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A fantasy novel published in paperback and digital editions, including an ebook illustrated by young reader artists.
A fantasy novel published in paperback and digital editions, including an ebook illustrated by young reader artists.
97 backers pledged $8,315 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Bluecrowne is the second self-published (print and digital) book in the Arcana Project series. The Arcana Project books take place in and around the world of my traditionally-published novels The Boneshaker and The Broken Lands, and the forthcoming Greenglass House (Clarion, 2014) and The Left-Handed Fate (Holt, 2015). For those who've read my earlier books, Bluecrowne will act as a sort of connector from those books to the two that are coming out next. However, Bluecrowne is a stand-alone novel. It is not necessary to have read any of my other books to read and enjoy it. 

The big idea:

As I explained last year when I launched the Arcana Project with The Kairos Mechanism, I want to experiment with self-publishing as a way to promote and enhance traditional releases by providing extra content to readers in the form of complete, related tales. I want to create these extra stories in ways that involve readers directly, and to use resources that support independent bookstores. In 2014 and 2015 I have two books with new protagonists that are (sort of secretly) related to the world of The Boneshaker. Bluecrowne is your road map to how they are connected, and also a stand-alone story in its own right. With your participation, it will be released in April.

The Kairos Mechanism (Arcana #1), was funded and published in September of 2012, and it got some fairly impressive accolades from folks at Kirkus, Bookslut, and BoingBoing. It was nominated for the Cybil Awards and included in BoingBoing's holiday gift guide as well as NYPL rock star Betsy Bird's 100 Magnificent Children's Books of 2012. People liked it, is what I'm saying. Kickstarter backers received a digital edition with a bonus short story. The illustrated edition included original art from fifteen young artists (see below for more on the Illustrated Kairos). Good times were had by all.

So now it's time for Volume 2. Introducing Bluecrowne.

For those who haven't read The Boneshaker, The Broken Lands, or The Kairos Mechanism, Bluecrowne is a work of moderately frightening historical fantasy rooted in folklore. In it you'll meet villainous itinerant peddlers, young fireworks prodigies, privateers, and even the odd immortal or two. You'll learn why ship's biscuit is awesome, especially if it's stale (spoiler alert: WEEVILS). You'll learn the properties of cald-fire and lyke-fire, and the Chinese term for red massicot, just in case you ever need to know. And hopefully you will emerge from your reading and immediately mark your calendars for the releases of Greenglass House and The Left-Handed Fate. (Whilst you're waiting, may I recommend those other books I mentioned above, which are available now?)

If you have read my previous books, allow me to make a very short list of things for you, each of which plays a part in Bluecrowne:

  • A sutler named Trigemine, possessing a certain Mechanism
  • A boy named Liao
  • A certain Jumper whose initials are SC
  • A knife in the shape of an albatross
  • Other stuff that would be spoilery to tell you about

Fan of The Boneshaker? This is for you. Fan of The Broken Lands? It's for you, too. Liked The Kairos Mechanism best? For you, from me. Can't wait for Greenglass House? Here, have this book. All yours. Wish The Left-Handed Fate was coming out tomorrow? I will gift wrap your copy of Bluecrowne, because it already has your name on it. 

Reasons why Bluecrowne is going to be awesome:

It will have a brand new cover illustration from Andrea Offermann, the artist behind the covers and the interior art for The Broken Lands and The Boneshaker and the cover of The Kairos Mechanism. Ta-daaaa!!

It will be available in three editions: 

  • a paperback printed on McNally Jackson's Espresso Book Machine which will be available through my website, from McNally Jackson Books (online and in-store) and ultimately as a print-on-demand title from any bookstore or library that has an Espresso Book Machine
  • a DRM-free digital book available in PDF and for Nook, Kindle, and your Apple ereader of choice, and  
  • a special digital edition illustrated by young readers available through my website, clockworkfoundry.com, pay-what-you-like. Have a look at art from The Illustrated Kairos Mechanism here, or get the entire PDF for free here. Below is a video by Natalia Eldering, one of the artists.  
  • And finally--I'm really pleased with the story. I think you'll like it.

Rewards and Money stuff:

I've set the goal this time around to $8000 to cover the following:

  • Editing, illustration, design, setup, and printing of 200 copies 
  • Rewards and mailing to Kickstarter backers and mailing to kindly bloggers who have offered their help in spreading the word
  • Commissioning of art from reader artists 

If, with your help, we exceed our fundraising goal, the first thing we’ll do is bump up the artists’ paychecks. The second thing will be to increase the print run.

Rewards will be mailed at the beginning of May. Gift-wrapping available at no charge. I flipping LOVE gift-wrapping stuff.

Some Q&As:

Q: I backed this project on your website. What happened with that? Will I get a copy regardless of what happens with this Kickstarter?

