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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Bound reviewed at Marianne de Pierres’ blog

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June 1, 2014

The early reviews of Bound are starting to come in, and the reaction so far is pretty fantastic. I’m so pleased people appear to be enjoying it. Recently Marianne de Pierres was kind enough to host on her blog a review from Jamie Marriage. Here’s an excerpt:

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.

Honestly, it really doesn’t get any better than that. Read the full review here:

http://www.mariannedepierres.com/jamie-reviews-bound-by-alan-baxter/

I’ll be over here Snoopy dancing.

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Bound launch evite and the first 3 chapters free online!

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May 30, 2014

I apologise in advance. My new book, Bound, the first Alex Caine book, comes out in almost exactly one month, on the 1st July. So my apology is because I’m going to be crapping on a lot about this book over the next month or so. I really hope I don’t bore you, and I’ll try to be interesting on other subjects too, but the reality is, I have a fucking book coming out!I’m equal parts excited, nervous and panicking. But yes, if I go on about this a lot, please forgive me. It’s not something that happens often.

So, with that in mind, here’s some more Bound news. As I’ve already blogged, there will be pre-release copies available at Supanova Sydney and a few ARCs up for grabs at Continuum in Melbourne. The book will be available in shops from July 1st or so. But the first official launch of Bound is on July 10th in Sydney and you’re all invited. Margo Lanagan is launching the book. Margo Frickin’ Lanagan who writes with a frickin’ pen! (She does, you know – writes everything longhand first. Mad.) I mean it, all of you are invited. Please come if you can, it would wonderful to see you there. It’s at Kinokuniya Bookshop, as I’ve mentioned before, but now there’s a proper electronic invite with an RSVP email address so Kino can get an idea of numbers. That’s below – click on it for a larger image.

Meanwhile, to whet your appetites (cos I know you all have voracious appetites) I’ve put a PDF of the first three chapters of Bound on the official Bound webpage here. So, go and have a read and I hope you like it. I hope you like it enough to buy the book. Nothing would make me happier. Well, world peace would make me happier. As would a cure for all cancers. And so on. But, in context, you know what I mean.

Here’s the invite – I really look forward to seeing people there.

Bound evite 300x150 Bound launch evite and the first 3 chapters free online!

EDIT: And now there’s a Facebook event for the Kinokinuya launch that can sign up to for updates. Click here!

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Adelaide signing event for Bound, July 19th

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May 29, 2014

I’ve already blogged about the Bound events happening in Sydney at Supanova in June and the official launch at Kinokinuya on July 10th (and some pre-launch stuff at Continuum in Melbourne). All those details here. But Adelaide is getting some love too. I’m coming down to Collins Booksellers Edwardstown, Shop T54, Castle Plaza, 992 South Road, Edwardstown, Adelaide, South Australia on Saturday July 19th at 1pm, where I’ll be signing copies and generally hanging out to have a good time.

There’s a Facebook event you can join here to stay updated.

As the bookstore say, “If you enjoy Jim Butcher and Kevin Herne, then you will love Alan Baxter.” I can’t complain about that kind of comparison.

So if you’re anywhere near Adelaide on July 19th, I’d love to see you there.

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Amazon, Hachette and the swinging of gorilla dicks

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May 25, 2014

I was planning to blog today about the Amazon/Hachette debacle, but good old Jay Kristoff has said pretty much everything I wanted to say, so I’ll just direct you over there (link at the end). But I will add one thing – I’m generally a fan of Amazon and the amazing things they’ve done for writers and readers. The game is constantly changing and big dogs will always come out on top in the fight. But there’s a line where game-changers become game-dictators and then it’s a problem.

This is what Jay is talking about, so I’ll leave that there. But remember also that Amazon are trying to corner ebooks with mobi when everyone else (and I mean EVERYONE) is using ePub. This is something they’ve been doing all along – and you don’t even get to own the mobi. Only a licence to read it. So while you’re considering Jay’s words, consider that too and maybe reconsider your choice of ereader and ebook. You can shop just as easily online for print and ebook with Barnes & Noble, kobo.com and so on. (I think I might do some research and blog about alternative stores at some point.)

Regardless, do as Jay says and exercise your consumer power. If we all do this, Amazon’s strongarm, bully-boy bullshit might just swing that big old gorilla cock right back into their own face. (Blame Jay for this analogy.)

Now, go and read his post here.

EDIT: After a Facebook discussion triggered by this post, I feel the need to add something that wasn’t made clear in my original post. That’s my fault for not mentioning it. However, I’m not automatically defending Hachette here. It’s not guaranteed that they’re playing fair in negotiations. After all, the big five were found to be colluding against Amazon before – corporate negotiations are rarely fair and equitable. What I have a problem with, whether Hachette are playing fair or not, are the tactics Amazon are employing in the negotiations. Amazon are targeting readers and authors with their actions and we can say “Fuck you!” to that by shopping elsewhere. Regardless of the reasons and who’s doing what and why, that is the simple truth of Amazon’s actions.

