Jackpot Kingdom – Out now

The fifth book in my Karnish River Navigations series, Jackpot Kingdom, is available now from the usual channels.

$5.99 ebook, $5.99 print

Blurb:

The city of Turneith. Right at the edge of the ancient canal lands. Beautiful. Teeming. Dangerous.

Survival goes to those with the sharpest wits.

When an illegal gambling operation turns deadly, investigators Flis and Grae find themselves caught in a whirlwind of intrigue.


Technically, though, this is the eigth book to come out, but number five in the sequence. I’ve been writing them out of order (which perhaps explains why I stalled for the last couple of years on getting this out). I’m working on filling in the gaps to get the series nicely complete.

They can, though, be read in any order.

Eight books so far. Four to go. Then, I guess I’ll rethink things a little. Who know, maybe I’ll even write some more.



Reading order:

1. Arlchip Burnout
2. Canal Days
3. Eastern Foray
4. Guest House Izarra
5. Jackpot Kingdom
6. [book coming 2023]
7. Night Operations
8. Persephone Quest
9. [book coming 2023]
10. Tombs Under Vaile
11. [book coming 2024?]
12. [book coming 2024?]

See the Karnish River Navigations page for links and full blurbs.


I’m getting started on notes for book 6 at the moment. Likely title is Liquid Machine, but we’ll see how the salt settles.


 

Single Point Failure – New story in Analog Science Fiction and Fact

The July/August issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact is out now, and includes my novelette “Single Point Failure”

Full list of contents here – cool to see that I’m sharing that with another New Zealander – Melanie Harding-Shaw. Kind of humbled to be there alongside her – Mel is one of the shining lights of the NZ Speculative Fiction Scene..

Available from Amazon and elsewhere.


My Aurealis Award Finalist novella from Analog last year, “Problem Landing” is now also available as a standalone in print and as an ebook. Universal Book Link here.

Toughing out life on Mars, Ciananti Burrows finds herself constantly repairing failing equipment and pushing research aside. But when new arrivals declare an issue with their landing vessel, all those learned repair skills might come in handy.

They might even save some lives.


For some reason I seem to give my protagonists names beginning with C – Ciananti, Cody, Cole Wright.


July will see the release of Cole Wright book 4, Slow Burn, available for pre-order now – UBL. By way of promotion, again, we’ll have a short story – “The Handler” available to read free here on the website from the start of July (the 4th), then available as a standalone book and in print.

The Handler –

The mugging happens so fast that Marc barely has time to react.

For Marc and Sonia, a trip to Spokane means visiting family, a little shopping and some eating out. Not having someone accost them in the street.

When Cole Wright happens by, things might just take a different turn.


In other Cole Wright news, happily the work is complete on book 5, Scorpion Bait and it’s heading into preorder for September 20th. And, yes, there will be another short story free to read in the lead up from around the start of that month.

I’m having fun writing the Cole Wright short stories too, so will likely put out a collection of the five, plus a couple of extras in October or November. If I can ever figure out how to set up a mail list, I’ll be giving away another story for sign ups.


 

 

 

 

 

 


Thanks for reading.

“Problem Landing”, my Aurealis Award finalist story, now available as an ebook (and in print)

Originally published in Analog Science Fiction & Fact, March/April 2021 issue, my novella “Problem Landing” is out now as an ebook, and in print. The piece was a finalist. in the 2021 Aurealis Awards Best Science Fiction Novella category. The Award went to Samantha Murray for “Preserved in Amber” originally in Clarkesworld #178.


Toughing out life on Mars, Ciananti Burrows finds herself constantly repairing failing equipment and pushing research aside. But when new arrivals declare an issue with their landing vessel, all those learned repair skills might come in handy.

They might even save some lives.

ebook $2.99, print $6.99 – Universal Book Link


In other news, my story “Single Point Failure” will appear in Analog’s July/August issue. A tiny flaw in a station on Io’s surface might just lead to cascading failure. Marli has to think fast and act faster.


In other, other news, the copy-edits on the Cole Wright Thriller Scorpion Bait are almost done. But we’re still doing a switch, and putting it out September, with Slow Burn preceding it July. Planning to have the preorder for Slow Burn ready to go in the first week of June.

 

Hide Away is available, and news on the Cole Wright series

Hide Away, the third novel-length Cole Wright thriller is out now from the usual channels – find the link here.

_

Cole Wright sits in a sparkling bright Route 66 themed diner in a small Montana town. Kind of town you could walk side to side in five minutes and leave behind.

In the mountains nearby, Joe Bridger consults his phone. Any moment and he will get the go ahead. A simple job.

