Author Archives: Pat

Wyrmwood Gaming: The Prophecy Gaming Table

I’m guessing if you read my blog, you’ve heard of Wyrmwood Gaming before.

They’re the ones who have produced the high-end Tak sets we’ve made. Both the ones in the initial kickstarter, the travel sets we have in the Tinker’s packs, and the one-of-a-kind set pictured above that’s currently up for grabs in the fundraiser’s prize lottery where every $10 bucks gets you a chance to win among thousands of games and books.

I love them with a fierce love, which is why we’ve done so much with them, including, for example, the wooden poker chip sets we did in our recent playing card Kickstarter.

But I’m not here to tell you about the cool stuff they’ve done in the past.

No. I’m here to tell you how cool they are right now…

*      *      *

About a week and a half ago, I went to PAX unplugged where I met up with some friends, played some D&D, and just generally mucked about and had a good time.

I stopped by the Wyrmwood booth too, because, as I mentioned, I love them. I looked around at some of the new stuff they had for sale, chatted with some of the folks there, checked out the Tak set they had on display…

And then, off to one side of their booth, I saw this:

And here’s the thing. This is the point at which words fail me. This table. It was so beautiful. Not just that, it was amazingly well designed and engineered.

This is going to sound a little crazy. But I couldn’t stop touching it. I was there, chatting to the folks running the booth, and I realized that for the last 10 minutes I’d been obsessively running my hands over the table. Almost… well… kinda petting it.

But no. That actually undersells what was going on. I was caressing the table. I’m sorry to put it in those terms. But I was. I was caressing this table in a sensual and loving manner. And I could not find it within myself to stop.

I honestly don’t want to make this weird. But I don’t know how else to explain to you how much I fell in love with this table. How it looked and how it felt.

And then they showed me how it worked. How the recessed playing area could be raised and lowered. How they used rare-earth magnets to secure the drink holders. How the leaves that covered the table were not only tongue-and-groove, and not only held together with magnets, but it also has a rubber gasket so if you spill something it won’t leak through and ruin your game underneath!

God. s I’m typing this, I’m actually angry and sad and frustrated that I can’t accurately describe to you how amazing it was.

Here’s a picture they took of me when I was there.

(Look at my hands.)

How ginchy is this table? Let me tell it you. If a Unicorn were a gaming table, this is the table it would be. If you went to god’s house to play D&D, this is what you’d see. This is the Tesla of gaming tables. It’s the one table to rule them all.

This is the Lin-Manuel Miranda of gaming tables.

Anyway. While I was talking to them, creepily caressing their table, I thanked them for the donations that they had already made to this year’s fundraiser. And then I mentioned, using my best used-car salesman tones, that if they wanted to donate a table to Worldbuilders, I’d do a really good job of showing it off to the world.

And here’s the thing. They said yes.

 

*     *     *

Yeah. So as of right now, there is a Black Walnut Prophecy table in the Worldbuilders prize lottery. That means for every ten bucks you donate, you get a chance to win. (Not only the table, but over $150,000 of other books, games, and geeky swag we’re giving away.)

By the way, here’s a video that shows off the table at some length. You should really check it out.

Let me say it again: This Black Walnut Prophecy table is being added into the lottery for *anyone* to win who donates $10 or more, and selects “GAMES” as one of the items they’d like to win.

The winner, in addition to the table, will also get up to $500 worth of rail accessories of the their choice (in matching Black Walnut, this would be roughly 4 cup holders and 4 component collectors). The total retail value of all of this is $10,500. And, again, anyone who selects games as one of the types of things they’d like to win is eligible to win this table. You could donate $10 and still possibly win this.

Now, there’s some things to take note of.

First of all, this table would be fulfilled at the end of May 2019. Wyrmwood has already sold a bunch of these tables, and they can’t promise it would be done any sooner than that. You’d know you won it early next year (when Worldbuilders does the prize draw) but you’d be waiting until May 2019 for it to arrive.

Additionally, a $500 shipping credit will be applied. Which is to say, you’d be responsible for paying any additional shipping costs for delivery. See, this table is huge, and hefty. Solid wood craftsmanship is like that. And since we’re not limiting this prize to only people in North America, there’s a chance the shipping could cost a LOT of money.

When the winner is selected, we’ll reach out to be sure they’re willing and able to cover any additional shipping costs. If the winner declines, we’ll draw another name and a new winner will be chosen.

Believe me when I say, you want this table. If you’ve been holding out on donating, now’s the time to jump in, and maybe you’ll win.

And also, if you get the chance, can you show the folks at Wyrmwood a little love when you get the chance? They’ve really gone above and beyond with this donation, and they deserve some kudos.

Posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Arts and Crafts, Beautiful Games, cool news, geeking out, Worldbuilders 2017 | By Pat9 Responses

A sense of play: the Worldbuilders Starcraft Tournament

Last year as a part of our Worldbuilders fundraiser, the folks at Cards Against Humanity helped us put on a very-last-minute Overwatch Tournament.

It was a smashing success, and this year we decided to try something similar and have a 2v2 Starcraft Tournament.

Now first off, I’d like to make it clear that I did not pick the game. At first I thought we might be playing PUBG. Which I am hilariously bad at. Or maybe Rocket League, which I have never played at all.

But they picked the original Starcraft. A game I actually used to play back in the day. Back in the beforetimes. Back when you could even have considered me to be, in some small way, l33t.

Now I’m not saying I was the best at Starcraft or anything. But I *am* saying that I used to play against 3 AI opponents set to the highest level of difficulty. And I would win. I would win while laughing maniacally.

Admittedly, that was… oh sweet christ… More than 17 years ago. So there might have been some *minor* skill degradation since then.

What I’m really getting at here is that if I’m awesome at this game, I expect you to be really impressed and assume it’s because I’m possessed of nigh-godlike powers. But if I suck at it, it’s really not my fault. Can we agree to those terms?

