Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Archive for February, 2011

Book As Event

Monday, February 28th, 2011

The most useful post on writing that I’ve read in recent times is here: Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: Book as Event

Thank you Dean Wesley Smith!

I don’t agree with absolutely everything in this post of course, but most of it makes perfect sense to me. The core thesis is, and I quote, “Myth: All books need to be events, need to be something special.

That was my belief for essentially my entire writing career. If the story wasn’t big/meaningful/ground-breaking/a potential home run, don’t bother starting it.

This worked for me for a while. I produced six novels that I’m still quite proud of. And then all of a sudden I wasn’t producing novels anymore. I started developing novel ideas several times, but either the ideas went nowhere, or I could see no way of doing the research, or the idea just wasn’t big enough to bother with.

Then I read the article cited above, recognized myself, and decided to try something new.

In mid-December (yes, this past December) I spent a couple of writing sessions developing a plot for a story idea that had just popped into my head. It’s an off-the-wall kind of fantasy in a vaguely medievalist setting. Editor self sneered: “You have got to be kidding me.” New experimental self replied: “Leave me alone. It’s just a story.”

The goal was a 60,000-word novel in three months, aiming at 1000 words a day. (FYI: words-per-day math follows its own obscure rules.)

My first serious writing session was on December 21, but I only managed another couple of sessions before year’s end. In January I got serious, and started writing nearly every day.

I hit a wall on January 27th. Here’s the blog post: For Me, Writing Fast ≠ Writing Well

February 24 was another roadblock. I spent most of this day re-plotting the last part of the story. By the evening I had short, very sketchy versions of every remaining scene in the book.

From there everything just worked. As of yesterday I had the last chapter in place and my word count was 60,300—so close to my goal it astonishes me.

I still have holes to fill in, but not a whole lot of them. I still need to fix some terminology. And yes, I will read it all over and clean it up. Oh, and no one else has read a word of it yet.

But the point is, I wrote a novel in slightly over two months, I had a lot of fun doing it, and I like the result.

So again—Thank you Dean Wesley Smith!

Soundtrack for a Morning Jog

Monday, February 28th, 2011

My iPod nano is stuffed with music spanning four decades and sometimes the random “life soundtracks” it puts together amuse me. This is what I heard this morning, with no skips until noted.

Walk a bit to warm up….
Best of My Love – The Eagles
Start run at bottom of Hill #1:
Sunday Bloody Sunday – U2
December – Collective Soul
Omegaman – The Police
Precisely at the top of Hill #1, switch to slow & quiet for Downhill #1:
Quicksand – Incubus
To Turn You On – Roxy Music
Stadium Arcadium – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Somewhere around here, turn around and head back up–Hill #2:
Strange Desire – The Black Keys
Hard to Concentrate – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Give Your Heart Away – The Black Keys
Need something to get me to the top of the hill…[skip][skip]…Ah…
Pain Redefined – Disturbed
Last long downhill:
Elevation – U2
And to take me home:
Lovesong – The Cure

I should probably get around to loading some of the newer stuff…

Amazon Euro Pricing

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

One of my twitter friends who lives in Europe and buys ebooks from Amazon US has noted some curious pricing. In his experience a title priced at $9.99 in the US sells for $13.79 (in US dollars) when purchased from the Netherlands or Portugal.

On inquiry, Amazon explained that:
[1] Price can vary due to publishers granting different rights to different countries.
[2] “…a number of factors, including the initial publisher price.”
And “Using Kindle If You Live Outside the United States”

(I feel compelled to note that my novels are NOT used in the pricing example above. They are currently priced between $4.99 and $5.95, but they still experience a price differential.)

Googling turned up this two year old article on pricing differences which seems to point the finger at cost of doing business and cost of data transfer:

But there’s one more interesting fact in all this. Amazon pays the author or publisher a 70% royalty on ebooks sold in the USA, the UK, and recently, in Canada. But for those books sold to other countries the author gets only 35%–and that’s of the list price, not the higher price.

This seems like an area where competition is going to inspire change very soon.

Valentine’s Day & The US Army

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

The importance of Valentine’s Day has definitely gone up in our family.

One year ago my daughter, Dallas–she’s a professional photographer–started a photo-a-day project. Here’s Day 1, February 14, 2010:

Today, he brought me red roses and coffee, then made me breakfast. Later, he left for Afghanistan. He'll be back next year.

When Dallas was nineteen or twenty she infamously proclaimed she would never date a man in the military because she couldn’t handle the deployments. One should not tempt fate.

In December 2009 she met Edward White. From the first night, she knew he’d be shipping out come February. They had a two-month whirlwind affair anyway, and then he was gone.

But with Skype, chat, and text messaging they were together in some sense almost every day.

They were married in July when Ed came home on leave. He had two-and-a-half weeks with his bride before heading back to duty.

Now we’ve come full circle. This is the last post in my daughter’s photo journal, Day 366, February 14, 2011:

Today, I spent the morning doing last minute errands and prepping for dinner. Later, I went to Ft. Shafter and welcomed Ed home. ♥

How the US Army arranged for two such momentous occasions to occur on Valentine’s Day is a question for the mystics. We’re just overjoyed to have Ed back. This couple has paid some dues and earned their honeymoon!

And for all the other military families out there waiting for loved ones to return from overseas, we wish you the best.

Visualizing Environments

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

When I’m writing a scene it’s not uncommon for me to get the wrong sort of environment stuck in my head. For example, the scene I’m working on now takes place on and around a mountain pass. The piece is fairly brief and I’m not expecting to use the location again, and, since I’m trying to write fast, I didn’t spend anytime at all thinking about the specifics of the setting until after I got going.

Once I did start, I realized I’ve been visualizing an austere, treeless, virtually barren summit area–which doesn’t make any sense given the general environment where this story takes place.

For me, shifting that mental image requires real effort. Sometimes it helps to go to Google and do an image search (“forest mountain pass”). With luck, a photo comes up of a setting similar to what I’m trying to envision. But luck is fickle, and when Google fails me, it’s time to take a deep breath, close my eyes, and try to rebuild the setting in my head, this time with proper features–because if I can’t see the scene map, what hope is there for the reader?


Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

I recently rediscovered the old Linkin Park CD Hybrid Theory. For those who know what I’m talking about, I’m going to horrify you by letting you know it’s now eleven years old.

I confess I still love “In The End” and continue to be fond of “Crawling” thus proving that angst never gets old. On the other hand, much of the rest of it reaches a rather embarrassing level of adolescent whining–but Linkin Park did have a unique and interesting sound for the time.

I miss the energy of those screamer bands. Next up: hunting down that wonderful old Chevelle CD.