Thursday, December 29, 2011

Can We Control Sex?


Three more days until the official release date of What Boys Really Want, and only three more days to enter the drawing over at Miz Fitz’s blog for a chance to win a free signed copy.

The image to the right, BTW, has absolutely nothing to do with the book. I just like it. Science and Invention was a 1920s magazine published by the sci-fi icon Hugo Gernsback. (You can find a gallery of other S&I cover art here.)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Miz Fitz Recommends Monkey Fists


Miz Fitz is giving away a signed, first edition hardcover of my new book, a romantic he said/she said comedy called What Boys Really Want. If you are not familiar with Miz Fitz, please check out her blog. If you find the experience to be disorienting (many do), allow me to explain:

Miz Fitz is the blogging identity of Lita Wold, one of the two protagonists in What Boys Really Want. Under the guise of Miz Fitz, the fictional Lita offers dubious advice to the desperate and confused. So, yes, this is getting somewhat meta.

Anyway, I've been having a lot of fun channeling Miz Fitz, and spending way more time on her blog than on my own.

To enter Miz Fitz's contest, you need only visit her blog and send her a holiday-related question by December 31.  The winner will be chosen using random operations. As of this writing, your odds of winning are excellent—so far, Miz Fitz has received only one entry! Your book, should you be selected, will arrive the first week in January. 

In an semi-unrelated note, since I know you are all desperate for last minute holiday gift ideas, Miz Fitz suggests this lovely item—the "perfect stocking stuffer." I think they are called monkey fists because nothing is better for creating "monkey bumps."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gilliam on Kubrick and Spielberg

Here's a short clip of Terry Gilliam talking about Steven Spielberg (not my favorite director) and Stanley Kubrick (God). I like it because I agree with what he says, and because the point he is making applies no less to literature.



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Brief Interview with Miz Fitz

In her own words, Miz Fitz's blog, "What Boys Really Want," offers "pithy, straight-from-the-hip advice" to her readers. Since she has generously recommended my new novel on her blog, I requested an interview. It did not go well.


Pete Hautman: First, let me thank you for taking the time to drop by to share your thoughts.

Miz Fitz: I am happy to do so, as it may increase my own blog traffic. Blogging is by nature incestuous. One cannot afford to be too fastidious.

PH: I could not help but notice that the title of your blog is the same as the title of my new book, What Boys Really Want. Was that intentional?

MF: Rest assured, I am in communication with my lawyers. They tell me you do not have sufficient resources for it to make it worth my time and effort to bring a lawsuit.

PH: Oh. Thank you. I think.

MF: You are welcome. Do you have a question?

PH: Yes. What do boys really want?


PH: I have read your blog.

MF: Have you learned anything?

PH: I learned a lot! For example, it had never occurred to me that some girls shave their toes. Do you shave your toes?

MF: Are you always so rude, or should I take this personally?

PH: You are very touchy.

MF: I prefer the term “discerning.” Goodbye.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I Have Been Inattentive...

...because I've been hanging out over at Miz Fitz's blog lately and not posting much here. Why? Frankly, I find Miz Fitz to be more interesting than me, which is in itself interesting, because I find myself to be endlessly fascinating. Writers.

What I like about Miz Fitz is that she can say things I can't, because she is "fictional." I've been thinking a lot about the concept of "fiction" lately, in part because I'm giving a talk at the Illinois Association of Teachers of English (IATE) conference in February. The theme of the conference is "Truth." I'm thinking that the title of my talk will be "Truth: It's All a Lie."

The other presenter at the conference is Ellen Hopkins. Why do I find that amusing?

Also amusing is the cover of the British edition of What Boys Really Want. I love that dotted line. Also, the hyphens.

BTW, Miz Fitz needs some questions.  I would really appreciate it if you would take a moment to ask her one.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gillette



I had a great trip to Gillette, Wyoming last week—five days of presentations to junior high students, about 2500 teens total.  Kind of amazing when you consider that there are only about half a million people in the entire state. That's...um...some small percentage of one percent of Wyomingans (Wyomans? Wyomanese? Wyomites?), but close to ten percent of all the 7th, 8th, and 9th graders in Wyoming. My thanks to the students and staff at the Wright, Sage Valley, and Twin Spruce schools. Everybody was really nice, and nobody fell asleep or threw rotten eggs.

My host and handler for the week was uber-librarian Sue Knesel (above right), who started me off with a trip to Devil's Tower, and took me to, I think, every restaurant in the greater Gillette area. Thanks, Sue!