Okay. Great. Good talk.

Last year we pitched our Tournament as kind of a Hunger Games style thing. Which is fairly appropriate, as we *are* combating hunger.

What’s more, we have ten teams, and each of them will have a donation page. (see below) All that money will be part of the Worldbuilders fundraiser, and 100% of it will get passed along to Heifer International. (Also, you’ll be entered into the Worldbuilders prize lottery, getting a chance to win cool swag for every $10 you kick in.)

The meta-game, if you will, is that each team will be trying to raise more money than their opponents. Fundraising will be incentivized by the simple fact that when each team goes head-to-head, the one that’s raised the most money (as of 10 minutes before the match starting) will get a tactical advantage over their opponent.

The other team will not get an advantage. Very much not. In fact, they will be exiled to the outer darkness, where they will doubtless wail and gnash their teeth in impotent rage.

Here’s our full list of the teams:

The links will take you to their pages where you can donate to support them (and, of course) feed hungry kids.

The tournament starts on Monday, December 4, with our first round of matches. Wednesday, December 6, will have the second round of matches and the Championship Game.

Even better, this tournament will have honest-to-goodness commentators hosting the full event from the Cards Against Humanity office studio. Pre-game talk will be beginning at 7:30pm CST both days, with the first matches of the night starting at 8pm CST.

Our commentators will be Chris Geiger and Mary Beth Smith of The Nerdologues, some real professional comedians, and they’ll be explaining what’s going on, as well as keeping you up to date on the funds raised and other interesting facts about Worldbuilders and the tournament in general.

You’ll be able to watch the entire thing on the Worldbuilders Twitch channel, and I’ll be rebroadcasting it on my channel as well. The first night is scheduled to run until about 11pm CST or so, and you’ll be able to pop into the twitch anytime and see the games or the hosts working their magic.

Below we have a lovely bracket graphic that breaks down the schedule, as well as shows you who all of our teams are in a more graphic sense, in case that is a little more up your alley than a bulleted list.

 

If you’ve never been on Twitch before, I’d encourage you to create an account (it’s free) so you can join the chat. (You can also follow my channel if you like, so you can catch me when I stream games, do Q&As, or have conversations with cool folks.)

Okay, that’s it. Donate to your favorite geeks team’s pages to make sure they have an unfair advantage during their melee. Join us next Monday and Wednesday to watch people blow each other to kingdom come. For charity.

Later Space Cowboys,

pat

Posted in Beautiful Games, Worldbuilders 2017 | By Pat14 Responses

Giving Tuesday: For the Love of Cows

As I type this, Worldbuilders has raised more than $279,000 dollars.

It’s also Giving Tuesday. And I’m going to be honest with you. Part of me really wants to be snarky about that. This year someone used the term “Thanksgiving Eve” around me, and I went on a tirade because no. No there is no such thing as that. We started with Thanksgiving. Then we got Black Friday and that was fine. Then there was small business Saturday and that was kinda okay. Because yay, small businesses…

But then there was Cyber Monday too, and you know what? Not everything has to have a day. Sometimes it’s just Wednesday. So no, thank you very much, it’s not Thanksgiving Eve.

So I’m going to be honest with you. I feel a little bit the same about Giving Tuesday. That cussed, contrary part of me *really* wants to have a problem with it. It feels kinda… artificial.

Boy, this isn’t the best way to start off a charity blog, is it? I’m doing this all wrong.

Here’s the thing. No matter how I happen to feel right now, today is still Giving Tuesday. It’s a day when a lot of people feel moved to donate to charity. And even at my most curmudgeonly, I think that’s pretty great.

And *because* it’s Giving Tuesday, I’m supposed to write a blog that will inspire y’all. To be generous. To dig deep. To think of others. To pick Worldbuilders as your charity of choice, donate, (and maybe win some fabulous prizes while you’re at it.)

I’ve written those blogs in the past. Typically about halfway through the fundraiser I get caught up in the excitement, write something passionate, and y’all warm my bitter heart & stomp out to donate. This has happened ever year so far, and it reinforces my belief that humanity is good. And that geeks in particular are lovely, empathetic, large-hearted individuals.

But this year… I don’t really have a great idea for a blog. I… honestly? I just feel so tired. Every day the news beats me down a little more. Every day it seems like the world is a little more on fire. Every day it seems like we’re just a little closer to the brink.

And we just had my dad’s funeral this weekend. I’m not bouncing back from that as quickly as I thought I would.

But the fact remains that it’s Giving Tuesday. And I’m the only one who can write this blog. So I’m writing a blog. And, apparently, I’m determined to make a mess of it. This really isn’t how it’s supposed to go….

*     *     *

I just got up from the computer and had a walk, pretty convinced that when I sat down again, I’d have to erase what I’d written and start over.

But instead, I found this on my dining room table.

(Click to embiggen)

This is a box my son brought over to my house a couple weeks ago at the beginning of our fundraiser. It’s full of change he’s been collecting all year. He *really* wants to get enough to buy a cow for a family through for Heifer International.

If you want to know why, here’s the video from a couple years ago:

My boy knows a cow costs $500, and he’s been working at it tirelessly. He scrounges the house for change, going through our pants pockets and couch cushions. He has emptied both his own piggy bank and his brother’s. He opened a store after Halloween, selling his candy haul piece by piece to anyone who came over to the house….

Sometimes he just straight-up shakes people down for money, explaining how helpful a cow can be to a family that doesn’t have much food or money. In fact, just this weekend at my dad’s visitation, I found out he was offering funeral home mints to people for a quarter. I explained, gently, that this might not be the best place for that. But not before he brought me a check a kind soul had written out to Worldbuilders.

Somehow I don’t think my dad would mind. Especially not given what I found in the box just now.

I think this must have come from a letter they exchanged over the last year. My dad wasn’t an easy man to persuade, but he had a soft spot for my little boy….

