Have you guys seen that Flow Hive thing? The cool-looking beehive where you just turn the spigot and honey comes out?
I saw it, and it looked cool, and so I thought to myself that it might be cool to have a hive of bees. My own honey. Plus I get to support a cool innovation. SCIENCE!
And so I jumped on it. Why the fuck not, right? I have some disposable income. Plus, wouldn’t that be a fun project to do with Oot? Look at bees? Learn about the natural world? Father-son bonding?
Also, (I continued to think to myself) when I finally get around to building my house in the country, the house I dream about that’s half sybaritic pleasure dome, half Winchester Mansion, and half apocalypse bunker, it would be nice to have a hive of bees there, too. Because after civilization collapses, I would still have honey. Magical easy-to-access innovation honey.
What’s more, I could also give this hive it away as a gift to someone who would actually use it and enjoy it. Then they could give me some honey. That was really the most realistic scenario here. After I bought this, it would make a fun present after I came to grips with the fact that I was never going to ever fucking keep a hive of bees.
So I bought one. It’s so easy these days. Watched a video. Got excited. Clicked. It showed up at my house.
Not only did I buy it, but I felt *good* buying it. I was supporting innovation with my money. I was rewarding someone for moving forward arcane technology that had been stagnating for ages. Good for them. And good for me, too. We were working together to make a better place.
Right now it’s actually sitting on my porch, and has been for a couple days.
Part of the reason it’s still sitting there is that I’m super lazy. But the other reason is that I stumbled onto this article on facebook a while back:
It’s a really good read, even if you don’t care much about beehives. It’s a great example of someone calmly, rationally, dismantling someone else’s bullshit. It’s a great read, and I wish I’d done my due diligence and read it *before* ordering my hive.
So. That’s the end result. I now have a beehive that not only will I not use, but I don’t even feel good about giving away as a gift. I could sell it to someone to re-coup some of my money, but honestly, from what I’ve learned in that article it looks like using could lead to bad shit in terms of the local bee ecosystem.
Why tell this story? I dunno. Maybe so you don’t buy a flow hive. Or maybe to balance the scales a little bit in terms of the stories I tell. Usually when I write a blog, I’m talking about a convention I went to. Someone cool, I met. A fun story.
So this is a story of me just being regular dumb and impulsive. Take it for what it’s worth.
I’m assuming at this point that you’ve heard about the Ice Bucket Challenge.
I’d heard about it. And it struck me as something fun and silly. But I didn’t have much desire to participate.
For one thing, I already do a bunch of charity work with Worldbuilders.
For another thing, I live in Wisconsin. That means for about 3 months out of every year just walking outside is like getting a bucket of ice dumped over your head.
I figured I’d be tagged eventually. But my intention was to smile, nod, make a donation, and move on with my life. I’m kinda busy these days….
Then this happened:
If it had been anyone other than Jim Butcher….
But that doesn’t matter, I guess. It was Jim. So I figured it was time to cowboy up.
I know, I know, I only called out two people. Sue me. I had dry ice bubbling around my precious nethers, so I wasn’t operating at 100%. And it wasn’t like we could go back and do a second take.
Who would I call out for my third if I had a chance to go back and change it? Joss Whedon? Felicia Day? Tina Fey? Max Temkin? Molly Lewis? Tad Williams? The Oatmeal?
The problem is I don’t know who’s already done it. I kinda live under a rock, and I’ve been sick these last couple days (I have no idea why.) So we’ll just leave that third one hanging. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to do the challenge, this is it.
So. There you go. Share the videos. Donate. Spread the word….
P.S. I would just like it to be known that I wasn’t responsible for editing together the video. My semi-loyal crew did that. You’d think it would be enough to let them douse me with buckets of ice and water. But no, they had to tuck in that little bit at the end, too….
P.P.S. Don’t goof around with dry ice if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s really easy to burn yourself. Or so I hear….
So it was Monday the 14th, the last day of our experimental IndieGoGo fundraiser.
