Then there’s Me, Amanda and Kat. I’m easy to spot, as I’m the only boy.
Unseen but not unloved is Nate, who took the picture. And Brett, who happens to be roaming the earth right now, trying to collect all the pieces of the triforce. Or something. I honestly don’t know what he’s doing, but I suspect it’s something like a vacation.
And honestly? He deserves a vacation. Everyone here does. Without these lovely people, Worldbuilders wouldn’t have happened. I would have had a nervous breakdown and lit everything on fire sometime around December 18th.
Of course it goes without saying that without all of *you* Worldbuilders wouldn’t have happened either. So you all deserve vacations as well. Take one. And if anyone gives you grief about it, tell them I said it was okay.
I feel like I should point out that what you see in the picture above aren’t even all the packages. That’s just the final batch we sent out Tuesday.
I would have liked to get these prizes in the mail sooner. But…. well…. things got a little complicated this year.
You see, up until this year, Worldbuilders has been something I banged together on my own with a couple people helping out.
The first year Sarah helped me. The second year (2009), I had an assistant to lend a hand.
In 2010 & 2011, I had an assistant and a half, and some other friends helped with packaging, e-mail, some of the bookkeeping….
But I was still trying to run it all myself.
I hope it doesn’t disillusion y’all to learn that I am not a great organizer. Worldbuilders worked, but things were pretty chaotic behind the scenes. This didn’t particularly bother me, as I tend to gravitate toward Chaotic Good anyway…
But every year Worldbuilders got bigger. And every year there was more to do. And every year I was a little more overwhelmed.
So this year I brought in people to run the charity. Smart, lovely people. People who could organize things. People who liked to make spreadsheets. People to answer the e-mail and run the store. People to package and talk to donors and take pictures and help me put together the blogs.
And I learned two things:
1. It’s awesome having enough help.
2. It takes a lot of time do things the right way.
We’ve got an inventory system now where we scan in books with a bar code reader. (Before we entered them into a spreadsheet manually.)
Now we can print out winner’s addresses on sticky labels. (Before we printed them out in Word, cut them out, and taped them onto the package.)
These thing are so nice, but it took us a while to get them all in place and running smoothly.
What’s more, we now have our own *building* now. For the last several years we’ve been running this whole thing out of an old student rental I bought on the cheap. Now we have space to spread out and grow. But it’s taken us a while to move in.
Plus, we had a lot more prizes to give out this year. A lot more books and a lot more winners.
Now, answers to a few questions.
How will I know if I’ve won?
A package will show up at your house in the next couple weeks. A springtime surprise.
Please keep in mind that while there were a lot of winners, there were also a lot of donors.
If you won one of the specialty prizes, like the favor ring, or my tuckerization, or the ARC of Stardust, I’ll be getting in touch with you over the next couple days. So if and unfamiliar number shows up on your cell phone, you might want to answer it.
Will you be posting up a list of winners?
Sorry. We won’t. It would be a violation of the winner’s privacy.
If the winners are okay with it, we’ll share what’s happens with some of the bigger prizes. Like the favor ring and the ARC of Stardust. But that will be their choice, I’m afraid.
If you’d like to take a picture of yourself with your prizes, you could post them up in the Worldbuilders Facebook Group so that everyone can gaze on you with envious desire.
What were this year’s final totals? How much did we raise?
For that information and much more, stay tuned. We’ve got a lot of cool news coming up….
Well, actually, let me tell you a story that consists of several stories. And it’s *about* stories.
This should not surprise anyone, really. This is what I do.
* * *
Back in 2009 I attended Gen Con as author Guest of Honor. It was one of my first GOH gigs, and at a convention I’ve been attending off and on for most of my adult life.
That said, I was still a pretty new author in 2009. I only had one book out, and had only been published for two years. People came to my signings and panels. I had fun. But honestly, I wasn’t a very big deal.
