What Fates Impose Kickstarter Update (or Me Write Pretty One Day…)

TL;DR version: We’re heading into our final week of our Kickstarter for the anthology I’m in, What Fates Impose, and wow! We just cracked $4000. ONLY 6 MORE DAYS TO GO!!!! Pledge $40 and you will get, along with the book, a handwritten card by me with the personality type of your choice (either Myers/Briggs or StrengthFinders) its description and a humorous fortune written in calligraphy.

Edit: And we have made our goal! And then some!

But if you want to read the long version, I’m going to talk about calligraphy. And by that I mean, what I really want to say is, I want to thank my parents for forcing me to take drafting in high school.

You see, back when I was in high school, when it came time to choose electives, I was all ready and gung ho to take art, because everyone took art. It was fun. My father, for reasons I have yet to figure out, made me take drafting instead. I wish I remembered why. Something to do with my handwriting, I think. Or was it supposed to build character? I asked him the other day and he said, “Hell if I know.” Which was the answer I pretty much expected from him.

But there I was. A sophomore? Yeah, I think it was my sophomore year. I think I was only one of three girls in the class. I remember getting drafting kits, which involves a T-Bar ruler, a bunch of other rulers, a specific type of pencil, and graph paper. And I remember being very, very disgruntled, because while my friends were making fingerpaint murals and macaroni art and pottery, I was drawing lines and measuring  them and drawing more lines and learning how to make capital letters as straight as possible.

I can’t remember what grade I got, but I’m pretty sure I passed it. You ask me what I learned there and I wouldn’t be able to tell you offhand, except that maybe my handwriting got better. Maybe.

I hated drafting class.

Which is interesting because I love calligraphy.

I’ve been fascinated by calligraphy ever since I was a kid. I got several Sheaffer kits for Christmas, you know, the fountain pen kind that came with different types of nibs and different colored ink tubes, and you put the tubes in the barrel and twist the nib on to pierce the tube? And if you wanted to change colors, you were screwed because it meant pulling out the tube carefully so you won’t spill the ink out, then washing out the nib, which took forever, and then screw the new color in, then you had to do the same thing over again so you could go back to the regular color? Yeah, I loved those pens.

I did lots of calligraphy for a while. Mainly, I wrote poems, practiced the alphabet, and did flourishes on envelopes. Probably the highlight of my calligraphy use was when I hand addressed all the envelopes I sent out for my wedding. I was always insecure about my calligraphy, though, because I’ve never had a real steady hand. I couldn’t write in a straight line and my spacing was over the place. Over time, I stopped doing it, but I kept collecting calligraphy supplies in the vain hope that one day, I would pick it up again.

That day came about a month ago, when Nayad, our editor for What Fates Impose was brainstorming on what we could offer as rewards for backers of the anthology. I thought I’d offer a handmade knitted scarf, but I wanted to do something based off my story in the anthology, which deals with the subject of personality assessment. And I thought, “I can write cards that show Myers/Briggs personality types and a a brief description. I can also throw in a short humorous fortune in the end. And I can do it all in calligraphy.”

So I went to my closet and pulled out my calligraphy tools. Since my wedding, I have amassed quite a bit, including a bunch of dipping nibs that I had no clue how to use—I just thought they looked cool. But this now being the age of the internets, I thought it was high time I learned how to use these old-fangled thingies.

And when I learned, I was like WHY AM I KEEPING THESE AT THE BOTTOM OF MY CLOSET? THESE ARE AWESOME!!!!!

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Also, ink, because INNNNNNNK!!!!

So then, I made my first mock up, and I grew immediately discouraged because to me, it didn’t come out right.

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The lines were kind of crooked and the spacing was off and…

And that’s when all those lessons I took in high school drafting reared up inside me and said. LaShawn, you need to put down some lines and do some measurements. Get some rulers, girl.

And I said, Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

So I got me some rulers, put down some lines, did some measurements, and came up with my second draft, if you will.

Calligraphy sample

Which…actually…still looks lopsided, now that I look at it. Particularly the flourish line. And the personality type still looks shaky (in fact, the first draft, the letters look more stable). But I’m happier about the description. And as I keep practicing, it would get nicer and nicer.

All of this is to say, if you wish to get in on my calligraphy journey, there are two backer rewards left for my calligraphy cards. Pledge $40 and you will get, along with the book, a handwritten card by me with the personality type of your choice (either Myers/Briggs or StrengthFinders) its description and a humorous fortune written in calligraphy. It won’t be super perfect, but I can guarantee it will be authentic.

Oh yes. I want to thank my parents. If it wasn’t for me being forced to take drafting, these calligraphy supplies would still be sitting at the bottom of my closet. Never being used. Collecting dust until, in shame, I sell them to the next poor sop at a garage sale. And I would have never discovered the joy of dipping a nib into ink, shaking the excess off, then sketching the letters into paper just so.

