Perfect Timing

Delightfully apropos to yesterday’s entry on authors (and the entry on pissy fans a couple days before that), Patrick Rothfuss updates all and sundry on the status of his second novel.

Also, Justine Larbalestier refutes one of my assertions in yesterday’s entry, for which she will no doubt be punished by our robot overlords.

30 Comments on “Perfect Timing”

  1. I’m a huge or your work as well GRRM. I personally I’d rather read a really great book that I will always remember and re-read than some crap that was rushed. The same people bitching about how long it’s taking GRRM to write his next book would be bitching if the book wasn’t good about how he rushed it and is just cashing in now. Anyways I really enjoyed you old man’s war novels and look forward to read more of your work.

  2. *throws blanket over Scalzi’s shoulders*
    *leads Scalzi away from keyboard*

    We know, honey. We get it.

  3. Y’know, I’ve been chewing on all this since you posted Pissy Fans. I’m a (lazy, amateur, half-assed) scribbler, too. I aspire to something like A Song of Ice and Fire, or what I suspect Name of the Wind will be, or Kushiel’s Legacy.

    But you know what this makes me realize? Just how much I admire people like Mercedes Lackey, and SL Viehl and Laurell K. Hamilton. 2, sometimes 3 books a year, like effing clockwork. Are they of the sort of flavor and exceptional quality as what Martin does? No, but they’re fun and readable, and something I’m happy to throw money at. I just BOGGLE at how they do it.

    What Jacqueline Carey did with Kushiel’s Legacy is more sort of in the middle. I think the quality of what she does is right up there with Name of the Wind, and she also does it like clockwork, a book a year. I was about to say, I wonder if the first-person POV is easier or faster to write than a third-person omni, but I just realized that Rothfuss writies in first, and Lackey, more or less, works in third. I wonder if Rothfuss uses an outline?

    Anyway, this epiphany came on me in the bathroom this morning (shut up, I was brushing my teeth) and this post compelled me to share, and possibly start a writer-wank in your comments.

    Do you outline, Scalzi?

  4. Patrick’s situation is a little different because he ran around saying things like:
    “What can readers expect from the two sequels and the trilogy that will follow this one?

    Well…. I’ve already written them. So you won’t have to wait forever for them to come out. They’ll be released on a regular schedule. One per year.

    You can also expect the second book to be written with the same degree of care and detail as this first one. You know the sophomore slump? When a writer’s second novel is weaker because they’re suddenly forced to write under deadline? I don’t have to worry about that because my next two novels are already good to go.”

    I can wait – whatever. Patrick actively promoted his trilogy on the basis that it was done and would be published regularly. I feel for the guy but my expectations came straight from his lips, not the Amazon release schedule.

    (probably should have ended here, but onward…)

    I used to shelve Sci-Fi and hear it from the fans in the store “When is the fourth book of the Gunslinger coming out?” (show two inch stack of ‘call me’ requests) “King said it was coming out this year.” (weary sigh) “Do you have the original Morgenstern edition of Princess Bride, not the ‘good parts’ version by Goldman” (facepalm – some people will not accept reality on this one) “Did Daniel Keyes Moran follow up Emerald Eyes?” (nope) SF fans can be challenging. The disproportionate number of mouth breathers really bugged me. They love SF with a passion that at times excludes reality and personal hygiene (soap, shampoo, conditioner – please for the booksellers). I has a guy ask for a schematic of the Enterprise – not the published ones but, you know, the *real* schematic.

    But SF fans buy books and are passionate about their books. Bitching fans are the ass end of it. The good end is being able to sell boutique editions through PS or Subterranean, a comparatively active short story market and conventions that do not suck. Selling books to people who really, really love books was particularly wonderful – getting that right book in the hand or having someone thank you for turning them onto a new series feels great.

    It’s somewhat perfect that the bitching fans have led to a wide swath of indignant author responses that are … a little bitchy. The best bitchy author response to fans ever is probably “Xenogenesis” by Harlan Ellison (given at a convention – awesome). Go read it for the final word on fan problems. Authors talk about their work and fans eagerly anticipate – let the codependent dance shuffle onward.

  5. If you don’t outline, your book will be an unreadable mess. Always outline.


    If you outline, your book will be a lifeless mess. Never outline.

