Thursday, August 27, 2015

Smashwords 80% off sale on excellent dark fantasy series

If you're a reader craving an exciting dark fantasy series with lots of characters and themes of personal ambition, religion, and politics, then the Rys Rising series is going to thrill you.

It's easy to start reading. Rys Rising: Book I is a free ebook. 

And right now, the subsequent novels Savage Storm, New Religion, and Love Lost are only $0.99 (or the equivalent in your currency). This is a savings of 80 percent over the regular $4.99 prices, which people often gladly pay by the way.

Sale prices good through September 7th.

This sale is going on at all my retail outlets, but today I'm highlighting availability at Smashwords. This is my favorite place to buy ebooks. The company sells worldwide and makes all ebook formats available to you, so you can get the ebooks no matter what tablet or device you're reading on. You can even read their ebooks online in a browser without downloading anything, if that works for you. Plus the founder of the company, Mark Coker, is a nice guy whose business efforts have connected me with many readers over the years.

See a list of other retailers in the Super Series Summer Sale.

A note from Tracy Falbe: Be the first to know about my new releases and special sales at Brave Luck Books. Join the Readers' List. Ebooks and audiobooks available worldwide. Print in select countries.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Extended - Super Series Summer Sale on Google Play Books, Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Smashwords, iBooks

Because the sale is going so well (and I've hardly had a chance to market it to all you wonderful readers) I've extended the Super Series Summer Sale until Labor Day. 

This means that you'll be able to get the complete Rys Rising dark fantasy series for a mere $2.97 USD. The first book is free, and the subsequent titles are $0.99 each. This is an 80 percent discount and the best price of the year for these novels.

This is an across the board sale with discounts available at:

Brave Luck Books
Google Play

A note from Tracy Falbe: Be the first to know about my new releases and special sales at Brave Luck Books. Join the Readers' List. Ebooks and audiobooks available worldwide. Print in select countries.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Amazon does not have to be hard on people to succeed

Over the past week, the web has been lit up with commentary about the New York Times article that detailed the harsh work environment for white-collar employees of the company. My reaction to the expose was to shake my head. I don't believe that people need to be treated poorly in order to produce good results. Judging from the Times' article, motivation at Amazon appears to consist of all stick and no reward. The article mentioned that employees often pay their own travel expenses. I can hope that people are compensated well, but money is a poor reward for psychological abuse.

I don't think Jeff Bezos, the grand wizard of internet commerce, needs to conduct endless Zimbardo-esque experiments upon his staff in order to innovate and crush competitors. 

The article detailed a workplace culture defined by competition and a relentless demand to work constantly.

At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are “unreasonably high.”

Bo Olson was one of them. He lasted less than two years in a book marketing role and said that his enduring image was watching people weep in the office, a sight other workers described as well. “You walk out of a conference room and you’ll see a grown man covering his face,” he said. “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”

But in its offices, Amazon uses a self-reinforcing set of management, data and psychological tools to spur its tens of thousands of white-collar employees to do more and more. “The company is running a continual performance improvement algorithm on its staff,” said Amy Michaels, a former Kindle marketer.
Amazon employees are held accountable for a staggering array of metrics, a process that unfolds in what can be anxiety-provoking sessions called business reviews, held weekly or monthly among various teams. A day or two before the meetings, employees receive printouts, sometimes up to 50 or 60 pages long, several workers said. At the reviews, employees are cold-called and pop-quizzed on any one of those thousands of numbers.

The company insists that its constant culling of its employee herd allows them to keep top talent and bring the best out of people. I understand that people can be motivated by the chance to succeed in a demanding environment. They want to succeed where others failed and be part of something big.

And Amazon is big.  

But it's not big because office workers are living in a cross between Office Space and the Hunger Games.

Amazon is a big company with a pandemic-like market share of online shoppers because it's a company that treats customers well (always has) and offers a tremendous selection of goods at very competitive prices. It allows someone to conveniently acquire what they need without going around to stores. They can usually find what the need and order it from the comfort of home. It's also a goldmine for product reviews when you're trying to figure out what you'd like to buy.

