Being a Better Writer: Working with Trad-Pub

Hello readers! Welcome to another Monday, to Being a Better Writer, and one of the last reader-requested topics of Topic List #16!

Yeah, we’ve come that far once again. There are only a few topics left, and before long—definitely before the month is out—we’ll be putting out a call for new BaBW topic suggestions once again! So, you know, be thinking about what you’d like to hear about!

In the meantime, though, we’ve still got a few posts to go, so it isn’t quite that time yet. But keep it in mind!

So, before we dive into today’s topic, as usual, let’s talk some quick news! Work on Starforge continues, but things have moved into a mad dash now. Literally or on my end, I won’t say, but the story and work on it is moving at a good clip. Might have the draft finished in another few months.

How about Axtara? How’s it been performing? Well, it did have a bit of a boost this weekend when the cover and a little blurb ended up on a Facebook group. The power of word-of-mouth! Those of you that have read it and loved it and want to see more, be sure to tell people you know about it! Or sands, if you’re the kind of person that hangs out on Booktube or frequents some book review sites, let them know about it! That’s how they find out about stuff!

Oh, and the invitation is still open for pictures of Axtara copies spotted in the wild! I’ve started seeing listings for it pop up in various bookstores (a number of them in … Germany?), so I know she’s out there!

And that’s it for the news! There isn’t much to talk about during the slump between books, I know. So, without further ado, let’s talk about the subject of today’s Being a Better Writer post! Let’s talk about working with Traditional Publishing.

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A Plea to Please Consider the Patreon

Hello readers!

So this is a bit of a different post. But it is that time of year. As of yesterday, the payment to keep both the site and the webdomain running for another year—ad-free—has been paid.

I want to focus on that for a moment: “Ad-free.” As you might imagine, I get a lot of pressure from both the domain hosts and other sources, such as Google, to put advertising on the site. Just clicking to my daily stats for the site quite often puts me face to face with an ad that advertises the “financial virtues” of advertising to all of you.

I’ve steadily ignored that for years. Why? Because online ads suck. And I wouldn’t have control over them either. The last thing I want to hear about on this site would be someone reading a Being a Better Writer article to find their text split by an advertisement that had nothing to do with the site. Or worse, advertising something I myself wouldn’t agree with having on Unusual Things (which could be anything from competing books, to autoplaying noise, to lewd ads).

So no, Unusual Things remains ad-free despite these constant bombardments to me “explaining” to me how much money I’m missing out on. In a similar vein, I’m also constantly advertised at that the site could be running on a subscription model. Being a Better Writer, WordPress really wants me to know, could be behind a paywall! As could all my other content.

Now, there is one “upside” to all this. I could, if Amazon made changes I absolutely couldn’t stomach tomorrow, sell all of my books direct from the site using this service. Yes, it would let me sell files. So there is that option if I really needed it. But that’s a small upside I hopefully won’t need to take advantage of anytime soon.

Okay, so what’s the point I’m getting at here? My point is that there I receive constant encouragement to monetize advertising on Unusual Things. Which, given the regular traffic, isn’t that surprising. I choose instead not to monetize the existence of the site through ads because ads suck and make the site a lesser experience for everyone. Instead, I pay out of pocket to keep the site going while remaining ad-free.

Again, because I hate ads, and don’t think they’d add anything (hah) to the site.

I do, however, have a Patreon account set up, and noted with a single button on the side on the right. Because, well … Unusual Things isn’t free to run. But past that it also requires a good amount of time and dedication. To date, Being a Better Writer has been running each Monday (barring a few holidays the like) continuously now for almost six years. And along the way it’s become a staple of some writers’ Mondays. It’s featured in various college courses, cited/quoted on Wikipedia, linked to from Reddit and Facebook … Being a Better Writer has become for many a source of writing advice akin to Writing Excuses.

All right, maybe I am singing my own praises a little bit in that last statement, but the idea wasn’t to aggrandize things. It was to draw attention to how much Being a Better Writer has done over the years, and continues to do, while being given with zero up-front cost or adveritising.

But it’s still a lot of work. Hence, the Patreon.

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The Bi-Weekly Update: Road of Recovery

Hello again readers! I’m back! And I feel … Okay, well I’m not quite at 100% yet. I still slept until almost noon today, and am occasionally popping a cough drop into my maw to calm my cavernous coughs … But I’m definitely feeling more like myself than I have since last Friday. I’m hoping that by tomorrow I’ll be back to normal!

So, my (improving) health aside, what’s new?


