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Category Archives: Worldbuilders

Humble Bundle: Fantastic Fiction

Hey everyone,

Thanks for a successful Q&A a couple of weeks ago. I had a surprisingly good time on the livestream, with more than 3500 people watching at one point, which beats my previous best livestream by a factor of three.

For those of you who don’t have any real desire to watch a video where I talk almost non-stop for over two hours, (and I can’t blame you, really) I’ll mention that I made an announcement at the end of the session. Specifically, that we’ll be releasing a 10th Anniversary Edition of The Name of the Wind later this year. If you really want more details, well…. *glances up at link to the video.*

I’ll do an official blog about that at some point in the future. Hopefully showing off the new cover and talking in more detail about what will be included in the edition. But that’s probably down the road a bit. Today, I thought I’d let you know about two other things.

  • The Activism Primer.

I wrote a blog about a week ago about how a few members of the Worldbuilders Team were dealing with the current political climate. At the end of the blog, I mentioned that I’d been thinking of putting together a newsletter for people who want to stay informed and/or learn how to engage in effective activism.

Problem was, I didn’t know if that’s something people really wanted, so I put up a google form, and… well… And as of right now about 2100 folks have signed up. So it looks like I’ll be putting a team together to make that happen.

  • A new Humble Bundle.

Good news! Humble Bundle and Subterranean Press have teamed up again to offer some cool books in return for a donation to charity, and they’ve selected Worldbuilders as the charity of choice.

SubPress_BlogImage

For those of you who don’t know, Humble Bundle lets you pay what you want for a bunch of cool DRM-Free books. The more money you donate, the more books you get. And if you donate over 15 bucks, you ALL the books in the bundle.

And this is good stuff too. Books by Jim Butcher, Tim Powers, Mira Grant and Kevin Hearn. Not to mention plucky up-and-comers like John Scalzi and Clive Barker….

If that’s not enough for you, well don’t fret. They’ll be adding even more books in a couple days, so the bundle will only get better.

Perhaps coolest of all, as with all the Humble Bundles, you’re able to decide exactly where where your money goes. For example:

25_wb and subpress equal

Or, for another example:

25_wb awesome

I don’t know about you, but that sort of freedom of choice delights me. It’s one of the things I love most about Humble Bundle.

And if these books aren’t enough to slake your terrible thirst for cool geekery, Worldbuilders is now one of their official registered charities, so you can support us in the Humble Store.

Support Worldbuilders Humble Store

They’ve got a ton of games and other cool things in there if you want to wander around a take a look.

There are lots of ways to help out and get cool stuff in return, but be careful. The Subterranean Press bundle will end on March 1st at 11am Pacific Time.

See you later Space Cowboys…

pat

Also posted in Subterranean Press | By Pat6 Responses

Being a Trouper

Hey there everybody,

I’d meant to post a fun blog earlier this week. I had a couple cued up and almost ready. One was full of Kingkiller tattoos I’ve seen over the last year, another was pictures of babies that have been named after characters from my books. The one I *really* wanted to post involved the story of how I snuck some underage chicks into Max Temkin’s hotel room at Gencon.

41f23fed1b92a824ced03db71d8b4a9c(Like this. You pervert.)

But, as everyone knows, the election happened. Anyone who watched my election-night twitch stream might have an inkling of how I felt about that. And those of you who didn’t watch it can still probably guess.

And I’m guessing a lot of you feel the same way.

Interesting fact for those of you who feel shattered about the results: What you’re feeling now? That’s what a depressive episode feels like. At least it does to me. The pisser about depression is that you can feel desolate hopeless dread of exactly this sort even when nothing bad has happened.

Anyway, as a result, I couldn’t bring myself to finish a fun blog earlier this week. In fact, I’m not in the mood to write a blog now, either. I’ve been writing this thing for TWO HOURS and this is as far as I’ve gotten. It’s like trying to walk with a broken leg.

How the hell am I supposed to feel hopeful right now? How am I supposed to launch this year’s fundraiser and be enthusiastic about the cool news I have to share? I feel like everything is crumbling.

Earlier today, I found myself wondering what Auri would do in this situation. Well… that’s not actually true. Maybe it’s more that I wish I could ask for her advice? I wish she could just… help me. Like maybe she could give me a seashell or something and I would put it in my pocket and then I’d feel a little better.

Hell. You know you’re not doing well when you wish a fictional character would help you out. What the fuck does it even mean that I want help from the person who is arguably the most broken of all my characters? Is this it? Am I finally having a nervous breakdown?

No. I’m not. I’m depressingly sane.

