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A journey across China and into the soul of a young American. A book of teaching, travel, and transformation.
175 backers pledged $11,808 to help bring this project to life.

About

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$11,808

175

Stretch Goal: Publicity, Marketing & Book Tour! 
Ordered by most backers. NYC area Backers have pulled into 3rd place.
   9k - San Francisco Bay Area [Done!]
 
10k - St Louis, MO [Done!]
 11k - New York and Washington DC (+ Claymont) [Done!]
 12k - Los Angeles, Seattle, and Portland

My name is Tony Brasunas. I've written a book and want to share it with the world, but I need your help. Please join me on the adventure—make a book with me!

At twenty-two, I had never left the United States, nor taught a class on anything. I applied with an organization called Princeton in Asia to go to China, and they sent me to teach English at a high school in the hot, huge city of Guangzhou. The journey that changed me forever, that broke open my heart and expanded my universe, that awakened my mind and taught trust in my intuition began there in a high school classroom in coastal China and culminated on the plateaus of Tibet. 

The story opens at Peizheng Middle School when 32 rambunctious ninth graders jostle into a classroom and gape at their school's resident celebrity. Utilizing game shows, skits, and oral reports, and playing folk songs on my acoustic guitar, it takes months before I stumble upon how to teach them English. Out in the streets, I am the student, force-fed lessons by an unfamiliar city: I get ripped off repeatedly in the markets, struggle as my ears open to Mandarin, and fall deathly ill in a hospital. Through survival, contemplation, and mouth-watering rabbit, an insatiable thirst to understand China drives me ever deeper into local life. 

After the school year, I leave the city behind and backpack across the Middle Kingdom by train, bus, and bicycle. I meet Han Chinese, Tibetans, Hui Muslims, and people of countless other ethnicities and walks of life. When China reclaims the British colony of Hong Kong, I march alongside the People's Liberation Army to clear Tiananmen Square. From there, alone and curious, my trail leads me to the Silk Road in the north and to the remote waterfalls of Tiger Leaping Gorge in the south. Beside a Tibetan monastery in Xiahe, after months of abiding by abstemious local rules of affection, I finally open my heart. 

A journey across China and into the heart of a young American, Double Happiness is a labor of love and a tale of transformation. It's a soulful and rugged adventure in an ancient kingdom during the complex and exhilarating time of modernization. 

The manuscript has been meticulously edited and revised, and it is complete.

A narrative cross between the courageous and risky Into the Wild and the humorous and introspective Eat, Pray, Love, the story of Double Happiness recounts a dauntless search by a curious young American far from his roots in this time of globalization. The book will appeal to adventurous people in their teens, twenties, and thirties seeking their place in a shrinking world. Double Happiness will also appeal to armchair travelers, to English teachers, to China followers, to intrepid backpackers, to Americans living in Asia, and to anyone interested in a young man's coming of age in a foreign land.

Why Double Happiness?

Double Happiness (囍) is an unusual Chinese character. It is formed by taking two of the normal character for "happiness" (喜) and pushing them together. This forms "double happiness," or shuang xi (雙喜), often written its own way: 囍. This character—and the notion "Double Happiness"—describes a happiness that comes from a union of two things. 

My story is about teaching and traveling, and the chapters of the book are interwoven in such a way that these two parallel experiences are united in the narration. Also, throughout the story is an underlying search for a union between two happinesses—the happiness that comes from one's desires fulfilled, and the happiness that comes from a delighted awareness of what already is.

What is the Point of the Book?

Were there just one point, I might have written a haiku instead of a book!

The story is about the power of humor and love and pain and discovery. It's a tale of trust and exploration—and finally what happens when we let go of our fears and follow our intuition. 

"Learning consists in daily accumulating,
The practice of the Tao consists in daily diminishing."
- Tao Te Ching, 48

How Does the Book Fit Into the World Today?

