Tag Archives: freebie

FREE though Friday – story collection with Jay Lake, Almost All the Way Home From the Stars

Almost all the way home from the stars

From now through Friday, you can get Almost all the Way Home From the Stars, a collection of seven science fiction stories that I wrote with my friend Jay Lake, who passed away in June after years battling cancer.

The description:

Near future dystopia, colonies in space, galactic empires: this collection has it all! “Almost All the Way Home From the Stars” is a collection of seven science fiction short stories by award winning writers Jay Lake and Ruth Nestvold. The settings range from galactic empires on distant worlds, to a dystopia in the near future warped by fundamentalism, to an alternate US where slavery was never abolished. Here a sampling:

“Rivers of Eden”: In a world transformed by a virus affecting faith, one lone scientist wants to set loose a cure for fanaticism.

“The Big Ice”: On Hutchinson’s World, Vega and Mox are trying to unravel the mystery of the Big Ice — until the family responsibilities Vega has been trying to escape come back to haunt her.

“The Canadian Who Came Almost All the Way Home From the Stars”: An NSA agent is assigned to look after a Canadian scientist whose husband has left Earth to visit the stars — and the strange dimple in the lake that she is watching, waiting for his return.

Five of the stories have been previously published elsewhere, in various online and print markets, including Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best Science Fiction. Two stories are new with this collection.

If you get a chance to download and read, I hope you enjoy the stories!

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I HAS HARD COPY! *g* Yseult published to CreateSpace

After weeks of work, and ten days waiting for the proof, Yseult arrived in Germany today — and it looks gorgeous! See for yourself:

Ok, that last is a bit dusty, I admit. 🙂

Right now, I’m happy I went ahead and took so much time to get this book right, and that I spent the money on one of Joel Friedlander’s templates for the interior. It was still a heck of a lot of work, but here’s what it looks like:

I’m ridiculously proud of myself. *g* So off I went to CreateSpace to approve the proof. Yseult should be available on Amazon in 5-7 days. (As I mentioned in a previous post, I opted out of Expanded Distribution because it would have put the minimum price of Yseult at over $20!)

Just for fun, I also took a pic of all the traditional publications of Yseult, the translations into German, Dutch and Italian. I really think the do-it-yourself version is quite decent in comparison!

Now that I know all the work paid off, I will post at length about the process, seeing as (as far as I’m concerned) it was a success. But since this is primarily an update post, I’ll leave it at the pretty pictures for now. 🙂

The beginning of this week, I got a really bad cold or really bad allergies (this time of year, I can’t always tell which), and that has slowed my progress on Island of Glass somewhat. I feel more like a person again today, but the creeping crud is still giving me some problems. I’m up to chapter six on the revisions now. Adding a foil for Chiara means a lot more new writing than just a read-through, so it’s taking longer than an editing pass would. But I think this will make the book a lot stronger.

And for those who don’t yet have it, Shadow of Stone is FREE through Friday, May 31. Enjoy!

A new story collection and upcoming freebies

Most of my time lately has been spent working on the new collection of stories I wrote with Jay Lake. A few years back, we collaborated on a number of stories together, both science fiction and fantasy. When I started switching from traditional publishing to ebooks, I told Jay I could put together some collections of our fiction. But since I always have more projects than time, I kept putting it off. Then recently I learned that Jay’s battle with cancer has taken a turn for the worse, and I figured I better finally get on it. (As opposed to my writing buddy, Jay, I don’t go into personal stuff a lot on this blog, but for the record, I had a crying fit before I realized I had to shift priorities a bit.)

The first book of our collaborations that I’m doing is science fiction and includes five previously published stories (two of which were reprinted in Year’s Best anthologies), as well as two stories new to this collection. I’m not done with formatting it yet, and I still need to write a blurb (always particularly hard with collections, gah). But here’s the second version of the cover:

Please let me know what you think!

