Category Archives: How to be a Worthwhile Human Being

A Strange Encounter With Social Media….

Tonight I was planning on writing a blog about my recent trip to England and Spain. But something odd has happened and disrupted my plans.

You see, earlier today, I ran into an interesting article, which I posted up on facebook, because I like sharing stories about people being awesome.

The article is worth a read, but I’ll summarize: There was a guy who ran a website for  something called “Revenge Porn.” (Which I’d happily never heard of before this.) Apparently he posted naked pictures of women online and encouraged his followers to harass them, call their employers, and generally make their lives hell. Most of the pictures he used were stolen, faked, or handed over by disgruntled ex-boyfriends.

The article explains how a woman found her daughter’s picture on his website, and after finding out what an asshole he was, engineered his downfall in a serious old testament way. It was some lovely not-one-stone-left-upon-another shit.

Anyway, I posted up the link and wandered away. Not thinking much else about it.

An hour or so later I came back and took at peek at the post. I don’t read my facebook comment threads, but I do occasionally look in on them to make sure nothing is on fire.

And, as chance would have it, things *were* slightly on fire. It wasn’t to the point where people were talking about Hitler yet, but a few folks had made comments along the lines of, “She took nude pictures of herself, but didn’t want anyone to see them? I don’t buy it….”

Then some people were kinda pissed about those comments, and made comments to that effect.

Then other people got defensive, and posted some comments to that effect.

We all know where this ends. It’s a spiral into madness. The dirigible ends up in flames, everyone’s dead, and I’ve lost my hat.

Since any plan where I lose my hat is a bad plan, I sighed and sat down to write a quick post asking people to play nice and behave themselves.

Except… well… my quick post ended up being about 750 words long. Surprising nobody but me.

Once I’d finished writing it I just sat there, disgusted with myself. I knew better than to waste my time with this. Trying to have a productive discussion about a complex social issue on facebook is like trying to build a bridge by throwing rocks into a well.

What’s more, this shit is *dangerous.* People get pissed off when you talk about sexism. And not just the people that think you’re wrong, either. Sometimes the people that agree with 95% of what you say are the ones that go positively incarnadine with rage.

Simply said, writing a post on sexism was not on my agenda for the day. And I knew that in terms of bad ideas, posting it on Facebook ranked somewhere between putting my hand in a fire, and willfully slamming my own dick in a car door.

But I’d already written it. And I hate throwing away something I’ve already written. And it was something that really should be said….

So I posted it. Then I shut down my computer and left for dinner.

Hours later I came home and reluctantly looked online. No one was howling for my blood. I peeked on facebook and saw that in the last 5 hours more people had liked and shared that post than anything else I’d ever written.

And the comments were… well… they were delightful. I read about 150 of them and was not once enraged or disappointed in humanity. The posts were kind and honest and funny and endlessly grateful. People shared their own stories. People were occasionally politely disagreeing.

I stopped reading after 150 comments. I didn’t want to spoil it. It was like a beautiful dream.

Thanks for that, everybody.

If you’d like to read the facebook post, here’s a link.

pat

Also posted in holding forth, musings | By Pat28 Responses

Upcoming Appearances – 2013

Okay folks, convention season approaches, and I’ve got a lot of stuff coming up this year.

So I’m going to list my current schedule here for those of you who might be unaware of the fact that I actually post my Tour Schedule up online. Or for the people that are unaware that I post my upcoming events on my facebook fan page.

Or for those of you who are… y’know… just kind of lazy.

A lot of the events I’m going to are conventions where you can see me on panels, get your books signed, and maybe see me do to a reading.

Generally speaking when I go somewhere, especially somewhere new, I try my hardest to schedule an out-of-con signing so that folks who don’t want to go to the con (or who can’t afford it) can still catch me when I’m in town.

But this weekend, March 9-10, I’ll be in Tucson for the Tucson Festival of Books. And this time I *won’t* be doing a signing outside the event because the festival is 100% free and open to the public. So if you’ve ever wanted to hear me talk about writing or get your book signed, this is a great opportunity to do so.

If you’re interested, here’s my full schedule (which is also available on the Facebook event).

