Fireteam Freelance Patreon Supporter Content!

Heads up, readers! Are you supporting on Patreon? Because if you are, you might want to dart on over there and take a look at the latest supporter only post: an early preview of Fireteam Freelance!

Before you get too excited, it’s not the first chapter. That hasn’t been written yet (and when it is, the alpha will go up on this site, as promised, chapter by chapter).

No, it’s something else. A “supplemental” if you will. Fireteam Freelance is going to be a more “episodic” story, with clear-cut chunks of chapters following the titular fireteam. But I wanted to do something so that there was more to it than just that, and as I was figuring out the cast, I had the idea of “What if someone was interviewing them? Then between “episodes” there could be a short segment of an interview!” Thus, I could write the interview to find each character’s “voice” and develop them a little further before starting the story, and then I could take chunks of those interviews and place them between episodes.

But which chunks? Why obviously I’d need to write the whole thing first! And I have! Or at least, I have for one of the four new protagonists we’ll be following in Fireteam Freelance: Adah Nay! And, if you’re a Patreon Supporter, you can now go read the entire interview, unredacted or edited by Icon News Media, on my Patreon!

So if you’re a supporter, don’t miss out. Head on over and give it a look!

Some Small Updates

Hello Readers! It wasn’t until this last Saturday that I realized this coming Monday was a holiday, Martin Luther King Jr day to be exact. And, well, that’s a holiday I’ve honored here on the site. So there’s no Being a Better Writer post today. If you’re itching for some writing advice anyway, then in the spirit of the holiday I’d suggest hitting up the “character” tag and looking at some posts on building characters. They’re the backbone of any good story, and there’s always more to think and learn about with them.

As for me? Well, I’m going to be working some more on Fireteam Freelance. I’m not a point to start launching chapters just yet, but it’s getting closer.

In other news, I was delighted to watch Colony and Jungle pick up a half-dozen or so new reviews in the last week alone. ALL of them were five-star as well. Hello new readers and welcome to the adventure! And thank you to those readers out there that are talking about my books and sharing my titles with others. In the last few weeks, I’ve seen a uptick in my works being mentioned online on places like Reddit or Facebook, and in turn that’s brought in a lot of new fans who’ve picked up books, left glowing reviews, and in a few cases even messaged me online to tell me what a blast they were having!

Seriously, those readers who are talking about my books? You’re spreading them faster and farther than I ever could, and in turn you’re helping a lot of new readers find the same enjoyment you had at finishing ColonyShadow of an Empire, or any of my other works.

So thank you, and please keep at it. Word of mouth works, and thanks to your sharing or talking about Colony and my other books online, I’ve seen a lot of new readers discover my work in the past few weeks and love them as much as you have.

Anyway, I’ve got work to do on Fireteam Freelance! Have a wonderful Monday, readers!

“A Dragon and Her Girl” Now Available for Pre-Order!

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Hello readers! Max here! Taking some time out of my day working on Fireteam Freelance (Patreon folks look for some nuggets from that soon!) to deliver some awesome news!

A Dragon and Her Girl, the second LTUE benefit anthology, is now up for pre-order! Contained within its pages? Twenty, yes twenty stories of dragons and heroines from a wide variety of authors old and new. Author’s like Mercedes Lackey. Or me!

That’s right! Recall all that talk about A Game of Stakes? Well, at long last it’s arriving! This is the collection it’s in! You guys can finally read it!

But not only will you get A Game of Stakes, but nineteen other stories of dragons and heroines! Plus, it’s a benefit anthology! Purchases of A Dragon and Her Girl go towards supporting LTUE’s student tickets, allowing students of all ages (K-12 and college) to attend LTUE at a heavily discounted price so they can learn to be the Sci-Fi and Fantasy creators of tomorrow!

So not only are you getting twenty awesome fantasy stories about dragons, you’re supporting students who are actively looking to learn! That’s a pretty good combo right there.

So quick, hop on over to the Amazon page for A Dragon and Her Girl and pre-order your copy! Or, if you’re going to be at LTUE, join us for the official launch party on Thursday, February 13th at 3 PM and pick up a hard-copy right there! Or hit up the signing later and get it autographed!

That’s all for now. Me, I need to get back to Fireteam Freelance. And you, readers? You’ve got a book of dragons to check out!

See you at LTUE!

Life, The Universe, and Everything 2020!

