Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Book Quote Wednesday

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Nagata-hepen_the_watcher_BVC133x205I’ve participated in “Book Quote Wednesday” on Twitter for the past several weeks. Though the activity was created as a promotional tool, my experience shows it to be ineffective in that regard. I haven’t seen any effect on sales. Nevertheless, it’s kind of fun.

The idea is that a group of writers are given the same, simple word. They find an example of the use of that word somewhere in their work, and post the snippet on Twitter.

I’ve collected all my quotes from one novel — Hepen the Watcher — book 2 of my under-read and overlooked fantasy duology, Stories of the Puzzle Lands. The two books in this set are totally unlike anything else I’ve written. They’re straight up fantasies with magic — sardonic, violent, and darkly humorous. Sword-and-sorcery maybe. Of the first book in the duology, Fantasy Review Barn said:

“…It is the amount of heart this book has that really sells it for me. It is a book that falls into the gritty fantasy label for sure, but with a certain amount of sweetness. I will be reading the second of the duo in the near future, and have no problems recommending this one.”

So, back to Book Quote Wednesday. Each participating writer is asked to include the hashtag #bookqw in their tweet, so readers can check out other participating writers. Since I couldn’t fit a decent-sized quote within Twitter’s character limit, I started by posting simple screenshots of text.


Scoundrel Lit

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

I just finished reading my first Joe Abercrombie novel, Best Served Cold, including an interview at the end of the book in which the author is asked about the genre of “scoundrel lit”:

“I tend to think of it as ‘unheroic fantasy,’ but certainly there seems to be a real current within epic fantasy lately toward darker, grittier, more morally ambiguous, more character-centered writing.”

Suddenly I have a subgenre in which to place the Puzzle Land books–The Dread Hammer and Hepen the Watcher–with their murderous protagonist, Smoke.

I do have to admit that Smoke is not entirely bereft of qualms and affections. Still, “scoundrel lit” is a pretty good description.

Snippet: Hepen The Watcher

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

I’m re-posting this at the top of the blog today, for “Sample Sunday.” One of my much-neglected Puzzle Land books! Find newer posts below.

Praise be to God!


Beyel the poet was experiencing a rare appreciation for the divine as he retrieved the bowl of coins he’d just earned with his new monologue. If the army thugs had shown up even a minute sooner, he’d have gotten only a pittance. Then again, if they’d waited one minute more the last holdouts might have pitched in . . . but never mind! The idiotic Koráyos character he’d debuted tonight had earned him a lovely wage. God damn the army, and God bless the poor fool who’d dropped the bundle of Koráyos clothing into the back of the wrong wagon.

Beyel was so pleased he even dared to think his luck might be turning, at last.

He scooped coins out of the bowl, depositing them across several pockets so none would bulge too much.

The crowd in the marketplace was thinning out rapidly. Naturally, no one wanted to stay and talk to the soldiers. Beyel, too, was eager to slip away, but unfortunately he had to hitch up his oxen before he could take the wagon out to the traders’ field.

So, as soon as the coins were safely stashed in his pockets, he shaped his actor’s face into the wide-eyed visage of a frightened citizen, and then he turned around, prepared to assure the soldiers he’d seen nothing—which happened to be the truth.

To his surprise though, no one noticed him. Every one of the soldiers had already captured a citizen to question—the unlucky, the slow. Of these poor souls, most shrank from their interrogators, shaking their heads, but one man (no doubt drunk) pointed at a closed stall where a linen merchant had earlier displayed his wares. Beyel’s gaze searched the deep shadows within the stall, but he saw nothing, and before curiosity could buy him trouble, he went to fetch his oxen.

Two soldiers ran past in great haste as he brought the first beast around, but it wasn’t until he was backing the ox into place alongside the hitch that a soldier finally approached him. He was a middle-aged fellow with an ugly scar across his left cheek who spoke with all seriousness when he asked Beyel, “Sir, have you seen anything of a demon?” And when Beyel’s only response was a slack-jawed look of surprise, the soldier clarified his question, “It’s a Hauntén demon, male, well-armed and with long brown hair.”

Just any demon at all would have been something new to Beyel’s eyes.

“No, sir.” He found himself glancing over his shoulder into the unknowable dark beyond the wagon. “I was performing. I only saw the faces in front of me. I-I assumed you were after a thief or a runaway slave.”

The scar on the soldier’s cheek unbalanced a wry grin. “And I thought the shopkeeper who called us was drunk! But many reported seeing the creature. One man said the demon stood watching your performance, with a bloody mean scowl on its face. If you’ve offended it, best watch your back, I’m thinking.” His grin widened, and then he wandered off into the dark after his fellows, seeming none too much in a hurry to catch them up.

“God bless us,” Beyel whispered, because it was all he dared to say aloud. God damn was what he was thinking. And wasn’t this just what he needed! A vicious Hauntén demon who didn’t approve of his acting skills.

So much for a turn in his luck.

