Making Change With My Boy

For those of you who don’t know, I have a little boy. I won’t tell you his name, because his name is his own business. And he’ll share it with the world when he’s ready.

Online, I refer to him as Oot.

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He is my heart’s delight. He is my sweet boy.

This is a story about him. Because that’s what I do. I tell stories.

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A while back, I wrote a blog about my change jar.

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(Yeah. My kitchen is pretty orange.)

In that long-ago blog, I talked about how strange it is for me to have quarters in my change jar. For the majority of my life, the quarters have been picked out to make ends meet when times get tight. There’s been a lot of time when my change jar didn’t have many dimes in it either….

In brief, my change jar is a constant reminder to me that I am rich.

One of the things I like about Heifer is that they can do a lot with a little. Even when my change jar was mostly nickles and pennies, even if all I could scrounge up was twenty bucks at the end of the year, I knew Heifer could use that money to change someone’s life.

These last couple years, I’ve developed a habit of taking my change jar to the bank, cashing it out, and donating that money to Heifer at the end of the Worldbuilders fundraiser. I make other donations too, of course. But this one is special to me.

The change jar is really cool to Oot. Part of this is because we kept all coins away from him for a long while after he swallowed that dime. But the bigger part of it is that he has my genes, and that means he thinks coins are cool. Because they are.

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(Luckily, he did not inherit my fashion sense.)

So last year when I was getting ready to take my coins to the bank, Oot asked if he could help. He didn’t really know what I was doing, he mostly just wanted to play with the coins and spend time with me. I’d been busy with the fundraiser, and he hadn’t seen much of me.

First he moved all his coins into his lunchbox. Then he found a new jar he liked better and started moving all the coins into that instead.

While I was waiting, I asked him what we should do with the change from the jar.

Honestly, I was expecting this to be a teachable moment. I was going to explain why we should help other people. Why that was important.

But he didn’t need that explained. He was on board from the beginning. They don’t have chocolate? We should give them some. Not enough food? We should give people seeds. We should give people water. We should give people a cow so they can have milk to drink.

I swear I didn’t coach him at all. This video is edited for time, but if you like, you can watch the full video over here. It shows more of his thought process, as well as me breaking down crying at the end. (Oot didn’t understand why, and sweet boy that he is, he offered to go get me a tissue.)

I could claim I got all weepy because I was low on sleep and a little emotionally fragile at the end of last year’s fundraiser. But while it does tend to be an exhausting time of year for me, that wouldn’t really be the truth. The truth is that he’s so good that it just breaks my heart.

The world seems so bleak sometimes. But he gives me hope. Y’all give me hope too. Every year Worldbuilders reminds me that there a lot of people in the world who want to make things better. You have no idea how much that means to me.

Thanks so much, everyone.

Here’s a link to our donation page if you’d like to chip in.

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A few pieces of news today. Note our shiny new widget.

Because I have been known to suck at math, the fabulous Vi Hart lent us her considerable calculatory skills to determine how likely you are to win a prize in the Worldbuilders lottery based on how much you donate.

The odds are *really* good this year. We made our tech guys double check that they were pulling numbers from the right place. It’s absurd how good the odds are, and we’re not even done adding prizes yet.

In other news, the Worldbuilders Team is livestreaming the entire day in the office. I’ll probably be strolling through there as well like a great shambling mythical beast.

We’ve got an AMA tonight as well, along with some of the faboo authors that are helping us out. So feel free to swing by there with your questions. We’ll have answers. Or at least a sleep-deprived level of snark….

One last time, here’s the link to donate.

And here’s the link to the blog that explains all the details of the fundraiser.

Later Space Cowboys,

pat

Posted in Oot, Warm Fuzzies, Worldbuilders 2014 | By Pat43 Responses

Graphic Novels and Beautiful Books

So while I was off in Seattle for a quick trip, we hit our 500,000 dollar stretch goal.

Which means this is happening:

Yeah. The delightful Brothers Chaps over at Homestar Runner are going to put together a full-length video of Strong Bad (re)writing and reading that beloved children’s classic, The Ocelot and The Porridge Maiden. I think Hans Christian Anderson wrote the original version of that one late in his life when he was addicted to cough syrup. 

Needless to say, this is pretty cool for me. As I’ve been a fan of Homestar for nigh unto a decade.

If you don’t understand why this is cool, you should probably head over here and browse around.

Those of you who do understand why it’s cool: Spread the word.

And now, today’s books

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  • Copies of In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang. Signed and inscribed to Worldbuilders by Cory Doctorow.

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Everything about the description of this book made Amanda want it. MMORPGs? Yes. Cover blurb by Felicia Day? Awesome. An honest and beautiful take on poverty, culture clash, and adolescence? Abso-freaking-lutely.

“A lovely graphic novel for gamer girls of all ages.” – Felicia Day

“The combination of girls-only gaming; gorgeous, stylized artwork; and a meaningful, sophisticated message about online gaming makes this a surefire hit for readers everywhere, especially girls.” – Booklist, starred review

Normally we don’t put two blurbs up for books, but this one seems to warrant it.

We have several copies of this, most are going into the lottery, but we’re also putting one up for auction, so you can bid on that over here.

  • Copies of Through the Woods. Signed and doodled by Emily Carroll.

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I read this book a couple nights ago, and honestly? It kinda freaked me out.

And I mean that in the best possible way. These stories were unsettling. Unnerving. I read it before going to bed, and after I finished it, it had given me too much of a wiggins, and I had to read something else before I could turn off the light and get some sleep. Seriously. I’m 40 years old, and this book *got* to me.

Simply said, I *loved* this book. It’s probably one of the best things I’ve read all year.

