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CA$ 2,118
pledged of CA$ 5,500pledged of CA$ 5,500 goal
40
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sat, September 12 2015 3:59 AM UTC +00:00
Last updated September 15, 2015

A Star-Reckoner's Lot

Ashtadukht is a star-reckoner. The worst there's ever been. — Historical fantasy novel of ancient Iran.

A Star-Reckoner's Lot

Ashtadukht is a star-reckoner. The worst there's ever been. — Historical fantasy novel of ancient Iran.

CA$ 2,118
pledged of CA$ 5,500pledged of CA$ 5,500 goal
40
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sat, September 12 2015 3:59 AM UTC +00:00
Last updated September 15, 2015

About

Greetings, and welcome to the Kickstarter for A Star-Reckoner's Lot, historical fantasy novel set in an analog of 6th-century Sasanian Iran.

Only a brave few storytellers still relate cautionary glimpses into the life of Ashtadukht, a woman who commanded the might of the constellations—if only just, and often unpredictably. They’ll stir the imagination with tales of her path to retribution. How, fraught with bereavement and a dogged illness, she criss-crossed Sasanian Iran in pursuit of creatures now believed mythical. Then, in hushed tones, what she wrought on that path.

In its nascency, A Star-Reckoner's Lot was only the idea of a character and her struggles. It began with an unnamed, grieving, unwell yet intelligent and capable woman who would eventually be called Ashtadukht—but that was a ways off. Thanks to books like the Shahnameh, the Hamzanama, and One Thousand and One Nights, a mystical world began to take shape around Ashtadukht. Inspired by the Shahnameh in particular, I chose to consolidate the mystical by consulting the ancient history of Iran, eventually zeroing in on the empire of Sasanian Iran.

Someone once mentioned (I think it might've been a tweet by Guy Gavriel Kay) that a lack of knowledge in a given subject can be especially glaring in writing. I took that to heart, devoting one and a half years to research. The path was staggering at times, but it was illuminating all the same. From poring over Zoroastrian religious texts to page-by-page readings of Encyclopædia Iranica volumes, I sought to soak up as much about Sasanian Iran as possible. What came of that is an appreciation for a powerful, thriving, culturally rich late-antique empire—an appreciation that enriches the story, and will hopefully inspire readers to learn more of the history behind it.

Now, I turn to you for support in getting Ashtadukht's tale out there. It is by no means the conventional sort of epic fantasy I'd feel comfortable pitching to publishers (if I felt inclined to kowtow to them to begin with). But I strongly believe it is a story that deserves to be told—a sentiment shared in earnest by my beta readers. It's also finished, editing notwithstanding, which means you won't be backing a ghost of a cause to be completed years from now. If all goes well, A Star-Reckoner's Lot will release by January 2016.

You can take a peek at the first three (unedited) chapters here.

A Star-Reckoner's Lot unfolds through glimpses of Ashtadukht's labors as a star-reckoner: mysterious ritualist-astronomers who beseech the war of the heavens for aid in dispatching divs. These divs are creatures beholden to depravity, servants of the Lie each and every one, and it is Ashtadukht's leniency toward them that earns her enormity as a star-reckoner. Owing to this, her volatile star-reckoning, and her unexplained illness, Ashtadukht never really catches a break.

If that weren't enough, she is also a widow. Her drive is seated in her quest to find the div that murdered her husband. I'd go as far as saying bereavement and grief are the book's main themes. The terrible grip of loss plays an integral, stubborn role in the events of A Star-Reckoner's Lot. The death of a loved one is something that sticks with a person for a lifetime, and affects them in ways they don't often realize. Sometimes it's too much to handle; sometimes the grieving process never ends.

(Stellar as it looks, it's only a mock-up.)
(Stellar as it looks, it's only a mock-up.)

A tentative (and extended) blurb for those interested in a more traditional approach:

Ashtadukht is a star-reckoner. The worst there's ever been.

She casts her lot in the celestial theatre, where the wicked planets set upon the all-giving stars. The luminaries revolve and reply. For Ashtadukht, the answer is often unpredictable. But she is a star-reckoner all the same, charged with rooting out divs: fey, fiendish creatures in service to the Lie. Where others kill on sight, she prefers mercy—even when faced with the tremendous loss of her husband.

Ashtadukht hasn't taken it well. World-weary, weakened by a dogged illness, and ostracized owing to her volatile star-reckoning and leniency toward divs, she is nevertheless intent on bringing the div who killed her husband to justice.What she sows on that path will eventually disperse like so much wind. But those who remember will relate cautionary glimpses into a lifetime of travels throughout the empire of Sasanian Iran.

