Mick is a constant source of energy and innovation.
He is co-author of Startup Focus which sold 5,000 copies; https://www.amazon.com/Startup...
He is an Australian living in Silicon Valley, USA. He's a lifetime geek who teaches women, students and companies around the world to be innovative and entrepreneurial.
He is wonderfully happily married with 2 daughters and a son. To keep up his vigour, Mick surfs, plays soccer in real life and paintball via virtual reality, does yoga, meditates and coaches his daughter's soccer team.
He is a high profile speaker, with a business book that sold 5,000 copies. He is well known for quickly kickstarting new projects, products and companies with his infectious enthusiasm.
In high school, Mick won an award for a short story he wrote under exam conditions. Since then, writing has always been a part of his work, blogging since 2003.
Here is a quick background into why Mick wrote this book:
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A Novel To Inspire 1million Young Women Into Technology
Let's get more women into technology. This fiction novel is about AZ, a positive role-model for teenage girls, who enters a robot building competition at school.Share Tweet LinkedIn Embed pszr.co/eCXnv 11643 views
|YA Fiction Technology|
|19 publishers interested|
Wow. 500 pre-orders in the two weeks. Amazing. Thank you so much for your support. I'm blown away - thank you all so, so much!
She's Building A Robot is a 43,000-word middle grade novel aimed at girls and focused on technology.
AZ, the protagonist, is smart but has hidden her talents. She is pressured to enter a school robot building competition against the school’s rich boy. Her first robot goes wild leading her to a wonderful female mentor. She convinces a techy-girl and a quirky non-gender student to join her team. By working hard, solving puzzles and dealing with disasters like being hacked and a robot crash, they bring Ada the robot to life.
Here is an illustration of Ada:
The big finale is the three day robot competition which includes rapping, solving riddles and a dangerous obstacle course. AZ is initially not confident leading or taking action but becomes tough and decisive in the end. Along the way, she builds friendships, character and skills for technology and leadership.
The aim of this book is to inspire one million young women into the world of computers and robotics. There are very strong female characters including the protagonist, a teammate, a teacher and a mentor. In order to be relatable to any girl, the characters are not described physically or culturally and the location is never mentioned.
The book is written mostly in first person from AZ's perspective, but also includes chapters from her teammates, 10 and Li, and sections from Ada's perspective.
The book is set in present day, though the robotics in the book is far more advanced and well beyond what is available, let alone what a group of teenagers can do. The goal here is to keep it relevant for the next 10 years.
Who would like this book;
The book was given a full editorial review by Mary Kole, the author of a book that I learned so much from called Writing Irresistible Kid Lit. Mary was super brutal (as I wanted her to be) but was also positive. She encouraged me to rewrite the whole thing in first person.
The book was proof read by my good friends Caty Germon, Kathey Carreiro and Pippa Gawley.
This book is aimed at girls aged 10-14 who are curious about or already love technology.
An ambition of this book is to appeal to any girl in that age bracket in the world. The location is never specified and the lead characters are not described physically. So far, the girls who have read this have all described AZ as looking like they do.
This book is a fun, easy read, it's not a text book on how to build a robot. There is plenty of puzzles, riddles and extra ideas to explore if they want to.
The book has elements of personal growth, action and humor. The pace is fairly quick, but works hard to try and show the hard work of building technology.
As an old(ish) white guy, I wanted to make sure I include lots of good stories from women in tech, so I started this blog;
It includes great interviews from role-models like Emma;
My access to distribution:
A big thanks to the many young girls who've read the book and gave me feedback (and inspiration).
A bigger thanks to my wife Karen for her support, encouragement and feedback. Also to my two daughters for the inspiration and my son for being one of the first to read it twice.
Important Note: Timing For Your Book
The book has been written but it hasn't been published yet. So you won't get the book straight away. Here is what might happen.
We all really want this book to be picked up by a publisher that believes in the mission and can help us maximise it's impact. If this happens, the book will go through a full review and editing process. This will take a month or two. When that is done, the digital version may be available and we will send this around to everyone. The physical copy could take 5-12 months to come out depending on how we approach it.
2. Self Published
If the book is not picked up (insert tears) then I'll be self publishing. This means you'll get the digital copy super fast (1-2 weeks) and the physical copy pretty fast (1-2 months).
Any questions, please contact me.
Many of these lean towards boys, are comics, or are complete fantasy. Our book is trying to bridge these gaps with strong female protagonists, prose and more realistic fiction.
