Thursday, December 27, 2007
Boston Signing - January 3rd

For those of you in the Boston area, here are the details:

I'm going to be at Pandemonium Books at 7:00 on January 3rd. If you need directions or need to contact them, you can get the details HERE.

I'll be reading and answering questions for about an hour, (or until we get bored.) Then I'll sign some books, hang out, and chat. Cool thing is, Pandemonium stays open until 10:00 AND it sells games as well as books. So if there's time after that, I just might try to kick somebody's ass at Catan....





It has been scientifically proven that I cannot be beaten at Catan. If anyone claims to have beaten me, they are lying. If they aren't lying, then some outside force must have influenced the game, thereby rendering it statistically insignificant.

In short: Bring it on.

Back to the signing: since I've scheduled it on such short notice, I'd appreciate it if any of you would help spread the word. Especially if you live in the Boston area, know folks around there, or are visiting for the holidays. Thanks much in advance...


In other news, I seem to have topped the Onion's list of Best Books of 2007. Yay Me!

This particular list means a little extra to me because I grew up reading the Onion in Madison. This was way back around 1990, WAY before it went national. When I was in high school, my dream job was to write for them, and now they're writing about me.

It's a strange world.

pat

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Saturday, December 22, 2007
For those of you in the Boston area....
A quick heads-up. My UK publisher is flying me out to Boston to do a promotional video shoot, so I'll be out on the east coast from January 2nd through the 4th.

Why do I mention this? Because over the last couple of months some of you have complained that I only seem to do events here in the Midwest. Some of you have gone so far as to say hurtful things about my beloved Wisconsin.

So, in an attempt to spread the love around as much as possible, I thought I could do some sort of event while I'm out in the Boston Area. Maybe a little signing/reading/whatever.

Luckily, the gracious owner of Pandemonium Books has agreed to host the shindig despite the woefully short notice.

The specific date and time have yet to be arranged, but I'll have those details up here shortly.
Right now I just wanted to let people know it was going to happen so we could spread the word a little, given that we're doing this on such short notice...

More soon,

pat

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Friday, December 21, 2007
Fried Rice and a new Interview....

So the other day I order some Chinese food, because having someone bring food directly to your house and eating it in your jammies is perhaps the most decadent pleasure that exists.

I ordered some food for my girlfriend as well. This is partly because I'm sensitive and thoughtful and awesome. But, truthfully, it's also because if I didn't, she would just eat half of mine and then I'd be sad and hungry.

Just as the food arrived, my girlfriend called me and told me she'd be late getting home from work. I tell her that I'll wait dinner for her, again because of the awesome, and resist the urge to open the bag to get at the egg rolls. Instead I set the paper bag on my bed and cover it up with a blanket to keep it warm until she gets home.

Eventually she does, and we eat it, and it's lovely.

But that's not the end of the story. The end of the story is that now my blankets smell like chicken fried rice. You'd think this would be a bad thing, but not so much. Truth is, it's kinda nice, actually.

Ah yes. There you go. Another little peek into my life.

Why am I writing about this? Hell, I don't know. Why do I write anything? I suppose because it amuses me, and because I hope it might amuse you too.

If you're looking for more odd ramblings of mine, you can find them in the newest interview I've done over HERE at the Book Swede.

We talk, among other things, about monkeys.

Later all,

pat

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007
What should I do #4 - Homestar Runner and Friends.

Okay, forgive me if I'm a little brief here, but it's right at the end of the semester for me. I had a final yesterday, and I have one tomorrow. My end-of-semester grading looms on the horizon like a great looming damn squelchy thing. My Christmas shopping isn't done by half either, which means that the next handful of days are going to be rough...

There are still announcements on the horizon. But they'll have to wait until I have more time to type them up properly.

It's been a couple of weeks since I did an installment of "What should I do while I'm waiting for your next book to come out." Or, as I like to think of it, "Uncle Pat helps find things to read that aren't total crap."


First on the list:




The Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher.

I first became aware of these books when my own book came out back in April, and I was obsessively watching my numbers on Amazon. Butcher's Ninth book had just come out in hardcover, and... well... It was kicking the ass off my book in the rankings. Even when my sales rank jumped up, his was always doing just a little bit better.

