COME TO A PARTY AND A PUBLISHING CONVERSATION!

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I am afraid there are no nibbles or delicious cocktails available but you are all most cordially invited to a Facebook Event, next Saturday April 26th at 6pm London Time. (Facebook has my setting at UTC+1 for some reason, so watch those timings and sorry to make you calculate the Time difference). Please send me a Friend Request there under my name David Clement-Davies and I think it will last about an hour and a half.

It’s the first event I’ve ever done and 10 are coming already, since I launched last night, so I hope to have 70 people by next weekend. It is firstly to celebrate the launch of Dragon In The Post next Wednesday but also to discuss the wider issues of a Publishing Adventure and trying to break through as a grass roots publisher at Phoenix Ark Press, as you will see in a film. So we can talk my books and stories, this new project but also the possibility of involvement for readers, writers, editors and illustrators.

Come ready to be contentious too, if you like, and question if what I am aiming at can even be done! Criticism is as valuable as anything else, but whatever issue comes up I hope we can knock around ideas about a project, Kickstarter, publishing, art, writing, the problems of the Internet and Crowd Funding too. So it will have some use and inspiration for you. Love to see you all ‘there’ in Cyberspace and one day perhaps we’ll meet at a London launch party too.

David Clement-Davies

PA PRESS

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KICKSTARTER AND AUTHORS FIGHTING BACK? – THE PHOENIX ARK CULTURAL ESSAY

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THE LESSONS OF CROWD FUNDING AND FIGHTING THROUGH THE NOISE OF THE INTERNET

Any value to this article comes out of direct experience of trying to fund a book project on Kickstarter for Light of The White Bear but also echoing the battle being fought in the US now and across the world against Digitisation and the likes of Google effectively stealing work and putting it up for free. It is of course a changed landscape since the arrival of the web, that has altered so much socially and commercially and been a particular threat not just to writers but artists of all kinds, from musicians to photographers and visual artists too. The problem is we all seem to be implicated in that ‘culture for free‘ mentality, the white noise of the Internet too. Which is why I was so shocked at one acquaintance delighting in the ease and accessibility of his Kindle, which on the positive side had increased his own reading, yet being so casual about having downloaded 4,000 books for free. Perhaps you don’t wake up to a thing until you are directly effected yourself, like all those anti Piracy campaigns in Cinemas, back with the dinosaurs, but it is a very serious challenge to any kind of real culture, surely always something shared, and to the individual artist too. It echoes doubts about whether Facebook and the rest really connect us at a deeply human level, or more often give us a chance to put up only a mirror to the most successful or prettiest versions of ourselves, while we hide other truths in the shadows. So can you get over that 15 minutes of fame or Marshall McLuhan “medium is the message” truth and actually use the thing itself to change the medium?

Firstly there is the problem of writers and artists simply surviving, which in fact was always a very tough business. Do artists really have any more right than any one else though? I suppose that might depend on the artist, or whether you think poets are, as Shelley said, ‘the unacknowledged legislators of the world‘. Or if it is troubling that the likes of Van Gogh spent his life on the edge of poverty, wonder and madness, broken by the system, only to find his work one day worth tens of millions and hanging on the walls of slick Merchant banks. History and especially the history of the art market is too full of such ironies to dwell on it too long. Less than 5% of authors reach any kind of position where they can really live off their work alone, yet even back in the 16th Century, when the very idea of authorial copyright began to emerge with the new printing technology, booksellers, poets and writers made their way with kinds of private patronage, a bit like Kickstarter. One was a Southwark boatman called John Taylor, the self styled ‘water poet‘, whose verse is pretty much doggerel, rowing the river Thames in the wake of the likes of Kit Marlowe and Will Shakespeare, on Bankside. But who raised shillings and pence to take his work into print and at least it is one of the great historical sources. He also spent too much time, in the highly personal and often bitchy world of ‘letters’, pursuing those who promised backing and never coughed up! Shakespeare found his real and powerful patrons and his playhouse at The Globe and was wise enough to stay behind the scenes and stay true to his genius. Although Shakespeare certainly had a head for money and business. The fact is nowadays though, with super Capitalism and such vast and increasing inequality, the very idea of the patron is pretty much frowned on, so what steps into the breach, dear friends?

