Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Fanmail Q & A: Coolness

It's been a while since I answered an e-mail from a reader. How about we do that?

Pat,

I just wanted to say I've loved The Name of the Wind for over a year now, but I just recently found your website. Your blog has kept me laughing for almost two solid weeks as I go back and read the archives. That's something I've never done with a blog before.

Even better, your fundraiser was seriously amazing this year.

Seriously, how cool are you?

Jake

Jake,

You strike on a topic I've been curious about for some time. How cool am I?

As I've mentioned before in the blog, growing up, I wasn't one of the cool kids. But things change, and these days geek is chic. I'm willing to admit to the fact that these days, I might actually be a little cool.

Your letter poses an interesting problem though. If you'd simply asked, "Are you cool?" I could have gotten away with answering "maybe" or "kinda." But you've asked for a _degree_ of coolness. What's more, you've requested that I *seriously* consider the problem.

That means we need to use science and shit. We need quantifiable units of coolness that we can plug into formulas. We need to be rigorous.

Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, the BIPM hasn't established a standard unit by which we can measure coolness. I can't just tell you that I'm say, 85 pascals of cool. Or 158 newtons. Or whatever.

That means if we want to determine how cool I am, we have to measure me against some sort of universally accepted standard of cool. We need to develop our own yardstick, as it were.

So, let's pick two people who are undeniably cool. The king and queen of geek cool: Felicia Day and Neil Gaiman.

Now we need some numbers. While popularity isn't quite the same thing as cool, you have to admit they're closely related. Since I don't have access to things like book sales or website hits, we'll have to go to the lowest common denominator: Facebook.

(Yes, I know. Technically, Myspace would be the lowest common denominator. But there's only so low I'm willing to go, even for science.)

A quick search of fan pages reveals the following stats.

Felicia: 192,000 fans.

Neil: 90,000 fans.

Me: 10,000 fans.

Now we could stop here and say, that I'm about .05 as cool as Felicia. Or that I'm roughly .11 of a Gaiman. Or something like that.

But drawing data from only one source strikes me as slipshod. To round things out, why don't we take a look at Goodreads rankings?

Here's a screenshot of their list of most-followed people.

[Edit: Yes, I know these numbers have changed since I took the screenshot. I'm not redoing the math.]

(Click to Embiggen)

As a side note, you can see that according to Goodreads, I'm ever-so slightly cooler than Wil Wheaton. I like how it looks like his little Lego man is pissed at me for being above him.

"Curse you, Rothfuss," Lego-Wheaton says. "How dare you get between me and Felicia day?"

"Takest not that tone with me," Russian-dictator-looking-Rothfuss glowers from above. "Lest I crush you with my manly, blue-lit beard."

"Bring it Hagrid," he replies. "I'll beat you like a redheaded stepchild."

"What are you going to use?" I say. "Your kung-fu grip? Hell, you don't even have any elbows!"

Wait... Sorry, what was I talking about again?

Oh. Right. Coolness. I guess I lost a few points just there.

Anyway, as you can see things stand like this:

Me: 383 friends, 308 people following my reviews.

Felicia: 2,710 friends, 380 people following her reviews.

Not pictured above, Neil Gaiman sits at #1 on this list. Topping the chart on a mountain of cool with 5,175 friends and 3,133 people following his reviews.

Let's just combine these for simplicity's sake:

Gaiman: 8308

Felicia: 3090

Me: 691

Because the Facebook numbers are really high compared to Goodreads, we have to normalize them by multiplying by .045. (Don't ask how I got there. It's boring. If you understand statistics, you know how it works.) That gives us:

Gaiman: 4050

Felicia: 8550

Me: 450

So we add these together and apply the bonus multipliers.

Gaimain:
Medium Bonus - Novels, Comics, Movies, Audiobooks: *1.4

Association Bonus - Engaged to Amanda Palmer *1.5

Flair Bonus - Accent *1.4

Appearance Bonus: Sexy *1.5

12358 *1.4 *1.5 *1.4 *1.5 = 54499


Felicia:
Medium Bonus - Television, Webisodes, Comics: *1.3
(The Guild comic is coming out soon, in case you didn't know.)

Association Bonus - Works with Joss Whedon *1.6

Flair Bonus - Smells like flowers and PS3 *1.3

Appearance Bonus: Sexy *1.5

11640 *1.3 *1.6 *1.2 *1.5 = 47212

Me:
Flair Bonus: Beard *1.2

Penalty: Engaging in imaginary smack talk with Lego-Wheaton. *.09

1141 *1.2 *0.9 = 1232


You still with me? Now we have to create our yardstick for the measurement of geek-coolness. Imagine if Neil Gaiman and Felicia Day were somehow alchemically combined into one creature. Some ubercool, sexy, hermaphroditic, webisode-creating, rockstar, gamer, author thing.

I think it's safe to say that godlike creature would be the ultimate amalgam of geek cool.

So if we add together the scores of Neil Gaiman and Felicia Day, we get roughly 100,000 units. These I hereby term Gaiman-Day units. They will hereafter be used to determine how cool someone is. 100,000 Gaiman-Day units is the coolest you can be without collapsing into some manner of singularity.

So there we go. Now we have a way to quantify how cool I am, Jake. I am exactly 1232 Gaiman-Day units of cool. Only about one percent as cool as it's possible to be.

I hope this answers your question, Jake.


pat

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posted by Pat at 111 Comments



Wednesday, January 20, 2010
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.

Hello.

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?

Perfect.

Everyone, meet Valerie. Valerie, this is everyone.

Say hello, everyone.

pat

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posted by Pat at 126 Comments



Thursday, January 14, 2010
Books from Peter V. Brett - Plus an Interview





This is a Worldbuilders blog.





Well folks, here's the last of the prizes, and the last of the author interviews.

Read on, and find out why Peter V. Brett is my new best friend.

*****

Heya Brett. Before we start, could you give us some of the details about how awesome you are? Y'know, awards, how many foreign countries your books have sold in. Stuff like that. Dazzle us.

Awesome, right. Let's see... The Warded Man (AKA The Painted Man) was written on my cellphone during my subway commute to work. In many circles, I am more famous for that than the book itself.

No, seriously:

(You can read articles about it: here, here or here.)

Despite having been written with my thumbs, it was named one of Amazon UK's 10 Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2008, and has since sold in 18 countries and 17 languages so far (closed a deal in Turkey just a couple of days ago. Very excited about that for multiple reasons). It has been a bestseller in the US, UK, Poland, and Germany that I know of.

The series has been optioned for film by Hollywood director Paul WS Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt, who have done such movies as Event Horizon, Death Race, Pandorum, and the Resident Evil franchise.

Er... I am also devastatingly handsome, and make babies with the kind of auburn hair I am told women pay vast amounts of money to their colorists for. I drew the little chapter avatars in the US version of The Warded Man myself.

And he also makes julienne fries ladies and gentlemen. Order yours today!

Let's start with an easy question. If you were a cake, what sort of cake would you be?

The kind that's been sitting on the counter a long time and is sort of stale so you don't really want to eat it right this second but keep it around in case you suddenly wake up desperate for cake in the middle of the night.

What are you reading right now?

I just got over the flu, so I got a lot of reading done, including Brandon Sanderson's new Wheel of Time book, The Gathering Storm, which I admit I really enjoyed even though Brandon is my nemesis. I think Jordan's spirit is pleased. I also read Shadow's Edge by Brent Weeks and Legend by David Gemmell. I'm trying to decide between starting Mistborn by Sanderson or Acacia by David Anthony Durham next. In the meantime I am reading a bunch of comic books I've accumulated over the last few weeks.

All this reading feels good. For the last couple of years I've been too focused on my own writing to read much else, and I think that was unhealthy. I also had trouble turning off my internal editor, which sucks a lot of the fun out of reading.

If you had to pick your favorite book of all time, what would it be?

