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One boy's story of adventure and survival on the ultimate frontier, set on Mars in the not too distant future.
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112 backers pledged $4,300 to help bring this project to life.

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BOOK SPECS

Title: Jett Smith and The Alien Grave

Genre: Science fiction

Audience: Readers age 8-14, Space enthusiasts

Length: 38,000 words (or about 180 pages)

Gist: A thoughtful Mars-based adventure novel that features a coming-of-age hero, fun characters, relevant themes around technology and science, as well as a dramatic ending that will stun readers.

PLOT SUMMARY

Imagine life on Mars. Deadly cold temperatures, mega Martian dust storms, cramped living conditions, a constant lack of water, not to mention the vacuum of space, all threaten your day-to-day survival. To make it you need steady nerves and a strong work ethic.

For 12-year-old Samuel Jett Smith, living on Mars isn't a dream, it's a reality. His reality. And the ruthless Red Planet is the only home he's ever known. Jett lives on Colony X, a settlement his mom and dad helped build after a devestating global disaster on Earth. He was the first human born on the colony; now Jett and the Colony Xers are all that's left of humanity.

Since there aren't many 12-year-olds on Mars, Jett's best friend is a robotic sidekick named Al. Jett and Al work as scouts and drive heavy-duty rovers along the Martian terrain in search of resources. This means spending long hours in a pressurized space suit. It's dangerous work, but you have to grow up fast on this ultimate frontier.

The adventure really begins when Jett and his dad travel to the South Pole of Mars on a scientific expedition. Jett begins hearing strange voices that lead him to discover the TERRIFYINGLY STRANGE remains of an ancient alien race, buried deep within the Martian ice. 

PROJECT TEAM

ANDY ORR, Writer. The story is my brainchild. I grew up reading The Hardy Boys and Tom Swift Jr., and as an avid sci-fi geek, I've been incubating a Mars-based adventure series of my own for young readers, all from a belief that kids need quality science fiction to fuel their imaginations. Real-life current events surrounding the Red Planet inspired me to complete a book manuscript of Jett Smith and The Alien Grave, but I need more talent to bring the story to life.

JAROD LENZ ERWIN, Artist. Jarod is a talented concept artist based out of Seattle who creates mind-bendingly cool illustrations. He works for Microsoft and created art for the HALO video game franchise. Jarod has designed some preliminary artwork, but with your backing I'll comission him to produce compelling cover art and one-of-a-kind illustrations throughout the book that reflect the science fiction spirit of my story. You can check out Jarod's portfolio at lenzerwin.com.

SHIRIN BRIDGES, Editor. Shirin is my editorial guru. She's an award-winning children's author based out of San Francisco. Shirin is also "Head Goose" at Goosebottom Books, and was recently featured on NPR for writing and publishing the first American book to be enhanced by the latest augmented reality. With your backing, I'll hire Shirin to provide professional editing services that address the conceptual and sentence-level-quality of my book to ensure the best possible product for readers. You can read more about Shirin's many accomplishments at goosebottombooks.com.

SARA GARATE, Teacher. Sara is a 4th grade teacher at Stevenson Ranch Elementary, a National Blue Ribbon school in Stevenson Ranch, CA. With your backing, Sara and I will pilot a draft of Jett Smith and The Alien Grave in her classroom. The pilot will include a variety of reading and writing activities around the story and its characters. Students in Sara's classroom will also get to interact with the author (me) through webcam and email. Their comments and reactions will yield valuable feedback and possible revision points. Real 4th graders will have a hand in completing the book; in this way, they will become a part of the book-making process! This unique pilot project will also inform the design and writing of the Jett Smith eCompanion Guide.

Jarod's rendering of Jett. Your backing means artwork like THIS for the book!
Jarod's rendering of Jett. Your backing means artwork like THIS for the book!

LET'S TALK REWARDS

I love ebooks and digital platforms, but hate having to pay $12.99 for the latest Kindle release. That's why everyone who makes an entry-level pledge of $5 or more gets a professionally illustrated, professionally edited, professionally formatted digital copy of Jett Smith and The Alien Grave. But the rewards don't stop there.

If you'd like to back the book project at a higher level, I have some fun, meaningful add-ons to offer in exchange. Like a thank you eLetter that gives a sneak peak of Jett Smith adventures to come; an eCompanion Guide; a chance for your name to go in the book's acknowledgements page; and even a 9" by 6" trade paperback version of the book SIGNED by me, the author.