The only equivalent of that Printing Press revolution though, that so engaged in the battles of the Reformation too, is right now, over four hundred years later, with the arrival of the Internet, Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Kickstarter and the rest. Such a challenge to Governments with the likes of Wiki leaks and to tyrannies too, in examples in the Middle East. Perhaps it is reassuring that time goes back and fourth but how do you balance that laudable desire to give the world something for free, in those racing to put up the code of the Human genome before big business, especially in America, could exercise its ‘right’ to make money and patent, or Dr Salk, who gave out the Polio vaccine and said you had no more right to patent it than patent sunlight, with a writer’s desire both to find readers and to make a living too? Or indeed a painter’s, an actor’s or a singer’s? Just to note that my novel Firebringer, that has reviews that might make it one of those ‘Penguin classics’ is now out of hard copy print in the UK. I think partly because I refused to play the game, took back my e-book rights for all my novels, but partly because in the shifting sands of editors seeking promotion, leaving publishing houses, very few seem to stand up for anything nowadays.

So to Kickstarter, which here was partly a positive and partly negative exercise. Negative because it was an exhausting month and failed to hit the target of £6,000 to publish Light of The White Bear properly. It is not a large target, for someone who commented it is so easy to ‘self publish‘ these days or raised an eyebrow that any author should be so arrogant as to actually draw some funds to live on while editing! Perhaps instinct and experience rail against that because art is one removed from business, in the sense of trying to quantify what spirit or vision are actually ‘worth’. As to ‘self publishing’ it was done under the label of Phoenix Ark Press and it is not at all easy to ‘self publish’. The vast majority of ebooks or POD books disappear without a trace, leaving the litter out there on the internet too and if many are satisfied with finding a readership of say a hundred, good for them indeed, but for people used to being well published and having a powerful voice it can be soul destroying. Perhaps that’s something about ambition too, because every book or work of art has to earn its own readers. It is why Phoenix Ark attempted to build a community though, to be an unusual publisher, which is something that actually wrestles with the real work of writing and storytelling.

The positive came most strongly from younger readers, which is perhaps about something else entirely, namely remembering again that the most essential connection is writer to reader. Then the spirit of some people, often complete strangers, that stands in such contrast to those who once called themselves friends, or indeed have a great deal of money. I was simply amazed how people with very little could be so much more generous than those with far more, in fact and in spirit, but perhaps that is a life lesson about the salt of the earth, or how the years shut you off. It is never exactly fun not achieving a thing and yet, to be fair, I asked that question myself, namely if one ‘patron’ had come in to raise the 35% hit to 100% in the 11th hour, was that what I was really looking for? I wouldn’t have looked a gift horse in the mouth, I think, and it would not have let down fans either, but the real answer is no. What I am looking for is both practical backing, money, but real spirit too, energy, communication and essentially achieving something unique by reaching and I hope inspiring many people. Because that will itself ensure some kind of immediate readership again, as well as making one project happen, but perhaps kindling some kind of fire and passion out there too.

That is why when a new project launches next week, Dragon in The Post, on both St George’s Day and Shakespeare’s birthday, April 23rd, a film also appeals once again to the idea of building a grass roots publisher, in one sense ‘your publisher‘, to try and break through those disconnected boxes, that I think the internet has so much created everywhere. We think we are communicating with ‘the world‘, when very often we aren’t at all, we are talking sadly to ourselves. Which is precisely why Platforms are the new battle ground, commanding them, and why I found it so depressing when I first started exploring publishing that an Amazon executive could write to me gloating over the fact that Amazon, where I do publish ebooks, had just pushed the US bookstore chain Borders into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Capitalism may or may not be better than many systems, but if it is one that only ‘takes no prisoners‘ in the race for money, we will all end up by being impoverished. Just as one new backer commented yesterday that it is a new kind of fascism if we are controlled by cynical and soulless executives, just interested in their pay cheques and jobs, and artists are not paid. It is about more than being paid though, it is about really being heard!

