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


Blood’s Force Blog Tour – January 11-22

EllisMorningSwordAndStarshipBloodsForce

I’ve been kinda quiet here lately, but that’s because I’ve been blogging almost nonstop behind your backs. Don’t worry, it’s not a betrayal. It’s a blog tour!

Starting next Monday and continuing for 2 weeks (minus weekends), I’ll have guests posts and interviews up at 11 different blogs to get the word out about Blood’s Force. Follow the tour every day to learn all kinds of stuff about me, ancient history, the origin of the Sword and Starship series, and what Dame Jessamine would do if she ever won the lottery! (In the hopes of keeping things fresh and fun, I got desperate.)

There’ll also be a giveaway for a $20 gift card to Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Every time you visit a new blog post, you have a new chance to enter the drawing!

Below is the full tour schedule, which links to the participating blogs for now. As the tour progresses, I’ll be updating this post with direct links to my own posts. I’ll also be visiting each blog to field comments and questions. Feel free to drop by and say hello! :)


VBT_BloodsForce_Banner copy

January 12Reviews By Crystal – Interview (click here)

January 13Rogue’s Angels – Interview (click here)

January 14Laurie’s Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews – Character Interview (click here)

January 15The Reading Addict – Guest Post (click here)


January 18Long and Short Reviews – Guest Post (click here)

January 19It’s Raining Books – Guest Post (click here)

January 20White Sky Project – Interview (click here)

January 20Welcome to My World of Dreams – Guest Post (click here)

January 21The Avid Reader – Guest Post (click here)

January 22Kit ‘N Kabookle – Interview (click here)

January 22Where The Story Comes First – Interview (click here)

Hope to see you on the tour! :)


I’ve Gone From Escapes To Breaks, And That’s OK With Me (Plus Paperback Giveaway!)

HamptonCourtPalaceHampton Court Palace, a fascinating destination for history buffs.

In early 2013, my husband and I planned our first trip to Europe together. I’d skipped around The Continent before, but my husband hadn’t, so we aimed for a place that was new to both of us, where we wouldn’t have much trouble easing in culturally. London seemed like the best of all possible worlds. I’d only ever flown through London, never visited. And since the UK was full of English speakers, we wouldn’t have any trouble making our way.

I booked our travel and lodging about 6 months ahead of the trip. For the rest of those 6 months, the anticipation all but killed me. I read up on English culture and etiquette. I studied all the things we could see and do, and how to do them best. I spent hours daydreaming about the trip from my drab little cubicle at work, and as it got down to the wire, I was going out of my mind with excitement. I even started tracking the weather in every city we’d fly through, just to make sure everything would go well.

So we flew to London for a week, and had an insanely magical time there. I left feeling like we were parting ways too soon, that there was still so much left to see and explore. We both agreed it’d be great to go back one day. A couple years later, in 2015, we arranged for that return trip. It was my reward for completing Blood’s Force.

This time around, for some reason, I didn’t spend as much time in the run-up planning and daydreaming. Instead, the trip kept sneaking up on me. “Oh yeah, we’re going overseas in a few weeks!” I didn’t obsess over what we’d see and do; it was something we could figure out once we were there. I didn’t check the weather in Newark (the city where we caught our international flight) once.

We got back from London a week ago. It was a fun time, to be sure … but the thrill was gone. I even felt that way while in London, and felt guilty about it. Why isn’t this mind-blowingly fun?

There are some quick, obvious answers. This was no longer our first time there. Also, London on Saturday in December is like Black Friday everywhere, and if there’s one thing I don’t tolerate well for long, it’s gigantic crowds.

But there’s actually something more profound to it. At the time of our first trip, my husband and I were working full-time jobs we didn’t care for. London wasn’t just vacation, it was an escape. It was an eye-opening, holy-shit, look-at-how-much-better-life-can-be experience that was subconsciously telling us, You’re leading the wrong lives right now.

Sure enough, we took that trip in September 2013 … and within 2 or 3 months, we were plotting our escape to self-employment. May 2014 is when we actually left our jobs to go off on our own. So maybe our first London trip was the kick in the ass we sorely needed.