I don’t know if I have a real point to sharing this with you except to say that finding this box made me feel… happy. I feel proud of my boy. And right now, when my own enthusiasm is at a little bit of a low ebb, it’s nice to be able to borrow a little bit of excitement.

If you want to be excited about what a cow can do for a family, you should watch this video. It’s not even two minutes long.

Tomorrow, I think I’m going to show my boy that video. We’ll count his change and we’ll talk about cows.

In fact, I’m going to invite him to come livestream with me tomorrow, too. (For the next two weeks, I’m streaming to raise awareness of our fundraiser 4-7 CST every day.) Tomorrow, he and I will do it as a team. We’ll play some video games and talk about cows.

You can come on over to my stream and meet him, if you like. Maybe a little of his enthusiasm will rub off on you too.

That seems like a nice way to spend Giving Tuesday.

[edit: Amanda here! We’ve made a team page to support Oot and his change jar, so if you want to help him raise enough for a cow, you can donate here.]

*     *     *

Just to be clear, Heifer International doesn’t just deal in cows. It works with people around the world to improve their lives in the long term. They don’t give people a loaf of bread or a sack of rice. They provide animals and materials sometimes. But more importantly they provide education. They provide the training and tools to become better, more efficient farmers and business people.

Take Félix Octavio Rosales for example. He’d been farming for many years before he received Heifer training as a part of the Healthy and Sovereign Land project.

Félix and his wife, Mrs. Gómez, had been using chemical fertilizers and pesticides without understanding what they were doing and the harm they were causing to not just their farm, but their health.

They attended multiple workshops and training sessions with the Healthy and Sovereign Land project and were educated in how to make their own fertilizers and pesticides naturally. Instead of spending money on agricultural chemicals, they made their own out of the rabbit and guinea pig manure they already had at hand. Their soil has become nutrient rich, and the produce yield has increased significantly.

Mrs. Gómez has been able to sell the additional produce at the weekly market fair, empowering her to contribute income to her family.

“Another change is in my health,” Félix said. “I see this reflected in the way I feel when I work and when I have to walk long distances; I feel better. I see these changes because the food we eat is natural, without chemicals.”

And all of this was through education alone, provided by Heifer International.

The projects that involve gifts like chickens require training too, like Ndiolle Faye went through.

For many years, Faye’s family lived in poverty, struggling to get two meals a day during the off-season on their farm, and eating mostly millet the rest of the year. Faye was unable to go to school as a child, and though she tried to make it a priority to send her children to school, there was never enough money.

Then Faye joined the Wax Bakh Self-Help Group as a part of a Heifer project.

“Assistance started with a series of trainings, building a hen house and the placement of four hens and an improved breed rooster,” she said. “There was great joy in my family and in the  community. I saw this as an opportunity to move ahead in life.”

She received the gift of a flock of chickens, which quickly grew from 5 birds to 155. Her family’s income greatly increased, and she was able to run a business as she’d always hoped to do.

Less than two years later, she had sold more than 100 chickens. She used that money to buy 2 young rams for the purpose of fattening them up and re-selling them, providing more income and further diversifying her farm. Now she buys and sells rams three times a year, and invests the money into her poultry farm as well as saving more for her family.

She no longer worries about paying for her children’s education. If she doesn’t have the money, she can simply sell some of her chickens at the beginning of the semester to pay for school fees, new clothes, and supplies.

By integrating livestock and agriculture, she increased her income while improving her family’s food security and nutrition. Growing the flock increased the quantity of manure available, which she used to replenish the soil. As a result, her farm yield has increased by 20 percent. She keeps a portion of the harvested produce to add nutritional diversity to their meals.

Now, two years after receiving her flock of chickens, her family eats three nutritious and diverse meals daily, all year long.

Faye has also participated in the Heifer Cornerstone of Passing on the Gift, where she shares her training and a starter flock of birds to families who are in need.

And get this: As of today, she has Passed on the Gift to 11 different families.

“I am a happy woman. I meet my needs, and support my family. I own a poultry farm and we eat well. I can sell poultry anytime we face any challenge. We eat eggs and chicken as we want. And I have basic livestock husbandry skills – all thanks to the Smallholder Income and Nutrition Project.”

***

Okay. Now I’m into it again. I’m excited. Are you feeling it? Because I’m feeling it….

This is what we’re doing with our fundraiser, folks. This is what Heifer International does, and everything you donate to the fundraiser goes to help programs like this.

The gift of Bountiful Harvest training costs $72.

The gift of a flock of chickens, and the training necessary to raise them, is only $20.

Clean water for a whole village costs $300.

A cow, of course, costs $500 dollars. As my son will no doubt explain to you tomorrow on our livestream.

If the world is getting you down, try joining us here at Worldbuilders. You can give a family the chance to be self-reliant. You can help parents feed their children. You can literally change someone’s life forever. Seriously.

Here’s that donate link one more time.

Posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Heifer International, Oot, Worldbuilders 2017 | By Pat9 Responses

Black Friday, but from the safety of your home

Well folks, it’s Black Friday.

I’ll admit, I’ve never actually ventured forth in search of deals on this, the most terrifying of all shopping days. But every year I see the news stories and I think to myself how much I love to stay inside and never ever leave.

In an attempt to help you make some similar good decisions with your life, we are continuing in the fine tradition of offering some deals in The Tinker’s Packs.

As I’m guessing many of you know, the proceeds from The Tinker’s Pack go to Worldbuilders and help us run… well… everything. Electricity bills. Website development and maintenance. Rent and employee salaries and… well… everything that it takes to make fundraisers of the sort we’re running now happen.

Once Worldbuilders covers its expenses, all the money we make go into our General Donations pool, which allows us to run our other fundraisers and support organizations like First Book or Mercy Corps (like we did for our recent Puerto Rico fundraiser)

The fact of the matter is, NONE of what Worldbuilders does would be possible without the store.

