Weekly Update: Starforge and Other Things

I feel like for this announcement I should be climbing up on a mountain outcropping and shouting “BEHOLD!”

Yesterday, after thirty days of grueling work, I finished the first Beta Pass for Starforge. And grueling almost doesn’t describe it. I have now read through Starforge … five times, I think? I’m starting to lose track. And that’s just start to finish, in-depth reads, over the last few months. There’s still the “Oh, check this chapter again” reads, the rereading of a paragraph, several times, to check changes, aloud and silent …

Point being I’ve read it a lot lately. And there’s still at least one more full read-through to go. So … what is the status right now?

Well, today I’m taking a day off. I’ve been regularly up editing till past 1 AM several nights a week for the last few weeks, and I am exhausted. So I’m taking today to just rest and not be editing for a little while. Just for one day. As much as my mind is whirling and whizzing on “Okay, gotta check that” and “Ooh, make sure too …” I need a day off. Thirty days of grueling double-checking of every comma, period, and apostrophe, word by word, across a 500,000 word draft is … a lot. Thinking back to the Being a Better Writer post on Mental Health, I need to let some pressure out of my pressure cooker before my brain overloads.

This isn’t bad news, mind. I’m not trying to paint it as such either. This is good news. I’m still on track to get Starforge out in November thanks to all this work. It might be late November, but then to be fair so it was with Colony and Jungle.

So what’s next, then? Well, tomorrow (not today, despite my itch to jump right in) I’m going to go over the Beta Reader feedback, taking each of those catches and doing a master comparison against the whole manuscript. Plus there are a few checks of my own I want to make as well, things I caught but want to make certain I didn’t miss any instances of (for example, yesterday I caught a single instance of “steeping” instead of “stepping” and found on a search one other instance of it in the book). I want to recheck a few of the larger chapters, or those that saw heavier edits and may still have “shrapnel” (my term for when a paragraph or section gets cut up or rewritten but old stuff gets missed, put in the wrong place, etc). Anything I might have missed when I was up until 1 AM editing, or because I was enjoying an action sequence a little too much to be paying attention, etc etc. You get the idea.

That’ll probably take a few days. Once that’s done however, and I’m satisfied with how clean the draft is … It’ll be time for the copy edit. Yes, that means putting in a Table-of-Contents, an introduction, all the copyright stuff, etc etc. It also means that I will be sending out an e-mail to all Alpha and Beta Readers who participated, both for acknowledgement in the book itself and for figuring out where to send their complimentary copies once the release hits.

But … it also means that once I’m officially going over the Copy-Edit, something else can happen. The pre-order can go up, because I’ll be able to set a release date.

That might happen—I’m not setting anything in stone yet—next week. While it may not, I can say this: We’re getting very close.

Which is going to be a relief to me. Starforge has been a major stressor for me. I’m ready to finish this project and do some smaller, lighter things for a while. Like another Jacob Rocke novella. And the next Axtara book.

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The “Ikea of Games” and Why Axtara is Such a Success

Hey writers! Got a short post for you today. Yesterday, after I wrapped up Being a Better Writer and started on some chores I had to take care of, I finally put on a video that had been sitting in my watch-later queue for quite some time and was immediately struck by the lessons in the video that apply to writing.

Specifically, this video explains why Axtara has been such a success, flying so far so quickly. As some of you might have gathered, sales numbers have been on my mind lately, as I’m pushing to reach that “10,000 total sales in ten years” number after finding out how close I was about a month ago.

Anyway, before I pontificate too much further, I’m going to link embed this video and encourage any of you writers who are looking at or wondering about your own sales numbers to take a look. This talk was given at the 2017 Game Developers Conference, or GDC, and so while it’s talking about lessons one can take towards game development from Ikea, it actually applies incredibly well toward writing and selling books. Give it a watch below the break.

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The Friday News and Such

Hey there everyone! It’s time for a news post, keeping you all up to date on what’s going on and all. But this week we’re going to start off with an odder bit of news that’s less to do with writing and more just to do with the personal goal of me getting healthier.

