SF Novellas, etc.

I have a new novella, Barrens, out at the start of May. It seemed like a good moment to mention novellas and where they sit in the scheme of things. Well, in the scheme of my writing.

First, a little about Barrens.

***

A beautiful piece of engineering, interstellar ship, Elegia Fortune should function perfectly. When the vessel falls out of warp, Lila Sansom and the crew find themselves with more problems than they can count.

Including an impossible planet in the wrong place

Deep space adventure at its finest.

Available now for preorder for release on May 1st. ebook $3.99, print $5.99


While I do write a lot of SF novels, and a lot of SF stories, I also write plenty at intermediate lengths. Most of my novels run between 300 and 450 pages, and my short stories anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 words, or about 20 to 40 pages.

Novellas are a fun length. Now, it depends who you ask which label gets applied to which length. Some will say anything from 15,000 words to 30,000 words is a novella, and 30,000 words and up is a novel. Some will say even 50,000 words is only a short novel.

Owlcation has a definition that seems to broadly fit – flash fiction: 53 – 1,000 words, short stories: 3,500 – 7,500, novelettes: 7,500 – 17,000, novellas: 17,000 – 40,000, novels: 40,000 + words.

I like the idea the flash fiction starts from 53 words. Very specific. And Hemingway possibly wrote a six word story – see Wikipedia for better analysis than I can provide.

Still, sometimes my stories grow into little monsters, larger than short stories, but not quite novels. I think part of what is fun about them is that I can explore the worlds and the characters with more depth than in a short story, and also that the commitment of time that a novel takes isn’t there.

To blow my own trumpet, a good example is my own novella “Goldie” in this year’s January/February issue of Asimov’s. A longer tale, taking place in a wide world, with numerous characters, over the passage of weeks and months.

To the reader’s advantage here is that they can be priced a little lower than novels (well, they are quicker reads). So my novellas sit at the $3.99 mark for ebooks, and, mostly $5.99 for print. Print is a different beast, so for some of the slightly longer ones, that price creeps up toward ten bucks. Still a bargain, I think. I will keep the ebook price at $3.99 for pretty much anything under the 40,000 word mark.

Universal Book Links here:

Cami, Metta and the Cube

Fubrelli’s Ghost

Lucy Yesterday

Load Bearing Member


Also should mention that in April there are a couple of other things showing up. Book seven of the Captain Arlon Stoddard Adventures, Island Hoppers will be out on the 20th (that one’s a novel), and a twisted time travel novella Lucy Yesterday out on the 10th.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

Release day – Measured Aggression, Cole Wright thriller #2

MeasuredAggression

Cole Wright Book 2

The sign at the edge of town announces it as Cooperville, Pop 3516.

Small town. Big problems.

Passing through, Cole Wright just wants a meal and to get back on the road.

Always happy to have a nice meal.

Always happy to avoid problems.

Sometimes, though, problems just demand attention.


Available now – ebook $5.99, paperback $15.99, hardback $19.99


Universal book link


Also available, book 1 The Arrival, and the two short stories Dark Fields and Schedule Interruption – links in the images.

Island Hoppers – Captain Arlon Stoddard Adventure #7 available for preorder now

I have several series on the go now, and it’s hard to pick a favourite. I like them each for different reasons. The Captain Arlon Stoddard Adventures are really just me writing the kind of stories that I liked to read as a teenager. They’re fun to write, and Arlon’s universe is broad and complex. I’ve had settings in deserts and deep space, ice bound planets and jungle-covered lands. Island Hoppers is set on an ocean world, dotted with islands.


Island Hoppers – Blurb

Captain Arlon Stoddard and his tireless crew patrol the spaceways.

Arriving on Melle, a planet covered in vast oceans, hundreds of archipelagoes and entirely lacking continents, the crew know they have their work cut out for them.

With conflicting jurisdictions, megalomaniac leaders and a mysterious ruin, the planet presents exactly the kinds of problems the crew specializes in. Impossible ones.

But betrayal from an unexpected quarter throws them into a desperate battle for their lives.

A battle that might just have Melle reveal its secrets.


