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By JenniferL, in A Memory of Light,

Earlier this week, Orbit, the UK publisher for The Wheel of Time series, released a video promoting a November 2012 release date for A Memory of Light. This prompted many fans to ask whether or not this was indeed the official release, especially as it contradicted earlier estimates that the book might be ready in time for a March 2012 release.   Blogger Adam Whitehead, of the popular review site "The Wertzone", went straight to the source and asked Brandon Sanderson on Twitter for us:   I thought that was still up in the air and an earlier release was possible (especially if @BrandSanderson delivers by Jan 2012).   And received the following response:   @Werthead The date hasn't been picked yet, so theoretically anything next year is possible.   @Werthead However, realistically, I doubt Tor will pass up the holiday season for the last WoT book. Or at least the summer season.   @Werthead While they COULD pick spring, it wouldn't make much sense marketing wise, and I think Harriet wants a good six months to edit.   @Werthead That means July is the earliest, November the latest, we will see the book. I'd put my money on somewhere in-between.   Justin Golenbock, Senior Publicist for Tor Books and the guy who handles publicity for The Wheel of Time and Sanderson's other books, also chimed in:   @Werthead Adam, we have Nov 12 as well, but that's tentative based on final editing. Harriet's in the drivers seat on the pub date:)   So there you have it, folks. Team Jordan is still on track to get the final Wheel of Time volume out to us next year. It looks like a spring release is no longer an option and the earliest we could reasonably expect to see the book will be next summer. As soon as we have a firm release date from the publishers, we'll update the site and our A Memory of Light information page to reflect that.   On a related note, JordanCon, a non-profit fantasy literature convention founded in honor of Robert Jordan, is currently running a drawing with the prize being a chance to get your name in A Memory of Light. The money is going to help defray JordanCon's operating costs, with a percentage being set aside for the Mayo Clinic's Amyloidosis research fund. The drawing runs until December, but Sanderson is already choosing names. If you'd like to enter, please visit www.jordancon.org.

By Tynaal Consen, in Rotating Features,

In our last Wheel of Time merchandise blogs, we had a look at Wheel of Time inspired jewelry and clothing. Now, we shall be focusing our attention on something you can't really wear. Well, you can't wear it easily in today's day and age, but it's something I am sure any aspiring Warder, Band of the Red Hand member, or Algai'd'siswai would love to have.   Have you ever wanted to be a blademaster, but couldn't find a panel to judge you? Well, give the panel a pass and just go buy yourself a heron-mark sword! You can find these swords both on Swords of Honor and Museum Replicas. The swords seem to have really good craftsmanship. The only downside is the price. I personally thought it was a very steep price until I compared it to what you pay for modern hunting bows here in South Africa. After comparing the prices, it seems quite reasonable. So, if a heron-mark sword is something you have always wanted and you're willing to pay the price, go for it!   If you're not a fan of our goldenboy Rand and would prefer to have an axe like Perrin, check this out. They have one that you can buy. If you're a supporter of Mat or Birgitte instead, then you can have a look at the selection of staves and bows that the three sites I linked you to have.   My last word of advice is that you should please be careful with the weapons and consider taking a beginners' course to perfect your handling of them. You should especially do this if you're considering getting a crossbow, sword, axe, or the like.

By Jason Denzel, in A Memory of Light,

Orbit Books, the publisher for the The Wheel of Time books in the United Kingdom and other territories, has launched an exciting marketing campaign to encourage people to re-engage in the series before A Memory of Light is released next year.   The campaign, called "Turn the Wheel of Time", features a fun video, as well as a free give-away tote-bag to the first 500 people who "Like" their Facebook page. (Only open to residents who live in countries where Orbit publishes their books. Sorry, Americans!) Here's the video:   http://www.youtube.com/embed/5RQCwSrtt74" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>   Helpful Links "Turn the Wheel of Time" Press Release "Turn the Wheel of Time" Facebook page A Memory of Light information page Follow Orbit Books on Twitter (@orbitbooks)   No release date for A Memory of Light has been announced or confirmed. The video above says it will be out in November, 2012, but that is just speculation on Orbit's part. At this time, expect the book to be released anywhere from mid to late 2012.   As always, keep checking back with our website for the latest and greatest news related to AMOL. You can also follow us on twitter @dragonmount, or at facebook.com/dragonmount

By JenniferL, in Fan Art Friday,

So my inbox has been flooded lately with a ton of "Have you seen this???" kind of emails. What are they buzzing about? The art of Ariel Burgess, also known as Reddera in our Gallery and on DeviantArt, of course!     According to her website, Ariel is a professional working artist who accepts commissions for a wide variety of work. That makes her fan art extra special to me. For professional artists, their time is money and any time spent working on unpaid projects is time that could have been spent working on a commission. So you know someone is truly interested in creating awesome fan art when they do that.     Ariel has been working for several months on creating character portraits for what she hopes will eventually become a Wheel of Time themed deck of cards. I have no idea if she's in touch with Team Jordan regarding this, but I hope she is. The quality of the art is excellent and I feel a need to encourage her with money.     My only quibble is that the watermark she puts on these is very big and distracting. Oh well. You can see more of Ariel's fan art and get the latest updates on her project by following her on Facebook.   On a side note, Brandon Sanderson and JordanCon are holding another one of those "Get your name in a Wheel of Time book" thingies. You can get more information about how to participate here.

