Saturday, November 29, 2008
Storycasting.....
If anyone's interested, I recently was introduced to a website called Storycasting.

It lets you pick a book, then enter in your dream cast, as if you were in charge of making the movie.

I took a crack at creating a cast for the movie, and quickly realized how conflicted I am about certain roles. Personally, I can't for the life of me think of an actor I'd like to see as Kvothe.

Anyway, if that sort of thing seems like a good time to you, feel free to wander over here and check it out.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Still even more prizes.
Well everyone, through liberal application of garlic, Campbell's chicken noodle soup, and season 3 of Angel, I am miraculously healed.

Even better, I have more prizes for the Heifer Fundraiser. A whole stack of them. Let's get to it....

  • Two copies of Drew C. Bowling's The Tower of Shadows, book one of the Tides of Fate series. Signed by the author.




Drew was nice enough to donate two of his hardcovers to the cause. Terry Brooks describes this book as, "A fast-paced, exciting adventure that doesn't allow you to take a breath." Though personally, I'm guessing it will let you take at least a little breath here and there. Otherwise, you'd die.

  • A copy of New York Times #1 bestseller Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, by Sean Williams. Signed by the Author.




Another lovely hardcover, signed by the author. Sean Williams is a prince, not just for donating the book, but also for mailing it all the way from the hinterlands of Australia to the hinterlands of central Wisconsin.

According to the ABC Brisbane,
The Force Unleashed is "an action packed novel set during the previously unexplored 'dark times' between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope."






I've talked about David before in a previous blog, describing how he saved my life. So I won't re-gush here. Instead I'll just repeat what Lisa Tuttle says in her review of Acacia for The Times (London)

"David Anthony Durham has won acclaim for his historical novels, and brings his knowledge of the past and other cultures to create a rich and compelling world on his first foray into fantasy. His skillful storytelling, depth of characterisation, and an ability to unsettle reader expectations is reminiscent of George R.R. Martin, but his is a distinctive new voice."


  • Gregory Frost's two book adventure, Shadow Bridge and Lord Tophet. Signed by the author.




Fantasy Bookspot says, "The most amazing aspect of the novel may be its constraint. There is a real story. Frost can go anywhere, along the bridges of a multiverse, and he seemingly does, but it all spirals back, every step is relevant, even if we don't know it as a fact when we whimsically take it."

  • A copy of Hart & Boot & Other Stories by Tim Pratt. Signed by the author.




This collection of stories was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. What's more, Jay Lake raves about the book, saying, "Tim Pratt is in the vanguard of the next generation of master American fantasists. His delightfully loopy vision, lateral thinking and exquisite sense of style combine to provide fiction which infuses the reader like a fine Napa Valley wine, leaving behind aftershocks that go on for days, weeks, even months."





This anthology contains nineteen original tales by authors such as Timothy Zahn, A. M. Strout, and Michael Stackpole.

When Pandora's Box was opened, so the ancient tale goes, all the evils that would beset humanity were released into the world. When the box was all but empty, the only thing that remained was hope. Now some of fantasy's finest writers have taken on the task of opening Pandora's closet. It is naturally chock full of an assortment of items, including a ring that can bring its wearer infinite health, a special helmet found in the most unlikely of places, a mysterious box that holds a legendary piece of cloth, and a red hoodie that transforms a woman's world.

  • One each of The Blue Kingdom anthologies. Donated and signed by Kelly Swails.


A set of all three anthologies in the Blue Kingdom series: Pirates of the Blue Kingdom, Shades and Specters, and Buxom Buccaneers. Tales of swashbucklers and spooks in a world of waters.

  • A copy of The Golden Cord, book one of the Iron Dragon Series by Paul Genesse. Signed by the author.




Voya Magazine says the following about The Golden Cord: "The plot is well constructed, the characters are wonderful, and the middle-ages setting creates an ominous feel. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers eager for more. The Golden Cord is a rich and compelling fantasy full of adventure, danger, dragons, battles, revenge, magic, and more."


  • A signed, limited edition copy of Spectra Pulse magazine.




This lovely collectible was donated by Alex Bledsoe, author of the upcoming novel Blood Groove.

This premiere issue of Spectra Pulse magazine comes with a letter of authenticity and is signed by amazing SciFi authors George R.R. Martin, Jeff VanderMeer, Elizabeth Bear, and Catherynne M. Valente.

Want more? It includes an except from George R.R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons, the next book of the Song of Ice and Fire series.

  • A full set of E.E. Knight's Age of Fire books, Dragon Champion, Dragon Avenger, Dragon Outcast, and Dragon Strike.




Eric was nice enough to send along these four lovely trade paperbacks that we'll be giving away as a set. Publisher's weekly says, "Knight turns the familiar features of epic fantasy upside down in this unique world of medieval politics and ancient magic seen through the eyes of dragons."




That's the latest batch of goodies, folks. But it won't be the last. We've got more books coming in every day. So stay tuned, and tell your friends.



If you want all the details about how the fundraiser works, and how you can win some of these cool books, you can find all the information OVER HERE. Personally, I'm hoping we can push all the way past 30,000.


For those of you who celebrate it, have a lovely Thanksgiving.

For those of you who don't, have a lovely Thursday.

pat

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008
New Prize - Original Manuscript for Upcomming Superman/Batman Novel

Oh merciful Buddha. I am so sick....

Which is a real shame because we have several pieces of cool news today. I wish I wasn't all muzzy so I could gush appropriately about them.

The first is that Kevin J. Anderson has donated something huge to the Heifer Fundraiser.





Kevin has graciously donated a signed manuscript copy of his upcoming book Batman/Superman: Enemies and Allies. This is really big folks. Not only do you get a sneak peek of the book that won't be hitting the shelves until May 2009, but this story details the official first meeting between Superman and Batman. How cool is that?

Looking at this makes me wish there was some ethical way for me to enter my own contest with the hope of winning.

But that wouldn't be fair. As it is, I'll have to settle for caressing it in a loving manner. It is my firm belief that prolonged contact with the manuscript will heal me of whatever terrible illness has struck me down....

If you want the specifics about how you can win this manuscript, what the other prizes are, or what the whole fundraiser is about, CLICK HERE.


Today also marks the halfway point of the fundraiser. We've only been going for two weeks, and our team has already raised over 20,000 dollars with books and donations still rolling in.

Which brings us to the third piece of news. I'm raising the bar on the donation thermometer again. We'll take it all the way up to $30,000 so everyone visiting MY PAGE is clear on the fact that I'm still matching donations.

That said, I might have to stop after 30,000 dollars. I'm not saying I will, but I might. I need to take a hard look at my finances and make sure I'm not being stupid about this. One of the common misconceptions about being a writer is that once your book comes out, you're rich. But as Tobias Bucknell showed in the survey he took that's just not true.

The truth is, I've been fortunate this last year. I've sold the foreign rights to the book in a lot of countries, and those advances have allowed me to quit my day job. But I don't live in a house made of solid money. I've been loving this fundraiser, it's the most fun I've had in a year. But the only reason I'm able to do this fundraiser is because I still pretty much live like a student. I just wanted to give y'all fair warning that I might need to put on the breaks before too long.

