Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Fanmail Q & A: Coolness

It's been a while since I answered an e-mail from a reader. How about we do that?

Pat,

I just wanted to say I've loved The Name of the Wind for over a year now, but I just recently found your website. Your blog has kept me laughing for almost two solid weeks as I go back and read the archives. That's something I've never done with a blog before.

Even better, your fundraiser was seriously amazing this year.

Seriously, how cool are you?

Jake

Jake,

You strike on a topic I've been curious about for some time. How cool am I?

As I've mentioned before in the blog, growing up, I wasn't one of the cool kids. But things change, and these days geek is chic. I'm willing to admit to the fact that these days, I might actually be a little cool.

Your letter poses an interesting problem though. If you'd simply asked, "Are you cool?" I could have gotten away with answering "maybe" or "kinda." But you've asked for a _degree_ of coolness. What's more, you've requested that I *seriously* consider the problem.

That means we need to use science and shit. We need quantifiable units of coolness that we can plug into formulas. We need to be rigorous.

Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, the BIPM hasn't established a standard unit by which we can measure coolness. I can't just tell you that I'm say, 85 pascals of cool. Or 158 newtons. Or whatever.

That means if we want to determine how cool I am, we have to measure me against some sort of universally accepted standard of cool. We need to develop our own yardstick, as it were.

So, let's pick two people who are undeniably cool. The king and queen of geek cool: Felicia Day and Neil Gaiman.

Now we need some numbers. While popularity isn't quite the same thing as cool, you have to admit they're closely related. Since I don't have access to things like book sales or website hits, we'll have to go to the lowest common denominator: Facebook.

(Yes, I know. Technically, Myspace would be the lowest common denominator. But there's only so low I'm willing to go, even for science.)

A quick search of fan pages reveals the following stats.

Felicia: 192,000 fans.

Neil: 90,000 fans.

Me: 10,000 fans.

Now we could stop here and say, that I'm about .05 as cool as Felicia. Or that I'm roughly .11 of a Gaiman. Or something like that.

But drawing data from only one source strikes me as slipshod. To round things out, why don't we take a look at Goodreads rankings?

Here's a screenshot of their list of most-followed people.

[Edit: Yes, I know these numbers have changed since I took the screenshot. I'm not redoing the math.]

(Click to Embiggen)

As a side note, you can see that according to Goodreads, I'm ever-so slightly cooler than Wil Wheaton. I like how it looks like his little Lego man is pissed at me for being above him.

"Curse you, Rothfuss," Lego-Wheaton says. "How dare you get between me and Felicia day?"

"Takest not that tone with me," Russian-dictator-looking-Rothfuss glowers from above. "Lest I crush you with my manly, blue-lit beard."

"Bring it Hagrid," he replies. "I'll beat you like a redheaded stepchild."

"What are you going to use?" I say. "Your kung-fu grip? Hell, you don't even have any elbows!"

Wait... Sorry, what was I talking about again?

Oh. Right. Coolness. I guess I lost a few points just there.

Anyway, as you can see things stand like this:

Me: 383 friends, 308 people following my reviews.

Felicia: 2,710 friends, 380 people following her reviews.

Not pictured above, Neil Gaiman sits at #1 on this list. Topping the chart on a mountain of cool with 5,175 friends and 3,133 people following his reviews.

Let's just combine these for simplicity's sake:

Gaiman: 8308

Felicia: 3090

Me: 691

Because the Facebook numbers are really high compared to Goodreads, we have to normalize them by multiplying by .045. (Don't ask how I got there. It's boring. If you understand statistics, you know how it works.) That gives us:

Gaiman: 4050

Felicia: 8550

Me: 450

So we add these together and apply the bonus multipliers.

Gaimain:
Medium Bonus - Novels, Comics, Movies, Audiobooks: *1.4

Association Bonus - Engaged to Amanda Palmer *1.5

Flair Bonus - Accent *1.4

Appearance Bonus: Sexy *1.5

12358 *1.4 *1.5 *1.4 *1.5 = 54499


Felicia:
Medium Bonus - Television, Webisodes, Comics: *1.3
(The Guild comic is coming out soon, in case you didn't know.)

Association Bonus - Works with Joss Whedon *1.6

Flair Bonus - Smells like flowers and PS3 *1.3

Appearance Bonus: Sexy *1.5

11640 *1.3 *1.6 *1.2 *1.5 = 47212

Me:
Flair Bonus: Beard *1.2

Penalty: Engaging in imaginary smack talk with Lego-Wheaton. *.09

1141 *1.2 *0.9 = 1232


You still with me? Now we have to create our yardstick for the measurement of geek-coolness. Imagine if Neil Gaiman and Felicia Day were somehow alchemically combined into one creature. Some ubercool, sexy, hermaphroditic, webisode-creating, rockstar, gamer, author thing.

I think it's safe to say that godlike creature would be the ultimate amalgam of geek cool.

So if we add together the scores of Neil Gaiman and Felicia Day, we get roughly 100,000 units. These I hereby term Gaiman-Day units. They will hereafter be used to determine how cool someone is. 100,000 Gaiman-Day units is the coolest you can be without collapsing into some manner of singularity.

