Returned From Afar – Happy Memorial Day!

Hello readers! Guess who’s back?

Well, you don’t really have to. After all, this is a new post, not scheduled in any way! So it’s not much of a guess that I am back from my vacation.

And hoo-boy did I need it. I hadn’t realized exactly how stressed and overworked I’d become in the last few years of working with very few breaks. The first few days of my trip, I felt like my mind was one of those crazy metal puzzles with all the rings, but one that had been handed to someone after being passed to an overactive toddler and really bent into an odd shape. Over the last week, it’s gradually relaxed and fallen back into shape, unclenching into something a bit more recognizable.

Basically, five years without a real vacation was a little too much. Even during Christmas and other breaks I spent a lot of days running the site, writing other projects, planning … This vacation was the first time in years were I made a point of not even thinking about writing for the first few days. Complete disconnect.

Sands and storms did I need that.

Now I’m back! Relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to once again to get back to work. Step one? Finishing Starforge. The last quarter is ready to explode into the finale, and I’m ready to write it.

Now, normally this would be the point were I dive into Being a Better Writer, since this is Monday. However, today is also a big holiday in the United States. Memorial Day, when we honor and remember all the fallen warriors that have given their lives in defense of this country. As in keeping with tradition, there will not be an installment of Being a Better Writer today.

However, as I have just come back from an extended break, I will be posting a shorter one tomorrow. So there’s that to look forward to.

Well, that and this awesome picture I took on my vacation. Are you ready? Check this out:

You see it? Right in the upper left-hand corner of the display? That is Axtara – Banking and Finance, proudly on display in my hometown’s library next to Dave Pilkey and a Wings of Fire book.

And yes, I signed it.

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Final Bit of Pre-Vacation News!

Hey readers! I know a Saturday news post is a bit unusual, but hey, I’m going to be on vacation next week, so it is what it is, right? Plus, I do have news!


First, let’s talk about Starforge. No, the draft isn’t done. I’m currently at work on the fourth and final portion of the story, and actually kind of glad I’m going on a vacation because I’ve hit a … shall we say swing point? I know where I’m at, and I know where things are going, but I have two different ways to reach that point and I’m trying to figure out which one works best for the characters.

Again, this is the most stressful writing project I’ve ever had because well, Starforge has to live up to Colony and Jungle, and that is a tall order, especially when it has to finish off both of their respective stories.

The current draft has cracked 400,000 words, by the way. Probably about another 45,000-50,000 to go. Yes. It’s close. Then I’ll probably put it down for a month or so, do some short stories or something for other books or works to let my mind disengage, and then … come back and start editing. Hard. Maybe we can get a November release, but I make no promises.

Of course, if you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking “Sounds like you need that vacation.” Everyone keeps telling me that. Anyway, I’ll have a week off to think about how to swing this last bit of the finale, and there will very likely be some rewrites for the current chapter I’m working on (at the moment I feel it’s a little inconsistent with the tone) once I’m back, but … Other than that, I’ll I’ve got is “it’s still coming, it’s still the most stressful thing I’ve ever written, and I really hope I’m keeping it up to the standard of the first two.”


But I’ve got other news! Really good news, in fact. As of last night, I have officially reached 200 reviews and ratings on Goodreads!

How’s that for a milestone? Combined with my Amazon reviews, that brings me to 359 reviews total. And the average of all those reviews?

4.5 out of 5. If we double that to find the “US grade scale” that puts me at a 90%. Actually, a 91% since there’s some rounding with the last few digits.

Yeah, for all the stress I’m experiencing over Starforge, that review average feels pretty good. And I’m only 41 reviews from hitting that big old 400 I’ve been hunting for.

Curious what pushed me to the new milestone? It was Axtara. Another five-star review from a thrilled reader was the last tick I needed to go from 199 to 200. At the current pace Axtara is racking up reviews, it’ll be competing with Colony before long!


