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Mick Liubinskas

Mick Liubinskas

San Francisco, California

Mick is an Aussie living in Silicon Valley. He's wonderfully married with 2 girls and a boy, geek, surfer, traveller, cook, innovator, keynote speaker and author of Startup Focus

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About the author

Mick is a constant source of energy and innovation. 

He is co-author of Startup Focus which sold 5,000 copies;

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 vigor, Mick surfs, plays soccer in real life and paintball via virtual reality, does yoga, meditates and coaches his daughters 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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Success! She's Building A Robot sold 589 pre-orders by Feb. 14, 2019, was pitched to 118 publishers, and is in discussions with publishers.

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She's Building A Robot

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.

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Young Adult Technology
43,000 words
100% complete
17 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;

  • Girls, women, females;
  • Young, teenagers, teens, middle-grade, young adult;
  • Who like computers, technology, programming, electronics, hardware, robots, robotics, engineering, STEM, STEAM, design.


  • AZ solves a puzzle, angering Dalk, the rich kid of the school. 
  • AZ enters the robot building competition that Dalk always wins to make peace. 
  • She builds her first robot and it goes wild and causes an accident, involving a veteran tech person named Lucia.
  • Lucia offers to be AZ's mentor
  • AZ brings on 10 (the name of the second lead character) a robot building girl who lost to Dalk last year. She's more geeky than AZ. 
  • They recruit Li (a quirky non-gender student) onto their team and together they build Ada, their robot.

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:

  1. 10,000 twitter followers, 3,500 LinkedIn Connections. 
  2. Blogger for 15 years: 
  3. Access to Silicon Valley schools including their robotics clubs
  4. Access to corporate entrepreneur groups including Microsoft, Linkedin, Oracle, Adobe, Stanford, Singularity University, Berkeley and more. 
  5. Network connections in 25 countries, including 7 countries recently teaching entrepreneurship; 
  6. I am an industry leader around the world,
  7. I speak at events around the world constantly including to audiences of 2,000+ 

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. 

1. Publisher

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.

Danielle: Chronicles of a Superheroine

Ray Kurzweil
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. 

Galaxy Girls - 50 Amazing Women in Space

Libby Jackson
HarperCollins 2018
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.

The Wild Robot

Peter Brown
Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016
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?

House of Robots

James Patterson
Jimmy Patterson Publishing 2014
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".

Max Einstein - Number 1 Amazon Bookseller 

James Patterson
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.

Miscalculations of Lightning Girl

Publisher Random House
May 2018
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.

17 publishers interested Express interest
Apocryphile Press logo Apocryphile Press

Apocryphile Press is a small, new-paradigm publishing company based in the San Francisco East Bay. We specialize in edgy spirituality, and pretty much anything that snags our fancy.

We are especially interested at this time in literary or genre fiction with a spiritual bent that portrays religious people in realistic ways. (Translation: if your religious characters aren't deeply flawed and don't cuss, don't send it to us.)

Independent publisher

Fantasy, Health, History, Lifestyle, Literary Fiction, Memoirs, Mind & Body, Mystery, Religious, Romance, Sci-Fi, Self-Help, Thriller, Travel, Young Adult


Aurora Metro Books/ Supernova Books logo Aurora Metro Books/ Supernova Books

An award-winning independent publisher based in London established for more than 25 years, Aurora Metro Books has published over 200 authors from around the world including Germaine Greer, Meera Syal, Benjamin Zephaniah, Jean-Claude Carriere and Nawal el Sadaawi.

We publish both in print and digital and distribute our books in UK, Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore. We run a biennial competition for women novelists called the Virginia Prize for Fiction, have a celebrated international list of young adult fiction and publish diverse fiction, literary and historical fiction and select non-fiction titles.

With the launch of our imprint Supernova Books, we are expanding our non-fiction list to focus on the arts and culture, particularly film and music: 'The British Beat Explosion' was voted best Blues Book 2014 and 'Silent Women:pioneers of cinema' was voted best book on silent film in 2016.

Independent publisher

History, Journalism, Lifestyle, Literary Fiction, Memoirs, Mystery, Politics, Professional, Sci-Fi, Science, Self-Help, Sports, Technology, Thriller, Travel, Young Adult

United Kingdom

Black Rose Writing logo Black Rose Writing

Innovative - Self-reliant - Nimble - Forward Thinking - Subject Experts - Entrepreneurial - Engaged

Black Rose Writing is an independent publishing house that strongly believes in developing a personal relationship with their authors. The Texas-based publishing company doesn't see authors as clients or just another number on a page, but rather as individual people... people who deserve an honest review of their material and to be paid traditional royalties without ever paying any fees to be published.

