Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net


Archive for March, 2017

Storybundle: AI in Science Fiction

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

AVAILABLE NOW!

Storybundles are themed collections of ebooks, sold together at discount, and available only for a very short period of time. Lisa Mason — author of the Philip K. Dick Award nominee Summer of Love — has put together the latest science fiction Storybundle, launching today. It’s assembled around the theme of artificial intelligence and includes two of my novels: The Bohr Maker and Limit of Vision.

I know that many of you who are regular visitors to this blog have already read The Bohr Maker, but I suspect that fewer have read Limit of Vision. So now’s your chance! And of course, the bundle also includes several other ebooks, many by well-known writers, and at a really great price. In fact, StoryBundle lets you name your own price, with a $5 minimum.

So…a purchase of $5 gets you the basic set of five books:

Aristoi by Walter Jon Williams
The Bohr Maker by Linda Nagata
Arachne by Lisa Mason
Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology, edited by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly, with stories by William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Pat Cadigan, Jonathan Lethem, and twelve others
Queen City Jazz by Kathleen Ann Goonan

To complete your bundle, beat the bonus price of $15 and you’ll receive another five amazing books:
Eye Candy by Ryan Schneider
Glass Houses by Laura J. Mixon
Cyberweb by Lisa Mason
Limit of Vision by Linda Nagata
The A.I. Chronicles Anthology edited by Samuel Peralta including stories by David Simpson, Julie Czerneda, and eleven others

This Storybundle is available only through April 20. Visit the Storybundle website for more detailed information — and if you’re so inclined, please help spread the word!

Still she persisted…

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

A retrospective on the first thirty years of my writing career.

It’s been thirty years since my first publication. That was a short story called “Spectral Expectations” that appeared in Analog magazine. I was twenty-six years old at the time, a stay-at-home mom caring for my first baby, born just a couple of months earlier.

That was a different age. The Internet-as-we-know-it didn’t exist yet and all correspondence was via snail-mail. I don’t remember all the details, but I know I was thrilled when my copy of the magazine finally arrived. I was on my way!

Surely I was on my way?

The truth is, I didn’t make any sort of splash with my early stories and it took me another seven years to see my first novel in print. But after that I was definitely on my way. Never mind the low advance or that the novel was published as a mass-market paperback with no hardcover edition. As counterbalance it had a gorgeous Bruce Jensen cover and fantastic reviews. It even went on to win the Locus Award for best first novel and surely that meant readers were paying attention?

Three more novels quickly followed — and unfortunately for me I soon learned that most readers were not paying attention. All four novels — what today I call the Nanotech Succession — failed to sell in meaningful numbers, and all soon went out of print. This was a hard lesson for a still-young writer to accept: Critical success does not automatically translate to market success.

My original publisher, Bantam, was done with me. This was 1998. Eleven years after that first story.

So what was a girl to do? Hell, I’d invested too much to quit, so I forged on.

And I got lucky. I found a new home at Tor. I was lucky a second time when a novella of mine received a Nebula award.

I’ll admit though that I didn’t feel lucky. The psychology of intermittent rewards is pernicious and I felt like the rat in the lab hitting the lever, running the maze, hoping I’d get a proper reward this time. But the rewards didn’t come close to balancing the time and effort it took to get them. Yes, I was finally getting hardcover publication at Tor. That was a good thing, but communications with my editor were problematic and I would have happily bought back the second book in the contract if only I could have afforded to do so.

This was around 2001-2002. Let’s say fourteen years since my first published story. This was not a good time for me. I didn’t feel respected as a writer, I felt helpless to turn my career around, and I felt foolish for all the time, intellect, and emotion I’d invested in this so-called career. Put bluntly, I’d had enough. I decided the time had come for the lab rat to retire. It was a good time to make the move. My kids were older — a teen and tween — and I didn’t need to worry about daycare. So I got a real job.