So if you’re thinking of doing some shopping today, can I interest you in some bargains?

It’s worth noting that the folks who are subscribed to our newsletter got a heads up about all of these new cool things yesterday. If you want to be in the know early, you can sign up for the Tinker’s Packs newsletter over here.

Here’s what we’re offering.

First and Foremost: 10% off the ENTIRE store.

If you’ve been holding off on buying something from the store to wait for a deal, now’s a great time. Every single item in the store is discounted, and you don’t need to do ANYTHING to get that except go to The Tinker’s Packs and buy something.

There we have things like the Eolian Bar Mug (a wonderful holiday gift), various Tak sets (for the gamer in your life), specially-designed change jars for your annual donation (good for the whole family) and officially licensed merchandise for books, webcomics, and more!

Everything is 10% off, and will remain so through Monday night, so don’t forget to grab your gifts before the sale ends!

New Products in the Store!

In honor of the fundraiser and our Black Friday sale, we’ve put up some new, rare items, as well as some previously-sold-out items that we’ve either found hidden away over the years or had been secretly saving for just such an occasion.

Many of these things have fewer than 10 available, though, so if you’re interested you’ll need to snap them up quickly.

  • Caesura

Recently, I worked with the folks at Jalic Inc to produce Caesura, Kvothe’s Ademic sword. And it’s truly beautiful to behold.

This first-edition run of Caesura was limited to 5,000 pieces, and each sword is engraved with its number, and comes with a card of authenticity.

And now you can buy your very own in The Tinkers Packs.

  • Kvothe’s Bloodless, True Dungeon Token

When I teamed up with the True Dungeon folks to set this year’s game in Temerant, that also included making equipment and items for the players set in the world, as well.

I was tickled when the Bloodless was made, and I think its effect (-4 damage on missiles and spell attacks) is excellent. I keep one with me wherever I go just in case.

The Bloodless is classified as an Ultra-Rare token, making it difficult to acquire, and extra-valuable to True Dungeon players.

True Dungeon was kind enough to donate money from each of the runs this year to Worldbuilders already, and now they’ve also generously given us our very own set of Bloodless tokens to sell. You can grab it over here.

Back For A Limited Time

Everything else we’ve added today is a limited-edition item that we’ve scrounged up from our vault. Some of these we’ve had sold out for years before the team discovered where I’d squirreled them away, and they persuaded me to give up a bit of my horde for a good cause.

  • Limited Edition Domesticated Owlbear

The Owlbear Plushie was a limited edition item that John Kovalic designed to help us raise money for Worldbuilders at GameHole con two years ago. We sold out fairly quickly, but a few have been put back into the store, so if you missed your chance, you can grab this little dude right here.

  • Limited Edition Bast & Bastas heroes from Boss Monster

We also found our limited-edition Bast & Bastas hero cards for the game Boss Monster. The lovely folks at Brotherwise Games made them exclusively for us to sell to support Worldbuilders, and our vault has been cleared to get the last of them out into the world.

These are special promo cards for Boss Monster, so you need a copy the game if you’d like to use them accordingly. Of course, since there’s 10% off the entire store, that’s not so hard to pull off. You can get the cards here, Boss Monster 1 here, and Boss Monster 2 here.

  • First edition copies of The Slow Regard of Silent Things, double signed by me and Nate Taylor.

Nate Taylor has been one of my dearest friends for many years, and I loved working with him on Slow Regard. We have a few first edition copies of the book that he agreed to sign for us, and we’ve put what we’ve got up in the store, but fair warning: when they’re gone, they’re gone. Grab yours here.

  • Limited Edition of The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Dark of Deep Below. Double-signed by me and Nate Taylor.

A few years ago the second Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle book came out, and the special edition came with a full-color cover, in addition to being numbered and signed by both me and Nate.

We’ve been out of these for ages, but we’ve re-launched them in the store right here.

That’s all of the new stuff, but since there’s 10% off the entire store, there’s plenty more you could go check out and see if it tickles your fancy.

Thanks for all of your love and support, folks. You’re the best people a charity could ask for.

Posted in The Tinker's Packs, Worldbuilders 2017 | By Pat8 Responses

The story of a beloved book…

Today I’d like to tell you a story about a book. Some of you might not have met it before. But to many of us here at Worldbuilders, it is an old, familiar friend….

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

2008: A Gift from Gaiman.

In 2008, 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, spreading the word and donating books for me to use as donation incentives.

The pinnacle of the coolness/madness came when Neil Gaiman mentioned us to his vast legion of readers. He also donated a rare, numbered, slipcased 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 the second year of the fundraiser rolled around, and I had this book. This beautiful book. This beautiful, *rare* book.

I was still doing the fundraiser pretty much by myself then, and I was having a really hard time deciding how best to use it. I knew we could auction it off and raise at least a thousand dollars, but that didn’t seem right somehow.

So I decided to put it into the lottery, where anyone who donated at least 10 bucks to Heifer International on our team page would have a chance of winning it. That seemed fair to me, more egalitarian.

Then something strange happened: 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.

Year 3 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 told me she would be proud and happy to know that the money will go to helping as many people as possible through Heifer.

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

2011: Stardust Full Circle.

Year Four of Worldbuilders, 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 thanked her kindly, and sent along a box of books as as “Thanks for being cool” present.

Then something weird happened….

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 pick the prizes and when I’m told who the winner is, I give the assistant holding the papers a look loaded with grim, fatherly disapproval, telling them in the gentlest of terms that they’ve fucked up and are obviously using last year’s spreadsheets.

She assures me that isn’t the case. She shows me the sheets, and the ticket numbers.

This is bizarre math, people. This is like Heart-of-Gold level improbability. Maayan had won again.

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

And she sent us back a picture.

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.

Year six of Worldbuilders, 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.

