This is just a quick, last post to say that this site is moving to shanspykerauthor.com where we have some exciting things planned. This site will remain up a while longer, but all new posts will be made on the new site going forward. Eventually this site url will be redirected, so update your links now!
Updated: Campaign is now at 84% ! Thank you all for your enthusiastic support and for making this project sing! At the moment The Way of the River is trending at #16 of 9,400+ in the children’s book category on Kickstarter!!
Book interior design has begun! I’m just beginning to test out a few layout ideas and choosing typefaces. Funding is currently at 75% with only $777 left to go to reach goal! Funds will only be released if 100% is reached so I am working hard to get the word out before the January 16th deadline.
If you know anyone who might be interested or who has a young reader in their life that would appreciate a fantasy/adventure novel (approx 350 pages), please feel free to share the project link. Your help is appreciated so very much!
It’s almost here! In just over 24 hours the Kickstarter campaign will be launching! While the book is scheduled for release in April 2021, the Kickstarter will include a special add on reward that will make it possible to give The Way of the River as a holiday gift! The add on is unlocked for early backers when pledges (at any level) are made within the first two weeks of the campaign launch. I’m really excited to be able to announce this addition, for, in order to be able to offer an add on reward, The Way of the River project had to undergo review by Kickstarter and be accepted as a beta tester for this new feature!
Curious how it works? The early backer add on is an optional upgrade which provides backers with a gift announcement card (choice of a digital format, or a physical, printed announcement card) that can be given to recipients over the holidays letting them know of their forthcoming gift. In addition, to make the gift very special, the names of both the backer and the gift recipient will be included in a special thank you section for early backers within the book!
This add on is only available through December 12th for the printed gift acknowledgement (available to US residents only due to shipping time constraints…these will be sent via Priority Mail upon the competition of a pledge transaction with this add on), and December 18th for digital gift acknowledgements (available world wide, and will be delivered via email to the backer upon completion of a pledge transaction with this add on).
If you’re looking for something unique to gift this holiday season to the reader in your life who loves tween fantasy adventure stories, The Way of the River Early Backer Add On might be just the ticket!
The Way of the River Kickstarter launches December 4, 2020 at 12 midnight EST and runs through January 16, 2021
HEADS UP! A special Early Backer perk will be available to anyone who pledges support between December 4 and December 12 at any level!! To unlock that option, pledge your support within that time frame and the Add On will be made available to you!
This perk is the perfect option for anyone wishing to gift a copy of The Way of the River to the young reader in your life, or for yourself! While the book will not be printed until Spring of 2021, this option will provide a gift card option you can give away for the holidays to let your gift recipient know of their gift, and the important role they are playing as an early backer! An extra special perk will also be given with this add on backer perk…check it out on the Kickstarter page when it launches!
I am excited to finally be able to share the working title of the manuscript! No monkeying around I’m going to get right to it.
Book One of the Henry & the Legend of Kellandale Wood series will be titled The Way of the River. This is a tween/upper middle grade story, a fantasy/adventure set in 1904.
More tidbits, including character profiles, excerpts and artwork will be shared in the weeks to come! If you wish to stay in the loop on the forthcoming Kickstarter project, you can sign up on the email list on the home page, and if you wish to receive blog post alerts, sign up for the wordpress updates (in the footer of this site). Or you can do both!
Henry & The Legend of Kellandale Wood
It’s been a long minute since my last update, so I thought I would come out from under my little book writing rock to bring everyone up to speed finally. In the last post I was at a crossroads, debating whether to work toward finding an agent to go the traditional publishing route, or to self-publish. After a LOT of thinking, it finally occurred to me that when it came down to it, there is only one answer that feels true to myself, and that is to self-publish.
Why? Because if I seek traditional publishing, so many of the creative processes that would be required for self-publishing, would very likely be taken away–book layout, illustration being the two biggest. I am an artist first and foremost and when viewed as an art project with words, well then, I’m all in! So. At the moment the manuscript is with my editor who is halfway through in the first pass. As she works on that, I am working back into the first half making minor tweaks. I have my son, an illustrator, working on illustrations for me and I am so excited to be able to share those soon. My next step will be to post an excerpt of the manuscript with the first illustrations and a passage. From there, attention will be turned to a kickstarter campaign for a printed edition. After that, the goal will be to produce as an ebook.
In a nutshell, tween (read upper middle grade), fantasy/adventure, self published on its way.
So that is the short of it…next post will be much sooner than this one is. If you’d like to sign up for email updates I will be adding that here on this page soon, too! Thanks for listening!
Want a quick peek at what makes my mind tick? Pictured here are just a few of the many influences on not just my world view, but also that have helped shape and inform the 100,000-some words that I have assembled to write my story. This list is but a scratch on the surface, and only touches on a few (though very important) literary works that just happened to be close at hand and willing to pose for a group photo. Not pictured are the many other albums, musicians, poets, activists, comedians, artists, scientists, family members, life experiences, philosophers, and philosophies that infuse my thoughts and motivate my creative endeavors.
Sometimes taking a giant step doesn’t have to be astronomical in scale. Often it’s just doing something to set yourself in the right direction.
