Masks – Ill at Ease 2 – honourable mention

Ellen Datlow has published a frighteningly large amount of fiction – fantasy and horror – over the last few decades. Which means she’s read more short fiction than I’ve had hot breakfasts (and I’ve had a LOT of hot breakfasts – bacon…) Anyway, she’s released on her site a list of all the stories she read that garnered an honourable mention from her published in calendar year 2013, and my story ‘Masks’, published in Ill at Ease 2, from Penman Press, was one of the mentioned stories.

Which is a real shot in the arm – writing has been slow for most of the year, so this is a real fillip for me.

You can read the list here. All up there’s four pages of names and stories which are well worth seeking out.

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Amok! article at Black Gate

Black Gate covers fantasy, horror and science fiction (with a special love for sword and sorcery).  I’ve had a couple of my stories mentioned there by one of their regular columnists in his coverage of short fantasy fiction.

There’s a piece there, written by Black Gate editor, John O’Neill, where he gives a high level view about the release of Amok!

Check it out, and support publisher April Moon Books

By the by, my contributor copy came through late last week.  While ebooks are relentlessly steamrollering along, it’s great to have an actual physcial copy to show the family!

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Amok! is out. Order your copy now!

New from April Moon Books comes Amok! a collection of horror stories, which includes one of my own, Suffer the Children.

You can order a copy from here

An unnerving anthology featuring tales of psychological decline and murderous frenzy!
These 26 stories span a multitude of genres and themes to both alarm and amuse you, as events spiral rapidly out of control, and mankind, monsters and minds go terribly, catastrophically, AMOK!

I had a lot of fun writing Suffer the Children (yes, not the most imaginative title, but beggars etc etc). Effectively a story of two halves and two styles, I was cackling gleefully as I wrote out the ending. Enjoy!

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Suffer the Children coming soon from April Moon Books

Hello dear readers.  Apologies for the delay between blog entries – as with all these things, if you’ve nothing to report, the blog tends to fall by the way side.  But I have things to report!

Most exciting is the acceptance of a story of mine, Suffer the Children*, which will see publication with April Moon Books, in the first volume in their Short Sharp Shocks range.  Volume 1 is titled Amok! and is full of stories promising violence and shocks aplenty.  The table of contents is available at the link.

The background behind my story is interesting.  The story has been knocking around for over a year, and only bashed into shape once I stumbled across April Moon Books on the internet, via their standout Lovecraftian anthology, Dark Rites of Cthulhu.  Contacted the editor of Amok! who was happy to take a look at the story.  To my very great pleasure (and, let’s face it, surprise) he advised he was accepting it for publication.  What’s more amazing is they had more than 100 submissions, so I’m very pleased to have made the grade.

Publication details are to be sorted out, but the collection is sure to be out later this year.

In other news, I successfully pitched a story to the editors of the UNIT Fannual, which will be a collection of Doctor Who stories, sans the Doctor, featuring that alien busting organisation, UNIT.  All I have at the moment is the pitch outline, so plenty to work on, but it does involve UNIT, strange deaths, and Nazi occultists – so really, you can’t go wrong.

Staying with Doctor Who, as some of you may be aware, I’m co-editor on the Doctor Who Project range of Doctor Who fan fiction.  The publisher, Bob Furnell, has issued a call for submissions for a collection of Doctor Who fiction, called the Temporal Logbook, published under the auspices of Pencil Tip Publishing.  For those interested, the submission period closes June 28th, so if you’re interested in penning some Doctor Who fiction, featuring any of the Doctors from 1-11 (warning:  no War Doctor stories), check out the submission guidelines and send us in your best stories!

All that aside, I’ve got a few stories banked waiting for me to get the time to edit them, plus there’s a short story competition from Baen Books that I’d love to submit to AND, the podcast I co-host on, 42 to Doomsday, continues apace.  The latest episode escaped into the wild this weekend.  Check it out!


*Yes, it’s a bloody awful title.  As if it hasn’t been used a thousand times before.  Just couldn’t think of anything better, and now you’re all stuck with it.  On the flipside, it is a damn good story with an ending I’m really proud about.

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Your weekend reading = sex and death. And yes, you’re welcome

For your reading pleasure – two short sword and sorcery tales from yours truly.

Blood Fire – wallows in sex and death from the beginning, to a pulse pounding encounter with the Outer Dark!

In the Shadow of the Gibbet – more wallowing in sex and death at the beginning, and then on to more gladiatorial combat than you could shake a pointy sword at.

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Blood and Bone in Midnight Echo 10

Midnight Echo is the magazine of the Australian Horror Writers Association. Issue 10 landed on my doorstep today, which means its available to purchase.

The issue includes a story I wrote last year, Blood and Bone. I nice slice of traditional horror, with a family under peril in a strange, threatening maze. The magazine features a range of great writers, from Australia and abroad.

Support Australian horror writing here by ordering a copy today.

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Blood Fire reviewed

Before I get to the main bit, apologies for the relentless self promotion that’s been going on this blog for the last few weeks. 2013 up to a certain point had been a very light on year for acceptances, plus my output has fallen as I’ve adjusted to a new job. All that’s turned around recently with the acceptances I’ve received, so thought it would be nice to celebrate that publicly. Will try to keep the self promotion to a minimum, if I can.

Anyway – been on the lookout for a review of my sword and sorcery story Blood Fire. I had seen Sword and Sorcery Magazine reviewed in Black Gate and hoped my story would be covered. Which it has. Review in the links above.

Very chuffed with Fletcher’s comments – it is purely an action adventure with a tinge of horror, so pleased he enjoyed it.

Oh, and if I don’t blog again before Christmas, Merry Christmas to you all at home. My advice- turn the PC/;aptop/tablet/smartphone off and spend more time with your family. I know I will!

