6 Free Ebooks

Covers of 6 books

Today and tomorrow, you can get six of my ebooks for free! I hope you enjoy reading the stories and poems. Happy holidays!

About the books (click on the titles to jump to their Amazon pages to get the ebooks)…

Nobody Will Like This Book

Plainly put, this book is worried that nobody will like it. This book has seen other books with beautiful pictures and colors on their covers. And some other books have pictures and colors on their inside pages. In contrast, this book has only grays on it. The book has drawings on the inside pages. Some of those drawings are a bit silly, so they can be fun. What’s also fun (and very nice) is when a friendly book comes by and tells this book that being different isn’t bad. Instead, it makes books special.


The Dancing Fish

Buds on a tree grow into popcorn… a cheese danish escapes… Pomegranate Janet visits a city… a pirate captain changes his life… a ghost tries to scare Maya…

These happenings happen in this collection of playful poems and drawings. The poems will appeal to kids and adults with youthful sides that come out for recess. Are you open to learning about new words that rhyme with orange, and which lands don’t belong to the king of nearly everything, and what items are collected by quirky Miss Q? If so, then start a journey on page 1, with the poem fittingly titled “Beginning.” Or begin on any page with any poem. As it goes without saying (or writing): starting on page 1 is not mandatory.


Jumble: Stories and Drawings

In this quirky collection, you’ll find 18 short stories and 68 drawings, which are independent of the stories, although a few drawings echo something in the stories, a fine example being an elephant.

Examples of the stories: a man finding joy in a pancake house, a girl interrogated because she picked up the king’s rolling crown, elderly Claude Monet visiting his long-time friend Renoir, a science fiction writer donning a cap of electrodes hooked up to a computer so his dreams could be transcribed, and a group of private detectives hired to research the possibility of reincarnation.

The drawings lean toward the cartoonish and simply illustrated, which could be criticized if you’re of the mindset that drawings need to be highly detailed for them to even begin to be considered of decent quality. Actually, one “drawing” is a kind of flowchart and another is a kind of list, so their categorization as drawings is debatable.


The Minotaur at the Door

Is that an actual minotaur knocking at the front door, or is it somebody pranking Pablo, Miles, and Harry? The three men renting rooms in the house have their doubts about the reality of the creature, but only Pablo seeks to learn more. He wants to meet the minotaur. And find out why he is visiting their neighborhood. Pablo’s journey alternates chapters with the events of Daedalus and his son Icarus, centuries before Pablo. These chapters breathe life and detail into the myth of Asterion, the first minotaur, and Daedalus and Icarus’s imprisonment in the labyrinth. How father and son deal with being stuck in the maze and how they craft a plan to escape.


Other Lives of the Boothbys

Bradley Boothby has no idea why he feels déjà vu when walking by the office building for Rayburn-Turley Publishing. Is he included in one of the publishing company’s books? If so, why? Did an author spy on Bradley to steal his life story, which isn’t all that dramatic? The thoughts are far-fetched, so he dismisses them. But the strange sensation persists, and Bradley finally acts, needing to find if the déjà vu has a foundation. His search touches off consequences for an editor and writer, as they have an impact on each other’s lives.


The Red Tree

While rain falls for weeks, the Engler family invites friends over for an evening of dealing with cabin fever together. And when the spring sun arrives, the Englers celebrate by walking in a wooded park, where they encounter a red tree away from the trail. Guesses abound as to why the tree is red when none of the other trees are.

Life returns to normal for most of the Englers. The father, Calvin, decides the red tree was a sign for him to make changes in his life and property. Changes the family and neighbors don’t quite understand. But some family members can be eccentric, and others learn to roll with it.

A short story about family, experiencing the mysterious, and letting your imagination loose.

Banned Books Week

Photo of double doors that are locked with a chain and padlock.
by Thom Milkovic/Unsplash

Today’s the last day of Banned Books Week, which was started by the American Library Association to bring “national attention to the harms of censorship.”

The ALA’s website lists the 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books from 2010 to 2019. Also, Goodreads provides a list of Best Banned, Censored, and Challenged Books. A nasty irony that books about restrictive societies are included among these restricted books.

I picked several books from both sources, and am including quotes to show just a sliver of the wisdom within these books. Of the lists, I chose books that I’ve read, heard the audio version, or seen the movie version.


“Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

“The longest way must have its close — the gloomiest night will wear on to a morning.”
― Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin

“There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.”
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

“Well, I’d rather be unhappy than have the sort of false, lying happiness you were having here.”
― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

“Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones.”
― Shirley Jackson, The Lottery and Other Stories

“To love is to be vulnerable; and it is only in vulnerability and risk—not safety and security—that we overcome darkness.”
― Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

“There’s a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep ‘em all away from you. That’s never possible.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

“The community of the Giver had achieved at such great price. A community without danger or pain. But also, a community without music, color or art. And books.”
― Lois Lowry, The Giver

“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
― George Orwell, 1984

“Brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared. It means you go on even though you’re scared.”
― Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give


2021 National Book Festival

Tented pavilions set up on the National Mall, with the US Capitol building in the background

This year’s National Book Festival kicks off today! 

