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!

Shadow of an Empire Update

Hey readers! Dropping a small news update here for Friday afternoon to keep you updated on Shadow of an Empire‘s Alpha progress!

And the update is … It’s going well! I’m about halfway through cleaning up miscellaneous errors and fixing little plot niggles that slipped through, and so far the feedback from the Alpha Readers seems to be that it’s a fantastic story with fascinating characters, a cool setting, unique magic system, and fun plot. With, you know, minor Alpha stuff to fix here and there, which is the point of an Alpha after all. Making sure all the numbers add up, that there aren’t any lingering loose ends, etc etc.

Crud, two of them finished it in the first week. I’m playing catch up with the changes!

Bottom line, though, is that the Alpha is going well and it doesn’t appear that there will be a third Alpha, which means … Yes, Shadow of an Empire will be moving into Beta! Which, naturally, means that there will be openings for Beta Readers soon. Interested? Let me know. If you’re a prior Beta Reader, especially, as you guys are basically instant welcomes.

So, what does this mean in the long run? Well … it means that a release could come as early as, oh … Mid-April! No promises, but … that’s the goal!

Anyway, back to it! I need to get a bunch of chapters done today so I can get this into Beta!

More Alpha Readers Needed!

Hey readers! Just a quick post here but …

I need more Alpha Readers. A few of my old standbys are busy with life/college/etc and are unable to contribute at this time, and I’d really like to get a few more eyes on Shadow of an Empire before bumping it to Beta status. Right now, we’re sitting at one Alpha having already read through completely, and a few more working on it, but I’d like to get a wider net if possible.

If you’re interested, have the time, and up for an early look at an awesome Fantasy-Western, drop me a line. The sooner I get Shadow out, the quicker I’ll be able to start work on the next Dusk Guard book, since Hunter/Hunted is my next project …

Shadow of an Empire Editing Rolls On

Not much to say today, folks. Work on alpha editing Shadow of an Empire is rolling on, about halfway through the first pass now, and that’s been keeping me pretty focused. I’d forgotten how fun this universe was to play in. If you read the short story Ripper from Unusual Events, then you’ve already had an early taste of what Indrim has to offer. Shadow of an Empire is a lot bigger, though, being an epic novel. Ripper was just a short story. Still, if you’re looking for a preview of what’s coming and don’t want to support on Patreon, grab a copy of Unusual Events and pay close attention when you read Ripper. Might be you’ll see some faces from there in Shadow of an Empire …

Anyway, things are pretty quiet on the site front mostly because I’m just plugging away at the editing process. Oh, and Monday’s Being a Better Writer post is going to have to be on Tuesday, as I’ve got a long shift on Monday. So heads up!

Last but not least, I thought I’d throw out a comment made the other day on a discussion forum about books that turned to “High brow literature” versus “low brow literature,” as I feel it’s a good comparison. One poster was asserting that they only read “high brow” quality stuff, and none of the “low brow” stuff that’s popular and read in large numbers, because they wanted to “experience quality.” I made a comparison response that, I think, worked pretty well. Here goes, cleaned and trimmed a little.

Millions of people drive Toyota Corollas. They’re known for being a quality, dependable car that lasts and performs it’s purpose with simplicity that to most is elegant in its simplicity. It doesn’t need Walnut-trim door handles. It doesn’t need a special shifting pattern, or even a manual gearbox. It’s a car that does exactly what it’s supposed to do without any fluff or unneeded complexity.

Then you have something like a Rolls Royce or a Bentley. A “high quality” car designed with the purpose of “experience quality.” And sure, it might be nice to ride in one from time to time, but it’s a car with brakes that cost as much as a Corolla that the driver will never use. Walnut trim on the door handles that looks nice but otherwise adds little but the look. Suspension that confidently assures you that you’ll never feel a single moment of discomfort provided you keep the car on specific roads it’s meant to travel and not anywhere else (yes, read into that).

Point being it’s nice to ride in one occasionally, but much of what it is, while pretty, is superfluous to actually being a car. But you still have car enthusiasts that look down on Corolla drivers for not having a “quality car” like a Rolls Royce, Bentley, etc.

All they’re really doing half the time is spending ten times as much to make an otherwise simple journey in ostentatiously overblown “comfort,” away from “dangerous roads” and “lowbrow designs.”

IE there’s a time and place for a luxury ride in a nice car or with a high quality book, but don’t be fooled into thinking you’re somehow superior to the majority of Corollas out there delivering the same end-goal and scenery without the Walnut door handles.

I thought it was a pretty good comparison. Look, there is something nice about reading an overly verbose and flowery book once in a while, a title far more concerned with the flow of its language than the intelligence of its characters or plot. But you don’t need those things to have a good story, one that provokes thought or carries the reader down an unknown road (and often, the more “high brow” stuff sticks to the same roads repeatedly rather than going anywhere unexplored). Both can get you to the destination: one with “luxury experience,” the other with a bit of character and sometimes even some daring when it makes a detour off the normal path.

Anyway, back to work! Gotta get Shadow of an Empire ready for its big debut!

By the way, if you’re a prior Alpha reader, check your inbox for your Alpha Read invitation and get back to me. A couple of you haven’t responded yay or nay yet, so the invites are just floating in the limbo.

Alpha Invites and the December Patreon Supporter Reward

Hey readers. Max here with a pair of quick updates.

As of moments ago, the Alpha Reader invites to prior Alpha Readers have been sent out via e-mail for the Shadow of an Empire alpha! Check your inboxes. If you’re not a prior Alpha reader, but would be interested in becoming one, drop me a line with a rundown on what you know of the position and what you expect it to be like, and I’ll take a look.

Got it? Good. Shadow of an Empire is on its way at last! Woo!

Right, so second bit of news. Are you a Patreon Supporter? If so, hop on over to the posts page for, at last, the December Patreon Supporter reward! Yeah, it’s late. Jungle, remember? Anyway, this one’s a good one. An early look at the first three chapters of Shadow of an Empire. Yup. You can read the first 50 or so pages right now! What are you waiting for? Get going!

Not a Patreon Supporter? Well, that’s easily solved …

That’s it! Oh, and if you’re new enough that half of what was said here flew past in a blur of confusion, check out the Current Projects page to get caught up!