New standalone SF story coming soon

After publishing a several novels this year, I’m going round out things with a few short stories, before kicking off with more novels again next year, still working to keep up the business of having something new out on the 20th of every month.

“A Cultural Exchange” is a sci-fi action story which I think reflects some growing interest in hunter-gatherer societies and how very straightforward that seems compared to our increasingly busy, noisy and complex world.

Cultural Exchange 25921 thumbThat cover? I am a definite fan of Grandfailure’s artwork – it’s featured on several of my books. I suspect that I could get something more ‘sci-fi’ for these, but I find the images very evocative.

Blurb:

Arriving in the deep alien forests of Corrul, Tim Maxter and his crew hardly expect instant hostility from the locals.

Sixty light years from Earth to find someone pounding on the spaceship’s door. Welcome to a planet filled with surprises.

Surprises that will cut Maxter to his core.

A story from Sean Monaghan, author of Lydia’s Mollusk and The Ergs.

Available from the usual retailers as an ebook ($2.99):  click the universal link, and from Amazon and others in real hold-it-in-your-hands print ($5.99). Print out now, ebook from October 20th, but available for preorder. 10,000 words, more or less, about 50 pages.


I’m enjoying this little period of working on formatting to get something of a consistent look. I’ve been going back and redoing covers – some of the thrillers will start looking more like each other instead of random hurled-together agglomerations. I like the kind of SF font look on the last three books:

As you can see, I’ve discovered that I can push my name a little bigger on the latest one – I do get paranoid about the bleed and so on with Amazon print books, so end up being too conservative.


In other news – The Ergs (as above) is now also available in hardback from Amazon. I’ve yet to receive my copy, but it’s my first hardback, so that’s exciting. Amazon have just started offering this service, so going forward, I’ll likely be putting all of my novels into hardback (tougher to justify for standalone short stories) and, time-willing, will try to get some earlier novels into hardback too. The Captain Arlon Stoddard series? That might deserve it, I think.

Release Day – The Ergs

The Ergs thumbMy SF adventure novel The Ergs is out now, from the usual retailers.

$5.99 ebook, $16.99 print

Click/tap here to go to the universal book link and then on to your favourite retailer.

Jessaline loves exploring the old hidden relics out on the erg. Tolesse has many secrets. A history dating back to the earliest times when humans first inhabited the planet.

But do humans belong?

A twisted tale of hidden destiny and people who will stop at nothing to get what they need.

Even from the innocent.

Cover art © Brian Vectorartist | Dreamstime

The Ergs – new SF adventure novel out September 21

I have always liked the raw elemental nature of deserts. In New Zealand we have little in the way of desert. There are some wonderful dune fields way up north (I even considered working with a photograph I’d taken earlier this year for the new cover – left that in favour of Joshua Woroniecki’s wonderful illustration – see below), and there is the Rangipo desert, though this is a high-plateau area, most of which is army reserve, so not accessible to the public. Nor is it anything like that classic endless dune sea that you might think of when you imagine the Sahara, nor wide open hot lands as you would find in Australia, Chile and Peru, or even the Western U.S.

I have been lucky enough to travel to some of those places. The dry, hot wind whipping across a dune crest is something to experience.

I have written a few books and stories set in deserts – it’s fun to go play in these desolate places – both Raphael Marooned and Desert Creepers (part of the Captain Arlon Stoddard series) came out earlier this year. Set on distant worlds, where the rules of deserts may be a little different to here.

One thing I try to avoid with my SF worlds, is making a planet have all one environments. I have the feeling that there would be at least some variety. My new world, Tolesse, does have ice caps. It has some flora that thrives in tough ecosystems, closer to the the ice caps. But mostly, it’s desert. Bare rock. Sand. Barchan dunes. A few salt pans around, maybe. Certainly some local fauna. Oases with fruit palms. A culture of nomads, and feudal lords (I suppose) and some conflict (well, a fair bit of conflict).

The Ergs thumb

I am looking forward to the movie Dune, coming out in October. I loved the first three Dune books. Transported to that wonderful place.