Ugh. Hard. Favorites shift with my moods. Let's broaden a bit. My Personal Top 5:

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks
A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
Shogun by James Clavell

You're relatively new to the publishing world. How has getting your book published changed your life?

Man, you have no idea...

Oh, wait. Yes you do.

I sold in mid 2007, and since then, pretty much EVERYTHING in my life has changed. One minute I was begging someone, anyone, to please read my book, and the next I'm answering fan mail from Australia and Japan. In addition to selling and deciding to write full time, my wife lost her job, we had a baby, and bought a new apartment.

Even though it's mostly been great stuff that I always dreamed about, I really felt like the rug was pulled out from under me, as all the constants in my life up to that point vanished. I didn't know which way was up, and felt an incredible pressure to write a sequel that wouldn't let down the readers who loved the first book. It was doubly hard because I was doing much of it as a zombie on the baby's bi-hourly feeding schedule while we fretted over money, the cost of health insurance, etc.

Your blog helped me a lot as I adjusted to the change. Seeing someone else going through many of the same things (and coming out the other end of it) made it a little easier for me.

That's nice to hear. Sometimes I would write some of those blogs and then think, "Why am I telling people this? Why am I burdening people with my emo bullshit?"

I know that feeling well, but the people who would feel burdened by hearing about your life probably don't read your blog. I've found that blogging about my life helps me order my thoughts and keep things in perspective.

How often do you check your amazon sales rank?

Far too often. It is a sick, sick obsession. I also have google scour the internets and read every single review, no matter how nut-crunching.

Oh man. Google Alerts? I've avoided that particular madness by the clever application of my own ignorance. I don't know how to set it up. I just trust that if something important enough happens, someone will e-mail me.

That is probably wise of you. Google alerts takes about 3 seconds and the internet know-how of a shoe to set up, but it's probably best you never open that door.

How many copies of your own books do you currently own?

I have two shelves of my own books. One has two copies of each version/translation for my personal collection. So far that is 16 distinct volumes, so there are 32 books in my personal collection. These books are precious to me, and I guard them like my young.

The other shelf has books I am free to give away, and I try to run contests and things on my blog to keep those moving. That shelf has another 47 books at the moment, in various languages.

Wow. Specific numbers. Nobody else has been that forthcoming yet.

What are they hiding, do you think? Secret bunkers of their books in case of apocalypse?

Absolutely. I assume everyone buys their own first book obsessively, usually in conjunction with checking their Amazon sales rank.

Okay. Before this interview goes any farther, I have a confession to make.

You were one of the first people to send your books into the fundraiser, and while I was sitting up with my baby one night, I didn't have anything to read. Your books were sitting right there....
So I read one. That's not something I normally do with donations, but it was just sitting there. Taunting me.

Admission of guilt is the first step towards absolution, my friend. I think if you put a note in the front of the book saying "I read this one; the cookie crumbs and coffee stains are mine. Love, Pat" whoever wins the book will forgive the fact that it is second-hand, since they will probably get a lot more for it on eBay.

Boy, are you sure? I never write in books other than when I sign my own for people. I think it's a sin, isn't it?

This is a special case. Anyone who wins it in the Heifer fundraiser will probably be more a fan of yours than mine, anyway, and I give you leave to illuminate my book with your delicate cursive... or deface it with your chicken-scratch, if your handwriting is anything like mine. (Thank goodness we live in the computer age.)

Okay. If you're sure...

  • A copy of The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett. Signed by the author... and another author who read it.



Feel free to add "It didn't suck" to your note...

Man, way better than that. I have to say, your book was really fucking good.

!! Do go on...

Okay, to be completely honest with you, I was really ready to dislike it. I'm not proud of this... but, I'd heard you'd already got a movie deal going, so I was a little jealous. And you wrote it on the subway, so I was ready to be all snarky about that, too.

I was kinda expecting you to be Paolini of the F-train. His book got popular because he was so young, and I assumed yours just got attention because of the subway gimmick.

I should know better than jump to conclusions like that, of course. But I can be just as ignorant and petty as the next guy...
And I was totally wrong, your book is, like .5 of a Whedon on the coolness scale.

Firefly Whedon or Dollhouse Whedon?

There is only one Whedon, and I am his prophet.

Did you see that time in Astonishing X-Men when he made xxx Xxxxxx Xxxx xxxxxxxx? That was AWESOME.

That was awesome. He caught me off guard like he always does. That's one of his gifts, in my opinion. He's exceptionally good at coming at any sort of story from a fresh direction.

Sorry I xxx-ed out your potential spoiler, by the way. I have issues.

Back to the point though. I really dug your book even though I didn't want to like it at first...

I understand completely. So long as we're being honest, I felt the same way about you at first. When my book first came out last year, it seemed like every other review was referring to it as "The best new fantasy since The Name of the Wind". I know it was meant as a compliment, but after it happened a few times, it started to stick in my craw. My inner insecurity began translating that as "this is a good book, but TNotW is a better one." Grr.

I didn't know anything about you or TNotW at the time, so I picked up a copy to see what all the fuss was about. Admittedly, I went in with more than a little bias, ready to pounce on any flaws I could find just to make myself feel better.

Of course, I ended up utterly charmed, and when I started reading your blog and saw what a nice guy you were, I realized I was being a bit of a dick.

Heh. The same thing happened with me when my book came out. Everyone was like, "Pat Rothfuss is the next Scott Lynch!" I remember thinking, "Can't I just be the first Pat Rothfuss? I've got a lot more experience being that."

Ha. I just feel sorry for the poor schmo who gets saddled with being the next Peter Brett. That's no prize.

So.... Now that we're friends and all, is there any chance I could get an early look at Desert Spear? I'll do just about anything to get a copy. I'm not joking here. I'd choke a nun.

Hrm. Well, here's the thing. I only have 4 advance read copies, and two of them have been promised to fans as prizes in an ongoing contest on my blog. The other two are my personal copies, on the aforementioned "precious" shelf. They are so beautiful, the paired books on that shelf, like a little Noah's Ark of books. Even my mom doesn't have a Desert Spear ARC.

But that said, maybe if there were a way to make the copy eventually go to charity...

I wouldn't want to steal one of your personal copies. Like I said, I understand the book-hoarding impulse....

Actually, I made a plea to Del Rey, and they shook loose another copy for me to send you. You know. For charity.

Muahahahaha! Witness my power! No. Wait. I mean... that will be a great addition to the fundraiser. This is all about charity you know...

Just put it and The Warded Man in a plain brown box labeled "Pat's used books" and add it to the lottery.

Done:


What's the most shameful self-promotional thing you've ever done?

I brought chocolate cake with icing wards to a signing at ComicCon just to entice people over. In my defense, it was my birthday.

You were at Comic-Con this year?

New York, not San Diego. I usually go to SDCC, but my daughter was born on that exact weekend in 2008, so I think I may miss it until she is old enough for me to convince her that an airplane hanger full of 200,000 cosplayers is a birthday treat.

If you play your cards right, you should be able to convince her that it's a special birthday party just for her.

That's the plan.

What is the best compliment you've ever received?

Milla Jovovich hugged me and told me she loved my book.

Oh man. Now I'm filled with terrible rage and jealousy. I think I might hate you again....

Uh-oh.

What's the most hurtful thing someone has ever said in a review of your book?

A lot of readers try to pinpoint my personal morality and politics from the book. Sometimes they are wrong and say terrible things about my beliefs that are really upsetting. A few times I have tried to engage those critics in a polite, calm, and non-confrontational manner, just to set the record straight. Sometimes that helps. Sometimes it is a clusterfuck.

Two extra points for use of the word 'clusterfuck.' Do you have a particular piece of grammar that you screw up regularly?

I grew reading a lot of British fantasy (Tolkien, CS Lewis, Lewis Carroll, etc.) so there are a lot of Britishisms I use without realizing it. My copyeditors hate me.