Black Rose Writing, established in 2006, features books from an array of fiction, non-fiction, and children's book genres, all having one thing in common, an individual's originality and hardship. It can take endless hours to finish a deserving manuscript, and Black Rose Writing applauds each and every author, giving them a chance at their dream. Because Black Rose Writing takes full advantage of modern printing technology, the company has an infinite print run via print-on-demand services.

Black Rose Writing's success with their authors is due mainly to their many lines of promotion, (examples: showcasing book titles at festivals, scheduling book events, flexible marketing programs, and sending out press releases and review copies, etc.) and they provide a broad distribution (Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more...) that larger book publishers also reach. We are proud members of IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association), a recognized ITW (International Thriller Writers) publisher, members of Publishers Marketplace, and currently serving on the Ingram Publisher Advisory Board.

Independent publisher

Business, Children's, Fantasy, Health, History, Literary Fiction, Memoirs, Mystery, Professional, Romance, Sci-Fi, Self-Help, Sports, Thriller, Young Adult

Canada, United Kingdom, United States

Isabella Media Inc logo Isabella Media Inc

Why Isabella Media is fast becoming one of the most credible and successful publishers in the industry? Simple—we have the best authors, the most talented production staff, and we publish each book to see the highest potential of sales and royalties! We are the publisher that others are striving to emulate because we are the most author-friendly publishing house in America!

When you become part of the exclusive Isabella Media Inc team, here are a few things you can expect:

Access to professional cover design specialists for your book.
Access to professional editing and text layout designers with registered ISBN provided.
Your book is set up for nationwide distribution through our hand-picked distributors.
The author is assigned a personal publishing representative who follows a project plan for every book which includes sending press releases, book signing requests to bookstores, and monitoring availability of the book at all times, as well as assisting with speaking engagements and public appearances. The publishing representative is the author's personal contact for any publishing project requests and on-going needs.
Your book can be produced in paper format, audiobook format, and eBook format. eBooks are quickly gaining popularity as technology now allows you to read books on your smartphone, tablet, computer or a stand-alone eBook reader.
Our staff will regularly set up events (book signing) and interviews with credible media outlets to gain exposure for your book.
Your book is made available to 39,000 retailers, libraries, schools, and universities including,, and many other eCommerce websites and retail outlets.
To learn more about royalties, contracts, and production resources, and timelines, you can request more information to be e-mailed to you by contacting us at

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Canada, United States

Mango Publishing logo Mango Publishing

Mango is an innovative independent publisher based in beautiful Miami. Mango publishes books from the freshest, most distinctive voices of our time. Mango books seek to stretch the boundaries of our online culture, social media and ideas.

Books have changed our lives and we believe that Mango books should be instruments of change, inspiration and entertaining. We publish books, eBooks, journals, and workbooks covering new ideas and pursuits across a global range of interests and passions.

Mango authors are experts in their fields, are creative and marketing geniuses, and know how to share and socialize their ideas. Mango authors are our partners in publishing. Together, we produce great books to help build authors’ brands and long-term success.

Independent publisher

Business, Business, Children's, Cookbooks, Cookbooks, Health, Health, History, Lifestyle, Lifestyle, Memoirs, Memoirs, Mind & Body, Mind & Body, Professional, Religious, Science, Self-Help, Self-Help, Sports, Technology


Odyssey Books logo Odyssey Books

Odyssey Books is committed to publishing engaging and beautifully written books. Books that stretch the imagination, challenge pre-existing attitudes and beliefs, or take readers to far-flung climes. Books are always a journey. And as our name suggests, we invest in epic journeys, adventurous voyages and intellectual or spiritual quests. Readers are sure to find a book within our range of titles to challenge, inspire and entertain.

Authors will discover that we at Odyssey Books understand the synergy that exists between an author and their works. Like all publishers, we invest in books. And we foster that investment through our long-term commitment to our authors. Writers know that the creative journey can be as long and uncertain as it is exciting. We travel alongside all our authors, offering guidance and encouragement along the way. For Odyssey, each new release is a collaboration, and we value highly the thoughts, wishes and dreams of our authors.

Odyssey titles are distributed in Australian and New Zealand by Novella Distribution, and Worldwide via Ingram.

