Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Home again, home again....

... jiggedy jig.

After about two solid weeks on the road, I'm back at home.

I really didn't plan on doing so many signings on this trip. But I seem to have a knack for starting things that I think will be small and having them spiral rapidly out of control.

Still, now I know I can do a reading/signing a day and not burn out. It was actually a lot of fun. In fact, if I hadn't been driving about six hours a day on top of that, it would have been downright relaxing.

The upshot is that it's much more likely I'll try to do a bit of a tour when book two comes out...

All the signings went remarkably well, by which I mean nobody threw anything at me or left the room crying halfway through. We got about a hundred people at each store, (sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less) which really surprised me, as we kinda threw this whole thing together at the last minute. I'm still more than a little baffled by the fact that some people are willing to drive 2-3 hours to come see me read and get their book signed.

What were the signings like? About what you'd expect:



(Click to Embiggen)

More details in a day or so. Right now I'm still catching up on my sleep and wading through the last of my accumulated e-mail...

pat

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Friday, March 19, 2010
Thunderdome part II - Kvothe Vs. Aslan
So Kvothe is going up against Aslan right now in round two of the fantasy cage match on Suvudu. What's surprising is that right now the votes are pretty much dead even. Half for Kvothe, half for the big cat himself.

I didn't write up a little blurb for the last fight. But I've been driving a lot over these last couple days as I go from reading to reading. So I've had plenty of time to think about how the fight between Kvothe and Aslan would go.

So I wrote it up this morning and sent it off to Suvudu. If you wander over there, they should have it posted up pretty soon. I'm actually kinda proud of that little scene.

And for those of you wondering who did the cool picture of Kvothe they're using over there on the site: it's Kim Kinkaid over at Twirling Dragon. It's one of my favorite pictures of Kvothe so far.

When Sarah saw it, she said. "Oh. He's beautiful. No wonder Fela bought him a cloak...."

That's all for now folks. I've got to get back on the road. See some of you tonight at Prince Books.

pat

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Monday, March 15, 2010
On the Road

Dear Pat,

I won't be able to make any of your readings over the next two weeks, but I was wondering. How do you get ready for something like that? I've done a little public speaking in the past, and it terrifies me. I can't help but think that it must be a million times worse if you're reading your own stuff to a huge roomful of people.

So that's my question. What does an author do to get ready for a public reading?

Best of luck on your trip.

Dan

The truth is Dan, I've wondered the same thing myself.

I mean, I know how *I* get ready for a reading. But I wonder what other authors go through when they're getting ready.

A lot of authors I've talked to admit to having public speaking jitters. Some of them downright hate it. But that's not a problem for me. Public speaking is old hat. I've done commencement addresses, sermons, lectures, and more panels than you can shake a stick at.

Plus I used to do improv comedy. And let me tell you, after you've done improv comedy, no other type of public speaking will ever scare you. It's like a trial by fire.

In general, I imagine other authors think about regular things before a signing tour. They worry about who's going to show up, or what they're going to read. Maybe they dither over what sort of shirt they're going to wear.

Me, I worry about my hair.

At least that's what I've been doing for the last several days. I'm about to leave on a little signing tour, 8 readings in 9 days. I'm looking forward to it, and I'm looking forward to seeing who shows up.

The problem is, I haven't had a haircut in about 8 months. It's something that never occurs to me until I have to make a public appearance. Normally every 3-4 months I'm forced to brush up against the edges of civilization. I go to a convention, or a wedding, or something, and so I get a haircut to clean myself up for that.

But lately I've been so busy with revisions and the new baby that I haven't done any of those things. And that means almost a whole year without a haircut. That means that I look like a cross between a hobo, John the Baptist come out of the desert, and a particularly shaggy Muppet. I look, in fact, like one of those green men statues. Except not green.

Normally I'm fine with this. But when I make public appearances I feel bad showing up looking all wodwo. I feel like if people show up to see me, I should try to groom myself down to the point where I won't frighten small children.

