The Writer as busker

Stone Goddess UpdatedI’ve been self-publishing/indie publishing for about four years now. Learning as I go. Kind of like a busker or a street performer. Out in public practising. Getting better as I go, I hope. Taking courses and reading books and learning all the time, too.

On occasion, some kind reader buys one or other of my stories, like tossing money into a buskers cap. It’s encouraging. I hope they enjoy the stories they purchase as I practise in public.

With the learning, as soon as I feel I’ve got a handle on the writing, I seem to discover some new technique or approach. Often things that seem obvious. Right away I incorporate that into my writing, with various degrees of success. When I look back over my stories, some I’m very proud of, others seem to have been written by a different person.

The other key thing I’m learning is business. That’s a much tougher road for me. I don’t think I’m a natural entrepreneur, so I have to concentrate. I have to make an effort to take those risks, invest some cash, and push into those realms that are a whole lot more uncomfortable.

One of the things I’m beginning to look at are some of those older stories, with bad covers and terrible blurbs. Case in point: Stone Goddess. It was a fun little story I wrote some years back. It got published in an anthology titled Horror Through the Ages from Lame Goat Press. No monetary payment (at the time I was fine with that: I was happy to be in print). It also got a podcast at Cast Macabre (and seems to be still available, for free). Again no monetary payment.

At some point along the way I realized that giving stories away was not a path to making a livelihood (slow to catch on, I know).

I started putting my stories up on Smashwords, Kindle, iTunes, Kobo, Nook and so on. Even putting some of the longer ones in print. I did my own covers. I wrote my own blurbs. Learning all the time.

Now, I’m going back and gradually updating some of those older works with some of the things I’ve learned more recently. So “Stone Goddess” has a new cover. To my embarassment, I’m putting the old cover next to the new. I like the new one better.

Original cover image by me. New cover image by © 1971yes | Dreamstime.com

I’ve redone the interior too, and added a couple of other stories to fill it up a bit (“Stone Goddess” is kind of short) for some value for money. A new blurb too:

Top Mars researcher Ben James loves getting out into the field. Under the stars. Into the dust and stone.
But today something’s amiss. Something’s out there. Calling to him.
Something he’s got to find.
Even if it means breaking every protocol.
A short story from the author of The Molenstraat Music Festival. Includes three bonus Mars stories.

I think it could still use some work, but I dare not show the old blurb (omigosh amateur ramblings).

The story is pretty much available at your favorite ebook retailer. I’m thinking about making a print version (though it’ll be slim). If you’ve read this far (thanks) here’s a coupon for a free copy from Smashwords. Click here and enter the following code:

Promotional price: $0.00
Coupon Code: XH22Q
Expires: April 26, 2021

Five years was the longest I could set the coupon for. I think you have to create a Smashwords login – if you’d like a copy without all that palaver, just let me know here.

All that said about going back, I am continuing to go forward. Trying to write better stories. Working on having consistent covers. And writing sensible, engaging blurbs.

Busking.

Free fiction – new horror flash at Flashes in the Dark

My story “Antigen” has just been published at the fabulous Flashes in the Dark website. That’s pretty cool because it’s been a while since I’ve had a story there. Lately, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve been focusing on longer stories. Flash fiction is still fun. And “Antigen” does have a lot in common with many of my longer stories – multiple viewpoints, separated scenes, and I hope a dash of humour in with the action.

Here’s how it opens.
_____________________________

Bill McKinnis slammed the door shut and leaned against it, breathing hard. The key was in the desk but Hank was right behind him.

_____________________________

Thanks to editor Lori Titus for taking the story. Check out Lori’s writing, both at the site and at Amazon – as well as editing, she’s a stunning writer.

Hospital anthology now available

One of the Static Movement anthologies I’ve been editing is now complete and available from Amazon. This is a collection of (mostly) horror stories from a group of talented writers – some new and some familiar to readers of Static Movement anthologies. From danger in space, to crazed physicians, to abandoned wards and standup comedians, the anthology covers a lot of territory. Hospitals seem to provide a fertile ground for writers – after all these institutions are where were often at our most vulnerable and also have to be at our most trusting. There was a little space at the end there, so I managed to sneak one of my one stories in – “Finding Keys” is a flash fiction story originally published in MicroHorror in 2010 – click on the link if you want a little taste of the anthology.

Buy the anthology from Amazon! It’s $14.99, plus shipping (it seems there are some “used” copies already available for $48.00 plus shipping, which seems pretty odd to me… it’s a P.O.D., just released: how could there possibly be any time for it to become used? And why buy it for $48.00? The world just gets stranger).

I still have two anthologies open for submissions at Static Movement: Dieselpunk, and A Butterfly in China – self-explanatory titles, I hope. If you’ve got a story that might fit in those, send it along (guidelines are at the links. These are for-the-love anthologies).

Free fiction

As I’m deep in the heart of writing novels and novellas, I’ve found a moment to write a piece of flash fiction. “With Demon” is a horror piece about the problem of trying to take a demon to a wedding. Kind of. And it’s available for free now at Microhorror. Thanks to editor Nathan Rosen for publishing this story – check out the rest of the site too: Nathan hosts a wealth of horror flash fiction.

Four recent publications

As the writing races on like a horse on a track, I’m still managing to find a little time to format and publish some short stories and collections as ebooks.

First up are two short stories – “To A Pile of Ashes” and “Stone Goddess”. Ashes was first drafted years ago while I was working on my thesis. Over the years it had numerous revisions and eventually found a home at Infinite Windows. Goddess first came out a couple of years back, first in Lame Goat Press’s Horror Through the Ages, then in The Best of Lame Goat Press, and was also podcast by Barry J. Northern at Cast Macabre. Ashes is fairly straightforward adventure sci-fi, while goddess is a Mars story but sci-fi with a slight horror edge.

Then there’s also the second of my flashpacks – short collections of flash fiction stories. This new one, following Lizard Brain and other stories (which I neglected to publicise), is Zombie-Eyed Girl and other stories: five stories with at least a hint of zombie to them. One story – “Unbuild the Bridge” – is new for this collection, with the other four having appeared elsewhere over the last few years.

Finally there’s another Michael Shone story – “Katie Stumbled”. This is an odd hybrid of a story, a little sci-fi, a little somethingpunk, and all adventure. It was originally published in the Static Movement anthology Bounty Hunter. I used the pen name since I already had a story (“A Visit to the Theatre”)under my real name in the volume.

These will show up at ebook retailers if you search for Sean Monaghan, or just find them at my Smashwords page – here.

Two stories in The New Flesh: Year Two ebook

Two of my stories – Fledgling and Zombie Love For Morons – have been selected for The New Flesh’s second ebook. Download for free from here. The ebook is a selection of the 50 top stories from the year. It’s a fun and eclectic mix of stories (my own two are from the opposite poles of my writing) – including some from known authors like Jodi MacArthur, Angel Zapata, Laura Eno, Erin Cole and … well, too long a list. Download it now and enjoy.