Celebrate All Hallow’s Read! Get “Dead Folks” for FREE!

Dead Folks

Back in 2010, Neil Gaiman, who doesn’t really need me to introduce him, but whose past glory includes the work-of-dark-genius Sandman for DC Comics, had a great idea. As he recounted on his blog, “I was on a flight home last night, and I thought, You know, there aren’t enough traditions that involve giving books…And then I thought, Hallowe’en’s next weekend…”

From that inspiration grew a wonderful new tradition Neil called “All Hallow’s Read.” As explained on its official website, the idea is simple: “All Hallow’s Read is a Hallowe’en tradition. It’s simply that in the week of Hallowe’en, or on the night itself, you give someone a scary book.” As a lifelong reader, and writer, of tales dark and fantastical (such as my novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, now in a marvelous new expanded edition fully illustrated by ace comic book creator Gary Chaloner), I embraced this tradition immediately. In previous years, I gifted classics from folks like the brilliant Fritz Leiber, my late, great friend Karl Edward Wagner, and George R.R. Martin (who also doesn’t need much introduction these days, but whose short story “Sandkings” is one of the scariest things I’ve ever read). Last year, I treated my girlfriend in Brazil to a video of me reading Ray Bradbury’s “The Foghorn,” the story that made me decide to be a writer.

This year, I realized I was in the position to share the tradition with even more people. Now through Halloween, I am offering my semi-spooky tale “Dead Folks” as a free download on Amazon. The story is in Kindle format, but a Kindle is not required to read it; free Kindle reading apps for gadgets ranging from smartphones and tablets to PCs and Macs can be downloaded here.

This story is near and dear to my heart, as it was my first professional fiction sale years ago. In it, a small Appalachian town is mysteriously inundated with pesky corpses from various historical eras and a young man finds he must make some hard choices. One reviewer wrote, “‘Dead Folks’ ultimately reveals itself to be a clever genre admixture that is nodding toward Mark Twain, perhaps the most American of writers. Byrd puts it all at the service of a winning narrator, a well-delineated supporting cast of characters, and a transcendent love story. If Stephen King were given to whimsy, he might have produced ‘Dead Folks.'”

I hope you’ll accept my gift of this bit of weirdness in the spirit of the holiday, and that you enjoy it. Please spread the word, the more the merrier. If you like it, please consider leaving a short review of it on Amazon, as that sort of thing raises a story’s profile in searches and is incredibly helpful to starving authors like me. I also really enjoy reading what people think. And don’t forget to give someone else a story or a book, and tell everyone you know about All Hallow’s Read. Neil is absolutely right, we need more traditions based on gifting tales. What better time than Halloween, the season of scampering nightmare and sultry mystery?

GET “DEAD FOLKS” HERE

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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Get THE SPIDER For 1¢!!! (Classic Pulp Adventure From 1934)

Bruce Timm Draws The Spider!!!

Hey, folks, right now, if you want a taste of pure, original, crazy-fun pulp action, Radio Archives is offering one of the old Norvell Page stories of The Spider as an ebook for just a penny. Click the image below to go get it. I have no idea how long this offer is good.

Prince of the Red Looters was originally published in August, 1934:

Never before had any criminal dared give open challenge to the Spider! Never before had Richard Wentworth faced a foe who welcomed personal combat with the grim avenger whom all others feared… And while they fought — the Spider and the Fly — a new and fearless criminal army was forming; men and women were dying by the scores; and the youth of a nation was flocking to the dark banner of that gentlemanly killer whose battle cry was “Kill the Spider — and the world is ours!”

The Spider is probably my favorite pulp hero, even more than Doc Savage and The Shadow (As I once wrote, “The Spider started as a Shadow rip-off, but evolved swiftly into something much more demented. The Spider tales are more violent, more epic in scale, and far weirder than usual, even for pulp. At the same time, The Spider is a more human and realistic hero than either of his more famous brethren, showing genuine emotion and even involved in a fully committed, intense, passionately romantic relationship.”) I’ve got an ongoing subscription to Girasol Collectibles’ paperback reprint series of the character’s exploits, and I’ve blogged about what makes him so great here (that piece also has links to more completely free Spider material). (Also check out this video introduction to the character).

This is a great chance to try out one of his adventures for effectively nothing.

And while you’re thinking about pulp, don’t forget my current Kickstarter campaign for the relaunch of The Astonishing Adventures of Doc Wilde. Help a poor wordsmith bring out some really cool books and get cool rewards. Everybody wins! :)

Free Fiction Friday: SKULLDUGGERY, A TALE OF THIEVES (Prologue thru Chapter 10)

Welcome to Free Fiction Friday. This is a day, usually Friday, when I will post some free fiction for you, if time and energy allows. I’m going to try to post as close to weekly as I can.

