Brandon Sanderson's Blog, page 5

March 31, 2014

Back in January I put up a long post about award nominations, with a particular mention of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time.

Well, if you’re a member of the 2013, 2014, or 2015 World Science Fiction conventions, it’s time to submit your nomination form for the Hugo Awards. The deadline is tomorrow morning at 7:59 a.m. BST—since this year’s Worldcon is in London, the deadline would be in GMT, except for that pesky Daylight Saving Time thing being in effect, which means it’s not actually GMT. Anyway, in the US, the deadline is 11:59 p.m. Pacific time tonight.

If you’re not a member of any of those Worldcons, it’s too late to register to be eligible to nominate. But anyone who registers before the Hugo Awards voting deadline will be able to vote on the final ballot once the nominees are announced and voting opens. There will likely be a Hugo Voters Packet for registered Loncon 3 members that includes most if not all nominated works. A Supporting Membership that lets you vote for the Hugo Awards is currently £25 or $40.

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Published on March 31, 2014 10:43 • 211 views

March 26, 2014

Today is the final day to get the Epic Fantasy Bundle (which includes The Emperor’s Soul if you’re outside the UK and associated territories) from StoryBundle. After 11:00 p.m. Mountain time today, the bundle will no longer be available. By the way, the winners of yesterday’s contest are Ashley Wilson-Rew, Matthew Holmes, Matt Jarchow, Prem, and Tess. Check for an email from my assistant Peter Ahlstrom and make sure to download your books tonight before the bundle offer expires!

The official Words of Radiance book tour is over (see yesterday’s post for a list of bookstores with signed books), but I’m doing an extra signing this Saturday in Salt Lake City at the Barnes & Noble in Sugarhouse starting at 3:00 p.m. This signing will go pretty much like the signings on the tour, but I hope it won’t last five hours. Anyway, I’ll sign any book I wrote that you bring, but it’s nice to support the store hosting me by buying something while you’re there. I will also do a reading and public Q&A (don’t worry, no spoilers for Words of Radiance will be allowed!). See the event listing for full details.

I also signed a bunch of books during the Literacy Promise conference, and those signed books are now at the Funfinity store in Springville, UT. Give them a call to see what’s left: (801) 491-8940

The Shardhunt is still ongoing. The most recent unlockable was a discussion of the back-and-forth development process for the Whitespine page from Shallan’s Sketchbook in Words of Radiance. (You can see the final versions of all of the art pages here.)

Here are some more stores that are participating in the Shardhunt. Give them a call to see if they have any books left that include signed bookplates and Szeth die-cut standup cards.

Asheville, NC: Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe (828) 254-6734 (Thanks, Erin!)
Hamilton, MT: Chapter One Book Store (406) 363-5220 (Say hi to Mara!)
Homewood, AL: Books-A-Million (205) 870-0213 (Thanks, Lyndsie!)
New Orleans, LA: Octavia Books (504) 899-READ (Say hi to Tom!)
Coral Gables, FL: Books & Books (305) 442-4408 (Thanks, Noah!)
Hanover, MD: Books-A-Million (443) 755-0210 (Say hi to Kaye!)
San Francisco, CA: Books Inc. (415) 864-6777 (Thanks, Larry!)

And here are a few more airport stores where I signed books and inserted Szeth cards (or Syl and koloss stickers, if I ran out of the Szeth cards). Sometimes these get snapped up very quickly, but sometimes they stick around for weeks, so if you’re traveling through these airports be sure to check.

SLC: Simply Books by gate C6
MSP: Store by gate F5, and the “mall” store
MKE: Newsstand by gate D30
ORD: Barbara’s Books in E gates
PHL: Heritage Books between B & C gates
Philadelphia 30th St. train station: Faber Books
DAY: Heritage Booksellers

Lastly, here’s something very much out of the normal swing of things. Rick Martin on Facebook posted these photos of two The Way of Kings-related Lego builds: the Battle of the Tower and the Chasmfiend hunt. The detail on these is amazing. Check out the full gallery here (but note that it contains spoilers if you haven’t read The Way of Kings yet!).

