Welcome to the Awesome Indies Holiday Bonanza! If this is your first time at Awesome Indies, we are a site dedicated to finding, evaluating, and promoting only the highest-quality independent fiction available today. All of the books on this site (and in this sale) have been evaluated by industry professionals for craftsmanship and narrative strength. Many of these stories have won awards and every one is critically acclaimed. Each is a bargain at its regular price, but in celebration of the holiday season and the beginning of 2014 – all of these titles have been discounted to next to nothing.
If you’ve just purchased a new e-reader for yourself or someone you know, you might be looking for books to fill it with. After all, an empty Kindle is not much fun. But it might seem expensive to load up your new device with current bestsellers. That’s why Awesome Indies has served up some breakthrough, cutting-edge, and popular fiction at bargain prices for you and that new digital companion.
We’re also giving away Amazon gift cards so that a lucky few can purchase some of these excellent books for free. Stay tuned to Awesome Indies to learn more about the giveaway. Check out the more than 60 ebooks on sale on the Holiday Bonanza Page.
Schedule of Holiday Bonanza Events
December 27th – Enter a quiz celebrating literary creativity. Win one of three Amazon gift cards ($25, $15, and $10) – Winners to be announced on December 30th.
December 28th – A Celebration of Series. There’s nothing that twangs a reader’s heartstrings like returning to one of their favorite worlds. The Waterspell series is among those featured.
December 29th – Find out what’s coming to the Awesome Indies in 2014. We have big plans and you can be a part of them.
December 30th – We say goodbye to the Holiday Bonanza and the incredible holiday savings. We plan on going out with a bang, though! Also be sure to come back to see if you won a gift card.
I’m a bit different from some authors. Instead of outlining and building a character from scratch, I let one fall into my head. I follow him or her around as we find the story together. So sometimes (oh, who am I kidding; it happens nearly all the time) I get to work with characters who are a little broken, a little damaged, or who don’t always make the choices I want them to.
This means I often hear the same comment from my early readers: I wanted to SLAP her!
If it’s any consolation to them, sometimes I want to slap her, too.
Yet to write a book any other way, for me, would feel wrong. It would feel like I’m forcing a character to do something contrary to his or her nature. Readers can sense this. It can make the characters’ journeys feel fake, like the author is moving them around on a chessboard to suit the needs of the plot.
When Sarah Cohen popped into my head for Sliding Past Vertical, oh boy, did I want to slap her. Probably more than any of my other heroines. She meant well. Underneath, I could sense that she meant well, and didn’t want to hurt anyone, but some of her decisions had unintended consequences because she wasn’t thinking them through. I really felt for Emerson, who still loved her after she broke up with him in college. Stop hurting my book boyfriend, I wanted to yell at her.
But I had to let her do what she was going to do. That’s one of the most important lessons I learned from her. As I write a book (and for a while afterward), the characters feel as real to me as the people I come across in the supermarket, on the train, in the gym. That’s what some readers say they love about them. Yet real people don’t always make the best choices, especially if they are in trying situations. They make the ones that feel like the best thing to do at the time. And knowing this has not only helped me feel more compassionate toward other people, it’s helped me feel more compassion for my characters and for myself.
I haven’t always made the “right” decisions in my personal life. Who has? Through writing, and especially when I’m given the gift of a character like Sarah, it helps me grow and helps me learn more about forgiveness.
In a novel, though, if a character never learns anything or changes in some way because of what she experiences, well, what’s the point of having her in the book? It’s a question writers often ask themselves while a story is in development. Sarah, as much as I wanted to sit her down and talk some sense into her, deserved to stay because she had to go through a transformation. She had a lot to learn. I had to be compassionate enough to let her do that on her own, without pushing her around or making her be someone that she wasn’t. And maybe that’s why she came into my life.
This concludes the Awesome Indies Discovery. We hope you’ve enjoyed meeting these eight authors. Thanks for stopping by!
Chelle isn’t a typical 13-year-old girl—she doesn’t laugh with friends, play sports, or hang out at the mall after school. Instead, she navigates a world well beyond her years.
