Merry Christmas – free ebooks for everyone!

Happy Cthulhu Christmas!

Happy Cthulhu Christmas!

Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas!

To celebrate this year, most of my ebooks are FREE for Christmas on Amazon.

If you’ve scored yourself a Kindle for Christmas, fill your stocking with my major works, including The Abandonment of Grace and Everything After, The Apocrypha Sequence Master Collection, Shards, and the bestselling anthology Rage Against the Night!

Grab ’em now – the promo ends in a few days!

Creative non-fiction: Ghosts of Australia’s Past

Monte Cristo homestead, Junee. Credit: Wiki Commons

Monte Cristo homestead, Junee. Credit: Wiki Commons

I’ve just concluded the first year of my Master’s of Creative Writing course, and I’m having a great time. I’ll post more about that soon, but one of the things that’s come out of the course is new work!

One of my units was Creative Non-Fiction, which has opened a world of new possibilities. I’ve written a couple of creative non-fiction essays so far, and I reckon I’ll return to the form in the future. I like the personal nature of the genre, which means the stories can be emotionally powerful.

I’ve published my first creative non-fiction essay today on this site. It’s an exploration of Australian haunted houses, tied to a recent trip to “Australia’s most haunted house” – Monte Cristo in Junee, NSW.

Pop on over there and enjoy the read.

Time to get Schwifty

I don’t tend to talk politics, so my views on the US presidential election would probably surprise people. Trump was elected on a wave of anger, and I share a lot of that anger. I think I’ll expand on my thoughts in a serious, detailed essay soon, but in the meantime, I feel it’s important to take a step back from the political divide and get Schwifty!

Enjoy this Rick and Morty Schwifty remix…

Dead of Night

Dead of Night

Dead of Night

It’s been a busy year, so I’ve been quiet online since my flurry of posts about The Abandonment of Grace and Everything After. I’m deep into my Master of Creative Writing at Macquarie University (with a view to an eventual PhD) and novel writing, but I’ve snuck in a couple of short stories in between.

The big news is that I’ve been working with the Australian Horror Writers Association selecting the stories for Dead of Night: The Best of Midnight Echo.

The anthology has been a labour of love, and it is expected to be released before the end of the year (I have a few more manuscript changes to make before that happens). The cover, if you were wondering, is by Australian artist (and writer) and AHWA stalwart Greg Chapman, and it suitably captures the vibe!

I’ll post an update when Dead of Night is available. Trust me, it’ll be worth the read!

An Australian Shadows Award and Everything After

I’m stoked to discover my collection, The Abandonment of Grace and Everything After, is a finalist for the Australian Shadows Award (Australia’s top honour for horror fiction). The full list of finalists is on the AHWA site. Congratulations to all!

The book has been going great guns: it was recently a finalist for Australia’s major SF awards, the Aurealis Awards, and made the longlist/preliminary ballot for the world’s major horror prize, the Bram Stoker Awards.

I think that effort deserves another rendition of the One-Punch Man theme! Hero! Killshot!

Speaking of Australian Shadows, pictured below (the haughty demonic statue, towering over my other trophies) is my recently-received Australian Shadows Award from last year. Thanks AHWA for such an awesome trophy! I hope to win more in the years to come and give the big some company. 😉Shane's awards

So close

The Abandonment of Grace ebookThe finalists for the Bram Stoker Awards were announced the other day, and my collection, The Abandonment of Grace and Everything After, missed the cut. I’m disappointed, of course, but I’m proud to have been listed on the preliminary ballot (and for my book to have been included on that ballot by the jury).

However, I’ve been blessed with successes, too, and it can be all too easy to forget that fact when disappointed by an individual result. So I won’t! Instead, I’m thankful to the people who have read and enjoyed my book – now I just have to convince more people to read and review it! 🙂

Congratulations to all the Stoker finalists! May your work inspire dread in others!

Revenge of the Ninja!

I like to write action-oriented Japanese fantasy, so I watch (in the name of research) lots of videos of battles, duels, and various shenanigans.

In doing so, I came across this super-awesome clip from a movie I thought was one of the best movies I’d ever seen back in the 1980s. It doesn’t age well, but that doesn’t matter! This is the ninjutsu I was taught in the 90s. 😉

Make no mistake. Sho Kosugi is everything! *smoke bomb* *disappears*

The music of the Night Land

Nightland Quarterly 4

Nightland Quarterly 4

I said a while back that my story “The Song of Prague” was being published in Japanese in Night Land Quarterly 4. Well, it appears the issue was published this month, and I’m sharing a table of contents with some legendary authors such as H. P. Lovecraft (a reprint of one of my favourites, “The Music of Erich Zann” – and one of the inspirations for “The Song of Prague”), William Hope Hodgson, and Joe R. Lansdale.

I reckon if I could read Japanese, I’d find this to be a bleak issue! 🙂

For any Japanese readers out there, you can purchase Night Land Quarterly 4 from here.

Given that there is an auditory theme running through the issue, if you want to listen to my story, “The Song of Prague”, in English, you can tune into the PseudoPod podcast (or you can read it as part of my Aurealis Award-nominated collection, The Abandonment of Grace and Everything After)

And for a real treat, here’s a short film I discovered based on Lovecraft’s “The Music of Erich Zann”. Enjoy!