In other news, the mysterious Miz Fitz is having a contest over on her blog.  The stupendous prize is an ARC (advance reading copy) of my upcoming novel, WHAT BOYS REALLY WANT.  All you have to do is send her a question before the end of November, and then hope she picks it.  Since only a few people have discovered Miz Fitz's blog, your odds of winning are quite good.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Obsidian Blade Cover Art

Nothing I like better than a really cool book cover with my name on it.  This one will be out in April.  Meanwhile, I'm working furiously on Book Two.  "Working furiously?"  What does that even mean?  I am not angry.  But I am, apparently, having a bad adverb day.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I Only Found One Mushroom This Weekend...

...but it was a fifteen-pounder.

Meanwhile, intrepid blogger Miz Fitz weighs in on offensive odors and breast size.  She is also very upset that something bewildering has happened to her blog. All her posts are suddenly appearing out-of-order, and some seem to be missing.  Miz Fitz considers this to be a tragedy of epic proportions, and she plans to give the folks at Blogger a Piece of Her Mind.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What Boys Really Want

I have a new book coming out in January, a romantic comedy called What Boys Really Want.  To celebrate, I've created a pseudonymous blog featuring the literary stylings of one "Miz Fitz," who suffers no fools.  Check out the new blog!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Drawing Dead...

The Kindle Version
The Nook Version
...is now available on both Kindle AND (finally) B&N's Nook.  This e-publishing is more confuserizing than I thought it would be.  My brain architecture seems to be incompatible with computer-think.  Or maybe I'm just impatient.  Anyway, it's done.  Both versions are priced at $2.99.  All the words are the same, but the Nook (ePub) version is a little nicer looking on the page due to Kindle formatting restrictions.


Monday, July 25, 2011

The Return of Drawing Dead

Original Cover Design

Most of you who visit this blog know me as the author of several "young adult" novels, but I’ve also written eight novels for "old adults." The first five of these are now officially out of print (boo-hoo), so I’m reissuing them as ebooks, beginning with my first published novel, Drawing Dead.

I began writing Drawing Dead while I was taking a writing class from Mary Logue, to whom the book is dedicated. In fact, I’ve dedicated several of my books to Mary, which says nothing good about my number of close personal friends, but a great deal of good about my relationship with Mary.

Drawing Dead was a critical success. It got a bunch of good reviews. Marilyn Stasio, in the New York Times Book Review, opened her piece with, “Whatever Pete Hautman was doing before he wrote Drawing Dead, he was wasting his time.” It was selected as a NYT Notable Book for 1993, and I thought I was gonna be the next Stephen King. 

I wrote four more books in the Joe Crow/Sam O’Gara/Axel Speeter series. Those books were also kindly reviewed, but sales were modest.  I became interested in other varieties of literary experience, and eventually they went out of print, to be consigned to the backwaters of eBay and your friendly neighborhood used bookstore curmudgeon.

Now, thanks to the miracles of digital technology, you can read Drawing Dead on your kindle, Nook, iPad, or other device.  For the Kindle version, click here.  For the Nook version, click here.  The other four books in the series will be available soon—assuming I sell enough copies of Drawing Dead to justify the expense of converting them.

My Hack-job e-Cover
For those of you who have read only my YA work, I should mention that in Drawing Dead the “f-word” and its variations occur 159 times. There are other discourteous words as well. Just so you know.

If you’d like to check out what sort of literary conceit you might be subjecting yourself to, Amazon lets you download the first four chapters to your device for free.

*Right now it’s only available on Kindle and Nook, but the other e-formats will be available soon.

Monday, July 18, 2011

About once every ten or twenty years, I write a poem.

A Note From the Dog*


When the freezer died
And all that meat
had to be eaten quickly
I was delirious with joy.

When you lost your job
And stayed home all the time
I could not have been happier.

When you had your cardiac event
And the doctor told you to go for a walk
every single day
I was ecstatic.

What ever would you do without me?


*FYI, I write fiction.  My freezer works fine, I haven't had a job in 25 years, and I have experienced no cardiac events.

Monday, July 11, 2011

About Mr. Was




Mr. Was, published in 1996, was my first “young adult” novel. Although not conceived as a novel for teens, when I finished writing the book I discovered that the main character, Jack Lund, was a teenager for most (but not all) of the story. This happened more or less by accident. Mr. Was is a time travel story. It covers much of Jack Lund’s life, and it happened that his experiences as a teen made for better storytelling.




Since then, Mr. Was has been through several editions. At this time, it is available in mass market paperback for $6.99. That is about to change. In a few months, a new trade paperback (large format) edition of Mr. Was will become available for $8.99, replacing the smaller mass market version. It will have a cool new cover design, and will include several minor corrections to the original text.



The timing of this reissue is fortuitous. The Obsidian Blade, the first book in my sci-fi trilogy, The Klaatu Diskos, will be released in April, 2012. The Obsidian Blade employs several of the concepts first developed for Mr. Was, and although it is not a “sequel” in the usual sense (the characters and settings are all different), I nevertheless think of it as a continuation.

