Monday, June 24, 2013

Creating the Video for Our Kickstarter Campaign: The Initial Concept

The folks in charge at claim video is the most important element in creating a successful campaign. Videos are placed at the top of the page, and in most cases are the only item presented on a iPhone display unless you request more info. Video is used to tell your story, with text and supportive imagery used below in your profile.

The task of creating a video seemed very daunting at first based on the many outstanding videos I've seen on Kickstarter in the past. A good video is one that best represents your project and your personality, is of a manageable length and inspires someone to contribute to your campaign. Your message must be clear.

The Initial Concept

Whether you want to "wing it" in front of the camera for a more candid approach, or you want a polished and "put together" feel, you'll need to spend some time developing a storyline. Your story must be compelling. What will engage your viewers?

Do you have a quirky personality? Let your personality shine. 

Will your project impact a lot of people in a profound way? Focus on the human interest element. 

Is your project visually appealing? Find a way to best showcase the art you've created.

Next step: Researching your video content & Writing A Script

For more information about our Kickstarter Campaign, The Cultured Chef, check out

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mexican Bread of the Dead (Pan de Muerte)

Illustration by Coleen McIntyre
Day of the Dead Bread

Every year on the evening of November 1st, cemeteries all over Mexico are filled to the brim with families celebrating their loved ones that have passed away. Complete with music and food, the celebration feels more like a birthday party than a funeral. There is plenty to eat and drink with everyone contributing something that was meaningful to their loved one.

Bread of the Dead and Day of the Dead go hand-in-hand. Bakeries on every street corner sell the sweet, round bread in the days leading up to November 1stAvailable in many different sizes, there are most often small decorations baked into the bread in the shape of tear drops, hearts, flowers and bone shapes. These rolls are placed amongst the flowers and decorations, afterward eaten in the early morning hours as families prepare to go home. 

1/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons anise seed
1/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons white sugar


1.     Heat the milk and the butter together in a medium saucepan, until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and add them warm water. The mixture should be around 110 degrees F

2.     In a large bowl combine 1 cup of the flour, yeast, salt, anise seed and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Beat in the warm milk mixture then add the eggs and orange zest and beat until well combined. Stir in 1/2 cup of flour and continue adding more flour until the dough is soft.

3.     Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.

4.     Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This will take about 1 to 2 hours. Punch the dough down and shape it into a large round loaf with a round knob on top. Place dough onto a baking sheet, loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until just about doubled in size.

5.     Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven let cool slightly then brush with glaze.

6.     To make glaze: In a small saucepan combine the 1/4 cup sugar, orange juice and orange zest. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 2 minutes. Brush over top of bread while still warm. Sprinkle glazed bread with white sugar.

Nicholas Beatty is a children's book writer and publisher. His projects explore multicultural themes allowing children to discover the world through whimsical folktales, recipes and activities. You'll find more recipes and writing about world culture in his children's cookbook, The Cultured Chef.

I Love Dia de Los Muertos!

Day of the Dead
Photo by Nicholas Beatty (Patzcuaro, Mexico)

I am absolutely in love with Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos), the Mexican holiday celebrated to remember the dead. Colorful crepe paper banners called Papel Picado flutter in the wind at schools and art galleries, and sugar skulls and dancing skeletons are spotted everywhere. The playful imagery associated with Day of the Dead has become world famous, inspiring artists such as Frida Kahlo and Tim Burton.

I've traveled to Mexico and Guatemala to experience Day of the Dead firsthand on a number of occasions. From Oaxaca, Patzcuaro, Baja and more, each region of Mexico is known for celebrating in their own unique way. This makes for a unique sampling of local flavors and traditions for those of us who keep coming back for more.

The Catrina

A famous Mexican artist named Jose Guadalupe Posada is known for inventing the character Catrina in the early 1900s. She is an elegant skeleton woman of high society dressed in fancy dresses with big scarves and floppy hats. She was designed to remind the people that everyone faces death the same, whether they are rich or poor. Visitors to Mexico can find hundreds of different versions of the Catrina gracing business lobbies, art galleries, individual homes and hotels. She is loved by the people and has come to be among the favored imagery of Day of the Dead.

Frida Kahlo

A Mexican artist, Kahlo began painting after a near fatal bus accident left her severely injured. With ample time on her hands during recovery, she spent many hours producing self-portraits. Though she struggled with the label her entire life, Kahlo is considered one of the most important surrealist painters to date. She eventually became the first Mexican artist to sell a painting for more than a million dollars.

Frida Kahlo imagery has become integrated with Day of the Dead and Mexican pop art symbology. You'll find Catrina's fashioned after Kahlo, as well as altars dedicated to her throughout the country. 

