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An enhanced e-book with interactive maps, mini-documentaries, and murder! QTG is a historical fiction mystery set on the Oregon Trail. Read more

Eugene, OR Fiction
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This project was successfully funded on July 16, 2013.

An enhanced e-book with interactive maps, mini-documentaries, and murder! QTG is a historical fiction mystery set on the Oregon Trail.

Eugene, OR Fiction
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About this project

Quitting The Grave is my self-published novel, which I am releasing in an enhanced e-book format accompanied by interactive maps and mini documentaries on the history of Oregon and the Oregon Trail.


I've added two bonus rewards. These added rewards are retroactive, meaning that if you've already pledged at the right amount, you'll get these bonus rewards as well

At the 5 dollar level or above, you'll also receive my previously published collection of microfiction, Picasso Painted Dinosaurs. 

At the 20 dollar level or above, you'll get the pre-release version of my upcoming mash-up novel, Ahab's Adventures In Wonderland. Moby Dick has been stealing carrots again. Captain Ahab has vowed revenge, and he will follow the White Rabbit all the way to Wonderland in order to make it happen.

These bonus rewards are in addition to all the great prizes that were already available. So please, contribute today. Every little bit helps!

What is QTG about?

Eugene, Oregon. October, 1999. After three graves robberies--in each case, the abducted corpse was a John Doe--the police have few leads and little interest in the story. Caya Blumenshine, a reporter for the local newspaper, canvasses Eugene, questioning anarchists, wyccans, and politicians, until her search hits upon a secluded house on the outskirts of the city. Its owner, Alexander Hilyard, a history-writing hermit who hasn't been seen in years, may be involved in the grave robberies, or may have been the most recent victim.

As Caya digs deeper into the mystery, she becomes absorbed in Hilyard’s controversial narrative of Eugene's earliest residents and their cross-country journey from Indiana to Oregon in the summer of 1846. She realizes that the recent crimes may somehow be linked to events from 150 years in the past. And she discovers people may be willing to commit murder to prevent Caya from unearthing their long-buried secrets.

Why Kickstarter?

I've finished the novel and gone through several revisions, to the point where I'm finally ready to publish. But the changes undergoing the publishing industry have led to my decision to go the self-publishing route. I believe strongly that continuing technological advancements, coupled with the increasing marginalization of the traditional publishing houses and agent system, means that we are at the forefront of a new way of producing, distributing, and consuming literature. Although I'm sure there will be many bumps along the way, I am firmly committed to going it on my own.

Quitting The Grave is intended to be more than just an e-book. Perhaps something is lost when we're no longer able to hold a printed book in our hands or display our library on our shelves at home, but there's so much to be gained at the same time.

As my first entirely original novel, Quitting The Grave will take full advantage of its digital format. This Kickstarter will help me raise the money to travel the Oregon Trail along the same route as my protagonists in the book and conduct interviews with historical experts on the characters and events of the historical section of the story. I'll also be able to record the geography of the trail, providing readers with a greater sense of what it would have been like for the early pioneers.

I'm going to travel from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Eugene, Oregon over the course of a month, with stops at Fort Sutter in Sacramento and Fort Vancouver outside of Portland. Once finished, I'll compile the interviews and footage into a series of one- to two-minute documentaries on the history of the Oregon Trail that will be included in the enhanced e-book version of Quitting The Grave.

Why should I care?

I think that I've got a great story. It's a murder mystery. It's an examination of a small western city and the clash of cultures at a time just before the Seattle Riots. It's a look back at how that city was founded, and the way history, even when it's forgotten, still endures in a place. And it's got all the crazy characters that make Eugene such a unique city: anarchists, wyccans, corrupt politicians, grave robbers, eco-terrorists, and more!

Whenever I read a great work of historical fiction, I know my first tendency is to ask, "Did this really happen? Which parts are real and which parts did the author make up?" I have no doubt that readers of Quitting The Grave will be asking themselves the same thing. That's why I think it lends itself so well to this experimental new approach to book publishing.

Your support for my project will help me produce a new kind of novel. I'm sure that I'm not the first person to do a project like this, but I honestly haven't heard of any. Like the pioneers who first traversed the wild expanses of middle America to get to the west coast, I feel like I'm embarking on an adventure of my own. I'm hoping with your help, I'll be able to create a whole new kind of reading experience that takes advantage of the technologies of the 21st century. I'm super excited and I hope you are too.

What I Really Want To Know Is...

Yes, I've got some pretty sweet rewards for backers.

In addition to options that include pre-release versions of the e-book, you can also get an exclusive, signed hard copy of the book. The only way to get this edition of the book will be through Kickstarter. I'm also offering an Oregon Trail T-Shirt that reads "You have died of dysentery" that I'm sure will prove nostalgic for anyone who grew up with the computer game.

