What Authors Owe Readers

What Authors Owe Readers

Greetings all,

I was just thinking about books I’ve been waiting forever for, and that led me to this post.

caught-front-coverFirst, I’m very guilty. I was supposed to have the entire Oneiros Log done by now (Hey! I’m getting there). I got derailed on quite a few projects, and while I still produced books, I didn’t publish the titles some of you are waiting for.

The thing is, authors owe readers stories. More importantly, they owe readers the stories they’re waiting for. Now, the author doesn’t owe the reader the stories the reader wants in terms of I want Kaladin to marry Shallan, but they do owe readers the next chapter in the story.

There should be some grace in this. For instance, any Stormlight book is some 700 pages. They’re huge, so waiting two years for 500,000 words is probably fair. But what about three, four?

Readers should be patient. I think Towers of Midnight had some issues here and there because they were working so hard to get it out there. So there’s a balance between the fact that the author owes the reader another story and the reader needing to be patient.

I dream of the day someone gets mad at me for not having this book or that book done. It hasn’t come yet, though I do have a few readers who are indeed waiting for Betrayed. Thinking about how angry I was waiting for word on the next Dresden book gave me some perspective on that.

Why is this important? Well for starters, it’s very hard to gain momentum when you’re not putting out product. A guy like George R. R. Martin can make anyone wait as long as he wants because he has his money. The worst readers can do to him is say, “Well, HBO ended it, so I’m good.” Please know that I don’t think that’s the case; I’m only saying if it was, no one could really do anything about it.

However, a guy like me trying to earn a living doing this needs to make sure that he’s always ready with the next book.

I get a lot of questions about being an author, and in the context of this post, I always say, “If you’re writing a story, don’t publish book one until you have the other two books in the series ready.”

Caught and the rest of Oneiros taught me that. For starters, when you publish books in quick succession, you give yourself more visibility. We’re in a binge age, and people want that next series. However, they want that series readily available. Even as I mention the need for readers to have at least some degree of patience, I understand that people want to marathon a whole season of television. I do the same with books. I don’t want to read one book in a series; I want to read the whole series, and I don’t want to wait a year to move to the next book.

Sojourn_Ebook_CoverDoes that mean authors are evil if they don’t release books in quick succession? No. I confess Power of Words, Repressed, and Sojourn all distracted me from the book I probably should have written. Sometimes an artist has to go where the muse takes him.  You may want a book quickly, but you don’t want a quick turd. Again, there’s  a balance. I finally got Betrayed ready and COVID obliterated the chance for conventions (and therefore the opportunity to make what I need to get edits done).

That led me to start working on Discovered, and I even had the chance to return to Images of Truth. I have so many things I want to release, but I live on a budget. Yes, I owe you the rest of Oneiros, and I’m getting it done as quickly as I’m able with that budget.

What about the big guys? Well, I don’t think they’re being rude either. That doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes wonder what Martin is up to (probably editing another series). It doesn’t mean I didn’t wonder what Butcher was up to. As a reader, I found myself frustrated at the wait. As an author, I feel convicted about not having stuff ready to print.

So maybe you’re not personally waiting for Betrayed, but you might be waiting for the next Ice and Fire book or something of that sort. I agree, it is frustrating to wait. You have a right to that emotion. Authors owe readers stories, and they should be produced in a timely fashion.

On my end, I’ll start drafting Discovered on the first. Once I’ve saved up enough money, I’ll send Betrayed to Sara for edits.

So I’m curious. How long do you feel it is appropriate to wait for “the next book?” Are you satisfied if an author at least publishes something in that time?

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Things I Hope to See in Rhythm of War

Things I Hope to See in Rhythm of War

Greetings all,

Temporary CoverMost people who follow my blog know I’m a huge Brandon Sanderson fan. Well, his newest book, Rhythm of War comes out Nov. 17, so I thought I’d do a blog about the things I hope to see in Rhythm of War.

SPOILER WARNING! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!