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Published on March 26, 2014 15:36 • 714 views

March 25, 2014

Storybundle Covers

Wednesday night is the last chance to name your price for StoryBundle‘s Epic Fantasy Bundle. They’ve given me fifteen download codes to give away. Five of them are being given away on Twitter and five on Facebook. I’ll also give away five here on the blog. My assistant says I have to put in some kind of requirement for these types of things, and he suggests signing up for the newsletter. So that’s what we’ll say: use the contact form here to say you’re entering this contest, check the box that says “Notify me when Brandon is signing near my city & add me to the mailing list” (or remind me if you’re already on my list), and tell me the city where you live. Valid entries received before noon Mountain Time on Wednesday will be accepted, and five winners will be chosen randomly. All codes must be redeemed before the Epic Fantasy Bundle is removed from sale Wednesday night.

Anyone can enter the contest unless you live in the UK, Commonwealth (although Canada is not excluded from the contest), or a former Commonwealth country. I’m putting in this restriction since anyone in those countries who gets the Epic Fantasy Bundle won’t be able to include The Emperor’s Soul in your download because my UK publisher has the distribution rights in those territories. I don’t want to encourage you to enter the contest if you can’t win any of my books. (Though actually, if you’re in one of those countries and already have The Emperor’s Soul or for some other reason want to enter the contest anyway, knowing you can’t get that book, you can go ahead and say that when you enter and I’ll accept the entry. Up to you!) If you’re not sure whether your country is on the exclusion list, go to, click on the The Emperor’s Soul cover image, and check to see if the description that pops up includes a warning saying the book won’t be included in the bundle.

Speaking of the newsletter, I only send out three or four each year (though to date I’ve never managed to send more than three), usually around the time when a book is released. All of the newsletters are archived here. The March newsletter is now online.

My book tour for Words of Radiance is now over, though I still have some conventions throughout the year and I’ll be signing in the UK in the London area right at the beginning of August (details forthcoming). I’ve also left a lot of signed books in my wake. Many of the stores where I signed at would be happy to ship you a signed book. Give one of these stores a call!

San Diego: Mysterious Galaxy (858) 268-4747

Huntington Beach CA: Barnes & Noble (714) 897-8781

San Rafael CA: Copperfield’s Books (415) 524-2800

San Francisco: Borderlands Books (415) 824-8203

Beaverton OR: Powell’s Books (503) 228-4651

Seattle: University Book Store (206) 634-3400

Houston: Murder by the Book (713) 524-2595

Omaha: Barnes & Noble (402) 691-4557

Scottsdale AZ: The Poisoned Pen (480) 947-2974

Tucson: Mostly Books (520) 571-0110

Lexington KY: Joseph-Beth (859) 273-2911 (they also have signed Michael Whelan art prints)

Beavercreek OH: Books & Co (937) 429-2169

McLean VA: Barnes & Noble (703) 506-2937

Collegeville PA: Towne Book Center (610) 454-0640

Skokie IL: Barnes & Noble (847) 676-2230

Milwaukee: Boswell Book Company (414) 332-1181

My assistant Peter has added more tweets to the March Twitter posts archive.

On this week’s Writing Excuses episode we touch on more rapid-fire questions, joined by Eric James Stone.

What writing rule do you break the most?
When you review your novel do you print it out and mark it up, or do you edit on the computer?
How long do you wait between finishing a novel and starting the editing process?
What is the number-one issue that you have to overcome each day in order to put words to paper?
How do you feel with the fear of screwing up when you’re writing the other?
When giving a book as a gift, how do you decide on a book to give?
Any advice for people wanting to write a grand, universal story for their fantasy novel?
Is there a place you go to be inspired to write?
Do you ever have trouble writing characters out of the story (you know, by killing them)?
How do you strike the balance between too little description and too much?
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Published on March 25, 2014 11:34 • 575 views

March 17, 2014

Tomorrow I’m signing at Joseph-Beth in Lexington. This is a numbered signing, but if you don’t have a ticket they’ll let you sneak in at the end. Still, it’s nice to buy something from the store while you’re there.

Signed Michael Whelan art prints will also be available at this event, for The Way of Kings, A Memory of Light, Words of Radiance, and the Shallan endpaper. I will be happy to sign these prints too.

The rest of this week I’m signing in the metro areas of Dayton, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Milwaukee.

