Tag Archives: stories

The Canadian Who Won’t be Returning From the Stars

Ooof. I finally got the first collection of SF stories I’ve written with Jay Lake up to Draft2Digital tonight, Almost All the Way Home From the Stars. Here’s the blurb:

“Almost All the Way Home From the Stars” contains seven science fiction short stories by award winning writers Jay Lake and Ruth Nestvold. The settings range from distant worlds, to the near future, to an alternate US where slavery was never abolished. Here a sampling:

“Rivers of Eden”: In a world transformed by a virus affecting faith, one lone scientist wants to set loose a cure for fanaticism.

“The Big Ice”: On Hutchinson’s World, Vega and Mox are trying to unravel the mystery of the Big Ice — until the family responsibilities Vega has been trying to escape come back to haunt her.

“The Canadian Who Came Almost All the Way Home From the Stars”: An NSA agent is assigned to look after a Canadian scientist whose husband has left Earth to visit the stars — and the strange dimple in the lake that she is watching, while waiting for his return.

Five of the stories have been previously published elsewhere, in various online and print markets, including Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best Science Fiction. Two stories are new with this collection.

No links as yet, since it takes a while for books to go up on the various markets, but I will pass them along when I have them. I’m going straight D2D this time, since I’m passing all the profits on to Jay (what little there will be, given how notoriously hard short story collections are to sell). But it will make it a lot easier for me to keep track of profits for this book if everything is in one place. AND D2D will also do all the Createspace work for me. I wasn’t completely happy with the PDF that will be the basis for the print copy of the book, but doing all the Createspace formatting on my own for Yseult was a huge amount of work, and I don’t feel like tackling that again this week. I want this done and out of here. 🙂

And Jay needs to concentrate on his bucket list.

Speaking of Yseult, Createspace has finally approved the files I sent for the print version, but I would rather wait until the light of day to ok them for publication. *g*

In other news, my daughter and I created an amazing cover for Chameleon in a Mirror, but it’s late here in Central Europe, and I can’t figure out how to upload the image from the Facebook page, where I first asked for feedback. When I have a new version, I’ll upload it here!

Haven’t gotten very far in the New Words department in the last few days. I’m hoping that with a couple of these bigger projects off my list (see above), I can spend more time on plain old creation again.

On losing work (and other frustrations)

I spent several hours on Monday doing revisions of Island of Glass: addressing critique comments, filling holes, researching some things I’d left out. It felt really good to have a nice block of time for serious writing again, after all the writing business I’ve been doing lately, what with the formatting for the hard copy version of Yseult and the short story collection I’m putting together of my stories with Jay.

Then yesterday I opened the file — and none of the revisions I did on Monday were there.

I’m not sure what happened, if it was some kind of a software glitch or something, or if I was just so befuddled that I copied the old version onto the new rather than the other way around (I was working on my little netbook, which tends to keep me from wasting too much time on the Internet).

I was so frustrated, I didn’t bother going back to it yesterday, and only today have I started trying to recreate the edits I lost. Sigh.

It’s been that kind of week. I got the PDF of Yseult made and uploaded to Createspace, and it told me I needed larger inner margins, since the book is over 600 pages. More formatting, new PDF, another upload. The next time, it objected to the map. And so it goes …

At least I got Yseult up to Draft2Digital today. When I recently had an ad on Bookbub, it took Smashwords about a week to update my sales to the Apple store; D2D gives me that info the next day. So once the D2D version of Yseult is up, I’m canceling the Apple distribution on Smashwords. I will slowly be doing that with the rest of my books too.

Well, if the weather plays along, tomorrow there will be grilling in the garden, and maybe a little bubbly too. 🙂

A new story collection and upcoming freebies

Most of my time lately has been spent working on the new collection of stories I wrote with Jay Lake. A few years back, we collaborated on a number of stories together, both science fiction and fantasy. When I started switching from traditional publishing to ebooks, I told Jay I could put together some collections of our fiction. But since I always have more projects than time, I kept putting it off. Then recently I learned that Jay’s battle with cancer has taken a turn for the worse, and I figured I better finally get on it. (As opposed to my writing buddy, Jay, I don’t go into personal stuff a lot on this blog, but for the record, I had a crying fit before I realized I had to shift priorities a bit.)

The first book of our collaborations that I’m doing is science fiction and includes five previously published stories (two of which were reprinted in Year’s Best anthologies), as well as two stories new to this collection. I’m not done with formatting it yet, and I still need to write a blurb (always particularly hard with collections, gah). But here’s the second version of the cover:

Please let me know what you think!

