The Friday News and Such

Hey there everyone! It’s time for a news post, keeping you all up to date on what’s going on and all. But this week we’re going to start off with an odder bit of news that’s less to do with writing and more just to do with the personal goal of me getting healthier.

Back in the end of June I picked up a Fitbit. I did this with the goal of measuring my workouts and tuning them to be more effective. To that end, I will say I was shocked with some of the results. Some of the routes I was following that I assumed would have been decent workouts were, in fact, not that great, and some of the routes that “common sense” would have said weren’t that great were actually my best in terms of caloric burn and cardio.

The power of a little data, right?

Anyway, there was a little bump in the middle where I got sick and lost a week of workouts while eating … not so great food … but the result is that currently I am, since June, down about thirteen pounds, and still heading further down.

Now that’s nice to have lost, isn’t it. It’s not a shock diet, or a carb fast, or anything like that. It’s just having metrics and a willingness. Well, and the bike. The holiday pounds are on their way out!

I know it’s not super impactful when it comes to the site, unless that lost weight will somehow help me write faster (I doubt it, personally), but it is something that I’m very happy to be able to see progression on, day after day.

With that said, I’ve got more news for people, and more tangential to the focus of the site, so hit that jump!

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News and Updates

All right everyone, let’s discuss the big news item first: Where is Starforge currently?

Well, the good news is it’s coming along well. I have, however, delayed the move into Beta by a few days while I do some more polishing and tweaking on the Alpha 2. I know, there’s a schedule with a ticking deadline that’s drawing closer and closer, but I want this story to land for as many readers as possible, so I’m making some final tweaks that aren’t, for the most part, large, but are in evidence through the whole of the book, just to get some narrative beats to land just right.

So yes, today is the last of these tweaks, at which point I’ll start dropping chapters into the Beta Master List, send out invites to those respondents to the Beta Call Email (if you previously have been a Beta Reader, check your inbox for the call), and will start sending emails out to those of you that commented on the Beta Call post.

I believe that’s everything for today. I mean, that’s what I have to do today for Starforge. Outside of writing work … Well, you’re not here for that news. You’re here for writing news. So: Beta delayed slightly due to some Alpha polish. Those who have Beta Read before please check your email inbox if you haven’t seen the Beta Call email, and those who left comments, emails coming.

Now, onto other news: The site remodel. Yes, you may have noticed some stark changes around here. Pleasant green swapped for a harsher red. The lack of a smiling dragon banker in the top banner, replaced by an almost blood-red planet floating in space.

Yes, it’s the change of the site’s look for the newest book release. I guess we’re fortunate that red fits both Halloween and Christmas as a color, because we’re going to be with this one for a little while. Granted, it fits the spooky Halloween theme a bit better than Axtara’s cheer. But if you’re missing Axtara, I’m certain she’ll be back. After, a new Axtara title is slated as the second book I’ll be working to release after Starforge is done, and those are lot less work than a juggernaut like Starforge, which means they’ll be coming quicker and sooner.

But hey, for now, let’s just bask in the stark, dark void that is the dread of Starforge, shall we? Two last bits of news, but they’re going below the jump.

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A Short and Quick News Post!

Hello all! My apologies for this post coming in the evening, and being only one of two posts this week, though the other was a pretty significant one. I’ve just been quite busy.

How busy? I have been up writing past 1 AM more than once this week, and hit 2 AM at the latest. So I’ve been burning the midnight oil.

But! The short that blossomed into another YA novel in the Axtara setting—which I really need to name—has found it’s first draft completed! Sadly, it’s rough enough I’ll likely do a total if not near-total rewrite, but it is a neat story that explores a different side of the world already seen with Axtara and other related shorts.

Also, don’t forget, that other post this week was about the Starforge Beta Read! I am blitzing through the Alpha 2 changes right now, and will very likely have Beta chapters up for readers (and e-mails going out) either tomorrow or Monday.

Speaking of which, if you’re interested in being a Beta Reader, keep an eye on your inbox if you’ve commentated or been a prior Beta Reader, and if you’ve not been or done either of those things, comment at the Beta Call! If you already have, I’ll be reaching out to you soon.

Now, there’s a little more news, but it’ll be past the jump. Hit it!

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Friday News Post – Cover Reveal Countdown, Sick Days, Strange Catch, and more!

Hello readers and writers! I’m back! Well … almost.

