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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Being a Better Writer: How to “Find” a Lost Reader or Editor

Welcome readers, to another Monday installment of Being a Better Writer! I hope that your weekends were as full of fun and learning as mine was. By Saturday night, my brain felt like a rubber ball that had been stretched, twisted, and then turned into a pretzel before being bounced off of a few walls. This was largely due to information overload thanks to yet another excellent—I would even say stellar—Life, The Universe, and Everything writing symposium. There is no convention quite like LTUE out there in the world, and this year LTUE came back from the previous COVID year with a smash turnout and tons of newcomers eager to expand their writing skill and knowledge.

Yes, it was fantastic. The panels were incredible and covered a massive swath of topics (as you can see if you check out my post-LTUE writeups), the panelists themselves were excited to share their wealth of knowledge no matter how esoteric (and amazing), and the attendees were full of great questions and thirst for writing knowledge.

Top to bottom, absolutely fantastic. If you’ve never made it the LTUE and you’re at all interesting in improving the craft of your writing, you absolutely should put it on your calendar. If you couldn’t make it this year, that is a shame … but there’s always 2023 and beyond. Whether you’re a guest of honor, a panelist, or an attendee, LTUE is the place to be for writing knowledge and experience.

And yes, all copies of Axtara – Banking and Finance and Shadow of an Empire that were available in the vendor hall sold out. I really couldn’t ask for more! Though, if I may talk about my portion of that experience for a moment, there was more. One attendee stopped by the signing booth to tell me how much they had loved Axtara and couldn’t wait for more. Another individual stopped by the vendor booth selling it after buying it the night before to let the proprietor know (which was then passed on to me) that they’d stayed up late the night before reading it and had already almost finished it, and how much they loved it. And at my last panel of the conference, a fellow panelist pulled out her copy, slapped it down on the table next to me, and asked me to please sign it.

Okay, humblebrag over. And I wasn’t trying to brag, honestly. It was just … those were some great highlights from my weekend, and I wanted to share them.

And I guess yeah, if it encourages anyone to mosey on over to my book page and pick up a copy of Axtara or something else, well that doesn’t hurt either.

But enough pontificating! As awesome as LTUE is, we’ve got writing to talk about! And today we’re going to be answering a reader request regarding editors and readers, and what we as writers must do when they get lost.

So hit the jump, and let’s get learning.

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Weekly Update – Starforge and LTUE

Hello readers! Max here with a quick update on what’s going on! Which is … a lot actually!

So, there’s really only one big question on the mind of most swinging by the site right now: “When is Starforge coming out?”

Well, it’s still going to be a bit. I work hard and fast, but getting Starforge out in anything under a few months would take a literal miracle. There are only so many hours in a day, after all!

But the news is good. I’m currently partway through part two of the book on the Pre-Alpha, making changes, tweaks, and little fixes. Once again, I’m glad I let myself have a break between writing and editing this thing, as some of the chapters I was most worried about I find I’m not nearly so critical of on the reread now that I’ve had a bit of time to “disconnect.”

That isn’t to say that there aren’t issues I’ve been finding and fixing, nor that there aren’t a few chapters that I won’t be paying close attention to the Alpha Reader response when the Alpha happens. There are a few I’ve written down where I want to see what the audience response is before I make a final call, and they may indeed see heavy or maybe even complete rewrites.

Good news is, though, that the Pre-Alpha is progressing at speed. Currently I’m pressing through about 30,000-40,000 words a day in the editing process (that’s about 100-130 pages in print, roughly, at standard sizes).

Those of you that are new are probably thinking “Oh nice, so this’ll be done in a few days, maybe a week at that rate, right?”

Ah, no. Not quite. Starforge is … large. Larger than Jungle by a decent margin. Granted, if you’ve read Colony and Jungle, you know why. There’s a lot of ground to cover in this one. And it does so!

Anyway, enough about Starforge. It’s getting closer, work is being done, and hey, you might even see a teaser soon.

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Being a Better Writer: Enough Is Enough, It’s Time to Release

Welcome back readers, to another Monday! Apologies for the lateness of today’s post; I was up late last night desperately trying to secure a Series X console before the hands of scalpers.

I was not successful. Though a bunch of people did get them, not all of them scalpers. The demand on this thing is through the roof … though given that Xbox “surprised” everyone by launching Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer today, it can hardly be that surprising. Have any of you given it a shot yet?

Yeah, I’m really tempted to make today a “half-day” with my quota and try it out myself. Halo was a formative game from my college years, and I’d still count myself as a fan. The campaign (what I’m really interested in) still doesn’t come out until December 8th, but the multiplayer being out today and being free? Well, there’s not much to lose from trying it save time, right?