The other big project that I’ve been working on this week is FINALLY PUTTING TOGETHER A PRINT VERSION OF YSEULT! I splurged and bought a license from Book Design Templates. But if you click on the link, don’t believe that marketing line about your book “looking this good in just minutes.” Having some base styles already designed, and by a pro, is definitely a time-saver, but I’ve spent most of the day today importing Yseult into the template, defining styles, looking for import mistakes (e.g. I lost all of my italics and have to find them again in another window in Word), etc. — and I’m still not done. But since that whole procedure is definitely worth a blog post of its own, I won’t bother you with any more detail now.

I also spent a fair amount of time organizing some freebies for the coming week and notifying sites that will still carry announcements. I’m slowly moving my books out of KDP Select. Of the twelve ebooks I have out now, five are still in Select (one by mistake). Of those that are still in, several will be free next week. I did some overlapping in an attempt to get more of my books on my other books “alsobots” — something I’m not having much luck with. I suspect that’s because I don’t write exclusively in one narrowly defined genre. The readers who enjoy Yseult and Shadow of Stone may well have absolutely no interest in Looking Through Lace, and vice versa. So be it. One of the things I love about being an indie author is that I can write whatever I want, without someone else pressuring me to watch out for my BRAND. Ok, so it means I’m going to continue to sell modestly until I get enough out there in ALL the genres I like to write — or a miracle occurs. But the thing is, I really enjoy the freedom. 🙂

Anyway, here are the upcoming freebies:

Dragon Time and Other Stories – April 29-30

Misty and the Magic Pumpkin Knife – April 30 – May 4

Beyond the Waters of the World – May 3-4

The Future, Imperfect – May 4-5

Enjoy!

A new book trailer, and a request for help in making books free

As I mentioned in my last post, I got my Aphra Behn time travel, Chameleon in a Mirror, off to my critique partner on Monday, so that’s a big chunk out of my to-do list. Now that CIAM’s off, I’ve returned to Island of Glass, and am trying to address a number of critique points in the rewrite.

On the marketing front, I’ve taken advantage of my Animoto subscription to make another book trailer, this time for my short story series, Tales From Far Beyond North:

Let me know what you think!

And, yes, several people have already told me I need to find different music. In my own defense, I was looking for something reminiscent of the old cult series Northern Exposure, which was my inspiration for these stories. For those who don’t know it, here’s a still with the intro music:

Anyway, fiddling with my Alaska stories reminded me that I have long wanted to enlist help in making The Leaving Sweater free on Amazon. It’s available on Strange Horizons (for free, of course), and I never meant to make money off the ebook version, but Amazon still hasn’t price-matched iTunes or Kobo. From what I’ve learned on the Kindle Boards and elsewhere, Amazon doesn’t care much about Kobo, but they will (maybe) respond to lower prices on the Apple bookstore.

So if anyone who reads this would be so kind, could you please go to The Leaving Sweater on Amazon, and click on the link “Tell us about a lower price” in the Product Details. A box will open, asking where you saw the lower price. Click on “Website” and enter the following URL from the iTunes store, with 0.00 for the price and shipping cost:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-leaving-sweater/id609737889?mt=11

I’ve also been trying to make Never Ever After free on Amazon, so for anyone who would be inclined to do me an additional favor, here are the appropriate links:

Never Ever After on Amazon

Never Ever After on iTunes

Thanks in advance for your help! Hope everyone has a great rest of the week. 🙂

On the 324th anniversary of Aphra Behn’s death

I finished the “fast” (ahem) read-through of Chameleon in a Mirror yesterday, and the last chapter reminded me that today is the anniversary of Aphra Behn’s death. And then it occurred to me that I could actually do something in honor of the occasion this year — by beginning to post chapters of the novel. I run The Aphra Behn Page, a site dedicated to Behn’s life and works, and so I’ve decided to start uploading the chapters there. I may eventually also upload to Fictionpress and/or Wattpad, but I haven’t looked into those options enough yet.

While the book has been workshopped and critiqued, I make no claims to perfection. It is NOT in an officially publishable state yet. I sent it to my critique partner yesterday, and it also still has to go through the professional proofreading process. So please forgive any mistake you find — and if you’re feeling particularly generous, let me know about them!

