Author Archives: Pat

Conversations with Cutie

For those of you who are keeping track, my youngest son is just a little more than two years old now. And far all ages have been good ages with my sons (so far) this is a particularly special age for me. It’s the age of language acquisition.

He’s a good talker, and has been using full sentences for a couple months now. But listening to him is still a bit of an acquired skill, because…. well… he’s still a baby, so all of his words don’t quite sound right.

By the way (Pat said, managing to tangent away from his primary purpose in the blog in a record-breaking two paragraphs) did you know that the reason it takes kids so long to talk isn’t primarily mental? A huge portion of it is actually physical. They lack the physical control required to make the proper sounds with their mouths.

It makes sense when you think about it. Learning how to pick up a pencil is hard, but learning to whistle is *way* harder. Learning how to accurately and consistently recreate the 42-46 phonemes that comprise American English…. well… it’s easy to forget how hard it is until you see a kid struggling with the process.

Think about it, your lips, tongue, jaw, and vocal cords all have to orchestrate things together *very* precisely just to make just *one* phoneme. Like an “Mmmmm” sound. And each phoneme has many variations.

Then realize that even a simple word like “more” has *three* of those phonemes. And all of those need to be pulled off correctly, together, in about a tenth of a second.

And that’s just for one word.

This is why a lot of parents do sign language with their young kids. Kids can understand you much younger than they can talk (Most folks who have studied a foreign language know the same feeling: being able to understand a question in your new language, but not answer it.) Babies can think in words much earlier than they can *say* most words, which means they can communicate with you much sooner than you think if you teach them a few gestures.

Cutie

(Don’t look so smug, little man. That’s a pretty sloppy “more.”)

The reason parents understand their kids better than anyone else is because we’re more experienced with our own children’s  particular accent and dialect. And even then, *we’re* clueless some times as to what the kids are saying.

This is why parents constantly repeat what kids say back to them. Partially we do this so children can hear a clearer version of what they’re saying, which helps them improve their pronunciation. But it’s also because we’re double checking what we think they’re saying. (And honestly, I’m guessing there’s some straight-up biological imperative mixed in there, too.)

Anyway, all of this is preamble and context so I can share a conversation I had with Cutie the other day.

Cutie: Daddy Faat es laou!

Me: Daddy’s fart is loud?

Cutie nods: Es yike ayafat.

I’m clueless here, so I look to Sarah.

Sarah: It’s like an elephant?

Cutie nods again: Daddy’s faat es yike a yion wohr!

Me: Daddy’s fart is like a lion?

Cutie: Wohr!

Me: It’s like a lion’s roar?

Cutie nods again.

So… yeah. Now you know. Even if you didn’t want to know, you still know. And you can’t unknow it.

Sorry about that.

pat

P.S. In case you were wondering, having kids is pretty great.

Posted in babies, Cutie Snoo, day in the life, things I shouldn't talk about | By Pat24 Responses

How To Seduce An Author….

It’s been kinda quiet here on the blog lately. Part of the reason for that is because I’ve been recovering from the fundraiser, trying to catch up on my e-mail, and spending more time with my family because they got pretty short shrift while Worldbuilders was going on.

And I’ve been working on other things too. Dreaming dreams. Scheming schemes. Occasionally machinating.

The things I’ve been working will be showing up over the course of the year, some of them sooner rather than later. Many of them you’ll hear about first here on the blog, of course. Because I appreciate y’all stopping by and seeing what I have to say.

The Worldbuilders team hasn’t been letting the grass grow under their feet either. And yes, it’s partly due to the fact that it’s winter here in Wisconsin. And yeah, sure, it’s also because letting grass grow under your feet would be kind of a weird thing to do even if it was springtime….

Let me start again. What I meant to say is that the Worldbuilders team has been busy getting things done. In addition to packaging up hundreds of lottery prizes, they’ve been getting some new stuff ready for the Tinker’s Packs.

For example:

  • Valentines Day Cards.

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Okay, okay. They’re not *specifically* Valentines Day cards. But they’re appropriately love-themed greeting cards just in time for those of you who might be looking to impress a geeky special someone on V-Day.

Also, do you see something a little different in what we’re doing this month?

That’s right. These cards aren’t just Kingkiller flavored. This year Worldbuilders is going to be doing our best to partner up with more authors: making cool things you’ll enjoy, while making the world a better place. So this month we’re launching cards not just from me, but based on Jacqueline Carey and Neil Gaiman’s works as well.