The self-employment arrangement has been much better for us in every way possible. Chores and other obligations aside, we spend each day doing what we want to be doing. There’s no longer the unnecessary stress of commutes, difficult coworkers, nonsensical corporate culture, and the like. Not once have either of us ever thought, Man, I miss the old office.

We’re leading the right lives now. There’s no longer that burning need for escape. So when we go on vacation, it’s no longer earth-shattering. It’s just a nice break away from the usual routine. And I’m OK with that.

Hey!! What about the Paperback Giveaway? Oh yeah, I don’t wanna forget that. I’m running another Blood’s Force paperback giveaway via Goodreads. Want a chance to win your very own physical copy? Use the fancy widget below to enter! :)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Blood's Force by Ellis Morning

Blood’s Force

by Ellis Morning

Giveaway ends December 19, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


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.

HARDWARE
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.

SOFTWARE
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! :)


The Grand Experiment: What I’ve Learned From 1.5 Years Of Writing Full-Time

amesjumpWould you believe I still haven’t tired of this arrangement? The balances in my bank accounts aren’t as high as they once were, but that doesn’t bother me nearly as much as I thought it might. Mental health is way more important. Not once have I ever pined for the corporate world. As long as I have the means to keep freelancing, I will!

What’s New

The past couple of months have brought some of the most extreme highs and lows yet. Our biggest low came in August, when our cats Persephone and Rochester passed away within a week of each other. We knew Sephie was in decline, and we were prepared for that. She died peacefully at home. Rochester’s passing, however, was a total blindside. After Sephie died, he stopped being himself. The vet found a slew of incurable problems, including cancer. Putting him down was arguably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Both cats are greatly missed.

About a month later, I actually finished Blood’s Force and put it up for sale. I was so hyper-focused on this effort toward the end that I forgot little things like taking my car in for inspection. (Oops!) It was also my first time publishing anything to vendors like Amazon and Nook. The process was nerve-racking at times, especially when Amazon initially rejected my book for having the insidious, horribly misleading keyword “Morning” attached to it (i.e., Amazon rejected me for my last name OMG what do I do?! Thankfully, they approved it the second time I tried publishing it). But now that I know what to expect, I think it’ll be easier from now on.

I was really excited to be done with my book after six years of effort, plus I had no idea how long it would take to put together a paperback, so I “went live” with just the ebook version at first. This wasn’t a horrible approach, but as I found out, putting the paperback together through CreateSpace really wasn’t that bad, even with doing the interior and cover layout myself. It was about two weeks from start to approving the physical proof. In the future, I’ll wait to “go live” when both paperback and ebook are listed on Amazon.

Now comes the transition from pure writing to writing + promotion, and I’m still very much an anxious noob with the latter. I’m trying to educate myself and ease in without worrying about selling a million copies right out of the gate. Money wasn’t my goal anyway. The goal was to finish a book that at least one other person enjoyed.

So far, I seem to sell the most by word of mouth and by placing books in people’s hands myself, one copy at a time. I also gave away copies to people who signed up for my mailing list. Of all the copies that are out in the wild now, I’d say a third were given out. I’m hoping to impress people and get them hooked on the series. :)

What Hasn’t Changed

Scheduling with self-compassion remains a big thing for me. I like having a set time for writing each day, and also having an idea of what I want to accomplish every day and week. But if other things get in the way, I let that happen and adjust accordingly. No big deal. I don’t set hard release dates for books or stories, and I don’t do pre-releases either. Some people can work well with that, but for me, it creates unnecessary pressure and stress.

I’m still learning how to manage my anxiety, mostly through mindfulness meditation. It seems like promotional situations are my largest trigger right now. I’m just not a “Hey, look at me and buy my things!” person. I’ll be delegating as much of that as I can. Where I saved money on Blood’s Force by doing a lot of things myself (ebook and paperback creation, web design/maintenance, mailing list management), I’ll be laying out money so someone else can worry about promotion for me. It’s always good to allocate your funds to best advantage.

Income Breakdown

I’m still editing at The Daily WTF. My income there has increased to about $300-$400 a month.

In another month or so, I’ll also start receiving royalty payments from some of the stores where my book is on sale (I have to exceed a $10 minimum in royalties first, which has only happened at 2 stores thus far). My book is no runaway bestseller, so I don’t expect royalties to add much. Still, I can cover a few bills every month as-is, which isn’t bad!

