Monthly Archives: October 2008

Happy Halloween

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October 31, 2008

Whatever your persuasion, Happy Halloween everyone.

halloween1 Happy Halloween

(from here).

Blade Red Press

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October 28, 2008

Following a couple of emails asking questions after yesterday’s post I realised that information about Blade Red Press would be helpful.

logo shadow small lo Blade Red Press

In the world of music there are hundreds of quality bands that have trouble getting noticed or signed by the major labels. It became quite common for bands to produce and market their own music and so the concept of Indie music was born – independently produced music. Indie bands soon led to indie labels and now it’s quite common for niche labels to have a handful of bands on their books and do really well without the backing of the majors.

The same thing is now starting to happen with publishing. The major “traditional” publishers are behemoths that operate like factories. They take in manuscripts at one end, push out a heavily marketed book at the other and promote it for a very short time (maybe six weeks), then move on to the next project. If your book isn’t standing on its own after six weeks, you’re done. Even with major publishers, authors have to do an enormous amount of self-marketing to keep their books selling. And that’s assuming you even managed to get your work through the slush pile and picked up for publication in the first place. Having a quality book to sell doesn’t mean you’re going to get it published. There are thousands of great books out there that can’t find a publisher and an equal number of truly awful books that get trad print runs in the tens of thousands. Such is the nature of publishing in the modern world.

That’s where indie publishing comes in. Self-publishing has a terrible stigma attached, and it’s understandable to some degree. There are some terrible self-published books out there; really badly written, full of errors, some simply not even making sense. But there are some true gems out there too. The same can be said of indie music – there are some woeful bands out there peddling their stuff, but indie music doesn’t have the same stigma as indie publishing. That’s simply because the music world is not as stuck up and elitist as the literary world.

So, there’s a very relevant place for indie publishing, if it’s done with professionalism and dedication, and now we’re getting to the stage where the technology is there to really make it happen. That’s what Blade Red Press is all about.

When I self-published RealmShift at the start of 2006 it got great reviews, was a hot product for a while and really showed potential. But retailing at Amazon for US$23.95 made it really hard to sell in larger numbers. Print On Demand technology (where a copy is made to order and shipped) means that writers don’t need to find huge sums of money for short print runs and then schlep them around local bookstores. They can produce a book for very little and let the internet be their global bookstore. But the retail price is a big problem because POD companies offer a lot of author services and charge large commissions. Coupled with industry discounts and so forth, prices become prohibitive.

So, I took everything I learned from the first release of RealmShift and I set up Blade Red Press, an independent publisher that doesn’t use the author service companies. Blade Red will specialise in fantasy, science fiction and horror, with an emphasis on dark fiction, and produce quality books using Print On Demand technology and online retailers like Amazon as a distribution and sales network. The books will also be available to order through brick and mortar bookstores using their ISBNs, are fully returnable and essentially indistinguishable from any other book on the shelf. All hail modern technology.

And as you can see from the description above, Blade Red is not just about publishing my own work. It’s going to be an outlet for emerging speculative and dark fiction writers to have a chance to get their work out there. We’ll have a small and select catalogue of quality work. We won’t just publish anything – it has to be good. And I plan to organise an annual anthology of short stories to give emerging writers another avenue to get their work out there. More on that in the future.

Authors with Blade Red will be encouraged to promote their own work. I’ll promote the catalogue as a whole, while pushing my own work, and authors can concentrate on their stuff. The books will never be out of print (another benefit of Print On Demand) and the more work we all put in, the better results we’ll have. There won’t be author advances, but there will be the large majority of sales profit going back to the authors. I haven’t set up Blade Red Press to make a fortune – indie publishing doesn’t work like that. Blade Red Press will simply pay for itself and the authors will make their money from their book sales after that. More reason to get out there and promote their work. That’s why I have to promote my own stuff as well. Blade Red is about giving writers opportunities.

As the press grows we’ll take on more authors, produce more anthologies and hopefully start to sell a lot of books. At least, that’s the idea. RealmShift and MageSign are the first two projects off the ranks, and both should be available very soon. The Amazon price will be US$15.95 – a considerable improvement on the US$23.95 that RealmShift is currently selling for. Next up will be Michael Fridman’s novel Maggots Of Heresy. After that the first anthology will get under way and we’ll see how we go from there. We will be looking for new authors, but not yet. Don’t send any queries now – watch the site here and there’ll be news of the Blade Red Press site when that’s up and subsequent calls for submissions then.

