Tag Archives: PenguiCon

Protecting Our Nation’s Youth

So a couple months back, I went to the Detroit area for a convention.

Whenever I’m at a convention I find myself thinking, “I need to mention it this on the blog.”

The problem is this: When I get back from a convention, I’ve usually got a bunch of catching up to do. Revisions. Sarah needs kissing. And I usually have about 500 emails to sift through.

So I put off writing the blog for a couple days. But then something else always seems to come up. The convention stories get pushed back and eventually I give up on telling them.

But today I’m going to break that bad habit and tell a few of the stories from Penguicon.

I got a chance meet Randy Milholland in person for the first time. Randy does a webcomic I’m terribly fond of. He’s also one of the first webcartoonists to mention The Name of the Wind to his readers. It was a really big deal for me at the time, as it helped spread the word back when not a lot of people knew about the book.

We didn’t get to hang out as much as I’d hoped, but it was still cool to see him. I also took this picture:

That’s Randy drawing on the head of one of his fans. I took the picture because at the time I was a little jealous. But now that I’ve thought about it some more, I’m not so sure I’d like that sort of artistic responsibility.

I also had a lovely little adventure with Howard Tayler of Schlock Mercenary. But rather than re-tell that story, I’ll just link to his version of events. I honestly do not remember dropping the f-bomb on him. But Howard is a lovely guy, and I trust his memory more than mine.

I got to hang out with John Scalzi a little bit. He was delightful as ever. At one point he gave me an onion ring.

I honestly cannot remember why I took a picture of it. I think I was joking about selling it on e-bay.

Scalzi also told me a story.

Apparently, (Scalzi said) Subterranean Press sent him an ARC of The Adventures of The Princess and Mr. Whiffle.

The package showed up at his house, and his wife opened it. She flipped through it briefly, then set it down.

Later, his young daughter Athena wandered by. She saw the book and was curious about it. Understandable, really. On the surface, it looks like something every child would love:

(Warning: Do not allow book to come in contact with actual child.)

Anyway, Athena was lured in. She picked up the book, read it, and was a little… disturbed.

Athena then took the book to her mom and said, “I don’t think I like this.”

Luckily, mom was on the ball. She sat down with Athena and they chatted about the book. Processed it. Afterwards Zoe felt better, and, apparently, became rather fond of the book.

So fond of it, in fact, that Athena took it to school and asked the teacher if they could read it during story time. The teacher read the book and said “Hell no.” Though she said it in a much politer teachery way.

After Scalzi told me the story, I had a premonitory sweat. I shook my head and said, “I really need to put a sticker on the front of the book that says: This shit is not for kids.”

The idea rolled around in my head for a while, and so I talked to the illustrator, and we came up with this:

Then I had my best idea ever that week. Why not make the sticker really eye-catching? That way, people couldn’t help but notice the sticker and be fairly warned about the non-kid content.

I have to say it turned out perfectly. What’s more eye catchy than a gold-foil sticker? I’m sure when this is properly affixed to to the front of the book, people will be amply warned. Our nation’s children are now safe. Only the most foolish and lazy-minded of parents would ever mistake it for anything other than a warning label.

If you ordered your book from Subterranean Press, rest assured that you’ll be getting a sticker shipped to you along with your book. For the children.

In closing, two quick related notes:

1) Don’t hassle the folks at Subterranean Press, asking them if your book has shipped. They’re shipping them out as fast as they can. Be patient.

2) Subterranean is also shipping out their prizes from the Worldbuilders raffle. They’re sorry about the delay, but it was unavoidable. So if you get a couple unexpected books in the mail, it’s not a mistake, it’s a prize. Enjoy.


Posted in conventions, The Adventures of The Princess and Mr. Whiffle | By Pat72 Responses

There and Back Again….

So I’m back from Penguicon and the signing off near Detroit.

Both events were a good time. I had the chance to read the Princess Book to a few people, hung out with other author types and talked geeky writing talk. It was fun. I’ve even got a few pictures to share…

I’ll post those things later. Today I’m going to talk about part of the convention that usually gets glossed over: The traveling.

The truth is, traveling is one of the hardest parts of going to conventions. It is for me at least.

Conventions themselves are easy for me. I meet people, sign books, talk on panels, and do readings. It’s exhausting, but it’s not hard. I’m a fairly decent public speaker, and I like meeting fans and other authors. So conventions are a treat for me. They’re a break from my otherwise rather unsocial and solitary life.

But the traveling isn’t fun. It’s expensive, irritating, and time consuming. Worst of all, I seem to get sick every time I go on an extended plane ride.

That’s the main reason that I do so many events here in the midwest. And that’s the reason that I decided to drive to Penguicon.