The card on the far left is mine, by which I mean it’s really by the wonderful Jackie Morris, a stunningly talented artist. She made this piece of art just for us, inspired by a quote from The Wise Man’s Fear: “These old name-knowers moved smoothly through the world. They knew the fox and they knew the hare, and they knew the space between the two.”

You can get the card with the quote inside, or a blank version that you can wax rhapsodic all over on. Both are available here.

Anyone who’s read Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series will recognize the center card. The phrase “Love As Thou Wilt” is a core concept of the books, and a beautiful idea besides, so making it into a Valentine’s Day card was a no-brainer.

Lastly, there’s the card from Neil. It’s based on some excellent advice from him.

For those of you who are oddly terrified of clicking that link, a fan once asked Neil: “What do you think is the best way to seduce a writer?”

Neil replied with some of the truest words ever spoken.

Writers tend to be really good at the inside of their own heads and imaginary people, and a lot less good at the stuff going on outside, which means that quite often if you flirt with us we will completely fail to notice, leaving everybody involved slightly uncomfortable and more than slightly unlaid.

So I would suggest that any attempted seduction of a writer would probably go a great deal easier for all parties if you sent them a cheerful note saying “YOU ARE INVITED TO A SEDUCTION: Please come to dinner on Friday Night. Wear the kind of clothes you would like to be seduced in.”

And alcohol may help, too. Or kissing. Many writers figure out that they’re being seduced or flirted with if someone is actually kissing them.

Yeah. This is so true that it hurts. The majority of my relationships have started with girls kissing me, and me thinking, “Oh! Hey! She’s interested in me! Suddenly a lot of her behavior over the last few months makes much better sense!”

Because this strikes so close to home for me, I’ve wanted to make a card out of this for ages. I can’t thank Neil enough for giving us the thumbs-up.

So… yeah. Trust me. This card is really the way to go if you’re hoping to seduce a writer. If there’s someone in your life who’s really bad at taking subtle hints, get them this card.

  • Curious Lovers print

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(Copy of Wise Man’s Fear not included, but good at demonstrating scale)

Jackie Morris painted this for us faster than I could believe. Honestly, I think she said she got all of it done in a night.

Once we had it in our hot little hands, we couldn’t help but turn it into a print. It’s gorgeous. And if you want one of these beauties for yourself, you can get it right here.

TigersWife_WithSignature_Blog

Téa was one of the authors who attended NerdCon: Stories this year. While we were there, she stopped by the Worldbuilders booth and signed some copies of her debut novel.

I just went looking for my goodreads review of this book, because I read it and *really* enjoyed it. But apparently that’s one of the books I only *meant* to give a gushy review to last year. You’ll have to just trust me. It’s a good read, and you can grab a lovely signed one right here.

  • Copies of Level Up Your Life. Signed and inscribed by Steve Kamb.

LevelUp_WithSignature_Blog

I’ve heard good things about this one. It’s all about getting in shape and living a healthy life…but doing it in the nerdiest (and therefore best) way possible. You live your life like a character in a video game, movie, or book: you set goals and go on quests, find allies to help you with quests, train your skills, and level up all aspects of your life.

There doesn’t sound like any better way to get healthy, and these have been specially inscribed for us. You can get your own copy right here.

  • Individual Vintish Court Rings.

NameRings

We’ve had so many people over the years say that they wish they could get just one of the Court Rings, so we’ve finally decided to let you get just one Court Ring instead of the entire set, if you’re so inclined.

For a ring to give to your superiors, get the gold-plated ring. For someone of an equal rank, you’ll want the silver-plated ring. For those who are simply beneath you, the iron ring is the best choice.

  • Special Promotion: Greeting card + Jewelry = 15% off both!

vday bundle2

Since Valentine’s Day is coming up, we wanted to give you the option of doing all your shopping in one place. If you buy an item of jewelry from the specially-selected Valentine’s Jewelry Collection, as well as a greeting card, you’ll get 15% off both items. That is some unbeatable math.

Just so you know, The Tinker’s Packs usually puts up new products every month, but I don’t always mention them here on the blog. If you want to make sure you a heads-up about new stuff, it would probably be a good idea to sign up for the mailing list….

Later all,

pat

Posted in cool things, Neil Gaiman, Novelties | By Pat35 Responses

The Danger of Sequels….

As many of you know, I have a profile on Goodreads. These days, when I talk about books, I usually do it over there.

Here’s a link to my profile if you’re interested.

