A while back, the some folks contacted me and asked if I’d like to talk about monsters and stories and mythology and stuff for a show they were putting together for the History Channel.
(I’m paraphrasing, of course.)
It wasn’t a hard decision. I’m all about talking about stories and mythology. Stuff is right up my alley, too.
And… Ah… who are we kidding? I just like to talk. If I didn’t have access to the internet, I’d constantly be pulling Ancient Mariner bullshit on people.
Anyway, the first episode went up last week Friday. Here’s a little teaser.
You can watch the entire episode right here. Brandon Sanderson is there too, better dressed and more articulate than me.
Before you rush over there and get your hopes up, I’m not in much of the episode. Part of this is because I didn’t have much to say about things like the Jersey Devil or Hel (The Norse Hel).
But a contributing factor is the fact that I have trouble talking in soundbites. Anyone who has seen me on panels at conventions knows this. When I’m asked a question, your best case scenario is that I’m going to talk a paragraph at you. More often my answer will probably be a little story of its own with its own distinct narrative arc. It’s the only way I really know how to talk. That doesn’t translate well onto camera.
Also, I was so impressed with how shiny my name was that I wore this expression all the way through the interview.
Seriously though, I spent most of my interview telling stories, making jokes, and cussing with extravagant flamboyance. Which, in retrospect, probably wasn’t what they were looking for. Though I do remember getting good laughs off the camera crew…
There are going to be 3 more episodes. I’m particularly curious about how #3 turned out: Gods and Monsters. I remember talking at some length about Loki fucking a horse. Which… now that I’m thinking of it… they might not put that in the episode either.
Anyway, here’s the schedule:
Cannibals and Killers – Friday, October 16th, 2015 at 10pm EST / 9pm CST
Gods and Monsters – Friday, October 23rd, 2015 at 10pm EST / 9pm CST
Giants and Beasts – Friday, October 30th, 2015 at 10pm EST / 9pm CST
You could make a drinking game out of it. Every time they put me on the screen – take a drink. Every time I give a Midwestern pause in the middle of a statement – two drinks. Every time I laugh at one of my own jokes – three drinks. Every time they have to bleep me – do a shot.
Edit: If you’re still hoping to get a manuscript critique, there’s a WriMos for Worldbuilders page with some available in a special lottery this year that you should really check out…
As I write this, Worldbuilders has raised more than $92,000 for Heifer International.
So here’s a video. I could claim I’m posting it because it explains what we’re doing here at Worldbuilders, but that would be a lie. I’m posting it because my kids are in it, and my kids are seriously adorable.
Or you can check out the Read-And-Critique auctions below….
* * *
Today we’re auctioning off professional manuscript critiques from authors, editors, and agents.
This is an exceptionally rare opportunity. Authors occasionally read a manuscript for a friend, or do a quick critique at a convention. But if you want this sort of professional attention you usually have to attend a pretty serious workshop, like Clarion. Or you have to be a student at one of the rare universities that takes sci-fi and fantasy seriously enough to bring in a professional to teach a class.
You’ll notice that I personally don’t have a critique in today’s blog. That’s because if you win the favor auction I’m running, you can cash in that favor for a read-and-critique. Any manuscript. Any size. I’ll read the whole thing, mark it up, then call you on the phone and talk about it with you.
Now, before I list all the read-and-critique auctions, I’m going to have to put on my Dad Voice: a voice which contains all the baritone authority of my teacher voice, with an added subharmonic that implies if you screw this up, I’m going to be *really* disappointed in you.
“Please read the auction descriptions carefully.”
Each author, editor, or agent is handling their auction in their own way…
Everyone has different skill sets, and they’re each offering something slightly different.
Some critiques are for 15,000 words of a manuscript, others are for 150,000 words.
The professionals below are busy people. Critiques will have to fit in their schedules.
When auctions mention “X pages” of a manuscript, that’s standard manuscript format.