  6. What gets me about this is as aspiring writer who post stories on my personal site. I get the same thing. I guess in my situation I should just be happy people read and like my stuff. But I don’t get paid at this point it’s hobby I wish I had more time for. I still get the nasty emails from people who want to know why I don’t write faster or more. Telling them I have a business to run and bills to pay only seems to cause more mail about my lack of dedication. Okay yeah.

  7. Hehehe. I used that idea (fans should go DIAF) in a post somewhere. Here or at Charlie’s blog. It was intended to be funny.

    Still, it’s funnier still to stop by the next day and see it in a comic.

  8. Kate, you are correct! The correct question would be “Does Daniel Keyes Moran have anything new in this series?”, and I botched it but here’s the context.

    Working in a used store, Armageddon Blues and Emerald Eyes were relatively difficult to find for customers, while The Last Dancer and The Long Run were relatively abundant. My interactions with customers about DKM generally happened when giving them Emerald Eyes or Armageddon Blues (we kept a list and doled these books out in order of request) so I would get asked about “follow up” DKM books when the customers was receiving Emerald Eyes/Armageddon Blues and had already read the sequels. The question really boiled down to “Has DKM written anything in this world lately?”

  9. It’s funny how comics work sometimes. Stacked within the others on Patrick’s site, this one reads just fine, but upon seeing this lone strip here, my first thought was “why is this man’s coffee talking to him?”

  10. What I love is the last panel. How better served would most of us be if we just deleted most of our knee-jerk reaction comments. Much better, I’m sure. 8D

  11. Patrick turned his comments, but what I love about his entry is that not only is truthful and amusing, traits this great bear of a man shows in real life, he gives us comics, too.

    Well played.

    Dr. Phil

  12. Appropriately, I just got Name of The Wind from the library last night and started reading it. So, the next book will be out by the time I finish, right?

  13. Thank you O Most Kind Robot Authorlord.

    I’m one of the few who didn’t finish Name of the Wind (I liked the start but when something came up later in the book I just decided to give it a break and never went back.

    Still it’s a great cartoon – and I have to agree with his statements.

    I may finish his book and want the next – and if so I want it to be as good as it can be.

  14. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.
    Patrick Rothfuss gets it: “Now I’m not saying you can’t be pissed. Feel free. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t express those honest emotions. Don’t keep it bottled up. It’s not healthy.”
    What a refreshing anodyne to the oft repeated refrain here (obviously paraphrasing a bit): “Your anger is stupid. You are being stupid and unreasonable. Stop being such a stupid stupid-face, stupid.”
    Jesus, a little anger isn’t stupid, it’s human. I can’t speak for anybody else, but I have not yet attained the level of zen detachment that would allow me to remain completely emotionally detached when I come across something that thwarts my expectations and annoys me. So, for instance, when I come across a new GRRM Wild Cards hardcover in the bookstore, it might play out thusly (either entirely in my mind, or muttered quietly): “Oh, sonuva – when is ANOTHER F-ING FIRE AND ICE NOVEL GOING TO COME OUT? It’s been forever, why do you hate me, George R.R. Martin. Why don’t you just stab me in the brain and finish – oh, hey, a new Tim Powers book. Do I have enough cash for that? I bet Tim Powers is a really interesting guy…” And then I’m spent. Or maybe I’ll mention it to my dad the next time we’re talking about what we’re reading.
    Note, that doesn’t mean I think less of GRRM as a writer or a person. It means I had a three second crankyfuss because I can’t get a book I very eagerly want to read.
    And it certainly doesn’t mean I think it’s acceptable to send him (or Rothfuss) harassing e-mails hinting at impending mortality, or verbally abusing somebody. That shit is for people who were raised by wolves.

  15. Ian M @ 8. Just for the record: Are you really saying that when a first time author starts talking in glowing term about his second book, a book which has to be delivered to a deadline of the sort that he’s never had to meet before and that he has no experience with, you didn’t give a second thought to the idea that he might possibly wrong about how the unfamiliar process was going to go?

    Because, when I was a first time author and dead certain my second contracted book would come in better than the first and ahead of schedule I knew better than to simply believe me, and so I built extra cushion into my negotiated delivery time just in case I was wrong. I knew that I’d never written a book to deadline before, despite having written seven at that point, and that the experience might not turn out as I planned.

