What I love most about Maria’s drawing technique is the balance she strikes between stylistic interpretation and realistic detail. Her innate sense of what’s too little and what’s too much resonates with me, it always has, which is why I’m so excited to be partnering with her in this way. Like me, she’s learning as she goes (or, as my partner Michael would say, she’s building the plane while flying it). Maria’s making great progress, and her illustrations look fantastic! For those of you who missed Maria’s introduction in my last update, you can catch the video here.
I’ll be receiving my editor’s comments on May 3, which basically makes me this owl, right now, and for every second until then.
(Photo credit: Naldz Graphics)
(Very exciting. Blink blink. I might puke I’m so nervous.)
Also exciting, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid Kitchener a visit yesterday. The folks at Vidyard hosted him. They took him on a tour of the office and chatted about many things.
I had the pleasure of tuning in to watch the livestream of the chat, which was fantastic (full recording here: http://demos.vidyard.com/watch/7VRMFw6CbkSfmFfPTsaaRH).
To everyone who pitched in to make yesterday seem so dreamy from the stands: Congratulations on doing an incredible job of hosting our country’s leader. Thank you for making such a lasting and positive impression. I’m proud to be part of a community where members push themselves to be compassionate and thoughtful, take risks, and behave transparently.
End of news.
You can probably surmise that the phrase ’Your book is in the mail’ is my dearest haunt. I can’t wait for the moment when I get to call you up (email or text, more likely) and say those words. So I thank you for your continued patience and understanding. Most of all, I want to thank you for reading!
Now for some fun bits... ;)
Maria’s creative process has been fascinating to observe. I mentioned how, like me, she’s figuring things out as she goes. Maria’s had to stretch her limits to overcome challenges, and in doing so, has developed her own techniques (read: hacked solutions together and I love it).
It’s my pleasure to be sharing with you some of her midstream work.
I hope you’re tantalized by these small flashes. Stay tuned for more detail in updates to come!
Dear hallowed Reader:
Since I was last in touch I’ve been up to lots of things, but none that seemed worthy of an isolated update. So here’s a quick bulleted version to bring you up to speed:
Looking forward, what I’m most excited about are ILLUSTRATIONS. I LOVE THEM! It’s been an eye-opening and magical experience to watch Maria derive meaning from words, and then channel that into her own visual art form.
Most of all, I’m excited about Maria, the woman behind the illustrations. It’s with all the enthusiasm and exclamation marks in the world that I introduce her to you in video format (https://youtu.be/h6bv19i_7k4).
When I kicked off this project I spoke about why I think a diverse set of skills amongst creators can foster much-needed compassion. That’s why I’m so excited about Maria. She’s a professional accountant, not someone who would have self-identified as an artist, much less an illustrator, before this. But now she’s just as excited as I am to be working on a creative project that will one day make a meaningful impact. (See what Community Edition and Communitech have to say about it.)
On the topic of TIMING, the TL;DR is that it probably won’t be until mid or late 2018 that you get your copy of Where the Sun Sets, or at the very latest, by next century.
(LOOONG VERSION: Timing is where things get a little weird. Shortly after hitting 250 pre-orders I inquired about whether a campaign extension was possible. In response, my campaign was extended! An extension means the possibility of receiving full publishing services is still on the table. But, I haven’t been doing much to sell those units (and I feel as though I’m squandering an opportunity). (But enough of that.) To distill it, an extension means that I’m still in funding mode, and that my timeline has been pushed out by three months. The revised funding period ends on April 10, 2017. After April 10, I’ll submit the manuscript to Inkshares. When it makes it to the top of their long list of books to look at, they’ll inform me of next steps. That’s when I can provide you with more concrete details. That said, I suspect timelines will be fuzzy for a long time. It probably won’t be until mid or late 2018 that you get your copy, or at the very latest, by the next century.)
I can’t emphasize enough just how grateful I am for your patience. Thank you for your phenomenal support. I hope you take the time to watch the video to learn more about Maria (https://youtu.be/h6bv19i_7k4), and I welcome your questions and comments.
EPILOGUE (for all you below-the-folders)
Here’s what I really wanted to share with you all.
