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When my daughters were young, I wrote a handful of sweet little stories inspired by their “expressions of will” in the world. Tantrums over spreading the wrong kind of Jelly on toast became Strawbegranate Jellyman, not wanting to sit still became Tushy Time, and not wanting to go to sleep became Into Your Dreams.
As an alumnus of the UCLA Animation Workshop (MFA ’95) where I learned the process of producing an animated film from concept to distribution, it was only natural that I began to envision my stories as books to read to my own children - so I began to sketch out designs and animation storyboards based on the stories.
I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators with hopes of finding a publisher but quickly learned that an independent animation director/unpublished author with the desire to be an author/book designer/editor/art director was not a natural fit for the established publishing industry in which all of those roles are appropriately executed by specialists. Like so many other aspiring authors, I had a choice: make unsolicited submissions of the manuscript text to agents and editors with hopes of landing a traditional publishing deal in which I would have little to no say into the crafting of the book, or…
Self-publishing didn’t make any sense at the time. I just could not justify - or afford - putting thousands of dollars into the production of a book with no way to deliver it to its intended audience.
I put Into Your Dreams, as well as my other stories and writings on the shelf and I focused on family and career - first as a recruiter to entertainment and new economy start-ups, then as a teacher - all the while continuing to work on personal creative projects in rare moments of spare time, never letting go of the determination to one day manifest their fullest potential.
The original release of the iPad sparked my creative drive to revisit children’s publishing. I began to plan Into Your Dreams as an interactive, animated book, but as I moved forward with flow charts, storyboarding animated sequences, budgeting, and scheduling, I became overwhelmed. I’m one person. To successfully pull off a project of that scale requires a budget, a team of business, technical and creative artists and confidence in a return on the investment of time and money.
I took a step back to reflect on where I had been, what I hoped to accomplish and what was driving me.
I thought back on those days of sitting in the glider with my daughter on my lap,
arm wrapped around her,
holding a book,
pointing to the pictures,
marveling as she learned to point,
to touch the page,
to hold the page,
to turn the page,
to discover the colors,
the surprises in the illustrations
to sound out the words as she began to read.
To shape the sweet and sentimental ritual of bedtime reading: that is what drove me to write, and what drove me to want to share my words and imagination and vision with others. Although it is true that meaningful experiences can be had with a tablet and a child, magical electronics are not necessary. A simple book can work. A book can be held and touched and cherished. It can sit in suspended animation on a shelf, peacefully, patiently waiting for a reader to touch it’s spine, to slip it out, and to bring it to life once again.
New Directions in Publishing
The potential of crowdfunding, social media marketing, and new models in book production, sales and distribution, drove me to dedicate myself to the publishing of Into Your Dreams. Although I considered doing the illustrations myself, I knew in my heart that the the book I was envisioning could only be achieved by an artist with a talent beyond my own. Enter Hedy Yudaw. Hedy introduced herself to me after a screening of my film Wonder Water Web about 8 years ago. She loved my work and we connected over our mutual admiration of animator Frédéric Back and the film "The Man Who Planted Trees". I remembered her years later and contacted her about Into Your Dreams. She loved the project and agreed to come on board. The artwork that Hedy created through our wonderful collaboration is so beautiful and enchanting that it deserves no less than the best printing that is possible.
Today, that still means offset printing on a four-color press. The up-front costs and commitment are far greater than print on demand, but the end result will be a bookstore/museum/gift quality book of the highest professional quality. With a minimum of print run of 500 copies, the book will be not only printed, but delivered to those who support the project. The dream at it’s most basic level will be fulfilled.
Of course, the bigger dream is to raise money not only to do a limited print run, but to reach more readers and sleep wary children. If the campaign brings in 25k, I will engage the services of Greenleaf Book Group to extend sales, marketing and distribution into bookstores, specialty shops and other retail outlets. Greenleaf is an innovative new publishing company that partners with authors who today have more power than ever to cultivate relationships with their audience but still need professional assistance to fulfill their potential in the marketplace.
Funding levels higher than 30k will make it possible to explore further creative development of Into Your Dreams or even begin the production of my other manuscripts: Strawbegranate JellyMan, The Skinny Tree, Tushy Time, NightTime Bliss and Moldy Lox and the Three Hairs. Beyond that, it will offer me a needed boost of energy and confidence to not only dream on, but write on, draw on and animate on.