But here's the problem. This week when I tried to make an appointment for a haircut with the only person I trust to cut my hair and beard... but she couldn't fit me in to her schedule. And I can't trust some random barber. Last time I did that the fucker sheared me like a fucking sheep.

So now, the day before I drive off to do my signings, I'm faced with an awful choice. Show up looking like the crazy guy at the bus station, or risk a haircut that would make a prison barber wince. I still haven't decided...

The other thing that I think about before I go on a trip like this is what I'm going to listen to in the car. I've become a sucker for audiobooks lately, and this trip is going to put me behind the wheel for almost 40 hours.

So I've got a return question for some of you out there. Do you have any good audiobooks to recommend? I've already listened to everything by David Sedaris, Neil Gaiman, and Garrison Keillor.

Here. I'll start things out with a recommendation or two of my own.


The BBC dramatization of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.




These BBC audio productions of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy are really great. What's even better is that they contain different materials than the original books. That means even if you know your the source material inside and out, you can still be pleasantly surprised.

The later ones weren't done my Adams himself. But I have to say (and this is something that you will probably never *ever* hear me say again) I liked the ending of the final audiobook better than I like the ending of Adam's original novel.

I know. Blasphemy.

Anyway. Trust me. These are brilliant. Share and enjoy.


Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde.



I listened to this just recently, and I was absolutely blown away by it.

That said, I don't know how I'd describe the entirety of it to someone.

It's funny without being goofy. It's clever without being pretentious. It's original without being desperate. And it has an element of what I consider the divine ridiculousness: a delightful, subtle, strangeness that is funny while still touching on some underlying truth.

I feel like I should say more about it, but I can't think of what else to say. Except, perhaps, that it's probably the best book I've read in a year or so. And Sarah really liked it too, if that sways you at all...

So what about you guys? Do y'all have any good audiobooks that you can recommend? I'm going to need a few more before I'm done with this trip....

P.S. I'm asking for audiobooks, mind you. Don't recommend a book that you liked and you're thinking *would* make a good audiobook. The narrator makes a huge difference in these things, so don't tell me it's good if you haven't listened to it yourself.

pat

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Thursday, March 11, 2010
Thunderdome!

...or something. Is that too obscure a reference these days? Should I have gone with the cliche but easily recognizable "there can be only one?"

What I'm talking about is the battle royal going on over at Suvudu. They've taken a bunch of our favorite fictional characters and paired them up in head to head fights. They've chosen a pleasantly bizarre and diverse group of fighters: Gandalf, Cuthulu, and Hermione are all in there duking it out.

Flatteringly enough, Kvothe is in there too, paired up against Garret Jax.

It's a fun concept, and you get to vote on who you think should win. But what makes it truly entertaining is the brief descriptions that they give each of the characters, complete with strengths, weaknesses, and special attacks. Better still are the staff's narrative descriptions of how they think the fight would turn out.

I'll admit that I'm surprised how pleased I am at how how some of the voting is going. For example, Ged from the Wizard of Earthsea is currently kicking the stuffing out of Edward from Twilight.

Anyway. Feel free to wander over and take a look for yourself. It's a good time.

pat

[Edit: For those of you asking in the comments. I didn't send in a little blurb when I heard about the contest for two reasons. 1) Because I was really busy. And 2) I heard that Terry Brooks was too busy to send stuff in too. It didn't seem particularly fair for me to step in and stump for Kvothe when Brooks wasn't going to be able to do the same.

That said, Lewis isn't around anymore. And I've got a little time on my hands. So if Kvothe makes it to the match-up with Aslan, I might send a little blurb their way.]

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Saturday, March 6, 2010
Coming Soon to a Town Near You! (Offer Not Valid in Towns Not Near You)

As many of you know, a couple of days ago I decided to take a bit of a road trip down to Virginia. And, because I am an accommodating Midwesterner, I thought I might do a reading or two on my way down. So some folks could get their books signed, if they wanted.

When I posted up last week's blog looking for venues, I was hoping to maybe hear from 2 or 3 bookstores or libraries willing to help me throw a couple signings together. Maybe.