Anyway, let me move away from the non-writing things and back towards what we’re all here for: Writing! Starting with another 5-star rating left on Axtara over the weekend. She’s got wings, that’s for sure. With luck, her holiday sales will be strong as well. She is an ideal stocking-stuffer though.

All right, all right, let’s get down to today’s topic. Which, I will note, is the last topic of Topic List #18. That’s right, this week will mark another topic call post for list #19. I’ve already got a few topics written down for the list, but as always, reader request topics are encouraged.

Which is a nice segue back to today’s topic, because it is indeed a reader request (sent through Discord, no less). A reader contacted me asking after today’s discussion. Which most of you have probably guessed from the title, but I’ll state it here all the same. Their question was ‘How do you know something’s ready for release? How do you know when it’s time?”

Hit the jump, and let’s talk about it.

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Being a Better Writer: The Post Labor Day Grab Bag

Welcome back readers! To both of us, actually! I am back at my desk again this Monday, returned from Alaska (which you might have noticed if you saw this post).

So then, what’s today’s Being a Better Writer about? Well … It’s a collection, actually. Long story short, this is my first Monday back, and last Monday, which had a post, shouldn’t have. Yeah, it was Labor Day, one of the few holidays I’ve regularly taken on the site. Except that this time I didn’t, as I was absent, and I hadn’t checked ahead with my scheduler to note that it was a holiday.

Now, normally I’d take today completely off to compensate, but I’m not doing that either, because while I was gone and had a bunch of BaBW posts going up via scheduling, they didn’t get nearly as many eyeballs as they normally would have.

Why? Well because I couldn’t schedule the promotions that take place on a lot of other sites for these posts. So those of you that relied on the site feed to see each new post saw it. Those of you that relied on other site feeds to see each new one, well … You didn’t. I can see the numbers, so I know that.

Thing is, all those posts are still there. And now that I’m back, I can put each of them out in those other places for you to peruse.

Which is what we’re going to do today. While I catch up with a few things and get stuff on my end running smoothly once more for next week, this week I’m going to be delivering a summary of everything that went up on remote last week, so that those using other feeds finally get their due.

So enjoy, and hit the jump to see what posts you might have missed!

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Being a Better Writer: How to Be a Good Editor

Hello readers! Welcome back to the last of the pre-scheduled posts! Huzzah! Yeah, I’m probably back by now, but just in case, I wrote this in advance anyway. And this one? It’s a reader request! Yeah, we had a reader out there that wanted to know how they could go about being a good editor.

You know what? It’s a really good question. One more people should ask, personally. Because here’s the thing: There are a lot of ways to be a good editor. And an equal amount of ways to be a bad one.

Now, there is something I’m going to lead this post with: If you want to be a professional editor, and I mean have that on your door, working either freelance or for a publication somewhere, that is an entire college track. It’s a career. This post? If you want to be a professional, make your living at it editor, then this post’s advice is to go to an education course for that. Pick a school, use legal means to acquire enough wealth to purchase a house so that you can afford a semester or two without incurring crippling debt, and become an editor that way. I realize that’s perhaps not the advice you wanted, but the truth is that if you want to be a professional editor there’s a lot to learn, from various literature standards held across different forms of print to when and how certain rules get broken and why.

Being an editor is not something someone decides they are because they are really anal about grammar and got an A in their high-school English class that one time, or used to subscribe to a magazine about literature. Sorry internet trolls, but the actual requirements for being a professional editor are a bit stricter than “tell everyone else how wrong they are.” Most of us that spend a decent amount of time online inevitably run into these folks, and none of them make for good editors.

So, if you want to be a professional editor and work at a publisher somewhere, or a magazine, or a paper (though both of those last two are getting unfortunately rare as both papers and magazines make cost-cutting measures), there’s a whole degree you can acquire in that, and I would urge you to do so, because there’s a lot of knowledge to gain.

But what if you’re not looking to be a professional editor. What if (as I somewhat suspect this reader was asking) you’re looking to be a helpful volunteer “editor” for a friend’s work? Or on a fanfiction site? What about then? Not professional, but at as hobby element?

If this is you, even just tangentially, then yeah, there are some definite pointers to give out. Hit the jump.

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Being a Better Writer: Killing Your Babies

Hello again readers! Today’s Being a Better Writer post is going to (hopefully) be a bit shorter, because I’m on the last pages of the epilogue for Starforge and I want to finish it! This draft is so close to being done I can taste the freedom!

All right, enough about Starforge. And enough italics. Yes, it’s all I’m thinking about these days, and all I’m writing about, but you guys either want to see it done, or see other content. So let’s dive into today’s BaBW post. This week, another reader request! We’re going to talk about killing your babies.

Okay, this sounds worse than it actually is. If you don’t recognize this term, we’re not actually talking about human babies. Or living ones. But they may feel very alive. Because to a writer, what story isn’t their baby?

And sometimes … that baby’s time has come.

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