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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Disclaimers and Disclosures

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.

Camp NaNoWriMo

You probably know about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month,) an annual event that takes place every November. It’s a competition, a challenge to write 50K words in 30 days. You may not know about Camp NaNoWriMo. Think of NaNoWriMo in a low-key setting where you set your goals. To quote a message from Chris Angotti of the Office of Letters and Light, the good folks who bring us NaNoWriMo:

We want to invite you to a writing retreat—a serene, supportive place you don’t have to move a muscle to get to… Okay, well, maybe your link-clicking muscle:

Camp NaNoWriMo, now in April and July 2013!

We just reopened the gate for next month’s session, and whether you’re a canoe kingpin or tenting tenderfoot, we’ve got a few new things to show you:

Flexible word-count goals. Your choice, from 10,000 to 999,999.

Rebel- and script-friendliness. Write a memoir, blog series, frenzied script, or anything your creative heart desires.

Looking for that push to start your novel or finish it? Have you always wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo, but were put off by the 50K challenge? This could be for you. You can sign up for the April session on the Camp NaNoWriMo website.

Whether you’re planning to join a cabin at the camp or are saving up energy for the November frenzy, I found a couple of free-for-now writing guides that could help with both events.

  30 Daily Tips for NaNoWriMo: No Fail Formulas To Finish Your Novel by Tara Maya
NaNoWriMo is National Writer’s Month, when writers from around the world sit down and try to finish a novel (at least 50,000 words) in a month. There are many books and blogs with Daily Prompts for NaNoWriMo, and they’re good books, but they contain a high percentage of Cheerleading to Content. I’m not bashing a good cheer (Go, Team Writer!), but these prompts include a higher ration of Grit to Goodwill. These are my best No Fail Formulas, most of which I’ve shamelessly stolen from all the best authors I love.

  2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron
Expanding on her highly successful process for doubling daily word counts, this book, a combination of reworked blog posts and new material, offers practical writing advice for anyone who’s ever longed to increase their daily writing output. In addition to updated information for Rachel’s popular 2k to 10k writing efficiency process, 5 step plotting method, and easy editing tips, this new book includes chapters on creating characters that write their own stories, practical plot structure, and learning to love your daily writing. Full of easy to follow, practical advice from a commercial author who doesn’t eat if she doesn’t produce good books on a regular basis, 2k to 10k focuses not just on writing faster, but writing better, and having more fun while you do it.

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.

Sword and Sorcery

Sword and Sorcery is a genre of action, adventure and magic. Readers expect heroes and villains who can accomplish feats of amazing physical and supernatural abilities.

For a novel to be considered Sword and Sorcery, it requires conflict that will be resolved by the use of blades and magic. Therefore the setting must be in an actual or alternate time period before the use of gunpowder, unless gunpowder is being used as a sort of combustible magic potion rather than in guns.

There are obvious similarities between Sword and Sorcery and Epic Fantasy. So, what’s the difference? Epic Fantasy usually involves a high stake quest that will either save or destroy the world. Sword and Sorcery involves smaller quests, such as rescuing a kidnapped prince or retrieving a lost treasure. A kingdom can be at stake, and sometimes a whole world, but the protagonist is primarily concerned with her personal quest.

A common trope for the genre is bulky, heroic swordsman versus slinky, devious sorceress. While there are books along those lines, there are many others that deviate from that tired stereotype. Even Robert E. Howard, creator of the Conan series, liked strong, heroic swordswomen, such as his characters Red Sonya and Agnes de Chastillon.

Sword and Sorcery books featuring strong female protagonists include the Tiger and Del series and many of the books by Tamora Pierce.

The antihero is a common protagonist in this genre, which makes sense since the stakes are personal rather than universal. This type of character may do good despite himself, but will also walk away after causing a lot of harm. Sword and Sorcery antiheroes include Elric of Melniboné, Corwin of Amber, and Magiere of the Noble Dead Saga.

Interested in reading Sword and Sorcery? I don’t blame you. It’s fun stuff! Popular authors include Lynn Flewelling, Terry Goodkind, Poul Anderson, C. L. Moore and R. A. Salvatore.