By Tynaal Consen, in Rotating Features,

Welcome back, folks!   It’s that time of the month again, when I have fun bringing Dragonmount a little bit closer to you. Last week, I introduced the Discussion forums to you and this week, we’ll be heading over to the Social Community of Dragonmount, as it is called. There are nine places where you can become a member.   First, we have the Artists, Crafters, and Writers Guild. Here you will find anything that a creative mind can desire. The name sums it up pretty well, really. If you like to draw, play around in Photoshop, write poetry or epic stories, or even if you’re one of those people who are killers with knitting needles, you’ll be sure to find some kindred spirits on this board.   Before I introduce the other eight boards to you, I will tell you what they’re about in a nutshell. These boards are referred to as “Social Groups”. So, as the name implies, they’re all about being social. Each one is built around the ideas of a different organization or society within the Wheel of Time. But, you don’t only get the chance to interact with fellow Wheel of Time lovers--I mean, that’d get pretty boring after a while, don’t you think? By joining any one of these Social Groups, you start off as an Initiate, Gai’shan, Civilian, Pup, or whichever rank is applicable for the group. After that, you have the opportunity to gain rank by doing various things within the group. Just as every group is based around a different theme, every group has its own ranks and raising procedures.   First off, we have the Aiel. They’re one of the pretty close-knit groups and have a very friendly and stimulating environment. You can strive to become an Algai'd'siswai or choose the path of a Wise One. For our music loving travelers, we have The Band of the Red Hand, by whose fireplaces you can find a seat and enjoy good company. Then there’s the Black Tower. If you enjoy spamming and would like to be rewarded for doing it, join the Black Tower and start posting to your heart's content. You’ll be a full-ranked member in no time. A very open, friendly, and cozy group is that of the Kin, where they focus on friendship, sharing, exchanges, and just having a good time together. For those who live for the stories in books or thrive on history, old battles, and military tactics (simply a few topics among many), the Ogier would be a perfect fit. Every group of people needs some bad kids; well, we’ve got them, and they reside in Shayol Ghul. Jokes aside, though, if you’re into random mayhem and a wicked sense of humor, this is one Social Group that you cannot pass by. Ever wished you could become an Aes Sedai or a Warder? Well, then sign up for the White Tower & Warders, where you can strive to become just that. Last but not least, we have the wonderful Wolfkin. This group focuses on all things related to nature and its members have a very playful side to them, so if you like the outdoors and are up for some fun, go check them out.   Phew, that was quite a bit to tell you guys. Can’t decide which Social Group you like the most? Well, check them all out! There is no limit on the number of groups that you can join, so knock yourself out. I hope you all take the time to pop into the Social Groups, as they are really quite fun. If you would prefer to get a feel for the group before joining, then feel welcome to post on their public boards and interact with the members. So, until next time!

By Dwynwen, in Community & Events,

Remember when Ta'veren Tees gave you the chance to vote for a new shirt design? Well, the results are in, and the new design has arrived! Here is the press release:     That's not all the exciting news! Ta'veren Tees has a contest going on now called "Ta'veren Tee Tuesdays on Twitter" where a random follower on Twitter will be chosen to receive a free shirt each Tuesday in October. Head over to Twitter now and follow them.

By Dwynwen, in DM Website news,

Ah, there's nothing like the start of October to let you know that autumn is truly here. It still feels like summer here in California, but it's nice to know that the seasons are changing elsewhere. From the comfort of my air-conditioned home, I bring you the latest happenings from our forums:   Who doesn't love loony theories and zany predictions? Stop by this thread in our General Wheel of Time Discussion forum to read and share some real doozies.   Do we have any Doctor Who fans in the house? If so, don't miss our ongoing discussion of the latest installment in our TV Show Discussion forum.   The October Challenge for the Artists, Crafters, and Writers Guild is Fright Night. Come discuss and make things related to Halloween, ghosts, or other spooky things.   After you've been scared silly, continue down the forums to the Aiel Social Group and laugh it off by partaking in their Humor Month festivities. Look here for the continuously updated list of events, including contests, games, and discussions.   The Wolfkin Social Group is holding a pumpkin carving contest this month. Do you think you have the skills to win?   A new role play has begun this week, and there's already plenty of action in the first post. Come check out Catch Me If You Can.   If you want to know more about why it's necessary to do a fundraiser for JordanCon, read more about it here. Also, in addition to watching our front page, keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook accounts.   Have fun, everyone!

