Category Archives: babies

Babies: Meet Bast, Auri, Elodin, and Kvothe

If you’ve been reading the blog for any amount of time, you probably realize that I love babies.

This wasn’t always the case. But over the last 8-9 years (mostly since I’ve become a dad) a whole world of coolness has opened up in my life. Kids are great, and I will talk parenting at the drop of a hat. If I’m out in public, I’m constantly having to restrain myself from asking people to let me play with their kids. (Because I look like a bear, or a hobo. Or a hobear.)

Another thing that’s happened over the last 8-9 years is that I’ve been constantly startled and amazed by the enthusiasm people have shown for the books. People write fanfiction, create beautiful art, they dress up, they tattoo their bodies with my words…

And where fan enthusiasm and babies intersect, we get babies named after characters in my books.

This has happened more than once. It’s startling and cool while at the same time being oddly terrifying. I got my first email about one all the way back in 2009, and I showed off little Andan in the blog. But I’ll be honest with you, even after all these years I cannot fully comprehend someone liking my book enough to name their kid out of it.

Then, the other day when I was at the park with my boys. A couple with a stroller walked up to me, told me they were big fans of the books, and mentioned that their baby’s name… was Auri.

(She obviously doesn’t really know what to think of me. Which means she’s smart.)

Then a couple weeks later, I met this little sweetheart who is also named Auri….

(I like how she seems to be saying: “Eh, you’re not that big a deal.”)

Meeting these Auris in person reminded me that I’d been compiling a blog full of baby pictures that people have sent in over the last couple years.

Keep in mind that some of these pictures are pretty old. I think the first draft of this blog might have been from back in 2014. So some of these kids are years older than what they look like here…

Anyway, allow me to introduce:

  • Baby Bast!

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Letter from his dad:

“Our son (coming up on his first birthday) was named after your character Bast. We decided on the name Bast initially, but later, upon realizing with our middle name choice that would have left the poor bastard with three one-syllable names, we decided to modify it a bit to “Bastion”.  His Grandmother (on his mother”s side) calls him Bass (like the fish) which naturally drives me insane to no end. Some humans, eh?”

five months

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  • Baby Auri!

“Here’s a picture of our Baby Auri. Technically it’s ‘Aurielle,’ but we only call her by her full name when she’s being a dick . . . which occurs fairly frequently around mealtimes.

Just so there’s no ambiguity, I wanted you to know this is one hundred percent your name. I absolutely snagged that shit from you because Auri’s brokenly bad-assed, and that’s how we feel.”

IMG_6759 copyLooks to me like she is in the perfect place….

  • Baby Auri 2!

 

“Here is a picture of my daughter, born in April. I took her middle name from your books Auri. Her full name is Sutton Auri Prinz, I want to thank you for all that you have done and hope that my daughter will love reading as much as I do. I know that my family will have your books apart of the rest of our lives.

baby auri 2

  • Baby Kvothe!

This is Kvothe, who was originally introduced on the blog in 2013. A while back they sent some updated photos of the little guy, and I couldn’t be prouder.

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You’ll notice that little Kvothe has a badass-looking dragon foot. That’s because he was born missing one of his feet. His parents tell me that in cases like this, it’s easier for the kids to use a prosthetic later in life if they get used to it very early on…

And so, being forward-thinking parents, they got him fitted for a prosthetic. But also, because they’re awesome, one of the prosthetics is a badass dragon foot.

As a fellow geek parent, I salute you.

  • Baby Elodin!

I honestly never expected there to be an Elodin. But I was wrong….

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Best smile ever.

  • And One Final Auri…

“Some interesting facts:

1. ‘Auri’ means ‘shines like gold’ (apparently)

2. She was born with Auburn hair

3. The first track on the radio taking her home was ‘Gold on the Ceiling’ by the Black Keys (a band my wife and I saw on the first night of our honeymoon in Chicago)

So despite us having decided on the name before we even knew we were having a girl, it is a perfect fit – ☺”

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Because I’m as slow about writing blogs as I am with all other types of writing, Auri’s folks have sent some more pictures of her, now that she’s a little older….