This has brought back the joy of writing.

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New Story in “What Fates Impose” Anthology! Kickstarter Details and Prizes!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m doing my part to bring more diversity to the SFF genre. And what better way to do that than a new story!

I am excited to announce my short story, “There Are No Wrong Answers”, will be appearing in the What Fates Impose anthology, edited by my fellow Madisonianite Nayad Monroe.

Fortune-telling is a tricky endeavor. It’s the domain of an assortment of characters with various motives: charlatans looking to make a buck, true believers who may or may not have the gift, and powerful oracles who might be inclined to spin the truth for their own reasons. Which prophecies are true? Which are false? The powers of belief and wishful thinking drive the quest for a glimpse of the future–but is it a true vision? Whether the message comes from Tarot cards, tea leaves, entrails, or in my case, personality assessment, how are lives changed when predictions are made?

Nayad has gathered some awesome storytellers to peer into nature of fate. Here’s the full list of contributors:

Introduction by Alasdair Stuart: “Singing from the Book of Holy Jagger”

David Boop: “Dipping into the Pocket of Destiny”

Maurice Broaddus: “Read Me Up”

Jennifer Brozek: “A Card Given”

Amanda C. Davis: “The Scry Mirror”

Damien Walters Grintalis: “When the Lady Speaks”

Sarah Hans: “Charms”

Erika Holt: “Murder of Crows”

Keffy R.M. Kehrli: “Gazing into the Carnauba Wax Eyes of the Future”

Jamie Lackey: “Another Will Open”

Rochita Loenen-Ruiz: “Body of Truth”

Remy Nakamura: “Pick a Card”

Cat Rambo: “To Read the Sea”

Andrew Penn Romine: “Ain’t Much Different’n Rabbits”

Ken Scholes: “All Our Tangled Dreams in Disarray”

Lucy A. Snyder: “Abandonment Option”

Ferrett Steinmetz: “Black Swan Oracle”

Eric James Stone: “A Crash Course in Fate” (new) and “A Great Destiny” (reprint)

Tim Waggoner: “The Goggen”

Wendy N. Wagner: “Power Steering”

LaShawn M. Wanak: “There Are No Wrong Answers”

Beth Wodzinski: “One Tiny Misstep (In Bed)”

This anthology is being crowd-funded through Kickstarter. If it gets funded, we’ll get paid pro rates, and if goes beyond the funded goal, there’ll be more stories and artwork.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

Check out the backer’s rewards. Look on down to the $40 level, which is the Palmistry and Calligraphy level. That’s right, you’ll get a little somethin’ somethin’ from me! Pledge $40 or more and I’ll write up a 4 X 6 card from with your Myers/Briggs personality trait and its description in calligraphy. A picture sample is forthcoming.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S EVEN MORE!!!

If you pre-order the anthology before this Thursday, June 20, you will be eligible for a drawing to win prizes: artwork of tarot cards done by Nayad, a signed print of the anthology’s cover, a copy of the book with all our signatures. And as the Kickstarter meets its milestones, there will be even more prizes!

So go check out the Kickstarter, reserve your copy,  and spread the word! Every bit helps. All the answers you seek can be found within this anthology. And if it’s not the answer you’re looking for, well, at least you get some darn good stories.

Tell people about What Fates Impose on Twitter
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Edit: WE HAVE MADE OUR GOAL! Thanks to everyone who contributed! More details on the book will be out soon.

Project Calendar Update: Fundraising (sadly, it won’t involve Kickstarter)

A couple of weeks ago, I made the announcement that I will be putting together a Story Calendar ebook to raise funds towards my trip to Viable Paradise in October. After that announcement, I went on vacation, where I came down with a nasty cold and spent most of my time sleeping, eating, occasionally swimming, and reading. Lots and lots of reading.

Mainly, I was trying to figure out how exactly I was going to pull this off.

A lot of writers friends suggested Kickstarter, so I took a look into it. Kickstarter appears to be a great place if you want to raise funds for a project. You put in a proposal, get it approved, and you get your own page where you promote your project. Many successful ones offer varying levels of incentives to donate: if you donate 5 bucks, for instance, you get an ebook, but if you donate 20 bucks, you get an ebook plus a printed copy of the book, and so on. Many authors have put book projects up on Kickstarter and gotten their projects funded–some going above and beyond their original goal. (btw, if you want to learn more about Kickstarter, I suggest listening to Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing Show #212, in which she talks about her Kickstarter experience.)

I studied the projects and I thought, yeah, I can see myself doing this. The key thing is incentives. How can I pull in people through incentives. You can’t just have an ebook. You need to get their attention, plus, you have to come up with incentives that people want.