By hazelkrs1, in Theory Blog,

Shalom, my perspicacious patrons of Dragonmount! Welcome to another week of your favorite Dragonmount front page blog, "It Works in Theory." I almost feel lazy in choosing the topic for today's entry, since it's a subject that came up in the comments of last week's blog. I'll go ahead and warn you right now--we're going to be getting our hands dirty today. Before we begin, here's our weekly disclaimer:   WARNING!!! Spoiler Alert!!! WARNING!!!   This blog is based on theories that will include facts and material from the latest books in the series, so if you have not read through Towers of Midnight, continue reading at your own risk! The odds of there being any truly insightful material in "It Works in Theory" are approximately 1 out of 153,294,586. Please read responsibly. Think of the time spent reading and hoping to glean actually useful information from the blog as the cost of your entertainment. Think of actually finding said information as a bonus. Expect not to read anything useful; odds are there won't be anything of note worth reading about. Don't read to win back lost time. The more you try to recoup lost time, the more you will lose.   Today, we'll be discussing the nature and method involved in the cleansing of the Taint and its relationship with Shadar Logoth. There seemed to be somewhat of a divide over this issue. It essentially boiled down to two different perspectives:   1. The only place Rand could have cleansed the Taint was at Shadar Logoth, because of Mashadar's ability to counter the Dark One.   2. Mashadar didn't help contribute to the cleansing. Rand could have done it anywhere but figured by doing it at Shadar Logoth he'd kill two birds with one stone when the aftermath destroyed the surrounding area.   First, let's examine the nature of the relationship between the evil of the Dark One and the evil of Mashadar. There is a great quote right before the cleansing begins that describes the relationship very aptly.     Rand has been corrupted or tainted with his own double dose of evil presences, once when Moridin pierced his side in The Great Hunt, and the other when Padan Fain cut him with the ruby dagger in A Crown of Swords. Even before the amazing Ashaman Healer Flinn isolated both wounds together, the two evils seemed to exist in counterbalance, both diametrically opposed to one another.   There's also a strong precedent for Mashadar and the forces of the Shadow having it out for each other: The citizens of Aridhol essentially created Mashadar to somehow counter the evil power of the Dark One, even though they knew its origins were spawned from other questionable sources. Then there's the way Mashadar seems to be attracted to Shadowspawn, and the way that Shadowspawn seem to be attracted to the evil in the ruby dagger that Mat carries for a time. If you visit the WOTFAQ, there's a great article that examines some of the questions involving the cleansing of the Taint and the relationship between Mashadar and the Taint.   So, why don't the Mashadar taint and the Dark One's taint destroy themselves in the wound in Rand's side? And how does it make sense to use Mashadar to filter the taint out of saidin, when this seems analogous to using an oily rag to clean up a stain on the carpet? Well, my theory is that even though the separate corruptions are isolated together, they are still reacting more strongly to Rand and his ta'veren nature than they are to each other. They both hate each other, but they share the same strong aversion to Rand. He also struggles so obstinately against evil, which might actually be keeping the two forces from starting to destroy each other.   As for the oily rag metaphor, the important thing to remember is the mechanics of the filter he set up to cleanse saidin. It was constructed almost purely out of saidar, and its use of Mashadar existed in somewhere to deposit the befouled substance of the Taint. Because of the way Mashadar and the Dark One's influence seem to attract one other, Shadar Logoth acted like a big magnet to help draw the Taint in. It's almost similar to the way you would dispose or neutralize an acid spill. Using something pure and non-acidic, like water, won't do much but dilute the acid somewhat. Introduce a basic (above 7 on Ph scale, whereas acids are below 7 on the scale) to the mixture that is the mathematical antithesis to the acid and the two substances balance each other out. The actual process of how Mashadar and the Taint destroy each other is probably more like the instantaneous annihilation of particles that occurs when matter and anti-matter come in contact with each other, but we have to remember we're talking about a theoretical confrontation between two supernatural sources, so a simple and perfectly fitting real-life analogy won't be easy to find.   For those wanting to see more explanation of the process used in the cleansing of the Taint, there is a site known as "Thus Spake the Creator" in which Robert Jordan answers questions that readers have posed to him over the years. One category in the site encompasses any issues involving the One Power, the True Power, and channeling. If you go about halfway down the page, there is a long paragraph devoted to an explanation Robert Jordan gave someone who was wondering exactly how saidin was cleansed. Jordan describes it as being similar to siphoning off another liquid, so in that analogy, imagine you just pumped a lot of bad gasoline into your car's fuel tank and you need to extract all the bad gasoline out so it doesn't harm the engine. Let's imagine in this hypothetical scenario that bad gas is attracted to filthy old motor oil. If you insert a tube into the fuel tank and start the suction just enough to get the gas to start flowing into a container holding the motor oil, you then have to just sit back and allow the oil to continue drawing in the imperfect gasoline from the fuel tank.   There's still a few loose ends in this issue, at least regarding the relationship between Mashadar and the Dark One's influence. We know that the Taint is gone, yet the Taint itself wasn't a completely abnormal occurrence. In a letter to Paul Ward in March of 2000, Robert Jordan sheds some light on this issue (here's the link to the transcript of the letter):     We also know that Mashadar is gone as well for the most part, except for what escaped into Fain's body, and the part located in Rand's wound. My question is this: what will be the role Mashadar, and Fain specifically, will play in the Last Battle? I've always felt Fain as a character reminded me a lot of Gollum from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. His gaunt, ghastly appearance, the way he's always slinking around following the main characters, the way he clutches his dagger like his very own precious...what if he ends up playing a similar role in Rand's final confrontation with the Dark One as Gollum did at the end of that series? He shows up, determined to use his last attempt to take down either Rand or the Dark One, and inadvertently ends up helping to save the day.   Another situation when I can see the relationship between Mashadar and the Dark One having some significance is in the prophesied letting out of Rand's blood on the rocks of Shayol Ghul. This has to do with my theory concerning the importance of Rand's blood, which is still being fleshed out somewhat, so I'll leave that for another day. For now, I shall have to bid you adieu, and leave you with one of my favorite quotes in the series, at the very end of Winter's Heart:  

By JenniferL, in JordanCon,

The Robert Jordan estate, Brandon Sanderson, and JordanCon, Inc. are pleased to announce a joint effort to raise money for two incredible not-for-profit organizations and offer fans the chance to become a named character in the final installment of A Memory of Light. Fans will have two opportunities to participate in this fundraising effort.   The first option will be a highest-bidder auction through eBay’s eBay Giving Works. The highest bidder in this auction will be memorialized as a character (physical description, name within guidelines) in the final installment of The Wheel of Time. This auction will run from November 1 to November 10.   The second option is through a drawing. Fans who donate $10 will have their names entered into a drawing to be included in the final installment of A Memory of Light. The final number of names drawn is determined by Brandon Sanderson as dictated by the needs of the story. Donating is not a guarantee that you will be included.   The Mayo Clinic, a non-profit organization and premier medial research center; as well as JordanCon, a literary convention and non-profit organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, are both set to benefit from this fundraiser. WHAT IS JORDANCON?   www.JordanCon.org   JordanCon is a fantasy literature convention founded in honor of the late author, Robert Jordan. Jordan was the author of the bestselling The Wheel of Time series. JordanCon features four tracks of simultaneous programming, a Dealers Hall, and charity events benefiting the Mayo Clinic. Past guests have included Harriet McDougal, Brandon Sanderson, David Wong, Jana G. Oliver, David B. Coe, and Eugie Foster.   New to JordanCon this year will be the Art Show featuring art from a variety of fantasy and sci fi artists. Guests this year will include author Mary Robinette Kowal, artist Sam Weber, and Toastmaster Melissa Craib Dombrowski.   Please note that JordanCon, Inc. has applied for tax-exempt status as a 501©3 corporation. While they are awaiting the final verdict from the IRS, they are allowed to begin soliciting donations. Their tax-exempt status will be retroactively applied to the day of the filing.   WHAT IS THE MAYO CLINIC?   www.MayoClinic.com   For more than 100 years, Mayo Clinic has inspired hope and contributed to health and well-being by providing the best care to every patient through integrated clinical practice, education, and research. Today, your generosity is at the heart of sustaining Mayo's mission.   As a not-for-profit organization, Mayo Clinic reinvests all earnings into improving patient care. Yet philanthropy provides essential support as we develop better methods to understand, predict, prevent, diagnose, and treat disease, and train the next generation of physicians and scientists. Mayo Clinic has more than 3,300 physicians, scientists, and researchers from every medical specialty. They work together with 46,000 allied health employees to care for more than half a million patients each year, from every U.S. state and many countries.   In 2006, Robert Jordan was diagnosed with cardiac amyloidosis, which is a rare blood disease where abnormal proteins form in the bone marrow and become deposited in the patient's heart. During his illness, Robert Jordan received treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and encouraged his fans to donate in support of the clinic. JordanCon is proud to continue to honor that request each year through various charitable fundraisers at the convention.   Q & A   If I donate, what happens to the money?   All funds received will go directly to JordanCon with 10% of the proceeds going to the Mayo Clinic.   May I participate in both?   Yes, you may participate in both the General Auction and the Drawing. Please note you cannot win more than one character named for you. Please follow these instructions! In the notes section, include your full name and email address.   What are the rules for naming characters?   You may use your name or an appropriate name of your choice, but the author reserves the right to approve it or change it to fit the type of character created. A physical description of yourself may be used.   How long is the Fundraiser and when will winners be announced?   The drawing will run from October 1 to December 1, 2011, and winners will be announced at www.jordancon.org. The auction will begin on November 1 and end on November 10. We will announce the winner of the auction and the first name drawn by Brandon Sanderson. All future names drawn will be announced via Brandon’s website.   Can I be entered multiple times in the General Drawing by giving several donations?   Yes! For every $10 you donate, you name will be entered into the drawing. If you donate $100, your name will be entered 10 times. However, your name can only appear once in the story.   I am trying to donate to the General Auction or enter the Drawing, but have difficulties. Who do I contact?   You must contact eBay for issues regarding payments. They are our vendor handling all the transactions. If you are having an issue with the drawing, please contact jordancon@jordancon.org.   May I pay by check or cash?   At this time we are only able to accept credit card, debit, or PayPal as methods of donation.   Who is eligible to win?   All fans are eligible to win with the exception of members of JordanCon, Incorporated’s board of directors and their immediate families.   I have questions about my privacy.   All donors give consent to have their names published publicly. This is done to ensure fairness and so you may see that your name did go through before we randomly draw the winners for the Drawing. All winners, including the General Auction winner, further agree to allow us to use their names to announce them as the donors selected to be used in A Memory of Light, including use of their names in any publicity associated with The Wheel of Time in this regard.   Private information such as contact emails and phone numbers will be given to Brandon Sanderson in case he chooses to use additional names at a later time. All other copies will be destroyed.   What if I have more questions?   Please send them to jordancon@jordancon.org with a subject heading indicating your question.

