Home to nice reviews

I’m back from Conflux 9 and a damn fine time was had by all. Great to catch up with old friends, make some new friends and drink too much. I’ll write up a proper report soon, probably tomorrow. I’m too brain dead today and have a bunch of classes to teach, so might go for a little lie down for while beforehand. But I came back to some very nice reviews of Dark Rite, which is always wonderful.

Firstly, the very cool Damien Smith wrote us this review for Thirteen O’Clock, where he says: “a rollercoaster ride that kept me turning the pages until I was almost late for work” among other nice things.

And US author Terry Ervin II had this to say:

“Unraveling the mystery of his dad’s death turns into a nightmare as Grant finds himself mired in a dark cult’s secret that long ago engulfed a small town, and threatens Cassie, a girl he’s fallen for. Grant knows he’s doomed, but that doesn’t mean the demon worshipers have to win.

As the plot began to unfold, I found myself unwilling to put the book aside until I reached the end.”

–Terry W. Ervin II, author of Blood Sword

Bloody lovely. But for now, a snoozzzzzzzz…

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Dead Robots’ Society Podcast

Pic_DRSI got up a bit earlier than usual this morning to be a guest on the Dead Robots’ Society Podcast along with David Wood. We had a lot of fun, talked about genre fiction and horror especially. Of course, we were mostly talking up Dark Rite as that’s the new and current thing.

It’s a great podcast and we had a good laugh with hosts Justin Macumber and Paul Elard Cooley. The episode is up and available already, so go here to have a listen.

On that front, I was very happy today to see that Dark Rite is at number 42 in Horror Hot New Releases on Amazon, and number 17 in Occult Horror Hot New Releases. Thanks to everyone who had bought a copy – you people rock.

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New publications like buses

It’s a funny old game, this writing business. High highs and crushing lows. Hours of toil for seemingly no return, wondering why we bother, then something happens that reminds us exactly why we bother. And I don’t know if this is the case for other writers, but my career seems to always be a fluctuation of flood and drought. Right now, I’m very happy to say, it’s a bit of a flood.

I’ve been banging on about Dark Rite the last week or so, as that book has just been published. I won’t say more on that for now, other than to mention that at the time of writing it’s sitting at #39 in bestsellers for horror on Amazon. That’s great news, so thanks to all who bought a copy.

I’ve also had some excellent news in other areas too. In order of happenings, I’ve sold my contemporary fantasy story, Roll The Bones, to Crowded Magazine. Crowded is a new pro-paying magazine in Australia with a very funky idea on crowdsourcing its content. Do check it out whether you’re a reader (as it has some excellent content!) or a writer (pro rates!) That should be out around the middle of the year.

Secondly, I’ve sold my wild west ghost story, Not The Worst Of Sins, to Beneath Ceaseless Skies, due out around the northern autumn. I’m very excited about this one, as BCS is one of my favourite pro-zines and I’m really happy to get published there.

years-best-fantasy-and-horror-2012And, as if all that wasn’t enough, I can announce today that my story, Tiny Lives, originally published at the end of last year in Daily Science Fiction, has made the cut to be reprinted in the Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2012, due out soon from Ticonderoga Publications.

See what I mean about a flood? It’s a flood of fucking awesome, is what it is. These are the times you have to remember when the slog is getting you down and the rejections are threatening to drown you. Hard work and perseverance pays off, as long as you have the pig-headed determination to never give up and to always work on improving your craft.

I’m sharing some amazing company in the 2012 Year’s Best. Here’s the full ToC:

