News Update: Fireteam Freelance, Patreon, Parliament of Wizards, and Coronavirus

News post! All the news I’ve got for you this week! Or at least, today. Starting with Fireteam Freelance news!


Fireteam Freelance

So, it would seem that Fireteam Freelance is slowly but surely gaining momentum, especially with the launch of the second episode! Now, I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news? There’s more coming, including this Saturday. The bad news? This Saturday’s update won’t be the next episode, but rather an interview interlude. There will be another episode soon, but I don’t want to promise anything yet. However, I did make a lot of bonus content in advance, so … Yeah, come Saturday there will be more content, just not episode three.

The next episode is titled Underground Orbit, by the way. But until then, how’d you all like Blackout? It ran a bit long, I think, but I was having so much fun with it I didn’t really mind. I hope you all had as much fun reading it as I did writing it. The power saw scene in particular …

Well, anyway, I hope you guys have enjoyed it. More is on the way! Now, next up, let’s talk about Patreon!

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Parliament of Wizards Submission Call!

Readers! I have news! For you! Which I mentioned in Monday’s Being a Better Writer post but is finally getting its own post here. Submission calls are open for LTUE’s fourth Benefit Anthology, Parliament of Wizards!

If you’re stumbling across this post with no prior knowledge of what any of those things mean, let me catch you up. LTUE is Life, The Universe, and Everything, one of the best (if not the best) writing conventions out there, attended by hundreds of experienced authors and industry professionals all for one epic goal: To talk about writing in all its forms. This is a conference you come to in order to meet your favorite authors and then listen to them talk about the ins and outs of writing.

Better yet, since the goal of the conference is to help writers learn how to write, it’s also open to students and charges $5 for student attendees. LTUE is about giving resources and knowledge to writers of the world, and students are part of that.

Trace the StarsSo, in order to help keep that student cost low even as the con has grown again and again, the LTUE Benefit Anthologies were set up. These are collections of short stories written by a wide variety of authors, some new, some long-time industry vets that are household names, each around a themed topic, and sold entirely in support of the convention.

That’s right, the authors and editors don’t see a penny. All the proceeds from each sale go toward keeping LTUE running and making sure that the price for students stays at $5, so that the young would-be writers of today can get the education to help them become the writers of tomorrow.

To date, there have been two LTUE anthologies published. Trace the Stars, a collection of Science-Fiction stories, was the first and published in 2019. The second collection was published this year, just in February, and titled A Dragon and Her Girl (and I’m in that one!). The third collection, Twilight Tales, will be released next year (2021).

70081760_568294170598543_7425837595373862912_oWhich means that submissions have just opened for the next and fourth collection, Parliament of Wizards, 2022’s release! Stories about wizards. Submissions are open from now until April 30th, and not only is it a good place to submit a story too as they’re open to authors of all experience but again, it’s to help one of the best writing cons out there keep their costs down.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in submitting to, hit the jump for some more details and link to Hemelein Publications’ submissions page!

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Apologies for Vanishing

Hey readers! I live!

Yes, I know I kind of went completely silent after Monday (and given this post-LTUE week, probably not the best idea). But … it wasn’t just you guys I went silent with, nor was it for a lousy reason.

Okay, well it was lousy, just not in the way you’re probably thinking: I caught the con-crud. That’s right, a fusion of who knows how many cold viruses knocked me on my butt pretty good. Monday was okay, Tuesday was a little worse but not too bad … but yesterday? Yesterday it had advanced to a fever, which kind of wrecked my writing for the day (not only did it take a lot longer to put a sentence together, but I half expect that when I look at what I wrote today I’m going to find it wanting).

Good news, though. Last night I bundled up under what would normally be way too many covers and burned the fever out over the course of the night. I’m still sore, stiff, and coughing a bit, but I’m at least on the mend. And mentally competent enough to get back to work and see how much of what I wrote these last two days holds up.

With luck it won’t be too bad. But then again, writing while sick never feels that way at first …

Anyway, I apologize for the delay this has given to updates for the site. Yesterday or today would have been a post-LTUE post talking about some of the stuff I chatted about with other authors at LTUE, but right now I think I’ll wait until tomorrow to get Fireteam Freelance caught up,.