Maybe it’s that Auri never lets it get to her. Not really. Not deep down. She’s a fighter, and despite everything, she always has a tiny flame of joy burning inside her. We’re very different in that regard.

I keep thinking of this picture and I don’t know why….

a-and-e-brazen

One of the things I share with Auri is that we both want to fix the world. Maybe that’s why I wish she could give me some advice. I can’t see a way to fix things right now. I am all unkilter.

Shit. I’m doing an awful job of this. I should just erase everything I’ve written and start over, but that would feel dishonest. I don’t want to lie to y’all. I don’t want to pretend I have my shit together. I don’t. I’m not doing great right now.

But still, I have some news to share. And it can’t wait.

Today I heard someone say, “We have to soldier on” and while I appreciate the sentiment, I don’t think there’s any way I can think of myself as a soldier.

I’ll be a trouper instead. How about that? The show must go on, right?

Okay, I’m taking a mulligan and starting over. Ready?

*     *    *

Hey there everybody,

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably know that this is the time of year when we do our big annual Worldubuilders fundraiser.

Last year we raised over 1.2 million dollars for Heifer International. We sent little girls to school in Nepal and fed hungry kids in Haiti. We gave people clean water and education. Medicine and self-reliance. The work we do literally brings light into the lives of people all over the world.

And no, I’m not misusing the word “literally” there. One of the many things Heifer does is teache people to make biogas digesters.

biogas-diagram-990x1024This miraculous contraption turns animal waste into fertilizer and methane. Then families can use that methane as a clean, cheap source of light and heat. Cooking over gas is much safer and easier than using a cookfire. That’s a big deal in parts of the world where electricity is expensive or straight-up unavailable.

It’s like real-life alchemy, folks. Heifer teaches people to turn shit into gold.

Over the last 8 years Worldbuilders has raised more than $5,000,000 to make things better all over the world, in Ukraine and Uganda. From Peru to Appalachia.

This year’s fundraiser is launching Monday, and we’ve got some big news. News I’ve been sitting on for months. And despite the fact that I’m a tease of epic proportions, I’m actually going to tell y’all that news today.

1. Story time with Neil Gaiman.

Two years ago, Neil Gaiman red us Green Eggs and Ham. While last year people who donated got to vote on what Gaiman would read. Jabberwocky beat out Where the Wild Things Are and Goodnight Moon, so he shot a video of himself reciting it from memory to help us spread the word about the fundraiser.

If y’all had any thoughts about what would be fun for him to read this year, I’d love to hear them in the comments below. Personally, I think The Monster at the End of This Book would be great. I’d love to hear him do Grover’s voice.

2. More livestreaming on Twitch.

Last year, I experimented with livestreaming on twitch to help spread the word about the fundraiser and it worked surprisingly well. So this year, not only will I be streaming again, but Worldbuilders is reaching out to the streaming community in general, and providing tools so that you can do fundraising for us on your own stream.

If you’re a streamer and you’d like to help out Worldbuidlers, contact us at twitchteams@worldbuilders.org and we’ll work with you to make that happen.

And now the big one….

3. A Million Dollars of Matching Money

This year, with Heifer’s help, Worldbuilders has access to a million dollars worth of matching money.

That means that if you come in and donate $10 to Worldbuilders, this anonymous benefactor will double that money, turning it into $20. You donate enough for a goat? It becomes two goats…

dollar-panarama-704155

This is a HUGE deal. And it means we have the chance to absolutely destroy last year’s totals.

I mention this to y’all in advance with the hope that you might be are willing to come in swinging in the early days of the fundraiser. If we manage to get some good donations early on, then double them, I’m hoping the total will be impressive enough that we can get some coverage in the media. That means people will find out about worldbuilders who otherwise would never have noticed it.

If that happens…. well… it means we get to feed a *lot* of hungry kids.

And that’s what I’m really in the mood to do right now.

If you have any suggestions for the upcoming fundraiser, or if you have a clever way of helping us spread the word, please drop those in the comments below, too.

Thanks much.

Take care of each other,

pat

Also posted in Acts of Whimsy, calling on the legions, cool news, Uncategorized | By Pat107 Responses

Geeks Doing Good: Foxen Nightlight, Draccus Plushy, and BatManda

Hey there everyone. As I write this, our Geeks Doing Good Fundraiser has been running for about four days, and we’ve raised about $97,000 so far to make the world a better place.

However Because we only go for a week, this means the fundraiser is more than halfway over. It’s ending on Monday, June 13th.

