Category Archives: Neil Gaiman

The News: The Slow Regard of Silent Things

So here’s the news:

I have a book coming out around November-ish.

Slow Regard - Front

It’s not book three. It’s not a mammoth tome that you can use to threaten people and hold open doors.

It’s a short, sweet story about one of my favorite characters.

It’s a book about Auri.

That’s the news. The short version. If you’d like the long version, I’ll give that below….

*     *     *

I didn’t set out to write a book about Auri. I really didn’t.

What happened was this: a while back, I was invited to contribute something to George Martin’s Rogues anthology. I mentioned it a while back on the blog…

Wow. I just went looking for the blog post where I mentioned the Rogues anthology, only to discover that I kinda never wrote it.

Well. Okay. I guess y’all get a little side order of news with your news today:

rouges cover 2

I’m in this book too. It’s coming out in June.

What happened was this: a couple years back, George Martin and Gardner Dozois invited me to be in an anthology called Rogues. I said yes, because back in 2009, when I was working on The Wise Man’s Fear, they’d invited me to participate in a different anthology: Star Crossed Lovers.

But in 2009 I was behind deadline and freaked out about it. So I said “No” and went back to struggling with WMF. It broke my heart a little. Because it’s one of those anthologies you dream about being invited to. It was the anthology equivalent of getting invited to the cool-kid party back in high-school.

Anyway, when they asked me to contribute a story to Rogues back in 2012, I said yes for two reasons.

1. Because how fucking cool is it to be in this anthology? Look at my name up there, right next to Neil Gaiman’s. Seriously. Look at that. My name is almost touching Neil Gaiman’s name….

I know I should be cooler about this. I should pretend that I’m a professional and a grown-up and everything. But I’m really not. I’m still the same person who read Neverwhere back in the late 90′s and went, “What? Seriously? You can do that?”

And now I’m anthology-buddies with him. In fact, Gaiman’s story is “How the Marquis Got his Coat Back.” It’s about the Marquis De Carabas from Neverwhere.

The other reason I said yes was…

2. I’d had a story idea about Auri tickling around my head for a while. What’s more, I thought she would make a nice counterpoint to some of the other  classic rogue-type characters in the anthology. Sort of a trickster rogue, as opposed to a thief, swashbuckler, or a con man.

“Besides,” I thought to myself. “It’s just a short story. Three or four thousand words. Maybe 6 or 7 thousand if I run long. That’s about two week’s writing, tops.”

So I started writing about Auri. But as it unfolded, it went in directions I hadn’t expected. The story was… strange. I hit 3000 words and I was barely started. Writing about the Underthing was more complicated than I’d anticipated.

So the story got longer. I hit 7ooo words without even realizing it. I kept going, unearthing more secrets about Auri and the Underthing.

Eventually I hit about 15,000 words and forced myself to stop. It wasn’t going to work for the anthology, it was too long, and it wasn’t a trickster tale of the sort I initially expected it to be. Honestly didn’t know what the hell kind of story it was, but it wasn’t going to work for the anthology.

I e-mailed George and Gardner and begged for an extension on my deadline. They were very kind and understanding. I tried a few different things that failed miserably, then I realized who *really* belonged in an anthology about Rogues: Bast. Once I figured that out, I wrote “The Lightning Tree” for the anthology, and it worked out really well.

But I was stuck with half a story. Half a strange story. Half a strange, too-long story that wasn’t doing the things a story is supposed to do.

Reluctantly, I walked away from it and went back to working on book three. I love Auri, and the story had an odd sweetness to it. But I had work to do.

But the Auri story kept tickling at me. And let me tell you this, having a half-finished story stuck in your head is ten times worse than having a song stuck in there.

And there’s only one way to get it out. So when I came to a good stopping point in my revisions, I went back to the Auri story. It just wouldn’t leave me alone.

It ended up over 30,000 words long. An odd length for me. Much too long for a short story. Much shorter than my usual novels. (For a frame of reference, 30,000 words is about the same length as Neil Gaiman’s Coraline.)

What’s more, the story had unfurled into something full of secrets and mysteries. Something sweet and strange. Not a normal sort of story at all. I suppose it was silly of me to assume a story about Auri would be usual in any way.

The problem was, I had no idea what to do with it. I liked the story, but I like strange things. And I’m fond of Auri. And most importantly, I’m the author. Asking me if I like my story is like asking a mom if she likes her baby….

I showed it to a few people, and they seemed to like it pretty well. But they were friends, you can only trust them to be so honest with you.

I revised it a couple times, then showed it to a few authors. They liked it, but they agreed, it was an odd story.

Then I took a big risk and showed it to Vi Hart. As I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog where she put some of my lyrics to music, we are now Best Friends.

So I knew her, and respected her opinion, but since we haven’t known each other very long, I trusted her to tell me the truth.

She read it, and we talked about the story. She pointed out some things she thought were problematic. I agreed. She pointed out some things she liked, and I was flattered.

We were in a bar in San Fransisco at this point. The Casanova. We’d spent a lovely evening together, and I was drinking a little bit, which is unusual for me. And it might be because of that that I started to lament the fact that the story was kind of a hot mess. Good stories are supposed to contain certain elements, I explained, and my story didn’t have those things.

Vi said she liked it.

I told her I liked it too, but that didn’t change the fact that people expect certain things from a story. If people read this story looking for those things, they wouldn’t get them, they’d be dissatisfied. Disappointed.

And Vi said something I hope she’ll forgive me for paraphrasing here without asking her first. She said, “Fuck those people. Those people get all the other stories in the world. Everyone writes stories for them. This story is for people like me. We deserve stories too.”

That shut me up. Because she’s right. It might not be for everyone. But not every story has to be for everyone. Maybe this was just a story for people like me and Vi. People who are curious about Auri and the life she leads. People who are, perhaps, not entirely normal.