Wandering around the dealer’s hall, at one point someone came up to me and said, “What makes you so honorable?” When I gave him a baffled look, he pointed down at the ribbon on my badge that said. “Guest of Honor.”
“Oh,” I said. “I write books.”
“Oh,” he said. And walked away.
* * *
After taking a break from Gen Con for a couple years, I headed back in 2012. I wasn’t GOH or anything, and was mostly going to play some games and hang out with friends, including my new bestie Robert Gifford of Geek Chic.
But in 2012 I’d been published for *five* years. And I had *two* books out. I’ve hit #1 on the New York Times. I’ve been hugged by Felicia Day. I’m not really a big deal, but I’m certainly a bigger deal than I ever was before….
The difference was most notable when I walked around the dealer’s room. People would stop and say, “Are you Patrick Rothfuss?” And we’d stop and chat a little bit. One particularly memorable couple came up to me and said, “That’s the best Pat Rothfuss cosplay we’ve ever seen! The beard looks so real!” and asked to get a picture with me.
I won’t lie, it’s kinda fun. One of the main reasons I go to conventions is to meet up with my readers. My readers are lovely people.
Still, I was surprised at how *many* people recognized me. Artists, dealers running their booths. Catgirls.
On Sunday, a tall dark stranger came up to me and said, “You’re Pat Rothfuss, aren’t you?”
“Yup,” I said. We shook hands and I read his badge. “Nice to meet you Colin,” I gestured to the vast panoply of geekery around us. “How do you fit into all of this?”
“I write games,” he said.
“Role Playing stuff? Computer games?”
“Both,” he said. “I worked on Planescape back in the day…”
“The computer game?” I asked.
“Planescape Torment?” I asked.
He nodded again.
“You are fucking kidding me,” I said. “I was just talking to someone about Torment. That was one of the best games I’ve ever played.”
He looked at little surprised at this, “Wow,” he said. “I….”
“The narrative was brilliant,” I said. “It’s been ten years, and I haven’t known a game to come close to it.”
“I mean you had honest-to-god open-ended character development that was an integral part of the main narrative,” I said. “Nobody else has ever pulled that off as well. It was amazing.”
“I still remember the interaction you could have with some of the NPC’s,” I said. “You actually had to be clever talking to them. You could offend them and piss them off. The writing was solid and smart. You had a branching narrative that still felt cohesive and engaging. I’ve never seen that handled so well except for maybe in the early Fallout games.”
“And the dialogue,” I said. “It was great. How the hell do you manage to write things like that? To keep track of all the different ways a conversation can go…?”
Eventually I shut up long enough for him to tell me he liked my books. We traded e-mail addresses, and he offered to show me what the dialogue trees looked like when you’re writing a computer game.
I was happy as a kid at Christmas.
* * *
A couple months later, in November, Colin and I chatted a bit.
“We’re going to be writing a game that will follow in Torment’s footsteps,” he said. “Good character. Good story.”
“I’m tingly at the very thought,” I said.
“Want to help write some of it?” he asked.
“Oh shit,” I said. “Yes. I’ve always wanted to take a poke a writing a computer game.”
“Cool,” Colin said.
“No,” I said. “I want to, but I can’t. I have to work on Book Three.”
“We don’t want you to write *all* of game,” Colin said. “Maybe just a side area. Subplot. A piece.”
I made a miserable noise. “I can’t.” I said. “My editor would be pissed. My readers would be pissed. I’m already behind schedule.”
“That sucks,” he said.
“Yeah,” I said.
I’m paraphrasing a bit, you realize. But the sentiment is dead-on. When I said “no” I felt like a kid who had to stay inside and practice the piano while all his friends got to go eat ice cream and have awesome sex on the moon.
* * *
Colin: You sure?
Me: I really can’t. Revision is going slow. I should keep grinding away.
Colin: Fair enough. I understand.
* * *
I bring in Colin McComb, Jerry Holkins (From Penny Arcade), and Veronica Belmont (From Sword and Laser) to talk about videogames and storytelling on Storyboard.
