Baen Free Library

As I’ve recently started reading ebooks, it was a great joy to discover that some main stream publishers are offering old publication as free ebook downloads.

Yes, the books are old, but it’s a brilliant way to try new authors before purchasing a more recent publication by them.  I know that some of these older publications are some of the author’s earliest works and may be considered their “not so good” works too, and I’ll keep that in mind, but I’ve read superb debut novels and believe I’ll get a good “taste” of whether or not I like the author’s style.

Anyway, I found a list of free ebook downloads at Baen Free Library.  I’ve downloaded a couple of the books and intend to add them to my iPod Touch and give these previously unread authors a chance to win me over.

If you know of other lists such as this, please do share the link with me.

And the winning voter is…

There was an excellent response to the competition and I was pleased to see heaps of voters too. All those people who took the time to vote were entered into a separate prize pool. Their names were put in a hat (or in this instance a large kitchen bowl) and one name was pulled out. That person won the voters prize – an ebook version of the Speculative Realms anthology.

The person who won that prize is:

Tina Garrard

Congratulations and well done. Your prize has been emailed to you this morning.

In fact, all prizes have now been distributed. Thank you to everyone who participated – writers and voters. And to those who received a copy of the ebook, the anthology authors hope you enjoy their words.

Standing on the Edge of the World

For eight months, I have been walking to and from the station on work days. It’s only an eight minute walk, so it’s nothing I can’t handle when it’s raining, windy, freezing cold or when it’s a glorious spring day. I’m not confident about the hot, humid days when it reaches over 40 Celsius for days on end in the middle of summer though…we’ll see how that goes, when the time comes.

Part of that walk involves a set of stairs. They take me from the top of a bridge to the road below. They are narrow and steep. And what’s more…the devil has staked his claim there!

In the morning, I don’t use the steps as I have to go to the post office first, so I walk over the bridge from another direction. In the afternoon, I walk down the steps and head straight to the station. In recent weeks, I’ve noticed something that I can only say is a phobia. Yet, in hindsight, I know the phobia has been there since the first morning I walked up and over that bridge, passing the small gap that leads to the steps going down, down, down.

The bridge is quite busy as there are only three places where people and cars can get from one side of the city to the other – two bridges and an underpass. On the bridge I use, pedestrians are protected from traffic by a guard rail on one side and a tall fence on the other (to stop people throwing boulders or themselves in front of the trains passing below). Two people can walk side by side on the narrow path. The only opening is the one to the steps. But where does the devil come into it, you may be asking.

Well, it’s quite simple. Every morning, I start ascending the bridge and everything is fine. As the gap to the steps gets nearer and nearer, I feel the door to the underworld beginning to open. I feel the scorching heat escaping, rushing at me. I feel the evil presence patiently waiting for me to approach and falter. As I draw parallel with the opening the devil whispers unattractive suggestions in my ear and tries to grab my ankle and pull me towards the steep drop. He tries to encourage me to stumble and fall. He wants it to happen so badly. He’s obsessed with it. He laughs the entire time, of course, and that’s the only thing that helps me take those two steps that will take me past the opening, past the devil himself. Then I’m safely between the fence and the guard rail again and can leave the devil and his evil playground behind me.

That’s in the morning, but then I must negotiate the devil again after working all day. When my mind is tired. When I’m not so alert!

Coming from the opposite direction, I can feel the bridge shake with anticipation as a train passes beneath me every afternoon and the opening to the steps draws nearer. This time there’s no laughter because the devil knows that I must walk straight into his open jaws. This pleases him immensely. I can hear him coaxing me closer and closer. I know he’s waiting for me to reach the top step. And then, I’m there, balancing on the edge of this world and the one below. I pause briefly because I really don’t want to succumb to the beckoning, but sometimes it’s so difficult to stay focused and sure footed. For a split second, I wonder if I’m strong enough to resist the devil’s coaxing, but then my foot finds the first step down and I know I’ve won the battle once again because it’s only that first step where the evil one has any power, after that I’m free to rush to the station and catch the train home.

But the next morning, he’s there again…waiting, tormenting, convinced that one day it will be his turn to win…and the battle starts again.

And the winning entry is…

It is with great pleasure that I announce the winner of the Let’s Celebrate competition. Please put your hands together and give a warm applause for the winning entry:

One Enchanting Evening by Rebecca Emin

Congratulations, Rebecca! You have won a $25 Amazon Gift Voucher and an ebook version of “Speculative Realms: Where there’s a will, there’s a way”. (Your prizes will be emailed to you as soon as I’ve organised the gift voucher.)