Just FYI, this income breakdown is here more for illustrative and tracking purposes than to brag or measure myself against. Money is never the goal of this enterprise, but I think it’s helpful to provide an idea of what the finances look like for a full-time writer who’s just slipped her foot into the publishing world.

Again, I’m very grateful to my past corporate self, who socked away most of every paycheck over many years and helped make this possible. My husband also makes this possible with his financial and emotional support. :)


Polish Your Manuscript With One Final Sanity Read

sanity_catWhat? This picture SCREAMS sanity.

Last time, I talked about the editing and revision “groove” I got into and rather enjoyed. As you read there, it involved

  • a defined but flexible schedule,
  • a good heaping helping of self-compassion,
  • a blend of making edits directly on my computer and typing in edits made on paper.

Some of the edits were rather substantial, basically drafting whole new, fresh paragraphs (or pages). Then there was the matter of all that typing. Data entry inevitably opens the door to finger-mistakes. How could I be sure all this new material fit in well, and as flawlessly as possible?

For sanity’s sake, once I finished my final editing/revision pass on Blood’s Force, I completed one last read-through of the entire manuscript. This was not just to look for dumb mistakes. During my prior editing, I’d been deeply focused on one chapter at a time. This was a time to consider the book as a whole, and how all the parts worked together.

Once again, I started at the beginning with a blank mind and moved forward chronologically. I tried to read at the same pace as a regular reader, but was a little slower at times with my attention on typos. Still, this went a lot quicker than an editing/revision pass. I was able to review around 15k words a day on average; you might be able to handle more or less.

On my sanity pass, these were the specific things I paid attention to. Hopefully, you find them useful as well!

(1) Spelling, grammar, punctuation, omitted words, repeated words. In your word processor, try reading your work at different zoom levels. Low zoom gives you a better chance of catching words that have been accidentally repeated across paragraphs and pages. Reading at a high magnification lets you identify typos easier. So can switching fonts, especially to something monospace, so the font you normally use doesn’t trick you into thinking you spelled something right. Speaking of fonts, make sure to pick a good one for the final product.

megaflicksOh, kerning, you bitch.

(2) Continuity. Verifying consistency in character traits, inventories, events, details, spellings, and actions.

(3) Flow from chapter to chapter. Does the story progress the way you intended? Are your chapter transitions strong enough to allow someone to put the book down for a while, then ease back in with minimal difficulty? (I’ll likely have more to say on this later, as it was a weak point in my earlier drafts.)

(4) Huh? sentences. If at any time you pause and sit on a sentence, not quite sure what you meant to convey, that’s likely to be a spot where your reader will stop and go “Huh?” too. Edit or remove it.

This is not just about quality and making sure you correctly changed what you intended to change. You’re also minimizing the chances of your reader being jarred by unintentional goofs. The more attention you put into this now, the less likely you’ll have to correct things after the book is published. Given how tedious it is to make these corrections, post them, and wait for the fixes to become available to customers, you want to avoid this whenever possible!

I’ll probably have more to say about my first experience with the self-publishing process as well. There was a lot that I DIY-ed, and I’d be happy to talk about it for anyone else who wants to minimize their publishing expense without sacrificing quality.

If there are any questions I can answer for you about anything, feel free to ask in the comments!


Finding My Editing And Revising Groove

curved_arrow“OK, now I gotta go back over it from the beginning!” When you’re editing a novel, you’ll say this at least 37 times.

I was on a blogging hiatus for a while there! Sorry about that. Two major things kept me from blogging for the past while:

(1) Both of my cats passing away in August, less than a week apart.

(2) My final editing passes on Blood’s Force. Which is a real book now. Holy crap. :D

With (1), I’m still not quite ready to go into detail. Maybe I’ll have more to say about my babies later—they certainly deserve a fine tribute—but right now I’m not up for it.

The work on (2) has helped me keep my head. I found myself with 22 chapters to revise, reread, and hunt through for those insidious errors like accidental repetition, words left out, or two letters displaced (“complaint” vs. “compliant,” for example. I did that in a Daily WTF article once).

I accomplished this in two major passes. One was a thorough editing and revision pass, the second a “sanity” pass for cleanup purposes.