Gech. I hate posting up a blog when I have a fever. I never know when I'm making sense. I need to bring Sarah over and read this to make sure I'm not just frothing like a wild dog.

Say hello to everyone, Sarah.

Hello, everyone.

I made you purple. Is that okay?

Yes. It's very cute and girly.

And you are cute and girly.

Aside from being my clever, beautiful girlfriend, Sarah is doing a lot of the behind-the-scenes work for the fundraiser, helping me package things and post up blogs. That, in turn lets me continue to get work done on The Wise Man's Fear.

Am I making sense on the blog so far, Sarah?

Yep. You're doing great. Just a bit more and you can go to bed.

Can you say something cool about Kevin's manuscript? I haven't done a good enough job of being gushy about it.

This book makes me tingle a little. It's got a big-mojo aura surrounding it. I can't wait to dig into the story when it comes out. There's bound to be some great, unexplored tension between these two iconic superheros and a bunch of juicy, rock 'em sock 'em, gladiator-style action. Whoever wins this is so freakin' lucky.

By unexplored tension, are you implying that Superman and Batman might be a little, you know, hot for each other?

No.

Are you sure? Two hot young guys? Maybe in college? Curious about...things? Willing to experiment?

Well, they are both quite well-proportioned. You've just given me a lot to think about later while you're sleeping.

Who do you like better, Superman or Batman?

Superman. I'd rather be him. Plus, he's an alien.

I bet Batman is a better kisser than Superman. At least, I think I'd rather kiss Batman. Kissing Superman would be... too weird.

You might get crushed by his super lips.

Wow. Yeah. I didn't even think of that.

What *is* your fever at right now, Honey?


102 last time I checked. When it hits 104 I'm gonna sell.

Can you make me some soup and tuck me into bed?

Yeah, Sweetie. I'll take care of everything.



Later all,

pat

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Sunday, November 23, 2008
For Whom the Bell Tolls

The blog has been a little overwhelmed lately with the Heifer Fundraiser. And while that's a good thing, I thought I'd take a day's break and post up something funny. Expect more news and prizes in a day or so....

This is a column I wrote for the College Survival Guide. I thought I'd re-post it now because it seems timely for several reasons....

I wrote this back when I was going to grad school in Washington State. When the end of that semester rolled around, I was overwhelmed. I ended up staying in Washington four extra days so I could finish a paper, and that meant that I missed my family Christmas. I felt awful about it. I still do.

But what's funny is that my sister cut the column out of the Pointer (the college paper that originally printed the Survival Guide) and took it home for Christmas. Then, when everyone was gathered at home on Christmas eve, Jamie read the column for the family.

General agreement was that it was just as good as having me there. Probably even better in a lot of ways.


*****
Dear Pat,

Well. I see in the Pointer that if we have something to piss and moan about, we are supposed to let you know. So here we go.

The other day I was walking past the University Center. I was cold, but I knew I had to get to the next building for my next class. I was tired, but I knew I had to keep going and make it through the day. I was hungry, but I knew I would have to wait until I got home because I had no money.

While I was approaching the UC building (dreaming about what kind of food I wish I could go and buy) I hear a bell ringing and thought to myself, "No way, they don't have a Salvation Army guy here at the college." But sure enough, I got a little closer and I saw that friendly old guy waving his bell in front of his cute little collection pole.


I couldn't help but glare at him in the way that said "I hate you" and I did, at that moment, hate that man, whoever he was. I glared at him the whole time until I was passed him. I made damn sure he saw me glaring too, I don't care what he thought.

I am broke. Isn't everyone here at the college????


I am a full time college student (who happens to live alone) and I work close to 40 hours per week at some cheesy restaurant trying to pay my bills and get an education. Rent, car payment, bills, you know what I mean. No matter what, I never can get ahead enough to even feel like I can treat myself to a nice hot meal.

All the money we students are spending here at college, not to mention the (expensive) parking meters, and yet the college has enough balls to set up a collection for more money. I don't even have enough money to support myself. You stand here wanting us to help out the less fortunate when we are the less fortunate. We have nothing.


Well. If ya like my piss and moan story-that's great. I feel confident that you know what I mean here and I hope you help in writing something up on this in your paper, maybe the bell guy would then go away.


Marie

Well Marie, I had a strong response to your letter. Actually, I had two responses, each of them utterly irreconcilable with the other. Luckily, due to an end-of-the-semester psychotic break, I have two fully formed personalities willing to give their opinions on the matter.


Nice Pat's Response

I know for a fact that the Salvation Army guy isn't a new thing. I used to see him there in front of the UC every year, and I'll admit my reaction was somewhat similar to yours. I felt put-upon.

As my dad always said, you can't get blood from a stone, or pity from a freshman during finals week. Why were they trying to milk me when I was already dry?

Truth is, even well-intentioned college students are usually strapped for cash, especially at the end of the semester. Because of that I always felt the bell ringer could have been put to better use somewhere else. In the mall. Outside Wal-Mart. On the square at bar-time. Onstage, next to that big pole at the New Yorker....

[editor's note: The New Yorker is a local strip club. Or at least, that's what I've heard.]




(This column's illustration from the anthology)


Evil Pat's Response

Marie, it's not that you're poor. It's that you've has been trained to drool when the bell rings. What do I mean by that? I mean this: You've bought into the system, and the system has made you its bitch. Sure I feel sorry for you, but the fact remains that it's your own damn fault.

I understand that you work 40 hours a week in addition to school. Fine, but don't expect pity from me just because you follow some outmoded protestant work ethic.

"But I need the money!" I hear you cry.

Bullshit. You think you need the money. The truth is you spend your money on non-essential items. Just like everyone else who's been inculcated into the three-step easy-bake American dream.

1) Work hard to get money.
2) Use money to buy things.
3) Use things to achieve happiness.

"But I don't have things! I'm barely making it from bill to bill!"

Bullshit. I know that you're living in some manner of extravagance because as an undergrad I made on average of 6000 dollars a year. And with that colossal sum I paid my tuition, had my share of hot meals, bought presents for my girlfriend, and still had enough to drop a couple of bucks in the bellringer's bucket come Christmas time.

How did I achieve this miracle? Well, I never had a car for one thing. I survived nearly a decade in Stevens Point without one, walking to my various jobs and carrying my groceries home.

I never had the luxury of living alone either. Well….that's not really true. For a year I lived in a one-room apartment with a bathroom down the hallway. It cost me $140 per month, everything included. My friends called it ‘The Pit.' I stayed there because it was cheap, and that freed up my money for other things, like nudie magazines, leather pants, and grain alcohol.

Here is the unvarnished truth. If you're poor and in college, you're not really poor. You're just indulging in certain luxuries beyond your means. However, there are people in the country that are genuinely poor. People who don't have cars, or even nasty little one-room ‘pit' apartments.

