Melina Sempill Watts: Writer
I am a writer and environmental consultant; my work has appeared in the New York Times motherlode blog, Sunset Magazine, Earth Island Journal, Urban Coast: Journal of the Center for the Study of the Santa Monica Bay, Heal the Bay blog, Malibu Surfside News, VC Reporter, Topanga Messenger and Argonaut News. A former watershed coordinator, I worked for the Kennedy/Marshall Company, Peter Horton and Dreamworks, founded Starfish Catering and, back in the day, shelved books at a Powell Library at UCLA and ran stable. I have a B.A. in history from UCLA. Recently, I managed the design and production of www.livinglightlyguide.org.
Jeff Sojka: Painter
The cover painting is by artist Jeff Sojka, who lives and works in Ojai, California. Sojka’s luminous pieces reflect the spirit of the landscape in California. See http://sojkastudios.com/
Designers: Persechini and Company
Persechini and Company has an incredible track record, including IMAX, iWerks, Muse school, UCLA, Xerox and more. See: http://persechini.com/
Change the World Books
Our brand new publisher is a bootstrap start up: we’re excited that they’re excited.
Be a bigshot and help fund the first book they’re producing!
"Tree" is written, cover is set, book design is locked.
We are so close to going there – we just need the cash to print the book.
Who is loving it so far?
Dr. Kevin Starr, the premier California historian, winner of a National Humanities medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, California State Librarian Emeritus and USC professor, has this to say about about "Tree:"
"If trees have standing before the law, as many argue, then they might very well also have standing in historical fiction as Melina Sempill Watts demonstrates in this intriguing new novel ... Blending environmentalism, magical realism, social history, and arboreal science, Tree challenges ... readers to regard the natural world with new respect."
-- Kevin Starr, California State Librarian Emeritus
Aaron Mair, 2016-2017 Sierra Club President says:
"When we talk about environmental literature today, we pretty much mean non-fiction -- and there are acres of important books that come out on endangered species, policy, restoration work, science, engineering, sustainability, gardening, environmental justice, memoirs -- the list is endless. But when it comes to the literature of the environment, meaning potential candidates for the great American environmental novel, since "The Monkey Wrench Gang" and "Ishmael," our shelves are nearly empty. "Tree" is a bold new candidate in this category: a dive into the imagined interior realm of plants and the animals and people who love them, into the culture, history and ecosystems of the Santa Monica Mountains. You'll read it and read it again." -- Aaron Mair, 2016-2017 Sierra Club President
I look forward to hearing what you think!
Where did this project come from?
As a teenager, I had a series of mystical experiences involving plants. I wanted to create a novel that put readers inside the deep connection I feel with all things green and growing.
Studying history at UCLA and working on watershed issues as an adult, I became interested in the nexus between history and science: seeing how ecological systems change over time based upon the changing human cultures that dominant the landscape continues to fascinate me. There are many provocative examples of how human choices impact whole ecosystems. For example, when the Spanish arrived in the Southwest, the whole population of the grasslands changed within a year of contact. When scholars began to look at adobe bricks and take them down to dust to examine the plant matter of which they were composed, it became clear that even in the years of first contact, the grass species brought as feed and via the hooves and manure of horses and other domestic animals had spread rapidly across the landscape. On a similar note, the release of pigs in California by the Spanish explorers looking to have meat on the hoof while traveling, resulted in a rapidly growing population of pigs that denuded the landscape of acorns – and acorns were the backbone of the Native American economy. This impoverished the people that lived her on a scale that radically accelerated the transition to Spanish domination. Thinking about these kinds of plant / human interfaces drove me to write about people and plants and habitat in the context of fiction.
What have I done lately?
Here are pieces about plants and habitat:
Nativescaping: Habitat Restoration, One Garden at A Time, Earth Island Journal, March 2014
Maintaining the Balance: Introducing Valerie Vartanian, VC Reporter in June 2015
Here is piece about my private relationship with plants, in this case roses:
Dirt, Sunlight and Magic: the Scent of Roses, Topanga Messenger, May 2015
What’s your plan, and what’s your schedule?
Nook + Kindle
E-books will be received within 14 days of closure of funding cycle.
As soon as funding is received, the books will go to press; we anticipate being able to ship within 40 days from our start point, if not sooner. This means if you celebrate any gift-giving holidays in December, books will ship with more than enough time to arrive to you and your friends and family on time. Books will be shipped within 30 days of funding closure point.
Special events + personal guidance projects
As soon as the funding cycle is closed, I will reach out to each donor looking for native plant hikes, a native plants sale or guidance on a book or project, and set a future date that works for the donor within two weeks of closing. Books will arrive with writer at special events.
What’s your budget?
Project is written and designed, edit underway. These costs have been paid for in part by a donor, who put in $6000 to complete the manuscript, in part by author who paid for cover art, book design and edit and in part by a lover of the arts, who donated translation work on the Spanish parts of the book.
Print costs, pending includes taxes + shipping by Collective Color (1000 books): $6000.00 Pallet storage for printed books (six months) $500.00 Fulfillment costs: $400.00. Bookeeper $30 per hour 20 hours, to start $600.00
Total cost to go to print + ship: $7500.00
Why do you care?
"Tree" was written from joy. "Tree" was also created to share a love of biodiversity, with one ardent wish:
That green things may grow.
If you have read this far, I give my thanks to you with the living Chumash language: Kaqinalin.
Risks and challenges
Because the manuscript is complete and the cover design and interior design are set and because we have selected a high quality local printer for execution we anticipate no risks or challenges to the execution of this project unless the author has an untimely demise, which we sincerely hope will not be the case in the near future.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (21 days)