Well, first let’s talk for a bit about Starforge. And I do mean for a bit, since I’m not about to drop spoilers here. But I can give you all the current wordcount of the first draft. Starforge has grown to 284,000 words. And it’s still climbing. I think by now it may already have more action than Colony and Jungle combined. Think. It’s probably close. There’s still a bit to go though, before it’s done. I’m going to venture a guess and say it’s about a third of the way through part three of four.

Yeah … lot to tie up with this last book. Lot to survive too. And I’ve almost said too much. So I’ll leave it there. Progress continues (especially now that I’m well again).


So, how about something I can give you some more substantial information on, like Axtara! Well, here’s some fun info: Axtara – Banking and Finance continues to be a stellar performer. It’s also delivered some interesting data, like having nearly 1:1 sales between digital and paperback. An interesting result, given that from what I’ve gathered from a lot of other authors their sales tend to go one way or the other (either largely digital or largely paperback). Axtara being almost a perfectly even split is pretty curious to me, but also kind of cool.

Oh, and I have a special request for those of you who loved Axtara: Be sure to request it at your local library! The more people request it, the more chances of a copy being picked up and more people being able to meet Axtara and share in her adventure!

In that vein of audience reaction and request, thank you to all those that have left reviews for Axtara on Amazon and Goodreads! As of right now she’s amassed a total of 19 ratings and reviews across both, all encouraging! So thank you to everyone that’s left your review and rating to tell the world what you think! And if you read it but haven’t left a rating or review yet in either place, please do! Ratings and reviews help readers know what to make of a title (surprisingly enough, not everyone who sees the premise of “dragon opens a bank” come on board immediately).


So let me see … There is some other miscellaneous news to address. Started getting site hits from another college, this one in Texas, so it appears that yet another Being a Better Writer article has been added to a college syllabus somewhere there. That’s pretty neat.

Oh! The computer is fixed! Thanks to the donation of a used power supply and a used Nvidia 1060 GPU from a friend, my computer is once again functioning. Oh, and dead silent compared to how loud it used to be. I had no idea how much of the fan noise from my desktop was coming solely from my old 660 Ti, but it appears it was almost all of it. That one fan was louder than my CPU fan and my case fans. And always had been.

It is really nice to have a functioning PC again.

And though I’m searching my mind looking for more news … I think that’s it. I’m going to get back to work on Starforge now, and I hope all of you have a fantastic week!

Being a Better Writer: Editing on the In-progress

Hello readers! I hope you’re all having a good Monday so far, and are looking forward to another installment of Being a Better Writer!

However, I do have some news for you: Today’s post is going to be a little short. Why? Well, I’m still sick. Not 100% out from under the thumb of this cold yet. So today’s post, as a hedge against my likely somewhat compromised mental state (and fatigue) is going to be a bit shorter.

But that’s okay because I have the perfect request topic that I’ve held onto for a while because I wasn’t positive that the answer would be that long. Short, to the point answer, compromised brain … like I said, perfect. So let’s just dive right in!

So, what question prompted this? As I said above, it was a reader request, and in this case the reader was inquiring after whether or not it was a good idea to go back and do major rewrite edits while still in progress on a story. As in, before the story has reached its end. And well, this one’s short but kind of tricky. The best answer I can give is “Yes and no.” And for that to make sense, you’ll need to hit the jump.

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Sick Day

It’s a good thing I beat my quota this month, because today? Well, today is definitely a sickday. I’m pretty certain it’s a nasty cold, brought about by lack of sleep, stress, and work, but I got the covid-19 test done just in case, since I did match a number of the overlapping symptoms (and my result arrived in under 15 minutes: Negative).

So yeah, no big post today folks. Sorry, but I’m beat. I’m going to bundle up and play some games. Maybe, if I can summon the energy, swap out my GPU (which failed its test last night). But that’s a big if. I’m not feeling great.

Apologies for the lack of content; I’ll hopefully be back Monday with another Being a Better Writer installment. I’ve got a weekend to recover, after all.

In the meantime, those of you who were sent Axtara paperbacks should be receiving them starting today, so check your mailboxes!

Oog. I’m going to go wipe out stuff in Gears 5.

Being a Better Writer: Getting Religion Right

Hello readers! Welcome back to another Monday installment of Being a Better Writer! I hope that all of you had an enjoyable weekend!

Mine was a bit of a mixed bag. Loved the new episode of Wandavision, but also spent more time determining some of my PC issues (the power supply is looking more and more like one culprit). I’ve got some replacement hand-me-down parts coming so we’ll see if that introduces some stability.

