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$2,126 pledged of $6,000 goal
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By S. R. Glines
$2,126 pledged of $6,000 goal
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About this project

The Story

At the height of the ice storm, Kitty Stevenson is having a heart attack. She realizes that she might die and becomes determined to tell her story before it is lost to history.

To her neighbors, Kitty is an eccentric, wealthy, complex, New York socialite, self-exiled to rural Canada.

Rural Canada, for Kitty, is a world of hardscrabble farmers, persistent born-again missionaries, and neighbors honest enough to be trusted.

When Kitty has her heart attack these worlds collide. Barb, her neighbor and confidant, becomes entranced as Kitty’s stories expose the difficult and often dangerous life she has led.

• She was there, in Munich, in 1938 when Neville Chamberlain declared “peace in our time.”
• She photographed the Dachau concentration camp.
• She was on her way to Vienna during the Austrian Anschluss and spent the night at a railroad siding as the German army took over Austria.
• She barely escaped Germany during a crisis by taking a Jewish refugee boat, steerage class, down the Adriatic Sea.
• She met Hitler at the Café Heck in Munich on Kristallnacht (The night of the broken glass).
• She helped sneak Jewish refugees out of Germany.
• She took the last German liner to New York before the war started and convinced the ship's captain not to return to Germany after Hitler ordered him to.

Meanwhile, Mandy Betts, a born-again missionary determined to convert Kitty, shows up with her bible thumping family and companions at the most inappropriate times. When Kitty's health takes a turn for the worse, it becomes a race to the end. Will Kitty tell the whole story before she dies? Will Mandy save her? Will she finally find peace?

Kitty Stevenson's passport picture 1937
Kitty Stevenson's passport picture 1937

The Background    

This book is a Roman a Clef. It began as a biography of a remarkable woman named Catherine Van Arnum Stevenson (Glines), who happened to be my mother. She was a women of indefatigable whimsy. Later I realized that not everyone's mother had her character molded by an austere French convent school where she had been placed by her aristocratic parents at age six. After the Great Depression ruined the family fortune she was told to find her own way home to America at age 14. This same woman went to Nazi Germany in 1937 to study opera and to spend money that had been left in German banks by her father, but blocked by Hitler. It was worth millions of dollars in today’s money.

In 1969 she moved, on a whim, to rural Poplar Hill, Nova Scotia, and within a few years had become the local social diva: entertaining the Governor General of Canada on the spur of the moment. She earned her Master Chef’s license at age 62 and was a doppelganger for Julia Child, with the same impressive stature, the same tall squeaky voice, and a fondness for cooking with wine. When she retired, she held a living wake that was attended by over 400 people, 2 TV news crews, 2 radio stations, and numerous print reporters from both the local and national media. Everyone who was anyone in Pictou County attended. She had her 30 seconds of fame on the national news that night. She survived a little over a year after the great ice storm, but died just two weeks short of her 80th birthday.

When I began to research this non-fiction biography, I discovered that the truth is something we remember selectively and the rest we invent as it suits us. I learned that some of her stories were better than what history recorded, while in other cases, what history recorded was far more dramatic than what she remembered. In writing this novel, I always chose the better of the two alternatives. Most of the characters are based on real or composite people found in the county of Pictou in Nova Scotia, Canada. I would like to thank Barb Rondelet and Vince Weston (and, of course, Kitty Stevenson Glines) for lending me their characters for this novel. I trust I have channeled them as the wonderful people they are. Still it must be remembered that this is fiction. All of the dialogue is made up as are most of the scenes and stories. In the end, this is a character study of a very remarkable woman, a woman both real and imagined, both down to earth and fanciful. It's a story I hope you'll enjoy.

Where the money will go:

This manuscript has been worked, re-worked and worked over again and has been read by several dozen people, all for free. While I've received a lot of good advice, there is no substitute for a professional editor. Professional editors get paid. In this case, Poplar Hill will cost $3000 - $4500. I hope that by end of this cycle, the manuscript will be in good enough shape to attract a major publisher. In any case, the remaining funds will go to printing enough copies of the book to satisfy you, my gracious supporters.

Budget:
Line editor             $3500
Copy editor            $1000
Book production    $1000 
various fees             $500
TOTAL                    $6000

Risks and challenges

The last agent to actually read the manuscript (or part of it anyway) said that it needed one more pass by a professional editor before she deemed it fit for representation. Publishers no longer edit the books they publish but expect the products presented to them to be pristine and perfect.

The largest part of this project involves hiring a professional editor. What could go wrong here? The editor might not perform the work in a timely fashion or not at all. That would be a drag, but not insurmountable. I could hire a different editor to finish the job.

It is my goal to get this manuscript in good enough shape to sell to a major publisher. This is the only way it will get reviewed by places like the New York Times, New York Review of Books, Kirkus Review and other places "of record." It doesn't matter how good the book is, if it doesn't get past the gatekeepers, it doesn't get read. I suppose this can always be overcome by enough money and bravura.

If this project succeeds in attracting a major publisher, then any remaining proceeds will be spent on publicity. If, however, the effort falls short, then self-publishing will be a final option. I have designed and published enough books to know the mechanics of printing, publishing, and distribution. I can get it printed, get it on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble web sites, and make it available to book stores, but I can't make them stock it or entice the public to want to read it. That requires a major publisher. Regardless, I know enough to be able to design and print all the books promised in this project.

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    My eternal gratitude.

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    A Poplar Hill poster, postcard & book mark

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    Limited "Galley" edition paperback copy. Signed, of course.

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    Pictou Special:
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    Signed draft of the book in manuscript form.

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    A signed limited "Galley" edition hardback copy

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    4 signed limited "Galley" edition paperbacks plus a Skype or telephone conference call to your book club.

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    A signed, limited edition hardback copy plus 4 signed limited "Galley" edition paperbacks with Skype or telephone call to you or your book club plus a signed, framed poster, 20 bookmarks

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Funding period

- (38 days)