My FanX Schedule

January 26th, 2015

Thursday, January 29
6:30 pm-7:20 pm, Ballroom B: Bad Writing Advice

Friday, January 30
12:00 pm-12:50 pm, Room 150G – Remain as You Were – The Hero and the Status Quo
2:30 pm-3:30 pm, Room 151G – All You Need is Murder: Death and Other Perils of Being Young
4:00 pm-5:00 pm, Shadow Mountain Booth (#2000-2100) – Book Signing

Saturday, January 31
11:00 am-12:00 pm, Shadow Mountain Booth (#2000-2100) – Book Signing
1:00 pm-1:50 pm, Room 250A – The Brandon and Dan Show: Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells On Writing and Anything Else
2:30 pm-3:20 pm, Ballroom B – I Am Not a Serial Killer: Special Announcement Film Panel

Reader Mail Video #2

January 16th, 2015

We’re back! I moved back into my office again for this one, where the background is boring but the lighting is better. We’re still working out the kinks.

This week’s question: What is the deal with Isolde’s baby? Major, major spoilers for the Partials trilogy here.

Book Contest Winners!

January 14th, 2015

Last week I got a big box of ARCs for the new John Cleaver Book, The Devil’s Only Friend, which comes out in June! It’s going to be awesome. In my joy I decided to hold a quick contest, offering a copy of the book to whoever could take the coolest picture of someone reading a copy of one of my books. This is not the only contest that will be held over the next few months, so don’t worry–you might still win one. But this particular contest is over, and I’ve picked some awesome winners.

I had intended to give out just one book, but as the pictures rolled in I realized I couldn’t possibly choose just one, so I decided to pick two winners: one in the normal category, and one in the “why are you letting your adorable child and/or animal corrupt themselves with my book” category. And then someone offered a picture I couldn’t NOT give a book to, so now we have two winners and a special prize.

Main Category: Valerie Dircks
Valerie Dircks

Cute Category: Eliyanna Kaiser
Eliyanna Kaiser

Special Achievement Category: Nathaniel Darkish
Nathaniel Darkish

Congratulations, dude and ladies! We’ll be contacting you. And Nathaniel, if I find out that’s a real corpse I’m taking the book back, AND I’m telling you how it ends before you read it. And, you know, calling all the police in the world.


January 13th, 2015

Wonder_WomanYesterday I saw a talk by psychologist Amy Cuddy about body language, and specifically what she called “power posing.” It’s a good talk, and I recommend watching the whole thing, but the idea that really got my attention was this single hook: “Standing like Wonder Woman for 30 seconds a day can change your life.” From a pop science point of view, that’s new and crazy, but from an exercise point of view it’s a total gimme. Of course standing like Wonder Woman for 30 seconds a day will change your life. It’s called yoga.

Back when I had real office jobs, one of those jobs was at a personal fitness place, writing box copy for treadmills and catalog entries for health supplements and, yes, manuals and video scripts for yoga programs. I’d never really done yoga before, but the more I studied it the more I loved it. I won’t speak to any of the more mystical claims, but as a pure exercise program it’s shockingly effective. My wife and I do yoga regularly (she much more regularly than I), and it’s a great way to wake up and stay fit and keep your body doing what it’s supposed to be doing. Yoga builds confidence and strength–not the kind of strength that helps you lift cars over your head, but general, sometimes even invisible strength inside your body, in the muscles responsible for balance and posture and breathing. If you’ve never worked those muscles before, you’ll be shocked at how much better it makes you feel. Even sitting becomes more comfortable. Trust me–most of the minor inconveniences we face in our bodies come from how out of shape they are. Even basic yoga can make a huge difference (if you stick with it, which is always the catch).

So: with all this in mind, I commented on twitter/facebook that it would be fun to run with this Wonder Woman idea and put together a whole yoga routine full of superhero poses, and call it LARPercise. This got a much bigger reaction than I expected, with people tossing out suggestions and offers to help, and the more I think about the more I think that this is a thing that should totally happen. The use of licensed characters means it will never be published or official, but it could be a fun web page and it’s perfect for an 8am Con panel, if nothing else. I don’t have the time to take off from writing my other books to give this the mental energy it would take to do it by myself, though, so let’s crowd source this thing.

Do you know yoga? Or do you just have google and some time to kill? Let’s use this page, and the comments below, to aggregate ideas about which yoga poses could be rethemed toward which superheroes. As you research yoga you’ll see that some of the poses have pretty standard English names (like Downward Dog), but others have a lot of variations, and some places use only the Indian names, and basically no two yoga places will use exactly the same terminology; this makes it hard to talk about the poses without images, but it’s also exactly what we’re doing, so I won’t complain :) Start with some basic sites like this and this, and let your imagination run wild.

To get the ball rolling, I would suggest some of the following:

Wonder Woman: this is the classic Lynda Carter pose, feet apart, hands on hips. This is a basic variation on Mountain pose, which is a fancy name for “just standing there,” but trust me–if you do it right, it’s an indispensable start to a yoga routine.

