As some of you have already seen, I was a guest on Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop a while back.
We played Lords of Waterdeep, and I had a great time.
To be completely honest with you, I wasn’t planning on watching the episode. After all, I was there. I know how the game played out. I bought the proverbial t-shirt.
But I wanted to hear Wil’s introduction to the game, so I started watching it.
And then I started laughing.
And then I kept watching it, and I kept laughing.
The truth is, I’d forgotten a lot of what had happened in the game. What’s more, they did an *amazing* job of editing it together.
And most importantly, Wil, Felicia, and Brandon were a fun group to play with. I love hanging out with quick-witted sharp-tongued people.
I ended up watching the whole thing eventually.
Here’s the episode if you’re interested….
My very favorite part was at the end when I screw up my cue….
Alternately, if watching cool, awesome, funny things isn’t really your bag. Here’s a little interview I did after the show. I talk about how I feel about board games and tell a cute story about my little boy, Oot.
I know you’ve hit San Diego Comic-Con the last couple years. Are you going to be doing it again? I finally got a badge for this year, but I haven’t had any luck discovering when/where your panels and signings are.
My boyfriend isn’t as lucky as me, and doesn’t have a badge. We live in the San Diego area though, are you don’t any events that *aren’t* at the convention? As much as I want to taunt him, he’ll be really sad if he misses your trip entirely.
Sorry about that, Emily. I normally like to post up my schedule earlier than this, but certain parts were only finalized just recently.
Here are my official events at the con itself
Thursday, July 18
1:45-2:45 pm – Ode to Nerds – Room 6A
3:14-4:14 – Group signing with Ode to Nerds Panel - Sails Pavilion, AA09
Sunday, July 21
3:00 pm – Signing in the autograph area – Sails Pavilion, AA06
I’ll also be hanging out at a couple booths in the dealer’s room because I think they’re cool and I like the people there.
Mysterious Galaxy – Booths 1119, 1121, and 1123
Geek Chic – Booths 4930 and 4932
Badali Jewelry – Booths 532 and 534
If you catch me at any one of these places, I will be obliged to give you my pot of gold. Or a hug. Or my signature. Or a surly poke in the eye.
It all depends on my blood sugar, really.
* * *
As for your boyfriend, Emily, I recommend taunting him a bit, just on general principals.
That said, I am doing a couple events that people can attend even if they don’t have a badge for ComicCon.
The coolest of these is wOOtstock.
Thursday, July 18th – 7:00 PM
First off, if you don’t know what w00tstock is… well… you’re really behind the curve. Let me explain….
No, there’s too much. Let me sum up:
wOOtstock is a great geeky joyfest. There’s music, stories, humor, skits, presentations, more music, more humor…
Honestly? It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever been involved in.
These last two years, I’ve made appearances at wootstock, but I’ve always been a surprise guest.
But this year, I’m on the official list along with folks like Wil Wheaton, Garfunkel and Oats, Molly Lewis….
And this year…. Man. Since I’m on the inside, I’ve heard some rumors of who might be showing up. It’s going to be awesome…
Anyway, I’ll be there on Thursday night, doing my small part in amongst the roiling sea of awesome geekery. I will also be making an announcement there. A special announcement.
And, after the show winds down, I’ll be hanging around afterwards with the rest of the cast, signing posters and anything else that people happen to have brought with them. So if you want to get some books signed, I’d be happy to do it there.
Dear Lord Rothfuss, Master Namer, Grand Bard to the King
A few years ago, I attended Gencon, where you were guest of honor. I brought my copy of Name of the Wind (Which I had fallen in love with right off the shelf when it came out) to be signed by you. Unfortunately I never got to doing that because of first con overload and a fear of asking directions to things. I returned home to Maine with a regrettably unsigned book.
When Wise Man’s Fear came out, I was understandably excited therefore to learn that, while I couldn’t make any of your signings, Prairie Light in Iowa City, just south of Cornell where I was attending until this year, would have signed copies. I reserved one and happily purchased it, toting it around lovingly everywhere I went, completely absorbed in literary bliss as I read it. A lack of foresight would cause me to bring it to dinner and spill soy sauce on it. In my shame at damaging a prized treasure, and a book no less, I purchased a new, unsigned copy in repentance.
My questions for you are thus. Would it be at any time during this Gencon appropriate for me to ask you to sign them? If so, what would be the most appropriate time? I don’t want to be “that one guy” who interrupts your enjoyment of the con or unduly begs you to sign his books when you’d rather be doing something else. If you tell me you”d rather I didn’t ask you to sign them at any point during the con, I’ll respect that. I’ll probably stop by your booth and chat you up just because I’m a major fan, but I won’t push the issue. I just wanted to put the question out there to avoid possibly making an ass of myself at the convention itself.
* * *
Generally speaking, when I’m at a convention, I’m there to make myself available. I spend a lot of time signing books, speaking on panels, etc etc.
