New Flash Fiction wins Spooky Story Contest!

spookystories-300x300For Halloween this year, SpecFicNZ, New Zealand’s national organisation for writers of speculative fiction, ran a flash fiction contest, looking for spooky stories of up to 500 words. The competition was judged blind by Bound author, Alan Baxter.

I entered a couple of pieces, and one of them, Bridge, took first-equal place with a story by Jo Tomlinson. I was pretty stoked about that.

You can read the story, along with the other winners, at the SpecFicNZ website.

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Guest Post – Matthew Sanborn Smith

Cover art copyright © 2014 Galen Dara

Cover art copyright © 2014 Galen Dara

Cerberus co-writer and fellow creator of the weird, the macabre, and the fantastic, Matthew Sanborn Smith, has some big news about a short story collection he wants to let you know about, and as an added bonus, he’s letting me share one of those stories here today. You can find the collection at Amazon, right now. Take it away, Matt!

Thanks, Dan, for letting me hang out here today. The Dritty Doesen is my first collection, and it’s packed high with my least reasonable stories, as you’re about to discover with this sample story. The collection contains this and eleven more stories with behind the scenes looks at how each of them came into being. I’m even throwing in a stunning cover by the talented Galen Dara! Enjoy!



When Martin’s head began to split he suspected a problem. In his blastroom he first noticed the sudden middle part in his hair and wondered if his mirror software had gone buggy. Then he felt a little furrow going down the center of his scalp. He couldn’t recall anything special earlier, like a sudden axe to the head. Then again, it was the nature of such a trauma that he might forget it.

“Hugh?” he asked, for that was what he called his house, “Did I get hit in the head with an axe or something today?”

“Not that I know of,” Hugh said. “Although you were out for a couple of hours. I don’t trust my remotes with my money.”

“Hmm,” Martin said. “Hmm. Hmm. Hmm.” He’d been for lunch with his fresh new sister/self, Martina. But a lunchtime axe to the head would have been fully healed by now.

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Book Launch: The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales

91TvtSRgs4L._SL1500_Very shortly, I’ll have my first ever children’s short story coming out, in the anthology The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales. The story is titled Jack in the Box, and tells a tale of a naughty elf who really, really wants a hot dog on Christmas Eve.

As well as being available in all the usual online places, there will be a book launch on Thursday, November 13th, at the Children’s Book Store in Kilbirnie, Wellington at 6pm. We’d love it if you could come along and join us.

10% of all proceeds from book sales will be donated to Muscular Dystrophy New Zealand. So please consider supporting the book, and get some excellent stories to share with your kids this Christmas, from authors like Joy Cowley, Peter Friend and Dave Freer.

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SJV Time Again

SJVs and booksIt’s that time again: Nominations are now open for the SFFANZ Sir Julius Vogel Awards. I have a couple of stories that are eligible for the ballot, which I’ll share below, and there have also been a few works which have really stood out for me this year which I think you ought to consider. Anyone can nominate for the SJVs, and it’s free, so if there’s a work out there by a Kiwi writer or artist or fan, please do consider participating in our national SFF awards, and show your appreciation.

The categories are:

Professional Categories:
Best Novel
Best Youth Novel
Best Novella or Novelette
Best Short Story
Best Collected Work
Best Artwork
Dramatic Presentation
Best Production/Publication
Best New Talent

Fan Categories:
Best Fan Writing
Best Fan Artwork
Best Fan Production/Publication

Special Awards:
Services to Fandom
Services to Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror

For my part, I have four short stories which are eligible this year. They are:

Children of the Tide (Horror)

Keeping an Open Mind (Horror)

Jack in the Box (Childrens)

Dada (Dieselpunk) – Collaboration with Grant Stone and Matthew Sanborn Smith

And there are a few more works and people I would like to recommend you check out, as they are worth the recognition.

