QuarterReads is an online initiative created by Oregon writer and web developer Ian Rose. As the name suggests, QuarterReads is a site where fans of short fiction can read short stories for a quarter of a dollar each (25 cents to us non-Americans). As you would expect from a web developer, the site is clean, clear, and easy to navigate. The site is still in its infancy, but already it features stories from 250 writers, including prominent writers in the field of short fiction such as Ken Liu and Cat Rambo . It’s a win-win for authors and readers; readers get access to top quality short fiction for small change, and authors get fairly compensated each time their story is read.

I’m always a fan of simple ways to get my work out there, so I have a few short stories listed with QuarterReads (with more to come as non-exclusive rights revert to me). I’m especially honoured to have one of those stories featured as the Free bleed coverStory of the Week (admittedly, I’ve been a bit slack about blogging about it, as there are now only three days left of that week…).

The story is With “Paper Armour and Wooden Sword”, originally published in the charity anthology Bleed.  In this story I confront what is for me the greatest fear of all – the death of one’s child.

Once you’re done at QuarterReads reading some free fiction, take a little time to browse around and see what else might take your fancy.

 


The Private Sector: The Dystopian Everyman

Private Sector Front Cover

About The Private Sector:
The world of corporate greed runs rampant after the government collapses, leaving police, fire, and social services in the hands of the wealthy. Debtor prisons for the lower and middle classes overflow and quarantine camps have filled to capacity, turning the streets into a personal battleground for terrorists fighting against a world headed toward ruin as resources run dry and civilization becomes ruled by The Private Sector.

* * * * *

In a dystopian world, finding a happy medium between hero and hapless victim can be a delicate balancing act. The protagonists typically are not heroes, and their battles are often internal struggles rather than physical journeys. Their stories aren’t about finding themselves or overcoming great evils; they’re about survival in a future that very easily could be, one we can only hope or pray remains in the realm of fiction.
Most of the characters in The Private Sector are inherently flawed: Dianne is an artist refusing to admit that, in times of limited resources, her profession has become obsolete; John is honest to a fault in his job as a building inspector but selfish and deceitful in his home life; Jenny, Dianne’s sister, is a drug addict who’s willing to lie, cheat, and steal to get her next fix; Dianne’s parents are apathetic, stingy members of the 1% who blame everyone but themselves for their discontent; and even Dianne and John’s son, “Junior,” who is smart, good natured, and innocent, succumbs to a terrible force beyond the family’s control.
Why strive so hard for imperfection? The answer lies in the necessary nature of dystopian literature, where realism must often delve into extremes. When we speculate these corrupt futures, we must see them through to their dirty ends. Their characters must reflect such realities. People are, at least in part, products of the societies they live in. In The Private Sector, they are conditioned into desperation. Every man is out for himself simply because no one else—not even the police—is going to cover his back.
This book was inspired by American rhetoric, extremist views that taxes are an evil that does little more than enable the “lazy poor.” As an American, I can only imagine what we look like from an outside point of view, especially those who fall either to the far right or the far left. As a dystopian writer, it’s my job to look at these extremes and predict the potential realities that could result from those views taking hold. From where I stand, the future of my country is a scary and unforgiving place. I can only hope to offer readers a slice of life from this place, one that is as down to earth as possible. By using characters who aren’t heroes, characters who reflect the common person, I can at least hope that the reality I present comes through as genuine.
As a real possibility.
You see, if I can paint reality as a type of horror, then maybe those who read it will think about the part they might be playing in bringing that reality to light.

* * * * *

LL Author PicAbout the author:
Leigh M. Lane has been writing for over twenty years. She has ten published novels and dozens of published short stories divided between different genre-specific pseudonyms. She is married to editor Thomas B. Lane, Jr. and currently resides in the outskirts of Sin City. Her traditional Gothic horror novel, Finding Poe, was a 2013 EPIC Awards finalist in horror. Her other novels include World-Mart (currently unavailable due to an upcoming second-edition re-release), a tribute to Orwell, Serling, and Vonnegut, and the dark allegorical tale, Myths of Gods.
You can read more at http://www.cerebralwriter.com.

 

 

Buy links:
Paperback:
US http://www.amazon.com/The-Private-Sector-Leigh-Lane/dp/0692393420/
UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Private-Sector-Leigh-Lane/dp/0692393420/
AU http://www.amazon.com.au/The-Private-Sector-Leigh-Lane/dp/0692393420/
Kindle:
US http://www.amazon.com/Private-Sector-Leigh-Lane-ebook/dp/B00WS62ASY/
UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Private-Sector-Leigh-Lane-ebook/dp/B00WS62ASY/
AU http://www.amazon.com.au/Private-Sector-Leigh-Lane-ebook/dp/B00WS62ASY/


Cutting Block Press has a new anthology fresh off the press, and I’m proud to say I have a spot in it with my story “Ghosts Under Glass.” The story had its genesis in a nonsensical dream – three teenagers, a deserted street, and some odd activity on the other side of a fast food outlet’s storefront window. The publisher has this to say about the anthology:

Cutting Block Books proudly presents the best of the Horror Library, Volumes 1-5. This collection honors a full ten years of excellence in short horror fiction. Selected and curated by the original team behind the three-time Bram Stoker Award® nominated Horror Library series, these thirty-three short stories should delight horror fans of all stripes.

Nearly 150 superb short stories have appeared in the Horror Library—and the ones in this book are truly among the best and most distinctive. So come on in, browse around. The Library will be open all night…