I think of International Women’s Day (IWD) as Swift Kick in the Ass Day (SKAD). I think SKAD could catch on, because we all need a good swift kick in the ass sometimes. Mine came last night from a diminutive woman (in stature only, let me assure you) wearing glittery gold sneakers and pants with elastic ankles, whose name conveniently rhymes with Butt.
Dr. Sam Nutt, the sulky pants kicker (also voted a Kickass Canadian by Amanda Sage in 2014), or Dr. Sam, as she prefers to be called, has spent the past two decades fighting for world peace. Literally. The woman’s come under gun fire countless times, and she’s picked a gnarly fight with the behemoth global arms industry. Even before reading Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath, I would have put my money on her. She’s a disruptive humanitarian, the founder of War Child Canada and War Child USA, and she serves as the mouthpiece for our world’s most easily forgotten members. If you’ve never heard of this tough Nutt, you should stop reading immediately, and go find out where you can get your very own swiftly delivered butt kick from Dr. Sam Nutt.
Thank you Innovation Guelph for getting Dr. Sam to come speak on International Women’s Day. Thank you mom for making sure I got to hear her speak. And thank you Dr. Sam for telling me (without telling me) to get my ass in gear, and give ya’ll a much-needed update.
Weeks ago I made a promise. I told you that I would explain what hitting 250 pre-orders meant. I never intended for so much time to lapse between then and now. Thank you for being so patient. Most of all, thank you for not punishing me by taking your book order back. You may laugh, or groan, but that particular fear has denied me many hours of sleep, I swear.
It’s high time that I make good on my promise. Now that I’ve obtained that magic number of pre-orders, Inkshares will publish Where the Sun Sets as part of their Quill Imprint. Books belonging to this collection receive light editing, limited distribution (including physical and digital on Amazon), and fulfillment of copies to backers. In short, hitting 250 was like flicking a switch. At that moment what went from “You might get this book,” transformed into, “You will get this book.”
Since that day something else more marvellous has come to pass. My big dream has grown a bit bigger. It has grown to include the dreams of another. I’m over-the-moon-so-freakin’-happy to be sharing with you that Maria Laguna-Valenzuela, the artist responsible for the whimsical and wonderful seeding bloom that graces the cover of Where the Sun Sets, has agreed to partner with me as an illustrator! Over the next three months Maria will bring to life the enduring love and magic of the Gibbons’ world in ways I never expected. Furthermore, Maria is just as excited as I am to be creating with the goal to support other creators. What an outcome! I couldn’t be any happier.
This partnership means that it will take three months longer for the book to get into production. Production won’t begin until April at the earliest. This prolonged timeframe means that I have another opportunity to try and gain enough pre-orders to receive full publishing services from Inkshares. But most of all, this partnership means that when you do finally get your copy of Where the Sun Sets, it will be that much richer in content and imagination.
You’ve given me the opportunity. Now it’s up to me to not squander it. I’m tickled pink (and honoured as all hell) that Maria has chosen to help me make this story that much more special by throwing her creative weight behind it too. (I’ve elaborated more on this and other things here on my blog.)
Finally, when I kicked this whole thing off I had it in my head that publishing under two names was a good idea that would ultimately benefit future philanthropic initiatives. I’ve since realized that the distinction is arbitrary, and will be publishing all titles under Donna Litt. Rest assured, all author proceeds resulting from the publication of Where the Sun Sets are still dedicated to supporting creators in the Kitchener-Waterloo community.
I think that’s it! Please hit me back with any questions. Thank you Maria, and thank you all for your generous and kind support.
DonnaPS - Happy 2017 from the desk of Bill Watterson, comic available here.
I hit 250 pre-orders for Where the Sun Sets.
Like Alonso I can barely believe it, but I’m going to drink champagne anyway.
Over the next little while I’ll share with you what this means moving forward, but what it means right now is that thanks to you, right now, everything looks pink and perfect. I love Mondays and Tuesdays as much as Fridays and Saturdays. I don’t mind the cold. Shovelling snow is the best time ever. Cleaning the house sounds fun. Dirty dishes are my friends. I love it when Evan, my nephew, coughs and then sticks his finger in my mouth.
I’m humbled by everyone’s show of support. This book is as much all of you as it is me. I’ll never be able to say it enough: Thank you!
