Monthly Archives: May 2009

2009 Australian Shadows Awards open

May 31, 2009

As reported at Horrorscope on Friday, Australia’s top honour for horror fiction, the Australian Horror Writers Association’s Australian Shadows Award, is now open for 2009.

In previous years, short stories competed with novels and anthologies, but from 2009 onwards, awards will be issued for the best works in Short Fiction (short stories), Long Fiction (novellas, novels, and single-author collections), and Edited Publication (for editors of anthologies and horror fiction magazines).

The Australian Shadows Award reading period is open from now until December 31, 2009. Works of horror and dark fantasy written or edited by Australians (or New Zealanders) and first published in the 2009 calendar year are eligible.

I’m pleased to say that MageSign will be entered in this year’s Award, as it was published in January 2009, so keep your fingers crossed for me there. I think I’ll also enter any of my short fiction that gets published this year that has a darker edge that would be suitable for this Award.

The 2008 Australian Shadows Award trophy

Read the Horrorscope announcement here, which lists details of the judges, and learn all about the Award at the AHWA website here, which includes all the submission guidelines.


Author 2.0 Program launched today

May 31, 2009

My good friend and fellow indie author Joanna Penn, from The Creative Penn, has been hard at work putting together a new online training program for indie and self publishing authors. It’s called the Author 2.0 Program and it’s all about using Web 2.0 to produce, promote and sell your books.

There are 12 modules to the program:

Module 1: Writing 2.0
Module 2: Self publishing and Print-on-Demand
Module 3: Ebooks
Module 4: Websites
Module 5: Author Entrepreneur
Module 6: Blogging
Module 7: Marketing 2.0
Module 8: Video and Book Trailers
Module 9: Podcasting
Module 10: Social Networking
Module 11: Using Amazon
Module 12: Traffic Tactics


Each module has loads of information including podcast interviews with experts in any given field. The expert in Module 11: Using Amazon is actually me, so that module at least will be excellent.

The whole thing is jam packed with information and should be a really useful tool for people new to the indie publishing world and those not so new. The program sells for US$297. You can also become an Affiliate, which means you put the information and sales links on your website and any sales of the program through your site earn you 50%. So if you sell the program twice through your site, you make US$297 and you can have the program for free. Or you can buy 5,940 5c chews and distribute them to children in your neighbourhood in an act of selfless generosity. It’s really entirely up to you.

The program is being launched with a free Author 2.0 Blueprint, that gives people lots of free information all about the idea, with great tips on how to build your author profile. If you go on to buy the program you’ll learn all about those tips in detail.

Click on the image above and have a look at the blueprint to see what you think. It’s free with no obligation and you can decide for yourself where to go from there. Let’s help Joanna spread the word about this.

(If you’re interested in picking this up as an affiliate, go here.)

EDIT – I should mention here that I’m set up as an affiliate with this program as well as being a contributing “expert” (yes, I think the quotes are justified.) I thought it was apparent from the post, but a couple of people have asked, so it’s obviously not. Therefore, if you do go through the links here to get the product, you are making me some money. But then if you set up as an affiliate too you can potentially earn your money back. Just so we’re all clear on the situation – I don’t want to be accused of spamming or misleading anyone. This is a good program and you can always search for it directly rather than link through from here if you prefer.


#fictionfriday at Twitter

May 30, 2009

J M Strother over at Mad Utopia came up with this idea for authors to build up their platform using Twitter. The hashtag symbol is used for Twitter searches and is a powerful tool for following trends or news items. Strother has suggested using a hashtag of #fictionfriday to post regular pieces of short fiction on your website or blog, then tweet the link on Twitter every Friday, accompanied with #fictionfriday. He’s modeled the concept on the popular #followfriday hashtag, which is a great way for Twitter users to recommend other Twitter users to their followers.

I think Strother is onto a good idea here, so I thought I’d share. I’ll try to post some flash fiction here periodically and tweet about it and we’ll see if this thing has legs or not. I might start by tweeting about some of the flash fiction already on my Dark Shorts page. If anything comes of it, I’ll start writing some new pieces as time allows.

If you use Twitter and you’re a writer, get on board and spread the word. Do you think this idea is a good one? Share your thoughts in the comments.


A little more publishing success

May 26, 2009

This is what makes it all worthwhile.

I would write whether people wanted to read my stuff or not, let’s get that clear from the outset. I’m a writer. I have stories to tell. I love it when other people read my stories and enjoy them, especially when they tell me what moved them and why. I was ecstatic when I heard that two customers at Infinitas Books in Parramatta had pre-ordered MageSign after reading RealmShift, before I’d even finished writing it. Things like that make a writer glow inside. But, I would still write without all those things; it’s just something I’m driven to do.