I've been a customer of Amazon since the 1990s when I discovered I could find any book I wanted there.

These core values that the company gives customers have been in place since the 1990s and early Naughties. I've not really noticed any incredible innovations or features that make it worth inflicting 50-page reviews on a worker.

Its Kindle does not possess the greatest market share among ebook readers because it's so much more awesome than other tablets. It has tremendous market penetration among readers because it was on the Amazon home page for YEARS. It was put under the noses of the largest audience of online-shopping book readers in the country. No one needs to work 80 hours a week to achieve that. You just needed to build a huge online book store at the beginning of the internet and be smart about it. Did it take 80-hour weeks to achieve that? I suppose it did, but it probably was not necessary. Work studies show that longer hours lead to more mistakes and time spent fixing mistakes. 

I'll admit that Amazon is honest about its aggressive work place. In reality Amazon reflects the ethos guiding most companies, which is to treat employees like garbage. They're just meat to squeeze juice from and if they don't like it, they'll bring in some new fish to shoot in a barrel.

Will this make me stop shopping at Amazon?

I've been asking myself this question since learning about the depredations inflicted on its warehouse workers. I'd like to take the high road and eschew Amazon shopping, but the truth is I don't know of any retailer companies that can meet my diverse needs that actually treat people well. I don't really have any conscientious options for shopping.

So, I'll buy things through Amazon when I need to.

I sell lots of things at Amazon too. My books, ebooks, and audiobooks have been selling there for years, and Amazon is one of my sources of income. Thankfully I don't actually have to work for them, but I have no delusions about them treating their suppliers any better. Cuts to my share of sales will likely be inevitable in the future. Bezos, after all, is famous for saying "Your margin is my opportunity."

The company already punishes my products with reduced visibility because I do not make my novels exclusive to Amazon. I choose to sell my creations at other retailers too. I believe in making my novels available to everyone regardless of where they shop. And some of my readers live in countries not directly serviced by Amazon, so that's another reason not to pledge my allegiance. If I was exclusive to Amazon, I'd be in shoes much too similar to those employees sobbing after an evaluation.

I can't agree with this "bruising workplace" as the Times called it. Think of all the good ideas that got crushed by some posturing asshole who was trying to make his stats? Think of all the talent that avoids that place precisely because it is the opposite of nurturing.

Unfortunately Amazon's extreme example only reflects the work culture in the United States. Most people hate their jobs. They're overburdened, underpaid, and in perpetual fear of being laid off.

Due to its size, Amazon enhances the legitimacy of the Scrooge-model of employment. Competitors will think "We need to be more like Amazon" and impose more pressure upon their own workers.

I'm glad I'm self employed.

Source: Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace

A note from Tracy Falbe: Be the first to know about my new releases and special sales at Brave Luck Books. Join the Readers' List. Ebooks and audiobooks available worldwide. Print in select countries.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

An example of horror within the fantasy novel Savage Storm

My husband and I were talking about my fiction recently, and he pointed out that my stories contain aspects worthy of the horror genre. I had never really considered this label for my fiction, but I will admit that I'm terrible at categorizing my novels. I see them as epic fantasy, but some of the situations I put the characters through are absolutely terrifying. Some events leave scars, physical and psychological.

To illustrate this point, I've selected an excerpt from Savage Storm: Rys Rising Book II. It's from Chapter 14. The Shaman's Dance. Writing it was a powerful experience for me, and I hope it moves some readers too.

Until August 26, 2015, Savage Storm is on sale at an 80 percent discount for only $0.99 at all ebook retailers.


Vrostan was thrown to the ground where three more savages pounced on him. His armor and most of his clothes were stripped away. The man who took his boots beat him over the head with them. Then they rolled him over and a leather strap was wound around his neck and then around a thick wooden pole. They tied his wrists to the pole, and then they stood him up. His bare feet against the cool wet ground enhanced his awareness of total vulnerability. With a savage at each end of his pole, they paraded him around. Men punched him and kicked him. Every time he went down to his knees, they took more delight in his suffering.

His tormentors finally relented and backed away, and Vrostan saw that he was in an open ring surrounded by onlookers holding torches. The relief from beating brought him no comfort because he was sure that something worse was about to happen.