Double Happiness is a calm, quiet, humorous, incisive account of awakening by a young American. It is also a product and a reflection of our modern times. Thus, if we step back and look at the new globalism—the current movement to unite our planet's peoples, spread peace and prosperity more equally, and save our life-sustaining climate—the tale of an American going out into the world, learning it is far bigger than he thought, and being personally transformed by the experience is something that we as a planet of interdependent individuals can hear and celebrate. My hope today is that this transformation and others like it affecting people all over the world will overtake our planet and open us more deeply to love, wisdom, and peace.


This is the book's very first page:

To read the rest of the prologue, click here.

Watch Tony read the book's first chapter:

My name is Tony Brasunas. I love music, good food, soccer, the truth, laughter, solar energy, travel, open hearts, and curious minds. When I'm not writing, I'm programming websites at a solar energy company in Oakland, playing guitar and soccer with friends, and traveling with my wife. I grew up in an intentional spiritual community others might call a hippie commune in West Virginia. I went to a public high school in Atlanta, a conservative college in New England, and then I boarded a plane for Communist China. I didn't study politics in China, but the year I spent there awakened me, broke me open, and transformed my life. I've written this book to share my experiences there, and nearly ten years in the writing, it's now time to publish it into a beautiful and suitable volume. If you think you might like me, you'll probably like my book even more, and if you support publishing my book, I'll connect with you, send you some of the great rewards described at left, and the book will be much better because of your participation!

Kickstarter is the most popular form of "Crowd Funding" available today. Kickstarter allows creative people with a dream to directly approach people like you. You participate via Kickstarter in a creative dream and help to make that dream come true. Plus, you often come away with something creative and cool.

Kickstarter is the ideal path to publication for Double Happiness. At its heart, Double Happiness is a tale of adventure, and Kickstarter brings adventure to the process of publishing a book. It's a risk to put my dream here on this web page and hope people like you will see it and support it. I don't know who I'm going to connect with! And it was taking exactly this kind of risk that led to the journeys and discoveries Double Happiness is written to share.

Why Did You Choose the Amount, $8888?

This amount is the minimum I need to produce Double Happiness. Fortuitously, 8888, or 88-88, also happens to be a number the Chinese consider extraordinarily lucky. In fact the pairs of eights are considered to resemble and evoke the principle of shuang xi (囍)—"double happiness"—one meaning of which is the happiness that comes from the union of two things. So for Double Happiness, $8888 is both essential and lucky.

What Will You Use the Funds For?

The funds raised by this Kickstarter will cover the costs of designing and producing the book and bringing it to market. You will help me to:

  • Hire a book designer to create an e-book, a paperback, and hardcover.
  • Work with a cover designer to make a cover that looks great both in print and electronically.
  • Complete work with an illustrator who has begun drawing the maps.
  • Pay literary usage permissions for several copyrighted quotations.
  • Pay initial set-up fee for electronic publication. 
  • Cover the printing costs for the first run of books. 
  • Do outreach and marketing.
  • Create and ship the great rewards, listed at right, to your mailbox.


How Close Are You to Completing the Book?

It is done and complete. I've been working on it meticulously for a decade, and the manuscript is now finished and polished. I've edited and revised it extensively, as well as hired a professional editor to assist with narrative structure and a secondary editor to comb through the manuscript for grammar, style, and usage. The manuscript is done and complete. The time has come to publish it and share it with the world!

What Are Your Stretch Goals If You Raise More Than $8888?

Here we are, and your generous support has indeed brought us over the initial goal! I'm thrilled and will put more resources into creating a beautiful book, and, most of all, into marketing and distributing the finished product, so that it will reach more people across the world. Most exciting of all, I want to launch a Book Tour! I will add cities to the tour in order by Most Backers, so that I can see as many of you as I can and deliver many rewards in person! 

The current Double Happy Book Tour:
   9k - San Francisco Bay Area
  10k - St Louis, MO
  11k - New York and Washington DC (+ Claymont)

The cities I hope to add:
   12k - Los Angeles, Seattle, and Portland
   13k - Chicago and Atlanta or Boston

   15K - If we get here, I'll be able to do some serious, creative marketing of Double Happiness to spread the word far and wide! Plus two more cities on the tour. Plus I'll create Double Happiness 'Adventure Water Bottles,' for you to take on your own adventures. Have Fun, Take Risks, Stay Hydrated! This will be included for all GRAND HERO Backers and above.

