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!

Managing Marketing

Hello readers! Max here with a short news post. Nothing big. Mostly just updates, starting with the big one on everyone’s mind: What’s going on with Starforge?

Work, actually! Joking aside, progress on Starforge continues forward. Returning from my vacation, I’ve taken some time to tighten up (read: rewrite) the last quarter that I was working on, and progress over the last few days has been in the high-quota range. If things continue at their current pace, I could see the first draft being done by the end of this month.

About time, too, I know. Speaking of which, I really want to get back to it (things are happening) so this is going to be a short post.


What else is up? Well, I spent a good chunk of today rebuilding and restructuring a lot of my advertising. Advertising for Axtara has done really well, so I spent some additional time working on that and adding a keyword search set to it to see how that performs, as well as going back and building a new advertising campaign for Colony based on its most successful keywords, plus a few new ones.

Hopefully, this will be part of the process that tips me over the knife edge I’ve been balanced on over the twenty and eighty percent. For those who are not in the know, about eighty percent of authors never make enough off of their writing to live, and therefor have a second job. A number which is thankfully up due to indie publishing.

Anyway, I’m on the edge of being able to move from that eighty percent into the twenty percent. Have been for a while, and have just been looking/working for the push that puts me there. Maybe this advertising refinement will do the trick?


Let me see, what other news do I have to drop! Oh, I was interviewed by my hometown radio news station during my vacation (yes, my hometown has a public radio station still, a unique boon that most of the US no longer has, and I can wax on the societal implications/advantages of that for a while), talking about publishing, writing, and where Sci-Fi may go from here, among a few other things. I’ll be sure to let you all know as soon as the story goes live! I myself will be curious to see what gets cut from the 40-odd minutes we talked compared to what airs.


And in other news … I got nothing, actually. There’s some cut content from Starforge that’ll probably be coming to Patreon soon, Axtara got a few more five-star reviews, along with Jungle, and summer’s here, so I’m loving having my biking season back. And being back at work with Starforge‘s draft whizzing along.

Speaking of which, I’m going to get back to that now. These battles aren’t going to write themselves! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Final Bit of Pre-Vacation News!

Hey readers! I know a Saturday news post is a bit unusual, but hey, I’m going to be on vacation next week, so it is what it is, right? Plus, I do have news!


First, let’s talk about Starforge. No, the draft isn’t done. I’m currently at work on the fourth and final portion of the story, and actually kind of glad I’m going on a vacation because I’ve hit a … shall we say swing point? I know where I’m at, and I know where things are going, but I have two different ways to reach that point and I’m trying to figure out which one works best for the characters.

Again, this is the most stressful writing project I’ve ever had because well, Starforge has to live up to Colony and Jungle, and that is a tall order, especially when it has to finish off both of their respective stories.

The current draft has cracked 400,000 words, by the way. Probably about another 45,000-50,000 to go. Yes. It’s close. Then I’ll probably put it down for a month or so, do some short stories or something for other books or works to let my mind disengage, and then … come back and start editing. Hard. Maybe we can get a November release, but I make no promises.

Of course, if you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking “Sounds like you need that vacation.” Everyone keeps telling me that. Anyway, I’ll have a week off to think about how to swing this last bit of the finale, and there will very likely be some rewrites for the current chapter I’m working on (at the moment I feel it’s a little inconsistent with the tone) once I’m back, but … Other than that, I’ll I’ve got is “it’s still coming, it’s still the most stressful thing I’ve ever written, and I really hope I’m keeping it up to the standard of the first two.”


But I’ve got other news! Really good news, in fact. As of last night, I have officially reached 200 reviews and ratings on Goodreads!

How’s that for a milestone? Combined with my Amazon reviews, that brings me to 359 reviews total. And the average of all those reviews?

4.5 out of 5. If we double that to find the “US grade scale” that puts me at a 90%. Actually, a 91% since there’s some rounding with the last few digits.

