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Posts posted by EbonyAdo


    Wheel of Time podcasts have been popping up everywhere and one of my favorites is The White Tower: A Wheel of Time Podcast. The ladies of this podcast, Jenn Cobb and Jess Schutz, combine spoiler-free synopses of each chapter with real fan discussion and a large dose of humor.  This past week I had a chance to interview the ladies to learn more about them and their approach to The Wheel of Time and podcasting.



    Ebony: Please introduce yourselves, how long you have been a fan of Wheel of Time, and your role in the world of the White Tower Podcast?

     Jenn: I’m Jenn Sedai of the Brown Ajah, I’ve been Raised to the Shawl for 10 years now, sniff, and I enjoy the current role of Keeper of the Chronicles for the White Tower Podcast (smoothes skirt).
    Jess: I’m Jess Sedai, of All Ajahs and of None (but Green to the core). I was raised to the shawl about 15 years ago, and I’m your Amyrlin Seat on the White Tower Podcast (crosses arms under breasts).

     E: How long have you known each other?

     Jenn: Since the day that I found Jess online last year in 2018, sometime in the summer I believe? 
    Jess: I looked it up (because of course I did). It was April 30, 2018, around 12:30 pm Central time. It was another full year before we actually met each other in person!

    E: How did you two meet?

    Jenn: Online. Jess had just finished A Memory of Light, and vented with the Wheel of Time hashtag on Twitter. I was not being a weirdo at work one day at all, and put in that hashtag in the search bar to see if there were any fellow fans out there that I could start a conversation with. Jess’s tweet about her anger at the series ending was the first thing that came up for me that day, by happenstance. Just saw her angry tweet and decided I’d go for it and respond with a, “Hey, I read Wheel of Time too, let’s talk about the ending!” And we just started a twitter comment chain. 
    Jess: Like Jenn said, I had just finished the series and was feeling a lot of feelings and so I screamed into the void of Twitter for a processing partner and like a glorious vision out of the ether she appeared, saying, and I quote, “Girl what part you on let’s dish”. At some point during our first exchange she also said, “Tai Shar MANETHEREN BIIIIIIIIIITCCCCHHHHHH”. Needless to say, I was won over immediately.

    E: How many times have you read the series?

    Jenn: I’m on my 2nd re-read now, so not many. However, there are several parts I have read LOTS of times. 
    Jess: I’ve read up to the middle of Book 9 twice (shut up Perrin). The rest I’ve only read once.

    E: What made you decide to do a podcast?

    Jenn: It was Jess’s idea, one of the many reasons why she’s Amyrlin. She had done a Philosophy podcast before, and a Lord of the Rings podcast before, so she was familiar with the recording and distribution across the internet. She had the setup and the resources ready to go. I had never even considered podcasting before she said, “Let’s do this,” and I was down. 
    Jess: I really like podcasting, and there was a podcast shaped whole in my heart at the time. And I love screaming at Jenn about WoT and whatever other garbage on Twitter and one day I was like, “I bet we’d have a blast if we did a podcast. Hey Jenn, should we do a podcast?” And to my surprise she was immediately like, “F--- yeah, how do we do it, let’s go.” This was before I knew that she’s down for pretty much whatever, whenever. ?

    E: Your podcast is unique in the fact that it is spoiler-free though you have already read the series, do you find it difficult to discuss the books during the podcasts without spoilers?

    Jenn: IT’S THE MOST DIFFICULT THING. EVER. Every once in a while, like when the casting announcements for the show came out or we do a special monthly Patreon only episode that’s spoilers out, we allow ourselves the beauty of just venting with spoilers out commentary. But Jess has a pre-recorded message at the top of those few shows we do air that have spoilers, that way our listeners that are following along chapter by chapter and don’t know what’s ahead have a clear understanding that the current week’s episode is going to be SPOILERS OUT, and we also have a written warning on the podcast description that week. I have personally spoiled one (1) thing in a recent podcast, but I made a judgement call to reveal a character that we were introduced to. I stand by it.
    Jess: It can be REALLY difficult to keep certain things under our hats, especially because we’re essentially sitting down every week with a really good friend to talk about something that we love and we just want to HOLLER. I’ve had to edit stuff out on numerous occasions because we got to wildin’. But ultimately, I feel like it’s worth it because we’ve gotten lots of feedback from first time readers that they appreciate having a show they can listen to without worrying about ruining what’s coming up next. It really demonstrates that we (admittedly inadvertently) filled a need in the WoT content community, and that helps to keep us focused