Most importantly, those people don't have a support network of friends and family who are willing to help them out if something bad happens. What those people do have is The Salvation Army. They buy toys for poor-kids and shut-ins for chrissake. You can't find any fault with an organization like that.

So pony up, pig-licker, and give some jingle to the bucketman.

*****


Years later, I know more than when I wrote this column, and because of that I can, actually find fault with an organization like the Salvation Army because I know they actively discriminate against gays. It's sad, but I just can't feel good about cheering them on anymore.

To an extent, any charity is better than no charity. But I believe that smart charity is the best charity of all....

More soon,

pat

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Thursday, November 20, 2008
Still more prizes.

Hello everybody. No clever preamble today. I'm too busy keeping up with my own writing while dealing with the donations that have been coming in.

If you don't know what we're talking about, you can get the details HERE.

And now, more donations to the lottery:

  • The entire Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, in hardcover. Signed and personalized to you by the author.




I've already recommended Brandon's series in a previous blog, so I won't repeat myself. Why should I bother when there are about a thousand blurbs out there praising the books.

This one from the Romantic times says it well: "Transcendent... all the familiar ideas and plots from epic fantasy have been turned inside out, and what happens at the end is utterly astounding in its audacity. The characterization is stellar, the worldbuilding solid and the plot intricate and compelling."

What's more, Brandon has offered to personalize the books to the winner.





Ed Greenwood, creator of The Forgotten Realms, says: "I loved it! Many writers have explored hard-hitting and brutal possible futures for Earth, and told colorful tales of people trying to stay alive in them, but few have brought such imagined futures as vividly to life as Don Bingle. Highly recommended!"

  • An Advance Reading Copy of Greensword by Donald J. Bingle. Signed by the author.




Ooooh.... another advance reading copy. Your chance to check out this book before it's available to the common masses.

Robert Sawyer has this to say: "Science fiction has always been a great vehicle for biting satire and social commentary -- from H.G. Wells' The Time Machine right on up to Donald Bingle's engrossing GREENSWORD. Bingle is a terrific writer."

  • A copy of Fellowship Fantastic. Signed by Donald J. Bingle.




A collection of 13 new stories including Donald J. Bingle's The Quest. Signed by the author. Lovingly caressed by a thousand virgins. It still has that new car smell. How could you not it?

  • The first three books of the Ravrin series: WebMage, CodeSpell, and CyberMancy by Kelly McCullough. Signed by the author.




According to the starred review in Publisher's Weekly: "McCullough handles his plot with unfailing invention, orchestrating a mixture of humor, philosophy and programming insights that give new meaning to terms as commonplace as 'spell checker' and esoteric as 'programming in hex.'"

  • Plague Year and Plague War, the first two books of Jeff Carlson's Plague trilogy. Signed by the author.




Jeff Carlson was nice enough to donate *two* sets of these. Isn't he a nice guy? I think he's a nice guy.

E. E. Knight describes these books as, "Part Michael Crichton, part George Romero... full of high-altitude chills."

  • A copy of Writers of the Future Volume 23, including Jeff Carlson's story The Frozen Sky. Donated and signed by Jeff Carlson.




The Writers of the Future anthology is where I got my start, long ago. It publishes stories by new writers getting ready to burst onto the scene. Jeff Carlson sends along two copies of Volume 23 which contains his story, "The Frozen Sky."

According to Locus Magazine, "Jeff Carlson’s “The Frozen Sky” is a tense adventure story set on Europa, where explorers encounter intelligent beings who seem to have no way to respond to strangers but by attacking them."

  • A copy of Writers of the Future Volume 18, including an early version of Pat Rothfuss's story "The Road to Levenshir." Signed by the author.




Jeff's donation made me realize that I actually had a copy of my volume of Writers of the Future still lurking around the house. It's volume 18, which means, among other things, that I'm getting old.

This was my first publication, and it kicked off the chain of events that eventually led to me getting my book published. The story in here is an early version of "The Road to Levenshir." A much earlier, rougher version of the story that was later published in the Subterranean Press Tales of Dark fantasy earlier this year.

  • Jennifer Stevenson's entire new trilogy: The Brass Bed, The Velvet Chair, and The Bearskin Rug, all signed by the author.




Vicki Lewis Thompson, says these books are, "more fun than pillow fighting naked." And Phil and Kaja Foglio say, "Once you get into The Brass Bed, you won't ever want to get out." And if you can't trust Phil & Kaja Foglio to know sexy, then who can you trust?


If you want to know how to win this cool stuff, you can get all the details over HERE.

Or, if you want, here's the short version:

1) You donate to Heifer international on THIS PAGE.
2) I match your donation, dollar-for-dollar.
3) For every ten bucks you kick in, your name is entered into a drawing for these and many more fabulous prizes.

So far, we've raised over 17,000 dollars in under two weeks. Because apparently fantasy authors and fans are the best people around. That's my working theory, anyway.



Click Here to Donate


Stay tuned, more on the way...

pat

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008
More Prizes: A bounty of signed books.

Fantasy authors have to be some of the coolest people around. I have suspected it for a long time, but now I know it to be the truth. I have proof.

It's only been about a week since I announced the fundraiser. When I started it, I sent out a very mild-mannered request to a few of the authors I know, telling them what I was planning, and mentioning that if they wanted to, they could donate a book or two. Y'know. If they wanted to. No pressure.

Since then, people have been donating in spades. Today the first of the packages arrived.

And just in the nick of time, too. I was starting to wander around my house, desperately looking for things I could add to the lottery. Thinking to myself, "A.... fork? Fork used by Pat Rothfuss? Pocket lint? Pair of my girlfriend's ladybug underwear?"

Oh man. I really want to put a picture of them up on here. But she would freak out.

But it would be REALLY funny....

...

You guys really don't know what dangerous waters I swim to entertain you. Just as I typed that, I heard the door close as my girlfriend left the house, so I scampered across the hall and started to root through her underwear drawer, giggling maniacally. It took me almost three minutes to find the pair I was looking for...

And then what happens? She comes back for some reason. Just in time to catch me standing outside her closet, clutching her ladybug panties, and laughing like some pervert who's been huffing paint. Luckily, I've spent years convincing her that I am absolutely insane. Otherwise things could have gotten a little awkward.

Okay, on to the new prizes.

  • A galley copy of The Adamantine Palace by Stephan Deas. Signed by the author.




Just so we're clear, this is an ARC. One of those Advance Reading Copies that the publisher prints before the book comes out. That's right, here's your chance to be an insider and get hold of a book before it actually hits the shelves.

SFF world gives it a glowing review, saying, "The book is an entertaining mix of Pern and Westeros, with the knowing characterisation of Abercrombie and the endearment of Novik."

  • Hardcover copies of Spirit Gate and Shadow Gate, the first two books in Kate Elliott's Crossroads series. Signed by the author.




The inestimable Kate Elliot has donated TWO sets of two books, so you have twice the chance of winning. Woo!

