Our precious children

Many of us this week have been thinking perhaps more than usual how precious our children are to us, and in that spirit, here’s to the children in our lives, and here are the children of our most generous backers and most special friends, children who brighten our days and inspire our work.

Season’s Greetings

Just wanted to share this photo of our Christmas tree surrounded by gifts for our Kickstarter backers. You can see the books, badges, bags, and pouches, all of them on their way!

Conejo Valley Shakespeare Society

Here’s a little story about the kinds of amazing people you meet through the experience of running a Kickstarter campaign.

You already know how fellow backer Robert Young wrote the foreword to our book. Well, we got to know Mary Carrig, another backer, who introduces children to Shakespeare through her Inside Shakespeare workshop, runs a Shakespeare bootcamp for kids every summer, and is the artistic director of the Conejo Valley Shakespeare Society, a youth Shakespeare company.

Mary is an accomplished actress herself, and we started talking about how I planned to gather a group of talented actors to record the voices speaking Shakespeare quotes for our upcoming app. Then she asked if we had considered using children’s voices to speak the quotes.

To be honest, I really hadn’t thought of this. I was aware of lots of kids’ apps that used children’s voices, and I liked a lot of them, but I had never really thought it would be possible to find the kind of talent needed to entrust with the responsibility of introducing Shakespearean language to little children. And that’s when she suggested that I meet with the actors of the Conejo Valley Shakespeare Society.

This is a group of children aged between 10 and 18, who are bright and enthusiastic learners, and already accomplished performers. And Mary has helped instill into these children a real love for Shakespeare, and a level of passion and performance that is extraordinary to see. They organized a special presentation for us to show off their talents, and we were absolutely astounded by them.

So I just wanted to say thank you to Mary, thank you to CVSS, and I wanted to announce that we will be working to incorporate these children into our app so that we can showcase a combination of amazing adult and child performers in order to breed a new generation of young lovers of Shakespeare!

Fellow Kickstarters

The very first people I thanked in the acknowledgements page of A Horse With Wings were fellow Kickstarter project creators Cory Silverberg, Jordan Stratford, Ross Williams, and Peter Friedrich. Not only do these guys know how much hard work campaigning can be, but they helped me out so much, even spreading the word about KinderBard among their own backers.

Also, you may know that our KinderBard campaign signed up for Kicking It Forward, where successful project creators pledge to put 5% of their finished product profits back into other projects. And although it’s a long way until I’m likely to see any profits from this venture, I haven’t stopped pledging funds to other worthy projects I’ve discovered.

So I just wanted to quickly tell you about the two most recent projects I backed, both of whose project creators I have since been in personal touch with.

Romeo & Juliet: A Puppet Music Video not only has one of the most entertaining introductory videos you’ll ever see, but its creator, Dan Ring (Harvard grad, composer and musician) aims to create original music and videos featuring puppets to introduce kids to Shakespeare’s work, and he’s going to make these works available for free! I haven’t told Dan this yet, but I’m secretly hoping that we might be able to team up with him and his puppeting talent for some of KinderBard volume 2!

To Be Or Not To Be: That Is The Adventure is a chooseable-path adventure version of Hamlet, with truly amazing art and artists (I’m wondering if Sohyun may be asked to contribute?) where you can choose your character and decide your own fate! It’s all so self-empowering, and personally, I can’t wait to receive my Kickstarter-exclusive prequel mini-adventure called Poor Yorick!

We’re back!

We’re back in Paris, after two months of hibernation in England, during which we reached the final stages of our KinderBard project, and even found time for a pilgrimage to Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace…

(By the way, how cool is it that Bob Dylan is releasing his new album next month to coincide with the 50th anniversary of his debut, and he’s calling this one: Tempest?)

I mention Bob Dylan because for me, he’s my other Bard, and you’ll see his influence in our song sung by Caliban (yes, coincidentally from The Tempest), which I wrote in an angry protest folk song style. We’ve already recorded the guitar (performed by the wonderful Olivier Villaudy) but we really wanted to add a harmonica, and a wonderful harmonica player returns to Paris from touring in early September, and we’ve booked him to come into the studio as soon as he returns.

