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 Tor.com.

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

Miscon!

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: https://www.amazon.com/Tor-com-Publishings-Su…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

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

3- Just plain read the first chapter online! https://www.barnesandnoble.com/…/starfire-a-red-peace-spen…/

When Stars Are Scattered

“When Stars Are Scattered” is out and ready to read on Tor.com 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 Tor.com. 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.

NEWS & Norwescon Schedule

Hey there! I will have more shortly, but a couple of pieces of news:

When Stars Are Scattered is up at Tor.com. This is the MONSTER, the story that took ten years to write and is still breaking my heart and confusing me as to whether I got it right. I will have several blog posts about it–and more in the newsletter.

And I’ll be at Norwescon! Schedule below. I’ll be signing as many leftover copies of anthologies & magazines I’ve been in as I have, until I run out.

 

Friday
Comics and Kids’ Real Lives
10:00am – 11:00am @ Cascade 3&4
Mickey Schulz (M), Spencer Ellsworth, Brenna Clarke Gray, Dylan Templar

Reading: Spencer Ellsworth
1:00pm – 1:30pm @ Cascade 2
Spencer Ellsworth (M)

Alternative History
5:00pm – 6:00pm @ Cascade 5&6
Spencer Ellsworth (M), Renee Stern, Nisi Shawl, Kay Kenyon, Bill Gruner

Saturday
Comics for Younger Readers
11:00am – 12:00pm @ Cascade 5&6
Marta Murvosh (M), Spencer Ellsworth, Adia, Minim Calibre, Brenna Clarke Gray

Hand me the Superwrench ConnectorThingy
12:00pm – 1:00pm @ Poolside0
Spencer Ellsworth (M), Raven Oak, David D. Levine, Elliott Kay

Kookie Klatsch with Tina Connolly
2:30pm – 3:00pm @ Olympic 1
Adia (M), Tina Connolly, Eric Snyder, Spencer Ellsworth

Autograph Session 2
3:00pm – 4:00pm @ Grand 2
Catska Ench, Cory Ench, Ethan Siegel, Ian McDonald, Marc Gascoigne, Mike Underwood, Nancy Kress, Alexander James Adams, Cat Rambo, Dale Ivan Smith, Erik Scott de Bie, Evan J. Peterson, Jeremy Zimmerman, John (J.A.) Pitts, Jude-Marie Green, Kristi Charish, Laura Anne Gilman, Liz Argall, Django Wexler, Frog Jones, Raven J. Demers, Spencer Ellsworth, Susan R. Matthews, Morgue Anne, Brenda Cooper, Lisa Mantchev, Bella la Blanc, Mark Teppo, Hayley Stone, Rhiannon Held, Sonia Orin Lyris

Comic RPG Smackdown
5:00pm – 6:00pm @ Cascade 5&6
Spencer Ellsworth (M), Erik Scott de Bie, Matt Youngmark, Adia

The Evolution of Star Wars
7:00pm – 8:00pm @ Cascade 9
Spencer Ellsworth (M), Dylan Templar, David Fooden, Mike Underwood, Rob Stewart

Blade & Branch & Stone Up At Podcastle

Blade & Branch & Stone is now up at Podcastle! This is a lovely audio recording of my story, ably hosted by the amazing Matt Dovey and a trio of great narrators.

(This is also a LONG one, folks. It was a failed novel; you should be glad I stopped at 11,000 words.)

This story is a deliberate homage and (I hope) tribute to good old JRR Tolkien.  I’ve always thought the ending of The Lord of the Rings was too easy. The men inherit Middle-Earth, and the elves conveniently go over the sea, abandoning the land they’ve fought for, and the Ents… well, they’re in the woods somewhere. What happens when the age of colonialism comes and trees are cut down and men sail all over the world? Blade & Branch & Stone is a story about a world without a conveniently evil Sauron, just two very different perspectives on the planet. Hope you enjoy it.

(And if you do, please throw some support at Podcastle. They pay writers very well, and each year they do an awesome showcase of women & nonbinary writers, Artemis Rising, and do it all based on support from listeners. They’ve been my favorite short story podcast through four different editorial incarnations and eight years.)

Music Monday: New Spoon!

Hot Thoughts is out and I freaking love it! Not as much as They Want My Soul, but I can understand why the Spoonies went for something weird and experimental and atmospheric instead of a rerun of a great pop record.

There’s about four real standout songs on the album, and this is my favorite, with its crunchy Wurlitzer and crazy middle:

 

Second Novel Freeze-Up

I’m not sure what “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” is about, but I can give a stab at my own version of the lyrics:

Teardrops on the manuscript

Writer’s searching for his groove

Seems like the whole world’s writing pretty

And you can’t get this draft to move

Something something, Second Novel Freeze-Up.

(Baby We Were Born to Run-on Sentence?)

If you, Faithful Blog Reader (hi Mom) have noticed that my blog is not so much like a blog lately, and more like one of those abandoned gas stations in the Mojave Desert… yeah.

I sold a trilogy last year, and I had only written the first one. Turns out it’s hard to write the next one while you’re in the middle of selling the thing. And signing contracts. And a nightmare of an election. And and…

There’s a playful kid in my head, who makes explody noises even when he’s trying not to, who will always and forever need some Star Wars toys to bash together (shh, it’s perfectly healthy for a grown man to have a collection of toys).  For years that kid has been like, “I play, you make something out of them, the money gets me more toys.”

All of the sudden, me and the kid were over that big hump–here we had an agent and editor & first book deal, with a tight deal to turn in the second and third books and the kid SCREAMED. And hid under the bed. And said STOP LOOKING AT ME.

This was not the plan, kid. You were supposed to be a fire hose of inspiration always. I was just trying to tap into your madness.

So the beginning of Book 2 was… not great. Not in any of the three incarnations I wrote before I just forced myself to finish it. As I got into the middle, the kid came out of hiding, wiped his tears, changed his pants and started playing again. But you will not be surprised to hear that, now that we have rough drafts of Books 2 & 3, I am rewriting the entire beginning of Book 2. And having more fun this time.

You want to know more about this sequel, you say? You haven’t even read the first novel and you want more? Preorder the first one already, baby, and then sign up for my newsletter! (Either click that link, or you’ll be prompted as soon as you navigate away from this window.) Every month, I send a non-spammy email with updates on my appearances, what I’m reading, and where my stories are appearing.

The Kid needs more toys. Come on now. Sign on up.