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Viewing Blog: Chris Rettstatt, Most Recent at Top
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Professional blog for Chris Rettstatt, Chicago-based YA author and Associate Director of Story Development at Star Farm Productions.
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1. My blog has moved


I’ve moved my blog to rettstatt.com.

Please update your bookmarks.

China tends to block blogs hosted on wordpress and sites made on google sites, so I’m finally getting around to setting up a proper site and blog at rettstatt.com. Because I spend a lot of time in China and I’d like for my stuff to be accessible there. I promise I won’t move it again.

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2. And yet another sneak peek at the animation test


Spot in the Arena

Spot in the Arena

2 Comments on And yet another sneak peek at the animation test, last added: 3/2/2009
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3. Happy Chinese New Year!


Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year!

      

3 Comments on Happy Chinese New Year!, last added: 1/28/2009
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4. Kids and Digital Ownership


There’s a book out now that has a chapter I contributed. The book is Settlers of the New Virtual Worlds, and my chapter is called Kids and Digital Ownership.

Here’s an excerpt from my chapter:

Managing Youth Creativity

What is the value of a digital creation, and who owns it? Particularly among the young, the line between creator and consumer has blurred, as has the question of ownership.

Some companies claim full ownership of content created with their tools or stored on their servers, while others take a more hands-off approach. When it comes to kids, neither strategy is ultimately effective.

The hands-off approach, whereby the company denies responsibility for and ownership of user-generated content, is not compatible with laws and standards that are in place to protect young people. For example, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) makes it difficult for website operators to allow children to share freely, and when the website is monitored, the operator can’t deny knowledge of a problematic piece of content.

And using an online contract such as a Terms of Service or an End User Licensing Agreement (EULA) to claim ownership of user-generated content does not work with children, and such digital contracts end up being worth the paper they’re written on.

The solution, however, is not to shut the gates to children. Today’s youth are the ones who will build and manage tomorrow’s virtual worlds as well as enact policies that govern those virtual spaces. The manner in which we address their needs today will have a direct impact on tomorrow’s virtual cultures, laws, and best practices.

Go here to learn more about the project:

http://www.bettereula.com/wp/settlers/

      

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5. The future for school libraries


A dear friend of mine is doing some research into the current situation of libraries that serve children, and particularly school libraries. I offered to help, so I’m posting her questions here.

Feel free to answer here or email me directly at Rettstatt (at) gmail (dot) com. Also, if you happen to know of any good online resources, please share.

If any of my readers work in the field and have a few minutes to answer three questions by tomorrow (Tuesday) evening, then I’ll owe you a big favor. At the very least, I’ll owe you a signed copy of The Sky Village for your library or personal collection, whichever you prefer.

(1) What is the biggest challenge facing your library specifically and libraries serving kids (especially schools) in general these days?

(2) What’s the best thing that’s happening with your library?

(3)  What do you see on the horizon–emerging trends, possible opportunities, potential obstacles to look out for?

Bonus (optional) questions:

(4)  Who does the buying for your library?  What is the process?  Is it effective?  Why or why not?

(5) What do you wish people knew about libraries and kids these days?  Or, if you prefer, anything else you’d like to say to someone who’s very interested?

      

1 Comments on The future for school libraries, last added: 1/21/2009
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6. Another shot from the kaimira animation test


Mei in the Sky Village missing her parents

Mei in the Sky Village missing her parents

Disclaimer: this is from an animation test, which was used to explore a particular style of animation we are considering using for Kaimira. Whether or not we ultimately go with this style, it’s too interesting not to share.

      

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7. The Sky Village: Best Christmas Gift Books 2008 (Time Out London)


The Sky Village was just listed in  Time Out London as one of the best Christmas Gift Books for 2008.