That means if you want to jump in and buy some of our book or game bundles, you better do it soon. Ditto if you’d like to help us spread the word to your geeky friends and family.

Today I’m going to show off some of the things that we added late to the fundraiser, or that we just haven’t put pictures of up in the blog yet.

For example:

  • Cloaks

This is something people have been asking for for years, so we’re finally giving it a try. These come in two different sizes, but they both have a bunch of little pockets, and that’s the important thing.

cloak

Also, I would like to add, that when I added this picture to the blog, I discovered it was called BatManda.

  • Terri Windling Prints

 

dryad

(Click to embiggen, really)

I love Terri‘s art, and she was nice enough to send us some of her signed prints for the charity. These are hard to get ahold of, and we only have a few. So if you want some of this beautiful art in your home, you should grab one over there.

  • Foxen Nightlight

Foxen Nightlight Replica 8-1280

If you see this Foxen nightlight and haven’t immediately wanted it, I cannot help you find joy in life, because you don’t have the physical capability.

  • Secret Cubby Books

CubbyBook

The same is true for these cubby books. You absolutely need this thing in your life.

  • A Freaking Puzzle

puzzle

It’s so cool. The art for this is by Matt Rhodes (concept artist for Dragon Age: Inquisition), and we thought it made an awesome puzzle. It’s our first foray into puzzles, though, so if that’s something you’re into, check it out.

  • So Many T-Shirts

We’ve got all manner of shirts this year….

Shirt_RatQueens

There’s a shirt from Rat Queens, a comic I love with a fierce love. I’m so glad they were willing to come in and help out the fundraiser.

parkour_shirt

We’re teaming up with Jim Butcher again on another Dresden Files shirt, this one all about PARKOUR!

Shirt_Ademic

A new shirt from Temerant. Fair Warning: this one will be available ONLY during this fundraiser – after Monday, you won’t be able to get your grubby little paws on it ever again.

Shirt_WB

And for those of you who have been asking for a Worldbuilders shirt, here you go. A nice, subtle way to wave your geek flag and show the world that you’re an awesome, generous, kindhearted person to boot.

Note: If you order three shirts, in the Indigogo fundraiser, you save ten bucks….

  • Eolian Mugs & Coffee

CoffeeAndMug

These stoneware mugs are made right here in Wisconsin, but they look like something you might find at the Eolian. It’s a 22 oz. mug that can hold enough of your beverage of choice to get you through the day. And if your beverage of choice happens to be coffee…

We have three coffee blends: the standard Imre blend, a dark Tarbean blend, and an exotic Tinuë blend. The Worldbuilders team loves the coffee shop we worked with, and spent some quality time with the blends to make sure they matched the cities in the series. I know, I ask so much of my team, making them drink coffee.

  • Doodled Slow Regards

DoodledSlowRegard

Last year, we asked Nate Taylor to draw in a few copies of The Slow Regard of Silent Things. We figured he’d do some quick sketches or fun doodles, something small but unique. As usual, Nate went above and beyond, this time with full-blown ink illustrations. We asked him to illustrate a few more books for us this year, so we have 10 remarqued Slow Regards available, and they’re already starting to go…

  • Doodled Princess Books

DoubleSignedPrincess

The last time Nate was in town, I dug through our vault and brought out some of the long-gone first edition/first printings of the first Princess book, and had Nate doodle in some of them. We’ve got five of those available now, each one with a different character doodle. The first editions are rare enough as it is, but one that’s double-signed and doodled is a rare treat.

  • Jonathan Coulton Picture Book

PrincessWSHCoverWe’re bringing this picture book based on Johnathan Coulton’s song back into print. My kids love it, and even if you don’t have kids, I’m guessing you’ll love it too….

  • Perfumes and Soap.

FragranceAndSoapMockup

In case you’re wondering, everyone agrees that Bast smells wonderful….

  • Draccus Plushy.

DraccusPrototype3

What’s almost as cute as the plushy itself is watching Amanda lose her mind over how much she loves it in this outtake reel…

Okay. I’ll stop there. That’s all I’m going to put in the blog, but you should know that just *some* of the stuff we have up in the IndiGogo. There’s book bundles too. And the chance to buy a *ton* of games super cheap.

If you want to see the rest of the stuff, it’s all over here.

And if there’s anything you have questions about, be sure to hit us up in the comments or via email at fundraiser (at) worldbuilders.org. The team is working hard to answer them, and the fundraiser only has a few days left, so you don’t want to miss out.

