A Big Post – News and News

I know I’ve been pretty quiet this week. I’ve been focused.

But before I say anything else. Before I talk about book news or any of the other tidbits I want to touch on today, I want to say one thing.

Thank you to everyone who left a supportive comment last week. They may not have seemed like much to you, but they gave me some piece of mind. I still don’t know if the current opening chapters of Starforge will stay the way they are by the end, but I know a lot of you were just happy to hear that I’m working my best on it and wanted to remind me of that.

So thank you. Your words of support helped ease my mind quite a bit, and I appreciated them greatly.

Tying into that, many of you will be glad to hear that I continued to press foward, and Starforge‘s first draft now sits at 123,156 words! Part one is complete, the interlude is written, and today I get to start on part two! Where things will blow up, characters will die, and … Well, I’ve already said too much. But I’m glad for all your support, and I’m working hard to make this the biggest, baddest, most jaw-dropping finale you could ask for.

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Being a Better Writer: The Expectation of Instant Success

I’ll lead with a fun fact: This post was originally going to be an OP-ED last week, until I was barely into writing it and already switching into “and here’s how this comes up in writing,” at which point I realized that this was becoming a Being a Better Writer post despite what I had originally presumed about it. So it shifted over to the Topic List, and today … Well, you can clear see.

All right, so we’re diving in without a preamble: What on Earth—or whatever world you happen to be reading this on—is this all about? Most of you reading the title are probably going to guess that it’s going to be addressing the creator, and be about “tempering expectations.” And it’s not. We’ll address that briefly, but instead this post is going to be coming from a slightly different direction: that of the public.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. Let’s start at the beginning. Or rather, what the public often sees as the beginning: The publishing of the first book.

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It’s Official: Starforge is the Most Stressful Thing I’ve Ever Written

All right, readers. It’s time to come clean. Last night, as I lay trying to sleep at around 4 AM, my mind whirling with questions and maybes and possibilities concerning Starforge, I realized something.

Starforge is officially the most stress-inducing project I’ve worked on in a long time.

Perhaps being kept up until hours like 5 AM thinking “Maybe I need to start over. Redo the entire opening like this?” should be taken as a massive clue.

For the record I’ve not restarted the entire opening. Though … yeah, even at 100,000 words in, I’ve considered completely redoing it from another angle. More than once. Technically I’ve already done it too; earlier in the project I cut 20,000 words and started the opening in a completely different way.

This project is stressing me out.

Why? Well, it’s pretty simple. Starforge is the finale of a trilogy. There are two books before it, both really well received and loved by a lot of people. Further still, those who have read the sequel have ranked it better than the first book, even as it drove things forward toward a finale. So the trend is now I have to deliver a finale that’s the apex of all three, tie everything up, keep everything from almost a million words of prior content straight, reference it, use it …

Yeah … starting to see how I might be a little stressed out? And of course, stress like that makes it harder to work (lack of sleep, etc) which has made me more concerned that the final product could be below the bar, which leads to more stress, which …

Yup. It’s self-enforcing at this point. The worst part is, I’m not quite sure what to do outside of trust my instincts (I had lighter versions of this for previous works and they turned out all right) and keep working forward.

Starforge has to be the best thing I’ve written to date. Full stop. If that means rewriting almost 100,000 words of it, then so be it. That’s only two months worth of work. This is the big finale. The end. Everything the prior two books led up to comes to a head here. This is it.

I can’t stop. One way or another Starforge is going to release. And it will be the next book I release after Axtara. But it has to be the best thing I’ve written. Every bit of character I’ve built up so far, every nuance, every bit of development. All of it needs to peak here.

I’m just praying I can pull this off.

Anyway, I’m about to dive back into it. Wish me luck, folks. This is the mountain of mountains thus far in my career, and that peak has got a lot of obstacles on it.

