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.

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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.

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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.

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“A Trial for a Dragon” Alpha Reader Call!

Hello readers! As society breaks down outside your door, I’ve got good news! The kind that’s good enough for you to put down that bat you’ve been hammering nails int, and maybe even make you reconsider putting on those post-apocalyptic leathers for another day or so.

A Trial for a Dragon, my entry for Parliament of Wizards (more at the link if you’re lost) is now ready for Alpha!

Yes, it took a few days, even once the first draft was done. See, the submission limit where wordcount is concerned for Parliament is 17,500 words, and the first draft of Trial clocked in at around 19,960 or something like that. So clearly I had to do some cutting and trimming. A lot of cutting a trimming. Sands, I even rewrote the entire introduction, cutting out some elements and getting it down to about 1,500 words less.

If you’re a Patreon Supporter, by the way, the original, expanded introduction is a supporter reward, so it’s not gone forever.

What’s Trial about, you may ask? Well, I’ll leave that for the jump. First I want to make two details clear:

  1. It’s time for Alpha Readers to have a crack at it.
  2. Work on the next episode of Fireteam Freelance has begun.

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Jungle Alpha Call 2 and Hunter/Hunted Update

News post! Let’s dive right in!

So, first up, let’s talk about Jungle. For those of you for whom the name doesn’t breed instant recognition, Jungle is the sequel to Colony, that big Sci-Fi Epic I released a few years ago that was a smash hit. Jungle is currently in Alpha, and moving along at a steady clip. I’m still working on having this one out by the end of summer/early fall. Which means in the coming weeks I need to start working on the cover while the first cycle of Alpha readers finish making their way through it.

I can already tell it’s going to be good. I’m getting Alpha read notifications at four and five AM, and the tension of readers as they make their way through the chapters is ratcheting up (I know this because I get comments). So far it’s looking pretty good.

However, I do want to widen the pool a bit. So I’m opening up a second Alpha call for Jungle. I’m looking for a few more Alpha readers willing to run through it in its current state and take a look.

Alpha Reading, though. Not Beta. For those of you not familiar with the editing process, Alpha Reading is not concerned with typos or the like. Alpha Reading is about the big things. Does the plot make sense? Did this chapter drag? Was this chapter exciting? What are predictions for the upcoming chapters? Was this concept adequately explained or was it confusing?

Beta, which comes later, is all about the typos and whatnot. Because there’s no sense in fixing them if the “fix” is in a section that may be rewritten.

But Jungle is still very much in Alpha right now.  Chapters are still open to being modified extensively, even with whole sections rewritten if needed (though that hasn’t happened yet; at most there’s just some trimming and small rewrites).

So, if you’re interested in playing a part in the Alpha of Jungle, leave a comment or contact me through the usual channels. The most headlong of the current Alpha readers is about halfway through, so you’d probably be able to catch up.

Commitment warning: The current draft of Jungle is about 456,000 words. Yes, that is gargantuan. Even longer than Colony (there’s a reason for it, I swear). So yes, it is a significant time investment. On the other hand, you will get to read the whole work before it ever comes out (please don’t spoil it for those who are waiting eagerly for the release) and be able to offer feedback that can help polish that final release.

So again, if you’re interested, fire me a line via the usual methods. If you’re new, I’ll set you up with a few chapters to cut your teeth on, and if you’re a returning Alpha Reader from before who now has the time, welcome back!

Now, that’s it for Jungle news. Well, almost. Just let me express how awesome this story is. I don’t want to spoil anything but if you enjoyed Colony you’re going to love this, and be taken for a surprising ride as well.

I’m not going to say anymore than that. Now. on to Hunter/Hunted.

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Jungle Races Forward

I know that I’ve been kind of quiet lately. Two posts per week, one of them Being a Better Writer. But there’s a good reason for it.

Jungle is surging forward. And I mean racing. I’ve been throwing a lot of work into it as it has entered the Alpha, and currently, that means I’m getting about 20,000-30,000 words of it edited per day,

Yeah. Blasting. Granted, it’s a 457,000 word draft. But I’m over the halfway point currently. Another week, week and a half, and it’ll all be done.

By which I mean my pre-Alpha edits will be done, and the full book will be up for the Alpha readers. So I won’t have to worry about them catching up.

Speaking of which, if you’re a prior Alpha Reader for Colony and still waiting for your invite, check your e-mail box. The invites are out.

But anyway, until that point, I’m probably not going to be posting too much on here outside of Being a Better Writer for maybe another week, unless something really out of place happens. Just reassuring you guys that the silence means I’m hard at work, rather than mysteriously absent.