I don’t really review books so much as I share my thoughts about books that I’ve read. Sometimes what I talk about reading with my kids. Sometimes I talk about story structure or the craft of writing.

It’s really all over the place.

Recently, I re-read a book that I read more than 20 years ago. Rendezvous with Rama.

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I liked it, even though it’s outside the style and genre I normally read. And so I wrote a little bit about it on goodreads. Then did something I didn’t do the first time I read it, even though I’d wanted to: I sought out the sequel so I could find out what happened next in the story.

The sequel book itself was perfectly well-written. But it irritated and angered me more than any book has in years.

The experience was… odd. It was troubling and confusing. I think about multi-volume stories a lot (for obvious reasons) but this brought some of my thoughts about sequels and follow-up works into focus. So I ended up writing those thoughts out. Partly for people who might be considering picking up the book, so they can be forewarned. But also just so I could get my own thoughts straight in my head….

Here’s the beginning of the review, if you’re interested.

So. Two stars. That’s a really low rating for me. Normally, if I really don’t like a book, I just move on with my life. But this one had elements that hit close to home for me.

Sorry, I realize that I was just speaking Midwestern Understatement. What I meant to say was that this book is a tangible manifestation of my nightmares.

Is this an awful book? No.

Did I enjoy it? No. It frustrated me from the first page. From *before* the first page, actually. More than that, even. This book made me angry.

But is it a bad book in itself? No. Which is why I’m writing a review of it. To explain this strange situation and to talk about the danger of sequels.

The rest of the review is over here if you’re interested. Be warned, there’s some strong language in there…

pat

Posted in Goodreads, holding forth | By Pat25 Responses

My Kind of Crazy

Back around 1995 or so, in my early college years, I went over to a friend’s house and sat down on the couch next to him. He was watching a documentary about David Bowie.

I didn’t listen to much music as a kid, and I grew into an adult that doesn’t listen to much music, either. Back then, I didn’t have the slightest idea who Bowie was. After watching this documentary for about 45 seconds, I made some sort of snide comment about this person on the screen. Just shooting my mouth off. I probably said something about how this guy was obviously just a attention whore, and a garish, desperate one at that.

My friend, who knew a *lot* about music turned to look at me for a long moment. And while he didn’t look at me in disgust… well… his expression was a close cousin to disgust.

“Dude,” he said. “David Bowie is you. If you had money and talent,” he hesitated for a moment, looking me over, then added. “And style.”

At the time, the comment did what it was meant to do: it put me in my place and shut me up. Later in my life, I took it as a huge compliment, even if my friend hadn’t meant it that way.

Today, I just learned that Bowie died. I’ve been thinking about him, and reading about what people are saying about him online. And here’s the truth: Bowie didn’t have a huge impact on my life. I’ve never owned one of his albums, or even listened to one of them all the way though. (Like I said above, I came to music late in my life, and .)

But I always was glad he was out there, doing his thing. Looking at the two of us, at our lives or our careers, there’s not much similar there. But I like to think we were on the same team. That we were fighting the same fight.

As to what that fight is… well… that’s hard to articulate. Every time I try to simplify it, it doesn’t sound right. This particular sentiment doesn’t lend itself well to slogans, but “Get down with your bad self” and “Let your freak flag fly” come pretty close.

In an odd connection, as I write this, I find myself thinking of John Green’s phrase, “Imagine me complexly.” I think that Bowie was the crystallized embodiment of that concept. He defies simplistic reduction. It is impossible to think of him in a simple way.

(Also, John. If you’re reading this, I think you’d be a great Bowie for Halloween some year. You should really consider it.)

That’s all. I don’t really have a point here. No thrilling conclusion. No narrative arc. No anagnorisis. Just musings.

Be good to each other, people.

pat

Posted in a ganglion of irreconcilable antagonisms | By Pat40 Responses

The Final Day: Stories

As I write this, Worldbuilders has raised more than $1,200,000. Making this far-and-away our most successful fundraiser ever.

Simply said, it’s been an amazing year. Together we’ve raised enough money to change tens of thousands of lives forever. We are responsible for hundreds of families getting goats and sheep and pigs. We’ve raised enough money for hundreds of wells, thousands of chickens, millions of bees. We are planting forests full of trees. We are helping bring medicine and light and hope and self-reliance to people all over the world.

Because of your generosity and kindness, children will grow up healthy. Parents will go to sleep knowing their children had enough to eat that day. More importantly, those parents will sleep well, because they’ll have tools and resources to control their own lives and make sure their children will have food tomorrow, too.

