My son Luke and I are hosting an art contest. We are looking for young artists to help us illustrate the interior of Tinker (RoboTales, book 1). If you love to draw, your artwork could end up in a published book!
Artists must be under 18 to enter and have permission of their parent or legal guardian. No cost to enter. Contest runs from May 11 to July 31, 2015. To learn more, check out the contest pages here: http://jillwilliamson.com/robotales-tinker-contest.
I’m thrilled to reveal the cover for Tinker (RoboTales, book 1). This is the first in an eight-book series that my son and I have been working on for the past three years. It’s so exciting to finally have a book cover! What do you think?
The RoboTales books are advanced chapter books/early middle grade. Tinker (book one) is a retelling of Cinderella for boys—though my daughter really liked it too. Tinker won’t come out until late August 2015.
Why, you ask?
That will be announced tomorrow.
That’s right. Exciting news coming tomorrow!
Today, I wanted to give you a little backstory on how this project came to be.
The dream began in 2012. Luke was in fourth grade. That year I spoke to his entire elementary school to promote the local public library. The books I’d published at that point were best for readers in middle school and up, yet my visit got kids wanting to read my books anyway. Several checked out the 500-plus-page tomes. Some of the fifth and sixth graders stuck with it and read the stories, but most the younger kids lost interest. It made me want to write something for readers ages 7-13.
I went to Luke for help.
Over the course of the next six months, our family brainstormed. Luke had been studying fractured fairytales in his class, so we decided to write a children’s chapter book series of fairytale retellings. The series would take place in a fictional solar system, and the stories would be tied together by a lost robot dog who was trying to find his way home. We called the series RoboTales.
There were already so many fairytale retellings for girls. We thought it would be fun to target this series to boys, though girls would like the books too. I read the first three stories to my daughter Kaitlyn, who particularly loved Robo and the creatures he met along his journey.
As I worked on the books, Luke became my writing partner, naming characters, creatures, and helping to plot out the stories in detail. He even designed Robo out of LEGOs. I couldn’t have done it without him. He’s quite creative.
But 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 brainstorming support, I finished the first three books in our planned eight-book series and we plotted out the other five. It was every writer’s dream to have someone to brainstorm with constantly. Luke and I can’t wait to get these books into the hands of young readers!
Stay tuned tomorrow for that exciting announcement!
I’ve been hard at work on the rewrite of King’s Folly. It’s a BIG book, so it’s taking more time that some books might. The rewrite is due back to my publisher on June 10. I should have a cover in late June to show you all. The release date shifted a bit. Now the first part ebook release is set for December 2015 with the full print version coming out April 2016.
This is an ebook collaboration I’m participating in with six other authors. We are putting together a temporary ebook set of seven YA books to sell for .99. This is in an effort to reach a wide, new audience with our books. Check out the Amazon.com preorder page to see the books that are included. Could be that there are some you’ve never read. And please consider helping us spread the word about this set. We’re only planning to release it for a month or so, then it will vanish forever. You can preorder now on Amazon.com, and it will be available on all ebook platforms June 1.
We’re expecting a book cover any day now for Tinker (book one), and then we will have an exciting announcement to share. We can hardly wait!
Broken Trust (Mission League, book 3)
This book is almost done. So close. But my King’s Folly edits arrived before I could finish it, so it moved to the back-burner. I will have a cover to share soon, though. I am determined that Broken Trust will release in 2015, I just don’t know when.
The Achan and Vrell Novella
This, I’m sad to say, might not happen as planned. *weeps* There is just not enough time in the day, especially when one is working on a massive epic fantasy. I’m not giving up hope entirely yet, but I’m not sure I will find the time to write this in 2015. :-/ (Click the image of Achan and Vrell to watch the book trailer these two starred in.)
CHOIS convention (Christian Homeschoolers of Idaho State) – June 5-6, Nampa, ID. I will have a booth at this event. Come say, “Hello!”
