Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Spring in Wisconsin


Today is April 29th. It is two days away from Beltane.

Today I made a snowman in my yard.






A careful observer will note that Sarah's lips are wet, and her cheeks are pudged out. That's because she was eating a carrot. (You can see what remains in her hand.)

I told her that wasn't a cool thing to do. Eating a carrot right in front of the snowman you're making is rude, and just a little macabre. But, as always, she didn't listen to me.....

Have a good day everyone.

pat


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Sunday, April 27, 2008
The Rothfuss Corporation


A couple weeks ago I had the delightful experience of doing my taxes. It was extra exciting this year, because most of my money came from writery stuff. That means for the most part, I'm self-employed.

I've always thought "self-employed" had a nice ring to it. It's sort of Firefly-esque. Wear a gun, take jobs as they come, and never be under the heel of nobody ever again....

But then I found out that if you're self employed, you get to pay super double-fun bonus taxes. Because, apparently, the government hates you.

Up until this year, I've always gotten money back because I've lived well below the poverty line. This year, I got to give them money. It was, as they say, more fun than getting kicked in the throat. Mostly.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against taxes. Everyone loves to bitch about them, but taxes pay for schools, and roads, and snowplows, and sewage treatment plants. My friends have a son who is autistic, and the government helps them by bringing in well-trained people.

These things are important. If that's all my taxes went toward, I would pay them gladly. I would sing a song while writing out the check.

However, we all know that's not the case.

So, under the advice of several wise people, I've decided to start a corporation. This is supposed to prevent the government from taking quite as big a bite out of my ass for next year's taxes.

It doesn't seem right, honestly. The corporation is just me: I own it. And this corporation (let's call it Me-corp) will be employing me. That, apparently, is different from being actually self-employed. Sorry? What? How does that work?

I guess what it comes down to is that the government is really, really dumb. Dumb enough so that if I put on sock on one of my hands and use it as a puppet, it will be convinced that the puppet is actually paying the taxes, not me.

But I'm not above exploiting a loophole in the system. So all that remains is to figure out what to call this corporation. I having trouble picking a name. Names are important things, you know. They tell you a great deal about a... a corporation.

So far, the only names that I can come up with are goofy ones, like Puppet-Co. Because the thought of owning a corporation is just silly to me, I keep thinking of cheesy names and slogans. Things like:

Rothco: Our Future is Your Tomorrow....

The Badassery: Crushing Your Hopes and Dreams Since 1998


Another part of me wants to just geek out and name the corporation after something in my book. I could call it "Elodin Enterprises" Or "The Valaritas Consortium."

If y'all have any clever ideas, please feel free to list them below....

Also of note:

  • Today my book is going to be listed in the New York Times print edition at #11. It's probably not such a big deal for you, but I've been excited to see it....
  • I've been really surprised by the response I've had to The Contest. I've already received over a hundred entries, and decided to push back the deadline because some people heard about it late and asked for more time. New deadline is May 4th. Clever readers will realize that this opens up the possibility of taking pictures on Beltane.... I'm just sayin'.

Later all,

pat

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008
New York Times Bestseller: It's offical.


For those of you who haven't heard the news yet.....





(Click to Embiggen)


That's me at the bottom. I've come all the way up to #11 since last week.


Something I never knew before: Apparently, "An asterisk (*) indicates that a book's sales are barely distinguishable from the book above."

Makes me wish I'd bought a few more copies off Amazon to give away to friends....

Little story: After I got the news that I was now officially a New York Times Bestselling Author, I wandered out of my office and into the hallway, where my girlfriend was looking at her butt in the mirror. You can't really blame her for this, it's a nice butt.

"I made it to # 11 on the Times list," I said.

She made an excited squee-like noise and did something that was kind of like a little excited dance, and kind of like jumping around. It was the perfect response, and I'm glad that she did it. Somebody really has to. If I did it, I'd look demented and feel weird about myself. But when she does it it looks cute and earnest.

"You're so cool!" she said. "Do you want to celebrate?"

I thought about it. "We could get some Chinese food and watch Doctor Who...." I said after a little bit.

And that's exactly what we did.

It was only later that I realized when she said "celebrate" she was probably thinking something more... grandiose. It does make sense, I suppose. Making it onto the Times list is a pretty big deal. It's sort of an occasion. The type of thing that most people would associate with popping champagne and passing around cigars. Or renting a limo and going out to some manner of fancy dress-up restaurant.

