Saturday, August 1, 2009
San Diego Comic-Con 2009: The Highlights

I've wanted to go to San Diego Comic-con for years, but something always seems to keep me away. Two years ago it was a family vacation. Last year I was conducting a wedding.

This year was no different: I had an exciting adventure Wednesday morning. I was in the ER two hours before my plane was supposed to take off....

But while that story is a good story, exciting, full of drama and tragedy, it's not really part of the convention. So I'll pass it over for now. Suffice to say that despite many obstacles, 2009 was the year that I finally made it to San Diego Comic-con.

On Thursday, I met up with a fan called Pooka. I don't always recognize my fans, even when they contact me before the convention. But in her case, I somehow managed to pick her out of the crowd:




(I'm the one with the beard.)

You can't see her pink leggings in this picture, but you'll have to trust me on the fact that her plumage is abundant and bright. She was nice enough to show me around the convention, as she's a veteran comic-con attendee, and I'm just a newbie.

Pooka and her friends throw a party every year at the con: X-Sanguin. They invited me this year, and while I was flattered, I ended up taking a pass. I expect I'm not sexy enough to hang with the glitterati. Not even when I'm wearing my shades and pretending to be as cool as Neil Gaiman:





Pooka helped me find the room where my panel was being held. It was the only panel I was scheduled for at the convention proper, and to be honest, I was a little nervous. Not only was Jacqueline Carey on it, but Lev Grossman was moderating. Dude is scary smart.

I can't find a picture of the entire panel, but here's one of a few of the other folks, including Carey.





In the corner you can't see Lev, but you can spot a copy of his soon-to be released book, The Magicians. I got to read an advance copy a little while back, and really enjoyed it. I'll probably do an official recommendation on the blog a little closer to the release date.

The panel's topic was "The Evolution of Fantasy." I avoided making too much of an ass of myself and got a laugh or two. Which is as much as I can ever hope for on a panel. If you want more details, Lev wrote a column about it for Time. You can read it over here.

After the panel, I had a signing where some fans gave me an awesome little Voodoo doll. (Or mommet, if you will.)




(Yes. It's got little screws sticking out of its head.)

When I asked how they'd like me to sign their books, they said they wanted to be designated as official Fanatical Minions. Nobody's ever asked that before, so they got to be Fantastical Minions #1 and #2.





I felt obliged to point out that the numbers were not a ranking system. Just a designation.

After the signing I got to hang out a bit with Cindy Pon. Whose first book just came out. She's a lot of fun, and if you hop over to her blog, you'll see her dressed up as Chun Li the next day at the con. Needless to say, she's my kind of person...

Capping off Thursday, I got to have Dinner with Greg Dean from Real Life comics. We've known each other for a while, but never met in person. Dinner was lovely and the conversation.... Well.... I had a great time. But I don't know if I can say the same for Greg and Liz.

You see, most people have conversational filters. Not so much with me. So when something interesting happens in my life, I tell stories about it. Even if these stories are... odd.

As I've mentioned, when I was leaving for the convention I had... an adventure. An adventure that I shared with them....

You should probably just go read the comic he wrote about it...

Last but not least, I saw the first Name of the Wind t-shirt ever at the convention:





How cool is that? Extra minion points. Doubleplus good.

Thanks all for now, folks. But come back soon, there's going to be a blog in a day or so that will need some audience participation...

pat

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Monday, December 22, 2008
Reaping the Whirlwind

First, I'd like everyone to take a moment and appreciate the clever title of this post. I'm unreasonably proud of it.

We good? Okay.

After a long week, Sarah and I have finally managed to tie up about 99% of the loose ends on the fundraiser. We've drawn numbers, sorted prizes, sent e-mails, and packaged nearly everything up.

And when I saw "we," I mean "Sarah." I did a lot of the sifting, number juggling, and e-mailing, but Sarah was the package queen.





Awww.... She loves those packages. Those hundreds and hundreds of packages.

Also, as you can see in the lower lefthand corner, the holy light these prizes exude can shine through cardboard, tape, and two layers of bubble wrap. It's powerful stuff.

I'd also like to note that these packages do not include the Subterranean Press books. Because not only was Subterranean Press cool enough to donate a great pile of stuff, they were nice enough to handle all the shipping for those books too. Which is why I am filled with love for them.

And speaking of love....





Here Sarah is modeling the catgirl hat many of you have seen before. I wanted to prove that I actually did buy it for her, and wasn't secretly keeping it for myself.

Simply said, the fundraiser would have been impossible without Sarah. She spent dozens of hours bundling up books, running errands, and generally getting everything done. Hell, the trip to the post office alone took two full hours, and that was with a friend with a van helping.

Everyone say, "Thank you Sarah."

And now, answers to some final questions.

  • Things went really crazy right at the end of the fundraiser. What happened?
Things did go a little crazy. On December 9th, I mentioned on the blog that I thought we had a decent chance of breaking $40,000. Then, we raised over $16,000 in the next two days, tearing past $50,000 and leaving me worried that I was going to have to take out a loan so I could cover my half.

A big piece of this was brought about by folks spreading the word on their blogs. Most notably, Neil Gaiman.

I'd heard through the grapevine that Gaiman was a bit of a Heifer supporter, so I sent him a little e-mail, asking if he'd be interested in mentioning it on his blog.

I should have realized that asking for something like this would be like sticking my tongue into.... well... into anything, really. In my experience, whenever you stick your tongue into something, the outcome is going to be either very exciting, very dangerous, or both.

This was one of those "both" situations. After his blog, Gaiman's readers flooded over to participate in the festivities. Felicia Day mentioned it on her blog too. Plus, I know a lot of folks were finishing their own personal fundraisers and/or waiting until the very end to make their donations. Hence the crazy.