Thanks for chipping in, folks. Thanks for spreading the word and helping to make the world a better place.

pat

Also posted in cool things, Geeks Doing Good | By Pat15 Responses

Geeks Doing Good: A Birthday Coup

Hey guys. Amanda here hijacking the blog again.

See, I think it’s time we start a little coup here. I’m forcing my way into the blog via hotel wifi for what I think you’ll all agree is a very good reason: Pat’s birthday.

See, Pat doesn’t want to talk about it, and he’d definitely never tell you about it himself. It’s just not his way. But Pat is very important to me, and I want him to have an excellent birthday. One where he gets exactly what he wants out of the day.

What he really wants, more than anything, is to have an exceptional fundraiser. He loves watching everyone come together over the common love for geekery and charity. He loves watching this thing he started in his living room grow and evolve into something amazing.

We’re launching our Geeks Doing Good charity fundraiser today, and we’re all really excited about it, especially Pat.

geeks doing good dates

Pat was going to wait until tomorrow or Wednesday to write a blog about it. He was going to skim right over the fact that it was his birthday, and that he spent the entire day travelling home from Phoenix Comicon.

Since he’s going to be so busy today, I think the best thing we can do for him is overwhelm him with how awesome the fundraiser is doing.

There’s something in it for you, beyond giving Pat an awesome birthday surprise. We have so many cool things that I’m about to go broke buying from our own fundraiser. Just look at all of the awesome.

  • A Draccus Plushie

DraccusEvolution

Everyone here at Worldbuilders HQ is pretty obsessed with this little guy, but none so much as me. Every time I look at him I get distracted. I giggle, and say “look at ‘im!” for entirely too long before I can move on.

He’s going to be $30, and I love him.

  • So many new t-shirts

So-Many-Tees

There’s the shirt from Sam Sykes with probably the best writing advice ever. He tweeted it to Pat, and when Pat demanded one on a t-shirt, Jeff one of the Worldbuilders Team, made it for him. Pat and Sam both loved it, and so did a lot of other people, so we’re doing as we’ve been asked and selling them.

We’re teaming up with Rat Queens on a shirt, which everyone in the office is excited about, but especially Pat. We’re bringing back a design they used to have, but has been sold out for a long time.

Jim Butcher agreed to do another Dresden Files shirt with us, this time depicting a certain Warden keeping busy and practicing his PARKOUR!!

And those are just shirts we’ve teamed up with other folks for. Our more traditional fare includes the much-requested Worldbuilders t-shirt, and a convenient chart of Ademic emoji to bring with you wherever you go. The Ademic Emoji shirt is a fundraiser exclusive, so if you want one, you should hop on that train now, before it’s too late.

  • Text-based wearables

Pat teased that we’re doing another shirt with Litographs, but the art wasn’t finalized yet. It is now, and guys…this shirt is wonderful.

Litographs

In addition to the t-shirt, it’s going to be on a tote bag (which Brett talks about pretty eloquently in the launch video).

Plus, the fine folks over at Storiarts have printed select text of Name of the Wind onto gloves.

Gloves

They’re beautiful, comfortable, and the perfect thing to wear for a long evening of writing.

  • Things to make you smell good

FragranceAndSoapMockup2

Last year we debuted Auri’s Most Perfect Soap in the fundraiser, and this year we’ve worked with Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs to bring you the other soap mentioned in Slow Regard: Auri’s Sunny Summer Soap. According to Auri, it smells like sunlight, summer, and cinnas fruit, and even though those are ephemeral (and in one case completely made up) concepts, Black Phoenix absolutely nailed it.

While they were working on this scent, they sent over some samples of perfumes based on characters from the books. The smells of Bast, Kvothe, and Denna were not things I had expected to experience in my life, but they’re truly wonderful. You can get one, or you can get a 3 pack, which has been discounted to save you some money.

  • An actual children’s book

PrincessWhoSaved

For those of you who’ve read The Adventures of the Princess and Mr Whiffle books, you know that they’re not really for kids. The good news is that we’ve teamed up with Jonathan Coulton and Greg Pak to bring you a much better book to share with the wee ones in your life.

The Princess Who Saved Herself is based off one of Jonathan Coulton’s songs, and it’s a wonderful story. Parents and non-parents here love it, and it sends a really awesome message. It was originally printed for a Kickstarter campaign, and we’re helping bring it to a wider audience and get this book into as many hands as we can.

If you have a tiny human in your life, you should really consider picking this up.

  • So much other awesome stuff

SoMuchMore

We can’t begin to cover all of it here, but there’s a lot. You can get randomly-written-in copies of Name of the Wind. You can get Coffee from Imre, Tarbean, and Tinue. You can get Vintish Court Rings with YOUR NAME on them. The perks go on, and we’ll be adding more throughout the week.