It takes about 8-9 hours to drive from central Wisconsin to Troy, MI. Still, given check-in times and layovers, that’s only a couple hours longer than a plane. Plus it’s cheaper and I don’t have to worry about people groping through my luggage.

The trip to the convention was relatively uneventful. I made a pitstop in Madison to hang out with some friends I don’t see nearly often enough and helped one of them move some furniture around in his new apartment.

Have I ever mentioned that I used to be a professional mover? It was only a summer job, and I was in better shape back then. But still, it’s nice to keep my hand in, just in case this whole writing thing doesn’t pan out for me in the long run.

It’s on the way back from the convention that things get interesting. After my library reading I hop in my car, enter my home address on my Magellan, and start driving.

I feel I should mention here, in yet another tangent, that I feel morally conflicted about the Magellan. I got it as a Christmas present from my dad, and it’s wonderfully convenient. But at the same time I believe devices like this are actively endumbening the populace. You should be able to read a map, folks. You should know which direction north is.

Did I ever mention I used to be a delivery driver too? I was. I can read a map. What’s more, using a brilliant mixture of zen navigation, Aristotelian logic, and pure rage I can get you your package and/or delicious sandwich relatively close to on-time.

That’s another fallback career for me.

That said, I do use the Magellan when I’m in unfamiliar territory. I don’t have a map of Detroit. It’s quick, easy, and usually accurate.

Note the *usually.*

The Magellan tells me to turn right, then left, then right. I just follow along, as most of my attention is focused on listening to Warren Ellis’ Crooked Little Vein on audiobook.

But something doesn’t feel right. I look at the one of the passing signs and see that I’m heading north. I pull over in a gas station and have a discussion with the machine:

Me: What the fuck, Magellan?

It: Calculating Route.

Me: No. Seriously. What the fuck?

It: Turn right onto North 74.

Me: North isn’t the right way to go.

It: Ding!

Me: I’m going to Stevens Point. In Wisconsin. Through Madison.

It: Calculating route. Stevens Point is 974 miles away.

Me: The fuck it is. Go south.

It: Ding! Turn right onto North 74.

So I throw the thing into the footwell of the car. I throw it hard, too. So it knows who’s in charge. You people might have to deal with that sort of insolent backtalk from your machine overlords, but not me. I work with machines in one way: they do what I say or I fucking destroy them and do it myself. I consider myself a Darwinistic force in machine evolution. I’m encouraging them to evolve along more helpful lines.

The gas station is depressing. The woman behind the counter doesn’t know which road leads back to I 94. She doesn’t think the gas station has any maps to sell. She suggests I get directions from someone who has an iphone. She has one eyebrow. Not kidding.

So I find the maps myself, buy one, and get back into the car. Using the map and eight seconds of rational thought, I find the sensible route home.

After two hours the Magellan’s battery starts to die and it chirps at me pitifully from the passenger-side footwell. I let it starve for another ten minutes then bring it out and we have another conversation.

Me: How far away is Stevens Point?

It: 820 miles?

Me: What’s your name?

It: M-Magellan?

Me: No. Your name is bitch. I’m asking you one more time, how do you get to Stevens Point?

It: You should head south through Chicago on I 94.

Me: That’s right I should.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that an hour later, after paying a toll, my driver side window refuses to roll back up. Machines tend to stick together like that.

So I pull over at another gas station and kick the hell out of the door for a while. I do this partly in case it’s a loose wire or something that can be fixed by kicking, but also as a warning for any other machines nearby that are considering insubordination.

Then I go into the gas station and explain the situation. I don’t want to drive another three hours with damp, 50 degree air blowing into my ear. Cardboard and duct tape isn’t good either, as it would limit my visibility too much. The attendant there is cool, and lets me poke around in back looking for useful supplies until I find a roll of that plastic stuff you use to wrap up pallets.

Did I ever mention I used to work in a warehouse? I did.

I have to say, even though I’ve been out of the game for about two decades, I still have some mad pallet-wrapping skills.

Then I went home.

Everything said, it was still way better than flying.


Posted in being awesome, conventions, day in the life, tangentality | By Pat94 Responses

Signing in the Detroit Area

Is it just me, or does the phrase “Detroit Area” seem like some sort of horrifying euphemism?

Most euphemisms are kinda friendly, playful even. It’s easy to say things like “my privates” or “my special purpose.” That’s the whole reason behind a euphemism, to give us a way to refer to indelicate things in places where we can’t simply say, “genitals” out loud.

But man, “Detroit Area.” That has the opposite effect, doesn’t it? What sort of wretched, demented individual would use the term “Detroit Area” to refer to their nethers? In what context would that be considered even remotely appropriate? I can’t help but think of dimly lit alleys and phone-sex hotlines that charge 29 cents a minute.

