Mesh and the Big Book Deal Adventure – Part Two

 

Mesh and the Big Book Deal Adventure – Part TwoGood news, everyone! I have an update on the ‘Big Book Deal Adventure’ I started for Mesh a couple of months ago – some good news to share. Actually, strike that – this isn’t good news, it’s GREAT news for the writer game. Here’s what’s going on:

So the mission has always been to write a novel, find an agent, and get a book deal. In professional terms, it’s the difference between getting hired by a large company versus being an independent contractor. There are pluses and minuses either way, but I decided a long time ago that I’d rather go the professional route and get a book deal. Here’s the next installment of the story:

Our hero, Jackson, was rejected by many, many book agents. Like many other authors, he knew that this was part of the process. Jackson knew he must keep pushing forward, even though it felt like he was pushing cold, wet laundry up a mountain.

As Part One told you, he got what he thought was good news: a lit agent team at a prestigious book agency expressed interest in Mesh. Hooray! Could this be the moment when Mesh finally sees the light of day? No! Due to circumstances beyond almost everyone’s control, the agency imploded in a social media scandal. Agents resigned from the agency in protest, meaning all potential deals were null and void.

Then, the most amazing thing happened: the lit agent team, having gone their separate ways, ended up at a variety of other literary agencies. The person who responsible for recommending Mesh to a lit agent was now a lit agent themselves! More than that, she never forgot MESH and encouraged Jackson to resubmit Mesh for consideration. Then, after many weeks, Jackson received the following email:

Dear Jackson,

I’m digging your submission of MESH and would like to request the full if it’s still available. Please follow the instructions below.

Can’t wait to start to reading!

Huzzah! MESH takes another step forward toward the book deal!

It’s wonderful to see Mesh move forward to the next step of acceptance at a major lit agency in Manhattan. But let’s put this in context: in professional terms it means a recruiter likes your resume, and thinks they may be able to help you get a job. Anyone who’s ever looked for a job will tell you – recruiters who like you are great, but that’s no guarantee of success. The end of the road is when you get a new job, or sign a book deal. Our hero can’t afford to get too comfortable yet.

But it’s still great news, and I’ll post another piece of great news later today!

 

Mesh: We Don’t Do Racism or Sexism Here

As I work to get Mesh into the hands of an agent, let me take a second to talk about something Mesh definitely does not have: Disrespect for women. We don’t do the ‘Male gaze.’ We don’t objectify female characters, or look at them like creeps. I treat all of my characters with the same level of respect and dignity. No sexism, no racism; full stop.

Does that sound unusual? It shouldn’t. And yet, stuff like the ‘male gaze’ is a thing. The casual sexism, creepiness, and misogyny that flows through male-written fiction is too common to be ignored. For anyone who says ‘this isn’t a big deal,’ you can say “Yeah, it is. Yeah, it is. Yeah, it is.

Here’s the deal: writers are people. Authors’ feelings come through their own writing and not always in a good way. Every writer comes from their own experience, their own perspective. Sometimes their perspective is skewed and it comes through their writing. Sexism in writing isn’t just an old-world concept. It’s still happening. If you start to pay attention, you see guys like this …, or this … , or heck, even this, from the Chicago Tribune.

Someone taught these guys that women only exist as plot devices in a man’s universe. I don’t know how this started. I’ve never seen that memo, but I know it’s there. It’s real, it’s happening. Little details seep into their narrative. The focus on female characters turns them into sexualized objects for … I dunno, somebody’s entertainment but it sure isn’t mine.

Like, dude.

I’ve known many strong women in my life. It would be a disservice to them to let Mesh treat female characters with any level of dignity and respect lower than the male characters. Some writers do that, but I don’t and I think it’s important to say – Mesh: We Don’t Do Racism or Sexism Here.

I’m not alone in this quest. Other male writers, like Terry Pratchett, Hayao Miyazaki, and Brandon Sanderson, follow the mandate to give every character the same level of well-rounded, unsexualized, character development. I strive to do the same with Mesh, it’s that simple.

I wasn’t thinking about sexualizing my characters when I wrote Mesh. Maybe it’s me, but I see that as a good thing. I have a guiding principal when it comes to writing my female characters and I think it’s time to share it with you. Are you ready?

Girls are people, too.

Yes, women are human beings. That shouldn’t be a revolutionary thought. This shouldn’t be a novel concept. Yet, it seems to be the exception not the rule. So I want to take a moment to assure you, dear reader, that Mesh and any other story I write, sees you as a real person who deserves respect and dignity. The Mesh cast of characters are boys and girls from many different backgrounds and circumstances. Male and female geeks, from all parts of the world, who look through the world with a post-racist lens. They’re people. Not things.

And by the way, none of this is written like a political statement. Treating people with respect isn’t about politics. It’s about being a decent person. I’ve spoken about this before, but I’ll say it again. I want to write stories like Gene Roddenberry did; tell stories where the future we want just is. Get past the hangups of sexism, and racism. If we can do that, we’ve accomplished more than almost any other civilization in history. That’s a future worth fighting for.

