It felt like jumping off a cliff.
I abandoned a high-paying office job to chase a dream. And this book is the result.
I know it sounds crazy, but becoming an author meant more to me than money or peace of mind. And as you’ll see, I’ve gone quite far on my own, but I’ve arrived at a threshold that can only be crossed with a team of faithful companions. Without you, I may have to turn back—abandon the quest.
It’s not like I’m failing though. First I went back to school for a master’s of English. I even studied under Brandon Sanderson for a semester. Then I wrote and published three books. My novel ECKSDOT has gotten an average of 4.7 / 5 stars on Amazon. Better than I expected. In many ways, my daring leap has paid off.
Now I’m an indie author. (Which is like an indie band but with more groupies.)
I’m living the dream. Well, almost.
See, as an indie, you have to be an artist and a businessman. And now I’ll admit something that makes me feel pretty vulnerable: After two years, I’m not making enough to live on. My budget is in the red each month, my savings are dwindling, and my dream is on the verge of collapse. But, again, the problem isn’t quality. It’s a matter of momentum. I haven’t reached the tipping point.
So I’m reaching out to you, my friends and backers. My future depends on you.
I’m on the fourth draft of a story called SONG OF LOCKE. It’s about a boy who takes a dare that leads him on a wild adventure to rescue a Goddess. It has already gotten great feedback, and it’s still three drafts from perfect. I know you’re going to love it. And I need your support to make it a reality—to fund the paperback edition so it can reach more readers. But I’m not actually asking you to back a book.
I’m asking you to back a dream.
When I was a kid, I obsessed over heroes—like Luke Skywalker and Avatar Aang.
And it just killed me when their stories ended.
I tried to fill the gap by collecting action figures and reading mediocre novelizations. I even made a wooden sword with a nailed crosspiece and took it on imaginary quests—trying to find more of that substance called adventure.
As an adult, I still have that drive. But now I’m furiously writing instead, trying to contribute to the library of legend (imagine Jack Black saying, “library of legend”—there you go). I want to make more of those stories I’ve always craved. And that’s where SONG OF LOCKE comes in.
Inspired by classics like Legend of Zelda, SONG OF LOCKE is the story of an ordinary boy. His tale begins when a bloodthirsty band called the Unstoppable Hundred passes through the Enchanted Forest. From a nearby hiding place, Picke—a musical spirit of air—dares Locke to follow the warriors. Little does Locke realize that this small, fateful choice will lead him onto a hero’s path. And, with just enough guts to begin, he soon finds himself on a quest to rescue a Goddess—something he never expected—and a marvelous adventure follows, one with ancient ruins, snarling wolves, magical swords, and dragon flights.
You know Brandon Sanderson—the guy who finished The Wheel of Time?
He’s my mentor.
Even if he’d never admit it.
I took his novel-writing class during my master’s of English. Probably all his students claim him as mentor, but isn’t it obvious that I—ha ha, and I alone—am his preeminent pupil? His critical feedback helped me polish ECKSDOT for publication, and he wrote this on the manuscript: “You are good with emotion and... have a good instinct of dramatic style.” (Here's his site: http://brandonsanderson.com/ And, no, he’s not officially endorsing this project.) As I mentioned, ECKSDOT launched to critical success. I’m telling you this to show I’ve worked hard to become a good writer.
But the truth is my success isn’t entirely mine. Several fine mentors have trained me—I've mentioned just one. Plus I have a secret weapon: I’ve recruited dozens of beta readers—amazing, smart people—to give me crowdsourced feedback. They’re top-notch, no kidding. They’re lawyers, English graduates, and Legend of Zelda experts. They’re people who’ve found typos in the Harry Potter books. Most importantly, they’re readers who love good stories. Their insights help me make each draft more polished and profound than the last, pushing SONG OF LOCKE from good to great.
Their feedback makes me confident you’ll love it.
And I’m going to invite some of you backers to join their ranks too—if you’re willing.
The ebook will be in your hands by Christmas 2014. Backers receiving ebooks will get both Kindle (.mobi) and Ebook (.epub) formats, DRM-free. The paperback will be shipped to you a month later, by the end of January 2015 (and possibly sooner).
