Category Archives: My brilliant ideas

The Philosopher’s Stone

Okay guys. Are you ready? This is my best idea ever.

Did you know if you mix tea and cup-a-soup together it tastes really good?

It does.

I’m not going to tell you which kind of tea or which flavor cup-a-soup, because honestly, I think I might want to patent this. I’m serious. It’s like I’ve discovered the philosopher’s stone.

JosephWright-Alchemist

I have an unhealthy fondness for cup-a-soup. I drink… well… kind of a lot of it, and I’m not proud of that. It’s also not a secret that I have a burgeoning substance abuse problem when it comes to caffeine, either.

But here’s the beauty of the situation. When you put these two things together, they form an elegant balance.

Sure the cup-a-soup has my entire day’s worth of sodium in a single serving, but the caffeine in the tea is a diuretic. Zero sum.

Sure the cup-a-soup is full of MSG and terrible artificial preservatives, but the tea is full of all sorts of healthy antioxidants, so I’m pretty sure they just cancel each other out.

It’s low calorie. It’s delicious. It’s cheap. It fills me with energy. I’m pretty sure it’s boosting my metabolism right now. I’m pretty sure if I keep drinking this, I’ll be able to communicate directly with angels and shit. When I market this, I’m going to put this on the side of the box: Now With More Enochian!

My heart is beating really fast right now. That’s how I know it’s working.

How did I have this brilliant idea? I’m glad you asked. See, I had a lot of e-mail to get through this morning, so I made a big cup of tea and drank half of it.

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And then I wanted cup-a-soup, so I made some and drank half of it:

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I know what you’re thinking. “Wow Pat. Your life is pretty glamorous! Someday I hope I become a #1 New York Times Bestselling author so I can eat soup in a cup and have a desk that consists of a piece of particle board sitting on two filing cabinets!!!!”

Well fine. Be that way. Mock all you like. You’re just jealous because it never occurred to you to do this:

MugOfAwesome

No, I’m not talking about the photoshop filter. I’m talking about mixing tea and soup together to form a miraculous uberbeverage that is going to revolutionize life as we know it and usher in an age of peace and harmony to all mankind.

Now you might be looking at saying to yourself, “Wow, that’s a pretty big mug, Pat.”

Yes. It is a big mug. Self-actualization is not for the faint of heart. And besides, the size of the mug is just going to be another selling point of my miraculous three-tiered souper-tea regimen. Each of those mugs contains a full quart of liquid. That means after drinking both of them, I’ve already had all eight of my recommended eight-ounce servings of water for the day. And it’s not even 10:00 yet.

That’s right. I’ve figured out all the angles. I can feel myself getting healthier by the minute. I think my entire body is turning into pure energy. What does a stroke feel like? Does it feel like you are becoming a being of pure transcendent light? Probably not. I think it’s more likely that I’m just fast-tracking my way to Nirvana here.

I’m fine. Today is going to be a really productive day. I’m fine.

*     *     *

In other news. The Pairs Kickstarter is clipping along nicely.

There are five decks unlocked right now, and we just passed the stretch goal for the second one of mine: the Modegan Deck with art by Shane Tyree.

I’m really looking forward to giving y’all a look into that world. You haven’t even caught a glimpse of Modeg yet. It’s a very different place.

We’ve got two more of my decks lined up as future stretch goals too. One is a Princess and Mr. Whiffle deck, and the other one is a Faen deck. Specifically, it’s set in the Twilight court, the corner of the Fae where Felurian and Bast hie from.

The art for both of those will be done by the excellent Nathan Taylor.

Nate's Sketches

Nate drew these sketches to tease y’all a bit, but remember we’re only going to be doing those decks when they get unlocked around the 115K level.

We’re well on our way to hit that, mind you. I’m just letting you know. Full disclosure.

I’ll be making a more detailed update about the Kickstarter early next week, including showing off some more of the art.

But for now, here’s the link to the kickstarter if you want it.