If it works, both as a project and a wider ‘business’ model, it is about attempting to call to writers, artists and illustrators too and give back to them as well, either supporting their Kickstarting or bringing them in, and I hope I can stay true to the spirit in which it was founded! It has failed so far in any grandiose sense, yet has I think built something of quality and with a voice. Is it possible though, or are the always skeptical voices right to scoff or hide in the wings and say for instance that Kickstarter is ‘yesterday’s news‘. It shows how surface we can be, how fad driven, but if Kickstarter raised a billion in pledges by the start of this year, or even The Globe theatre has now turned to Kickstarter to fund their traveling Hamlet, in every country in the world, it is not yesterday’s news, it is in fact the growing pattern of funding and involvement for the future and certainly not just in the world of artists or writers. The Globe project is unique in that a major institution is turning to Kickstarter, with a rather fine film of traveling players singing ‘a begging we will go‘ but then Phoenix Ark Press has long been begging to be heard over quite unique work on Edmund Shakespeare, Bankside and Southwark and also approached the Globe about it, much to find the usual institutional response. Then the sadness of it is reflected in a friend emailing a link to a new book rising high in the Huffington Post charts on the top ten things you never knew about Shakespeare, starting with the fact that he even had a brother called Edmund. I was never approached about it and you cannot sue for copyright infringement on fact, but I seriously wonder where it came from. We’ll see, because in fact there are several mistakes here which need to be corrected, simply for the purpose of real scholarship. I have always noted that my first knowledge of where Edmund was staying in 1607 actually came from Professor Allan Nelson at Berkeley and a talk about the Token Books at Southwark Cathedral and to his students at The Globe.

Kickstarter though, beyond the gloss of success stories like Neil Young hitting his target and far more in a day, and good for him, is just a well designed and supported website. Just as a Kindle or Nook are really nothing more remarkable than screens, as we start to see the content again, beyond the snazzy, over important technology. A very good model too, because it does not allow you to draw any funds unless the whole target is reached and so energy and quality to leach away. But nor does it block the idea of trying again and so potentially growing and growing that fan and backer base. Which is why it was so positive to get such useful feed back and the spirit that said ‘try again‘, to create I hope a kind of fellowship, that could make many journeys either on Kickstarter, at Phoenix Ark press or elsewhere. Although having tried for five years alone with Phoenix in a hugely personal and painful publishing battle too and having lost almost everything doing so, except a pen and a piece of paper (well, a keyboard!), there are only so many times you can try the same thing without being labelled sad or nuts.

Kickstarter is different though, because it gives specific project targets, that you should have in any business anyway, but allowing a medium to try and kickstart something much bigger and more visionary. Although what that is really about is the people involved, both me and you, and the integrity of the work we can or can’t produce together. I hope you will see that, when you see the new project up on line, which has also been designed specifically drawing on the talent and creations of fans. There are over 130 dedicated followers at Phoenix, who see articles published instantly, but many, many more visitors, so do come and visit. But consider doing more than ‘Liking‘, nice as that is. I have over 400 followers at Goodreads too and now over 500 friends on Facebook, though I must go through that and define what I actually mean by friendship. I will never pay, for instance, like David Cameron or cynical business, for ‘likes‘, as I keep getting emails encouraging me to, with the temptation of somehow suddenly going ‘viral’. Just as I resisted allowing WordPress to jump my site with their own advertising.

This project I hope shares a fire about one book, but many possibilities and ideas, about the chance of a future, and also returns to that idea of people who back it becoming Friends of Phoenix Ark press, with rewards, news and discounts too here. But I hope it’s a journey, an adventure, that can bring many real things, not just digitalised words, made out of HTML number coding, crackling pointlessly through the electric ether.

David Clement-Davies April 2014

The picture is a public domain Wikepedia image of the original Globe by Hollar, although the whole map of Bankside needs to reassessed and can be with work about Edmund Shakespeare, The Vine tavern and it’s links to St Margaret’s Church and The Brotherhood of Our Lady of Assumption. That work Phoenix Ark certainly retains moral copyright in.

