Category Archives: Fuck Cancer

A Little Something to Tide You Over…..

Want to hear something strange?

My first short story ever has just been published.

I didn’t even realize it until just now, as I sat down to write this blog. But it’s the truth.

Here’s the thing. I’ve been published in anthologies before. That happened long ago in 2002 with Writers of the Future Vol 18. That was the publication that got me started.

My piece in that anthology was called “The Road to Levinshir.”

But it wasn’t really a short story.

For one thing, if you want to be nit-picky, it was 14,000 words, and that makes it a novella. Or a novelette, to be precise.

But the bigger issue is that the “story” in addition to being not short, wasn’t really even a story. By which I mean it wasn’t a self-contained discrete entity unto itself. It was an excerpt from my as-then unpublished novel, which bore the embarrassing title “The Song of Flame and Thunder.”

(Most of you have read a much-revised piece of this story in its proper context, as a part of The Wise Man’s Fear.)

Later, people asked me if I’d like to reprint that story. Since I’d revised it fairly substantially, my response was pretty much, “Woo! Someone wants to print my stuff!”

Levinshir anthologies

All three of these anthologies contain versions of “The Road to Levinshir” (Or “Levenshir” depending on my mood.)

But as I’ve already mentioned, it wasn’t really a proper short story.

My first proper published short story has just come out in Unfettered.

cover-unfettered

I mentioned it on the blog a while back, letting people know they could pre-order it. But that was more than half a year ago. A lot has happened since then.

This is an anthology where a bunch of authors pitched in stories to help out a friend, Shawn Speakman. He was was having trouble with his medical bills after getting cancer, beating it, then getting a whole *different* type of cancer years later when no health insurance would cover him.

Here’s a list of the authors involved.

Terry Brooks
Patrick Rothfuss
Naomi Novik
Brandon Sanderson
RA Salvatore
Tad Williams
Jacqueline Carey
Daniel Abraham
Peter V. Brett
Robert VS Redick
Peter Orullian
Todd Lockwood
Carrie Vaughn
Blake Charlton
Kevin Hearne
Mark Lawrence
David Anthony Durham
Jennifer Bosworth
Lev Grossman
Michael J. Sullivan
Eldon Thompson
Shawn Speakman

Seriously. That’s a hell of a line-up. I couldn’t hope for better company.

My story is set in the four corners world. It’s called, “How Old Holly Came to Be.”

It’s not like anything I’ve ever written before. By which I mean it’s short, and I finished it before my deadline.

I kid. I kid. What I really mean is that it’s a very different sort of story.

You can order the book in all manner of formats over here on Shawn’s website.

Or, if you like, you can buy a copy off the Tinker’s Packs.

I’m not going to lie to you, if you buy a copy in our online store, it’s going to be more expensive. But that’s because not only is money going to Shawn, but money is going to Worldbuilders, too.

But to make up for the expense, I’ll happily sign it for you. And in addition to helping two good causes, you’ll know that you’re getting a first edition copy. Shawn printed fewer than 10,000 of these from what I understand, and I don’t know if or when there will ever be another print run. So it’s kinda a grab-them-while-you-can sort of situation….

And if you’re feeling extra bookish, we’ve got a scattering of signed books from other authors we’ve thrown up recently in The Tinker’s Packs as well. Most of those we only have a a few of, so when they’re gone, they’re gone.

Have a good weekend,

pat

Also posted in The Tinker's Packs, upcoming publications | By Pat85 Responses

My Terrible Surprise – The Dreaded High School Novel

A couple days ago, Mary Robinette Kowal asked if I’d care to donate an act of whimsy to a fundraiser she was planning to Sequence Jay Lake’s Cancer.

I said I’d be happy to, and she put me in as their $17,500 goal, tucked between Scalzi and Gaiman like the ham in a coolness sandwich.

I had a couple ideas for what I could do, but wasn’t sure what would sound best, so I told Mary to put me down for “A terrible surprise.”

I figured I’d have at least a week or two before I had to come up with anything. Plenty of time for me to wrap up my own fundraiser, finish a story I have due, and do my amazingly good Kermit the Frog impression singing Rainbow Connection.

