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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The Pricing of Axtara – Banking and Finance … in 1994

Here’s a fun one, folks! About two years ago I wrote a post called The Price We Pay – Are Book Prices Too Much? which investigated a (still) common complain that books were needlessly expensive—yes, even indie books—and that the prices needed to return to what many online remembered them being when they were younger, circa 1994.

This post took that declaration to task, examining it, breaking it down, looking at how the industry operated, then using math the readers could verify themselves to show that memory and nostalgia don’t always line up, and then from there showing that a wide range of books—Indie titles especially—are cheaper than ever thanks to advancements in technology.

The post also noted that where that isn’t true, IE where prices are higher it tends to be the big Trad Pubs who have deliberately eschewed modern advances and then as a cherry on top have sent their prices even higher just because they want more money.

To this day, this post remains one of the most popular on the site, collecting a regular daily stream of readers usually arriving from a Google search like “Why are books so expensive?” or the like.

But there was another factor in that post that made it, at least to me, quite memorable. It was when I went and adjusted the (then—tail prices have since taken effect with a few) prices of my own books back to 1994 cash to see what they were worth. And we got these two nifty little charts:

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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!

News and Updates!

Hey readers! Guess what? There’s only ONE WEEK left until the Life, The Universe, and Everything writing convention!

Yeah, that’s headline number-one today. As of today, we’ve only got a week left! Are you ready? I’ve been letting my brain boil over my panel topics, as well as making sure I’ve got a working setup to stream myself live. In fact, I’m considering doing a test run over Discord to see how my mic holds up, maybe a sort of live Q&A in place of next week’s Being a Better Writer, just to see how it goes. I’ve got a decent mic and headset, but I could also borrow a better one if needed. And I should have a decent webcam, but again, I could perhaps get a better one working. We’ll see. Look here for further updates. Point is, LTUE is coming and I’m excited! Are you?

Next up, let’s talk about Axtara! So the ebook has been out for over a month now, and the paperback a little over a week. How has everyone been finding it so far?

Spectacular. Okay, that’s my own reaction to the public’s reaction, but I’ve got those too. Reviews have started to roll in from a wide range of sources, and so far they have all loved meeting Axtara and getting to know her and her world. For example, we’ve got this bit from a review from a reader on Goodreads—

… Florschutz hit it out of the park with “Axtara–Banking and Finance.” … Regardless of whether you have a mathematical mind, I would highly recommend “Axtara–Banking and Finance”, and if the author is considering making a sequel, I would definitely look forward to picking it up. 

—or from this review on Amazon—

I’ll admit I was drawn to this book by the cover and the tittle, I mean a dragon banker, how could I not check this out? And this book delivers with laughter and intrigue … everything you could ask from such a book. 10/10.

—or this one—

… I loved it … it does leave it open for a sequel too, and I hope that there is one – or more – eventually!

—or this one—

I’ll give a try on kindle unlimited to most any book with a dragon as the protagonist, but I quite liked this one enough to leave a good review. I was particularly interested in the entrepreneurial elements as Axtara works to establish her bank. Axtara’s focus on reaching break-even point shows the author did their research here, and the business side seems well grounded and interesting. The fantasy setting was a lot of fun seeing how business would work there, and had some interesting hints as to other things yet to be discovered in the world (I’d definitely read a sequel …)

—that all seem pretty certain that they love Axtara and can’t wait to see more! And yes, there will be a sequel. I already knew the basics of the plot before Axtara was even halfway finished, and it’ll come along in due time. There also will be, and has been, more in the same setting (A Game of Stakes, my short in A Dragon and Her Girl, takes place in the same setting but a few decades earlier, while the as-yet-unpublished Trial for a Dragon stars Axtara’s older sibling Ryax).

But that isn’t the only feedback I’ve had from people regarding Axtara either. I’ve got two others I’ll share with you guys, though not in direct quotes. I’ve been told via Facebook by several people that their teenaged (or near it) daughters have been reading Axtara.

The ultimate test, as that is the intended audience. And …?

Well, in the words of one parent, and I quote, “She loves it!” Which has been the response from the other parents that have told me about their kid’s experience. Axtara, it would seem, is indeed a winner!