By Dwynwen, in Community & Events,

L.E. Modesitt, Jr., the author of The Saga of Recluce and other series, recently visited Dragonmount for a Q&A session. The following is a compilation of all the questions and answers from his visit.   Q: Dragonmount is fortunate to have joining us this week world famous author L.E. Modesitt. He is creator of The Saga of Recluce and The Spellsong Cycle. He will soon be releasing a new book in The Imager Portfolio. Now he is here to answer questions from YOU! Please post your questions below and Mr. Modesitt will check in as he is able to answer them. So let's give Mr. Modesitt a warm Dragonmount welcome!   A: I just wanted to say that I'm pleased to be here, and whatever the question you might have, I'll do my best to answer it--and it doesn't have to be just on my fantasy series books.     Q: Thank you very much for appearing today, Mr. Modesitt. I guess I'll begin.   Where did you get the idea for using the magic system you have, with order and chaos and them being in balance? Taking it further, you write about some of the effects that the magic has on people and places. Why did you choose to focus on this to such an extent?   A: You've actually raised two questions about the Saga of Recluce. The short answer for why I chose order and chaos as the opposite poles, if you will, for the magic system was that they're really an analogue in some ways to the construct of structured matter and entropy, and, at the same time, to static order and unfocused raw energy, in our universe. If you're interested in the very detailed explanation, I actually wrote an article about this for Black Gate magazine [issue 13], which has also been reprinted in the limited hardcover anniversary edition from Subterranean Press.   As for the issue about the far-reaching impact of magic, that's because of my view of what magic would be in any realistic human society. Human beings are tool-users. Anything that we can use in a practical fashion as a tool, we do. And all tool use has impacts that reverberate throughout the world. In any world where magic is workable, we'd work it as a tool, and there would be implications far beyond the immediate use. Another reason for my focus and concern about effects was that, especially at the time that I wrote The Magic of Recluce, far too many authors were ignoring the obvious costs and repercussions of magic use, and just concentrating on the "gee-whiz, that's neat" aspects. Thankfully, this has changed considerably [but not vanished]over the past 20 years.     Q: I've just started a re-read of Fall of Angels, and one thing that has always struck me in that book is the name "Rationalists". As the decendants of the Rationalists are generally cast as the antagonists of the Recluce saga, and they're referred to as demons, it always struck me as an odd name. It doesn't conjur visions of a warlike people for me. I was wondering if you were ever planning to cover them, or their universe of origin, in more detail? Apologies if you already have, I haven't read any of the material that takes place BEFORE the Fall in the Recluce saga.   A: There's quite a bit more background about the descendants of the "Rationalists" in Magi'i of Cyador and its sequel Scion of Cyador, but those events take place on Recluce hundreds of years after the founding of Cyad. At present, I have no plans to write about any events that take place before the "Rationalists" land on the world of Recluce.     Q: Do you write when you get inspiration or do you write a certain amount of hours every day? When do you get your best ideas?   A: Except when I'm traveling, or in case of various catastrophes, I write almost every day, usually from around nine in the morning until nine at night, with time out for dogs, preparing and eating meals, and various errands.   As a writer, I don't believe in waiting for inspiration. It's our task to create it.     Q: A couple of questions:   1. How much time do you like to spend on creating the environment for a book (world, characters, history, etc.) before actually writing the book?   2. What is your favorite part of the writing process?   A: It's hard to quantify exactly how much time I do spend on setting up a new book, or especially a new series, because I usually think about aspects of it, on and off, for some time before I even sit down to formally develop the background and the culture, but it does take several weeks at a bare minimum.   As for what I like most about the writing process...I can't really say I like one part more than any other--but the hardest part is when I'm roughly three quarters through a new book and it feels as though I'll never finish it...and that it's terrible.     Q: When you reach that "mid-book slush" where you are pushing towards the end, how do you deal with that? How do you push through that and write a satisfying ending?   Also, in the Imager Portfolio, you write in the 1st person POV. I have begun to see this more often in SF/F and wonder what drew you to 1st person POV as opposed to the "standard" 3rd person limited?   A: I just push through it, knowing that it's just part of the process.   As for first person viewpoint, it's nothing new for me. Actually, my very first book was written in the first person, and that was more than 30 years ago. From an authorial point of view, I believe that an author should choose viewpoint based on the needs of the story. In the case of The Magic of Recluce, for example, the story would have been a total disaster if told in the third person, because Lerris would have come off as a totally spoiled brat as opposed to a well-meaning but clueless young man who was initially too immature for the position in which he found himself.     Q: Which part of your stories do you usually find come the easiest? Meaning, characters, setting, actual plot of what the whole story will be about, what seems to flow easiest for you? And which are harder?   When you first get the idea to start a new work, do you start building off the same point? Do you think of a world and create a story around it, or think of a character and create plot for them? Or does it change with each new idea for a story?   A: That part which is the most difficult tends to vary book by book, although describing the actual setting [as opposed to the structural backdrop of culture, geography, government, magic system] is never as difficult as other aspects. Dialogue usually is less of a problem, but that's likely because it rests on all the harder aspects, which have to come before.   Where books come from for me depends more on the kind of book. With fantasy novels, a great amount of the genesis arises from thinking about the interplay between culture, economics, and the magic system...and how characters can find themselves in trouble. With my science fiction, usually the plot and characters come from the overall situation I'm thinking about...but I can't tell you from where those situations come, except from a wide, wide range of reading and processing by my subconscious, prodded by sharp mental questions of my own.   Call it a fusion of a trusted intuition with more information than is likely good for a sane mind.     Q: When did you know that writing was more than just a hobby for you? Was it difficult to make the switch from hobby to career?   A: Writing was NEVER a hobby for me. I started out writing poetry in high school, got some of it published in small literary magazines in my twenties, then moved to writing short stories and finally novels over a twenty-year period. From high school on, writing was what I wanted to do. What was difficult was getting established enough as a writer to move from the well-paid day job [and it was] to a self-sustaining writer. The first two years after I did so [and that was after having already published something like nine novels, all of which earned out] resulted in something like a forty percent income cut.   But I persevered, and one of the things that still drives me is that I never want to go back to work for anyone else again.     Q: Do you ever grow attached to the characters you are writing, and have trouble putting them in difficult situations?   A: Not since an early novel, when my then-teenaged son informed me that I needed to abuse my characters more...I do grow attached to them, but I enjoy figuring out how they can plausibly and practically surmount such difficulties.     Q: Hi there, and wonderful to see you on DM.   What is your preferred method of writing? I.e. using a desktop, laptop, or old style pen and paper? Do you carry something around to take notes on for when ideas strike you at odd times? DO ideas strike you at odd times?   