Genre fans may also want to check out these websites:

Below you’ll find a few free-for-now Kindle books to give you a taste for the genre. Among these includes “Stone of Tears,” the second in Terry Goodkind’s Sword of the Truth series. I checked and the first book isn’t free.

  Stone of Tears (The Sword of Truth #2) by Terry Goodkind
With Darken Rahl defeated, Richard and Kahlan head back to the Mud People to be married. As they wait for their wedding day to approach, they discover three Sisters of Light are pursuing Richard, intending to take him back to the Old World to be trained as a Wizard. Additionally, unbeknownst to Richard and Kahlan, the veil has been torn and the Stone of Tears has entered the world. According to prophecy, the only person who has a chance at closing the veil is the one bonded to the blade, the one born true.

  Dralin by John H. Carroll
There are many cities in the world of Ryallon that know the touch of despair and evil, but none like Dralin. Towers of wizards rise high into the air, shrouded in the mists of magical smog. Poor sleep in the alleyways, becoming deformed by pollution. Life is short for many. Throughout all of it, the cunning and dangerous members of the City Guard do their best to keep evil and crime from destroying the citizens of Dralin. Trained to fight in streets that make no sense, they keep wickedness from taking over completely. A young woman fleeing her past makes Dralin her destination. A young Guardsman with his own dark history hopes to make a difference in a city that is without hope. Are sorrow and despair their only destiny, or can love redeem them? Two young girls raised in this city learn life’s hard lessons early. Will they be defeated by its evil?

  Demonsouled by Jonathan Moeller
Banished for fifteen years, the wandering knight Mazael Cravenlock returns home at last to the Grim Marches, only to find war and chaos. His brother plans a foolish and doomed rebellion. His sister hopes to wed a brutal and cruel knight. The whispers speak of living corpses that stalk the night, of demons that lurk in darkness, and a sinister snake-cult that waits in the shadows. Yet Mazael’s darkest enemy waits elsewhere. Within his own tainted soul…

Product Details  Pale Queen’s Courtyard by Marcin Wrona
Kamvar, a soldier, has lost his way. Leonine, a thief and sorcerer, has forgotten that he had one to lose. When the daughter of a High Priest finds herself exiled and hunted across the entirety of conquered Ekka, both men will remember who they are, and the country’s invaders will learn that memories, unlike temples, are not so easily torn down.

  The Darkslayer: Wrath of the Royals by Craig Halloran
When recklessness provokes a Royal household, Venir and his friend Melegal the thief are forced to flee the city. In pursuit, the Royals soon unleash some unusual powers against them and start to close in. Can Venir and Melegal survive the impending doom that is about to befall them? Only Bish knows, but Venir has been secretly keeping evil forces at bay for years. He is the Darkslayer, a man possessed by a mantle of power he cannot let go.

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.

Young Adult

I’m back home and eager to continue my series of blog posts about genre.  It seems natural to jump back in with one of the hottest genres around, Young Adult or YA.

Wild, impulsive behavior, hormones bouncing off the walls, soaring emotions, dark secrets: this is the stuff of young adult novels. It is the fiction of firsts. First crush, date, kiss, job, failing grade, drink, smoke, sexual experience, rejection, the list goes on. Think of one of your milestone firsts and chances are it happened while you were a young adult.

It may be helpful to define the term, “young adult.” In terms of the genre, a young adult is an adolescent, a teenager, typically of high school age, between 14- and 18-years-old. There’s some breathing room on either end, but a protagonist younger than thirteen would be considered Middle Grade and one older than nineteen would be a New Adult.

Voice is particularly important in YA fiction. As you read, you should be hearing the voice of a teen telling her story. A novel written as a memoir, i.e., an older person telling the story of his teen years, is not YA because the voice is that of an adult reliving his youth.

The YA protagonist should also have a keen eye for adult hypocrisy.  Teens are often censured by grownups that talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk, and they are fully aware of this. A sense of alienation from and aversion to the adult world is crucial to the YA voice.