Before you think to yourself, “I don’t want to read anything that causes a great brimful font man-toughness like Rothfuss to flip his shit.” Let me share with you what one of the worldbuilders team had to say about this book:

“I’ve loved Em Carroll for years, ever since I read ‘His Face All Red’ – that particular story still sticks with me and gives me the shivers in the best way possible. Her haunting stories could scare the pants off the most hardened hearts (which I definitely am not), and the beautiful artwork just makes the words all the more chilling. Even if you don’t like scary things, go buy this. I scare easier than a cute kitten and I still loved Through The Woods.”

The copies we have are signed and doodled in them by the author/illustrator. Most are going into the lottery, but we’re putting one up for auction, so if you want to see some of the art, or bid on it, you can head over here.

This year, faboo publisher First Second Books sent us some graphic novels as well…

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I’ve enjoyed a lot of Box Brown’s work over the years, so I was excited to see this book included in First Second’s donations. Plus, who doesn’t want to know more about Andre the Giant?

“Larger-than-average André the Giant had a larger-than-life personality to match, and award-winning cartoonist Brown manages to capture the legendary wrestler’s career in charming, heartfelt black-and-white panels.” – Booklist

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“Expect readers to clamor for the next installments of this.” – Kirkus Reviews

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“A sort of Games of Thrones for the younger set, this epic adventure is filled with battles, swords, and ancestors showing up as ghosts and zombies … Giallongo’s artwork is gorgeous, filled with rich colors that capture the wildness of the mountain. He gives even the faces of passing animals complex emotions.” – Publishers Weekly

  • Copies of Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff.

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It’s great to see a series with a strong and adventurous heroine, and from the looks of this book we’ll get that and more.

“… destined to join the ranks of such classic duos as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. A scrumptious Turkish delight.” – School Library Journal

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I read this comic last year, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was the first project of a new publisher: Improper Books.

Simply said, I dug it. And after they read my gushy review about it online, the folks in charge sent some along to the fundraiser. They’re cool like that.

“Porcelain is a gorgeous, gothic fever dream, beautiful and terrifying and funny and sad all at once. It is also that precious rarity, a perfect comic.” – Lev Grossman

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These come from my very own collection. As I’ve mentioned before in the blog, I love Girl Genius and I love all of you, so it seemed only fitting to bring those things together.

As it says above, these are signed, so we’re auctioning them off over here.

  • Sets of 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth and How to Tell if your Cat is Plotting to Kill You. Punch a Dolphin is signed and doodled by The Oatmeal.

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I did a signing with Matt Inman (also known as The Oatmeal) a while back, and it was a blast. He let me touch his Tesla (which isn’t a euphemism) and I was delighted to discover that he’s as delightful in person as his writing might suggest.

He was kind enough to send us some copies of his books, so we put one set into the lottery for all of y’all to enjoy. And another set up for auction, where you can bid with gleeful abandon.

Books from Dreamhaven.

Last but not least, we’ve got some lovely stuff from Dreamhaven Books. Dreamhaven is a bookstore (and publisher) located in the Twin Cities, and they’ve been supporting Worldbuidlers for ages. They also are Neil Gaiman’s go-to bookstore since he has a house so close to there, and because of that they carry a lot of exclusive and otherwise cool Gaiman items, some of which are included down below…

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Greg is the owner of Dreamhaven, and he’s put together a collection of stories about bookstores. Something that’s close to our hearts. This is the original hardcover printing with more than 5 bookstore-centered stories, and an introduction by Neil Gaiman.

  • Hardcover, first edition copies of The Night We Buried Road Dog by Jack Cady.

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This is a collection of short stories by the Nebula and World Fantasy Award winning author Jack Cady, who passed away back in 2004.

Greg discovered a box full of first edition copies, and sent them all along to us. They’re hard to come by, many of you will have the chance to win them in the lottery if you donate to Heifer International on our the team page.

  • Auction: A hardcover copy of The Best American Comics 2010. Edited and signed by Neil Gaiman.

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The Best American Comics series invites a guest editor every year to choose the best comics from graphic novels, pamphlet comics, newspapers, magazines, mini-comics, and the Internet. Back in 2010, Neil was asked, and it created an awesome collection.

“It’s hard to flip through this book without finding a lot worth reading (and rereading).” - The Onion, A.V. Club

If you want to add this to your collection, or just want to read what Neil thought were the best comics of the year 2010, bid over here.

  •  Don’t Panic: The Official Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion by Neil Gaiman.

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Published in 1988, this is one of Gaiman’s earlier works. It’s a great examination of the Hitchhiker’s Guide universe and all that surrounds it.

“Definitely a devotee’s book, Don’t Panic operates on several levels at once. The book pokes hilarious fun at the tell-all books by cult heroes as well as at the industry that inevitably grows up around phenomenal successes like Douglas Adams’s bizarre, witty radio series and ensuing novels.” – Publishers Weekly

  • 50 copies of Now We are Sick: An Anthology of Nasty Verse edited by Neil Gaiman and Stephen Jones.

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“Slick, gross, humorous, wry, slanted, poignant, moving, vomit-inducing and great, great fun . . . If you have the same warped sense of black humor as I do, then this is a definite must.” – Starburst

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Neil Gaiman worked on the reboot of this series and made it entirely his own. There’s also beautiful art within the series by John Romita Jr, who’s done a lot of other great work for Marvel. This includes a gallery of all the original comic covers, Romita’s character sketches, and Neil’s original pitch to Marvel for the project.

“Gaiman’s storytelling savvy combined with Romita’s distinct and compelling artwork makes this omnibus collection of all seven Eternal comic books an absolute must-have for all those who call themselves comic book fans.” – B&N Review

There are also two copies (one of each cover) up for auction, so you can bid on the green cover over here, and the comic cover over here.

