Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net


Archive for December, 2013

Summing Up 2013 on Twitter

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Writing Goals for 2013: The Assessment

Friday, December 27th, 2013

At the beginning of the year I published my writing goals for 2013. Now it’s time to assess how I did:

The Red: First Light1. In March, publish my first adult science fiction novel in TEN YEARS.

Done! This of course was The Red: First Light. Have you read it? Did you like it? Lots of people, men and women both, who don’t ordinarily read military fiction have enjoyed it. If you haven’t read it, I hope you’ll give it a try.

2. Write the sequel to the novel referenced above. Bonus points: publish it before the end of the year.

Hmm…I was about to say that I failed this one, but you know what? I DID finish the first draft at the end of November and I’m presently doing the first revision. So I’m going to pass myself on this one. Definitely no bonus points, though.

3. Write and finish one additional Zeke Choy short story. Bonus points: finish two more stories.

The first Zeke Choy story was “Nahiku West” which was the second-place finisher for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. The second Zeke Choy story, “Out In The Dark,” was published in Analog’s June 2013 issue. Did I write the next story? Er…no. I have notes though! And some pretty serious ambitions for the finalé of the series, but I haven’t started yet, in part because I was invited to write for some anthologies and that used up my short story time. Next year though…

4. Write and finish three other short stories.

Wait, let me count… Win! In fact, I wrote four stories. They will appear during 2014 in the anthologies War Stories, Reach For Infinity, and an untitled anthology edited by John Joseph Adams, with the fourth story due in April in the monthly magazine, Lightspeed.

5. Write and finish a completed draft of a third Puzzle Lands book…

Nope. As it turns out, I never seriously considered starting on this — though I’m already flirting with the idea for 2014. To be bluntly honest, these books sell very few copies — and I don’t know why. When people actually read them, they seem to really like them — but my science fiction is much more in demand, which is frustrating because I want to do both!

So in summary…
Only one novel and four short stories were written this year, but given how hard that novel proved to be, I’m satisfied.

How did you do with your writing goals in 2013? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you!

Awards & Self-published Books

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Shaun Duke — who was kind enough to do a podcast interview with me last spring for his website skiffyandfanty.com — recently wrote an essay — “Self-Published Books vs. Literary Awards: A Logistical Problem?” It was a post that I found … troubling.

The main point of the essay is that there are so many books being published, both traditionally and independently, that logistics do not allow all books to be considered for literary awards, and that the simplest way to narrow the field and make the administration of an award more feasible is to limit that award to traditionally published books. My experience is with science fiction and fantasy, and in our field awards tend not to have this limitation. I would very much like to keep it that way.

I understand both the urge and the need of an awards committee to limit the number of qualified books and qualified authors. Every annual award presumably faces this challenge every year, because just the number of traditionally published books alone is staggering, and there will always be far more possible contenders for any award than there is time to consider them all.

The awards that might have the possibility of getting closest to the ideal of universal consideration may be the publically-voted awards like the storySouth Million Writers Award for short stories or the Locus Awards — but it’s not as if those who participate in the voting have read all the books. That will never happen with any award. The likely result is that awards like these probably have a very long-tail effect, in which many books and stories get only one vote, while a few, by better known authors, do far better.

The way I see it, there are two main purposes to a literary award: (1) to bring attention to specific books and authors, and by so doing (2) to shape the genre. Whether (1) & (2) come to pass or not, neither purpose is harmed or diminished by consideration of a self-published work.

Shaun asks: “why would SPed authors want to win these awards anyway?” That’s an easy one to answer: for the publicity and for the credibility. Every writer – traditional or not – is desperate to be better known, to sell just a few more copies. Some awards are great for this purpose; others, I’m sure, don’t make much difference to the bottom line, but can still be a moral victory. As for credibility, Shaun notes that “There’s crap in traditional publishing, too, but my experience has always been that it’s much easier to find good things in traditional publishing, whereas the inverse is still true in the self-publishing world.” This is still a common assumption, so credibility is extremely important for a writer who chooses to publish her own work.