Now if I could just get some sleep …

Being a Better Writer: Keeping Character Voice Consistent

Welcome back readers! I hope you all had a decently uplifting weekend? I spent mine largely asleep, fighting off a bug that thankfully did not show a large amount of signs of being Covid (but kept me indoors anyways because I was asleep and hey, just in case). In any case, I hope your weekends were a bit more lively and/or successful.

Now, after a week’s break, I’m sure some of you were wondering what sort of topic we’d be covering upon returning once more. Well, today you find out that answer. Combing over the new list (which is, admittedly, still being built) for a topic today, the one I’ve chosen is … Well, you can see the title a bit.

I’m sure some of you are wondering why I picked this topic, and, well … It has to do with something I saw someone else speaking out over the last few weeks. It was a few weeks ago, but I ran into an online discussion where character voice consistency (and a lack of it) were being discussed at length. Then again just this last weekend during the LTUE Mini-con (Did you attend? How was it?) the topic came up again, this time in a small discussion about editing and this being something to watch for.

So yeah, when I looked down at the list again this morning, this seemed like a solid topic to choose for the first reappearance after such a lengthy, one-week break.

Enough background. Let’s get down to it. Let’s talk about keeping our characters’ voices consistent.

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Reminder: LTUE Online Event Tonight!

Heads up people! Don’t forget that there’s an LTUE online mini-event starting tonight at 6 PM Mountain Standard Time! There are three different panels running at each hour until nine under a variety of topics, so check it out!

In fact, I’ve got a handy sheet of the topics available, provided by the event! So here’s what’s coming!

To join, just head on over to https://ltue.net/october2020 and be sure to have Discord at the ready (which can be run through your browser, so no worries there about needing to install something). Find a panel you like, and hope to see you there!

OP-ED: Opinion and Reality

Fair warning from the start: This post is going to address that beast, politics, and talk about it a little. Probably not in the way most of you expect, but it is going to address it. So fair warning, this might be messy. But I’m pulling no punches and diving right in.

The last few months have reminded me of an experience I once had a little over a decade ago. I collect cool background images for my PC, and from a variety of sources. Photographs of national parks, neat images from video-games I’ve played, whatever. That mix and combination, however, lead to a very interesting exchange.

I had a visitor over who, through one means or another had noticed my rotating backgrounds, and commented on them and how nice they looked. At the moment, the background in question had been showing a very artistic photograph of Hamburg, Germany. I nodded, agreeing, and then noted that it almost made me want to visit and see the city someday.

At which point, this individual did something very unexpected and unusual. They shook their head sadly and said “Oh sure, that’d be nice, but it’s not a real place.”

Stunned and slightly perplexed, I replied that it was indeed very real. Hamburg, Germany was a city on a map.

At this point things took a swift turn sideways. This individual, who up until this point I had assumed was a rational, thinking human being, shook their head and with a sad, patronizing tone said ‘Oh no, it’s not hun. You just think it is because of all those video games you play. You’ve lost touch with reality. You think these imaginary places are real.’

After a moment’s pure shocked disbelief, I replied that I knew very well the difference between fantasy and reality, and replied that Hamburg, Germany was a very real place.

Their response? They shook their head, told me how sad it was that playing video games had messed with my head so much, and hoped that one day I would realize the difference between fantasy and reality.

To this day I wonder if that individual ever realized exactly how crazy they sounded.

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Axtara Progress Update!

Yes, I know, I’ve been quite silent this week. Don’t worry. It’s because I’ve been busy with Axtara!

The copy-edit for digital is almost done. Tomorrow I should be able to finalize it. At which point all I need for the digital release is the cover.

Which means that yes, I am planning (cover pending) on having the digital release be this month, the physical one in December. Still haven’t settled on a price yet for the digital version, but I’m thinking $3.99, since it is a normal-sized book instead of one of my usual titans.

Anyway, I know this post isn’t much. I’ll try to have a more substantial post later this week. Oh, and by the way, don’t forget that Being a Better Writer is currently open for suggestions for topics for List #16. If there’s a topic you want to see Being a Better Writer cover, let us all know about it!