So thanks for being careful and courteous, but generally speaking, if you find me at my booth, I’m there to sign books. Don’t be bashful.
Now, that said, there’s a big difference between me signing books at the booth, or at an autographing session, or after a reading. And… say… coming up to me in a restaurant. Or grabbing me in the hallway when I’m rushing somewhere. Or catching me in the bathroom.
Those situations, I’m generally less pleased to be asked for a signature.
Here’s my schedule for Gencon as it stands right now, that way you’ll have a much easier time catching me when I’m at the booth, doing a panel, etc.
Thursday, August 15th
12-1:45 Signing at the booth
2PM The Art of Storytelling – Moderator ICC Room 245
3PM Dynamic Characters ICC Room 245
5PM Literary Alchemy ICC Room 245
Friday, August 16th
10:30-11:45 Signing at the booth
7:30-9PM – An Evening with Pat Rothfuss – ICC Room 243
Saturday, August 17th
12 NOON Reading ICC room 244 2:00 – 4:00 pm: True Dungeon (Worldbuilders Auction) 4-6 Signing at the booth
Sunday, August 18 11-1 Signing at the booth 2-4 Signing at the booth
1. If you really want the chance to hang out, ask me questions, hear my tells stories and read my stuff, come to the “Evening with Pat Rothfuss” event on Friday night.
2. You might also notice that up there in bold, I’m going do be doing a True Dungeon crawl with some of my author friends and some geeky fans, too.
Last year during Worldbuilders, we auctioned off most of the seats. But we left one open, and we’re auctioning it off now, along with a full pass to GenCon as well.
I mentioned his book on the blog a while back. It’s called Ready Player One. And not only did I like it enough to give it a blurb. I liked it enough to dig up his e-mail address and gush to him directly about how much I loved it.
I think the entire content of my first e-mail was, “Your book is fucking awesome.”
I tried to get them to use that for the blurb on the back, (“This book is fucking awesome.” — Patrick Rothfuss) But their marketing people wouldn’t go for it.
Anyway, Ernest got an invite to Wootstock from Wil Wheaton, who is narrating the audiobook of Ready Player One. Ernest, being a generous human being, asked if I’d like to share some of his stage time.
I said yes. I said it in a firm, manly, baritone. Then I hung up the phone and laughed my most maniacal laugh.
Right. So. We all on the same page here?
7:00 – Backstage.
I walk up to the side door of the Balboa Theater in San Diego. Someone was waiting for me at the door, where they gave me this:
My very first All Access pass. It makes me feel like a rockstar.
I go backstage and down into the secret parts of the theater. It’s a magical sort of place. It’s a secret place that only the performers get to see, and it’s electric in a way that’s hard to describe. Everyone there is getting ready for the show. They’re excited, and a little nervous, and happy to see each other. Plus it’s comic-con, so we’re all a little exhausted. And a few of us are slightly tipsy, too… (Though not me, as I’m not much of a drinker.)
There’s a blur of people all over the place. Some of them I recognize, like Adam Savage from Mythbusters. And the guys from Rifftrax (who used to do MST3K.)
I’m introduced to a few people in a whirlwind fashion. I shake hands and nod at names. But they all run out of me like water. If I say, “someone said” or “someone did” I’m not trying to protect anyone’s identity, or snub them. It’s because a lot of the evening is a blur to me. I suck at meeting people, and I only have space in my head for about 5 new names.
Then I turn around and Wil Wheaton is there.
It’s weird meeting someone you kinda already know. And I kinda know Wil from a bunch of different directions. From his blog, from Star Trek, from his books, and from the Guild.
Plus we e-mailed just a little a day or two before Wootstock. I won’t bullshit you, that made me kinda tingly.
Anyway, we’re introduced, and we shake hands. He thanks me for the nice things I said about his book on my blog. And I’m a little surprised that he’s read it, though I shouldn’t be, I suppose. I tell him that I loved it.
That’s all we have time for. The stage manager is gathering everyone up to make some announcements before the show.
We all jam into a room and Liz is introduced. She is the boss. She tells us how it’s all going to work. She tells us we can watch from backstage, and that we should, so that we don’t miss our cues. She tells us to stick to our allotted time. She tells us where the beer and pizza are.
Everyone else nods attentively. There are a few jokes. But all of this is old hat for most of them.
Me? I’m grinning like an idiot. The show hasn’t even started yet and I’m having the best time….
* * *
I should explain something. I used to do lots of group-performance type things. I used to sing in choirs. I used to do radio comedy. I used to act a little, and did a few plays, a musical or two.
I even used to do a little improv comedy. Which is like a trial by fire. Once you do improv comedy, no other type of performance will ever truly frighten you.
Now I didn’t do a lot of these things seriously. But I did them. I enjoyed them.
And I miss them.
