Release Day – The Ergs

The Ergs thumbMy SF adventure novel The Ergs is out now, from the usual retailers.

$5.99 ebook, $16.99 print

Click/tap here to go to the universal book link and then on to your favourite retailer.

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Jessaline loves exploring the old hidden relics out on the erg. Tolesse has many secrets. A history dating back to the earliest times when humans first inhabited the planet.

But do humans belong?

A twisted tale of hidden destiny and people who will stop at nothing to get what they need.

Even from the innocent.

Cover art © Brian Vectorartist | Dreamstime

The Ergs – new SF adventure novel out September 21

I have always liked the raw elemental nature of deserts. In New Zealand we have little in the way of desert. There are some wonderful dune fields way up north (I even considered working with a photograph I’d taken earlier this year for the new cover – left that in favour of Joshua Woroniecki’s wonderful illustration – see below), and there is the Rangipo desert, though this is a high-plateau area, most of which is army reserve, so not accessible to the public. Nor is it anything like that classic endless dune sea that you might think of when you imagine the Sahara, nor wide open hot lands as you would find in Australia, Chile and Peru, or even the Western U.S.

I have been lucky enough to travel to some of those places. The dry, hot wind whipping across a dune crest is something to experience.

I have written a few books and stories set in deserts – it’s fun to go play in these desolate places – both Raphael Marooned and Desert Creepers (part of the Captain Arlon Stoddard series) came out earlier this year. Set on distant worlds, where the rules of deserts may be a little different to here.

One thing I try to avoid with my SF worlds, is making a planet have all one environments. I have the feeling that there would be at least some variety. My new world, Tolesse, does have ice caps. It has some flora that thrives in tough ecosystems, closer to the the ice caps. But mostly, it’s desert. Bare rock. Sand. Barchan dunes. A few salt pans around, maybe. Certainly some local fauna. Oases with fruit palms. A culture of nomads, and feudal lords (I suppose) and some conflict (well, a fair bit of conflict).

The Ergs thumb

I am looking forward to the movie Dune, coming out in October. I loved the first three Dune books. Transported to that wonderful place.

It may seem opportunistic to release this book so close to the movie’s release. For a moment I was even tempted to name it just “Erg”, but that would have been a little much, perhaps.

So, yes, why not put it out now. It’s ready, I think it’s a fun read (at least, I had fun writing it), and it’s not Dune. There are no sandworms or stillsuits. No spice, nor anything like the Bene Gesserit. There is technology, though it’s unequally distributed. There are ancient ruins and a megalomanic ruler.

Here’s how I describe the book in the blurb:


Jessaline loves exploring the old hidden relics out on the erg. Tolesse has many secrets. A history dating back to the earliest times when humans first inhabited the planet.

But do humans belong?

A twisted tale of hidden destiny and people who will stop at nothing to get what they need.

Even from the innocent.


The Ergs – available from September 21st from your friendly online retailer, in both print ($17.99) and as an ebook ($5.99).

I think there’s space here for some more books too. I know some writers plan out their series and get the all neatly scheduled up (I do have thriller series coming out like that next year – with three and a half books written and the fifth in the back of my mind), but in general I tend to let my inner writing child just write whatever it feels like, and then I put things out.

Of course, I should write some more of those Captain Arlon Stoddard books. And some more of the Karnish River Navigation series. And there’s a sequel to Hunting Shellot around somewhere. So many things to write and only 168 hours in the week.

And I also need to tidy up this site to make it actually something vaguely close to up to date (sidebar, I’m looking at you). And I have a bunch of cover updates to do. I did manage to update the two Emily Jade thriller covers recently, making something that looks closer to professional, and more on point for genre. And I have to get that mailing list going. Did I mention that there are only 168 hours in the week?

Thanks for reading. Take care in these challenging times.

Lydia’s Mollusk – New short novel (or long novella) out this month

I have a new Science Fiction work up this month – Lydia’s Mollusk.

Now, even I don’t know how to describe this one. My proof-reader described it as one of the strangest things she’d seen from me. I want to take that as a compliment. I had a go at writing a blurb for it. One of the things I do work on with my blurbs is avoiding giving away too much plot (based on, I think, movie trailers filled with spoilers, and book blurbs that tell you something that happens ten chapters in). So, this is what I got to:

A shell with brilliant striations. Golds and whites and purples. Perfectly in its setting on the calm, warm beach.