    E: When recording new episodes do you have an idea of what you are going to say or does the conversation flow more organically?

    Jenn: This is a yes/no response, very typical for us Aes Sedai. We have one (1) absolutely verbatim script from both of us in each episode, and that’s half of our weekly show. The other half of the show is open floor discussion of the chapters we have summarized with that script, and it’s 100% ad lib. Jess and I don’t even discuss a general outline, or how we feel about the chapters we are going to be discussing before we crack the mic. We just talk until we feel we should delve into our chapter discussion, then just open fire debate afterwards about what we just read out loud.
    Jess: Like Jenn said, our process is very free-form. We know what chapters we’re going to discuss, and we write up our synopses ahead of time to read. I’ll occasionally have thoughts I want to go into on the show, but the only real “structure” comes in the form of our two segments: Next Time on the White Tower Podcast, where we do a couple Onion-esque headlines about the next two chapters, and Our Ride or Die Character of the Week, where we talk about the character we thought kicked the most ass. But beyond THAT, we just do whatever. Honestly, there’s where the best Humor Nuggets come from and if we’re known for anything, it should be our Woke Feminism and Humor Nuggets.

    E: What sources, if any, do you use?

    Jenn: I only use the book. 

    Jess: I use the book, and I’ll bust out the WoT Companion or the Big White Book, or hit up Mister Google for reference during conversations while we’re recording. We’ll occasionally bring in points that other creators or readers have brought up that we think are interesting. If we remember to.

    E: Do you re-read each chapter prior to the podcast?

    Jenn: Yes. 
    Jess: I don’t remember what I just wrote, let alone what I read however many years ago. So definitely.

    E: How often do you record episodes?

    Jenn: Not as often as our weekly Wednesday airing deadline would demand! (Nervous laughter.) Because life? But usually weekly on Sunday nights, the recording is where it’s at. If we are doing a Patreon episode that month we’ll find time sometime in the middle of the week. 
    Jess: Sometimes we do really well sticking to our Sunday night record schedule! It’s important to me to make sure we’re reliably dropping at 8 am Central on WoT Wednesdays. That said, life happens so we get off schedule sometimes. And we’re still getting the hang of the Patreon exclusive content. We’ll get it eventually. Probably? (disorganized sweating intensifies)

    E: Is there anyone in the fandom you like to interview?

    Jenn: It’s funny cause when we started this thing, I stated on air that there are two things I wanted to do more than anything, and my long term goals were to 1. Host Daniel Greene, and 2. Panel at JordanCon. We’ve had the pleasure of hosting Daniel a few times, and we’ve paneled alongside him at JordanCon this past year. Hope to do more JordanCons in the future! Now though? We have a few ideas of who we’d like to nab, but I’m keeping them on the back burner for now. 
    Jess: I’m honestly terrible at giving interviews (Jenn is the one who never runs out of questions to ask, she’s brilliant), but if we’re talking pie-in-the-sky stuff, I’d love to talk to Rafe and Kelly Valentine Hendry about casting stuff some day, or talk to the cast members, especially the Emond’s Field Five, about how they feel about being a part of the next Age of this story. I think they’re as excited as we are, and it would just be really fun to talk about it.

    E: If you could have one character on your show to interview who would it be and what one question would you ask them?

