Kevin J. Anderson’s “Selected Stories: Science Fiction Volume 2”: A must read for science fiction fans

Selected Stories

Selected Stories: Science Fiction Volume 2, by Kevin J. Anderson a collection short science fiction stories from a master story teller. This collection is comprised of short fiction created throughout his long and profitable career as an author, and the nice thing about this collection is that Anderson has included a brief introduction to each one, giving a brief glimpse into each story’s inspiration.

Experiments gone awry, time travelers, inescapable planetary prisons, hot, but frightening alien sex tales, giant robots, the ultimate population control; they are all here, in this collection. The stories in this collection are skillfully crafted Anderson twists on the science fiction themes we know and love. Also included is an excerpt from one of Anderson’s early novels, Hopscotch. “Club Masquerade” explores the concept of body switching and takes it in some extreme directions.

Kevin J. Anderson is a master storyteller, and every story in this collection is imaginative and entertaining. I give Selected Stories: Science Fiction Volume 2 five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Short Fiction Contest! Paranormal Stories Sought

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I love a good ghost story or paranormal tale, and that’s just what I’m looking for for the first Wordcrafter short fiction contest. If you write paranormal short fiction, submit your best story for a chance for it to be included in a paranormal anthology. Flash fiction is accepted as long as it is a complete story, with beginning, middle and end. In addition to publication, the winner will recieve a $25 Amazon gift card.

Guidelines:

  • Submit paranormal, speculative fiction, or horror. I want to read your story!
  • Stories should be less than 10,000 words and have a paranormal element. They don’t have to be scary, but it helps.
  • Submit stories in a word doc, double spaced with legible 12 pt font, in standard manuscript format.
  • Submit stories to kayebooth@yahoo.com with Submission: [Your Title] in the subject line. You will recieve instructions to submit your $5 entry fee with confirmation of reciept.
  • If you recieve an invitation for the anthology, you will also be asked to submit a short author bio and photo.
  • No simultaneous submissions. You should recieve a reply within 45 – 60 days.
  • Multiple submissions are accepted with appropriate entry fee for each individual story.

I’m excited about this contest and the resulting anthology, and I hope you are, too. I can’t wait to read your stories. I’m hoping to release the anthology around Halloween through WordCrafter Press, so get your submissions in by April 30th. I’m searching for a title for this anthology, so if you have a paranormal title that’s killer, leave a comment below and give me your suggestions.

 

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“A Twist of Fate”: A short story collection of legends in the making

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A Twist of Fate: A Collection of 11 Twisted Fairy Tales is a delightful collection of short fiction which plays off of the fairy tales of yore to create a collection of charming fairy tales, in both traditional and contemporary styles, that entertains and enthralls. Filled with works from a plethora of talent, this collection may change the way we look at fairy tales.

All of these stories were quite enjoyable, but I’ll just give you some highlights of my favorites. Did you ever wonder about the role the peas played in The Princess and the Pea? Nanea Knott shares her ideas about this in The Princess Tests. K. Matt claims that Rampage is a twist on Rapunzel, but I’d venture to say she borrowed a bit from Medusa as I read this monstrosly hairy tale. Peter, Peter, by Chandra Truelove Fry presents a very twisted take on Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater that will deter even the strongest hearts from eating pumpkin ever again. Damian Connolly does a smashing job of taking Sleeping Beauty into the Indian jungles in The Lost City, and you’ll be surprised by what happens when the princess is awakened.

Fiction Atlas Press could have done a better job with proofreading, as I found typos throughout, ingbut overall I found found this collection of twisted tales to be quite engaging. I give A Twist of Fate five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.

 


Jeff’s Pep Talk: “Doing the MFA Thing”

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“Doing the MFA Thing”

By Jeff Bowles

The first Wednesday of every month, science fiction and horror writer Jeff Bowles offers advice to new and aspiring authors. Nobody ever said this writing thing would be easy. This is your pep talk.

When I was deciding to go back to school for an MFA, I noticed that a lot of writers—particularly those working in Science Fiction and Fantasy—looked down on the need to earn a secondary degree in what is essentially a field dominated by outsiders and formerly independent upstarts. Most successful writers have no MFA, after all. They learned to write successfully on their own. Teachers and professors need MFAs, but not writers. That’s the general feeling out there.

And I had no intention of becoming a teacher. I did, however, have a strong desire to tell stories at a higher level than I was capable of at that time. The thought of going back to school was both exciting and nausea inducing. Like many writers, I’ve got a touch of anxiety and isolationism. Meeting new people, lots of new people, it can be tricky for me. I also knew if I chose the wrong program, it’d set me back in my career rather than push me forward.

