Monthly Archives: March 2012

Batman pulled over by cops, turns out to be a real hero

March 30, 2012

This is such a great story. You’ll know I have a bit a of a predilection for Real Life Superhero stories if you’ve been reading this blog for long. One of the greatest posts ever ended up with actual Real Life Super Heroes (RLSH) arguing in the comments, which subsequently had to be closed. Golden days. But I always keep an eye out for stories along those lines and this one is gold.

Lenny BatMeet Lenny B. Robinson, AKA Batman. He was pulled over by cops recently because his black Lamborghini didn’t have licence plates. Just Bat symbols. You’re thinking this guy is a complete nutcase, right? Well, you’re wrong. The man is a legend. He’s a rich guy, using his money for good, just like the real Bruce Wayne.

He visits sick kids in hospital, dressed as Batman, and brings them all kinds of Batman paraphenalia like books, rubber bracelets, toys. He signs the books, t-shirts and other gifts as Batman. His custom-made suit cost $5,000. He spends around $25,000 a year on gifts for the kids and is having a Batmobile (modeled on the one from the movies, but I’m not sure which movie) built for $250,000. All this without seeking publicity. The only reason we know about him is because he got pulled over and people snapped pics of him talking to police and those pics went viral. Subsequently, journalist Mischael S Rosenwald, a personal friend, has written this piece all about him. It’s a really touching story – go read it now.

You want a real life super hero? You got one, in Lenny B Batman Robinson. Well done, sir!


A tale of two editors, and a tale

March 28, 2012

Submitting work for publication is a complete lottery. But it’s a lottery we can stack in our favour. The simple fact is that publication comes from a variety of efforts. I wrote a piece before about what I considered the essential factors in success. It basically boils down to dreams, talent, determination, friends and luck. All of which you can develop. Or, as my writerly friend Angela Slatter said recently, you have to appease “the Gods of Writing (also known as Fear, Famine and Fuck-you).” You’ll see a post from Angela soon, where she says that, and you’ll know what I’m on about.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up now is because I had an experience recently which helps to highlight how we can develop those essential criteria of success. It comes down to interpretation, and seeing through the incandescent veil of ego to the reality behind our work.

I recently had a short story submission rejected by an editor who said, and I paraphrase, “This is a great story, but I felt the lack of an explanation of the relationship between X and Y let it down.”

Fair enough, thought I. That’s something to consider. After all, we should always carefully consider any editorial feedback we get. We don’t have to take any advice, but it behoves us to at least consider the comments. I reread the story. Thought about it. Put aside my internal princess and accepted that perhaps the editor had a point.

I addressed the point, developed, within the story, the relationship between X and Y, in order to smooth out that narrative issue. I sent the story out into the wild again.

The next editor rejected it. This editor said, and again, I paraphrase, “Great story, really enjoyed it, but I felt it slowed down with the unnecessary explanation of the relationship between X and Y.”

My first reaction, naturally, was something like, “What the shit, editors!? What the fuck is wrong with you people!? Can’t you decide on what you want? Can’t you see the beauty within this story, the exquisite nuance of X and Y and what that means for my protagonist?”

That, of course, was my internal princess throwing a hissy fit, wearing her biggest veil of incandescent ego. The only way we get anywhere in this game is to give that aspect of ourselves a moment’s freedom (so we don’t explode, and always in the privacy of our own boudoir), then rein it in and say, “Calm the fuck down and have a proper look.”

The truth is, I’m sure both editors are right. I’m the one with the problem. Editor A was right that the relationship between X and Y needed better explanation. It’s not a romantic relationship, by the way, simply the nature of two characters and how they affect and reflect each other and therefore the protagonist.

Editor B was also right. Not because that relationship didn’t need to be explained, but because I probably made something of a hack job of doing it. I can choose to be prissy about it, or I can choose to be a grown-up and learn from it. Develop my craft. Improve my story. I choose life.