He can get out of the snow and grab himself a meal.

The two should never meet. No need to.

Practically nothing in common.

Wright finds himself on a collision course. Suits him just fine.


We’ve struck a little copy-editing glitch with the intended next book. in the series – Scorpion Bait – originally due on July 20th, and that’s going to need another run through. So, to keep things moving, we’re moving up the release of Slow Burn from September to July. The books can be read in any order, so in theory, there’s little material difference. The new order appears on the Cole Wright Thrillers page. Preorder coming soon.

We’ll get Scorpion Bait wrestled into shape and have it out in September.


 

Finalist for the Aurealis Awards

I’m thrilled and honored to have my novella “Problem Landing” up for an Aurealis Award.

There are a lot of categories there, and I sit in the “Best Science Fiction Novella” category.

This is the second time I’ve been a finalist in this category, following “The Molenstraat Music Festival” from Asimov’s in September 2015.

The awards will be made at a ceremony on May 28th. I would love to attend, but will be otherwise occupied that day. Fingers crossed.


 

“Problem Landing” came out in the March/April 2021 issue of Analog Science Fiction & Fact.

The magazine’s cover was by Maurizio Manzieri for Meg Pontecorvo’s story “Flash Mob”. Maurizio also illustrated the cover of the issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction for my story “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles”, and was generous enough to allow me to use one of his alternative illustrations for the story when I put it out as a standalone piece.


I will be putting “Problem Landing” out as a standalone title in the near future. It would be cool to be able to put “Aurealis Award Winner” on the cover, but I know the other stories there are pretty awesome. “Finalist” still looks pretty cool.

Cover draft on the left. Close, but still needs a few tweaks.

The Forest Doesn’t Care – A Cole Wright short story

My Cole Wright thrillers are out now. Visit the page for the full rundown.

The third novel Hide Away will be out on May 20th, so to entice you, I’m putting up this story in the lead up to release day. The story will be up for a week or so from May 10th (and then available for purchase as and ebook and in print). I hope you enjoy this taster.


Blurb

Charlie and Suze just want a quiet, relaxing hike through Crater Top park. A beautiful, tranquil and hidden in the mountains.

Helping out with the park’s trails, Cole Wright enjoys the change. The chance to do something different.

No one expects trouble. Not way out there.

But then, trouble has a way of showing up.

Available in ebook, $2.99, and paperback, $2.99 – from the Universal Book Link.

Read on for the first couple of chapters



The Forest Doesn’t Care

by Sean Monaghan

Chapter One

A speck of rain struck Charlie’s ragged old peaked cap. Right on the brim. Louder than rain had any right to be. He reached up and touched the brim, running his fingers along the threads there, feeling the softness of the edge where it was fraying.

It was a Cardinals cap bought at a game when his grandfather had taken him umpteen years ago. Some game that had been too. Drosser had smacked it clean out of the park, but the Cardinals had still lost.

Now Charlie touched a spot of damp right there on the peak. Definitely rain. On the way. It had seemed distant for a while, the swish of a squall coming through. Others had passed them by.

Charlie looked back along the rugged trail. He’d stepped over roots and rocks, now not even sure if it was a trail. The ground was boggy, reeking like old compost. There was a clear path back through the pines. Either side it was dark. The overcast sucking light from everything, especially here in the woods.

He adjusted his pack, the straps were cutting a little into his shoulders. Wrong kind of thing really to take out on this kind of walk.

Just a little generic daypack. Practically the kind of thing a down on their luck mom or dad might purchase at one of those dollar stores so their kid had something to take what little lunch they had to school

Charlie had just tossed in a raincoat—a light one, fat lot of good that would if it really rained—some tasty chocolate protein bars and a half liter of Jungle Juice.

The trail sloped up here, heading for some peak or other. There had been tantalizing glimpses of light, as if there were clearings, or a road or even the peak itself.

When he and Suze reached them, though, each time, it was just a deceptive, momentary change in slope.

Suze was somewhere ahead. Better prepared, that was for sure. She’d bought herself a Fairbreaker coat. A layered jacket that keeps rain out, but wicks away sweat in some kind of magical transference. She had a proper pack with wide straps and some kind of spout that reached over her shoulder, connected to a built-in water flask. Kept her hydrated.

If this rain came to anything, hydrated wasn’t going to be a problem.

From nearby, something squawked. Some kind of bird, chasing down a rodent or smaller bird.