It ends up being one of my favorite episodes so far, probably because everyone is passionate and outspoken. Colin, Jerry, and Veronica all know so much more than I do on the subject, and that’s great.
(Sorry. It’s embedding ugly. Just click over to Youtube.)
Colin mentions the upcoming Torment game. They’re going to launch the kickstarter tomorrow. They’ve got a lot of great creative people on the project.
During the panel, I get a little crotchety about modern games. I make some noises along the lines of, “Video games are pissing away the storytelling opportunities available to them. There’s bad writing. Foolish mistakes. When I was a kid….”
Jerry steps in and says, “We’re at the helm now. If we see these things we don’t like, it’s our fault. [...] We can’t just point at it and expect the universe to fill it.”
It’s startling to hear. But he’s right, of course. I know he’s right.
They raise over $2,000,000 in less than a day. It seems like I’m not the only one who remembers those old games fondly.
* * *
I realize the story I’m trying to write for an anthology isn’t working out. It’s my second attempt to write a story to fill this obligation I agreed to more than a year ago. I’m months overdue, and I feel like an asshole.
I need to get this story done and out of the way so I can get back to working on book three.
Though honestly, those revisions aren’t going that well either. It feels like a grind. It’s going slow.
* * *
I’m at the Tucson Festival of Books, eating Pizza with Sam Sykes, Kevin Hearne, and Diana Gabaldon.
Sam Sykes says, “We’re at our most creative when we’re at play.” Then he tells a story about a famous director who would send people home for the day if they were taking their job too seriously.
And he’s right, of course. I know he’s right.
* * *
Coming home from Tucson, I think to myself, “Fuck it. When I get home, I’m going to start a new story for that anthology. Something fun.”
* * *
I decide I’m going to write a story about Bast.
I have no idea what the story will be about. I have no plan. I have no plot in my head. Honestly nothing.
When I teach, I stress that writing is not merely a communicative process. People think writers are effectively engaging in transcription. We have something in our heads, and we just write it down. That’s how people think stories happen.
But that’s not how it works. Writing can be communication. But most of the time, writing is a generative process. The story comes into being as it’s being written. It’s about discovery. Assuming you have to know what happens before you sit down to write is a rookie mistake.
So I sit my ass down. I decide I’m going to take my own advice. I’m going to write even though I have no plan. I’m going to write and see where it takes me.
I’m going to be irresponsible. I’m going to play.
At the end of the day, I’ve written 4,500 words.
* * *
I write 16,000 words. Good solid words. That’s not even counting the crap I trimmed out and threw away. I finish the Bast story except for one or two small scenes. It will be a great fit for the anthology.
I feel great. I’m excited about writing again. I think about revising book three and it sounds fun. I want to get back to it.
If you don’t know how much 16,000 words is. Let me put it in perspective for you.
If I wrote 16,000 words every week. By the end of the year I would have produced over 800,000 words of text.
That’s twice as long as The Wise Man’s Fear.
If I can maintain my sense of play. I could easily write a book a year.
A book a year *plus* all the other things. Fun little stories. Poems and songs. Maps.
* * *
I call Betsy, my editor. She’s glad to hear the writing’s going well again.
She’s not surprised that a fun side project has helped refresh me. She’s knows how writers’ brains work. She knows more about it than I do, actually. That’s her job.
She’s a great editor.
* * *
I send Colin an e-mail. Then I decide to call him, instead because I know we’re getting down to the wire.
“Do you still want me?” I ask. “I know it’s kinda late.”
“We’d love to have you,” he said. “We can add you as a stretch goal.”
“How much writing are we talking about here?” I ask.
“Maybe 10,000 words,” Colin says. “More if you like. Less if you need it to be less.”
“Could I maybe help with some of the character arcs too?” I ask. “I’m pretty good with character. You could use me as a sounding board if nothing else, and ignore me if you think I’m being an idiot.”