However, there is always that dichotomy – I would write anyway, but I love to get published. Rejections always burn. Any writer gets used to rejections very quickly, or they stop submitting (no writer would stop writing!) But however used to rejections you get, they always burn. So that just makes the acceptances so much sweeter.

You may remember I posted at the beginning of this month about the short story submissions I had out there at the moment. A couple of the things I mentioned were:

A whimsical sci-fi vignette is under consideration at a UK based online magazine…

… I have another flash fiction piece being considered at Antipodean SF.

I’m very happy to say that they’ve both been accepted for publication. I made a mistake in my previous post saying that only the Antipodean SF one was not a paying market. As it happens, the other publication that accepted is not a paying market either. So out of eight submissions currently out there, two have been accepted. It would be nice if they were two of the paying ones rather than the only two non-paying markets, but publication is publication.

Antipodean SF is a flash fiction online magazine that is very well respected and quite a hard nut to crack. I’m very pleased to have a second piece accepted by them. The story is called The Book and will appear in issue 136 of Antipodean SF, in October this year.

The other piece is a story called Crossfire and that has been accepted by The Oddville Press, a PDF spec fic magazine. Crossfire will appear in volume 1, issue 4 of The Oddville Press, due out mid June this year.

I’ll make sure to post here and let you know when those publications are out and you can have a read.

So out of eight submissions, two have been accepted for publication, two more are shortlisted, one is longlisted and the others I’m yet to hear back on. Not a bad result all round so far. Fingers crossed that those on the shortlists will get accepted, especially as they’re the paying ones (and they’re for magazines that I really want to appear in!)

So keep at it – it’s not all rejections. You can see Antipodean SF here and The Oddville Press here – both well worth a look and both free to read.


Win a signed copy of RealmShift

May 25, 2009

I thought it was about time I ran a competition here through my website and gave away a book. I guess I’m just feeling very generous today. It’s also a transparent attempt to get more people reading my work – I’ll be honest about that from the outset in the interests of full disclosure. Of course, reading my books is reward in itself, but there’s never any harm in offering something for free.


Here’s the deal. On my website here are downloadable PDF files containing the entire first three chapters of both my novels currently available, RealmShift and the sequel, MageSign. By giving away free chapters people get a chance to try before they buy to see if they like the stories – just like thumbing through a copy in the bookstore before committing to buying one.

So, head over to the RealmShift page, download the PDF of the first three chapters, and have a read. Then see if you can answer the following question:

In the story, Isiah arranges a meeting with a small time hood who calls himself Baker. What is Baker’s real name?

Email me your answers to alan(at)alanbaxteronline(dot)com with the subject line: RealmShift competition – if you don’t include this your email is likely to get dumped as spam. Include in the email your full name and postal address along with your aswer and, in the event that you’re the winner, I’ll use that information to send you a dedicated signed trade paperback copy of RealmShift, just like the one in the picture above. I’ll pick the winner randomly using the WPANFTH method. That’s the Wife Picks A Name From The Hat method – tried and true. I’ll post here the name and location of the winner so you all know who won. Of course, I’ll only post their city and country, not their full address. That would just be irresponsible.

The Rules: By submitting an answer you indicate your acceptance of these rules. Only one entry per person – multiple submissions will ALL be disqualified from the contest. Only responses containing the correct answer to the question will be entered in the drawing. The deadline for submission of answers to this contest is 11:59 pm (Australian Eastern Time), 9th June, 2009 (two weeks from now); no submissions will be accepted after June 9th, 2009. The winner will be contacted by e-mail and her/his name and city will be posted on this blog. Decisions of the author in this matter are final and not subject to any appeal.

So, have at it! Tell all your friends, get your entry in and see if you can score yourself a free book.


What’s the one millionth word, Noob?

May 22, 2009

According to the Global Language Monitor, an association of academics that tracks the use of new words, the English language will celebrate its one millionth word next month. Just what that word might be is obviously the subject of much speculation. With the rapid growth of language recently, it could be something very weird. The massive influx of various social media and other online activities has given rise to numerous new words. In the running for the coveted one millionth spot are “defriend”, “defollow”, “greenwashing” (what companies do to appear environmentally friendly), “noob” and “chiconomics” (recession fashion).

With the huge popularity of English as a second language in Asia, recent years have been the most fertile period of word generation since William Shakespeare’s time, according to Global Language Monitor, with new terms coined on average every 98 minutes. A new word is acknowledged after it has been used 25,000 times by media outlets, on social networking websites and elsewhere. This raises two things for me – one, who counts the number of uses and two, where can I get started.

Of course, very few of us will ever use all one million words in our language. As Paul Payack, chief analyst at the Global Language Monitor, says, “The average person’s vocabulary is fewer than 14,000 words out of these million that are available. A person who is linguistically gifted would only use 70,000 words.”