Life in Dawson, ND, spins on as she grasps at people, pleading for someone to save her—to return her to the simple childhood of unicorns on her bedroom wall and stories on her father’s knee.
When Troy Christiansen walks into her life, Chelle is desperate to believe his arrival will be her salvation. So much so, she forgets to save herself. After experiencing a tragedy at school, her world begins to crack, causing a deeper scar in her already fragile psyche.
Follow Chelle’s twisted tale of modern adolescence, as she travels down the rabbit hole into a reality none of us wants to admit actually exists.
White Chalk is a very personal story for me. While it’s not autobiographical and I am not Chelle, I could have been. So could you. So could the kid sitting on the bus next to you on your way to work tomorrow morning. The thing is, we never know what someone’s life is like behind the walls of their mind. It takes very little to change the trajectory of a life. A teacher who takes a special interest in a troubled child can save them, point them in a new direction, or take advantage and shatter their understanding of love.
Rachel Thompson, Award-Winning Author of Broken Pieces:
“Tyler combines shades of ‘Lolita’ and ‘Catcher in the Rye’ in a completely new way, drawing you in with poignant characterizations. ‘White Chalk’ goes deep into teenage angst with understanding and clarity. Savor, share, and use this poignant book as a primer on the brutal effects of abuse, neglect, and self-esteem.”
It’s all changing, right before our eyes. Not just publishing, but the writing life itself, our ability to make a living from authorship. Even in the best of times, which these are not, most writers have to supplement their writing incomes by teaching, or throwing up sheet-rock, or cage fighting. It wasn’t always so, but for the last two decades I’ve lived the life most writers dream of: I write novels and stories, as well as the occasional screenplay, and every now and then I hit the road for a week or two and give talks. In short, I’m one of the blessed, and not just in terms of my occupation. My health is good, my children grown, their educations paid for. I’m sixty-four, which sucks, but it also means that nothing that happens in publishing—for good or ill—is going to affect me nearly as much as it affects younger writers, especially those who haven’t made their names yet. Even if the e-price of my next novel is $1.99, I won’t have to go back to cage fighting.
Still, if it turns out that I’ve enjoyed the best the writing life has to offer, that those who follow, even the most brilliant, will have to settle for less, that won’t make me happy and I suspect it won’t cheer other writers who’ve been as fortunate as I. It’s these writers, in particular, that I’m addressing here. Not everyone believes, as I do, that the writing life is endangered by the downward pressure of e-book pricing, by the relentless, ongoing erosion of copyright protection, by the scorched-earth capitalism of companies like Google and Amazon, by spineless publishers who won’t stand up to them, by the “information wants to be free” crowd who believe that art should be cheap or free and treated as a commodity, by internet search engines who are all too happy to direct people to on-line sites that sell pirated (read “stolen”) books, and even by militant librarians who see no reason why they shouldn’t be able to “lend” our e-books without restriction. But those of us who are alarmed by these trends have a duty, I think, to defend and protect the writing life that’s been good to us, not just on behalf of younger writers who will not have our advantages if we don’t, but also on behalf of readers, whose imaginative lives will be diminished if authorship becomes untenable as a profession.
I know, I know. Some insist that there’s never been a better time to be an author. Self-publishing has democratized the process, they argue, and authors can now earn royalties of up to seventy percent, where once we had to settle for what traditional publishers told us was our share. Anecdotal evidence is marshaled in support of this view (statistical evidence to follow). Those of us who are alarmed, we’re told, are, well, alarmists. Time will tell who’s right, but surely it can’t be a good idea for writers to stand on the sidelines while our collective fate is decided by others. Especially when we consider who those others are. Entities like Google and Apple and Amazon are rich and powerful enough to influence governments, and every day they demonstrate their willingness to wield that enormous power. Books and authors are a tiny but not insignificant part of the larger battle being waged between these companies, a battleground that includes the movie, music, and newspaper industries. I think it’s fair to say that to a greater or lesser degree, those other industries have all gotten their asses kicked, just as we’re getting ours kicked now. And not just in the courts. Somehow, we’re even losing the war for hearts and minds. When we defend copyright, we’re seen as greedy. When we justly sue, we’re seen as litigious. When we attempt to defend the physical book and stores that sell them, we’re seen as Luddites. Our altruism, when we’re able to summon it, is too often seen as self-serving.
