Return to innocence and the summer of 1979.
Mrs. Edelstein called it a turning point last year in English class --
when something changes drastically, like in a book or a movie, and
nothing is ever the same again. Except, everything is still the same
here. Marmalade’s still chewing my shoelaces, Audrey’s still my sister,
and Grandma’s still in a nursing home instead of in her own home,
instead of home with us.
Maybe I’m still waiting for my turning point.
-Gold in the Days of Summer
Pledge to back the book now and level up on the rewards!
She'd planned her entire summer vacation in the early days of spring: bike riding through fields, swimming at the community pool, and sharing secrets beneath the backyard tent. But the summer of 1979 doesn't turn out to be at all what 12 year old Annie expected: her best friend is away at camp, Connor Bartlett barely notices her anymore, and her family, trying to protect her from the reality of her grandmother's illness, only seem to further isolate her.
Struggling to navigate the crossroads of young adulthood, Annie turns to an unlikely confidant: a reclusive young veteran at war with his own past.
As the summer days pass and her 13th birthday edges closer, Annie discovers that growing up has little to do with age and everything to do with letting go and moving on.
Originally begun as a series of short stories entitled The Annie Summer Series and posted to my personal blog, Gold in the Days of Summer has undergone a massive overhaul and numerous revisions over four years to become a standalone novella.
Gold in the Days of Summer is being self-published to paperback and digital editions to be available for the most popular e-readers.
So why should you back Annie?
Perhaps you are Annie, trying to navigate the bridge between childhood and adolescence as hints of adulthood slips between the two. Or maybe you're Audrey, trying to protect her little sister while trying to assert her own independence. Perhaps you're Connor Bartlett, Annie's crush who would rather be playing basketball with his brothers down the street than trying to figure out what it means to be growing up, or maybe you're Annie's best friend Ava, unaware of the changes even as they're happening.
Whoever you were, whoever you might be now, or whoever you're on your way to becoming, this is the story of our youth.
Behind the Fiction
Gold in the Days of Summer began as a short story collection posted to my personal blog beginning in 2008 in an attempt to return to my passion for creative writing. The series centered around a 12-year old girl during the summer of 1979 in which she struggles to make sense of her ever-changing world.
Had anyone asked me then where I thought it might lead, I might have shrugged and said, "nowhere." It started out as a single-scene story in an effort to get those muses back to work, but that single story led to another, which led to another, and, soon, I was embarking on a personal journey of discovery and healing that I hadn't even realized I needed.
I believe every artist leaves a piece of themselves behind in their work, and every writer imprints a part of themselves on their characters. But I didn't realized just how true this was until Annie began to speak to me and tell me a story so similar to my own; I didn't realize how easy it would be to replace fictional 1979 Annie with the very real 1994 Susan.
In writing Gold in the Days of Summer, I began to realize that Annie's story grew from an innate longing for nostalgia, from my fear of growing up and the inevitable changes that follow, and from the barrage of emotions I wasn't able to articulate as I watched my mom's mother fade away, crippled by the onset of Alzheimer's Disease, stripping her of her memories and, eventually, her very sense of self.
This novella is without a doubt a work of fiction, but it is grounded in reality -- my own reality -- as stories often are. It's my greatest hope that you connect with Annie, her family, and her friends as dearly as I have.
Alzheimer's Disease has personally affected my life and those of my family in ways we could never have foreseen. This book is dedicated to my grandmother who died of the disease after a long illness in 2004.
It always seems impossible for me to find the words that accurately conveys my sense of gratitude, but that gratitude for each and every single one of you is deep and abiding. Whether you were early supporters of the series through your feedback and encouragement or you're new to the novella and are excited to see this project come to life through a pledge, my appreciation remains unrelenting.
It has been a long road to get to this point -- it's terrifying and exhilarating all at once, and I'm thrilled to be taking this next step with you.
When will the book launch?
I'm aiming for a spring publication, with an official launch date of July 12, 2013.
Why then? That's the date of Annie's first diary entry, as seen at the beginning of each section of the book. The beginning of her summer journey seems to be the perfect parallel for the beginning of our own.
But it's so far away...I know, I know. And part of me wishes I could rush this whole process and publish it yesterday, but life has a way of throwing obstacles our way, so I want to be as prepared as possible while giving myself a much-needed time cushion (see the Risks and Challenge section for more). Also, this is my first book and I want to get it right -- or as right as possible -- for both myself and for you all as backers and readers.
Gold in the Days of Summer isn't a full-fledged novel, but rather, due to its word count, structure, and content, is more of a novella. That said, there isn't much of a market in brick-and-mortar stores these days for novellas, and short story collections -- as this book was once imagined -- have had difficult success despite its favoritism in early literature.
As publishing is very much a business, agents and publishing houses alike are less willing to take chances on new authors without a strong platform consisting of already-published writing, known and reputable sources, and credible indications of future success -- a catch-22 if there ever was one.
