Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net


Archive for the 'Writing' Category

io9.com Book Club and Progress Report

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

King ProteasHappy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

I’m continuing to revise the new novel, and the word count is growing steadily. My target, when I start a novel, is 100,000 words. Epic fantasy writers would laugh at that as being so short, but to my mind it’s a good, solid length. Of course, I almost always overshoot that goal, and I’m sure it’s going to happen again with the new book. Right now I’m at 95,000 words, and I have no doubt at all that I’ll be well past the 100K mark before I’m done.

In other news, io9.com has decided to reboot the io9 Book Club. I was thrilled when I found out yesterday that the first book to read and discuss is The Red. The idea is to encourage people to read the book over the next month, and then to talk about it online. In early June I’ll stop by at io9.com to answer reader questions. More information here. I’m hoping for some interesting discussion.

Work-In-Progress Report

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

owlWhen I look back over the past year, I’m a little perplexed at what I’ve done with the time. I feel like I’ve been frantically busy, but I don’t have a lot of new material to show for it. Since turning in Going Dark, I’ve managed to finish only one short story, and a really rough draft of a new novel.

Part of the issue, of course, was that all three novels in The Red trilogy were released last year, and that meant a lot of time spent on publicity (and anxiety… I’m good at anxiety). I also had a really hard time letting go emotionally of the trilogy and moving on to the new novel. It’s a situation I’ve faced before. After finishing my novel Vast, it took a long time for me to really get into writing Limit of Vision. But I got there eventually, and I feel like I’ve finally hit my stride with the new novel.

What turned things around for me was getting an outside opinion. I don’t think I’ve ever before shown a partial manuscript to anyone, on the grounds that I don’t want to be so discouraged by a negative response that I abandon the project. But I’m older now, more experienced, thicker skinned — and besides, I’d reached the point where I was spinning my wheels. So in early March I sent the manuscript off to Judith Tarr, who edited all three volumes of The Red trilogy. She evaluated what I had, made some nice comments, and pointed out where she thought the story was most lacking — and the feedback has really helped. I’ve been writing steadily since then. I went back to the beginning, and started filling out the lean parts, and dealing with all the figure-this-out-later notes, and progress is being made.

Some of this involves new scenes, but some is just detail work. A few days ago I was dealing with the question of what size helicopter was needed, how many seats were available, and who was sitting where. Today I’ve been racking my brain to get the timeline right. Since I’ve got characters operating on opposite sides of the planet, I need to know the day/night cycles, and how long it takes to get from point A to point B. I’m not sure how concerned readers are with this sort of thing, but it matters to me. 🙂

Anyway, I’ve been making changes in my writing routine in the hope of writing more, and writing faster. One of those changes is to try to do frequent Work-In-Progress Reports like this one. Maybe that will keep me accountable to myself!

Edit: Speaking of Judith Tarr…I just found out she’s holding a sale on editorial services, among other things. Find the details here.

The Heroine Question

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016

I wrote this last year, as part of a series hosted by writer Alyx Dellamonica called The Heroine Question. Participants are asked three standard questions, and one bonus. I meant to re-post this on my own blog LAST YEAR, but…I seem to have forgotten. Here it is now.

(1) Is there a literary heroine on whom you imprinted as a child? A first love, a person you wanted to become as an adult, a heroic girl or woman you pretended to be on the playground at recess? Who was she?

So many details of childhood have faded into the mists of time, but one literary heroine I clearly remember is Laura Ingalls Wilder. I loved the Little House On The Prairie books and read every volume our library had on the shelf. These were adventure stories, telling of a life alien to me but one that I could understand—and I’m still drawn to adventure stories. But I didn’t dream of being Laura. Though the Little House books were based on real life, it was another real-life woman who truly captured my young imagination.

On the pages of National Geographic and in Time/Life nature books I read about the biologist Jane Goodall and her work studying chimpanzees in their natural habitat—living in the rainforest and becoming accepted by these creatures that were so much like us but so different. That, I decided, was what I wanted to do as an adult. And while I ultimately went in a different direction, Jane Goodall’s presence in my imagination surely encouraged an interest in biology and natural history that I still possess.

