Drew’s next book: Be a reviewer! Yes, you! Genre: Digital-age sci-fi(?)

During the course of my research about publishing in the digital age, a couple of interesting things happened. As you could probably tell from the presentation, one of them was that my passion as an individual writer was suddenly reignited. More specifically, there is a story concept that I’ve had in mind since the summer of 2011 that I’ve been too intimidated to write, and suddenly I have a plan. And the most fun part? The plan involves you. Yes, you!

Over the course of the coming 2 months, my friend David Haffner and I will write a 1500-word version of a story involving a main character who agrees to have the internet surgically synchronized to his mind. We will need the sharpest reviewers to help us hone our manuscript, and that’s where you come in:

Tweet #DrewReview to @UrDrewColors to join the group where you will review and provide feedback on our initial story draft. I want YOU because you have demonstrated an incredible depth of thoughts about the impacts of the digital age on humanity and thus are in the perfect position to provide the best feedback possible!

What’s in it for you (besides the fun, of course)? You will be acknowledged in the final work, and will receive a free copy of any version we publish!

In doing research on the digital landscape for authors, you might recall from my in-class presentation that I discovered a new mentor, Erica Verrillo, who is a self-published author and manages the blog site called, “Publishing and other forms of Insanity.” Her website features a whole section on contests for authors: http://publishedtodeath.blogspot.com/p/free-contests.html

While perusing through the listings, I saw a sci-fi genre short story contest (unfortunately the deadline had passed a week earlier) for 1500 words or less, and noting that finalists would get Hollywood celebrity readings and be positioned to potentially be approached about adaptation deals.

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 7.13.02 AM.pngRoswell Award for Short Science Fiction. Genre: Science fiction, 1500 words max. Prize: $500. Finalists have their stories read by celebrities in Hollywood. Deadline: March 3, 2017.

So what’s been holding me back, you ask?

The structure. As you’ll see below, this is a “big idea,” one that when I first called and told my friend Mr. Haffner about, was rich enough where we were already talking in terms of several novels’ worth of material. How does one even get started?

Well, although the above contest is now over, it inspired me: 1500 words is achievable, and could be done in short order. And so, with my trusty co-author (who is a History and Theater major I’ve known since high school and is much more skilled than I at writing character dialogue), we will be achieving a 1500-word version of this story. If it goes well, it may represent an initial chapter of something larger.

And you’re probably also wondering how this wacky idea donned on me.

It was the summer of 2011, and I was staying at a Holiday Inn Express on Long Island, where I was stationed for about a month’s time setting up an international student program at what would become a successful pilot program I would later take to 150 other schools across 35 States and D.C. only three years later.

While staying at the hotel, I had an incredible amount of email traffic and digital documentation to manage, all the while coordinating home inspections for fourteen different potential host families for our incoming international student cohort. It was a tremendously busy and stressful time.

2017-04-01 22.49.05In a moment of equal parts stress-induced delirium and, I would like to think, forward-thinking creative inspiration, I imagined how much greater suited to the task I might be if I were able to command my electronic communications merely by thinking. Why… I could be answering scores of emails while going on a 3-mile run, or kayaking down a river… I would no longer be enslaved by a screen, sitting hunched over a device doing God-knows-what to my back and musculature and otherwise not being productive with my body.

And so a story came to my mind, one that I thought to be pretty groundbreaking and relevant to our current point in human history: the story of the first person to sync the internet with their mind. The reason I say it is so relevant is that, as we have seen evidence for across our course this semester, the technology basically exists. If you weren’t convinced by what we learned from last week’s presentation about accessibility-assistance apps that let you use your face as a mouse, consider this thought-controlled wheelchair.

If we can already use our thoughts to move a digital cursor… couldn’t we use our thoughts to do everything we can do with a cell phone? And then, couldn’t we ditch our devices and accept the next natural stage of human evolution: a digital, self-created “upgrade” to something extremely powerful in the digital information age. And that’s why you notice a question mark next to the phrase “sci-fi” in this blog’s title.

Without giving too much of the intended plot away, it will be set in the present day, and it will involve a scientist discovering his first guinea pig to test out a radical new technology… one that we are on the brink of and many of us are just realizing now.

The plot will explore the dangers that this new technology poses, as well as the effect on real human relationships as expressed through our characters.

I was so excited when everyone in class raised our hands and agreed that this new digital revolution is something very real that we need to prepare for. Now, join me as my co-author and I blow the lid off this thing and start delving into what this new evolution could look like, and what it might mean for us as a society.


  1. lesleyzhou · ·

    Wow Drew, so amazing to see your energy and passion reflected from this post. After last week’s in-class discussion regarding the rapid development of AI and finally taking the time to watch an episode of Black Mirror (Netflix series my friends kept urging me to try), I really do believe that there will be an onslaught of a new digital revolution and I think your basic idea is very intriguing/relevant. I wonder how you will go about showing the impacts of this new technology on human relationships – will it be detrimental or will it actually increase human interaction, just via technology? Perhaps it allow someone to iMessage another person making communication access faster and easier (Google translate could help breakdown language barriers as well) or perhaps someone who is anti-social can increase conversation activity with the ability to “Google search” topics/more information on certain conversational topics?

    1. drewsimenson · ·

      Thanks, Lesley! Indeed, we will be exploring your questions and more (well, not TOO many more; it will be only 1500 words to start, after all)! We are likely to show both the “ups” and “downs” of this throughout the story. Let me know if you would like to join the review group. :)

  2. Nice post. I will be interested to hear how things work out with this experiment.

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