Gearing up for a busy writing (and music) year.

After a year of being almost in stasis, of stumbling and letting things slide, focus feels like it is returning.

I knew I would be more focused this year, but then Dean Wesley Smith offered a publishing challenge. I signed up. Nothing will motivate me more than having to report in monthly. I had already planned to release a piece of writing each month, but this ups the ante with each monthly item having to be a novella (20,000 words plus), a novel, a collection of stories (minimum five) or an omnibus of novels.

That’s a level up from where I was heading – I was aiming for four novels, and eight stories. Maybe putting out a story collection later in the year.

Now, I did  put out four novels last year.

But it was a bit haphazard. There were a couple of standalone stories in the mix too. This year I’ll be scheduling everything. Doing preorders (hoping I can figure out how to get the paperback to run as a preorder on Amazon, rather than just dropping the moment I complete the uploads).

I’m formally beginning the challenge from May (I have some travel and other commitments through to April), but I’m still sticking with the release per month schedule from January on to April anyway. Targeting the last day of the month. The first is available for preorder now – the short sci-fi thriller “Life Span” (short as in sixty odd pages). I’ll do a proper promo post on that soon.

Life Span

Life Span will be out on January 31, and the preorder will be pretty wide shortly. Here’s the blurb

Cody Albine watches as her elegant and well-organized presentation collapses. Right in front of her last chance at getting corporate funding for the project of a lifetime. Her absolute passion.

But hope lies with her friends. It might take compromise, but a little compromise between friends never goes astray.

A short biological sci fi thriller with a heart. From the author of Overrun and L-Own.

 

I’m also putting some focus back on getting music out.  Some few of you may know that I make electronic music as Venus Vulture.

Chelden River Suite 2

For the last few years I’ve still been making music, but letting it linger on the hard drive. Some I’ve been sharing with Kendall, my collaborator from December Nightskies. We release music as Shadows on the Snow.

Even that has slowed down a bit.

So, my challenge this year is to get some music fragments to Kendall each month to see if we can do some Shadows on the Snow releases.

I’m also taking on getting a new Venus Vulture album out every three months. It’s not like there’s a shortage of music (either in the world or on my hard drive), but the act of getting the music out there takes some focus for me.

Chelden River Suite, a four part album, is already up and available at Bandcamp, again as a preorder for full release on (you guessed it) January 31.

I’m also figuring out reactivating venusvulture.com. After all, I’m paying for that URL.

 

Add to that keeping this site active, posting weekly at prowriterswriting.com, staying fit and healthy, a little travel, a WorldCon to attend and everything else that keeps us going, I think it will be a pretty fine year.

The Stairs at Cronnewood now available for preorder

Stairs at Cronenwood (1)Book II of The Morgenfeld series is now available for preorder from the usual bookstores.

Release date is December 15th.

 

Enter a bizarre and twisted world. A building without end.

A missing man. A raid on the Map Archive. A descent into desperation.

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The vast city of Morgenfeld spreads across the land, an endless array of buildings jammed one against the next.Investigator Gail Deurgans takes on a new and challenging case. Way out of her usual territory. Mapmaker Cole Palmer and his staff work hard keeping track of the maze of the city. Another plunge into the depths of a place not even its denizens understand. The perfect journey for readers who love the fantastic worlds of Mervyn Peake and Michael Moorcock.

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mapmaker 2019 (1)Morgenfeld Book I, The Map Maker of Morgenfeld is available too. Both books are standalone, so you can still dive into The Stairs at Cronnenwood first.

 

 

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Black ChimneysIn other news, I’m nearing completion of writing The Chimneys at Atterton, Book III of the series. This one’s really twisted and doing my head in. The cover and title are just holding for now. Once it’s done and ready, we’ll see how it feels.

Because we were away traveling for an extended period, I’ve been writing it on my mini set up: a phone with a little bluetooth keyboard. The set up works well while traveling, but throws me now I’m back home. Do I transfer the work to my regular writing computer? What if I lose the thread from the mini set up? Oh no (wipes forehead), the trials of being a writer.

Still, I hope to have  Chimneys out sometime in the middle of next year.

 

 

Almost there with The Stairs at Cronnenwood

Stairs at Cronenwood (1)The second book in my Morgenfeld series should be out on December 15th, all going well. As I speak the book has been proofed and copy-edited and print-formatted. Just need to finish the wraparound cover design for that, and get the ebook formatting done.

Oh, and write a blurb.

