Poll Results! The Winner Is...
All of the above.
I told you, I reserve the right to change my mind. And I have. I said to you, "I'll deliver whichever one was most popular." Instead, I'm going to do all of them.
The votes were clear, but there were passionate advocates for all options involved. So I decided...you know what? I can do them all, I will do them all, and Merry Christmas. I'm starting with the winner, and I'll work my way down the list one at a time.
The first of five planned 100-review rewards will be delivered two days from now. And we're starting off with...
The future of Traveler's Gate.
"But the last time we asked Will for the future of Traveler's Gate, he gave us sphinx riddles and lies! Even his Valin story ended on a cliffhanger!"
No. This is the current introductory information--sort of a trailer in written words, if you will--that sets up the next adventures of Simon and company.
Tell your friends.
A Word from the Darkness
Hey, all! I know it's been quiet from me for the past few weeks, and partially that's because I wanted to leave the Valin scene up so everyone got a chance to see it. But also, I've been keeping busy!
Here's what's up in Will World.
First of all, some of you may be glad to know that the House of Blades audiobook is back on track. I started it last summer expecting to have it out by the fall, but I ended up having to stop recording so that I could focus on OSAS. Now I'm recording again, looking to finish it as fast as I can. So if that's something you're waiting on, it shouldn't be too much longer!
Speaking of waiting, there's another project making progress 'round these parts: the Shadow/Sea paperbacks! I proofed a digital copy of the Sea layout this morning, which means that the physical books are only a few weeks away.
And, because you know I like to rush books out as fast as humanly possible, I'm hard at work on the Elder Empire sequels: Of Dawn and Darkness / Of Darkness and Dawn. With the Empire being torn apart by the warring Guilds, the Elders have started making trouble. Shera and Calder both look for help...but they turn to opposing Guilds for guidance. Shera goes to the priestly Luminian Order, and Calder seeks out his former allies in the Blackwatch.
Release date TBA! ...but it won't be too many months from now. I work hard, not smart.
Also, I'll be headed to Boston in a couple of weeks for the legendary PAX East! If you'll be at the convention, let me know, and I'll...say hi, or sign a book, or something. I don't know, I don't plan ahead. But send me an email, or a tweet, or a Facebook message and we'll make something happen!
On a side note, if I haven't responded to your blog comment in a timely manner, sorry! The blog notifications have been going to my junk folder instead of my inbox, so several of them have slipped through the cracks.
That's all the news that's fit to print, ladies and gentlemen. As always, thanks for reading!
Ten Questions? Ten Answers!
We've got a total of eleven reviews on the Elder Empire books, as I'm writing this, so it's time for me to answer ten questions in character!
Remember: you're asking the characters questions, not me. And they'll answer the first ten, with the first answers coming tomorrow, January 4th: I'm giving the questions a little time to pile up.
So start asking now! It's first-come, first serve.
EDIT: The ten questions are in! And heeeeeeeere they are...
1.) (from Michael) To Kerian [Of Shadow and Sea]: "How did you just make the food appear like that? Or how do the Consultants just seem to appear and disappear without a trace?"
Kerian sits behind the polished desk in the chapter house of her Guild, a pleasant smile on her face. "I pride myself on my preparations, sir, and our Guild operates with the highest levels of discretion. I cannot comment on the specific incident to which you refer, but I can assure you that we are qualified to satisfy your every request promptly and with absolute stealth. Speaking of which...would you like a drink?"
2.) (from Yosef) To Kathrin [City of Light]: "Who and what is your advisor?"
Kathrin runs a hand through her short, graying hair. "I try not to think about it. They're cats, you hear me? Ceramic cats. I've got a black one and a white one, and they can send messages to one another. That's it.
"What? Oh, sure, it's useful. Nobody else can communicate over distance, but I mean...Indirial can sense danger. Corren could track her prey for miles over desert! I could have had an adviser that sees through walls, or lets me fight in the dark, or helps me stay hidden, and I get the one that has absolutely no combat application.