Follow this link for more information on Hepen the Watcher.

A Puzzle Lands Push & A Book Giveaway!

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
Twenty Amazon Reviews: Can it happen?

What’s going on? Just this: I’m hoping to encourage you to help me reach a goal of twenty Amazon reviews, for each of the Puzzle Lands books–The Dread Hammer and Hepen the Watcher–by the ninth of May, just twenty-one days from now. It sounds like a daunting goal to me. Is it possible? Not without your help.

Right now The Dread Hammer has but four reviews, and Hepen the Watcher has only one (and thanks go out to Jennifer Stevenson, one of my very helpful beta readers, for that one!).

But here’s the thing:

Author Stephen Harper Piziks, a fellow Book View Café member, says that:

“Amazon makes recommendations based on the number of reader reviews a book gets. When a book reaches 20 reader reviews, Amazon’s computer starts recommending it. The content of the reviews doesn’t matter–only that the book got reviews.”

To test Stephen’s theory, I’m following his example and launching a contest to encourage you to help me by writing an Amazon review of either The Dread Hammer or Hepen the Watcher, or if you’re really into it, of both! The review doesn’t have to be elaborate. A couple of sentences conveying your general opinion should do it, though of course longer coverage is fine too.

If you haven’t had a chance to read the books yet, here are some sample chapters in epub (Nook) and mobi (Kindle) format to encourage you to try them. The samples are from Book View Café, but the books are of course available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble too. Click to download your preferred format:

Book 1: The Dread Hammer — EPUB SampleMOBI Sample

Book 2: Hepen the Watcher — EPUB SampleMOBI Sample

And after you’ve read…

Go here to review The Dread Hammer


Go here to review Hepen The Watcher

If you do review the books, PLEASE COME BACK HERE AND LEAVE A COMMENT letting me know which review is yours and if you have an address in the USA or not.

After May 9, I’ll go through the comments, randomly selecting one from a reviewer in the USA and one from a reviewer outside the USA.

(I discriminate only because of the very high cost of postage. I’d love to treat you all the same!)

The selected USA commenter will receive EITHER a print copy of both Puzzle Lands books OR a print copy of any ONE of the Nanotech Succession books OR the Tor® hardcover of Memory.

The selected non-USA commenter will get to select any two of Mythic Island Press LLC’s ebooks.

Is it possible to get to twenty reviews for each of the Puzzle Lands books in just twenty days?

I guess we’ll find out!

Update: April 28 — we’re ten days in and The Dread Hammer and Hepen the Watcher have collected seven reviews each! That’s much better than what we started with, but there’s still a long way to go. Thanks to everyone who’s reviewed and helped to spread the word. If you’ve read either book and haven’t reviewed them yet on Amazon, please consider doing so!

Hepen the Watcher
Print Edition Now Available

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Book cover for Hepen the WatcherThe print edition of my latest novel, Hepen the Watcher: Stories of the Puzzle Lands – Book 2 can now be ordered from Amazon US and UK, and Barnes & Noble. In the next few weeks it should also be listed at in Australia, and at Powell’s Books’ online store in the USA.

Here are the links so far:

Barnes & Noble

Amazon USA

Amazon UK

New At Book View Café

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

The ebook version of Hepen the Watcher is now available at Book View Café, so if you’ve been waiting to get a copy, now’s your chance! It’s available in both epub and mobi formats.

Special note for those of you outside the “Amazon countries”: there is no download fee if you buy from BVC. You pay a straight $4.99 USD like everyone else.

And to everyone, if you want to wade in cautiously, BVC also offers free sample chapters in epub and mobi formats.

Today though is not just about my book. It’s mostly dedicated to BVC’s newest member, Lois Gresh, the New York Times Best-Selling Author of 27 books and 45 short stories. Her books have been published in approximately 20 languages. Lois has received the Bram Stoker Award, Nebula Award, Theodore Sturgeon Award, and International Horror Guild Award nominations for her work. She debuts at BVC with her collection Eldritch Evolutions, her first short story collection.

And that’s not all! Also debuting today at BVC is a fantasy novel, Swords Over Fireshore by Pati Nagle. Pati’s stories have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Cricket, and others. She was a Writers of the Future and Theodore Sturgeon Award finalist. Her novels include the Blood of the Kindred series (The Betrayal, Heart of the Exiled), and urban fantasy Immortal.

Please stop by and visit us at Book View Café.

So Nice…

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Mostly, I’m a nice person. Odds are excellent that I won’t cheat you, sabotage you, or stab you in the back. I’m not very good at holding grudges either. Frankly, grudges, old hates, enemies, that sort of thing, just take up so much emotional energy, why bother? Unfortunately, this attitude sometimes gets in the way of my writing. While I find that it’s not all that hard to destroy worlds in the course of a story, allowing my characters to behave badly, or inflicting true tragedy on them — that takes work!