The other big project that I’ve been working on this week is FINALLY PUTTING TOGETHER A PRINT VERSION OF YSEULT! I splurged and bought a license from Book Design Templates. But if you click on the link, don’t believe that marketing line about your book “looking this good in just minutes.” Having some base styles already designed, and by a pro, is definitely a time-saver, but I’ve spent most of the day today importing Yseult into the template, defining styles, looking for import mistakes (e.g. I lost all of my italics and have to find them again in another window in Word), etc. — and I’m still not done. But since that whole procedure is definitely worth a blog post of its own, I won’t bother you with any more detail now.

I also spent a fair amount of time organizing some freebies for the coming week and notifying sites that will still carry announcements. I’m slowly moving my books out of KDP Select. Of the twelve ebooks I have out now, five are still in Select (one by mistake). Of those that are still in, several will be free next week. I did some overlapping in an attempt to get more of my books on my other books “alsobots” — something I’m not having much luck with. I suspect that’s because I don’t write exclusively in one narrowly defined genre. The readers who enjoy Yseult and Shadow of Stone may well have absolutely no interest in Looking Through Lace, and vice versa. So be it. One of the things I love about being an indie author is that I can write whatever I want, without someone else pressuring me to watch out for my BRAND. Ok, so it means I’m going to continue to sell modestly until I get enough out there in ALL the genres I like to write — or a miracle occurs. But the thing is, I really enjoy the freedom. 🙂

Anyway, here are the upcoming freebies:

Dragon Time and Other Stories – April 29-30

Misty and the Magic Pumpkin Knife – April 30 – May 4

Beyond the Waters of the World – May 3-4

The Future, Imperfect – May 4-5


Great review of Shadow of Stone!

Just a short note: Shadow of Stone (The Pendragon Chronicles) got its first review today, and a very enthusiastic one it is. 🙂 You can read it here.

Given that wonderful endorsement, I would like to remind you that Shadow of Stone is free today for the Kindle!

Those of you who subscribe to Daily Science Fiction, the story in your mailbox today is my flash piece, “The Magician of Words.” I hope you enjoy it!

Another round of goals: publication date, draft completion and more

After all the editing and marketing and ebook publishing I’ve been doing so far this year, I really need to get my writer hat firmly back on and concentrate on writing again. My main goal will be to write at least 2500 new words a week. If I can stick with that, I should have close to a complete first draft of Fragments of Legend by the end of June. Of course, I don’t know exactly how many words total it will end up being, but I already have over 70,000 words in draft and notes. This won’t be the same kind of epic monster as Yseult and Shadow of Stone, at least I don’t think it will, *g* so another 30,000 words should put me in close to finished territory.

I do, of course, also have a few more epublishing goals. Shadow of Stone has an editing slot from April 16 – 27, after which I will need to review the changes and do the ebook formatting. I will also be consulting with the cover artist, and have to take that into consideration. I’m shooting for publication in May, which I think is still realistic, even if I maintain the weekly word count.

If time allows, I would also like to get another short story collection out, but only if life and my other goals make it feasible. I don’t want to be concentrating as much on the epublishing as I was in the first couple of months of this year. New material is important, even when you have a fairly respectable inventory of previously published material to fall back on.

In the spirit of new material, I would also like to revise and polish at least two short stories and get them out on the market.

I’ve been invited to do a guest lecture at the University of Stuttgart, so that will also have to be written. Although it will be non-fiction, and in German, perhaps I will allow myself to count that towards my weekly writing goals so as not to get too stressed out about it. 🙂

“The Future, Imperfect” FREE for 24 hours!

I have another freebie going on today, my short story collection The Future, Imperfect. Here’s the product description:

“The Future, Imperfect” is a collection of near future, dystopian short stories by Ruth Nestvold. Environmental changes — slow in some regions, catastrophic in others — have had a major effect on our world, not for the better. While water wars and pandemics have devastated the Mediterrean region, and a major earthquake and the resulting destruction of nuclear power plants and sensitive research facilities have made much of California a wasteland, corporate-sponsored enclaves defend themselves from the have-nots. What can any one individual do to make a difference is such a world? These are the stories both of those who tried and those who failed.

Five of the short stories in this collection were previously published in such venues as Asimov’s and Futurismic. “Exit Without Saving” also appeared in Rich Horton’s “Science Fiction 2007: The Best of the Year.” “Killfile” is an original publication.

“The Future, Imperfect,” is a story collection of approximately 40,000 words.

