Cover image from Donna Litt's novel Where the Sun Sets.Making words make a difference Kayleigh Platz November 30, 2016 Columns, Communitech, Ecosystem, Tech About Town Black Friday and Cyber Monday kick off the holiday season known as gluttony. Your email is swamped with exciting and limited offers. Buy! Sale! Need! Giving Tuesday began in 2012 as a response to the hyper-commercialization of Christmas. Take a moment, remember those with less, remember what the holiday season should be about, it seems to say. Donna Litt is looking for ways to extend Giving Tuesday in her community beyond one day a year. We first met Litt in February, 2015, just months after she had quit her job at NetSuite to follow her passion for writing. Since then, Litt has completed five full-length novels and she’s caught the interest of a literary agent for one of them. But Litt has many more stories to tell — stories that cross genres. Stories that would make it difficult to cast Donna Litt as one type of writer. “I have such a split of focus in my writing,” she said. “I’ve written children’s books, fantasies, romances, et cetera.” As she finished writing the draft of one of her novels, Litt realized that the literary agent currently reading another one of her manuscripts wouldn’t be interested in publishing the new one. They were too different. Litt, however, had the realization that she could publish under multiple names, and let different names be different types of writers. A nom de plume isn’t an original idea, though. And, antsy to be published, Litt wasn’t keen on pushing through the agent process with an entirely different name. She wanted to get her book into people’s hands. “It’s easier to get a book published once you already have one published,” she said. So Litt came up with a unique plan for her pen name: She launched a crowdfunding campaign on Inkshares for her latest novel Where the Sun Sets, written under her maiden name, Donna Fung. Inkshares is a unique publishing house that requires readers to pre-order a book. After 250 copies are sold, Inkshares will publish it. After 750 copies are sold, an author receives royalties. Litt liked the idea of knowing she had readers thanks to the Inkshares model. Her goal with this manuscript, and every other novel she publishes as Donna Fung, is to use all the proceeds to further local STEAM initiatives. She’s joined forces with Pat the Dog (a company that champions Ontario playwrights) and Diyode (a Guelph, Ont., non-profit that aims to foster an enthusiasm for DIY and the maker mentality). “My goal is to provide sustainable support of [Waterloo Region] creators who create amazing things using the best of what the arts and sciences have to offer,” Litt said. If it sounds like a big, hairy, audacious goal, that’s because it is. “Curious things happen when the arts and sciences come together, and curiosity often leads to compassion,” she said. Through her writing and relationships with tech and arts non-profits, Litt hopes she can better help connect people and organizations in the growing Waterloo Region while also strengthening the bonds that exist between arts and tech. “I want to help preserve the spirit the spirit of curiosity, where the best of the arts and sciences overlap in innovation,” she said. “I don’t want us to dilute out that special part of our DNA as our community grows.” As part of her crowd-funding campaign on Inkshares (disclaimer: I’ve supported this campaign) she’s launched a cover design contest that closes on Dec. 4 and a series of articles highlighting local makers called Makers & Shakers. She’s 40 days out from the end of her Inkshares campaign and experiment and about 100 copies away from reaching her quill goal. While Litt obviously wants to see her novel published, she’s also excited about the community support she has received and the conversations her writing has allowed her to participate in. “A lot of this lives in my head where arts and tech innovation overlap, but I’m learning it exists [in our community], too.” *** I’ll be baking Christmas cookies (I have an insatiable love for rum balls) and going to my first Christmas party of the season this weekend. I see and hear that … When the sun sets on Dec. 2 you should head downtown for the Krampus Kristmas Market at The Adventurers Guild (36 Ontario St. N., Kitchener). Krampus is a twist on the traditional Christmas market. The market runs from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., and then the next day from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Expect unique vendors who you won’t find at a mall … Uptown Waterloo will be celebrating the re-opening of King Street between Union and Erb on Dec. 3. Head uptown between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. for the Festival of Living Streets. You’ll experience visits with Santa, ice sculpture carving, strolling Victorian carollers and free horse-drawn trolley rides. The shops in uptown will be open and excited to have you visit … The KW Poker Chicks are playing their last games for the year on Dec. 7 at EY (515 Riverbend Dr., Kitchener). The $15 buy-in covers snacks and drinks, and registration is required. Don’t worry if you’ve never played poker before, lessons start at 7 p.m. and are followed by a guest speaker before the tournament starts at 8 p.m.