Friday News Post!

Wow, it’s been silent this week, hasn’t it? There was Monday’s excellent—in my opinion, anyway—Being a Better Writer post and then just … silence. Nothing on Tuesday, which is normal. But then nothing on Wednesday or Thursday either.

Well, it’s not because I wasn’t busy. Alpha Readers from the Second Alpha for Starforge have continued onward, with I believe two in the final quarter of the book, the rest of the Alpha Readers coming up behind them. I’ve been getting steady, consistent feedback, but it has been largely positive thus far with only a few minor things rearing their head. A majority of which seemed centered around the chapter that saw the most rewrites, all concerning smoothing rather than major changes so … Yeah! Things are looking good! As the Alpha team gets further and further, my confidence grows that there will not be an Alpha 3, but a graduation into BETA!

Which does imply that those of you that have been Beta Readers in the past should feel the anticipation growing. Starforge is inching closer to being in your hands! The Beta Read’s time nears!

But there’s another meaning with that as well. Because usually in the industry, once a book is in Beta, that’s when preview copies start going out. And this time? I am looking at sending out digital copies once the Alpha is over and done with to interested reviewers who wouldn’t mind taking a look at the grand finale and seeing how everything shakes out … As well as, of course, maybe dropping some early reviews for the book before it hits.


All awesome, right? But that’s both what others have been doing and what’s coming. What have I been up to the last few days?

Well, I haven’t been writing, save Being a Better Writer and, well, now this post. Though I do have another short story for More Unusual Events bubbling in the back of my head involving a mermaid that’s found a new hobby in bird-watching … But that’s for tomorrow’s writing (the day, incidentally, that you’ll see this post). What have I spent my entire Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday on?

Something very Starforge related. See, with the Alpha 2 reading moving along at a good clip, before I started going over the chapters every Alpha Reader has made it through … I’ve been sitting at my desk with a copy of GIMP open, clicking away and balancing colors.

That’s right, people, the Starforge cover reveal is coming.

Not today. Not in this post. I want to let what I’ve got sit for a bit and see how I feel about it. Previously I’ve withheld from having cover quotes on the cover of my book (after all, I like the art to stand out), but I’m waffling a bit here with this cover.

But it looks good. Those of you who are in the Discord have seen some previews already. As have those of you who are Patreon Supporters. It took me a few days (because I’m not a graphic designer, though I’m certainly learning a lot of the same skills), but I’m pretty happy with what’s resulted right now.

Does it look cool? Yes it does. Very cool. Very striking. Very prime.

And this one? I think I will do a 4K background for it. You’ll see why when the image itself finally arrives.

More news on that next week.

With that, I’m out of news! Enjoy your weekend, people!

Starforge is coming.

OP-ED: In Defense of the “Fiction” in “Science-Fiction”

“I can state flatly that heavier than air flying machines are impossible.”

—Lord Kelvin, not long before the flight at Kitty Hawk.

So for starters, I’m not sure how long this post is going to be. Additionally, it was sort of unplanned and very spontaneous (definitely a clear target for the “Disorganized Thoughts” tag).

But … I wanted to say it anyway. Some of you might be curious as to where this post is coming from, and so I’ll start there. In what I’m sure is a surprise to almost no one, I do tend to frequent or at least dwell occasionally in online Sci-Fi hangouts. I’ve talked about r/PrintSF before here on the site (at least, I’m fairly certain I’ve mentioned it at least once, but I know it’s been brought up in the Discord), and it’s not the only location I’ve spent time on online that discusses Sci-Fi in all its various forms.

As I said, I’m sure none of you are surprised by this. But in my spending time in these locations, discussing books, films, games, and other Sci-Fi, I have run across a number of opinions. Most of these are the fairly classic fare, such as “Kirk VS Picard” and “Peaceful aliens VS hostile aliens VS unknowable aliens.”

But there’s one particular crowd, a very vocal and outspoken crowd, that always irks me a little. In fairness, I think some of you will agree. But this group is … Well, they remind me of flat-earthers or climate-change deniers. Not, I stress, because they believe in a flat-earth, but because they display a parallel sort of thought process.

Maybe the best name for this group would be the “anti-fiction crowd.” Anti-science works too, as could anti-progression. The mindset behind it probably fits “anti-science” a bit better, but since we’re talking about Science-Fiction, we’ll stick with “anti-fiction.”

This crowd operates under two principles:

  1. No Science-Fiction book should writen about anything that is not 100% provable or capable by today.
  2. Science is absolute, and cannot be considered incomplete.

