* If you have trouble with the "Contribute Now" button, you can also send a check payable to "Fractured Atlas" (my fiscal sponsor) with "Lorelei Williams" in the memo and email me for address.
Three continents. One ocean. Four centuries.
A sacred journey of twins
Ever had a dream that woudn't let you go? A bold longing that dared you to move beyond your fear to deeper faith? I'm finally saying yes and I invite you to join me on this journey.
My name is Lorelei. I’m a poet and social entrepreneur from Harlem and I arrived in the world two minutes after my identical twin sister, a filmmaker and TV producer. With Andrea, I took my first trip to Brazil, igniting a decade-long love affair with that land. My wombmate and my enchantment with Brazil inspired me to write my first novel Janaína.
My new book is a magical realism thriller set in Harlem and Brazil. It traces the lives of three generations of twins beginning with their ancestral mothers in West Africa to modern day twins Dia and Mia who are separated as toddlers when their own mother is imprisoned. Dia becomes a “menina da rua,” one of Brazil’s many street children. Mia is secretly adopted by an American couple that head a Harlem church. Ten years later, Mia receives a shocking medical prognosis and returns to search for her twin in the streets of Brazil where Dia is embroiled in a high-stakes gamble with organ traffickers. The twins are reunited in the fight of their lives during Brazilian Carnival.
My writing has appeared in Essence Magazine, Meridians Journal and African Voices. It’s been featured in several anthologies, most recently, Women Warriors of the Afro-Latina Diaspora. With Janaína, I’m fully surrendering to my passion, taking my creativity to the next level, and hoping to tell an important story about the resilience, struggles and beauty of Black girls growing up in the US and Brazil.
Your help will bring this story to life! I’ve already written a 236-page first draft and I need your help to raise a minimum of $11,000 to cover project expenses (travel costs, archival research, copy-editing, fiscal sponsorship fees, book design) and an additional $10,000 enabling me to fully engage in writing this empowering story. Through my fiscal sponsor, Fractured Atlas, your donation is tax-deductible.
What’s in it For You?
- A scandalous virtual vacation during Brazilian Carnival
- Connection to your body’s self-healing wisdom: body as flute, altar, bridge
- Glimpses into the secret world of twins
- Life affirming instruction from healers in Black-Indigenous spiritual traditions
- Lyrical communion with the sacred in nature
- A window on Black children’s ingenuity and challenges in the US and Brazil
I’m also handcrafting appreciation gifts for donors to correspond with themes in the book. I’m using the gifts as a way to fuel my passion for craft making; a different way to get my art out into the world. Donate now, and you will have unique, memorable gifts to give for any occasion! Claim rewards at the right side of your screen.
The Roots of Janaína
Janaína embodies so many strands of my identity, work, and travels across the African Diaspora: I am a twin from a line of eight sets of twins. I’ve dedicated my life to empowering young people in Africa and its Diaspora for nearly fifteen years. I am an initiate of the Afro-Brazilian religion candomblé and you’ll also find me in a Black Baptist church many Sundays. My father, a Jamaican merchant marine, named me for a mermaid. I share his quixotic madness, his passion for trans-Atlantic travel, and his obsession with Black freedom movements. I’m also a domestic violence survivor and recently began training as a somatic healer to work with other survivors of violence and trauma. In writing Janaína, I’ve found a place for imagination, memory, ancestry and activism to intersect. It is a thrilling and healing process.
In Brazil, the name Janaína is synonymous with the orixá (divine spirit) Iemanjá. She is associated with oceans, motherhood and with Atlantic Ocean, which carried so many of our ancestors through the Middle Passage. Iemanjá has been a powerful force in my life.
Read more on the roots of the book here: including the legendary tale of twin girls, Otampê and Gogorisa Ojaro, who survived the Middle Passage to Brazil in the 18th century.
And check out samples of my writing here.
Big Risk, Big Reward: Why Trust Me?
Janaína is my most ambitious project to date. My writing has been acknowledged through fellowships from the Breadloaf Young Writer’s Conference, Cave Canem and the New York Foundation for the Arts. My work has appeared in Essence Magazine, Meridians, and African Voices and featured in anthologies: Be the Dream (Algonquin Books); Women Warriors of the Afro-Latina Diaspora (University of Houston Arte Público Press); Beyond the Frontier: African-American Poetry for the 21st Century (Black Classic Press); and Daddy Can I Tell You Something? (Sela Press).
For info on my other big risks that paid off (at Yale and in Brazil), click here.
Where Will the Money Go?
- Travel costs and related fees for a return to Brazil to complete research for the book (archival study on the slave trade in Brazil, first-person interviews with young people living in the streets and in the prisons of Bahia, Carnival producers, and people impacted by the public tensions around religious intolerance in Brazil).
