Mesh Update #8 – Inspirational Schools

Ran across this story about the Midland School in California, and fell in love. For over a thousand years, education has been the root of every civilization. But how do you teach young people to be good people? How do you teach them the skills necessary to be successful beyond business, in life itself?

Midlands seems to have found the answer. What makes a school like this stand out is the level of life skills they’re giving to each student. “The students more or less run Midland, which has no janitorial or maintenance staff. They plant and pick about half of the food they eat on a 10-acre farm. They clean the windows, maintain the landscape, and sweep the old chapel.’

“‘We know we’re different and we know we’re a little crazy,’ said Christopher Barnes, the head of school. ‘The question for each student and for each family is if we’re your kind of crazy.'”

How does this tie back to Mesh? Our protags, Roman and Zeke, are going to visit a school like Midland when the Mesh is discovered. A school full of tough nerdy kids, ready to do battle against the bad guys? I can see them having a lot of fun. My hope is that you will, too.

 

Grind It Out – Keep Going No Matter What

I’m in that low period of creation. Everything seems wrong. Nothing seems right. Every instinct I have about writing, storytelling is being put to the test as I edit Mesh.

Googling for inspiration, I ran across this quote by Guy Kawasaki. He was the original marketer for Mac back in the eighties and he’s been behind several monolithic Silicon Valley inspirations since then.

I respect his story because like him, my journey is a series of efforts in pursuit of a larger goal. Will Mesh be the book I want it to be? Will it find the readers I want it to find? I have no idea. I do know that I have to try and so until my destiny arrives, I have to keep grinding.

I hope you have found something worth grinding out, too.

“What’s Your Novel About?” – Intro to Mesh

Churning away on edits, I want to take this opportunity to talk about what my scifi novel ‘Mesh’ is all about.

So far I’ve only published short stories, but I want to do more. It’s great to pull off a 6-12K word tale, but what about an epic novel? Can I do it? Will people enjoy it? Writing a full-length novel has been on my bucket list since I was 12. Now, several decades later, I want to give it a shot. Here’s what Mesh is about and I hope it’s something you’ll enjoy:

“My name is Roman Diaz. One day I was a nerdy kid. The next day I’m on the run. Everyone thinks I’m a terrorist. I just wanted an ‘A’ on my science project.”

Fourteen-year-old Roman only wants two things out of life: out of this wheelchair and away from his dead-end school. A prestigious technical high school is offering a chance at both. How can Roman and his geeky best-friend Zeke say no?

Miramar High isn’t just a magnet school: it’s an incubator for the next Elon Musk and Albert Einstein. They give Roman cybernetic links and an exo-skeleton to get out of his wheelchair. Now Roman’s new mentor gives them a new project: The Mesh. Can kids create a new form of communication to save the world? That’s the challenge, and along with the Snow Foxes, Roman and Zeke are making it happen.

Suddenly, secrets get revealed. All is not as it seems. Friends become enemies. Truths become lies. Rockstar students are now criminals. With no other choice, Roman uses his robotic legs to start running. He must destroy the Mesh, before it destroys him.

Currently editing and improving with Beta readers, MESH is the first novel a science fiction YA series that will appeal to readers of Ernie Cline’s READY PLAYER ONE and binge-watchers of STRANGER THINGS.

Mesh is a celebration of many different stories, people and ideas that I’ve collected over the years. Parsing ideas down into a readable story is an interesting challenge, and I’m finding it to be personally rewarding.

I’m still in search of an agent – I want to publish Mesh through the traditional market, as opposed to self-publishing. I can always use more feedback from sci-fi readers on the material, and from writing professionals on how to get published. Please contact me via Reddit if you’d like to be a part of my team.

You can read more about Mesh’s journey in these blog posts

I Won’t Be Self-Publishing ‘Mesh’

Open up Twitter to get some more bad news for self-publishing authors. According to this article, Amazon no longer allows you to review books unless you can prove you’ve purchased them through Amazon:

To write a Customer Review, you must have used your account to purchase any item or service on Amazon (free digital content doesn’t qualify toward this requirement.)

Something tells me that this rule isn’t necessarily hard-and-fast. I doubt all the reviews for ‘Star Wars’ came *after* the users bought them on Amazon. Ditto for ‘Moby Dick,’ ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ or ‘The Fault in Our Stars.’ Continue reading

Mesh: Relax, It’s Only a Story

As I’m editing and re-writing Mesh, I’m also watching the news. Why? Pretty simple – I’m curious to see if the future I’m imagining has any chance of actually happening.

