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Friday, December 28, 2012

Introducing the Character Paul1

In book #2, "The Saeshell Book of Time Part 2: The Rebirth of Innocents," the character Paul1 is introduced. Off and on, he becomes a major character in the narrative and is distinguished by being the only Paul that is autistic. He also a brilliant 9 year old though sometimes a bit selfish. He is talented with computers and uses them to explore the world around him. Tonya, the Sophistan computer helps him to mentally experience the world without coming too close to it. However, he becomes the adoptive son of Stefan and through that association is forced into adventures in the real world. He depends on his father and his adopted brother, Paul25, to help interpret and understand events in the real world. Paul25 loves his brother and watches over him and keeps him out of trouble.

Paul25 begs Paul1 to come out and play

In this scene, Paul1 is introduced to us. Early in his life, Paul1 finds that he cannot tolerate the world. So he builds a crystalline Sarcophagus, places himself on total life support, and merges his mind with the computer. He has been that way for 1500 years. Paul25 has a way to communicate with him and is begging him to come out of the Sarcophagus and play with him. 

To read more about the serial, click here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Gifted Renaissance

I'm sure people will be wondering about what a Renaissance scene is doing in a Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror book. Although I wanted to write a story with high tech/advanced science, I didn't want it to be a steely-cold sci-fi adventure or a fantasy having nothing to do with people's real lives. Though the characters in this story live a fantastic life that we can only dream of, I wanted them to remain living, feeling people we could care about. Paul25 is the ultimate feeling character because not only is he a policeman kind of character, but he is also the most humanitarian of the whole lot. He has very deep feelings and deep empathy that gets him in trouble many times. He also has one problem. He spent most of his over 1000 year life on planet earth. He watched brutal human history and if it wasn't bad enough to watch his playmates grow up and die of old age, he had to also  watch a number of his playmates grow up and slaughter each other or be slaughtered by random, unpredictable strangers. And he watched a number of them simply die from the diseases and hazards of Earth, all the while immune from it all. 

 He is a boy from a highly advanced, harmonious culture with powers of mobility and protection that make us turn green with envy. Yet here he is, away from the love of the people of the planet Sophista, pushing through the muck of human history.

Atreyeu teaches Paul25 to paint
 The Renaissance is a very important symbol for humanity, especially in times such as now where people are increasingly valued for their ability to simply be a "work unit". It was a time where people studied other kinds of people, other cultures, and sought understanding. It was a time when humanity learned to create and its ability to create took a huge surge in capability. In the case of Paul25, it is a pivotal moment when suddenly, he is not a slave because of his talents---a slave to people/beings who simply wish to use him because of his talents---but a moment when his own feelings and thoughts were given freedom---given freedom by his newfound talent to create what he truly wants to create, expressing a deep part of himself.

The journey a gifted child takes to gifted adulthood is very analogous to Paul25's journey, deliberately so in fact. Many experience brutalities along the way that stick with them throughout their lives as a nightmare that won't go away. When their talents are discovered, many times those talents are given more importance than their own rights as a human being. Those talents are exploited in a away designed to  prevent their ability to create---to keep them as compliant work units---a specialized tool to be exploited. Yet, in spite of all of this, most manage to keep their empathy and child-like enthusiasm simply because it is an innate part of them. Yet, like Paul25, they suffer greatly as they grow until finally, they find their ability to create, and it sets them free.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Illustration for Chapter 8-1 Book #2

Here is Paul25 and Tova2 in trouble again. Looks like they are dissolving in hyperspace and getting sucked into a tunnel at the same time. That's got to hurt. This lovely illustration is by Matt Curtis. Click on it to enlarge it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Rare Excerpt from Book #4, Chapter 20: The Stroke of Love

I am always reluctant to post excerpts from several books ahead of the current book. But I finally decided to post a little snippet for a couple of reasons. One is that I wanted to let people know that yes, the four books of the serial are already written. I know sometimes when a reader reads the start of series, much less a serial, that they wonder, "If I invest the time to read this first book, will I be left hanging? Can the author actually write the rest?" So I wanted reassure the reader that all four books of the serial have already been written and the manuscripts are final. As the artwork and layout gets completed for each book, it will be published. It's roughly a  six month schedule per book. And although the serial story ends in book 4, the "series" does not. If the books are read, there will be a book 5. Secondly, I wanted to show that the personal drama of the characters does rise as the serial progresses. It's probably been about three decades since someone has attempted a serial story consisting of novel sized installments. People who are reading the first novel don't seem to understand the difference between a serial and a series in that a serial story may reach a climactic ending at the installment end  but the story is far from being wrapped up. Book two will continue where book one left off. The advantage is that book number two has almost no preliminaries and burns up the road from the beginning. Likewise for books three and four

So here is an excerpt from book four, "The Saeshell Book of Time Part 4: The Ceremony of Life."