That was the year we had a cool idea – we instituted a Library Card system for the Stardust ARC.

When I was a kid, every library book had one of these. Even now, all these years later, seeing one fills me with a strange joy.

Neil graciously agreed to sign the cards for us.

NeilLibraryCard

What’s more, we had all the previous winners sign the cards and pass them on after keeping one for themselves of course (Maayan got to keep two).

DSC0562b

This way, if the winner chooses to return the book, they still get a memento of the experience: signed by all the people who have loved the book before them as well as the original donor, Neil Gaiman.

2014: Stardust Makes a New Friend

In 2014 Jeff’s name was drawn as the winner of the Stardust ARC. He donated it back again, and we sent him much love in return as well as his own signed Library Card.

The more we do this library card thing, the more I love it.

2015: Stardust Returns Again

In 2015, Stardust went to a wonderful supporter named Don.

It was the first year Amanda called the winner. She had a great conversation with him, he told us to keep it, and we sent him a box of goodies and his library card as a sign of what he won. He has his library card, and we still have a beautiful, signed Stardust ARC.

2016: Stardust ALMOST goes to France

Last year, our winner was a lovely guy named Lucas. He lives in France, and had a lovely phone call and email exchange with the Worldbuilders team, and they sent him a box full of books, including the French editions of a couple of books from The Tinker’s Packs.

He has his library card, and we still have a beautiful, signed Stardust ARC.

This year’s winner will get their very own library card signed by Neil Gaiman and the other winners.

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 the fundraiser you have a chance of winning not only this book, but also thousands of other books and games 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.

So. If you’d like to be part of a fine tradition of people being awesome, winning books, and making the world a better place, you can head over and donate right now.

Posted in Stardust ARC, Worldbuilders 2017 | By Pat9 Responses

Immortalization & Manuscript Critiques

As I write this, the Worldbuilders fundraiser is at $82,000 dollars. That can buy a lot of families a lot of goats, or chickens, or even cows….

But sometimes what people need isn’t materials. One of the other essential things Heifer provides is straight-up training and education. Specifically, sustainable agriculture training of the sort they gave to people like Lotale Chatayika.

Lotale is the sole breadwinner for his household (Which consists of his parents, wife, brother, and two sisters). He has worked hard for many years on his farm, but wasn’t able to produce enough food to feed his family. Because of this, he’s forced to find other temporary labor work (which is notoriously inconsistent and low paying) in order to afford enough food for everyone.

But in 2015, he was selected to participate in the Sustainable Agriculture Lead Farmer Programme with Heifer. They trained him in sustainable agriculture technologies like pit planting, fertilization techniques, and mixed cropping. (Pit planting is making pits on your plot for water to collect and be retained, as well as to reduce erosion.)

After his training, Lotale made 1560 pits on his quarter-acre plot. He added compost and manure to his maize and soya fields for fertility.

Before joining Heifer and receiving training, Lotale was able to produce 50 pounds of maize in a season. Now the same plot yields more than 880 pounds of maize a season. A 1600% increase. Enough so that he can feed his family with plenty left over to sell.

Heifer estimates that training of the sort that Lotale recieved costs about $72. (Bountiful Harvest Training) Since y’all have already donated over $82,000 that means they now have the resources to train over 1,100 people like Lotale. Changing their lives and the lives of their families. Forever.

And we’re only 5 days into the fundraiser….

***

Today’s blog continues two of my favorite Worldbuilders traditions, professional critiques of manuscripts and people getting to make guest appearances in upcoming books.

Let’s jump right in.

  • Manuscript Critiques

This is something I would’ve killed for when I was first sending the book off to publishers. The opportunity to have your manuscript read by a skilled editor, agent, or author is huge. It doesn’t just have an impact on your book, this sort of feedback can help you develop your craft as well.

We always put a bunch of these up for auction, and this year is no exception.

But even better, this year we have critiques available in the lottery, too. Back when I was in college I couldn’t have afforded an expensive auction. So now I’m delighted to give unpublished writers a chance to win a professional critique by donating to the Professional Manuscript Critiques team page.

For every $10 you donate, you’ll get the chance to win a critique, as well as all the other goodies in our prize lottery.

So, if you want to jump in on that option in the lottery, donate right here. If you’d like to be a little more certain that you’ll get a critique, then this next section is for you. We have THIRTEEN different critiques going up in the auction.

A NOTE BEFORE YOU DIVE IN: We’ve made each critique expandable here, so if you’re interested in one, you can click on it to expand out more information. PLEASE READ THIS INFORMATION CAREFULLY.

Everyone is offering something a little different. Each author, editor, or agent is handling their auction in their own way…

  • Everyone has different skills, and they’re each offering something different.
  • Critiques are for different lengths of manuscript. From 7,000 to 150,000 words.
  • The professionals below are busy people. Critiques will have to fit in their schedules.
  • When auctions mention “X pages” of a manuscript, that’s standard manuscript format.
  • Most importantly, it’s important to realize that what you’re getting here is a critique. You’re not buying an introduction to someone’s agent or editor. You’re not winning representation with an agent. Or a foot in the door with an editor. That’s not what’s on the block. You’re getting writing advice from a professional.

Okay. Enough preamble. Let’s get to the auctions.

Professor Eric Dahl: A Real-Life Physicist will review your worldbuilding for consistency and realism.

Whether you just want to do away with the pesky speed-of-light limit or are inventing an entirely new reality, there are some ways to do physics that just feel more real than others.  This auction gets you one physics professor’s critique of your world building — what laws are broken, what is or is not consistent, and what crazy inventions your ever-attentive readers might create for your universe….

The winner should submit no more than 7k words describing their world (plus figures if you’d like). Eric will give feedback on this submission.

This is such a weird and cool opportunity to make sure the worldbuilding and magic system in your series FEELS real. If you want to bid on it, click here.

 

Laura Anne Gilman: Publishing Industry and writing talk with a veteran editor and author.

