Delaying My Fireteam Freelance Thoughts + Other Updates

Just a quick update, but I’ve pushed my post on Fireteam Freelance back a few days. It’ll come out next week. Why?

So that there’s more time for readers to post their thoughts to the reader feedback post. A day (less, really) isn’t enough time for most people to respond, and most people react when they hear that a newer, larger post is coming by just ignoring it.

Which isn’t great for a feedback post. I’m still going to write my look back on it today, but it won’t go up for a bit yet.

Meanwhile, the Alpha 2 Reader Call is still open. Axtara could use a few more eyes to give it a quick read. 120,000 words, so a few days worth of decent reading. Nothing big. Head on over to the Alpha 2 call page and comment if you’d be interested. It’d be fast and quick, something you could blitz through on a weekend.

Patreon Supporters, meanwhile, have a first-chapter preview over on Patreon. It won’t be the last either! So if you’re a supporter wondering what the hubbub is about, head on over and get your first look!

Tomorrow I’ll once again start trawling for a cover artist. Plus start looking at timetables for Beta 1 …

Starforge‘s first draft is sitting at 56,470 words. This one’s going to easily be just as titanic as Colony and Jungle, but there’s a lot going on in these chapters.

Anyway, I’m going to get to work now. Hit the links, have a good weekend!

Fireteam Freelance: The Feedback Post

Well readers, it was a several month journey getting here.

Work first started on Fireteam Freelance at the end of February. At the time, I had no idea how it would turn out. An episodic series? Posted for free, as it was written, with no editing, directly to the site? This was one of those experimental things that sounded interesting, but there were a lot of question about how it would turn out. Now, six months later and with the last entry in the series complete, uploaded, and posted, and with an audience that’s been following every episode of the journey, it’s time for me to ask: what did you guys think?

I have my own thoughts on Freelance, but I’ll be posting those tomorrow. With this post I want to hear from you readers. Those that read it, those that bounced off of it … the gamut. Freelance was experimental, embracing a lot of things that made it different from my more usual, published stuff. It was episodic, which meant that the content of each episode always had to feature the same elements, unlike a book chapter which could count on a reader having read prior chapters.

Basically, there was a lot different about Freelance, and while I’ve got my own thoughts on its performance, what worked, and what definitely didn’t, I’d like to hear from you readers that spent the last six months following it. I want to hear what you liked about it, but also what you didn’t like about it, what you felt worked or didn’t, and/or even what left you feeling cold.

Because again, Freelance was experimental. An exercise in stretching out and trying something new to see how it worked, to see what I could do with it and what readers would think.

Rather than sell something so volatile and unpredictable (after all, it could fail utterly as a fun product), I decided to make it free and see what would happen.

So anyway, this is your big chance to tell me what you thought. And I’m looking forward to hearing it. As I said, I have my own thoughts on it that I’ll post tomorrow, but for now? I’m interested in hearing what you guys thought and think of the adventure now that it’s over.

Hit this link to start commenting!

Being a Better Writer: Being Your Own Worst Critic

Hello readers! First of all, I must apologize for how late this post is. Long story short, after a few days of not sleeping well (some nights barely at all) thanks to my cracked ribs, last night I achieved comfort (mostly) with a large body pillow and a giant bean bag. The result was that I slept for quite a long time. Until about 2:30 PM to be exact. So my apologies, first of all, for this post coming so late in the day.

That said, let’s dive right in so you’re kept from it as little as possible! Let’s talk about the art of being your own worst critic.

This is something that comes up a lot in writing circles. In fact, if you hang out in a writing group you’ve probably heard it a few times. Maybe more than that. You’ll hear it in writing classes as well, and even occasionally from random people passing off “cliche writing advice” (which we did a whole summer feature on last year). But here’s something interesting about this bit of advice: it’s hardly ever expounded upon.

Which can leave a lot of young writers a little perplexed, because, well, let’s face it, advice like “be your own worst critic” is a little vague. Worse, if they happen to know of a bad critic and take the saying at face value, becoming even worse, well … Let’s just say this sends them down a very self-destructive path. In an age where anyone can be a “critic” with the only goal of ripping someone’s hard work to shreds simply because they can, telling someone to be a worse critic than that can end a young writer’s journey before it’s even started.

Which is a shame, because properly explained, being your own worst critic is a pretty good idea, one that every writer should internalize and apply. It’s just that it’s been … warped is a good term for it … by the modern definition of “critic” most people subscribe to.

So then, with today’s post, let’s look at this through some fresh eyes. First, let us discuss what a critic, especially in terms of this context is not, despite the changing of the popular meaning, and root out any mistaken concepts that stem from that misconception, as well as the negative consequence of such.