Anashivalia begins sniffling.

“I suppose that indicates they are married, essentially,” comments McPherson.

A floating cushion appears behind Anashivalia; she collapses onto it and begins weeping.

“I suppose it is difficult for you to see true, devoted love after having led your husband to his death. And then to have your son leave you for another woman’s care—wife, mother, tutor—all wrapped into a tidy package called Tova2.”

Anashivalia weeps loudly.

“It’s good you are getting these disgusting tears out of the way where no one can see. What would the subjects think if they saw such a prideful ruler letting their emotions get the better of them?” He grabs her dripping chin and raises her eyes to his icebox stare. “A good ruler has empathy for their subjects and saves the chill for their enemies. And yet, their heart remains warm. They delegate that chill to people like me so that their empathy remains unsullied by the realities of ruling.” He begins to nod. “Those two will become rulers one day. Their subjects will love them and the love they share will radiate onto and illuminate their subjects. And those few who have hearts of stone and remain cold even in their glow—well, they can look forward to a visit from me.” He drops her chin like a rotting banana peel. “You have one child left—you should make good ‘use’ of her while you can. Or perhaps ‘use’—while I am sure you are comfortable with that word—is an inappropriate word in this case.”

Anashivalia’s crying has softened, though her shoulders are still quietly shaking.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Terrifying Book #2 Chapter #3 Illustration

This is one of the more terrifying scenes in book #2. Tova whose life is ending---her life is a hopeless disaster with only long suffering pain between now and death---suddenly finds a path to a life more wonderful than any human can imagine. All she has to do is die now instead of die later. Most people would naturally chose to die later. So the aliens, her friends, the wondrous people with all the answers, kill her now. Instead of dying slowly from radiation poisoning (so bad, she is bleeding from everywhere), she experiences the horror of her friends killing her. Click on the image to enlarge it.

The Sophistans demolecularize Tova

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Book #2 Chapter #2 Illustration

Here is the first interior illustration that we have finished for The Saeshell Book of Time Part 2: The Rebirth of Innocents. It is an illustration for Chapter 2. As you can tell, book#2 is somewhat more intense. Click on the illustration to see more detail.

Paul17 blasts Luke2 and Luke3 for gross misbehavior

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sample: Book #3 Chapter 19 Excerpt

I was writing an art spec for an illustration in this part of Book #3, The Saeshell Book of Time Part 3: Paradise Lost, and I couldn't resist sharing an excerpt from that part of the book.

Tova2 smiles at Stefan. The train begins to slow.

Mr. Docherty breaks his stare with Jenny. “I believe we are arriving. Be careful, Paul25, wherever you are; there is a bump in the tracks as we approach the station. Don’t let it send you flying into the furniture. Okay everyone, if you will just remain seated, I will go outside and check the station to confirm it’s clear of people we wish to avoid.”

“Why?” asks Tova2. “Are you afraid the military is going to show up?”

“Oh, err, no Tova. The military is quite predictable and easily managed. I am more concerned with the less predictable components of our government—those that operate more discretely. If you will excuse me for a moment, I will verify our security arrangements before you depart the train.” He opens a door to a short hallway, enters, and closes it behind him. The wooden floor, ceiling, and walls of the hall, worn in places from decades of usage, give it the feel of the inside of an old desk drawer. At the end of this short entry hall is a door with a small window beside it, made of thick bullet-proof glass. He peers though it and watches the station empty, then opens the door and proceeds down the steps to the platform.

Another brown-coated man walks up to him and says, “There’s a Snake on the bench against the wall over there.”

Mr. Docherty looks and sees a man sitting quietly, dressed in a black suit with a black overcoat. The man has gray hair and is holding a black walking cane topped with a shiny silver handle embossed with a griffin. “It’s McPherson!” he realizes. “Why would they send an assassin? He’s on home turf, so at least he won’t be carrying any weapons—hopefully.” He walks up to the man and yells, “As I breathe, you certainly are an ugly bloke.”

“Ah Docherty. I see the Prime Minister has let his throne out to take a walk around the block. Come use this fine piece of institutional wood to rest your dead weight, my fine receiver of ministerial feces.”

Mr. Docherty sits down beside him and McPherson’s head rotates like a tank turret bringing the battery of his icy cold stare to bear.

“So why has the Den taken such an interest in the internal affairs of the Prime Minister?” asks Mr. Docherty. “I believe this is out of your jurisdiction.” The internal government nickname for McPherson’s department is the Den of Snakes.

