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!

News and the Usual Updates: Starforge, New Projects, Etc

Hey readers.

I acknowledge that there’s a bit of a pallor cast over the day for most people. Russia’s long-hinted at invasion of Ukraine is … Well, there’s no way to sugar-coat it. Unwelcome feels like too polite a word for things. Over there. I actually do have friends in Ukraine who’ve been watching things shift and slide, and so this latest development … All I can say is that I hope they’re okay.

As far as what Putin hopes to achieve with this naked aggression, I can only say that those who aspire to power will constantly crave it in any form they can find, and when that power starts to erode, desperate, foolish grabs become more and more appealing. Foolish grabs like starting a new war in Europe.

Anyway, I’m not deeply read-in on a lot of what’s currently going on over there, and furthermore with all the misinformation around the invasion it’s currently difficult to say what’s happening in the moment (side note: to all those uploading fake videos on youtube, twitter, and other sources to try and score internet karma off this war, you people are sick sick sick and I hope real karma catches you for it), it’s definitely clear that Russian armored forces and paratroopers are in the country and seizing territory.

Either way, I pray things conclude quickly and in the manner that’s best for the Ukrainian people and government (which, if you’re not clear, would mean Russia pulling out, just so there’s no misconception here).


With all this going on, it seems almost strange to suddenly kick back to “what I’m working on right now” but at the same time, I’m reminded of something Howard Tayler said while working on Schlock Mercenary after 9/11, which I’m definitely pulling from memory here, but was something along the lines of not letting the mire overwhelm and giving people something that could make them smile and laugh.

While don’t do comedy (at least, not nearly to the masterful level of Howard), I think there is wisdom in that idea. So yeah, update time. The world can’t stop, and all of us probably need something to take our minds off of what’s happening in eastern Europe.

So what’s the first big update? Starforge! A number of Alpha Readers are almost a quarter of the way through, and with that progress made, I plan to start making edits and changes to the material they’ve covered starting next Monday. Or possibly Tuesday, depending on how the short I’m working on now looks. I may do both for a few days, just so I don’t catch up to the Alphas that quickly.

Why wait? Why not immediately respond? Well first, I can edit faster than they can read. Second, I wanted to gain a larger consensus on a few things in the early chapters (and there’s still one Alpha Reader whose feedback I’m waiting for). And third, I didn’t want to be making daily changes in the moment until I’d had some time to think on what needs to change.

Because there are changes that need to be made. There are signs that I was pretty stressed when I wrote this. Already I can think of a very specific chapter that needs to be sanded, smoothed, and in general improved. A few minor inconsistencies—usually with characters repeating info—have been noted. In general there are just some minor issues that need to be fixed, but it’s sometimes helpful to mull on those fixes so that the solution is something refined, and not just immediately move to shore something up.

Anyway, Starforge Alpha edits for the first Alpha will start next week, so Alpha Readers, you have until then to get as much of a lead on me as possible. It’s likely I’ll go through the end of Part One, which most of you are close to anyway (and those who are not, now you know what to aim for).

Now, this isn’t all, so hit the jump, and we’ll talk about a few more bits, bobs, and updaves.

Continue reading

Being a Better Writer: How to “Find” a Lost Reader or Editor

Welcome readers, to another Monday installment of Being a Better Writer! I hope that your weekends were as full of fun and learning as mine was. By Saturday night, my brain felt like a rubber ball that had been stretched, twisted, and then turned into a pretzel before being bounced off of a few walls. This was largely due to information overload thanks to yet another excellent—I would even say stellar—Life, The Universe, and Everything writing symposium. There is no convention quite like LTUE out there in the world, and this year LTUE came back from the previous COVID year with a smash turnout and tons of newcomers eager to expand their writing skill and knowledge.

Yes, it was fantastic. The panels were incredible and covered a massive swath of topics (as you can see if you check out my post-LTUE writeups), the panelists themselves were excited to share their wealth of knowledge no matter how esoteric (and amazing), and the attendees were full of great questions and thirst for writing knowledge.

Top to bottom, absolutely fantastic. If you’ve never made it the LTUE and you’re at all interesting in improving the craft of your writing, you absolutely should put it on your calendar. If you couldn’t make it this year, that is a shame … but there’s always 2023 and beyond. Whether you’re a guest of honor, a panelist, or an attendee, LTUE is the place to be for writing knowledge and experience.

And yes, all copies of Axtara – Banking and Finance and Shadow of an Empire that were available in the vendor hall sold out. I really couldn’t ask for more! Though, if I may talk about my portion of that experience for a moment, there was more. One attendee stopped by the signing booth to tell me how much they had loved Axtara and couldn’t wait for more. Another individual stopped by the vendor booth selling it after buying it the night before to let the proprietor know (which was then passed on to me) that they’d stayed up late the night before reading it and had already almost finished it, and how much they loved it. And at my last panel of the conference, a fellow panelist pulled out her copy, slapped it down on the table next to me, and asked me to please sign it.