They'll stir the imagination with tales of surreal lands where discorvery (the reprehensible state of not being a magpie) is frowned upon. Crackling with energy, they'll bellow accounts of colossal forty-armed divs wreaking havoc on the countryside, met head-on by Ashtadukht and her companions. Of blades gorged with justice. Then, in hushed tones, the disturbing truth behind why we yawn.

All this is brought to bear in tales that hearken to those of yore, and through these trials it comes to pass that Ashtadukht's journey in search of her husband's killer is much more complicated than she lets on.

Darrell has published three books, with A Star-Reckoner's Lot as the prospective fourth. He often finds himself inspired by his research to take on new hobbies. Birdwatching, archery, stargazing, and a heightened interest in history have all become a welcome part of his life thanks to this dogged habit.

When not dutifully scrawling novels, Darrell can be found petting his wife or bathing with his frolicsome cat. They're both spry and easily beguiled by green beans, so he often confuses the two when typing his biographies in third-person.

If populating a map for military conquest, it would be accurate to neatly place his tiny walnut idol—artillery, maybe—somewhere in Toronto, Ontario. His ammunition would be writing, reading, gaming, slumbering and catting; not the naughty whipping sort but activities involving cats. Catting.

I've decided on a modest goal both because I'm not a well-known name in any circle, and because I'd like to give this Kickstarter the best chance of succeeding. So what you're looking at is the bare minimum required to cover costs I will or have already incurred solely with respect to this Kickstarter. That doesn't include anything I've spent while researching and writing, or recompense for those years of work besides.

FUNDING BREAKDOWN

These are approximations.
These are approximations.
  • Of the initial $5,500, 10% will go to Kickstarter and processing fees. That shaves off $550, leaving us with $4,950 CAD.
  • Almost all costs have been or will be paid in US dollars, which reduces what we're working with to approximately $3,700 USD after conversion.
  • This will be further reduced by reward fulfillment—book printing and shipping—to about 30% of that: $1,100 USD to go toward the actual project. I could increase the prices of backer rewards, but at this point I think any increase would be unreasonable. $1,100 covers a good part of the up front costs, and I'm okay with settling the difference.

I've enlisted some talented individuals in an effort to achieve a polished enough release that A Star-Reckoner's Lot would sit comfortably on the shelves in your local bookstore.

THE EDITOR

Alice Leiper is a freelance proofreader whose experience includes business documentation, novels, short stories, essays and more. When she’s not working she’s catching up on the latest fantasy novels, writing stories of her own, or crocheting blankets and scarves.

She also boasts a bachelor's degree in Ancient History and Archaeology, and a master's in Classical Mediterranean, which will surely come in handy!

THE COVER ARTIST

Ruyi Yuen began her career in advertising, and was later a freelance designer and illustrator. She is currently a full-time mom and moonlights as an illustrator and comic artist.

Ruyi has worked with me on several projects now, the most notable being the cover of my second novel, Everautumn, so I'm both confident in her ability to deliver and comfortable working with her.

I've managed to keep this Kickstarter's goal as low as it is by doing some of the work that you'd normally need to hire an outsider for. Website design, e-book creation, and book formatting are all tasks I can confidently handle on my own.

A Star-Reckoner's Lot will be printed by Lightning Source, a division of Ingram dedicated to print-on-demand services. I've used them for all of my print releases, and am confident in their quality. They also have printing and distribution centers in the UK and Australia, which will help reduce shipping costs to those areas.

If your country is under "Rest of World", you may contact me for a more accurate shipping estimate. I strongly suggest doing so.

COÖKIES TIER $4 (~$3 USD)

  • Digital art pack: wallpapers featuring the cover art from A Star-Reckoner's Lot and my past novels for use on computers, tablets, and smartphones.

ORION TIER $15 (~$11 USD)

  • DRM-free e-book copy of A Star-Reckoner's Lot (.mobi, .epub, and .pdf)
  • Digital art pack: wallpapers featuring the cover art from A Star-Reckoner's Lot and my past novels for use on computers, tablets, and smartphones.

AQUILA TIER $35 (~$26 USD)

  • Trade paperback copy of A Star-Reckoner's Lot. (Extra shipping for backers outside of US, UK, and China. Contact me for more accurate and likely less expensive rates if in an unlisted country.)
  • Includes everything in the ORION tier.

CORVUS TIER $50 (~$38 USD)

  • Limited edition hardcover copy of A Star-Reckoner's Lot with dust jacket—only available through Kickstarter! (Extra shipping for backers outside of US, UK, and China. Contact me for more accurate and likely less expensive rates if in an unlisted country.)
  • Includes everything in the ORION tier.