So there we go. Now we have a way to quantify how cool I am, Jake. I am exactly 1232 Gaiman-Day units of cool. Only about one percent as cool as it's possible to be.

I hope this answers your question, Jake.


pat

Labels: , , , , , ,

posted by Pat at 111 Comments



Wednesday, January 6, 2010
A Veritable Cornucopia of Signed Books





This is a Worldbuilders blog.




Here's some more books, folks. And as you can see, we've been saving some of the best for last.

Also, in the interest of complete honesty, I'm over-tired and over-caffeinated right now. This makes me punchy, which means I probably shouldn't be doing anything delicate like writing book descriptions.

Still, the fundraiser ends on January 15th, which means I really need to get these posted sooner rather than later. So I'm going to apologize in advance for anything bizarre or inappropriate I might say below.

Sorry.

  • An Advance Reading Copy of Neil Gaiman's American Gods. Signed by the author.

A great book, and I'm not just saying that because a chunk of it is set in Wisconsin. I'm saying that because I'm a complete geek for Neil Gaiman *and* a big chunk of it is set in Wisconsin.

"Original, engrossing, and endlessly inventive; a picaresque journey across America where the travelers are even stranger than the roadside attractions." - George R. R. Martin

  • A hardcover copy of Small Favor - a Novel of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Signed by the author.

Jim Butcher is another one of my favorite authors. In fact, he was one of the first authors I wrote about on the blog a long while back. I continue to love him despite the fact that writes two extremely well-crafted novels every year, thereby making me look like a chump.

From Publishers Weekly, "Butcher smoothly manages a sizable cast of allies and adversaries, doles out needed backstory with crisp efficiency and sustains just the right balance of hair's-breadth tension and comic relief."


"Crystal Rain is refreshing and imaginative, an exotic stew of cultures, myths, and technology." --Kevin J. Anderson


Anyone who's read the acknowledgments in NOTW knows I owe Kevin Anderson a great debt of thanks, as he helped get me started in the publishing world. On top of that, I now owe him even *more* thanks for donating this lovely ARC...

Publisher's Weekly says, "Anderson's sizzling sci-fi thriller resurrects the technology of miniaturization introduced in the 1966 film Fantastic Voyage. [...] Casual sci-fi fans as well as newcomers to the genre will enjoy this well-paced, energetic narrative."

  • A set of Jonathan Green's Pax Britannia: Unnatural History, Leviathan Rising and Human Nature. Unnatural History and Leviathan Rising are signed by the author.

From the back of the book: In two scant months the nation, and all her colonies, will celebrate 160 years of Queen Victoria's glorious reign. But all is not well at the heart of the empire of Magna Britannia. A chain of events is about to be set in motion that, if not stopped, could lead to a world-shattering conclusion. It begins with a break-in at the Natural History Museum. A night watchman is murdered. An eminent Professor of Evolutionary Biology goes missing. Then a catastrophic Overground rail-crash unleashes the dinosaurs of London Zoo!

  • A copy of Just Desserts by Simon Haynes. Signed by the author.

Signed by the author, the merest touch of this book will cure scrofula. At least that's what the promotional blurb says.

The Specusphere urges readers to "enjoy another fast and furious ride with the zap-happy, zany rapscallions."

  • A copy of Space Magic, stories by David D. Levine. This special signed hardcover edition is limited to 100 numbered copies; this book is copy number AC-6.

Like Nnedi, David Levine is one of the folks I met when we got published in Writers of the Future Volume 18 together. David writes short stories like I'll never be able to, and over the years his advice about how the publishing world works has been invaluable to me.

Space Magic is his first short story collection. His "Tk'Tk'Tk" won the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Short Story and "The Tail of the Golden Eagle" was a previous Hugo nominee; it also appeared on the Nebula preliminary ballot and was a finalist for the Sturgeon Award and Locus Award.

It's also important to note that this limited edition harcover of the book is numbered AC-6. Which means that it's harder to hit than AC-10.

  • A copy of Saundra Mitchell's debut novel, Shadowed Summer. Signed by the author.

Booklist says that Shadowed Summer is, "Highly atmospheric, with pulse-pounding suspense and an elegiac ending."

You hear that? Elegiac. How come nobody calls my book elegiac? I'm all kinds of elegiac.

  • A copy of The Six Sacred Stones by Matthew Reilly. Signed by the author.

"The wildly imaginative Reilly has taken inspiration from comics, video games, thrillers and Code-style puzzle novels to create this rocket-fueled sequel to his 7 Deadly Wonders [...] A tongue-in-cheek quality will help readers find this outlandish adventure thrilling." -- Publishers Weekly


"Wilson's fantasy debut recalls the complexity of classic epic fantasy in the tradition of Robert Jordan. Combining adventure with mystery and memorable characters, this is a good choice for committed fantasy fans." —Jackie Cassada, Library Journal

  • Two hardcover copies of To Ride Hell's Chasm by Janny Wurts. Signed by the author.

"Janny Wurts writes with astonishing energy... it outght to be illegal for one person to have so much talent." - Stephen R. Donaldson

  • One set of Webmage, Cybermancy, CodeSpell and MythOS by Kelly McCullough. All signed by the author.