Fondly,

pat

Also posted in being awesome, Terrible Science | By Pat73 Responses

Twitter Contest – The Memes, Cleverness, and Prizes….

So we’re almost a week in, and the twitter contest is ticking along nicely….

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can check out the first blog explaining the game here.)

TheRealRothfussUpdate

There’s been a lot of discussion as to the best way to refer to a group of Rothfi. A ponderance? A blither? Someone very clever suggested “Pontography.” Someone else proposed “Pisser” as the proper collective noun. There were a lot of good ones.

Personally, I think a group of us should be “a maunder of Rothfi.”

And don’t bother running off and seeing which of the profiles has mentioned that. I just made it up right now. I’m not going to tip my hand here.

Grammatical flummery aside, so far the contest has been a ton of fun. I’ve enjoyed it immensely, and it seems like most of the spectators are digging it too.

And honestly I’m amazed at the level of competition. Amazed. I knew I was bringing in clever people here, but I didn’t give them *nearly* enough credit.

But it hasn’t all been sunshine and kisses in the shade. There have been a few problems, and the biggest of these has been…

  • Verification:

Normally, getting verified on twitter is something you strive for. It’s a stamp of legitimacy. It shows you’re *really* Neil Patrick Harris, and not just some schmoe that grabbed a picture off the internet.

Before I started this contest, I thought verification was something you applied for. I thought there was some arduous process, some gauntlet you had to run. A quest you needed to complete that would please the distant ineffible twitter gods, high on their mountain.

And apparently, that’s kinda true. There is a form you can fill out. There is an application you can submit. Many do strive for verification. Apparently John Scalzi himself has been trying to get verified for ages and hasn’t managed it.

But look at what happened to us about 18 hours into our contest:

First Verification

See that little blue checkmark? That means that they *verified* one of our accounts.

What’s really funny is this. We created all these accounts using throwaway e-mail addresses *literally* named like this: twitter1@etc.com, twitter2@etc.com, twitter3@etc.com, twitter4@etc.com…

What’s more, the accounts were all identical except for the name and the picture. They all followed the same 7 profiles. They all had the same tagline: “It’s my job to break your heart.” They all listed my blog as their website. They all had one identical post.

And they’ve all sat there, inactive for more than a year.

Then the contest started, and within 18 hours, one of them got verified.

This is because, in addition to having an application process, twitter has a bot that searches around for people and auto-verifies them.

We were all a little stunned when this happened. We figured it was an odd fluke, and figured out how to remove the verification by changing the name on the profile and changing it back.

Then less than a day later….

The second verification

Re-verified.

We don’t know what sort of algorithm the twitter-bot uses. Nobody does.

After the shock wore off, I realized how hilarious it was. You see, this means is that one of us has completely convinced twitter that this profile is Pat Rothfuss.

And I think this is awesome.

A lot of people have taken this to mean that the contest is over. That it’s spoiled. But nothing could be further from the truth.

The fact is, the only information the twitter-bot has access to is circumstantial. It’s deciding based off the tweets themselves. The friends added. The links linked. I dunno. Maybe the picture, too?

It’s making a judgement based on those things. The same information you have access to.

All this really means is that the twitter-bot has decided to cast its vote early in our contest.

You can trust it if you want. It seems pretty sure of itself.

But personally, I’d like to think that my readers are more independent than that.

In fact, one of my favorite things about the contest so far is watching people declare their allegiance, sometimes just due to a turn of phrase:

@PatRothfuss Header Photo

Or a piece of punctuation:

@patrickrothfuss4

Some folks are just having fun with it:

Beautiful game 2

I see folks planting their flags, then sometimes spinning 180 with such force that you’d be amazed they don’t break their own necks.

beautiful game 4b

Here’s one of my favorites:

Beautiful game 1

I love this. These guys are fucking *into* it. They are using their vasty human intellect to crack this puzzle.

This is the very essence of a #BeautifulGame.

So… yeah. If you want to pick a profile based exclusively on what some computer algorithm thinks. That’s your choice. But honestly? I’m a little sad for you….

