Stuck at the Dock: An Update

Well, this is certainly a thing that has happened.

So folks, you may be wondering “Hey, what’s this? A post?” Yes indeedy. “Am I back?” Well … no. Sands, I’m typing this on a borrowed laptop, via a hastily-built guest account.

What’s going on, you may ask? Well, fishing is one of those markets that’s a bit of a commodity. Ergo, there’s some rapid supply and demand that goes into it. So we were getting all set up to head on out—and I mean that. The gear was loaded, we had out clothes aboard, the whole nine yards save bait, fuel, and ice. We called in to get our ice … and the guy on the other end goes “Oh, I don’t think you want to do that. A big fleet is out right now and the price has dropped. We called around, and he wasn’t kidding.

So we’re at dock. Just killing time waiting for the price to rebound. Which it eventually will, but it’s not likely it will before we head out for the second half of this trip (for shrimp).

The other wrench in this scenario is the travel time home doesn’t really make it worth it to leave and head back home. I’d be there for maybe a week at best before needing to turn right back around.

In other words, I’m stuck here through the five weeks either way.

Now, that isn’t to say I haven’t been busy. Those on the Discord will know that I’ve been working on planning bits and bobs for upcoming novels. Yesterday I spent an agonizing three straight hours doing pure finance and accounting equations for Axtara – Magic and Mayhem. Some of them, amusingly enough, I was 99% positive I’d done before for the first book, but … Even if I had saved those notes, they’re down in Utah at my apartment, not at my parent’s place in Alaska.

Point being, though, I am filling the little notebooks I brought along for brainstorming and worldbuilding purposes with page after page of notes for new novel projects. I’ve gotten a bunch of prep work done for Magic and Mayhem, the second Axtara book which will be my new project as soon as I return home, but I’ve gotten some work done on projects for after that book as well.

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Weekend News – Gym Djinni on Patreon, Doctorow on Audible, and more!

Hey there folks! It’s only Thursday, I know, but I’m kicking off this weekend’s news post a little early because, plainly put, there’s news to be discussed! And we’re just going to dive right into it.

First up, there’s a new short story on Patreon for supporters! This one was a lot of fun to write, and it’s definitely going in the next Unusual Events book. Which I do have a decent pile of shorts for at this point. I should get on that. Though give how poorly the last one did, it’s not exactly a red-hot-right-now push.

Anyway, this story is titled Gym Djinni, and it sees a young museum worker at the gym spy something … quite extraordinary. Things only get stranger from there. It’s 7,000 words (actually short, I know) and was an absolute blast to write. Supporters, I hope you enjoy this one. Everyone else will have to wait until a little later. Or … you can just become a Patreon Supporter. It’s not exactly bank-breaking to do so (at least, I hope).

Either way, enjoy the story. I had fun writing it, and I think you’ll have a good time reading it.

Now, on to other news! I awoke this morning to an interesting post in my feed: A guest post on Brandon Sanderson’s site from Cory Doctorow regarding Audible and the unwelcome state—from an author’s perspective—of audiobooks.

And frankly, I think he’s got some very solid points. He echoes a few concerns and gripes I’ve noted with Amazon (and in my case, other places) in my posts about their advertising practices, but also discusses some less-than-savory ongoing problems with Audible that you may or may not have heard of.

Now, I get that people love audiobooks. But I can also see how it’s being abused, and badly, with royalties that are badly out of proportion for the author and worse, some downright nasty dirty moves from Audible (such as outright encouraging people to return audiobooks within a generous window, even after it has been finished, and then taking 100% of the refund straight from the author royalty, whilst keeping the money Audible had made for itself).

You can check it out here. I do recommend it. Especially if you’re a heavy audibook listener, you might want to be aware what’s going on behind the scenes and why that habit might not be helping the author the way you think.

Myself? I still don’t have audiobooks. Though stuff like this makes that less likely, not more, since it seems like it’d be all but impossible to recoup the costs without some sort of external marketing.

Like I said, give it a look. More news after the jump.