If you could punch one literary figure in the face, who would it be?

I challenged Brent Weeks to a knife fight at the World Fantasy Convention this year, Beat It style, but he'd left his switchblade in his room so we just drank scotch instead.

Rumor has it that Voltaire wrote on the naked backs of his lovers. Do you have any little rituals that help you write?

I write very long books, so I would need many lovers.

That's what I keep telling Sarah, but she isn't buying it. How long was the Warded Man, anyway? It didn't feel very long at all....

The Warded Man was 163,000 words, give or take. The first draft was closer to 180,000, but I cut a lot in the final editing pass. The Desert Spear, however, weighs in at a hefty 240,000 words, and that's AFTER the heavy cutting. It's no Wise Man's Fear, but the hardcover will still make an effective bludgeon.

I hear you about the cutting. Over the years I'm guessing I cut over 100,000 words out of The Name of the Wind.

Speaking of which, I had an idea when I was interviewing Weeks a while back. It turns out he cuts a lot of stuff too. I'm thinking it would be cool to collect some deleted scenes from some other fantasy authors, put them into an anthology along with some commentary by the authors.

We could call it Worldbuilders, and some of the money it made could go to help match funds for the Worldbuilders fundraiser. I'll admit it's just a pipe dream so far, but what do you think?

It's a good dream.

I saw that interview, where you both were talking about having cut the first sections from your books. I don't know if this is just the case for all new writers, but the Prologue to The Warded Man was cut just prior to publication as well. I have a whole page of my website devoted to excised material, along with essays as to why things were cut. If you ever want to do a Worldbuilders anthology, I will be happy to contribute.

Rock. On. I'm so going to make this happen.

In the meantime, I still need to make a donation to Worldbuilders for this year. I don't feel right about entering the lottery, though. Would it be possible for me to made a modest addition to the pool helping to match donations?

Oh merciful Buddha, are you serious? Some cash to help match donations would be the best thing ever.

Last year the fundraiser really tapped me out financially, so I was trying to be more careful this year when I said I'd only match 50%. But we've ended up raising WAY more than I expected. We're already over 115,000 dollars. Even with Subterranean Press matching the first 10,000, that still leaves me stretched really thin.

I never planned on Worldbuilders being a one-man show. I'd always hoped some other folks would offer to help match donations, or maybe do fundraisers or auctions of their own to help Worldbuilders raise funds to match donations....

But you're the first to actually offer.


Anyway, the short answer is "Yes." I'd love to have you onboard helping to match donations.

You are now officially my new best friend.


*Ahem.* Anyway... back to the pre-tangent question. Do you have any weird writing habits?

Sometimes when I have writer's block I will sync whatever chapter I am working on to my phone and write on the subway. For some odd reason, that always clears the block. No idea why.

That's another reason the Voltaire thing wouldn't work for you. It'd be hard to get properly intimate on the F-Train. People would complain about how many seats you were taking up.

You'd be surprised what you can get away with on the F...

I recently made a joke about "transition putty" on my blog. That being, of course, what we writers buy at Home Depot to smooth out our rough transitions. If you could have some sort of handyman tool like that, something like Plot Spackle or a Character Level. What would it be?

I wish I could go buy a box of minor character names like I can a box of nails. Look at all the trouble it's causing you. You had to start a whole contest to get some ideas.

Heh. You detected my clever scheme, did you? Keep quiet about it and I'll cut you in for 10% of the names.

Mum's the word.

Those are all the questions I have. Thanks much for the interview, and double thanks for being willing to help out Worldbuilders as our first official author Sponsor. I can't thank you enough for that.

Oh, and next time you see Milla, give her a hug for me....


Will do. Thanks so much for having me on the blog, and for all the great work you're doing with Heifer. I'm glad I could do my own little part to help.

*****

Personally, I can't think of a better way to end the last post of the fundraiser: our first author sponsor. Hopefully the first of many.

  • Four copies of The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett. Signed by the Author.

Not only is Brett's debut novel a smashing good read, but owning a copy will bring you good luck, protect you from the swine flu, and make you roughly 33% more attractive to the opposite sex.

Plus Brett has hugged Milla Jovovich. That means if you win one of these books that he's touched with his own hands, it's like you're getting to hug her too, albeit twice removed.



Well folks, this is the last of the prizes. You have until midnight on January 15th to get in on the action. For every $10 you donate on my Team Heifer page you get a chance to win books like these and many, many others.

If you want to know more about what you can win, or if you'd like more info about Worldbuilders itself, you can head over here for all the details.



With thanks to our sponsor, Subterranean Press.

(Ahhh... Last post of the fundraiser. Now can relax a bit....)

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posted by Pat at 44 Comments



Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Music, Miscellany, and Signed Copies of The Guild.




This is a Worldbuilders blog.




So Worldbuilders is almost at an end for this year. We've got one last blog full of prizes. We've got music and some other cool miscellanea, including some signed DVD copies of The Guild.

But first, news:

First and foremost, the deadline: The fundraiser ends on January 15th. You have to donate before then to have a chance at winning the fabulous stuff we're raffling off.

Second, as I'm writing this, we've already raised over 110,000 dollars. That means people have donated twice as much as last year.

This is empirical evidence that y'all are awesome. Seriously. Before I was just guessing, but now I can prove it with math and such.

Thirdly and lastly, a tiny story:

Yesterday Sarah was busy feeding the baby when I walked past her bedroom.

"Sweetie?" she called. "Can you do me a favor?"

"You can't afford it," I said.

I am, of course referring to the recently completed auction for the Golden Ticket. Apparently the thought of winning a favor from me was worth over 15,000 dollars to someone.

This leaves me stunned and more than slightly frightened. If someone paid, like, seventeen bucks for it, I'd feel free to tell them to go screw if they asked for something unreasonable. But for 15,000 dollars, I worry that I might end up being pressured into something morally reprehensible, like kicking a koala bear.

Anyway, I hope the favor granting goes smoothly. Unlike the uncannily timed comic that just came up on Cyanide & Happiness...

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @ Explosm.net



Okay. Enough news. On to the prizes....

  • Two CDs of Manticores and Owlbears: Songs of Dragons and the Dungeons in which they dwell! by Daniel Marcotte.
I met Daniel Marcotte at Gencon this year. He was strolling the halls all minstreled up, and carrying a gorgeous lute.

We got to talking and quickly established our mutual geek cred. He gave me a CD. I gave him a book. The rest, as they say, is history.

This particular CD is a bunch of D&D songs played on classical instruments. Fun stuff. Plus, I've heard it rumored that listening to Dan the Bard's CD gives you +1 on your next encounter. So you might want to look into it.

  • Two CD's of Unicorns and Dragons: Love Songs, Drinking Songs, and Fighting Songs from the Bristol Renaissance Faire! by Daniel Marcotte.
More from Dan. I'd already have a sample of his music up on my webpage right now if I weren't so busy with book and baby. Hopefully soon.

Not all of Dan's music is steeped in modern-day Geekery. Some of it is old-school geekery as well. This CD is "Tales of Wizards, Knights, Pirates and Princesses, set to music of the Ap Huw Manuscript (16th c Welsh Bardic Tradition) and transcribed for Renaissance Lute."

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while might remember these folks from a previous post. If you never saw that blog, you should really click over here and watch the little video. It's short, and I guarantee you've never seen anything like it.

After I gushed about how awesome they were, we actually got in touch. I sent them a copy of the Brazilian translation of the book, they sent me some CDs for the fundraiser.

"They are considered a new phenomenon in the Brazilian guitar. With a mix of perfect technique, infallible repertory and a lot of charisma Fernando Lima and Cecilia Siqueira are winning admirers where they go" Published on "Violao Pro" Magazine, Sao Paulo – Brazil

You can also catch their music on their website and myspace page.