Novel: Engines of Empathy, by Paul Mannering (Paper Road Press, 2014)

Novel: Dawn’s Early Light, by Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris (Ace Books, 2014)

Novella: Trading Rosemary, by Octavia Cade (Masque Books, 2014)

Short Story: Inside Ferndale, by Lee Murray (SQ Mag, 2014)

Short Story: Always Falling Up, by Grant Stone (Use Only as Directed, Peggy Bright Books, 2014)

Production: Baby Teeth – Bite-sized Tales of Terror Audiobook (Eds Dan Rabarts & Lee Murray, Produced by Chris Barnes)

New Talent: AJ Fitzwater

NOTE: This is my blog, so these opinions are my own entirely, and have nothing whatsoever to do with any fan or writing group that I might be associated with. I reserve the right to update this list with impunity as I think of other works I like. If you think I’ve missed something amazing, please leave a comment so I know to check it out.

Go forth! Read! Nominate! Get involved!


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Story News!

ASIM60_frontcover-722x1024Cerberus Roars!

Care for a bit of dieselpunk, or maybe some surreaselpunk? Dada, the first story written together with my writing band Cerberus has just been released, in Issue #60 of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. (Once Issue #61 goes live, that link will need to be updated. I’ll try to remember. If I haven’t just click on Back Issues and scroll to the bottom).

Cerberus is a writing band comprising the weird and wonderful talents of the Discorobot himself, Grant Stone, and the one and only Hairy Mango, Matthew Sanborn Smith. This is our first published piece and we very much hope it won’t be the last. Giant robots! Homicidal machines! Strange loves that we may never understand! What more could you want in a story?

ASIM 60 is available in print, PDF, epub, and mobi.

Ministry ProtocolThe River Speaks!

Have you been hanging out for the audio version of Ministry Protocol – Thrilling Tales of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences? Well, here it is!

Included in this collection is the audio of my story, Where the River Shines. There’s a sample below for your teasery pleasure. Yay! Kiwi Steampunk!



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Baby Teeth takes a chunk out of Tales to Terrify

baby-teeth-audio-coverIf you’ve been keen for a taste of the Baby Teeth audiobook, now is your chance. The most excellent Stephen Kilpatrick, who is now running the show over at the Tales to Terrify podcast, has recently released a special episode featuring an introduction by yours truly and six – yes, SIX – stories from the book, as produced by Dynamic Ram Audio.

These stories are:

Caterpillars, by Debbie Cowens (Australian Shadows Award winner, Best Short Story, 2014), narrated by the author;

White, by Grant Stone, narrated by Dan Rabarts;

Winter Feast, by Elizabeth Gatens, narrated by Tanja Milojevic;

The Birthday Present, by Sally McLennan, narrated by Jenni Sands;

Peter and the Wolf, by Lee Murray, narrated by Chris Barnes;

The Dead Way, by JC Hart (Australian Shadows Award finalist, Best Short Story, 2014), narrated by Amanda Fitzwater.

So for almost an hour of flash horror fiction in your ears, please head over to Tales to Terrify and have a listen.

If you like what you hear, the audiobook can be purchased from Proceeds go to Duffy Books in Homes, to support the work they do getting kids reading books and loving words.

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RIP Larry Santoro

Larry-at-the-mike-500x480It was with a great deal of sadness that I heard, a couple of weeks ago, of the passing of Tales to Terrify host Larry Santoro. Larry was a cut-and-dried vocal talent behind the mic, and a gentleman and a scholar to boot. I never met Larry, but we had many dealings via email with regards to the podcast, and I always felt honoured to be a part of his circle of colleagues.

Larry was kind enough to promote Baby Teeth while we were running our crowdfunding campaign, giving us a serious boost which was massively appreciated.

He will be truly missed, both by his family and friends, and by the many fans of his writing and his podcasting talents.

On a related note, I’ve got another narration live on the podcast, in show #132. Set in South Africa, The Immaculate Particle, by Charlie Human, was a challenge to record, but I gave it a damned good shot, I think. Fantastic story, too. Brutal and chilling.

TTTcover.2014JulyGo download the show and have a listen. Be sure to leave a comment, or even go along to iTunes, and leave a rating or review of the podcast. Maybe even drop a penny in the donations jar on the way past.