Some people say that Mr. Was is my best book.  I do not agree, but I will say that during the writing process, Mr. Was surprised me in ways that none of my other books have.



Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Green Magic and Solid Objects

In a perhaps doomed effort to stimulate myself to post more regularly, I am going to undertake to enrich the lives of those hapless few who find themselves dallying here, by suggesting certain nourishing literary endeavors. 

Hrrumph. Sorry. I have been reading Jack Vance again. It is, of course, impossible for anyone who is not Jack Vance to write like Jack Vance, but it is also impossible to resist attempting to do so. Clearly, I have failed on both counts. 

Those of you who have read more than a few of my books may have noticed that one of the recurring themes in my work is the careful examination of my own navel.* That is, I like to write about the thing I am writing about in a manner analogous to a painter painting an image of a painter painting. Allow me to avoid making myself clear. 

Two short stories that I love, and revisit often, are “Green Magic,” by Jack Vance, the tale of an ambitious magician who seeks to expand himself beyond his mortal capabilities, and “Solid Objects,” by Virginia Woolf, a story about a young politician whose life is changed by the discovery of a lovely lump of driftglass. Essentially, they are the same story seen through different ends of the telescope. 

Both are allegories concerning the creative process—at least as I read them. Both are brilliant. Both are available free online: 

Green Magic 


Solid Objects

 *Speaking of navels…on the morning after after our first date, Mary Logue called her sister to make a report. “He has an Audi,” she mentioned, referring to my car. Mary’s sister, hearing the word outie, said, “You learned that on your first date?”

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Milestone!

As of today, one thousand people have viewed Part One of the Blank Confession book trailer to hear me performing Eddie Murphy's version of "Roxanne," and watch me getting hit with a stun gun. 



I am so, so sorry! But one thousand! That's almost as many views as Lady Gaga's Bad Romance video has received.  

Well, almost.  I have 389,549,053 to go.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Morels

Yes, it is morel season here in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and I've been spending a lot of hours in the woods.  So far I've found wood ticks and morels in roughly equal numbers.  We've had a long, slow spring, and while there are a lot of mushrooms out there - or so I've heard - I have not been collecting bushels.  More like a few ounces here and there, just enough for a few meals.

Yesterday I was at Byerly's and saw that they had morels for sale.  Three point five ounces of mushrooms so raggedy and dried-out that, had I found them in the woods, I would have left them to rot.  The price?  $19.99.  That's not the per pound price, that's for 3.5 ounces!

So, today, I am going out again, my pant legs soaked with DEET for the ticks, and an optimistic number of bags to be filled.  Wish me luck.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Anoka and Club Book

Mary and I had great time at our final Club Book appearance.  The Lyric Arts Center in Anoka is a lovely venue, and we had a nice audience, thanks to a whole bunch of folks from Edina High School making the journey north.

Anoka used to be a charming little town surrounded by farms.  These days it is still a charming little town, but now it is surrounded by a wasteland of suburban development--much of which is stalled out due to the economic downturn.  Still, the downtown area is vibrant in a "you can get anything you need on Main Street" sort of way.

The only problem we had was Representative Matt Dean, who stood outside the theater the whole time wearing a sandwich sign that read "I hate Neil Gaiman" on one side, and "Reading is for Pencil-Necked Weezles" on the other.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Speaking of Club Book...

Pencil-Necked Little Weasel
Earlier this week, Minnesota Republican House Leader Matt Dean went on a rant against "wasteful" spending.  Here's a quote from an article in the Minneapolis StarTribune:

"Dean also singled out a $45,000 payment of Legacy money that was made last year to science fiction writer Neil Gaiman for a four-hour speaking appearance. Dean said that Gaiman, 'who I hate,' was a 'pencil-necked little weasel who stole $45,000 from the state of Minnesota.'"

Neil Gaiman's witty and civilized response is worth reading.  Go, Neil.

Last year, Gaiman was a featured Club Book author, for which he was paid a generous honorarium.  He performed admirably, to a full house, and his talk has been broadcast and rebroadcast more times than I can count.  You can still stream it on MPR.  Bottom line?  The Metropolitan Library Services Agency and the Washington County Library System, who booked and paid for Mr. Gaiman, got their money's worth, and then some.  