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Friday News Pile!

Hello readers!

It has been a quiet week, at least publicly. Outside of the news about the Dog Save the King submission call (which you can check out at this link if you missed it) and Monday’s Being a Better Writer post, it’s been kind of silent these last few days.

Well, that’s going to take a sudden change, because I’ve got news today. I just finished the first draft of the next Jacob Rocke book! That’s right, it took longer than expected, largely because it went about 40,000 words longer than I meant for it to, but it’s done. Now it gets set aside, along with the notes I made, so that in a few months I can come back and pre-Alpha things. And hopefully make some cuts. And some changes to early parts of the manuscript that work better with the later bits that I already made notes for (though the pre-Alpha read will be the first test of those).

Is it going to be the most amazing book ever? Nah, probably not. But it is fun, and there’s a neat little mystery going on that moves more and more into the “How?” angle of things as the puzzle pieces come in. Jacob Rocke isn’t the most incredible character, but he is good at what he does. And the antagonist in this one … Well, let’s just say I think it’s a pretty great concept, and it’s one of those things that’s going to make a lot of people think “Wait, that’s so simple it’s genius. Why have I never seen that before?”

Anyway, I’ll let you all be the final judges when it drops as a complete product, but for now, that’s one more novel done!

Which means … Yes, it is time. Time for Axtara – Magic and Mayhem.

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Weekly Update

Hey readers! It’s time for the news!

I know. It’s been a quiet week. Mostly because my fingers have been busily clicking away on the finale of that Jacob Rocke book. He’s knee-deep into things now, and it’s all but wrapped up. The draft is sitting at around 115,000 words, which is a bit longer than I expected, and there’s some rewriting and adjustments to make before it’ll go into Alpha, but overall I’m content.

Once that’s done (and it’ll be sometime next week; there really isn’t much left), I’ll start on Axtara 2, which I know a lot of you have been waiting anxiously for. It’s going to be a lot of fun, folks. And after that …

Well, might as well drop some other news. Somehow, in the span of a few mysterious hours, One Drink received today over twenty new ratings on Amazon. No reviews, just ratings. No other book received any attention. Doubly strange is that One Drink hasn’t even had any attention recently. I’ve got the sales numbers, and it’s far below the floor set by Axtara and Colony. Yet somehow, in the span of a few hours … boom.

It’s puzzling, so I guess I’ll keep an eye on it?

Anyway, that really is all there is for news this week. It’s been a quiet week, really. Just working on this still-unnamed Jacob Rocke book, and gearing up for Axtara 2.

Oh, and there was the fairy tale I put up for supporters on Patreon. I do have another short planned between the end of Rocke’s latest mystery and starting work on Axtara – Magic and Mayhem. It’ll go up on Patreon next month. No name, but it’s a fun little idea I had that just begged to be written.

And after Axtara 2 … Well, that’ll be for the Patreon Supporters to decide, I think. There are some fun options coming.

Back to work for me! I’ll see you all Monday!

Patreon Supporter Reward and Other News!

Hey folks! Max here with some great news! And well, the weekly news.

For starters, there’s a new Patreon Supporter Reward up! Supporters can find it here. This one’s a short I wrote, a classic-style fairy tale I got the idea for a few weeks back called The Farmer and the Giant. It’s … allegorical. But also amusing. I hope you supporters enjoy it. It’ll be another one for More Unusual Events when I get around to compiling things.

In other news, I’m finally done being sick as of today. I did get some writing done yesterday, but I’m two days behind on Jacob Rocke’s newest outing. It’s in the finale, however, so it’ll be done very soon. At which point I can start working on Axtara 2 …

And, uh … yeah, that’s the news. There’s not much to it on a sick week, unless you want to hear about my Stellaris antics while ill. But that’s what the Discord channel is for.

Anyway, I’ve got some errands to run. I’ll catch you all later! And remember, if you aren’t a Patreon Supporter yet, you can always become one!


News Roundup

A simple and sweet plain-old news roundup for this week, folks. Feels like it’s been a while since one of those.