Today, and for a while, Free Fiction Friday will focus on the second novel I ever wrote, way back when I was a callow-yet-dashing twenty-one, a gritty and dark fantasy epic titled Skullduggery, A Tale of Thieves. I started to post it a couple of years ago and didn’t get very far, but this time I’m going to make it a priority. (For the interesting history of the novel, you can read my original blog post or the Introduction page at the site I’ve built to give the book a home).

Drogarth.

The name alone conjures dark images of spilling blood, of blackest magiks, of lawlessness and chaos. Throughout the kingdom children hear stories of this evil city and are told they must never go there — and they wish with all their hearts that one day they will. For children are the custodians of wishes, of dreams; they know in their hearts, in their souls, that only in the darkest of pits can the brightest adventures be found…

As of today, the prologue (called “Exploratory”) and the first ten chapters of Skullduggery are posted. Click below to find yourself in the violent streets of Drogarth, the City of Thieves…

SKULLDUGGERY

While we’re talking about free fiction, you might also check out the excerpt I posted yesterday from my novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom. This is the first book of a series of adventures that I had been publishing with Penguin/Putnam, but have now taken independent and will be launching a Kickstarter project soon to restart the series in nicer, fully-illustrated editions (for more on that, go here). You can read the beginning of Frogs at the link below, and I’ll be posting excerpts from the two novels that follow it (Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull and Doc Wilde and The Dance of the Werewolf) in the next couple of weeks as we get closer to the March 30th beginning of the Kickstarter.

DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM

A Return to SKULLDUGGERY (A Free Serialized Novel by Tim Byrd)

Drogarth.

The name alone conjures dark images of spilling blood, of blackest magiks, of lawlessness and chaos. Throughout the kingdom children hear stories of this evil city and are told they must never go there — and they wish with all their hearts that one day they will. For children are the custodians of wishes, of dreams; they know in their hearts, in their souls, that only in the darkest of pits can the brightest adventures be found…

A couple of years ago (oddly enough, exactly two years ago, to the day, as I type this, now that I check), I started to post my novel Skullduggery, A Tale of Thievesas a free serialized novel at its own site. Then, life happened, and the project very quickly faltered.

Today, I’m pleased to renew my commitment to making this book available, and there are several new chapters up. I’m going to try to put up at least some new material weekly from now on, which I’ll announce here on my blog (probably on Fridays, click the “Follow” button in the sidebar to the right if you want to make sure to get updates).

Click below to join me on this dark adventure…

SKULLDUGGERY, A TALE OF THIEVES

SKULLDUGGERY (A Free, Serialized Novel by Tim Byrd)

Drogarth.

The name alone conjures dark images of spilling blood, of blackest magiks, of lawlessness and chaos. Throughout the kingdom children hear stories of this evil city and are told they must never go there — and they wish with all their hearts that one day they will. For children are the custodians of wishes, of dreams; they know in their hearts, in their souls, that only in the darkest of pits can the brightest adventures be found…

Years and years ago, when I had a bit more spring in my step and fewer callouses on my heart, I got out of a misguided stint in the U.S. Army and plopped down at a cheap portable typewriter to begin living the life I always intended to live, that of a dashing and prolific novelist.

I was living on savings, shacking up in Kassel, West Germany (there was still an East Germany then) with a wonderful girlfriend named Rike (whom I’d met the very day I’d arrived at my Army post), who was deep in her own university studies while I took the time to write.

It was a happy year. It was the most productive year of my life, too.

First, I wrote a short fantasy adventure novel called The Road to Adventure. It was sort of stock fantasy — knights and elves and hot pagan priestesses — mixed with sheer swashbuckling and quite a bit of eldritch horror. Took me just over a month to write, and I got it in the mail and started the next project.

The Road to Adventure damn near got published too. A senior editor at one of the big science fiction/fantasy publishers took a liking to it and went to bat for it with the editorial board. See, getting a book published isn’t just a matter of getting a “yes,” it’s a matter of getting a series of “yeses,” and if you get a “no” in that series, you’re screwed. According to the editor, I had the majority of folks wanting the book, but got two key noes; I was screwed. But hey, pretty good for the first shot.

Of course, that resolution took a while, during which I wrote my second book. This took a lot longer than a month. Whereas I’d written Road with a detailed outline, I started this one with a setting, a couple of character ideas, and the notion that I was gonna write a “hardboiled fantasy,” mixing standard sword and sorcery tropes with gritty crime fiction. And I had the title:

Skullduggery. A Tale of Thieves. Continue reading