Anyway, hope you’re all staying hale and healthy! Max out!

Being a Better Writer Topic Call Ongoing!

Surprise!

Yeah, I’m taking this Monday off. From Being a Better Writer. For three reasons.

One, it’s been a while, and a break sounds kind of nice. I churn these out almost every Monday without fail, year round save the occasional holiday, so yeah, a break actually sounds kind of nice. If you’re still itching to read something BaBW today, I’d say hit that search bar on the side and find one of the hundreds already up!

Or, you can participate in the second reason there’s a break today and suggest a topic in the comments! See, I keep an actual physical list sitting on my desk, checking topics off one by one, and right now, Topic List #15 is done for and #16 is being populated. Not just with topics I’ve come up with, but with suggestions from you!

So you can hit up the comments and leave suggestions about a topic or topics that you’d like to read about! Let’s populate the list!

Third reason? Because that leaves me more time to work on the Copy-Edit for Axtara – Banking and Finance, which I would like to get a lot done on today. The sooner it’s done, the closer it is to being published, so … I’ve got a lot of reading to do today!

All right, that’s it! So, one, taking a break. Two, your topic suggestions for Being a Better Writer are requested! And third, Copy-Edits on Axtara!

Hmm, I suppose there’s a fourth here. If you’re a Patreon Supporter, there will be a supporter update today. If you’ve been following the last few, you can probably guess what it is! Head on over to Patreon to check it out!

Now fill the comments with topics!

News: Axtara and a Mini-LTUE

Great news! Beta 1 for Axtara is done! And yeah, as a reader said, it was impressively clean. But not perfect. There were some typos and errors fixed, and a few aggressive searches to hunt down really pervasive and hard-to-catch issues, but at the same time … it was remarkedly clean.

No, this doesn’t mean it’s up for pre-order yet. I’m trying to get the cover first so that there’s something to show. Today will be that (if I hear from the artist) and moving into copy-edit.

With that comes something I’m sure most of you are wondering about: Release dates.

So here’s the thing: November is dead. Save maybe at the tail-end.

Why? Well, two reasons. One is that Brandon Sanderson is releasing a new book in November. That’s like a giant that crushes all other news of books, and for those people who buy one book a month, a dedicated sale. Two: It’s an election month, and politics kill book sales. You can actually see the debates, political movements, etc in a bar graph of my book sales. Something political happens … no one is thinking about books.

And yes, I know I launched Colony in November of 2016. I’ve also been told that while the sales were good for me, they were also a lot lower than they should have been because there was an election that month.

So I’d like to avoid November if at all possible. If that’s possible.

Which means what? October? December? Well, if I get the art ball rolling and have a cover in the next week or two, I can open pre-orders, and Axtara will be out before the end of the month. Digitally, at least.

Okay, let me clarify on that. So I’ve already said I expect Axtara to be a print release as well as digital. Don’t worry, that hasn’t changed. What I’m not sure it will be is a simultaneous release.

See, I’ve not done a print book before (something about a print book only being able to be so many pages and most of my titans eclipsing that for now). But I do know a bit about the process and it does still require some extra time the digital edition does not. A digital release is one where I can make instant changes, then drop the title onto my reader and see immediately if everything is working or not.

With a print run, I can’t quite do that. I have to order a sample, wait for it to arrive, and then go through and check to see that everything has held up. I can do a lot of digital work beforehand to minimize the chance of an issue, but the chance is still there.

So depending on how the next few weeks go, it may be that the Ebook version of Axtara drops at the end of October, while the hard copy drops in December.

Maybe not. Some of these tools are new to me, so we’ll see. Also, a lot depends on when I can get finished cover art.

But tentatively hope for Axtara in October!

Now, one more bit of news for after the jump. But a juicy one. News regarding an online Mini-LTUE. On October tenth.

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