It’s me and Kylie Chan in Brisbane

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June 26, 2014

Or, I should say, Kylie Chan and I. As part of the ongoing promotion of Bound, I’m coming to Brisbane on July 25th and I’ll be in conversation with Kylie Chan at Avid Reader Bookshop, hosted by the awesome Trent Jamieson. Honestly, I couldn’t be more honoured by that company. It’ll be from 6 to 8pm on Friday evening. Let’s all go out and get drunk afterwards, yeah? Who’s with me!?

Location: Avid Reader Bookshop , 193 Boundary St, West End, Brisbane, Queensland 4101.
Date: Friday, 25th July, 2014
Time: 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Here’s the event on the Avid page. Put the date in your diaries – it’ll be great to see you there. And bring your friends!

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Photoshop competition for a signed copy of Bound

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June 24, 2014

I saw this done by Mark Lawrence on Facebook and I’m shamelessly stealing it because it’s a very cool concept. The idea is that you photoshop my book into another image and link me to your work of art. The one I like (or perhaps the one that disturbs me) the most, gets a signed copy of Bound. Even though the book is only out in the Australia and New Zealand region this week, I’ll send the comp winner anywhere in the world, so you could score the book long before it’s available in your area.

The cover images are below. Click on them for a higher res version, then right click and save as, and let your creativity fly. You don’t have to be a dab hand at photoshop either – I don’t care about your technical skills so much as the idea. Dodgy graphic art can be hilarious. Impress, amuse or disturb me and you could score the book. Think things like King Kong reading a copy of Bound atop the Empire State Building, or Batman with a copy in the Batmobile or Bound as the Necronomicon or… or… the possibilities are endless. Get surreal, get nightmarish, get weird. When you’ve made your image, you can post a link to it in the comments here, or post it on my Facebook page here, or Tweet it to me here. I’ll start a gallery of entries on my Facebook page and pick a winner at some future point not too far from now.

EDIT: Some entries are coming in and they’re very cool. I’ve started to collect them in an album on my Facebook page here.

Here are the images – have at it!

Front cover:

bound cover large 195x300 Photoshop competition for a signed copy of Bound

Full cover:

COV Bound med 300x212 Photoshop competition for a signed copy of Bound

3D book mockup:

Bound 3D Cover 300x300 Photoshop competition for a signed copy of Bound

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“Mephisto” published at Daily Science Fiction

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June 24, 2014

I’m very happy to have sold another story to those wonderful people at Daily Science Fiction. If you’re not a subscriber, you should be! Fresh and awesome science fiction, fantasy and horror stories direct to your inbox every week day. The stories are also published on the website to be read for free.

My latest story there is called “Mephisto” – a little yarn about small town vaudeville. Or is it?

You can read it here – please take a moment to give it a Rocket Dragon rating when you get to the end, it’s just a single click. I recommend signing up for the subscriber emails while you’re there. If you take the time to read, you have my thanks and I hope you enjoy it.

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Booktopia SF & Fantasy Buzz

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June 20, 2014

If you don’t already subscribe to this newsletter, I suggest you do. Mark Timmony edits it and it’s jam-packed full of great reviews and interviews and more. This month I’m very excited to say that Bound is the SFF Buzz Book of the Month. Excuse me while I Happy Dance. Mark reviews Bound and there’s an interview with me at the end. The review says things like:

Baxter takes us on a roller-coaster ride…

This is a page-turning dark fantasy that doesn’t shy away from sex, violence and the underbelly of society. Filled with guts, passion, and the will to survive Baxter has delivered a great romp of a novel and I’m looking forward to see where he takes Alex Caine next.

That’s a seriously great review. Mark asked me Ten Terrifying Questions, including things like, What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why? What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now? Whom do you most admire and why? What advice do you give aspiring writers?

You can find all the answers to those questions and more here.

