What We Are
The Dream Foundry is a registered nonprofit focused on creating a community and shared culture for all creators working in the speculative arts. We have a special focus on nurturing beginners in the field, giving them access to the information, tools, and people they need to learn, grow, and succeed in their work. Most of the resources available encourage isolation that makes it hard to learn the norms of other areas. This hobbles expansion into new opportunities and provides a major obstacle to networking with experts in those areas. This is a significant gap. We’re filling that gap.
What We Already Do
Right now we have two major projects underway. The first is publishing weekly content on our website with articles that range from craft advice from professionals, to business advice from the people who’ve been there, to news from across the industry.
The second program we’re running is our Official Media Exploration Club, featuring discussions led by compensated professionals. A cross between that college seminar that cracked open fresh insight for you and a discussion club for enthusiastic nerds with similar interests, each cycle of the OMEC picks a single theme (the current one is “Found Families”) and then looks at six different works in six different formats that tie into that theme. The OMEC discussions are lead by working professionals who will address the craft of the piece as well as its context in the industry. This is a great chance to see how different formats enhance and constrain craft, what the needs and strengths of each medium are, and how our colleagues from other parts of the industry engage with their craft, while we talk about how we engage with ours. The discussion leaders for the OMEC are compensated for their time and expertise.
We’re not quite one year into a five year plan, and so far, we’ve hit or exceeded all our major milestones and metrics. We want to keep up that momentum, and plan to enhance and expand our program offerings in the upcoming year.
What We’re Going to Do
We’re aiming to rule the world! Sort of. Very nicely.
Base funding for this Kickstarter will give us what we need to maintain our current publication schedule, producing a magazine of industry news, interviews, and how-to articles, as well as our free to attend discussion series for a full year. But, that’s not all we want to do.
Our five year plan includes a contest for beginning professionals as a cornerstone program. That contest is committed to offering a substantial cash prize, a fully funded (as in, free for attendees) workshop, and a showcase of the winners’ work. Year 0 for that contest, aka our “dress rehearsal” year, is slated for 2021. We’ve had so much support and success so far, we’re going to try for a “read through” year in 2019. William Ledbetter and Sara Felix have signed up to act as the administrators for this version of the contest. We’ve broken out the contest expenses across several stretch goals, increasing the chances of running something, while giving us the options to make it shinier and snazzier as funding and support allow.
Details, including guidelines and timing, will be posted in June, if we fund.
Other stretch goals include everything from expanding our infrastructure to have a more robust, snazzy web presence, increasing our outreach, extending programming funding beyond the one year mark, recouping our startup costs, and paying our staff.
$2,000 – Basic Funding! Dream Foundry publishes our content for one year, and creates an ebook of that content. We also continue the OMEC discussion series at no cost to participants for one year.
$5,000 – We’re Pretty! We’ll expand our (currently very minimal) art budget, and upgrade the look and feel of our space to use custom designed layouts made for our unique needs.
$7,500 – Proactive Outreach! The thing about wanting to help beginners is that the people who you want to help aren’t necessarily going to know you’re out there trying to help them. After all, they’re beginners, and that intrinsically means they don’t know everything. This level will let us to have outreach events at conventions, schools and educational institutions, and online.
$10,000 – More Content! More interviews, cooler tutorials, plus advice and reflections from people breaking into their fields right now as well as old hands with the long view and benefit of experience. This level will also come with an increase to the rates we pay for our content.
$15,000 – Staff Stipends! We’d like to pay the people who are currently giving us their professional labor for free. From webmastering to community management, editorial work on the website to graphic design and layout, the breadth and variety of effort and support being gifted to us is heartening and wonderful. What’s even more wonderful is valuing the work we receive so that even people who can’t afford to work for free can participate. This level of funding enables us to provide a token payment to all our staff. This one really, really matters to us.
$20,000 – Contest! At this mark, we can run a very stripped down version of the contest, where we’ll take a look at the work and portfolios of the beginners in our industry and fork over a snazzy prize for the best of the batch. William Ledbetter and Sara Felix will administer it, and at this level, will be on their own for making the selections.
$25,000 – Better Contest! If you like the idea of running a contest, you’ll like this version of it more. Shinier, snazzier, and with (compensated) judges! Mark Oshiro and Rachel Quinlan are already on board as judges if we hit this level. Did you know that most contests like this don’t compensate their judges? We didn’t until we started researching it. Giving back is great, but being able to pull from a pool of people who can’t afford free labor is critical to making sure the people judging our contest represent the people we want entering it.
