The Cly – now available

The Cly front cover thumbI seem to be lax in yelling out when I have a new book available, so I’m going to see if I can stop and just go ahead and post. Last week I mentioned my forthcoming publishing plans, including for my new novel The Cly.

I am writing and publishing a lot this year, so I guess it’s easy for me to forget to mention things in a practical, right-brained way (practical is right-brain, right?). While I’m fairly good and writing (as in, I spend a lot of time on it), I still need to learn an awful lot about marketing and business (writing is way more fun, so I spend a whole lot less time on marketing and business).

So The Cly is my longest novel in awhile – a shade under ninety thousand words. Mostly I’m clocking somewhere just north of sixty thousand. Initially I thought it would hit that shorter length, but the plot demanded more action and more resolution.

Here’s the blurb:
Tony Brock saved humanity once. But in the mess, he lost his relationship with his daughter.

Now the Cly pose a new threat. A threat that might destroy the Earth itself.
And the aliens won’t negotiate.

So Brock’s back in the thick of it. Chasing them down, and chasing the faint hope of seeing Bex one more time.

An alien invasion novel with a difference.

I should mention the wonderful cover illustrator – Luca Oleastri. Thanks for another great image.

Available from most ebook and print book retailers (ask at your local bookstore for the print version – all 500 odd pages of it).

ebook $5.99
Nook
Kobo
Smashwords
Kindle

Paperback $22.99
Amazon

The weeks ahead – publishing plans

The Cly front cover thumbRight now I’m busily preparing three books for publication. I’d like to have them all out by the end of May.

The first, my new novel, continues to trip me up. First, the title was not my working title, but that title doesn’t work. Titles trouble me (sometimes, more on that below). It seems the best one here is the name of the alien species (following Jack Vance’s novels The Dirdir and The Pnume, and doubtless many others.

Also the tag line (another thing that always trips me). “Earth on the verge of annihilation”. Sheesh, really. Well, that’s kind of what it’s about. Kind of.

And then, putting “Aurealis Award Finalist” on the cover by my name. Hmmm. It’s true, I have been a finalist for the award (lost out to Garth Nix there, so that’s okay). But is it okay to put it there when it wasn’t for this story? I guess I’ve kept it by my name, rather than by the title. And many authors do have all sorts all over their covers. Am I bragging too much there? Or in the right way? Should it say “Aurealis Award Finalist Author”? But then I’ve got “Author of Gretel” right underneath and doesn’t “author” twice in tags look silly?

Despite doing this for a few years now, I’m still second-guessing and learning and trying new things. I do like the cover – courtesy of Luca Oleastri/Innovari.

The other two books are stories, one a small collection and one a big collection. The first is titled “Celeste Without Gravity” and the other “Listen, You!”. I do like Celeste’s title (following on from above), not sure about the other.

Anyway, The Cly will be out by the end of this week, Celeste sometime next week and, all going to plan, Listen, You! the following week.

All in time and out of the way to get the next novel Athena Setting (my darling, see previous posts) out in early June.

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.

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.

 

The Root Bridges of Haemae in Aurealis

aurealis87My story “The Root Bridges of Haemae” is out now in Issue 87 of Australia’s Aurealis Magazine, edited by the renowned Dirk Strasser.

Described as “a resonant off-world story featuring a truly alien culture”, young alien Ribolee struggles with human and alien relationships.

This story made last semi-finalist in the Writers of the Future contest. I’m pleased that it’s found a home, especially with Aurealis.

The full issue includes stories by Ian Bell and Deborah Sheldon, as well as interviews and reviews. Available from Smashwords for $US2.99.

Aurealis is expanding. For a long time the publication had been restricted to submissions from Australian and New Zealand contributors, but now it’s going global.

Here’s the story’s opening:

______________________________________

Human females survive the birth of their children.

Astonishing.

Ribolee ran this revelation around in her head again and again as she walked home from their camp.

Human females survive the birth.

And not only that, they sometimes have just one child. Imagine. A single child. How could that be? How could a species come to be with such a clear hindrance to its own survival?

Around her, the jungle dripped. The midday rains had been shorter today. She liked this time of year: summer almost here, but still cooler and the rains diminishing. The full seasons were far wilder: the dry of summer when the ground became bristlrboh dion hamilling and crackly, the leaves darkened and swelled, animals howled and rushed; the wet chill of winter when the rivers burgeoned, the ground became a swamp and the rain could last for suns on end.

______________________________________

I’m lucky enough to have my story complemented by a wonderful illustration by Dion Hamill. Thanks Dion.

Conductive and Flammable in takahē

takahē 85

It’s been a little while since I’ve had any external publication news. My short story “Conductive and Flammable” has just come out in the latest issue of takahē.

Recently widowed, Beth’s dealing with a teenage son, a complicated estate and a neighbour who’s constantly burning stinky garden waste right at her back fence.

takahē has an enduring history in New Zealand literature (as you see, it’s up to issue 85) and I’m honored to be published there again. Thanks to fiction editor Karen Zelas for taking my story.

Half-year review

Well, I haven’t had much to say lately, which is fine. Very busy writing, naturally, just not so much on the blog/facebook, etc. Since the end of June has slipped by, I thought I’d do a quick review, as much for my benefit as anything.

A few publications around – “Salazar” in Perihelion, “Number Man” in SQ Mag, and “Concentration” in Landfall. It seems like a very slow year, but I’m focusing on two things: submitting to more pro and fewer semi-pro mags, and also writing fewer stories and more novels. This means there’s less stuff out there. I’ve had a few other acceptances, which I’ll announce when they arrive in stores.

