Monday, December 14, 2009
Auctions: A Professional Critique of Your Manuscript.





This is a Worldbuilders blog.





Last year, as part of the fundraiser, I offered to read people's manuscripts and give them feedback if they made a sizable donation to the Heifer.

The response was much more enthusiastic than I expected. Several people took me up on the offer, with some donations going over three thousand dollars.

So this year I decided to expand things a bit. I've gathered a few professionals willing to donate their critiquing skills to the cause. We're auctioning off one read-and critique from each of them.

My thought is this, with different people to choose from, everyone has a better chance of winning the critique that suits them the best. Also, since we're offering several options, the overall prices should probably be lower this year.

All auctions are starting at the price of one (1) penny. So go ahead and make a bid. Who knows, you might get lucky...

And remember folks, all the proceeds go to improving people's lives all over the world with Heifer International. Personally, I think these would make great Christmas gifts for that hard-to-shop for writer in your life...

[Edit: If your manuscript won't be ready to read for a month or two, that's fine. It's not like you win the auction and have to drop your book in the mail the very next day.

On the other hand, if your manuscript won't be ready for 8 or 9 months. You should probably wait and hope we do this again next year.]

  • A read-and-critique of your manuscript by novelist and industry insider Anton Strout.


I've known Anton for years, and though he happens to be my mortal enemy, I appreciate his willingness to help out Heifer International by donating his time and energy to the cause.

Official description of his critique is as follows:
Anton Strout (author of the Simon Canderous urban fantasy series for Ace Books) will read your manuscript and mark it up as he would his very own, probably with less swearing. He will make notes giving his approach to what you are trying to convey, offer critical suggestions and comment on what you've sent. Please bear in mind that this is in no way a promise or guarantee that your work will be published. What you're paying for is the opinion of someone who has worked for over a decade as a published author.

Anton has worked in both the writer's workshop environment as well as the business side of the industry at one of the major New York publishing houses. He will strive to return his critique to you in a timely fashion which is dependent on his availability due to deadlines with his publisher.
Interested? You can bid on the critique by Anton Strout over here.

  • A read-and-critique of the first 20,000 words of your manuscript by agent Matt Bialer.


Matt is my agent, and I love him to pieces. He worked with me on my book back before we had a publisher. He's all kinds of smart, understands stories, and I can honestly say that if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be where I am today.

You can get more of his professional information HERE.
Matt Bialer (literary agent) will read and evaluate the opening chapters of one manuscript (up to 20,000 words) within three months of submission, not including the last few weeks of December. He will read and critique, and help the author think about the issues that could be raised by editors at publishing houses. He will write a general evaluation of the book, both strengths and weaknesses, but line editing is NOT included. If the book is fantastic or has the potential to be fantastic then offering representation is not out of the question -- but representation is not a guarantee.
Interested? You can bid on this critique from Matt Bialer over here.

  • A read-and-critique of the first 20,000 words of your manuscript by Lindsay Ribar.
(Bam!)

Lindsay is Matt's assistant. That means she reads a lot of manuscripts and works intimately with the publishing world every day. What's more, she does work as a freelance editor. In short, she knows about stories, what sells, and how the industry works. What more could you ask for, really?

Here's the offical description of what she's offering:
Lindsay Ribar (assistant to Matt Bialer, freelance editor) will read and evaluate the opening chapters of one manuscript (up to 20,000 words) within six weeks of submission. She will write a general evaluation of the book, with a focus on character, language, and story structure. Line- and copy-editing are not included. Representation is not a guarantee, but not out of the question either. Lindsay is open to editing all genres of fiction, but keep in mind that the bulk of her experience lies in the realm of YA, fantasy, SF, thrillers, and mysteries.
Interested? You can bid on the critique by Lindsay Ribar over here.

(Me.)

Man. It's hard for me to do these promotional write-ups for myself. Let's see...

Before I became a published writer, I was a teacher for five years. Before that, I was a writing tutor for nine years. So I know something about giving productive feedback on a piece of writing. I've read roughly ten thousand novels, and my first book, the Name of the Wind, is published or forthcoming in 30 languages.

I think about stories all the time and am obsessive about revision. I also have a soothing baritone voice, an IQ in the 160s, and the ability to steal any other mutant's power just by touching them.

Ah hell... See? I can never take these things seriously. Just read the official description below for the details:
Patrick Rothfuss (international bestselling author, lover of women, and hirsute iconoclast) will read your manuscript and give you critical feedback. We'll schedule this based on when your manuscript will be ready and my own schedular constraints.