But here’s the thing. What the Apples and Googles and Amazons and Netflixes of the world all have in common (in addition to their quest for world domination), is that they’re all starved for content, and for that they need us. Which means we have a say in all this. Everything in the digital age may feel new and may seem to operate under new rules, but the conversation about the relationship between art and commerce is age-old, and artists must be part of it. To that end we’d do well to speak with one voice, though it’s here we demonstrate our greatest weakness. Writers are notoriously independent cusses, hard to wrangle. We spend our mostly solitary days filling up blank pieces of paper with words. We must like it that way, or we wouldn’t do it. But while it’s pretty to think that our odd way of life will endure, there’s no guarantee. The writing life is ours to defend. Protecting it also happens to be the mission of the Authors Guild, which I myself did not join until last year, when the light switch in my cave finally got tripped. Are you a member? If not, please consider becoming one. We’re badly outgunned and in need of reinforcements. If the writing life has done well by you, as it has by me, here’s your chance to return the favor. Do it now, because there’s such a thing as being too late.
You may qualify as an author published by an established U.S. book publisher, as a freelance writer published by periodicals of general circulation in the U.S., or as a book author or freelance writer earning writing income, which may include income from self-published works, of at least $5,000 in an 18-month period.
Richard Russo’s 2001 novel Empire Falls received the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
The fabulous Awesome Indies have granted this book the Seal of Approval. Since its last appearance on Discover Authors, my first Convergence series book has donned a new cover for ebooks and is Now available on Audiobook!
One comment on this post will win a code for a free audiobook at audible.com! Let me know what you think of the new cover and the audiobook reading.
The talented Heidi Baker has narrated the first book in The Convergence series. This tale features a lot of humor and loads of fun. As an added bonus, you can HEAR what all those crazy wordssound like.
Talion is part of the Awesome Indies Discovery blog tour that continues through December 14. Come back every day for excellent fiction, great deals, and exciting giveaways. You can find out more about the tour at Discover Authors.
I’m giving away an ebook copy of Talion to the first 10 readers who ask to be added to my newsletter mailing list. Find out more about the upcoming publication of the sequel, Daemon Seer. Just contact me by clicking here. I’ll need your name and email address. And be sure to let me know whether you want the Kindle book or the ePub version.
Talion was featured by The Fussy Librarian on Saturday, December 7. Stop by and sign up for your personalized ebook recommendations.
Today I’m hosting Tahlia Newland, author of the critically acclaimed Diamond Peak fantasy series. Note this special offer: If you buy Book One of the series before the 15th of December and send Tahlia a copy of the receipt, she will give you Book Two for free and enter you in a drawing to win the full series. That’s a good deal!
Don’t miss out on the award-winning Diamond Peak Fantasy Series. Each book in this new adult contemporary fantasy has been awarded an AIA Seal of Excellence in Independent Fiction. (That means it’s pretty good.) Book one has also been awarded a BRAG medallion for outstanding independent fiction. Get the full series now and read some real magic.
What readers are saying about the series:
“A beautifully written, exciting fantasy-adventure with vibrant description.” Krisi Keley, author of Mareritt.
“A most exemplary work, a real joy to read. The colour, depth and vitality of both the writing and the narrative is stunningly good: the exploration of motives, outlooks and hopes of the characters quite intoxicating. It ranks as a true work of literary accomplishment.” Clive S Johnson, AIA reviewer.
“In a new twist on fantasy, Tahlia puts characters in fantastical situations, but they are actually fighting everyday situations that have to do with hate, greed, envy, and the like, as Ariel and Nick fight demons that prey off your emotions. Her characters are rich in real life experiences, following on life’s journey of emotional ups and downs. I love the relationship between Nick and Ariel. It’s so pure with the promise of young love and the maturity to put it on hold while they fought the demons they were pitted against. In a race to save Ariel’s mother’s life, Ariel discovers who she is and what she is capable of. This is a gripping series that I would recommend to anyone. It has a great moral compass to encompass the ages.” Cynthia Shepp, editor/reviewer
“I can’t even begin to describe all of the action you’ll find in this highly imaginative journey. This is a fantastic depiction of a fight between good and evil.” Crazy Four Books.
