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pledged of $20,000pledged of $20,000 goal
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Thu, August 31 2017 9:00 PM UTC +00:00
pledged of $20,000pledged of $20,000 goal
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Thu, August 31 2017 9:00 PM UTC +00:00


To explain my project I need to take you back to 1959 for a brief history followed by FOUR CHAPTER EXCERPTS that I urge you to read to help you understand why I so strongly believe that Unsuspecting Friends will have a positive impact on readers of all ages. 

The book is noteworthy because of its innocence and simplicity and I confidently rate it G for General Audiences. No bad language and no religious or political implications or agenda.  

Please allow me to elaborate beginning with a current synopsis:

I started writing this novel many years ago and finally finished the manuscript in 2008. The book is a collection of fifty captivating, uplifting and inspiring short stories of memorable encounters with humans and animals (his UNSUSPECTING FRIENDS) as told by a picnic table made of wood from a Sweet Gum tree. After many years at Lake Windjammer Gum is in his twilight. As he reminisces he invites us into his world to share his memories before he is gone.

In 2009 I began aggressively looking for a literary agent and publisher by submitting hundreds of queries. The result was hundreds of "good luck with your project" rejection letters.

In 2010 I decided to self-publish audio book and eBOOK versions with and Then I began the enormous task of promoting the book by networking through family, friends, business colleagues and social media.This generated significant interest but few actual sales which only increased my determination.

I decided I needed a marketing plan in order to proceed. So next, let me explain how your money will be used.


Funding this project will enable me to retain a public relations company that specializes in book promotion. We will launch a full scale marketing campaign that will include radio and television interviews, talk show appearances, podcasts, print media articles, literary reviews, submissions to critics, outreach to and dialogue with book publishing oriented blogs and Web sites and ongoing interaction using social media.

The money will also be used to build an official Web site to reach a global audience and to expand existing business relationships with PLAYAWAY (, BAKER & TAYLOR ( and MIDWEST TAPES ( that will generate sales and distribution of Unsuspecting Friends to public and school libraries nationwide. In addition to libraries in major markets, small and medium markets will not be overlooked. Libraries are the ideal circulation providers and thus a prime target.


The capital will also be used to cover the cost of manufacturing, packaging and distribution of UNSUSPECTING FRIENDS PLAYAWAY audio books.This vital promotional tool will be mailed to the media nationwide to  create awareness and ignite support. It will also help generate interviews. I have used this method in other projects with great success so I know the strategy works.

Every ingredient of the marketing recipe has been researched and carefully planned. For example: Because of email, gmail, online buying, billing, banking and social media devises used to text and photo-share, USPS "snail mail" has decreased dramatically. A good thing for this project because using USPS will further guarantee our PLAYAWAY recipients will take note upon receiving our package. We will spend  money wisely by using low cost media mail, a bit slower than first class but speed is not an issue. 

Next, the funding decision, inspiration and purpose of this book:

With limited financial resources I turned to Kickstarter, but only after  reassessing my original goal. I went back to the beginning when UNSUSPECTING FRIENDS was just an idea and asked myself, "why did I decide to write the book in the first place."

I realized the real inspiration dated back to my early teens when the original seed was planted. Over the years as an adult I became driven by a growing need to create a  "goodwill outreach" to people of all ages using thoughtful, gentle, sometimes comical yet meaningful and provocative short stories. While this book may be fictional, it is based on personal experiences.The following appears on page one and pretty much says it all.

"I dedicate this book to my grandmother, Mae Elizabeth McFarland Shaw, and the big old Dutch Elm tree outside her window at 1119 St. John Street in Toledo, Ohio where I grew up. She was confined to her upstairs bedroom due to Rheumatoid Arthritis and not a day went by without me spending time with her listening to her wonderful real-life stories and looking out that window, dreaming about the future. That Elm tree gave us comfort and hope as we watched the seasons change year after year. When it was chopped down in the fall of 1959 because of Dutch Elm disease, neither of us were ever the same. There was always something missing after that. A piece of grandma and me was gone forever. Less than a year later she too was gone." 




CHAPTER EIGHT - Human Instincts

Now that I've been around people for a few years I have developed human instincts. And feelings.

Like in the fall when only a few leaves cling to their branches and heavy clouds signal the coming of winter. I know that feeling, but I can’t put a name to it.

There are limits to what I should be able to feel according to the grand order of the universe. When I first arrived at Lake Windjammer there was little I understood, although I could clearly see my surroundings. Even in the beginning I sensed things would change. And they did.

Over time, and it didn't take long by the way, the empty zone between me and my UNSUSPECTING FRIENDS evaporated and that allowed me to cross over into a much more vivid world where feelings are far more intense.

At first I was under the impression that I was brought to Lake Windjammer only to observe. How presumptuous of me to think I could avoid feeling the feelings I am now able to feel.

Sorrow, anticipation, anger, jealousy, happiness, determination, surprise, joy, hate, frustration, loneliness, hopelessness, embarrassment, terror, eagerness, disappointment, wonder, disbelief, rage, sadness, relief. I now know how all these feelings feel, but I’m not sure how I feel about feeling them.

For instance,  I'm afraid - see what I mean - my limited knowledge before crossing over was a better way for me to be. Now I realize that back then my ignorance was bliss, and it doesn't seem like I'll be going back anytime soon. I've heard people say "it's never too late" but I'm not so sure about that in my case. On the other hand, I'm quite happy where I am in spite of the feelings I can no longer ignore.

