Alright, barring another bout of food poisoning, significant natural disaster, or some especially portentous omens, I will be heading up to Minneapolis this Saturday.
I'll be at Uncle Hugo's from 1-3. I'll be signing books and generally just hanging around. I'm also planning on being witty, but that is largely contingent on whether or not I'm able to find a coffee place on my way to the store. Without coffee, I'll have to settle for looking charmingly bewildered, quickly fading into sluggishness, incoherence, and death.
After that I'm going to be doing a gorilla signing at Dreamhaven. By this I mean I intend to show up and thump violently at my chest to establish my alpha male status. This plan is also contingent on finding a coffee shop after leaving Hugo's. Without caffeine I expect my ploy for primacy will fail. If that's the case you'll probably find me submissively grooming one of the burlier cashiers. Baring that, I'll probably be lurking around, signing stock somewhere in the store between 3:30-4:30.
This means if you really want a signed copy of the book, you can now order it online from Dreamhaven. What's more, you can even have me personalize it, if you order before Saturday and include what you want me to write when you order the book.
In other news, I'll be making updates to the page in the next couple days. We're going to post up several interviews, podcasts, and reviews that have been accumulating over the last couple weeks. I'll also be updating the tour schedule page. So stay tuned....
Unfortunately, I seem to have come down with some sort of flu bug, or a case of food poisoning, or I have angered some sort of vengeful old testement god. It's been a rough night, and even if the storm has passed, and I hope has, I just can't make it. If there's one thing worse than being violently ill, it's being violently ill during a four hour drive to Minneapolis.
Plus, for all I know, this might be contageous. Quite aside from the fact that I don't want to make people sick in general, I'm doubly horrified by the thought of people getting sick after meeting me and buying my book. For some reason I can picture this experience written up as a review on Amazon:
I met Pat at Uncle Hugo's, where I bought his book and got it signed. He's a nice guy with a warm handshake, but you can tell he's passionate about his writing by the fevored glint in his eye. I started reading The Name of the Wind as soon as I got home. The first fifty pages were great. The second fifty were even better. Then my guts clenched and I spent eight hours hunched over my toilet cursing the name of the only author who has ever made me physically ill with his writing. Negative three stars.
I'm sorry for all of you who were planning on attending. But I'm hoping to reschedual as soon as possible. Maybe even next weekend. I'll post something up here as soon as we manage to set that up.
I just thought I might as well make a brief, public statement about this as a lot of people have been emailing and asking me about it lately.
The second and third books of the trilogy should be coming out fairly quickly, considering how long they are and the fact that I'm fairly obsessive when it comes to my writing. That means book two should be out about two years from now. Book three will be a year or so after that.
Why so long? / I thought I read somewhere that you already had the second two books written?
The trilogy is already written all the way through to the end, but there is still some editorial work to be done. I want the second one to be at least as good as the first, if not better. That takes time.
I know that on the reader's side, a year seems like a long time. It always used to piss me off, having to wait for my favorite authors to write new stuff. But now that I'm on the other side I know why it takes so long. There's a ton of behind-the-scenes work that has to happen: Editing, re-editing, shipping, cover design, printing, layout, more editing. It all takes time.
In order to make the wait marginally less painful, I'm going to be putting up new content on the website in addition to continuing the blogs. Some of the things I'm considering include:
Putting up an FAQ.
Expanding the clickable sections on the world map.
Getting a forum up and running.
Explaining in more detail the design of the trouper's lute in the Music section.
Getting the Bestiary up off the ground in the World section.
Posting deleted scenes/chapters from book one.
Posting teaser chapters from book two.
Which of these sounds best to you? Give it a little discussion in the comments below. Suggestions for other improvements are also welcome....
I'd like to ask about a subject close to my heart:
How do you feel about poetry? Have you ever written any? What is your favorite kind? and in particular how do you feel about Dark Poetry?
Oh and do you feel that getting poems published is maybe easier/harder then publishing a book?
Generally speaking, I like poetry. Specifically, it's more of a love/hate relationship. I love some types, but a great portion of does nothing but irritate me.
I've written poetry in the past and enjoyed it. I believe that if an author loves language and words, then poetry can teach a great deal about how to use those words effectively.
True, all authors use words, but not all authors focus on making them beautiful. Shakespeare loved words, so did Roger Zelazny and Angela Carter. Ray Bradbury also has what I consider a poetical turn of phrase, by which I mean that the language itself it beautiful, regardless of content, character, or cleverness.