About the Series:
Lethal Inheritance, Stalking Shadows, Demon’s Gripand Eternal Destinytake place in the hidden realm of Diamond Peak, a place that interfaces with the ‘real’ world, and is inhabited by demons and the Warriors who hunt them. Diamond Peak exists on a more subtle layer of reality than the one we normally see and can only be seen and entered by those who have refined their perception sufficiently to become attuned to its frequency.
Inside, rocks move, reeds whisper, people fly and sadistic demons feed on and stir up negative emotions in their human prey. Warriors seek to climb the mountain and defeat the Master Demon who resides at the peak, because his death will free the world of all demons. To attain this goal, however, the Warrior must pass through the territories of his bodyguards, the heads of the demon clans, and face their inner demons before they can subdue the outer ones.
The layers of meaning within this series are rich, the symbolism profound and the characters’ experiences, though cloaked in fantasy, are the journey we all take through life whether we know it or not. It is a journey of self discovery on the profoundest of levels. It is the journey to enlightenment.
These are no ordinary books. The magic within them is real. The powers of the characters are within your grasp and their success can be yours.
Run and Ariel’s Dream are prequel short stories to the series. They are FREE in all major ebook stores and include chapter one and two of book one, Lethal Inheritance. Book one is out in paperback and book two, Stalking Shadows, will be available in time for Christmas.
Today I’m hosting J.J. DiBenedetto, author of the Dream Series. James and I are both Awesome Indies authors, and in our writing we both love to ignore genre boundaries. Note that James is giving away an ebook and an audiobook copy of “Dream Student,” so be sure to leave a comment to be in the running.
I was absolutely thrilled a couple of months ago when the first book in the Dream Series, “Dream Student” won the Awesome Indies seal of approval – it was a very nice bit of recognition. It’s also sold several hundred copies, been turned into an audiobook and gotten dozens of great reviews.
And, honestly, I’m really proud of it. What I’m most proud of is, ironically, the very thing that makes the book difficult to categorize: the way it straddles genres and balances several different aspects of Sara’s life.
It’s not exactly a traditional romance novel; it isn’t a straight-out thriller; it’s not primarily a coming-of-age story; or a slice-of-life. It’s all of that – or elements of all of those. I tried very hard to maintain a balance in the book (and in the later books, as well) – showing Sara’s dreams and following them as they lead Sara into danger, but also giving plenty of attention to her day-to-day life.
And in the reviews, I can see that one of the biggest factors in readers’ reactions is what they expected the book to be. Some people loved the time spent on Sara’s everyday activities and her friends and the minutiae of college life; but others, who I think came to the book looking mainly for a suspense-filled thriller, didn’t like that at all.
Personally, I do think those parts of the book are important (obviously, since I wrote them!). On a basic level, I wrote the story I wanted to read, but on a story level, I do think it’s vital to ground characters in their world, and make their lives relateable to readers – once readers can truly see themselves in Sara’s shoes and see their daily lives reflected in hers, then her supernatural dreams will be that much more effective, and readers will be willing to accept them and follow Sara as she tries to handle them.
Which leads me back to the question: what do I call this book, how do I pitch it, what genre do I stick it into? I’ve been calling it a “paranormal romance/suspense” novel, and I’m still not happy with that, but it’s the best I’ve been able to come up with …
Thanks for visiting, by the way – and as a thank you, I’m giving away an ebook copy of “Dream Student” – and an audiobook copy as well. I’ll pick from the commentators randomly, so be sure to let me know you’re here!
When I started writing I was too young to think of what I was doing and have moments of reflection on crafting a novel. My Dad received “Astounding Stories” but I wasn’t allowed to read the magazines but they did have astounding covers, and I dreamed about them. Based on those covers, I created stories in my mind, then put down on paper with a pencil in my little hands so that I could re-read and never forget them.
I didn’t think about plot and action, character development, building my voice, what themes and belief systems I had to, or wanted to cover. The place and the setting came from those cover pictures, and I wasn’t concerned with temporal or structural issues.