  • 20 copies each of Telling Tales and Speaking in Tongues CDs, both by Neil Gaiman.

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These are a bit more rare. They were published Dreamhaven Books, which makes them extra cool, and also means that’s really the only place you can get them easily.

Or, you could donate some money to the Team Page and have a chance to win them while making the world suck less.

  • Rare, limited edition, slipcased copies of Anansi Boys. Signed by Neil Gaiman.

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Everybody here in the office is coveting this book.

This is a super-rare and beautiful edition of Anansi Boys, featuring some great artwork. Aside from the book itself being full of awesome, there’s a companion notebook containing all sorts of goodies: an interview with Neil, his original outline, deleted scenes, manuscript pages…

We’ve got one going into the lottery, and another up for auction, over here.

* * *

We’ve unlocked some great stretch goals in the last week or so, so be sure to swing by the Worldbuilders website to check them out.

One of the ones we passed recently is a livestream of a day in the office here at Worldbuilders HQ. It’s going to be tomorrow, Tuesday, December 9 and we’ll probably start it around 12pm CST so that folks can tune in during the day or in the evening when they get home. We’ll definitely be here late that day, so be prepared to see us in all of our frantic glory as we get everything ready for the final days of the fundraiser. We can’t promise to be as cute as something like a Panda Cam, but the team does tend to flail around almost as much as baby pandas, so there’s that.

I’ll be in the office helping out (or at least trying to), and in the evening I’ll be having an AMA on Reddit, so we’ll be hanging out and answering questions while that goes on as well.

We’ve got 8 days left, folks. Help us spread the word so we can end things with a bang….

Posted in graphic novels, Worldbuilders 2014 | By Pat7 Responses

An Abundance of Signed Books

You all have been going above and beyond, with our total creeping ever closer to the $500,000 mark. In the last day alone we’ve raised more than $75,000. That’s enough to buy biogas stoves for 75 entire villages.

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Around 3 billion people in the world still cook and heat their homes using open fires. By buying stoves for the entire village, you’re improving the health of families who would otherwise very likely develop chronic lung and eye diseases from smoke inhalation in poorly ventilated buildings.

Biogas stoves also mean that children no longer have to gather firewood by hand, saving hours a day, so there is more time for school and homework.

And even more than that, biogas stoves run on animal manure, something that already has to be dealt with. At the end, the slurry in the biogas digester can be used for fertilizer, improving crop yields with little added effort. Nothing wasted, and they provide so many benefits.

And we’ve raised enough to provide that to 75 villages in one day. Imagine what we can do in the 10 days we’ve got left…

* * *

Today’s blog has awesome books from all over the place. All of them are signed, and there are a few very special editions, whether they’re first printings, limited runs, or personally inscribed to Worldbuilders donors.

They were kicked in by publishers, authors, and longtime Worldbuilders supporters, and while the majority of them are in the lottery, where anyone who donates $10 or more has the chance of winning them, there are a few gems that we’ve put up for auction as well, so read closely and see if there’s anything you think you’d like to add to your library.

  • ARCs of The Witches of Echo Park. Signed by Amber Benson, coming out in January 2015.

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This is a real treat. Amber is a lovely person, and she’s been helping us out for years, including that time she pretended to be Pat on twitter for a while. Her publisher pitched in a bunch of early copies of her upcoming book, which was awesome.

We’ve put some in the lottery, but for those of you who want to be certain, there’s one up for auction over here.

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Writing Excuses has been around since 2008, and is a great podcast to get into if you’re interested in the many aspects of genre writing. Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard talk for 15 minutes or so each week about a different subject that has to do with writing or producing speculative fiction or webcomics.

This anthology is one short story from each of the hosts, and this copy is signed by all four of them. It’s in the lottery, too, so someone is going to get a real treat.

  • Auction: A hardcover set of The Stormlight Archive books: The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance.  Signed and dedicated to Worldbuilders by Brandon Sanderson.

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“Epic in every sense. Sanderson has built a world that leaps to life, a cast of varied characters and a vast history which slowly unfolds with the deepening story of Roshar.” – Guardian

These have been inscribed for Worldbuilders, and in Way of Kings Brandon even claims that the book is almost as epic as Pat’s beard…

These are really cool, and since they’re up for auction, they could be yours if you head over and bid.

  • Auctions: Copies of A Dance with Dragons. One first edition, one deluxe limited edition. Signed by George R.R. Martin.

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“Filled with vividly rendered set pieces, unexpected turnings, assorted cliffhangers and moments of appalling cruelty, A Dance with Dragons is epic fantasy as it should be written: passionate, compelling, convincingly detailed and thoroughly imagined.” – The Washington Post

This first edition (pictured on the left) is really cool and collectible, since it’s signed by George R.R. Martin, so if you’d like to add it to your collection, you can bid for the chance over here.

If you’d rather go full archival collectible, there’s the Subterranean Press Deluxe Limited Edition, also signed, including illustrations from Tom Kidd. It’s a promotional copy of what is now a sold out edition, so if you want one, your best option is to bid on it over here.

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As has been previously covered, Subterranean Press makes really gorgeous special editions of books, and Dying of the Light is no exception.

This is actually Martin’s first novel, written before A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s illustrated with full-color end sheets, three full-color plates, and fifteen pen-and-ink illustrations by Tom Kidd. This copy is numbered 233 out of 500, and if you want it, you can bid on it over here.

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April was kind enough to send us a few copies of the first book in her series. She’s a big supporter of Worldbuilders, and even has an auction going to be Tuckerized in her upcoming book.

If you want the chance at the books, all you have to do is donate on the team page.

  • Auctions: A set of the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy and a copy of Razor’s Edge. All signed by Martha Wells.