Vi said a few other things that gave me enough confidence to send the story to my agent. He liked it, and said we should show it to Betsy, my editor at DAW. Betsy liked it. Really liked it. The people in her office liked it.

That made me think that maybe it *was* a story for everyone. Or maybe there are more people like me and Vi in the world than either of us expected.

Anyway, the end result is this:

Slow Regard - Front

I’ll have more details about it later. Exact dates. If and when I’m touring. Those things are still up in the air a bit right now.

But today’s the day we’re officially announcing the cover, showing it off to people at C2E2 and letting it out onto the internet. I’ve been holding off on this post so y’all could be some of the very first people to see it.

I think a lot of you are going to like it.

Fondly,

pat

Also posted in book covers, cool news, geeking out, Stories about stories., the business of writing | By Pat153 Responses

Signed Rarities by Gaiman and Pratchett

Things are going really well over here at Worldbuilders. We’re closing in on the end of the fundraiser, so headquarters is a whirlwind of activity. Every day more books come in from authors and publishers, blogs are assembled by our team of indentured internet elves, and orders are packaged and shipped out from our online store.

Best of all, donations keep rolling in on the Worldbuilders Team page.

In fact, donations are coming in so quickly we’re having trouble keeping up with our stretch goals. As I write this, we’re at 347,000 dollars, which means if we raise another $3,000 Hank Green will record a video of himself seducing a tree.

Seriously.

If people continue to chip in, it looks like we’ve got a decent chance of hitting our $500,000 goal, where Neil Gaiman will record a video of himself reading Green Eggs and Ham.

You know you want to see that.

*     *     *

Today we’ve got works from two of my very favorite authors: Neil Gaiman and Sir Terry Pratchett.

These items have been donated by different folks over the last year. Some of them are going up for auction, and some of them you can win by donating directly to Heifer International on the Worldbuilders Team Page.

Let’s start with Terry Pratchett.

Last Hero cover

“A fable? Perhaps. Fabulous? Certainly” – The Times

This is a bit of an oddity, as it’s one of the few Discworld novels that’s illustrated. What’s more, the illustrator has signed this copy, making it increasingly awesome.

As with most of the books in today’s blog, we’re putting this one in the lottery, where anyone who donates at least $10 gets a chance to win it. (And if you donate more, your chances of winning improve too.)

My thought is this book will either find a loving home in the arms of a Pratchett fan, or it will brighten the lives of a person (a sad, lonely person) who hasn’t experienced the joy of Discworld yet.

  • Auction: A copy of The Art of Discworld. Signed by Paul Kidby.

Art of Discworld - lying

Paul Kidby has been doing the art for Discworld for about 20 years, and it’s always hilarious and beautiful. This book has full versions of some of the works he’s made for dust jackets and other prints, as well as some paintings that aren’t available anywhere else.

This book is also signed by Mr. Kidby, so we’re auctioning it off over here.

Daybreak Kidby Print - full

Here we have a great faerie print by Paul Kidby.  It’s a different side to his artwork, and was featured in a collection of art called La Royaume Enchante.

We have a print of it up for auction, so if you want in, be sure to go bid on it.

Greebo Rising

This is a really great print of Nanny Ogg’s cat Greebo, about to pounce on an unsuspecting little fellow.

It’s extra cool because it’s signed by both Paul and Terry Pratchett, and is numbered 696 out of 950.

If you want to hang this beautiful beast on your wall, go bid on it before someone else does.

Death Print and Book

We’re bundling both of these together for fans of Terry Pratchett’s Death character.

This is a great print signed by Terry and Paul, as well as an awesome mapbook of Death’s domain signed by the artist himself, Paul Kidby.

If you want to add these to your collection, you can bid on them over here.

*     *     *

Now on to the Neil Gaiman items…

  • Auction: Media print, modeled by Amanda Palmer. Numbered and signed by Lee Moyer.

Amanda P Moyer Pinup

 (Click to embiggen)

This is a numbered print of the pin-up Lee Moyer did for Neil Gaiman’s page in last year’s Pin-up-calendar.

Neils rockstar wife, Amanda Palmer, was the model for this delightfully meta depiction of Media. So this print is sure to please any fan of American Gods, Neil Gaiman, or Amanda Palmer herself…

To bid, head over here.

Fortunately the Milk - signatures

This awesome children’s book is Gaiman’s most recent publication, and this edition is signed by both him and the illustrator. That thing tucked in by Chris’s signature is a little metal bookmark with the Neil cartoon screened onto it.

We’re throwing it into the lottery, so anyone can share it with the kid (or child-like adult) in their life.

Stardust - standing

“A twisting, wondrous tale full of magic that only Neil Gaiman could have written.” – Chicago Tribune

If you don’t win our beloved Stardust ARC in the lottery this year, you still have a chance at winning this beautiful, signed copy.

  • First edition copy of Fragile Things.  Signed by Neil Gaiman.

Fragile Things - standing

“Half the pleasure of reading Gaiman comes from his lighthearted prose… the other half comes from Gaiman’s inventiveness.  His work resists categorization… Gaiman not only taps into our collective unconscious… but reinvents our myths.” – Houston Chronicle

This is a great collection of some of Gaiman’s short fiction and poetry.  If you haven’t read any of that before, you’re going to have to, and soon.

Melinda - standin

 

This is a beautiful story, and seriously hard to come by.  Most places, it goes for as much as $500. It’s printed on specially selected red-speckled paper with black and white illustrations and several color plates that were hand-set.

What’s more, It’s double signed on the first plate (once in silver marker and once in purple), which makes it double cool. Or maybe four times as cool. I’m not sure about the math here…

This one’s in the lottery too. So every $10 you donate on our Team Page gets you another chance to win it and all the other books we have in the lottery.

Dangerous Alphabet - cover

“Gaiman and Grimly have combined forces to produce an acrid, gothic confection that bubbles with vitriol and wit.” – ALA Booklist

  • Auction: A first-edition copy of Duran Duran: The First Four Years of the Fab Five. Signed by Neil Gaiman.

