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Shadows Beneath


Ladies and gentlemen, I’m beyond proud to introduce to you Shadows Beneath, a collection of four stories written by the members of Writing Excuses, my podcast. In it, I present “Sixth of the Dusk,” a brand-new Cosmere novella.

The stories you will find in Shadows Beneath are:

“I.E.Demon,” by Dan Wells. US soldiers in Afghanistan are tasked with testing new technology built to protect them from bombs. Unfortunately, the technology has a few bugs in it. Also, demons.

“An Honest Death,” by Howard Tayler. What do you do when your new life-extension drugs are effective enough to get the attention of Death himself?

“A Fire in the Heavens,” by Mary Robinette Kowal. An epic fantasy novelette involving a tidally locked planet, an expedition to a new continent, and what it’s like to see the moon for the first time.

“Sixth of the Dusk,” by Brandon Sanderson. In a land where people use birds to grant them magical talents, a solitary island trapper discovers a plot to destroy his way of life—and maybe his entire culture.

A Unique Concept

This anthology is seriously one of the coolest things I’ve ever been part of. The stories that Dan, Howard, and Mary wrote are top-notch, and the bonus material in this volume is incredible. The volume not only includes the four polished works (One novella, one long novelette, and two short stories) but also the following:

  • Transcripts of the original brainstorming sessions for each story, recorded on Writing Excuses. (You can listen to them here.)
  • The first draft of every story, for comparison purposes to the final draft.
  • Transcripts of workshopping sessions we did for each story. (These will run as episodes of Writing Excuses starting next week.)
  • A special “visual changes” version of each story, where we compared the first draft with the last one and put a strikethrough on each word deleted and an underline on each word added. (This will allow you to directly see the editing process of each writer.)
  • Plenty of other bonus features for each story, including essays on writing and the editing process, other drafts, and other surprises.

If you are a writer or know someone who wants to become one, or if you just love to see things behind the scenes, I can’t think of another resource like this one. In this anthology you can see the step-by-step process of four different writers and follow the journey from ideas to polished works. But even if you aren’t a writer, this collection has four amazing stories that are well worth the value. (And check out that cover by Julie Dillon, who—I might add—is nominated for a Hugo Award this year for her artwork.)

Ordering Information

Below, I’ll give a longer explanation of how the anthology came about, and will go into depth about the bonus materials. But in case you’re already sold, here’s how you can get your copy of Shadows Beneath:

  1. Westercon/Fantasycon Launch Party! If you’re going to be in Salt Lake City this weekend for one of these two conventions (they share badges, so it doesn’t matter which one you’re attending) you can come to the Shadows Beneath launch party this Thursday at 1:00 at Westercon. There will be readings from all four authors, free food (maybe), and copies for sale. (Including the numbered editions, if any are left. See below.)
  2. Numbered edition hardcover. ($30) NOW SOLD OUT. Limited to 200 copies, these will be numbered, then signed by all four authors this weekend at Westercon. You can buy them at the launch party, but you should also order them right now here to make sure you get a copy (you can select “pick up at Westercon” for your shipping option). If you buy the hardcover, you’ll immediately be sent a free ebook copy to read. (And if you buy the hardcover this weekend at the con instead, you’ll get a coupon code for a free ebook.)
  3. Regular Hardcover. ($25) This is exactly the same as the numbered edition, only without the signatures or numbers. You can order it here, shipped to your door, and it comes with a free ebook. We’ll also have them for sale at my booth at Westercon! Collect the signatures yourself.
  4. Ebook. ($9.99) We’re getting this up on all the ebook platforms, so you should be able to find this on Kobo, Nook, Kindle, etc. Check the worldwide links in the upper right of this post; most of the links already work. However, you can also just buy it here from my webstore, and we’ll send it directly to you.

How Did This Book Come About?

At Writing Excuses, we’re always looking for new ways we can be a resource to writers. I want to avoid letting the podcast become stale, and instead want to try new things. About two years back, I pitched the idea of us each brainstorming stories on-air, one episode per author, then writing those stories.

The other podcasters liked the idea, and we had wonderful brainstorming sessions. (As I said, you can listen to them here.) Writing schedules being what they are, it took us about a year to complete our stories, which we brought to the Writing Excuses retreat last summer. There, we decided to read each other’s first drafts and record our workshopping advice to one another.

By then, the idea of putting this together into an anthology was growing more and more vivid in my mind. What would be better than brainstorming/workshopping stories in front of an audience? Collecting all the materials for each story into a volume people could use to “follow along” with each week. We decided to hold off airing the workshopping sessions until we put a full volume together. (We were hoping also to get a workshopping session in for Dan, who hadn’t finished his story as of the retreat last year. Alas, that didn’t happen, so he included an extra draft of his story in the anthology instead.)

Peter and Isaac, my editorial assistant and art director respectively, went to work on putting the volume together—and boy, is it handsome. A full-page illustration by four different artists, chosen to match the story. (My story is illustrated by the awesome Kekai Kotaki, whom I asked for specifically because I love his work on Magic: the Gathering.) The cover jacket is fully embossed and foiled; I think you’ll be impressed by how this book looks.

As we went forward, I tried to stuff every goodie into the book that I could. Each story has different materials, but for “Sixth of the Dusk” I added in an essay on fixing endings in books, with direct explanations on how I fixed the first draft’s bad ending, transforming it into the final revision. I also included the notes I took during my writing group sessions covering this story, giving another look at the drafting and revision process.

This book is flat-out awesome. (For those of you who love my epic fantasy stories, I’d in particular commend Mary’s story to you, which is one of the best pieces of fantasy short fiction I’ve ever read.) We’ve put a ton of work into this, so please give it a look. And as always, thanks for reading!

Brandon Sanderson
June 30, 2014


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