I’m an author of six traditionally published science fiction novels, but with my last three novels I’ve turned to self-publishing, not because I think my new work is inferior, but because the business model makes more sense to me, and having more control over the production of my work makes me vastly happier. I am not now and have never been a well-known writer, so winning another award would definitely be a boost to my career. But if the open nature of the awards in our field change so that only books that come up through “the system” can be considered — that would consign me and former midlist writers like me to an outsider status because we’ve decided to do things a bit differently. Then, the only way to be taken seriously as a writer within the genre would be to return to traditional publishing, giving up creative control, and in many cases, making less money.

All that said, the problem Shaun noted still exists: too many books are published to consider all of them for awards. But it’s always been that way. Only select books are ever truly considered for most awards, and especially for juried awards. How are those selections made? Traditional publishers might pick what they consider their best two or three books. Other books might get positive word-of-mouth or recommendations from respected authors, or they might earn a spot because the author has a reputation as a novelist or short story writer. This is the old way of doing things, and while it isn’t entirely fair either, it at least avoids arbitrarily disqualifying books simply because of the way they came into print.

Year-End Sale

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

The Bohr Maker by Linda NagataBook View Café is having a year-end 50%-off sale on over 100 ebooks by authors such as Chaz Brenchley, Laura Anne Gilman, Katharine Kerr, Vonda McIntyre, and me!

Among my books, both The Dread Hammer and The Bohr Maker are on sale. If you’ve read one, now’s your chance to try the other. If you’ve tried both, please refer a friend. You won’t see the discount price on the book listing, but it will be automatically applied when you add the book to your shopping cart.

Cover for The Dread HammerAgain, here’s the link that will let you browse all books on-sale.

ON THE OTHER HAND, if you’re a regular Kobo Books customer, The Bohr Maker is also on sale there at 50% off with coupon code 50COUPON. You won’t see the sale price until you enter the coupon code, so don’t click “Buy Now.” Use the drop-down arrow to select “add to cart” instead.

And if you enjoy any of my books, please consider jumping the vendor boundary and reviewing them at Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble. Thanks to those who already have.

And thanks to all of you for stopping by and for putting up with me. BEST WISHES TO ALL FOR 2014!

Title Contest! + short story sale

Friday, December 20th, 2013

I have this quirk of personality. I don’t like writing the same sorts of things for any extended period of time. This is why I’ve tended to go from far-future stories, to very near-future, to high fantasy, to middle-grade SF, to gritty fantasy, to magic realism… Easily bored, I guess. And who needs an author platform anyway?

At any rate, when John Joseph Adams, editor of Lightspeed and Nightmare magazines, as well as many anthologies, contacted me about writing a military fantasy story, my response was an enthusiastic “Yes!” Here was a chance to escape for a bit from science fiction, in which I’d been immersed for quite some time.

The result was a story presently titled “The Way Home” (this could still change) — and it’s a story I’m very happy with.

But there is a problem: the anthology is still untitled. JJA is still trying to come up with the perfect title for it and he’s encouraging all of y’all to help out by holding a name-this-anthology contest. If you’d like to participate, you can read more about it and enter your title ideas here — and you can also see the list of contributing authors.

The Wild: ebook now available

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

The Wild by Linda NagataOver the past eleven months I’ve serialized my high fantasy novel The Wild here on my blog. It’s still available to read for free. Find the beginning here.

But if you’d like to read it in a more convenient form, the ebook is now available — but only at my Mythic Island Press webstore. It’s a DRM-free version, available in both EPUB and MOBI formats.

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. It’s not for everyone. That’s why I’m offering a 25-chapter extended sample for free download. If you’re still reading after twenty-five chapters (there are forty-seven in all), the book is probably for you. Find the download in my webstore. The same link will let you buy the book.

I hope you’ll give it a try. Let me know if you do, and what you think of it.

Award Eligible Work — 2013

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Here’s the annual list of all my 2013 award-eligible work in one easy-to-read location…

Note to SFWA members: reading copies of both the novel and the stories are available in the forum, in epub and mobi formats.

