What’s On The Calendar – Late 2015 to 2016

february-calendarHey all! I wanted to talk about the important stuff on my workdesk and radar for the next few months. Without further ado …

* Working on Harbingers (Sword and Starship Book 2) *
Hey look, it’s my life for the foreseeable future! To make this a standalone, I’ve had to completely change the beginning, so I’ve been drafting more than editing thus far. I’m almost at the point where I get back to editing existing content. I’m hoping I don’t succumb too much to the feeling of “Oh FSM this all sucks I have to tear it up and start over.” :)

* Working on Retiring the Gods short stories *
After the whirlwind of publishing Blood’s Force, I took a month’s break to clear my head. In that time, I worked on 2 more short stories for this collection. They need a little more polish before I’m ready to call them done; I’ll probably release them in another few months. Something to tide everyone over while I’m toiling on the next novel!

By the way, this is a short story collection that’s exclusive to my mailing list. If you want a copy, feel free to sign up! I’ll send you the current version, then the new one whenever it’s updated.

* London trip *
My husband and I are going to London the first week of December! Yaaay! This’ll be our first vacation since escaping the corporate world, and is kind of a celebration of publishing Blood’s Force. It’s our second trip to London, because we loved it so much the first time.

Hilariously, I keep forgetting about it, only to panic a little when I see how much closer it’s getting. I swear, I might actually forget to go to the airport the day of. This is totally opposite from the last trip. Back then, I made plans 6-8 months in advance, and daydreamed and obsessed over the trip practically every day.

I think the difference is that I was still working my corporate job last time we went. Back then, the trip was a welcome and much-needed escape. Now I spend every day doing the work I want to be doing. There’s nothing I’m desperate to get away from.

* Future Goodreads giveaway(s) *
Not 100% sure yet when, but I’ve got December 12-19 penciled in. Stay tuned!

* January blog tour *
I’m also arranging for a 2-week blog tour in January. Every weekday, there’ll be a different post about Blood’s Force at a different blog. It should be a good way to get more word out about the book. More details to follow once they’re solidified!

Take care and have a great Thanksgiving! I’ll be back in December! :)

Ellis’ Writing and Publishing Toolbox

office 2Powered by coffee, Hello Kitty, and Left 4 Dead.

Hey again! I thought I’d give you a behind-the-scenes peek at everything that contributes to my production process, from draft to finished book/story.

A room in my house serves as my dedicated office. Up there you see my desk: MacBook Air, laptop stand, cheap mouse, expensive keyboard that makes neat clicky sounds. And omg COFFEE, two mugs a day. Next to the desk is my laser printer, which comes in handy for printing off drafts and review copies. In the drawers, you’ll find things like staples, envelopes, and oodles of pencils (mostly mechanical) and pens (ballpoint and felt-tip). I also draw with these on occasion.

Most of the magic happens on my computer. Here are the programs I use from start to finish. With the exception of Scrivener, these apps are all free to download and use:

Scrivener – This program has spoiled me to the point that I can’t draft things anywhere else. The way it lets me split up, organize, and notate things is unparalleled. Plus it lets me save snapshots of old drafts, which I fall back on from time to time.

OpenOffice – I use this to take my Scrivener draft and create PDFs for paperback interiors and free ebooks. While Scrivener has its own conversion tools, I trust myself more. This program performs really well, and lets you do just about everything Microsoft Word can do. That’s way more than I can say for Pages, which I find unacceptably slow and hobbled.

MacDown – I’m currently experimenting with Markdown to see how well it streamlines my conversion from draft to HTML, important for making ebook files. MacDown happens to be one of many free apps out there for Markdown editing.

Komodo – If I need to do heavy-duty HTML editing, I do it here. This is also the program I use to maintain my website.

Sigil – Great tool for creating EPUB files, once you get past its learning curve. I make ebook files manually because (a) I have a good understanding of CSS and HTML, and (b) I can ensure they’ll come out exactly the way I want at the smallest file size possible. I don’t like crossing my fingers and hoping a compile or conversion will work out. I also don’t trust the cruft that gets added to files in that process.

Epubcheck – Lets me validate my EPUB files. Was quite a helpful troubleshooting tool in the past when I couldn’t figure out why my conversion from EPUB to MOBI was failing.

KindleGen – Lets me convert my EPUB into a MOBI that Amazon will accept. It also gives you compression options to ensure the file size is as small as possible. This is important because Amazon charges you delivery fees every time someone buys your ebook. These fees are dependent on your ebook file size, and can eat into your royalties if you’re not careful!

GIMP – This is what I use for designing paperback and free ebook covers. I have experience with Photoshop and InDesign, so I don’t have much trouble using GIMP. Plus, there are tons of tutorials and docs online in case you’re ever not sure how to do something.


If anyone has suggestions of things I should be using, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Sword and Starship Book 2: Rewrites Begin This Week

Ellis_EditingSo for those who may or may not know: this little adventure started with a manuscript I finished—after many years of hemming, hawing, temporarily quitting, doubling back, and tail-chasing—in early 2014. I hired a lovely editor and passed it her way, thinking it’d need only a few tweaks to be ready for prime-time.

Wrong! I hadn’t given the story enough room to breathe. My editor suggested sweeping edits that took me a while to get through, but they were completely and totally for the best. By the time I was done, I had double the number of words as when I started.

The first 97k words became Book 1, Blood’s Force.

The remaining 99k words will comprise Book 2, which I’m calling Harbingers for now. It’ll pick up right where Blood’s Force left off, but I’m modifying it so that it’s capable of being a standalone read.

I have a ridiculously good starting point for this book. It’s already drafted, and that draft still needs work, but not nearly as much as previous incarnations. Cover art is also in the works, once more in the hands of wonderfully talented Chris Howard.

This week, I’m starting on edits. Then another editorial pass will be in order, then another revision pass or two to firm up. I dislike setting hard deadlines, but my personal goal is to finish and release Harbingers sometime in 2016. Keep tuning in for updates! :)