Big News!

Attention readers! It’s time for news, and I’ve got a doozy of a post for you in that regard.

So those of you that are long-time followers of the site may recall that back before I injured my knee, at least once a year I would head up to Alaska to work on a fishing boat and make some cash. Then I injured my knee, the injury was permanent, and that pretty much put and end to that.

Well, last week I got a call. A deckhand had quit short notice, and my old employer wanted to know if I wanted to try the job again. After some back and forth and agreement that we’ll have to play a lot of the job by ear due to my knee, but also that it’ll be a bit more relaxed than the “Witness me!” levels of commercial fishing’s usual dedication.

So I agreed to it. So near the end of next week, I’ll leave for Alaska on what will probably be close to three weeks of work. Though there is some variance with that. Two weeks is just the average, but there’s also the work getting the boat ready to go, getting the gear on it, etc.

Hopefully, I make it through without doing any extra damage to my knee, and come back with enough money to live at least the next few months without fear of immediate eviction (do not ask what my bank account looks like at the moment, just don’t).

Now, what does this mean for the site? Well … very little actually. I can schedule posts on Unusual Things, so there won’t be much change here outside of me being unable to approve comments from posters that look a lot like spam. But I’ll be writing next Monday’s Being a Better Writer post today, and then a bunch of them (along with other posts) next week before I leave, so posts here will still go up.

However, other sites that get excerpts of those posts? They don’t have scheduling. So before I leave each will get a notification post, and then person that follows the site through those locations will simply have to exercise their own efforts to come to the main site and see what the content is each week. Sorry, folks. There’s only so much I can do.

Anyway, there will be content while I’m gone (and if things stretch on really long, I’ll try to make some posts from my phone). When I get back, I’ll hit each of the places that don’t have scheduled updates or feeds with a nice summary post.

This does have other effects, of course. Remember Shadow of an Empire’s paperback copy? Well, I’m unlikely to get the proof before I leave (and even if I did, it’d be stuck with me in Alaska where it couldn’t do much good and I couldn’t do much work on it). Which means … release of the paperback will be delayed a bit.

Sorry guys. This was just unexpected. So … September then. Basically, as soon as I get back, I can get the proof ordered, and then once any errors there are cleared up, the book can go live.

Now, onto other news!

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It’s Done: Starforge’s Draft is Complete

I mean … what else do I need to say. Guys, it’s done. Just minutes ago, I jumped to a new page and typed out the final, pivotal words of a Sci-Fi trilogy that I can now accurately say stretches almost 1.3 million words in total. Those words?

THE END

Sands and storms, readers. Sands and storms. I feel drained. But at the same time, I feel like a weight the size of a planet (or maybe a whole universe) has left my shoulders.

It’s done.

I feel like I’m going to go for a nice bike ride while just … melting. That’s a good word for it.

Okay, so let me drop some numbers at you all. The project started (loosely, since the early weeks were spent also getting Axtara out) at the end of October/start of November 2020. The final wordcount? 502,800 and some change. At the end of July. So that’s half a million words written in about nine months, give or take a week.

Not bad at all, if I do say so myself. Bear in mind if you try to do a “daily average” breakdown, I don’t work Sundays, or all but a few Saturdays. Monday-Friday.

Let me see, more data. Thirty-six chapters, plus prologue, epilogue, and some interludes. A whole lot of deaths (fictional). Dozens of life-threatening situations. Trillions of US dollars in spaceships destroyed. Uncountable headaches.

And it’s done.

Now if you’ll all excuse me, I’m going to collapse.

Independence Day Sale!

Hello readers! This weekend, those of us in America will be celebrating the United States’ Independence Day. A commemoration of the Continental Congress’ passage of the Declaration of Independence. An event which would shake a whole lot of baskets across the Atlantic, and lead to … Well, today.

Every nation has an independence day (even if they don’t celebrate them?) and the United States loves the one it has. July 5th will be a holiday for many of us, and many are spending the weekend grilling and lighting off fireworks (where appropriate, mind).

But it got me thinking. With Starforge on the way, why not add a little extra “oomph” to some weekends, and have an Independence Day sale. Well, not just a sale because, well you see …

Colony is free to grab, no strings attached, July 3rd and 4th.

Yeah, that’s right. Free. I figured a story about a planet of people fighting for independence whose own leader has seen fit to model their goals and aims after George Washington and the American Revolution … Well, it deserved that nod.

