Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Archive for the 'Writing' Category

Progress Report

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

I’ve been focused on finishing the revision of my newest novel. Nearly there! I’ve revised from beginning to end, and am now going over notes, dumping what I don’t need anymore, and adding in the bits that I’d still like to include.

Adding in small sections — sometimes just a line or two — sounds easy. Sometimes it actually is! But other times, no way! It requires finding exactly the right spot to fit the idea/phrase/description into the flow of the story which can be challenging all on its own, and then presenting it in a way that feels natural to the story.

Some concepts and some terms need to appear throughout the story so as to give the impression that these are really and truly elements of the story world. For example, I might introduce an idea very early in a novel, and I might need it again at the climax. But if I don’t mention it again between beginning and end, readers like you are going to go “Huh? Where’d that come from?” because, you know, it’s hard to remember all the details from a hundred thousand words earlier.

So for me anyway, there is always a lot of detail work. This is why I am so perplexed when writers say they produce four, five, six, novels a year. I guess they just get all the details down the first time through.

Anyway, I’m hoping to fully finish this draft by the end of the week, and then dive into the sequel, which I would love to have drafted by summer.

More soon!

Oh, February

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

Book sales have been terrible so far this month. Maybe it’s a February thing, but it’s a bit discouraging.

On the positive side, the Locus Recommended Reading list came out on the first of the month and includes The Last Good Man and my short story “The Martian Obelisk.” Unfortunately this hasn’t helped book sales! But you can see the whole list here.

Oh, and you — yes, you — can vote for the Locus awards! You don’t have to be a subscriber. Anyone can vote. Here’s the voting link. Go vote for whatever you feel is worthy.

More good news: “The Martian Obelisk” (much to my delighted surprise) will appear in FIVE best-of-the-year anthologies. So that’s kind of cool. If you haven’t read it yet, you can do so online right here at Oh and if you are eligible to vote for the Hugo or Nebula awards, “The Martian Obelisk” is eligible in the short story category. Just sayin’.

Why do awards matter? I wrote a whole post on that at one point. It’s here if you want to read it, but basically, awards help to sell books. Some writers sell a lot of books regardless of awards, but some of us don’t. And selling books is one of those KEY factors that helps writers stay in business. So hey, we list our eligible work and ask readers to consider it. That’s about it.

Writing Goals For 2018

Monday, January 1st, 2018

Happy New Year, everyone!

For the past several years I’ve been posting my annual writing goals on the first day of the year. To continue that tradition, here’s what I hope to accomplish in 2017:

1. Finish the NOVEL IN PROGRESS and get it published. The first draft of this one is done and I’m presently revising, but the publication date depends on my progress with goal #2 on this list…

2. WRITE THE SEQUEL to the novel in #1. Bonus: Publish it by the end of the year. I’d really love to get both novels out with just a brief delay between them. We’ll see…

3. RETURN TO MILITARY FICTION by getting started on a novella or novel. I don’t expect to have this one finished at year’s end, just well started.

4. Finish a NOVELETTE I’ve already started. I’m 9,000 words into this one, so I ought to be able to finish it. If it wants to grow into a novella, that’s fine.

5. Write a hard SF short story, 7,000 words or less.

6. Write another short story, science fiction or fantasy, in an existing story world or not.

For me, that’s a lot! I’m trying to be more ambitious this year than I was in 2017.

What are YOUR writing goals for 2018? What are your reading goals? Share them here!

Writing Goals for 2017: The Assessment

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

Since 2011, I’ve been publishing a list of my writing goals for the year, and at the end of the year I take a look at that list and assess how I did at meeting those goals. So it’s time to assess 2017. What follows is a list of the goals I posted on January 1 2017, and how I did on each one.

1. Write a NEW NOVEL. It may or may not be the one I’ve already started, but I want to have a new novel, either in my agent’s hands or ready to publish myself, by the end of the year.

I partly succeeded in this. I DID write a new novel. It WASN’T the novel I had already started when I wrote my list of goals last year.

I didn’t start making real progress on this newest novel until the second half of the year, and I finished the first draft just a couple of weeks ago, which means I’m still revising. So it’s not ready for publication yet!

2. Write a SHORT STORY. I’m only going to require one. Science fiction or fantasy, but unrelated to any existing work. If any additional short fiction happens, that will be a bonus.

In recent years I’ve had trouble with short stories and for the first nine months of this year I didn’t manage any. But since my October workshop I’ve written two short stories and have 9000+ words that will become a novelette or maybe even a novella some day soon. I know this was an easy goal, but I’m grateful I pulled it off in the end!

3. Write a NOVELLA set in an existing story world. This is an unmet goal carried over into a fourth year. I still want to write it. There is a chance it will turn into a novel. So it goes.

NOPE! Year after year I post this same goal, but I still have not succeeded in writing that novella.

4. PUBLISH the novel I finished writing in 2016. It’s going to be a complex process, but I’m looking forward to it.

DONE. If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably familiar with this novel. 😉 The Last Good Man was published in June. Thank you to everyone who bought a copy. Thank you to everyone who’s helped to spread the word. It hasn’t been a rousing market success and I haven’t quite met my year-end sales goals, but it’s done well enough that I’m encouraged to keep going for another year.

Last year’s list of goals was short, in large part because I wasn’t feeling confident about my writing, or what direction I should go with my work. I’ll be posting my 2018 goals next week. It will be a more ambitious list.

Did you have writing goals for 2017? How did you do?

The Days Are Flashing Past So Quickly

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

Recent Work
My recent workdays have mostly gone toward that short story I need to write — mentioned in my last post — and an early start on revising the novel-in-progress.