Publisher's Weekly describes these books thusly: "Elaborate first entry in a projected seven-book fantasy series introduces a once prosperous but now lawless land called the Hundred. Its godlike Guardians, who dispense justice, have disappeared; the eagle-riding Reeves, who have kept the peace, have lost authority; and a mysterious, ruthless new force preys on the towns and inhabitants of the Hundred and neighboring empires.... This promises to be a truly epic fantasy."

  • A copy of Mindy Klasky's Magic and the Modern Girl, third book in the Jane Madison Series. Signed by the author.





According to the The Romantic Times,
"this is an irresistible tale of power and love, friendship and acceptance. The main character's constant and often rambling internal dialogue is surprisingly charming and insightful."

  • A galley copy of Lamentation, the first in a new five-book series by Ken Scholes.



This is another ARC. Rumor says that Scholes is going to be the next big thing. And with blurbs like the following, it's easy to see why....

Orson Scott Card raves: "Scholes barely gives us time to breathe. Yet he gives us vivid characters, a world thick with detail, and wonders we've never seen before. I wish my first novel had been this good. I wish all five volumes of this series were already published so I could read them now."


  • Tiffany Trent's In the Serpent's Coils, first in the Hallowmere series. Signed by the author.





Tiffany has donated two of these, which I in turn will give to two different people. I think that would be for the best.


"IN THE SERPENT'S COILS is a rich, earthy, engrossing novel that heralds Tiffany Trent as one of the best dark fantasy writers of our time. I was completely mesmerized by her tale, and deeply gratified in the end. Bravo!" -David Farland, New York Times Bestselling fantasy author


  • Goblin Quest, first in the Goblin trilogy by Jim C. Hines. Signed by the author.




I recommended Jim's goblin books in an earlier blog, but why listen to me when Midwest Book Reviews says, "Prepare to be entertained throughout and completely satisfied with Jig's journey by the time you reach the end."

  • A copy of Red's Tale by Jim C. Hines, book one of the Faery Tale Project. Signed by Jim C. Hines.




This is a two-for-one book, which also features a copy of Lobo's Tale by Christopher Kastensmidt. Also by Jim Hines, author of the aforementioned Goblin trilogy and soon to be released The Stepsister Scheme.

I'd like to thank these authors for taking the time to send these books out of the goodness of their hearts.

Now here's the thing - if you are one of my author friends and I haven't sent you an e-mail asking for a book, it's not because I don't like you, or because I don't think your book is good enough. It's because, for the most part, I haven't contacted anyone directly. I've sent out a few tentative e-mails to a few lists I'm on. I'm from the Midwest, you see. Asking people for favors makes me distinctly uncomfortable.

The truth is, whether or not I know you, I'd love nothing better than to throw your book into the mix. If you're interested, just drop me a line at paperback.contest (squiggly atsign thinger) gmail.com.

Oh, and did I mention that we're past 15,000 dollars? Yes. We are mighty. We are a thousand feet tall.




Lastly, if you want details about how the fundraiser works, and how you can win some of these cool books, you can find all the information OVER HERE.

Later,

pat

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Monday, November 17, 2008
Heifer Fundraiser: Raising the Bar - Again.

Well folks, as I sit down to write this, we've raised over 12,000 dollars, and it hasn't even been a full week yet. That's not counting my matching donation,or any of the people who are choosing option #2 as described OVER HERE.



Click Here to Donate



Again, I wish I could make that thing say "we've raised."


I've raised the donation "goal" to 20,000 on the Heifer page because I don't want anyone to pass on donating because they think we've reached our limit.

To accommodate our growing numbers, I've increased the number of DAW samplers, maps, and signed books being given away. Also, two days ago I found an old copy of the UK galley proof. Though I have a sentimental attachment to it, I can throw it into the mix as well. I've only seen about 10 of these in my life, so a signed one is probably worth something as a collector's item.




Also, the donations have started to come in. Most of them are signed books from other fantasy and science-fiction authors. I've been amazed at how willing everyone has been to contribute.

I'll be posting those other donations up as they show up at my house. I might start as soon as tonight....

And now, a little more Q & A.

  • "If your name goes into the lottery hat multiple times, can you win multiple prizes? The first prize your name is drawn for? The Coolest prize your name is drawn for? How will that work?"
Here's how it will work.

Say you donate 120 dollars, enough for a goat.





Your name would go into the final drawing 12 times. Then, if we draw your name out of the hat and you win a signed book, your name is still in there 11 times for the rest of the drawing.

Then I'll drop you an e-mail telling you what you've won, and asking for your address. At that point, you can choose to pass on any of the prizes you've won. (For example, if you won two copies of the map, and you only want one.) I'll keep those re-donated prizes in storage until we do this again next year.

You bet. Personally, I can't think of a better way of keeping The Man away from your money.

  • I have something I'd like to donate to your lottery option. Where can I send it?
Well... before you drop that macrame owl into the mail, why don't you drop me an e-mail at Paperback.contest (squiggly at thinger) gmail.com and tell me what you're thinking of sending.

It's not that I don't appreciate your generosity, and it's not that I have anything against macrame. Or owls. It's just that right now we kind of have a tight focus of things we're giving away as prizes. It's mostly books and SFF related stuff. For now, I think it might be best if we keep that focus.

That said, if you've got a book or something you think would fit in into the mix, I'd love to include it. So e-mail me or send it to:

Pat Rothfuss
P.O BOX 186
Stevens Point, WI 54481

  • "I have an idea for an awesome prize. You could offer to pass the winner's manuscript along to your editor or your agent. I'd love to win that..."
Several people sent e-mails similar to this one. Believe me folks, I know where you're coming from. I struggled to get someone to read my book for years. Back then, I would have loved to win a prize like this too.

But though I feel your pain, I don't think this is a good idea. Here's why:

1) Most of the people participating in this contest don't have manuscripts I can read. I don't want to give out a prize that would be useless to 90% of the people eligible to win it.

2) It really isn't polite of me of me to inflict some random manuscript on my editor or agent. They're busy people.

3) The implication here is that you'd get published off the deal. And that just isn't a fair thing to imply. Hope is a wonderful thing, but false hope is actually more destructive than constructive.

But I think I might actually be able to offer a constructive option....

For you writers out there, I'm going to add something under the "Sure Thing" option. If you're willing to make a sizable donation to Heifer, I will read your manuscript and give you feedback on it. Revision advice.

Now, let's be clear so we don't have any misunderstandings. What I'm offering is this:

I'll read your manuscript just like I read my own, with a red pen in my hand, making notes on my thoughts: What I like. How I feel about the different sections. What is working well and could be expanded. And what, in my opinion, needs fixing.

Then I'd call you and we'll talk about the book. It's not as good as getting together over coffee and looking at the same manuscript, but it's better than me just dropping it in the mail and you trying to decipher my demented scribbling.

Also, and this is key, I'm not going to blow a lot of smoke up your ass. I'll tell you what I really think about it, both good and bad.

That said, I should mention that I was a writing tutor for almost a decade. I know how to give constructive criticism without it being excruciating to the writer. It's a talent I'm proud of. Too many tutors (and teachers, and writing groups) aren't good at this.

