Marbles shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel Award

balls-407081_1280

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:

__________________

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.

__________________

 

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.

Raphael Marooned – New book out January 20th

marooned-ebook-cover-27-1-21-bMy new novel, Raphael Marooned is out on January 20th. This is a shorter novel – about 40,000 words, so priced at $3.99 for the ebook. It’s available as a 6x9in print book at $9.99.

“The wrecking of Raphael Cruz’s vessel, The Willalou, on Planet Eduardine throws all his plans into disarray. With a trusty AI, Raphael plunges into a desperate race to survive Eduardine’s baking desert. Limited supplies, a broken ship and no way to call for help force Raphael to seek extreme solutions.Nothing comes easy.A survival story with a heart.”

This was a fun book to write. What I notice is that I’m having more fun with writing as I write more. I think perhaps I’m getting more relaxed with it, leaving behind the echoes of some of those ancient writing courses with all their strictures and constraints.

Find the universal book link here, which should take you on to your retailer of choice – Apple, Amazon, Kobo, B&N, Smashwords, etc.

“Problem Landing” – new story in Analog

analog cover march april 2021

My story (a novelette as it turns out) “Problem Landing” appears in the March/April issue of Analog Science Ficion & Fact. Another Mars story, this one takes its inspiration from the current activities of companies like SpaceX.

This is the more practical end of my science fiction – all possible and probable extensions of current technologies. Nice to have cover art by Maurizio Manzieri – for Meg Pontecorvo’s novelette “Flash Mob”.  I love Maurizio’s art – he’s always able to capture the essence of a story so evovatively.

Sometime soon there’s a Q&A with me appearing on the Analog blog, with some background on the story. I’ll post a link when that’s up.

That was 2020

Quick post, I hope. I’m not here much, but I got a delivery a few days ago. All of my indie published books from last year.

Why, in January 2021, am I only just receiving those? Well, Covid, a little bit, also, shipping, a lot – the shipping charge getting one book sent over at a time more than doubles the cost of the book, getting thirteen at once is quite a bit less than double (but still pricey). Also, New Zealand’s National Library’s legal deposit rules changed – no longer do I have to supply, in a timely manner, a print copy if the book is also available as an ebook.

This is what was in the box. Some standalone short stories, some short novels, some series novels, and a few collections. (and, yes, Mum, I got extra copies of those two you’d asked for ).

If I was being smart and patient, I would list links to all of them here, you know, ‘cos I should be good at marketing. Well, if you look at this link to Amazon, you’ll find my books there, in print and as ebooks too.

Thirteen books. This year I’m taking it easy. Only going for twelve. Some more from the series, some more standalones, and a whole new series coming.

Thanks for reading.

New Captain Arlon Stoddard Adventure, available January 20th

Progressing through my challenge of getting something published every month for a year, the book for January is Desert Creepers, the fourth book in my Captain Arlon Stoddard series. Pacy sci-fi adventure. I think this is my favorite of the four so far. Hoping to have another two out later in the year – Core Runners and Underworld Climbers. One is ready to format, and the other needs final editing

Desert Creepers

Captain Arlon Stoddard, hero of the spaceways, tackles anything thrown his way. Even simple mysteries on backwater planets, like Souoria.
Meanwhile, Emme Jonette, vagabond, opportunist, thief, roves Souoria’s scorching desert hunting down mythical Zeytana artifacts. With even more desperate thieves on her tail.
Simple mysteries can turn into collision courses with devastating consequences. Cover image by Keremgo.

Available from January 20th here – Universal Book Link – ebook $5.99, print $14.99

Captain Arlon Stoddard Adventures – Books 1, 2 and 3

Asteroid Jumpers

Captain Arlon Stoddard’s ageing ship the Luminou closes in on one of the Crespin system’s asteroids. Hunting for fugitives in a protected dome.
But what Arlon and his crew find will stretch their resources to the very breaking point. Fugitives become the least of their problems.
Arlon needs to figure this out. Fast. The lives of his crew hang in the balance.
Filled with rip-roaring adventure and complex intrigue, the Captain Arlon Stoddard novels cover it all.

