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Strange Monsters is a CD project of original short fiction and poetry read by actors and set to original music.
Strange Monsters is a music and words collaboration of imaginative fiction and poetry set to original contemporary jazz.
Strange Monsters is a music and words collaboration of imaginative fiction and poetry set to original contemporary jazz.
79 backers pledged $5,025 to help bring this project to life.

About

Strange Monsters--a Music & Words Collaboration project video thumbnail
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Strange Monsters--a Music & Words Collaboration

$5,025

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NOTE: Shipping to the United States is free for all backer reward levels.

NOTE²: We've added new rewards! Check out our monster-themed stuff below!

Listen to the first finished track, "The Stink of Horses," about a cursed dancer, two dudes who fight over her, and Anton Chekhov. Originally appeared in Hobart. Note: This story contains some strong language and sexual content.

Read by Christopher David Taylor, Matthew Lee Schipper, Bonnie Stufflebeam, and Benjamin Henry. Music by Mike Luzecky, Lane Garner, Zach Forsyth, and Devin Eddleman.

See more about who we hope to bring into the project under "The People" below.

About Us

We're a writer-musician duo: I'm Bonnie Stufflebeam, fantastical fiction writer/poet with stories in magazines such as Lightspeed, SmokeLong Quarterly, Clarkesworld, Room, and Interzone. I also run the annual Art & Words Collaborative Show in Fort Worth, Texas, for which I ran a successful Kickstarter in 2012. I work in marketing for a small press, which gives me a leg up when it comes to getting the word out about my projects.

My partner, Peter Brewer, is a jazz trumpet player, composer, and audio engineer. While receiving his Master's from University of Oregon, he discovered a love of recording and has since focused on building a home studio in Denton, Texas: Easy Brew Studio. During the day, he works as a recording engineer for University of North Texas' College of Music, which basically means he gets to sit and listen to music all day. But I'm not jealous.

The Art & Words Show, now in its 4th year, was our first Kickstarter success.
The Art & Words Show, now in its 4th year, was our first Kickstarter success.

Having organized collaborations through Art & Words, we're big fans of creative people reaching across genres, but we've unfortunately not been able to do much cross-genre collaborations ourselves. We originally recorded "The Stink of Horses" as a stand-alone. I asked some actor friends to read the story, which originally appeared on Hobart, live at Easy Brew Studio. Peter wrote a jazz arrangement of Tchaikovsky's  Sleeping Beauty Waltz. Some of our musician friends came in and recorded a couple takes. Peter then mixed the words and music. (Listen to the end result above.) We were thrilled with the result, so when the musicians involved encouraged us to continue the work, we decided to put together a CD project and repeat the process for other stories.

Contents

The CD project's title, Strange Monsters, is from my favorite May Sarton poem, "My Sisters, O My Sisters." The poem's about women who write and how they are so often "strange monsters," in that they give up what was once seen as a woman's greatest goal--a highly domestic life--in order to have a strong voice. This CD's not about that.

I've always been inspired by four lines from that poem:

And all women who have wanted to break out
Of the prison of consciousness to sing or shout

Are strange monsters who renounce the treasure
Of their silence for a curious devouring pleasure.

-May Sarton "My Sisters, O My Sisters"

While I love the original poem, those four lines have always spoken to me on so many levels, and I've applied them to all women. So often women who renounce or reform the traditional domestic life are *seen* as strange monsters, as outsiders, even, as is the case with many women who choose not to have children or not to marry, as selfish.

Thus, this collection is about the struggles of women and their voices, whether that be their sexual voices, creative voices, domestic voices. The women in these stories have renounced or are renouncing their silence, and I want to explore how that makes them "monstrous" and, like May Sarton, revisit the idea of a monster. May Sarton uses the term as an endearment, albeit one that acknowledges the often-tragedy of these poets' lives. Monsters are complicated, and sometimes those we think of as monsters are only seen that way because of how we're taught to see. All of these stories challenge the idea of who the true monsters are. Plus, since I write fantastical fiction, there are often literal monsters.

In all, the album time should run 60-70 minutes.

1. "The Stink of Horses"--originally appeared in Hobart
2. "Mrs. Stiltskin"--originally appeared in Lakeside Circus
3. "Skeletons"--originally appeared in Room
4. "Where You Came From"--originally appeared in Three-Lobed Burning Eye
5. Poetry Compilation--including "The Werewolf" (originally in North Texas Review, soon to be reprinted in Penguin/Everyman's Library's Human and Inhuman Monsters), "Strange Monster" (originally in Mythic Delirium), and "The Ferryman" (originally in Goblin Fruit)
6. "No Eyes"--originally appeared in Psychopomp

For each story, we'll once again hire actors to read. Peter will compose music, which will then be played by local jazz musicians. Peter will do all the recording, mixing, and mastering, which will ensure that this is a relatively inexpensive project, making the frugal part of me happy.

The People

Thanks so much to the actors who read "The Stink of Horses" and to the musicians who played the music (named above). Also thanks to Kris Goto, who agreed to let us showcase her work.