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That smile though…

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There have been more. Many more. I’ve been introduced to Auris, Dennas, and Simmons at cons. And other parents have shared photos with me that they’d prefer to keep private, which I can totally understand.

For those of you who have stuck around to the very end of the blog, I have a special treat for you. A teaser of something that’s going to be happening soon.

In fact, it’s going to be launching on Tuesday (the 15th)…

Stay tuned,

pat

Also posted in Achievement Unlocked!, naming, Surreal enthusiasm | By Pat39 Responses

The Warning on the Door

Y’know what? It’s been a while since we’ve had a cute kid story on the blog here. I think we’re overdue.

So a while back we were having a little party at our house. And my oldest boy Oot….

You guys do know Oot, right? It’s been a while since I talked about him here. He’s the older of my two little boys.

(Here he is winning a game of Tak.)

Oot is 7 years old now, if you can believe it. He is my heart’s delight. And despite my failings, he has grown up sweet and kind and loving and full of empathy.

So. A couple months ago, we were having a little shindig at our house. Except this wasn’t an event of the sort that I would organize, not a couple people coming over for games. Sarah’s family is huge, and there are roughly eleven billionty children in it. So this isn’t a cozy little gathering. It’s going to be an event. It’s going to be a happening.

The complication? We have a relatively small house. Only about 1400 square feet, and one of the two bathrooms is only accessible through a bedroom.

And here’s the thing. It’s *my* bedroom. Which means it a fucking mess. I’ve got piles of books and detritus everywhere. You can’t hardly see the floor. Plus I have a lot of stuff on my shelves is  dangerous at best, and at worst just straight-up deadly. Picture it as a more cramped version of a wizard’s lab, except instead of having a stuffed crocodile hanging from the ceiling, there’s a mattress on the floor.

Simply said: I do not want people wandering through my bedroom. For real. I’ve mentioned this many, many times to Sarah when she has family over.

So. Anyway. We’re getting ready for the party, and I come back from an errand to discover Oot has written up some helpful signs and stuck them to my door.

20161211_124915(Click to Embiggen. Seriselee.)

Please, *please* click the above image and try to puzzle out what it says on your own. Oot has my genes both for penmanship and spelling, but if you click on it, you should be able to make it out with a little work. And it’s *so* much better if you read it in the original.

For those of you who can’t quite make it out, the signs say:

“Do. not. Entre.”

“i. Will. Kil. You. if. You. Trn.”

“This. Nob. (Arrow pointing to doorknob.)”

“Seriselee. Stae. The. Fukc. Out.”

Now when I see this, I am absolutely fucking delighted. I am over the moon. I could not possibly enjoy it more.

First and foremost, this is a very thoughtful thing he’s done. I ask Sarah if she put him up to it, and she said she hasn’t. All on his own, my little boy has decided to help me keep my room private because he knows it bothers me when guests wander in there. He’s heard me talk about it, and he’s trying to help.

As for the rest…. well… I’m probably reading it a little differently than you, because I know more of the backstory. (It might surprise none of you to know that I consider backstory to be pretty important.)

You see, years ago, when I discovered that here in small town Wisconsin, a mortgage is actually cheaper than renting an office. So I bought a grotty old student rental house to use as a disturbance-free writing space.

In that house, I have a writing room which nobody is allowed to enter. Because it’s my fucking writing room.

But I also use the house as a guest house where friends can stay when they’re in town. And my friends are curious people. So years and years ago I put up some signs on the door:

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Oot comes to visit me at the Workhouse sometimes. And I put these signs up *years* ago. Long before he could read.

But the world keeps spinning. And things change. And our children absorb so much more than we are ever ready for. And no matter how careful we are, we are never careful enough….

So I come home from my errand to see my sweet child has carefully labeled my door. I read these signs and I laugh. And I thank Oot for being so helpful and considerate. And I tell him that I am really impressed that he has done such a good job of writing everything out. And it’s true. I am impressed.

“But I’m wondering,” I say. “We’re inviting these people over to our house for a party. Do you think it might be a little rude to threaten to kill them?” (I’m going to leave the discussion of the word ‘fuck’ for another day.)

Oot looks thoughtful, he narrows his eyes a little and nods. “You’re right,” he says, as if he’s really kind of impressed that I’d figured that out. “I’ll make a new sign.”