I will try to upload a chapter a week, but I’m not making any promises! Life happens sometimes, after all. 🙂

The blurb (as stands):

Billie (Willa) Armstrong, an American graduate student with a penchant for street music, is disenchanted with London, her lover and her academic progress. She has always wanted to discover something decisive about her idol Aphra Behn and help her attain the place in literature that she deserves, but when Billie accidentally activates the magical properties of a baroque mirror, she gets more than she bargained for. What develops is an unwilling masquerade in a tale of literary politics and passion, a high-spirited Restoration romp, as Billie does her best to survive in a strange era and ensure Aphra’s literary survival in the future.

And here’s a short taste of Chapter 1:

All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, which is, most scandalously but rather appropriately, in Westminster Abbey, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds. It is she — shady and amorous as she was — who makes it not quite fantastic for me to say to you tonight: Earn five hundred a year by your wits.

         Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Professor Fogerty had a small mole near the corner of one eye, and it was twitching. Billie concentrated on the twitch to keep her temper in check. All the power might be on his side of the desk, but at least she didn’t have any nervous tics.

“You have to remember that Mrs. Behn was little more than a marginal writer, Miss Armstrong,” the professor said in that smarmy way he had. “A transitional force, yes, but not innovative, not really. If being a woman in itself were innovative — why the world would be in constant revolution.”

Billie ignored his weak attempt at a joke and took a deep breath. “But what about Love Letters Between a Nobleman and his Sister? It was an epistolary novel written sixty years before Samuel Richardson, after all.”

He chuckled, a sound intentionally jovial. “You cannot seriously claim that Behn influenced Richardson!”

Since that was precisely what she had intended, she kept her mouth shut. It seemed she was going to have to find a different thesis advisor — or else go back home to the States in shame, without a dissertation.

Autumn sun spilled through the high windows of Fogerty’s office, hampered by streaks of grime. The buildings of London Blackfriars University were much like those of the Inns of Court nearby, lofty and arching, a metaphor for freedom of thought and high ideals made stone. It was too bad that even a modest attempt at redefining literary history had no place here, at least not as long as Fogerty had a say in it.

“What I’m trying to show is that Behn used autobiographical material in a very original way, and it influenced a number of people,” Billie said carefully.

“Miss Armstrong, Mrs. Behn was a hack — a very talented hack, but a hack nonetheless.” He shook his massive head. “Don’t get carried away by causes in your academic work. Literature is not about the odds.”

“But she was one of the most respected dramatists of the Restoration,” she couldn’t help protesting.

Fogerty’s insincere smile spread across his face. “Respected? Come now, Miss Armstrong! Certainly you know of the lampoons written about her?”

“Those were written about her morals, not her writing. A lot of her contemporaries were envious of her success.”

“It’s a mistake to equate popularity with literary merit.”

“Oh, I would never make that mistake,” she muttered under her breath.

“What was that?”

“Defoe for one respected Aphra Behn,” she said, loud enough for him to hear. “He called her one of the ‘giants of wit and sense’ — along with Milton, no less.”

He gazed at her critically over the top of his glasses. “Are you implying that Behn influenced Defoe now?”

Billie couldn’t keep her mouth shut any longer. “Among others, yes,” she said, rising and gathering up the papers on the desk between them. Her preliminary abstract for her dissertation, all shot to hell now. “I see I will have to reconsider my approach.”

Fogerty rose too and shook her hand. “Very wise, Miss Armstrong. I’ll be looking forward to your new proposal.”

She shut the door of his office behind her, closing her eyes briefly. That had gone even worse than she’d expected. It was well known that Fogerty had been bullied into helping host the upcoming Aphra Behn symposium after Billie’s former advisor had been bullied out of the department, but she hadn’t realized his resentment of a female playwright dead for over three hundred years went that deep. But what did it mean for the symposium? Maybe Fogerty and his ilk — the ones who had mobbed Professor Bentley until she fled to a foreign university with a Women’s Studies department — thought they could turn the clock back, envisioning themselves as an antidote to the Great Feminist Danger and its Trivializing Impulses. …

Continue reading here.