Here's what I'm not offering, just so we're clear.

I'm not offering to do this right now. I have some deadlines myself. We'll have to schedule it for some time after December.

I'm not offering to pass your manuscript along to my publisher or agent. Not. This is just you and me. Two writers having a discussion about your story and what you could do to make it better.

I'm not offering to work on your book with you as part of an ongoing editorial process. It's a one-shot deal. I'll read your manuscript once, a solid, careful read. Then I'll chat with you on the phone about it. Then I'll mail it back to you with my notes.

Just so we're clear.... Are we clear?

How much is a "sizable" donation? Well.... It needs to be fairly high in order to protect my time. If it was $10, I'd get 200 manuscripts and spend the next year reading Harry Potter fanfiction. Then I would kill myself.

So I think I'm going to have to set it at 1000 dollars or more. If you're willing to donate at least a thousand dollars to Heifer, drop me an e-mail and we'll negotiate.

Negotiate what? Well... YA fantasy is easier for me to read than quantum entanglement based science fiction, so I'd probably negotiate you to kick in more out of consideration for the extra time I'd be putting in. Same thing if your manuscript is 200,000 words long. If it's full of hot lesbian vampires making out... I'm okay with that. No extra charge.

Lastly, I feel obliged to say that the only reason I feel comfortable doing this is because it's for Heifer. You see, I'm trying to do what good I can, given my situation.

It's like this, if I were a movie star I could help Heifer by showing up and taking some pictures with a goat. Then they would use my name and my picture to help spread the word about the organization.

But I can't do that. Being photogenic is not part of my skillset. If someone took a picture of me with a goat, the journalists would get confused and the caption would end up reading something like, "Heifer also gives goats to shabby hobo-looking authors like Patrick Rothfuss. Before Heifer gave him a goat, Pat was too poor to afford a haircut or a second pair of pants. Now the nutritious milk will supplement his diet of ramen noodles, keeping his bones from becoming brittle as chalk."

And that's a best-case scenario. More likely the caption would read, "Goats provide milk to needy families, while sheep can be sheared for their wool, providing warm clothes and a source of income."

No. I'm not pretty, and I'm not famous in any conventional sense of the word. But I know stories, and I eat and breathe revision. So that's what I'm offering up on Heifer's behalf.


Lastly, can any of you out there think of a cool name for this fundraiser? Obviously (given the title of the blog) I haven't been able to come up with anything cool so far. Suggestions are welcome in the comments below.

Best,

pat

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posted by Pat at 34 Comments



Friday, November 14, 2008
Heifer Fundraiser: More Prizes, More Questions

You guys are awesome. I think I can safely say that.

It's been less than four days, and we're raised over 5000 dollars. That's not counting my matching donation or any of the donations being made by people who are mailing checks or choosing option two.

If you've joined us late in the game and don't know what's going on, you should probably check out the blog OVER HERE. It gives the details of what we're doing.

News.

  • I've added more prizes to the Lottery option, because we're having a bigger response than I initially anticipated. I've added more maps, signed books, and a second Advance Reading Copy of book two.
  • I've been contacted by a bunch of authors who are donating signed books and other cool things to the cause. I'll be posting up details as soon as those books come in. We're going to have a LOT of new stuff in the mix.
  • My delightful PR person over at Penguin has managed to find us more copies of the DAW sampler. So we have 60 of those in the mix, each with a teaser chapter from The Wise Man's Fear.
Everyone say, "Thank you Erica."




You know she's cool, because I don't let just anyone wear my gnome hat.


Now, answers to more questions.
  • "Can you add an early reading copy of book two to the Sure Thing option? I'd pay ANYTHING for an advance reading copy of book two. ANYTHING!"
Really? Okay. I've added it to the list of things for sale under option two. You can buy one for 1000 bucks.

Here's the deal. I'm not saying you can have it right now. You'll get it when it's ready, and right now it isn't ready. I can't promise you a galley copy either, because I don't know how many of those I'll have at my disposal. But if I can't get you a galley, I'll print a copy off for you on my own personal printer, bind it together, sign it, and mail it to you. Maybe I'll draw a little goat on it too.

New - If you're interested in this option, keep in mind that your 1000 dollars doesn't get added to the lottery. You're effectively going for Option Two, as described over HERE. If you don't know what Option Two is, go over there and read about it.

Now just so you know, I'd never sell advance copies of the book like this just to make money. That would be crass. But this is for charity. So if you have money to burn, and you *really* want it that badly. Drop that check in the mail. I'll even add 200 bucks of my own. 1200 dollars is ten goats for ten families.




  • "I love that you're doing this. Can I post about this on my blog?
Absolutely. I'd like nothing better than for people to help spread the word. Tell your friends on Myspace. Twitter it. If you're on Facebook, you can join the event someone created for the fundraiser. Feel free to sign up and invite your friends. The more the merrier.

However, I would prefer if you would link to my blog, rather than trying to copy-and-paste my post. That page gets updated whenever we get new prizes or something changes.

  • "I plan on donating to Heifer Int'l this year as a gift to my parents. In the past, donating directly, I received a card verifying the donation. If I donate through your page will I still receive the same type of gift card/verification?"
For those of you who are new to Heifer, this is the card he's talking about:



(Click to Embiggen)

These cards are actually really cool. They talk about the work Heifer does, and how the different animals improve people's lives.

I called Heifer and they reassured me that donating off MY PAGE is just the same as donating through their gift catalogue or anywhere else on their site. You still have the option of requesting the gift cards.

  • "Can I donate to Heifer International using paypal?"
Nope. Sorry. But if you have Paypal, I'm guessing you have a credit card. You can use that.

  • "I don't have a credit card. If I mail you a check will you enter me in the lottery and match my donation?"
Absolutely.

  • "Can I send you cash?"
Muahahahahah....

Um.... Wait. No. You really shouldn't. It's just risky all around.

However, if you don't have a checking account or a credit card, you could get a money order and send that to me. I'll enter you in the lottery, and double your donation.


That's all for now folks, keep spreading the word.

pat

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posted by Pat at 25 Comments



Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Heifer Fundraiser: A Few Questions Answered.

Today has been a great day.

Today I woke up feeling refreshed. The tight knot in my back that's been bothering me for almost a year was almost non-existent. I found myself singing in the shower, something that I used to do a lot, but haven't lately.

It's no great mystery what's making me feel this way. It's the fact that in less than 24 hours, we've raised more than 2000 dollars for a great charity. More that 4,000 after I match everyone's donations. Success beyond my wildest expectations.

This is so much fun.



Click Here to Donate


Hmmmm.... I wish that little thermometer said, "We've raised."

Anyway, because we've had such a strong start, I waned to answer a few questions people have been asking.

  • "Will you stop matching donations when you hit 5,000 dollars?"
No. I'll match all the donations that are made.

Earlier today, when I told Sarah how well things were going, she looked at me a little nervously and asked, "Are you going to be okay with it if people donate 10,000 and you have to match it?"

