Amazon have started offering hardback publishing alongside paperback (and ebook, and audio), so, yay. That’s pretty cool. It’s some extra work to get there, and of course they retail for a bit more, but they look great. Better than I expected, honestly. Quick snapshot here doesn’t do it justice.
Quite a feeling, after all these years of ebooks and paperbacks, to hold a hardback of one of my books in my hand. Feel like a real writer, you know (not that I had any doubt, but, well).
And, it only works out to cost a couple of dollars more than the paperback, which is pretty remarkable. $19.99 – here at Amazon.
The paperback is $17.99 and the ebook is $5.99. Same link for Amazon. The ebook is also available at the UBL here, the universal book link taking you on to the retailer of your choice.
Cover art by Brian Vectorartist | Dreamstime. Original post on the release is here.
Year after year I railed against the Sunday Star Times short story contest for their clause in the T&C which is a simple rights-grab. I even contacted them directly, receiving a ‘thanks, we’ll consider that point next time’, and resulting in no change at all. I’ve given up discussing it, though, with the contest active, my posts from years back suddenly jump up into my stats list. I hope some of those people read it and consider what writers do – licence intellectual property – and reconsider any thoughts of entering the contest.
I won’t enter.
Now, that out of the way, I can rant about something else, in a way related.
Someone passed to me an article from the Sunday Star Times, from October 10 this year. It’s about one of the judges of the contest (shame on you for exploiting writers), and the headline is “If you hate writing and it’s torture, you might be a writer”
Ah, no. There’s just so much wrong with that. If something’s torture, people, don’t do it. Go do something fun. For example, some members of my family love hiking. They go off on these fabulous trips and return weary and exhilarated and with collections of photos of some truly stunning sights. Snow, bush, views forever. I’m envious of some of those experiences. Look at Connor there, in the snow. Loving it.
But me hiking? For hours? In the rain, to reach the hut?
For me, that would be torture. So guess, what? I’m not a hiker. Guess what? When they go hiking, I stay home and write. I stay home and write because writing is a joy. Writing is fun. So I would revise that headline to be more like:
If you love writing and it’s a joy, you might be a writer.
Taking a leap into the unknown, going, as they say ‘out of my comfort zone’, tonight marks the first Venus Vulture live performance. This is at Swampfest, the Palmerston North annual event showcasing local musicians (and, this year, hosting me).
In about five hours. Hmm! I’ve written here before about the fun I have making music and seeing what I can come up with. Ambient soundscapes and drones and quiet minimal stuff.
But this is a different thing. Live. Performance.
Now, I do make music using a modular synthesizer, so there’s an element of just turning it on and sound comes out. Quite distinct from having to hold the chords on a guitar as the player strums, or, well, actually playing any kind of non-electronic instrument.
I’m using my Unpredictability Machine – which you can see here on Modulargrid. Performing a piece called “Strata”
So, yeah, I do need to turn the knobs at the right time, and cue up the samples in the right order. All while standing in front of people. Actual people. You know, real musicians, who tend to be the people who come to Swampfest.
Fifteen minutes is all. Not long, right. Should be fine. Heh. Do I seem intimidate? Nah.
Anyway, in the lead up and preparing for the night, I’ve recorded some of my sessions and released them on Bandcamp. Pay what you like, or just have a listen online.
With focus, the show might even sound pretty close to this.
And thanks to so many people for their encouragement in taking this leap.
After publishing a several novels this year, I’m going round out things with a few short stories, before kicking off with more novels again next year, still working to keep up the business of having something new out on the 20th of every month.
“A Cultural Exchange” is a sci-fi action story which I think reflects some growing interest in hunter-gatherer societies and how very straightforward that seems compared to our increasingly busy, noisy and complex world.
That cover? I am a definite fan of Grandfailure’s artwork – it’s featured on several of my books. I suspect that I could get something more ‘sci-fi’ for these, but I find the images very evocative.
Arriving in the deep alien forests of Corrul, Tim Maxter and his crew hardly expect instant hostility from the locals.
Sixty light years from Earth to find someone pounding on the spaceship’s door. Welcome to a planet filled with surprises.
Surprises that will cut Maxter to his core.
A story from Sean Monaghan, author of Lydia’s Mollusk and The Ergs.
Available from the usual retailers as an ebook ($2.99): click the universal link, and from Amazon and others in real hold-it-in-your-hands print ($5.99). Print out now, ebook from October 20th, but available for preorder. 10,000 words, more or less, about 50 pages.
I’m enjoying this little period of working on formatting to get something of a consistent look. I’ve been going back and redoing covers – some of the thrillers will start looking more like each other instead of random hurled-together agglomerations. I like the kind of SF font look on the last three books:
As you can see, I’ve discovered that I can push my name a little bigger on the latest one – I do get paranoid about the bleed and so on with Amazon print books, so end up being too conservative.
In other news – The Ergs (as above) is now also available in hardback from Amazon. I’ve yet to receive my copy, but it’s my first hardback, so that’s exciting. Amazon have just started offering this service, so going forward, I’ll likely be putting all of my novels into hardback (tougher to justify for standalone short stories) and, time-willing, will try to get some earlier novels into hardback too. The Captain Arlon Stoddard series? That might deserve it, I think.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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?
After 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:
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.
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.
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.