How to be Cool – A Primer.

As I’ve mentioned before, due to angering some fickle deity, I only had one scheduled event at DragonCon: a reading.

When I showed up to the con, the programming staff were nice enough to schedule me a signing too. Then, using my not inconsiderable charm, I sweet-talked my way onto a couple of the writing track panels.

The panels went pretty well. Since they were already on the schedule, they had good audiences. I gave a few good pieces of advice, got a few laughs, and avoided – for the most part – making an ass of myself. If I can do all three of those things, it’s a good panel.

My signing was another matter entirely. Since it wasn’t on the schedule, nobody knew about it. You could hear crickets. Two people showed up, and I was surprised to have that many.

Rest assured that my ego did not suffer any permanent trauma due to low attendance. Why is that? Well… mostly because of the signings I used to do back when my first story appeared in an anthology….

They were brutal. Most signings are when you’re a new writer. Typically you spend two hours sitting at a card table in front of a Waldenbooks at the local mall. Then everyone ignores you. Pointedly ignores you. Ignores you as if they fear making eye contact will give them herpes.

Those early signings, while grueling, did a great job of setting my expectations low. These days, if I have a signing and two or three people talk to me, I consider it a win. Everything beyond that is gravy.

The other reason my ego wasn’t bruised by the low turn-out is that earlier this month at Worldcon, when my signing *was* on the schedule, I got a turnout that surprised so much that I took a picture of the line:

By comparison, my DragonCon signing is pretty relaxing. I talk to the two people who stop by, drink my coffee, and read the program book making plans to stalk Nathan Fillion, Morena Baccarin, and Jewel Staite.

Then I pack up and head over to my reading. My expectations understandably low.

Imagine my surprise when I see that the room is pretty much full. It’s surprising to me that all these people, in the middle of all the glamour and weird of DragonCon, have chosen to show up and listen to me read. What’s more, they all started to applaud when I came in the door.

It was a good feeling. I felt cool. Really cool. I was a hoopy frood. I was about .8 of a Gaiman on the cool-o-meter, which is pretty cool.

I briefly excused myself to use the bathroom – as I said, it was exciting – then did my reading. They laughed at my jokes, asked good questions, and didn’t hassle me too much about book two. In brief, it was a great crowd.

When my hour was up, so many people wanted me to sign that, after a half hour, I needed to move the remainder into the hallway because the next reading was scheduled to begin. Then I signed in the hallway for another half hour.

Needless to say, I was feeling pretty good about myself.

Then I realized that my zipper was down. Which means that it had been down since I used the bathroom right before the reading.

Thank you, oh universe, for reminding me of the truth. While I may be all that and a bag of chips, I’m usually all that and a bag of chips who doesn’t know his zipper is open.

I learned my lesson though. Later that night, in order to prevent any further zipper-related embarrassment, I changed into my kilt before I went out to dinner with some of the folks who had participated in the photo contest a couple months back:

And a good time was had by all….


This entry was posted in conventions, my dumbness, my rockstar life, Neil GaimanBy Pat40 Responses


  1. lyraadriana
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 6:20 AM | Permalink

    Love your shirt! I feel like I should say more as a first comment considering how much I adore you. Oh well. Cheers to utilikilts! PS: My word verification to post this is “vapel”I rather like that.

  2. Ben
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 7:57 AM | Permalink

    ah the sweet sweet taste of having your zipper down in public places, when you are the signing and/or reading.I think you should start a facebook group about it, and have the members vetted to make sure that they have actually done the above. :Dyou would be surprised at how many people would be eligible to join, though most would wish to hide the fact that they are so.I think the woman who invented the zipper (and I’m assuming it was a woman because of the following reason) designed it to randomly come down at important moments in men’s lives, just the men, I’ve never seen a woman with her fly down, though I must admit I don’t tend to go around staring at womens crotches so I may have missed a few. I was on stage once, and every five minutes my zipper would go down, all the way up until the actual first performance, when we had to pin it closed, it still managed to go down to the pins…

  3. Arevanye
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 8:41 AM | Permalink

    Folks, his reading was PACKED. People were sitting on the floor. He had more people for his reading than Peter S. Beagle. (Nothing against Peter – he’s an amazing guy. I’m just sayin’.)“Author as Rock Star” Sounds about right to me!