I'll read through your manuscript, scrawling notes and dirty words in the margins, then I'll call you on the phone and we can discuss it. I won't write you up a detailed critique because that's not how I roll. But we'll probably chat on the phone for a couple of hours discussing the various strengths and weaknesses of the book, your writing craft, and I'll offer any suggestions I might have.

If I think your book is super-awesome, I might be willing to pass it along to someone. But be very aware that what you're buying here is a critique, not a blurb or an introduction to the publishing world. A critique.
Interested? You can bid on the critique by Pat Rothfuss over here.

Remember folks, all these auctions will be ending next Sunday night (December 20th). Time is limited, so if you know someone that might be interested, I'd appreciate you spreading the word...


If you want to head back to the main Worldbuilders page, click HERE.


With thanks to our sponsor, Subterranean Press.


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Thursday, June 4, 2009
Penicillin and Bruce Campbell

About a year ago, I noticed that whenever I do a big signing or a convention with a lot of panels, I end up getting sick as a dog afterwards.

So I started being more careful. I made a point of eating healthy while I'm there. I drink plenty of water and juice. I take vitamins and a zinc supplement. I wash my hands so often it looks like I'm channeling the spirit of Howard Hughes.

And it doesn't make a damn bit of difference. As soon as the convention or signing is over, I get sick. I might as well tongue-kiss everyone I meet at a convention. That way I'd at least feel like I deserved to get sick. Plus the pictures people posted on facebook would be *way* more interesting. Plus kissing is awesome.

What was I talking about?

Oh yeah. My sickness. It turns out I wasn't just being a big sissy baby. I didn't have swine flu, but I did have strep throat. That makes me feel a little better about the fact that I've spent the last week weeping like a little girl and doing shots of chloraseptic like a fratboy on a bet.

*Sigh* You know what sucks about being an experienced writer? The internal editor. Ten years about I would have written that last sentence and moved on with my life whistling merrily.

But now when I write it, I think:

  • This reinforces our negative cultural stereotype that implies women are weak and weepy.
  • This implies that all frat boys are clueless drunken fuck-ups.
  • If I write this, a half dozen people will leave comments saying, "I was the proud member of Epsilon Ometa Whateverthefuck fraternity in college. Not all of us are drunken idiots. My brothers and I maintained a 3.8 GPA, drank nothing but rainwater, and raised money for crippled kittens."

And then I sigh.

Of course, nobody will write in about the subtler, implied slur against women. Which makes me feel worse in some ways.

Don't get me wrong, the internal editor is a useful thing. It keeps me from getting in trouble. (Sometimes.) It makes me a better writer. It makes me a better human being.

But still, it's a shame. "Weeping like a little girl" is a lovely phrase. It really gets my point across. It conveys. And when you apply it to some great hairy bear of a man like me, it's got all sorts of humorous implications.

The same is true with the stereotype of the drunk sideways-cap wearing frat boy. It's a funny thing. It's a useful tool for humor.





The other obvious problem is that it takes so much more time to be a careful writer. Take today's post, for example. I was going to talk about being sick, or about my foreign taxi adventures, or about how great it is to be back home.

And what am I doing instead? Writing a blog about writing a blog. Merciful Buddha forgive me. It makes me long for the days when I was just a punk kid and wrote whatever the hell amused me with no thought for the repercussions.

Well, I promised myself I'd only spend an hour on today's blog. Taxi adventures and other musings will have to wait for a day or so…

Just to give this blog some shred of substance that isn't all meta, I should mention that this weekend I'll be at Florida Supercon in Miami where I plan on gazing adoringly at Bruce Campbell's magnificently sculptured ass.

I'll also be doing a reading, signing books, and all the rest of the usual stuff that I do when I'm Guest of Honor at a convention.

And don't worry, I'm on antibiotics now, so you won't catch strep off me.

pat

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Friday, March 13, 2009
On that which lies between (and The Watchmen)

I have an undeniable tendency to overconsider things. That means that sometimes, some of the things I want to say here end up becoming obsolete before I actually say them.

Like Coraline, for example. I really liked the movie. I wanted to post a blog about why I liked it, and recommend that people check it out. But movies come and go so fast, and I missed my window of opportunity for that one.

Part of the problem with writing these posts is that it's hard for me to shift gears. It's hard for me to post up something serious and involved, then two days later say, "Hey, y'all know what movie is really cool?"

Similarly, a day after I post up a humor column, it doesn't seem really appropriate for me to post up the story of what I thought when I felt the pain in my chest and the tingling down my left arm.

You see, a novel needs continuity, pacing, consistency. I strive for these things, I'm hyper-aware of them. A novel can have funny bits and sweet bits. It can be romantic, dramatic, and horrible. But all those pieces need to come together to form a coherent whole.