The U.S.-based festival started back in 2001, formed by Laura Bush and the Library of Congress. It’s been running every year since.

When my daughters and I first went to the festival, it was held on the National Mall, during a weekend in early September. Tented pavilions held author talks for categories: fiction, poetry, history, science, etc. (The photo above is from that visit — I can’t remember what year.)

Afterwards, the festival moved inside, to the DC Convention Center and still took part on a full weekend. Then it was reduced to one day. Last year, the festival was just online. Author talks still happened, but with screens.

Through the various changes of the festival, my family has really enjoyed attending the festival. My daughters have festival posters — a new one each year — hanging on their bedroom walls. You can check out the poster gallery from all the festivals here — and you can download high-resolution PDFs of them.

A very big thank you to all the folks who put together the festivals. I’m always impressed by the organization of the rooms for author talks, lines for book signings, banners, and so on. I’m sure a lot goes into making the festival hum along.

This year, the festival’s theme is “Open a Book, Open the World.” And the festival happens over a whopping ten days. I don’t typically use “whopping” but it seemed appropriate. That’s a whole lotta love for books! YESSSSSSSSSS! That’s with ten S’s, so you don’t have to count them.

The main website for the festival is here.

Video chats with authors are unleashed! — as of 10:00 ET. The list of those is here.

The authors participating in this year’s festival are listed here. On that page, you can click on an author’s name to jump to their page with a description of them, the title of their most recent work, and a link to their video conversation.

I’m planning to check out video chats with Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Martha Wells, LeVar Burton, Charles Yu, George Saunders, and Kazuo Ishiguro.

Also, as a kind of contribution to the celebration of books, I’ll be posting book quotes on Twitter throughout the ten days. If you’d like to see them each day, my Twitter name is @dwilliamswriter. I’ll probably also group the quotes and post them here on my blog — I might not have a schedule for those posts, though. 

Happy reading, and I hope you enjoy the festival’s offerings!

Book Stack

Illustration of girl sitting on a large stack of books, and she's reading a book.

Sylvie’s parents said,
“You should make a list
of all the books you read this summer,
so when school starts,
you can see how many books you’ve read.”
Sylvie thought that was a nice idea,
but instead of writing a list of books
(which sounded boring to her),
she decided to stack the books she read.

While reading,
Sylvie had adventures in fantasy lands,
fought evil dragons,
helped good dragons,
soared in a hot air balloon to a tropical island,
solved the mystery of a missing key,
flew to a space station near Jupiter,
went up secret stairs to a laboratory.
She stacked book upon book upon book,
making a tower in her bedroom.
Books she had received as presents,
books bought at bookstores and yard sales.

She climbed the stack,
worried as it wobbled,
and sat at the top to read each new book.
She liked looking down
at her bed and toys and chest of drawers,
seeing them from a giant’s point of view.

At summer’s end,
she didn’t bother counting the books in the stack,
as she just liked looking at the tall tower
and remembering the many adventures.


DON’T TRY SITTING ON A TALL BOOK TOWER AT HOME!
The illustration is available on T-shirts and other products on my Redbubble store.
copyright © 2021 Dave Williams

Review of 2 Books by Octavia Butler

Front cover of Bloodchild, which has a background of alternating bands of black and mustard color.

Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler. A collection of seven short stories and two essays.

These stories are masterful examples of weaving world-building into a story so it’s part of the tapestry. Contrasted with a writer stepping out of the story and speaking directly to a reader: “Okay, since this story happens far into the future, on another planet, I need to bring you up to speed on the lay of the land.” Then giving an explanation of the world.

I realize in fantasy and science-fiction stories this needs to be done to some degree. Some explanation is helpful to understand the physical and societal landscape of the different world. We’re not on Earth anymore, Toto.

Nor are we on Earth in the “Bloodchild” story. Rather, we’re on the planet of aliens called Tlic, and humans are kept in a limited area called the Preserve. (Echoes of how Native Americans have been treated in the US.)

The relationship between humans and the Tlic is interesting, as each group helps the other. Part of that is history: well before the time of the story, humans left Earth in search of safety and found it on the Tlic planet. There, the humans aided the Tlic. And now, the Tlic who live on the Preserve give narcotic comfort to humans, and male humans serve as hosts for Tlic eggs.

Octavia Butler had an amazing imagination to craft this story. Same with the others in this collection.

In “The Evening and the Morning and the Night,” a cure for cancer has been created. But it has side effects. If a cured person has a child, that child develops a disease that causes them to be violent and hurt themselves. The story explores treatment for the disease.

In “Speech Sounds,” a sickness has spread through the world. With some people, they can’t speak any longer. With other people, they can’t read or write. The story follows Rye as she leaves Los Angeles and travels to Pasadena to be with her family. She must navigate a harsh landscape. Government has fallen, so law enforcement is done by people organizing on their own. Survivors scavenge for resources and some people take them by force.