So I need to develop that aspect of the yarn in a better, more professional way. I’ll work on that now and hopefully editor C will see the shining gem that I’ve polished into existence and offer me buckets of cash to publish it. Maybe not, but we have to keep believing or we’d just curl up and die. Or go and get a different job. And honestly, hard and unforgiving as it is, being paid to make shit up is the best freaking job in the world. What’s important is learning and growing and never thinking we’re some special snowflake.

So now I’m off to sort that story out. And then get back to editing the next novel, which was recently eviscerated by the aforementioned Angela Slatter. Man, that woman is a harsh critter. But she’s also an excellent writer and knows her shit. Off I go to learn some more.


Tuesday Toot – Angel Leigh McCoy

March 27, 2012

Tuesday Toot is a semi-regular feature here at The Word. An invite-only series of short posts where writers, editors, booksellers and other creatives have been asked to share their stuff and toot their own horn. It’s hard to be seen in the digital morass and hopefully this occasional segment will help some of the quality stuff out there get noticed. It should all be things that readers of The Word will find edifying.

This week, it’s Angel Leigh McCoy tooting. You might recognise the name – she’s in charge of Wily Writers, one of my favourite fiction podcasts/publishers. They’ve published a couple of my stories (Stand Off and Declan’s Plan) and loads of other good stuff. I was also recently a guest editor there and got to pick two stories for publication. So I’m very happy to give Angel some space here today.

ALMWho is Angel?

I’m hijacking my own bio space to say two things, Alan. First, OMG! Your novel is on Audible! You have no idea how happy that makes me. I read audio books while I’m commuting across the Seattle asphaultscape to and from work. So psyched! [Thanks! – Alan] And secondly, I just want to say I love that I get to toot today in public and not feel embarrassed. Thank you for allowing me a little swatch of your blogspace.

When you get to be my age, your bio becomes a daunting exercise in what to leave out, so I’ll just mention that I live in the upper-left corner of the USA, with three loving cats. Oh, and I’m a writer. During the day, I work at a company called ArenaNet, writing dialogue for a little game called Guild Wars 2. The Border House recently published a two-part interview with me, in which I talk about game design and the sylvari race of characters in the game. I’ve been a game writer for almost 20 years, so you can guess how much I love my job.

Best of Wily WritersWhat are you tooting?

As for what I’m tooting today, I want to tell your peeps about my speculative fiction podcast,Wily Writers. Folks, you may have listened to a couple of Alan’s incredible stories there, but if you haven’t, go do so! You’ll enjoy them. We liked his story “Stand Off” so well that we put it into our first Best of Wily Writers anthology alongside a primo selection of our best from 2010. We’ve also recently released our second collection of the Best of Wily Writers.

Wily Writers is all speculative fiction, all the time, and that means some of the best horror, fantasy, and science fiction out there today. Also, we just became a pro-rate market, so if you’re a writer, check out our submission guidelines. We have a special contest coming up for SpecFicNZ members. SpecFicNZ is a New Zealand writers organization.

I also wanted to mention a little story I wrote, a novella, called “Charlie Darwin; Or, the Trine of 1809.” “Charlie Darwin” is about three boys who get kidnapped and taken to a magical dimension land while in their formative years. These boys are Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Charlie DarwinIn real life, these three were born within a month of each other, and all three went on to become extremely influential in the world. The story I wrote suggests that maybe the reason these men lived such amazing lives was because they had an adventure when they were nine years old that opened their minds to possibilities others couldn’t imagine.

The story is great to read to your kids, but it’s also fun for adults. I had an awesome time doing research, and I wove some of their futures into their pasts.

That’s all I wanted to tell you about today. I’ll leave you with this brief excerpt from “Charlie Darwin.” If you end up reading the rest of the story, please do drop me an email and let me know what you thought.


“What in tarnation?”

The strange words awakened young Charlie Darwin. He wasn’t positive what they meant, spoken as they were with unfamiliar inflection, but he got the gist. Charlie pushed up on one elbow and gawped. He lay on the deck of a galleon constructed and carved of dark wood. It swayed and swashed as if afloat.

A bean-pole of a boy with ragged brown hair was pacing back and forth, his unpolished boots thudding upon the deck. He was the one who had spoken.