$30,000 – All the Shiny! At this level, we’ll publish a showcase with the contest winners on our website and include that showcase in our annual ebook. Staff stipends will have a meaningful increase, and we’ll be able to go back and pay for some work donated to us during our startup.
A hidden benefit to each funding level is this: Our long-term plans involve leveraging grant money for a lot of the shiny, expensive things we want to do. However, those grants want to see performance and support on our own before we’re eligible to be considered. So for every dollar we raise here, now, in 2019, we have a stronger case when applying for grants in 2020, and the closer we’ll be to making year 0 in 2021 absolutely smashing. We’re only announcing plans up to $30,000 right now, but we have plenty more we can and want to do, if we wind up with the resources to do them.
We’ve got some really great rewards available for our backers. Don’t just take our word for it, look for yourself:
- Thank You! We’re appreciative, and no matter how much you gave us, we want you to know that. We'll be listing the names of donors on our webpage, as a way to show our gratitude. (If you don’t want your name listed, let us know. We’re happy to send grateful warm fuzzies to you invisibly instead.)
- Forum Badge: Get a shiny badge attached to your user account to display on our forums.
- Thank You Video: Anaea Lay and Cislyn Smith, our president and secretary, sometimes combine into a singular, multi-embodied entity made of banter, silly hats, and performative teasing. Just for you, and everybody else who gets the video, they’ll induce this phenomenon and record it.
- Bookmarks: Whether it’s the latest space opera or the a deep-dive tutorial on Photoshop filters, books are a thing, and marking them needs to happen. You’ll be instantly 8% more organized upon taking ownership of one of these things.
- Tentacle Monster: These were popular during our auction last fall and they’re baaaaack. Hand crafted by our very own Coral Moore, Board Member and Social Media Manager extraordinaire, don’t let this chance to get your pawns on a creepy, cuddly creature for you, or the entity with good taste you know just has to have one of these.
- Crocheted Creature: If tentacles aren’t quite what you need, go for a crocheted creature made by Cislyn Smith. Each is unique, but guaranteed to have eyes, legs, and a path straight to your heart. It just might burrow through your chest to get there, is all.
- Ebooks of the Content: We’re putting up content on our website every week. Backers who support us at this level will get an ebook with our first year of content.
- Stickers: Space Dragon sticker! Who needs to say more?
- Voicemail Messages and More: If you like hearing awesome people, we've got some treats lined up for you! Charlie Jane Anders, award-winning author and co-host of the Our Opinions are Correct podcast, will record a voicemail for you. Tina Connolly, host of Toasted Cake and narrator extraordinaire, will read an affirmation of your choice, so you can listen to it anytime you're feeling blue. At these tiers we are ready to fill your ears with great things.
- Artist Hangout: Want to chat with professional artists like Rachel Quinlan, Alex Tagkali, and Marcelo Gallegos? Join this hangout and you’ll do that very thing. Note: The time for the hangout will be scheduled at the conclusion of the campaign and will not be before September.
- T-shirt: Likely the most requested merch item we haven’t yet made, they’re finally here. Put that space dragon on your chest and wear it with pride!
- Manuscript Critique: Available on a first come, first served basis, indicate which you want in your backer survey. We'll update this section to reflect current availability as quickly as possible. Cassie Alexander, critique of either the opening 10,000 words of a novel or cumulative short stories for theme, pacing, characterization, within thirty days of manuscript receipt. SB Divya: critique of up to 4,000 words with a two week turn around. Anaea Lay, critique of up to 8,000 words of a single project within 30 days of manuscript delivery. Benjamin C. Kinney, critique up to 6,000 words of a science fiction or fantasy short story, within 2-3 weeks of manuscript delivery. Phoebe Barton, critique of up to 5,000 words of a science fiction story with a two-week turnaround. (IMPORTANT NOTE: Manuscripts critiqued as part of a backer reward will get NO special consideration in this or any future Dream Foundry contests. All critiques are offered by the individuals in their personal capacity as industry professionals, not as an official service of the Dream Foundry.)
- Readercon Dinner: Are you going to be at Readercon, or nearby? In that case, come have dinner with Anaea Lay, Cislyn Smith, and Julia Rios. The food’s on us, and we’ll go somewhere yummy.
- GenCon Dinner: Are you going to be at GenCon, or nearby? In that case, come have dinner with agent Lisa Rodgers and Dream Foundry president Anaea Lay. The food’s on us, and we’ll go somewhere yummy.
Who We Are
Our board is currently filled by Anaea Lay, Cislyn Smith, Deanna Rymaszewski, Coral Moore, and Evergreen Lee. Professional expertise on the board ranges from project management to non-profit management to accounting.