We could not do this without you.

*     *     *

I have a fondness for stories in the same way that I have a fondness for drinking water and breathing air. Stories are how we learn the shape of the world. And, in certain circumstances, they help us shape the world into what we want it to be.

Given this, it’s not particularly surprising that during the fundraiser we’ve told stories about how Heifer International changes lives. We’ve told you about Fred, Florence, and their children, who lived the majority of their lives as refugees but who now run a successful farm thanks to the gift of a cow. We told you about the city of Bhairav, where yearly floods made it impossible for children to attend school until Heifer International helped the village to establish and maintain its own school.

But there are other stories in our fundraiser. Hundreds of tiny stories of people stepping up and chipping in to make Worldbuilders a success. Stories that have made me proud of you. Stories that, sometimes, have broken my heart a little.

There’s too many to share them all, but today we’re going to bring you a few. I hope you like them.

*     *     *

If you’ve been following us on twitter or facebook this last week, I’m guessing you’ve seen more than a few #BilboItUp pictures brought on by my recent blog.

Like this one from Riley:

Bilbo

“37 degrees with snow from last night. No paychecks while I wait for my new job to start. Scraping by during the month of Christmas. Sounds like a good time to donate!”

Or this one from Kelly:

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“Digging a bit deeper so I can donate again.”

A lot of people have cashing in their change jars, like Adrienne:

“I’ve wanted to donate for years, but haven’t been able to.  This year I saved my change all year and have been able to save $20, which I am thrilled to donate to such a worthy cause,  I only wish it were more.”

Or Humberto, who took some things into perspective:

“A worthy cause I am glad to support. I could never solve my own problems with $10. At best I’d get a single lunch at Subway or Taco Bell. The idea that $10 can do so much for someone else has made me reach into my pocket several times. I’ll gladly pack lunch from home to give when I can. Keep up the awesome work.”

Some folks got their families involved, like Christopher and his kids:

“My 5 and 6 year old kids were so excited about donating to Heifer that they were willing to sell us their Halloween candy. The biggest dilemma was pig, goat or sheep. They took so long to decide that Worldbuilders started up and I’ve been waiting for a day like today. [With matching donations.] I’ll get to share with them that because of the generosity of others, their sheep just turned into a sheep and a pig and two goats. Thank you!”

John’s daughter had a similar process, and made sure he sent us pictures.

“I told my 7 year old daughter, Julia, about Worldbuilders, and she’s matching my $1000 contribution with $5 of her own.  She dug into her bank to do this… see attached photo.”

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(This is a pretty awesome bank.)

In the comments of my blog, Swiltam explained how she brought her kids in:

“Talked to my kids about it, they each have a small savings account (as a single mom of 5, so you can imagine how small, and at the same time, how big that might be). They’ve each decided to donate, and some of them have decided to forego what gifts they would have received so we can donate more. Thanks for the honesty and inspiration.”

Or Gary and his two little ones, who gave all of their money to help out after he explained it to them.

“I usually give $30 to Worldbuilders during the annual fund raising.  Today Dec. 1st I read the Blog entry Pat wrote about his Mom.  Then Pat wrote about matching and the Heifer matching as well even though he thought he was all done donating this year.  I shared the Blog entry to my 6 year old and my 9 year old and asked them if they wanted to give to the fundraiser from their own money.  They have a savings jar and a spending jar each.  They both wanted to donate and my 6yr old said he would give $20 and my 9yr old said he would give $10.  They are great kids and just amaze me at times like this.  So here is $30 from me and $30 from the boys.  Thank you for giving me this moment with my boys and what you do for all the other kids out there through Worldbuilders.”

Some people are donating Christmas gifts, like Gavin and his family:

“We’re skipping (almost) all Christmas presents this year as a family. We want to make sure 2 girls get the chance to go to school. All of our needs are met, it’s time we help others.”

Or like Lauren and her brother.

“My brother and I are both pretty bad at Christmas presents.  Our wants are either pathetically simple (I would like some warm socks) or wildly unattainable (a $2000 gaming laptop).  But neither of us actually need anything*, and Christmas should be about warm fuzzies and making the world better, not knicknacks that sit on a shelf.  So we’ve decided that the best way to say “I love you” sounds a lot like “I bought someone else a goat”.  So here we are.  Personally I hate goats, after some bad experiences at a camp petting zoo, but I wish this goat many happy years of providing healthy food and maybe some income to its family, on behalf of Dan Bradford and his lovely new wife Lisa.  Merry goatmas, everyone.”