Now let me see. Other news. There will be a Being a Better Writer post while I’m gone, and I’ll be setting up a few classic throwbacks while I’m out so the site won’t be totally dead. I’m going to try and spend this next week somewhat relaxed so my brain can punch through the last few finale bits of Starforge without shredding itself, so I won’t be doing new posts while I’m gone. But again, stuff is set up, so keep an eye on things here. Nothing groundbreaking, but still fun.


Oh, and while we’re discussing news, eagle-eyed Patreon Supporters may have already noticed that the fourth and final portion of A Trial for a Dragon went live this morning! So those of you that have been following the misadventures of Axtara’s older brother Ryax have the conclusion to his struggle with the Rietillian Council of Wizards at last! Thanks for supporting!

And with this, I’m going to sign off, get a few final scheduled posts ready to go … and check out. Enjoy next week everyone, and wish me luck!

Starforge is One Massive Step Closer to Completion (And Other News)

Readers, I have good news: Yesterday, I finished Part Three (out of four total) of Starforge. Finishing out a colossal 56,000 words across three chapters, I laid down the final words of that portion of the draft, and started the section heading for “Interlude 3.”

Which means … Okay, will it actually means a bunch of things. First of all, it means that Starforge‘s draft progress on the “Current Projects” tab is now at 80%, and the total wordcount at 377,000. Now 50k more than Colony, but still almost 79k less than Jungle (which was an absolute unit of a story, and yet at the same time flew by for many).

Second, it means that I need a small break. Today I’ll work on Interlude 3 a little bit, but since I’ve almost hit my monthly quota (I’m just a few hundred words away) I don’t feel the need to stress out about it.

Which is good. The last few months have been very stressful, and Starforge is part of that. Though in fairness, I started working on it officially last July off-and-on between editing on Axtara, and then fully in October. which mean much of its 377,000 word current length has been written in just seven-months. On par for the same speed with Colony, I might note (which was written in six, but was also 50k shorter).

The end is coming, readers. All that’s left is that last 20%. And with that, let’s talk about some other news since we’re all here anyway!

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Bits and Pieces of News

Hello hello people! Yes, I know we had a post Wednesday and yesterday, but there are still a few things to say heading into this weekend. So, diving right in …


Those of you who are Patreon Supporters and fans of Axtara – Banking and Finance will want to keep an eye on the Patreon this weekend. Why? Because the first bit of a unreleased story set in the same universe will be dropping there this weekend. That’s right, it’s a supporter-only look at A Trial for a Dragon, a short story starring Axtara’s older brother Ryax. In … Rietillia? What is he doing there? Well, if you’re a supporter, you’ll have to tune in tomorrow on Patreon to get your first look.

But not the whole of it. It’s a short story but most of you know that doesn’t mean much where I’m concerned. So to keep Patreon from breaking under the size of the post, it’ll be in pieces.

And if you’re not a Patreon supporter, well … it is slated for a future release at some point in a collection. Patience will bring it to you in the end!


Speaking of Axtara, after 22 reviews, it finally got its first non-five-star the other day. A reader gave Axtara … four stars. For its 23rd review.

That’s not bad at all. The banking dragon continues to soar, and it’s a lot of fun to hear back from readers and fans how much they fell in love with Axtara and her adventures in Elnacier!


Speaking of reviews and ratings, just going to point out really quick: I am four ratings/reviews shy of 200 on Goodreads! This brings my total review rating count to … 357! And with all those reviews … still sitting at a 4.5 star average.

Now that’s the power of good writing.


Now, let’s talk about Starforge. I am on the second-to-last chapter of part three, so about to be roughly 75% done, and the total wordcount is … 337,000 words. We’re definitely looking at a Jungle-length adventure here folks. Some of that will probably get trimmed in editing—there’s a tricky balance with the action and pacing that needs to be met, and I’m positive the first draft will require some trimming and tucking to make it hit just right—but at the moment the concern is finishing the story off once and for all. Which I need to get back to, so let me drop other news and get on with it!

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Just News Things

So basically … kind of a news post. But not. More just a case of “Well, I really should say something, and there have been goings on lately …”

Also, I really wanted to talk about what happened yesterday. So you know how I have a standing thing with Axtara – Banking and Finance of “let me know if you find a copy in the wild?” Send a picture, etc?