  • Six copies of Only Ghosts Remain by Fermata.
I caught Fermata playing about a year ago at the Afterdark, the local coffee shop here in Stevens Point. It was cool stuff, and it gave me some ideas about what type of music a group of eclectic troupers might play.

I'd have a sample of their stuff up on my webpage too if I wasn't so swamped...

Review from Sepiachord.com, "Fermata are not most bands and make the smooth mixing of pop elements and folk elements seem easy.There's a confidence here that makes what they do feel light, effortless. Despite the somber mood they evoke this confidence gives a sense of hope and positiveness to the work. "Only Ghosts Remain" is a chamber pop album for goths-who-smile. This collection proves that all "gothic Americana" doesn't have to be gutter tales of depravity and desperation."

You can listen to the music of Fermata at their myspace page.

Another Wisconsin musician was nice enough to kick in a CD of his work:

From Eli August's myspace page: "Eli August creates music with zeal and energy, focusing on mood, tonality and lyricism. The songwriting mines memories of past regrets and failures to create melancholy aural set pieces that are sincere, passionate and some times dark, but never completely devoid of redemption."

I guarantee you've never heard anything like this stuff. I could try to explain it to you, but I just don't have the words for it...

Description from SkullsofHeaven.com, "db is a self-taught throat singer, nature mimic, and multi-voiced performance artist [...] He has rolled up his sleeves and written lyrics for some of the songs, though he still keeps the emphasis on wordless imaginary flight with his vocal gymnastics. Playing bass, bansuri flute, and percussion he creates menageries of animal worlds with minimal looping effects and expressive feats of multi-tonal singing."

  • Three CD's by Janis Ian, Folk is the New Black, The Best of Janis Ian: The Autobiography Collection and Billie's Bones.
Most folks know about Janis Ian because she's a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter who's been making music for over 40 years. Fewer people realize that in addition to being a talented musician, Janis is also active in the Sci-fi community.

She contacted me after reading my The Name of the Wind and said some very flattering things. Then, despite her disappointment that book two wasn't finished yet, she was nice enough to donate some CDs to Worldbuilders.

Blogcritics.org say, "Best Of Janis Ian: The Autobiography Collection is a two-disc retrospective of Janis Ian’s career. All of her hits and well know songs are included as well as some of her equally impressive but not as famous new material."

"Now I can add another favorite to my Hall of Urban Fantasy Fame: Deborah Smith writing as Leigh Bridger... tense, heart wrenching and lovely." - Pam Headrick, bookseller - A Thirsty Mind

  • Two copies of Once Bitten by Kalayna Price with signed bookplates.
"Once Bitten is a solid urban fantasy debut with enough original ideas and twists to satisfy readers looking for something different and fresh." - SciFi Guy Blog

  • One set of the first two books in the Unbidden Magic series, Moonstone and Moonrise by Marilee Brothers with signed bookplates.
"Marilee Brothers' novel stands out for its humor and Allie's strong point-of-view as an underdog finding her place in the world. This is another good choice for public library teen/fantasy collections. I look forward to the next title in this series." - Grinnell College Libraries

  • A copy of Mutant Chronicles by Matt Forbeck. Signed by the author.
From the back of the book: "It will be a dangerous mission. I don’t expect that any of us will survive. But it’s a chance to save mankind, to save our world. Maybe the last chance."

  • A copy of Blood Bowl: Rumble in the Jungle by Matt Forbeck. Signed by the author.
"The action begins in the very first paragraph. From then on it is non-stop action, adventure, humor, and blood." — Huntress Reviews

  • A set of two books in Knights of the Silver Dragon, Prophecy of the Dragons and The Dragons Revealed by Matt Forbeck. Signed by the author.
"A thrilling series of adventures that will not only get kids interested in fantasy, but also the Dungeons & Dragons game as well." — Tim Janson


I'm guessing most of you already know about Felicia Day. She was Penny in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along blog, after all.

However, I'm guessing some of you might be woefully ignorant about the The Guild: Felicia's brilliant mindchild.

I got these copies of The Guild signed when I was out at San Diego Comic-con this year. I was doing it for Worldbuilders, of course. Not because I have a thing for Felicia Day, and certainly not because of my my burgeoning bromance with Sandeep Parikh.

Whatever my motivation, the result is the same: delightfully signed swag available if you donate at least 10 on my page at Team Heifer before January 15th.

Do it. You know you want to make the world a better place.

Want more details about the Worldbuilders fundraiser? Click HERE.



With thanks to our sponsor, Subterranean Press.


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posted by Pat at 18 Comments



Monday, January 11, 2010
Seven Stories Concerning Joss Whedon - or - The Road to Damascus




This is a Worldbuilders blog.





Ladies and Gentlemen, it's come to my attention that some of you out there might not know about Joss Whedon. This worries me.

Even more troubling is the thought that some of you might know of Whedon, but still haven't taken him into your heart or witnessed his glorious work.

I used to be like you. I used to live in darkness. Let me share my story with the hope that you might come to know him as I do....

* * *

It's 1999. Home from college, I go to a New Year's party with some old friends. Halfway through the evening, someone mentions Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

"Never seen it," I say.

Suddenly they're all bleating like sheep about how much they love the show. Everyone feels compelled to tell me their favorite line. Their favorite part. The time this character did this thing in this place.

"Yes yes," I said. "I've heard it all before. Honestly, it sounds pretty dumb to me."

Things get heated. It turns out I'm the only person there not actively following the show. They can't believe how ignorant I am. How can I not be watching it?

Finally I've had enough. I hold up a hand to get everyone's attention. "Listen," I say. "I'm a huge geek. I've written a fantasy trilogy that will never be published. I once dressed up as Pan for Halloween. I have LARPed." I looked at them all seriously. "And you people embarrass me. I am ashamed to be standing close to you right now. Kindly shut up about your stupid vampire cheerleader show."


It's 2002. I'm in grad school, covered in a thick, greasy layer of drudgery and helpless rage. I'm fighting as hard as I can, only to realize that academia is a tarbaby made out of bullshit and willful ignorance.

One of my friends buys the first season of Buffy on DVD and leaves it in my house. That's it. No sales pitch. I just come home from class and it's sitting on my coffee table.

And that's where it stays. I've made my feelings clear. I'm getting my Masters in English Literature. I'll be god-damned if I watch a show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

But, eventually, there's nothing else to watch in the house, so I plug it one evening while I eat my dinner.

And it's exactly what I expected. It's trash. It's heavy handed. The plot is predictable.

Worse of all, there's a showdown between the plucky blond eye-candy and the bad guy at the end of the first episode.

Buffy: Well you forgot about one thing!
Vampire: Whats that?
Buffy: Sunrise!

She breaks a window behind the vampire and rich amber light pours in, making the vampire howl in fear.

I roll my eyes. I've seen this cliche a dozen times before. I'd be bored if I wasn't so insulted. I reach for the remote.

But it isn't sunlight pouring through the window. It's just a lightbulb in the alleyway. The vampire looks out the window, confused.

Buffy: Its not for another 9 hours, moron.

I start to laugh, realizing whoever wrote this knows exactly what he's doing. This isn't cliche. This is whatever the opposite of cliche is.

I watch the second episode.


It's 2003. I'm out of grad school and teaching my own classes for the very first time.

I've made contact with a big-name New York literary agent. He's read my book and thinks it has potential. He says I'm a good writer, but my book has structural problems. There are plot issues. Am I willing to revise?

I am. But I have no idea where to start. I read a book called Writing the Blockbuster Novel and it makes no sense at all to me. I re-read my novel and realize I don't have the slightest fucking idea what I'm doing.

Fall semester ends, and the university tells me enrollment is down. Quick as that I'm unemployed.

So I go out and buy my very first home theater system. Bose speakers. Subwoofer. I fill up the credit card, figuring that if I'm going to be unemployed, I might as well enjoy my free time. Besides, it's not like I'm going to be able to get any writing done....