It may seem opportunistic to release this book so close to the movie’s release. For a moment I was even tempted to name it just “Erg”, but that would have been a little much, perhaps.

So, yes, why not put it out now. It’s ready, I think it’s a fun read (at least, I had fun writing it), and it’s not Dune. There are no sandworms or stillsuits. No spice, nor anything like the Bene Gesserit. There is technology, though it’s unequally distributed. There are ancient ruins and a megalomanic ruler.

Here’s how I describe the book in the blurb:


Jessaline loves exploring the old hidden relics out on the erg. Tolesse has many secrets. A history dating back to the earliest times when humans first inhabited the planet.

But do humans belong?

A twisted tale of hidden destiny and people who will stop at nothing to get what they need.

Even from the innocent.


The Ergs – available from September 21st from your friendly online retailer, in both print ($17.99) and as an ebook ($5.99).

I think there’s space here for some more books too. I know some writers plan out their series and get the all neatly scheduled up (I do have thriller series coming out like that next year – with three and a half books written and the fifth in the back of my mind), but in general I tend to let my inner writing child just write whatever it feels like, and then I put things out.

Of course, I should write some more of those Captain Arlon Stoddard books. And some more of the Karnish River Navigation series. And there’s a sequel to Hunting Shellot around somewhere. So many things to write and only 168 hours in the week.

And I also need to tidy up this site to make it actually something vaguely close to up to date (sidebar, I’m looking at you). And I have a bunch of cover updates to do. I did manage to update the two Emily Jade thriller covers recently, making something that looks closer to professional, and more on point for genre. And I have to get that mailing list going. Did I mention that there are only 168 hours in the week?

Thanks for reading. Take care in these challenging times.

Lydia’s Mollusk – New short novel (or long novella) out this month

I have a new Science Fiction work up this month – Lydia’s Mollusk.

Now, even I don’t know how to describe this one. My proof-reader described it as one of the strangest things she’d seen from me. I want to take that as a compliment. I had a go at writing a blurb for it. One of the things I do work on with my blurbs is avoiding giving away too much plot (based on, I think, movie trailers filled with spoilers, and book blurbs that tell you something that happens ten chapters in). So, this is what I got to:

A shell with brilliant striations. Golds and whites and purples. Perfectly in its setting on the calm, warm beach.

Beautiful, intriguing.

Beguiling, even.

Lydia hardly expects the creature be dangerous.

But then, looks can decieve.

A complex tale of mystery, misadventure, family, and a sea gone wild, from the author of Raphael Marooned.

I don’t know if that intrigues or engages anyone enough to want to read the book. Maybe if they’ve read anything else by me they might half know what they’re in for. I mention Raphael Marooned because it came out earlier this year, so still kind of new, and it’s a similar length. Probably at bit more standard SF – more adventure, deep-space based, but I do have a feeling that my writing has a similar tone whether my characters are blowing up planets, or simply wandering introspectively along a beach.

I also got stuck on the cover for a little while. Trying to be simple and straightforward, with the best image of a mollusk and very simple lettering. Actually, the story deserved something else. So I zhushed up the font (zhushed is a word I’ve heard people using – I like the sound but I’m making up the spelling), and found myself a new image. By way of comparison, I’ve included both here (dud tucked away at the bottom there.

Lydias Mollusk thumb

Woman with swaying hair image by Chainat | Dreamstime, Mollusk image by Christian Sternberg | Pixabay.

Lydia’s Mollusk is available from your favorite retailer through this universal book link. $3.99 for the ebook, $7.99 for print.

Thanks for reading.

How do the images compare? Think I’ve made the right choice?

Lydias Mollusk thumbLydias mollusk dud thumb

In Custody – New collection out now

In custody cover 28621 ebookAfter releasing six novels over the first six months of 2021, I have a little change of pace with a collection of short stories for July. In Custody is a set of five of my off-beat stories.

Available from the universal book link for $5.99 (ebook) and $9.99 (print) – click here to find it from your favourite retailer.

