On the length of a story

By
0
May 22, 2015

There’s been a bit of to and fro via The Guardian recently about fantasy novels and short stories. Firstly Damien Walter wrote this pile of bollocks about how publishers need to stop encouraging big fat fantasy multi-book series. Then Natasha Pulley responded with this bullshit about how fantasy just can’t be done in short books, and especially not in short stories. I do wish people would stop trying to proscribe what the rest of us like to read and write.

You know what? A good story is exactly as long as it needs to be or it’s not a good story. Simple as that. If that means a fat book trilogy, or a ten book mega-series, or one thin novel or novella, or a short story, it doesn’t matter. A good story is good because it’s told in the right amount of space it needs. A really good story is made from great ideas, wonderfully written, using exactly the time and space required.

Sure there are plenty of rubbish, bloated books out there and loads of short stories that fall flat. But even the shite stuff has found its niche if its successful, because people are reading and enjoying it. If people are reading and enjoying something, get the fuck off your high horse trying to tell those people that they should be reading and enjoying something else.

Ellen Datlow, a living legend among short fiction editors, posted on Facebook about the second article I linked above and here’s what she had to say:

As a short story editor who has been reading and publishing sf/f/h stories for over 35 years, I’m astounding [sic] at the author’s ignorance. There are hundreds of brilliant, effective, imaginary world short stories that have been published and continue to be published. I don’t know how someone who claims to have taught a class in short fiction can claim that “That means that there is an incredibly narrow taxonomical window in which short fiction can be recognised as fantasy at all. What we recognise as fantasy is long. Sometimes really long.” Even if your definition of fantasy was valid (and it isn’t), you’re dead wrong.

I agree with Ellen 100%.

On the subject of longer series, to use my own recent books as an example, The Alex Caine Series is (so far) roughly 300,000 words spread fairly evenly over three books. Each book is not especially fat, but each one is a fast-paced dark fantasy story. All three contain details of a bigger arc that tells a bigger story. That’s what I like to read mostly – standalone books that also contribute to a larger ongoing story in series. That’s why I write them. But I also enjoy and write standalone novels, and novellas, and short stories. One day I might write a fucking great three million word epic if I think the ideas therein are good enough.

There are big series out there where each book is the same size as my entire Alex Caine trilogy. Peter F Hamilton writes single novels bigger than some big fat series! And all those things are good. We need that variety. I love to experience a glorious, dense, richly detailed series, then read an anthology of amazing, tight fantasy short stories. I like standalones that aren’t in series. I love novellas. But I only like any of those things if they’re good, and being good or bad is not predicated solely on their length. It’s predicated on being a good story, well told. Some yarns are too long or too short for my taste. I might wish they would get to the point more quickly, or delve more deeply into their world and story. But it’s not the length alone that dictates quality or validity. And I know my taste is vastly different to the tastes of many others, and their taste is equally valid. Even if they’re wrong.

You know the old adage – it ain’t the size that matters, it’s what you do with it.

So stop telling people what to read and publishers what to publish. Put all your energy into sharing the stuff that you think is good, regardless of length. Help the cream rise to the top and let the rest take care if itself.

.

Mad Max: Fury Road is the best film in years

By
0
May 19, 2015
Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road

Holy balls, man, Mad Max: Fury Road was outstanding. There was nothing about it I didn’t like. I was wary going in because the hype had been so huge and so many of my friends were loving it that I felt sure I would be underwhelmed. Sometimes even a great film is overshadowed by the scale of its hype and you simply can’t enjoy it as much as you might if you’d gone in with no expectations. This is not the case with this film. It started and by the time the title slammed into the screen after the opening sequence I was upright in my seat and grinning. My adrenaline was pumping and I was thinking, This is gonna be fucking awesome!

And it was. It was insane, relentless, breathtaking, beautiful and intense. If I didn’t have to go to work that afternoon, I’d have turned around and gone right back in to watch it again. I’m desperate to see it again as soon as possible and that rarely happens. Not only is exactly the high-octane thrill-ride it purports to be, it’s something greater. Fury Road exemplifies, in every way, exactly what cinema is for.