Later on, I kept doing that and stopped when I started my studies in Physics at the University. Between that and playing quarterback for the team of Palermo, my home town, chasing girls until I found my future wife thirty-four years ago, put a halt on writing. So it is only when I resumed that forgotten love and got the writing fever again—or my Muse awoke and found me ready—that I started exploring and thinking of these elements in my work.
Suspense is one thing that will keep readers reading; there’s a tension in the pages and it is not resolved: The writer has been busy building suspense. A common mistake I’ve seen with writers still learning the ropes is eagerness with resolving the tension, as if it was a good thing to provide the readers with the resolution even on the same page. What a missed opportunity. Sure, the longer you wait, the higher the risk of disappointing your readers if the resolution is moot and weak. The readers would go “What! Is that all?”
So keep in mind that suspense is your key factor to have your book defined by readers as a “page-turner”: they want to discover what resolves the tension points in your novel. If everything is in one page, there is no need to turn anything
You will notice something very interesting that you may use as one of your mantras while honing your storyline: Where there is revelation, there is suspense.
Revelations can fall into many categories, it can be part of the plot, a trait of your main character, an anodyne, thinly disguised detail that goes undetected by most readers, and creates “Ah ha” moments later in the story. Try thinking of all the possible revelations in your book. How do these fit into your plot outline? If you have many to share with your readers, how can they be distributed in the storyline. Try not to amass all your revelations together and too early in the book as you need to keep up with the expectations of your readers through some 80,000 words.
Characters are revealed through their actions, what they do and what they say. Drama shows people at their extremes. Your main character must be in the midst of the battle of his or her life, physical or emotional, or an ultimate test, a challenge or crisis of faith.
As they say, “If you want to find out what a person is made of, put that person under pressure.” You’ll also will find that a place or a thing can also function as “character” and be developed. A place, or an object can be charged with emotions and tension to rival with the better developed characters of all stories.
You don’t even need to describe your character physically as if you were—and you are, if you do that—telling people about a picture you have of the character. A character is not a pair of blue eyes, blonde hair, fair incarnation, slim or not, tall or short, attractive or repulsive, beautiful or ugly. These are the traits of a cardboard, not a character.
Build your character slowly, with their thoughts, their action, their unique way of interacting with the events in the story and with other characters. This gives them depth, not whether they’re tall and brunette, or short and blonde. You can even avoid telling physical characters and have the reader guess whether they are tall (she’s able to reach the upper shelve without help) or short, she needs to be on her tiptoes.
Don’t tell how they look, show who they are, and the readers will fill in the gaps.
If you need a physical trait to be unique and well described (but only if it is *needed* and adds to the story) then introduce that trait *when* needed.
Everyone can describe the picture of a person and tell how s/he looks like, but that’s not character development and—frankly—doesn’t add anything to the reader’s image of who is that person.
Forget physical traits, get into the characters’ personality and they will develop naturally and readers will love or hate them, but never indifferent to their fates.
Development and character—and how both are framed by time and place, and their impact on how your story is also a key feature of your storytelling. It is a key aspect of your story: where it is situated at a particular place. When I am deep in writing a new story, I have places and situations and scenes that build up. I try to view them via a close up on something particular in the landscape, or via a long shot from a mountaintop or a helicopter or any other vantage point from above. I survey the scenery, and I forbid my characters to venture there with me. I explore, trying to “feel” the place well before my characters are allowed in. Then I walk with them, and I hear their thoughts, and question “How do you feel, here?”, “What excites you?”, “What scares you?”, and “Would you go there?”. Hearing “No” as an answer to the last question is usually a good sign that the place needs to be visited in the story
The plot of your book can be an attempt to illuminate a particular philosophical problem, belief, or snapshot of a world at a particular point in time. In the plot, the writer can and wants to explore underlying belief systems, whether conscious or unconscious. Artfully understanding and using the thematic elements in your novel will result in a work that can be deep and resonant versus flat and merely commercial. Here you aim at writing with your heart, questioning your firm foundations of your persona, and forgetting about making more sales, while concentrating on how to better disrupt something inside the reader. If it bothers you to explore those things, it is a good sign they are good stuff to put the spotlight on in your story. But for this, you need to have the courage to write naked. You will aim at making your work even more resonant and expansive—a book that has the potential to be appreciated by many.
