5 Ways Reading Can Help You Get Through Coronavirus Shutdowns

As coronavirus infections start to shut down Michigan again, I know that many people around the world are facing the same thing. At best, you’ll spend your off hours stuck at home this winter because of cancelled events, closed bars, and a general desire not to get infected.

With all the unscheduled hours of free time probably coupled with a constrained income, reading books remains affordable and perhaps therapeutic. I like watching Netflix too, but I don’t always feel like watching shows.

Enter the humble book as a way to get through the long winter days and nights that await us all.

Signal that you’re having alone time

For those of us with introverted tendencies, sharing a home with family members or roommates who don’t go out, go to school, work at home now, or who’ve lost jobs makes alone time scarce. Sticking your nose in a book is a method for segregating yourself from the household group. Reading signals that you don’t wish to talk although you’ll likely have to explain this to some people who can’t pick up on an obvious hint.

2. Stop doomscrolling

You keep checking the news because deep down you’re hoping for that headline that says it’s all over and life can be normal again. That is not going to happen any time soon, so you might as well as escape from the world by finding a good book.

3. Rediscover the joy of long-form reading

Tweets, updates, posts, memes. These things are nice and serve various purposes, but if they are the only media that you consume, your brain will lose the strength to concentrate. A novel lets you concentrate on another world without resorting to the constant stream of upsetting information clogging the internet. Unplug with a book and build your mind back up.

4. Try a new genre

I totally understand the feeling of fussiness that arises when picking out a book. You want something just right. The need to pass time at home however gives you a chance to broaden your horizons. If you’ve never read a thriller before give one a try. If you’ve never considered historical romance, why not now? Something fresh on your reading list could rekindle your excitement for reading fiction.

5. Get better at managing fear

The world is scary right now…more than usual I guess. Fictional worlds, especially where horrible things happen to characters, allow readers to process their fears in the safe environment of their minds. Fiction can inspire you to be braver because you essentially get to role play dealing with danger through stories.

Many times I’ve found courage by telling myself that if Frodo and Sam can walk alone into Mordor, then I can handle what is in front of me.

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Historical fantasy novel involving witchcraft

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4 of the Best Fantasy and Sci Fi Titles on Netflix November 2020

Netflix has a few good titles to offer fans of sci fi and fantasy. Right now in November 2020, I can recommend some that I think are worth your time.

Beowulf

This 2007 production used live actors enhanced by animation. The effect was a little disconcerting to me at first but don’t let that stop you from watching this one. Directed by Robert Zemeckis with a screenplay by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary, the movie presents a brilliant interpretation of the Old English epic Beowulf. Angelina Jolie is unforgettable as Grendel’s mother, and Ray Wintstone, Robin Wright, John Malkovich and Anthony Hopkins deliver marvelous performances. I own this movie on DVD as well and have watched it many times. I find something new to appreciate every time that I watch it. Be sure to enjoy it while it’s on Netflix.

The Witcher

It’s hard to imagine that any fantasy fan has failed to watch the first season the Witcher, but if you’ve been in jail or something, be sure to watch it. I especially love the character of Yennefer, and everyone likes Geralt although he is rather grumpy. The nonlinear overlapping layers of the story are a bit tricky, but it all comes together in an amazing way. The Witcher is truly an above average fantasy television show. The wait for season 2 shall be long and difficult.

Jupiter Ascending

This movie is just so much good sci fi fun. I can’t imagine why this was not a huge hit when it was in theaters. That it’s only rated 5.3 out of 10 at IMBd proves that there’s something wrong with the world. Written and directed by the Wachowskis, the movie stars Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum. The fact that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is one of the producers of Jupiter Ascending makes the story of a galactic super race farming and harvesting humans to produce an elixir that prolongs life even creepier.

The Frankenstein Chronicles

I’ve watched season 1 of this series loosely inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Sean Bean plays the lead character, and his performance is moving and a bit riveting to tell the truth. Although I recommend the series, it’s so horrifying to me that I’ve been working up my courage before diving into season 2.

Download a free ebook copy of the epic fantasy Rys Rising: Book I.

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Using a Secret Love Affair to Increase Drama in Fiction

Most fiction readers separate into two camps. Some want or at least don’t mind love stories or sexual situations in the books that they reads. Others really don’t want sexual tension or issues in their stories. As a reader and an author, I fall into the first camp. Although not all stories need or can tolerate a love interest, I generally like love or lust in fiction.

