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Ex-soldier turned play-actor Kit Tyburn is tangled in a deadly conspiracy when he intercepts a coded letter from a hidden Jesuit priest
Ex-soldier turned play-actor Kit Tyburn is tangled in a deadly conspiracy when he intercepts a coded letter from a hidden Jesuit priest
42 backers pledged CA$ 3,270 to help bring this project to life.

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CA$ 3,270

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“The nudge in the ribs was short of a kick, but not by much. “ – The Jesuit Letter

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UPDATE: As The Jesuit Letter kickstarter project looks like it is headed north of its goal, I've pulled together some ideas for stretch goals and stretch backer rewards!

Stretch Goal # 1: $3,500  

Stretch Reward # 1: The extra funding will be allocated to commissioning an artist to develop a map of Elizabethan Warwickshire to augment the book. The map will be available in high resolution digital format for all WHIP-JACK ($10) and above reward levels, with print versions (ideally on some beautiful quality paper) also available for all backers at ANGLER ($25) level and above.  

Stretch Goal # 2: $4,000 

Stretch Reward # 2: The extra funding will be allocated to commissioning an artist to develop a character sketches of the main four characters in the book. As before, the character sketches will be available in high resolution digital format for all WHIP-JACK ($10) and above reward levels, with print versions (ideally on some beautiful quality paper) also available for all backers at ANGLER ($25) level and above. 

Suggestions?  If you have any suggestions for other stretch rewards, I am very open to suggestions! I had considered an audio version of the book, but after investigating, at this time it looks like the production costs associated with that idea make it out of reach at this point.

Thanks!

Dean

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I was reading a biography of William Shakespeare when all the threads and my loose thoughts coalesced into a storyline, a tale that seemed worth telling -  the story of an ex-soldier turned play-actor, caught up the dangerous uncertainty of the English Reformation...and the vagaries of an eleven-year old Will Shakespeare. 

Most fiction embedded in the Elizabethan era tends to be bodice-ripping tales of Court intrigue, set amidst the silken splendor of palaces.  Mine tends to hang about in ale-soaked taverns, muddy streets and fetid back-alleys where cold-steel by lantern light offers redemption or grim death by turns…

The Jesuit Letter is the result: 112,000-odd words of historical fiction, hung together in 25 chapters of murder, mayhem and copious amounts of sword-play.

Here’s a brief summary:

The Jesuit Letter reader copy cover
The Jesuit Letter reader copy cover

The innyards of London are closed due to plague, and the Earl of Worcester’s Men are on the road, touring through the market-towns of the midlands. Ex-soldier turned play-actor Christopher Tyburn finds himself entangled in a murderous and deadly conspiracy when he intercepts a coded letter from a hidden Jesuit priest in Warwickshire. 

Tyburn thought he had left bloodshed and violence behind him when he abandoned the war against the Spanish in Flanders.  Now, stalked by an unknown enemy, he must race to unmask the true nature of the conspiracy and hunt down the Jesuit to clear his name, or die a traitor’s death.

You can read an excerpt from The Jesuit Letter below or read the first three chapters on my website. As an added bonus, the opening chapter of Thieves Castle, the work-in-progress sequel, is also up...

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Excerpt:

It was all about waiting. 

Flanders had been damp and cold and dull and dangerous.  The motley collection of soldiers in the Lowlands that made up the small English expedition under Morgan and Gilbert had been a mélange of ex-Sea Beggars, Prussian mercenaries, English soldiers-of-fortune and rake-hell adventurers, leavened with a healthy mix of brutal Scottish Highlanders and amoral Dutchmen.  They were hard, cruel and unscrupulous men, men who prized loot, fighting, drink and women.  They were routinely drunk, undisciplined, licentious and lice-ridden.  They fought among themselves almost as much as they fought the Spaniards but fight they did.  They had honed their belligerent skills in the dank and stony streets of Edinburgh and Haarlem, in the hard arenas of clan warfare and on the chill decks of the Dutch brigand fleet. 

In their ranks, Tyburn had been well-schooled.

The man stepped forward, looking to close fast and pull the interloper off balance, to reach out with his massive calloused hands and break this bastard player.

Waiting was over.

Tyburn sidestepped and slammed his open hand into the lunging man’s throat.  The man gagged and choked, both hands inadvertently pulling away from their intended target.  Tyburn’s booted foot raked down the man’s instep and he lurched forward, his advance turning into a painful stumble, Tyburn arced a hard closed left fist into the man’s right ear and another into his stomach.  As his opponent bent over, Tyburn levered his arm and slammed him headfirst into the cornerpost with a sickening crack.

The man fell like a brick.

Cuttle glared up at the player and rose, head swimming.  One hand dropped to his belt, grasping the bone hilt of his dagger.

Tyburn regarded Cuttle with a chary stare and flipped back his yellow cloak, tapping the hilt of his rapier.  “That’s a path you don’t want to tread, friend.” he said in a mild tone, shaking his head.

What's been done?

The book is 100% complete, but as I learned, writing is only part of the road to publication.

The next step lies before me: going from words on paper to a fully published novel.

Publication is a journey and, although self-publishing today is click-of-a-button-simple, putting out a good book – one that has few typos, a nice layout and structure, well-edited & graced with brilliantly compelling cover art – can be expensive.

I have invested significant time and effort in research, writing and re-writing, aimed at creating a compelling and exciting story set in the Elizabethan world, while trying to keep it as historically accurate as possible. 

What's needed to bring this tale to publication? 

To bring a good product to market - in this case the first novel in a planned series - you need to provide a quality reading experience and value for readers.  That means superlative writing, a great story and a terrific reading experience.  This requires professional editing, proofing, layout design (interior & exterior), multiple e-book formats, and a great cover.