Laura Anne Gilman was excited to provide something for our critique this year, but wasn’t sure she could commit to a full manuscript critique. Instead, she’s offered up a 30-45 minute Skype call where she’d discuss anything publishing-related you’d like. It could be plot ideas, career worries, or anything else.

Laura worked as an editor for over  15 years, and has published more than twenty novels, so she clearly knows her stuff. If you have burning questions, or need plot advice, you can bid on this auction here.

 

Holly Black: 1-hour plot brainstorming session with Holly based on up to 10,000 words of story material.

Holly has offered up something truly awesome here. Before you get too deep into writing, Holly is offering to spend an hour on the phone (or Skype) plotting/brainstorming with you, based on 10,000 words of story material you send to her whether it be outline, chapters, or anything else.

On the phone, she’ll help you try to figure out what you’re stuck on, and where you can go with the story overall.

If this sounds perfect for you, you can bid on it right here.

 

 

Jennifer Azantian: Critique and commentary of your entire submission packet.

Jennifer Azantian is offering a detailed critique and commentary of your submission packet (query, synopsis, and first three chapters up to 15,000 words). She’ll include her thoughts on pacing, impact, characterization, world-building, and more with in-line notes and an editorial letter within three months of receiving your submission. Though she makes no promises, she would be a fool not to consider representing a project if it truly blows her away.

Critiques of submission packets are key to getting your work picked up by agents and publishers. If you’re ready for that step, bid on the auction here.

 

Brad Beaulieu: Critique of up to 12,500 words of your story.

Bradley P. Beaulieu is pleased to offer one story or chapter critique of up to 12,500 words. Brad will draft a formal review that will cover such things as how well the story opens, complicates, and closes, how well the characterization works, dialogue, tone, pacing, tension, and a host of other issues. Essentially, he’ll provide a formal review on the positives and negatives found in the story.

If this sounds good to you, you can read more about Brad and bid right here.

 

Jeffe Kennedy: First chapter and synopsis critique.

A first chapter & synopsis critique, along with genre analysis – particularly apropos for anyone writing in romance/romantic elements crossover novels in SFF.

She is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.

If you want to get your synopsis critiqued by an award-winning author, you can bid here.

 

Joe Ducie: Critique of up to 100,000 words of any manuscript.

Joe Ducie will critique up to 100,000 words of any manuscript, with an eye toward YA, Urban Fantasy, or Spy/Thriller. If you’ve read his The Rig or Reminiscent Exile series, you know what you’re getting into. He’s got a knack for writing books that read like an action scene. If you’re writing a thriller or other lean, fast-paced fantasy, Joe’s opinion will help quite a bit!

Joe was kind enough to offer us TWO critiques, so one is up for auction right here, while the other is in the lottery on the Professional Manuscript Critiques team page!

 

Sherwood Smith: Critique of up to 150,000 words of your fantasy manuscript.

Sherwood Smith is the author of the Inda series, the Crown & Court series, and co-author with Rachel Manija Brown of the brilliant YA series Change. She will read your fantasy manuscript, up to 150,000 words, and critique it, giving you her opinions on everything from character and pacing to plot and more. She’s a brilliant writer who creates memorable characters and intricate worlds. She’s also been workshopping for years, and teaching at the Viable Paradise science fiction and fantasy writers’ workshop.

Thisa is an amazing opportunity you won’t want to miss, so if it’s at all tempting to you bid here.

 

Joshua Palmatier: Critique of up to 7,500 words of your short story.

Joshua Palmatier (co-­editor of the DAW Books anthologies AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR­BAR and THE MODERN FAE’S GUIDE TO SURVIVING HUMANITY and the Zombies Need Brains anthologies CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK vs ALIENS, TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER, ALIEN ARTIFACTS, WERE-, ALL HAIL OUR ROBOT CONQUERORS, and SUBMERGED) will read and evaluate your short story (up to 7500 words in standard manuscript format) within six weeks of submission. He will write a general evaluation of the story and mark up the manuscript using comments and track changes in the document itself, although this will NOT be a formal line or copy edit, simply commentary at specific points in the short story.

It’s hard to find people with so much experience with short stories, so if you have one you’d like critiqued you should bid here.

 

Jaime Lee Moyer: Read and Critique of the first 75 pages of your manuscript.

Jaime Lee Moyer has offered many critiques over the years, and we’re always grateful. This year’s critique is for the first 75 pages (double spaced) of your manuscript, where she’s comment on plot, character arc, voice, pacing, and other overall, general impressions of the story.

PLEASE NOTE: Jaime has a very tight schedule this year, so she’s requested that the winner be ready to send the manuscript to her within four months of auction end (by March 2018 at the absolute latest). So this is for someone who’s ready to hand over their manuscript soon.

If that someone is you, head over here and bid.

 

Richard Shealy: A Professional copyedit of your fantasy or science fiction manuscript.

Richard is offering a copyedit of novel-length manuscript (or short story and its pitch). Includes typo correction, continuity observation, voice/character consistency, context-appropriate grammar adjustment, fact-checking where needed. This copyedit will be completed sometime in 2018, since Richard is a pro and booked solid for the remainder of 2017.

For a list of works he has copyedited, visit http://sffcopyediting.com/index.php/what/ and scroll down until you see the wall of cover images!

A copy edit is a really big deal, and honestly something that most people don’t think about. Most authors don’t get this chance until their book has already sold, but it makes a huge difference in the readability of a manuscript. If you’re ready to take this on, you can bid right here.

 

Seth Fishman: Critique of up to 25,000 words of a sci-fi/fantasy novel.

Seth is a literary agent who has worked with Worldbuilders before to bring folks critiques, and he’s also done two different livestreamed Q&As about the industry as part of previous fundraisers. He did one on how to write an effective query letter (with one of his clients, Django Wexler) that you can watch right here, and one on the publishing industry as a whole from his perspective as an agent, which you can watch here.