So if there’s one takeaway from this discussion, it’s this. Mesh: We Don’t Do Racism or Sexism Here.

When you read my stories, you’ll get treated with respect and dignity. I made sure. There are a lot of exciting things in this universe, but racism and sexism don’t exist here.

Welcome home.

Mesh and the Big Book Deal Adventure – Part One

Mesh and the Big Book Deal Adventure - Part OneNovelists sometimes say that a novel is really two stories – the story itself, and the story about how it got to the market. I’m starting to see the truth of that statement, after this week’s events. Rather than becoming bitter, I’m choosing to see all of this as part of being a writer. Therefore, I’ll tell you about it in the form of Mesh’s Big Book Deal Adventure going forward.

So once upon a time, there was a writer named Jackson who wrote a book. It was called ‘Mesh,’ and he wanted it to be a traditionally published novel, instead of self-publishing it. That meant querying agents. Lots and lots and lots of agents. He sent out query letters for a long, long time.

After many re-writes of Mesh, he started to get responses from agents that weren’t rejections. Some liked the idea of Roman, Zeke, and the rest of the Snow Foxes. But while they were interested, other things in the world were happening.

“Thank you so much for submitting MESH,” the agent assistant said. “I had sent out the partial report … and immediately fell in love with your MS … I’m in the process of looking for another agency so keep an eye out and maybe in the future I’ll have the opportunity to read your full manuscript.”

“Oh wow,” Jackson replied. “She had to find another job? I wonder what-” his eyes fell across a news update about literary agencies closing down. Someone’s ill-formed social media post set off a firestorm of controversy and in the aftermath, the entire agency staff had been terminated. Now, instead of finding an agent to represent Mesh, the book agents were finding new jobs. Bother, and bother again.

Well, Jackson thought. It could have been worse. I could have signed with this agent, been mid-flight in getting a publishing deal only for Mesh to break apart like the Challenger. 

Additionally, the fact than an industry contact ‘loves’ Mesh means that someone else can fall in love with it, too. Like so many other hurdles in life, sometimes the only solution is to press on.

And then Jackson sat down, and began sending out more query letters.

So that’s chapter one of Mesh – the Big Book Deal Adventure. I hope you enjoyed it, we’ll see how many other chapters are written in this saga of daring experience!

Mesh – Forging and Shaping

As promised, Mesh has gone through another round of edits and now it’s ready for presentation to new lit agents. The changes made to Mesh and the process of these edits reminded of something: forging and shaping steel into a sword. Watch this cool video, and then I’ll explain what I mean:

What you may have noticed at 3:37 of the video is how the blacksmith had to go back again and again to heat, shape, re-heat, and re-shape the steel until the design matched his expectations. Sure, there were plenty of times where he could have said ‘done, good enough.’

However the blacksmith has his standards, and when it comes to writing I have mine. Yes, I thought Mesh was done before, but when it was obvious there were things that could be better, I have no choice. I have to go back and re-shape the material, especially if I expect my ‘blade’ to survive the battle.

Forging and shaping Mesh has other benefits: the feedback received now shows Mesh is a high-MG/low-YA novel, not just a YA novel as previously thought. I wasn’t aware that there was such a strong distinction, but there is and it means life-or-death to an agent query. (Click here to read more about why that matters)

So in a nutshell, Mesh is ready for viewing (again). I sincerely hope that the book is ready for the next phase of the journey, but I have to be ready to go back to the forge if it’s not. Thumbs up!

 

Tina – New Mesh Character Concept Art

I’m really happy with how fast this came together. Please enjoy this piece of character concept art for Mesh. One of the main supporting characters of the novel is a fifteen year-old teen named Tina. Enjoy the Here’s a brief description:

Pretty, Roman thought. Not like… like Konani, but still. Zeke elbowed Roman and mouthed the word cute. She had a studious face framed by ash-blond hair that spilled over an oversize flannel shirt. Puka-shell necklace above her Miramar High t-shirt. Tina measured them with a crisp, searching look while spinning a pen around chipped aqua nails.

This piece represents a decent step forward in my efforts to not suck as an artist. I was able to use lines, lighting and some new paint brushes to make this piece come together and I’m really happy with how it turned out. Click the picture for a wallpaper-sized version. Enjoy!

 

 

Mesh Networking: How It Works

So yes, Mesh takes its name from ‘mesh networking.’ Non-nerdy types might immediately wonder after finishing the book, ‘is this real? Can a mesh work?’ The answer to both questions is yes – mesh networking is totally real and can totally work. Let’s talk about the why’s and how’s in a handy little format for future reference.

Number one, let’s give out some technical terms in a very Explain Like I’m Five format. A node is a single device in a network, a link is the thing that connects two nodes, and a topology is the arrangement of nodes and links in a network. For example, the the picture on the right represents a topology’ of nodes and links. Nodes and links can take many forms, and a topology can take any form to represent how everything is connected together.

You’re used to seeing that in pictures of the Internet. Your computer or phone connects to a wireless router or network cable. From there, everything is routed and switched depending on what you want to do. This is all controlled, more or less, by specific organizations or companies with their own ideas of how a network is supposed to function (For example, AT&T, the FCC, or ICANN). With me so far? Okay.

