I just had an unexpectedly harrowing experience on the internet.
While I like to think that I’m immune to clickbait, occasionally I leave the high road and tumble gracelessly down into the muddy ditch where I roll around with all the giddy enthusiasm of a dog who’s just found a particularly feculent turd.
(Pat pauses for a moment, looking up at the sentence he just wrote, and thinks that sometimes, just maybe, he should dial the vividity of his phraseologer down from 11.)
Anyway, I stumbled onto the following webpage the other day. I can’t even remember how.
So I think, Okay, sure. I’ll vote in your little poll. I am wise in the ways of the geek. I have opinions.
The thing is set up as a series of X vs. Y pairings, and you have to vote for one or the other.
The first couple were easy. Obviously Felicia Day beats Peter Jackson. Obviously Johnathan Coulton beats out JJ Abrams. Tina Fey trumps Shatner.
You also have the option to skip voting on a particular pairing. This was first useful when I was given two people I’d never heard of before, a cosplayer and a voice actor. Rather than vote blind, you’re able to just shrug and get a completely new random pairing.
But I didn’t realize how essential the skip button was until this happened:
I saw this, and a gear slipped in my brain. How could I possibly pick? The author of the second comic I’d ever read as an adult (Watchmen). The guy who Promethia. Top Ten. Tom Strong. V for Vendetta. Someone whose work has honesty changed my perception of comic art if not storytelling as a whole. Plus, y’know, wizard.
On the other hand we have Wil: creator of Tabletop, which is a force for good in the world. Co-founder of Wootstock, a source of persistent joy in my life. The actor that played Westley Crusher, a character that made my life suck a little less as a kid. Someone who regularly speaks truth to power, and a damn fine author in his own right….
It was a flabbergasting choice. It’s not like comparing apples and oranges. It’s like comparing sex and videogames. I had to skip that matchup.
Then this happened:
When I saw this, my soul made the sound of ultimate suffering. I think I actually shouted at the screen. “Don’t make me choose!”
As the poll continues, it winnows out the people you don’t know pretty quickly. Then it gets rid of the people you don’t care for. With a little more difficulty you leave behind geek celebs you are merely fond of.
Then it starts to become excruciating. You are forced to make choices no sane person would ever willingly make.
Still the grindstone turns until you are finally confronted with something like this.
Don’t. Just don’t.
So. If you want to plumb the depths of your own personal geeky faith, go ahead and check it out. I think the voting ends today.
Edit: Monday July 21st. I just googled “Sophie’s Choice” because while I knew what it meant, I didn’t know the actual etymology of the phrase.
I don’t think I would have used it as the title of this post if I’d known the original referent.
So it was Monday the 14th, the last day of our experimental IndieGoGo fundraiser.
Things were going better than we’d expected. We were already at $125,000 on Monday morning. And because of generous geeks donating and spreading the word, we’d been raising about $5,000 dollars hour all day.
Around 5:00 PM at the temple, Maria refreshed the page and said, “$170,000!”
We’d just finished up a meeting, so the whole team was there. She looked at us. “I think we’re going to beat $200,000,” she said. Her voice was nervous, excited, but pretty sure of herself. Confident.
I felt obliged to be the voice of reason. Everyone was really excited in the office because we were having an amazing day. But I didn’t want them to set their expectations so high they’d be disappointed. That would be a huge shame, especially as the fundraiser was already an incredible success.
“Things tend to slow down in the evening,” I said. “People are eating dinner and watching TV. They aren’t checking their social media as much.”
I juggled numbers in my head and tested my gut. My team is good, but I’ve been doing this for twice as long as any of them. “I’m confident we’ll hit 180,” I said. “But I’d be surprised if we hit 190. I’d be honestly startled and amazed if we hit 200.”
Looking around, I could tell I’d let the wind out of their sails a bit. I felt like kind of a dick. It sucks being the voice of reason sometimes.
“Don’t get me wrong,” I said. “Y’all have been awesome. This whole thing was an experiment. If we’d only hit $50,000, it would have been a huge success. We blew it out of the water.”