Here are the stores I signed at last week. Call one of them, or the stores from the previous week, to see if they have a signed copy of the book they can ship to you. Murder by the Book in Houston, Barnes & Noble in Omaha, The Poisoned Pen in Phoenix, and Mostly Books in Tucson.

The Shardhunt is continuing, and the most recent unlock is the first batch of annotations for The Alloy of Law. It starts with chapter 2 because I haven’t written annotations for the prologue or first chapter yet. Sorry! Unlocked Shardhunt content can be seen by everyone, whether you’ve found a code or not. And there are annotations for more of my books here.

I gave out some codes at my signings, and I also left some on Szeth standup cards in signed books in airport bookstores. Sometimes those books get bought from the airports very quickly, but occasionally I go through an airport again weeks later and see a signed copy or two still there. So if you happen to be flying through these airports, check out the following stores:

SLC airport: Both bookstores, by gate C6 and by the B gates security checkpoint.
IAH airport: The Fully Booked store by gate C43 and the Simply Books stores in the center of the B gates and by gate C14.
OMA airport: Hudson News stores by the A gates and by the food court (outside security).
PHX airport: Hudson News by gate B21.

My assistant Peter has updated the March Twitter posts archive to include tweets from last week.

The most recent Writing Excuses episode was a microcast where we briefly addressed questions from listeners. Eric James Stone joined us to respond to the following questions:

Should a pantser rewrite their book once they know the whole story?
What do you find most useful from an editor?
Story creation is cool, but can Writing Excuses talk more about sentence-level work?
What advice do you have for pitching to agents and editors?
What’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever gotten?
How do you encourage a writer-friend who is down on their work?

Finally, here’s a video of my reading and Q&A from the Words of Radiance midnight release. You can’t see it from the camera angle, but there were 600 people there.

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Published on March 17, 2014 12:22 • 613 views

March 15, 2014

Here is the first batch of annotations for The Alloy of Law. As with all of the other annotations here on the site, each annotation contains spoilers for the current chapter. Spoilers for chapters after the current one are hidden by spoiler tags. We recommend you read the book before reading the annotations! Also, please note that there are not yet annotations for the prologue or first chapter.

The Carriage Ride to the Forge

Note that Wayne sleeping here is a side effect of him getting really sickly for a short time, trying to recover a bit of healing power. Marasi thinks he’s just relaxed, which . . . well, he kind of is, but he wouldn’t be sleeping right now save for the effects of his Feruchemy.

As another side note, the city really is as miraculous as Marasi thinks to herself. Sazed created an Eden-esque little section of land here, a place of extreme bounty and fertility, in order to cradle the regrowth of mankind. The actual science (such that it is) of it has to do with the mists bringing fresh water and hugging the ground extra strongly here, as well as some molds that refertilize the ground.

Marewill flowers are named after Kelsier’s wife. (Spook, the Lord Mistborn, came up with the name—as well as naming a lot of the things that held out until this time, such as they months of the year.) The other little worldbuilding item of note here is the idea of what Wayne calls the “God Beyond,” which is an idea that has begun to creep into society, the idea that there is a greater God of the universe beyond people like Harmony or Kelsier. It’s somewhat analogous to some of the Gnostic beliefs in early Christianity.

Wayne’s Backstory

This was the final piece of figuring out who Wayne was. When I’d toyed with him as a character in the original short story, I’d intended for there to be something like this in his past. In the case of this book, however, I didn’t decide upon it until I was quite a ways into the story.

I’ve mentioned that when it comes to characters, I often “discovery write” who they are. Meaning, I work my way into them as I write. With plots and settings, I tend to do a lot of planning and know pretty much where I’m going from the beginning. But with characters, I do a lot of exploring. If a book isn’t going well for me, it’s often because I can’t get the characters down the right way.

That stated, one might wonder why I don’t just plan them out like I do my plots and settings. It’s because it doesn’t really work for me to do it that way—the characters don’t stick to the plan in the same way that plots do. I’ve found that I need this element of improvisation in my writing to give it authenticity. The characters have to breathe in a way that the plots don’t need to, for me. I have to let them be more real, in a way, though I’m not certain if it’s possible to explain this process.

