Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Archive for February, 2013

“Through Your Eyes”

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

ASF_Apr-May2013webThis is a follow-up to my post from yesterday. My newest short story, “Through Your Eyes,” is now out in the April/May double issue of Asimov’s. Find the ebook edition at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Print editions should be on the way.

When I first started writing “Through Your Eyes,” it was meant as a stand-alone short story, but by the time it was done, I felt a novel coming on. The story’s protagonist wasn’t nearly done with his time on-stage, so I took the world created in “Through Your Eyes,” combined it with an idea brewing in the back of my mind that was originally expressed in my Lightspeed Magazine story “Nightside On Callisto” and came up with the near-future novel: The Red: First Light, due out in exactly two weeks.

[Two weeks?? OMG. Copyedit and book cover are on their way, but not done yet. I’ll need to process copyedits, lay out the ebook again (did this once for the eARC, which probably should have gone out to a lot more readers, *sigh*), lay out the print book, upload to vendor sites, send to reviewers . . . ah, indie publishing. But who am I kidding? Indie publishing is fun.]

Anyway, “Through Your Eyes” is a precursor story to The Red: First Light. At first blush they may seem to be wildly different in theme, but sometimes life take us where we least expect to go.

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Short Story, First Sighting

Monday, February 25th, 2013

I’m not sure if it’s out yet, but soon…


The Wild: Chapter 7

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

The Wild is my one and only attempt at high fantasy. It’s written in an old-fashioned, formal tone, with old-fashioned heroes, and is quite different from anything else I’ve done. Except for a handful of printed advance-reader-copies (ARCs) created in 2011 to test the market, it’s never been published—until now. I’m serializing it on my blog, one chapter every Friday. I hope you enjoy.

Go to: beginning | prior chapter | next chapter

* * *

The Tree; artist: Sarah AdamsChapter 7

Bennek could see nothing. His eyes—accustomed to the light of the fire—were blind in a darkness made worse by the choking smoke. But he didn’t need sight to feel Marshal suddenly wake to life. He set his brother’s feet on the ground and helped him to stand. Kit asked in a tense voice, “Marshal? Are you all right?”

Marshal shifted. “Where’s—?” Suddenly he lunged into the darkness. “Lanyon.”

Bennek heard a soft grunt; the rustle of cloth. “What’s happened?” he whispered.

“She’s collapsed. I’ve caught her.” A breeze stirred, carrying some of the smoke away, so Marshal’s shape was revealed, a pocket of darker darkness, huddled close to the ground. “She’s breathing.”


New Cover For Memory

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Emily Irwin has created a new cover for my novel Memory and I love it.

Click the image below to see a larger version in a new window:

MEMORY - cover art by Emily Irwin

Emily is a graphic artist currently working and living in Montreal, but she grew up here on Maui and went to high school with my kids. She first read Memory in high school and has read it several times since. My daughter knew I wanted a new cover, and suggested I connect with Emily–which I did.

Emily listened to my very vague cover ideas, and created a series of thumbnail sketches incorporating my ideas and some of her own, and then, as a whim, she added one more concept, much more abstract and fantastical than the others. That was the image both my daughter and I immediately gravitated toward, and the end result is the cover above. I’m very pleased, and I hope this cover will give new life to the book.

Emily’s cover will be going live on the ebook over the next few days, and will be featured on a new print edition of Memory, coming soon.

For Indie Publishers:
A Print Book Experiment

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

Two Stories: print versionFor indie publishers, there are several options for creating a print book. Like most of us, I go with print-on-demand, and I’ve used both of the two big players in the field: Lightning Source, an Ingram company, and Createspace, an Amazon company.

I’ve done print versions for seven of my nine novels, all of them through Lightning Source. LS is not nearly as user friendly as Createspace, it’s much more expensive upfront, and it gets extra costly if you have errors in your files and have to re-submit them. But the default distribution at Lightning Source is better than the default at Createspace, and the pricing structure allows me to price the Lightning Source books lower. Also, to be blunt, it’s not-Amazon. While I don’t know this for a fact, I’ve been told that independent bookstores will not stock Createspace books because they are Amazon.

A couple other differences–

First, you can get a matte cover at Lightning Source. If you can do that at Createspace, I haven’t figured out how. And second, in my opinion, the “creme” colored paper at Createspace is too creamy; it has too much color in it, compared to LS. (For novels, creme paper is generally preferred over white. The creme/white option is available at both companies.)