So I wander away, happy that I’ve so deftly fixed the problem.

Ten minutes later, I come back to see this:
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I would like to point out that I’ve never heard Oot say, “Fuck.” But obviously the sign at the workhouse has made a deep and lasting impression. It occurs to me that in his mind, this might actually just be the natural way you ask people to stay out of a room. This is just a regular warning sign: “Wet Paint.” “Do not park.” “Stay the fuck out.”

So we talk again. And I tell him that he’s done a good job by getting rid of threatening to kill people… “But it’s still not really *polite* yet, is it?”

So he takes another run at it:

And these notes are still on my door to this day. I cannot think of a reason I would ever want to take them down….

I hope y’all are doing okay out there.

Take care of each other,

pat

Also posted in Because I Love, day in the life, I am completely fucking serious, Oot, Things my baby has taught me about writing | By Pat64 Responses

Conversations with Cutie

For those of you who are keeping track, my youngest son is just a little more than two years old now. And far all ages have been good ages with my sons (so far) this is a particularly special age for me. It’s the age of language acquisition.

He’s a good talker, and has been using full sentences for a couple months now. But listening to him is still a bit of an acquired skill, because…. well… he’s still a baby, so all of his words don’t quite sound right.

By the way (Pat said, managing to tangent away from his primary purpose in the blog in a record-breaking two paragraphs) did you know that the reason it takes kids so long to talk isn’t primarily mental? A huge portion of it is actually physical. They lack the physical control required to make the proper sounds with their mouths.

It makes sense when you think about it. Learning how to pick up a pencil is hard, but learning to whistle is *way* harder. Learning how to accurately and consistently recreate the 42-46 phonemes that comprise American English…. well… it’s easy to forget how hard it is until you see a kid struggling with the process.

Think about it, your lips, tongue, jaw, and vocal cords all have to orchestrate things together *very* precisely just to make just *one* phoneme. Like an “Mmmmm” sound. And each phoneme has many variations.

Then realize that even a simple word like “more” has *three* of those phonemes. And all of those need to be pulled off correctly, together, in about a tenth of a second.

And that’s just for one word.

This is why a lot of parents do sign language with their young kids. Kids can understand you much younger than they can talk (Most folks who have studied a foreign language know the same feeling: being able to understand a question in your new language, but not answer it.) Babies can think in words much earlier than they can *say* most words, which means they can communicate with you much sooner than you think if you teach them a few gestures.

Cutie

(Don’t look so smug, little man. That’s a pretty sloppy “more.”)

The reason parents understand their kids better than anyone else is because we’re more experienced with our own children’s  particular accent and dialect. And even then, *we’re* clueless some times as to what the kids are saying.

This is why parents constantly repeat what kids say back to them. Partially we do this so children can hear a clearer version of what they’re saying, which helps them improve their pronunciation. But it’s also because we’re double checking what we think they’re saying. (And honestly, I’m guessing there’s some straight-up biological imperative mixed in there, too.)

Anyway, all of this is preamble and context so I can share a conversation I had with Cutie the other day.

Cutie: Daddy Faat es laou!

Me: Daddy’s fart is loud?

Cutie nods: Es yike ayafat.

I’m clueless here, so I look to Sarah.

Sarah: It’s like an elephant?

Cutie nods again: Daddy’s faat es yike a yion wohr!

Me: Daddy’s fart is like a lion?

Cutie: Wohr!

Me: It’s like a lion’s roar?

Cutie nods again.

So… yeah. Now you know. Even if you didn’t want to know, you still know. And you can’t unknow it.

Sorry about that.

pat

P.S. In case you were wondering, having kids is pretty great.

Also posted in Cutie Snoo, day in the life, things I shouldn't talk about | By Pat24 Responses

A Story about My Mom, Haiti, and Irresistible Math

As I write this blog, Worldbuilders has raised nearly $516,000.

That was going to be my big announcement today, that we broke half a million dollars.

But it turns out I actually have a much bigger piece of news to share.

Today, Heifer International is running a special event in conjunction with Giving Tuesday. For one day, all donations made to Heifer will be matched and put toward their work in Haiti.