- A novel-writing workshop to fine-tune and workshop chapters of the book
- Professional copy-editing services for a publication-ready final manuscript
- Cover design artist honorarium
- Printing and production of limited edition book prototypes
- Fees collected by IndieGogo (@4%) & fiscal sponsor Fractured Atlas (7%)
- Production, processing and postage for supporter rewards
- Mini-Grants to 2-4* US and Brazilian youth/community-based organizations. Aligned with my values of reciprocity, I’d like to give something in return to the US and Brazilian young people I interview. Where appropriate, I’d like to give small grants to support organizations working with these young people. Beyond mini-grants, I’ll also donate poetry / writing workshops where there is interest, but I want to honor the financial challenges that these groups face in delivering their services. *Number of mini-grants depends on how much is raised.
Want to really invest in the success of this book? Support my reach goal: an additional $10,000. It would be ideal to have three months to attend a writers colony, incorporate all the edits from my writing class and copy-editor, review the book layout and design and do final rewrites with exclusive focus.
Can't donate but want to help? Make some noise! Tweet, tweet, tweet, email your friends, share on Facebook, post on blogs and connect with your community. Write an article or blog about the campaign. Call your buddies to ask them to invest! And send up some affirming prayers – your positive energy will be a wonderful contribution!
Why IndieGogo Before Publishing?
Before I submit a manuscript to a potential publisher (or self-publish it), I want it to be fully polished. Debut novelists and short story writers (especially those with few publications in the same genre) often struggle to land publishing deals. I want to strengthen my manuscript as much as possible. Publishers also want to ensure that there is a viable market for my novel. My IndieGogo supporters (hopefully, including you!) will affirm that readers are interested in Janaína. Building community around the themes in the novel is an important personal goal for me – and IndieGogo is a great tool for that.
Let’s Raise $11K in 35 days!!!
I’m counting on you to make
the Janaína project a resounding success!
Love and Blessings,
1. What is IndieGogo and how does this thing work? IndieGogo is one of the world’s largest crowdfunding websites, generating millions of projects in over 160 countries. IndieGogo charges 4% for successful projects and 9% for projects that don’t meet fundraising goals. Founded in 2008, the company has appeared on Bloomberg, Oprah, Today, and the BBC, as well as in the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Learn more here.
2. How do I donate? Click the “CONTRIBUTE NOW” button on the right hand side of the page. You will be asked to input your pledge amount and select a reward. From there, you will go to the checkout page. Enter your total gift amount and choose your Reward/Donor Appreciation Gift. Enter your credit card information. (FYI, your credit card information is protected and is never saved by Indiegogo]. Enter an email address where you would like to receive your contribution receipt. Once my IndieGogo campaign ends in July, I will request your address and to follow-up on any additional reward related matters.
3. What happens if you surpass your fundraising goal? I will be over the moon! If I pass the first goal ($11K), funds will go towards focused writing time for the reach goal ($10K). If I surpass the entire goal ($21K), funds would be used to enhance my marketing plan and to give additional donations to the youth organizations receiving mini-grants through this project.
4. What happens to the funds if you don’t reach your fundraising goal? This is a two-tiered fundraising campaign. If I don’t raise the entire first goal ($11K) then I may not be able to complete some of the items outlined above – or each phase take a significantly longer time to complete. If I don’t reach the second fundraising goal (an additional $10K), I will not be able to dedicate three months of full-time writing to finish the manuscript, interrupting the momentum and delaying the writing process..
5. I want to get in your suitcase? When are we going to Brazil? I’ve coordinated tours to Brazil in the past and led a group of 21 people there in 2010. I don’t have plans to lead a tour this year, but I will personally create a tour agenda for you and connect you to contacts in Brazil (Salvador, Rio and São Paulo) for donors over $1,000.
6. Can I make an anonymous donation? You can adjust how your name and contribution amount is displayed publicly on my campaign’s “Funders tab ”on the IndieGogo website. There are three visibility levels (below). You will be able to elect your contribution's visibility status during the Share stage of the contribution process, right after you submit your payment information. I’ll note your preferences for donor listings on my own personal website also.
- Your name & contribution amount will be shown on the campaign page.
- Your contribution amount will be shown on the campaign page, but only the campaigner will see your name.
- Your name will be shown on the campaign page, but only the campaigner will see your contribution amount.
7. What if I can’t give right now? All your support and encouragement is so valued. Creative suggestions are so welcome. And you can get your friends to pledge. Shout it out from the hills!!! If you’ve got even $5 that helps boost our backer numbers as much as someone giving $500 or $5,000.
8. Why don’t you get a fellowship to complete this writing project – why raise individual funds on IndieGogo? That’s a great idea. I am actually applying for fellowships for the project – and if you know of grants I should apply for, please let me know. Since I’m registered with a fiscal sponsor (Fractured Atlas), I can receive grants from foundations, corporations, faith-based organizations, etc. Often, grant cycles can take a long time between submission and notification. I want to complete my research and start conversations with you around the research and themes in the novel as soon as possible and your support will help me do this. [Also see Q7 above re: building community and demonstrating public support for this project.
9. Is shipping and handling covered for the rewards? S&H is including for all items being shipped within the U.S. International shipping costs will depend on the country where rewards will be shipped. Please allow for additional time for international delivery – and contact me directly for the associated shipping costs.
10. Have another question? If so, please feel free to contact me directly
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