"The most enjoyable science fantasy book I've read in the last four years." - Christopher Stasheff

  • A set of Naked and Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays by David Sedaris. Both signed by the author.

David Sedaris is a brilliant author I only discovered a couple years ago when someone advised me to listen to his short piece "6-8 Black Men" on Youtube.

After less than a minute, Sedaris had a fan for life.

I've been meaning to post a blog recommending Sedaris' books for almost a year. But something always seems to get in the way. For example, the last time I sat down to write a post about it, I got hung up about whether or not I wanted to use the word "boner" in the blog. Then I started to write a blog about how avoiding the use of the word "boner" revealed a lot about my revision process. Then I stopped writing that blog and did something else. True story.

Anyway, a couple months ago, I found out that David Sedaris was on tour here in the US. What's more, I found out that he was making at stop Stevens Point. I still can't imagine why he was here in Podunk, WI. His tour schedule was literally something like this: San Diego > San Francisco > Los Angeles > Salt Lake City > Stevens Point > New York. My suspicion is that he lost a bet with God.

Sedaris gave a great performance and was incredibly gracious in person, though I'm pretty sure I made a bit of an ass of myself when I got to the front of the signing line. I bought a couple of his books and rather than have him sign them to me, I had him just sign his name so I could use them for this fundraiser. Also a true story.

Washington Post Book World describes Sedaris as "Shrewd, wickedly funny [...] one of America's most prickly, and most delicious, young comic talents."


There we go. Now I can go to sleep. Hopefully I didn't say anything too awful.... If I did, enjoy it while it lasts, because I'll probably just delete it when I wake up later today...

Remember folks, for every 10 dollars you donate to Heifer International, you get a chance to win these books and hundreds of others like them. Plus there's the whole helping make the world a better place thing. That's nice too.

And don't forget, I'm matching 50% of all donations made. So why not head over to my page at Team Heifer and chip in. Trust me. You'll feel great afterward.

Or, if you want to go back to the main page for Worldbuilders, you can click HERE.



With thanks to our sponsor, Subterranean Press.


Labels: , , , ,

posted by Pat at 19 Comments



Friday, January 1, 2010
Sanderson, Gaiman, and a piece of iron that fell from the sky...



This is a Worldbuilders blog.





Those of you who have been following the fundraiser closely will know that I've been debating what to do with a few of the books that were donated.

Specifically, I've been wondering what to do with two very lovely, very collectible books given to us by Neil Gaiman and Brandon Sanderson.

After reading the hundred plus suggestions that were made on the blog and doing a lot of thinking, I've decided *not* to auction these books off. I'm going to enter them into the general lottery instead.

I'm not going to witter on about all the pros and cons I weighed to come up with this decision. Suffice to say that:

1. I think the books will be a nice draw for the lottery, and will help tempt people to donate a little more for a chance to win something so cool.

2. It's nice to have a couple super-rare prizes in the mix.

3. The lottery appeals to my egalitarian nature. Everyone has a chance to win.


That said, here are the two new additions to the lottery:

  • A first edition hardcover of The Gathering Storm, signed by Brandon Sanderson, Harriet Jordan, and many others.


Brandon was nice enough to take some time out from his crazed touring schedule to send us this copy of The Gathering Storm, signed by himself, Harriet Jordan (Robert Jordan's wife) and many of the people who made the book possible, including his agent and some of the production staff at Tor.

  • A signed, numbered ARC of Stardust. Hardcover in its own slipcase. Signed by Neil Gaiman.



This is a gorgeous book. I covet it to an almost ridiculous degree.

It's a numbered ARC of Stardust: number 28 of 250. Signed by Neil Gaiman.

Also, because I'm a bit of a geek, I'll donate a little extra something to go along with Gaiman's book. I happen to have a piece of the Gibeon meteorite laying around the house. It seems like an appropriate addition to this book, as it's an actual piece of iron that fell from the sky.

Here's a picture:



(Click to Embiggen)

I'm sorry it's not a very good picture. I can't find my camera, and I had trouble making Sarah's focus in on it properly. For reference, it's about an inch and a half on a side and weighs about 60 grams.

Gibeon meteorites are one of the rarer types, made almost entirely of nickel and iron. The top of the piece you see here is covered in a black coating called the fusion crust, caused by the surface of the meteorite getting really hot as it passes through the atmosphere.

You can see a better example of it in this picture:


(That's not my hand.)

The smooth faces where the meteorite has been cut show one of the cooler things about the Gibeon irons. There's a pattern embedded in the iron that looks like frost. And in some ways, it is like frost. Except frost shows up when water freezes, and these marks show up when iron and nickel slowly cool down over millions of years.

It's called a
Widmanstätten pattern. And it forms because the different alloys of nickel and iron cool at slightly different rates while the molten iron is in space. The effect can't be duplicated on earth, so it only shows up in iron-nickel meteorites.

Each different meteorite fall has a different mix of iron and nickel, so they each have a slightly different pattern. In my opinion, the Gibeon's is one of the coolest looking.

Here's a better picture if you want to see what it looks like:


That's not my hand either, and the photo is actually from a site called Arizona Skies. If you're curious to get more information about meteorites, or just look at some cool pictures, they're a good place to start.

