365 Shorts – 1st Quarter update

So, back on December 10th I posted this. In a nutshell, I set myself a challenge to read 365 short stories during 2013. And I expected to fail. Well, bizarrely, I’m actually ahead of schedule at the moment. I know, I’m as surprised as you are. You’re surprised, right?

Firstly, I should point out that I made a couple of small changes to the rules. Get fucked, it’s my game. I can make whatever rule changes I like. Basically, it occurred to me that if I set the challenge for all of 2013, the end would be at the busy Xmas/New Year time and might get lost or forgotten. So I decided to start my year on December 1st, 2012 and run till November 30th, 2013. As I’d just read a short story collection, it seemed fitting. So I started to record all my short fiction reading from then. I set up a document in Dropbox that I can access and edit in Documents To Go on my iPhone or iPad, or just edit directly from my laptop. That way, it’s easy to update the list wherever I am and whatever format I’m reading in (ebook, online, printed book, podcast, etc.)

Now is the end of February, which makes three months, or one quarter of the year down. I just did a quick calculation and I’ve read 153 stories so far. If I want to make 365 stories in a year, I need to average just over thirty stories a month, or about 93 stories every quarter. I’m leaps and bounds ahead of schedule at the moment. That does include a week’s holiday up in the Snowy Mountains, where I read almost nothing but short fiction, as I had two issues of Midnight Echo to catch up on, and a couple of anthologies. But even so, I’m taking it as an auspicious start. I have a pile of anthologies still to go in my reading pile, plus the usual selection of magazines (print and online) that I read, and regular podcast listening. At this stage, I’m quietly confident that I might succeed in my challenge. Of course, it could all turn to shit at any moment.

One thing that really helps is the awesome Daily Science Fiction. Not only because they published me at the end of last year (and no, I’m not including my own stories in the challenge!) but because every weekday they drop a new story in my inbox. I don’t read them all – if I get more than a day or two behind, I let the ones I’ve missed go, but I try to read them all. And it’s certainly helping my total.

Anyway, enough waffle. I’ve set up a page here, where I’ve listed all the stories I’ve read so far. I’ll update it either monthly or quarterly or whatever, and each time I do I’ll post here so you can keep up if you’re interested. Of course, it can fall apart at any time, so if you never hear about this again, don’t you dare remind me!

How about you? Are you playing along? How are your numbers so far?

365 Shorts 2012/13 – My reading so far.

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“The Fathomed Wreck To See” to be published in Midnight Echo #9

AHWA_logo3 copyI’m very happy to announce that my modern myth-based horror story, “The Fathomed Wreck To See”, will be published in Midnight Echo #9. This particular issue called for horror stories based on a modernisation of any established legend or myth. I won’t spill exactly what direction I took, but it’s a story I’m very of, and I’m really pleased it’s found a home here (with thanks to the Drs Brain for their invaluable help!). Midnight Echo is the official magazine of the Australia Horror Writers’ Association, and one of my favourite publications. It’s a big old glossy magazine, always packed full of excellent fiction, articles, art and more. It’s available in electronic form as well, of course. I was published in Midnight Echo once before, in issue 6, the sci-fi horror special.

Issue 9 already has confirmed contributions from Jonathan Maberry (a Joe Ledger short story), James A Moore (a Jonathan Crowley tale), and Robin Firth (a non-fiction dissection of the myths within Stephen King’s Dark Tower series), as well as the selection of submitted short fiction including my story. The full Table of Contents has yet to be announced, but I’m already excited.

You can learn more about Midnight Echo here, and Issue 10 submission guidelines are already up. Ghost stories!

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Black Feathers: The Black Dawn, Volume One by Joseph D’Lacey – review

BlackFeathersBlack Feathers: The Black Dawn, Volume One
by Joseph D’Lacey
Published by Angry Robot Books
UK ISBN – 978-0-85766-345-0
US ISBN – 978-0-85766-344-3

Black Feathers is the first volume in a new horror series by Joseph D’Lacey. The story follows two main threads simultaneously. We have young Gordon Black, a thirteen year old boy living in a slightly alternate version of our own modern day. In Gordon’s England, the world is sinking into economic collapse and being ravaged by various naturally destructive phenomena like solar flares and earthquakes. The land is ruled with an iron fist by The Ward, a combination of brutally right wing political party and zealous corporate conglomerate, driven by a greed for money and power. The people of most countries have voted The Ward into control globally after the successful lobbying of the party to convince the populace that only The Ward can protect the people against the swift descent into Armageddon facing them all.

Concurrent with this story is the tale of Megan Maurice, a young girl living far in the future, in a green and pleasant post-apocalyptic land where people have returned to living with the Earth, putting back as much as they take out and revering the Great Spirit and The Earth Mother. Megan is approached by Mr Keeper, a very revered holy man among the people, and he tells her that it is her destiny to walk the Black Feathered Path. This is a path of Shamanic learning, where she puts herself in the path of the stories of the Crowman, for someone must keep the tales alive in order to never lose the knowledge.