Happily, I’ve now got a solid draft of the short story. Sadly, it’s a thousand words longer than I wanted it to be. Brevity is an asset in a short story, right? I mean, it’s part of the definition. I’ll go over it another time or two, but at this point it’s unlikely I’ll manage to chop out 20% of it. Oh well.

As for the novel, I finally put together a detailed timeline for the story world. Yay, me!

What’s that? Well, yes, it would be more logical to create a timeline before writing the story, but when I’m starting something new, I find it’s usually best just to plunge right in before fear has time to freeze my forward progress.

The State of the Union
In political news, I was relieved to see Alabama reject their loathsome Republican senate candidate. It feels like a step back from the abyss. On the other hand, almost half of Alabama voters found this wretch to be worthy of representing them, so I see this as only a reprieve. No telling just yet if the tide will really turn.

Here’s a post from last year on pessimism.

Year-End Lists
Lots of publications, as well as individual reviewers, like to put together lists of their favorite books at the end of each year. My work hasn’t made any of the big lists (NYT, NPR, etc.). We can assume this is because they never read my work. 🙂 But here are a couple of lists you might enjoy.

“Featured Futures” has a list of favorite online short science fiction. Yes, my story is included, but there are links to lots of other stories too. Check it out! I’m going to.

Reviewer Paul Weimer, who writes for both and Barnes & Noble, among others, has put together a post on some of his favorite novels from 2017. What I really like about this (besides that he included The Last Good Man!) is the uniquely descriptive categories he’s using. Check it out here.


Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

Today I declared the current novel-in-progress to be a complete first draft. There will be lots of cleanup and revision to follow, but for now, Huzzah!

I’m also over 9,000 words into a no-longer-short story. This one was intended for an anthology, but it’s way past the word limit for that and it’s only going to get longer. So I’ve put it aside for now, though I hope to finish it sometime in the next couple of months.

Meanwhile, I still owe a story for that anthology, so that project will now be priority one.

After that, it will be revisions on the novel I just finished, and then on to a planned sequel. I’m making an effort to worry less and write more. So far, so good.

Science Fiction World + German Audiobooks

Monday, December 4th, 2017

Science Fiction World is the premier science fiction magazine in China. “The Martian Obelisk” is my third story to be published there in translation. I just received my contributor copies today. See the cover below, along with the illustrated start of the story. (Click the cover for a larger image).

Science Fiction World 10.2017 with The Martian Obelisk

“The Martian Obelisk” was originally published last July at You can read it there online — in English!

And for German speakers, the final volume of Red trilogy is coming soon in audio!

Random Post

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

I feel like I should be posting here more often, but most of my time these days is going towards writing, followed by all the other daily essentials of life.

So what’s going on with the writing? Well, the end is in sight on the initial draft of a new novel. This will be a short novel compared to most of my work. I’m hoping the final will be around 75,000 words. It will also be the first of an anticipated trilogy of similarly short novels, so we’ll see how that goes. I’d like to get book 2 drafted in the next few months. How’s that for ambition?

It looks like I need to get back to promoting the books…
Before and after The Last Good Man came out, a huge percentage of my time went toward promotion — and not much toward writing. I started backing off on the promo activities in September and by October I wasn’t doing much at all. I don’t think I’ve done more than tweet about the book a few times in November — and wow, have sales fallen off over the past two or three weeks. And not just on my newest, but on the other books too. Yes, it’s a bit discouraging. Isn’t “momentum” supposed to kick in at some point? Heh.

There’s a school of thought in indie publishing that the way to grow your career is to have a new novel come out every three months. Deep down, I suspect this might be true, but that’s far, far faster than I can get a book out the door. Oh well. At least I’m having fun with the writing … which is why I don’t want to shift focus back to promotion! 😉

The New Writing Schedule

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

At the start of the month I mentioned that I’d undertaken a new writing schedule:

Writing more fiction is my top priority and I’ve already adjusted my schedule to accommodate that. My plan is to ignore email, Twitter, and the news until at least noon. Instead, I’ll start my day by diving straight into writing…

I’ve stuck to this new schedule since then and I’m loving it. Words are still not pouring forth in a torrent, but I’m so much more focused on the writing, on the storytelling, and for me that’s the important thing. When I’m immersed in the words, progress is going to be made.

I’ve gone back to the novel I started earlier this year. Much of the past few days has been spent getting my notes in order and plotting the remaining events that take place in this volume, along with some of the main action in the next, but I’ve also been slowly extending the word count.

A side effect of this schedule, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, is that I’ve been spending a lot less time on social media, Twitter in particular. It’s better to be writing. Right?

Finished a Short Story

Sunday, November 5th, 2017

Doubt and discouragement have weighed on me these past few years and sapped much of the fun of writing. The direct result is that my productivity has declined. It’s been taking me longer and longer to write, and I’m not nearly as good at sticking to a project and finishing it as I used to be. For example, right now I have at least three novels/novellas in various stages of development and a long short story well begun but far from finished.

But I’m happy to report that since attending the recent workshop, I’m feeling better about this whole writing gig. I returned home with a new sense of direction, with my optimism refreshed, and with a renewed determination to write more.

I decided to jump on the task of writing more while still at the workshop. I came up with a new idea for a story and promptly set to work on it, writing the beginning at the workshop, another long section on the flight home, and finishing it over this past week thanks to my new writing schedule.

At 7,200 words this is a long short story, but no longer than it needs to be. 🙂

I’ll read it over at least one more time, but as of this morning I’m calling it done — which is an incredible relief. This is the first short story I’ve finished this year.

Next on the agenda: Back to work on the story I was laboring over before heading to the mainland. My goal is to have that done by the end of the week. Fingers crossed!