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...
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
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 Heiferbefore January 15th.
Do it. You know you want to make the world a better place.
Want more details about the Worldbuilders fundraiser? Click HERE.
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?"
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.
I've talked before about my movie daydreams. It's a fun thing to think about mostly because we haven't sold the rights yet. That lets me imagine it the way I hope it will be, without any irritating reality getting in the way.
If a movie does get made, it will be probably be terrific in the traditional sense of the word. The truth is, the more I think seriously about who I would cast in the movie, the more I realize that I'm really not qualified to make those sorts of choices.
Sure sure, there are actors that I really enjoy and admire. But just because I like an actor doesn't mean they'd be right for the movie adaptation of my book.
I think what a lot of people forget is that there's a huge difference between enjoying a role an actor has played in the past, and being able to predict whether an actor will be right for a role in the future. I love James Marsters as Spike, But that doesn't necessarily mean there's a good role for him in the book.
Casting is profoundly speculative. Predictive. Not predictive like poker. We're talking weather forecast predictive. Voodoo predictive. Even with my caveman knowledge of the movie world, I respect the hell out of the casting directors who can do it well. And though I enjoy daydreaming, I haven't fooled myself into thinking I could do their jobs.
(That said, I still stick to my choice of Neil Patrick Harris for Bast. That is an opinion that fire cannot burn from me.)
The same is true with cinematography. And special effects. And a lot of the other technical elements involved in working in film. Those are highly specialized skills and I would be an idiot to think I could do them better than the professionals.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I wouldn't want to be involved in the movie. I know the book better than anyone. I know the characters and the world. What's more, I understand how stories work, and story transcends medium. Story trumps all. That's where I'd be helpful.
Still, these days when I daydream about the movie, I don't think about the big picture. It's more fun for me to think of little things that would add to the movie. I like to think the powers that be would let me amuse myself with some small things in order to shut me up while they re-write the screenplay to turn Kvothe into a lesbian, shape-changing unicorn.
I think a lot about music in the movie. Not the score, mind you. That's another specialized skill. What I mean is that I think about who we could put on stage when Kvothe is in the Eolian. I think about who would play the troupers from the early part of Kvothe's life. I think about how cool it would be to have some really awesome musicians doing cameos in the movie.
I'm not talking about celebrity walk-ons, like Britney Spears. I'm talking about modern-day troupers. People who spend so much time making music that it's practically a superpower.
I'm talking about people like this:
I want them in the movie. How could I not?
I just stumbled onto this clip, and I don't know anything about the musicians other than the fact that their names are Cecilia Siqueira and Fernando Lima. They're Brazilian. And they're obviously awesome.
Extra minion points for anyone who can dig up some contact info on them. The Brazilian edition of Name of the Wind came out just a little bit ago and I'd love to send them a book.
P.S. There's no news about the book. If I had news, or a release date, I would post it up in a blog. No blog = No news.
I'm guessing many of you already know about Coulton. He strides the world like a colossus. He mocks. He's funny. He has a pretty good beard....
Mostly though, Coulton does music. Smart, funny, wonderful music.
It's possible that you might know Coulton's work even if you don't know his name. If you've finished Portal, for example, you've heard his stuff. "Still Alive" the song that plays during the end credits is his.
And if you went to PAX this year, you got to see him onstage. Not that I'm bitter that I missed it because I was at Dragoncon that weekend. Not that I'm bitter that I missed the chance to hang out with Felicia Day of Dr. Horrible fame at PAX too. Not that I'm bitter that apparently Felicia got up and sang on stage with Coulton at the concert....
Yeah. Okay. I'm a little bitter.
For those of you out of the loop, a couple years back Jonathan Coulton started something he called thing a week. As the name suggests, he wrote a new song each week and released it for free on the internet.
As you might guess, some of the songs were a little forced. But what's far more important is how often he struck gold. A lot of his songs are pure, distilled brilliance.
How good are they? Well.... imagine if someone unspeakably hot person came to your house. Imagine whoever you like: Brad Pitt. Alyson Hannigan, Bea Arthur. Whatever turns your crank.
So. This person shows up at your house and gives you a really good backrub. Then they make you an ice cream sundae. Your favorite kind. Then, and this is the key part, they sex you up while you're eating the sundae....
Okay. Honestly, his songs aren't quite as awesome as that. But they're maybe.... seventy percent that awesome. Which you have to admit, is pretty amazing.
But you don't have to take my word for it. Here's a few Youtube samples from an acoustic show he did in LA a couple years back.
Here's one of his more popular ones called Code Monkey:
And another called: I Feel Fantastic.
One more, possibly my favorite song of his: I Crush Everything.