Me? Chinese delivery and Doctor Who.

That's just how I roll.


Later all,

pat

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Sunday, April 20, 2008
Following Diogenes

The other day I was getting dressed, and I experienced something unfamiliar, something I couldn't remember ever experiencing before.

For this to make sense, I need to explain something first. I'm a sensation seeker.

Some people with this personality trait call themselves "thrill seekers," but that's not really appropriate in my case. I don't feel the need to jump off bridges and go snorkeling with sharks. I'm not an adrenaline junkie -- I simply like to experience new things.

And if you have my peculiar type of curiosity, there new things all over the place. This is part of the reason I like meeting people and going places. It's why I like reading books, which is like meeting people and going places except you don't have to take a shower and find your pants first.

Hmmm.... I still feel like I might be giving the wrong impression. I'm not talking about going anywhere exotic. A few years ago I really enjoyed visiting a small town called Amherst - population: not much. They had a great river, and the locks on the public mailboxes were really cool. New York was interesting too, but despite all the museums and landmarks I saw, the thing that I liked the most were the pigeons and the sidewalks. The sidewalks in Soho are really great.

It would probably be fair to say that I'm a thrill seeker with simple tastes. If you've ever been driving around central Wisconsin and seen someone running his hands over the bark of a tree, or staring intently into the water that's running along the gutter and into a storm drain, it was quite possibly me.

The point of all this is that I am tuned to the sensation of a new experience.

So a few days ago, I was getting dressed. I was halfway thought putting on my socks when I realized that I was experiencing something new.... But for the life of me I couldn't put my finger on what it was.

It took me the better part of a minute to figure it out: I was sitting on my bed while I put on my socks.

The socks weren't the new thing. The new thing was sitting on the bed while putting them on. Normally I put my socks on standing up. Part of the reason I do this is because I have ninja-like balance that I use at every opportunity, lest I dull my keen fighting edge. But the main reason I've always done it this way is that for the last 15 years I haven't owned a bed.

Where do I sleep? Well, with the exception of a few years of futon while in grad school, I've usually just slept on a mattress on the floor.

I use sheets, mind you. I'm not an animal. I just never bothered getting all those other parts that go together with the mattress to make it a bed.

While I was sitting on my bed, thinking, "Hmm. This is different," I realized y'all probably have a terribly inaccurate idea of what my life is like. You've come in at the end of the story, so to speak.

It would be reasonable for you to assume that my life has always been this luxurious, full of beds, posh coffee drinks, and Chinese food delivered directly to my house. But the truth is, for most of my life I have practiced simplicity of living. As a philosophy, it is very appealing to me. And, as a bonus, when you aren't worried about making a lot of money, it frees up a lot of your time for writing.

Simplicity has come naturally to me over the years. It's easy when you don't have much money. I live cheaply, move often, and don't focus on frippery. Please don't compare me to Thoreau. While he made some good points, Thoreau was kind of a poser.

No. Ever since I studied the Greek philosophers, I've done my best to follow in footsteps of Diogenes. The man who threw away his bowl after seeing a boy drinking out of his cupped hands. The man Plato called, "Socrates gone mad." Brilliant, bitter, barefoot Diogenes.

This means for most of my adult life I've only owned one pair of shoes, one coat, and one pair of pants. I've eaten a lot of ramen. (Chicken Maruchen ramen, given a choice.) Before selling the book, I never paid more than $250 a month for rent, or more than ten dollars for a piece of furniture.

No, wait, that isn't true. I paid 80 bucks for a desk back in 1998. It was one of those plywood assemble-it-yourself kits. Two years later I moved, and when I realized it couldn't be taken apart, I just ripped the top piece off and laid it across of two filing cabinets. That's what I still use for a desk. That's what I'm typing on it right now.

Do I have a point? No. Probably not. Except to say that life is strange. I have lived most of my adult life happily poor. (Though I have never been truly desperate or destitute by any means.) Now I have a bed. A real bed with a box spring and a frame and everything. I recently bought a dishwasher. I have a house -- or at least a mortgage in the shape of a house.

