Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net


Archive for the 'Writing' Category

The Days Are Flashing Past So Quickly

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

Recent Work
My recent workdays have mostly gone toward that short story I need to write — mentioned in my last post — and an early start on revising the novel-in-progress.

Happily, I’ve now got a solid draft of the short story. Sadly, it’s a thousand words longer than I wanted it to be. Brevity is an asset in a short story, right? I mean, it’s part of the definition. I’ll go over it another time or two, but at this point it’s unlikely I’ll manage to chop out 20% of it. Oh well.

As for the novel, I finally put together a detailed timeline for the story world. Yay, me!

What’s that? Well, yes, it would be more logical to create a timeline before writing the story, but when I’m starting something new, I find it’s usually best just to plunge right in before fear has time to freeze my forward progress.

The State of the Union
In political news, I was relieved to see Alabama reject their loathsome Republican senate candidate. It feels like a step back from the abyss. On the other hand, almost half of Alabama voters found this wretch to be worthy of representing them, so I see this as only a reprieve. No telling just yet if the tide will really turn.

Here’s a post from last year on pessimism.

Year-End Lists
Lots of publications, as well as individual reviewers, like to put together lists of their favorite books at the end of each year. My work hasn’t made any of the big lists (NYT, NPR, etc.). We can assume this is because they never read my work. 🙂 But here are a couple of lists you might enjoy.

“Featured Futures” has a list of favorite online short science fiction. Yes, my Tor.com story is included, but there are links to lots of other stories too. Check it out! I’m going to.

Reviewer Paul Weimer, who writes for both Tor.com and Barnes & Noble, among others, has put together a post on some of his favorite novels from 2017. What I really like about this (besides that he included The Last Good Man!) is the uniquely descriptive categories he’s using. Check it out here.

Progress

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

Today I declared the current novel-in-progress to be a complete first draft. There will be lots of cleanup and revision to follow, but for now, Huzzah!

I’m also over 9,000 words into a no-longer-short story. This one was intended for an anthology, but it’s way past the word limit for that and it’s only going to get longer. So I’ve put it aside for now, though I hope to finish it sometime in the next couple of months.

Meanwhile, I still owe a story for that anthology, so that project will now be priority one.

After that, it will be revisions on the novel I just finished, and then on to a planned sequel. I’m making an effort to worry less and write more. So far, so good.

Science Fiction World + German Audiobooks

Monday, December 4th, 2017

Science Fiction World is the premier science fiction magazine in China. “The Martian Obelisk” is my third story to be published there in translation. I just received my contributor copies today. See the cover below, along with the illustrated start of the story. (Click the cover for a larger image).

Science Fiction World 10.2017 with The Martian Obelisk

“The Martian Obelisk” was originally published last July at Tor.com. You can read it there online — in English!

And for German speakers, the final volume of Red trilogy is coming soon in audio!

Random Post

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

I feel like I should be posting here more often, but most of my time these days is going towards writing, followed by all the other daily essentials of life.

So what’s going on with the writing? Well, the end is in sight on the initial draft of a new novel. This will be a short novel compared to most of my work. I’m hoping the final will be around 75,000 words. It will also be the first of an anticipated trilogy of similarly short novels, so we’ll see how that goes. I’d like to get book 2 drafted in the next few months. How’s that for ambition?

It looks like I need to get back to promoting the books…
Before and after The Last Good Man came out, a huge percentage of my time went toward promotion — and not much toward writing. I started backing off on the promo activities in September and by October I wasn’t doing much at all. I don’t think I’ve done more than tweet about the book a few times in November — and wow, have sales fallen off over the past two or three weeks. And not just on my newest, but on the other books too. Yes, it’s a bit discouraging. Isn’t “momentum” supposed to kick in at some point? Heh.

There’s a school of thought in indie publishing that the way to grow your career is to have a new novel come out every three months. Deep down, I suspect this might be true, but that’s far, far faster than I can get a book out the door. Oh well. At least I’m having fun with the writing … which is why I don’t want to shift focus back to promotion! 😉

The New Writing Schedule

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

At the start of the month I mentioned that I’d undertaken a new writing schedule:

Writing more fiction is my top priority and I’ve already adjusted my schedule to accommodate that. My plan is to ignore email, Twitter, and the news until at least noon. Instead, I’ll start my day by diving straight into writing…

I’ve stuck to this new schedule since then and I’m loving it. Words are still not pouring forth in a torrent, but I’m so much more focused on the writing, on the storytelling, and for me that’s the important thing. When I’m immersed in the words, progress is going to be made.

I’ve gone back to the novel I started earlier this year. Much of the past few days has been spent getting my notes in order and plotting the remaining events that take place in this volume, along with some of the main action in the next, but I’ve also been slowly extending the word count.

A side effect of this schedule, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, is that I’ve been spending a lot less time on social media, Twitter in particular. It’s better to be writing. Right?

