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New Writing Advice

New Writing Advice

by CAPSLOCK

Brent has some new writing advice. We’re trying out a new interview-based format. I ask Brent your questions, and he jabbers. You can check out the latest one HERE, now with 100% more bedhead, and pictures of Brent’s workspaces.

Posted in Writing Advice | 4 Comments

Sword & Laser Interview

Sword & Laser Interview

 

Sword & Laser logo

Sword & Laser, a science fiction and fantasy-themed book club, has just posted their interview with Brent! If you’d like to hear how he went from writing on bar napkins to a New York Times bestselling author — you can find the interview HERE.

 

Posted in Interviews | 2 Comments

Half a King — by Joe Abercrombie

Half a King — by Joe Abercrombie

Half a King bookcoverOpportunities to blurb one’s nemesis are rare indeed. Having been published in ye olde aught-7, Joe Abercrombie is the elder in our Sith-padawan duo, whilst I have only been in print since late, late 2008. Our careers have followed similar trajectories: each of us receiving early and effusive critical praise (oh wait, that was him), each of us selling millions of books (him more millions–or a more… ebullient publicist), each of us winning the David Gemmell Legend Award (oh wait, that was me), each of us being dubbed George R. R. Martin’s heir apparent (oh wait, that was neither of us). I taught swing dancing in college; Joe does a wicked hip-hop-folk-dance-locomotion-twist-Macarena fusion that you wouldn’t believe. As you can see, the similarities are eerie.

When I opened the package containing Joe’s book (not addressed to me), I rubbed my hands together. I cackled. I stroked my beard. I got to work.

The trick, of course, is to write something that sounds positive, but may not be. You also have to avoid fragments that can be pulled that undermine your snarkish intent:  “I love John’s frequent use of correct punctuation in his work!” could be undermined. A canny publicist will pull real praise out of a reckless phrase, like so:  “I love John’s…work.” or, stretching morality, even “I love [this] work!”

If you write something the publisher doesn’t use at all, you’ve failed. (That is, unless you can get it to stick on Goodreads or Amazon.) And if you write something amazing but not specific to the target, people will just attribute it to Mark Twain. (“Any brilliant double-edged quote from an American author will be attributed to Mark Twain.” –Mark Twain) As you can see, a daunting task indeed.

 

So… a quote for Joe Abercrombie, eh? *cracks knuckles*

There are myriad correct ways to address Joe Abercrombie’s work; one of them even involves praise.

Let’s just get this out of the way. The low-hanging fruit*:
Though slender, I wouldn’t call it half a novel. Half a King isn’t half bad!
Is Half a King Abercrombie’s best yet? You’ll half to see for yourself!

*reviewers punning on the Half in the titles of this series, that there is a sin of weakness–unless you can make many puns in your review or find one that others have overlooked. I know, it’s hard to resist. You’ll be forgiven the “half” puns on this first novel. Do it on novel two and three, and you’ll earn sighs and derision, respectively.

Hitting where it hurts (the wallet):

There is only one way to show how much I enjoyed this book: I scanned it and am distributing it to the whole internet for free!

Here’s a good one for readers who like to believe they don’t look down on the YA genre:

Now writing Young Adult fantasy, Joe Abercrombie has finally found his intellectual home.

The baffling, yet catchy:

This book seals it: Joe Abercrombie is the Kanye West of fantasy.

The sneaky slander:

Critics have wondered, is there a Joe Abercrombie without the f-word? Fuck yes!

The secretly snarky:**

Will this novel make shortlists everywhere? Well, I certainly wouldn’t give it the axe!

**Only works if you know a rarely-used idiom, AND that the Gemmell Award is a battle axe.

The grimdark (the challenge here being to attach the mildly pejorative label “grimdark” to Joe’s work without ever using the term directly):

Some worried that Abercrombie’s move to Young Adult novels would mean a loss of his grim, dark tone. Though the events of this novel are often grim, dark themes aren’t overwhelming. Much as in the Brothers Grimm, dark colors are used to highlight moments of humor.

The needlessly cruel (may be attributed to Mark Twain):

Definitely worth picking up from the remainders shelf.
Worth every penny I paid for it. (My thanks to the publisher for the free review copy.)
I look forward to being able to get the whole series for half off.

My real blurb:

Perhaps his most technically proficient novel yet, I dare you to read the first chapter and try not to turn the next page. Some wondered if what makes Joe Abercrombie so different would survive the transition to YA. Abercrombie fans, have no fear: Polished and sharp, the un-adult-rated Abercrombie is still unadulterated Abercrombie.