“I believe that escorting aliens, possibly very dangerous aliens, across the country is an activity that requires monitoring, especially if the operation is potentially treasonous.”

“Oh don’t flatter yourself. This endeavor has the full backing of the Prime Minister.”

“I’m sure that somewhere a nice cell with a gold-plated lavatory has already been arranged for him. You’re participating in a dangerous endeavor, my friend.”

Docherty laughs. “How dangerous could it be taking a pair of teenagers to see a university? I’m still waiting for the thunder.”

“I’m sure by now, despite your change of allegiance, you have slithered your way in and retrieved a copy of the threat assessment report by that American, Ed Harris. He says that those kids carry enough energy to reduce Parliament to a pile of rubble. I don’t believe the latest teen energy drinks pack quite that kind of punch. The department thinks that these individuals place our country in great danger.”

Shocked, Mr. Docherty realizes, “They haven’t sent McPherson to monitor the situation—they’ve sent him to put an end to it!” His mind races, searching for a solution. “I mustn’t let him succeed. I’ve only tried it once. It was an accident when I did it. I don’t know why, but I know it will work again.”

McPherson notices Mr. Docherty’s nervousness. He places his hand on Docherty’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, my friend. I know you haven’t the stomach for this sort of thing. I don’t even want you to be there when it happens. You have that wonderful son of yours. Once you run this little errand, take a few days with him. Remind yourself of why England must be protected, even when extraordinary measures are required. The Den will tell the Prime Minister that they have borrowed you for a few days for a special assignment. It might even impress the old bastard—make him respect you even more.

“Well I certainly don’t like this business. Give me a moment to instruct my men so that things go smoothly.” Docherty raises his right arm straight up in the air. He thinks, “Sleep, my friend, for ten hours.”

McPherson collapses and Mr. Docherty catches him. He lays him down carefully on the bench.

One of the brown coats runs over. “What did you do to him?”

“Gave him something to make him sleep,” responds Mr. Docherty.

“Damn useful piece of kit. Can I get one issued to me?”

“Um… not yet, they’re still in testing. This is just a prototype. Looks like it works quite well.”

“What are we going to do with him?” his colleague asks. “He’ll kill them and then he will come for you!”

Mr. Docherty smiles dryly. “I doubt he will even remember our conversation.” Mr. Docherty raises his right arm as if he is stretching, hardly contemplating the inexplicable influence the gesture produces.  His thoughts become a command to McPherson, “You will not remember our conversation.”

Mr. Docherty continues aloud as he lowers his arm, “Once Dr. Kettil looks over our charges, I’m sure the Prime Minister will issue an order giving them diplomatic protection. By the time McPherson wakes up, it will be too late for him to do anything about it. Wait until twenty minutes after we are gone and then call an ambulance. And find out what building they have prepped and blow out its transformer. By the time they get that fixed, it will be far too late.”

“Yes sir. I’ll be glad when the hospital takes him; he is bloody creepy.”

Copyright 2010, 2011, 2012 by Rusty Biesele, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Learning to Make My Book Visible

The whole process of promoting a book is somewhat of an extremely stressful and failure prone experience. I can say failure prone with a smile because that means I am learning. The real problem with learning now-a-days is that no one wants to fail. Failure is looked upon as a personal and definitive statement dooming you for the rest of your life. When you mix that with gifted perfectionism---not wanting to do something unless you are sure you will succeed and be the best at it---well it is just a toxic brew to be sure. 

People are reluctant to try new things. Even worse for a new author publishing for the first time is if some people don't like your writing. It just stabs you in the heart. You don't have that confidence or arrogant swagger of defiance of an experienced author. It's even worse if your first endeavor in the field is a piece of writing so different, so bizarre, that it provokes very strong reactions. You are unprepared for the strong emotions thrown your way. Once when I was ranting over some review, my wife tried to calm me by telling me, "Who cares? It doesn't matter what one person feels. It matters what thousands think."

This brings up an idea which is, I think, very important and missed by some authors starting out---you not going to just sell 50 books or 100 books. You are going to sell thousands. Know it in your heart. Embody it your soul. If you think you are going to sell 50 books, you will do silly things like go door to door in your neighborhood, accost strangers, etc. Those things are not going to sell thousands, even if every person you encounter likes your book and practically glows carrying it around in their arms. Now think about it. Are people 1000 miles away going to care or even know what your community thinks? It's not likely. Think big. What will get your book into the sight of a large number of people?