Yeah, for all the stress I’m experiencing over Starforge, that review average feels pretty good. And I’m only 41 reviews from hitting that big old 400 I’ve been hunting for.

Curious what pushed me to the new milestone? It was Axtara. Another five-star review from a thrilled reader was the last tick I needed to go from 199 to 200. At the current pace Axtara is racking up reviews, it’ll be competing with Colony before long!


Now let me see. Other news. There will be a Being a Better Writer post while I’m gone, and I’ll be setting up a few classic throwbacks while I’m out so the site won’t be totally dead. I’m going to try and spend this next week somewhat relaxed so my brain can punch through the last few finale bits of Starforge without shredding itself, so I won’t be doing new posts while I’m gone. But again, stuff is set up, so keep an eye on things here. Nothing groundbreaking, but still fun.


Oh, and while we’re discussing news, eagle-eyed Patreon Supporters may have already noticed that the fourth and final portion of A Trial for a Dragon went live this morning! So those of you that have been following the misadventures of Axtara’s older brother Ryax have the conclusion to his struggle with the Rietillian Council of Wizards at last! Thanks for supporting!

And with this, I’m going to sign off, get a few final scheduled posts ready to go … and check out. Enjoy next week everyone, and wish me luck!

Starforge is One Massive Step Closer to Completion (And Other News)

Readers, I have good news: Yesterday, I finished Part Three (out of four total) of Starforge. Finishing out a colossal 56,000 words across three chapters, I laid down the final words of that portion of the draft, and started the section heading for “Interlude 3.”

Which means … Okay, will it actually means a bunch of things. First of all, it means that Starforge‘s draft progress on the “Current Projects” tab is now at 80%, and the total wordcount at 377,000. Now 50k more than Colony, but still almost 79k less than Jungle (which was an absolute unit of a story, and yet at the same time flew by for many).

Second, it means that I need a small break. Today I’ll work on Interlude 3 a little bit, but since I’ve almost hit my monthly quota (I’m just a few hundred words away) I don’t feel the need to stress out about it.

Which is good. The last few months have been very stressful, and Starforge is part of that. Though in fairness, I started working on it officially last July off-and-on between editing on Axtara, and then fully in October. which mean much of its 377,000 word current length has been written in just seven-months. On par for the same speed with Colony, I might note (which was written in six, but was also 50k shorter).

The end is coming, readers. All that’s left is that last 20%. And with that, let’s talk about some other news since we’re all here anyway!

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Bits and Pieces of News

Hello hello people! Yes, I know we had a post Wednesday and yesterday, but there are still a few things to say heading into this weekend. So, diving right in …


Those of you who are Patreon Supporters and fans of Axtara – Banking and Finance will want to keep an eye on the Patreon this weekend. Why? Because the first bit of a unreleased story set in the same universe will be dropping there this weekend. That’s right, it’s a supporter-only look at A Trial for a Dragon, a short story starring Axtara’s older brother Ryax. In … Rietillia? What is he doing there? Well, if you’re a supporter, you’ll have to tune in tomorrow on Patreon to get your first look.

But not the whole of it. It’s a short story but most of you know that doesn’t mean much where I’m concerned. So to keep Patreon from breaking under the size of the post, it’ll be in pieces.

And if you’re not a Patreon supporter, well … it is slated for a future release at some point in a collection. Patience will bring it to you in the end!


Speaking of Axtara, after 22 reviews, it finally got its first non-five-star the other day. A reader gave Axtara … four stars. For its 23rd review.

That’s not bad at all. The banking dragon continues to soar, and it’s a lot of fun to hear back from readers and fans how much they fell in love with Axtara and her adventures in Elnacier!


Speaking of reviews and ratings, just going to point out really quick: I am four ratings/reviews shy of 200 on Goodreads! This brings my total review rating count to … 357! And with all those reviews … still sitting at a 4.5 star average.

