Category Archives: Sarah

Calling all Troupers: The Birds and the Bees

Yesterday, the Worldbuilders fundraiser passed $1.8 million.

Support has been pouring in from all sides as people continue to donate and help spread the word. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the help you have given us…

Also, we’ve been adding new items to our prize lottery left and right. We’re currently giving away more than $185,000 dollars worth of geeky swag. So much stuff that if you donate $30, you have a 12% of winning something. We’re giving away thousands of books and games, a gaming table from Geek Chic, a cabin for two on the 2017 Joco Cruise, this beautiful Tak board from Wyrmwood games…

kingkillertakboardpanel(I want it. So. Much.)

You know what else donating $30 dollars does? It buys a family honeybees….

Improving Food Security and Nutrition of Coffee Farm Workers' FaThis is Feliciana Martin, a small-scale coffee farmer. Her one-acre farm barely supported her and her daughter until she received the gift of honeybees from Heifer International in 2012. Since then, Feliciana has seen a noticeable increase in her coffee harvest every year. This isn’t really surprising, as improved pollination can increase crop yields in any farm by as much as 200-300%.

What’s more, Feliciana is now also able to collect and sell honey, providing her with additional income. As a bonus, coffee honey is believed to taste better than regular honey, so she is able to charge about 10 percent more.

Improving Food Security and Nutrition of Coffee Farm Workers' Fa(Additional note: Now I *really* want to try coffee honey.)

She collected 60 pounds of honey in the first six months and doubled the number of hives she owns. Then she trained some neighbors on the proper care of bees and gave them hives to start them on their own road to increased independence. This is called “Passing on the Gift.” All Heifer recipients take part it, and it’s a big piece of what makes Heifer’s work so amazing and long-lasting. The good Heifer does spreads through a community like a shockwave, spreading outward for generations…

Feliciana dreams of a better life for her daughter. Now, with more reliable income she can use for food, medicine, and schooling, that dream is a reality.

That’s what we’re doing here, folks.

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

*     *     *

Except after I typed that dramatic little asterisky scene break there, I realized I’d just told you a lie….

The truth is, this year that’s not what happens if you donate thirty dollars. This year Worldbuilders has access to matching money. So if you give us $30, we’re going to double it and send $60 on to Heifer International.

So… yeah. This is your big chance, folks. Kick in some cash and know that you’re sending twice the awesome into the world….

*     *     *

And speaking of awesome things, one of my favorite team pages is back this year. Little Charlotte, joined by her sister Maggie, have started an online concert to support Worldbuilders.

Please do me a favor and watch this video.

Seriously. You can spare the time. It will improve your day.

Over the last couple weeks, whenever I started to feel tired, or beat down, I’d watch this video. Watching how excited these girls were at the thought of holding their online concert and raising money for Worldbuilders gave me a boost when I really needed it.

As time went on, I came to realize that I really *really* wanted to help make Charlotte and Maggie’s concert a success. I love that these girls want to change the world.

So I decided to put my money where my mouth is, and I donated to their page.

And *then* I decided to put my mouth where my mouth is, and when my throat recovered from my cold, Sarah and I sang a bunch of songs together on my livestream. And then, using their carefully detailed instructions, we added them to the playlist.

Then we sent out links to some of our our favorite geeky musician friends to see if they’d be willing to participate. And they added songs they’d already recorded to the playlist, and now we’re up to 50 videos in the online concert.

So now, at last, I’m reaching out to you.

I invite you to listen to these songs. I hope they bring you joy.

I invite you to record songs of your own and add them to the list. Don’t worry if your voice is not perfect. That’s not what this is about. (I feel I make that perfectly clear in my videos.)

But more than anything, I would love it if you donated to Charlotte and Maggie’s team page. They worked really hard on this, and they deserve some love.

Spread the word about the concert. Share the videos you like.

Music brings people together in a a way that nothing else does.

So come join us. Sing along.

Donate. Spread the word.

Save the world.

Also posted in calling on the legions, music, My Mom Would Like This Blog, Worldbuilders 2016 | By Pat10 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 babies, Beautiful Games, Because I Love, Cutie Snoo, Oot, podcasts | By Pat26 Responses

The New News….

Guess who’s having a baby?

Little Bun

Posted in Sarah | By Pat142 Responses

Snowmen and Second Chances

So earlier this month, I started to catch up on certain things in my life. I turned in a story that’s three months late. I caught up on reading my backlog of e-mail (well… most of it). I got back in touch with people I’ve been meaning to e-mail for months.