Okay, now that your mind has absorbed this compost (I have at least), what is the next thing you have to get past? No one cares about your bloody book. You can buy books easier than toilet paper. You are a pain in the ass. You are annoying. Read my lips. Nobody cares about your book! Embrace the apathy. It's like a quote from one of those old Vietnam movies, "I love the smell of burning napalm in the morning." Mix that with the thought of selling your book and let your imagination run wild. 

The antidote allowing you to break through the wall of apathy is like drinking vomit juice for a writer. We all think and hope that our writing is meaningful and valuable. We hope that the years of work are worth it. And you need to think that when you are writing. Otherwise, why would you put yourself through that much trouble? But selling your book requires the napalm mindset. Almost every successful sales person will tell you, "As long as the item is packaged correctly, I can sell total garbage to anyone and make them thank me for selling it to them." Already collecting that vomit juice, aren't you? But thinking like this helps because then you start to think about what it will truly take to reach those people 1000 miles away. And if you have written a very unusual book like I have, then you have to think how you will reach your special set of readers. They are buried so deep in the haystack

This is where I am at. The napalm burns my splatted body off the apathy wall every morning. Today, here I go, tossing the fear of failure to the side and taking the big dive, trying to dive over the wall. There is a national magazine that will reach at least a proxy of those gifted middle school kids who seem to really like my book --- the school librarian --- and reach a number of adults who don't seem to be afraid of reading a relatively hard book --- Kirkus Reviews.  And so my illustrator, Matt Curtis and I put our heads together. This ad is what we came up with for that magazine. To enlarge the ad for viewing, click on it.

Ad Running in the 12/1/12 and 12/15/12 issues of Kirkus Review

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Books Are the New Newspaper

I have to wonder, after experiencing the push to sell books over the last few weeks, if the rise of massive numbers of books nexused with the rise of anti-intellectualism has led to denigrating books to the realm of newspapers of yesteryear. It's much like the paperboy standing on the corners of a city block in the 1950's with the boy having the best headlines and the fastest read winning all the nickels and the boy with the newspaper containing in-depth reporting going home glad that his parents feed him.

I can see that, as I cruise through the top sellers, style and the projection of style really matter. People are generally not looking for books that deviate from certain specific styles. It’s a sort of anti-thought where your mind has formed to a certain pattern and processing endless streams of data in that pattern is like a narcotic. After all, not processing changes in the data stream format is read by the human mind as safety---the established patterns of the mind can process the data from the environment with no chance of a negative outcome. You will get the same result as all the rest of the surviving beings around you and therefore, like the crowd, you will survive. Minor flavor changes in the style give the illusion that you have found the nugget to increased survival, and tickle those neurons put there to detect that, giving a kind of euphoria. I mean, if you really came across something that was difficult to understand, you would have to live with the uncertainty of its outcome---you might have to ask someone for a little help---and heaven help you if you have to ask for help. There doesn’t seem to be much of that nowadays with everyone, including those who profess the style of helping others, having an agenda which has a greater importance than your very life, let alone your mental well being.

It’s the style of the times---the nexus of terrorists hell-bent on destroying people’s dreams and politicians and current business success stories bent on harvesting the dreams of the masses for their own profiteering. And people, defending themselves from their trauma-induced paranoia, are just easy marks.

There is nothing more repugnant to the gifted I think, than the relying on style for judging the value of data. Bring me your mind---your data and your mental model of how things work. Let’s talk about the possibilities, the feasibility, and the correctness of it all. That’s where true pleasure and safety is---the asteroid doesn’t care about your style and neither does starvation and poverty. And so, in the genre of gifted fiction, I am trying to bring new patterns of thought and new condensations of human philosophy---the kind of things I think will bring pleasure to gifted readers.

It is a bit like an alien waving a flag on the street corner filled with screaming paperboys. People avoid the aliens and head for the newspaper of the most comforting style. With all of the noise, it becomes a bit difficult for aliens---especially for those dressed as humans---to communicate. And there are always thoughts about those asteroids, and how hard it would be to organize massive amounts labor to defend against them. It’s good for now, that I can head home to my haven.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Cover for the Book #2

The Saeshell Book of Time: Part 2: The Rebirth of Innocents will be published March 29,2012. Here is the cover for it. Click the book cover to enlarge it.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Why Read The Saeshell Book of Time

Dare to dream of a world where your essence is the start of an adventure—your very core serves those around you and those around you appreciate and love who you truly are. Visualize technology derived from your life itself—technology which forms itself to serve your needs—technology that does not shape your mind but is shaped by it. Add to that a computer which watches over you with parental-like concern and can materialize into existence any form you can visualize. Your imagination is the tour guide of your mind. You are imagining a world seventy-three light years away. You are imagining Sophista. It’s because you are a Child of Sophista.