1. An end to Kal’s trauma: It’s perfectly understandable that Kal had a traumatic life. That trauma came to a head in Oathbringer. I think I’ve reached my limit on Kal’s struggle to save everyone. I’d really like to see him accept that sometimes you lose people you love, and sometimes you don’t.

2. Hoid do something awesome. A while back, we heard, “Hoid would do something awesome.” I believe that was originally intended to be in Book 5, but I hope it’s in this one. What I hope is to see Hoid do some sort of cross-world magic stuff. Like using biochromatic breath or allomancy against some of Odium’s peeps.

3. I want to see how Nightblood got to this planet! Obviously we know where Vasher is but I really want to know how they came to be there and how they got separated. I’m thinking Vivenna had something to do with it. This is probably the thing I’m most interested in at the moment.

4. More intimate battles. The last book, the scope of the battle was huge, and that’s cool, but I’m more a one-on-one kind of guy. I’d really like to see a few of those. I’d also like those fights to display more of the other radiant abilities. I have a good handle on Kal’s abilities, but they currently seem to be the ONLY offensive radiant abilities. Lift I suppose has some abilities that are more visual, but even they seem more defensive in nature, but at least they’re active.

Oathbringer5.  I want to see Odium throw down. With how powerful everyone else is, I think it’s time for a threat. I want to see Kal get his but whipped (which might contradict what I mentioned above, but if it’s to make Odium a threat, I’m all for it). It doesn’t have to be Kal, but now that the knights had a huge victory, we need to see the Odium and those he’s working with or manipulating show their stuff. Now Sanderson usually does this through subversion. If you look closely at all his books, the good guy hardly ever gets beat. It happens, but it’s rare. I’m hoping to see some bad guy flexing.  I need this personally because Kal (and his order) are pretty much OP at this point. Lift is all but impossible to kill. I’m not asking for a body count, but I wouldn’t be against it. The minimum for me is to see the threat posed. I get Odium’s situation, so I don’t really expect him to do much, but I need someone on team Odium to show that maybe Kaladin and Dalinar aren’t up to the task.

6. I ALMOST FORGOT! I want to see Adolin awaken his shardblade. He knows its name now. He can hear it. I really want to see him become a knight by brining his spren back to life. I almost forgot that because I expect it, but I EXPECT it, so I really want to see it happen.

7. A reunion of Vivenna, Vasher, and Nightblood. Do I need to go farther?

That’s pretty much it. I mean there are several other things I’m looking forward to, but those are the highlights. I don’t necessarily want to see all of these things happen in the next book. (Otherwise, what would be the point of the other six?) But I’d really like to see maybe two of them. If I had to pick which two, I’d say number 6 and 3. Those are the ones I really want, but any of the others in any combination would already make Rhythm a great addition to the saga.

What about you? What would you like to see out of the book?

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: Starsight by Brandon Sanderson
Cover
The cover of the book was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Starsight  is the second story in the Skyward saga by Brandon SandersonMy review for Skyward is here. Spoiler Free Summary: Spensa’s dream of becoming a hero is only the beginning. An alien visitor appears, giving her the chance to learn about the people who have kept her captive this whole time. She also learns about the entity that is even more horrifying than the thought of humans at war. What secrets will she unveil? Will she be able to protect the secrets she keeps? What doe the eyes of the starts know?

Character: Spensa is still a charming character. She’s growing, which is nice to see. I like MBot too. She’s proactive still, rather like Naruto in a lot of ways. However, she’s growing smarter. She’s forced to teach, and that gives her some tools that she needs. I honestly think seeing her growth from the last book to this one was one of the more interesting parts of the story. The cast sort of splits and expands here. We meet essentially an entire new cast. We don’t cut completely away from the other characters, but they don’t get much screen time.  

Exposition: The exposition of this story wasn’t beyond what I’d expect from a first person narrative. There are, of course, some “conversations” that decently hide the information we’re provided. They’re fun conversations and also reveal character, so I didn’t mind them at all.

BrandonGray
Image of Sanderson by Nazrilof was taken from Sanderson’s website for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Description:  I thought the description was great. I felt Sanderson was a little understated in his description in the last story, but this gave me the “something” I felt was missing from the last story.