I’ll talk about the editing/revision pass first (sanity pass will be another article). For the first time ever, I fell into a really good groove with this process that I’d like to repeat later. I’ll lay out here what I did, and more specifically, why it worked for me. Everyone has different preferences and approaches. It’s all about finding what works best for you.

Here’s the naked process—or algorithm, if you will (gotta put that CompSci degree to good use now and then):

(1) Started at Chapter 1 with a “blank” mind and advanced in chronological order, tackling one chapter at a time for as long as necessary.

(2) I did an initial read-through of the chapter on my computer, making whatever changes I wanted. I already mostly knew what to fix based on my editor’s suggestions, but I’d also find typos, plot/character inconsistencies, and other things to iron out.

(3) Once the chapter was in a readable state, I printed it out double-spaced, in a different font.

(4) With the printout, I waited until at least the next day to re-read the chapter on paper. From there, I made further notes and revisions in pen. Waste of paper? Au contraire! My eye catches different things in different media. When the font is different, it tricks my brain into thinking I’ve never seen this stuff before, and makes me feel like I’m critiquing someone else’s work. Don’t worry, tree lovers, my city has a lovely recycling program.

(5) Typed in my revisions.

(6) Moved on to the next chapter!

The following factors made the above process work for me:

Flexible deadlines. Every week, I’d schedule day by day what tasks I hoped to complete. I aimed for 2-3 chapters edited per week. Sometimes I worked on the weekends, sometimes I didn’t. The scheduling was important for providing a clear idea of what I needed to do to feel “done” each day. But if I fell behind, I allowed that to happen and adjusted things accordingly. (See the point on compassion below.)

A set work time every day. Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM – 12:00PM were my working hours. Some days there were exceptions, like for doctor’s appointments or really bad surprises (emergency vet trips, sigh). No worries. The point is that as long as I devoted those hours to the book, I felt like I’d done my job. The rest of the day, I could spend however I wanted without feeling guilty. Sometimes I did do extra work on the book, but not terribly often. The time away was always valuable for refreshing my brain.

Compassion toward myself. When I fell behind my schedule or got frustrated with a bit of editing that just wouldn’t edit, I didn’t give myself shit for it. Since leaving the 9-5 rat race, I’ve worked hard to cultivate a compassionate inner voice, a “boss” who doesn’t fret or put me down when things don’t go perfectly. This has seriously cut down on the amount of anxiety and stress I feel overall.

Chronological sequence. Once you’ve written a whole book full of crap, and have another book full of all the crap you cut from the book, you’ll reach the point where you constantly ask yourself, “Wait, is that [scene/character/etc.] still in the book?” Starting fresh on page 1 and editing forward from there will let you experience what the reader is going to learn and when. If it doesn’t work, this is the time to fix it.

And for your sanity’s sake, please please PLEASE don’t edit until you’re done drafting! :)

If you have your own tried-and-true editing method, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!


Blood’s Force Is Here!

EllisMorningSwordAndStarshipBloodsForce

I can hardly believe it, but Blood’s Force is done! And published! :D I’ve accomplished what I set out to do when I quit my job back in 2014, and I can’t wait to keep going with more books.

As the series name (Sword and Starship) implies, the novel is a genre-bender featuring knights running around from planet to planet in search of quests and adventure. The original spark of the premise came to me in 2006. I started a short story with it, but it went nowhere. In 2009, I picked up the same main character and fleshed out a different plot idea—for a novel, as opposed to a short story.

Cue several years of clueless drafting, re-drafting, scrapping, and tire-spinning, as I had no idea how to actually construct a novel. Still, I got a draft done. Then, thankfully, RJ Blain came along to tell me I’d really just written a big short story, and needed to flesh things out further.

So here we are at last! With all that out-fleshing, I now have a complete book and a draft for the second in the wings. It’s really nice to have cleared the novel “hurdle,” so to speak, and I’m looking forward to getting back to writing once I’ve completed my last publishing goal: getting Blood’s Force into paperback.

Right now, it’s in ebook format at Amazon, Kobo, and Nook (Barnes & Noble). If you read it and leave an honest review, you’ll help me stay in the book-writing business. And I’ll be much obliged! :)