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Martha Wells is a wonderful, long-time supporter of Worldbuilders. She’s kicked in lots of books in the past, and this year we’ve got a bunch more.

The ones that are up for auction are a hardcover copy of Razor’s Edge, which you can bid on over here, as well as a full set of the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy, which you can bid on over here. All of the books are signed, and donated with love.

  • Razor’s Edge, a set of the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy, Wheel of the Infinite, a set of the Emilie series, and a set of the Books of the Raksura series. All signed by Martha Wells.

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Martha was particularly awesome and sent more than one copy or set of some things, so we’re also throwing a bunch of her books into the lottery.

Again, they’re all signed, so donating to the team page gets you the chance to get some new books to read if you’ve never picked them up before, or some fancy signed copies to brag about to your friends if you have.

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It’s always awesome when authors donate copies of their books, especially when they’ve inscribed them. The inscription here is really thoughtful, reminding everyone who wins that these books are physical proof that you changed a person’s life for the better with your donation.

And that’s a really heartwarming thing to know.

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“With three-dimensional characters, a gripping plot, and a world that became real to me, John Gwynne’s Malice is a great debut. In short, this is the kind of fantasy I love to read and I truly can’t wait for the next volume in The Faithful and the Fallen!” – Fantasy Book Review

We got a couple of copies of this, including a limited edition copy, number 424 out of 500, so we’ve put that one up for auction. If you want it, you can bid on it here.

  • Auction: A notebook full of notes for the upcoming book Killing Pretty by Richard Kadrey.

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This was an absolute treat to receive, and a lot of us here at Worldbuilders HQ have been gazing longingly at it.

You see, despite appearances, this is no ordinary notebook. Every scrap of paper, scribbled note, and printed picture has relevance and meaning to the not-yet-published book 7 in the Sandman Slim series, Killing Pretty.

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Richard explained the donation thusly:

“I keep a notebook for each of my novels. The books are full of story and character notes, as well as visual reference photos. I finished my newest novel, book 7 in the Sandman Slim series, and don’t need the notebook anymore.”

The book itself doesn’t come out until July of 2015, so the winner of this auction is going to get all sorts of juicy secrets and plot points well before the actual release. There are more pictures of a few choice pages over on the auction, for those of you who are curious.

You know you want it. Bid here. We won’t stop you.

  • Auction: An early manuscript of The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. Critiqued mercilessly by Brett.

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This is a cool piece of history. Brett read this very copy, making all sorts of excruciatingly honest critiques of the story, and catching a lot of spelling errors. Pat found a lot of this particularly amusing, so you should really go over and check out the auction, even if only to see the photos of some of the mistakes that were made that Brett caught. We’ll just say: “simpathy lamp.”

This manuscript was printed before the folks at DAW got a look at it, so it’s a little different from the finished book, but largely familiar. There are a few passages that have been reworked, rearranged or tweaked, there are a few different names and spellings, and you can see some instances where Pat was playing with different ways to convey magical commands and slang. It of course has random notes here and there, including comments where Brett was confused, disgusted, or bowled over by the story.

As you may also see, this book is hilariously long when printed out on paper. It had to be bound in two parts, because it was just so unwieldy in one.

If you want this rough-draft manuscript, bid on it over here.

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We love all the cool stuff that people donate to us every year, and we’re always amazed at the different types of collectible pieces that make their way through our office. It’s exciting to think that some of this stuff will find its way to the right person–the person who will treasure it like it needs to be treasured.

So while we’re getting all this neat stuff into the world, we’re also helping buy a different sort of cool stuff for people who really need it–biogas stoves, for instance.

And that’s the other side of the excitement around here. Seriously. When Amanda did the math for how many biogas stoves can be bought with what we raised in a day, all of us told her she was wrong and had to re-do her math. When we found out she was correct, we just stood there and stared at each other. There are seriously no words for how cool you guys are for blowing our minds like this.

Thank you everyone for pitching in, spreading the word, donating, voting, watching our stretch goals, bidding on auctions, and buying Tinker’s Packs swag. You’re improving the lives and futures of villages full of people.

Posted in Worldbuilders 2014 | By Amanda8 Responses

A Truckload of Games from Mayfair

Here at Worldbuilders, we’ve been known to occasionally engage in some enthusiastic exaggeration. We might sometimes say someone gave us “a ton of books” when in truth, it was a *lot* of books that did not actually weigh 2000 pounds.

But in this particular case, we’re not being hyperbolic. Mayfair Games has literally sent us a truckload of games.

And it wasn’t a little truck either. There were so many games we had to get a forklift to unload it.

So yeah. There are a *lot* of games here. And we’re putting more than a thousand of them into the lottery. That means for every $10 you donate to Heifer International on the Worldbuilders team page, you get the chance to win these games as well as all the other goodies in the lottery.

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We here at Worldbuilders take our jobs seriously. When people donate something to the fundraiser, we do our best to learn everything about it so we can show it off to good effect. We feel it’s our duty to become familiar with the prizes.

In the pursuit of that duty, we made a point of playing several of these games. We did it for you, really. And for charity.

One of the things I was pleased to discover is that the games we tried out were easy to learn and quick to play. Not that I don’t enjoy a nice, brisk twelve hour game of Civilization, mind you. But that sort of game isn’t for everyone.

A lot of these you can play in an hour or so. And if you’ve ever wasted a whole evening grinding away at a game of Monopoly that simply would not die, you know that’s a good thing.

  • 100 copies of Horus.

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Horus is one of the games the team managed to crack open and play together. It’s a civilization building game where you vie for control of regions along the Nile.

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Things got pretty heated. It’s a good game for a group, and Rachel had this to say about it:

I loved the game’s art, and even if I didn’t end up being King of Egypt, it was really fun trying! We all kind of teamed up against Adam at first, and then Nicole turned traitor and started stealing EVERYTHING. I don’t think Nicole and I should play games together….