Well, I’m sharing not a picture, but definitely a demonstration of how far Axtara has spread her wings. Yesterday a new entry popped up on my royalty notifications. One I’d not gotten before. It was an end-of-month royalty for copies sent to bookstore distribution. Checking up, I found that these are usually a bit after the fact (so this royalty was probably for back when Axtara launched), but there was another detail that I caught.

This order was for Germany. Which means that somewhere out there in Germany is a bookstore with Axtara – Banking and Finance proudly displayed on its shelves.

Or not, if it’s already been bought out, at which point they’ll probably order more. Yes, I definitely hope that.

Is this particularly special? Well, yes and no. It’s not like this is the first time I’ve sold books in Germany, or in other countries around the world. My ebook market is pretty global.

But Axtara is my first paperback, and this order means that someone working at a bookstore in Germany was either familiar enough with my work on their own through my ebooks to place an order based on what they already knew, or read the synopsis and thought “Yes, that sounds good. I want to read this, and I think people will buy it,” then placed it then.

Either way, it makes me happy. My paperback sales are now not just global, but they’re in bookstores outside of the US. That is a freaking accomplishment.

And it makes me dang proud. Axtara’s got wings, and she’s using them to fly around the world. I wonder where she’ll land next?

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The Bi-Weekly Update: Road of Recovery

Hello again readers! I’m back! And I feel … Okay, well I’m not quite at 100% yet. I still slept until almost noon today, and am occasionally popping a cough drop into my maw to calm my cavernous coughs … But I’m definitely feeling more like myself than I have since last Friday. I’m hoping that by tomorrow I’ll be back to normal!

So, my (improving) health aside, what’s new?


Well, first let’s talk for a bit about Starforge. And I do mean for a bit, since I’m not about to drop spoilers here. But I can give you all the current wordcount of the first draft. Starforge has grown to 284,000 words. And it’s still climbing. I think by now it may already have more action than Colony and Jungle combined. Think. It’s probably close. There’s still a bit to go though, before it’s done. I’m going to venture a guess and say it’s about a third of the way through part three of four.

Yeah … lot to tie up with this last book. Lot to survive too. And I’ve almost said too much. So I’ll leave it there. Progress continues (especially now that I’m well again).


So, how about something I can give you some more substantial information on, like Axtara! Well, here’s some fun info: Axtara – Banking and Finance continues to be a stellar performer. It’s also delivered some interesting data, like having nearly 1:1 sales between digital and paperback. An interesting result, given that from what I’ve gathered from a lot of other authors their sales tend to go one way or the other (either largely digital or largely paperback). Axtara being almost a perfectly even split is pretty curious to me, but also kind of cool.

Oh, and I have a special request for those of you who loved Axtara: Be sure to request it at your local library! The more people request it, the more chances of a copy being picked up and more people being able to meet Axtara and share in her adventure!

In that vein of audience reaction and request, thank you to all those that have left reviews for Axtara on Amazon and Goodreads! As of right now she’s amassed a total of 19 ratings and reviews across both, all encouraging! So thank you to everyone that’s left your review and rating to tell the world what you think! And if you read it but haven’t left a rating or review yet in either place, please do! Ratings and reviews help readers know what to make of a title (surprisingly enough, not everyone who sees the premise of “dragon opens a bank” come on board immediately).


So let me see … There is some other miscellaneous news to address. Started getting site hits from another college, this one in Texas, so it appears that yet another Being a Better Writer article has been added to a college syllabus somewhere there. That’s pretty neat.

Oh! The computer is fixed! Thanks to the donation of a used power supply and a used Nvidia 1060 GPU from a friend, my computer is once again functioning. Oh, and dead silent compared to how loud it used to be. I had no idea how much of the fan noise from my desktop was coming solely from my old 660 Ti, but it appears it was almost all of it. That one fan was louder than my CPU fan and my case fans. And always had been.

It is really nice to have a functioning PC again.

And though I’m searching my mind looking for more news … I think that’s it. I’m going to get back to work on Starforge now, and I hope all of you have a fantastic week!