I’ve been waiting to make this post for months now, readers! But with the new year upon us, it’s finally time. Life, The Universe, and Everything 2020 is almost upon us, with a little over a month to go!

Some of you readers are cheering quietly (or perhaps loudly) while mentally double-checking your hotel reservation for next month, but some of you, I’m sure, I are looking at this post and thinking “Isn’t that a Douglas Adams book?” while wondering what I mean about next month. So before we go any further, let me clear that up.

First, yes, it is the title of one of Douglas Adams’ books. Life, the Universe, and Everything was the third book in his Hitchhiker series and released in 1982. So you’re not wrong there. However, that is the LtUE with a lowercase “t” on the “the.” The uppercase variant?

Why, it’s Life, The Universe, and Everything, the premier Fantasy and Science Fiction Writing Convention! With an uppercase “T.” But yes, it is a reference.

“All right,” some of you might say. “So it’s another Sci-Fi/Fantasy con. So?” To which I’d reply “No, not exactly.”

See, LTUE is a Sci-Fi/Fantasy writing con. While other conventions are about getting together just to have fun dressing up and meeting authors and creators, LTUE is different. LTUE is about creation. Where other Sci-Fi/Fantasy cons will have panels where you can meet your favorite author and ask questions about your favorite series or listen to them talk about their favorite moments from the book, LTUE has panels where you come to hear your favorite authors talk about the art of writing.

That’s right. Hundreds of authors on hundreds of panels, talking about writing. How to write. Pitfalls. Elements you may not have considered. Topics for days.

That’s right, LTUE is a convention for writers who want to learn more about writing. With panels given by some of the biggest names in the industry. While also having signings, art shows, game rooms, and all the fun stuff you’d expect from a regular con.

In other words, if you’re a writer of any level interested in Sci-Fi and Fantasy, LTUE is the con to go to. For learning, for networking, for even just having fun chatting with favorite authors or new ones! It’s the con.

Okay, so that’s what LTUE is. Oh, and if you’re a student (college or k-12), tickets are … around $5. For three days of con awesome.

In other words, what are you waiting for? The website is here, reserve your ticket! And while you’re at it, take a look at their guestlist and schedule to start planning what panels you’d like to attend!

While you’re at it, you may notice a familiar name on the Guestlist and attached to a number of panels! Which brings me to the second reason for today’s post: Letting you all know that yes, I will be at LTUE this year, paneling once more! And signing, and doing a reading …

It’s going to be a big year for me this LTUE. A very big year. I’m pumped.

But it means that, in addition to letting you all know that LTUE is approaching (February 13th-15th), I also get to have the wonderful pleasure this year of putting up my LTUE panel schedule, letting you all know where you can find me over the course of the con! So, without further ado, a list of all the LTUE appearances I’ll be making this year! I’ll repost this as we get closer to the date of the actual con, but for now: Get ready and excited! It’s coming!

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The First Seven Years: 2013-2019 in Review, and the Journey Ahead

Hello readers! No, there’s no Being a Better Writer article today, since I’m still on break. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any content to be had! No, as we’re about to head into a new decade, 2020 now just two days away (less, depending  on when you read this), it’s the perfect time for a look back. Two looks back, actually! For one, we’ve got 2019 to look at, to see how it stacks up against 2018, but we’ve also got the decade as a whole. Well, minus seven years, as my first book—One Drink for those that have joined us since then—was only published in 2013. But as we look back today, I’d be remiss not to look over the decade as a whole and see where it’s taken both myself and you readers. To see the growth of this grand adventure as it continues to build!

So then, let’s dive right in and talk about the year! How’d 2019 stack up?

Jungle CoverObviously, the big elephant in the room is Jungle. The titan (literally, check out that word count) of a Colony sequel that landed in November. Jungle was 2019’s only book release but … what a release!

Jungle was a titanic effort, taking months upon months of work from myself and dedicated Alpha and Beta Readers to polish and prepare. But in the end?

Jungle has been a titanic success. Though only out for the last two months of 2019, it’d be impossible to talk about the state of things without it. While not quite reaching the pre-order and high-burst numbers  Colony did at its release, Jungle has instead remained a steady seller, even as it garners reviews with greater speed than Colony ever did. Reviews which have so far entirely been positive. As of today, Jungle is still sitting with a perfect Five-Star score across Amazon and Goodreads, with a lot of praise lauded on it in its reviews for how it moves the story forward while taking it in surprising new directions!