There’s two reasons that this is a big deal for me.

The first reason has to do with my mom. I don’t talk about her a lot on the blog, though I think of her constantly.

Marge and Patrick at Beach 1-1

(Here she is. With her little boy, long ago.)

You see, years and years ago, my mom went to Haiti.

It’s a long story, but the nutshell version is that she moved down to Haiti for two weeks to help run an orphanage in Port au Prince. This orphanage took care of babies that people abandoned at hospitals, usually because the babies were really sick, or they had permanently debilitating medical conditions. The parents left the children because they were desperately poor, and had no way to pay for their care.

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But the hospitals couldn’t afford to care for the kids, either. Because the government in Haiti doesn’t pay for that. And the orphanage wasn’t in the nice part of town, so the government wasn’t giving them any money either. As a result, this wasn’t one of those posh orphanages like in Annie. They didn’t have beds for the kids, for one thing. But that doesn’t even begin to paint the picture for you. Huge swaths of Port au Prince don’t have any infrastructure at all, so the orphanage didn’t have luxuries like, say, running water.

Imagine that. Imagine taking care of these poor disabled babies and not having any running water. And I don’t mean that they couldn’t take showers regularly. I mean nothing came out of the faucets. They got water out of a cistern that was open to the air. They hoped for rain to re-fill it, and they had to boil every drop they drank and cooked with.

As a result, my mom came back from Haiti with a parasitic infection that took her years of serious medicine to get rid of.

She also came back with stories.

Marge in Haiti

I could tell you a lot of stories about the time my mother spent there. But the truth is, if you’ve read my books, you already know some of them. When she was there, my mom met an old barefoot man who took care of orphan boys with physical and developmental problems. A lot of times the boys were dangerous to themselves or others.

I saw a picture of him once. My mom said he was barefoot all the time, and she suspected he might have been a Trappist monk at some point in his life.

Sound familiar?

The stories my mom brought back from Haiti gave me my first glimmering realization that not everyone’s life was like mine. Not everyone could microwave a burrito when they got hungry. Not everyone had clean water to drink. There was an entirely different world out there where people were so poor, they had to abandon their babies if they were born sick.

So. That’s the first part of the reason I’m excited about Heifer matching donations today and all the proceeds are going to projects in Haiti. Because the roots of Worldbuilders go all the way back to my mom’s experiences there. The stories she told me.

The second reason I’m excited is when we caught wind of Heifer’s event last night, we gave them a call and did our very best fast-talking. And because Heifer is full of cool people, they’ve agreed to let our fundraiser take part in their event.

This means, that for the entire day, every dollar you donate on the Worldbuilders team page will be matched. (And you’ll be entered in our prize lottery.)

This is great news for us. Huge news. And I can’t thank Heifer enough for being willing to work with us on such short notice to make this happen.

But even so, something hasn’t been sitting right with me. I’ve been up all night rolling this around in my head. I’ve been looking through old pictures and thinking about my mom.

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If my mom was still around, she would be moving heaven and earth today for this fundraiser. She’s be baking cookies and making quilts and talking to people at church. She would be filming goofy stretch goals and helping us package up orders in Tinker’s Packs.

And she’d do more than that. She’d put her money where her mouth was.

But here’s the thing. At the start of this year’s fundraiser, I’d decided that I wasn’t going to donate any more money to Worldbuilders. I’d talked myself out of it. I’d already given a bunch of money to charity this year, (Syrian Refugees, First Book, etc.) I’d done my part. I was going to be done.

And besides, I’ve kinda been saving up to build a house out in the country.

And besides, I already give a bunch of my time and energy to the fundraiser, right?

And then I think about my mom. And I think about kids in Haiti.

So here’s what we’re going to do.

If you donate to Worldbuilders today. I’m going to match your donation. Then we’re going to take ALL that money to Heifer and they’ll match both of us. So if you chip in today, your donation will be doubled, then doubled again.

I’ll match up to 100,000 dollars. I’ll let you do the math on that.

Come on, folks. Let’s be awesome together.

Here’s your link.

