Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror Recommended Reading

years-best-fantasy-and-horror-v3-slideI’m doing my Snoopy dance. Ticonderoga Publications have just released their Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror Recommended Reading List and I feature on it four times. Four! That’s so cool. I’ve mentioned before how proud I am that my story, Tiny Lives, (originally published at Daily Science Fiction) is being reprinted in the book. To have a Year’s Best reprint is just such an honour. But to also have four other stories given a nod in the recommended reading is fantastic. It includes the story I co-wrote with Felicity Dowker. My listed stories are:

“Cephalopoda Obsessia”, Bloodstones anthology.
“Crossroads and Carousels”, The Red Penny Papers. (Free to read online)
“Fear is the Sin”, From Stage Door Shadows anthology.
“Burning, Always Burning”, with Felicity Dowker, Damnation and Dames anthology.

Check out the full list of recommended reading here. That’s some sweet company I’m keeping. And at the end of the page linked there is information on where to buy the book, jam-packed full of Year’s Best awesomenitude. And yes, that is totally a word. Now. Also, check out my Books page and Dark Shorts page for details on where to find the recommended stories.

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A Killer Among Demons in all its forms

1001892_10151501852782511_35378821_nCheck out that sweet tome in my grubby paw. It’s my contributor copy of the fantastic anthology, A Killer Among Demons, which features my story, The Beat of a Pale Wing. I’m really proud to be in this book. I read the e-version while I was away a couple of weeks ago and loved it. It’s a really outstanding effort by editor/publisher, Craig Bezant. It’s also an outstanding effort on his part to gift wrap the contributor copies. Very cool.

Anyway, I won’t go on. Suffice to say that you really should read this excellent book. All versions, print and e (DRM-free), available here. Go get some.

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A Killer Among Demons available now

1069201_601532619887529_526555381_n-224x300You may remember that I’ve been talking up this great anthology from Dark Prints Press. I’m so pleased to be one of ten authors included in this anthology of supernatural/paranormal crime. I read it last week while I was on holiday (as I got an advance ecopy from the publisher) and it is outstanding. I’m very proud of my story, The Beat of a Pale Wing, and the other nine stories are exemplary. A really diverse range of ideas. And that fantastic Vincent Chong cover. Seriously, this is a great book. Here’s the full list of amazing authors:

Stephen M Irwin – ’24/7′
Angela Slatter – ‘Cuckoo’
William Meikle – ‘Truth Decay’
Alan Baxter – ‘The Beat of a Pale Wing’
Marilyn Fountain – ‘The Intruder’
Greg Chapman – ‘A Matter of Perception’
Chris Large – ‘New York, New York’
SJ Dawson – ‘The Tape’
Madhvi Ramani – ‘Angel’s Town’
Stephen D. Rogers – ‘Grievance Visitation’

I honestly can’t recommend this book highly enough. You like magic? Horror? Dark fantasy? Crime? Who doesn’t, bitches? Go, buy the book now. It’s available in print and ebook from here.

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My holiday reading

I’ve recently had a week’s holiday in the sun. The best thing about holidays is the unfettered reading time. Of course, seeing another place, spending quality time with my wife, snorkeling amazing coral reefs and all that was fantastic too and it rates up there with the reading time, but, you know, reading. It’s brilliant and on holiday, apart from all that other stuff and drinking, it’s all about reading.

I read an interesting bunch of stuff while I was away, so I thought I’d share it with you.

JoylandJoyland by Stephen King

This is King at his best. Poignant, beautifully drawn characters and a fantastic sense of place. I love a good carny story and this is just that, wrapped up in some crime and a touch of the supernatural. It’s a short novel and showcases King’s talent for story. It’s also a good ending, which is something King often falls down on for me. It’s still something of a deus ex machina ending (King’s usual flaw) but in this case, it makes sense and it’s well foreshadowed. A highly recommended read.

burial-ritesBurial Rites by Hannah Kent

This is a simply outstanding novel. And that it’s her first novel is mind-blowing! Her portrayal of the people and place at the time of the story’s setting is flawless and utterly convincing. An incredibly powerful book, beautifully written. I’m not generally a fan of historical fiction, and this story is based on true events, but in this case I loved every page. Kent’s research was exhausting for this book and it really shows. One of the best things I’ve read this year.

The Burning Girls by Veronica Schanoes

This is a dark fantasy novelette available to read at Tor.com. This is the direct link to the story – http://www.tor.com/stories/2013/06/burning-girls It’s a tale of Jewish folklore and magic and a journey to the new world. It’s superbly written and well worth the time, especially as it’s free!

CritiqueCritique by Daniel I Russell

This is a very well-written journey through desire and addiction, but not addiction to drugs. It has gross-out moments that work very well within the context of the story. There’s no great surprise to how it pans out – you can pretty much see what’s coming – but it’s handled really well nonetheless. It’s a horror story, but this is still something a bit different done very well. The cover is truly awful, however, and does the book no favours at all.

18039179A Killer Among Demons, edited by Craig Bezant

Caveat – I have a story, The Beat of a Pale Wing, in this collection.

However, aside from my story being in it, this is a fantastic collection. Craig Bezant, the editor, should be proud of a job really well done. He’s collected ten stories of supernatural/paranormal crime and the first thing you realise is just what a tremendous job he’s done collecting ten brilliant but very different stories (if I do say so myself!) The variety here is impressive and the quality very high. This is an anthology that will hopefully get noticed, because it’s different and very good. Highly recommended.

9654818Black & Orange by Benjamin Kane Etheridge

This is a dark fantasy/horror novel, a Stoker Award winner no less, but I had serious problems with it. I’ve just posted a full review over at Thirteen O’Clock, so head over there for a read of why this didn’t work for me nearly as well as it should have. Which is annoying, because I really wanted to like it and it had such potential. But even though I didn’t like it, I still enjoyed reading it. It’s excellent writing. Ah, click the review link to save me saying it all again here.

So all in all, I had a pretty solid selection of holiday reading.

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365 Shorts – second 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. I made a small change to the rules, deciding to start my year on December 1st, 2012 and run till November 30th, 2013, to make sure the end wasn’t lost in the Xmas/New Year madness.

At end of February, the first quarter of my year, I’d read 153 stories. 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 was well ahead of schedule at that point.

I’m about a week behind on reporting here, but I’ve just added up for the second quarter of my year. Technically the second quarter is up to the end of May, so it’s a bit off as it’s now the 7th June. Not bad, all things considered. I’m not quite up to the same rate as the first quarter, but I’m still doing quite well. I’ve updated my ongoing record of stories read here.

In the first quarter, I totaled 153 stories read in three months Dec 1st 2012 to February 28th 2013.

For the 2nd Quarter (plus a bit) – March 1st 2013 to June 7th 2013 – I’ve read 103 stories, bringing the total for the year so far up to 256 stories read between December 1st 2012 and June 7th 2013.

Given that I needed 186 stories at this point to make my total, I’m still ahead of schedule. I might make it yet.

Keep an eye on the page here to see what I’ve read so far. I’ll update it again after another three months. Of course, it can fall apart at any time, so if you never hear about this again, don’t remind me!

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

365 Shorts 2012/13 – My reading so far.

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