Bound is done

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3
February 21, 2014

It’s a terrifying feeling, to let go of a book. To say, “Okay, this is as good as I can make it and it’s time to let it go.” There’s that saying – Great art is never finished, only abandoned. There’s a lot of truth to it. Eventually you have to say, “Enough!” And I just have with Bound, the first Alex Caine book. I approved or not the last copy edits, made the last few tweaks and sent the manuscript back to HarperVoyager yesterday. That’s it. No more. Once the typesetter puts in those last changes we’re done. That’s the book that will be published in July. I can’t have anything more to do with it. It belongs to the readers now. And, fuck, I hope they like it!

I like it. I really do. I’m terrified, racked with self-doubt like always, of course. That destructive little voice is still whispering away. You’re a fucking fraud, it mutters. This book, it’ll ruin you. People will read it and laugh. Reviewers will refuse to even give it a rating. Not worthy of a single star. They’ll invent a new way to anti-review books just for you. It’ll get MINUS FIVE STARS!

Honestly, that voice is a complete bollocks. It never goes away. But I draw a deep breath and tell it to go fuck itself. Because I’ve worked my arse off on this book and I’m really bloody proud of it. People I hugely respect – Paul Haines, Angela Slatter, Joanne Anderton, Kylie Chan – have endorsed it. All amazing writers and they tell me it’s good. HarperVoyager are totally behind it. It would be disingenuous of me to insist in the face of all that support that the book is shit. Of course there will be people who don’t like it. You can never write something that everyone will love. And I can already think of things that I might do differently if I had a chance. But I have to let go of those things. I have to accept that I’ve written a good book here, one I can be proud of and stand tall.

Come July, when it’s released, I’ll be a mess, I’m sure. I’ll be breathing into a paper bag and intravenously consuming single malt scotch. But regardless, I’m proud as fuck of this book. And of Obsidian and Abduction, which follow it and will both be released in quick succession after Bound. I’ve yet to do the last edits and release on those, so I don’t have to let them go just yet. But I will. I’ve seen the covers (not yet finished, but close) and they are brilliant. I honestly can’t wait to share these books with the world and I really hope they go down well. I know I’ve done the best I can and hopefully that’ll show.

Bound is done and out of my hands. It’s a very strange feeling – exultation and trepidation. But it’s a good feeling. Fuck, yeah!

Excuse me, I gotta go find a paper bag.

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The Writing Process blog chain

By
4
February 17, 2014

I got linked into this latest bloggy memey thing by Zena Shapter. You can see her post on the subject here. The idea is that writers answer four questions that talk about their work and their process and then tag three other writers to do the same. Anybody reading along gets to see all the various ways people work. If I’ve learned anything along this weird and unforgiving writer’s road it’s that there is simply no right way to go about it. “Writer’s rules” are usually bollocks and can’t possibly apply to everyone. They’re a good guide, maybe, sometimes, but there is only one rule that applies to everyone: To be a writer, you must write. Simple as that. How you go about it is as variable as the types of stories you might come up with. But I’ve ranted on this subject before, so I’ll leave it at that. In the meantime, maybe clicking through a few of these posts will help to illuminate a variety of options.

1. What am I working on?

Well, having just delivered book three of The Alex Caine Series to HarperVoyager, I currently have no deadlines. Which is a pleasant feeling, although I was enjoying the pressure of those deadlines while they were there. However, it leaves me free to work on anything I like, so I’m back to a novel I started in the middle of last year, then had to put aside to get Alex Caine stuff finished. This new novel is a standalone book, a kind of horror/noir/dark urban fantasy thing. I’m still formulating notes and getting organised, but the first few thousand words are down. It’s an exciting stage, just getting into a new project with all the possibilities that entails.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don’t really know how to answer this. I like to think my writing voice is uniquely my own, so I guess it differs in as much as it’s an Alan Baxter book. You often see people, when asked for writing advice, give some variation of “Write the book only YOU can write”. That’s a hard thing to do, as it takes a long while to find your voice and style, but I like to think I’m finding mine.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Because it’s hella fun and it’s what I love to read.

