ORGANIC ART, MUSIC, AND WORDS

Art direction and design, music education and performance, writing, storytelling, and creative thinking, all at reasonable rates.

(Artist's conception)
(Artist's conception)

My name is W.J. Walton, and I am an artist, writer, musician, storyteller, and performer from central Delaware.  Awkward Labs is the name I give to my collective creativity.

 

When you think about it, almost every art is a form of sculpture.  Drawings and paintings are made of lines and shapes "carved" out of blank space - stories, poems, and plays shape ideas in our imaginations - even music involves the reshaping of air into sound waves for the listener's ear to hear and enjoy. I like to think of myself as a "reality sculptor" - it neatly covers all of the above.

In more casual situations, when I don't feel like going into that much detail, I'll simply say that I make stuff up.

 

Now that we have all of that out of the way, here's what I do:

  • SIGHTS - Drawings, sketches, illustrations, paintings, set design, and other things to behold
  • SOUNDS - Music performance and education. Insert carefully into ear canal.
  • WORDS - The artful arrangement of letter groups into phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. Warning: May contain verbs and adjectives.
  • IDEAS - The Theatre of the Mind, occasionally closed for renovations.

Updates on various Awkward Labs projects. Stay informed!

Mon

23

Dec

2013

A Christmas Tale: Silver Bells from Hell

This is a little something I wrote some time ago on my old Livejournal account, and I thought I'd share it here as a sort of semi-heartwarming holiday story. Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!
-wjw

 

 

A Christmas Tale: Silver Bells From Hell

I'm really not sure how I got myself into it. Most of my stories could start that way, and this one certainly is no exception. There I was, at the final night of Christmas choir practice, sitting next to Leslie, my current fifth-grade crush.

Why I decided to join the Christmas choir is beyond me to this day... I didn't have a particular interest in singing at the time, or a particularly good singing voice, and I had no way of knowing that it would eventually land me in a church pew next to my present object of affection. In fact, the whole recruiting process remains fuzzy to me, and if I didn't know better, I would blame some sort of conspiracy.

Nonetheless, I was to be one of the choir that sang at mass on Christmas Eve. I think I even remember making the cut, that there were children who didn't get the honor, and somehow I had bested them. If so, it only sweetens the irony.

Leslie was a seventh grader, and the epitome of the worldly woman. She had dared to wear makeup to choir practice, something strictly verboten during school hours, yet tolerated by our choir instructor. She was a vision in white faux angora and pink lip gloss. Needless to say, I was quite smitten.

For some time during those after-school choir meetings I had been thinking of engaging in a little small talk. I had noticed an "ABBA" button on her macrame purse at a previous practice, so I thought that would be a good ice breaker: "So, how about that ABBA? Those nutty Swedes sure can belt out a tune, huh?" Or: "Didja catch Saturday Night Live last week? I'm not old enough to stay up that late yet, but I hear those coneheads are a real hoot!"

But alas, it would have been fruitless. Leslie seemed to have a permanent blind spot in her visual range that always seemed to land where I was sitting. I guess that's a poetic way of saying that she had no idea that I was alive, and didn't seem like she would be making the discovery anytime soon. But then, what seventh grader goes around noticing fifth graders, anyway?

As coincidence would have it, I also happened to "volunteer" for a part in our Christmas pageant, in the way that children who go to a Catholic school volunteer for things that no one wants to do. My tie was probably crooked that day, so one of the sisters decided that I was going to be a part of our Silver Bells presentation.

Each grade had their own performance that they put on. Our presentation was a quaint little downtown scene, complete with buildings, streetlights, reindeer, a Christmas tree and a traffic light. As is tradition in pageants such as these, children were assigned the roles of inanimate objects with little beaming faces poking out of them. Through some arcane method, no doubt based on a formula of height, stamina, and income level, the nuns chose which children would play which objects.

I got to be a lamppost.