The first thing I watch is the second season Buffy.

It opens a window in my head. It changes the way I think about stories.


It's 2004. Despite the fact that I'm not really interested in space cowboys or whatever, I buy a copy of Firefly.

It's 6:00 AM when I sit down to watch it. After half an hour, one of my roommates wanders blearily into the living room.

"Wassis?" he asks.

"Firefly," I say. "First episode. I can start it over if you want..."

He lays down on the other couch and we re-start the episode.

Ten minutes later he looks at me. "They canceled this?" he asks.

"Apparently."

He looks at the screen, then back at me. "I'm so fucking pissed!"

I nod.

Six years later I'm still pissed. I'll probably be pissed about Firefly until the day I die.


It's 2006, and I'm attending one of my first conventions. I've sold my book, so now my job is to make friends in the fan community. Mingle. Rub elbows. Network.

I get invited to a party. I drink a drink. I end up talking with a beautiful young woman in a tight red dress.

"I don't know what all the fuss is about," she says. "I watched some Buffy, couldn't get into it. Firefly was boring. I just don't get what I'm supposed to be missing."

"Well..." I said thoughtfully. "Have you ever considered the fact that you might not actually have a soul?"


It's 2008. Dr. Horrible goes online. I'm giddy as a schoolgirl. I write a blog about it. I bring my friends over to watch. I leave it playing on my computer while I do work around the house, while I check my e-mail, while I eat lunch.

This continues for weeks.

Then one day while I'm singing "A Man's gotta Do..." in the shower, I have an idea for a short story. This is a rarity. I don't do short stories. Better yet, it's a short graphic novel.

So I sit down and start to write it out. It's fun. I've never written a script for a graphic novel, and it's tricky thinking in terms of page layouts, paneling, and dialogue placement. I break out my copy of Understanding Comics and start making notes for a friend who could do the illustrations.

Two hours later I realize I'm writing Dr. Horrible fanfiction.

Four hours later I'm still writing it.


It's 2009. While playing Guest of Honor at a convention, I end up on a panel about Joss Whedon.

Much to my surprise, I hear people nitpicking. They say, "Buffy was great until season four." "I got bored with Dollhouse after two episodes." "Angel was too dark." "Buffy got weird in season five...."

Finally I've had enough. I hold up a hand to get everyone's attention.

"Listen," I say unto them. "You're all a bunch of whiny little titbabies. Joss Whedon is a storyteller and you're upset because he isn't acting like a music box, playing you your favorite song again and again.

"Joss Whedon made me care about the X-men, even Cyclops. He sold me on space cowboys. He made me sing in the shower and write fanfiction for the first time in my life. He told me a subtle story with Dollhouse and gave me the best character arc I've ever seen with Wesley Wyndam-Pryce."

"Why don't you marry him?" someone shouts from the audience.

"Because of Proposition 8," I shot back. "And because he never returns my calls."

* * *

So that's the story of my conversion to Whedonism. I've pulled a Saul of Tarsus and these days I'm a full-blown missionary. In fact, Sarah has informed me my man-crush is about to step from being cute to creepy, so I'm trying to reign myself in a little bit here.

For example, I'm not going to post up any of my Whedon-tribute macaroni art. Neither will I trouble you with any of the sonnets I've composed.

Instead, I'll add some Whedon stuff to the Worldbuilders lottery. That means if you donate money to Heifer International before January 15th, you have a chance of winning this stuff in addition to all the other cool prizes.

  • All seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the five seasons of Angel, and the first five graphic novels composing "Season Eight"of Buffy.

About a year ago, I went to talk to a bunch of high-schoolers as part of a book festival.

As per usual, I read a bit, then did some Q&A.

One of the kids asked a question about character building. I thought of the perfect example that would answer his question and said, "Have you seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer?"

I meant it to be a rhetorical question. I mean, everyone's seen Buffy, right?

He hadn't. I was a little surprised. So I asked the whole auditorium, "Who here has watched Buffy?"

Only about three hands went up.

I shouldn't have been surprised, I suppose. But I was. What's more, I was actually mad. I turned to the teacher that had arranged for me to come out and talk to the kids and demanded, "What the hell are you teaching these kids?"

  • Both hardcover volumes of the Astonishing X-Men, containing the entire story arc written by Joss Whedon.

Even if you don't read comics, you will enjoy this. Even if you don't care about the X-Men, you will like this story. It's wonderfully self-contained, so you don't need to know the last 40 years of x-history to follow what's going on.

  • The complete series of Firefly and the sequel movie Serenity.

If I ever get to teach a creative writing class, I'm assigning Firefly as a textbook. Everything you need to know about storytelling is right there in the pilot episode.

Side note: if you watch the movie before watching the series, I will magically appear and choke you.

  • The first season of Dollhouse.

Some people I normally respect are all snarky about Dollhouse.

Fie, I say unto them. If you can't handle a subtle story, feel free to go watch MTV cribs. The rest of us will be right here, enjoying the awesome.

It's a different sort of story. That means, of necessity, it has a different tone. But it's still Whedon, and that's all that matters.

  • Two copies of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

For concentrated cool, it's hard to beat this disk. Not only is DR. Horrible like a primer on how to create a realistic villain, but the commentary track is a musical too. I'm not even kidding.

God. Just looking at the cover makes me want to listen to it again....


That's all for now folks. Remember that the fundraiser is over on January 15th. So if you want to get in on the action, you better do so soon.

Money raised by Worldbuilders goes to Heifer International, which helps people all over the world raise themselves out of poverty and starvation. If you'd like to donate directly you can head over to my page at Team Heifer and I'll match your donation by 50%. Trust me. You'll feel great afterward.

Or, if you want more information about the Worldbuilders fundraiser itself, you can head to the main page HERE.



With thanks to our sponsor, Subterranean Press.

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posted by Pat at 115 Comments



Saturday, January 9, 2010
Mark Tremonti Signature Guitar - Signed by Creed





This is a Worldbuilders blog.

If you want details, click here.




Back in September, I got a piece of fanmail.

By itself, this isn't that strange. A lot of folks contact me using the form on my website. A lot. While there are too many for me to reply to personally these days, I do read them all.

One thing I've learned by reading these messages is that a lot of different people read my book. Subconsciously, I always expect my readers to be like me. That's to say I expect them to be youngish college students who are... well... kinda geeky.

(I know that I'm not *really* a college student anymore, but that's still how I think of myself in my head. After spending 11 years in college, then teaching for a couple years, I don't know if I'll ever be able to think of myself as anything other than a college student. In my head I'm also still in my twenties. And I'm thinner, too.)

But in the last couple years I've learned that not everyone who reads fantasy is a geek. Or at least not the sort of geek that I am. I've been contacted by soldiers in Iraq, lawyers, carpenters, politicians, a cage fighter, police, and aerospace engineers.

Well, the last one isn't so surprising, actually. One of my my best friends in high school grew up to be an aerospace engineer, and we played D&D like nobody's business.

The point is, by this point I should know better than to judge people by their profession. Geeks come in all shapes and sizes, and people aren't defined by their jobs.

So back to the story: It's September of last year, and I get an e-mail from Michael Tremonti. He tells me he's Mark Tremonti's brother and publicist. Apparently, Creed was going to be playing a show in Milwaukee, and they knew I lived in Wisconsin. So Michael was just dropping me a line to see if I'd like to come down, catch the show, and maybe hang out a little.

To be honest, at first I was pretty sure one of my friends had made a fake e-mail account and was screwing around with me. That seemed a lot more likely to me than a rockstar out there reading fantasy books. Aren't
Geeks and Rockstars diametrical opposites? Aren't we supposed to be natural enemies in the wild?

It turns out we're not. While e-mailing back and forth with Michael, he told me he and his brother used to play D&D in the basement just like the rest of us.