I think it is only fair to mention the second and third place winners as well. Both entries did extremely well and were well received by voters. Please give another round of applause for:

Second Place Winner: A Little Killing by Alan Baxter

Third Place Winner: Happens All the Time by Paul Liadis

Congratulations to you both. Although I didn’t mention this at the beginning of the competition, it has been decided that the runners up deserve a prize too, so they will also receive an ebook version of the Speculative Realms anthology. (Guys, your prize will be emailed to you soon.)

Thank you to everyone who entered the competition. The entries were superb and it was fun for me to give little hints throughout the voting period. I must have a tormenting streak in me! Anyway, I hope I wasn’t the only one to enjoy myself, I hope all visitors to the website enjoyed reading the entries (and voting) and were amused by the hints too.

Now, I haven’t forgotten that there’s still one winner to announce – a random voter will get a prize as well. I need some time to organise the draw, so this winner will be announced in a couple of days.

For those of you who wish to re-read the entries or haven’t read them yet, here are links to the stories:

Entry 1: A Little Killing
Entry 2: The Black Window
Entry 3: An Angel Unawares
Entry 4: Happens All the Time
Entry 5: The Release of Thorim Hammerfist
Entry 6: One Enchanting Evening
Entry 7: What’s Theirs

Book Review: RealmShift

RealmShift

RealmShift by Alan Baxter

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first ebook I’ve ever read and I’m happy to say that the experience was a good one. I read it on my iPod Touch, which I must admit to having some concerns about as the screen is quite small. However, that didn’t bother me at all. The text was clear and I developed no adverse side-affects such as eye strain. I certainly will be reading more ebooks in the future.

Now, about the book RealmShift. Here’s my review.

RealmShift is a mixture of genres, but it’s mainly horror. It reminded me of some of the Anne Rice books I read years ago – as in theme, not actual storyline. There are vampires, immortals, evil humans and tons of killer instinct, which always means blood and guts are sure to follow. Luckily, that doesn’t bother me.

Of course, there’s lots of swearing too. I’m not one for swearing, but I found I didn’t really have a problem with it in this setting. The characters are mainly male and they swear like troopers, which I find is true in real life so I guess that’s why I didn’t have much trouble accepting it in the story. The female character was much more reserved but when she resorted to more powerful words I accepted it because of the situation she was in at the time.

I was pleased to find characters with depth, characters I could relate to. Strangely, I could even understand why the bad characters were bad, which means they were well written and fully developed.

The story itself is fast paced. Something is always happening, or about to happen. There’s no holding back either. If someone has to die, the reader knows every detail. It certainly gets the imagination going in that regard. In fact, I feel as if I’ve tasted the life of a killer!

RealmShift also had a theme that I found was thought provoking. Yet at the same time, this same theme slowed the story down in sections because of the amount of explaining needed to get a point across. Yet it was important to the overall story and as it was religious based I understood how difficult it was for the author to make sure the reader understood something that is quite complex. The story put a different spin on the whole religion thing which I found quite fascinating. Ultimately, the message was to believe in oneself and stop relying on others and I think that’s a good message to give.

If you want to read a fast paced, action filled story, then you should definitely give RealmShift a read.

Voting Ends in a Week

With only a week of voting to go, it’s important to get your vote in. Don’t put it off until tomorrow because there is always something else to be done and you’ll end up not voting at all.

The authors of the entries should remind their own followers that voting is almost over. We have one entry that is strides in front of the others, so every vote counts.

Vote now! (Please.) 🙂

Some Mad Hope: When Nothing Is Good

I often roam the internet, making my way from one website to another, reading hundreds of words written by other people.  Those words sometimes anger me, at other times they make me cry, but today I found words that inspire.

Some Mad Hope: When Nothing Is Good.

This is a post that reminds us about the small things in writing.  The things that can be tedious and time consuming, but are very important to all writers.  It reminds us that after hours and hours of sitting alone and writing, we then sit for hours and hours alone and edit, before we sit for hours and hours proofreading.

When I read, if I see a single mistake my reaction is, “haha, a mistake!”  When I write, I’m conscious of this but it doesn’t stop the errors getting through.

The author of the post “When Nothing is Good” is correct when she says that nobody notices when everything goes well, but those same people are quick to jump up and down when something turns pear shaped.

I’d like to be remembered for a good story, not for a story full of errors, so I edit and edit and edit some more.  When a story flows nicely, the reader is taken on a lovely journey.  As writers, we have to ensure the reader is so absorbed in the story that nothing can distract them, especially typos, poor formatting and bad grammar.