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Devilish Dr Slatter Digs the Dirt

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June 18, 2014

My good pal and extraordinarily talented writer, Dr Angela Slatter, had me over to her blog the other day where  she dug into the skinny on all things Bound. She introduced the interview thusly:

So, my mate Alan Baxter has a book out on 1 July 2014. Bound is an action-packed, kickass, pulpy urban fantasy with martial arts, evil demons (is there any other kind?), a troubled hero, a take-no-crap heroine, and a really really scary grimoire. Yeah, I’ve read, and it’s already getting some terrific reviews.

She goes on to ask me about the inspiration for Bound, my early life as a writer, my favourite writers, kickass female heroes, the lack of a title on the front cover and much more. See all my innermost thoughts* laid bear over at her blog, here.

*Note: Might not be all my innermost thoughts. No one needs to see those.

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Early reviews for Bound coming in

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June 11, 2014

I’ve been in a state of angst for quite a while. As if impending publication of my first major publishing novel wasn’t daunting enough, several weeks ago the advance copies went out to reviewers. I’ve been chewing my nails, hoping the book wasn’t going to get thoroughly trashed. You expect a few poor or lukewarm reviews – you simply can’t please everyone – but as long as the poor reviews were few and there were some good reviews, I’d be happy. Thankfully, the feedback so far has been pretty positive. Here’s a few excerpts with links to the full reviews.

From Collins Booksellers (Edwardstown, SA):

The start to this series has given me faith that the Urban Fantasy scene is not just the same story with different characters.

Full review here.

From Mark Timmony of Booktopia and Postcards from the Emerald City:

This is a page turning dark fantasy that doesn’t shy away from sex and violence and the the underbelly of society. Filled with guts, passion, determination and the will to survive Baxter has delivered a great romp of a novel and I’m looking forward to see where he takes Alex Caine next.

Full review here.

From Jamie Marriage reviewing at Marianne de Pierres blog:

Bound is a fantastically gritty and modern view of dark fantasy, with twisted mythologies, sexual deviancy, and unapologetic characters. Most chapters have plenty of action, but not enough to hide the fact that there is a great story-line and dialogue going on from cover to cover. Greed, gluttony, wrath, and lust are all demonstrated in large portions throughout, and no character is without their vices and imperfections. It all comes together to create a book that’s difficult to put down and thoroughly worth re-reading. Baxter has proven he has real skill with this genre, and if this first novel is anything to go by, there are even greater things to come.

Full review here.

All these things make me so very happy. I couldn’t ask for better things to be said about this book. My angst is still there, but it’s been mollified a little bit!

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Alex Caine series covers reveal

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June 10, 2014

As the ad in the Continuum X program revealed all three Alex Caine covers, I thought it was time to share them here too. Bound is out in print and ebook in three weeks, on July 1st! Ebooks of Obsidian and Abduction to follow in August and September, with print editions hopefully not far behind them.

Please do pick up Bound as soon as you can, as early sales really count in publishing. And remember, all three books are standalone novels, so you get a whole story in Bound – no need to wait for the series to be published. If your bookstore doesn’t have it in stock, please ask them to get it for you. Or even ask them now, just to be certain. You can also click on the Bound cover in the sidebar on the left to find links to all the online stockists for print and ebook editions. And if you’re in Sydney and going to Supanova this weekend, don’t forget to come and find me – we’ll have early copies of Bound for you to buy there and I’ll sign them for you too.

Here are all three covers – click for a bigger resolution file:

three covers small 300x167 Alex Caine series covers reveal

Alex Caine covers.

Writing isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, but at least there are video games – Guest post from Jo Anderton

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June 6, 2014

I host a guest post on this here blog from time to time for various reasons. This one is from my friend and amazing writer, Jo Anderton. Jo’s new book, Guardian (Book 3 of The Veiled Worlds), the final book of the trilogy, is out TOMORROW! It’s a fantastic series and so worth your time and effort. Meanwhile, Jo’s been very honest about what it’s really like to be a writer sometimes and I couldn’t agree with this post more. – Alan

Writing isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, but at least there are video games

Jo Anderton

6346631813 c4c0f5f59c m Writing isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, but at least there are video games   Guest post from Jo AndertonI’ve never liked the term “writer’s block”. Even now, I’m not keen on it. Writer’s block sounds like a plumbing problem, with a quick and easy answer possibly involving a plunger. I prefer writer’s “there’s stuff going on and it kinda sucks so let’s learn to be gentle to ourselves, yeah?” Experience has taught me this. Although I admit it’s not as catchy.