  4. marky
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 9:02 AM | Permalink

    Och! That’s guid kilt action!And to aw those lucky fans, who got to hey a good Blether way ye. I raise ye a toast.May the best ye hae ivver seen be the warst ye’ll ivver see.May the moose ne’er leave yer girnal wi a tear-drap in its ee.May ye aye keep hail an hertie till ye’r auld eneuch tae dee.May ye aye juist be sae happie as A wuss ye aye tae be. Please excuse me. I came over all Braveheart after seeing you in your kilt dude. In the imortal words of Rod Stewart, you wear it well. I’ve put your name forward for official membership into the Tartan Army. You’re red wig and bunnet is in the post.

  5. Dave Bessom
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 11:44 AM | Permalink

    Nice… The Shocker. What is that kid, fifteen? How does he even KNOW about The Shocker?Seriously.

  6. jessica
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink

    Ben, the xyzpdq thing does happen to woman, I know from personal experience. Unfortunately. I love the picture with the lucky folks who got to hang out with the kilt-wearing Pat, everyone looks so happy!

  7. Pete
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 12:26 PM | Permalink

    good man, never go ANYWHERE without a backup kilt, you never know what a situation could arise when you need to change…

  8. marky
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 12:42 PM | Permalink

    AAARRRGGG! I apologise for my bad grammar. I wrote the last post in a rush of kilted excitement.

  9. Dischord
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 1:28 PM | Permalink

    Hey Pat, I especially love how you’d already held forth about zippers being down right before discovering that yep, yours was in fact down. At GenCon, you said ‘turn off cell phones before panels’ only to have yours ring at the panel. At DragonCon, you said ‘check your zipper before going up in front of people’ and sure enough, zipper was down. Next con, make sure you hold forth about not letting hordes of hot bikini models flash you. (And make sure you wait until I show up before you say that.)Oh, and the LiquidWeird interview is up:, and thanks for the words of wisdom. You stopped me on the second day of my three day Taco Dip bender. Close one!-Dischord

  10. Althalus
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 1:33 PM | Permalink

    Figures the one time he comes down to GA and I’m stuck at work all night.Blast!I would’ve joined in the stalking of Jewel Staite…

  11. Jay Belt
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 1:34 PM | Permalink

    Speaking of readings and signings, I hear from a lot of fans down here in Lexington, KY that < HREF="" REL="nofollow">Joseph-Beth<> isn’t on your book signing radar. Trust me man, you need to make that apart of your book signing tour when <>The Wise Man’s Fear<> comes out. They treat the authors like rock stars at JoBeth./link is not a rick’roll//no I don’t work for Joseph-Beth but I think I have a friend of a friend of a friend who does

  12. black Sunshine
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 2:34 PM | Permalink

    yeah, i sassed that hoopy Pat Rothfuss at the Decatur Book Fair . . . he definitely knows where his towel is. weeeeeeeelaaa!!

  13. TK42ONE
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 3:05 PM | Permalink

    Yes, yes, I was going to comment on the Shocker too, but alas, you beat me to the punch.But I’d also like to point out to everyone that 5 out of the 6 hardbacks with covers have the bare-chested Kvothe on it! Rock on people! Keep it alive!

  14. Anonymous
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 3:10 PM | Permalink

    Important: Addressed to “ben”I think the woman who invented the zipper (and I’m assuming it was a woman because of the following reason) designed it to randomly come down at important moments in men’s lives, just the men, I’ve never seen a woman with her fly down, though I must admit I don’t tend to go around staring at womens crotches so I may have missed a few. I think you just unwittingly declared that you go around all day staring at dude’s crotches…..just thought someone should point this out…sorry.sean

  15. lyraadriana
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 3:13 PM | Permalink

    Ha! Thats what I’ve been thinking, but not saying. Thanks Sean!