Another boy lay on the deck next to Charlie. He slept, eyes closed, mouth open, snoring a wheezy little snore. He wore a black suit and had hair as slick as a raven’s feathers.

Charlie spied a man on the quarter deck, standing at the helm, attention focused on adjusting a set of brass levers. He wore white from head to toe, including cowboy boots, a European-style cloak, a knee-length Templar tunic (slit to reveal fringed chaps) and a ten-gallon hat on his head. The wind whipped his cloak out behind him and flattened the tunic to his thighs.

Charlie’s perusal of the man was curtailed by a thunderous whoosh from overhead. He ducked, covered his ears, and looked up. Where he had expected to see sails pulled taut by the wind, he found a trio of white balloons tethered to the boat with criss-crossing ropes. It took a moment for the sight to sink in and for his brain to analyze what he was seeing, but only a moment. In the next instant, he was up and running to the deck railing so he could look out over the ocean. It was there, vast and blue-gray, but it was far, far below.

Charlie sat down and wrapped his arms around his knees.

“You okay?” asked the tall, thin boy.

“I don’t like heights.”

The other boy patted Charlie on the shoulder. “Sorry about that.” He plopped down too. “You’re awake.”

“That remains to be seen,” Charlie said.

Read the rest of “Charlie Darwin”.

Find Angel at her website:

Tweet her at @AngelMcCoy and find her on Facebook!

You really don’t need me to tell you again how good Wily Writers is, but I’m going to anyway. Seriously, get over there and get your fix of great spec fic, in text and podcast flavours. – Alan


Guest post at The Great Raven

March 26, 2012

My dark fairy story, The Everywhere And The Always, was recently published in the Mythic Resonance anthology. One of the other contributing authors, Sue Bursztynski, has been having a series of guest posts about it on her blog. My post is up now, wherein I talk about mythology, folklore and the beauty of storytelling. Among other things. Tis here.


The Darkest Shade Of Grey ebook now available

March 23, 2012

DSOG-coverI’m really excited about this, so excuse me while I Snoppy Dance. My novella, The Darkest Shade Of Grey, is now available as an ebook, from Amazon and Smashwords. It’ll soon populate out through the Smashwords Premium catalogue to iBooks and all the other good places for ebooks.

David Johanssen’s drinking problem goes beyond the usual need for self-medication. He sees things he shouldn’t be able to see, things no one could handle seeing. And he has no one but himself to blame.

When a chance encounter offers the possibility of answers, he follows the bloody trail in spite of his own fears. It could be the big story he needs to keep his job. It could be the meaning of life. Or it could be the end of his world.

The story is published by The Red Penny Papers, and serialised on their site in four parts. Those four parts and a mini interview with me have subsequently been collected into this ebook edition, which will only cost US$1.99 of your Earth money. Less than half a cup of coffee for what the publisher calls “stunning supernatural noir”. How can you go wrong?

Don’t trust me or the publisher? Well, don’t panic. I’m also Snoopy Dancing due to this excellent review of The Darkest Shade Of Grey from the Australian Godfather of Darkness, Robert Hood. I couldn’t be happier that someone I respect as much as Robert Hood enjoyed my work and gets what I was trying to do. Thanks, Rob, for a great review!

I’m very proud of this story and pleased that it’s been publihsed by such a classy outfit as The Red Penny Papers. Go get some. If you do read it and enjoy it, please leave a review at Amazon, Smashwords or wherever else you usually hang out. Reviews are the very life essence of a writer’s career. Well, actually, love and royalties are the real life essence, but they’re powered by reviews.

The Darkest Shade Of Grey at Amazon.

The Darkest Shade Of Grey at Smashwords.

The Darkest Shade Of Grey at The Red Penny Papers.


Year Of The Novel, with me

March 22, 2012

Ever wanted to write a novel but can’t find the time? Feel like you’re on your own and have no support or encouragement? I’m here to help. I’m actually quite honoured, since The Australian Writers’ Marketplace have asked me to get involved with the latest Year Of The Novel project as facilitator.