So, what’s happening? Well, first of all, I have some news that might lead to temporary disruption of the site schedule, or at least a few lighter Being a Better Writer posts: My rental contract is up at the end of this month, and I’m fairly certain my landlords are going to be jacking my rent up an obscene amount on the logic of “because we can and we need more money” because that’s exactly what they did last time. With, of course, no improvements to an already less-than-stellar setup.

In other words, I’m looking to relocate, which means time spent checking out new apartments, basements, condos, etc. Plus the actual move itself, which even if about a third of my belongings are still in boxes, is always a pain. The last week of this month might be a little stressful, basically. Just a heads up.

Now, onto happier news. I’m pleased to report that on Amazon, Axtara has brought her review-race with Colony nearly to a tie. As of posting, Colony holds 61 total rankings (and with an average of 4.3 out of 5 atop that). Axtara? Why, she’s just one rating behind, with a total of 60 rankings (and a higher average of 4.8 out of 5)!

Given her speedier progress, it’s very possible that she’ll overtake Colony any day now, but I wouldn’t count the first book in the UNSEC Space Trilogy out yet. See, while Axtara has nearly brought things to a tie on Amazon, over on Goodreads she’s still almost lapped by Colony, her meager 43 ratings nearly doubled by Colony‘s 83. So Axtara‘s winning one race, but the long-term victory still goes to Colony.

Since I’m speaking of reviews and ratings, it’s worth mentioning that a bunch of new ones have swept in across most of the library in the wake of LTUE, as new readers have found—and from the reviews left, greatly enjoyed—their new adventures and discoveries. Starforge in particular seems to have really hit the mark with a lot of readers, being touted as a fantastic ending to the trilogy and a real thrill-ride besides.

That fills me with joy, because I spent a lot of time working on it. If you’re one of those readers that hasn’t swung over to Amazon to pick up a copy yet, I wholeheartedly recommend that you give the series a shot, especially now that it’s complete. I know there are a lot of readers out there that won’t touch a series or trilogy until its complete with a ten-foot pole, and for good reason, considering how much waiting might be had and the risk that a series may never finish. But hey, that risk is gone now with Colony and its sequels, so you can read to your heart’s content!

And if you’re waiting for an audiobook, well … crud. Anyone know how good Kindle’s “Text to speech” routines are these days? Sorry folks, but that’s still on the back-burner. As for paperbacks … Well, how’s this. I promise I’ll take a look at the formatting sometime after my housing situation gets resolved, and see exactly how the whole trilogy might make it into a paperback format, or if it’s even possible with Starforge‘s titanic size.

In the meantime, if you haven’t yet, consider taking part in the race between Colony and Axtara and leave one or both of them a rating/review!

Last bit of news, about what I’m currently working on, past the jump.

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An Alert for Starforge Readers – If You’re Seeing Odd Formatting Or the Like …

Hey folks. Max here with a heads-up about Starforge. That big finale for the UNSEC Space Trilogy.

Well, it appears that it might be a bit … large. And this has led to some issues for some readers.

Okay, let me lay it out to you. Ereaders are not complicated programs. In fact, they’re quite simple. But this can mean that as you progress through a very large book, your reader of choice may start experiencing … oddities.

For example, I first discovered this when reading through The Wheel of Time back in the day on my old Kindle. Sometimes the formatting would get a little … funky. I’d close the book, reopen it, and voila! The issue would be gone.

Well, while doing the copy edit for Starforge, I did find that on one reader, for one format, after a good ten or so chapters, the formatting would have a chance to go … sideways on me. But it wasn’t because the file with the actual formatting was incorrect. It was because the reader itself was just having a bit of trouble after so many consecutive page turns. It happened largely with one format, but today I heard reports that someone else had seen something similar going on and was worried the book had broken formatting or other issues.

Well, it only appears that way, but the file itself is clean. What’s happening here is an ereader program that’s just kind of starting to let little errors pile up, built for 300 page books, not 2000 page ones. And as Starforge is DRM-free, this could especially be the case if you purchased it but converted it to another format.

