Why You Should Read … The War on Normal People

Yes, I realize this is somewhat of a weird post. After all, Jungle came out just two weeks ago. If anything, I should be pushing you to read that.

And, well, I still am. Today’s post doesn’t really take away from that. The title I’m recommending today, for instance, is non-fiction. As opposed to Jungle, which is fiction. It does, however, discuss some issues that Jungle explores and even addresses, elements that were underlying themes even in Colony.

But before we get too into that, what is Why You Should Read …? Pretty simple, actually. It’s a recommendation post. Something I’ve always been a big proponent of, both on this site and in person, is that people should read more. Read as much as possible. It’s a vital part of being a good writer yourself, exposing yourself to other ideas and approaches. Even outside of writing, it’s good for the mind to introduce yourself to new concepts, ideas, or perspectives that you may not have thought about.

So, with offering that mindset I also have to live it, and one thing I enjoy doing a lot of when I’m not working is reading. Usually Sci-Fi or Fantasy (you can learn from those too) or the occasional non-fiction book when I get curious about something. Occasionally, I’ll come across a book that I think is worth recommending for one reason or another, and so I’ll bring it up and do one of these posts on it.

Now, before we move on, I want to make something clear: I get nothing out of recommending this book. No compensation, no ad revenue, no under-the-table wads of dollar bills or public/private recognition. I found this book, read it, and decided there was something in it worth gaining that made it worth recommending. I don’t get any compensation from talking about this book.

The only exception being if you, as a wanderer of the web, wend your way over to my books page and buy one of my own titles. But that’s one of my own books, and not in any way affiliated with the title I’ll be discussing today. If you grab one of those, you’re just grabbing one of those. If you go out of your way to pick up a copy of The War on Normal people, I don’t see a penny, because that’s not the point of these posts. There’s no compensation anywhere for me talking about why you should read it.

That said, I’ve talked enough about what this post is. How about we dive right in and talk about why I believe you should read The War on Normal People, by Andrew Yang.

Oh, and no worries about spoilers. This isn’t the type of book to have a spoiler warning.

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Jungle: The First Two Weeks

Jungle CoverHello readers! I’m back! Two posts in two days is cutting it a little close, but … We’ve got special circumstances here.

How so? Well, as of two weeks ago Jungle, the long-awaited sequel to Colony, launched at last.

That’s right! It’s been out two weeks already. Some of you might even be getting close to finishing its titanic 1500 or so page length!

And a few of you already have, and left delightful reviews and ratings.

So, let’s talk about it for a bit! What’s the reaction so far?

Positive. Very positive. After two weeks, Jungle is sitting at Five-stars. With only five-ratings and reviews across Goodreads and Amazon. But again, it’s a titan of a book, and only came out two weeks ago. So even in two weeks, that’s a pretty hefty, time-consuming read. Five ratings and reviews in that time is pretty good.

Though, if one goes off of the reviews so far, it’s pretty easy to see how some finished it that quickly. Jungle has a knack, it seems for sucking the reader in and taking them on a ride to the very end, a ride no one wants to put down. One of the reviews is titled “A Tour de Force” for this exact reason.

So, let’s take a peek at some of these accolades! Well, from the aforementioned “Tour de Force” review, we’ve got this praise:

Lush, wildly imaginative and painstakingly yet appropriately concisely detailed settings, interstellar in scope but with careful attention to individual characters and their human(-ish?) interactions, speculative science that was fantastic beyond my imagining yet internally consistent and satisfyingly believable, and most important to me, characters that I could care about – even several of the ones who were obnoxious or abrasive (much like the real humans in my circle).

Another reviewer noted that the story “… becomes a frenzied dash for survival” and summed up a lengthy (but concise and spoiler-free) review with—

Ultimately, Jungle is a slow-build thrill ride full of interesting characters, deadly stakes, and terrible threats looming around the corner. The threats here are far less human than the last story had to offer, but is no less engrossing for it. Fans of Colony will not be disappointed.

Both gave it five stars.

So yeah, Jungle is off to a very strong start, at least in the reactions from the public. Speaking of which, if you’re currently working your way through it, what are your thoughts so far? Predictions for the future? Where are you at? How are you liking it so far? Leave a comment! I’d be interested in knowing what you’re thinking!

So, Jungle is being received well critically. What about as far as sales go? Well, that’s proved interesting so far. Hit the jump for a discussion on sales and interesting trends on display.

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Being a Better Writer: Tension

Welcome back readers! I hope you had a good Thanksgiving weekend! Or, if you’re from a place that doesn’t celebrate that fairly American holiday, a good weekend all the same.

Now, due to the holiday, there isn’t much news to speak of. The only thing I really want to bring up? That later this week (possibly tomorrow) you’re all going to get a post on the success of Jungle so far. And yes, it is a success. How much of one, I’ll leave to the later news post, but I will point out that it’s sitting at five stars on both Amazon and Goodreads so far, which is quite respectable. Given the size of the book, it’s not at all unlikely that more ratings and reviews will trickle in as more people finish it.

Oh, also, apparently you can leave ratings on Amazon now rather than a review? I don’t know what their criteria is for it, but apparently that’s a thing you can do now!