It's my belief that this coherency is one of the most important parts of any story. Comic, movie, or book, the medium doesn't matter. I think that strange intangible element makes the difference between a story that's satisfying, and one that isn't.

In fact, now that I'm thinking of it, I think this strange something might actually be the soul of the story. It's the difference between something that is a story, and something that just looks like a story.

You can't just throw together a plot, some characters, some dialogue and some humor onto the page and get a real story. Not a true and vital story. It doesn't work any more than throwing two arms, two legs, a head and bunch of organs into a sack makes a person.

Sure you need a plot, mostly. And you need characters and all the rest. But the story, I think, is the thing that connects these parts. The story is that which lies between.

Bigger stories need more of it. A novel needs it in spades.

Sometimes I wonder about what I write here. Does this collection of musings and anecdotes that I only reluctantly call a blog need that same coherency? I think not. Maybe. Probably. I think.

Still, old habits die hard, and so a lot of times I think of writing something for the blog, but it doesn't seem timely. Other times I actually write something with the intention of posting it up, then decide that the time for it has past. Or I don't post it because it seems odd or incongruent with what I have posting lately.

Hmmmm...

What was I talking about? Oh yes. The Watchmen.





In brief, I liked it. It was fun to watch, largely true to the spirit of the original, and I'd be happy if someone did that good a job bringing something I wrote onto the screen. Not ecstatic, perhaps. But very happy.

Did I have quibbles? Of course I did. The Watchmen was the second comic I read as an adult. I was 22 at the time, and it was a large part of what convinced me that the medium of comics wasn't just a mess of childish bullshit.

I don't believe in spoilers, so I won't give anything away about the plot or the changes they made. Instead, I'll just make some general comments.

I liked...

...the casting. Whoever was responsible for the casting in the movie deserves a full, passionate kiss on the mouth. The acting was brilliant, and the portrayal of many of the characters was truly exceptional.

... the fact that the movie was subtle and clever. I am a fan of subtle and clever.

... the visuals. Normally I could give a care about things like that. But many of these were truly fantastic. Very true to the comic while at the same time adding to the overall tone of the movie.

... the acting. So good on all fronts. I can't remember the actor's name who played the comedian, but he rang my bell. Every role I've seen him in he's been great.

... seeing Dr. Manhattan's great naked blue dick dangling all over the place. Huzzah.


I disliked...

... the loss of moral ambiguity the original story possessed.

... the portrayal of Ozymandias. Not the acting, mind you. The overall portrayal.


As I've said I don't go in for spoilers. So that's all I'll say here. Maybe I'll chime in with a more specific comment or two below. If you hate spoilers, you'll probably want to avoid the comments section, as I expect there will be some heated and specific discussion.

Is the movie worth seeing? Absolutely. But you should really read the graphic novel too. It's brilliant. It's clever. It's full of that which lies between.

Later all,

pat

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Thursday, February 26, 2009
Concerning the Release of Book Two
Huzzah.














Okay folks, here's the deal....

Whatever release date you've heard for book two is simply untrue. There is no release date because the book isn't finished yet. I'm working on it right now. Or rather, I would be working on it if I wasn't writing this blog.

Yeah. It sucks. I wish it was finished too. My life would be really great right now if book two were done.

I've been avoiding writing this blog for a while. It's not fun to write, and it's not going to be fun for most people to read. The truth is, I'd much rather work on the book.

But recently, a remarkably courteous and lucid e-mail from a fan made me realize that a lot of people out there are more curious than pissed about it.

So. There's the news. The Wise Man's Fear won't be out for a while. This won't come as a surprise to many of you. Especially those who know not to trust everything Amazon says. Plus, I've been pretty open about the fact that I'm still working on revisions.

You see, even if I finished the book today and it was perfect, it couldn't be on the shelves by April. It takes a long time to get a book into print. Months and months. There are a lot of steps.

Since many of you will be disappointed by this news, I figure the least I can do is explain why it's taking so long.

If you don't care about that, skip down to the bottom and check out "The Upside." That's the good news.

For the curious among you, here are some of the reasons My revisions are taking so long.


My book is long.

Over the last six weeks, I have written roughly 60,000 words. Pretty good words if I do say so myself.

To give you a bit of perspective, there are entire novels that are only 60,000 words long. Stardust, for example. Coraline was only 30,000 words long. (I mention these two because I just listened to an interview with Neil Gaiman.)

That means that since the beginning of the year, I've already written an entire novel's worth of text.

The Name of the Wind is bigger than that. It was over 250,000 words. The Wise Man's Fear is looking to be even longer, maybe more than 300,000 words.

