Friday, February 5, 2010
Elodin Enterprises: Making Tomorrow's Mistakes a Reality Today.

Over the years, I've learned a lot about women.

When I was younger, I was the guy all the girls came to for relationship advice. Don't ask me why. I'd never actually had a relationship. But I was thoughtful, and a good listener, and I didn't openly gawk at their breasts. (I did gawk, of course, I just wasn't rude about it.)

These three things may not seem like much, but from what I understand they rarely come together in a 16 year old boy. The result was that most girls found me to be trustworthy, fun to be around, and neuter as a Ken doll.

But I learned a lot by listening to their relationship problems. I learned what irritated them, what they really wanted in a relationship (or said they wanted, anyway), and the sort of jerky things guys were capable of.

Eventually I started to develop a list of things you should never do in a relationship. Rules of conduct that should never be broken. I continued building that list all through college.

Now I'm not talking about the obvious stuff here. Rules like, "Don't sleep with your girlfriend's sister." or "Don't jab her in the eye with a pointy stick." Shit like that is obvious.

My rules were more specific, but other people had paid for them in blood.

A few real examples:

* Never tell a woman she looks like her pet.

* Never compare a woman to a cow.

* Never compare a woman to any sort of cheese.

Maybe those last two don't happen so much outside of Wisconsin. But trust me, you really can't pull them off. Dairy products are fine. If you're careful, you can use creamy or milky. You can even, depending on the situation, get away with buttery. But cheese is right out. It can't be done in a good way.

Later on in life, as I started to date more, I began to add new rules based on my own experiences. Things like:

* Don't break up with a girl then send her roommate a love letter.

* Don't invite four different women to the same poetry reading. Especially if one of them is your ex-girlfriend, one is your current girlfriend, and one is the girl who kinda wants to be your girlfriend.

That last one might seem a little specific, and it is, I suppose. But if I can keep even one other person from making that mistake, I will be doing the world a very big favor.

Now some of you may scoff at my list of rules. Thinking them bizarre and overly specific. I don't really feel the need to defend myself or prove the efficacy of my system. Simply look at me, then look at my past girlfriends, all of whom have been lovely, intelligent, and sexy as hell. My results speak for themselves.

I'm not claiming to have it all figured out. Far from it. I'm still adding things to my list all the time.

For example, the other day I'm laying in bed with Sarah and little Oot. Because Oot is a happy little bundle of cute, Sarah experienced a moment of what I call Mom Bliss. I'm pretty sure this is an evolutionary thing. Specifically, it's a rush of endorphins designed to make moms adore their children, rather than devour them.

So we're all on the bed and Oot kinda squirms around, looks up at us, and gives us one of his trademarked triple-distilled cuteness grins. Then he makes a happy little shriek that sounds like he's trying to speak dolphin.

This presses Sarah's mom button, and the endorphins hit her brain like a pixie stick dissolved in a jam-jar full of heroin.

"Oh!" Sarah says, her eyes all dewy with Agape-style love. "This is so great! I'm in bed with my two favorite people!"

"Yeah," I say, pretty much agreeing with her. "It's kinda like a lame three-way."


New rule: Do not refer to quality time with mom and baby as "kinda like a lame three-way."

Here endeth the lesson.

pat

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posted by Pat at 73 Comments



Monday, January 11, 2010
Seven Stories Concerning Joss Whedon - or - The Road to Damascus




This is a Worldbuilders blog.





Ladies and Gentlemen, it's come to my attention that some of you out there might not know about Joss Whedon. This worries me.

Even more troubling is the thought that some of you might know of Whedon, but still haven't taken him into your heart or witnessed his glorious work.

I used to be like you. I used to live in darkness. Let me share my story with the hope that you might come to know him as I do....

* * *

It's 1999. Home from college, I go to a New Year's party with some old friends. Halfway through the evening, someone mentions Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

"Never seen it," I say.

Suddenly they're all bleating like sheep about how much they love the show. Everyone feels compelled to tell me their favorite line. Their favorite part. The time this character did this thing in this place.

"Yes yes," I said. "I've heard it all before. Honestly, it sounds pretty dumb to me."

Things get heated. It turns out I'm the only person there not actively following the show. They can't believe how ignorant I am. How can I not be watching it?

Finally I've had enough. I hold up a hand to get everyone's attention. "Listen," I say. "I'm a huge geek. I've written a fantasy trilogy that will never be published. I once dressed up as Pan for Halloween. I have LARPed." I looked at them all seriously. "And you people embarrass me. I am ashamed to be standing close to you right now. Kindly shut up about your stupid vampire cheerleader show."