Oh, but that’s not all. Behold the following picture! It’s beyond the jump, since this post was getting long.

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Axtara – Banking and Finance Now Available in Paperback!

It’s here!

Dragons. Princesses. Banking. Now in dead-tree format!

Ladies and gentlemen, guests and readers of all species … The time has finally come. You can now order your own paperback copy of Axtara – Banking and Finance! That’s right, the day has finally arrived! Axtara is here in print-bound, dead tree form that you can order and hold for yourself in your own two hands! Or three, or four, or whatever appendages you may use for such a purpose.

But that’s beside the point. The point is that you can now purchase your own copy of Axtara – Banking and Finance in a lovely paperback edition to grace your bookshelf! Or display on your living room table. Or get signed by the author at a con (you know, once this whole Covid-19 thing is over). Or … well, whatever you want to do with it! It’s yours!

So where can you acquire this wonderful title? Simple! You can just click any of the numerous links to Axtara across the site (there’s one currently to your right, or just use the books tab) and then, once on Amazon, select the paperback option! Axtara is available in a wide array of countries too, so if you’re not in the US, don’t fret!

What if you don’t use Amazon? Well … you’re not actually out of luck. Axtara is available for expanded distribution. While I don’t know how long it takes for things to wend their way to the right place, this means that your local bookstore should be able to order a copy … or even your local library! Strapped for cash but still want to get your hands on a copy? Go make a request for it at your local library and share it with everyone who uses it!

So hit up a link, phone your bookstore or your local librarian, whatever you need to do. But then sit back, wait for that package to arrive … and curl up with a tale of dragons, princesses, and most of all, banking and finance.

Enjoy, everyone. Enjoy!

Axtara Paperback Not Yet Available Due to Amazon Issues

Hey readers! Max here with a quick update. I know I anticipated the paperback for Axtara – Banking and Finance being available today, but alas, it is not. Why? Well … therein lies a bit of a story. Mostly because once again, Amazon went cheap, and that’s created problems.

See, Amazon has a bunch of tools you need to satisfy in order to print a book. Straightforward enough … save that one of them is, well … a little broken. To be specific, their cover program.

See, Amazon provides a template for you to build a cover to. You make it a layer, stick everything within the lines of “everything past here will be cut” and call it good.

Except you don’t. Their program is a little … buggy. Because while it asks for stuff to extend past that trim edge of that template, actually doing so will often result in the program you upload the final cover to resizing your image if it has. Which then means that the cover image may be well inside the trim lines and you have a problem.

Basically? The first time I got the cover past Amazon’s program, I “cheated” and tricked it by doing some manual transforms combined with expanded background layers as a border. The result was the cover I got on the print proof, which looked fantastic.

But apparently, in trying to get that approved for publication, someone over at Amazon noticed that their program was being tricked and rejected it. Hence why it didn’t go up this morning, even though, as I’ll point out again, it worked and the print proof looked great (in fact, a quick Google showed a number of other authors use the same “border trick” to beat Amazon’s cover program, so this is a common thing).

I resubmitted it (and lodged a stern complaint with KDP via e-mail about the shoddiness of their cover program and its resizing issues. With luck, it’ll go through, Axtara will be in flight, if not by the end of the day, then sometime tomorrow.

NEWS! Both the Axtara Paperback and Life, The Universe, and Everything 2021 are Almost Here!

Hey readers! Max here with a quick news update for all of you! One that’s about to deliver some truth to the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Are you ready? Here you go!

Eh? Eh? Take a look at that! That’s right, the print proof for Axtara – Banking and Finance has arrived! And it looks even better in person than it does in these blurry photos (I’m an author, not a photographer as you can plainly tell).

So, what’s next? Well, I’ve already spotted a few minor tweaks I’m going to make before letting it go live. The inner margin feels a little cramped, so I’m going to widen that up, and there’s a page near the back that’s on the wrong side of the paper. All easy fixes. I’ll be going through it this weekend, make the changes Monday and … well, yeah, unless I find a major problem, Monday paperback orders for Axtara – Banking and Finance will go live!

Something to look forward to, no? Now, in other important news … did you guys realize that Life, The Universe, and Everything 2021 is only three weeks away?

