PLEASE SEE THE UPDATE AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS POST – THE NINTH ANNUAL JAMES GARFIELD MIRACLE

So here’s my giant update: I made it almost 10 hours before running out of money and I was so happy to be able to help so many people.  Even more wonderful was how often I’d go to fill a list and find it was already filled.  Thank you.  Thank you on behalf of the hundreds and hundreds of kids who will have a present to open this year because of you.

Usually we make it to day two or three before it starts to get frustrating and you start to see people asking for crazy amounts of things but this year things got crazy a little quicker.  I tried to delete lists where people asked for more than the limits but so I’m exhausted so right now I’m going to just put a big BUYER BEWARE sign out and  say that there are probably a lot of wonderful people in the comments who still need help and are asking for a children’s book or a doll and if you can find those people you should help them.  But be careful.  Click on the filters to see what’s already been bought.  Ignore the lists that are insanely long.  Or just skip the lists and donate to Project Night Night.  Or Toys for Tots.  Or buy toys yourself and drop then off at your local shelter or domestic abuse center.

I’m feeling a little cynical right now but I’m going to shake that off because I am lucky to be able to help every child I helped.  I’m lucky to not have to worry this year, although I know each year is precarious and fragile.  I’m lucky to be surrounded by wonderful people who care and I’m lucky to not be in such a desperate spot that I make questionable decisions.

So tonight I’m going to shake off the frustration and instead say, “thank you.”  Thank you to everyone who helped, who asked for help, who felt a stir in their heart.  I am so lucky.

And if you happen to have gotten much more than your share of presents, don’t feel guilty.  I don’t want that.  Those presents are yours to do with as you choose. And if you happen to have asked for far more than you should have, perhaps consider giving those extra presents to a shelter.  Bundle your kids up and take them with you.  Feel good about giving.  Teach your kids how great it feels.  Because it does.  I promise.

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TODAY IS THE NINTH ANNUAL JAMES GARFIELD XMAS MIRACLE, Y’ALL.

Nine years of giving toys to kids who might not otherwise get presents.  That’s insane.  Almost as insane as the fact that this all began with a giant dead boar named James Garfield.

James Garfield and I love you.

The backstory: Nine years ago I bought a very jolly but kinda f-ed up boar head (named James Garfield)  and Victor thought I was crazy so I sold some homemade Xmas cards to make up the $90 I paid for him but I made so much I decided to give the money back to parents struggling to buy a toy for their kid.

It went quickly but as soon as I ran out of cash a ton of other people stepped up and asked if they could send toys to strangers and it grew into a weird but lovely tradition.

Each year I think will be the last year but each year people who were helped in the past ask if we’ll do it again so they can give back.  For those who like something easier you can give to Project Night Night, a brilliant organization that provides a book, stuffed animal and security blanket to kids experiencing homelessness, and also to Heifer because it’s nice to be able to donate the ass end of a water buffalo on the behalf of relatives that you don’t really like.

The JGXM is one of my favorite things ever but it only works if people follow the rules and this year they’re going to be a little stricter so that we can make sure to help as many people as possible.  PLEASE read all the rules and directions because if you don’t I may have to delete your post and that would suck for everyone.

  • The JGXM is for all children (under age 18) so if you are a parent and you’re struggling this year and don’t know how you’re going to buy you kid a present you can make and submit one wishlist with presents for your kids.  The limit is $35 per kid so please don’t ask for more than that because otherwise we can’t help as many children.
  • The only exception to the $35 limit is if you have a child that really needs a new coat.  Then you can add that as well.
  • Do not delete your list after it’s been filled and don’t delete anything that’s been bought.  It messes up the process.
  • On Friday after lots of the lists have been filled you can come back and add more things to your list if you still need food/pajamas/etc.
  • I’m going to go through the details of setting up a list but here are the two things that you really need to catch so I’ll say them twice.  Only add things that are “PRIME”.  Not only will this make sure you get your toy before Xmas but also most non-Prime sellers won’t ship to wishlist addresses.  And you have to set up a brand new wishlist for this which means you MUST go in and assign a shipping address specifically to this new list or it won’t work.  Every year hundreds of people forget to do this and it’s so frustrating for them and for the people who can’t help them.

Okay, let’s get started!

If you’re in need here is what you need to do.  Please follow each step:

1.Create a list.  (On Amazon, when you’re logged in you should see “Accounts & Lists”.  Click that and choose “Create a List.”

create a list

2.  Choose “wish list”.  Name your list.  Make sure it’s “public”.

3.  Go shopping.  Pick the thing ($35  limit) you want for each child and click on the “Add to List” dropdown button to add it to your list.  Please don’t make a separate list for each child.  Just make one list for all of them.  Please click here to see an example of what it should look like when it’s done.