[Edit: Hey guys, Amanda here! I’ll be in the comments answering questions all day, and we’ve had a fair number come in already, but you can always email us at questions [@] worldbuilders.org as well]

Also posted in mom, Worldbuilders 2015 | By Pat68 Responses

Books, Games, Terror, and Toddlers

As I sit down to write up my traditional blog full of Rothfuss-specific items I’m putting into the fundraiser, I notice that Worldbuilders has just crested over the $100,000 mark.

This fills me with joy. Not only because it confirms that all of you are lovely, generous people. But also because it means we’ve passed two stretch goals, and have just unlocked a third, where Nika Harper will do a Tarot reading for a goat.

What were the previous two stretch goals? Well, I brought my littlest boy (codename Cutie Snoo) into Worldbuilders the other day to see the team. While we were there, I found myself wondering what would happen if I introduced him to one of the … odder people that hangs around in our basement.

Namely, Cinder.

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This is a life-sized statue created from whole cloth by Ravn Cotino. He kickstarted the project, then donated the statue to Worldbuilders.

If you’ve been following the Worldbuilders blog, you know how it arrived and has been freaking everyone out several months. Including me. Because let me tell you, nothing is better than showing up at Worldbuilders at midnight, knowing I’ll be able to have the place to myself while I sign books for the Tinker’s Packs. And then, while I’m catching up on the Nightvale podcast, I wander back to get a fresh pen and see this out of the corner of my eye….

Cinder crop

So yeah. It’s only natural that when I brought my not-yet-quite two year old toddler into the office, I proposed that we expose him to this tangible nightmare as a stretch goal for charity.

This is what happened.

If you want to see the other stretch goals as we unlock them, or see what’s coming in the future, you can take a peek at them on the Worldbuilders page.

Now, on to today’s prizes.

*     *     *

First and foremost we’ll start with the items going into the prize lottery. For every 10 dollars you kick in on our donation page you have a chance to win these items and many, many others.

Lottery Items

  • Card Decks: Sets of Name of the Wind, Pairs, and Geek a Week Decks

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There are 3 different Name of the Wind decks (Limited, Unlimited, and Magician’s Deck), 4 different Pairs decks (Commonwealth, Princess & Mr. Whiffle, Modegan, and Faen), and 3 different Geek-a-Week decks (Season 1, Season 5, and Season 5 Limited).

I’m putting 10 of each set in, so that’s 30 prizes into the GAMES part of the lottery.

  • A Set of Foreign Editions in the Language of Your Choice

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My books have been published in 35 different languages, and I get between 5-10 “author copies” of each edition. More if the book goes into multiple printings.

Whoever wins this item will receive everything I have published in the language of their choice. Love Portuguese? You can have O Nome Do VentoO Medo Do Homem Sábio, and A Música do Silêncio. Want to give the book to your Grandma who only speaks Estonian? We’ve got you covered. We even have the rare, out of print set of the 3-volume Japanese edition of Name of the Wind.

And if you don’t want to leave it to chance, you can always buy some copies straight out of the The Tinker’s Packs, where all proceeds go to Worldbuilders.

Stuff in the Store

Speaking of the store, we have a lot of items in there you might not be aware of. And for the duration of the fundraiser, all the sales in the store count toward raising our donation totals and unlocking new stretch goals.

  • T-shirts

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We have a lot of t-shirts. So many we don’t have enough staff to model them. Our Eolian hoodie, a onesie, and a scarf, all over in the Apparel section of the store.

  • Games & Collectibles

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There are lots of games in The Tinker’s Packs, including some limited edition game pieces, like the Draccus monster for King of Tokyo and King of New York (it works for either game).

We also have Boss Monster and Boss Monster 2, which has limited edition Bast & Bastas heroes you can kill (again, in either game). Plus there’s cool collectible game stuff like our True Copper Dice made by Shire Post Mint.

  • Jewelry

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There’s lots of jewelry too, like the Pinny Arcade Talent Pipes pin, Auri’s Brazen Gear, the official Eolian Talent Pipes, and even Denna’s Ring. There’s a lot more than that, though, so be sure to head over and peruse to your heart’s desire.

