Sunny Moraine On Writing Pain, Characters and ‘Sword and Star’ (guest blog and giveaway)


Sword and Star

Sword and Star (Root Code #3) by Sunny Moraine
iptide Publishing
Cover art by Kanaxa

Read an Excerpt/Buy It Here

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Sunny Moraine here today to talk about writing, characterization and her latest novel in her Root Code series, Sword and Star.  Welcome, Sunny!.


Welcome to the SWORD AND STAR blog tour! 


SWORD AND STAR is the conclusion of a trilogy I started (with my co-author for LINE AND ORBIT Lisa Soem) over a decade ago. It’s been a long, strange journey and now it’s over. It’s not the first book trilogy I’ve finished, but it’s certainly the closest to my heart.


It’s been amazing getting to know this world and these characters over the course of three books, and it’s been even more amazing getting to share it all with readers. Adam Yuga and Lochlan d’Bideshi’s story is done, Eva Reyes and Kyle Waverly have found their own conclusion, Kae and Leila’s part in this tale is over (though you’ll see those two again in the forthcoming LINEAGE), and I’ve bid a fond farewell to the Bideshi seer Nkiruka. Goodbyes are never easy, but when you arrive at a good one, it’s immensely satisfying.


I’m so grateful to everyone who’s traveled with me, and just as grateful to the people coming to the story now. Whatever category you fall into, I hope you’ll find this final volume a fitting end.


Thank you for being here!



Character Pain


One of the things that ends up being most necessary in a story, I think, is the willingness to make your characters suffer.


Which can be hard, because – ideally – you love these people. They’ve come to mean an enormous amount to you. You also identify with them; writing them is going to mean getting into their heads, their thoughts, feeling what they feel. If you’re going to put them through pain, writing it means experiencing that pain, at least to some degree. At least if you’re going to write it well.


So it’s natural to be inclined to not do so. But that’s a mistake.


It’s a mistake in part in terms of the amount of story. An easily resolved problem doesn’t give you much scope for plot. But even more it’s a mistake because it means there’s nothing at stake, and in order for a story to be engaging, the stakes have to be high. Usually the higher the better. Which means danger, severe consequences if things go wrong – and things pretty much have to go wrong, or the danger won’t seem real.


Though the entire Root Code trilogy, I’ve been trying to raise the stakes. LINE AND ORBIT ends with a climactic battle; SWORD AND STAR begins in the midst of a buildup to war, and the story as a whole is the story of that war. You don’t get stakes much higher than that – the war itself has the potential to be a war wherein the human race destroys itself. But that’s only a backdrop for the fear and suffering I put my characters through. I tried to put them through as much as I reasonably could, pushing them to their limit – which is important, because when you push a character as far as you can, you get to know them in a way nothing else allows for.


Throughout the course of the book, my characters have to decide what they’re willing to fight for, what they’re willing to die for – and even more, whether they’re willing to sacrifice their chance to be with the people they love. Because wondering if you’ll have to choose between saving what you have with those people and saving the lives of millions… I can think of worse things than that, but it’s pretty bad.


Especially when the story is ultimately about love, about what love costs, and in the end about how love can heal.


So I put my characters through hell. It wasn’t necessarily fun, but it was necessary, and at the end of the book I believed I had given them something meaningful to fight through, to fight for, and that whatever victory they managed to attain was truly worth something as a result. And that the love they all had for each other was worth something as well, because these people are all family more than anything else. I believed the destination justified the journey, but also the other way around.


I hope, if you take that journey with them, that you’ll feel the same.



Sword and Star

About Sword and Star


Three months after a brutal battle at Peris, Adam Yuga, Lochlan D’Bideshi, and their rebel fleet are embroiled in a new conflict. But things aren’t going well. Even with Lock’s homeship, Ashwina, at the head of the fleet, the Protectorate forces are adapting to their tactics. Before long, two devastating blows send the ragtag rebels on the run. But the greatest threat may come from within.


Since the battle at Peris, Protectorate loyalist Isaac Sinder’s determination to eliminate the rebel fleet has only intensified—along with his ambition. The Protectorate is decaying, and it’s clear to Isaac that only he can save it, by any means necessary.


As the situation worsens for the rebels, the strain begins to tell on everyone. But more than exhaustion grows within Adam. Something alien has started to change him. Lochlan fights to hold on, but even he may not be able to follow Adam down the dark road ahead.


As Isaac’s obsession turns to insanity, it becomes evident that more sinister plans than his are at work. Bound together by threads of fate and chance, Adam and Lochlan turn their eyes toward a future that may tear them apart—if they’re lucky enough to survive it at all.