I've been up all night, writing and thinking. And before I lay down in my new bed in my new house and catch a refreshing day's sleep, I'm going to go out and buy a couple copies of the Sunday edition of the New York Times. This is another thing I've never done before. I wonder how heavy three copies will be? How much does the Times cost?

I'm buying a Sunday paper because there is a full page ad for The Name of the Wind in there today. A full-page color ad. And though I don't know the specific numbers, I expect this ad cost the publisher more money than I made in a year of teaching at the university. It is terribly flattering. It is a glamorous gesture of faith and support. It shows that they really believe in the book.

Today I have a full-color ad in the New York Times, and my life is strange. This is not a bad thing. After I post this up on my blog, I will take a shower, put on my only pair of pants and walk downtown to buy a Sunday paper for the first time. Spring is finally here in Wisconsin, and though the trees are still dark and leafless, the ground has thawed. It is almost fifty degrees out. More luxury. More than I deserve. I will celebrate by leaving my only pair of shoes at home and make my way barefoot, pretending for a while that I am still following Diogenes.


Take care everyone,

pat



*** Edit - 9:45 AM ***


First off, it turns out it isn't a color ad. That makes me feel better, actually.


Secondly, they really don't want to let you into the grocery store if you don't have any shoes on. Even if it's just so you can buy a paper. Even if it's just for a minute so you can buy a paper that has an ad for your book in it.

If it wasn't for the authority of my majestic beard, I don't think they would have let me through....



Thirdly:



(Click to Embiggen)

Whoot!

pat

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The Contest.

In the interest of being fair, I've decided to make the little contest I'm having on Facebook available to everyone.

This will also keep people from joining Facebook just to participate. I don't want to encourage that kind of behavior. Seriously. Facebook is like a deep well that you throw all of your available free time into. I wouldn't wish it on any of you...

So here's the deal.

You take a picture of your brand-new shiny paperback. Your picture reflects your deep, innermost feelings for the book. Maybe it's funny. Maybe it tells a story. Maybe it's full of blatant, tawdry sexiness in an attempt to appeal to my base desires.

At the end of the month, I will look at all the pictures, post the best of them in a blog, and give out fabulous prizes. Trust me. They'll be fabulous. I have some full-color promotional maps here that have never seen the light of day. Galley copies of the book. Some first edition copies of the UK edition. Maybe I'll even give out one of the old manuscript copies of the book I have laying around....

Anyway, here are the rules.

1. The picture doesn't need to include you, but it does need to include the paperback.

2. Photo manipulation is legal, but by no means required.

3. Multiple entries are allowed.

4. Pictures will be judged on their general coolness. Categories may include: "Most Awesome," "Most Funny." "Most Sexy" "Most Dramatic" and "Most Best."

4b. I reserve the right to add extra categories. That way, if your picture delights me, but it doesn't fit into any pre-determined category, I can still give you a prize.

4c. Since the international readers won't have access to the US paperback, I've created a new category to allow them to use their own native copies of the book: "Most Foreign." This will be the one category you don't have to use the paperback for.

For example:





You can post your photos up in the appropriate facebook group, or e-mail them to the following address: paperback.contest {swirly at sign} gmail.com.


If you send a picture to that e-mail address, make sure to include:

  • The photo(s). (duh.)
  • Your name.
  • How you want the photo to be credited, if it's different than your name.
  • Your mailing address. (Where to send your fabulous prize.)

Contest is over at the end of the month.

pat

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New York Times Bestseller List - Part Two.

As most of you could probably tell from my last post, I wasn't really too coherent after I got the news about making the bestseller list.

Now that I've collected my wits, I figured I'd clarify a few things. Some of which I only recently became aware of myself....

First you'll note that the date of the list I posted is from April 20th. This doesn't mean that I know someone with a TARDIS. They make the list available before publication so that industry folks get an early clue-in.

Second, I feel obliged to point out that the list I'm on is the "Paperback Best Sellers EXPANDED list." The regular NYT list only goes down to 20, and as you can see, I'm at #24.

What's the difference? Well, if you look in the Sunday edition of the New York Times, you'll find that they don't print the expanded list. Also, bookstores tend to only stock the regular list of books. Truth is, I'm not entirely sure if I technically qualify as a "New York Times Bestselling Author" or not.

While I admit I'm hoping to climb those last few places, simply making it onto the list at all is extraordinary. A lot of authors never make it, especially not with their first book.