Anyway, my instincts said there had to be something in Wayne’s past like this, and I had felt for a few chapters it had to do with why he didn’t use guns. But until I wrote this chapter, I hadn’t settled on how it was actually going to have played out.

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Published on March 15, 2014 15:04 • 321 views

Here is the first batch of annotations for The Alloy of Law. As with all of the other annotations here on the site, each annotation contains spoilers for the current chapter. Spoilers for chapters after the current one are hidden by spoiler tags. We recommend you read the book before reading the annotations! Also, please note that there are not yet annotations for the prologue or first chapter.

Wax and Marasi talk philosophy and his past

This sort of thing is another hallmark of the Mistborn books. (And, well, perhaps my writing in general.) I intended this book to be faster paced than what I term an “epic” like any of the books in the original trilogy. I wanted to move at a fair clip and not get slowed too often by conversations like this one. However, conversations like these are what add depth to characters for me, so I didn’t feel it right to cut them completely.

Here, we get to see Waxillium’s and Marasi’s different views on life, the ways that who they are ground what they do. Waxillium is a realist. He sees things as they are. (Or how he thinks they are, at least.) He has a touch of a philosopher inside of him, as he wonders about what the truth is—but he wants to find that truth, prove it. He’s not unaccommodating or harsh, but he does believe in absolutes and wants to find them.

Marasi is more interested in extremes because they’re interesting, not because she is seeking for truth or reality. She’s like a moth drawn to flame, fascinated by outliers. She’s good with numbers and statistics, and can find those outliers; then she reads as much as she can about them. She could name for you every serial killer in Elendel’s history, and talk about their lives and what led them to do what they did. She wouldn’t consider it morbid, just fascinating. Wax, reading the same thing, would find his eye twitching. He’d get through a part of the reading, then find himself out on patrol, trying to run across someone doing something wrong that he could stop.

Butler’s betrayal

Yes, the butler is a traitor. It’s a cliché, but it fit the narrative very well, so I went ahead and used it. I don’t think a lot of people will see it coming, though there are several clues. One of them is the fact that he makes only one cup of tea here and brings it for Wax; Tillaume is not accustomed to killing people, and he’s extremely nervous in this scene. That’s why he made the mistake of not making three cups and bringing them all over. (My writing group caught this, which amused me. They thought it was a mistake in the writing, though.)

One of the things that made me want to write this story, and keep going on it after I’d started, was the chance for good banter between Wax and Wayne. They play off one another well, and I haven’t had a chance to do a book in a while (ever since the first Mistborn book, really) that had a good, long-established relationship between main characters who I could play off each other in this way. There is something deeply satisfying for me about this kind of writing, even though it’s really just silly banter. I feel as proud of moments like Wayne toppling over because of the tea, then the conversation in the speed bubble, as I do of a deep character complexly coming to a character climax at the height of a story. That’s because, at least as I see it, this is as technically difficult to pull off—the right feel of two characters with a very long relationship, talking in a way that conveys their years of experience with one another. And, at the same time, hopefully being amusing and interesting.

It’s very dense writing, for all the fact that it doesn’t read that way. (Unlike, for example, a really good section of dense description, laden with meaning.) Part of the reason it works is because it feels so easy to the reader.

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Published on March 15, 2014 15:03 • 124 views

Here is the first batch of annotations for The Alloy of Law. As with all of the other annotations here on the site, each annotation contains spoilers for the current chapter. Spoilers for chapters after the current one are hidden by spoiler tags. We recommend you read the book before reading the annotations! Also, please note that there are not yet annotations for the prologue or first chapter.

Wayne imitates a constable

Writing this Wayne chapter was a pure delight. It was here that I was finally certain that I had his character down, following the misstarts before changing to this version of the story. Here is also where I made the decision that I’d chosen right in expanding the short story to a novel. For me, a single viewpoint character often isn’t enough to carry a novel. (Unless I’m doing a first-person narrative.)

Wayne, as a character, really grew into himself here. It is interesting to me how quickly he came together as I started working on this book. That first false start was awful—yet, once I started writing about him as a counterpoint to Wax, he just popped out fully formed, Athena-like, brimming with personality and strength.