Novel:
The Red: First Light — published in print and ebook editions by my own imprint Mythic Island Press LLC and reviewed by Russell Letson (Locus), Paul Kincaid (Through the dark labyrinth), and Stefan Raets (Tor.com), who called it “…an amazing novel.”

Short Story:
“Through Your Eyes”Asimov’s, April/May 2013 issue

“Out In The Dark”Analog, June 2013 issue

“Halfway Home”Nightmare Magazine, September 2013 issue. Read it online.

Short Story Sale: “Attitude”

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Reach For Infinity-preliminary coverWay back in January of this year, editor Jonathan Strahan invited me to submit a short story to an anthology he was developing, to be called Reach For Infinity. The anthology will be the third volume of the “Infinity Project,” following on the first two books Engineering Infinity and Edge of Infinity. The subject for the new book is “that period when we’re trying to get off Earth and into space.” Sounds simple, right? Well, it wasn’t simple for me.

I spent a lot of time brainstorming, developing and discarding ideas, either because they didn’t inspire me, or they seemed too involved to handle at short story length. It took me nine months to come up with an idea that intrigued me enough to build a story around it. I put together an outline first, and then set to writing. The result is a story called “Attitude.” After a brief misdirection to a spam folder, it reached Jonathan safely, and was soon accepted.

Look for “Attitude” in Reach For Infinity, due out from Solaris books in June 2014. Read more about the anthology here.

Illiteracy & Scribbling

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Most large tourist sites in the USA offer at least some information in multiple languages. The same is true in Japan. English is the most common option there, with Korean and Chinese offered where there are a lot of tourists. It’s very reassuring to hear an English announcement of an upcoming destination when riding a train or a bus! And many signs are written in both Roman and Kanji, making life far easier for an American traveler like me who does not speak or read Japanese.

But not everything is available in English — not by a long way. So for me, traveling in Japan is an experience of effective illiteracy. Often, I cannot read even basic information. This makes it very difficult to know what’s up, what is possible, what is available, or where to go — and really drives home the importance of literacy for everyone in the modern world.

On the other hand, many businesses in Japan do have English names — although these names often don’t make sense to an English speaker. I take this as a warning to writers (like me!) who occasionally employ foreign words and phrases from languages we don’t speak. Caution is called for! But on the positive side, the results can be quite humorous. At the end of a long day, we ran across this sign, randomly placed beside a garden on the grounds of a castle in Kyoto:
no_scribbling_sign
But if we cannot scribble here, than where shall we scribble?

After a bit of laughter and debate, we decided this probably meant “No graffiti,” though even that left us puzzled, because there was nowhere to write except on the sign itself. And of course, in our perverse American way, being told not to do something that it had never occurred to us to do, made us wonder if maybe we ought to…

But no! Of course we didn’t scribble. But it made for a good photo op.

Later we were told that graffiti is considered a real problem. I saw a few “tags” while we were there, but if graffiti is a problem, to this casual observer it seems to be a problem under control.

Japan In Late Fall

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

Last spring we made our first visit to Japan, arriving in Fukuoka at the height of cherry blossom season. It was a terrific trip, and my husband and daughter were soon plotting a return that would let us view the fall foliage. We’ve just returned from that adventure, and it too was a success.

The Internet decreed that early December would be the peak of the fall foliage season in southern Japan, so we set our trip for that time — though December seemed very late in the year to me. As it turned out, we were probably two weeks past the peak of the maple foliage season. Nevertheless, there was still a lot of color and many spectacular sights. The advantage of our late arrival? Far smaller crowds than we would have faced only a week or two earlier.

We did most of our in-country traveling on the Shinkansen, taking the train from Fukuoka to Kyoto, and then Kyoto to Kumamoto via Himeji. The Shinkansen is awesome, and a joy to ride, although views are limited because much of the track in southern Japan passes through tunnels, or between walls that I presume are noise buffers.

Kyoto has a historic district with traditional streets and buildings, that house many small shops and restaurants. Shrines and gardens are everywhere. This is one of the brightest Japanese maples we saw, thriving in a Kyoto park:
maple_tree_at_Kyoto_park
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