Film is a unique medium, as all mediums are. You can make a film of a book or a graphic novel, but those things retain certain attributes in their native form that it’s not possible to recreate in other forms. For example, Alan Moore’s Watchmen is the perfect example of a story absolutely suited to the graphic novel. The double page spreads, Gibbons’ artwork and Moore’s words create a graphic experience that’s just not the same in book or film. A great novel has the beauty of the author’s language and descriptive prose that isn’t evident in a film version (or even a graphic novel, for that matter.) In the same way, everything about Fury Road is perfect for film.

The style is essential. George Miller has created a look and feel that’s visceral. He’s also eschewed CGI for real stunts and genuine car crashes, explosions and racing as often as possible. (Here’s a good post on why the overuse of CGI is increasingly crappy.) Of course, there is CGI in Fury Road, but it’s really the weakest of the visual effects and only used when it’s essential. There are regular nods to the 3D version as well, and that combines with the CGI at its worst with the guitar swinging towards the camera and back near the end of the movie. You’ll see what I mean. But even as that is the worst visual effect in the film for me, it’s still so beautifully over-the-top and insane that I forgave it. And all the CGI and 3D stuff always came second to the primary, powerful live-action film-making. And it’s film-making done to perfection.

FURY ROAD

The pace almost doesn’t let up, but when it does the calmness is sublime. The colour palette from burning desert to cold night is wonderfully filmed. The overcranking of speed and under-selling of violence -regularly brutal, never gratuitous – is all right on point. It’s a truly all-encompassing experience that utilises the medium masterfully.

But that wouldn’t be enough on its own. Spectacle without substance is an exercise in directorial masturbation. *cough*MichaelBay*cough* On top of all the cinematic beauty, the story, mythology and characters were solid and mesmerising. The performances, especially from Charlize Theron, were superb. The development of the broken world and the way some people had risen to control the desperate masses was utterly believable even within the epic, inconceivable scale of some of the things suggested. We didn’t have everything spelled out for us, but the story unfolded exactly as we needed to know things, just when we needed to know them. All of the above is essential to make perfect cinema. It all came together in one explosive and mind-blowing feature in Fury Road and that’s what makes it it the best film I’ve seen in years.

And I would be happy to leave it at that and let the film stand on its own brilliance, but there have been a lot of shouts from idiots about feminism, men’s rights, cocks withering and dying at the mere sight of the promo poster and so on, so I’m not going to leave it there. I’ll address that bullshit directly.

FURY ROADNo doubt you’ve read about the whiny rapist shitstains called MRAs, or Men’s Rights Activists, who have whined and shat themselves about this film because they call it part of a damaging feminist agenda. Apart from it being hilarious that their scrotums are tied in knots by a flick half of them haven’t even watched, they’re only giving the film more publicity. Which is great. Because it’s a brilliant film that is in part brilliant because of the amazing female roles, incredible female heroes and no damsels in distress bullshit. At one point, Max wordlessly defers to Theron’s character, Furiosa, when it’s clear she has the skills he doesn’t. I know! Hang onto your penises, fellas. Furiosa also defers to him when his skillset is greater, and others defer to each other and none of it has anything to do with gender. It’s about warriors working together and surviving the apocalypse. This film takes the Bechdel Test and shoves it right up its vagina, and that’s great! You could (satirically) question whether two male characters ever talk about something other than a female, given what the film is fundamentally about. But no spoilers here. We need more films where there are equal roles fulfilled by everybody in the cast and where that cast isn’t all men. Is there a feminist agenda? No. Is there a feminist message? Maybe. At one point, a woman screams, “Then who broke the world!?” and it’s easy to read a lot into that. But so what? We need films with a feminist focus. We need films that challenge the rampaging cockforest of Hollywood and prove that the all-male extravaganza is a choice, not a necessity. Because, above all else and without any reference to politics, this is first and foremost a fucking superb film, packed with amazing heroes and blistering action and everything else I’ve talked about above. And, as my pal said, every time someone watches Fury Road, an MRA loses his erection. That only adds to the reasons to watch.

Driving home, I just wanted to ram all the other road users out of my way, spray my teeth chrome and blow shit up. Seriously, go and watch this film. It entirely lives up to the hype.

.

