Tag Archives: smashwords

Tombs Under Vaile – How to actually buy it.

tuv smI 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

Chapter One

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.

Mostly.

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.

Seven days.

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.

 

Chapter Two

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.”

“‘Been’?”

“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.”

 

Chapter Three

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.

Not ever.

“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).

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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.

First try at publishing a double-header


As my self-publishing empire lags and stutters along, I’ll keep trying new things. What a learning curve. Following ideas from Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch with their publishing arm WMG Publishing I’ve published two stories – Pipe Dive and Skinny Joe together, as one package, but as two separate units one with each story as the lead title. The content of each is the same, just in reversed order. They are linked stories – both set on the same world, with the same group of researchers (though in these two stories there’s no character crossover, there are, and will be, in other stories).

As you can see, I’m also working with covers – one is self-designed, the other is a commercial/professional illustration. I’ve bumped up the font size and word layout while trying to retain the general Triple V Publishing look. I noticed on some covers (like Xuento), the author name almost vanishes. Spreading “Monaghan” across the width, then tucking “Sean” in above, nestled between the “M” and the “h” risers makes the name visible at even thumnail size. I’ve simplified the covers too – no tagline, not even the Tripe V logo (perhaps that’s a mistake, we’ll see).

I’ve worked on my blurbs too – trying to be active and succinct. I think next year I’ll look at taking Dean Wesley Smith’s course on writing pitches and blurbs. This is how they look at the moment:

Skinny Joe
A Daron story. Skinny Joe’s on a deadline. And he can’t wait to get home to see Paula. But when he triggers something in the depths of the structure, it looks like he’ll be lucky to get out alive. A short story by Sean Monaghan, author of The Tunnel and Rotations. Includes bonus story “Pipe Dive”.

Pipe Dive
A Daron story. Pieter thought divorcing Mel would have been the end of it. Now he’s trapped in an artificial cavern deep in the structure. With Mel. And there’s no way to get back. A short story by Sean Monaghan, author of The Tunnel and Rotations. Includes bonus story “Skinny Joe”.

Buy them here: Skinny Joe and Pipe Dive. Soon on Kindle, B&N and so on.

Skinny Joe was originally published in Infinite Windows, and this is the first publication of Pipe Dive. That’s a new experiment – most of the Sean Monaghan fiction I’ve self-published has been of previously published works.

Above the noise

I’ve been experimenting (if that’s the right word, since I lack a control run) with indie publishing some of my previously published stories that I hold the rights to, as well as some new stories. To begin with I’m putting the stories up with Smashwords since their system is fairly straightforward, and it pushes the items out to other books stores.

Yesterday I uploaded a new story, under a pen name. By today there have already been another 200 or so items uploaded to smashwords (their site loads chronologically, so the latest uploaded item comes to the top – it’s easy to see how quickly you get bumped down the list). How do I, as many writers are saying, rise above all that noise?

Here’s how I see it, with my limited experience. Most of those items aren’t competing with mine – there are self-help books, music scores, young adult novels, romances, free how-to guides and so on. Lots of the rest have lousy covers (sorry to those enthusiastic writers, but seriously, the cover can make a difference). My covers do feel a little rough, but I think I’m doing an okay job with them (especially Lizard Brain). Of the rest, there’s often a dreadful description – something like “Gwilliam the forest gnome makes posies for the fairy picnic, but he’s lost his hat and the kettle’s on the boil so he has to hurry home”. I’m still learning about writing a good blurb, but I want to write something that gets a reader’s interest, not just glosses over the story.

I’m learning and practising, and I think that’s part of the rising above – keep striving, keep writing better, keep thinking. I don’t know why, but an odd story I put up last week, with a very rough cover (low resolution and lumpy), and a quick description is my second-most downloaded (samples only, sales are slim, as in zero) item: more than some items that have been up for more than a month. There might be some things to learn there, I think.

Disclosure – 3am Persledt Eight = 14 sample views since December 13th, Suitcase Nuke = 13 sample views since November 10th. I think Suitcase Nuke is a better title, but who knows. I take another look at the blurb. Maybe that pen name works better than my real name. This is all experimenting anyway.