Through the end of the Because We Are Campaign on Thursday, net proceeds from all contributions will support these organizations equally. Join in the effort to take Because We Are's impact from the page to the world!
Hi. My name is Ted, and I've written a story I'd like to share with you.
It's a nonprofit novel, a tale of murder, mystery and redemption in the slums of Haiti. It's a story about two kids fighting against staggering odds to right a sickening wrong. And here's the kicker--it's not going to happen without you.
Just getting to this point has been a long journey. I started writing while working in Haiti in 2010 for a human rights organization in Bwa Nef, the slum community where the story is set. I crammed the rest of my writing into cracks in my schedule between finishing law school, taking the bar exam and setting out as a lawyer. And now that the manuscript is written, I'm excited to invite you to pack your bags and join me for the rest of the trip.
What's Because We Are about?
Here's the synopsis:
"When a mother and infant are murdered on the outskirts of Cite Soleil, Haiti’s most infamous slum, two unexpected detectives emerge: Libéte, a brash and headstrong girl of ten, and her brilliant but impoverished friend Jak. While the rest of their community moves on in the grinding struggle to survive, the children push deeper into a thicket of lies and deception that changes everything they know.
A lyrical novel of injustice and beauty set against a society in shambles, Because We Are: A Novel of Haiti."
For a taste of what's in store, read an in-progress excerpt
And who are you?
Indulge me as I shift to the obligatory third person:
"Discerning a call to work for peace and justice has changed Ted's life and taken him from the suburbs of Sacramento to living with Sudanese refugees in Cairo and onto his current home on the tough streets of North Philly. He and his wife Katharine live there, seeking to be faithful to their community, bringing people and causes at the margins of society to the center, and finding comfort in the knowledge that another world is possible."
Why tell this story?
Circumstances in Haiti demanded it. During my four months there, Haiti was buffeted by a major hurricane, the return of a brutal dictator, protests surrounding national elections, and the outbreak of imported cholera that continues to kill in droves—and all of this just months after the most unimaginable human loss in the January 2010 earthquake. I wanted to tell a story set against this incredible and heartwrenching backdrop.
Why should I read Because We Are?
Libéte--the main character (pictured on the cover). The book is really about her journey, of struggling against staggering difficulty and danger to solve a grisly murder. The book uses flashbacks to weave together a complex narrative of intersecting themes, characters and events that make her life just as fascinating as the underlying mystery. Why is Libéte who she is? What transformed her from a sweet little girl into a firecracker? What gives her such resolve to reach the mystery's end? Jumping between past and present begs new questions that drive the narrative forward as you discover more and more about this remarkable little girl.
Learn more of their backstory by clicking above
What other books is Because We Are like?
It might be better to ask what my inspirations in writing were. Cry, the Beloved Country. What is the What. To Kill A Mockingbird. Native Son. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. A Thousand Splendid Suns. A Taste of Salt. The Dew Breaker.
These are all a part of the book's DNA, making it the unique read it is.
What's it really about?
Friendship. The struggle for justice in the face of impunity. Sacrifice for the community. Personal responsibility. Faith and doubt in light of tragedy. The foolishness of scarcity in a world of plenty.
It's a "nonprofit novel," right? So does any portion of my contribution get donated to an organization or cause in Haiti?
Your backing first goes to making the book great so that it can do good. Contributions will be used primarily to pay an editor and to cover costs tied to publicity, production and distribution. Everything donated above the fundraising goal (and all future profits from sales) will be donated to organizations in Haiti.
Look at it as if you're investing in a social enterprise. The better the book is, the more moving it is, the further its reach, the greater its sales, the more it can ultimately impact things on the ground in Haiti.
What organizations will benefit?
I’m about the grassroots and backing smaller nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Spending time in Haiti was jarring in part because of examples of wasteful NGO spending seen left and right. Smaller aid is often better, more effective, and more responsive to the needs of affected populations, and that's what this book will support.
Proceeds from sales beyond the Indiegogo campaign will go to organizations that I witnessed first-hand, groups like:
These organizations do diverse work around education, healthcare, advocacy, justice reform, prosecuting human rights abuses, microfinance, and reforestation--all things I hope you're interested in supporting!
For transparency's sake, I'll be keeping an ongoing record of sales and donations on the book's website once it's released (www.becauseweare.com).
When can I read it?
The hope is that it will be published in the new year (at latest January 2013), in time for the third anniversary of Haiti’s quake. It's a wait, but it’ll be worth it!
Because We Are is about kids -- but is it for kids?
It's not. If it was a film, its content would probably put it in the hard "PG-13" range, with its language tripping it to an "R." No sex, some violence, and frequent bad language. (I felt I needed to add this little disclaimer for my grandmother's sake.)
If Because We Are is such a great book, why did you decide to self-publish rather than shop it around to agents and publishing houses?
Because We Are was created as a way to give back to a country and community that changed my life.
My goals were 1) to produce a story 2) that was worth telling with ordinary heroes in extraordinary circumstances 3) that you would want to read and 4) that would support organizations doing sound work in Haiti.
Frankly, I didn’t want a big publisher gobbling up the margins of what would actually go back to Haiti. There are enough examples of credible, excellent fiction coming from self-published authors these days that I thought this decision would let me retain the integrity of the story and the vision behind it. Just as independent film tells exciting stories mainstream studios are often unwilling to back, indie publishing can do the same.
Ultimately, it seemed more fitting that Because We Are is published because a rag-tag bunch of supporters like you wanted to use art to better the world.
I'd say that's a compelling story in its own right.