Tuesday, September 30, 2008
IAQ - Kvothe's Alignment.

I get a lot of fanmail, which means I get a lot of questions.

The questions that get asked a lot, I put into the FAQ, for obvious reasons.

But there are other questions too. It's occurred to me that some of these questions, while infrequent, might still intrigue or amuse folks.

So here's the first of these. Not part of the FAQ. More like the begining of an IAQ, if you will....

Pat,

With the shape of an "L" on my forehead, here's my question: What would you say is Kvothe's alignment (i.e. ad&d terms)

[Name withheld for reasons of not wanting the person to die of geeky shame]


Oh yeah. Total Geek question.

Here's my total geek answer: I didn't even have to think about it. Chaotic good.

Though honestly, now that I pause for consideration, it's possible he's neutral good. He doesn't work actively against the system, he just doesn't feel constrained by it.

Now, of course, you've got me thinking about everyones' alignment.

Some are easy, like Master Lorren: Lawful Good.

Some are hard, like Elodin. Chaotic neutral? True neutral? He's just too complicated to put in a box like that. Plus there's a lot of him you haven't seen yet. I honestly don't know where I'd put him overall.

The more I think about it, the fact that I can't fit most of the characters into little AD&D boxes makes me feel good. It shows that they're more complex than that. I hope that complexity isn't just inside my head. I'd like to think that y'all get to experience it too....


Pop quiz:

What is Pat's alignment?

Where does Bast fall on the Kinsey Scale?

What is Denna's Myers-Briggs Personality Type?

Would Elodin pass a Thematic Apperception Test?

How many questions does it take to clear Lorren on the Voight-Kampff?

Extra Credit:

If Auri were a tree, what kind of tree would she be?


Geekily yours,

pat

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Saturday, September 27, 2008
Available for a limited time only....
Did I forget to mention that I'm going to be up in Canada next weekend?

In case I did, I am. I'm going to be up in Vancouver. (The one in BC, not the one in Washington.)

The reason for this particular outing is V-Con. While I've done a lot of conventions lately, this one marks two notable firsts in my life....

The first first is that I'm not just attending this convention, I'm actually one of the Guests of Honor. It's a pretty sweet gig so far. Not only are they paying my travel expenses, but I'm pretty sure that while I'm out there, someone is contractually obliged to fan me with a big leaf and feed me grapes.

The second first is a little embarrassing, actually. This will be the first time I've ever left the country. I feel like such an adult, I've got a passport and everything....

Anyway, I just thought I'd let y'all know that I was going to be out there. Part of the GOH gig is that I got to be very heavily involved with the programming, so I'm going to be doing readings, signings, and a metric ton of panels. So if you've ever wanted to hear me pontificate on all manner of diverse subjects, this is going to be a great opportunity.

Also, since I'm don't know when I'm going to be up in that neck of the woods again, I'm going to do a reading/signing/Q&A session at one of the local bookstores. It's on Tuesday the 7th (of October) at 7:00 at the Chapters out in Coquitlam. Because that signing got set up fairly recently, I've only made mention of it on Facebook so far. (Yeah, I'm on Facebook, feel free to add me if you're into that sort of thing.)

Generally speaking, if you're looking for information on my upcoming appearances, you can get the details over here on the "Tour Schedule" section of my webpage. I try to keep that as up to date as possible....

That's all for now folks. Enjoy your weekend.

pat

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008
A New Edition to the Family


It goes without saying that becoming a published author has changed my life.

If someone were to ask how, specifically, I'd probably mention one of the big things. How surreal it is when people recognise me in public. Or when I show up to a reading or a signing and there are dozens of people there. I could mention how I travel a lot more now, or the fact that I can spend up to 5-6 hours a day just keeping up with my e-mail correspondence.

But truthfully, one of the thousand small changes has been how I feel about getting the daily mail.

Up until about a two years ago, when all this publication stuff started, my mail was pretty normal. Most of it was junk: fliers, credit card applications, cupons. The stuff that wasn't junk was usually unpleasant, like bills or notifications about my student loans.