Social Media and Book Marketing – Advice from Robert Hoge

By
0
May 19, 2015

Robert Hoge is a good friend of mine, a top bloke and a great writer. We were having a conversation with other friends a little while ago and the subject of social media engagement and book promotion came up. Rob is very savvy about that stuff and he promised to put his thoughts on the subject together. When he did, I found I agreed with him pretty much 100%. So, as I know a lot of writers read my blog, I asked if I could steal his thoughts and spread them out for everyone to consume, like a mass picnic of Rob’s brainmeats. He said yes. I told you he was a top bloke. So here you go:

Robert Hoge’s Social Media and Book Marketing Advice

There are a few simple tips for authors trying to get the best from their social media presence.

There are some good guides out there. I like “Your First 1000 Copies” by Tim Grahl but there’s a lot of stuff available on the web for free. Much of this is geared towards non-fiction writing but with some creativity it can be applied to fiction just as easily. You just need to have something to say.

Tip 1

Have something to say. The most important thing you can do – whatever the channel – is create content that is engaging and adds value. The biggest commitment you’re asking from potential readers is not a commitment of dollars; it’s a commitment of time and attention. Reward their attention with smart, funny, engaging content that adds value to their lives and does more than just ask them to buy your book because it’s cheaper now.

Offer value by talking about stuff that relates to your work but isn’t your work. Establish a relationship with people on social media by consistently being interesting and adding value to their experience. Be real. When the time is right ask them to buy (read) your work. You’re creative people. Be creative.

Tip 2

1908138_871371366267410_6973824597014610978_nBe on Facebook. A lot of readers are on Facebook, as are publishers, reviewers and bookstores. If you want to market yourself to readers through social media, you should have some presence there. When you follow the advice in tip one, the network effects are tremendous.

Understand the Facebook algorithm, then stop worrying about it. The Facebook algorithm helps determine who sees what. For fan (non-personal) pages it initially only serves new content to about one-fifth or less of the people who’ve liked the page. Everyone blames the Facebook algorithm for a post only having eight likes but it’s not to blame. Boring posts are to blame. If you post interesting and engaging content that generates likes, comments and shares, Facebook will reward the post by serving it to more readers. Ask questions, post video, post images. Every time someone comments on your post, like it and reply because Facebook recognises that as engagement.

Tip 3

Be on Twitter. Twitter is a great place to converse and its network effects can sometimes be much greater than Facebook’s. All the points in tip one still apply, plus you get to hone your writing skills by making Tweets sing in 140 characters.

Generally though, Twitter is worse at serving content to all your followers than Facebook. Why is that? Well, Twitter is an ephemeral medium and whether you have 20, 200 or 20,000 followers they’re unlikely to all be online at the same time you post your tweet. Often less than 10% of your followers will see an individual tweet.

Check out www.analytics.twitter.com to start looking at some details of your tweets and what engagement they get. A post on your Facebook fan page remains there for potential new readers to see for quite a while. A tweet will be gone pretty quickly.

Tip 4

If you enjoy other channels, go wild. If you’re great at photos, hang out on Instagram. If you love reviewing, engage an audience on Goodreads. Just be engaging and add value in a way that’s interesting.

I’d discourage you from posting the same content on multiple channels all the time. To me it shows you’re not interested in engaging in a way that suits a particular channel. And if a reader who likes you on Facebook or Twitter decides to checks you out on Instagram hoping to see new content and just sees the same old stuff, do you think they’ll be more or less inclined to follow you on that new channel? By all means, do it sometimes (maybe one post in 10) but doing it all the time is a turn-off. Instead work out how you can leverage different opportunities across channels to serve each other.

10984247_856840337720513_8019956441227921329_n

Random point 1

Mobile, mobile, mobile. More and more web content is being served to mobile devices. Facebook knows this and Google knows this and they’re already starting to reward websites that are optimized for mobile. Make sure your website and content is optimized for mobile delivery. Google it. [I’m in the process of updating this website to a mobile friendly format right now. It’s really important these days! – Alan]

Random point 2

Don’t market solely on price drops. This is a really common social media error. If a reader can afford to spend $2.99 on a book, they can probably afford to spend $4.99. When you market solely on price you forget the other thing you’re asking the reader to give you – their time. The value of your work is not in its price. Mention a price drop, by all means, but find something else to talk about too. Why should a potential reader think your 93,000 word novel can hold their attention, when your 18 word tweet barely can?

