Category Archives: hodgelany

A few links….

I’m in a bit of a rush today, so today we’re going to have miscellanea. A sort of link salad, if you will.

First off, I did a podcast with the folks over at Fictional Frontiers. I dimly remember using the word “buggery” somewhere in this interview, though I may be making that up….

Second off, over on his blog, Jim Hines recently did a parody/tribute to “Baby Got Back” called “Baby Got Books” wherin he states in no uncertain terms that he likes girls with big books. And boys with big books, for that matter. NOTW gets a flattering nod.

The Onion’s AV CLUB did an article called The Pleasures and Perils of Long-Running Fantasy Series that I thought was pretty interesting.

I’ll be doing a signing down near Madison on the 7th, in Waunakee, to be specific. I’m thinking of reading a piece of a novella I’m working on, and since a couple people have e-mailed me, asking if I can bring t-shirts, I might throw a bunch of them into the trunk of my car before I head down there.

The library is asking that you RSVP online if you’re thinking of attending.

And lastly, a piece of cool news. After years and years, I’m finally getting to teach a creative writing class here at UW – Stevens Point.

The guy that usually teaches fiction around here took a semester off, so they gave me a call and asked if I wanted to pinch hit. I jumped on it, as I’ve always wanted to teach creative writing.

Oh sure, I’ve done panels and workshops before. I even taught a Winterim last January. But those are short-term teaching. This is the first time I’ll get to teach fiction for a full semester. I’m excited and more than a little scared.

There are still a few seats open, if anybody’s interested….

Have a good weekend, y’all.

pat

Also posted in Interviews | By Pat156 Responses

Machine Gun Q&A #4

[Edit: It’s late Tuesday night, and I just finished reading through the hundreds of questions, and answer the ones that stuck me as being interesting/amusing. It took me a while to get to the last page worth of comments, because I had to take a break to mail out some t-shirts.

I had a good time with this one. Thanks for playing along.]

A while back, I offered people the chance to ask me questions down in the comment section of the blog. Nothing really deep, just fun questions that would never get asked in a real interview. Little questions. A flurry of little questions. It’s sort of like a machine gun interview.

It turned out to be fun, and I’ve done a few of them since then.

It’s been about three months since I did one, so I figured we were about due.

With previous Machine Gun Q&A, I only accepted questions for an hour or two before I shut things down. But today I’ve decided to try something a little different.

I’m going to accept questions for all of Monday.

This changes the game a little bit. Before, you needed to hurry to get your question in before the time was up. But now that’s not an issue. You have plenty of time.

This time, the challenge will be coming up with a question interesting enough that I’ll want to answer it instead of the hundreds of others. Because I only answer the questions that amuse me in one way or another.

Here are the rules. Read them before you post:

1. You can ask any question.

2. Bite sized questions are best. I’m not looking to write essays here. Think popcorn, not steak.

2b. One question per comment. No multi-part questions.

2c. Don’t post 20 desperate, flailing questions hoping that I’ll answer one of them. Post one or two clever questions instead.

3. I reserve the right to ignore your question.

3b If I ignore your question, it’s not because I hate you. It’s probably just because I don’t have anything witty to say on the subject.

4. I reserve the right to lie, or at least be wildly inaccurate.

5. Complete sentences, punctuation, and spelling words out in their entirety is encouraged. I’m more likely to pass over your question if it contains abhorrences like “ur.”

6. Nobody can make fun of your question.

6b. Except for me.

7. If I’ve already answered the question in a blog or one of my innumerable interviews, I’m going to pass over it.

7b. If a lovely person wants to post up links to where those answers can be found, that would be very much appreciated.

7c. That said, please don’t answer questions on my behalf. Just links to my answers are best.

8. I won’t answer spoiler-ish questions about the book.

9. I reserve the right to delete unanswered questions so people reading the blog later have an easier time navigating the comments.
10. I’m not going to answer questions about the upcoming tour. All the answers to those questions will be posted up in a separate Tour FAQ blog that I’ve been lovingly assembling for a couple weeks now…

Okay. We clear on the rules?

You’ve got a day to post up your questions. I’ll be answering questions as they come in, and, depending on how many/good they are, I might continue answering on Tuesday as well.

Questions posted after Monday will be ignored.

Ready?

Go.

pat

Also posted in Machine Gun Q&A | By Pat964 Responses

Various and Sundry things.

A couple days after watching Prince Caspian and going all frothy about it, I watched Wall-E.