Most importantly, you’re not buying an introduction to someone’s agent or editor here. You’re not winning representation with an agent. Or a foot in the door with an editor. That’s not what’s on the block. You’re getting writing advice from a professional.
Okay. Enough preamble. Let’s move on to the awesome….
Jaime Lee Moyer is a speculative fiction writer, poet, and editor. She’s been offering up a read-and-critique with us for years, and we’re thrilled to have her back. She’s willing to comment on plot, pacing, character arc, voice, how well the “hook” or opening works, how well the story sustains her interest, and give overall, general impressions of the story. This will seriously help your story.
We’re always really grateful when people offer critiques that include feedback of the query letter and synopsis too. Because honestly, my lack of ability to write a decent query letter probably slowed down publication of The Name of the Wind by two years.
That’s what Cassie is offering here: a full critique includes your query letter, synopsis, and the first 15,000 words of your manuscript.
Here’s what a previous auction winner said of her critique:
“It was definitely worth it, and was probably the thing that’s helped with my writing the most. You were hard hitting on points that needed to be said, but still really supportive and complimented the things I did right. People couldn’t ask for a better person to critique their work.”
Jennifer has been a literary agent since 2011, and is offering up a critique of your query letter, synopsis, and the first 15,000 words of your manuscript. She’s helped us out a in the past, and as an agent, she’s seen a *lot* of these, and has some valuable experience to share.
David Pomerico will give a critique and commentary of the first 50 pages of your manuscript.
David has been throwing his hat into the ring for these auctions for years, and is now the Executive Editor at Harper Voyager. He’s worked with some big names, including some New York Times bestsellers. (If you want more details, check out his auction listing).
He’s willing to read and give a detailed critique of the first 50 pages of your manuscript. You can head over here and bid.
Josh is a fellow DAW author, and he’s kicked in critiques in the past. This year, he’s willing to read the first 100 pages of your novel and give you detailed notes and a general evaluation of the opening as well.
Not everybody writes novels. So Josh is offering up a read-and-critique of your short story. It will including a general evaluation of the story as well as some detailed notes and comments.
If you’ve got a short story, this is the guy for you. Bid on this critique over here.
Michael Braff will read and critique the first 50 pages of your manuscript.
Michael is an editor at Del Rey, and has been for six years. He’s thrown in his critiques more than once in the past, and we’re happy to have him on board again. He’s willing to give a detailed critique and commentary of the first 50 pages of your manuscript, rounded up to the nearest chapter, which is generous.
Michael Martinez will critique up to 25,000 words of your SF/F novel or shorter work.
Michael Martinez is an author, and is willing to read up to 25,000 words of any sci-fi or fantasy work you bring to him. He’ll give you an overall opinion, his thoughts on individual sections, and ideas on direction and ways to improve. He’s said that he’s happy to engage in a dialogue with you, which is definitely worth something.
David B. Coe will critique up to 15,000 words of your manuscript.
David B. Coe (also known as D.B. Jackson) is willing to critique some short fiction or the early chapters of your novel. He’s a prolific writer (he has 3 books coming out in 2015 alone), and he’s supported Worldbuilders for a good long time, so we really like him.
Bradley P. Beaulieu graciously offered one story or chapter critique of up to 10,000 words. Brad’s offered critiques in the past, and everyone at Worldbuilders was glad to see him back again for more. Apart from writing a ridiculous amount of epic fantasy, Brad also kicked in a stretch goal last year, because he’s cool like that.
If you would like to bask in the coolness, by all means bid over here.
Michael R. Underwood will critique your submission packet AND have a Skype consultation on the feedback.
Mike writes a lot about geekiness, which is always a bonus in our book. This year, he’s willing to critique your query letter, synopsis, and the first 10,000 words of your manuscript. He will then have a Skype conversation with you to discuss the feedback, which we think is extra cool.
Matt Bialer, my agent, will read up to 20,000 words of your manuscript.
Matt kicks in this critique every year. And my book would not be as good as it is today without him and his help.