Backers may be selected as "beta-readers" to provide feedback on the manuscript before it goes to print. This is a possible privilege, but not a guaranteed reward.
For the most part, each level includes all previous rewards, but there are some exceptions, so pay attention.
All backers will be listed in appreciation on jwashburn.com, where you’ll live forever for your generosity. Backers from the $55 reward on up will also be listed by name on the Acknowledgements page of the actual book (both ebook and print), so anyone reading SONG OF LOCKE will see your generosity. (Feel free to opt out or use your code name for these.)
I’m already close to finishing SONG OF LOCKE (which is why the funding goal may seem a little low). Your backer funds will primarily be spent on delivering the product (printing and shipping). The margin remaining after those costs will be used to pay for the typesetting and the cover illustration.
But I'm a dreamer, and there’s plenty of room to exceed the goal. After all, I have plans for a series:
- SONG of LOCKE: The Dark Empyrean
- Shilohe’s Song (a novella that tells the Goddess’s coinciding story)
- SONG of LOCKE: The Seven Isles
- SONG of LOCKE: The Revenant Sempiternal
If we reach $5,000, that unlocks Shilohe’s Song. I’ll send every backer the ebook of the Shilohe’s Song novella.
If we reach $20,000, that unlocks The Seven Isles. I’ll send every backer the Scroll 1 ebook of The Seven Isles (expect this in July 2015).
If we reach $35,000, that unlocks The Revenant Sempiternal. That means I’ll send every backer the FULL EBOOK of The Seven Isles, plus the Scroll 1 ebook of The Revenant Sempiternal (expect this in July 2016).
So share this Kickstarter with your amigos!
CALL ME INDIE
People ask me why I chose the indie route.
Being an indie is tough. But traditional publishing is tough too. Since both options were hard, I chose the more creative one. Now, instead of handing my completed stories to a corporation, I’m involved in the whole process—the writing, editing, typography, design, and publicizing. And I love it. I created the covers for all my previous books, and I designed the title typography for SONG OF LOCKE.
As far as style goes, I try to emulate the drama and pacing of Dan Brown, author of The DaVinci Code. I love how exciting his novels are, in spite of their being a tad formulaic. I like the short, punchy chapters, which make them easier to read. (As a kid, I never had a great attention span. Actually, I don't as an adult either.) I'm also a huge fan of Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park. His books are intelligent. His thorough research comes through in the details, and I always feel a little smarter after reading. And finally, I admire the depth of C.S. Lewis (my favorite of his is Out of the Silent Planet). Lewis gives you plenty to think about, even if he isn't particularly great with drama. I aspire to be a mix of these authors: exciting, smart, and profound. And I expect you'll find similar attributes in SONG OF LOCKE.
Special thanks to Lifeformed for generously letting me use his music on the video. Here's a link to listen to or purchase his Immerse album, which was used on the Double Fine Adventure documentary—well worth a few dollars:
Darko Tomic painted the fantastic cover illustration for SONG OF LOCKE. To view his work or hire him for your own project, go here:
I made a couple special wallpapers for you backers to download for free:
- SONG OF LOCKE Scroll Wallpaper (1920x1200)
- SONG OF LOCKE Wolves Wallpaper (1920x1200)
- SONG OF LOCKE Abyss Wallpaper (1920x1200)
Read a small preview from the novel you're backing here:
And, yes, that was a short sample. I'll email out a longer chapter to subscribers very soon, I promise. Get on the list here:
Risks and challenges
I hate when people write “nothing can go wrong” in this section. They have no imagination.
The zombie apocalypse could stop me from getting SONG OF LOCKE into your hands. (Don’t deny it—you know it's coming.) But if that happens, your main concern will be getting firearms and ammo so you don’t miss all the fun. An alien invasion could also disrupt the book launch, but only if I got infected by the swarm. Otherwise, I could work throughout. (Mostly because I won’t be worried about missing the zombie shooting gallery.)
Catastrophes aside, I will get the ebook into your hands before Christmas, and the paperback a month later. Is that plain enough? Delays are highly unlikely. This is my fourth book as an indie author. I’ve done it before, and with your help I’ll do it again.
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