That said, I’ve successfully used Createspace for two books, and if you’ve never done print books before, I recommend it. It’s a much friendlier and more forgiving place to experiment.

The first book I did at Createspace was a collection of all my short stories originally published prior to 2001, called Goddesses & Other Stories. I wanted a print version, but since I didn’t expect to sell very many copies, I decided to keep my upfront investment to a minimum and go with Createspace. It’s worked out fine, but because of the CS pricing structure, it’s my highest-priced print book so far.

My second CS book is pictured above. Two Stories: Nahiku West & Nightside on Callisto and has just gone live at Amazon. It’s a mini-book: fifty-six pages long, and includes two science fiction short stories, both originally published in 2012. I don’t expect to sell many copies of this one either, and despite its size, it took a significant amount of time to put together–so why bother? Primarily because it’s an inexpensive way for me to experiment with a new print layout.

All the other books I’ve done have shared the same font and page layout, varying primarily in title fonts, header fonts, and very slightly, in the margins. But I’ll be publishing two more novels soon, and wanted to try a new layout. Two Stories was the perfect opportunity to experiment. Fifty-six pages was short enough that I could easily re-do it if I needed to, but it was quite long enough to let me know if the layout would work for the novels–and it wouldn’t cost be any cash upfront to run the experiment.

Stage 1 is now complete. I like the new layout. Stage 2 will involve applying the layout to my forthcoming novel The Red: First Light. Having run the experiment, I’ll be far less anxious over that, when it comes time to submit the print files to Lightning Source.

The Wild: Chapter 6

Friday, February 15th, 2013

The Wild is my one and only attempt at high fantasy. It’s written in an old-fashioned, formal tone, with old-fashioned heroes, and is quite different from anything else I’ve done. Except for a handful of printed advance-reader-copies (ARCs) created in 2011 to test the market, it’s never been published—until now. I’m serializing it on my blog, one chapter every Friday. I hope you enjoy.

Go to: beginning | prior chapter | next chapter

* * *

Chapter 6

It was well past midnight when they dragged the corpses of the three dead arowl to the water and dumped them in the river. They stripped off their gear and cleaned it of blood. Then they washed themselves in the icy water. Bennek had to unbraid his hair, and scrub his scalp with sand to get out the dried blood of the giant wolf. He was last to return to the hollow. There he found a merry fire going, with neatly filleted fish roasting on steaming green sticks. “I forgot about food,” he whispered, feeling suddenly hollow and weak.

“Fortunately Lanyon did not,” Kit said. “You’ll have to forgive her for killing your arowl.”

“I’m sorry I was angry.”

She lifted a stick from the fire and handed it to him with a somber expression. “I’m sorry I was not brave.”


The Wild: Chapter 5

Friday, February 8th, 2013

The Wild is my one and only attempt at high fantasy. It’s written in an old-fashioned, formal tone, with old-fashioned heroes, and is quite different from anything else I’ve done. Except for a handful of printed advance-reader-copies (ARCs) created in 2011 to test the market, it’s never been published—until now. I’m serializing it on my blog, one chapter every Friday. I hope you enjoy.

Go to: beginning | prior chapter | next chapter

* * *

River & slope. Artist: Sarah AdamsChapter 5

Darkness gathered as they prepared a camp within a sandy hollow sheltered beneath a rock overhang and surrounded by a hedge of low brush. Bennek gathered wood for a fire, but he didn’t light it. Lanyon went down alone to the stream. She was gone for more than half an hour. Bennek was ready to go look for her when she returned with a net of knotted sedges holding a fine catch of fish. This she hung from a gnarled tree while the boys counted up their arrows. Then they huddled together in silence beneath the sheltering rock.

The mist had left every leaf and stone and blade of grass heavy with dew. The fitful patter of falling droplets filled the night. An hour passed. They chewed on the last of the dried venison Lanyon had carried. Then Kit stretched out on the strip of dry ground at the back of the hollow, and slept. Most of another hour went by. The mist dissipated, and the stars shone out brightly. Lanyon began a soft chant.


* * * Early Warning * * *

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

My first adult science fiction novel in ten years is coming in March
from Mythic Island Press LLC


A near-future science fiction thriller

“There Needs To Be A War Going On Somewhere”

Cover detail for The Red: First Light; digital painting by Dallas Nagata WhiteLieutenant James Shelley commands a high-tech squad of soldiers in a rural district within the African Sahel. They hunt insurgents each night on a harrowing patrol, guided by three simple goals: protect civilians, kill the enemy, and stay alive—because in a for-profit war manufactured by the defense industry there can be no cause worth dying for. To keep his soldiers safe, Shelley uses every high-tech asset available to him—but his best weapon is a flawless sense of imminent danger…as if God is with him, whispering warnings in his ear. (Hazard Notice: contains military grade profanity.)