It's 2002. I'm in grad school, covered in a thick, greasy layer of drudgery and helpless rage. I'm fighting as hard as I can, only to realize that academia is a tarbaby made out of bullshit and willful ignorance.

One of my friends buys the first season of Buffy on DVD and leaves it in my house. That's it. No sales pitch. I just come home from class and it's sitting on my coffee table.

And that's where it stays. I've made my feelings clear. I'm getting my Masters in English Literature. I'll be god-damned if I watch a show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

But, eventually, there's nothing else to watch in the house, so I plug it one evening while I eat my dinner.

And it's exactly what I expected. It's trash. It's heavy handed. The plot is predictable.

Worse of all, there's a showdown between the plucky blond eye-candy and the bad guy at the end of the first episode.

Buffy: Well you forgot about one thing!
Vampire: Whats that?
Buffy: Sunrise!

She breaks a window behind the vampire and rich amber light pours in, making the vampire howl in fear.

I roll my eyes. I've seen this cliche a dozen times before. I'd be bored if I wasn't so insulted. I reach for the remote.

But it isn't sunlight pouring through the window. It's just a lightbulb in the alleyway. The vampire looks out the window, confused.

Buffy: Its not for another 9 hours, moron.

I start to laugh, realizing whoever wrote this knows exactly what he's doing. This isn't cliche. This is whatever the opposite of cliche is.

I watch the second episode.


It's 2003. I'm out of grad school and teaching my own classes for the very first time.

I've made contact with a big-name New York literary agent. He's read my book and thinks it has potential. He says I'm a good writer, but my book has structural problems. There are plot issues. Am I willing to revise?

I am. But I have no idea where to start. I read a book called Writing the Blockbuster Novel and it makes no sense at all to me. I re-read my novel and realize I don't have the slightest fucking idea what I'm doing.

Fall semester ends, and the university tells me enrollment is down. Quick as that I'm unemployed.

So I go out and buy my very first home theater system. Bose speakers. Subwoofer. I fill up the credit card, figuring that if I'm going to be unemployed, I might as well enjoy my free time. Besides, it's not like I'm going to be able to get any writing done....

The first thing I watch is the second season Buffy.

It opens a window in my head. It changes the way I think about stories.


It's 2004. Despite the fact that I'm not really interested in space cowboys or whatever, I buy a copy of Firefly.

It's 6:00 AM when I sit down to watch it. After half an hour, one of my roommates wanders blearily into the living room.

"Wassis?" he asks.

"Firefly," I say. "First episode. I can start it over if you want..."

He lays down on the other couch and we re-start the episode.

Ten minutes later he looks at me. "They canceled this?" he asks.

"Apparently."

He looks at the screen, then back at me. "I'm so fucking pissed!"

I nod.

Six years later I'm still pissed. I'll probably be pissed about Firefly until the day I die.


It's 2006, and I'm attending one of my first conventions. I've sold my book, so now my job is to make friends in the fan community. Mingle. Rub elbows. Network.

I get invited to a party. I drink a drink. I end up talking with a beautiful young woman in a tight red dress.

"I don't know what all the fuss is about," she says. "I watched some Buffy, couldn't get into it. Firefly was boring. I just don't get what I'm supposed to be missing."

"Well..." I said thoughtfully. "Have you ever considered the fact that you might not actually have a soul?"


It's 2008. Dr. Horrible goes online. I'm giddy as a schoolgirl. I write a blog about it. I bring my friends over to watch. I leave it playing on my computer while I do work around the house, while I check my e-mail, while I eat lunch.

This continues for weeks.

Then one day while I'm singing "A Man's gotta Do..." in the shower, I have an idea for a short story. This is a rarity. I don't do short stories. Better yet, it's a short graphic novel.

So I sit down and start to write it out. It's fun. I've never written a script for a graphic novel, and it's tricky thinking in terms of page layouts, paneling, and dialogue placement. I break out my copy of Understanding Comics and start making notes for a friend who could do the illustrations.

Two hours later I realize I'm writing Dr. Horrible fanfiction.

Four hours later I'm still writing it.


It's 2009. While playing Guest of Honor at a convention, I end up on a panel about Joss Whedon.

Much to my surprise, I hear people nitpicking. They say, "Buffy was great until season four." "I got bored with Dollhouse after two episodes." "Angel was too dark." "Buffy got weird in season five...."