Finished a Short Story

Sunday, November 5th, 2017

Doubt and discouragement have weighed on me these past few years and sapped much of the fun of writing. The direct result is that my productivity has declined. It’s been taking me longer and longer to write, and I’m not nearly as good at sticking to a project and finishing it as I used to be. For example, right now I have at least three novels/novellas in various stages of development and a long short story well begun but far from finished.

But I’m happy to report that since attending the recent workshop, I’m feeling better about this whole writing gig. I returned home with a new sense of direction, with my optimism refreshed, and with a renewed determination to write more.

I decided to jump on the task of writing more while still at the workshop. I came up with a new idea for a story and promptly set to work on it, writing the beginning at the workshop, another long section on the flight home, and finishing it over this past week thanks to my new writing schedule.

At 7,200 words this is a long short story, but no longer than it needs to be. 🙂

I’ll read it over at least one more time, but as of this morning I’m calling it done — which is an incredible relief. This is the first short story I’ve finished this year.

Next on the agenda: Back to work on the story I was laboring over before heading to the mainland. My goal is to have that done by the end of the week. Fingers crossed!

New Short Story: “Region Five”

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

Out Today!

I’ve got a new short story in the anthology Infinite Stars, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt and published by Titan Books. Here’s the official description:

Infinite Stars is the definitive collection of original short stories by today’s finest authors of space opera and military science fiction, writing new adventures set in their most famous series. This unparalleled anthology also features past masterpieces by famous authors whose works defined the genre, making this a “must-have” book.

My own contribution is a story called “Region Five,” set in the Red story world. It doesn’t involve any characters from the novels, but it does follow a Linked Combat Squad. They’ve been assigned to peacekeeping duty in a tumultuous megacity, but everything has gone wrong…

Here’s the publisher’s UK website, and here’s the editor’s website with more information and buy-links in US stores.

Checking In

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

I haven’t posted in a while. What with hurricanes, earthquakes, politics, nuclear war, global warming, etc., posting about a new review can seem a bit trivial, and I haven’t been inspired to write about other topics.

I have been keeping busy, though. I’ve been working on a new novel in an existing story world. I’m 44,000 words into it, which is a big enough investment that I feel like I ought to finish it. I had/have an ambition to hammer out an extremely rough draft by the time I head to the mainland in October — four weeks from now. That would be some kind of a miracle for me, but hey, you never know.

I write best when I’m confident. I tend not to write at all when I’m feeling discouraged. Not a tough-survivor trait, I know, but it is what it is. Today I’m feeling discouraged. Tomorrow will probably be better. If I could look at writing as a hobby instead of a career, I think I’d be happier — but I still need to figure out where the money is coming from.

For many years I’ve done all my writing on a Toshiba laptop. A few years ago it started having issues, so I stopped allowing it online. It’s worked great ever since then. I’ve only been using it for writing and coding ebooks, and I back up my files multiple times a day.

Two days ago I finally ordered a new laptop.

Today — a discouraging day — I decided to start my writing session by typing out all the things that are bothering me. This is something like Julia Cameron’s “morning pages” but not in longhand. I was less than two hundred words into this exercise when my old laptop crashed. System dump something or other, scary stuff. Ugh. But at least I hadn’t just written some wonderful artistic passage! And the laptop rebooted.

Being of a paranoid nature, I decided to take a snapshot of everything on the laptop’s hard drive. (I’ve done this before and like I said, I back up files frequently. But extra insurance, right?) I copied almost all the folders onto a USB stick, leaving out only a couple of things I really don’t care about. Everything, all together, came out to slightly over a gigabyte of data. Years of work. One gigabyte.

Easy to tell I never kept photos, movies, or Photoshop files on this computer.

Within a few minutes after I finished copying files, the laptop crashed again. It rebooted again, but I can take a hint. I won’t be doing anymore writing on the dear old Toshiba. Maybe I’ll fire up the old Netbook and use that until the new laptop arrives. Or I’ll use this Mac desktop, though it’s getting on in computer-years too.

Sigh.

Technology.

New Story: “The Martian Obelisk”

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

“The Martian Obelisk” is my first story for Tor.com and it’s just up today. Find it here online.

This was a story I originally wrote a few years ago, but I wasn’t happy with it. It struck me as just too grim for the times.

Since then, we have entered a much grimmer age.

Last fall I pulled the story out of a file folder, re-read it, and decided to spend a little more time working on it. After putting it through another revision, I asked Tor.com editor Ellen Datlow if she would like to see it. She agreed to take a look, and to my surprise and delight, she accepted it.

As grim as it is, “The Martian Obelisk” is also a sentimental story. On Twitter, Aimee Ogden described it as “starkly hopeful.” I think that’s right.

Illustration by Victor Mosquera.

Short Story Art

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

Coming in July from Tor.com, “The Martian Obelisk.”
Illustration by Victor Mosquera.
Acquiring editor is Ellen Datlow.