Category Archives: Valerie

A surfeit of surreality

So the other day I make a trip to the university surplus store. That’s the place where the University sells things that it doesn’t need anymore.

(Whoops. That should be university. No capital letter. It’s hard to break certain typing habits after working on the book.)

I love the surplus store. I’ve bought couches there. Chalkboards. Computers. The chair I’m sitting on right now came from the surplus store. Five bucks. It’s cushy and everything.

But on this particular day, I wander over because I hear the chemistry department has surplussed some of its glassware. Back before I fell under the dark sway of the liberal arts, I was studying to be a chemical engineer. I quit early on, before I could get sick of it. And as a result, I still have a real fondness for chemistry equipment. Especially the glassware.

So I head over and look at what they have. After poking around in a dozen boxes, I ask them what they’d take for the whole lot of it. We negotiate for a while, and eventually settle on a hundred fifty bucks for everything. I get them to throw in an old hand-crank centrifuge as well. Because if you’re going to have a  lab in your basement, why wouldn’t you want a hand-crank centrifuge?

It was a pretty frivolous purchase, I suppose. But I just love the stuff. Not even because it’s useful. Hell, some of the stuff I don’t even know what it’s called, let alone how to use it.

Other pieces are easier to identify.

This, for example, is obviously a bong:

This, on the other hand, is a much cooler, more complicated bong:

Okay, fine. I’m not sure what either one of those things is for. But look at the lower one. Witness its awesome. How could anyone not want something like that in their house?

After I bought the glassware I realized Sarah was off running errands. So my intrepid assistant Valerie offered to come pick me up and help me move the boxes.

While I was waiting for her, I wandered over to Starbucks for coffee. I know, I’m not proud of it. But I was on foot with half an hour to kill, and daddy needs his medicine.

By the way, we’re getting to the point of the story now. Did I mention that there was a point to this story? There is.

So I’m at Starbucks, trying to overcome the guilt of not supporting my locally owned, independent coffee shop. They don’t have blueberry syrup, either, which I figure is fair punishment for my betrayal.

Then the woman behind the counter says, “I really liked your book.”

I’m always surprised when someone recognizes me. It doesn’t happen that often, but it’s always flattering.  We talk about the book for a minute, and then I head out the door.

On the way back to the surplus store, I walk past a previously out-of-business store someone’s remodeling. I’ve heard a rumor that someone’s starting up a new restaurant in town called “Curry in a Hurry.” Needless to say, I’m delighted. Stevens Point is a nice place to live, but there’s no Indian food around these parts, and that makes me sad.

So I go over and ask the guy that’s painting a few questions. He confirms it is actually going to be the new curry place. I tell him that’s awesome. We smile.

Then, as I turn to leave, he says. “I’m a big fan.”

And this time it strikes me as a little weird. Two stranger in less than three minutes. And they haven’t just read my book, but they obviously know who I am and what I look like.

Still, I shrug it off. This is my hometown after all. And there have been more than a few local-boy-does-good stories in the paper. And I do have a bit of a distinctive look to me…

Given all that, I decide it’s just a coincidence, and that helps me keep my cool together.

But then, less than an hour later when I’m picking up an air conditioner at Menards, the guy in the loading bay smiles and says, “How are the books doing?”

And then it’s just all different colors of bizarre. Flattering? Sure. Cool? Yeah.  But mostly it was just weird. None of them said, “Are you that author guy?” They all just knew who I was. I’m not used to that. How can anyone ever be used to that?

Everything said, it made for a very surreal afternoon.

Later space cowboys,


Also posted in cool things, day in the life | By Firebirdblaze87 Responses

Signs of things to come…

Well, it took a little doing, but at this point we’ve got 99.9% of the raffle prizes packaged up and in the mail.

(Note: Oot is not a prize.)

Valerie did most of the packing and mailing, with solid assistance from a few others including Sarah and Oot. Though really, I don’t know if what Oot does can be considered assistance. Personally, I think he’s the weak member of the team. But Sarah and Valerie place great stock in cuteness, cooing, and the desire to bounce up and down while being held.

I don’t doubt that some of the books have already started arriving at the winners’ houses. If you’d like to send in a picture of you loving you cool new books, feel free to mail them to: paperback.contest [squiggly atsign thinger]

I helped with some of the packaging, but Valerie has perfectionist tendencies, and I tend to be a hardline proponent of function over form. After one particularly ugly wrapping job, I was told that my time would perhaps be better spent doing something else, like bouncing little Oot.