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My Continuum X schedule

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May 23, 2014

Continuum X is just around the corner. Have you voted in the Ditmars? If not, stop reading this and read this. Then go and vote! Then come back and read the rest of this. I’ll wait. *starts filing nails*

*makes a cuppa*

*squeezes in a quick game of Hearthstone*

You’ve voted? Good. You’re making the world of Australian SFF a better place.

So, other than the Ditmar Awards, loads of other stuff is happening at Continuum X and here’s my schedule:

SigningsSaturday 13:00-13:30 in The Midway (Foyer)
I’m pretty sure there won’t be any copies of Bound available yet, but I’m happy to sign anything else. Really, I’ll sign anything. Surprise me.

ReadingsSaturday 14:00-15:00 in Sideshow Alley
with: to be confirmed.
While there won’t be copies of Bound available, I will be reading an excerpt from the book, so if you want a sneak preview, come along to this.

Judging a Book By Its Cover panelSaturday 15:00-16:00 in The Hall of Mirrors
with: Alan Baxter, Nalini Haynes, Kate Cuthbert, Laura Wilkinson, Dirk Strasser
This should be an interesting panel!

Demystifying Social Media panelSaturday 18:00-19:00 in The Haunted House
with: Nalini Haynes, Alan Baxter, Jim C. Hines, Satima Flavell, Helen Stubbs

This is always too big a subject for a single panel, but we’ll do our best, I’m sure.

The Aliens Are Too Human! panelSunday 10:00-11:00 in The Hall of Mirrors
with: Alan Baxter, Steve Cameron, Darren Sanderson, Bismuth Hoban, Stacey Larner

I’m looking forward to this. No Star Trek galactic DNA seeding bollocks here, please.

At the Crossroads: Music and Genre Fiction panelSunday 15:00-16:00 in The Haunted House
with: Julia Svaganovic, Jason Franks, Narrelle Harris, Alan Baxter

RAWK!

How To Make a Podcast panelSunday 16:00-17:00 in The Big Top
with Sean Wright, Alan Baxter, Kirstyn McDermott, Terry Frost, Alex Pierce

I’m sure my co-panelists will be far more knowledgable than me on this one, even though I’ve co-hosted over 100 episodes of Authorcast, but there you go!

So that’s me actually fairly busy at the con this year, but that’s cool. Plenty of bar time in between. And I’m sure I’ll be checking out a lot of the other interesting panels and things going on. Come and find me, say hello, let’s have a beer or something.

See you there!

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Albedo1 reviews SQ Mag 14 very positively and is very kind to my story

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May 20, 2014

Roderick McDonald over at Albedo1.com has reviewed issue 14 of SQ Mag. It’s a fine review and says very nice things about my novelette.

“The Darkness in Clara” by Alan Baxter punched you in the face right from the start. On discovering her long-time partner Clara hanging by the neck as a result of suicide, Michelle feels she has to dig up the past to try to fathom the depths of the departed’s soul. Maybe not a wise decision, nevertheless she goes back to the town where Clara grew up only to find severe hostility. Of the many characters there was nobody to beat Wendy. What great descriptions you get in the story! Anyway, it turns out that Wendy and her pals detested Clara and had no sympathy for her suicide. Something in the past was the source of irritation and it was possibly to do with black magic!

An uncomfortable story to read because of the subject matter, it nevertheless became gripping especially with very believable characters that don’t miss and hit the wall. A really good story!

Can’t get much better praise than that.

You can read the full review here.

And you can read SQ Mag and my story here.

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Bound official Sydney launch at Kinokuniya, plus Continuum and Supanova news!

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May 16, 2014

This writing life sure has its ups and downs, often to great extremes. There has been one huge downer recently, but I’ll keep that to myself – I don’t want to bring you guys down and, after all, the nature of a down is that it can only go up again, right? Thankfully there have been some real highs too, so I’ll share those. These really are Good Things!

9bc96de8 8acc 4faa aef7 3edfc849e6fe Bound official Sydney launch at Kinokuniya, plus Continuum and Supanova news!Firstly, Bound, Alex Caine #1, is now on Goodreads. You can add it to your shelves and list it among the books you want to read – click here to find it. It would be great if you could add it and give the book some early exposure among your pals.

And talking of exposure, I’ll be on the promotional tour soon, starting with Continuum X, this year’s National Science Fiction convention in Melbourne, over the first weekend in June (7th – 9th). Bound is officially out on July 1st, so I don’t think we’ll have copies for Continuum, but there will be Bound-related stuff going on, and maybe a few ARCs up for grabs. If you can get along to Continuum, come and say hi and we’ll have a drink at the bar. I’ll be on a few panels and doing a couple of signings and a reading too, so plenty happening. Signings will most likely be previous things, as Bound won’t be out yet, but I’ll definitely do a reading from Bound, so if you want an early sneak peek, come and have a listen then.