You see, one of the downsides of being a writer is that it’s a very solitary occupation. If everything is going well with my writing, I’ll spend 10-12 hours a day alone, and the rest of my time sleeping. (Also alone, usually.)
When I do get out to do a reading or a convention, I have a lot of fun. I enjoy meeting fans and signing books. I enjoy doing Q&A and reading stuff to an audience. It’s a nice opportunity for me to go out and be social.
But while it’s social, it’s a very solitary type of performance. I’m up in front of 200-600 people talking. There’s just me and the audience.
I’d forgotten what it was like to be part of a group of performers. To be a piece of a WE.
It feels great.
* * *
Liz makes one last announcement. They’ve gone to the worst seat in the house and borrowed the person’s camera. They’re going to pass it around backstage and we’ll all take pictures with it. That way the poor schlub with the worst seat will have a cool memento of the show and, as a bonus, the pictures will go online so everyone can use them.
It’s only because of the photoset that I have a shot of Ernest and me backstage, wherein I am getting my Kawaii on.
The show kicks off, and after cadging a piece of free pizza, I head upstairs we head up onto stage and watch the show from the wings. The theatre is gorgeous. A place with some real style to it.
It’s certainly the biggest house I’ve ever played to, and I’m a little nervous. But despite the fact that I’m anxiously fretting over what exactly I’m going to read, I can’t help but get pulled in by Molly Lewis playing the ukulele.
Her songs crack me up as I watch from backstage, and it helps me relax a bit.
Then, as I’m watching her play, a little motion catches my attention from the corner of my eye. So I look over and see Wil Wheaton dancing.
Before that point, I liked Wil Wheaton. I knew he was cool. I respected him as a writer, enjoyed him as a performer, and admired him as a strong, smart, outspoken member of the geek community.
But backstage in the Balboa theatre, I watched Wil Wheaton do a happy, goofy little dance, and that was when I started to love him.
Soon afterwards, Ernest gets his cue and heads out onto stage. He reads some hardcore geek poetry. Good stuff. He’s a good performer, too. Gets a good reaction from the crowd.
Then he introduces me. I’m a surprise guest of sorts, as I’m not on the program. People cheer when they hear my name, which is kind of a shock. It’s then that I decide what I’m going to read. I’m not going to try to follow Ernest’s poetry with more poetry. I think he’s got me beat in that regard.
I’m not going to read a piece out of my book, either. Too clunky. I even decide against reading a piece of a short story I’m working on.
No. A whole theatre of people cheering and my new man-crush Wil Wheaton watching from the wings means I go straight to my best material. The piece I keep in my back pocket whenever I do a reading. My sure-fire winner. My big gun.
I pull out The Guinea Pig Story.
Those of you who have seen me at a live reading might have heard it. Most of you have not.
It’s one of of the humor pieces I wrote back in college. Theoretically I was writing an advice column, but realistically I was making fun of people and telling incriminating stories about my life.
Here’s the only video I was able to find of the performance. The first little bit of my performance is cut off there, but it’s only about a sentence of the letter someone wrote in, asking for advice about keeping pets in their dormroom.
I got a great reaction from the audience, and left the stage feeling roughly ten thousand feet tall.
8:00 – Random House Party
After hanging around for a while and watching a few more acts, Ernest said he was going over to the Random House party and asked if I’d like to come along.
Though I was loathe to leave, I figured I should go and rub some elbows with some more bookish types. That’s kinda my job in some ways.
So I went to the party, hung out with some folks, and ended up riding a mechanical bull.
Why? No. Why is not the right question. I was at San Diego ComicCon. The proper question is “why the fuck not?”
That party was fun, but after about 45 minutes, I made my excuses and headed back to Wootstock. Because, y’know, Wootstock.
9:00 ish – More Wootstock.
I got back just in time for intermission, where I amused myself by handing out copies of the Chick Tract Dark Dungeons to members of the audience. I hope nobody thought I was serious….
After all my tracts were gone, I used my fancy pass to get backstage, feeling rockstar all over again. I wandered down to the dressing rooms and bumped into Felicia Day, who was also a surprise guest. I got a free hug and we chatted for about forty-five seconds before someone tells her she’s about to miss her entrance cue.
Somehow, someone managed to catch us on film during that brief moment. Proving that I’m not a big fibber.
I hang around and chat with folk, occasionally watching some of the show from backstage. I catch Jeff Lewis (Vork, for you Guildies out there) doing a piece of honest-to-god standup comedy. The man has amazing comic timing and delivery. As you’d already know if you were watching The Jeff Lewis 5-minute Comedy Hour.
11:30 ish – Autographing.
Eventually the show wraps up with a great closing number that I watch from the wings. Then I head downstairs to get my backpack and maybe another slice of pizza before I head out. When I’m gathering up my stuff, someone asks if I want to stick around and sign autographs. I shrug and agree, because I have nowhere else in particular to be.
Now over the last couple of years I’ve done a lot of signings. It’s old hat in a lot of ways. Usually I’m all alone. I’m a one-man-show.