A: My preferred method of writing is on computer, usually a desktop. I started out writing with a typewriter because my penmanship is lousy, and I get writer's cramp after a few hundred words, if not sooner.   Ideas do strike me at odd times, but I can usually remember them long enough to get back to where I can jot down notes [and those I do jot down at times with a pen].     Q: Hello, and welcome.   A persistent area of debate among WoT fans is around the treatment of gender issues in Jordan's books. Gender was a key component of your earlier Recluce novels, but seems to have become less important over time. Why is that? Have you simply said what you wanted to say on the matter, or is there another reason it has faded into the background?   Thanks.   Q: I love the Recluce saga and have read it a number of times. When it comes to stories I have read, I always come up with the same questions. I love behind the scenes things and what I wonder for you is, were there any scenes or moments that you wanted so badly to include but just couldn't find a way to make them work? Were there any unexpected occurrences that you wrote that surprised even you because it was just the logical course the character should have taken? Or are you more methodical with your writing and your characters go exactly where you want them to? I promise, last question, and it has nothing to do with writing: For an amusing, light-hearted read, what would you recommend?   Q: I really love the Imager books, but must admit that the Recluce tales are my favorite books. Do you think you will write more of them? I read the Forever Hero saga last month for the first time, and the first thing I noticed was that your style of writing was completely different from the Recluce and Imager novels. Was this a conscious thing or not?   Q: Thanks for joining us, Mr. Modesitt. One thing that caught my attention in your Recluce novels was the third-person present tense you wrote in; not many writers use it and it was jarring at first, then kind of captivating. How did you hit on that, and what made you use it?   Q: Mr. Modesitt, it's a pleasure having you on DM, and I'd like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer questions.   What sort of material do you draw your creative influence from? Do you listen to certain music or movies? Also, how do you develop a character's personality? Do you draw from real life people you know?   A: I'll try to answer several of your questions in one posting.   Recluce, Gender, and the Future of the Saga   Actually, I haven't gotten away from gender issues at all in the Saga of Recluce. The very latest Recluce book--Arms-Commander--deals with a number of those issues...and needless to say...there have been at least a few readers who didn't like it.   I'm somewhere in the middle on the question of "character control," because I know my characters well enough when I start writing that they end up largely where I felt that they would, but a number of times I've ended up changing the path they took to get there because it became obvious for various reasons [their character, the acts of others, culture] that what I'd initially considered wouldn't work or might not be true to their character.   I have plans for at least one more Recluce book, although it's likely to be more than a year from now before I can get to it, given what I'm already committed to writing.   Writing in the Present Tense   As a number of readers have noticed over the years, I'm one of a handful of writers who regularly writes books in the present tense. It's not for shock value, or to do something different, but because each tense has strengths and weaknesses. Third person past tense, which is the "traditional" tense, especially for F&SF, is the most accepted and the most forgiving. It's the easiest to handle, and it can cover a multitude of sins, and it allows a great deal of exposition without it being that obvious. Third person present tense, on the other hand, can be unforgiving and requires a tight focus on what is happening "now" close to the character. For certain books and characters, I've found that it is better suited for what I had in mind for the character and the story.   Styles   A number of my science fiction books are written in what might be called a harder-edged style than my fantasy works. That was a deliberate choice, based on the story and the characters. In some books, such as Archform: Beauty and The Eternity Artifact, the style changes with the character narrating that section.   Sources and Research   There's no way to pin down all the sources from which I draw. I read a tremendous amount of non-fiction and science periodicals; I worked full-time in a range of occupations for more than twenty-five years before I became a full-time writer, and I'm married to a singer, opera director, and academic whose brain I pick as much as possible.   I don't generally lift characters "whole" from people I know, although there are one or two exceptions where characters contain large "segments" of people I know, the most obvious being Anna Marshall and Johan Eschbach. I don't listen to music at all when I write; it's far too distracting, although certain musical themes and elements have made their way into my books.   Recommendations   I don't do the total "light-hearted" books, but one I recently read and enjoyed that has an uplifting tone and ending, at least to me, was Mary Robinette Kowal's Shades of Milk and Honey.     Q: What other authors do you think have most influenced your own work--and what other authors do you admire?   A: Most likely, every author I've ever read has influenced what and how I write, either in a negative or positive way. In the F&SF field, I tend to admire specific works, rather than authors. Some of those that influenced me stand out at the moment [others might stand out at a different moment], and those are Creatures of Light and Darkness (Zelazny), Soldier, Ask Not! (Dickson), The Stars My Destination (Bester), and The Left Hand of Darkness (LeGuin).   I also have great fondness and respect for the poets William Butler Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, and W.H. Auden.     Q: So, what do you do with the time that you aren't writing? Any hobbies like hiking, piano,...painting?   Also, after you finish a book, do you "go crazy" and take a vacation or something, or do you jump right in and start something new?   A: I'm not much of a "hobby" or "gadget" guy, nor a collector. I do take a fairly long morning walk at a good pace through the hills near the house, combining exercise and pleasure, pretty much every morning before I get cleaned up and start writing. I did paint at one time in my teens and twenties, but gave it up because my physical abilities weren't equal to my mental concepts...as was also the case with playing the clarinet. The same was true of wood-working. But, in the end, what I find enjoyable is the life of the mind in a healthy body, and I try to keep both mind and body in shape.     Q: Would you like to live in any of the "worlds" you have created? If so, which one?   A: Over the years, I've been asked that question a number of times, and I have to answer indirectly. There is a Chinese curse, and it is a curse, that runs, "May you live in interesting times." As a writer, I write about "interesting times" in the worlds I've developed. Interesting times are times of turmoil and conflict, and I've lived through enough interesting times in my own life that I have no desire to live in interesting times elsewhere. In addition, as I've noted before, although I don't generally emphasize this side of my writing in talking about it, because, despite my cynicism, I'm an optimist by nature, all of my books have a dark side to the cultures I'm depicting...if you as a reader look closely. Anyone who thinks I write about pollyanna worlds or characters isn't looking beyond the obvious. Just take Lerris, in The Magic of Recluce. By the end of the second book, he's lost all but one person of all those he loved and who loved him. Or Anna Marshall of the Spellsong Cycle...or Rhenn of the Imager Portfolio...   The human toll is high in my books, and that's because of the cultures and situations, and I'm really not interested in living in those situations.     Q: Do you enjoy doing book tours and other aspects of the public life of an author, or would you rather be at home writing?   