Post Christmas Update

Hey guys, Max here!

So, no Being a Better Writer post today, for a few reasons. The writing-based reasons are that I’m currently busy with getting ready for the new year, including planning out my goals and schedule for the coming months. As I’ve got a book coming out in a few weeks, that plannings got a very visceral feel, but I also want to see about making sure my writing goals for this year are accurate and keeping me up to speed.

Of course, there’s a none-writing reason too. Last week, just before Christmas, my house had some work done. A basic installation … except in the course of it a water pipe was nicked by a screw and sprung a leak. What we thought was initially a byproduct of lots of rain and seepage quickly changed into a small battle against the elements—or to be precise, two elements. Because see, this water leak is in the same room as the majority of our electronics. All last week and through the weekend a war was waged against the water, utilizing towel after towel, until a contractor could arrive to take a look at things.

As for why this is interfering with a BaBW post for the day, the plain and simple truth is that as the leak got worse, I jury rigged a contraption to catch roughly fifty to seventy-five percent of the water in a tray … but it has to be emptied every hour or it overflows. So at the moment I’m running a little bit short on sleep.

That’s okay though; were this an ordinary Christmas vacation, I still wouldn’t be back at it anyway for the above reasons of planning and whatnot. 2016 is coming, and with it Unusual Events, Colony, and Shadow of an Empire. I need to figure out what I’m writing after Shadow, as well as get the second Alpha for Colony underway. Plus there’s the BaBW posts to plan ahead for, another LTUE convention in February …

Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed your holidays, and are looking forward to what 2016 brings! I’ll be back in a day or two with some less sleep-deprived content!

EDIT: And the construction crew is coming today to fix things. Hooray! But now I have to get everything ready for them.

A Quick Sale Reminder!

Hey guys, just a quick reminder in case you forgot: Dead Silver and One Drink both are on sale right now. Hawke’s adventure with chupacabras (Dead Silver) can be had for $2.99, while Jacob Rocke’s foray into a ghostly wolf attack (One Drink) is entirely free!

You can get One Drink here and Dead Silver here! Merry Christmas!

Also, Patreon supporters! You’re getting something very nice indeed! You’ll know what it is in a few days!


The Season

Today is December 21st. Four days until Christmas day.

I’ve thought a lot about what I wanted to write for today, and I do mean a lot. I had a lot of drafts that I went over in my mind, debated, discussed with myself, and eventually discarded. I even debated sitting down and writing this all out in advance. But … I never quite did. Instead I waited until this exact moment to write this out, because while I knew what I wanted to say, wasn’t sure how I wanted to say it, what method I wanted to use to present what’s taking this week’s place from Being a Better Writer. I spent a lot of time thinking over it, weighing the various things I could say, the topics I could tie in—and make no mistake, there were plenty of those this last year. More than anything else, now, I think the world needs the message that the celebration of Christmas reveres and brings once more. This last year has seen hatred piled upon hatred, vitriol on vitriol. The world at large … well, it wouldn’t have us think kind things, or even good things. The message from it has been that we must hate those that disagree with us, and revile against those who are different then us.

It’s sad. Now more than ever, I think, we need to remember what Christmas is truly about.

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Discussion: What’s the Book You Enjoyed the Most in 2015?

Thought I’d try something new as we come to the end of the year, something special to replace the usual repost of an older Being a Better Writer.Today I want to see if I can get a discussion going in the comments. A discussion circling around one simple question: what is the book you’ve enjoyed the most in 2015?

Now, I don’t mean by this that you need to confine yourself to just books. Short stories count too, as does fanfiction, and well, anything really, as long as it’s a written text, long-form that you received some enjoyment of that you read in the year of 2015 (preferably one that was written with the express purpose of being read by a number of other people, rather than a personal letter).

It’s all subjective here, I just want to see what everyone comes up with. What were we reading this year, and looking back, what did we think of it? Let us know what you loved about it, why it mattered so much, and what you took away from it! Let’s see what we were reading!

For myself, the best book I’ve read this year is easily Terry Pratchett’s Raising Steam.

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Dead Silver Christmas Sale!

Dead Silver - $2.99

That’s right, Dead Silver is only $2.99 through December 25th! That’s 50% off! And if you were thinking about grabbing One Drink, well, actually wait on that one for another day or two. Amazon is being weird with the way its sales work.

Regardless, since they don’t do bundles, there’s no reason not to pick up Dead Silver right now if you haven’t, before Unusual Events comes along and steals your reading time!  Step into the shoes of Shaman Hawke Decroux, humane animal control officer, as he heads out into sunny New Mexico to track down a particularly pesky chupacabra problem at the behest of his old friend, Jacob Rocke, only to find himself in over his head when Rocke disappears and the chupacabra attacks grow more violent than any he’s ever seen.