There was wildlife here. Half the reason for coming. ‘Crater Top Nature Park’. Sixty acres of beautiful old growth forest, so it said on the webpage. Didn’t mention that it was sixty acres set in thousands of acres of clear-felling. The view from one of the little ledge clearing they’d reached seemed to encompass just a vast swathe of broken land. Brown, churned earth, with stumps and branches and abandoned lodgepoles that had broken or split on felling. A rusted, yellow trailer of some kind with one of the tires canted and twisted at a bad angle.

The idea was to focus on the surrounds. The pretty mosses growing in around the roots. The bursts of mushrooms from rotting trunks. The swish and sway of the trees in the gentle wind.

“Charlie?” Suze called from ahead. She was around a bend and hidden from sight. He’d last seen the flash of her guacamole-green pack a few minutes back.

She was the serious hiker. He was happy to do day walks here and there, but she was in the club. Trailblazers. A bunch of early to late middle aged women who would rise at the crack of dawn, march over a mountain range and sleep on some windswept plateau in rustling tents.

“Not far behind,” he called back.

Ahead there were gaps in the trees. Daylight. Or, at least, the overcast. Another of those tantalizing shifts in the slope that made you think you were coming up on the ridge.

From off to his right, east, came the patter of rain. Coming closer. The leading edge. Probably heading straight for them.

Easing through the curve in the trail, he spotted Suze forty yards ahead. Her red coat already on and the hood up. Her pack on the ground, leaning against her legs.

Facing away from him. She had her hands out. Moving her head as if talking to someone.

There was a definite slope change where she was. From his angle it looked almost as if she was on the ridge. But beyond, there was a bank, then more trees.

The road cutting. She’d mentioned it. Shown him on the map. An old forestry road, used by the park’s people now to service the various amenities. There was some kind of vault toilet near the top, apparently.

For rescues too perhaps. If Charlie tripped and busted his ankle here, he would need carrying out.

As he drew closer, Charlie saw the back end of a pickup. Big and new. Black. Shiny. Chunky tires. A tow ball.

The tailgate was open. The front end was hidden by the foliage.

More rain was coming in. Still just a shower, but pretty soon it would be torrential.

Charlie kept walking.

There was someone else there. Standing just the other side of the pickup. Head and shoulders visible.

Older guy. Lot of gray in his thick beard. He had a maroon beanie on his head. He was saying something to Suze.

Charlie drew up almost to them. Maybe these guys could give them a ride back down to the parking lot at the trailhead. Save them a walk in the rain.

Charlie came up almost level. Just a few yards from Suze. The guy stepped forward.

“Hey,” Charlie said. Now he could see into the pickup’s tray.

A body lying there.

A woman. Blood all over her face. Eyes staring blankly.

“Welcome to the party,” the guy said, stepping around.

He was holding a rifle.

Level.

Aimed right at Suze.

Chapter Two

Cole Wright Stood by the open door of the park’s busted and beat up SUV. A twelve-year old RAV4. Bought secondhand on a very tight budget. Bought from donations a few years back.

Jim Targell, who’d employed Wright, said that it had been one of the best investments they’d ever made.

Right now, at the rocky, exposed crown of Crater Top, Wright had a fabulous view across the local landscape. There were tall trees below, but around the top they only grew a few feet high. Too rocky and dry and barren. The air was filled with their sweet pine scent.

Across the valley, on private land, some huge acreages of forest had been clear-felled. Every single tree cut down, leaving stumps a foot high. In five years it would look better, with neat rows of green saplings.

Farther off the hills turned to blue, fading into the distance. An to the east, a curtain of rain was drawing in. Maybe another few minutes and Wright and Targell were in for a drenching.

“One minute,” Targell said from nearby.

The crown hosted a cellphone tower. Something put in by T-Mobile. They paid to have it here, and made a contribution to the road. Even made a grant to put new tires on the RAV a year back. Targell liked to tell the stories.

The name Crater Top was kind of a misnomer. There was a crater, but it was far below and lost in the forest. The peak might have been part of the rim a hundred thousand or a million years ago. There was a flat area with just enough room to turn the vehicle around, and the tower.

A trail led off to the south, and fifty yards farther down, occupying a flat spot, there was a functional toilet hidden in the trees. Functional in that you could use it. It stank and attracted flies. A half hour back Wright had replaced the rolls of paper and the squeeze bottle of sanitizer. Before he left he’d squirted a couple of good dollops onto his hands and rubbed it around. Still didn’t feel quite clean.

Wright was just here for a few days, probably. Help out with maintenance on the trails and amenities. Another grant, from the county, was paying for it. Suited him. It came with a simple room in the park’s office, meals and a little spending cash for his back pocket.

He and Targell were up here tasked with maintenance on the cyclone wire fence that protected the base of the tower. T-Mobile were paying. Tightening bolts and wires and sending photos back to the technicians who would do the regular and more technical maintenance.