I hope I will always remember the feeling of utter relief and of gratitude as I drove to the office for my first day of work — a $10 an hour job coding websites for an ambitious local ISP. The pay wasn’t much, the commute was long, and I saw a lot less of my kids, but there was immense satisfaction in adding a small but steady paycheck to the family income. It wasn’t all on my husband’s shoulders anymore.

I completed a couple of writing projects in the ensuing years — a middle-grade novel and an epic fantasy — both very different from the sort of high-tech adult fiction I’d written before. No surprise — both failed to sell to traditional publishers. Meanwhile, I moved from HTML work into PHP programming — and for a long time I loved it. Programming possesses some of the enthralling complexity of novel writing, but with programming the goal is solid, explicit — you know when you’ve got it right, and that’s a very satisfying feeling. With fiction, right/good/quality is a much more nebulous affair, a matter of opinion, and you never really know if your work is as good as it can be or even good enough.

Still … did I really want to expend my creative talents building an ecommerce website so someone could over-charge for gourmet coffee?

Ha! Yes. After several years on the job, I literally asked myself this question.

It wasn’t a question I had to answer, though. I knew it was just a matter of time until the decision was made for me. Our programming shop had always been a money loser and it was clear we were not going to be around forever, so I stuck it out until I was laid off during the great recession.

As it happened, I was laid off with the right skills and at the right time to join the indie publishing revolution. By the spring of 2011 — twenty-four years after that first published story — I’d re-published most of my backlist as ebooks and I’d started writing original fiction again.

The lab rat had re-entered the maze.

The rewards were small just as they’d always been, but for the first time I was in control of my work. I loved that. It was fun. And in 2014 the unexpected happened — my first science fiction novel in ten years wound up on the final ballot of the Nebula Awards. This stroke of luck turned into a nice traditional publishing contract along with a TV option. Hey, hey, hey! Twenty-seven years after that first published story I was finally on my way!

Uh, no.

Once again, just as with my first novel, everything seemed to go right except for that sticky part about selling enough copies to keep publishers interested. It brings to mind a line from the Roseanne sit-com, when the family’s electricity is turned off and Roseanne declares (I paraphrase) “Well, it was nice to visit the middle class for a while.”

Hey, it was nice to look like I was on my way … for a while.

I sometimes find myself metaphorically side-eyeing young writers who’ve hit it big the first time out. Does that early success give them a heady confidence that mutes the inner critic, slays the self-doubt, allows the words to flow? I imagine it does for some, though I know it doesn’t always work that way. Success can sometimes be as challenging as failure. On the other hand, success usually pays better.

And still she persisted…

I’m not done yet. Now, thirty years after that first published story, I’m getting ready to publish a new novel. “Once a writer, always a writer,” my agent says. Maybe this new novel will be the one to hit. Maybe not. That’s out of my hands.

What I get to choose is whether or not I make another play — and I’m grateful to have that choice. Being able to make that choice is a blessing not bestowed on everyone. Though my writing career has followed a crooked, stumbling path, life has been very kind to me. I’m still here, and I still have the time and the ability to continue writing for at least a little longer.

There are many other writers who could tell you a similar career story, many others who have persisted as long, or longer, than I have, some in far tougher circumstances. You know who you are, and I raise my mug to you! 🍺 All praise and honor to you on the long road!

So what’s my end goal? To write a really damn good book of course, but also to finally win enough readers that my husband — who’s been carrying the load forever — feels secure enough to fully retire.

Thirty years is a long time to persist in this game, but I’m going to bang the lever at least a couple more times. What the hell. Maybe I’ll hit and have the ironic pleasure of hearing myself described as an “overnight success.” 😉

Sci-Fi Bridge, Round 2

Monday, March 20th, 2017

A second contest begins today at Sci-Fi Bridge.

Sci-Fi Bridge is a really cool writer-run organization dedicated to getting the word out on new releases and great book deals in the science fiction world.

The contest exists to encourage you to sign up to receive the Sci-Fi Bridge newsletter. Just by entering, you get access to four free ebooks, and you also have a chance to win 30+ ebooks, or the Grand Prize of 30+ Signed Books.

