Midnight Echo 10, featuring me. Twice.

September 27, 2013

Well, this is a first for me and one that requires double Snoopy dancing. You all know by now how much a fan I am of Midnight Echo magazine. It’s the official magazine of the Australian Horror Writer’s Association and one of the classiest glossy mags on the market. And available in digital format too, of course. I was very proud to have a story in issue 6, the sci-fi/horror special, and in issue 9, the myths and legends special. Now, I couldn’t be happier to say that I’m going to be in issue 10 as well, with two stories. I’m calling that a personal best and giving myself a special Achievement badge.

It’s a funny old path to publication. I entered the AHWA Short Story competition way back when it was opened and thought nothing more of it. These things take ages to be judged usually. While the judging was going on, guest editor Craig Bezant opened for submissions for issue 10 of Midnight Echo, which has a ghost story theme. So I submitted a story for that.

A little while later, the results of the AHWA Short Story comp were announced and my story had won (in a tie with Zena Shapter). We learned that, as part of the prize, our winning stories would see paid publications in Midnight Echo 10. Then, a month or two later, I got word from Craig Bezant that he liked my story and was going to buy it for Midnight Echo 10. So all of a sudden, I have two stories due out in the same mag. And now the full Table of Contents for issue 10 has been announced and there’s my name, listed twice. Seriously, what a singular honour that is. Here, check out the full ToC – it’s pretty amazing:

Midnight Echo 10 Table of Contents:

Cover art by Vincent Chong
Interior art by Mel Gannon and Greg Chapman

Lunch by Joseph A. Pinto
Crybaby Bridge #25 by Gary A. Braunbeck
Stillegeist by Martin Livings
I Want to Go Home by A.J. Brown
Tourist Trap by Richard Farren Barber
Blood and Bone by Robert Mammone
Exposure Compensation by Alan Baxter
Stinson Way: A Southern Gothic by Jacob Lambert
A Little Peace by Rebecca Fung
Mother’s House by Greg Chapman

Allure of the Ancients; The Key to His Kingdom – story by Mark Farrugia, illustrations by Greg Chapman

Special Features
An interview with Victor Miller
AHWA Short Story and Flash Fiction Competition winners -
It’s Always the Children Who Suffer by Alan Baxter
Darker by Zena Shapter
Moonlight Sonata by Tim Hawken

Regular Features
A Word from the AHWA President – Geoff Brown
Tartarus – Danny Lovecraft (poetry column)
Pix and Panels – Mark Farrugia (comic column)
Black Roads, Dark Highways #5 – Andrew McKiernan (column)
Celluloid Nightmares – Mark Smith-Briggs
Sinister Reads (all the latest releases from AHWA members)

And on top of all that, the cover art will be done by Vincent Chong. That makes me very happy, as Vincent’s artwork is amazing. He did the cover of the anthology A Killer Among Demons, also edited by Craig Bezant, published by Craig’s outfit, Dark Prints Press. You’ll have heard me talk about that book, as it has my story, The Beat of a Pale Wing, in it. And I’ve mentioned before that I think that anthology is one of the best produced in recent years (even if it does feature me!)

So really, this is just tremendous news all around. You can pre-order the limited print edition of Midnight Echo 10 here now. The mag is due for release on November 30th and we’ll have a cover reveal before then.

*Snoopy dance*


I won the AHWA Short Story competition!

June 10, 2013

snoopy dance I won the AHWA Short Story competition!Well, I actually co-won in a dead heat with Zena Shapter. The Australian Horror Writers’ Association (AHWA) runs a competition every year for both short stories (1,000 to 8,000 words) and flash fiction (up to 1,000 words). You may remember that last year I was a judge along with Felicity Dowker and Jason Fischer. I thought I should really enter the competition that is run by the association I’m a member of and that I’ve judged in the past, so this year I entered both the short story and flash categories. I couldn’t be happier that my story, It’s Always the Children Who Suffer, was picked as a joint winner with Zena’s story, Darker. I also scored an Honourable Mention in the Flash category. Pretty bloody good all around!