  16. Anonymous
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 3:48 PM | Permalink

    Go kilted pat go.Is the tartan you used just a random one or is it you’re family tartan or something loike that.

  17. Anonymous
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 3:50 PM | Permalink

    If so what is the tartan? I can’t see it.

  18. suziko
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 3:52 PM | Permalink

    Great post!! I laughed out loud. And as a Russian friend said to me once when an old man stumbled upon us with our pants down, peeing in the woods, they “should consider themselves lucky.” I can’t WAIT until you are in Madison (maybe for book 2?) to do a signing. I hope you’ll wear the kilt for that!

  19. Robert Crandall
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 4:35 PM | Permalink

    Something also cool is how you have a strong internet following. Not being an author myself, and not following any other authors, I can’t tell you whether your crowd is large or not. But I think it’s cool that you have a crowd of real people that read your words – regardless of whether it’s in book form or blog form.And I think it’s hell-a cool that you have a blog. Again I don’t know if other authors do this, but that’s 100% geeky coolness in my mind. I’ve successfully recommended your book to numerous people by saying “he even has a blog about what it’s like to be an author!” That, and “He’s a big Joss Whedon fan.” That never hurts.And for the most part, no one asks about Book 2, so they’re here just because they like you, and are interested in more than the story you’re telling.Speaking of…does Ben come back in Wise Man’s fear? You can tell me.

  20. Micah Cowan
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 6:23 PM | Permalink

    I think having an internet crowd like this is mildly unusual. Various authors have blogs, and Amazon has that blog-like thing they do for authors, but Pat’s is the only one I follow.I think he has an internet following because he has a blog that’s actually enjoyable to read. It’s not just boring comments like “I’m going to be in GA this week. Toodles!”, and it also helps that he’s not as goshdarn full of himself as many authors seem to be.Plus, I mean, shit, he loves Penny Arcade and Joss Whedon and Aperture Science… <>and<> on top of all that he’s a damn god writer. Oh yeah, <>and<> a chemistry teacher (until recently). I mean, he’s totally my hero. How can I not watch his blog?

  21. lyraadriana
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 6:28 PM | Permalink

    I compare this blog to the coolness of when Joss writes something, except that this has much more frequency.

  22. Jay Belt
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 6:34 PM | Permalink

    What Micah Cowen just said… Pretty much applies to me as well.I will admit there is one other writer who’s blog I’ll look at occasionally. Not to read any of the articles tho, I skim his entries waiting to see if he’s going to mention the book he still hasn’t finished writing in eight years. Pat’s blog on the other hand, I visit all the time and enjoy every morsel of every entry.

  23. Anonymous
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 6:52 PM | Permalink

    I do believe that I read a post earlier about how it pisses people off at conventions when the hallways are full of people – NOT MOVING. Did I get that right, PAt actually did a signing in the hallway? I wonder if he would have been pissed of if he weren’t the author. I just thought it was kind of funny.

  24. Anonymous
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 7:03 PM | Permalink

    Just imagine if your signing would have been on the scheduel!! The line would have been hugely larger than the line at worldcon!! Next time you’ll have to sweet talk them into announcing it somehow instead of just letting you on some panels!

  25. Dischord
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 7:11 PM | Permalink

    Anonymous person above:It was a stygian cthonic back-water empty hallway in the bowels of the Hyatt at the far end away from active parts of the con (where they stick the writers). There wasn’t anyone around to get in the way of.

  26. Fe2O3
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 7:26 PM | Permalink

    Your blog entry just brought back some severely, and justifiably so, repressed memories from 7th grade. I played Captain Fan-Fan-Fan-Fantastic in the school play; a part that required fast and frequent costume changes from mild-mannered-school-paper-editor to superhero. In front of several hundreds of students, I walked on-stage with not just my fly down, but with my shirt-tail hanging out through the gap. It got the biggest laugh of the play.You have shown that you can quickly recover from ‘zipper-gate’ and return to the public eye wearing your kilt. Oh, Patrick Rothfuss is there nothing you can’t do?