Yeah sure. On some rare occasion something nice would show up. A card from mom with some cash in it, mail order something-or-other, a letter from a friend. But those were few and far between.

But now I love to get the mail. Every day is like a potential Christmas. I get all sorts of cool things. I get foreign contracts that I read and sign and mail back. I get free copies of books sent to me with the hope that I'll read them, love them, and blurb them.

And I get checks in the mail. I won't lie to you, that's really cool. A lot of my life I've been pretty poor. Not *really* poor, of course. But student poor. I spent 11 years as a college student, and there were a lot of times when I was broke, the next paycheck was three days away, and the credit card was full. I'm sure a lot of you have had similar times in your life.

I remember getting sick once, and not having enough money to buy aspirin or orange juice. Another time, I remember digging through my cupboards, examining the cans of weird food. The food that you have left because you hate it. I remember thinking, "How old is this can of vegetable barley soup? Will it kill me?" Once I got behind on my rent and my landlord burst into my little one-room apartment, waking me from a dead sleep and threatening to throw me out onto the street.

Fast forward to now. Sometimes I pick up my mail and there's a check in there. A check for money. A check for money that I didn't even know would be showing up. Best of all, it's money that I don't immediately need for something, like paying my overdue phone bill, or buying groceries, or settling a debt with a friend who lent me a little bit to get by.

But perhaps even cooler is when things like this show up without my expecting it:


(Click to Embiggen)

I didn't know the Danish version of the book was close to being finished. I'd never even seen the cover until I opened the envelope a couple days ago and found this inside.


I think this is translation number... six? Let me think, so far I've had editions in the UK, the Netherlands, Italy, Japan... Number five then. Six will probably be the German version that's coming out later this month. I'm excited to see that one too.

Later all,

pat

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Saturday, September 20, 2008
New Podcast - Writing Excuses.

When I was out at worldcon this year, I got to meet up with Brandon Sanderson.

This was pretty cool for me, because I've really enjoyed his books so far. Most notably the Mistborn series. Though Elantris was really good as well.

I've recommended his books on the blog before, so I won't go all gushy again. But I have to say, his stuff is really good. Irritatingly good. Plus he writes really fast, which is nice as a reader because he has more books out. But irritating as a writer, because it makes people like me look bad.

Anyway, he does a writing podcast with a few co-conspirators, and they asked me if I wanted to be their guest for an episode and talk about exposition and stuff.

So I did.

Here's the link, if you're interested.

pat


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Thursday, September 18, 2008
Tales from the Con: Reading in Indianapolis

So when I was attending GenCon out in Indianapolis last month, I had several adventures.

For one, I got to eat at a Stake and Shake, which was pretty cool. This may not seem like a big deal for most of you, but... well... I don't get out much.

I also did a reading at the local library.

I love doing readings. But this one was especially fun, as I got to hang out with the folks from "...and Sewing is Half the Battle." They're the ones that won the photo contest from a couple months ago.

They all came dressed in their costumes and did an intro to my reading, talking about what cosplay is, why folks do it, and how to dabble if you're interested.

I have to say that it was pretty cool showing up for my own reading and having a bunch of the characters from the book in attendance.

As a whole, I was too bemused to take a lot of pictures. But I got a huge kick out of this:





I don't remember writing a hippie into the book. But then again, I don't remember NOT writing a hippie into the book. Trapis, nice guy that he is, seems to be reserving judgement.





Haliax, as you might have guessed, is a big hit with the ladies. Why do they always go for the dark types?




Here's one I snapped of Haliax when he didn't think anyone was paying attention. Apparently when there aren't any chicks around he summons some sort of glowing orb, practicing to destroy his enemies. I can't say I'm surprised.

Ladies, let this be a lesson to you. Sure, cowls are sexy. Everyone loves a bad boy. But when you're dating evil, it's only a matter of time before you get the glowing orb.