However, I will take this opportunity to plug Colony, since the sequel’s release is going to be soon. If you’ve not picked up this Sci-Fi Epic and found out why so many have called it one of the best Sci-Fi stories they’ve read in years, now is pretty much a good time to pick it up and start working your way through before Jungle hits later this year!

Go ahead! Grab a copy!

As for me? I’m going to get back to work. Have a great weekend!

Jungle Early Alpha Read Invitation Sent Out!

Hey readers! If you’re here looking for the latest Being a Better Writer post on knowledge and inspiration, that’s here.

This is just a short, heads-up post that Early Alpha Read invites have been sent out for Jungle! That’s right, if you’ve been a long-time Alpha Reader, check your e-mail inbox!

For those who are seeing this post in passing, Jungle is the much-anticipated sequel to Colony a Sci-Fi Epic following … oh just click the link. 99% of the readers on this site are already familiar with it. If you’re part of the 1% who hasn’t read it, solve that! Then you’ll be ready for Jungle when it hits later this year. Continue reading

More Alpha Readers! Plus News.

Hey folks! Max here with a bit of an interesting request from an Alpha Reader on A Game of Stakes.

See, I’ve got some folks going over it, picking through things, etc etc. So far, the majority response has been overwhelmingly positive, which is awesome. There are a few things to clean up and wrinkles to iron out (the ending needs a little adding), but overall I’ve already been told by a few that it’s hands-down one of the favorite things they’ve read from me.

Which is awesome. One reader however, did stand very firmly on what they see as a very large misstep and issue with a character. I disagree, and no other pre-readers have said anything about it, but there’s always a chance that there’s a grain of truth to it.

Hence? A SECOND Alpha Reader call! I want to get some more eyes on it and see if anyone else brings up the same “issue.” Personally, I doubt it, but in the interest of polish polish polish I’d rather get some more eyes on things just too see.

Crud, I won’t even say what the issue is. This is going to be 100% blind. Which doesn’t mean I want Alpha Readers that make a problem. No, that’s not the goal here. The goal is the same as any other Alpha Read: Read through and look for Alpha issues (plot errors, awkward segments, etc) all as normal. If someone else brings the same issue up, then it needs a serious look. If not … well, some things truly are opinion.

A Game of Stakes is only 15,000 words, so it won’t take too long to read through. Plus, it’s got a dragon, which is always a bonus, right?

If you’re interested in Alpha Reading, do the usual thing and contact me, and we’ll see about hooking you up with an Alpha invite.


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Shadow of an Empire Beta Call!

I know I said there would be a news post on Tuesday. And then that … got derailed by a lot of work. As did Wednesday, as I was half-dead from lack of sleep and honestly didn’t trust myself to rub two sentences together.

But after a long, hibernation-like sleep, I am ready to deliver the news that, you’ve all guessed by now from the title. Shadow of an Empire is going into Beta! Which means it’s time for the Beta Reader Call!

See, the Alpha Readers are done with Shadow, and I’m simply catching up with their changes and revisions, which I should be done with in another day or so.

They liked it. Quite a bit. Suffice it to say, it’s a pretty wild adventure, the Alpha Readers loved the universe, magic, and setting, and they were quiet pleased with everything that went down. No major changes were needed, thankfully, though as you would expect, there were a number of minor changes, tweaks, and small sections where things were polished a bit. All in all though, it was a pretty clean draft.

But all that is bringing me back around to the point. The point, readers, is that it’s time for the Beta Reader Call! That’s right, Shadow is about ready for the Beta Read, which means I’m looking for some Beta Readers!

Those of you who have Beta Read before (you know who you are) are automatic shoe-ins. I should still have your contact information in my master reader file, so even if you don’t leave a comment, you should be getting an e-mail in the next few days as Shadow breaks out of Alpha.

Now, what about those of you who before have not done Beta Reading but are looking to hop in? Wondering what Beta Reading is? Well, it’s pretty simple: It’s typo and error hunting. The plot’s been polished, the paragraphs keyed in. Beta reading is about finding misplaces apostrophes, accidental capitals, misspelled words … all the nitty-gritty detail stuff. Typos, functional errors, misplaced letters, double-punctuation … all that jazz.

Once that’s done, Shadow of an Empire goes into the copyedit … and from there … it gets listed and gains a release date, and I can start working on The Dusk Guard: Hunter/Hunted.

So, interested in being a Beta Reader, former or new? Drop a line or a comment. It’s time to get this book out!