Pixar never fails to amaze me. I can’t help but wonder how, as a team, they manage continuous brilliance. Well… to be fair, Cars was merely great. But other than that, everything they do is just a different flavor of incredible. Constantly manufacturing a good creative product is hard enough. But constant excellence produced by a changing team. That’s nigh-impossible.

Frankly, I expect some manner of pact with dark powers.

Or, more likely, Pixar has something like cull-the-heard Wednesdays. Where once a week someone quietly wanders through the office and has a close look at everyone. Susan is doodling a palindromic sestina on her napkin at lunch – Check. Terry is spontaneously reciting pi to a song of her own creation while using the Xerox machine – Check. Dave is humming the theme song from “Land of the Lost” while sending out zombie invitations on Facebook….

On Thursday, when the other workers ask why Dave’s desk is empty, management explains that they transferred him to a nice animation studio out in the country where he’ll have plenty of room to run and play.

So… yeah. Suffice to say that if Pixar wanted the rights to make a movie of the book, they wouldn’t have to fight very hard.

Sarah and I have almost managed to put the fundraiser to bed. Tomorrow should be our last busy day. After it’s all done, I’ll post up some pictures, give the final donations totals, and talk about our plans for the future.

I won’t be posting up a list of winners and their prizes because that would involve me putting folks’ personal information up on the web without their permission, and that isn’t cool.

Also, I didn’t e-mail everyone who won, because it would have taken WAY too long. So you might have won something even if you haven’t heard from me. But don’t e-mail me and ask about it. Seriously.

In other news, I’m on Goodreads now. I’m not planning on spending a huge amount of time there, but you can add me as a friend if you’re into that sort of thing.

And lastly, could some tech-savvy person out there do me a bit of a favor? Namely, could you change my Wikipedia picture, preferably to one that makes me look slightly less like a serial killer?

I appreciate that someone went through the trouble of uploading a photo. And I don’t deny that it’s a fairly accurate depiction of how I look most of the time. But still, if there is going to be a picture of me, I’d rather it not look like something that was pulled from a pamphlet titled “How to Spot a Sociopath.”

Later all,

pat

Also posted in Goodreads, recommendations, social networking | By Pat30 Responses

The Art of Letting Go….

Today, as I sat at my computer answering e-mail and worrying about the election, a lovely person in Japan sent me this photo….

(The Great Buddha in Kamakura, reading my book.)

Seeing this picture made me realize that somewhere along the line, I have lost my way.

I used to be very Buddhist in my thinking. Well… perhaps not *very* Buddhist. But somewhat Buddhist, especially for a westerner. My philosophical beliefs are an eclectic hodgepodge at best, but there’s some good stuff in Buddhism. Stuff that makes a lot of sense.

One of the foundation stones of Buddhist philosophy is especially appealing to me. Namely, that desire leads to suffering.

For example: You see a kid at the grocery store. He wants a candy bar. His mom says no. Result? Suffering. He pitches a fit. Similarly, when I was in my early twenties, I spent a long time desiring various types of romance, and because none was forthcoming, suffering ensued. Much suffering.

It’s simple. The more things you desire, the greater your potential for suffering. It’s basic math. And when you stop to think about it, the solution is obvious. If you want less suffering in your life, you simply have to reduce your desires. You need to let go of things.

This particular truth fits in well with other parts of my personal philosophy: my love for simplicity, my appreciation for the cynicism of Diogenes, and my basic bumish laziness.

I used to be good at letting go. I kept my life simple and had few desires. That was what made it possible for me to work on my book for more than a decade without wanting to kill myself. I told myself the truth: that it would probably never be published. I did my best to avoid that desire (sometimes with only moderate success) and therefore saved myself a lot of disappointment over a great many years.

But lately, I’ve fallen from that path. I worry endlessly about all manner of things. I feel responsible for so much. I want to make sure book two is really good. I want to to be pleasing for my fans and successful for my publisher. I want to lose some weight. I want my country to get back on track, to take care of its citizens and stop shitting on the rest of the world. I want, I want, I want….

And for a year now, I’ve been wondering why, for the most part, I’m not really happy. It sounds really horrible to say, but it’s true. By the numbers, I’m way ahead of the game. But emotionally….

Here’s the deal. It’s one thing to be unhappy when your dog gets hit by a car and your house burns down. You should be unhappy then. Everyone can understand that. That’s a sensible response to your situation.

But when your book gets published, becomes a bestseller, and gets translated into a billion languages you’re supposed to feel good. You’re supposed to feel super-amazing-good. But a lot of times I don’t. That’s not sensible. I don’t understand it, and it frustrates me. Not only that, but it seems downright perverse at times. Then on top of it all, I feel like a real shit for not constantly feeling like the universe is giving me a hummer.