Finally I've had enough. I hold up a hand to get everyone's attention.

"Listen," I say unto them. "You're all a bunch of whiny little titbabies. Joss Whedon is a storyteller and you're upset because he isn't acting like a music box, playing you your favorite song again and again.

"Joss Whedon made me care about the X-men, even Cyclops. He sold me on space cowboys. He made me sing in the shower and write fanfiction for the first time in my life. He told me a subtle story with Dollhouse and gave me the best character arc I've ever seen with Wesley Wyndam-Pryce."

"Why don't you marry him?" someone shouts from the audience.

"Because of Proposition 8," I shot back. "And because he never returns my calls."

* * *

So that's the story of my conversion to Whedonism. I've pulled a Saul of Tarsus and these days I'm a full-blown missionary. In fact, Sarah has informed me my man-crush is about to step from being cute to creepy, so I'm trying to reign myself in a little bit here.

For example, I'm not going to post up any of my Whedon-tribute macaroni art. Neither will I trouble you with any of the sonnets I've composed.

Instead, I'll add some Whedon stuff to the Worldbuilders lottery. That means if you donate money to Heifer International before January 15th, you have a chance of winning this stuff in addition to all the other cool prizes.

  • All seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the five seasons of Angel, and the first five graphic novels composing "Season Eight"of Buffy.

About a year ago, I went to talk to a bunch of high-schoolers as part of a book festival.

As per usual, I read a bit, then did some Q&A.

One of the kids asked a question about character building. I thought of the perfect example that would answer his question and said, "Have you seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer?"

I meant it to be a rhetorical question. I mean, everyone's seen Buffy, right?

He hadn't. I was a little surprised. So I asked the whole auditorium, "Who here has watched Buffy?"

Only about three hands went up.

I shouldn't have been surprised, I suppose. But I was. What's more, I was actually mad. I turned to the teacher that had arranged for me to come out and talk to the kids and demanded, "What the hell are you teaching these kids?"

  • Both hardcover volumes of the Astonishing X-Men, containing the entire story arc written by Joss Whedon.

Even if you don't read comics, you will enjoy this. Even if you don't care about the X-Men, you will like this story. It's wonderfully self-contained, so you don't need to know the last 40 years of x-history to follow what's going on.

  • The complete series of Firefly and the sequel movie Serenity.

If I ever get to teach a creative writing class, I'm assigning Firefly as a textbook. Everything you need to know about storytelling is right there in the pilot episode.

Side note: if you watch the movie before watching the series, I will magically appear and choke you.

  • The first season of Dollhouse.

Some people I normally respect are all snarky about Dollhouse.

Fie, I say unto them. If you can't handle a subtle story, feel free to go watch MTV cribs. The rest of us will be right here, enjoying the awesome.

It's a different sort of story. That means, of necessity, it has a different tone. But it's still Whedon, and that's all that matters.

  • Two copies of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

For concentrated cool, it's hard to beat this disk. Not only is DR. Horrible like a primer on how to create a realistic villain, but the commentary track is a musical too. I'm not even kidding.

God. Just looking at the cover makes me want to listen to it again....


That's all for now folks. Remember that the fundraiser is over on January 15th. So if you want to get in on the action, you better do so soon.

Money raised by Worldbuilders goes to Heifer International, which helps people all over the world raise themselves out of poverty and starvation. If you'd like to donate directly you can head over to my page at Team Heifer and I'll match your donation by 50%. Trust me. You'll feel great afterward.

Or, if you want more information about the Worldbuilders fundraiser itself, you can head to the main page HERE.



With thanks to our sponsor, Subterranean Press.

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posted by Pat at 115 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.


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posted by Pat at 19 Comments



Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Upcoming appearances, and the woes of biography

I have trouble with simple things sometimes.

For example: I'm going to be Guest of Honor at Gencon this year.

That isn't the hard part. Truth is, being Guest of Honor is a pretty sweet gig. I had my first taste of it up in V-Con last year.

When you're GOH, the convention typically does lovely things for you, like pay for your hotel room and your flight out to the convention. Usually an author has to pay for all that out of their own pocket, which means it's really expensive to hit two or three cons in a year. Let alone the five or six I usually try to attend.

This year, through a weird confluence of events, I'm going to be Guest-of-Honoring at four different conventions. Details are over on the Tour Page, if you're interested.

One of these conventions is only a couple of weeks away, down in Madison. I'm sorry I haven't posted up the info about Oddcon sooner, but I've been busy writing, and I was called in as a last minute pinch-hitter GOH to replace Tobias Buckell. He had to bow out on account of his wife being super-pregnant. If you're interested, they've extended pre-registration until Friday because of the change of plans.

