Tuesday, February 12, 2008
My Complicated Life

Okay. I'm pretty sure I've already pointed out Sinfest to y'all. But this one really cracked me up. I keep going back to the page, re-reading it, and laughing. So go read it then come back here. I'll wait...

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Okay. For those of you who don't already know, I live in Wisconsin. In the winter, Wisconsin is cold. For some of you who don't live in a similar climate, it's probably hard for you to understand how cold. Recently we've been having a few snaps around here where it drops down to more than 20 below, not counting the wind-chill.

Don't get me wrong. I know other places are colder. I'm not trying to start a my-home-is-colder-than-your-home sort of pissing contest here. Because, honestly, pissing at these temperatures can be downright dangerous. I'm just laying the groundwork for a story here. I'm setting the scene. Wisconsin + Winter = Cold (+/- Damn).

Another thing that you might not know is the fact that I like squirrels. Mostly I like the big fluffy grey ones. When I have more free time, and the weather is more clement, I have been known to keep peanuts in my coat pocket. Then, if I see a squirrel and I don't have anything pressing to do, I sit down and spend a half hour slowly gaining the trust of a squirrel until they feel comfortable coming to take the peanut out of my hand.

Knowing these two things, you can understand that when I found a dead squirrel on my front lawn, I was ensaddened. I felt kind of responsible, because it is my house. And I don't have birdfeeders or anything where they can get easy food. And it's been so *cold* lately....

So, whelmed with guilt, I went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of peanuts, and last night at 3:30 in the morning I'm standing at my back door with an armload of them, ready to strew them around my backyard.

That's when I realized that I had accidentally bought _salted_ peanuts.

I threw them out into the yard anyway, because it is really cold, and it's likely to stay that way for a couple days. But now I'm worried that the squirrels are out there, really cold and really thirsty because they just ate a bunch of salty peanuts. Where do they get water when it's this cold? Do they have to eat snow? Can you imagine living outside when it's this cold, then having to eat snow because you're thirsty?

Can squirrels get hypertension?

Anyway, that's what's going on with me lately. I hope everything is less anxious with all of you, regardless of geography, climate, and local fauna.

Fondly,

pat

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posted by Pat at 34 Comments



Wednesday, October 10, 2007
What Should I do #2 - Something Positive.
Today was a glorious day, my friends. A day I have long dreamed of. A day that was foretold in the.. um... earliness. Of the world. Forsooth.

Today is the day I received my first royalty check.

Now I hope this doesn't make me seem shallow, but the honest truth is that I've been more excited about this check arriving than I was to see the first copy of the book. Not that I wasn't all tingly over the book, mind you. But things have been pretty tight lately around the house of Pat. Ramen has been on the menu again.

What's more, my personal gaelets, Visa and Mastercard, had stopped sending letters and decided instead that it would be better to hire burly men to stand across the street from my house, clutching broken pool cues and giving me meaningful looks.

But now I am safe from them. For a while at least.

For this week's What-Should-I-Do Tuesday, let me (hopefully) introduce you to a few new people.

First is an author I expect many of you already know, especially if you make a point of reading high-quality fantasy: Tim Powers.

While all of his books are good, my personal favorites are Last Call and Declare. Though a friend of mine swears that an earlier work of his, Anubis Gates, is the best thing ever.

The second author is someone much newer to the scene: Brandon Sanderson.

I read his book Mistborn recently when I was on a trip, and I enjoyed it so much that I went out and bought the sequel, The Well of Ascension, in hardcover at full price. Twenty seven bucks that I could not really afford, despite the fact that credit card thugs were standing across the street from my house. But it was money well spent.

And lastly, a webcomic that I'm fond of: Something Positive.

Dark, sarcastic, cynical humor at its finest. Not for the easily offended or the faint of heart. But in addition to the humor that's scattered throughout his comic, I have to say that Randy Milholland really knows how to tell a good story, parts of his comic are really poignant, heart touching, and true.

And, in the interest of full disclosure, a while back he was nice enough to mention me in some fairly good company.


Lastly and leastly, today (the 10th) is the last day you can vote for Name of the Wind for to win "Book of the Year" in the Quill awards. If you're interested, you should HEAD OVER HERE and click on "Vote Now!" link.

And I'm off to bed,

pat

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posted by Pat at 19 Comments



Wednesday, September 26, 2007
They are not all good days....

When I stop to think about it, I realize how odd blog-writing is....

These last several months of posting haven't been that strange for me. I've had years of practice writing a weekly humor column in the local paper. For nearly a decade I've told stories, given bad advice, and generally tried to make people laugh.

This blog is kind of like those columns.

Also, when I was growing up, I always loved it when the books had author's notes in the back. Not just a little one-paragraph blurb. But a real message from the author to the reader. I thought that was the coolest thing, getting a little glimpse into their lives.

I like to think that this blog is kind of like those notes, too.