Kaimira: Book One, the Sky Village
Monk and Nigel Ashland, with illustrations by Jeff Nentrup
Walker £6.99
A dystopian fantasy, ‘Kaimira’ is set in a world divided into three factions: humans, beasts and Meks (machines). Like Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ series, it boasts an appealingly feisty female heroine and a more thoughtful, troubled male one. One of the most seductive aspects of Pullman’s books is the settings he conjures for the adventures of his characters and – though the writing here is not in the same class – the Sky Village, a community of linked hot air balloons floating high above China, and other richly described locations, offer similarly escapist pleasures. ‘Kaimira’ ends somewhat abruptly in order to establish the opening for volume two, but it’s a satisfying read and worth considering as a present for a young reader suffering Pullman (or Potter) withdrawal symptoms.

      

3 Comments on The Sky Village: Best Christmas Gift Books 2008 (Time Out London), last added: 1/6/2009
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8. Image from Kaimira Animation Test


Image from Kaimira Animation Test

Image from Kaimira Animation Test

      

1 Comments on Image from Kaimira Animation Test, last added: 12/24/2008
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9. Round Four at the Eva Perry Mock Newbery


The fourth and final shortlist came out for the Eva Perry Mock Newbery. And The Sky Village is still hanging in there.

I love Mock Newbery awards. Even the ones that don’t nominate me.

And in case you didn’t notice it over there on the left, this is what the paperback is going to look like:

The Sky Village (paperback)

The Sky Village (paperback)

      

1 Comments on Round Four at the Eva Perry Mock Newbery, last added: 12/24/2008
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10. Sony and Children’s Privacy


So, Sony is paying $1 Million for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule.

It wasn’t any sort of evil white-collar schemy crime. They didn’t launder money or engage in insider trading. Like a surprising lot of companies, they just didn’t bother to bother the experts. In this case, children’s online community experts. They demonstrated a profound lack of rigor.

The thing wasn’t that they collected email addresses. There are ways to do that legally without jumping through too many hoops. And it wasn’t that they pshawed the COPPA Commandments. The mistake, at the simplest level, was asking for date of birth. That tiny little drop-down doohickey provided the “actual knowledge” that did them in.

There’s more to it, of course. And a company like Sony should be just as invested in best practices as they are in the law, and best practices for them would start with the acknowledgment that kids are going to be visiting their music websites and they’d better face that fact head on.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they went out shortly and recruited themselves a Czar to wear the thinking cap on this sort of thing from now on.

      

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11. Analog Review of The Sky Village


In their review of The Sky Village, Analog picked up on an important theme that I wanted to draw attention to:

“The theme of nature versus technology with humans caught in the middle unless they can somehow integrate it all is important in the world we have created, and it is one that the younger readers that are this book’s audience will profit from absorbing.”

Read the review here.

      

1 Comments on Analog Review of The Sky Village, last added: 12/13/2008
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12. The Sky Village Nominated for Cybils 2008


