Search Results for: lesbian unicorn

Lesbian Unicorns

Pat,

I had to miss San Diego ComicCon this year. It’s my first one I’ve missed in five years. Many tears.

What did you think of it compared to last year? This was only your second ComiCon, wasn’t it?

Michelle

This was only my second ComiCon, Michelle. But I have to admit that it felt a lot different than the first one.

Part of the difference was that this year I knew the lay of the land. I knew where the all night deli was. I knew the layout of the dealer’s room and how to find the place with the good seafood.

The other big change was that this year I’m a dad. This was the longest stretch of time I’ve spent away from Oot since he’s been born. It was harder than I expected, and I missed him from the very first day.

For example, last year when I went to the con, my mental commentary was like this: “Hey! Hot girl dressed as Poison Ivy! Hot girl in chainmail! Hot catgirl! Batman!”

I make no excuses for this. I am who I am.

But this year when I walked around the con, I was thinking, “Oh, look at that baby! Cute baby! Baby dressed up as Yoda! Hot Catgirl! Batman!”

Also, this year I was smart enough to schedule times to meet people instead of just hoping we could get together. As a result, I got to have dinner with Brandon Sanderson and Christopher Paolini on Saturday night.

We had a lovely conversation, and at some point Paolini told us that in an early draft of his first book, the main character was named Kevin, not Eragon.

Not to be outdone, I said that in an early draft of The Name of the Wind, Kvothe was actually a lesbian unicorn.

I didn’t think much of it. This is the sort of thing I say all the time, and I don’t expect people to pay much attention to me.

But I failed to take into account twitter. Which led to someone sending me the profoundly bizarre e-mail.

So the next day when I was doing a reading and signing at Borders, one of my lovely readers brought me a present:

It is, of course, a lesbian unicorn. His name is Kvothe. You may of heard of him.

I had a good laugh over it, and thought that would be the last I ever heard of it. But after I get back from the Con, I find one of my friends has sent my the following surreal e-mail.

Pat,

Okay, so I am doing a search for “pink unicorn gay” in Google Images because, well, it’s a long story…  (Shut up!)

Thing is I spotted something very odd pretty early on in the results.

I swear to you this isn’t a set up or faked or anything.  I just typed in “pink unicorn gay” and this is what I got!

[name withheld for blackmail purposes]

(Click to Embiggen.)

So yeah. That was the unexpected result of this year’s ComiCon. Permenently linking Kvothe’s name with the phrase “Lesbian Unicorn.”

Working to make your day a little more surreal,

pat

Posted in babies, Catgirl, conventions, fan coolness, lesbian unicorns | By Pat72 Responses

Fanmail Q&A: The Biggest Mistake

Pat,

I love your books, and I’ve been reading your blog for years, silently lurking. Not wanting to take up your time with a comment, let alone a letter.

But here’s the thing. After years of thinking about it. I’m actually starting to write.

Yeah. Surprise surprise. I’m looking for advice.

I know most of it I’ll have to learn on my own. And I know you don’t have time to tell me all the tricks of the trade you’ve learned over the years. But I was hoping you could tell me just one thing. Not something I should do. Something I should avoid. What’s the biggest mistake you see new writer’s make in fantasy?

If you can tell me what that mistake is, then hopefully I can skip that one and make other mistakes instead.

Love,

Jan

Awww…. free love.

Well Jan, the biggest mistake I see new writer’s make is the grocers’ apostrophe.

No, wait. Don’t cry. I’m just teasing a little. I mock because I love. I don’t hold minor grammatical goofs against people. I’m no Strongbad. Hell, I make the classic it’s/its mistake more than half the time.

Anyway, to the heart of the matter. Let me answer your question the way that I answer all questions, with a story.

Months ago, I was sitting around with Oot. He was just starting to get really verbal in those days. Whole sentences. Picking up words right and left.

More to the point of this story: he was just learning how to count.

So. We’re sitting around and I hold up a finger and say, “One….”

He knows where I’m going with this. Counting is a new thing, so he’s pretty exited about it.

“One…” I prompt him again.

He jumps on board this time. “…two. Three. Four! Five! SIX! EIGHT! TEN! SIX! THREE! SIX!

He gets really worked up after three. He makes little fists and waves around his arms enthusiastically. On a good day he’ll get all the way up to nine before he falls apart.