DuranDuran - Standing

I’ll say it before you do: What does a Duran Duran biography have to do with Neil Gaiman?

Well, this was actually the *first* book Neil Gaiman ever wrote.

It’s ridiculously rare, as the publisher went bankrupt after the book had only one small print run. Plus, people didn’t know they should be collecting their beloved Duran Duran biographies back in the 80s. Apparently, lots of people cut up their copies for the pictures.

So when Worldbuilders fan David saw a copy out in the wild, he felt he *needed* to pick it up. And when he got it signed, Gaiman wrote: “This is one from the vaults…”

Then David sent us to us. And we did a little dance.

For the truly avid Neil Gaiman collector, or someone who’s really into Duran Duran, this rarity is up for auction over here.

  • Auction: A numbered edition copy of A Screenplay.  Signed by Neil Gaiman.

Screenplay Cover

Another rarity, this is numbered 436 out of 500.  It’s a beautiful copy of the book which was never available for general sale, and hasn’t been read by many.

If you want one for your very own, you can bid on it over here.

  • A limited edition copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Signed and inscribed by Neil Gaiman specially for Worldbuilders.

Ocean at - Standing

As I’ve mentioned before on my blog and in my goodreads review, I had a fairly major geek out over Ocean at the End of the Lane.

So I couldn’t be more pleased when, before we were even requesting donations, Neil offered to send this copy in for Worldbuilders this year.

It’s a lovely, slipcased, limited edition book, and Gamain added his own flourish to it.

Ocean at - inscription

Honestly? When I saw that, it made my heart a little melty.

This one’s going in the lottery too.

  • A complete set of  The Absolute Sandman Volumes 1-5.  Signed by Neil Gaiman.

Sandman - stack

I’m guessing most of you know about Sandman. It’s a comic series that finally convinced a lot of people (including me) that comics were a brilliant storytelling medium in their own right. That comics could be as marvelous and orchestral and clever as anything ever written by Shakespeare or Chaucer or Homer.

These are the Absolute editions of the entire Sandman series. The art has been retouched. And they’re collected into gorgeous, slipcased, hard-bound books.

Just calling these “books” doesn’t give the right impression. These are Tomes.

Sandman - towering

Here’s the thing. These weren’t originally going to be in the fundraiser.

You see, couple months ago I found these in a store. The whole set. Signed. And I love Sandman. And I love Gaiman. And I love beautiful books. I wanted them with a powerful powerful want. I coveted these books.

So I bought them. I spend kind of a lot of of money on them.

Then, a couple days ago, we were planning out the blogs. And we were putting a bunch of cool Neil Gaiman stuff in the blog, and I thought to myself, “If I put these into the prize lottery, anyone who donates to Worldbuilders will be able to win them.”

Sandman - signature

But they were my books. They were precious to me. My precious.

“They’ll make an awesome prize,” I thought. “Some book geek out there will win them. And they’ll love these books. And they’ll give them a good home. And they will be really, really happy.”

Sandman wall

But they were my books. I hadn’t even had a chance to read them yet.

“People will get excited about them,” I thought to myself. “And people will go in and donate a little more with the hope of winning them, because they are beautiful. And those people will have warm, fuzzy feelings because they’ve made the world a better place. And kids all over the world will have milk to drink and eggs to eat. Kids will get to go to school and have better lives.”

So. I’m putting them into the lottery.

For every ten bucks you donate, you get a chance to win. Not just the books we’re showing here, but over a thousand books donated by authors, fans, and publishers. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of books.

Here’s the link.

Also posted in Worldbuilders 2013 | By Pat29 Responses

A Cold Day, A Warm Fuzzy, and a Familiar Book….

Well folks, as many of you know, we’re having a bit of a cold snap here in Wisconsin.

It’s not the coldest weather I’ve ever seen. But it is cold. -20 something Fahrenheit. Or, if you’re part of the logistically consistent world, -30 degrees Celsius.

If you count the windchill, we’re closer to -40. Which, interestingly enough, is that magical place where both Celsius and Fahrenheit shake hands and agree on a number.

We’re no strangers to the cold here in Wisconsin, but this is enough to catch even our jaded attention. It’s cold enough that we’re having to make some concessions. For one thing, I actually put on gloves earlier this evening, and I buttoned up my coat.

The other thing I’ve done is to give everyone at Worldbuilders the day off. Some of them have to commute to work, and not to sound all sissy, but this *is* the sort of cold that can kill you pretty easily if your car quits on some back road.

You see, while I may be a tyrannical dictator of a boss, I like to think of myself as a benevolent tyrannical dictator. The sort that stops just short of risking my employees’ lives.

Lastly, something in the cold brings out the storyteller in me. So I’m going to tell you a story. A story about a book. Some of you might have heard it before, but it bears repeating.

And there’s a new chapter this year. Read on, my friend.

*     *     *

If you’ve been following Worldbuilders for the last couple years, you probably know about our now-mythical Stardust ARC. It’s a book that has been with the fundraiser since the beginning, since 2008….

2008: A Gift from Gaiman.

In 2008 I was still a newbie author, barely published for a year. On a whim, I decided to try raising money for Heifer International on my blog. As you can guess, things quickly spiraled out of control as other authors pitched in, helping spread the word and donating books for us to give away.

The pinnacle of the coolness/madness came when Neil Gaiman mentioned us to his vast legion of readers. He also donated a rare ARC of Stardust to the cause. Unfortunately, mail was delayed because of the holidays, so we couldn’t use the book until….

2009: Stardust for the People.

So we had this book. This beautiful book. This beautiful, *rare* book. And I was having a hard time deciding how best to use it. I knew we could auction it off and raise at least a thousand dollars, maybe a couple thousand, but that didn’t seem right somehow.