About Sunny Moraine


Sunny Moraine’s short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Nightmare, Lightspeed, Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, and multiple Year’s Best collections, among other places. They are also responsible for the novels Line and Orbit (cowritten with Lisa Soem), Labyrinthian, and the Casting the Bones trilogy, as well as A Brief History of the Future: collected essays. In addition to authoring, Sunny is a doctoral candidate in sociology and a sometimes college instructor; that last may or may not have been a good move on the part of their department. They unfortunately live just outside Washington DC in a creepy house with two cats and a very long-suffering husband.

Connect with Sunny: 






To celebrate the release of Sword and Star, Sunny is giving away a signed copy of the book and a handmade necklace. Leave a comment to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 28, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!


This title is #3 of the Root Code series.

This title is part of the Songs of Slipstream universe.

A Free Dreamer Review: Labyrinthian by Sunny Moraine


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

LabyrinthianA hunter should never fall for his prey.
A hunter’s heart should never fall prey to his quarry. 

Still nursing his latest post-mission hangover, bounty hunter Theseus jumps at a high-paying, high-risk job that sounds ridiculously easy. Yet from the moment he nabs the alleged supersoldier with sedative gas, nothing is as it seems.

On the run from the facility where he was created and raised, Taur is desperate to locate his genetically engineered brothers and sisters. To rescue them—and himself—from slavery. Waking aboard Theseus’ ship, his fury is tempered by curiosity about his captor.

Despite his doubts about his prisoner, Theseus figures it’d be risky to let Taur go—until they’re thrown together by a shared betrayal. They declare a tentative truce as they flee from a shadowy and immensely powerful organization that will stop at nothing to find them.

But as they wrestle with their growing feelings for each other, Taur and Theseus face an even greater danger. A lethal threat lurking inside Taur’s own body, waiting to explode…

“Labyrinthian” is my second book by Sunny Moraine. It’s set in the same universe as “Line and Orbit”, but definitely works as a standalone. It’s not part of the “Root Code” series, since it’s set in a different part of space, with completely different MCs.

I quite enjoyed this book. It’s fast, fun, and action packed. There’s a healthy dose of violence with some gore, so beware. Personally, the gore was a little too much for me at times. I do not need to read in detail about Taur ripping out another man’s arms, thank you very much.

Still, I liked the tough personalities of both MCs. Taur definitely has a very soft core, which was a bit of a surprise. It’s not something you’d expect when first meeting him. But he has people he really, really cares about and doesn’t shy away from doing whatever necessary to save them.

Theseus was quite likeable as well. He’s still recovering from a bad break-up and now he just loves his job as a hunter and his ship.

I liked how uncertain Taur was when it came to social interactions, especially love and romance. It was really quite adoring at times. And Theseus was more than happy to teach him all about sexuality. So sex happened, but it definitely wasn’t the main focus of the book, nor was the romance. Mostly, “Labyrinthian” focused on the wild chase through the universe, to find Taur’s siblings, and to get away from the people who created him.

The world building was well done and very interesting. Phae, a minor character and also Theseus’ ex-girlfriend, added spice to the mix. She had a unique and interesting personality. It never gets boring with her around.

Overall, “Labyrinthian” was an enjoyable space opera that could have used a touch less gore. I liked it and I definitely like Sunny Moraine’s writing. Looking forward to reading more by her.

The cover by Kanaxa shows Taur and Theseus, a solar system and a dark landscape. It’s very pretty.

Sales Links:[ Samhain | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play ]

Book details:

Kindle Edition, 290 pages

Published January 20th 2015 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.

Love LGBTQIA Science Fiction? Check out Sunny Moraine on Writing, and her release, Fall & Rising (guest blog and contest)



Fall & Rising by Sunny Moraine
This title is part of the Songs of Slipstream universe
Published by Riptide Publishing
Cover Art by Kanaxa

Sales Link at Riptide Publishing

Welcome to the Fall and Rising blog tour!

I’m Sunny Moraine and Fall and Rising is a story I’ve been trying to make happen for some time. On finishing its predecessor Line and Orbit, I knew Adam and Lochlan’s story couldn’t be over. I knew, in fact, that it was just beginning. In Fall and Rising I wanted to continue to explore their journey, as well as the ways in which their tumultuous meeting and the battle that followed have affected the people they love. In short, this was a world I wanted to return to. I’m very pleased that I was able to do so, and I’m very excited to share the result with you.

On this tour I’ll be talking about the process of writing the book and what it taught me about writing in general, the trials and tribulations of passing through the world of the story, some of the tools I used to put me into a place where I could tell that story, and some of why I wanted to write it at all.