Let’s start with the most prevalent news before we move on to other stuff: The sick days. Yes, I spent a good chunk of this week sick. No, it wasn’t COVID, at least not that I know of. None of the symptoms matched, so I didn’t get tested. It was, as far as I can tell, just a run-of-the-mill cold caught from a friend’s kids. But it did delay some stuff that was supposed to take place this week, such as Being a Better Writer being delayed from Monday to Wednesday, the finishing of Strange Catch, and the editing for beta of Starforge (we’ll have more on all of these in a little bit).

So, this does mean I’ve revised some of my own scheduling for things. I lost about three days of work due to being sick, but I’m going to try and condense a few things and make up for it. Next Monday’s Being a Better Writer should be up on the usual day, I worked on Strange Catch yesterday and will continue working on it today … basically, I’m trying to make up for the days I lost, and hopefully things will be back on speedy track next week. After all, August is ending, and September is almost upon us, and with that we’ll only be a few months from the release of Starforge!

Speaking of Starforge, we’re also less than a week out from the cover reveal! It’s next Thursday on September 1st, people! You’ve all seen the teaser (and if not, here’s the link to the tease to get your appetite whetted), so now it’s just counting down. Seven days, people! Seven days!

Speaking of Starforge, isn’t the Alpha 2 supposed to be ending soon? Why yes! Yes it is! Getting sick pushed things back a few days, but the plan is still to start making edits in earnest as soon as Strange Catch‘s draft is done (more on that in a bit). Which means that in addition to the Alpha 2 nearing its end … the Beta 1 is coming.

That’s right, Beta Readers. I know you’ve been patiently waiting all summer. Well, your moment is nigh. Next week, as I start the Alpha 2 edits, the Beta call for Beta 1 will go out. This is to make the process similar to the Alpha 2 in that each chapter for the Beta 1 will go up as it is edited from the Alpha 2. While some of you who haven’t dipped your toes into the book might wonder “But won’t that mean we’ll be waiting for you to upload the next chapter every time?” to which I say “I dare you to keep that pace” with a bit of a cheeky grin. Starforge is a juggernaut, and I think I’ll be able to keep ahead of the pack, especially with a small day or two headstart.

Either way, the implication here is pretty clear: Starforge will go into Beta 1 very soon. We’ve got the cover reveal next week, a Beta Call coming … Starforge nears at long last.

Oh, and eARC preview invitations will start going out sometime after that. Hopefully we can drum up a little early fire from a few reviewers before the big drop in November!

Speaking of November, there still isn’t a specific release date yet. Right now the focus is on Beta 1 and 2, then Copy-edit and so on and so forth.

Okay, that’s all the news on Starforge, I think. Hit the jump and let’s talk about some other stuff.

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Friday News Post!

Wow, it’s been silent this week, hasn’t it? There was Monday’s excellent—in my opinion, anyway—Being a Better Writer post and then just … silence. Nothing on Tuesday, which is normal. But then nothing on Wednesday or Thursday either.

Well, it’s not because I wasn’t busy. Alpha Readers from the Second Alpha for Starforge have continued onward, with I believe two in the final quarter of the book, the rest of the Alpha Readers coming up behind them. I’ve been getting steady, consistent feedback, but it has been largely positive thus far with only a few minor things rearing their head. A majority of which seemed centered around the chapter that saw the most rewrites, all concerning smoothing rather than major changes so … Yeah! Things are looking good! As the Alpha team gets further and further, my confidence grows that there will not be an Alpha 3, but a graduation into BETA!

Which does imply that those of you that have been Beta Readers in the past should feel the anticipation growing. Starforge is inching closer to being in your hands! The Beta Read’s time nears!

But there’s another meaning with that as well. Because usually in the industry, once a book is in Beta, that’s when preview copies start going out. And this time? I am looking at sending out digital copies once the Alpha is over and done with to interested reviewers who wouldn’t mind taking a look at the grand finale and seeing how everything shakes out … As well as, of course, maybe dropping some early reviews for the book before it hits.

All awesome, right? But that’s both what others have been doing and what’s coming. What have I been up to the last few days?

Well, I haven’t been writing, save Being a Better Writer and, well, now this post. Though I do have another short story for More Unusual Events bubbling in the back of my head involving a mermaid that’s found a new hobby in bird-watching … But that’s for tomorrow’s writing (the day, incidentally, that you’ll see this post). What have I spent my entire Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday on?

Something very Starforge related. See, with the Alpha 2 reading moving along at a good clip, before I started going over the chapters every Alpha Reader has made it through … I’ve been sitting at my desk with a copy of GIMP open, clicking away and balancing colors.

That’s right, people, the Starforge cover reveal is coming.