Wish us luck! And, as ever, feel free to ask any questions in comments or emails. Indie publishing, like indie music, succeeds or fails on two things: the quality of the product and the support of the fans. The more people talk about the books and the press, the more they convince their friends, family and colleagues to try it out, the more successful indie writers can be.

Let me finish by throwing a few names at you – John Milton, William Blake, Virginia Woolf, Walt Whitman, William Morris, James Joyce, Stephen Crane, E. E. Cummings, Deepak Chopra, Benjamin Franklin, Zane Grey, Rudyard Kipling, D. H. Lawrence, Thomas Paine, Edgar Allan Poe, Ezra Pound, Carl Sandburg, George Bernard Shaw, Upton Sinclair, Gertrude Stein, Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain. Recognise some of those people? They all self-published and found success. It’s rare, but quality shines through. Here’s another interesting list:

* Spartacus by Howard Fast
* The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
* A Choice, Not An Echo by Phyllis Schlafly
* The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer
* What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Nelson Bolles
* Poems by Oscar Wilde
* In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters
* Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen
* The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans
* Invisible Life by E. Lynn Harris
* The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte
* Contest by Matthew Reilly
* Eragon by Christopher Paolini

They all started out as self-published books. Now indie publishers add a level of quality control so you don’t have to rely on the word of the author and the author doesn’t have to struggle to get into the big major publishers. It’s a brave new world.

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Quick update on the novels

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October 27, 2008

I have a hard copy of the new edition of RealmShift in my grubby paw and it looks great. I know that I would say that, seeing as I wrote and designed it, but it does look awesome with Donn Salt’s artwork on the cover. So this book is very close to being available to buy and the proof of MageSign should be on its way to me soon as well. After all the delays, I’m getting very confident that both these novels, independently published now by Blade Red Press in these excellent looking editions, will be available to buy soon, certainly before the end of the year. I’ll let you know when you can go Christmas shopping.

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Two of my favourite things combined

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October 26, 2008

Motorcycles and a funny sign. Well, it’s funny now anyway.

ride responsibly Two of my favourite things combined

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Watchmen teaser poster

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October 23, 2008

I’ve made mention here a few times of the forthcoming movie of The Watchmen, based on one of the greatest novels of all time (graphic or otherwise). The official site has just released this teaser poster.

My interest is piqued, but my scepticism remains intact.

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RealmShift and MageSign update

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October 22, 2008

A week or so ago I posted that MageSign, the sequel to RealmShift, was on the way. I wasn’t lying. I also promised a sneak peek at the cover of MageSign and the re-issue of RealmShift. True to my word, here they are:

realmshift cover small RealmShift and MageSign update

magesign cover small RealmShift and MageSign update

The artwork on the covers is pretty special. The crystal skull on RealmShift is by an artist called Donn Salt and the knife on MageSign is a custom knife by a very talented knife maker called John Jensen. Both these guys very kindly gave me permission to use these images. Thanks guys!

Another good review has come in for MageSign too, from author David Wood:

Return to a dark realm of speculative fiction. Alan Baxter follows up his dark fantasy thriller RealmShift with another foray into a dark world of demons and danger in MageSign. Isiah, the immortal hero of RealmShift, returns to apply his special talents to counter the threat of Ordo Novus Cruor, minions of the Sorcerer Dominus, adherents of the god Yath-vados. A dark birth sets the scene for a gritty tale of blood rituals, mystery, and mysticism.

In Isiah, Baxter has crafted a memorable character due to his unique gifts, his toughness, and his attitude. It’s not often you read a book in which the main character comes face-to-face with Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad and casually refers to them as “morbid bastards.’ Isiah is joined by Petra, another tough, quirky character who adds color and depth to the story line. Baxter’s knowledge of martial arts comes through as well in masterful fight scenes. Underpinning the entire story is Baxter’s unique, if controversial take on spirituality and the nature of gods and reality. MageSign grabs hold of the reader and doesn’t let go. If you like your fantasy dark and dirty, this book is for you.

