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!

The Sound of Silence

Yes, I know I’ve been pretty quiet this week. Fear not, it’s been for a good cause! Colony is on the edge of being done with its second Alpha. How much of an edge?

I’m literally doing the final run-through to make sure that all of the Alpha readers concerns have been addressed, taken care of, and/or fixed.

In other words, I’ve been silent for you guys … but not for them! They’ve been fielding message after message. “Does this look right? What about this? I rearranged this sequence, does it flow better now?” Etc.

But the good news, which you may have picked up on above? I’m on the final run-through. Problems have been fixed, plot quibbles patched up, science worked out … and I’m doing the final checks. Which means that Beta calls will probably start … tomorrow? Or Monday at the latest. Planning for two Beta reads, as usual. This also means that next week I need to start work on the cover. And (because I’m juggling two projects here) this also means that the first wave of Alphas for Shadow of an Empire can really start getting out there. So that’ll also start next week. Gotta make a few adjustments to the initial draft first, but …

Yes, I’m quiet, I know, and in the business of running a site that relies on content, that’s not always the best option, but thankfully I’ve got a lot of content in the archives to keep readers occupied.

Though if you are looking for something new to glance at for a few minutes while enjoying … well, whatever it is you’re doing when you bounce through your morning collection of sites (Coffee? Donuts? Stakeouts?), then you can take a look at Publisher’s Weekly‘s 2016 summary of the industry. Just … ignore the click-bait title (the article itself offers a solid and actually logical explanation of the same thing they try and social-outrage with in the title).

Anyway, if you’re interested in looking at some numbers in the industry concerning who holds what jobs and whatnot, it’s fun to look at. Useful? Well … depends on what you’re doing, but it is interesting to look over even if you’re not directly involved with it. It also does raise some uncomfortable questions (such as why there’s such a firestorm over male authors being more prevalent than female authors as an example of male sexism when about 80% of the publishing industry is women. Is the male-centric sexism really there? Etc), but feel free to contemplate those or ignore them on your own time.

Anyway, I’m back to work. Watch this space for updates.

Colony is coming soon!

Shadow of an Empire News!

So … just minutes ago, I typed out the final line of Shadow of an Empire.

That’s right. It’s done. After 14 straight hours of writing (one hour of which was finishing this week’s BaBW) and 13,000 words, Shadow of an Empire is officially a complete Alpha 1 draft.

Tomorrow, I will celebrate. Sands, I’ll do that right now! But it’s finally DONE!

So, some final numbers for those curious.

Final Wordcount: 254,272 words. 1,392,081 characters. 17,176 lines of text, with 6,348 paragraphs. Calculated out, that gives a rough page estimate of somewhere between 769 pages (using Amazon’s rough estimate) to 1,016 (using a different publisher’s estimate).

Timecount: I started midway into March, so … five months. Which is a little slower than average for me (but still above and beyond most writers; I may just be a little proud of this), but considering I’ve had a second, part-time job for three of those months, this is still pretty good. That’s an average of 14,100 words per week (again, with a second job; boo-yah!). I have no idea how many hours were spent at this. I almost don’t want to know.

Release window: And now the kicker. Here’s the goal: This year, before Thankgiving.

Tough? Sands, yes. But as of right now, I’m not starting any new writing projects (which would be Jungle, for those curious) until I get first Colony and then Shadow of an Empire released. Which means starting Thursday (tomorrow I celebrate), I plan hit Colony like a truck and go until it’s done. Alpha 2? Done. Beta 1? Done. Beta 2? Done … and publish!


Anyway, my hands hurt, so I’ll give you more updates as they come!

Being a Better Writer: The Process of Editing

Editing is a curious thing. Almost everyone agrees that it’s something a written work needs to have. But by the same token, it’s one thing that I’ve noticed that, in my time as an author, many people don’t actually agree upon or know much about what it entails. The most accurate consensus I could assemble from what I’ve read and heard from casual writers (not dedicated authors) or the average layperson is that editing is about making a written work better. It’s about fixing the mistakes.

Now, that doesn’t sound bad at all. But here’s the thing: What do people mean when they say “fixing the mistakes?” And that’s where the root of today’s topic comes from.

See, you’d be hard pressed to find a reader of books somewhere that wouldn’t make a case that editing is something a manuscript needs. But if you ask them what goes into editing, you’ll get something like “Well, you know, fixing errors and stuff.”

Yes. “And stuff.” While that’s an answer that makes sense and technically is accurate, it really doesn’t give the discerning writer much to go off of. After all, there can be a lot of errors in “stuff.” And this vagueness in turn makes it difficult for new writers, first-timers pushing out their skills to try and get their first manuscript together, to understand what they need to do to fix errors, or even what those are. It’s a bit like asking someone to fix a car and then, when asked what’s wrong with it, giving the answer “stuff.” Not only is it not helpful, but those who have worked on cars (or really, done any big tune-up project) know from experience that there are some things that matter more than others, or need to be done in a certain order.

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