The stories in this book show how a world can be condensed into a short story. To me, each story was like taking the lid off a jar and tipping it, so the fantastical contents roll out — but more contents come out than should’ve been able to fit in the jar. Ideas that could’ve supported a novel are in each story. And the stories can ignite us to envision more of those novels beyond their paragraphs.

Front cover of Mind of My Mind, on which a sihouette of a woman raises her arm and rays expand from her fingers.

Mind of My Mind by Octavia E. Butler

This novel is the second in Ms. Butler’s Patternist series.

The back cover text of this book really grabbed me: “For four thousand years, an immortal has spread the seeds of an evolutionary master race, using the downtrodden of the underclass as his private breeding stock. But now a young ghetto telepath has found the way to awaken—and rule—her superhuman kind, igniting a psychic battle from L.A. mansions to South Central slums, as she challenges her creator for the right to free her people … And enslave the Earth.”

Doro is the immortal being, and he has the ability to slide his consciousness into another person’s body. When the “shell” he occupies is hurt, say stabbed, Doro leaves that shell then occupies the body of the person doing the stabbing. Doro’s breeding plan is to create a population of telepaths — which includes incest. That’s in the story, as Doro sleeping with his daughters, without graphic description.

Mary is one of Doro’s daughters, and she develops telepathic powers stronger than any of Doro’s other offspring. She uses this power to summon other telepaths to join her in L.A. She hopes using her stronger abilities — together with the community she’s nurturing — will be enough to defeat the controlling Doro.

I didn’t like this book as much as Bloodchild. While the ideas in the book are interesting, I found the characters to be pretty flat. I rooted for Mary to win, given that Doro is so selfish and uncaring about other people (maybe that happens after living for 4,000 years?). Yet I didn’t feel the depth of emotional tug as I did with characters in Bloodchild.

I enjoyed the expansiveness of Ms. Butler’s story — it goes beyond the typical white dude protagonist of other sci-fi books I’ve read. Mary is biracial, has a single mother who works as a prostitute, and grows up in a poor neighborhood in Los Angeles. I believe Harlan Ellison crafted characters from similar cloth, but I can’t think of others sci-fi authors who did.


If you’d like to hear more about Octavia Butler, the Imaginary Worlds podcast has an episode about her — “Episode 48: The Legacy of Octavia Butler.” The host of the show, Eric Molinsky, talks with a few guests. One is Nisi Shawl, who says that Ms. Butler advised a writing class to write about their fears. One of Ms. Butler’s fears was not having control of your body. That came out in the “Bloodchild” story, with male humans having Tlic eggs placed in their bodies. And in Mind of My Mind, the people with telepathic powers place thoughts in the minds of average people, who don’t realize those thoughts are coming from someone else.

Man, that’s scary stuff.

Across the Universe

Photo of bluish-black space with tiny dots of stars
by Kai Pilger/Unsplash

Recently I listened to the audio version of Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, which was good but I liked The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle better, and in which the Beatles song triggers memories for the main character — Toru Watanabe — of when he was a young man in the 1960s, so the book is a coming-of-age story with cool music references, and triple which it sparked the idea of me possibly writing a book titled Across the Universe, because I’ve been really enjoying that Beatles song recently, and the sci-fi book could be about a team of astronauts on a deep-space mission, and much of the plot could involve the relationships among the diverse crew, since they’re stuck in a spaceship with limited space (the only opportunity of getting a break: space walks, which of course are dangerous yet would increase plot drama), and given that everyone has different attitudes the astronauts don’t always agree or get along (more drama!), but still they must focus on their mission; however, the situation raises the chance of making puns on relationship and companionship, which readers might think is clever in the first mention of the words but would grow tired if they are used too frequently, so no more than one instance per chapter, adding sprinklings of characters saying “I just need my space” to play on another corny pun, but again I would caution my potential self writing this potential book to not overdo the puns, because they would become monotonous — which could symbolize the monotony of flying through space, all that darkness broken by pinpricks of starlight, and readers might think, This book is so gosh-darn boring, there needs to be some aliens swooping in and a majestic battle commencing between the ships and maybe one crew boarding the other ship and the two crews engaging in hand-to-tentacle combat, and I’d rather not risk that potential thought in a potential reader, so maybe the book is not a great idea.


copyright © 2021 Dave Williams

Free Creepy Reads — Stevie Turner

Another book giveaway that I wanted to share, in case you’re looking for some summer reading…

I’m still away on the IOW at the moment, and so this is a scheduled post featuring a BookFunnel promotion ‘Creepy Reads’, which at the time of writing has 36 FREE books and samples to choose from in the Mystery & Suspense / Thriller genres. https://books.bookfunnel.com/creepyreads/2on971tdgp I have added a free sample of my suspense […]

Free Creepy Reads — Stevie Turner