Newsletter prize pack

So you know I have an irregular newsletter, right? It’s a great way to keep up with new releases and stuff like that, because you might miss announcements on the blog here. And I share other stuff too, like what I’ve been reading lately, short story news, appearances and stuff like that. Every now and then I include a free short story just for subscribers, and other bits and pieces as they occur to me. You won’t be bombarded either – I only send a newsletter every couple of months at most. I try to make it monthly, but I’m crap at remembering. You get a free ebook just for signing up, and there are often other giveaways too. For example, with the last newsletter that just went out, there’s a chance for people to win a copy of Blood Codex, a copy of the Balance Omnibus, or a copy of Crow Shine.

But don’t worry if you missed that, as I have a new giveaway organised for next time, and it’s a corker. If you sign up in time for the next newsletter, which will come out sometime around mid-December, you’ll learn how to win this prize pack:

IMG_4209Copy of Murky Depths #16 which includes my short story “Mirrorwalk”

Copy of M-Brane SF #13 which includes my short story “Trial Not Required”

Copy of Seizure #4 which includes my short story “Deep Sea Fishing”

Copy of my supernatural noir novella “The Darkest Shade of Grey”

Copy of my collaborative horror novella with David Wood, “Dark Rite”

Copy of my first Balance novel, RealmShift

Copy of my second Balance novel, MageSign

Copy of the anthology I helped put together, Dark Pages

Pretty sweet, right? A lot of that stuff isn’t in print any more, and it’ll all be signed. If you win and you want it personalised, no problem. And it won’t be a very difficult to win either. The giveaway is planned around the international release of Bound: Alex Caine #1, and will be themed on that. But to learn more, you need to be a newsletter subscriber. So sign up now, get your free ebook, and wait for the next newsletter in mid-December. Signing up is easy – I’ll never share your email address with anyone else. You’ll find the sign-up form at the bottom of the homepage (just click Home above and scroll down) or right there in the sidebar. (If you’re on a mobile device, the sidebar appears right at the bottom after all the posts, so keep scrolling down.)


Short story writers I recommend

I recently did a video Skype chat with the wonderful Joanna Penn, of The Creative Penn website. Jo is also an accomplished thriller writer, but in this interview (which I’ll link here when it’s posted to YouTube in a few weeks) we were talking about the art and craft of short stories. When Jo asked me who I’d recommend people read to get a good taste of short fiction, I rattled off a bunch of names, then said, “You know what? I’ll blog a list and you can link to that.” Because there are just so many. And this is that blog post. It’s certainly not exhaustive. I know damned well I’m going to miss people who should absolutely be included, but I will come back and periodically update it. (If I’ve made any egregious omissions, especially friends, mea culpa! It was hard to gather all these into one place.) And, given it’s my list, it’s unashamedly weighted to the SF/F/H end of things, but not entirely.

crow-shine-book-pageI’m going to make the list in three parts. First of all, the old classics – stuff from before the turn of the century that people really should check out (some of them still writing today). Then I’ll list the great Antipodeans – that’s writers from Australia and New Zealand – and then I’ll list everyone else. It’ll be mostly a long list of names, but where I’ve particularly enjoyed an author’s short fiction collection, I’ll put that beside their name. Though be sure to read all you can by all these authors.

Before the list starts, it’s my blog, so I get to plug me. My own collection of short stories, Crow Shine, is being published by Ticonderoga Publications in November. I’m so excited to finally have my own collection coming out! It’ll be published in paperback, hardcover and limited edition hardcover (limited to 100 signed and numbered editions), and ebook. The pre-order page for the three print editions is up now, so if you want to get in early, especially if you’re keen for a limited edition, go here for pre-orders.

And now, the lists (alphabetical by surname):

The Old School – the greats from before

Clive Barker – all volumes of The Books of Blood are essential reading.

Algernon Blackwood

Ray Bradbury

Ramsey Campbell

Raymond Carver

Roald Dahl

Philip K Dick

Harlan Ellison

Robert Howard

Shirley Jackson – The Lottery and Other Stories

Stephen King

Sheridan Le Fanu

Ursula K Le Guin

Stanislaw Lem

Thomas Ligotti – Songs of a Dead Dreamer

H P Lovecraft

Richard Matheson

Edgar Allen Poe

Peter Straub

The Antipodeans – Australian and New Zealander short story writers of note

Joanne Anderton – The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories

Peter M Ball

Deborah Biancotti – Bad Power

Jack Dann (American, but he’s an Aussie now!)