Many subgenres fall under the wide YA umbrella, including historical, romance, literary, dystopia, fantasy and horror. Examples, in order of genre, include “The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing,” “Anna and the French Kiss,” “The Catcher in the Rye,” “Divergent,” “Tithe,” and “The Forest of Hands and Teeth.”

Few subjects are taboo in YA and some books deal with difficult, sensitive topics, such as drug use, promiscuity, suicide, cutting and bullying. “Speak” tells the story of rape victim who calls the police during a blow out party. Unable to say what really happened, she is shunned and becomes a social pariah. In “Living Dead Girl,” a kidnap victim tells the horrific story of her life as a pedophile’s plaything. It’s not all heavy weather in YA and there are plenty of books based around adventure and romance, but even these can brush on hard topics that are of concern to teens.

YA novels are written for and marketed to teenagers. The phenomenon of the YA genre is that many of the readers are adults. According to a 2012 article in Publishers Weekly, adults bought 55% of YA books. Not surprising, since parents must be buying books for their kids. However, of that number, 78% purchased the books for themselves. YA books such as “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games” became blockbuster hits because of their crossover appeal.

Has YA run its course as a hot genre? Apparently not. In sessions at the San Francisco Writers Conference, I learned that sales are still brisk and new books are constantly being acquired. To paraphrase one editor, there is a consistent, yet changing readership as children grow into teens and seek out YA novels.

Interested in learning more? Here are some great websites to check out.

  • Young Adult Books Central is a great place to find the latest books and reader reviews.
  • Adult YA readers may enjoy Forever Young Adult, “a site for YA readers who are a little less Y and a bit more A.”
  • Teen readers should check out Teen Ink, an online magazine and teen community.

Below you’ll find a few free-for-now Kindle books to give you a taste for the genre.

Brightest Kind of Darkness by P.T. Michelle
Nara Collins is an average sixteen-year-old, with one exception: every night she dreams the events of the following day. Due to an incident in her past, Nara avoids using her special gift to change fate…until she dreams a future she can’t ignore. After Nara prevents a bombing at Blue Ridge High, her ability to see the future starts to fade, while people at school are suddenly being injured at an unusually high rate. Grappling with her diminishing powers and the need to prevent another disaster, Nara meets Ethan Harris, a mysterious loner who seems to understand her better than anyone. Ethan and Nara forge an irresistible connection, but as their relationship heats up, so do her questions about his dark past.

  The Sword and The Prophet by Missy LaRae
Fifteen year old twins Lily and Tyler are on a mission. Escape from their abusive mother, hop a train to Charleston, South Carolina, and don’t get caught. They’ve been kept in virtual seclusion their entire lives, and in one night make a break for it and succeed. However, something isn’t right with their new Aunt and Uncle, and they realize they’ve escaped one nightmare and stumbled into something even far more sinister and deadly.

  Adventures In Funeral Crashing by Milda Harris
Sixteen year old Kait Lenox has a reputation as the weird girl in her high school, mostly because of her ex-best friend turned mean popular girl, Ariel, but maybe it has a little to do with the fact that Kait has a hobby crashing funerals. At one of these, Kait is outted by the most popular guy in school, Ethan Ripley. Yet, instead of humiliating her for all the world to see, he asks for her help, and Kait finds herself entangled in a murder mystery. Not only is the thrill of the mystery exciting, but more importantly Ethan knows her name! A little sleuthing is well worth that!

  Perfectly Dateless by Kristin Billerbeck
Daisy Crispin has 196 days to find the right date for the prom. There’s only one problem–her parents won’t let her date or even talk to a guy on the phone. Oh, and she’s totally invisible at school, has to wear lame homemade clothes, and has no social skills. Okay, so maybe there’s more than one problem. Can she talk her parents into letting her go to the prom? Or will they succeed at their obvious attempt to completely ruin her life?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

Contemporary and Urban Fantasy

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When you hear the term “urban fantasy,” you might think of a novel that is edgy, hip and urban. When you hear the term “contemporary fantasy,” you might think, edgy, hip and – um – not urban? Not exactly. The two subgenres have certain similarities, but they are separate categories.

