You Might Want to Read … Bullshit Jobs

So this post isn’t quite a “Why You Should Read …” but at the same time, I did want to throw this book out for consideration.

You might have hear of it. Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber is the eventual path taken by an essay written in the early 2010s that you might have heard of. Specifically because it set the internet on fire for a time, prompting everyone from national news chains to CEOs and middle managers everywhere (unsurprisingly, given the context) to descend upon the small web-host that carried it, crashing it numerous times.

You can still read the original essay on that same site, in fact, and it’s reproduced in the opening chapter of the book. And it still argues the same thing: That many of the jobs embraced by modern America are, in fact (and understand I’m using the author’s terms here), bullshit. They’re pointless jobs that serve no real purpose, to the degree that if those “working” them were to secretly vanish, no one would notice.

Surprised? Well, the author actually posts several examples of people doing just that, including one “highly important” individual who, after the company attempted to give them an award for not missing a day in eight years of work, was discovered to have not even shown up at the building nor done any work in over six years, and in fact was out of the country on yet another vacation, collecting a paycheck for a pointless job with no other requirement than “make the people above you feel important.”

Which in short is the entire phenomenon the book examines. It doesn’t present a theory that these jobs exist: Rather it demonstrates that they do exist, are a staggeringly large part of the American working world, and then asks the question “Why?” Positing that a job might be pointless is fairly subjective. Proving that one is pointless is very doable. Bullshit Jobs points out that they do exist, and in large numbers, something acknowledged both by those working them and the companies employing those positions themselves. It then goes on to ask “Why?”

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Shadow of an Empire Now Available in Paperback

Fantastic news, everyone! Shadow of an Empire is now available in paperback!

That’s right! The epic wild-west fantasy adventure is now available in dead tree. Weighing in at two-point-three pounds, this titanic tome of magic, gunplay, and steam is now suitable for adorning your shelf or coffee table at home. Or functioning as a dedicated thrown deterrent, though no guarantees are made for the durability of the book if used in this manner.

But what more do you really need to know? Shadow of an Empire, the desert-spanning fantasy adventure, is now in a format you can’t fall asleep while holding. Because it’ll land in your face or on your foot and it’s two pounds, people. That, and those of you that have read this one know you’re not going to be sleeping during its journey anyway. Block off your calendars, readers. You finish these 618 pages (that’s pure story, mind) in as few sittings as possible.

New to Shadow of an Empire (or indeed, the site itself)? You can read a free preview of the first few chapters right here, right now, in your browser. Just hit this link!

Love it, but short on cash? Fear not! Shadow of an Empire‘s ebook version (updated with this launch to V1.1) is still $3.99. But if you still desire to hold the weight of the paperback in your hands, Shadow of an Empire is available for expanded distribution! Want to support your local bookstore? They can order you a copy! Or better yet, you can request that your local library add it to their shelves, allowing not just you but a whole plethora of readers to discover the world of the Indrim Empire for the first time.

Basically, there are a lot of great options for getting your hands on Shadow of an Empire with this release. Or a multitude of hands.

So tell you friends, your library, your book club, your bookstore, even your pets. And enjoy your stay in Indrim.

Welcome to Shadow of an Empire.

Updates and Reminders for the Weekend!

Hey folks! You know, I debated on doing a more traditional post for the weekend, like an OP-ED or the like, but honestly? Instead I sat down and finished reading the Shadow of an Empire proof. Sands and Storms is that a ripping tale!

In addition, the proof was almost perfect. I’ve got a few minor changes to make this weekend or Monday, but all in all it’s largely ready to go. Just need to make a few minor adjustments, and it’ll be ready for launch.

You know what that means, don’t you? That’s right: Shadow of an Empire will be available in paperback form next week! And yes, this means that it most certainly will be a topic for Monday’s live Being a Better Writer Q&A. If you wanted to ask questions about getting a book ready for paperback print and what that entails, this Monday would be the proper time.

Which brings me to the next topic, a reminder that this coming Monday will not feature the standard Being a Better Writer article posting (outside of a link to a classic article), but instead be a live Q&A session with you readers using Discord to post questions which will be answered live via an audio stream. We’ve done a couple of these so far over on The Makalay Camp, the site’s official Discord server and they’ve been pretty successful. If a little light sometimes on viewers, since finding the right time for everyone is tricky. This coming week we’ll be holding it at a later hour: 5 PM MST. That’s Mountain Standard Time, so if you live east or west of that and want to participate, use Google or some other method (math?) to find out what time that would be for you, and then use your computer or your phone to join the site’s official Discord server! Come with questions!