Independent publisher

Cookbooks, Fantasy, History, Journalism, Lifestyle, Literary Fiction, Memoirs, Mind & Body, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Technology, Thriller, Travel, Young Adult


Sunbury Press logo Sunbury Press

Sunbury Press, Inc., headquartered in Mechanicsburg, PA is a publisher of hardcover, trade paperback, and eBooks featuring established and emerging authors in many categories. Sunbury's books are sold through leading booksellers worldwide.

We are a traditional royalty-paying trade publisher. Our publishing process includes the following:

Substantive/Developmental Editing (if necessary)
Copy Editing
Formatting and Book Design
Cover Design
ISBN Registry
Library of Congress Registry
Product Formats (Trade Paperback, Hardcover, eBook – usually two or more)
Advanced Reader Copies (NetGalley or Print)
Global Print Distribution to Bookstore / Library Trade
Online Distribution to major eCommerce book retailers
Direct Marketing to Sunbury Press Readers
Marketing to the Book Trade through Distribution Channels
Direct Marketing to over 1200 Independent Bookstores in the USA
Category/Imprint-Specific Marketing Activities
Publicity to Key Targeted Media (Cision Publicity Platform to over 3 million in media)
Assistance with Book Signing Events, Author Central, Goodreads, Author Blogs, etc.
Monthly Sunbury Press Authors Newsletter
Author Training or Collaboration Seminars
Foreign Rights / Translation Opportunities
Movie / Television / Other Media Opportunities
Wholesale Book Purchases (no minimum requirement)

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Black Pawn Press logo Black Pawn Press

​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.

In forming Black Pawn, we knew we wanted to do things a little differently. Instead of focusing on specific genres and tailoring to industry standard demographics, we're more interested in allowing people to simply tell their stories. Whether it's based on actual events, or if it's something they've allowed their imaginations to conjure, we're going to give them the opportunity to share their work with readers in both print and electronic formats. While other publishers are constantly worried about the bottom line, money isn't our driving force. Good people are, and it's sometimes those people who are being overlooked by mainstream publishing houses. Just take a look at some of the titles we've released so far and those in development, and you'll discover everything from a real-life mystical experience to the basis of several upcoming feature films and television concepts.

​So when you think of Black Pawn Press, think of us as a publishing house where we firmly believe that imagination has no boundaries.

Hybrid publisher

Business, History, Journalism, Literary Fiction, Memoirs, Mystery, Professional, Romance, Sci-Fi, Self-Help, Thriller, Young Adult


Cranthorpe Millner logo Cranthorpe Millner

Too many beautifully written books are rejected on a regular basis because the submitting author doesn’t have a strong enough author platform.

The barriers for authors are getting higher and the publishing industry less discerning and more unscrupulous.

By operating a hybrid publishing model, Cranthorpe Millner can invite authors to publish with us based on the merit of the manuscript alone.

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Canada, United Kingdom, United States

eBooks2go logo eBooks2go

eBooks2go, Inc., was founded in 2011 to provide the missing link for all your publishing needs. Our end-to-end solutions provide the guidance and support that enable publishers and independent authors to pursue their passions. To date, we have helped more than 750 authors and 100 publishers worldwide.

Our Mission
eBooks2go is where dreams get published! We are devoted to grooming authors and publishers for long-term success. We strive to deliver high-quality products, sustainable marketing strategies, and a positive customer experience throughout the entire publishing process. Our experienced staff will directly work with you to help your books enthrall and entertain readers.

We Are the Catalyst for Your Writing Career
eBooks2go offers an array of simple and affordable solutions to assist self-publishing authors at every stage of the book publishing process. Our comprehensive service offering includes editing, print and eBook production, book marketing, cover designs, ISBN registration, and even website designs. We are the single source for all of your publishing needs.

Profit from Your Passion
eBooks2go is invested in your publishing goals! Follow your ambitions and contact us today to learn more about the personalized publishing experience we offer!

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Mascot Books logo Mascot Books

We are a full service book publishing company that works closely with independent authors in every phase of writing/editorial, book production, book marketing, and book distribution. Our roster includes bestselling authors who have previously traditionally published, first time authors, and authors at various levels in between.

What separates Mascot is our hands-on approach to publishing. We work closely with each author in all phases of the publishing process. Mascot authors benefit from our industry experience, connections, and our commitment to keep up with the latest trends in the ever-evolving world of publishing.

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Prodigy Gold Books logo Prodigy Gold Books

The History
Prodigy Publishing Group was founded in 2009 and has been steadily publishing distinguishable trade paperback fiction since. Its flagship imprint Prodigy Gold Books is spearheading its journey with a fall 2017 line up that includes four novels by four authors sure to delight readers. Prodigy Gold Books is dedicated to publishing a variety of must-read books on a wide array of topics and genres.