Superman: this could be the other standard variation of Mountain, sometimes called “Raised Arms Position.” You stand with feet close together, arms raised straight up, neck tilted back to look up at the ceiling. Throw in some moves where you bring one hand to your chest, and you look exactly like Superman flying around. Done and done.

Aquaman: I’m not in love with this one, but we have to do something with Downward Dog, and it does kind of look like a dive. I’m open to better ideas on this one.

Hulk Smash: my wife immediately suggested this one when I pitched the idea. Triangle pose has one hand planted on the ground, and if you clench that hand into a fist it does feel surprisingly like you’re smashing the street to cause an earthquake. Awesome.

That’s all I’ve got right now. Obviously we need something for the Warrior poses, and if you can come up with cool names for Cat/Table/Cow I’ll be impressed. Give me your comments, toss in your own ideas or fix my lame ones, and I’ll add them up here as we go.

This is going to be fun.

Reader Mail Video #1

January 9th, 2015

I get a lot of mail from readers, and I try to answer it as best I can, but why not, I thought, step it up a bit? Why not answer these questions directly, conversationally, in video form?

Now: I recognize that videos are terrible. There are few things more disappointing than clicking an interesting link to learn more about some cool topic, only to find that instead of an article it’s a video. I know this. But these videos are different, because they’re about me. And who doesn’t love me? I sure do.

The lighting is terrible, and for some reason the video quality is not where I thought it was pre-upload, but we’ll work on that. For now, please enjoy the first in my new Answering Reader Mail video series, where we begin with the question: What happens after the end of the Partials series?

2015 is going to be EPIC

January 6th, 2015

This is going to be a big friggin’ year.

I have a lot on my plate for 2015, which I suppose is fitting for a year divisible by five. Why? I don’t know. Am I the only one who thinks that–that years with fives and zeros are more momentous somehow? I graduated high school in ’95, and college in 2000, so that might have something to do with it. Or I just grew up in a base ten number system. Whatever.

The biggest of the big deals is, of course, my books, of which I have two coming out this year: The Devil’s Only Friend, which hits US shelves in June, and Bluescreen, which will arrive in December. The former is book four in the John Cleaver series, or as I prefer to think of it, book one in a new John Cleaver series. It’s just as creepy and bloody and sad as the others, so if you liked them you’ll love this one. Plus the manuscript gave my friend nightmares! Bluescreen, on the other hand, is completely new–the first of a new series that I’m planning to continue in perpetuity. The series is called Mirador, and I love it, and I will write Mirador books until my editor pulls the tablet from my dead hands and gently closes my eyes, whispering something soft and wise about the transitory nature of life and our capacity for human greatness. Mirador is a cyberpunk series about a group of teen girls hackers who play a video games on the pro circuit. I’ll be dropping a lot of hints about Bluescreen throughout the year, so I don’t want to spoil too much this early, but I figure I can tell you the main character’s name: Marisa Carneseca. Her family owns a restaurant in 2050 Los Angeles called San Juanito, and her best friend–well, I’ll stop there. Just trust me, it’s awesome.

Speaking of things I can’t tell you, remember that link I posted on twitter and facebook January 1? Yeah, I’m not allowed to say anything else about that for another couple of weeks, and probably shouldn’t have posted that link in the first place. Secretsssssss. Suffice it to say that if I WERE to say anything, it would be AWESOME, and you would really want to hear it. So maybe come to the Salt Lake City Fan Experience January 29-31? I’m just sayin’.

Now, how about some awesome news that I CAN tell you? Most of you know that my brother and I are both writers, but you might not know that we have a sister who’s just as talented, if not more so, and focuses her creative energy in theater. Sometime in 2013 she and I teamed up and started working on adapting my historical vampire comedy A Night of Blacker Darkness into a stage play. We’ve done a few drafts of the script, and we’re very happy with it, and the play will be debuting this October in not one but two locations: the world premiere will be at Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens, where my brother-in-law runs the theater department, followed closely by a second production at UVU in Orem, Utah. Blacker Darkness is probably my least-known novel, because it’s self-published and I don’t promote it a ton, but it’s a classic farce, in the vein of “Noises Off” or “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum,” and honestly it will probably feel more at home on stage than it ever did in a book. It’s also pretty dark, so I guess it’s in the vein of “Noises Off” except with actual veins, and instead of a plate of sardines there’s a corpse. Everyone wants to lie to, steal from, or outright kill everyone else, and it’s awesome. I’ll be giving more details as I get them, but mark your calendars now.

2015 will also see me traveling all over the place. My convention schedule is filling up like crazy–I can’t announce too much yet, because I don’t know exactly, but at the very least I can tell you about the Fan Experience and LTUE, this month and next month in Utah. Internationally, I’ll be in Leipzig in March and Buenos Aires in May, and if I can find a way to swing it I’ll visit Mexico and Toronto as well. September, of course, will be the third Writing Excuses Retreat, which this year will be on a cruise ship in the western Caribbean. You can totally come with me on that one–there are still plenty of slots open.