Yes, you read that correctly! It’s in February … and we’re almost done with January. Time flies, doesn’t it? But in case you were wondering, yes LTUE is still happening this year, and yes you can register for it now. However, this year it will be all online, in light of Covid-19. No travel. Just you and an internet connection.

Anyway, I’ll be posting more about LTUE 2021 as it nears. For now, I just wanted to alert you readers that it is coming, and quickly!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a paperback to read.

The Axtara Print Proof is on its way!

Readers! I have fantastic news! The print proof for Axtara – Banking and Finance will be in my hands this weekend!

Yup! It’s ordered and on its way! Which means that I can finally give you guys some solid details! Like, for example, when it might go up for sale.

Yes, I said “might” there. There’s a catch. I’m getting the proof. IE the copy that I have to go through checking for any print mistakes or problems. So hey, I get to read through my book again! This time on paper! If there are errors, like the cover not being trimmer properly or the text being cut off, missing pages, etc etc etc, then I need to track down the source of the issue and fix it, which will mean another proof order.

However, if all is well and I’ve done my job properly, all I have to do is click a button … and Axtara as a trade paperback will be live!

Yes, there will be a post announcing such the moment it happens. But yes, this means that come Monday (or Tuesday), you’ll very likely be able to order a your own hard copy paperback of Axtara – Banking and Finance! As will bookstores, so it’ll be interesting to me to see what happens there. This means that if you don’t have access to Amazon, or want to support your local indie bookstore, they’ll be able to order a copy of Axtara for you and yes, I will still get paid.

For that matter, you’ll also be able to ask your local library to pick up copies of Axtara as well, and they’ll be able to do the same. So if you have no money but a library card, ask your library to grab a copy once it goes live! They’ll be able to!

Now, that’s pretty much it! Oh! Pricing. Yeah, so the final price is $11.99. The final page tally? A little over 300. The cover? Glossy (I can’t wait to see it). I’ll post some pictures for you all to see when it arrives.

So get hyped! We’re only a few days away!

One Week of Axtara!

Hello readers! Max here with a news post about … Well, what else? Axtara – Banking and Finance of course! It’s been one week since Axtara‘s release … so I thought I’d hop on and share with all of you how the book has been doing! As well as drop some other news and then the Axtara background images (yes, at last)!

So, how is Axtara – Banking and Finance performing right now? What’s the reception by the general public? Well … it’s great! Axtara beat Jungle for pre-orders and actually ended up matching Shadow of an Empire, and since release has enjoyed strong sales that have continued to accrue. Before launch, it even made it into the top fifty on Amazon in YA Fantasy for Women! And it’s actually stayed fairly high in that category too!

Of course, this has likely been aided by the strong reaction to the book from the general public. In just seven days Axtara picked up six reviews and ratings from the reading public … all of them Five-Star.

That is an excellent start, if I do say so myself. It would seem that many of you love Axtara as much as I’d hoped you would! If you’ve already grabbed your copy, I hope to see your reaction on Goodreads or Amazon, and if you haven’t yet well … think about it! And maybe click that book cover on the right!

Now, I did say I had a little bit of news. It’s related to Axtara and it’s a bit of an “oops” on my part. Some of you may notice that the prices for Jungle and Shadow of an Empire haven’t dropped yet as promised. And well … that’s because I goofed. I went ahead and put everything on the Christmas Sale to coincide with the Axtara release … and I’m not supposed to alter prices for 14 days after a sale has ended. Whoops. So for now, Jungle and Shadow of an Empire will stay at their current price … but only until that period has elapsed, at which point they’ll drop down to their tail prices. Shadow to its final price point, Jungle to the first step.

Now, about those backgrounds I promised? I’m going to put it past the jump, but yes, here you are. Each of these images will take you to a 4K, full image of the cover for Axtara – Banking and Finance, one with text, the other without, perfect for gracing the background of your desktop or laptop machine. Enjoy, and then don’t forget to pick up a copy of the book!

Images after the jump, and will also now be linked on the Books page.

Have a happy New Year everyone! And a big thank you to all of you that have picked up and enjoyed Axtara!

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