Things were going better than we’d expected. We were already at $125,000 on Monday morning. And because of generous geeks donating and spreading the word, we’d been raising about $5,000 dollars hour all day.
Around 5:00 PM at the temple, Maria refreshed the page and said, “$170,000!”
We’d just finished up a meeting, so the whole team was there. She looked at us. “I think we’re going to beat $200,000,” she said. Her voice was nervous, excited, but pretty sure of herself. Confident.
I felt obliged to be the voice of reason. Everyone was really excited in the office because we were having an amazing day. But I didn’t want them to set their expectations so high they’d be disappointed. That would be a huge shame, especially as the fundraiser was already an incredible success.
“Things tend to slow down in the evening,” I said. “People are eating dinner and watching TV. They aren’t checking their social media as much.”
I juggled numbers in my head and tested my gut. My team is good, but I’ve been doing this for twice as long as any of them. “I’m confident we’ll hit 180,” I said. “But I’d be surprised if we hit 190. I’d be honestly startled and amazed if we hit 200.”
Looking around, I could tell I’d let the wind out of their sails a bit. I felt like kind of a dick. It sucks being the voice of reason sometimes.
“Don’t get me wrong,” I said. “Y’all have been awesome. This whole thing was an experiment. If we’d only hit $50,000, it would have been a huge success. We blew it out of the water.”
Maria looked at me. It wouldn’t be fair to say that she gave me a rebellious look. It wasn’t really even a stubborn look. Her expression was… pugnacious. “When we hit 200K,” she said, gesturing dramatically. “You’re going to buy me a chocolate malt!”
Her enthusiasm was infectious. Maria radiates optimism. It’s part of the reason I love her.
“I will,” I said, smiling. “If we hit $200,000. I will buy everyone chocolate malts.”
There was a cheer in the office. Everyone loves it when you stand up to the boss.
I came home and made a few more posts on twitter and facebook. Then I tried to catch up on some e-mail, hampered slightly by the fact that I was refreshing the IndieGoGo page about every four minutes.
Much to my amazement, our momentum didn’t slow. The total climbed and climbed.
By the end of the fundraiser, we’d raised $205,000.
Have I said thank you yet?
Thank you. You have startled and amazed me with your awesome.
Thank you. You have reaffirmed my belief that people are inherently good.
* * *
Today, because Maria was right, I took the Worldbuilders team to get chocolate malts.
(Cutie isn’t part of the team, so he didn’t get any.)
If you can’t tell, the mood was giddy with exhaustion and good endorphins. The team really pulled together for this fundraiser. They deserved their tasty beverages.
(Even the monkey. Especiallythe monkey.)
In most important ways, this was their fundraiser, not mine. They planned it. Wrote up the product descriptions. They figured out IndieGoGo and promotions and production and fulfillment.
I mention this because it’s behind the scenes, so you would never see it. Events like this resemble an iceberg, you glimpse the the top and think, “Wow, that’s cool.” You support the cause, order something, and receive a package.
And while the top of the iceberg is pretty cool (heh) there’s a lot going on underneath the water that keeps it all afloat.
This time, for the first time, the *vast* majority of that didn’t have anything to do with me. Not only was I not doing it myself. I wasn’t even looking over their shoulders and giving advice.
I couldn’t this time, as I’ve been neck deep in revisions.
There were times I’d come into the office, wild eyed and sleep deprived. Irritable and absolutely burned out because I’d spent the last 30 hours going over copy edits. We’d sit down to a meeting and I’d say something like, “We need to make sure we contact X about the [thing].”
“We already did that,” they would say.
“Okay,” I said. “We also need to be careful [some other thing] doesn’t happen.”
“Taken care of,” they’d say.
“And we need to make sure blah blah blah.”
“That’s a good idea,” they’d say.
“Who’s going to be in charge of that?” I’d ask.
“We did it last week,” they’d say.
I can’t tell you guys how amazing this is. How important it is.
I love Worldbuilders. It’s my baby. But over the last five years it’s devoured a significant portion of my life.