Again, I didn't believe him. So they sent me this picture.


I am cowed by the might of your geekery, Mark. And I hereby promise never to question anyone's geek heritage ever again. Not just D&D. But AD&D. That's the real stuff. Back when the game was badass and you had to roll for things like parasitic infection when you traveled through a swamp.

Unfortunately, I couldn't make it down to the show. This was back in September, and Sarah was big with baby. I knew if I drove down to Milwaukee, she'd go into labor. I was absolutely sure of it.

Still, we stayed in touch, and when I was starting to gather prizes for Worldbuilders, I dropped Michael a line and asked if they might be interested in donating a couple of signed CDs or something.

He replied, "How about we just give you a guitar instead?"

"What?" I said.



Thanks so much, Michael and Mark. This is really going above and beyond...

I have to say, all rockstar coolness aside, this is a really gorgeous guitar. Holding it, I was filled with a great desire to rock out.

Here's the link to the auction.

This sort of thing is kinda unexplored territory for the fundraiser, as until now we've focused mostly on books and book-related stuff. So I'd appreciate it if y'all could help me spread the word a little bit. And sooner would be better than later, as the auction ends on January 15th.


Money raised by Worldbuilders goes to Heifer International, which helps people all over the world raise themselves up out of poverty and starvation. If you'd like to donate directly you can head over to my page at Team Heifer and I'll match your donation by 50%. Trust me. You'll feel great afterward.

Or, if you want more information about the Worldbuilders fundraiser itself, you can head to the main page HERE.



With thanks to our sponsor, Subterranean Press.

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posted by Pat at 16 Comments



Friday, January 8, 2010
Books from Brent Weeks - Plus an Interview



This is a Worldbuilders blog.






Time for another interview folks, this one with Brent Weeks author of the Night Angel Trilogy.

Heya Brent. Let's say you're at a party and you meet someone you wanted to impress. What sort of things about your writing career would you casually drop into the conversation to prove that you're awesome?

Oh, I'd definitely drop the NY Times bestselling author bit, though with a self-deprecatory asterisk.

Yeah. That carries a ridiculous amount of weight. A couple months after I hit the Times, an editor at Penguin asked me, "How do you like your new first name?"

I gave her a dumb look.

She said, "You're not Pat Rothfuss anymore. Now you're New-York-Times-bestselling-author-Pat Rothfuss."

And it was totally true. That's how everyone introduced me at conventions for almost a year.

What's your asterisk, by the way?

There are more NY Times lists than people think. There's a fiction hardcover list, a fiction mass-market paperback list, non-fiction lists, self-help lists, and children's lists. The list goes to 35, but due to... well, heck, I dunno, the cost of paper? the lists that get printed go only to 20.

I was on the list for 3 weeks, but I topped out at 29. One publisher who I gave a blurb to said, "Oh, we only count authors who hit the printed list as NY Times bestsellers." Oh. I feel snobbed on.

Thus: Hi, my name is New-York-Times-bestselling-author-but-only-on-the-internet Brent Weeks.

Oh man... you're only on the extended list? Good lord, why I am I even bothering to talk to you?

I kid, I kid...

If you had to pick your favorite book of all time, what would it be?

The Name of the Wind?

Ahh... That's why I'm talking to you. You've got me all blushy. Seriously though. What would your favorite be?

The monstrous compendium of Calvin & Hobbes.

Good choice. You're relatively new to the publishing world. How often do you check your amazon sales rank?

Oh, hells, busted. I used to check it all the time. Then I found this service that would do the dirty work for me...free. Check out titlez.com. Then I would check that sucker every couple of days. But I can proudly say that I've been Amazon sober for several months--with only a teeny little bit of backsliding.

What's the most shameful self-promotional thing you've ever done?

I joined Twitter? No, wait, I've done worse than that. I made some Stormtroopers pose with my books.

How about you?

Oh man. I don't know if it's the *most* shameful, but I have a bad habit of sending copies of my book to anyone I think might be remotely interested in it. Bloggers. Webcomic artists. Other authors. Everyone.

When The Name of the Wind was first published, I shotgunned books at least a hundred books out there, desperately hoping someone would read it, like it, and tell their friends.

What's your revision process like? How many drafts do you go through? What's the biggest cut you've ever made to a manuscript?

I cut the first thirty thousand words of The Way of Shadows. Then, much later, my agent told me to cut ten thousand words from Shadow's Edge. I went through seven hundred pages with a red pen, hacking out everything that wasn't necessary, and cut twenty thousand words. (Possibly a hundred pages, depending on spacing.)

I actually like revising. When you finish the first draft, a novel's such a rough stone, flawed and ugly, with only little glimmers of what it could be. Revising makes it a polished stone, flawed and ugly, with medium-sized glimmers of what it could be.

We sound pretty similar there. I actually cut the first chapter of Name of the Wind before we published it. It was cool worldbuilding, but it slowed the book down too much.

How about this? We take both of our cut beginnings, polish them up, then find a few other authors and start an anthology. How does that sound to you?

Man, I dunno. I mean, you HAVE a reputation to crap on. Me? If I sink any lower, I'll be the William Shatner of epic fantasy.

No... hold on a minute. I think this is a workable idea. If we got a few other authors who were willing to kick in their discarded chapters, it would be a cool collection that would give a peek into the creative process. It would show some of the behind-the-scenes worldbuilding we do that never makes it into the finished product.

Hell, we could call the anthology Worldbuilders. Then maybe donate some of the money it makes to next year's fundraiser...

C'mon. Say you'll do it. Remember: "The good of the many outweighs the good of the few..."

After computer switches and computer crashes... Man, I have no idea where that chunk is. Believe me, I'm all about cashing in for work I've already done, and giving proceeds to charity sounds good, too, but even if I found it... there's polishing a raw gem, and there's polishing poo. No matter how long you do the latter, it ain't gonna shine.

Maybe it isn't as bad as I remember. If I find it, I'll let you know.

I'll hold you to that. I like this idea....

What's the most hurtful thing someone has ever said in a review of your book?

It wasn't a review, but on a forum, someone posted a topic of "Brent Weeks raped Robert Jordan." That was pretty cool, especially because RJ was pretty much a hero of mine.

Will you tell me yours?

I think it might have been the Amazon reviewer who said all my female characters were whores or June Cleaver clones. That stung a bit.

If you could punch one literary figure in the face, who would it be?

Hold it, you never said you were going to ask about Twilight. Bollocks to Team Edward. Come here, you shiny pansy! Oh, um... I mean, not gonna go there.

Author D. H. Lawrence confessed that he enjoyed climbing mulberry trees while naked. Do you have any little rituals that help you write?

He did that first? Ah, man... You're telling me I have to come up with a new zany writer quirk for people to share about me?

I'm afraid so. You don't want people starting a forum thread titled: Brent Weeks raped DH Lawrence.

Seriously though. No little quirks about your writing process? No little superstitions or foibles?

I have these three balls, labeled 1000, 1500, and 2000. I juggle them in increasingly difficult patterns until I drop one. Whichever one I drop is the number of words I have to write that day.

I also make up lies to tell on the internet.

I recently made a joke about "transition putty" on my blog. That being, of course, what we writers buy at Home Depot to smooth out our rough transitions.

If you could have some sort of handyman tool like that, something like Plot Spackle or a Character Level. What would it be?

So you're the guy who's buying up all the transition putty? They keep telling me it's back ordered!

I do love !Vivify! brand Character Resurrection Screws. I had this guy who kept falling off my plot by dying, and a few of those suckers put him right back in place. I also have six--nope, nope--seven Plot Hole Shovels. I might need more...

Thanks again for agreeing to the interview. And for all the lovely swag you've donated to the fundraiser. You're a champ.

* * *

As you'll see below, Brent really went above and beyond in his donation, sending along a bunch of different signed versions of his Night Angel Trilogy. Ready for them all? Here we go....

