FREE BOOK SUNDAY: A Literary Fiction Dozen!

FREE BOOK SUNDAY: A Literary Fiction Dozen!

HEAR YE! HEAR YE!  Welcome to Free Book Sunday. 

I'm pleased to announced a literary fiction extravaganza featuring a dozen novels and novellas courtesy of my partners at BookFunnel. I have more information on a selection of the books below.

First, though, I'd like to do a few readings from my new novel The Rain Maker, now featured for FREE on NetGalley, the leading way authors and publishers introduce new books.

Set in the early 1990s,
The Rain Maker follows twenty-something American women JC Macy and MJ Byrne (who narrates), after JC -- an engineer -- wins a prestigious competition to design a clean water and irrigation system for an impoverished African nation.

A WEEK AFTER HER father left, someone tried to stab JC in the village. I almost—hell, I did lose it, completely. I freaked. They caught the woman a few days later. They wouldn’t need much testimony—the would-be assassin confessed.

She said she had done the deed on behalf of some organization this or some group that, for the peoples of Africa, for impoverished people in many lands, for all people everywhere. She said JC must die because her continued presence was making evil people rich. She was sorry for JC, yes, and she felt sympathy for one so young used by bad men.

Those bad men, however, could not be so easily killed, there were too many of them and, as bad men so often are, they were well hidden and doubly well protected. JC was their pipeline to cash, nearly five billion US dollars so far.

“Do you really think these rich men want to feed the starving people of Africa? Do you really think that money will benefit any of us? Does anyone but a few goodhearted but powerless organizations really care about us?”


The would-be assassin fired these questions at a reporter as she was led away in handcuffs, and I wanted to answer, “Of course, lots of people care—look at all the money they’ve sent.”

“It is the American girl they care about,” the woman went on. “She is everything every old man wants his daughter to be. Even my own father says, ‘Why can’t you be like her?’”

The cynicism here made sense to me and I pretended to be less naive.

“Image,” Mr. Farudi had said.

And when was the last time we saw Mr. Farudi?

WHEN I WAS TEN, my fourth-grade teacher became alarmed at my drawings of large-fanged beasts tearing the heads from men who looked like perfect gents, so she insisted on a conference with my parents and me.

When she produced the pictures drawn by a sunny, select group of well-adjusted youngsters—my father the doctor going to the hospital and green lawns and large, orange sunshines bursting over suburban rooftops with Willy Wonka candy-like smiles—the horrific contrast when my work was displayed brought a satisfied sigh from my teacher, who watched my parents' eyes.

My mother was shocked, my father defensive—the bloody, decapitated men in the sketches bore a suspect resemblance. I sat without sound while the adults spoke low and waited until they turned their eyes to me.

“What's bothering you?” my mother asked.

A ten year old couldn't even begin to answer such an understated question, for the right words would have to be witty, cutting, cynical, a little comedic, and downright bitter.

So I said nothing and my face got real hot. I looked at my father who wasn't looking at me, but at one of the pictures of happiness.

Nothing was resolved when we got up to leave. My parents thanked Mrs. What-Was-Her-Face and all agreed that I should take a Rorschach test, where everyone suspected I would see tigers and monsters and bloodthirsty fang-a-ma-jigs.

I never took the test (all was, in time, forgotten) but I resolved that my only future as an artist in Mrs. What-Was-Her-Face's class lie in still life or landscapes, where hares peeped from holes in rotten logs and girls in dresses walked with parasols on dry, cloudy days.

I'M RUNNING NOW, THINKING, on the grounds of Project Savanna Prototype One, or Ko Amba Balu, the native term, which roughly translated means Rain Maker I think. Or House of the Rain Maker. Rain Maker’s Eden. Rain Maker’s Paradise.

It’s unbelievable, really. It’s the first set of structures in the prototype community, a Shangri-La in the middle of a wasteland. But I’m getting ahead of myself and I haven’t even had lunch.

This place is obscene. They wait on us hand and foot. Gold plated everything. Even the toilet seats! Real gold leaf! A golden shitter. Need I say more?

“Image,” I could hear Mr. Farudi emphasize. “Image is priceless and must be maintained without regard to cost.”

A light airplane or helicopter carried you onto the estate as you left the starving hordes behind and flew in over the desolate savanna, staring down at skinny herdsmen prodding bony goats through brown grass.

Then, green. Bountiful, emerald, chemicaled-to-perfection, Home-and-Garden-lawn, George Washington-dollar green, rolling for acres. I saw a tanker truck spraying lab-perfected nutrients around. There are oasis-like ponds with blue water and trees, every kind that can grow here.

Everything was irrigated and manicured. Walkways made of mottled marble stretched past a statue here, a fountain there, ending as all roads did, at the main house, a white fortress of inappropriate dimension. In a broad sweep of the eye, Ko Amba Balu was a visual testimony to the gaudy and plentiful: the perfect carpet of flora, the giant house, water and wealth and righteous abundance.

WE GOT ALONG BETTER after our respective revelations although I got pissed at JC when she told me about the coke in New York.

What is it with Western Civilization? We used to shelter our prodigies and nurture them. Now we toss them to the lions and lick our fangs when they’re torn apart. Who’s watching out for this girl? She’s supposed to be so valuable.

One thing I am proud of—our experiment in opportunity appeared a smashing success. The village women took better care of the grounds than the imported gardeners, and they’re feeding their settlements more than just hot gruel on their incomes. I spent a lot of time with those women and to me the whole thing was no small accomplishment.

We left the next day for the construction site. They needed JC and I knew she’d be staying behind there. Rick escorted us. I was caught off guard when we arrived. Weeks had passed since our visit with Mr. Toshiro Tanaka and hardly anything at the site had changed.