2008 Nominations
Fantasy and Science Fiction (Middle Grade)


39 Clues
written by Rick Riordan
Scholastic



Airman
written by Eoin Colfer
Hyperion


Best Friend for Claudia
written by Beatrice Weinberg Katz
PublishAmerica


Boots and Pieces
written by Emily Ecton
Simon & Schuster


Boy of All Time
written by Che Dee
Calderwood Books



Cabinet of Wonders

written by Marie Rutkoski
Macmillan


Dark Legacy
written by K. G. McAbee
Calderwood Books


Dark Whispers

written by Bruce Coville
Scholastic


Diamond of Darkhold

written by Jeanne DuPrau
Random House Children’s Books


Dinosaur Blackout

written by Judith Silverthorne
Coteau


Dragon Flight

written by Jessica Day George
Bloomsbury USA


Escape the Mask

written by David Ward
Amulet


Ever

written by Gail Carson Levine
HarperCollins


Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague

written by Brandon Mull
Shadow Mountain


Facttracker

written by Jason Carter Eaton
HarperCollins


Family Matters

written by Kristin Sheley
iUniverse


Farworld: Water Keep

written by J. Scott Savage
Shadow Mountain


Fish and Sphinx

written by Rae Bridgman
Great Plains Publications


Flora’s Dare

written by Ysabeau S. Wilce
Harcourt


Girl Who Could Fly

written by Victoria Forester
Feiwel & Friends


Gods of Manhattan

written by Scott Mebus
Dutton Juvenile


Graveyard Book

written by Neil Gaiman
HarperCollins


Grim Hill: The Secret Deepens

written by Linda DeMeulemeester
Lobster Press


Gypsy Crown

written by Kate Forsyth
Hyperion


Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go

written by Dale E. Basye
Random House Children’s Books


House of Many Ways

written by Diana Wynne Jones
Greenwillow Books


Inkdeath

written by Cornelia Funke
Scholastic

Kaimira: The Sky Village
written by Monk Ashland
and Nigel Ashland
Candlewick Press


Lamplighter

written by D. M. Cornish
Penguin USA


Land Beyond the Clouds

written by Valerie Bishop
Light Publishing


Magic and Other Misdemeanors (The Sisters Grimm, Book 5)

written by Michael Buckley
Amulet


Magic Thief

written by Sarah Prineas
HarperCollins


Mary Lamb Enters the World of Maze

written by F. T. Botham
PublishAmerica


Masterpiece

written by Elise Broach
Henry Holt


Misty Forest Fables

written by Acrid Hermit
Fauna Trek


Monks in Space

written by David Jones
Annick Press


Once Upon a Time in the North

written by Philip Pullman
Knopf Books for Young Readers


Order of Odd-Fish

written by James Kennedy
Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers


Other Side of the Island

written by Allegra Goodman
Penguin USA


Ottoline and the Yellow Cat

written by Chris Riddell
HarperCollins


Out of the Wild

written by Sarah Beth Durst
Penguin USA


Palace of Mirrors

written by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Simon & Schuster


Philippa Fisher’s Fairy Godsister

written by Liz Kessler
Candlewick Press


Portal

written by Jaqlyn Von Eger
Trafford


Queste

written by Angie Sage
HarperCollins


Remarkable and Very True Story of Lucy and Snowcap

written by H. M. Bouwman
Marshall Cavendish Children’s Books


Ring Dragonz

written by Mister Rengerz
Helm Publishing


Robe of Skulls

written by Vivian French
Candlewick Press


Runemarks

written by Joanne Harris
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers


Savvy

written by Ingrid Law
Penguin USA


Seer of Shadows

written by Avi
HarperCollins


Shadow Diamond

written by S Brooke
PublishAmerica


Sisters of the Sword

written by Maya Snow
HarperCollins


Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire

written by Derek Landy
HarperCollins


Softwire: Betrayal on Orbis 2

written by PJ Haarsma
Candlewick Press



The Curse of Cuddles McGee

written by Emily Ecton
Aladdin


Things That Are

written by Andrew Clements
Philomel


Thornspell

written by Helen Lowe
Knopf Books for Young Readers


Travelers Market

written by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Idylls Press


Tygrine Cat

written by Inbali Iserles
Candlewick Press


Unnameables

written by Ellen Booraem
Harcourt


Warriors Power of Three: Eclipse

written by Erin Hunter
HarperCollins


Well Witched

written by Frances Hardinge
HarperCollins


Wild Magic

written by Cat Weatherill
Walker Books for Young Readers


Winter Wood

written by Steve Augarde
Random House Children’s Books

      

2 Comments on The Sky Village Nominated for Cybils 2008, last added: 12/22/2008
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13. Genre of the Month Interview


A while ago I was interviewed by Carol(ina) from Genre of the Month. I had fun with the interview and asked her if I could reprint it here.

Chris Rettstatt is the author of the sci-fi & futuristic new series Kaimira (first book, The Sky Village).

1.) What made you start writing?

When I was eight, I read Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, and I immediately began writing poems. Within a few hours I’d filled up a notepad with poems. And since then, I never stopped writing.

2.) If you weren’t an author what would you be?

I sometimes joke that I’m a children’s book author who wishes he was a linguist. That’s because I love language and grammar, and I love studying foreign languages. I also like making up my own languages, which I’m doing with the Kaimira Code. But that’s mostly a joke, because as much as I love those things, I love writing even more.