Out on April 20th. Available now for preorder from the usual channels – universal book link here. Paperback available around April 17th. ebook $5.99, print $15.99.


 

 

 

 


If you love space adventure, the Captain Arlon Stoddard series is for you. A close knit crew, devious villians and near-impossible situations, all with a twisted mystery and a genuine heart.


With Island Hoppers, the series draws level with my Karnish River Navigations series with seven books. I’m just about finished drafting an eighth book in that series – Jackpot Kingdom – and hope to have that finished and out later in there year. I enjoy writing in both, so I might be alternating with them for a while.

Thanks for reading.

Sean

“Schedule Interruption”, a Cole Wright short story

Measured Aggression the second Cole Wright thriller novel will be out on March 20th. In the meantime, here’s a little taster from the latest Cole Wright short story – the first couple of chapters of “Schedule Interruption”.


On his way toward Spokane, Cole Wright rides a rickety old bus. Local service. Regular schedule. Few passengers. Small town to small town. Heartland people.

Wright plans to pick up the long distance service when the bus reaches the freeway.

Plans, though, have a way of getting interrupted.

A standalone Cole Wright story that comes right down to good people in tough circumstances.


Schedule Interruption

Chapter One

Dust devils flickered to life along the side of the highway. Little whips of wind, picking at the desiccated ground. Whirling it up into momentary, insubstantial wavery ghosts that seemed to follow the old clanky bus chugging along under the beating sun.

Cole Wright sat in a tacky, faded window seat toward the back. On the right. The window itself was dark and patinaed. Someone had managed to scratch Sally 4 Patrick near the bottom. Bored on a long trip, and had scraped away with the edge of a dime or a quarter. No one would have heard a thing over the rumble of the engine.

The bus was maybe a fifth full. About forty seats. Most people clustered toward the front. A few pairs, but mostly alone. A college student with an open laptop. A farmhand in a white cowboy hat. A couple of women in their seventies, both spry and well dressed. One of them kept up a constant monologue about the government, the weather and her former husband Trevor who’d absconded some thirty years back with one of the high school teachers. The woman’s voice was almost soothing.

The air in the bus was cool and dry. Wright sipped from a half liter bottle of Dr Pepper he’d bought outside the bus station back in Kelles. A little town on the crossroads of couple of state routes. Forty miles south of the freeway. Eighty miles from anywhere with more than a vending machine and a gas station with pumps from last century.

The bus station hadn’t even been more than an old store that someone had converted into a waiting room. The bus to Gransfield ran three days a week. Gransfield being on the freeway, and boasting a couple of gas stations some fast food places and an IGA. At least according to the folks he’d talked with while waiting.

The bus itself had to date from the 1950s. Maybe a little newer. Small windows and hard seats. The kind of thing that, polished and scrubbed, would show up on some movie screen, delivering new Vietnam war draftees to their muster.

Wright capped his soda and watched the prairie slip by. There were hills in the distance, blue and dark, barely showing above the plain. The country here rolled ever so softly. Like a slightly mussed blanket. Not table-flat, but no one would mistake it for mountainous, or even hilly.

Wright was heading for Spokane. He’d wandered enough and it was time for a break. Maybe get a job again. If he could handle the routine of regular hours.

Something straightforward, like packing vegetables to be shipped to supermarkets, or laboring laying bricks, or maybe looking up one of those big online gift shipping companies and vanishing into a gigantic warehouse filled with conveyors and rollers and every product you could think of from shampoo to tires to bread makers.

Anything but police work, really. Which included a whole mess of things, like security guard, bouncer, investigator.

For now, though, it was good just to let it all wash off and ride the rails. Or highways, as such.

As he twisted the lid from his soda again, the bus lurched, slowing. The liquid fizzed and ran out over his fingers. He was forced to lick them clean as the bus came to a stop.

They weren’t anywhere.

Just the plain, rough and dry farmlands lying around and hoping for some rain. Telegraph poles and mile markers. About two hundred yards north, back from the road, stood some farm machinery. A big rusty old combine harvester, and red dump truck with a long snout.