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News, Updates, and Musings

I really need to make a new list of “assorting things to talk about” for these off days, but right now I spend so much writing time thinking about Starforge that doesn’t seem to be happening!

But hey, at least that means there are updates there to speak of. So, how is work coming along on Starforge?

Excellently. Yesterday I finished off revisions to Part Two of the book, with those revisions passed on to the Alpha 2 crew. Today work begins (for me) on Part Three, which is good because at least one of the Alpha 2 readers have already gotten through Part One.

Part Two took some work as well, particularly in one specific chapter which was not preferred by the Alpha 1 crew (those of you in that crew know which one I’m talking about). In the end, over half of it was completely rewritten, with the latter half being tweaked and edited along the way to bring it up to speed. Hopefully the Alpha 2 crew finds it much more digestible now.

That’s not the only change made across the second Alpha, but it’s so far been the largest and most sweeping one. Though there is one other change that’s been suggested by the Alpha 1 crew that the Alpha 2 crew now gets to deliberate, regarding where Part One ends. Basically, shuffling of chapters. I won’t say which direction I’m leaning with it, but there is a comment left by me serving as a signpost for the Alpha 2 readers asking their opinion.

Those Alpha 2 readers that haven’t reached that yet, what are you waiting for?


Anyway, work continues with that, but I’ve got some other news as well. See, once I finish this pass, I’ll still have to wait a bit for all the Alpha 2 readers to get some distance in the story before sweeping along behind them. Basically editing at the speed of the slowest Alpha Reader. Now, I’d like to get started on this by the end of the month, but if I finish getting all the Alpha 2 chapters up next week, what will I be doing then?

Why, starting on the cover for Starforge, of course! Yes, I’m going to be starting this one a little early, since I’ll need to learn a little more about my graphical editing (I think) in order to pull off what I have in mind, so it might take longer. Regardless, as most of you will probably guess, it is going to be in line with the other covers in the UNSEC Space trilogy. But … this one’s gonna be a little different. You’ll see … eventually. I’m not sure how long it’ll take, but if I can figure out the tools for what I’m going to try to do, the cover might be previewed as early as August!

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So … I Changed My Mind

Hey folks! Max here with a big announcement. One that I spoke about a few days ago, now here with its own post.

Or rather … a cancelation of that announcement.

Look, it’s no secret that prices and inflation and all the jazz I spoke both in this week’s news post and also in The Price We Pay about have happened in the last ten years. I was all set to announce that July 1st would be the day I switched up my digital pricing, readying for the next ten years.

But you know … it’s technically only been nine since I started. And a half. And a “ten year” price adjustment just feels … better, you know?

I realize I’m jumping ahead here. After sitting down and thinking about it, and weighing the numbers … Yes, I am making about 20% less on every book I sell now than when I set my prices nine years ago, due to inflation. But … changing prices on July 1st? Well … that didn’t sit well with me. Because as I said above, it’s only been nine years. My first book (and all the pricing I worked out for the books after) only came to be nine years ago.

So rather than change the prices now to reflect shifting values and inflation, I thought why not do it on January 1st, 2023? Why not truly give it ten years, and update everything then?

Maybe it’s just because most of us like round, solid numbers like ten. Or maybe I just felt blindsiding everyone with something that was a week out was a little too short notice, though I’d been running the numbers for a while.

So the big announcement is that starting July 1st … Nothing will happen. January 1st, 2023 however, the ten year mark? That is when I’ll adjust everything for inflation once more.

No joke, I was sitting down and running the numbers and prepping tables to show the various values and suddenly thought “Why now? Sure, I need to make the adjustment, but right now? Is that 20% really going to kill me?”

Okay, maybe? 20% is kind of a substantial number (and I’m the guy that counts pennies). But … Who likes being blindsided by that?

So, here’s what’s going to happen July 1st. Nothing. At least for my prices. No changes. Boom. Bam. None. If something happens to you in your personal life, well, that’s on you. But I probably had nothing to do with it. Unless you buy a book of mine and love it.

But I’m holding off changing the digital price for a few months. Until the new year. When 2023 hits? Well … all the revised pricing I’ve worked out will drop. And then there will be a month’s-plus worth of notice and warning.

So … I guess I gave your eyeballs a big dose of nothing, huh? Well … I’ll make up for it. The Starforge Alpha 2 is almost upon us. So why not offer a teeny-tiny teaser of what some of you are going to get an early look at?