A: I like meeting people when I do tours and conventions, but I dislike the actual travel, largely because from where I live any appearance, except in Las Vegas or Salt Lake City, requires air travel, and that's gotten to be more and more of a hassle. I generally have been traveling for book-related appearances 4-6 weeks a year, and for me that's about all I really want to do. More than that gets physically exhausting, in addition to cutting into writing, and I still get a feeling of satisfaction from creating and completing books.     Q: You have been publishing SF/F since before the Internet and PCs. How has writing changed in that time? How has the market shifted in style and preference?   A: I was first published when the most advanced method of physically producing a story was the electric typewriter, and indeed, my first story was written [because I've always written prose on a keyboard of some sort] on a portable electric typewriter, a Smith-Corona, as I recall. Technology, in the form of the computer, has indeed made a change in writing...and indeed in the entire publishing business. Those changes, as with most changes, have not been uniformly good. The good news is that I don't have to retype an entire manuscript for each draft, and for each set of editorial requests. The computer does make the production of a manuscript and subsequent revisions much easier, but it also has resulted in changes in the editorial process. Because changes can be made more easily, it seems to me that editors are asking for more changes. Second, it has changed the entire submission process. When I started writing, anyone could send a manuscript "over the transom," if you will, to almost any publishing house, and the likelihood was great that it would be read. It might be rejected, but it would be read, and that was, in fact, how I first got published, with blind submissions to magazines and then to publishing houses. Today, while this is still possible in the magazine field, only one or two major publishing houses [if that] now accept unsolicited manuscripts, and that means that new writers have to either find agents or network well enough to get an editor at a publishing house to agree to look at a manuscript. Why has this happened? Because the computer made production of a manuscript so much easier that publishing houses found themselves deluged with manuscripts. Since publishing is a comparatively low margin business, the publishers have effectively pushed the "screening" of manuscripts back onto agents. In my view, this has tended to stifle originality, because agents are in business for the money, and most don't feel that they can afford to spend time and effort to send a manuscript that has limited appeal to a score of editors--at least not very often. It took me more than a few rejections to find an editor who liked what I wrote, and even to this day, only a comparatively small number of editors like my style. I suspect that I'd have an even harder time breaking in today, and so will new writers whose work doesn't bear a similarity to other work already published.   The other difference I see is that young writers tend to be more imitative in their style, but I honestly can't say whether it's because the market only publishes imitative fiction or because that's the majority of what's being written.   Another difference lies in the distribution system. When I started, there were roughly 1,500 book wholesalers in the United States. Today, there are literally only a handful. This means that a handful of buyers determine what goes into the wholesale markets. In addition, the wholesale market has shrunk enormously. Thirty years ago, the main publication for a F&SF novel was in paperback, not hardcover. For high midlist or low bestseller list authors, 20 years ago, initial paperback print runs used to be 50,000-100,000 copies. Now, they're 20,000-50,000...and in recent years, publishers have decided not to print mass-market paperbacks of books that haven't sold well in hardcover. Ebooks, of course, were unheard of, and it will be interesting to see to what degree they either supplement or supplant hardcovers and mass-market paperbacks.   Although Tolkien came out in the US while I was in college, fantasy was almost non-existent as a genre when I started. Now, by some accounts, it's three quarters, if not more, of the F&SF market...and publishers are having a difficult time in finding good hard SF novels.   I could go on and on...but those are some of the more notable changes.     Q: One thing I'm curious about is, where would you recommend that someone new to your work start reading? (I usually recommend The Magic Engineer, but I might be biased as that was the first of yours that I discovered.)   A: One of the problems I have in recommending a "first" book of mine for readers new to my work is that even in one of my series the style, POV, and tense vary from book to book. In the Saga of Recluce, for example, the first book (The Magic of Recluce) is told in first person past tense. The second (The Towers of the Sunset) is in the third person present tense, and the third (The Magic Engineer) is in the third person past tense. I didn't even think about those differences when I was writing the books. In fact, I didn't even consciously think about that until I wrote this. I chose those tenses and viewpoints because, to me, they made sense for the story I was telling. Unfortunately, some readers are thrown by that kind of variation, and it makes recommending a "first" book difficult.   Based on current reader reaction, however, I'd actually recommend Imager, the first book in The Imager Portfolio. For more traditional fantasy lovers, in the Recluce Saga, I think, for today's readers, I might actually recommend the first book [chronologically] in the saga, Magi'i of Cyador, although I'm still quite fond of The Magic of Recluce, which was the first Recluce book I wrote, although the events in it come late in the timeline.     Q: What are some of the essential things that you think a writer needs to know?   A: Obviously, a writer needs to know the technical tools required to construct sentences, paragraphs, stories, chapters, and books, and if you're a poet, you need a thorough knowledge of rhyme, meter, and verse forms (in which areas all too many "modern" poets are lacking), not to mention a wide reading knowledge of not only the genre or forms in which you hope to write, but an even wider reading knowledge in non-fiction and the genres in which you never intend to write. I say this because, while I read science fiction from an early age, I never intended to write it. So I read pretty much some of everything and a great deal of history and science and politics and mysteries and thrillers, not to mention "serious" literature, and, of course, poetry.   In addition, I believe that every writer should cultivate a core basis of in-depth knowledge about something other than the craft of writing, call it detailed subject matter expertise. Most good writers have exactly that, and what that subject matter expertise is varies greatly. These sorts of knowledge are most valuable because in the end, as a writer, you not only need to know how to write, but you need to know enough to portray people, societies, cultures, and the institutions and technologies, not to mention the economics and politics, that support the culture in which you set your story.   It also helps to have a profession other than writing. One of the greatest advantages I've had as a writer was that I didn't write a novel until I'd been working full-time at other things for almost twenty years. Too many young writers [but definitely not all] run out of background and experience before they run out of life, and that leaves them burned-out shells at an early age.   Hope this helps.     Q: So, Mr. Modesitt, what do you have coming in the future? What new books and/or stories?   A: The next book that will see print will be Scholar [November 8th], the fourth book in The Imager Portfolio, and the first in a new "subseries" which takes place hundreds of years before the first three books. Yes, I know...the dreaded "prequel" books...but these are far enough back that readers won't find spoilers in the first three books, and in fact they may find their preconceptions pushed askew. After that will come the sequel to that, Princeps, which is scheduled for release next May [2012]. And after that will be the third book about that character, which is completed, but not through final editorials, which means that I don't have a publication date, but it's likely to be in early 2013.   