Here's everyone. From top left to bottom right you have: Elodin, young girl (see below) Haliax, Bast and Urchin, Ambrose, glowing death orb, Hippie, Trapis, Denna, Kvothe and Fela.


I won't bore you with the whole story of the reading, but here are the high points.

  • A 10 year old girl made fun of my handwriting.
She looked down at the book I was writing in. "Authors are supposed to use cursive," she informed me.

"Not me," I said cheerfully, scribbing away.

"Is that your name?" she asked.

"Yup."

She kept watching in disapproval, then said. "Authors are also supposed to have better handwriting than a third grader."

"You're fat," I said.

I didn't really. She was adorable. Plus, I was on an adulation buzz by that point and nothing could bring me down. I long ago came to grips with the fact that my handwriting looks like a psychotic grade schooler's ransom note. She wasn't telling me anything I didn't already know.

  • At some point during the Q & A period, I used a terrible phrase.
I used to do improv comedy. This is a good thing. I know how to work a crowd and think on my feet. Public speaking doesn't freak me out. I'm relaxed. I make jokes. It's a good time.

The down side is that I'm not exactly working off a script. And that means sometimes I'll say awful things.

I'm not talking about cussing. I cuss all the time. It's not a big deal.

All humor is rooted in transgression. That means that most things that are genuinely funny also have the potential for being really offensive, or weird, or creepy.

I can't remember the exact context for this phrase, but I was answering a question. I think I was making fun of the fact that since I hit the NYT bestseller list, everyone seems to think I'm all rockstar famous.

As I said, I can't remember the exact context. But I do remember the phrase I used.

It was: "Come Ride the Rothfuss Train!"

Yeah. I even pronounced it with the exclamation point, which is something I very rarely do. It was one of those things that seems brilliant before you say it, but goes horrible as soon as it leaves your mouth.

There was a half-second of quiet, then I said. "I'm never going to say that ever again."

THAT got a laugh. A big laugh.

So later, when I was signing books, everyone wanted me to write something about the Rothfuss train. So the story has a happy ending.

  • I got to hang out with the "Sewing is Half the Battle" crew.
After the reading, we all hung out, and I treated them to dinner as part of their prize for their epic win the in the photo contest.





Eventually the restaurant closed, so we went to... you guessed it. Steak and Shake. My second trip in as many days. It was there that a talented artist who will remain nameless drew this on a placemat for me.





Yeah. It's the Rothfuss Train. Hop on. Ride it. You know you want to....


Later all,

pat

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008
What should I do #10: Jonathan Coulton

I just got an e-mail asking the now-familiar question: "What am I supposed to do while I'm waiting for your second book to come out?!?"

So let me throw out a new answer: Check out Jonathan Coulton.

I'm guessing many of you already know about Coulton. He strides the world like a colossus. He mocks. He's funny. He has a pretty good beard....

Mostly though, Coulton does music. Smart, funny, wonderful music.

It's possible that you might know Coulton's work even if you don't know his name. If you've finished Portal, for example, you've heard his stuff. "Still Alive" the song that plays during the end credits is his.

And if you went to PAX this year, you got to see him onstage. Not that I'm bitter that I missed it because I was at Dragoncon that weekend. Not that I'm bitter that I missed the chance to hang out with Felicia Day of Dr. Horrible fame at PAX too. Not that I'm bitter that apparently Felicia got up and sang on stage with Coulton at the concert....

Yeah. Okay. I'm a little bitter.

For those of you out of the loop, a couple years back Jonathan Coulton started something he called thing a week. As the name suggests, he wrote a new song each week and released it for free on the internet.

As you might guess, some of the songs were a little forced. But what's far more important is how often he struck gold. A lot of his songs are pure, distilled brilliance.

How good are they? Well.... imagine if someone unspeakably hot person came to your house. Imagine whoever you like: Brad Pitt. Alyson Hannigan, Bea Arthur. Whatever turns your crank.

So. This person shows up at your house and gives you a really good backrub. Then they make you an ice cream sundae. Your favorite kind. Then, and this is the key part, they sex you up while you're eating the sundae....