Big stories sometimes call for big relationships

Epic tales that involve young heroes and heroines and with narrative arcs that span years would seem quite lacking if no one ever had relationships. The passionate details of a character’s personal life can inject more emotion and tension into a story. The stakes are high on the front lines and on the home front. Will he get killed? Will she get caught?

Fictional characters with sex lives come across as realistic

Critics might argue that using romance to heighten the emotional stakes detracts from an otherwise gripping narrative or that the romance is used to hide a lackluster story. I’m not sure how an affair, fling, intense romance, or even marriage would detract from a good story. Giving characters sex lives, or at least the desire for sex or love, increases the depth of a character. Realistically, most people are involved in a relationship or at least vaguely interested in having one if the opportunity presents itself.

Bad choices for flawed heroes

Love affairs in stories can also be used to make a hero flawed. This can be dangerous territory as an author because I want to create someone you want to root for and then give him some disappointing traits. I might infuriate a reader. I might lose a reader, or a reader might soldier on alongside a character after coming to forgive him or her. Either way, I’ll at least know that I provoked emotion within a reader, and for that I can be proud.

Authors making readers angry

Trust me, I know how hard it can be to have a beloved character commit adultery. The Poldark Series written by Winston Graham and adapted for British Television (spoiler alert if you keep reading) took a devastating turn when Ross cheated on Demelza with Elizabeth. I stopped the series for a few weeks because I just couldn’t stand what had happened. Eventually, I had to go back to the series. The whole story had made the encounter between Ross and Elizabeth inevitable. Now I had to go back and find out how things worked out with Demelza, who was truly the love of Ross’s life.

I know from my own writing, that I made choices for characters in the Rys Rising series that caused readers difficulty. My young hero Cruce, who is age 18 to 21 in the saga, becomes involved with a married woman. He remains involved with her even after he tries to forget his feelings for her and gets married. So his continued dalliances are doubly adulterous.

I cast his moral failures against the setting of terrible war and calamity for his people. He fights valiantly to defend his people and he is openly regarded as a hero by the public. Although readers might be quick to judge him for being a terrible boyfriend/husband, I wrote him from the perspective of a young man under pressure who might not be making good choices.

I think it’s entirely realistic that a 20-year-old would cheat on a lover.

Also, as the Rys Rising series progresses, Cruce is suffering from cumulative trauma from the war. He soothes himself with sex and drinking.

As an author, my ultimate goal is to make readers feel at least something and hopefully many things. I want you to be happy, sad, angry, offended, and begging for more.

Download a free ebook copy of the epic fantasy Rys Rising: Book I.

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Excerpt from New Religion: Rys Rising Book III

Outside the walls, Ajel stopped while other men and women streamed past her. The approaching militiamen were staggering with exhaustion. She guessed at the horrible trials they had gone through to reach her remote home. Desperately she scanned their haggard faces and sighed with relief when she finally spotted Cruce.

Grizzled and with dark circles around his eyes, he looked older. She noted too the foreign armor. The blood and mud spattered on it created a jarring contrast to its striking beauty. With a strange sword swinging from his hip with every stride, he looked the quintessential warrior with the gore of his enemies fresh upon his powerful body. He embodied all that was strong and fierce in men, projecting the horror of violence and the sad necessity of it.

When their eyes finally met, relief quivered on his face. To see his raw concern for her and Brayten beckoned her as a woman. Her attraction for him had always been undeniable, and now she feared that it was enduring.

Cruce stopped and they gazed at each other. People crossed between them but their connection did not break. Ajel finally looked away from the open doorway of his passion.

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Free Spooky Short Story for Halloween

Happy Summer Place a free spooky short story by Tracy Falbe
Photo by Jackson Simmer

Happy Summer Place

by Tracy Falbe

Copyright 2020

Mark felt the usual melancholy as he closed the family’s lake house for the season. The good times of summer were over for another year. The honking of migrating geese had replaced the laughing and splashing of children. The last blobs of melted marshmallows in the dirt around the firepit had been consumed by scavenging animals thrilled to score a sugar high.

He was doing the job alone this year. Amy, his wife, had needed to take their son to a robotics competition. He would be lying if he said that he wished he was there. The natural surroundings of Lake McCandliss, even in its post-season quietude, were far better than hours trapped in a gymnasium with noisy middle schoolers. 

