Have a Happy (and Safe) Labor Day Holiday!

Whoa! It’s that time of year already! Yeah, a Monday holiday has rolled around: Labor Day!

Which, as per the usual, means there will be no Being a Better Writer post today. I’ll be taking the day off. As I hope many of you are. Recharge! Relax! Heal up!

Of course, if you’re still looking for writing advice, we’ve got a couple options for you. There is still an archive of several hundred writing articles here on the site. You could simply search for a classic on the sidebar (The Art of Misdirection is always a good one, or you could pick a topic of your choice) and go for it!

Alternatively, if you’ve got a writing topic you’d like to hear more about, post it in a comment below! Topic List #15 has, at this time, two topics left. Two more weeks worth of articles, but after that? New topics will be needed! So if you’re looking for something in particular, post a comment so it can be added to Topic List #16!

And with that, I’m going to go enjoy my Labor Day. Have a happy and safe one out there wherever you are! Ride a bike, read a book, whatever! But enjoy, and stay healthy.

Delaying My Fireteam Freelance Thoughts + Other Updates

Just a quick update, but I’ve pushed my post on Fireteam Freelance back a few days. It’ll come out next week. Why?

So that there’s more time for readers to post their thoughts to the reader feedback post. A day (less, really) isn’t enough time for most people to respond, and most people react when they hear that a newer, larger post is coming by just ignoring it.

Which isn’t great for a feedback post. I’m still going to write my look back on it today, but it won’t go up for a bit yet.

Meanwhile, the Alpha 2 Reader Call is still open. Axtara could use a few more eyes to give it a quick read. 120,000 words, so a few days worth of decent reading. Nothing big. Head on over to the Alpha 2 call page and comment if you’d be interested. It’d be fast and quick, something you could blitz through on a weekend.

Patreon Supporters, meanwhile, have a first-chapter preview over on Patreon. It won’t be the last either! So if you’re a supporter wondering what the hubbub is about, head on over and get your first look!

Tomorrow I’ll once again start trawling for a cover artist. Plus start looking at timetables for Beta 1 …

Starforge‘s first draft is sitting at 56,470 words. This one’s going to easily be just as titanic as Colony and Jungle, but there’s a lot going on in these chapters.

Anyway, I’m going to get to work now. Hit the links, have a good weekend!

News, Updates, and Musings

Hey readers! Been sort of a quiet week from me, hasn’t it?

Well, I’ll have you know that’s because I’ve been hard at work on both Axtara – Banking and Finance and Starforge. Even better, work on both is coming along nicely.

Now, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any other news worth reporting, or that you’re about to have Axtara in your claws (or hands, whichever). Right now Alpha 1 is about 76% complete, and I think after it’s finished up, I’m going to do a second Alpha, just to make sure some of the changes and alterations fly true under new eyes. This will delay any release a little bit, but shouldn’t by too much. You’ll still get the book fairly soon.

Plus, I still need to sit down and spend some time finding a cover artist since the one I’d really hoped for wasn’t interested. Which is tricky, as finding artists that can do spectacular portraits of dragons while still giving them very recognizable expression is … tricky.

Still, there’s good news coming out of the Alpha: Axtara is awesome. The readers have enjoyed it quite a bit, and I think it’s going to make quite a splash when it arrives.

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Schlock Mercenary Has Come to an End

Surely the author won’t mind me using the logo of his comic to promote it, right? Right?

If you’ve perused my website a little, specifically the links page, you may have noticed that one of the links I’ve had around since the very beginning leads to the most-excellent webcomic Schlock Mercenary, by Howard Tayler. Schlock Mercenary has been a long-time favorite of mine since checking it out in … 2005, I think (?), after I saw Howard present at a few panels at a convention and speak on two topics, one of which would go on to play a vital part of my future career. The first was about how comedy writing was really hard, which I noted. But the other, the big one, was how to take something independent, like a webcomic, and make a living at it.

‘If you can get 5000 people to be fans who will buy and watch your stuff,’ Howard said. ‘You’ll make it. That’s what you need.’

And he knew what he was talking about. See, Howard had left his middle-management job to pursue being a writer (and artist) in the webcomic sphere full time, selling books, prints, and as he once noted with “dark scatological undertones” … maybe even Schlock-in-a-cup.

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The Publishing Treetops Shake

So the last few weeks have been full of interesting news for the book industry. In fact, I was planning on posting on this last week, since it was more topical then (and I would have found easy access to the relevant links, now I’m just going to talk about it) but had that run-in with a falling teen from the sky and ended up a little out of it.

So we’ll discuss it right now instead, between bits of pre-work on Starforge. So then, what’s to talk about?

Well, when I say “book industry” I really mean one area: Traditional publishing. To be more specific, the big five. The last few weeks have seen a number of shakeups across the big five, from Simon & Schuster switching CEOs (even as they’re up for sale) to other publishers replacing high-up corporate positions, funneling their long-held higher officials out and bringing in new ones with the hope that they’ll bring change.