As in years past, for those of you looking to participate who don’t have a credit card, shoot us an email at fundraiser(@)worldbuilders.org. We’ll help you figure something out, and make sure you’re able to participate as much as you want to.

See if something piques your interest. We have a little bit of something for everyone in this year’s fundraiser, and I think it’s our best yet.

And maybe leave a little bit of love here, or on the campaign page, for Pat on his birthday. He loves you all, and I think he’s going to love seeing the campaign off to a good start when he gets home late tonight.

Thanks guys,

Amanda

Also posted in cool things, Geeks Doing Good | By Amanda36 Responses

Foreshadowing: Geeks Doing Good

So for the last two years, we’ve run a summer fundraiser for Worldbuilders called Geeks Doing Good. It tends to happen near the begining of June, and it only lasts for a week.

*Because* it only lasts for a week, it can be easy to miss. So today I thought I’d throw y’all a heads-up about it launching next week.

geeks doing good dates

It’s especially important for me to give y’all some advance notice this year, as I’m going to be traveling back from Phoenix ComicCon with my family on the 6th, so I won’t be able to make a lot of noise about the festivities here on the blog until Tuesday or Wednesday.

For those of you who are new to it, Geeks Doing Good is an opportunity for Worldbuilders to experiment with some new merchandise and team up with cool people like Jim Butcher (like we did last year, and are again this year). We also sell unique experiences that might not be right for everyone, but are *perfect* for others (like the chance to go on the JoCo Cruise, or play games with authors or members of the Worldbuilders team at Gencon).

So yeah. Today I’m gonna give a little taste of what’s to come so you’re more likely to jump on board and/or help us spread the word when we pull the trigger on this next week.

Here’s a tiny piece of what’s on the docket:

  • So Many Shirts

As of right now, we’ve got a confirmed shirt with Jim Butcher, Sam Sykes, Kurtis Wiebe (of Rat Queens) and me. Also, because people have been asking for it, we’re going to do a brand-new Worldbuilders t-shirt, too.

Tee-ser

You can grab any of these, or pick up a t-shirt 3 pack and get a discount while picking a few of your favorite designs. (Or get three of the same shirt. Or get two of one shirt and one of another. Or whatever. What I’m saying here is that you have a lot of options. We’re giving you options.)

We’ll also have a new shirt from Litographs, this one inspired by The Name of the Wind. We can’t show you the art quite yet, but it’s a beautiful thing to behold.

  • A New Hoodie

Black_Ivare_Enim_Pullover

After how much everyone loved the Eolian hoodie last year, we figured we should do another one. This one is a pull-over, rather than a zip-up, to really show off Sarah Hartwick‘s “Ivare Enim Euge” design.

  • Bumper Stickers

Folks have been asking for a way to show off their Worldbuilders pride, so we took a suggestion from the crowd and produced a few different Worldbuilders Bumper Stickers.

unnamed

(I’m the one that suggested “Totes M’Goats”)

  • Many, Many Other Things

There will be other items familiar to those of you who have seen our prior fundraiser: Digital perks, game bundles, custom jewelry, cool books, and even a cabin on the JoCo Cruise.

I’d show you pictures of all the products if I could, but I know it’s better to wait until we actually launch the fundraiser. So instead, here’s a teaser collage. Clever viewers of the sort that like to dig though my books for clues will probably be able to make some educated guesses about what a lot of these things are.

Cluster

To see the full list in all its glory, you’ll have to wait until we go live on Monday. I won’t be blogging about it until Tuesday or Wednesday, but if you want to be notified as soon as launch, you can sign up for such a notification right here (which, conveniently, will also be a link you can follow to the campaign itself once it launches).

Thanks for being awesome…

***

P.S. As a reminder, I’m currently out at Phoenix Comicon (My schedule is here), and if anyone’s around and willing to help us by volunteering at our Mega-booth, (#740) they can contact the lovely Thera on Twitter.

P.P.S. My family will be with me on this trip. So be aware that if you see in public with a kid, that’s probably not the best time to approach me. Yes. My children are adorable. But they are not part of the convention attractions. Please be gracious and give us some space.

What’s more, when I’m with my kids, please be aware that I’m being a dad, not an entertainer, convention guest, or autograph machine. If you’d like to hear me talk about writing, see me read my stuff, ask me a question, or get something signed you should *really* consider going to one of the events we’ve scheduled for those specific purposes. Don’t try to do it when I’m trying to have a quiet moment and some ice cream with one of my sons…

Later all,

pat

Also posted in a billion links, cool things, Geeks Doing Good | By Pat5 Responses

Stretch Goals, Teaming Up, and the Impending Fundraiser

I’m guessing you know what’s right around the corner.