He savored these final views of the lake before he abandoned it to wintry winds that would soon howl across the ice. Only a brave handful of locals ice fished the lake. Otherwise, the vast majority of the cottages sat empty until well after the groundhogs woke up. 

Mark had shut off the water supply and emptied the pipes. He had just finished splashing some antifreeze into the drains and was putting the jug in the shed. After setting it on its place on a well-organized shelf, he shut the door, looped the padlock through the hasp, and pushed it shut with a click. 

With his work done, he paused to admire the lake for a final time. His cottage’s backyard sloped down to the dock. Pulling it out of the water had been a beast of a job. He looked forward to when Connor was big enough to help him with it. Maybe next season. 

The gentle ripple of the water alternated between orange and silver in the setting sun. His bit of the lakeshore lined up with the island in the middle of small Lake McCandliss. The deciduous trees had dropped their leaves except for a few stubborn clusters of orange and gold. Their bare branches drew attention to the pines that obscured an old cottage behind their thick evergreen boughs. 

He and his lake neighbors liked to trade stories about the island and its abandoned cottage. No one really had any solid information about the place. Baxter, the old timer who ran, or more accurately still thought that he ran, the nearby gas station/pizza and ice cream parlor/bait shop/liquor store had said that the county registry of deeds had the island under the name of a Chinese industrial magnate hiding cash in U.S. real estate. Most things Baxter said these days ended with some ominous comment regarding China.

His guess was as good as Mark’s on the subject. Mark was hardly going to dig up county records to find out who owned it. The island cottage had probably been absorbed into the estate of some distant relation to the original owner and forgotten. Mark could not imagine ignoring a lake property. He and Amy had saved for years to get their summer retreat. 

But he supposed that he would not have wanted that particular island cottage. The stark neglect that it had obviously endured screamed money pit and hardly invited visions of family good times. The place received no visitors although Mark suspected that teenagers snooped out there on summer evenings to explore and scare each other. 

Across the water, a vacant window on the cottage stared back at him like the dead eye of an animal killed on the road. Paint had long since peeled off the siding like the fur dropping away from desiccated skin and rotting flesh. The black pane of glass reflected nothing despite the increasingly beauteous blaze of the setting sun. 

Movement caught his eye to the right, and his eyes widened with delight. A deer was swimming to the island. A fine rack of antlers that any hunter would covet tilted back over his strong back as he held his head up and swam. 

People who did not know better might be surprised to think that deer swim, but they were quite able to cross small stretches of water and did so whenever they pleased. 

The buck ascended the bank. He was a pleasure to behold in the prime of his life. Water streamed off his powerful body, and Mark admired him in an almost trance-like state before suddenly realizing he would love to get a picture of it. 

He fumbled in his pocket for his phone and activated the camera. The procedure took him longer than normal because his fingers had grown cold. The phone’s camera made a sound mimicking its analog film ancestors. The buck pranced into the undergrowth and disappeared quick as a gambler’s paycheck. 

Mark looked at the result on his camera and was quite dissatisfied. The blurred shape was discernible as a buck but hardly worthy of social media. He was not prone to participating in such time-sucking nonsense, but he felt an intense desire to share the majesty of that animal with the world. 

He stared at the place where the buck had gone into the trees until he accepted that he had an urge to go after it. The light would last for maybe another 20 or 30 minutes. A little attempt at wildlife photography would give him a final small excursion into the natural world until he retreated to the city for the winter.

Mark slid his key into the padlock and opened the shed. He pulled out a kayak that he had just stowed that afternoon and was soon pushing off into the lake. Excitement replaced the usual peace of kayaking on a quiet lake. Technically, he was about to trespass, and the juvenile thrill reminded him that he had become a boring fellow, but he was not that way right now. He would get a good picture of that buck, maybe even a video. And he would have some firsthand information to share the next time talk turned to speculation about the island.

As the kayak ground against the shore, his excitement turned to wariness. He pulled the kayak out of the water and looked back. His cottage seemed farther away than he had expected. The shore urged him to return like a parent whose toddler has wandered into the street. When he regarded the overgrown island, its crowded trees adopted a suspicious posture. They communicated a tangible dislike for the intrusion, but Mark told himself he was just getting spooked like a kid, which was fun. 

