free short story collection

Pending the release of part 1 of my fantasy trilogy, I’ve decided to make my short story collection Out of Here temporarily free. You can get it here at Smashwords (or click on the image). I’ll update this page when it has filtered through to Amazon.

The anthology contains more than 50,000 words of short stories both in fantasy and SF. All stories have been published previously.

Here are a few of the story beginnings for #SampleSunday:

Little Boy Lost

Originally published in Midnight Echo issue 4 June 2010

Some people say that when you die, they put you in the ground where worms come to eat you until there is nothing left but bones, and that’s what you are: dust and bones, never to come back to life. Other people say they’ve talked to the souls of the dead. Maria can do better than that: she feeds them carrots.
She sits on her knees in the grass, damp with dew, seeping into her jeans. The bag of carrots rests in her lap, the plastic crinkling whenever she moves.
It’s well after dark, and the back yard breathes mystery. The too-long grass casts tangled shadows and the forbidding metal fence hides just out of view. Even the concrete looks different: with deep cracks like hieroglyphs.
They come out of the shadows, one by one. First the nose, wriggling. Long ears, twitching, flashing pink when they catch the beam of light slanting out the living room window. Then they hop: two furry paws in the grass. Hop. Sit up on the back legs. Another cautious wriggle of the nose. Another hop.
Maria lifts her mobile phone. The screen lights up blue: a picture of a tropical beach. She presses send message from template. Scroll down the page.
It’s safe. You can come.
Select contact, a twelve-digit number. Press send. The icon bounces over the screen.

Never on a Birthday

Originally published in Byzarium November2008

They said in the corridors of the galaxy, if the galaxy had corridors, that no one could throw a birthday party as fine as Hermon Feyst.
Certainly no one did it as often. A thousand guests, magnificent food, outrageous ornaments, and the orchestra–such heavenly talent, especially that trumpet player who jumped on his chair in a magnifique solo at the end of ‘Happy Birthday’. One could of course argue that they got quite a lot of practice playing ‘Happy Birthday’. But then again, one could be accused of sour grapes. If you were the richest man in the universe, wouldn’t you want to celebrate your birthday every day?
On this day on Lokona, Hermon celebrated his birthday in Lokonian years, which wasn’t the same as Martian years and not at all the same as Earth years, but had he lived on Lokona, which he did not, it would have been his birthday, and that alone was worth coming here for a celebration.

The Invisible Fleas of the Galaxy

Originally published in MBrane SF

Jono Rasmussen became twice-dead on the night before the launch of the Giant Telescope. He had been working in the downtown office of Comtel Imaging and Telescopy when a mailbot ambled out of the lift to deliver a box of chocolate. Jono was very partial to chocolate. As soon as he picked it up, the box exploded in his face, and took out half the office as well.
The builder-bots fixed the office, while a medbot collected all the pieces of Jono, took them to the medbay where it put him back together again. That done, Jono applied for his second yellow stripe. Not just twice-dead, twice-murdered. Insignificant people died; important people were murdered. He’d be wearing the badge tomorrow, thanks insignificant Cygians; they hadn’t even made him late for his meeting with the president.


stories purpose-written for themed anthologies

I have a story in the newly-released Dead Red Heart anthology. Most of you will know that I wouldn’t touch a vampire over-my-dead-body, and am not particularly fond of the trope in fiction either. OK, I’ve read the Twilight series. Yes, all of it *gasp*. I have to admit that was an aberration.

Anyway, Quarantine is a story I purpose-wrote when Russ invited me to contribute to this anthology. I set myself a challenge to see if I could write something about vampires. I was surprised at myself, and pleased, that I succeeded to write a story I was happy with, although I took a SF-nal approach to the theme.

But what if the story wouldn’t have been accepted? What would I have done with it?

I’m sure that, if they didn’t already know it, most semipro magazines will have found out recently that someone in the world must have been putting together a vampire anthology. I’ve seen a number of stories in the slush.

Is this the right thing? Do you submit those rejected stories everywhere?

I wouldn’t. Because many magazines will be aware of the anthology, they’re sensitive to the subject. Sensitive in the sense that they’re probably more likely to reject the story as soon as they figure out that it is a reject from someone else’s anthology.

Therefore, I would let the story rest for a while. That is, if I didn’t decide to change it. Because purpose-written stories are just that: purpose-written. Also, if the story is a reject, it gives you the opportunity to see if you can improve it, and possibly make it less-themed.

Out of Here – short story collection

The latest release! A collection of eighteen stories that have been published over the past few years. The cover was done for me by the fabulous Andrew McKiernan.

This collection contains some stories that are very dear to me. Some random facts:

The shortest story is an extremely cute 500-word flash that won a place in the ZineWest competition, the longest a 7500 dark fantasy about a deeply-buried family secret, and dark magic.
There are two stories that are based on fairytales, but I’ve twisted them around and set them in a modern setting, one in a bank, the other in the harshness of the Australian outback (hence the Thorny Devil on the cover).
There are stories about dragons, about weird aliens, and possessed bunny rabbits.

Check it out! Click on the image for the Smashwords link. Amazon to follow later this week.