Not today. Not in this post. I want to let what I’ve got sit for a bit and see how I feel about it. Previously I’ve withheld from having cover quotes on the cover of my book (after all, I like the art to stand out), but I’m waffling a bit here with this cover.

But it looks good. Those of you who are in the Discord have seen some previews already. As have those of you who are Patreon Supporters. It took me a few days (because I’m not a graphic designer, though I’m certainly learning a lot of the same skills), but I’m pretty happy with what’s resulted right now.

Does it look cool? Yes it does. Very cool. Very striking. Very prime.

And this one? I think I will do a 4K background for it. You’ll see why when the image itself finally arrives.

More news on that next week.

With that, I’m out of news! Enjoy your weekend, people!

Starforge is coming.

News, Updates, and Musings

I really need to make a new list of “assorting things to talk about” for these off days, but right now I spend so much writing time thinking about Starforge that doesn’t seem to be happening!

But hey, at least that means there are updates there to speak of. So, how is work coming along on Starforge?

Excellently. Yesterday I finished off revisions to Part Two of the book, with those revisions passed on to the Alpha 2 crew. Today work begins (for me) on Part Three, which is good because at least one of the Alpha 2 readers have already gotten through Part One.

Part Two took some work as well, particularly in one specific chapter which was not preferred by the Alpha 1 crew (those of you in that crew know which one I’m talking about). In the end, over half of it was completely rewritten, with the latter half being tweaked and edited along the way to bring it up to speed. Hopefully the Alpha 2 crew finds it much more digestible now.

That’s not the only change made across the second Alpha, but it’s so far been the largest and most sweeping one. Though there is one other change that’s been suggested by the Alpha 1 crew that the Alpha 2 crew now gets to deliberate, regarding where Part One ends. Basically, shuffling of chapters. I won’t say which direction I’m leaning with it, but there is a comment left by me serving as a signpost for the Alpha 2 readers asking their opinion.

Those Alpha 2 readers that haven’t reached that yet, what are you waiting for?

Anyway, work continues with that, but I’ve got some other news as well. See, once I finish this pass, I’ll still have to wait a bit for all the Alpha 2 readers to get some distance in the story before sweeping along behind them. Basically editing at the speed of the slowest Alpha Reader. Now, I’d like to get started on this by the end of the month, but if I finish getting all the Alpha 2 chapters up next week, what will I be doing then?

Why, starting on the cover for Starforge, of course! Yes, I’m going to be starting this one a little early, since I’ll need to learn a little more about my graphical editing (I think) in order to pull off what I have in mind, so it might take longer. Regardless, as most of you will probably guess, it is going to be in line with the other covers in the UNSEC Space trilogy. But … this one’s gonna be a little different. You’ll see … eventually. I’m not sure how long it’ll take, but if I can figure out the tools for what I’m going to try to do, the cover might be previewed as early as August!

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Starforge Updates and Other Things!

Hey there folks! I know, it’s been a slow week, hasn’t it? Monday was a holiday, and I’ve really not said much since then.

But that’s because things haven’t actually been that slow. In fact, for me they’ve been very busy! And for the Alpha Readers of Starforge‘s Alpha 2!

That’s because as you’ve largely surmised, that’s what I’ve been hard at work at. And things are booming. Currently, I’m rewriting the majority of chapter 15, as it needed a severe cleaning, and about halfway through that chapter. Chapters 1-14 are up for the Alpha crowd, and I’ve been seeing comments crop up … though not that many given the work done on the other passes.

Will this be the last Alpha? Or will I go for a third? Can’t say, honestly. As I’ve stated before, this being the last book of the UNSEC Space trilogy (and yes, I will reaffirm that this is the end of the story started in Colony; no secret “surprise” extra book here) I want it to be as spiffy and shiny as I can make it for you all. So will it get a 3rd Alpha?

Maybe. We’ll have to see. But at the current pace, with my editing speed and the speed of the Alpha Readers (seriously guys, you’re rocketing along!) the Alpha 2 could be done this month.

And that would be awesome.

So yeah, Starforge‘s second Alpha is off to a rolling start, with several readers already racing to catch up to me at my rewrites … Though once chapter 15 is done, my pace will likely increase to what it was before I got slowed rewriting most of a chapter.

Though if any of you Alpha readers want to impatiently knock at my “door” by catching up, you’re welcome to try!

