All posts by Spencer Ellsworth

Spencer Ellsworth lives in Bellingham, Washington. He has published work in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Michael Moorcock's New Worlds, and a good half-dozen other markets. He teaches at Northwest Indian College, plays bass for the band Pawnbroker, has a wife and three children, and writes his little brain out.

2017, The Year That Was… Busy

Traditionally, at the end of the year writers gather round a merrily blazing fire and toss in all their computers. Any computers that are left after the fire burns out are then published, as-is, and that’s exactly how publishing works.

In case you want to know.

Wait… no, I’m just getting an update that actually, at the end of each year, writers tend to write a summary of their yearly doings! Ah. That makes more sense.

I published two novels this year, one novelette (that’s writer-speak for “longish short story”), and one verrrrry short collaboration.

When Stars Are Scattered came out in April and is still my favorite of all my published stories. I think I managed to do some things in this story that I have never been able to do in other stories. Quick Sip Reviews said some nice things about it and it’s on the Nebula Recommended Reading list, which (cough cough) you can upvote if you feel the need.

Category: Novelette. 13,000 words

Carbon Dating was a funny little flash story about the Internet becoming sentient & looking for love. My first collaboration with the amazing Effie Seiberg!

Category: Short Story (Flash Fiction) 900 words

And then the NOVELS, of course.

A Red Peace: First in the Starfire Trilogy, with pretty decent reviews and blurbs from Kameron Hurley, Tobias Buckell, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Beth Cato. Aaaand my first novel. Wow. I’ve been looking forward to this a long time, and it’s been out now for 4 months! WHAAAAAAA.

Novel, 53,000 words

Shadow Sun Seven: The sequel to A Red Peace, second in the trilogy, out for four weeks now, and… I blabbered about it all over Chuck Wendig’s blog. Liz Bourke says, and I quote: “Ellsworth’s worldbuilding continues to grow ever more mind-bendingly batshit.”

Novel, 64,000 words

It was a really busy year. Between edits on Shadow Sun Seven up through spring, completing the third book Memory’s Blade, (out February 27th!) and a couple of other projects, plus a mind-bending 98,000 words for NaNoWriMo, I done… wore myself out.

Another post to come about the fiction I enjoyed this year, but honestly, I gotta catch up on my reading first.

SHADOW SUN SEVEN Has Landed! With A Squishy Bug Sound!

BEHOLD!!! Starfire: Shadow Sun Seven, the second book in the trilogy, hits the stands today.

Let’s see that cover, by Sparth, again.


As for the book itself, a little excerpt from the interview:

Shadow Sun Seven is about a caper through the guts of a space tick. Because…I’m gross. The purpose of said caper: to rescue a prisoner who knows secrets that could undo the reign of John Starfire, which began in A Red Peace.

The first book was all chase. Jaqi, our ne’er-do-well smuggler, was running from Araskar’s division of soldiers. But in Shadow Sun Seven, you get to see our heroes fight back, make some dirty deals, and sneak around, steal stuff, lurk in disguise, and fight, of course.

Oh, and they crawl through the guts of a giant space tick. In case you forgot.

I answered some questions about the book over here, and also blabbed about it a bit in this interview with the Unreliable Narrators podcast. And I talk about bugs in general at here.

Getchoo one on

Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Kobo – Powell’s

Book Release Shenanigans!

I am home after a whirlwind tour of Washington & Oregon, with a few events yet to do, and overall… it was great!

I’ve released a book.


First event was at University Bookstore on August 25th, with a great turnout thanks to Duane’s tireless efforts to promote the book & the events. I read. I quizzed the audience on space opera. We ate space bug cookies. A SPLENDID TIME.

IMG_7138 IMG_7139 IMG_7140


Next, I went off to Oregon to read and sign with the incomparable Wendy Wagner. We wandered around Salem in hundred-degree heat, and wobbled around Eugene in slightly less heat looking for chocolate, stayed in a super-hippie hostel where they had musical instruments just lying around for the playing.
Salem reading IMG_7108

I also signed all the stock of A RED PEACE at Powell’s, and I have to say… I might have cried a little when I walked into Powell’s and saw my book on the shelf.

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And they had a lot! Uh… if you’re in Portland, please buy one!



Finally, I made my victorious conquest of Village Books in Bellingham. And oh, what a conquest it was. Cory Skerry and my best gal Chrissy built a ridiculous quiz. If I answered the questions right, I got to win my Transformers back. If the audience answered right when I failed, they got prizes.

THIS WAS NOT FAIR. Especially since the questions included such gems as “which planet would you eat if you were a space spider?” Who could choose? They all look so tasty.

At least Cory drew me as a space spider to remove the sting of almost losing my robot toys.

IMG_7142 IMG_7141IMG_7143 IMG_7144 And there it is. Right there on the shelf in my home bookstore.

It never gets old. I know books are focused on ebook/POD and I won’t see it in many bookstores, but just a few bookstores is enough to set my little heart racing. When I was 13, I decided I wanted to write and promptly started a goooooooooooood-awful novel called Starfire: The Last Jorian. Other than a few names, it bears nothing in common with A RED PEACE, but I envisioned this moment then, and it’s nice to see the work pay off.

The Space Bugs Have Landed!

It’s here!

My first novel!

The space bugs have come for you! Keep very large bug spray on hand.

And the reviews are good, too. Here’s a few samples:

“From beginning to end, this book is a rocket-ride adventure that you’ll probably finish in one go, thanks in no small part to the enormously memorable characters.” – Barnes & Noble SF Blog

“The first entry in Ellsworth’s trilogy provides both the high adventure and scale of a classic space opera, but with a set of diverse characters with varied motivations and greater nuance.” – RT Book Reviews

And from Liz Bourke, at my own publisher’s site:
“Some of this [book] is batshit. All of it is cool.”