Or maybe I’d dig out my Dr Horrible lab coat and engage in a little mad science on my webcam…

Then Mary launched her fundraiser raised more than 20,000 in a single day.

Which was cool. Don’t get me wrong. But it meant I owed them something whimsical NOW.

Unfortunately, I have a bit of a cold right now, so singing is out. And all my glassware is boxed up in the basement. So I decided I’d post up a poem I wrote twenty years ago when I’d first started reading Terry Pratchett. It was called “A Wizard’s Staff has a Knob on the End.”

Despite the fact that I wrote it ages ago, and I can still remember the first few lines:

Oh wizard’s staffs are long and hard and known throughout the land.
A sight to heed, and fear indeed, is a wizard, staff in hand.
 

It’s everything you’d expect, a long, metrical double entendre. Fanfic I wrote before I knew what fanfic was….

Here’s the problem. I can’t find it. Not in my computer files, and not in the hoarder-esque boxes of old writing I keep squirreled away. Not anywhere.

But I did find something else. A piece of the novel I wrote in high-school.

While it isn’t terribly whimsical in and of itself, I’ll post it up here in a whimsical way, laying open my secret shame for everyone to see.

For you youngsters out there, this is what a dot matrix printout looks like. It’s the closest thing to a cuneiform tablet you’ll ever see.

I started this novel when I was 15-16. It’s the characters are D&D characters created by me and my friends.

This is the start of chapter 4. Don’t worry about being brought into the middle of things. So far the novel has consisted of two flashbacks and a dream sequence. The only action has been our three intrepid adventurers (A barbarian, a dwarf, and a Cat-Man samurai) have moved from one bar to another and  been given a quest by a monk named Dron.

Brace yourselves….

*     *     *

     Lambernath, the all seeing, stood wiping his clean oak bar with his clean, white, linen cloth. As his hand continued it’s unceasing movement it’s owner watched the four figures at the bar and silently gave thanks that there was more to be seeing lately.

     His eyes slowly passed over them all in turn, first the self proclaimed monk, Dron, who had sat waiting at his bar for nearly a week for a band of adventurers to respond to the leaflets that he had posted all over the town. Lambernath knew how anxious he was for help after the many long hours slowly sipping wine in the Cask. Lambernath had known when the trio of adventurers came in that the monk would do everything he could to sign them up.

     Still polishing, Lambernath looked over the dwarf sitting next to Dron. He seemed to be the stereotypical dwarf, his beard was more jet than silver and bristled out from his face and hung down to his waist. His commonplace chain mail hauberk hung to his knees and hooded his head, nothing surprising, as a matter of fact he had seldom seen an adventuring dwarf clad in anything else. His weapons though smaller than the battle axes that so many dwarves preferred were axes nonetheless. His ruddy complexion, fondness of ale, long pointed nose, the swagger and boisterous manner all perfectly dwarven. ‘If I saw him in a room full of mercenaries I wouldn’t notice him at all.’ All of these things viewed together make what a dwarf is expected to be, but it was too perfect and thus suspect.

     Lambernath shook his head as if to clear it, and chastised himself for thinking too much. “Just a dwarf,” he though, “they’ve never been much for originality anyway.”

     Following in dwarven tradition, instead of hammering out the details of the deal Deverax preceded to get hammered.

     Dismissing the dwarf from his mind, the magic user turned his attention to the two oddly matched friends that sat, huddled together. One was dressed in simple leathers, unremarkable except for their size. Occasionally they creaked as Kahn’s muscles bulged when he gestured to emphasize something he was saying. Lambernath strained to hear what they were talking about, but their speech was nonsense, unlike any of the half dozen languages he was fluent in, or another dozen that he could recognize.

     The other’s garb was foreign, and though the eyes of Lambernath the all seeing had beheld many things, they had never seen anything like what the black cloth mask and half cloak hid. His curiosity piqued, he brought to memory every reference to human/animal crossbreeding he could. But nothing matched up. The magic required to make a mating between two different species would be enormous. And the result would probably be much more animal than human. Lycanthropy seemed out too, the change from human to animal was quick and at both human and animal stages the lycanthrope was virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.

