felt thirsty in a way I’ve never known. And now I just feel like I’ve soaked in everything I’ve ever wanted. Sun-soaked. Quenched. Even now, eight hours later, my skin is still warm to the touch. I’ve absorbed it, and I’ll be damned if I let it go so readily.

Anyway, back to the story.

Without giving too much away, Val is trying to sneak in somewhere, and my brain can’t quite figure out how she can do it. She’s not going to succeed the first time. Or even the second or third time. But I need her to fail in a way that teaches her more about the place but doesn’t get her killed. It’s all a bit vague and frustrating. Eventually, after trying and failing so many times, she’ll realize that she can’t get in alone, and will have to get Ethan to help her.

That in an of itself will be a whole ‘nother problem. But, I’ll deal with it as it comes.

In order to avoid this current problem I spent much of my day reading Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. I’m sure I’ve raved about him in the past, but it can never hurt to remind you all just what a genius he is. This is my second time reading Mistborn and I love it even more! All the details and character development that sucked me in the first time have come even more to life. It’s as if I never knew these characters or what the story was really about. Not really.

It makes me very anxious to re-read Warbreaker and Elantris.

Sanderson is a fiction god, and I worship him daily. Can we just leave it at that?

Anyway, before I get sucked into endless raptures of Sanderson’s works, I have a story to write.

 

BZ

When You Get Stuck…

All right Citizens of Blogland. We need to have a talk.

“About what?” You ask. Surely you’ve done nothing wrong. And indeed you have not. Mostly I will be talking at you about what’s been happening to me and my writing this past week. Remember I said I would have a Craft Discussion up late last week? That never arrived. Also, I usually have a post up outlining what will happen in the blog late Sunday or Monday. This also never happened.

I have neglected you, dear blogizens. And for that apologize. Let me tell you why, and I promise it all comes full circle into both a look into my daily life, and our Craft Discussion. Even if it is a bit late.

So, I went to that workshop I wrote about. It was productive and fun. I got to enjoy a great Thai meal at a restaurant called the Thai Basil in downtown Phoenix (I highly recommend it for those of you in the neighborhood) and had the chance to listen to Patrick Michael Finn read an excerpt of one of his short stories in his new book. Look him up, he’s a great writer and a wonderful person.

That’s all fine and good. So what happened in the interim for all of this to implode?

National Novel Writers Month. I think.

In general I burned out. I’d spent so much time with my story and its characters that I lost sight of everything. I felt trapped by my own story and its world and events, so I rebelled. I stopped writing. I still thought about it constantly, and outlined like no other (thank you Scrivener!), but not a single scene or line of dialogue was created after Friday the fourth. I didn’t even write a blog. I wrote NOTHING. And watch what happened to me as a person.

I stopped listening to Grunge music, which was working as fuel for character and world building. I started listening to Panic! At the Disco and Snow Patrol. Even a little Sufjan Stevens. This, I think was both helpful and detrimental- I’ll come to that later.

I can’t tell you what book I read last or when. I haven’t read a book all semester. And that’s a sad state of affairs. Why do we write? Because we’re avid readers that have more than active imaginations and want to make people feel like our favorite authors make us feel. Reading is inspiration. It makes us better writers. So why on Earth did I stop? I was afraid that if I read while I wrote, my writing wouldn’t sound like me any more, it’d sound like Kevin Brooks, or Charlaine Harris, or Cormac McCarthy. I was afraid to read because I was afraid to write. A vicious and crippling circle.

I began to avoid my novel. It had become work. It wasn’t fun. It was something I felt I had to do. And it depressed me. I felt pent up, anxious, quick tempered, and on the verge of tears at any moment. I felt wrong.

So, how do you solve this problem? Because it happens to all writers eventually. Someone, I can’t remember who, said, “A poem is an affair, a short story a relationship, and a novel a marriage.” I take this to mean that it won’t always be rainbows and butterflies with occasional Unicorns while writing my novel. We’re going to fight, and go to bed angry. And have to compromise. Yes, I’m talking about my novel here. The Honeymoon’s over and now I have to make the marriage work. It’s about commitment.  The long haul of writing.

So, now you know it’s a commitment. What else can you do to overcome the barricade that is the post-Honeymoon stage, when the initial inspiration and fire have died? What do you do to keep the marriage alive?

1. READ! Today a book was released, maybe some of you have already bought it. Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn novel outside of the Trilogy: The Alloy of Law. It’s shorter than the other novels in the series, only 325 pages, and it’s the first thing I’ve really been excited to read all semester. I can’t wait to dig into it! When your inspiration dies, maybe it’s because you haven’t been reading enough. It’s what inspired you in the first place, right?

2. Listen to the music that inspires you (if you’re a writer who finds music inspirational). I woke up this morning with Temple of the Dog’s “All Night Thing” stuck in my head. I knew it was time to return to the music that had helped create Kevin’s world. I feel much better today for having listened to it.

3. Commiserate. In Novel Writing today we were supposed to have a guest speaker, but something went wrong. So instead we talked about where we were at in our novels. How we felt about it. And what we wanted to get out of the class. What we would feel successful with. I was honest about how I felt the novel was a pile of steaming doodoo, and that I was feeling completely down trodden. Turns out pretty much everyone was feeling the same way. We talked about why we felt that way, and ways to make ourselves feel better. Just talking with other writers worked wonders! So if you’re feeling alone and like your work isn’t worth a dime, talk to other writers. Get a community going with writer friends where you meet up or communicate online so that you always have someone to bounce thoughts off of.

4. Take a Break. Sometimes, you really have spent to much time with your work. Step back, do something fun. For instance, listening to other music reminded me of who I am, and helped divide the line between me and my characters. Read books for fun, not to analyze them for elements of writing. Play video games (if that’s what you’re in to). Skyrim comes out tomorrow night, and while my day off Friday is dedicated to typing up my story, Sunday will be all about vegging out with some major RPG action.

I feel better today. Not 100%, but better. I know that my novel’s worth working on. That I am a good writer. But I also know that it’s work. It’s fun, but it’s work. I’m optimistic about writing again, but not ridiculously so. I can do it and that’s all that matters.

Thanks Bloggies,

Brittany