Oh, and here’s a real mystery for all of you out there. Axtara (fantastic book if you haven’t read it yet), a book about and starring a dragon, does not come up on Amazon’s selection of fantasy books involving dragons. At all. For reasons I’ve yet to find an explanation for.

No joke. I spent some time today looking at Axtara‘s keywords. Yup, dragon is in there. Genre? It’s in the right slot. But for some reason, if you go to Amazon’s selection of fantasy books (kindle and otherwise) involving dragons … Axtara is curiously absent.

The amused author part of me wants to joke that it’s some form of speciesism, that clearly Axtara is “not a dragon book” because the “dragon” in question isn’t being ridden (in either sense of the word, judging by some of those covers) or mauling people to death as a mindless beast, and therefore isn’t eligible.

The less-amused author in me is both annoyed and alarmed, because this means that people looking for books specifically about dragons on Amazon won’t find Axtara in their search or genre results, and that’s definitely negatively impactful to me. I’ve messed with some genre indicators and I hope that this fixes it. Next step will be an e-mail to Amazon directly, because what the what, if there ever was a book that was more suited for the “dragon” category, I haven’t found it.

While I’m on this tangent (and before we get to today’s post), is anyone else overly tired of dragon-rider books? Especially the ones where the mount is sapient and intelligence, but is basically treated like a horse that can talk? That’s one rut I’d rather see fantasy climb out of. Or, for all the talk of avoiding “problem issues” in fantasy, I’m surprised “keeping sapients in stables as mounts” hasn’t drawn more ire from readers. I guess the idea of equal rights only matters if they’re humanoid? At least Temeraire wasn’t afraid to tackle this, but most other generic dragon-rider fiction just kind of ignores it … and I’m getting too off-topic. That’s my mystery from the weekend.

So, let’s talk about today’s hammer of a topic: Getting Religion Right. And I’m pretty certain that already some people are going to have issues simply based on that title alone, because some folks get ready for a fight anytime the words “religion” and “right” are in a sentence together without the word “not” or something similar.

But whatever. We can’t shy away from this topic, and it’s an important one. Which is going to come with a hefty lead-in. So we may as well hit the jump and get started. Get to it.

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Fighting Against the Future

I’m not sure how long this post will be, so let’s just dive headfirst into it, shall we?

I’ve seen a rash of opinion articles (sometimes masquerading as “news” pieces) making the rounds lately that have left me feeling just more than a little put out. They’ve been on Facebook and social media, and I’ve seen people posting and sharing them with comments like “Yes, I’d never thought of it this way!” or other statements of affirmation. I’ve even had some of my direct family members talk about them with me.

The thing is? I disagree with these “news” pieces on a very firm level. See, these “news” pieces are written by what I would call “clockstoppers,” or what Axtara would refer to as “a near Pardellian Order.”

Maybe you’ve seen some of them around. There’s been a serious rash of them lately. Articles on the “dangerous conditions of lithium mining.” Or on how maybe “solar panels aren’t so green 30 years down the road.”

These articles make long, emotional appealing arguments about how everyone “thinks” electric vehicles are green, but look at this one lithium mine and what lithium mining is like! Or talks about how everyone is really excited about solar panels and wind turbines, but what will we do when those panels and turbines reach the end of their life in 30-50 years? What will become of us then?

I say “emotional appeal” because that’s what it is. These articles don’t address scientific data or real numbers, or when they do, it’s usually just the one that backs up their point. Which is? Well, to put it bluntly:

We should all refuse these new things because they’re new and scary, and we have something that works “good enough” already.

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Welcome to the Wild: The Bi-Weekly Update

Hello readers! It’s Wednesday, and that means a small news update on how things are ticking along!

First of all, there’s still more news about Axtara – Banking and Finance to deliver now that the paperback is out and in people’s hands. For starters, some of the author copies I promised to people have finally arrived, are now signed, and will be heading out as soon as I get to a post office this week. So rejoice, those of you who are getting one of those: You’ll soon have them in your hands!

Paperback copies of Axtara continue to go out as well. To where, I don’t get to see, but I’ve started seeing listings pop up on other book sites as well (usually European, maybe someone over there loves Axtara?), so they’re starting to spread out. I’ve been told that it’s been ordered by a few libraries as well, which is pretty cool!

So hey, if you’ve found Axtara in the wild, be it at your local library, a bookstore, or a bookshelf, let me know about it! I’d love to see how far she’s flown! Snap a picture with your phone and upload it to imgur or social media, then send me a link! I’ll post it here on the site if you’re willing!