Once we’ve established what a critic is not, then we’ll discuss instead what “being your own worst critic” really entails, and what that means for writers who want to apply it to their writing. You ready? Then let’s get this underway!

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The Stable Instability

Hello readers! Never fear, I’m still alive. Just hard at work on episode #10 of Fireteam Freelance.

Episode ten? Why yes, I am getting that far ahead. Which is good, because these last episodes are probably going to be pretty titanic. “Season finale” and all that.

Of course, having a pretty good buffer does mean that this Friday will see the release of the next big episode: Missing Persons. I’m pretty pleased with how this episode turned out. Not only did we get a neat view of a future cityscape, but we also got to see a seriously cool action sequence. And some more puzzle pieces clicking together …

Anyway, that will be up this Saturday, so be sure to keep an eye open. We’ve passed the halfway point with Mandatory Takeout, so things are coming together and moving with a swifter and swifter pace, and again, I’m pretty pleased with some of the action sequences from this Saturday’s episode. They’re pretty crazy.

So, moving on to further news: Facebook advertising is now rolling forward. It’s still somewhat experimental, and I’ll admit I don’t have the strongest grasp on it yet (a lot of this is very much learn as you go), but I desperately needed something to combat the abject slump that came about with the reopening of the economy. Sorry, partial reopening. A topic which I won’t get into outside of saying “It’s divisive.”

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Fireteam Freelance: Thoughts and Feedback as we Near the Season Halfway Mark

Hello readers! So last night, I finished up episode seven of Fireteam Freelance, titled Missing Persons.

Those of you that are following along with each episode as it goes live may note that the last episode you read was number five, Catch Your Breath. That’s correct: I’ve managed to get a little ahead of the uploads by having the interviews interspaced with each episode.

Which means that yes, this Saturday will see the uploading of episode six, Mandatory Takeout, in which the team is asked to make … a supply raid on a UNSEC logistical center?

Bits and pieces coming together, folks. Bits and pieces.

So, seeing as you’re about to get the halfway mark of the season, and I’m starting episode eight today (Last One Out), I figured now would be a good time to talk about my thoughts on the series so far, as well as invite you readers a space to make your own responses (or just comments in general on the series so far).

Hit the jump to see what I’ve made of my creation so far. Then leave your thoughts.

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Fireteam Freelance Episode 2 Update and Episode 1 Discussion

Update time! Episode two, titled Blackout, will not be posting tomorrow. It’s about halfway done, though, so look for it next week. What’s episode two about? Well, it involves a new job (shocker!) and … the Mexican Orbital Elevator?

Maybe I should give you guys a bit of a preview! Tell you what, hit the jump below and you’ll get your preview, but after that, let’s open comments for people’s thoughts so far! We’ve technically had three entries, between Episode 0, an interlude, and Episode 1. What’s everyone making of the series this early on? How’s the episodic format working for you? Do you like it? Dislike it? Let me know it the comments, or chat with other readers!

Oh, and I should let you know, I’m planning on getting an official cover made here soon … likely in March. I’m thinking … lots of high energy neon colors. More on that as it comes.

In the meantime, comment on what you think, hit the jump for a little teaser, and then mark your calendars for next Saturday when Blackout will likely drop!

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Jungle: The First Two Weeks

Jungle CoverHello readers! I’m back! Two posts in two days is cutting it a little close, but … We’ve got special circumstances here.

How so? Well, as of two weeks ago Jungle, the long-awaited sequel to Colony, launched at last.

That’s right! It’s been out two weeks already. Some of you might even be getting close to finishing its titanic 1500 or so page length!

And a few of you already have, and left delightful reviews and ratings.

So, let’s talk about it for a bit! What’s the reaction so far?

Positive. Very positive. After two weeks, Jungle is sitting at Five-stars. With only five-ratings and reviews across Goodreads and Amazon. But again, it’s a titan of a book, and only came out two weeks ago. So even in two weeks, that’s a pretty hefty, time-consuming read. Five ratings and reviews in that time is pretty good.

Though, if one goes off of the reviews so far, it’s pretty easy to see how some finished it that quickly. Jungle has a knack, it seems for sucking the reader in and taking them on a ride to the very end, a ride no one wants to put down. One of the reviews is titled “A Tour de Force” for this exact reason.

So, let’s take a peek at some of these accolades! Well, from the aforementioned “Tour de Force” review, we’ve got this praise:

Lush, wildly imaginative and painstakingly yet appropriately concisely detailed settings, interstellar in scope but with careful attention to individual characters and their human(-ish?) interactions, speculative science that was fantastic beyond my imagining yet internally consistent and satisfyingly believable, and most important to me, characters that I could care about – even several of the ones who were obnoxious or abrasive (much like the real humans in my circle).