Real life distractions and a bunch of unannounced freebies

I have a translation deadline for 10 am tomorrow, and seeing that I’m a night owl and that’s about the time I get up in the morning (one of the joys of being a freelancer), I had to finish tonight. It’s now off, and I can finally get around to an update.

Given the developments of the last few days, I really will be eating my words and keeping Shadow of Stone in KDP Select for another round. In the last three days, I’ve made nearly as much in borrows on SoS as I made on Yseult in all other venues in the last two months since I took it out of KDP Select. And that’s not counting the additional sales of Yseult in the last few days on Amazon.

While I understand the haters being against Amazon’s dominance of the market, this is a purely self-centered, marketing decision on my part, based on my own sales data.

At the same time, while it might possibly be more lucrative for me to put Yseult back into KDP Select, I won’t. From what I’ve heard and read, the other ebook markets out there need a lot longer to take off, but the reward is more staying power. I haven’t been in the alternate markets long enough to confirm that, but I think it’s worth it to stick around a bit longer to see if it will work.

Just for the fun, and to reward my blog readers, I set up a bunch of spontaneous freebies that I’m not going to announce anywhere else:

Free from March 4-6, The Future, Imperfect: Six Dystopian Short Stories

Free from March 6-7, Beyond the Waters of the World

Free from March 4-6, Misty and the Magic Pumpkin Knife

Free from March 5-6, In the Middle of Nowhere With Company

And please note my new ebook short story, “The Leaving Sweater,” which is free on Kobo but has yet to be price-matched on Amazon:

The Leaving Sweater

In other news, I finished this revision pass of Chameleon in a Mirror. Since my critique partner doesn’t have time to read it until April, I’d like to still do another fast read-through before I send it along.

Wow, what a week. I think I need a break. 🙂

Luck and skill to everyone!

Eating my words: preliminary results for free promo of Shadow of Stone

I’m running a free promo for Shadow of Stone right now, which I had intended to be the last. At the end of this term in KDP Select, I was going to take the book out and offer it elsewhere.

But now I have a dilemma. I’ve had very little time the last couple of days, and I didn’t do any announcements for the freebie like I usually do. An ad got cancelled at the last moment as a result of the changes Amazon is making to the Amazon Affiliate program, and the book didn’t get picked up by either of the big sites, POI or ENT. It did get picked up by Kindle Tips and Tricks and Top 100 Best Free Kindle Books, which certainly helped.

And what happened? I’ve given away over 2000 copies, almost cracked the top 100 free books, and have sold 25 copies of Yseult since the free run started. That’s almost a third of my sales of the book for the month.

Normally, 2000 copies given away wouldn’t get me anywhere near the top 100 list. So I’m wondering if it has to do with a lot of blogs abandoning ship since Amazon announced the change to Amazon Affiliates. I don’t want to go into that in detail, so if you’re curious, I suggest reading Michael Gallagher’s post on how it is going to effect him and his blog.

But if there are fewer freebies out there, and it’s possible to get better results with a free run, then perhaps it makes sense to stick it out a little longer. I’ll wait and see what the borrows are like after Shadow of Stone goes back to paid, and then I’ll decide. The handful of sales on B&N and Kobo aren’t worth it if borrows for the book pick up again. But it totally depends on what the bounce will be after this free run is over.

In other publishing news, I finally got “The Leaving Sweater” uploaded to Amazon and Draft2Digital, but it’s not yet available. I will let people know when it is.

And I only have another 4 chapters to go on this pass of Chameleon in a Mirror. Almost done! 🙂 Brainstorming of A Wasted Land is coming along as well, just slowing down a bit.

Marketing demands muscle out the writing — yet again. Oh, and Iceland too.

I have two group promos coming up again very soon (I will make the official announcements when the time comes). While I really need another push for my sales, which have been in free fall this month, the organization is taking a huge chunk out of my writing time. I only managed to complete another 1000 words on the Murano novella, which I am now intending to call Island of Glass. I liked “Prison of Glass” a lot, but “Island of Glass” goes better with the pre-made cover I bought.