And the reason I'm on there is you. You bought the book. You told your friends and family about it. You nominated me for awards. You voted for me online. You read it at the library and then posted good reviews on AMAZON or Barnes and Noble. You wrote about it in your blog. You bugged your school librarian to order it. You listed it on your facebook profile. You drew fanart. You visited the website and read the blog....

In short, you helped to spread the word. Thank you all so much.

Lastly, in related news, I started a contest over on FACEBOOK to celebrate the release of the paperback. I thought I'd already mentioned it on here, but looking back on my previous blogs, I see that I haven't. You've got until the end of the month if you're interested in participating...

Later all,

pat

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Thursday, April 10, 2008
The New York Times Best Seller list





(Click picture to embiggen.)






Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!


Sincerely yours,

pat

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Real Life - The Comic.
A few of you have e-mailed me, commenting on the ad you saw over at Real Life comics. I like it too, it was written and drawn by the author of the comic, Greg Dean. He's a hell of a nice guy, and a good storyteller to boot.

So feel free to wander over there and check out the ad. It's worth a chuckle. I'm especially fond of the tagline for some reason. I'm not sure why, exactly. It just strikes me as catchy....

And while you're at it, you might want to give the comic a read too. It's good stuff.

pat

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Thursday, April 3, 2008
"While I'm alone and blue as can be..."

I don't dream often. I've never had the "show up naked at work" dream. Or the "I didn't study for the test" dream. I've never had sex dreams, not even when I was teenage and sloshy with hormones.

My ha'penny theory is that I don't dream much because I don't have many inhibitions, so my brain doesn't need to let off much steam when it's on vacation. Another theory is that I don't have much separation between my conscious and my subconscious minds.

Either way, last night was the exception to the rule, because last night I had a dream.

I was in a classroom, similar to the room where I used to take physics in high school. The room was full, two people sitting at each of the large, black worktables, and there was someone teachery up at the front.

It wasn't high-school, or college, but it was definitely a class of some kind, and I was definitely one of the students.

The teacher never said anything, not through the whole dream. He/she was just a faceless presence at the front of the room. Everyone knew what was expected. We were going to be reading our stories aloud to the rest of the class.

I wasn't anxious. If anything, I was a little smug because I was going to read from The Name of the Wind. And, all Midwestern modesty aside, I think the book is pretty awesome. This was my chance to be cool in front of the other students.

I'm first. I don't go up to the front of the room, it's not that formal. I just and turn so I can face most of the class and pull out the hardcover. I'm excited with that slight sweaty-palm feeling I always get before a performance.

I start to read, but some of the words are hard to see because they're caught in the middle of the book where the pages come together in the binding. I lose my place once or twice, make a mistake, and start to sweat as people start to move around in their seats, bored and embarrassed on my behalf.

Then the lights start to get dim so I can't see the text on the page. But I know I can't stop reading. I only get this one chance. Either nobody else notices the lights dimming, or they consider it part of the reading. Either way I know that it's no excuse to stop. By now I can't see any of the words. I'm having to fake it and things are a real mess.

At this point, I have some sort of seizure. I literally fall down on the ground and foam at the mouth. From the strange semi-detached perspective of the dream, it's actually something of a relief, because now I don't have to keep doing my sucky reading.

I'm not clear whether it was a real seizure. It's not that I don't remember what happened in the dream. It's that the dream itself it was ambiguous. Was it real? Did I fake it so that I didn't have to keep reading? Was it real but I hammed it up so that people would feel sorry for me? I really didn't know.

The paramedics come and take care of me, and everyone admits that it wasn't really my fault that I had to stop reading. Understandably, I'm glad it's all over.

Then everyone starts writing out their evaluations and passing them to the front of the class. And somehow I can see what everyone is writing. Most people are giving me A's, but some people are giving me B's or C's. Then, I see the worst thing.... someone has given me.... a C-.

I'm laughing now as I write about it. That was the big reveal. My book got a C-. But you know how it is in dreams. At that moment, I was profoundly ensaddened and hurty inside. It was like every teenage angst of my life distilled down into one powerful, emblematic event.

And then I realize that I'm not wearing any pants.