Now, moving onto related news … The rest of the UNSEC trilogy seems to be getting some attention over the last few months. Colony has continued to collect reviews since hitting the big five-zero, with much positive applause. Accordingly Jungle has followed suit, picking up new five-star reviews as well. The world is getting ready for Starforge! And when it hits …

Of course, Colony‘s star status is closer and closer to being challenged, as Axtara – Banking and Finance is currently outselling it. Granted, Colony is quite a bit older and Axtara is new, but the banking dragon is doing her best to unseat the adventures of Jake, Anna, and Sweets at the top spot. Though in fairness, Colony has quite a lead … but Axtara is winging hard to catch up.

I can only imagine once I get a sequel out things will really start to heat up.

Other than that, I’ll go light with the news. New Being a Better Writer Monday, as usual. For now, everyone enjoy your weekend, and get some reading in!

Oh, wait, I do have one last bit of news. Absolutely zero individuals expressed an interest in Ko-Fi support on the site. So unless you’re one who was interested but didn’t speak up, for now I think that’s going to be tabled indefinitely unless you do speak up. Speak now in the comments, or forever hold your peace!

Have a good weekend everybody!

So … I Changed My Mind

Hey folks! Max here with a big announcement. One that I spoke about a few days ago, now here with its own post.

Or rather … a cancelation of that announcement.

Look, it’s no secret that prices and inflation and all the jazz I spoke both in this week’s news post and also in The Price We Pay about have happened in the last ten years. I was all set to announce that July 1st would be the day I switched up my digital pricing, readying for the next ten years.

But you know … it’s technically only been nine since I started. And a half. And a “ten year” price adjustment just feels … better, you know?

I realize I’m jumping ahead here. After sitting down and thinking about it, and weighing the numbers … Yes, I am making about 20% less on every book I sell now than when I set my prices nine years ago, due to inflation. But … changing prices on July 1st? Well … that didn’t sit well with me. Because as I said above, it’s only been nine years. My first book (and all the pricing I worked out for the books after) only came to be nine years ago.

So rather than change the prices now to reflect shifting values and inflation, I thought why not do it on January 1st, 2023? Why not truly give it ten years, and update everything then?

Maybe it’s just because most of us like round, solid numbers like ten. Or maybe I just felt blindsiding everyone with something that was a week out was a little too short notice, though I’d been running the numbers for a while.

So the big announcement is that starting July 1st … Nothing will happen. January 1st, 2023 however, the ten year mark? That is when I’ll adjust everything for inflation once more.

No joke, I was sitting down and running the numbers and prepping tables to show the various values and suddenly thought “Why now? Sure, I need to make the adjustment, but right now? Is that 20% really going to kill me?”

Okay, maybe? 20% is kind of a substantial number (and I’m the guy that counts pennies). But … Who likes being blindsided by that?

So, here’s what’s going to happen July 1st. Nothing. At least for my prices. No changes. Boom. Bam. None. If something happens to you in your personal life, well, that’s on you. But I probably had nothing to do with it. Unless you buy a book of mine and love it.

But I’m holding off changing the digital price for a few months. Until the new year. When 2023 hits? Well … all the revised pricing I’ve worked out will drop. And then there will be a month’s-plus worth of notice and warning.

So … I guess I gave your eyeballs a big dose of nothing, huh? Well … I’ll make up for it. The Starforge Alpha 2 is almost upon us. So why not offer a teeny-tiny teaser of what some of you are going to get an early look at?

It’s below the jump.

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News! The Alaska Trip, Upcoming Alpha Call, Axtara Fan Art, and More!

Heyo readers! How are things going on your side of the screen?

Things over here are … busy, to put it lightly. Last week I edited 168,000 words, and I’ve already put a solid effort in this week on another 60,000. Haven’t even started today yet (because sadly I cannot edit and write this news post at the same time, though if I could …).

But one of the things that I need to be busy with is this news post! Because I’ve been AFK for five weeks (not counting last week), and the news continued to pile up during that time. So I’ve got some stuff to drop for everyone. Including, yes, you read that title correctly, Axtara fan-art that I received while I was in Alaska.

But we’re going to talk about that in a bit. First, let’s talk about the Alaska trip. Now, unlike last year I’m not going to dedicate a whole post to this. Last year was a special occasion, and in addition had much more eventful happenings (like the killer whale pod that checked us out). This trip was more sedate by comparison. With a few exceptions.

Which isn’t to mean I didn’t get some pictures. A friend of mine asked me to snap some pictures for them, and I obliged, sending them a decent-sized dump when I was back on the grid. Though, just in fairness, these are all quick snaps, unlike some of the pictures I took last year. They’re still solid pictures, but they’re not professional in any sense, and I say that with even more emphasis than last year.