It’s perfectly natural, really. When you have a cool new piece of information to show off, you’re bound to get excited.

Later on in the day I come in and he’s reading a book with Sarah. It’s the last page in a big Richard Scarry book, and it has groups of things lined up, just for counting. One picture of a whale. Two pictures of walruses. Three pigs.

You get the idea.

Mom is coaching him with ladybugs and buttons. There’s lots of those, way more than ten.

I tag Sarah out so she can go do some stuff on her own, then I sit down with Oot.

I point to the book. “How many walruses are there?”

He looks at the page. “One…. Two….” He looks at the book seriously.

There’s a pause. A long pause. He furrows his brow.

“Two,” he says.

“Good job!” I say, completely earnest. This is big stuff. Cutting edge. I’m proud of him. He really thought it out. Didn’t just make a guess.

I point one line down on the page. “How many pigs?”

He looks at the three pigs. “One… two…. Three.”

But he doesn’t stop there. He’s on a roll now. “Four! Five! Six! SEVEN! TEN! SEVEN! MANY!” He finishes by throwing his arms up over his head triumphantly.

It’s cute as hell, really. But the fact is, he’s wrong. He got carried away.

And this, Jan, is the biggest problem I see most new fantasy authors make.

* * *

(Yeah. That’s a scene break. I’ve decided I can put a scene break in my blog if I feel like it.)

You see, one of the hardest parts about writing fantasy novels is describing things.

Now this problem isn’t unique to fantasy novels. No matter what genre you’re writing in, you have to describe things. That’s a given.

The problem is that in fantasy, there’s so much you have to describe.

If you write a novel set in the real world, you can assume your reader will have a certain baseline knowledge. They will know about Seattle and Paris. They will know what the internet is. They will (almost certainly) know who Robin Hood is. They’ll (probably) know who Don Quixote is. They’ll (maybe) know who Cyrano De Bergerac is.

But when you’re writing fantasy, especially secondary-world fantasy (By which I mean fantasy where the story takes place in a world other than our own) the reader doesn’t know anything about your world. They don’t know the cultures, religions, magic, or cities. The reader doesn’t know anything about the myths and legends of the world.

Now a lot of times, this is one of the major selling points of the book. A big payoff of secondary-world fantasy is the thrill of exploration. We get to see new countries, fantastic creatures, odd cultures, curious magics, etc etc.

And, honestly, this is one of the big perks of being a fantasy writer. We get to build castles in the sky, then show them off to people.

So here’s how it goes wrong.

1. You create something for your fantasy world: a creature, a culture, a myth, whatever.

2. You’re proud of your creation. You’re excited about it. You love it with a fierce love.

3. You need to describe this thing to your reader, because if they don’t understand how it works, your story won’t make sense.

(3b. Remember, the story is the real reason people are there. Story is everything. Story is god.)

4. So you start to explain how folks in the the Shire celebrate their birthdays. (This is important because one of the first major events of the book is a birthday party.) You talk about how hobbits give presents away at their parties instead of receiving them. (This is important because it ties into why Bilbo is going to hand over the ring to Frodo.)

Then you start talking about how some of these presents get passed back and forth, party after party. And how those items are actually called mathoms, and how there’s actually a museum full of mathoms at Michel Delving, which is in the Westfarthing of the shire, since, as you know, the Shire is composed of four sections which take their names from prominent families in the area, such as Tookland being named after the Tooks, who are among the largest and oldest of the Shire families, and in fact still held the title of Thain, which had been passed to them from the Oldbucks, and while the title was largely ceremonial these days due to the lack of Shire-moot in recent, peaceful times…. Four! Five! Six! SEVEN! TEN! SEVEN! MANY!

You see what happens? It’s easy for an author to get so caught up in the details of the world they created, that they go off the rails and give us more than is really necessary for the story.

Now it might seem like I’m picking on Tolkien a little bit here. But again I say: I mock because I love. I grew up reading Tolkien, and I mean that quite literally. I read the lord of the rings at least once a year through all my teenage years.

To his credit, Tolkien gave us one of the best traditions of our genre, that of elaborate, realistic worldbuilding.

Unfortunately, he also gave us the tradition of providing *way* too much information at the beginning of the story.