Why did my book need these 60,000 words? Well, I realized part of the book wasn't as well-developed and satisfying as it needed to be. It needed more action, more tension, more detail. It needed to be re-worked, expanded and generally betterized.

It took 60,000 words to do the job. My book effectively ate an entire novel's worth of text. A short novel, admittedly. But still, it gives a sense of perspective.



My book is different.

In case you hadn't noticed, the story I'm telling is a little different. It's a little shy on the Aristotelian unities. It doesn't follow the classic Hollywood three-act structure. It's not like a five-act Shakespearean play. It's not like a Harlequin romance.

So what *is* the structure then? Fuck if I know. That's part of what's taking me so long to figure out. As far as I can tell, my story is part autobiography, part hero's journey, part epic fantasy, part travelogue, part faerie tale, part coming of age story, part romance, part mystery, part metafictional-nested-story-frame-tale-something-or-other.

I am, quite frankly, making this up as I go. If I get it right, I get something like The Name of the Wind. Something that makes all of us happy.

But if I fuck it up, I'll end up with a confusing tangled mess of a story.

Now I'm not trying to claim that I'm unique in this. That I'm some lone pioneer mapping the uncharted storylands. Other authors do it too. My point is that doing something like this takes more time that writing another shitty, predictable Lord of the Rings knockoff.

Sometimes I think it would be nice to write a that sort of book. It would be nice to be able to use those well-established structures like a sort of recipe. A map. A paint-by-numbers kit.

It would be so much easier, and quicker. But it wouldn't be a better book. And it's not really the sort of book I want to write.


I'm still pretty new to all of this.

Two years ago, I was a part-time teacher. I was poor, obscure, and pretty content to stay that way. I learned to write as a happy, carefree nobody. No deadlines. No editors. No stress.

Since then I have somehow become an international bestselling author. I've paid off my credit card debt. I own a house. I own a car. I get fanmail and invitations to conventions.

And, honestly, for big parts of this time I have been pretty miserable.

The reason for this is Psyke 101 simple. Stress is caused by change, and the last two years of my life have been nothing but change. Some bad. Some good. But it all boils down to the stress of suddenly having a completely different life.

It's taken me the better part of these two years to get my feet under me again. It's been hard for me to get back to the familiar headspace where my good writing happens.

I'm glad to say I seem to have finally made it. My writing is finally going well. I've made great additions to the book over the last three months, where before that when I sat down to write it was like masturbating with a cheese grater. (Vaguely amusing, but mostly painful.)

Not only do I seem to be back in my happy place, but I've managed to do it without destroying my relationship, developing a substance abuse problem, or getting all twisted up and bitter inside. I'm pretty pleased about that.

Best of all, I feel like myself again. But it was a long, slow while in coming.


I am obsessive.

A week or so ago, I wrote a sentence that wasn't quite right. It bothered me like a popcorn husk stuck in the back of my throat. The problem was the word 'girlish.' It wasn't the right word. Close, but not right.

I thought about it when I went to bed that night. I thought about it in the shower. And the next day when I was driving into town to buy groceries it came to me. 'Childlike.' That was it. The perfect word.

You need to understand that I am a freak, and words are just the tip of the iceberg. The order of scenes, characterization, tension and subplot. I obsess about these things. I don't want them good. I want them perfect.

I like to think this obsessive attention to every little thing is a part of what makes my books worth reading twice. Worth telling your friends about. Worth writing smutty yaoi fanfic about. But it takes time.

One word down. 299,999 to go.


I have a life.

Last but not least, I do have a life.

I have everyday things that need doing. I have a sidewalk to shovel, a lawn to rake, groceries to buy, and dishes to do. These things take time.

Okay. I lie. Sarah does the dishes.

I have a job. Part of that is writing book two, true. But part of it is also working with my foreign translators. We've sold The Name of the Wind in 27 countries so far, and there are a lot of seemingly innocent things in the first book that are important later on. I have to try to make sure these things are not lost in translation. That takes time.

Part of my job is also going to conventions, doing readings or workshops. I have taxes to manage. (And I fucked that up this year, let me tell you.) Part of my job is talking with movie people, or game people, or comic book people. This takes time.

Also, I like to have fun. I have a girlfriend who is good at kissing. I like to play boardgames. I enjoy role playing, though I don't get much chance these days. I like reading books and watching movies. These things are important. Without them I would become a dry, joyless husk of a man.

A dry, joyless husk cannot write a book that is full of wonderful things.



"Gee Pat, what can I do to help?"

Goodness. What a considerate question. Thanks for asking.

In concrete terms, there's not much you can do to speed book two along. Ultimately, nobody can write it but me.

That said, it would be nice if everyone was conscious of the fact that I am a person, not a whirling machine that does nothing but churn out EFP.