I didn’t even have any pictures of wildlife this time. What exposures we had were brief and over far too quickly to get a picture. With one exception, which was when we were pulling a set that was following a beach, while further out from some whales that were playing or feeding at the beach.

There are no pictures or video of this. We had our hands full. And there wasn’t much to see outside of occasional spouts as both took a breath and went back to whatever it was they were up to. But it was a neat counterpart to our work for a good half-hour, since we were keeping time up the beach.

Okay, with that disappointment of no footage for all of you, here are the pictures I took. Consolation prize, right?

Yes, that is a barge in the last picture. Hauling trains. Well, train cars anyway. Portions of a train? Trainlets? Carriages?

You get the idea. The rest is just scenery, which is usually what I was able to find time to capture pictures of.

So, here’s a quick question for you (which some of you might have wondered about): Why did this trip take me five weeks? I’d of course warned it might take that long, but why did it?

Well … the correct answer is equipment failure. There’s a lot of equipment you need for fishing, and one of those is a very vital piece of machinery that I’ve always called a “depth finder” though I’ve also heard it referred to as a “depth sounder” or in a term that dates the user, “color machine.”

Basically, this neat little device bounces signals off of the seafloor and displays the result on a screen, telling you both how much water you have between the bottom of your boat and the seafloor (more than zero is ideal) and, if you know what you’re looking at, the condition/material of that floor.

When you’re fishing on the bottom, this information is vital. Which is why it’s really bad if you’re about to set out from the harbor and the depth finder will not function.

Long story short, the boat needed a new one, which meant finding a new one, ordering a new one, waiting for it to arrive, and then installing it. All of which royally wrecked the schedule. On the plus side, I had a sudden abundance of days with which I got to just read and catch up on the fat stack of books I’d been holding onto.

But yes, as to why it took five weeks instead of three? That’s why. Thankfully, I’d guessed that something like it might, and prepped the site accordingly.

Now, this wasn’t the only disaster that occurred on this trip. There was a brief but very exciting incident with one of our holds losing, shall we say, containment, and dumping hundreds of gallons of water into a particular place that water should not have been, resulting in very bad things happening aboard the boat until we figured it out. That story, however, does deserve its own telling, and so I won’t post it here.

Besides, we’ve got more news to get to, including some Axtara fanart to see. So hit that jump, and let’s talk about what else is coming down the pipeline.

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I’m Back!

Readers! I have grand news! I am back from the north!

That’s right, I have returned from my expedition to the north! And well … let’s just say I think it was a good thing I queued up so many posts in advance, because wouldn’t you know it, things went wrong.

Nothing major. At least, not for this post. I arrived, we got geared up, everything was ready to go … but when the time came for the ship to depart … The depth reader wasn’t working.

This is, for a boat, a pretty vital piece of machinery. Especially when it not only tells you how far away the bottom is, but what kind of bottom it is (something critical for the type of fishing we were about to do). The machine, twenty-plus years old, had finally croaked. It was far beyond support from the original manufacturer, who had already been folded into another company, so that avenue was out of the question. And because these units aren’t exactly modular … Well … we were out of luck.

The result? Money had to be dropped on a new depth reader. Entirely. Which was not cheap, and in an added bit of “of course the universe works like that” took some time to arrive. Combine that with some other stuff, and bingo boom, I’ve been up there for two weeks and we still haven’t made it out on the water.

Once we did, things went largely according to plan. But these delays meant that yes, once again the trip took longer than was initially quoted at me. Hence, my preparation in adding several extra weeks of posts to the original estimate.

Point being, I’m back and I’m glad I prepped in advance? So … what now?

Well, with all of May pretty much a write off (I made my goal a much more realistic quarter of my normal goal and due to the extended trip couldn’t even make that), moving into June there’s one big project on my mind: Starforge.

As of right now, the goal with Starforge is still to work for a November release. Alpha 1 has shown some really rough spots and dissatisfaction with a few elements, so the next few weeks for me are going to be focused on pulling together things and making changes and fixes to try and ready the draft up for Alpha 2.

And this will need Alpha 2 readers. All hands on deck for this one, because there’s a large number of fixes in the wings, but also because I will need feedback on those fixes and what’s already there. So expect to hear more about Starforge in the coming weeks, because my immediate aim—well, once I stop feeling so sore and battered; fishing work really takes it out of you—is to hit Starforge and hit it hard.

Of course, this isn’t all I need to do, but I don’t want to make a first page titan, so for the rest of the upcoming summer, hit that jump.

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