The insult added to this particular injury was that we had to make these props on our own, out of corrogated cardboard and poster paint. Lewis, a child from a particularly wealthy family, got to be the traffic light. In a vital fifth-grade life lesson, I learned the importance of privilege; instead of a cardboard cutout, Lewis had a working miniature traffic light constructed (doubtlessly by one of his maids or butlers or something, my ten-year-old mind fumed). He stood behind it, flipping it's little switch incessantly during each practice, but still looking much less of a fool than the rest of us.

The luckier (and more attractive) children got to play the yuppies who walked through the scene, loaded with packages, talking and laughing and trying not to look at their friends who were trapped in tiny cardboard purgatories of their own design.

I probably sound bitter, don't I? Well, that's because you haven't heard the whole story yet.

On the night of the pageant, which was a few days before Christmas Eve, we gathered in our classroom and got ready for the evening's performance. A group of eighth grade girls were directing the activities, and were telling us to smile and look into the crowd, and so on. One girl thought it would be cute if some of us painted our faces, in a futile attempt to help us embody our roles. To BE THE LAMP, so to speak. Without a moment's hesitation, she pulled out a jar of yellow paint and began to go to work on my face.

"Alright," said I, as if I had a choice in the matter, "but just paint my nose."

One thing lead to another, and before I knew it, my face was covered with yellow paint from ear to ear. Another life lesson learned: No one ever listens to me. Sighing, I donned my cardboard lamppost, and shuffled off to the cafeteria. As they say, the show must go on.

The fourth graders did The Night Before Christmas. The child who played Santa lost his belly stuffing halfway through the performance, and had the audience in stitches. It was a tough act to follow. But follow we did. The yuppies walked and laughed, Lewis flipped that damned switch about a thousand times, and we all sang "Silver Bells."

Except for me. I could feel my face cracking whenever I moved it. I remained perfectly still, held my little cardboard gaslamp, and tried to look like none of this was my idea at all.

After the pageant, I retired to the boy's room to try to wash the paint off of my face. The paint, however, had other plans for the evening. It was poster paint, not face paint. The most I could do was crack it and peel it off of my already-red face. Tiny welts appeared beneath every flake I pulled off.

Pressed for time, I halted the process to bolt to the church for choir practice, my cheeks still covered with flakes of poster paint the color of French's Mustard. It was all quickly forgotten when I took my usual place next to Leslie.

Today was different, however. Leslie noticed me. She turned, looked at me as if I was a real, living, breathing, human being. I was thrilled. The evening was going to turn out all right after all. All of this time, sitting next to her at choir practice, and finally, she noticed me.

And in that magical moment, full of all of the stuff that Christmas is all about, she spoke the first and last words that she would ever speak to me:

"Do you have some kind of skin condition or something?"




Merry Christmas, Leslie, wherever you are. Keep your kids out of the poster paint!

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Thu

31

Oct

2013

New Project - Reasons for the Season

I've launched a new project today - Reasons for the Season, a blog series in which my family attempts to celebrate ALL of the known winter holidays! Check out the "mission staement" first post at:

 

reasonsfortheseason.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/reasons-for-the-season/

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Sat

22

Jun

2013

NPR story is up!

During my book signing at Forney's Too in Dover, a reporter from NPR stopped by to interview me about Polly. Now you can read (and even listen to!) the All Things Considered story on the increasing interest in horseshoe crabs, right here!

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Fri

24

May

2013

Milton's Horseshoe Crab & Shorebird Festival

Tomorrow, I'll be selling and signing copies of Polly at Milton's Horseshoe Crab & Shorebird Festival from 10am to 4pm. There's a lot of fun to be had there, so if you're in the area, be sure to stop by!

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Wed

22

May

2013

Good Morning Delmarva interview is online!

My (second!) interview for Good Morning Delmarva is now viewable on their website, for the benefit of those who may have missed it when it aired. Check it out at http://www.wmdt.com/story/22296769/may-21-polly

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Wed

22

May

2013

Sharing the Polly love...

Gary Knox, owner of Forney's Too on Loockerman Street in downtown Dover, loves his copy of Polly so much that he wants to share it with all of his friends!

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Mon

20

May

2013

Good Morning Delmarva interview tomorrow!