By now I’m sure you’re getting the feel for where this book is going. Gordon’s family are abducted by The Ward, but Gordon escapes and goes on the run. He is told he must find The Crowman, a terrifying creature of modern legend who some say is pure evil and others say is a force for good. As Gordon runs, the world descends quickly into its destructive cycle as the Earth Mother shakes off the scourge of humanity and The Ward are desperately hunting Gordon, as he is prophesied to usher in the end times, which is something they can’t allow if they are to maintain their grip on power and profit.

It should be quite clear by now that this is a book with a very clear and unashamed agenda. D’Lacey has an affinity for the Native American mythology of the Earth and it manifests throughout this narrative. The thing is, D’Lacey is a brilliant writer and while the message is something of a sledgehammer throughout, the story, the characterisation and the sheer beauty of the prose make that okay. This is an excellent story, very well told.

Read the rest of this review over at Thirteen O’Clock.

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Emma Newman and Between Two Thorns

If you’re a regular here, the name Emma Newman probably rings some bells. It should, because she’s a mighty talented person and I’ve talked about her a bit. I was lucky enough to be asked by her publisher to pre-review and blurb her short fiction collection, From Dark Places. You can see that review here. I was also happy to host one of her Split Worlds stories here last year.

Well, now the Split Worlds has expanded into the first of a series of novels, published by Angry Robot Books, called Between Two Thorns. And the reason I’m talking about it now is because there’s a sweet little pre-order special offer happening.

Between Two Thorns is an urban fantasy novel. Here’s the blurb:

Something is wrong in Aquae Sulis, Bath’s secret mirror city.

The new season is starting and the Master of Ceremonies is missing. Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, is assigned with the task of finding him with no one to help but a dislocated soul and a mad sorcerer.

There is a witness but his memories have been bound by magical chains only the enemy can break. A rebellious woman trying to escape her family may prove to be the ally Max needs.

But can she be trusted? And why does she want to give up eternal youth and the life of privilege she’s been born into?

Sound interesting? Well, here’s the offer:

Pre-order a copy of Between Two Thorns for a chance to win a great prize!

BetweenTwoThorns-COVER1-e1355137730189Pre-order a copy of Between Two Thorns and you’ll be entered into a prize draw. If you win, you’ll have a character named after you in All Is Fair – the third Split Worlds novel (released October 2013) – and a special mention at the end of the book.

You have to admit, that’s a pretty cool prize.

How to Enter

Pre-order a copy of the book from your favourite retailer (if you pre-order from Forbidden Planet you’ll get a signed copy).

If you order from Forbidden Planet or robottradingcompany.com (for ebooks) you don’t need to do anything else – Angry Robot will take care of your entry for you. If you pre-order from anywhere else you’ll need to email a copy of your order confirmation to: thorns AT angryrobotbooks.com and they’ll assign a number to you.

Here are links to all the places you can pre-order:

Forbidden Planet (signed paperback) http://forbiddenplanet.com/97907-between-two-thorns/

Angry Robot Trading company – for DRM-free ebook http://www.robottradingcompany.com/between-two-thorns-emma-newman.html

Amazon (paperback) UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Between-Two-Thorns-Split-World/dp/0857663194/

US http://www.amazon.com/Between-Two-Thorns-Emma-Newman/dp/0857663208/

The Book depository (Worldwide free postage)

UK Edition http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Between-Two-Thorns-Emma-Newman/9780857663191

US Edition (bigger) http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Between-Two-Thorns-Emma-Newman/9780857663207

There are two UK launches and an international one using the magic of telephone conferencing. All the details are here: http://www.enewman.co.uk/real-world-adventures/between-two-thorns-launches-prizes-and-parties

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It’s Ditmar time again, so get nominating

Firstly, I would direct your attention to this post, which I wrote last year and which is just as relevant now as it was then. Bear in mind that the links in that post are old, so make sure you use the links in this post. Anyway, this post is to point out that the Ditmar Awards are now officially open for nominations and will remain open until one minute before midnight Canberra time on Wednesday, 20th of March, 2013 (ie. 11.59pm, GMT+10). I will list at the end of the post all my eligible work, in case you were thinking of slinging a nomination my way. And, if you weren’t, you can read a lot of my eligible work online, so maybe you’d like to have a read and then sling a nomination my way. I’d be very grateful.

I’ll certainly be thinking hard about what’s moved me this year and making my nominations. You read that post I linked above, right? Well, then you must nominate, just as you must vote. You can nominate work if you’re a “natural persons active in fandom, or from full or supporting members of Conflux 9, the 2013 Australian National SF Convention. Where a nominator may not be known to the Ditmar subcommittee, the nominator should provide the name of someone known to the subcommittee who can vouch for the nominator’s eligibility. Convention attendance or membership of an SF club are among the criteria which qualify a person as “active in fandom”, but are not the only qualifying criteria. If in doubt, nominate and mention your qualifying criteria.”