Speaking of Fireteam Freelance, what have you readers made of it so far? I know it’s been a popular post to read, but no one’s said anything. Maybe you’re all waiting on a bit more material before passing final judgement, in which case I’ll keep my own thoughts confined for now. But are you enjoying it? Looking forward to it?

Actually, while I’m writing, I should give you all one bit of post-LTUE news (and commentary): A Dragon and Her Girl, from the reviews dropping in so far, has been warmly received.

I actually finished reading through my copy Tuesday night, and it’s a delightful amount of fun. If you like dragons and heroines in any supply, you should definitely take a look at grabbing a copy.

Anyway, slowly returning to human semblance (or as close as I get, anyway) and coming back to life. More tomorrow!

Life, The Universe, and Everything Starts Tomorrow at Nine AM! Plus LTUE Sale and Fireteam Freelance News!

It’s here, folks! Starting tomorrow at nine AM, Life, The Universe, and Everything begins!

I don’t know how much more there is I can say on this (but clearly a lot, judging from the size of this post). I mean, I’ve just about covered it backwards to forwards pretty clearly. Life, The Universe, and Everything is the Fantasy/Sci-Fi writing convention all about creating Fantasy and Science-Fiction. With hundreds of panels staffed by authors from all across the industry, LTUE is absolutely the best place to be if you want to learn about the art of writing a well-crafted story.

Seriously, take a look at the schedule (PDF warning for those on mobile) and all the different topics that’ll be on display as soon as LTUE opens its doors tomorrow, and marvel at the awesome contained therein. There are panels on various scientific methods for building cities on and under the ocean (surprisingly, I didn’t end up on this one). There’s a panel on building a brand. There’s a panel on using weather in fiction (I’m on that one!).

All of these are in the first hour. LTUE is awesome. Every year I inevitably find two or three panels I wish to attend that are all at the same time, and lacking the ability as of yet to be in multiple places at once, must choose which panel to attend.

Some are laugh-out-loud funny. Others are fascinating explorations of technology or writing techniques I’ve not explored. Some are just (for myself) a nice refresher.

But there are so many to chose from! Even just glancing at the schedule, I can see panels I’d love to attend. The Cold War and Science-Fiction? Or Folk, City, and Farm Magic?

Well, I’m on the latter, so I think my choice has been made for me. This is another “two places at once” situation. Anyone got a time-turner or a delorean I can borrow?

70081760_568294170598543_7425837595373862912_oOh, and let’s not forget that the launch of A Dragon and Her Girl also happens tomorrow at LTUE. Those of you that have pre-ordered your copies, start checking your accounts then! I’m excited to get my hands on it as well, since while I’ve read my story in it, there are still nineteen other stories about dragons and heroines in there I want to pore over!

If you’re not going to make it to the launch party but will still be at LTUE, you can also track me down during the con or during the signing event on Friday night and get your copy signed by yours truly! Yes, I will be at the book signing/sale fair. Curious how that’s going to work out as my books are all digital? Well, they are … but that doesn’t mean I can’t have a presence, sign copies of A Dragon and Her Girl, and a few surprises in store for those that swing by my table.

Semi-Pro Kinda LifeSeriously, LTUE is going to be awesome. Those of you attending, if you spot me walking the halls (see my mug there to the left) feel free to say hello! If I’m running to a panel I’ll let you know, but if not, you’ve got a very good chance of snaring me in a conversation! Many a time at LTUE an entire hour has vanished in conversations between folks in the halls, sometimes digging deeper into the topics of a panel, other times books, and even sometimes obscure but fascinating topics like the restoration of Santa Fe 2926 (a conversation which I look forward to engaging in once again this year and hearing how the last year’s progress has gone).

Also, before we hit the jump, which will head to my LTUE schedule so those of you attending can know where I’ll be, some other bits of news you’ll want to be notified of.

Jungle CoverFirst, everything is on sale for LTUE. Colony is 50% off, Jungle is 25% off, Shadow of an Empire is 50% off, Dead Silver is 67% off, and Unusual Events is 50% off. The only one that’s not discounted is One Drink, because it’s already as low as it can go under the current store rules. It’s 99 cents, folks.

