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Travel photographer/writer takes you on a 90-day road trip of a lifetime along the entire Mississippi River

It Starts With One Tiny Raindrop!

The Moment That Changed Everything

When I first saw the Mississippi River, I was nine years old and it has lived in my heart ever since.

In my 22 years as a professional photographer, I’ve been fortunate to photograph exotic places and fascinating people. My work has appeared in publications such as Midwest Living Magazine, Country Magazine, AAA Publications, American Profile and Avalon Travel Books and in 2009 I was surprised and honored to be nominated for the Santa Fe Prize for Photography.

Nothing, however, has touched me as deeply as this work along America’s greatest river. 

In 2007, I discovered the Great River Road, a National Scenic Byway that follows the entire course of the Mississippi River. I knew then I wanted to see and photograph all of it, and began squeezing in “river trips” at every opportunity.

Then came the moment that changed everything, when I learned a raindrop falling into the headwaters of the Mississippi travels for 90 days to reach the Gulf of Mexico. I knew, without a doubt, that somehow I would make a 90-day road trip, following the entire course of the great river, while keeping pace with an imaginary raindrop that I would call “Serendipity.”

The Journey

As I plotted the raindrop’s pace on a map, I was astonished when people I contacted graciously offered me lodging. Thanks to that wonderful support, the journey was possible. 

From August until November, 2010, I wandered without plan and took any back road that beckoned and met people everywhere who invited me into their lives. It was magical!

The Book

The book, “Surrendering to Serendipity,” will be a beautiful hard cover edition with 200+ pages and 150+ full-color photographs on heavy, fine quality paper. Although the exact dimensions will be decided in the design process, I envision it to be approximately 11 x 10 inches and my goal is to have it in your hands by the fall of 2014.

There are 54 vignettes, like short stories, that bring words and images together in a way that gives you your own experience of this road trip of a lifetime. Some are quiet, contemplative moments and some are rowdy good fun. You will learn much about the Mississippi, its role in our past and our present, while having a free-spirited romp through America’s heart.

How You Can Help

“Surrendering to Serendipity” is ready for copyediting, cover design, interior layout, printing and binding. In order to do that, and to cover the minimum print run of 1,500 copies, we must meet our Kickstarter goal of $16,000. 

“Serendipity’s Dream Team,” a wonderful group of friends who you will soon meet in an Update, has been helping me create Backer Rewards that we think you will LOVE!  Please check them out and then make your pledge. I appreciate EVERY pledge in any amount. Remember, Kickstarter campaigns are all-or-nothing so every dollar matters. (You will not be charged until the campaign has ended and been successfully funded.)

Please help us spread the word in every way you can. It takes lots of people to make this happen. Use the buttons on this page to share it on Facebook and Twitter. Post it on blogs, in chat rooms, tell the media and everyone you know.

Now, Give Yourself a Treat!  Fix a mug of your favorite drink, grab your road snacks and come to the blog www.gayleharper.wordpress.com for a little “Roadtripping with a Raindrop.” You’ll meet Hazel With the Green Shoes, Pat With the Hoodoo Eyes, Judy With the Golden Throat and experience one of the most bodacious thunderstorms EVER. It’s not only great fun, but it gives a taste of what “Surrendering to Serendipity” will be like.

And we can connect on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GayleHarper.MississippiRiver

Thank You for being part of this raindrop adventure. I’ll be back soon with an Update, but for now, if you have any questions, just click “Contact me” above – I’d love to hear from you!

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

While nothing in life is without risks and we all know that things can happen, I have invested 4 years of my life and lots of my resources into this project – and nothing short of catastrophe could stop it now! I intend to create a beautiful book that will be a pleasure to experience and to have it in your hands by the fall of 2014!

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    (a) A heartfelt Thank You! No amount is "small" - remember this whole thing started with one tiny raindrop! (b) Your name on the Backer List on a special page of the blog, "Surrendering to Serendipity" at www.gayleharper.wordpress.com (c) You will be thanked by name on the Author Facebook Page www.facebook.com/GayleHarper.MississippiRiver (d) You will receive our Newsletters and Backer Updates

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    (a) A bundle of 3 photographs as wallpaper images for your computer monitor or mobile device, sent to your email inbox (b) Plus all of the Rewards listed above

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    20 backers

    (a) A collection of half a dozen 4 1/4 x 6" postcards - beautiful full-color photographs suitable for framing or mailing (b) Plus all of the Rewards listed above (c) Includes free shipping in U.S. International shipping additional, calculated by destination.

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    (a) Signed 8x12 archival color print (choose from 3) mounted on backer board with hanger and ready to display (b) Plus all of the Rewards listed above (c) Includes free shipping in U.S. International shipping additional, calculated by destination.

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    (a) One signed First Edition copy of "Surrendering to Serendipity" hot off the presses (b) Your name included in the book as a backer (c) Plus all of the Rewards listed above (d) Includes free shipping in U.S. International shipping additional, calculated by destination.

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    (a) A personal phone call from the author to thank you, tell you a story or answer your questions (b) Plus all the Rewards listed above (c) Includes free shipping in U.S. International shipping additional, calculated by destination.

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    A special opportunity to recognize a loved one! A signed First Edition copy of "Surrendering to Serendipity" will be donated to the library, school or organization of your choice, imprinted with your dedication. (b) Two additional signed First Edition copies of the book, also with the dedication if you choose (c) Plus all the Rewards listed above (d) Includes free shipping in U.S. International shipping additional, calculated by destination. NOTE: This is the same Award as the other one listed at this level, but the date on that one was an error.

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    A special opportunity to recognize a loved one! A signed First Edition copy of "Surrendering to Serendipity" will be donated to the library, school or organization of your choice, imprinted with your dedication. (b) Two additional signed First Edition copies of the book, also with the dedication if you choose (c) Plus all the Rewards listed above (d) Includes free shipping in U.S. International shipping additional, calculated by destination.

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    (a) Four signed First Edition copies of the book with the Dedication Page imprint if you choose (b) An invitation for 2 to the Book Launch Party in Springfield, Missouri, with VIP seating for the Premiere of the Slide Show (transportation and lodging not included) (c) Your name in the credits of the Slide Show, which will subsequently be shown all over the country (d) Your name displayed on a beautiful "Thank You" board at the party (e) Plus all the Rewards listed above (f) Includes free shipping in U.S. International shipping additional, calculated by destination.

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    (a) I will come to your town, present the Slide Show, tell stories and answer questions in the setting of your choice. It can be anything from a gathering of friends at your home to a full auditorium. Within 300 miles of Springfield, MO, I will cover my transportation. Anywhere else, I will cover the first $300 of airfare. I ask for a ride to and from the airport and a place to sleep. Within a 50-mile radius of Springfield, you will be given an additional 5 First Edition signed books to give as door prizes or distribute however you like. (b) Plus all the Rewards listed above (c) Includes free shipping in U.S. International shipping additional, calculated by destination.

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    (a) You are Serendipity's Angel! You and I will talk and together we will create a Reward designed especially for you (b) Plus - of course - all the Rewards listed above (c) Includes free shipping in U.S. International shipping additional, calculated by destination.

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Funding period

- (31 days)