Now that’s the power of good writing.


Now, let’s talk about Starforge. I am on the second-to-last chapter of part three, so about to be roughly 75% done, and the total wordcount is … 337,000 words. We’re definitely looking at a Jungle-length adventure here folks. Some of that will probably get trimmed in editing—there’s a tricky balance with the action and pacing that needs to be met, and I’m positive the first draft will require some trimming and tucking to make it hit just right—but at the moment the concern is finishing the story off once and for all. Which I need to get back to, so let me drop other news and get on with it!

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The Bi-Weekly Report: Happy St. Patrick’s Day

You know, if you’re looking for one more way to celebrate, Axtara—the titular protagonist of Axtara – Banking and Finance—is green. You can read the first few chapters for free here, or pick up your own copy here! Or even just adorn your device background with her cheerful grin!

Since I’m on the topic of Axtara, she’s reached a grand total of 20 ratings and reviews now. All of them granting her Five Stars. There hasn’t been a disappointed reviewer yet! Or even one that’s just slightly impressed.

And that? It’s pretty pleasing. To paraphrase one review, ‘Axtara knocks it out of the park,’ and that brings me a lot of joy. Which is great, because so far Axtara seems to be bringing a lot of readers old and young a lot of joy as well, like I’d hoped it would. So it’s like one big circle of joy.

Best of all, I’ve been hearing from readers that have passed it on to their teenage girls that they absolutely love it. Success! Here’s to more reviews in the coming weeks, and thousands of new readers as those who fell in love with Axtara share their newfound find with others!


Since we’re on the topic of both reviews and green covers, Colony and its sequel Jungle got some more love this last weekend from reviews. Colony might be over four years old at this point, but it’s still garnering praise from readers of Sci-Fi and picking up new readers. Which is good, because Starforge is inching step by step towards completion and wrapping the whole thing up.

But yeah, if you’re not in the mood for green dragons for Saint Patrick’s Day, well, Jungle is also full of a lot of green. A lot of it. In a most threatening manner. You can check out a free preview here if Sci-Fi is your thing, but you’re still looking to stick to that St. Patrick’s Day tradition.


Speaking of Starforge, the current draft is now at 310,000 words. Continued progression, like clockwork, with each daily quota. It’s still somewhere near the 66-70% done marker, but with a book that has to tie up this much, that’s probably not a surprise to any of you. As to when, roughly, this draft will be finished? I’d rather not make predictions at the moment, but I do write 3000-4000 words a day for my daily quota, so rest assured there is progress.

Speaking of progress, to my utter shock I discovered it had been almost a year since I touched Stranded. Sure, it was a weekend fan project, but … Well, there was 2020. That was a thing. And Stranded appears to have been a casualty. But not a fatal one. I’ve been spending my Saturdays adding to it and getting it moving forward once more,

Of course, that isn’t my only Saturday project. Progress continues on getting the Shadow of an Empire paperback worked out. Granted, two Saturday projects (plus this being tax season) mean that it’s taking a little while, but with then there’s this next bit of news …

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The Bi-Weekly Update: Road of Recovery

Hello again readers! I’m back! And I feel … Okay, well I’m not quite at 100% yet. I still slept until almost noon today, and am occasionally popping a cough drop into my maw to calm my cavernous coughs … But I’m definitely feeling more like myself than I have since last Friday. I’m hoping that by tomorrow I’ll be back to normal!

So, my (improving) health aside, what’s new?


Well, first let’s talk for a bit about Starforge. And I do mean for a bit, since I’m not about to drop spoilers here. But I can give you all the current wordcount of the first draft. Starforge has grown to 284,000 words. And it’s still climbing. I think by now it may already have more action than Colony and Jungle combined. Think. It’s probably close. There’s still a bit to go though, before it’s done. I’m going to venture a guess and say it’s about a third of the way through part three of four.