Anyway, in exchange for having our expenses paid, the GOH has certain responsibilities. The main one of these is to do stuff for the convention. We do more than the usual number of readings, signings, panels. Etc.

I don't have a problem with this. This is why I go to conventions. I like talking about stories. That's what I'm all about.

My problem was with something much simpler. As I mentioned above, I'm going to be the author GOH at Gencon this year. So they asked me to write a bio they can put in the program book....

This should be easy. It's short. 150 words. When I was born. Where I'm from. What I've done. Stuff like that.

But I overthink these things. It's a problem I have.

So I write a regular bio. Names. Dates. The Name of the Wind. Sold in 27 countries. Simple.

But then when I'm finished, I read that bio and it seems really dry and boring.

So I write a new bio. I want it to be better. Different. A little funny. I want it to be cool. Sexy even.

But then I read that one and it seems desperate, whorish. It's stupid and corny.

So I write a new bio. I tone it down, try to be subtle, understated, professional.

But then I read that one and it seems boring again, plus stiff and awkward. Plus fakey.

So, finally, I get fed up and write something like this:

Patrick Rothfuss sprung fully formed from Marge Rothfuss, his mother, in Madison Wisconsin. In a mere three months, Pat grew to the height of a man while teaching himself to read and write using only a shovel and a dead cat.

When the voices told him to, Pat left home to attend college in at University Wisconsin Stevens Point where he joined Slytherin house and had many wonderful adventures. After graduating, Pat evolved into a being of pure light and energy. Then he went to grad school and evolved even further into being composed entirely of bile, anger, binder twine, and sweet, sweet, methadone. After grad school Pat joined forces with five plucky Japanese schoolgirls to form a giant robot that fights crime.





Through all of this Pat has read fantasy, watched fantasy, and written fantasy. Some academics have suggested that Pat eats, sleeps, and breathes fantasy, but this is simply untrue. The truth is that Pat eats burritos, sleeps like a drooly baby, and breathes a white-hot plasma composed of molten gold and rage.

And you know what? I like this bio the best. If I'm going to spew out bullshit, I'd rather have it be pure, unadulterated bullshit.

By the way, a lot of you have been asking who's been doing my illustrations for the blog. It's not me. I can't draw worth a tinker's damn. My illustrator's name is Brett Hiorns, and he is awesome. You can say howdy to him in the comments, if you like.


That's all I've got for now. More news soon. Cool news. Stay tuned.

pat

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009
On the Subjectiveness of Spring.
I declare today the first day of spring.

This is for the simple fact that today is the first day that I have left the house without my coat and not regretted the decision.

I won't miss winter. But I will miss my winter hat just a little.





Carry on,

pat

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posted by Pat at 96 Comments



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


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





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You should go check it out.


Later all,

pat


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posted by Pat at 21 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

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008
DragonCon in a Nutshell.

How was DragonCon, you ask?

In summary:





Yeah. That's pretty much it.

Stories forthcoming,

pat

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posted by Pat at 30 Comments



Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Daily adventures: The Dentist.

So today I went to the dentist.

This might not seem like a big deal to y'all. In fact, for a lot of you, I'm guessing a trip to the dentist is no more of an event than going to get the oil changed in your car or buying a new pair of shoes. That is to say, its falls under the category of routine maintenance for your life.

But you see, I haven't been to the dentist in a while. A long while. An amount of while that would be considered obscene by many people.

Yes yes. I know everyone puts off going to the dentist. You're supposed to go every six months, or a year. But you forget, or you avoid it, and one year stretches into two, or three, or five.

But, as with all things, I've taken it to the next level. For me it's been so long that I can only dimly remember the last time. My last dentist was a huge Italian man with fingers like sausages. He looked like an honest-to-god mobster, and when he mentioned that I wasn't flossing, it sounded like something out of the Godfather. Like if I didn't floss, he was going to send someone around to my house to straighten me out....

Also, the brand name of the little workstation they had next to the chair? "Cavitron" I shit you not. The thing was called The Cavitron.

It would be funny to say that that experience traumatized me, and that's why I haven't been back for so long. But the it wouldn't be the truth. I thought all that was funny as hell.

The truth is, I just never think of going. And when I DO think of going, I worry that when I show up they're going to say something like, "Well, it's too late. Our only option now is to surgically remove your whole mouth in the most excruciating manner possible."

