For F It’s Free!

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Self-promotion alert. Self-promotion alert. Warning. Self-promotion ahead. Delicious, fantastic self-promotion.

Still with me?

Cool.

So I said “free” in the headline, didn’t I? And free it is! If you’ve been enjoying my oddball sense of humor with the A to Z challenge, you can get more of it, conveniently packaged into bite-sized flash-fiction chunks in my my short story collection Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities. Here it is:

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It’s a quick read of fun, humorous weirdness. Kinda like me. Oh, and did I mention it’s free?!

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

In with the Old

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In honor of the new year (which is less new by now in some parts of the world, and not quite here yet in others), I’m posting a short story from my collection Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Odditieswhich, incidentally, is available for free. Happy New Year! I hope 2015 is an amazing, fruitful and exciting year for everyone.

In with the Old

“It’s nothing personal,” she said as kindly as she could muster, “it’s just time.”

“But I’m not nearly as used up as they said I would be,” the other one said, “not nearly at all. I’m not wrinkly, or old – I’m kind of in prime time.” She gave herself an once-over, careful not to break her bond with the contraption behind her.

“Unfortunately, we really need the machine.” She sighed and tapped her pen on her clipboard. “We only have a few more hours.”

“We?” said the woman in the machine. “We only have a few more hours? You’re going to install that thing,” she gestured with her head toward the giggling baby making faces at the man in the white coat at the other end of the room, “and go on with your routine. You think I don’t have it down by now? Daily dial turnings, just one click. Then you, with that pretend-serious look, yanking that lever. You think I didn’t notice you enjoy those lever pulls? Well I did. And you do.”

“Now come on, Wanda, there’s no need to be this way. You can go out with dignity.” She shot a look across the room to her coworker. He was too enthralled with the baby to get her message for a little help.

“What am I supposed to do now? I was huge, I was everything.”

“You’re sounding like a bad movie.”

“They don’t tell you what you’re supposed to do when it’s over.” She relaxed her grip on the copper handles inside her chamber, her visible gears going slightly slack down her arm toward her shoulder, the teeth just a bit looser. The worker took that as a good sign. She quickly tamped down her encouragement, in case Wanda saw.

“There are always retrospectives,” the woman said. “You know, ‘Best ofs.’ And there’s still plenty to do in the first few months, while people are getting adjusted. You know, rent checks, 18-month calendars, that kind of thing.”

“And then what?” said Wanda. “Then what happens? Where do I go? What do I do?”

“I’m so glad you asked,” the woman said, finally able to return to her script. “You see, we have this lovely facility, all of you go there, you know, when you’re finished. Here,” she slid a glossy folded paper from beneath the clip of her board and held it toward Wanda. “There’s even a brochure.”

The pictures were bright and multicolored, with others sitting and laughing, eating, strolling by the water, the patina of their clockwork innards glinting warmly in the setting sun. It didn’t look too bad. She nearly let go of the handle to take the brochure, to open it, to see what kind of crafts there were, as promised on the cover, when she remembered.

“No,” she said.

“Wanda,” said the woman, her tone sharpening, gaining hardness around the edges, “I’m afraid you haven’t got a choice. It’s time.”

She shook her head as much as the chamber allowed, which wasn’t much. “I’m not going.”

“But what are we supposed to do with him?” She pointed her pen at the baby, who turned, stared at them and burst into a full beam, his tiny gears engaging as he reached his arms toward Wanda. “It’s his turn now. Don’t you want to give him his turn?”

Wanda closed her eyes. It wasn’t fair, she thought. It went by so quickly, her lifetime of usefulness, her purpose, and now she was supposed to retire off with the rest of them, with some anonymous body of water and a dining hall and crafts. Though crafts are nice. But still, this was her machine, it was hers.

The worker had moved away, but she could hear her talking softly, her sentences interspersed with the cluck of her two-way handheld.

“No, no, I’m telling you it didn’t work.” Something unintelligible garbled through from the other side. “No. Clamped on, completely. Like a vice.” Again, soft electronic murmuring. “It’s like Oh-Three all over again.” More garble. “What? She can’t hear me. I’m away from the chamber.” Indistinct chatter. “Fine, fine, Trinity. Like Trinity all over again.” She waited for the response. “That would probably be best.” After a long interlude of murmur, the handheld fell silent.

“Umm, Wanda?” said the worker several minutes later, the ice in her voice retreating. “I’d like you to meet someone.”

“Not interested,” she said, her eyes still closed. She knew the truth, the worker had practically said so herself, with the conversation she thought Wanda couldn’t hear. She was only a number to those people. Oh-Three indeed. “What do you call me when you’re out of the lab?” she said, her eyes still completely shut. “When you’re talking to your buddy over there at lunch or wherever it is you go?”