Beyond those stood a plain white clapboard house. Two stories, with some smaller, less well-painted buildings around. Equipment sheds and outhouses, presumably.

The bus hissed. Came to a stop.

Wright removed the cap from his soda and sipped. The bus’s door clanked. The driver reaching across and throwing the handle.

Through the front windshield, which was in two pieces, separated by a vertical strip and had a crack running from about eight o’clock a third of the way up, Wright could see a town. Maybe a mile, mile and a half off.

The tall signs, edge on from his perspective, indicating gas and fast food, and maybe even a motel or two. A few low houses there, dark and anonymous. Some tall, bushy trees, like oaks a hundred fifty years old.

That would be Gransfield. On the freeway.

The bus’s destination.

Outside, from just at the bus’s open door, someone called something. From his angle Wright couldn’t see them.

“Two fifty,” the driver said. “Each.”

More inaudible words from outside.

The driver turned in his seat and sighed. He was probably mid-seventies. Slim, but what little hair he had on his head was pure white. His face was lined with the grizzle of years and he had a thick, white mustache.

He’d smiled at Wright, back in Kelles, when Wright had boarded. The kind of smile that was welcoming. Acknowledging that here was someone new. It was pretty obvious that the other passengers were all familiar to the driver. Even the college student.

“I don’t have a choice,” the driver said. “I know it’s not far, and I know you could walk it, save for the heat we got. But the thing is I have a boss. All these good people have paid.”

The person outside said something. Louder, more forceful, but still inaudible.

Wright capped his soda. He slipped it into the netting pocket on the back of the seat in front.

“No, not at all,” the driver said. “It’s a set price. A minimum. You know when you’re in the city and you get a cab, there’s already three dollars on the meter before you’ve even left the curb? That’s the flag fall. I’ve stopped here, because you waved me down.”

Another word from outside. Could have been an epithet.

Wright stood.

“It’s two dollars and fifty cents,” the driver said. “Each. You got a problem with that, you go talk to my boss. His number’s painted on the side of the bus.”

The driver swung back around into his seat. He reached for the door lever.

The kind of lever that’s been in buses since forever. A simple system. An aluminum handle, vertical, with two pieces of flat aluminum on a pivot fixed just below the dash. Between the handle and the pivot, a rod, also on a pivot, connects that part of the mechanism to the door.

The door, then, folds in half, right into the footwell. The handle is designed so that the door can be opened or shut without a driver having to leave their seat. They have to stretch a little, but it’s not much effort.

The driver pushed on the lever to close the door.

The lever didn’t budge.

“Let go of the door,” the driver said.

Another epithet from outside.

Wright stepped into the aisle.

 

Chapter Two

Out on the road, a black pickup was heading south, coming toward the parked bus. Coming from Gransfield.

The driver glanced toward it.

The pickup slowed a little. A late model F150.

The bus’s engine thrummed, sitting at idle. The floor under Wright’s feet shivered.

The college student had closed up her laptop. She was leaning into the aisle a fraction. The older woman had stopped talking.

Wright took a step forward.

The F150 didn’t stay slowed for long. It picked up speed and sped by the bus. Wright glimpsed the driver as he went by. Three days of stubble and a cowboy hat. Staring dead ahead.

“Let go,” the bus driver said, “of the door.”

A mutter from outside. Probably ‘No!’

“It’s two fifty from here to Gransfield,” the driver said. “I can’t do no more favors. “

Wright took another step forward. This brought him level with the farmhand. He’d set his hat on the seat next to him.

Wright put his hand on the seat back.

The farmhand looked up. He smelled of hay and earth and beer. He met Wright’s eyes. Almost eager.

“Stay put,” Wright said.

“They’re holding us up. I should go talk to them. Or pay the fare.”

“Do you know them?”

A nod.

Wright stepped back. “Go talk to them. I’ll pay the fare.”

“Mikey,” the farmhand said

“Wright. Cole Wright.”

Taking the back of the seat in front, Mikey pulled himself upright. He was tall. Had to duck so that he didn’t his head on the steel framing of the webbing luggage rack that ran front to back. One on each side. A few parcels stuffed in. Some more hats. A pair of roller skates that looked as if they’d been left from when the bus had been manufactured.

