On January 1st 2012 I gave myself the challenge to write every day. I’m a writer, after all, so that seems like nothing too challenging.
Over the years, though, despite writing lots, I would still miss some days, perhaps even some weeks. I doubt I missed a month, but maybe somewhere I did.
Still, I didn’t have that regular habit. Today, as I write this, December 31st 2021, marks the ten year milestone. 3653 days (by my calculations – I think there were three leap years in there, 2012, 2016 and 2020) of writing every day.
As part of the challenge, I recorded my word count. Some days I wrote not very much (156 words was, I think my lowest number), some days a little more (one day was over 8000 words), but most days sat somewhere north of 1000. Most years were somewhere over 500,000 words. This last year I set myself the additional goal of writing a minimum of 1600 words a day – and I hit that, for a total of 652,682 words (which is actually over 1700 words/day average – kind of what happens when you set the bar higher, I guess). Not bad. Still not quite up to real pulp speed.
One thing that kept it engaging was the thought that ‘it’s all practice’. Just practising getting better. Practising openings, practising characterization, practising the rule of threes (see what I did there?). With practice, I would hope to get better.
Along the way I’ve published a lot of my works indie – links to a lot of them are here on the website – and gone wide, so you can find me on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and Smashwords and Apple.
The big sense that the practising was working, though, came when I started selling to the professional magazines – Asimov’s, Analog, Landfall, etc. Maybe I was getting better. Some writers get there real fast, but for me it’s been more of a matter staying the course. Submitting. Learning to write better. Submitting again. I still want to get better, of course. I have a bunch of courses lined up and a bunch of new goals.
The challenge continues. Writing every day. Aiming now to make it to 10,000 consecutive days. That would be something. But still, 3653 is something in itself.
My 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.
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.
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.
My 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:
“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.
In 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.”
Lastly, 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.
Self-promotion is something I still need to learn a whole lot about. I have dozens of indie books out there, but neglect mentioning them too often. Usually when they come out and they I shut up about it.
So, with a new story – “One Hundred” in the current issue of Analog Science Fiction Science Fact, it seems like a good opportunity. After all, if you’ve read and enjoyed the story, you might like to read some more of mine.
But where to start? Well, Analog stories are firmly hard science fiction – “One Hundred” is set in a Mars colony – so that’s what I’ll promote here.
“Mars Cycler” is a kind of another Mars story, since that’s the destination. The Mars cycler is one of Buzz Aldrin’s babies, a great way to solve the issue of getting materials and people to Mars and back. My friend Martin Shoemaker has a wonderful series – Blue Collar Space – with many stories set on a cycler. Some of these have been in Analog, so a tip of my hat to Martin here.
Athena Setting, is about a disaster in the orbit of Jupiter, and Gretel is about problems aboard a generation ship heading for the stars.
All good rollicking adventures.
If you want to try some of my other adventure novels, a good place to start would be Asteroid Jumpers. It’s softer science fiction, involving faster than light travel and a few other conveniences, but it is one of my personal favorites. It’s the first in a series, followed by Ice Hunters and Ship Tracers, with two more in series coming out in the next year or so – Desert Creepers and Core Runners. More rollicking adventures.
Let me tell you that this is just way exciting for me. Not only is this Analog’s 90th year (!), but it’s also my debut in its pages.
I’ve had quite a few stories in Asimov’s Science Fiction over the last few years, which has been pretty, pretty cool for me, but Analog is another thing. I tend to play fast and loose with the laws of physics and the arrival of aliens and so on, and sometimes the science takes a little back seat in my stories. That’s made Asimov’s kind of a natural home for them.
Analog readers do want real science in their stories. So “One Hundred” fits right in there. Mars is on our minds right now, with Space X’s short-ish goal of putting people up there, and NASA’s longer term goal of doing likewise.
That whole “Planet B” concept is gaining traction. Especially in the face of a climate that’s delivering terrible fires, ferocious hurricanes and tides that keep on getting higher. And with the looming threat of pandemic very currently on our minds, creating another spot to live and breed might be a pretty sound idea.
I’m honored to have my story among such luminaries as Gregory Benford and C.C. Finlay.
Living, as I do, across the far side of planet Earth, I have to wait for shipping for my copy to arrive. I’ll probably do that thing of posting an image of me holding it when it gets here.
In other news, “Fabulous Skies” another short story, will be out on Saturday from Triple V Publishing, my little indie venture. $2.99 for the ebook. Different to “One Hundred”, but I guess I do have a style of writing.
