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Shredded to release on April 1 — Enter to win a free copy — Kindle giveaway — Excerpt from Chapter 8 of Shredded
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Shredded To Release on April 1

 


Greetings, <<First Name>>!

All edits are complete and the final proofs are approved! On April 1, 2017, Shredded will go live on Amazon in print and Kindle formats. Can't wait? You can pre-order Shredded for your Kindle for automatic delivery on April 1.

If you prefer the Real Life experience of an actual, physical book, the paperback edition will also be available to order from Amazon on April 1. Or, if you'd like a personalized, signed copy of Shredded, or any of my books, you can order them here

Shredded is a departure from my first two books, The Girlfriend Experience and Moment of Conception, in genre, in style, and in how I went about writing it. The premise of Shredded comes from extrapolating trends in technology: artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and autonomous vehicles, such as cars and drones; and social trends: the transition from in-person to online interactions, and the surrender of privacy, almost without a thought. The world of Shredded is what I imagine if virtual reality becomes so compellingly real, commerce becomes so automated and convenient, and the benefits of the wholesale collection of personal data become so attractive, that we human beings have no need for Real Life, when Virtual Reality serves the same functions—and, at the same time, we humans surrender the last shreds of privacy.

My approach to this project was considerably more structured than my previous two books, with a complete outline, revised many times, prior to writing even the first word of the first chapter. It was a great advantage to know where I was going before I started, my many side trips and detours notwithstanding.

One thing about my process has not changed—my reliance on a vast array of support, encouragement, and criticism. I could include all my acknowledgments here, but I wouldn't want to spoil it for you. Doesn't everyone buy books for the acknowledgments? Instead, I'll just mention a few.

Like Mike Brooks and Richard LeVitt, who read and critiqued my outline. I gave them a half-baked concept and they baked it. Mike was also one of my key alpha readers, as was my sister, Jacki, who read through the raw first draft and provided the honest criticism I needed. My fellow writers of the Columbus State Community College Greet, Eat, Meet & Critique group (GEM-C) gave me their notes on the work in progress. My editor, Kelsey Radigan, made many corrections and suggestions, always in a positive, encouraging manner. Her insight into the character of Grace was especially helpful. Jun Ares, my cover designer, who also did the cover for The Girlfriend Experience, nailed it on the first try. The design is perfect.

And, of course, unbounded gratitude to Helen, who is the first to see every word, and whose input I value most.

Happy Reading!
Charles
March 2017

Enter To Win a Free Signed Copy of Shredded!


I'm giving away 15 copies of Shredded to my U.S. readers in a Goodreads Giveaway! I'll sign and personalize each copy for the winners. If you haven't already joined Goodreads, you're missing out! Goodreads is where readers and authors come together to share their love of books. Goodreads members can click the Enter Giveaway button below for a chance to win. If you're not a member, join up! Then enter the giveaway!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Shredded by Charles O'Donnell

Shredded

by Charles O'Donnell

Giveaway ends April 09, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Free Books!


To promote the release of Shredded, I'll be offering free Kindle copies of my first two books, The Girlfriend Experience and Moment of Conception, from March 28 through April 1. If you haven't already read them, this is your chance to download the Kindle version for free! Enjoy, and be sure to tell your friends!

Excerpt from Shredded, Chapter 8, "Circles of Hell"


By ten a.m. Grace had settled into her routine, serving one applicant after another, bringing their petitions to State Live Services, State Benefits Department, hoping their requests would be granted.

“Citizen, your entitlement is fixed,” Grace said to the man, unusually young compared to her usual clients, older than Grace, but not by much. His clothes were clean but well-worn, as if he’d scavenged the reuse receptacles at multiple corporate reclamation sites, finding the most serviceable articles, vaguely resembling what a job-seeker might wear for a final, decisive IRL interview. Grace wondered how many different data trails converged in this one man, each trail retained by a piece of used clothing, the braid of previously unrelated strands now a single path in the Worldstream.

“One thousand credits a week? That’s not a living wage.”

“I’m obligated to remind you, citizen, that your entitlement is not a wage. It’s your guaranteed minimum income.” Grace’s desk screen flashed a detailed dossier of the man, retrieved within seconds of the man’s first words, the voice response system having recognized his voice and recovered his identity. Grace perused the man’s record. He’d received a weekly transfer since reaching the age of legal entitlement, almost twenty years before.

“This is the same distribution you’ve received since you were sixteen, with adjustments. You’ve never applied for an increase before. Has your situation changed?”

“No,” the man said, barely whispering, “not exactly.”

“I’m sorry. What was your answer?”

“Nothing has changed. I’m still a writer. I still create with language. I still don’t have the skills to render a 360-degree VR venue, or to stimulate a response in the human brain through a neural interface. Those are highly technical skills that I don’t possess. I have other skills. I write. I have no immersive sensory apparatus, no tactile feedback, no galvanic interface to the limbic system to work with. Just words, and my reader’s mind. My words have to penetrate a lot of layers in the reader’s psyche to make an impact. What VR programmers do is too hard for me.” The man looked Grace in the eye. His voice gained a hard edge. “What I do, touching the reader’s mind with words, is infinitely harder.”

The man’s eyes turned tired and moist. He suddenly seemed ten years older.

“Citizen,” Grace said, “I’ll ask you again, has your situation changed?”

“I create content for VR advertising. Nothing more than outlines, really, not even screenplays—just storyboards in words. There’s no premium for creativity, and there’s a penalty for subtlety. The VR programmers take it from there. They get the accolades—and the money.” The man shifted in his chair and looked away. “I don’t want to do it anymore. It’s not writing. I want to write.”

“Have you been discharged from your position? If you have, you could be eligible for an unemployment benefit.”

“No, I’m still employed.”

“Citizen, if your situation hasn’t changed in any material way, we can’t alter your stipend.”

“I need to create. I need to write. I don’t program, I’ve never even wanted to program.” He leaned forward. “Do you use VR? Do you like it?”

“I have,” Grace said. “There are some VR venues that I like.”

“I hate it. Plugging my mind into a machine that controls my senses, putting pictures in my eyes, sound in my ears and feelings in my fingers. Making myself a receiver for whatever the VR machine jacks into me, a human peripheral, no more active than a wall screen. But with language.” The man paused, smiling for the first time. “With language, the reader is a participant, my partner in creation. Do you read?”

“A little. Poetry, mostly.”

“I’ve been reading since I was four. While my friends were strapped into their VR gear, I was reading. While they bungee jumped off of virtual bridges, I walked the streets of Victorian London. While they rode rafts down whitewater rivers, I hunted whales in the Pacific. While they drove race cars on oval tracks, I traversed the circles of hell. Their epinephrine surge lasted a minute; literature changed my life. Who’s better off?” The man covered his mouth with his hand, speaking through his fingers. “I have to leave my job so that I can write. And I can’t live on a thousand credits a week.”

Grace turned back to her screen and studied the man’s case file. “Your mother is still living, is that right?”

“Yes.”

“She’s on a pension. Do you provide any support for her?”

He shook his head.

“You’re eligible for a supplemental support stipend on your mother’s behalf. Three-hundred-eighty credits per week, payable to you.” Grace lowered her voice and spoke with exaggerated slowness. “This is provided on the condition that these credits are applied to your mother’s welfare. It’s the best I can do.”

The man nodded with resignation. “Thanks,” he said as he left Grace’s station. Grace watched him leave, wondering what he could have meant by traversed the circles of hell.
 
From Shredded, Copyright © 2017 by Charles O'Donnell, All Rights Reserved
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