So I decided to put it into the lottery, where anyone who donated to Heifer International on our team page would have a chance at winning it. That seemed fair to me, more egalitarian.

But then something strange happened. At the end of the fundraiser the person who won the book gave it back to us. Their one stipulation is that we auction it off next year, so it will bring in more money for Heifer. So….

2010: Stardust on the Auction Block.

During year three of Worldbuilders, we auctioned off all manner of things. And, as the previous winner requested, we put Gaiman’s Stardust ARC up on eBay too.

After some fierce bidding it sold for over $2500 to a lovely guy named Dan. There were many high-fives in Worldbuilders central. We were sad to see the book go, but $2500 bucks buys a lot of goats.

But when I e-mailed Dan to arrange shipping, he said he wanted to donate the book back to Worldbuilders.

I asked Dan if he was sure. He said he was sure. I asked Dan how he got to be so cool, and he said he was inspired by the story of how last year’s winner re-donated the book.

But most of the credit, he said, should go to his mom. She always made a point of donating to charity even though she never had a lot of money. Not only that, but she was a dyed-in-the-wool geek like the rest of us: she read fantasy and sci-fi, she played Infocom games…

From everything I’ve heard, she sounds like my kind of lady.

Dan told me she had passed away recently, and that most of the money he inherited from her went into buying this book. He thinks she would be proud and happy to know that the money will go to helping as many people as possible through Heifer.

Dan also said that he was a big Gaiman fan, and that he hoped that this whole exchange didn’t give Gaiman a complex because nobody would keep his book….

His only stipulation was that we put the book back into the lottery next year, so anyone can win it….

2011: Stardust Full Circle.

We put the ARC back into the lottery with much cheering. After picking the prizes, I called the winner, Maayan, to set up shipping (because you don’t want something like this to be a surprise on a doorstep).

Maayan tells me no.  She wants it back in the fundraiser. It’s sort of a thing now.

I send her a box of books as a “Thanks for being cool” present.

And Stardust goes back on the shelf…

2012: Stardust as Statistical Anomaly.

In 2012, we put Stardust back in the lottery again. Mostly because I like the idea of this amazingly cool prize being something anyone can win.

At the end of the fundraiser, we run our numbers. We cross-reference our list of prizes with our list of winners.

Amanda ran through the house yelling, after she checked it three times.

When I’m told, I look at the assistant holding the handful of papers with grim, fatherly disapproval, telling them in the gentlest of terms that they’ve fucked up and are obviously using last year’s spreadsheets.

But no. The truth is, Maayan won it *again*. For the second year in row.

This is bizarre math, people. This is like Heart-of-Gold level improbability.

I called her. She was shocked, amused, and flustered. So we sent her the book.

And she sent us back a picture.

IMGP0664

Here’s what she had to say:

I was really extremely surprised to win the Stardust ARC two years ago, because I don’t think I’ve ever won any kind of online contest before. I was actually sitting in a hot tub on a ski trip to Colorado when Pat called, and my friends got to watch me make the craziest faces while on the phone. A few weeks later, Neil Gaiman sent me a little card with a picture he had drawn in it, which was so nice of him.

When Pat called me this year to say that I had won again, I’m pretty sure my first words were, “No, I did not!” Surprised doesn’t begin to describe it. If I win again this year, I’m going to start to be suspicious of your randomization algorithm.

Worldbuilders is such a great fundraiser, and Heifer International is an outstanding organization. I’m thrilled to take part. Thank you to Pat Rothfuss for putting it together, and thank you to all of the authors and artists who donate the prizes! I’ve enjoyed reading the fruits of your generosity.

That’s right, Maayan sent it back to us again.

Thanks so much, Maayan. We’re glad you at least got to touch the book that seems so desperate to meet you.

And without further ado, we’re putting it back in the lottery.

  • A numbered, limited edition ARC of Stardust in its own slipcase. Signed by Neil Gaiman.

Stardust (6)

Not much remains to be said here. It’s a beautiful book with its own slipcase. Numbered 28 out of 250. Signed by Gaiman.

If you donate to Heifer International on our team page, you have a chance of winning not only this book, but hundreds upon hundreds of other books donated by other authors, publishers, collectors and fans.

If you’d like to see some of the auctions we’re running, you can head over to our eBay page.

If you’d like more details about Worldbuilders itself, you can hit our Website, or read my blog.

You can also see all the items in the lottery here.

Stay warm everyone,

pat

Also posted in cool things, Worldbuilders 2013 | By Pat61 Responses

Name of the Wind Kickstarter: Final Days and the Coolest. News. Ever.

Honestly folks, I don’t even know where to begin today. I’ve got a lot of cool news to share about the Kickstarter.

And this is legitimately cool news. Not bullshit cool news that I just made up so I could pimp the project one last time before it closes in less than two days.

devi-colored

(Click to Embiggen Devi)

Because it *is* over in less than two days. Be warned.

Note: Please stay tuned to the end. Or skip directly down there. We have stunning news at the end of the blog.

  • We Crushed Everything

In the last blog I wrote about this project, I mentioned that if our Kickstarter hit 160K we would be the highest funded card-based Kickstarter ever.

The next day y’all stomped in to the tune of about 70,000 dollars, blowing past that goal and every other stretch goal we’d planned out.

In celebration, Shane drew a picture of me as a sort of great Krakken-bearded beast.

8bfc4f37d96d96c6fbd507a7959386a2_large

Because everyone loved it so much, we made the art available as magnet and t-shirt add-ons.

We currently stand at 440,000 dollars. Almost three times the previous record. The video of me singing will be forthcoming.

  • More Jots

I added 100 more jots to the kickstarter, doubling the previous levels.

I mention this early in the blog so those you can hopefully go and grab some before they’re all gone again.

Jot-ty1-02

Here’s a picture of the finished product, complete with the maker’s mark. Rest assured, more jots will be available in the future. Both in the Tinker’s Packs, and as a Worldbuilders fundraiser toward the end of the year.