The Mission
Our mission is to showcase established voices and to introduce emerging new ones—both fiction and nonfiction genres.

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1106 Design, LLC logo 1106 Design, LLC

Dear Author,

Congratulations on writing your book!

Options abound in today's publishing world, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between traditional publishers, hybrid publishers, subsidy publishers, and self-publishing companies.

1106 Design offers independent publishing as it was initially intended, with you, the author, as the publisher. We don't publish your book, you do, and we'll show you how with our signature hand-holding at every step.

We offer publishing-house-quality manuscript editing, cover design, interior design and layout, proofreading, eBook formatting, author websites, and book marketing assistance, to help you produce a beautiful, market-ready book. Then we'll help you obtain printing and distribution in your name, so 100% of the proceeds are paid directly to you.

Work with us, and you'll retain complete control of the creative process, your design files, and your revenue stream, and your book will be available for sale in a matter of months.

Here's a price summary of our most popular services for books 50,000 words and under:

Cover Design starting at $715
Interior Layout with Proofreading starting at $1,390
Copyediting: $33 per thousand words
Ebook Formatting starting at $590

You can find the prices for all our services here:

Is it worth it? Click the links below to view our cover and interior design samples and customer reviews to decide for yourself:

If you would like a custom quote, please email your completed manuscript to and let us know which services you need. Don't worry; we won’t share your manuscript with anyone else.

Questions? We'll be happy to talk to you. Please use this link to choose a convenient time:

At 1106 Design, we love helping authors create great books! We hope to hear from you soon.

Michele DeFilippo

Service publisher

Business, Children's, Cookbooks, Fantasy, Health, History, Journalism, Lifestyle, Literary Fiction, Memoirs, Mind & Body, Mystery, Novella, Politics, Professional, Religious, Sci-Fi, Science, Self-Help, Sports, Technology, Thriller, Travel, Young Adult


Atmosphere Press logo Atmosphere Press

Atmosphere Press is an independent full-service publisher for books in genres ranging from non-fiction to fiction to poetry to children's picturebooks, with a special emphasis on being an author-friendly approach to getting a book into the world. We're professional, honest, and kind.

Here’s what we stand for:

Honesty: because our mission is to be author-friendly, that means always giving honest advice about the ins and outs of the authorial life. We are dedicated to sticking by one of our founding precepts: “if I were the author, what would I want to know?”

Transparency: publishing is rife with dodgy behavior, from predatory vanity presses who promise the moon to traditional presses who make book changes without the author’s permission. We’re dedicated to letting you see the wizard behind the curtain, so you can rest easy that everything’s on the up and up.

Professionalism: with decades of combined years of writing, editing, designing, and publishing experience, our staff knows the ins and outs of the industry, and will be responsive and helpful. And of course, we will only publish books that truly contribute something wonderful to the world.

Kindness: as an author-friendly press, we take the word “friendly” seriously. A good publisher shouldn’t be just a business partner, but should be full of people you’d want to invite to dinner. Whether it be making a good joke or allaying your worries about being an author, kindness is our hallmark.

Making Your Book Awesome: we really can’t settle for anything less. We want our authors and their readers to be blown away when they first hold that book in their hands. It needs to look good inside and out, and feel good to the touch. And, of course, the words need to be top-notch, and our editors are devoted to making that the case.

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Bookmobile logo Bookmobile

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Bookmobile provides book printing, graphic design, and other resources to support book publishers in an ever-changing environment. Superior quality, excellent customer service, flexibility, and timely turnarounds have attracted nearly 1,000 satisfied clients to Bookmobile, including trade houses, university presses, independent publishers, museums, galleries, artists, and more.

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Happy Self Publishing logo Happy Self Publishing

We have helped 250+ authors to get their books self-published, hit the #1 position in the Amazon bestseller charts and also establish their author website & brand to grow their business. And the best thing is, we do all this without taking away your rights and royalties. Our publishing packages start at $699! Let's schedule a call to discuss the next steps in your book project:

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ShieldCrest Publishing logo ShieldCrest Publishing

ShieldCrest are book publishers based in the UK who fill that vital gap for talented authors where mainstream publishers are unwilling to give them that chance. We strive for excellence and invest in our authors and are listed in FreeIndex as the number one independent publisher in the UK for price quality and service rated author satisfaction. We publish books of all genres including; fiction, historical, biographies and children's books.