As to how to get on the Discord server, there will be a link provided Monday morning in lieu of the usual BaBW post that will allow admission to the server for those who’ve not joined it before. Bring writing questions! After the Q&A is over, you can leave the server or stay part of it in order to chat or just gain occasional glimmers of news that seep through its channels.

With that, I believe I’m out of news! Have a good weekend everyone, and get ready for both the Q&A and the chance to hold your own paperback copy of Shadow of an Empire in your hands!

Shadow of an Empire: The Paperback Price Poll

Hello readers! I come to you today with news! And also, with a question.

The news, first. But those of you tempted to skip it, don’t. The question is tied deeply into it, and I would prefer feedback from you, the readers.

So the news: Shadow of an Empire is almost available in print. The proof has been ordered! That’s right. At long last, those of you who loved your sun-soaked journey across the desert Outlands of Indrim will be able to order a paperback copy to sit on your nightstand or coffee table!

Now, this is a chonky boy of a book. At the same trade size as Axtara – Banking and Finance, Shadow of an Empire has smaller text and is still twice as thick. It’s gonna be a hefty volume (and this isn’t even my longest work by far). But as you might expect, this comes with a catch.

See, the print cost is more than double what Axtara‘s is as a result. And when combined with expanded distribution that allows it to show up in bookstores, libraries, etc, that means that the price point for Shadow of an Empire‘s paperback is … significant.

How significant, you might ask? Well, for it to be available in bookstores, libraries, etc, the prices needs to be … $21.99.

Yeah. For a paperback. A good quality one, if Axtara‘s paperback quality is anything to go by, but … yeah, still high. Granted, it’s not too much higher than most similarly sized paperback books of similar quality. Dune is what, 500 pages and that’s retailing at $17.99 or so right now.

But here’s the thing. If I don’t allow for expanded distribution, IE, no libraries, bookstores, etc … then that cut doesn’t exist, and the price could be $15.99 … a full six dollars less.

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It’s Done: Starforge’s Draft is Complete

I mean … what else do I need to say. Guys, it’s done. Just minutes ago, I jumped to a new page and typed out the final, pivotal words of a Sci-Fi trilogy that I can now accurately say stretches almost 1.3 million words in total. Those words?

THE END

Sands and storms, readers. Sands and storms. I feel drained. But at the same time, I feel like a weight the size of a planet (or maybe a whole universe) has left my shoulders.

It’s done.

I feel like I’m going to go for a nice bike ride while just … melting. That’s a good word for it.

Okay, so let me drop some numbers at you all. The project started (loosely, since the early weeks were spent also getting Axtara out) at the end of October/start of November 2020. The final wordcount? 502,800 and some change. At the end of July. So that’s half a million words written in about nine months, give or take a week.

Not bad at all, if I do say so myself. Bear in mind if you try to do a “daily average” breakdown, I don’t work Sundays, or all but a few Saturdays. Monday-Friday.

Let me see, more data. Thirty-six chapters, plus prologue, epilogue, and some interludes. A whole lot of deaths (fictional). Dozens of life-threatening situations. Trillions of US dollars in spaceships destroyed. Uncountable headaches.

And it’s done.

Now if you’ll all excuse me, I’m going to collapse.

Next Week

Hey folks. Do you know what happens next week?

After months of work, I get to close the draft for Starforge. Because today? Today I was working on the epilogue. That’s right. The last chapter is over and done. The final battle, from start to finish (and I count start as the moment it engages, not the prelude) weighed in at 68,000 words. The draft right now is sitting at about 493,000 words.

And it’s almost done. Which … is good. I’ve barely done anything but write, exercise, and then relax these last few weeks. Starforge has taken over almost everything. Including the usual posts on the site, save Being a Better Writer.

But it’s been worth it. Monday, maybe Tuesday … Starforge will be done. I’m writing the closing moments. The characters are taking their bows. The last few bits and pieces are being wrapped up in an ending that, hopefully, feels earned.

