Sir Julius Vogel Award finalist

smFront-v5I’m fortunate enough to have have my short story “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles” on the finalist ballot for New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Awards. I’m honored, and thrilled to be standing with such good company.

Best Short Story
“Earthcore: Initiation” – Grace Bridges, published on http://www.gracebridges.kiwi.
“Syren Song” – A.C Buchanan, published in Kaleidotrope.
“The Stone Weta” – Octavia Cade, published in Clarkesworld, issue 131.
“From the Womb of the Land, Our Bones Entwined” – A.J. Fitzwater, published in Pacific Monsters anthology (Fox Spirit Books).
“Crimson Birds of Small Miracles” – Sean Monaghan, published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Jan/Feb 2017.

Yeah. Look at those other stories, those other names. Sheesh.

Well, it’s nice to be a finalist at least.

Unfortunately other commitments this year mean that I won’t be attending the awards ceremony, but I will be back next year  (whether I’m on the ballot or not).

Good luck to all.

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Te Kōrero Ahi Kā – To Speak of the Home Fires Burning

KoreroAhiKa-FrontCoverI have a story the new New Zealand speculative fiction anthology Te Kōrero Ahi Kā –  To Speak of the Home Fires Burning. Edited by Grace Bridges, Lee Murray and Aaron Compton.

This is a wonderful collection, and I’m thrilled to be included. There are familiar names, and some new names, which is always good.

The publisher, SpecFicNZ, exists to promote and support speculative writers in New Zealand.

I haven’t read all the stories yet, but I do like Mark English’s story especially. Despite having been writing for, well, many years now, this is the first time I’ve been in an anthology with so many people I actually know and have met in person, and consider friends.

My own story, “Dance, Tiny Particles, Dance” had an interesting genesis, dating back a couple of years when I went to enter the Gernsback Amazing Stories contest. I wrote the story, then went back to the contest guidelines and realized that, happy as I was with the story, I’d strayed significantly. (I wrote another story, which actually co-won the contest – it’s available to read for free here: “Penny of Tharsis Montes” at the Amazing Stories site).

I’m pleased that the story has found a home, especially pleased that it’s here in New Zealand too. That’s kind of cool.

Te Kōrero Ahi Kā is available directly from Amazon, and other online retailers, and should show up in local bookshops pretty soon.

KoreroAhiKa-3D

New year, new challenge, new books.

A great start to the year. Hot weather, lots of writing, new books, and a photo challenge.
With some colleagues at work, I’m participating in a “Photo every day for the year” challenge. I write every day, so why not take a photo every day too?

Most of the others are using Instagram, which I guess is the thing for photos nowadays. Me, not having a phone smart enough to run Instagram, I’m uploading photos to Flickr from computer. A desktop at that. (It turns out, Instagram doesn’t work from PCs).
My page is here: Sean Monaghan 365 Flickr

flickr screenshot.jpg

With about thirty-something pictures so far. I am taking a picture every day, just that with the whole move-it-to-the-computer thing, I’m not managing to post every day. Still, on track to get all 365 images up.
The double challenge might come later in the year with continuing the circle theme.

_ _ _

I also managed to get a couple of short books out in January. Touches Electricity and Unicorn Beluga Play Madison Square Garden. Both available as ebooks and in print.
Setting higher goals for publishing this year. Last year I managed to get out just four novels and a clutch of shorter books. Aiming for ten novels and sixteen other books this year (one every two weeks). Some of those other books will be collections of the shorter works.
I’m enjoying the ability to put up a single work that’s shorter than novel length (Touches Electricity is about 10,000 words, or about forty pages, Unicorn Beluga… is about half again as long). Once I have about five or so of those out at that length, I’ll put them together in a single collection, which will be closer to that novel-length 250-300 pages.

Unicorn Beluga Play Madison Square Garden
Max Deacon, music producer extraordinaire, works with any band with a good idea. Inspiration is more important than the money. Though the money’s good.
But with Unicorn Beluga playing their hits Max might just be out of his depth. Way out.
A sci-fi story with a heart from the author of The Molenstraat Music Festival and Crimson Birds of Small Miracles.

Touches Electricity
Damian feels a tingling surge of electricity. But is it going to help him figure out what’s going on with Carina?
A quirky tale of friendship, mystery and angst, with just a dash of electricity on the loose.

ebooks
Unicorn Beluga Play Madison Square Garden $2.99, Smashwords, Amazon
Touches Electricity $2.99, Smashwords, Amazon

print
Unicorn Beluga Play Madison Square Garden $8.99, Amazon, Barnes and Noble
Touches Electricity $7.99, Amazon, Barnes and Noble

 

If you’ve read this far – thanks. Here’s a free download coupon for Unicorn Beluga Play Madison Square Garden – Coupon Code: DJ77L. Just go to the Smashwords page and enter the coupon code prior to checkout. I hope you enjoy the book.

(p.s. I’ve limited the coupons to 20 – should be plenty, given how many people read my blog but if you get there and the code doesn’t work, my apologies – send me a message and I’ll get you a copy).

3rd and Starlight – new anthology coming, with a Kickstarter

third and starlight
Following two anthologies from the Future Finalists collective – 1st and Starlight (edited by Sky McKinnon), and 2nd and Starlight (edited by Dustin Adams), the esteemed Dr. Robert Finegold has rounded up a gaggle of us Future Finalists to produce a third volume.

THE STARLIGHT ANTHOLOGIES seek to provide readers edgy new voices in science fiction and fantasy. Stories to amaze, delight, and touch the heart.