The Saeshell Book ofTime is indeed a live book. Much of the human mind is a giant pattern matching neural net. When it cannot find a pattern for a new situation it has encountered, it must build a net that matches the pattern of the new data. Frequently, there is not enough data to create the pattern. Rather than freezing like a panicked squirrel, it uses a unique device to prevent this—it uses “imagination” to fabricate data and finish the pattern.

The Saeshell Book ofTime is unique in that it exploits this aspect of the human mind; by refusing to complete a pattern essential to the story it forces the reader to complete it themselves. It is a function the human mind must perform compulsively. Quite simply, the book is alive because it is made from you—made from your own mind. By each reader completing the pattern, each reader creates a unique experience for themselves. What each reader thinks and says about the book is a reflection of who they are. I deliberately implemented this structure in the book to force my target gifted teen audience to argue about the book and what it means or what its philosophical implications are. Every reader comes away with a different concept of the book created by differing mental prejudices they brought with them. 

The biggest piece of technology a gifted teen possesses is their own mind—technology or a tool derived from their life itself. Thinking of it as tool allows much greater control of it—and the story shows situations where the tool becomes unruly. It also shows that these episodes of unruliness are not causes for disaster, but moments of learning and exposé of deeper aspects of the tool that they were unaware of.

One of the mischievous pranks I played in the book was to obscure what was science fiction and science fact. Many times, what appears to be science fiction is actually science fact. A good fantasy keeps you guessing so that you are forced to imagine the whole serial as reality. In that vein, Tova is the actual composition of a number of real people. I remember while writing her characterization coming across a story of a high school person in Silicon Valley where I live, who discovered that their father was suffering from a genetic disease. She was able to get her father’s genome sequenced and using an Excel spreadsheet, and after six months, locate the defective genetic sequence. She, along with other researchers, was able to write a paper describing the mechanism of a disease previously not understood.  There are a number of Tovas in the world. My hope in writing the fictionalized characters of the serial is to provide a metaphor with which gifted teens can take comfort and feel acceptance.

The school in the book is based on the slight extension of an existing Silicon Valley school, the advanced mathematics program used in the book a small extension of symbolic manipulation programs currently used in mathematics, the basis for the advanced life form’s mind based on an extension of a paper from Cambridge Neuroscience… There are many people today, hidden from the public eye, with breathtaking talents. Like the Children of Sophista, they feel that they would not be well received by the public.

In some sense, I hope that not only will gifted teens take comfort in the book but that everyone will stretch their imaginations as to what is possible and realize, in an approximate, metaphoric way, the passions and thoughts that drive the gifted among us. And whether or not you sympathize with the metaphoric connection the book has to giftedness, I hope you enjoy this multi-volume saga for its unique perspective it brings with the merging of science fiction and fantasy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Journey of a Writer of Gifted Fiction, aka, Me

This is the day every MG/YA author yearns for---the day they see their book in the hands of a kid and being read. It makes those three long years of writing, revising, writing, revising ad nauseum worthwhile. This book made quite a journey reaching this Rainard Gifted School girl's hands.

When I started out writing, I had no idea what giftedness was. I know it may be hard to believe, but I had never even heard of it. None of the private schools my daughter went through had gifted programs per se though the last school she attended, Harker,  had a number of genius level kids. I used to read her sixth grade books in first and second grade. She would patiently listen to my jumbled dyslexic reading. I always discounted the reading level on the books because they were probably geared toward public school reading levels and I never learned much in public school anyway. It was like a chore I was required to do. I was more anxious to be let out of school jail and get home to my experiments and my long term project of reading technical books 50 times trying to understand the sentences in them.

You always hear about writers realizing they liked writing in elementary school but it didn't occur to me. I always identified English as the pain subject since no matter what I wrote, I was going to lose a grade letter or two on handwriting. Plus when you read 17 pages an hour, reading assignments are a source of pain.

The private middle school I went to turned a page. I got put in something called advanced track which was basically a 1 year acceleration in math and whole lot higher expectations. School was a bit scary for the first time (because of academics, early elementary was plenty scary due to verbal/physical assault). English became interesting because of what the class read (my reading speed was up to 20-25 pages an hour). But my grammar assured me an always scary time and a disappointing grade. Two things happened that turned the tide slightly. Sentence diagramming. Painful to learn but I got pretty good at it eventually. My grammar improved some because I could picture the sentence diagram in my head. Along with this, a second thing happened. The teacher started scribbling off to the side on the report card notes like B's and C's on grammar but A's consistently on literature. Oh, as a side note, the sentence diagramming oriented my brain to understand computer languages, which sent me down the path to my initial professional career (compiler engineer, i.e., the guy who writes the program to read programming language code that people write and translate it into machine code). Speaking of technical stuff, I started acing science so English became kind of a secondary thing, so secondary that I was startled when some of my writing was put in the school magazine. I figured they needed some filler material though a few kids mumbled that what I wrote was a bit weird (note to kids wanting to impress their English teachers, the weirder you write, the better they will like it). 