Saturday March 9

  • 11 AM – Signing for Mostly Books – Booths 127-130
  • 12:30 PM – Signing for Mysterious Galaxy – Booth #301
  • 2:30 PM – Panel: Beauty with a Bow and Arrow – UA Mall tent
  • 4: 00 PM – Signing at University of Arizona Bookstore’s tent

Sunday May 10

  • 11:30am – Panel: Worldbuilding -  Koffler 218
  • 2:00 PM – Signing at Poisoned Pen – Booth #230-231
  • 4:00 PM – Panel: Epic Fiction – Koffler 204

Note: There will be half-hour signings after all of my panels, too.

Pat giving hug

(Yes. I still give hugs.)

I’m regularly sent messages that say “WHEN ARE YOU COMING TO MY CITY!” when I was there just two weeks earlier. So I’d like to remind all of you now: I have a Tour Page here on the website, and I also have Facebook Events for pretty much everything I do.

Did I mention that already? Yes. Yes I did. But it bears repeating because people constantly ask me what my tour schedule is.

But y’know, because I’m from the Midwest, I was raised to be extra accommodating, so I’ll list my upcoming events here anyway, for those of you who happen to be click-phobic or something.

  • ORANGE, CA

March 28, 2013
Reading, Q&A, and Signing
Barnes & Noble Orange
791 South Main Street, Suite 100
Orange, CA 92868
Facebook Event

Yes, I will be at WonderCon. I don’t have any panels scheduled as I’m mostly just going to hang out.

But I will be joining the Tabletop crew on Saturday to celebrate International Tabletop Day. Because that’s going to be awesome.

  • NORMAN, OK

May 3-4, 2013
Oklahoma Writers’ Federation Conference
Norman Embassy Suites Hotel
2501 Conference Dr
Norman, OK 73069
Facebook Event

  • LITTLE ROCK, AR
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Reading, Signing, and Q&A
1 World Avenue
Little Rock, AR 72202
  • KANSAS CITY, MO

May 24-26, 2013
Guest of Honor at ConQuesT 44
Kansas City, Missouri
Facebook Event

  • COLUMBUS, OH

June 13-16, 2013
Origins 2013
Greater Columbus Convention Center
400 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215
Facebook Event

  • SAN DIEGO, CA

July 18-21, 2013
San Diego Comic Con 2013
111 W. Harbor Dr.
San Diego, CA 92101 
Facebook Event

  • INDIANAPOLIS, IN

August 15-18, 2013
Gen Con 2013
Indiana Convention Center
100 South Capitol Ave.
Indianapolis, Indiana 46225
Facebook Event

  • SAN ANTONIO, TX

(Cancelled.)

  • BRIGHTON, ENGLAND

October 31 – November 3, 2013
World Fantasy Con 2013
Hilton Brighton Metropole
Kings Road, BN1 2FU Brighton
Facebook Event

And that’s everything we have firmly scheduled right now. As I’ve said, I’ll probably be scheduling non-convention events in Indianapolis, Columbus, and Kansas City. And more in England, too. Since I don’t get over the water very often. Those will be showing up… you guessed it. On my tour schedule.

Last, I have a request.

Can we *please* not have a hundred comments down below saying things like, “but when ru comign to Scranton?!?!!!”

Here’s what you should consider before you post a comment like this:

1. Generally speaking, I do these events out of the goodness of my heart.

I like to meet my readers, sign books, and talk about writing. I like hanging out with geeks and being part of the community.

2. I try to go new places every year so I can be available to people in different parts of the country. (And the World).

That’s why I’m hitting Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma this year. They’re all states I haven’t been to yet.

3. These events take a lot of time and energy.

The events I’ve listed up above are an expenditure of eight weekends of my life. Long weekends, most of them. Probably close to 35 days.

4. My time and energy are not infinite resources.

When I post something like this, what I’m doing is saying, “Hey guys. I’m willing to offer up 10% of my year making myself available to you. Let’s get together and have fun.”

Can you see how it might be disheartening for me to post that up and have the response be dozens of comments effectively saying, “I’m upset! I’m unhappy! I want more! I want more!”

Similarly disheartening comments include things like: “I have to work Friday night, can you do a second event on Saturday afternoon?” or “Columbus is 50 miles away! Can you come to Sulfur Lick instead?”

I know it comes from a place of love. I really know that.