  • Better Gaff Cards

Here’s the thing: all poker decks come with 2 gaff cards. They’re pretty useless. They usually have the rules for poker or some advertizement.

Shane and I came up with the idea of replacing them with something cool. We set stretch goals, then burned right through them….

So now we’re having:

1. A Lorren Gaff card that people can use as a bookmark. (Image forthcoming.)

2. A Willem Gaff card that you can use as a replacement card in your deck in case one of the cards is damaged.

All the Limited and Unlimited decks will have these Gaff cards included free.

We do this because we love you.

  • Signed Lorren Bookplates

Using the Lorren card art, Shane is going to make me a bookplate. My very first bookplate ever.

There’s only two ways of getting this bookplate.

1. You can add one to your order for five bucks. (Up to three.)

2. You get one for free if your order is $135 or more.

That’s it. Those are the only two ways to get them.

Would I love to include these bookplates with every order? Yes. But as it is, please understand that I’m going to be signing, like, 3000 of them. If I gave one away with every order, I’d be signing them for *days.*

That said, we have a stretch goal set at 450K. If we hit that, I’ll give one to everyone who buys in for 100 bucks or more.

  • Marked Cards

Or, as I like to think of it, the Taborlin deck.

I’ve always wanted a deck of marked cards. So I asked Shane if we could do one. And he said yes. And so we are…

You can add a marked deck to any Kickstarter pledge for 15 bucks. And they have a different back from the others.

tabback[3]

(I love the imagery here.)

Now here’s the thing: am I creating a deck of cards for cheaters?

No. I’m making a marked deck of cards. Because I think it’s cool.

Now you could use this deck of cards for evil if you wanted. But that’s your choice. You can use a screwdriver to kill someone if you wanted. That’s not necessarily what a screwdriver is for.

I like to think of this as the Taborlin deck because it will be *awesome* for card tricks.

Also, I’d get together with my friends and have a night of poker where everyone *tries* to cheat. Where it is effectively, *fair* to cheat. We would also probably drink whiskey and pretend to be cowboys of some sort.

Because I am seven years old inside, apparently.

In this deck, the gaff cards won’t be Wil and Lorren. They’ll contain the details of the marked-card cypher.

  • International shipping on the poker sets

Because several of you asked for this in the comments, we’ve added that as a special donation tier. (The rest of you can add the box sets as a simple add-on.)

541d706d0a2f5bc9a1ca85a7d8946817_large

The international shipping is expensive, but that’s because those high-quality clay chips are *heavy* and we’re going to be packaging them very, very carefully.

  • Guest appearances by Neil Gaiman and Felicia Day

Neil and Felicia graciously allowed us to use their likenesses for our two jokers: Elodin and Auri.

We listed these as stretch goals and met them less than a day later.

Reactions were divided. Some people made a vast ululating *squee* noise. Others said something along the lines of, “Boo! I want to see the *real* Auri and Elodin!”

So I just want to clarify things. We aren’t just going to draw Gaiman as Elodin, as if he were doing some sort of cosplay. That would be lame.

(Actually, that would be kinda awesome….)

But no. That’s not what’s going on here at all.

First off, the main reason Shane and I thought of Neil and Felicia is because they both possess certain characteristics we feel are very appropriate to Elodin and Auri.

Hell, I did an interview with Felicia on my blog back in 2008. Back before she was FELICIA DAY. While we were chatting, I asked which part she’d pick if she could play anyone in The Name of the Wind movie. She said, “My dream role would be Auri. I like playing damaged goods….”

And I thought, Yeah. I could totally see that. She has a whimsy about her that would be perfect….

Does that mean Auri is going to have red hair like Felicia? No. Obviously not. Auri will have Auri’s hair. But her expression and face will be influenced by Felicia’s because it works for the character.

It’s the same way we brought Jim Butcher in as everyone’s favorite Jackass:

amsam1

(God. I want to slap him so much….)

It doesn’t really look too much like Jim, but if you know it’s there, you can spot it.

Gaiman is a similar good fit for Elodin. Trust me about this. Neil and Felicia are perfect for my two wise fools.

  • Superhero Team-Up

Almost exactly 24 hours ago, I did a video conference with Shane and Erik, the folks behind Albino Dragon. We were going to plan our strategies for the final days of the kickstarter. Plan stretch goals. Talk strategy.

But before we could get into that, Shane said, “We’d like to give 5% of Albino Dragon to Worldbuilders.”

“Sorry?” I said.

“We’d like to give 5% of Albino Dragon to Worldbuilders.”

And then I just kinda sat there. I knew what he’d said, but I didn’t quite believe he’d said it.

So I asked. “Do you mean you’d like to give Worldbuilders a piece of the profit from this project? More than we already negotiated?”

No, he said. Then he explained again.

“Are you serious?” I asked.

Shane and Erik have built this company themselves with their time and energy, with their blood and sweat and money.

And they want to give a piece of it to Worldbuilders.

We couldn’t mention it on the kickstarter itself, of course. Because kickstarter projects can’t be directly associated with charities.

But yes, they were serious.

“And if we hit 500,000 before the end of the kickstarter,” Erik said. “We’d like to give you another 5%.”

It’s not often that I’m caught completely flat-footed and at a loss for words. But I was, I honestly was.

Eventually I kinda pulled myself together. “That’s really amazingly generous of you guys,” I said. “It’s amazingly kind of you. I’m so flattered, and I’m floored, and I’m stupefied. It’s one of the most ridiculously generous things anyone has ever offered me, and I don’t know how to respond.”

Then I paused and took a deep breath. “But maybe you want to think this over. Chat about it. Make sure it’s something you really want to do. We can talk about it some more tomorrow.”

And they kinda laughed at me. They explained that they’d already thought it over and talked about it. Which is why they were making me the offer now.

I nodded for a while kinda absentmindedly, getting my head together.