Here are all the winners and HMs:

Alan Baxter, “It’s Always the Children Who Suffer”
Zena Shapter, “Darker”

SHORT STORY HONOURABLE MENTIONS (in no particular order):
Cassandra Newman, “Divorce Granted”
Ron Schroer, “Lustbader”
Shaun Taylor, “Open Windows, Closed Doors”
Noel Osualdini, “Skin”
Sam Howard, “Wee Willie Winkie”

Tim Hawken, “Moonlight Sonata”

Noel Osualdini, “Night Escape”
Mark Farrugia, “Palatable”
Mike Pieloor, “The Itch”
Alan Baxter, “Under a Wing and a Prayer”

Martin Livings, the competition manager, did a great job. The comp is judged blind, so all stories go to Martin first and he strips them of all identifying marks so the judges get nothing but a story and judge each one on merit alone. Martin also figured out some stats on the competition. The stat I was most pleased to see was the Entries by Gender one. In a field so historically dominated by male writers, it was great to see not only a joint decision with a man and a woman picked as the short story winners, but according to Martin’s stats, entries were split male/female as 58% / 42%. That’s not bad and it’s great to see. Australia has a fantastic tradition of women horror writers (Kaaron Warren, Angela Slatter, Joanne Anderton, Felicity Dowker, et al), and it’s great to see that reflected in stats like these.

Lastly, I want to thank my four year old niece, Malina Cootes. We all know that kids come out with the weirdest shit, and my winning story was inspired by something Malina said, as reported to me by her mum. She woke up one night, very upset from a nightmare. When her mum went to comfort her, Malina said, “There’s a dream in my bed!”

And a story was born. And it won the AHWA Short Story competition. Thanks, Malina!

The three winning stories will be published in a future issue of Midnight Echo magazine, so I’ll be sure to let you know when that’s out.

Now excuse me while I Snoopy Dance.


Emma Newman and Between Two Thorns

February 21, 2013

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 e1355137730189 Emma Newman and Between Two ThornsPre-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 (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 and they’ll assign a number to you.

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

Forbidden Planet (signed paperback)

Angry Robot Trading company – for DRM-free ebook

Amazon (paperback) UK


The Book depository (Worldwide free postage)

UK Edition

US Edition (bigger)

There are two UK launches and an international one using the magic of telephone conferencing. All the details are here:


Scared Twitless

November 13, 2012

I’m a member of SpecFicNZ, Speculative Fiction Writers of New Zealand who are, obviously, happy to include Australians in their group. They’re a cool organisation and they’ve recently run a twitter horror contest. You can read the entries and help decide the winner by voting.

The winning three entries are up for signed copies of Bloodstones, Mansfield with Monsters, and Tankbread. One of the signatures in question will be mine in Bloodstones.

So, go here, read, enjoy, vote.


Red Penny Papers – ToC, anniversary, giveaways

October 7, 2012

TheRedPennyPapers2 Red Penny Papers   ToC, anniversary, giveawaysI mentioned here recently that my story, Crossroads & Carousels, will be published in the Fall edition of The Red Penny Papers. The full Table of Contents for that issue has now been announced:

A Connection to Beyond by Cat Rambo
Breathing Room by Jamie Mason
Fearsome Critters and Friendly Giants by M. Bennardo
Crossroads and Carousels by Alan Baxter
The Extravagant and Venturesome Lives of Woman Pyrates by Katy Gunn

That’s a fine ToC, and one I’m very proud to be in. But wait, there’s more! As you may remember, it was Red Penny Papers who published my novelette, The Darkest Shade Of Grey. As this is their second anniversary short fiction issue, and as I’m a returning author in their pages, they’ve organised a very cool giveaway. Here are the details:

…to celebrate our second anniversary, it seemed appropriate to do a little giveaway. The first two people to purchase The Darkest Shade of Grey and email their receipt to redpennypapers AT gmail DOT com will receive an eBook of Alan’s debut novel, RealmShift.

Ah, but wait, there’s more. Keep sending those purchase receipts, because at the end, we’ll do a drawing for a complete set: both RealmShift and the sequel MageSign.

Happy birthday to us!

I’m obviously a bit biased, but I reckon that’s a bloody good celebratory offer right there. All the details here.

I’ll drop a note here when the issue in question comes out.