Add to wishlist

4.  After your list is complete click on “add comment, quantity & priority” to add a comment about which things are for which kids and what age they are.  (You can just use their initials if you want.)

Add comment telling us who the gift is for

5.  This is the part people screw up the most.  YOU MUST assign a shipping address to your wishlist.  It’s kept private so all we see is the name of your city when we send you stuff.  See how it says “None” in the shipping address box below?  Don’t do that.  Click on it and add your address.    Delete the “Don’t Spoil my surprises” check box.  Makes sure NONE of the check boxes on the bottom are checked before you save changes.  This is so important.

6.  Go to “Manage lists” and check again.  Does it show your shipping address?  Are all of the boxes unchecked?  Awesome.  Save changes.  Copy the page address and come back here to the comments.

7.  Your comment should state how many kids you have, their ages, and THE CITY YOUR PRESENTS ARE GOING TO.  This is important because if you’re from Canada, for example, I can’t buy for you without paying extra for shipping but there will be people from Canada looking for other Canadians to help and it makes it easier to match up.  It’s also necessary because if your city doesn’t match what the gift registry says at checkout we can tell there’s a mistake and not send your gifts to the wrong person.  (It happens.)

8.  Do not feel bad about asking for help.  I suspect all of us (including myself) have been in tough economic situations before and for most of us this is such a wonderful gift to be able to give.  In fact, many of the people who come here to donate received help in the past.  One day you will pay it forward.

9. One out of 1,000 people will try to game the system here.  Please don’t be that person.  There’s a limited amount of money so please don’t take away from other children.

10.  Be happy and accept my thanks for letting us make this happen.

If you want to donate:

  1. Find a wishlist.  Buy what you want.  Proceed to checkout.  A page will ask you to choose a shipping address and it’ll probably default to your address so make sure you change it to their address.  Usually it’s the first address under “Other addresses” and it’ll say something like “_________’s gift registry address”.  On the next page it’ll give you the city it’s being shipped to so you can make sure you have the right address that matches the comment.  If they don’t match or you aren’t given an address then they probably made a mistake.   Delete everything in your cart and try another list.
  2. Very rarely someone will ask for more than the limits.  If that happens I’ll try to delete their post but just be aware that there’s a lot of trust needed to do this so no worries if it’s not for you.  I try to delete anyone that I can tell is gaming the system but I also try to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially when young children are involved.  If you have doubts, skip them.
  3. Be happy and accept my thanks for letting us make this happen.

If the amount of blind trust on this is a bit much for you then a FANTASTIC alternative is Project Night Night, which I cannot recommend enough.  Last week I put my Bloggess Calendar up for sale and already $1,400 has been raised to help them help children.  You did that.  Thank you.

Another quick thing…the money I spend each year on helping kids come directly from you.  From advertisers, from people who buy my books, or use my links.  If you are a part of this community, know that today I will be giving out over $5,000 in toys because of you.  I am so incredibly lucky to be a part of this community.

Okay…let’s do this.

2nd UPDATE:  Day 2.

I love you guys so much. Sorry I got snippy last night. I was a little exhausted and overwhelmed and I always panic at how many people won’t be helped. I think next year I’m going to finally accept all the wonderful offers of help that you guys always give. Something automated perhaps, so that the wish lists can be approved first and we can make sure that people include all the info they need and that people aren’t asking for to little or too much. I know it can be complicated and I’m sorry about that. Thanks so much for being so amazing and patient.

I’m going to see if I can find some more cash and maybe drop some more gifts late this afternoon. Love!

It’s coming!

First off, a quick update on the 2019 Bloggess Calendar: you guys have raised over $1,400 that will be donated to Project Night Night to help them provide comfort packages (a tote bag, blanket, a stuffed animal and a book) to children experiencing homelessness, and I am so incredibly grateful!

If you still need one you can click here to order one:

The cover art was done by my friend, Joe Badon, who has actually done the Bloggess Calendar cover for a number of years:

And next week?  We’re going to do the Ninth Annual James Garfield Miracle.

Every year I think it’ll be the last but then it rolls around again and someone who was helped in the past asks if they can help give back this year and it inspires me to do it one more time.  I was actually going to do it last week but I had a touch of depression and I didn’t think I’d have enough energy to get it done but I’m feeling better so if you’re struggling this year and need help getting a present for your kid this holiday or you want to help someone who is very much in need check back soon.

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And on an entirely different subject, it’s time for the Sunday wrap-up!

