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"The Last American Hitch Hiker    >>>   Tales of Wander"'s video poster
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Aiming my thumb at the stars now! "Funded", but looking for more so I can get MORE BOOKS PRINTED and out to Good Folks of the World! Read more

Terlingua, TX Nonfiction
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Funded!

This project was successfully funded on March 5, 2013.

Aiming my thumb at the stars now! "Funded", but looking for more so I can get MORE BOOKS PRINTED and out to Good Folks of the World!

Terlingua, TX Nonfiction
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About this project

The most challenging step of any adventure, or project, is simply TO BEGIN!  (this and all following illustrations will be in the book)
The most challenging step of any adventure, or project, is simply TO BEGIN! (this and all following illustrations will be in the book)

"I know I'm not really the last hitch-hiker, but it sure feels like it sometimes." Mark Kneeskern

I have been working on this project for about a decade.  Seriously.  My first hitch-hiking experience EVER was almost ten years ago, here in Terlingua, Texas.  That remarkable day, I met the love of my life.  No wonder I kept at it. Every year since then I've been taking a month or two in the late Summer or Fall to go on a "Thumbin' Adventure".  My little pocket journals are a constant companion as I jot down character details, methodology of the hitch, and random thoughts that occur to me while patiently courting the denizens of our complex highway system.  Thus, it has taken ten years to accumulate the material necessary for a full-size non-fiction novel.

We all begin as an egg, loaded with potential.
We all begin as an egg, loaded with potential.

I have almost 100,000 words. I've completed most of the illustrations. I'm sculpting my material into something with rhythm and surprise, to match the experience of thumbing it across these amazing states. Next, I'll make PDFs to send to Englehart Printing in Wimberley, TX.

This page from a road-worn pocket journal will be reproduced in the book, along with a few others.
This page from a road-worn pocket journal will be reproduced in the book, along with a few others.

One of my ambitions for this project is to awaken peoples' appreciation of the basic kindness of their fellow citizens.  I hear all kinds of stories about how people look the other way when they see someone in desperate need.  The experiences I've been writing about demonstrate many instances of good Karma...people who give with no expectation of anything in return but some worthwhile conversation.  There is much humor woven into my stories, as I find so much in this world to laugh about.  I inherited that quality from my Grandma, Cora.  I've also included a realistic dose of the dark side of the road, with its predators and edgy situations.  I will, however, make the case that it is no more dangerous for a guy like me to hitch-hike than to take the bus, as there is a chapter on riding "The Dog", which I have so many times in the past.  

I'll be passing along some hard-earned road skills, such as How NOT to Piss Off Redneck Truckers!
I'll be passing along some hard-earned road skills, such as How NOT to Piss Off Redneck Truckers!

Each time I arrive at my destination, usually a friend's or relative's home, I write down the story from my trip. After several years, that really adds up to something! Right now I'm hard at work on finishing the illustrations. I'm also including some of my sketch pages and notes-to-self, letting the reader see behind the scenes into the process of making a book.

Peek into this crude, coffee-stained process of mine!
Peek into this crude, coffee-stained process of mine!

Here's an exerpt from the book...

10:57am, Rosendale, Missouri.  A woman and her autistic son are taking me...somewhere.  She's turned onto a rock road.  Rising from the dusty gravel is something which thrashes violently.  It's a red-tailed hawk, fighting gravity to take flight ahead of us.  Twisting in the talons of this giant flapping raptor is a long snake, which the hawk just caught.  Amazing.  We're in awe, gaping mouths and all.  When I saw Susan and her son back at the Shop-n-Hop where I'd been waiting, I gently asked her which way they were going, half expecting them to scatter like quail.  I noticed that Susan's companion was different.  He just stared at me when I greeted him.  She hesitantly agreed to give me a lift, saying with a sly laugh that her son Greg would be watching me from the backseat and would beat me up if I did anything funny.  When Susan turned off on a gravel road, I said "You're taking me out here to kill me, aren't you?  You're a sneaky one, acting all innocent!"  We had a good laugh.  She's actually just dropping her son off at home before she goes to her job in Maryville as a substance abuse counselor.  Susan also takes online courses through the University of Missouri, studying to get a degree in social work.  As she tells the story of her only other experience giving a strange man a ride, it becomes clear that this is not something Susan usually does.  The man, old and hunched over, had been carrying a bunch of groceries home in paper bags...during a blizzard in sub-zero temperatures.  I feel pretty special right now.