Okay. Enough meteoriticist geekery. I need some dinner.


Remember folks, for every 10 dollars you donate to Heifer International, you get a chance to win these books and hundreds more like them. Plus there's the whole helping make the world a better place thing. That's nice too.

So why not head over to my page at Team Heifer and chip in.
Not only will you be automatically entered in the lottery to win these books and more. But I'm matching 50% of all donations made. Trust me. You'll feel great afterward.

If you want all the details about the Worldbuilders fundraiser, you can read all the details HERE.



Oh, and Happy New Years...

pat

Labels: , ,

posted by Pat at 25 Comments



Friday, December 18, 2009
News, FAQ updates, and a Question
Alright folks. Today we're going to take a break from listing prizes. Instead, I'm going to pass along some Worldbuilders news and answer a few questions that have cropped up.

Lastly, I'd like to get everyone's opinion on what to do with few of the rockstar prizes that have been donated by Neil Gaiman and Brandon Sanderson.

News

Donations and book totals:

The big news is that we're only 18 days into the fundraiser and we've already raised over 36,000 dollars. That's not counting the any of the matching donations from Subterranean Press or myself.

In short, I think it's safe to say that we are pretty frikkin cool.

Donations keep arriving from authors and publishers. As of right now we have more than a thousand books worth over 30,000 dollars.

Miscelaneous News:

  • I found a cheaper way to mail the Draccus posters internationally. So I'm dropping the shipping price from 28 dollars to 15 dollars. If you paid the old price, don't worry. I'll send you a paypal refund soon.
  • A cool bookstore called The Bookloft out in Massachusetts has started fundraiser of their own. For every copy of my book people buy, they're donating money to Worldbuilders. Needless to say, I'm flattered and thrilled. Next time I'm in the neighborhood, I'm going to stop by and take you all out to lunch, especially the brilliant employee who spearheaded the idea....
Also, I know the tendancy on e-bay acutions is to wait until the last 45 seconds of the auction then bid your ass off with the hope of getting the item cheap. While those tactics tend to work pretty well in general, remember that these auctions in specific are meant to raise money for Heifer international. So bidding early really wouldn't be a bad thing, would it?

FAQ


I ordered a book/galley/poster from you. When will I get it?

Man. I've got no idea. We've been getting things out the door as quickly as possible. But the mail is really slow this time of year because of the holidays. My advice is to be patient. Sending me an e-mail isn't going to make the package move any faster, it's just going to make me slower in mailing out everyone else's packages.

What are my odds of winning something if I donate?

As I said above, we've got over 1000 books. But because a lot of them are grouped into trilogies or sets, it breaks down to there being over 500 prizes.

That means if you donate 10 bucks, right now you've got about a 1 in 70 chance of winning something.

If you donate enough for a goat ($120) that means you have about a 1 in 6 chance of winning something. Pretty sweet odds, you have to admit.

Keep in mind these are rough estimates. And the odds will shimmy around a bit as new books come in and donation totals rise.

Can I still donate a signed copy of my book for the fundraiser?

Sure. But I'd get it in the mail quickly if I were you.

How come you're donating all these different versions of your book, but not the audio version?

Honestly, I just didn't think of it, the audiobook version is pretty new. I've got hardcovers of NOTW laying around the house, but I didn't have a spare audiobook sitting on my shelf.

But it's a good idea, so I went out bought one.


That this isn't *quite* the right picture. I bought the CD version, not the MP3 version. I figured anyone can use the CD version.

My uncle/mom/grampa speaks Polish/Spanish/Japaneese. If I donate double the cover price, can I buy a signed copy of one of those books directly from you?

Hmmm… I don't have all that many copies of some of my foreign translations. (Except for Spanish, I have a ton of those.) If you're really interested, drop an e-mail to paperback.contest [squigly atsign thinger] gmail.com and we'll work something out.

I wanted to get one of those Heifer Gift cards, that show you've made a donation in someone's name, but I couldn't find a way to get on the Team Heifer site. Can you help me?

I can. Heifer is sending me a bunch of the gift cards. If you've donated on my page and you want one of the cards. Drop us an e-mail at the address I just listed in the previous answer and we'll mail one (or more) out to you.


Is there a facebook event for the fundraiser that I can invite my friends to?

There is now.

Invite away. Thanks for helping to spread the word.

If I want to send you a cheque in the mail rather than donating directly on the Team Heifer site, do I send it to your PO Box?

Sure. Send it to:

Pat Rothfus
PO BOX 186
Stevens Point, WI 54481


Two Questions

1) Would people like it if I put a second "Golden Ticket" up for auction? More importantly, would you bid on it?


2) This year we have a couple extra-cool books that have been donated. Take a look:
  • A first edition hardcover of The Gathering Storm, signed by Brandon Sanderson, Harriet Jordan, and many others.



Brandon was nice enough to take some time out from his crazed touring schedule to send us this copy of The Gathering Storm, signed by himself, Harriet Jordan (Robert Jordan's wife) and many of the people who made the book possible, including his agent and some of the production staff at Tor.

  • A signed, numbered ARC of Stardust. Hardcover in its own slipcase. Signed by Neil Gaiman.