It’s eaten so much of my life that sometimes there’s not enough life left to go around. Sometimes I’ve been too busy and too stressed to be a good dad. It’s impinged on my writing schedule. I’ve lost touch with friends. I gave up tabletop games for the most part. Hell, I haven’t played a computer game or watched a movie in the theaters in I don’t know how long. Since… the last superman movie? Yeah. I guess that makes it more than a year.
The truth is, I’ve let go of these things willingly. Worldbuilders is important. I’m proud of it. It changes lives and quantifiably improves the world. I could never give it up.
But for the last couple years I’ve been dreaming a dream. I’ve been dreaming of having Worldbuilders, a writing career, and a life.
Now it’s starting to look like that might happen. Because of all you lovely people out there and because of the Worldbuilders Team.
So. Milkshakes all around. Everyone loves it when the boss is wrong. Sometimes the Boss loves it too.
* * *
We didn’t do a lot of stretch goals with this fundraiser, mostly because the timeframe was so tight.
But we did do a few.
Fundraiser blooper reel.
I have to say the fundraiser video we put together was my favorite video we’ve ever done. Even if it did feature me being constantly upstaged by a monkey puppet.
As if the regular fundraiser video wasn’t great enough, we put together an outtakes reel which features much, much more of me and the monkey puppet.
Before you watch it, I need you to understand that before filming the video, I’d spent four days locked away with the manuscript of Slow Regard of Silent Things, making final edits and generally working myself down to a bloody nub. I went to bed around 10:00 AM, then woke up four hours later to go shoot the video. I was simply speaking, a shambling wreck.
That’s my only excuse.
During our Reddit AMA I tricked Amanda into committing to help me get the rest of the photo contest blogs done:
So we’re making a push to get those done too.
Freebies in your orders.
Because we hit our stretch goal of $110k, we’re throwing freebies into random orders.
Originally we were going to do this for 1 in 100 orders. But since the fundraiser was such a *huge* success, we’ve decided to do twice as many as that. We’ll be throwing in Magnets, notes from the team, games, coins, and other coolness. There will probably even be a extra few fancy things, just to make it interesting.
Sorry for the Radio Silence here folks. In addition to the pleasant madness of the end of the Kickstarter, I also had a bunch of other things fall on me at the same time.
They included (but are not limited to) sickness, a car crash (everyone is fine), flight delays, cancellations, Worldbuilders running its first-ever serious booth at Origins, (blog to follow), seduction, piracy, storm, shipwreck….
I’m not going to dwell on any of that now. Suffice to say that in the end, it took me sixteen days to make it to Severen….
No. Wait. What was I talking about again?
Oh. Yeah. Radio Silence.
Today, I mostly wanted to thank all of you that stomped out and made the Kickstarter such a huge success.
I appreciate it. The folks at Albino Dragon appreciate it. Worldbuilders appreciates it.
And though they’ll never know the particulars, all the families that Heifer International will help with the money appreciate it too.
And it goes without saying that the success of this project will lead to more cool stuff in the future. He said tantalizingly…
There were a few things that I offered up as stretch goals in the Kickstarter. One was a video of me singing “I Crush Everything.”
You know what I learned today? Kansas City isn’t in Kansas. It’s in Missouri.
Now I’m all for people having fun with names, but honestly? There’s a little something called truth in advertizing too….
I learned this interesting fact because I’m going to a convention down there this weekend (Memorial Day weekend.) I’m Guest of Honor at ConQuest.
And just so Kansas won’t feel sad, I’m going to be doing a reading/signing there too. It’s the Thursday before the convention (the 23rd) at Mysteryscape in Overland Park.
So, you have been warned. Grab me when I’m in the area, because I don’t know when I’ll be back again….
(Note: Please don’t actually grab me.)
Edit: Just to make it clear, I’m also doing readings and signings at the convention itself all weekend. Plus at the convention I’m going to be on a bunch of panels about writing, worldbuilding, humor, etc etc.