But this one was different. A bunch of the performers were sticking around to sign posters and programs.
What’s more, at Wootstock, most of the people could give a damn about me. They’re there to see Wheaton, or Savage, or bask in the radiant glory of Paul and Storm.
And you know what? It was nice doing a signing where most folks didn’t care who I was. It gave me a chance to goof off and get to know the people sitting on either side of me. To my left was the aforementioned Molly Lewis. And to my right was someone I didn’t know at all, but I quickly learned that she was Amy Berg, writer/producer for Eureka (among many other things.)
So we hang out and chat as the line of people slowly trickles past. I’m feeling pretty relaxed. I’ve had a good day. I was on a panel with George Martin, had dinner with Jim Butcher, and got to chat with Wil Wheaton. I went to a party with an actual velvet rope, and the bouncer nodded me through even though I wasn’t on the list. I rode the mechanical bull and didn’t hurt myself. I got a hug from Felicia day and made a thousand people laugh….
It’s been a busy 14 hours, and I’m in that warm, happy place that comes when you know you don’t have to work any more. And, because I’m in a good mood, I start to joke around with the people coming through the line….
And that’s when I *really* start to get to know the people sitting on either side of me. I draw a picture of a duck on someone’s poster, and they mock me for its utter terribleness. They mocked me with a sharp-tongued viciousness I haven’t experienced since most of my best friends moved away from Stevens Point.
So I abandoned drawing and started signing clever things on the posters. Then my neighbors started writing things on their posters that were clever-er. And I feel really put out by this, because normally *I* get to be the witty one, and they were out wittying me without hardly trying. I felt the sudden need to step up my game, to say nothing of wanting to buy some of Molly’s music and catch up on the current season of Eureka….
The signing went on for at least a couple hours, and it was the perfect end to the perfect day. As I left the theater I felt that strange, glowy feeling that comes when you level up. It wasn’t until I got home that I found out where the XP boost had come from:
Best of all, I’d made it through two entire days at the convention without making an ass of myself in front of anyone.
I considered not posting it. But when you spend two hours writing something at four in the morning, it’s hard to just erase it. So I shrugged and posted it up, figuring that while the blog itself was an embarrassing mess, the underlying theme was pretty clear: I liked the book.
But today I woke up and thought that I’d go onto Goodreads and actually write the review I meant to do last night. More to prove to myself that I could than for any other reason.
This time it came out fine. Easy as anything.
As a writer, this is extremely interesting to me. It’s important. If one day I try to write something and it sucks, then the next day I try to write and it works, something big is happening. There’s a secret here, something that’s close to the heart of my magic.
It took me a while to figure it out, but here’s what I think happened:
Generally speaking, I don’t worry too much about ripping off other authors’ styles when I write. It’s a common fear of newer writers, and I spent a couple years anxious about it, just like everyone else.
But eventually I got over that particular fear for the simple reason that I never found any real evidence that it was happening. At least no more than is strictly necessary and/or polite.
There was one exception to this. Back in 1997 I read every Sherlock Homes story Doyle ever wrote in about five days.
On the sixth day, I wrote a chapter in my book. And what do you know? Kvothe turned into Sherlock Holmes. He was deducing shit all over the place. Bast fell into an odd Watson role, too.
It took me years to get all the Holmes out of that chapter. Many revisions.
The point is, I’d soaked up so much Holmes in those five days, that I couldn’t properly assimilate it. So when I tried to write, it spilled into my book.
After a couple of days my brain managed to digest all the Holmes and get itself back into its baseline state. But I’d learned my limit. A thousand pages of compelling, distinctive prose in a week’s time is bound to influence my writing for a day or two.
(This is part of the reason I haven’t tackled Martin’s series yet.)
I suspect the same thing happened to me after reading about 150 pages of Wheaton’s strangely compelling anecdotal bloginess. I doubt very much it would have thrown a monkey wrench into my novel writing. But it sure as hell confused my blogging. What I wrote yesterday was probably some bastard hybridization of my style and his.
Why do I mention this? Partly because it’s interesting to me, and writing about things helps organize and clarify things in my own head. But I also mention it because I know a lot of you are writers, or are at least curious about the writing process.
Anyway, here’s the better write-up of Wheaton’s book.
* * *
I’ve always known Wil Wheaton as one of the greater internet Powers.
That’s how I think of people like Wheaton, Doctorow, Scalzi, and Jerry over at Penny Arcade. They are people who occupy the internet community on an almost deific level. They’re actively engaged in discussions about things like creative commons, and web freedom, and other bigthink information-age issues. When they speak on a subject, the air shakes, people tweet and link and perform other media-appropriate types of adulation.
These people are their own Metatrons. They’re like the totem spirits of the internet.