Tolkien is the cornerstone of modern fantasy. His impact on the genre is immeasurable. His arm has grown long….

Again, I love Tolkien. But the prologue to The Fellowship of the Ring is one of the most egregious instances of info-dumping in existence. At best, it resembles the dry essay it was intended to resemble. At worst, it’s like reading Leviticus.

(Okay. Fine. It’s really more like reading Numbers. But you know what I mean…)

And yeah, you can argue that Leviticus is a chapter in the best-selling book of all time. But the key is that the bible doesn’t *start* with that chapter. The bible starts out with action. Right out of the gate you get you have magic, “Let there be light.” You get conflict. You get character development. You get a good antagonist, drama, betrayal, exile from paradise. That’s exciting stuff. Genesis really gets the story going. It sets the hook.

That’s why the bible sells so well. Only after you get involved in the plot does Moses start giving you the heavy worldbuilding in Numbers and Deuteronomy. He did that for a reason. If he’d started the bible with the info-dump, it would have been *way* too boring. No publisher would have printed it.

So how do you avoid falling into the trap of telling too much?

I wish I could give you a simple answer to this, Jen. But the truth is, I could teach a week-long class on this seemingly simple question. There are dozens of tricks and cheats. There are hundreds of ways to do it well, and thousands of ways to do it badly.

What makes this such a horrible problem is that “too much” is largely a matter of taste. Some readers really *do* want to read all the details of the ancient Shi-Ang dynasty, and how their government relied upon the use of telepathy crystals. Other readers just want you to hurry up and get to the part where the Lesbian Unicorn Sisterhood initiates apprentice Ayllisia into the secrets of the Eternal Kiss.

It’s also a matter of style. Some writers are better at making exposition engaging than others. Some worlds are more alien than others, requiring more explanation.

My personal philosophy is to err on the side of caution. Given the choice, I’d prefer to give too little description and leave you wanting more, rather than give a lot and risk you being bored.

And yes, I’m aware of the irony of preaching “less is more” after writing a 400,000 word novel. Imagine how long it would have been if I hadn’t been consciously riding the brake.

In my opinion, Jen, the biggest thing is you can do to avoid this problem is to be aware that it *is* a problem.

Knowing is half the battle, and all that.

Verbosely yours,

pat

Later Edit: Yeah. I know the author of the e-mail was Jan, not Jen. I changed it as an oblique reference to the way that Strongbad would usually change/screw up the names of the people that wrote into him by the time he finished answering their questions.

See? That way we start and end the blog with a Strongbad reference, providing a sort of closure and narrative unity.

I can tell from the comments below that at least a few of you got it. But it’s clear the rest of you just thought I didn’t care enough to get her name right.

Just wanted to let you know that I’m not an insensitive asshole. No. I’m just prone to arcane referential douchery.

Posted in Fanmail Q + A, I mock because I love, Oot, the craft of writing, Things my baby has taught me about writing | By Pat85 Responses

Foreign Books, Rare Manuscripts, Signed Maps, and More…

This weekend we had a snowstorm big enough to collapse a few buildings, close highways, and kill people all through the Midwest. There were were reports of a lamb born with two heads that sang with the voice of a small child. Stars fell from the sky, there was a rain of blood, and people found that they could twitter 145 characters.

I also turned in the final version of The Wise Man’s Fear to the printers. I’m sure it’s just coincidence.

Now that I’m free from the shackles of editing, I can finally post last few auctions and donations. In the next few days we’ll have touching stories, interviews, books from celebrities, and all manner of awesome.

So stay tuned until the Dec 17th, because we’ve been saving some of the best for last.

Here’s what we have today…

  • A set of young adult books and a signed copy of The Last Unicorn.

Back in September, I answered a piece of fanmail that asked me what books I would recommend for YA readers.

It was a fun blog to write. It must have been a fun blog to read, too. As we racked up almost 500 comments from people eager to talk about their favorite YA books.

Then, when I was starting up this year’s fundraiser, a generous reader contacted me and offered to donate all the books I’d recommended to Worldbuilders. She suggested I auction them off as a set.

I said it sounded like a fun idea. So here they are.

In addition to the books, I’ve added something of my own. A copy of the 25th anniversary edition DVD of the Last Unicorn, signed by Peter S. Beagle himself.

