Friday Bargains and Freebies

I’ve been posting a lot of writer news lately, but this is also a blog for readers. I love to read and I have an eReader packed with all kinds of good stuff from both traditionally published and independent authors.

The reason I usually post Kindle freebies is because I have a Kindle and the Kindle app is available for all kinds of devices. I don’t want people to think I’m Amazon biased and I do look for other eReader resources. Part of the problem is that Amazon is nicely set up for bargains and freebies. They’ve made it part of their business model. Barnes & Noble, not so much. It’s hard to find the cheap thrills on their website. Apple has gotten a lot better in that regard, but it’s hard to include those links since iTunes isn’t web-friendly.

So, eBook retailers, if you’re out there, please note: free and bargain books have made me purchase more books than I ordinarily would have. They have pointed me at authors I might not have noticed. If I like a book, chances are I will buy that author’s next book. If I really, really want a book, I will probably buy it at full price.

Today, I have two websites to share for readers and writers, but particularly readers.

The first is Indies Unlimited. This is a website for readers and writers of independently published books. Every Thursday, they host Thrifty Thursday. In the comments section of that day’s post, independent authors can add links to their books costing $0.99 or less. Every Friday is Freebie Friday. In the comments section of that day’s post, independent authors can add links to their free-for-now books.

The links for this site are below. The links for Thrifty Thursday and Freebie Friday are only good for those dates, i.e., 3/14/13 and 3/15/13. You must visit the main site each week and click on the new posts for that week.

The second is BookBub. This is a free service that sends daily emails containing lists of free and bargain eBooks. You can choose which genres you want to receive and you can also choose the format, including Kindle, Apple, Kobo, B&N, Sony, etc. If you don’t want to receive an email, you can also find book deals on their website. I’ll have to say that while I don’t like retail email, I do look forward to my daily BookBub message. The links are below.

To receive information and deals throughout the day, you can like Indies Unlimited and BookBub on Facebook and follow Indies Unlimited and BookBub on Twitter.

Hunger Games Trilogy Bargain

Looking for a good weekend read, or re-read? The Hunger Games trilogy is available in the Amazon Kindle Store for only $5.00. Yes, that’s $5.00 for all three books. Remember, if you don’t have a Kindle, the app is available for computers, tablets and smartphones.

This dealio probably won’t last long, so grab it now!

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
The extraordinary, ground breaking New York Times bestsellers The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, along with the third book in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay, are available for the first time ever in e-book. Stunning, gripping, and powerful. The trilogy is now complete!

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I found this book via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

This bargain book is a limited time offer and there is no guarantee it will still be a bargain when you click on the link. Grab it sooner rather than later.

Punk Subgenres

The “sub” stands for “subversive” in the case of the punk subgenres. These are the rebels of literature, for readers who like their fiction full of street smarts and grit. Though the settings are often futuristic or fantastical, readers want a strong dose of seamy realism.

There are a fair number of punk subgenres. I’ll be concentrating on the two most popular: cyberpunk and steampunk.

Cyberpunk

Cyberpunk takes place in the near future, usually in a high-tech dystopian society, with hackers as the protagonists. Multinational corporations are the villains and have often taken over the government, either openly or behind the scenes. Cyberspace, though still virtual, is portrayed as physical and visceral. Hackers enter cyberspace through their consciousness and encounter real dangers that can harm and even kill their physical bodies. Cyberpunk first came into popularity in the 1980s and was fueled by the visionary science fiction film, “Blade Runner.” “Neuromancer” by William Gibson, published in 1984, set the tone for the genre with a tale of futuristic Tokyo, illegal substances, and corporate sabotage via cyberspace. Other popular authors include Bruce Sterling, Neal Stephenson and Peter F. Hamilton.

Steampunk

The word “steampunk” describes both a speculative fiction subgenre and the subculture it inspired. In literature, steampunk envisions an alternate history of the nineteenth century where the world is powered by steam, moved by gears and traveled by zeppelin. Steampunk influences include 19th century speculative fiction writers Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. To quote Steampunk Magazine:

Steampunk as a genre is descended from Cyberpunk, which questioned the scientific optimism prevalent in mainstream science fiction and instead offered a gritty, grimly realistic world in which corporations ruled the earth, empowered in many ways by the development of communications technology. Cyberpunk protagonists were hackers and subcultural street fighters who navigated endless metropolises and uncovered corporate conspiracies. Steampunk authors realized the same sorts of values could be used to re-imagine the Victorian era, with the empire serving a similar role as corporations. Steampunk has of course developed since its creation in the 1980s, and has, since roughly 2006-07, become an art and craft movement as well as a subculture with its own fashion and music.

