Category Archives: Books

September 2017 Updates, Goals

Hello again. This was quite an eventful month! I’ve been frantically trying to do everything possible to protect my credit in the wake of the Equifax hack, while also begging my senators not to jack up my health insurance and kill millions of Americans … again. And, as you see above, our construction adventures continue. When dealing with 70 year-old streets and 100 year-old plumbing, there are always surprises. For instance, did you know it was possible to shake a water main to death? Our water was shut off a few times as a result, but no big deal. The work is almost done, and it’s gonna be great when it’s finished.

Writing Updates:
Remy had some helpful notes regarding my outline for Book 3. There’s still parts that we’re both iffy on, but we agree pretty well on what should happen at the beginning.

So guess what? I’ve started drafting! :) It’s been slow to start—my inner editor pops up way too frequently—but I think it’ll be less of a problem once I settle into more of a word-churning groove.

Also, when drafting, I invariably put down my first ideas (usually not my best ideas), and then think of better ideas a few days later. It’s a bit of a dilemma: do I go back and rewrite, or keep plowing forward? While you always want to be making forward progress, I think there are times when you can or even should go back. If you have a good idea and the energy/will to implement it, why not?

Thus, slow going. But progress is being made.

Current Goals:
– Learning Italian. I’m a fan of the Fluent Forever approach, and am trying to follow that for the most part, which involves learning pronunciation and tons of vocabulary before looking at grammar. But I’m just not super-motivated to learn random words in this case. I find myself much more motivated to learn things I might need while traveling. Per favore? Grazie. Accettate carte di credito? and so on. Thankfully, there’s plenty that looks familiar from Latin and Spanish!

Learning Latin. I prefer my Latin study way more, to be honest. The dead language, of course! What can I say? I keep coming across  little surprises that keep it interesting. Plus, I can’t help but love that my book’s practice sentences aren’t so much The store is around the corner but rather more like He will pay the price for his lack of honor! It’s metal.

Updating website. I made good progress this month, but still have some testing to do. One big thing I’ve realized is that the home page should have pretty much everything on it that I want people to see. Based on Google Analytics reports of my current site, people do not like clicking hyperlinks or drilling down deep webpage hierarchies anymore.

Plan/schedule trip to Rome in 2018. My hope is to book travel and accommodations next month. Gotta research where we’d like to stay!

Later Goals:
– Ramp up selling/promotion
[[Not sure what else yet! Should start thinking about it.]]

August 2017 Updates, Goals

The eclipse wasn’t terribly dramatic in Pittsburgh. Even with 81% coverage, it just looked like heavy cloud cover (the Sun is kinda bright, who’da thunk it?). Still, the weather was great, and it was really nice how many people came outside to see it, passing around glasses and using telescopes and whatnot.

However, 2024 ought to be even more exciting for us! I might be persuaded to drive to a location with full totality. I just have to get over my utter loathing of traffic and crowds!

Updates:
I’ve been incorporating ideas from a failed short story idea to use at the end of Book 3. Some time ago, I found out the hard way that a short story in the Sword and Starship universe just isn’t feasible; there’s too much that has to be explained. Even with cutting things to the bone, my attempts have been more novella-length. At that point, it’s time to throw in the towel and write a whole book. (Oh hey, I did! Two of them, even! ::shamelessly plugs Blood’s Force and Harbingers::)

While my outline isn’t 100% rock-solid, I’ve pulled together enough ideas by this point to “pitch” them to Remy. He’s really good at taking ideas and adding twists, suggesting edits, and elevating premises to something really interesting. He’ll have 2 weeks off in September, during which he’ll work with me on those things. It’s very much appreciated!

Current Goals:
– Learning Italian. I’m just starting on Italian pronunciation and simple words! I have a feeling it will color my Latin, but that seems appropriate. Speaking of …

Learning Latin. This is still a lot of fun, especially with all the Latin still in common use that I now completely get (post hoc ergō propter hoc, in vitrō, etc.). There’s just a few frustrating aspects (aside from all the declension lol): first, there are no classical Latin words for modern things. Laptop? Microwave? Coffee? It makes coming up with simple sentences, or writing about your day, harder. Second, you can’t exactly chat with native speakers and study their pronunciation, inflection, and so on. We have some idea of how things were pronounced, but it’s by no means perfect, and there’s plenty of room for disagreement. You’re left to do your own thing, basically. But I wanna do it right! Argh. :)

Updating website. Still slow going, but mostly because I lack the motivation to do it. For one thing, web development can be incredibly frustrating; when Sisyphus finally got his boulder up that hill, the gods put him to work fixing broken CSS. Besides, I get what, maybe 100 visitors a year? LOL I will really try to buckle down and get this off my to-do list.