“Um…. let me think,” Colin says sarcastically. I can hear the smile in his voice. “A chance to chat with you about stories and character development. I think the answer to that is…. yes. “
I want to for so many reasons. But still, I hesitate.
“We’ll pay you of course,” he says. He names a number. “I could get you more, if you need it.
“That seems fair,” I say. “I don’t want to put the squeeze on you.”
Then a knee-jerk instinct kicks in. “However…” I say in my best used-car salesman voice. “I do run a charity….”
“You mean Worldbuilders?” he says.
“Oh,” I say, pleasantly surprised. “You’ve heard of it.”
“Of course I’ve heard of it,” he says.
“Well,” I say slowly. “This year we started accepting corporate sponsorships….”
“I can make that happen,” Colin says. “I’ll talk to the boss, and one way or another, we’ll make it happen.”
“Okay,” I say. “You’ve got me.”
* * *
So there you go. Pretty soon, within just a couple of hours, they’re going to be announcing my involvement in the project.
I’m not going to lie. I think it’s going to be an awesome game, and I’m not just saying that because I’m writing a piece of it.
If you’re on the fence, here are a couple reasons to consider jumping into the kickstarter.
1. If you’re planning on buying the game eventually, it’s cheaper to buy it now.
2. If you know you’re going to want to try it later, chipping in early means they’ll be able to make it an even better game. More development money means more content.
3. If a healthy number of my readers rush over and jump onboard, I get to look kinda cool to the developers. They’ll think things like, “Oh, maybe we didn’t make a horrible mistake bringing that Rothfuss guy in.”
4. You have to give these guys credit for supporting Worldbuilders. That’s mighty damn nice of them.
5. This is the first step in my extended master plan. If this goes well, it means we’re *much* more likely to see a Kingkiller game. More importantly, a Kingkiller game I’ll be able to have a direct hand in. Personally, I think that would about a thousand flavors of awesome.
Later Space Cowboys, I’m off to sleep. I’ve got a story to finish tomorrow….
Those of you that have been around for a while probably already know about the picture book I did with Nate Taylor a couple years back: The Adventures of The Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed.
The book was published back in 2010, but it’s been out of print for a long while. With the exception of the few copies we’ve had up in the Tinker’s Packs, people haven’t been able to get hold of it anywhere….
But now it’s being re-released in paperback. It’s got a new cover and everything….
They’re also doing a limited edition with a color version of the old cover, too.
[Edit: this limited edition version has a color cover. Just like I said above. Just the cover is color. Not the whole thing.]
What’s really interesting to me is that Nate (who did the coloring here) obviously thought of her dress as pink, whereas I’ve always thought of it as blue.
The new versions of the book have an new author’s note from me, if you’re into that sort of thing. But better than that, they have pages of Nate’s original concept sketches with both of our handwritten notes all over them. It was really neat for me to see those again after all these years….
Best of all, the folks at Sea Lion books are kicking a portion of all the profits raised from the sale of the book toward Worldbuilders this year. To start off, they’re donating 10% of each sale toward the fundraiser, but if they sell enough books, they’ve agreed to boost that percentage up to 15% 20% or even 25%
You can order it from other places, of course, but if you pre-order it there, then Sea Lion makes more money on the deal. Which means that Worldbuilders makes more money. And, in the interest of complete honesty, Nate and I get more money too.
Fair-warning: the pre-order sale will be done pretty soon, as the books will be shipping before Halloween.
Also I’m not sure how quickly the limited-edition color ones will sell out. The limited copies of Unfettered sold out pretty fast after I posted up the link….
Just so you know,
Edit: A few more questions that Sea Lion noticed in the comments below and has asked me to answer.
1. The limited edition *will* come with the “This Shit is Not For Kids” sticker.
As always, I feel a slight twinge about this sticker, which on casual inspection makes my book look like a Caldecott Award winner. But then I remind myself that any parent that buys a book for a child based on an award sticker they don’t even read, deserves what’s coming to them.