Ah yes. Resentment and the end of friendships. The hallmarks of an excellent game….

  • 100 copies of Wacky Wacky West.

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This game won Spiel des Jahres. Which my four years of high school German allows me to translate as, “Game of the Year.”

Through bluffing and deception, you are trying to develop the a town in the old west that is mostly full of… well… outhouses. Build things you want, prevent other players from doing so, and destroy things in your way.

  • 100 copies of Anno 1503.

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This game is based on a computer game, which if you’re a skeptical person like myself, might tempt you to dismiss it. But this game was designed by Klaus Teuber, the same guy who made Catan. So personally, I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

You sail around, searching for outposts, trade agreements, or treasure to bring back to the motherland, and use those resources to build up your colonies. But as colonies grow, there’s risk for some gold-greedy pirates to come along and destroy everything…

  • 100 copies of Journey to the Center of the Earth.

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Look at it journeying, there.

Adam played this one over Thanksgiving with some friends. Here’s what he had to say:

This is a fun competitive/co-op board game to see who can gather the most fame and come out on top. When we played, my friends and I had a blast trying to collect the most fossils and gold while at the same time conniving to prevent the others from doing the same. The rules are easy enough to figure out so after a single read-through, you’ll be set to play.

  • 100 copies of Nautilus, Adventure in the Deep.

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In Nautilus, groups of researchers come together to search for lost treasures, build and develop an underwater city and, most importantly, search for the lost city of Atlantis. Each researcher has his or her own passions and goals, though everyone is motivated by treasure and money.

  • 100 copies of Justinian.

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This is a game of court favor, specifically the favor of Emperor Justinian, through bribery of the other influential people in court. It’s hard to predict which members of the court will have the Emperor’s ear in the end, so you have to choose wisely and carefully…

This game sparked a wonderful history discussion that went about like this:

Me: [Looking down at the board] So… this one’s about saints?
Kat: No, it’s about Justinian, the Byzantine Emperor.
Me: Ah. Of course. Yes. I was… testing you.
Kat: Glad my history degree finally paid for itself.
  • 100 copies of Toledo.

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Who doesn’t want to be a 17th century Spanish swordmaker? In Toledo, you send your five helpers to collect the finest metals and gems to craft the best swords, as well as duel with other swordsmen to defend your honor.

It combines worker placement and hand management into a fun, family-friendly game, so gamers new and old can enjoy it if they win it in the lottery.

  • 100 copies of Amazonas.

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Amanda’s been playing this one with her gaming group, and they’ve been enjoying it. She wrote this to share with y’all:

You’re searching for rare plants and animals in the jungles of Amazonas. Your goal is to build outposts in specific places, while encountering as much of the flora and fauna as possible and making sure the other adventurers don’t beat you to the places you want to go. Competitive, but mostly strategic, and a lot of fun. Great game.

  • 100 copies of Grand Prix.

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This game is great for families and larger groups, since it plays up to six (rather than just four). It’s a racing game that uses cards to help you move cars on the track, then bid on which car you’d like to control. Since that can change between turns, you need to keep all of the cars in the running until the end, in the hopes that you end up controlling the leading car at the finish line.

  • 100 copies of La Strada.

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The team played this one together as well.

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You’re trying to establish trade routes to major and minor settlements, preferably places your competition can’t get to. It’s simple and elegant, while still being a lot of fun to play and has potential for some serious strategy.

Nicole felt particularly strongly about it:

I really liked La Strada.  Finding the most efficient way to use my resources while sneaking past Rachel was an enjoyable challenge.  That said, Rachel totally squashed me, so there may have to be a rematch in our near future…

  • 100 copies of Weinhandler.

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I played this one with the team. Generally speaking, I try to avoid playing games with them. It’s bad for morale, as I tend to viciously destroy all who stand against me.

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(This is the expression I make when I’m destroying all who oppose me.)

The fact that I won wasn’t particularly surprising. That’s just the natural order of things. What surprised me was how much strategy there was compared to the simplicity of the rules. What’s more, it’s a nice small box, so it can travel easy.

The fact that it’s a relatively brief game is nice too. After our first play-through, we decided to try it again with five people instead of three.

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(Brett is being rules monkey.)

And because I know they’ll point it out in the comments if I don’t admit to it here. Yes. It’s true. I didn’t win the second game.

* * *

So there you go, 1100 new games added to the Worldbuilders lottery. So when you donate make sure you remember to let us know what sort of stuff you’d like to win:

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If you’d like to see the other stuff you can win in the lottery, including thousands of books, many of them rare, signed, or otherwise fancy, you can head over to the blog where I list all the donations and explain what Worldbuilders is.

Or, if you’ve heard enough and want to make the world a better place while winning cool prizes, you can make your tax-deductible donation directly to Heifer International over here.

See you later space cowboys…

Posted in gaming, Worldbuilders 2014 | By Pat15 Responses

A Familiar Story About a Well-Loved Book

Over the last two weeks, authors, publishers and fans have been sending us box after box of signed books, cool games, and geeky miscellany have been showing up at WB headquarters. So many new items it’s caused a bit of a problem: There’s no way we can show all of it off in the five days remaining in the fundraiser.

It’s a good problem to have, but it’s still a problem.

I talked things over with the Worldbuilders team, and they’ve said they’re willing to put in the extra hours. So we’re going to extend the fundraiser for one more week. Seven extra days will give us enough time to process and organize these new donations, then show them off to proper effect.

That means the new end date will be December 15, 11:59pm. 

And now a story about a familiar friend….

