As most of you know, I took last week off for a post-book vacation. It was awesome, very refreshing, and I only had to wrestle 3-4 manticores. Usually I have to take care of at least five a week, so that was a nice break.
But since I got back, things in my personal life have been hectic. Nothing dramatic. It's just a mix of prior commitments, catching up on what I missed while I was gone, and some random family crap all coming up this week.
Bottom line: this week was a lot harder than I expected. However, catching up on work has meant also catching up on the fan response to Underlord.
You all are amazing.
I came back to an endless stream of encouragement. A truly crazy number of positive reviews, messages expressing excitement, and so much discussion of the story that I couldn't read it all.
I'm just very grateful for you guys right now. You've been more supportive of me than I deserve, and I thank you.
[No spoilers, just my impressions.]
Every once in a while, when I'm watching a movie and a line of dialogue is especially wooden, cliché, on-the-nose, or just plain stupid, I say "gross" out loud. It's a reflex. I don't know I'm doing it.
I said "gross" a lot during this movie.
I'm usually not one to throw stones about dialogue, because Lord knows it's not like my characters belong in a Tarantino movie. But there were a few lines in Captain Marvel that...stood out in an unfortunate manner.
That's my least-important observation out of the way. The bulk of the movie was just forgettable. It's a bland sandwich. I can't picture myself ever watching this again, and I can't imagine a reason to do so.
There were some fundamental story issues I had with it; for instance, the film pretends that the heroine goes through an arc, but she doesn't, which robs the ending of all tension or emotional weight. She's the same person in the first scene that she is in the last, barring only superficial changes.
That's an example, and I could go on, but there's really no point. The underlying story structure of the movie wasn't as broken as many others, and that's too much of an intellectual argument anyway.
Let's get to the heart of it: it was boring. I was bored.
Most of the action sequences are chase scenes with no stakes. If the good guys fail to catch the bad guys...so what? I'm not led to believe that something terrible is going to happen. Just that the chase will go on. So the chases feel pointless.
Carol (Captain Marvel) is the strongest person around from the very beginning, so I'm never afraid she's going to lose a fight. In fact, there are a few times where the movie pretends she's going to lose, but it's contradictory to the powers she already has--she gets physically restrained by ordinary humans at one point in the middle.
Whenever we watch any solo superhero movie, we know they're going to win in the end. In that sense, there should be no tension. But there usually is, because the story is told well, and emphasizes what's at stake and how the heroes might lose if they don't dig deep and evolve beyond the person they were.
Here's the bottom line: my sister was really looking forward to Marvel's first solo superheroine movie, and she was excited to buy a Captain Marvel cosplay to wear to conventions this year. She usually goes as Wonder Woman, or Belle, or Rey.
When she walked out of the theater this time, she said, "Man, I'm glad I didn't buy that costume."
This will probably not surprise you, but to my great excitement, Underlord was the biggest and most successful launch we've ever had.
It's been vastly out-selling what Ghostwater had sold at this point, and worked its way up the Amazon rankings to the #5 best-selling book overall. Out of all books on Kindle.
More amazing than that, though (to me), was how long it stayed up in the rankings. As of this time, Underlord is still in the Top 100 on Amazon. It has been there all week. That is many times longer than any other of my books have stayed on that list.
Even on top of that, you all have been incredible with the reviews. It has surpassed Soulsmith and Skysworn in number of reviews already, and is on its way for Blackflame.
425 reviews in a week is just not right. It's too fast. You've broken some kind of natural law. And for it to still be at a 5.0 review average after 425 reviews makes me wonder if somehow a wizard got involved.
So from the bottom of my heart: thank you! I've interacted with many of you over the past week, and the response to this book has really blown me away (not literally, don't worry). I'm honored by you reading my stories at all, and the fact that you enjoy them is what makes this fun for me.
As a small celebration, we're giving away the Traveler's Gate Trilogy Collection ebook over this weekend (March 9th and 10th). So for the next two days, my whole first trilogy will be available for free. Just take it.
I'm not sure what else to do or say. This has been awesome!
P.S. I'm going on vacation for a week starting tomorrow, so I'll be out of touch. I'm therefore scheduling my review of Captain Marvel, which several of you requested, to go up while I'm gone. That doesn't mean I'm around! It just means I scheduled a post.
Underlord is now available in most (maybe all?) regions! If you pre-ordered, you should have it already, and if you haven't...you can get it now!
Now I'm going to sleep! Talk to you tomorrow!
When a new ebook is released, before it has a paperback edition, Amazon estimates how long it will be in pages. Usually they guess low, so the "page count" is often inaccurate.
Once there's a paperback edition of that book, Amazon updates to using the paperback page count, which is correct. But because each printing and edition of any book can have wildly different page counts, writers and editors tend to use word count to describe the length of a book rather than pages.
With that in mind, I'd like to give you the length of all six books in Cradle thus far (according to my original Word files):
Book 1, Unsouled: 89,097
Book 2, Soulsmith: 86,534
Book 3, Blackflame: 111,484
Book 4, Skysworn: 86,760
Book 5, Ghostwater: 90,870
Book 6, Underlord: 103,130
TOTAL: 567,875 words
Hey, we've crossed half a million words!