Cyberpunk and steampunk crossover in William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s novel, “The Difference Engine.” This book imagines an alternate history where Charles Babbage is successful in his invention of the Analytical Engine, thus spawning the computer and information age in the mid-nineteenth century.

Popular steampunk authors include Phil and Kaja Foglio, Gail Carriger and Cherie Priest.

Other Punks

Splatterpunk is a horror subgenre that reached its main popularity in the 1990s. Not for the faint at heart, it ratcheted up the gore and mayhem to 11.

Elfpunk could be called an urban fantasy subgenre. Usually in a gritty, contemporary urban setting, the stories involve elves and other denizens of Faerie. Vampires, werewolves and Olympic deities need not apply.

Mythpunk is mythic fiction, i.e. fairy tales, folklore and mythology, given a postmodern edge. Boundaries are not just crossed but broken as social issues are examined. Experimental writing styles are welcome.

A more complete list can be found in Wikipedia article, Cyberpunk Derivatives.

Below are a couple of classic novels and a few free-for-now steampunk novellas and short stories to give you a taste for the genre.

Around the World in 80 Days  Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
One ill-fated evening at the Reform Club, Phileas Fogg rashly bets his companions that he can travel around the entire globe in just eighty days — and he is determined not to lose. Breaking the well-established routine of his daily life, the reserved Englishman immediately sets off for Dover, accompaned by his hot-blooded manservant Passepartout. Traveling by train, steamship, sailboat, sledge, and even elephant, they must overcome storms, kidnappings, natural disasters, Sioux attacks, and the dogged Inspector Fix of Scotland Yard — who believes that Fogg has robbed the Bank of England — to win the extraordinary wager. Around the World in 80 Days gripped audiences on its publication and remains hugely popular, combining exploration, adventure, and a thrilling race against time.

The Time Machine  The Time Machine H. G. Wells
The novel is considered one of the earliest works of science fiction and the progenitor of the “time travel” subgenre. Wells advanced his social and political ideas in this narrative of a nameless Time Traveller who is hurtled into the year 802,701 by his elaborate ivory, crystal, and brass contraption. The world he finds is peopled by two races: the decadent Eloi, fluttery and useless, are dependent for food, clothing, and shelter on the simian subterranean Morlocks, who prey on them. The two races–whose names are borrowed from the Biblical Eli and Moloch–symbolize Wells’s vision of the eventual result of unchecked capitalism: a neurasthenic upper class that would eventually be devoured by a proletariat driven to the depths.

  Dreams of Steam by Kimberly Richardson
Travel back to a time when steam powered inventions ruled the land, water, and sky. It’s a time of extraordinary contraptions and innovative ideas created by men and women who dared to ask the question, “What if?” Peer through the glazed window into a world long gone, but not forgotten. Make a cup of tea, find a comfortable chair, strap on your goggles, and be amazed at the power of steam!

  Clockwork Fagin (Free Preview of a story from Steampunk!) by Cory Doctorow
Imagine an alternate universe where tinkerers and dreamers craft and re-craft a world of automatons, clockworks, calculating machines, and other marvels that never were. Where scientists and schoolgirls, fair folk and Romans, intergalactic bandits, utopian revolutionaries, and intrepid orphans solve crimes, escape from monstrous predicaments, consult oracles, and hover over volcanoes in steam-powered airships. In Steampunk!, fourteen masters of speculative fiction, including two graphic storytellers, embrace the genre’s established themes and refashion them in surprising ways and settings as diverse as Appalachia, Ancient Rome, future Australia, and alternate California. Get a preview of the anthology by sampling one of these inventive tales for free Cory Doctorow’s (Clockwork Fagin,) in which orphans use the puppet of a dead man to take control of their lives.

Flash Gold (a steampunk novella set in the Yukon) (The Flash Gold Chronicles)  Flash Gold by Lindsay Buroker
Eighteen-year-old Kali McAlister enters her steam-powered “dogless sled” in a race, intending to win the thousand-dollar prize and escape remote Moose Hollow forever. The problem? Fortune seekers and airship pirates are after her for the secret to flash gold, her late father’s alchemical masterpiece. With her modified rifle and a pocketful of home-made smoke bombs, Kali wouldn’t normally hide from a confrontation, but taking on a whole airship single-handedly is a daunting task. Unfortunately, the other racers won’t assist her–they’re too busy scheming ways to sabotage her unorthodox sled.