So yes, Colony is free this weekend. If you grab it on the 3rd or 4th, you’ll be able to kick back and relax with the book in your hands on the 5th! Or whenever you’ve got free time. This is a limited offer, so grab it while you can!

Of course, once you have one book in the UNSEC trilogy, you might want to grab the second. Especially if you’re one of the many that finish Colony in a single sitting.

But even if you aren’t, and plan on taking your time, why not pick up the second book in the series while you’re at it? Because after all, it’s on sale as well. That’s right. You can grab the first book in the trilogy free of charge, find out exactly why it’s rated so highly … then come off of that rollercoaster ride to grab the second at a discount.

Sadly, the third and final volume is still in development, so you can’t purchase it yet … But with Colony and Jungle in your posession, you’ll be ready for the third and final installment when it launches!


Naturally now, why stop there? If one book is free, and another on sale … well … why not put even more on sale? If you rummage around my books page, you’ll find that more that just Colony and Jungle are up for grabs. Shadow of an Empire, the wild west fantasy adventure and another fitting candidate for an Independence Day celebration, has been discounted. And One Drink and Dead Silver, my first two books, are also free.

Or will be, rather. So mark your calendars! That’s three books for free, and two at a discount! At which point grabbing the whole rest of my library wouldn’t really set you back much!


So, if you’re in the US, enjoy your Independence Day. But if not, or in the meantime … grab a book, and celebrate some freedom.

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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Unexpected Sick Day (and Other News)

So today, my expected plan was to get up, climb out of bed, write a quick news post, and then get back to work on Starforge, which I’ve got awesome news about below. I was all ready to go.

And then last night my throat started to feel off. Which, combined with what I’m pretty sure is a tension headache, led to this morning, or rather, today I noon, when I woke up at 12:30 with my throat saying “Yup, it’s a biological war in there.” I’m tired, and a little achy, and feel like one of my sinuses is having some issues. This might have had something to do with my insistence on biking outside despite the 100+ degree heatwave we’re under pushing me past a healthy edge, but … Anyway.

So … today might be a sick day. I seem to be writing in a somewhat readable form here, so I still may give it a shot, because I need to get this story done, but I’m not quite foolish enough to think that I shouldn’t watch things carefully, and if it’s not looking good, stop for the day and rest.


Which is a shame, because yesterday I did some calculations, and Starforge is only six or seven chapters from THE END. That’s right, the draft is almost done. Now, these are going to be decently lengthy chapters, I expect, as there’s a lot going on, but …

Yeah, rejoice! The end is almost here! I mean, it’ll still be a while yet before the last book of the trilogy is out, but the first draft is almost done!

It’s going to be another titan, too. Right now, the current draft is 424,000 words long. Given that there are still a few lengthy chapters to go, the first draft will likely end up around the same length as Jungle. Editing may change that, but that’s what it’s looking like right now.

Plus today … Oh today was going to be awesome. Fleet engagements, twists that were foreshadowed a whole book ago, chaos and explosions as spaceships blow one another into smoldering, atmo-venting wrecks … Yeah, it was going to be neat.

I hope I can get some of that done today, but … Bleh. Even this is making me feel more off.

On the plus side, I’m only 11,000 words shy of my monthly quota. I have been tearing it up the last few weeks. So having a day off wouldn’t be that bad an impact on my progress.

I was just really looking forward to smashing these fleets together, you know?


All right, so that’s the Starforge news. In other news, I screwed up the Patreon Supporter vote, so there’s still another week to go with that one. Oops. Those supporters who haven’t voted yet, there’s still a chance!

Oh, and both Colony and Axtara were the recipients of a couple of new five-star reviews this last weekend! Glad to see them still garnering awesomely positive attention! Now, if they could get even more of it …

Bleh. I’m going to go write about spaceships hitting other spaceships (maybe literally, maybe not), or at least try to. Wish me luck, leave a review for Colony or Axtara if you haven’t yet, and stay cool and healthy in this shimmering heat-wave we’ve got going!

The Bi-Weekly Report: Happy St. Patrick’s Day

You know, if you’re looking for one more way to celebrate, Axtara—the titular protagonist of Axtara – Banking and Finance—is green. You can read the first few chapters for free here, or pick up your own copy here! Or even just adorn your device background with her cheerful grin!