Yeah … lot to tie up with this last book. Lot to survive too. And I’ve almost said too much. So I’ll leave it there. Progress continues (especially now that I’m well again).


So, how about something I can give you some more substantial information on, like Axtara! Well, here’s some fun info: Axtara – Banking and Finance continues to be a stellar performer. It’s also delivered some interesting data, like having nearly 1:1 sales between digital and paperback. An interesting result, given that from what I’ve gathered from a lot of other authors their sales tend to go one way or the other (either largely digital or largely paperback). Axtara being almost a perfectly even split is pretty curious to me, but also kind of cool.

Oh, and I have a special request for those of you who loved Axtara: Be sure to request it at your local library! The more people request it, the more chances of a copy being picked up and more people being able to meet Axtara and share in her adventure!

In that vein of audience reaction and request, thank you to all those that have left reviews for Axtara on Amazon and Goodreads! As of right now she’s amassed a total of 19 ratings and reviews across both, all encouraging! So thank you to everyone that’s left your review and rating to tell the world what you think! And if you read it but haven’t left a rating or review yet in either place, please do! Ratings and reviews help readers know what to make of a title (surprisingly enough, not everyone who sees the premise of “dragon opens a bank” come on board immediately).


So let me see … There is some other miscellaneous news to address. Started getting site hits from another college, this one in Texas, so it appears that yet another Being a Better Writer article has been added to a college syllabus somewhere there. That’s pretty neat.

Oh! The computer is fixed! Thanks to the donation of a used power supply and a used Nvidia 1060 GPU from a friend, my computer is once again functioning. Oh, and dead silent compared to how loud it used to be. I had no idea how much of the fan noise from my desktop was coming solely from my old 660 Ti, but it appears it was almost all of it. That one fan was louder than my CPU fan and my case fans. And always had been.

It is really nice to have a functioning PC again.

And though I’m searching my mind looking for more news … I think that’s it. I’m going to get back to work on Starforge now, and I hope all of you have a fantastic week!

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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A Smorgasbord of News!

Hello readers! How has you week been?

Mine has been busy. And it’s not going to let up anytime soon. There’s a lot going on for me in the next few weeks, and there already was a lot going on to begin with! Of course, one of the largest projects questing after my time was the Axtara – Banking and Paperback release, but if you’ve been following the site, you know that … that was this week!

That’s right! That’s the first bit of news I’m going to crow about. Because yes, the day finally arrived: You can now purchase one of my books in trade paperback. Sands, you can even order it from your local bookstore thanks to expanded distribution! Or ask your local library to acquire a copy (I still get paid either way, so enjoy your read)!

Of course, you can also just order it right now at this link. The one I just repeated twice for good measure! Or you can click the cover there over on the side. Come on … you know you want to … And plus, as those who have already read it can tell you (check the reviews) it’s a fantastically fun story. And suitable for a good range of ages too!


All right, so that’s Axtara talked about and plugged. So now I need to talk about the next big thing that’s happening and keeping me busy.

Life, The Universe, and Everything 2021!

Yes, that’s right, readers! It’s still happening this year, despite the quarantine. Just … not in the same manner. This year (and only this year, as again Covid-19) LTUE will be online! And yes, I will once again be both attending and presenting this year.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. For the newcomers, what is LTUE, and why should they care? Well, Life, The Universe, and Everything is a Writing Convention for Science-Fiction and Fantasy writers (primarily) that has, over the years, branched into a number of related topics such as art, gaming, and other associated venues while still being primarily arrayed around on thing: Writing.

This means that it has panels on topics such as worldbuilding, writing action scenes, or even writing non-human characters, chaired by authors that have written successful books on those topics. Panels where said authors will talk about the experience, common mistakes, ways to succeed, and take questions from the audience.

To be blunt, if you are at all interested in learning writing advice on hundreds of topics from experts in the business, this is the con to go to.

Oh, and did I mention it’s $5 for students? It’s an educational conference, after all.

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