Curated by Jefferson Smith
So here we are with the second annual ImmerseOrDie StoryBundle collection. Indie writing gets a bad rap for being full of poorly executed dreck, but hidden in that firehose of sludge, there are occasional gems. ImmerseOrDie's mission is to hunt those down so you don't have to.
If you don't already know how it works, the premise is simple. Every morning, I get on my treadmill, open a new indie fantasy or science fiction ebook, and start my morning walk. Every time I read something that breaks my immersion in the story—bad grammar, inconsistent worldbuilding, illogical character behaviors, etc.—the book earns a red flag, called a WTF. If I find three WTFs before I finish my 40-minute walk, the clock stops, the book closes, and I go off to write up a report about what went wrong, for the benefit of both readers and authors alike. (Check out the archived reports at http://immerseordie.com.)
But this StoryBundle is not just the few books that were clean enough to squeak past my 40-minute guard dogs. After that first round, survivors were then run through a second gauntlet in which they had to do more than simply avoid WTF triggers. This time they had to grab my attention, hold it, and deliver a complete and satisfying story. Not just clean production, but an entertaining read. And not just for 40 minutes, but for the entire book.
The result? Seven glorious books plucked from the indie firehose of suck, plus two of my own so you can judge the judge for yourself. These are not high schoolers trying to score cash for their rambling first drafts, nor are they trunk novels written by established writers padding their revenue streams with weaker work. These are great stories from truly unknown writers who have all kinds of game and are now hunting the savannah in search of you, their audience. If I've done my job right, this StoryBundle will be just the break you've both been waiting for.
But enough about me. Let me introduce you to my posse.
The Girl at the End of the World by Richard Levesque
I hate this book. The problem is thatI'm a wimp. I just can't deal when a character I like getssubjected to horrific experiences. I hate that sense of building dread as I turn each page, hoping desperately that things won't get worse, only to be tortured by the fact that they do. I really do not want to be there. And yet, for some reason, I forge on. Why? Because I'm a loyal friend, and if these brave and deserving characters who have earned my friendship must go through hell, how can I possibly let them go there alone? So I soldier on, if only to bear silent witness to their struggle. I hate that it falls to me to do that job, but I do it anyway. For them. But the author who did that to them? Him I hate. And the book? I hate that too. But it's a delicious kind of hate, and if you've got any shred of a soul, you'll hate it too.Every single page of it.
Colt Coltrane and the Lotus Killer by Allison M. Dickson
I'm a sucker for the hard-boiled detective standing between his grimy city and its final plunge into total darkness. Then give him an ass-kicking robot sidekick who seems more Studebaker than Terminator? I simply cannot look away. The fact that it was a great story to boot was just icing on the cake.
Dark Matter by Brett Adams
When a young man sets out to give himself a "beautiful suicide" and instead gives himself superpowers, I'm curious. Throw in a resurrected Nazi with similar powers trying to hunt him down and I'm full-on fascinated. But Dark Matteris more than just an intriguing premise. It has everything I look for in fiction: intelligent ideas, surprising twists, and a dollop of mystery, all delivered within a steady matrix of confident, evocative prose. Smart writing that tells a ripping tale? Yes please.
Rust: Season One by Christopher Ruz
Imagine Stephen King siring a love-beast upon the dead and moldering remains of HP Lovecraft. That's Rust. Right from the opening scene that leaves us questioning just what is real and what is not, Ruz plunges us full-screaming into the chaotic afterlife of one Kimberley Archer, who is either single and dead, or living in hell, unable to escape the devoted husband and child she has no memory of ever having met. This one will creep you out completely.
The Vampire of Northanger by Bryce Anderson
Jane Austen's long-lost vampire novel. I confess I haven't read Austen, but this modern re-imagining of her work—by translocating it into a world where vampires are real—makes me want to give her a try. My only fear is that her entirely vampireless exploits won't live up to the dark and nuanced balletof inter-species manners that Anderson has fashioned from her more pallid offerings.
Catskinner's Book by Misha Burnett
My most gripping reads are almost always the ones where the very premise itself grabs my attention in a choke hold, and such is the case here. Long-time loser James Ozwryck finally has a life: a small apartment, a regular job, and a steady income. There's even plenty of time for video games. It might not be much, but it's his. And to keep it, all he has to do is let a demon borrow his body from time to time. You know, to kill people. It's a pretty sweet deal.
Pilgrim of the Storm by Russ Linton
Everyone loves an underdog story, but those usually involve human underdogs. This time however, our hero is a lowly insectoid boy, Sidge, born into a race of slaves but valiantly trying to make good in the world of his human "betters." Instead of being lauded for his efforts to fit in though, his impudence has only made him a target for further derision and abuse. But surely that will get better once he rises to a position of respect, right? So all he has to do to win that position is to survive a dangerous cross-country journey with the very people who seem to hate him most. Then at last things will finally be better.
Strange Places by Jefferson Smith
Continuing in the tradition of Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, I wrote the Finding Tayna series for my daughters, to give them images of a modern heroine going boldly forth, taming a strange world that thought it was taming her, and doing so with style and humor.
Oath Keeper by Jefferson Smith
It's easy to call yourself the queen of rejection and champion of the timid when things are going well. But the mark of a real hero is how she copes when life serves her a pile of real suck. Well, here cometh that suck. (Book 2 of Finding Tayna.)
– Jefferson Smith
The initial titles in the 2016 Immerse or Die Bundle (minimum $3 to purchase) are:
If you pay more than the bonus price of just $12, you get all five of the regular titles, plus four more:
The bundle is available for a very limited time only, via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!
It's also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.
Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.
StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.