Overall: This is easily the second-best book I’ve read so far this year. It fulfilled a lot of the promises the first book made. It became impossible to stop listening to it (this was an Audible story for me) with about three hours to go. It was a lot of fun. The only demerit I have is the cliffhanger ending. I hate those. I will always hate those. Even with that ending, I still loved it.

Thanks for reading

Matt

My Top 3 Reads of 2019

My Top 3 Reads of 2019

It’s a new year, which means it’s time to share my top three reads of 2019 with you all.  Goodreads says I’ve read 21 books in 2019. I know I’m reading less and less. I’m hoping to find more time to read, but I have to find a balance between reading and writing. I’m also reading much larger books. This list was made without regard to publisher, format, or author.

How I did it:  I kept track of books I liked and mentally compared one to the other. Without further delay, here’s my list.

Skyward#3 Skyward by Brandon Sanderson: You can find my review for that book here.  Sanderson is probably going to be on my list every year I reads something from him. He’s my favorite author in the business. Skyward was a charming story that had a universe that intrigues me. Spin is fun. It probably fell because it’s YA. It’s a great story that I enjoyed, but I tend to be drawn to a bit more drama than YA goes here or there. Still, this book’s pages flew by as I read.

 

 

Rebellion

 

 

 

So that’s my top three. What are yours? Why? Do you have a review you can link it to? I’d love to reblog it for you.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Examples of Good Book Qualities

Examples of Good Book Qualities

Whenever I do a review, those familiar with my blog know that I have a very consistent approach because I know what I like in stories, and I evaluate stories by what I like. I think the more someone works to understand what they like, they’re more likely to find books they enjoy and (if they aspire to be an author) write books they will enjoy.

What I decided to do today is provide examples on what books did particularly well in various categories.

Name of the Wind
Image of this book’s cover was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Character:  The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I chose this specifically because of how divisive this book is in my opinion. I love it. I know people who hate it.  The love and hate of this book is based entirely on how people feel about Kvothe. I think Kvothe is a brilliant character. He’s sympathetic, proactive, and highly competent. Now this is actually why a lot of people don’t like the book. He’s too perfect. I don’t think he’s a Mary Sue, but some do. Still the point is, this book hangs it hat on the main character.

Exposition: Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.  Every book needs exposition. Sooner or later, the author has to just tell the reader what’s going on. The trick is to make sure that writers show everything they can and lace the exposition through the story. Mistborn has an incredibly complex magic system, and the world it happens in has a deep history. This book never once beats up the reader with complicated blocks of exposition. There is one “education” scene, where Vin learns the basics of allomancy, but other than that, the book weaves what we need throughout the action.

Worldbuilding: The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. If you’re wondering, yes, it was very hard to not include Sanderson here as well, but Eye of the World is another example. Great stories typically have worlds that feel real. Eye of the World establishes so much with culture, the magic system, the mythos, and the setting. It’s truly masterful worldbuilding, but it’s not just worldbuilding for the sake of worldbuilding. There are books I feel that take worldbuilding too far. I don’t want to spend my life reading about the economic value of a whosit. This book balances intricate worldbuilding with the story to make the scene and universe believable.

Dialogue: Brother Odd by Dean Koontz.  I’ve always been a fan of the dialogue in Koontz’s books, but I think this book is a text book for how dialogue is done. The conversations in this book are crisp and relevant, and each character has a distinct voice. Also, it’s a pretty amazing book.

BetrayersBane
Image of the book’s cover was taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Description: Betrayer’s Bane by Michael G. Manning. Honestly, I’m so finicky with description, this is hard for me. I think Timothy Zahn should also get some credit here, but Manning came to mind first, so here it is. This book has a lot of action and a lot of dramatic scenes. Manning artfully places strategic adjectives that bring a story to life without beating the reader to death with huge paragraphs of description.