With only a week to go before the release of Underlord, I was trying to decide what preview I should share with you.
Then I had an epiphany! I epiphanated all over the couch. It was messy.
Travis Baldree, the awesome narrator of the Cradle audiobooks, has been sending me some last-minute typos and corrections as he recorded the Underlord audio. So I thought I'd share with you the lines that got changed out of context and you can milk them for spoilers!
Also, on the night of February 28th, I'll be reading the first Lindon chapter aloud on the Discord of Dubious Intent at about 10 PM EST! And then I'll probably be chilling on voice chat for the next five hours until the book comes out at 3 AM my time.
Discord invite: https://discord.gg/6AyYFER (I don't know how Discord works, so if this isn't right, just...figure it out.)
[EDIT: The Discord link keeps breaking, and I don't know if that's because it's inherently temporary or if too many people have used it. I've changed it one last time, because Little Blue has put effort into getting a new one, but I don't have time to keep replacing the link. When this breaks, it will be 'figure it out' time.]
[OBLIGATORY SPOILER WARNING EVEN THOUGH THE SPOILERS ARE MILD]
Page 40: "...if it drew on itself for power, it would only last for a few days before needing replaced." >>> "...before needing to be replaced."
Page 64: "Cycling aura here will be much faster here than back home..." >>> "...here will be much faster than back home..."
Page 68: "The second step of the [SPOILER MAN]'s instruction was set of soulfire control techniques..." >>> "...was a set of...
Page 108: "Her father was a significant figure in the Naru clan, and had taken to direct their defenses." >>> "...taken to directing their defenses..."
Page 146: "They didn't believe her, though she wasn't taking the situation seriously." >>> "...thought she wasn't taking..."
Page 147: "...languish the second prince with praise..." >>> Curse you, autocorrect. "Lavish."
Page 148: "Charity says" >>> "Charity said"
Page 178: "[SHE] abandons her advancement seeks a hearing with her own mother." >>> "advancement, seeks"
Many of you have been waiting for the big announcement I’ve been teasing for today, and now I’m thrilled to announce: I have Hamilton tickets for tonight!
I knew you’d be excited!
I’ve never liked musicals, but that’s only because they usually stop the story dead for the musical numbers. Don’t give me music, give me story.
But my sister’s been obsessed with the Hamilton soundtrack for over a year now, so when she finally tied me down and forced it into my ears, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it’s, you know, awesome.
It’s won so many awards that I knew it would be a top-notch production, but I had no idea how great the storytelling would be.
So when I found out there was a Hamilton showing coming to Orlando in February, I immediately booked tickets! And tonight, the time has finally come!
I’m especially looking forward to it because there’s a lot of story information that the soundtrack alone doesn’t give you, so I can’t wait to get the full picture.
And I knew you guys would be excited on my behalf!
P.S. Also, Underlord March 1st.
Only one more week before there's real book news, so definitely don't look for any book news in this post. Just my impressions about a new video game.
Yesterday, the standalone sequel to Subnautica, entitled Subnautica: Below Zero, entered Early Access on PC.
Subnautica is a survival game about crash-landing on an ocean planet and surviving in an alien ocean while unraveling the mystery of what caused your ship to crash and figuring out how to get off the planet. It's one of my favorite games of all time because of how immersive it is; the environment design is insane, and it really conveys the feeling of being alone in an alien ocean.
It's scared me more than any horror game ever has, and it's not technically horror. You just don't know what could be beneath you in the ocean as you're swimming along. Hearing strange noises.
I initially found Subnautica shortly after it was released in Early Access, and I fell in love with it when it was unbelievably buggy and had no content. Every patch, I played through it again, because I was hunting for those little moments when I was lost in a dark ocean shivering because I was sure there was something behind me and I didn't want to turn around to see what it was.
Below Zero is already far more complete than the original game was in its first release, which is to be expected for a sequel made using the original engine and assets. The first game is a survival game with a story, while this strikes me more as a story game with survival.
You play as a researcher in the arctic of the same ocean planet, and this time you're exploring the depths of a freezing ocean while investigating the history of some alien artifacts. Your character actually has lines and personality this time, and she interacts with her sister, who monitors her progress from an orbital station.
There are only about three hours of story content in the game so far, but I've already played it for about five, just building and seeing what new arctic creatures I can find.
If underwater alien survival sounds appealing to you, I highly recommend giving Subnautica a try if you haven't already. And if you have, Below Zero is shaping up to be a worthy sequel.
Screenshot below, just to prove that I'm telling the truth. Nothing to see there except a really cool video game.
I ordered those limited-edition Most Stuf Oreos, and they still haven't come in yet. They were supposed to have arrived today, but when I checked my doorstep, the only package was for tools I didn't want.
Is there anything worse than waiting for news you're really excited for, only to get something uninteresting and mundane instead?
I just can't stand those people that make you think you're about to get the news you want to hear, but no, it's just another day waiting.
You guys wouldn't know what that's like.
...on a totally unrelated note, I met with The Team today. I know when I'll be able to share news. Those of you on my Facebook page my have noticed a countdown. You may have noticed that, if the pattern continues, it will end on a certain Friday soon.
When that day comes, there may or may not be news.
And hopefully by then, I'll have my Oreos.
"The sea was empty."
84% of draft
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