What does that mean? Well, if you’re even vaguely active in the Australian scene, you can nominate. So get your nominations in!

The current rules, including Award categories can be found at:

http://wiki.sf.org.au/Ditmar_rules

A partial and unofficial eligibility list, to which everyone is encouraged to add, can be found here:

http://wiki.sf.org.au/2013_Ditmar_eligibility_list

While online nominations are preferred, nominations can be made in a number of ways:

1. online, via this form:

http://ditmars.sf.org.au/2013/nominations.html

2. via email to ditmars@sf.org.au; or

3. by post to:

Ditmars
6 Florence Road
NEDLANDS WA 6009
AUSTRALIA

So that’s the official stuff. Now for the personal stuff. As promised, here are my eligible works this year.

Best Novella or Novelette
(Novella or Novelette: A Novella or Novelette is any work of sf/f/h of 7,500 to 40,000 words.)

The Darkest Shade of Grey“, by Alan Baxter, published by The Red Penny Papers.

You can read this entire novelette online for free at Red Penny Papers, or buy it as an ebook for just $1.99. I’m really proud of this piece and it has particular personal resonance for me for other reasons that I won’t go into here. But I would really love to see it get a bit of attention on the ballot. If you nominate nothing else, I’d love you to nominate this one (assuming you’ve read and enjoyed it, of course!)

Then there are my eligible short fiction works. Some of these are available to read online too, so if the title is a link, click it to read it.

Best Short Story
(Short Story: A Short Story is any work of sf/f/h less than 7,500 words.)

“Burning, Always Burning”, Alan Baxter and Felicity Dowker, in Damnation and Dames, Ticonderoga Publications.

“Cephalopoda Obsessia”, Alan Baxter, in Bloodstones, Ticonderoga Publications.

Crossroads and Carousels“, Alan Baxter, in The Red Penny Papers, Fall 2012.

“Fear is the Sin”, Alan Baxter, in From Stage Door Shadows, eMergent Publishing.

“In the Name of the Father”, Alan Baxter, in The One That Got Away, Dark Prints Press.

Salvage in the Void“, Alan Baxter, in Kasma SF Magazine.

“The Everywhere And The Always”, Alan Baxter, in Mythic Resonance, The Specusphere and Esstee Media.

The Goodbye Message“, Alan Baxter, in ticon4, April 2, 2012.

Tiny Lives“, Alan Baxter, in Daily Science Fiction, December 25th, 2012.

I’ve also just noticed that my name crops up in a couple of other places on the eligibility list. So those are here:

Best Fan Writer
Fan Writer and Fan Artist: These awards are made to writers or artists for a work or body of work first published, released, or made available for public viewing in the eligible calendar year. The writer or artist must have received no payment other than contributor copies and other incidentals (coffee mug, t-shirt, poster, etc.)

Alan Baxter, for body of work including reviews in Thirteen O’Clock.

William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review
The William Atheling Jr Award: The William Atheling Jr Award is for the writing or editing of a work or a group of related works of criticism or review pertaining to the genres of science fiction, fantasy, or horror.

Alan Baxter, for review of A Haunting of Ghosts by Maynard Sims, in Thirteen O’Clock.
Alan Baxter, for review of Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig, in Thirteen O’Clock.
Alan Baxter, for review of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (movie), in Thirteen O’Clock.
Alan Baxter, for review of Dredd (movie), in Thirteen O’Clock.
Alan Baxter, for review of El Orfanto (movie), in Thirteen O’Clock.
Alan Baxter, for review of Ishtar edited by Amada Pillar and K.V. Taylor, in Thirteen O’Clock.
Alan Baxter, for review of Killeroo Gangwar by Darren Close and Paul Abstruse, in Thirteen O’Clock.
Alan Baxter, for review of Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig, in Thirteen O’Clock.
Alan Baxter, for review of Rope by Martin Livings, in Thirteen O’Clock.
Alan Baxter, for review of Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan, in Thirteen O’Clock.
Alan Baxter, for review of The Courier’s New Bicycle by Kim Westwood, in Thirteen O’Clock.
Alan Baxter, for review of The Last Days of Kali Yuga by Paul Haines, in Thirteen O’Clock.
Alan Baxter, for review of The List, Volume 1 by Paul Bedford, Henry Pop and Tom Bonin, in Thirteen O’Clock.
Alan Baxter, for review of The Sixsmiths by J. Marc Schmidt and Jason Franks, in Thirteen O’Clock.
Alan Baxter, for review of Vaudeville by Greg Chapman, in Thirteen O’Clock.

I’m not entirely sure why all my Thirteen O’Clock reviews are listed separately, but that’s just how that particular award works, I guess. As they’re on the eligibility list, I’ve included them here.

So there it is. The reason to vote, all the links you need and my work that’s eligible. Here ends the Ditmar Award rant and promotion for now. Like last year’s post says, in order to make this award as fair and relevant as possible, we need as big a nominating and voting pool as possible. So, if you’re eligible, please get involved.

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