Okay, now imagine that the Internet is broken. Or, you can’t use it, or you don’t want to use it. Does that mean your computer is useless? Of course not. It just means you can’t get to specific things that the Internet connects you to. You can still print, or transfer files back and forth between two computers on the sample simple network. Now imagine that everyone is in the same boat as you. They’ve got a small local network, but they can’t get to outside services like the Internet which means they’re disconnected from Twitter, Netflix or Google. What now?

This is where a mesh network comes in. A mesh can take advantage of the bluetooth or Wifi tech in your phone to broadcast info within a small range (100-200 meters). Each device then takes responsibility for being both the node, and the link at the same time. Put enough of these meshed devices together, and you’ve got a groovy little Internet of your own. No special tools, no crazy skills required.

People are already making use of mesh tech. Serval, and Firechat are both apps that exist to allow simple message and file transfer between anyone. Sonnet is working on their own mesh Wifi hot spots. We can expect more complex tools in the future.

In fact, Mesh networking can even work with old Ham radios. According to Offgridsurvival.com, ‘radio operators were using an internet of their own called Packet Radio. Packet Radio allows Hams to send files, update bulletin board systems, send text messages and even control remote systems and networks via their radios. Should some catastrophic event ever occur that takes out the internet, Packet Radio technology can still be used to link remote stations and form an ad hoc network — or emergency internet of sorts.’

So there you have it. Mesh is totally real, and totally do-able. The Internet has grown and changed over the years, with a view toward transparency and control. In Mesh, the kids decide find mesh networking to be a powerful weapon against the bad guys. It may be something you can find useful in your day-to-day life!

 

 

References

Mesh: Can This Really Work?

Mesh: Can This Really Work?

When writing a sci-fi book, one of the first questions you may be asked is ‘how real is your book?’ I’m happy to say that not only are the technologies I talk about in Mesh completely plausible, they’re completely real!

Don’t believe me, believe this write-up on the Mesh network of Havana, Cuba. According to Gizmodo, their mesh has been growing and changing since 2001: “Beginning in 2001, a small community of tech-savvy Cubans have been building a sprawling mesh network that stretches across Havana. This crowdsourced connectivity takes advantage of hidden Wi-Fi antennas and broadband cables stretched across rooftops to network over 9,000 com

puters across different neighborhoods in Cuba’s capital. The resultant Snet, or streetnet, enables people to exchange news updates, share files, and even play online games like World of Warcraft.”

Mesh networks make sense in places where Internet use is prohibited, or prohibitive. The technical details of Havana’s mesh are almost adorable, as this article entitled “If it Rains, Ask Grandma to Disconnect the Nano” goes on to prove.

Click Here to Learn More About Mesh Networking
Bottom line is, the Mesh is totally real and ready for you to discover. I hope you enjoy learning and discovering more about this geeky topic.
Click Here to Learn More About Mesh

Mesh – Ready for Launch – New Portal Page

Mesh - Ready for Launch - New Portal PageToday in the ‘big happy news department,’ I’m excited to tell you that Mesh appears to be ready for launch/book agent queries! To help facilitate that process, I’ve created a new portal page for the book to tell newcomers what Mesh is about and help drive it forward to representation.

So if you’re interested in learning more about Mesh – the scifi novel I’ve been working on since 2016 – please visit the new portal page for information about the book, a quick synopsis, and how to get in touch with me. This is another step forward in the journey toward Author Success, and I hope it connects me with the tribe I am looking for.

Visit the Mesh Portal Page

Microfiction – Supervillains and Batman’s Worst Nightmare

Got some nice Mesh feedback yesterday. One of my beta readers came back with some style suggestions but says ‘otherwise, it’s ready for next steps.’ Squee, squee! I’m hanging out over on /r/writingprompts while I wait for more feedback. Here’s a Twofer Tuesday – New microfictions for you, based on the following two premises:

A prosecutor tries to use the “evidence” that Batman left behind to actually convict a criminal.

The Batman always wins, they say. Villains and bad guys beware. The Batman is coming. The Joker, the Riddler, the Penguin, Poison Ivy, Two-Face … trophies hoisted by the law enforcement community to show that a single detective, dedicated and autonomous, can solve more crime than the largest police force in the world.

That’s what they want you to think, anyway.

Continue Reading ‘Batman’s Worst Nightmare’

Next, You never intended to become a supervillain. You REALLY want to stop, but your superhero rival refuses to believe you.

Most people think I’m taller, I’m not sure why. For a guy who is Public Enemy Number One for the Superheroes Union, the first thing most people say is “Wow, I didn’t realize you were so short.”

They call me Mister Mephistopheles. And then they act surprised when I go off.

They don’t get it, just like the supers don’t get it. This is why I decided to talk with one of their people, their therapists. Honestly, how good can someone be if there’s an army of mental health people there to talk them off the ledge every week? I’m a strong person, I said. When I first got the call, I decided to go it alone. Why wouldn’t I be okay? I’m just a regular guy. These powers aren’t supposed to make you crazy.

Continue Reading ‘The Supervillain Summit’