I’m going to BookPeople in a few days to sign books and if you want one for Christmas you can click here to order them and I’ll personalize it however you like.  And yes, I will happily write “KNOCK KNOCK MOTHERFUCKER” or “Thanks for burying that body for me” or draw a cat face in it if you want.  They ship all over the world.  To order a signed personalized copy just add the book to your cart and in the comments field during checkout write the name of the person you want me to inscribe it to or anything personal you want.

Shit I made in my shop (Named “EIGHT POUNDS OF UNCUT COCAINE” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):

Shit-you-may-or-may-not-want-to-see:

This week’s wrap-up is brought to you by Storyworth, who I love.  This holiday season, give your loved ones a StoryWorth Book to preserve their stories. Each week, we’ll email them a question about their life – asking them to recount their favorite memory of their grandparents, or whether they’ve ever pulled any great pranks. All they have to do is reply with a story, which is forwarded to you and any other family members you invite. At the end of the year, their stories are bound in a beautiful keepsake book your family will cherish!  Click here to check them out.

 

UPDATED FOR THE LAST TIME HOPEFULLY! 2019 Bloggess Calendar

As requested, the 2019 Bloggess Calendar is now available (and it’s 50% off today if you use the code DECKTHEHALLS) and the back of it has a giant color half-raccoon face that you can use to freak people out.

All profits go to Project Night Night.  Whoop!

UPDATED:  I don’t know why but some of you are getting emails that your order was cancelled because the calendar doesn’t meet Zazzle’s guidelines.  I’m not sure why but I sent in a request to Zazzle to look it up.  I just ordered a copy right now to check it and the order went through so I’m wondering if it’s a bug?  Or maybe they think it’s tentacle p0rn?  WHO KNOWS.  I’ll let you know what I hear.

UPDATED AGAIN: Okay, I still don’t have answers as to why some orders are cancelled and Zazzle says it can take days to get a response so let’s do this…   I made a new calendar and replaced anything that might have possibly been questionable with other things that are probably just as questionable but are different so if you don’t get your order refunded you will have one of the rare banned calendars but if you did get cancelled you can go to the links above and order the new calendar. No matter what I’ll send Project Night Night the profits on the calendars and I’ll also cover the profits that we lost because it’s an awesome charity and they do amazing things.

PS. To make up for this inconvenience please accept this video of Ferris Mewler groping me inappropriately.

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Writing with cats. #ithinkivebeengroped

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Also, I want a medal for not making a joke about how unsettling it is when your cat grabs Uranus.

UPDATED X 3:  OKAY.  You may have witnessed my full breakdown on twitter this morning when Zazzle cancelled my old calendar and my replacement calendar and told me that is was being cancelled because an image was copyrighted and that image was a picture of me.  *sigh*

HOWEVER, they quickly reached out to me and fixed the issue and brought back the new calendar so here’s what you need to know: if you ordered the new calendar (the replacement I made late last night…not the one from midday yesterday) your order is still fine and you’ll get your calendar.  If you ordered the first calendar you’ll probably need to reorder the new one. The half off sale is still going on today so make sure you use the DECKTHEHALLS code. If you look in your orders you can tell if you have one coming or if it was canceled.  Here’s an example where you can see the canceled one and the new one that I ordered:

Zazzle was very apologetic and they assure me that no one was charged for the canceled calendar as they just did a preathorization that was dropped as soon as the first calendar was cancelled.

So, long story short, the calendar linked above is fully operational and you can buy it right here.

I need a drink.

THIS IS WHY I DON’T CLEAN, VICTOR.

I’m too tired to unpack all of this but I thought I should share so you can learn from my mistakes:

Empty out your filters, y’all.

I wonder if Hemingway had this problem?

Today is a writing day so obviously Rollie and Dorothy Barker decided to help by turning on the caps locks and making me lose my place and giving water damage to my keyboard and basically just giving me even more of a reason to procrastinate.

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Writing with pets.

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Part 2

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Part 3. PETS FOR SALE.

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They are the perfect combination of horrible and entertaining, which is the exact tone I aim for in my writing so I guess it all works out.

Now back to work.

Tell me something good…

We’re on Day 5 of celebrating good things and this one might be a little disjointed because I pulled something in my neck and I’m on muscle relaxers and need a nap.  But today we’re celebrating great things going on with you.  Maybe you or someone you love did something you want to brag about.  Maybe you did something nice for yourself.  Maybe you survived the week.  Maybe you’re grateful for muscle relaxers and spellcheck.  Whatever it is, share it here.