2. The limited editions will still be for sale after Halloween, but they won’t be on sale. That’s just for the pre-order.
We did it as a fundraiser for Worldbuilders, and it fit in with our book-centered geekery pretty well because each month featured a pin-up based on a classic literary figure.
Like Mark Twain:
Or Nathanial Hawthorne:
At some point while working with the artist, Lee Moyer, we ended up discussing how it would be cool to do a similar sort of calendar, but with more modern authors.
Maybe even doing it with some of the more popular authors that write in the genres we love.
Maybe we could even do it with, say, some big-name fantasy authors.
So I made some phone calls. Lee did some sketches. And almost before we knew it, a bunch of amazingly generous fantasy authors had agreed to help us raise money for Worldbuilders.
Up until now we’ve kept a pretty tight lid on this project. But now it’s time to show off the cover and announce the authors that are involved.
Take a look:
You really need to click on that to see the bigger version. If only to read the names more clearly.
Seriously. Look at that. Gaiman AND Pratchett AND Harris AND Martin.
And Ray Bradbury. The man himself. He agreed to be a part of this not long before he passed away.
Really, there’s no names in there that aren’t big names. I’m solidly geeked about everyone involved.
This is all we’re showing off for now. Just a bit of a teaser. You’ll see some of the finished pin-ups in the weeks to come, and we won’t be shipping them out until November. But I wanted to let everyone know what was coming for a couple reasons….
A heads-up to retailers.
Do you run a bookstore or some other geek-friendly business? Do you love things that are awesome? Would you like to sell copies of the calendar and help make the world a better place?
If so, drop us an e-mail at:
questions [squiggly at sign] worldbuilders.org
We’ll make it happen.
A chance to pre-order.
You can pre-order your copy of the 2013 calendar right now if you like.
We’re even offering a special pre-order deal. If you order 2 or more calendars, you’ll get a $6.00 discount if you use coupon code PINMEUP.
Also, we’re shipping calendars out in the order they come in, so ordering early means you’ll get your calendar sooner.
But you need to remember that this is a pre-order.
Amanda’s Edit: Good news, everyone! We’ve extended the pre-order to last through November 3rd, so you’ve got more time to get in your order!
Calendars won’t start shipping until early November.
Many of you already know that my editor, Betsy Wollheim, was nominated for the Hugo Award this year. If for no other reason than I talked about it on the blog a couple times.
Guess what happened this Sunday night?
Thanks to everyone who voted for her, spread the word, or even quietly rooted for her from the sidelines.
The only downside? I wasn’t at the award ceremony. Because I’m an idiot.
You see, I *was* at Worldcon, and I assumed the Hugo Awards were going to be on Saturday night. So when Scott Kurtz and Kris Straub invited me out to Seattle to be on Kris and Scott’s Scott and Kris show on Sunday night, I said, “Sure.”
So while my editor was winning her Hugo. I was in Seattle, catching the tail end of PAX and doing…. well… this:
More details about the show, and a transcript of the Kris’s fanfic are here.
And I’m not saying the show wasn’t fun. Because obviously it was.
And I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy getting to meet Johnathan Coulton out at PAX, because I did. I super did. And I found out he’s read my books, which gives me a happy.
And I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy being in Seattle, visiting the Geek Chic headquarters, having a great signing at the University Bookstore, and having some amazing Thai food.
I’m just saying I wish I could have been there to see the look on Betsy’s face.
More blogs are coming. Big announcements. Cool news.
Those of you who follow my Facebook page might have caught wind of a little adventure I had out at San Diego ComicCon this year.
Specifically, you might have read this post I made on Saturday night.
* * *
Okay. Everybody, I need your help.
I’m at ComicCon. I met a lovely Swedish fan who said that she’d flown out to the con mostly to see me.
I said, Wow. Really?
She said, Yes Really.
So I got her phone number, and told her that when I had a spare couple hours I’d call her so we could grab coffee or something. My thought is, you come from Sweden to see me, I can spare time for coffee.