The blog is other things too: It's a way for me to spread book-related news to those of you who give a care. It's an easy, if rather unscientific, way to gather information. It also allows me to give some writing advice to people who are interested, though I'll admit, I haven't had much time for an "ask the author" blog lately. I should do one of those soon.

But recently, I've been wondering about the blog. What troubles me is this:

Though I am a liar by profession, I like to think of myself as a fundamentally honest person. Painfully honest, some people have said. But recently I've come to realize that the picture I've painted here is a somewhat dishonest portrayal of myself and my life.

It started months ago when I had a bad day and I thought about writing about it in the blog. Then I thought to myself, "Pat, people don't come to your blog to listen to you bitch and moan about your sad life."

"But I tell them about other stuff," I protested. "Why shouldn't I mention this?"

"Because they come here for news or for laughs, not so you can get all weepy on them."

I realized I had a pretty good point, so I decided to keep quiet. Once I made that decision, it was fairly easy to abide by it. And lord knows there's certainly been enough cool news lately so that I haven't been scraping for stuff to post.

But over the last several weeks I've come to realize the other side of this. Sure I'm keeping it light and entertaining. But by only posting when I have cool news or a joke to make, it looks like my life is some sort of happily-ever-after, candy mountain place constructed entirely of rainbows and orgasmic bliss.

But this just isn't the case. Things are not all sunshine and roses in Patland. I have bad days too.

Don't get me wrong, life is pretty good. Hell, after all these years, my book is in print and people like it. That's the top of the mountain, things don't get any better than that.

But shit still happens. Today I bounced a check for the first time in ten years. Cost me fifty bucks and make me feel like an idiot incapable of performing simple math. Instead of leaving my credit union with money in my pocket, I left knowing my account balance was -2.56 even after depositing the whole check I'd gone in to cash. I didn't even have enough to bring my balance up to zero.

Later on, I went to the coffee place and after I've ordered, I see the sign that says they don't take credit cards. And of course I don't have any money. So I have to explain that I can't actually pay....

Then I come home and I see that on Amazon someone posted a one-star review of NOTW. That means my average dropped just enough for me to lose my perfect 5-star status, which I was unreasonably proud of. Then I feel like a dink for even caring about something like that. But I go on being irritated even though I know it's silly, and that makes me even more irritated....

That's the reality of things. I have money troubles. I make bad choices. I get pissed off for no good reason. It's stupid how a few relatively small things can just wear you down.

It used to be that when I had a day like this I'd call my mom. I'd tell her about the one-star review and she'd be pissed. She'd go online and read it and just seethe about how the person was a total ass, and probably a half wit too. She'd be furious on my behalf, and I'd explain that it wasn't really that big a deal (which it isn't) and it would be off my chest and over with. It was enough to know that she was looking out for me, even if only to protect me from one-star reviewers.

You see, that's the main thing that I've avoided talking about on here for months now. Months and Months. Normally if something big happens to me, I tell stories about it. It's how I'm built. But I've been keeping that particular piece of story under wraps for a while now. Not only has it made me feel dishonest, but it really goes against my nature.

The thing is, my mom died a little while back, just a few weeks before the book came out.

She was great. I wish you all could have met her, and I'm sure most of you would have if she were still around. She'd be on here reading your posts, calling me on my bullshit, and telling stories. She would have gotten such a kick out of all the attention the book has been getting lately. The movie talk. All the foreign deals....

The Quill award. Oh man, she would have been unstoppable with a piece of news like that. She'd be telling strangers on the street. Moms don't have to be modest so she would have been bragging all over the place. I'd be a embarrassed about it, of course, but knowing that she was being excited on my behalf would mean that I'd feel better about just being calm and happy about the news. Sometimes it's not that much fun being excited about your own stuff.

She didn't miss all of it. She got to have some fun with NOTW. She read the galley and saw the printed versions before she went. She was around for some of the initial cool news: the first few foreign sales, some of the movie talk. She was so proud of it even then, before it even hit the shelves, even before it ever had an agent or a publisher. She referred to it as her "grandbook."

I tell you though. I'd set these books on fire if I could have her back healthy and happy for one good week. Fuck. Some days I'd trade it for a good fifteen minutes.

What's my point? Hell. I have no idea. If I had a point when I started writing this, I've long since forgotten it. I certainly didn't sit down tonight with the intention of writing about my mom....

I think I mostly just wanted to let the cat out of the bag. I generally live my life with policy of full disclosure, and it was feeling increasingly weird keeping mentions of such a big part of my life out of these blog posts. I prefer to keep my lies and editing for my books. My life I just like to live and share.

Tell you what though. Let's not have a big sympathy fest in the comments section. I'm not looking for a pity party. Aside from the occasional bad day where I can't seem to do anything but miss her, I'm doing pretty good. I'm doing pretty good right now, actually. I feel better than when I started writing this. Which might be the moral of the story.

You be happy too, okay? As for me, I'm going to go eat a cookie and go to bed.

Maybe two cookies.


Fondly,

pat

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posted by Pat at 45 Comments



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