*not quite true, I really do need socks.

We had surprises too. People who went an extra mile, even after they’d already contributed something fabulous.

Authors Bishop O’Connell and Brenda Cooper matched the funds raised from their tuckerization auctions. BeLinda, the winner of the True Dungeon game auction, also matched what she paid for that auction with a donation.

There are some stories, though, that just floored us. Like this #BilboItUp.

Here’s one from the fundraiser page:

“In Hebrew the word for life is the same as the word for the number 18. It has become tradition to give gifts/donations in multiples of 18. It is my hope that my gift of $100 x 18 (life) touches 100 lives.”

$1800 is enough for 12 irrigation pumps.

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That doesn’t just install a pump (though that by itself is already pretty great). It gives farmers training in water conservation and irrigation techniques. 12 irrigation pumps help improve the yield of 12 different community farms. Which means those farmers will produce food more efficiently, and that makes it something they can sell for less. Which means the other people in their community can afford more food.

I think it’s safe to say that your donation will effect 100 x 18 people.

Of course, not everyone has 1800 dollars to give. Luckily people like Victoria understand that in Heifer’s hands, $20 bucks can change someone’s life, too.

“As a starving college student, I don’t have a lot of money, free time, or sleep. But I do have a roof over my head, food, and an education. Even though I can’t give a lot, I owe it to those with less than I do to give something. I hope the flock of ducks are cute as well as helpful!”

And Jeremy really hit it on the head:

“I often feel like I don’t have much (renting an apartment, used car, trouble saving for my own house) then I slap myself for being a spoiled idiot and think about people who have to plan ahead to drink water. This charity seems the best to me since it focuses on a sustainable environment. Fruit trees instead of canned peaches and the like.”

Honestly, there are so many of these little stories. If we included half of them, this blog would be ten thousand words long.

Okay. Just one more from Jacob:

“I’ve been farming for five years now, and have been lucky enough to help a small school in Tanzania start a farm so the children at the school can eat a simple lunch. Heifer International consistently renews my faith in humanity with the amazing work you do. Words cannot describe what a gift to the world you people are. Thank you.”

As I’ve said. Today is the final day for the fundraiser. We have until midnight UTC-8 to hit our final goal of $1,225,000, make use of all of the matching offered to us, and hit our final stretch goal.

TunesFromTemerant_AuriVariation_NoArtitst

(Details over here, if you like.)

Okay fine. Just one more. From Ariella:

“My 8yo daughter heard me discussing WorldBuilders at the dinner table, and asked if she could donate. $2 may not be much, but it’s 15% of her savings. I think we’re doing something right with this one :)”

Thank you all so much, everyone. Thanks for caring. Thanks for helping out. And thanks for proving to me yet again that people are inherently good.

Here’s the link to the donation page. Just in case you might find a use for such a thing….

pat

Posted in being awesome, Geeks Doing Good, Worldbuilders 2015 | By Pat29 Responses

Tunes From Temerant and Books From Pat’s Treasure Hoard

In the last two days, Worldbuilders has raised more than $100,000. Bringing this year’s fundraiser total to over $1,163,000.

This is delightful news, and as we currently have someone matching all donations, it means a net gain of over $200,000 for Heifer International.

Even better, we still have around $100,000 dollars of matching money available to us, but fair warning, there’s only a few days left to take advantage of it.

To celebrate our continued success, I’m putting some books from my personal collection into our prize lottery. What’s more, I’m making a bit of an announcement about our final stretch goal.

Actually, that’s me engaging in Midwestern understatement. Let me re-phrase. I’m going to make a really big announcement. This is something I’ve been dreaming about for years. If Worldbuilders manages to hit $1,225,000 by Friday the 18th, using up *all* the matching donations we’ve been offered, I’m going to pull the trigger and bring this dream to life.

It’s a musical anthology based on my books. It will feature songs *about* my world, and *from* my world.

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(Art for this CD mockup courtesy of Melarune.)

I’ve been thinking of calling it Tunes from Temerant.

I’ll talk about that more in just a moment. First let me show you the books I’m adding to the prize lottery.