That’s right, folks – this book is for you.

Keep an eye on the blog here and I’ll let you know when it’s available to buy. Thanks for your ongoing patience!

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Endangered words – the full list

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October 22, 2008

With reference to my prvious post, I’m pleased to say that our friend Michael has pointed me in the direction of the full list of words on the chopping block. From The Times Online via Editorial Ass, here’s the list of 24 words in trouble:

Abstergent – Cleansing or scouring

Agrestic – Rural; rustic; unpolished; uncouth

Apodeictic – Unquestionably true by virtue of demonstration

Caducity – Perishableness; senility

Caliginosity – Dimness; darkness

Compossible – Possible in coexistence with something else

Embrangle – To confuse or entangle

Exuviate – To shed (a skin or similar outer covering)

Fatidical – Prophetic

Fubsy – Short and stout; squat

Griseous – Streaked or mixed with grey; somewhat grey

Malison – A curse

Mansuetude – Gentleness or mildness

Muliebrity – The condition of being a woman

Niddering – Cowardly

Nitid – Bright; glistening

Olid – Foul-smelling

Oppugnant – Combative, antagonistic or contrary

Periapt – A charm or amulet

Recrement – Waste matter; refuse; dross

Roborant – Tending to fortify or increase strength

Skirr – A whirring or grating sound, as of the wings of birds in flight

Vaticinate – To foretell; prophesy

Vilipend – To treat or regard with contempt

So, now I have to keep my promise and finish the little nonsense story that I started and somehow shoehorn all 24 words into it. Here goes – wish me luck.

***

The King and the Lost Words

The King looked up as the skirr of a passing nightingale disturbed him. He frowned, annoyed that his train of thought had been derailed. He clambered down from the wall he was sitting on, a considerable effort for his fubsy frame, and wandered back towards the castle.

He had been thinking about the best way to deter the oppugnant Clitheroe from making another play for his lands in the north. Clitheroe was a tribal king of considerable caliginosity, but he was not a niddering man. The King knew that if he wasn’t careful he would become embrangled in another long and drawn out skirmish.

As he walked he remembered the fatidical comments of his court advisor when the man had suggested that he destroy Clitheroe years ago in the Battle of the Swamps. If only he had listened then. The thing was, Clitheroe’s intentions were unclear. He seemed to be on a mission of wild abstergent glee, clearing the countryside of all agrestic people he could find, leaving only the gentry untouched. The fact that nothing but gentlemen and well dressed ladies were left in Scotland was apodeictic proof. And now those people had no farmers and were starving, no blacksmiths to shoe their horses, no maids to clean the scullery.

The King stroked his griseous beard. Was this Clitheroe really on such a bizarre mission? And why? Why did he vilipend the common folk so? The words of the King’s court advisor rang in his ears again. “Listen as I vaticinate, my Lord. Clitheroe, if not killed now, will only cause more trouble!”

The King harrumphed. “Damn my caducity!” he cried. “Is the existence of Clitheroe not compossible with my rule and the common man? The man is a malison on the land! Nothing but olid recrement.”

A messenger came running to the King. He carried a nitid silver tray and, upon it, a letter. The King tore open the missive. It was from Clitheroe. It read:

You are no doubt starting to consider engaging me in battle. I warn you, our army becomes larger and our defences more roborant by the day. You may be well recognised for your mansuetude, but it has led to the decay of society and, more importantly, language. Have you heard the way these common folk speak? Your rule has been less of leadership and more of muliebrity. It is time to exuviate the land of these coarse tongued commoners before it is too late!

“Right!” said the King, outraged. “That’s it!” He turned to the messenger. “Tell the Generals to mobilise the army and fetch my periapt of manly strength – we go to war!”

***

Blimey, that was harder than I thought it would be. Anyway, share it around and save the words.

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The Last Word Project

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October 20, 2008

A recent article by Ruth Wajnryb in the Spectrum section of the Sydney Morning Herald gave me pause for thought. Ruth was talking about how the powers that be (in this case the Collins Dictionary people) decide when a word is dead.