    Jenn: I’d have Graendal on the show and ask why such a powerful, talented, intelligent, and beautiful lady had to use Compulsion on everyone in order to get things done, why that had to be her M.O. for all those years. Like, you already had the tools to get people to do things for you. It couldn’t be that hard. Like, you had to go FULL COMPULSION on EVERYONE, even your SERVANTS? Didn’t that get boring after so long? Wouldn’t you like the thrill of the chase every once in a while? Don’t you like a challenge? Why did you become so lazy? It’s too repetitive. You can always RESORT to Compulsion as a backup plan. It’s like aiming a cannonball at a mosquito when you’re already armed to the teeth with all the killing material you’ll ever need. 
    Jess: Ooof. That’s a tough one. Off the top of my head I’d like to ask Egwene why she married that walking trash can mess Gawyn. Girl, you don’t need a man. If you WANT one, you can get a better one. Lizzo wants more for you than this.

    E: Are you excited about the Amazon Prime Series?

    Jenn: THRILLED. And a little scared. But mainly THRILLED. 
    Jess: I’m so excited I’m actually peeing my pants, like, right now. I can’t WAIT.

    E: Once the series starts do you plan to follow it on your podcast or will you stick to the books?

    Jenn: That’s something Jess and I have kicked around but don’t have a concrete answer to as of yet. We’re not sure yet. I know we WILL continue to do our chapter by chapter format, that ain’t changing, show or no show. We just don’t know how to incorporate the show too.
    Jess: Yeah, we’ve got a couple ideas but the only thing we know for sure at this point is that the primary format of the show isn’t going to change. I think it’s safe to say that we’ll discuss it, though. Somehow. 



    You can join Jenn and Jess on Wednesdays at 8 am central at The White Tower: A Wheel of Time Podcast.  You should also follow them on Twitter and if you like what you hear you can support them at Patreon.

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  2. The Way of Shadows is the first installment of the Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks.  Weeks will be the Author Guest of Honor at this year’s JordanCon, taking place April 26-28, 2019.


    The story follows Azoth, an orphan living on the streets of Cenaria.


    Azoth's character development is fascinating since he starts as a relatively young child living on the streets in the Warrens, the seedy underside of Cenaria.  We watch him go from child to young adult under the tutelage of Durzo Blint. Durzo is not the best of influences, but he is all Azoth has.  Azoth's character arc almost seems to be the reverse of Blint's which makes the interaction between the characters interesting.


    As far as Weeks writing style, he does not spend an extensive amount of time on descriptions of settings or clothing, but it does not take away from the story. Character interaction gives the reader the complete experience of setting and mood.


    Week's portrayal of female characters fell a little short for me. He seems to stick to many of the tropes women are regulated to in fantasy. That being said, there is one female character that shows promise at the end of the story. Hopefully, this continues into the second installment.


    My Pros:

    • There are plot twists. I always enjoy it when an author can catch me off guard.
    • Once the action starts, it is quick paced and holds the reader's interest.
    • Azoth is a well-developed character, and it is interesting to see how his character grows and changes as he learns the ways of the world.


    My Cons:

    • Contains possible triggers for those that have experienced sexual abuse.
    • The beginning of the book that takes place in the Warrens is rather dark, more so, because the characters involved are children.


    All in all, The Way of Shadows is a good read, provided you are not bothered by the darkness of the beginning chapters.


    You can find out more about Brent Weeks and his other books at his website.

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  3. You may know him as the guy with that excellent Rand al’Thor cosplay, but his name is Paul Bielaczyc and he is a JordanCon staple.  I got a chance to talk to Paul about JordanCon, being toastmaster, and his love of The Wheel of Time.


    Ebony: First things, first: When did you start reading Wheel of Time?


    Paul: I first picked it up my senior year of high school, and stopped reading at what I like to refer to as "The Hump." I feel like most people read a few chapters of a new book to see if they are hooked, and for Wheel of Time, that magical point is the end of Chapter 4. I know I got to that point, put the book down, and then life happened. And I know that speaking to many readers who tried reading the series, they got to the same point (I now tell people to go back and cross "The Hump").