In between that I have two new stories appearing in anthologies: "The Bronze Man of Mars" in a collection entitled Under the Moons of Mars, which is a tie-in to next year's John Carter movie, and "A More Perfect Union," appearing in The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination. I'll also have a "theme" story appearing online at Tor.com most probably sometime next year.   After I finish the four volume Imager Portfolio subseries, I'm committed to a science fiction novel for Tor, and after that I hope to do another Recluce novel, but...we'll see.     Q: You mentioned that your past experiences have helped you in your writings. Have you made the conscious choice to pull certain experiences into a story, or has it been more of an afterthought that you notice after the story is finished? I am curious as to where the artistic skills shown in Imager came from, and will we ever get to see this work?   A: There's an old saying about writing what you know. With the exception of metal-working in the Recluce Saga, I've had some experience with the crafts and skills and professions portrayed in my work, although my experience with music is based on years of exposure to the profession through my wife [and several years of very bad playing of the clarinet on my part]. Needless to say, the first book which had metal-working in it took longer because of the research. I took up painting when I was in high school and painted in oils, on and off, for a little more than ten years. I do have a few paintings hanging in a basement back hall, which probably represents more exposure than they deserve, but that's all the showing they're ever going to get. There is a certain artistic background in the family, since my uncle was a most successful commercial artist [his rendering of "Uncle Ben" still adorns rice packages after almost 70 years], but my physical abilities as an artist weren't anywhere close to his skills or up to my mental concepts, as I mentioned earlier, and I haven't painted in years [except walls]. I also no longer do woodworking, although my daughters do share a cradle I crafted all too many years ago.   I do make a conscious decision to write about skills, crafts, and abilities I know, but that's so that I can portray them realistically.     Q: Speaking of artistry, your covers have been awesome. Do you have input with the cover art at this stage in your career? Or is that still left up to the Marketing Dept.? Would you like more control? Do you have friendly relationships with the artist(s) that do them?   A: The choice of the artist is left up to the art director at Tor, and there's some back and forth between my editor and the art director. I generally get a look at the preliminary sketch, but in recent years, I've not had problems with this process [we won't talk about some of the covers earlier in my career, since one, in particular, was a disaster]. I did press to get John Picacio to do the cover for my short story collection (Viewpoints Critical), and Tor was kind enough to commission him to do it--and I still think that cover is awesome.   As a matter of fact, I've only ever met three of the artists who've done covers for me, but my relations with those three have been most cordial, and I actually have original cover artwork from each of them.   I don't really need more control, so long as I continue to get sketches, just so I can make certain that the cover represents the "spirit" of the book.     Q: Do you outline everything, or do you wing it? How do you get around times in your story when you don't know enough yet?   A: As I've noted elsewhere, I don't outline everything. I do outline as much of the background details--location, geography, maps, culture, government, technology, economics--as I can possibly think of before I start writing in earnest, but often discover that I've left out or forgotten something. So I'm adding to the background outline as I'm writing the story. As for plot...I have the general storyline in my head before I start writing. I also don't always write in sequence, but may write chapters much farther on in the story [of course, I often end up revising them considerably].   All in all, I'd have to admit it's a hodgepodge of outline, advance details, rethinking, unthinking, and feeling out. I also work out many details and problems in my mind on my morning exercise walk, and I'm fortunate to be able to keep much of the unwritten part of the story in my mind.     Q: Mr. Modesitt,   You've slowly become my favorite author. I would not be the honest, thoughtful, patient, insightful person I am today without your influence. Still have a ways to go though, keep writing.   A: Thank you.   I do intend to keep writing, at least so long as my work meets my own standards and so long as readers wish to buy it and read it.   I think the greatest, honest fear that a writer should have is the fear that he or she won't know when it's time to set aside the pen, typewriter, or computer. The problem is, of course, that some writers retain their abilities until the day they die (or close to it) and others don't.   Again...my thanks for your kind words.     Q: What authors do you think really hit the idea of magic influencing the environment, as you strive to do? Any before you that you felt particularly influenced this particular aspect of your style?   A: It's late, at least for me, as I write this, but frankly, I don't know that many authors, even today, who factor in the impact of magic on the environment. I know that, in at least one book, Brandon Sanderson does to some degree, as does Sharon Shinn in one book. I honestly can't think of any who did so before I did [not that there may not have been some, but if so, I either didn't read them or can't recall them]. That lack of interrelation and impact was one factor motivating me to write The Magic of Recluce.   This, of course, brings up the question of whether magic systems the way I write them are truly fantasy. There have been readers and other writers who claim that my approach is not fantasy at all, but science fiction disguised as fantasy. I don't think so, obviously, but there are those who do.     Q: The late Robert Jordan lived in Charleston, SC and mentioned on several occasions that the storytelling nature of the Southern Culture found in the city had effects in his writing. I noticed that you have lived in Utah for some time which, as I am sure you know already, is also the home of Brandon Sanderson and Orson Scott Card. That is just a sample of the top-notch SF/F talent that appears to call Utah home. Do you feel that the cutlure of the region has affected your writing? Do you feel the region is conducive to the development of so many good writers, or is it just coincidence?   Beyond any of the aforementioned regional influences, who/what do you feel has influenced your writing the most?   A: I'd already been published for twenty years before I moved to Utah. So I don't think that the Utah "culture" had much to do with nurturing or inspiring me in that respect. Also, Brandon Sanderson grew up largely in Idaho, and Orson Scott Card lived in California and Arizona growing up, as well as in Utah, although both attended BYU. Likewise Dave Wolverton [aka David Farland] grew up in the Pacific Northwest before moving to Utah. Still, for whatever reason, Utah has generated--or attracted--a disproportionate number of F&SF writers, but it may be that "western" states generate writers...or...the possibilities are many. It's definitely an area that's "writer-friendly," especially to the F&SF genre.   Certainly, Utah and its geography and its culture have inspired a number of my novels, as well as some short stories, and the Utah culture has certainly influenced both my life and my writing, directly and indirectly, and likely always will.   It's extremely hard to say, at least for me, that there was a single influence on my writing that overshadowed all others. My parents introduced me to the written word, and my mother was the one who introduced me to F&SF, while a handful of teachers in high school and college refined and spurred that interest, as have the works of all the writers and poets I've read over the years.     Q: By the tale of the clock, we have come to the end of our Q&A with SF/F novelist L.E. Modesitt. I want to sincerely offer my thanks to him on behalf of the members and administration of Dragonmount for taking time from his busy schedule to talk with us.   If you would like to continue to follow Mr. Modesitt, he has a really awesome website: http://www.lemodesittjr.com/   I would like to encourage everyone to read Mr. Modesitt's books; they will give you a lifetime of enjoyment that you can relive again and again.