It would also be nice if folks avoided bitching to me about the delay. It's really counterproductive. I actually do read all my e-mail and the comments on my blog. When someone goes out of their way to snipe and bitch at me... Well, the best possible outcome is that it makes me tired and depressed.

At worst it makes me think things like, "You little fucker, I'll be damned if I write you a book! I'm going to play Spore for 15 hours just to spite you!"

Now I'm not saying you can't be pissed. Feel free. And I'm not saying you shouldn't express those honest emotions. Don't keep it bottled up. It's not healthy.

What I *am* asking is that you don't bring your frothy rage round here to my house. Screed away on your own blog, curse my name on a discussion board, punch your pillow. By all means, vent your spleen. Just don't vent it at me. It makes me hurty inside.

I say that as a joke, but like most jokes it has a grain of truth to it. That's the reason I've turned the comments off for this blog. I know they would break down roughly like this:

30 considerate, supportive comments.
20 touching, heartfelt comments.
15 funny comments
10 comments saying, "Meh, I already knew."
5 passive-aggressive snarks masquerading as one of the above.
1 comment from some anonymous frothy dickhole.

And you know which comment I'd focus on? Yeah. The last one. It would sit there like a steaming turd in my bowl of cereal. It doesn't matter how delicious the cereal is. It could be Fruity Pebbles, or even Cookie Crisp. But in a situation like this it doesn't matter. You can't just eat around it. All you can do is focus on the turd.

That's why I've turned the comments off for today. I'm really fond of y'all. Over this last year, interacting with my readers has been one of the true, rare joys in my life. You have shown yourselves to be intelligent, funny, and generous. And many of you continuously surprise me with how are gracious and kind-hearted you can be. Many of you are enthusiastic to the point where it gives me a tingle.

I'm not just glad to have you as readers, I'm proud to have you as readers. You are my Cookie Crisp, and I don't want one turd to spoil how I feel about you.

Good lord. I'm pretty sure I just wrote a completely new sentence. I'd be willing to bet what I just wrote up there has never, ever been said before in the history of history. Hallmark should turn that into a Sweetest Day card. I'd buy one.

Okay. We good here? Yeah. We're good. Let's move on to....


The upside.

A while back, I was thinking to myself, "This fictional release date is going to cause problems. My lovely readers will be powerfully ensaddened. What could I possibly do to ease the sting of it a little?"

Then someone sent me a link to something Brandon Sanderson was doing.

So here is the silver lining. I'm going to hold a lottery, and the winner will get to have their name in book two. Maybe your name, or your mom's, or your kid's. Your choice.

Now I'm not saying that I'll stick *any* name in. If your WOW character is named Wonkerbee Bumchuck, it just won't work. But I'm sure the two of us will be able to get to a place where you're happy, and the name is a welcome addition to The Wise Man's Fear rather than something that compromises the integrity of the story.

I'm still working out the mechanics. But it will be free, and it will be open for everyone. When I get all the details worked out, I'll make an announcement here on the blog.

This is my way of apologizing for the delay. It's also my way of thanking you all for being gracious and patient with me. This I appreciate more than words can say.


Fondly,

pat

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Thursday, June 26, 2008
Japanese Covers


So just a couple days ago, guess what came out?







(Click to Embiggen)


That's right - It's the Japanese version of the book.

I really like this interpretation of Kvothe. He's young. He's got some attitude going on. His hair is more manga than I typically picture it, but it's totally appropriate for the Japanese market. Plus, Kvothe himself says, "When left to its own devices it tends to make me look as if I've been set afire." So there you go.

This translation of the book was different in a lot of ways. For one thing, bringing the book into Japanese is much more difficult than, say, Dutch, or German. Not that every language doesn't pose its own problems. But there's just a lot of different cultural things going on, and the languages aren't really similar at all.

I'm guessing it's partly because of this that instead of one, I had a team of three Japanese translators working on the book. They were really great. They asked a lot of good questions, and included me in the decision making process. I like it when the translators ask questions or press me for clarification.

You see, when I wrote the book, I made a point not to over-describe everything. I also tried to make the book very full... of stuff.

Yeah. That's great. My book is full of stuff. They should put that on the cover: "The Name of the Wind - It's full of stuff."

What I mean is that I didn't want to club the reader over the head with everything. My strategy was to make sure that every page had enough cool things in it than if you missed half of them, you'd still have a good time. That means there's stuff for you to enjoy the second time around. That means you can like the book in a different way than your friend. And it means if you're a careful reader, you'll get more out of the book.

So I'm fine if the average reader doesn't get everything I put into the book. I expect that. I planned on it.