And I know sometimes enthusiasm leads us to do silly things. I vaguely remember my mom telling me a story about how she once wrote a letter to the Beatles, sending them some song lyrics and asking them to record the song and send a copy back to her.

And I’m *very* aware that this is some serious first-world-problem shit I’m talking about here. I’m very lucky to have a readership as enthusiastic as y’all.

But I’m just being honest here. Comments like this make me weary. They make me think dark thoughts like, “Why do I fucking bother going to these lengths when all people do is bitch and moan and ask for more?”

Should you feel bad if you’ve made a comment like this in the past? No. Not at all. That’s not what this is about. There’s no reason you could know comments like that started rubbing me raw years ago.

That’s why I’m mentioning it here. So you know. Time and again, my readers have proven themselves to be gracious, lovely people. Especially the ones who take the time to read the blog. So I’m guessing if I let you know this bugs me, you won’t do it any more.

Oh sure, I’ll still have to deal with it on facebook and twitter (whenever I finally decide to join) but hopefully I won’t have to deal with it here in my own blog.

Okay, ramble over. I’ll see some of you soon in Tuscon, assuming my gimping, crutchy self makes it there despite the incoming storm.

Be good to each other,

pat

Also posted in appearances, conventions, How to Avoid Being a Dick on the Internet | By Pat124 Responses

Concerning Love

So I wasn’t going to do a Valentine’s Day post. Partly because I’m busy. And partly because I could really give a fuck. And partly because I’m a contrary person by my very nature.

But some things have happened today that have made me think about the nature of love. And that is something I’m interested in.

And if by odd coincidence this post happens to be timely…. Well, I suppose I can stand being timely once in my life.

*     *     *

Weeks ago, I was reading a book with Oot. At some point in the story, the characters go to the Doctor, and the doctor shows them what’s inside their bodies.

Oot’s curious about that stuff. It’s a cool teachable moment, so we take a break from the story to talk about our guts.

I point, “That’s a stomach. Do you know what that’s for?”

He knows. He tells me.

I point again, “Those are your lungs. Do you know what they do?”

He does.

Next I point at a picture of the circulatory system, “That’s a heart. Do know what that is for?”

He thinks about it for a long moment, then he lights up. “That’s where you keep all of your Love!”

*     *     *

Days ago I fell asleep with Oot on my lap.

Lately I’ve been keeping odd hours. I’m trying to get a lot of writing done and that means I don’t sleep as much as usual.

It also means I don’t spend as much time at home as I’d like. I write at the work house where there’s less distraction. Everyone working there knows if they bother me while I’m writing, I’ll fire them.

When I’m behind on writing, like I am now, it’s not uncommon for me to sleep at the workhouse too. I have a mattress there, I get food delivered. It’s not odd for me to spend several days there without leaving when I’m in the thick of it.

Still, I make a point of spending at least an hour or two every day with Oot. Sometimes Sarah brings him to visit me, sometimes I come home and visit him.

So a couple of days ago, I was sitting in the living room with Oot cuddled up in my lap. He’s not a particularly cuddly child, so these times are rare.

That said, I’ve stacked the deck a bit by offering to give him a massage. He loves having his back rubbed.

This is a sort of love, you realize. The negotiation of desires.

Oot desires the animal joy of having his back rubbed. I desire the animal joy of holding my warm child. These are not mutually exclusive. We can both get what we want here.

Would I prefer it if he would *just* cuddle me? Sure. That would be lovely. But we’re not living in a perfect world. He is a little boy, not a dog. He hasn’t been bred for 10,000 years to be a obsequious lap-sitter. So compromise is key. You have to give a little to get a little.

Our little arrangement reminds me of several of my college relationships. And some of my non-relationships too. Backrubs as currency. This is a skill I posses, and I have bartered it in the past. Sometimes just for the pleasure of touching another human in an intimate way.

The importance of touch should not be ignored. It shouldn’t be played down or viewed as something low or base. They joy of touching and being touched it is a big part of being human.

And while it is certainly not all of love, it is a type of love. It is a facet in the fractured glass of affection.

But as I’ve said, I haven’t been sleeping much lately. So, sitting there with my child in my lap, I started to nod.

Eyes closed, I hear Sarah come into the room and say, “Daddy is falling asleep. Do you want to help me put him to bed?”

“Oh, of course!” he says. Then he stands up and takes my hand to lead me.