  27. arcaneja
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 8:13 PM | Permalink

    So my Dragon*Con going friend wasn’t able to track you down and ask for a DNA sample so that I can clone you?I’m gonna go cry now.

  28. Malcuy
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 8:43 PM | Permalink

    “Your department store is open, *even* on weekends” + Significant look.

  29. Anonymous
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 9:25 PM | Permalink

    The Joss shirt really compliments the kilt well. ^_~ To me it says “Irish punk Whedon slaves unite!”

  30. Casseopia
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 11:50 PM | Permalink

    I was at the reading and didn’t notice. Considering I was in the front row (all the way to your right against the wall basking in all the nerdy glory Dragon*Con represents). I said it in another comment, but really good reading. I hope you get to do more next year. I know I’ll be there as will all the friends I’ve been talking up your book to.

  31. Ben
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 2:17 PM | Permalink

    think you just unwittingly declared that you go around all day staring at dude’s crotches…..just thought someone should point this out…sorry.seanCrap… I hadn’t thought of that… thank you for pointing that out…*marks down the name sean on his people to eradicate list*

  32. Bufyluver
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 3:47 PM | Permalink

    What a crazy random happenstance! I was also making plans to stalk Nathan, Alan, Jewel and Morena. Luckily for them, I was able to pay a bit of cash for Nathan’s autograph and my Firefly frenzy was momentarily sated. That, and also I think I might have fainted…I can’t really recall. I’m sorry I missed seeing you, though. I had my eyes open for wonderfully bearded men all day long…

  33. Kalligenia
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 5:42 PM | Permalink

    You rock the kilt, Pat! :)Now after the zipper thing, I do hope you remembered to sit with your legs closed while wearing the kilt!

  34. Suzie
    Posted September 6, 2008 at 1:31 AM | Permalink

    First D*Con I’ve missed in four years; I would have been at the signing if I could have come this year. The obvious solution: come again next year, please!

  35. Snall Trippin
    Posted September 6, 2008 at 2:53 AM | Permalink

    I need to hurry up and get a book published…I already leave my zipper down from time to close!

  36. sparkly_jules
    Posted September 6, 2008 at 4:17 AM | Permalink

    oooooooh, nothing hotter, IMO, than a man in a kilt. Yum.You rock, man. Really.sparkly jules

  37. joineric
    Posted September 11, 2008 at 9:21 PM | Permalink

    Now it is a proving fact that creative people seeking freedom tend to wear kilts. You need to send that pic to, I’m sure they would post it in a heartbeat.

  38. Jill
    Posted September 11, 2008 at 11:18 PM | Permalink

    Pat, I was at both your signing and your reading at Dragoncon. Thanks so much for taking the time to do them. You put a wonderful signature in my book, and I appreciate it. Dare I confess to enjoying the small number of people at the signing? I thought we all had a good conversation. And I could tell the crowd at the reading more than made up for it anyway. I didn’t notice the zipper at the reading, and I think everyone there was having too great a time to notice it too. And I bought that Serenity t-shirt for myself. :-)

  39. Rinsie and Reveille
    Posted September 15, 2008 at 7:09 PM | Permalink

    I was at your reading, and I didn’t notice the zipper either. You were behind a podium — this does much to silence the zipper snickers.I was actually part of the crowd you hung around with for a while Saturday night — kilted! — and I’m hoping that my friends weren’t too terribly, embarrassingly drunk. :) It was great to meet you and talk to you, and I really enjoyed the reading! Thanks for coming to D*C, and if you enjoyed it, definitely see if you can make it next year.

  40. Anonymous
    Posted September 18, 2008 at 12:22 AM | Permalink

    Yo…I was in that reading…I didn’t notice your zipper at all. Why, I’d have been completely oblivious to this terribly embarassing situation if only…:-) Anyway, I was the one you gave a bottle of water too and was the first in line to get my book signed (Dragon is fucking insane). Just wanted to say thanks for a GREAT time. Your reading was one of my favorites.

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