He looked around for the tracks of the deer. He had been certain that he had paddled directly to the spot where he had seen it. No tracks were evident though. He looked three times and then gave up. He did not want to waste the last of the light. 

With a final look at the shore to confirm that no one was witnessing his unsanctioned island tour, he walked under the trees. He tread as quietly as he could on the pine needles and leaves, hoping to come upon the buck. The island had the shape of a small flat-topped hill. The feature was a bit strange now that he thought about it because it did not resemble any other hills in the area. It was like a random mound rising from the middle of Lake McCandliss.

Mark could not deny his curiosity about the dilapidated cottage and headed toward it. The place looked like it had been untouched for decades with weeds and trees growing around the foundation. He imagined some terrible scene inside like the bones of a family covered in mouldering old clothes. Perhaps some deranged father had wiped out his family when quality time away from the city had failed to soothe his nerves. 

He shuddered at the macabre scenario. If such a thing had happened, he was certain that Old Baxter would have shared the tale unless no one had ever discovered what had happened.

He walked around back. The back porch with half rotted steps presided over a clearing. He saw some trails crisscrossing the area. The buck had probably come through here. Maybe the local deer swam out to this island regularly for a safe place to bed down for the night. 

The remnants of a swing set were on his left. The seats had disintegrated long ago and left the rusted chains hanging. The thing looked like an abandoned slave auction. Mark could not imagine any good times ever occurring in this place. 

A creaking sound made him whirl toward the porch. It had sounded exactly like a footstep on an old porch step, but no one was there.

He saw movement out of the corner of his eye. He jumped like a rabbit and then froze. A blurry figure had darted into the gloom of dark pine boughs. 

Mark swallowed because his mouth was dry. He took out his camera, but he did not think that he had seen the buck. He had thought that he had seen a person or at least a person shape.

At first he had the normal civilized dread that he was trespassing when a legitimate landowner was present. Mark did not worry so much about prosecution but rather the embarrassment of being caught. Gradually, his intuition dismissed his attempt to explain the situation rationally. 

The knowledge that he was not alone assailed him with preternatural certainty. He spun and someone was standing right there.

He gasped but could not even begin to say anything. He could barely focus upon the figure of an old man. The wavering image that both demanded and deflected his attention convinced Mark that he was seeing a ghost. 

He raised his camera. Despite his shaking hand, he saw the man more clearly on the screen for a moment. He was unshaven and unfriendly and then his face shifted into a toothy grimace of voracious evil. The screen went utterly black. 

Mark ran until he burst onto the bank with pine needles caught in his hair. The lapping water had just pulled his kayak loose. He splashed toward it frantically and grabbed its small stern. He shoved his phone into the pocket of his flannel shirt and flopped into the kayak. Desperation more than skill prevented him from flipping the thing. 

He paddled furiously and only looked back once he was dragging the kayak into his backyard. The island looked as empty as ever but it would never be empty in his mind again.

Mark shoved the kayak carelessly into the shed. He heard it bang against other things and make them fall with a clatter. He slammed the door and locked the padlock. 

His lungs were still heaving as he turned the key in his truck’s ignition. The gravel spun from the tires as he accelerated out of the driveway. 

Mark was a good five miles past Baxter’s store before he pulled over. He cussed a couple times as if to admonish himself for snooping around a creepy island by himself. He pulled out his phone. His shaking hand proved to him that he had just felt true terror. 

He had to restart the phone. He had no pictures, not even the shabby shot of the buck that had started his daft adventure. In fact, the phone appeared to have gone through a factory reset. His contacts were gone. 

When he felt steadier, he finally started driving again. The interstate greeted him with its tedious normalcy. Mark wondered how he would tell the story to Amy and Connor. Should he tell them? Did he want to spoil their sense of ease in their happy summer place? Would things ever be the same for him again? Why did he have to see a ghost when he was alone? 

Maybe you had to be alone for such things to happen.

Mark began to think about the strong real estate values in the area. He could put the place up for sale and do all right. That’s how he would frame things for Amy. He didn’t feel like being teased about seeing a ghost. Mark could not imagine that he would ever have a sense of humor about what he had just experienced. With the proceeds from the sale, he could buy a nicer summer home without a view of a haunted island that had wanted to trap him. 

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Download a Free Ebook

Rys Rising: Book I

In this passionate epic told from many angles, the young outlaw Amar becomes a dreaded warlord, the terror of kings.

Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I

free fantasy ebook
The epic begins as Dreibrand Veta and the conquering Horde of the Atrophane Empire reach a mythic Wilderness that beckons with a magical call to glory.

Werelord Thal: A Renaissance Werewolf Tale

Historical fantasy novel involving witchcraft
Thal embodies the ancient magic of the pagan past. He challenges a world conquered by a spiritual system that denies the flesh and forgets the Earth.

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Apple Audiobook Sale! Union of Renegades Only $3.99

fantasy audiobook

Tired of 2020?

Want to go to a magical world where people solve problems with swords?

Then the audiobook version of Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I offers you 19 hours of audio escapism.

Download the whole thing for only $3.99 at Apple iTunes. Sale price good through October 31st.

About the Novel

The epic begins as Dreibrand Veta and the conquering Horde of the Atrophane Empire reach a mythic Wilderness that beckons with a magical call to glory. But Onja, Queen of the rys, a race far more powerful than the greatest human state, guards this land. She has the power to imprison souls and her genocidal rage is legendary. Everything is at risk for her desperate enemies, the union of renegades.

Reviews

This story is a beast – 180,000 words of pure epic fantasy. I read all of it. It took me a month. Every word was worth it!

Smashwords Reader

This is a book that just makes you forget the world you are living in and grabs all your senses and refuses to let go until the last page.

Smashwords Reader

Listen to a Sample

The $3.99 sale price is only effective at Apple iTunes right now as far as I know. My distributor Findaway Voices gives me the ability to request discounts at Apple.

Union of Renegades is available at many other audio outlets if you prefer to listen to this exciting epic fantasy elsewhere. The regular price of $8.99 will apply at other places except for subscription services like Scribd where it is simply available to all members.

Apple

Audiobooks.com

Chirp

hibooks

Kobo, Walmart

NOOK Audiobooks

Scribd

Google Play

Should you decide that you would rather read Union of Renegades, download the free ebook version here.

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How to Overcome Procrastination When Writing a Novel

Everyone knows the cliches about novelists.

  • They stare at a blank page, frustrated by their lack of inspiration.
  • They write something only to deem it embarrassing gibberish and delete it.
  • They organize their desks instead of writing.
  • They decide to do a little more background research so that they can inject brilliant nuances into their prose.

As someone who has written and published 11 novels over the years and received good reviews at multiple online retailers, I have plenty of advice to offer. Let’s go through each procrastination challenge one by one.

The Blank Page

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

You’ve been daydreaming. You’ve been imagining exciting and unforgettable scenes, but all of that evaporates from your mind when you sit down to write. The great challenge with writing is organizing thoughts and choosing what order to present them in.

When you’re really stuck, I recommend free writing. When I use this tactic, I start writing like I am talking to myself. I throw out ideas about how to open the scene and what should happen. I may add notes about good lines of dialogue that come to mind. This process pushes me past the paralysis of the blank page. Free writing releases me from concerns about right and wrong and just sets my mind afloat in ideas. The physical act of typing overcomes inertia and pushes me past frustration or indecision.

After a 10 or 20 minutes of free writing, I usually gain a new sense of direction and can proceed with adding more content to a manuscript.

I don’t always use the free writing tactic. Sometimes I know what I want to do but feel uncertain how to express it exactly. This is the primary challenge for almost every sentence that appears in a novel. To get typing instead of staring at a blank screen, I evict the inner perfectionist, make a decision, and start writing.

I often find that the first one or two paragraphs might not be very good, but by the third paragraph the magic will start to happen. I keep going. Once the writing session is done for the day, I can go back and edit and rewrite the rough bits until something good takes shape.

The blank page when you start a novel is a different animal than the blank page that confronts me when I’m in the middle of a manuscript and need to keep going.

When figuring out how to start a novel, I imagine that I am in a movie theater. The lights have dimmed and the first scene lights up the screen. I ask myself questions while in this frame of mind.

  • What should happen to get me excited about the story?
  • Which character do I want to introduce to start the story?
  • At what point in the life of the character do I want to launch the story?
  • What is the most essential information that needs to be in the first paragraph or two to establish the setting and introduce a problem so that I can build from that in a way that encourages a reader to keep reading?

As for overcoming the blank page when I’m in the middle of a manuscript, I have two great suggestions.