And at the beginning of the month, spring started to arrive here in Wisconsin.

You would think this would be a cheerful thing for me. Birds singing. Flowers budding. All that Disney shit.

But you’d be wrong about that.

For one thing, you’re thinking of the wrong sort of spring. In Wisconsin, spring really just means the snow melts. Everything is brown and grey and muddy. It rains. The trees stretch their bare, black branches into the slate-grey sky like they’re auditioning for a part in a particularly emo T.S. Elliot poem.

Yeah, eventually things green up. It gets warm. Trees bud. But that’s in May. That’s *late* spring. Early spring is depressing as fuck.

The other reason spring isn’t very cheerful for me is that in my head, spring isn’t a beginning time. Spring is an ending time for me. Maybe it’s because for 20+ years of my life, I lived by the school year, rather than the calendar year. And May (Which again, is spring in Wisconsin) is the end of the school year.

Whatever the reason, spring is a melancholy time for me. I don’t think, “Yay! A new year is starting!”

No. I think, “I was so busy this winter that I didn’t take time to make a single snow angel. I didn’t build a snow fort like I wanted to with Oot. I didn’t even make a snowman with him. I don’t think I even made a snowball this year.”

It’s a depressing thought.

Luckily for me, Stevens Point got about three inches of snow last week. Then last night, on Saturday, we got about four more. Good wet packing snow.

It’s nice to get a second chance. Especially when you don’t deserve it. To ignore such a gift would be reckless to the point of arrogance.

So today I took a couple hours and focused on the important things.

Best crop

(Click to Embiggen.)

Those of you who live in the uncivilized backwaters of the world might not know what Sarah is doing back there. But anyone here in Wisconsin can tell by the tracks in the snow….

We’re making snowmen. Snowpersons, rather. A whole snow family.

Snow family

The one in the middle is Oot, pretending to be a snowchild with his corncob pipe. Or, as he refers to it, his smoker.

If you have trouble with snowman gender identity, let me clarify by pointing out that the one on the right is me, while the one on the left is Sarah. You can tell because the one on the left is more cheerful, and looks better in her hat. While the one on the right is more full of shit.

And no, I’m not speaking figuratively. I’m talking about this:

full view

Can’t see it? Let me get you closer….

Close up of deer

There’s a herd of deer that regularly hang out in our backyard. This is one of the many nice things about living in central Wisconsin. Some deer poop in your snowman is a small price to pay. It’s as inoffensive as rabbit poop. The two are virtually indistinguishable, truth be told.

The other way you can tell the difference between snowme and snowsarah is that snowme has an icicle beard….

icebeard and pat

Next time, I think I’ll go for the pine beard, as the icicle one is hard to see.

If you can’t tell which one is the real me, it’s the one on the right. I have better posture than snowme, and I’m more full of shit. (Figuratively.)

Also, for those of you who are curious, that is my favorite coat. (Well… I only have two, but it’s still my favorite.) I’ve had it for over twenty years. That’s why it looks a little the worse for wear….

Anyway, to wrap things up, here’s our whole snow family:

snowfam

And with that I will leave you.

May you all have a relatively pain-free tax day. May you all have ample opportunity to make snowmen, and more second chances than you deserve.

pat

Also posted in day in the life, my beard, Oot, small adventures | By Pat52 Responses

My First Discworld Convention

So this weekend I went to NADWcon: The North American Discworld convention.

I know what you’re thinking. Technically there shouldn’t be a “W” in that acronym. But without it, they’d have to call the convention NADcon, and that would attract the entirely wrong sort of attendee.

Truth is, the last thing I needed in my schedule right now was another convention. It’s not that I don’t enjoy cons, I do. I love hanging out with other geeks, being on panels, doing readings and signing books. It’s a good time.

But conventions tend to be expensive, exhausting, and time-consuming. Any two of those are hard to deal with, but all three together can be a crushing combination. Especially now that little Oot is in the picture. He’s sentient enough to miss me, and I feel guilty leaving him for days at a time.

Luckily, this con was in Madison, which is pretty much my backyard. I can drive there in less than two hours, and Sarah and Oot can come along with relatively little hassle.

But the real reason I was willing to go to this convention was the fact that Terry Pratchett was attending.

I’ve talked about Pratchett’s books on the blog before. Most specifically, his book Nation, and the Tiffany Aching series.

I haven’t bothered mentioning him much more than that for the simple reason that I assume you’ve already read his stuff. If you read my books, you read fantasy. And if you read fantasy, you know about Terry Pratchett. Q.E.D.