“If you let me tell this story on my blog,” I said. “Me and my people will blow the fucking roof off the last two days of this kickstarter. We will bring thunder and fury to your very door. We will shake the earth.”

They said they were okay with that.

So. Here is our 500K stretch goal.

500k

Now. Let’s be honest here. Are Shane and Erik being generous? Absolutely.

Are they being perfect, saintlike altruists? No. They’re clever folks. Really amazingly clever. Because with a single piece of outside-the-box thinking and startling generosity, they’ve brought me onto their team. I’m going to *so* many projects with them in the future. So many.

And you know what? I’m fine with that. Because they do awesome work.

This is the best sort of cleverness. The sort of cleverness where everyone is awesome, and everyone wins.

Now I’m not asking y’all to rush over and join the kickstarter. If you’ve already signed up, I’m not asking you to run over and increase your order.

But if you were thinking of picking up some of the new add-ons anyway…. Well, you can make that purchase knowing that an even larger portion of the money is going to a good cause.

And if you have a friend that loves NOTW, and you wanted to buy them an deck of cards as early Christmas present…. Well, you can rest assured that not only will that deck be as awesome as I can make it, but that the money is going directly to the artists. To the company they themselves own.

And if you wanted to twitter about this. Or talk about it on your blog. Or drop a link to this blog on facebook….

Well, I’d take that as a kindness. Because we have less than two days left.

And I’d really like to show Shane and Erik that they’ve made a good choice here.

Later space cowboys,

pat

P.S. If you have any questions about the kickstarter. You can ask them in the comments here. I’ll answer the ones I can. But tomorrow’s a busy day, and I’m flying out to Ohio for a convention.

So if some of the more kickstarter-savvy among you can help out with some answers too, I’d really appreciate it.

Also posted in being awesome, calling on the legions, cool news, Felicia Day, Jim Butcher | By Pat135 Responses

A Paean for Gaiman or What I Learned Reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane

So Neil Gaiman has a new book coming out in June. It’s called The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

I mention this for those of you who live deep in the wilderness or high atop some craggy mountain. (I’m assuming you access my blog with the help of some sort of friendly pigeon, or by using a type of prana-bindu meditation.)

I assume everyone except a complete eremite knows this book is coming out. Because generally speaking, I’m pretty clueless, and I’ve known about it for over half a year.

That means for half a year I have *craved* this book. I have desired it with a sort of grim, white-knuckled intensity that is normally the purview of sociopaths and teenage boys.

The worst part was that I knew Advance Reading Copies existed somewhere, but I didn’t know who I could schmooze to get one. You see, I’m at that point in my career where I know how publishing works, but I’m not exactly sure if it’s entirely cool to… say… contact Neil’s publisher and just ask for an ARC.

Trapped between my powerful desires and my own uselessness, eventually I did the modern equivalent of crying out the name of my beloved to the unfeeling sky, which is to say that I whined about it on goodreads.

Surprisingly, this helped a bit. I got it off my chest and was able to move on with my life.

Then, months later, when I’d almost manged to forget about it, something arrived in the mail:

full book

And on the back cover….

Back coverWait. Wait for it….

It gives me a tingle

Y’know, I feel like I should try to be cool about this. I am a professional author after all, have been for years. That means in some odd way I’m a colleague of Gaiman’s. Part of me feels that, as a professional, I should feign some sort of nonchalance about getting this book.

But it’s just not true. I am the furthest thing from nonchalance. I am brim-full of chalance. Overflowing with it.

The truth is, when I opened the envelope and saw this book, my heart actually beat faster. I was filled with a giddy joy. For a couple days, I carried it around with me. I showed it to my friends, filling them with rage and despair.

The truth is, I’m not a grown up. Underneath all of this, I’m still the same kid who used to spend all his allowance at Waldenbooks.

The truth is, I love books. I love them beyond all reason and sense. I will not pretend otherwise, and I am not ashamed. I am a geek, and the thought of having a special book signed by one of my absolute favorite authors fills me with a ridiculous and disproportionate amount of joy.

So. I got the book. My fondest wish. My heart’s desire.

You know about the shape of stories. You know where things go after this. Now we gently slide into a sweet and simple ending, an easy ever-after. Right?

No. Oh no. If you think that then you’re forgetting who I am. You’re forgetting who Gaiman is too.

I lack the ability to write a simple story with a simple ending. (I am, even now, telling you a story about a story. I cannot help it.)

And Gaiman’s stories, while they may be sweet, are never merely sweet. And when his stories are simple, they are deceptively so.

So this is the place where the story takes a turn.

*     *     *

Once I had the book, I did not read it.

At first the reason was a simple one. I was in the middle of a book. I can’t stop a book halfway any more than you can stop a sneeze. Neither can I read two books at once. The very idea strikes me as being vaguely obscene.

So I finished the book I was reading.

But still I didn’t read The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

The problem this time was that I was busy, putting in 12-14 hour days. Then I was traveling and didn’t want to risk taking the book. When I returned, I was swamped again, desperately trying to catch up on the work I had missed.

Then I caught up a little bit. Not entirely, but enough to have some breathing room. Enough to read.

Still I didn’t read the book.

Through all of this, the book sat on my desk where I could see it. It was nice having it there. Looking at it made me happy. Sometimes I would reach out and touch it a little bit. Occasionally I would pick it up and turn it over in my hands a little.

Then I would put it back down, unopened and unread.

I didn’t think much about it at first. After all, I was still busy. I would wait until I had enough time to relax and enjoy it….

So it continued to sit by my computer. I would reach out and touch it. Its presence comforted me.

Then, after a couple of days, something occurred to me. This is addict behavior. This is exactly how an experienced drug addict with good coping mechanisms treats their stash. Those of you who have had junkie friends will probably know exactly what I’m talking about…

Once I started thinking about my reading in these terms, the parallels were a little disturbing. I read about 150 novels a year, that’s not counting the comic books I’m increasingly fond of. Not nearly as much reading as I used to do, but it’s still a hell of a lot considering I’m usually working 10-12 hours a day.