Talking of sneak peeks, over the next weekend in June (13th-15th), I’m very excited to say I’ll be an author guest at Supanova in Sydney. It’ll be my first Supanova. And here I can reveal that we’ll have the first official pre-release launch of Bound during the Supanova weekend and there will be copies of the book available. If you get to Supanova, you can get the book three weeks before it’s officially out and available in shops. And I’ll be there to sign it for you. Here’s the list of author guests – I’m honoured to be in this kind of company.

But, if you can’t make Continuum or Supanova (or even if you can) and you’re in or near Sydney, here’s the skinny on the:

Official public launch of Bound

Thursday, July 10th at Kinokuniya Bookshop
Level 2, The Galeries, 500 George Street (opposite QVB) Sydney NSW 2000

From 6.00pm for  6.30pm start.

And I’m very chuffed and more than a little honoured to announce that the wonderful Margo Lanagan will be there to launch the book.

Margo is a good friend and a tremendous writer. Honestly, you need to seek out and read her stuff. This launch should be a good party, with reading, signing, nibbles, booze and great people. Of course, if you just can’t wait and you buy the book on release day, that’s absolutely fine – You’re more than welcome to bring it along to the launch if you want to get it signed and join in the festivities.

Please tell everyone who you think might be interested and help me spread the word about these events. I can’t wait to share the story of Alex Caine with you.

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Suspended in Dusk anthology, ToC revealed

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May 13, 2014

My story, “Shadows of the Lonely Dead”, is coming out in the Suspended in Dusk anthology (Books of the Dead Press, due mid-late 2014) and the editor, Simon Dewar, has just released the full list of contributing authors and their stories. It’s a stellar bunch:

Alan Baxter – Shadows of the Lonely Dead
Angela Slatter – The Way of All Flesh
Anna Reith – Taming the Stars
Armand Rosamilia – At Dusk They Come
Benjamin Knox – The Keeper of Secrets
Brett Rex Bruton – Outside In
Chris Limb – Ministry of Outrage
Icy Sedgwick – A Woman of Disrepute
J C Michael – Reasons to Kill
John Everson - Spirits Having Flown (Reprint)
Karen Runge – Hope is Here
Ramsey Campbell – Digging Deep  (Reprint)
Rayne Hall – Burning (Reprint)
Sarah Read – Quarter Turn to Dawn
Shane McKenzie – Fit Camp (Reprint)
S. G. Larner – Shades of Memory
Tom Dullemond - Would to God That We Were There
Toby Bennett – Maid of Bone
Wendy Hammer – Negatives

That’s alphabetical, of course. The final order of stories and a cover reveal are apparently coming soon. I think this is going to be a great book. A few of those stories are reprints, but the majority are original, and all follow the theme of “suspended in dusk” to some degree. Should be well worth a read. And can I just point out that I’m going to be in a book with Ramsey Campbell. Achievement Unlocked!

More news as it comes to hand.

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The winners of the Bram Stoker Awards® for 2013

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May 11, 2014

The winners of the Bram Stoker Awards® for 2013 were announced at the Awards Banquet on May 10, 2014, at the Bram Stoker Awards Weekend and World Horror Convention in Portland, Oregon. The winners for superior achievement in each of the categories are:

Novel
Stephen King – Doctor Sleep (Scribner)

First Novel
Rena Mason – The Evolutionist (Nightscape Press)

Young Adult Novel
Joe McKinney – Dog Days (JournalStone)

Graphic Novel
Caitlin R. Kiernan – Alabaster: Wolves (Dark Horse Comics)

Long Fiction
Gary Braunbeck – “The Great Pity” (Chiral Mad 2, Written Backwards)

Short Fiction
David Gerrold – “Night Train to Paris” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Jan./Feb. 2013)

Screenplay
Glen Mazzara – The Walking Dead: “Welcome to the Tombs” (AMC TV)

Anthology
Eric J. Guignard (editor) – After Death… (Dark Moon Books)

Fiction Collection
Laird Barron – The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All and Other Stories (Night Shade Books)

Non-Fiction
William F. Nolan – Nolan on Bradbury: Sixty Years of Writing about the Master of Science Fiction (Hippocampus Press)

Poetry Collection
Marge Simon, Rain Graves, Charlee Jacob, and Linda Addison – Four Elements (Bad Moon Books/Evil Jester Press)

The following awards were also presented:

The Lifetime Achievement Award
Stephen Jones
R.L. Stine

The Specialty Press Award
Gray Friar Press

The Silver Hammer Award (for outstanding service to the Horror Writers Assn.)
Norman Rubenstein

The President’s Richard Laymon Service Award
JG Faherty

Congratulations to all the winners!

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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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