Okay. Honestly, his songs aren't quite as awesome as that. But they're maybe.... seventy percent that awesome. Which you have to admit, is pretty amazing.

But you don't have to take my word for it. Here's a few Youtube samples from an acoustic show he did in LA a couple years back.

Here's one of his more popular ones called Code Monkey:





And another called: I Feel Fantastic.





One more, possibly my favorite song of his: I Crush Everything.





Enjoy,

pat

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Saturday, September 13, 2008
Podcast - Liquid Wierd

I'm planning a blog about the wierd world of fanfic, but it's taking a while.

So to tide you over, here's a podcast that I did while I was off at Dragoncon.


Later,

pat

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008
The End is Nigh

So last night I was singing in the shower, and I had a wonderful idea.

Yeah. Feel free to take a moment. The image that was just branded into your occipital lobe will fade with time. Take a deep breath. There you go. And another. Better? Just avoid thinking about it for a while and it will go away. Whatever you do, don't add that fuzzy pink cat-ear hat to the picture, or you'll never....

You just did it, didn't you? Man, I'm sorry.

Heh heh heh.

Awwww.... Now I feel really guilty. What if the Hadron Collider blows up the world later today and the last thought on someone's mind is my naked, soapy body wearing in a Kawaii-pink catgirl hat? If that happens, I'm definitely going to pay for it in the afterlife.

Anyway, as I was saying, yesterday I had an idea.

It doesn't really matter where I was when I had the idea. Don't think about it.

As is the case with most of my ideas, it was about writing, and it was awesome.

Over the next couple hours, the idea rolled around in my head. Finally I decided I'd be better off just writing it, and getting it out, than to try and fight it. This is the writer's equivalent of giving your child the candy they're begging for, just so they'll shut up and leave you alone.

So I wrote this thing. This story. It was fun. I was excited. It had some terribly clever bits. It had humor. It had a good ending.

Most interesting was the fact that this story is much shorter than what I usually write. In fact, I managed to finish it in just a couple hours.

It was only after the story was finished that I realized what I had done. It honestly, HONESTLY never occurred to me while I was thinking about it or writing it down. In fact, it didn't occur to me until I woke up this morning.

I had written fanfic.

I really don't know what this means. I don't know if this is a sign of the endtimes, or merely the first step in what will quickly become the downward spiral of my life.

Either way, I felt that y'all had the right to know.

pat

P.S. It's really good. Seriously.

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Monday, September 8, 2008
What happens at DragonCon....


Okay, a lot of you asked about the picture I posted up about a week ago:





True, the vast majority of the questions were variations on the theme of "what the hell?" But I still figure it could do with a little explanation.

While cruising around DragonCon, I tried to find a good present for Sarah, my girlfriend. I picked up the catgirl hat for her because I figured she would get a kick out of it.

About half an hour later I wander by a bookseller, and who do I see sitting at the autographing table but John Scalzi and Tobias Bucknell. Both authors, bloggers, and acquaintances of mine, it's safe to say that the sheer awesome manliness radiating out from the two of them combined was overwhelming.

Perhaps I exaggerate slightly. I can't honestly say it was overwhelming. Truth be told, it was just whelming. I was whelmed.

Anyway, I started to wander over to chat with them, then realized a golden opportunity lay in front of me....

Needless to say, they were horrified and amused. Scalzi actually borrowed my camera and took this picture of me, while Toby snapped his own.

That picture Toby posted up on his own website, offering a prize to the person who posted the funniest caption. There were over 80 of them there last time I looked, and I have to say, it's been a long time since I laughed that hard.

You should go check it out.


Later all,

pat


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Sunday, September 7, 2008
Terminal
I've done so much flying in this last month that all the airport terminals have blurred together in my memory.

So while I can't remember exactly where this happened, I know it was down by the baggage claim, relaxing and participating in my second favorite sport: watching people.

It was a slightly out-of-the-way corner of the terminal with a light scattering of folks who were waiting for their luggage too. Standing off to the side was a young mom with a couple little kids in tow.