4. How does my writing process work?

I sit at my desk and sob and cry and tear at my scalp (my hair has long since left the building) until words bleed out of my face. Well, that’s not entirely true, but it’s what it feels like sometimes. In truth, I’m a hybrid pantser/planner. I start with ideas for characters and story and I make all kinds of notes. When I’m ready to actually begin work on a book, I write down a very loose timeline of key events and then I start to write. Those key events can easily change if new ideas come to me, or the story starts going in directions I didn’t expect. I enjoy the organic process of letting my subconscious work and let the story tell itself. I try not to backtrack too much during the first draft – I like to plough on steadily until the first draft is complete. I’ll make notes along the way of things that I know will need fixing in the second draft. Then I go and fix those things in that second draft and then go through a few more drafts, fixing and polishing and caressing until I think the book is as good as it can get at that point in time. Then I send it out to beta readers and brace myself for their critique and feedback. Then I redraft again and again based on their comments and observations and hopefully I end up with a good book.

Then I start all over again. Because I’m a fucking professional. And something of masochist. But then, all writers are, really.

And to keep this things rolling, next week you’ll see posts from the three writers I tagged:

Joanne Anderton

Andrew McKiernan

Robert Hood

So be sure to check out their blogs.

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2013 Aurealis Awards finalists announced

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0
February 16, 2014

AA logo 2013 Aurealis Awards finalists announcedAfter a record number of entries, the finalists for the 2013 Aurealis Awards have been announced.

The Aurealis Awards are Australia’s premier speculative fiction awards. The ceremony will take place April 5, 2014 in Canberra. The venue is the Great Hall, University House, Australian National University.

Doors open 7pm for drinks, ceremony begins at 8pm. Details here: http://www.aurealisawards.com/

Congratulations to all the very worthy nominees!

The 2013 Aurealis Awards Finalists are:

BEST ILLUSTRATED BOOK OR GRAPHIC NOVEL

Savage Bitch by Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr (Scar Studios)

Mr Unpronounceable Adventures by Tim Molloy (Milk Shadow Books)

Burger Force by Jackie Ryan (self-­‐published)

Peaceful Tomorrows Volume Two by Shane W Smith (Zetabella Publishing)

The Deep Vol. 2: The Vanishing Island by Tom Taylor and James Brouwer (Gestalt Publishing)

BEST CHILDREN’S BOOK

Kingdom of the Lost, book 2: Cloud Road by Isobelle Carmody (Penguin Group Australia)

Refuge by Jackie French (Harper Collins)

Song for a scarlet runner by Julie Hunt (Allen & Unwin)

The four seasons of Lucy McKenzie by Kirsty Murray (Allen & Unwin)

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan (Hachette Australia)

Ice Breaker: The Hidden 1 by Lian Tanner (Allen & Unwin)

BEST YOUNG ADULT SHORTFICTION

“Mah Song” by Joanne Anderton (The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories, FableCroft Publishing)

“By Bone-­‐light” by Juliet Marillier (Prickle Moon, Ticonderoga Publications)

“Morning Star” by D.K. Mok (One  Small Step, an anthology of discoveries, FableCroft Publishing)

“The Year of Ancient Ghosts”  by Kim Wilkins (The Year of Ancient  Ghosts, Ticonderoga Publications)

BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

The Big Dry by Tony Davies (Harper Collins)

Hunting by Andrea Host (self-­‐published)

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan  Spooner (Allen & Unwin)

Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse  Near (Random House  Australia)

The Sky So Heavy  by Claire Zorn (University of Queensland Press)

BEST HORROR SHORT FICTION

“Fencelines” by Joanne Anderton (The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories, FableCroft Publishing)

“The Sleepover” by Terry Dowling (Exotic  Gothic 5, PS Publishing)

“The Home for Broken Dolls” by Kirstyn McDermott (Caution: Contains Small Parts, Twelfth Planet Press)