Okay, humblebrag over. And I wasn’t trying to brag, honestly. It was just … those were some great highlights from my weekend, and I wanted to share them.

And I guess yeah, if it encourages anyone to mosey on over to my book page and pick up a copy of Axtara or something else, well that doesn’t hurt either.

But enough pontificating! As awesome as LTUE is, we’ve got writing to talk about! And today we’re going to be answering a reader request regarding editors and readers, and what we as writers must do when they get lost.

So hit the jump, and let’s get learning.

Continue reading

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 make—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!

A Week for Good News: Alpha Reading Starforge, New Store Fronts, and More!

So this will make everyone chuckle a bit, I think. This week has been awesome. This News Post? Packed with cool stuff I’m about to inform you about. Save one minor quibble in why you’re hearing about it now, on a Thursday afternoon, possibly with questionable grammar.

Why questionable grammar? Well … the one low point of this week has been a nasty cold I was fighting off Monday which has since blossomed to consume my days. And don’t worry, I’m starting with this as both a “bad news first” sort of thing and an explanation for where I’ve been. The answer is “sick.”

Not COVID, thankfully. Just a nasty cold that’s left me rolling through tissues, achy, tired, and suffering from several days of constant headache. Good news though: Last night I slept until 2 PM, and as a result I’m feeling much better. I’m still fatigued, but the headache is gone and I’m seeing signs that all the crud is losing the battle. Huzzah! But this does mean this week was kind of a sick week (during which I pretty much slept).


Which is kind of a shame as so much awesome happened this week. I’ll start with the big one. The following link is to an item now listed for sale at Wal-Mart, so get ready. Here it is. Click it, and you’ll notice something that’s very big.

Yeah, that’s Axtara – Banking and Finance. Selling at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is now carrying Axtara. Want a copy? You can go get it at Wal-Mart.

This? This is awesome. Yes, Axtara is available at other bookstores, but Wal-Mart is a pretty big market. The fact that they’re carrying Axtara? AWESOME.

This could be why sales this week seem to have picked up from last week (another bit of good news). Wal-Mart is a big market. A lot of eyeballs roll through there. Their stocking Axtara is another milestone for me and a huge moment to be celebrated.

So, if you haven’t picked up a copy of Axtara yet, you’ve got a new option now. You can order it at Wal-Mart and pick it up with your groceries.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Axtara continues to soar.

There’s more cool news, so hit the jump!

Continue reading

Get Ready, Alpha Readers!

So today’s post is a little late. Can you guess why? It’s not much a guess, nor is it a trick question. If your answer was “Starforge” in any way, you’re right.

More specifically, it’s because this finale is lit. We’re talking full-speed, barely stop to breath awesome that is … let me check … over two-hundred pages long.

Oh don’t worry. That’s not bland “blow for blow” recitation. There is stuff happening here. This is awesome. Awesome enough that it’s kind of hard to pull myself away from it sometimes.

But not hard enough that I couldn’t duck over to make this post. Which is basically an overblown news post concerning two things, one obvious, one not. Well, three actually.

First things first, then: LTUE 2022 nears with each passing day! I just got notification that my books for the con bookstore have shipped and are on their way, which tells us all how near the event itself is. Next week I’ll do a full post of my panel schedule, as well as other panels I plan on attending, along with some other details for the convention for those that are going.

Hit the jump for the rest of the news, about both this Monday’s upcoming Being a Better Writer and the Starforge Alpha!

Continue reading

Being a Better Writer: What to do While Waiting for Feedback

Welcome back readers! I hope you had an enjoyable weekend! It was (mostly) a quiet one for me, though I did have family over to make enchiladas on Sunday (so nice and hot) which was an absolute blast.

So, what’s new with the news real quick? Well, we had the sale last week, and that went pretty well. Hopefully those of you who wanted to fill out your collections took the chance! Other news? Well, the first draft of Starforge is almost at 100,000 words, and once the latest chapter is done, I’ll be taking a day or two to blitz through the Beta 1 of Axtara – Banking and Finance and get that one step closer to publication. As well as take care of a few other things … But I’ll hold on news about those bit and bobs until they arrive.

So then, that’s the news and—wait, I almost forgot something. This post? It’s the last topic from Topic List #15. I’ve noted for a few weeks now that we’re running up to the end of this list, and that one should make ready their topic suggestions for list #16. That post will drop Wednesday, so definitely be ready!