Rest assured, everyone who got their donations in by the 11th was entered into the lottery.

And yes, I'm all twitterpated that Gaiman referred to me as a "good author." Though I hope at least some of that was referring to my storytelling as opposed to my ethics.

  • The donations hit nearly $55,000. How much are you matching?
The other day I asked Sarah, "What do you want for Christmas?"

"Nothing you can afford to get me," she said huffily.

And we laugh. This has become the running joke in our house.

I've decided to match all the donations. I could have stopped at forty thousand, but I said I'd keep matching until the 11th, and I like to keep my promises.

  • What was the final total?

If you've read the blog that started it all, you know I offered two options to people who wanted to donate. There was the Sure Thing option, and the Lottery option.

A surprising number of people chose the Sure Thing, which meant they mailed me a check and I mailed them something back, usually a book or a map signed however they wanted it.




(Click to Embiggen)

A *lot* of people chose this option. So many that I ran out of first edition books. The total amount raised from the Sure Thing option was over six thousand dollars.

That, plus my matching donation from the lottery, minus the cost of postage and packaging materials, brings us to $58,493.14





I'm showing you the check not as proof that I'm mailing it, but because it took me ten friggin minutes to write this thing out. I screwed up five checks before I managed to get it right. I misspelled "ninty," wrote the wrong amount, wrote the wrong year, and failed more than once to get the total to fit on the line.

I keep pretending that I'm a grown-up, but I'm not.

Anyway, this money, plus the donations that were made directly to the Heifer page, makes a grand total of $113,466.28.

I don't have words enough to express how happy this makes me. I firmly believe that deep down, people are fundamentally good. But it's nice to have some data that backs that sentiment up every once in a while.

I'd like to thank all the authors who donated books, all the people who mentioned the fundraiser on their blogs, and all the people who donated money to the cause. Yay us.

  • Are you planning on doing this again next year?
Yes. But I'm planning on doing some things differently.

More stuff. A lot of people wanted to contribute books or other goodies to this year's auction, but they didn't hear about the fundraiser until it was nearly finished. I've already got stuff piling up for next year's fundraiser.

Streamlined lottery. Next year, when you make your donation you'll be able to mark what prizes you're interested in. That way if you win something, it will be something you're sure to like.

Auctions. Some prizes are really cool, but only to a very select group of people. So next year we're going to auction those items off separately. These might be things like manuscripts. Or they might be services, like an author agreeing to insert your name into an upcoming book, a lawyer offering legal consultation, or feedback on a manuscript from a literary agent.

  • I want to be a part of next year's fundraiser. How can I help?
Donate. Want to chip in a signed book or two? Lovely. Have a cool collectible or unique skill you think would be a worthwhile addition? Wonderful. I'm already collecting prizes for next year. Send them along.

Or maybe you'd like to be an even bigger part of the fundraiser? I'm going to be looking for official sponsors to help me match donations for next year. I'd like to be able to do all of it on my own again, but I just can't afford it.

If you'd like to help out, drop me a line on my contact form or send an e-mail to Paperback.contest (squiggly at thinger) gmail.com.

Spread the word. Not everyone has signed books to donate or money to throw around. But you can help a lot by letting people know about the fundraiser. A lot of the prizes I received came from authors who contacted me, saying, "A fan sent me an e-mail about your fundraiser and I'd love to be a part of it." So if you know someone that might be interested in helping, donating a prize, or potentially being a sponsor, talk to them about it. It's a big help.

Help me come up with a name.
We *really* need a name, folks. We can't keep calling it "The Heifer Fundraiser." It lacks panache. Names are important things, you know. And they can tell you a lot about a fundraiser.

Right now, the best I've been able to come up with is "Worldbuilders." But we need something catchier than that. I know that a lot of you are word-clever, as shown by your constant, witty definitions of the word verification giberish. Funnel the churning magma of your creativity toward this problem and I'm sure we can come up with something good.

In fact, let's try to get the ball rolling in the comments below. Serious suggestions only please. Believe me, I've come up with enough sarcastic-sounding ones on my own.... (Geeks for Goats being the least lame of these.)


Thanks again everyone,

pat

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Monday, September 8, 2008
What happens at DragonCon....


Okay, a lot of you asked about the picture I posted up about a week ago:





True, the vast majority of the questions were variations on the theme of "what the hell?" But I still figure it could do with a little explanation.

While cruising around DragonCon, I tried to find a good present for Sarah, my girlfriend. I picked up the catgirl hat for her because I figured she would get a kick out of it.

About half an hour later I wander by a bookseller, and who do I see sitting at the autographing table but John Scalzi and Tobias Bucknell. Both authors, bloggers, and acquaintances of mine, it's safe to say that the sheer awesome manliness radiating out from the two of them combined was overwhelming.

Perhaps I exaggerate slightly. I can't honestly say it was overwhelming. Truth be told, it was just whelming. I was whelmed.

Anyway, I started to wander over to chat with them, then realized a golden opportunity lay in front of me....

Needless to say, they were horrified and amused. Scalzi actually borrowed my camera and took this picture of me, while Toby snapped his own.

That picture Toby posted up on his own website, offering a prize to the person who posted the funniest caption. There were over 80 of them there last time I looked, and I have to say, it's been a long time since I laughed that hard.

You should go check it out.


Later all,

pat


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posted by Pat at 21 Comments



Tuesday, September 2, 2008
DragonCon in a Nutshell.

How was DragonCon, you ask?

In summary:





Yeah. That's pretty much it.

Stories forthcoming,

pat

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posted by Pat at 30 Comments



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