PNACL conference (Pacific Northwest Association of Church Libraries) – June 19-20, Portland, OR. I will be teaching a workshop at this event.
OYAN Summer Workshop (One Year Adventure Novel) – June 22-27, Olathe, KS.
RealmMakers – August 7-8, St. Louis, MO. I will be on staff at this conference, teaching and serving on panels.
Oregon Christian Writers Conference – August 10-13, Portland, OR. I will be teaching a night owl pitch lab.
Salt Lake Comic Con – September 24-26, Salt Lake City, UT.
Any questions? Will I see you in any of these places? Which project are you most looking forward to?
Did you hear about the free ebooks?
Enclave Publishing has put the kindle and iTunes ebook versions of By Darkness Hid and The New Recruit on free for a while. (I’m not sure about international stores.)
Go buy them now for nothing! And if you already have them, please tell your friends. Share the love, guys. Share the love.
Here are the links:
By Darkness Hid on Kindle
By Darkness Hid on iTunes
The New Recruit on Kindle
The New Recruit on iTunes
Purchasing these free books helps me because it shows Amazon and Apple that the books have more buyers, and that changes the dynamics of the “customers who bought this also bought” sections in the online stores. Plus, it has the potential to get readers hooked into the series.
These aren’t the only ebooks Enclave Publishing put on free. There are more deals to be found! Check out this blog post to snatch up the other ebooks. And feel free to share any of these links with friends who you know love to read.
Last fall at Salt Lake Comic Con, I met author Jennifer Jenkins on the Go Teen Writers panel. She is one of the founders of Teen Author Book Camp. This past weekend I drove out to Utah Valley University and presented a class at the fifth Teen Author Boot Camp. I was so impressed! These ladies put on an amazing conference. Not only that, 670-some teenagers participated. It was a packed house!
In my hotel the morning of the conference, I went down to breakfast and met Jamie, her mom, and her grandma. Later on in my class she won a copy of Storyworld First.
The day opened with a keynote from author Jessica Day George. She shared how she once believed if she ever got published, she would receive the “Standard Rich and Famous Contract” like Kermit the Frog and his friends received when they arrived in Hollywood in The Muppet Movie. Reality for Jessica was very different, as it is for most published authors.
I taught a class titled Map-Making 101 in which I shared all kinds of ideas about why one might make a map for a story, what types of things to put on said map, and what to name those things. I taught the class twice. The second time my computer was unable to hook up, so the PowerPoint didn’t work. If you were in that class, click here to get the PowerPoint presentation and my class notes.
Some other highlights of the day was Brandon Sanderson’s class on how to start a story and his keynote that afternoon. I learned a few things from him that day that helped my edit of King’s Folly. (Thanks, Brandon!) I also sat in to watch a couple panels. I had a great time talking with teens about the stories they were working on and meeting new authors. TABC also had a first chapter contest in which a bunch of teens won awards. There was such an impressive group of young writers at this conference.
Teen Author Boot Camp was amazing. I highly recommend it for teen writers. Follow them on Facebook and check their website periodically for details about TABC 2016. I have no doubt that it will rock.
It’s been a crazy year so far in the Williamson household. We’ve been going, going, going! Busy, busy, busy. Sometimes I wish we could find a way to slow life down a lot more. But so far that has not happened.
In March, however, we went on a family vacation to California. We lived in Burbank for nine years, so it was nice to see old friends. In the nine years we lived in Burbank, we passed by Disney Studios over and over again. Both our children were born in the hospital across the street, the same hospital Walt Disney died in. We always wanted to go inside the studio, but they are a closed lot that does not offer tours to the public, so we never did.
My husband is a member of the Disney Movie Rewards program, in which you earn points for buying Disney products, specifically DVDs or seeing a Disney movie in the theater. Four years ago Brad set his sights on the grand prize: a tour for four of Disney Studios. Cost: 15,000 points. Now, when you consider that one new DVD is worth 100 points, you see just how many points that is.