This course is all about supporting you to get that novel written. It’s a year-long course, organised over 26 fortnightly sessions, with information and practical activities for you to complete, and I’ll be along for the ride leading you through the process, and shouting motivational slogans from the sidelines.

There are audio files from award-winning author Kim Wilkins to guide you through the activities, and discussion forums for you to share your ideas and your writing with me and fellow participants. And let me say, Kim Wilkins lessons are excellent. I think anyone with a desire to write a novel will get a lot of value from this course. And, with any luck, by the end of it you’ll have a novel!

Here’s a link to help you find the details.


2011 Aurealis Awards finalists announced

March 20, 2012

SpecFaction NSW, organisers of the 2010 and 2011 Aurealis Awards, have announced the finalists for the 2011 Aurealis Awards. Congratulations to all the nominees!


The Undivided by Jennifer Fallon (HarperVoyager)

Ember and Ash by Pamela Freeman (Hachette)

Stormlord’s Exile by Glenda Larke (HarperVoyager)

Debris by Jo Anderton (Angry Robot)

The Shattered City by Tansy Rayner Roberts (HarperVoyager)


“Fruit of the Pipal Tree” by Thoraiya Dyer (After the Rain, FableCroft Publishing)

“The Proving of Smollett Standforth” by Margo Lanagan (Ghosts by Gaslight, HarperVoyager)

“Into the Clouds on High” by Margo Lanagan (Yellowcake, Allen & Unwin)

“Reading Coffee” by Anthony Panegyris (Overland)

“The Dark Night of Anton Weiss” by D.C. White (More Scary Kisses, Ticonderoga Publications)


Machine Man by Max Barry (Scribe Publications)

Children of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy (HarperVoyager)

The Waterboys by Peter Docker (Fremantle Press)

Black Glass by Meg Mundell (Scribe Publications)

The Courier’s New Bicycle by Kim Westwood (HarperVoyager)


“Flowers in the Shadow of the Garden” by Joanne Anderton (Hope, Kayelle Press)

“Desert Madonna” by Robert Hood (Anywhere but Earth, Couer de Lion)

“SIBO” by Penelope Love (Anywhere but Earth, Couer de Lion)

“Dead Low” by Cat Sparks (Midnight Echo)

“Rains of la Strange” by Robert N Stephenson (Anywhere but Earth, Couer de Lion)



The Broken Ones by Stephen M. Irwin (Hachette)

The Business of Death by Trent Jamieson (Hachette)


“And the Dead Shall Outnumber the Living” by Deborah Biancotti (Ishtar, Gilgamesh Press)

“The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burnt” by Paul Haines (The Last Days of Kali YugaBrimstone Press)

“The Short Go: a Future in Eight Seconds” by Lisa L. Hannett (Bluegrass Symphony, Ticonderoga Publications)

“Mulberry Boys” by Margo Lanagan (Blood and Other Cravings, Tor)

“The Coffin Maker’s Daughter” by Angela Slatter (A Book of Horrors, Quercus)


Shift by Em Bailey (Hardie Grant Egmont)

Secrets of Carrick: Tantony by Ananda Braxton-Smith (black dog books)

The Shattering by Karen Healey (Allen & Unwin)

Black Glass by Meg Mundell (Scribe Publications)

Only Ever Always by Penni Russon (Allen & Unwin)


“Nation of the Night” by Sue Isle (Nightsiders, Twelfth Planet Press)

“Finishing School” by Kathleen Jennings (Steampunk! An anthology of fantastically rich and strange stories, Candlewick Press)

“Seventy-Two Derwents” by Cate Kennedy (The Wicked Wood – Tales from the Tower Volume 2, Allen and Unwin)

“One Window” by Martine Murray (The Wilful Eye: Tales from the Tower Volume 1, Allen and Unwin)

“The Patrician” by Tansy Rayner Roberts (Love and Romanpunk, Twelfth Planet Press)

CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through words)

The Outcasts by John Flanagan (Random House Australia)