     After a long moment of deep thought on the subject Lambernath gave it up as another one of the many things that he would probably never know.
The three seemed to be well prepared on the physical side of the adventure, But it was always a good plan to have a cleric or a mage along on an adventure. Or, if you could manage it, both. This group had neither, and aside from the obvious magical benefits that come with a wizardly companion, it was good to have someone along to do the heavy thinking. Fighters never were much good at that.

     “Admit it.” Lambernath said to himself, “You want to go with them, you’ve tried the life of an innkeeper and it bores you!” But another part of him wanted to stay where he was, where it was safe. This part had been stung by the dwarf’s remarks about mages. Meant to goad Dron, the bars had hit home with Lambernath instead. Finally he decided on a course of action, he would make his availability known and wait to see what happened. But they would have to ask him, his wounded pride demanded that much.

     Lambernath turned to the dwarf, obviously the leader of the group. His mind working out the perfect thing to say to him. Something that would suggest his availability without making it seem as if they couldn’t handle the adventure themselves (even though they couldn’t) , something that wouldn’t make it seem as if he really wanted to go (even though he did), and most importantly something to appear to the dwarf’s rough nature. In the second that this took, Lambernath turned to Deverax to find that the dwarf was staring intently at him. Cool and calculating, the dwarf’s icy blue eyes showed no hint of the ale that Lambernath had seen him consume.

     Lambernath started to wonder how long the dwarf had been watching him while he had been watching the dwarf’s friends. The carefully thought out words lay forgotten and unused, indeed useless under that gaze.

     They’ll do just fine without me, Lambernath though. He dropped his eyes to the hand that still polished the bar. He stopped the hand and turned his back on the bar. When he spoke his voice was oddly subdued.

     “More ale, anyone?”

*     *     *

Ahhh…. The terrible commas. The recurrent it’s ~ its mistakes. The obsessive internal monologue. The over-description. The cloying reek of cliche….

Best of all, you should know that Lambernath wasn’t a main character in the book. He wasn’t even a secondary character. He was just the innkeeper. The next day everyone left the inn and you never saw him again. He had no business being a POV character.

Simply said, it’s a train wreck.

Here’s the thing. Am I glad I wrote this book? Were the hundreds of hours I spent slaving away at it worthwhile?

Absolutely.

The whole purpose of your early writing is to make mistakes so you can get them out of your system. That’s what first novels are for.

You can see a few good ideas in there, desperately struggling to raise their heads out of the morass of mistake. I was trying to build mystery. (The cat man was actually a Kensai with a magical curse in his past.) I was trying (and failing) to figure out what a plot was.

And I was trying to show that while the dwarf *looked* cliche, there was something more to him that just a stereotype. It was my first fumbling attempt to twist a genre trope into something fresh and new. Not that I knew what the word “trope” meant back then….

And of course, you can see that Lambernath contains the seeds of a very, very early proto-Kvothe.

 (Photo Courtesy of Deviantart.)

If I hadn’t written that terrible book. If I hadn’t made the pointless decision to have the characters move from one bar to another. If I hadn’t foolishly switched POV to focus on a character that was utterly useless to the story, I might never have written Kvothe. Which pretty much means The Name of the Wind wouldn’t exist.

Anyway, I hope y’all have found this at least slightly amusing. Thanks so much for helping out Jay.

*     *     *

And if any of y’all are still feeling altruistic, you could always check out my fundraiser: Worldbuilders. We’re giving away thousands of books to encourage people to donate to charity.

You can click here if you’re interested in the details.

Also posted in Dr. Horrible, fanfic, My checkered past, Stories about stories., the craft of writing | By Pat24 Responses

FAQ: Why haven’t you been posting on your blog?

Well, it looks like this blog isn’t going to write itself, so I guess I should just get it over with. Like tearing off a Band-Aid….

My dad has cancer.

That’s the reason I haven’t been writing in the blog for the last two months. It’s also the reason that I’ve canceled the European book tour I had planned for November.

That’s the short version. There’s more details below for people who want them.

Why am I writing about this on my blog?

1. I feel like people deserved an explanation.

When I canceled my European tour, it ended up inconveniencing and disappointing a lot of people. I had signings and interviews set up in England, France, The Netherlands, Germany, and Spain.