That’s right. The annual Worldbuilders fundraiser starts on Monday, November 9th. Just a handful of days away.

It’s been a bit of a madhouse for the last couple weeks while we’ve been getting ready. Every year the fundraiser gets bigger and better. And this year we’re doing things we never could have dreamed of pulling off before.

As a result, we have a new addition to the Worldbuilders team. Her name is Mindy, and she’s been thrown into the fray at… well…  let’s just call it an interesting time.

So… yeah. This is it. Your official advance warning. Start your engines.

Huh. Okay. That felt kinda strange to say. I don’t know where that “start your engines” metaphor came from. I take that back.

Worldbuilders-Logo_Web - crop smaller

Did I mention we’ve raised $3,500,000 for Heifer International?
Because we have. We very have.

If you’re one of the true believers who read the blog regularly and enjoy helping out with the fundraiser ever year. Or if you’ve always kinda wanted to help out but didn’t know how, I have a few things you might want to consider before this year’s festivities kick off.

1. Team Pages

Last year was the first time we’ve had an easy option for people who wanted to create and manage their own teams inside the bigger Worldbuilders Fundraiser. We didn’t think much of it at the time because, well… we were busy getting all the books and prizes ready for the lottery.

But my readers are clever, quick witted folk, and some of you jumped right in and started making teams of your own. Some teams offered their own stretch goals and prizes. Some had friendly rivalries (Team Nerdfighteria and The Wayward Backers in particular)….

Worldbuilders 2014  teams

*Salutes The Wayward Backers*

It was, to be perfectly honest, one of the cooler things that happened last year. It delighted me to see what y’all came up with, and it made me proud to see so many people taking the fundraiser and making it their own.

Last year someone set up a Spanish team. A family decided to forego Christmas gifts and raise money for goats instead. A convention in Luxembourg rallied their members to donate.

And I’m sure many of you remember a young girl named Charlotte who made a video because she wanted to raise $500 dollars, enough for a Heifer. You can see her smiling face in the picture above. You’ll probably also notice that she helped raise a lot more than her initial goal.

So if you’re amazed at the fact that over 60% of the world still cooks dinner over an open fire, but you don’t have the $1000 it would take to help an entire village get stoves. Or if you wish you could help a town get clean water but on your budget $300 might as well be a piece of the moon….

Well, maybe you could start a team, then rally your friends and family to help make it happen.

Trust me on this. People are good. If you give them a chance they will surprise you.

2. Stretch Goals

Over the years, we’ve had some awesome stretch goals. Here’s some of my particular favorites:

Molly’s Greatest Adventure

Trey Ratcliff’s bathroom selfie:

Trey Ratcliff - Bathroom Selfie

Amanda is particularly fond of everything Hank Green did for us, but last year’s angsty cover of Shake it Off cover was particularly fine.

The Doubleclicks Love You Like a Burrito!

Or what about that time Kevin Hearne did the Thriller dance?

We’re always trying to think of cool new stretch goals, and cool new people to help out with them. So if you have a clever idea feel free to mention it the comments below.

That said, let’s be reasonable in our expectations. Of course it’d be cool to see me and Nathan Fillion kiss, but obviously I don’t know Nathan Fillion. Because if I knew Nathon Fillion, the two of us would be playing Betrayal at House on the Hill in my tree house right now.

3. Donations and General offers of assistance.

Are you an author? A book collector? Someone who desperately needs to reclaim some shelf-space and the illusion of control over your life?

Are you a publisher? A game designer? Are you a maker of cool geeky things and you’d like to make the world a better place by donating a few to a good cause?

Are you a juggler? A gymnast? A singer? Can you bend spoons with your mind or something else you think would make a fun stretch goal?

Are you a programmer? An artist? A musician? Are you Nathan Fillion?

(If so, I’m sorry about that whole kissing thing I wrote up there. I didn’t mean to make things weird.)

Either way, drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.

donations@worldbuilders.org

Soon,

pat

P.S. Don’t forget to leave your stretch goal suggestions below.

Also posted in Acts of Whimsy, Worldbuilders 2015 | By Pat30 Responses

Doing What We Can

Over the last year, I’ve been reading the Little House on the Prairie books to my oldest boy. I ended up reading the sixth book, The Long Winter, in the middle of a bitterly cold January at my father’s cabin in the north woods of Wisconsin.