  • 1. I go back and lightly edit what I wrote in the previous writing session. After doing that, my brain is warmed up, and proceeding with the next lines of text becomes easy.
  • 2. Before I end a writing session, I leave a few simple notes about what will happen next. This gives directions to follow when I pick the manuscript up again.

Deleting Unwanted Garbage

To be honest, I sometimes delete writing that does not meet expectations. This is always unpleasant and quite inefficient. I did this often in my first years as a novelist. (I’ve been writing fiction since 1997.) My inexperience made it more likely that I would write something that I would later discard.

Now, with so many writing years under my belt, I recognize much more quickly when I’ve taken a wrong turn. Instead of writing pages or even a whole chapter and then killing it, I now see after a couple paragraphs when I need to start over.

The trick to knowing if something should stay or needs to be hidden from the universe for eternity is switching my mindset from creator to consumer.

To judge if something needs to be deleted, ask yourself:

If I was a reader, would I like this or wonder what the hell was going on?

  • Does this make any sense for the character?
  • Is this advancing the plot?
  • Is it boring?

Being able to look at my work 100% objectively may be impossible, but I can be 75% to 80% objective. I view everything through the reader’s lens and measure it against the standard of “Is this like a good book that I would enjoy?”

Housekeeping Instead of Writing

I get out the laptop and decide to write, but I’m feeling a little cold in the brain and decide to organize my notes, clear rubbish off my desk, or go online and shop for blue-ink pens for editing on paper. Any of this is classic procrastination.

As a novelist, I try to be honest with myself. If I am wasting time, then I need to admit it. I can force myself to stop wasting time with this question:

How will I feel if I do nothing productive compared to actually making progress on my manuscript?

I write because it allows me to enter a flow state and feel an incredible release from my personal problems and the problems of the world. I’m not going to have that experience if I decide to scrape dust out from between my keyboard keys.

Because I want to enter a flow state and feel a sense of accomplishment at the end, I write instead of frittering away my time on nonessential tasks.

Researching Instead of Writing

Oh, this is so easy to do.

Everything that I learn leads to new information. I can never know enough. The details that I learn will ADD SO MUCH to the story. New details can even drive the direction of the story when they are inspiring and interesting. When I wrote the Werewolves in the Renaissance series, I learned a great deal about 16th century Central Europe, the Ottomans, and the Holy Roman Empire. The landscape and history adapted wonderfully to a fantasy adventure.

But at some point I needed to write the story.

To accomplish this, I set limits on research by asking myself “Do I have enough to get started?” or “Do I have enough to finish this chapter?”

The act of writing will raise more questions about what I need to research further. When this happens, instead of halting the writing, I may add a note like “Confirm this fact” or “Get more information about X” and then keep writing. I can fill in pertinent details later.

Remember, a novel is about characters moving through a story. The details matter, but the essential flow of drafting a manuscript is deciding what the characters say and do when and where. I can go back and research the small issues while still making progress on the story.

With this technique, I keep research focused on the story instead of digging into every rabbit hole that I encounter while doing research prior to actually writing it.

Always Analyze Your Procrastination

Psychologists aren’t likely to stop researching the reasons that we procrastinate. The reasons for this behavior are many and varied. In the realm of writing, I believe procrastination arises mostly from uncertainty about how to proceed and the desire for immediate perfection.

Although I have the self discipline to push myself past procrastination, I recognize that sometimes I really do need more time to figure out what happens next in my work in progress. When that is the case, I narrow down exactly what is causing my hesitation. Once I identify the roadblock, I can unlock my mental prison, move the problem out of the way, and get writing again.

Download One of My Free Fantasy Books

Rys Rising: Book I

In this passionate epic told from many angles, the young outlaw Amar becomes a dreaded warlord, the terror of kings.

Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I

free fantasy ebook
The epic begins as Dreibrand Veta and the conquering Horde of the Atrophane Empire reach a mythic Wilderness that beckons with a magical call to glory.

Werelord Thal: A Renaissance Werewolf Tale

Historical fantasy novel involving witchcraft
Thal embodies the ancient magic of the pagan past. He challenges a world conquered by a spiritual system that denies the flesh and forgets the Earth.

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Epic Fantasy Box Set Available to Kobo Plus Subscribers in Canada

Rys Rising Complete Series Box Set

Kobo has finally launched its reader subscription service in Canada. For $9.99 Canadian each month, subscribers get can read as many ebooks as they please as long as the titles are part of the Kobo Plus subscription program.