    I picked it up again the summer after my freshman year of college after seeing a display at the student bookstore for the release of The Path of Daggers. Another student pointed out how excited he was to read the next book in the series, and he encouraged me to pick it back up. So summer of 1999 is when I devoured the first 7 books of The Wheel of Time.

    By the way, quitting at Chapter 4 stinks. Chapter 5 is nuts!! And the story doesn't really let up at all after that.


    (Editor note: I actually did the same thing)


    Ebony: What made you decide to cosplay as our favorite moody Ta'veren?


    Paul: In Grad school I thought it would be cool to dress up as Rand al'Thor for Halloween. Not a single person knew who I was.

    Many years later, I was apprenticing with an artist out in Kirby, WY, population 57. A young lady who modeled for the artist asked to see my art, which lead to showing off pictures of my costumes. When I clicked on the folder for that Halloween, the young lady was shocked. She looked up at me and said, "I know you! You're Rand al'Thor." I didn't follow.

    She then pulled up Google Images, and when she searched for "Rand al'Thor," there I was, 6 out of the first 10 images on Google Search. She told me that The Wheel of Time was her favorite book series, and when she did a book report earlier that year, she used photos of me in her report.

    A few years after that, I was working at my Artist table at Dragon*Con, when a young man walked by dressed as an Aiel. When I complimented his awesome WoT cosplay, he turned to me, bowed deeply, and said, "Thank you, Car'a'carn." There I am, not in costume, but simply dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. I looked at him confused. To which he replied, "Your cosplay of Rand al'Thor is all over the internet. When I read the books, I picture you whenever Rand is brought up. You *are* The Dragon Reborn."

    And that was the moment. I had to be the Lord Dragon.

    And funny enough, many more years after that, when signing my copy of Memory of Light, a certain author by the name of Brandon Sanderson asked me, "I make this out to Rand, right?"


    E: Do you do any other character cosplay?


    P: Within The Wheel of Time, the only other cosplay that I have done is a Trolloc. Well, I also did a Grayman in year 3, and Moridin/"Just Rand" a few years ago, but nothing as impressive as the Trolloc.

    Outside of that, the list is pretty insane. Ash Williams from Army of Darkness, Leon Kennedy from Resident Evil 4, Waldo, Link from all the Zeldas, a realistic Ice King from Adventure Time, CLU from Tron Legacy, Ander Elessedil from MTV's The Chronicles of Shannara, and probably a bunch of throw-away costumes that I wore once.


    E: When did you first attend JordanCon?


    P: My first JordanCon was year 2. (2009)


    E: Aside from being the resident Lord Dragon, what other roles do you play at JordanCon?


    P: My first year I was a simple sheepherder... I mean vendor. I then played some music on Saturday night, and I become the resident DJ for the Saturday Dance Party. I am also a Co-Director for the Art Show with April Moore, and the Dealer's Hall Director as well. Phew.


    E: Did you get to have any say in the theme for JordanCon 2019 or did Jennifer Liang (JordanCon Director) and Aubree Pham (JordanCon 2018’s Toastmaster) just tell you what to do?


    P: I did not. I was just as excited as everyone else when they announced it during Closing Ceremonies.

    I'm sure that once the theme was settled on Shai'Con for 2019, those in charge figured that since I have been embracing The Dark Lord Dragon for the past 2 years, that it would be a good fit. And all I can say is, "Indeed."

    E: What was your reaction to being asked to be Toastmaster for JordanCon 2019?


    P: JordanCon has become family to me, and I wouldn't be a licensed Wheel of Time artist without JordanCon or Ta'veren Tees. So when they ask for my help, I'm usually ready to assist. And I'm pretty extroverted (if you didn't know).

    The best moment though was while I already agreed to be Toastmaster when the announcement was made at Closing Ceremonies in 2018, I didn't know the theme. When they announced that, well, my darker side was very, very pleased. Oh crap, I guess that's another character cosplay I forgot to mention. But everyone will see that costume in 2019.


    E: What can we expect from you as toastmaster?