Lottery AND Auction

There’s a lot of stuff that I wanted people to have a chance at winning, even though the items are bit more limited and rare. So for everything in this section, I’m putting one item up in an auction (for folks with more money, or who want a sure thing) and one going into the lottery (So everyone who donates gets a chance.)

  • Doodled Beta copy of Princess 2. A Matching Set of Numbered Princess 1 & 2. All signed by me and Nate Taylor.

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These are all really rare.

When we were working on the second princess book, Nate would send me his newest illustrations, I’d get them printed and bound, then get feedback from friends. After that was done, I had a few left over, so Nate signed and doodled them. There’s one up for auction right here, and one in the lottery.

We also have fancy numbered editions of the Princess books.  They’re both numbered editions, leather bound, with beautiful signature pages signed by both me and Nate. We have two matching sets, so one is in the lottery, and the other is in an auction here.

  • Rare books: 1st Edition Name of the Wind. ARC copy of Unfettered.

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Here you have it guys. I’ve had to start buying 1st editions off of people at signings to keep Worldbuilders stocked for things like this. One first edition/first printing of NOTW is going into the lottery, and the other is in an auction. We sold three of these for $2500 last summer, so I can only imagine what this will go for.

These ARCs of Unfettered are pretty rare too. The regular print run only had 5,000 copies, and there are only 250 of these ARCs.  Here’s the link to the auction if you just can’t leave it to chance, otherwise one is in the lottery as well.

Auctions

There are some things that are just too specialized to put into the lottery, so we’re auctioning these off to make sure they’re going to get into the right hands.

  •  General Geekery: Limited Edition Boss Monster cards, Master Set of  Cealdish Coins, and 300 Chip Poker Set.

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The first is an auction for the Quothe Ladykiller, Bast, and Bastas Hero Cards for Boss Monster. There were only ever 200 made, and we only have this one because a fan donated it back to us.  Auction is here.

We also have a 300-piece poker set from the Albino Dragon Kickstarter a while back. This contains 60 of each color chip, all three decks, plus some extras in in a lovely wooden case. The bidding starts here.

Next up is a Master Set of my Cealdish currency, made by the folks at Shire Post Mint. This even includes version 1.2 of the iron drab, which  you can’t get any other way. We only made 94 of these, and they’ve been sold out since about 2 hours after we made them available.

To bid on this, head over here.

  • Bookish Geekery: ARC of NOTW, ARC of WMF, Edited & Critiqued NOTW Text Scarf.

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It’s getting harder to find ARC copies of The Name of the Wind, but we’ve got one up for auction. It’s one of the cool rarities where they didn’t print on the dust jacket image. Instead my editor, Betsy, wrote a note on the cover explaining why people should take a risk on this unknown author named Patrick Rothfuss.

There’s also a Wise Man’s Fear ARC looking for a new home, and if there’s a space for it on your shelf you can bid on it here. These are extremely rare (only 227 copies were ever printed), and all of them were numbered so that we’d know who had leaked their copy if one sold before the actual book release.

Those of you signed up for The Tinker’s Packs newsletter probably saw one of the new items launched last month, an infinity scarf printed with text from The Name of the Wind. I took the liberty of correcting some of the purpler prose on one of the scarves, and it’s going up for auction. This one is truly one-of-a-kind, because the team took my pen away before I could correct the rest of the scarves.

* * *

So there you go, folks. A bunch of signed and rare stuff in the Lottery, new items in the store, and unique items up for auction. A little bit of something for everybody.

Don’t forget: I’m streaming on Twitch every evening from 4:00-7:00 CST. I’ll either be working on Book 3 or playing Fallout 4 depending on which option people vote for.

The auctions for professional critiques of your manuscript go through Sunday, so be sure to check those out too.

Thanks for helping out, everyone. And thanks for spreading the word…

Also posted in a billion links, Acts of Whimsy, Cutie Snoo, Worldbuilders 2015 | By Pat26 Responses

Using Your Words

If you read this blog (and I’m guessing most of you do) you know I tell a lot of stories about my older boy, Oot, who’s creeping up on 6.

I have another son, who’s a little over 18 months old. I don’t talk about him as much for the simple reason that when you’re that young, there aren’t as many stories to share. Babies are, to be completely honest, fairly useless. They can’t do much, either physically or conversationally.