Successful publication also requires marketing, in order to be visible and promoted to the widest possible reading audience.  That's easy if you are in the hands of a major publisher, but much harder if you are on your own.

Editing, design and marketing

These are the three items that bring me to Kickstarter.  I need capital support to help me bring the book to the publication stage.  This involves sourcing & hiring:

1).  A great copy editor

2). A layout designer to help manage the interior design layout so a reader's experience is flawless and smooth no matter if it be a Kindle, Kobo, Nook or a print copy.

3). A cover designer who can capture the energy & excitement of the story and help get readers to pick it off the shelf.

What do you get?

Aside from my undying gratitude, some great rewards and a well-spun story, your investment in the publication of The Jesuit Letter isn't just the start of this tale, it is the start of a SERIES.  Tyburn's tale is planned to encompass a significant part of the Elizabethan reign, from the 1570's through to at least 1588 and the advent of the Armada.

Once the first book is off the ground, the others will follow.  The second book, Thieves Castle, is currently 1/3 complete and is slated to be done by the end of 2014, followed by book three, Sorcerer's Street, and at least two more that are in the early planning stages.  

Investing in a Kickstarter is about more than just swag, its about the opportunity to help support, create, develop and build an endeavor. 

Nobody likes to wait!  If project supporters are interested in receiving the unedited advance per-release digital copy of The Jesuit Letter immediately (i.e. no waiting til September!) I would be more than pleased to provide it as an Advance Edition to the various reward levels.

Even if you decide that The Jesuit Letter isn't for you, poke about and throw your support behind some of the other projects on Kickstarter.  Ideas and dreams always can use a little bit of help or a nudge in the right direction.

I hope you decide to be a part of it.

Risks and challenges

The upfront risks are frankly minimal. The book is 100% complete (barring editor-recommended re-writes and corrections), so it is mainly editing & design time and sourcing suppliers for these activities.

There are minimal risks associated with completion of this project.

Key Challenges:

1). Sourcing a good editor
2). Sourcing a good layout & interior book designer
3). Cover design
4). Marketing plan (FYI - I happen to work in marketing during my day job, so that may give me a key advantage instead...)
5). Finding time between walking the dog, taking the kid to hockey and everything else that life throws at you..

My expectation is that the edit & the cover design can happen in parallel. The final interior layout design would be the final piece prior to publication. My plan is that, barring any unexpected difficulties with sourcing the editor, the final version of book should be ready for publication by the end of the summer of 2014 with an official release date in Fall, 2014.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 5 or more About $5

    BOOT-HALER: You are an official Elizabethan free-booter or brigand.

    You will receive a personalized thank you & a listing on the patrons/donors webpage, where your name will echo through the ages....

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    Pledge CA$ 10 or more About $9

    WHIP-JACK: You are an Elizabethan street ruffian that pretends to be a shipwrecked sailor to gain sympathy.

    You will receive a copy of the finished ebook, digital copies of the cover artwork, digital copies of four Elizabethan art bookmarks (depicting some of the movers & shakers of the Elizabethan era), a personalized thank you, and an acknowledgement on the donors page in the book & the website, even though you are a rascal...

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    Pledge CA$ 25 or more About $23

    ANGLER: You are a skillful Elizabethan criminal that steals from open windows using a pole or a line with a hook on the end.

    You will receive a signed postcard, 3 copies of the finished ebook, digital copies of the cover art, a print set of four Elizabethan art bookmarks (depicting some of the movers & shakers of the Elizabethan era), acknowledgement on the donors page in the book, a personalized thank you & a listing on the patrons/donors webpage, provided you don't take anything from my house....

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    Pledge CA$ 50 or more About $46

    CONY-CATCHER: You are a smartly-dressed Elizabethan trickster and con artist, rooking country innocents of their possessions and coin.

    You will receive all of the previous listed rewards PLUS a signed copy of the perfect-bound 6x9 softcover book (please add shipping costs for outside North America)

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    Pledge CA$ 100 or more About $92

    CURSITOR: You are an Elizabethan wanderer, tramp or vagabond, drifting from parish to parish.

    You will receive the previous listed rewards PLUS 2 signed copies of the Limited Edition perfect-bound 6x9 softcover book, including the additional new and hitherto unpublished Tyburn short story Black Dog (please add shipping costs for outside North America). You will also receive a BONUS reproduction deck of Renaissance-era playing cards (French, 1567) & a set of rules for playing Primero, the Elizabethan equivalent to poker.

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    Pledge CA$ 500 or more About $461

    RUFFLER: You are an armed man that haunts Elizabethan highways and back-alleys, robbing wayfarers and poor travellers.

    You will receive the previous listed rewards PLUS a copy of the Limited edition cover poster (signed), a 1 hr Skype Q&A with the author, 4 limited edition perfect bound softcover copies (signed), including the additional new and hitherto unpublished Tyburn short story "Black Dog" , 5 copies of the ebook, and the BONUS reproduction deck of Renaissance-era playing cards (French, 1567) along with a set of rules for playing Primero, the Elizabethan equivalent to poker (please add shipping costs for outside North America).

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    Pledge CA$ 1,000 or more About $921

    FILCHMAN: You are an Elizabethan gang leader, and spend your days at leisure in the market walk, sending your minions to do your bidding.

    You will receive all of the previous listed rewards PLUS a character named after you (author's discretion to fit story setting) for Thieves Castle (the sequel) or Sorcerer's Street, and a pre-publication e-copy of the sequel when completed.

    You will also receive the BONUS reproduction deck of Renaissance-era playing cards (French, 1567) along with a set of rules for playing Primero, the Elizabethan equivalent to poker (please add shipping costs for outside North America).

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Funding period

- (30 days)