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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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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Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Convention stories


It seems like every time I'm at a convention, a thousand small, cool things happen. There's usually a dozen or so that catch at me, and I think, "I'll write about that in the blog when I get home."

But then I actually get home, and I'm tired. Then the next day I need to do laundry, and answer about 800 e-mails, and make lusty snugglebunnies with my girlfriend.

And sometimes I write, too. I don't know if y'all have heard, but there is a book that I'm supposed to be working on.

Typically, by the time I'm caught back up with my life, the memory of those cool little moments has faded somewhat. And so most of them just gently evaporate without ever being written down. Which is a shame, really.

So, instead of trying to weave all of these things into any sort of consistent narrative, I'm just going to bang a few of them out there. If you're one of those literary folks, you can think of these as vignettes. If not, you can just pretend you're reading a Vonnegut novel.


*****


I hate it when you're at a crowded convention, and people stop in the middle of the hallway to talk to their four friends.

I know that one of the great joys of the convention is running into people and having a nice chat. I myself have been known to stop and talk with friends I haven't seen in a long while. However, the center of the hallway is not the place for this conversation. A coffee shop? Yes. Over dinner at the Italian place? Certainly. How about over in the lounge there, on the couches? Why that sounds lovely too....

The hallway? No. That is not the right place for your reunion.

You see, the purpose of a hallway is to allow people to move from one place to another. That is its primary function. That is key to the platonic form of the hallway. If you stop in the hallway to talk, you are acting contrary to the fundamental nature of the hallway. This angers god and all clear-thinking individuals. Including me. Yes me, the person standing behind you. Yes me, the person standing motionless behind you in the hallway. Yes the person who looks as if he is thinking about howling with rage, punching you in the neck, then stepping over your doughy, twitching body.

In the interest of politeness and civilization, I resist my urges. However, I am tempted to do something. Like make buttons that read: "Hallways? Ask me how!" or a pamphlet entitled: "Hallways: a user's guide for getting the fuck out of my way."


*****


Bad - My cell phone went off during a panel.

Worse - I was one of the panelists.

Worst - I was the moderator.

P.S. Then it went off again.


*****

When did clocks become unfashionable? Am I the only one who remembers when you could go into a store and there would be a clock on the wall? You know, for the telling of time? Who decided that wasn't cool anymore?

Yes I know most people have cell phones these days. But that shouldn't make any difference. People used to have watches. You know what's easier than digging around in your backpack, pulling out your phone, then opening it? Looking up on the fucking wall and seeing a clock there. That's what.


*****


Fans are cool. My fans are cool to an exponentially higher degree. At gencon, after my first panel, a lovely young lady came up and handed me this....





This isn't a terribly good reproduction of the watercolour, as I just snapped it with my digital camera. But the picture is obviously a likeness of me from when I dressed up like a gnome at gencon last year.

Did I ever post up a picture of that? I can't remember. Here it is, just in case:





I never remember to take pictures of myself at these things, so I owe this picture to the fan who sent it along to me. When e-mailed it, she told me the story of how her daughter laughed when she saw it.

Her mom though that she was laughing at the obvious thing: a man dressed like a gnome. But apparently that wasn't it at all. The little girl reached out, brushed at my face in the picture, and said, "I like his fur."

Score another point for the beard.


*****


Though I've done a bunch of traveling lately, I've never flown on Southwest Airlines before. They don't have assigned seating. Every ticket has a number, you board the plane in that order, then you pick whatever seat looks best to you, depending on what's left. It was a little weird. Not bad, just unfamiliar.

Also, Southwest apparently has the only funny flight attendants in the whole business. I've tuned out the standard safety procedures for over a year now. You know what I'm talking about: that little pre-flight spiel where they explain how the seat belt works and lie to you about your seat cushion being able to float.

But on Southwest, the woman said, "Please listen closely while my ex-boyfriend and fiance demonstrate the safety procedures." And I did pay attention, especially when she started to make fun of one of the guys who couldn't get his life jacket on quickly enough for her taste. Later, when she was walking down the isle, one of the guys got on the intercom and made a boom-bada boom-bada noise in time with her walk. It was good fun.

Lastly, on Southwest, they don't cheap you on the snacks. They go around with a big box of different goodies, and if you say, "I want one of each." Then they just give you one of each. They didn't act like the CEO was going to count the packets of peanut butter crackers at the end and beat them if one is missing. Plus you got a whole can of soda and not just a cupful, which I appreciate.

These may not sound like much, but life, like writing, is built from small details. If I'm going to pay 400 bucks for a plane ticket, then I want a whole can of soda and an extra packet of peanuts. Does it make me feel better? Yes. Yes it does. It's like being given the choice between sodomy and sodomy with a little lube. You're going to have the sodomy either way, so you come to appreciate whatever small pieces of consideration the airline overlords grant you.

*****

That's all for now. More later. Off to bed.

pat

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Monday, July 7, 2008
New Interview! See Pat's Magnificent Beard in Living Colour!


Captain Joe discovered this youtube video just a while ago. It's a video interview I did with my UK publishers back in January. I suspect that they released this video to help promote the release of the UK paperback, which came out over there in June.

Surprisingly, watching myself here doesn't make me cringe hardly at all. I'm halfway articulate here, so I'm guessing that I managed to have a good strong cup of coffee before the interview started.



Share and enjoy,

pat

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