I binge read. I read compulsively. I have been known to break plans with others in favor of staying home and reading. When I go too long without reading, I get irritable and depressed. The list goes on and on…. 

It kinda sounds like I’m making a joke here, but I’m really not. While labeling my reading a full-blown addiction would be a little silly (not to mention insulting to folks who struggle with genuine chemical addictions) I actually suspect that I may have an honest-to-god compulsive obsession with reading.

That said, as far as compulsions go, I’m pretty okay with it.

Besides, even if I wanted to fight it at this point, I doubt I could break the habit. The thought fills me with genuine horror. (Which is, of course, another sign of addiction.)

Still, the realization was a little troubling. So, looking for a little comfort, I did what I always do.

I started reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane. The only reason it took two sittings is because the restaurant closed and kicked me out.

(I feel as if I should mention at this point there won’t be any spoilers in this blog. I don’t go in for that sort of thing.)

I will say this. It made me smile. I laughed out loud. I cried. Not because of any particular sad moment, but because sometimes the shape a story makes is like a key turning inside me and I cannot do anything but weep.

Gaiman’s stories do this to me with fair regularity, which is one of the reasons I’m so fond of him. We are not similar writers. Not at all. But I like to think we share a fondness for the shape of stories.

Ultimately, when you tell a friend about a book, there is only one truly meaningful question to answer: “Is this book worth your time?”

So I will simply say, “Yes.”

If you’re curious to hear more, I wax more rhapsodic over here on goodreads.

Later,

pat

P.S. Absolutely worth your time…..

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, cool things, love, Stories about stories. | By Pat85 Responses

Gaiman and Goats: Gifts that Keep on Giving

Those of you who have been following Worldbuilders for a couple years will probably recognize this book.

It’s a book with a story behind it. And the story goes like this.

2008: A gift from Gaiman.

On a whim in 2008, I decided to try raising money for Heifer International. Things quickly spiraled out of control (in a good way) and soon all sorts of authors were mentioning the fundraiser on their blogs and donating books to help out.

The pinnacle of the coolness/madness came when Neil Gaiman mentioned us to his vast legion of readers. He also donated a rare ARC of Stardust to the cause.

Unfortunately, the mail was slow around the holidays, and we didn’t get hold of the book until after that year’s fundraiser was over. That meant we couldn’t use it until….

2009: Stardust for the people.

The second year of the fundraiser was going well, but I was having a hard time deciding how best to use Gaiman’s beautiful donation. I knew I could auction it off and raise at least a thousand dollars…. but that didn’t seem right somehow.

So in the end, I decided to put it into the lottery, that way anyone who donated to Heifer on our team page would have a chance at winning it. That seemed fair to me, more egalitarian.

At the end of the fundraiser someone wins it, and in a surprise turn of generosity, they donate it straight back to Worldbuilders. Their one stipulation is that I auction it off next year, so it can bring in more money for Heifer next year.

2010: Stardust on the auction block.

During year three of Worldbuilders, we auctioned off all manner of things. And as the previous winner requested, we put Gaiman’s copy of the Stardust ARC up on e-bay too.

After some fierce bidding it sold for over $2500 to a lovely guy named Dan. There were many high-fives in Worldbuilders central. We were sad to see the book go, but $2500 bucks buys a lot of goats.

But when I e-mailed Dan to arrange shipping, he said he wanted to donate the book back to Worldbuilders.

I asked Dan if he was sure. He said he was sure. I asked Dan how he got to be so cool, and he said he was inspired by the story of how last year’s winner re-donated the book.

But most of the credit, he said, should go to his mom. She always made a point of donating to charity even though she never had a lot of money. Not only that, but she was a died-in-the-wool geek like the rest of us: she read fantasy and sci-fi, she played Infocom games…

From everything I’ve heard, she sounds like my kind of lady.

Dan told me she had passed away recently, and that most of the money he inherited from her went into buying this book. He thinks she would be proud and happy to know that the money will go to helping as many people as possible through Heifer.

Dan also said that he was a big Gaiman fan, and that he hoped that this whole exchange didn’t give Gaiman a complex because nobody would keep his book….

Dan’s only stipulation was that we put the book back into the general lottery next year, so anyone would be able to win it….

2011: Full circle.

As per Dan’s request, we’re not including the ARC in the Worldbuilders auctions this year. (Though we do have some other stuff in there from Gaiman and some other big-name authors, if you want to go look.)

Instead, we’re putting the book back into the general lottery, where anyone can win it:

  • A rare, numbered ARC of Stardust. Signed by Neil Gaiman.

Not much remains to be said here. It’s a beautiful book with its own slipcase. Numbered 28 out of 250. Signed by Gaiman.

You have a chance of winning it if you donate on our Team Heifer page before Feb 7th.

How much of a chance do you have of winning this book or one of the other thousands of books that have been donated to the fundraiser?

Well, funny you should ask, because today I’ve been doing a little math….

A brief discussion of odds.

Last year, I tried to calculate what the odds of winning a book from Worldbuilders would be. After careful calculation, I shamed myself by declaring that if someone donated 170 dollars to the fundraiser, they would have a better than 100% chance of winning a prize.

Specifically, they’d have a  106.25 % chance of winning something.

It was bold math, considering the fact that conventional wisdom tells us you can’t have more than 100% likelihood of anything happening.

Luckily some of my clever readers clued me in to the fact that while my math was strong, my understanding of binomial distributions was somewhat flawed.

I’d like to suggest that my carefully calculated 106.25% actually reflected the likelihood of winning a prize in any number of alternate realities, combined with the chance of having two prizes delivered to your house due to a shipping mistake at the post office.

Yeah. Not my proudest math moment. You can see the whole shameful thing over here if you’re interested.