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But Cutie Snoo has been talking more lately. What’s more, he’s started saying “dada” again, after a few months of heartbreaking hiatus.

It’s a fascinating time in a kid’s development. He’s learning how to express himself, and if you’re good at interpreting, you can get a little window into how his charmingly unspoiled little baby mind works.

Tonight, I ended up having to do a fair amount of work (because that’s what Labor Day is all about, right? Working until 9:30 pm?) and as a result, I missed my kid’s bedtime. By the time I wrapped up the things that needed immidate attention and opened the door to my office, the house was dark and quiet.

Still, I crept into the room where they sleep with Sarah. It was dark and as I stepped close she said, “the end,” finishing what was no doubt their bedtime story.

“dada” Cutie said.

I crawled into the bed and lay next to him. It’s a big bed, but I still had to move carefully because he’s so tiny and it’s so dark.

I smooched him, and he squirmed around a little bit until he was nestled next to Sarah, then he said: “my mama.”

There’s only so much that text can do to replicate a baby’s speech. Most linguists agree that nonverbal communication (which includes things like tone, inflection, and body language) accounts for about 80% of the total information transmitted when we talk. But when you’re a baby and your entire sentence is two words, that number is pushed even higher.

Here’s part of what he was saying: “My mom is here.”

But he was also saying, “Look at me, cuddled up against my mom.”

But he was also saying, “Look, this is my space. There are boobs, like, right here, and they’re great, and that’s kinda my thing, and I’m going to sleep next to them. So just be clear, I’m glad you’re here, but don’t try to pull any shit with me. This is *my* mom. Okay? Okay.”

(In his defense, I do sometimes tease him by trying to steal the boobs from him while he’s nursing. So this is not an unfounded fear on his part.)

Last and not least, he was also saying, “Isn’t this great?”

It was clear as day what he meant. And now that I was closer to him and my eyes had adjusted a little, I could see him smiling. His tone was so contented that it was actually kinda smug. And his body language… he wasn’t just relaxed. He was deliberately and theatrically lounging.

It made me realize how awesome his life is. Think about it. How cool must it be to go to sleep next to the person you love without any reservation? The person who is, in effect, three quarters of the known universe? To know if you are hungry or need comfort or a cuddle, a boob is right there. Like, literally, right by your head. To know that you’re cared for. To know you’ll be taken care of. To not have any fears or worries that ride you into the night and make you wake up sweating?

What must that be like, to feel like that for days at a time?

I’m not going to lie. Thinking about it now, I’m more than slightly jealous.

But at the moment, I was jealous for a different reason. He’d said, “My mama” with such smugness and satisfaction, but he’s never said, “my dada.”

I should be better than that, I know. But I’m not. I’m not going to carry a grudge or anything, but still, I can be jealous.

“My baby,” I say, and I kiss his belly.

I say goodnight to him, and give more kisses, and promise that tomorrow I’ll try to spend more time with him.

“Bye,” he says. “Go. Go!” he pushes at me with his foot. This might sound like a dick move. But it was playful. Not mean. And there’s nothing wrong with letting someone know what you really want. If I was all geared up to snuggle with a boob as big as my head and someone was there who might ruin it for me… well… I’d kick them the hell out of my bed, too.

I get up and I say goodnight to Oot, too. (He’s on the other side of Sarah.)

Then I get up and start to leave. “Goodnight my family,” I say.

“My dada,” Cutie says, and I get all melty inside.

“My baby,” I say.

“He’s reaching up for you.” Sarah tells me, because she knows I can’t see him in the dim.

So I get down into the bed and kiss him again. A lot. On their deathbed, nobody ever says, “I wasted my life kissing babies.”

Still. Oot has school in the morning. I know I’m keeping them all from getting to sleep. So I get up.

“Mo,” Cutie says. This is one of his other few words: more.

“Mo dada,” he says. In the dark, I can see he’s reaching up again. “Mo my dada. Mo bebe dada. No bye dada bebe.”

I think it was Robert Bly who said vocabulary wasn’t important for a writer. He claimed you could write marvelous poetry even if you only knew 200 words, so long as you knew how to use them properly to get your point across…

He’s not wrong.