Rys Rising Complete Series on Kobo Plus

Because I’ve distributed the Rys Rising Complete Series Box Set through Kobo, I’ve chosen to make it available to Kobo Plus subscribers.

This box set will certainly let fantasy fans get their money’s worth out of the subscription dollars. The box set contain four, full-length novels that tell an epic tale of warring civilizations from all points of view.

The box set contains the novels:

  • Rys Rising
  • Savage Storm
  • New Religion
  • Love Lost

Readers new to Kobo Plus get a 30-day free trial. You can enjoy quite a bit of reading before you have to pay anything.

About the Rys Rising Series

In this passionate epic told from many angles, the young outlaw Amar becomes a dreaded warlord, the terror of kings. His ambitions blind him to the trivial diversions of mere female company until he must block a treaty marriage between two powerful tribes. Confronted by the desperate Princess Demeda, he feels temptation again, but the longings of his ruined heart cannot overcome his pure love for Onja. She is a mysterious outcast from the magical rys race that is oppressed by the tabre of Nufal. Onja has commanded Amar to dominate the humans of Gyhwen while she plots to overthrow her tabre masters. To support her cause, she aims to seduce Dacian, a prodigy among rys whose powers have been hobbled by his loyalty to the ruling tabre order. Will he endure more dark abuses for the sake of peace or reach out to Onja?

While a rys rebellion secretly brews, the human minions of the tabre battle pillaging savages. The young estate lord Cruce Chenomet joins the fight. Violent trials and sensual surprises break the trail on his journey to manhood. Packed with primitive energy and complex motivations, the intertwining stories and rising stakes of this fantasy world will indulge your cravings for intrigue, bravery, desire, and freedom.

Read this gripping fantasy series at Kobo today.

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Rys Rising hits #7 in Epic Fantasy Kindle free downloads

After being featured by eBookDaily, Rys Rising: Book I was downloaded hundreds of times. In the past 24 hours, the free Kindle fantasy has been snapped up by 742 readers. As of this moment, it is ranked #7 in Epic Fantasy at the Kindle store.

I’m not sure what I did to earn a feature at eBookDaily, but I’m grateful for the attention. I’ve been an indie author for a long time, and I’m far past chasing every feature-my-ebook website for features and listings. I stopped making time to pursue those marketing opportunities because they did not seem to be producing sufficient results to justify the effort.

Somehow though, this out-of-the-blue free feature from eBookDaily has delivered results to me that are quite dazzling. Thank you!

It would be nice to think that achieving this visibility will give my ebook a chance to linger high on the Kindle charts, but I’ve been here before. Rys Rising has broken into the charts many times, even garnering 1000s of downloads, but at some point Amazon will end the party. It will cease price matching for half a day or maybe a day or two despite the fact that the ebook is permanently free at all outlets. The result will be that Rys Rising loses its status and tumbles back into obscurity.

But my novels are there to always rise again. I can hope that the few who came across the free Kindle download this time around enjoy reading it. A few of them will go on to buy more of my novels, and I’ll have a small dose of satisfaction as an author.

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Werewolf Castle Paperback Now Available at Amazon

Werewolf Castle: Werewolves in the Renaissance 3 historical fantasy by Tracy Falbe sold at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
Werewolf Castle completes the Werewolves in the Renaissance trilogy

Werewolf Caste: Werewolves in the Renaissance 3 is now available in multiple countries as a paperback. Putting together the paperback requires different formatting than making the ebook version, which is why there was a delay between the release of the novel for the ebook market and the preparation of the paperback. It just takes me longer to get everything right so that Amazon can print proper paperbacks.

Amazon produces the paperback for readers in the following countries:

Amazon USA

Amazon Canada

Amazon UK

Amazon Germany

Amazon France

Amazon Spain

Amazon Italy

Amazon Japan

About Werewolf Castle by Tracy Falbe

Thal has found refuge from werewolf hunters and assassins at the castle of his father, Sarputeen. Although the mountain fortress on the eastern fringe of the Holy Roman Empire shields him for the moment, he knows the peace can’t last.

His father counsels war against his old rival who sent servants to murder Thal. But first, Thal must increase his power and that means making a pack. To obtain men to make werewolves, Sarputeen calls in an old debt from the local duke.