AHWA Short Story and Flash Fiction Competition winners

June 25, 2012

Well, it’s all official. The results for this year’s AHWA Short Story and Flash Fiction Competition are as follows:


WINNER: “Always a Price”, Joanne Anderton
HONOURABLE MENTION: “Life, Death and Customer Service”, Nicholas Stella


WINNER: “Blood Lilies”, Shauna O’Meara
HONOURABLE MENTION: “Fragments of a Botanical Journal”, Matthew J Morrison

(more info here

Congrats to the winners, and well done to all who entered. The whole thing was blind judged, so myself, Felicity Dowker and Jason Fischer had no idea who’s work we were reading and judging. Kudos to Martin Livings for wrangling all of that like a pro. I was very happy to see that we picked Jo Anderton to win the short story contest, because she’s not only a good friend, but a tremendous writer. She pipped me recently for the Best New Talent Ditmar and has been getting Aurealis Award nominations and all sorts of good stuff. She really deserves this win – her story is excellent. And I’m very pleased to see Shauna take out the flash competition, with another excellent entry. Both will see publication in Midnight Echo magazine soon and will also get a winners trophy.

Many thanks to fellow judges Felicity Dowker and Jason Fischer for making this fairly mammoth task a fairly painless experience.


State Library of Queensland Young Writers Award 2012

May 31, 2012

Are you a budding writer?

Are you aged 18 to 25 and live in Queensland? Enter your short story of 2,500 words or less in the State Library of Queensland Young Writers Award 2012 and you could win $2,000 and career launching opportunities.

Submissions close 13 July.

The competition

The judging panel will select the winner of the Young Writers Award 2012, the first runner up and four highly commended entries.

The judging panel consists of The Courier Mail Arts Editor Nathaneal Cooper, Brisbane Writers Festival Director Jane O’Hara, author Sue Gough, and novelist and former Young Writers Award winner Alasdair Duncan.


The Young Writers Award winner, first runner-up and four highly commended entries each receive prize packs.

Prizes include: 


Hop to it! All entry details here.

Some genre news and links

April 18, 2012

There’s been some interesting bits and pieces cropping up around the web just lately. First off, you may remember I was very pleased to discover that my story, Punishment Of The Sun, from the Dead Red Heart anthology is going to be included in Ellen Datlow’s Honorable Mentions that will be appearing in The Best Horror of the Year volume four. The HM stories actually listed in the book are the top fifty from a massive Honorable Mentions list that Ellen compiles. She’s just released the full list of 608 Honorable Mentions, which is the best of what she’s read in 2011. I have no idea how she manages to read so much, but bless her for doing do – Ellen Datlow is an absolute treasure and a giant in her field. The full list of 608 is here. And there’s a lot of Aussies on there.

Secondly, there’s a new genre convention coming. The first one is in Sydney, arranged by the Australian Writer’s Marketplace. It’s called, fittingly enough, GenreCon. From the website:

GenreCon is a three-day convention for Australian fans and professionals working within the fields of romance, mystery, science fiction, crime, fantasy, horror, thrillers, and more. One part party, one part celebration, one part professional development: GenreCon is the place to be if you’re an aspiring or established writer with a penchant for the types of fiction that get relegated to their own corner of the bookstore.

I’ll definitely try to get along to that one, especially as it’s relatively local for me.

Lastly, there’s this:

It’s a survey collecting votes for the Independent eBook Award. I’m not really sure what the Award is and I’m having trouble finding out much about anything to do with it, to be honest. But it’s drawing attention, hopefully, to independent and small press publications, which is a good thing. From the site:

Nominations are open to an independent author or independent/small press. For purposes of this award, we are defining a “small press” as follows:

1. Publisher does not charge authors for publication, and is fully responsible for all production of the book
2. Publisher produces fewer than 50 titles a year
3. Publisher is publishing original work, not predominately public domain titles or Private-Label rights titles
4. Publisher is independently owned, not part of a larger corporation.

Authors and publishers are not allowed to vote for themselves and will be disqualified for doing so. They’re trying to make this as transparent and fair as possible, but it will be interesting to see how it all pans out. And yes, for point of reference, my books do qualify under their definition of small press. I really wish there were some further links or references on that survey page, though, so we could find out more about who these people are and what they’re doing. If you know any more, please leave a comment below!


Post-apocalyptic short story podcasts at Wily Writers, edited by me

January 22, 2012

wily Post apocalyptic short story podcasts at Wily Writers, edited by meYou should know by now what a fan I am of podcast short fiction. I wrote about my favourite podcasts a while back. I also wrote here about giving generously to podcasts you enjoy, as the stuff they produce is usually free, but the writers and podcasters need to be paid for their work. My own fiction has been podcast a few times now – I read my story Crossfire for Outlandish Voices, Pseudopod released my original short story, The Seven Garages Of Kevin Simpson in their episode 242 and Wily Writers have podcast two of my stories – a reprint of Stand Off and my post-apocalyptic yarn, Declan’s Plan, which co-won Wily Writers Short Story Contest. Stand Off was also included in Night Mantled, Volume 1 of The Best Of Wily Writers.