While we're at it, we'd like to address the male-centric lineup of musicians and actors. The story we chose has one female character and three male characters. Also, since we weren't able to pay the musicians up front, we felt most comfortable asking Peter's closest friends to play the music. We love these guys; they're phenomenal, but we do realize that it's hypocritical to have a project about women's voices without women working on it. The rest of the stories have female narrators, and we look forward to recruiting some female-identified actors. We've also asked a great pianist and a great clarinetist to work with us, making sure we have at least half male and half female voices.

The Funds

The bulk of money will be spent paying the people involved and producing the CD itself, which we can't do in house. We're hiring an artist--Kris Goto--to do the cover art. She's going to base her design off one of her previous works:

All of her work is this cool
All of her work is this cool

The level of marketing we can do depends on the stretch goals. Right now, if we fund at $5,000, we'll be able to send out some review copies and, personal funds depending, place an ad in a small zine or get creative online. If we hit our first stretch goal, however, we'll be able to up the level of marketing we can do and the level of exposure our project receives. I'm looking forward to trying out what I've learned from m day job on a project of my own.

We're purchasing a distribution package from the CD manufacturers to ensure that our album will be for sale on Amazon, CD Baby, and a select few other venues. We don't expect to make much money from this project; our main goal is to put something cool out into the world, something we're excited about, something we can show people as an example of our work.

We'll be financing about 10% of the project using our personal funds. Since most of our writing and Easy Brew income go right back into our art, 10% is about the maximum amount we can handle without going back to our ramen-eating college days.

The Rewards

NOTE: Don't see the package you were looking for? Write in the comments or email Bonnie to discuss add-ons (Bonnie.Stufflebeam@gmail.com).

Just added 7/24/15!

Kris Goto's original album art! This piece will be smaller than 14" by 17". (Exact size unknown; Goto hasn't yet completed the piece.) The art will be similar to the image below--we asked her to use it for inspiration--but not the same. Goto is a highly-talented artist, and we're confident that whatever she comes up with will be amazing. Own the original Goto Strange Monsters art for $400!

The inspiration for Kris' as-yet-unfinished album art
The inspiration for Kris' as-yet-unfinished album art

Just added 7/17/15!

Book Wreath made from pages of Bonnie's stories. Perfect for the holidays or anything of the year!

Just added 7/5/2015! 

Postcards from Otter Illustration. For $5, we'll send you a handwritten thank-you postcard. For $25 we'll send you three blank cards with your CD! (Choose your design when we send out the Kickstarter backer survey email).

For $35, we're offering one of five hand-strung bracelets with wild animal charm. I made these one-of-a-kind, so if you'd like a specific design, leave your request in the comments, and I'll divvy them up first-come, first-serve.

For $35, get a hand-painted rock monster magnet with your CD order. For $21, get a smaller, bottle-cap monster magnet:

For $40, get a hand-sewn monster pillow!

Made from cotton and felt
Made from cotton and felt

Or for $40, get a handmade, hand-painted clay monster musician--your choice!--with your CD package. These guys were designed and sculpted by Peter and Bonnie. You can also snag a full set for $125! Or be surprised and order the Monster Grab-Bag at $45 and get one surprise clay monster, two rock monster magnets, and three bottle-cap monster magnets.

Meet the monster band!
Meet the monster band!

And if you just want to throw a vote of confidence our way, we've got "The Stink of Horses" available for download for just $1!

Our hope is that people will look at the Kickstarter as a way to preorder our CD. But we're also offering several Kickstarter exclusives, including a companion document (available in PDF and printed formats) with behind-the-scenes photographs and each of the short stories in word-form all in one place. We'll be offering an abridged Story Companion as a PDF on the Strange Monsters webpage, but what makes the Kickstarter version exclusive is more content: more photos, more information, and even one Stufflebeam short story that won't be available anywhere else, a fairy tale retelling chosen by one Kickstarter backer at the $300 level.

I paint mugs in my spare time. What of it?
I paint mugs in my spare time. What of it?
We've got more fun stuff: bags of tea, embarrassing baby photos (just for you, Cousin Teresa), more Peter Brewer originals, signed scores of the music, original art by Jennifer Stufflebeam, recording time at Easy Brew Studio, Skype conversations with the creators, emoticon mugs designed by Bonnie (photo above--colors and style of mug may vary), story critiques, a home-cooked picnic... 
What an Orange Day by Jennifer Stufflebeam, 36x12, acrylic on canvas
What an Orange Day by Jennifer Stufflebeam, 36x12, acrylic on canvas

Stretch Goals

If we raise more than the stated $5,000 goal, we'll enter stretch goal territory!

The faces we'll make before we eat our celebratory dinner
The faces we'll make before we eat our celebratory dinner
  • $6,500: We'll be able to really up the level of the project at this level. We'll get to pay people more, splitting about $500 of this among the 10 or so actors and musicians involved. (We can even bring some more in at this level!) We'll also be able to market our album, sending out a lot of review copies, placing a couple of ads, and renting a booth at at least one convention.
  • $6,550: Buy Peter and Bonnie a celebratory dinner! :D
  • $7,500: We'll be able to commission an original piece of art for a 4-panel insert in the CD
  • $8,500: We’ll expand the insert to include photos of the session inside the CD case, making it a 6-panel insert
  • $9,500: We’ll be able to include a 12-page insert with commissioned art, more liner notes, and two additional pieces of commissioned art 
  • $10,000: Anything raised above $9,500 will go towards saving for our next CD project, a space-inspired album, to be completed when we recover from the first project.