  • Joanne Anderton, “Tied To The Waste”, Tales Of Talisman
  • R.J. Astruc, “The Cook of Pearl House, A Malay Sailor by the Name of Maurice”, Dark Edifice 2
  • Lee Battersby, “Comfort Ghost”, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 56
  • Alan Baxter, “Tiny Lives”, Daily Science Fiction
  • Jenny Blackford, “A Moveable Feast”, Bloodstones
  • Eddy Burger, “The Witch’s Wardrobe”, Dark Edifice 3
  • Isobelle Carmody, “The Stone Witch”, Under My Hat
  • Jay Caselberg, “Beautiful”, The Washington Pastime
  • Stephen Dedman, “The Fall”, Exotic Gothic 4, Postscripts
  • Felicity Dowker, “To Wish On A Clockwork Heart”, Bread And Circuses
  • Terry Dowling, “Nightside Eye”, Cemetary Dance
  • Tom Dullemond, “Population Management”, Danse Macabre
  • Thoraiya Dyer, “Sleeping Beauty”, Epilogue
  • Will Elliot, “Hungry Man”, The Apex Book Of World SF
  • Jason Fischer, “Pigroot Flat”, Midnight Echo 8
  • Dirk Flinthart, “The Bull In Winter”, Bloodstones
  • Lisa L. Hannett, “Sweet Subtleties”, Clarkesworld
  • Lisa L. Hannett & Angela Slatter, “Bella Beaufort Goes To War”, Midnight And Moonshine
  • Narrelle M. Harris, “Stalemate”, Showtime
  • Kathleen Jennings, “Kindling”, Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear
  • Gary Kemble, “Saturday Night at the Milkbar”, Midnight Echo 7
  • Margo Lanagan, “Crow And Caper, Caper And Crow”, Under My Hat
  • Martin Livings, “You Ain’t Heard Nothing Yet”, Living With The Dead
  • Penelope Love, “A Small Bad Thing”, Bloodstones
  • Andrew J. McKiernan, “Torch Song”, From Stage Door Shadows
  • Karen Maric, “Anvil Of The Sun”, Aurealis
  • Faith Mudge, “Oracle’s Tower”, To Spin A Darker Stair
  • Nicole Murphy, “The Black Star Killer”, Damnation And Dames
  • Jason Nahrung, “The Last Boat To Eden”, Surviving The End
  • Tansy Rayner Roberts, “What Books Survive”, Epilogue
  • Angela Slatter, “Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean”, This Is Horror Webzine
  • Anna Tambour, “The Dog Who Wished He’d Never Heard Of Lovecraft”, Lovecraft Zine
  • Kyla Ward, “The Loquacious Cadaver”, The Lion And The Aardvark: Aesop’s Modern Fables
  • Kaaron Warren, “River Of Memory”, Zombies Vs. Robots

And look at that fantastic cover art! You can pre-order your copy of the Year’s Best here. In addition to the above incredible tales, the volume will include a review of 2012 and a list of highly recommended stories.

I’ll be sure to let you know when these publications come out.

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Dark Rite out now!

Dark RiteIt’s official! Dark Rite, the short horror novel/very long novella I co-wrote with David Wood, is available now! *trembles* You can find it in any ebook format you prefer, DRM-free, from Smashwords, or you can buy the Kindle or print edition from Amazon. Only $2.99 for the ebook and $7.99 for print. How can you possibly go wrong? It’ll be available in all the usual places soon, so watch your favourite store if you prefer to shop elsewhere. If you click on the cover image there, it’ll take you to a page of information about the book with direct buy buttons.

So it’s happy book day to myself and Dave. It’s always very exciting when a new book comes out, and I hope any of you horror fans out there enjoy it. Here’s a few responses we’ve had from early readers:

“Wood and Baxter have delivered a stunning tale that reminds of an early Stephen King’s talent for the macabre with a pinch of Graham Masterton’s flair for witchcraft and terror. A sinister tale of black magic and horror – not for the faint hearted.” – Greig Beck, bestselling author of Beneath the Dark Ice and Black Mountain

“With mysterious rituals, macabre rites and superb supernatural action scenes, Wood and Baxter deliver a fast-paced horror thriller.” – J.F. Penn, author of the bestselling ARKANE thriller series

“Wood and Baxter have taken on the classic black magic/cult conspiracy subgenre, chucked in a toxic mix of weirdness, creepshow chills and action, and created a tale that reads like a latter-day Hammer Horror thriller. Nice, dark fun.” – Robert Hood, author of Immaterial and Fragments of a Broken Land: Valarl Undead

That’s right – Greig Beck said it’s a bit like Stephen King and Graham Masterton. Holy shit, you guys! I think I’ll leave it at that. If you do buy a copy, I’d love to know what you think. You know where to find me.