I do worry that he’ll overshadow Wax a bit—which is one reason why it’s good to wait until chapter eight to give him a viewpoint. However, I think it is a matter of appeal. The two of them will appeal to different readers. I really like how the two play off one another and have different strengths.

By the way, I realize the cover has a problem with Wayne holding a gun. It wasn’t worth complaining about, as I felt that there needed to be a gun on the cover to indicate the shift in the Mistborn setting. However, Wax’s hands are both down low, so the gun really does need to be in Wayne’s hand. Just pretend he’s holding it for Wax.

Wayne’s adoption of personalities

One thing that I wanted to be aware of when writing Wayne was how he saw himself during these excursions where he becomes someone else. My first instinct was to blend the personality completely, until he was thinking of himself directly as the person he was imitating.

That felt like it went too far. For one thing, it was confusing to have the narrative not refer to him as “Wayne” but as the persona. For another, I didn’t want Wayne to go that far—in my mind, he always has control of these things. He’s not losing himself in his part; he’s always aware of who he really is and what he’s doing.

So, in a way, he’s a method actor. He reinforces who he is in his head, occasionally giving himself thoughts as the persona to remind himself to stay in character. He lets himself feel the emotions they do, and adopt their mannerisms. But it’s a coat he can take off or put back on. It’s not a psychosis. That was an important distinction for me to make as a writer.

He does, however, become more and more comfortable as he plays a role. One example of this is how Wayne still thinks of constables as being lazy partway through this, though he slowly loses his prejudice as he plays the role longer, shifting to thinking of them as “constables” instead of “conners” in the later part of the chapter.

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Published on March 15, 2014 15:03 • 99 views

Here is the first batch of annotations for The Alloy of Law. As with all of the other annotations here on the site, each annotation contains spoilers for the current chapter. Spoilers for chapters after the current one are hidden by spoiler tags. We recommend you read the book before reading the annotations! Also, please note that there are not yet annotations for the prologue or first chapter.

Marasi finds Waxillium experimenting with metals

I was very amused to find that the cover of this book had been steampunkified a little bit, with Waxillium having a pair of extraneous goggles on his head. But, to be fair, I did put some goggles in the book, so I guess I can’t complain too much.

One thing I was aware of when writing this book was that I didn’t want it to feel too much like Sherlock Holmes. There are a lot of paralells, as I mentioned in an earlier annotation. It was important to me to acknowledge the obvious influence to myself, but try to keep myself from falling too much into the same mold.

That’s kind of hard when the story is set up, basically, to be a mystery with an invesigator set in a similar time period to the Holmes stories. In my head, however, I decided this book would be more police procedural and less quirky-genius-does-deduction. I wanted Waxillium to be a cop, through and through, not an eccentric who solves cases out of curiosity. In that regard, Sam Vimes—from Terry Pratchett’s books—was almost as much of an inspiration as Holmes was.

Anyway, that’s all a side note to what is happening in this chapter. Waxillium is being methodical in the way he tracks down what is happening. He’s very much a step-by-step kind of guy in these matters. And now that he’s let himself loose and decided to be involved, he’s gone a little overboard.

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Published on March 15, 2014 15:02 • 96 views

Here is the first batch of annotations for The Alloy of Law. As with all of the other annotations here on the site, each annotation contains spoilers for the current chapter. Spoilers for chapters after the current one are hidden by spoiler tags. We recommend you read the book before reading the annotations! Also, please note that there are not yet annotations for the prologue or first chapter.

Chapter Six
The fight in the ballroom

From the early days of the Mistborn books, I’d been planning how an Allomantic gunfight would go down. I felt it the next evolution in what has been stylistically a big part of these books.

There is a fine line to walk in a lot of these sequences. I’ve made something of a name for myself in the fantasy world by attempting to mix some scientific reasoning with my magic systems. At the same time, Allomancy was designed precicely with action sequences in mind. I wanted them to be powerful and cinematic—and a cinematic fight sequence is often at odds with realism. (Watch two people who really know what they’re doing fight with swords sometime, then watch any fight sequence in a film. Most of the time, the film sequences stray far from what would really happen.)