Anyway, the big LTUE sale will run through Monday, February 17th, so if you’re looking to complete your collection, or looking to expand it as a newcomer who just picked up a copy of A Dragon and Her Girl, you’re in luck! You can literally grab everything I’ve published to date for $15. That’s over a million words of adventure, mystery, magic, mayhem, and more.

But only until the 17th. Click the cover to the right to go to the Amazon page and start browsing!

Now, onto the final bit of news before the jump and the schedule: Fireteam Freelance. Episode 0 dropped last week and, within a single day, became the most-read feature on the site that week. Off to a good start, I’d say. Well, for those of you that are fans, I’ve got good news. This weekend you’ll be getting an interlude. Not a whole new episode, but a smaller piece that slots in between “0” and “Kamchatka” while work continues on that next episode.

Patreon supporters, meanwhile, will get that interlude today. Rewards for supporting Being a Better Writer and all that. So if you’re a Patreon supporter, look for that interlude today, if you’re not, then come back this Saturday for a small glimpse leading into Episode 1!

All right, that’s all the news. Hit the jump for my schedule, and I hope to see you at LTUE!

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Hello Readers, Do You Like Art?

Hello readers! Max here with some really good news, and a question for you: Do you like art?

Let me be more specific. Would you like this art? As a 12″ x 24″ glossy print suitable for framing?

Shadow of an Empire - Textless Wallpaper

This is the glorious cover image from Shadow of an Empire in all it’s full-sized glory, and there’s definitely a good reason I’m asking.

As most of you know (but some may not, hence the statement), LTUE is next week! That’s right, Life, The Universe, and Everything is next Thursday through Friday. The big writing con … and if you’re still drawing a blank, check this post for details.

So, at LTUE there’s a book signing and sale event, where you can get books and whatnot from your favorite authors. And yes, I will be there. Not with physical copies, sadly. Not this year. But I will have facilities for folks to grab my books anyway (I’m pretty proud of that).

But as I’m getting things printed up, well … this is a lovely cover for Shadow of an Empire, and I’m curious … how many of you attending LTUE would be interested in a 12″ x 24″ glossy of it? The kind of thing you could stick in a frame and hang on your wall?

Because I can print some up and bring them to the con. They’d be $14 cash or if someone showed me receipts right then and there for having just bought Colony, Jungle, and Shadow, complimentary.

If I print up a couple. So now I turn to you, readers. Are any of you attending LTUE interested in something like this? Post in the comments below and let me know!

Other good news: I would expect the first chapter of Fireteam Freelance this weekend. Just … letting that one out there.

“A Dragon and Her Girl” Now Available for Pre-Order!

70081760_568294170598543_7425837595373862912_o

Hello readers! Max here! Taking some time out of my day working on Fireteam Freelance (Patreon folks look for some nuggets from that soon!) to deliver some awesome news!

A Dragon and Her Girl, the second LTUE benefit anthology, is now up for pre-order! Contained within its pages? Twenty, yes twenty stories of dragons and heroines from a wide variety of authors old and new. Author’s like Mercedes Lackey. Or me!

That’s right! Recall all that talk about A Game of Stakes? Well, at long last it’s arriving! This is the collection it’s in! You guys can finally read it!

But not only will you get A Game of Stakes, but nineteen other stories of dragons and heroines! Plus, it’s a benefit anthology! Purchases of A Dragon and Her Girl go towards supporting LTUE’s student tickets, allowing students of all ages (K-12 and college) to attend LTUE at a heavily discounted price so they can learn to be the Sci-Fi and Fantasy creators of tomorrow!

So not only are you getting twenty awesome fantasy stories about dragons, you’re supporting students who are actively looking to learn! That’s a pretty good combo right there.

So quick, hop on over to the Amazon page for A Dragon and Her Girl and pre-order your copy! Or, if you’re going to be at LTUE, join us for the official launch party on Thursday, February 13th at 3 PM and pick up a hard-copy right there! Or hit up the signing later and get it autographed!

That’s all for now. Me, I need to get back to Fireteam Freelance. And you, readers? You’ve got a book of dragons to check out!

See you at LTUE!

News Post!

Heyo folks! Who’s ready for some news! A good chunk of it! You? Good! Because that’s what this post is! We’ve got a couple of topics to cover today, from news about Axtara and Fireteam Freelance to Patreon.

Okay, so first up, let’s talk about the Patreon. And … there went half of you. Wait come back! It’s not what you think!