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Creative Oxygen

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Brainstorming Story Ideas

It’s not unusual to hear a speculative fiction writer say something like “I have so many story ideas I could never use them all.”

That writer is not me. For me, it’s more like “I have only a few ideas, and I use them all.”

I don’t have a library of story ideas floating around in my head. At best, I might have vague concepts, or some intentionality, but I have to hunt down the actual story idea. For example, “Nightside on Callisto” exists because I wanted to write a story set among the moons of Jupiter. No other reason. I had no character, no story background, no conflict, no goal. I just wanted to write a story in that setting, so I did some research, narrowed down the setting to Callisto, and started brainstorming.

Fast forward to last November: nearly six months had passed since I’d last written a short story so, to generate more story ideas, I decided to initiate a new writing exercise. I made a folder on my laptop called “Creative Oxygen.” Then I opened up a Word doc, saved it with the day’s date (20121109.docx for example, if proper sort order is one of your obsessions), and started writing.

The goal is to come up with a story synopsis — any story at all, no genre limitations, but figure out all the pieces: character, setting, story problem, beginning, middle, end.

The rule is non-stop writing sessions of ten minutes, fifteen minutes, maybe even twenty minutes. It’s not quite Write-or-Die, but very similar. Being obsessive, I actually set the alarm on my phone to go off after ten minutes. If I feel like continuing after the alarm, of course I do. If I want to take a break because I’m not getting anywhere, I do that too, comforting myself with the thought that at least I’m trying.

I use the “directed brainstorming” method, asking and answering questions, making statements and requests, evaluating what I’ve come up with, reiterating it in a clearer form, and asking myself over and over again, “So where’s the story? Is this a story?” And if nothing is coming, I just start typing in random things.

Hey, it works for me. Not all the time, of course, but often enough that I’ve used directed-brainstorming almost from the beginning of my writing career, usually to figure out the next chapter.

So anyway, I managed to do the creative oxygen exercise for all of three days in November, but those three days produced two story synopses. Then I went back to work on the novel and forgot about creative oxygen…until the end of the year when I was challenged to write one more story before we moved into 2013. So I pulled out one of the two story ideas — the one with the most solid, detailed synopsis — and wrote it. That turned into “Halfway Home,” which just sold to Nightmare Magazine.

The wild-eyed ideal would be to brainstorm a story synopsis every day — although a synopsis every week is probably more reasonable – but at any rate, to keep hammering at it, knowing you don’t have to actually write every story you come up with. It’s just that by pushing yourself and practicing creativity your ideas are likely to get better and better, until you come up with a synopsis that simply demands to be written into a story.

It’s a theory anyway. If you’re looking to generate ideas and develop them into stories, it might be worth a try.

First Short Story Sale of 2013

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

At the end of 2012, I posted an assessment of my writing goals for the year. I originally noted that I’d written only three short stories instead of the four I’d hoped to do. This is what happened:

3. Finish four pieces of short fiction.

Fail! I finished only three short stories, though I did get to sell all three to good markets.

Update, December 31: In the comments one of my most supportive readers, Willy B, took me to task for calling this a fail, and then pointed out I had four days to write another short story … so I did. I finished a solid draft last night, and even though I still have to read it over and (I’m sure) fix it up, it IS a finished story, so I’m switching this from “Fail” to “Done.” Thanks, Willy B!

I got some feedback on the story, titled “Halfway Home,” early in the month, and then shelved it for three weeks while frantically revising the forthcoming novel. But I finally sat down to work on the revision, and yesterday I sold “Halfway Home” — 🙂 — to editor John Joseph Adams for new online publication Nightmare Magazine by Creeping Hemlock Press.

Now, if you’d asked me last week if I write horror, I would have said “No!” That stuff is scary. I still wouldn’t call myself a horror writer. In my mind, “Halfway Home” is a dark fantasy with a here-and-now setting, or possibly it’s magic realism, or…well, it’s a short story, anyway. I’ll leave it to y’all to figure out the genre.

And an extra “Thank you!” to Willy B for encouraging me to write it!