Maria looked at me. It wouldn’t be fair to say that she gave me a rebellious look. It wasn’t really even a stubborn look. Her expression was… pugnacious. “When we hit 200K,” she said, gesturing dramatically. “You’re going to buy me a chocolate malt!”
Her enthusiasm was infectious. Maria radiates optimism. It’s part of the reason I love her.
“I will,” I said, smiling. “If we hit $200,000. I will buy everyone chocolate malts.”
There was a cheer in the office. Everyone loves it when you stand up to the boss.
I came home and made a few more posts on twitter and facebook. Then I tried to catch up on some e-mail, hampered slightly by the fact that I was refreshing the IndieGoGo page about every four minutes.
Much to my amazement, our momentum didn’t slow. The total climbed and climbed.
By the end of the fundraiser, we’d raised $205,000.
Have I said thank you yet?
Thank you. You have startled and amazed me with your awesome.
Thank you. You have reaffirmed my belief that people are inherently good.
* * *
Today, because Maria was right, I took the Worldbuilders team to get chocolate malts.
(Cutie isn’t part of the team, so he didn’t get any.)
If you can’t tell, the mood was giddy with exhaustion and good endorphins. The team really pulled together for this fundraiser. They deserved their tasty beverages.
(Even the monkey. Especiallythe monkey.)
In most important ways, this was their fundraiser, not mine. They planned it. Wrote up the product descriptions. They figured out IndieGoGo and promotions and production and fulfillment.
I mention this because it’s behind the scenes, so you would never see it. Events like this resemble an iceberg, you glimpse the the top and think, “Wow, that’s cool.” You support the cause, order something, and receive a package.
And while the top of the iceberg is pretty cool (heh) there’s a lot going on underneath the water that keeps it all afloat.
This time, for the first time, the *vast* majority of that didn’t have anything to do with me. Not only was I not doing it myself. I wasn’t even looking over their shoulders and giving advice.
I couldn’t this time, as I’ve been neck deep in revisions.
There were times I’d come into the office, wild eyed and sleep deprived. Irritable and absolutely burned out because I’d spent the last 30 hours going over copy edits. We’d sit down to a meeting and I’d say something like, “We need to make sure we contact X about the [thing].”
“We already did that,” they would say.
“Okay,” I said. “We also need to be careful [some other thing] doesn’t happen.”
“Taken care of,” they’d say.
“And we need to make sure blah blah blah.”
“That’s a good idea,” they’d say.
“Who’s going to be in charge of that?” I’d ask.
“We did it last week,” they’d say.
I can’t tell you guys how amazing this is. How important it is.
I love Worldbuilders. It’s my baby. But over the last five years it’s devoured a significant portion of my life.
It’s eaten so much of my life that sometimes there’s not enough life left to go around. Sometimes I’ve been too busy and too stressed to be a good dad. It’s impinged on my writing schedule. I’ve lost touch with friends. I gave up tabletop games for the most part. Hell, I haven’t played a computer game or watched a movie in the theaters in I don’t know how long. Since… the last superman movie? Yeah. I guess that makes it more than a year.
The truth is, I’ve let go of these things willingly. Worldbuilders is important. I’m proud of it. It changes lives and quantifiably improves the world. I could never give it up.
But for the last couple years I’ve been dreaming a dream. I’ve been dreaming of having Worldbuilders, a writing career, and a life.
Now it’s starting to look like that might happen. Because of all you lovely people out there and because of the Worldbuilders Team.
So. Milkshakes all around. Everyone loves it when the boss is wrong. Sometimes the Boss loves it too.
* * *
We didn’t do a lot of stretch goals with this fundraiser, mostly because the timeframe was so tight.
But we did do a few.
Fundraiser blooper reel.
I have to say the fundraiser video we put together was my favorite video we’ve ever done. Even if it did feature me being constantly upstaged by a monkey puppet.
As if the regular fundraiser video wasn’t great enough, we put together an outtakes reel which features much, much more of me and the monkey puppet.