So I started brainstorming. The successful projects had print copies as well as ebooks, so I added that. Then I thought, no, wait, this is a story calendar, right? What if I got actual calendars? First level, ebook, second level, a calendar, third level, a print book, and hey, let’s put my calligraphy skills to work and make the fourth level a handwritten copy of any poem or story set in the donor’s birthmonth…

I brainstormed, and I planned and I made notes. And then I did research into how much all this would cost.

Whoa.

I had figured I would need to raise about $1000 for my VP costs. To do this project on Kickstarter, I would have to factor in cost of calendars, print copies, paper for calligraphy, calligraphy ink (because I’m all out). Shipping for all that stuff here. Envelopes. Postage for mailing all that stuff out. Plus, factoring in Kickstarter and Amazon fees, and, that could easily kick up what I need to $5000.  Plus, there’s the time to factor in to get all of this done, making a video for the Kickstarter page (everyone suggest making a video) stuffing envelopes, ordering the print copies, making sure they all get in on time, doing the calligraphy, etc, and so forth. This would take several months of my time.

All this just to raise $1000 for one week in October.

Yesterday, it all came to a head when I realized I was seriously stressing out over it and I hadn’t even started working on the ebook yet, something that I have never done before.

Looking at the ebook projects at Kickstarter, the successful ones always offered print copies as well as ebook, or at least promised print copies. So if I just sold the Story Calendar just as an ebook there, chances are, it wouldn’t do so well, and I won’t get anything, because Kickstarter won’t give you the funds if you don’t meet your goal. If, however, I put all my creative energy into just making the ebook, put it up here, at the Café, as a limited-edition ebook, and if 67 people bought it at $15 each, I would reach my goal. That’s it. All I need to do is get the word out through Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus. 67 People.

So, as much as I hate to say it, I don’t think I’ll be using Kickstarter. Not this time, anyway. At this stage, I just don’t think I’m ready, nor do I feel I’ll have a worthy enough project to sell. The story calendar idea is great, but I have yet to figure out how to format it, and if that hinges on selling, then I’d rather put my energy into learning how to make an ebook than splitting it between an ebook, a calendar, and a print book. Baby steps first. My goal is to make it the best, awesomest story calendar you, dear reader, will ever spend $15 on.

And I’m not completely writing off Kickstarter. I’m actually pretty proud of the incentives I came up for the story calendar, and I do still want to do it. Just not now. If the ebook sells well here, then I want to try it next year, when I’m not so pressured for money and time. By then, the funds I’ll ask for will go towards making the story calendar, not fundraising for something else, and I’ll have enough experience  to do it right.

Now, if you excuse me, I need to get to working on the stories of the Story Calendar. Finally!

LaShawn’s Super Secret Funding Project Revealed: A Calendar of Tales COMING SOON!

So a couple of posts ago, I mentioned I had been accepted into Viable Paradise this October. Since then, I’ve been tossing around ideas on how exactly I would pay to get myself there. I took the first step today by increasing my hours at my day job so that I’m now full-time (temporarily), but I wanted to do something that appealed to my writer skills as well.

At this year’s Wiscon, I picked up The Honey Month by Amal el-Mohtar, a series of short stories and poems inspired by a sampler gift of 28 jars of honey she received. The book itself is divine–most of the stories are centered around bees, but not the type of bees you’ll find in any old hive. These are stories that are meant to be savored…they are to be read slowly, aloud, but just under your breath, and preferably barefoot.

Reading her book, it got me thinking: what if I could do something like that?  I’ve been wanting to do a special project for a long time now where I write a series of stories/poetry that have a common theme. I wanted to emulate The Honey Month’s format (emulation being the best form of flattery, I hope), but unfortunately, I don’t have twenty-eight jars of honey at my disposal. But what I do have is co-workers–Co-workers who love to take pictures.

So here’s the plan: I’ve chosen 12 photos from what my gracious co-workers at InterVarsity have sent in. I will create a "Calendar of Tales", flash stories and poetry set in each month and based on a photo. It will start off as an ebook, but I’m looking into finding a way to get it into print as an actual calendar of some sort, or at least a published book. I’m also looking into Kickstarter to see if I can offer more incentives: i.e. handwritten thank yous, handwritten calligraphy copies of the stories/poems, appearance as a character, that sort of thing.

As you can tell, self-publishing is a whole new venture for me. I’ll have to come up with 12 original stories, put them in ebook format, put together the incentives, figure out costs, work on promotion, etc, what have you. But let me tell you, I’m excited about this project. Yesterday, I wrote the first story: "Fat Elvis and Lemon Lover" (pictures taken by my friend Matt Rust) and when I finished, I sat back and thought, dang, this is going to be FUN!

Fat ElvisLemon Lover

So tell your family, tell your friends and keep watching the Café. I got a lot of work to do, but trust me, it will be worth it!