Read the First Three Chapters of Axtara – Banking and Finance for Free!

Hey, did you know that if you’ve been curious about whether or not you’d enjoy a tale about a dragon setting out to open her own bank—the very tale contained within the pages of Axtara – Banking and Finance—then you can read the first three chapters absolutely free?

That’s right! The first three chapters, free to read, no strings attached, in your browser. So you can read it on your device, be that tablet, phone, or if you’re really going for the Jetsons look, your smart watch. Properly formatted and everything!

No strings. No catches. Just three chapters of the dragon Axtara and her lifelong dream of owning her own bank.

We even make it easy for you. Just click the cover below, and three chapters of free, cozy adventure with Axtara will open in a browser tab. Enjoy.

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.

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LTUE 2022 Writeup – Day Two!

Hello readers! I’m back! Day two of LTUE has drawn to a close, and I have excellent news!

So, this LTUE has a stock of my books for sale. Or rather, I should say, had. Yesterday they’d asked if I wanted to come by the booth and watch things and help upsell my stock. So I showed up today in the morning when I had a spot of time … and was informed that they had sold out of Shadow of an Empire and only had a few copies left of Axtara – Banking and Finance.

By the end of the day? Well, I don’t actually know since I was at the signing, but a number of people swept by my booth looking for copies, so … Perhaps not!

As you can imagine, this left me in a pretty good mood, which only got better as I went through the rest of the day. Day two I didn’t have any panels to present on, so instead I attended a number of panels, though the number was less than the day before because there were two two-plus hour events I attended (one the signing, the other a longer than average panel you’ll read about below). Still, as always the panels I attended were awesome and loads of fun atop being informative and interesting.

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

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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!

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2021 in Review: Another Year Passes By

Welcome back readers! I have returned from my staycation!

Actually, I did travel a little this Christmas, though nothing that involved any sort of flight (or it probably wouldn’t have happened). I’ve got a new nephew, and he is adorable. Point being, it wasn’t entirely a staycation. But hey, close enough. Sands, I even got a 12-hour multiplayer game of Stellaris in at one point. That was an experience!

So, I’ll bet a lot of you were hoping for a new Being a Better Writer post to drop today, but I have a confession to make: We’re going to be waiting one more week. Yes, my staycation is over today, and I’m going to be getting back to work as soon as this post is over, but I’m going to hold off on a new BaBW post in favor of this post: A look back at the year prior! What happened? What did I get done? How did the site perform? What were the new releases, if any? How were book sales?

As always, there’s a reason for this kind of summation. First is to take in how my work really performed and gauge that against what it could be or what I might want to make it. Second is to see what new goals I need to set. All, of course, while keeping you readers informed. So, let’s talk about 2021.

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Weekend News (A Quick Post to See You Through)

Hello readers! Max here with a quick update/news post. First and foremost, if you’d like a preview of my weekend …

That’s right, the paperback proof for Shadow of an Empire arrived this week! And it’s a hefty chonk! With no remorse I placed it on a kitchen scale to bring you the exact weight: two pounds, one ounce!

That is a big novel. And that’s about a hundred pages less than Colony would be. Jungle would, by the same scale, be almost four pounds. Assuming it could even be bound.

Anyway, I’ll be spending the next little bit working on getting that finalized and ready for shipping! Just in time for … Halloween, I guess? Who doesn’t love a good Western in the fall?

Hit the jump for a few other updates on things, including Starforge news!

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Getting Back in the Swing of Things

Hey folks! It’s time for a news update!

So, what’s new? Well, after spending all of last week save a day sick (seriously, gnarly cold), this week has been more of a return to form. Writing, working, and all the usual once more.

So what’s there to talk about? Well, for starters, this week saw Axtara – Banking and Finance grab a few new 5-star reviews, both of which were full of praise. Take a look!

The second one kind of makes me laugh a little because it reminds me of my favorite C.S. Lewis quote, but hey, they loved it anyway and still gave it 5-stars! Axtara really is a great success. The titular dragon herself would be proud, I think. And a little mortified that everyone’s reading about her life, but that’s most fiction.

Speaking of Axtara, I once again want to float the idea of Axtara t-shirts out there. Right now I’m thinking something with a slogan on it. Sort of like “Banking shouldn’t be a drag …” on the front, and “… so I do my banking with a dragon. Axtara – Banking and Finance!” You know, something goofy like that, as if Axtara herself were actually handing out promotional t-shirts at a job fair somewhere in hopes of drumming up business (she probably would).

I’ve never done t-shirts before, but especially if they’re just text on a color, they couldn’t be that tricky, difficult or (hopefully) expensive, right? Anyway, right now I’m just trying to gauge interest, so as before leave comments in the affirmative if you’d be interested in an Axtara t-shirt!

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OP-ED: I Have a Confession to Make – I Can’t Stand Dragon-Rider Books

So the other day I was on Amazon, doing the usual bit of browsing, when I spotted one of those little advertisement bars that Amazon uses to get eyeballs on products by advertising things “like” what you’ve purchased or are interested in. To what should be no one’s surprise, Amazon has figured out that I like the book Axtara – Banking and Finance. Which isn’t exactly true, since I love that little book and its characters. Like isn’t a strong enough word.