What else? I have some short fiction projects I’m working on, and another book (the infamous Extreme Makeover, which I’ve been teasing you with for years) that’s currently being reviewed by my editor, so I hope you’ll see that soon, but it won’t be this year. I know I’m in at least one horror anthology this year, but I don’t know when it’s coming out. And, of course, I’ll be hard at work on John Cleaver 5 and Mirador 2. And then there’s that space opera I’ve always wanted to do….

All in all, a big year. I hope you can join me for some of it.

The UVU Forum of Horror

October 28th, 2014

Tomorrow, October 29, is the inaugural UVU Forum of Horror, and I’m delighted to be the keynote speaker! It’s a student event, but it’s open to everyone, and it’s free.


My Keynote presentation will be primarily about John Cleaver, including a reading from the new book, The Devil’s Only Friend, which comes out next year. The film presentation will be Cabin in the Woods, followed by a group discussion of the film as a critique on horror cinema. We’re planning to wrap up around 9pm or so.

It’s going to be an awesome event, and I’m honored to be a part of it. I’ll be available throughout to sign books and answer questions and whatever else. I’ll see you there!

The Devil’s Only Friend: Cover Reveal

September 30th, 2014

I was hoping to get this post up last week, so I could scoop and post the cover before they did, but I was so busy actually writing the book that I wasn’t able to write about it. But! I have finished the copy edit, and the book is turned in, and all that’s left is the proofing and the long, long months of painful waiting. The Devil’s Only Friend, the first of an all-new John Cleaver trilogy, is coming in June.

And this is the cover:

I love this cover. Like, really, really love it. It’s designed by Peter Lutjen, who did all of my previous Tor covers; for the first trilogy he did a “destroyed paper” motif that was pretty cool, and for this one he’s taken a new direction that I think works great. I love the type treatment, and the way the colors seem to reverse very subtly on the words. I love the stationery thing in the corner, and the medical illustration of a heart at the bottom. It’s beautiful, and it fits the book perfectly.

I can’t wait for you guys to read it.

Performance Art

September 8th, 2014

I went to Salt Lake Comic Con last weekend, and I have many stories to share about it, but first I need to tell you about this awesome dream I had the second night of the show.

It started with a group of four artists: me, Jessica Day George, and two others I can’t remember. Probably you–let’s just assume it was you. So you, me, and Jessica Day George decided to stage a continent-spanning piece of performance art. Step 1 was to copy the Internet onto a hard drive, and I know that sounds silly, but remember that it was only the European Internet. Apparently that’s smaller? In dreamland? So anyway, it fit into a little box about the size of a swamp cooler, and we put it in Portugal, right by the coast. You may be wondering why we had to use a copy of the Internet instead of the actual Internet, and the answer, obviously, is that Step 2 of our plan was to build a track from Portugal to Estonia, start at the top, and then slide down on the back of a genetically engineered turtle, about the size of a small car, all the way from Estonia to Portugal where we would smash into the box and destroy it. We didn’t want to destroy the actual European Internet, so we made a copy.

Now, as you may have noticed, our plan had certain holes in it. Most prominently, the genetic engineer we were working with didn’t have any car-sized turtles, only car-sized pugs–the genetic engineers in the audience are probably nodding their heads right now, because they saw this coming a mile away. Oh well, lesson learned, we’d use a giant pug. This brought problems of its own, though, such as the fact that a dog, not having a shell, would not slide along the track as smoothly as a turtle, so we needed to think of something else. Fortuitously, it turned out we couldn’t use the tracks either, because apparently it’s prohibitively expensive to build a specialized turtle slide all the way from Estonia to Portugal. Who knew? We got about five four-foot sections completed (around 0.00000117% of the total distance) before we realized that it just wasn’t going to work. Back to the drawing board.

The giant pug, we decided, was strong enough to just run the whole way, which was a pretty good substitute (though it might give a different artistic message), but it could only carry one person at a time. You and I and Jessica Day George decided to take turns riding the dog, with the rest of the group following in a car. This would take longer, but it might make for a more interesting journey, so we decided to bring my brother, Rob Wells, on board as our videographer. We’d take a week or two (depending on the running speed of a giant riding pug), documenting our progress as we went, and then when we got to Portugal we’d just run up and kick the Internet copy really hard, instead of slamming into it–if we timed it right, it would still kind of look the same, plus it would save the poor pug’s face, which was already pretty flat and which we didn’t really want to slam at full speed into the Internet.

I woke up before we actually carried out the plan, which is probably just as well considering how many artistic compromises we had to make. I guess the lesson is for esoteric performance artists to choose their geneticists carefully.

Comic Con: Writing Excuses: The Panel

September 4th, 2014

Saturday September 6
7:00 pm: Writing Excuses: The Panel, Room 250A