Then Vrostan saw Drumond, tied up just like him, dumped into the ring. Drumond had suffered a bad wound. His leg was gashed and bleeding heavily and a bloody hole had replaced his left eye. Drumond seemed only partially conscious and two savages held up his pole and shook him to bring him out of his fainting.

The shrill yells and hoots of the savages switched to a moaning song that surely summoned a greater wickedness than themselves. Across from Vrostan the crowd parted and a monstrosity emerged into the firelight. He was bald with an overlarge head. Bird track-like tattoos covered his face, and his eyes were so pale that they almost looked white. Bare from the waist up, his grotesque body attested to some horrible birth. One arm was stunted with only two fingers and a thumb while the other arm hung huge and muscular from a humped back. His legs were short but powerful within leather wrappings.

The shaman rolled his eyes back into his head and raised his stunted arm to the crowd. He joined in their moaning song and began to stagger closer to the captives in a parody of dance.

He stopped in front of Drumond and unslung a large bag that hung from his shoulder. Stooping, he untied the long pouch and flipped it open. Upon the darkly stained leather mat, two finely crafted stone knives were tucked into loops. He took out his knives and brandished them to the crowd that howled with ominous approval.

The watery weakness of all consuming fear slackened Vrostan’s body. Lost upon a land empty of pity, he realized he was going to be cut up and so was Drumond.

The shaman began dancing with his knives. He performed an intricate display with delicate jabs of his knives, and his hulking body moved now with unexpected nimbleness. The other savages switched to a chant that increased in speed and the shaman kept pace.

The wild display from the dark hard heart of an intelligent predator mesmerized Vrostan, detaching him briefly from the violent danger that swallowed his fate in a whole chunk. This savage ritual brought his own culture into sharp relief. Vrostan was looking upon a cruel, rising frenzy and he could not imagine how the supposed men around him could approve of it.

The shaman’s dance slowed but the chanting remained feverish and demanding. With an elaborate stagger the shaman approached Drumond with his knives pointed purposefully at Drumond’s exposed abdomen.

On behalf of his half conscious comrade, Vrostan screamed in protest. He shouted for them to leave them alone. He begged mercy but his words were lost in the snarling noise of chanting. The shaman brought his blades together and thrust both points into the top of Drumond’s stomach. The poor militiaman awoke fully and shrieked with terrible pain and horror.

A great unfolding obesity of terror crushed Vrostan, and he screamed curses at the savages until he was hoarse. Tears poured from his face and he thrashed desperately in his bonds.

The shaman cut Drumond’s torso open and began to pull out his entrails and spill them across his leather mat to augur some unknown future. Half dead, Drumond dangled from the pole that savages still held up.

Vrostan sobbed. He turned away, unable to bear looking upon the torture of Drumond. His body shuddered from the absolute horror. Knowing that soon the same would happen to him, Vrostan experienced a totality of empathy for his fading comrade.

As he silently prayed to the Great Divinity to claim Drumond now, Vrostan puked. He felt tormented enough physically and mentally to drop dead, but he lingered on his pole. The savages holding him laughed and one came in front of him and started tickling his belly and pantomiming the knives of the shaman that would soon defile his flesh.

Right now the Super Series Summer Sale is going on through August 26th. As well as getting Rys Rising: Book I for free, you can save 80 percent on Savage Storm, New Religion, and Love Lost, which are $0.99 each instead of $4.99 right now. 

This is an across the board sale with discounts available at:

Brave Luck Books
Google Play

A note from Tracy Falbe: Be the first to know about my new releases and special sales at Brave Luck Books. Join the Readers' List. Ebooks and audiobooks available worldwide. Print in select countries.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

80% Off Super Series Summer Sale at Kindle, Google Play, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords

UPDATE Sale extended through Labor Day

Late August in North America means soaking up the last of summer's hot days before vacation season winds down and the kids go back to school. It's not too late to relax with a great fantasy series that will take you away from your problems. Students can indulge in an epic saga before they have to spend their time doing homework. People who aren't in school can load up on ebooks to enjoy before summer is over or save them for those cozy autumn nights that are just around the corner.