For me, that was attending a writers workshop with my mother this past weekend. Over the years she has taken many writing classes and through them formed her own circle of writers that share and help edit each other’s works. She, too, has been working on her own manuscript, and we figured it would provide inspiration to us both as well as give us an excuse to spend a day together.
We made the short trek into downtown Cleveland, Ohio on a thundery, hot Saturday morning and took our seats at the 2019 Cleveland Writing Workshop held at the Marriott at Key Center. This was my first ever writing workshop and my first moment taking a story that has been known only to family and those in my personal orbit, and taking steps to give it a place in the real world.
For the next 8 hours I sat happily amongst fellow writers as we learned from agents and editors. I felt nothing but inspiration pour over me as I listened. All of the presenters were engaging, helpful, personable and compassionate. Not only did I feel connected to the writing community for the very first time, I was quickly shown how open and caring it is.
I entered the workshop jumping into the unknown. While there I made contact with an agent, a wonderful agent that I am thrilled to have met. I learned craft from seasoned, published writers, and I gleaned insight into how agents approach a pitched story and their thought processes as they assess. I saw brave writers as they allowed bits of their works be presented to a full audience and be critiqued publicly with grace.
I thank the organizers, presenters and fellow writers, who together as a whole, made the 2019 Cleveland Writers Workshop an enjoyable, enlightening experience. For any aspiring writers who may be reading, perhaps you feel like you are creating in a vacuum as I had, and wish to take that first big step into the great, exciting unknown to get your creation out for the rest of the world to enjoy. If so, I highly recommend one of the Writing Day Workshops to help find your community.
I have left the conference with a sense of direction and feeling that my manuscript has moved up another level in its evolution, adding another log into my fire, making it burn even brighter and stronger. I now have a clear vision of the steps I need to take to move forward to find my way to the right agent and the right publisher for my book.
Writing and art. Art and writing. Two constants in my life.
Creating some form of newsletter, fanzine, book, or other visual creation has been part of my life since I can remember. I discovered the world of writing and publishing through my passion for music, when at age 14, I created a fanzine dedicated to my then favorite band (it’s not a secret, it was Duran Duran). Within a year’s time I gained over 200 subscribers in the US and Canada after placing an ad in the teen magazine, Bop. Later, the newsletter evolved into yet another music publication, a zine focusing on the alternative music scene of the late 80’s. This was all before computers were widely used and I relied on my typewriter, dry transfer letters, and copy machines to create each issue.
During my college years in the early 1990’s my roommates and I set up a typing table wherein we had three typewriters that took over our dining tables. Here we spent endless midnight hours creating together and with our friends pecking away into the night with our absurd stories and creative exercises. My ‘zine changed course yet again during this time and became a forum for creative writing and art using many of these creations. It was my publishing outlet while I was pursuing my degree in fine art.
Not satisfied with creating publications solely as a hobby, then spilled into my professional life when I fell into the graphic design profession. After graduation I worked in the non profit sector for a humane society in the role of Editor/Graphic Designer, and later joined the staff of a natural history museum where I was provided with many writing opportunities within the Membership and Development Departments. Using Adobe PageMaker, among my other duties within the membership department, I designed and edited a bi-monthly newsletter for the museum’s Adventure Club for Kids, and designed mugs, tote bags and other membership incentives and wrote for the newsletter as well as authored the verbiage for fundraising appeals.
In 2000 I established my own graphic design business, and one of my first clients was a college textbook publishing company based in Los Angeles, California. Initially my role was that of research and support for the company’s web designer, but through the years I eventually helped maintain the company’s website and became the lead contact for their Amazon listings eventually began assisting one of the company’s Production Managers, aiding in production editing and eventually preparing files for the typesetter. I also began working with Adobe InDesign during this period. At the encouragement of the Production Manager, I was urged to pursue more work in the production process in the role of designer.
Meanwhile, my drive to write and create ‘zines and newsletters never ceased. Enter the digital age and the rise of the blog, when I moved my hard copy paper zines into online publications and started the collaborative art project blog Mental Beans in 2009, that, among other art projects, produced a global photography project that has been running continuously for the past 9 years. I also co-created the music zine/travel blog Sisters Dissonance in 2011. My sister took on the main role of photographer and I handled writing and tech duties. Art and writing. Writing and art.
In 2015 I began to funnel some of my creative drive back to a story that began when I was all of 4 years old as a bedtime story told back and forth between my father and I. The story continued on during long car rides when I accompanied him while he was out collecting quarters and fixing machines for his coin operated laundry business. Over time it grew into a series of stories and became part of the mythological fabric in our family. When I had children of my own, these tales were retold, retooled, and reworked when they were small children. They are now both in their late teens, and with input from them as well as my father, my sister, and mother, the story has grown over the decades from a bedtime story for children, into a tale for older children, metamorphosing into a YA novel.
I continue to maintain my graphic design business with a focus on academic journal and book design while I begin the journey of taking this story to the next level. I cannot wait to hold the first copy when it is finally produced into a physical book, and I am looking forward to sharing it with the rest of the world when that happens!