More accurately, it’s desiiigggnnnnedddd! A huge congratulations and thank you goes out to Maria Laguna-Valenzuela for putting her energy behind this project and coming up with such a mega cover. I, for one, like the book so much more now! (Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a fan, but now it’s got a certain je ne sais quoi about it, you know?) Maria was inspired to help me create even more meaning behind this story, and I’m honoured to be partnering with her in this way. Thank you, Maria.
From my last update you already know how blown away I was by all the submissions and support I received, and that hasn’t changed. Still blown away, still happier than a pig in... ahem. Thank you to all who helped make this happen.
You can’t see me, but I’m dancing right now. Exactly like this guy.
Just over 20 days left to my first goal of 250 pre-orders, and because of all you folks, I’m only SIXTEEN units away! Pretty unbelievable. Thank you for reading and continuing to believe in this project.
PS. In case you missed it, the dandelion on the cover depicts Vole and Bay, Vole being the yellow petals and Bay the fluffy flower. Vole is giving up his last 25 years of life depicted by the falling petals, and the fluffy seeds are Bay’s wishes getting fulfilled. These seeds travel and can land wherever the sun sets, or in this case, on one of Bay’s wish list of places.
It’s been 9 days since I sent my last update, and a lot has happened since then. Remember Nico Rosberg, the F1 driver who trounced Lewis Hamilton in the final race of the season?
TOTAL PLOT TWIST! (I called it, by the way.) (Just ask Michael, my husband. He knows that I predict the future.) A new world champion was crowned, he got his cake, and then ate it for all the world to see. Cheers to you, Nico Rosberg. Because I’m eating cake this December, too.
Allow me to explain.
For those of you that don’t already know: I’m sentimental. With pretty much everything. Case in point, I carry a personal museum of baubles and trinkets with me everywhere I go. Peeking out from my closet is a vast collection of drawings and scraps of paper that people gave me in preschool. Preschool. Which makes be a bona fide sentimental hoarder because I’ve moved a gagillion times since preschool. So it shouldn’t come as a shock that my favourite stories are the ones that have some special, hidden meaning.
Where the Sun Sets is one such special story. And a special story needs a special cover. So I decided to launch a contest to find one. I put the book cover contest to my network (not many artists, few professional designers, lots of family that can’t de-friend me) and told myself to be patient. "Draw up a plan, pull the trigger, and trust in the process." Right?
For the past few weeks I’ve been biting my nails, wondering if what I did was the right thing. I am trying to create a product that needs to sell, after all. Worries haunted. What if no one submits a thing? What if I detest them all? (I was more concerned with the first looming question because I’m generally easy to please, and I love a funny story.)
The submission period closed on Sunday, December 4. I got 19 submissions, and I love them all! (In fact, I love some them so much that I suspect I’ll soon have dreams of eating cake off of them.) More importantly, knowing that the cover of Where the Sun Sets has been crafted by someone special to me is a huge relief. It’s an incredible feeling. And the reasons each of the entrants shared about why they entered are equally touching.
So now it’s Show Time. Literally. I’m showing them to you, and asking that you help me select the one that best fits Where the Sun Sets. Because, frankly speaking, if it were left up to me, I’d choose them all. Which just isn’t practical.
You can view the entries and pick one here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3LXR6CC I believe you’ll find them all to be unique and delightful in their own way.
See what I mean?
The voting period ends this Sunday, and I can’t wait to reveal the final cover. That said, the cover will only make it onto a book if I hit my pre-order target.
I’m at 180 as I type this, which means I’m 70 pre-orders short!
You’re receiving this update because you’ve already put yourself out there for me, and I thank you for it. But I’m not quite there yet. So I ask that you please continue to send me well wishes, and consider recommending or sharing my story with those people you think would find it meaningful. I know it’s a lot to ask (and to keep asking) but every little bit helps and I won’t get there without you.
Thank you for your consideration. Thank you for your time. And thank you for your continued support.
Donna(I want to use #ALLTHEBOOKCOVERS!!!)
When challenged for his use of questionable racing tactics, three times world F1 champion Lewis Hamilton said, “I had to help myself, because no one else was going to help me.” A gritty sentiment from a gritty competitor.
Photocred: Sky Sports (Lewis, on the right, reminds me of how grateful I am that us writers aren’t forced to shout slam poetry to the death in order to get published.)