(2) Can you remember what it was she did or what qualities she had that captured your affections and your imagination so strongly? (more…)

Story Contest:
Envisioning the Third Offset

Friday, March 25th, 2016

Last fall I participated in a free ebook anthology sponsored by The Atlantic Council’s Art of Future War Project. Now I get to be a judge in the next Art of Future War Project story challenge. If you like to write short stories, this might be for you.

The competition is looking for unpublished short stories on themes relating to the US Department of Defense’s “Third Offset Strategy” which is concerned with human-machine collaboration within the military. Check out the website for all the contest details, and note that “The winners of the best written and best visual art entries will receive a $500 honorarium.” Not bad, for a 4,000-word story.

The due date is April 18, less than a month away, so no procrastinating…

Other judges in the contest are Chris Martin, author of Engines of Extinction and Modern American Snipers, and Andrew Liptak who edited the War Stories anthology. Max Brooks, the author of World War Z, will be the final judge.

Awards: What are they good for?

Friday, March 4th, 2016

The Trials by Linda Nagata, UK editionIn a word: Publicity.

With thousands of books published every month (and all those earlier books still available, if not in print, then in ebook form) what are the odds of any particular book being noticed? Well, the odds are not good.

On occasion I will hear that “awards don’t matter” and for many titles this is true. They sell abundantly regardless of short lists. But I can say from personal experience that being short-listed for a significant award really does increase a book’s visibility, and I think it’s a safe bet that winning a significant award increases visibility exponentially. So, since I really don’t want to see my books quietly fade away, I’ve made it a point to try to get them considered for awards.

Going Dark by Linda Nagata, UK editionWith the Hugos and the Nebulas there’s not a lot you can do beyond saying “Hey, voters, please consider my book.” With other awards, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, for example, the publisher has to send print copies of a qualified book to a jury of judges.

All three of the awards I just mentioned are open to all novels published in their area of interest in the award year, regardless of who the publisher is … in other words, they are technically open to self-published novels.

The Arthur C. Clarke Award
Much to my disappointment, another major award, the Arthur C. Clarke award, is not open to self-published novels. The Clarke Award is a juried award for best science fiction novel published in the United Kingdom, but when I asked if I could send in the UK editions of The Trials and Going Dark, I was told those books did not qualify because they had been published under my own imprint, Mythic Island Press LLC. (The North American edition is published by Saga Press/Simon & Schuster.)

Yes, I was disappointed, but I am not criticizing. The award administrators have a very challenging job as it is, and it’s certainly up to them to set the rules. I was also told that they are continuing to review their policy regarding self-published submissions.

Unlike most awards that I’m aware of, the Clarke Award releases a list of those books that have been submitted for consideration. This list of novels was published today. It includes 113 titles — with just 33% by women.

I would have loved to increase that percent just a little! Ah well.

I do encourage you to read the commentary that follows the list of books. There is some interesting analysis and a brief discussion on the focus of the award, and on the question of “What is science fiction?”

Links & News

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Just a few odds and ends…

* For those who write, Baen Books is holding a short story contest. They’re looking for near-future, humans-in-space themes. Find the details here. Deadline is February 1!

* The New Yorker takes a look at STX Entertainment in their article “The Mogul of the Middle.” It’s a long read, but a fascinating look at how thumbs-up/down decisions get made in the movie business.

* A photo essay on “The Internet” by Peter Garritano, with some background explanation over at The Atlantic.

* It was a nice end-of-the-year for The Red Trilogy. io9.com included it on their list The Very Best Science Fiction And Fantasy Books Of 2015. Bookworm Blues included The Red on her “The Epic Best Books of 2015 List.” Rob Bedford, who reviews for SFF World, put The Red at the top of his “Favorite 2015 Science Fiction Novels.” And Annalee Newitz included the trilogy in her Ars Technica list “All the science fiction books you’ll want to binge read over the holidays.” 🙂

* It’s been many years since I’ve read Dan Simmons Hyperion. I’m revisiting it now in audiobook format, and so far this edition is EXCELLENT. I’ll probably have more to say on it when I’m done, but at this point I’m hugely impressed both by Dan’s story and the production.

Writing Goals For 2016

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Happy New Year!