So, if you’re reading Starforge, and see something funny, maybe broken formatting like odd page breaks, paragraph splits, or justification (text being centered instead of on the left) issues, don’t panic. The book isn’t broken. Here’s what you do.

  1. Back out of the story. Sorry for the interruption.
  2. Open another book with your reader. This loads it into the program’s memory.
  3. Back out of that book.
  4. Reopen Starforge. This loads it back in, right where you were, but without any accrued reader issues.

Voila! Your formatting issues should be fixed. If they are not, then take the more extreme tactic of restarting your ereader program or device. And if that does not fix the issue, try either A) redownloading the file or B) reconverting it to the format you’ve chosen, though if the error appears again, it may be a problem with your converter.

I do apologize for the inconvenience, but ereaders can in some cases be very simply programs or devices, which means errors are generally ignored under the rule of “How long could the book be?” meaning they aren’t usually an issue. And myself being fairly tech-literate, when I encountered the issue during the copy-edit, after confirming that it was the reader and not the file in each case (a fairly simply check), simply fixed it with the aforenoted process and called it good.

However, it did not occur to me that there would be plenty of people who had never encountered an ereader issue like this before and would be befuddled when faced with this.

So, if this has happened to you (especially if you converted the file into a different format), here are the ways to get it taken care of. I hope it hasn’t soured your Starforge experience, and if it helps look at it this way: It’s a limitation of the technology, the same way it would be if I’d printed it bound and your arms had gotten tired all 20+ pounds of it aloft, and you’d dropped it and broken a few toes.

Anyway, I’ll be tagging this on the Starforge blurb on the books page, but if you have seen these issues, hopefully this resolves them for you. Enjoy!

One Drink Celebrates Its Tenth Anniversary, Plus a Topic Call and Other News!

Well, it’s been a long road, hasn’t it? As of this week, One Drink, the first title I ever published, is ten years old. It released ten years ago, on February 20th, 2013. The first step in what would become a much wider, larger writing career.

Where it all began ...

So to celebrate this fact, I’ve made it free this week! Yup, all you have to do is click that cover there on the right, and you can grab a copy of your very own to keep and enjoy.

Sure, most of you probably have it already. I wouldn’t be surprised at this point. After all, it’s been ten years. And in my own personal opinion, it’s not that spectacular a book. Though that’s a point where I’ll be happy to disagree with my fans, many of whom consider it much better written than I do.

But hey, you can’t argue with free!

Better yet, its sequel, Dead Silver, while not ten years old, is on a 75% off sale too. It’s a safe bet that if you enjoyed One Drink in any capacity, you’ll find the sequel an even more entertaining read.

Again, as before, if you click the cover there, you’ll go right to it.

Though I’ll warn you, Dead Silver is a sequel. So I advise reading One Drink beforehand if you haven’t. You don’t have to, of course, but since one is free, if you’re grabbing Dead Silver to complete the set, you might as well read them in order.

Or not. I don’t have any control over that. And I’m well aware that some people like to read things backwards.

Anyway, it’s been TEN YEARS. It’s amazing to think that it’s been so long since I published my first book. Since those days, I’ve seen the world of writing shift and change. I’ve seen publishers people believed were unstoppable titans topple and fall. I’ve seen the authorial view of trad vs indie shift and slide away from the former and toward the latter, right up to the point where we’ve got authors at their peak doing forty-million dollar kickstarters and breaking from their old publishers.

And I’ve watched my books steadily climb in readership. I’ve watched the progression of new readers, new fans, and the slow but steady climb upward, my sales in one month now topping what I used to manage in a year.

And it’s still going. I won’t wax on this for much longer, but I hope most of you can excuse me a little bit of bittersweet satisfaction at how far things have come. It’s been a long ten years. At LTUE’s closing event, a particular speaker who I shall not name-drop spoke of writing and selling books as trying to climb a mountain, only to reach the top and realize you built that mountain, stone by stone. Or perhaps book by book.