I’m at Lawrence Schoen’s EATING AUTHORS blog, talking about my most memorable meal. It involves head injuries, butt injuries, a bad rash and public urination.

I talk about how important fire (and lentils) are to me at

I share an un-ruinable recipe for gluten-free brownies on Beth Cato’s Bready or Not blog.

I talk about my writing process at Absolute Write.

And a general RED PEACE overview & more writing talk at the Qwillery.


If you live in the Pacific Northwest, there’s a good chance you can come see me over the next few months:

Friday, August 25th, Big Book Release for STARFIRE: A RED PEACE, University Bookstore Seattle, 7 PM

Thursday, August 31st, Barnes & Noble, Eugene, OR, 7 PM with Wendy Wagner

Friday, September 1st, The Book Bin, Salem, OR, 7 PM with Wendy Wagner

Saturday, September 16th, Village Books, Bellingham, WA, 7 PM

Tuesday, September 26, I interview Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Justice & Provenance, at Third Place Books in Kenmore, WA, 7 PM

Sunday, November 19th, SF Authorfest At Powell’s Books, Cedar Hills Crossing, Portland, OR, 4-5:30 PM featuring ADVANCE copies of STARFIRE: SHADOW SUN SEVEN

Friday, December 8th: Release party for STARFIRE: SHADOW SUN SEVEN, Third Place Books Ravenna, Seattle, WA


I’ll be at Miscon over Memorial Day Weekend, from Friday through Sunday, at the Holiday Inn in downtown Missoula, Montana. Looks like a fun schedule. I’ll be reading from A RED PEACE, signing anthologies and short story magazines, and doing tooooooons of panels.

Fri 2:00 – 2:50 PM, Book Signing: General Session, Dragon Pavilion (1)

Panel Fri 4:00 – 4:50 PM, Similes and Metaphors, Gallatin
Moderator: Krista Wallace; Panelists: Jill Bowers, Claire Eddy, Spencer G. Ellsworth, Krista Wallace
Sprinkling your writing with similes and metaphors can add vivid detail and make your writing come to life. Let’s discuss how you write unique similes and metaphors and come up with some of our own!

Panel Sat 11:00 – 11:50 AM, Rebooting Your Career, Jefferson
Panelists: David Boop, Jill Bowers, Spencer G. Ellsworth, J.A. Pitts
Tragedies, money, brain block, fear, procrastination. A lot of things can stall a career–professional or otherwise. How does a writer get their career back on track after a long break? Can an author recapture a fan base they lost?

Panel Sat Noon – 12:50 PM, Meet & Greet/Signings, Spotlight
Panelists: Spencer G. Ellsworth, J.A. Pitts, D.L Solum
Meet a few of our authors, get signatures, and see what they’re up to these days.

Moderator Sat 2:00 – 2:50 PM, Popular Books and Movies: The Elevator Pitch, Madison
Moderator: Spencer G. Ellsworth; Panelists: Claire Eddy, Spencer G. Ellsworth, Randy Henderson, Lane Heymont
Before we learn how to write a good elevator pitch, let’s first discuss some examples using popular books or films. Join us for what promises to be a fun time!

Sat 4:00 – 4:50 PM, Author Readings, Yellowstone
Panelists: David Boop, Spencer G. Ellsworth, Eric Scott Fischl
Join our authors as they read from their latest works!

Red Pieces! of A RED PEACE!

This week my publisher is promoting the hecka heck heck out of my book, because bookstores are now looking at which releases they’ll order this summer.

With all the craziness of “politics” in the English-speaking world right now, it’s understandable that people are maybe not getting pumped about reading so much as trembling in front of a computer going “why why why.”

But I wrote this book about demagogues, broken societies, inequality… and giant bugs in space, because I like bugs. I hope it’ll be both fun and an inspiration.

There’s three cool promotions that will get you the book and let you share with friends:

1- Get the book free along with samples of other space opera books here:…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

2- Enter a giveaway to get five books, including mine:…/tor-com-publishing-space-opera-sweeps…/

3- Just plain read the first chapter online!…/starfire-a-red-peace-spen…/

When Stars Are Scattered

“When Stars Are Scattered” is out and ready to read on as of April 5th. Or buy it for your Kindle or Nook for ninety-nine cents.

I doubt I’ve ever put as much work into a short story as I did this one. I first got the idea in 2006, after a talk with my friend Dina. Dina was the first Muslim I ever became real friends with. Being that we were both college students living in a red state during the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, there was no escaping the public (often toxic) discussion of Islam.

I hit on the idea of “kite” aliens–like flying squirrels, but even less graceful, whose bodies would look to us like a big square piece of paper. And I decided they would be converts to Islam. Our main character, a doctor and a secret atheist, treats them for a mysterious disease, and their conversion has damn near started a war. And and and… well, a lot of ideas went into this story. You’ll just have to read it.

I don’t think I’ve ever written a story that meant something to me as much as this one did.

After MANY drafts, the story sold to Many many people helped me with the endless wrestling of this story, but special mention for Khaalidah Mohammed-Ali, who checked and rechecked the thing for plot & character inconsistencies, and for accuracy in my depiction of Muslim characters. She’s also a magnificent writer; check out her website and make sure to read her story “Talking To Cancer” in the latest issue of FIYAH.

And if you’re a member of SFWA, you can upvote both this story and one of Khaalidah’s at the Nebula Suggested Reading List.