So I hated him. Not, y'know, a lot. Just in a kinda vague, grumbly, third-grader way. I'd see his book there, a few places above mine on Amazon's fantasy list. And I'd think things like, "Stupid urban fantasy bullshit. Stupid looking cowboy wizard. Ooohh.. Look who has a staff. How dumb. Grumble grumble."

Then I went out and bought a copy of the first book in the series, Storm Front. And it was REALLY GOOD.

Simply put, these books rocked my socks. I read all nine of them in less than three weeks.

And really, what's not to like? First person story about a clever magicy-type guy who leads a rough life. His magic is gritty and realistic. The author has a vast and eclectic knowledge base that adds nicely to the books. Honestly, I think Butcher might be my long lost twin. I'd love to meet him and talk shop some day.

Butcher writes great action scenes, and his characters change, grow, make mistakes, and reap the consequences of their own actions.

What I'm saying is that it's really good stuff, folks. Read it.


Second, I'd like to bring a book to your attention that probably has been under your radar....





The Secret History of Moscow, by Ekaterina Sedia.

I ran into this book way back I went to a convention in my hometown of Madison. My book had only come out a month or so beforehand, and nobody knew who I was. Or, if they did know, they didn't care much.

While wandering the dealer's room, I had picked up a little promo thing from the Prime Books table. It was one of those things where they print out the first chapter of the book as a teaser.

So I took one and read it at lunch. It hooked me in, and I went back to the table to buy the book. But... alas... the book wasn't going to be released for several months yet, not until November. Lifetimes away for someone with a memory like mine.

But then something magical happened. A person behind the table looked at my convention badge and said, "Wait, I've heard about you. You can have an early copy of the book if you want."

I tried to pay for the book, but they wouldn't let me. It took me a while to realize that they were just GIVING me a copy of the book because I was an author, and they were hoping, if I liked it, then maybe I would say nice things about it and help them spread the word to promote it.

Eventually I realized what was happening. It was like that scene from 2001 where the ape holds up the bone. Except I didn't club anyone to death with my free book. I pretty much just legged it away before anyone tried to take it away from me. It was my first, sweet taste of delicious authory fameperks.

Anyway, the end of the story is that I did read the book and I very much enjoyed it. It reminded me of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, but set in Moscow instead of London. And Sedia draws more on the Russian mythic tradition instead of the western stuff that Gaiman used. That was really interesting, and I learned some cool new stuff because of it.

And lastly: Homestar Runner.

I'm assuming most of you already know about it. But if you don't, then you're really missing out and I would be remiss in not bringing it to your attention.

You'll need to watch a little bit of it before it starts to make sense. After a while, it becomes like a new religion.

That's all for now folks. I've got to grab a little sleep before I head out to my final.


Much love,

pat

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Thursday, December 13, 2007
New Interview: Concurring Opinions.


So last night I had a dream with Neil Gaiman in it. I can't for the life of me remember the details, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't a sex dream. Pretty sure.

What does this mean? Well, it's probably just because I met him recently, and I'm re-reading Sandman at the moment. But if I dream about him two more times... I'm pretty sure that means he's my spirit animal. Which wouldn't be too bad, all things considered.

It's been a while since I've done an interview, but a couple weeks ago a fellow named Dave Hoffman contacted me and asked if I'd like to do a Q & A of a slightly different sort for Concurring Opinions, a legal blog.

He asked a bunch of questions about how the legal system works in my world, some ethics and morality stuff too. And, of course, we chatted about other stuff, writing, teaching, worldbuilding, etc. It was fun, and I got to talk about a lot of things that haven't come up in other interviews.

Anyway, if you're interested in hearing me ramble on, the interview is OVER HERE.

Share and Enjoy,

pat

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Friday, December 7, 2007
On meeting Gaiman

I realized today that while I did tell the story of when I met Neil Gaiman, I didn't actually post up any proof. No photographic evidence that I'm not just living an elaborate fantasy world contained entirely in my mind.

Wait, I guess I am. Living in my own fantasy world is kinda what they pay me for. But my point is that my rich personal fantasy life did not include meeting Neil Gaiman, that was a real bit that actually happened in my not-fantasy world.

And here's the picture to prove it:




(I am the one with the Muppet-like beard.)


First, I would like to state, for the record, that I am not about to bite Neil Gaiman with the intention of devouring a piece of him, thereby gaining some of his power. I am actually laughing. Or I might be doing my Prince Vultan impression. Or both.

