Mostly I think I wait until I’m done with a book before I post about it, but I’m having a blast writing this one, so I thought I just drop by here and give a little update.
A draft cover here, with main art by Ateliersommerland with the background by Bertrandb, both through Dreamstime. I am enjoying getting a relatively consistent look to the series now. I’m still learning design of course (yes I do my own covers), and feel like I’m improving little step by little step. Trying for a unified look, but still based on the original images.
Need a little more contrast in the text there – the dark red on the yellow aren’t doing it for me. Still, there’s time. Liquid Machine should be done soon, and once it’s edited and tinkered with, and the cover is finished, it should be out in the first quarter of next year.
Then, in keeping with the alphabetical titles there, the next one I’ll write will be Rorqual Saitu or similar. Has anyone read T.J. Bass’s 1974 novel The Godwhale? That’s my touchstone there. I love that novel and, without becoming fan fiction, the Karnish canals will have an android rorqual. Am I giving too much away, for a novel that’s not written yet and likely won’t be out for at least a year?
My story “Scour”, which appeared in the December 2016 issue of New Myths magazine, (free to read at the link) is set in the same world. Different characters, but the scour of the title is a relative of the upcoming rorqual novel.
Which leads me neatly into my next little topic here – short stories and novellas which fit into the worlds of my series.
I’ve been doing it a whole lot this year with my Cole Wright series, which I’ve been working on over the last few years. With each novel, I put out a short story too. It’s been real fun writing the stories with the character. Also a good taster if you want a quick read, and want to see if the character and style matches your taste – the stories are cheaper than a cup of coffee (depending where you get your coffee I guess).
Four novels – The Arrival, Measured Aggression, Hide Away, and Slow Burn, and four short stories “Dark Fields”, “Schedule Interruption”, “The Forest Doesn’t Care”, and “The Handler”.
The cool part of this is that I put the stories up here free to read in the early part of the month when there’s a novel coming out.
September sees book five Scorpion Bait released, with “One Little Broken Leg” available free to read from about the fifth. Also available in print and as an ebook.
I guess that’s enough of a ramble from me for now. Go check out “Scour” at New Myths – it’s a little dated now, and I like to think I’ve improved as a writer in the meantime, but it’s a fun read. At least, I think so. Also, free to read.
The fifth book in my Karnish River Navigations series, Jackpot Kingdom, is available now from the usual channels.
$5.99 ebook, $5.99 print
The city of Turneith. Right at the edge of the ancient canal lands. Beautiful. Teeming. Dangerous.
Survival goes to those with the sharpest wits.
When an illegal gambling operation turns deadly, investigators Flis and Grae find themselves caught in a whirlwind of intrigue.
Technically, though, this is the eigth book to come out, but number five in the sequence. I’ve been writing them out of order (which perhaps explains why I stalled for the last couple of years on getting this out). I’m working on filling in the gaps to get the series nicely complete.
They can, though, be read in any order.
Eight books so far. Four to go. Then, I guess I’ll rethink things a little. Who know, maybe I’ll even write some more.
Book Six of my Captain Arlon Stoddard Adventures series will be out on June 20th. Just into the final formatting, writing of a blurb and those last few bits of tidy up before it can get out into the world
Underworld Climbers might even be my personal favorite of the series, so far, but then, usually the most recent thing I’ve written is my favorite.
The cover is by the amazing Luca Oleastri, whose images appear on several of the other Captain Arlon Stoddard books.
Blurb and links and more details coming soon. Meanwhile, this is the wonderful cover. Thanks Luca.
This year we’re targetting getting twelve releases out. This will be a mix of standalone short stories, novels and collections. If we can really get things together, a couple of the collections will be omnibuses of a few of my earlier novels.
For January, February, March and April there will be four science fiction releases, three standalone short stories, “Life-Span”, “Fabulous Skies” and “Mem, and Cyborg”, and the novel Deuterium Shine.
The novel is the first in a new series – The Jupiter Files. The second book, Tritium Blaze will be out later in the year. There are no concrete plans for a third book, so this might well be a duology. Of course, the obvious third book would be Hydrogen Something. Can’t use Sonata since Ian M Banks did that so well already. Would it be cheeky to call it Hydrogen Coda? After all it would be the last book. Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself there.