At least, that’s the way it looked. These giant steel turbines that made us all look like ants were sitting not far from the dam. When I examined them closely, I could see pinhead pits of rust erupting under the paint, the first nibbles of decay. Concrete blocks were piled high in once cleared areas where savanna grass was taking back over.

And the dam had cracks in it. How could you have a dam with cracks in it?

“Shit,” JC kept saying.

Some bespectacled, obsequious runt ran down to greet us and launched into this spiel about construction delays, funding problems, controversy, blah blah blah. What it all meant was that Project Savanna was being stifled by the bureaucracy.

Those Western forces again, and those Eastern forces, human nature one and all.  To JC, the artist, it meant one thing: that the best laid plans of mice and men were being trampled by the rats.




The Rain Maker

When the lure of a new journey becomes the danger of a dark destination.

Three humanoids run away from a trade exhibition. A chemistry teacher experiments with an unsavory invention. Two middle-aged women on a wine tour take an unexpected detour.

The unknown beckons and threatens in author Ivy Ngeow's stort story collection The Power Ballads, FREE with this week's BookFunnel promotion.

CLICK for your FREE copy of The Power Ballads

Photo: Ivy Ngeow


The tomorrow impact of a kindness today

When Lolita cares for her dying father, she seeks nothing beyond knowing he will die peacefully with her at his side.

She nearly misses an amazing gift that awaits as she sorts through his belongings.

The Young Guitarist showcases events which inspired the young Picasso’s famous Blue Period, and how his kindness to a friend has unexpected consequences for a young woman many years later.

CLICK for your FREE copy of The Young Guitarist

A first fall, but hardly the last

A joyful bike ride becomes the first of many broken rules and bad choices in

First Fall, a short prequel to the Tammy Mellows Trilogy, set a few years before the start of Reckless Beginnings, when Tammy was 10 years old.


CLICK for your FREE copy of First Fall

In CRIMSY, young scientist Jen Zendeck and her research team must rescue the greatest discovery in history from the universities, governments, and trillionaires fighting to keep it for themselves. A realistic take on science and discovery 20  years from now, CRIMSY is perfect for fans of Andy Weir and Michael Crichton. 

◆◆◆◆◆Sometime in the not too distant future, a team of scientists discover and retrieve bacterial life on Mars. But there's a problem. The powers that be won't let them study it.


So begins an epic story of determination and scientific passion which ends in a thrilling and unpredictable climax. I was awestruck by the scientific knowledge, imagination and detail that went into this novel. It wasn't an easy read, but I didn't want to put it down either, and the finish just blasted me.


Oh, and it's not just about technical stuff either, there's love and tragedy and family issues... really this author has a tremendous talent.

◆◆◆◆◆  So great to read "science-y" Science Fiction with well-developed characters and a great story! This book is a rare and excellent combination of a science-based storyline and intriguing, well-developed characters!

◆◆◆◆◆ Paints a picture of true scientists and the values they share. I recommend this to those who enjoy good dialogue, thrillers, and realistic fiction.

◆◆◆◆◆ This just punched all the right buttons for me. It had the very real feel of Mercury-Gemini-Apollo, Skylab, ISS, Space Shuttle, Voyager, and Carl Sagan's "quest' for life on Mars. Great characters with a well-developed story and twists to keep you on your toes.


Crimsy screams for a sequel.

◆◆◆◆◆ Extremely well written and enjoyable. It really captured the ups and downs of graduate student life so well I felt like I was back in graduate school. It was a pleasure to read the science, especially the familiar microbiology, but even the unfamiliar was rendered so creatively and realistically that it was a pleasure to read and imagine.


A truly awesome read

◆◆◆◆◆A funny, thought-provoking, and well-written story of space exploration, politics, and the moral issues of scientific investigation.

GET Crimsy: A gripping, funny, realistic near-future sci-fi adventure AT:

NEWLY WIDOWED AND STRUGGLING with single fatherhood, SILHOUETTE hero and small-town prosecutor Ben Harper investigates a murder and uncovers racially-charged secrets that threaten a charismatic Black mayor's ambitious plans for New Orleans.

◆◆◆◆◆ "A fascinating read, clear and suspenseful, all the way until the end. Keeps the reader guessing and turning the page. This is a complex tale with lots of character."  

◆◆◆◆◆ "The author does a wonderful job expressing the intricacies and nuances of race in America."

◆◆◆◆◆ "Ben Harper is smart, anchored, educated, and cares about his people. Unlike many previous portrayals of Black detectives that play to various stereotypes, Ben is worthy of Black readers' admiration."

GET Silhouette: Murder, politics, New Orleans AT:

A heartfelt thank you to Janet, who recently reviewed The Fires of Lilliput on Goodreads: 

A long and somewhat difficult read

Shosha Mordechai Price lives in New York when she is called to Rome to speak on behalf of Jakub Chelzak, who is being considered for sainthood by the Roman Catholic Church.

Shosha knew and loved Jakub and his brother Karl during the Nazi invasion of Poland and credits them with saving her life.

After this introduction, the book goes back to 1939 and the Warsaw Ghetto. It follows Shosha and her family through the ghetto, the uprising, and the camps. Shosha loses almost everything, but her spirit remains indomitable.

It also follows Jakub and Karl and several German officers.

It does not edit out either cruelty or humanity on either side. I had to read it very slowly in order to digest it all, which is why it took me eight nights of reading before bed to finish it.

This is not a book for the casual reader, but I do recommend it to anyone who believes in the oneness of humanity and the triumph of the human spirit.



Thank you so much for reading!

Until next time,

Michael Martin

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