The main reason I’m in town is because of the convention, and if you want to see a lot of me, that’s the place to go.
(Note: “By see a lot of me” what I really mean is “See me a lot.”)
I’m doing the bookstore event for people who don’t like conventions, can’t afford them, or who are busy over the weekend.
Just to clear that up.
* * *
In other news, I did something horrible in Florida.
Or rather, I tried to do something nice in Florida and I screwed it up.
Earlier this month when I did a signing in Bradenton, we ran out of books. I felt bad about that, as some folks had driven for hours and weren’t going to be able to buy books and get them signed.
So I told people that if they wrote their names and e-mail addresses down, we’d contact them and arrange to sell them some signed books for what they’d have been able to buy them for at the store.
I passed around the notebook, about 30 people wrote down their names….
…and now I can’t find the list.
I’ve looked everywhere. It’s not in my luggage. It’s not in the store. It’s not where we were staying in Florida, or in the car we drove around in….
It’s just gone.
I feel really bad about this, and I want to make it right, so here’s what we’re going to do…
We sell a bunch of stuff in The Tinker’s Packs, T-shirts, jewelry, posters, and signed copies of my books.
Because all the money from The Tinker’s Packs goes to charity, we normally charge more than the cover price of the books. But for the folks who were in Florida, we’re going to charge the cover price and eat the shipping cost ourselves.
(I’d love to give you even more of a deal, but the books actually cost us money….)
So. If you were at that signing and you didn’t get a book, here’s what I’d like you to do.
3. When you go to Paypal, click on the “Note to seller” field.
(Click to Embiggen)
4. Type in “I was in Florida”
5. Type in whatever you’d like your personalization to be.
6. Complete your order.
Note: The total will not be right.
7. When we process the order, we will refund some of your money.
If you want to buy some other stuff too, nothing would make me happier. Worldbuilders appreciates your support. But I’m afraid you’ll have to pay regular price for the other stuff.
What’s to stop *everyone* from jumping in and claiming they were at the event to get cheaper books?
First, we *will* be mailing this stuff to you. So if you say you were at the signing, then ask us to mail something to Ireland… Well… we’ll be a little skeptical.
Plus there’s the whole human decency thing. My readers have shown themselves to be cool, caring, generous folks. You’d have to be a bit of a wanker to try to screw a charity that’s trying to feed hungry kids, and my readers aren’t like that.
* * *
Lastly, since we’re on the topic of the store….
We have a few new items in there, for those of you who haven’t peeked in for a while.
The newest and coolest of those are the signed copies of Beatrice’s Goat.
The books we have in the store right now are extra-cool because they’re signed.
But wait. They’re even cooler than that. They’re not just signed by the author (Page McBrier) Not just signed by the illustrator (Lori Lohstoeter).
These copies are signed by Beatrice Biira herself, the woman the book was based on.
Beatrice has grown up since the book was published in 2001, and she’s gone on to great things. She got her BA, then went on to get her Master’s degree. (And I’m willing to bet money she got better grades than me when she was doing it.)
Suffice to say that we only have a limited number of these books. If you want one, you might want to grab it quickly.
* * *
Finally, we’re probably going to pull the calendar out of the store pretty soon, since the time for buying calendars is pretty much past. For those of you who want one as a collectable, or who are like me and tend to be forgetful about things like buying calendars: fair warning. In a week or so, we’re probably going to take it down.
But for now it’s still there, and it’s at half price.
Over the last year and a half a lot of folks have e-mailed me, asking if there’s a place they can buy signed copies of my books.
Other folks email me because they *know* there’s an online store, but they can’t find it.
In the last year, I’d say I’ve had roughly ten billion e-mails of this sort. (I’m rounding up.)
While the e-mails have been a little repetitious, they’ve never irritated me. It’s my own fault that there’s never been any sort of permanent link to the store on the website.
The best we’ve had until now is occasional links in the blog itself. Which is dumb. It’s like having a fully stocked refrigerator, except you can only open the door by walking into the bathroom and putting your foot in the toilet.