So why, I constantly ask myself, was I so perfectly content as a poor teacher with an unpublished book and 20,000 dollars of credit card debt? Now I own a goddamn riding lawnmower, and I worry about my lawn. For over a year now I’ve had a solid knot of tension nestled between my shoulderblades like a lump of hot lead. I worry about the next translation of my book. I worry about my carbon footprint. I worry that in writing this blog, I’m going to come off as an utterly self-absorbed frothing emo titmonkey.

But writing about it helps. That’s what I do, you see. I write about things. That’s my deal.

People who don’t write usually assume that writing is a process of communication. They think I have something in my head, and I’m just transcribing it onto the page.

But that really isn’t the truth. Writing is a process of discovery. I think about things, but then when I start to write about them, I learn things while I write. I figure things out *because* I write. This happens in poems. In those silly satire columns I write, in the novel, and today, it’s been happening here in the blog.

Right now in fact. I think I’ve finally put my finger on something important. Desire. I have been too much with the world lately, getting and spending. I think I need to start letting go.

I realize that might sound ominous, but it isn’t. I feel good. Better than I have in months. Letting go shouldn’t be seen as giving up, either. In Buddhist philosophy, once the problem of suffering is realized, there is still right thought and right action.

So now I’m going to go vote, largely without desire. It feels good letting go of that. Later I will work on the book without desire.

In between those two, I think I will go the Kebab House for lunch. Sometimes they serve a great soup called “Fire and Rice.” That, I think, I will desire just a little. Because it is really good soup, and no matter what else I might be, I’m still only human.

Later everyone,

pat

Also posted in Diogenes, foreign happenings | By Pat61 Responses

Conventions, Forwards, and Jetlag.

So right now I’m in LA. I’m in the eye of the storm, schedule-wise. I was at Worldcon last weekend, and I’ll be at GenCon in a couple of days. Right now I’m helping out a little bit with the Writers of the Future workshop.

And when I say, “a bit” I mean just that. The workshop is run by Tim Powers, who (whom?) I’ve mentioned before on the blog, albeit briefly. He’s one of my favorite authors. And not only does he have an amazing grip on the craft of writing, but he’s a great teacher to boot. That means, for the most part, I feel my best contribution to the workshop is to nod and occasionally chime in with an emphatic “hell yes.”

Worldcon was cool. I sat on some panels talked about writing, and generally avoided making too much of an ass of myself. That’s about as much as I can hope for, overally.

I got about 30 people for my reading, which was nice. I read some poetry, a couple humor columns, including one of my old favorites about guinea pigs, and a tiny piece of book two. Not even hardly a taste, just a tease.

I also had my first experience of randomly seeing someone reading my book in public. Unfortunately, it was at a convention, so it only counts for half points, but it was still pretty cool.

I think I freaked out the woman who was reading it though. I walked up to her and said, “That’s my book!” She looked up at me with mingled surprise and horror. Understandable really, that’s how I’d feel if I looked up and saw some freakish hobo-muppet crossbreed grinning down at me.

Next weekend I’ll be at Gencon, doing all manner of panels, readings, and signings. I’ll also be making appearance at the local library, accompanied by the awesome costumers who won the photo contest. A good time will be had by all.

And in related news, I’ve written my first-ever introduction. It’s for the new Order of the Stick collection.

Gech. Stupid hotel computer. I can’t make it display the cover of the book. You’ll just have to follow the link, I guess.

If the comic sounds familiar, it should. Rich Burlew was the cartoonist who did the lovely tribute to Gary Gygax that I linked to a while back.

It was fun writing the forward for the book, as I really love the comic. Plus Rich drew a comic version of me which is pretty dead on. If you’re interested, the book will be available for sale at Gencon, and can be ordered off Rich’s website.

That’s all for now folks,

Pat

Also posted in conventions, recommendations, side projects | By Pat34 Responses

Back from Portland.


I’m back from Portland, where my first attempt at marraging two people up seemed to go pretty well.

When we were planning the ceremony, I asked my friends what they’d like me to say when I pronounced them husband and wife. I’ve been to a lot of weddings, and I’ve heard a lot of different authorities cited. Sometimes it’s “By the authority given me by god and the holy Catholic church.” Or “By the authority vested in me by the state of California.”

I really didn’t know how to handle that. In some ways, it seems like a product placement in the wedding, like the officiant is saying, “This wedding brought to you by God, the new Pontiac Sunfire, and the letter G.”