Right now the Super Series Summer Sale is going on through August 26th. As well as getting Rys Rising: Book I for free, you can save 80 percent on Savage Storm, New Religion, and Love Lost, which are $0.99 each instead of $4.99 right now. 

This is an across the board sale with discounts available at:

Brave Luck Books
Google Play

About the Rys Rising fantasy series by Tracy Falbe

Enthralling readers from many angles, Rys Rising is a saga spanning four years and drawing together a stunning cast of characters.

You'll enter a fantasy world...

- Encompassing two human civilizations.

- Where magical beings dominate human societies.

- Divided by intense rivalries.

- Where a hero endures all challenges no matter how they darken his soul.

- Where lust and passion add to the sweetness of life.

- Driven by family loyalties.

Check out this excerpt from Savage Storm

A note from Tracy Falbe: Be the first to know about my new releases and special sales at Brave Luck Books. Join the Readers' List. Ebooks and audiobooks available worldwide. Print in select countries.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wolf Land Book One: Bluebells - Historical Fantasy Set in 17th Century Ireland

I discovered this book at one of the Goodreads groups I belong to and just had to share it at Her Ladyship's Quest this morning. Written by Irish author Fiona McShane, Wolf Land Book One: Bluebells looks like it has it all: Irish legends, scary history of British invaders, romance, and werewolves.

To see more about the author, visit her Goodreads profile:

Fiona McShane

Novel is available on Kindle and Paperback.

In 1652, Ireland is known as Wolf Land. Oliver Cromwell’s army have arrived. Properties will be seized. Land will be cleared. Wolves will be destroyed.

In the small village of Wolf Wood, Cromwell’s men face far worse enemies than those in the rest of the country. The wolves here are bigger, stronger, more intelligent. Could these wolves be something different? Could these wolves be forming an army of their own?

Sorcha Moore has grown up hearing stories about the unusual wolves of Wolf Wood, but her fears are more immediate. She fears what will happen to her older sister, Peggy. Peggy is to become the latest mistress of Lord Tolbert, so that the Moores can keep their farm. Sorcha is frightened, too, of her own future marriage to Sean, a farmhand. If the decision were hers she would be with Rory Farrrell, a young blacksmith.

Peter Moore has never let his daughters have their freedom. If he had, they might have turned out like their mother before them – a woman many thought was a witch.

On the night of Bealtaine, Rory Farrell is bitten. Unable to tell Sorcha that he must join the ranks of the werewolves who protect Wolf Wood, he tells her he is moving to Dublin.

No matter what his new responsibilities, Rory cannot truly abandon Sorcha. As the years pass, and Sorcha grows from girl to woman, he watches over her night after night. But when Lord Tolbert’s eyes turn to Sorcha, will Rory be able to keep her safe?

A note from Tracy Falbe: Be the first to know about my new releases and special sales at Brave Luck Books. Join the Readers' List. Ebooks and audiobooks available worldwide. Print in select countries.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Borderlands of Power 50% off at Google Play Books this weekend

If you're in the middle of The Rys Chronicles fantasy series, this would be a good time to pick up the final book The Borderlands of Power. It's on sale for 50 percent off at Google Play Books.

Read The Borderlands of Power for only $2.47 at Google Play Books.

Sale price good through August 9th.

If you're interested in starting the series, Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I is always a free ebook. Enter the magical world of the rys and see if you get addicted like so many before you.

Excerpt from The Borderlands of Power

Dreibrand thought about his family. He was glad that they were not here to see what he was about to do. He hoped that he could win his children a more peaceful existence.

He lingered on the image of Miranda in his mind. Dreibrand was very thankful for the last few years. Miranda was a better companion than he had ever hoped for, and he was gratified to have provided her with a good life. He knew how much it meant to her.

I am ready, he told himself. Aloud, he said, “You were right to hate me, Sandin. I was always meant to take your place.”

Dreibrand ran toward the fighting square. The run warmed his muscles and prepared him for combat. He entered the square on a side composed of his warriors. As they parted before his exposed blades, the Nufalese settlers yelled his name. He passed by the green flag of his family and stood on the ground where he would reclaim his place among the Atrophaney elite.

