Tag Archives: dean wesley smith

Novel number 1 completed

Ice Hunters.jpgAs I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m taking on Dean Wesley Smith’s challenge to complete three novels in three months. I’ve finished the first novel. 41,000 words.

A shorter novel for me (usually I hit around 60,000 words), but it’s still kept me busy. (Hence fewer posts).

The rules allow me to bank up to half the novel from the previous month (I wrote 12,500 words in May, so that was a good start). I’m now working on the second novel, banking words for July. It’s still fun, even if a bit intimidating.

The first novel turned out to be hard science fiction, a series book in the same universe as my book Asteroid Jumpers from earlier this year. The image is a draft cover for the new book – illustration by Algol | Dreamstime. I plan to have the book out later this year.

The second novel is looking like a thriller, in my Emily Jade series.

 

Novel challenge: 3 Novels in 3 months

keysSo, I’ll admit it. I’m one of the crazy few who have taken on Dean Wesley Smith’s novel challenge. The challenge? Write a novel a month for June, July and August. There are a few others taking on the challenge too.

I’ve written a novel in a month before. Plenty of people do a novel in a month for NaNoWriMo. This is not a new idea. The estimable Mr Smith does so frequently (which is why he makes a good coach for taking on such a thing). He even writes novels much faster.

There are rules. The novel must be at least 30,000 words. At least half of the novel must be written in the month in question – so there’s a little bit of an escape there (I got 12,500 words done on the first novel by the end of May: that’s a good start, I figure). The third novel must be completed by the last day in August. These are all artificial constraints, of course, but they will challenge me. Challenge is good.

I’ve written a whole lot already this year – averaging around 50,000 words a month (which is a bit shy of my usual novel length – mostly my novels come in around 60,000 words). Part of that has been while traveling, where my daily average was a bit lower (more like 1100 words a day). It’ll still be a push to get through 60,000 in a month.

It should be a blast. I’ll give updates as I go.

On writing Athena Setting

Athena Setting (1)Back in mid-April I commented on Dean Wesley Smith’s blog post about choices. I realized that actually my comment fitted with my own blog and, in fact, could stand expanding.

When I was a teenager and wanting to be a writer and writing lots, I also drew covers for novels I would write someday.

It was kind of self-encouragement: in those days I had no idea how to write a novel. But it was cool to have a pretend cover with my name on it. In the intervening years I might have learned a couple of things about how to write a novel and I’ve practised plenty by writing a fair number of them.

So in January of this year, wondering what to write next, I remembered about that teenage dream. You know what? I sat down and wrote one of those novels. Now I have a book for my cover. Athena Setting. About a space mission gone wrong, a trapped crew about to plunge into Jupiter’s atmosphere while the would-be rescuers struggle to come up with a workable plan.

I will, of course, write a more attractive blurb for the release.

Naturally, I also have a new cover for my book (that pencil scratching would look out of place, and it seems is in fact long gone). A wonderful image by Mik3812345 sourced from Dreamstime.com. I’ve tinkered with that a little. I think it helps tell the story. I do think I’ll update that tagline too – maybe “One hundred hours till rescue, ninety hours till impact” which kind of sums it up a little better.

The novel should be out around the end of May (maybe early June) as both an ebook and in print.

But after saying all that, let me tell you, I had such a fun time with the writing of the story. I got to be that kid again. It might not be my best novel, but I hope my sense of fun and adventure comes through. The kid in me can’t wait to hold the book in his hand. And try out writing another one.

 

Changing Modes

DSCN2859b small Last night I finished the draft of my first novel of the year.

That’s change mode number one. For the previous twelve-plus months I’ve been focusing on short stories so have mostly been writing in the 3000 to 10,000 word range.

Writing a sustained story that’s 60,000 words long takes a different kind of process. Glad I did Dean Wesley Smith’s Pacing Workshop (non-affiliate link!) over summer. That gave me a whole new way to approach a novel.

Change mode two: once I finished the novel I got started on a literary short story. Each year in New Zealand there are a couple of big literary contests and I make sure I enter both. One of them has a prize of $10,000 – seriously! I guess my chances are about 1/10,000, but that’s better than that Lotto thing and I still get to send off my story to other markets when it doesn’t win (one of last year’s entries has just been accepted for Takahe, a NZ literary magazine, yay).

So I went from the validation at the end of that sixty thousand word hard sci-fi novel to the opening of what will be a 3000 word piece focused on language and character more than action and wonder. I hope I can pull it off.

And, yes. I got started on the story as soon as I finished the novel. I saved the file called “pirates 25 2 2014” and created a new file called “the accident 25 2 2014” and began typing. Some writers apparently take a week off after finishing a novel. Nice for some, I guess. I want to capitalise on that momentum and carry on with writing. Anyway, I have a daily word count goal to hit.