* * *

If you’ve been following Worldbuilders for the last couple years, you probably know about this:

It’s a book that has been with the fundraiser since the beginning….

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. 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 would raise 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 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 could 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 show up as a surprise on someone’s 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.

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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.

Then Maayan sent it back to us again.

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

2013: Stardust In the Lottery Again.

Last year, Stardust chose a new person to love. It chose Jennifer.

She was overjoyed, happy to have won it, and just as happy to return it.

We sent her a care package full of goodies as a thank you.

And this year, we had a cool idea – we’ve instituted a Library Card system for the Stardust ARC.

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When I was a kid, every single library book had one of these. Even now, all these years later, the sight of one fills me with an indescribable joy.

Neil graciously agreed to sign the library cards for us.

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What’s more, we are currently having all the previous winners signing the cards and passing them after keeping one for themselves of course (or two, in the case of Maayan).

That means this year, if the winner chooses to return the book, they will still have a keepsake to remember it by: signed by all the people who have loved the book before them, and the original donor, Neil Gaiman.

So, without further ado allow me to add today’s book to the lottery.

  • A numbered, 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 the Worldbuilders team page, you have a chance of winning not only this book, but hundreds upon hundreds of other books and game donated by authors, publishers, collectors and fans.

Every $10 you donate gets you a chance to win. So if you donate enough for honeybees ($30) you get three chances to win. Donate enough for a goat along with the training and materials to care for it ($120) and you get twelve chances to win. Donate enough to provide clean water for a village ($300) you get 30 chances to win.

And if that wasn’t enough by itself, this year Neil has agreed to do an Act of Whimsy, too. When we reach $600,000, he’s going to read a book for us, and if you donate, you get to vote on what he’s going to read.

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So far, the voting is pretty close, but there is a title in the lead:

#NeilReads 12.2

Where the Wild Things Are and Jabberwocky were tied earlier in the week, but since then Jabberwocky has re-taken the lead.

For those of you who feels strongly one way or the other, we made Facebook cover photos for each team you might be interested. So, if you’re Team Jabberwocky, Team Wild Things, Team Goodnight Moon, or Team Fox in Socks, you can let your geek flag fly on and promote it with the hope of converting your friends to your cause.

Thanks for being the greatest, people. Let’s make these last days count.

Posted in Neil Gaiman, Worldbuilders 2014 | By Pat24 Responses

Delightful Miscellany

We’re getting closer to the end of the fundraiser, and things are starting to speed up. As I write this, we’re at 383,000 dollars, and we’ve been unlocking new stretch goals at an incredible rate.

If you haven’t been keeping up, you can access them all here:

Remember, if you donate on our main page, you move us toward future stretch goals and have a chance to win all manner of books, games, and other cool things in the lottery.

Cool things like these:

  • Copper Goats from Esoteric Garage.

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Earlier in the fundraiser we auctioned off a set of copper goat paperweights, based on the Worldbuilders logo.

Tait from Esoteric Garage was kind enough to send along 4 more, so we’re putting them in the lottery. Just don’t tell Amanda, because when I take that one away from her, I think she’s going to cry.

*     *     *

Everything else in today’s blog is up for auction. And pretty much everything we have in here is either one-of-a-kind, or so rare as to be virtually unique.

  • Auction: Cameo appearance in an upcoming book by April White.

AprilWhite

April’s been donating to the fundraiser for a couple of years now, and this year she’s also thrown her hat in for a tuckerization. Here’s how she described it:

“In a world where Time, Fate, Nature, War and Death are Immortal, and their Descendants have skills that include time travel, shape-shifting, and visions of the future, the winning bidder of this Tuckerization will have a character named for them in two of the Immortal Descendant books.

In book three, Changing Nature, which will be published in January, 2015, their character will be named as among the mysteriously missing mixed-blood Immortal Descendants. In book four, Waging War (to be published in the Summer, 2015), the character will continue as part of a storyline set in modern times, and will involve at least one interaction with main characters.”

If this sounds awesome to you (and it should) bid over here.

Mary Robinette Kowal

Hugo-award winning author Mary Robinette Kowal will tuckerize your name into a forthcoming piece of fiction. What does this mean? It means that she will work your name into a story or novel depending on what your name is and which project it seems to fit best into. She’ll also send you a signed manuscript before publication. So it’s like a literary twofer.

Bid on it in all its goodness over here.

  • Auction: Kvothe’s green linen shirt from The Wind Comes cosplay stretch goal. Handmade by Mary Robinette Kowal.

MaryAsKvothe

This is something of a specialty item. Mary Robinette Kowal handmade this and the rest of her costume that she wore when she came up to read her Name of the Wind erotica with me.

There are some more detailed images of the shirt, taken while she was making it. She tweeted them while she worked on it, and we borrowed a few of them for the auction listing if you’d like to see them.

The shirt looks awesome, and Mary wore it well because she’s classy like that. Now it can be all yours. Bid on it over here.

  • Auction: A ukulele doodled and signed by Hank Green.

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We offered 10 of these in the summer IndieGoGo. Amanda gushed and groaned over it, never taking the time to  buy one for herself because she didn’t think it was fair of her to nab one when they were so limited, and someone who would love it might miss out on it purely because Amanda saw it first.

I, however, did not have such qualms.

This is the one I personally bought. The folks over at the Nerd Nighters coordinated with me to buy one for Amanda, and she loves it with a powerful and deep love.

That kind of love and devotion can be a part of your life, too, if you bid on it here.

  • Auction: A personalized sketch from Karen Hallion.

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Karen has agreed to auction off a commissioned personalized sketch for whoever wins this auction, after the last auction did so well. You’ll be able to get any character of your choice meeting up with the beloved police box.

You know you want it. Bid on it over here.

  • AuctionShane Tyree will create art based on your likeness. 