I have to say, I’ve rarely been more caught up in a book. Without going into too much detail, it tells the story of how the Ingalls family lived through a truly horrific winter out on the frontier back in the 1880’s.

So there I am, in a Little Cabin in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. It’s 30 below outside, (-34 Celsius). Then, at 2:00 am, the LP tank runs out of gas.

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For you city dwellers, an LP tank is like a big propane tank for your house if you live out in the country. It provides natural gas for your stove, your water heater, and… well, your furnace.

So the cabin starts getting cold, and my dad and I haul in wood and light a fire in the old cast-iron stove. We feed it all night, and make it til morning without much trouble. The place has modern insulation, after all. The kids stay warm with extra blankets and the water pipes don’t freeze. Still, it’s an eye-opener.

That night I read a few more chapters to my boy about a pioneer family trying to survive in a building that’s not much more than a wooden shack. No insulation. No electricity. Cut off from civilization due to blizzards. They have a stove too, but there’s no coal. No firewood. They keep alive by burning hay. All they have to eat is potatoes. Then even the potatoes run out and they have nothing to eat but grain.

It goes on for months, and while I’m reading, all I can think is: How can people possibly survive like this?

The next morning, I stumble onto an article about the Syrian refugees. Lebanon just had its worst blizzard in a decade. Feet of snow. And most refugees don’t even have a clapboard shack for shelter. They’ve got tents. Tarps. They have nothing. They’re freezing to death. Kids are freezing to death in the snow.

So I call Maria.

*     *     *

As many of you know, I have a charity called Worldbuilders. We raise money from the geek community and use it to make the world a better place. Over the last several years we’ve raised about 3.5 million dollars.

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We work primarily with Heifer International because they offer the biggest bang for our buck. Heifer focuses on providing people with tools, education, and infrastructure so that they can become self-reliant forever. It’s the whole teach-a-person-to-fish thing. Except Heifer is actually better than that, because they also teach people to teach *other* people to fish. Which means the good they do is like an ever-growing avalanche rolling forward into the future.

I used to run Worldbuilders, but not anymore. These days Maria runs it, because she’s roughly 8000 times better at it than I ever was.

So I call Maria up and say, “Syrian Refugees are freezing to death. Can Worldbuilders give them some money to help?”

There’s a pause on the other end of the phone. Maria isn’t surprised. She’s just thinking. I call her like this all the time, saying things like: “I need a map of 18th century Ghent,” or “Why don’t we sell greeting cards in our online store? Can we get than ready by tomorrow?” or “Is it illegal for me to have a laser gun? And if so, how illegal? And also, can you find someone to build me a laser gun?”

It says a lot about Maria that she has never tried to choke me. Not even once.

So Maria is quiet on the phone for about 8 seconds, processing. Then she says, “We’d need to make sure the money goes to the right place.”

“There’s a place called Mercy Corps,” I said. “I haven’t checked them out completely, but they seem solid. Also, right now someone is offering matching funds, so if we hurry, we’ll be able to double up on our donation.”

“Okay,” Maria says. “I think that’s workable.”

Now I hesitate. “I worry that people might be upset if we support another charity,” I say. “We talk a lot about Heifer. I don’t want people to feel like we’re pulling a switch on them.”

“We’ve made donations to First Book,” Maria points out. “No one was bothered by that.”

“True,” I say. “But this isn’t the sort of charity we normally support. It’s not about education or sustainability. But long-term help isn’t appropriate here. These people don’t have anything. They need blankets. They need heaters and fuel.”

“I think we should do it,” Maria says.

“But when people donate or buy something in our store, they’re trusting us to put the money to good use,” I say. “I don’t want to risk that trust by changing charities on them all of a sudden. How about I give some money to Worldbuilders, then Worldbuilders donates it to Mercy Corps? That seems safer.”

“If that’s the way you want to do it,” Maria says. “I’ll look into them and make sure it’s a good charity.”

And that’s what we did. It was different for us. Worldbuilders usually tries to work for long-term change, but we knew this donation wouldn’t solve the refugee problem. It won’t give them homes and jobs. But you can’t teach someone to fish when they’re freezing to death. Sometimes all you can do is keep people warm. Sometimes all you can do help a little, and that has to be enough.

*     *     *

Fast forward to now.

Unless you’ve been living under a heavy rock, you’ve been hearing a lot about the Syrian refugees lately. I’ve heard there’s a picture of a little boy that drowned trying to get somewhere safe. I haven’t seen it, and I’m not going to go looking for it either. I don’t want to see it, and I wouldn’t put something like that in my blog.