Anyway. Suffice to say that I’m a Pratchett fan. I’ve been reading him for more than 20 years, and the thought of getting to see him in person was too much to pass up.

The convention was a different experience for me. I’m used to cons where all different types of geeks get together and revel in their nerdery. You’ll see someone dressed up as Harry Dresden chatting with a hot vulcan girl. You’ll see a catgirl playing Catan with a kid wearing a Dalek outfit.

But at this con, the focus was all Pratchett, and 98% of that focus was Discworld.

That means no catgirls. Many feegles.

I did a tiny signing and a tiny reading. I wasn’t really an official part of the convention because I don’t have anything to do with Pratchett (other than liking him a bunch.) But that itself was nice in a way, as it meant I could spend time with my family.

Cool things:

  • There was a guy there who did crazy-cool balloon animals. I’m not talking about a hat or a poodle or shit like that. I’m talking about Death Riding A Motorcycle.

Or Granny Weatherwax:

He also did a cool dragon for Oot:

This picture doesn’t do the dragon justice. You’ll have to take my word for the fact that it’s awesome, and it looks like it’s breathing fire.

  • I got to hear Terry talk about writing and tell stories.

A lot of the biggest panels were ones featuring Terry himself. Including one about his work on The Long Earth with Steven Baxter.

  • Swag.

I bought a copy of Thud! and some coins and stamps from Discworld. It’s cool to see things like stamps from a fictional world. They’re an odd combination of souvenir and artifact. I’d love to make some coins set in the Four Corners world….

  • Neil Gaiman.

Neil made a surprise appearance at the con where he and Terry spent a couple of hours talking about Good Omens on a panel. It was cool watching them tell embarrassing stories about each other. They knew each other back in the day, back before they strode the earth like titans.

Oot slept through the panel, which was nice, as that meant Sarah and I both got to listen to it, as opposed to having to tag-team and take turns watching him.

He woke up at the very end, just as Gaiman was presenting Pratchett with an award. After looking around bleerily for a moment, he correctly sensed the mood of the room and burst out with a preemptive “Yay!”

It was a sentiment pretty much everyone shared.

It was a good time overall. Oot made some kid-aged friends and got to climb stairs, so he was happy. Sarah got to go to a con and bum around State Street a bit, so she had a good time, too.

But for me, the high point of the weekend was on the last day of the con, when I got Terry Pratchett’s autograph.

More about that tomorrow,

pat

Also posted in conventions, Oot, Tales from the Con | By Pat33 Responses

The beginings of story…

First, an announcement. I’m going to be doing a little reading/signing in Waupaca tomorrow. Friday the 6th.

Details on the tour page or on the Facebook event here.

Second, a story.

It’s a story about stories, actually. That hopefully shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone here….

These days, little Oot has all sorts of words. The days of his vocabulary being a handful of words, most of which sound like “duck,” are long past.

What amazes me is how quickly some things are developing.

Today he wanted to make a pillow fort. So we made a pillow fort. Because pillow forts are awesome.

(Box forts are also awesome.)

After the fort was done, he walked across the bed, picked up a book, and brought it back to me.

Oot loves books. Sarah reads to him all the time. I read to him a lot, too, but Sarah beats me out in sheer hours, as she spends all day with him, while on a good day, I’ll only have three or four.

So he brings me a book, but it wasn’t a picture book. It’s the book that Sarah’s currently reading, my copy of Brandon Sanderson’s The Hero of Ages.

He holds the book out to me and says, “Daddie.”

This means many things. His inflection tells me that he knows its my book. But it also means he wants me to read it to him as well. He can say a lot with just one word, and I’ve become very good at interpreting in this last year.

He sits in my lap, and we put the book in front of us. (We only had three pillows, you see, so I was the back wall of the fort.)

I open the book up to the middle and point at the text. “Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Oot,” I say. “He was very nice. One day, he wanted to go for a walk. So he went outside with his momma, and he got in the wagon.”

I know he doesn’t understand all of it. But he can catch the gist. He can use a lot of these words himself. I think it sounds kinda like this to him:

“Xxxx xxxx x xxxx, xxxxx xxx x little xxx named Oot. He xxx xxxx nice. One xxx, he wanted xx go xxx x walk. Xx he xxxx outside xxxx his momma, xxx xxxx xxx in the wagon.”

I would bet serious money this is what it sounds like to him. Because these last couple of weeks, this is exactly what he talks like.