And I am tired. My brain feels worn out. This draft is almost half a million words, and I wrote it in less time than it took to write Jungle. I’m really looking forward to taking a break for a few days and then writing an non-UNSEC story for a bit.

But it’s basically there. Sands, I might just finish it tomorrow and sacrifice the weekend just to be done.

Because it’ll be worth it.

So again, sorry for the lack of other posts this week. But this titan is almost done.

Quick Weekend Update

Hey folks! I know, I know, you haven’t heard much from me lately. This week saw a Being a Better Writer post on Saturday, and that was it until now. But … I’ve had good reason.

Starforge is in the last five percent. Yes. It’s that close. So I’ve been just a little occupied. There’s a chance that maybe even next week it might be done. I’d be pumping out a lot of words a day, but there’s still a chance.

Speaking of words, the draft is now over 450,000. Definitely Jungle size. Again, this is pre-polish before editing, so there’s a chance things might shift and change, but right now it’s a bit of a titan. A titan that’s kind of consuming my every waking thought because, well, ending!

However, it’s not the only thing I’ve got a bit of news on. Weekends I usually don’t write on primary projects, working on smaller things or side jobs (plus taking a bit of time to myself for things like laundry, house cleaning, etc). This weekend? Finishing off formatting for the paperback edition of Shadow of an Empire!

Yup! It’s done following several hours of work today. Well, save the cover, which is the next step. Cover’s made, you all know (and glorious, as those of you with the 4K wallpaper can attest) but needs to be positioned, have the spine and back text put together, etc. All stuff I did for Axtara, so at least it won’t be quite such a trial and error step by step this time. In fact, I put together a good start at it already, and so the project is in motion.

Get that done next Saturday, and I can order the proof. After which … Well, sales can go live. So yeah, looking at end of this month, or maybe August perhaps? Rest assured, you’ll know as soon as it’s up for pre-order/sale. And that day is close!

I’ll share some more details as things develop. For now, have a good weekend all!

Independence Day Sale!

Hello readers! This weekend, those of us in America will be celebrating the United States’ Independence Day. A commemoration of the Continental Congress’ passage of the Declaration of Independence. An event which would shake a whole lot of baskets across the Atlantic, and lead to … Well, today.

Every nation has an independence day (even if they don’t celebrate them?) and the United States loves the one it has. July 5th will be a holiday for many of us, and many are spending the weekend grilling and lighting off fireworks (where appropriate, mind).

But it got me thinking. With Starforge on the way, why not add a little extra “oomph” to some weekends, and have an Independence Day sale. Well, not just a sale because, well you see …

Colony is free to grab, no strings attached, July 3rd and 4th.

Yeah, that’s right. Free. I figured a story about a planet of people fighting for independence whose own leader has seen fit to model their goals and aims after George Washington and the American Revolution … Well, it deserved that nod.

So yes, Colony is free this weekend. If you grab it on the 3rd or 4th, you’ll be able to kick back and relax with the book in your hands on the 5th! Or whenever you’ve got free time. This is a limited offer, so grab it while you can!

Of course, once you have one book in the UNSEC trilogy, you might want to grab the second. Especially if you’re one of the many that finish Colony in a single sitting.

But even if you aren’t, and plan on taking your time, why not pick up the second book in the series while you’re at it? Because after all, it’s on sale as well. That’s right. You can grab the first book in the trilogy free of charge, find out exactly why it’s rated so highly … then come off of that rollercoaster ride to grab the second at a discount.

Sadly, the third and final volume is still in development, so you can’t purchase it yet … But with Colony and Jungle in your posession, you’ll be ready for the third and final installment when it launches!


Naturally now, why stop there? If one book is free, and another on sale … well … why not put even more on sale? If you rummage around my books page, you’ll find that more that just Colony and Jungle are up for grabs. Shadow of an Empire, the wild west fantasy adventure and another fitting candidate for an Independence Day celebration, has been discounted. And One Drink and Dead Silver, my first two books, are also free.

Or will be, rather. So mark your calendars! That’s three books for free, and two at a discount! At which point grabbing the whole rest of my library wouldn’t really set you back much!


So, if you’re in the US, enjoy your Independence Day. But if not, or in the meantime … grab a book, and celebrate some freedom.