Anyway, Jungle is doing really well, and you’ll all find out how well later this week. For now, I want to talk about tension for this week’s Being a Better Writer, so let’s get right to it!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey readers! I’m getting this post ready beforehand, because when this hits, I’ll be at my brothers place for Thanksgiving, hopefully getting stuffed with Turkey and making a big old bowl of garlic mashed potatoes.

I hope all of you that have the chance are doing something similar and getting ready for a Thanksgiving dinner. This site has global reach and audience (I see those hits coming in from all over) so I know it won’t be everyone, but I hope wherever you are, you’re having a great time.

Lastly, Thanksgiving is a day when, traditionally, we’re supposed to express thanks for what we have. Some people pick something to declare thankfullness for. It can be anything, as long as you’re thankful for it.

So I’m going to say two things. The first is that I’m really thankful I got Jungle out this year. It was a colossal amount of work and a gargantuan effort … but it’s finally out. Colony has the sequel it waited so long to see.

Second, I’m thankful for those readers of this site that have stuck around, shared links, bought books, supported on Patreon, and otherwise interacted with this site in a way that keeps me from being homeless. It’s been a tight year this year, with the only way I’ve made it through quite a few months entirely because of income from my writing. So to all those of you that share these articles on Facebook or Reddit, or enjoy buying and sharing my books, or supporting on Patreon: I am extremely thankful for you guys. I have a roof over my head only because of that aid.

Thank you, and have a great thanksgiving.

And … since you’re here … What are you all thankful for this year?

Don’t Forget Books on Black Friday!

Hey readers! Max here with a small note.

This Thursday is, for a good chunk of people, the Thanksgiving holiday. Me included! But right after it comes one of the biggest, most-hyped shopping days of the year: Black Friday. Or Black Thursday for a lot of places (seriously, Wal-mart is opening at 4 PM on Thursday? What madness is this?).

Anyway, as you wind down from your delicious turkey-induced coma and get ready to start your Christmas shopping, don’t forget about books! They make great Christmas gifts!

Is this a plug for you to think of my books this week while you start your Christmas shopping? Absolutely! It may not seem like much to you, but a gift purchase of one of my books matters a lot to me. And to whoever you give it to.

Plus, I do have a wide variety to peruse. Know someone who likes westerns? Get them Shadow of an Empire. Mystery with a sprinkle of horror or suspense? Dead Silver. Sci-Fi and space battles? Colony. Or Jungle if they already read that. Not a lot of time for reading or a varied interest? Unusual Events.

Fantasy? Shadow of an Empire or Dead Silver. Or Unusual Events. Science and alien worlds? Jungle. Love horses? Shadow of an Empire!

Books are a window into a world. When the last turkey leg has been consumed and the Christmas shopping starts … don’t forget about books for the readers (or would-be readers) in your life.

And if you’d start here, I’d greatly appreciate it.

Being a Better Writer: Detail Versus Audience

Welcome back readers! It’s Monday again, and you know what that means! And if you didn’t, well … Check that title above!

That’s right, it’s time for another installment of Being a Better Writer! Now that the Jungle launch is past us—an event I’m sure some of you are tired of hearing about, but only because you haven’t read it yet—life can settle back down to normal. Until the next launch at least.

But seriously, guys, Jungle is out. There’s no good reason not to have picked up a copy yet! Unless you haven’t read Colony, in which case you’re really behind and what are you waiting for?

Also, don’t forget that the call is open currently for additional Being a Better Writer topics! If there’s something you’ve wanted to hear about that BaBW hasn’t covered, go leave a comment and you might see it covered in the future!

Okay, that’s the news out of the way. Let’s talk writing.

Today’s topic comes from a forum post I saw online. Specifically, from a forum dedicated to talking about Sci-Fi books. A new, would be writer hopped into the forum and asked what seemed like a pretty simple question, which I’ll paraphrase here:

When writing about technology in my Sci-Fi novel, like spaceships, is it important that readers get all the details of how it works and why? Or should I just offer a little bit of info, or almost none, and move on?

You readers want to take a stab at what answers this poor individual got? I’d almost bet that answers here would, statistically, line up with with those given on the forum.

See, this forum was Reddit. So anyone could either upvote or downvote answers that they felt were right or wrong (I mean, in theory it’s “upvote posts that contribute, and downvote ones that don’t” but everyone turns it into a vote anyway). Would you like to guess what the top two answers were?

They were “Yes, give us the details about the ship and tech so we know about it” and “No, we don’t need that detail! Just tell us there’s a ship and move on, we don’t need anything else.”

Uh-oh.

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Being a Better Writer Topic Call!

Hey readers! It’s time! Being a Better Writer is building a new topic list, so while you can, get what you’d like to hear about on it!

That’s right, it’s a topic call! While I get back to work on Axtara (coming along nicely) and watch the first few reviews for Jungle roll in (all positive so far!), I can’t forget that Being a Better Writer, as always, runs every Monday (barring the rare exception) and so will be back after this weekend!

So then … what do you, the readers, want to hear about? What writing topics would you like to see covered? Post what you’d like to hear about in the comments below!

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