    P: Having someone bleep me constantly with the word "hot dog?" Thankfully Patrick Minze is really good at that.

    I'm kidding. (Editor’s note: He is not kidding) I am hoping to have a few fun surprises for Opening Ceremonies, and otherwise be entertaining while informative. There is a happy balance of making sure that actual information is conveyed to the attendees (how Art Show or Charity bidding works, Weapons policy, etc.) while still making it fun and memorable.

    I am asking people to come up with fun, twisted versions of their favorite characters, similar to my Dark Lord Dragon, to embrace the theme. Portal Stones exist in the series, and definitely are the windows to alternate universes. I really want to see how crazy and fun people can make their favorite characters this year. This year's theme, crossed with the idea of the Portal Stones, really allows for level of creativity and originality that I don't think we've seen in the first 10 years.

    So obviously, as The Lord of Chaos and The Shai'aman, one can expect a little breaking of the Wheel and Pattern. That goes without saying really.

    And next year is also the culmination of the Black Ajah mystery that has been going on now for 3 years. As a participant myself, I have no idea what is going on, other than to say that I'm sorry if actively encouraging people to be Darkest Timeline versions of themselves throws off the balance of the game.

    But there definitely will be specialized badge ribbons for anyone that joins Team Shadow for 2019 (we can celebrate the Light in 2020).


    E: What is your favorite JordanCon memory?


    P: Man, that is a hard question to answer.

    I think one of my favorite moments was the year when TWoTcast were the Toastmasters. Chip Moore and I came up with an idea for Opening Ceremonies a few weeks before the convention, and so spent multiple nights in my driveway working in the dark. But we thought recreating t
    he climax to Lord of Chaos would be too much fun to pass up.

    We built a man-sized chest out of insulation foam, and then carefully cut it apart, and pieced it together using just toothpicks. Chip (and a team of Red Ajah) dragged the over-sized chest out from backstage. And then, on cue, I burst out of the chest in full Rand Al'Thor get-up.

    Of course, the speech I gave during the Costume Contest when I was dressed as "Just Rand" was really poignant and much more serious than most people expected from me. But then on the flip-side, the entire Rand on the Run Facebook Adventure.

    So many memories.


    E: What do you do for actual money? What is your "day job"?


    P: So my day job is pretty unusual, or at least, was more unusual back when we started in 2002. Nowadays kids make a living posting the pictures to the Instagrams, so I guess our business isn't all that strange with how popular Cosplay has become. So my brother, sister, and I co-own Aradani Studios, which is known all over the world primarily for making prosthetic elf ears which are hand-painted to match your skintone. We do a variety of other prosthetics, horns, noses, and masks, but elf ears are what we are known for. My brother and I are both fantasy artists as well, my brother working in oils, acrylics, and digital painting, and I work primarily in charcoal, graphite, and pastel. We have both won awards across the country over our 16+ years in this career, and in 2006 I won the prestigious Chesley Award for my piece, Nightmare. And of course I am one of the 6 current licensed Wheel of Time artists. Thankfully, everywhere we sell our ears, we sell our artwork. But when someone asks how I pay my mortgage every month, it is definitely because of those ears.


    Thanks to Paul for joining me. I am sure you can tell JordanCon will never be the same once Dark Lord Rand al’Thor is done with it. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.


    JordanCon tickets are currently $50 for the full three days.  The price goes up to $55 January 1, 2019.  Check out JordanCon’s website for more information.


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  4. If you are part of the Facebook Wheel of Time Community, you may have run into Drew McCaffrey.  He has been an active part of the online community and is an excellent resource for anyone that needs information about the Wheel of Time series.


    But Drew is more than just a Wheel of Time fan, he is also an up and coming author.  He recently began writing for TOR.com, and I had a chance to sit down with him to discuss this new opportunity.


    Ebony: How did you get involved in writing for Tor.com?