Before you watch it, I need you to understand that before filming the video, I’d spent four days locked away with the manuscript of Slow Regard of Silent Things, making final edits and generally working myself down to a bloody nub. I went to bed around 10:00 AM, then woke up four hours later to go shoot the video. I was simply speaking, a shambling wreck.
That’s my only excuse.
During our Reddit AMA I tricked Amanda into committing to help me get the rest of the photo contest blogs done:
So we’re making a push to get those done too.
Freebies in your orders.
Because we hit our stretch goal of $110k, we’re throwing freebies into random orders.
Originally we were going to do this for 1 in 100 orders. But since the fundraiser was such a *huge* success, we’ve decided to do twice as many as that. We’ll be throwing in Magnets, notes from the team, games, coins, and other coolness. There will probably even be a extra few fancy things, just to make it interesting.
Well, we’re in the last couple days of our experimental fundraiser, and things are going remarkably well.
As I write this, we’re cresting over $80,000 dollars in our experimental mid-season fundraiser, and I couldn’t be happier. There have been a few bumps on the road, but so far everything has been going amazingly well.
Today we have several pieces of news, and a bunch of new items we’re throwing into the fundraiser.
Let’s lead off with the big news:
Signed copies of Slow Regard of Silent Things
We weren’t sure we’d be able to offer these, because I didn’t want to step on my publisher’s toes. But we just got the thumbs up to put them into the fundraiser.
Edit: To answer a question that’s come up a couple times: Yes, these will be first editions of the book.
1. Ordering the book here doesn’t mean you’ll get it sooner than anyone else. We’ll be shipping these out the day before publication, so the soonest they’ll arrive is on the pub date itself.
2. On the other hand, we will be printing some special foil stickers for the front of the book. They’ll say something like, “Patrick Rothfuss thinks I’m awesome.” or “Geeks doing good.”
3. There are two different options over in the IndieGoGo. The 45 dollar level is for folks in the US, the 65 dollar level is for international shipping.
4. I’m going to be completely honest with you. Odds are, you’ll be able to buy signed copies of the book cheaper cheaper than this.
Not only will I be doing a little tour when the book comes out, but there will be many stores with access to signed copies. You’ll probably be able to find a nice signed copy for yourself online for pretty close to the cover price of the book.
So why would you buy a copy from us here? Well… maybe you’ve got a thing for shiny stickers. Maybe seeing the donation total of the fundraiser rise makes joy well up in your chest. Maybe you’re hoping we hit some of our stretch goals (You’ll see those down in the blog later.)
Anyway. I wanted you to know this was an option now.
In other news, coloring.
A couple days ago, the I brought Oot over to the Worldbuilders office and we all took some time to appreciate the little things in life.
Specifically, we took our coloring book through some beta testing.
It occurred to me that y’all haven’t actually seen very many pages from the coloring book. Allow me to fix that:
This one’s my personal favorite. I’m sure you can get the reference.
We are, in fact, all mad here. As you can see by some of the pages we colored.
Kat did the one on the left. Brett and Maria did the one on the right. The middle picture is the same as the t-shirt:
That one Oot and I colored together. Looking at the picture, he said, “I think Mr. Whiffle is deciding to be a good guy.” So I wrote that in the corner and we both signed it.
Just for fun, we’ve thrown up these three colored pages up in the fundraiser too. We’re going to slide the other pages the team colored into the coloring books people order, just so you can feel better about your own ability to say within the lines.
If you get mine, I hope you put it on your fridge.
It was a lot of fun. If you’ve never been in a room full of adults coloring before, you honestly don’t know what you’re missing.
It does help having at least one kid around, and someone with a monkey puppet, if you can find one.
There was a surprising amount of competition, as well as a rather heated debate about what color the Doctor’s jacket should be.
Since I was at Worldbuilders HQ with my boy, I decided to show him the Bast-Off cards we’re selling for the special edition of Rogues. And, since we had the crayons out, I asked him if he’d like to draw a few as well.