Kilvin Card

Shane’s a great artist, and has done the art for the NOTW playing cards, as well as the Commonwealth and Modegan decks for Pairs. He’ll draw you up proper, and then send you a signed 13″ x 17″ print of the final piece.

To become true art, bid over here.

  • Auction: A full set of the 7 Calamities from the Commonwealth Deck, printed and signed by Shane Tyree.

Calamities

Many of you already have the Commonwealth pairs deck we put on sale in the Tinker’s Packs. In this deck, the sevens are… significant. They’re the only number where each card has its own art. And if you play one of the variant rules, they’re the worst card in the deck to draw.

Shane has only printed 7 of each of these pieces of art. The winner of this auction will have one of those sets, so it’s going to be very, very rare. Bid on it before it’s too late.

Amber from Serpent’s Dance Designs has been donating jewelry to Worlbuilders for the last couple years. The first year, her Bookwyrm Pendant sold out before we managed to post the blog about it. Last year, we managed to auction off three unique designs from her.

This year, we’ve got nine. (That’s three threes, just so you know.) She swung by one of my signings on the Slow Regard tour,  then had me sign the backs of a few of the items so she could etch in my signature.

It should go without saying that these are all one-of-a-kind creations. But I’ll say it anyway: These are all one-of-a-kind. More pictures of each of these can be found if you follow the links below.

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In the same order as the pictures: Signed All the Truth in the World Pendant, Signed All Stories Are True Pendant, Signed You May Have Heard of Me Pendant, Etched Kvothe Pendant.

And more…

SerpentsDance_Round

In the same order as the pictures: All Stories are True Pendant, You May Have Heard of Me Pendant, Hatchling Dragon Pendant, Kvothe Profile Pendant.

And finally, the Ornament Package:

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A little Kvothe felt doll (with four pockets in his cloak) and a signed, etched Kvothe plate. This one’s available over here.

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Back during the Slow Regard of Silent Things tour event in Portland, I invited the Doubleclicks to open for me, and  they graciously allowed me to perform a song with them.

I failed pretty miserably, as I detailed a bit in the blog.

For their stretch goal this year, they’re letting me take a mulligan on my previous performance, I’m going to play with them again in a google hangout and try to get it right this time. Or at the very least I’ll get it marginally less wrong.

This is the keyboard I’ll be using. The Doubleclicks mailed it to us, and Angela and Aubrey have both signed it. (I’ll sign it too if you like.) If you’d like to own this glorious cat keyboard, this testament to my shame and redemption, you can bid on it over here.

  • Auction: Two tickets to the Heifer International Beyond Hunger event in Beverly Hills, CA, July or August 2015. Also in attendance: The Worldbuilders Team and Me.

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This is particularly exciting. Every year Heifer throws a swank dinner event, and this year they’re bringing me and some of the Worldbuilders team out so that we can join the fun, as well as hang out with some of our favorite people from Heifer.

This event is incredibly posh. It’s formal attire only, and lots of Hollywood celebrities will be there. The dates aren’t set yet, but as soon as they are we’ll contact you and let you know where to be and when. Hopefully we’ll all be able to hang out a bit.

Full disclosure: This auction is just for tickets to the event. You’ll have to provide transportation yourself.

If this sounds like it’s up your alley, bid here for the chance to experience it.

* * *

There you have it folks. Bid early and bid often.

If you want to see ALL the current auctions running, you can head over here.

Posted in miscelany, Worldbuilders 2014 | By Pat8 Responses

So many Books from DAW

Today’s blog contains a LOT of books that are going into the lottery.

It’s not that we don’t enjoy doing things things like our Black Friday festivities, but the lottery is really the heart of Worldbuilders. We know you want to make the world a better place. So we just sweeten the deal a bit by giving you a chance to win cool stuff for every $10 you donate directly to Heifer International on our team page.

After all, only $30 gets a family the gift of Honeybees.

Improving Food Security and Nutrition of Coffee Farm Workers' Fa

Feliciana Martin  is a small-scale coffee farmer. Her acre farm barely supported her and her daughter until she received the gift of honeybees from Heifer International in 2012.

Since then, Feliciana has seen a noticeable increase in her coffee harvest every year. She has also been able to collect and sell honey, providing her with additional income. As a bonus, coffee honey is believed to taste better than regular honey, so she is able to charge about 10 percent more.

Improving Food Security and Nutrition of Coffee Farm Workers' Fa

(Additional note: Now I *really* want to try coffee honey.)

She collected 60 pounds of honey in the first six months and doubled the number of hives she owns. Then she trained some neighbors on the proper care of bees and gave them hives to start them on their own road to increased independence. This is called “Passing on the Gift.” All Heifer recipients take part it, and it’s a big piece of what makes Heifer’s work so successful.

Martin dreams of a better life for her daughter. Now she can make that happen.

That’s what happens when you donate thirty bucks….

* * *

…well, that and you get the chance to win a ton of books like the ones we’re showing you today.

DAW is my publisher, and they’ve been a big supporter of Worldbuilders since the beginning. This year they’ve sent us many, *many* books. Hundreds and hundreds. Some are stand-alones. Some are full series…

And many of them are signed, like these from the lovely Seanan McGuire….

  • The Toby Daye series: Rosemary and Rue, A Local HabitationAn Articifical NightLate EclipsesOne Salt SeaAshes of Honor, and Chimes at Midnight. All signed by Seanan McGuire.

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“Well researched, sharply told, highly atmospheric and as brutal as any pulp detective tale, this promising start to a new urban fantasy series is sure to appeal to fans of Jim Butcher or Kim Harrison.” – Publishers Weekly

  • Set of the InCryptid series: Discount ArmageddonMidnight Blue-Light SpecialHalf-Off Ragnarok. All signed by Seanan McGuire.