I'll be talking about Polly to Jenn on WMDT's Good Morning Delmarva show tomorrow morning sometime after 6:15am. Set those alarm clocks or DVRs to catch it!

 

(And wish me luck - I have to head out around 4am to get to the studio in time for the interview. This will require mass quantities of coffee!)

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Sun

19

May

2013

Thanks to all who came out!

It's Polly and Carl! These crocheted horseshoe crabs were made by one of the vendors at the festival, and are always for sale at the DuPont Nature Center.
It's Polly and Carl! These crocheted horseshoe crabs were made by one of the vendors at the festival, and are always for sale at the DuPont Nature Center.

Despite cool temperatures and a little bit of rain, the Peace Love & Horseshoe Crabs Festival was a success! I got to talk to a lot of people about the book, heard from a few folks who had already read and enjoyed it, and signed a bunch of copies for some eager readers.

 

Thanks to all who came out to the festival!

Next up - the Horseshoe Crab & Shorebird Festival in Milton, on May 25th.

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Sat

18

May

2013

Peace, Love, & Horseshoe Crabs is TODAY!

This is happening today! If you're in the area, you should stop by - it's a lot of fun!

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Fri

10

May

2013

Polly press release

Here is the official press release for Polly. Feel free to distribute it as much as you like!

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

"Polly", a children's story about a curious horseshoe crab, released by Delaware author and artist W.J. Walton

 

Delaware area writer, artist, musician, and performer W.J. Walton has announced the release of his first children's book, "Polly," about a curious horseshoe crab on a journey of discovery.

“Polly is a story about self-discovery, the love of learning and exploration, and the quest for knowledge and wisdom,” Walton said. "My goal was to create a story that encourages readers to embrace learning, discovery, and the pursuit of knowledge."

Walton said that the subject of his book was a major inspiration to the story. "Horseshoe crabs are a very common sight to most of us who live on the Eastern shore," he said, "but they are still widely misunderstood by most people. My idea was to reverse these roles, and portray a curious horseshoe crab who hears terrible things about humans, and tries to learn as much as she can about them, rather than relying on the misconceptions of others." Walton wrote and illustrated the book, which was funded as a Kickstarter project in the summer of 2012.

Mr. Walton is very active in the artistic community of central Delaware, where he has designed and painted sets for five different theatre groups, performed music for theatre productions, special events, and with Milford's Downtown Dixieland Band, performed as a storyteller for Downtown Milford's annual Halloween Spooktacular, and acted in several productions with Second Street Players in Milford, including a dozen children's theatre shows.

"Polly" is available online and in several Delaware-area locations. For more information about "Polly," visit Walton's website at www.awkwardlabs.com/polly  

Mr. Walton can be reached via email at drawkward@awkwardlabs.com or by phone at 302-430-6077

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Tue

07

May

2013

Polly is available on Amazon.com!

I wasn't expecting it to be ready for a couple of weeks, but it looks like Polly is live on Amazon! You can order your copy through the link below. Please spread the word!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/061579808X/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_awd_5T8Hrb140X7SB

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Sat

04

May

2013

Polly proof has arrived, copies have been ordered!

The proof copy of Polly arrived yesterday afternoon! I looked it over that evening and sent the approval this morning, then ordered the first batch of copies. The first of those will go to the Kickstarter backers, followed by the folks who preordered copies.

 

When the book is available online, I'll post links here!

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Wed

24

Apr

2013

KROKTAPUS in the Bug and Bud Festival Guide!

April 27th, 2:30 at the Milford Library Ampitheatre! Be there!
April 27th, 2:30 at the Milford Library Ampitheatre! Be there!
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Thu

18

Apr

2013

Polly is at the printer!

I uploaded the cover and interior files to my printer the night before last, and just got confirmation that my first proof copy is being printed! Once I get that copy and look it over, if everything looks okay, I'll be sending the order to print my copies!

 

In the meanwhile, you can still preorder a copy of the book if you want to make sure you get an autographed copy - but I can't guarantee how long that will last!