She was obviously tired, and was doing her best to keep an eye on her kids while at the same time making sure that her luggage wasn't molested by terrorists, gypsies, communists, or whatever flavor of bad guy homeland security is trying to frighten us with this week.

The kids were having a great time. The little girl was just wandering, staying close to mom and looking at stuff. But the little boy had invented a game. He would build up to a run, then flop down and slide across the smooth floor on his belly.

It was obviously a lot of fun, and adding to his enjoyment was the fact that his mom didn't want him to do it. She stopped him once, but then he got out of arm's reach and she couldn't catch him without leaving her daughter and the luggage behind.

I should make it clear that the baggage claim area was far from bustling. It was quiet, and the kid wasn't getting in anyone's way. Neither was he wandering very far afield. He stayed in mom's line of vision. He wasn't being naughty, he was just being a kid.

Mom wasn't being needlessly strident about it, either. She didn't get all huffy or shriek qt him. And while she wasn't happy that he wasn't listening, she didn't view this as a major challenge to her authority. She was just trying to do her job, which is to say she wanted to keep him from hurting himself, being a nuisance, and getting his clothes dirty.

She tried to corral him as best she could, but he ignored and avoided her, run-flopping all over the place. I was tempted to try it myself. It looked like a good time. However, the square-cube ratio is and harsh on adults, and I worried that if I flopped onto the ground, I would rupture something vital in my guts. Plus I expect airport security would have tazered me for being a deviant.

So, because I was living vicariously through his exploits, I was watching him when flopped harder than he meant to. It wasn't a bad fall, but he bumped his head a little and lay there for half a second, hurt, angry, and confused. Then started to cry, picked himself up, and ran over to his mom.

Now this is the fulcrum of the story. The point at which it could pivot one way or another. The young mom could have cussed him out. But she didn't. She didn't shout or say, "I told you so," or try to turn it into some sort of moral lesson. She picked him up, hugged him, and nuzzled her face against his head to made him feel better. And it worked.

That's what moms are for. They give us good advice and we ignore it, running around like tiny Visigoths. Then we fuck up, hurt ourselves, and come running back so that they can make everything okay again.

It was a sweet thing to see. And honestly, it broke my heart.

Some of you know that my mom died not too long ago. I don't talk about it very much, but the fact is, I think about her all the time.

Whenever I think too hard about it, I become uncertain about what I should or shouldn't post here on the blog. Generally speaking, when I think something might be of interest to my readers (like an interview, or an appearance at a convention) I post it up. The same is true when I think of a funny story or a good piece of advice.

Part of the reason I haven't written much about my mom is because I worry it will come across as maudlin, and I assume that people come to the blog to be entertained, not depressed.

On the other hand, if this blog is supposed to be a little window into my life, not writing about her at all feels dishonest. If the things I write here are supposed to reflect my real thoughts and emotions, how can I not mention her?

I get the feeling that I'm going to spend the rest of my life thinking of questions that only she could answer. Like how she kept the rabbits from destroying her garden even though she didn't use a fence. The truth is, when she died it was like someone burned down a library, cut off one of my legs, and took away half of my laughing. Some days are okay. But other days I don't know if I'll ever be smart, or steady, or happy in the same way again.

But the thing I really miss is that she loved me like nobody else ever could. I grew up my whole life surrounded by that constant, unobtrusive, unquestioning affection. It has a lot to do with the sort of person I am today. That doesn't mean she didn't call me on my bullshit, or make fun of me, or point out when I was being a dick. But the love was always there, indifferent to my Visigoth behavior. Unconditional.

When you grow up surrounded by something like that, you don't notice it consciously. It's like the humidity in the air. You don't even notice when it's gone, either, except that something is different. Something isn't right. Then you start realizing that you're thirsty all the time, and you can't figure out why you're constantly tired, or getting nosebleeds.

Then, eventually, you realize the problem is that the air too dry. Only then can you take some steps to try and get some moisture back into your life. Only then can you start trying to make adjustments so things can feel, at least a little bit, like they used to.