In one of my early novels I reached a point, maybe two-thirds through, when I just couldn’t write anymore. This went on for some time until I realized the problem: I was conflicted about the fate of a beloved character. The plot called for one ending, while my heart longed for another. Eventually, I skipped ahead and wrote the necessary ending. After fate was set, finishing the draft was easy.

My tendency toward “nice” also gets in the way of developing secondary characters — I do so like reasonable, thoughtful people! In the current work-in-progress I was developing a secondary character who was nice: logical, reasonable, considerate—but I wasn’t making any progress with the section and finally it occurred to me that maybe nice wasn’t what I needed. I can assure you the character isn’t nearly so nice now, and I’ve been able to move on to the next part of the story.

Probably my most intense conflict with “nice” came about in the writing of my just-released novel Hepen The Watcher, a sequel to The Dread Hammer. Both books follow the adventures and tribulations of an antihero protagonist named Smoke.

Like many of us, I love antiheroes. They don’t worry at all about “nice,” but deep down they’re decent respectable people. Sort of. At least occasionally. Well, anyway, in Hepen The Watcher I reached a point where I couldn’t go on. (Yes, we’ve got a theme going here. For me, lack of progress generally means I’m trying to progress in the wrong direction.) This time around, I knew exactly what the problem was: Smoke had to deal with the fate of a secondary character. He could (a) show some extreme character development and be nice; or he could (b) show a bit of character development by feeling a rare twinge of guilt for what he was doing.

My natural inclination was to go with (a). But as I thought about it, I reminded myself that it wasn’t a question of what I would do, it was a question of what Smoke would do…and in the end I opted for (b). Writing that scene was wrenching, for me, the nice writer. I still cringe a little when I think about it—but sometimes it takes a ruthless character to insist on the necessary ruthless course of action.

Hepen the Watcher: the ebook is out!

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012


It’s been longer than I’d hoped, but the ebook edition of Hepen the Watcher: Stories of the Puzzle Lands – Book 2 is now out and available at (USA), Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble. It’ll be out at Book View Café next Tuesday, March 20.

Stories of the Puzzle Lands began with The Dread Hammer and continues with Hepen the Watcher. Here’s the back cover description:

The demon Dismay’s murderous nature has earned him the ire of his beloved wife, who has sent him away in a fit of temper. In his exile he ventures south into the land of Lutawa, drawn there by the prayers of abused and desperate women who beg him to grant them vengeance against the men who cruelly rule their lives–and Dismay is pleased to do it.

Still, murder is hard and dirty work.

When an avid desire for a bath brings him to a fine Lutawan estate, he meets two beautiful young women. Ui and Eleanor are well-acquainted with the whispered tales of the demon Dismay, who slays men but never women, and they’re delighted to entertain their fearsome guest, but they warn him to beware.

Lutawa is ruled by an immortal king, who punishes treason with the terrible weapon of infernal fire. Believing this king to be the same cruel deity known in the north as Hepen the Watcher, Dismay resolves to kill him–and accidentally draws Ui and Eleanor into his schemes.

Those who help Dismay risk a fiery death, those who hinder him risk the demon’s bloody retribution, while Dismay, still yearning for his wife’s forgiveness, discovers that love can be as hazardous as the wrath of Hepen the Watcher.

Read Sample Chapters Here

Digital painting by Sarah Adams
Cover art ©2012 Mythic Island Press LLC


Monday, March 12th, 2012

Just had to share this detail illustration from the print cover of Hepen the Watcher. On the front cover, the ax is clutched in the hands of my anti-hero protagonist. I like to include a decorative element on the back cover, and the ax seemed ideal, so I tried to separate the layers in the Photoshop master file, and pull the ax out. That didn’t work as well as I’d hoped, so I went back to the artist, Sarah Adams, and asked if she could pull out the detail of the ax, and isolate it for use on the back cover–which is exactly what she did, and overnight too.

The shame is that I can’t show you the full-resolution image because the file is too big. But trust me, it’s awesome. And if you ever need some illustration work, give Sarah Adams a tweet at @sarahadams23

If You Like This, Then You’d Also Like…

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

I’m in a quandary. Book View Café makes use of a promotional book-giveaway offered by the website, in which a hundred ebooks are given away to early reviewers. The hope is, early readers will post reviews which will encourage other readers to try the book, who will in turn post reviews, resulting in a rapidly expanding pyramid of appreciation that will, via exponential growth, soon take over the world!

Or at least sell a handful more books.

I’d like to include my upcoming novel Hepen the Watcher in the program, but to do so I need to come up with five fairly well-known novels that could be seen as “similar” to HtW, particularly in the sense of “If you liked Book-X, then you’d probably like Hepen the Watcher.”

So I’m looking for suggestions of books to swap in for the Book-X variable.

It’s a bit awkward, because at this point none of you reading this have actually read HtW. So how would you know? But I’m hoping some of you have read the first book of this series, The Dread Hammer. And if so, are there any fairly well-known novels you might suggest on that basis? Books that are similar in attitude, whether from the same genre or not?