That said, I don’t tend to read their blogs with any sort of regularity. I poke around Jerry’s blog every week or so. I read Scalzi a couple times a month, or if someone sends me a link. Same with Gaiman. It’s odd. I find their blogs interesting and well-written, but I’m just not drawn to follow them in my regular compulsive way.
That means that when I picked up Wheaton’s book, I wasn’t wearing fan-colored glasses.
Don’t get me wrong, I know who he is. I liked Wheaton in Stand By Me and Next Generation. I loved to hate him in The Guild. I even wrote an epic poem about him, once upon a time. A poem I dream of reading in public one day, as he, Scalzi, and Felica Day perform an elaborate dumbshow, acting it out while dressed in period costume appropriate for a 9th century mead-hall.
During this reading, I would like to be wearing a fur cloak of some sort. And perhaps a crown. In this little mental fantasy, I look rather like a cross between Brian Blessed and an angry bear. I also imagine myself as being profoundly drunk on mead.
My point is, when I started reading Just a Geek, I didn’t know what to expect.
Quite to my amazement, I was sucked into the story. It’s autobiographical, and covers a time in Wheaton’s life when he was going through a bit of a rough patch, trying to come to grips with his life, his acting career, his fluctuating celebrity, and his feelings about Star Trek.
Simply said, I enjoyed this book to a startling degree.
It was funny, touching, snarky, and remarkably sweet. I didn’t start the book as a Wheaton fan, but now that I’ve finished it, it’s safe to say I’ve swung over to that side of the fence.
In my opinion, you really don’t need to be a fan of Star Trek to enjoy it. (Though it probably wouldn’t hurt.)
But this isn’t a book about a guy that used to be on Star Trek. It’s not a book about being a celebrity. Or being an actor.
Ultimately, it’s a book about a guy dealing with being human. That makes it interesting to everyone.
It’s worth your time. Check it out.
* * *
There. That’s a good write-up.That’s what I meant to do the first time around.
Goes to show that if you write something that’s a shitty mess, it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes all it takes to fix it is a night’s sleep and a willingness to get back on the horse that threw you the first time around.
I’ve owned this book for a long while, but it was just two days ago that I finally picked it up and started reading it. You know how it is. Life gets in the way, the book gets buried, you wonder where it is, you get distracted by whatever. Candy. Sex. Aperture science.
I finished reading it less than five minutes ago, and even though it’s 4:30 AM, I came upstairs, woke up the computer, and now I sit here, trying to figure out what I can say about it.
But I don’t know what to say. I’m flummoxed. I’m positively wallowing in flum over here.
I suppose I should mention that I don’t read Wheaton’s blog. I’ve wandered by there now and again, following links friends have sent me. But I’ve never made a habit of it.
Don’t read too much into that. It’s not like I avoid his blog. It’s just that I don’t read blogs. Not at all, really. Not even engaging blogs written by clever people I’m interested in, like Gaiman, Scalzi, or Wheaton.
I know that might sound odd to people. As I’ve been writing this blog for… good lord… over four years now. But the truth is, I don’t think of this as a blog. I think of it as a continuation of the humor column I wrote for almost ten years back in college. I make jokes, talk about my life, and occasionally give some bad advice.
But I don’t think of this as a blog.
For me, it’s a relief valve. This is where I give vent to the parts of my personality that don’t have any place in the novels I’m working on.
This is the place where I can snark and bitch if I want. I can talk politics or get sappy about my baby. I can say “Monkeyfucker” and get it out of my system. Which is a good thing, because that would be really hard to work into book three.
What was my point here?
Oh, right. My point is that I’m not a Wheaton fanboy. I picked up the book because I was curious, then never got around to it because I wasn’t curious enough.
That said, in the interest of full disclosure, I am a bit of a Star Trek geek. I used to watch it in high school. I watched it with my mom who was a Star Trek geek since before I was born.
God. I haven’t though of that in years. I remember watching that first episode of The Next Generation with her. During the first commercial, we agreed that the new version of the ship looked all wrong. It offended our sensibilities.
But we grew to love the show. We watched it as a family. It was an event.
Later on I watched it with one of my best friends in high school, Steve. He was a true geek for the show, and it was one of the things that gave us some common ground.
Eventually I left for college and watched it with my new friends. It let me know I’d found the right sort of people to hang out with.
Much later, after the show was long over, I bought a bunch of collector’s edition VHS tapes at a garage sale. They became part of my nightly pre-writing ritual. I would eat dinner and watch an episode of Next Generation while drinking an insanely strong cup of coffee. Then I would go work on what I called, “The Book.”
It was 1999, and I was still writing the first draft of what would eventually become The Kingkiller Chronicle.
It’s strange to think of how big a part of my life Star Trek used to be. I bet I haven’t watched any in ten years.
So. In summary. I read this book as a Trek geek, but not as a Wheaton fanboy. I’ve known *of* him for some time now. Hell, I’d even written a story with him *in* it. But I really didn’t know much about him. I knew he was a powerful part of the geek culture, but he was one of the cool, famous, Hollywood geeks, and I was just a writer geek. Our paths have never crossed.