My first year in high school I tried honors English. It was a pretty interesting class and we read some stuff that was worth the agony. I liked the Robert Louis Stevenson stuff but especially the Poe unit. I swam in the Poe pond extensively. Of course, I was really feeling the pain on grammar (every extra comma lost you a half a letter grade). So I let that teen anger/anxiety out in a piece I wrote for class. I wanted to write something so utterly dark that it would take the teacher's breath away. It was a kind of "revenge" for the grammar torture. I wanted to take the teacher somewhere she had never been before. I did. She 911'd the counselor. Later, the counselor and I had a good laugh about what I had done to the teacher and she typed up my writing for publication. Uh, well, meanwhile while I was distracted, the teacher was busy publishing my writing the old fashioned way---reading it to all the class sections. Permanent embarrassment ensued. My teacher spent a whole week angry about my rejection letter. It would have been easier if it had been a form letter but they wrote her a letter and told her what I had written was too dark to appear in the nationwide high school literature publication she submitted it too. I am afraid class with her was not pleasant for anyone that week. 

I didn't stay in the English honors track, just the science and math one. I was seduced by what you could take if you weren't in English honors track, which was film, radio broadcasting, and science fiction literature. It was fun writing fake radio news reports and the film script which I got to shoot. Science fiction class, though, was really interesting---honors English would not have let me read the classics of sci fi. 

When I went to college I chose the degree plan with the minimum amount of reading and English. It was an engineering/physics degree and I learned what misery was. Not knowing about giftedness, I certainly didn't know about what is embarrassingly mumbled about in the gifted community: "The Wall". I hit the wall. Gushing flames everywhere. I learned some colorful language from some highly trained professors, who couldn't understand why I could bomb the easy problems and ace the hard problems (how many different ways can you say lazy scum-bag---I found out). They couldn't know about Visual-Spatial learners (I sure didn't) and besides, college is really not about education, but exploitation. 

I did have to take one semester of freshman English---the writing semester. That requirement was in there so that the unwashed engineers could coherently communicate. I can't remember for sure how many people were in there, may 30 or 40. It annoyed the teacher that I was a senior in her freshman class and I annoyed her further whispering to adjacent students the real rules of school instead of the buffaloing bull she was telling them. So the first paper gets returned. But this is not your normal return of papers in a college classroom. The teacher, with stack of papers in hand, walks straight toward me through the rows of desks. Alert, alert, public humiliation shield deployed, stoic senior face deployed, battle stations.... 

She plops the paper down on my desk and looks at me. The paper had a B+ on it. Well at least I didn't flunk. Here comes the speech about being a senior and I should have done better---I can feel it coming. She inhales a huge breath of air, getting ready to deliver a Shakespearean oration: "Mr. Biesele, do you want to explain to me why you took my class pass-fail? (Error lights are erupting on me) You made the second highest grade in the class. And you took my class pass-fail? Why?" (Well B+ being the second highest grade in the class might be a good reason but I didn't say that). I mostly mumbled incoherently. What I couldn't tell her was that my undergraduate grades were tenuous at best and that I couldn't take the chance that marking some stupid grammar mistake on my part would prevent me from graduating. Still, it did plant a small bug in my mind about writing. My undergraduate career was somewhat "colorful"---due to bureaucratic delays, sometimes my honor's list notice and probation notice would arrive on the same day. Eventually I was rescued into computer science by a math genius heading it up. I left for industry with a masters in hand.

One of the interesting notions I came to know as I worked in industry was the design paper. This is different from a spec where some brief technical stuff is scrawled onto a piece of paper. With the design paper, you read up on advanced technology which people might have a little bit of trouble understanding (or sometimes create some) and then you write a paper explaining the technology and how this wonderful technology if implemented will propel the company to the stars (actually more like save them money and/or aggravation). Something began to happen that I didn't realize: I was virtually writing a rather dry science fiction novel, and then implementing it in real life. In my last corporate job at the top technical rung of Apple, I finished my corporate life by writing a paper on some new thing (down in the bowels of the programming tools, not a snazzy product) that should be implemented. That paper went places. Some pretty powerful programmers came and began working on the project. I felt totally inferior. What would take me a week would take them a couple of days to do. Those people are revered in Apple so it didn't help my ego at all. Still, another bug was planted: the power of the pen. That 6 pages of writing had reoriented a number of people's work. Still, after some personal tragedy and then this---I felt this wasn't the way to make a difference in the world. I quit.