They’re right. And while I don’t consider myself near the peak of this journey yet, right now taking a glance back and seeing the mountain of words I’ve assembled so far, with characters like Anna and Axtara, Jake and Jacob, Sweets and Salitore … Well, it’s been a long, steady climb.

But there’s a lot more to come.

Thank you. Readers, reviewers, folks that shared their favorite titles with friends. Patreon Supporters. Without all of you, the last ten years … Well, it couldn’t have happened. A man can build Rome, but if no one shows up, what good is it?

Thanks for reading, folks. And I hope you stick around for the next ten years. Because I’m not done yet. Not by a long shot. There’s more to come, more Axtara, more Indrim, more Jacob Rocke, and even a bunch of new worlds you’ve yet to set foot in.

Thanks for reading, sharing, and reviewing. I’ll build the mountain. You guys mine it.

Now, before we hit the jump for some other news, there’s one more thing I want to address: A Topic Call!

Yep, that’s right! It’s time again. Topic List #21 has reached its end. It’s time for Topic List #22.

Now, those of you that have been around for a while? You know what that means. Hit the comments below and post your topic requests!

Those of you that are new? This is a primary manner with which to request topics for future Being a Better Writer topics!

That’s right! Got something you want covered by Being a Better Writer? Post it! And Topic List #22 will take shape with your questions on it! Then watch each Monday, and your Being a Better Writer request will show up!

That’s all there is to it. So get to the comments and post the writing topics you want to hear about!

Now, on with the other news. Which isn’t much, but it’s news. Hit the jump for it!

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The LTUE 2023 Write-up: Day Three

Or, the final day.

And what a day it was. Guys, LTUE is a fantastic con. Awesome panels, wonderful people, so much writing energy coursing through its halls like the vibrant surges of a buzzing neon light.

Seriously, if you’ve not made it to LTUE before, you totally should. LTUE is incredible. And next year? It’s going to go even further. Why? Well, it’s a con named Life, The Universe, and Everything, and it’ll be year 42 for it. If you get that, it’s the kind of con you should be at.

Now, with that said … I am pretty beat. So I’m going to cut the preamble short and head right into the day three write up, because I’m ready to call it a night. As pumped up from LTUE as I am, it’s that kind of energy that can’t quite make up for the absolute exhaustion I feel from three days of pure con. At the same time, this energy will persist through the weekend and on through the next week. I am jazzed to finish off the newest Jacob Rocke adventure and then start work on Axtara – Magic and Mayhem. And hey, I even laid the grounds for the plot to Axtara 3 in my mind while I was attending this LTUE. Don’t worry, it’s not suddenly becoming a trilogy. Each book is still going to be standalone. I just love that dragon. She’s flying far, and she deserves it.

Anyway, hit the jump, and let’s go over what I went to today!

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The LTUE 2023 Write-Up: Day Two!

I am tired right now.

How tired? Near the end of the signing, someone handed me a copy of Shadow of an Empire to sign, and I asked them if they wanted a name to go with it. They gave me a name sort of like “Dave.” I said “And how do you spell that?” Puzzled, they spelled it out.

I thought for a moment, looked at them, and then went “Really?”

Now, they thought I’d misheard them because that hall was loud. But in truth … I was so tired that my brain had stumbled on processing the spelling of a very straightforward, four-letter name.

Yeah, it’s been a long day. But what a day!

Now, I actually didn’t make it to as many panels (outside of the ones I was on) as I did yesterday. Largely because a number of them were full by the time I arrived! In fact, one was full with several minutes to go! So good on that panel and those panelists, because it was a packed day! But I also spent some time walking around the con, talking with folks both old and new, signing books—and not just at the signing in the evening, either!

Basically, I kept really busy. I finally had to excuse myself to the green room because my phone was going to die, and I knew I’d need it later.

And I did … but we’ll get to that. For now, hit the jump, and let’s talk about some of the highlights from day two of LTUE 2023!

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