Anyway, naturally I browsed this little recommended section because hey, I love Axtara, and Amazon thought these books were similar. It’s not always right, but I’m always down for a good dragon book, so I gave it a look. Even clicked on one that from the title, looked a little promising. Lots of reviews, high rating, all about dragons—

Oh wait. Scratch that. It wasn’t about dragons, but about dragon riders. That’s right, yet another book where dragons, intelligent or not, are reduced to glorified flying horses for a surely-not-just-like-every-other-fantasy-protagonist human.

To borrow from River City Ransom: BARF!!!

Look, I’ve always enjoyed dragons, ever since I was a kid. But I never enjoyed books about dragon riders (with one exception) because, well, honestly they never go past the trope. Again, with that one exception. The dragons are just mounts. Spiny, scaled, flying mounts that may or may not breathe fire. Worse, often they’re intelligent, as in fully sapient, but just fine living in a stable, being treated like a beast of burden, and generally only talking so that the protagonist has someone to talk to to reassure them that they’re “doing the right thing” or whatever.

Does it not bother anyone that a massive swath of dragon books involve treating a sentient being like a piece of property? If the dragon were human, we’d call it “slavery” and YA Twitter would descend with torches and pitchforks to burn that author’s career to the ground … even if the book were about how wrong it was and how the cast overcame it or fought against it.

But hey, if they’re not human, that makes it “okay” I guess. Sure, buy and sell the sapient species. They’re made to be mounts anyway! It’s what the universe intended!

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Guess Who’s Back?

Hello readers! Guess who’s returned?

Yeah, I know. It’s not much of a guess. And I’m not quite 100% back yet. Physically, I’m back at my home at long last (after nearly four weeks of being away), so that’s not a worry. But as to the other kind of physically, I’m still pretty sore and tired. My fingers feel like they’ve been through the wringer, as do my hands and wrists. But hey, I can make a fist when I first wake up now so that’s progress! During the trip, at one point they were sore and swollen enough I could only just get my fingers to touch my palms when I woke up.

So I’m going to take another day or two. Oh, and this Monday there will not be a Being a Better Writer post. Why? Because when setting up the posts in advance, I completely missed that the last Monday I prepped for was Labor Day, a holiday I normally take off. Oops. So next Monday (this coming week) there won’t be a traditional post.

Which isn’t to say that there won’t be a post. No, far from it! Monday instead will see a compilation post of the last few weeks. Why? Because quite frankly a lot of people depend on ads and feeds to keep up with Being a Better Writer each week, and a number of those are manual. So quite a few people were just waiting for the notification to pop up rather than spend the time going to the site itself.

I get it. I’m not ragging on them. So this post will deliver to them all the content they may have been missing for the last four weeks.

After that? Well, I do have a large post coming. See, I took a lot of pictures this time. And video! Of some seriously awesome stuff that happened while I was in Alaska. Seriously, this trip made memories. I’ve never been as close to a killer whale (orca) pod as I came this trip. And when I say close, I mean they were close enough I could have hopped over the side of the boat and landed on one.

That close. And I got video. And pictures.

So yes, there will be a big post coming next week. But not Monday. And … I’m not actually sure when during the week either.

Why? Well, because something else happened while I was in Alaska. Something big. Something awesome.

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All the News That’s Relevant

Hey there readers! Max here with a news post about, well, everything!

First up, unless otherwise pleaded with, the current plan for next week’s live Being a Better Writer Q&A is to have it at 3 PM Mountain Time. Like last time this will last about an hour, and will be conducted over the Unusual Things discord server, The Makalay Camp.

Yes, of course that’s a reference. Anyway, look forward to that this Monday, and start thinking of questions and topics! Not just for the Q&A, of course, because—


Being a Better Writer is in need of topics! That’s right, we’ve reached the end of list #17, and Topic List #18 now sits atop my desk, ready to slowly fill with topic after topic on the arts of writing for the next installments of Being a Better Writer.

Which means after the live Q&A is over, the time will arrive once more for a BaBW Topic Call post to go up! I’ve got some new topics I’ve already been putting on there (such as one on diction and dialogue) but as always there are an endless number of writing topics to choose from, so if there’s something that’s on your mind that you’d like answered, discussed, or talked about in some manner, jot it down and get ready! If you don’t have one off the top of your head, that’s fine. You’ve got time. Sleep on it, and wait for the post to arrive.


Now, let’s talk about Starforge for a moment. Starforge, the grand finale to the trilogy started with Colony and Jungle, is now in the last 90% of the draft. Yes, I am in the midst of the final battle.

And it is awesome. No spoilers, but it’s the climax of everything that the series has been leading up to. For Pisces, for Jake, Anna, and Sweets … even for Earth and humankind.

So once I’m done here, I’ll go right back to working on that because, you know, finale. It’s living in my head right now and pretty much an epicenter of my focus. It needs to be done.

Which raises an important question: What will I do when it’s done? Will the Alpha Reading call possibly be sent out next month?

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