Random point 3

A lot of writers spend a lot of time on social media talking to other writers about writing (ahem). It’s fine networking and chatting with mates. But don’t confuse that with marketing your books. Readers don’t care. It doesn’t count as reader engagement.

Random point 4

My personal experience is that engaging with potential readers one-on-one, in-person or over email is a really powerful tool. It’s not time effective but for me it has been really rewarding and it has helped convert fans to influencers. Just be careful how you invest your time.

 

*****

72640_471409952930222_934403925_nRobert Hoge has managed social media for the Queensland Government and Virgin Australia. Mostly though he uses it to talk to people about writing, disability and whatever else takes his fancy. He’s written a memoir, Ugly, about growing up disabled and different. You can find him on Twitter and on Facebook.

.

Alex Caine is coming to America!

By
5
May 8, 2015

RagnarokSo this is very exciting news to report: Last night I signed a contract with Ragnarok Publications for the North American rights to the Alex Caine trilogy. Bound, Obsidian and Abduction will be published in the NA territories some time in the next 12 months. As far as I know, the plan is to release all three books simultaneously.

Ragnarok are a relatively new outfit, but they’re doing amazing work and putting out superb books, so I’m thrilled to be a part of their team. More details will follow as they come to hand, but the deal has been brokered and now it’s all official. I must once again thank the stellar work of my SuperAgent, Alex Adsett.

I can’t wait to see what Ragnarok do with the books – I’ll look forward to revealing their covers and all that stuff as it happens. Watch the blog and my other social media for more news. In the meantime, I’ll be over here drinking celebratory scotch and Snoopy dancing.

.

“Burning, Always Burning” at Tales to Terrify

By
0
May 1, 2015

“Btales-to-terrify-logourning, Always Burning”, a twisty, weird story I co-wrote with Felicity Dowker for the Damnation & Dames anthology, has been podcast by those wonderful people at Tales To Terrify, read by Dan Rabarts. The story required the coining of the term “paranoirmal”.

The anthology is great, available from Ticonderoga Publications here. You can find the podcast here:

http://talestoterrify.com/tales-to-terrify-171-dowker-baxter-lights-out/

Another Dimension Magazine needs you!

By
0
April 29, 2015

Another Dimension is a new online, print and audio magazine from editor Angel Leigh McCoy, who was the inspiration and driving force behind Wily Writers for so many years. AD is Kickstarting right now, and needs some support. I’m guest-editing issue 2, so I have a vested interest in it, but I would support this project anyway because the concept is awesome. It’s basically a modern Twilight Zone.

To get you started, you can have the digital copy of Issue 00 for nothing. It’s now available for download in PDF, .Mobi, and .Epub on the Kickstarter page. It is a pared down version of the planned publication, in black and white.

And here’s a little widget with the audio Story of the Month:

They’ve also been working hard on a Tumblr with the idea that it will be a source of inspiration to fiction writers, artists, and aficionados of a dark aesthetic. Go check it out here.

So if this sounds like your kind of thing as a reader, or something you might like to contribute to as a writer, or both, go to the Kickstarter page and give it some love. Here are all the links you’ll need:

.

Ceaseless West: Weird Western Stories from BCS e-book anthology is now out

By
0
April 26, 2015

CeaselessWest_Cover600The Ceaseless West: Weird Western Stories from Beneath Ceaseless Skies e-book anthology is now out, and it includes my Ditmar Award nominated story, Not The Worst Of Sins. You can find it at WeightlessBooks.com (the indie ebook store run by Gavin Grant of Small Beer Press). It’s available for pre-order at Amazon Kindle Store, B&N, iBooks, and Kobo and will be released there on Tuesday.

The table of contents, cover, and links to it at Weightless and the other stores are here.  And it’s only $3.99.

Also, any reader who buys Ceaseless West from WeightlessBooks.com will get a free copy of Ceaseless Steam, the steampunk anthology, and a coupon for 30% off all other BCS anthologies and ebook subscriptions.

For Weird Western fans, BCS are doing a special Weird Western issue of the magazine next Thursday, BCS #172, out on Apr. 30.