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My story in TTA Press 2013 Advent Calendar out now!

You may have noticed the free story, Into the Green, I posted last week. Lest you think me generous of spirit, there was a darker motive, namely the chance to appear in the TTA Press (publisher of Interzone, Black Static and Crimewave) 2013 Advent Calendar.

Post a free story, send the link to the publisher, and up it goes for everyone to access.

Just a short piece of nastiness to keep you warm (for those reading in the above the equator) and chill you to the bone (for the rest of us colonials sweltering in the very late arrival of summer).

Click here

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More reviews for Ill at Ease 2 – have you purchased your copy?

After reading this review from Matt Fryer, how could you not immediately snap up the book?

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Free fiction – Into the Green

It’s the season of giving, etc etc, so I thought I’d put up a free piece of flash fiction I’ve had sitting on my hard drive for some time. Whether it should’ve remained there is up to the reader…

In the Green
When I see out of the corner of my eye something crawling up her back I freeze. Fat and bulbous and bristling, it creeps over the crown of her head with jointed legs, each placed delicately on her pale, greasy skin. Slowly, infinitely slowly, I put the bong down, smoke curling from its wide mouth.

‘Hannah,’ I manage weakly, lifting my throbbing head, a balloon barely tethered to my body. A scuttling noise in the shadows sends ice cascading down my spine. Nothing. A rat. Something. Turning back I see Hannah is staring at me, her eyes crossed in confusion. Of the…thing, well, it’s gone.

Ignoring her muddled questions, I slump into the broken-backed couch. Hannah fumbles her lighter into view, clicks it and then her bong bubbles as she sucks down a lungful of smoke. Some of it drifts along on hidden currents, the spicy floral stink pungent in my nostrils. Dimly, I remember Cameron, furtive on our doorstep, assuring me that what he was selling was the best.

‘From darkest Africa,’ he said, nudging me and winking. ‘The Congo, dontcha know?’ I didn’t like the way his eyes jittered, refusing to focus on anything longer than a second. ‘Jungle juice,’ he manages, folding my money away before I firmly close the door on him.

Giggling, Hannah and I ran down the rain-swept streets, to our hidey hole in an abandoned factory, window boarded up, echoing rooms stripped of machinery. Cameron was right, I decide, as that first hit bit into my lungs. My head unspooled, thoughts trailing behind as I plunged into a smoky tunnel that had opened in the centre of my head. Slowly, very slowly, I re-emerged, my thoughts reknitting into new, looser patterns. New ways of seeing, I declared to Hannah, who only laughed and laughed and laughed as she tamped down the grass and drew out her lighter.

Now, it’s me with the jitters, wondering what it was Cameron sold me.

Hannah sighs, smoke jetting from her nostrils like dragon’s breath. Smiling dreamily, she slumps to one side, stroking out on ecstasy. Her face lands against a mildewed cushion, something she’s pulled off the pile of broken furniture in a dark office hunkered in the shadows behind us. We always come here for our hits; the landlord is gagging for a way to get rid of us.

Her skirt rides up, exposing creamy white skin tracing the delicate curve of her hip. My eyes follow the curve into the soft darkness between her thighs and I feel the slow thud of my heart like a distant drum on a faraway hilltop. The faintest smell of the jungle reaches me, of heat and rot and green, pulsating life. So much green, hiding so much scuttling…

It’s on her again. Loathsome; quivering with life. It inches into view, all those legs, all that fibrous jutting hair. I glimpse jewelled eyes, black and shiny, enough to send a scream soaring up my throat, stifled by my fist, so that only the faintest of moans emerges.

There’s an enormous hole in the centre of my mind as I struggle to grasp what I’m seeing. Reality has come unmoored and there’s a storm on the horizon. I can only watch as it clambers across her, legs reaching out and digging in, obscenely embracing her.
I look at the bong sitting between my feet, the cannibalised coke bottle filled with brackish water smelling of spices and something…green.

‘Hannah.’ I manage a strangled whisper, terrified of having those eyes turn on me.
Her eyelids flutter open and reveal an empty ecstasy that has displaced her, sent her wandering in the green. Her lips quirk as I see a leg probe her ear, the thin, rigid limb digging deeper and deeper into the canal. Hannah’s arm on that side shivers, and her leg taps a message in Morse on the cold concrete floor. Her eyes roll around like marbles, catch a glimpse of what looms over her, and the life roars back.

Too late. From deep within its eyes, a cold intelligence greedy for life emerges. There is a click, and below the eyes an orifice opens, wet and hissing. Hannah struggles to rise and then her entire body shudders as that chitinous mouth burrows into her face.
The emptiness in my head fills with fear; howling, gibbering fear. I scramble to my feet, trainers slipping on the damp, grimy concrete. Paralyzed, I watch the creature burrow deeper and deeper into her face, until, with a heavy rustling of legs, it disappears, leaving only the caved in remnants to yawn emptily at me.

Her legs drum once and then she is still, her chest settling with a soft wheeze.

‘Fuck,’ I whisper, falling back onto the couch. I knock the bong over, stinking water, thick with rot and decay, spilling like spoiled broth over the floor. ‘Got too…Got too…’ The hole in my mind is back and the sense of falling makes me giddy. I try to get to my feet, but a peculiar heaviness has settled on me, dragging me down, holding me in place.

I touch my face, disturbed by how rubbery it feels; a deflated balloon retaining only the vaguest sense of its former shape. Looking at my quivering hands, I see, out of the corner of my eye, a long, jointed leg poke into view. Something hisses behind my left hear, and I smell that jungle rot again, full of squirming life, all of it burrowing deep into the green.

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