Random pop culture moment: Flautist

flautistAs a writer, you can enter the pop culture zeitgeist in any number of ways. Recently, it’s been through awards (see previous post), but sometimes, it’s random things (like my story “Ian” being listed in the Wikipedia entry for Ian). Today’s random thing is crashing the Merriam Webster online dictionary entry for “Flautist”.

Someone took notice of the number of times I used the word “flautist” in my Ravenous Gods novella, Requiem for the Burning God (click image to enlarge). Cool! For the record, it’s eight.

Speaking of Requiem for the Burning God, I don’t normally mention every Amazon review, but Mike Lewis on Amazon warmed my heart with a great little summary of Requiem and the Ravenous Gods/Captain Max Calder stories:

Good stuff, original storyline. I hope Cummings writes more stories for his Captain Max Calder hero, I think there’s only 3 or 4 now. A possibly-immortal WWI fighter-pilot/occasional time traveler, Calder fights the dark Lovecraftian enemies of Earth with Victorian bravado and his trusty Webley .455 revolver at his side.

Yeah, that bloke gets it! 🙂

An Aurealis Award finalist and Everything After

The Abandonment of Grace ebookExciting news of the day: The Abandonment of Grace and Everything After is a finalist for the Aurealis Award (Best Collection). It’s heartening to receive recognition like this for a book that is my most heartfelt – especially on top of being on the Preliminary Ballot for the Bram Stoker Awards.

Of the other finalists, I’m intrigued to read Carole Nomarhas’s collection.

Anyway, congratulations to all the finalists and commiserations to the deserving works that missed out (especially Rob Hood’s master ghost collection – it was my tip for a shoe-in).

The full list of finalists is here:

Looking over the finalists, I wonder what happened to the horror novel category? With novels in 2015 by Gary Kemble, Jeremy Bates, Greg Beick, Trent Jamieson, Jason Nahrung, and others, surely more than one deserved to be shortlisted?

Actually, no, it’s none of my business …

Instead, for no real reason except I’m in that kind of mood, I’m gonna play a video of the baddest man in Anime, Kenshiro, returning from the dead and straight up murdering some dudes because they’re being dicks. #kenfcknshiro!

The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror Kickstarter

Liz and Russell over at Ticonderoga Publications need your help.

They are running a Kickstarter campaign to keep the epic Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror anthology series going. Ticonderoga Publications is synonymous with quality, so it’s an endeavour worth your time. Here’s the link:

Having been involved in Brimstone’s Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror series, I know the challenges of putting together a ‘year’s best’ anthology. It’s the most difficult gig in the business, combining awards judge with anthologist – the editors have to read everything in the field.

I also know the rewards, and there are plenty of awesome ones in this Kickstarter! Personally, if I had the cash, I’d go for the Instant Library reward. Check out the link above and enjoy some Ticonderoga goodness!

Behind the Black Door

The next story I discuss in my series about The Abandonment of Grace and Everything After is “The Black Door”.

The say fear of the unknown is the most powerful and primal fear, and that’s what I wanted to explore with this story. It’s part mystery, part crime thriller, part supernatural confrontation … I view this story as a literary Rorschach test. What better metaphor for fear of the unknown could there be than a mysterious black door? A little heavy-handed, I admit, but it is an early story.

I say “story”, but it’s more of a well-realised fragment.

Apocrypha Insanity3There’s a reason this story was first published in Apocrypha Sequence: Insanity. Well, a couple, actually. The most obvious is that the black door can be seen as a metaphor for madness. Less obvious is that I wanted to link this story to other stories I’ve had published. Notably, “Song of the Infernal Machine”, which was published in my first collection Shards and reprinted in Insanity. Ever wonder what those muffled noises were coming from inside the infernal machine? If I ever expand “The Black Door” into a novella, I would explain the connection.

Speaking of insanity, I have a personal soundtrack to insanity. Like a lot of writers, I listen to music while I write. However, it’s a sporadic process for me. Sometimes I can’t concentrate with music in the background; sometimes, it gets me into the writerly zone. A lot of this depends on the song, of course. The soundtrack to my insanity stories, “The Black Door” and “Song of the Infernal Machine”, comes from one of my favourite bands, Filter. Specifically, a weird, wordless song entitled “The 4th” from the band’s album, The Amalgamut [2002] (see video above). “The 4th” is an eight minute tune with heavy bass and the subliminal message “oh what a hell of a price, what a hell of a price” [to pay] playing backwards. It’s funny how “hell” sounds the same backwards or forwards. The song is terrific mood music.

To digress, that entire album is an underrated gem, and it includes a couple of my all-time favourites: “God Damn Me” and “Where Do We Go From Here?”, as well as “The 4th”. While I’m not entirely certain of this, I believe that another track on the album, “The Missing” influenced me to write “Wrack”, a short story published in Shards and Apocrypha Sequence: Deviance. “Wrack” is a nasty, mean-spirited piece of fiction, and it’s one of my personal favourites. Thanks, Richard Patrick and Filter.

The Abandonment of Grace ebook

You can read “The Black Door” in The Abandonment of Grace and Everything After, available in hardback, trade paperback, or ebook from Amazon.