The 19 Dragons  The 19 Dragons by SM Reine
There are nineteen provinces in the Land held aloft by nineteen pillars. Above the earth there is sky, and nobody knows what goes below except the Nineteen Dragons. That is all you need to know, but that is not all there is to be known. The Device has been stolen and the godlike Dragons have been rendered mortal. Someone is murdering them one by one, and each death brings the world closer to its end. Unless the the Device is somehow restored to its deceased owner, the Dragons are doomed to destruction–and the human world will go with them.

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Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

Harper Voyager Submission Update for February

It’s been a little over a month since Harper Voyager posted their last update for digital submissions, so I thought I’d check again. There is a new update, dated February 1, 2013. It states in part:

We received slightly over 4500 entries. We have now responded to approximately 2220 entries that unfortunately were not for our list.  This leaves us with roughly entries. Of those, about 543 are to be considered further, and just under 1800 still need to be read. So we are almost halfway through.

You can read the entire update here.

So, if you haven’t heard yet, sit tight. You’re still in the running! Many thanks to Harper Voyager for being so good about keeping anxious authors updated.

If you received a rejection from Harper Voyager, or didn’t make the deadline back in October 2012, you may want to consider submitting your manuscript to Random House. The publisher recently launched three new digital imprints and is seeking unsolicited manuscripts. This is a great opportunity to be published by a major publishing house. You can find more information here.

Is your manuscript not quite ready yet? Need a little advice to help polish your prose? I found a few free-for-now writing guides that look interesting and informative. One is a humorous essay written by a New York Times bestselling author and published for free by HarperCollins.

How to Write a New York Times Bestseller in Ten Easy Steps (eBook Original)  How to Write a New York Times Bestseller in Ten Easy Steps by Jason Mulgrew
For a few “glorious” weeks, Jason Mulgrew’s first book, Everything Is Wrong with Me, appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, before dropping off and returning to the deep obscurity to which it belongs. Jason Mulgrew has not been able to shut up about it since and now believes that he is qualified to write the following primer, “How to Write a New York Times Bestseller in Ten Easy Steps.” Please accept our apologies in advance.

  Hook Me: What to Include in Your First Chapter by Rebecca Talley
Writing a book can be daunting, especially when it comes to writing the first chapter. Improve your writing skills and learn to write the best first chapter possible with these writing tips. A checklist and a first chapter analysis are included in this easy-to-understand, concise guide on writing fiction.

Writer's Block: Vanquished! Using Images, Oracles and Brain-Hacks (Practical Writer)  Writer’s Block: Vanquished! by Nancy Hendrickson
Most writers experience a block at one time or another. It may manifest as procrastination,lack of inspiration or any number of personal issues. The good news is, there are easy solutions to get you writing again, including the use of Images; Oracles; Brain-Hacks. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, are a budding novelist or a freelance magazine writer, you’re guaranteed to find at least one technique to vanquish writer’s block forever!

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Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

Mythic Fiction

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Moving on to one of my favorite subgenres, mythic fiction. This type of fiction retells or uses elements from fairy tales, folklore and mythology. Since all the cultures of the world have their own unique folklore, there is plenty of material to draw from.

Mythic fiction crosses over with many other genres, including fantasy, horror, science fiction, romance, literary fiction, mystery, the list goes on. One of my favorite examples is the “Snow Queen” by Joan Vinge. This science fiction novel, set in a distant galaxy in the far future, borrows liberally from the fairy tale of the same name.

So, what is the appeal? Familiarity could be one aspect. A fairy tale such as Beauty and the Beast can be retold faithfully with a few twists, like Robin McKinley’s novel “Beauty,” recreated as a romance novel, such as Christine Feehan’s “Lair of the Lion,” or placed in a contemporary setting and told from the point of view of the Beast, like the YA novel, “Beastly” by Alex Flinn. In all these novels, we recognize the story while enjoying the variations.

Mythology is also a popular resource to borrow from. Myths of divine beings interacting with humans are among the oldest stories known. C.S. Lewis put a fresh take on the tale of Cupid and Psyche in “Till We Have Faces” by telling the story from the older sister’s point of view. Placing the Greek pantheon in modern times is a popular concept used by a number of authors, including Rick Riordan and Sherrilyn Kenyon. Kylie Chan does the same with Chinese gods in her “White Tiger” novels.

Some mythic fiction simply has the feel of a fairy tale rather than actually being derived from one. “Silver Metal Lover” by Tanith Lee tells the tale of a young woman who falls in love with an android.  The torment of loving a beautiful object incapable of affection is evocative of Pygmalion, but doesn’t retell the myth.