Mikey stepped into the aisle and started along.

The driver saw him coming. Held his hand up.

“Hold on, son,” the driver said. “No need to make this any of your business.”

“I can handle myself.” Mikey was wearing a white singlet with a plaid shirt open and over the top. Sleeves rolled up. He had ragged jeans and black steel-capped boots.

“Mikey,” Wright said. “Hold up.”

Mikey didn’t stop.


The story continues here (Universal Book Link), through the usual channels. ebook $2.99, print $5.99.


 

There’s more Cole Wright around – check out the full Cole Wright page right here on the website. The Arrival, the first novel, and “Dark Fields” the first story are out now. Measured Aggression will be out soon. The third and fourth books, Hide Away and Scorpion Bait will be out in May and July respectively.

Also in May and July, I’ll be posting free short stories for a few days again. I like the rhythm of that. The novels are fun to write, but so are the short stories. By the end of the year there will be six or seven or so, and I guess it’ll make sense to put them into a collection.


 

 

 


 

Measured Aggression – Cole Wright Thriller #2 available for preorder

Following book 1, The Arrival, Cole Wright book 2 Measured Aggression will be out on March 20th – the ebook is available on preorder now.

_____

The sign at the edge of town announces it as Cooperville, Pop 3516.

Small town. Big problems.

Passing through, Cole Wright just wants a meal and to get back on the road.

Always happy to have a nice meal.

Always happy to avoid problems.

Sometimes, though, problems just demand attention.

ebook $5.99, print $15.99, hardback $19.99 – UBL here


To promote the book’s release and give you a taste of Cole Wright, I’ll be putting up a Cole Wright short story – “Schedule Interruption” – for free on this site for a few days, starting Monday 7th March. From the 10th, the story will be available for $2.99/$9.99.

On his way toward Spokane, Cole Wright rides a rickety old bus. Local service. Regular schedule. Few passengers. Small town to small town. Heartland people.

Wright plans to pick up the long distance service when the bus reaches the freeway.

Plans, though, have a way of getting interrupted.

A standalone Cole Wright story that comes right down to good people in tough circumstances.


If you wanted a taster right now, well, there is The Arrival, but there’s also another short story – “Dark Fields” – available now. Again $2.99/$9.99 – UBL link here.



In other news, the third novel Hide Away is about ready to go and will be out in May, and the fourth, Scorpion Bait, is set for July. The fifth novel, Zero Kills, intended for September, turned out to have more than zero kills, so it’s been retitled Slow Burn. I have a couple more short stories written, so should be able to pair a short with a novel in each release month. And I’m going to power on and write a novel with zero kills to fit that title. Might even be able to have that out in December.


In other, other news, for those who might prefer my science fiction to my thrillers, I have a standalone SF novella The Chule coming out on March 10th as well.

Setting up a quiet, simple colony on planet Barchime should be idyllic.
Eliza, Della and the others have high ideals.
Sparsely populated, the gorgeous planet offers everything they need.
But when something riles up some local wildlife, the simple life might just come to an end
A very sudden end.

ebook $2.99, print $9.99 – UBL here


More news next week, about the next Captain Arlon Stoddard novel, and the next in the Karnish River Navigations series (finally), and, remember, the free story too.

 

Thanks for reading

Sean

Two new Sci-Fi preorders

After the thriller novel, and accompanying short story in January, February sees two new Sean Monaghan releases – two science fiction long stories or novellas or even short novels if you like. Quick reads?

First out of the blocks is Cami, Metta and The Cube. A kind of cyberpunk, high-tech thriller, but definitely on the science fiction side (a rental car AI with attitude, and a hypergrid terrorist). Available for preorder, with release on February 10th. Universal book link here. $3.99 ebook, $9.99 print.


Cami, Metta and The Cube

Cami Gretton, courier, entreprenuer and getaway artist, trusts too easily. When the simple job of delivering a hypergrid Testa Cube turns sour, Cami finds herself tangled in a double cross. Or a triple cross. Hard to tell.

Could even be worse.