“All right,” Targell said, closing up his toolbox and loading it into the RAV’s rear. He came around and got into the driver’s seat.

Wright got in next to him and they closed their doors with groaning, squeaky thunks. Wright was tempted to donate his meagre salary back to the park so they could get a service done on the vehicle.

“The phone company could do all this themselves,” Targell said, reaching through the gap between the seats and pulling out his little blue cooler.

“They could,” Wright said, knowing what was coming. The company has to charge out their own workers at seventy dollars an hour. Two of them for a full day really added up. Cheaper to give every second inspection to the park volunteers and make another donation.

Targell folded down the top of his cooler and handed Wright a plastic-wrapped sandwich and a Coke can.

“Got a bit warm there, sorry,” Targell said.

“No trouble.” Wright unwrapped the sandwich. Targell lived fifteen minutes away, in Clawville, a town of nearly four thousand. He’d been a doctor, but become a part-time ranger—part-time paid, full-time employed, he would say—because things weren’t working out. Wright figured a malpractice suit that wasn’t worth fighting.

Targell always made lunch for them both. Trout in the sandwiches, that he’d caught and gutted and seared himself. Wright wasn’t sure about trout sandwiches that had been warming in a cooler all morning, but it was food and he wasn’t fussy. With rocket and mayo, the sandwich was pretty delicious.

He sipped from the cola as Targell ranted on about the phone company and their generosity, but with a level of corporate cynicism.

The vehicle was parked facing east and the rain was almost upon them. The first scattered drops already impacting the windshield.

“Well,” Targell said, balling up the plastic wrap from his sandwich, “we’d better head on down before there’s some landslide that does the job for us.”

He started the engine and the old vehicle shook and rattled. Targell put his own soda in the central cup holder, adjusted the shift and backed carefully around. It took three goes. A K turn.

Then they were on the road. Gravel crunching under the tires. The angle was steep. The little vehicle was ideal. Light and agile. Targell was a cautious driver.

But he had to throw on the brakes as they came around one of the switchbacks to see a big black pickup blocking the way.

End of Chapter Two


Continue reading “The Forest Doesn’t Care” in ebook or paperback – click here. For more intrigue check out the Cole Wright page on the website. And feel free to drop me a line.

Cheers

Sean

 

Barrens – new novella available May 1st

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.

_________

ebook $3.99, print, $6.99

Universal Book Link here.


Cover image © Algol | Dreamstime.com


Also coming in May, the third Cole Wright thriller, Hide Away,  on May 20th, and available for preorder now, and the Cole Wright short story “The Forest Doesn’t Care”, available to read for free on this site from May 10th, through until the release of the novel.

More details closer to the time.


 

Hide Away – Cole Wright book 3 available for preorder

It might just be me, but I have a sense that when a book series has three titles, then it’s got a real foundation.

So, May 20th sees the release of Hide Away, book 3 of my Cole Wright Thriller series. A foundation, I suppose.

The books can be read in any order, so if you want to start here, feel free to jump in.

_

Cole Wright sits in a sparkling bright Route 66 themed diner in a small Montana town. Kind of town you could walk side to side in five minutes and leave behind.

In the mountains nearby, Joe Bridger consults his phone.Any moment and he will get the go ahead. A simple job.

He can get out of the snow and grab himself a meal.

The two should never meet. No need to.

Practically nothing in common.

Wright finds himself on a collision course. Suits him just fine.


As usual, $5.99 for the ebook, but $16.99 for the print. This is the longest yet, pushing 400 pages (okay, I do that Patterson thing of having all chapters start on the right hand side, so sometimes there’s a blank page on the left… maybe 360 pages, then).

See the whole series here at Smashwords. Or Amazon. 

Universal book link for Hide Away is here

Check the Cole Wright page on my website for more details on the series.


Stay tuned – as with the previous releases, at the start of the month I’ll have a Cole Wright short story free to read on this page. It’ll stay up for free for a week or so, then be available through the usual channels. That’ll be $2.99 for the ebook, and $5.99 for the paperback.


The Forest Doesn’t Care

A Cole Wright short story.

Charlie and Suze just want a quiet, relaxing hike through Crater Top park. A beautiful, tranquil and hidden in the mountains.

Helping out with the park’s trails, Cole Wright enjoys the change. The chance to do something different.

No one expects trouble. Not way out there.

But then, trouble has a way of showing up.

[Free to read here on this website from May 10th through to May 18th]


Links to the other novels

 

 

 

 

 

 

and stories

 

 

 

 

 


Thanks for reading.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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