But if a translator doesn't notice something that I've put into the book very subtly, that's different. If they don't catch it, it can't be brought into the new version. And that's a problem, obviously. But these translators were really on the ball, and I'm guessing that not a lot slipped through the cracks with them.

There's another big difference in the Japanese edition. Apparently big, thick books aren't really the norm over there. So they broke this first book into three separate volumes. That means three separate covers for the first book....





Nice hands. Can you tell what scene this is?






And number three. Check out the dracus in the background. I would not want to fuck around with that thing.

I've been reading the comments and suggestions for future contests, and my gears are slowly turning. But more on that later. For now, I'm off to write.

pat


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Monday, May 5, 2008
Interviewing Felicia


Over the last year, I've given a lot of interviews. I haven't counted, but I'm guessing there have been somewhere between thirty and forty.

Generally speaking, I enjoy them. I have a strong oracular element in my personality, which means that when people ask me questions, I feel moved, compelled even, to answer them.

But that's only half the story. I'm also a big asker of questions. I have a vast curiosity about all manner of things.

Combine this with my profound geekery, and you can understand why, when I got the opportunity to interview the fabulous and talented Felicia Day, I jumped at the chance.

Behold the result....

------------







So tell us a little bit about yourself....

I'm a professional actor (meaning I pay the bills solely with acting work, cross fingers) and I've lived in Los Angeles for almost 8 years now. I moved here after going to the University of Texas at Austin and getting Mathematics and Violin degrees. Natural progression to acting, don't you think?

I consider myself a "Jennifer of all trades" meaning I do a LOT of things PRETTY well. It's not a good long-term plan, but it's my personality.


Okay, I'll take the bait. If you started as a mathematician and violinist, what prompted you to make the transition into acting?

I got a bad tendentious in my left pinky during college which caused me a lot of pain when I played. I had to get cortisone shots in the joint to keep playing. (It actually hurts when I play too much Guitar Hero now, LOL). That, combined with the narrow reality of a professional classical musician's career choices, made me decide to focus on the other thing that brought me joy after college: Acting!

I also feel obliged to mention for all my fellow geeks out there, that one of your acting gigs was in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Felicia here played Vi in season seven.

So what have you been up to lately?

Recently my focus has been on creating web content. I'm the creator of the web series called "The Guild," which is about a group of online gamers.


It's awesome on toast, and I'm not the only one who thinks so, as it recently won a bunch of fabulous awards, too. How did you get involved in working on that?


I created the show as a half-hour television pilot after I shook a two year addiction to World of Warcraft. People read the script, thought it was funny, but thought it was too "niche" for TV because it's about a group of online gamers. My friend and producing partner Kim Evey had just had fabulous success with her own YouTube videos, so after reading my script, she suggested we do it for the internet. We shot the first two episodes with our producer, Jane Selle Morgan, on our own dime, and after that we've been wholly supported by viewer donations through Paypal! It's pretty cool. Like PBS for online web series.


Hold on. You actually quit WOW? You don't play at all anymore?


Well, up until a month or so I did. I actually re-upped my account to see if I could play a normal amount of time (and to do some "research" for the show, haha). I had to quit cold turkey in the beginning though, it was consuming my life. I would move any WOW related tasks to the front of the queue, over career and family even. It got bad. Thankfully, my experience playing now is much more casual. I've only logged on a few times in a the whole month and it was easy to log off again after a few hours, keeping it short and sweet and playing with friends. Cross fingers I can sustain that!


In addition to playing the female lead in The Guild (Codex) you also write the script. Is this your first experience with screenwriting? Is it something that you're interested in pursuing more of in the future?

I have 4 or 5 scripts written... halfway. The Guild was the first one I actually finished and rewrote and polished. It took an amazing amount of sheer will to get it on the page because I haven't been writing since I was a kid like most accomplished writers. I absolutely admire writers more because of the whole process. I can't believe YOU got through so many HUNDRED pages with your book! Phenomenal!!


Well... I didn't write the whole book straight through, you know. I stopped around page 450 to get a sandwich and use the bathroom.

How do you go about your own writing?

The key for me was letting myself write badly at first in order to have something to rewrite and make better later on. I constantly have to beat down a perfectionist voice in my head. It holds me back in a lot of areas. Thankfully, the success (and fun) of writing the Guild has encouraged me to start writing other things and pursuing writing more seriously. I have several projects in the works now for TV and film. Getting them done is my main goal this summer!


Ooooh. I'm all tantalized. Can you tell us anything about your other projects?


They're still in the development stages, but one is a half-hour comedy, and the other is my ATTEMPT to add more fantasy into the hour-long genre. We'll see if it works!