There was a lot of that “stuff” going on in my life last year. Some of it was writing related. Some of it was real life related. All of it sucked, and it got in the way, and my writing just… stopped.

This had never happened to me before, and it was awful.

I felt like a failure.

Urg.

There was a long while when I couldn’t have written those words. I’m still tempted to delete them. I didn’t talk about them either, except to my closest writing friends, the ones who would really understand. For everyone else I plastered on the smile, posted on Facebook and tweeted on Twitter, went to work, and neatly changed the subject if writing or stories or books came up. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write. I had ideas, I had plans. I even had deadlines. But every time I sat down and managed to squeeze words out onto the keyboard, I hated them. And I mean that in the absolute ugliest sense of the word. I loathed every single thing I came up with, with all my body and soul. They made me sick. They made me angry. They made me cry.

So I gave up trying.

At the time, I thought this made me useless and pointless and absolutely not a writer. But now, I think it’s the best thing I could have done. I let it all go, stopped hating on myself, and found a distraction. In video games. In the Giant Bomb 2009 Persona 4 Endurance Run, to be precise.

Video games have been a distraction of choice for some time now, but this was different. For one thing, there wasn’t any actual playing involved. Instead, hubby and I were absolutely addicted to a video of a couple of blokes playing a long, complicated game that we had already played. Yes, you heard me. We played Persona 4 ages ago and loved it. We knew all the plot twists, how to get the true ending, and when not to cast bufu. We can fuse personas like a boss, sing the Japanese Junes jingle, and spent way too much money in Tokyo on merchandise.

So why the addiction? Jeff and Vinnie from Giant Bomb are hilarious to listen to, so that definitely helped, but I don’t think that quite explains it. At least not for me. It was… comforting. Does that sound strange? Because we’d already been there, explored the world, and knew the characters so well, it felt a little like coming home.

Guardian Cover 632x1024 185x300 Writing isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, but at least there are video games   Guest post from Jo AndertonEvery day, for at least a couple of months, when I wasn’t at work or forced to leave the house for some other “real life” reason, we sat on the couch and watched the boys from Giant Bomb play Persona 4. At first, I felt awfully guilty about it. I mean, can you think of a lazier thing to do? So I fought the addiction, tried to write, failed, and ended up back on the couch feeling miserable. But after a while, I just gave myself permission to rest, and enjoy it.

That’s where my whole “there’s stuff going on and it kinda sucks so let’s learn to be gentle to ourselves” came in. I stopped being so damned hard on myself. I’m not a blocked drain that needs chemicals or plungers or whatever it takes to get moving again (and this is the last time I use that analogy!). I needed rest, or healing, or something like that, and the Giant Bomb endurance run was the form my healing took.

So that’s what we did, and it worked. I came out the other side of those 155 videos feeling refreshed and ready to write again. I have a few theories as to why. First and foremost, I needed to stop, and I gave myself permission to do so. I know I keep repeating this but I think it’s vital. There’s a lot of advice out there for writers, and one that gets repeated a lot is the whole “write everyday” thing. I agree with this to some extent – not necessarily that you have to write everyday, but rather the message that dedication and routine are essential. However, I now believe that you also need to know when not to write (and learn to tell the difference between laziness, and a genuine need to take time out, or refresh the creativity well).

Second, my writing break had time constraints. I only stopped long enough to watch the endurance run, beginning to end. Which is a considerable amount of time, I am aware of that! But my point is that it wasn’t indefinite. It was a nice, neat little package of downtime. When I was finished with it, I could tape it up, put it away, and get back to normal.

Last but not least is that whole “coming home” thing. I didn’t just mope around feeling awful, but I totally indulged in something that might sound strange to other people, but made me happy. No stresses, no pressure – I wasn’t even doing the playing! I just sunk back into a world I knew and loved, and enjoyed watching other people experience it for the first time.