It’s below the jump.

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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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Hey Netflix, I Hear You’re Looking for New Shows …

So some news slipped across my radar this morning that Netflix, determined to claw back a sudden drop of subscribers, has put $18 billion toward pursuing new content to woo audiences with. Included among these, from what I gather, is a desire for a “female Jack Ryan,” aka a female action-adventure protagonist with intrigue, action, etc etc.

Netflix, might I humbly suggest Colony and the rest of the UNSEC Space Trilogy?

It’s got exactly what you want: Annalyne Neres, the South American mercenary who is one of the three primary characters, is absolutely an action star. There’s political intrigue as the three protagonists maneuver their way through various competing factions, there’s action as negotiation gives way to frantic, dangerous violence—

Oh, and did I mention it’s Science-Fiction? In other words, the perfect thing to fill the void left among viewers now that The Expanse is over and done.

Action, intrigue, mystery, and an audience of the streaming market that’s currently looking for the “next big thing.”

Better yet, it’s complete. The final book of the trilogy is coming out later this year, so a successful first season wouldn’t need to panic and stall while some finale is figured out. No filler needed. A complete story, and the rights are available and ready.

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OP-ED: Don’t Ban Things Just Because You Don’t Like Them

This post has been on my mind for a few months now. Like others, it’s being written in advance for posting. But in a way I’m glad, because I’ve already written it once and retooled it. After some consideration, I think the best way to go with this post is to be short and sweet.

There’s been a real rash in the last decade or so of folks seeking to “remove” what they don’t like from the public sphere. Various methods are being used, from twitter mobs that go after creators to try and get them removed or banned from communities or positions, to the latest incarnation, which is to use politicians and laws to block or remove things simply because one disagrees with them.

I wish I were joking. Kentucky just passed a law that, as I understand it, gives state politicians ultimate say over all public library funds and what they go toward. The implication made by the supporters of the bill is that it will allow them to examine what books are on public library shelves or requested by readers and then block all library funding until the “problematic” titles are removed. A similar bill is being pushed in Idaho that would launch an investigation into public libraries of that state to find “problematic material” and remove it from the library (likely, from what I’ve gathered, along with punishments to the library and staff for offering such “problematic” literature).

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Read the First Four Chapters of Shadow of an Empire Absolutely Free!

We understand: Shadow of an Empire can be a daunting prospect for a reader. A nine-hundred-plus page book? In paperback? Is it even worth the money? The reviews say yes, but folks don’t always trust reviews. They’d like to experience what’s between the pages themselves.

Which is why as we’ve done with our other books, we’ve made the first four chapters of Shadow of an Empire free to read for all. Right through your device and broswer. No catches, no subscription needed, no personal information required. Go ahead, open it in an incognito tab if you so desire! We don’t mind! Four chapters of Wild-West Fantasy adventure, right here at your fingertips.

It’s as easy as clicking the cover below. Hit that gorgeous sunny scene, and if your time in the deserts of Indrim leaves its impression, you can pick up a personal copy from our books page (or your local bookstore can order it for you). Enjoy!

The LTUE Writing Con Starts Tomorrow!

Hello readers! This post is going to be short and to the point: LTUE starts tomorrow!

That’s right, Life, The Universe, and Everything 2022 kicks off tomorrow morning, with registration opening at 8 AM and the first panels starting at 9!

Will I be there! Of course I will! A little groggy, perhaps, but I don’t miss LTUE. And fortunately, all of my panels are in the evening and afternoon, so I have most of the day to wake up. And see other panels.

Really quick, if you’d like to attend my panels, here’s a quick recap of the schedule:

Thursday:

  • 3 PM – A Space Opera Starter Kit
  • 4 PM – No Mirrors: Character Description in First Person
  • 7 PM – My Genre Wish List

Friday:

  • 7 PM – Book Signing!

Saturday:

  • 5 PM – Science Fiction Faux Pas
  • 7 PM – Fanfiction: Having Fun

But these are by no means the only panels in action at LTUE. You can check out the grid schedule of titles here, and I may see you at a few of these, since I love attending the panels. But I’ll be out and about as well. With free bookmarks! So if you grab a copy of Axtara or Shadow of an Empire at the LTUE bookstore, wave me down and get it signed! Or come to that book signing Friday night …

Anyway, tonight is the eve of the con, and I am jazzed and ready to go! If you see me (and in fairness, I have a distinct look), say hello!

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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