Back in the end of June I picked up a Fitbit. I did this with the goal of measuring my workouts and tuning them to be more effective. To that end, I will say I was shocked with some of the results. Some of the routes I was following that I assumed would have been decent workouts were, in fact, not that great, and some of the routes that “common sense” would have said weren’t that great were actually my best in terms of caloric burn and cardio.

The power of a little data, right?

Anyway, there was a little bump in the middle where I got sick and lost a week of workouts while eating … not so great food … but the result is that currently I am, since June, down about thirteen pounds, and still heading further down.

Now that’s nice to have lost, isn’t it. It’s not a shock diet, or a carb fast, or anything like that. It’s just having metrics and a willingness. Well, and the bike. The holiday pounds are on their way out!

I know it’s not super impactful when it comes to the site, unless that lost weight will somehow help me write faster (I doubt it, personally), but it is something that I’m very happy to be able to see progression on, day after day.

With that said, I’ve got more news for people, and more tangential to the focus of the site, so hit that jump!

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Starforge Updates and Other Things!

Hey there folks! I know, it’s been a slow week, hasn’t it? Monday was a holiday, and I’ve really not said much since then.

But that’s because things haven’t actually been that slow. In fact, for me they’ve been very busy! And for the Alpha Readers of Starforge‘s Alpha 2!

That’s because as you’ve largely surmised, that’s what I’ve been hard at work at. And things are booming. Currently, I’m rewriting the majority of chapter 15, as it needed a severe cleaning, and about halfway through that chapter. Chapters 1-14 are up for the Alpha crowd, and I’ve been seeing comments crop up … though not that many given the work done on the other passes.

Will this be the last Alpha? Or will I go for a third? Can’t say, honestly. As I’ve stated before, this being the last book of the UNSEC Space trilogy (and yes, I will reaffirm that this is the end of the story started in Colony; no secret “surprise” extra book here) I want it to be as spiffy and shiny as I can make it for you all. So will it get a 3rd Alpha?

Maybe. We’ll have to see. But at the current pace, with my editing speed and the speed of the Alpha Readers (seriously guys, you’re rocketing along!) the Alpha 2 could be done this month.

And that would be awesome.

So yeah, Starforge‘s second Alpha is off to a rolling start, with several readers already racing to catch up to me at my rewrites … Though once chapter 15 is done, my pace will likely increase to what it was before I got slowed rewriting most of a chapter.

Though if any of you Alpha readers want to impatiently knock at my “door” by catching up, you’re welcome to try!


Now, moving onto related news … The rest of the UNSEC trilogy seems to be getting some attention over the last few months. Colony has continued to collect reviews since hitting the big five-zero, with much positive applause. Accordingly Jungle has followed suit, picking up new five-star reviews as well. The world is getting ready for Starforge! And when it hits …

Of course, Colony‘s star status is closer and closer to being challenged, as Axtara – Banking and Finance is currently outselling it. Granted, Colony is quite a bit older and Axtara is new, but the banking dragon is doing her best to unseat the adventures of Jake, Anna, and Sweets at the top spot. Though in fairness, Colony has quite a lead … but Axtara is winging hard to catch up.

I can only imagine once I get a sequel out things will really start to heat up.


Other than that, I’ll go light with the news. New Being a Better Writer Monday, as usual. For now, everyone enjoy your weekend, and get some reading in!

Oh, wait, I do have one last bit of news. Absolutely zero individuals expressed an interest in Ko-Fi support on the site. So unless you’re one who was interested but didn’t speak up, for now I think that’s going to be tabled indefinitely unless you do speak up. Speak now in the comments, or forever hold your peace!

Have a good weekend everybody!

News! The Alaska Trip, Upcoming Alpha Call, Axtara Fan Art, and More!

Heyo readers! How are things going on your side of the screen?

Things over here are … busy, to put it lightly. Last week I edited 168,000 words, and I’ve already put a solid effort in this week on another 60,000. Haven’t even started today yet (because sadly I cannot edit and write this news post at the same time, though if I could …).

But one of the things that I need to be busy with is this news post! Because I’ve been AFK for five weeks (not counting last week), and the news continued to pile up during that time. So I’ve got some stuff to drop for everyone. Including, yes, you read that title correctly, Axtara fan-art that I received while I was in Alaska.