A: First of all, thank you! The short answer is, yes, you'll get your copy no matter what, although you might be the only ones. The longer answer is, I didn't raise enough through my website alone to print a paperback edition or to make the illustrated edition, so here we are again. However, regardless of what happens here, I will have copies (pb or digital, depending on the backer level) made for the early supporters and on their way to you around the end of April.

Q: How do you find your reader artists? What if I know an awesome young artist who'd be perfect? 

A: I find them all over the place. Some reached out to me, some came to me through teachers or librarians, some were friends of readers or fellow writers. Know someone who'd love to participate? Excellent! Email me and we'll talk. 

Q: Why 200 copies this time instead of 300?

A: Cost of printing and editing. Bluecrowne is on track to come in at about 260 pages (or about 100 pages longer than The Kairos Mechanism). It's going to be more expensive to edit, lay out, and print. 

Q: Last time you were trying to raise $6500. Why the increase this time? 

A: Last time I spent about $8000 total (including the contributions of some friends and family who didn't go through Kickstarter). Two of the things I committed to doing if we beat our goal last time was to increase the artists' compensation, and I'd like to plan for the higher pay rate and two illustrations per chapter right from the outset.

Q: Related: why bother with crowdfunding at all? Don't you know it costs next to nothing to self-publish? 

A: Setting aside the illustrated edition, yes, I know books can be self-pubbed on the cheap. But I have high expectations and an acute awareness of my own limitations, which include an eight month-old infant, a complete lack of design and layout skills, and two contracted books that are going to require a lot of work in the upcoming months. I write books, and I do that well. For the other stuff, I need help, and I want to give business to people and organizations I care about.

The tools I use are important to me, as are working with people I know and trust, and doing what I can to support independent bookstores. And because I prefer reading physical books, having a beautiful paperback edition is critically important to me. The finished product needs to be worthy of sitting alongside the incredibly beautiful books my publishers made from my longer works. Using the Espresso Book Machine isn't cheap, but the result is as elegant a paperback as you will find in any bookstore anywhere, and I get to support a shop I love. 

Last but not least, it's really fun coming up with rewards and having an open dialogue with people who care enough about these stories to take part in bringing them into being. Why print paperbacks myself instead of just having readers order them POD? Because if I do it, I can sign them and tuck thank you cards into them and mail them to their new homes.

Other Questions? Contact Kate directly: press@clockworkfoundry.com

Meet the Team:

Also, huge thanks to Alfred DeGrand and Nick Catania for making our video! 

Further Reading:

The Obligatory Social Media Roundup:

Thanks to everyone for your time, and your participation in the Arcana Project.

Risks and challenges

I think my biggest challenge will be blogging and keeping up a strong web presence to drive the campaign. Because I have a new baby and I was concerned about how my level of productivity would change, I held off on beginning this campaign until the manuscript was finished. Now I'm in the process of editing and working with the artist and designer on the cover. Basically, all that's left is polishing and putting together, and because of the aforementioned baby, I've planned and budgeted for a lot more help, so I'm confident in my ability to complete and deliver the book itself.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Just the basics, please: A digital copy of Bluecrowne, including a bonus short story.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    The e-Arcana, Volumes One and Two: Digital copies of Bluecrowne and The Kairos Mechanism, both with bonus short stories.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    The e-Arcana + The Boneshaker: Digital editions of The Kairos Mechanism and Bluecrowne and a paperback copy of The Boneshaker, plus a handwritten thank you card.

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    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    The Bluecrowne Bundle: Paperback and digital copies of Bluecrowne, a handmade bookmark, and a thank you card.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    The Ever-Popular Ephemera Reward: A digital copy of Bluecrowne, a handwritten thank you card, and a strange but fascinating bit of ephemera that will surprise and delight you. It could be an antique bicycle horn my weird upstairs neighbor left when he moved out, a stuffed beast I made out of gloves after a hearty pour or two of rye, something from my collection of old travel guides and maps, perhaps a tin that once held old carpet tacks and which would be excellent for your paperclips. Guaranteed to have been lovingly collected and hoarded for a while by yours truly.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    A Book and Some Flair: A digital copy of Bluecrowne, a handmade pendant created by students at my alma mater, South River HIgh School in Maryland, from bits and bobs from around my writing room, and a handwritten thank you card.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    The e-Arcana and Some Wicked Art: A digital copy of Bluecrowne, a digital copy of The Kairos Mechanism, and a print of your choosing from either The Illustrated Kairos or Candice Fortenberry's series of character illustrations (Natalie, Natalie & Miranda, Jack Hellcoal, or Natalie/Miranda/Jin/Sam/Tom). Plus a handwritten thank you card.

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    The Arcana Bundle: Paperback and digital copies of both The Kairos Mechanism and Bluecrowne, and a handwritten thank you card.