Oh, that busy bee in the sunflower? Just last week in the garden. Summer is really giving us a scorcher for the moment. I know most of you are practically snowbound at the moment – I hope the pic gives you some cheer.

A quarter million

wing cover 3Halfway through the year and I’m halfway through my wordcount goal: 250,000 new words written from January first through to June thirtieth (251,055 according to the spreadsheet). This means just another quarter million by December thirty-first to hit that half-million word goal.

I’m writing fast and learning heaps as I go. In general I think my stories are getting better (sometimes it feels like I’ve written a dud, but usually I feel better about the next one).

No novels this year – that’s all short/long stories. Next year will be the year of the novel(s) – aiming for the same word count, but far fewer stories and getting those new novels and sequels written (yes, finally I will get The Deluge: The Hidden Dome part 2 published).

At the moment I’ve got more than forty stories circulating around publishers and that’s getting a bit unweildy, so I’m going to pull that back to about 10 as they filter back and self/indie publish the others as I go.

So far I’ve published 150,000 new words for 2013 (in various guises, under various pen names), and about 30,000 of those have been published in magazines (most of whom have paid actual money), and the rest is self/indie-published. I have several unpublished works (including novels) that need some proofing, correcting and so on. I have a different pattern of time availability coming up in a couple of weeks: I should be able to start getting to those then.

And right now I’m taking Dean Wesley Smith’s online lecture on pen names – I might just be shifting all those nom-de-plume stories over to reside under the Sean Monaghan byline (like those Len Stone stories I’ve been secretly publishing for a while now).

450,000 and counting

Back in July I hit my word-count goal for the year: 300,000 words written. Five months ahead of my timeline. The writing was made up of two novels, a couple of novellas and a bunch of short stories. Being so busy with tutoring, I hadn’t expected to hit the goal so early. It left me with the question of what to do for the rest of the year. So I re-drew the goal, adding on another 150,000 words, figuring that actually tutoring through the second part of the year is bigger than through the first part so didn’t want to push too hard.

Partway through November I hit that second goal, even with tutoring. Another novel written, another bunch of short stories. Another novella. 450,000 words for the year. So far.

I’ve written every day this year. October 6th was my best writing day – 6781 words. This might well be my highest daily word count ever. At least my highest ever with being sane and able the following day. Back in my younger years I might have tried for something higher, but turned into a gibbering mess the following day. June 18th was my lowest count at 152, though I did mark four assignments that day, as well a work my 8-5 job. I’d always planned for and accounted for tutoring to knock the daily word count down: what was important was to at least get some words written.

So I’m tacking on another 50,000 words to make it an even half million for the year. As I write this, it means another 1300ish words a day. Do-able, though I will have to push. No tutoring, but I am studying – taking Dean Wesley Smith’s Essentials Workshop which runs for six weeks from December 5th and that’s going to keep me busy. In a good way.

First try at publishing a double-header


As my self-publishing empire lags and stutters along, I’ll keep trying new things. What a learning curve. Following ideas from Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch with their publishing arm WMG Publishing I’ve published two stories – Pipe Dive and Skinny Joe together, as one package, but as two separate units one with each story as the lead title. The content of each is the same, just in reversed order. They are linked stories – both set on the same world, with the same group of researchers (though in these two stories there’s no character crossover, there are, and will be, in other stories).

As you can see, I’m also working with covers – one is self-designed, the other is a commercial/professional illustration. I’ve bumped up the font size and word layout while trying to retain the general Triple V Publishing look. I noticed on some covers (like Xuento), the author name almost vanishes. Spreading “Monaghan” across the width, then tucking “Sean” in above, nestled between the “M” and the “h” risers makes the name visible at even thumnail size. I’ve simplified the covers too – no tagline, not even the Tripe V logo (perhaps that’s a mistake, we’ll see).

I’ve worked on my blurbs too – trying to be active and succinct. I think next year I’ll look at taking Dean Wesley Smith’s course on writing pitches and blurbs. This is how they look at the moment:

Skinny Joe
A Daron story. Skinny Joe’s on a deadline. And he can’t wait to get home to see Paula. But when he triggers something in the depths of the structure, it looks like he’ll be lucky to get out alive. A short story by Sean Monaghan, author of The Tunnel and Rotations. Includes bonus story “Pipe Dive”.

Pipe Dive
A Daron story. Pieter thought divorcing Mel would have been the end of it. Now he’s trapped in an artificial cavern deep in the structure. With Mel. And there’s no way to get back. A short story by Sean Monaghan, author of The Tunnel and Rotations. Includes bonus story “Skinny Joe”.

Buy them here: Skinny Joe and Pipe Dive. Soon on Kindle, B&N and so on.

Skinny Joe was originally published in Infinite Windows, and this is the first publication of Pipe Dive. That’s a new experiment – most of the Sean Monaghan fiction I’ve self-published has been of previously published works.