As for me, I’m celebrating today because I sent a new chapter I wasn’t sure about to my agent and she loved it. Then I fell into a puddle of relief.  WHOOP!

Your turn.

 

The best advice I ever got

We’re continuing our week of bests here on the blog and I am LOVING your suggestions.   Today I want to know the best piece of advice you ever got.

If you’ve read my books you already know “PRETEND YOU’RE GOOD AT IT” – which I still write on my arm every time I have to do something scary in public but the second best piece of advice came from my grandmother, who told me, “It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice.  Unless people are being dicks.  You don’t have to be nice to dicks.”  Except she didn’t say “dicks” but probably just because English wasn’t her first language.

Still good advice though.

Your turn.

PS. I had a wonderful surprise recently when I opened Neil Gaiman’s new book Art Matters and saw this:

In all honesty my beard isn’t quite so luxurious but I appreciate the artistic license.

So basically I asked my favorite writer for advice on my first book and the advice was so good I wrote about it in my next book and then he wrote about that in his next book and this is how the world should work.

 

THE BEST THING I BOUGHT

This week we’re exploring all the best things and so far we’ve done THE BEST THING I READ and THE BEST THING I HEARD and today we’re doing THE BEST THING I BOUGHT, which is sort of hard because I don’t get out much but there are a few things I’ve been super happy to find so I’m sharing them here.

  1.  This sweater, which is made of baby polar bears, I think?  It’s so soft it’s insane and I’ve had it for two years and it’s still awesome.  In fact, I bought one for my mom and my granny last year for Xmas because it’s my favorite article of clothing.
  2. Eshakti, which is a clothing website where you can customize the clothes to fit you AND ALL OF THEIR DRESSES HAVE POCKETS.  If you’ve ever seen me in real life and complimented what I was wearing I guarantee you I said, “AND IT HAS POCKETS!” and I bought it from here.Here’ s a  secret tip:  Their crepe, georgette and duponi fabrics are cat fur resistant and fairly wrinkle-proof.  The other fabrics, not as much.
  3. The perfect Christmas tree topper which just arrived minutes ago:

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DON’T BLINK.

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It’s awesome but I didn’t hook it onto the tree right the first time and when I was getting off the step-ladder it fell and hit me right in the ear.  It’s more firmly attached now but maybe be aware that it’s bloodthirsty.

Now, your turn!  What’s something awesome you are so glad to have bought?

PS. I don’t get paid for any of these but I did use my amazon links for two of them because The James Garfield Christmas Miracle is coming up in a week or two and I always use all my affiliate profits to help kids have a happy holiday.  More on that next month.

THE BEST THING I READ

It’s DAY TWO of our Week of Wonderful Things so today let’s share the best things you read lately.

I’ve been reading Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers and the FBI and it is so good but it gives me nightmares if I read it too close to bed so I’m breaking it up by rereading Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal because it seems seasonal and also it’s one of the wittiest books ever written and I’m incredibly jealous I didn’t write it myself.

I just finished American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures and it was fantastic, but sometimes (not surprisingly) difficult.  But it’s important and I highly recommend it.

Or if your brain is too crowded for anything more than a minute I suggest reading this wonderful moment shared by the amazing Naomi Shihab Nye:  (Taken from Facebook)

Your turn.  What’s something wonderful you’ve read that you want to share?

A WEEK OF GREAT THINGS BECAUSE WE NEED IT

Was last week hard for you?  It was for me which is why I was a little MIA but instead of complaining about it (much) I want to focus on a week of awesomeness, but to do that I need your help.

I want to explore some of the great things that bring us joy and wonder so each day we’re going to have a different topic and share the awesome stuff you love.

Today is THE BEST THING I HEARD LATELY.

So the best music you’re listening to or a new podcast you discovered or a funny joke someone told you…whatever wonderful thing you heard that you want other people to enjoy.

I’ll go first with a podcast that makes me very happy because it’s quite funny and distracting AND there are hundreds of episodes so I won’t burn through them in a week like I do with everything else.  It’s called Hello from the Magic Tavern and it’s an improv podcast about a guy who got sucked through a portal behind the Burger King and got stuck in a magical dimension.  It’s not quite as good as my favorite improv podcast, Mission to Zyxx, but it’s close and there are a ton of them.

YOUR TURN!  What wonderful thing have you heard that we should hear too?

PS.  This isn’t new but it’s on repeat in my house because I’m working on my next book and I’m knee-deep in vampires and this song keeps them away. Sharing in case you need it too.

PPS.  At the end of the week I’ll randomly pick a few people who have commented suggestions and send them gift cards that they can use to try some wonderful things that you guys might share through the week.  Whoop!