This is an act of love.

Halfway through the living room he takes both my hands, which is probably meant to be twice as helpful, but it’s not. It means I have to bend down and take shuffling little steps.

So take little shuffling steps and bend down. I do this even though it hurts my back.

This too is love.

*     *     *

Hours Ago, I woke up.

My plan for today was to hurry over to the work house to get some writing in, then come back for my officially scheduled date with Sarah.

Our date is scheduled from noon to 2:00. It’s the only time we could arrange a sitter. The date is going to be short because Sarah is planning on making heart cookies for everyone she love. She and Oot are going to bake them, put people’s names on them, and hand deliver them on Valentine’s Day.

She’s been planning it for weeks. It’s it an expression of her love.

My thought is that we should reschedule our date. Pick a day she isn’t so busy. Pick a day when we could do something at night. At night, you see, the workhouse is empty. At night there are many uninhabited surfaces at the workhouse, and little chance of being overheard by our young child.

But Sarah wants a date on Valentine’s Day. It’s important to her. So noon.

I wake up at 7:30 AM, but when I go upstairs to check my e-mail, I hear Sarah calling. I head into her bedroom and she gives me the news. Oot got sick last night. Puking sick.

I look at him, he’s sleeping. Sweet as anything. Between him and the bed is a carefully placed towel.

“No cookies today?” I say.

Sarah shakes her head. “I didn’t sleep much last night. We’re going to stay in and have a quiet day.”

“That’s as it should be,” I say.

“We’re out of Pedialite,”

For those of you who don’t have kids, Pedialite is like Gatorade if your sport of choice is shitting and puking all over. It’s easy on your stomach, and has all sorts of important electrolytes you need if you’re losing a lot of fluid. Every parent should have several jugs of it on the pantry shelf.

But we’ve burned through our supply, so I get dressed and go brush snow off the car.

At the store I pick up some Campbell’s chicken and stars soup, because that’s what my mom fed me when I had an upset tummy as a kid. I pick up some string cheese, because Oot likes it. And I pick up some olives stuffed with garlic because if this is a flu bug, having some garlic in my system will help me fight it off.

Then I go get the Pedialite. One orange and one purple, so that he has a choice.

In the kid isle at the grocery store, I see that they don’t stock baby formula on the shelves anymore. Now they have little cards there. You have to take the card to the service desk to get the formula.

To me, this means people must have been stealing baby formula. And standing there at 8:00 in the morning, the fact that people have to steal formula for their babies just breaks my heart. That shows that something is fucked up in our society. Food for your babies should be a given, and if some people are having to steal it, it means that something has gone wrong in my little town. I’ll have to talk to some people and see what we can do about this.

This, you have to realize, is also love. Love is a small thing only if we force it to be small. It isn’t some commodity we hoard and dole out sparingly for family and friends.

No. When you see a broken car by the side of the road and stop to help the person. That’s love. When you watch the news and hear about kids being exposed to lead in playgrounds and frac mining fucking up the environment, the anger you feel actually comes from love. It means you care about people even though you don’t know them.

It’s a hard way to live your life. It means you’ll be feel helpless a lot, and you’ll be hurt a lot, and you’ll be angry at the state of things so constantly that it will rub you raw. But it’s the best way to be. It’s the only way civilization can function properly. It’s the only way we can make things better.

On my way out of the store I walk past the floral department. I ignored it on my way into the store because I was on a mission. But now I remember that it is Valentine’s Day. And while I could give a damn about flowers, Sarah likes them.

So I pick out some roses. And the very act of it makes me grit my teeth. Roses on Valentine’s Day. It’s such a cliche.

There’s a line, a half dozen men. This just reinforces the fact that I’m being a culture zombie and it raises my irritation exponentially. Plus this is thirty dollars that’s going to end up in the compost in two weeks. I could do a hundred more practical things with this money. Formula for kids. A hive of honeybees for Heifer International….

Then I see an old guy in line ahead of me. He’s gotta be 85 if he’s a day, and he looks like what I imagine when Garrison Keillor describes the old Norwegian bachelor farmers in lake Woebegone. He’s beautiful in his own way.

He’s got a dozen roses, and seeing him there warms my bitter old heart.

One of the guys in front of me (a guy in a red flannel, probably in his sixties) motions the older man ahead of him in the line. He says, “You go ahead, Ed. I’ve got plenty of time.”