  • Other ways to screw yourselves by being too clever.

I know a lot of you are game players. Probably excellent game players. And if you like my books, odds are that you have at least a passing interest in looking for hidden clues.

So when I put this contest together, I knew I had to thwart those tendencies. For example, if you try to guess based on what device different profiles are twittering from? You’re probably going to be wrong. Why? Because one of the requirements for all the players is that they tweet from all manner of different platforms and devices.

Also, you should be aware that some of the profiles started this game with 5000-6000 more followers than others. In the year the profiles sat around, some collected 6-7 thousand followers. Others only collected 1-2 thousand.

So if you look at a profile and think, “Wow, this one has 4000 more followers, obviously that’s the one pat would pick to use as his own.” or “Wow, this is the one pat would pick because this twitter name is more like something he’d want.” you’re kinda screwing yourself.

First, because you’re missing the main point of the contest, to see who’s best at being me.

And second, you’re screwing yourself because when we assigned these profiles, we pulled names out of a hat for each one. They’re deliciously random.

Ultimately, this game is based on skill. It is a contest of trickery, persuasion, and cunning.

If I were you, I’d base your choice off that….

  • What’s still to come.

Two weeks is kind of a long time.  Particularly with something that moves as fast as twitter.  Maybe I should’ve thought of that before, but I had no way of knowing.

Lest things start to get a little same-y. We’re going to add a few things to the contest just to keep things interesting.

One of the suggestions someone made to me was that if I’m selling out and getting on twitter, I might as well go whole hog and start making memes too.

I don’t know if they were being snarky or not, but either way, I think it’s a great idea. I think memes and twitter go together like…

Like a…

Like a pithy writer and a good analogy.

So I’m going to challenge my fellow competitors to meme everyone’s new favorite pet from the photo contest.

That’s right: Ugly Cat.

I’ve never memed before. So we’ll use this as another piece of the puzzle that will help people discover #TheRealRothfuss.

UC-Holding

(Oh Ugly Cat, you still fill me with such joy…)

Are you good to go, gentlemen?  Ready… set…. meme!

  • On Being A Winner.

After my first blog post, there was some confusion about how the money was going to go to the charities in question.

So. Just to clarify, when the contest is over, there will be a great voting. The profile that gets the most votes, wins. The person running that profile will be the winner, and the charity they chose will get the $1000 from DAW.

Originally, that was my entire plan. But now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t see why y’all can’t be in the running for some cool things too….

Iron Drabs resized

These are some prototype drabs we’re working on. They’re not ready to go up in the store yet. But do I have a few we can give away as prizes….

So here’s what we’re going to do.

The whole point of this contest is for people to be clever and have fun. To play a beautiful game.

So starting now, if you do something on twitter that strikes me as particularly cunning, or funny, or sly, or smart. I will make a post along these lines.

“Congratulations, @JoeTwitter. That’s the funniest thing I’ve seen today. You know how to play #ABeautifulGame.”

Or

“That’s a really good point, @JustSusan. I bow to your unassailable Aristotelian logic. Congratulations on #ABeautifulGame.”

Then one of my lovely assistants will get in contact with you, get your mailing address, and we’ll mail you one of these prototype drabs. You can then use that drab to taunt your friends until they cry.

Each of my five Rothfussian comrades will be doing the same thing, of course.

This is a new part of the game. Not only do you have to guess at what might tickle the fancy of the Rothfi, but seeing what behavior each profile rewards should give you a lot of insight into which one of us is #TheRealRothfuss.

Have fun, everyone.

pat

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Beautiful Games, contests | By Pat58 Responses

Twitter – A Beautiful Game

So for a couple of years now, I’ve been a bit of a laughing stock in the geek community because I’m a luddite.

You see, I did not posses a smartphone. Neither did I have a twitter account.

This might not seem like a crippling social affliction, and most of the time it’s not. Most of the time I’m at home in Wisconsin, writing and hanging out with my little boy.