Anyway, this year I looked up what the hell a binomial was and brought in some helpful facebook friends to check my math.

For those of you who don’t care about the numbers, here’s the non-math version:

We have so many books.

(Click to Embiggen and you can actually read the titles….)

This isn’t even all of them. This is just the books on one wall that we’ve put up on the blog. We’ve got another 100-150 books that we’ll be adding before the fundraiser is over on Feb 7th.

So let’s say you donate 20 bucks, enough to give a family a flock ducklings.

Your odds of winning something are really good. They’re like, a hajillion times better than winning the lottery. Roughly two-point-five hajillion times better.

For those of you who do like numbers, here’s the mathy version:

As of now, we’ve raised $185,000 for Heifer, and there are almost exactly 800 prizes in the fundraiser. Not just 800 books. (We’ve got way more than that.) There’s 800 prizes you can win, a lot of those prizes are sets of books, trilogies or longer series. Other prizes are limited editions, signed by the authors, or otherwise rare.

So let’s say you donate $30. That’s enough to give a family a hive of bees that will provide honey and pollinate plants, increasing the productivity of farms and gardens throughout the community.

With that $30 donation, your odds of winning at least one prize are better than 12%.

You could donate $120. That’s enough to buy a family a goat. The milk the goat produces means children have more protein and calcium in their diets, and the family can sell the extra milk as a source of income.

With that $120 donation, your odds of winning at least one prize are over 40%. Your odds of winning more than one prize are about 10%.

Let’s say you go all the way and donate $500, enough to buy a Heifer.

There’s a reason the project’s called Heifer International, you know. As their website says:

A good dairy cow can produce four gallons of milk a day – enough for a family to drink and share with neighbors. Milk protein transforms sick, malnourished children into healthy boys and girls. The sale of surplus milk earns money for school fees, medicine, clothing and home improvements.

Better still, every gift multiplies. The animal’s first offspring is passed to another family. That family also agrees to pass on an animal, and so on. Because a healthy cow can produce a calf every year, a single heifer will eventually help an entire community move from poverty to self-reliance.

If that isn’t enough for you, you should know that a $500 dollar donation gives you a 90% chance of winning some swag.

Lastly, keep in mind that if you donate on our team page before Feb 7th, Worldbuilders will match 50% of your donation. So in addition to getting good odds, and doing good work, you’re getting a good deal with a matching donation, too.

Will these odds change over time? Yeah. A little. As people donate more money, the odds will go down a bit. But we’re going to be adding new books to the fundraiser almost every day for the next week, and that will bring the odds back up.

*     *     *

Y’know, I didn’t plan on this being a long blog. My plan was to talk about Gaiman’s book, throw some odds at you, and call it an early evening.

The truth is, the Worldbuilders is a lot of work on this end, and I’ve been close to burning out. But looking at these pictures and talking about the good work that Heifer does… it’s actually made me excited about the fundraiser again.

Here are some kids in Romania that are growing up happier and healthier because of Heifer. You and me, we’re actually helping make this happen.

How cool is that?

We’ve got a little more than a week left, and I still have books to show you. We have a few more auctions to run, too.

Right now, if you really want to help, the best thing you can do is help spread the word. Talk to your friends. Drop your parents an e-mail. Point people toward the main Worldbuilders blog so they can see all the books that authors and publishers have donated.

Facebook it. Tweet it. Tell that cute hippy boy/girl in the coffee shop about it. You’ve been looking for an excuse to talk to them anyway, and this will make a great conversation starter….

We’ve got a week left, let’s go out with a bang.

pat

P.S. Some of our auctions will be ending soon. You might want to check them out before they’re finished.

Also posted in fan coolness, Worldbuilders 2011 | By Pat36 Responses

Photo Contest: Prelude

So for a while now, I’ve been sifting through all the photos that people submitted to the contest. More than a thousand photos in all.

Needless to say, it’s been taking a lot longer than I expected.

It’s not just that life seems determined to get in the way. Neither is it the fact that there are more photos than I expected, or that so many of them are clever. It’s not even that so many of them were so obviously taken as an act of love. (And I mean that literally in some cases.)

The real problem is that so many of the pictures are really good.

While I’ve been sifting through them, organizing them into categories, and trying to winnow some of them out. I keep thinking of what happened last year when I went to Neil Gaiman’s House on the Rock shindig on Halloween.

He had a costume contest there, American Gods themed. And the winners were going to get to ride the carousel. Yeah. The carousel that nobody gets to ride.

Needless to say, the competition was fierce. Of the thousand or so people that attended, I’m guessing almost half dressed up.

(One of these days I’ll get around to telling the whole story of that day, the story of how I got to ride the carousel with Gaiman, but for now I’m just going to tell a tiny piece of the story.)

Anyway, the vast array of costumes paraded in front of Gaiman. The line went on and on. The outfits were clever and funny and elaborate.

And, more than anything, they were acts of love.

It goes on for hours. Sexy costumes, smart costumes, detailed costumes. Then, eventually, after everyone has had their turn in the spotlight, Gaiman goes up to the microphone, shaking his head.

“I hate you all,” he said.

He gets a big laugh, because he has enough charisma to pull off a line line that and make it charming.

He explains that he was expecting maybe a hundred costumes. He said he thought it would be fairly simple to weed out the rubbish ones, and pick the good ones as winners. (I specifically remember that he said “rubbish,” because that’s a word you can only really get away with if you’re British.)

There were too many good costumes, he complained, and he only got to let 8 people on the carousel. There could only be 8 winners.

Then he settled down to the hard job of picking the winners.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot these last couple weeks as I look through all the photos that were sent in for the contest. Honestly, I’m amazed at the lengths people went to for some of their pictures.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know that you’ll start seeing the results of the contest soon.

Soon….

pat

Also posted in contests, fan coolness, Photo Contest 2011 | By Pat31 Responses
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