To see more pictures or to bid on this collection of books you can follow this link.

  • A map of Alera and a hardcover first edition of First Lords Fury by Jim Butcher. The book is signed by Jim Butcher and the map is signed by Jim Butcher and the illustrator Priscilla Spencer.

Note: The Lesbian Unicorn, cool octopus and Valerie’s knights are being used for display purposes only, and are NOT included in this auction.

If you’re a map geek like me, then you have to love this map of Alera. Not only is it very posh, but it’s signed by both author Jim Butcher and the illustrator, Pricilla Spencer.

(If this auction gets out of your price range, you can buy signed copies of Priscilla’s map over here on this site. Sales of the map go to support Books For Boobs, a charity with the best name ever….)

Oh. And we’re including a book, too. It’s a first edition hardcover, signed by Jim Butcher himself.)

It’s pretty good if you’re into that whole epic fantasy thing.

To see more pictures or to bid on this book/map set you can follow this link.

  • The original typewritten manuscript for The Fire Dragon by Katharine Kerr. Signed by the author. With signed paperback copy.

What we have here folks, is a real rarity. Katherine Kerr was generous enough to donate the original manuscript for The Fire Dragon to Worldbuilders this year.

Not only is this a unique item, it’s actually a relic of a bygone age.

Let me explain. When my first book came out in 2007, they gave a paper printout of the book to the copy editor. Then the copy editor read the manuscript and marked up the pages, making comments and corrections. My editor also made comments on the manuscript.

Then we sat down and talked about the changes that needed to be made. Some of them small grammatical things, some of them bigger issues.

I liked the process. I liked looking at proofreaders marks on a manuscript. It felt cool to me. It was an arcane process. A little outdated, sure. But most holy rituals are a little dated when you think about it.

What I didn’t realize was that I was participating in something that was the very end of an era.

This year. Hell, this month when I went over the comments and corrections for Wise Man’s Fear, it was all on screen. It was all tracked changes and embedded comments in a Word file.

There was no paper, and honestly, I missed it.

Talking to other authors and editors who have been in the game longer than me, I get the impression I’m in the real minority with these feelings. The new way is easier, faster, cleaner.

But still…

Anyway, my point is that not only is Katherine Kerr’s manuscript a one-of-a-kind collector’s item. But living, working, paper manuscripts like this are no longer being produced. Their time has passed.

But thanks to Kerr’s generosity, you can get this piece of publishing history for your very own if you win this auction.

To see more pictures or to bid on this manuscript you can follow this link.

Katherine Kerr has also donated foreign translations of Daggerspell and Dark Spell to Worldbuilders this year. We have copies in Dutch, Finnish, Russian, and French. All of them are signed.

Since these are items that will be of great interest to some people, but of very limited use to many others, we’ve decided not to add them to the general lottery.

Instead, we’re putting them up for sale in the Worldbuilder’s store: The Tinker’s Packs.

I will admit that when Katherine donated these books, I had a wonderful thought. What if a bunch of fantasy authors all donated their spare foreign editions to Worldbuilders?

You see, whenever a publisher prints your book, they send you a couple free copies. When you get books in your native language, they’re useful. You can give them as gifts. You can send them to reviewers. You can sell them on street corners to impressionable children…

But when your foreign publishers send you books, it’s harder to put them to good use. I usually give one to the Library, then put the rest on a majestic shelf that I use to intimidate my enemies.

While that’s a lot of fun, giving them to a worthy charity is also a really good idea.

Maybe if enough authors donate their unused foreign editions, we can make Worldbuilders the place to shop for multi-language editions of cool Sci-fi and Fantasy novels.

The following donation gives me hope that my dream might not be too far from becoming a reality….

A couple months ago when I started spreading the word about the Worldbuilders, my Portuguese publisher Gailivro dropped me a line.

I have to say I have a warm spot in my heart for Gailivro. Not only did they publish a lovely edition of my book with a cool cover. But they also did a movie-style trailer for the book to help promote it.

Better still, Gailivro also publishes the lovely Peter V. Brett who I interviewed for last year’s fundraiser. They offered to donate some Portuguese translations of his book to the fundraiser. I said that would be terribly kind of them.

Then they asked me if I could use some other Portuguese books, too.

