Definitely a step in the right direction! Did you use the monopod? As someone else pointed out, that's really not stable enough for longer exposures like this. If I had my choice, I would prefer to see this shot done on a tripod with the aperture stopped down just a bit more. Most lenses have sort of a sweet spot where they are sharpest, maybe around f/8? I think this is a far better image. I agree the flames are overexposed but overall a much better shot. The one thing I noticed is that the focus seems just a bit soft, but maybe a smaller aperture would help with that. Or maybe using a tripod would help.For the Balloons my settings were ISO 500 F5.0 1/5.
Also, even if you don't plan to buy an editing program right now, I would suggest shooting in RAW or RAW + Jpeg so you'll have the files to mess with later when you do get better software.
You asked about RoL. I think you have no choice there. You're going to have to shoot with the 1.8 at a fairly high ISO. Shooting movement in low light really requires a fast lens.