Posts Tagged ‘free book’

5659908590_a2fb90dfc0_zGoing to see Little Shop of Horrors, it struck me was that the play uses one of the all time classic character motivations – poverty.

Skid Row Survivors

Most of the characters in Little Shop of Horrors are poor people living in a poor neighbourhood. While this isn’t the only thing motivating Seymour, the story’s protagonist, it’s an important one. It drives him to seek fame and fortune when the opportunity arises, even at a terrible cost.

It’s also the motive for many other characters in stories, from Harry Dresden’s ongoing struggle to pay his bills through to Oliver Twist’s need just to get fed.

Because of Necessity, Dumby

The reason this happens so often is obvious once you think about it. Poverty prevents us from attending to even our most basic needs – food, shelter, warmth. A poor character can be motivated to all sorts of actions to survive. A poor character with principles can easily be given internal conflict, as the needs of survival clash with those principles. Just look at Seymour, forced to take increasingly grisly steps to retain the monstrous Audrey Two and his ticket out of the slums.

Poverty drives conflict, for characters at least.

Sure, it’s an easy option, but it’s one that works. By definition, half the population has less wealth than average, and there are always people struggling to survive. Just because all these characters are driven by poverty doesn’t mean that their lives and struggles will be the same.

Penny for the Writer?

If you want to help a struggling writer avoid poverty at no cost to yourself, please go download a copy of my science fiction collection Lies We Will Tell Ourselves, free on the Kindle until the end of tomorrow. Those free downloads will help to raise the book’s profile on Amazon, even more so if you leave a rating once you’ve read the book, and will make me money in the long run. Keep an eye out in there for ‘Day Labour’, another story of poverty and carnivorous plants, though a very different one from Little Shop of Horrors.

Picture by Aaron Patterson via Flickr Creative Commons.

Lies - High ResolutionI love writing. I love that I get to do it for a living. But even so, sometimes my brain needs a break.

Last year, I was terrible at taking breaks. I didn’t schedule enough time off, and didn’t plan my work to make sure I took these breaks. So this year I’ve made a promise to Laura and myself – a week off at the end of each quarter. This is the first of these weeks, and as this post goes up I’m nowhere near my computer, instead having a nice time drinking tea and seeing the sites of Dorset.

Anything can become an emotional strain, the things you love doubly so because they matter so much. So though it pains me to leave work unfinished, this week off is happening come hell or high deadlines.

There’s no point working if I’m not sane to do it right.

Free Books!

To celebrate my time off, I’m offering up some of my books for free…

A spin doctor forced to deal with aliens who loath lies.

A squad of soldiers torn apart by the fiction in their midst.

A hunting submarine with its dead captain strapped to the prow, the crew promising that one day they’ll revive him.

We all tell lies to get through the day, some of them to ourselves, some to other people. Now read the extraordinary lies of the future in my collection of short science fiction stories, Lies We Will Tell Ourselvesfree on Amazon until Friday. You can read more about the collection here.

And for those who prefer other formats, my short story Mud and Brass is currently available for free via Smashwords and other ebook stores. Thomas Niggle grew up a mudlark, hunting for scrap on the polluted banks of the River Burr. One of the countless poor living in the shadows of Mercer Shackleton’s vast factories, he has dragged himself out of poverty using his mechanical skills. An encounter with Gloria Shackleton, the Mercer’s daughter, offers Niggle the possibility of love, but it also offers something else, deep in the heart of the Mercer’s domain. What hope can the future hold for a boy raised amidst the mud and brass?

So please, go download the free books and enjoy some of my writing while I enjoy a much needed rest. And if you enjoy my stories, please leave a review on Amazon or wherever you buy ebooks – those reviews and ratings are like gold dust to me.

‘Dammit, I’m the sheriff! Bring me my coffee and donuts or more bodies are gonna drop!’

The high noon standoffs.The crazy magic carnival. The steampunk capitalists with their mechanical horses. As I’ve mentioned both here and elsewhere, I love the weird western card game Doomtown, and one of the things that makes me love it more is the fiction.