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The Great ‘Writing Process’ Blog Hop

Honorary Kiwi M. Darusha Wehm (she’s actually Canadian, but so am I, so we’re all cool here. All cool. Eh.) tagged me into this little Writing Process Blog Hop, a couple of weeks ago now, and as I’m working through my insane list of Things That Must Be Done, it has jumped to the top. Cos it can hop, see. See?


Darusha is a Canadian writer, global sailor, and her SF novel Children of Arkadia is soon to be published by Bundoran Press. She currently lives on her boat in Wellington Harbour, and is great fun to sit down and have a beer with. You should try it sometime.

So the way this blog hop works is that tagged authors answer four questions about their writing process, and then tag one or more authors themselves. So here we go.

1) What are you working on?

At the moment I have a couple of short stories written which I’m editing with a view to submitting when they’re ready, one being dieselpunk and the other being dark fantasy. I’m also in the midst of an editing pass over a cyberpunk novella before I hand it over to my collaborative writing band, Cerberus, to rework and bring to a whole new level of wierdness and awesome (we don’t have a website yet, but you can visit our Tumblr, if you like). I’m also deeply invested in a collaborative horror/crime novel with Baby Teeth co-editor Lee Murray, and I’d love to tell you more about that, but then I’d have to, I dunno, kill you or something. And that sounds like work that I just don’t have time for, so don’t make me, awright? As well as all that, I have two other novels in progress – a dark fantasy/comic work, and a gothic horror apocalyptopunk story. Beats having nothing to write, right?

2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I try to bring a very local voice to my writing. Over the past two years, I’ve had three Kiwi Steampunk stories published, with a fourth recently accepted. All of these stories have appeared in international publications, and I like to think that I have an opportunity here, as a Kiwi writer, to bring more of New Zealand to a wider audience, where our country is so often underrepresented.

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Continuum X Wrap-up

007So much awesome, so few words.

Attending Continuum X as the FFANZ delegate has to be one of the most amazing things I’ve done as a writer to date. I met so many great people, many of them folk I have known online for quite a while, but also many whom I met for the first time once I arrived in Melbourne.

I had absolutely NO time for sightseeing. Every day was chock-full of stuff happening, from panels and talks I wanted to sit in on, to those I was a panelist on, to talking and drinking coffee and chattting and just being caught up in the moment, and everything that was going on. I met many of my Australian writer idols friends, and tried my best to maintain both my dignity as a writer and indulge my squee factor as a fanboy.

Melbourne was a most accommodating place to stay, and I must thank most profusely, over and over again, my friends Rachael and Eric who let me stumble into their house in the dark every night and collapse into their spare bed, only to be gone again straight after breakfast, and who then even drove me to the airport on the day I left. Thanks, guys. Much appreciated.

The highlight of the convention, for me at least, had to be Ambelin Kwaymullina’s Guest of Honour speech, which brought into very sharp focus the role of writers, particularly speculative fiction writers, to take up the responsibility of tackling diversity and respecting the voices of the under-represented in genre fiction. I have been hoping to see her speech crop up online, it was that good, but I haven’t seen it yet. However, she did post an article over at the Wheeler Centre last week, which is along similar lines and worth a read.


(L-R) Jo Anderton, Amanda Pillar, me, and Alan Baxter

Other particularly high points were getting a selfie with Alan Baxter, Joanne Anderton and Amanda Pillar, sitting in on a Kafeeklatsch with Jim C. Hines and a bunch of most excellent Aussie fans, sharing dinner and a beer with IFWG publisher Gerry Huntman and Cohesion Press’s Geoff Brown, and then the following night doing the same with Tehani Wessely, Tansy Rayner-Roberts, Elanor Matton-Johnson and others, and then attending the Ditmar Awards and presenting the award for Best Fan Writing to Sean Wright. But really, it was all good. Better than good. It was great.

So I must pass on a huge thanks both to the FFANZ people who made my trip happen, and also to the ConX committee, who were so welcoming and made my stay such a good time.