3.) How did you choose you character’s names?

My wife’s nickname is Longmei. She was born in the year of the dragon, which is “long” in Chinese. Adding “mei” which means “sister” in Chinese, makes it into a nickname.

When I first started developing Rom’s character and his tribe, I was drawing inspiration from Romani cultures (sometimes called Gypsies). And then ROM has a techie meaning as well, as in CD-ROM, and so I just kind of liked it.

4.) What’s the best thing about being an author?

No matter what I do, whether traveling to other countries or standing in line at the supermarket, it’s all research.

5.) What’s your ideal writing spot?

I do a lot of writing in coffee shops, particularly when I’m traveling, but I’d have to say my favorite spot is my desk at home. I’ve got everything I need there and plenty of room to pace around.

6.) How did you come up with the idea of The Sky Village?

I was sitting outside, trying to imagine this strange future world I had just started to create. What would my characters see and hear? I looked up at the clouds, and the idea just hit me — a village made of hot air balloons.

7.) Why YA?

I don’t think so much about the age borders around books. When I was in my teens, and even before, I read whatever looked good, and even now I have a hard time remembering which of those books were technically written for young adults. So I just write for the sort of reader I am, and the sort of readers my friends tend to be. And lately, a lot of the best books that fit my personal taste happen to be YA books.

8. Do you ever come up with play lists for your books? If so, what are the songs?

I did have a playlist while I was working on The Sky Village. The songs included:

9.) Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

I believe my best advice can be drawn from my playlist. It’s somewhere between “Don’t Give Up” and “Where Is My Mind?”

Ok, my actual advice comes in two parts. On the one hand, you have to know the business of the business. You have to become familiar with what books are being published and read lots and lots and lots of them. Pay attention to the publishers. Subscribe to newsletters that keep you updated on publishing trends. Join your local SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). Think of yourself as a partner in the publishing process.

On the other hand, you can’t let the business steer you. Stay flexible, and listen openly and humbly to feedback you get. But at the end of the day, it’s your story, and you have to trust your creative instincts. If you aren’t fiercely loyal to your creative vision, nobody else is going to be.

10.) Which character are you most like? (Can be from any book)

When I was a teen, I wanted to be like the Motorcycle Boy from Rumble Fish. But wanting it didn’t make it so.

11.) If you could collaborate with any author dead or alive who would you pick?

I’m not sure I like the idea of collaborating with a dead author. But assuming he wouldn’t be a zombie or vampire, I’d have to choose Dostoevsky. Not that he’d be all that pleasant to work with, but I could just sit at his feet and try to soak in some of that brilliantly layered characterization.

12.) Do you have any upcoming books?

Kaimira is a five-book series, and I’m currently hard at work finishing up #2, which is called The Terrible Everything.

13.) What is your favorite food or snack to eat when you’re writing?

I can’t say that I snack much while I’m writing, but I do drink a lot of strong coffee before lunch and then a lot of green tea after lunch.

14.) What were some of your favorite books when you were younger?

Lord of the Rings, The Dark Is Rising, A Wrinkle In Time, The Outsiders

15.) Do you have any pets?

Right now I travel too much to keep a pet, but I grew up with all kinds of pets running around. My dad used to rescue stray animals and bring them home, everything from hungry dogs to a pig that fell off a truck. My most recent pet, before I moved away from home to go to college, was a ferocious kitten named Grendel: Slayer of Grasshoppers.

16.) Does writing cut into your family time?

It helps that I’m a morning person, and I get my best work done before anyone else wakes up. But my twins know that I can’t resist playing with them every day, even when I’m under deadline.

17.) Do you have any hobbies other than writing?

I absolutely love traveling to other countries and then trying to figure out how to cook the food I eat there.

18.)What are some of your favorite movies?

Raising Arizona, Rushmore, Man On Fire, Miller’s Crossing, Spirited Away, Harold and Maude, A Clockwork Orange, Princess Mononoke, Oldboy

19.) What’s your favorite ice cream?