“The Human  Moth” by Kaaron Warren (The Grimscribe’s Puppets, Miskatonic Press)

“The Year of Ancient Ghosts” by Kim Wilkins (The Year of Ancient Ghosts, Ticonderoga Publications)

BEST HORROR  NOVEL

The Marching Dead by  Lee Battersby (Angry Robot Books)

The First Bird by  Greig Beck (Momentum)

Path of Night by Dirk Flinthart (FableCroft Publishing)

Fairytales for  Wilde Girls by Allyse Near (Random House Australia)

BEST FANTASY SHORT FICTION

“The Last Stormdancer” by  Jay Kristoff (Thomas Dunne Books)

“The  Touch of the  Taniwha” by Tracie McBride (Fish, Dagan  Books)

“Cold, Cold War” by Ian McHugh  (Beneath Ceaseless Skies,  Scott H  Andrews)

“ShortCircuit” by Kirstie Olley (Oomph: a little  super goes a long  way, Crossed Genres)

“The Year of Ancient Ghosts” by Kim Wilkins (The Year of Ancient Ghosts,  Ticonderoga Publications)

BEST FANTASY NOVEL

Lexicon by Max Barry  (Hachette Australia)

A Crucible of Souls by Mitchell Hogan (self-­‐published)

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan  Spooner (Allen & Unwin)

Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix (Jill Grinberg Literary Management)

Ink Black Magic by Tansy Rayner  Roberts (FableCroft Publishing)

BEST SCIENCE FICTION SHORT FICTION

“The Last Tiger” by Joanne Anderton (Daily Science Fiction)

“Mah Song” by Joanne Anderton (The Bone Chime Song and  Other Stories, FableCroft Publishing)

“Seven Days in Paris” by  Thoraiya Dyer (Asymmetry, Twelfth Planet Press)

“Version 4.3.0.1” by Lucy Stone (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #57)

“Air, Water and  the Grove” by Kaaron Warren  (The Lowest Heaven, Pandemonium Press)

BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

Lexicon by Max Barry (Hachette)

Trucksong  by Andrew Macrae (Twelfth Planet Press)

A Wrong  Turn At The Office  Of Unmade Lists by Jane Rawson (Transit Lounge)

True Path by Graham Storrs (Momentum)

Rupetta by Nike Sulway (Tartarus Press)

BEST ANTHOLOGY

The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2012  by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (Eds), (Ticonderoga Publications)

One  Small Step, An Anthology  Of Discoveries by Tehani Wessely (Ed) (FableCroft Publishing)

Dreaming Of Djinn by Liz Grzyb (Ed) (Ticonderoga Publications)

The Best Science Fiction  And Fantasy Of The  Year: Volume Seven by Jonathan Strahan (Ed) (NightShade Books)

Focus 2012: Highlights Of Australian Short Fiction by Tehani Wessely (Ed) (FableCroft Publishing)

BEST COLLECTION

The Bone Chime Song and  Other Stories by Joanne Anderton (FableCroft Publishing)

Asymmetry by Thoraiya Dyer (Twelfth Planet Press)

Caution: Contains Small Parts by Kirstyn McDermott (Twelfth Planet Press)

The Bride Price by Cat Sparks (Ticonderoga Publications)

The Year  of Ancient Ghosts by Kim  Wilkins (Ticonderoga Publications)

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The great Le Guin re-read

By
4
February 15, 2014

Earthsea 300x174 The great Le Guin re readI’ve decided to re-read all the Earthsea books by Ursula K Le Guin. Well, I say re-read,  but I’ve not read them all for the first time yet. I can’t remember how old I was when I read the first one, A Wizard of Earthsea, but I do remember that it blew my tiny mind. At a guess, I’d say I was probably 10 or 11 years old. After that I consumed the next two – The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore. I didn’t know there was any more to Earthsea than that. At the time, there wasn’t. But there is now, as the pic at the top left there shows.