“In Custody” the first story in the collection opens like this:

_____________

Jaine Mar took a deep, slow breath of the tangy Phline air and cast her eyes up along the lines of the crystalline alien tower.

Getting inside that was going to be tricky, that was for sure.

The Phline city spread out around her. Curved swirls of stony buildings, other towers, the shallow slope of the hardened banks of the wandering canal. The bustle and hum of Phline traffic surged and fell, like the swell of a cluttered, polluted ocean. Bleak gray clouds grew in the distant sky, preparing to roll in and dump maybe a cubic kilometer of water as heavy raindrops. Right now the air was warm, but in a few hours the temperature would plummet.

_____________

More coming next month.

Marbles shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel Award

balls-407081_1280

Yay. I may have mentioned, but my novella “Marbles” from Asimov’s, July/August last year, is on the ballot for New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Award. Thank you all those who nominated the story to get it this far.

The others on the ballot are, Hexes and Vexes, by Nova Blake; How to Get a Girlfriend (When you’re a Terrifying Monster), by Marie Cardno; No Man’s Land by A.J. Fitzwater, and; Riverwitch by Rem Wigmore.  I know many of these people. They are awesome writers. These are extraordinary stories. So, uphill battle there. Still nice to be among such company.

Voting is available to members of SFFANZ, and closes at the end of May.

Image by Splitshire from Pixabay

New New New, finally

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.

analog cover march april 2021My 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:

Core runners 19 2 21 ebook“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.

Blast Crater 2 4 21 ebookIn 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.”

vv cfLastly, 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.

Take care.

Raphael Marooned – New book out January 20th

marooned-ebook-cover-27-1-21-bMy new novel, Raphael Marooned is out on January 20th. This is a shorter novel – about 40,000 words, so priced at $3.99 for the ebook. It’s available as a 6x9in print book at $9.99.

“The wrecking of Raphael Cruz’s vessel, The Willalou, on Planet Eduardine throws all his plans into disarray. With a trusty AI, Raphael plunges into a desperate race to survive Eduardine’s baking desert. Limited supplies, a broken ship and no way to call for help force Raphael to seek extreme solutions.Nothing comes easy.A survival story with a heart.”

This was a fun book to write. What I notice is that I’m having more fun with writing as I write more. I think perhaps I’m getting more relaxed with it, leaving behind the echoes of some of those ancient writing courses with all their strictures and constraints.

Find the universal book link here, which should take you on to your retailer of choice – Apple, Amazon, Kobo, B&N, Smashwords, etc.

New Captain Arlon Stoddard Adventure, available January 20th

Progressing through my challenge of getting something published every month for a year, the book for January is Desert Creepers, the fourth book in my Captain Arlon Stoddard series. Pacy sci-fi adventure. I think this is my favorite of the four so far. Hoping to have another two out later in the year – Core Runners and Underworld Climbers. One is ready to format, and the other needs final editing

Desert Creepers

Captain Arlon Stoddard, hero of the spaceways, tackles anything thrown his way. Even simple mysteries on backwater planets, like Souoria.
Meanwhile, Emme Jonette, vagabond, opportunist, thief, roves Souoria’s scorching desert hunting down mythical Zeytana artifacts. With even more desperate thieves on her tail.
Simple mysteries can turn into collision courses with devastating consequences. Cover image by Keremgo.

Available from January 20th here – Universal Book Link – ebook $5.99, print $14.99

Captain Arlon Stoddard Adventures – Books 1, 2 and 3

Asteroid Jumpers

Captain Arlon Stoddard’s ageing ship the Luminou closes in on one of the Crespin system’s asteroids. Hunting for fugitives in a protected dome.
But what Arlon and his crew find will stretch their resources to the very breaking point. Fugitives become the least of their problems.
Arlon needs to figure this out. Fast. The lives of his crew hang in the balance.
Filled with rip-roaring adventure and complex intrigue, the Captain Arlon Stoddard novels cover it all.