Here’s the ToC of Ceaseless West:

A Feast for Dust • Gemma Files

The Angel Azrael Rode into the Town of Burnt Church on a Dead Horse • Peter Darbyshire

Mister Hadj’s Sunset Ride • Saladin Ahmed

Hangman • Erin Cashier

Bandit and the Seventy Raccoon War • Don Allmon

The Good Deaths, Part II • Angela Ambroz

Between Two Treasons • Michael J. DeLuca

Splitskin • E. Catherine Tobler

The Sixth Day • Sylvia Anna Hivén

Enginesong • Nathaniel Lee

The Crooked Mile • Dan Rabarts

Walking Still • C.T. Hutt

The Heart of the Rail • Mark Teppo

The Judge’s Right Hand • J.S. Bangs

Not the Worst of Sins • Alan Baxter

Songdogs • Ian McHugh

Haxan • Kenneth Mark Hoover

Pale • Kathryn Allen

.

I won an Australian Shadows Award!

By
3
April 25, 2015

This year has been very kind to me with award nominations. Bound was a finalist in the Ditmar Award for Best Novel, The Darkness in Clara was a finalist in the Ditmar Award for Best Novelette or Novella and Obsidian was a finalist for the very prestigious Aurealis Award for Best Horror Novel. I didn’t win any of those, but it is genuinely awesome to have been shortlisted. And then the Australian Shadows Awards shortlists were announced and I saw both Mephisto and Shadows of the Lonely Dead shortlisted for the Best Short Story Award. And then last night I won the award, for Shadows of the Lonely Dead. I’m still Snoopy dancing, it’s such an honour!

The Australian Shadows Awards are annual literary awards established by the Australian Horror Writers Association (AHWA) in 2005 to honour the best published works of horror fiction written or edited by an Australian/New Zealand/Oceania resident in the previous calendar year. Here are all the 2014 Shadows Awards winners, along with the judges comments:

COLLECTED WORKS:

Last Year When We Were Young by Andrew McKiernan

A Masterful collection of supernatural horror and dark fantasy. The horror tales are disturbingly close to home, with vivid characters and a distinctly Australian tone. The atmospheric tales of fantasy take you to terrible other worlds.

EDITED WORKS:

SQ Mag #14 edited by Sophie Yorkston

Sophie Yorkston’s edited work showcases some of the best dark writing coming out of Australia today. Many of the stories are powerful and haunting, all of them are original. SQ #14 gives us a collection that is unified by its Australian voices and at the same time wonderfully diverse. It’s threaded with nonfiction pieces that have a firm grip on the pulse of Australian genre writing.

SHORT FICTION:

Shadows of the Lonely Dead by Alan Baxter

A nicely developed story with lots of (dark) emotional depth, and with a message that does not leave us untouched.

NOVEL:

Wolf Creek Origins by Aaron Sterns and Greg McLean

As the character of Dean Winchester said in the hit series Supernatural, “at least ghosts had rules, but people were just plain crazy”. In Wolf Creek Origin, the horror lies in the depths of depravity of Mick’s mind. The murderous streak in Mick emerged early in life with the murder of his sister, and takes the form of a ‘dark passenger’ much in the vein of Dexter Morgan from the TV series Dexter. A prequel to the two popular movies, this book excels in its gory detail and does not hesitate to even mention bestiality. A superb novel that would make an excellent movie, I had John Jarrett in mind’s eye as I read this book.

PAUL HAINES AWARD FOR LONG FICTION:

Dreams of Destruction by Shane Jiraiya Cummings

In what was a relatively small and even field, this was a rollicking romp with Australiana written all over it.

So there you have it – I’m a Shadows Award winner! All the previous shortlists and winners can be found on this Wikipedia page. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees, and Woohoo!

.

Plotting and Structure for Cheats – guest post from Ian McHugh

By
1
April 21, 2015

Plotting and structure for cheats (or, how to gaff-tape your cardboard thingy)

angel-dustI’ve banged on elsewhere about the themes that tie together some of the stories in my new collection, Angel Dust, such as my possibly neurotic obsession with the consequences of men failing to be “good men” and (possibly contrarily) my enduring fetish for shiny ladies with wings. There’s also a couple of fantasy worlds that I return to more than once through the book: an alternate Australia where the dreams of the land prey on people and your shadow won’t reliably stay under your feet; and an early steam age faux-Europe, where tax collectors and little girls turn out to be the ultimate bad asses.

Another thing that connects quite a number of the stories in the book is how they were written. In wrestling with the challenges of transitioning from being a “professional” short fiction writer to trying out as a novice novelist, I’ve discovered something about my writing.