The books in the pic are in order and include all the Earthsea novels and short stories, but I’ve only ever read those first three. Those beloved, well-thumbed Penguin editions. According to Wikipedia, the books were published thus:

A Wizard of Earthsea is a fantasy novel by the American author Ursula K. Le Guin, first published by the small press Parnassus in 1968. Set in the fictional archipelago of Earthsea, the story relates the education of a young mage named Ged under the tutelage of his aunt (a village witch), as an apprentice to a wizard, at a school of wizardry, and finally through a quest of self-discovery. The tale of Ged’s growth and development continues in four subsequent novels, which are set a few years later and towards the end of his long life.

Le Guin’s so-called Earthsea cycle came to include the novels The Tombs of Atuan (1971), The Farthest Shore (1972), Tehanu (1990), and The Other Wind (2001). The author has also written seven short stories set in Earthsea, two of which preceded the novels.

So that’s what I have there, waiting to be read. I’m very excited to be starting on this journey again. I rarely re-read anything, as there’s so much out there and I want to read new things. But old favourite books are like old favourite places, magical to revisit. Especially books read when you’re young. They’re like the best summer holiday you ever had and whenever you go to that part of the world again it means so much more, layered with nostalgia. Of course, sometimes it’s a problem. Sometimes the book turns out to be awful and just happened to be perfect for your young mind at that time (*cough*Magician*cough*). Or the great holiday location turns out to be a tiny, dirty beach right by an industrial waste site and it’s only so strong in your memory because you got to touch the boob of Lucy from Leicester, who you never saw again, but it painted what was actually an awful two weeks in shades of rose and honey.

However, in this case, it’s not a problem. Le Guin is a master of her craft and these books are so good. I’m about halfway through A Wizard of Earthsea again and the prose, the language, the ideas, the descriptions, they’re all as fantastic as I remember. Whether the other books will hold up and whether the ones I’ve never yet read will be as good or worse or better I’ll find out as I go along.

One thing that’s for sure, I can’t wait to introduce my son to these books. That’s partly why I’m reading again now, to get an idea of how old he might need to be. I’ve got loads of time, he’s only 4 months old now. But one day, I’ll hand him A Wizard of Earthsea and know without a doubt that I’m handing him a piece of magic. Altering magic, that shapes minds and ideals. There are so many other things I can’t wait to show him and my favourite books and movies are high on the list. I really can’t wait. My son, I have such sights to show you. (Although I might save that one until he’s in his teens at least.)

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Midnight Echo 10 in print

By
0
February 4, 2014

ME10 300x300 Midnight Echo 10 in printCheck it out – got my name on the cover and everything. This is Midnight Echo issue 10, which came out in e-copy at the end of December, but is now available in sweet, sweet print as well. All big and glossy and weighty in the hand. It’s got loads of great fiction based around guest editor Craig Bezant’s brief of ghost stories, including my twist on the ghost yarn, Exposure Compensation. It also has the winners of the AHWA Short Story and Flash competition, so that means my winning story, It’s Always the Children Who Suffer, is also in there among those. Plus feature articles, graphic novel stories, interviews and all that jazz.

And a brilliant Vincent Chong cover. What’s not to love? Get yours in ebook or print, or both, from the Midnight Echo site right here.

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Branding like a boss

By
0
February 4, 2014

A while ago, my mate Tom Bicknell jokingly referred to me as the Warrior Scribe, due the fact that I’m a martial arts instructor and a writer. I liked it, it kinda stuck, so I renamed my site. But only in the title graphic. Ever since then I’ve loosely embraced the Warrior Scribe moniker for myself. However, when I went looking for the domain, it wasn’t available. But it also wasn’t being used. Turns out it was owned by an evangelical Christian. When I contacted him and asked if I could buy it, he wanted to know what for. I directed him to this website. He came back laughing that I was all about the devil and such, and his domain was for the word of god. “You wait,” he said, “when I finally get around to using this domain I’ll be spreading the word of god with a power you wouldn’t believe. Cities will fall before my evangelical might!” I’m paraphrasing, of course, but that was gist of the old bollocks he was selling.