My eternal gratitude for visiting this page, considering this project, watching the video, and supporting Double Happiness. Everything about this book is a work of gratitude. I am first and foremost grateful that I had the opportunity to travel to China, to teach there, and to travel further—into China, and into myself. I'm grateful too that I lived to tell the tale. I thank the universe every day for the adventures, the fun, the lessons, the challenges, the forgiveness I found there. It is with this gratitude that I wrote Double Happiness and that I stand before you today seeking your help in publishing the story. The journey hasn't always been predictable, and certainly hasn't always been easy, but it's always made me more fully awake, conscious, and alive. 

My goal with Double Happiness is to express my gratitude by sharing what I learned, so that anyone who might find my experiences and lessons useful—including the many who may never be able to travel to China—can discover that most of our suffering is unnecessary and that a path to a deep and lasting happiness is available to us all at all times.

For My Chinese Visitors, Guests, and Backers

中國人民以及世界各地的朋友們:

非常感謝您們。謝謝您們維持一個強大美麗的5000年文化。謝謝您們歡迎我在貴國任教。我學到了很多關於您們和我自己。

為了講述我的故事,表達我的感激之情,我寫了一本書。這本書的書名叫《紅雙喜》。如果您想支持我的話,請選擇一個支持的級別,然後點擊按鈕,就這麼簡單。

非常感謝您的支持!

一路顺风!

Explore, Connect, Contribute

If you are interested and haven't already, click the links above—'share' Double Happiness, 'tweet' Double Happiness, and connect with me and the book via www.Facebook.com/DoubleHappy and www.DoubleHappy.be.

And please pick your favorite reward level and fund Double Happiness at the highest level you're comfortable with.

Once again, thank you.

Risks and challenges

The most challenging part -- writing the manuscript -- is done. After ten years of work on my own and with several editors, it is complete. If this Kickstarter fully funds, the book will be published this calendar year, 2013. I won't fail, nor be delayed, barring acts of god or massive tragedy.

Of course, challenges can always arise in life, files can be deleted, printers can go bankrupt, trucks carrying books can drive into rivers. Should such tragedies unexpectedly befall this project, I will promptly keep all Backers informed by replying to all comments and questions posed to me and by updating this page often.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 12 or more About US$ 12

    TRAVELER (旅行者) - A pre-release e-book of Double Happiness. Plus a personal Double Happy thank you on the website and a secret link to watch a video of Tony playing the full song he plays in the video—Gudu de Liming (Lonely Dawn). Plus Tony's eternal gratitude.

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    Pledge $22 or more About $22

    TEACHER (老師) - One pre-release e-book of Double Happiness for you, and one for a friend. Plus a special 囍 thank you postcard in your mailbox thanking you in Chinese and English. Plus the video, the thank you, and Tony's eternal gratitude.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    ADVENTURER (冒险家) - A pre-release paperback book of Double Happiness, signed by Tony and stamped with his red zhang (name stamp). Plus a special 囍 thank you postcard in your mailbox thanking you in Chinese and English. Plus the video, the thank you, and Tony's eternal gratitude.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    PATRON SAINT OF HAPPINESS - Acknowledgement and Celebration! For your generous support, your name will appear in the acknowledgements printed in the book and e-book. You will also receive an invitation to the Double Happiness Launch Party & Celebration. Plus everything for the Adventurer, and five additional 囍 thank you cards to send to others and spread the happiness.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    GRAND HERO OF THE TAO - The beautiful hardcover of Double Happiness, pre-release and signed by Tony and stamped with his zhang. Plus a double happiness blessing package, which features a red Chinese envelope with two of the gold chocolate ShuangXi coins featured in the video. Plus everything for the Patron Saint of Happiness.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    SAGE OF HAPPINESS - Everything for the Grand Hero of the Tao, plus one additional copy of the book. Your choice of hardcover, paperback, e-book, audiobook—or one of the *Galleys*, advance copies of the book made for reviewers, of which only 25 exist. Galleys will arrive earlier than anything else, shipping in July, so this is your chance for a sneak peek and to read Double Happiness first.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    SILVER SAGE OF LEARNING - Everything for the Sage of Happiness, plus two 30-minute Chinese lessons for you or a friend, taught by an American who has taught both English and Chinese as second languages (Tony). The lessons can focus on reading, writing, or both. Plus a second invitation to the Celebration, for your guest, and ten additional 囍 cards. (Lessons happen in person in the Bay Area, or via skype video otherwise).