This is a gorgeous book. I covet it to an almost ridiculous degree.


So. Should I put these books up for auction, or should I add them to the general lottery?

The auction would be nice, because between the two of these I expect we'd raise at least a couple thousand dollars for Heifer.

But adding them to the general lottery would be cool too. That way everyone has a chance to win them, and it might make more people enthusiastic about donating.

What do you think? I'm really on the fence about this. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Remember folks, for every 10 dollars you donate to Heifer International, you get a chance to win hundreds of books: some signed, some limited edition, some out of print. Plus there's the whole helping make the world a better place thing. That's nice too.

And don't forget, I'm matching 50% of all donations made. So why not head over to my page at Team Heifer and chip in. Trust me. You'll feel great afterward.

Or, if you want to go back to the main page for the Worldbuilders fundraiser and read all the details, you can click HERE.



pat

Labels: , ,

posted by Pat at 117 Comments



Saturday, February 14, 2009
My Trip to LA: Part One

So, it's been about a month since my trip to LA.

Now some folk will quibble and say that I was in *Pasadena,* not LA. But that is a distinction that matters primarily to folks who live in the LA area. To the rest of us, that entire gob of city there in Southern California is all LA.

It's best not to split hairs about these sorts of things. If we're going to get technical, I would have to explain to people that I'm not originally from Madison proper. I'm actually from the Town of Burke, right next to Madison. And right now I'm not in Hayward, hiding from the world and writing, I'm in the nearby township of Lenroot, or something like that.

These are pointless little truths that don't do anyone any good.

This is the art of storytelling, you see. Telling small lies in pursuit of a larger truth. The art of being a reader is being willing to work a little to get at the meat of the story, while at the same time accepting the occasional bent technicality and comma splice.

Anyway. LA was awesome. I was flown out by the lovely folks responsible for one of the winning pictures in the photo contest. Not only are these ladies lovely and willing to get naked for my book, but they are also rocket scientists. Seriously. So while I was out there, I got to take a tour of JPL and look at cool spaceship stuff.

I got to see oranges growing on trees. Which might not seem like a big deal for most of you, but for me it was pretty cool. I also saw lizards running around wild, and can now identify a eucalyptus tree. I got to play some new board games and walk around outside without wearing a coat or hat or anything.

The book signing itself turned out to be a marvelous success. We had a surprising number of people show up, I'm guessing 100 or 120. They had to bring out a bunch of extra chairs, and even then people were standing in the isles and sitting on the floor.

It was a good crowd. I read a few Survival Guides, a poem, and a snippet of book two. I told some stories, answered questions, and got a few laughs. Afterwards, I signed a buttload of books and got to chat one-on-one with folks. Someone brought me wine, someone else brought me an entire care package including memory sticks and tickets to Disneyland.

Though I love the swag, I feel obliged to remind folks that the "Something Cool" rule only applies to books you're mailing in for me to sign.

That said, if you have something you'd *really* like to give me, far be it from me to stop you….

Of particular interest was something that happened halfway through the reading. I was answering some question or another, and I looked out and saw Felicia Day sitting at the back of the crowd.

Now this is the point in the story where I don't exactly know what I should say. Normally when I'm telling a story out of my real life, I go with the truth, even when it's embarrassing or unflattering. I don't know exactly why I feel obliged to do this, but I do.

But for some reason, as I tell this story, I want to lie. I want to pretend I was laid-back about it. Pleased, of course, but also nonchalant. I'd like to portray myself as relaxed… cool. Like the Fonz from Happy Days. Or like the modern-day fantasy author version of the Fonz: Neil Gaiman.

I've seen Neil Gaiman a couple times. He's a great public speaker, funny, insightful. He knows how to work a crowd, and he's irritatingly good at reading his own work out loud.

Even better, he's terribly gracious in person. I once watched him get ambushed by a fan who was desperate to have Gaiman read his manuscript. The guy clung to Gaiman and wouldn't take no for an answer. I found it irritating from a distance of fifteen feet, but Gaiman was unfailingly polite through the whole exchange.

I'm not graceful in that way. I honestly don't know how I come across in public, but sometimes I expect that it's something like the way my old dog, Pup, used to behave.

He was a big liony mutt that I grew up with as a kid. An outside dog who never knew a fence, as we lived out in the country and let him run wild. He a smart dog, and a vicious hunter. He patrolled our house, protecting us from pretty much anything.

Despite the fact that he was a great hunter and defender, he was also very friendly. Unfortunately, it was like he never figured out that he wasn't a puppy anymore. When someone came over for a visit, Pup would jump up on them, putting his paws up on your chest (or your shoulders, if you were shorter) and lick your face.

This is fine behavior if you're a fluffy puppy with milk-breath, or if you're an adult dog hanging out with your family. But Pup treated everyone that way, even when he was full grown, shaggy, and smelling of whatever interesting he had found to roll in.

I suspect that's what I must be like when I'm in public most of the time. I'm this great shaggy beast who gets excited about meeting new people, and does the conversational equivalent of jumping up on people and licking them in the face.

This means that when I want to be socially graceful, I need some sort of internal touchstone about how I should act. So when I see Felicia Day sitting in the back of the room, I think to myself: WWNGD?