Perihelionsq-mag-19-cover1LF229
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Music-wise, there have been some Shadows on the Snow releases and one Venus Vulture release.00_-_shadows_on_the_snow_400Mu cover 1Nudibranch on Zenapolae
I don’t think that’s all of them – I have trouble keeping up with Kendall and his sheer enthusiasm!

Check here for A Thousand Winters Against the World. Others can be found at archive.org, Bandcamp, Kruk Records and Zenapolae.
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With the self/indie-publishing, I’ve put up quite a few items, including three novels (one horror, one literary and one sci-fi). I’ve got a few more in various states of readiness (and some more in my head). These show up at smashwords, Amazon and other ebook/physical book retailers.
the room pod 6x9 5sw second run cover 3Arlchip Burnout cover 10 smallWalking Gear2b
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The business of writing-words on the page-has progressed well too. Despite a slower time while travelling in Japan, I’ve still completed a quarter million words for the first six months of the year. I guess that’s what writing every day (even while travelling) does.

Better yet, I’ve completed more words so far this year. That is, items proofed, corrected and formatted. Over 300,000 words. Over the past few years I’ve let some items sit around (including a 92,000 word novel), but I’m feeling more onto it this year. It’s all very well to write, but if it’s not finished and submitted/published then I’m not satisfied. It feels good to be getting some of last year’s (and the previous year’s) stories completed.

Similarly, I’ve published more – 340,000 words so far. Yes most of that is indie/self published. Likewise, it feels good to have the writing out there.

________________________________________________________________

For the next six months. More of the same. I’d like to get another five to seven novels out. I’ve promised readers The Eye book three in The Hidden Dome series, so I need to write that (I expect to finish the draft of the current novel in the next few days, then get to writing The Eye). I have a few other novels fully drafted, just needed that final tinkering. That does mean more proof-reading/reader feedback, and more formatting.

The main thing, though: I’m having a ball. Thanks for reading.

Walking Gear image © Artem Popov | Dreamstime.com
Arlchip Burnout image © Kuan Leong Yong | Dreamstime.com
Used with permission

To Take a Breath – new Triple V/Self-pub story out.

to take a breath cover

A while ago I wrote a longish short story (8400 words), science fiction, set well into the future and sent it off to all the appropriate pro markets. It came back each time, sometimes with a form rejection, sometimes with a little personal note but still a rejection. So I’m putting it up through my own Triple V imprint with some trepidation.

You see, it’s about an astronaut running out of air. I haven’t seen Gravity yet, but the previews seem to have given the game away a bit too much (I’m going over the weekend so I’ll know more by Monday). I know my story’s very different from the movie (near-future vs. far future, international space station vs. space wreck, near-Earth-orbit vs. light years away, George Clooney vs. minor character, etc.), but still kind of feel like I’m ripping off the trope a bit, even though I wrote this before I’d even heard about Gravity.

Still, to assuage that guilt a fraction, for readers of this blog/facebook post, here’s a code to get it free. (I know there aren’t many of you, but feel free to pass the code on… it expires in a month anyway: Gravity will be fading from the theatres and I will feel less guilty).

Go to the ebook at Smashwords and enter the code FY77L. You have to be a member of Smashwords, but I think most of you are already. Let me know if not – I’ll send you the epub or mobi or whatever. You can preview 20% anyway with or without joining.

Promotional price: $0.00
Coupon Code: FY77L
Expires: November 24, 2013

It’s also on Kindle, and will show up on Nook, Sony, etc. soon.

Here’s the opening:

Clare Benjamin knew she had three minutes to live. The suit’s oxygen gauge read eighteen liters, atmospheric effective. Fifty breaths. She was already on the emergency tank.

She gave the strobe a flash and saw the way ahead. Conduits and wires. Some of them were damaged, pointing stiff and sharp edges into the narrow passages.
Behind the conduits the pressure walls might be intact. Probably were. She’d felt a thrumming in the hull when she’d pulled herself along through the evacuated hold. Somewhere inside there was an engine running. It might just be some automatic function, but it might also be a converter sustaining atmosphere to some sections of the wrecked ship. If she could get inside an atmospheric room, then she could buy some time to figure out her next move.

“You find it yet?” Suz said through the comms.

Clare pulled herself along another meter in the darkness. She fired the strobe again. The gap looked even more vicious up close. Like the serrated jaw of a deep sea monster ready to ingest her.

“Clare? You got an exit yet?”

“I’m here. No. I didn’t find it.” Suzanne Memphis was waiting outside the liner in their eighty ton tender, the Mercy Me.

“You need to move, girl.”

“Oh? Thanks for the reminder.” Two months ago, they’d been salvaging from The New Jersey, a station at Cannon’s Star, busted and orbiting Cooltown, the system’s biggest gas giant. The station had been shut down by its owners. Suz and Clare’s clients had lost all their personal property being shipped through. Suz had gotten herself lost. The memory still made Clare blanch.

continue reading at Smashwords

The Tunnel – preview experiment

Just trying a little experiment with ways of letting my novel The Tunnel be out in the world. Issuu is a cool way of publishing documents. Magazines seem to favour it, but then I discovered that I could publish an excerpt from my novel in a relatively straightforward way. So with a click here you can read the first 18 chapters free. Yes, this is slightly stolen from James Patterson, but I’m still learning about marketing and so forth.

At the page there’s a link to buy a print version for $11.09. I don’t know what that’s about (you can buy a print version of the whole book – 100 chapters – for $14.00 from Amazon… why buy just a segment?). Still I hope you enjoy reading a few chapters of it this way.