Instead, here’s a picture of The Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

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Its population is 79,900. Making it the fourth largest city in the country. There’s a lot of kids there. 

I can’t imagine what it would be like, having to flee my country with my kids. I can’t imagine abandoning everything just hoping to keep my little boys safe. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in a tent and just hope desperately that someone helps me.

Actually that’s not true. I can imagine what it’s like. I can imagine *exactly* what it’s like. I’m a writer. That’s what I do. I can imagine it and it’s horrifying.

This video touches on the edge of it. It’s a only a minute and a half long. You have the time.

My imagination is much worse than that. It makes it hard for me to sleep at night. 

Every day I see more of this stuff. And every day it makes me feel more helpless. Hopeless. Angry at the world.

Then I saw this:

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This woman is named Petra Laszlo. She’s a journalist. This picture shows her tripping a refugee carrying a child in his arms. (Story here if you like.)

It’s been days since I first saw this. And I am still so angry. I’m so angry I can feel it in my chest. My skin prickles. I’m so angry that I can’t even describe it to you. I have no words for it. Nothing is big enough.

I believe that people are good. I really do. It’s one of the truths I live my life by. It’s one of the things I cling to when I have trouble sleeping at night. I’ve seen such proof of it through the years. From my children. From my readers. From the fact that so many people come together to make Worldbuilders a success.

But this. It’s makes me wonder if maybe I’m wrong. 

I hate that this is the world. And I’m so angry. And I’m tired of feeling like I can’t do anything to help.

So I call Maria.

*     *     *

So. For the next week, Worldbuilders is raising money to help the Syrian refugees.

What’s more, Worldbuilders will be matching donations for the first $25,000 of the fundraiser. So if you kick in 10 bucks, it turns into 20. Donate $50? We’ll turn it into a $100.

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(Like this.)

100% of the money from this fundraiser will be donated to Mercy Corps, because they’re already on the ground, helping out the refugees. They have more than 30 years of experience doing this sort of thing. We’ve checked them out and they’re excellent.

I’m taking a flier on this one, folks. It’s an experiment. We haven’t planned this the way we normally do. We aren’t giving out prizes. There aren’t any stretch goals. We don’t have any media lined up to help us spread the word.

This is just about helping people who are in desperate need of help.

And honestly? It’s kinda ridiculous for us to do this now. Our big end-of-the-year fundraiser in November, we should be focusing on that. That would be the smart thing for us to do.

But the simple truth is this: I can’t just watch this happen any more. I need to do something to help. I’m guessing a lot of you feel the same way, so I thought I’d give us a chance to do it together.

I don’t want to feel angry and hopeless any more. I want to see more pictures like this:

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If this isn’t your kind of charity, I completely understand. Rest assured that Worldbuilders will be doing its regular fundraising extravaganza in a couple months.

But if you want to help, you can do it over here.

Thanks for reading to the end, folks. I appreciate it.

pat

Edit 9:47 am: I posted this blog late last night, not knowing what the reaction might be. Whenever you reach out to people like this, it’s a risk. What’s more, I hadn’t done a lot of planning, and I was worried it might not go over well. Around 4:00 I finally managed to get to sleep.

A few minutes ago I woke up, blearily checked my phone, and saw that we’ve raised over $28,000. I’ve never been so happy to be awake after only 5 hours of sleep. And I’m going to give Worldbuilders another 25,000 dollars so they can keep matching donations. I’d love to see this thing keep rolling.

Edit 1:28 pm: We just hit $50,000 and within minutes, someone dropped us an e-mail, offering to provide us another $25,000 to help us continue matching donations. She would like to remain anonymous. But I salute her generosity, as it means all donations up to $75,000 are going to be doubled. 

I am having the best day ever.

Edit 6:18 pm: We just hit $75,000, and another lovely human being has stepped up with $5000 dollars so we can continue to match donations. I’m not sure if he wants to remain anonymous or not, but until we know, we’ll keep his name private. Named or not, he’s the reason donations are being matched up to $80,000.

Edit 8:05 pm: Just when we were closing in on $80,000 we got an e-mail from someone who offered to match another $20,000 dollars. When I saw the e-mail I actually laughed out loud. I’ve been laughing so much today, and it’s all because of you guys.

Thanks to our newest citizen philanthropist, we’re now matching all donations up to $100,000 dollars.

(If anyone else cares to drop us a line, our e-mail is refugees@worldbuilders.org.)

Also posted in calling on the legions | By Pat77 Responses
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