The undeniable appeal of mythic fiction can be seen in the popularity of recent television shows “Grimm“, “Beauty and the Beast” and “Once Upon a Time.”

Interested in knowing more? Why not go to the source? Many collections of fairy tales and myths are in the public domain and available for free. I’ve listed a few below.

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Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

High and Low Fantasy

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The high and low fantasy genres appear to be polar opposites. Appear. But is it really that cut and dry? Can there be crossovers between the two genres? First, to get a better idea of the genres, here’s a quote from Wikipedia, by way of Goodreads:

Low fantasy contrasts with the sub-genre of High fantasy. Low fantasy is characterized by being set in the real (“Primary”) world, or a rational and familiar fictional world, with the inclusion of magical elements. The opposite, high fantasy, is set in an alternative, entirely fictional (“Secondary”) world with its own, albeit internally-consistent, rules that separate it from the real world. Low fantasy can be described as non-rational events occurring in a rational setting. It is important to note that the use of the word “low” is not an indication of quality but of the relative level of “fantasy” contained within a particular work of fiction.

It should also be noted that high fantasy, also known as epic fantasy, usually concerns the fight between good and evil. Low fantasy, not so much.

Seems cut and dry. In high fantasy, you have elves, wizards, orcs and some kind of magic totem that must be salvaged or destroyed. In low fantasy, you’ve a got a real world setting, serious social issues, and encounters with the supernatural.

Then we come to George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Fire and Ice”, on which HBO’s “Game of Thrones” series is based. At very first glance, it may seem like standard high fantasy. Then, as you read the first book, you are in an alternate, yet familiar, medieval world with lots of politics, backstabbing, sex and political, backstabbing sex. Good and evil are relative terms. There are strong fantasy elements, like dragons and the reanimated dead, but they are not the driving force of the story.

This is low fantasy. Yet, as I did research for this blog post, I often found “A Song of Fire and Ice” listed as high fantasy.  On Goodreads, the books in the series are listed in both categories. I also came upon forums where the series’ genre was debated. Could it be that “A Song of Fire and Ice” is a crossover that bridges the gap between the two genres? Possibly.

Of course, most readers don’t care about such details. They just want to read a good story. However, those who love a tale of elven knights, warrior maidens and quests to save the Silver Realm may not care to read a series with complex politics and a conflicted protagonist, set in a real world only sprinkled with magic. And visa-versa. This is why genre classifications really are important.

Popular authors of high fantasy include Katherine Kerr, Robert Jordan and Patricia McKillip.

Popular authors of low fantasy include Neil Gaiman, Stephen King and Susan Cooper.

I couldn’t find any free-for-now low fantasy, but I can recommend Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and Deerskin by Robin McKinley.

The Weight of Blood  The Weight of Blood by David Dalglish
When half-bloods Harruq and Qurrah Tun pledged their lives to the death prophet Velixar, they sought only escape from their squalid beginnings. Instead, they become his greatest disciples, charged with leading his army of undead. While they prepare, Harruq trains with an elf named Aurelia, to whom he owes his life. She is a window into a better world, but as war spreads between the races their friendship takes a dire turn.

Sword Bearer (Volume 1)  Sword Bearer (Return of the Dragons) by Teddy Jacobs
Locked in his room in the castle, young Anders yearns for adventure. Until the day he opens a magic portal and a girl bursts into his locked room with a chemical warlock hot on her trail. And adventure finds him. An adventure full of danger, full of blood, fire, demons and evil. To face it, he’ll need the sword given him by his blademaster, need the ancient words his grandfather gave him on his deathbed. Need the song that runs in his own blood, in his veins. A sword will be reforged, magic words discovered, battles fought, friends made and lost, secrets revealed. And blood will be spilled.

The Book of Deacon (Volume 1)  The Book of Deacon by Joseph Lallo
Myranda is a young woman more interested in staying alive than being a hero. Orphaned by a continent-spanning war that has gone on for decades too long and shunned for failing to support it, she has been on the move since she was only a child. One can hardly blame her when she thinks that the chance discovery of a fallen soldier’s priceless cargo is the moment that will change her life. No one could predict just how great that change would be. It will lead her through an adventure of rebels and generals, of wizards and warriors, and of beasts both noble and monstrous. Each step of the way will take her closer to the truth of her potential, of the war, and of the fate of her world.