Still, being uncertain of my future I can't avoid longing for my past and missing where I used to be - when I was just a tree - standing next to Sassafras. She was my very best friend you know. Hopefully, this emptiness inside me will someday be behind me.

CHAPTER TEN - July 4th, 1969

Now that I’ve been moved closer to the beach where I’ve been roasting in the hot sun, I’m beginning to blister a little, but that’s okay. I like it much better here than back by the grapevine where nobody could see me. I can watch the children now.

And, speaking of children, these boys had better be careful with those firecrackers. Billy, Willie and Bob. I did not like them at first. Boys seem to need to hit things with things. They whacked me with a stick and gave me a kick for no reason. They have to be punching and hitting or shouting and spitting or going and throwing or fighting and biting or yelling or banging and clanging or running and bumping or laughing and jumping. They are not bad boys though, these three boys.

Billy is the leader. The shortest, but by far the shrewdest. Willie is the tallest but not the brightest. Bob just goes along whether it's right or whether it's wrong.

They have been lighting firecrackers down by the water toward the end of the beach. By the water is a good place to be with firecrackers.

Billy is up to no good. He just took something with a long fuse out of his back pocket. It is not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill firecracker. I dislike the word mill. It brings back memories of that place they took me after they chopped me down.

The other two are backing away. Be careful William. I think he’s going to put the match to it. Yes he has. Now run! Good, they’re all running. Cowards is a good thing to be with firecrackers.

Well? Nothing. A fizzle. Fizzles are good too.

No, no… leave it alone. Billy! He can’t stand to not know. He’s creeping back like a cat stalking a mouse. I don’t like this. He’s got it. He’s put it back in his pocket. I can’t watch this. It must be out. Let it be out. I think it’s out. It’s out. Thank you very much.

This is the hardest part you know. Seeing and hearing and feeling without being able to shout when you need to shout!

CHAPTER 28 - Winter 1978

It had been a classic Ohio winter with all but one ingredient. Snow. So far there had not been more than a few light dustings, with occasional flurries off and on. But that was about to change.

I remember there was a curious eeriness that day. The air was thick and somber. Barometers were bursting with news of a coming storm. Living outside all my life, I knew quite a bit about the weather in general and barometric pressure in particular. Who would ever expect an apparent inanimate object like me to know anything about the atmosphere? Little did anyone ever know that I knew anything at all.

I hadn't seen them for months. Then, suddenly there they were, romping my way on that otherwise gray day. It was Daphne and Rodney on a long red leash. Well, Daphne wasn't on a leash, that’s not what I meant. It was that lovable beagle and his faithful friend all bundled up wearing fat warm mittens and a purple sock hat. Well, Rodney wasn't wearing mittens or a sock hat, that’s not what I meant. They were heading straight for me.

The pup was almost three and nearly ten was she, and what a wonderful pair, neither had a care. Inseparable? You bet. Since the day they met. Two bugs in a rug, never apart, they could warm even the coldest heart. Pleasant memories sometimes make me talk in rhyme.

They played with a stick and then climbed up on me and sat close together, her little arm around his neck and his fuzzy paw on her tiny knee, both of them breathing out hot bursts of life that swirled and joined into a single stream of steam in the moist February air. This was as pure as it gets.

Then they were gone, not to return again for almost a hundred days. Had I known that then, I would have been very sad. Instead I was basking in the warmth of their brief visit, feeling very glad. And then it started to snow.

The Great Blizzard of ’78 had arrived and I would not see the light of day again for a very long time.

CHAPTER 56 - Before I Go

I’ve been sensing you expect me to tell you something important before I go. I’m sorry. I don’t have any big news. I do have a few questions for you to ask yourself, and a few thoughts to share.

What has been the happiest year of your life so far? Have you ever demonstrated courage? If you disappeared right now, who would miss you?

There is no way to get all you want in life, but you should get as much as you can. Just don’t hurt anyone in the process.

You are free to do whatever you like. You need only to face the consequences.

The truth doesn’t stop being the truth just because you’re not willing to accept it.

There is only one despair worse than, “God, I blew it” and that is “God, I blew it again”. Learn to forgive yourself.

To think you are a part of God is not arrogant. To think you are anything else is arrogant.

Conscience usually hurts when something feels too good.

Age doesn’t always bring wisdom. Sometimes, age comes alone.

Everyone lies, mostly to themselves.

And last but most important. If you don’t have love, no matter what else you do have will never be enough.


BY MICHAEL DREW SHAW - - (419) 283-9409

Risks and challenges

There are no risks per se. If we were manufacturing a large quantity of merchandise and sales were minimal we would be stuck with that inventory. Unlike creating a tangible product, this project is about intellectual property already in place. The challenge is to create awareness and generate interest and support with the ultimate goal of making a positive impact on society.

The main hurdle is competing in a literary marketplace already flooded with digital, print and audible content. The gatekeepers at book publishers dictate that in order to do business, authors MUST have an agent, often an attorney. The publishing industry operates behind a closed door policy. This is nothing new. It has always been that way.

Having already traveled the traditional publishing road, I have come up with an alternative that will introduce UNSUSPECTING FRIENDS to the world. I firmly believe that from there the book will come to life and escalate on its own. I call it lateral transfusion.

Even though my book is currently available at and, this alone will not accomplish my mission. As my bio states, I have a long and successful history in communications and marketing. This project is the perfect opportunity to apply my knowledge and experience. The only thing holding me back is funding, thus my outreach to you via Kickstarter.

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