You can still enter to win, even if you’ve already signed up for the Sci-Fi Bridge newsletter. Find all the details here. Last day to enter is March 27.

Progress Report #2

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Update on my forthcoming novel The Last Good Man

One of the challenging things, for me, about publishing a novel under my own imprint is maintaining my confidence throughout the process. In traditional publishing an author can always fall back on the fact that a professional editor thought enough of their book to pay an advance and to dedicate a chunk of the corporation’s financial resources toward publication, publicity, and distribution. That’s part of the reason writers — especially new writers — talk about the “validation” of traditional publishing. After all, if someone experienced in a for-profit business thinks money can be made off your work, then it is, by definition, worth something. Right?

But when I shift from writer to publisher, I lose the validation of that third-party professional opinion. It’s all on me to decide if the manuscript is ready, if the cover will work, if I’m justified in sending it off to reviewers and pro-writers… That’s when it helps to remember all the positive responses The Last Good Man has picked up along the way.

So where am I in the publication process? I’ve continued to send out review copies and, since there is a small demand for it, I’ve created a print ARC (advance reader copy). Those are still being printed, but I should have them in hand by the end of the month.

The manuscript is presently with the copyeditor. When I get it back I’ll need to input corrections to my master manuscript and when that’s done, I get to create the ebook and the print edition all over again. ::sigh:: 🙁 There are always a lot of chores in this business.

So, the big news: The cover art is done! One of my tasks for the upcoming week is setting up the cover reveal.

More soon…

If you’re a book reviewer and you’d like an e-ARC of The Last Good Man, please send me an email at linda at mythicisland dot com, letting me know who you are, where you review, and whether you prefer an epub or mobi (Kindle) ebook file.

GoodReads Giveaway

Monday, March 13th, 2017

I have an original story in Cosmic Powers: The Saga Anthology of Far-Away Galaxies, edited by John Joseph Adams and due to be released next month. You might be able to get an early look at the anthology if you enter the GoodReads ARC giveaway.

For those not familiar with the inner world of publishing, ARC stands for “Advance Reader’s Copy.” It’s the almost-but-not-quite final edition of the book.

Here’s the anthology’s description:

A collection of original, epic science fiction stories by some of today’s best writers — for fans who want a little less science and a lot more action — and edited by two-time Hugo Award winner John Joseph Adams.

Inspired by movies like The Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars, this anthology features brand-new stories from some of science fiction’s best authors including Dan Abnett, Jack Campbell, Linda Nagata, Seanan McGuire, Alan Dean Foster, Charlie Jane Anders, Kameron Hurley, and many others.

Click here to enter the GoodReads Giveaway.

Progress Report

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

This website is in danger of turning into a ghost town, so I thought I’d post a brief progress report.

I’d like to say that I’ve been writing, but it isn’t true. Since at least the beginning of the year my efforts have focused on getting my forthcoming novel, The Last Good Man, ready for publication while working on promotional strategies for all of my books.

So what’s the status of The Last Good Man? The pre-copyedit draft is done. I coded the manuscript to create ebooks for advance readers and I’ve begun to send out review copies. I also did a quick and dirty print layout to determine the likely page count and price of the print edition. And cover art is on the way! We’ve agreed on the rough design, and now await the finished illustration.

Promotion continues, as you’ve probably noticed from the events I’ve been participating in. I’m working on connecting with more new-to-me readers by encouraging people to sign up for my email newsletter.

By the way, if you already subscribe to my newsletter, do be sure to check your spam folders and if you find one of my newsletters there, please whitelist it. I’ll have a new story out in an anthology next month, I have several promotions coming up, and of course The Last Good Man will be released in June, so there will be a lot of news!

One thing I’ve learned is that book promotion really is a full-time job — and most of that work falls on the author, regardless of whether the novel is traditionally published or indie published. So, onward!

If you’re a book reviewer and you’d like an e-ARC of The Last Good Man, please send me an email at linda at mythicisland dot com, letting me know who you are, where you review, and whether you prefer an epub or mobi (Kindle) ebook file.