I don’t ordinarily write about works in progress. Maybe about upcoming releases, but mostly I shut up about what I’m working on. Maybe because, well, what if it crashes and burns? What if I get expectations too high?
But Red Alliance, the sequel to Blue Defender, has made a start. 1325 words (about four pages) for the first day. That’s an all right start.
I don’t have a cover yet. I don’t have a plot outline. I’m excited to see where it goes.
Interesting side note, the title for Red Alliance was chosen by my daughter. I wrote Blue Defender for her (see this post about that) and she seemed to enjoy it. At least enough that she wanted a sequel. We tossed around titles. Her first thought was that it needed to be Red [something].
I had to agree. If there’s a third book, well, I guess that’ll be Green [something], or maybe Yellow [something].
These are books written for her, so I guess for a middle-school age, but the adults who’ve read the first one enjoyed the story, so I guess it’s for all ages.
Blue Defender is available from various retailers here, also, Amazon
Turns out I’ve still got something to learn about how to run preorders. Apparently it’s a basic for indie publishing… build momentum and generate interest and so on. There are many things about this that I’m still at a very basic level with. I’m okay at business, pretty good at writing, but definitely a novice with sales. So I’ve set up the ebook for preorder, with release on January 31. That worked fine for the aggregators and for Amazon. But when I went to set up the paperback, I must have messed something up with setting the date. Actually I couldn’t see a place to set date, it just said “Live date”. Figuring this meant a date the same as the ebook’s release I went ahead with the next steps. Turns out that the paperback went live. So you can get it now. It’s sold a copy already (someone’s got the jump on things there, thank you, I hope you enjoy it). So, rather than trying to mess with that, I’ll have another go for my next preorder.
I published seven novels this year. All with no preorder. Next year I’m looking at five novels – Eastern Foray, plus two from the Captain Arlon Stoddard series, and two from The Jupiter Files, a new series. I’ll figure out this preorder thing during the year. Hopefully
The latest installment in the ever-expanding Karnish River Navigations series is available for preorder from all the usual outlets. Release date is January 31st.
“A day learning to fly the giant Alman-Kruder aircraft over the canal lands gives investigator Flis Kupe the chance to unwind after some tough assignments. At least until someone fires a smart missile at her. Kind of changes her day. A whole lot. And as Flis and fellow investigator Grae begin unraveling the mystery, missiles might become the least of their concerns. Another episode in the thrilling Karnish River Navigations science fiction series that asks the question: who can we trust?”
I’ll post a preview sometime before the release date too.
Also, this has the new style of cover for Karnish River Navigations. I’m slowly working my way back through the other books in the series to bring them all into line.
The book is available for preorder here – Eastern Foray (universal book link – leads off to your favorite store). Ebook is $5.99. Print is $16.99. (print is a whole other thing I’ll blog about shortly).
I write in a few series. I like the novels and have fun in the writing of them. I’ve attempted a few branding things, but like many aspects of this indie publishing business, I’ve got a lot to learn. A whole lot.
I got some feedback on my covers recently so my new publications are gaining a different look. I then had a go at updating some of my older covers. Specifically for my deep space pulp adventures in the Captain Arlon Stoddard series. There are just three books so far, with a fourth possibly out later this year.
I like the new look. Smaller author name, same layout, even a strip with the series name at the top. I’m sure that any professional (or even some amateur) designers could find a dozen or a hundred (or more) things I’ve done wrong.
I’ve also updated the blurbs. Aiming for more active language and hype. Funny thing, looking back on those now, I can already see some things that need to be changed. Ah well, I’m getting there.
Anyway, the series of three is out now as ebooks and in print. The latest one, Ship Tracers is hefty by my standards – most of my novels come in around 60,000 words, and this one’s 76,000.
Another thing on the branding is pricing. I’ve pushed these to $3.99 for the ebooks, and kept the print book prices as low as I can manage (Asteroid Jumpers is $14.99, Ice Hunters is $10.99 [yes, it’s shorter than 60,000 words] and Ship Tracers is $18.99).
The fourth book in the series is Core Runners, and that’s about as kooky as the series gets. So far. I’m enjoying the characters, so chances are there will be a fifth, and maybe even a sixth book. Maybe even more. Next year and on.
Right now I need to go back and look at redoing the covers for my Karnish River Navigations series. When I did those, I thought they looked great. Now, not so much. That will keep me busy for the next little while.
(Cover images copyright by Luca Oleastri (Asteroid Jumpers), Algol (Ice Hunters) and Victor Habbick (Ship Tracers)
So, this is my little story. This is the one that pushed me out of the Writers of the Future Contest.