I didn't expect to get 30-40 offers. While it was terribly flattering, sorting everything out has been a bit of a logistical puzzle.

But I think I've finally got it all sussed. Here's the current list of times and places where I'll be stopping by to do readings and signings.

[Edit: All signings now confirmed.]


March 16th
7:00pm

Reading and Signing
Borders
348 East State Street
West Lafayette, IN 47906
Phone: 765-743-7775
Website


March 17th
2:00-3:00pm

Signing (No time for a reading here, I'm afraid.)
Josephbeth Book Store
692 Madison Road
Cincinnati OH 45208
Phone: 513-396-8960
Website


March 17th
7:00pm -

Reading and Signing
Josephbeth Book Store
161 Lexington Green Circle
Lexington, KY 40503-3323
Phone: 859-273-2911
Website


March 19
th 6:30pm -

Reading and Signing
Prince Books
109 East Main Street
Norfolk, VA 23510-1691
Phone: 757-622-9223
Website


March 20th
2:00-4:00

Reading and Signing
Books A Million
3312 Princess Anne Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23456

(757) 368-3167


March 22nd 7:00pm -

Reading and Signing
Borders
6701 Frontier Drive
Springfield, VA 22150
Phone: 703-924-4894
Website


March 23rd
7:00pm -

Reading and Signing
Barnes and Noble
5500 Buckeystown Pike (Fixed. Sorry.)
Frederick, MD 21704
Phone: 301-698-0121
Website


March 24th
7:00pm -

Reading and Signing
Joesephbeth Bookseller
24519 Cedar Road
Lyndhurst, OH 44124
Phone: 216-691-7000
Website

As you can see, there's not a lot of time in between those stops. So I probably won't be adding any more stops. I'll hit somewhere in Chicago in maybe a month or two, as that's relatively close to home and I can just drive down there any old time I feel like it.

I've had several people ask, "What exactly do you do at one of these readings?"

So here's the deal.

First, I drink a strong cup of coffee. Something like a white chocolate mocha with two shots of blackberry and four sugars. This is the source of my power. After one or two of these, I look like something out of Kulba Kahn and can lift up a truck.

Second, I hang out a bit and chat with the people that show up early.

Third (Readings only) I spend about an hour reading stuff and answering questions. What I read really depends on what people are in the mood for. Sometimes I read a few humor columns. Sometimes I read a little poetry. Sometimes I read a bit of one of my books.

In between readings I answer questions about pretty much anything. Sometimes I tell stories. Sometimes I give advice. There are occasional descents into madness.

Fourth, I sign books. Generally speaking, I'll write whatever you want in a book: a quote from Bast, a profession of my undying love, a letter of recommendation to grad school.

But it's best if you give me some direction. If you say to me, "Just write whatever..." there is a very real possibility that I will simply write "Whatever" in your book.

I will also try my very best to spell your name correctly. Though sometimes I fuck up.


Caveats and Addendum:

Do not touch my baby. Little Oot will be coming with me to some of these readings and signings. If you see him, you may gaze at him adoringly or coo in his direction. But touching him his not acceptable behavior.

No offense. But I don't you. I don't know where you've been. I don't know if you might be sick, or if you've been around someone sick. You might be a sociopath. You might be from Illinois.

Here's the deal. Oot is my first baby, and I'm very protective of him. So when planning your behavior around him, it would be safest if you thought of him as a tiny bear cub, and me as his momma bear. Any sudden movements or over-familiarity might lead to sudden and terrible wrath.



We clear here? Fair warning.

I occasionally cuss. I try to restrain myself if there are tiny kids present. But if the thought of hearing the word "shit" spoken aloud horrifies you, then... well... you're probably going to be horrified.

My handwriting is not pretty. My handwriting is such that young children mock me for it. Seriously.

You can have a hug if you ask nicely...


...Just don't get all handsy on me.


Lastly, one request. Since I'm scheduling these events not even two weeks ahead of time, there really isn't much time for typical promotion to spread the word about them. Most bookstores won't even be able to get up posters advertising these signings until next week.

