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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.