Kahlo's contribution to Mexican art and culture has been profound, and she is one of the most celebrated artists worldwide. Her bold style and unique approach to life has been documented time and time again in theatre productions and feature films.

You'll find as I continue to write about world culture and traditions, I return to Mexican culture time and time again. The color and vibrancy of their traditions are so incredibly lively, and family takes center stage as communities come together to celebrate. It is through celebrations like Day of the Dead that visitors can gain a real understanding of traditions and culture of the beautiful people of Mexico. 

Nicholas Beatty is a children's book writer and publisher. His projects explore multicultural themes allowing children to discover the world through whimsical folktales, recipes and activities.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mini Libraries Are Taking Over Seattle!

I am absolutely in love with this idea of establishing little libraries all over the city. You can bet your life I'll be establishing one of my own. What a fun contribution to make to the community, especially since many people are dedicating the libraries to loved ones that have passed on.

When It's All Said and Done...

Since January of this year (2013), Coleen McIntyre and I have been working endlessly on our new book The Cultured Chef: An International Cookbook for Kids. It has been a long and winding road getting to the where we are now. Our journey has included Coleen quitting her job of 15 years to concentrate on our work together, and me scaling back on my duties at the publishing company where I've worked for the last 10 years.

Coleen and I have worked together through temper tantrums (mostly by me) and moments of complete frustration. But there is a reason we are continuing on the path we're one. The simple answer is we weren't meant to do anything else. When inspiration and creativity call out your name... sometimes you've just got to just stop, drop and roll with the flow.

The last 6 months have led us to launching our project publicly through The crowdfunding website allows creatives like ourselves to announce their projects and potentially find public backing to make them become a reality. There is nothing more exciting than pressing the "Launch" button on a project you've poured every ounce of your energy into for the last 6 months.

Currently, in our second full day of Kickstarter launch, we've surpassed 35% of our goal. That means with 29 days left of our campaign, there's a high likelihood we're going to see our project fully funded. Whether we make it or not, I can't go on without thanking all of the amazing people who have helped us out throughout the creation and launch of our Kickstarter campaign.

Here are a few people that come to mind:

Russell J. Young
Jonathan Swanson
Nancy DeLong
Pam Atherton
Mark Middleton
Lois Middleton
Todd Werkhoven
Sophie Albright
Erika Albright
Bruin Albright
Cole Stoddard
Kimberly Field
Rachelle Matheson
Counterform Graphic Design
Jim at Precision Images

And many thanks to all of the people who have helped proof our project page, marketing copy, etc.

In the next 29 days, I know whatever will be... will be. Whether our project reaches full funding or not, to be able to witness a community of people coming together to make a creative project a reality is more than enough reward.

Please take a moment to check out our Kickstarter campaign here.

The Cultured Chef has launched on Kickstarter

There is a missing link in the American educational system where kids really aren’t taught much about other cultures until they reach the 3rd or 4th grade. The Cultured Chef: An International Cookbook for Kids was created to help fill in the gap. Designed to promote diversity, the book offers wholesome world recipes and stories about other cultures.

Books that illustrate world culture are essential for a well-balanced child. When kids are raised with exposure to diverse cultures, they later become much more creative in their approach to their own careers, relationships, and the social impact they make on the world.

More than just a cookbook, The Cultured Chef offers ways to stimulate all of a child’s senses through unique recipes, whimsical illustrations, and stories about fascinating people and places around the world.

 “The goal of our cookbook is to create a global community of children concerned about what goes on around them. It not only introduces children to other cultures, but encourages them to use their new cooking skills through direct involvement in their community,” said Nicholas Beatty, author of The Cultured Chef. “Preparing and delivering recipes to local shelters gives children a broader sense of their community, and encourages lifelong philanthropy.”

Each illustrated recipe in the book offers easy step-by-step instructions that allow kids to take the driver’s seat in the kitchen, with a supervising adult as their assistant. Readers can choose from a wide assortment of Breakfast, Lunch, Appetizer, Dinner, and Dessert menus.

Cooking and cultural education make the perfect partnership. Spending time in the kitchen allows many opportunities to learn life skills such as counting, measuring, and following instructions. While cultural exploration offers an opportunity for children to become healthy and active participants in an ever-shrinking global community.

The Cultured Chef: An International Cookbook for Kids is written by Nicholas Beatty, and illustrated by Coleen McIntyre, both of Portland, Oregon. The book is the subject of a national crowd-funding campaign using the platform. More information can be found atby visiting the project page here...

About Nicholas Beatty and Coleen McIntyre: Children’s book writer Nicholas Beatty, and illustrator Coleen McIntyre are a creative partnership working in children's publishing. Their projects explore multicultural themes allowing children to discover the world through whimsical folktales, recipes and activities. Their first collaboration was the children's cookbook Baking with Friends, winner of 5 national publishing awards.