Beautiful, intriguing.

Beguiling, even.

Lydia hardly expects the creature be dangerous.

But then, looks can decieve.

A complex tale of mystery, misadventure, family, and a sea gone wild, from the author of Raphael Marooned.

I don’t know if that intrigues or engages anyone enough to want to read the book. Maybe if they’ve read anything else by me they might half know what they’re in for. I mention Raphael Marooned because it came out earlier this year, so still kind of new, and it’s a similar length. Probably at bit more standard SF – more adventure, deep-space based, but I do have a feeling that my writing has a similar tone whether my characters are blowing up planets, or simply wandering introspectively along a beach.

I also got stuck on the cover for a little while. Trying to be simple and straightforward, with the best image of a mollusk and very simple lettering. Actually, the story deserved something else. So I zhushed up the font (zhushed is a word I’ve heard people using – I like the sound but I’m making up the spelling), and found myself a new image. By way of comparison, I’ve included both here (dud tucked away at the bottom there.

Lydias Mollusk thumb

Woman with swaying hair image by Chainat | Dreamstime, Mollusk image by Christian Sternberg | Pixabay.

Lydia’s Mollusk is available from your favorite retailer through this universal book link. $3.99 for the ebook, $7.99 for print.

Thanks for reading.

How do the images compare? Think I’ve made the right choice?

Lydias Mollusk thumbLydias mollusk dud thumb

In Custody – New collection out now

In custody cover 28621 ebookAfter releasing six novels over the first six months of 2021, I have a little change of pace with a collection of short stories for July. In Custody is a set of five of my off-beat stories.

Available from the universal book link for $5.99 (ebook) and $9.99 (print) – click here to find it from your favourite retailer.

“In Custody” the first story in the collection opens like this:

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Jaine Mar took a deep, slow breath of the tangy Phline air and cast her eyes up along the lines of the crystalline alien tower.

Getting inside that was going to be tricky, that was for sure.

The Phline city spread out around her. Curved swirls of stony buildings, other towers, the shallow slope of the hardened banks of the wandering canal. The bustle and hum of Phline traffic surged and fell, like the swell of a cluttered, polluted ocean. Bleak gray clouds grew in the distant sky, preparing to roll in and dump maybe a cubic kilometer of water as heavy raindrops. Right now the air was warm, but in a few hours the temperature would plummet.

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More coming next month.

Underworld Climbers cover reveal

Book Six of my Captain Arlon Stoddard Adventures series will be out on June 20th. Just into the final formatting, writing of a blurb and those last few bits of tidy up before it can get out into the world

Underworld Climbers might even be my personal favorite of the series, so far, but then, usually the most recent thing I’ve written is my favorite.

The cover is by the amazing Luca Oleastri, whose images appear on several of the other Captain Arlon Stoddard books.

Blurb and links and more details coming soon. Meanwhile, this is the wonderful cover. Thanks Luca.

Underworld Climbers temp

Marbles shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel Award

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Yay. I may have mentioned, but my novella “Marbles” from Asimov’s, July/August last year, is on the ballot for New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Award. Thank you all those who nominated the story to get it this far.

The others on the ballot are, Hexes and Vexes, by Nova Blake; How to Get a Girlfriend (When you’re a Terrifying Monster), by Marie Cardno; No Man’s Land by A.J. Fitzwater, and; Riverwitch by Rem Wigmore.  I know many of these people. They are awesome writers. These are extraordinary stories. So, uphill battle there. Still nice to be among such company.

Voting is available to members of SFFANZ, and closes at the end of May.

Image by Splitshire from Pixabay

Eyes to the Height in May/June Analog Science Fiction and Fact

Screen Shot 2021-05-13 at 7.22.57 PMMy short story “Eyes to the Height” appears in the current issue of Analog. This is my third Analog story, and I’m thrilled to have had even one. Cyan Reddings struggles with an issue or two with her little cutter as she flies above the moon. These are the opening few paragraphs:

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Cyan Reddings tried again to coax some response from the consoles of her misbehaving cutter. She’d launched from Herschel III sixteen minutes ago and things had gone south from the get go.