Anyway, I kept an eye on the domain. In the meantime, I used my new title in various places. It went into my email signature. I started a new Tumblr (as it turned out Posterous was complete arse) and used the named there: http://warrior-scribe.tumblr.com. Although, annoyingly, I had to use a hyphen as the name without the hyphen was already gone. (Don’t bother trying that one – it’s not very good and hasn’t been posted to for four months. Go and enjoy the lunacy of http://warrior-scribe.tumblr.com instead.)

But anyway, I kept an eye on things. And now, like a miracle from god (or a bloke who couldn’t be bothered any more), the domain of www.warriorscribe.com became available. So I bought it. Old Mr Evangelical didn’t destroy as many infidels as he hoped, it would seem. Go on, click it. See what happens.

Welcome back.

Yeah, I’m ridiculously pleased with such a lame fucking result, but I’ve just finished and submitted a trilogy of novels, so this is about where my brain is at right now. The thing is, I don’t really know what else to do with it. Other than having an easier url to tell people. Explaining alanbaxteronline.com doesn’t seem difficult, but it’s quite long and then you have to make sure they use alan and not allen or allan or alun or alwyn or whatever the hell else. Now it’s as simple as saying, “My website? Sure, it’s warriorscribe.com.”

I need to set up email to match, I suppose. Because explaining alan at alanbaxteronline dot com is even harder than the url. Beyond that, I’m not sure. Click any of the pages and it basically defaults back to the old alanbaxteronline.com files anyway as that’s still the hosted site. It’s just using a pseudonym. Like a proper little writer’s website. I might get some new business cards though.

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Bloody Waters by Jason Franks – review

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0
January 28, 2014

Here’s my latest review posted at Thirteen O’Clock:

BW cover eBook t 193x300 Bloody Waters by Jason Franks   reviewBloody Waters by Jason Franks

Possible Press, 2012

ISBN: 978-0980813531

Bloody Waters is the debut novel from Jason Franks, maybe better known for his comics work. I reviewed The Sixsmiths here a while ago. This first novel was nominated for an Aurealis Award for Best Horror Novel last year and I can see why. Here’s the blurb:

When guitar virtuoso Clarice Marnier finds herself blacklisted she makes a deal with the devil for a second chance. Soon Clarice and her band, Bloody Waters, are on their way to stardom… but cracking the Top 10 is one thing; gunfights with the Vatican Mafia and magical duels quite another. Clarice is going to have to confront the Devil himself – the only question is whether she’ll be alive or dead when it happens.

I had no expectations going into this book, other than knowing it had an award nomination. I was really surprised. It’s a unique read. The writing style is tight and powerful, the book clips along at a solid pace. We start with young Clarice putting aside Barbie dolls for a guitar and we follow her progress through high school and into her first band and beyond, where nothing else matters but the music. Absolutely nothing. The chapters are short and the description spare but complete.

Clarice herself is an interesting main character. She’s very well-realised by Franks as a balls out, takes no shit hero of rock’n’roll. If I have any complaints about this book it would be that sometimes Clarice is a bit too cold and calculating. I would have liked to see a few more moments of humanity in her, but it’s no surprise they weren’t there. She is a force of heavy metal nature and no one gets away with messing with her. Except, perhaps, the Devil himself…

Read the rest of my review at Thirteen O’Clock.

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Conflux Writer’s Day, featuring all sorts of writers including me

By
0
January 28, 2014

I’m going to be one of many presenters at this awesome day for writers organised by the Conflux convention committee. Looks like it’s going to be well worth your time if you’re a writer and able to get to Canberra on the day. The best part? It’s the same day as the Aurealis Awards presentation gala night, so you can come to the writer’s day for professional development and general inspiration, and then glam up for the awards night.

The Writer’s Day presentations are from 9am-5pm on Saturday April 5 2014. Registrations are open now at http://conflux.org.au/conflux-writers-day-2/registration/. It will take place at University House, Australian National University, Canberra.

