Grace from Outer Space
A female-driven, scientifically factual, picture book for kids. Help us turn it into an app and give girls a pro-S.T.E.M. role model.
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So, who is this 'Grace from Outer Space' character and why did you write this story?
Plain and simple, I want to get young girls interested in astronomy, science, and technology. I want to help inspire the next generation of women to explore careers in science, tech, engineering and math. Currently, only 24% of all jobs in S.T.E.M. are held by women.
It's a pretty lofty goal, but I believe getting more women into S.T.E.M careers is not only crucial to the future success of America, but critical to the future of humanity as a whole. It's that important.
I asked myself how I could make a difference, and I thought about the role models that influenced me as a child. I realized that many of them were fictional characters from stories. Looking around at the characters marketed to little girls today, I can't help but see a giant black hole (pun intended): while there's a plethora of princess, ballerina, and fairy stories for girls to choose from, there's not a single female-driven science-based book.
As a children's entertainer for the last 10+ years, I have first-hand experience in this arena, but I know that girls can be just as interested in science and astronomy as boys. The mainstream market hasn't given them the chance.
I think by introducing scientific concepts at a young age through the vehicle of 'Grace from Outer Space', we can help foster an interest in astronomy in little girls and give them the confidence and excitement to learn about and excel in scientific fields.
Awesome! (I know, right?!) But what exactly IS 'Grace from Outer Space'?
'Grace from Outer Space', or GfOS if you're into acronyms, is a rhyming picture book story for kids about ages 4-8 years old. It's a slice of life story, depicting what it might be like for a little girl to live on a space ship with her family. It's full of wonder, imagination, and best of all, scientific facts!
In reading the book, kids will learn through the eyes of our curious heroine. Some of the ideas introduced by 'Grace' include the concept of black holes, the speed of light, and dark energy.
How do you know the science in GfOS is correct? Did you check your facts?
Yes, indeed! I got a lot of my inspiration (concepts I found to be interesting and exciting) from obsessively watching 'How the Universe Works,' Carl Sagan's 'The Cosmos', and reading books by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Despite what I've learned, I knew I needed to check the science I wrote into GfOS. As it turns out, there is a scientist in my family: my cousin, Lauren Brewer, is an Astronomy graduate student at San Diego State University. Here's what she had to say about the project:
This is a stellar idea (pun intended) and the illustrations look super cool!
Why, thank you! I concur. I searched all over for the perfect illustrator for GfOS. I knew I wanted digital artwork with a contemporary look. I wanted artistry that would instantly appeal to kids: someone with a vibrant, quirky, and imaginative style.
I stumbled onto this digital art site called Dribbble and found the portfolio of Mike Davis. I saw his vector drawing titled 'Super Astronaut Lady' and instantly knew this could be my illustrator.
Luckily for me, upon emailing Mike about the GfOS project, he was very excited about it. The icing on top of the cake? Mike has three daughters of his own! He looks forward to showing them that space is amazing, science is awesome, and smart girls are cool.
Is this just a picture book?
This is way more than a simple picture book. I finished writing the story and thought, "How can I have this futuristic story about a girl living in outer space, filled with cool concepts, gadgets and rockets, and NOT turn it into an app?!"
So, that's what I want to do: I want to turn GfOS into an interactive eBook application for the iPad (and hopefully Kindle Fire, too, should the budget allow for it).
The base budget will give us enough to have Signus Labs make this happen. The team at Signus Labs, who've created interactive and gaming content for many top companies and brands, will build the app and turn the illustrations into these neat, interactive pages. If we surpass the initial budget, we may even be able to include mini games! But more about that later...
$66,000 seems like a lot for one book/app. Where is all the money going and how are you qualified to handle it?
It is a lot of money, yes. I'm happy to explain:
- The majority of the funds are going straight to the production of the app, the most costly part of the project. A team of coding geniuses, with experience making apps similar to the high quality, interactive app I envision for GfOS, does not come cheap.