*     *     *

  • Pat’s Books:

all teh bookses

(Click to Embiggen)

I could go on at some length about what I’ve pulled out of my bookish treasure horde here. Some of these are limited editions. Some of them are out of print. There’s a bunch of authors I’m sure you all know: George Martin, Neil Gaiman, Jenny Lawson… (And you can see for yourselves that I’ve thrown a full set of Buffy and Angel into the mix, as well as a bunch of Firefly. Because if you don’t own those, you really should.)

Bur rather than go into obsessive detail, I’m just going to mention that all the books on the top two shelves are signed and leave it at that. If you’re really curious, you can click on the picture, embiggen it, and peruse the spines to your heart’s content.

This shelf full of books brings the total prizes in the fundraiser lottery up to 2751, with a combined worth of over $102,000.

Since every 10 dollars you donate on our team page gets you a chance to win, this is what we refer to as a Prize Rich Environment. To prove this, let me offer up our handy-dandy probability calculation widget thinger. It’s stuffed full of good math provided by the fabulous Vi Hart. (Because when it comes to probabilities, I apparently can’t be trusted to math my way out of a wet paper sack.)

Go ahead and play with that a little bit and you’ll see what I mean. $20 will buy a family a flock of chickens. $120 will buy them a goat. $250 will get an entire town clean water.

But in addition to that, you have a great chance of winning lovely books and games, too.

And since we currently have matching donations in place, the effect of your donation will be doubled.

And there’s only 2 days left in the fundraiser.

And if you donate, you’ll move us toward our final Stretch Goal…

*     *     *

  • Tunes from Temerant

I’m not saying the CD will look like this. But honestly? I wouldn’t mind if it looked like this….

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(Credit for this beautiful art goes to: Michelle Tolo.)

If we hit $1,225,000 this year, Paul & Storm have agreed to help me produce an album. The album people have been asking me about for years.

You see, I love music, but have no musical talent of my own. But over these last several years, I’ve ended up making a lot of musical friends. Beyond that, I’ve come to realize that a lot of musicians out there are fans of my books.

So a couple weeks back, I sent out email and Paul and Storm did some asking around. And it seems like among our friends (and friends-of-friends) we know enough quality musicians to make this happen. I have secret lyrics and a world full of music. They have talent. It’s a match made in heaven.

Paul and Storm and Pat point at YOU - Color

(creepy, crazy-eyes heaven)

But I’ve held off so far because while a Temerant album would be cool, it would be another project. And I don’t need another project in my life right now. But if we hit this stretch goal, Paul and Storm are offering to step up and orchestrate this thing (heh). Which is about a billion times better than me doing it, as they’re the ones with all the musical production know-how and networking connections. The only thing I bring to this project is enthusiasm and beard. (Which, in the name of my Jethro Tull cover band, by the way.)

So. If this is something you’d like to see happen, be aware that the fundraiser ends on Friday night. So you might want to donate sooner rather than later

And since we’re getting down to our final hours, if you could help us spread the word, it would be an amazing help.

Later Space Cowboys….

pat

P.S. Also, if you’re a music-doer who might be interested in participating in the project. You could drop us an e-mail with your bona-fides over here: album@worldbuilders.org

P.P.S. If you’re just here because of the news about Tunes from Temerant news, and don’t know anything about Worldbuilders, you can get all the details on our website here.

Posted in Acts of Whimsy, Worldbuilders 2015 | By Pat55 Responses

Worldbuilders: Traditions, Opportunities, and Bilboing Up.

Hey there everybody,

As I sit down to write this, it’s 12:47 AM here in Wisconsin. It’s officially December 14th, the last day of our yearly fundraiser.

I had an easy blog planned today. A blog full of touching stories. A feel-good blog. A simple blog.

But something has happened. Now I have to change my plans and share some information about the fundraiser. The information is good. But this is no longer and easy blog to write. I am in disarray.

I really wish I could write a beautiful blog for you, all elegant and interwoven. Something smart and clean and quick that would clue you in and maybe give you a chuckle along the way.

But I don’t think I have a blog like that in me right now. I’m writing so slowly that five short paragraphs later, it is already 1:27 AM. I am low on sleep and I cannot fall back on caffeine to help me through, as I have a blood draw tomorrow, and I have to fast for it.

So please forgive me if this comes across as clunky. I can’t think of a better place to start than the strange tradition Worldbuilders has developed over the years. We tend to add a little time to our big yearly fundraiser right at the end.

*     *     *

It’s probably not surprising to anyone that a charity I started tends to run longer than originally expected. I write long books, after all. I miss deadlines. I tend to pursue things with methodical obsession, and that frequently leads to unexpected delays.