That contest is for non-professional writers. The contest rules, as with the Science Fiction Writers of America, count professional as three professional sales. Professional as in rates from (I think) six cents per word. That’s venues like Asimov’s, Analog, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Clarkesworld, Fantasy and Science Fiction, and numerous others.
With Writers of the Future, you are allowed to enter until the publication of your fourth professional story.
I had been a finalist in the contest, once, and a semi-finalist three times. That’s kind of cool. Finalist is top eight, semi is top sixteen. Apparently they receive thousands of entries.
Along the way, I had three stories published in Asimov’s. “Walking Gear”, “The Molenstraat Music Festival” and “Wakers”. Honored and surprised and probably proud that I’d achieved that. Thank you, Sheila Williams, for your faith in my stories.
As I went I continued to enter the contest.
Then I got a fourth acceptance from Asimov’s.
That would put an end to my career as a serial Writer’s of the Future entrant. It’s run four times a year, and I entered in twenty-six consective quarters (I think, I’m not sure of the exact count).
With that acceptance, I had three entries left. Just. The story came out in January 2017, and I submitted my last entry in December 2016.
I didn’t win.
But the cool thing – very cool, in fact so cool I’m still surprised – was that this story, the one that meant I would never win Writers of the Future, went on to win a couple of awards itself. It took New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Award for best science fiction story 2017, and it won the Asimov’s Readers’ Poll for best short story of 2017.
I kind of like that, without blowing my own trumpet too much (or have I already done that?).
Isn’t there a saying that when one door closes, another opens? I feel as if that’s what’s happened here.
Oh, it was also the cover story. I know plenty of you have had cover stories, but this was my first ever and that’s as overwhelming as anything.
Also cool, I just discovered that the previous story of mine in Asimov’s, “Wakers” got listed among the Honorable Mentions in the late Gardner Doizois’s Best Science Fiction 2016. It’s a long (long) list, in a huge book, but still, that’s kind of heartwarming.
Gardner’s passing leaves a huge hole in the science fiction world. I never had the opportunity to meet him, but I feel it. Go well.
Crimson Birds of Small Miracles is now available in print and ebook.
The cover is by the marvelous artist Maurizio Manzieri, who also painted the cover for the Asimov’s issue where the story first appeared. I’ll write another post about that, I think. This is already too long.
I have a new novel out, and this one has a bunch of intriguing things about it. Intriguing to me, anyway.
First, it’s a fantasy, which I don’t often write. That said, there are no wizards or magic or dragons, no vast armies of conquest, no hero smiting demons with a terrible swift sword. This novel grows out of my younger self’s love of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast series (I even shamelessly bastardized the name).
My style is very different from Peake’s. Well, of course, writing has changed over the years, and while Peake wrote some wonderful books, they are a product of their period. I like to think I’ve captured something of their essence in my own world.
Secondly, I wrote the novel while traveling. In April and May of 2017 we had a fabulous voyage to Santiago, Easter Island, the Atacama Desert, Quito and the Galapagos Islands. Almost six weeks away.
I wrote every day. Usually stolen moments in the evenings, at kitchen tables, or in dining rooms. Once or twice in noisy cafes.
The trip was awesome. But it was cool to maintain that writing momentum throughout. Especially with the focus on a project. I suppose elements of South American culture and lifestyle may well be wrapped up somewhere in the book.
Thirdly, or perhaps this should be my first item, I wrote the novel on a phone. We traveled light. Carry-on luggage only. Taking a laptop, with a bulky charger, would have been a nuisance. I discovered the cool little Rapoo bluetooth keyboard. I bought the Docs2go app, which allowed me to format the document nicely as I went, and also to track my word count.
I designed and 3D-printed a stand for the phone. I bought a travel wallet, one intended for money and cards and documents, and used that to create a neat little package for the keyboard, stand and phone so they could all just drop into my backpack easily.
All of those elements make The Map Maker of Morgenfeld perhaps my most unusual novel so far. I’m sure that traveling influenced the writing. I’m sure that the restriction of the phone influenced the writing.
I hope it all worked out into a readable, enjoyable book.
The cover illustration is near-perfect for me anyway. By Grandfailure | Dreamstime. It really shows the clutter and maze of Morgenfeld better than I’d pictured it.
I’ve published my shortest novel to date. Is that something to brag about? Not sure. I do like Dean Wesley Smith’s philosophy that a story is the length the story needs to be, rather than pushing to hit some arbitrary wordcount. I think I hear that a hundred thousand words is where a novel should aim.
