Tag Archives: review

Virginia Woolf

The Wreckage of Men

“It is the nature of the artist to mind excessively what is said about him. Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.”

Virginia Woolf


Sorry for the lack of updates. I’ve been quite busy deep in the manuscript mines these past weeks. That said, I have seen progress (yay!), and the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is shining brighter. I’ll have more to share soon.

Reading Recommendation: Join by Steve Toutonghi

Join by Steve Toutonghi

“Join is a searing, ballistic plunge into the mysteries of identity and mortality. Its ingenious core is revealed and amplified by high voltage suspense and murder. Delicious.”

Katherine Dunn, Geek Love

If that quote doesn’t make you want to read this book, you’re probably dead. I’m happy to say that today is the launch of Join by author Steve Toutonghi. Now before I continue, full disclosure: Steve is a friend of mine, a former co-worker (and boss), and I was lucky enough to be an early a beta reader of the manuscript that became Join.

Join is good, it’s real good, and you should buy and read it. As I mentioned in my review on Goodreads, Join reminds me of the work of Philip K. Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, or, more recently, Jeff VanderMeer. A strange and cerebral tale that is both intimate and engaging. The story is set on a familiar near-future Earth that has been ravaged by extreme weather events. In this setting, we find ourselves confronted with the technology of Join: the merging of individual’s consciousnesses (and bodies) into a single person with the memories comprised of each former individual. The Join technology is the crux of the story, the partial cause of tragic events on a personal and, ultimately, global scale. Throughout the novel, Steve takes us on a journey into the ramifications of Join, masterfully weaving beautiful prose with his dark humor, while examining ideas of individualism, mortality, gender, and consciousness.

A great novel doesn’t have to provide answers, often all it needs to do to achieve greatness is asks the right questions. The thing I like—and this is something a lot of authors can glean from this book—is Steve’s use of restraint. This was something that was present even in early drafts. Steve goes just far enough, poking and prodding at ideas and asking difficult questions. Ultimately this tactic challenges us the reader to provide the final answers. As a result, the story left me dwelling on Join’s themes long after it had ended.

Join a beautiful first book, and one I am happy and excited to recommend. It arrives today from Soho Press, and you can purchase it pretty much everywhere: Amazon, Barnes & NobleIndieBound, and more. I’m sure you local library or independent bookstore can get it as well. Make sure to follow Steve on Twitter and check out his website at stevetoutonghi.com. When you’ve finished, make sure to leave a review on Goodreads.

Hemingway Editor

Review: Hemingway Editor

Recently I became aware of 38Long’s Hemingway Editor. Over the weekend I had a little time and I figured I’d download it and give it a try. I was really pleased with the result. Taking it’s name from Hemingway himself the software goal is broad: it works to make your writing bolder and clearer.

How does the Hemingway Editor do this? Well, it scans your text and hunts for wordy sentences, annoying adverbs, the use of passive voice, and complicated words. Here’s a screenshot the Hemingway Editor in action, scanning a passage from my upcoming novel Red Litten World. (Don’t worry, I picked one that is spoiler free.)

Hemingway Editor

Ooof, there’s an unnecessary “very” in there there, and some harder sentences towards the end. Wow… look at that awkward lead sentence, how’d that get in there? (Fret not, I’ve already trimmed it down.)

As you can see it’s a thorough and useful piece of software. There’s a few minor bugs with the way tooltips hover, but nothing that makes the software unusable by any means. While not a replacement for a real human editor, it’s a good sanity check for writers, and for the low price of $6.99 for the PC/Mac desktop version it’s worth every penny. The Hemingway Editor also has a free version online, you can check it out at: hemingwayapp.com. Try it yourself, see if it’s something that you’d incorporate into your own workflow. I know it’ll have a place in mine.