"I expect I will whistle a jaunty tune," I said happily.

"What if they raise 20,000?" She pressed.

"Then I will probably perform a tiny, happy dance while I whistle," I explained.

Don't misunderstand me here. I'm not all Scrooge McDuck rich over here. But I can't think of any better way to go broke than this.

Truth is, when I was setting up the page on Heifer, I set the goal at 5000 because I had no idea if y'all would be interested. I didn't want to set it really high, because then if I only got a few donations, I'd feel like a sad loser.

But because this actually seems to be going somewhere, here's what I'm going to do.

I'm going to raise the goal on the donations page to 10,000. If we hit that, I'll be all tingly.

I'm also going to add more prizes to the pool, so that everyone still has a good chance of getting something cool. That way, you can tell help me recruit more people without feeling like you're ruining your chances to win stuff.

I'll post up more details about the new prizes in a couple days.

  • Can I do some fundraising of my own, then donate it and have you match it?
By all means. Have a bakesale. Search under the couch cushions at your friends' houses. Show people at work the website then pass the hat. I'm matching donations from any and all who want to chip in.

But make sure you get it in by Dec 11th. And make sure you donate through THE PAGE I SET UP. That's the only way I can track donations.

  • "I can buy chicks on your page, but not baby ducks!"
Yeah. They don't offer all the different options on the donor pages. The cost of a flock of ducks is the same as for the chicks: $20.

  • "How much of my donation to Heifer goes to actually helping people?"
This is a fair question. A lot of so-called charities are actually just scams that collect money, then use a very small amount of it for the intended purpose.

But trust me that I've done my research. Heifer is an award-winning charity for a reason. They've been doing good works for over 60 years.

Heifer keeps all its financial records available to the public, and 75% of everything it collects go directly toward helping people.

Here's a nice visual breakdown from Heifer's site.





You can see here that less than seven percent of their money goes toward administration. That's exceptional.

  • "I live in [foreign country]. Can I still send you a check and buy a book?"
Yes. I stopped by the post office and bank today and peppered them with questions. So here's how it will work.

It costs me $20 dollars to ship a book internationally. Every additional book in the same package adds $10 to the cost of shipping.

So here's what you do:

1) Add the extra shipping to the prices I've already given.

2) Add three bucks to cover the fee that the bank is going to charge me.

3) Convert it into your local currency. (euros, pounds, rupees, whatever)

4) Write me a check using your local currency. (This is important. Don't write me a check in dollars if that isn't what they use where you live.)

5) Mail it off to me with the other information I've asked for written on a notecard.

Easy as pie.

  • "I love that you're willing to donate to charity. Would you match my donation to [insert name of charity here] instead?"
Everyone has their favorite charity. As I said in my first post on the subject, I know there are a lot of good causes out there, and people have very personal attachments to them. Emotions run high in these areas.

Someone contacted me asking about animal shelters, another about diabetes. A third person posted a comment on the blog, arguing that people living in the US shouldn't give money to charities that support causes outside the US. I erased the post because it was harshing my groove, then I felt guilty about it because the person was very polite in making their point.

But here's what I'm getting at. I think it's important not to go all Bruce Wayne in these situations.

Follow along with me on this. Bruce Wayne's folks were killed by criminals, so he grows up and becomes Batman in order to fight crime. Because he hates crime. Because his parents were killed by crime.

Now I like Batman as much as the next guy. Good stories. Batarangs. Men in tights. He's probably my favorite superhero, or close to it. But the fact is, his whole Batman deal is pretty self-indulgent.

Think about it. Dude is a multi-billionaire. If he wanted to make the world a better place, he could create a foundation 100 times bigger than Heifer International. He could build shelters for battered women, schools in low-income neighborhoods. Sustainable agriculture. Renewable energy.

What does he do with his money? He builds super-gadgets so he can fight crime. Drives a rocket car.

Yes I know that Bruce Wayne is also a philanthropist. Don't quibble. He does a tiny bit of charity, and a whole big shitload of being Batman.

Why? Well... because it wouldn't be much of a comic if he didn't. But the other answer is, he fights crime because it makes him feel good. Not because it does good. There's a difference.

Cancer got my mom not too long ago, and it took a good hard swing at my dad, too. That means that I should be raising money for cancer research because I hate cancer, right?

Well.... no. Do I hate cancer? Of course. But if I just focused on fighting cancer for the rest of my life, I'd kind of be doing it for selfish reasons. Instead, I'd rather focus on making people's lives better. I'd like to focus on doing good, then let the feeling good be the side effect.

That's why I'm focusing on Heifer. They help people all over the world, not just here in the US. Why? Because people all over the world have it really shitty and they need help. To say that some people deserve my help more just because they're from the same country.... Nah. That's not my game. I'm playing for team human, not team USA.

Does that make sense? Wait.... What was the question again?

Oh. Yeah. Will I match donations somewhere else instead of Heifer? Respectfully, I'll pass. I'm not saying you should stop loving your charity. But I've put some thought into this, and I'm going to stick with Heifer for now.






Lastly, for anyone who's interested. I'm going to be doing a workshop (4:00) and a reading/signing (7:00) at a library in Lanesboro, MN tomorrow (Wednesday the 12th). I'm excited because I hear this place is about fifteen miles away from Lake Wobegone.

Want more details? Check out the my tour schedule page.

Later all,

pat

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posted by Pat at 25 Comments



Monday, November 10, 2008
Heifer International: Part Two - The Details

What's that you say? You'd like to make the world a better place while simultaneously winning fabulous prizes?

Well today is your lucky day.

Heifer International is my favorite charity. It helps people raise themselves up out of poverty and starvation. All over the world Heifer promotes education, sustainable agriculture, local industry, and clean water.

They don't just keep kids from starving, they make it so families can take care of themselves. They give goats, sheep, and chickens to families so their children have milk to drink, warm clothes to wear, and eggs to eat.



I think this is something we can all get behind.

If you're wondering *why* I'm doing this, that information is OVER HERE. This blog gives details on *how* the donation drive will work.

You've got two options for donating. Please read things all the way through before making your choice.


Option One: The Lottery.

I've created a webpage OVER HERE on Heifer's website. For every dollar you donate there, I'll donate a dollar too.

It works like this:





Elegant in its simplicity, no?

After a month's time, on December 11th, we'll have a drawing for prizes. I'll use the information from the Heifer site to get the donation totals. For every 10 bucks you've kicked in, your name will get entered into the drawing once.

So if you've donated thirty bucks, your name would go in three times. Think of it as buying tickets, if you like.

When I started this fundraiser, I thought it was mostly going to be for my readers and people on my blog. So most of the prizes centered around my book (as you can see below.) But the fundraiser has grown since then, and we're getting new stuff from generous donors all over the world. Stay tuned for new stuff.

Added Nov 18th - We have a bunch of signed books and ARCs OVER HERE.

Added Nov 20th - More signed books and ARCs OVER HERE.

Added Nov 24th - Signed manuscript of Enemies and Allies OVER HERE.