If you are considering a creative writing MFA, know there are basically two categories these kinds of programs can fall into: literary and traditional vs. everyone else. I write genre fiction. I’m a hopeless pop culture nerd and it never occurred to me to write anything else. Luckily, that made my decision much easier. Sensing correctly that most traditional master’s programs can get snobby about what and how you write, I knew I needed to place myself among like-minded people. At the time I decided to apply, the early part of 2013, there were only a few programs in the United States that specialized in genre fiction (that is to say, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, Crime; you know, the good stuff). Two of these were clear across the country, and all had a ‘low residency’ requirement, which is just another way of saying students have to live on campus a few weeks of the year.

The third program I found was a fairly new entry into what has since become a growing category of alternative MFA programs and certificates. It was also in my home state, Colorado, about 150 miles west of the little prairie town where I live with my wife. Western State Colorado University is a small but growing mountain college nestled in the Gunnison Valley, absolutely beautiful place, especially in the summer. The setting is rustic, but I’m a rural Colorado guy anyway, so it suited me just fine. Like I said, I was pretty nervous about meeting a whole new group of people, but I was hopeful in the very least that I’d come out of the program a much better writer, ready to take on the literary world in all its many serpentine manifestations.

During the two years I attended Western, I wrote an enormous amount of material, the majority of which I published. Actually, I started publishing it in the middle of my coursework, which impressed my classmates. I’d already been writing seriously for seven or eight years, and that’s kind of a stereotypical calibration mile marker at which point writers ‘stop being just okay’ and ‘start getting good’. Anyway, maybe the timing was on my side. Make no mistake, writers can be a jealous and fickle lot, and many who doubt their own abilities fall victim to popular whims and the nasty habit of clinging to others who, ehem, smell like success. That’s actually a constant in entertainment industries far and wide, so it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that nastiness and in-fighting can and do occur in MFA programs.

So while I can honestly say I produced a large amount of quality (and more importantly, saleable) work, the sum total of the experience was perhaps not exactly what I expected. For one, if you find that you’re a bit of a loner—as many authors are—you may consider other avenues. The notion of community is indeed important, but in programs such as these, group dynamics are a factor. You may experience interpersonal drama as the natural course. Heck, you may even participate in it. Some people think competition is good, that it breeds character, dedication, and an overall positive, can-do attitude. I don’t agree. I think it usually brings out the worst in people. The problem is that folks get into the mindset there is only so much success to go around, a grand lie if there ever was one. And really, a high-stress creative environment can only exacerbate insecurities, anxiety, and small-minded thinking. It’s entirely possible you’ll experience nothing of the sort during your time at an MFA, but then again, you may find yourself crawling through a big stinking pile of it.

The other thing worth mentioning is that if you as a writer are prone to overwork or burnout, you may consider getting a certificate or simply attending a really good writing workshop or two. There are plenty of those to go around, and they don’t require tens of thousands of dollar to attend, either. I wouldn’t trade my time at Western for anything. Really, I wouldn’t. The experiences I had, the people I met (even the ones I ended up disagreeing with), shaped me in unexpected ways. Pressure cooker situations can make you better at what you do, but they can also cause a slowdown or even complete stoppage of your natural creative drive. Ultimately, this is what happened to me, though luckily, writer’s block is perfectly surmountable given enough time and patience.

As I’m sure you well know, creative writing can be pretty difficult, especially when we as writers are put into situations or contracts under which we’re required to maintain constant output. But writing isn’t like most other creative professions, in that it doesn’t just require your creativity and imagination, but also your intellect and higher reasoning skills. To string one word after another, continuously, until a fully realized narrative emerges, that’s pretty hardcore, right? So again, if you are prone to periods of overwork or burnout, if you make a habit of pushing yourself too hard or of not being forgiving or gentle enough to allow yourself time to recoup your creative energy, an MFA may not be for you.

Yes, you can teach with one, and that may be the most useful outcome. Not every writer wants to teach. In fact, I think most don’t. But if you’ve been doing this a while, I’m sure you’ve also recognized the very real truth that superstar authors are few and far between, and even fewer simply got lucky on their paths, as opposed to agonizing over their craft for years and years before anyone showed even the slightest interest. So to teach or not to teach? Well, a paycheck is better than an empty bank account under any circumstance, and since reality is (unfortunately) rather persistent, you may find you need to pay some bills before your incredible new urban fantasy novel sees the light of day.

