Five years of writing every day.

keys.jpgFor a moment, I thought I’d wait until I hit 2000 consecutive days of writing every day, but I still feel like five years (1826 days) is a good round figure.

So, last December 31st, 2016 I made it through five years of writing every day. I counted the words written each day as I went (heading for annual targets). Some days I wrote a little (156 words for my lowest count), some days a whole lot more (over 8000 on my best day), most days around 1500.

Each year my total wordcount has crept up. From just over a half million in 2012 to well over 600,000 last year.

What did I learn?

Well, I hope I learned to be a better storyteller. Raymond Chandler is supposed to have said that every writer has “a million words of crap” in them before they start writing readable fiction. My five years has produced over 2.5 million. With the years before, I suspect I’m up well over three million words. I’m not convinced that I’m not still writing crap.

Dean Wesley Smith would say that a writer is the worst judge of his or her own writing. I’d agree there. Some of my stories I think are duds sell, and some I think are wonderful circulate and circulate without finding a home.

(Chandler also said “A good story cannot be devised; it has to be distilled” – I like that one).

Along with learning about writing, I’m learning about the business of writing. How to manage my time more effectively and how to worry less often. I guess another thing I’m learning is patience. Whether that be waiting for the response from a publisher, or waiting for my readership to grow. Getting there.

Sir Julius Vogel Award nominations open.

smFront-v5The Sir Julius Vogel Awards are New Zealand’s science fiction awards. Presented annually at the convention in June.

The ceremony brings out the cream of the New Zealand science fiction scene – too many to list here, but I’d include Lee Murray and Octavia Cade, both of whom won awards in categories for which I was a finalist last year.

I am eligible once again, though this time just in the short story category.

I had the a few stories published during 2015 which are eligible and some of which are available as free reads.

Scour in New Myths (click to read for free)
Penny of Tharsis Montes in Amazing Stories (click to read for free)
The Bubbcat in Cirsova Issue 4
The Root Bridges of Haemae in Aurealis
Wakers in Asimov’s
Go For The Dome in Perihelion (click to read for free)
Ink for a Verbal Contract in Ad Astra (click to read for free)

I’d also like to do a shout out for a couple of others here – Lee Murray for her novel Into The Mist, and Octavia Cade for her novella Eating Science with Ghosts – Asimov’s October/November 2016. If I am fortunate enough to be nominated this year, at least it it won’t be up against these two, since they’re different categories (then again, they may have placed stories I haven’t spotted yet).

Previous winner AJ Fitwater also has some eligible stories, listed on her website there – a nice tale in Shimmer – “An Atlas in Sgraffito Style”.

Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray deserve an editors’ nomination for At The Edge, their Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror anthology. This also includes AC Buchanan’s story And Still the Forests Grow though we are Gone.

Nominations are open at the SFFANZ site, through until March 31st. Good luck to everyone.

My current story in Asimov’s – “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles” is not eligible, since it’s in the January issue. The story will be eligible for the 2018 awards.

End of year review – some successes and some… learning experiences.

2016 feels like my best year ever. Publishing went well. Work went well. I wrote more words than in any previous year. I also published more than any previous year.

Novels

My goal this year was to publish nine novels. I got eight. Failed at my goal, but, well you know… eight novels out there, so more successful than any other year so far.

 

Seven science fiction, one thriller (Taken by Surprise – but I hope that’s obvious from the cover). Three novels from my Karnish River Navigations Series. I feel like I learned a whole lot about the writing process and how to become prolific (I’m still not there). I feel like I’m making all my blunders in public. Busking away as I try to learn to be a better writer.

All of the books are available in print and ebook from most regular retailers. One thing for me to work on next year is maximizing the availability. My personal favourites are Athena Setting and Night Operations.

Submissions

I’ve been working to keep my stories circulating (unsurprisingly, my stories don’t always sell to the first editor. Sometimes they don’t even sell to the tenth). I’ve made almost 150 submissions through the year (145 as I type this – I hope to get an extra few by year’s end).

I had around six acceptances, and seven publications, plus one reprint:

  • Scour in New Myths (a Karnish River Navigations story, so ties in with some of the novels above).
  • Penny of Tharsis Montes in Amazing Stories (this was my Gernsback Amazing Stories contest co-winner).
  • The Bubbcat in Cirsova Issue 4
  • The Root Bridges of Haemae in Aurealis
  • Wakers in Asimov’s
  • Go For The Dome in Perihelion
    Kernel in Digital Science Fiction (reprint – originally published in Aurealis)
  • Ink for a Verbal Contract in Ad Astra (this was my Writers of the Future contest finalist from a few years back – nice to see it find a home).