Added Nov 26th - More signed books and collectibles OVER HERE.


Added Dec 1st - Signed books from Bad Moon Press OVER HERE.

Added Dec 2nd - Signed books and prints from Peter S. Beagle OVER HERE.

Added Dec 3rd - $8000 of signed, limited-edition books from Subterranean Press OVER HERE.

Added Dec 9th - More signed books, ARC's, DVD's, and other cool swag OVER HERE.


  • 40 color maps of the Four Corners. Signed by me.




Drawn by my friend, Nathan Taylor. Nate is also the illustrator who drew the black and white map that ended up in the book. This is the color version, so you can see some of the detail that's not available in the book, including some of the political borders.

  • 40 Copies of The Name of the Wind Movie Poster. Signed by me.





Also drawn by Nathan Taylor. He was fantasising about them making a movie out of the book, and drew this as a mock-up of what the movie poster might look like. I love Kvothe's expression. It really captures a key piece of his personality.

Nate and I are also working on a not-for-children children's book together. So here's your chance to get hold of some of his art before he gets super famous....

  • 90 Copies of the DAW sampler. Signed by me.




DAW put this out earlier this year as a promotional item. It's got teaser pieces from all sorts of upcoming DAW books, from authors like Tad Williams and Mercedes Lackey.

It also has a chapter from The Wise Man's Fear.

  • 25 signed hardcover copies of the Name of the Wind.




The 5th printing with the sexy new cover.

  • 5 copies of the College Survival Guide. Signed by me and the illustrator.




My first publication. The first four years of the humor column I wrote for the local paper, along with illustrations and annotations. Only 500 copies of this were printed, so they're hard to come by these days. Perfect for reading on the toilet.

  • 5 First edition copies of the Name of the Wind. Signed by me.




With the old out-of-print cover. You wouldn't believe what some people are charging for these things out there.

  • 6 Copies of Tales of Dark Fantasy. Signed by me.




This is the Subterranean Press anthology that printed my short story, "The Road to Levinshir," which is an excerpt from The Wise Man's Fear.

It also has some great stories by folks like Tim Powers and Kage Baker. It's a beautiful hardcover book, and the cover price was $40, and that was back before it sold out.

  • A signed copy of the first printing UK hardcover.




There aren't many of these in existence the simple reason that I don't live in England. Plus, you know how everything sounds way cooler when it's pronounced in an English accent? Well this book is WRITTEN in an English accent. How cool is that?

  • 2 Copies of the original galley proofs of The Name of the Wind. Signed by me.




A galley is an early version of a book that publishers occasionally print in order to promote a book. There weren't that many of these printed, and the last one of them I saw on e-bay was going for over a hundred dollars. The few signed ones out there are going for more than that...

  • A copy of the UK galley proof. Signed by me.



I've only seen about ten of these, so a signed one is probably a bit of a collectible item.

  • Two advance reading copies of The Wise Man's Fear.




I need to stress that this book is not ready to read yet. Not. Ready. To Read. Yet. That means you can't have it right now. (This picture is a cruel lie.) But here's the deal, if you win this, I'll make sure you get a copy as soon as it's ready to show around, before it officially hits the shelves.

  • An early editorial manuscript of book one.


A proto-version of The Name of the Wind, printed out on my trusty HP printer, and marked up as part of my ongoing editorial process. Includes the now absent first chapter of the book, as well as a hundred other small differences. A similar item sold for 1000 bucks over in England a while back, and the one they have now is going for more than that. So odds are, if you don't want it, you can sell it to someone else who does....

Two things:
  • Make sure you donate on MY PAGE. Otherwise I won't know you donated, won't have access to your e-mail, and won't be able to include you in the fun.

Option Two: The Sure Thing.

Or, as I like to think of it, the Christmas Present Option.

Over the last couple months, people have been contacting me, asking if I'm still signing books like I mentioned in my blog from long ago.

The simple answer is, "yes." You mail me the book, something cool, and a check to cover return shipping, and I'll sign your book.

But right now, in honor of the Heifer fundraiser, I'm willing to streamline the process. Rather than you buying a book, finding something cool, packaging it up, and paying for shipping both ways, you can just mail me a check and I'll send you a book signed however you like. Then I'll ship it right back to you, carefully packaged and in time for Christmas.

Here's a list of the books I've got stockpiled here in my house. (For more detailed descriptions, look above.)

  • New - Signed color version of the Four Corners map. $40
  • Signed hardcover (5th edition with the new bluish cover) - $45
  • Signed copy of Your College Survival Guide - $65
  • Signed copy of Tales of Dark Fantasy - $75
  • SOLD OUT First Edition Hardcover - $85
  • Signed galley proof - $250
  • New - An ARC of book two - $1000 (Not now. When it's finished. Details HERE)
  • New - I will give you feedback on your manuscript - (Details HERE.)

For the most part, these prices are double what these things cost me, plus a little to cover shipping. I can get a 5th edition hardcover for 20 bucks, so they're up there for 45. The anthology I can get for 35, so they're going for 75....

The reason for this is that it's in keeping with me matching donations. If someone buys a book from me for 20 dollars and then I donate the money. They really haven't donated. They just bought a book. Follow me?


If you're going with option two, please follow these directions.

1. Write the following information on a 3 x 5 note card:

A) Which item you want.

B) EXACTLY what you'd like me to write in the book.

I have no problem personalizing books, but please be specific about what you'd like. Asking for a quote from Bast is fine. Asking me to wish someone luck in their own writing is fine. "Happy Birthday Schmendrick." "To the best lover I've ever had." It's all good.

But if your card says, "write whatever you want." I will write, "Whatever you want" in the book. Seriously.

C) Your return address.

D) Contact information. Either a phone number or an e-mail address where you can be reached.

2. Include a check. Make it out to me because I'll be using a couple bucks from each one to cover postage.

3. Mail the note card and the check to:

Pat Rothfuss
P.O. Box 186
Stevens Point, WI 54481

If you live outside the US and want to buy a book, follow the instructions I've laid out in THIS BLOG. International shipping is expensive, and you need to fill out your check a certain way or my bank won't cash it.

  • If you'd want to buy something AND do the lottery, that's fine. So if you send in a check for 85 dollars, and specify that you'd like a copy of the College Survival Guide, I'd mail you that book, then match the extra twenty dollars and throw your name in the hat twice when we did the drawing.
  • If you're an author or some other interested party who would like to donate something other than money to the cause, feel free to drop me an e-mail at Paperback.contest (squiggly at sign) gmail.com

Additional questions? I might have answered them HERE or HERE or HERE. Please read through those FAQ's before you e-mail me.

That's all for now. If you have any other ideas for things that might make good prizes, feel free to leave them in a comment below.

And one more time, here's the link to MY TEAM PAGE.


Hopefully yours,

pat


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posted by Pat at 69 Comments




Heifer International: Part One - A Charity for People Who Love Baby Ducks.