Just in case there was any doubt, mine is the one on the right. Oot’s Bast had a serious case of crazy arms, but Oot gave him a speech bubble to make up for it.
It was kinda nice to draw a few of these with my boy, as drawing next to Brett’s Illustrations has been a little… intimidating.
We’ve decided to throw these up in the IndieGoGo too, because some folks were asking if they could buy them through the fundraiser instead of the store. We put up a few of Oot’s attempts at Bast too. Just in case some of you are *really* into crayon.
A few other things we’ve put up in the last couple days:
Kvothe’s court rings from Vintas, designed by Badali Jewelry
I would like to point out that Badali actually went out of their way to make an iron ring. That’s not something that’s very easy to find….
More E’lir sets of Cealdish Currency
I was hording a few, but the team encouraged me to give them up for the cause.
Copies of Unfettered, signed by several of the authors
Handcrafted Solid copper dice from Esoteric Garage.
Legend of Neil DVDs signed by Felicia Day, Tony Janning, and Sandeep Parikh.
There’s a bunch of other new stuff in there too: Alice in Wonderland cards, New Magnets, Badali’s new Dresden Files shield bracelet….
(They’re so new, we’re only allowed to show you the teaser photos…)
Oh. I forgot, I wanted to show off another page of the calendar, too.
I hope everyone had a lovely Fourth of July, whether you did it in a big national holiday way or not.
Despite a crushing deadline, I took the time to head downtown with Oot to watch the fireworks this year. We ate fair food, listened to music, and I bought him one of those cheap plastic toys someone’s always selling at events like these. It cost me $10, but I thought that was worth it to see a bit of joy on my child’s face.
I clearly wasted my money.
Pretty much as soon as I bought this thing, I realized my ten dollars would have been much better spent if I’d given it to Worldbuilders. Ten bucks can change someone’s life forever if you spend it in the right way….
That said, let’s be honest here: Everyone likes making the world a better place, but sometimes it’s nice to get something cool for your ten bucks, too.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could buy something cool AND make the world a better place?
Yeah. I think so too, which is why we’re trying something a little experimental this year with Worldbuilders. We’re firing up an IndieGoGo Fundraiser that’s only going to last a week. You can come in, buy something fun, then sleep well at night, content in the knowledge that the money is going to a good cause.
We’re doing this with IndieGoGo because, unlike kickstarter, they allow non-profits to do fundraising.
Also, unlike kickstarter, they allow you to buy things at more than one pledge level. And I’m thinking a fair number of you are going to be tempted into multiple purchases.
What do we have? Well I’m glad you asked….
Princess and Mr. Whiffle Coloring Book
Nate Taylor did special doodles on the inside of all of the lettered editions of the second Princess and Mr. Whiffle book. Nate really went above and beyond for them, doing full page inked illustrations, where a lesser man might have been content with just doing a little sketch.
When I saw the art, I loved it and wanted to share it around. When someone in the office suggested we compile them into a coloring book, we jumped on the idea.
These guys actually travel to Kenya and Mexico to harvest their own coffee, literally picking them bean by bean with the farmers in the area. Then they bring it back to the Stevens Point area and roast it. Seriously.
They’ve given us our own special blend of coffee to sell off: Tinker’s Blend. You can grab some with or without a matching Worldbuilders Mug.
Mystery Book Bundles.
There are two different book bundles – one that collects books from each of the Prime Book Bundles we sold back in November, and one comprised entirely of new books.
This is one of the pieces of art Shane made for the Modegan Pairs deck in our most recent kickstarter. It shows the Grey Riders. They haven’t shown up in the books. Yet.
This poster is going to be signed by both Shane and myself. And we’re only going to be selling them here through this fundraiser.
So if you want one, you better grab it now….
The 2015 Calendar.
This year, we’re putting out a calendar full of Karen Hallion’s mash-up art. We’re still designing some of it, but this can be your official pre-order and chance to check it out. Once the calendar is fully finished and polished, we’re going to ship them out right away, so you’ll have them in time for the holidays.