The guy in the red flannel drops back and smiles at me. He says, “Ed there comes by here every week. Buys flowers for his wife.”

“That’s great,” I say, smiling like the idiot I am.

And it is great. This is someone who has made a habit out of love. There is something to be learned here.

So I pick up more roses. One of each color. Because this isn’t about me. For Sarah, love is a song. Love is words. Love is gifts.

That is not my way. For me, love is doing. Love is service. Love is caring for someone and tending to their well being.

This is a problem we have been struggling with for a long time: how the two of us show our love in different ways. It has led to many problems. Many fights. It is a terrible thing to be unloved. But in many ways it is worse to be loved and feel unloved.

Love is actually easy. We are all of us wired for it. We are full of love, even though sometimes we are barely aware of it.

Showing love is the hard part. Our culture poisons us constantly, telling us what we *should* love. Religions spout off about who we *can* love. Media lies to us, telling us *how* to love. For when you care enough to send the very best. Say it with flowers. Every kiss begins with Kay.

It’s hard to break away from that cultural conditioning. But it’s even harder for me to realize that sometimes, Sarah doesn’t want me to take care of her. She doesn’t need tending. Sometimes she just wants me to say that I love her and tell her she’s pretty.

So I bring home roses and soup. I scrap my plans to hole up and write today so I can be near my family and tend to them. Because that is what’s important to me. Whether or not they realize it, this is how I love.

Oot picks the purple Pedialite. He’s listless and just wants to stay in bed. He’s snuggled up with Sarah. She gets more cuddling than me, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous.

But when I lay down he snuggles me too. No bribery needed.

When Sarah comes downstairs she sees the flowers and laughs and smiles. It’s a response that I would never have to flowers. We talk a little. I tell her I love her. I tell her she’s pretty.

Later, if Oot is feeling up to it, I will read him a chapter of the Hobbit. It’s the one where the goblins catch them in the mountains.

And through all of this, in bits and pieces, I write down these musings for you. Because I cannot help but tell stories. Because these things are important to me.

Because…

pat

Also posted in Because I Love, holding forth, love, Oot | By Pat133 Responses

Alloy Of Law, Voting, and the Gemmell Award

So I just found out that The Wise Man’s Fear made the shortlist for the David Gemmell Legend award.

It’s flattering, because not only was Gemmell a great writer, but because whoever wins doesn’t just get a trophy or a certificate or something.

No. The winner of the David Gemmell legend award gets an axe.

Which you have to admit is pretty cool. It would certainly be a step up from my current writing axe.

The problem is this, when I wandered over to see who else was on the ballot, I saw that it was stacked with other really good books.

Most troubling for me, was the fact that it was up against Brandon Sanderson’s Alloy of Law.

When I saw that, I realized that I’d never actually gotten around to writing a review of Alloy, though I’d been meaning to for weeks and weeks.

I feel it’s my civic duty to talk spread the word about good books I’ve read. So I finally wrote it up and  posted it over on Goodreads.

For those of you who have some sort of odd, trauma-borne link-clicking phobia, here’s the jist of it:

“Sanderson has now been added to a very short list. Specifically, the list authors I wish to kill so that I might eat their livers and thereby gain their power.”

It’s a really good book. Not just because of the story. But because what he’s doing is really amazingly different. (Read the review if you want the details.)

So here’s the deal. One of the nice things bout the Gemmell Legend Award is that it’s decided by a popular vote. Y’all can go in and voice your opinions.

But the OTHER nice thing is that the voting goes until May 31st.

That means if I put up a link here, y’all have plenty of time to go out and read some of the other books on the list. Fairly assessing all the options and making an informed choice.

This is the thing you should do when you vote, you realize. Making informed choices is what gives you the right to call yourself a human being.

Consider this practice for other voting type things that might be looming on the horizon. When I put up the link, don’t just wander over there, bleating like a sheep, and click the name that looks most familiar to you. Don’t vote for the option all your friends have been talking about. Don’t vote for the person your parents trained you to vote for.

No. Look at your options. Gather data. Be a rational human and make a informed choice.

Trust me. It’s good practice. This is an important thing to practice.

And here’s your link.

pat

Also posted in awards, recommendations | By Pat81 Responses
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