For those of you who have not squandered your lives watching bad movies, this is Prince Vultan from Flash Gordon.





Also this:




Uncanny, isn't it? It's like we're twins.

You'll also notice in the picture that I'm keeping a careful distance between myself and Gaiman. I read somewhere that if you touch him, God strikes you dead for your impiety. That's why he's carried everywhere on a platform supported by six burly Mameluke slaves.

Lastly, just to prove that I can look civilized when I have to, here's a picture of me looking like an something other than a fictional character or a hobo:





Awww.... Look at me. I'm cute as a fluffy puppy.

This is back in 2002 at the Writers of the Future award ceremony with my fellow winner Neddi Okorafor. She's one of the handful of cool writers that I got to know before my book came out and I got all popular and shit. Nnedi gave me advice on early drafts of my book, and has just generally been all-around cool over the years. Her second book, The Shadow Speaker, just came out. It's good stuff and you should definitely check it out. She was also on the cover of this month's Locus, so you know she's a heavy hitter.

That's all for now. I've got to get back to work...

Fondly,

pat

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Thursday, December 6, 2007
Of things to come...

There are a few things I've been meaning to write about here in the blog for some time now.

Some are just little stories that I've been meaning to tell for a while. I have a bad habit of making a post that mentions that I'm going to a con, then when I get back I make a post saying something along the lines of: "Whoo! What a trip! I'll give you all the details later." But then I get busy and never seem to get around to it.

For example. My last signing was at a library in a little town where I went to high school, just outside of Madison. We got a surprisingly good turnout (about 30-40 people) and I stayed for about three hours, reading, chatting, and signing books.

Anyway, when I stopped to ask for questions, a little boy of about four or so raised his hand. I called on him, and he tells me that he likes the draccus. His parents had read him the book. Everyone smiles to themselves, and I tell him that I liked the draccus too. (In retrospect, I wish I would have asked him *why* he liked the draccus.)

I answer a few more questions, read another section, and the little boy raises his hand again. This time he tells me the secret to selling a lot of books. "You just write one," he explained, making a gesture as if holding a pencil. "Then they make COPIES of it. Then they sell the COPIES."

He was pretty proud of his idea, and, honestly, it was a pretty good one, so I guess he had every right to be proud.

Over the next month or so, I'll try to get you the rest of these stories before they evaporate out of my flaky brain.

I also have a few... announcements to make. Some of them you're going to probably be excited about, and some of them you're probably not. Either way, both types will take some detailed writing up, and I just don't have the time, energy, or mental wherewithal to do right now. It's getting light outside and I should really be getting to sleep.

In closing, let me pass along a delightful time-waster: FREERICE.

I tend to average around 42 or 43, but I made it as high as 46 once. I was pretty proud of that.

Later everyone,

pat

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Monday, December 3, 2007
.... and I'm back.

Hello there everyone. Sorry I've been away for so long.

One of the problems with doing a blog like this....

You know, only after typing that sentence did I realize something. I don't really consider this a blog. Rather, I know this is a blog. This entity that you show up and read is a blog. But I don't think of myself as *writing* blogs. I think of myself as writing something else. Something nameless. Something somewhere between a news post, an editorial column, and an open letter to the world.

Anyway, as I was saying, one of the problems with writing something like this. (Something that I update according to my whimsy, but that a fair number of people show up and read.) Is that if I don't post anything for a while, it actually starts getting harder to post. After two weeks of silence, I start to feel like like I should have something *Really Cool* so say when I come back.

But I don't. I don't even really have any especially exciting reason for not posting for a while. Truth is, Me Being Busy Playing Catch-Up After A Convention + End of The Semester Grading + Thanksgiving + Two Signings = Radio Silence on My End.

I've been so busy lately that I haven't even checked my Amazon Ranking for, like, two or three days.... an unprecedented event.

(470, by the way.)

Let's see, what news do I have? The Name of the Wind has been nominated for Borders' Original Voices award for 2007. Point of interest, I'm the only person in my category whose title does not have a colon in it. For some reason that fills me with pride.

It just snowed here in Wisconsin. About 10 inches. My first snowfall as a homeowner. I shoveled for a solid hour tonight, great exercise that has reminded me how truly out of shape I've become. Take it from me, kids, being a writer has certain perks, but physique isn't one of them.