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THE US AUTHOR’S GUILD AND THE ENEMY OF ALL ARTISTS

The Anti-Google Mass Book Digitization Campaign Goes Global
Authors Malcolm Gladwell, J.M. Coetzee, Michael Pollan, Margaret Atwood, Peter Carey Support Lawsuit Against Google’s Theft of Books Through Digitization

New York, NY- Prize-winning authors, international rights organizations, and legal experts Monday joined the Authors Guild in fighting what they call Google’s dangerous and unprecedented violation of copyright law. They filed eight stinging friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the Guild’s appeal in Authors Guild v. Google, agreeing that Judge Denny Chin’s decision in the case should be overturned.

Google’s ambitions respected no borders,” said Authors Guild president Roxana Robinson. “Millions of copyrighted books by authors from every major country were swept in to Google’s scheme. As the new filings demonstrate, not just authors but also photographers, visual artists, songwriters, and publishers around the world find it particularly galling that a wealthy American company would try to find a way to use their creations for free.

Authors from Australia, Canada, and South Africa joined one brief, including Margaret Atwood, Thomas Keneally, J.M. Coetzee, Yann Martell, Peter Carey and Michael Frayn. In a separate filing, an array of international rights organizations warned that if this massive expansion of “fair use” is allowed to stand it turns the United States into a rogue nation, in violation of international norms of copyright.

Copyright experts, including Marybeth Peters, Former U.S. Copyright Register, Jon Baumgarten, Former General Counsel, U.S. Copyright Office, and professor Raymond T. Nimmer, filed briefs as well.

American authors Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Pollan, Karen Russell, Ursula K. Le Guin, Ron Larson, Taylor Branch, Tracy Chevalier, Lawrence Hill, Diane McWhorter, Robert Christopherson and Tracy Kidder submitted a brief that highlights how Google has left little room for authors and publishers to develop partnerships and licensing opportunities of their own.

And fifteen U.S. groups, representing textbook authors, songwriters, visual artists, illustrators and photographers, filed briefs of their own. These organizations collectively represent thousands upon thousands of individuals dependent on copyright for their livelihoods. Their conclusion sums up the strong case against Google: “One group cannot simply be allowed to take from creators and give works to the public for free with impunity. This undermines the very purpose of copyright law and ultimately of fair use.

The Authors Guild first sued Google in 2005, citing “massive copyright infringement” in developing its Google Book Search database. The Guild filed its brief on April 11, 2014 with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Court in Manhattan.

This is copied from a US Author’s Guild Circular

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SOMETHING EXCITING HAPPENING AT KICKSTARTER AS THE LIGHT GLOWS STRONGER!!!

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26 hours to go and lovely and helpful comments coming in thick and fast about the work on Light of The White Bear at Kickstarter, with Phoenix Ark Press in the background too. Still time then to see a five minute film, that explains itself, though not the one on Facebook, appreciate that in the noise of Facebook and elsewhere, a project has done brilliantly in 30 days, at over 2 grand and 35%, but just as importantly with such bright and passionate people interested and committing to going on with a journey too. Well, it’s allowed! Make it or not, you can still join the party happening here then, make your own comment and come along in a publishing fellowship and it’s own story. Just as too long ago The Beginning here at Phoenix hoped for. I will write to everyone at the end.

But this is addressed to all friends at Facebook and most especially well over 100 who subscribe to a blog too. Please look at a little talk (bad Shakespearean quoting and all) and think about upping your ‘Like‘ involvement in the past by, small or large pledge, pressing Back this Project that you can reach by CLICKING HERE

Thank you.

PA PRESS

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STILL TIME TO JOIN THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE WHITE BEAR AT NO COST AT ALL!

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30 Hours to go and the company still rising!

If you go to Kickstarter and back the Light of The White Bear project still though, win or lose, you’ll be in the Company and ‘fellowship of The White Bear’ and David Clement-Davies, Clare Bell, who has kindly donated a copy of Ratha’s Creature for pledges over £45, one of JRR Tolkien’s illustrators himself, Roger Garland and a fine grew of artists, photographers, playwrights, ecologists, passionate fans and backers. A brave crew that could re-open an entire doorway on brilliant ideas here too, engagement and real art at Phoenix Ark Press. It would bring many things down the road. Come to the party!