Even if you aren’t, it’d be nice to hear how far she’s made it! How did you find Axtara? And where?


All right, time for other news updates. Starforge continues to make it’s way forward, and now clocks in at 270,000 words. Which may not seem like too much of an increase over the last I shared its progress, but I’ll remind you LTUE happened last weekend, and a big con like that does take a bite out of my writing days. Now I’m back on track and working my way through part three of the draft.


Speaking of LTUE, it was great this year. The team handled the con being all online really well, and a few rough patches on the first day were smoothed out by the end. Those who attended the conference can still go back and watch the streams of each panel, so if you signed up for LTUE and missed something, you still have the option to go see it!

Actually, for those of you who were able to attend this LTUE because of its online nature and would like LTUE to have an online component continuing in the future, let me know in the comments! I’ll pass them along to the LTUE staff and crew so they can see what sort of response they’re getting to keeping the streaming an active feature at future LTUEs!


All right, other relevant news. Computer is still holding up, though occasionally it gets a bit dicey. I’m fairly certain that my GPU is just on its last legs. While the life of that one hard drive can be “extended” by having my rig ignore bad sectors as they occur, a GPU going out is just a case of “it dies until it’s dead.” It’s kind of a shame the market for GPUs sucks right now with all the currency-mining going on; I’d have a better chance of getting a trip to Pisces than a new GPU to replace this old 660 Ti.

Then again, it’s served me long and faithfully. Maybe it can hold out for a year more.

Anyway, there isn’t much other news to share. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get back to whatever it is that Jake, Sweets, and Anna are up to. Which happens to be—

No spoilers. Sorry.


… And I was mistaken. I realized right before I was about to post that I did have one last bit of news. So prior to LTUE, rather than a traditional Being a Better Writer post I had a live Q&A session where I took questions from a chat and answered them on camera. We had a few participants show up, and it was a lot of fun. Which got me wondering: Would any of you be interested in having a live Q&A with a bit more regularity? What sort of regularity, and for what? Leave your comments below if that would be something you’d be interested in seeing, even as a Patreon Supporter Special of some kind?

Let me know, and I hope you’re all having a great week!

Being a Better Writer: The Importance of a Support Group

Hello readers, new and old! Welcome back to another (or perhaps your first) Monday installment of Being a Better Writer! For those of you that are new (and quite possibly discovered the site from your attendance of Life, The Universe, and Everything this weekend), BaBW is a regularly-occurring Monday article discussing all things writing, one topic at a time. Over the years, it has discussed hundreds of different topics, such Sanderson’s Three Laws of Magic, The Five-Man Band, Subverting Tropes, and even The Art of Misdirection, to name a few. Such has been the series’ popularity that if you’ve just discovered Unusual Things for the first time, it’s highly likely that you’ve still seen a snippet of it somewhere, from Wikipedia to Google search summaries on various topics.

Basically, if you’ve just arrived and are looking for writing advice, rejoice. There’s hundreds upon hundreds of articles here, all searchable, categorized, and even tagged. If you want writing articles on everything from brainstorming to formatting, you’re in the right place.

So welcome! To those of you returning readers, I hope you had a chance to attend the aforementioned LTUE convention this weekend. As usual, my daily write-ups are up and on the site, so if you missed the con (sadness, especially as this year it was online due to Covid-19, and easier to attend than ever), you can still catch a summary of just some of the panels that occurred.

And with that, there’s no other news to discuss today. So let’s dive right into our topic. Which is going to be a bit less of a common one. In fact, I was actually planning on writing about another topic until more than a few of those LTUE panels mentioned this one, and I decided it deserved its own place on BaBW.

Which makes today’s topic a slightly rarer one. Usually for BaBW the topics are the nuts, bolts, and washers of fiction. How to sell emotion, or how to make sure that your conflict is gripping readers. The stuff people think about when they think about writing.

But every so often BaBW takes a step back and tackles another aspect of writing that sometimes isn’t given nearly enough credit in the writing process: The health of the writer. The importance of keeping the primary and secondary writing machine—your brain and your body, not your keyboard and your word processor—in good shape so that you can continue to produce those stories that you love so much.

So today, readers, we’re going to talk about the importance of a support group.

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LTUE 2021 Writeup – Day Three!

Hello again, people! This post is the third and final writeup for the third and final day of LTUE, Life, The Universe, and Everything, the Fantasy/Sci-Fi writing convention!

As there have been two writeups prior to this one, I’ll assume that you’re familiar with the process and not bother to re-explain how this works here. So hit the jump, and let’s recap the third and final day of LTUE!

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