I call it Twin Can Ice Cream. You need a small coffee can and a large coffee can, ice, rock salt, and ingredients for home-made ice cream. Put the ingredients into the small can and tape it shut, put the small can into the large one, surround it with ice and rock salt, and tape it shut. Then give the can to a pair of energetic twins to kick around, throw, roll, or whatever for about a half hour. At the end, you have some delicious home-made ice cream.

      

1 Comments on Genre of the Month Interview, last added: 12/1/2008
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14. Twins on Tour


This is a home video of my twin girls and not intended to be professional. I made it for friends and family who haven’t seen the twins in a while. And since it’s largely friends and family who read my blog, I thought I’d post it here. The footage is from a couple of weeks before and a couple of weeks after our epic journey from Chicago to Chongqing, China, for an extended visit with the in-laws. Work has brought me back to Chicago, so I’ve been away from them for a few weeks. Hence the choice of song.

      

1 Comments on Twins on Tour, last added: 12/17/2008
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15. The Sky Village in paperback


So the book won’t be out in paperback until April 14, but it’s up on Amazon for preorder. I have to say, I love the paperback cover. And Amazon’s book cover zoom thingy allows you to zoom way in and explore the details.

Check it

      

1 Comments on The Sky Village in paperback, last added: 11/29/2008
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16. Children’s Book Authors and Online Privacy Law


Children’s book authors,

Do you have a website where you collect email addresses from kids?

Are you familiar with United States federal law regarding commercial websites that collect personal information from children? It’s called the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, and a single violation can have a civil penalty of up to $11,000.

Even if you aren’t making money from your author website, it’s a commercial site if you are using it to promote your books. Because of this, you have to be careful how you collect personal information from children.

The best resource for learning about this is the FTC website, but it’s a lot of data and more than most of you need. And this is where I make it clear that I’m not a lawyer (IANAL). But I am familiar with the legislation and best practices that protect children online.

So here are a few basic tips.

The easiest thing is not to collect email addresses from kids at all, which means deleting them from your inbox, address book, and anywhere else they might be hiding.

But you wouldn’t be an author if you had any interest in the easy path. And you want to be able to collect those email addresses and send out announcements.

So, let’s take a look at what’s second easiest.

  1. Post a privacy statement on your website, in a prominent place on the main page and on any page where you collect email addresses.  There are specific things you should include in the statement, so check them out:
    • Your name, address, telephone number and email address. You may want to use a P.O. Box and create a separate email address. Just be sure to check it regularly
    • The type of personal info you are collecting (in this case, names and email addresses), and how you are collecting it
    • How the info is going to be used (in this case, to send email announcements)
    • The fact that you won’t disclose this info to third parties
    • That the parent can review what info you’ve collected from their child and ask you to delete it
    • And that you aren’t allowed to condition a child’s participation in an activity on the disclosure of more information than is reasonably necessary to participate. That means you should only require email addresses for activities that need it, such as a newsletter or forum notifications.
  2. Make sure your sign-up gizmo has an age-screening mechanism:
    • This is generally just a drop-down menu that asks for date of birth.
    • If the signer-upper is under 13, they should be prompted to include a parent’s email address as part of the sign-up process.
  3. A notice should automatically be emailed to the parent’s email address. This notice should state the obvious:
    • that you have collected the child’s name and email address.
    • that the parent can respond to the email and tell you to delete the child’s info.
    • and that if the parent doesn’t respond, it means you have permission to use the child’s email address to send announcements.

    Note: this method is only good for collecting email address. If you are collecting home addresses and such, that will require additional steps, which we won’t get into here.

  4. Don’t allow children to post freely on your site. If you have a blog or forum open to children, screen everything and remove any personal information, including email addresses.
  5. And while it might not be required as part of this particular law, you should remove any other information, such as school or teacher names, that might help a predator track down the child. Best to be safe.
  6. If you have a section to display fan mail, fan art, fan fiction, etc., be sure to strip away any personal information. First name and city should be sufficient to give credit.
  7. Most importantly, don’t let this scare you into shutting down communication. These few steps will allow you to stay in direct contact with your fans, which is the steady breath of fresh air any children’s book author needs.
      