Here’s how things go for me in terms of writing, from easiest to hardest: novel, novella, short story, blog post, “short bio to accompany your story” and blurb. Yup, easier to write a 60,000 word novel than to write a 100 word blurb. I’ve done some work on it, taken a course or two and so I know some of the techniques – focus on the character and the problem, give away nothing more than is in the first chapter, use active language, and so on and so on. All seems very straightforward when you put it like that. Ha, ha.

I have to write my blurbs on a different computer from my writing computer. The tone and technique and parts of the brain used are all so different. Getting away from the creative space seems to give me access to a different kind of creativity, namely pretending to be a sales person.

Sales is not my natural bent. So, I practice. Maybe I’ll get something that works this time. I’ll post the blurb here in a week or two, once I’ve got it down. Or maybe just whatever I have at that point.

I am fortunate that I’ve been able to organise a space and a clunky old computer dedicated just to writing. No net, no games, no anything except the writing software. Easier to separate out that creative side from the business side.

Also in the works, getting the updated cover for the first in the series –  The Map Maker of Morgenfeld. In the year or so since that came out I’ve learned some about cover design. Long way to go, but I like these new versions. Grandfailure’s images just so suit the work, the broken-down jumble of the city and the sense of space and light and time.

In other, related new, I’m just about finished with the writing of book three in the series. Right now the title is just  Black Chimneys, but I do have a while to consider that, and to look for something with more rhythm closer to the other two, as in  The (something) of/at (somewhere).

Also recently sold a couple of stories, one to  Asimov’s, one to  Analog. Excited about both, but this will be my first in  Analog, and it’s always neat to see my work in a new venue. I’ll post again when I have the publication dates for those.

Since I’m rambling on, I’ll mention that I’ll be at WorldCon in Wellington next year – the World Science Fiction Convention. I’m in the process of putting my name forward to maybe be on a panel or two. If you’re going and we haven’t met, grab me and say hi.

 

 

 

The Billows of Sarto, in The Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction & Fantasy

yearsbestanzsff_1_frontcoverI’m honoured to have my story “The Billow of Sarto” appear in the just-released Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction & Fantasy from Paper Road Press. My, I’m in some good company there; quite humbled really. This is my first story in a “Year’s Best” anywhere (though I’ve had a few nods in those “Honorable Mentions” or “Suggested Reading” pages at the back of other volumes, which has been nice).

Paper Road Press is doing great stuff with New Zealand science fiction. Marie Hodgkinson, the publisher, does awesome work and brings a lot of wonderful energy to her projects. This is the first New Zealand year’s best anthology.

asimovs march april 2018The stories have all appeared previously in venues such as Strange HorizonsClarkesworldLandfall and so on. “The Billows of Sarto” first appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, in the March/April 2018 issue.

Numerous people I know in person here – Octavia Cade, A.J. Fitzwater, Andi Buchanan, Mark English, M. Darusha Wehm. I was even on a panel at a con a few years ago with Marie, who was already doing great work with Paper Road Press.

And, if you happen to have published something during 2019, Paper Road Press is taking submissions for the 2020 volume. Details here: https://paperroadpress.co.nz/years-best/

Full contents:

“We Feed the Bears of Fire and Ice”, by Octavia Cade (originally published in Strange Horizons)

“A Most Elegant Solution”, by M. Darusha Wehm (originally published in Terraform)

“Girls Who Do Not Drown”, by Andi Buchanan (originally published in Apex Magazine)

“Logistics”, by A.J. Fitzwater (originally published in Clarkesworld)

“The Billows of Sarto”, by Sean Monaghan (originally published in Asimov’s Science Fiction)

“A Brighter Future”, by Grant Stone (originally published in Cthulhu: Land of the Long White Cloud (IFWG))

“The People Between the Silences”, by Dave Moore (originally published in Landfall)

“Common Denominator”, by Melanie Harding-Shaw (originally published in Wild Musette Journal)

“Te Ika”, by J.C. Hart (originally published in Cthulhu: Land of the Long White Cloud (IFWG))

“Trees”, by Toni Wi (originally published in Breach)

“The Garden”, by Isabelle McNeur (originally published in Wizards in Space)

“Mirror Mirror”, by Mark English (originally published in Abyss & Apex)

“The Glassblower’s Peace”, by James Rowland (originally published in Aurealis Magazine)

Cover art by Emma Weakley

(I couldn’t find links for some of the authors – let me know if they have pages and I’ll update here).

Thanks too, to editor Sheila Williams of Asimov’s who published the story in the first place.

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This is my first post here for a while. I’ve been away traveling (aka research for writing), in Papua New Guinea, South Korea and Taiwan. Eye-opening, let me tell you. What wonderful places. I did get a lot of writing done while I was away – on my little phone/mini-bluetooth keyboard set-up. I’ll post on that sometime soon.