The cutter was a Sampang Sliver, with a very nice Merlin engine. Twenty two meters from stem to the base of the main nacelle. Way too powerful for just moon hops–twenty thousand kilograms of thrust and just about enough fuel capacity to kick her out to Mars if she wanted.

Not that she could. She would run out of food and air and sanity, probably not in that order, long before she even got ten percent of the way out.

The Sliver’s cockpit was plush and comfortable. Way too much space for just one person. Sampang had fitted it out for at a dozen.

Moon tourism.

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Check it out at analogsf.com, and available on Amazon and other retailers. Even at your local newstand.

 

Wow, my second post in a week. Part of my effort to here a little more frequently. Hopefully I can continue to have things worthwhile saying. Hopefully this was worthwhile. Thanks for reading.

New New New, finally

I’ve probably mentioned before that while I’m a relatively prolific writer, and probably not too bad at it either (a couple of awards along the way, so I must be doing something right on occastion), I can a little tardy at keeping this site up to date. What happens then is things build up and I end up jabbering about a half dozen things every couple of months, rather than one every week.

Hoping to change that. Maybe I’ll even schedule it. After all, I write fiction every day, why not talk about it every week? Similarly, I need to keep that sidebar, that’s probably showing on the right there, a little more current. And the pages links at the top.

Anyway, there are bits and pieces of news about new releases.

analog cover march april 2021My novelette “Problem Landing” appeared in the March/April issue of Analog, which was kind of cool. This story comes from watching footage of the SpaceX rocket boosters making their landings for re-use. The story, though, is set on Mars.

I have another story coming out sometime later this year in Analog – “Eyes To The Height”. Again, a failing technology story, this one set on the moon.

Yay for space.

Analog also have their own blog – The Astounding Analog Companion – and I have an interview in that, about “Problem Landing”. That came out quite a few weeks back. There are other good interviews and opinion pieces on the blog too.

I have a new book out – Core Runners – book 5 in the Captain Arlon Stoddard series. Available in all the usual places. The blurb goes like this:

Core runners 19 2 21 ebook“A missing ship. A distressed mother. A planet of mysteryThe disappearance of the Astro Astoria challenges the capabilities of Captain Arlon Stoddard and his crew in new and desperate ways.Finding the ship, and the familes aboard takes every resource the have.And More.Another thrilling installment in the exciting Captain Arlon Stoddard series.Space adventure at its best.”

Core Runners is available in print and as an ebook from the usual retailers – check here to grab a copy. Paperback is $9.99, ebook is $3.99.

Book 6 – Underworld Climbers – should be out in June. The copy-editing is complete, just need formatting and to organise the cover.

Blast Crater 2 4 21 ebookIn the meantime, another book in the middle-grade Matti-Jay and Dub Adventures series – Blast Crater on Endemo – comes out on May 20th. This is standalone, as all my series books are (as in, you can read them in any order), but it does chronologically follow on from last year’s Great Wall of Endemo, so if you’ve read that you might enjoy this one as a continuation.

This is the blurb for Blast Crater on Endemo:

“Filled with exotic wonderful sights, Endemo ranks as one of the most mysterious worlds in all of Ao space. With some time off after the challenging events at the Great Wall, Matti-Jay and her crew pay a visit to the stunning ancient crater in the northern reaches. Surrounded by gorgeous scenery, none of them expect bandits and crooks.But the crater holds secrets. Holds them close.Faced with impossible choices Matti-Jay and Dub dig into every resource they have. The crater gives no second chances.Another thrilling adventure in the Matti-Jay and Dub series, from award-winning author Sean Monaghan.”

vv cfLastly, for now, I have a new Venus Vulture EP out on bandcamp. “Crystal Falls” is a suite of three tracks of gritty, drone ambient. This is my first real release of music made with my modular synthesizer system. Previously I’ve worked with FLStudio, Oscilab, paulstretch and GoldWave, among others, to put together music. It’s quite a different experience working in the analog world, and doing more actual playing of the instrument, rather than clicking on the screen.

I’ve been building the system for the last couple of years, and it’s been something of a learning curve. Maybe that’ll be a good topic for one of those every week posts.

Crystal Falls is available on Bandcamp – $5.00 for the download. You can listen online for free.