1 Comments on Children’s Book Authors and Online Privacy Law, last added: 11/24/2008
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17. Mock Newbery Shortlist


I posted a while ago that my first book, The Sky Village, had made the shortlist for the Eva Perry Mock Newbery Book Club. Then it made the second shortlist. And now I’m delighted that it’s on the third shortlist.

Here are a couple of nice things the Committee had to say about The Sky Village:

Well-formed writing style that impeccably blended two plot sequences… and it had demons fighting!” - T.
I experienced sensations that at times made me feel like saying ‘Don’t do that or you will get hurt!‘” - J.

      

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18. Review of The Sky Village by VOYA


From VOYA:

Across the planet from one another, in a post-apocalyptic world fraught with constant peril, Mei and Rom fight for survival. Mei, hovering over China’s desolate landscape in a community of refugees living in hot-air balloons, struggles to find her purpose in her world’s highly ritualistic social order. Rom, fighting to save his sister in the caves under what is left of Las Vegas, must learn the complex rules of a decadent and demented society. These two exceptional young people find comfort when they discover they can communicate with each other through the assistance of the magical Tree Book, which holds sinister secrets of its own. The theme of balance threads together the tales of the two complex protagonists. Mei must learn to balance her physical body as she maneuvers herself on the ropes that weave together the Sky Village. Rom’s challenge is to balance his emotions as he conjures his inner demons (literally) into reality in order to survive in the vile underground gambling arena. Much what these compelling heroes work to control, however, is internal. They both carry the unique kaimira gene that connects them and allows for communication with the world’s warring factions, the maverick machines (meks) and the packs of ferocious, fearless beasts. With strong characters of both genders, terrifyingly unpredictable villains, frightening futuristic settings, and wonderfully written action sequences, this book, first in a planned series of five, should have crossover appeal for fans of adventure, science fiction, and fantasy. Reviewer: Lynne Farrell Stover

      

2 Comments on Review of The Sky Village by VOYA, last added: 10/15/2008
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19. Authors on the Verge Interview with Chris Rettstatt


My interview with the very talented Cynthea Liu and her rabbit Snoop was posted today.

Here’s an excerpt:

Tell us a little bit about your path to publication.

I started writing when I was eight, the moment I’d finished reading Where the Sidewalk Ends. By bedtime I’d filled a notepad with poems. Fast-forward a few years, and teenage me is reading series fantasy like it’s going out of style. Which it never does. Because two decades later, when I’m given an opportunity to pitch a book series for kids, my thoughts turn immediately to series fantasy with a bottomless well of world building.

Read the rest, and be sure to post a comment there :)

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20. The Edge of the Forest Reviews The Sky Village


If you don’t follow the online children’s literature monthly called The Edge of the Forest, you need to bookmark it now, and not just because there’s now a review of The Sky Village in there. It’s just an all around excellent resource.

But since I mentioned it, there is a very positive review there for The Sky Village. Allison Fraclose wrote the review, and she reposted it on her personal blog.

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21. Wrapping up the blog tour


Yesterday was the final stop on my virtual blog tour for Kaimira: The Sky Village. Thanks everyone who participated. Tracy from Candlewick who got the ball rolling.

Sheila from Wands and Worlds, who kicked things off. She also gave the book a very nice review and is hosting a contest to win a free copy, and will be hosting an author chat with me in August.

Shelf Elf (read, write, rave), came next with some challenging questions (which I had a lot of fun answering). The best fantasy or sci-fi book of all time? Geeze, that’s a hard one!

Next was Cloudscome at A Wrung Sponge, who somehow managed to get some secret info about my childhood. How exactly did the Incredible Hulk become a theme in my life?

An interview with Jan at Brighton Book Bloggers was the next stop. Again, some very challenging questions and fun to answer. The interview reminded my why I love apocalyptic sci-fi.