As a writer, I wonder if it’s possible for me to calculate how many words I’ve used? It would be interesting if there was some way to pool all of my writing into one document and then calculate the number of different words used. Anyone know how to do this with MS Word?

Of course, there are detractors. Other liguists have expressed scepticism about the methods of the Global Language Monitor claiming, understandably really, that there is no real agreement on how to classify a word. The Language Monitor website even has a clock counting down to the one millionth word – apparently there are still 323 words to go before we hit one million.

Personally, I think it’s all bollocks. Of those one million words, there would be thousands that people just don’t use any more and new ones cropping up all the time that even the Global Language Monitor don’t notice. There are words used here in Australia that are never used elsewhere, even though we’re all speaking English. And so on.

So here’s a challenge. Let’s see if we can get a word used 25,000 times in social media before the June 10 deadline and maybe we can steal that arbitrary 1,000,000th word spot.

The word is demedia

Definition: The act of denouncing a subject that is rapidly growing purely through the media coverage of that subject.

Example: If only we could demedia Paris Hilton!

So there you go – have at it. Get that word into usage, use it on your blogs, tweet it on Twitter, use it family conversations and act like it’s a word that’s been around for ages. If it scores the one millionth word in the English language title, then it’s virtual beers all round on me.

EDIT: Check the comments. I was right – it’s all a load of bollocks (but let’s persist with this demedia idea anyway!)


Terminal Illness now added to the Dark Shorts page

May 22, 2009

I do my best to keep this site updated with as much new stuff as possible. In that regard, I’ve just added my flash fiction story Terminal Illness to the Dark Shorts page.

This story was originally published in the March 2009 edition of Antipodean SF. I was really pleased to get something accepted by Antipodean SF as it’s a web magazine that I really like, and I love their idea. They regularly publish good quality flash fiction. Flash fiction is the term used for any really short stories, usually 1,000 words or less. In the case of Antipodean SF the word limit is 500 words. I have another submission with them now that I’m waiting to hear back on.

Terminal Illness is a dark little futuristic tale. I hope you like it.


Asimov’s Robot Laws are bullshit

May 19, 2009

You may remember a little while ago I posted a video link of Isaac Asimov listing his three Robot Laws. An interesting discussion followed in the comments on that post.

I’ve just come across this article on Gizmodo that posits that those Laws are, in fact, utter bullshit. Some interesting points are raised, but I think the author over there is missing the point between mechanical tools and actual robots with AI, which is more what Asimov was referring to. Of course, that’s a whole new can of worms – how do you define what is a tool and what is a robot and where do you allow AI?

Any ideas, drop a comment.


The posts that never die

May 18, 2009

Sometimes you write a blog post and get the feeling that not a single soul ever read it. Other times you write something and it sets a fire under someone. This has happened recently. I don’t know how many of you go back and check old posts for new comments – my guess is none of you.

So I thought I’d bring this to your attention. Back at the end of December last year I wrote a post about the bizarre rise of “Real Life Superheroes”. It was a small and innocuous post, mainly taking the piss out of a couple of losers that were learning that life isn’t like the comics. However, it turns out that there are people out there that take themselves way more seriously and get upset about bad superhero press.

Here’s the post in question. Have a quick read, then be entertained by the stream of comments. It’s still going strong even today. Feel free to add your comments and take this rare opportunity to engage with a real life superhero.


Avoid the old cliches and let originality shine

May 14, 2009

Too often in fiction writing, especially short fiction, tired old ideas get recycled more often than grandad’s underpants when nanna goes on a coach trip. We’ve all heard the old, “And then he woke up and it was all a dream” example. That’s probably the most famous of the overused tropes and I fervently hope that no-one beyond grade 3 ever uses it again.

But there are a lot more tired old ideas that many people seem to think are still valid. You can take an old idea and put a new spin on it, but that’s a lot harder than you might imagine. I try it all the time and I often have to abort and start something new because I just can’t find the angle I’m looking for. The better idea is to try to come up with all new, original ideas.

Of course, there are only seven plots in existence (or whatever version of that old cliche you prefer) but there are numerous new ideas to play with. It’s the worn out old plots and twists that you should really avoid if you want to have a distinctive, original voice as a writer.

Strange Horizons is a weekly web-based magazine of and about speculative fiction. They have two great lists on their website of old ideas writers should avoid. One list is in general storytelling, the other is specific to horror. These are the best examples of lists like these that I’ve seen, so I’m linking them here. If you reproduce this post, be sure to credit Strange Horizons. You can find the general list here and the horror list here on the Strange Horizons site – they get updated, so check back from time to time. Take a while to read these – you’ll be doing yourself a favour.



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.

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