Ugh, you have no idea how my stomach sinks to write actual praise. Dammit, Joe.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Posted in Reviews | 5 Comments

Blurbing City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

Blurbing City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

city of stairs BennettA few months ago, I teased about a book I’d read that I loved, but I didn’t tell you what it was. Partly because I didn’t want to scoop the author’s own marketing efforts, and partly because, hey, I believe in obnoxiously enjoying small perks to the hilt. But here’s what I was enjoying:

Robert Jackson Bennett is one of those quirky-bright writers whose quirky-brightness will serve him in the long run, but has seemed to handicap him in the short term. There’s a gap to bridge between even a great book, and that book finding the right readers. In my opinion, Robert’s books have been hard to shelve because they straddle genres. He’s drawn comparisons to voices as diverse as Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, and Madeleine L’Engle, and has gotten good mentions from people as widely dispersed in the genre as Jim C. Hines, Jeff Vandermeer, Nisi Shawl, and…me! His debut novel, Mr. Shivers, certainly wasn’t my normal favored milieu, but I really enjoyed the book despite a setting I quite frankly usually avoid. (A quirk of mine, nothing more.) And I could tell immediately that Mr. Bennett was going to grow. That’s the thing about smart writers—they learn, they adapt, they get better.

I’m proud to say that I was right. (I love being right.) With City of Stairs, I think that RJB has done something really impressive: fans of his early work will see plenty of what they have come to love about Robert’s work, but new readers looking for an exciting, kick-ass story in a deep setting will enjoy this book too. Readers love great books, but people fall in love with great characters, and in City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett introduces one in a way that is clever, graceful, and over the top all at once. Sigrud is a side character, but he’s a GREAT side character.

Robert, don’t f**k up Sigrud.

Other people have nice things to say about City of Stairs, and I’m sure many more are to come. In the interest of being pithy and hitting different points than others had, I said this:

“Robert Bennett Jackson deserves a huge audience. This is the book that will earn it for him. A story that draws you in, brilliant world building, and oh my God, Sigrud. You guys are going to love Sigrud.” -Brent Weeks

As you may know, Robert has opted for an… eccentric online persona, so in that spirit, I also sent them the following blurb, but… I don’t think it’ll make it onto a cover:

“Please don’t read this book. I am jealous of the success of others, and would not like Robert Jackson Bennett to enjoy the hordes of fans he deserves.” -Brent Weeks

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound*

*I don’t generate money from my linking, I put buying links here as a courtesy for you impulse-purchasers. :)

Posted in Reviews | 5 Comments

On Blurbs & Blurbing

On Blurbs & Blurbing

*UPDATE*: Oh yeah, and the biggest reason I don’t blurb books… I just don’t get around to them. I have ARCs of books that I have heard are awesome still sitting around, looking at me with puppy dog eyes. ‘Why, Brent?’ they ask. ‘Why?’

Blurbs are a mess of the personal, the professional, and the commercial. Readers see that an author whom they trust loves a book, and they think, “Hey, I respect her, I bet I’ll really enjoy that book she thinks is great!” Professionals see a chance to help out a friend or a newbie and want to pay it forward to help someone succeed in a career with a high attrition rate. Publishers and publicists see another selling point.

I don’t blurb often. Much of my reading is a fun/work blend these days. I might read a book about Jean Lafitte for fun, but also to see if he’s got a justified reputation as an honorable pirate or not, and then (if he was honorable), figure just how would one go about being an honorable pirate? Or I read about special operations soldiers to get a handle on psyche of elite warriors. Fun, but work, too. I read books about the original Assassins—not nearly as fun as you’d think. Or I read books about slavery in the ancient world, or about race and slavery in the Mediterranean Sea basin. (Not fun at all.) Or I’ll read a couple Sookie Stackhouse books to understand their huge success—and yep, I see why they’ve done so well. (Not my kind of fun, but fun!)

Some of my former joy at reading fantasy has dimmed. It’s simply too hard to take off the analyst’s glasses: ah nice turn here, odd anachronism not to eliminate here, man this chapter is gritty just because gritty is in, isn’t it? Ah, here’s your politics showing here, great visual, nice building of a badass character, let me think how you did that…

Added to this, of course, is that I mostly get sent debut novels. These frequently put me in a bind. I can see why the novel got published. I can see that the novelist may well become quite skilled, and I know what it is to hope someone will give me a chance. I want these novelists to survive so they can write the great novels they’re clearly capable of writing. But if I didn’t love their book, I don’t want to tell people who trust me that I did.

Of course, fantasy being my work now, I also have strong opinions about what I like and don’t like–stuff that has little to do with its quality, but are simply preferences. I don’t like sermons in my fiction, even if I agree with them. A book that deals with the environment or capitalism or whatever as an integral part of the plot is fine: five page lectures that feel like they were rejected from yesterday’s op-ed page? Yawn. To many other readers, those elements are neutral or (if they agree with the viewpoint), even a bonus. Good for them. Reasonable people can have differences of opinion and taste. Even great books have things about them that I don’t think work, or that I think could be done better.