  • Two boxed sets of the Night Angel trilogy. Signed by the Author.

  • Two sets of The Way of Shadows, Shadow's Edge and Beyond the Shadows. Signed by the Author.

  • Two hardcover collections of the Entire Night Angel trilogy. Signed by the Author.

  • An ARC of The Way of Shadows. Signed by the Author.

  • Two sets of the audio books The Way of Shadows and Shadow's Edge. Signed by the Author.

As you can see, Brent Weeks is one of those fancy lads who have already finished their trilogy. Three books, no waiting. Unlike some slackers out there...

A lot of folks have been raving about his books, but I'll just stick to Terry Brooks when he says: "I was mesmerized from start to finish. Unforgettable characters, a plot that kept me guessing, non-stop action and the kind of in-depth storytelling that makes me admire a writer's work."


Remember folks, the fundraiser is over on January 15th. Until then, for every 10 dollars you donate to Heifer International, you get a chance to win these books and hundreds of others like them.

I'm matching 50% of all donations made. So the money you kick in goes farther if you donate before the 15th. So why not head over to my page at Team Heifer and chip in. Trust me. You'll feel great afterward.

Or, if you want to go back to the main page for Worldbuilders to read the details and see all the cool prizes, you can click HERE.



With thanks to our sponsor, Subterranean Press.


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posted by Pat at 33 Comments



Wednesday, January 6, 2010
A Veritable Cornucopia of Signed Books





This is a Worldbuilders blog.




Here's some more books, folks. And as you can see, we've been saving some of the best for last.

Also, in the interest of complete honesty, I'm over-tired and over-caffeinated right now. This makes me punchy, which means I probably shouldn't be doing anything delicate like writing book descriptions.

Still, the fundraiser ends on January 15th, which means I really need to get these posted sooner rather than later. So I'm going to apologize in advance for anything bizarre or inappropriate I might say below.

Sorry.

  • An Advance Reading Copy of Neil Gaiman's American Gods. Signed by the author.

A great book, and I'm not just saying that because a chunk of it is set in Wisconsin. I'm saying that because I'm a complete geek for Neil Gaiman *and* a big chunk of it is set in Wisconsin.

"Original, engrossing, and endlessly inventive; a picaresque journey across America where the travelers are even stranger than the roadside attractions." - George R. R. Martin

  • A hardcover copy of Small Favor - a Novel of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Signed by the author.

Jim Butcher is another one of my favorite authors. In fact, he was one of the first authors I wrote about on the blog a long while back. I continue to love him despite the fact that writes two extremely well-crafted novels every year, thereby making me look like a chump.

From Publishers Weekly, "Butcher smoothly manages a sizable cast of allies and adversaries, doles out needed backstory with crisp efficiency and sustains just the right balance of hair's-breadth tension and comic relief."


"Crystal Rain is refreshing and imaginative, an exotic stew of cultures, myths, and technology." --Kevin J. Anderson


Anyone who's read the acknowledgments in NOTW knows I owe Kevin Anderson a great debt of thanks, as he helped get me started in the publishing world. On top of that, I now owe him even *more* thanks for donating this lovely ARC...

Publisher's Weekly says, "Anderson's sizzling sci-fi thriller resurrects the technology of miniaturization introduced in the 1966 film Fantastic Voyage. [...] Casual sci-fi fans as well as newcomers to the genre will enjoy this well-paced, energetic narrative."

  • A set of Jonathan Green's Pax Britannia: Unnatural History, Leviathan Rising and Human Nature. Unnatural History and Leviathan Rising are signed by the author.

From the back of the book: In two scant months the nation, and all her colonies, will celebrate 160 years of Queen Victoria's glorious reign. But all is not well at the heart of the empire of Magna Britannia. A chain of events is about to be set in motion that, if not stopped, could lead to a world-shattering conclusion. It begins with a break-in at the Natural History Museum. A night watchman is murdered. An eminent Professor of Evolutionary Biology goes missing. Then a catastrophic Overground rail-crash unleashes the dinosaurs of London Zoo!

  • A copy of Just Desserts by Simon Haynes. Signed by the author.

Signed by the author, the merest touch of this book will cure scrofula. At least that's what the promotional blurb says.

The Specusphere urges readers to "enjoy another fast and furious ride with the zap-happy, zany rapscallions."

  • A copy of Space Magic, stories by David D. Levine. This special signed hardcover edition is limited to 100 numbered copies; this book is copy number AC-6.

Like Nnedi, David Levine is one of the folks I met when we got published in Writers of the Future Volume 18 together. David writes short stories like I'll never be able to, and over the years his advice about how the publishing world works has been invaluable to me.

Space Magic is his first short story collection. His "Tk'Tk'Tk" won the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Short Story and "The Tail of the Golden Eagle" was a previous Hugo nominee; it also appeared on the Nebula preliminary ballot and was a finalist for the Sturgeon Award and Locus Award.

It's also important to note that this limited edition harcover of the book is numbered AC-6. Which means that it's harder to hit than AC-10.

  • A copy of Saundra Mitchell's debut novel, Shadowed Summer. Signed by the author.

Booklist says that Shadowed Summer is, "Highly atmospheric, with pulse-pounding suspense and an elegiac ending."

You hear that? Elegiac. How come nobody calls my book elegiac? I'm all kinds of elegiac.

  • A copy of The Six Sacred Stones by Matthew Reilly. Signed by the author.

"The wildly imaginative Reilly has taken inspiration from comics, video games, thrillers and Code-style puzzle novels to create this rocket-fueled sequel to his 7 Deadly Wonders [...] A tongue-in-cheek quality will help readers find this outlandish adventure thrilling." -- Publishers Weekly


"Wilson's fantasy debut recalls the complexity of classic epic fantasy in the tradition of Robert Jordan. Combining adventure with mystery and memorable characters, this is a good choice for committed fantasy fans." —Jackie Cassada, Library Journal

  • Two hardcover copies of To Ride Hell's Chasm by Janny Wurts. Signed by the author.

"Janny Wurts writes with astonishing energy... it outght to be illegal for one person to have so much talent." - Stephen R. Donaldson

  • One set of Webmage, Cybermancy, CodeSpell and MythOS by Kelly McCullough. All signed by the author.

"The most enjoyable science fantasy book I've read in the last four years." - Christopher Stasheff

  • A set of Naked and Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays by David Sedaris. Both signed by the author.

David Sedaris is a brilliant author I only discovered a couple years ago when someone advised me to listen to his short piece "6-8 Black Men" on Youtube.

After less than a minute, Sedaris had a fan for life.

I've been meaning to post a blog recommending Sedaris' books for almost a year. But something always seems to get in the way. For example, the last time I sat down to write a post about it, I got hung up about whether or not I wanted to use the word "boner" in the blog. Then I started to write a blog about how avoiding the use of the word "boner" revealed a lot about my revision process. Then I stopped writing that blog and did something else. True story.

Anyway, a couple months ago, I found out that David Sedaris was on tour here in the US. What's more, I found out that he was making at stop Stevens Point. I still can't imagine why he was here in Podunk, WI. His tour schedule was literally something like this: San Diego > San Francisco > Los Angeles > Salt Lake City > Stevens Point > New York. My suspicion is that he lost a bet with God.

Sedaris gave a great performance and was incredibly gracious in person, though I'm pretty sure I made a bit of an ass of myself when I got to the front of the signing line. I bought a couple of his books and rather than have him sign them to me, I had him just sign his name so I could use them for this fundraiser. Also a true story.

Washington Post Book World describes Sedaris as "Shrewd, wickedly funny [...] one of America's most prickly, and most delicious, young comic talents."


There we go. Now I can go to sleep. Hopefully I didn't say anything too awful.... If I did, enjoy it while it lasts, because I'll probably just delete it when I wake up later today...