Personally, I thought the package was a marvel of engineering. Nigh-indestructible, in fact.

Sure it’s ugly, but it gets the job done. (I’m talking about the package.)

Anyway, the upshot is that the girl members of Team Elodin did most of the post-fundraiser sorting and shipping. Which is nice, as it freed me up to concentrate on the book.

And yes, I’ll be posting up news about that soon, so y’all can stop asking.

And no, there isn’t a publication date yet, so y’all can stop asking about that too.

I mean seriously. If the book had a solid pub date, don’t you think I’d mention it? Do you think I’d sit here at home, rubbing my hands together and chortling: “Yes! If I withhold this information another week, I’m sure to get another 100 e-mails asking me about the book!”

Yup. That’s exactly what I’d do. Because obviously I am some sort of alien life form that lives on snarky fanmail and bitchy blog comments. Since I became stranded on your strange world years ago, they have been my only means of sustenance.

That’s really the only explanation that makes any sense… Unless, of course, the reason I haven’t posted up any news is simply because there *isn’t* any news.

Now that I *do* have some news, I’ll write a post about it. It’s that simple. These things don’t happen faster because you ask for them, you realize. Quite the opposite, in fact.

So, if you care about that sort of thing, stay tuned. I’m planning on titling the post: “Why I Don’t Talk About Book Two.”

Oddly enough though, I *will* be talking about book two in that particular blog. Go figure.


Also posted in book two, Oot, Sarah, Worldbuilders 2009 | By Pat105 Responses

Aftermath and an Introduction

Y’know, as much as I love doing the fundraiser, I’m glad it’s over.

I started writing this blog mostly to relax, share interesting news, and amuse myself. I like to cuss in my posts and make the occasional odd joke about clown sex. But, strangely enough, I don’t feel comfortable doing those things in the middle of a charity fundraiser.

Now that we’re done being all charitable on the blog, I can get back to buisiness as usual here. Which is to say I can get back to not doing business and start screwing around instead.

Rest assured that in a week or so I’ll post up some final details about the fundraiser, and some exciting news about a few things that happened right at the end. But right now we’re dealing with the aftermath, assigning prizes, waiting for checks to clear, and preparing to wrap and package roughly a zillion books.

[Editorial note: Don’t email me asking if you won anything. Seriously.]

As many of you might remember from last year’s fundraiser, Sarah was my plucky assistant who worked tirelessly behind the scenes, helping me manage donations, take pictures of books, and package all the prizes.

This year, however, she’s been absolutely no help at all. When I asked her why she was being such a slacker, she reminded me that we had a baby now, and that boobing him took priority over pretty much everything else.

What’s that? Can I post a picture of him? You bet your ass I can….

(Click to Embiggen.)

Here Oot accompanied by one of his compatriots: Friendly Carrot. Not pictured here are Crazy Chicken, Subtle the Colorful Not-Mime, and Perverted Elephant.

Anyway, since Sarah is busy cooing and gurgling, I needed someone else to help me tend to the shop, as it were. That meant that until little Oot is old enough to copyedit, I needed an assistant.

So, without any further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Valerie:

(Say it with me now, “Hi Valerie!”)

Valerie has been helping me take care of a lot of the epiphenomena that tend to clutter up my life. She does research, organizes stuff, takes care of mail, runs errands….

Generally speaking, she takes care of a bunch of stuff for me, leaving me more time to work on the book.

Over the last two months, that means Valerie has been doing a lot of the heavy lifting behind the scenes of Worldbuilders. She takes pictures of the donations and has managed all the personalized books and posters people bought to support the cause.

She’s also been stockpiling the materials we’ll need to package up this year’s prizes.

(It’s fun to play with big rolls of bubble wrap.)

Suffice to say that without her help, Worldbuilders would have been a chaotic mess, and I wouldn’t have gotten a lick of work done on my revisions.

Anyway, she’s been working really hard on all this stuff. So I figured it was high time I introduced her…

Say hello Valerie.


No. Sorry. That won’t work. You can’t be purple, Sarah’s purple. There will be mass confusion. You’ll have to pick a different colour.

I like green. Can I be green?

That suits you, but it’s a little too bright. Could you bring it down a bit?

How about this?


Everyone, meet Valerie. Valerie, this is everyone.

Say hello, everyone.


Also posted in Oot, Sarah, Worldbuilders 2009 | By Pat130 Responses
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