Phoenix Ark Press always needed you though, and STILL DOES, and the support in these last melting hours will determine whether this is the end of the road or not. It has been a battle too for free speech. Perhaps fans can see it like this though, at 100 pledges of just £20 it would double instantly and you would be paying little more than you would in the shops anyhow. Although you would get a signed copy, copies of artwork, could have your name in the front of the book, alongside a favourite animal, would help raise awareness on Global Warming, and be part of so much more: Like Dragon in the Post, Amazon Rat, The Christmas Code and unique work on Edmund Shakespeare too, William’s brother, and London. That’s why, even if you don’t believe it will make 100%, and it still can, it’s important you come on board now, at effectively no cost either if the total isn’t reached, because then I will write to everyone right at the end about future projects.

Go on, put your finger where you heart is and Back This Project by CLICKING HERE AND JOINING THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE WHITE BEAR

Thank you.

DCD

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PHOENIX ARK PRESS BACKS THE ARK AND THE GREAT THAMES CURIOSITY SWIM!

Well, we are trying it ourselves with the dwindling but brave fight at Kickstarter for Light of The White Bear, which today found support from Roger Garland himself, Tolkien’s illustrator, in a new fellowship that includes writers, artists, readers, ecologists, poets, photographers, a fine young DJ, Clare Bell and DCD. But we have just 3 days to achieving a miracle, that you can see and help by CLICKING HERE AND PRESSING BACK THIS PROJECT.

But meanwhile just a little time out for other heroic “Swim starter” efforts too! Knowledge of one in question came out of an article here on the fascinating Garden Museum in the old Church right by Lambeth Palace, where Elias Ashmole, The Tradescants and Captain Bligh are all buried. Thankfully we live in an inclusive world, as opposed to those difficult Reformation days, testified to by an ominous plaque on the Church wall making an education grant but excluding chimney sweeps, Watermen and Catholiks! But so to the other campaign in question, and you will forgive the linkage, but that Museum was and is a testament to what local individuals can achieve.

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“Tredeskin’s Rarities are come downe from London by water”
125 Miles, 8 hours a day for 12 days, 70,000 calories and 180,000 strokes of crawl…

In August 2014 the Garden Museum’s Director, Christopher Woodward, will swim the length of the River Thames from Oxford to London in an epic journey that mirrors the Tradescant Collection’s journey when it left Lambeth for Oxford over 350 years ago. If successful, Christopher will become only the fourth person to swim this distance.

The magnificent effort is to herald a grant of 3.4 Million from The Heritage Lottery Fund and add to it, for further work on the Museum, which will also include bringing back some of a Cabinet of Curiosities to Lambeth, once in that very first 17th Century museum “The Ark”. Which some say were really pinched by Alias Ashmole, to become the basis of the famous Ashmolean in Oxford. A worthy cause indeed and though the Thames was probably far cleaner in Shakespeare’s day than it became in Dicken’s or Bill Syke’s time, if not as clean as it is now, we would have been impressed by swimming across the river at Old London Bridge, or indeed Lambeth, that old Horse Ferry, let alone 125 miles from Oxford to London! Strength to your elbows.

To see the project go to http://gardenmuseum.org.uk/page/tradescants-treasures-thames-swim-2014 and to support it go to http://www.justgiving.com/ChristopherWoodward
or http://www.justgiving.com/gardenmuseum

PA PRESS

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KICKSTARTER, WORDPRESS AND PRAYING TO THE GODDESS OF WOMANLY VIRTUES

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Honestly, have people no shame and don’t they know that those with WordPress blogs can see the searches here?! As one lawyer at the UK firm Manches certainly knew, as he signed up and hovered in the wings, trying to intimidate, probably on behalf of Michael Jacobs, the President at my publisher Abrams and later Chairman of a Campaign against US Censorship. As, in that vicious and monumental cover up, he, or certainly someone very senior, instructed an entire department not to read a blog, refused to identify himself or communicate, then set his hired UK henchmen to work to try and silence me under European Privacy and Human Rights laws! The values of a New York Publisher, in the land of the First Amendment and Free Speech. The nasty little man tried to share a love of The Flaming Lips, that band Tamar Brazis gave to me and never understood, as she wrecked a life and career.