Wordfire Press (Due out later in 2019)
Now Kurzweil has created a novel and an unforgettable character-Danielle-to help convey some of his most important ideas. Danielle: Chronicles of a Superheroine, tells the story of a precocious young girl who uses her intelligence and accelerating technology to solve humanity's grandest challenges. Now if only we can find more courageous visionaries like Danielle.
Filled with beautiful full-color illustrations, a groundbreaking compendium honoring the amazing true stories of fifty inspirational women who helped fuel some of the greatest achievements in space exploration from the nineteenth century to today—including Hidden Figure’s Mary Jackson and Katherine Johnson as well as former NASA Chief Astronaut Peggy Whitson, the record-holding American biochemistry researcher who has spent the most cumulative time in space.
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Wall-E meets Hatchet in this New York Times bestselling illustrated middle grade novel from Caldecott Honor winner Peter Brown. Can a robot survive in the wilderness?https://www.amazon.com/Wild-Ro...
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In this highly-illustrated series from James Patterson, an extraordinary robot signs up for an ordinary fifth grade class . . . and elementary school will never be the same! It was never easy for Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez to fit in, so he's dreading the day when his genius mom insists he bring her newest invention to school: a walking, talking robot he calls E-for "Error".
Jimmy Patterson Publishing, 2018
What Harry Potter did for magic, Max Einstein does for kids' imaginations! #1 bestselling author James Patterson has written the first and only children's adventure novel officially approved by the Albert Einstein Archives.
Publisher Random House
A lightning strike gave her a super power...but even a super genius can't solve the problem of middle school. This smart and funny novel is perfect for fans of The Fourteenth Goldfish, Rain Reign, and Counting by Sevens. https://www.amazon.com/Miscalc...
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Aurora Metro Books/ Supernova Books
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Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.
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If the name sounds familiar, it's because it's a variation of the name of the publishing company used in the television series Castle. For those unfamiliar with the premise, the show featured a mystery writer who follows a police detective for research and winds up writing an entire series of books based on the cases they work on together. Having become friends during the run of the series, the imprint's founders (both authors themselves), thought they'd pay homage to the show and brought Black Pawn Press to life.
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A novel by Mick Liubinskas
(Note that the chapters in the book count backwards to zero. This is to build the tension as you get closer and closer to the end. Let me know if this works.)
The news spread through the school almost instantly.
“Good luck with the robot AZ,” said a guy I’d never met before about five minutes after I left the principal's office.
“Um, ok, thanks,” I replied.
“You’re gonna need it,” he laughed with his friends as they walked by.
What have I done?
When I got home, my mother greeted me with a hug and a soldering iron.
Definition: Solder - a low-melting alloy, especially one based on lead and tin or (for higher temperatures) on brass or silver, used for joining less fusible metals. Often used in electronics.
“I’m so excited. This competition is a great idea. I’ve set up the workbench in the garage and sent you some links for reading,” mum said. Then she kissed my head, picked up her phone and wooshed away, tapping away ferociously.
I was born into a world of technology with my mum working for a robotics company. Like most kids my age, I had done some computer programming, building hardware and robotic principles at school. But actually making my own fully functioning robot was going to need much more than that.
Mrs D’Silva was a great help and she spent a lot of time with me. She gave me next-level courses in programming, hardware and robotics. I did online tutorials and tried to read all the books.
With Mrs D’Silva’s guidance, I started with an off-the-shelf robot that I would customise. It would be basic but it’d be easier.
The robot I’d picked was the YuTu 900. It had:
- 3 ball wheels for motion - top speed of 15km per hour
- A light blue bumper bar for collision management (which wouldn’t be a problem for a simple test)
- 9 sensors for guidance, collision detection and facial recognition
- A optional voice recognition module:
- Basic speech - 5,000 words
- Basic following instructions of where to go - the voice recognition would add to this, so I would fingers crossed, be able to tell it what to do.
I picked up the soldering iron and got to work.
Four weeks later I realised how wrong I was. Today I was in my garage adding voice recognition, hoping at least this would let me talk to this walking computer. I held the soldering iron with grim determination.
“Yowee! This is going to be harder than I thought,” I said to the mess of electronics in front of me.
I paused, sighed and looked at the soldering iron, wondering how I ended up here.
It was my idea. I’m here because of me. I got myself into this and I need to get through this. This is harder than I thought and maybe I won’t win but quitting now would be way worse.
“Yowee!” I yelped, as the soldering iron touched my wrist, snapping me back to my “robot”.