Thereafter, we’re all set for our mastering session on September 3, after which all that’s left is to consolidate all our materials and send them off to the publisher.  Six to eight weeks later, you’ll see the fruits of our labour and your support, at the end of October as scheduled…

Just wanted to keep you in the loop!

Marketing Shakespeare on Social Media

As some of you may know, I did not even have a Facebook account until two months ago. And now I have a fully functioning fanpage, a decent number of followers both on that page and on Twitter, and I’ve been known to dabble in a bit of Tumbling, Klouting, and even Pinteresting…

I have learned so much in such a short time about the power of social media – so much so, in fact, that I’m thinking of making posts about social media a part of my repertoire here on my own blog! It’s also partly because I’ve noticed that, for example, people on Twitter like to be linked to articles about how to Tweet (!). Just like movies about making movies, or sonnets about sonnets, then… (“So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, / So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”)

Most pertinently, I’ve learned about the power of blogging networks, and how a collective (of mommy bloggers, for example – many of whom have been so kind about our KinderBard project and have written and tweeted about it, and even put their money where their mouth is) can create an unbelievable momentum which can be crucial in marketing. And although I’ve known about Twitter parties and even taken part in some (great ones hosted by the wonderful Kat Meyer at O’Reilly Media), I had never before really considered co-hosting one, which would be an amazing way to reach out to people about how this project started, how my daughter became my creative partner, and how Shakespeare enriched our lives even before enriching others’.

So I’ve taken one very small step. I’ve decided to also put my money where my mouth is, and to put aside part of my budget (whether the Kickstarter campaign succeeds or fails – although if it fails, it will just take longer to save up from our personal income to afford the services of a great host) for some of the amazing women out there who do great work in harnessing groups with similar interests and similar life goals and creating a symbiotic relationship between business and consumer, between dreamer and parent.

My Least Favourite Tweets

A very sad thing happened to me. With only 5 days left of my precious campaign to bring my children’s songs into the world, I reached out to Amy Lupold Bair, an amazing woman, a former English teacher and mother who runs The Global Influence Network which connects bloggers, and has nearly 40,000 Twitter followers. I wrote her a letter, asking her to consider promoting my campaign a little among her network. Later in the day, I saw this tweet:

So I thought if she just took a moment to see my beautiful daughter singing a song, she might have a change of heart.


But then I was dismayed to discover a retweet by Cindy Dyer, a homeschooling mother, a Christian, and a blogger:

And so I couldn’t help myself (and this part is totally my fault, I admit)…


Which is true. You can check my LinkedIn profile. I really did study Shakespeare. If either of these influential women had done a little research, this might not have had to become ugly, and public. Ugly and public is the last thing I wanted, so I just left it at that. But finally I received this:

BREAKING NEWS. As I was writing this post, I saw this:

MORE BREAKING NEWS. Soon after this, my Twitter account was suspended, just when I need it most, to continue my sorry campaign…

How Shakespeare Helped my 4-Year-Old Daughter to Acclimatize to Life in Paris

So happy to have our story featured on the Royal Shakespeare Company‘s myShakespeare space, a place that shares thoughts and ideas about what Shakespeare means to us today. Please click on the image or this link to read more! And please share!

Our Favourite Tweets So Far

Retweet your favourite(s)!

  • O'Reilly Media
  • Curated Pages

Shakespeare Curated by O’Reilly Media on Kickstarter

Just in case you missed it, a great honour for us and our project: KinderBard can now be found in O’Reilly Media‘s curated page, among their exclusive list of innovative projects!

It’s strange to see Shakespeare featured among geiger counters and engineering toys, but I’ll be the first to admit that our idea of bringing Shakespeare to young children using the highest quality music and the most widely used advanced platform (the iPad) does have innovation as part of its essence. This concept of having children fall in love with our songs and then interact with Shakespeare characters to hear actual quotations spoken to them could not have been dreamed of without technology.

This is an especial honour because O’Reilly Media is one of only ten organizations (including Time Magazine and TED Talks) to have a curated page on Kickstarter! Thank you O’Reilly Media, and especially Kat Meyer and Brady Forrest for making this happen!