Thank You!

Thanks so much for your support! It means a lot.

KickingItForward.org

Risks and challenges

The number one risk is that something will hold us back from releasing the album on April 1, 2016, whether that be unforeseen illness, catastrophe, natural disaster, etc. This is unlikely; we've given ourselves an abundance of time to account for anything unforeseen that may arise. But if it does, we'll keep everyone updated throughout and get the work finished as soon as we can.

There's a small chance that the set list above may change a little. We timed each story and planned the album with some leeway, but once the actors get in there those times could change. The set list above is our ideal, but we may need to swap one out to account for timing issues, since we can only fit 80 minutes of content on a CD.

We promise to be open about any and all obstacles and issues, to work as hard as we can, and to do the absolute best that we can.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

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    The Sampler

    MP3 download of "The Stink of Horses" track (linked above) and listed as supporter on webpage

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    The Whisper

    MP3 download of "The Stink of Horses" track (linked above) and listed as supporter on webpage + we will whisper your name in the studio and email you the recording

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    The Can-You-Read-Our-Handwriting? Package

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    Clutter-Free Digital Package +

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    Simple CD Package

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    Monster Magnet

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes PDF photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage +hand-painted bottle cap monster magnet (choose your design in the backer survey email)

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    Tea Time

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes PDF photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + two surprise bags of tea

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    Otter Illustration

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes PDF photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + 3 blank postcards from Otter Illustration (your choice)

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    Story Time

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    Monsters of the Wild

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes printed & staple-bound photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + surprise hand-strung beaded bracelet w/animal charm (pictures in "rewards" section"--feel free to request a specific bracelet in the comments, first-come-first-serve)

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    Rock Monsters

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes printed & staple-bound photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + hand-painted monster rock magnet (choose your design during backer survey email)

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    Jazz Lover

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes printed & staple-bound photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + MP3 downloads of 5 Peter Brewer original tunes

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    Clay Monster

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes printed & staple-bound photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + one handmade, hand-painted clay monster musician figure (choose which one you'd like in the backer reward survey)

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    Cuddle Monster

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes printed & staple-bound photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + hand-sewn monster pillow

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    Monster Merch Grab-bag

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes printed & staple-bound photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + Monster Merch Grab Bag: randomly-chosen clay monster, two rock monsters magnets, and three bottle cap monster magnets

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    Familial Embarrassment Package

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes printed & staple-bound photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + Embarrassing Baby Photo Booklet

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    Coffee Monsters

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes printed & staple-bound photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + two emoticon coffee mugs (pictured in description)

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    Wreath Monster

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes printed & staple-bound photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + one wreath made from pages of Bonnie's stories (pictured in description)

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    Scores!

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes printed & staple-bound photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + signed scores of Peter's music from the album

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    Recording Lite

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes printed & staple-bound photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + 2 hours recording time at Easy Brew Studio & 3 hours mixing (must be in Denton, TX)

    (All recording time packages can be scheduled any time after August 1st, 2015; the rest of the reward will still arrive April 2016.)

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    Writer Package

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes printed & staple-bound photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + short story critique from Stufflebeam (up to 7,000 words)

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    Conversation Package

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes printed & staple-bound photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + hour-long Skype conversation with Peter and Bonnie: we can talk music, writing, marketing, recording, etc.!

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    A Band of Monsters

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes printed & staple-bound photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + full set of handmade, hand-painted clay monster musician figures

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    Recording

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes printed & staple-bound photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + 6 hours recording time at Easy Brew Studio & 8 hours mixing (must be in Denton, TX)

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    Idea Package

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes printed & staple-bound photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + you choose the fairy tale Bonnie retells for the Kickstarter-exclusive story

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    Art Lover

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes printed & staple-bound photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + original art by Jennifer Stufflebeam (pictured in description)

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    Art Monster

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes printed & staple-bound photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + original of album art by Kris Goto

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    The Local Package
    (Must be in or around Denton, TX)

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes printed & staple-bound photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + home-cooked vegan picnic

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    Recording +

    Strange Monsters physical CD + digital album download + behind-the-scenes printed & staple-bound photo book/story companion w/Kickstarter-exclusive Stufflebeam story + listed as supporter on webpage + full album production at Easy Brew Studio (in Denton, TX). Peter will record, help arrange/produce, mix and master your full length CD project. Backers must provide their own transportation and lodging if not located in Denton.

    (All recording time packages can be scheduled any time after August 1st, 2015; the rest of the reward will still arrive April 2016.)

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Funding period

- (30 days)