An hour later, the voice recognition components - a speaker, microphone and additional processing chip - were in place and the robot lay on my work table. I imagined I was Frankenstein about to bring my monster to life.
“Mwuu haaa haaaa haaaa,” I said to the roof, quickly stopping and peering around to make sure no one had heard me. “Well, no putting it off any longer.”
I needed a safe place with a flat surface to try it out. Minimal embarrassment and minimal danger. I chose the carpark of the local nightclub. It was a Wednesday afternoon and it would be empty and its four walls should contain my first experiment.
I placed it down in the very middle of the rough asphalt carpark. There was a small driveway back to the main road, a dumpster and about 500 disgusting cigarette butts. A few windows overlooked the scene, but no one was watching. Eyeing the dumpster I seriously thought about picking up this clunky chunk of rubbish, throwing it in the bin, and just quitting.
“Of course you’d quit. It was just too hard for you, wasn’t it, AZ?” I imagined Dalk saying in front of the whole school while patting my hair like someone comforting a sick puppy. I knew this was probably a bit overdramatic, even for my imagination, but I wouldn’t put it past him. “Well, what is the worst thing that can happen?”
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
I switched YuTu on and stood back. For a second, nothing happened. Then the little machine lit up, started whirring and shimmied.
“It’s aliiiiive,” I really have to stop doing that.
“Command not recognised,” came YuTu’s reply in an androgynous voice.
I raised my eyebrows and lowered myself to its height. “Hello.”
“Hello,” YuTu replied.
“How are you?”
“I am ready,”
I thought this was a bit odd and not really what a person would say, but maybe that was a good thing. I’d thought it unlikely that anything would happen at all, so I hadn’t really thought of what to do from here. “Move forward,” I suggested.
The little robot made a low zzz, zzz, zzz sound and starting coming forward and kept going.
“Stop, stop, stop,” I said and the robot jerked to a stop. “Move forward one meter.”
YuTu moved forward and then stopped.
Yutu started spinning. And spinning. And kept right on spinning.
“Stop, stop, stop,” I said, realising a robot was going to take everything quite literally. I looked around the carpark, trying to think of more tests.
“I am ready,” YuTu said.
“OK, just hold on. We’re going to start small. I don’t want you running away from me at high speed.”.
“Run away at high speed,” YuTu wailed and took off, straight down the driveway.
“Nooooooo, come back, stoppppp!” I yelled, chasing after it with my arms flapping in panic.
I reached the driveway just in time to see YuTu turn the corner onto Main Street. I took off running as fast as I could.
So this is actually the worst thing that could happen?
The bustle of the street hit me. People, cars, shops, restaurants. My legs burning but I was actually gaining on YuTu.
If I can just catch it, I can throw it away and move to the other side of the world.
YuTu was only five meters ahead of me. It turned the next corner, driven by some crazed, digital mission. I rounded the bend and entered a nightmare. Ten meters away was the most popular cafe in town. At least 30 people sat at the tiny, wooden tables and chairs. They were enjoying lattes and sunshine, unaware of their impending metal doom.
“Stop that robot!” I yelled. Everyone looked at me.
I was within arm’s reach of YuTu. Then, a waiter carrying a tray of food and drinks stepped out of the door of the cafe. Lunging forward, I tried desperately to catch the wayward robot. But it was too late.
YuTu’s collision detection was clearly not working. It crashed into the waiter’s legs. He buckled sidewards and fell to the ground. I plowed into the waiter and the robot. The tray of drinks fell, too, with cakes and banana smoothies raining down on all three of us like a flurry of sweet snow. A large cappuccino tumbled into the waiter’s crotch, the hot drink splashing like a wave against a sea wall.
“Ahh, cappuccino in my pants. Cappuccino in my pants! A robot has put cappuccino in my pants!” he yelled and yelled until the laughter of the quickly gathering crowd drowned him out.
Hoisting myself onto my elbows, I looked around at the devastation. The closest customer to us was an older lady, maybe in her late forties, a laptop covered in stickers in front of her and a look of disbelief in her eyes. She had a piece of chocolate cake squished on her head like an awkward hat and a river of chocolate sauce dripping down her face.
“Bravo, bravo, bravo,” came a slow chant from somewhere behind her.
I saw Dalk standing above me, finishing his slow clap and grinning. Then his face shifted to an exaggerated look of fear. “Well, looks like I’m in real trouble. It’s clear you have some magical ability with robots and this is going to be a tough competition. Oh AZ, why do you persist? Why do you even try, when you already know? You do, don’t you? You already know that I will win and you will just keep embarrassing yourself.”