Plan/schedule trip to Rome in 2018. I checked into recommended immunizations for travel to Italy. I’m mostly in good shape, except I never got vaccinated for Hepatitis A. There’s not much need for it in the US, but abroad can be different. So I got one shot this month, and I’ll need a booster in February. Turns out it’s fully covered by my insurance. Thanks, Obama! :)

Later Goals:
– Ramp up selling/promotion
[[Not sure what else yet! Should start thinking about it.]]

That’s all for now. Let me know how you’re doing, if so inclined! :)

Introducing swordandstarship.com

New month, new website! :D

I’ve spent the past few weeks learning and tinkering with Bootstrap in order to bring swordandstarship.com online. It’s dedicated exclusively to the Sword and Starship series. I plan to eventually include “fun stuff” there (like artwork and device backgrounds), and possibly a store where people can order bundles and/or signed copies of books.

If you have any ideas of what you’d like to see there, leave a comment or send me an email!

In the relatively near future, I hope to update the look of ellismorning.com as well as this blog. Keep your eyes peeled!

Book 3 Update + Other News

Say hello to Book 3 so far! :)

I’m experimenting with storyboarding for the first time. It’s a little tough because my computer notes change a lot faster than I can keep up with on paper, but I like this exercise because it helps me realize when my ideas don’t have enough “oomph”—too little emotional content, too little conflict. I’ve saved myself several rewrites already. (As a general note, folks: the more you kick your characters in their metaphorical nuts, the better the story will be!)

I’m not sure how much longer outlining will take. I have 5 “sequences” I want to include in Book 3 (only 3 of which are in storyboard form; the rest are in Scrivener for now). Some are no more detailed than “They go to X and do Y.” Those have to get fleshed out in more detail before I proceed with drafting. I also want to develop at least some idea of what Book 4 will contain, so if there’s any groundwork or foreshadowing that must be set up in Book 3, I can do that.

My concentration has not been what it could be of late, because of this going on right outside my front door …

They’re digging up our street to lay new sewer lines for the town homes that will eventually be built next door. This has been going on for about 1.5 months now. The excavators are doing everything they can to minimize the inconvenience to us—we were even given a parking pass for a private lot close to our house—but still, I’ll be glad when they finish and the City repaves the street!

Otherwise, on the personal front, I might have gone just a tad insane: deciding I want to learn classical Latin, then maybe take a trip to Rome next year—which means learning some Italian, too! Guess what both of these languages have? Trilled Rs. And guess who can’t trill Rs with her tongue? Yup. It’s plagued me ever since introductory Spanish in middle school. I can trill Rs in my throat, but that’s not the proper sound needed here. Instead of trying to rely on Youtube how-to videos (normally so useful, but completely maddening and misleading when it comes to trilling Rs), I’ve purchased a video course prepared by a Russian speech pathologist. Tongue exercises are now part of my daily routine. I hope to conquer this stumbling block once and for all!

Harbingers Blog Tour – May 1-12

Starting today, Harbingers is touring the blogosphere!

The tour will run from May 1 through 12, weekends excluded. Each day’s post(s) will contain a guest blog I’ve written or an interview with yours truly. I discuss influences, characters, stuff about me and Sword and Starship, you name it. I’ve worked hard to ensure that each post contains at least some unique information, so it’s not the same exact thing every day. (Which is tough, since there are some questions that tend to get asked a lot!)

While the tour is active, you’ll also have the chance to win a $20 USD gift card to either Amazon or Barnes and Noble (your choice)! Each post will contain a Rafflecopter widget that you can use to enter the drawing. The more times you enter, the more chances you have to win! The prize will be awarded at the end of the tour.

Below is the full tour. As it progresses, I’ll updating this post with direct links to each stop. I’ll also be visiting each blog to field comments and questions. Feel free to drop by and say hello! :)


May 1 – Interview at T’s Stuff

May 2Interview at Rogue’s Angels

May 2Interview at The Kronicles of Korthlundia

May 3Interview at Sharing Links and Wisdom

May 4Guest post at Long And Short Reviews

May 5Guest post at Mixed Book Bag

May 8Guest post at Book Lover Promo

May 8Interview at Lampshade Reader

May 9Guest post at It’s Raining Books

May 9Interview at Books, Dreams, Life

May 10Interview at The Avid Reader

May 11Interview at This and That Book Blog

May 12Interview at BooksChatter

May 12Interview at EskieMama and Dragon Lady Reads

Harbingers Ebook Now Available!

Harbingers, the highly anticipated sequel to Blood’s Force, is now available in ebook format! :D

You can find it at:

I’m still working on the paperback. It takes a lot longer to get the layout and cover just right, order and approve proofs, and so on. I’ll let you know when it’s available.

Also, FWIW, I’ve been trying for over a year to get into Google Play, but they’re still not accepting new signups. I’ll keep checking back!