ShieldCrest publishing continues to grow rapidly with satisfied authors throughout the UK and overseas. Our range of products includes paperbacks, hardbacks and digitised e-books in all formats used globally in the myriad of e-readers.

In addition to the above, ShieldCrest provides a complete range of services including book design and layout, illustrations, proof reading and editing. For marketing we offer author web page, press releases, social media marketing packages and many other support services to help both first time and experienced authors get their books into the market quickly and maximise on the opportunities available.

These services enable us to guide our authors through the process as we transform their manuscript into a professional book, which can take its place with pride next to any famous author's book of the same genre.

The staff at ShieldCrest have many years experience in the book industry and this wealth of experience is put at the disposal of our authors.

Our clients include established authors such as Diane Marshall who has been acclaimed as the best writing talent to come from Scotland for years by The Scotsman newspaper, and Prof Donald Longmore OBE, who performed the first heart transplant in the UK and has sold thousands of medical books used by students throughout the world. We also recently released "Martin Foran-The Forgotten Man" by J.R. Stephenson, which features fraud within the police, abuse within the prison service and injustices in the courts and has been featured in the press and on TV.

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She's Building A Robot

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.

“Spin around.”

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.


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.

  1. Panic generally.

  2. Apologise to the cake-wearing lady.

  3. Pick up the pieces of the robot, a look of curiosity on her face.

  4. Check my head for blood.

  5. Wipe the coffee off of the waiter, making him shuffle back.

  6. Check my eyes for a concussion.

  7. Get out money to pay for the mess.

  8. And finally to apologise to anyone within earshot for what her daughter did.

“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:

  1. You listen

  2. You work very hard

  3. You never give up

“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. 

  1. Please buy a package - the biggest one possible of course. Don't forget you can donate the books to a school or library of your choice. 
  2. Please share this on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Friendster or on your local bulletin board... 
  3. Introduce me to your local coding or robotics group.
  4. Go read the interviews on the blog;

Here is an example video interview with Charlotte Yarkoni of Microsoft.

  • Phoebe Adams
    on Jan. 15, 2019, 1:15 a.m.

    Well done Mick, I look forward to reading this with my daughter! Phoebe

  • Lars Janowski
    on Jan. 15, 2019, 1:29 a.m.

    Thanks Mick, what an awesome idea. Let's get this published! Lars

  • Anthony Mansour
    on Jan. 15, 2019, 1:35 a.m.

    With 3 daughters I know how hard it is to find great work like this...thanks Mick!!!

  • Greg Denehy
    on Jan. 15, 2019, 1:59 a.m.

    Love your work Mick. As a father of two young girls I’m keen to see this book out in the world.

  • Jon Fyfe
    on Jan. 15, 2019, 5:37 a.m.

    Looking forward to it, well done Mick!

  • Millie Zinner
    on Jan. 15, 2019, 6:08 a.m.

    Love it! Good on you Mick and I'm happy to support. My Full name is Amelia Zinner (millie is my nickname) so my initials are actually AZ :)

  • Yasmin Grigaliunas
    on Jan. 15, 2019, 7:07 a.m.

    Love this SO much Mick! Looking forward to reading this book and gifting copies to not only our 2 daughters, but to their friends too!

  • Bob Hitching
    on Jan. 15, 2019, 2:32 p.m.

    you had me at "Let's get more women into technology" - great stuff Mick

  • Robett Hollis
    on Jan. 15, 2019, 5:15 p.m.

    Yeahhhhhh budddddyyyyyy. My Daughters are gonna love it!!!

  • Holly Cardew
    on Jan. 15, 2019, 10:45 p.m.

    Can't wait to read it. Thank you for all your support and for supporting women in tech!

    • Guy Vincent
      on Jan. 21, 2019, 4:49 p.m.

      Hey Holly! Thanks for your support :)

  • Nerida Clare
    on Jan. 17, 2019, 10:48 a.m.

    Congratulations Mick! I look forward to reading it and sharing it with Sienna in years to come! xx

  • Guy Vincent
    on Jan. 17, 2019, 2:26 p.m.

    This book idea is awesome, Mick! Keep up the amazing work

  • Max Antonov
    on Jan. 18, 2019, 2:13 a.m.

    All the best Mick! Can't wait to give this book to my daughters

  • Katherine Lancman
    on Jan. 25, 2019, 9:35 p.m.

    Very happy to support and spread the word about "She's Building a Robot"! Our actions today make it better for our girls. Thank you for leading the charge, Mick!