Three birthday celebrations, two just on time, one belated, ("Celebrating the Birth . . ." is still in the beta stage and many will be late or missed for awhile) of the important genre figures.
Joanne "Jo" Rowling (born 31 July 1965)
If you live on the planet Earth and are over the age of two, you are probably familiar with J. K. Rowling's most famous character, Harry Potter. She also wrote a rather awful literary novel under her own name, and a well received mystery under a pen name.
Obviously little of Rowling's work is freely available, but her flash fiction prequel to the Harry Potter books is available MuggleNet and the free, interactive Pottermore has similar sized fiction/background by her.
John Joseph Adams (31 July 1976)
One of the best living editors, John Joseph Adams has edited several great anthologies, was an assistant editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and now is the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Lightspeed Magazine and Nightmare Magazine, two of the best fiction magazines being published. Both Lightspeed Magazine and Nightmare Magazine are free, as you probably already know so give them another look in honor of their editor..
Cherie Priest (born 30 July 1975)
Priest is an excellant Horror and Steampunk author, who was recieved Hugo and Nebula nominations for her novel Boneshaker. Fortunately, some of her work is freely available.
Free Fiction by Priest
At Lightspeed: "Addison Howell and the Clockroach" Steampunk. Text/Audio.
"Addison Howell didn’t so much arrive in the town of Humptulips as appear
there sometime around 1875. He had money, which set him apart from
everybody else—because everybody else was working for the logging
At Apex: "Reluctance" Text.
"Walter McMullin puttered through the afternoon sky east of Oneida in his tiny dirigible. According to his calculations, he was somewhere toward the north end of Texas, nearing the Mexican territory west of the Republic; and any minute now he’d be soaring over the Goodnight–Loving trail."
At Tor.com: "The Button Man and the Murder Tree" Text.
"It’s Chicago in 1971, and Raul is a button man—a professional
ender of lives that the Mob needs ended. But something’s odd about his
most recent assignments. And then there are those mushrooms growing out
of his skin...."
At Tor.com: "Wishbones" Text.
the Andersonville camp there is a great, stinking dread. The
Confederates don’t have enough food of their own, so they sure as hell
aren’t feeding their prisoners of war; and the prisoners who aren’t
wasting away are dying of diseases faster than they can be replaced."