Brad earned them, though, and off we went to claim our prize.
Most of the tour took place outdoors, walking around the buildings and getting the history of the lot and the buildings themselves. We saw the sound stages where they filmed so many great things. Sound Stage 1 (The Annette Funicello Stage) is where they filmed parts of Fantasia and was the original stage for the Mickey Mouse Club. On Sound Stage 2 (The Julie Andrews Stage), Dragnet, more Mickey Mouse Club, Mary Poppins, Armageddon, and Princess Diaries, just to name a few. They also built many Disneyland attractions inside this sound stage, like the Mark Twain Riverboat. There are now a total of seven sound stages on the lot. The show Home Improvement was filmed on Sound Stage 4 from 1991-1999.
We got to see Walt Disney’s original office (from outside the building). These older buildings, the sidewalks, and grassy areas in between were all used in the filming of Saving Mr. Banks. Brad was particularly excited to see the Mickey Ave and Dopey Drive street sign (the only street sign on the lot), which was put here for the filming of The Reluctant Dragon, a movie that gave the public a tour of Disney Studios as a man comes onto the lot hoping to pitch his book to Walt to make into a movie. (A cute film and so interesting to see the way animated films were made, but pretty unrealistic for those of us wishing our books would be made into films. Ha ha.)
We got to see the original animation building where Disney’s Nine Old Men worked, the Hyperion Bungalow, the Roy O. Disney building, and the Team Disney (Michael D. Eisner) building in which the seven dwarfs hold up the roof. This is befitting since the film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was what made Walk the money to build the studio in the first place. Outside the Team Disney building is Disney Legends Plaza, which is a little like the hand prints down at the Mann’s Chinese Theater. We also saw the Frank G. Wells building, inside which our lovely tour guide bought us all Starbucks, then took us into an archive room where we each got to hold an Academy Award Oscar. They were heavy!
We ended the tour at the Disney Studio Store on the lot where our tour guide gave us $100 gift cards! I bought two T-shirts with my share. Brad got a new zip-front sweatshirt, and the kids got stuffed animals, of course.
This was a fabulous experience to take a look at a place that existed because one man had a dream. He didn’t do it alone. His brother Roy was the money man, and if it wasn’t for Roy’s gift with dollars, Walt might never have seen success. One thing I love about Walt, was that he always wanted to the be the first to do something new in filmmaking. And back then, Disney was always on the cutting edge of technology, for example, his team having inventing the multiplane camera. What a fabulous mission, don’t you think?
I usually write for teens or adults. But since both my kids were in elementary school, I wanted to write a story for them. My son, Luke, and I came up with the idea of writing science fiction fairytales. But it wasn’t until we came up with the title RoboTales, that we really got excited. This series has science fiction and/or fantasy settings. Readers gather clues in each story, learn something, and enjoy the adventure. And what kid doesn’t love a robot dog?
While Luke did not write the books, he has helped me brainstorm the plots, characters, planets, creatures, and has helped with editing too. I will give him a co-writing credit on the series. Here is the video that Luke and I made. He edited the footage together himself.
KICKSTARTER: HOW IT WORKS
Kickstarter is a new way to help bring creative projects to life. We’ve all had great ideas, but most of us don’t have the money to invest in starting a business. Kickstarter gives people a way to achieve their dreams by giving them a place to share their idea.
Anyone can donate, but Kickstarter is all or nothing. If we reach our goal, those who pledged money will be asked to pay that money, which we will use to fund our project. If we don’t reach our goal, no one is charged and we don’t get any money.
We’re using Kickstarter to fund RoboTales because illustrating this book costs more money that we have. We plan to personally absorb all the other costs associated with self-publishing. Click here to read more about the cost breakdown on our Kickstarter page.
REWARDS: WHAT YOU GET FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTION
As investors in our project, you will receive rewards based on the level of your pledge. We have ebooks, print books, stickers, postcards, buttons, coloring pages, and LEGO instructions Luke made so that other kids can build their own Robo dog our of LEGOs. Click here to see the full list of rewards on our Kickstarter page.