Okay. Enough context. On to the book.
Simply said, I found it absolutely fascinating. I wasn’t a Wheaton Fanboy before I read it, but now I kinda am…. Now I can understand why folks like him so much.
The writing is perfectly, painfully candid. It’s like a little backstage pass into Wheaton’s life back when things weren’t going so well for him. Back when he was dealing with some hard stuff in his life.
The story really got its hooks into me. It made me anxious. Gave me troubling dreams. I don’t think that’s ever happened to me before.
There are a lot of things I liked about the book, but I’m still having a hard time putting my finger on the crux of it. I can’t say what it was that made me come up to my computer tonight instead of sleeping. I can’t say what made me write a 1000 word blog tonight, rather than the gushy little goodreads review I’d been planning on.
I liked the fact that I got a behind-the-scenes peek at Star Trek and some of the actors that I grew up watching. That was cool.
I liked that Wheaton talked about what it’s like being an actor. I found that really interesting too.
He’s funny, and articulate, and self-deprecating, and honest….
But I still can’t point to what it is that really grabbed me by the nuts, here.
I really don’t know. Still flummoxed.
It could be I liked it because, ultimately, it was a story about stories. I have a weakness for those.
Part of me wishes I’d read this book back in 2008. Back when I’d missed my first deadline and was feeling like absolute shit. Back when I was sure I was ruining my entire career by delaying book 2. Back when I was still trying to get a grip on some of this celebrity stuff while at the same time being wretchedly messed up about my mom being gone. I think this book would have helped me sort though my shit a little more quickly.
Gech. I’m making a rambly mess of this. It seems like the more I like a book, the more trouble I have explaining why.
Okay. I’ll take one more run at this. I’m going to keep it simple this time:
It was a good book. You should give it a try. Unless you really don’t want to. Then you should do something else.
Merciful Buddha. That’s just awful.
Let that be a lesson to any of you that come looking for blurbs. Don’t. I suck at this.
Here’s our first batch of books. All of them have been donated by the authors themselves, and all of them are lovingly signed.
A first edition hardcover set of The Crossroads Trilogy: Spirit Gate, Shadow Gate, and Traitors’ Gate by Kate Elliot. Signed by the author.
One of my fellow DAW authors, Kate Elliot, has donated a full hardcover set of her Crossroads trilogy.
Fantasy Book Critic calls it “…Elliott’s best work and is highly recommended to both fans of the author and any readers who appreciate fantasy in the vein of Robin Hobb, Jacqueline Carey, and J.V. Jones…”
Two copies of Cold Magic by Kate Elliot. Signed by the author.
From Publishers Weekly: “The first installment of Elliott’s Spiritwalker trilogy puts a decidedly steampunk edge on epic adventure fantasy. The setting is a pseudo-Victorian Europe at the emergence of an industrial revolution, replete with dirigibles, gas lights, and great political and social upheaval.”
Four copies of The Magicians by Lev Grossman. All are signed by the author and come with a Brakebills College crest t-shirt.
But why listen to me when Lisa Tuttle from the London Times says, “This is my ideal escapist fantasy read, a Harry Potter book for grown-ups … I can’t imagine any lover of well-written classic fantasy, from C. S. Lewis’s Narnia books to the works of Diana Wynne Jones, who won’t absolutely adore it.”
Two hardcover copies of Wheel of the Infinite by Martha Wells. Signed by the author.
Publishers Weekly says: “Fast-paced, witty and inventive, Wells’ latest fantasy is not only about saving the world; it is also about saving Maskelle from self-doubt and isolation. The vividly imagined Celestial Empire’s peril is made all the more dramatic by the characters’ sarcastic, reasonable conversations, and by their very human responses to inhuman dangers; there is real reading pleasure here.”
A copy of Goblin Quest by Jim C. Hines. Signed by the author.
I was getting all ready to gush about this book as I did on the blog long ago when I found the following quote and realized I shouldn’t even try to top it.
“This book is too f***ing cool for words!” – Wil Wheaton
That’s how awesome Wheaton is, folks. He can actually pronounce asterisks.
A copy of The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines. Signed by the author.
Easter Friesner author of Nobody’s Princess says, “The Stepsister Scheme is not your Granma’s fairy tale. Action, intrigue, romance, action, treachery, and did I mention action? These princesses will give Charlie’s Angels a serious run for the money, and leave ‘em in the dust. Read it!”
A set of The Twelfth Houses: Mystic and Rider, The Thirteenth House, Dark Moon Defender, Reader and Realynx, and Fortune and Fate by Sharon Shinn. Signed by the author.
In a starred review from Booklist, Paula Luedtke said, “Clean, elegant prose is, as usual, one of the joys of a Shinn novel, and here it conjures entirely likable major characters and an interesting group-development narrative. Never tripping over the plot twists and complications, Shinn gives us an easy, absorbing, high-quality read sans gratuitous bloodshed and violence.”
