The best work is always unofficially collaborative

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July 9, 2014

I was reading stuff online today, procrastinating because sleep-deprived, when I came across this great post by Peter M Ball on the value of his weekly Write Club. Basically, he gets together with Angela Slatter once a week and they help each other get the writing done and get it done well.

It got me thinking. My most recent short story is all my own work supposedly. But it was critiqued by three of my best writing pals. It has significant additional scenes in the middle from one pal’s suggestions, a completely reworked end from another pal’s suggestion, much juggling of motivations from the third pal’s concerns and greatly polished final words from the input of all three. All of those things I’ve just credited separately were actually raised by all three because they’re bloody good advisors. It’s the solutions I used that I’m crediting really, all of them tempered with my own ideas. The best critiquers don’t tell you how to fix something – they just tell you what doesn’t work and maybe why (for them). It’s your job to decide whether to take that on board and it’s your job to fix it.

Let’s tie this back to Bound, as I’m harping on endlessly about that at the moment because of course I am. That book was turned from an okay manuscript into a great one by my mate, Paul Haines. It was subsequently thoroughly beaten senseless by Angela Slatter and Joanne Anderton. Without the help of those people it would not be published. No way. It wasn’t good enough. All the potential was there, of course, but those people said what didn’t work and I fixed it. They weren’t nice about it. Haines in particular has an acerbic crit voice that’ll take the skin right off your flesh. Fuck, I miss him for so many reasons, and that’s only one. But that’s what a writer needs. Not people who will say, “You’re brilliant! That story is great!” because it almost certainly isn’t. It could be, but it’s not yet.

You need that critical honesty from someone who wants to see you be the best you can. And you can do the same for them.

I get asked more and more often: “What advice do you have for aspiring writers?” My standard answer is always my best advice:

Write. Write as much as you can, always strive to get better and don’t give up. When not writing, read.

That’s still my best advice. You can have that for nothing. But on top of that, here’s part two:

Find a few like-minded friends and be honest with each other. If you can find people better than you, that’s great. (I was lucky cos I did!) But very little of any real quality happens without help.

With that kind of help, the stuff you produce will always be better than it might have been if you did it without help. To paraphrase one of my favourite bands, All writers need a little help from their friends.

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Photoshop Bound giveaway winners

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July 7, 2014

So I stole this idea from Mark Lawrence and asked people to photoshop the cover of Bound into whacky pictures, just for a laugh. I was going to pick a winner. Then I couldn’t decide and asked people to go the Facebook album where I put all the pics and Like their favourites. Then I decided to reward the top three, which turned out to be four due to a tie! So I’ll be sending out four signed copies this week.

Here are the results:

Geoff Brown’s entry was a clear winner with 27 Likes (plus it panders beautifully to my ego.)

10406946 901985129828400 6411272847290657643 n 300x131 Photoshop Bound giveaway winners


Also:

David Wood with 11 Likes (you sick fuckers, all o’ya!)

10472731 902581919768721 2932070921505772847 n 300x220 Photoshop Bound giveaway winners
And joint third:

Voytek Zochowski and Josh Connolly with 7 Likes each. And come on, Bruce Lee and CoD Predator? Top work.

10488154 901410969885816 990162268133634488 n 300x294 Photoshop Bound giveaway winners

10500272 901373406556239 5073336900287324176 n 300x214 Photoshop Bound giveaway winners

Click on each image for  larger version. Those Likes might change, but that’s how they stood at 11pm Sunday when I decided to call it.

I’ll contact the winners privately for address details. Congrats all, and thanks to everyone who entered. What a lot of fun that was!

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“Upon a Distant Shore” out now and free in Dimension6

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July 4, 2014

D6badge 300x256 Upon a Distant Shore out now and free in Dimension6I’ve been going on a lot lately about the release of Bound, but I’m a greedy little writer and have another release out today as well. This one is a short story called “Upon a Distant Shore”, available for free in Dimension6 magazine, issue 2.

Dimension6 is a great new project from editor, Keith Stevenson. Three new stories per issue, three issues a year, of great spec fic over 4,500 words. So that’s longform short stories, novelettes and novellas, in any ebook format you prefer, for free! You can’t ask for better than that.

My story is a short one at around 5,000 words. It’s about an astronaut on the ISS who really wants something to happen that’ll carve his name in the history books. And he gets it. Be careful what you wish for.