OK, now this is the worst thing that could have happened.
Bzzz, BZZZZ, BZZZZZZZZZZZZ.
YuTu was whirring, with lights flashing and smoke leaking from multiple parts of its body.
A small explosion, more smoke and more laughter from the crowd.
“Well, at least it can’t get worse,” I sighed.
“Oh dear, darling, what has happened to you? What have you done?” My mum dodged through the crowd and tried to do about eight things at once.
“She’s not normally like this,” mum said, eyes darting for cover.
An hour later, I was in bed, covers over my head. Cake, smoothie and coffee washed off. The robot in the bin. Dignity buried deep in the earth.
Then came two days of humiliation at school. Dalk had surely practiced his reenactments, building to a crescendo of him lying on the ground, mimicking the waiter.
“Cappuccino in my pants, CAAAAPPUUUUCCINOOOOOO INNNNN MMYYYYY PAAANNNTTSSS! Ha ha ha ha. And then… no, wait… just listen..” His adoring fans were trying to finish the story but this was Dalk’s show. “Then her cheap-arse robot blows up and her mummy comes in to rescue poor, little AZ.” This show played six times over two days. Before and after school, plus the matinee during lunch.
How long could this go on? Maybe if I officially pulled out of the competition, apologised and polished Dalk’s shoes for a year, he would stop? Probably not.
Mrs D’Silva told me to ‘get back on the bike’ and try again.
“It’s a great first try. All the smartest people in the world had big failures early. Newton got hit with an apple. Come on, you can do this,” Mrs D’Silva said.
“I guess,” I replied, but convincing nobody.
When I got home, humiliated, I sneered at the garage door to the workshop and shut myself in my room. I passed the time by sometimes looking at the ceiling and sometimes burying my head under my pillow.
It is good to mix-up your self loathing.
On the second day after the “incident”, there was a loud knock at the door. I opened the door slowly, revealing a sort-of familiar-looking lady.
Where have I seen her before? Oh no. It’s the “cake on the head” woman from the cafe. Oh come on. Surely you can’t be so angry about one (or maximum two) pieces of cake randomly landing on yourhead that you track the person down and berate them? Sigh. Of course she would...
“Hello,” the lady said. Her calm voice surprised me.
“Um, hi,” I responded.
“I understand your name is AZ. I believe we briefly met three days ago at the cafe,” she said.
“Um, yes, um, quite briefly. I’m sorry about that… cake… landing… on your head…”
“The cake, oh yes, don’t worry about that. The most fun I’ve had for a while. My name is Lucia Machado, and I was wondering if I could talk to you for a few minutes.”
“Um, my parents aren’t home, so…”
“No problem, let’s sit here on the steps. It won’t take long.” She wore blue jeans and a simple white blouse. Her hair was in a tight, mid ponytail.
Well, what do I have to lose? Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
I sat down on the step, leaving enough space between us, as mandated by the international rules of body language between two people who have just met. Particularly if one of them previously put cake on the other’s head.
“You were testing that robot, correct?” Lucia asked.
I was a bit taken aback by her curt tone, but wanted to answer quickly.
“Yes, um, correct,” I said, for some unknown reason, I felt I had to impress this lady.
“The robot is part of a school competition, correct?”
“Correct,” I said, getting the hang of this conversation.
What is going on here? And where is this going?
“The competition allows teachers, parents and potentially other coaches to support the project but the robot must be fully built by the students, correct?”
“The robot can be built with a team of up to five students, correct?”
“Do you want to win the competition?”
“Correct.. umm, well, I’m not sure. I did. But it was so hard. I think I’d like to win. But it seems impossible.”
“Most big achievements seem impossible before they are done. You shouldn’t have to think about it. Do you or don’t you?”
I can’t win this. Unless this lady has a magic wand? Maybe she does. It would be so good to win. Just for the look on Dalk’s face. And the feeling of winning. That must be amazing.
Lucia was looking at me with soft eyes and a patient comfort with silence.
I lifted my chin and looked into Lucia’s eyes. “Yes,” I said. “I want to win.”
“Good. I would like to coach you on the project. I have a few conditions...” Lucia handed me a single sheet of paper.
Lucia Machado will coach AZ in the school robotics competition on the following conditions:
“Now you can think. Think it all through and, if you accept my offer, then track me down in the next twenty four hours and we will get started. If not, goodbye and good luck,” Lucia said, standing and striding down the road like she did this kind of thing every day.
What just happened? And who was this woman?
Wow. Thanks for reading all this way down to the bottom.
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