“Wanda,” the woman said, her discomfort obvious even to Wanda and her closed eyes.

“What do you call me? One-One?”

“Wanda, really, there’s someone here you should meet-”

“Or Eleven? Do you call me Eleven? A number to you, that’s what I am after all this time.”

“I thought she couldn’t hear,” she said to someone, though Wanda wasn’t going to bother to open her eyes to see who it was. “I swear, I wouldn’t have used the technical–”

“Technical?” said another voice, a new voice, a male voice. “Technical? Really? Is that how you’re describing it?”

“Well-”

“Her name is Wanda, you know,” he said, his tone both relaxed and oddly engaging despite the rebuke. Wanda couldn’t help herself, she opened her eyes a crack.

“I’m Oden,” he said with a half-smile. “I’d shake your hand, but I understand your position. Obviously,” he said. His gears were slightly rainbowed with a healthy dose of age. Wanda thought they made him look distinguished.

“Oden,” she said. “So I?”

“Replaced me, yes.” He took a step toward the chamber, careful to keep a distance. “Flip of the switch and it was me in there. And you over there,” he said, and smiled at the baby, a real smile, not a put-on one.

“What did you do?”

“I went,” he said. “It was time. It’s how it works, you know.”

“I know,” she said, looking at her feet, so comfortable in the only spot they’d ever known. She glanced up and met his gaze. “I know,” she said again.

“The place really looks like the brochure,” he said, offering her his hand to help her to step out. She considered it, but didn’t lessen her grip on the handle.

“What about the crafts?”

He took the hand he’d been holding out and dug into his pocket, his gears gliding smoothly along. He pulled out a wallet. “I made this,” he said. “Stitched it myself.” She took in the uneven stitches and frowned. “I’m not a very good crafter,” he added quickly, “but they are fun to try.”

“Hmm,” said Wanda. She glanced at the worker who looked at the clock on the wall and back at Wanda, her face full of cautious hope. Oden set out his hand again.

“The sunsets are every bit as pretty,” he said, “and the best part is there are no more dials, no more levers. No more chamber.”

“But I like the chamber,” she said, scooting back to be further back within it.

“You like the chamber,” he said, “because all you know is the chamber. Take a leap.”

“No, no,” said the worker, “that’s him.” She pointed at the baby.

“You understand you’re not helping the situation?” Oden asked her.

“I do, yes, realize that now.”

“So what do you say, Wanda?”

She gave her chamber and the lab a final look over. She could probably make a better wallet. She could certainly make a better wallet. Maybe they’ll have pottery. Slowly, she released first her right hand and then her left, and placed it in Oden’s outstretched palm. The machine beeped behind her while the worker anxiously watched the clock, the man with the baby leaning, ready to place him.

She stepped out of the machine.

The woman grasped a crank on the side of the box and turned it furiously so that the chamber got smaller and smaller and the arms shorter and shorter. The man, watching the clock rather than her or the baby, placed the baby where she had been moments before but where she would never fit now. The baby giggled.

Without looking back, Wanda took Oden’s arm, and together, they headed toward the door. They reached it and disappeared into the flash of sudden white light.

The worker leaned against the machine, her hands shaking. “Happy New Year, everyone,” she said weakly.

F’s Still For Fantasy: the Dark Kind

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At the other end of fantasy, my A-to-Z Challenge F-word of the day, there is the dark realm, the place where the imagination turns to some of the worst that it can conjure. Apparently, there are also great bargains, and if there’s anything I like to do, it’s share a bargain, in this case, seven (!) books for under a dollar. It may be the end of the world, but it’s not the end of your wallet.


This is the End: The Post-Apocalyptic Box Set (7 Book Collection) by various authors. Amazon for $0.99. FANS OF DYSTOPIAN FICTION -> 7 TITLES FROM 8 INCREDIBLE AUTHORS!

Do you love post-apocalyptic stories? This is the End will keep you reading for days. Get this collection now. It includes 7 novels from 8 of today’s best-selling writers of dark fantasy.

*This anthology contains scenes of graphic violence that are intended for adults and may be offensive to sensitive readers. Some titles in the anthology are the first book in a series, and others are standalone novels (review average and count accurate as of February 1st, 2014).