If that sounds interesting, please grab yourself a copy! Believe me, you’ll be doing me a favor. 🙂

P.S. If you have any suggestions for the description, I’d be happy to hear them!

Epub joys and woes: New review of Yseult, getting reviews for Tears

For me, one of the nicest things about switching from an emphasis on traditional publication to indie is that I’m getting a lot more direct feedback from readers. Ok, direct feedback isn’t always good, as we know, and I tend to approach reviews of a novel that I spent years writing with a certain amount of trepidation. Which is why I do not haunt Amazon, waiting to see if another review will show up — and that in turn is why I’m a bit late reporting about the lovely new review of Yseult by Kriti Godey:

… I opened up Yseult to flip through it and see what kind of a book it was. I’m usually not the biggest fan of romance, even though I love fantasy and historical books, so I wasn’t really expecting to get sucked into this book like I was. I started reading, and couldn’t stop….

The book is much more than a love story. It is truly an epic, exploring the conflicts between paganism and Christianity, political maneuvering between the various kings of Britain and Ireland, the wars between themselves and with the Saxons, and a lot more. It reminded me a bit of The Mists of Avalon, although Yseult was much more fun to read. (Complete review here.)

Now that’s the kind of comparison I like! 😀 I also really liked that she thought the way I portrayed the religious conflict of the time as “almost unbiased,” something I was aiming for while writing the book. I tried hard to show the advantages of both the old religion and the new. My “bad guys” are not one religion or the other, they are people who use belief systems for their own purposes, i.e. hypocrites. The German translation got locked into the Celtic revivalist corner pretty quickly, however, which made me feel a bit powerless. It’s wonderful to be reaching readers now who seem to understand better what I was trying to do with that novel. Thank you, Kriti!

Reviews and editors have been the theme of the week for the latest reassessment of my writing goals. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve decided to move contacting book blogs higher up on my list of priorities. As compared to the couple thousand downloads both Yseult and Never Ever After got during their free promotions, If Tears Were Wishes came in at a little over 600 (assuming Amazon is reporting correctly.) I did much the same pre-freebie promotion for all three ebooks, but there was one major difference: If Tears Were Wishes didn’t have any reviews.

I was a bit frustrated by my first few attempts contacting book blog sites when Yseult first came out, but now I realize I just have to keep on plugging, finding more possible venues. Basta.

At least I’m making consistent progress on Shadow of Stone. I’m over three-fourths through on my final editing pass, and this weekend I contacted a number of freelance editors about prices and availability. In the next few days, I’ll be sending out samples to those who responded to try and find the best match. Fairly soon I should be able to announce a release date for the follow-up novel to Yseult.

But as I’ve noted before, most of my writing life these days tends to revolve around the many aspects of the business side of things. Mostly I feel good, since I’m more in control, but I do hope that someday I will have the marketing beast better trained and will have more time for fiction.

Extending free promotion for another day

My short story collection If Tears Were Wishes is up to #10 now in contemporary fantasy:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #530 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
#10 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Fantasy > Contemporary

When I looked at the bestseller list though, I realized my poor little collection of borderline fantasy stories is in the vampire category. That means it’s competing against all these paranormal romances with strange creatures that are supposed to bite and don’t. I might need to consider recategorizing it.

It hasn’t broken into the top 100 Free yet, though, which both of my other freebies did by the second day. I’m suspecting that could have something to do with the fact that it doesn’t have any reviews. I don’t enlist my family to write reviews, and with Never Ever After I guess I just got really lucky that one of the first folks who bought the collection also wrote a review. For those trolling for freebies, it probably makes the book look a lot less serious it it hasn’t been reviewed. Yes, in the product description I quote some reviews of one of the stories when it was first professionally published, (in Asimov’s, no less) but that doesn’t give it any stars on Amazon. So it looks to me as if I have to move “write more book blogging sites” up on my list of priorities and see to it that I have at least one review for an ebook before I make it free. That’s going to be a challenge.

For the sake of experiment, I won’t cancel the free promotion I have scheduled for Dragon Time next week. It will interesting to see if my theory holds true.

In any case, I decided to extend the promo for “If Tears Are Wishes” for another day to try and give it a bit more momentum.

