Tag Archives: Brent Weeks

Nose to the Grindstone

Well, as the title suggests, I’ve been putting my nose to the grindstone the past couple days. I think I posted on here that I wrote 2,189 words Monday. Well, yesterday was, in its way, even more productive. I wrote 2,169 (yes, only 20 words less) yesterday, bringing my two-day total to 4,358 words. I even set up an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of both daily and running counts for PersoNo.

In other news, although I wrote twenty words less, I also wrote a query letter and sent it off to the Donald Maass Agency. I picked them first because Mr. Maass is Brent Weeks’s agent and that impressed me (if you don’t know who I’m talking about, see my post called “The Way of Shadows”). Their agency requires a query letter, synopsis and five pages of ms, and they promise to reply in four weeks. Since that’ll be outside my window for when my Internet service will die, it might be a little tough to tell you when I know something, but I’ll do my best. In all honesty and pragmatism, I expect rejection. That way I’m not disappointed. It is a practical consideration though, given the math. The average acceptance rate is somewhere between one and three percent, depending on the agency, so in order to keep from being depressed, I am expecting the be rejected. It just boils down to hitting the right agent at the right time.

Off the top of my head, I only know of two people who read this blog who are doing NaNo, but I invite you to post how you’ve done so far on here if you wish. I have no problem with that. If I can help you get noticed by people I know that you don’t, we all win. Add links if you like (and if this blog allows that in comments). It’s tough to get noticed in publishing and if I can help in any way I’m proud to do so. I know it’s not like I have thousands of readers, so maybe posting on here doesn’t mean much, but just remember the old six degrees of separation concept, which says something like only six people separate you from the person you need to know to achieve your goals (if I’ve worded it wrong, forgive me. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard the concept stated).

I wish every NaNo writer lots of luck. It can be tiring churning out that word count every day.

Most of my word count has gone toward my crime novel Pipeline. Despite the research I still need to do for the novel (regarding details like how meth deals actually go down), I’ve decided to go ahead and bull my way through. After all, my own personal writing goal is at least 2,000 words per day, and if I can do that for 30 days, that’s 60,000 words. And it just might get me in the groove of doing that every day of the year, which will churn out a 100,000 word novel in less than two months. So I think I’ll just use my imagination on the first draft and give myself time to do the research on rewrite. I’ve even thought that it might be better that way, rather than be accurate on the details of drug dealing and put it out there for people to read (assuming it gets published, of course). I’ve seen several authors change details to keep them from falling into the wrong hands. Robert Crais does it in his novel Demolition Angel with details about explosives. I can go with that. I don’t particularly want an explosives manual running around out there, especially when it’s a best-selling author like Mr. Crais. What do you think? Should I be accurate, or should I leave details out or change them altogether?

Well, I’m going to keep this one short. I feel like I was pushing it yesterday. When I finished my query letter I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to write or not. It was my first ever query letter, the first time I’ve actually thrown my work out there for complete strangers to see. I don’t even count my writing group there, because I went to probably three or four meetings at least before I brought my own material. It’s a daunting thing to do, I can tell you, and it left me unsure if I could get it together to write. But, I made myself sit down and do it and things went far better than I expected. Nothing wrong with that.



The Way of Shadows

I’ve had a hard time coming up with relevant and fresh topics lately, and I’ve been giving thought to putting my review of books I’m reading on here, so I think I’ll start that tonight. I doubt this will be a real regular feature on here simply because I’m not a professional critic, so I don’t know how to do it very well. But I think I can manage to talk a little about some of the ones I’m reading, if only to give you an idea of the kinds of books I like.

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

The first one I want to talk about is The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks. It was published in 2008, and it’s the first part of The Night Angel trilogy. It’s my understanding that all three books were already written and were published a month apart by Orbit, and they’re New York Times bestsellers. I can see why.

Shadows is a fantasy, and the cover was what intrigued me in the first place. Ever since I saw Shogun back in the Seventies as a mini-series, I’ve had a vague interest in things like this, and seeing a fantasy about an assassin made me pick the book up. And when I read the back, I knew I had to have it.

It’s the story of Azoth, a street urchin who lives in Cenaria City in Midcyru. When the book opens, he is approximately eleven years old, living on whatever he can find in a run down section of the city known as the Warrens. This alone should tell you this is not a Tolkienesque fantasy of elves and dwarves and battles of good and evil. Yes, there are good guys and bad guys, but when the protagonist wants to become an assassin, you have to anticipate a somewhat more gritty book. And Shadows delivers just that.

Actually, the most skilled assassins feel it is an insult to be called an assassin. Anybody can be an assassin, because all they do is kill people. The kind of assassin Azoth wants to become is known as a wetboy, and they use magic to help them take out their deaders, as they term their victims. Azoth, naturally, wants to apprentice to the best wetboy in the city, Durzo Blint, a man known to have no conscious, who can hide in shadows and not be seen unless he wants you to.

Through a convoluted series of events, he manages to achieve this goal, only to find out being a wetboy isn’t exactly what he thought it was. It’s lots of hard work and training, and Weeks takes us through this in the middle of the book roughly a chapter at a time, skipping several years each time. In order to become a wetboy, Azoth has to leave his past live behind, becoming Kylar Stern, with a cover story of being a minor noble from the far edges of the country whose lands have been taken away due to debts or some such. He is sponsored by a minor count whose last name is Drake, who has a few secrets of his own that I won’t reveal here (this is a review, but I won’t throw in spoilers).

Suffice it to say that, if you like stories full of intrigue, where every layer of the plot reveals yet another layer underneath, read this book. I’ve started on  the second in the trilogy (just finished Shadows this morning), and it’s looking to be every bit as good as the first. The characters are authentic and definitely have individual personalities, including a king who’s not smart and is prone to long strings of profanities that are all versions of the same word (“Shit on you, you shitting shitters,” is one of his utterances, or something close to that). He’s laughed at behind his back, pretty much an ineffective “boy king,” as he’s referred to by some of his more charitable critics. Of course, with a king this weak, there’s an impending invasion and many of the characters have to make choices between bad and worse.

Magic in this world is authentic and consistent. Wetboys use what they call a Talent to help them, which aids them in such things as hiding in shadows and adopting more effective disguises. One of Kylar’s problems throughout his training is that his Talent doesn’t seem to be manifesting itself, and without that he will always be doomed to being a simple assassin. The Talent is what makes wetboys different. Oh, and for those of you who are wondering, yes there can be female wetboys.

Weeks’s world of Midcyru is also well-realized, with different cultures and religions and magic working, or at least interpreted, differently in the various cultures. Despite most of the characters being the kind of people we might normally find distasteful at the very least, they can still be sympathized and identified with because each of them is flawed and conflicted, even the seemingly cold, callous Durzo Blint. In fact, it’s the more “noble’ characters you end up despising because they tend to be spoiled royalty of one sort or another who are oblivious to what many of the characters are going through. Granted, in the case of Kylar, that’s just as well because he’s a wetboy living undercover, but there are still many in here you’d like to see Durzo or Kylar chop up just because they’re wasting good air.

So, without taking the risk of revealing some spoilers, I’ll finish off by saying: go get this book and it’s sequels, because if it’s any indication, Brent Weeks is a good writer who’s bringing us a little different type of fantasy.