This is the End includes:

~Slow Burn: Zero Day, Book 1 by Bobby Adair (4.4 stars on 354 reviews)

~The Retreat #1: Pandemic by Craig DiLouie with Stephen Knight and Joe McKinney (4.5 stars on 41 reviews)

~Diary of the Displaced – Book 1 – The Journal of James Halldon by Glynn James (4.3 stars on 123 reviews)

~Earthfall by Stephen Knight (4.0 stars on 142 reviews)

~Contamination Prequel (Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Series) by T.W. Piperbrook (3.8 stars on 48 reviews)

~Affliction Z: Patient Zero (Post Apocalyptic Thriller) by L.T. Ryan (4.4 stars on 58 reviews)

~Reversion: The Inevitable Horror (The Portal Arcane Series – Book I) by J. Thorn (3.9 stars on 33 reviews)

Any fan of “28 Days”, “I Am Legend”, or “The Walking Dead” will love This is the End!

Download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities. It’s free! 

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Better Living Through GRAVY Starts with B

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And the best part about it is that it’s free! OK, sorry about that, I think posting Dr. Seuss yesterday put me into some kind of rhyming fugue state. Normally, I only post free books on Friday (and sadly, F falls on a Monday so I’ll have to think of something else). But the A-to-Z Challenge doesn’t beckon normal.

By the way, It’s also available at  Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and iTunes.

gravy3Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities by Isa-Lee Wolf. Amazon for FREE. A quirky collection of seven short short stories, each about 1000 words or so. All strange with a light dusting of sci-fi, these quick reads offer a brief escape into imaginary worlds with fun, excitement, and possibly a laugh. Or two. Three might be a stretch.

Warning: If a woman calling herself “Aunty Ida” approaches you and offers a solution to your problem, doctors recommend running. Quickly. Whatever direction she’s not in.

Caution: Don’t try any of the proposed solutions at home, as they’ve been found to be scientifically absurd.

Note: Imaginary animals may or may not exist. How should we know?

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Girl in the Box Free for Three

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A great deal for Free Book Friday: A whole boxed set for exactly $0.00! You get Alone, Untouched and Soulless, three superpowered books, for absolutely nothing. Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Ok, actually it’s a free box set, but you get the idea.

The Girl in the Box Series, Books 1-3: Alone, Untouched and Soulless by Robert J. Crane. FREE from Smashwords.com
This is a collection of the first three titles in The Girl in the Box Series, which are about a teenage girl who develops powers far beyond those of a normal human, and her battles against those who would use her against her will. (Approx. 185,000 words total.)

Books included:

1. Alone
2. Untouched
3. Soulless

Alone

Sienna Nealon was a 17 year-old girl who had been held prisoner in her own house by her mother for twelve years. Then one day her mother vanished, and Sienna woke up to find two strange men in her home. On the run, unsure of who to turn to and discovering she possesses mysterious powers, Sienna finds herself pursued by a shadowy agency known as the Directorate and hunted by a vicious, bloodthirsty psychopath named Wolfe, each of which is determined to capture her for their own purposes…

Untouched

Still haunted by her last encounter with Wolfe and searching for her mother, Sienna Nealon must put aside her personal struggles when a new threat emerges – Aleksandr Gavrikov, a metahuman so powerful, he could destroy entire cities – and he’s focused on bringing the Directorate to its knees.

Soulless

After six months of intense training with the Directorate, Sienna Nealon finds herself on her first assignment – tracking a dangerous meta across the upper midwest. With Scott Byerly and Kat Forrest at her side, she’ll face new enemies and receive help from unlikely allies as she stumbles across the truth behind the shadowy organization known only as Omega.

Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities

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gravy3Well, I’m going off script again, but at least it might make this Monday feel like a Friday. My funny, weird short story collection, Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities is now free from Amazon, as well as Smashwords, Apple, and Barnes & Noble. So it’s free everywhere! Yay! Take a copy. I hear it’s great for stabilizing that wobbly virtual coffee table.

 

At Amazon, the Book Buys You

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OK, that’s not entirely accurate. Or remotely accurate, but I couldn’t resist the joke.

Normally, about now I’d be telling you about a book you can buy from Amazon, but today I figured I’d flip that. I don’t know if you know, but Amazon will buy your books as well. It’s like a big, natural circle of reading. Amazon pays for shipping, so it won’t cost you anything. Current best-sellers are probably your best bet, but at least that takes some of the guilt out of buying a full-priced new book.

And it’s not just for books, either. You can trade in movies, video games and other things, and get an Amazon gift card in exchange. When I logged in, it even told me what some things I’d bought from Amazon were worth, which is nice to know, not that I’m parting with my Zumba World Party, which is the most fun game ever, but I digress.

So you can use books to feed your reading habit. It’s beautiful, in a way.

Anyway, thus concludes this public service announcement.