A word can live on in a dictionary for some time, firstly marked as archaic (arch) or obsolete (obs) before being axed. Teams of lexicographers gather and look for the use of these words in the public domain before deciding that they are pushing up metaphorical daisies. In an effort to prevent the loss of some words, Collins has launched The Last Word Project. They have a list of endangered words and they’ve enlisted the assistance of various celebrities, politicians and media types to adopt a word each and attempt to get it back into the vernacular between now and January next year.

The example words given in Wajnryb’s column are:

Skirr – the sound made by a bird’s wings in flight
Fubsy – short and stout
Niddering – cowardly
Caliginosity – dimness
Embrangle – embroil/entangle
Oppugnant – combative
Fatidical – prophetic

These words are all on death row, even though they’ve committed no crime. I’ve been trying to find the full list, with no success. For some reason it seems to be a rather secret Project. In an effort to help out, I’ve started a little nonsense story containing each of the endangered words listed above. Feel free to share the story around and help to save a word from extinction. If you do share the story with anyone, be sure to include this explanation or I’ll seem like a right wanker. Or at the very least strangely Dickensian.

(And if anyone can find the full list of words on Collins’ execution list, please share and I’ll try to finish the tale!)

The King and the Lost Words

The King looked up as the skirr of a passing nightingale disturbed him. He frowned, annoyed that his train of thought had been derailed. He clambered down from the wall he was sitting on, a considerable effort for his fubsy frame, and wandered back towards the castle.

He had been thinking about the best way to deter the oppugnant Clitheroe from making another play for his lands in the north. Clitheroe was a tribal king of considerable caliginosity, but he was not a niddering man. The King knew that if he wasn’t careful he would become embrangled in another long and drawn out skirmish.

As he walked he remembered the fatidical comments of his court advisor when the man had suggested that he destroy Clitheroe years ago in the Battle of the Swamps. If only he had listened then.

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100 Greatest books of all time

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October 15, 2008

According to an Angus & Robertson poll of 26,000 people, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald.

As with all these things, this poll is tempered by the times. Recent works ride higher on the list as they’re fresh in people’s minds, while certain classics persist regardless of time. For example, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series is very much the flavour of the moment and comes in at number 2. Second only to Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Much as these might be good reads, they’re hardly the two greatest books of all time. Though it is very pleasing to see fantasy works so highly regarded again.

There are highly deserving classics on there, like Austen’s Pride & Prejudice (number 4), Salinger’s Catcher In The Rye (number 51), Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four (number 58) and, more contemporary, Gaiman’s American Gods (number 75).

Being an Angus & Robertson poll, there is a distinct Australian bias, with over a fifth (22 out of 100) being Australian books, but there’s no such thing as an unbiased poll. Regardless, it’s an interesting mix:

