Tag Archives: Reading

Free Fiction Friday: Just a Matter of Time

Just a Matter of Time was first published in Sucker Literary Magazine, Vol. III, April 2014.

Sadie Lin: High school junior Sadie is desperate–to maintain her GPA, to score high on the SATs, for her dad to return from Afghanistan. Time seems to crawl and slip through her fingers all at once. She thinks it’s all in her head.

It’s not.

Gordon Bakersfield: Gordon–Sadie’s ninth-grade epic crush–has plenty of time and knows where to get more. He knows someone has been stealing Sadie’s time. And while he’s not sure how to make it stop, he’s hoping to try. But can Sadie trust him?

Only time will tell.

Today’s offering is too long for the blog. Click the link or the book cover to download it from your favorite retailer.

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Free Fiction Friday: Ebookaroo

Looking for some great free and discounted books, new releases, and specials? Look no further than author Patty Jansen‘s Ebookaroo email list (and while you’re at it, visit Patty’s website and get her starter library for free, too).

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Free Fiction Friday: Cozy fantasy romance

Sweet. Clean. Cozy. Call it what you want, but the result is the same. Looking to get cozy this autumn? There’s plenty to choose from. But hurry! The giveaway is for a few weeks only.

August 26 to September 11, 2018

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Free Fiction Friday: The Girl with the Piccolo

First published in Kazka Press, Evil Girlfriend Media, and in audio at Cast of Wonders.

No one thinks about the empty note casings after the nightly revelry. Someone has to pick them up, right? That I spent four grueling years at the Acoustic Academy at Stormy Point for the privilege is something I try not to think about.

True, it takes only a breath or two to chase the notes into my sack. Still, patrolling the DMZ (Disharmonious Zone) feels anti-climactic. I didn’t sign up for this. But now, with the sun nearly cresting the horizon, I can’t say what I did sign up for.

I holster the piccolo and continue the patrol. When I first enlisted, I wanted something shiny, something big and brassy, a trumpet or a trombone, or—if I dared to dream—the saxophone. (Really, who doesn’t want the sax?) The supply sergeant gave me a once over and puttered around her inventory on grizzled wings.

“Here you go, sweetie,” she said, dropping a piccolo into my outstretched hands.

My own wings sputtered, and I sank to the ground in disbelief.

“None of that,” the supply sergeant barked. “Remember, everyone underestimates the girl with the piccolo. Don’t let them.”

Perhaps I have. Let them, that is. This might explain why that piccolo and I now do border patrol.

Through my viewfinder, I scan the tree line on the other side of the DMZ. I catch sight of my enemy counterpart. She is a brilliant pink, where I am midnight blue. Her wings drip with glitter. Mine spark with stardust. I wonder how she can breathe a single note through her piccolo with all that tinsel in the air.

Through the lens, I see her eyebrows furrow. When her viewfinder is level with mine, I stick out my tongue. This, sadly, is the highlight of my evening.

I near the border, my bag overflowing with spent notes. I swipe the residue from a tuba casing. The tubas are so wasteful. I can fuel my piccolo for a week on what they leave behind. Across the way, the pink fairy dips and swoops; I suspect she’s doing the same thing I am.

A shift in the air makes the fine hairs on my wings stand on end. I shoot skyward just as a full marching band crowds the path alongside the meadow. Stardust fills the air. I could reach out and pluck notes as they float past me. I might. Except. This particular band? Doesn’t include a piccolo player. Underestimated? Try forgotten. Typical. They can play on without me.

I turn to fly away when the stench of rotted nectar hits me. I blink back tears. The aroma clogs the back of my throat. The players are drunk, spoiling for battle, and a wing’s breadth away from the DMZ. From above, I watch the band weave along the path, each rousing measure inching them closer to treaty violation. I cast a look for the security forces. Certainly someone is on the way.

Or not. I blow a few quick notes into my piccolo, an alert that may not reach its intended recipients, at least, not in time. Frantic, I peer through my viewfinder. The stricken face of my counterpart stares back at me, a hand on her own piccolo. A few breaths and she will bring in her own band—and they will not be drunk. They will be deadly, armed with wing-piercing notes. They will tear across the meadow, swoop into the DMZ, reigniting the Fairy Wars.

All on my watch.

I pull out my piccolo. Next, I take a quick peep through my viewfinder to make sure my pink counterpart is watching. She is. I mimic holding a baby, of rocking it to sleep in my arms. Certainly this movement is universal. Pink fairies come from somewhere, yes? I peer through my viewfinder again. Nothing but a pair of pink fuzzy eyebrows, drawn into a frown.

I rock my imaginary baby again, then hold up my piccolo. I run my fingers across it while holding my breath—one false note will bring my plan crumbling down. I check my viewfinder again. One of those pink eyebrows is raised. In question? Understanding? This time, I waltz with my imaginary baby before checking the viewfinder.

I hope her smile means what I think it does. I hope this isn’t a ruse. Without her help, I will be tried for treason, assuming, of course, I survive the ensuing battle.

I hold up a hand for the countdown … three … two … one. Fairies have many lullabies, but only one in three-quarter time. When pitched just right it soothes the most colicky baby, sends mortals into a deep sleep. As for drunken fairies …

Her piccolo plays counterpoint to mine. At first, my comrades show no sign of stopping their rampage. In fact, the tuba player bursts through the ranks, intent for the DMZ and the meadow beyond.