And that neatly segues to my reason for posting today. I was very honoured when Angel McCoy, the power behind Wily Writers, asked me to guest edit a themed month for their podcast. The theme of my month was Post-Apocalypse/Dystopia. I read a lot of really good stories and it was hard to pick the two winners. I’ll blog a bit later on about the process of reading, judging and editing for that, and my thoughts on the subject. Hopefully it’ll help both myself and other readers here when we submit our own fiction to any publication.

In the meantime, I did select two winning stories. I wanted strong stories, with good ideas, powerful characters and a tangible sense of place. But I also wanted two stories very different from each other, to explore the theme as fully as possible.

The first story is up now:

Bloodstone by R.B. Payne

Even horror writer J.P. Bloodstone is unprepared for the actual end of the world. Stranded in Beverly Hills, he discovers something far worse than decomposing zombies, vampiric aliens, or infected mutant motorcycle-riding killers.

As I wrote on the Wily Writers site about this story:

I really like the voice of “Bloodstone.” It evokes all kinds of classic writerly angst, like the misanthropic Hunter S. Thompson. Imagine someone like that on their own in a post-apocalyptic world, and you’ve got the start of this story. Couple that with a classic bit of writer/reviewer animosity, and the bones of the story are in place.

This piece is well written with a strong character and an excellent description of the post-apocalyptic world. It also cleverly uses the character to explore possible reactions to an apocalypse, while the reality in this case is a lot less exciting. There’s humour here as well, in the character and the situation.

All Wily Writers stories are published on the site in text as well as podcast, so whatever your preferred format, the option is there. Bloodstone is a great story, read by the excellent Philip Pickard (who also did a great job reading Declan’s Plan for me).

Find the story here.

I’ll post about this again when the other winning story goes up, then I’ll post about the process of judging and editing after that.

And thanks again to Angel McCoy for inviting me to be a part of this. As a writer, it was fun to be on the other side of the fence for a change.


Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest 2011 Results

July 26, 2011

Snoopy Typing Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest 2011 ResultsThe Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is one of my favourite literary events. It’s a brilliant idea. It stems from the awful writing of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. You probably think you’ve never heard of him. But I can almost guarantee you have. Here, see if this is familiar:

“It was a dark and stormy night;”

Yep. You know him. But did you know just how bad he was? Here’s the rest of that line, from Paul Clifford (1830):

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents–except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

Holy crap.

It’s writing like that which gave rise to the contest. During his studies Professor Scott Rice of the English Department at San Jose State University unearthed the source of that famous line, “It was a dark and stormy night”, as being the opening of the Edward George Bulwer-Lytton novel, Paul Clifford. And it is a very famous line. After all, Snoopy uses it all the time and that Beagle knows his shit.

For all his hideous writing skills, Lytton coined some phrases we all know well. Among them “the pen is mightier than the sword”, “the great unwashed”, and “the almighty dollar”. He’s had an impact, has Bulwer-Lytton.

So Professor Rice, with the help of San Jose State University, has, since 1982, put together the contest which seeks the worst opening lines to the worst of all novels. You can learn all about the contest here:

Meanwhile, the 2011 results are in. The winner this year is the shortest entry to ever win the contest. It comes from Sue Fondrie of Oshkosh, WI. (Yeah, I thought that was a children’s clothing line for people with more money than sense, but apparently it’s a place too.) Here’s the winning line:

Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.

Top work, Sue. Congratulations.

Rodney Reed of Ooltewah, TN takes out the runner-up prize with this one:

As I stood among the ransacked ruin that had been my home, surveying the aftermath of the senseless horrors and atrocities that had been perpetrated on my family and everything I hold dear, I swore to myself that no matter where I had to go, no matter what I had to do or endure, I would find the man who did this . . . and when I did, when I did, oh, there would be words.

There are other winners in several categories (Adventure, Crime, Sci-Fi, Vile Puns, etc.) and they’re all listed on the contest site here. Go and have a read. They’re hilarious.



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. Misanthrope. Learn more about me and my work by clicking About Alan just below the header.

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