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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We’re Picking Up a Weak Signal …

Hey folks! Sorry for my effective absence this week. That frog in my throat I mentioned Monday has been determined to avoid eviction, and has tenaciously clung to my vocal cords in the way a politician clings to money. I have almost all my pitches back, and in truth yesterday felt like I did when this whole mess started last Friday. Now it’s Friday again, and outside of some gunk and my voice sounding a little off I still have that frog clinging to me.

It’s worse at night though. Laying down seems to shift where everything goes, and then I cough, and … well, I’ve had a few rough nights this week.

Long way of saying that I’m sorry there hasn’t been any other content this week other than Being a Better Writer and this little news post here. I’ve just been either fighting this frog or working on Starforge.

Yes, despite being sick, I went back to working on Starforge as soon as I felt up to it. And I’m making good progress. I’m just about done with edits on the first quarter, though I’ll likely make a second pass even before going into Alpha 2.

But hey, progress is good! Starforge draws closer with each chapter scoured!

But speaking of Alphas, there’s actually one other project that’s ready for an Alpha. The Minstrel and the Marshal, my entry for this year’s LTUE Anthology collection, is ready for Alpha Reading! It’s a short, only 17,000 words, and set in a new setting none of you have seen. If you’ve got some time this weekend and would like to take a look, let me know here on on the Discord channel, because I would like to get some other eyes on it before it’s submission deadline at the end of the month.

And uh … Yeah, that’s it. Sorry folks, it’s just been one of those slow weeks (thanks, frog). Monday I’ll have another Being a Better Writer post for you all, and maybe we’ll look at doing another live Q&A in the coming weeks as well, just to shake things up.

I’m going to get back to editing now and another notice of eviction for this dumb frog. Have a great weekend all!

Starforge Alpha Call!

All right folks. This is it.

“Old guard” Alpha Readers have had access to Starforge‘s Alpha since Monday. Feedback is already coming in, which is awesome. Also it’s pretty positive feedback, not that I’m saying there aren’t changes to makeā€”there are. Just small ones, thankfully, so far. No big plot holes yet.

Anyway, with the Old Guard already moving along, the time has come to open the doors a little bit, and extend a more open Alpha Call to those who are interested in experiencing such and helping with the Starforge Alpha Read.

Now, before you think “Aha! Free book!” or something similar, that’s not what an Alpha Read is. Though yes, you do get to read a title before it comes out, the point of Alpha Reading isn’t just to read it. The point is to perform an Alpha Reading. It’s an editing step with the aim of cutting out ambiguity, plot holes, checking to make sure the audience understands character motivations, etc etc. It’s not for typos or other small errors (those get cleaned in a Beta Read).

Nor is it “this author is asking me how I would write the book if I were going to write it, time to change the protagonists and plotline” (and if that seems hyperbolic to you, I’ve had multiple prospective Alpha Readers do exactly that). That’s not what Alpha Reading is. Alpha Reading is reading each chapter in succession, like one would the final product, and leaving comments like “This paragraph didn’t make sense to me. Who was speaking?” or “Hey, doesn’t this conflict with what was said earlier here?” or, at the end of a chapter, a summary of what worked, what didn’t, or both.

It’s a structural commentary, in other words. What’s working, and what isn’t? That way, I can go back and polish, tweak, and alter things until such concerns evaporate.

So, if you’d like to get an early look at Starforge by participating in this process, if the idea of being able to say to an author “Hey, I didn’t understand this bit based on the wording, can you change that?” sounds like something you’d wished you could do before … Well, now’s your chance. Leave a comment (the system requires contact info I can see, allowing me to contact you) and volunteer! I’ll set you up with a trial of the first few chapters (some quickly realize that Alpha isn’t for them) and if the experience is enjoyable, the rest of the chapters.

If you’re curious but currently busy, this will be the first of two Alphas. So there’s a chance at a future Alpha as well, and you can wait for the second round.

Anyway, leave a comment if you’re interested!