"Sure, okay, yes, Denner's got his book. But that's not the same thing."
3.) (from Curious) to Valin [City of Light]: "Why did you set forth on a world-hopping, Territory-founding adventure? What were you before you did that?"
Valin looks around the graveyard, confused, as green lightning flashes overhead. "First off, how did you even get in here? You know what, never mind. It's an easy answer. The Territories are just so much more interesting than our world, so I spent all my time there. I never attuned to any of them, though. I guess they wouldn't have me.
"The Damascan royal family recruited me for my...particular talents." He hefts his sword, examining its blade in the rolling green light. "After that, everything got complicated. I'll tell you the story some other time, but I find myself growing tired."
With that, the Wanderer fell onto his back and died one more time.
4.) (from Aaron) to Valin [City of Light]: "Did you ever find your dragons?"
Valin grips his borrowed sword and stares off, into the forest of graves. "A whole army of them."
5.) (from April) to Hariman [House of Blades]: "How was Orgrith Cave created? Why does it exhibit the characteristics of the Territories?"
The golden face on the surface of the book practically shines with excitement. "Why, certainly! What an excellent question! I can see that you are an educated soul, with a carefully cultivated taste for knowledge!
"In the older days of this land, shortly after the arrival of the Damascans from the other side of the Western Isles, the Territories were still poorly understood. Travelers were considered ill fortune, if you can believe such a thing, and were often shunned. A group of them--perhaps only five or six, or maybe as many as a hundred, according to conflicting sources--sought shelter in a cave. They began to use their powers to search for food and water, to defend themselves, that sort of thing. It is a pity there were no Asphodel Travelers among them, isn't it? Would have made this story much shorter.
"Sadly, they were only a collection of Ornheim, Tartarus, and Naraka. As well as perhaps a Lirial or two, though no one is certain. Very little food in those Territories. They supported one another as best they could, but after only a few months, they were discovered.
"Now, it was carelessness that led to this discovery. Pure carelessness. You see, in the first year of King--"
Hariman is cut off by Denner, who picks up the book and shoves it under his arm. You hear muffled protests beneath Denner's elbow.
Denner sighs. "I'm sorry about that. He goes on. Long story short, the Travelers are attacked by their neighbors. They change the cave, twisting it, making it more and more like a Territory so they can defend themselves. They raise guardians they don't understand. The attackers never make it in, sure, but neither do the defenders ever make it out."
He shrugs. "Because of that story and many like it, Travelers began to organize. There you go. Now I've saved you five or six hours."
Hariman squirms his way out from Denner's arm, grumbling. "I could have done it in four."
6.) (from April, since she wrote two reviews) to Gilad [House of Blades]: "What did you confess to the Obsidian Tree in Naraka?"
Gilad won't meet your eyes. His answer is little more than a whisper. "I don't have to talk about that. I don't have to think about it. It's tradition. I have been punished...I am being punished."
Without another word, he opens a Helgard Gate and Travels away.
7.) (from Jeremiah Halstead) to Nikolos [Tower of Winter]: "What happened to Donia after you traveled together in the Tower?"
Nikolos, old and gray and seated beneath a blanket, laughs fondly when he hears your question. "Seven stones, Donia Sarkis! I haven't thought of her in years. As for what happened to her...would you believe I don't know? No, really! I barely know what happened to me, if you want the truth. We're trapped beneath the ice, and I'm asking childish questions because I'm sure we're going to die. I woke up what seemed like seconds later, lying in the middle of a random village. I don't even remember how I made my way to Bel Calem, but from there the Overlord got me home.
"As for Donia...I tried to find out, for a few years. Bribed a few Helgard Travelers, but none of them would ever talk about it. They don't like talking about the sixteenth floor at all, as it turns out. It's a shame, really. I left a few things behind."
He peels away the blanket over his legs, revealing that they end in stumps beneath the knee. "I suspect it's thanks to her that I still have my life."