I assured them I could find a good home for any books they cared to send….

Thanks for chipping in, Gailivro.

*     *     *

Remember folks, for every 10 dollars you donate to Heifer International, you get a chance to win hundreds of books, DVD’s and other types of assorted coolness.

In addition to that, Worldbuilders is matching 50% of all donations made on our Team Heifer page before Dec 17th.

For more details about Worldbuilders, the auctions we’re running, and the other donated books, you can head over HERE.

P.S. There’s still a little time left to bid on the auction for the signed Brett Favre Jersey, too.

Posted in Worldbuilders 2010 | By Pat19 Responses

Is it drafty in here?

So today I was going to pass along some news about the book in a blog titled, “Why I don’t talk about Book Two.”

The blog was proving rather difficult to write until I realized it was really two blogs. So today we’re just going to get the news, and I’ll talk about the other stuff later.

Here’s the news: I’ve finally finished my latest draft of The Wise Man’s Fear.

Oot is shown in order to give a sense of scale. And because my baby is frikkin adorable.

This manuscript is about 200 pages longer, and about 500 pages different than the last one I took a picture of. I’ve fixed plotting, tweaked characters, cut scenes, added scenes, re-written, re-organized, re-read, and re-re-organized sections of it so many times that I couldn’t even begin to give you a number of versions it’s been through.

Now last time I posted up a picture of a manuscript on the blog, people got all twitterpated. They saw that big stack of papers and said things like, “Yay! That means the book will be out next month!!1!” and “Wow! How are they going to bind something that big?!?”

So before we all go leaping to a bunch of unfounded and erroneous conclusions, let’s talk about a few things.

First, this manuscript is printed in….(wait for it) manuscript format. That means it’s one-sided, double spaced, and printed in courier new font. That’s what makes it look so big. Typesetting the book comes later in the process. That’s one of the many, many steps that comes later.

That said, The Wise Man’s Fear is going to be bigger than The Name of the Wind by at least 100,000 words or so.

Second, let’s discuss what a draft is. A draft is a version of a piece of writing. Almost always it is an early or preliminary version. You can have things like a rough draft, which is… well… rough. A second draft, which comes after the first draft. Or you can have things like a final draft, which is… well… final.

Is this going too fast for anyone?

This is not the final draft of book two. If it were, I would have said something like, “This is the final draft of book two.” But I didn’t. So it’s not.

But it isn’t a rough draft either. The one I turned in several months ago was rough. There were some bad plot holes, some logical inconsistencies, pacing problems, and not nearly enough lesbian unicorns.

This draft is tighter, cleaner, and all around better. I’m really pleased with it, but it’s not quite perfect. Not yet.

What this *doesn’t* mean.

The book will not be out next week. The book will not be out next month. Right now there’s no publication date. Remember when I said there wasn’t a publications date? There’s no publication date.

What this *does* mean.

The book is a big step closer to being done.

The book is way better than it was before. That last draft of the book was okay. It had some great parts, some parts that were “meh” and some that were “huh?” Overall, it averaged out to about 70 percent awesome.

Which isn’t bad, but I’m not content with a C-minus book. This draft is way better. I’m guessing about 90-92 percent awesome. Way better. But still not perfect.

I’m working on the book, even if I don’t constantly talk about it here on the blog. More about this in the upcoming blog: Why I don’t talk about Book Two.

What happens now?

This manuscript goes to my editor, Betsy. She reads it carefully, maybe twice. She makes notes, then we talk about what she thinks might need to be changed/tweaked/fixed.

Then, depending on how much work we think it needs. We put it into the production schedule. That means we’ll have a publication date. Which I will tell you. On the blog. With words.

Then I do another set of revisions. Or more likely, several smaller sets of revisions, as I’m a freak like that. Luckily, these next sets won’t be nearly so extensive as my last round.

In metaphorical terms, the last round of revisions was like an organ transplant. Invasive, complex, labor intensive, and with a long recovery time. The revisions I do after this will probably be more like cosmetic surgery. Or an appendectomy at worst.

But first, I get to relax. I’ve been working on this fucker nonstop for months. And now, finally, I get to take a break while I wait for Betsy’s feedback.

I’m pretty excited to be seeing more of you too, Oot.