Gech. I can’t stop thinking about it now. This shit’s gonna give me bad dreams…

What was I talking about again?

Oh. Yeah. I wanted to tell you that I’m going to be in the… out there. In eastern Michigan.

I’ll be attending a convention Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, then doing a my usual reading/signing/Q&A combo at the Baldwin Public Library on Sunday afternoon.

The details, as always, are over on the tour-schedule page of my website and on facebook, but I know how lazy y’all are, so I’ll just cut and paste the upcoming weekend’s events here for those of you who pay for your internet on a per-click basis.

PenguiCon 2010
April 30th – May 2nd
Panels, Signings, Q&A
Troy Marriott
200 W. Big Beaver Rd.
Troy, Michigan 48084

Reading, Signing, and Q&A
Sunday, May 2nd 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Baldwin Public Library
300 West Merrill Street
Birmingham, MI 48009

I’ve never been to PenguiCon before, but I have high hopes. The last time I went to a convention in Michigan this happened:

[Edit: for those of you who are curious, that’s John Scalzi in the middle of this freaky little love in. Jim C. Hines is on the left. I’ve mentioned his Goblin books on the blog before. He’ll be at Penguicon this weekend too…]

There, now we’ll both have trouble sleeping tonight…


Posted in appearances, tangentality | By Pat76 Responses

Upcoming Appearances

For those of that might be interested, I have a couple appearances coming up in the next couple of months. You can see details on the tour page.

I’ll be adding more dates to the tour page as new things get scheduled. I’m cutting down on my conventions a little this year because of Oot. But I will be attending PenguiCon this year. (And San Diego Comic Con, if I can somehow get hold of a badge.)

Plus, I’m thinking of taking a little road trip.

You see, Sarah has a family wedding that she really wants to go to down in Virginia Beach. Since I’m not thrilled with the thought of taking Oot on a plane, we’re going to be driving down.

This means I’m going to be traveling through a big piece of the US I’ve never visited before. And whenever that happens, I wonder if there might be a bookstore or a library in the area that would be interested in hosting a reading/signing….

The wedding is on the 21st of March. That doesn’t leave us a lot of time….

So here’s the deal.

Here are the two potential routes I can take down to Virginia beach:

(Click to Embiggen)

You can also go look at the google map directly if you follow THIS LINK.

If you live in this part of the country and want to help set up a reading/signing there are two options.

Option One:

If you happen to own, manage, or work in a bookstore or library somewhere on this blue line, and you’d like to set up a reading/signing, you should drop me a via the contact form on the webpage.

Option Two:

If you don’t manage a bookstore or a library, but you still want to help lure me into your neck of the woods, you could go ask your local bookstore/library to see if they’d like to host an event. Then, if they’re interested, you can have them drop me a line. Again, using the contact form.

I know this is a relatively tight timetable, but I think we can make it work.

As an added incentive, if we do set up a reading or two, you can be relatively sure that you’ll get to hear a bit of The Wise Man’s Fear, as well as get a sneak peek at The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle.

(I’m so friggin excited about this book.)

A few helpful tips:

1. If you post a comment below that says, “Come to Cleveland!1!!!” it will not in any way facilitate my coming to Cleveland.

Like I said above, I need to get in contact with someone who has the authority to set up an event.

1b. Ditto about sending me the phone number of a local bookstore. I just don’t have the time to call 100 places and track down the two or three that might be interested. It’s way better if YOU call them and ask them. Then, if they’re interested, you can send me a message with their contact information.

2. Please take note of the blue line in the map above. If your hometown/bookstore isn’t on that blue line, it’s going to be a lot harder for me to make the trip. I’m spending 40 hours driving down and back to Virginia. Since I have my baby with me, I’m not eager to add a long side trip.

2b. New York and Boston are not close to the blue line, just in case you were wondering.

2c. If you want to lure me off the blue line, it will probably require some manner of lavish bribe or exceptionally exciting venue.

2d. I will make one exception to 2c. If there’s a willing bookstore in Canton, OH, I’ll make the trip. Because it will give me an excuse to wear my Jayne hat, and sing “The Hero of Canton” at the reading.

3. Your house is not a viable venue for a reading. A good venue should have seating for at least 40 people and hopefully some way of selling books. A nearby coffeeshop is also a plus.

I honestly have no idea if this will work. But I’m guessing out of the thousands of people who read the blog, at least a few of them have to work in bookstores and libraries. I love doing readings and signings, so I’m hoping we can set up at least a couple appearances so I can meet some of y’all down there in the southeast.

Rest assured I’ll post up a blog as soon as we manage to set anything up.

Thanks for your help,


Posted in appearances, calling on the legions, The Adventures of The Princess and Mr. Whiffle | By Pat151 Responses
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