“Life-Span” is available for preorder from Amazon, Smashwords, and other retailers. Just $2.99 for the ebook and $5.99 for print, since it’s a short story. Release day is January 31st.
The blurb goes like this:
Cody Albine watches as her elegant and well-organized presentation collapses. Right in front of her last chance at getting corporate funding for the project of a lifetime. Her absolute passion.
But hope lies with her friends. It might take compromise, but a little compromise between friends never goes astray.
A short biological sci fi thriller with a heart. From the author of Overrun and L-Own.
“Fabulous Skies” will be available from February 29th, Deuterium Shine from March 31st and “Mem, and Cyborg” from April 30th. All will have preorders for about a month. Short stories stay at $2.99/$5.99, but the novel will be $5.99/$16.99 (probably – still working on the layout and the size of the print book dictates the price).
Moving on from there, May will be a collection of literary short stories, with some previously published. June will be the novel Desert Creepers, the fourth book in my Captain Arlon Stoddard series. It’s been a while since the last volume, so it will be great to get this series going again. There are two more already written in the series – Core Runners and Underworld Climbers.
July will likely be an omnibus of shorter sci-fi novels, August will have a collection of sci-fi stories, September should be Tritium Blaze. For October we’re targetting another omnibus, this one of earlier thrillers, November another sci-fi stories collection, and December will be book three of the Morgenfeld fantasy series, The Black Chimneys in Atterton.
That’s it. A big year that will push me out there into some areas that challenge me.
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
I started my last post with the phrase “Despite the fact that I’m a fair writer… I do still have so much to learn about self-promotion”
And then went on about my new book.
Completely failing to mention anything like, oh, where to buy it, how much it costs, what it’s about, which formats or even a snippet so you could see if you might enjoy the book.
Sheesh. Proving myself right in a kind of very circular way.
So here we go.
ebook is $3.99. This link takes you through to a variety of retailers (Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, etc.), where you can purchase the book. It’s one of those Universal Book Links provided through Draft2Digital. If you’re publishing books, D2D is a pretty good platform/aggregator.
Print book is $13.99, plus shipping, from various places, but Amazon is probably the easiest. Your local independent bookstore could even order you a copy. I’m a big advocate of supporting your local bookstore.
Tombs Under Vaile is the sixth in my Karnish River Navigations series (that link leads to a little page about the other books – you’ll see I have yet to update those other covers).
Tombs Under Vaile – blurb:
The giant stone block of Vaile Max prison stands on the Karnish plains. Impregnable and escape-proof. Prisoner Cole Dugald waits, release imminent. He wants no trouble. But when authorities demand help from investigator Flis Kupe, trouble looms. For everyone. On a collision course with deadly psychopaths, Cole and Flis must team up to survive. A Karnish River Navigations novel that expands the world with unexpected revelations.
And opening chapters
Tombs Under Vaile
Cole Dugald stared at the plasteen wall. Glints of light reflected back at him from myriad scratches. The same view he’d had for the last six years.
A view he might still have for another week. If luck played on his side.
Not that he’d had much luck. Not ever.
A cell. One high, barred window. A flat bunk that also served as his daytime seat. In the corner, a tiny commode, with a washbasin above.
A gray door with a tiny air vent. Air just a shade too cool. Some kind of stale smell hanging. The door had two circles where he had to place his hands anytime he needed escorting some place. He knew the drill.
Microscopic cameras embedded everywhere. Recording his every move, interpreting his every thought. Some AI somewhere breaking all his actions down into motivation and intent.
Even a hint of thinking of making an escape could bring three electro-lashes. The guards relished that kind of thing.
Three times a week he showered in the communal block, when all the other prisoners were back in their own cells. Dugald did not get to mix with the others. Not anymore.
He wore the same thing every day; orange overalls with black, soft-soled moccasins. The overalls had a silver PRISONER legend across the back, shoulder to shoulder.
Nothing ambiguous about the outfit.
From outside, through the window. came the clanking, whirring sounds of machinery. The prison’s refinery and power equipment. Not shielded nor sound insulated. Why bother? It was only prisoners who could hear it.