But when I called her an hour ago, someone else answered the phone. She’d left her phone on a bus, and a stranger had found it.
So I tracked that person down and got the phone.
So here’s the deal. Swedish fan. I have your phone. I was an idiot, and I didn’t write down your name, so I can’t find you on facebook.
You should call your phone, and we’ll arrange to get it back to you. Plus maybe grab coffee.
Or you should message me here on facebook, and we’ll get in contact that way.
Everyone else, could you Like this and share this around so she has a decent chance of seeing it?
Or, if you know who this is, can you send her a message to let her know what’s up?
* * *
I felt really bad for her, how much must it suck to be in a foreign country and lose your phone?
This was all I could think to do. Not much of a master plan, but it’s the only thing I could think to do.
I would have looked though her phone for a number or some information I could use to contact her. But it locked itself down and required a password. At least, I *think* that’s what it was asking for. It was in Swedish, after all.
On top of that, I felt jerky that I couldn’t remember her name. True, I’d signed about a hundred books before we swapped numbers, but I still felt jerky about it. That at least would have given me a place to start trying to track her down.
Thankfully, my lovely readers backed my play on facebook, liking and sharing my message-in-a-bottle post to a ridiculous degree. Thousands of folk helped out. This provides further proof for my “People are inherently good” theory.
And you know what? It worked. When I got back to my hotel room late that night, I had a message:
Hi Pat, this is your Swedish fan with the lost phone!
Have to admit its a bit surreal though, first meeting you, my absolute favorite author and getting your phone number plus possibility of a having a coffee at my first ever stay in America. That was really more than my little fan heart could take. Then the feeling of hitting rock bottom when I lost the phone with said number a day later. Now finding your message on the fb, it goes way beyond surreal and into the realms of things that just don’t happen in real life!
Her name, it turned out, was Jenny. I remember it now.
We messaged back and forth, set up a time and place, and the next day I got together with Jenny and her traveling companions.
We got our coffee and had a lovely conversation about many things, including how we Americans have serious problems with women, sex, and women’s sexuality. This is a favorite topic of mine, and it was nice to discuss it with folks who aren’t part of American culture. It was a good time.
Jenny also gave me a picture she’d drawn of Kvothe. I’d post it up here, but I don’t have access to it on this computer. I’ll scan it in and post it up later.
So there you go. Those of you who were curious have the end of the story. And it’s a happy ending to boot.
Commander Harken: Seems odd you’d name your ship after a battle you were on the wrong side of. Captain Reynolds: May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.
That’s all I feel like saying on the subject of the recall election right now.
* * *
There are two things happening this week that all proper geeks should be aware of.
First off, Redshirts, is hitting the shelves.
I know, I know…. you can’t really judge a book by its cover. In my opinion, if you’re going to judge, you should do it by the blurbs on the back:
(Click to Embiggen.)
As I mentioned on the blog a couple months back, I got an early read of the book early on this year. As a result, I ended up laughing my ass off at a local restaurant, while everyone stared at me like I was a crazy person. Which is fair enough, I suppose.
If you’re interested, you can read the review I wrote, including the bit where I threaten Scalzi with violence, over here.
The second piece of vital geek news today is the fact that Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, went on sale in paperback this week.
Now this would be news enough by itself, because honestly, Ready Player One was probably the best book I read last year. (And I read a lot.)
But no, the REAL news is that to celebrate the paperback release, Ernest is giving away a DeLorean. Which is somehow manages to be the coolest AND the geekiest promotional thing that I’ve ever run into.
(Seriously, he’s giving away a DeLorean.)
How can you win it? Well, he’s hidden clues in his book. You find the clues, you play some games, you can win his sweet ride.
I’ll also mention, just as an aside, that both John Scalzi and Ernest Cline were very cool about donating stuff to Worldbuilders last year. So if you were right on the edge, and just needed one more reason to rush out and buy their books, there it is…