I’m thinking about putting together an anthology of short stories by my favorite indie authors – it would be given away for free, probably on sites like Smashwords and Feedbooks, and would include links to the authors’ sites or wherever they’d like to direct people to find more of their writing (whether free or not). If you’re an indie author whose stories have been reviewed here (and therefore through my review blog) you are automatically eligible and I will likely be contacting you (unless you want to pre-emptively contact me firstby email at email@example.com) to see if there’s a particular story you’d like included. I have my own ideas about that as well. Other readers of the blog are welcome to send a short story as well, if interested, and I’ll be glad to consider them all for inclusion. I don’t have a deadline in mind for this, but that will come along at some point. For now, it’s just a notion. Thanking you in advance ..
Anyone who disapproves of free e-books can happily ignore this post.
Most of the websites offering free e-books suffer from the general haystack problem. Most of the needles are rather prickly (in the erotica sense) featuring all sorts of billionaires and spankings and so forth. Some of the sites I like, such as Feedbooks, are dominated by porn to such an extent that most “literary” types have given up on using them. Smashwords still suffers from discoverability problems, as do free-ebooks.net and Obooko which have all sorts of stuff if you can figure out how to wade through them.
I like Bibliotastic because it’s “curated” (I know, a tacky geek word, but how else to put it?). They don’t just publish anything that’s thrown at them, but make an attempt to preview and review and filter the books they wish to be associated with. It’s a small-business operation, worthy of support, and I’m flattered to have some of my books included in their selection. You can also find books their by some of my favorite indie authors, such as Paul Samael and Opposite Books
From Paul’s comment below: “For anyone interested in knowing a bit more about Bibliotastic, here’s an interview with one of its founders, James Crawshaw
I had been using Lulu to make paperback copies on my fictions, one by one, but they’re so small I was never really happy with the results. At least I had something I could give to techno-phobic friends and family, but I had the idea that my fictions would be better served if published as collections, so I’ve lately been using CreateSpace to do that. Obviously these works are not destined for a bookstore near you, bookstores being collectively against CreateSpace on the principle of not helping Amazon destroy them all even more utterly than it’s already doing, but the product is nice and I’ve been happy with the process. It also makes it easier to bundle with Kindle, and you can easily offer the ebook for free now with Amazon’s new Book Match program.
The latest offering is Unwritten Rules and Robots, and includes three short science fiction novellas, each of which is rather entertaining in its own way:
It’s the end of the world as we know it, when the dreaded Singularity finally occurs and happens to be captured, live on tape, by agents of the Frantic News Network, which freaks out, as usual, and causes a lot of trouble for the mild-mannered nanobot exterminator who happens to get caught in the crossfire
Unwritten Rules of Impossible Things:
What if someone – or something – stole one of your days? Just one, and you didn’t know why, or what they had done with your life in that time? Young Philip Galvez and his friend Marcus Holmes found out for themselves when they decided to discover why there was a giant stuffed moose in a house down the road.
The New Guy in Moon Base Twelve:
They weren’t exactly the crew the President had in mind when he announced his plan to build a permanent base on the moon so the Chinese wouldn’t do it first, but there they were, a boring collection of peaceful, happy settlers who couldn’t even get a decent reality TV show rating. Life was perfectly dull until the new guy arrived. Now if they could only find out who he was and where he’d come from.
Other CreateSpace collections include these:
Dragon City: Enter the world of Snapdragon Alley, where every so often very strange things happen in a far corner of the city of Spring Hill Lake. Beginning as children, Alex and Argus Kirkham and their friend Sapphire Karadjian encounter the whatever-it-is and find themselves repeatedly drawn into its orbit. Is it a sentient wormhole to another dimension? Is it a creature of vast and unusual appetites? Is it even a thing or a place at all, and will anyone ever unravel its essence?
Four episodes in the lives of these three people over a period of fifty years explore the mysterious worlds of Dragon City in four short novels, including Snapdragon Alley, Freak City, Dragon Town and Happy Slumbers.
Rays and Nights: Three short novels sharing characters and locales in widely different genres.’ Zombie Nights’ is an existential resurrection thriller. ‘Death Ray Butterfly’ is manic comic sci-fi detective fiction. ‘Raisinheart’ consists of three coming-of age stories.
Epic Fail: The anti-hero, anti-fantasy anti-quest adventure!
Accidental ordinary everyday immortals, shut away in an infinite forest prison maze, must find a way to fulfill their mission: to find some unknown thing, take it somewhere, and do something with it. Failure might be the only option, and the only way out could turn out to be no way out.
This book contains the first three books in the Epic Fail series: Entropic Quest, Prisoners of Perfection, and The End of the Line
The Secret Trilogy: The three short novels comprising The Secret Trilogy share characters, plots and locales across different genres: a mystery (Squatter with a Lexus) , an urban fantasy (Secret Sidewalk), and a ghost story (Hidden Highway). A secret thread runs through the set, defying the reader to sniff it out. In the end, who can run away from that which never pursues?
The Man Who Could Not Forget is a short story, free from Smashwords. It is about, well, the title tells you that much. The main character is unable to forget anything in his life, from the smallest detail to the most subtle emotion, and has to regulate his life so as not to fill up his brain prematurely. The ramifications of this “ability” are beautifully played out, and not without interesting and unexpected twists and turns. A perfectly crafted story, highly recommended.
From Sept 25 through Oct 25, you can sign up for the Goodreads Giveaway of the paperback edition of Epic Fail, consisting of Entropic Quest, Prisoners of Perfection and The End of the Line. The paperback is pretty nice, I think, from CreateSpace, and includes a free ebook edition on purchase from Amazon, using the Kindle Book Match program (which is not the same as lighting a match to a piece of kindling …). Rowed by an old fogey (myself) and steered by a child (my son), this series is (dare I say it) rather original and full of unexpected twists and turns. It’s an anti-hero, anti-fantasy, anti-quest adventure, which is, as one reviewer said, a “very strange story and very enjoyable.”