I will be producing a trip report as part of the fundraising efforts for upcoming FFANZ delegates, so keep an eye out for that. Also, as I’m now administering the New Zealand half of the FFANZ fund, I’ll be involved in organising the next two exchanges. In 2015, an Australian will be coming to New Zealand for our Natcon, which will be Reconnaissance in Rotorua over Easter Weekend, and then a New Zealander travelling to the Australian Natcon in 2016, wherever that might be. For more information about that, please head over to Facebook and drop a Like on the FFANZ page. If you’re interested in being considered for either of those trips, then send us a message there.

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Australian Shadows Awards

Shadows TrophyLast week, hot on the heels of my return from Continuum X in Melbourne, the winners of the Australian Shadows Awards were announced.

I hadn’t even had time to blog about Baby Teeth making the shortlist for Best Edited Work, or about how Debbie Cowens’s contribution to the anthology, Caterpillars, and JC Hart’s The Dead Way had both made it into the Best Short Story category, busy as I was.

The Australian Shadows Awards are run by the Australian Horror Writers Association (AHWA) and are open to all residents of Australia, New Zealand and Oceania, so it’s a big pool with a lot of very talented creators in the mix. Just to make the shortlist, not once but three times, was an exciting milestone for Baby Teeth, but given the quality of the competition, I was already in the “I’m happy our book and these stories just made the shortlist” mindset. Because seriously, it was tough competition.

Baby Teeth was up against Midnight Echo Issue 9, edited by former AHWA president and now publisher at Cohesion Press, Geoff Brown; StarQuake 1, the Best Of offering from Gerry Huntman’s SQ Mag and edited by Sophie Yorkston; and A Killer Among Demons, edited by Craig Bezant and featuring some of the real heavyweights of Australian dark fiction. So as you can see, I thought that a nod towards our humble little book was really nice.

I was not, by any stretch, expecting to win.

So when Lee Murray text me somewhere past 11pm on Thursday night to say, basically, OMG We WON!!! I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or not.

And then to see that Debbie had won Best Short Story, up against JC, John Paul Fitch, CS McMullen and Joanne Anderton, I was equally stunned. And kinda euphoric. Because, winning is good.

I fumbled out some half-sleeping half-dreaming acceptance speech on the Facebook forum, Lee followed this up with a far more coherent one, and the buzz continued for most of the next day on the social media forums.

Congratulations to all the finalists. The quality of the competition is a testament to the excellent state of the horror and dark fiction market in this part of the world right now, and long may it last.To have won these two categories says something more about the state of dark fiction and small press in New Zealand, and that’s something that we can all be proud of.

Congratulations to the winners in all categories:

Best Novel: 809 Jacob St, by Marty Young

Paul Haines Award for Long Fiction: The Unwanted Women of Surrey, by Kaaron Warren

Best Collected Work: The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories, by Joanne Anderton

Best Short Story: Caterpillars, by Debbie Cowens, in Baby Teeth – Bite-sized Tales of Terror

Best Collected Work: Baby Teeth, Bite-sized Tales of Terror, edited by Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray

Also, huge thanks to the organisers and judges who run the awards. It’s a massive task, with stacks of reading (there were 116 pieces in the Short Story category alone), and they have carried out their role superbly. Round of applause, please.

baby-teeth-audio-coverI’d also like to thank everyone who has had a part in Baby Teeth: the many contributors who gave us such excellent stories; the proofing and editorial team, and everyone who gave us advice on things from contracts to cover design to promotion and marketing; our fantastic publisher, Marie Hodgkinson at Paper Road Press, who took a chance on this book; Lee Murray, for stepping in as my co-editor and making the whole thing infinitely more manageable and more professional that it might’ve been if I’d been juggling all the balls on my own; and most especially, thanks to my lovely wife Chrissy, who must be so sick of hearing about Baby Teeth by now, and is dreading the day I say, “So, I saw this thing on Facebook, and we thought we might do another little book…”

Baby Teeth is available in paperback and ebook formats from all major online outlets, and the audiobook will be available soon. Proceeds from sales of the book go to children’s literacy charity Duffy Books in Homes.

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