So, as I said, I walk a line. Sometimes, there are things I just can’t do because they violate what I’ve set up as the rules of the world. Other times, I design the setting and nature of the fight specifically to allow for certain types of cinematic sequences. One thing I like a lot about Wax’s abilities is the power he has to manipulate his weight. There’s some realism to what he does—for example, increasing his weight doesn’t make him fall more quickly, but it allows him to do some powerful things while falling. Destroying the chandeliers is an example.

At the same time, I acknowledge that the weight manipulation aspect of Feruchemy is one of its more baffling powers, scientifically. Is he changing his mass? If so, he should become more dense, which I don’t actually make the case when it plays out in fights. (Otherwise, increasing his weight enough would make him impervious to bullets.) So, if it’s not mass manipulation, is it gravity manipulation, like Szeth and Kaladin do? Well, again, not really—as when his weight increases, his strength and ability to uphold that weight increase as well. Beyond that, Wax can’t make himself so light that he has no weight at all.

So . . . well, at this point, the ability to explain it scientifically breaks down. I do like what it does, but I have to set its boundaries and stick to them—and accept that some of what’s going on is irrational. (And don’t get me started on what should really be happening scientifically when Wayne slows time.)

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Published on March 15, 2014 15:01 • 104 views

Here is the first batch of annotations for The Alloy of Law. As with all of the other annotations here on the site, each annotation contains spoilers for the current chapter. Spoilers for chapters after the current one are hidden by spoiler tags. We recommend you read the book before reading the annotations! Also, please note that there are not yet annotations for the prologue or first chapter.

Chapter Five

I’ve mentioned before, obliquely in interviews, that Sazed transformed the koloss duing his ascention. Part of what he did restored their sentience to more human levels, and he changed the way they interact with Hemalurgy. (And that’s all I’ll say about it for now.)

Anyway, yes, it’s possible for someone to be a koloss-blood. I’m reserving an explanation for precicely what this is, and how it works, for a future book.

Waxillium gets pushed to the brink, watching the robbery

I realize it’s amusing for people to think of the process of this book, which began as a “short” story. Perhaps I’ll post my original attempts at writing the book. As a matter of note, Wayne was the first person I imagined for this series. In very early notes I scribbled down, he was actually going to be a hatmaker. (If you can believe that.) He developed a long way from there.

Many of you may know that I wrote this book during my “time off” between finishing Towers of Midnight and starting A Memory of Light. However, the ideas for this story had been around for some time longer, perhaps a year or two. I decided I wanted to do some shorter stories between the first two larger-scale Mistborn trilogies, and . . . well, this is what “short” means to me, I guess.

Anyway, the first scene with Wayne I dabbled in (this was before the break) was him out in the Roughs riding into town on a kandra that had the body of a horse. It was a nice spin on a typical Western motif—instead of being the quiet gunman of Western cliché, he was a screwball hatmaker. And his horse was sentient and grumbling about having to carry him around; she wanted to get back into a human body as soon as possible.

The scene didn’t work, though. I didn’t get far into it. Wayne wasn’t working for me as a main viewpoint character at that time, and I hadn’t gotten around to filling out his character with the things he eventually became. (His “borrowing,” his love of accents, his good nature despite a dark past. Things like this grew as his character became more deep.)

The other thing that didn’t work in those original scenes was the fact that there was no Wax. Wayne needed someone to play off, someone to be dry and more solumn—but still make for good banter. And Wayne just wasn’t a leading man. The story was wrong when it was just about him. I needed to tell a story about someone else and fit him into it.

That brings us to this sequence. When I planned the original short story, this sequence at the party was going to be the end of it. The Vanishers weren’t in the book—it was just a simple gang of thieves taking a hostage. The prologue didn’t exist, as I’ve spoken of earlier. It was a more simple story of a man coming into his own and deciding to fight again after losing someone dear to him.

For that reason, this sequence here—this chapter with the next—may feel like a climactic sequence to you, of the stort you often find at the end of my books. Originally, this was going to be the ending. (Though by the time I reached this chapter in the writing, I’d already decided I was going to make the story much longer, and had greatly expanded my outline. Hints of the story’s origins can still be found, however. Note that we don’t get a Wayne or a Marasi viewpoint until after this sequence when we hit the expanded outline material.)

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Published on March 15, 2014 15:00 • 96 views