Welcome to the Wild: The Bi-Weekly Update

Hello readers! It’s Wednesday, and that means a small news update on how things are ticking along!

First of all, there’s still more news about Axtara – Banking and Finance to deliver now that the paperback is out and in people’s hands. For starters, some of the author copies I promised to people have finally arrived, are now signed, and will be heading out as soon as I get to a post office this week. So rejoice, those of you who are getting one of those: You’ll soon have them in your hands!

Paperback copies of Axtara continue to go out as well. To where, I don’t get to see, but I’ve started seeing listings pop up on other book sites as well (usually European, maybe someone over there loves Axtara?), so they’re starting to spread out. I’ve been told that it’s been ordered by a few libraries as well, which is pretty cool!

So hey, if you’ve found Axtara in the wild, be it at your local library, a bookstore, or a bookshelf, let me know about it! I’d love to see how far she’s flown! Snap a picture with your phone and upload it to imgur or social media, then send me a link! I’ll post it here on the site if you’re willing!

Even if you aren’t, it’d be nice to hear how far she’s made it! How did you find Axtara? And where?


All right, time for other news updates. Starforge continues to make it’s way forward, and now clocks in at 270,000 words. Which may not seem like too much of an increase over the last I shared its progress, but I’ll remind you LTUE happened last weekend, and a big con like that does take a bite out of my writing days. Now I’m back on track and working my way through part three of the draft.


Speaking of LTUE, it was great this year. The team handled the con being all online really well, and a few rough patches on the first day were smoothed out by the end. Those who attended the conference can still go back and watch the streams of each panel, so if you signed up for LTUE and missed something, you still have the option to go see it!

Actually, for those of you who were able to attend this LTUE because of its online nature and would like LTUE to have an online component continuing in the future, let me know in the comments! I’ll pass them along to the LTUE staff and crew so they can see what sort of response they’re getting to keeping the streaming an active feature at future LTUEs!


All right, other relevant news. Computer is still holding up, though occasionally it gets a bit dicey. I’m fairly certain that my GPU is just on its last legs. While the life of that one hard drive can be “extended” by having my rig ignore bad sectors as they occur, a GPU going out is just a case of “it dies until it’s dead.” It’s kind of a shame the market for GPUs sucks right now with all the currency-mining going on; I’d have a better chance of getting a trip to Pisces than a new GPU to replace this old 660 Ti.

Then again, it’s served me long and faithfully. Maybe it can hold out for a year more.

Anyway, there isn’t much other news to share. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get back to whatever it is that Jake, Sweets, and Anna are up to. Which happens to be—

No spoilers. Sorry.


… And I was mistaken. I realized right before I was about to post that I did have one last bit of news. So prior to LTUE, rather than a traditional Being a Better Writer post I had a live Q&A session where I took questions from a chat and answered them on camera. We had a few participants show up, and it was a lot of fun. Which got me wondering: Would any of you be interested in having a live Q&A with a bit more regularity? What sort of regularity, and for what? Leave your comments below if that would be something you’d be interested in seeing, even as a Patreon Supporter Special of some kind?

Let me know, and I hope you’re all having a great week!

Life, The Universe, and Everything Starts Tomorrow!

I mean, after a headline like that, what else is there to say?

I kid. There’s plenty! LTUE 2021, or Life, The Universe, and Everything, the writing convention for writers of Science-Fiction and Fantasy, starts tomorrow and runs through the weekend! Attendees will be able to choose from the hundreds of panels available on a wide variety of topics, covered by experts and experienced authors from those fields. Hours upon hours of content, all day, through the weekend, on just about every topic you can think of associated with writing.

But wait, there’s more! See, due to Covid-19, LTUE this year is not happening in person. It’s all being streamed. Online. Over the internet. And while this does come with some sad drawbacks (no signings, or fun crowds in the halls geeking out over various things) it does have some advantages of its own. Being all online, the geeking out can occur in Discord channels, but with a wider audience than ever before! Where just one year ago your only option if you couldn’t afford a plane ticket to the con itself was to sadly watch the weekend pass by with no writing con experience whatoever, this year thanks to the magic of the internet anyone can watch!

