I’m so excited to have Jill Williamson on my blog today. I love her Christian speculative fiction and can’t wait to read her new book, Rebel. I saw she had a Kickstarter campaign to publish a children’s book series co-written with her son–how cool is that!
So I asked her to come tell us about it. Here’s Jill:
I came up with the premise for RoboTales with the help of my entire family. We thought that a science fiction fairytale series would be fun. In each book, Robo the robot dog befriends a child who helps him find clues to the mystery of who built him and why. This children’s chapter book series is for readers ages 7-13.
In the first story, we meet a twelve-year old mechanic named Tinker. He is scavenging for machine parts outside the city and finds a broken robot dog with the letters R.O.B.O. on his belly. This is no ordinary robot. Its hull is thick alloy. Robo can fly. Even better, he can fly in outer space. But Robo is busted, so he can’t really fly at all. Tinker takes him home to see if he can be repaired.
Tinker lives with his uncle and cousins. He works in his uncle’s repair shop and scavenges parts from the local Hunk and Junk. Tinker’s motto is “recycle and create,” and he hopes to someday invent something that will make a difference in his planet’s pollution levels.
When the Invention Institute holds a Recycle Race contest for young inventors, Tinker wants to enter. His uncle gives him permission—if he can find his own parts. Tinker finds an old airbike at the Hunk and Junk and hauls it home, but the night before the contest, his cousins destroy the airbike. That’s when Robo steps in to help.
Each book in the RoboTales series follows Robo as he travels to a different planet. He meets a boy, and they help one another. Book by book, the clues add up toward solving the overall mystery of Robo’s past.
As I wrote, Luke became my writing partner, naming characters, creatures, and helping to plot every detail of the stories. Luke even built Robo out of LEGOs. He is very creative.
With my other writing contracts, my speaking schedule, and the busyness of life, the series hovered at the bottom of my priority list. I just couldn’t find the time to get them written.
From the fall of 2013 to the spring of 2014, I made time. With Luke’s continual brainstorming help, I finished the first three books and plotted the last five in our planned eight-book series. The finished books were sent to my agent, who pitched the series to publishers. Months later, the rejections started coming. In an age where most brick and mortar bookstores are suffering, publishers aren’t as willing to take a risk on a new children’s chapter book series that cost so much to make due to the artwork, yet sells for so little. So we decided to publish the books on our own.
With children’s books, illustrations matter just as much—and sometimes more than—the story. Luke and I went hunting for the perfect artist and found Kirbi Fagan. She has a gift for illustrating these types of books. And she loves dogs too!
But we couldn’t afford to pay her up front. Which was why we decided to try a Kickstarter campaign. This would help us sell books in advance. In backing our campaign, you are really pre-ordering these books. That way we can use the money to pay the illustrator now, and we’ll send you the books once they release in October 2015.
Kickstarter is an all or nothing program. If we reach our goal by the allotted time period, those who signed up to support us will be asked to pay the amount they pledged. If we fail to gather enough supporters by the end date, no one is charged and we get no money to pay our illustrator.
Click here to visit our Kickstarter page and read more about this project, including our budget and a full list of backer rewards. Please help us spread the word about RoboTales. We can’t wait to get these books into the hands of young readers everywhere!