8.) (from John) to Will Wight [Earth]: "Why does the cover use an ampersand and the Amazon title 'and'?"
"You broke the rules, John. I told you to ask the characters questions, not me. And yet you just wouldn't listen. Don't you know the rules are there for a reason? It's hard enough keeping all these characters in my head! I can't do it with me in there too! The walls are breaking down! I can see a host of worlds...a sparkling multiverse, like a sea of stars...who am I, against the infinite? What am I?
"What have you made of me, John?"
9.) (from Scott) to "All the Valinhall Travelers" (nice try) [House of Blades]: "What is your favorite room in Valinhall?"
Simon: "My old bedroom."
Andra: "The garden is incredible."
Kathrin: "The outside."
Denner: "The entry hall. It lets me leave."
Valin: "The Nexus."
Indirial: "Bring your sword if you wish to ask me a question! I am Valinhall!"
The rest say nothing, because they're dead.
10.) (from Mesmerizing Suggestion) to the Eldest Nye [House of Blades]: "What is or was the fighting style of the Dragon Army? Formation? Individual? Please elaborate."
The Eldest is behind you. No matter how you twist or turn to follow his rasping voice, he's always behind you. Like your shadow.
"Valin's 'children' took after their father. They were prideful. Individualistic. They formed teams, certainly, temporary alliances that were easily broken when they drifted off to pursue conflicting goals. Together, they could have been a force that broke Damasca like a hammer through glass. But they never worked together, and it led them all to death.
"That was the past. The future will be different--a weapon built to my design. For I am wise where my Master was foolish.
"The new generation of Dragons, they work together. They eat together. They live together. I am forging one weapon, not thirteen. And Damasca thinks they are servants. I know, more than most, the power servants have over their masters."
A cold length of chain settles around your throat, biting into the flesh of your neck. Your heart races, and you spread sweaty palms to show that you aren't reaching for a weapon.
Dry breath whispers into your ear.
"Tell me. Would you like a sword?"
Shall We Play A Game?
Often, people ask me how the Traveler's Gate trilogy got so many reviews on Amazon.
My answer: I have no idea. People reviewed it. I rarely ask for reviews, and I always ask for honest opinions. Dishonest reviews serve no one.
And for House of Blades, it took weeks for the reviews to start piling up. The first week or two, I had five reviews on Amazon, and I was grateful to have them. OSAS seems to be going at the same pace, or even a tad faster.
But now, launching a new series, I'm just kind of...waiting. That's boring, so how about we make it a game?
When the two Elder Empire books combined have 10 reviews on Amazon, I'll answer 10 questions here on the blog, in character. I'll respond as anyone from either series, so if you ever wanted to ask Kai a question, or Shera for that matter, now's your chance.
When they have 25 combined reviews, I'll...do something else, TBA, and when they have 50 I'll write a brand-new scene set in the Traveler's Gate universe after City of Light.
So you can do nothing and wait for reviews to stack up, or--if you've read Of Sea and Shadow, Of Shadow and Sea, or both--you can leave an honest review and move us one step closer to the character-specific AMA.
Let's start the new year off right: by tricking me with brutally difficult questions that I don't know how to answer. Fun!
Blog Hopping Like The Easter Bunny
Last month, I was persuaded/brainwashed by two acquaintances of mine--T.L. Gray and Jeff Suwak--into participating in an arcane Internet ritual known as a "blog hop." Apparently a chain of authors have mentioned others on their blogs, leading readers to their blogs, where they would write a bit about themselves and lead readers to blogs further down the road.
It seemed kind of like a benign, friendly version of a pyramid scheme, so naturally I was eager to take part. I'm no expert in blogs or hopping, so if I hop too hard and you fear for your safety, please feel free to stop me.
As part of the hopping process, I'll be answering four interview questions, but I'll get to that in a moment.