This Saturday, when Mary and I do our Club Book event in Anoka, we will be speaking to fewer than 100 people, and our presentation will NOT be featured on MPR.  The Library Foundation will still get its money's worth, but the scale is not the same.  Neil Gaiman had the star power to reach far more people than we will, and he was worth every penny he received.  Which, incidentally, he did not keep for himself.  Not that he didn't deserve it.  Also, I like him because he is a mushroom hunter.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Club Book, the Finale



Mary Logue and I are doing our final Club Book event on Saturday, May 7, at 11:00 a.m., at the Lyric Arts Center in Anoka 

Club Book is a series of readings and talks by authors including Walter Mosley, Cathy Wurzer, Mark Doty, Sandra Benitez, Heid Erdrich, and others.  Mary and I are delighted and honored to be part of this amazing series.

Club Book is one of the many remarkable cultural and educational programs made possible by Minnesota's Legacy Amendment.  That's right—if you live in Minnesota, you paid for it with your tax dollars, so you might as well take advantage!

Our plan is to talk about some of our recent books, read a few short excerpts, talk a little, bicker a little, laugh a lot, and and enjoy ourselves

Please stop by if you are able—we'd love to see you there!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I Like This

This nice little graphic summarizes the first part of THE BIG CRUNCH.  I plucked it from unshelved.com.  You can order it from them as a signed, 11x14 print for twenty bucks.


I love the idea of super-brief graphic condensations of novels.  My favorite is Lucy Kinsley's version of The Twilight Saga. There is something so good-hearted about the way she pokes fun at a series that she loved enough to read in its entirety.

Have a lovely Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Libraries of Minnesota

Last night, at the Downtown Minneapolis Library, we celebrated the launch of Libraries of Minnesota, another beautiful book in the Minnesota Byways series by the MInnesota Historical Society Press.  Hey, I managed to fit "Minnesota" in three times in one sentence!



The book contains photos of—um, I think a zillion—Minnesota libraries, along with essays by six Minnesota children's authors, including me.  Photos are by Doug Ohman.  If you love libraries (and you should), you'll like this book.

Other than that, I got nothing.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I Be Jammin'

Last night Mary Logue and I attended the 23rd Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala at the Crowne Plaza in St. Paul, the "seventh most literate city in the country."  My novel Blank Confession was a finalist in the Young People's Literature category. 

It was a fabulous event—books, booze, dessert, and seven hundred people.  I must have known about two hundred of them, putting my name recollection skills to a brutal test. Author David LaRochelle, a tall, handsome, distinctive-looking man who I know quite well, approached me...and I drew a big goose egg.  FAIL! 

The event was organized by The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, with the lovely and prodigiously competent Alayne Ferguson at the helm. The event was, in my experience, unique in that while about thirty people had the microphone at one point or another, nobody blathered on for long.  Even the current and former mayors of St. Paul kept it down to three or four minutes.  Carol Connolly provided one of the highlights of the evening when she accepted the Kay Sexton Award for Contributions to Minnesota's Book Community.  St. Paul Pioneer Press book columnist Mary Ann Grossman was great too, as she presented the Reader's Choice Award to her Star Tribune counterpart Laurie Hertzel.

The best part of the evening for me, of course, was the strawberry jam with my name on it.


That's right—I won.  The hand-blown glass award, designed by artist Dick Huss, is intended, I think, to represent a flame.  But I prefer to think of it as strawberry jam preserved in glass.  Yum!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Snowmelt Report: April 15

This is getting VERY exciting! (Okay, I have no life.) Back in early March I predicted April 16th as the date when the last trace of snow would be gone from the white mountain across the street from our house. Well, today is April 15th, and I am feeling more confident than ever in my prediction.



Here's what it looked like 35 days ago:


Since I'm on a roll here, allow me to venture another prediction: The Rapture will NOT occur on May 12th.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

P≠NP

I did something scary this morning. I sent the final revision of The Obsidian Blade (Book One of The Klaatu Diskos trilogy) to Candlewick, where it will be sent straight to copyediting. Why is that scary? Because the next two books in the trilogy must be true to the first volume, and I HATE being locked in.

This is a problem for me, because according to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, I am decidedly a "P." Loosely interpreted, that means that where decisions are concerned, I like to stay on the fence as long as possible.  For example, Mary might notice me wearing running shorts and putting on my running shoes, and say, "Are you going for a run?"

"Probably," I say.  Because until I am out the door and running, I might yet change my mind.

Likewise, until the moment I hit the SEND button and dispatched my manuscript twenty minutes ago, I took comfort in the fact that I could still change the name of my protagonist from "Tucker" to "Tiberius," and reorder the chapters one more time, and rework that troubling scene on the roof of Kosh's black barn.

Here's another thumbnail from my notes:

That's Tucker (not Tiberius) confronting a disko in a 2000 year old tomb.

And below is today's Snowmelt Report.  I'm sticking with my final melt day prediction of April 16th. Just because I'm a "P" doesn't mean I don't know how to be stubborn.