I'm guessing he would not, for example, stand up at his own reading and say: "Holy shit everybody! Felicia Day is here!"

So I didn't either. But I tell you, it was a near thing. I'm pretty sure I kept my game face on, and kept answering whatever question I was in the middle of. But the truth is, inside I was standing up and pointing, shouting: "Holy shit! Everybody! Felicia Day!" with all the enthusiasm of a four-year-old who has just seen his first real firetruck drive by on the street.

(Re-reading this, I think I need to add another item to my ever-growing list of Things You Should Never Compare a Woman to Under Any Circumstances. Number Seven: Firetruck. Perhaps any type of truck.

For the record, please note that this particular use of firetruck is being used to describe my reaction to Felicia, not Felicia herself.)





Anyway, after the reading, I managed to grab Felicia and chat for a bit before I started signing books. By this point I'd settled down a bit and was able to behave like a regular human being.

But still, every once in a while, my head would spin around a bit and I would think, "Wha? Who is this? Holy shit. I'm talking with Felicia Day!"

*****

Well folks, due to my tangential nature, this particular blog has ended up being WAY longer than I'd intended. I'll post the rest of it in a day or two, how's that?

In the mean time, if you don't know what the big deal is, you can go check out Dr. Horrible, where Felicia plays Penny. Or The Guild, which Felicia writes and produces in addition to playing the part of Codex.

Later,

pat

Labels: , , , , ,

posted by Pat at 23 Comments



Monday, December 22, 2008
Reaping the Whirlwind

First, I'd like everyone to take a moment and appreciate the clever title of this post. I'm unreasonably proud of it.

We good? Okay.

After a long week, Sarah and I have finally managed to tie up about 99% of the loose ends on the fundraiser. We've drawn numbers, sorted prizes, sent e-mails, and packaged nearly everything up.

And when I saw "we," I mean "Sarah." I did a lot of the sifting, number juggling, and e-mailing, but Sarah was the package queen.





Awww.... She loves those packages. Those hundreds and hundreds of packages.

Also, as you can see in the lower lefthand corner, the holy light these prizes exude can shine through cardboard, tape, and two layers of bubble wrap. It's powerful stuff.

I'd also like to note that these packages do not include the Subterranean Press books. Because not only was Subterranean Press cool enough to donate a great pile of stuff, they were nice enough to handle all the shipping for those books too. Which is why I am filled with love for them.

And speaking of love....





Here Sarah is modeling the catgirl hat many of you have seen before. I wanted to prove that I actually did buy it for her, and wasn't secretly keeping it for myself.

Simply said, the fundraiser would have been impossible without Sarah. She spent dozens of hours bundling up books, running errands, and generally getting everything done. Hell, the trip to the post office alone took two full hours, and that was with a friend with a van helping.

Everyone say, "Thank you Sarah."

And now, answers to some final questions.

  • Things went really crazy right at the end of the fundraiser. What happened?
Things did go a little crazy. On December 9th, I mentioned on the blog that I thought we had a decent chance of breaking $40,000. Then, we raised over $16,000 in the next two days, tearing past $50,000 and leaving me worried that I was going to have to take out a loan so I could cover my half.

A big piece of this was brought about by folks spreading the word on their blogs. Most notably, Neil Gaiman.

I'd heard through the grapevine that Gaiman was a bit of a Heifer supporter, so I sent him a little e-mail, asking if he'd be interested in mentioning it on his blog.

I should have realized that asking for something like this would be like sticking my tongue into.... well... into anything, really. In my experience, whenever you stick your tongue into something, the outcome is going to be either very exciting, very dangerous, or both.

This was one of those "both" situations. After his blog, Gaiman's readers flooded over to participate in the festivities. Felicia Day mentioned it on her blog too. Plus, I know a lot of folks were finishing their own personal fundraisers and/or waiting until the very end to make their donations. Hence the crazy.

Rest assured, everyone who got their donations in by the 11th was entered into the lottery.

And yes, I'm all twitterpated that Gaiman referred to me as a "good author." Though I hope at least some of that was referring to my storytelling as opposed to my ethics.

  • The donations hit nearly $55,000. How much are you matching?
The other day I asked Sarah, "What do you want for Christmas?"

"Nothing you can afford to get me," she said huffily.

And we laugh. This has become the running joke in our house.

I've decided to match all the donations. I could have stopped at forty thousand, but I said I'd keep matching until the 11th, and I like to keep my promises.

  • What was the final total?

If you've read the blog that started it all, you know I offered two options to people who wanted to donate. There was the Sure Thing option, and the Lottery option.

A surprising number of people chose the Sure Thing, which meant they mailed me a check and I mailed them something back, usually a book or a map signed however they wanted it.




(Click to Embiggen)

A *lot* of people chose this option. So many that I ran out of first edition books. The total amount raised from the Sure Thing option was over six thousand dollars.

That, plus my matching donation from the lottery, minus the cost of postage and packaging materials, brings us to $58,493.14





I'm showing you the check not as proof that I'm mailing it, but because it took me ten friggin minutes to write this thing out. I screwed up five checks before I managed to get it right. I misspelled "ninty," wrote the wrong amount, wrote the wrong year, and failed more than once to get the total to fit on the line.