Personally, I always sit up and take notice when a reviewer uses the word “sans.” (Mostly because I’m never sure how to pronounce it in my head.)
A hardcover set of The Throne of Amenkor: The Skewed Throne; The Cracked Throne; and The Vacant Throne by Joshua Palmatier. Signed by the author.
Alma Alexander writes, “For those who like their fantasy gritty and real, without sugarcoating, Joshua Palmatier’s “The Skewed Throne” is a gift. With not a dragon or unicorn in sight, it’s the people and the places where they live that matter in here.”
A set of The Onyx Court: In Ashes Lie and A Star Shall Fall by Marie Brennan. Signed by the author.
Jim Hines, (We met him up just a couple books ago, remember?) writes, “Brennan continues to blend history and magic so smoothly it’s hard to tell where one ends and the next begins.”
A hardcover set of The Magic Thief: The Magic Thief, Lost, and Found by Sarah Prineas. Signed by the author.
“A magical world, beautifully realized with totally believable characters [....] I was enchanted! A magical book that steals your attention and compels you to read on. Exciting, absorbing, compelling–a totally enjoyable read.” –Joseph Delaney, author of The Last Apprentice series.
A copy of Living With Ghosts by Kari Sperring. Signed by the author.
This one was Winner of the Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer 2009, and Neal Swain at AuthorMagazine says, “Kari Sperring’s writing is seamless and strong. She shows a knack for depicting not just the powerful emotions but also the caution and second-guessing that underlie many human interactions… ”
From the back of the book:
“The dazzling debut from a brilliant new fantasy talent. This highly original, darkly atmospheric fantasy novel immerses readers in a world where ghosts and other malevolent spirits seek entry into mortal realms – invisible to all but those who are not entirely human themselves”
A copy of The Four Musketeers: The True Story of D’Artagnan, Porthos, Aramis & Athos by Kari Maund and Phil Nanson. Signed by the authors.
This is another one I’d like to steal. I have a bit of curiosity about how legends evolve from real-life people.
From the book:
“The Three Musketeers, first published in serial form in France in 1844, is an abiding classic. It has been translated into many languages, repeatedly filmed and its heroes – d’Artagnan, Porthos, Aramis and Athos – have become literary archetypes. Yet, outside France, few people know that all four are based on historical figures: Armand d’Athos; Isaac de Portau; Henri d’Aramitz; and Charles de Batz, four Gascon noblemen who served in the French military, including the legendary Black Musketeers, under Louis XIV. The Four Musketeers is the first modern account in English of the historical background of the real musketeers, and the process by which these long-dead soldiers became legend.”
A set of The Singer’s Crown, The Eunuch’s Heir, and The Bastard Queen by Elaine Isakk. Signed by the author.
Traditional fantasy with a twist. The Library Journal calls this generational saga of stand-alone novels, “a richly drawn world filled with memorable characters.”
You can visit Elaine’s website but remember, you do NOT want to be her hero!
Steampunk is hot right now, and I have to admit I’m rather fond of it myself.
What’s not to like? You’ve got lots of leather and brass. Great roaring engines. Protective eyegear. Women in corsets with wrenches. A giraffe. Tequila….
No. Wait. That’s not steampunk. What am I thinking of? I remember I saw it in Amsterdam and it looked like a hell of a lot of fun…
Oh well. Steampunk is good too.
From the book:
“Consider the slogan: “What the past would look like if the future had come along earlier.” The stories in this all-original anthology explore alternate timelines and have been set all over the world, running the gamut from science fiction to mystery to horror to a melding of these genres.”
“The writing team of Rebecca Moesta and Kevin J. Anderson is an incredibly talented force to be reckoned with. Every one of their tales is captivating, with characters that you grow to care about. I have yet to read a tale by this husband/wife writing team that I haven’t liked. Fantasy novel fans will absolutely love the Crystal Doors series.” – Melissa Minners at G-pop.net.
Carl Hays from Booklist writes, “Sf legend van Vogt launched his storied career with Slan (1940), a now-classic tale about a race of telepathic mutants, the slans, battling oppression. Before his death in 2000, he had sketched the outlines of a sequel continuing the story [....] Already an accomplished sequel spinner with several Dune volumes to his credit, sf veteran Anderson captures van Vogt’s dynamic style and vision with immaculate precision. He even re-creates the original novel’s 1940s-era flavor, so that deep-dyed sf buffs can take a nostalgic trip back to sf’s golden age.”
Harlan Ellison likes it too, saying, “Van was a Grandmaster. Slan was his masterpiece. Now, like a dream come true, Kevin returns us to that singular world, the world of Jommy Cross.”
Remember folks, for every 10 dollars you donate to Heifer International, you get a chance to win these books and hundreds of others like them. Plus there’s the whole helping make the world a better place thing. That’s nice too.
