Karen Traviss's Blog

May 3, 2021

Worth a look

ODDTAXI is turning out to be another gem. Great OP too.

I started reading To Your Eternity but then the anime came out so I switched to that. It's no less harrowing. I watch some anime to clear my brain of the day's writing before I turn in but I suspect that's not a good idea in the case of this one.
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Published on May 03, 2021 14:07

April 5, 2021

A lime green umbrella

If any of my neighbours spotted me wrestling with a patio umbrella and a duvet today, I'll have some explaining to do.

I spent a few hours recording some test audio to equip me for producing my own audiobooks. The miracle of all the new-fangled consumer technology we have today is that technical work that would have required kit costing thousands in my TV days can now be done to broadcast standards for a few quid.

The challenge of soundproofing still remained, though. I didn't want to hire the local sound studio in town (if they're even open for business at the moment) and the cost and upheaval of installing even a closet-sized sound booth at home wasn't remotely viable.

So I followed some excellent professional advice on the right mike and how to cobble together a temporary booth with a patio umbrella and a big piece of heavy fabric, a variation on the radio journalist's standby of recording with your head under the hotel bedspread when on the road. And it worked brilliantly. After a bit of noise reduction and compression at the editing stage, nobody would have guessed there was traffic right outside while I was recording. I didn't really believe it would work that well, but it did.

The down side is that I looked a complete idiot while I was doing it (the umbrella is an eye-searing luminous green, for a start) but fortunately nobody witnessed it. I'm fairly sure that it's not unlucky to unfurl patio umbrellas indoors, just regular ones...
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Published on April 05, 2021 13:15

March 6, 2021


I've had my first COVID vaccination –– the Astra Zeneca one –– and I'm feeling a bit bleugh today. (Cells At Work, obvs. After the various shots I've had in the last couple of months, my killer T-cells are like the SBS.) But apart from an odd urge to watch Planet of the Apes all day, nothing unexpected or untoward.

(Geddit? Never mind... )
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Published on March 06, 2021 13:08

March 5, 2021

Nice work, Neptune-san.

I can't tell you how much I love Heaven's Design Team. It just gets better every week. But I digress.

Mother Death is back on my desk with feedback from the editor. We discussed whether to split it into two books. Nope, we both felt it needed to be one mighty tome. Bookzilla is coming. It's a whopper. I'm currently shaving off words here and there as I go but it'll still be a kaiju-size novel.
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Published on March 05, 2021 03:59

February 17, 2021

Doing my homework

Since delivering Mother Death I've been catching up on all the training courses and webinars I signed up for but shelved last year. Which basically means book marketing. I have to say I feel better for it and some of the more esoteric analysis stuff is actually very interesting. It's nice to have mental input for a change after having emptied the contents of your brain into a book.

Now to crack on with redesigning my web site, another thing I'd scheduled for last year...

I get there eventually.

Also... may I recommened the anime Heaven's Design Team. Awesome. If you've ever worked with designers (and the people who have to make their ideas work) you'll laugh yourself into a coughing fit. A bit like Dilbert set in Heaven with a Dr Stone infotainment element. Every archetype on the agency payroll is there.
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Published on February 17, 2021 12:38

February 2, 2021

An empty inbox at last

I've spent the last two days clearing a three-month backlog of e-mails.

I used to be really conscientious about clearing mail each day, but I'm finding it's taking longer to switch back to my writing brain each time if I break off to do other tasks. So I think I'll have to schedule an admin day a couple of times a month to minimise the disruption.

If writing books was just writing, it'd be simple.
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Published on February 02, 2021 16:30

January 28, 2021

It's done

Mother Death is now with the editor. It's not so much a final version as the version I picked out of several very different manuscripts after way too much overthinking, mind-changing, and keyboard time.

It's the longest novel I've ever written, and even if I trim 20K words on the line edit (achievable with single words here and there) it's still going to be the longest. I now always read out loud when I'm going through a manuscript –– good way to catch clunky rhythm and things that'll give the audio narrator problems, but no use for typos –– and it was so long I started losing my voice. Which reminded me why voice artists I've worked with do breathing exercises and use throat sprays. Lungs, baby. It's all about the lungs.

See previous blogs and answers for what I realised had derailed me, but the big lesson I learned was if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
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Published on January 28, 2021 04:58

January 1, 2021

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, everyone, and I hope 2021 is kinder to you all than the last one.

Freezing fog here and the frost is so thick on the roof that it looks like it's been snowing. The temperature at my desk is 57.6 F.
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Published on January 01, 2021 02:41

December 29, 2020

Ten billion per cent

If you're looking for something to binge-watch before the holidays are over, may I suggest you get cracking with Dr Stone? The new season starts in January and now's the time to catch up.

See my earlier blog (Sept 14 2019) for a more detailed critique of just how well-crafted this series is. On the surface is a very clever format, a sequence of highly entertaining science lessons, but underneath there's a big emotional arc that's fed into the story with real skill.

As spoiler-free as I can make it: Senku wakes up on an Earth that's regressed to the Stone Age, and he's determined to restore mankind to its previous level of science and technology. He MacGuyvers his way through every major advance the world's forgotten but that he remembers perfectly. Trying to stop him is a youth cult that wants to stick with the primitive life and blames science and the older generation for messing up Earth in the first place.

Senku's sure he can do it because he's "standing on the shoulders of giants." (Not to mention the villagers who become his workforce.) But it's not just the great scientists of history who enable him to gradually restore the modern world. He also discovers the legacy his father's left him across millennia. Clever, funny, intelligent, and deeply touching, with some subtle points to make about age. Don't miss it.
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Published on December 29, 2020 07:09

December 23, 2020

Have a good one

Merry Christmas, everybody.

Whether you're forced to spend it separated from family and friends, or you're able to have your loved ones near you, I wish you a Christmas that's a happier end to a year that's been so unhappy for so many.

If you're on my mailing list, I'll be sending a message out for New Year with more detail about what's coming up, but it's no secret that this hasn't been a good year for me. I'm grateful to all of you who've stuck with me and waited patiently for new books. Mother Death is done and I'm just tidying up the final chapter, so thank you for bearing with me, and, with any luck, normal service will be resumed in 2021.
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Published on December 23, 2020 14:08