Actually, it’s not really anything like that. That’s a really awful analogy. I’m kinda tired right now, so my word-put-togethering is not all, um, good. I apologize.
Anyway, this blog celebrates the first step in the long path of tweaking and updating the website, something I’ve been meaning to do for years.
Those of you reading this blog directly off my site will see the new graphic up there on the right. It’s a little widget that will take people directly to the store where we sell signed books, posters, and other miscellany. A place we’ve decided to name The Tinker’s Packs.
I’m not going to lie to you. Nate sent me the art earlier today, and I’m really inordinately proud of the fact that I bunged that silly little widget together on my own.
I know for a lot of you, maybe even *most* of you, doing something like that is about as difficult as writing a check. But you have to understand that I know about as much html as your average dancing bear. So yeah. I’m gonna feel all sorts of self-sufficient because I didn’t have to run to one of my tech-smart friends for help on this.
For those of you that are interested, here’s a pic you can click to see a bigger version of the art:
Go on. Bask in its untrammeled glory. (I had to trammel it a bit to get it to fit in the space available for the widget.)
As always, all money spent in the store still goes directly to Worldbuilders. We’re not changing that.
So… yeah. That’s all I’ve got right now. I was just proud about my widget and wanted to share. Rest assured that in the relatively near future, we’ll be updating the website, adding some new stuff, streamlining the store, and generally embettering everything.
This seems to be a theme of ComicCon for me. My first trip to ComicCon was fraught with peril, as mentioned in this comic by Greg Dean. While my second trip had a delayed flight that left me stranded in Chicago for a night.
Luckily, this year I had Valerie to help me out, so I made it to the con without too much stress. Though I did only get about an hour and a half of sleep Tuesday night.
11:00 – Nap.
I arrive in San Diego, find my hotel, and promptly fall asleep. The people at the hotel seem a little confused when I ask them for a 3:00 wake up call.
“You want us to wake you up at 3:00 AM tomorrow morning?” they say.
“No.” I say. “3:00 this afternoon. Four hours from now.”
Eventually they catch on, but I feel like they’re judging me. And I guess that’s fair. When the first thing I do at the convention is take a nap, I am officially old.
The fact remains that it was a delicious nap. I wake up refreshed and ready to get my geek on.
I’ve been approached by various people over these last couple years who want to do merchandising. Most of the time I’ve replied with a polite, “Thank you, no.”
The biggest reason is that I don’t want to feel like a great big whore. I don’t want to churn out a bunch of gimmicky merch just to make some extra money. That sort of thing has always struck me as being tacky, if not downright unethical. It seems like a betrayal of trust, like taking advantage of my readers.
But Badali Jewelry does wonderful work. They hold the jewelry licenses for several big-name geek properties (LOTR and Wheel of Time, just to name a few.) What’s more, they’re actually fans of my books. They’re proper geeks, and their love for what they do shows in their work. I trusted them enough to let them beta read The Wise Man’s Fear, and that says a lot right there.
Anyway, the pipes turned out great. That’s the moral of the story here. You’ll be seeing some more stuff from them before too long.
5:00 – Crash.
After banging out quick blog on the computer in the hotel lobby, I head to the convention center. I end up standing next to Seth Green while waiting for a stoplight to change. I try to think of a way to say, “Your stuff is awesome” that doesn’t sound gushy and fanboy, but I can’t think of anything. So I settle on a companionable silence instead.
Despite the long line, getting my badge is a remarkably painless process. I’m just putting the program book in my backpack when my phone rings.
I open it up. “Hello?”
“Hey,” Valerie says. “It’s Valerie.”
“I know,” I say. “Your text is green. What’s up?”
“Badali’s website is down. A bunch of people posted comments about it.”
“Really?” I say. “When did it go down?”
“About twenty minutes after you posted the link on your blog.”