Exciting, right? You can browse the Reward Scheme for a breakdown of what backing at various levels will get you. Become a part of the story. Because kids need quality science fiction to fuel their imaginations. 

BUT IS THIS BOOK JUST FOR KIDS?

Nope. I wrote the book with a target audience in mind (readers age 8-14). But I think space enthusiasts, Red Planet buffs, and people who generally like life-on-the-frontier narratives, father-son themes, and coming-of-age heroes will enjoy the book, too.

I'll be posting writing samples as we go, along with artwork from Jarod as it becomes available, so stay tuned. You can also read more about me and the book on the official Jett Smith Blog.

WHY MARS?

The pioneering efforts of Elon Musk and the folks at Mars One, along with the landing of the robotic rover Curiosity in August of 2012, means the topic of visiting - and one day colonizing - Mars is becoming a realistic and exciting topic of national conversation. The Red Planet's not only ruthless but relevant too, and definitely worth talking and writing about. This brings me to one of the key motivations behind Jett Smith and The Alien Grave.

I wrote the book out of a belief that kids need quality science fiction to fuel their imaginations (the WHY behind this project). Because it feels like we've lost our love affair with the future. We haven't been to the Moon in over 40 years. The NASA budget continues to wither. And we haven't yet landed a man or woman on Mars. What happened? We used to dream about Warp Drive; instead we got Twitter.

Maybe a new wave of science fiction for kids can kickstart a generation of dreamers and innovators. With this aim in mind, I've written Jett Smith and The Alien Grave not only to tell a story, but also to tell a story that can be adapted for use in elementary and middle grade classrooms. (Hint hint, for teachers who are looking for stories that bridge reading and creative writing with science, technology, engineering, and math).

WHY YOU SHOULD BACK

  • Kid-friendly writing enriches vocabulary
  • Storyline explores BIG ideas around technology and science
  • Become a part of a unique DIY publishing experiment
  • Backers get a copy of the finished book
  • Series potential = more Jett Smith book adventures to come
  • They say the first human to set foot on Mars is alive today and probably around the age of 12. What if reading THIS book is the inspiration for THAT journey?

Risks and challenges

The book manuscript is written. My artist and editor are on board and ready to go. The budget goal is lean and attainable. Finally, I've given myself a realistic deadline to get a finished product to my backers. All the markers of a successful project are in place.

The aim of this project is focused primarily on launching the ebook version which distributes at the click of a button. This eliminates most of the headaches and risks that go along with printing and distributing a large volume of hard copies.

While the focus is on launching the ebook, upper-level backers will earn a trade paperback. Here, my concern will be producing a quality bound, asthetically pleasing book you can hold and feel and enjoy with your own two hands. The printer I have lined up is dependable and has a solid infrastucture, but quality is key and something I'll strive for.

In addition, my project has a lot of moving parts. There's a writer (me), an artist, an editor, not to mention a formatter lined up on the back end to format the completed book for both digital and print editions. I'll need to maintain consistent communication with all team members to ensure the project is on schedule and on track.

We are a GO for launch! Blast off in 3,2,1...

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    You get a digital copy of Jett Smith and The Alien Grave.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    You get a digital copy of Jett Smith and The Alien Grave + A thank you eLetter from the author with a sneak peak of Jett Smith adventures to come.

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    13 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    You get a digital copy of Jett Smith and The Alien Grave + A sneak peak eLetter + A Jett Smith eCompanion Guide.

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    12 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    You get a digital copy of Jett Smith and The Alien Grave + A sneak peak eLetter + A Jett Smith eCompanion Guide + Your name (or your child's name) in the book's acknolwedgements page.

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    17 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    You get a 9" by 6" trade paperback of Jett Smith and The Alien Grave + A digital copy + A sneak peak eLetter + A Jett Smith eCompanion Guide + Your name (or your child's name) in the book's acknowledgements page.

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    6 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    You get a 9" by 6" trade paperback of Jett Smith and The Alien Grave SIGNED by the author + A digital copy + A sneak peak eLetter + A Jett Smith eCompanion Guide + Your name (or your child's name) in the book's acknowledgements page.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    You get a SKYPE meet-and-greet with the author to geek out and talk about the book, Mars, robots, and the possibility of alien life in the cosmos + A 9" by 6" signed paperback + A digital copy + A sneak peak eLetter + A Jett Smith eCompanion Guide + Your name (or your child's name) in the book's acknowledgements page.

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Funding period

- (30 days)