He’s offering up a general evaluation of the book, with the perspective of the issues that could be raised by editors at publishing houses. It’s a really great perspective to have.
Matt also managed to jump in with us this morning, so his auction will be live later tonight. You’ll be able to bid on this one over here as soon as it’s live.
Worldbuilders Monkey Brett will read and critique your manuscript.
Brett has been one of my longest standing friends and readers. He’s given me invaluable feedback on all my books, Name of the Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear, and The Slow Regard of Silent Things.
What’s more, he’s a great writer in his own right. Not only is he currently the voice behind a lot of the Worldbuilders website content and auction descriptions, he’s done webcomic work, amusing movie reviews, and plenty of longer-form horror fiction. He also has a brilliant novel waiting in the wings that I keep pestering him to publish, too….
Suffice to say, he does great critique. If you want to get his advice on your work, bid here.
* * *
Lastly, a success story.
Back in 2010, Gabriel Squailia won a read and critique in a Worldbuilders auction. He got it from my agent, Matt Bialer, and Matt was impressed enough to offer to represent Gabriel.
In spring of 2015, Gabriel’s first book is going to be published.
We here at Worldbuilders think this is pretty awesome.
Now let me say it again. We’re not in any way claiming that this sort of thing will happen if you win one of the auctions. You’re buying a critique, and that’s it. Even so, this is proof that these critiques can lead to good things. It could happen. It has happened.
Hey there everybody. We’ve got an announcement to make… but we figured we’d do it in video format.
That’s right. It’s almost time for Worldbuilders.
This year’s fundraiser and Carnival of Delights will be November 10th through December 8th.
You’ll note two differences from last year.
1. We’re starting earlier.
Those of you who have been around since the beginning might remember that Worldbuilders was originally a November event. But over the years, as I became increasingly busy and decreasingly organized, the fundraiser slowly got pushed back a little at at time until it wasn’t even starting until December.
In some ways this was nice, as people tend to feel generous around the holidays.
But the downside is that everyone tends to be insanely *busy* around the holidays, too. Students have end-of-semester chaos. Parents have holiday shopping. Most everyone has some sort of family gathering. All of that means it’s really hard to get people’s attention.
Luckily, now I have the Worldbuilders team.
(Not pictured: the monkey who took the shot, Brett)
Not only are they handling more and more of the heavy lifting of the fundraiser themselves, but they’re delightfully well-organized.
So this year, we’re getting back to our roots and moving the fundraiser a little earlier.
2. The fundraiser is going to be faster.
Last year’s Worldbuilders was a huge success. We raised more than 700,000 dollars for Heifer International.
However, the fundraiser itself went from December 3 to February 4. It was nine weeks long.
Not only was it like running a marathon, but it overlapped the holidays. That made it hard to keep the momentum of the fundraiser going while at the same time making me feel like an absolute scrooge of a boss.
It occurred to me that the length of the fundraiser was mostly a holdover from when I was organizing things myself. Which is to say I was mostly *not* organizing them. These days the Worldbuilders team is a well-oiled machine. They have meetings and timetables. They use a calendar and everything. Seeing them using these revolutionary tools, I realized we really didn’t have a *reason* for the fundraiser to run as long as it has been….
So earlier this year, we tried an experiment. We ran an Indigogo campaign for one week to see if we could make a short fundraiser work.
So this year we’re going to keep it short and sweet. Or at least shorter and sweet. It’s going to be like an avalanche of awesome. We’ll be posting up new stuff pretty much every day.
So stay tuned, lest you miss something.
Why yes. We’d love some donations. Thanks so much for asking.
We’ve had books, games, and cool ephemera coming in for a couple months now. But this is your fair warning: since we’re doing a more compact fundraiser this year, we need things to arrive by the middle of November if we’re going to make good use of them.
If you have something you want to kick in, like geeky memorabilia, or signed books, or you should email us at donations [at] worldbuilders.org.