I figured I owed them more than a vague, “Mr. Rothfuss had to cancel due to personal reasons.”

Along similar lines, I haven’t been good about answering my e-mail these last couple months. There have been long delays and lost messages. A lot of you send in cool pictures for the photo contest and never saw the results that I’d promised on the blog.

I figured y’all deserved an explanation too….

2. To prevent gossip and rumormongoring.

When I stopped posting on my blog, the Facebook fan page, and Google+ people started asking questions. They wrote posts and sent me e-mails asking what was up. Not long after that, people started posting theories about what was wrong, where I was, what I was doing….

I knew that if I just came back after two months of silence and pretended like nothing happened, there would be *more* questions and guesses. So I’m deciding to nip it all it the bud by giving y’all the honest truth.

What kind of cancer does he have?

Lung cancer.

Those of you who have been reading the blog for a long time might remember the blog that I wrote a couple years ago where I talked about… well… a lot of things. Including the fact that my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer in the fall of 2006, and that she died about five months later, a couple weeks before The Name of the Wind first hit the shelves.

While that was happening, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer too. In January of 2007 he went into the hospital to have two thirds of his lung removed.

Since then, we’ve been keeping our fingers crossed, hoping that his cancer was gone for good. Every six months he’d go in for a scan, and we’d hold our breath until the results came back, letting us know that he was clean. He passed the one year mark, the two year mark, but we knew until he hit 5 years, he wasn’t really considered “cancer free.”

We almost made it. But this summer, when we were coming up on our 4.5 year mark, something showed up on his adrenal gland. It took a lot of testing to be sure, but now we know that it’s the lung cancer that’s come back.

Essentially, it’s like this:

(For some of you, this image is going to be cut off. Just click on it to see the whole thing.)

[I've mentioned XKCD on the blog before, and I'm guessing the vast majority of you already read it. It's one of my absolute favorite comics. And I dearly hope I'm not overstepping the bounds of politeness or the creative commons license by reposting the image here.

If you don't read it, you really should. The author, Randall Munroe, in addition to having vasty stores of smarts and humor, has a profound talent for clear visual depictions of abstract concepts. I would hire him to map out the snarly meta-layered skein that is the plot of my trilogy, (it would make a really cool poster) but I'm guessing he has better things to do.]

How bad is it?

The cancer is: “treatable but not curable.” Which sounds nicer than “terminal,” but means pretty much the same thing.

That said, things could be worse. We Rothfi are hardy stock. We could get lucky. What’s more, the cancer has taken its sweet time coming back, and its moving slowly. These are both things I have come to admire in a cancer.

My dad is just starting his second week of chemo, and it’s going pretty well. No huge side effects. He’s feeling pretty good. He still plays golf and hangs out with Oot.

So what now?

Now I go back to writing the blog pretty much the same way I did before. Which is to say I’m going to mostly dick around, tell stories, and amuse myself.

I might talk about how things are going with my dad if I feel like it, but I don’t expect it to be a regular thing.

What can I do to help?

I’m putting an answer to this question up because, as a group, y’all endlessly surprise me by being amazingly decent human beings. And I know if I don’t address this here in the blog, I’ll probably get several dozen e-mails (if not several hundred) offering help of various sorts.

So let me say in advance: Thanks. I appreciate the offer, but odds are unless you’re an oncologist who specializes in adenocarcinoma, we’re covered.

I’ve turned off the comments on this post for the simple reason that I don’t have any desire to read comments. It’s not that I don’t want to hear your well-wishings, it’s that I don’t want to host a discussion on this topic right now. Doesn’t sound like a ton of fun to me.

If you *really* want to send some well-wishings, you can drop a card to my P.O. box, and I’ll pass it along to my dad.

You can address it to:

Grandfather Sir
PO BOX 186
Stevens Point, WI 54481

And that’s all for now.

Thanks for your patience, everyone. And stay tuned. I’ve got a large backlog of blogs built up, and I’ll be posting them up pretty quickly.

Also, this year’s Worldbuilders is on the way. We’ve got some cool things coming with that….

pat

Also posted in Rage, things I shouldn't talk about, travel abroad | By PatComments closed
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