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    Pledge $70 or more About $70

    The Arcana Bundle + The Boneshaker: Paperback and digital copies of both The Kairos Mechanism and Bluecrowne; a paperback copy of The Boneshaker, and a handwritten thank you card.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    The e-Arcana + Writerly Treats: Digital copies of Bluecrowne and The Kairos Mechanism, a neat old notebook I found while traveling and an elegant writing implement handmade in Missouri by my father-in-law, the amazing Walter. Plus a handwritten thank you card.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Better Know a Villain: Jack Hellcoal Edition. A copy of The Boneshaker, a copy of Richard Chase's The Jack Tales, a print of Candice Fortenberry's portrait of Jack, and digital copies of The Kairos Mechanism and Bluecrowne, as well as a handwritten thank-you card.

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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    The Illustrator Appreciation Reward, Kairos Edition: digital and paperback editions of The Kairos Mechanism and Bluecrowne, a piece of original art from The Illustrated Kairos Mechanism (first-come, first-served), and a handwritten thank you card from me. Your art will come in a plain glass frame. Want fancier framing, suitable for gift-giving? Add $25 for materials and shipping.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    The Illustrator Appreciation Collection, Nagspeake Edition: Digital and paperback copies of Bluecrowne and a hardcover copy of Greenglass House, plus a signed print from GGH cover artist Jaime Zollars and a handwritten thank you note from me. Your copy of Greenglass House will ship separately in August.

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    Pledge $175 or more About $175

    The Illustrator Appreciation Collection, Arcane Edition: Digital and special paperback editions of Bluecrowne and The Kairos Mechanism hand-decorated by Andrea Offermann, a signed print by Andrea Offermann, plus a handwritten thank you card from me.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    All The Books: Signed hardcover copies of The Boneshaker, The Broken Lands, and Greeglass House, paperback and digital copies of The Kairos Mechanism and Bluecrowne, a handmade bookmark, your name on the special thanks page, and a handwritten thank you card. Greenglass House will ship to you separately in August.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Bluecrowne + The Natalie Minks Collection: Digital and paperback copies of Bluecrowne, a signed first printing hardback copy of The Boneshaker, an original illustration of Natalie Minks by Candice Fortenberry (shown on the campaign's main page), your name on the special thanks page, and a handwritten thank you card. Your art will arrive matted and framed.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Bluecrowne + The Natalie and Miranda Collection: Digital and special-edition paperback copies of Bluecrowne and The Kairos Mechanism, an original illustration of Natalie and Miranda by Candice Fortenberry (shown on the campaign's main page), your name on the special thanks page, and a handwritten thank you card. Your art will arrive matted and framed.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Bluecrowne + the Jack Collection: A digital copy of Bluecrowne, signed first-printing hardcover copies of The Boneshaker and The Broken Lands, an original illustration of Jack Hellcoal by Candice Fortenberry (shown on the campaign's main page), your name on the special thanks page, and a handwritten thank you card. Your art will arrive matted and framed.

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    The Collector's Collection: A signed set of The Boneshaker and The Broken Lands in hardcover and The Kairos Mechanism and Bluecrowne in digital and paperback, all first printing, all signed by both Kate Milford and Andrea Offermann, a hardcover first printing copy of Greenglass House signed by both Kate Milford and Jaime Zollars, your name on the special thanks page, and a handwritten thank you card. Your copies of Kairos and Bluecrowne will be Andrea's special editions.

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    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    A full manuscript critique by phone from my agent, the outstanding Barry Goldblatt. This reward also includes paperback copies of The Kairos Mechanism, Bluecrowne, and The Boneshaker as well as a handwritten thank you card and your name on the special thanks page, but let's not kid ourselves. It's the critique you want. Delivery date is an estimate; actual timing will depend on your schedule and Barry's.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Teachers/librarians: I'll come out for a one day, in person school or library visit in spring or autumn of 2014. Locations within 2 hours of NYC, Annapolis, Baltimore, or Philadelphia, I will pick up travel expenses. Are you outside that geographic range? Email me to make inquiries, but basically if you're willing to pay actual travel and accommodation costs on top of the $500 pledge, I'm game. I will also include digital copies of The Kairos Mechanism and Bluecrowne, a signed poster; your name on the special thanks page, and a handwritten thank you card.

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    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    Teachers/librarians: I'll create an illustrated Kairos or Bluecrowne with your students. I'll provide up to 25 or so paperback copies of the book of your choosing, then I'll visit with your class via Skype (twice? Three times? We'll see how much time we need) to discuss the history involved, strategies for research, and reading for details. Your students will create the art, and I'll plug it in to create a digital PDF for your class. To be scheduled in spring or fall of 2014.

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Funding period

- (30 days)