I’ll also be giving away a signed copy of the print edition of the book, along with a set of two hand-made (by me) agate, copper, and glass beaded bracelets inspired by the world of Fall and Rising. Additionally, you’ll have a chance to win one of two e-copies!

Every comment on this blog tour enters you for the giveaway. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 5th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Don’t forget to leave your email so we can contact you if you win! 



It’s always interesting to return to a universe you’ve been away from for a while.

I wrote Fall and Rising over a period of months a couple of years ago. It was the second version of the book; I scrapped the first version because I didn’t think it worked and rewrote the thing mostly from scratch. So I wrote it, I was reasonably happy with it after some editing, and then I did two things: I put it away and didn’t look at it again for a bit, and I started sending it to places in the hope that they might offer to pay me money for it.

(It took a while for the latter thing to bear any fruit)

What that meant in practical terms was that I didn’t go back to the universe of Adam and Lochlan and their friends for a few months. I worked on other projects. I focused on other things. The universe was still there, rattling around in my head, and it was still accessible. I just didn’t go there for a while.

Then I (finally) sold Fall and Rising to Riptide – along with its followup and third book in the trilogy, Sword and Star – and I had to dive back in for the editing process to commence.

It felt strange. You know how you might have these places you know inside out, in which you feel very comfortable? But then maybe you leave them for a time. When you return, even if nothing much has changed in your absence, everything looks just a little bit off somehow. Your memory has shifted, and nothing quite matches what’s in your head. It’s almost like a kind of deja vu; you know you know this place, but you’re also not completely sure that you do. It’s familiar, but your feeling of comfort has been lost.

That’s what returning to this universe was like for me. I knew these places, these people, this history and this lore, but I didn’t walk back in with any particular ease. It took me some time to settle and feel comfortable again. I had to get reacquainted with the layout. I had to have conferences with some characters. So what’s up with you right now? What’re you doing? What’s your goal here, what are you hoping to get out of this?

It worked, it was fine, but there was a period of difficulty, and the only thing to do was soldier through.

I think this is something that often keeps writers from finishing long projects. I know it’s gotten in my way more than once. The fear that if you return to something you haven’t touched in a while, not only will it not be as good as you want it to be, but you won’t even recognize it. You’ll try to get back into that universe and you won’t know where anything is. You won’t know anyone. They won’t know you. You’ll get lost and no one will be inclined to help you out, and in the end you’ll just wander away having wasted your time, and feeling uncomfy.

I don’t think that’s an unreasonable fear. But as fears go, I try to remember that it shouldn’t stop you from trying. Because that universe is still inside you, and it is still yours. Your people will know you when you arrive. You’ll gradually remember where things are and how things work. It might not even be nearly as difficult as you imagined.

It might even feel like coming home.



Book Blurb

Adam Yuga is on the run. Three months ago, a miracle saved him from the deadly genetic illness that threatens the entire population of his former home, the Protectorate. Now he and his lover Lochlan are searching for a way to heal his people. When they receive a mysterious coded message promising hope, they make a desperate grab for it, and are imprisoned—by the very race they want to save.

On Lochlan’s distant homeship, a young pilot named Nkiruka faces an agonizing choice: stay with her lover Satya and live a life of happy obscurity, or become the spiritual leader—and the last and only hope—for the Bideshi. Nkiruka doesn’t want to lose Satya, but worse, she fears she lacks the strength to carry anyone through the coming storm, let alone her entire people.

Threads of chance and destiny draw the three together. With the fates of civilizations in their hands, they prepare for a final conflict that might be their only chance for survival—or that might destroy them all.

Author Bio

Sunny Moraine’s short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Nightmare, Lightspeed, Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, and multiple Year’s Best collections, among other places. They are also responsible for the novels Line and Orbit (cowritten with Lisa Soem), Labyrinthian, and the Casting the Bones trilogy, as well as A Brief History of the Future: collected essays. In addition to authoring, Sunny is a doctoral candidate in sociology and a sometimes college instructor; that last may or may not have been a good move on the part of their department. They unfortunately live just outside Washington DC in a creepy house waith two cats and a very long-suffering husband.

Connect with Sunny:
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Songs of Slipstream

The future isn’t an easy place to live. Humanity is split into two warring factions: one is determined to bring all of human-explored space under its control, and the other travels the stars in massive homeships, carrying with them the ancient stories and traditions their foes have rejected.

On the sparsely populated frontier, renegades, bounty hunters, and pirates maintain their own rule of law. Government is nonexistent. Ethics are a luxury. Greed is the order of the day.

And on the worlds unexplored by humankind lurk wonders and dangers beyond imagining.

One thing you can say for the galaxy, regardless of which faction you’ve chosen: life there is never boring.