Okay, that’s it! No more news! It’s time to talk writing! Or rather, what to do when you’ve stopped writing for a brief moment. Because today, readers, we’re tackling a long-requested reader topic and talking about what too do while waiting for that fickle beast of fickle beasts.

Feedback.

Continue reading

Axtara – Banking and Finance Alpha 2 Call!

Woooo! It’s time!

So, readers, as some of you may have noticed, the Alpha 1 for Axtara – Banking and Finance is complete! Boo-yah! Changes have been made, chapters have been tucked, etc etc. But now, as you may have guessed from the title, it’s time for a second Alpha.

This one will go a lot quicker than the first. The goal here is just to see the results of the changes made on a new test audience, one that hasn’t read the story before.

That’s it, really. The prior group was pretty thorough. But the changes that were made have to be tested by readers that are blind to the overall story. I’m not even going to tell them what those changes were or where they are. I’m just going to drop the story on them and wait it out.

So then, this is an invite call. Feel like reading a YA Fantasy novel? One that’s not a titanic epic (Axtara is only 122,000 words long, or about the average length of a novel). One that has a dragon as the protagonist, with a plot about opening a bank?

Yes, it’s very fresh and original. You know me.

Anyway, this is an open call for Alpha 2 readers. It’s going to be fast, and it’s going to be furious. If you’d like to give it a go, leave a comment.

Also, if you’re an artist named Chromamancer and feeling like you’ve changed your mind, you’re still my first pick!

Fireteam Freelance feedback post tomorrow!

EDIT: Oh, and if you are a Patreon Supporter, you should go check the Patreon page! There’s a little reward waiting for you …

Axtara – Banking and Finance Alpha Now Open, Plus Starforge News!

Yeah, I don’t have a cover for Axtara yet (working on it), so the cover for A Dragon and Her Girl will work as the featured image for now. Especially as Axtara takes place in the same setting as A Game of Stakes, which featured in A Dragon and Her Girl. So the two do connect a little!

Anyway, got an exciting news update for you here, readers! Those of you who can read the title have already deduced it, but I’ll repeat it here anyway: Axtara – Banking and Finance is now in Alpha!

Yep! Invites to previous Alpha Readers went out and replied to. How’s it going so far? Well …

One Alpha Reader finished the book within 15 hours of getting their invite. Yeah. It was almost non-stop.

In other words, I think a lot of you readers are going to love this one.

Second, if you’re a prior Alpha Reader but have not received an invite, check your inbox and make sure it didn’t get sent to spam or promotions or some other folder.

Now, with the influx of Alpha Readers received on this title, there’s not really a need for more Alpha Readers at this point … However, they can’t hurt. If you’re interested in being an Alpha Reader, have Alpha’d before or know what it entails, or would like to do a trial run, get in touch with me and we’ll see what we can do.

Other than that, I’m going to keep working on getting this cover done, and once a few more Alpha Readers get through Axtara, start polishing for Beta! Right now I’m planning on a late summer release, and it looks like that window will be neatly open.

There is one other item of note, however, before we hit the jump. Just an FYI sort of bit, but Axtara is only 122,000 words. So standard novel size compared to my usual far. But this also makes it small enough (hah!) to get a print run.

Surprise! More on that as we move closer to a release date. Now, hit the jump for some news on Starforge.

Continue reading

Being a Better Writer: Keeping Plots and Subplots Straight

Hello readers! Welcome back after a pretty long weekend! At least it was a long one here. Was it for you? Short or long, I hope it was good!

I also hope you readers enjoyed the latest episode of Fireteam Freelance and all its upsets! If you missed it, episode 8 is free on the Fireteam Freelance page, along with all the other episodes so far! As the word count for the series total just passed 170,000, that means Freelance is the equivalent of a free 500 page series. Full of action, explosions, and, well, more action for those who enjoyed Colony and Jungle.

For those of you who have read Colony or Jungle and not Freelance, have read some of Freelance and not Colony or Jungle, or none of them, you should be aware that while in the same setting, Freelance is very much a different genre of Sci-Fi from Colony or Jungle. You know, just so you don’t expect nothing but hard action from Colony or Jungle, or the deeper characterization of Colony and Jungle from Freelance.

Anyway … Enough about that. Let’s get down to things and get some work done, shall we? Let’s talk about today’s Being a Better Writer topic. Which most of you have known for a week now, as I mentioned it at the tail end of last week’s post on weaving subplots and plots together.

Yeah, that’s right, we’re still discussing subplots and plot relations. First it was how to lengthen a story out without padding it, then it was weaving those subplots and plots together, and now at last we reach the final bit of this reader requested topic: Keeping it all straight. Or, in other words, methods for making sure things don’t get twisted up, left out, or worst of all, leaving gaping plot holes in your work.

So, let’s dive in and talk about how to keep all your subplots and the main plot straight.

Continue reading