The Paradise Trap by Catherine Jinks (Allen & Unwin)

“It Began with a Tingle” by Thalia Kalkapsakis (Headspinners, Allen & Unwin)

The Coming of the Whirlpool by Andrew McGahan (Allen & Unwin)

City of Lies by Lian Tanner (Allen & Unwin)

CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through pictures)

The Ghost of Annabel Spoon by Aaron Blabey (author and illustrator) (Penguin/ Viking Books)

Sounds Spooky by Christopher Cheng (author) and Sarah Davis (illustrator) (Random House Australia)

The Last Viking by Norman Jorgensen (author) and James Foley (illustrator) (Fremantle Press)

The Deep: Here be Dragons by Tom Taylor (author) and James Brouwer (illustrator) (Gestault Publishing)

Vampyre by Margaret Wild (author) and Andrew Yeo (illustrator) (Walker Books)


Hidden by Mirranda Burton (author and illustrator ) (Black Pepper)

Torn by Andrew Constant (author) and Joh James (illustrator ), additional illustrators Nicola Scott, Emily Smith (Gestalt Publishing)

Salsa Invertebraxa by Mozchops (author and illustrator) (Pecksniff Press)

The Eldritch Kid: Whiskey and Hate by Christian Read (author) and Michael Maier (illustrator) (Gestalt Publishing)

The Deep: Here be Dragons by Tom Taylor (author) and James Brouwer (illustrator) (Gestault Publishing)


Ghosts by Gaslight edited by Jack Dann and Nick Gevers (HarperVoyager)

Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2010 edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (Ticonderoga Publications)

Ishtar edited by Amanda Pillar and KV Taylor (Gilgamesh Press)

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume 5 edited by Jonathan Strahan (Night Shade Books)
Life on Mars edited by Jonathan Strahan (Viking)


Bad Power by Deborah Biancotti (Twelfth Planet Press)

Last Days of Kali Yuga by Paul Haines (Brimstone Press)

Bluegrass Symphony by Lisa Hannett (Ticonderoga Publications)

Nightsiders by Sue Isle (Twelfth Planet Press)

Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts (Twelfth Planet Press)


Tuesday Toot – Lee Battersby

March 20, 2012

Tuesday Toot is a semi-regular feature here at The Word. An invite-only series of short posts where writers, editors, booksellers and other creatives have been asked to share their stuff and toot their own horn. It’s hard to be seen in the digital morass and hopefully this occasional segment will help some of the quality stuff out there get noticed. It should all be things that readers of The Word will find edifying.

This weeks it’s Angry Robot Open Door Month survivor, Lee Batterby.

Who is Lee?

Lee is the author of over 70 stories in Australia, the US and Europe, with appearances in markets such as “Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror”, “Year’s Best Australian SF & F”, and “Writers of the Future”. A collection of his work, entitled “Through Soft Air” from Prime Books. He’s taught at Clarion South and developed and delivered a six-week “Writing the SF Short Story” course for the Australian Writers Marketplace. His work has been praised for its consistent attention to voice and narrative muscle, and has resulted in a number of awards including the Aurealis, Australian Shadows and Australia SF ‘Ditmar’ gongs.

He lives in Mandurah, Western Australia, with his wife, writer Lyn Battersby, and an increasingly weird mob of kids. He is sadly obsessed with Lego, Nottingham Forest football club, dinosaurs and Daleks. He’s been a stand-up comic, tennis coach, cartoonist, poet, and tax officer in previous times, and he currently works as Arts Officer for a local council, where he gets to play with artists all day. All in all, life is pretty good.

CRKWhat are you tooting?

This is the cover to my upcoming novel ‘The Corpse-Rat King’, via Angry Robot Books. It’s been designed by Nick Castle, of Nick Castle Designs, and is, in my prejudiced view, completely bloody lovely. The novel itself follows Marius dos Hellespont, a professional thief, conman and looter of battlefields, as he is despatched by the denizens of the Underworld to recruit a King for the Dead. There’s been a terrible mix-up, you see, and they thought *he* was the King, and once they realised their mistake, well, they weren’t going to blame themselves, were they? The dead need a King– the King is God’s representative on Earth, and they need him to remind God that they’re still down here, waiting for admission into the afterlife. Faced with his mission, Marius does the only reasonable, sane thing possible: runs for his freaking life. Or death. He’s not quite sure which, yet.

