Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Archive for April, 2011

The Dread Hammer by Trey Shiels

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Oh. Hey. I published a new book this week. Or to be more accurate, Trey Shiels did–and that’s my first-time-ever pen name.

Meet The Dread Hammer, an enthralling, darkly comic fairytale of love, war, murder, marriage, and fate.


Not your usual Linda-Nagata fare, I know, and that’s why I thought I’d give the book a break and let Trey Shiels cover for me.

Here’s the back cover copy:

Ketty is a pretty shepherdess with a contrary nature, who runs away from home to escape an unwanted marriage. As she flees along the forest road, she prays to the Dread Hammer for help—and to her astonishment help comes in the form of a charming and well-armed young murderer named Smoke. As Ketty soon discovers, Smoke is not entirely human.

Smoke, too, is taken by surprise at their encounter. He had lurked beside the forest road intending to pierce hearts and slit throats, not to fall in love. But love it is—or it would be—if only he can convince Ketty that marriage is better than death.

But just when happily-ever-after seems within reach, Smoke’s past returns to claim him. A deserter from the Koráyos army, his supernatural skill at killing is still very much in demand. Now the army wants him back.

The Dread Hammer is currently available for Kindle and Nook, with a *special introductory price* of only $2.99, good through May. Look for the print version to be available in a month or so.

Buy it at your favorite store:
Amazon USA
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

And if you’re at Amazon, please click that facebook “like” button if you should feel so inclined. Thanks!

As the artist intended…

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

One of the coolest things that happened to me when I sold my first novel was that Bruce Jensen was contracted to do the cover art. I was thrilled with the result, and even happier when he went on to do all four Bantam covers.

Earlier this year I ran into Bruce again online and asked about the possibility of re-using the original art. He was all for it.

The original covers had “neon” framing and titles added by Bantam. This time around Bruce did the titles himself, so the 2011 covers are just as the artist intended.

The new covers should show up in the Kindle and Nook editions in the next couple days. Print editions will soon follow–honest!–I’ve been putting them off until the new covers were ready.

Ebook How-to: Table of Contents Tip #1

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

I decided to format the ebook I’m currently working on in a “flow through” style, without page breaks between the chapters. There’s just some blank space, followed by the name of the next chapter. It seems simple enough, but I discovered two challenges along the way.

(If you haven’t read my Ebook How To, I use Sigil to edit the epub file, and Calibre to convert the epub to mobi.)

Challenge #1: On my first pass I broke the book into several sections in my epub editor, Sigil. There were no page break codes at the end of these sections, nevertheless, when converting to mobi, Calibre inserted page breaks. I tried to turn this function off in Calibre, but didn’t manage to do it. Crude solution: I dumped all the text from the first to the last chapter into a single epub section. (I left the front and back matters in the usual separate sections.) I was lucky, because this is a fairly short novel of 65,000 words. At any rate, this eliminated the problem of unwanted page breaks.

Challenge #2: I’m not sure why I let this become a problem. I’ve done a lot of CSS and should have known better, but copy and paste got me in trouble. Here’s how:

When I create a new ebook, I copy some version of this code into the top of each chapter:

  <div class="chapterdiv">
    <h1 class="chapterline" id="heading_id_2" title="The Hunt">The Hunt</h1>

The “chapterdiv” and “chapterline” classes let me define the formatting. The h1 element will be automatically picked up as part of the table of contents by Sigil’s TOC editor. The “title” in the h1 element is the text that will be displayed in the table of contents. The “id” is where I tripped up.

It’s a rule in CSS that all the IDs in a single document have to be unique–otherwise they’re not uniquely identifying a single element, and that’s their purpose.

Epub files are made up of many different documents. If you follow the usual scheme, each chapter will be in a separate document. In this case, it doesn’t matter if all the chapter headers get the same ID, i.e. “heading_id_2”. Since all the chapters are separate documents, the ID is unique in each document.

But when I dumped all the chapters into the same document, that ID suddenly wasn’t unique anymore. So when I converted the epub to mobi and sent it to my Kindle, the table of contents didn’t work. I would get sent to the last chapter, no matter what chapter I clicked on.

The fix was easy, once I realized what was going on. I went back to the epub file and used the search function to find each incident of “heading_id_2” and I incremented the number, giving me “heading_id_3”, “heading_id_4”, etc., all the way up to “heading_id_29”. Problem solved.

I’m posting this in case it’s helpful to anyone else who might run into the same problem.

What I haven’t figured out yet is how to link the cover into the table of contents. Using the h1 code above will cause “Cover” to appear in the TOC, but when I click on it in my Kindle, it tries to make a highlight, instead of taking me to the cover. If anyone knows the solution to this riddle, I’d love to hear it.

Kickstarter: Pimpbot

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Who would ever expect the “local warm up” band to be as good as the headline act? Not me. I’ve been to a couple rock concerts on Maui that were almost done in by the sorry quality of the first act, but that act wasn’t Pimpbot.

They are good–really good–and lots of fun onstage.

Pimpbot is more than just a warm up act of course, but I don’t get to spend much time around the Honolulu music scene, so the two times I’ve seen them they were opening for “name” groups from the mainland.

Now they’re using a Kickstarter project to finance their third album. Click here if you want to help out!

Book Rave–Crystal Rain

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

I’m way behind the curve on this one, but then again I read almost nothing in the science fiction genre from roughly 2002 to 2010, so I’ll hold that out as an excuse for why I’m only now talking about Crystal Rain, a 2006 first novel by Tobias Buckell.