One of the hardest parts of being a writer is actually trying to sell the book. A lot of authors spend years racking up rejections. Is the auditioning process similar to that?

Ooooh yes. It's even worse (well, from my perspective!) After you send in your book and get rejected, at least you get your book back and can take it other places. As an actor, you go in and do your interpretation of a role, and when you're rejected, they give it to someone else. It's not a judgment that you're necessarily bad, you just aren't what they're looking for, but it's hard not to take it personally. The mechanics of the actor's audition process is grueling, and I never ever will get to the point where I'm not anxious and nervous when I go in to read for a part.


Though it fills me with shame, I constantly check my Amazon Sales rank to see how well my book is selling. Most authors admit to doing the same thing. Is there anything similar that actors do?

Of course! Ratings are a #1 topic of conversation with anyone in the industry! Personally, I check my hits on YouTube a lot, especially the first few days after we post a video. The immediate feedback of the internet is pretty gratifying (and horrific depending on the comments : ) ) I have Google Alerts set up on my name and the show name and other phrases to constantly update me on what the web is saying about me/the show. After a while you get a much thicker skin, haha.


What sorts of things have people said over the years? Can you give us an example of something that's really gotten under your skin?

I really hate the racist comments against my cast members, I remove all those comments immediately. It's surprising how many they actually are, especially after we get featured on the front page of YouTube.

I also am irritated when people make fun of us for only putting out an episode a month, implying we're lazy or something. It touches on the part of me that is frustrated we don't have the budget or means to do them any quicker, but also shows that a lot of people don't understand what it takes to make a 5 minute short that looks much better than the average video. We don't just have one guy holding the camera, we have a real crew, who are all professionals, and who are working for free or near free. Hopefully for the next season that will not be an issue, as we're talking with several people who are interested in financing the show.


What's the weirdest fan moment you've ever had?

Well, I actually interact with fans on an everyday basis because I'm so wedded to the internet, so fan communication is actually a two way street with me and I generally ask fans for more stuff than they do of me! But the best experience I've had recently is when I visited Austin, and my brother and Dad and I went to Bed Bath and Beyond together to get a bath mat of all things, and a guy who worked there came up and asked me if I was Codex. Right in front of my Dad, which was so cool because not only did I create that character myself from scratch, my Dad got to see the reality that what I'm doing is "known". It was a great feeling.


You recently got to work with Joss Whedon on "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog." What can you tell us about that?


I can tell you that it's going to be make a lot of people want to sing after hearing the music. Joss and his brothers Zack and Jed and Jed's fiance Maurissa wrote the show together to go on the internet in three parts. Joss had seen The Guild and had been percolating the idea of an internet musical for a while, and he said that watching the Guild was a part of the inspiration to get it done; that and the strike.


Hold on. You inspired Joss Whedon?


He said it was a PART of what spurred the work on Dr. Horrible. Don't make it seem like I'm claiming too much credit for it!! I worked with him on Buffy a few years ago and was crazy lucky enough for him to hire me for the part of Penny. I can't tell you what a fabulous experience it was working on it, the script and songs are fantastic! For someone in Joss' position to do something this experimental is great because not only is it going to be a huge success, it's going to make people look at internet content in a new way. I can't wait for it to be released!


Do you have a date for that?


I believe he said it will be released on the internet before Comicon.


Okay. I have to ask. Is Joss Whedon as cool as I think he is?


Yes, he's worthy of every kind of crush you could develop, I hate to say it. He's one of the most creative people I've ever met and he has a good and true heart. A real gentleman and a pleasure to be around.


Oh good. I have such a crush. I'm one tiny step away from setting up a little shrine in my house. It's only through a supreme effort of will that I've kept myself from doing something extreme to get him a copy of my book. I don't want to be that guy....


Let's say the impossible happens and The Name of the Wind gets made into a movie. We both agree it would be dreamy if Joss Whedon wrote or directed it, but what would your ideal cast be if you got your pick?

OMG that's hard, I'd have to read it again to refresh (the paperback is by my bed just for that purpose actually, haha!!)

Kvothe = Damien Lewis or a young version of him. (Life cop show, Band of Brothers) Jesse Tyler Ferguson also came to mind? (The Class)

Bast = the guy from American Beauty, Wes Bentley (What happened to him?)

Denna = Kiera Knightly or Natalie Portman definitely. Or the girl from Serenity: Morena Baccarin?


Oooh. Good picks. I hadn't ever thought of Morena Baccarin as Denna....

Would you have any interest in playing a part yourself?


My dream role would be Auri. I like playing damaged goods, haha.


So you live in LA, where everyone is beautiful. What happens when you take a trip to somewhere like Wisconsin. Is it traumatic looking at us regular folks?