Cami needs every skill in her possession to extricate herself. And then some.

A near future thriller from the author of Dangerous Machines.


Second up, on February 20th, but already up for preorder, is Fubrelli’s Ghost. Science Fiction, but of a very different kind (I think). Set on Jupiter’s moon Callisto and, given the title, a little bit of the supernatural. Available for preorder with release on February 20th. Universal book link here. Again, $3.99 for the ebook and $9.99 in print. I have yet to figure out how to hang the print version into the preorder system, so that will be released a few days before the 20th.


Fubrelli’s Ghost

Jupiter’s huge frozen moon Callisto suits Claire. Suits her perfectly. Its rugged, barren landscape entrances her as she works with the station crew to fathom the icy secrets.

But when a ghost shows up, Claire and the crew face secrets that go far beyond science.

Secrets that might just change the entire nature of deep space exploration.

A space adventure from the author of ‘Problem Landing’ and ‘One Hundred’.


 

Cami, Metta and The Cube – new short novel, February 10th

Most of my novels run to something over 60,000 words – 250 plus pages. Most of my short stories sit somewhere under 10,000 words – 40 pages. Sometimes I write novellas – Goldie in the January/February 2022 Asimov’s is about 18,000 words (but with the way Asimov’s packs in the words, it runs to around 34 magazine pages).

And sometimes I write something longer than a novella, but kind of shorter than a regular novel. Depending who you talk to, you might hear that a novel is anything over 30,000 words, but you might also hear that anything under 90,000 is a ‘short novel’ (which basically covers all of my novels).

My new short novel Cami, Metta and The Cube will be out on February 10th. Since it’s shorter, it’s $3.99/$9.99 ebook/print – a little more than a short story, but a couple of dollars less than a regular novel.


Cami Gretton, courier, entreprenuer and getaway artist, trusts too easily. When the simple job of delivering a hypergrid Testa Cube turns sour, Cami finds herself tangled in a double cross. Or a triple cross. Hard to tell.

Could even be worse.

Cami needs every skill in her possession to extricate herself. And then some.

A near future thriller from the author of Dangerous Machines.

The Arrival – A Cole Wright Thriller – out now

Cole Wright, disillusioned former cop. Kind of guy you want on your side when things get tough.


After working on these for the last couple of years and figuring out how to publish them, promote them and get them out, I’m finally underway. The Arrival, the first Cole Wright thriller is out now. Well, technically, “Dark Fields” a Cole Wright short story, has been out for a week or so already – kind of meant to be a teaser, or a way to try out the series to see if the character and my writing style appeal to you. Good, I figure to to read a complete story that wraps up, rather than just samples from the novels (though, the story download does include a couple of chapters from The Arrival, and you can read samples on the sites of the retailers anyway).

Enough rambling. Here’s the cover, the blurb, and the links to purchase it. $5.99/$14.99/$19.99 (ebook/paperback/hardback).


 

Worn, battered and bruised from years as a cop, Cole Wright wants a moment of peace.

But the Spokane locals have other plans for his vacation sabbatical.
And Wright just has to stick his nose in. Whether wanted or not.

 

Universal Book Link


The short story Dark Fields is here – Univeral Book Link – $2.99/$9.99(ebook/print)

South Dakota. Sunset. One dark day in July, Brad crashes his busted light plane in a dusty cornfield. Not great for his weekend plans. Not great for anything.

Passing by, Cole Wright stops to lend a hand. Which might just plunge them both into something more dangerous than plane wrecks.

Goldie Origins – Essay on Goldie in From Earth to the Stars

My novella “Goldie” appeared in the January/February issue of Asimov’s. My copy finally arrived in the mail. Here’s me looking suitably geeky holding it. Yes, I guess I’m proud. Though the March/April issue is now on the bookstore shelves, the issue with Goldie is still available from Amazon.


I wrote a short essay for the Asimov’s blog on the background to writing the novella – Goldie Origins – and that’s up now on From Earth to the Stars (free to read), I think it would appeal to both writers and readers and while it doesn’t contain spoilers, I would suggest that as a background essay, you might want to read the story first.