Let us know if you have any questions for me or my son Luke, and we will do our best to answer them as soon as possible. Please share this page (or our Kickstarter page) with any friends or family members you think might like these books or might be willing to support Luke and me. We can’t wait to get these books into the hands of young readers! Thanks for your time and consideration.
Jill and Luke
My son and I have been working on the RoboTales books for two years now. This year, I hope to get them in print!
These are advanced chapter/lower middle grade books and will have illustrations in each chapter, so we feel the art is very important to the project. I hunted around until I found an illustrator who really captures the feel of the books. Her name is Kirbi Fagan, and she is so talented. Click here to view her website.
Since we need so many illustrations for the first three books, we’re going to try an do a Kickstarter campaign so we can afford to pay for the art up front. Be looking for the Kickstarter campaign to start in late February.
We paid Kirbi to do a portrait of Robo for the campaign to show everyone the style of art we’re hoping to have in the final books. What do you think?
•I started writing Onyx Eyes, one chapter a week, on my blog as an experiment.
•Outcasts, book two in the Safe Lands trilogy, released.
•I continued writing Rebels, book three in the Safe Lands trilogy.
•I also published The Senet Box in January, which is a short story for new subscribers to my blog.
•I finished writing RoboTales, book two: Mardok and the Seven Exiles.
•I wrote RoboTales, book three, The Tiny Cyborg.
•I was approached by Bethany House Publishers, who wanted to see my new fantasy series idea. I had to set aside Onyx Eyes to put some serious effort into what became King’s Folly.
•I finished Rebels and turned it in.
•I polished my three RoboTales books, wrote a proposal, and sent it all to my agent.
•I started working full speed ahead on the proposal for King’s Folly and its sequels to submit to Bethany House Publishers.
•I taught some workshops at the IdaHope Writers Conference where my friend Bill Myers was keynoting.
•I had my first job shadow with a teen from the local high school.
•Zondervan/Blink sent me on a short tour with authors Lisa Bergren, Jonathan Friesen, and Lorie Ann Grover. I went to Salt Lake, UT and Tempe, AZ.
•I finished my proposal and sample chapters for King’s Folly (book one in the Kinsman Chronicles trilogy) for Bethany House Publishers and sent it to my agent.
•Was accepted as a panelist for Salt Lake Comic Con!
•Spoke at the One Year Adventure Novel conference in Olathe, Kansas.
•Captives won an INSPY award in the YA category.
•Bethany House Publishers offered to publish the Kinsman Chronicles trilogy!
•Started writing Storyworld First in hopes of having it ready in time for Comic Con.
•Hosted a word war on Go Teen Writers when I was home alone for a week. Got a lot of work done on King’s Folly.
•Started a Go Teen Writers blog series on Creating Compelling Characters since I was working to further develop my characters in King’s Folly.
•Taught at the OCW summer conference in Portland.
•Rebels, book three in the Safe Lands trilogy, released.
•I released my first solo nonfiction book, Storyworld First, to help writers create a spec fiction storyworld.
•I created an author bookstore using Square. This is a great way for me to offer autographed copies to anyone.
•I attended Salt Lake Comic Con and got to be on five writing panels with a myriad of talented (and famous) authors, including my friend John Otte. I also got to meet Brandon Sanderson and said something ridiculous to him. (I had planned to re-listen to his Writing Excuses podcast on how to behave when meeting an author you admire, but I ran out of time. Ah well.)
•I went to ACFW in St. Louis, where I got to mentor some writers and sit on a panel with Colleen Coble. I was also a double finalist in the Carol Awards with Captives and Project Gemini. I did not win, but, as always, I had a wonderful time.
•I attended the Tree City Comic Con, Boise, Idaho’s first attempt at hosting a con.