So if you know someone that lives in the area who might be interested in coming. I'd be much obliged if you passed the news along to them. It's always so sad when I get an e-mail that says, "I just found out you were in [insert hometown here]! I can't believe I missed it!"


Thanks so much for your help everybody,

pat

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Thursday, March 4, 2010
The Perils of Fan Fiction - Part I

Lately, I've been thinking about fanfic.

This is new to me. Up until this this point in my life, I've spent more time thinking about how turtles have sex than about fan fiction.

Don't get me wrong. I don't have anything against fan fiction. It's just....

It's like this. Let's say you came up to me and said, "So, what do you think about Dnipropetrovsk?"

I would look at you blankly.

Then you would say, "Dnipropetrovsk? Major Ukrainian industrial center?"

To which I would shake my head dumbly.

Dismayed, you would continue, "Come on! It's the third largest city in the Ukraine! More than a million people live there! How can you not know about Dnipropetrovsk?"

At this point in the conversation, I would probably explain that I'm sure that Dnipropetrovsk plays a vital role in a lot of peoples' lives. I'd admit that I'm not surprised that folks have strong feelings about how it used to be a major military asset for the USSR. I'm sure that a lot of people live, breathe, and spend a big chunk of their waking time thinking about Dnipropetrovsk.

But I'm just not one of those people. I've never known anyone from there. Never visited. Never seen a movie set in the city. For all these reasons, Dnipropetrovsk has been off my radar for my entire life.

It's the same thing with fan fiction.

Admittedly, in these last several years, I've become aware of fan fiction through a slow osmosis. At any given convention there are going to be panels on the subject. You'll hear conversations in the hall. Occasional jokes.

Even so, fan fiction has only been dimly present on the edge of my perception.

The one notable exception is that I've known, sooner or later, that someone was going to do fan fiction about my stuff. Using my characters. Set in my world.

Truth is, I've looked forward to it. When people start writing fan fiction about your stuff, it shows that your writing has attained a level of popularity. It's like fanart, in my opinion. No matter how you feel about the art itself, the fact that someone went out of their way to do it is really flattering.

That's the most I ever thought about it. The thought of folks writing a Potter vs. Kvothe cage match never really bugged me.

How other writers feel on the subject has never concerned me very much. I know emotions tend to run hot on the subject. Some people love fan fiction. Some people hate it. Some people view it as legally actionable, others see it as a crime against god and nature.

The first people I met who were firmly on one end of the spectrum are the awesome folks who won the photo contest that I ran a while back. The first time I ever met them out at Gencon, they expressed a firm distaste for fanfic. They even made up this picture for me.




When I went down to Indianapolis a year ago, I they dressed up for a reading I did at their local library. And, as a joke, I had Kvothe and Bast pose for kiss because we were talking about the bit of Yaoi that got written.

You can see from the expression on Kvothe's face that she doesn't condone this sort of behavior.



It didn't really strike me as odd that people who engaged in cosplay would look down on people who wrote fan fiction. There is a viscous of territorialism in geek society, as shown by this flow chart that Brunching Shuttlecocks put together years ago:




(Click to Embiggen.)

It reminds me of a quote that used to get tossed around when I was in grad school. "Why is the competition on academia so fierce? Because the stakes are so low."

I think some similar psychological force is at play in geekdom.

Hold on.... I just realized something. Our award-winning cosplayers, by putting together a series of images that tell a story have created a narrative. A narrative that features characters someone else created.

Does that make their entry to the photo contest fan fiction? Are they all closet fanficers?

Whoo boy. I'm glad I'm not there to hear the great wailing and gnashing of teeth right now. I'm guessing those are fighting words....



Anyway, I always figured how people felt about fanfic was a personal issue. It's like Jefferson said: "It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

That's been my philosophy. You love fanfic? Fine. You hate it? Also fine. It really doesn't effect my life in the least.

But then I accidentally wrote a piece of fan fiction, and everything changed....


(Stay tuned for part two, space cowboys.)

pat

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