First, a bit about the man whose blog proceeded me in the hop, Jeff Suwak:
Jeff Suwak lives and writes in the magnificence of the Pacific Northwest. He is the author of the dark fantasy novella Beyond the Tempest Gate. He is also a regular contributor to The Prague Revue and songplaces.com. Some of his recent short fiction publication credits include The Colored Lens, Plasma Frequency Magazine, and The Writers Tribe Revue. He enjoys being berated on Twitter, and is a velociraptor in human skin.*
Blog/Site -- http://jeffsuwak.com
Twitter -- https://twitter.com/jeffsuwak
Facebook -- https://www.facebook.com/authorjeffsuwak?ref=hl
*I may have added the bit about the velociraptor.
Now, I'm supposed to answer four questions! I did not come up with the questions; they were provided to me by a person or persons of unknown origin. What terrifying webs we weave when first we play the blog hop game.
1.) What am I working on?
In the immediate present, I'm responding to blog hop questions.
In the very recent past, I was shaking in bed and trying to recover from exhaustion-related illness stemming from last week's release of City of Light.
However, to actually answer the spirit of the question, I will soon be moving on to my next project. When I pull my quivering mass back together and muster up some energy, I'll be embarking on my next project: deciding which of my many ideas I want to write next. I'm starting a new series, the first book to be released this fall...and I don't know what it's going to be. It's an adventure for everyone, isn't it?
It's not that I don't have any ideas. To the contrary, I have far too many viable story ideas, and now I have to pare it down to the best ones. My favorite idea right now involves two books released simultaneously. One of them follows one character through the story, and the other follows the same events, but from the perspective of a different character. Since the two characters are opposed to one another, and they go through completely different events over the course of the story, the books would look very different. They could be read separately, but if you read them together, you get a lot of context that you would miss otherwise.
That sounds like a lot of fun, but it would require me to write two books at once. That may be...ambitious, for a fall release.
2.) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Man, I had a hard time not responding to this question with a joke.
The Traveler's Gate Trilogy, my only completed work at this time, differs from most fantasy novels by virtue of being quick, streamlined, and light on detail. It's relentlessly focused on plot and action, with very few of the slow, world-building stretches that make up most works in the genre.
Not that I have anything against the big, doorstopper fantasy books. Far from it. But that's not the story I wrote.
I also do my best to play on reader expectations. The Chosen One isn't the hero, the rebels aren't necessarily the good guys (nor is the empire totally evil), and the crazy old hermit who trains the young hero is actually crazy.
I also try to blend a dry, quirky sense of humor into the books. That's less of a strategic consideration on my part, and more of a compulsion. I've tried writing stories without jokes before, and I couldn't stay awake long enough to get words on the page.
3.) Why do I write what I do?
Because fantasy is inherently more interesting than any other genre.
I may have started some fights with that statement (then again, on this blog, maybe not), but from my perspective it's true. Take the craziest thing that's ever happened in history, and then imagine that it was all part of a hyper-intelligent dragon's mad plot.
See? Inherently more interesting.
I write fast-paced action fantasy because I feel like there's a niche for that, especially on Kindle. There are certainly some great action-driven fantasy novels out there, but they seem to be vastly outnumbered by the big, plodding historical tomes. I had a theory that there were a substantial number of people out there who wanted to see some smaller, quicker fantasy novels focused around vivid magic systems and engaging action scenes.
So far, it looks like that theory was correct.
4.) How does my writing process work?
There's lots of procrastination involved.
Honestly, having the idea, fleshing it out, and coming up with an outline is the easy part. I could do that stuff all day. I barely have to think about it. To me, the part I have to work on is actually hammering out a first draft. That requires weeks and months of daily sitting down and pounding out words, all the way until you have a complete story. Then comes the editing, of course.
To me, the hard part of the drafting process is keeping myself disciplined. A lot of times I'll finish a scene, and a powerful force will take over my body, completely out of my control. When I regain consciousness, I'll realize that I've been on Reddit for two hours.