T-shirts provided by Teelaunch
T-shirts provided by Teelaunch

There's also a couple of high-end rewards for the biggest donors. If you live within an hour of my route along the Oregon Trail*, I'll come visit you on my trip and take you out to a meal. Better yet, you can actually appear in one of the short documentaries. I'll be making a couple of 'easter egg' shorts that you'll have the chance to appear in--perhaps as a fake historian talking about one of my fictionalized characters, or maybe as one of their descendants. This is your chance to be a part of Oregon history.

*If you're interested in one of the top rewards, message me to find out my exact route and we'll work out the details.

Thank You!

I super appreciate you taking the time to consider my Kickstarter. Thanks a million!

Risks and challenges

A major challenge to finishing the project in the available time will be lining up the interviews with historians and experts. I will only have a limited amount of time to be able to travel the whole route, so the schedule will be tight. To overcome this obstacle, I will first prepare diligently beforehand, trying to schedule as many of the taping sessions before I begin the trip. But even if an interview is missed because of unforeseeable conflicts, I can get the footage I need and do the interview over the phone and use it as a voice over. Obviously this isn't ideal, and will only be resorted to when all else fails.

At the same time, because these are meant to be short, informative mini-films on the history of Eugene and the Oregon Trail, the project is not dependent on meeting with any one particular subject. The real star of the project will be the trail itself, and the historical markers and museums along the way. My plan is to get as much footage as possible during my trip, and then assemble them into the documentaries in post-production.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter


  • The number one question I get asked when I tell people I’ve written a novel about the Oregon Trail is whether I’ve played the computer game. Of course I’ve played the computer game! Everyone has played the computer game!

    That’s why as one of my Kickstarter rewards, you’ll receive a sweet t-shirt with a covered wagon on it that reads ‘You have died of dysentery.’ What better way to show your love for the Oregon Trail.

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  • I love Oregon for its off-brand coffee shops and larping festivals. I love the mountains and the coastline and everything in between. I especially love the trees. Oregon has the best trees. I love the mixture of personalities, the Shakespeare festival and the Hood-to-coast Marathon, even if I’ve never gotten around to participating. I love passing runners and bikers along the Willamette and always giving a little nod or wave and always getting one in return, even from Mary Decker.

    But most of all, I love the sense of community. No place quite feels like home to me the way Oregon does.

    Read more about my love affair with Oregon here, as well as a short excerpt from the novel:

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  • I've posted a few short excerpts on my blog that are related to the historical part of the story. You can read them here:


    Keep checking back for more previews in the coming weeks.

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  • I'll be starting off in early September in Fort Wayne, IN, which is where my characters also leave from. I'll travel from there to Independence, MO, where the official Oregon Trail begins. I'll follow the trail to Fort Bridger, where the settlers had to make a choice of whether to travel north into Oregon, or south to California (following the infamous Hastings Cutoff). I'll be driving both routes, one on the way there, and one on the way back (though the decision of which to travel first will be determined by the availability of interviewees). Other stops along the way will include Portland, Eugene, Sacramento, and San Francisco. I'll also be driving through Donner pass, site of the tragic Donner Party.

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  • I don't think it's of low quality at all (except the sound of the school behind me). But after studying many successful and unsuccessful projects on KS, I decided that having a glitzy video wasn't any guarantee of success. So I decided to sit down and state my case as straightforward and sincerely as possible.

    I do have quite a bit of video production experience. I graduated with a film degree from American University, and I've been working on several film and video products in the past year. You can view some samples here:

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  • You selected
    Pledge $5 or more

    1 backer

    Access to the daily journal of my trip on the Oregon Trail, plus a shout out on the acknowledgments page of the e-book and my eternal gratitude.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    12 backers

    A pre-release copy of Quitting the Grave in the digital format of your choice, plus all of the above.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $20 or more

    19 backers

    A pre-release copy of the enhanced digital version of Quitting the Grave, including the mini-docs, interactive maps, etc, plus all of the above.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $35 or more

    8 backers

    An Oregon Trail T-shirt that reads "You Have Died of Dysentery," plus all of the above.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $60 or more

    28 backers

    Get a Kickstarter-only paperback version of the novel that you can put on your shelf, printed and signed by me. These won't be for sale. Only Kickstarter supporters will ever have this edition.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    2 backers Limited (1 left of 3)

    If you live within an hour drive of my route along the Oregon Trail, I'll treat you to a free meal. We'll get to discuss Oregon history, witchcraft and anarchy, or the meaning of life. Or we can just spend a couple hours talking about Game Of Thrones. Plus all of the above!

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    1 backer Limited (1 left of 2)

    If you live within an hour (by car) of my route on the Oregon Trail, you'll get to appear in a special Easter Egg version of a mini-doc that will be included in the enhanced e-book. You might be a fake historian, a distant relative of one of the historical figures, or take part in a reenactment. Plus all of the above!

    Estimated delivery:

Funding period

- (30 days)