An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse

September 12th, 2014

The Red: First LightOver the past few months, many of you have asked Whatever happened to The Red: Trials? This was the sequel to my 2013 self-published novel The Red: First Light and had been scheduled to publish last May. It has not been published (yet) and now I’m finally free to say why. So here’s the story:

Last spring I got to talking with my long-time agent. Naturally, we hadn’t had much business with each other since I started self-publishing, but one thing led to another, he read The Red: First Light, loved it, and asked if he could auction that book along with Trials, and an as-yet-unwritten final novel in the trilogy.

I thought about it. I talked the idea over with my husband. I added up what First Light had already earned, and I estimated what I might expect to earn in the next year or two. The finances convinced me: an auction was worth trying, so long as it was a walk-away deal. My agent agreed: if I didn’t get an offer I liked, I would continue on my own.

In fact, I planned to continue as before, publishing The Red: Trials according to the original schedule, but during the auction period I was asked to hold off on releasing it. On reflection that seemed a reasonable request, so I agreed. It was a gamble though, because I was giving up a wonderful publicity opportunity. Fortunately, the gamble proved worthwhile.

The big news: Now that the contract has been signed, I am very pleased to announce that The Red series has been acquired by Joe Monti, Executive Editor at Saga Press, which is an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Joe has been very enthusiastic, and I am all approving of the marketing direction he has in mind. I see this deal as a fantastic opportunity to get my name out in the world and more widely known, which should help push sales of my backlist, which might lead to me earning a reasonable income from writing for, essentially, the first time ever. My husband has always been the primary breadwinner around here, so the opportunity to give back to him means a lot to me.

For now, The Red: First Light has been withdrawn from sale pending the release of the forthcoming Saga Press edition.

I’m not turning my back on self-publishing, but after almost five years at this game, it felt like the time had come to try something different. I think that’s the key, to keep trying new things, and this is the right thing for me, and for my family, at this time.

I do have one regret: I know I’m disappointing several of you who’ve let me know that you’re eagerly awaiting Trials. Be assured that it will be published, just a little later than initially planned and under the slightly modified title The Trials. I hope you’ll stick with me until then. And I do want to thank all the readers and reviewers who supported the original edition, and made this step forward possible for me.

I’ll be sending out my newsletter at rare intervals, as always, so if you’d like a notification of the publication date of the Saga Press edition of the series—or occasional news on my other books and writing—please sign up using the form in the right column of this page.

And in the meantime, I have a lot of other novels! If you haven’t read them yet, check out Memory or The Bohr Maker. Both are good places to start if you’d like to get to know my work.

Stand-Up Desk

September 7th, 2014

Okay, so, I haven’t posted here in a month(!)

It’s been busy here, but mostly with:
(1) writing…I am 79,000 words into a very rough draft of a new novel. I’m aiming for 100K to start, but it will be longer before it’s done.
(2) working out — that is, up until last week. Since then, writing has pretty much taken over. (The gym being closed hasn’t helped.)

At any rate, with all the writing — and not enough working out — I’ve started thinking that I’m spending too much time sitting down. Over the last couple of years there has been a lot of talk about using a stand-up desk. I’ve never felt inclined to go out and buy a new desk, but I did want to try the stand-up thing. So in good Hawaii fashion (we have to be adaptable here, on islands out in the middle of the world’s biggest ocean) I devised my own stand-up desk. And it’s one that easily converts to sit-down. And here it is:
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Strange Days

August 7th, 2014

Yesterday afternoon my big, beautiful, two-year-old iMac suddenly died. The screen went to white, and that was that.

Two hurricanes are bearing down on the islands.

And while I was looking for updates on the hurricanes this morning, we had an earthquake.

On the positive side, the earthquake was small (4.2) and generated no tsunami. The hurricanes should wind down to tropical storms by the time they reach Maui–still dangerous! But we’re grateful for every mile-per-hour drop in wind speed — and we wish all best to those on the eastern side of the Big Island who will see actual hurricane winds.

And as for the Mac? The diagnosis was a dead video card, which the local Apple store promises will arrive Friday despite the storms. We’ll see.

War Stories Ebook Now Available

August 6th, 2014

War Stories AnthologyWar Stories is an anthology of military science fiction. It began as a Kickstarter project, with the ebook released to project supporters earlier this summer. That ebook is now available for purchase from Apex Publications at a cost of $4.99USD.

My story, “Light and Shadow,” is part of War Stories. If you’d like to read the last of my short fiction that will see general publication this year, please go grab a copy. “Light and Shadow” is set in the story world of The Red: First Light although it’s a completely different story, with different characters.

There will be a print version of War Stories (trade paperback). Preorders are being taken now. If you preorder the paper edition, you’ll get the ebook as well, available for immediate download.

Ka`u Trail / Footprints

August 4th, 2014

The day after our Hilina Pali hike, we dialed things back and went on two short hikes, instead of one long, challenging one…with a visit to a winery in between.

The hike that was new for us was the “footprints” trail. It starts on Mamalahoa Highway. There’s no parking lot, just a pullout alongside the uphill-bound lane. Keep a sharp eye out for it — the trailhead is very easy to drive past, especially given the speed of traffic on this section of the road. But once you find the right place to stop, the trail is easy to follow.

map

This is an easy hike. It’s short, there’s very little elevation change, and trail conditions are mostly good. In fact, part of the trail is paved with asphalt. I think this is leftover from the days of long ago when the National Park Service had better funding.

