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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Shadow of an Empire Brings the Praise

Well readers, Shadow of an Empire has been out now for just over a month, so I thought that, in light of yet another excellent review it picked up last night from Frigid Reviews, it would be timely to go ahead and look at some of the responses to the book thus far from readers! If you have not read Shadow of an Empire yet, this may be the post that hints that you should!

So, without any further ado, let’s take a look at some reader feedback for Shadow of an Empire. We’ll be looking at excerpts, but you’ll be able to click the title of each review to get a look at the full text yourself.

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Being a Better Writer: Applying Writing Advice and Feedback

Welcome back readers! Another Monday is upon us, and I’m diving right in today. by picking up a request topic from Topic List X!

So, you’ve done it at last and found a like-minded group of people who’ve come together in a pleasantly pleasing—yet still critical—writing group (more on that topic another time). You’ve met, discussed one another’s work, and as expected, they’ve found some areas you can polish with your work. But then, as you sit down the next day to look over what the group had discussed and the fixes you want to make, you come to a sobering realization.

You have no idea how to actually apply the advice they gave you. You know where the problems lie, sure, and what didn’t work. You’ve even got a few suggestions that they gave you. But as to how to put that advice to work in your writing? Suddenly, you’re drawing a blank.

And to be fair, this isn’t easy. Sands, that’s why the question was asked! Getting feedback on what needs to be fixed and then figuring out how? It’s a challenge, especially if it’s your first time having received such. You might even feel a little overwhelmed!

But first step—and this is key—is not to worry. Feeling overwhelmed is often one of the first reactions when faced with the thought of apply writing advice or sticking it into your story. And once you’re overwhelmed, it’s hard not to focus on that feeling.

So first, let’s break things down, shall we?

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Being a Better Writer: Micro-Blast #4

Welcome back, readers, to yet again another Monday Being a Better Writer post that has obviously been relegated to Tuesday. Someday I’ll make enough money from my writing to be able to give up my part-time job, but right now … if they want me on Mondays, they unfortunately have me.

So, this week we’re doing another Micro-Blast! New? Wondering what a “Micro-Blast” is an what it has to do with writing? Thoughts already jumped to something non-writing related already, like those tiny fruit snacks with juice in them?

Okay, maybe I’m just hungry. Anyway, a Micro-Blast is something that usually happens as I near the end of another topic list. This being a real, physical list that I keep on my desk and consult each week to select a topic for the upcoming post. The topics on this list are collected from a variety of sources, usually anything that makes me think “Hey, that would be a good BaBW topic,” but also from readers that write in with questions and requests.

Anyway, these topics can often vary in the amount of effort needed to address them. Sometimes it’s simply a topic where I’d be better suited saying my piece and pointing readers elsewhere, other times it’s just a quick answer that isn’t really deserving of a full break-down on it’s own, but at least merits a paragraph or two, and sometimes it’s just a topic I haven’t done much thought about, and therefore needs more research before I can weigh in one way or another. And then, of course, there are the topics that don’t have any of those issues, and I can write a full post on.

But at the end of a list, what results is often a small collection of leftover topics, a hdgepodge of tiny summaries that, for whatever reason, never got posts on their own.

Micro-Blast BaBW posts are the answer to these small collections of topics. A way to “finish off” each topic list by rapid-fire tackling each remaining issue with a small posting of its own.

So, this said, it’s time to finish off, once and for all, Topic List 8 so that next week, I can start anew with Topic List 9! Which also means you can expect a post later this week asking for suggestions for the list. I’ve got a bundle of my own from the recent LTUE conference, but as always, reader suggestions are a welcome way to add topics.

Anyway, enough rambling! Let’s clear this list!

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