Before he can reach the DMZ, his pace flags. The tuba slips from his grip. His wings falter. By the time both are on the ground, he’s snoring. The rest of the band drops off, in twos and threes, notes scattered everywhere. My own notes, and those of the pink fairy, play in the sky, creating an iridescent lavender that prolongs the night.

At last I need a breath—and so does she. I alight on the tuba. From this vantage point, I can peer across the meadow. Through my viewfinder, I study my enemy counterpart. How many times has she fogged my view with pink glitter? How many times have I stuck out my tongue? This time, before she can look away, I salute. Then, I shoot skyward. Someone else can clean up all these notes. After all this time, I realize what the supply sergeant meant.

Never underestimate the girl with the piccolo.

That goes for both of us.

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Free Fiction Friday: SFF Book Bonanza

Head on over to SFF Book Bonanza for many, many free fantasy and science fiction books. Even if you miss the dates, many of the books will be available and free for the rest of August–click early, click often.

Happy reading!

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(Almost) Free Fiction Friday: The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading

So, I was working on something else when I discovered that The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading is currently at 99 cents at all major e-retailers.

Why or when, exactly, this happened, I don’t know. I also don’t know how long it will remain at 99 cents. In fact, I fear it may no longer be at 99 cents by the time this post goes live.

So if you ever wanted a copy, now’s the time to grab one. Buy early. Buy often.

Kindle  Nook  Apple  Kobo  Google Play

A YALSA 2012 Popular Paperback pick in the Get Your Geek On category!

When self-proclaimed geek girl Bethany Reynolds becomes the newest member of the varsity cheerleading squad, she realizes that there’s one thing worse than blending into the lockers: getting noticed. Who knew cheerleading was so hard? Well, at least there’s a manual, The Prairie Stone High Varsity Cheerleading Guide. Too bad it doesn’t cover any of the really tough questions. Like:

  • How do you maintain some semblance of dignity while wearing an insanely short skirt?
  • What do you do when the head cheerleader spills her beer on you at your first in-crowd party?
  • And how do you protect your best friend from the biggest player in the senior class?

Bethany is going to need all her geek brainpower just to survive the season!

Kindle  Nook  Apple  Kobo

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Free Fiction Friday: Straying from the Path

First published in Flash Fiction Online, Cicada Magazine, and in audio at The Centropic Oracle.

It was a wolf, rather than an ailing grandmother, that tempted Red into the woods. All day his cries echoed, small, plaintive-sounding things that filled the forest. By the time she found him, night had fallen and the blood on the snow looked black.

By moonlight, she pried his paw from the rusted jaws of the trap. He ran from her. And why wouldn’t he? It was her kind that set the trap to begin with. The wolf limped through the underbrush, tail between his legs. Later, if you asked her at what point she fell in love, she would’ve said that night. At the time, all she knew was how his injured gait made her heart lurch.

Later that night, Red spied his yellow eyes from well beyond the woodpile at the edge of the forest. The next evening, she left a meat pie on the lowest stack of wood. By morning, the tin had been licked clean.

And so went the winter. As the days grew colder and her supplies dwindled, she cut back on her own portion of meat. She could go without, but the wolf was still healing. Now, when she walked in the forest, she never feared brigands or the overly friendly woodcutters. When men called on her, they found the howl of a single male wolf so unnerving that they left their teacups half full, crumb cake uneaten.

When at last the snow melted and the sun heated the earth, Red took to bathing in the stream behind the house. No one dared disturb her. Every night, she set out a meat pie. Every morning, she collected the empty tin.

Except for the morning she didn’t. Flies buzzed around the soggy crust, the filling, chewed and pilfered by tiny mouths and claws. She threw on her cape and ventured into the forest—alone.

The trail was easy enough to follow. Drops of blood, tufts of gray fur. The farther into the forest she walked, the slower her steps became. What was done was done. All she could do was delay her own knowledge of it, spend a few more minutes free of a world where, every time she closed her eyes, all she saw was matted fur and severed paws—far too many to count.

That night, for the first time in months, she did not bake a meat pie.

The scratching came when the coals in the fireplace were mere embers. There, at the door, sat her wolf, bloodied but no weaker for his fight. He cocked his head as if to say: Where’s my meat pie?

She threw her arms around him, buried her face against his neck, and cried until the dirt in his fur became streams of mud.

When the townsfolk came, bearing axes and ropes, she threw open the door for them.

Why, no, she hadn’t seen any wolves at all lately. In fact, she’d stopped her treks through the forest for fear of them. Instead, she now cared for her grandmother here, in her very own cottage.

The men tiptoed from the room, not wishing to wake the old lady. The women rubbed their chins, hoping old age would not bring such a crop of whiskers.

After that, suitors stopped visiting. Although Red always sent them on their way with a meat pie, they found her grandmother’s beady eyes unsettling.

People forgot about Red and her grandmother who, while always ailing, never departed this world for the next. But on moonlit nights, townsfolk stumbling from the tavern swore they heard a woman’s laughter mixed in with the howls echoing in the night air.

If you liked Straying from the Path, consider the fairy tale compilation of the same name. Straying from the Path contains two novellas and four short stories in my Sour Magic fantasy world. Available in e-book and print.

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