    FWIW, I did turn that book in substantially earlier than my deadline but I couldn’t know it was going to work that way beforehand because every book is different. As for it’s comparative quality–that’s for readers to judge.

  16. The longer my favorite authors take in coming out with the next books in their series, the more time I have to get started on other unfinished series.

    And whenever I visit Justine Larbalestier’s site, I view it with Cornify (, just to spite her. Every site needs more unicorns.

  17. Check out the February issue of Locus. If you don’t get it, check your public library. It’s their annual recommended reading issue. If you can’t find some ideas in there for new authors to check out, whether you like science fiction, fantasy, or horror, I’d be amazed. You could even ask your friendly sf/fantasy reading librarian for ideas. There’s one or two of us at most public libraries, and we love to talk about books. You’ll probably give us some new authors to try, too.

    Okay, getting off my library/Locus soap box now.

  18. Kelly,

    I saw similar articles and some of them seemed to indicate that the book had already been finished in something like a 2000 page version and was merely being split into 3 parts. How much that impression was due to the article’s author, how much to mmy imperfect memory, etc… who knows? Of course, things are never that simple and I imagine that he took another look, thought of a few things and… :). But the initial message sent out was of a very long work already done and being published in thirds vs “And I’m writing the 2nd book and it’s rocking!”

    Me, I’ll happily wait. I liked Name of the Wind a lot and I’d like the second book to be something he is proud of which will most likely mean it will be a great book.

    Enough of this, I just got the paperback version of Iron Angel…. off to read.

  19. Kelly @21
    The quote seemed very clear to me.
    Patrick finished the trilogy before publication of the first book. His claim was that the second book was already finished, complete and ready for printing. It was not confidence the book would be completed on deadline, because the book was already complete. Apparently he decided to make some changes in the later volumes. That’s fine by me. However, Patrick created expectation for the immanent arrival of his second book, GRRM did not engender his fan’s expectations, so directly comparing these situations is inaccurate.

  20. I actually feel pretty bad for Rothuss in his second book being late. From what I understand, he faced some pretty intense personal tragedy (both parents being diagnosed with cancer, his mother passing away) since the release of the first book.

    If that did indeed happen, I am sure that anyone aware of the circumstances would feel compassion, understanding, and patience towards the author.

    Even if the book was written, as advertised, it would probably still need edits and the like before it is released. And it would be hard for the author to even be able to concentrate enough to make any needed edits/changes while facing such a horrible family crisis…

  21. “Even if the book was written, as advertised, it would probably still need edits and the like before it is released.”

    Yep. And… meh. It will get released and then… I will read it!! After that… I’ll read the next one!! (Yes, yes, I know… Iron Angel… it’s on the table next to me, with a beer. No, it’s not drinking the beer.)

    Ian – shit happens. Maybe the book was complete at the time… and then he looked at it and thought about stuff and… boom, there you go. Not so complete anymore. The GRRM thing seems odder to me since he apparently said several times it was almost done. But in the end… it will get in peoples’ hands when it does. A few seconds of eye-rolling ala Scott is perfectly understandable… people want to read more of these worlds. Getting bent out of shape and flaming real human beings is beyond the pale and anyone who does so should get slapped. hard.

  22. Rick, Ian, fair enough. Also, sorry if I sounded a little snarky there. Pat’s a friend and I perhaps reacted more defensively on his behalf than I ought.

    I haven’t read the article in question and that sounds pretty unequivocal. Perhaps nuts, but definitely unequivocal. I wonder what was up with that and whether it was Pat waxing a bit overconfident or the article author not including a full set of qualifiers.

  23. No harm, no foul Kelly. Me, I blame the writer of the article cuz it can’t be Pat and certainly not ME! :)

    I was actually starting to think about whether the next book in the series was coming out since I vaguely remembered 2009 being talked about. Too bad it’s delayed, but I like Name *so* much that I’d far rather he take more time and get it right.

    My list of unequivocal demands is:

    1) Thou shalt write until thou art satisfied.
    2) Thou shalt then send the manuscript into thy Publisher.
    3) In the meantime, though shalt remember to smell the roses, drink some wine and Have a Life.

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