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Wed

10

Apr

2013

Want to pre-order Polly?

The layout and cover for Polly are done, and now I'm just idling in the lot until I get the greenlight from the printer to send the files over.

 

In the meantime, many people are asking where and when the book will be available, and some of them are telling me they want multiple copies! This causes a bit of a problem for me, because I can only print so many with the remaining Kickstarter funds, and if I sell too many of those off right away, I won't have as many available to take to signings, stores, and festivals.

 

So, I had an idea - want to pre-order your copies of Polly? It'd be pretty easy to do - just send me the funds via PayPal before I print the first batch, and I'll make sure your books get added to it. I'll even sign them for you if you like, before I ship them out!

 

HERE'S WHAT TO DO:


Send $20 per copy to my PayPal account (waltonwj@aol.com). Please include $3 shipping for the first copy, $1 for each copy beyond that. (If you plan to get the copies from me personally, you can skip the shipping. If want faster shipping than Media Mail, or you're outside of the continental US, send me an email at drawkward@awkwardlabs.com and I'll give you a shipping quote.)

 

In the Notes section of your payment, please provide the following info:
- Name and mailing address (books will arrive USPS)

- Want it signed? If so, who shall I make it out to?

 

If you can't do PayPal, you can mail a check to me (made out to William J. Walton) at P.O. Box 398, Felton DE 19943 - but please do it SOON to get in before I print! And send me an email to let me know you've sent it, so that I can look for it.

 

What's in it for me to do this?

You'll be confirmed to get an autographed copy of Polly mailed to you. You'll get a copy mailed to you after I'm finished mailing the backer copies, and you'll be guaranteed to get one before I run out of them.

 

What's in it for YOU to do this?

It will allow me to order more copies of Polly in that first batch, which will give me more to take to stores, festivals, schools, and libraries, without running out from the initial demand.

 

What if something happens or something goes wrong and you don't get to print that first batch?

You'll get a refund and an apology. The money won't go anywhere until I'm ready to print.

 

Can I pick up my copy at the Bug and Bug Festival, or one of the other festivals where you'll be?

You certainly can, but right now I have no guarantees that they'll be ready for Bug and Bud. If they're not, I can make arrangements to get them to you.

 

What is the deadline to do this?

That's the thing - I have no idea. I could get the greenlight at any moment, and when I do, I'm moving forward. I'll try to announce it so that folks can jump in at the last minute, but I can't guarantee that you'll have enough time.

 

Will they have Polly stickers with them?

Nope, sorry. I could only afford enough of those for the Kickstarter backers.

 

If you have any other questions, feel free to email me at drawkward@awkwardlabs.com  Thanks so much!

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Thu

28

Mar

2013

Polly: The Game!

It's not too early to start thinking about marketing the Polly name, I think - and I've been in touch with some programmers who say they can whip up a Polly-themed videogame for the current, cutting-edge consoles. They even did a little mock-up of what the cartridge would look like! What do you think?

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Wed

20

Mar

2013

Coming soon!

I'm just going to leave this here.

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Mon

25

Feb

2013

Drawing Polly: A timelapse movie

A couple of months ago, I had the idea to do a timelapse video of the process behind one of the illustrations for Polly. I recorded myself scribbling madly for over three hours, compressed the video down to about five minutes, and posted it as a special treat for my Kickstarter backers. Now I'd like to share it with everyone!

 

I'm wrapping up the last few illustrations for the book over the next couple weeks, then I'll be finalizing the layout and going to the printer after that. I'm hoping to see the final book ready in late March or early April. Keep watching the blog for more updates!

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Thu

10

Jan

2013

Polly update

It has been far too long since the last Polly update, mostly due to life issues, but also because I have been so busy plugging away at the book.

 

Since my last update, I have completed the storyboard, finished a few drafts of the story, sent the story off to my editor, and begun polishing it up. After a few more passes between the editor and I, it should officially be a story!

 

After that point, it will be a matter of finishing the remaining illustrations, and then consulting with the printer to get the first proof made.