Also, my story “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles” made the cover of the January/February 2017 issue of Asimov’s. It came out on December 20th, so I’m unsure whether to count it here or next year. Maybe both. 🙂

With that last story, I’ve had to make my final entry into the Writer’s of the Future contest. I’m now, for the purposes of the contest, considered a professional writer. Next year a change up too: except for a couple close to my heart, I’ll be targetting only pro-paying outlets. Seems obvious really.

Currently I have about thirty stories out on submission.

I had the good fortune to be a finalist for four awards. My novella “The Molenstraat Music Fesival” (Asmov’s September 2015) for the Aurealis Awards (won by Garth Nix), the Sir Julius Vogel Awards (Octavia Cade) and the Asimov’s Reader’s Awards (Michael Swanwick and Gregory Frost), and my short story “The Harpsichord Elf” (Capricious, Issue #1) for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards (Lee Murray).

Also music – I worked with Kendall on some new Shadows on the Snow material. I think I should do a separate post about that elsewhere.

Failing to success is a term I got from Dean Wesley Smith – my take on it is that while you might miss reaching your goals, you still achieve something in that striving. While I didn’t quite make all my goals, I feel like I shot high.

Next year

Still thinking about how to approach next year. I do think I’ll shoot for ten novels. I have a few at various stages of the editing process (as in four complete manuscripts, copyediting, formatting, etc. to do). I’ll be doing some traveling too, so that might impact my writing time. I have some strategies around that. Pretty sure I won’t make the 150 submissions. Travel, and focus on novels means I’ll have fewer stories to circulate. Some of these old ones have burned through their potential markets. Likely I’ll bundle them up into a collection or two and publish that myself.

All the best for your new year. Reach for your goals: it’s a whole lot of fun.

Crimson Birds of Small Miracles – story in January/February Asimov’s

asimovs-cover-jan-2016My story “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles” is out now in the January-February issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction. 2017 marks the 40th year of Asimov’s. I’m honored to be included, and extra-honored to have my story illustrated for the cover with wonderful art by Maurizio Manzieri.

C.J. Penn does everything he can for his ailing daughter, including traveling across worlds in search of relief from her symptoms. When they find the opportunity to witness the displays of Shilinka Switalla’s crimson birds, Penn leaps at the opportunity.

The issue should be out in bookstores now, and it’s also available as an ebook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and others.

Maurizio was kind enough to share with me (and grant permission for me to share here), the original image and his study work for the birds themselves. I’m thrilled with these. The images capture the story so well.

Scour – short story in New Myths

nm_37_cover_fiunalMy short story “Scour” appears in the December issue of New Myths.

Certain there’s something living in the canal, Ava Butler sets out to prove it. Even if her uncle disapproves. Even if it means going up against the authorities.

Scour” is a story set in my Karnish River Navigations universe. Different characters, different tone, but the same world. (Hence my getting the Karnish River Navigations page up to date). Scour is free to read at New Myths. I hope you enjoy it.

There are some wonderful other stories to read in the issue too. I kind of like “Downstream” by Erica Ruppert.

Karnish River Navigations series

After muddling my way through my website, I’ve managed to finally complete a page dedicated to my Karnish River Navigations science fiction adventure series.

The page is available here: Karnish River Navigations, or from the drop-down menu under Science Fiction at the top of the seanmonaghan.com website. I notice I still need to tinker with the page format a bit to get everything lining up. I’ll get there.

The first three books are out already, and I hope to have the fourth, Guest House Izarra, out soon (it’s written, proofed and copy-edited, just needs formatting and uploading, and I need to finalise the cover).

The story? Flis Kupe makes the mistake of burning out her embedded military arlchip. Discharged and returning home, she fights her way across the Karnth canal land to rescue her brother. Each book stands alone and the books can be read in any order. Arlchip Burnout is kind of the first, though Night Operations is probably my favorite.

The series is fun to write, and I hope it’s as much fun to read. I plan to write more in the series next year. There’s tech I want to explore, and Flis and Grae are fun characters to hang out with.

Arlchip Burnout cover art by © Kuan Leong Yong | Dreamstime.com
Night Operations cover art by © 1971yes | Dreamstime.com
Canal Days cover art by © Elisanth | Dreamstime.com (figure), © Patrik Ružič | Dreamstime.com (background)
Guest House Izarra cover art by © Antaltiberiualexandru | Dreamstime.com (background), © Algol | Dreamstime.com (figure)

Penny of Tharsis Montes – out now in Amazing Stories

amazing-stories-logo-r-375My winning story in the “Gernsback Amazing Stories” contest is now available to read for free at the Amazing Stories website. “Penny of Tharsis Montes” is nicely complemented by an illustration by Vicktor Antonov – sums uppennyoftharsis the core of the story nicely.

“A potentially deadly asteroid fall causes a Martian farmer to remember the days he spent on the red planet…and, perhaps, the days to come. A Gernsback Contest winning short story.”

My thanks to editors Steve Davidson and Ira Nayman for their faith in the story, and also their hard work getting the issue out.