Well, my story, Raven Rising didn’t need a hundred thousand. Or even fifty thousand. More like thirty-two thousand. Too long to be a novella, but still short for a novel.
This might be more like those “Bookshots” from James Patterson. Little standalone books, full of adventure. Though mine is very much science fiction. Not really the thriller, or similar stories in those books. Deep space science fiction at that.
Blurb: Light years from home, Starship Raven went down in a plunging blazing wreck. Crack investigator Angelie Gunnarson and her team love this kind of impossible mystery. But the Raven might have more secrets than even Angelie can handle. An action-packed short sci-fi novel from the award-winning author of The City Builders.
Coming up soon, a post about just how hard I find it to write decent sales copy. It uses a different part of the brain, I’m thinking.
Anyway, Raven Rising is available from various retailers, (link goes to books 2 read universal page, then on to retailers – still learning about that one too). The print version will be available soon. ebook $5.99, print will be $9.99.
A great start to the year. Hot weather, lots of writing, new books, and a photo challenge.
With some colleagues at work, I’m participating in a “Photo every day for the year” challenge. I write every day, so why not take a photo every day too?
Most of the others are using Instagram, which I guess is the thing for photos nowadays. Me, not having a phone smart enough to run Instagram, I’m uploading photos to Flickr from computer. A desktop at that. (It turns out, Instagram doesn’t work from PCs).
My page is here: Sean Monaghan 365 Flickr
With about thirty-something pictures so far. I am taking a picture every day, just that with the whole move-it-to-the-computer thing, I’m not managing to post every day. Still, on track to get all 365 images up.
The double challenge might come later in the year with continuing the circle theme.
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I also managed to get a couple of short books out in January. Touches Electricity and Unicorn Beluga Play Madison Square Garden. Both available as ebooks and in print.
Setting higher goals for publishing this year. Last year I managed to get out just four novels and a clutch of shorter books. Aiming for ten novels and sixteen other books this year (one every two weeks). Some of those other books will be collections of the shorter works.
I’m enjoying the ability to put up a single work that’s shorter than novel length (Touches Electricity is about 10,000 words, or about forty pages, Unicorn Beluga… is about half again as long). Once I have about five or so of those out at that length, I’ll put them together in a single collection, which will be closer to that novel-length 250-300 pages.
Unicorn Beluga Play Madison Square Garden
Max Deacon, music producer extraordinaire, works with any band with a good idea. Inspiration is more important than the money. Though the money’s good.
But with Unicorn Beluga playing their hits Max might just be out of his depth. Way out.
A sci-fi story with a heart from the author of The Molenstraat Music Festival and Crimson Birds of Small Miracles.
Damian feels a tingling surge of electricity. But is it going to help him figure out what’s going on with Carina?
A quirky tale of friendship, mystery and angst, with just a dash of electricity on the loose.
If you’ve read this far – thanks. Here’s a free download coupon for Unicorn Beluga Play Madison Square Garden – Coupon Code: DJ77L. Just go to the Smashwords page and enter the coupon code prior to checkout. I hope you enjoy the book.
(p.s. I’ve limited the coupons to 20 – should be plenty, given how many people read my blog but if you get there and the code doesn’t work, my apologies – send me a message and I’ll get you a copy).
My latest release continues the theme of strange and dangerous environments challenging the characters. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of vast cities so it I had fun taking free rein creating the world of Mackelle. The blurb goes like this:
Desra Parker loves investigating strange planets. But when missiles shoot her ship down over Mackelle, Desra and her crew find themselves in a desperate race for survival. Battling the elements and relentless building-sized robots, Desra needs to unravel the mysteries of Mackelle’s endless city if she’s going to keep anyone alive. And figure out a way to get home.
I was lucky enough to get this wonderful cover illustration by Bertrandb (Dreamstime.com) which perfectly conveys the setting.
My story “Low Arc”, which won the 2014 Jim Baen Memorial Award, will appear among other winning and place-getting stories in a new volume due this autumn.
The Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest is an annual award, run as an association between the National Space Society, and Baen Books. Winners attend the International Space Development Conference, including an awards dinner for the presentation.
The contest is administrated by Nebula Award Nominee William Ledbetter. He’s edited this volume. Thanks Bill.
The contest asks contestants to “write a short story of no more than 8,000 words, that shows the near future (no more than about 50-60 years out) of manned space exploration”. My own story is an adventure piece, set on the moon in the near future. One of the times where I’ve gone for hard sci-fi.
This is my first pro anthology appearance, and I’m honoured to be among such company.