Felicity Dowker – Bread and Circuses

Paul Haines – The Last Days of Kali Yuga

Lisa L Hannett – Bluegrass Symphony

Robert Hood – Peripheral Visions

Deb Kalin

Margo Lanagan – Black Juice

Martin Livings – Living With The Dead

Kirstyn McDermott

Andrew McKiernan – Last Year, When We Were Young

Greg Mellor – Wild Chrome

Jason Nahrung

Garth Nix

Dan Rabarts

Angela Slatter – Sourdough and Other Stories

Cat Sparks – The Bride Price

Kaaron Warren – Dead Sea Fruit

Kim Westwood

Sean Williams

Kim Wilkins

The rest – All the great modern short story writers from elsewhere around the world

Dale Bailey

Nathan Ballingrud – North American Lake Monsters

Laird Barron – The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All

Ted Chiang – Stories of Your Life and Others

Ray Cluely

Brian Evenson

Jeffrey Ford

Eugie Foster

Gary Fry

Neil Gaiman

William Gibson – Burning Chrome

Ted E Grau – The Nameless Dark

N K Jemisin

Stephen Graham Jones

John Langan

Tanith Lee

Kelly Link

Ken Liu

Usman Tanveer Malik

Nick Mamatas

Gary McMahon

Willie Meikle

China Mieville

Sunny Moraine

Lisa Morton

Haruki Murakami

Sofia Samatar

Clark Ashton Smith

Michael Marshall Smith

Lucy Snyder

Wole Talabi

Steve Rasnic Tem

Tim Waggoner

Alyssa Wong

There really are so many great short story writers out there and I know this isn’t close to all of them. I also know I’ve missed some that I would like to include, and as they occur to me, I’ll come back and add them to this list. There are many not included simply because I haven’t read their work yet, though I’m sure they’re amazing. Everyone above is a writer I’ve personally read and loved, so I’m sharing that love. I’m sure you’ll find authors here that will blow your mind, so get to it!


The Alex Caine Trilogy Launch wrap-up.

Man, what a night I had! We launched The Alex Caine Series in style on Thursday 30th June at Galaxy Bookshop in Sydney, so now all three books in the series (so far!) are out in the wild and on bookstore shelves across Australia and New Zealand. And Galaxy have a bunch of signed copies of all three if you’re quick. I’ve also just learned today that the series took out the 1, 2 and 3 spot in Galaxy’s bestsellers for last week, so that’s just fucking fantastic. The US, UK and everywhere else will start to see their release from December this year, so hang in there, you guys! Meanwhile, I thought I’d post here wrapping up everything that’s accompanied the launch so far.

Here I am crapping on about something while Garth Nix watches thoughtfully.

Galaxy Bookshop were fantastic, and with the publisher, HarperVoyager, they put on a great event. Garth Nix was a superb MC and official launcher, and a decent crowd turned out to make an absolutely stellar night. I’m so lucky and so grateful to everyone involved that I could enjoy such a great event. This post will collect everything in one place, starting with a video of the launch itself. It’s about 20 minutes and records the Q&A with myself and Garth, then questions from the audience. Massive respect to Alice Wood from Voyager, who I asked to film it and who stoically held my phone steady for the entire time! Also, apologies for anyone getting motion sickness watching this – I honestly had no idea how much I sway when I’m standing around talking.

After the video will be a link to a huge photoset on Flickr, thanks to the amazing Cat Sparks for that. She’s truly the Aussie SFF paparazzi master. After the link to the photoset will be a series of links to all the guest posts about the series so far, where you’ll find interviews with me, with Alex Caine, posts about fighting, writing, psychopaths and more. So enjoy, and thanks again to everyone who made all this possible. This is what it feels like to be living the dream.

Video of the launch, with myself and Garth Nix:

Here, Garth asks me all kinds of questions about the series and its origins, and I talk about favourites, paths to publishing, manuscripts under toilet doors, and more.

Photoset of the launch and the dinner afterwards, with huge thanks to the amazing Cat Sparks:

Blog tour posts:

I’ll list the interviews first. They’re all a bit different, so well worth having a squizz at them all, even if you just skim the questions for things you might be interested in.

Interviewed at Smash Dragons:

Interviewed by the wonderful Angela Slatter:

Interviewed by the also wonderful Peter M Ball:

Interviewed by David McDonald:

Interviewed by Annie Mitchell:

Interviewed by Ian McHugh – this one is just slightly spoilery.

Robert Hood interviews Alex Caine himself!

And the guest blog posts:

At Speculating on SpecFic I talk about why I write dark fiction:

At Book Frivolity I explain that I’m really not a psychopath, honest:

At Kaaron Warren‘s blog, I talk about the spark that started the Alex Caine fire:

And at the Voyager blog, I talk about fighting as a metaphor for life:

Signing books, living the dream.
Signing books, living the dream.


You owe me nothing, but if you’d like to help…

imageThere are loads of memes flying around social media that are some variation of “How to help an author” or “Support Authors” or “Fuck you, reader, dance for me, you monkey!”  The truth is, you owe an author nothing. At all. Just because I wrote a book, and that book got published, doesn’t mean anyone is under any obligation to read it or buy it, let alone do anything else. And even if you, dear reader, did read a book I wrote, and you loved it so much you went around with it stuffed down your pants for a week, you still owe me nothing. Although, you might need to consider getting out more if you really did spend a week with a book down your pants.

Put simply, there is no obligation of any kind on readers. They choose to either buy, borrow or steal a book, or not. Then they get around to reading it or they don’t. That’s it. Finished.