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In Which the Universe Attempts Symmetry

Hello readers! Bit of an update here! You may have noticed that like last week I was a bit silent this week, despite not having made any plans in that direction. And, well, you’re right. I was planning on posting more this week. And starting Alpha Feedback response for Axtara – Banking and Finance. And finishing my Jungle reread so that work could begin in earnest on Starforge.

So what happened? Well … my ribs happened. Or rather, idiot teenagers happened to my ribs.

So here’s the breakdown: On Monday, after I’d finished this week’s Being a Better Writer and done a little bit of prework on Starforge, I decided to go out for a nice spot of exercise (trying to stay healthy) on my bike and ride down the local trail near my home. This went wonderfully until

See, this trail has underpasses. It flows beneath several roads, highways, and railways, so in each case it dips down like one would expect, those using the trail emerging on the other side into the sun once more.

No one expects a teenager to fall on them during this process.

See, these teenagers, in one of the more pure examples of how teenagers can be complete idiots, had decided it would be fun to climb up atop one of these overpasses and then drop down onto the trail.

Without looking to see if anyone was coming. Into the lane of the trail where no one would be able to see them dropping down.

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Want Diversity? Start Supporting Indie

Hey readers, got a short post for you here today. It may not have escaped your notice in recent weeks (or maybe it did, and you’ve spent your time better than I) that the book industry, specifically traditional publishing, has been under fire.

Okay, in fairness, that’s nothing new. The traditional publishing industry has been suffering for years. That’s why Simon & Schuster is up for sale. But right now it’s under fire from readers for a reason that, given the current political climate in the United States, you can probably guess at.

Yup, the publishers are under fire for diversity. Or rather, for a lack of it.

Before I go further with this post, I want to make one thing clear: I actually agree with this concept, but for entirely different reasons than most locked in this battle would probably agree with. Most of them are painting, as they put it, a lack of books from certain ethnic groups or a lack of good royalty for those books as a deliberately targeted act of racism.

I’m not so sure. At least, not in the way most of the accusers seem to think. Personally? I think it’s far more likely that it’s the same story repeated a thousand times with the traditional publishers: They’re out of touch, behind the times, and refusing to adapt to the modern era. They’re “risk averse” to anything they don’t understand, and buddy, there’s a lot they don’t understand.

So basically, while many are accusing book publishers of being deliberately racist, I think that’s giving the publishers too much credit. It’s an “achievement” of ignorance as much as anything else. Ignorance and willful refusal to adapt. Not at all helped by many publishers trying to kill as many birds with one stone as possible and push out books that “hit” every margin the publisher hasn’t at once.

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Another Project Complete! The News Rolls in Again

Most of you can probably guess what this post is about. Yesterday, I put my fingers to the keys one final time, and wrote the last line of Fireteam Freelance.

That’s right. The whole thing is now complete. All episodes.

Do I have thoughts on it? Oh yes. I’ve noted from the beginning that an episodic story like this was definitely an experiment. I won’t say what those thoughts are at this juncture, because you readers haven’t finished the story, and I don’t want to inadvertently color your expectations. Though I will say some of the episodes coming up have some of my favorite scenes I worked on through this series, and I don’t feel at all that my time was misspent.

Naturally, of course, this means that there will be another episode this Saturday. Episode 9, Apatos, will be live at 8 AM mountain time, and after the events of the last episode, you absolutely will not want to miss it.

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First to Fifty

I’ve been pretty quiet this week, as many of you may have noticed. No posts after Being a Better Writer save this one (a few days later), etc. But … I’ve had good reason.

For starters, I’ve been in the middle of the finale for Fireteam Freelance all week. Yeah, the big ultimate showdown. So as you can imagine, if I’ve been writing at all, it’s been on that rather than anything else.

But that’s come with some other complications as well. See, Monday night I started developing a sore throat.

Sands and storms, right? By Tuesday it was especially pronounced, and well … with Covid-19 going around and a sore throat being one of the symptoms, I went into deeper self-isolation (read, I didn’t leave my place) these last few days waiting to see if any other symptoms would appear.

Thankfully, none have, and as of today, the sore throat has almost completely vanished outside of a faint occasional itch showing where it once was. Bullet. Dodged.

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Fireteam Freelance Episode 8 Drops This Saturday

So, you readers may have noticed that there was not anything new for Fireteam Freelance this last week.

It was by choice. It was an off week, by which I mean there was an episode the prior week (Episode 7 – Missing Persons) and these episodes have come out every other week. Which does mean that yes, episode 8 (Last One Out) drops this Saturday.

So yes. Set your alarms and mark your calendars! Episode 8 of Fireteam Freelance arrives this Saturday, and it’s one you won’t want to miss.

But yeah, last week there was no bonus content. That doesn’t mean it’s done, not yet. But there was a good reason for the break. After this Saturday’s climactic episode, there will be another bit of in-between content in the week following.

After that? Well, I’m not sure. About bonus content, I mean. Hit the jump for more.

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