From the corridor outside the cell came the smells of collective humanity. Sweat and excrement. These people worked out–not much else to do here–and ate well.
Perhaps ate plenty was a better way to put it. No one in Vaile Max ate well. Maybe the governor and the guards. Not the prisoners. The slop they got served came from a recipe that had to date back thousands of years. Something like oatmeal, ground beef, oil and carrots. Maybe some herbs if the cooks got lucky.
Bland and disgusting. After two thousand two hundred and eighteen days, Dugald barely noticed anymore.
Dugald stood just over two meters tall. He worked out in the prison’s gym when he could. Worked out in his cell when he had to.
He weighed in at a hundred and forty kilos even. Some pockets of fat he couldn’t shift, but lean enough that people stayed out of his way.
Fewer than a hundred and fifty prisoners were housed here. Vaile Max’s capacity exceeded two thousand. That made for a whole lot of empty cells.
Dugald rolled his shoulders. A few tingles in there. Four days since he’d gotten to the gym. Punishment for failing to answer a question quickly enough.
Not many ways the guards could punish a prisoner, anyway. It wasn’t as if they had a lot left to lose already. Not the men and women incarcerated here.
It was the little things. Toilet paper. Gym time. A simple warm blanket. Easy privileges to remove.
One week left on his sentence. Dugald just had to make it through that.
One hundred and forty-seven hours.
Paulding’s day ran to twenty-one hours, which he still didn’t feel he’d adapted to. Back home on Kulanath the day was a shade over twenty-four hours. Closer to natural human biology.
People adapted. But Dugald had never planned on even needing that. The trip should have been a quick in and out. Less than a day on the surface. Collect the artifacts and depart.
Which all had made it look bad when the cops found him with a ship full of contraband.
And now here he was. Counting down to his release. One week. Seven days.
Assuming nothing went wrong.
And something always went wrong.
Flis Kupe stood on the end of the short vatwood jetty, the wind flitting through her hair. The sun sent coruscating glints from ripples on the water’s surface, and warmed her back. The vatwood’s surface was gray and cracked with age. Still, it felt solid.
The water that lapped at the uprights was locked into a box a hundred meters on each side, with old pitted concrete b-walls holding it separate from the surrounding flat ground. This part of Karnth, the plains rolled on for dozens of kilometers, with only a few jacarandas and eucalypts in copses, breaking up the monotony, stretching for the sky.
Mostly the plains had old corn and wheat fields. The ancient crops were generations down and growing wild now. A haze of sweet pollen drifted above the plants’ tips.
Nearby, a new autotug cruised along the canal. Approaching the lock. The autotug had a bridge probably three meters above the waterline, painted bright yellow, with numerous antennas a connectors. Its engine hummed.
The canal had grassy banks along this section. Just five meters wide. The autotug would just fit. It should be pushing just one barge.
The boxed in water formed a quiet holding place for goods and supplies. Back in the day, the tiny harbor would have held several barges, all awaiting transport to the markets in Turneith, or smaller Vaile, which lay much closer.
Two sturdy lock gates separated the canal from the area. Both stood closed, the water level within the box three meters higher than the canals. It gave the homestead a degree of separation from the canal. More difficult for pirates to plunder the place.
The heightened water level also gave access to lifting for the transfers, and as a backup supply for irrigation. The land around here, to the east of the canal, was higher than to the west, but the canal ran parallel to the rise for another kilometer before entering transit locks for the more northern farms.
A retrofitted system here had allowed the farm to continue to operate. Back in the day.
Nowadays, with so little trade, there were only occasional visitors, and even fewer trade barges.
Behind Flis, up on a small graded rise, stood a two-story white-walled homestead. Steep roofed, with some attic windows, and a long veranda along the front. A few bright flowering potplants stood along the veranda’s front edge, between the railing uprights.
The home of her and Grae’s friends Angel Guthman and Dae Deacon, and their three kids, Ben, Koi and Idz. Friends by way of Flis and Grae having helped them out with a problem.