But, of course, there is a lot more they can do, should they so choose, and lots of those things really honestly genuinely help authors. And these ideas, while they can be listed in a trite meme, are maybe better explained in a little more detail. This stuff applies to big trad books and indie books, well-known authors and newbies. So here we go. I’m going to start by talking about the buying of books, but it’s not all about money, so read on!

Buy The Book

Well, d’uh! Right? Not entirely. What we really need are readers, but more on that later. However, at the bottom line, book sales keep authors and their publishers alive. It’s especially good with a new release if you buy the books during week 1 or 2 after release, because publishing can be a machine and it doesn’t stop. It swallows authors, chews them up, and spits out their gnarled remains. The way an author survives the machine is if they sell well enough to not be spat out. And the best way for an author to sell well is to start by selling well. Sure, many books are successful on a slow burn, but to sell they have to be on shelves. Bookstore real estate is highly contested space, so if a book sits on a shelf for a while and doesn’t sell, it will be sent back to make space for a new book. But if it shifts several copies, the shop gains confidence in it and gets more copies in. The sales data is good, it might hit in-store bestsellers charts, and stores order yet more. The profile of the book is raised and it gets more traction. That’s momentum happening right there, and that’s what we need. And if your local store doesn’t have them, order them in.

Order them at your library.

But you’re skint? No problem, man, I know those feels. Books can be a real luxury. There are other options than buying, which we’ll cover, but you know who has free books for you to read all the time? Legally? Your local library. Go there and ask them to order the books. When libraries buy a copy, that’s another sale. And authors get a small amount of money for each library borrow their books have, so that’s another income stream for them in the long term. And more importantly, it’s greater visibility of their books out in the world.

(You know what? Even if you do buy the books for yourself, order them at your local library too. Other readers will find them over time. More readers are what it’s all about.)

Buy them as gifts.

Buy for yourself, of course, but if there are any birthdays or other celebrations coming up (Xmas, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, International Day of the Needy Author) buy another copy to give as a gift. That’s more sales and more readers, who may not have bought the books otherwise. I love buying books for people and introducing them to new authors, and I love it when people do that for me. You can also give your copy away as a gift, and introduce a new reader that way. A pre-loved book is a cool gift: “I just read this and you’ll love it. Here, have it!”

Tell friends, family and colleagues all about them.

There’s much more to a book’s success than sales, and here’s where we talk more about readers. Garth Nix calls it the transfer of enthusiasm. When you love a book, don’t keep that to yourself. Talk about it! Tell your friends and family, talk about books at work, show off the copy you love so people recognise the cover when they see it again. Be enthusiastic and transfer that enthusiasm all around. Nothing works better than genuine, honest word of mouth. That’s what really sells books and that’s where books find success. A successful book is one that enjoys a groundswell of genuine enthusiasm. So recommend them wherever you can.

Lend your copy to a friend.

You don’t want to give away your loved copy as a gift? That’s cool. If you’ve loved a book, lending it is a great way to transfer your enthusiasm, and then you get it back. But that’s another reader, hopefully another fan. That’s another person talking it up to their friends and transferring their enthusiasm. Momentum!

Talk them up (and share the cover images) on social media.

If you only have 14 followers on Twitter and 38 friends on Facebook, don’t think for one second that you lack influence. People will pay attention to your social media commentary if they are your friend or follower. That’s why they’re your friend or follower. Every single eyeball counts. So just like you talk up the books in person, do it online, wherever you hang out online. And again, share the cover image so people can spot it easily in store. It really helps.

Leave a review and rating on Amazon, Goodreads, iTunes, etc.

And when it comes to talking about them online, if you can be bothered, reviews make a huge difference. You don’t need to be a great reviewer. You can write:

“this book was really grate, I loved the action. people will definately enjoy it to.”

Seriously, that’s awful spelling and grammar, but it counts. Because it’s the transfer of enthusiasm that matters, not your writing skills. And the more reviews something has, the more visibility it gains on that site, and the more likely other people are to take a chance on it, because it seems like it’s already popular.

And that’s the thing about getting more readers – the more popular something appears, the more other people will want to check it out. The more other people check it out, the more likely they are to talk about it too. Hopefully they’ve enjoyed it and they’re talking it up, so the more transfer of enthusiasm we have. That means even more readers, that means even more talking and more enthusiasm. It’s a self-perpetuating engine of literary love. The book has a greater chance of being a hit. And you helped. Only you can help, really. Readers and their enthusiasm are an author’s pulse and lifeblood. We love you people.

(And incidentally, if you don’t go to libraries, you can’t afford the book, and you don’t know anyone with a copy to borrow, you’ll be able to find it online somewhere, you naughty pirate. You know, I’d rather you didn’t, but the only thing worse than piracy is obscurity. So if you’re motivated enough to pirate a copy, do the author a favour and talk about it to friends and other readers! Transfer your enthusiasm too, with a bottle of rum and a yo-ho-ho.)

So you owe an author nothing, but if you do want to help, buy, borrow, lend, order at the library, talk, review. Be part of that great word of mouth engine. If you do any of that stuff, I genuinely can’t thank you enough. You totally rock!

Transfer your enthusiasm!