In 3rd and Starlight you’ll find stories by Hugo and Campbell award nominee Kary English, Aurealis award winner Nick T. Chan, and Jim Baen Short Story award winner Sean Monaghan, and more. All our authors are also winners, finalists, or semifinalists in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest – the tourney field where most of our bards and storytellers first met…”

There’s a kickstarter campaign to promote the anthology, with rewards that include some of my ebook novels – Arlchip Burnout, Athena Setting and Asteroid Jumpers.

There’s also a mini interview with me on the kickstarter page where I spout probably little more than nonsense. Still, thanks for the interview Dr Finegold.

 

The Future Finalists group is a bunch of us who’ve made headway in the Writers of the Future contest – a mix of finalists and semi-finalists. Some have been in the Writers of the Future anthology as published finalist, and some (myself included) are no longer eligible for the contest having “pro-ed out”, by selling several stories to professional publishers.

The Jim Baen Memorial Award: The First Decade

jbmtfdSince 2007, Baen Books and The National Space Society have sponsored The Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award, to honor the legacy of Jim Baen and to promote the ideals of forward-thinking, positive science fiction.

Back in 2013, thanks to Martin Shoemaker, I discovered this contest. My little story placed third. And then, miracle, in 2014 my next story won. I was stunned and honored with the win. And I’m as honored now to have that story in this First Decade anthology. Among some remarkable company too (the estimable Martin Shoemaker among them).

Here gathered together for the first time are the best of the best of the first decade of the Jim Baen Memorial Award. Stories that dare imagine a bright future in which humankind has shaken off the shackles of gravity and moved into that limitless realm known as “outer space.”

Edited by Nebula Award winner William Ledbetter the book collects a variety of stories.

Set in plausible, near-future settings, these stories display variations as limitless as the imaginations of the array of authors represented. Stories that ask, “What if?” Stories that dare to say, “Why not?” Stories that continue the grand science fiction tradition, looking to the future with a positive outlook on humanity’s place in the universe. (Borrowed and paraphrased from the blurb).

The Jim Baen Memorial Award: The First Decade, is available at Amazon, and other retailers.

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Improvising at Branson SixAs a side note, my third placed story, from 2013, “Improvising at Branson Six” is available as a standalone ebook. Available from Amazon and Smashwords, and other ebook retailers. Coming soon in print.

Cover © by Abidal | Dreamstime.

Why I’ll avoid the Sunday Star Times Short Story Contest again in 2017

sst-logoLast year I posted about not entering the Sunday Star Times Short Story Contest, New Zealand’s “premier” short story contest (free entry, up to $3000 prize, has launched many careers, etc.), because the rules were egregious. That is, designed to have writers forfeit rights to their stories.

That’s just plain wrong.

And this year, the contest is doing the same thing.

Last year I was disappointed. This year I’m kind of mad. Not because I would expect to win–I’m far too much of a learner-writer to be so bold–but because the organisers should know better than to have conditions or rules that make it possible to prey on naive writers. Especially young writers.

Here’s the rule I take exception to: “Fairfax Media and Penguin Random House New Zealand have the right to publish the winning and highly commended manuscripts of the Open Division and Secondary School Division entered without fee” (my bolding).

So effectively the newspaper can publish any entry they choose. The publisher could even publish and anthology without paying any writers. There’s no definition of ‘highly commended’, nor how many entries might be judged as such–as I said last year: from my perspective anyone who makes the effort to get it together and write a story should be highly commended. Well done. For the effort at least. I’ve known plenty of “writers” who never get around to actually writing.
The kicker is that the newspaper reserves the right to publish those stories “without fee”. This misses a basic tenent of writing: writers get paid.

I know newspapers struggle in this fluid environment, but they still pay their journalists. They pay the delivery people. They pay the printers.

If the newspaper is going take the right to fill a page with someone’s hard work, they need to pay for the rights to do so. With that rule they are effectively licensing a writer’s copyright for free.

A few years back I did enter a contest a couple of times. The Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest, run by the National Space Society, and Baen Books. Their rules are straightforward: if they publish your story, they will pay. It used to be that they just paid for, and published the winning story, but over the last few years they’ve started publishing (and paying for) the stories of the placegetters.

In 2013 I placed third in the contest. I didn’t get any prize money, but I retained the jbmassc-coverrights to my story. Baen didn’t publish it.

In 2014 I won. My story got published and I got paid. Decent money. And as it happens, this November Baen are publishing an anthology of some of the winning and place-getting stories from the first decade of the contest. My story will be in the volume. And I get paid again for the reprint rights.

That’s how it works.

The Sunday Star Times runs a contest, but publishing a story is still effectively licensing copyright. Getting paid is how writers make a livelihood. Actually, when I think about it, getting paid is how anyone makes a livelihood.

Shame on the Sunday Star Times, and those associated with the contest for preying on the enthusiasm of writers. And most-especially on young writers.

Failing to success

 

Low memory small

Low Memory – image by Luca Oleastri

After writing about a novel a month for three months as part of Dean Wesley Smith’s challenge, I thought why not try for one more novel in the following month. With the challenge, there was some flexibility, in that up to half of the novel could be written in the previous month. The challenge  ran through June, July and August. I began the first novel on May 18th, and wrote about 14,000 words by May 30th. Less than half the novel. I finished the last of the three novels on August 22nd. So it took a bit over three months to complete the three.

 

I decided to have a go at writing a novel within a calendar month (yes I know about nanowrimo). I started Low Memory on September 1st. Come September 30th, I hadn’t finished. I’d written 53,000 words and the novel wasn’t finished. It feels like the story wants to be longer, so I’ll continue to the end. All three of the challenge novels were 50,000 words or under.

So I failed. Failed to write a novel in a calendar month. But guess what? There’s success in there. It feels like the novel will come to an end in the next few days. Probably close to 60,000 words. So, even though I didn’t write a novel in a month, I will have written a novel in around 35 days.

I’ll call that a success.