At the time I attended Western State, the school’s Genre Fiction program was still pretty new, and as such, the faculty still had a few things to iron out. This led to an uneven learning experience at times, but as far as a basic academic progress went, I always felt satisfied. Some of my classmates had a bad habit of complaining about certain aspects of our coursework, but I was always of the opinion that you get out what you put in. In other words, I never even bothered second-guessing individual assignments or their value. I simply treated them as writing challenges, opportunities for me to have fun and excel. And I loved to write, so I committed myself to telling the best stories I could, and at least in the short term, it paid off for me.

One thing is certain, if you go into an intense learning environment with a bad attitude, you’re already behind the eight ball. I had a great attitude, though my somewhat imbalanced mental health picture (at the time I suffered from some pretty bad depression) set me apart from my classmates, in that I occasionally needed extra help and time in order to get my work done. My teachers were more than willing to accommodate me, and thanks to them, I graduated on time and with (mostly) straight A’s. I used that lovely piece of frameable paper to bounce myself into some editing and freelance work, but if I’m being honest, sustained productivity become an issue after that. Perhaps I was just dog tired. Can you really blame me?

When all is said and done, the choice to pursue an MFA comes down to what you value and what you think you can accomplish on your own. An intense, focused experience like this can make you a better writer. I know it made me better. But it’s also true that you can get better on your own, through dedication, persistence, and a healthy work ethic. I think I was open and ready for something that allowed me to hone my abilities in a safe, nurturing, and output-driven environment. I’d like to thank all the faculty and staff at Western State Colorado University for their generosity of spirit and willingness to pass on their considerable knowledge and expertise. Don’t forget, folks, this is your story. Tell it how you want to sell it!

Until next time!


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative short stories are collected in Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, Black Static, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars.

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Video Games – Music – Entertainment – So Much More!


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“Brave New Multiverse”: A Short Story Collection

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Brave New Multiverse is a collection of unusual and unique short stories by Jeff Bowles, in which there is never a dull moment. You may be amazed, amused, confused, or even a little disgusted, but you will not be bored with any of the stories in this collection.

Bowles combines the craft of short story with screenwriting to create an experimental writing style that somehow works.  His descriptive power is phenomenal, if a bit graphic. The worlds he has created may be strange and difficult to define, but they are also different from worlds encountered by any other author. In Itsies, ids are called itsies and you don’t got to love them, even if they wear a teddy bear suit. In The Many Deaths of Lazarus Lad, comic book heroes never ever die. In Detective Robot and the Murderous Spacetime Schism, robots and gorillas are detectives solving the case of the deceased dropping from the sky. In Donald Carmichael’s Brave New Multiverse: A trip to five very odd ‘verses’, where nothing is as it appears, or is it? And in Snip, Snip: where they take bigotry to new levels and have hang ups about testicles.

His characters are as diverse and unique as the worlds he’s created, and he pairs them into unanticipated couplings: Gorilla Todd and Detective Robot, an investigative team that can solve the crime, even in the face of the dead falling randomly from the sky; Donald Carmichael and Max, who don’t know love until it reaches out and bites them in the ass; Lazarus Lad and his egocentric dad, who know no other life; Nelson and Jay, who just wanted to help their injured pooch; Tug and Petunia, rude and obnoxious itsies, who may even be dangerous, belonging to Tom and Pamela, who don’t know the meaning of tough love.

Want to explore strange new worlds which you’ve never encountered before? Take a trip into any one of Jeff Bowles’ stories from this collection. I give Brave New Multiverse five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


“Undercurrents”: More Than Just a Collection of Tales From the Deep

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The twenty-three stories in Undercurrents are all about the mysteries of the deep, but beyond that they are as varied as it gets. Master story telling weves tales about monsters who dwell in the ocean depths and send chills down your spine. The monsters featured range from those of legendary status to those of the fantasy realm: krackens; sea dragons in Guardian of the Sea, by Kristin Luna; sirens in The Old Man and the Sea Siren, by Steve Pantazis; fairy horses in In the Water, by Jessica Guernsey; mermonsters in All Yours, by Melissa Koons; and the underwater cat in Underwater Cats, by Mary  Pletsch – to those that are unidentified, as in Cold, Silent, and Dark, by Kary English; or spring from the recesses of the human mind, to inanimate objects as innocent as a pair of bookends in Bookend, by Chris Mandeville.

The points of view presented are varied, as well. As a reader, I was allowed to glimpse through the eyes of both hunted and hunter, getting the unusual P.O.V.s of things like a kracken in The Kraken’s Story, by Robert J. McCarter, a siren in The Siren’s Song, by Aubrey Pratt, a dragon in The Sea Dragon’s Tale, by Nancy D. DiMauro and a puffer fish in Mandala, by Jody Lynn Nye.