I read this almost in one sitting … so that should give you an idea of how much I enjoyed it.” – Pat Patterson

The plot is surprising and managed to subvert my expectations, even when I was sure I had the major points down … captured my interest from the beginning, holding it to the very end.” – Johannes Luber

“… a must read for any fan of the genre.” – Tobias Giehm

An excellent supernatural mystery written with a very similar style to Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. If you have read and enjoyed those you will like this.” – Dillon Dishman

Check out an excerpt from the story after the break, and then pick up your own copy while the going is good!

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The Year in Review – What’s My Progress So Far?

December once more. Dang. Time flies so fast these days. I still remember what I was doing this time a year ago. I was halfway through the first draft of Colony and averaging about 3500-4000 words a day. Now, I’ve reached that time of year on the calendar one year down the road, and it’s time for me to look back and ask myself: “What on Earth have I accomplished in the last 365 days?”

It’s a valid question to ask of myself as the new year approaches, because I firmly believe that nothing motivates like having firm, measurable goals. In fact, I can say that they’re one of the reasons I’ve gone from writing under a 1000 words per day to writing 4000 or 5000 with gleeful abandon. In fact, this year I shattered another goal, setting a new record for myself during the writing of Beyond the Borderlands.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Better to take things in stride. So, without further ado, here is the year in review.

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Being a Better Writer: Some Tips for Writing Mysteries

What a weekend. I don’t know about you guys, but I finally got my hands on a copy of Halo 5: Guardians and played through it. The short? It’s a good thing the multiplayer is so good (and I do mean good) because the campaign and story are flat-out awful. And I do mean awful. The shooting’s fun, and the environments are neat … but the story is a hackneyed, jumbled, poorly thrown-together mess, and the dialogue … oh the dialogue …

Look, Halo has never been pushing for awards for great writing, I get that. But the first three games at least put together a fun, grand story that had some great moments. Guardians, on the other hand … Well, lets just say that there are a few scenes that couldn’t bemore poorly written. No joke: if I ever teach a class on creative writing or fiction writing, I’m using one of the cutscenes from Halo 5 as an example of what not to do, because it’s just that bad.

So yes, great gunplay, dialogue and writing so bad it made me cringe. Everything you heard about Guardian‘s poor story is absolutely true. In fact, it might be truer than you expected. If they handed out razzies for poor writing in games (and maybe they do, I don’t know), I’d be nominating Halo 5 this year.

Right. To business. Mysterious tips!

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Being a Better Writer: Character Versus Plot

This post was originally written and posted November 10th, 2014, and has been touched up and reposted here for archival purposes.

Today we’re going to talk about a lesser-considered aspect of storytelling and writing. I’ve bandied about with a few different introductions to the concept and summarily discarded all of them, so instead I’m just going to jump right in and tackle things.

Effectively—and understand that I am for the purposes of today’s concept, grossly simplifying—every story out there, written, told, or seen, rides a sliding scale into one of two categories: They’re either a character-driven piece or a plot-driven piece. That’s it. These are your options, and understanding which your story is going to be, as well as more importantly, how to achieve this, will play a part in determining the success of your work.

Okay, some of you are nodding, some of you are confused, a few are wondering where I’m going with this. So let’s look into this one a little more deeply.

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The Changing Face of Publishing

I had some thoughts crystallize themselves over the last few days, as I’ve poured over page after page of Unusual Events, tucking sentences here and trimming typos there. Thoughts that stemmed from a conversation with a family member of the weekend, and then pulled themselves together around a single, central point as Monday morning Penguin made what was probably another (I say because I don’t follow this that closely) announcement about e-books ruining the industry, this time laying the upcoming loss of 255 warehouse jobs on the humble electronic manuscript.

Yes, they’re still beating that tired, old horse. Probably will for a time to come to.

The thing is, though, that in a way they’re not wrong. At least, to say that e-books are part of the cause. Now, are they part of the blame? Well, no. There I say no. But in mixing my last few weeks of Alpha and Beta editing with the aforementioned conversation I had over the weekend and then seeing Penguin’s announcement, everything sort of came together for me in a crystal clarity.

Right, too many words. I’ll just get right to it: Yes, e-books have changed the industry. Forever changed it, mind. They’re not going away anytime soon.

But they’re also not the cause of the troubles so many of the big publishers are facing right now. They are a part of the cause, certainly, but as I said, they cannot take the blame. No, that blame rests solely elsewhere.

With the publishers themselves.

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