This is called the “Footprints Trail” because at different times in past centuries, people walked through this area during severe volcanic activity, leaving footprints behind in thin layers of clay. The park service built a shelter over an example of footprints, but over the years the prints have been vandalized and aren’t really recognizable. Nevertheless, this is a great hike to see the old lava flows and the sparse vegetation on this side of the area known as the Ka`u Desert. Highly recommended if you want a short outing!

Note that the Footprints Trail meets the Ka`u Desert Trail, which runs for miles in both directions. You might want to continue on for a bit — but don’t get carried away.

And that winery? It’s Volcano Winery, of course! We liked the guava-grape wine.

This is near the start of the Footprints Trail.

This is near the start of the Footprints Trail.


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Hilina Pali Trail

August 2nd, 2014

Last week my husband Ron and I did some hiking on the Big Island. Our first venture was the Hilina Pali Trail, inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

My quick summary?
Spectacular scenery, but not a pleasant hike. I’m glad we did it, but I doubt we’ll do it again.

Here I am at the start of the Hilina Pali Trail. It's all downhill from here -- that is, until it's time to head back.

Here I am at the start of the Hilina Pali Trail. It’s all downhill from here — that is, until it’s time to head back.
Photo by Ronald J. Nagata

(There are a lot more photos at the end of this write up!)

Here’s the longer version:

Volcanoes is a huge park, with extremely varied terrain that runs from the shoreline to Mauna Loa’s 14,000-foot summit. Hilina Pali — and “pali” is the Hawaiian word for “cliff” — is an escarpment on the southeast coast. The trail begins at the end of a nine-mile-long spur road that branches off from Chain-of-Craters Road. Starting elevation is about 2,260 feet. The trail descends a steep 1,200 feet through sometimes difficult terrain. It then crosses a wide bench, slowly descending another 800 feet. From here, it’s another 200-foot drop to near sea level. Roundtrip mileage is only around eight or nine miles according to the map, but I believe it’s significantly longer than this, by another mile or even two.

This is a tough hike! Not so much for the mileage, but because of the heat, the terrain, and the monotonous landscape. The initial descent is the hardest part of the hike. It can be quite steep, and the footing is treacherous in parts. It crosses an `a`a lava flow and some of the trail is paved in `a`a “clinker”–loose stones that can easily roll out from under your boot. I skidded several times on the way down and fell down once. The trail doesn’t seem to get a lot of use. Grass and weeds are overgrowing it, so it’s often hard to see where you’re placing your feet. And it’s hot. Did I mention it’s hot?

We were actually lucky, because a very strong wind was blowing all day. Now and then while on the cliff we would find ourselves in the lee, and it was sweltering!
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Goodreads Giveaway

July 15th, 2014

War Stories Anthology…and speaking of War Stories (which I was speaking of in the last post) there is a Goodreads Giveaway in progress. Enter to win. Deadline to enter is August 1.

I have a story in this anthology — “Light and Shadow” — that takes place in the story world of The Red, although it’s not directly related to those books.

Operation Arcana

July 14th, 2014

OperationArcana250x377It’s still a long way off — not due to publish until next April — but since this blog hasn’t been overwhelmingly busy lately, I thought I’d share the just-released cover of Operation Arcana in which I will have a story.

Operation Arcana is an anthology of military fantasy stories edited by John Joseph Adams. My contribution is a short story called “The Way Home” — and it’s the last story of mine still to be published!** After this summer, I hope to write a few more.

To see a larger version of the cover, and to review the list of contributors,
visit SFSignal.com.

** I have a story in the anthology War Stories, the ebook of which has just been released to Kickstarter contributors, and will be generally available later in the year.

Book Rave: A Double Feature

June 26th, 2014

One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer
This book was recommended to me. It’s the memoir of Nathaniel C. Fick as he recounts his experiences training as a marine officer and then deploying for the first time — just before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Fick soon found himself in Afghanistan, and later at the “tip of the spear” during the invasion of Iraq. It’s a fascinating recounting of both war and the incredible challenges of becoming a successful “recon” marine.

In One Bullet Away Nathaniel C. Fick mentions a reporter who was embedded with his platoon during the Iraq invasion. That reporter was Evan Wright, the author of Generation Kill — an account of Wright’s experiences riding with one of the teams in Fick’s platoon. Generation Kill is a compelling and very graphic narrative that passes over none of the less savory aspects of infantry life during the invasion of a foreign country. It also explores the personalities of a fascinating assemblage of marines, good guys and bad guys.

Reading these two books back to back was an interesting experience. I was intrigued by the differences between Wright’s and Fick’s versions of events. Not in the raw recounting of events — both were in agreement on the facts so far as I could tell — but there were often significant differences between what each author chose to describe and discuss, and in the tone in which their recollections are presented. The rawest version of the invasion has to go to Evan Wright.

Third!

June 24th, 2014

Cover rebranding-- The Red: First LightSo this is kind of cool…

As I mentioned last month, The Red: First Light was included as one of fifteen nominees for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, a juried award presented for the best science-fiction novel of the year. It didn’t win the award — that enviable honor went to Strange Bodies by Marcel Theroux — but as it turns out, it placed third, behind Paul McAuley’s Evening’s Empires. I’m happy with that.

The link above will fall out of date as time passes, so here’s a link to a PDF announcement detailing both the John W. Campbell Memorial Award results, and the associated Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best short science fiction.