The stories in this collection explore more than just the waters of the deep. Sea Wind, by Kevin J. Anderson explores the idea of losing a brother to the sea. Four Billion Years of Solitude, by Alex P. Berg explores the oceans of distant planets. Eat Me, by Lauren Lang explores a revelutionary weight loss system involving antipods harvested from the sea. Songs to Sing and Stories to Tell, by L.D. Colter explores saying good-bye, and Lure, by Joy Dawn Johnson explores the connection between twins, and Sea Dreams, by Rebecca Moesta and Kevin J. Anderson explores the ties between friends. To Become, by C.J. Erick explores facing the unknown, while In the Garden of the Coral King, by C.H. Hung explores facing one’s own fears, and A Marsh Called Solitude, by Gregory D. Little explores self-sacrifice and altruism.

My personal favorites include Teens Teach Tech, by Terry Madden, where a teen tries to help an old woman face her fears of the past; Heroes of the Russian Federation, by Chris Barili, where an experimental bio-weapon escapes and goes out of control; and High Seas Burning, by Lee French, where the real monsters are of the human variety.

Best of all, all proceeds from this anthology go to the Don Hodge Memorial Scholarship to help students without the financial means  to attend the Superstar Writing Seminar,  a seminaar that addresses the business end of writing. The Superstars have been putting together anthologies, along with seminar attendees since 2015. Undercurrents is the fourth anthology to result from the Superstar Writing Seminar. In more ways than one, the Superstar Writing Seminar is quite special and the recipient of a scholarship is fortunate indeed.

News of this seminar was exciting to me because so many writing courses or workshops focus on the craft of writing and ignore the fact that there are some business skills required in order to be a successful writer. I’ve heard many authors gripe about not realizing they had to have marketing skills as well as writing skills, or complaining about the time they must put into marketing that could be used to write instead. The line-up of Superstars who offer their expertise include Kevin J. Anderson, David Farland, Eric Flint, Rebecca Moesta, James A. Owen and Brandon Sanderson. Each year they have additional guest instructors, chosen from the creme de la creme of the publishing industry. They all share their knowledge and expertise during the annual seminar, which is held in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Well-crafted stories fill this anthology exploring the ocean depths and the depths of the human mind in Undercurrents, an anthology created by master story tellers. I give it four quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs at no charge. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


“Doctrine of Indecency”: A Good Variety of Stories

Doctrine of Desire

The trick to writing erotica is being able to write a fully developed story line and add just the right amount of erotic imagry to create a story which both entertains and arouses readers at same time. There is an almost poetic art to it, a delicate balance. A balance few of the stories found in Doctrine of Indecency: 18 Coveted Tales of Lust, edited by Virginia Lee Johnson and Kat Mizera, manage to achieve. Most of the stories, while not of the exceptional variety, were not bad stories and some were quite entertaining.

I must give kudos for the variety of the stories contained within this erotic anthology. There seems to be something for everyone. Some stories stretch genre boundaries, including tales of erotic horror, such as A Cabin… Somewhere, by Kyle Perkins; the paranormal erotica of Wings of Change, by Cee Cee Houston; the anti-hero erotica of Revenge, by Virginia Lee Johnson; the speculative erotica of The Succubus’s Sin, by Taylor Rose; and the science-fiction erotica of Suicide Mission, by Lila Vale; or Lunar Gets Some Loving: A Purian Empire Short, by Crystal Dawn.  There are also those that are geared more toward the traditional erotic story lines which explore various sexual preferences such as the three-way fun of Apple Bite, by A.R. Von; or Welcome to the Dark Side, by Erin Trejo; the military erotica of Deployment – Dalliance, by E.J. Christopher; the grocery store erotica of Fruit, Veg. & Starfish, by T.L. Wainwright; the swingers erotica of 3, by Eden Rose; the S & M erotica of House of the Rising Sun, by L.J. SeXton; the stranger erotica Delayed Ecstacy, by Tiffani Lynn; and there’s even a tale of social media erotica in Yearning for Desire, by Amanda O’lone.

My three favorites: Pleasure Bite, by Brianna West is well written vampire erotica and Dangerous Desire, by Samantha Harrington is hot and steamy, yet has a decent plot. I’ve been doing a lot of playing with POV, so I was especially drawn to the stories which used mutliple character POVs. While Inferno, by Kat Mizera uses multiple POVs with some skill, Pepper’s Play Pen, by Mia Sparks uses multiple POVs and is crafted with expertise.

The variety of stories included is commendable, but since none are exceptional, nor are any terrible, but of more average quality, I give Doctrine of Indecency three quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs at no charge. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.