Definitive proof for spiritual possession? You be the judges, ladies and gentlemen.
I have to enlist family and friends to badger me into working at a steady, disciplined pace. They provide me with the accountability I need to work at this job like a professional. It helps now that I have fans badgering me on my blog, too, I'm not going to lie.
Even with all that, though, I often let tasks slip through my fingers until the last possible minute, at which point I have to lock myself into a cave for two months with no TV, Internet, or entertainment of any kind until the project is done. I'm looking at you, City of Light.
So those are my answers. Revel in your newfound edification.
I'm supposed to call out three other writers to continue the hop, but I didn't contact anyone. Therefore, go on and check out Lewis Dix. He's the author of I, Minion, a fun fantasy novella about the battle between a Hero and a Dark Lord as told by one of the Dark Lord's skeletal minions.
I don't know Lewis in real life, but he comments on this blog every now and again, and he even helped edit City of Light. He's a cool guy, and his book is both short and cheap. There's a link above, but I'll link it again now:
Check it out!
You may have noticed that I've been silent for a while, but trust me when I say that's a good thing. I'm running up against my personal deadline for City of Light, so I'm writing like a fiend. I want to make sure you have something to read after you finish Brandon Sanderson's Words of Radiance.
If you haven't started re-reading The Way of Kings, you should soon. Just to prepare. If you haven't read The Way of Kings...you should.
Anyway, City of Light, out as soon as I can get it to you. It's looking like mid-to-late March, but I'll keep you apprised.
I'm writing fight scenes right now. So many fight scenes. And a death scene, but I skipped over that one, because I'll need to come back and write it later to give it all of my attention.
This just occurred to me to ask, so I thought I'd pop a quick blog post up here. Maybe this is more appropriate to Twitter or Facebook, but...hey, we'll see!
Here's my question to you:
After the Traveler's Gate Trilogy, what kind of book would you like to see from me?
You can feel free to interpret this question however you like. I'm not sure what I mean either. Do you want to see the first book in a long series? A couple of stand-alone novels? A YA steampunk romance? What?
I'm just curious. This may or may not have any bearing on what I actually write next. I'm just interested to see what you think.
This is your chance to try and convince me to write a series from the perspective of that blind dwarf psion you played in your last D&D game! Go nuts!
(HINT: It's always going to be fantasy genre. I don't really have any ideas that don't have magic in them. It's possible that I could branch somewhat into sci-fi or horror, but I'll never stray far from my magical roots.)
At Last, I Descend Upon Thee
As the prophets foretold, I have risen from my post-book coma and returned once again to the prestigious throne that is my desk chair.
If you're waiting on an email response or a response to you in the comments, I believe I have responded to pretty much everybody. Now, it's time to begin work on City of Light.
Elysia, not Paris.
Also, for those of you who care about such trifling mundane matters, I passed 25,000 sales last night as I slept. That's House of Blades and Crimson Vault combined, but it's still pretty staggering. You guys are just that awesome.
Now, about the blog: I'm planning on producing more regular blog updates instead of the irregular mishmash that you have tolerated until this point. From here on out, I plan on writing one blog post each Saturday. Of course, I will also post whenever anything significant happens--like when I release a new book, for instance--but in the absence of breaking news I'll probably produce one post each Saturday.
So tune in on Saturday for the first of these regular posts.
Free tip: you probably don't want to miss this Saturday. I'm going to include a spoiler-full deleted scene from The Crimson Vault. It's tentatively entitled, "What Happened to the Bears?"
The bears from Elysia, not Chicago.
In the meantime, between now and Saturday, I'd like to hear your questions. "What kind of questions?" you ask. Well, let me clarify:
What is the one question about the Traveler's Gate Trilogy that you would like me to answer?
Keep in mind, as you formulate your inquiry, that I would respond to such a question in the form of a short story.
Of the Cradle series
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Hey, what about those short stories you claim to have already written?
Apparently they're kept here!