I think that's the point I've finally reached. I've discovered that my life is drier than I'd like, and I'm trying to figure out what I can do about it.

So I think I'm going to start mentioning my mom on here from time to time. Not a lot, probably, but some. It's a shame you can't meet her, but I suppose the next best thing is you getting to know her through some stories.

I've turned the comments off for today, because I'm not looking for sympathy or consolation. Similarly, if you know me, don't feel obliged to send me an e-mail, trying to cheer me up and gently dancing around the question of how I'm doing. How am I? I'm fine. Sad? Yes. Melancholy? Sure. But also fine.

I mean it. Few things are as irritating to me as someone trying to cheer me up when I'm in a perfectly good bad mood.

Stay tuned for next week, when I'll continue spilling out the convention stories that I've built up over the last month. Hint: catgirls will be featured prominently.


Fondly,

pat

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008
How to be Cool - A Primer.

As I've mentioned before, due to angering some fickle deity, I only had one scheduled event at DragonCon: a reading.

When I showed up to the con, the programming staff were nice enough to schedule me a signing too. Then, using my not inconsiderable charm, I sweet-talked my way onto a couple of the writing track panels.

The panels went pretty well. Since they were already on the schedule, they had good audiences. I gave a few good pieces of advice, got a few laughs, and avoided - for the most part - making an ass of myself. If I can do all three of those things, it's a good panel.

My signing was another matter entirely. Since it wasn't on the schedule, nobody knew about it. You could hear crickets. Two people showed up, and I was surprised to have that many.

Rest assured that my ego did not suffer any permanent trauma due to low attendance. Why is that? Well... mostly because of the signings I used to do back when my first story appeared in an anthology....

They were brutal. Most signings are when you're a new writer. Typically you spend two hours sitting at a card table in front of a Waldenbooks at the local mall. Then everyone ignores you. Pointedly ignores you. Ignores you as if they fear making eye contact will give them herpes.

Those early signings, while grueling, did a great job of setting my expectations low. These days, if I have a signing and two or three people talk to me, I consider it a win. Everything beyond that is gravy.

The other reason my ego wasn't bruised by the low turn-out is that earlier this month at Worldcon, when my signing *was* on the schedule, I got a turnout that surprised so much that I took a picture of the line:





By comparison, my DragonCon signing is pretty relaxing. I talk to the two people who stop by, drink my coffee, and read the program book making plans to stalk Nathan Fillion, Morena Baccarin, and Jewel Staite.

Then I pack up and head over to my reading. My expectations understandably low.

Imagine my surprise when I see that the room is pretty much full. It's surprising to me that all these people, in the middle of all the glamour and weird of DragonCon, have chosen to show up and listen to me read. What's more, they all started to applaud when I came in the door.

It was a good feeling. I felt cool. Really cool. I was a hoopy frood. I was about .8 of a Gaiman on the cool-o-meter, which is pretty cool.

I briefly excused myself to use the bathroom - as I said, it was exciting - then did my reading. They laughed at my jokes, asked good questions, and didn't hassle me too much about book two. In brief, it was a great crowd.

When my hour was up, so many people wanted me to sign that, after a half hour, I needed to move the remainder into the hallway because the next reading was scheduled to begin. Then I signed in the hallway for another half hour.

Needless to say, I was feeling pretty good about myself.

Then I realized that my zipper was down. Which means that it had been down since I used the bathroom right before the reading.

Thank you, oh universe, for reminding me of the truth. While I may be all that and a bag of chips, I'm usually all that and a bag of chips who doesn't know his zipper is open.

I learned my lesson though. Later that night, in order to prevent any further zipper-related embarrassment, I changed into my kilt before I went out to dinner with some of the folks who had participated in the photo contest a couple months back:





And a good time was had by all....

pat

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008
DragonCon in a Nutshell.

How was DragonCon, you ask?

In summary:





Yeah. That's pretty much it.

Stories forthcoming,

pat

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