On Friday there was a bit of a twist, when the stop was Susie’s blog at the Association of Online Community Moderators. I attempted to demonstrate how my shift from the online community field to writing fantasy isn’t as gigantic as it seems.

And wrapping up the tour was an interview with Bri from Bri Meets Books, who also had some fantastic questions. My favorite, I think, was what characteristics from my characters would I like my twin girls to have.

Thanks again, everyone. And for anyone reading this who hasn’t visited the tour stops, there’s no time like the present.

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22. The Sky Village Blog Tour


Here’s the schedule for next week’s Blog Tour for Kaimira: The Sky Village.

Monday, July 14, 2008
Wands and Worlds

Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Shelf Elf

Wednesday, July 16, 2008
A Wrung Sponge

Thursday, July 17, 2008
Jan Dohner, Library Media Specialist

Friday, July 18, 2008
Association of Online Community Moderators

Saturday, July 19, 2008
Bri Meets Books

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23. Kaimira: US cover versus UK cover


Kaimira: The Sky Village comes out today. Which means, for anyone who’s read it, you can post a review on Amazon starting today.

And now I will show the US cover (top, hardback) and the UK cover (bottom, paperback).

The Sky Village (US cover)

Kaimira: The Sky Village (US cover)

The Sky Village (UK cover)

Kaimira: The Sky Village (UK cover)

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24. Reviews of The Sky Village


Excerpts from early reviews of Kaimira: The Sky Village.

The Sky Village is the soaring debut to Monk and Nigel Ashland’s new young adult series, Kaimira.

I loved the imagery of the Sky Village. The colorful hot air balloons seemed so full of life that they made the contrast with the barren Las Vegas even more apparent. At first I was much more drawn to Mei’s story, but over the course of the book I really connected with Rom. His devotion to his sister and his determination to do anything to save her was very touching.
- Bookish Ruth

If you love to read novels with complex, unusual and well-realized futuristic societies, you will likely enjoy The Sky Village. It’s clear that Monk and Nigel Ashland put real heart into developing a believable and intricate world. The episodes in the Sky Village itself were my favourite parts of the story. I could really imagine this huge floating city drifting above the Chinese landscape. I’m sure that there will be many fans Rom’s plotline, as the demonsmithing scenes are dark and thrilling. This is a story for guys and girls, for anyone who loves tales of adventure and other worlds.
- Guys Lit Wire

This was a great sci-fiction, futuristic book. It immediately pulled me in and wouldn’t let me go. It’s thought provoking and the characters feelings are great.The characters felt real and you couldn’t help caring for them or wanting to smack them on the head sometimes.When Rom was fighting in the arena you couldn’t help gasp with horror or cry out when Rom was hurt. The writing was amazing. If you like sci-fiction books or books set in the future then you will love this book. The Sky Village was an exciting, adventurous, amazing first book in a series of 5.This was a great debut from Monk and Nigel Ashland I can’t wait for the sequel to come out. The ending left me wanting more.
- Bookluver-Carol’s Reviews

Kaimira, book one, was a very satisfying read. Satisfying, because it was exciting. Satisfying, in a sense that you want more. And satisfying, it was above your expectations.
Minkster’s Blog

Charles Dickens meets Star Wars in this tale of brave waifs battling nightmarish evils in a future world. It’s a story rich in visual imagery, derring-do and doing-the-right-thing. While the parts of the story gave me the creeps, it’s a good read for kids who aren’t afraid of the dark, especially those who relish a creative story.
- Carol Fahey, Teacher

For an action adventure book it delves into emotional states quite often. Even though more descriptive than most books for this age group I think that the pace fairly flew and would be able to keep the attention of any child who had a fascination with anime, fantasy, and heros taking on monumental, adult tasks.
- Rurik Reviews

I found this novel to be fascinating and thought-provoking. After reading how the beast and machine elements are blended with humanity in Mei and Rom I began to see these elements in balance and in conflict within myself. When I am trying to get my little ones organized and out the door on time for work in the morning I feel the beast rage rising
in me and struggle to bring cool mek intelligence to bear.
- a wrung sponge