Needless to say, he knows his stuff. If you want his advice on your novel, you can bid here.

 

Patrick Rothfuss (me): Critique of the first 20,000 words of your manuscript.

Patrick Rothfuss (international bestselling author, lover of women, and hirsute iconoclast) will read the beginning of your manuscript and give you critical feedback. (Up to, say, 20,000 words.) We’ll schedule this based on when your manuscript will be ready and the endless madness of my own schedular constraints.

I’ll read through your manuscript, scrawling notes and dirty words in the margins, then I’ll call you on the phone and we can discuss it.

If you want this, you should bid on it quickly. My schedule has become such that I really had to fight my team so that they’d let me do this.

You can Bid right here.

 

That’s all of the critiques for this year, but don’t forget that we have a few more up in the lottery on the Professional Manuscript Critiques team page.

Maybe you could bid on your favorite option (or options) and then if you don’t manage to win on Sunday night, you put the money you were willing to spend on it into the team page. After all, all of the money will be going to Heifer International, and they can do a lot of good with it.

But maybe you don’t have a manuscript. Maybe a tuckerization is more your speed…

  • Tuckerizations

What is a Tuckerization, you may ask? Well, it means different things to different people. Historically, it’s called a Tuckerization because Wilson Tucker used so many of his friends’ names as characters in his stories that it became something of an in-joke. Nowadays, it’s the chance to make a cameo appearance in a story. An author will take your name, or maybe your personality, or your physical description, and use it for a character in their story.

Maybe it’s not your name. Maybe it’s a sister’s, or a friend’s, or that kid you spent a lot of time with in kindergarten before he moved away. Maybe you only *start* with your name, but the author changes it a bit to fit in with the culture of the world you’re being put into. If that happens, you collaborate with the author and reach a solution you both like.

Whatever the case, it’s a chance to be a part of something really cool. It’s a chance, in some ways, at literary immortality.

We have NINE tuckerizations available below for auction, but they’re all a little different, so read carefully.

Brian McLellan will include you in a POWDER MAGE Novel, and maybe even kill you.

Brian McLellan has offered up the opportunity to be a minor character in a new POWDER MAGE novel, his awesome fantasy series. Brian’s a fantastic author, and a generally great guy to begin with, so working with him on this will be a dream.

He’ll work with you to make sure the name fits well in the world, and says that “violent death is optional.”

Fans of the series, or those who are eager for the option of violent death, can head over here and bid.

 

Elizabeth Bear: Get tuckerized into a galactic medical rescue novel + a signed first edition of the book.

Elizabeth Bear is working on a new novel called Machine, a space opera about medical rescue and a galactic hospital, and she’s offering up the chance to tuckerize a Worldbuilders supporter in it. To make things even cooler, she’s included a signed, first edition copy of the book to be sent to you upon release, so you’ll have a collectible to brag about to your friends, in addition to naming a character.

A signed first edition might be enough on its own for some people, so if you want to get your hands on this you’ll have to bid over here.

 

William Alexander will include you in a road trip novel that brushes up against The Wild Hunt and more.

 

William Alexander has been supporting Worldbuilders for a while now, including a give a spirited, Kermit-voice performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream last year. This year he jumped in with an opportunity to appear in the next novel he’s writing.

His current work in progress is a road trip novel featuring the Wild Hunt, the trolls of Vermont, and your name. Maybe.

Bid now for the chance.

 

Joe Ducie will tuckerize you in a spy-thriller novel.

Some of you may remember Joe Ducie from the before-times. He’s our very own Captain Joe, winner of a previous photo contest and all-around awesome person.  Since his first claim-to-fame here on the blog, his YA novel won the 2012 Young Writers Prize, and Joe’s been writing ever since.

Joe Ducie was kind enough to offer us TWO opportunities for fans to be included in his upcoming work! This auction is for an appearance in his upcoming spy-thriller titled THE DARK WINTER. The winner would be on a team of spies/soldiers off to save the world. It’s due to be published around this time next year, and you’ll have the chance to chat with Joe about which member of the team best fits you (or a loved one) and he’ll make sure that character does you proud.

If you’ve always wanted to be a spy, you can bid for the chance hereyes.

 

Joe Ducie (AGAIN) will tuckerize you in his YA time-loop novel.

Joe’s second offering for a tuckerization is in his upcoming urban fantasy novel, THE ONLY REAL PLACE, a YA story featuring an intense time-loop situation.

The novel is still in very early drafts, so there’s going to be a lot of flexibility to the character you’ll be. You will have the chance to chat with Joe about the best way to include you (or a loved one) as a cameo in his book.

You can bid on this one right here.

 

April White will include your character in her new Sherlockian mystery time-travel series.

This isn’t the first time April White has offered a tuckerization, and we’re always so grateful for her offer.

April is offering the chance to name a character (and provide an identifying characteristic or two) in book two of her new fantasy series. In the event the winning bid is higher than $250, that character will have a significant interaction with Ringo, the main character. If it goes higher than $400, that character will become a major contributor to the story.

To read more about the series, and to bid, head over to the auction and read up!

 

Tim Pratt will name a character in his upcoming space opera after you.

Tim Pratt’s novel The Dreaming Stars will be coming out around this time next year, and he’s offering up the chance to be a part of it by naming a character after yourself or a loved one. Space opera means that there’s going to be tons of options for him to make your character fun or interesting, so this is an awesome opportunity.

Plus, last time he let someone name a whorehouse in his books. So Tim’s a pretty cool dude.

If you want to be in a space opera, bid here.

 

Jeffe Kennedy will tuckerize you in the first novel of her new fantasy romance trilogy.

Jeffe Kennedy’s novel The Orchid Throne will be released in 2019, and she’s offering you the chance to name a character in it, at the beginning of a new trilogy.