Atarek watched his brother emerge into the fighting area. Stripped to the waist and brandishing his shining sword, Dreibrand appeared worthy of the cheering. Atarek surged with family pride. He noted the long scar on Dreibrand’s torso and marveled at the tenacity with which his brother pursued his ambitions. Dreibrand proved the nobility of their bloodline and was the champion of the House of Veta.

Atarek shouted encouragement to his brother, which started another bout of cheering among the warriors.

Dreibrand saluted the two sides of the square that supported him and then saluted the Atrophaney soldiers who watched silently. He was certain that Sandin seethed with annoyance to see him as the center of attention.

Dreibrand nourished his bravery with the cheering and focused on his brutal task. He deftly spun his sword and thrust the weapon into the turf. Then he threw his dagger into the ground next to the sword.

Tytido, who was unfamiliar with the dueling form, leaned close to Atarek. “What is he doing?” he asked.

“He must leave his weapons at the edge of the square,” Atarek explained. “They must begin the duel by fighting with their hands. The object is to beat down your opponent, retrieve your weapons and then kill him. You have to use a weapon to kill but you must initiate combat without them.”

“A true physical test then,” Tytido said.

Atarek crossed his arms and then uncrossed them. His agitation was eating his nerves like locusts in wheat. “It is just stupid military bullshit,” he grumbled.

Dreibrand watched his rival move through the ranks of soldiers with one flagbearer. The Atrophane soldiers began to cheer for their leader, but Dreibrand hoped that it was obligatory.

Sandin presented a very different image of himself when he entered the square. Stripped to the waist, he lacked the lavish garments and armor of his station. Even so, he remained an imposing man. Unsoftened by his privileged life, his trim and muscular physique was a tribute to Atrophaney masculinity. And although he had spent most of his career behind the fighting lines, Sandin Promentro possessed the lethal talents expected of a noble officer.

Impatiently, Sandin tossed his weapons into the ground and strode toward the center of the arena. Dreibrand advanced toward his opponent. With each step, the primal intensity of their contest increased. It was the basic battle for territory and authority that men had waged since the savage depths of human existence.

When they met, they raised their fists and circled each other with light steps. Searching for a chance to strike, they stared at each other with complete devotion to the duel. The situation surprised neither of them. Ever since Dreibrand had joined Lord Kwan’s Horde, their relationship had taken the course toward conflict.

In true Atrophane style, Sandin struck first. He sprang at Dreibrand, eager to crush the challenger and redeem the integrity of his command. Sandin punched high and low with furious speed. He displayed the skills of a man whose training has been guided by many masters.

Dreibrand blocked and dodged. He guarded his body and reserved his energy while studying Sandin’s physical style. Patience rewarded Dreibrand with an opportunity. He slammed a fist into Sandin’s torso with precise force. Sandin slowed because of the blow, and Dreibrand pressed close and grabbed his opponent with a wrestling grip.

Sandin twisted and pulled, trying to break free, but Dreibrand held his bare skin as if he possessed claws. Sandin placed one hand on Dreibrand’s shoulder and seized his jaw with the other hand. He pushed Dreibrand’s head back, and Dreibrand struggled to keep his head from twisting. Muscles rippled in his neck and back, but he could not overcome Sandin’s leverage. Dreibrand relinquished a handhold and punched Sandin in the lower ribs.

The hit forced Sandin back, and Dreibrand followed through with several more punches before Sandin started blocking them. When Sandin recovered his stance, Dreibrand dropped back to reassess. He did not want to waste energy and make himself available for counterblows.

Both men were breathing hard already, and the shouts and cheers of the watching armies were distant to their ears. Summoning the fury he felt for Sandin, Dreibrand recalled old offenses and new ones. Sandin seethed with the desire to destroy his enemy. The disastrous engagement with Shan had smeared his reputation, and he hungered for a glorious victory.

Dreibrand launched a bold offensive, leaping toward Sandin and kicking high. The first kick clipped Sandin’s shoulder and knocked him off balance. Dreibrand spun to build force behind his second kick and aimed for Sandin’s head. Sandin grabbed Dreibrand’s incoming foot and slammed him to the ground.