I was captivated by the idea of the sky village itself and I often found myself turned back to the two-page illustration of all those hot air balloons and the people sliding between them on ropes hundreds of feet above the earth. The story itself alternates between Mei in the sky village and Rom in the scary underground world beneath Las Vegas, where he battles mechanical beast demons in a life or death game. While I found myself identifying with Mei, I can see how other readers will find themselves absorbed by Rom’s struggles.
- brighton book bloggers

The Sky Village is an exciting story with likeable main characters. The writing was engaging and the changing viewpoints kept things interesting.
- tardis, LibraryThing

The Sky Village is a unique fantasy with rich world building. Monk and Nigel Ashland have created two fascinating cultures, each of which shows elements of their root cultures. The Sky Village is a lovely concept, a city made of balloons tied together and floating above China. The culture of the Sky Village is an interesting mixture of traditional Chinese elements with unique elements unique to an airborne society. I particularly loved the nuptial rituals. The caves under Las Vegas, by contrast, have a culture steeped in greed and gambling that seems appropriate to their location.

The characters are also interesting, varied and colorful. The two protagonists are likable, sympathetic, and quite human: they make mistakes and they fail, sometimes with disastrous consequences, but they are both courageous and caring, and try to make up for their mistakes.
- Wands and Worlds

In Sky Village, the Ashlands combine elements of future story, fantasy, survival, adventure, identity, and culture. The series reminds me a bit of Philip Reeve’s Hungry City Chronicles (Mortal Enginesand the like). Although Reeve’s series is aimed at a slightly older audience than the Kaimira series, both grapple with ideas about Otherness and possible ways of interacting with those who are different from ourselves.
- Library & Literary Miscellany

…any child or adult fan of Sci Fi/Fantasy should find something of interest in this series, and I will definitely be looking out for the next book in the series.
- A Reading Life

Monk and Nigel Ashland’s The Sky Village oscillates between pulse-raising action, and heartfelt takes on grief and loss. Both primary characters are richly written, and the emotional travails Rom and Mei face come across in sharp paragraphs and gripping situations. The depth of familial love is captured perfectly as Rom helps his sister construct puppets modeled after their parents, and Mei relishes her time with one of her mother’s pets.

Though a teen series, Rom and Mei wrestle with adult situations as both must save those around them by recognizing and controlling their newfound genetics. Throughout The Sky Village profound questions are raised, such as a futility of progress in science, the price of power, and what differentiates man, beast, and machine. The Sky Village is an exciting new entrance into the children’s literature world, and a worthy contender.
- BriMeetsBooks.com

A dazzling start to what promises to be a sensational new series, The Sky Village hosts a likable and sympathetic cast of characters, an exciting and fast-paced plot, and a wonderfully rich and believable setting. Occasional illustrations compliment the story nicely by allowing for better visualizations of this fantastical world and its inhabitants. While I enjoyed almost everything about this book, I especially liked the descriptions of Mei’s life on the balloons. The Ashlands have created a unique landscape that spoke to the child in me. I could see the sky walkers dancing across ropes from balloon to balloon as Mei watched breathlessly. It was a stark contrast to the dark underbelly of Las Vegas that served as home to Rom and his sister, Riley.

Geared toward middle readers, I think even adult fans of science fiction and fantasy books will be pleased with The Sky Village. I’ll definitely be looking for the second installment, when hopefully we’ll be introduced Lizard Girl, another Tree Book owner we’ve yet to meet.
- Traci’s Book Bag

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25. Kaimira animation test: sneak peek


I’ve mentioned the work I’ve been doing with BBC Worldwide to develop the Kaimira story for other platforms (such as TV, film, and gaming). I finally got permission to show a sneak peek at a direction we’re exploring for animation. When these are final, they’ll be part of a short animation test.

The disclaimers are: we’re still in exploratory phase, so any of this could change at any time. So this is just a peek at the process, not the final thing. Also, please don’t use the images without permission.

3 Comments on Kaimira animation test: sneak peek, last added: 9/18/2008
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