There are many books that do many of these well. I don’t know that I can truly place a book here that does all of them well. I think a good book only has to do a majority of these well. I’ll even go so far as to say that, for me personally, I just need good character and low exposition, and I’ll probably like it. The point is, the more of these a writer pays attention to, the better the book will be.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

 

Book Review: Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

CoverSkyward is the first story in the Skyward saga by Brandon Sanderson.  Spoiler Free Summary: Spensa has wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and be a pilot since she was a child. Unfortunately, her father is the world’s most famous traitor. He turned on his wing during an alien attack. These creatures have oppressed her planet for years, and the pilots are the ones who protect her world’s way of life. When everyone else seems to be against her even training to be a pilot, her father’s old wing mate gives her the chance she’s always wanted. However, the truth of her father’s death and the key to the aliens attacking her might prove she never should take a cockpit.

Character:  Unlike Rithmatist or Steelheart (which are other YA books by Sanderson), I had to sort of turn off the adult in my brain. If I do that, Spensa is a wonderful character. Honestly, she’s just young. She’s a well-written and designed character, and she’s perfect for YA, but her thoughts and motives are a little less mature than Sanderson’s usual work. It’s still better than most YA I’ve read, but it’s probably more suited for younger readers. She’s quirky. She has a personality trait I personally find endearing. It reminds me of Sir Didymus from Labyrinth

Exposition: Despite the first-person narrative, this story didn’t drag down too much. Sure, there was the inevitable “conversation” that established world history. There’s a backstory that might slow things down in there, but this story was a much-needed, highly-anticipated quick-read for yours truly. It moves at a perfect pace that made it hard to put down.

BrandonGray
Image of Sanderson by Nazrilof was taken from Sanderson’s website for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Description:  I felt like this story had less description that usual. I’m not normally one to harp on this subject, but I would have appreciated a bit more from Sanderson on this, especially in distinguishing the lower levels of the planet from the surface.  If I have a knock on this story, it’s here.

Overall:  I’d say this is my favorite book of the year so far. I’ll also admit this year has been a bit tough regarding my reading. This book is good, and I did enjoy it, but I don’t know how it would hold up against any of my top three from last year. I say that to give some context. I’d say very good, but not great. It’s absolutely a fun read. It still has Sanderson’s usual charm, but it ended on a high note that has me hopeful for the series overall.

Thanks for reading

Matt

Book Review: Legion: Lies of the Beholder by Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: Legion: Lies of the Beholder by Brandon Sanderson
cover
The cover from this story was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under fair use doctrine.

Lies of the Beholder is the third and final story in the Legion saga by Brandon Sanderson.  Spoiler Free Summary: Legion’s aspects are fading away, and that’s a bad sign. Even as he draws closer to finding the woman he’s been seeking, he’s losing control of his aspects and himself. When a company approaches him with the offer of a cure, Stephen has to come to terms with the truth of what his aspects are for.

Character:  This has always been an area of strength for Sanderson. Leeds is charming and witty, and those traits go well with a main character. His desire to be a part of humanity without losing what makes him unique is interesting. The plot is pretty self contained, but all the stories in the saga have been small in scope out of necessity. This was originally a pitch story for a series, so each book had to be fast paced fun, and this was.

Exposition: This story was far too quick to have much in the way of exposition. There may have been an occasional background establishing conversation, but the story moved well. This book grabs you and drags you along.

BrandonGray
Image of Sanderson by Nazrilof was taken from Sanderson’s website for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Dialogue: This is probably the biggest selling point for this book. The dialogue for this series (and this book) is so crisp and fun. It stands on its quick wit and humor.

Description:  This didn’t have a ton of description. It was there, but it wasn’t visceral. I never mind the lack in this area. I’ve never been obsessed with detail. I’m much more interested in plot and character than details.  Some may want more, and I couldn’t argue with them. I just wasn’t worried about it. I had the description I needed, and I moved along in the plot.

Overall:  This is the first book I read in 2019, and it’s still my second favorite so far. It’s a decently satisfying conclusion, but the best value in the story was that it was a fun, quick tale that entertained me from word one to “the end.” Leeds is a wonderfully deep character, and the resolution was satisfying. Sad to see the story end, but Sanderson always delivers!

Thanks for reading

Matt