It occurs to me, also, that readers of Mesh may begin drawing unfair conclusions about my personal views after reading it. Do I advocate for an authoritarian society by writing about one? Do I advocate for anarchy by talking about what happens if it does? How do I really feel? I think I need to post a quick word at the start of the book about this. Here’s a quick draft – see what you think: Continue reading

Mesh Update #6 – Hack Inspirations

I love it when a random piece of information on the Internet gets your juices flowing, don’t you? One of the inspirations for Mesh is the time-honored practice of ‘hacks’ at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

First things first: a hack isn’t what you think it is. In fact, a hack has nothing to do with breaking into computer systems. Rather, they are creative pranks done by students. Hacks can be deviously clever, or ridiculously simple. Their worth is judged on a hack-by-hack basis.

Curious about hacks? Say no more. Wired has a great write-up of hacks that have taken place over the past sixy years, and MIT has their own archive of hacks both past and present. I’ve been a fan of these hacks for years for a very simple reason – they’re fun, they’re interesting, and they showcase an undersung aspect of geek culture.

What do I mean? Simple. Our social media-driven world is obsessed with attention. It’s not enough to do something interesting, you must also get as many likes / upvotes / retweets as possible. Hacks, by definition, are uncredited. You usually never know how the hack artists are. Their ingenuity is only matched by their anonymity. Hackers, in this context, are proud to give back to the culture that gave them so much. It’s fun, it’s geeky, and it’s admirable.

Mesh is going to celebrate hacks.

Mesh Update #5 – Get It Out of Your Head

As I’m building Mesh, I remembered that I promised to use the ‘Pixar Rules of Storytelling.‘ I went back and started filling these out as though I was doing an essay exam and the results have been surprising. I’ll post exercises from time to time to help you understand where I’m coming from as the novel finds its home in the publishing industry. Here’s the next one:

Rule 11: Get it out of your head and onto the paper.

Any project I work on has to be complete before I can see the parts that can be better. A cake isn’t a cake until you’ve mixed the ingredients and put them into a hot oven.

By the same token, all these little elements of a story sound cool in theory, but will they work in the book? There’s no way to tell, until you write it down. Keep writing, keep creating. Stand over that muse and shake the art out of her.

 

Write on!

 

Mesh Update #4 – Once Upon a Time

As I’m building Mesh, I remembered that I promised to use the ‘Pixar Rules of Storytelling.‘ I went back and started filling these out as though I was doing an essay exam and the results have been surprising. Let me share with you the results of that exercise. I’ll post these from time to time to help you understand where I’m coming from as this novel comes together.

I answered #14 here and now it’s time to answer question #4. For me and for Roman and for Mesh, it goes like this:

Once upon a time there was a geeky kid named Roman who was disabled. Every day, he dreamed of getting out of his wheelchair. One day, a famous school offered him a spot in their Advanced Projects program. They even gave him an experimental exoskeleton, helping him achieve his dream of being a normal kid again. Because of that, Roman worked very hard on a secret project that was supposed to save the world. Then one day, he discovered that the secret project had a dark side. He tried to make things better, but they only got worse, until finally he had to make a choice that would change his life forever.

Doing these Pixar storytelling exercises has been valuable for Mesh. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, I want to these updates to be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest. Now it’s time to get back to work.

Mesh Update #3 – Why Must I Tell the Mesh Story?

As I’m building Mesh, I remembered that I promised to use the ‘Pixar Rules of Storytelling.‘ I went back and started filling these out as though I was doing an essay exam and the results have been surprising. Let me share with you the results of that exercise. I’ll post these from time to time to help you understand where I’m coming from as this novel comes together.

So what’s the answer to this question? For me, it goes like this:

I started writing this story because I wanted to prove I could write new science fiction that would appeal to other people. I also wanted to tell a story like the ones that had given me so much joy when I was younger. I wanted to explore ideas like being brave, discovering your own power, reconnecting with your parents and banding together to change the world. I also want to tell a story where kids can feel special.

So as I said before:

  • People matter.
  • Stories matter.
  • Storytellers must hone their craft if they want to matter.

I’m not saying I’m the best storyteller in the world, I’m just saying that this is the process I’m following to be the best storyteller I can be. Perhaps this will help inform you in something you’re working on, or you may have a suggestion that’s helpful for me. Thanks in advance for being awesome.