Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Archive for December, 2011

Aloha to 2011

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Here in Hawaii we’ll get around to the New Year in a few more hours. Most everyone else has already rolled over into 2012, but we like to linger. I don’t mind. For me, 2011 has been a good year. I learned a lot, and not just about how to run my own little publishing company. I learned how to write again, and I learned that I really do want to be in this business after all, so long as I can do things more-or-less on my own terms. That’s not asking too much, is it? 😉

Happy New Year to everyone out there! May 2012 prove a terrific year for all.

For myself, I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

Kanaha Pond

Friday, December 30th, 2011

On the edge of Kahului, Maui’s main town, is a wetland wildlife refuge known as Kanaha Pond. There are always birds to be seen there, but today and yesterday there were a lot of birds–more than I’ve seen before. Many were Hawaiian stilts, ae`o in Hawaiian, an endangered species. The others that were flocking were (I think) ruddy turnstone (akeke) I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures this evening, despite the failing light.

Hawaiian Stilt or ae`o

Hawaiian Stilt feeding in the evening

Hawaiian Stilt feeding in the evening

Ruddy turnstones (akeke)

Ruddy turnstones (akeke)

West Maui Mountains
This is a shot of one peak of the West Maui Mountains…snapped from the car window while looking for parking at Costco. How mundane is that? But Costco is just a couple hundred yards from Kanaha Pond.

Writing Goals for 2011: The Assessment

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Last year, on January 1st, I published my writing goals for 2011. At the time I knew I was being pretty easy on myself, but I thought it was better to put up a target that I had a chance of hitting, then to lock myself into misery and failure. So here’s the result:

1. Publish my indie novel, The Wild, in both print and ebook versions, and PROMOTE!

Didn’t happen! In fact, 2011 started off with massive failure. Reader feedback on this novel was so unenthusiastic that I decided early-on not to publish it. But I haven’t given up on it. Expect to see The Wild involved in my goals for 2012.

2. Complete a draft of a new novel.

Done! In fact, I drafted, revised, and published The Dread Hammer by May of 2011. Over the summer I drafted the sequel, Hepen the Watcher, and have that nearly ready to publish. I’m also 20,000 words into another novel, and have a rough outline on a fourth that I’m looking forward to working on as soon as I’ve cleared some other projects. So novel writing in 2011 was a win! I also managed to write two pieces of short fiction, which wasn’t even on my list of goals last year.

3. Release ebook versions of Limit of Vision and Memory.

Done! I also published two of my old short stories as ebooks, and late in the year, put out a collection of all my previously published short work, titled Goddesses & Other Stories. So putting out ebooks was a win.

4. Release print-on-demand versions of Tech-Heaven, The Bohr Maker, Deception Well, Vast, Limit of Vision, Memory, and my YA novel Skye Object 3270a.

This was a win because I changed my goal along the way. I decided there wasn’t enough demand at this time to justify POD versions of Limit of Vision and Memory. When they start selling in better numbers, I’ll reassess. But all the other books listed above are now available in print.

5. Finalize and market my first screenplay.

This is a technical win. I did finalize the screenplay, but it never got past the west coast agent, and by the time I had any feedback on it, my interests had moved entirely to novel writing, so I didn’t pursue it.

6. Write a second screenplay.

Nope. Didn’t happen. The idea I’d been toying with for a second screenplay is now on its way to becoming a novel.

7. Keep up with this blog

I’ll call this a win. There have been quiet periods, but I did much better at blogging in 2011 than I’ve done in past years. I see this as a very casual, random sort of blog. I hope that works for you.

8. Meet lots of great people in the reading and writing communities!

If “meet” means “meet online” than this is a win. I’ve also become part of a local writing group for some actual face time with other writers.

How did you do this year? Did you meet your goals? Or exceed them?

New Covers for the Short Stories

Monday, December 26th, 2011

The experimenting continues. I’ve put together new ebook covers for my two single short stories. Here are the original versions:

And here are the new versions:

What do you think?

I upgraded the cover on Hooks just to make it match. The real subject of this experiment is In The Tide. Several writers have seen increased book sales by getting the pricing on the first book in a series down to “free.” Personally, I’m not a fan of “free” for a quality novel, but I thought it would be interesting to see if there would be any increase in readership if I could offer a related short story for free. Since In The Tide is something of a precursor story to The Nanotech Succession, (ideas for the series were developed in it, though it’s not part of the series’ story world), it’s my best candidate.