Combining Game and Story

AEG, the company who publish Doomtown, regularly post short fiction based on the game on their website. As a way of keeping players’ attention and building excitement around a game, I think it’s rather nifty. It builds up the plot, gives context to some of the cards, and makes me a little more interested in the characters of the game.

As integration of game and story goes, it’s no Device 6. But it’s really cool to see a company playing with what they can do in already playful mediums – short stories and games.

Moments Not Stories

These Doomtown pieces aren’t always what I’d describe as stories in their own right. They’re there to show a character, action or item in context. Something usually changes over the course of the story, but it often feels insubstantial.

For what it is, that works. It strings together the existing material of the game into a more coherent narrative full of character and tension, not just coloured pieces of card. I’d be surprised if the writers thought this was going to draw in new fans. It’s about maintaining existing interest, not bringing in more.

That said, I think weird west fans might enjoy the little snippets even without the bigger context of the game and the scenes written for the card sets. This is a world full of atmosphere and dark ideas, perfect for those who like to see spells and six-shooters in the same place.

Art as Marketing

This fits with a wider trend at the moment, where marketing cultural products has become less about badgering an audience into buying and more about giving something away to grab their interest. It’s common for serial fiction to include a cheap or free first e-book. Instead of badgering people into reading, the creators give them something and hope they like it to pay for more.

Speaking of which, my own collection of science fiction short stories, Lies We Will Tell Ourselves, is free on Amazon until Friday. So if Doomtown’s fiction doesn’t grab your interest, or you’ve read it all already, why not give that a go?

A steam-powered cowboy with a taste for death.

A daring art heist in a moving city.

A zeppelin flight through the smoke-filled skies of a Europe torn apart by volcanoes.

And much, much more…

Riding The Mainspring - High ResolutionI’m giving away my steampunk short story collection, Riding the Mainspring, to anyone who signs up to my mailing list. So if you’re looking for some exciting steam-powered action, why not go and sign up here.

If you’ve already read Riding the Mainspring and don’t want to miss out then never fear – just sign up to the mailing list and then email me. Let me know that you’ve already read Riding the Mainspring, and which of my other ebooks you’d like for free instead, and I’ll send you a copy. You can see a list of the books here.

If you’re on the mailing list then you’ll also get my Flash Friday stories delivered direct to your inbox each week, along with updates on my upcoming books. There’s no cost, and no need to buy anything. Just click the link to enjoy some free reading!

Holy Water, a short story I had published back in 2010, is currently available for free as Alt Hist give away free e-books of their first issue. If you’ve been enjoying my blogging then I recommend that you go get a copy and see what you think of my fiction.

alt-hist-issue-1-cover-web1

 

A word of warning though – this is what my fiction was like four or five years ago. I’ve improved since then, and though I’m proud of Holy Water there are still things I’d do differently now.

Here are a few of them.

Start as you mean to finish

When telling a story you need the end to match the beginning, otherwise readers feel disappointed. Thematically, Holy Water starts and ends on similar notes, but in terms of characters and their problems, not so much. This is particularly glaring in such a short story. If I was writing it now I’d reluctantly replace the first scene, which I like but which doesn’t fit perfectly.

Less adjectives

Yes, I know, this is writing 101. But it’s also a lesson I’ve become more wedded to as I’ve gone along. Many words in Holy Water would not make it past my editing pen any more.

Do your research

Actually, this is something I’d do exactly the same way. I did a lot of research to get ideas before writing Holy Water. It’s firmly embedded in the real history and legends of Cheshire, and those inspired almost everything about the story.

Yay history!

Lessons learned

I’m planning on putting together collections of some of my short fiction to give away / sell through this blog, but it’s taking me forever to find the time. In the meantime, this is one way you can enjoy some quality Knighton prose.

That’s it from me. Go pick up a free copy of Alt Hist. Read. Enjoy. Let me know what you thought of my story. And what would you do differently if you wrote it?