It’s a 14-month calendar, including a bunch of the favorite princess and police box mashups, and a newly designed Kingkiller mashup. That’s one we’re not showing anyone for a good long while, so the best way to be sure you’ll have it early is to pre-order the calendar.
And much, much more!
For the first time ever, this sentence isn’t just BS marketing. We actually have a ton of other stuff over in the IndieGoGo. Too much stuff to show here without making this blog irrationally long.
You can head over there right now if you want…
One snag: one of the reasons we decided to go with IndieGoGo is that they accept PayPal, which was a concern for some folks that don’t have credit cards. The other reason, as I mentioned above, is that they allow non-profits to run campaigns.
What makes this even better, is that IndieGoGo gives us a big discount on the fees they normally charge for a project because we’re a non-profit.
But here’s the downside. Because we’re taking advantage of that discount, it turns out we can’t use PayPal after all. The two just don’t work together.
I know for some people outside of the US, credit cards aren’t an option, or they’re just unduly complicated. For those people, who absolutely can’t particpate unless we have PayPal, please feel free to email us at fundraiser [@] worldbuilders.org and we’ll work something out so you can buy what you want using paypal instead. Just tell us what item you’d want, and we’ll do our best.
If you want to check out all of the other things we’re selling (because there’s lots of it), head over and check it out. Our promo video is worth the watch, if nothing else.
There will also be a lot of opportunities to ask us questions on Reddit on Wednesday night. A few folks from the Worldbuilders Team and I will be there, doing an AMA starting around 6pm. We might even be joined by some of the cool geeky celebs that have kicked things into the campaign…
Not to let the cat out of the bag early here, but I figured I’d share what we having coming up on July 7th with those of you who make a habit of reading the blog.
Maybe this is a little silly, but I think of y’all… I don’t know really. I don’t want to say something like “core readership” because if you start using phrases like “core readership” then odds are you’re not far from using the word “utilize” instead of “use.” After that you’re only a few steps from enthusiastically using the term ‘synergy’ in regular conversation. And once that happens… well… it’s just a ever-tightening spiral until the end.
So while I don’t know what to call y’all exactly, I do think of the people who read this blog as the readers I know best, as I do make an effort to read the comments you write here. I also think of you guys as the folks that know *me* best, as you take the time to read through my great rambling bloggings.
By the way, have I mentioned that Cutie Snoo has just started to crawl? He’s wobbly as a youtube kitten. But when he sees something he wants to grab and stick in his gob, no amount of tipping over or face-planting will deter him. Seriously, the raw determination he possesses is really astounding.
In other cute-kid news, tonight I was feeling a little down. So I asked Oot if he would like to cuddle. He did, so we curled up on the couch. Then, while telling me a story he thrashed around dramatically and kicked me right in the nuts.
It was one of those good, sharp kicks. Where you’re given a moment of pain-free grace in which to think: I’m pretty sure he got me. But it doesn’t actually *hurt.* Maybe he just grazed them. Maybe….
And then, just when you start to really hope, the pain slowly blossoms. Like a lump of raw nausea forged from dull red iron.
I didn’t freak out on him. He didn’t mean to do it. He was just being a kid, and it was an accident.
Besides, years ago I worked out how to deal with these situations: Every time he kicks me in the nuts, I just make a note of it. Then, when he turns 16, gets his license, and asks to borrow the car, I’m going to say “no.” I’m going to say “no” once for every time he’s kicked me in the nuts.
At this point, he won’t be able to borrow the car until he’s 35.
Sleep tight you innocent little fucker. Someday you’ll have kids, and they’ll kick you square in the junk and I will laugh and laugh and laugh.
Anyway, back to business. The upcoming festivities.
On the 7th we’re doing something new with Worldbuilders. An experiment of sorts.
As most of you know, we tend to run a big fundraiser at the end of the year. We raise money for Heifer International by running a big lottery, some auctions, and occasionally selling things in the Tinker’s Packs.