- The illustrations, of course, are the other most crucial part of this project. Funds from the goal are going to pay the illustrator for his work.
- We'll also need an official website for GfOS.
- In addition to the coding and creative assets, I need to account for reward costs. I did my best to include many rewards that are low cost, or only cost me my time, but a good deal of the rewards will require production and materials.
- Finally, I included some extra funds in case there are miscellaneous needs along the way; if there are any surprise costs, it's better if I am able to handle them head-on with a slight surplus than halt progress altogether because I don't have the funds to deal with it.
You may also find confidence in knowing that for the last seven years I have been completely self-employed as a successful small business owner. I've executive produced my own album and music video, and managed a large cast of performers. My work as a sole proprietor/independent songwriter/recording artist has given me hands-on experience in knowing how to plan, manage goals, and execute ideas.
That's cool. Anything else planned?
To quote my young friend from the video, "Are you kidding?!" I have so much planned for GfOS I can barely sleep at night.
If we exceed the initial goal, it then becomes possible to do even more with the project, such as add mini games to the app, and record a soundtrack of original space-inspired science songs, including the GfOS theme song! Here, check this out: it's a little acoustic clip of me singing and playing the theme I wrote...
I've also written the second installment of GfOS, an adventurous narrative which introduces her school life, hilarious sidekicks and cool gadgets, and interesting characters from around the galaxy.
I'd love to see 'Grace' as an animated series, a live show, and more. Basically, if this project is successful, I can continue to develop new content for GfOS and, just like the ever expanding universe, the possibilities are endless.
Wow... those are some BIG ideas.
Yes. Yes they are, but I believe in this concept. While it was scary to enter that five-digit number up there, I knew I had to take a chance on 'Grace'... not for me, but for the leagues of little girls (and certainly, little boys, too) who will find inspiration in this story, in this character, and from that, possibly alter the course of their lives.
That's a big deal. And that makes it entirely worth putting this out there, to all of you, and asking you to help me make this happen.
Where's my space suit? I'm in!
Woohoo! Here's what to do: start by looking at the Stellar Reward Levels to the right and picking the one you want. We've come up with many cool rewards for you, our backers, such as a customized avatar of YOUR FACE by our illustrator! Seriously, how cool would that look on your facebook page?!
Several of the backing levels are limited edition or very exclusive, but we also have fantastic rewards starting at just $1!
Good luck with 'Grace'! May the force be with you.
That's a different space story, but I appreciate the enthusiasm.
Actually, this brings up a good point: even if you can't back us financially, you can be a "force" to help us succeed. Here's what you can do:
- Share the project on facebook.
- Share the project on Twitter.
- Email the project link to friends, family, bloggers, parents, S.T.E.M. enthusiasts, your astronomy club, that girl down the street who loves cosplaying as Jane Jetson, astronauts aboard The International Space Station, etc.
- Connect with us on facebook and Twitter ('like' & 'follow' us).
- Subscribe to our YouTube channel where you'll find more videos of cool kids talking about 'Grace'.
3, 2, 1, LIFTOFF!
I think that about covers it for now, so here we go! Thanks for taking some time to learn about this project (wow! you read that whole thing? really? you're rad). I hope you liked what you saw and that you'll join the interstellar adventure and help us launch 'Grace from Outer Space'!
Visit us elsewhere online:
Risks and challenges
Certainly, there are risks & challenges with every project, but I don't foresee very many. A couple that I can think of just off the top of my head include...
- Possible development delays: App development could take anywhere from 3-6 months, and because I am having a separate illustrator create the graphic assets, instead of the app developers themselves, there may be some challenges in coordinating the two.
- Delays in and changes to illustrations: In all collaborations, there are bound to be some compromises and changes that need to be made in the creative process.
To combat these challenges from the get-go, I'll make sure the whole team is communicating effectively on what each one of us other needs from one another and that we all have a clear and concise vision of the finished product.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)