Even with his head jangling on the hard ground, Dreibrand stayed in control. Because Sandin held his foot, Dreibrand was able to yank Sandin forward with his leg. Sandin fell between Dreibrand’s legs, and Dreibrand flipped on top of him and started beating his face.

They struggled on the ground, punching and rolling and wrestling out of each other’s pins. The vicious spectacle enthralled its watchers. The stakes were high for the men of Nufal, and they cheered for Dreibrand faithfully. The Atrophane soldiers were astounded and even flattered by the sight of two nobles grappling like starved bears for command. It thrilled them to actually see the Darhet fight like a true warrior, and it was equally intriguing to watch Dreibrand pour all his strength into claiming Sandin’s position.

Whoever won, they would gladly follow him.

Read The Borderlands of Power for only $2.47 at Google Play Books.

Sale price good through August 9th.

A note from Tracy Falbe: Be the first to know about my new releases and special sales at Brave Luck Books. Join the Readers' List. Ebooks and audiobooks available worldwide. Print in select countries.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Wolves are inspiring - Consider this example of the merciful alpha male

Although wolves are born to be killers and are quite savage in the execution of the deed, they do not act thoughtlessly. They might even be moved to mercy during disputes with their own species.

An excerpt from the book Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel by Carl Safina, published at Salon, shared amazing observations about a wolf at Yellowstone National Park known as Twenty-One.

Twenty-One was an alpha male. The researcher, Rick McIntyre, described him as a "legend" who "never lost a fight."

“If ever there was a perfect wolf, it was Twenty-One,” says Rick, using the wolf’s research-collar number as his name. “He was like a fictional character.
“Twice, I saw Twenty-One take on six attacking wolves from a rival pack — and rout them all,” Rick recalls. “I’d think, ‘A wolf can’t do what I am watching this wolf do.’ Watching him felt like seeing Bruce Lee fighting.”
Wolf territorial fights resemble human tribal warfare. Wolves often target the rival pack’s alphas, seemingly understanding that if they can rout or kill the experienced leaders, victory will be theirs.
Twenty-One distinguished himself in two ways: He never lost a fight, and he never killed a vanquished rival.
When Twenty-One eventually died of old age, a particularly troublesome rival male that Twenty-One had granted mercy became the pack alpha. The researcher speculated that  the wolf had been merciful because his status had been proven by victory, and a kill was not necessary to further prove status. And perhaps the animal had an innate sense that the bold rival would be able to contribute his strength to the survival of the pack one day. 

I found this article compelling because of the evidence of mercy. As I write the Werewolves in the Renaissance series, I've been continually researching wolves in order to give Thal, my werewolf hero, wolf-like nuances.

In the story, he has exhibited mercy on more than one occasion with other werewolves. He felt a need to give one of his own kind a chance. He knew he could defeat them because of his superior power, but he wanted to gain their loyalty more than their death. When I came across this article, it seemed to me that Thal's motivations made sense in a wolf-way.

Werelord Thal: A Renaissance Werewolf Tale by Tracy Falbe

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. Although wanted for Devil worship and shape shifting, he still boldly walks the streets of 16th century Prague. Jesuits hunt him. Mercenaries fear him. Musicians sing his praise, and women are captivated by his alpha swagger.

Free ebook




Paperback at Amazon

Journey of the Hunted: Werewolves in the Renaissance 2

The folklore beliefs of the 16th century Renaissance come wildly to life in the werewolf hero Thal. Created by the infamous sorcerer Sarputeen, Thal now battles the dark servants of Tekax, wizard to the Turks and nemesis of Sarputeen. While escaping the Holy Roman Empire, Thal discovers more about his werewolf powers as he struggles to reach a refuge shrouded in mystery.
$2.99 ebook




Paperback at Amazon

Ebooks also available at many retailer outlets. Use the retailer buttons on the left sidebar.


A note from Tracy Falbe: Be the first to know about my new releases and special sales at Brave Luck Books. Join the Readers' List. Ebooks and audiobooks available worldwide. Print in select countries.