Contemporary fantasy is set in contemporary times in the real world. In other words, if you wish to publish such a novel now, i.e. 2013, it must be set on Earth in the late twentieth to early twenty-first century. Another important distinguishing feature is that the fantasy elements, the magic, must be secret from the public at large. For example, in the Harry Potter novels, ordinary people, AKA Muggles, had little or no knowledge of the wizarding world.  Current issues, events and popular culture may be referenced or even affected by magic, but the world at large will never know.

Popular authors that write contemporary fantasy include Charles de Lint, Holly Black and Jim Butcher.

Urban fantasy is just that, a fantasy novel with an urban setting. The city itself is an important element and readers should feel as if they are walking the gritty streets while they read. An urban fantasy does not have to be set in modern times. It can be set in the past, present or future, i.e., London 2013, Rome 213 or New York 2213. Also, the fantasy element doesn’t have to be hidden. Ordinary people may or may not be aware of magic and supernatural beings.

Popular authors that write urban fantasy include Charles de Lint, Holly Black and Jim Butcher. What? No, I didn’t just copy and paste. There’s lots of crossover between these genres and some books can be considered both. Some authors write in both genres.

A popular series that I don’t think fits either genre is Sookie Stackhouse, the inspiration for the TV series, True Blood. The series is set in a small town rather than a large city, so it’s not urban fantasy. Ordinary humans are aware of supernatural beings, so it’s not contemporary fantasy. Well, what is it? Horror? Paranormal romance? A crossover of the two genres? Maybe.

It’s good to keep in mind that labels such as romance, mystery, horror, etc. are important because that’s where your book will go when it’s placed on the shelf of a bookstore or library, or which category it will listed under on Amazon or B&N. Subgenres are less rigid, giving writers breathing space to create a world and write the story they want to tell.

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

  Bedlam Boyz (Urban Elves) by Ellen Guon
When one of her friends is gunned down, Kayla uses her latent healing powers to heal her friend—and the gang member who shot him—and soon the city’s gangs are eager to use her powers for evil.

  Soul Sisters by Janiera Eldridge
Soul Sisters is an urban fantasy novel about African-American twin sisters Ani and Dana who have a rather unique secret: one sister is human while the other is a vampire. While the sisters have lived peacefully with each other for many years one fateful night will change both their lives forever. When a drunken man tries to attack Dana (the human sister) Ani (the vampire sister) protects her sister with all of her ferocious power. However, when the vampire’s leader Donovan finds out about the public display he calls for the sisters to be assassinated for disobedience. Ani and Dana now are in for the fight of their lives to protect each other as well as the lives of their dedicated friends who have joined them on their mission for survival.

  Earth (Elemental Series) by Shauna Granger
Shayna and her two best friends have the abilities to manipulate and control the four elements, earth, air, water and fire. While learning to hone their growing powers, they discover a new and malicious presence in their sleepy beach town. Someone is performing blood magic and threatens to expose their small magical community. So far only small animals have been slaughtered, but then the nightmares start.

  Just Another Day in Paradise by Katherine Tomlinson
Life in the big city is not for the faint of heart. Shadows lurk in sunlight; blood spills on floors; hope and dread are just two sides of a neon sign; and loneliness is a paper cut on the heart, an invisible wound that eventually kills. In these stories, Katherine Tomlinson explores the dark heart of urban living—the violence that seeps through walls like rancid cooking odors, the paranoia that grows in the dark, nurtured by guilt and grief; the retribution that strikes as suddenly and implacably as summer lightning. And every day brings a new challenge.

  Dirty Blood by Heather Hildenbrand
I killed a girl last night. I did it with my bare hands and an old piece of pipe I found lying next to the dumpster. But that’s not the part that got me. The part that scared me, the part I can’t seem to wrap my head around and still has me reeling, was that when she charged me, her body shifted – and then she was a wolf. All snapping teeth and extended claws. But by the time I stood over her lifeless body, she was a girl again. That’s about the time I went into shock… And that was the moment he showed up. Now, all I can do is accept the truths that are staring me in the face. One, Werewolves do exist. And two, I was born to kill them.

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.

Books that I have previously listed will occasionally come up free again. I add those to my current posts for people who didn’t see them the first time.