Since 2011 I’ve posted an annual list of writing goals that I want to accomplish in the ensuing year. “Goals” in this sense are things that I can accomplish through my own efforts and perseverance, as opposed to “dreams” which require the cooperation of others. So, for example, writing a short story is a goal, selling that story to Tor.com is a dream.

So here are my writing goals for 2016:

1. FINISH the current novel-in-progress, where “finish” means it’s been revised and polished and is in my agent’s hands. I’m really hoping to achieve this by the end of the summer. Right now I’m 35 to 40 percent through a rough first draft. This is going to be a stand-alone novel, not a series, so when it’s done, it’s done.

2. START the next novel, where “start” means figure out the general idea behind it, and develop a rough outline with a list of characters. Bonus points for actually writing the opening.

3. PUBLISH a second short story collection. This is going to be a round up of all my short fiction published since 2012. Several of these stories are available to read online, but I might as well consolidate them all in a single volume. And since I have absolutely nothing else scheduled for publication in 2016, I might as well go ahead with this. It will be published by my own imprint, Mythic Island Press LLC.

4. Write a short story in THE RED story world. This story has been requested for an anthology that I’d really like to participate in, so odds are good it will happen.

5. Write at least one hard-SF short story unrelated to anything else I’ve done.

6. Write at least one novella set in an existing story world. This is an unmet 2015 goal, that I want to try again.

Okay! I think I can do this…so long as I don’t squander too much time on Twitter. 🙂

What are your writing goals?

Writing Goals for 2015:
The Assessment

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

Since 2011, I’ve been publishing a list of my writing goals for the year, and at the end of the year I take a look at that list and assess how I did at meeting those goals. So it’s time to assess 2015.

I want to start by saying that in 2014 I had some lofty goals — and I failed to meet several of them. So in 2015 I scaled down my ambitions. Here’s how I did:

1. Revise and polish the third novel of THE RED trilogy so that it’s ready for publication.

Yes. Done. And Going Dark has been published!

2. Write at least one novella set in an existing story world.

Nope! As I mentioned last year, I really want to write a novella. I still do. I like the idea of a complete, fully developed, novel-like story that can be read in just a few sessions, and I even know what story I want to write. Maybe in 2016.

I’ve only ever written one novella, “Goddesses,” which is available in my short fiction collection of that name.

3. Write at least two short stories unrelated to anything else I’ve done.

(more…)

War Stories from the Future

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

War Stories From The FutureA new ebook anthology is just out, and it’s FREE. War Stories from the Future is published by the Atlantic Council. It’s part of their Art of Future War Project, whose mission statement reads:

The Atlantic Council’s Art of Future Warfare project is driven by the Scowcroft Center on International Security’s mandate to advance thinking and planning for the future of warfare. The project’s core mission is to cultivate a community of interest in works and ideas arising from the intersection of creativity and expectations about how emerging antagonists, disruptive technologies, and novel warfighting concepts may animate tomorrow’s conflicts.

My contribution to the anthology is a reprint of my short story “Codename: Delphi,” but the anthology includes original stories commissioned from Ken Liu, Madeline Ashby, Jamie Metzl, Mathew Burrows, and project director August Cole, co-author of the World War III thriller Ghost Fleet. And there’s a reprinted story from David Brin. New voices are also included in the anthology, in the form of contest-winning stories from Alec Meden, Nikolas Katsimpras, and Ashley Henley.

Find more information and download links here. Available in EPUB and MOBI (Kindle) formats.

Publishers Weekly: Best Books of 2015

Friday, October 30th, 2015

The Red - Saga EditionBack in May I was thrilled when The Red was named to the Publishers Weekly list “Best Summer Books 2015 — SF/ Fantasy/ Horror.”

I’m even more astonished now, because today the Publishers Weekly reviewers have posted their “Best Books of 2015.” Only six books are on the science fiction, fantasy, and horror list, and The Red is one of them. This is certainly a once-in-a-lifetime honor!

Other books on PW’s SFF best of the year list are the collection Ghost Summer: Stories by Tananarive Due, The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, Uprooted by Naomi Novik (I just started listening to this one on audio book), The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley, and The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson. Congratulations to all!

Scroll through the list here.