In the early years of Worldbuilders, the fundraiser tended to run long because I was doing most of it myself, and while I possess many good qualities, organization is not one of them.

Later on, after I’d decided to bring people in to help, I didn’t bring *enough* people on board. Making it worse was the fact that I didn’t know the first thing about actually managing people or working as a team. So chaos was rampant and the tradition continued.

Still later, we extended the fundraiser because sponsors kept jumping in left and right, we were growing so quickly we couldn’t process the donations people sent us fast enough.

donationswall3

(Nowadays, we get even *more* stuff, but we’re better at handling it.)

The reasons for our extensions were always different, but the results were always good. Using those extra days, Worldbuilders would include a new sponsor, give out more prizes, get better attention in the media, and bring in more donations.

The fact remains that for the last seven years, Worldbuilders has announced an end date, then *always* extended it. Sometimes just a few days. Often more than that. On one notable occasion we pushed it back three weeks.

But every year we got better. Every year the Worldbuilders team got smarter, and stronger, and bigger. And every year we were a marvelous success. So really, what’s wrong with tacking on an extra couple days? Why would I worry about something like that?

*     *     *

Every year as the fundraiser winds down, I struggle with a mash of conflicting emotions.

The most obvious of these is exhaustion. The fundraiser takes a lot out of me both physically and emotionally. I do a interviews. I write blogs. I stay up late writing blogs (It is now 2:39 am.) And work social media as hard as I can. I ask for favors and pull strings in an attempt to make every year a success.

But the end of the fundraiser is an electric time, too. It’s thrilling in a way. Everything accelerates. People are finishing stretch goals. Auctions are ending. The number on our donation page keeps going up and up….

The fact that I end up excited and bone-weary at the end of Worldbuilders won’t surprise most of you. Especially those of you who have watched me livestream recently, or seen the video of me, hollow-eyed and disheveled, driving into the north woods of Wisconsin looking for a Llama to kiss.

But there’s another piece to this that I work hard to keep out of the public eye. Every year, I’m terrified Worldbuilders will fail. Every year, I worry I’m going to pour my heart and energy into this thing and nobody will care. Every year, I fear that if we change things, people will be disappointed. I worry if we stay the same, people will get bored.

The fear is usually the worst at the beginning and the end. When we start, I’m afraid that I’ll announce this year’s festivities and we’ll be met with nothing but indifference and empty echoes. And at the end, I worry that if I don’t keep working at a fever pitch, the fundraiser won’t finish strong enough, and it will leave everyone feeling dissatisfied.

But this year has been different.

You see, this has been Worldbuilder’s Best Year Ever.

A lot of this has to do with Giving Tuesday. When we found out Worldbuilders could take advantage of some matching donations Heifer International had available, I let you all know in a blog about my mom. And we raised $300,000. Three times more than our previous best day ever. (And that’s not even counting the matching donations given to Heifer.)

Just to give you a little more perspective, Worldbuilders was the second most successful charity on Stay Classy that day.

Stay Classy number 2

On Stay Classy is the website used by organizations like the American Red Cross, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and Invisible Children. Despite that, Worldbuilders was the #2 fundraiser on one of the biggest fundraising days of the year.

I hope you’ll forgive me a little pride here. But those other organizations have been around for a while. They have teams of people in multiple offices the around the world. And not to be confrontational or crass, but we kinda kicked their charity asses.

Gech. I shouldn’t say that sort of thing. But again: Tired. It’s 3:35.

But this year’s greatness wasn’t just the result of a single awesome day. This year Worldbuilders has had more sponsors. More prizes to give away. More people participating. More people doing Stretch Goals.

What’s more, we didn’t just beat last year’s total ($886,000). We CRUSHED it, then kept on going until we cracked a million dollars. And we did it on Saturday. Three days before the end of the fundraiser.

Million2

(I love it when our donation thermometer explodes into ducks.)

Best of all. We’ve really had our act together. We managed to fit all our announcements and prizes into our original timeframe. This was going to be the first year where we finished the fundraiser on time.

Then, late on Friday, we got an e-mail from Heifer International.

*     *     *

It turns out that Heifer International had been offered $200,000 of matching donation money. And, after seeing what we did on Giving Tuesday, they’ve decided to offer it to Worldbuilders, with the hope that we can find folks to match it.

This is great news in every way. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the fundraiser. It’s a huge gesture of trust from Heifer International. It’s a great way for Worldbuilders to give people who have been on the fence about donating a little extra nudge.