Unexpected Sick Day (and Other News)

So today, my expected plan was to get up, climb out of bed, write a quick news post, and then get back to work on Starforge, which I’ve got awesome news about below. I was all ready to go.

And then last night my throat started to feel off. Which, combined with what I’m pretty sure is a tension headache, led to this morning, or rather, today I noon, when I woke up at 12:30 with my throat saying “Yup, it’s a biological war in there.” I’m tired, and a little achy, and feel like one of my sinuses is having some issues. This might have had something to do with my insistence on biking outside despite the 100+ degree heatwave we’re under pushing me past a healthy edge, but … Anyway.

So … today might be a sick day. I seem to be writing in a somewhat readable form here, so I still may give it a shot, because I need to get this story done, but I’m not quite foolish enough to think that I shouldn’t watch things carefully, and if it’s not looking good, stop for the day and rest.


Which is a shame, because yesterday I did some calculations, and Starforge is only six or seven chapters from THE END. That’s right, the draft is almost done. Now, these are going to be decently lengthy chapters, I expect, as there’s a lot going on, but …

Yeah, rejoice! The end is almost here! I mean, it’ll still be a while yet before the last book of the trilogy is out, but the first draft is almost done!

It’s going to be another titan, too. Right now, the current draft is 424,000 words long. Given that there are still a few lengthy chapters to go, the first draft will likely end up around the same length as Jungle. Editing may change that, but that’s what it’s looking like right now.

Plus today … Oh today was going to be awesome. Fleet engagements, twists that were foreshadowed a whole book ago, chaos and explosions as spaceships blow one another into smoldering, atmo-venting wrecks … Yeah, it was going to be neat.

I hope I can get some of that done today, but … Bleh. Even this is making me feel more off.

On the plus side, I’m only 11,000 words shy of my monthly quota. I have been tearing it up the last few weeks. So having a day off wouldn’t be that bad an impact on my progress.

I was just really looking forward to smashing these fleets together, you know?


All right, so that’s the Starforge news. In other news, I screwed up the Patreon Supporter vote, so there’s still another week to go with that one. Oops. Those supporters who haven’t voted yet, there’s still a chance!

Oh, and both Colony and Axtara were the recipients of a couple of new five-star reviews this last weekend! Glad to see them still garnering awesomely positive attention! Now, if they could get even more of it …

Bleh. I’m going to go write about spaceships hitting other spaceships (maybe literally, maybe not), or at least try to. Wish me luck, leave a review for Colony or Axtara if you haven’t yet, and stay cool and healthy in this shimmering heat-wave we’ve got going!

Returned From Afar – Happy Memorial Day!

Hello readers! Guess who’s back?

Well, you don’t really have to. After all, this is a new post, not scheduled in any way! So it’s not much of a guess that I am back from my vacation.

And hoo-boy did I need it. I hadn’t realized exactly how stressed and overworked I’d become in the last few years of working with very few breaks. The first few days of my trip, I felt like my mind was one of those crazy metal puzzles with all the rings, but one that had been handed to someone after being passed to an overactive toddler and really bent into an odd shape. Over the last week, it’s gradually relaxed and fallen back into shape, unclenching into something a bit more recognizable.

Basically, five years without a real vacation was a little too much. Even during Christmas and other breaks I spent a lot of days running the site, writing other projects, planning … This vacation was the first time in years were I made a point of not even thinking about writing for the first few days. Complete disconnect.

Sands and storms did I need that.

Now I’m back! Relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to once again to get back to work. Step one? Finishing Starforge. The last quarter is ready to explode into the finale, and I’m ready to write it.

Now, normally this would be the point were I dive into Being a Better Writer, since this is Monday. However, today is also a big holiday in the United States. Memorial Day, when we honor and remember all the fallen warriors that have given their lives in defense of this country. As in keeping with tradition, there will not be an installment of Being a Better Writer today.

However, as I have just come back from an extended break, I will be posting a shorter one tomorrow. So there’s that to look forward to.

Well, that and this awesome picture I took on my vacation. Are you ready? Check this out:

You see it? Right in the upper left-hand corner of the display? That is Axtara – Banking and Finance, proudly on display in my hometown’s library next to Dave Pilkey and a Wings of Fire book.

And yes, I signed it.

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