Voice. We’re in the habit of thinking, based on bland television and newspaper reporting, that a homogenized voice is the most objective and appropriate voice for conveying an unbiased story. That may work well for presenting a certain type of general information to the public, but does not serve the richness and color and personal nature of authentic stories, stories that live and breath what life is really like and the gamut of human experience. For this last point, the only reflection I have to share is that your voice develops as an extension of you—the writer—as a character. When searched for consciously and purposefully it becomes affectation. Don’t fret on finding your voice, it will develop as part of who you are and if you write naked—again!
The true worth of a writer is not in his style and voice, but in the feelings and sensations that come alive in the readers.
Making a place for yourself in a world where you don't belong takes courage. So does moving in with a warlock.
“An extraordinary book, four in fact! I read these over a five-day period and found the storytelling fantastic. See for yourself!” —Michelle, NetGalley
“I was hooked instantly. I willingly gave up sleep and could not wait to get up to read more. I’m reading the whole series, and absolutely loving it.” —Sarah, Amazon
“Complicated characters, plot twists, romance, adventure, and magic — all written in a voice that immerses you in a fantasy world both foreign and familiar. Get the box set because you won’t want to leave this world.” —Beck Digs It, Amazon
“Addictive epic fantasy, with drama and adventure. I binged through the books, eager to see how the story unfolds. Great book. 5 stars.” —Di, NetGalley
“An entertaining, fast paced, and well-plotted fantasy series. The world building is fascinating, and the characters fleshed out. Highly recommended.” —Anna Maria, NetGalley
“I was HOOKED. I read until 3 am two nights in a row to finish this. The magic system is unique and the characters are as morally gray as they come.” —Megan, Goodreads
“In this four-book saga, the author has created an epic fantasy world full of magic, danger, romance, and travel through time and space. The characters are vivid and complex. This is a most enjoyable read for fans of fantasy and fine writing.” —Shirley, NetGalley
“A riveting series. Well written, excellent world-building with an engaging plot in each book and well-developed characters. I was gripped right from the start with twists I didn’t see and unpredictability.” —Aria, NetGalley
“Jane Eyre meets Beauty and the Beast. Amazing story, very original. Great series.” —Emma, Amazon UK
“Captivating. I loved this series from beginning to end. Complex characters who mature through the series and unexpected plot twists kept me reading far too late into the night.” —Amy, Amazon
“I absolutely loved all four books! You kept your storyline throughout the four books brilliantly. The characters were all genuine and relatable.” —Carol, Goodreads
“Such a joy to narrate this. It didn’t feel like work. The story and characters take flight so naturally and then soar.” —Simon de Deney
“Lightfoot has a sure touch with regard to characterisation. Each of her characters has their own authentic and convincing voice. Narrative, description and speech are exceptionally well-balanced.” —Martin Dukes, author of the Alex Trueman Chronicles
Castles in the cornfield provided the setting for Deborah J. Lightfoot’s earliest flights of fancy. On her father’s farm in Texas, she grew up reading tales of adventure and reenacting them behind ramparts of sun-drenched grain. She left the farm to earn a degree in journalism and write award-winning books of history and biography. High on her bucket list was the desire to try her hand at the genre she most admired. The result is Waterspell, a multi-layered, intricately detailed fantasy about a girl and the wizard who suspects her of being so dangerous to his world, he believes he’ll have to kill her … which troubles him, since he’s fallen in love with her. Deborah is a professional member of The Authors Guild. She lives in the country near Fort Worth, Texas.
Magic, mystery, murder, and romance. Waterspell: An intricate save-the-world fantasy adventure with complex characters, cosmic calamities, and the gothic sensibilities of Jane Eyre.
Mix environmental fantasy with magic, mystery, and a little slow-burning romance, add dystopian undercurrents, and that’s the Waterspell series—a cross-genre story with too many layers for a single label.