Book Club Visit + Harbingers Update

BookClub1

What a great group! I’m second from the right, desperately skimming my manuscript for an answer to someone’s question.

Taking a brief break from Harbingers edits (I’m still working on it, promise!), I headed south to Washington, PA to meet up with a book club who chose to read Blood’s Force for the month of October.

My very first book-related event! How exciting—but you bet I was nervous! Fortunately, this was a great group of ladies to cut my teeth on, so to speak. They were very sweet and asked wonderful questions, especially about science fiction and my research process (which I’ve written about here). I enjoyed sharing my rationale for different things, as well as hearing their feedback. (Like, “I’m glad you gave Ingvar to Jess! She deserved it.” LOL)

I also signed some books while I was at it!

BookClub2

And now back to Harbingers editing and rewrites! :) I have all my notes back from my editor, and am 2/3 done with my current pass. After this, I anticipate one more pass over everything to make sure it gels, which should go quick. I’m not sure whether I’ll finish this year, or if it’ll bleed into 2017. Rest assured, I’m doing my best to get it right and get it out the door in a timely manner! :)

Sword and Starship’s Having A Good Month

EllisMorning_Harbingers_cover

A small update on Harbingers: I have the first 1/3 of feedback notes from my editor, so my last editing pass has begun in earnest! There are 30-ish chapters to review, some of which need more work than others. Sometimes it’s just a matter of fixing a comma or plugging in a better word. Other times, I gotta tear down what’s there and start over from scratch. If you’re curious about the details of my last-pass editing process, I’ve written more about it here and here.

I still hope to publish Harbingers by the end of 2016, but if the book needs more time to be amazing, then so be it.

EllisMorningSwordAndStarshipBloodsForce

In other news, Blood’s Force was selected as Her Story Arc’s Book of the Month this August! How cool is that? :D Here’s a quote from the review:

“I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys sci-fi/fantasy genre blending. I absolutely loved the interplay between ‘magic’ and misunderstood science. The way Jess manipulates ignorance in others to accomplish logical goals was engaging to read. I am definitely reading book two when it is finished!”

You can read the full review here.

Harbingers Cover Reveal And Progress Report

EllisMorning_Harbingers_cover

You guys! Sword and Starship Book 2: Harbingers is making progress toward being a thing you can read! :D

This beautiful cover, just like the last one, was done for me by Chris Howard. Here’s the full-wrap version that will be used to make the paperback cover:

EllisMorning_Harbingers_fullwrap

And here’s the current draft of the back cover blurb, something I’ll  continue to chisel at right up until publication:

The Quest Continues To Stop A Killer “Curse!”

Dame Jessamine is a woman of science in a galaxy rife with superstition. The knight errant with a spaceship for a steed continues her mission for truth within the barony of Nidaros!

A mysterious crop-withering blight spreads through the barony’s soil. The court magicians have blamed two siblings of spawning the crisis through witchcraft. Convinced of their innocence, Jessamine has rescued and now secretly harbors Verahl Naustvik aboard her spaceship. Meanwhile, his sister Thordia flees to the Harbinger, a crashed space station from the distant and more enlightened past.

Approaching the Harbinger is an act punishable by death, but Jessamine won’t let that stand in the way of a second rescue. Thordia, and the Harbinger’s surviving technological secrets, may be Nidaros’ only hope against the blight. Jessamine prepares to embark—only to be betrayed and set upon by vengeful court magicians.

Now, one wrong word or gesture will lead to deadly charges of witchcraft. Jessamine must protect the Naustviks and brave the Harbinger, all while striking a balance between ritual and reason. If she can’t maintain the peace long enough to discover a cure for the blight, the entire barony will starve—unless its far-off masters decide to “restore order” with military action first!

The book is still a draft right now, but it’s a complete draft of about 136K words, which is 50% longer than the final draft of Blood’s Force. Yeah, a lot happens in this one!

As of this week, I’ve submitted the draft to my editor. In the next few weeks and months, she’ll do her final read-through and provide comments for improvement. I’ll then need a couple of months to make one or two more editing passes on my own, both for incorporating her comments and applying some spit-polish. Once that’s done, I’ll be ready to publish! My goal is to finish before the end of 2016, but that’s not a hard deadline. If it takes a little longer to put forth the best version of the book possible, then so be it.

I’ll continue to keep you posted as things happen! Trust me, I’m as excited for this release as you are! :)


2015 Goal Review, And New Goals For 2016

resolutions

Let’s pretend it’s not February already, you guys. Let’s pretend this is completely timely and topical. Last year, I posted a list of my goals for 2015. Let’s see how well I actually did!

* The novel, duh.