A novel is a blend of choices and execution, and I often like one but not the other. (A subtle distinction, sometimes.) I’m sure there’s stuff in my own work that gets similar eye rolls. I’m even guilty of some of the things I now dislike—I was once going to call for a moratorium on names with apostrophes. Please, can we not have any more N’ns’nse names? Then I realized when I return to Night Angel, I’ll definitely have returning characters and items with apostrophes. Doh!

The blend of the personal and professional is part of what makes my Goodreads page look barren. If I read a book and think it’s meh, I feel some compassion. Either it’s a new writer who hasn’t honed their craft yet, or a good or great writer turned in something that was sub-par for reasons I don’t know. In the first case, I won’t help that writer by raving dishonestly, but I also don’t want to poke holes in the boat of someone who’s just hope to float, either. Thus, I keep my 3- and 2-star reviews to myself. (The 1-stars I just quit reading. I feel no compulsion to finish something that I’ve decided isn’t worth my time.)

The only time I break this rule is when the author is so successful they couldn’t care what I say. Thus, I wrote a serious critique of an Anne Rice book.

When I DO write a blurb, I also put on my marketer’s hat. Maybe it’s the first novel I’ve seen that uses an outcast blue kobold as its main point of view character. (And man, it just nails that blue kobold experience!) I KNOW that others are going to comment on that. Praising that is just adding my voice to the echo chamber. So, if there was something else as praiseworthy—and usually an excellent novel doesn’t only do one thing well—then I’ll praise that so that the blurbs aren’t all about the same thing. I’ll even add something in the longer form of the blurb about the blue kobold experience (just in case this novel got stiffed on blurbs for whatever reason). That’s why sometimes you’ll an author quoted twice, or a brief pull quote taken for the front cover, and the full paragraph from which it was taken inside or on the back cover. Marketing.

Yes, I do work hard on blurbs. (See: Why I Blurb Infrequently)

Tuesday and Wednesday, I’ll be posting briefly on two books I’ve read recently that I CAN blurb freely.

(Also, new poll at right!)

Posted in Reviews | 5 Comments

Geekvengers Interview!

Geekvengers Interview!

Geekvengers spoke with Brent about his forthcoming novel (The Broken Eye), discussed some of his plans for the next Midcyru series, and heard why writing prequels (like Perfect Shadow) can be so challenging.

For more interviews and Con coverage, subscribe to the Geekvengers Youtube Channel HERE.

Posted in Interviews | 2 Comments

New Fan Tattoo

New Fan Tattoo

by CAPSLOCK

A fan has just shared an awesome shoulder tattoo of some Night Angel vir.

Check it out:

 Tattoo of vir2Tattoo of vir1

Posted in Art | 4 Comments

Watch the Geek Bomb Book Chat!

Watch the Geek Bomb Book Chat!

by CAPSLOCK

Brent had a great time talking with the Geek Bomb Book Club (hosted by Maude Garrett) and answering questions from some fans.

See the full interview below, or watch HERE:

Thanks Geek Bomb!

Posted in Interviews | 4 Comments

My Valentine’s Day Gift to the world…

My Valentine’s Day Gift to the world…

When I first published The Way of Shadows, I made a joke in the back about ‘Where I get my ideas’ (a question every writer gets–a lot). I said I had no ideas, I just paid a Bulgarian to think them up for me…

Can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had people think I was serious. (How do I get this kind of idea-making-up job? Why a Bulgarian? Aren’t American ideas good enough for you?)

But now I have another reason to not use that joke–because the first two books of the Lightbringer Series is coming to Bulgaria! We’ve also picked up a few other languages. The entire Night Angel trilogy is coming to Brazil, Romania is testing the waters with The Way of Shadows, France picks up Perfect Shadow, and mainland China will be getting the entire Lightbringer Series.

Also, because it’s Valentine’s Day, take this yawning baby hedgehog. No one can be sad when they see a yawning baby hedgehog.

A yawning hedgehog

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Geek Bomb Live Stream Interview!

Geek Bomb Live Stream Interview!

gb-title2

I will be joining Geek Bomb for a live Google Hangout on this Sunday, February 16th at 10:00 PM Pacific Standard Time. (That’s Monday, February 17th at 5:00 PM for you Aussies on the Sydney time zone!) Be sure to join us HERE.

If you haven’t heard of Geek Bomb — Host Maude Garrett and team cover video games, reviews, Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars and all manner of things geek! (Maude often gets to chat with real celebrities, so I hope she enjoys slumming it with me!*)

If you’d like to participate on the panel, you can email geekbombshells @ gmail.com (without the spaces) with a 60 second clip stating why you’d be perfect for the panel and what you’d like to ask Brent!

* Jamie Foxx, Emma Stone, Stana Katic, JJ Abrams

You can also follow Geek Bomb or join their book club via:
YoutubeWebsiteTwitter, FacebookGoogle+

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