On Amazon

Ice Hunters

Tracking and monitoring on Ardecelle–a deep frozen planet far from any sign of civilization–should be straightforward for experienced researchers like Commander Bea Calder and her tough crew. Getting lost should never happen.
With failing equipment and lost communications they need urgent help. Which is where Captain Arlon Stoddard and his crew should be able to help.
But then, Ardecelle has a few surprises of its own.
With death, danger and disaster, the Captain Arlon Stoddard stories have it all. “Ice Hunters” finds the captain and his crew focusing on a small important task the might just hold revelations for the whole of human occupied space.

On Amazon

Ship Tracers

Finding killers hiding among the crevices and crags of cold dead asteroids challenges Captain Arlon Stoddard’s crew in whole new ways.
Far out in the Corrin system, the asteroid Nankong has thousands of hiding places. Locating the culprits will take all their skills and test their wits.
Especially when the asteroid deals out a surprising detail about how many people it has hidden away.
Mystery and adventure and exotic locales, the Captain Arlon Stoddart stories have it all. “Ship Tracers” expands the tale of the crew into whole new territories.

On Amazon

In other news, there’s more new music out from both Venus Vulture and Shadows on the snow. I’ll post links and details soon, I hope.

Still struggling with the new (well, not that new now) WordPress ‘Blocks’ system for writing these blogs. I yearn for simplicity. I get that it’s way more powerful and does some clever things, but I still, yeah, struggle. All of the above is using blocks, so I guess I’m very slowly getting there. Should do more posts, I suppose, so that I learn it faster.

There will be more fiction – a preorder for a new short novel is prepped for February – Raphael Marooned – and more music later in the year.

Take care. I know it’s challenging out there. Let’s hope for a pretty great 2021. Gotta be better than 2020, right?

Three pre-orders

I’m still learning so much about publishing, but working to get more ahead, especially with pre-orders. It’s helping me to keep a more regular schedule, without feeling rushed.

 

November 20th – The Great Wall of Endemo. This is YA sci fi, the third novel in the Matti-Jay and Dub adventures, fifth overall if you count the two short stories, and eighth overall if you count the first trilogy, “The Chronicles of the Donner”.

Visiting distant planet Endemo, with its mysterious huge alien wall, Matti-Jay and the crew of the Blue Defender expect some quiet sightseeing. But with hidden secrets, the wall, and the locals seem impenetrable. Matti-Jay struggles, racing to unravel the truth as things fall apart around her.

The Great Wall of Endemo – ebook $5.99, print 16.99 – available November 20th

 

November 25th – The Film Adjuster. This is kind of contemporary fantasy. When I wrote it, I thought it was sci fi, but a reader pointed out that there really wasn’t science involved, so fantasy it is. I don’t think it’s urban fantasy. 

Cale loves the movies. Soda. Popcorn. Almost a ritual.
Action, drama, romance, arthouse. He has eclectic tastes. Very eclectic.
When he encounters Nicole, though, things change. Drastically.
It might take everything in him to keep a handle on reality.
A twisted story that rides right into the depths of manipulation, from the author of Life-Span.

The Film Adjuster – ebook $2.99, print $9.99 – available November 25th.

 

December 20th – Tritium Blaze. This is book two of the series The Jupiter Files. Adventure sci fi.

Piloting the Echo Star around Jupiter enlivens Live Dricoll’s senses in surprising ways. Gigantic and swirling, the planet reminds her of old conversations with her late grandmother.
But strange forces lurk, putting more on the line than just her grandmother’s legacy.
This shapes up like a battle for humanity’s future. With Liv stuck right in the middle.

Tritium Blaze – ebook $5.99, print $17.99 – available December 20th.

 

This year has been one for sci fi, with some literary thrown in. Next year should be more varied, still some sci fi, still some literary, but there will also be the third book in the Morgenfeld series, and a new thriller series.

 

Interesting note on my Morgenfeld series, Alex Pheby has a new book out called “Mordew“. A gothic fantasy, apparently in the vein of Mervyn Peake. I have a copy and I’ll be reading it soon. I wonder what I’ll think. Probably envy. Still, intriguing (to me, at least) in that we’ve both taken use ‘Mor-‘ as the start of the name of our locale, with a sound a bit like Peake’s “Gormenghast”. I’ll write another post about that when I’ve finished the book. Could be a while; the stack is tall and Mordew is hefty.