The theme of the day is ‘The Writers Journey’, which will be covered by four sub-themes – ‘Writing Skills’, ‘Writing Processes’, ‘Submission and Publication’ and ‘Building a Career’.

Four plenary speakers will be addressing these themes. These speakers are:

Joanne Anderton
Kaaron Warren
Ian McHugh
Keri Arthur

Clicking on those names will take you to the Conflux page describing their talk.

There will also be a bunch of concurrent presentations bringing great thoughts and ideas to writers at all stages of their career. That’s where I come in. I’ll be talking about “Building an online presence: social media for authors”. Here’s the abstract, describing what I’ll be talking about:

A presentation on how authors can best build an online presence to promote themselves and their work, utilising the most powerful social media tools, with a central website hub to streamline their activity. Too often, an emphasis on social media distracts from writing time, or an author is overwhelmed by all the things they think they *should* be doing online, instead of writing. This presentation will break down the basics, identify the most powerful online tools and how to use them effectively with very little effort or time required on the part of the author. We will also debunk the myth of the “author platform”.

We will look at personal websites, integrated social media feeds and what an author really *needs* to do. There will be a decent amount of time at the end of the presentation for Q&A.

You can go here for a full breakdown of the day’s presentations. The concurrent presentations are factored in around the plenary speakers, so you can go to all four keynote speeches and then take your pick of all the other stuff. There are some great people with loads of knowledge presenting at this thing, so if you’re able, I highly recommend you try to get along. If you do, come and say hi. Hope to see you there.

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All The Wealth In The World at Lakeside Circus

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0
January 22, 2014

I’m very happy to say that my first short story for 2014 has been published. It’s in an online magazine, so free to read for everyone. Can’t complain about that, eh? It’s in the first issue of a new zine called Lakeside Circus, which looks like it might become a very worthwhile spot to keep an eye on. Here’s how they describe themselves:

Lakeside Circus is a short-form speculative fiction magazine, published quarterly by Dagan Books, LLC. Beginning with Year One, Issue One (Nov 29, 2013), we will produce the magazine for sale in multiple ebook formats, and then release most of the content online over the course of three months (free to read). Readers can subscribe, purchase the individual ebooks, or wait for the free content to appear on our site.

And my story has indeed just appeared on the site. Here’s how it opens:

ALL THE WEALTH IN THE WORLD

by Alan Baxter

The Time-Maker’s expression is serious. I can’t stop looking at her translucent skin. She must be a thousand years old. Her eyes are almost lost in folds, but dark brown irises glisten, bright and sharp, in the tiny gap. “Nothing without a cost,” she says again, voice heavily accented. Eastern European, maybe Russian.

“I know,” I say.

“Do you really? Not just money.”

“Whatever time you give me has to come from somewhere else. I get it.”

Read the rest here.

lakeside circus All The Wealth In The World at Lakeside Circus

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RealmShift for only 99c – it’s a Bookblast!

By
0
January 21, 2014

Those wonderful people over at Gryphonwood Press have set up a very special little promotion for RealmShift, called a bookblast. The bottom line is that you can get RealmShift for just 99c on Kindle, Kobo and Nook. Also, if you buy the Kindle version for 99c, you can get the audiobook version through Amazon for only $1.99. This is some kind of madness, surely? Well, maybe, but it’s only lasting for a day or so, so you’ve got til the end of Wednesday, US time, to get your copy.

Here’s the skinny:

Realmshift1 RealmShift for only 99c   its a Bookblast!

Today through Wednesday only, get RealmShift, book one of
Book 1 of The Balance for 99c

RealmShift, book 1 of The Balance series by Alan Baxter, is only 99 cents on Kindle, Kobo, and Nook! What’s more, if you buy the Kindle version for 99 cents, you can also buy the Audiobook for $1.99 through Amazon! Don’t miss this great intro to Alan’s dark urban fantasy series.

Kindle US

Kindle UK

Kindle AU

Kindle CA 

Kobo

Nook

You know you want to – go get some! And please share this around any of your networks if you think people will be interested.

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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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