Angel’s brother Karl had found himself thrown in jail, alibi broken, after a couple of renegades had robbed his store. The renegades had wound up dead a few days later.
It had turned out that the other ‘friend’ who’d provided Karl’s alibi had been in on the robbery in the first place.
A complicated case, that took a whole lot of digging, but Karl had been released, and Flis and Grae now had new dinner party companions.
That first dinner party had been a doozy. Homesteaders from as far as a hundred kilometers away had come. They’d brought so much food and drink that Angel and Dae hadn’t had to synthesize anything for weeks.
The autotug’s engines changed pitch as it slowed to turn into the lock. A white bird took to the air, darting away from the canal’s edge and swooping by Flis. She ducked instinctively.
“Are you on edge over there?” someone said.
Flis turned and saw Grae, her business partner and occasional other, standing at the land end of the jetty. They had a complicated relationship, but it worked. Somehow they kept their personal relationship separate from the business relationship.
Their little investigative business did all right. It paid the bills and kept them both alert and engaged after their time offworld in the military.
Flis had grown up on Paulding, even deeper into the canal lands than Angel and Dae.
“On edge?” Flis said.
“Saw you duck for that bird.” Grae wore black trousers, work boots and a light casual shirt. They could have been twins.
“Funny. I’m relaxed. Just waiting for this delivery.” Angel and Dae had ordered some new pumping equipment their house couldn’t manufacture. They were off in Turneith, working on a new financial arrangement and had asked Flis and Grae to housemind for a couple of days.
“Only because this delivery’s coming,” Dae had said. “Otherwise things would be–”
“It’s fine,” Flis had told them. “We could use a break.”
The lock’s outer doors groaned as they swept open. The autotug slowed.
“Glad you’re relaxed,” Grae said, stepping onto the jetty. “It’s been a good break here.”
“We’ve got a job.” Grae held up his rippletalk, the little handheld device that connected them to the outside world.
“A job? Couldn’t that wait?” The time at the homestead had been so relaxing. Quiet, dark at night, easy. She’d spent hours just reading in a recliner, shaded from the sun out on the house’s back verandah. Some moments it seemed like they should sell up and move to the country.
“It can’t wait,” Grae said. He handed over the rippletalk with its display wide open, showing all the details. “Escaped prisoner. They’re on a timeline to get him back.”
Cole Dugald stared at the cell wall. Light sparkles reflected back at him from scratches in the plasteen.
The same view he’d had for the last six years.
A view he might still have for another six days.
If luck played on his side.
Not that he’d had much luck.
“Dugald!” a guard called from outside the cell. “Assume the position.”
You get the idea. If you enjoyed this and want to keep reading find the book available here.
Thanks. Long post, I know. If you made it this far, let me know in the comments – I’ll send you a download code (which I’ll say I’ll limit to ten, and I’ll remove this if I give away ten. Pretty safe, last time I did this I gave away two. And one of those was to a good friend. Still, it’s probably good to fumble and stumble along this marketing thing. Eventually I might learn how to do it all proper like).
Despite the fact that I’m a fair writer (some say I should scream about all the awards and publications, but I still have so much to learn) and that I do get plenty of my stories and novels out there (eighteen indie publications this year, including six novels), I do still have so much to learn about self-promotion. Unlike say Kent Wayne, who is doing a brilliant job of self-promotion, with his Echo series. Or Terry Mixon, or Thomas K. Carpenter, or just about any author who isn’t me.
Still. I’ve put my new novel out. Sixth book in the Karnish River Navigation series (which can be read in any order). I’ve rebranded too – see my recent post on where I rebranded my Captain Arlon Stoddard series, though in this case I’ve yet to go back and redo the covers of the previous five Karnish novels.
So it’s a new layout, a slightly different concept with cover art (this one by Ilya Shalkov | Dreamstime.com). Not sure I know what I’m doing yet. There are professional designers always making fabulous covers for my contemporaries, and I’m just me, muddling along and slowly figuring things out.
I love the series. Flis is such a fun character to write. It’s neat to take it in new directions. I have another novel in the series complete, just needing that final tune up and tidy before getting it out.
Now that I’ve posted this, I’m feeling energized for the series again. I might even get started on another novel.