The short story with it’s new cover has been uploaded to both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The next step is to try to figure out how to get the price down to “free.”

Sunshine & Rain

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

It’s Christmas Eve here on Maui. Our upcountry district of Kula has enjoyed a brilliant, sunny day, but this being an island, the weather can vary a lot over a short distance. We drove a few miles around the mountain to Makawao, and it was pouring. We went down to the coast, and from the condition of the streets, it was easy to see we’d just missed a downpour there. And now we’re back home in Kula and the sun is still shining…of course, we could use the rain!

Looking toward Kahului, on the northshore of Maui. Rain clouds are hugging the coast.

An amazing number of surfers were in the water at Ho`okipa, despite the weather.

A rainbow over Makawao, photographed from sunny Kula Highway.

Happy Holidays to All!

Blog Roundup

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Here are a couple of interesting blog posts, the first from David Gaughran on Amazon’s KDP select program and subscription programs in general:

I’m more concerned about how exclusivity could limit my creative promotions. These are the three best things I have done in the last six months to help sales or put money in my pocket:

LibraryThing Giveaways
Making the PDF of Let’s Get Digital a free download on my blog.
Crowdfunding the release of A Storm Hits Valparaiso.

Collectively, those three moves have been directly responsible for more than 50% of my revenue this year, and probably a lot more indirectly. The first two are certainly impermissible under the terms of KDP Select, and the third is up in the air, depending on your interpretation.

And the blog post that sent me to David’s site–Chuck Wendig on The Precarious Portentious Perils of Self-publishing (with all the usual Chuck Wendig profane and over-the-top style / you’ve been warned):

the DIY-slash-indie-slash-micropub-slash-selfpub route is a path fraught with perils all its own — perils different from those encountered by the writer going the “other” way. And I’d like to talk about some of those perils here and now, both in order to make new writers aware of them and, further, to ideate some solutions for the aforementioned perils.

One of those perils is “discoverability”–how does a writer connect with the readers who might like her books? We’re all still looking for the solution to that one, though I continue to strongly suspect that a combination of traditional and indie publishing is the likeliest way forward. That said, I’m going to be ignoring my own advice. I’ll be publishing my next book, Hepen the Watcher, sequel to The Dread Hammer, all on my own again, because I like doing things that way–I like being in control. I might try shopping around the next book after that, but right now I just don’t have the patience for it.


Where Do You Buy Your Books?

Friday, December 9th, 2011

I buy almost all my books at Amazon. Odds are good that you do too, and our reasons are probably similar:

1. Been shopping there for years and years
2. Pricing is excellent
3. My account is there
4. Very convenient and easy to use
5. I have a Kindle—purchased books automagically appear on my device with no effort on my part.

I’ll also say that sales at Amazon account for the majority of sales on books I’ve published through my company, Mythic Island Press LLC, and while that doesn’t add up to nearly enough to make a living, without Amazon I would have little hope for future success. Most writers are in the same situation. I wish it weren’t so, because it’s always worrisome when one agency holds most of the power.

If you follow indie publishing, you’ve probably already heard that Amazon has made a new offer to independent publishers. Details are all over the web but in essence, Amazon is asking for the exclusive right to sell an author’s ebooks — meaning the books won’t be available at any other vendor — in exchange for a very uncertain amount of additional money. It’s possible some writers could benefit from this program, but I won’t be one of them. It took a lot of effort to get the rights back on my books and to re-publish them as ebooks, and as print books too. I like being in control of my distribution; I like being able to offer readers alternatives; and I really like the security of not having all my eggs in one basket.

My books are, and will continue to be, available at Amazon—but there are other places to shop for books. Some of the more obvious are Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords. I’m not currently selling at all those places, but lots of writers are. One of the less obvious places to look for books is an author’s own website. I’m not selling ebooks from my website, but more and more authors are, with the result that, less transaction fees, every penny paid goes directly and immediately to the writer, with no portion lost to a middleman, and no time spent waiting for the check to arrive. There is no better way to support a writer’s future work, then by buying direct.