I keep pretending that I'm a grown-up, but I'm not.

Anyway, this money, plus the donations that were made directly to the Heifer page, makes a grand total of $113,466.28.

I don't have words enough to express how happy this makes me. I firmly believe that deep down, people are fundamentally good. But it's nice to have some data that backs that sentiment up every once in a while.

I'd like to thank all the authors who donated books, all the people who mentioned the fundraiser on their blogs, and all the people who donated money to the cause. Yay us.

  • Are you planning on doing this again next year?
Yes. But I'm planning on doing some things differently.

More stuff. A lot of people wanted to contribute books or other goodies to this year's auction, but they didn't hear about the fundraiser until it was nearly finished. I've already got stuff piling up for next year's fundraiser.

Streamlined lottery. Next year, when you make your donation you'll be able to mark what prizes you're interested in. That way if you win something, it will be something you're sure to like.

Auctions. Some prizes are really cool, but only to a very select group of people. So next year we're going to auction those items off separately. These might be things like manuscripts. Or they might be services, like an author agreeing to insert your name into an upcoming book, a lawyer offering legal consultation, or feedback on a manuscript from a literary agent.

  • I want to be a part of next year's fundraiser. How can I help?
Donate. Want to chip in a signed book or two? Lovely. Have a cool collectible or unique skill you think would be a worthwhile addition? Wonderful. I'm already collecting prizes for next year. Send them along.

Or maybe you'd like to be an even bigger part of the fundraiser? I'm going to be looking for official sponsors to help me match donations for next year. I'd like to be able to do all of it on my own again, but I just can't afford it.

If you'd like to help out, drop me a line on my contact form or send an e-mail to Paperback.contest (squiggly at thinger) gmail.com.

Spread the word. Not everyone has signed books to donate or money to throw around. But you can help a lot by letting people know about the fundraiser. A lot of the prizes I received came from authors who contacted me, saying, "A fan sent me an e-mail about your fundraiser and I'd love to be a part of it." So if you know someone that might be interested in helping, donating a prize, or potentially being a sponsor, talk to them about it. It's a big help.

Help me come up with a name.
We *really* need a name, folks. We can't keep calling it "The Heifer Fundraiser." It lacks panache. Names are important things, you know. And they can tell you a lot about a fundraiser.

Right now, the best I've been able to come up with is "Worldbuilders." But we need something catchier than that. I know that a lot of you are word-clever, as shown by your constant, witty definitions of the word verification giberish. Funnel the churning magma of your creativity toward this problem and I'm sure we can come up with something good.

In fact, let's try to get the ball rolling in the comments below. Serious suggestions only please. Believe me, I've come up with enough sarcastic-sounding ones on my own.... (Geeks for Goats being the least lame of these.)


Thanks again everyone,

pat

Labels: , , , , ,

posted by Pat at 77 Comments



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

Labels: , , , , ,

posted by Pat at 40 Comments



Tuesday, January 8, 2008
The Great Zombie Debate

About a decade ago, I started writing a humor column for the local paper. It started as a fake advice column, and over the years it became.... I don't know what. Somewhere for me to make crude jokes about monkeys and pontificate on whatever subject was currently holding my attention.

I can't say why I started doing it. Boredom and ego, I guess. Plus I liked writing and making people laugh. What makes even less sense to me is that after almost a decade, I'm still writing it. I don't get paid for it, and over the years the column has landed me in more trouble than anything else I've ever done. That's the problem with satire, if it's done properly, it pisses people off.

Here's how it works. I make fun of clowns, and you laugh. I make fun of frat boys, and you laugh. Then I make fun of Buddhists. But you're a Buddhist. Suddenly you're not laughing.

Have I suddenly become unfunny? No. It's just that now I'm poking fun at your personal sacred cow. But that's my job as a satirist, I expose that which is ridiculous in the world. I'm a sacred cow tipper.

Anyway, I when I was out at the Fantasy Matters conference a couple months ago, I had do do a reading directly following Neil Gaimain. I knew that I couldn't hope to match him in sheer mythic storytelling awesomeness, so I decided to go for some cheap laughs instead. To this end, I read a column I wrote a couple years ago called The Great Zombie Debate.

Surprisingly, people liked it. So I thought I'd post it up here for those of you looking for a cheap laugh or two.

Dear Pat,

My social group is fiercely locked in the fast zombie vs. slow zombie debate. While I'll admit that 28 Days rocked, I still think slow zombies are much scarier than their faster counterparts. Can you shower us with your wisdom? I fear this debate will cause a schism in our group that may never mend.

John S.


Thanks for the letter, John. It's always nice to hear from a guy who's not afraid to use the word "schism."

Though not many folk know it, the fast vs. slow zombie debate goes all the way back to the early days of the church. It was part of a disagreement between James the greater, and Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus. You see, James believed in salvation according to works, slow zombies, and that watching two women kiss was, in his words, "wicked cool."

On the other hand, Paul believed in salvation according to faith, fast zombies, and the fact that women were "kinda icky" therefore two kissing would be, "double icky."