That's funny! It is true that LA is filled with freakily beautiful people. I feel a lot prettier when I go out of town because the bar is set SOO high here! In LA I'm considered for the "plain" or "homely" characters mostly, I get called in for every one of those roles. They end up being more fun to play in the end, so I definitely don't mind. But going back to Austin and dressing up and getting head turns, that's pretty fun too, haha!


What's the worst part of the whole actor gig?

Auditioning. It's the most important part of the career, but you don't know that going into it. You have to consider auditioning the sole (unpaid) function of an acting career. When you actually get hired, that's the exception. And it's the thing that keeps you going, of course: Those moments when you're on set and working. There's nothing like it!


Any advice for aspiring actors and actresses out there?


Don't expect someone to pick you up off the street and make you a star: That's like winning the lottery. Make your own work. It will fill your hours with fulfillment and also lead to things you'd never expect.


Like with The Guild?


Yes! Like me with "The Guild"!


-----------


In a gesture of inspiring largess, Felicia has said that she's willing to give away 10 autographed photos to folks out there that would like one. Well, eleven pictures, if you're counting mine....

If you'd like to be part of the random drawing for one of those pictures, why don't you send me an e-mail at paperback.contest {swirly at symbol} gmail.com with your mailing address. We'll leave the drawing open until... say... May 12th.

Lastly, today marks the end of the paperback photo contest. I have to say that the response has been beyond anything I could have reasonably expected. There have been so many submissions that it's going to take me at least a week just to sort them out, judge the best of them, and award some prizes.

That means if you spaced out and forgot to send your entry in, you can probably sneak it in tomorrow and I'll pretend to be too busy sorting to notice....

Later all,

pat

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posted by Pat at 16 Comments



Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Ask the Author #3: Dark Poetry.
Pat,

I'd like to ask about a subject close to my heart:

How do you feel about poetry? Have you ever written any? What is your favorite kind? and in particular how do you feel about Dark Poetry?


Oh and do you feel that getting poems published is maybe easier/harder then publishing a book?

N-


Generally speaking, I like poetry. Specifically, it's more of a love/hate relationship. I love some types, but a great portion of does nothing but irritate me.

I've written poetry in the past and enjoyed it. I believe that if an author loves language and words, then poetry can teach a great deal about how to use those words effectively.

True, all authors use words, but not all authors focus on making them beautiful. Shakespeare loved words, so did Roger Zelazny and Angela Carter. Ray Bradbury also has what I consider a poetical turn of phrase, by which I mean that the language itself it beautiful, regardless of content, character, or cleverness.

Some authors just don't play that word game. They care more about story, or plot, or character, or... I dunno, unicorns or making money. I'm not being critical here. Those things are important. Those authors can still write good stories, there's no denying that.

But my favorite authors love words AND character AND story... and sometimes unicorns, I guess.

Even if you aren't a word-centric writer, poetry can teach you a lot. You know how everyone talks about Hemmingway learning his tight style by writing for newspapers? I think people can learn the same economy of phrase from poetry. In an 80,000 word novel you have space to waste. But in a twelve line poem you need to make every word pay for itself twice. Ideally, poetry is all about the efficient, affective, well-crafted line. Any author will benefit from learning lessons in that vein.

Unfortunately, a lot of poets these days don't give a damn about a well-crafted line. They think poetry is about getting drunk or wasted and then vomiting their emotions onto a page. These people idolize Ginsberg and Bukowski, but they don't realize that those poets used an amazing amount of craft in their work.

Where were we....? Oh, Do I like Dark Poetry?

Honestly, I don't really know what you mean by Dark Poetry. If Dark Poetry is a pages-long free-form rambling discursion on the angsty emoness of a person's life.... then probably not. Generally speaking those folks have different poetic goals than I do. There's not much attention to the beauty of the language, which is where my heart lies.

In terms of publishing, I never really tried to get my poetry published in any professional way. But I can make a general statement that I'm reasonably sure is true: the difficulty involved depends on where you're looking to get published. If you're trying to hit the big dozen poetry venues where they pay serious money and you get real fame for being there, then it's going to be hard. Same with publishing, the A-list venues and big publishing houses are like unassailable mountains where you really need a friend on the inside or some really remarkable writing to get in. (Or both, ideally.)

But if all you're looking for is to see your work in print and have it read by people, there are a lot of smaller venues that do a nice job publishing people's writing. Not much money or fame, but it can be a good place to start.

Good lord, I thought this was going to be a short post. Sorry for my long windedness. I'll get to a few other questions later, and, as brevity is the soul of wit, I'll try to be brief.

pat

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posted by Pat at 3 Comments



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