Besides group promo organization, I also decided to make my little fairy tale collection, Never Ever After, permanently free. To that end, I both made it free on Smashwords and uploaded it to a new aggregating site, Draft2Digital, that promised to be able to get free ebooks available on the iTunes store. And they did! Draft2Digital is still in beta, so if you’re interested in their services, you need to write them to get a beta code, but they are very fast, and very helpful, and I can only recommend them. Check it out: Never Ever After is now available for free for the iPad! If anyone has one of those overpriced toys, please do me the favor any download my mini-collection. The point of perma-free is too get some attention, and that won’t happen without downloads. It’s not free on Amazon yet, btw. First Ama has to notice that it’s free elsewhere and price match. I will probably be asking for some help with that at some point, but not tonight.

One other business-slash-writing project was distracting me from new words this week — I compiled the stories for the upcoming collection Story Hunger and sent them to my editor.

Then there was the personal stuff that consumed a lot of time: my father is turning 80 this year, and he wants to get the family together in the summer for a late b-day celebration. Flight prices between Europe and the US have become outrageous at high season, but the cheapest are through Iceland Air. So Chris and I decided to make that into a vacation: we’ll be spending a little under a week in Iceland before we continue on to Seattle. Then of course, once I booked the flight, I immediately started checking into hotels and rental cars, and got lost on Tripadvisor and Expedia …

Wishing everyone a great week!

A bedtime story, courtesy of my granddaughter

I had grandma duties yesterday, so much of what on other days of the week is usually my writing time was taken up with running after an energetic almost-three-year-old. (She will be three next week.) After I picked her up from daycare, she claimed she was tired and said we should take a nap together. I knew pretty well from the outset how that was going to go, but I didn’t mind the opportunity to lie down for a bit either. I’m a notorious night owl, and I’ve been staying up much too late recently.

So into bed we go, do everything the way Mira wants us to, getting sufficient stuffed animals, covering up, etc., and then she informs me, “And now we need a story.” (“Und jetzt brauchen wir eine Geschichte.”)

“Oh,” says Oma (that’s me, in German), “Are you going to tell me a bedtime story?” (Speaking in English — I try to speak as much English with her as possible.)

Ja.” So she settles in, sitting upright next to my head. “Es war einmal …”

Here the story she told me, from memory, translated into English, with a rough approximation of creative grammar.:

“Once upon a time there was a princess. The princess had a horse. She rided to the castle on her horse. It was the castle of the prince.”

Oma: “Was the prince asleep?”

Mira: “No, no, Oma, only the princess sleeps!” [Editorial intrusion: sigh.]

“The princess wanted to visit the prince. They were friends. But then the evil witch comes and turns him into a frog.”

Oma: “Did she kiss him and turn him back into a prince?”

Mira: “Let me tell the story, Oma!

“The princess didn’t want to kiss a frog. But then the evil witch came again and turned the princess into a frog. And then they ran away. When they got away from the witch, they kissed. And then she was a princess again.

“And then they went on vacation.”

And then they went on vacation (Image copyright by blessings, licensed through Shutterstock).
And then they went on vacation (Image copyright by blessings, licensed through Shutterstock).

* * *

My progress on City of Glass has slowed a bit. It has come to my attention that the longest story in my new collection From Earth to Mars has a few typos. It seems that by mistake I didn’t include the edited version that was published in Giganotosaurus; instead, I must have used an earlier version. I read through the collection before publishing, but somehow I didn’t notice the mistake.

Anyway, I am temporarily unpublishing the collection and going through everything one more time. It’s still available, but please don’t buy it until I republish! This is rather embarrassing, and I hope those who already bought the collection will forgive me. Once I have the new version ready, drop me an email, and I’ll send you a copy.

So that’s mostly what I’ve been doing the last couple of days. City of Glass is at just under 11,000 words now, and I’ll get back to it once I have From Earth to Mars uploaded again.

Also, in case you missed it during previous promos, Beyond the Waters of the World is free today and tomorrow. Be my guest, and if you are so inclined, pass the word along. 🙂

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week and making great progress!