Self-publishing has gained more respect in recent years as more writers are bypassing these houses to take control of their own storytelling and careers, and the advent of e-readers has made connecting directly with readers even more appealing.
While I'll always believe in traditional publishers for their reputation, resources, and credibility, and while I believe wholeheartedly in Annie's story, I'm aware that the chances of finding a publisher willing to take on a) a previously unpublished fiction writer and b) a novella wherein the market for novellas are weak seemed slim to none.
Additionally, I don't believe I could reach the audience I'm looking for if I were to publish traditionally. Annie has always been about community for me, and the ability to connect directly with readers makes self-publishing seem that much more promising.
Is this a YA book?
In the same way that titles such as The Giver, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, and Catcher in the Rye can be listed under the YA genre due to their young protagonists, so could Gold in the Days of Summer. However, much like the above titles, due to its content, themes, and style of prose, I would also classify the book more as literary fiction. This bit of ambiguity is yet another reason why I've chosen to self-publish.
Who will read it?
You, I hope! Gold in the Days of Summer may be suitable for readers of all ages (recommended 10 and up).
Kickstarter has built a reputation for being the place for community-backed creative projects, and from day-one, when it was then the beginning of a fiction collection on a personal blog, telling Annie's story has been centered around readership and community.
I've done a lot of research into what funds are necessary for the successful launch of a self-published book, and when I crunched the numbers, $4,500 seemed to be a respectable minimum for how much I would need in order to cover all aspects of publication and marketing.
Over the past year and a half, I've covered the costs of editing and design, but, unfortunately, I'm no longer in a position to fund the project myself. Deciding to launch this campaign was incredibly difficult; however, I've always believed in the power of community and I believe in this story. I can only hope that you'll find this book and experience rewarding, and I appreciate any support you're able to offer.
Where will the money go?
All funds pledged to this project will be allocated to the book's production and promotional/marketing costs. This includes:
- All-inclusive paperback book development
- Limited Edition hardcover development*
- E-book development
- Web design
- Promotional/marketing and launch materials
- Administrative costs
- Initial print run
*Limited Edition hardcover copies are subject to reception, publisher capability, and funds for this project. If the project exceeds its goal and hardbound copies are possible via the publisher, all contributors pledging $50 or more will receive this hardbound edition in addition (whew!) to their reward packages.
Will this novella ever grow into a novel or series?
While the original title of the project, "The Annie Summer Series," once indicated a series of short stories centering around Annie's life, as a novella, it has reached its conclusion. I can't definitively say that this is the last we'll ever hear of Annie, as she -- and subsequently her world -- is very much a part of me. Pending reception of the project (and some cooperation from the muses), there could be more of her story to tell; however, at this point in time, I feel confident that due to its restructuring and numerous revisions, the novella can serve on its own.
However, keep an eye out on Annie's favorite social media spots across the web to learn more about her, her family, and her life before and during 1979!
Annie's Going Social!
Twitter and Facebook may not have existed back in 1979, but today they're a thriving social experience, and Annie Summer has joined in on the fun!
And be sure to stay tuned for the website, launching Winter 2013!
Want to know more about Annie and Gold in the Days of Summer?
Sign up for the Beyond The Book newsletter for an exclusive, beyond-the-book look at all things Gold in the Days of Summer, including monthly summaries of Annie's social sphere, an insider's look into the writing and self-publishing processes, and occasional personal updates and tell-all insights into the book itself.
The Fine Print
(Disclaimers and legalities regarding this Kickstarter campaign.)
The video above was created for the promotional purposes of this Kickstarter funding campaign only and is not for commercial use. All pictures were obtained from Flickr, Getty Images, or my own personal family album under the Creative Commons/Royalty Free licenses. Please message or email me for a complete, titled list crediting photographs and their respective authors.
The song used is Don Mclean's "American Pie."
Risks and challenges
The publication of "Gold in the Days of Summer" has been in the works for over a year, yet personal challenges have seen it delayed by months at a time. After being diagnosed with and undergoing treatment for late-stage Lyme Disease for the past six months, motivation wavered as my strength became severely depleted. Still, Annie remained constantly on my mind.
Having my words read, especially via a story as deeply personal as this, has always been my dream, and it is in coming closer than ever to seeing this dream reached that has propelled me forward through my recovery.
Because I am still in the beginning stages of treatment, I can't predict the timeline for this project as accurately as I would like. I can assure, however, that it has always been my intention to give this book and all that goes into its publication and launch the attention and detail I believe it deserves.
If funded, I'm prepared to adhere to a timeline that will see the book publish in the spring and officially launch in the early summer of 2013; however, as I'm aware of my own limitations at the moment, I'm also prepared for greater flexibility so that I can produce the best possible quality book and experience for potential readers and backers alike.
Thanks in advance to everyone for their understanding of the risks and challenges involved in this project! It's my greatest hope that the rewards will be well worth it.
* * * * *
To learn more about my experience with Lyme Disease, please visit my personal blog at www.twentyorsomething.com/lyme-chronicles/.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (24 days)