The Flame Weaver  The Flame Weaver by Tania Elicker
On the far side of the mountains, where the light still shines, people muddle through their everyday lives oblivious to the approaching doom. But as the darkness grows nearer, a young man named Kazen is awakened to a secret past. With the help of his uncle, a powerful wizard, Kazen discovers a magic within him he never knew he had. A rare conjurer of fire, Kazen learns he may be the only one able to turn back the tide of darkness. But time is running out, for once the living shadow passes over the mountains, its evil will be unstoppable.

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

Paranormal Romance

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After my previous post about contemporary and urban fantasy, I thought I should do a follow-up on paranormal romance because the genres have much in common. Paranormal romance novels are often written using a contemporary and/or urban setting. Many of the same fantasy elements (magic, witchcraft, telepathy) and beings (vampires, werewolves, fae) are used.

It’s important to note that a paranormal romance is first and foremost a romance novel. The main emphasis must be on the romantic relationship between the protagonist and their love interest. Usually, this involves a woman and man, though LGBT paranormal romances have been gaining popularity.

Paranormal in regard to the romance genre is a catch all word. It includes fantasy, horror, science fiction and their subgenres. Interestingly, it does not include time travel, which is a separate romance subgenre and not considered paranormal. Why not? Usually, such novels involve a hero from the past being transported into the present, or a present-day heroine transported into the past. It’s a convenient plot device and the fantasy element doesn’t venture much beyond that.  Also, time travel is a very popular subgenre that needs its own classification.

As you can imagine, there is a fuzzy line between all these genres. After all, the romantic relationship is a huge part of fiction, whether as a main plot or subplot. How much romance does it take to tip the scales? I would say enough to make the outcome of the relationship more important than any other plot element. We don’t care if the kingdom crumbles as long as the lovers can get married and have babies.

Popular writers of paranormal romance include Christine Feehan, Susan Krinard, Susan Grant and Marjorie M. Liu.

Below are some free-for-now paranormal romance novels, along with a fantasy sampler.

Doorway to Dreams (Fantasy Fiction Sampler)
Angels on Earth. Mermaids, time travel, and messages from beyond the grave. This fantasy fiction sampler will transport you to new and exciting worlds.

Fire Burn And Cauldron Bubble: The Jolie Wilkins Series (Volume 1)  Fire Burn And Cauldron Bubble by H.P. Mallory
Life isn’t bad for psychic Jolie Wilkins. True, she doesn’t have a love life to speak of, but she has a cute house in the suburbs of Los Angeles, a cat and a quirky best friend. Enter Rand Balfour, a sinfully attractive warlock who insists she’s a witch and who just might turn her life upside down. Rand hires her to help him solve a mystery regarding the death of his client who also happens to be a ghost. Jolie not only uncovers the cause of the ghost’s demise but, in the process, she brings him back to life!

Once Bitten  Once Bitten by Trina M. Lee
Alexa O’Brien has never been like other people. A hunter of supernatural rogues, she is a werewolf with unusual but extraordinary power. Power that draws her to Arys Knight, the mysterious vampire who awakens her dark side. What they create together is dangerous and binding, forcing her to question the source of her abilities. It threatens not only her remaining humanity, but her relationship with fellow werewolf, Shaz Richardson, as well.

Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter  Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter by Nikki Jefford
If there is one thing eighteen-year-old Aurora Sky wants, it’s to get off the iceberg she calls home. Being kissed before she graduates wouldn’t hurt either. Then a near-fatal car wreck changes everything. Government agents step in and save Aurora’s life in exchange for her services as a vampire hunter. In Alaska. Basically she’s a glorified chew toy. All thanks to her rare blood type, which sends a vampire into temporary paralysis before she has to finish the job…by hand. Now Aurora’s only friends are groupies of the undead and the only boy she can think about may very well be a vampire. And if he’s a vampire, will she be forced to kill him?

Immortalis Carpe Noctem (Immortalis, Book 1)  Immortalis Carpe Noctem by Katie Salidas
Newbie vampire Alyssa never asked for this life, but now it’s all she has. Rescued from death by Lysander, the aloof and sexy leader of the Peregrinus vampire clan, she’s barely cut her teeth before she becomes a target. Kallisto, an ancient and vindictive vampire queen – and Lysander’s old mate – wants nothing less than final death for her former lover and his new toy. She’s not above letting the Acta Sanctorum, and its greatest vampire hunter, Santino, know exactly where the clan can be found. With no time to mourn her old life, Alyssa’s survival depends on her new family. She will have to stand alongside Lysander and fight against two enemies who will stop at nothing to destroy them.

Below are some free-for-now books that may rouse your interest in the genre.

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.