Okay so first up, I want to let those of you that are Patreon Supporters know that another chapter of Sunset: Stranded is up on Patreon for your perusal. If you’re familiar with it, you know the deal. If not (and you’re not a supporter) it’s a fanfic project, and I throw chapters of it up on Patreon as they are completed. Those of you who have been enjoying that adventure though, rejoice! There’s a new chapter at last. You can head on over to the posts page to find it, supporters.

But that’s not all. As I mentioned at the beginning of the year, one of my goals with in starting 2020 is the revitalization of my Patreon Page, and that starts tomorrow. Tiers are going to be simplified. Goals are going to be reined in. The front page is going to be cleaned up. Nothing at the core will change: The Patreon is still going to be about keeping this site ad-free and in support of more Being a Better Writer articles (and as a bonus to help an author stay afloat). But the page itself will reflect that a lot more than it currently does, in more concise language.

Additionally (and you may have noticed this last week), but each Being a Better Writer article will now have a special thank you section, thanking each Patreon supporter by name. Well, with one exception, that being names that appear to be a person’s real name. In that case, I have chosen to use one part of their real name, rather than the whole name, in the interest of privacy.

But now, current supporters will have their names attached to each BaBW as it is written as a public acknowledgement of their support. In hindsight, I can’t believe it took me this long to get around to it, but … Well, you know what they say about hindsight.

So anyway, that’s the plan with Patreon. Now. onwards to talk about Axtara – Banking and Finance!

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Life, The Universe, and Everything 2020!

I’ve been waiting to make this post for months now, readers! But with the new year upon us, it’s finally time. Life, The Universe, and Everything 2020 is almost upon us, with a little over a month to go!

Some of you readers are cheering quietly (or perhaps loudly) while mentally double-checking your hotel reservation for next month, but some of you, I’m sure, I are looking at this post and thinking “Isn’t that a Douglas Adams book?” while wondering what I mean about next month. So before we go any further, let me clear that up.

First, yes, it is the title of one of Douglas Adams’ books. Life, the Universe, and Everything was the third book in his Hitchhiker series and released in 1982. So you’re not wrong there. However, that is the LtUE with a lowercase “t” on the “the.” The uppercase variant?

Why, it’s Life, The Universe, and Everything, the premier Fantasy and Science Fiction Writing Convention! With an uppercase “T.” But yes, it is a reference.

“All right,” some of you might say. “So it’s another Sci-Fi/Fantasy con. So?” To which I’d reply “No, not exactly.”

See, LTUE is a Sci-Fi/Fantasy writing con. While other conventions are about getting together just to have fun dressing up and meeting authors and creators, LTUE is different. LTUE is about creation. Where other Sci-Fi/Fantasy cons will have panels where you can meet your favorite author and ask questions about your favorite series or listen to them talk about their favorite moments from the book, LTUE has panels where you come to hear your favorite authors talk about the art of writing.

That’s right. Hundreds of authors on hundreds of panels, talking about writing. How to write. Pitfalls. Elements you may not have considered. Topics for days.

That’s right, LTUE is a convention for writers who want to learn more about writing. With panels given by some of the biggest names in the industry. While also having signings, art shows, game rooms, and all the fun stuff you’d expect from a regular con.

In other words, if you’re a writer of any level interested in Sci-Fi and Fantasy, LTUE is the con to go to. For learning, for networking, for even just having fun chatting with favorite authors or new ones! It’s the con.

Okay, so that’s what LTUE is. Oh, and if you’re a student (college or k-12), tickets are … around $5. For three days of con awesome.

In other words, what are you waiting for? The website is here, reserve your ticket! And while you’re at it, take a look at their guestlist and schedule to start planning what panels you’d like to attend!

While you’re at it, you may notice a familiar name on the Guestlist and attached to a number of panels! Which brings me to the second reason for today’s post: Letting you all know that yes, I will be at LTUE this year, paneling once more! And signing, and doing a reading …

It’s going to be a big year for me this LTUE. A very big year. I’m pumped.

But it means that, in addition to letting you all know that LTUE is approaching (February 13th-15th), I also get to have the wonderful pleasure this year of putting up my LTUE panel schedule, letting you all know where you can find me over the course of the con! So, without further ado, a list of all the LTUE appearances I’ll be making this year! I’ll repost this as we get closer to the date of the actual con, but for now: Get ready and excited! It’s coming!