So I asked what they’d like best, and there was a long pause. Then my friend said, “How about, ‘By the power of Grayskull?'”

We all had a good laugh, but I have to say that when the time came, the temptation to actually say it was almost overwhelming. I’m still a little disappointed in myself that I didn’t. I mean, that’s a wedding story that they could have told for years and years.

If you’re curious as to what I look like when I’m pretending to be a grown-up, here it is:

Enjoy the sight of me in a tie. It probably won’t happen again for years. Longer if I have any say in things. Which I do.

While out in Portland, the folks I was hanging out with wanted to go to Brewfest: a A big shindig where, apparently, 60,000 people show up to try all sorts of clever local beers. They were all excited about it, so I went along for moral support, and possibly to hold their hair out of their faces while they puked.

But here’s the thing. I don’t drink.

I can drink, and I occasionally do. It’s just that, generally speaking, I don’t. I don’t like the taste of beer or wine, and alcohol is a drug that has nothing to offer me. I’m plenty uninhibited. And the three or four inhibitions I’ve kept serve a vital purpose. They are like heavy chains restraining my true inner nature. Without them, I would devolve into a pure Dionysian force that would rampage through the countryside. While this would be a lot of fun for me and the Bacchae, I worry about the damage we might inflict on the general populace. Hence my restraint.

[Note to self: group costume idea.]

So the fact that I don’t drink, combined with my dislike of crowds, drunks, and noise meant that Brewfest really wasn’t my scene. So I left my friends to booze it up and went to visit Powells.

I was not disappointed. It’s like book Valhalla. The sort of place where I could spend a long weekend very happily gathering more books than I can carry, afford, or load into a car.

What’s more, they had a bunch of copies of NOTW there, both hardcover and the paperback. I’m guessing I signed about two dozen, so if you’re in the area, odds are you can still get in there and grab one.

They also had me sign their author wall, which was pretty cool….

If you look closely, you’ll probably recognise a few names there…

That’s all for now, folks. Be good to each other.

pat

Posted in hodgelany | By Pat32 Responses

Photo Contest Part VI – Miscellaneous

Well, I seem to be on the mend from my recent bout with hellish sick. It was one of those where, as my mom used to say, “You run for the bathroom and then don’t know which end to point at the toilet.”

Even in the moments when I was not in danger of sudden containment breach, my guts…. how to put this delicately…. They have been filled with terrible rumblings. Were we on a spaceship together, and my guts made this sort of noise. I believe that you would be fully justified in shooting me and stuffing my body out an airlock, rather than risk dealing with whatever alien life form eventually emerged with the express purpose of wrecking your shit.

But enough of that. On to today’s winners. I’ve been saving some of the best for last:

There were a lot of pictures that didn’t fit into any category. So I decided to lump them all together under Miscellaneous. That’s what we have for you today:

Some of these were simple, if slightly quirky.

Some were slightly odd.

…and some were surreal.

Wii!

I really don’t know how I should feel about this shot….

Right now I’m going with vaguely titillated, then weird and guilty.

“Aerlevsedi” is definitely worth some extra points.

You guys….. I…. I love you guys. I don’t know who you are, but I’m guessing if I lived closer to you, we’d hang out. I’d bring over hex map (as opposed to your grid map) and teach you the Hero System ruleset so we could play in my world.

But alas….

These guys should go hang with the Barbies. I think that would be my favorite party ever.

I never expected The Name of the Wind to be scrapbooked. Ever. Never ever.

Someone familiar here, giving a bit of an Auri vibe. Plus: awesome tree.

As a side note, I think if I live a good life. I might see something like this when I die.

Hopefully just after I die though. Not just before. If I see this after I die, it’s because an angel wants my autograph. If I see it just before I die, it’s because a pretty young girl just pushed me out of a tree. Probably because I got all pervy on her.

I’m not sure why I like this one so much, but I do….

Science!

This looks like one of the old pieces of machinery you’d find in the Underthing.

(Click to Embiggen)

The Runner-Up. Most of the pictures will be familiar to you, but you’ll have to embiggen it to read the text, and the text is really what makes this one shine.

(Click to Embiggen)

The Winner. You’ll have to see the larger version of this one too. In fact, you’ll probably need to see some parts of it kind of close up to appreciate what’s going on….

Thanks again everyone who participated. And, as I’ve said before, info on claiming your prizes is in this blog post over here.

Still to come:”Best Cosplay” “Most Dramatic” and “Most Sexy.”

I’m off to work on book two….

pat

Also posted in contests, fan coolness | By Pat17 Responses
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