Since I’m on the topic of Axtara, she’s reached a grand total of 20 ratings and reviews now. All of them granting her Five Stars. There hasn’t been a disappointed reviewer yet! Or even one that’s just slightly impressed.

And that? It’s pretty pleasing. To paraphrase one review, ‘Axtara knocks it out of the park,’ and that brings me a lot of joy. Which is great, because so far Axtara seems to be bringing a lot of readers old and young a lot of joy as well, like I’d hoped it would. So it’s like one big circle of joy.

Best of all, I’ve been hearing from readers that have passed it on to their teenage girls that they absolutely love it. Success! Here’s to more reviews in the coming weeks, and thousands of new readers as those who fell in love with Axtara share their newfound find with others!


Since we’re on the topic of both reviews and green covers, Colony and its sequel Jungle got some more love this last weekend from reviews. Colony might be over four years old at this point, but it’s still garnering praise from readers of Sci-Fi and picking up new readers. Which is good, because Starforge is inching step by step towards completion and wrapping the whole thing up.

But yeah, if you’re not in the mood for green dragons for Saint Patrick’s Day, well, Jungle is also full of a lot of green. A lot of it. In a most threatening manner. You can check out a free preview here if Sci-Fi is your thing, but you’re still looking to stick to that St. Patrick’s Day tradition.


Speaking of Starforge, the current draft is now at 310,000 words. Continued progression, like clockwork, with each daily quota. It’s still somewhere near the 66-70% done marker, but with a book that has to tie up this much, that’s probably not a surprise to any of you. As to when, roughly, this draft will be finished? I’d rather not make predictions at the moment, but I do write 3000-4000 words a day for my daily quota, so rest assured there is progress.

Speaking of progress, to my utter shock I discovered it had been almost a year since I touched Stranded. Sure, it was a weekend fan project, but … Well, there was 2020. That was a thing. And Stranded appears to have been a casualty. But not a fatal one. I’ve been spending my Saturdays adding to it and getting it moving forward once more,

Of course, that isn’t my only Saturday project. Progress continues on getting the Shadow of an Empire paperback worked out. Granted, two Saturday projects (plus this being tax season) mean that it’s taking a little while, but with then there’s this next bit of news …

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Straight Troping

Hello readers! I hope things are well with you in these turbulent times. Me? I’ve already voted. Now I’m just waiting for the madness of the election to be over so that book sales actually accomplish something once more. And, you know, actually exist.

I still don’t understand why elections and politics of all things hurt book sales the way they do … but they definitely do. I remember being skeptical of it myself when I was first told by a few other authors … but lo and behold, year after year whenever there’s a major political event going on … sales drop.

Weird. And slightly concerning, I think. Why is it that when two aged children shout “shut up” at one another on stage, book sales fall?

Though that said, if that money was instead going to bunkers and supporting the political party of “anyone but this” I’d understand.

Anyway … the imminent doom of the United States as an even faintly respectable country aside, let’s shift gears and talk about something else.

A black hole. Well, actually, TV Tropes. Same thing, really. If you’ve ever been sucked into the endless dissection of the tropes that make up your favorite show, game, book, or whatever, you know how much time you can lose reading up on these things (and if you’re unfamiliar with tropes, check this post for a primer).

But there’s another use for TV Tropes, and that’s to find material that you might enjoy. Got a trope or concept that you really enjoy? TV Tropes can be a handy reference for finding other entertainment or even non-fiction (and real-life) uses of a trope, concept, etc.

I’ve actually done this myself. Look up a trope for a concept I really enjoy, and then see what items are listed as showing those tropes off and add them to my “list of things to check out.”

So, where am I going with this (outside of giving some you ideas for where to find new material to enjoy)? Well, simply put the other day someone asked me about my books, and then when I mentioned Colony, asked: Does it have a TV Tropes page I could check out?”

To which I replied “I don’t actually know.” Which was truthful. It had been a long time since I’d looked, and there was a chance one had popped up. But after a quick look I had to tell them “No, not for Colony.” Dead Silver and One Drink yes, but Colony? No.

Worse, I can’t actually do anything about this. I have no idea if I made or lost a sale based off of that, but as I understand it, creators themselves are not supposed to submit TV Tropes pages or edits on things they themselves created. A rule which I understand and respect. But it does mean that a TV Tropes page will and can only exist if there are fans who are “tropers” (or people who do work on the TV Tropes pages).