Remember folks, for every 10 dollars you donate to Heifer International, you get a chance to win these books and hundreds of others like them. Plus there's the whole helping make the world a better place thing. That's nice too.

And don't forget, I'm matching 50% of all donations made. So why not head over to my page at Team Heifer and chip in. Trust me. You'll feel great afterward.

Or, if you want to go back to the main page for Worldbuilders, you can click HERE.



With thanks to our sponsor, Subterranean Press.


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Monday, January 4, 2010
Auctions: Golden Ticket and an ARC of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle




This is a Worldbuilders blog.





Let's deal with the simpler auction first, shall we?

  • An ARC of The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed by Patrick Rothfuss and Nathan Taylor. Signed by the Author.


(I think of it as Coraline meets Calvin and Hobbes.)

I've already talked about the Princess book over on this blog. If you'd like more details on it,you can head over there.

Simply said, if you win this auction, you can get an Advance Reading Copy of this book now, rather than having to wait until July when it's coming out through Subterranean Press. I'll sign it for you too.

Interested? Here's the link to the auction.

Note: for those of you interested in buying a copy of this book, you might want to do so sooner rather than later. Last I heard the print run was already more than half sold out...

  • The Golden Ticket.


(Note, contains no actual chocolate.)

Ever since I mentioned I was donating the Golden Ticket in one of the early posts of the fundraiser, people have been asking me questions about it.

Now that I'm auctioning one off, I should clarify a few things to make sure there's no confusion or hurt feelings after the bidding's done.

In the previous post about the golden ticket, here's what I said.
"If you win this prize, I will owe you one (1) favor. You can cash it in however you like.

You want your name in book two? We can do that. You want me to read your book and give you some criticism? No problem. You want me to attend your local convention, perform your wedding ceremony, or just give you a nice backrub? Consider it done.

A few stipulations:

* The favor has to be legal. (More or less.)

* It has to be something I can actually do. (Duh)

* I can't make anyone fall in love.

Other than that, I'll do my best to grant your wish…."

Aside from the last two sentences (which were really just a joking reference to Aladdin) I thought this was pretty clear. But since then, people have sent me e-mail asking questions that made me realize the wide scope of things people *could* ask for as a favor.

So here's a few more formal guidelines.

Examples of things you could use the golden ticket for:
  • If you missed the previous auction, or just didn't manage to win, you could ask me to read and critique your manuscript.
  • You could ask for one of the numbered museum quality copies of the Luring the Draccus posters. Phil was nice enough to give me a couple, and I'd part with one for this.
  • You could ask to get an early look at The Wise Man's Fear. (As soon as it's ready to show around.)

Examples of things you *can't* use the Golden Ticket for:
  • I won't give out details about what happens in the third book. I don't go in for spoilers.
  • You can't ask to change the course of the book so that, say, Kvothe and Elodin have a sex scene. Or Kvothe and Ambrose have a sex scene. Or so that someone dies, or doesn't die, or has a threesome with Bast and Chronicler, or whatever. Sorry.
  • I won't blurb your book. I'd gladly *read* your book and consider blurbing it, but that's not something you can buy, at least not from me. I decided years ago that I didn't want to be a blurb whore, and that I'd only blurb books I truly enjoyed and could recommend wholeheartedly.
  • I won't re-name my child, buy you a car, beat up your ex-boyfriend, or become physically intimate with you.
  • Well... let's call that last one a maybe. Anything more than a kiss and backrub would have to be approved by Sarah.

As you can see, there's a lot of room between these two extremes. Someone asked if I would come out to their house, make them dinner, and tell them a story. My response was that that sounded fine to me so long as:

1) They didn't mind waiting until I can work it into my travel plans.
2) They like pasta.
3) They don't kill me and wear my skin like a coat.

See how easy I am to work with?

Here's the link to the auction.



Remember folks, for every 10 dollars you donate to Heifer International, you get a chance to win fabulous prizes. Plus there's the whole helping make the world a better place thing. That's nice too.

And don't forget, I'm matching 50% of all donations made. So why not head over to my page at Team Heifer and chip in. Trust me. You'll feel great afterward.

Or, if you want to go back to the main page for Worldbuilders, you can click HERE.



With thanks to our sponsor, Subterranean Press.


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posted by Pat at 25 Comments



Friday, January 1, 2010
Sanderson, Gaiman, and a piece of iron that fell from the sky...



This is a Worldbuilders blog.





Those of you who have been following the fundraiser closely will know that I've been debating what to do with a few of the books that were donated.

Specifically, I've been wondering what to do with two very lovely, very collectible books given to us by Neil Gaiman and Brandon Sanderson.

After reading the hundred plus suggestions that were made on the blog and doing a lot of thinking, I've decided *not* to auction these books off. I'm going to enter them into the general lottery instead.

I'm not going to witter on about all the pros and cons I weighed to come up with this decision. Suffice to say that:

1. I think the books will be a nice draw for the lottery, and will help tempt people to donate a little more for a chance to win something so cool.

2. It's nice to have a couple super-rare prizes in the mix.

3. The lottery appeals to my egalitarian nature. Everyone has a chance to win.


That said, here are the two new additions to the lottery:

  • A first edition hardcover of The Gathering Storm, signed by Brandon Sanderson, Harriet Jordan, and many others.


Brandon was nice enough to take some time out from his crazed touring schedule to send us this copy of The Gathering Storm, signed by himself, Harriet Jordan (Robert Jordan's wife) and many of the people who made the book possible, including his agent and some of the production staff at Tor.

  • A signed, numbered ARC of Stardust. Hardcover in its own slipcase. Signed by Neil Gaiman.



This is a gorgeous book. I covet it to an almost ridiculous degree.

It's a numbered ARC of Stardust: number 28 of 250. Signed by Neil Gaiman.

Also, because I'm a bit of a geek, I'll donate a little extra something to go along with Gaiman's book. I happen to have a piece of the Gibeon meteorite laying around the house. It seems like an appropriate addition to this book, as it's an actual piece of iron that fell from the sky.

Here's a picture:



(Click to Embiggen)

I'm sorry it's not a very good picture. I can't find my camera, and I had trouble making Sarah's focus in on it properly. For reference, it's about an inch and a half on a side and weighs about 60 grams.

Gibeon meteorites are one of the rarer types, made almost entirely of nickel and iron. The top of the piece you see here is covered in a black coating called the fusion crust, caused by the surface of the meteorite getting really hot as it passes through the atmosphere.

You can see a better example of it in this picture:


(That's not my hand.)

The smooth faces where the meteorite has been cut show one of the cooler things about the Gibeon irons. There's a pattern embedded in the iron that looks like frost. And in some ways, it is like frost. Except frost shows up when water freezes, and these marks show up when iron and nickel slowly cool down over millions of years.

It's called a
Widmanstätten pattern. And it forms because the different alloys of nickel and iron cool at slightly different rates while the molten iron is in space. The effect can't be duplicated on earth, so it only shows up in iron-nickel meteorites.

Each different meteorite fall has a different mix of iron and nickel, so they each have a slightly different pattern. In my opinion, the Gibeon's is one of the coolest looking.

Here's a better picture if you want to see what it looks like:


That's not my hand either, and the photo is actually from a site called Arizona Skies. If you're curious to get more information about meteorites, or just look at some cool pictures, they're a good place to start.

Okay. Enough meteoriticist geekery. I need some dinner.


Remember folks, for every 10 dollars you donate to Heifer International, you get a chance to win these books and hundreds more like them. Plus there's the whole helping make the world a better place thing. That's nice too.

So why not head over to my page at Team Heifer and chip in.
Not only will you be automatically entered in the lottery to win these books and more. But I'm matching 50% of all donations made. Trust me. You'll feel great afterward.

If you want all the details about the Worldbuilders fundraiser, you can read all the details HERE.



Oh, and Happy New Years...

pat

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