Also, I continue to post on ProWritersWriting.com, weekly on a Monday morning. If you’re a writer and want to get a sense of my take on the writing process, go check the posts out. Of note is that there are a bunch of other writers posting there (new posts daily), and we do have different takes. It’s a great resource for starting writers.
Have a great day, and thanks for reading. I appreciate it.
My second standalone short sci-fi story of the year “Fabulous Skies” is available now for pre-order.
Jenelle lives for storms. The elemental and the destructive. With her flotilla of flybots, she studies and researches the biggest storms. Right out in the wild.
But perhaps existing out in the wild takes more than she knows.
A story that asks the question, what are we running from?
A sci fi short from the author of Crimson Birds of Small Miracles.
Full release on February 29th, but available for preorder from the usual booksellers – Amazon, Smashwords, and others (universal booklink). $2.99 ebook and $5.99 in print (it’s a cutie – 30 pages… I do like these little books).
This is fun getting this shorter stories out into the world. Next month, however, we’ll have out, Deuterium Shine, the first novel in a new series “The Jupiter Files”. Following that another short, “Mem and Cyborg”, and following that the publishing will ratchet up a little, with some collections, omnibuses and more novels.
Alongside all that are more works in the “Matti-Jay and Dub Adventures” series. These middle grade works go through a different process to reach publication. This is the series I write for my daughter Matti-Jay, so before they go public we read them at home, just to make sure they’re good to go.
There are three novels in the first series for Matti-Jay – Blue Defender, Red Alliance and Gold Embers – which make up “The Chronicles of the Donner”. There is one short “Trapped” as part of the follow-ups in the “Matti-Jay and Dub Adventures”, but three more in the works right now, the novel Pirates, the novelette Good Ship Hartford and another short “Event on Algoria Three”. We’re almost done with that last one, so it might be available in the next couple of weeks.
I have story, “One Hundred” in the March/April issue of Analog, if you’re an Analog reader. Pretty chuffed with that one – my first in Analog. Later in the year I have another story in Asimov’s – “Marbles”, which is the third in Asimov’s in my “Worlds of Shilinka Switalla” series, following the (ahem) award-winning “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles”, and “Ventiforms”.
I’ll post more about those closer to the time they come out.
Speaking of Asimov’s, I had two stories published there last year, both of which are eligible for New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Award – “Ventiforms” and “Chasing Oumuamua”. That’s exciting, though of course it all takes getting nominated to get onto the ballot. We’ll see how that goes. No matter, it’s always a thrill to be published in Asimov’s.
The second book in my Morgenfeld series should be out on December 15th, all going well. As I speak the book has been proofed and copy-edited and print-formatted. Just need to finish the wraparound cover design for that, and get the ebook formatting done.
Oh, and write a blurb.
Here’s how things go for me in terms of writing, from easiest to hardest: novel, novella, short story, blog post, “short bio to accompany your story” and blurb. Yup, easier to write a 60,000 word novel than to write a 100 word blurb. I’ve done some work on it, taken a course or two and so I know some of the techniques – focus on the character and the problem, give away nothing more than is in the first chapter, use active language, and so on and so on. All seems very straightforward when you put it like that. Ha, ha.
I have to write my blurbs on a different computer from my writing computer. The tone and technique and parts of the brain used are all so different. Getting away from the creative space seems to give me access to a different kind of creativity, namely pretending to be a sales person.
Sales is not my natural bent. So, I practice. Maybe I’ll get something that works this time. I’ll post the blurb here in a week or two, once I’ve got it down. Or maybe just whatever I have at that point.
I am fortunate that I’ve been able to organise a space and a clunky old computer dedicated just to writing. No net, no games, no anything except the writing software. Easier to separate out that creative side from the business side.
Also in the works, getting the updated cover for the first in the series – The Map Maker of Morgenfeld. In the year or so since that came out I’ve learned some about cover design. Long way to go, but I like these new versions. Grandfailure’s images just so suit the work, the broken-down jumble of the city and the sense of space and light and time.
In other, related new, I’m just about finished with the writing of book three in the series. Right now the title is just Black Chimneys, but I do have a while to consider that, and to look for something with more rhythm closer to the other two, as in The (something) of/at (somewhere).
Also recently sold a couple of stories, one to Asimov’s, one to Analog. Excited about both, but this will be my first in Analog, and it’s always neat to see my work in a new venue. I’ll post again when I have the publication dates for those.
Since I’m rambling on, I’ll mention that I’ll be at WorldCon in Wellington next year – the World Science Fiction Convention. I’m in the process of putting my name forward to maybe be on a panel or two. If you’re going and we haven’t met, grab me and say hi.