The book is. I hope, a romp, by turns dark, funny, horrific, and darkly horrifically funny. Not to mention that everybody says ‘fuck’ a lot and there’s a lot of gross corpse jokes. It’s a survivor of the first Angry Robot Open Submission month, where over 980 submitted manuscripts where whittled down to just 3 sales, and is on sale come September, with its sequel, ‘Marching Dead’ hitting shelves in 2013. But really, if that cover doesn’t get you hot, what more can I do?

I have to say, that is one sweet cover. I’ve read a number of Lee’s short stories and I’m really looking forward to The Corpse-Rat King. Congratulations to Lee on getting noticed among a thousand hopeful novelists. – Alan


Great news to wake up to

March 18, 2012

I woke up this morning (Sunday) to a few congratulatory messages from friends and discovered that my story, Punishment Of The Sun, from the Dead Red Heart anthology published by Ticonderoga Publications, was included in Ellen Datlow’s Honorable Mention list in The Best Horror of the Year #4.

I’m so pleased with this news. When I decided to submit a story for this anthology of Australian vampire fiction it was important to me to write a story where the vampires were as they should be (in my opinion) and that’s feral, nasty bastards who feed on humans without care or moral discomfort. They needed to be proper horror monsters. So for Ellen to pick the story for an Honorable Mention is a great indicator that maybe I achieved what I set out to. My thanks to Ellen Datlow for picking the story and thanks to Russell B Farr at Ticonderoga for publishing it.

Congrats to all the others listed. Here’s the full list, at Ellen’s LiveJournal.


2012 Ditmar Awards now open for nominations

March 15, 2012

The Australian spec-fic fan-voted Ditmar Awards are now open for nominations. Any active fan or member of Continuum can vote. Continuum is the Melbourne SF convention, which is this year’s NatCon, and will be happening in June. The Ditmars are always awarded during the annual NatCon. You can vote electronically here: and electronic voting is open until April 15th.

All the rules and details are here:

There’s also a massive, though probably not comprehensive, list of eligible works here: This list is a good place to start reminding yourself of what you read and enjoyed last year.

Just to make it easy for you, I’ll list below my own work that’s eligible. If you’ve enjoyed any of these, I’d greatly appreciate your vote.

Eligible in the Best Short Story category:

“Declan’s Plan”, Alan Baxter, in Wily Writer’s Podcast, April 3, 2011. (You can listen to the podcast or read the text of this one here.)

“Dream Shadow”, Alan Baxter, in Winds of Change, CSFG Publishing.

“Duty and Sacrifice”, Alan Baxter, in Hope, Kayelle Press.

“Mirrorwalk”, Alan Baxter, in Murky Depths 16.

“Punishment of the Sun”, Alan Baxter, in Dead Red Heart, Ticonderoga Publications.

“The 7 Garages of Kevin Simpson”, Alan Baxter, in Pseudopod 242. (That podcast is here, and I reproduced the text right here on this site for people to read along.)

“Trawling The Void”, Alan Baxter, in Midnight Echo 6, Australian Horror Writers Association.

“Unexpected Launch”, Alan Baxter, in Anywhere but Earth, Coeur de Lion Publishing.

And, on the Ditmar Wiki, my name has also been put forward in the Best New Talent category, so there’s that too!

Please do get active and vote. Not necessarily for my work, but for whatever work you really enjoyed in 2011. The more people that get involved and vote, the more realistic and honest the resulting awards. When it comes to fan-voted (as opposed to judging panel) awards, it’s important to get as many votes in as possible. And voting really couldn’t be easier. So if you’ve read something you enjoyed, take a few minutes and vote for it. Make your voice heard and give that good work the recognition it deserves.

I’m off to place my votes now.



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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