He says: “Ya ya ya ya ya ya ya daddie,” and points at a picture of me on the fridge. He’s obviously saying something about the picture of me, but he doesn’t know that the rest of the words should be. “Ya ya ya ya ya book. Ya ya ya ya ya eyaphant. (elephant)”

Anyway, I’m making up a little story for Oot. After every couple sentences I turn a page, because that’s what happens when you read a book. I know the game. We’ve done this before.

But this time things are different.

“…and he got in the wagon,” I say.

“Dog!” Oot interjects. “Bark.”

It takes me a second to figure out what he’s talking about. We keep his wagon in the garage, and sometimes the next door neighbor’s dog is out there.

“And Oot saw a dog,” I say. “And the dog barked and barked. Then momma put Oot in the wagon and pulled it.”

“Stand!” Everything he says has an exclamation point at the end of it. It’s said with such certainty. These words aren’t exclamations as much as they’re declamations. Assume that what I’m using is a declamation point at the end of his sentences.

I continue: “Then Oot tried to stand up in the wagon, but his momma said, ‘Oh no. Be careful.’ So Oot sat down in the wagon again and his momma pulled it.”

He seems satisfied with this. I turn a page.

“On their walk, they saw a tree, and a rock…”

“Geddit!” he says. “Trowit!” he moves his arm excitedly, like he’s throwing. “Air!”

“And Oot took the rock and threw it through the air.”

“Bird! Fly! Up!”

“And they saw a bird flying high up in the sky.” I pause. “Is a bird big or little?”

“Eeedie beetie,” he says in a high voice, holding out two fingers pinched close together. (itty-bitty)

“What does the bird say?”

“Teet.”

“Does a bird say, ‘Toot?'”

He shakes his head. “No.”

This makes me sad. Birds used to say, “toot.” I really liked that. It was cute as hell…

I turn the page. “Oot and momma go and have some dinner. They have soup and carrots….”

“Candy!” he says. This word is perfectly enunciated, though a little long on the “a” sound. “Caaandy.”

“First they eat soup,” I say. Doing my best to maintain rule of law, even in the story. “First chicken and pickle. Then candy.”

“Choccat!”

I didn’t know he knew that word. He must have learned it over Easter.

“Yes,” I concede, “then they had chocolate. Then they came home.” I close the book. “The end.”

This is how deeply rooted stories are, folks. We crave them before we can walk, and we start telling them before we can talk.

That’s all for now, be good to each other.

pat

Also posted in appearances, Oot, Stories about stories. | By Pat72 Responses

Fanmail and Hummus

I have just now managed to get through the last of my e-mail backlog that built up while I was on tour. Who ever knew that it would take so long to work my way through a mere 2000 messages.

Next on my list is going through the 600 or so pieces of fanmail that have built up while I was gone. These are mostly e-mail too, though I do have a couple dozen old-fashioned envelopey messages too.

I used to respond personally to every message. But those days are long gone. I just don’t have the time anymore. But I do read them all. I don’t have anyone filter or pre-sort them for me.

On the home front, I’m having a good time hanging out with my baby. Little Oot is 18 months now, and he’s picking up words like crazy. When I came home on the 7th, after a week of touring, I found out that he had learned how to say “Monkey.” I was impressed, but also kinda sad that I hadn’t been the one to teach him this word. Because… y’know… monkey.

I’d been home for about 10 minutes when Sarah said, “What did we eat for the first time today?”

Oot gave her a look that wasn’t exactly blank, but let her know that he needed a little more help.

Did we eat hummus?” Sarah prompted.

“Hummus,” Oot said. He said the word with a particular intensity. It wasn’t: “Hummus!” Not an exclamation. But it really wasn’t just “hummus,” either. It said it with emphasis. “Hummus.

He pronounced it “haahmis.” With a tiny bit of a lisp on the s. It was, quite possibly, the cutest thing I’d ever heard.

“Haahmis….” he said again. “Haahmis.” A two-second pause. “Haahmis.” Another pause. “Hummus nummus,” he said. Expressing the opinion that hummus was, in fact, delicious. (Yummy = Nummy. Nummy ~ Nummus.)

I quickly had to revise my cuteness scale. “Hummus Nummus” was now top of the cuteness chart.

He then proceeded to say nothing but “hummus” for the next ten minutes.

And you know what? It never stopped being cute. Why? Because my baby is fucking adorable.

(Click to encutenate.)

In other news, (for those of you who have been asking) I’ve made my first tentative steps into playing Dragon Age II. I’ve only played 6-7 hours or so, and thus far my feelings are mixed.

More soon, including news of a few more signings, and stories from the tour.

pat

Also posted in fanmail, Interviews, Oot | By Pat73 Responses
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