There's two real points to this.
First, Catherynne Valente is writing and publishing a YA novel online, free for the reading. It's on the pay-as-you-will method that the good people at Shadow Unit are using. That's the awesome bit for readers. New chapters every Monday.
But, here's the deal. Catherynne Valente needs some help. Here's her words.
Fast forward to the summer, six months after my partner was unexpectedly laid off from his job, a situation that, to our growing dismay, was not resolving. The old dance of resumes and job sites was not working as it had always done. My work as a freelance writer, more than I could make in the public sector with my meager qualifications, but not equal to our bills, kept us going for awhile, but finally, it was just not enough, and our lives hung in the balance. And so one night, trying to think of how to fix all the things that had broken in such a short time, I thought of Fairyland, and September, and her ship.
I didn’t want charity, or something for nothing. I wanted to work, and support my family. I decided that in the world of new media and online literature, I could try to do what I do best: write a novel. I could offer up a book to the world, and try to feed us with it. I wanted it to be free, so that everyone could read it, not locked behind a password. But we needed money—so I posted to my blog and asked my readers to pay whatever they thought it was worth.
Full details here.
Nick Mamatas has a perspective on how a writer who does make decent money can still struggle with bills, and it has to do with the speed of getting money in the publishing industry and what he calls "fast money".
The novel is here. Maybe read it. Maybe, if one is so moved and has the means, throw a couple bucks Valente's way.