Well, thanks for reading this far.  Right now I’m working on a new SF novel (which might end up just being a novella), then want to do some more short stories, and then some more thrillers. Later this year I’ll be repackaging my existing thrillers with new covers, and launching a new series. More on that to come, but there are three novels written so far – I should have two out before Christmas, with the third in January. Fair chance I can write and prep another before then, so there might be four of them by March next year.

Take care.

The Chimneys in Atterton – book 3 in The Morgenfeld Saga, out now.

Since I was much younger, I’ve loved Mervyn Peake’s Ghormenghast books. Dark and complex, with rich worlds and bizarre characters in a strange, strange world. My three Morgenfeld books are heavily influenced by those, though (I think) my style is very different to Peake’s. I can only aspire to his depth and emotion.

Still, these are fun books to write. I enjoy hanging out in the endless city of Morgenfeld, and I’m glad that some readers do too.

The blurb goes like this: “As Head Mapmaker of Morgenfeld, Cole Palmer deals with everything from politics to cartography to simply finding his way through the maze of the endless city.When dead factories start belching smoke from ancient chimneys, and people show up dead, Cole and his colleagues race to solve the mystery before it costs more lives. And endangers the whole of Morgenfeld.A novel of intrigue and desperation from the deep and complex world of the vast city of Morgenfeld.Enter a fantasy world. Following The Map Maker of Morgenfeld and The Stairs at Cronnenwood, The Chimneys at Atterton is book three in the Morgenfeld Saga. For fans of Gormenghast and Mordew.”

Mordew, as mentioned there, is Alex Pheby’s wonderful recent fantasy that I recommend. You can just slip into it and wonder how our world seems so very normal when you return.

The Chimneys in Atterton is available here – Universal Book Link, $5.99 ebook, $15.99 print. The other books in the series are still available – should show up in series links at most retailers. I’ve updated the covers of the previous two, and I quite like the look now.

Wonderful cover art on all three by Grandfailure, through dreamstime. The mood of the images fits the stories so well.

Thanks for reading. Have a great week.

Sean

How to write a lot of words

Yesterday, (February 20th, as I write this) I crossed the mark of having written 100,000 words so far for the year. That’s around 2000 words a day, which is higher than I’m used to. I did have some extra time available to me, which gave me some days of over 3000 words, but most days have been in the 1600 to 1700 word range.

Small potatoes compared to some, but more than many other writers. I feel that I don’t often write about my writing process here – mostly this is aimed at readers, rather than writers. For a year or so, I wrote a weekly column for Harvey Stanbrough‘s Pro Writers Writing project – where a group of us discussed the process. I learned a lot, both from the other writers, and from thinking about my own rhythms and patterns. The site has gone now (over the period, we lost contributors – which I get; it was tough work coming up with a new topic every week), but I’ve saved all the posts, which may, or may not, depending on time and inclination, appear as a book here.

Still, how did I get to 100, 000 words? How did I write 2000 words of fiction, on average, each day. It comes back to Heinlein’s rules. Rule One: You must write. So I wrote. I made sure to write every day. I took moments when I could, to write. Before leaving for my day job. During my tea breaks and lunch break. After work. Weekends. Sometimes I get to squeeze out 100 words in a sliver of time, sometimes I would get longer blocks – a couple of hours.

Part of it is about not waiting for the muse. It’s about just writing. Bum in chair. Fingers on keyboard. Writing. Cycling or churning. Getting the words down.

I’ve also published two novels so far – Desert Creepers and Raphael Marooned – with a third coming next month – The Chimneys in Atterton (Morgengeld Book III). I’ll post about that sometime soon. The point is, no sense in writing without putting it out there (Heinlein’s Rule Four: You must put your work in the market).

Desert Creepers is the fourth in my Captain Arlon Stoddard series, kind of trying to be a little like Gregory Kern’s old F.A.T.E. books, but with a modern beat (SF in the 2020s is a very different thing to in the 1970s). The fifth book should be out later this year – Core Runners, with the sixth – Underworld Climbers – either much later this year, or early next. I need to fix the cover of Desert Creepers – not quite happy with that layout and the font size and color. Still, thanks to those who’ve bought it already (and Raphael Marooned) – I do appreciate it.