1 Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling

2 Twilight – Stephenie Meyer

3 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

4 The Obernewtyn Chronicles – Isobelle Carmody

5 My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult

6 To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee

7 The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

8 Breath – Tim Winton

9 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

10 Break No Bones – Kathy Reichs

11 The Power Of One – Bryce Courtenay

12 Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk

13 Magician – Raymond E. Feist

14 The Bronze Horseman – Paullina Simons

15 Mao’s Last Dancer – Li Cunxin

16 Memoirs Of A Geisha – Arthur Golden

17 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

18 Cross – James Patterson

19 Persuasion – Jane Austen

20 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

21 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

22 The Secret – Rhonda Byrne

23 Marley and Me – John Grogan

24 Antony and Cleopatra – Colleen McCullough

25 April Fools Day – Bryce Courtney

26 North & South – Elizabeth Gaskell

27 In My Skin – Kate Holden

28 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

29 A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini

30 The Other Boleyn Girl – Phillipa Gregory

31 Nineteen Minutes – Jodi Picoult

32 Atonement – Ian McEwan

33 Shantaram Gregory – David Roberts

34 Pillars Of The Earth – Ken Follett

35 The Pact – Jodi Picoult

36 Ice Station – Matthew Reilly

37 Cloudstreet – Tim Winton

38 Jessica – Bryce Courtenay

39 A New Earth – Eckhart Tolle

40 The Princess Bride – William Goldman

41 Running With Scissors – Augusten Burroughs

42 Anybody Out There? – Marian Keyes

43 Life Of Pi – Yann Martel

44 Seven Ancient Wonders – Matthew Reilly

45 People Of The Book – Geraldine Brooks

46 Six Sacred Stones – Matthew Reilly

47 Memory Keeper’s Daughter – Kim Edwards

48 Brother Odd – Dean Koontz

49 Tully – Paullina Simons

50 Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom

51 The Catcher in the Rye – J.D Salinger

52 Eragon – Christopher Paolini

53 Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert

54 It’s Not About The Bike – Lance Armstrong

55 A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

56 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

57 The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

58 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

59 A Fortunate Life – A.B. Facey

60 The Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley

61 The Notebook -Nicholas Sparks

62 Water For Elephants – Sara Gruen

63 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

64 The Host – Stephenie Meyer

65 Dirt Music – Tim Winton

66 Eldest – Christopher Paolini

67 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

68 It – Stephen King

69 World Without End – Ken Follett

70 Emma – Jane Austen

71 Temple – Matthew Reilly

72 Little Women – Alcott Louisa May

73 Lean Mean Thirteen – Janet Evanovich

74 Scarecrow – Matthew Reilly

75 American Gods – Neil Gaiman

76 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

77 P.S, I Love You – Cecelia Ahern

78 All That Remains – Patricia Cornwell

79 The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch

80 Past Secrets – Cathy Kelly

81 The Persimmon Tree – Bryce Courtenay

82 Husband – Dean Koontz

83 Plain Truth – Jodi Picoult

84 Wicked – Gregory Maguire

85 Spot Of Bother – Mark Haddon

86 Always And Forever – Cathy Kelly

87 The Road – Cormac McCarthy

88 Cents & Sensibility – Maggie Alderson

89 Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris

90 The Shifting Fog – Kate Morton

91 We Need To Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver

92 Everyone Worth Knowing – Lauren Weisberger

93 Hour Game – David Baldacci

94 Darkly Dreaming Dexter – Jeff Lindsay

95 The Woods – Harlan Coben

96 Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

97 Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides

98 Scar Tissue – Anthony Kiedis

99 Infidel – Ayaan Hirsi Ali

100 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

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News on the sequel to RealmShift

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October 15, 2008

I know I’ve been talking a lot about my next novel and nothing has materialised yet. However, it is written, it is in production and it should be available soon. I was hoping it would be available at the end of October, but certain production issues are delaying things slightly. However, rest assured that it is on the way.

The book in question is the sequel to my debut novel RealmShift and is called MageSign. It picks up three years after the events of RealmShift with Isiah on the trail of the Sorcerer, Samuel Harrigan’s mentor.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

Three years have passed since Isiah’s run in with Samuel Harrigan and the Devil. He has some time on his hands – a perfect opportunity to track down the evil Sorcerer, Harrigan’s mentor. It should have been a simple enough task, but the Sorcerer has more followers than Isiah ever imagined, and a plan bigger than anyone could have dreamed.

With the help of some powerful new friends Isiah desperately tries to track down the Sorcerer and his cult of blood before they manage to change the world forever.

In this long-awaited sequel to the highly acclaimed RealmShift, Baxter once again keeps a breathless pace and blistering intensity with gods, demons and humans entangled in magic and conflict. This is dark fantasy at its best.

That’s right, folks. Dark fantasy at its best.

Van Ikin, editor of Science Fiction magazine, has this to say about MageSign:

It’s three years later: Isiah maintains his unrelenting quest and Alan Baxter maintains the pacing and surprises that are his signature. Not to mention the ever-darkening mood of doom and menace. Don’t let fear of Yath-vados stand between you and a great read!

You see, the book really has been out with editors and proof-readers, and advance review copies have been doing the rounds. I wasn’t making it all up. And people certainly seem to like it.

Lastly, for now, here’s a review from ClubReading.com. Again, like RealmShift, comparisons with Neil Gaiman’s work are being drawn. I couldn’t dream of higher praise.

I’ll be able to show you the cover soon, along with the cover for the re-issue of RealmShift, and hopefully I’ll be able to report the book available to buy within the next few weeks. Just in time for Christmas. Keep an eye on the blog here for updates.

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

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