You see folks, Oot is one happy baby, all laughs and smiles. But in order to get this revision finished, there have been times over the last several months when I’ve spent weeks at a stretch working 10-14 hours a day. That’s not counting e-mail, dealing with translators, and writing the occasional blog.

That means on some busy days, I only get to play with him for half an hour or so. If our sleep schedules don’t match up, some days I don’t get to see him at all while he’s awake.

I’m not mentioning this to get sympathy. I’m mentioning it so you can better understand my life. I’m mentioning this so you know what exactly goes through my head when someone sends me an e-mail or posts on my blog, saying, “Just finish the book for fucksake!”

So…. that’s the news. The book is going well. There are parts of it that I’m so proud of that I almost can’t help but talk about them here. It’s coming. Be patient. And rest assured that I’m not just lounging around, doing whippets and eating the cotton-candy underthings off nubile young catgirls.

As for myself, now that the book is out of my hands for a couple weeks, I’m planning on catching up on some family stuff and playing Bioshock 2 until I puke.

Oh, and I’ll be catching up on a few blogs I’ve been meaning to post, too. Tune in on Monday and I’ll be announcing some of my upcoming appearances for convention season.

There will also be a chance for you to get me to come do a reading/signing at your local bookstore if you live in the right part of the country. Specifically in between Chicago and West Virginia…

So stay tuned….

pat

Posted in book two, lesbian unicorns, Oot | By Pat263 Responses

Musings on Movies and Music

I’ve talked before about my movie daydreams. It’s a fun thing to think about mostly because we haven’t sold the rights yet. That lets me imagine it the way I hope it will be, without any irritating reality getting in the way.

If a movie does get made, it will be probably be terrific in the traditional sense of the word. The truth is, the more I think seriously about who I would cast in the movie, the more I realize that I’m really not qualified to make those sorts of choices.

Sure sure, there are actors that I really enjoy and admire. But just because I like an actor doesn’t mean they’d be right for the movie adaptation of my book.

I think what a lot of people forget is that there’s a huge difference between enjoying a role an actor has played in the past, and being able to predict whether an actor will be right for a role in the future. I love James Marsters as Spike, But that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a good role for him in the book.

Casting is profoundly speculative. Predictive. Not predictive like poker. We’re talking weather forecast predictive. Voodoo predictive. Even with my caveman knowledge of the movie world, I respect the hell out of the casting directors who can do it well. And though I enjoy daydreaming, I haven’t fooled myself into thinking I could do their jobs.

(That said, I still stick to my choice of Neil Patrick Harris for Bast. That is an opinion that fire cannot burn from me.)

The same is true with cinematography. And special effects. And a lot of the other technical elements involved in working in film. Those are highly specialized skills and I would be an idiot to think I could do them better than the professionals.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I wouldn’t want to be involved in the movie. I know the book better than anyone. I know the characters and the world. What’s more, I understand how stories work, and story transcends medium. Story trumps all. That’s where I’d be helpful.

Still, these days when I daydream about the movie, I don’t think about the big picture. It’s more fun for me to think of little things that would add to the movie. I like to think the powers that be would let me amuse myself with some small things in order to shut me up while they re-write the screenplay to turn Kvothe into a lesbian, shape-changing unicorn.

I think a lot about music in the movie. Not the score, mind you. That’s another specialized skill. What I mean is that I think about who we could put on stage when Kvothe is in the Eolian. I think about who would play the troupers from the early part of Kvothe’s life. I think about how cool it would be to have some really awesome musicians doing cameos in the movie.

I’m not talking about celebrity walk-ons, like Britney Spears. I’m talking about modern-day troupers. People who spend so much time making music that it’s practically a superpower.

I’m talking about people like this:

I want them in the movie. How could I not?

I just stumbled onto this clip, and I don’t know anything about the musicians other than the fact that their names are Cecilia Siqueira and Fernando Lima. They’re Brazilian. And they’re obviously awesome.

Extra minion points for anyone who can dig up some contact info on them. The Brazilian edition of Name of the Wind came out just a little bit ago and I’d love to send them a book.

Later all,

pat

P.S. There’s no news about the book. If I had news, or a release date, I would post it up in a blog.
No blog = No news.

Posted in lesbian unicorns, movie talk, music, videos | By Pat137 Responses
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