So, of course, it's easier to avoid the whole situation.

How long has it been? It has been, at my best guess, eleven years. Maybe twelve.

And I don't floss. At all. It would be impossible to floss less than I do, unless you somehow invented a machine that made negative flossing possible.

So, to cut to the chase, I went in to the dentist and got to experience the new tool. Apparently that sharp metal pokey thing was getting blase. Now they have much cooler high-tech version of that. It combines all the pokiness of the metal tool, with a tiny spray of water and a feeling like...

You know when someone runs their fingernail over a chalkboard and you feel it back in the base of your neck. It's like that. Except it's the pokey thing and my teeth making the noise. Huzzah for science.

But deep in my heart I know I've earned this. This is Penance. It's fair. This poor hygienist wasn't planning on dealing with this today and they probably scheduled my cleaning thinking that they'd only need the regular amount of time. I can't blame them for being a little rough and a little hurried.

Still, part of me wonders if there is an upscale dentist option out there. I mean, I don't think Brad Pitt goes in to the dentist and has someone scrape away at him like this. It's just undignified.

Anyway, it's good for me. Not only because my teeth did need cleaning, but because I haven't practiced my Buddhist meditation lately, and I typically only do that in situations like this.

Here's my philosophy. Any wanker can meditate at home, listening to Enya and sitting on his yoga mat. That's for sissies. You managed to clear your mind from all distractions? Wow. Congratulations. You want an organic, sugar-free walnut and raisin cookie to celebrate?

Me? I'm badass. My thought is that if you can relax, clear your mind, and contemplate the four noble truths while someone is drilling your teeth, then you've got your place in the universe pretty well sorted out. Meditating while under extreme conditions is like going running while you're wearing leg weights and occationally stopping to have a fistfight with a shark. Except, y'know, with your brain.

So I meditate in the dentist's chair. I meditate while flying through a thunderstorm sitting next to a mom with a screaming baby, while getting stitches with no anesthetic at the doctor's office, and, once, in the fourth row of a Gwar concert. Keep your circle breathing to yourself, hippie. I've got so much pranjna I don't even know what to do with it all.

And the end of the story? I'm fine. No cavities. No trouble. I'm the first to admit that this little story would work better with a moral at the end. But that's just not the way some stories actually happen.

Goodnight everyone,

pat

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Monday, April 2, 2007
My First Signing
I had my first reading and book signing last Tuesday. A cool if slightly surreal experience.

I showed up at the Barnes and Noble in Madison about ten minutes before the signing was supposed to start. There were about a half-dozen of my friends hanging around, and my grampa was sitting in the front row. That was about it. Ten people tops, and that was including me.

Honestly, I was kinda relieved. With less than ten people the potential for looking stupid is greatly reduced. And since everyone was either a friend or a relative, I could trust that they'd already seen me humiliate myself on a far grander scale than anything I was likely to achieve tonight.

But I was pretty disappointed. You want a little fanfair for your maiden voyage, and in terms of the beginning of my writing career, a turnout of less than ten people is not a good omen.

But soon the place started to fill up. We put out more chairs and they filled up too. Eventually we ended up with about two hundred people. A crowd. Perhaps even a throng.

I read some of the book out loud, which was a new experience for me. We also did some Q & A, which I very much enjoyed, as I love talking about writing. I got a few laughs and avoided walking around with my fly undone, so, as a whole, the experience was a positive one.

Then came the signing. I was a little nervous because of certain penmanship and spelling issues I posses. However, the B & N organizer had everyone sign a little post-it and put it on their book, so when they got to the front of the line, I could personalize the books without having to ask the spelling of names.

I made my way through about 40 or 50 people without any trouble. I'm chatting with people, shaking hands, having a good time. I feel just a little bit like a rockstar. And that, of course, is when I let my guard down.

A woman gets to the front of the line and hands me her book. "Could you inscribe this 'to Helen?' " she asks.

"No problem," I say. I take the post-it off the book and stick it on the table where I can look at it: H-e-l-e-n.

Because I'm feeling pretty good, I try to chat with the woman while I'm signing. As a result, I misspell the name.

I laugh it off and move her book over to the side, replacing it with the book I brought with me to read from. I stop talking and focus my considerable intellect at the task at hand. Using my full concentration, massive brain, and over eleven years of higher education, I'm able to successfully transcribe a five-letter name... the second time around.

So now I'm left with this: a memento of my first signing.

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Yeah. That's all me. Totally rockstar.


pat

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