A Bleak New World has dawned!


Starting at noon EST, the Bleak New World crew will be holding a release party on Facebook! Come, talk with the authors (including yours truly!) and maybe win a copy of your very own! It’s gonna be so awesome it will more than deserve every single exclamation point in this post!!!

A Bleak New World is imminent!


Tomorrow is the release of A Bleak New World, the dystopian anthology that features my short story “Incarnation”.  I will be participating in a book release event on Facebook, so watch this space for a link and come join me!  If you absolutely must have a taste of what’s to come right now, then I have a treat for you: the anthology authors have shared the backstories for their pieces on author Gregory Norris’s blog! Here’s a brief excerpt from mine:

I would often confront friends (and acquaintances…and people at parties…) with this question: if you were to switch brains with a friend, which person is you and which is your friend? Or are two new people created in the melding of minds and bodies?

Read more from me and the other authors here!

Life is too short for bad books



It’s pretty rare for me to abandon a book.  Yet, in the past couple weeks, I’ve abandoned three.  I even deleted them from my Kindle!  They were that bad.  So bad.  Painfully bad.  The dialogue was wooden, the plots were eye-rollingly unbelieveble, the descriptions were trite, cliched, hackneyed.  In short, the writing was terrible.  Ugh.  Ugh ugh ugh.

How did I encounter three books in a row that were so bad?  They were “bestsellers” on Amazon.  They had favorable reviews.  How could they be so “nails on a chalkboard” terrible?  Has the quality of literature plummeted?  Were they self-published and had no, or bad, editors?  Or is it that my own taste in fiction has changed?

I read slush for the horror/sci-fi/fantasy magazine Apex. (For those of you who don’t know, slush is the term for the mound of stories that are submitted to a publication.  Apex, like many magazines, has a team that sorts through these stories, rejects most of them, and forwards the very best to the editor-in-chief.)  We get a lot of submissions; I get at least ten stories a week to review, and there are sixteen readers on the slush team.  Apex publishes three stories a month, and those stories, as well as the magazine itself, are frequently nominated for awards, so the bar is very high.  It’s my job to reject every story that isn’t the very best, which means I reject almost everything.  And I reject most stories after reading the first page, often after reading the first paragraph.  If the story doesn’t grab me right off and compel me to keep reading, I stop reading and reject the story.  If the writing isn’t exceptional in that first paragraph or first page, I stop reading and reject the story.

I suspect this has a lot to do with my emerging impatience with “bad” books.  A novel has a lot more leeway than a short story when it comes to compelling the reader to continue reading: a short story should grab you with the first sentence, while a novel can usually be granted a chapter or so.  If it fails that test, or if the writing isn’t exceptional, I have no patience with it. I stop reading.  I reject it.

Maybe I need to stick to well-regarded fiction.  Nominees and winners of awards like the Hugo, the Nebula, the Edgar, and so on.  I definitely need to stop feeling guilty about abandoning books that don’t measure up to my standards.  I used to recommend that writers read good stuff and bad stuff.  I was wrong.  Life is too short for bad books.