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“Mixing mythology and monster lore (plus a good helping of snark), Discount Armageddon is fast-paced, funny and boasts a salty-sweet heroine who can cha-cha, foxtrot, and kick ass––or any combination thereof––while she sprints her way across the rooftops of Manhattan, policing and protecting the denizens of New York City’s supernatural community.” – Amber Benson

  • Set of Sparrow Hill Road ARC and a cover flat. Both signed by Seanan McGuire.

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“This is the first in what we hope will be a long series about those who walk the ghost roads from the marvelous McGuire, who writes like a dream and creates wonderful, complex, sympathetic characters like Rose and then places them in peril.” – Library Journal

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A lovely standalone historical fantasy which starts with the twelfth-century alchemists and ends up in modern-day New York. I tell you folks like Stephen that work with real history, weaving it into their fantasies… they kinda amaze me. I don’t have it in me to do that kinda research. I just prefer to make everything up…

“Leigh strikes the perfect balance between past and present, real and imagined” – Publishers Weekly

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“This beautifully told, painfully elegant story should appeal to fans of L.E. Modesitt’s realistic fantasies as well as of the period fantasy of Guy Gavriel Kay.” – Library Journal

  • The Green Rider series: Green Rider, First Rider’s Call, The High King’s Tomb, Blackveil and Mirror Sight by Kristen Britain. Mirror Sight is a signed, first edition in all sets.

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“A fresh, well-organized fantasy debut, with a spirited heroine and a reliable supporting cast.” – Kirkus Reviews

  • Auction: Hardcover copies of the Green Rider series: Green RiderFirst Rider’s CallThe High King’s TombBlackveil and Mirror Sight by Kristen Britain. All include a signed bookplate, and Mirror Sight is a signed, first edition.

green rider series

We got so many complete sets here that we’ve put one up for auction. The fifth book in the series, Mirror Sight arrived as a signed first edition, so we were eager to share it with the folks who might want it most.

If this tickles your fancy, you can bid over here.

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“Bedford builds a taut story around the dangers of a new world, the Ecolibrians’ distrust, and treachery from Ari and Ben’s home office. Readers who crave high adventure and tense plots will enjoy this voyage into the future.” – Publishers Weekly

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“A real page-turner…. Outstanding characters, especially Mags, will greatly please Valdemar fans.” – Booklist

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“Friedman skillfully blends science fiction and fantasy elements, tying them together with fairy tales and solid worldbuilding.” – Publishers Weekly

  • Auction: The Coldfire Trilogy: Black Sun Rising, When True Night Falls and Crown of Shadows. All include a signed bookplate from C.S. Friedman.

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“Hauntingly memorable protagonists, high drama, and vivid world-building mark the beginning of what promises to be a magnum opus of the imagination. A priority purchase for fantasy or sf collections.” – Library Journal

These are some seriously beautiful books, and all three have a signed bookplate, making them even cooler. To bid, check out the eBay listing over here.

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“Magic operating along scientifically testable principles: Palmatier exploits an active imagination to good effect, with characters who develop along with the story… Fantasy regulars looking for a fresh series with real bite should find it worth a try” – Kirkus Reviews

  • Sets of the Queen of the Dead series: Silence and Touch by Michelle Sagara.

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“Brilliant storyteller Sagara heads in a new direction with her Queen of the Dead series. She does an excellent job of breathing life into not only her reluctant heroine, but also the supporting players in this dramatic and spellbinding series starter … Do not miss out!” – RT Book Reviews

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“For a book all about dead things, this novel is alive with great characters and a twisty, scary-funny story that teaches you not to tango with too much necromancy. My favorite book this year, bar none.” – Chuck Wendig

  • Sets of the Night’s Edge series: A Turn of Light and A Play of Shadow by Julie E. Czerneda.

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“A Turn of Light is a gorgeous creation. Julie Czerneda’s world and characters are richly layered and wonderful—full of mystery, hope and, most of all, heart. Come spend some time in Marrowdell. It’s worth the journey.” – Anne Bishop

  • Auction: First edition copy of The Dirty Streets of Heaven. Includes a bookplate signed by Tad Williams.

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I’ve gushed more than once about how good this book is. I’ve mentioned it in the blog and on Goodreads.

So yeah, I’d say this auction is worth it. It’s a book I wholeheartedly recommend, and getting your hands on a signed first edition copy is even cooler.

If you want it, bid over here.

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“It’s a provocative world of deadly enchantment in which the dirty game of politics remains the biggest threat of all.” – Locus

  • Auction: One of Everything Published in 2014.

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(Click to embiggen the awesome)

DAW really brought the big guns this year. This set of everything they published in 2014 has over 50 books in it, and we’re auctioning it off for the giant sci-fi/fantasy geeks out there. I’ll sign my book for you too. It’s the little blue one in the bottom righthand corner….

If you want this epic book collection, grab it here.

  • BONUS: One set of one of  everything published in 2014 will be entered into the lottery.

AllTheBooks

That’s right folks, DAW sent us TWO full sets of everything they published in 2014 so we could put one up in the the lottery, too. Over fifty beautiful books, including a rather charming little blue-covered tome I’m fairly proud of.

*     *     *

So there you have it. Go to the team page and donate. $30 bucks will get bees for a farmer, (and three chances to win in the lottery) 120 dollars gets a family a goat and everything they need to care for it. (And twelve chances to win.) $500 dollars gets a Heifer… and I’m sure you can do the math.

The important thing is that your donation will make a lasting impact on the lives of people for for years to come, and you’ll have the chance to win some really, SERIOUSLY awesome stuff in the process.

Posted in Worldbuilders 2014 | By Pat11 Responses
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