This is what I’ve learned. Sometimes, writing is hard. And that’s fine. Sometimes, life makes it impossible. And that’s fine too. Just remember to be kind to yourself, and always have a goal to get back on track.

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You can find Jo Anderton online at http://joanneanderton.com/wordpress/ and on Twitter @joanneanderton

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Signed ARCs of Bound being given away at Continuum X

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June 5, 2014

So you all know I’ll be at Continuum X. My schedule is posted here. Well, it turns out those awesome people at HarperVoyager have made some ARCs of Bound available. An ARC is an Advanced Reading Copy, so it’s not the final version of the book – the artwork on the cover, the back cover blurb and some internal corrections are not final – but it is the full novel. There aren’t that many changes between the ARC and the final version coming out on July 1st, to be honest. The front and back cover will be a bit different, especially the back, but the content is purely some corrected typos and a few very small changes that you probably wouldn’t even notice unless you’re particularly pedantic. You are? Then I challenge you to find the changes!

Anyway, so at Continuum X, we’ll be giving away a bunch of these ARCs. Every time I give one away, I’ll sign it for you. If you get a giveaway from the organisers, come and find me and I’ll sign it for you. The best chance of getting one will be to come to any of the panels I’m on. I’ll give away at least one ARC at every panel I’m sitting on, and at least two at my reading. Can’t say fairer than that. Well, maybe I could, but I have to eat, you know?

See you at Continuum! I’ll be arriving around midday on Saturday.

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On output and quality

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June 1, 2014

I’ve been reading a few posts lately that seem to contradict each other. What do you know – there’s no one true rule. I won’t bother linking to all those posts, at least partly because I can’t remember where they all are. But the general gist of it all was either:

Write as much as you can, it’s the only way to be noticed and have a career!

vs

Stop just writing for the sake of it! There’s too much shit out there, you need to write well, not lots.

Obviously I’ve paraphrased the general messages there. The thing is, they’re both right. The reason they’re both right is because there are many types of writers out there with many styles of work and opportunity to write. It also depends what you want from your career.

You certainly need more than one book to build a career, unless you’re Harper Lee. It’s true that the more people see from you, the more likely they are to check out your stuff and the more likely you are to build a loyal fan base. But don’t be in a rush.

If you write purely for output’s sake and you’re desperate to get as much stuff out there as quickly as possible, then you may well get noticed. The thing is, your work is likely to be fairly mediocre. Are you happy with a mediocre body of work? If so, then bully for you, but I think you’re doing a disservice to yourself and readers. There’s a lot of noise out there. That’s where the second generalisation above supersedes the first. It’s better to send out the absolute best stuff you can. It will mean you have work you can be absolutely proud of and readers will know they can expect quality from you. There are plenty of readers happy to consume masses of mediocre fiction, but is that really where you want to be?

However, this doesn’t mean that prolific writers are therefore all mediocre. Some people are excellent and prolific. A lot of that has to do with how much writing time they create. Two good examples of what I’m talking about are Ted Chiang and Jay Lake. Chiang publishes stuff very infrequently, but his skill is exemplary. Lake writes heaps of stuff, and his skill is exemplary too. Jay Lake writes everywhere he can. I don’t know about Chiang, he writes whenever he writes, but obviously has a much lower output rate. Regardless, these two are producing excellent work at very different rates. They’ve both built excellent skills over many years, not through purely getting work out as fast as possible, but by building up at a pace that suited them and ensured they put out quality stuff. (Sadly, Jay Lake has recently entered hospice care after a long struggle with cancer, so it’s good for us that he was so prolific. Vale, Mr Lake.)

So ask yourself – are you putting out the best work you possibly can, whether that means one story a year or ten? Three books a year or one every three years?

Or are you happy churning out mediocre work and just adding to the noise?

It’s really okay however you answer, but you need to make sure you answer the question honestly and then decide whether or not that’s really who you want to be.

I’ve created a lot of writing time in my life and I can be fairly prolific as a result. But I always try to make the best work I can and always improve. I like to think I’m managing that, very slowly. How about you?

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Welcome

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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