All those terrified people at work behind the scenes, bad friends at home or abroad, may tut-tut at what I have said, how I have revealed very painful things, or at times perhaps humiliated myself to fight back against the true destruction of a life and valuable career, but what awful and shameful ‘back room’ gossip-obsessed cowards we can be! It was the story at “Family Abrams”, it is the story everywhere and it’s of course only the people we love and need that ever destroy or betray us.

So I dedicate these last three days of Kickstarter and the failing Light of The White Bear campaign to Seetha, or Sita, wife of Rama (Avatar of Vishnu) and in Indian myth, faith and story the incarnation of womanly and wifely virtues! Calling to her dedication, self sacrifice, courage and purity… I cough quietly into a handkerchief but if you want to lurk, laugh, gloat, encourage, get over yourself and your fear, join the brave 41 and save a project (for itself or kicking back against the system), so Back this Project, you can see me trying to speak by CLICKING HERE

Thank you. And a special thank you and a sorry to Sarah H, who wrote to say she wanted to support and has been waiting for so long, but couldn’t until her next pay check. Such people touch my heart but make me ashamed too, though I assure you the reason it never came out goes as deep as anything can.

DCD

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GRACE UNDER KICKSTARTER FIRE OR ANOTHER STORY TRYING TO COME OUT

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Hello all,

I’m attempting to wrestle with showing grace under Kickstarter fire, not to mention bad hair days, and so sorry a blog has become a tedious repetition of links and reminders. I’m a little surprised though many readers have not backed the great Light of The White Bear fight and seem to be here only for the un-allowed and long gone private lives of authors and editors, and the gossip too. Not to mention the laughable poison that can sometimes lurk in the immediate neighbourhood of dear old Facebook. It was a delight to see that jumped on by other supporters.

Very well though, as the project seems to fail at last, though 40 backers is damn good, you can have the whole story of Harry N Abrams, (very rarely the whole story of anyone’s innards), in both a film and the updates, by CLICKING HERE

They really are very welcome to disagree, and of course still almost publish Fell, one reader blogged he could not find in the shops, but I should be telling the story of Uteq of the Black Paw! Another glimpse is in an Update, but then off to study St Cuthbert and get a bloody life.

David

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THE LAST WEEK OF KICKSTARTER AND IT AIN’T OVER TILL THE FAT LADY SINGS!

It was what a fan and backer in the UK said, about that singing lady, and yesterday’s April Fool about the UN was meant as part of some fun, though it would hardly hurt! But spurred by readers, rather than giving up, a last talk and film goes up about a Kickstarter project on the newly named Light of the White Bear.

I just won’t be silenced on what happened in New York and London, among ‘friends’ and colleagues, but it is a story that needs pushing into the background, so only appears in the second part of a film. If Abrams, which still publishes Fell, for those who talk of ‘the past’, wants to challenge on libel, I have also said I would prove it, but this is hopefully about the future now. There is also a free e-edition of Fell alone, available till Monday April 7th from Amazon.com

Likes are fantastic but it really needs your active support now and you can see a talk that raises the bar of ambition by CLICKING HERE

A warm thank you both to Backers and to readers at Phoenix too.

PA PRESS

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WOW ! UNITED NATIONS TAKES KICKSTARTER PROJECT STRAIGHT TO 100%!!!!!

Astonishing, almost unbelievable news. The Secretary General’s Office in New York and Ban Ki-Moon have just come in to back Phoenix Ark Press and lift the project to publish Light of the White Bear to 100%. Hooray. We did it!

Hope goes out like a good vibration and a prayer. Thank you.

It is all explained on film by CLICKING HERE

CORRECTIONAL NOTE: SADLY THIS WAS AN APRIL FOOL!!!

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