On Amazon

Ice Hunters

Tracking and monitoring on Ardecelle–a deep frozen planet far from any sign of civilization–should be straightforward for experienced researchers like Commander Bea Calder and her tough crew. Getting lost should never happen.
With failing equipment and lost communications they need urgent help. Which is where Captain Arlon Stoddard and his crew should be able to help.
But then, Ardecelle has a few surprises of its own.
With death, danger and disaster, the Captain Arlon Stoddard stories have it all. “Ice Hunters” finds the captain and his crew focusing on a small important task the might just hold revelations for the whole of human occupied space.

On Amazon

Ship Tracers

Finding killers hiding among the crevices and crags of cold dead asteroids challenges Captain Arlon Stoddard’s crew in whole new ways.
Far out in the Corrin system, the asteroid Nankong has thousands of hiding places. Locating the culprits will take all their skills and test their wits.
Especially when the asteroid deals out a surprising detail about how many people it has hidden away.
Mystery and adventure and exotic locales, the Captain Arlon Stoddart stories have it all. “Ship Tracers” expands the tale of the crew into whole new territories.

On Amazon

In other news, there’s more new music out from both Venus Vulture and Shadows on the snow. I’ll post links and details soon, I hope.

Still struggling with the new (well, not that new now) WordPress ‘Blocks’ system for writing these blogs. I yearn for simplicity. I get that it’s way more powerful and does some clever things, but I still, yeah, struggle. All of the above is using blocks, so I guess I’m very slowly getting there. Should do more posts, I suppose, so that I learn it faster.

There will be more fiction – a preorder for a new short novel is prepped for February – Raphael Marooned – and more music later in the year.

Take care. I know it’s challenging out there. Let’s hope for a pretty great 2021. Gotta be better than 2020, right?

Three New Books

I have three new books out since I last got around to posting here (I really should post more often, I’m sure, but you know, the pandemic seems to take up a lot of my headspace). Oh, and WordPress, wonderful as they are, have changed their system for writing posts – something very clever called “blocks” which I find exhausting and challenging to wrestle into shape. Ah well.

Anyway, on to the books:

The first book is the YA sci fi novel Pirates, which is the second novel in the Matti-Jay and Dub Adventures series (following Good Ship Hartford, from earlier this year). There will be a third book The Great Wall of Endemo, out later this year. And that will be followed by a fourth, Blast Crater on Endemo. That one will be out sometime next year because I still have to write it.

The second new release is One Degree Below Freezing, which is a kind of companion volume to Landslide Country, which came out a couple of months ago. Both are collections of my contemporary or even literary stories. One Degree Below Freezing is due out on September 20th.

The  third is Hunting Shellot, another science fiction adventure novel. “Cody Wexland polices the galaxy…” That releases on October 20th. Available for preorder now. I’ll do another post closer to that date (assuming I can wrestle WordPress into shape).

All three books are priced at $5.99 for ebook and between $8.99 and $18.99 for print (One Degree Below Freezing is slim and Hunting Shellot is bigger). 

I may have mentioned earlier about a loss of momentum with writing. This started when I was traveling last year, which is kind of to be expected, with limited time to get words down, but it continued after. And then, as you’ve likely heard, there was a pandemic, which I struggled to wrap my head around, and so the writing still didn’t pick up. I was lucky to hit a thousand words a day (when you’ve been averaging over 1500, that’s a noticeable drop). And that was with the writing of posts for ProWritersWriting.com included in the count.

I’m happy to say that things have ramped themselves up once more. Better than before. I’m back to hitting more like 1600 – 1700 words a day, just on the fiction.

What happened? Well, that’s a longer tale for another post, but the precis is that I’m having another go at writing thrillers with one of those take-no-prisoners action hero drifters. It might be derivative, it might be corny, but the key for me is that I’m having fun. I write to entertain myself, and I wonder if through the trip I lost track of that and ended up writing for some other reason (who knows what?). Now, I’m back to having fun. I’m thinking next year might be the year of the thriller, as I start releasing these books. I’m lousy at marketing, but maybe some readers will find them and be as entertained in the reading as I have been in the writing of them.

Thanks for reading.