But then I go to a convention, like Origins, and while I’m there, I hang out with John Scalzi, Felicia Day, and Wil Wheaton. And while we’re playing games, someone snaps a picture. And then, when they’re posting it up online, someone looks at me and says “I’ll tag you here, What’s your twitter handle?”

And I say, “I’m not on twitter.”

Keep in mind who I’m hanging with here. Wil, John, and Felicia. If you added some sort of animal sidekick to this mix, I’m guessing they could join together and form a giant robot that would somehow defend the internet. The looks they give me are the worst sort of mingled pity and scorn….

Ah hell. I just realized *I’m* probably the animal sidekick in that group. I’m Lubar, the great shambling bear-man from the frozen tundra who is charmingly baffled by the subtle magic of the interweb.

Anyway, the point is that I’ve finally, *finally* taken the leap.

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But that’s only the beginning. The phone itself isn’t enough. To really wire myself in, I know I need to get on twitter.

*     *     *

Part of the reason I want to get on twitter is because it will save me time. I tend to be… um…. wordy. Verbose even. Sometimes a blog that starts out as a simple announcement turns into a 500 word screed.

Twitter will help me reign that impulse in a bit. I’ll be able to mention things to y’all without feeling the obligation to make a meaty blog about them.

The other reason I need to get on twitter is to stay in better touch with my readers.

You see, I’m not a total technological schmendrick. I’ve been on facebook since before it was cool, and I’ve slowly built my army over there. For years I’ve used facebook to clue-in readers when I’m doing events, running contests, or going to conventions….

But these days Facebook deliberately throttles back the reach of most pages. These days I’m encouraged to “boost” my posts by giving facebook money. If I don’t boost the posts (and I never do) the things I write there only show up on *half* my reader’s news feeds.

It happens all the time. I schedule a signing in Boston. I post on facebook letting people know about my signing in Boston. I go to Boston. I get home and later that day I see someone howling on my wall “You Were In BOSTON!!??!?”

Twitter doesn’t have this problem. If you follow me on twitter, and I post something on twitter, you’ll be able to decide for yourself if it’s worth reading.

But here’s the problem. I don’t want to spend ages slowly building up my twitter following.

Also, you only get to lose your twitter virginity once.

My thought is, why not have a little fun with this?

My thought is, why don’t we play a little game?

*     *     *

So here’s what I’ve done.

I’ve created six twitter accounts, all versions of the name “Pat Rothfuss.”

I’ve recruited 5 members of the geek glitterati. Friends who are good with words. They’re witty, wired-in, and social media savvy.

Starting today, each of them will claim one of those accounts at random and do their best to convince the world they’re the *real* Pat Rothfuss.

They’ll connive and scheme. They’ll share links, twitter at you, and generally attempt to exude an aura of Rothfuss-y-ness.

I will take the sixth profile and attempt to do the same.

The contest will run for two weeks and finish on Halloween at midnight.  Then everyone will vote on who they think the real Pat Rothfuss is.

CSG_WhatDoILookLike_Reveal-smaller

The winner gets that most valuable commodity of all: Bragging Rights.

Even better, the winner will have 1,000 dollars donated to the charity of their choice. The prize money being provided by DAW Books, my lovely publisher.

I might also see if I can find a trophy of some sort.

  • The Rules:

It should be blindingly obvious to everyone that I could win this game pretty easily. I could post up a selfie with today’s newspaper and that would be the end of it.

But what would be the fun in that?

The five other people who are playing are going to have to win through sheer cleverness, trickery, and guile. I plan on winning the same way.

What I’m getting at here, is that I’m looking to play a beautiful game. Why would I want to win anything other than a beautiful game?

Aside from my self-imposed handicap, there are only two rules:

1. Players can change anything on their twitter profiles except for their pictures. Those will remain the same throughout the contest. Otherwise things would just be too confusing.

2. Stories about Oot are out of bounds.

You see, I love telling stories about my little boy: (Codename Oot.)

A lot of the stories I tell are funny, silly, or irreverent. For example, on facebook I recently shared how Oot spent 20 minutes running around shouting “Gangnam Style!” and dancing naked.