What I’ve realised is that my writing has a number of strengths – I can do character, setting, action, dialogue, mood and tension fairly reliably. But, by comparison, I suck at story structure and plot. It’s like I have the full six-pack, but the cardboard thingy that holds it together has gotten soggy and if I don’t put my hand under it, all the receptacles of fermented goodness will fall out the bottom and smash on the path. In short stories, I think you can get by with being weaker on structure and plot if you’re strong enough on the rest, but even in short form it’s something I’ve needed to address.

Some stories just kind of fall out easily by themselves, like “The Wishwriter’s Wife”, which is reprinted in Angel Dust and made the Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror. (It’s also archived online at Daily SF, where it first appeared, so you can try before you buy.) Mostly, though, I’ve realised I need a bit of help.

In high school, my mates had a saying, “Win if you can, lose if you must, but always remember to cheat.” So I’ve developed a number of tricks and tools (cheats) to prop up my plotting and structure – to gaff tape the cardboard thingy of my stories.

My first cheat is planning onto a formal act structure. I’ve adapted my own version, which largely follows the Hollywood 3-act / 4-part structure, but also borrows useful odds and ends from 2- and 5-act structures. Thus:

 

Click for higher resolution.

Click for higher resolution.

The main caveat here is that short stories almost never use the whole act structure. As a general rule of thumb, they should start no earlier than the ‘inciting incident’, that sets the hero on their journey, and get out as soon as possible after the story problems are resolved – or even as soon as the resolution is apparent.

I don’t always follow that formula by any means. In one of the stories in Angel Dust, I tell the first act and the fourth act and, in between, my protagonist sits on his roof and sulks for a few paragraphs while acts two and three rage below. Another story in the book takes place entirely within acts two and three of the structure, and in other stories I combine, skip or reverse some of the steps.

So, just because I start from a template, doesn’t mean I’m following it slavishly – and writing formulaically. But starting from the template really helps me think through a part of my writing that I’m weaker on.

Something I always do when I’m planning a story is a quick map of my characters’ emotional buttons – what they want, what they need, what they have to lose and what will hurt them the most. (Killing them, BTW, isn’t what will hurt your characters the most. It’s the Princes Bride Rule: “To The Pain!” What will hurt your characters most is not the thing that kills them, but the thing that leaves them alive and in freakish suffering.) Pushing my protagonist’s buttons – and often those of the antagonist and any other major characters – has to be at the heart of the story I tell.

My second cheat for plotting and structure is for generating an actual plot from those emotional buttons (along with whatever idea or conceit I’ve decided to write a story about). This one’s pretty simple: I start throwing random elements at them and see what sticks.

If my idea didn’t already come from a book, then one of those random elements is almost always a book (or magazine or Wikipedia page or somesuch). For the story “Cold, Cold War”, which is in Angel Dust and also archived at Beneath Ceaseless Skies (try before you buy!), it was a photographic history of the Russian Civil War that I found in a bookshop bargain bin. For “Beetle Road”, the opening story of Angel Dust, it was both an issue of National Geographic with a cover story on jewelled scarabs and a book on transcontinental railways that were in the pile on the table at the writers’ centre.

Another randomiser I often use is Georg Polti’s 36 Dramatic Situations. You can find them online here, complete with Random Dramatic Situation Generator and a bonus dramatic situation. I get the top-level situation randomly, then choose the sub-situation that I like the best. (Of all the various models of story archetypes, this is the most OCD – over 300 story ideas, right here!)

My other go-to randomisers are rolling Crown & Anchor dice (any dice will do but I like the pictures) and dealing playing cards to which I apply a tarot interpretation. Then I start associating cards and dice with characters and story events, sticking the characters onto a character triangle and filling in the events on my act structure.

Sometimes I’ll even generate whole stories from random elements, and use the playing cards to generate characters as well as events. “Beetle Road” is one of those, written for a 24-hour story challenge that I ran with my writers’ group, the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild. “Uncle Bob’s Crocodile”, which is too new to be in Angel Dust, but which you can read at Urban Fantasy magazine, is another story that was generated entirely from (a simpler set of) random elements: a friend’s anecdote about his crazy uncle; a page from Luigi Seraphini’s Codex Seraphinianus; and a random object which I forgot about.