Seriously. I'm not making any of this up. I don't know if I've been missing my pants this whole time, or if perhaps the paramedics have taken them off as part of some innovative attempt to revive me. All I know is that I'm still wearing my t-shirt, but I'm totally nude below the waist. It's not a very long t-shirt either, just barely halfway covering all of my dangerous man-stuff.

Worst of all, nobody has noticed, and I know that if I could just somehow get out of the room, I'd be safe. But I'm in the middle of the classroom and there doesn't seem to be any way to leave without drawing attention to myself....

And that's the end of the dream. I didn't wake up in a cold sweat or anything. I actually forgot about everything until I was in the shower.

So... yeah. Welcome to the inside of my head.

Personally, I think the whole thing was brought about by the fact that yesterday, despite my better judgement, I read the pair of two-star reviews that showed up recently on amazon. I know that I should be over that sort of thing by now, but... well... apparently I'm not.

Plus, all I had for dinner yesterday was a bunch of bowling-alley nachos and a huge chocolate chip cookie. I will admit to actually dipping the cookie in the cheese at one point. I'm guessing that's what caused it. That sort of behavior is bound to anger the gods.

Later folks,

pat

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Concerning the Hugos

Since the Hugo nominations for this year were announced, I've received a surprising amount of mail on the subject. So far it has ranged from friendly consolation to frothy outrage over the fact that I'm not one of the contenders for the "best novel" category.

I won't lie. I was hoping for a nomination. It would have been extremely cool. What's more, it would have given me an excuse to wear a tuxedo at Worldcon. I like wearing a tux.

Alas, it was not meant to be. But I did want to thank everyone for their kind words, the messages y'all have sent have been very sweet, and they have eased the sting.

But what I realized just today is that each of these e-mails I've received shows people at different stages of the grieving process. Take a look. (All items in quotes are from actual letters or comments left on the blog.)

1. Denial. "I can't believe you weren't nominated."

I can. The truth is, I'm really, really new to the scene. I've been a published author for almost exactly one year. And while it's been a great year, most people don't even know I exist. That makes it hard to win an award that's based on a popular vote.


2. Anger. "That's bullshit that you're not on there...seriously." "Dude, you were totally fucking robbed on the Hugo nods." "I feel like punching someone in the neck about this!"

There were a lot of these. However, please do not punch anyone in the neck on my behalf. Remember: Anger, fear, aggression... the dark side of the Hugos are they.


3. Bargaining. "Is there a write-in option for the Hugos? I would have voted, but I was sur [sic] that you were a shoe in."

Thank you, but there's nothing to be done at this point. The nominations themselves are exclusively write-in, but voting for the the award itself is not. Even then, only people who are attending Worldcon get to vote in the Hugos.


4. Depression. "The more I learn how these things work, the more I realize I have no respect for awards that are given out by popular vote."

Well, you know what they say about Democracy. It's the worst form of government except for every other one that's been tried....


5. Acceptance. "Let's hope that The Wise Man's Fear will be of the same quality and that it'll receive the nomination TNOTW clearly deserved."

I hope so too.


For those of you who are still stuck in the anger or bargaining stages, you could burn off a little of that energy in a productive way if you want. Namely, by casting your ballot in the Locus awards over here.

The Locus awards are a little different in that anyone can vote, not just a specific group of people, like the Nebulas or the Hugos. Plus they've been around for over thirty years, and are fairly prestigious in their own right.

Just make sure you follow the directions on the page before you cast your ballot. Anyone can vote, but anonymous votes are tossed out. And while there are pull-down menus, you can also write in your own votes in each category.

My book is eligible for both the "Best Fantasy Novel" AND "Best First Novel." Just in case you're interested.

Later all,

pat


Edit 9:45 PM: I've noticed a pleasant, but slightly unnerving trend in the comments on this note. While I'm flattered that people would vote for my book, I really hope that people aren't just hopping over the Locus Ballot just to vote for me.

I tend to assume that the vast majority of the people that read this blog tend to enjoy a lot of fantasy and sci-fi. So what I'm really hoping is that you hop over to the Locus Ballot and vote for ALL your favorite books and stories of the last year. All of them. And if it turns out you like five other books better than mine... well... then tough shit for The Name of the Wind.

I know this probably goes without saying, and that most of you understood what I meant the first time around. But I'd rather make sure of it than come off as a dirty vote-grubbing whore.

pat

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