 

I really appreciate the patience and understanding that everyone has given me. I had hoped to have this book finished and available by now, but life truly had other plans. I have needed to take the extra time to make sure this book will be as good as it possibly can be, without letting anything compromise that. I truly believe that everyone will be very happy with the outcome.

 

Thanks, and happy new year to all!

- Bill

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Thu

20

Dec

2012

A statement from Awkward Labs on the potential end of the world

So the world ends tomorrow, and stuff. You know, like it does all the time.

Those of you who know me well know that I get a kick out of prophecies and people who make all sorts of crazy supernatural claims. Back when Harold Camping's little clan were prepping for their version of the end of the world, and everyone else was scoffing and laughing (including people who had their own end of the world in mind), I was busy fretting over how easy it is for some people to miss out on all of the incredible things that life has to offer.

I proposed a little event - Do Something Beautiful Day - to counter the idea that we should work so hard to try to figure out when the world's end credits are going to roll. And I'm proposing it again.

Do something beautiful tomorrow. Sing. Paint. Dance. Play. Laugh. Perform. Do each of these as if no one is looking. Share. Read. Talk. Listen. Teach. Debate. Eat. Drink. Be merry. Write that letter you've been meaning to write. (Hell, just write a letter! No one does that anymore.) Make that overdue phone call. Talk to that person that you've been too shy to until today. Hug. Kiss. Shake hands. High five. Make new friends and keep the old. Plan. Reason. Stop to think. Daydream. Prank. Tell stories. Listen to stories. Smell the roses. Cultivate smiles. Take a different route. Wander. Adventure. Explore. Discover. Forget. Remember. Make something up.

Reboot all of your senses. Listen with new ears, see with new eyes, touch with new hands. Appreciate every moment as it arrives, and anticipate the awesome potential of the next one. Enjoy every sandwich. Be happy that it happened.

Pursue happiness. Follow your bliss.

Live a life. But don't live it as if it will end tomorrow. Rather, live it as if you're just getting ready for the really good part.

As for those friends, family members, coworkers, and acquaintances who are caught up in the end of the world - don't point and laugh when it doesn't happen. Tell them you're glad that they're still here. And you're glad that you're still here, too.

Because the world really does end tomorrow. And in the morning after, the sun will rise on a whole new world, for all of us, like it does all the time. The real beauty is that we'll get to do all of that stuff all over again.
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Thu

29

Nov

2012

Awkward Labs has a YouTube channel!

...and here is the first video - A Random Act of Music - Pure Imagination! Enjoy!

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Tue

23

Oct

2012

Spooktacular news!

Here's a great teaser for the Spooktacular from milfordlive.com!

 

Spooktacular evening set for Oct. 27th

 

Don't miss the fun! My storytelling starts at around 4pm, but there are some other great activties starting at 1pm. It all happens at the Riverfront Theatre in Milford. See you there!

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Mon

03

Sep

2012

Upcoming performances with Second Street Players

Here are my next two upcoming projects with Second Street Players in Milford, DE:

- I have been cast as King Monkey in the Second Street Players Children's Dessert Theatre production of Jungle Book. Come see me monkey around this October 12th, 13th, and 14th!

- I've also been asked to reprise my storytelling performance this October for the Downtown Milford Inc./Second Street Players Spooktacular! Mister Moribund will be there to tell some more slightly spooky stories for kids, and there will be other activities to participate in. Come join the fun at 3pm on October 27th!

 

For more information on both of these, visit www.secondstreetplayers.com

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Sat

01

Sep

2012

Cape Gazette story hits their website

...and here's the Cape Gazette story on their website, which just went up the other day. Read it, share it, spread it around on all of your social networks and such!

Local author Bill Walton set to publish horseshoe crab story

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Mon

27

Aug

2012

Cape Gazette article, low eyestrain version

Here's a clear scan of the Cape Gazette article, for those who would like to read it without getting a headache!

(Click to enlarge)

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Sat

25

Aug

2012

More Polly press - Cape Gazette

I had a very nice interview with Rachel Swick Mavity from the Cape Gazette last week, and the story hit the press on Friday! Here are a couple of quick pics I snapped of the paper. (It got a teaser on the bottom of the front page!)