“Beetle Road” was the whole kit and kitchen sink – random books, random characters, Polti, dice, playing cards. So, without giving too much away (because only so much of my planning ever survives the actual process of writing, as you’ll see if you read the story) my plan for “Beetle Road” looked like this:

Click for higher resolution.

Click for higher resolution.

Of course, if you’re strong on plot, doing all of this for most stories would drive you nuts. But even if plot is one of your strengths, sometimes you’ll get stuck, and it’s good to have some cheats in your back pocket to help you get unstuck. And if you are like me and not so strong on plot, then over time doing all the stuff that comes from these tricks and tools becomes more and more second-nature, and sooner or later you’ll find you’ve got a pretty solid cardboard thingy to hold your six-pack together.

the beard in memoriumIan McHugh’s debut short story collection, Angel Dust, was a finalist for this year’s Aurealis Awards (and is available here from Ticonderoga Publications). You can find more of his stories, which have appeared in professional and semi-pro magazines, webzines and anthologies in Australia and internationally, at his website. His stories have won grand prize in the Writers of the Future contest and been shortlisted five times at the Aurealis Awards, winning in 2010. He’s a graduate of Clarion West.

.

Suspended In Dusk out now

By
0
March 30, 2015

Suspended In Dusk NEWI’ve been really looking forward to the release of this book and it’s finally here in paperback as well as ebook. The ebook has been out for ages, but I saved mentioning it here until the print edition was available too. It contains my story, “Shadows of the Lonely Dead”, which is probably the most personal story I’ve ever written. I drew extensively on my experiences surrounding the deaths of people very close to me in the writing of it. It’s sharing the pages with a plethora of amazing people and I’m sure their stories will be excellent. Here’s the skinny and some sweet blurbs:

“Disquieting and at times terrifying, SUSPENDED IN DUSK shows that horror can, and should, have substance.” ~ Kaaron Warren, Shirley Jackson Award winner, and author of Slights, Mystification, Walking the Tree.

“SUSPENDED IN DUSK offers a delicious assortment of chills, frights, shocks and very dark delights!” ~ Jonathan Maberry, Bram Stoker Award winner and New York Times bestselling author of Fall of Night and V-Wars

DUSK
A time between times.

A whore hides something monstrous and finds something special.
A homeless man discovers the razor blade inside the apple.
Unlikely love is found in the strangest of places.
Secrets and dreams are kept… forever.

Or was it all just a trick of the light?

Suspended in Dusk brings together 19 stories by some of the finest minds in Dark Fiction: Ramsey Campbell, John Everson, Rayne Hall, Shane McKenzie, Angela Slatter, Alan Baxter, S.G Larner, Wendy Hammer, Sarah Read, Karen Runge, Toby Bennett, Benjamin Knox, Brett Rex Bruton, Icy Sedgwick, Tom Dullemond, Armand Rosamilia, Chris Limb, Anna Reith, J.C. Michael. Introduction by Bram Stoker Award Winner and World Horror Convention Grand Master, Jack Ketchum.

And wait til you read that intro. It’s awesome!

Get your copy in print of ebook from any of the usual venues. Amazon, for example. You’ll be glad you did.

.

Welcome

The website of author Alan Baxter

Alan Baxter, Author

Author of horror, dark fantasy & sci-fi. Kung Fu instructor. Personal Trainer. Motorcyclist. Dog lover. Gamer. Heavy metal fan. Britstralian. Zetetic.

Learn more about me and my work by clicking About Alan just below the header.

Subscribe to my Mailing List: For occasional news, special offers and more. When you click the Subscribe button you will be sent to a confirmation page.

------------------------------

Contact

Contact Me


Our world is built on language and storytelling. Without stories, we are nothing.

------------------------------

TOP POSTS OF OLD

An archive page of some of the most popular blog posts can be found by clicking here. Enjoy.

Stalk Me

Find me on various social networks. Hover over the icon for a description:

@AlanBaxter on Twitter Like me on Facebook Follow me on Instagram

My Tumblr of miscellany My Pinterest boards

Friend me on Goodreads My Amazon author page

feedburner

Listen to my podcast

Australian Dark Fiction News & Reviews



National Archive

This website is archived by the National Library of Australia's Web Archive

Pandora