URSA MINOR TIER $60 (~$45 USD)

  • Backers at this tier will receive a signed trade paperback copy of A Star-Reckoner's Lot.
  • Exclusive to the URSA and higher tiers, you'll have e-book access to the beta version of A Star-Reckoner's Lot before it even reaches the editor.
  • Two signed bookmarks featuring cover art from A Star-Reckoner's Lot.
  • Includes everything in the ORION tier.

URSA MAJOR TIER $75 (~$56 USD)

  • Backers at this tier will receive a signed, limited edition hardcover copy of A Star-Reckoner's Lot with dust jacket—available for order exclusively through this Kickstarter!
  • Exclusive to the URSA and higher tiers, you'll have e-book access to the beta version of A Star-Reckoner's Lot before it even reaches the editor.
  • Two signed bookmarks featuring cover art from A Star-Reckoner's Lot.
  • Includes everything in the ORION tier.

GEMINI TIER $125 (~$94 USD)

  • Backers at this tier will received a signed, limited-run hardcover copy of A Star-Reckoner's Lot with dust jacket—available for order exclusively through this Kickstarter!—and a signed trade paperback copy to boot.
  • Exclusive to the URSA and higher tiers, you'll have e-book access to the beta version of A Star-Reckoner's Lot before it even reaches the editor.
  • Two signed bookmarks featuring cover art from A Star-Reckoner's Lot.
  • Includes everything in the ORION tier.

$6,500 A poster featuring Ruyi Yuen's lovely cover art for A Star-Reckoner's Lot will be unlocked as an optional add-on in several sizes.

$7,500 Bookmark featuring A Star-Reckoner's Lot cover art unlocked as optional add-on.

$8,000 One-page in-book map by cartographer Gillis Björk. Check out his portfolio! Just look at that topography—pristine.

$9,000 All e-book copies of A Star-Reckoner's Lot will be upgraded to signed copies.

$10,000 Gillis Björk's in-book map will be expanded to a two-page spread.

$12,500 Alternative cover designed by Alexandru Negoita, video games industry Concept Artist and Art Director.

When the book is ready for print, those who've backed at the AQUILA and higher tiers will be given a choice of which cover art they'd like their book(s) to have. The new art will also be added to the digital art pack.

$15,000 Every tier from ORION and up will include DRM-free e-book copies of my previous novels: Within Ruin, Everautumn, and Where Madness Roosts.

$17,500 Unlock a t-shirt add-on to be printed by Teespring.

$20,000 Unlock a special $250 (about $200 USD) add-on perfect for collectors: an approximately 15cm (6.25") statuette of Waray (eccentric half-div, liability, and one of the main characters) concepted by Brian Soriano and adapted to sculpture by Spawning Pool Studios in a comic book style. It will then be casted, printed in polyurethane, and painted with laquers by the highly-regarded folks at Ownage.com. Their website is sparse due to high demand, but you can check out an example of the quality of their work here. These guys are cream of the crop.

The sculpted 3D model will also be added as a wallpaper to the digital art pack.

Pose and general concept to be adapted to statuette form by Spawning Pool Studios.
Pose and general concept to be adapted to statuette form by Spawning Pool Studios.
Another look at Waray courtesy Vusc. Much appreciated! Click through to visit the artist's website.
Another look at Waray courtesy Vusc. Much appreciated! Click through to visit the artist's website.

$23,500 Gillis Björk's map will be rendered in full color and a digital copy will be added to the digital art pack.

$35,000 Additional book cover illustrated by Adam Paquette, whose fantasy art has graced almost fifty Magic: the Gathering cards in the last five years.

When the book is ready for print, those who've backed at the AQUILA and higher tiers will be given a choice of which cover art they'd like their book(s) to have. The new art will also be added to the digital art pack.

Add-ons work like so: you calculate the price of your add-on and combine that with the price of your backer level when pledging. Once the campaign has ended, I'll e-mail you a request for your desired add-ons. So please be certain you have the correct e-mail attached to your Kickstarter account!

Example: You backed at the AQUILA tier, which is $35. You would like two extra paperbacks and live in the USA. The two paperbacks will run $40, while shipping will be an additional $7. Your total pledge will then amount to $82.

PAPERBACK | $20 (~$16 USD) + shipping (see chart)

(This empyrean mock-up is just that.)
(This empyrean mock-up is just that.)

For unlisted countries, you have two options: you can add $25 per book, or you can contact me for what will most likely be better rates. The latter is in your best interest.

HARDCOVER | $35 (~$26 USD) + shipping (see chart)

(Stellar as it looks, it's only a mock-up.)
(Stellar as it looks, it's only a mock-up.)

For unlisted countries, you have two options: you can add $25 per book, or you can contact me for what will most likely be better rates. The latter is in your best interest.

*Canadian rates vary wildly by location. I strongly suggest contacting me for more accurate rates.