Some authors just don't play that word game. They care more about story, or plot, or character, or... I dunno, unicorns or making money. I'm not being critical here. Those things are important. Those authors can still write good stories, there's no denying that.
But my favorite authors love words AND character AND story... and sometimes unicorns, I guess.
Even if you aren't a word-centric writer, poetry can teach you a lot. You know how everyone talks about Hemmingway learning his tight style by writing for newspapers? I think people can learn the same economy of phrase from poetry. In an 80,000 word novel you have space to waste. But in a twelve line poem you need to make every word pay for itself twice. Ideally, poetry is all about the efficient, affective, well-crafted line. Any author will benefit from learning lessons in that vein.
Unfortunately, a lot of poets these days don't give a damn about a well-crafted line. They think poetry is about getting drunk or wasted and then vomiting their emotions onto a page. These people idolize Ginsberg and Bukowski, but they don't realize that those poets used an amazing amount of craft in their work.
Where were we....? Oh, Do I like Dark Poetry?
Honestly, I don't really know what you mean by Dark Poetry. If Dark Poetry is a pages-long free-form rambling discursion on the angsty emoness of a person's life.... then probably not. Generally speaking those folks have different poetic goals than I do. There's not much attention to the beauty of the language, which is where my heart lies.
In terms of publishing, I never really tried to get my poetry published in any professional way. But I can make a general statement that I'm reasonably sure is true: the difficulty involved depends on where you're looking to get published. If you're trying to hit the big dozen poetry venues where they pay serious money and you get real fame for being there, then it's going to be hard. Same with publishing, the A-list venues and big publishing houses are like unassailable mountains where you really need a friend on the inside or some really remarkable writing to get in. (Or both, ideally.)
But if all you're looking for is to see your work in print and have it read by people, there are a lot of smaller venues that do a nice job publishing people's writing. Not much money or fame, but it can be a good place to start.
Good lord, I thought this was going to be a short post. Sorry for my long windedness. I'll get to a few other questions later, and, as brevity is the soul of wit, I'll try to be brief.
Despite all my careful preparations, airport security flagged me down and tossed my bags the same as they always do. This time the dangerous materials were.
1. A half-full container of vanilla extract. 2. Two of those little Vaseline lip balm things. (Cherry flavor.) 3. And a small container of superglue.
They graciously left me the lip balm, but made me put it in a little baggie first. Apparently putting something in a little baggie prevents it from being used for terrorism. The vanilla they made me throw away, which was a pisser because it was really good vanilla.
But apparently the possession of superglue was such an egregious offense that they not only confiscated it, but took down all my personal information from my driver's license. Lovely, as if my government file needed more material.
So I pretty much give up trying to make them happy. Next time I'm going to go through security with a fucking chainsaw and jar of live wasps just so they have a legitimate reason to put my name in the book.
The convention itself was pretty fun. If you've been to these sort of cons before, you can probably imagine it pretty well. Lots of geeks of various creeds and nations, all free to be themselves for the weekend. I myself register at 50% writer geek, 20% gamer geek, 10 % comic geek, 5% anime geek.
A good time was had by all. There were girls in cat-ears and corsets, guys wearing cloaks and swords. There were also guys in corsets and girls with swords. It was a pretty non-judgmental atmosphere, which, honestly, I think is the thing that I like best about cons. Everyone is pretty much free to do their own thing and nobody's going to raise too much of an eyebrow at you. In fact, the farther away from the norm you go, the more likely people are to be impressed.
But by far the coolest costume I saw was this....
When I first saw them walking down the hall, I started laughing and couldn't stop. They're the yipyip aliens from Sesame Street. For those of you whose childhood was lacking, here's something to bring you up to speed:
I also discovered that I love speaking on panels. I love it. Hopefully I'll get the chance to do more of that in the future.
I returned home on Monday to over 600 emails. So if you've written me and I haven't replied yet, I plead for patience.
In about four hours I'll be heading out to Seattle for Norwescon. It's the first con I've ever recieved a pro-invite to, and the first con I've attended as a professional.
I'm sure it's going to be fun. I'm on a few panels, and I REALLY enjoy being on panels talking about writing. I'm also doing a couple signings and and a radio interview. Cool stuff.
But I hate getting ready for these things, packing and making the travel arrangements. And I hate to fly.
I'm not afraid of flying. Well, okay I am, mildly. Any sensible person is. But the real reason I hate to fly is because security always identifies me as requiring some sort of special attention. They scan me, pat me down, toss my luggage. Every. Single. Time.