•I went on a writing retreat to Lake Tahoe with Stephanie Morrill and Shannon Dittemore. This was a fabulous time and very prductive. I wrote over 36,000 words that weekend and finished my first draft of King’s Folly.
•I did two local school visits for Teen Read Week and Skyped with six other schools from around the country.
•I was asked to give a class at Teen Author Boot Camp in Salt Lake next April! Brandon Sanderson is one of the keynoters. If I get a chance to speak with him this time, I promise I’ll behave. *grin*
•I had some new author pictures taken.
•I worked non-stop on King’s Folly, which is due February 1, 2015!
•Nothing but work on King’s Folly until I turn it in on February 1.
•I had planned to finish the next Spencer book by December 2014, but I got behind. Since it’s so easy to jump in and work on these, I’ll likely work on it while I plot out my Achan and Vrell novella. Ultimately, though, the Achan and Vrell novel has priority over Spencer. Poor Spencer. (Hopefully I’ll be able to finish his book in February.)
•The RoboTales series got some great feedback from New York publishing houses, but was ultimately rejected. Since this is a series my son helped me develop and write, we’ve decided to self-publish them. We’re going to run a Kickstarter campaign in February to try and raise funds to pay an amazing illustrator. These are science fiction and fantasy children’s chapter books to early middle grade level.
•I should be writing my Achan and Vrell novella this month.
•Stephanie and I will be working on putting together our second nonfiction project tentatively called Once Upon The End, which is a writing book for beginners.
•I’ll be teaching at the Teen Author Boot Camp in Salt Lake this month!
•I would like to have Broken Trust (Spencer, book three) release this month. *fingers crossed*
•Hopefully I will have completed my Achan and Vrell novella and be editing it. When I finish, I will dive in to start King’s Blood, book two in the Kinsman Chronicles.
•Lots of hardcore writing on King’s Blood in May.
•Hoping to finish and release Once Upon The End.
•I’m hoping to release my Achan and Vrell novella this month in ebook and paperback. This book will give readers a chance to see Achan and Vrell again and a peek into the world of King’s Folly.
•I’ll be teaching a class at the Pacific Northwest Association of Christian Librarians this month in Vancouver, Washington.
•I’ll be attending the One Year Adventure Novel conference in Kansas. This year Tosca Lee will be there too. Excited to hang out with her!
Spring – Summer:
•Somewhere in here there will be several rounds of edits on King’s Folly.
•More hardcore writing on King’s Blood.
•I’m planning to attend and teach at the RealmMakers conference where Robert Liparulo is keynoting. So excited to finally meet him in person!
•Sept 1 is the tentative release date for the ebook version of King’s Folly: Darkness Reigns. Bethany House is going to pre-release the ebook in three parts. Darkness Reigns is part one.
•Hoping to release the first three RoboTales books this month.
August to November:
•I should be writing nothing but King’s Blood, which is due February 1, 2016.
•December 1 is the tentative release date for the ebook version of King’s Folly: Epiphany, which is part two of the first book.
•I want to finish my Spencer books in 2016. If I manage to release Broken Trust in 2015, that will leave me with one novella and the final novel for 2016. I’ve got them all plotted and partially written, so this seems doable.
•I’m missing Onyx Eyes. I really love that project and hope to get back to it once Spencer is done. I’m like to submit it to publishers. If there is no interest, I’ll go back to the blog plan, then self-publish it.
•I have a fun idea for a middle grade stand-alone fantasy that’s itching to be written.
•I’d like to finish writing Thirst, the prequel to the Safe Lands trilogy.
•I’d like to write my two sequels to Replication.
Of all my projects, which interests you most? Share in the comments.
What are you planning to accomplish in 2016? Share in the comments.
Got some new pictures taken, since I look a bit different from the one of me in the red shirt. I’ve narrowed it down to these four. I will crop whichever one I choose.
What do you guys think?
If you have trouble with the poll plugin, please leave your vote in the comments.