I shared the story because it’s funny, and because he has no sense of shame at this point in his life.

But the thought of someone *else* making up a story along those lines…. It creeps me out a little bit.

So. No Oot stories. He’s out of bounds.

That’s it though. Everything else is fair game.

  • The Charities:

The charities are people are backing:  WorldbuildersArchitecture for HumanityTeach for America826LACon or Bust or Project Nightlight.

(Here’s a hint. I’m playing for my home team, Worldbuilders.)

If you want to know more about these charities, you can read some brief summaries over on the page where you can see all six twitter feeds at once.

TheRealRothfuss

Fair warning: We kinda threw this page together. If it gets hammered with 100,000 visitors in the next two days, it might crash.

So if you want to follow the contest, you might consider following all six of these accounts right now. That way you can watch the entire beautiful game without fear of tech glitches getting in the way.

As of right now, each profile is virtually identical except for its name and the profile picture. While the pictures will remain the same, (as per rule #1 above) the profiles will doubtless change as soon as the players take charge.

A careful observer will notice that each of the profiles has one tweet from Oct 14th saying, “I am the real Pat Rothfuss.”

A *very* careful observer will notice that that post is actually from Oct 14th 2012. That’s how long I’ve been planning to do this contest, but I’ve never managed to get around to it until now.

Because the profiles have been sitting around for a while, some of them have collected different numbers of followers.

I’m guessing that in the next couple days they’re going to get a few more….

In case you’d like it again, here’s a link to the page where you can see and follow all of the accounts.

Game on,

pat

P.S. Just now, minutes before we launch this blog, it has occurred to me that we should have some sort of official hashtag associated with it.

I consulted with my staff, and my twitter-smart assistant Amanda has confirmed that yes, this is a good idea.

What’s more, she has implied to me that this tag could even be used to ask a question of all the different accounts at the same time. Something along the lines of “If you’re the *real* Pat Rothfuss, what’s your favorite flavor skittle?”

And then you’d somehow… um… hash things. Together. I guess that’s another thing I’m going to have to figure out…

Anyway, how about we use #TheRealRothfuss. Using it all the time would would probably be cumbersome and cluttery. But now it’s there for people if they want it. (Sorry to make y’all use caps, but otherwise it looks too much like “There Al Rothfuss.” Which would be some other, entirely lamer game.)

Also posted in Achievement Unlocked!, Beautiful Games, contests | By Pat93 Responses

In the spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of Amber Benson

So last week I tried something new. I went to a romance convention.

When I was growing up, the only convention I knew about was Gencon. But over the last couple of years, I’ve been around the block a bit. I’ve hit most of the big ones: DragonCon, San Diego Comic-con, WorldCon, as well as at least a dozen others.

Most cons I attend have two things in common.

1. They have had a strong track of writing programming. (Because I like talking about writing).

2. They’re sci-fi and fantasy themed. (Because that’s how I roll).

So how did I end up at a romance convention?

Well, first off. I was invited. Most of the conventions I go to, I go because I’m invited. This is because I’m lazy.

Second off, Romantic Times gave The Name of the Wind Best Epic Fantasy of the year in 2007. It’s nice to go to a convention where they think you’re cool. (Or at least where they thought you were cool back in 2007.)

Third, I was kinda curious as to what a romance convention would be like….

It was like this:

  • At one point I was in a crowded hallway, heading to a panel. Out of curiosity, I looked around to see if I could find another man. I couldn’t. I kept looking, then turned in a full circle. I still couldn’t.
  • The ratio of female authors to male authors attending the convention was at least 20 to 1. It was like the anti-gencon.
  • They have an event called the “Mr. Cover Model Contest” where strapping young men parade about on stage. I don’t know what the winner gets, but I hope the prize package includes a shirt. Those poor boys looked cold to me.
  • I bought a book for Sarah.

Because… y’know…. viking.

And honestly, that’s all I really have to say about the convention.