Ramses B (Soundcloud, Youtube) for granting me permission to use a clip from his song, "Memoirs (Cinematic Version)", under the Creative Commons license at CC-BY.

Chris G. and GOH for kindly weighing in on my legal uncertainties.

Vincent Nguyen for putting his smooth voice to work in the video where mine failed so miserably.

Solice for general feedback and varied advice.

Michael J. Sullivan for his willingness to answer my Kickstarter questions.

Andrew Valkauskas for convincing me to use Kickstarter at all—a few reassuring words can go a long way. And for sharing his Kickstarter knowledge besides.

Vusc (website) for giving me permission to use her wonderful bust illustration of Waray.

Risks and challenges

Risks are minimal. A Star-Reckoner's Lot is ready for editing. There will be no years-long writing and research processes to put you through. You aren't funding an idea; you're funding the polish to be applied to an actualized idea. It is through you that the book becomes worthy of release.

I've formatted and published three of my own novels over the past five years, and in doing so I've earned a great deal of experience in the domain of self-publishing.

Short of an act of nature, you're safe with me!

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 4 or more About $4

    [About $3 USD]

    COÖKIES TIER: show your support! Buy me a box of cookies! I love me some cookies. In return, you get the digital art pack, which includes wallpapers of art from my novels.

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    Pledge CA$ 12 or more About $10

    [About $9 USD]

    EARLY BIRD ORION TIER: receive a DRM-free e-book copy of A Star-Reckoner's Lot (.mobi, .epub, and .pdf), and a digital art pack including wallpapers of art from my novels. You'll also save money by being an early supporter!

    █DIGITAL█

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    Pledge CA$ 15 or more About $12

    [About $11 USD]

    ORION TIER: receive a DRM-free e-book copy of A Star-Reckoner's Lot (.mobi, .epub, and .pdf), and a digital art pack including wallpapers of art from my novels.

    █DIGITAL█

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    Pledge CA$ 30 or more About $23

    [About $23 USD]

    EARLY BIRD AQUILA TIER: trade paperback print copy of A Star-Reckoner's Lot. Includes everything in ORION tier. You'll also save money by being an early supporter!

    █DIGITAL & PAPERBACK█

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    Pledge CA$ 35 or more About $27

    [About $26 USD]

    AQUILA TIER: trade paperback print copy of A Star-Reckoner's Lot. Includes everything in ORION tier.

    █DIGITAL & PAPERBACK█

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 45 or more About $35

    [About $34 USD]

    EARLY BIRD CORVUS TIER: limited edition hardcover copy of A Star-Reckoner's Lot with dust jacket—only available through Kickstarter! Includes everything in ORION tier. You'll also save money by being an early supporter!

    █DIGITAL & HARDCOVER█

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 50 or more About $38

    [About $38 USD]

    CORVUS TIER: limited-run hardcover copy of A Star-Reckoner's Lot with dust jacket—only available through Kickstarter! Includes everything in ORION tier.

    █DIGITAL & HARDCOVER█

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    Pledge CA$ 60 or more About $46

    [About $45 USD]

    URSA MINOR TIER: signed trade paperback copy of A Star-Reckoner's Lot.

    Exclusive to the URSA and higher tiers, you'll have advance e-book access to A Star-Reckoner's Lot before it even reaches the editor! You also get two signed bookmarks featuring cover art from A Star-Reckoner's Lot. Includes everything in ORION tier.

    █DIGITAL, SIGNED PAPERBACK, BOOKMARKS & BETA█

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    Pledge CA$ 75 or more About $57

    [About $56 USD]

    URSA MAJOR TIER: signed limited edition hardcover copy of A Star-Reckoner's Lot with dust jacket—only available through Kickstarter!

    Exclusive to the URSA and higher tiers, you'll have advance e-book access to A Star-Reckoner's Lot before it even reaches the editor! You also get two signed bookmarks featuring cover art from A Star-Reckoner's Lot. Includes everything in ORION tier.

    █DIGITAL, SIGNED HARDCOVER, BOOKMARKS & BETA█

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    Pledge CA$ 125 or more About $95

    [About $94 USD]

    GEMINI TIER: signed limited edition hardcover copy of A Star-Reckoner's Lot with dust jacket—only available through Kickstarter!—and a signed trade paperback copy to boot.

    Exclusive to the URSA and higher tiers, you'll have advance e-book access to A Star-Reckoner's Lot before it even reaches the editor! You also get two signed bookmarks featuring cover art from A Star-Reckoner's Lot. Includes everything in ORION tier.

    █DIGITAL, SIGNED PAPERBACK, SIGNED HARDCOVER, BOOKMARKS & BETA█

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Funding period

- (29 days)