This year, we’re trying something a little different. Instead of waiting a whole year, we’re going to do another smaller fundraiser here in July. Instead of having it last for a month, it’s only going to be one week long. Instead of having a big lottery and auctions, we’re going to be running it as an IndiGogo Campaign. So if you see something and think it’s awesome, you can just buy it. (As opposed to hoping you win it in the lottery, or bidding on it in an auction.)
The Worldbuilders Team has been putting this together for a couple months now, and we’re going to have some cool stuff in there: Book Bundles, a new T-shirt, a Princess and Mr. Whiffle coloring book. AND we’re launching the 2015 calendar. Probably my favorite calendar we’ve done so far….
We’ve got cool stuff. Scads of it.
But, as always happens when you’re trying something for the first time, I’m getting a little nervous.
For one thing, we don’t really have a good name for it yet. The Worldbuilders Mid-Year Indigogo Geektastic Fundraiser doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.
The other thing I’m a little nervous about is whether or not we’re going to be able to effectively spread the word about the fundraiser in this time frame. The entire thing is only going to be a week long….
Do you guys have any good ideas about what we might be able to call this? (And yes, I’m aware of the irony involved in my asking for help in giving something a name.)
Also, do y’all have any bright ideas about how we might be able to spread the word?
Ideas welcome in the comments below. Or, if you’d like to offer a particular type of help, you can contact us on the Worldbuilders page.
Over the years, I’ve been described as the next Tolkien, the next Scott Lynch, the next George Martin…. And while it’s flattering, I’d really rather be the first Pat Rothfuss. I have much more experience being that.
Now that I post up these three links, I realize they’re all lists of some sort. Which makes me feel kinda awful. My only saving grace is that I didn’t find these by clicking through horrible clickbait websites. (You’ll never believe what these authors did! Number 5 will surprise you!)
Speaking of, have you seen The Onion’s new parody site? Clickhole?
I laughed my ass off at the original episode, but the game was edited down considerably to get it to be 35 minutes long.
If you were ever curious to see how the whole thing played out in detail. If you ever wanted more owlbear jokes. If you ever wanted to watch my terrifying strategy unfold like a delicate flower made entirely of razor wire and the screams of angels….
(That was a rhetorical question. I was going to show it to you no matter what…)
Edit: As the comments below mention, the above cover is not actually the French cover. This is:
(I’m sure you can see how I made the mistake at four in the morning.)
It’s a hard thing for me, letting go of a manuscript. Other authors are very matter of fact about it. But for me, obsessive word tinker than I am, I hate knowing that after a certain point I won’t be able to go in and fix things any more. That means the time leading up to my deadline tends to be an endless white-hot madness of intense, obsessive work.
So the last two days have consisted of me catching up on my sleep and trying to remember exactly what it is that I *do* when I’m not obsessively revising 14 hours a day.
I know it was pretty bad because when I came home tonight my little boy said to me: “You know Dad, you just got done with a deadline.” He said the last word with special emphasis. “And deadlines are a *lot* of work.”
It made me smile, not only because he’s cute as a button. But because it’s always nice to get some sympathy.
But it also let me know that he and Mom had had a talk about deadlines. Which probably meant he had gone to her with questions like, “Why don’t I ever see dad any more?” and “How come daddy falls asleep every time he sits down?”
Anyway, now that I’m at least slightly recovered, I get to start catching up on some things that I’ve been putting off.
Like posting the thank-you video from last year’s Worldbuilders fundraiser.
Before you watch it, I’d just like to thank everyone involved. We blew the top of things this last year, and your generosity has changed thousands of lives….
Wait, rather than type all of this out, I’m going just put up the video. There’s no real sense in me saying thank you before the thank-you video, is there?
Also, even all those wonderful people can mess things up sometimes, so we’ve got the usual blooper reel as well.
Honestly, I make much better bloopers than I do raw video….
Thanks for being awesome everybody.
And if you missed out on last year’s fundraiser. Or if watching that video made you eager for the next one to start. Well… we’ve got a little surprise coming up in a couple of weeks. We’re going to be trying something a little different early in July.
So keep an eye out for that.
P.S. Yes. I’m an inveterate tease. You should all know that by now….