Being a Better Writer: Reading VS Hearing

Welcome back writers! It’s Monday, and you know what that means. That, or this is your first time stumbling across this corner of the web and are just in awe or suspicion of what you’ve found. Maybe both.

Well, if you’re a writer or looking to do some writing, let me reassure you. This is Being a Better Writer, and you are in the right place.

Now, a quick aside before we dive into today’s promised topic, which is a … contentious one, to say the least. If you’ve not been on the site over the weekend, then you might have missed out on Saturday’s Starforge preview, which gave everyone their first look at what’s become of Annalyne Neres since the end of Jungle, plus her first steps in the finale of the UNSEC Space Trilogy. Action-packed steps, of course.

In related news, Starforge is getting closer to release with each passing day, but also now closer to a pre-order date. The Copy-Edit is nearing, and once the novel is in that phase, the pre-orders can go live. I’ll keep you all up to date on that as things progress.

Now, one more bit of spooky news before we head into today’s topic. Because it is the Halloween season, Dead Silver will be on sale starting tonight at midnight, and will remain on sale through October 31st. You can click that link there or find the book via the Books tab, but keep that in mind if you’ve not read it. It’s a perfect little spooky mystery for the Halloween weekend, so if you’re reading this after midnight, October 24th, do yourself a favor and snag a copy! It’s spooky good fun, and an enjoyable read.

All right, that’s all the news and whatnot taken care of. Now lets get down to business and talk about todays—as I warned—contentious topic.

This one I think is going to puzzle some, while being a revelation others. It’s one of those aspects of writing and publishing books that you really have to be immersed in some part of the production or output of to be aware of, but again as previously stated it’s also something that brings with it no small amount of controversy, especially among certain circles and with regards to both writing and editing a book.

You ready? Then hit the jump. Let’s talk about reading versus hearing.

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Being a Better Writer: The “Perfect” Book Is an Awful Read

Hello again writers! Welcome back, and welcome to Topic List #21! That’s right, we’re on a new list, with new concepts and ideas to explore! Writers, there is still time to make a request for additional topics to add to it over at the topic call post, but only for a few days more!

Anyway, how was your weekend, writers? Feeling recharged and reinvigorated? I am, and it was desperately needed. Not only was I able to get some relaxation and decompression in, but I also woke up today to some fantastic news: Axtara – Banking and Finance has cracked 50 reviews on Amazon.

Like I’ve said, she keeps sailing. I don’t doubt that before long Axtara will be neck-and-neck with Colony. Though the leader of the UNSEC Space Trilogy isn’t taking it lying down, especially as over the weekend we saw our first tease from Chapter 1 of Starforge. To applause, no less. It was clear to me from the number of hits that a lot of you were interested in that.

Banking dragon versus a Sci-Fi tale of empires old and new. Will Axtara tighten the race? Or will Colony pull ahead? I don’t know, but I’m thrilled either way as both take strong strides in bringing me toward that 10,000 copies sold milestone.

Anyway, that’s the news, writers. Keeping it short and sweet today so that I can dive into the first topic on our new list. Which is … a contentious one, to be sure. I already am aware that by the title alone there will be many who will be lighting their torches and gathering their pitchforks, ready to defend an incorrect philosophy that they themselves will likely never test.

Today, we’re going to talk about the “perfect” book. And why you’d never want to read it.

Hit the jump, folks. Let’s talk about writing.

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Being a Better Writer: Finding a Real Publisher

Welcome back writers! It’s another Monday, and you know what that means. It’s time for more Being a Better Writer!

In more ways than one, actually. See, for those of you that are new, BaBW takes its topics from a variety of souces: Online conversations, writing chats, reader requests, books I’ve read recently, and more. But all of those topics share a commonality: they eventually end up on a physical list of paper that sits on my desk as I go through topics one by one.

That’s right. An actual, physical piece of paper. At some point I started numbering these little sheets, and currently the one sitting before me is #20. Given the size of the notepad, a fairly significant number of topics can fill each one, but there’s always an inevitability.

Eventually, the list runs out. Which is where we are now with Topic List #20. There are only two topics left on the list—including today’s topic—after which Topic List #20 will have nothing left to give us.

In other words it’s time for Topic List #21 to start being populated. Those who have been long-time readers of the site know exactly what this means, but for those who have discovered it in the last few months or only drop by occasionally, this means that I put up a “Topic Call” post asking if there are any topics that anyone wishes to see addressed that we’ve not covered recently or before.

That’s right: A topic call is coming! It’ll drop later this week, so if there’s a burning writing question or curiosity you’ve had blending your brain for a while, now’s the time to post it. Usually about a quarter of each topic list—about five or six out of twenty or so topics per list—ends up being from readers, so there’s usually a good ratio of reader questions to go around.