The extreme self-motivation and tenacity demonstrated by these athletes is undeniably tremendous, whether you’re a racing fan or not. They’re inspirational. To other drivers, athletes, and yes, even fiction writers.
It’s difficult to stay motivated. It’s hard to keep going. Each of us who are in this together, know exactly what I mean. But when I see champions like Nico Rosberg —the man on the right who trounced Hamilton in spite of his questionable tactics— single-mindedly chase down his dream over decades, I’m reminded that only by overcoming adversity, over and over, can I make it to the other side. The world needs people to persevere, and champions like Nico provide motivation so that we may.
I will never claim to be in the same league as a world champion like Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, or Jensen Button —to name but a few contemporary F1 bigwigs— but each and every morning that I wake, still in it to win it, I know I get a little closer to the other side.
I’m proud to be at 60% of my Quill goal —I still need just over 100 pre-orders to meet it— and I’m unspeakably grateful for the amazing show of support I’ve received from the people in my life thus far. Most of all, I’m overwhelmingly daunted to know that there are hundreds more people I need to touch with my story, to achieve my publishing goal.
But if this journey were an easy one, I wouldn’t be given the opportunity to know what it’s like to persevere (said every masochist, ever).
All that said, I’d be lying through my teeth if I didn’t say that every little bit counts.
If you’ve been thinking about reading my first chapter (https://www.inkshares.com/books/where-the-sun-sets/book_segments/the-last-welcome), sharing an awesome and heartfelt story by a debut author with a friend, or even thinking of placing a pre-order and just haven’t gotten to it yet, now’s a great time revisit the notion!
I have just over a month left to reach my pre-order goal. When I hit it, it will be because of you.
PS - I have a new video! Check it out here: https://youtu.be/ozTWldcFDNE I’d love to hear what you think!
Have a great evening & thank you for reading.
You know the phrase, ’Don’t judge a book by its cover’? Well, Where the Sun Sets doesn’t have a cover. Which begs the question, ’If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?’ (You’ll have to read Where the Sun Sets to discover the answer, or rather, Vole’s answer.)
There are lots of ways to go about getting a book cover. But my hope is that this one comes from someone that it means something to. Someone who loves the idea of seeing their artwork, or the artwork of someone they know, on the cover of a fiction novel about a poignant love in a time-stopped world.
So, I’m running a contest!
If the idea of contributing to book fabrication fascinates you, or someone you know, I invite you to take a look: https://www.facebook.com/Wherethesunsets/
I promise, it’s a simple contest.
1) Enter your image2) When the submission period closes (Sunday December 4), the internet will vote up a winner!
1) $150 Donation to Diyode, to go toward helping reduce waste while setting up a sustainable recycling business in Jacmel, Haiti*, made in your name.
2) $150 Gift for your support and participation. Delivered in cash, or credit for Words Worth Books (your choice).
3) Your art on the cover of Where the Sun Sets, sold through Inkshares.com! And (if enough pre-orders are made!) the possibility of having your art grace the cover of Where the Sun Sets, sold around the world (Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, independent book stores).
Additional detail posted to Facebook, but if you would like more information or to chat about details, please don’t hesitate to ask.
I invite you to share my contact information with anyone that you think might be interested in participating! With just under 2 months left, I’m almost at 50% of my Quill goal (250 pre-orders), and any bit of love helps :)
Thank you for reading, & thank you for your continued support.
Hello folks!Simon is building simple machinery that takes used plastic, a precious resource mined from mountains of refuse, and turns it into priceless building material; and he’s taking his machinery with him to Haiti to help locals set up sustainable recycling businesses.Simon is an ex-colleague of mine who was gracious enough to give me permission to share his story, here: https://medium.com/@DonnaMLitt/meet-your-maker-simon-clark-c471b75e2c69#.x4scm9v7o
Since launching this crazy harebrained thing, I’ve been thrashing about, trying to find my way forward. I’ve met with Makers and tech workers, artists and friends. People who I believe understand the spirit of curiosity, where the best of the arts and sciences overlap in innovation, that I want to use my craft (writing) to help preserve. People who, like me, are invested in seeing this spirit scale as our community rapidly grows so that we don’t dilute out that special part of our DNA.
By sharing Simon’s story and following his journey, my hope is to demonstrate just how powerful this spirit of curiosity is, and why it’s so important to preserve and grow.