The thought of giving others the werewolf magic troubles Thal. He knows that they will be forever bound to him as obedient killers. They will never have normal lives again. Despite his qualms, he is troubled most by the supernatural fext who can heal from all wounds. This foul assassin serves the sorcerer Tekax, and Thal cannot dare to battle them without more werewolves at his side.

Excerpt from the werewolf novel:

Thal stood in the open window with his fur across his chest. The late fall snows had given way to clear weather. Rosy sunlight highlighted the mountains, and the snow melted back from the trees. In his palm, he admired the light glittering on a moonstone ring. The smooth gem beckoned his attention. He wondered who had crafted the ring, but he thought most about the man whose dead finger he had taken it from. He had counted Rotfeng as an enemy but had desired for their relationship to be otherwise. Thal had tried to impose his will upon the dangerous werewolf but had been denied the chance to know if his influence would have converted the werewolf to an ally.

The sun sank behind a peak, and the colors in the moonstone faded.

Altea came alongside him. “Are you intending to wear that?” she asked.

“No,” he said quickly and closed his hand over the ring. “I was thinking about what is to be done tonight.”

“It’s not too late if you wish to change your mind,” she said.

Thal put an arm around her shoulders. “That is your desire is it not?”

Altea knew better than to attempt to lie to him when her turmoil was so close to the surface. “I’m afraid of what is to come,” she admitted.

“I share in this fear,” he said. “But a pack will strengthen our position. In the battles to come, I must have allies. My decision is made.”

His final statement struck Altea hard.

To reassure her, he said, “You make me wish I were only a man.” He kissed her. The soft press of his lips and the firm power of his body dissolved her concerns for a moment, but she did not believe him. His animal self mattered to him. He would never be a domesticated man. His heart would always be wild.

“You wish no such thing,” she scolded.

“You matter most to me,” he said.

Although kindly spoken, the words sounded like he was reminding himself instead of declaring his devotion with certainty.

But certainty gripped her heart with sudden force. Thal had said his decision was made, and now she made one for herself.

Get your paperback copy today


Amazon USA

Amazon Canada

Amazon UK

Amazon Germany

Amazon France

Amazon Spain

Amazon Italy

Amazon Japan

Want to read this historical fantasy series from the beginning?

See more about the Werewolves in the Renaissance series and download a free ebook copy of the first novel Werelord Thal.

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Free Fantasy Ebooks to Download for Kindle

What’s free to download on Kindle changes from day to day. Amazon does not generally allow authors or publishers to set a free price for a Kindle ebook. The lowest price allowed by Kindle Direct Publishing is $0.99.

However, Amazon allows certain authors to have a limited number of free giveaway days. Authors use their allotted free days as promotional tools to attract the attention of readers.

This is a good marketing tactic, but not one available to me. Only indie authors who commit to selling their ebooks exclusively on the Kindle store have the ability to run free ebook giveaways on certain days. I do not have this privilege because I sell my ebooks at many online retailers and library distributors.

Price Matching

However, Amazon typically offers my novels Union of Renegades, Rys Rising, and Werelord Thal as free Kindle downloads, at least in the U.S., because of price matching. Amazon wants to have the best price, so the retailer makes those novels for free because they are free everywhere else, like Apple Books and Google Play.

Price Matching Can Come and Go

Although my series starters are frequently free, Amazon does sometimes revert them to their $0.99 price. This usually happens if I get a few dozen free downloads on one day. I don’t know if the algorithm thinks that it can start making money or if it wants people to stop downloading my free novel for free.

The price matching is rarely apparent in Amazon’s other Kindle stores for Canada, Australia, and the U.K. Price matching could work in those locations if interested readers alerted Amazon to the better price at other retailers.

How Kindle Readers in Any Country Can Get My Free Ebooks

Right here at Brave Luck Books, anyone with a Kindle can add my free ebooks to their devices. Simply select the .mobi format. This is essentially the kindle format and will work on your Kindle.

Smashwords is another great source for free downloads for Kindle, and it’s accessible by people around the world. Filtering your searches for free titles is very easy at that retail site, and it offers the Kindle format. Browse all of my novels at Smashwords. The first book in any of my series will be a free download.

In addition to my titles, Smashwords is a great place to find more free reading material for your Kindle. Thousands of indie authors and publishers use this platform.

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