If you’re a member of the geek glitterati who wants make a donation or help us spread the word by doing an act of whimsy, email us at donations [at] worldbuilders.org.
If you have an idea for an author or other cool person you think would be a good addition to our fundraiser but you’ve never seen featured here, maybe drop them a line and ask them to email us at (you guessed it) donations [at] worldbuilders.org.
Volunteer and Other Offers of Help
I’m well aware that some of you would love to help with the fundraiser, but cash is hard to come by. No worries. I understand completely. I’ve spent most of my life in that position.
What can you do to help other than chip in money when the time comes? Well….
If you live in central Wisconsin, you could stop by Worldbuilders HQ and help us work our magic. We have a lot of work and never as many hands as we’d like, so we’re always looking for volunteers to help out around the store. Email us at volunteers [at] worldbuilders.org
If for some bizarre reason you don’t live in Wisconsin, you could start planning an act of whimsy of your own for when the fundraiser starts. We’re encouraging everyone to play this year.
Run a blog? Write for a paper? Are you huge on Facebook, Twitter, Ello? We love it when people help us spread the word. So start warming up your click fingers.
If you’d like to do an interview or set up some type of more formal press or event with the Worldbuilders team. Drop us a line at Questions [at] worldbuilders.org.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more tour announcements and other sundry things.
Brace yourselves, folks, together we’re going to change the world.
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.
Over the years, I’ve been described as the next Tolkien, the next Scott Lynch, the next George Martin…. And while it’s flattering, I’d really rather be the first Pat Rothfuss. I have much more experience being that.
Now that I post up these three links, I realize they’re all lists of some sort. Which makes me feel kinda awful. My only saving grace is that I didn’t find these by clicking through horrible clickbait websites. (You’ll never believe what these authors did! Number 5 will surprise you!)
Speaking of, have you seen The Onion’s new parody site? Clickhole?
I laughed my ass off at the original episode, but the game was edited down considerably to get it to be 35 minutes long.
If you were ever curious to see how the whole thing played out in detail. If you ever wanted more owlbear jokes. If you ever wanted to watch my terrifying strategy unfold like a delicate flower made entirely of razor wire and the screams of angels….
So I was at C2E2 last weekend, walking around the main hall with a friend, nodding and occationally fist-bumping readers who recognised me. (Too much hand-shaking leads to contagion at a convention.)
Eventually my friend asked, “What’s this Acquisiations Incorporated video people keep talking about?”
“I did a D&D thing with the guys from Penny Arcade and PVP last year,” I said. “We played a game at PAX Prime on stage. They taped it and put it online.”
“Why didn’t you put it up on your blog?” she said.
“I did,” I said.
“I’m pretty sure you didn’t,” she said.
I started to insist that I had, because I *remembered* doing it. I had a blast playing with them, and I even got Nate to do up some art for that blog post:
But then I closed my mouth because over the last two years I’ve come to realize that I *intend* to write about a lot of stuff on the blog. But in reality, I don’t actually get around to finishing about 80% of the blogs I mean to.
Right now, for example, I have over 200 blogs that are in their “Draft” form here on WordPress. I am the king of broken promises.
In my opinion, a lot of these are even better than what happens later in the video. The video is about 2 hours, but the podcasts all together are 4-5 hours of solid geeky fun. I’ve been role playing for more than 25 years at this point, and Mike, Jerry, and Scott are the best sort of folks to tabletop with. So funny and quick on their feet. And Chris Perkins as DM is absolutely brilliant….
For those of you who aren’t into the whole podcast thing, here’s a vastly abridged, somewhat bowdlerized animated version of the podcast.
And here’s the video of the PAX game itself.
[Warning: I sing.]
If you want to see *all* the delightful, shiny geekery, you can head over to the D&D website. Acquisitions Inc has been going strong for several seasons, and it’s all archived over there. So there’s plenty to keep you busy until May 15th when the next episode of Nightvale comes out….