Jen Grogan, a corporate and freelance editor, is our Content Manager. Kelly Frodel, freelance editor and fiction writer, is on our proofreading team. Stewart Baker, academic librarian, is our webmaster.
Ferrett Steinmetz (author), KT Bryski (podcaster), and Rachel Quinlan (illustrator) are our first three discussion leads for our Official Media Exploration Club. William Ledbetter and Sara Felix are on board as contest coordinators.
We are more than the sum of our parts. We are each of the hundred volunteers who have stepped up and given their time, thoughts, skills, and wisdom in the last year. We are the speculative arts community and we are proud to be shaping and expanding the community with our work here.
Bios for Manuscript Critiquers
Cassie Alexander is an author and a registered nurse. She's the author of the Edie Spence urban fantasy series, beginning with Nightshifted, Moonshifted, Shapeshifted, Deadshifted, and Bloodshifted. She's also had short fiction published as Erin Cashier, the most recent of which is 'Fifteen Minutes From Now' in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
Anaea Lay lives in Chicago, Illinois where she is engaged in a torrid love affair with the city. She’s the fiction podcast editor for Strange Horizons, and a freelance developmental and structural editor specializing in science fiction, fantasy, and romance. Her fiction work has appeared in a variety of venues including Lightspeed, Apex, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Pod Castle. Her interactive novel, Gilded Rails, was released by Choice of Games in 2018.
Benjamin C. Kinney wears three hats of equal magnificence. First, he's the assistant editor of the Hugo-nominated science fiction magazine Escape Pod. Second, he's a neuroscientist, with nonfiction appearing in Clarkesworld, Baen.com, and Putting the Science in Fiction from Writer’s Digest Books. Third, his own science fiction and fantasy short stories have appeared in magazines including Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Flash Fiction Online, and many more.
S.B. Divya is a lover of science, math, fiction, and the Oxford comma. She enjoys subverting expectations and breaking stereotypes whenever she can. Her novella Runtime was a Nebula Award finalist, and her short stories have been published at Analog, Uncanny, Apex, and other magazines. Her writing also appears in the indie game Rogue Wizards. Divya is the co-editor of Escape Pod, a Hugo-nominated weekly science fiction podcast, with Mur Lafferty. She holds degrees in Computational Neuroscience and Signal Processing, and she worked for twenty years as an engineer before becoming an author. Find out more about her at http://www.eff-words.com or on Twitter as @diyvastweets.
Phoebe Barton is a queer trans science fiction writer who, as a result of an edge-city Canadian upbringing, has a lot to say about cold and isolated places. Her stories have appeared in Analog, On Spec, Persistent Visions, and multiple anthologies, and she's currently writing a work of interactive fiction for Choice of Games that's becoming way longer than she expected. She lives with a robot in the sky above Toronto.
Our logo, featuring the extremely cool space dragon, was designed by Autumn Evelyn. It was modified for this page by Rachel Quinlan.
Risks and challenges
All things come with risk, but we’ve planned, prepared, and mitigated things as thoroughly as humanly possible, and may have called in some supernatural assist in the process. We’re in a position to keep doing what we’re already doing for the long haul, with plans to cultivate additional sources of funding and eventually have ourselves established enough that we retire Kickstarter from our funding toolbox. At this point in time, our biggest risk is that one of the people filling a critical role gets hit by a bus. (We are documenting process and procedure as they develop so that rogue busses don’t cost us institutional knowledge we can’t afford to lose.)
The riskiest phase for us will be the transition point between expanding our program offerings and receiving the funding to pay for the support and labor. We’re being careful to limit the roles and aspects that depend on a single individual, but until we have a reliable budget with which to demonstrate our appreciation for the work we receive, we’re subject to the vagaries and challenges of the spare time and availability of our volunteers. This is a problem we’re actively seeking to thwart with the plan for this Kickstarter.
Most of the backer rewards we have lined up already either exist and we have them in hand, have been confirmed with their providers, or have been scheduled with a generous cushion of time for fulfillment. The t-shirts are the one physical item which could involve a slight delay, as we'll be ordering them once we know exact quantities and sizes. Disasters happen, so there's always a risk that a hangout or appointment with a pro could go awry. We'll do everything we can to reschedule or find a substitute if that happens. We will be responsive and communicative every step of the way through the kickstarter and after. We tested our fulfillment process with an auction last fall, found our approach to be broadly successful, and have tweaked and improved our plans based on that experience.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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