I share this issue with Dirk Strasser and Robert Stephenson – fine company indeed. While you’re grabbing this issue, you can snag issue 1 as well. All the details here. I hope you enjoy it!

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One week left to register for the Sydney launch of Bound – please come along

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July 3, 2014

Just a quick reminder that Bound is being launched by the wonderful Margo Lanagan at Kinokinuya Bookshop in Sydney at 6.30pm on Thursday July 10th.

All the details, including an RSVP email address, on the evite below. Click for a larger version. There will be free wine! And books, obviously. And me to sign them. And Margo Lanagan. I’d love to see you there.

Bound evite 300x150 One week left to register for the Sydney launch of Bound   please come along

A timely repost of the article about authors dying (on the shelves)

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July 1, 2014

I originally posted this back in September 2010, but it seems very relevant to post it again now. After all, the first book in my new (so far) trilogy has just come out. (Yes, it’s all about me. I don’t have a new book come out very often, so give me this. Come on – hug?) I wrote the original post based on my observations as a reader, and now it’s something that applies directly to me as an author. While Bound is a standalone novel, it’s also the first in a series. There’s a big story that arches over the first three books (Bound, Obsidian and Abduction) with threads left for more books in the series, even though each one is a standalone novel too. So please, don’t wait for the others to come out before you buy Bound if you think the ideas interest you. I’ll explain why by reposting my 2010 article below. It was originally, and very sensationalistically (yeah, that’s a word!), called “While you wait for book three, authors die!” So even though Bound is a standalone novel as well as the start of a new series, the principle still applies. So here it is again:

The title of this post is slightly sensationalist, but in a literary sense it’s actually very true. I mentioned recently that I’ve finally started reading A Game Of Thrones, which is the first book in George R R Martin’s A Song Of Ice & Fire series. This comment lead to a few discussions in various places that has subsequently lead to this post.

When I mentioned that I was finally getting around to reading A Game Of Thrones a lot of people assumed that also meant that I’d only just bought it. Especially when, in answer to the question, “Why has it taken you this long?” I replied, “I was waiting for the complete story before I started.”

A lot of people do this, and fair enough. When you notice a big old fantasy series that you think catches your interest, it’s reasonable to assume there’s going to be a whole story told. Often these days a writer will sell a trilogy (or bigger series) to a publisher and that publisher will set a publication schedule to release those books over a relatively short period of time, maybe even inside a year.

However, if no one buys the first book, it’s very possible that books two and three will never see the light of day. An author survives on their sales figures. If they perform poorly at the checkout, the publisher will discard them like a greasy burger wrapper and think nothing of it. That’s business. It’s fucked, but it’s business.

Going back to Martin’s series, when people started telling me how awesome it was, I started buying the books. They’ve sat on my shelf for ages. I wasn’t going to read them until there was a whole finished set, but I bought them to ensure that Martin showed solid sales figures and stayed in favour with his publisher. (I ended up starting to read recently because of the forthcoming TV series, and I wanted to have read the books first).

Obviously someone like George R R Martin doesn’t need my help, but the same thing applies across the board. For example, I was on a panel recently with Paul Cornell and he talked about one of his comic series being cancelled. There was conjecture that the series was cancelled because so many people these days wait for the trade, rather than collect the individual comic books. If no one buys the comic books, the story is considered a failure and there’ll be no trade.

The same applies to big series of novels. If no one buys the first book, the author/story will be considered a failure and there’ll be no release of the rest of the books. The people who read the first one are denied closure, the people who were waiting for a whole series have missed the opportunity and, most importantly, the author is dropped and never has the chance to expand their career. This is a very sad result of market forces and it’s actually a false result.

So if you see the first book of a series that you think you might like, buy it! You don’t have to read it right away – consider it an investment in your reading future. Buy the subsequent volumes as they come out and you’ll end up with a solid reading experience once the whole series is finished. And you’ve done your bit to ensure the success of an author and their literary vision. Hopefully you’ve had a good read too.

EDIT: And you know what’s even more powerful? Early sales figures. The more books an author sells in the first few weeks after publication, the better for that author’s career. So if you think you like the idea of Bound, please buy it sooner rather than later, even if you’re not likely to read it for ages. I’ll be forever in your debt – and I promise you  great read! Learn all about Bound and sample the first three chapters for free here.

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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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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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