I went out on my own and tried inventing a new kind of robotics language and a robotics platform as a science toy for kids. I wanted to expose kids to something very different to take away the rote boredom much of science education has. I took advantage of the sci-fi writing skill a bit. I was trying to visualize what a control system for an alien robot would look like. My aliens would have three fingers and their math would be based on base 3 instead of base 10. I tried to imagine a way of thinking so different that a kid trying to learn the robot would have to learn that different way of thinking in order to be able to operate it. The thinking was based on layers of thought: an instinctual layer, an abstraction layer, and an autonomic layer. The layers would communicate. The whole project was pretty interesting and I got as far as the initial paper, choosing the unusual materials (I think thick, solid neoprene), and I got a hardware simulator and did some simple projects. Then I quit---I figured someone would probably beat me to the market with something better anyway.

I figured it would take me 5 or 6 years to finish and productize and I would be living under an underpass by then. What I really needed to have done was to finish my paper, get someone to give me money, and go shopping for people so it wouldn't take a decade. But US culture teaches of heroes not teams so I didn't think that way.

I had been trading stocks and other securities a bit since quitting the corporate world. I needed money. I could try trading as a job. I was a financial news junky. I read people's papers. I started to try to separate the lie from the truth. In the financial industry, I would say about 60% tell lies or lies of omission. I started writing up my analysis---who was lying, why people were lying, how the world economy had to work. My relatives started telling me, gee, you should be a financial writer. To make a long story short, the 2008 crash took me out and the stress was so horrific that I began to think anything was better than trading. (Ironically I taught one of my relatives to trade and they did pretty well.)

I was trashed. I spent a spring and a summer drifting mostly aimlessly. I had tried to change the world for the better and failed. One thing I realized from the stock trading is that when I focus on trying to explicitly make money, I do terrible. I was not built for that kind of stress. I realized that I was meant to be more of a pure researcher. One of my few positive mentoring college professors suggested that to me when I was young.  My wife whispered, "Go get your teaching certificate. You would be a good teacher." I had taught at the freshman college level. I thought, hmm, me, the perpetual kid, teaching? The kids would have me for lunch. Plus they would probably end up having to teach me to be organized.

It's at times like this that you really search through the memories of your life (I have a freakish memory for long term things). I remembered for some reason the writing I did in middle school and  the things I had read. Hmm. I decided to play some music from that era. The memories got a lot stronger. I began to realize that I was interested in stories in that I was continually taking  apart the plots of old scifi shows and movies. It was an unconscious hobby---I just do it. Then I watched a series, The Tomorrow People, 1970's version. Although it was very popular during its time with kids, people who watched it with me thought it was awful. It was like they were watching a different TV program. Actually they were. I hadn't realized it, but I had taken the series apart, and rewritten it in my mind. Kids jaunting---yes. Vulnerable kid---yes. Super kids in training---yes. Expert older kid---yes. Motherly teen girl---yes. Rigid scifi---too narrow. Add fantasy. Base in a deserted subway station---you've got to be joking. Father of the expert is a police officer---social drivel. Humans arising in space and coming back to teach earthlings, impossible. So make it possible. Add aliens to the mix. Aliens can manipulate, create humans--yes. All advanced kids arising with the same talents---not likely. Add talents and diversify them among characters. What are the social ramifications of telepathy. Consult Babylon5. Machines that can see people remotely, stealthily---consult The Outer Limits, "Obit" episode. Kids learning under duress with advanced talents, read "Ender's Game." Implications of "high moral aliens" visiting Earth---consult the movie, "The Day the Earth Stood Still". A clash of an advanced culture with primitive Earth culture: Ray Bradbury's "The Martian Chronicles". Stir. I'm sure Star Trek floats to the surface somewhere in there. Probably some others I am not consciously aware of. Fine. I'll never be able to write something like that. I'll run out of gas before I get to the good part that I like. More drifting.