I did manage to get ahead on posts for the Pro Writers Writing website, so managed to keep my responsibility there ticking over for while I was away, without having to worry.

The Sunday Star Times contest is on again. Egregious rules once more. I’m not bothering to post this year, but I’ve added a note to previous years’ posts – like this one – about that. Those posts continue to be my most popular around this time of year. I suspect just from people who want to enter and are looking for the rules and how big the prizes are, rather than those figuring out that the terms are less than fair. That’s okay.

New Release in December

Morgenfeld, a vast city-building, deep in a fantasy world not too far removed from our own, moves to the whims of a different set of rules.

Right now we’re targetting the release of the second volume in the Morgenfeld series for December 15th.

 

The Stairs at Cronnenwood brings new challenges for Cole and Dana as thieves pull off a daring raid on the Map Archive.

Following The Mapmaker of Morgenfeld this new book explores and deepens the swirling complex world that is Morgenfeld. A near-endless fantasy city-building with entire communities hidden away, secret sections and a ruling dynasty that stretches back thousands of years.

Preorder of the book will be up from November 15th. Soon before, we’ll have a free download of a Morgenfeld short story, “The Rocking Horse Mystery”.
Covers are by way of example only final art will be confirmed in November.
Book 1, The Mapmaker of Morgenfeld is available in print and as an ebook from the usual outlets. Cover art update coming soon.

I’m thinking I’ll start writing the third book while I’m traveling in September and October. I wrote the first when we traveled to Easter Island, the Atacama desert and the Galapagos a couple of years ago. Travel to different places definitely stimulates my imagination for the strangeness of Morgenfeld. I’m relatively well-traveled, but Papua New Guinea, Korea and Taiwan should be plenty strange for a someone who lives in a relatively western culture.

Gold-Embers-originalOh, while I’m writing here: Also out soon, on September 2nd, is Gold Embers, book three of The Chronicles of the Donner. Middle Grade SF: action and adventure with a heart. The final secrets of Ludelle reveal themselves in stunning ways. If the survivors of the Donner can figure them out.
If you want a taste of Ludelle and the characters, try out “Trapped”, a short story set there. Matti-Jay and Dub find themselves in a sudden fight for survival. Write to me and I’ll send you over an ebook version.

Sometime I’ll figure out how to integrate this Mailchimp thing into the website and create a proper mailing list.
Thanks for reading.

Gold Embers – Book 3 of the Chronicles of the Donner trilogy – release date set

Gold-Embers-original

Gold Embers, book three of The Chronicles of the Donner is due for release on September 2nd

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Marooned on planet Ludelle, Matti-Jay and the survivors of the Donner struggle every single day. Threats hang over them nonstop.

When a giant craft appears over the forest, it looks like it might hold the key to their escape.

Or maybe things just got a whole lot harder.And Matti-Jay finds herself making some of the hardest choices.

Ever.

 

There’s a nice Universal Book Link to select your favorite store. $5.99 ebook, $15.99 paperback.

cropped-chronicles-of-the-donner.jpg

 

Re-release of The Hidden Dome Trilogy

When I first embarked on this indie publishing venture, back in 2011, I had a lot to learn. After eight years, I still have a lot to learn. Oh boy.

Still, slowly getting a handle on things. I do spend more time learning to be a better writer than I do learning to be a better sales and marketing person. For me, writing is more fun. Yes, it would be nice to connect with more readers, but hey, I’m still around after all this time. Some of the others I knew back then seem to have slipped away (come back, we miss you!).

The Tunnel was about the third novel I published as an indie. I had fun with it, though of course I did still have a lot to learn as a writer (hmm, there’s a theme there). Still, I think it stands up as a sci-fi action, adventure story. It was followed by two more books in the series, The Deluge and The Eye.

The first cover was for The Tunnel, well, not so great. The second was, well maybe a little better (I’m not showing them here for fear of embarrassment). Now, I’m rebranding the whole series, with a look I kind of like, and a better consistency. New blurbs too (another whole thing I’m slowly learning about).

Not that I expect to suddenly find more readers with this. For me the point is to practice having better covers. I like the “Captain Arlon Stoddard” series covers, but do need to go back and work on the “Karnish River Navigations” covers.

Also, I’ll keep writing all the while (after all, that’s the most fun).

 

The Hidden Dome books are available from all the regular places. eBooks for $5.99, print (through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and so on) for $15.99

Amazon

Smashwords

And the universal book links for each of the books.

The Tunnel from Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, etc.

The Deluge fromBarnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, etc.

The Eye from Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, etc.