True Blue

My very first short story comes out today on Kindle. Writing it changed my life, and I hope that reading it changes yours.

True Blue is a parable about persecution and self-discovery set in a world where the color of your eyes might just get you killed. In this parallel universe, everybody knows that people with blue eyes are lazy, violent, and stupid. Blues are absent from the halls of power, the few celebrated exceptions proving the rule. Crime dramas feature blue homicidal maniacs. Parents protect their children from the corrupting influence of blue peers. Blue travelers take secondary screening at every airport for granted. Born a blue, Kamran Tir has survived by living a lie. But his secret is about to come out.

Get your copy right now. It's a short story, so you'll be able to read it in 20 minutes or so. Even if you don't have a Kindle, you can read it on any device via the free Kindle app. I'm looking forward to hearing your impressions.

Now, for some backstory on True Blue. A few months ago, I received an email from my friend David Cohen, "I've had an idea for a book for a while. Given what's going on in America, I thought I'd send it to you because I sure as hell am never going to write it." David went on to present a thought experiment: what if discrimination targeted eye color instead of skin color or any other trait?

I'll let you in on a little secret. If you start writing books, your friends will start sending you ideas. Strangers too. You'll get very good at letting people down easy. After all, you have your own dreams to bring to life.

But David's premise stuck with me, lurking in the shadows of my subconscious and rearing its head at opportunity moments. It would visit me as I took the dog on a walk or did the dishes. It made me think of my opa whose entire family was murdered by the Nazis and my oma who risked her life every day to fight in the Dutch Resistance. Every time the idea resurfaced, it took on weight and texture, building up creative momentum until I had no choice but to write it.

Speculative fiction has a secret superpower. Imaginative stories invite us to experience plausible realities unlike our own. In doing so, they empower us to confront the myriad hidden assumptions we take for granted in our day-to-day lives. We cannot explore new worlds and return unchanged.

True Blue is a story about the absurdity of discrimination, the importance of being true to yourself, and our irrepressible capacity for overcoming injustice. It's a story about standing up instead of standing by. It's a story about finding the courage to stop caring what other people think.

These are truths we need to keep in mind now more than ever. Oh, and next time someone sends me an idea, I promise to pay attention.

I may have written True Blue, but only you can give it wings. Stories live and die by word-of-mouth. Any success my books have achieved is thanks to you. Here are three things you can do right now to help:

  1. Buy a copy today. Early sales make an outsized impact on a story's success. They catapult it up the Amazon rankings, contribute to it getting featured as a hot new release, and attract attention from press and booksellers. This matters. A lot.
  2. Leave a review. Early positive reviews give stories a critical boost in Amazon's algorithms (Goodreads too!), exposing it to new readers who depend on your good judgement. It only takes a few minutes and makes a huge difference. Oh, and I read every single review so I can't wait to see what you have to say.
  3. Share it with your friends. We discover our next favorite story thanks to someone we trust recommending it to us. I can't emphasize enough how important this is. Whisper about it in the shadows and shout about it from the rooftops. If you have an audience of your own, I'm happy to answer any questions and send you a press kit. If you're short on time, here's a copy/paste-worthy example for social media: "This is worth your time. A mind-bending short story about social justice and standing up instead of standing by. http://amzn.to/2sR3Cv8"

A thousand thanks, you're the best readers any writer could hope for. Your grassroots support has helped my books hit #1 in their categories, raise thousands of dollars for charity, and earn praise from major publications like Businessweek, Popular Science, io9, TechCrunch, Ars Technica and the Verge. I hope you enjoy True Blue and I can't wait to hear what you think.

Local TV interview about the power of science fiction

I was interviewed on local TV in Boulder about my books, the power of science fiction, and the social impacts of technology. It's cheesy in the best possible way: Anchorman + '80s scifi. It was particularly fun because the Uncommon Series is set in Boulder, so we were on Mara and James' stomping grounds.

You can watch the full interview right here:

https://vimeo.com/219556073#t=322s