    Drew: One of my friends, Alice Arneson, has been writing the Brandon Sanderson Cosmere re-reads on Tor.com. She encouraged me to submit a proposal this fall, when Tor announced they were looking for new voices covering different books. I was thrilled when they said they were interested!


    E: What is your official title with Tor.com?


    D:I don't think I have one...maybe "contributing writer"?


    E: What topics will you be writing about?


    D: I'm starting with a big article about 10 of the best completed series in science fiction and fantasy. Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson fans will undoubtedly enjoy it (and maybe find a couple new series to check out)!


    E: How often do you expect to post articles?


    D: For now, it will depend on how often I propose ideas and Tor approves them. I don't have a regularly scheduled column or re-read or anything.


    E: What will your first article be on Tor.com be about and when will it be posted?


    D: My first will be that completed series article. It should be going up in the next week or so!


    E: How did feel after submitting your first article to Tor.com?


    D: I was incredibly excited and nervous. Tor.com is one of the biggest emerging platforms in SFF, with an outstanding track record in publishing revolutionary short fiction, novellas, and literary essays. I'm blown away by how many of their stories have been nominated for, and even won, major SFF awards.


    E: Aside from writing for Tor.com do you any other sort of writing?


    D: I do sports writing, covering the New York Rangers for bluelinestation.com. I also write lots of original fiction, ranging from short stories to novels, and I wrote a fair amount of book reviews for dcafwriting.com, although I haven't had the time to keep my site current.


    E: How does writing from Tor.com differ from other writing you have done?


    D: Writing for Tor.com has me much more cognizant of audience. Writing a book review or an opinion piece for dcafwriting is low-stress, because there isn't much of an active comment section and the general audience is relatively small. Tor.com is a big-time site, and articles there regularly see 100+ comments.


    E: Are there any topics you hope to be able to write about for Tor.com?


    D: I have at least one article about Matthew Stover's Acts of Caine series on my plate, and I hope to explore that series more. I'd love to talk about Glen Cook's Black Company, The Gap Cycle by Stephen R. Donaldson, and David Farland's Runelords series, too.


    E: What do you think/hope you will gain from your experience with Tor.com?


    D: I think this will give me a great chance to bring some lesser-known series to a wider audience, but more importantly, it will give me a chance to see what that wider audience loves. How many amazing series are out there that I haven't heard of or read yet? Interacting with the Tor.com audience will assuredly open my eyes to things that haven't crossed my path yet.


    E:Are there any other writing endeavors in your future?


    D: My Blue Line Station writing is an ongoing job, but my big focus for the future is getting a novel published. I'm writing my fourth novel right now, and I've gotten to the point where I'm confident enough in my stories and my writing that I'm querying literary agents.


    Well, we will certainly keep an eye out for Drew’s upcoming novel.  Until then check out his TOR.com articles:


    The 10 Best Completed SF and Fantasy Series (According to Me)


    Matthew Stover’s Heroes Die is a Grimdark Cult Classic


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  5. I'm going to college in Ohio and my favorite character is Aviendha!!! I love that you're naming your daughter that!!!!!!!!!! Thanks....are you going to Wright State?


    So which other characters do you like? Aviendha is my favorite, I like Vernin, Perrin, sometimes Egwene, Thom (of course) and I have a crush on Mat :-)


    Which parts are your favorite? That is really hard to say...There are so many good parts


    I assume you have read all of the books? I have read them a coupke times...I keep saying I am going to start a new series but I feel like I can't until I finsh Wheel of Time :-)


    Welcome to dm!!!

  6. oh you guys are all so friendly. Aviendha is my favorite character but my husband is actually the one who insisted we the baby Aviendha...he loves the name. I am looking forward to learning my way around here :-) I am from Maryland but my husband is in the military so we are in Ohio right now...

  7. Hi everyone, My name is Ebony and I am new here. I have been reading Wheel of Time for many years but have a hard time that find others that do. I did get my husband into reading it though. I have 3 kids Asia (14), Roman (10) and a little girl on the way named Aviendha :-).


    I look forward to have some people to discuss the Wheel of Time with.

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