I don't know why. Maybe it's my trenchcoat. Maybe it's my beard. Maybe it's because whenever I fly it's at the ass crack of morning, so I have to wake up seven hours earlier than I like to, ane I look like a zombie or a meth addict.
So this time around, I'm planning on beating the system. First, I'm not going to go to sleep at all tonight, I'm going to stay up until 4:30 in the morning, then drive to the airport.
Second, I decided to toss my backpack and travelsack to remove anything suspicious that might draw attention from the Man.
It's been a while since I cleaned these out, so I discover:
Laser pointer should stay at home. I could... I dunno... blind someone with it. I'm not being twitchy here. Last time I went through security, they pulled a rock out of my bag and asked me what it was.
"A rock," I said. "It's a cool rock."
The woman gave me a look, then took the rock to show her supervisor. The real reason I wanted to keep the rock is because the rock had a line all he way through it, and I had a suspicion that it would protect me from fairies. Maybe they would have been less suspicious if I'd given them the full explaination.....
So yeah. If a rock throws up a red flag, I'm guessing that a laser is probably right out.
I pulled they keys out of my bag too. I have a vague suspicion this isn't something a normal person carries. I can imagine a conversation similar to the one with the rock. "What are these?" "They're cool old keys." Why do you have them?" "In case I find a cool old door I want to try to open."
Fine. Keys stay home too. If I find any cool old doors out in Seattle, I'm going to be pissed.
My Incredible Hulk valentines. I don't know what I was thinking when I bought these, but they certainly don't fit into the well-ballanced persona I'm hoping to convey.
Same for the garden gnome and the jar of cloves. I honestly can't remember why I thought it was a good idea to have cloves with me.
Yeah. This thing is right out. I don't even want to think about what it would look like in that x-ray machine. (It's a backrub tool I got as a gift. Honest.)
Damn. I'd completely forgotten that I had my ninja stars in the bottom of my bag. I took them over to a friend's house a couple weeks ago and then spaced out about them. I guess this pre-flight bag search has just paid for itself. Especially considering the last thing I found....
Like everything else here, this is innocent, it just looks criminal. It's a vial of caffiene. But I'm guessing the security people aren't going to be real interested in giving me the benefit of the doubt.
Alright folks. I'm off to re-pack my bags. I'm going to be out of contact for a couple days, but early next week I'll be back, hopefully with some interesting stories from the con.
I had my first reading and book signing last Tuesday. A cool if slightly surreal experience.
I showed up at the Barnes and Noble in Madison about ten minutes before the signing was supposed to start. There were about a half-dozen of my friends hanging around, and my grampa was sitting in the front row. That was about it. Ten people tops, and that was including me.
Honestly, I was kinda relieved. With less than ten people the potential for looking stupid is greatly reduced. And since everyone was either a friend or a relative, I could trust that they'd already seen me humiliate myself on a far grander scale than anything I was likely to achieve tonight.
But I was pretty disappointed. You want a little fanfair for your maiden voyage, and in terms of the beginning of my writing career, a turnout of less than ten people is not a good omen.
But soon the place started to fill up. We put out more chairs and they filled up too. Eventually we ended up with about two hundred people. A crowd. Perhaps even a throng.
I read some of the book out loud, which was a new experience for me. We also did some Q & A, which I very much enjoyed, as I love talking about writing. I got a few laughs and avoided walking around with my fly undone, so, as a whole, the experience was a positive one.
Then came the signing. I was a little nervous because of certain penmanship and spelling issues I posses. However, the B & N organizer had everyone sign a little post-it and put it on their book, so when they got to the front of the line, I could personalize the books without having to ask the spelling of names.
I made my way through about 40 or 50 people without any trouble. I'm chatting with people, shaking hands, having a good time. I feel just a little bit like a rockstar. And that, of course, is when I let my guard down.
A woman gets to the front of the line and hands me her book. "Could you inscribe this 'to Helen?' " she asks.
"No problem," I say. I take the post-it off the book and stick it on the table where I can look at it: H-e-l-e-n.
Because I'm feeling pretty good, I try to chat with the woman while I'm signing. As a result, I misspell the name.
I laugh it off and move her book over to the side, replacing it with the book I brought with me to read from. I stop talking and focus my considerable intellect at the task at hand. Using my full concentration, massive brain, and over eleven years of higher education, I'm able to successfully transcribe a five-letter name... the second time around.
So now I'm left with this: a memento of my first signing.