Well, anyone who’s become a member of the convention. These things still are a huge amount of work. But you can register right now at this link if you haven’t yet. And hurry, because the convention starts tomorrow!

As for me? I’ll be there. In fact, I’m presenting on several panels as you can see from this bit from their guestbook:

Now as always, I’d love to hear that you enjoyed one of my panels, but if there’s one at the same time you also really want to go to, I understand. My convention schedule often has two or sometimes even three panels at the same time that I’d like to attend, forcing me to choose, so I get it. There’s always a tough choice to be made. Or sometimes not so tough.

Point being, LTUE is full of amazing panels on all sorts of topics. I will be watching as many as I can with great glee, and hope that with LTUE being online this year, more of you get a chance to attend than ever before.

It’s full of expert advice, insights on the industry, goofy fun (the Fantasy-Romance panel still stands out as one of the funniest panels I’ve ever attended), and lots of chances to geek out over Sci-Fi and Fantasy in all forms.

Hope you can make it.

The Axtara Print Proof is on its way!

Readers! I have fantastic news! The print proof for Axtara – Banking and Finance will be in my hands this weekend!

Yup! It’s ordered and on its way! Which means that I can finally give you guys some solid details! Like, for example, when it might go up for sale.

Yes, I said “might” there. There’s a catch. I’m getting the proof. IE the copy that I have to go through checking for any print mistakes or problems. So hey, I get to read through my book again! This time on paper! If there are errors, like the cover not being trimmer properly or the text being cut off, missing pages, etc etc etc, then I need to track down the source of the issue and fix it, which will mean another proof order.

However, if all is well and I’ve done my job properly, all I have to do is click a button … and Axtara as a trade paperback will be live!

Yes, there will be a post announcing such the moment it happens. But yes, this means that come Monday (or Tuesday), you’ll very likely be able to order a your own hard copy paperback of Axtara – Banking and Finance! As will bookstores, so it’ll be interesting to me to see what happens there. This means that if you don’t have access to Amazon, or want to support your local indie bookstore, they’ll be able to order a copy of Axtara for you and yes, I will still get paid.

For that matter, you’ll also be able to ask your local library to pick up copies of Axtara as well, and they’ll be able to do the same. So if you have no money but a library card, ask your library to grab a copy once it goes live! They’ll be able to!

Now, that’s pretty much it! Oh! Pricing. Yeah, so the final price is $11.99. The final page tally? A little over 300. The cover? Glossy (I can’t wait to see it). I’ll post some pictures for you all to see when it arrives.

So get hyped! We’re only a few days away!

Computer Update

Hey readers! Max here with a quick update on things!

So, this is being written from my computer. And it may be that the source of the problem has been found. Perhaps. Two problems, really.

One was that my thermal paste on the CPU, that critical component responsible for transferring heat to the fans, was dry as a bone. Which means part of the problem may have been that the CPU was overheating. Now that it’s been cleaned and new paste applied, a system check of everything swears it’s all okay. Mem-check went fine too.

Save in one place. My D drive. Yes, it would appear that the D drive, about 15 years old, is failing me. To the point that Windows cannot even repair it and advised when I tried that due to the inability to do so, system instability could result.

So yeah … that seems to be the other culprit. As a result, I’ve moved all valued items off of it to another drive (F), including my music collection (and have set my player to find the library there. I’ve cleared programs using the drive, and already ordered a replacement. Now I just need to wait.

Oh, and during my attempt to copy some stuff off of the drive, the computer crashed again. Which seems … telling, if I do say so myself.

I’ll try and do some work tomorrow, and with luck, there won’t be any issues. If there are well … sands, I don’t know. This should be it. I’ll tiptoe around that drive until the replacement arrives, at which point I’ll open the case up and swap them out. In the end it cost me about $116, but the new replacement is the same size and an SSD (the other option was half the price for the same thing, or the price I paid for 2 TB but old-school SSD. I went for a future-proof.

With luck, this will stop the issue, and things will return to normal. I’ll keep you posted. Being a Better Writer Monday if all goes well.