The other reason I went to this convention is that it’s in LA. I know some people in LA that I don’t get to see very often, so it was a good excuse to visit them.

Now those of you who have been reading the blog for a while might remember my first, shameful meeting with Amber Benson. Since then, we’ve gotten to know each other a bit, and when we were chatting on e-mail we came up with the idea of doing a reading and signing together when I was in LA.

So we did.

We got together for dinner first, and while we ate, we shared war stories about our books. Both of us had just written sex scenes for the first time, and we talked about how weird it was.

Then something happened. I honestly can’t remember the exact details, but I’m pretty sure I suggested that we should read our sex scenes at the event later that night. I was kinda joking, but not entirely.

Then Amber said the equivalent of, “I will if you will.”

Faced with a challenge like that, there was no way I could back down.

So about an hour later, we were standing in front of 100 people, telling them that we were going to read them some sex. They seemed okay with it.

I went first, reading the end of chapter 95. I got a little sweaty and red in the face, but I made it through pretty well, especially considering I’ve never read it out loud before.

Then it was Amber’s turn. We’ve both been busy lately, so we haven’t had a chance to reach each others’ newest books yet. So she’d thought my scene would be more explicit. She was worried her scene was way smuttier than mine. She started to read, then stopped and stepped away from the mic, shaking her head.

Now that I was done with my reading, I was pretty relaxed. I felt great, in fact. My reading was done, and I was all full of adrenaline.

“If there’s dialogue in there, we could read it together,” I joked.

Little did I know there was dialogue. So I was trapped. After an extended bout of being extremely flustered, the two of us read her sex scene together, giggling like third graders all the while.

Luckily, someone caught it on tape. You can witness the glorious debacle here if you want.

All in all, it was one of my favorite readings ever. And as a bonus, I discovered I can do a southern accent if I want to. Who knew?

pat

Also posted in conventions, do I look fat in this, my rockstar life, sexy, videos | By Pat83 Responses

Another brilliant idea: brought to you by Elodin Enterprises

Okay, I’ve been thinking about this for years, and I need someone to explain it to me.

Here I am in Wisconsin. It’s winter. It’s cold outside. I will be spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars to heat my house despite the fact that I keep the thermostat at a relatively conservative 62 degrees. The air in my house is chilly and dry as a bone.

Then I go down into my basement, put a load of laundry into the drier, and for the next hour I run a big machine that vents hot, moist, delicious air through a tube and out the side of my house. Presumably so that the local squirrels can enjoy a sauna.

Does this make any sense? Is there some good reason why I don’t have a second tube that runs from the drier directly into my ductwork of my forced-air furnace? Free heat, free humidity, and as an added bonus, my house would smell like Snuggle fabric softener.

I mean, I could understand why this idea wouldn’t be a big deal in, say, Texas. As I understand it, in Texas the winter weather is relatively clement, and the summer weather is like being beaten with a burning shovel until you are on fire, then having someone extinguish you by wrapping you in a thick, wet towel that is, somehow, also on fire.

But here in the north, it’s cold for about half the year. And for a couple months centering around nowish it’s an amazing flavor of cold that you really can’t appreciate unless you experience it firsthand. Night before last, up here in Hayward, it got down to twenty-six below zero (Fahrenheit), not counting wind-chill.

That’s the sort of cold where, if a young gentleman tries to enjoy the unique privilege of manhood and write his name in the snow, he will end up with a pee stalagmite instead. It’s the sort of cold where you go outside and realize that if you aren’t careful, you will fucking die.

So I go back to my original question: Why isn’t this done? I’m not an engineer, but I’m pretty sure we have the technology to install what amounts to a valve. One side would be labeled “make my house warm” and the other would be labeled “squirrel sauna.” You could adjust it according to the outside temperature, your mood, and how you feel about the local fauna.

I can’t be the first person to think of this, so I’m assuming that there has to be a good explanation for why it isn’t already commonplace. Can anyone think of what it is?

Anyone?

pat

Posted in My brilliant ideas | By Pat82 Responses
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