Don’t forget, Worldbuilders is matching 50% of all donations made. So why not head over to my page at Team Heifer and chip in. Trust me. You’ll feel great afterward.
If you want to go back to the main page for Worldbuilders, you can click HERE.
When The Name of the Wind came out back in 2007, something strange started to happen. Occasionally someone invited me to write something, usually a story for an anthology.
It was a new experience for me. But despite the fact that I was flattered, I turned all the invitations down saying, “I don’t really write many short stories. Besides, I really have to work on getting my second book out.”
I didn’t meet that first deadline for book two for various reasons. But still, I felt like turning down those offers was the responsible thing to do. I was trying to behave like a grown-up, you see.
Again, I turned them down, saying, “I don’t have much experience writing short stories. Besides, I really need to focus on book two.”
A lot of these offers were for really cool anthologies, mind you. It was hard to turn down the chance to be published alongside some other big-name authors. Still, I felt morally obliged to refuse and focus on book two. I was trying hard to be a professional.
I continued along these lines until early this year when Suvudu held their cage match. They paired up various fantasy characters in head-to-head fights. I was flattered that Kvothe was included, but looking at the brackets, I saw that if Kvothe made it to the second round, he’d have to go up against Aslan.
That’s not an easy fight to win, and I kept thinking about how the scene would play out. How exactly, I wondered, would Kvothe win that fight?
Then the folks at Suvudu asked if I’d like to write up my version of the scene. So I did.
And you know what? It was fun. It was amazingly, delightfully fun. I’d actually forgotten how nice it was to write something just for pure shits and giggles. It didn’t eat up my precious writing time as I’d been fearing. Instead, it reminded me how much fun writing could be.
I thought to myself, “Fuck being a grown-up. I started writing to have fun. Now that I’m published, I should be doing fun things…”
And you know what? As soon as I gave up trying to be all professional and responsible (things that don’t come naturally to me, as a rule) my writing immediately improved. I wrote faster, and better, and I had more fun doing it.
Fast forward to earlier this year. I get an e-mail from John Scalzi. He sends me an e-mail that says (This is a paraphrase, mind you.)
Question: Would you have space on your schedule for a short (about 2K) story? It would be for a short (silly) story collection designed to raise money for the Lupus foundation. Deadline end of July-ish. Story doesn’t necessarily have to be “good” in a classic sense; in fact, it might be better if it’s not.
I think to myself. This sounds fun. It’s for charity. It’s short (I can do 2000 words standing on my head.) And he’s pretty much said it’s okay if my story ends up sucking. He’s practically encouraging me to suck.
So I e-mailed Scalzi back, and our e-mail exchange went roughly like this.
ME: Okay, I’m interested. What are the details?
HIM: Write a story about the events leading up to, and culminating in, the attached picture (which is a rough sketch; final picture to come).
(Click to embiggen)
HIM: For the sake of clarity, the person at the top is Wil Wheaton; the person at the bottom is me.
ME: Merciful Buddha…. Can you give me any context? Some framework I can use to cage this madness?
HIM: No. No context. Just write something. No slash. Otherwise, knock yourself out.
So there I am, utterly confusticated and bebothered. This is the first piece of short fiction I’ve agreed to write, and all I can think is, “What the fuck can I possibly write about this?”
This question spins around in my head for a couple days. I think, “Can I write a story about Scalzi and Wheaton playing D&D? Is that too geeky? A holodeck adventure? Too cheap? Do I dare write the absolutely forbidden, ‘It was all just a dream’ story?”
Then it occurs to me that I’m approaching this from the wrong direction. I shouldn’t be trying to turn this picture into a joke. I shouldn’t try to be cute or gimmicky.
No. The events taking place in this picture are obviously epic. My story needs to be epic. And since it can’t be epic in length, it has to be epic in form….
So that’s how I ended up writing a poetic edda. For those of you who aren’t complete geeks, an edda is an old alliterative poem. Like Beowulf. Or the old Norse legends Tolkien ripped off when he was writing the Lord of the Rings.
Once I knew how to handle the story, I ended up having a ton of fun with it. I even brought in a certain celebrity in a cameo role…
Of course poetic edda aren’t supposed to be written in modern English, so I ended up spending a ridiculous amount of time trying to get the meter right. But you know my motto: if it’s worth writing, it’s worth obsessively revising.
And now, months later, I’m finally able to present you with the finished project:
(Beware, lest the awesome blind you…)
Check it out. I get third billing. How cool is that shit?
You can download the anthology for free, but I’d like to politely ask y’all to keep in mind that we’re trying to raise money for the Lupus foundation. For all intents and purposes, these stories are brought to you by the Lupus Foundation.
That means if you can afford it, donating to the cause would be a terribly kind thing to do. I know you have it in you. Make me proud.
You can download the anthology and revel in its majesty over here.