It’s Indie August and my TBR list somehow continues to grow. I don’t have a ton of writing progress I can share yet, as the Indie Ink Awards have kept me busy. Still, I wanted to make sure you knew about some incredible book opportunities coming up this weekend!
What have I been reading?
I read Nophek Glossby Essa Hansen and it was brilliant exploration of found family, the dark side of revenge, and how much we have to lose especially when grief blinds us to what all we still have. Highly recommended!
I followed it up with The Last Gifts of the Universe by Rory August, which has to be one of my favorite books this year. Brilliantly done, it’s a tale of grief and life and what it all means when we’re up against the vast emptiness of space.
Look out for full reviews of each of these to come!
I’m currently readingBonds of Promise (Kallattian Cycle #1) by Andrew D. Meredith but I think I’ll have to abandon it. It’s a story focused on mercenary siblings and their adventures day-to-day in a second-world setting complete with its own ecology and original races. However, it’s just not for me–if it sounds interesting though, definitely give it a try!
I also picked upThe Eternal Muse: Desecration by Rick Waugh, which I am enjoying. It’s a bit distant in narrative terms for my taste, and it’s set in a familiar vaguely medieval-Europe world, but the magic system is a soft magic system built off sound, and I really love that idea.
Indie Ink Awards
The Indie Ink Awards have been going astoundingly well– I never guessed we’d get so many nominations our very first year. Over 5,000 nominations were logged across 367 books. Tomorrow, voting begins, so definitely check it out and vote for your favorite in each category!
We’re still looking for reader-judges for the final stage of the contest, too, so if you’re interested in that, you can fill out the application here.
Today’s freebie is …. a flash fiction story! I won a flash fiction prompt contest over on the SFF Oasis Discord, and wanted to share it with you all.
The prompt was “Smoke hung so thick in the library’s rafters that she could read words in it.”
Bode stared at the words the billowing smoke had formed. The smoke stung her eyes and made them water. When she blinked, the words had gone. She glanced around at the Library, torn by indecision.
Every Librarian was taught the dangers of fire. That was why only the orbs could be used for illumination. No heat, no flame, no chance of damage to the books. Bode hadn’t even actually seen fire for over twenty years now, since she was Selected by the Library. Not since she began seeing the spirit-words. But smoke meant fire, meant that someone had been careless, and all these books would die.
Smoke also meant she had to get out, or she would die.
But “stay hidden.” That was the message. And the last time she’d disobeyed a message… Well, she wasn’t doing that again.
The smoke swirled ominously, and Bode scrambled into action. Somewhere to hide… somewhere she wouldn’t also die of smoke inhalation. But hide from what? From whom?
How could she hide when she didn’t even know the basics of the test?
Bode’s bare feet lead her to the 201020 block, and she sped into the stacks there. The smoke was less thick here—the poor 304627 block was getting the worst of it. If those books didn’t die, they’d be sick of smoke inhalation for sure, and she pitied the poor interns who would have to clean the smoke they belched out and wipe their soot-stained pages. Her chest tightened, and she pressed one long-fingered green hand to her heart. Please, please, let the books survive.
The stacks of the 201020 block were like home, and the books rustled their pages at her, like wings of startled birds, unsure where to fly. Bode crooned to them, until another swirl of smoke whisked past: Hide!
Punctuation only appeared in 0.03% of the ghost-writing. Dropping her voice to the barest whisper, she did her best to comfort the books she passed, crawling on her belly along the carpeted floor. The soot-stained carpet had eaten the sounds of the intruders, but as she pressed herself to the floor, she could feel the vibrations of footsteps, carried to her by the underflooring.
The words appeared in the grain of the wooden sign proclaiming the origin of these books: Sector 49731.67, Time Index 2301.84.
Claws scrambling for purchase on the once-lush flooring, Bode dove to her right at the gap between bookcases and pulled her tail in after her, tucking herself into a tiny ball barely taller than the words of the spines next to her. She longed to press her face into her knees, but if she did that, she wouldn’t be able to read. So she gripped all twelve of her legs until her knuckles turned pink with the pressure, and stubbornly kept all four eyes wide open.
Across the Library, books wailed and wept, screamed and cursed as they died. Block 205111. The religious books were always particularly creative in their curses, and Bode bared her teeth in a vengeful smile. Creative curses were the best kind—so long as you were observing, not receiving.
Block 410411 was pleading for help. Books of millions of languages alive and dead from all sectors and time indices exerted the effort to make their printed words sound, carried by the arches of the Library to her ears. The anger in them chilled Bode—she was glad she was a day’s walk from that block. The sound must be enough to burst organic eardrums. Still, she longed to go to them and soothe them.
Nearby pages fluttered. Her sharp triangular ears pivoted to hone in. Two bookcases from her, footsteps creaked across the floor. They paced closer, and Bode hardly dared breathe.
“I don’t see any more.” The voice was high-pitched, melodic.
“We have to get all the Librarians. Otherwise, the Library will just begin anew.” Another light, bell-like voice tinkled into being.
“Once these books are gone, Exalted Klshfi will sleep easier, without having to fight for his every stance.”
Bode’s ears flattened. So this wasn’t an accident. There wasn’t much she hated more than people in power destroying inconvenient knowledge. And yet it happened, again and again, books falling ill or in the worst cases dying, from all sectors and time indices, from the plague of willful ignorance. It was part of the reason they had Librarians.
Eight steps away. Six.
“What about the other sections?” The voice belonged to a blue-feathered biped, walking in a half crouch.
“Let them burn.” Its companion, a bolder blue in color, trailed a half-step behind, beak swiveling as it looked around.
Bode stifled her hiss. Her muscles tensed to spring, but she held herself back. The words had said to stay hidden. But the intruders had said they were looking for Librarians. Was she the only one left?
The words shimmered on the covers beside her. Bode obeyed, but her purple eyes remained fixed on the feathered bipeds. Heads swiveling, they passed by. Bode leaned forward, craning her long neck to see them turn the corner. Maybe she could find the other Librarians. Maybe she could free them.
The spirit-words didn’t forbid her. The intruders turned a corner, and Bode crawled, belly low, out of her hiding place. She froze in indecision. This was a test—she could tell by the itching of the back of her neck.
What did the Library want of her? She listened to the wailing of the dramas and tragedies, the giggles of the humor block, the detached objectivity of the logic block. She was only one Librarian, but she might be all that was left. The words had been taught to her since she came to the Library. Knowledge must survive.
The portal to the Library closed. Bode stared around her, then got to work.
Sometimes survival was the hardest choice of all. But without her, the rest of the books would die.
The Library must live on.
Coming up: Some incredible sales!!
The Narratess #IndieAugust Sale!
This selection is fantasy, science fiction, and mixed speculative fiction books, all priced $1.99 or less (including free) for two days only! There are so many fantastic books in this collection, too. It’s always fun to browse through and see books I recognize.
Windward and Between Starfalls are both in this sale for 99cents, so if you’ve been looking at reading them, now’s the time to grab them!