Another reviewer noted that the story “… becomes a frenzied dash for survival” and summed up a lengthy (but concise and spoiler-free) review with—

Ultimately, Jungle is a slow-build thrill ride full of interesting characters, deadly stakes, and terrible threats looming around the corner. The threats here are far less human than the last story had to offer, but is no less engrossing for it. Fans of Colony will not be disappointed.

Both gave it five stars.

So yeah, Jungle is off to a very strong start, at least in the reactions from the public. Speaking of which, if you’re currently working your way through it, what are your thoughts so far? Predictions for the future? Where are you at? How are you liking it so far? Leave a comment! I’d be interested in knowing what you’re thinking!

So, Jungle is being received well critically. What about as far as sales go? Well, that’s proved interesting so far. Hit the jump for a discussion on sales and interesting trends on display.

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The Most-Read BaBW Post to Date

So, I got curious the other day and started digging through site history on here. Why? Well, I can look at stats here on a yearly basis (but not lifetime, for some odd reason) and started wondering about each year’s most popular Being a Better Writer posts. What, I wondered, was the most popular (read: one with the most views) to date?

Now, granted, this is a little unfair. Posts that have been around longer have much more time to rack up views, so older posts automatically have an advantage. Case in point, the most highly-viewed BaBW post comes from 2015, so it’s had four years to gather its viewcount. The post right behind it has had two. The post that I believe to be in third place has only boomed recently, since it became a wikipedia reference.

Anyway, not much point in beating around the bush. The (current) most read BaBW article of all time?

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More Alpha Readers! Plus News.

Hey folks! Max here with a bit of an interesting request from an Alpha Reader on A Game of Stakes.

See, I’ve got some folks going over it, picking through things, etc etc. So far, the majority response has been overwhelmingly positive, which is awesome. There are a few things to clean up and wrinkles to iron out (the ending needs a little adding), but overall I’ve already been told by a few that it’s hands-down one of the favorite things they’ve read from me.

Which is awesome. One reader however, did stand very firmly on what they see as a very large misstep and issue with a character. I disagree, and no other pre-readers have said anything about it, but there’s always a chance that there’s a grain of truth to it.

Hence? A SECOND Alpha Reader call! I want to get some more eyes on it and see if anyone else brings up the same “issue.” Personally, I doubt it, but in the interest of polish polish polish I’d rather get some more eyes on things just too see.

Crud, I won’t even say what the issue is. This is going to be 100% blind. Which doesn’t mean I want Alpha Readers that make a problem. No, that’s not the goal here. The goal is the same as any other Alpha Read: Read through and look for Alpha issues (plot errors, awkward segments, etc) all as normal. If someone else brings the same issue up, then it needs a serious look. If not … well, some things truly are opinion.

A Game of Stakes is only 15,000 words, so it won’t take too long to read through. Plus, it’s got a dragon, which is always a bonus, right?

If you’re interested in Alpha Reading, do the usual thing and contact me, and we’ll see about hooking you up with an Alpha invite.


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Being a Better Writer: Good Sources of Positive Interaction

Hello readers, and welcome back to another Being a Better Writer Monday usual!

Yeah, I know. I need to think of some new greetings. Regardless, I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Mine was both invigorating and enlightening. Twice a year my faith holds a church-wide, televised conference over Saturday and Sunday, and this weekend happened to be it, so I had a lovely weekend relaxing in my recliner listening to said conference and doing self-discovery and examination.

In any case, that doesn’t have too much to do with today’s topic, though if I wanted it too, I likely could find some application. Actually, now that I’ve typed that, I think I can already see some application, but it remains to be seen if they’ll come out in this post or not.

So … Good sources of positive interaction. This is kind of an interesting topic, one that has to do more with the tangential bits of writing than the straight act of putting your fingers to a keyboard (or pen to paper, if you’re that old-fashioned). You could probably write an entire book—no, you could—without ever finding a need for this particular topic. But as you write a second? Or a third? Or start to edit that first one?

Well … this topic suddenly becomes a lot more valid. As solitary as writing can be at times (which is very, just ask my friends and family, some of whom occasionally see me come up for air), it’s also an act that cannot exist in a vacuum. Not just socially (we as human beings need interaction with others) but for the good of our writing as well. We need feedback. Responses. Interaction.

So how do we find good interactions that will improve our craft? And how do we avoid those that will harm it?

Well, that is the topic according to the post title, isn’t it? So let’s dive into this.

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