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    GOLD SAGE OF WISDOM - A unique ornate name poster will be created for you by Tony by writing your name in Chinese (or the name of someone you choose) on an ornate poster. Plus a meet-and-greet skype or phone call with Tony: Let him brighten your day and get all of your questions answered on a delightful double happy call! Plus everything for the Sage of Happiness, plus an additional pre-release edition, for a total of three copies of Double Happiness. Your choice of hardcover, paperback, e-book, audiobook, or advance galley. (For additional copies, add $25 each.)

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    DRAGON OF LETTERS - Tony will read and constructively critique the first 10,000 words of a manuscript (yours or a friend's), and provide detailed feedback on structure, pace, style, and grammatical usage. Plus everything for the Gold Sage of Wisdom, including the unique poster and the meet-and-greet, plus three additional pre-release signed editions, for a total of five copies of Double Happiness, one of which Tony will optionally donate to a library of your choice or send as a gift with a 囍 thank you card to a friend.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    SOARING DRAGON OF THE MIDDLE KINGDOM - Delve into China and Chinese life with Tony. Three one-hour sessions for you or a friend. You may choose Chinese language lessons or cultural history, food, and politics. Plus a delivery to your home of fresh oranges and other traditional Chinese gifts on Chinese New Year next February! Plus everything for the Gold Sage of Wisdom, plus two additional pre-release signed editions, for a total of five copies of Double Happiness. (Sessions happen in person in the Bay Area, or via skype video otherwise).

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    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    SILVER DRAGON OF SHINING BEAUTY - Tony writes a Chinese song about you! The song can also be about your occasion, or about some special person of your choosing. He records it for you, and also performs it at your house, office, club, boat, theater, cafe, restaurant, bookstore, or party, anywhere in California. He will also optionally do a reading from Double Happiness, perform the Chinese song in the video (Gudu de Liming), or do a 30-minute written and spoken Chinese lesson for you and your guests. Plus everything for the Gold Sage, 50 囍 thank you cards, and two additional pre-release signed editions of the book, for a total of five. (The amazing event can happen outside California by adding $500 for Tony's travel costs, or via internet video).

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    Pledge $888 or more About $888

    GOLD DRAGON OF THE TAO - In gratitude for your amazing support, Double Happiness will be dedicated to you. You will be the person (or one of two, if there are two) to whom the writing and publication of Double Happiness will be dedicated. Words of your choosing will appear at the front of the book in the dedication. Plus everything for the Gold Sage, 50 囍 cards, and five additional editions of the book, for a total of ten, one of which Tony will optionally donate to a library of your choice or send as a gift with a 囍 thank you card to a friend.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    EMPEROR OF ONE THOUSAND DELIGHTS - You're in the book! You're having dinner with Tony! A minor character in the book will be named for you or by you, at your choosing. Tony will treat you to a sumptuous dinner at one of the best Chinese restaurants in the Bay Area, where he'll teach you how to write and read common characters, pronounce common phrases, and how to order food in Chinese. Plus everything for the Gold Sage, 50 囍 cards, and five additional editions of the book, for a total of ten. (The amazing event can happen outside California by adding $500 for Tony's travel costs).

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    EMPEROR OF EAST AND WEST - Travel to China with Tony! All expenses paid, you will spend three nights in Guangzhou, visiting the school, the temple, the park, and other locations in the book and meeting the characters. Plus a Chinese song written, recorded, and played for you in China. Plus everything for the Gold Sage, 50 囍 cards, and five additional editions of the book, for a total of ten.

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Funding period

- (27 days)