“The novel,” Blood’s Force, did indeed become a thing by the end of the year. Hooray!! :D It’s available in 2 formats and 4 platforms. In the process of getting it ready for prime-time, I learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses in writing. I also learned a lot about ebook and paperback creation, which will help me on the next go-round.

* A promotional, free-to-read short story that takes place before the events of Blood’s Force.

This is not on my plate anymore! I’ve learned, after several tries, that there’s just no way I can do the Sword and Starship universe justice within a short story. The ideas I had all quickly ballooned to novella length, 20K to 40K words as opposed to the 10K or under I’d been hoping for. At that length and degree of effort, I’d be taking serious time away from novel-writing, and it’d be harder to justify giving the end result away for free. So, no prequel—at least not right now—because I’d rather get the next novel done as soon as possible!

* At least 1 more short story for Retiring The Gods, hopefully 2.

I’ve got 2 drafted that I’m hoping to release in another month or so. If you don’t have a copy of this series yet, go get one! It’s free! :)

* Start outlining and drafting the next Sword and Starship book. In the process, pick up skills and tricks to make eventual ebook conversion easier.

This was before I knew I’d be splitting my original manuscript into two parts. So I’m already editing and revising the second book, called Harbingers. I intend for there to be a third book, but that’s well off my radar at this point (though I do have some ideas of how to structure it).

As for making ebook conversion easier, I’m experimenting with some tricks. If they do indeed help streamline the HTML conversion process, there’ll be a blog post on that later.

* Keep writing monthly articles and screening submissions for The Daily WTF.

Yep, kept up with this as well, and earned a promotion to Editor, so I’m also supervising some of the other writers. My income went up a little bit in the process, which I can’t complain about!

* Keep up with weekly blogging.

Admittedly, I’ve been worse about this. When I got close to publishing Blood’s Force, it fell by the wayside, and I’ve found all kinds of reasons to keep putting it off since. Part of it is that I’m not sure what I want to blog about. I’ve done about all the writing advice I’ve got in me. I think in the future, I’ll focus more on what’s on my plate or on my mind, and also give the occasional update on where I stand as a self-employed person.

* Continue improving my blog and website as much as I can.

This remains a continuous process. Why, just this past week, I spent several hours fighting to fix CSS changes that WordPress pushed on me without notice or consent. If you happened to witness my blog turn black and green for a little while? Yeah. Thanks, WordPress! Gotta keep those mad skillz fresh somehow, I suppose! :D

* Keep up with other interests- which is hard when I’m trying to cram so much writing in.

YES. Yes it is. I still struggle with this, and with knowing whether I even really want to do all that other stuff anymore. Part of me does, but whenever I have time, I too often think Eh … I should really clean up around here, or something like that.

* Think about travel. If not going somewhere, at least plan something for 2016.

My husband and I went to breathtaking London in December! :D

OK, so not bad overall! I’m really happy with what I managed to accomplish in 2015, and I’m hoping 2016 will prove similarly productive. Without further ado, here are my Goals for 2016:

* Finish and publish Harbingers.

This is THE BIG ONE. I’m not sure whether I’ll actually get it done this year, but it’s what I’m putting my full-time energy toward.

* Release 2 new Retiring The Gods stories, draft 1 or 2 more.

I’m planning for the release to take place in a month or two here. I’ll send out the update through my mailing list, so if you’re not already on-board, click here to sign up!

* Keep writing features and editing at The Daily WTF.

There may be additional WTF projects in the pipeline this year, and I may be helping out with them. We’ll see!

* Find new kitties. Maybe.

I can’t believe it’s been 6 months since my cats passed away. Even now, sometimes the pain is just as sharp as the week it happened. There are still, still, parts of my house I haven’t cleaned because they were the last places my boy Rochester camped out. If you know how much of a neat-freak I am, you know how insane this is.

I’m having a hard time moving on, but at the same time, I miss having floofs to cuddle. I’m slowly opening to the idea of another pair of cats, once we’re done taking care of a few things around the house that go much better without cats. Replacing all our carpet, for instance.

* Find a real-life girlfriend.

This is a task my therapist has given me. I’ve never had super-close female friends as an adult, and have trouble even fathoming such a thing, but I’m playing along for now. Hilariously, the search has all the ups and downs of dating … which makes me think that giving less of a damn will aid me over the long run. Seriously, I never had luck finding men who were interested in dating me until I said “Screw it, I’m done looking and I don’t care anymore.”

* Figure out what The Deal is with the hobbies I’m having trouble following.

Is it time for us to part ways? Or am I just not being disciplined enough?

* Blog regularly enough for what it is I want to be blogging about.

Again, think I’ve built up my treasure trove of writing advice pretty well. Hopefully it’s helpful to someone. I hope to move forward with more stuff about me, my work/progress, and my books.

That’s all for now. Best of luck with all your 2016 goals! :D