Now. Here’s my confession. It’s something I’m not proud of.

When I heard this news. I wasn’t excited.

Don’t get me wrong. I was interested. I was flattered. Intellectually, I knew it was an incredible thing for Worldbuilders. And lord knows we’ve extended the fundraiser in the past for reasons that weren’t nearly this impressive.

But emotionally, all I felt was dread and exhaustion. This was going to be the year we finished on time.

What’s more, I’d already done everything I could think of to spread the word about the fundraiser. We’d already launched our new items in the store. We’d already announced all our prizes for the lottery. I didn’t have any more tricks to pull out of my hat.

And I’ll be honest, folks. I was tired. I was really looking forward to laying the fundraiser down today. I shouldn’t admit that. But it’s the truth, and while I might not always be the person I’d like to be, at least I’m always honest with you.

The truth is, I was looking forward to having this next week off. Catching up on my e-mail. Hanging out with my kids, who I’ve been short-changing in terms of quality time lately. I was going to do some Christmas shopping. Maybe even get a tree…

So when I got the news of Heifer’s offer, I didn’t say yes. I told the Worldbuilders team I neede to think about it. I gave them a weak excuse about not wanting people to think we were stringing them along with a fake end date. I said I was worried our donors might feel ill-used. Besides, we couldn’t make the announcement until Monday anyway….

And while those are genuine concerns I have. They’re not big concerns. I know you guys are better than that. I knew you’d be excited if we announced something like this.

No. My real reason was that I wanted an excuse to end the fundraiser and go back to my life.

But at some point over the weekend, someone on twitter used the phrase, “Bilbo It Up” and linked to the blog I wrote a couple years ago. They said they were kicking in some money to Worldbuilders even though times were tough for them.

I dimly remembered the blog, but I have a bad memory for stuff like that. So I followed the link. I read the blog. And I was ashamed.

Here’s part of what I wrote:

That’s why I run Worldbuilders. […] Because there are kids out there that are hungry all the time. There are kids out there with no books at all to read. There are kids out there with no beds to sleep in. No homes to come home to. No safe places. No sweet dreams.

That’s why I do all the charity work. Because the world isn’t as good as I want it to be.

We all feel this way sometimes. Because honestly, the world is a fucking mess. It’s full of dragons, and none of us are as powerful or cool as we’d like to be. And that sucks.

But when you’re confronted with that fact, you can either crawl into a hole and quit, or you can get out there, take off your shoes, and Bilbo it up.

So.

20151214_045242

It’s 4:58 AM here in Wisconsin. It’s 42 °F and raining. And right now my neighbors are probably calling the cops because of a crazy guy standing in the middle of the road taking pictures of his feet.

But you know what? I’m all the way awake now. Like, super awake. And as I was just walking back to my house my feet all tingly and numb, I remembered that a lot of people don’t have shoes. I remembered a lot of people don’t have nice insulated houses with central heating to retreat into when they’re wet and cold.

My kids are well-fed. They’re healthy. They have access to medicine and books. I read to them every night and never have to worry about clean drinking water or where their next meal will come from.

Some other people’s kids out there have none of these things. That’s wrong.

Right. I’m ready. Let’s Bilbo It Up.

I’m taking Heifer International up on their offer. I’m extending the fundraiser through Friday the 18th at midnight. Amanda will change the official countdown clocks when she wakes up and reads this.

I feel good about this. I can actually feel the excitement in my chest again. It wasn’t there when I started this blog, but it’s back now. Amazing how doing something really stupid can help you regain your perspective.

I know many of you have already donated. If you’re tapped out, I understand. But if you’re not sure. Or if you haven’t chipped in yet, here’s what I’d like you to do. Take off your shoes. Go outside. Think hard about the world you want to live in.

And if you want to make it better, come back in and donate. Spread the word about Worldbuilders. Take a picture of yourself Bilboing It Up and share it with the world. When I wake up, I expect to see your feet on Facebook, people. By the time I wake up, I want #BilboItUp to be trending. I want a billion mentions on twitter.

I can’t promise new blogs filled with fabulous prizes every day this week. But I’ll dig through my shelves and pull some treasures to put into the donation lottery to sweeten the deal. I’ll see if I can think of another couple stretch goals, too.

Here’s a link to the donation page. You know what to do.

Posted in My Mom Would Like This Blog, the longest fucking blog ever, Worldbuilders 2015 | By Pat60 Responses
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