So, if you’ve got a writing topic/question you’d like to see Being a Better Writer address, get ready to post it. When the topic call shows up later this week, you can drop it in, and I can go ahead and find a spot for it on the list.

Now, speaking of reader request, today’s topic is actually a reader request, one that has a bit of a story attached to it. So lean back, grab your favorite beverage or snack of choice if you so desire, and hit that jump. Let’s talk about finding a real publisher.

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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.

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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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!

I’m Back!

Readers! I have grand news! I am back from the north!

That’s right, I have returned from my expedition to the north! And well … let’s just say I think it was a good thing I queued up so many posts in advance, because wouldn’t you know it, things went wrong.

Nothing major. At least, not for this post. I arrived, we got geared up, everything was ready to go … but when the time came for the ship to depart … The depth reader wasn’t working.

This is, for a boat, a pretty vital piece of machinery. Especially when it not only tells you how far away the bottom is, but what kind of bottom it is (something critical for the type of fishing we were about to do). The machine, twenty-plus years old, had finally croaked. It was far beyond support from the original manufacturer, who had already been folded into another company, so that avenue was out of the question. And because these units aren’t exactly modular … Well … we were out of luck.

The result? Money had to be dropped on a new depth reader. Entirely. Which was not cheap, and in an added bit of “of course the universe works like that” took some time to arrive. Combine that with some other stuff, and bingo boom, I’ve been up there for two weeks and we still haven’t made it out on the water.

Once we did, things went largely according to plan. But these delays meant that yes, once again the trip took longer than was initially quoted at me. Hence, my preparation in adding several extra weeks of posts to the original estimate.

Point being, I’m back and I’m glad I prepped in advance? So … what now?

Well, with all of May pretty much a write off (I made my goal a much more realistic quarter of my normal goal and due to the extended trip couldn’t even make that), moving into June there’s one big project on my mind: Starforge.


As of right now, the goal with Starforge is still to work for a November release. Alpha 1 has shown some really rough spots and dissatisfaction with a few elements, so the next few weeks for me are going to be focused on pulling together things and making changes and fixes to try and ready the draft up for Alpha 2.

And this will need Alpha 2 readers. All hands on deck for this one, because there’s a large number of fixes in the wings, but also because I will need feedback on those fixes and what’s already there. So expect to hear more about Starforge in the coming weeks, because my immediate aim—well, once I stop feeling so sore and battered; fishing work really takes it out of you—is to hit Starforge and hit it hard.

Of course, this isn’t all I need to do, but I don’t want to make a first page titan, so for the rest of the upcoming summer, hit that jump.

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Pre-Weekend News and Updates

Hello readers! Max here with a news post. Just keeping you abreast of everything that’s going on.

First, let’s talk about Starforge and how the Alpha 1 is going. The foremost of the current readers is nearing the 75% mark, with the other Alpha Readers behind that in varying locations. In fairness, I did point out what a large book this is.

Now, I have a second bit of news that ties into this. It appears that sometime in May—likely early, but that’s still up in the air—I will be heading back to my hometown of Alaska for a few weeks. This means that I’m going to queue up a bunch of posts for the site, yes, but it also means that for those in the current Alpha Read for Starforge, you will have several weeks to gain a substantial lead on me, or even finish the book.

Alternatively, you can take a weekend or two now and blow through it before May is upon us, and I might be able to make enough edits to start the second Alpha before I go.

Either way, those in the current Alpha are about to be able to get a good lead on me.

So yes, both those bits of news overlap. I’d like to finish the first Alpha before heading out and set up the second, because that would allow the second pass Alpha team to get a lot of reading in before I started making changes, but we’ll see what happens. It kind of comes down to how soon I can start the second editing pass from the first Alpha.

Again entwined with this, there will being Being a Better Writer posts while I’m gone. I’ll queue them up here as I do when I’m out, and write them in advance, as well as the occasional thinking piece on one thing or another.

Furthermore related, don’t forget that if there’s a writing topic you want to know about, you should be letting it be known in the post calling for topics. I’m going to be putting Topic List #20 together next week, so comment now!


Now, in other news, Patreon Supporters may note that I also uploaded another reward sneak-peek earlier this week. A Power in Ink is another short (though I’m giving the definition of “short” a real workout) for the Troubadours and Space Princesses anthology submissions, and while I do need to chop about 800 words from it, it turned out pretty good. If you’re a Patreon Supporter (or on the Discord), give it a look and leave a comment!

Which leads me to another quick note: I’ll likely be compiling another book of short stories sometime this summer while editing Starforge, because I have enough shorts now to certainly do so. Maybe. Shorts are usually something I play with as side projects, experiments, or goofy little ideas, but I do have a decent pile of them now, some of which you supporters have seen.

Either way, we’re looking at a More Unusual Events collection sometime in the next year.


Other than that … that’s the news! Have a great weekend everyone, and do some reading!

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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