By Tynaal Consen, in Rotating Features,

David Farland - The Sum of All Men   This is one of those books that I randomly bought, not because the cover art was great - although I do quite like it - nor because the summary seemed particularly interesting, but simply because it's part of a series of books and not a stand alone novel.   I found that it had been a good buy, since I enjoyed the book immensely. At first, it seemed like the typical plotline. A prince goes to woo his princess and then disaster strikes. Well, that is how it started, but then there were no great battle scenes. It turned out that the antagonist, Raj Ahten, had a voice and face to sway even the toughest of warriors. This resulted in an invasion of a country with blood hardly being spilled.   How is it possible that a master of war would be such a pretty boy? David Farland built a world in which it is possible for one person to receive endowments from others. They could be major endowments such as metabolism, stamina, brawn, or wit, as well as minor endowments such as sight, smell, or hearing. Raj Ahten strives to be the Sum of All Men, which he hopes to achieve by receiving so many endowments from others that he becomes ageless and invincible.   Our prince, Gaborn Val Orden, is the main protagonist. With a sharp wit and common sense, he manages to scare away Raj Ahten in the final battle of the book. He seems to be the one character that will be Raj Ahten's good counterpart. The great thing is that the story doesn't turn out like a fairy tale; instead, the good side also takes hard blows. Characters die and prove to be weak when you thought they'd be steadfast and eternally good.   The book is written in an excellent style that keeps you guessing about the political intrigue and which side really is the good side. Gaborn might be fighting for the people of his country selflessly, but is he seeing the whole picture? Could Raj Ahten be the sensible entity who will save the world? Since the characters seem so incredibly powerful, the reader always expects some twist in the story. Believe me, there are plenty of those twists and none of them play out the way you would have expected.   The Sum of All Men is definitely a good read if you're wanting an exciting book, but please, stay away from it if you're planning on only reading a chapter or two. Believe me, you won't be putting this one down.

By Dwynwen, in DM Website news,

It's hard to believe that October is already nigh! I know that we will have some interesting events for you in the coming month. Let's see what the denizens of our forums are doing to close out the month of September.   L.E. Modesitt, Jr. has graciously offered to stay with us until Thursday, September 29th. That means it's not too late to head over to this thread in the General Discussion forum and participate in his Q&A session. Due to the extension of Mr. Modesitt's visit, I will be posting the compilation of the Q&A on the front page this Friday night, September 30th, instead of the originally proposed date of the 26th.   Here's an unusual discussion topic--the people in our General Wheel of Time Discussion forum are chatting about Aes Sedai and pregnancy. Come share your theories about whether Aes Sedai "agelessness" would affect the ages at which they could get pregnant.   The Black Tower Social Group wants to know which game is your favorite in their September Shockwave Competition. If you are a member of this Social Group, you can earn points just for voting.   If you want to read a well-written, well-researched role play, check out Dancing Among Golden Leopards. Well done, guys!   Our very own Jason Denzel is currently visiting the home of none other than Brandon Sanderson! Follow us on Twitter and watch for Jason's updates about his adventure.   It looks like everyone's still recovering from our birthday bash last week. Pardon me while I wander off to get some leftover cake. See you all next week!

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