Later all,

pat

Also posted in Cutie Snoo, day in the life | By Pat34 Responses

Being Evil

Tonight, I was playing in the living room with my girlfriend (Sarah) my oldest son (codename Oot: age 5.5) and my youngest son (codename Cutie Snoo, age 1.5)

It wasn’t anything fancy. Nothing organized. I’d just come back from recording this week’s podcast with Max Temkin, and rather than head upstairs to do more e-mail, as I am wont to do, I decided to stay downstairs and play with the kids.

A large part of this is because my Cutie is at a magical age. 18 months is pretty awesome. After a bit of a hiatus, he’s saying da-da again, and it pulls at my heart.

Those of you without kids might have trouble understanding how enthusiastic an 18 month-old can be. Let me explain.

You know how excited a dog can get when you’ve been away for a couple hours? (Or let’s be honest, when you’ve just left the room for a couple minutes). At 18 months, my little boy has that level of enthusiasm. He runs up to me, his face all lit up, grinning, his legs doing that straight up-and-down stomping walk that’s the closest he can get to a run.

And all the time he’s saying “da-da-da-da-da-da!”

So yeah. It’s pretty fucking amazing. I’m not going to lie.

Anyway, I’m hanging out with my family, and Oot walks up to Sarah and says, “I’m so… thirsty! Can you please… get me… a drink of water?”

His performance makes it clear that he is about to die from thirst. People in the desert don’t have it this bad. He’s really going full Shatner in his performance.

Sarah starts to get up to get him a drink of water. She does this because she loves him.

Sarah and Oot

(Exhibit A)

“You know where the water is,” I say to Oot. “You can get yourself a drink. You’re a very grown-up child.”

I say this because I love him too. Sarah and exhibit our love in different ways. She wants him to be happy now. I want him to be happy in the future, and part of that is making sure he’s self-reliant.

Plus he’s five. If we were living in the wild, he’d be hunting and cooking birds on his own. So yeah. He can get his own drink of water.

But here’s the thing, it’s a little late at night. The kitchen is on the other side of the house. It’s a whole, like, 50 feet away. And it’s late in the evening, so that part of the house is kinda dim.

And he’s five, so he’s a little scared of being alone, and of the dark.

“Will you come with me?” he asks.

This is a familiar dance. We want him to do things for himself. He wants company. We want him to be brave. He wants to feel safe.

Nobody’s wrong here. We all want good things. But they’re in conflict.

“You can do it,” I say. “I know you can.” (Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not some muy mas macho monster. If it was fully dark in there, I’d work with him. But it’s not. He can handle it. He has before. It’s good practice for him.

I’ll tell you a story,” Sarah says.

This is a compromise we use sometimes. If he hears our voices, he knows he’s not alone. So one of us will tell him a story, and it will help him go somewhere in the house when he’s a little spooked.

“I’ll tell you a story,” I say.

“I want mom to do it,” he says, moving toward the baby gate that leads into the dining room.

He’s on to me.

Once there was a little boy who really liked candy,” Sarah says. “So he decided to go exploring.

I’m going to be honest here, Sarah’s narrative structure isn’t the best. Her themes can be kinda muddy sometimes, and, truthfully, her stories are often really lacking in terms of the Aristotelian unities. But even so, I know she’s up for this. Two minutes of story will get Oot into the kitchen and back. I watch as he opens the gate then turns on the light to the dining room. Out of our line of sight. Out of his line of sight. He’s gone.

So one day he walked out into the the backyard and he found–

A Thousand Angry Ghosts!” I say. I don’t yell it. But I say it in a really loud voice. My phantom of the opera voice. I project from my diaphragm.

And from the other room, comes a high, piercing scream. It lasts for a full two seconds.

Then Oot comes running back into the living room.

You’re going to have to trust me on this, it was *super* funny. Sarah will back me up on this.

You see, most days, I’m a good dad.

Other days, I’m an AWESOME dad.

Stay tuned, everyone. Soon we’ll have bedtime stories.

Seriously,

pat

Also posted in Beautiful Games, Because I Love, Cutie Snoo, Oot, podcasts, Sarah | By Pat26 Responses
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