I got some tips not too long ago on getting reviews, but I would love more if anyone has some! I’m collecting a list of addresses and URLs, people and sites I need to contact, and I think that will be my next big project rather than putting together a new story collection. Must be practical here! 🙂

If Tears Were Wishes and Other Short Stories Now Available for Kindle

Time and the dark
Had come, but not alone. The southern gate …
Made now an entrance for three other men,
Who strode along the gravel or the grass,
Careless of who should hear them. When they came
To the great oak and the two empty chairs,
One paused, and held the others with a tongue
That sang an evil music while it spoke…

Edwin Arlington Robinson, “Mordred, A Fragment”

Ok, that doesn’t have anything to do with my most recent short story collection, but it’s the quote for Chapter 22 of Shadow of Stone, and it’s been sitting there in WordPerfect (yes, I know I’m a dinosaur) for days, mocking me, reminding me that I haven’t been doing any editing while I’ve been working on getting the latest collection up. But it’s also one of my favorite quotes among those I’ve used for my Arthurian novels. Especially this: “Time and the dark had come, but not alone.” I love that. It dances through my head at the most inappropriate times.

But anyway, back to what I should be writing about, my most recent ebook story collection, If Tears Were Wishes and Other Short Stories. It’s now available for Kindle at the unbeatable price of 99 cents! But wait! It can be beaten! February 16-17 it will be FREE, so don’t get it now, wait until Thursday and download it then. And please pass the word along. 🙂

I have another promotion coming up next week, my collection Dragon Time and Other Stories, which will be free from Feb. 22-23. That collection has been available for a while, but I recently unpublished it on Smashwords and enrolled it in KDP Select to take advantage of the promotional opportunities.

I spent most of my “writing time” today notifying various sites of the freebies, and in the days before that, formatting and getting If Tears Were Wishes up for Kindle. Which is why Edwin Arlington Robinson has been staring at me for so long, reminding me of how much I like that quote.

Given how busy I was the last few days, I also forgot to blog about a new interview with me on J. R. Tomlin’s blog. I did tweet about it, but it slipped my mind when I wrote my last blog post. I’d intended to include it mid-week, but that never got written.

Wish me luck on getting back to the editing! It’s an awful temptation to keep putting ebooks up, since the gratification comes so quickly. But eventually I will run out of previously published material and will have to get back to spending more time on new stuff. 🙂

New Collection, New Cover, and New KDP Select Results

Ok, so I went a bit overboard on the alliteration there, but I couldn’t resist. Been another busy week. I continue to make consistent progress on this editing pass of Shadow of Stone, and I have a new short story collection in the works. I’m not quite done yet, but I do have a cover:


Shiny, yes? 🙂 The artist of this one is Karri Klawiter, who has just started branching out into cover design. If you’re in the market for a ebook cover, definitely check her out! She’s great to work with and very affordable.

My little collection Never Ever After is doing surprisingly well, giving that it’s short stories, which tend not to do as well as novels. It even seems to have started spilling over to my other works.

Anyway, some of the results of the latest KDP Select freebie. I can’t figure out exactly how many books I was able to give away, because accounting got a bit screwed up on Amazon, but it was definitely well over 5,000. The screw-up gave me a happy dance moment a day after Never Ever After went back to paid and I thought I’d sold 250 copies in one day. Nope – just a correction to the data, unfortunately. As a result, I don’t know how many copies I actually sold coming off the free promotion, but the next day I sold 43, the most sales I’ve had in one day on any of my ebooks. I assume the 99 cent price helps.

I try not to obsess about sales and rankings, so I only allow myself to check once a day. The best I saw for Never Ever After was on the third day after it went back to paid:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,706 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

#4 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Anthologies
#15 in Books > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > Mythology
#28 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > World Literature > Mythology

But what I think might be helping me more than anything else is being ranked in the top 100 “Hot New Releases in Fantasy”:

Echoes of Betrayal: Paladin’s Legacy
Elizabeth Moon

City of Dragons: Volume Three of the Rain Wilds Chronicles
Robin Hobb

Never Ever After: Three Short Stories
Ruth Nestvold

Indie authors are of two minds where rankings are concerned. I tend to think rankings can be very important to sales, especially if they get you on a list like “Hot New Releases in Fantasy.” Some authors argue that “also bought” is much more important, and having a book go free isn’t worth it because it screws up your “also boughts.” This is true enough: if you look at the Amazon page for Never Ever After, you will see all kinds of genres among the “also boughts,” lots of books that are unlikely to get my story collection any new sales. But I tend to think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. I’ve sold at least a hundred copies, after all. And if you look at the Amazon page for Yseult, you’ll see that the “also boughts” there are much more appropriate, mostly fantasy and historical novels. Amazon’s recommendations seem to correct themselves after a while.

Note: In case you don’t subscribe to Daily Science Fiction, my short story “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Monkey” went up on the web site this week. 🙂