And then there is Book View Café. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ve heard me talk about BVC before. Book View Café is an author’s cooperative of over thirty professionals in several different genres working together to publish and promote DRM-free ebooks in both mobi (Kindle) and epub (Nook) formats. Buying a book from BVC is not quite as convenient as buying from Amazon. You have to download the file and then transfer it to your reader. But you’ll receive a reasonably priced and professionally produced book, along with the knowledge that 95% of the purchase price (less transaction fees) will go to the author. I hope you’ll consider that a worthy result!

Below is a list of names you can find at Book View Café. For more details, look here. And please, stop by and browse!

Le Guin

A Science Fiction Stocking Stuffer

Friday, December 9th, 2011

“Danger! Possibly Infectious to Young Minds!”

So says Randy Stafford in his reader review of Skye Object 3270a posted at Amazon.

Book cover for Skye Object 3270aI haven’t been paying much attention lately to the book listings, so I was gratified to discover that Skye Object, my young-adult science fiction novel, has garnered some very nice reader reviews at Amazon and Library Thing. It’s a fast-paced adventure aimed at advanced middle-grade readers–and if you know any of those, please consider making the book a holiday gift. It’s available in print as well as ebook versions.

Signed copies of the print book are available at my website, but the best deals are at Barnes & Noble or Amazon. Powell’s carries the book online as well, but prices are higher there.
Here’s the short description:

Skye was found as an infant, adrift in a lifepod in an isolated star system. Now she’s a bold teen who wants to know where she came from. Helping in her search for answers are best friend Zia, handsome young astronomer Devi, and the courageous Buyu Mkolu. Their adventure will take them from their high-tech home to an alien wilderness and then up, to the dangerously fascinating zone of high orbit.

Here are links:

Barnes & Noble (USA)
Amazon USA
Amazon UK
Booktopia (Australia)
Powell’s Books (USA)

And here are some of the nice bits from readers who’ve posted their opinions:

From Library Thing Early Reviewers

“Excellent story… Once you start the book, you will not be able to stop.” — roadway2000

“This reads very quickly and I was through it before I realized… All in all an excellent story.” — Gord.Barker

“Skye Object 3270a is certainly one of the best books I’ve read and I encourage anyone who enjoys an adventurous story to pick this one up.”—KaelebsMomma

“I ended up reading this straight through in one sitting.”—cwallen

From Amazon US

“I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It combined the best of both science fiction and young adult: likeable teenage characters struggling to find their place in a high-tech alien world.”– Joe Vasicek

“An excellent book for the young adult reader.”– Jill from Pgh

“In short, Nagata, I think, has a good chance with this work to accomplish her goal of infecting the next generation with the meme of science fiction, the love of plausible speculation and the wonder of science. And adults like me will be happy to follow along.”—Randy Stafford

Pearl Harbor 70th Anniversary

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Today was the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the event which led to the United States entering into World War II. Every year Pearl Harbor Day is observed in Hawaii, but the 70th anniversary was a day of special ceremonies commemorating the dead and the handful of remaining survivors, all old men now, in their late eighties and early nineties.

My daughter and son-in-law were privileged to attend the early morning ceremony. They’ve put together a blog in words and images, capturing the mood of the day:

Seventy years ago, a quiet winter morning much like today’s hung over Pearl Harbor. War had been ongoing in the Pacific since 1937, and in Europe since 1939. Despite the surrounding conflict, the United States and its citizens sought neutrality; war had yet to reach our shores, and there was no desire or expectation of involvement in any of the conflicts.

Find the full post and photos here.

Book View Café–New Release

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Lord of the Two LandsLord of the Two Lands (fantasy)
by Judith Tarr
December 6, 2011 $4.99
ISBN: 978 1 61138 134 4
LCCN: 93-24635
Copyright: 1993, 2011

Description: In 336 B.C., Egypt lies under the yoke of Persia. But from the north a spirit of fire moves across the world. His name is Alexander, and he is the destined conqueror of the Persian Empire–and the king foretold of Egypt. Meriamon, daughter of the last Pharaoh, journeys out of Egypt to find him and bring him home. From the battlefield of Issus to the siege of Tyre, from the founding of Alexandria to the divine revelations of Siwah, Meriamon both leads and follows her divine charge, who becomes her friend and her chosen king.

Find it at Book View Café.

Judith Tarr is the author of numerous novels and short stories, including ALAMUT and THE DAGGER AND THE CROSS from Book View Cafe. LORD OF THE TWO LANDS was nominated for the World Fantasy Award.