A large portion of funding will go towards the printing of books.I found a printing press in Wimberley, Texas that makes books with the "feel" I'm looking for...warm, textural, and raw.  It's important for me to use a printer who creates lasting-quality books.  Spending just a bit more money gets you much higher quality.  The unique texture and character of each page will add to the whole experience of reading.  What's left after printing costs will go into my other expenses, as follows:

BUDGET BREAKDOWN:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Printing for 1000 books ………………………………………………....$5500

(or) Printing for 2000 books ………….……………………….…….…..$8500

Gas to drive to the printer (in Wimberly, TX) to pick up the books…..$300

Shipping Costs..........................................................................$3000-6000

Design Software...................................................................................$400

The human turtle humps it to a better spot.
The human turtle humps it to a better spot.

Risks and challenges

Prime yourself for some road metaphors...I couldn't help myself!

The challenges of this project have been multi-laned and as complex as a five-level stacked interchange. It was risky from the get-go. Just the notion of hitch-hiking was daunting. Even though I've gone over fourteen-thousand miles successfully, it takes a lot of nerve to get out on the road the first day of each trip. Hitching is one of the hardest things I've ever done, as it requires loads of patience, an ability to take almost constant rejection, plus street-smarts and some blind faith. I still get butterflies.

Work ethic has never been a problem for me. I grew up in a family-run restaurant business, 'nuff said! Relentless toil, and an appreciation of the results, transferred easily to my self-employment as an artist. If you don't motivate yourself and keep your butt in gear, you'll never succeed. However, there is a vast difference between this project and my past work: A painting job or illustration assignment usually takes a day or two at most, whereas writing a book requires a daily regimen of steady effort over the course of years. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by the enormity of the project. I have wandered in the wrong direction and had to backtrack. I've been left stranded by run-on sentences. Sideswiped by doubt. I've had ideas go flat on me...but it's all been worth the struggle as I near completion of this epic project.

If the project is funded, I expect the book to be printed by early April. As I've said before, the more funds I get, the more books I print. My hope is for the funding to reach $8000, so I can have 2000 books printed...so even after my initial goal is reached, lets Keep it Rolling!

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Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $5 or more

    3 backers

    Every mile counts. I'll send you a personal email with a story and illustration attached. You'll be included on the Thank You page of the book.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    19 backers

    A cruise to the next town. Thanks for getting me further. You, my friend, get a "Digital Thumb" version of the book...in Kindle or PDF format with all the illustrations included. You'll also be on the Thank You page.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    57 backers

    Thanks for the lift! You'll receive a raw, hand-held, printed version of "The Last AMERICAN Hitch Hiker", signed to (your name here). Plus, you'll be on the Thank You page of the book...show it to your jealous friends.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    32 backers

    I'm much closer, thanks to you. My humble appreciation of your generosity...you are gonna get a real, raw, hot off the press book that has a drawing from me to you in the front, plus two high-quality signed limited-edition prints of illustrations from the book> you pick from the many and wondrous images I've created! Your name will be included on the Thank You page...you'll be Famous! (kind of)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    20 backers

    Wow! Many Miles! I gotta do a special drawing for you...a full-page thumb-dinger in the front of the book, making this a true one-of-a-kind item. You'll also get a second copy of the book, signed to your friend or family member. AND five quality prints of images from the book---your choice. Of course, you'll be on the Thank You page...that's right, Your Name in Lights! Well, not really in lights, but Your Name, anyway!

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    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    0 backers

    You really Pick Me Up! I'll not only do a full-page custom drawing in the front of YOUR book, but will also do one in a book for your friend or relative. I like to draw, so it'll be my pleasure! Your third book will be signed to whomever you ask me to. I'll also send you a DVD with art, videos, and music that I've created over the years. You'll receive seven signed limited-edition prints of art from the book. An expression of my eternal gratitude will appear on the Thank You page...written with 24k GOLD! (actually it will be printed with ink, but it Should be gold...)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    0 backers

    The perfect ride!!! I will hitch-hike to your city, as long as it's in North America, and give one of my book-talks to a group of your choice. I did about 15 for my first book and they get better every time. My talks are lively and partially acted-out, and can be geared towards any age group. For people who want to learn safe hitch-hiking skills and tricks of the trade, I'll do an additional workshop. The story of this particular adventure shall one day be a book of its own. You will receive four copies of my book, plus one will be be donated to your local library, each with a full-page hand-drawn image in the front. I'll send you a limited-edition signed print of each of the book's 25-or-so illustrations. Plus, you'll have a heroic write-up on ye olde Thank You page, telling everyone I'm naming my first born after you, ha ha ha. No, but you will get one heck of a "Thanks!" for sure.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> North America DOES include Mexico, Canada, and Alaska (which seems like its own counrty). If you want me to give a presentation on another continent, I'll do it if you tack on airfare!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world

Funding period

- (35 days)