As I’ve mentioned before, I love adventure stories, and this is an all-out adventure with airships, steam-augmented sailing ships, spacecraft, war, a range of settings that includes city, ocean, jungle, arctic, and alpine, and great characters, some with their own mysteries that are gradually untangled.

(See that scene on the book cover over there on the right? That’s actually in the book!)

Whenever possible, I prefer to form my own opinions about a book before hearing what others have to say, so I went to look at the Amazon reviews after finishing this book. It well-deserves its four-star average, but the few who did complain seemed to be focused on a dislike of the Caribbean-derived dialect of the primary culture of Nanagada. Personally, I thought this was very well done. I’m a very “auditory” reader. I tend to hear the words in my head, especially dialogue like this, and it was like listening to actual speakers with a grammar and dialect different from mine.

I thoroughly enjoyed Crystal Rain. Ragamuffin is the next novel, and it’s on my “to read” list.

Ebook Samples From Infinity Plus–Sample Sunday

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

Keith Brooke at Infinity Plus has put together infinities, a FREE ebook comprised of short stories, novel extracts and a complete novelette from infinity plus authors and friends–and yours truly is one of the friends.

infinities is edited by Keith Brooke and includes work from Eric Brown, John Grant, Anna Tambour, Keith Brooke, Garry Kilworth, Iain Rowan, Kaitlin Queen, Scott Nicholson, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Steven Savile. My own contribution is a sample of my novel Memory, but even if you’ve already read that, get on over there and check out the work of these great writers!

The Fun Stops Here

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

The indie publishing process has been tremendous fun right up to this point, but the fun has suddenly stopped and doubts have come crashing in.

Here’s what’s going on: On February 28 I posted about finishing the initial draft of a new fantasy novel. I put it through a quick and dirty re-write and got some nice feedback from three writers–strangers to me, who generously offered their time. After a re-write, my writers group looked at the first thirty pages and gave it a thumbs up, along with a few suggestions and line edits.

Since then I’ve been on my own. I haven’t exactly discussed the title with anyone. I’ve gotten some input on the back cover copy, but not from people who, well, sell books. Only the artist and I have been involved in the cover concept and the artist hasn’t read the book. She’s doing a great job, exactly what I asked her to do…but is my concept any good? Who is my prospective audience anyway? Will the cover and title appeal to them? Will the story? Will my pen name? Did I mention this book is totally unlike anything else I’ve done?

Also, no woman (except me of course) has read the entire novel yet, and for some reason this really bothers me.

And I’m hoping to publish next week.

So yeah. Lots of room for doubt at this stage, and doubt is not fun.

This would never happen in traditional publishing. At minimum, writer and editor would agree the book was good and the title was effective, and realistically a lot more people would be involved, especially in cover art and cover copy. I think that’s part of the “validation” authors talk about when they speak fondly of traditional publishers. The team might not get it all right, but confidence goes up in committee.

Personally, I do far better work at a much faster pace when I’m feeling confident.

The lesson here, I think, for anyone out there working on their own book, is to ASSEMBLE YOUR INDIE TEAM EARLY. Develop a reliable, go-to group of interested people who have the time, the knowledge, and the experience to offer prompt feedback on work in your genre, and who will let you bounce ideas off them. And BE that person for other writers. We’re all tremendously busy, but personally I could spend less time reading the Interwebs (or writing blog posts), and devote that time to a TEAM.

When the cover art is ready, I’ll post it here.

Fickle Passion

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

I have this note near my keyboard that says “make map.” My gaze falls on it once or twice a day and I think “Oh, I should make the map.”

Then I go do something else.

Which is odd, because I had so much fun making the map for The Wild.

Not sure why I’m avoiding this one.

Really, I should make the map.

Time to Start a New Project

Monday, April 11th, 2011

I’ve got two projects in process–one almost done–but I’m feeling the need to start something entirely new, so today I pulled out notes on a project that came to mind last December. It’s science fictional–though working on a strict definition of science fiction as involving scientific realities, it’s more a technological fantasy (I just made that term up).

I had originally intended to write the story as a screenplay, but my current hankering is to write another short novel, so that’s what I’m going to do. Screenplay later. Maybe.

The great thing about not being under contract is you get to do what you damn well please.

Today’s goal: Develop a more solid outline.

Update: Well, that was an interesting session. I wound up going off in a new direction. Complexity? Yes. Long term potential? Could be. Looking forward to exploring more of this story world!

Waiting On Feedback

Monday, April 11th, 2011

1. I just sent the manuscript/ARC/screenplay/cover concept; of course I haven’t heard anything yet.
2. They’re probably really busy.
3. I’ll just email to make sure they got it . . . yep, they got it. Okay.
4. . . .
5. . . .
6. Why would they offer to look at it and then not look at it?
7. They must have looked at it, hated it, put it aside, and forgot to follow up.
8. I would never take this long to get back to someone. (Umm, I’m not talking about those emails that have been in my inbox for nine months.)
9. Should I email?
10. . . .
11. Should I email?
12. . . .
13. They’re just fricking insulting me.
14. I suck.
15. Should I email?
16. Maybe they’re just busy.
17. I’ll email.
18. Not again! It happens all the time–when I send people things their lives suddenly go haywire or fall apart. It’s like I’m cursing them.
19. . . .
20. The Universe is against me.
21. Something is definitely seriously wrong with my personality.
22. . . .
23. Deal with it: If they had liked it I would have heard by now.
24. . . .
25. Whatever