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Unusual Things’ Best of 2019

Hello readers, and welcome to 2020! Life here is getting into gear as the New Year (and decade; yes I’m one of those people) starts off, and there’s plenty to do, starting with the final chapter of Axtara – Banking and Finance, which should be done today. At which point work will begin in earnest on Fireteam Freelance. Another chapter of Stranded is almost complete as well, for those of you supporting on Patreon.

Speaking of which, I’ve decided to revamp the Patreon page with the new year, so look for that upcoming project in the next week or so. My goal here is to trim it down and make it a lot more straightforward and clear. As is the page intro is from several years ago and entirely behind the times.

Also, Being a Better Writer will resume this coming Monday, with a whole new slew of topics and writing concepts to discuss. The break is over, and BaBW is back! And some of these upcoming topics well … they’re interesting!

But as I prepare to move forward, I thought some of you may like a look back at 2019. Specifically, some of the biggest events of 2019, articles and otherwise, to have hit Unusual Things. Now with meta-commentary!


 

Jungle

Jungle Cover

Obviously, the elephant in the room, the single biggest, defining moment of 2019 was the release of Jungle. Yes, I’m sure some of you are tired of hearing about it by now because you come here for writing advice, not to hear about the writing from the guy who generates the advice, but tough nougats. My site, my rules, and one of the biggest impacts of 2019 was the release of Jungle.

Jungle was a titan of a project, involving thousands of hours worth of work over several thousand pages. A 457,000 word juggernaut of fiction, Jungle was the sequel to 2016’s smash-hit Colony, and hit with about the same amount of force.

Jungle hasn’t even been out two months yet, but the early response from fans and readers has been clear: This is a worthy successor to what Colony built, and they can’t wait for the next installment.

There was a lot else that happened in 2019, but the release of Jungle was the crowning peak. If you’re one of the few unfortunates that haven’t had a chance to see yet why this was such a big deal, well … You can grab a copy of Jungle here and be reading on your phone in seconds. Or if you’re really out on a limb and haven’t even read its predecessor, Colony, yet, then you can grab that here. Though at this point if you haven’t done either … I mean, really? It’s akin to hanging out at the movie theater but not ever watching anything.

Anyway, Jungle was the biggest event of 2019, but there were other moments that left their impact. Hit the jump and we’ll take a look at a few more.

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The First Seven Years: 2013-2019 in Review, and the Journey Ahead

Hello readers! No, there’s no Being a Better Writer article today, since I’m still on break. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any content to be had! No, as we’re about to head into a new decade, 2020 now just two days away (less, depending  on when you read this), it’s the perfect time for a look back. Two looks back, actually! For one, we’ve got 2019 to look at, to see how it stacks up against 2018, but we’ve also got the decade as a whole. Well, minus seven years, as my first book—One Drink for those that have joined us since then—was only published in 2013. But as we look back today, I’d be remiss not to look over the decade as a whole and see where it’s taken both myself and you readers. To see the growth of this grand adventure as it continues to build!

So then, let’s dive right in and talk about the year! How’d 2019 stack up?

Jungle CoverObviously, the big elephant in the room is Jungle. The titan (literally, check out that word count) of a Colony sequel that landed in November. Jungle was 2019’s only book release but … what a release!

Jungle was a titanic effort, taking months upon months of work from myself and dedicated Alpha and Beta Readers to polish and prepare. But in the end?

Jungle has been a titanic success. Though only out for the last two months of 2019, it’d be impossible to talk about the state of things without it. While not quite reaching the pre-order and high-burst numbers  Colony did at its release, Jungle has instead remained a steady seller, even as it garners reviews with greater speed than Colony ever did. Reviews which have so far entirely been positive. As of today, Jungle is still sitting with a perfect Five-Star score across Amazon and Goodreads, with a lot of praise lauded on it in its reviews for how it moves the story forward while taking it in surprising new directions!

Of course, this means good things for sales as well. Jungle catching eyes has only brought a renewed resurgence of interest in Colony as well, which has seen a nice sales increase as a result of Jungle catching reader’s eyes and then going on to read both.

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