Table of Contents:

Highway – Infinitas Newsletter
Bigger Fish – Fantastic Wonder Stories Anthology
Black Dragon – The Edge of Propinquity
Mass Extinction – Antipodean SF
Legal Aliens – Semaphore
Little Boy Lost – Midnight Echo
The Ten Days of Madness – Antipodean SF
From the Parrot’s Mouth – Beyond Centauri
Metal Dragon – Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine
Never on a Birthday – Byzarium
Out of Here – M-Brane SF
Raven’s Call – Realms
Taking back the Words – Ticonderoga Online
The Only One He Ever Feared – Fly in Amber
The Weed Eaters – The Fat Man At The End of the World Anthology
Straight through the Heart – ZineWest
To Look at the Sky – Semaphore SF
The Invisible Fleas of the Galaxy – M-Brane SF

Some writerly news and updates

A lot of people have been checking back for information on the ASIM slush workshop. It will definitely go ahead. I’m working out details, which will be announced when issue 50 has gone to print. We’re currently working hard to make that happen. Also, people have asked me if they have to be a subscriber to submit. No, you don’t, but there will be special offers, so why shouldn’t you subscribe or pick up a PDF issue?

I am in the process of preparing a collection of published stories for release as ebook. Some of the stories may be familiar to you. Others have been published in overseas pirnt venues or online magazines that have since folded. Here is the table of contents:

Highway (Infinitas Newsletter)
Bigger Fish (Fantastic Wonder Stories)
Black Dragon (The Edge of Propinquity)
Mass Extinction (Antipodean SF)
Legal Aliens (Semaphore SF)
Little Boy Lost (Midnight Echo)
The Ten Days of Madness (Antipodean SF)
From the Parrot’s Mouth (Beyond Centauri)
Metal Dragon (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine)
Never on a Birthday (Byzarium)
Out of Here (MBrane SF)
Raven’s Call (Realms)
Taking Back the Words (Ticon4)
The Only One He Ever Feared (Fly In Amber)
The Weed Eaters (The Fat Man at the End of the World)
Straight through the Heart (ZineWest)
To Look at the Sky (Semaphore SF)
The Invisible Fleas of the Galaxy (MBrane SF)

Last but not least, I will have a story in the Tales for Canterbury anthology to raise money for the earthquake victims of Christchurch, New Zealand. List of contributors here.

Dead Red Heart: Australian vampire tales

ETA: 15 April 2011 – this book is now available!

What business does a hard SF writer have to write a vampire tale? Good question, but Ticonderoga Publications editor Russell Farr liked my story Quarantine enough to include it in the press’ monster (both in size and subject) anthology Dead Red Heart. ToC and the amazing cover below:

The stories

“The Tide”, Martin Livings and friends
“Mutiny on the Scarborough”, Shona Husk
“Sun Falls”, Angela Slatter
“Such is Life”, Jeremy Sadler
“Apologetoi”, Chris Lawson
“Punishment of the Sun”, Alan Baxter
“Red Delicious”, Felicity Dowker
“Just a Matter of Economics”, Yvonne Eve Walus
“Quarantine”, Patty Jansen
“Out of the Grave”, Amanda Pillar
“Desert Blood”, Marty Young
“Thin Air”, Simon Brown
“Kissed by the Sun”, Jodi Cleghorn
“Black Heart”, Joanna Fay
“Renfield’s Wife”, Damon Cavalchini
“Listening to Tracy”, Jen White
“Breaking the Drought”, Jay Caselberg
“Children of the Cane”, Jason Nahrung
“The Sea at Night”, Joanne Anderton
“Sky in the Morning”, Sonia Marcon
“Taking it for the Team”, Tracie McBride
“All that Glisters”, Pete Kempshall
“The Rider”, Martin Livings
“Vitality”, George Ivanoff
“Coming Home”, Kathryn Hore
“The Little Red Man”, Ray Gates
“Deathborn Light”, Helen Stubbs
“The Life Stealer”, Donna Maree Hanson
“Behind the Black Mask”, Jacob Edwards
“Interview with the Jiangshi”, Anne Mok
“White and Red in the Black”, Lisa L Hannett
“Lady Yang’s Lament”, Penelope Love

Order your copy here

Upcoming release: the Belong anthology

Belong cover

I haven’t used this blog for promotional purposes, but I want to give some attention to this awesome anthology edited by the awesome Russell Farr, from Western Australia, where he runs Ticonderoga Publications, a small press that does awesome things. Check out their books

The Belong anthology contains stories about immigration and the people (or aliens) it affects, an idea inspired by the many varied immigrant populations in Australia. It features 113,000 words of original fiction from around the world: Australia, Canada, Argentina, United Kingdom, U.S.A. and Belgium. It will be coming out in April for Swancon, and is available for pre-order from the publisher.

The TOC is as follows (and yes, I declare self-interest, because I have a story in this volume):

“Border Crossing”, Penelope Love
“Mrs Estahazi”, Barbara Robson
“Norumbega”, Linda L. Donahue
“Ice”, Zdravka Evtimova
“United”. Jennifer Moore
“Rekindle the Sun”, Mary E. Lowd
“The Gift”, Barry Rosenberg
“Prisoner of the Faceless”, Kurt Bachard
“Merpeople”, Gwen Veazey
“Feather-light”, George Ivanoff
“Speaking English”, Stephanie Burgis
“Green, Green Grass of Homeworld”, Donna Maree Hanson
“I Belong to this Red Land”, Edwina Harvey
“All Tales Must End”, Michelle Muenzler
“Namug”, Gustavo Bondoni
“Song of the Blackbird”, Sarah Totton
“A Friendly Gesture”, Chet Gottfried
“Initiation”, Sonia Helbig
“Slow Cookin’”, Angela Rega
“The Ballad of P’toresk”, Simon Petrie
“The Hollow Ones”, Kylie Seluka
“Trassi Udang”, Patty Jansen
“Deeper than Flesh and Closer”, Carol Ryles