I’ve done the same with Dragon City (Snapdragon Alley, Freak City, Dragon Town and Happy Slumbers), Rays and Nights, (Death Ray Butterfly, Raisinheart and Zombie Nights) The Secret Trilogy (Squatter with a Lexus, Secret Sidewalk, and Hidden Highway) and The Atheist Shopping Network Presents …. (Orange Car with Stripes, Missy Tonight) Given the size of my books (small) it makes a lot of sense to publish them in paperback in batches.
Booktrakr is a web app/service for self-publishers that aggregates and delivers all your sales, reviews and rankings info from a variety of platforms, including Kindle, Smashwords, iTunes and PubIt. It’s not perfect, but it’s only in beta right now so you’ll want to make allowances for that. It sure beats trying to go and collect all this stuff yourself, especially if you have multiple titles available through multiple channels. Note that Smashwords’ channels don’t report on the daily emails because they don’t report to Smashwords daily, either.
Some amusing things I found so far is in the Amazon rankings of some of my titles. I have no idea how they come up with categories for this stuff. For example:
|Missy Tonight||1||Kindle US Free > … > Agnosticism|
|Orange Car With Stripes||2||Kindle US Free > … > Cults & Demonism|
|Snapdragon Alley||26||Kindle US Free > … > Scary Stories|
|Snapdragon Alley||5||Kindle FR Free > … > Spine-Chilling Horror|
|Snapdragon Alley||12||Kindle ES Free > … > Terror y fantasmas|
|Tiddlywink the Mouse||2||Kindle US Free > … > Mice, Hamsters, Guinea Pigs & Squirrels|
|World Weary Avengers||23||Kindle US Free > … > General & Reference|
|Zombie Nights||25||Kindle US Free > … > Metaphysical & Visionary|
World Weary Avengers in General & Reference? Why? Does it sound like “Wikipedia”, because it begins with a W and contains many syllables? It’s a silly sci-fi story!
The Third Person (a free ebook from the (very interesting) Philistine Press, available also from Smashwords and Feedbooks) is the story of a very unpleasant 14-year-old girl who despises her mother, is terribly jealous of her little sister and perpetually longs for the father who abandoned them, this novel is surprisingly engaging, mainly because of the way the author so well captures this person and her point of view, clearly illustrating the partiality through which we all view our little worlds. At every step we know that what she’s seeing is not the whole picture, that her prejudices are masking the reality she’s moving through, the one she doesn’t want to see or admit to. You feel for her, and somehow even root for her too, even when she’s being very bad. Written in diary format, I gott such a strong sense of the narrator and see the other characters through her distorted lens that I couldn’t help but want to see the same story from the point of view of the others, especially her sister’s. Rather than a weakness of the first-person point of view, however, this was a great strength in the novel.
Here’s an interesting interview with the author:
Developmental Inertia is one name scientists have given to the extraordinary case of the people who barely age - including an 8 year old girl who is still an infant, a 29 year old man whose body is still 10, and a 30 year old woman in the body of a 2 year old. This is perhaps the most remarkable mutation I have ever heard of.
“In some people, something happens to them and the development process is retarded,” medical researcher Richard F. Walker told ABC News. “The rate of change in the body slows and is negligible.”
The idea of immortality of one kind or another, of arresting physical and mental development at some point, is not new, but I had never heard of the reality of it. It leads to all sorts of questions (such as, if you could choose the age when you would stop developing, what age would you choose?)
When my son and I wrote a SF/fantasy book about a similar topic (Entropic Quest) we considered various angles of this kind of situation, little knowing it could actually happen! Earlier this year we continued the story with a sequel (Prisoners of Perfection) in which some of the previously immortal characters broke out of that condition, only to find themselves in peril of uncertain and drastic changes. AIn’t it the truth that whenever you put some sort of genie in a bottle, the danged thing has a way of getting out again (actual genies may be replaced by secrets, or even popular revolutions, in some cases!).
We have now begun the third and final book in this Epic Fail Trilogy – working title “The End of the Line” – in which the problems of stasis and rapid change both come into play in a new a different take on the topics. This news story sheds a different light on it, one we’ve already incorporated into the tale. Hint: it involves a certain high-tech company known as World Weary Avengers
Jim Maher has been one of my favorite “indie” writers for some time now, and I’ve recommended his books several times so it was with great interest that I clicked on a link in a tweet about a new story he’d posted called “Lyric”. I was glad I did because he’s since removed the title from Amazon while a publisher considers it, as happened with his excellent Hemingway Man. When it becomes available again I’ll provide a link.
Lyric is a dystopia, certainly, but one that’s drawn with such a broad brush that you can’t start nit-picking about this or that aspect of its world-building. Basically, there’s a girl who doesn’t want to practice her violin. Next thing you know the world is enveloped in some sort of blackness all the way up to 100 meters. Above that level, survivors eek out a meager existence. Lyric Bell, the young musician, finds her own voice in a series of exciting and unexpected adventures in this chaotic situation, As always, Jim’s characters are drawn with compassion and humor. His young heroines – here as in his wonderful Seamus and Tessa – are charismaric and shine in his stories.
I only wish I could wave a magic wand and spread the word about these books to more than the tiny ripple I am able to reach. I hate it that these books don’t have more than a few reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and elsewhere. Jim has such a sweet style and his stories are so engaging and fun that I know that with exposure he’d find great popularity.