It’s going to be a great series, and you can bid on the chance to be a part of it right here.

 

Bradley P. Beaulieu will incude you in his brand new epic fantasy series, and the more we raise the cooler you'll be.

Brad is a Wisconsin native, and longtime supporter of Worldbuilders. He’s offering up the chance to be in the fourth novel of his Arabian Nights-inspired epic fantasy series, THE SONG OF THE SHATTERED SANDS. He’ll work with you to make sure the name you provide can be tweaked and adjusted to fit into the world seamlessly.

As a bonus, the more money the auction raises, the more important your character will be to the overall plot. The series will have SIX books in it, so your character may very will live beyond the pages of the fourth.

If the auction raises $500 or more, the character will be elevated from a minor character to one that has a real interaction with one of the main characters, and Brad will work with you to adopt some specific personal characteristics to the character. If it raises $1,000 or more, your character can either die in a spectacular way or perform some other heroic, selfless act.

There’s a ton being offered here, and you can bid for the chance to make it yours here.

***

All of the money from auctions also goes to Heifer, so bidding on and winning auctions will go to help people who need it, like Lotale and his family. And, as a reminder, there are critiques available in the lottery as well, as long as you donate on the Professional Manuscript Critiques team page, and every $10 donated there is another chance.

Auctions will be ending on Sunday nights, and the first round of auctions ends THIS Sunday for things like the Dresden Force Ring that Jim Butcher wore while writing Skin Game, or the limited-edition Caesura sword with a custom, one-of-a-kind scabbard, or one of every book published by Subterranean Press for 2017. To check them out, click on AUCTIONS below.

Happy bidding…

Posted in a billion links, the business of writing, the craft of writing, Worldbuilders 2017 | By Pat4 Responses

Thousands of Books from John Scalzi

We’re just a couple days into the Worldbuilders Fundraiser, and things are off to a smashing start. We’re on the cusp of $50,000, which is pretty amazing given that I’ve been traveling without good internet connectivity, and therefore haven’t been able to do much promotion.

So let me say thank you all for helping out. Both in donating directly and in spreading the word.

You see, $50,000 is enough for Heifer International to provide education and materials so that over 2500 families can get flocks of chickens. That might not seem like a big deal at first glance, it really is. Chickens lay about 200 eggs a year, and they’re full of nutrients and protein that are vital to growing children. Those eggs can provide extra income for a family selling eggs. Or they can hatch the eggs and grow their flocks.

Giving a flock of chickens to a family means they suddenly have control over their own food production, their own economic stability… over their futures as a whole.

(Chickens. They’re a big deal.)

So. Yeah. Thanks to everyone who has donated and spread the word, we’ve changed 2,500 lives. Forever. And it’s only Wednesday.

I’m thinking this is going to be a good year….

*     *    *

So today, we’re giving away a couple thousand books to people who donate to our yearly fundraiser.

That by itself is nothing new. Every year we give away books donated by publishers and authors. But these books are a little different than anything we’ve dealt with before….

You see, a couple of years ago, John Scalzi and I were hanging out at GenCon when he asked if my crew had driven down with all the stuff we were selling at our booth (the Tinker’s Packs.)

They did drive, I told him. Why did he want to know?

“I’ve got a donation I’d like to make to Worldbuilders, but shipping would be… prohibitive,” he says to me.

See, John has been a book reviewer and literary journalist for many, many years. Because of that, lots of folks send him copies of their books with the hope that he’ll take the time to read and review it. Publishers send him advance copies of upcoming books, first edition hardcovers, or re-releases, for the same reason.

Those of you who read his blog or follow him on Twitter have probably seen evidence of this. He regularly posts a picture of the books that have arrived at his house, and it’s usually a fairly sizable stack.


So imagine books like this getting sent to your house every week. For months and month. For years and years and years….

So this year when they went down to Gencon, Amanda and Brett drove a little further, down to Scalzi’s place. Once there, it took them more than two hours to load tote after tote, box after box, and crate after crate of books into the truck.

There were hardcovers, paperbacks, ARCs, and printed manuscripts. There were books that were being reprinted, and books that hadn’t been released yet.

And this was AFTER John and his family had sifted through the books and kept many. But the fact of the matter is, John couldn’t possibly read every book that crosses his desk. He’d spend all his waking hours reading and reviewing books, with no time to spend with his family, or write his own books.

And these books were taking over his house. Almost the entire basement had been taken over, blocking walkways and covering all available surfaces.

But now those books are ours. Over 2,500 books are going into the lottery from John’s personal collection. That means for every $10 you donate, you get a chance to win these books and all the other prizes we’re putting into the lottery over the next couple weeks.

In addition to throwing those books individually into the fundraiser, the Worldbuilders Team has put together a sort of a ready-made library out of the books John donated.

I’d like to say it was a carefully curated collection around a theme, but the truth is, it’s just the books that everyone saw and either loved, coveted, or both.

Think of this as a little look into the Worldbuilders Crew’s collective soul.

I picked out some of my favorites…

And so did Rachel….

And Amanda…

And Maria…

Even Brett got in on the action…

All told it’s a prize worth well over $1,000, and it’s in the lottery for anyone to win by donating.

(the full collection)

There was, however, one special thing we wanted to put up for auction….

  • Auction: ARC of The Fractured Girl. Signed by Myke Cole. To be released in February 2018 as The Armored Saint.

We love Myke Cole. He recently coordinated with us to put up signed copies of his books in The Tinker’s Packs, and now you can get all of them while supporting Worldbuilders.

So when we saw this early copy of Fractured Girl (not out until February, under the title The Armored Saint) we had to put it up for auction. It’s too cool, and we’d love to give someone the chance to read it early.

You can bid on it over here.

***

Thanks for starting the fundraiser off with a bang, folks. I’ll be bringing you more coolness soon….

Posted in Worldbuilders 2017 | By Pat4 Responses
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