Earlier this year, I held what I thought was going to be a little photo contest. The response surprised me; hundreds of people sent in almost a thousand photos. People dressed up, stripped naked, and climbed onto rooftops. It was an eye opener for me. I realized that there were a lot of folks out there who *really* liked the book.

Ever since, I've been thinking about what sort of contest I'd like to run next. Fanart contest? Video contest? Something for the writers out there? What sort of prizes would people be interested in? Posters? Signed books? Sneak peeks of books to come?

But then I had a better idea.

Eventually, I will run the contests I mentioned above. There will be good times. We will revel in our shared geekery. Blogs will be writ. Prizes will be had.

But first, I'm hoping to direct some of this energy in a slightly different direction. If I'm going to hand out prizes, I'd like it to be for a good cause. Something I believe we all have in common....

I believe that deep down, people are good. I believe that most of us would go out of our way to take care of baby ducks.


My favorite charity is called Heifer International. They are a great force for good in the world, and I'd like to help them raise some money.

There are a lot of worthwhile charities out there. Important causes. Things I feel strongly about. But Heifer is my favorite. Here's why.

Let's say by some miracle I raised ten thousand dollars to help fight cancer, or Parkinson's, or Alzheimer's. While it would help the cause, it would just be a tiny drop in the bucket. Enough to help fund some lab's research for a couple weeks.

But we don't need to research a cure for hunger or poverty. We know how that works. Heifer doesn't just hand out bags of rice, Heifer gives a family a goat and teaches them how to take care of it. Then that family has a continual source of milk for their children. They can sell the extra milk to make money. When the goat has babies, they give those babies to other members of their community, sharing the gift.

Heifer helps people become self-reliant. As someone who has just recently become self-reliant, I know what a nice feeling that is.

My Mom loved Heifer. Every Christmas I would donate enough money for a goat, then give it to her as a present. I remember the first year I did it. She opened the envelope where I had drawn a crude picture of a goat and a happy stick-figure child.

She knew what it meant right off the bat. "Oh! I love it!" she said. And she got a little weepy, because she loved nothing better than helping people who needed it. She had a heart as big as the sky.





This is why I love Heifer. If we raise a couple thousand dollars for them, it will make peoples' lives better. A couple thousand dollars means little kids get milk to drink. It means families get sheep, which means wool for warm blankets and clothes. It means better wells, so moms with babies can have clean water to drink.

I think this is something we can all get behind, can't we?


So here's my plan, the bare bones version.

1. You will help by spreading the word, and making donations.

2. I will match all of the donations, dollar for dollar.



3. We both have a big warm fuzzy feeling in our chests that lets us know we've helped make the world a better place.

4. Finally, as a gesture of my appreciation, I will supply gifts for the people who participated: Signed books, maps, sneak peaks of book two, stuff like that.

This blog is to explain *why* I'm doing this. The details about *how* are over here on THIS BLOG. There are links to my Heifer Team page and details about the prizes. So hop on over there and check it out.

Excitedly yours,

pat

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posted by Pat at 17 Comments



Tuesday, November 4, 2008
The Art of Letting Go....

Today, as I sat at my computer answering e-mail and worrying about the election, a lovely person in Japan sent me this photo....




(The Great Buddha in Kamakura, reading my book.)


Seeing this picture made me realize that somewhere along the line, I have lost my way.

I used to be very Buddhist in my thinking. Well... perhaps not *very* Buddhist. But somewhat Buddhist, especially for a westerner. My philosophical beliefs are an eclectic hodgepodge at best, but there's some good stuff in Buddhism. Stuff that makes a lot of sense.

One of the foundation stones of Buddhist philosophy is especially appealing to me. Namely, that desire leads to suffering.

For example: You see a kid at the grocery store. He wants a candy bar. His mom says no. Result? Suffering. He pitches a fit. Similarly, when I was in my early twenties, I spent a long time desiring various types of romance, and because none was forthcoming, suffering ensued. Much suffering.

It's simple. The more things you desire, the greater your potential for suffering. It's basic math. And when you stop to think about it, the solution is obvious. If you want less suffering in your life, you simply have to reduce your desires. You need to let go of things.

This particular truth fits in well with other parts of my personal philosophy: my love for simplicity, my appreciation for the cynicism of Diogenes, and my basic bumish laziness.

I used to be good at letting go. I kept my life simple and had few desires. That was what made it possible for me to work on my book for more than a decade without wanting to kill myself. I told myself the truth: that it would probably never be published. I did my best to avoid that desire (sometimes with only moderate success) and therefore saved myself a lot of disappointment over a great many years.

But lately, I've fallen from that path. I worry endlessly about all manner of things. I feel responsible for so much. I want to make sure book two is really good. I want to to be pleasing for my fans and successful for my publisher. I want to lose some weight. I want my country to get back on track, to take care of its citizens and stop shitting on the rest of the world. I want, I want, I want....

And for a year now, I've been wondering why, for the most part, I'm not really happy. It sounds really horrible to say, but it's true. By the numbers, I'm way ahead of the game. But emotionally....

Here's the deal. It's one thing to be unhappy when your dog gets hit by a car and your house burns down. You should be unhappy then. Everyone can understand that. That's a sensible response to your situation.

But when your book gets published, becomes a bestseller, and gets translated into a billion languages you're supposed to feel good. You're supposed to feel super-amazing-good. But a lot of times I don't. That's not sensible. I don't understand it, and it frustrates me. Not only that, but it seems downright perverse at times. Then on top of it all, I feel like a real shit for not constantly feeling like the universe is giving me a hummer.

So why, I constantly ask myself, was I so perfectly content as a poor teacher with an unpublished book and 20,000 dollars of credit card debt? Now I own a goddamn riding lawnmower, and I worry about my lawn. For over a year now I've had a solid knot of tension nestled between my shoulderblades like a lump of hot lead. I worry about the next translation of my book. I worry about my carbon footprint. I worry that in writing this blog, I'm going to come off as an utterly self-absorbed frothing emo titmonkey.

But writing about it helps. That's what I do, you see. I write about things. That's my deal.

People who don't write usually assume that writing is a process of communication. They think I have something in my head, and I'm just transcribing it onto the page.

But that really isn't the truth. Writing is a process of discovery. I think about things, but then when I start to write about them, I learn things while I write. I figure things out *because* I write. This happens in poems. In those silly satire columns I write, in the novel, and today, it's been happening here in the blog.

Right now in fact. I think I've finally put my finger on something important. Desire. I have been too much with the world lately, getting and spending. I think I need to start letting go.

I realize that might sound ominous, but it isn't. I feel good. Better than I have in months. Letting go shouldn't be seen as giving up, either. In Buddhist philosophy, once the problem of suffering is realized, there is still right thought and right action.

So now I'm going to go vote, largely without desire. It feels good letting go of that. Later I will work on the book without desire.

In between those two, I think I will go the Kebab House for lunch. Sometimes they serve a great soup called "Fire and Rice." That, I think, I will desire just a little. Because it is really good soup, and no matter what else I might be, I'm still only human.

Later everyone,

pat

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posted by Pat at 63 Comments



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