Now normally when there was a disagreement, they turned to Thomas. But Thomas thought it should be faith AND works. And he'd never actually seen two women kiss and didn't believe that sort of thing really happened. As for zombies, well... the thought of people getting up and moving around after they were dead was just too much for him, and he told the other disciples that he had better things to do than sit around and listen to them tell silly stories.

And so the issue remains unresolved to this day, stirred up by recent fast zombie movies like Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days.

So let's lay this to rest once and for all, shall we?

Now to a certain extent whether you like fast or slow zombies is simply a matter of personal taste.

It's like sex. Fast sex is different from slow sex. But they both have their good points. A quickie is fun. It's a romp. It's exciting. Slow sex is different. It's an experience. It's an adventure. It's an African safari which necessitates the use of a special type of hat.

But while they both have their selling points, the fact remains that slow sex has a lot more style. More room for finesse. More opportunities to wear exciting hats.

The same thing is true with zombie movies. Everybody who isn't all a total tightass enjoys a good zombie movie now and then, fast or slow. But ultimately, a slow zombie movie has a lot more style. More finesse. The purpose of a zombie movie is to scare you, and ultimately, slow zombies are more frightening.

Now before all you fast zombie advocates get your knickers in a twist, listen to me. Slow zombies are frightening. Fast zombies are startling. There's a huge difference, let me explain.

You know the part in the horror movie when the young co-ed is looking through the attic with a flashlight? It's dark, the music gets real dramatic, then BAM! A cat jumps out from behind a stack of boxes.

Pretty scary, huh?

No. No, that was not scary. It was just startling. It's cheap. If you don't believe me, just think of a whole movie full of nothing but cats jumping out at people. Would that be a scary move? No. It would just suck. The same goes for a movie full of nothing but fast zombies jumping out at people, or, come to think of it, relationships full of nothing but fast sex.

That is, unless you're having a relationship with a slow zombie that wore an exciting hat when you had sex with it. That might work, I think.

And with that bit of wisdom I will leave you for now. I'll be back soon, and posting more consistently now that the holidays are past. I'll tell y'all how the Boston Signing went, and I'll be making those announcements I promised you a couple weeks ago.

Plus, I have some delicious fanart that I've been dying to show you....

Later all,

pat

Labels: , , , ,

posted by Pat at 19 Comments



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

Labels: , , , ,

posted by Pat at 22 Comments



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

Labels: , ,

posted by Pat at 25 Comments



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

Labels: ,

posted by Pat at 30 Comments



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

Labels: , , , , ,

posted by Pat at 31 Comments



Thursday, November 15, 2007
Butterflies....

So in half an hour or so I'm going to be getting into my car and driving up to Minneapolis for the Fantasy Matters convention I mentioned a while back.

I was pretty sure that by now, I'd be numb to the pre convention jitters. Over the years I've done a lot of public speaking in a lot of different venues. I've been a teacher for years, of course, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Teaching is a cakewalk compared to some of the other gigs I've had.

Hell, about a year ago I was the commencement speaker at the biggest high school in the state. That was scary. Going to another convention shouldn't be making me jittery. Improv comedy. That's hard. Preaching a sermon, singing in front of judges, live radio interviews.
All of those are way more.... anxiousnessing than talking on a panel at a convention....

Shit, it's starting already. I'm losing all my words... what's the word for when something makes you nervous? Is there such a word? There has to be....

Hell, by noon tomorrow I'll be speaking like a... Labrador? What does that even mean? Fuck. Now my knack for clever analogies has crapped-out as well. Soon I'll be reduced to grunts, rude gestures, and scratching crude sketches in the dirt with a stick....

The reason for my anxiety is this. Neil Gaiman is going to be at this convention. I'm finally going to meet him.

Now over the last year or so, I've met a lot of important people. Big people. Agents. Editors. Movers. Shakers. Authors that I've read for years. Luckily, it's been a slow progression so that I was never especially overwhelmed at any point.

A couple weeks before my book came out I had dinner with Tad Williams when he was in the area doing a signing. And the strange thing is, I was cool with it. He was just a guy. I should have been a little freaked-out, but I wasn't.

But Gaiman. His writing is beyond the pale. Dude is mythic and I am seriously nervous. I'm worried that when I meet him I'm going to try to be witty and I'll just spaz out instead. It'll be like a Muppet having a seizure. A Muppet with bad language skills.

I'm guessing it would pretty much be like Grover on methamphetamine. With tourettes.

Somewhere between this:





And this:






Oh Deviantart... is there anything you don't have an illustration for?

Personal to Mr. Gaiman: If you read this, please do not call the police. I won't visit spazzy Muppet death upon you. Neither will I scalp you and wear your hair like a little hat. You have my word as a fellow fantasy author. I promise. Pinky swear.


Okay, time to get on the road. Got a long drive ahead of me tonight.

Later all....

pat

Labels: , , , ,

posted by Pat at 49 Comments



RSS info

Archives
Previous Posts
Bookmark this Blog
(IE and Firefox users only - Safari users, click Command-D)


 


© 2007 Patrick Rothfuss, All Rights Reserved
Contact Patrick
website designed and hosted by
AuthorsOnTheWeb.com