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Book day nerves and why they’re a good thing

Dark Rite booksI’m trepidatious. Kinda nerve-wracked. The novella I’ve co-authored with David Wood, Dark Rite, is due for release tomorrow. Hopefully it will become available then, or very soon after. I’ll be sure to let you know. And because of its imminent release, I’m quietly terrified.

I’m also very excited, of course. It’s great to get a new book out there. While this is technically a novella, it kind of bridges the gap, because it’s bloody long for a novella. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America specify word lengths for each category of its Nebula award categories like this:

Novel – over 40,000 words
Novella – 17,500 to 40,000 words
Novelette – 7,500 to 17,500 words
Short story – under 7,500 words

As far as I know, the Aurealis Awards here in Australia use the same categorisation. Dark Rite is something like 42,250 words. Which is sorta dumb of us, because it will be classed as a novel rather than a novella for awards and we could have cut 2,251 words and dropped it back into the novella category if we really wanted to. But we talked about it and were happy with the tightness and finish of the story. It seems presumptuous and counter-productive to chop at a story purely for award lengths or to accurately describe its category. The story is exactly as long as it needs to be, so we’re sticking with it. And I’ll describe it as a very long novella, even though it’s technically a very short novel.

Nelson MuntzBut I digress. Nerves. I was talking about book day terror. Whether it’s a full-length novel, a long novella/short novel, a novelette or a short story being published in a magazine or anthology, the same kind of nerves are always there. Will people like it? Will people read it and point and laugh like Nelson Munz? Will I be revealed for the try-hard, pointless hack my inner demons often tell me I am, in the darkest corners of the night when I’m wondering why I fucking bother.

If it’s a magazine or anthology, the terror is that mine will be the story reviewers talk about for all the wrong reasons. “A tremendous collection of short fiction, with only one story out of place. You have to wonder what the editor was thinking, including this sloppy turd by Baxter.”

Of course, that kind of thinking is an insult to the editor, because they picked the story and included it for a reason, and their name is all over the publication. But publication nerves know nothing of common sense and laugh in the face of logic.

If it’s a book or novella, something that is going out there on its own merit, the nerves are the same, only amplified. There are no other works to hide among. It’s just you, out there in public without your pants on. Metaphorically speaking. You know you can’t please everyone, even Neil Gaiman gets one star reviews, but you hope to please more people than you offend. You want more cries of Bravo! and very few Ha-Has! But you don’t know if you’ll get them. Hell, you don’t know if anybody will even read your work. The only thing worse than bad reviews is no one turning a single fucking page of the thing you slaved over. At least a bad review meant the thing got read.

But I realised, especially reinforced after the recent series of guest posts I’ve run about Ongoing Angst, that this stuff is not only common among writers of every level, but actually a good thing. I’m bloody nervous, because I care. I care not because I want people to like me, but because I want them to like the work. I want people to read my stories and get something out of them, be moved in some way, have a rollicking good time and recommend their friends and family read my stuff too. They don’t ever need to know who the fuck I am, as long as they know and enjoy the work. And my fear comes from the thought that my work might not be good enough. And that fear drives me to always do my best, to always try to be better.

I strive to get better all the time. I work my arse off trying to make my writing as good as it can be. Nerves like this are symbolic of an artist striving to be good enough. If I ever don’t get nervous when a publication is due I’m going to wonder where my fire went. Because I’m certainly not arrogant enough to think people are automatically going to like everything I get published. Nerves are a good thing – they remind you that you’re alive and striving. That this shit matters. Because it really does matter. Through fiction we look at our lives and the life around us, and it matters. Even fun, pulpy horror like Dark Rite has things to say about society and humanity. It’s deeper than just a gloss imagery. And I care about it. I really hope readers do too.

I’ve got a bunch of stuff due for publication over the next two or three months, in magazines and anthologies, and it’s all kicking off with the release of Dark Rite any day now. So I really hope you like it. I’ll be over here, chewing on the bony tips of fingers, cos I finished eating through the nails a couple of days ago.

(Of course, the beauty of this one is that it’s co-authored. So it if does go down well, I’ll bask in all the glory. If it tanks, I’ll just blame David Wood.)

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