I happened to tune into an interview with JK Rowling. She was discussing her writing process. At first it was discouraging. She is organized! She wrote so many books about the Harry Potter book before she wrote the book. Overwhelming. But as I listened, the wheels started to turn. Then it hit me. You don't have to write the book in order. You don't have to write the part in the book that builds the world. I pulled out my favorite program, OneNote. It allows you to build a multidimensional notebook. I used 2 dimensions. My top tabs were Characterization, Story, Timeline. Under "Timeline" I put side tabs or an infinite length page for each character and creature. On these pages, I listed the significant events in the creatures'/characters' lives as I knew them. Under "Characterization" I put a tab for each character and described their personality and look.  Under "Story" I made tabs for chapters. I wrote a skeleton first chapter so I could describe the world and write down any clever phrases and paragraphs I thought would be good in the introduction. It was kind of interesting because I wasn't trudging through a bunch of writing I didn't want to do. It was like I was designing a program or a device. I was filling in the precise necessary detail. Then I skipped ahead to the chapter I really liked and thought I would never get to. I started writing essentially in the middle of the book. I just wrote what I liked. I could skip ahead to tabs that I thought would have interesting stuff. Suddenly, the simulation snapped on in my head. It was the same faculty I use to simulate very complicated programs with multiple simultaneous execution threads. Except that the threads were parallel plot lines. I could hardly talk for a week. The story was flying along so fast that I couldn't get it down. I finally found that a pen, even with my unreadable chicken scratch was the only thing that could keep up. I eventually learned to throttle it back to where I could function. I wrote the four books together as one book, about 850 pages in roughly 7 months. The last thing I wrote was the start of the book. You can really play some evil tricks on the reader in the beginning if the entire rest of the book is written/known to you.

My oldest sister started editing the chapters early on. I sent her the summary text describing the world and she was able to follow my middle of the book chapter. My writing was horrible, to put it mildly. So much of the dyslexia showing. Reversed phrases, bizarre grammar. For things that cropped up repeatedly my sister sent me articles on the grammar construct I was deficient in from the Purdue Online Writing Laboratory (the OWL). I began to learn, when I want to write "this", write "that" instead because "that" is what people in the world understand. My head thinks in "this" order and structure. So eventually, I built maps in my head---like translating the language I speak to a foreign language. After 3 or 4 passes on the book, it was done. I let a few kids read it. They couldn't except for one. He was a 6th grader called a "gifted" kid. He liked it. Eventually he got exhausted and couldn't finish it. 858 pages is way too long. I split it into four parts and found that because I was worried about it being too long, it wasn't long enough. I had hurried some scenes and some descriptions were not complete or were omitted. So as I added the start and end to each of the four books, I also fleshed them out some more.

Next a small publisher read it. She showed me how it needed to be more experiential. So another rewrite and several more editing passes. I tried some kids. Some kids were mystified. They really couldn't read it. But one could and liked it. He was a gifted kid. There is that word again. Here is a school that is for the "gifted". Let's try that one. The kids really liked it. But they wanted to know more about what was going on in the heads of the characters. They really wanted to know, like it was an obsession. At the same time, I received back a response from a three versions ago submission to Arthur A Levine. They wanted stronger characterization---a lot stronger. 

While this was going on, I began to investigate what in the world "giftedness" was. I monitored some discussions. Papers were forwarded to me. Then a couple things happened. Some people started telling me "you know there is a reason you think like you do..". Let's just say I went down a very painful path. Some kind soul helped me part of the way. I eventually found a piece of the middle school writing and the last memory block fell...I remember...I remember advanced track and the intense pain I felt when there was no more advanced track available. If I wanted to continue, I would have had to put 300 miles between me and my parents --- not happening. 

So when I went to rewrite the four books a fourth time, I had some ammo. Part of characterization I learned was including the character's flaws---their quirks. Well, my crash course in giftedness had given me a few quirks and flaws to use. These new character traits went in rather easily because my normal characters were my kind of normal. Which is another reason only gifted kids liked the book.

Finally, it seemed like I was done. I started submitting each of the four books to be edited by a professional editor. The first professional editing pass of book #1 showed how, with a little insertion of some new writing, I could dramatically raise the intensity of the book and increase the believability of the plot line. Good stuff. 

With Book #2, the editor was further encouraging me to turn on the juice, add conflict, people's reactions to other people's quirks, etc. The book began to get a little dark. By the time the professional editing started on book #3, the memory block was totally gone and the editor was pushing me, so book #3 is quite dramatic and dark. Book #4 is very intense. All of the intellectual and dark restraining bolts came flying off. Book #4 was difficult for the editor to edit---not because of the darkness but because of the complexity. It was hard for me---I can only imagine how hard it was for the editor. After the first professional edit, I took book #4 totally apart and moved the scenes around. I added narration. This was to address the editor's concerns and confusion. Finally, after 6 rewrites of each book, the books were done. At least almost. And 3 more years of my life was gone because this was a full time job.

So the young person you see in the picture at the top of the article was part of a team of four students who read and commented on the final book#1. Some found mistakes that the editor missed which I was very glad to correct. But more than anything, their comments gave me the confidence to put the book out into the world---that the book was now really finished.

My middle school writing had come full circle decades later and landed into the hands of gifted middle school kids.