My first reaction was to feel pretty cool. My second reaction was terrible guilt. I thank Valerie and give my contact at Badali a call. They’re only a couple hundred feet away, but I don’t have an exhibitor badge, so I can’t go into the hall until 6:00.
“Janelle?” I say as soon as she picks up. “I’m sorry. I think I broke your stuff.”
“I posted up a link to the talent pipes on my blog. But I think the traffic crashed your website.”
“Wow,” she says. A pause. “That’s kinda awesome!”
A wave of relief fills me, and I’m no longer overwhelmed with guilt. “I know!” I say. “I feel like Neil Gaiman!”
5:30 – First contact.
I get off the phone and finish putting some stuff away into my backpack. I sling it over one shoulder and look around, wondering how I’m going to kill half an hour until the hall opens up for preview night.
A pretty young Asian woman makes eye contact with me. She cocks her head to one side. “Are you Patrick Rothfuss?” she asks.
“I am,” I say.
She looks hesitant, then says, “Can I have a hug?”
“Absolutely,” I say.
And we hug.
I decide that this is probably going to be a pretty good convention.
6:00 – On the Floor.
For those of you that don’t know much about San Diego ComicCon, let me explain. Wednesday night from 6:00-9:00 is preview night. Only people with 4-day passes can get in.
This makes it a great time to meet people in the exhibit hall. Not only is the place relatively uncrowded, but all the exhibitors are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. (Both literally and/or figuratively, depending on the booth.)
I wander around pretty aimlessly at first. But luck takes me past Donato’s booth, and I get to say howdy to him. He’s a hell of a nice guy, to say nothing of the fact that he’s amazing artist. We chat for a bit, and I thank him for the donation of some prints he made to Worldbuilders this year. (You’ll be seeing those in the Tinker’s Packs before too long.)
I swing by Jason Palmer’s booth too, but he’s not at the con yet. I shrug it off, knowing that I’ll have plenty of time to stop back later in the con.
Next I stumble onto a booth where the cast of the Guild is doing a signing. The con is barely half an hour old, and they already have a huge line. I consider stopping to say hello to Felicia and Sandeep, but even though they’re not signing yet, I can tell the cast is kinda hanging out together. Besides, Felicia and Sandeep are chatting with some guy and I don’t want to barge into their conversation.
I’m also vaguely anxious that if I run into them 30 minutes into the convention, I’ll look like I’m stalking them. Which I’m not. Not at the current moment, that is.
I decide to leave them to their throng of adoring fans and see what else the floor has to offer.
I swing by the Penny Arcade booth, where I say howdy to Mike and Jerry. I wrote an intro for their most recent anthology, and hadn’t had a chance to see it in the real world yet.
Jerry comes out from the booth and gives me a hug. “We said terrible things,” he says.
At first, I have no idea what he’s talking about. Then I realize he’s probably referring to the comic they did a while back, and the podcast where they talked about the book in frank terms, and, well… mocked me.
Honestly, I’m a little flabbergasted. “I don’t know what it’s like where you live,” I say. “But where I come from, mocking is how we express love.”
And it’s true. There’s a world of difference between snarkery, loving satire, and full-blown vitriolic excoriation. Penny Arcade does all of these things, and does them well, but I can tell the difference.
After establishing that we’re all still best friends, I wander by Mysterious Galaxy’s booth, where it turns out they’re selling copies of Ghost Story even though the book technically wasn’t going to be released for days yet.
Needless to say, I bought a copy and clutched it lovingly.
“Is Butcher going to be here at the con?” I ask the people at the booth.
They tell me he is.
This is good news. I’ve read all the Dresden Files books at least twice, many of them three or four times. I’m a huge fan and I’ve been hoping to meet Butcher for years.
So Wednesday was full of win. A great way to start the convention. Best of all, I’d managed to make it through the whole thing without committing any huge social gaffs and making an ass of myself.
But it was only Wednesday, I still had four days of convention left….
* * *
This is part of the San Diego Diary: Wednesday, Thursday Part I, Thursday Part II (Wootstock), and Friday Ad Infinitum.