If the story hits their website, I'll post a link here, and if not, I'll try to get a full scan of it and post it here for anyone who wants to read it.

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Fri

27

Jul

2012

Polly on Good Morning Delmarva - the official, "non-bootlegged" version!

WMDT's website has posted the clip of my interview from last week, which you can view here. It's a bit clearer in sound and picture than last week's "bootlegged" copy. (Though I do greatly appreciate my friend Steve's efforts, which gave lots of people who can't get WMDT a chance to see the clip!)

 

Enjoy!

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Thu

26

Jul

2012

Thank you!

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Fri

20

Jul

2012

Polly on Good Morning Delmarva - with video!

The GMD interview went very well, and was a lot of fun. I'm hoping they will have a link to the video on their website eventually, but until then, here's an it'll-do-for-now video shot by my friend Steve:

 

 

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Mon

16

Jul

2012

Polly on Good Morning Delmarva!

I have been asked to appear on WMDT's Good Morning Delmarva show to talk a little bit about Polly! I'll be on this Friday's show (July 20th), at approximately 6:25am. If you happen to be up and about at such an early hour, be sure to tune in! If not, I'll see if I can post a link to the segment so that you can watch online.

 

Wish me luck!

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Fri

13

Jul

2012

Polly in the media

I had a great interview with Gwen Guerke from the Milford Chronicle yesterday - we met at the Milford Public Library and talked (quietly!) about Polly for over half an hour. Gwen tells me the story will likely go live on July 25th, so keep an eye out - and I'll do my best to post a link here on the blog when it does.

 

Speaking of media coverage, and doing my best to post links, it looks like some life issues prevented me from mentioning the Milford LIVE! piece on Polly that was published a couple weeks ago - check it out right here!

 

Polly has just 12 days left before she is funded! If you still want to become a backer, your time is running out. Please keep spreading the word!

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Sat

23

Jun

2012

Polly has been funded - keep spreading the word!

Today at around 11am EST, Polly's Kickstarter project reached its goal.  The book will become a reality. I really can't express how that makes me feel.   I am very grateful to everyone who has supported this project.

 

But it's not over yet! The Kickstarter still has 31 days on the meter - plenty of time for more people to join in! Pledging $16 or more gets an autographed copy in your hands before it's available anywhere else, and further pledges means more copies that I will able to print and donate to schools and libraries, and take to book signings. I'll also be able to do some special promotions for the book, above and beyond my original plans. So please keep spreading the word to anyone who would be interested in becoming a part of this project.

 

In addition, I will be planning some stretch goals in the very near future, so stay tuned!

Thanks again for all of the wonderful support!

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Sat

23

Jun

2012

Polly update - 6/23/12

Greetings, fellow two-feet! Welcome to the first Polly update, where I fill everyone in on the progress of the Polly Project.

- I had a great interview yesterday with Bryan Shupe of Milford Live. He had lots of questions for me about the book and my inspirations and motivations for doing what I'm doing. Bryan tells me that the piece will go live either next Tuesday (the 26th) or the following one (July 3rd), but you don't have to worry about missing it, because I'll be sure to have a very excited post about it right here!

 

- Funding for Polly has been rocketing to the goal - it is now at 96% - $3474, which is just $126 shy of the $3600 goal! I'm giving some thought to potential stretch goals, including an "I supported Polly" t-shirt, maybe.   Anything pledged beyond the goal will go very far to pushing the project - it will allow me to print and donate more books, and advertise and promote the book in more places than I originally planned. So please keep spreading the word!

 

- I haven't even had the opportunity to put up any of the "Have You Seen This Crab" flyers yet. I'll be doing that this weekend. If you have printed and posted any of them, please let me know about it!

 

Thanks to all for your pledges and support! I continue to be amazed at the reception my little story is getting, and I truly cannot wait until I get to share it with you.

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AWKWARD LABS is
W.J. Walton

of Felton, DE

Contact: drawkward@awkwardlabs.com