But we’re going to talk about that in a bit. First, let’s talk about the Alaska trip. Now, unlike last year I’m not going to dedicate a whole post to this. Last year was a special occasion, and in addition had much more eventful happenings (like the killer whale pod that checked us out). This trip was more sedate by comparison. With a few exceptions.

Which isn’t to mean I didn’t get some pictures. A friend of mine asked me to snap some pictures for them, and I obliged, sending them a decent-sized dump when I was back on the grid. Though, just in fairness, these are all quick snaps, unlike some of the pictures I took last year. They’re still solid pictures, but they’re not professional in any sense, and I say that with even more emphasis than last year.

I didn’t even have any pictures of wildlife this time. What exposures we had were brief and over far too quickly to get a picture. With one exception, which was when we were pulling a set that was following a beach, while further out from some whales that were playing or feeding at the beach.

There are no pictures or video of this. We had our hands full. And there wasn’t much to see outside of occasional spouts as both took a breath and went back to whatever it was they were up to. But it was a neat counterpart to our work for a good half-hour, since we were keeping time up the beach.

Okay, with that disappointment of no footage for all of you, here are the pictures I took. Consolation prize, right?

Yes, that is a barge in the last picture. Hauling trains. Well, train cars anyway. Portions of a train? Trainlets? Carriages?

You get the idea. The rest is just scenery, which is usually what I was able to find time to capture pictures of.

So, here’s a quick question for you (which some of you might have wondered about): Why did this trip take me five weeks? I’d of course warned it might take that long, but why did it?

Well … the correct answer is equipment failure. There’s a lot of equipment you need for fishing, and one of those is a very vital piece of machinery that I’ve always called a “depth finder” though I’ve also heard it referred to as a “depth sounder” or in a term that dates the user, “color machine.”

Basically, this neat little device bounces signals off of the seafloor and displays the result on a screen, telling you both how much water you have between the bottom of your boat and the seafloor (more than zero is ideal) and, if you know what you’re looking at, the condition/material of that floor.

When you’re fishing on the bottom, this information is vital. Which is why it’s really bad if you’re about to set out from the harbor and the depth finder will not function.

Long story short, the boat needed a new one, which meant finding a new one, ordering a new one, waiting for it to arrive, and then installing it. All of which royally wrecked the schedule. On the plus side, I had a sudden abundance of days with which I got to just read and catch up on the fat stack of books I’d been holding onto.

But yes, as to why it took five weeks instead of three? That’s why. Thankfully, I’d guessed that something like it might, and prepped the site accordingly.

Now, this wasn’t the only disaster that occurred on this trip. There was a brief but very exciting incident with one of our holds losing, shall we say, containment, and dumping hundreds of gallons of water into a particular place that water should not have been, resulting in very bad things happening aboard the boat until we figured it out. That story, however, does deserve its own telling, and so I won’t post it here.

Besides, we’ve got more news to get to, including some Axtara fanart to see. So hit that jump, and let’s talk about what else is coming down the pipeline.

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Someone Please Tell Them …

EDIT: Someone told them. Upvote it so they see it!

So this morning, browsing around, I stumbled across this post on Reddit.

Yes. This is a summation post from someone who reviews cozy, whimsical, slice of life Fantasy books, noting all their recent and favorite reads and, unsurprisingly, on the hunt for more (because who isn’t always on the hunt for more books.

Do you notice what’s missing from that list? I do.

Yeah, there’s no Axtara on there. It’s not even listed or recommended.

Now, I can’t go on there and post about it. This particular sub has very precise rules about self-promotion (with, last I checked, a select exceptions). And they do, to their credit, do a halfway decent job of connecting Reddit accounts to actual authors.

But that list is missing a vital entry. This reader/reviewer clearly has never heard of Axtara – Banking and Finance or it’s many charms.

So, I’m calling on all of you who have a Reddit account (because that is allowed). Someone please go tell this reader what they’re missing out on. Especially when they’ve got Dealing with Dragons: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles on that list, and another story about a young dragon who leaves home to make their way in the world (but sadly, both for the plot and the drive, becomes a human ASAP).

Rare is there a list begging for Axtara to show up in such force. Someone please, for the love of literature, post and let them know that?

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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