Other news.... Hmmmm... it seems like after almost three weeks of being gone, I should have more to report....

Oh, right, my meeting with Gaiman.

In brief, it was pretty cool. About four hours before Gaiman was scheduled to do his reading, I went from being nervous about meeting him, to a different sort of nervous. Suddenly I was worried that Gaiman wasn't going to be cool enough to live up to my expectations.

I know it's silly to idolize authors. I know this because I *am* an author, and it's silly for people to idolize me. Over these last couple months I've had people get nervous about meeting me and/or have various degrees of anxiety-related endearing geekiness when we talk. When people e-mail me and tell me that they're nervous about meeting me a signing or a reading, I laugh and say, "Believe me, I'm really not that impressive."

Anyone who has actually met me will back me up on this...

So I know firsthand that it's silly. Authors are just people. But the fact remains that when we love a book, we want to love the person who wrote the book. We want them to be as cool as the stories they write, and Gaiman writes one hell of a story...

So as Gaiman's reading approached, I grew increasingly nervous. What if he wasn't cool enough?

I needn't have worried. He was very relaxed and laid back. Very witty and articulate. He's a marvelous public speaker. He gave us a early taste of his upcoming "The Graveyard Book." He's a great reader, too. Though I wasn't surprised by that, as I really enjoyed the audio book story collection, "Fragile Things" which he read himself.

My reading was a half-hour after his, a hard act to follow. But I muddled through as best I could, reading a bit of my novel, a bit of poetry, and an essay I once wrote on the slow vs. fast zombies debate. It was a pretty good time.

I had about five minutes left in my time slot, and was trying to decide how to fill it, when one of the people organizing the conference came in and said, "Mr Gaiman wants to make sure he has a chance to talk to Pat before he leaves. I'm afraid I'm going to have to steal him..."

I gave the audience a look that said, "Are y'all cool with me heading out a little early?" They looked back, "Are you kidding? It's Neil Gaiman! Run you fool, run!"

So I went over to meet him. I tried my best to not be a total spaz when we met. I didn't want to be all gushy and fanboy. Personally, I enjoy it when people get a little geeky over my writing, but I figure he has to get that sort of thing all the time, and it has to be wearying after the first ten years or so.

So we hung out and chatted for a bit. Me and Neil. I have a picture somewhere, but I can't find it right now...

He was, as they say, "a hell of a regular guy." He told me that he'd had the chance to read the first few chapters of my book, because his publisher in England had given him a copy. He said something very flattering about my writing, but unfortunately, the book was too big to fit it into his carry-on luggage for his flight home. (The UK book is even bigger than the US version.) After that his life got a little busy, what with two movies coming out, books, signings, and generally being Neil Gaiman. So he kinda lost track of it. I can understand that. I'm overwhelmed right now and I can't be a fraction of as busy as he is...

So yeah. The whole experience was lovely. We chatted and I asked him some comic-book questions, as I have some people sniffing around about doing the graphic novel adaptations of the book. It was lovely, and he gave some good advice.

Now here's the crux of the story. Gaiman got ready to leave, but before he could head out, one of the con-goers caught him. The guy asked if he could send Gaiman a copy of his brother's novel to read, so that Gaiman could give him some feedback. Gaiman politely refused, explaining that he wished he could, but he really didn't have the time.

But they guy wouldn't take the gracious refusal. He asked if Gaiman would maybe just look at a few chapters instead. Gaiman explained, again, that there just weren't enough hours in the day, and besides, his brother would probably get better, more in-depth advice from a local writer's group....

But the guy really wouldn't take no for an answer. He tried a few more times from different angles. And here's the thing: Gaiman stayed cool through the whole thing. He didn't get bitchy or snippy or exasperated. Considering that he must get hit like that all the time, I was truly impressed.

The end. Moral: Gaiman is awesome.

I think that's all I've got for now....

Oh... one other thing. I've been invited by writer/author John Scalzi to offer up one of my already written blogs for promotional re-post on his site: Whatever.

Any advice? Of the blogs you've read on here, which one do you think would be best for amusing/entertaining/hooking in new readers?

I'd appreciate it if you let me know what you think in the comments below.

Later all,

pat

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