So, the point of this post is to ask: Are any of you tropers? And if so, did you enjoy Colony, Jungle, or Shadow of an Empire enough to feel like putting them on TV Tropes for those looking for them?

That’s all. Just asking. Like I said, as far as I understand it, that’s about the limit of a creator’s involvement. But a TV Tropes page for Colony and Jungle would be really nice … hint hint.

Again, it’s just a thought. I hope you’re all getting ready for a fantastic Halloween weekend. Stay healthy and safe!

It’s Official: Starforge is the Most Stressful Thing I’ve Ever Written

All right, readers. It’s time to come clean. Last night, as I lay trying to sleep at around 4 AM, my mind whirling with questions and maybes and possibilities concerning Starforge, I realized something.

Starforge is officially the most stress-inducing project I’ve worked on in a long time.

Perhaps being kept up until hours like 5 AM thinking “Maybe I need to start over. Redo the entire opening like this?” should be taken as a massive clue.

For the record I’ve not restarted the entire opening. Though … yeah, even at 100,000 words in, I’ve considered completely redoing it from another angle. More than once. Technically I’ve already done it too; earlier in the project I cut 20,000 words and started the opening in a completely different way.

This project is stressing me out.

Why? Well, it’s pretty simple. Starforge is the finale of a trilogy. There are two books before it, both really well received and loved by a lot of people. Further still, those who have read the sequel have ranked it better than the first book, even as it drove things forward toward a finale. So the trend is now I have to deliver a finale that’s the apex of all three, tie everything up, keep everything from almost a million words of prior content straight, reference it, use it …

Yeah … starting to see how I might be a little stressed out? And of course, stress like that makes it harder to work (lack of sleep, etc) which has made me more concerned that the final product could be below the bar, which leads to more stress, which …

Yup. It’s self-enforcing at this point. The worst part is, I’m not quite sure what to do outside of trust my instincts (I had lighter versions of this for previous works and they turned out all right) and keep working forward.

Starforge has to be the best thing I’ve written to date. Full stop. If that means rewriting almost 100,000 words of it, then so be it. That’s only two months worth of work. This is the big finale. The end. Everything the prior two books led up to comes to a head here. This is it.

I can’t stop. One way or another Starforge is going to release. And it will be the next book I release after Axtara. But it has to be the best thing I’ve written. Every bit of character I’ve built up so far, every nuance, every bit of development. All of it needs to peak here.

I’m just praying I can pull this off.

Anyway, I’m about to dive back into it. Wish me luck, folks. This is the mountain of mountains thus far in my career, and that peak has got a lot of obstacles on it.

Now if I could just get some sleep …

Last Chance for the Sale!

Whoa! Hold up there! This is your last alert! Today is the last day to get everything I’ve published on a 50% or better sale for the Big 300 Sale (a sale made in honor of reaching 300 ratings and reviews while still keeping a 4.6 out of 5 average—no mean feat)! Which means you’ve got the following books available on steep discount!


Colony and Jungle

$1.99

A corporate investigator who doesn’t trust his employer. A mercenary gun-for-hire with a talent for violence and a willingness to shoot first. And a white-hat hacker who doesn’t know when to quit.

Three independent contractors brought together for one unusual job. Five years ago, master programmer Carlos Rodriguez retired. Now his old employer wants him back.

Quietly.

It’d be a lot easier if he hadn’t left Earth.

Read a free sample by clicking this link!


$3.99

Jake, Anna, and Sweets are back in the long-awaited sequel to Colony!

Fresh off their mission to Pisces, the trio is looking forward to a well-deserved rest, and better yet, a fat paycheck after everything that occurred on the alien world. But all that comes to a crashing halt when they’re waylaid above Earth by their employer and find themselves with an extended contract, sending them right back out into space.

Worse yet, their trio has been split to best handle their new assignments. Jake and Anna find themselves attached to a scientific expedition, tasked as security escorts keeping the expedition safe as they investigate a new potential colony world thriving with a vast, vibrant jungle. Meanwhile, Sweets has been assigned aboard an UNSEC military vessel, tracking down the source of a pervasive cyberattack against their hardware.

But as both teams get to work, it’s clear that there may be more to their respective missions than they were led to believe. The cyberattacks are brazen and powerful, but simplistic and utterly untraceable. The alien world’s ecology defies logic and sense, puzzling the expedition team.

And above it all, the ripples of events on Pisces continue to spread through the galaxy …

Read a free preview by clicking here!

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