You’ll see in the rewards section not only the eBook and hardcover books, but signed and numbered bookplates, an original sketch of Fred the Big Bunny, original production artwork, and home/school visits.
Here are previews of the original artwork offerings:
$250 Level - Small Concept Art
Backers at this reward level will receive one of these ORIGINAL 4.5” x 3.75” blue and graphite early concept drawings by Hedy Yudaw.
Backers can request a specific drawing on the Facebook post for the reward level they have backed. Simply click on the link, review the comments on the post to see which pieces have already been claimed, and add a comment with the number of the drawing you would like to claim. The sooner you back the project, the better chances for getting your first choice.
$300 Level - Medium Concept Art.
Backers at this reward level will receive one of these ORIGINAL 7” x 5” blue and graphite early concept drawings by Hedy Yudaw:
See instructions for reserving the artwork you would like at the end of the $250 level description above.
$1500 Large Original Final Pencil Illustration.
Backers at this reward level will receive one of these ORIGINAL final pencil drawings of the artwork that was digitally painted for the book along with a high quality print of the matching painted color illustration.
The signed 14” x 9” original artwork and color print will be custom framed in your choice of two single frames or a single large frame with a double matte.
See instructions for reserving the artwork you would like at the end of the $250 level description above.
Investing in Dreams
Perhaps the greatest reward will only be realized in time. I may not be the next Dr. Seuss or Shel Silverstein, but for sure I’m the first Roger Blonder - and Hedy Yudaw is a rising star in the world of illustration and animation. A first edition with a signed custom bookplate or some original artwork might really be worth something one day!
It's My Birthday!
One last little thing - or maybe a big thing?
This Kickstarter campaign is set to end on July 19 - my 50th birthday.
Like Kickstarter campaigns, bed time books are really appeals -
Invitations to venture “Into Your Dreams”.
Beyond making and offering book, my dream is to create a meaningful connection with people who appreciate my work and are willing to put their vote of confidence in me to become a calming voice in a stormy world.
As I say in the video, for a very long I have believed deeply that I have a voice that holds the potential to make our world a sweeter place. I think to a large degree I have been successful in using that voice to help others realize their dreams - by helping creative people to find jobs in my early career as a recruiter and as a teacher of creativity for the last 24 years. The time has finally arrived for me to make a concerted effort to project my own voice into the world.
Into Your Dreams may not bring peace to the world, but it will very likely bring peace into the homes of children and their parents at bedtime. Perhaps that's a good place to start.
Thank you for your help in making dreams and peace a reality.
Below you will see the nearly complete illustrations, the final pencil drawings and larger images of the original art offered as backer rewards.
Into Your Dreams
Here's the rough cut of a video animatic I created for the project. Hope you like it!
And here's the latest update - in case you didn't click the "Updates" tab!
Risks and challenges
As you can see, I’m in this pretty deep in this and committed to see it through.
I have worked with offset printing before for small projects - video and dvd cases and booklets - but have never taken a full color 32 page book all the way through the process.
It is possible that I’ll encounter some technical challenges on the way which may slow things down, but I think that everything is in order on the production side and any problems will be simple enough to fix.
Order fulfillment should be straightforward as well. Depending on the success of the campaign and scale of the work, I will either have the books delivered to my house and hire my daughter and her friends to prepare the mailings, or, if it goes to the moon, I will likely go through Fulfillment by Amazon.
I’m hopeful there won’t be problems with matching the original artwork to backers without upsetting anybody. I couldn’t find a system that automatically notifies backers when an original piece within a reward level is claimed, but setting up 36 different reward levels for each piece of art didn’t seem reasonable.
If Hedy gets super busy on a show, it’s possible there will be a delay in getting the original Fred sketches, but I think I left enough of a cushion to account for that possibility.
The main challenge I anticipate is time. I am a teacher and I have the summer to work on the campaign. Once the school year kicks into gear, I’ll need to shift focus to my responsibilities with students and school. I believe the heavy lifting will be done by then, but it’s possible the workload will slow things down.
In the end, I can say with confidence that the risks are low and the challenges light to moderate. Just hoping to reach and be energized by an audience that wants to see the project succeed. The rest is just work.
Thanks for your consideration and support!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (33 days)