Of course, this means good things for sales as well. Jungle catching eyes has only brought a renewed resurgence of interest in Colony as well, which has seen a nice sales increase as a result of Jungle catching reader’s eyes and then going on to read both.

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The Emergency Update

Initial Emergency post here.

First of all, thank you everyone who posted get-well wishes, sympathy, and support for my sister. It was passed on an appreciated. She’d had a rough week already before everything went sideways at 40+ MPH, making the collision and totaling of her car the cherry on top.

However, she’s doing really well. The first two days were the roughest, as all the muscles across her body were not having a good time after the accident, and so bruised and tensed and whatnot were stiffening, swelling, and pulling her broken collarbone every which way they could. Tuesday morning she was too sore and stiff after sleeping to even get up.

But the swelling has faded, the muscles healing and loosening up, and my sister’s adjusted enough to having one functional arm at the moment that as of last night I am back in my own home.

I slept way in this morning lol. Catching up.

Okay, so there are two things I need to discuss now: how my sister’s doing, and what the status of Christmas updates for the site will be.

First up my sister: She’s well-cared for now. Her collarbone is broken, yes, but it’s a clean break and should heal well. She’s already seeing a sport-doc for it, and insurance, while a tangled, complicated mess, has at least let the wheels roll forward. It appears that she’ll be on leave from work for some time, but it’ll be covered, as well her medical and whatnot. There’s plenty to do going forward, but she’s gotten past the start, which was pretty much all uphill.

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The Power of Word of Mouth

So before on this site, I’ve spoken about how studies have found that the most effective way to get people to check out a book (and buy it) is not reviews from websites (though those are some of the most effective, hence why so many sell reviews), and not advertising on web-pages and other places, but word of mouth.

Well, yesterday there was a chance to put that idea to the test. If you swung by the site yesterday, you saw a blog post asking readers to swing by a Reddit subreddit discussion looking for good indie Sci-Fi authors and books. I brought it to the site’s attention and asked readers who enjoyed my work to head on over and say something.

Some of you did, and all I can say is THANK YOU.

Okay, I can actually say more than that. Because I can also tell you how impactful that was. See, I can see sales in near real-time. Within an hour of a few of you dedicated, awesome fans posting recommending Colony, sales for the day quintupled.

That’s right, they went up by a factor of five.

That, readers, is the power of word of mouth. Of someone telling someone else about a book. Word of mouth is quite literally the most powerful way to get a book out there.

Advertising? It’s expensive, and worse, gauged so that the return is just barely worth it (look for a full post on that soon). If you want to make $100 in book sales, you’re going to need to spend at least $50, often closer to $90, ending with a net gain of $10. This isn’t an exaggeration, by the way.

Reviews? They might bring in viewers, but a lot of places charge for the privilege (despite it being against a lot of terms of service with booksellers) and people know that on some level. Reviews from big outlets help, but at the end of the day?

It’s people talking about a book that really make it work. We’re surrounded by advertising of all forms, and we’ve gotten really good at tuning it out. Paid commercial for something? We shrug and move on.

But someone else talking about something and how they liked it? That’s not a paid ad: That’s another person talking about something they enjoyed. The more casual the interaction is, the more weight we put behind their words. They’re not being paid to tell us about something. They’re telling us because they enjoyed it.

That’s the power of word of mouth. That’s why yesterday, when a few of you headed on over to the subreddit and posted (three that I could see), sales quintupled over their daily average for this week, and within hours.

That’s the power you readers have, simply by talking to people about books. On social media. On forums. In person.

Word of mouth is the most powerful advertising there is.

I (and any other author) can pay for advertising. And it’ll show a small but simple return. We can beg places to review our books, or buckle under and pay them for one (I still refuse to do that). But at the end of the day, what has the biggest impact on whether or not we succeed or fail is you. The readers. If an author cannot make a big enough impact on their reading base that their readers talk about their work … they’re very likely doomed to failure.

So again, thank you to those of you who headed over and recommended my works. As I said, quintupling. Five times the daily normal. Within a few hours.

Readers, you hold a lot of power in your hands. The books you talk about, the books you choose to tell others about … It plays a heavy part in determining whether or not an author sinks or swims.

Please use it well.