Axtara – Banking and Finance is OUT!

Happy day to all! For it is on this day, December the 22nd, 2020, that one of the standout moments of what many would agree has been a year, has occurred.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Axtara – Banking and Finance is out!

For those of you who’ve missed it (entirely possible, I’ll admit) Axtara – Banking and Finance is a Young Adult Fantasy novel telling the tale of the titular Axtara, a young dragoness leaving the nest and setting out for the edge of the known civilized world with a single goal: to found and operate her own bank.

Naturally, it’s not going to be easy. The small kingdom she’s headed to has never had a bank before.

Of course, it’s never had a dragon either …

Axtara is available as an ebook, and is also on Kindle Unlimited. A print edition is planned for January, but let’s be honest, right now is the season to curl up with a book and read a fun fantasy. So click the cover there and give it a look!

But before you close this tab, I do want to mention one other little thing: In celebration of the season, and of the new book, there’s also a big sale going on the rest of my library. Been eyeing Jungle or Shadow of an Empire for a time and waiting to pick a copy up? Now’s your chance! Head on over to my author page and take a look! If you’re looking for stocking stuffers for a reader out there, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for! Go go go!

And have a Merry Christmas filled with dragons, wild west shootouts, and spaceships!

Classic Being a Better Writer: The Ellipses and the Em-dash, Odd Forms of Punctuation

Hello readers! Welcome to this week’s Being a Better Writer! If this post looks a little familiar to you, well that’s likely because you’ve seen it before! That’s right, I’m on vacation for Christmas (barring that there’s no way I’ll be taking a break tomorrow when Axtara – Banking and Finance releases) so for the next few weeks we’ll be seeing some older, classic Being a Better Writer posts showing up some of you may have missed. This week? Well, this post on ellipses and the em-dash isn’t too old (about a year and a half) … but it was a fun post that came with a neat follow-up and some odd tidbits of knowledge.

Now, before we dive into it, I do want to remind you all that Axtara – Banking and Finance releases tomorrow, and is available for pre-order now. In fact, you can order it (if you’re in the US) just by clicking the cover to the left there, or by searching for “Axtara Banking and Finance” on whatever Amazon you use if international. Axtara is a charming Young Adult Fantasy novel about a young dragon setting out to open her own bank and … Well, I won’t spoil anything past that, but come on. That premise is solid enough as is.

As I said, it comes out tomorrow, and it’s $4.99. Pre-orders and day one sales help it earn momentum and find new eyeballs, so grab it when it you can. It also, I would note, is a fantastic Christmas gift if you’re looking for a stocking stuffer for the reader in your life. Especially if they at all enjoy YA Fantasy or female protagonists.

So, go ahead and order that! Then come back here and get ready to read about the ellipses. That form of punctuation that you see used a lot, but many teachers never discuss. They’ll talk all about a period, or a comma, or a question mark …

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Merry Christmas, readers!

Being a Better Writer: Holidays

Hey there readers! How were your weekends? Healthy, I hope. I spent all of mine inside working on Starforge, Axtara, or recuperating. My Covid-19 test came back negative, but that just meant whatever I did have likely wasn’t Covid. It was still something, so I skipped church on Sunday (doing the smart thing) and gradually felt better as the weekend moved on.

Either way, due to that, I really don’t have much in the way of news to report or talk about from this weekend, so there’s not much for me to do here but dive into this week’s topic. Which, as you might have noticed, is a little … seasonal.

Yeah, I’ll admit this wasn’t on the list. Rather I thought of it over the weekend and once the bug was in my head, couldn’t shake the idea because it was, I felt, a good one that deserved talking about. Not a game changer, probably, but one of those “little details” that can take a story from a nine to a ten.

Yes, we’re still talking about writing. When I say “Holidays” I do so in the sense of a recognized celebration date, not a vacation from things. Those of you waiting for that kind of post are looking at the wrong job.

I kid. Mostly. A writer is almost never truly on a vacation. Our work tends to be … consuming.

Anyway, with that clarification out of the way, let’s talk about holidays.

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Have a Happy (and Safe) Labor Day Holiday!

Whoa! It’s that time of year already! Yeah, a Monday holiday has rolled around: Labor Day!

Which, as per the usual, means there will be no Being a Better Writer post today. I’ll be taking the day off. As I hope many of you are. Recharge! Relax! Heal up!

Of course, if you’re still looking for writing advice, we’ve got a couple options for you. There is still an archive of several hundred writing articles here on the site. You could simply search for a classic on the sidebar (The Art of Misdirection is always a good one, or you could pick a topic of your choice) and go for it!

Alternatively, if you’ve got a writing topic you’d like to hear more about, post it in a comment below! Topic List #15 has, at this time, two topics left. Two more weeks worth of articles, but after that? New topics will be needed! So if you’re looking for something in particular, post a comment so it can be added to Topic List #16!

And with that, I’m going to go enjoy my Labor Day. Have a happy and safe one out there wherever you are! Ride a bike, read a book, whatever! But enjoy, and stay healthy.

Happy Memorial Day!

Unsurprisingly, when I posted last Friday, I absolutely forgot that today was Memorial Day! It had registered at some point in the back of my mind, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I connected things far enough to realize “Hold on a moment, I don’t do Being a Better Writer on Memorial Day. It’s a holiday.”

So there won’t be a Being a Better Writer post today. Instead, go out and celebrate Memorial Day! Or honor it, if that’s open to you.

colony-finalAnd if you’re looking for something to do, well, why not grab a copy of Colony and get caught up for your Fireteam Freelance binge?

Either way, enjoy your Memorial Day, all of you, and I’ll see you another day! And if you’re really bummed there isn’t a new Being a Better Writer post today, hit that search bar on the side and browse some old ones! Even I forget how many there are these days!

Some Small Updates

Hello Readers! It wasn’t until this last Saturday that I realized this coming Monday was a holiday, Martin Luther King Jr day to be exact. And, well, that’s a holiday I’ve honored here on the site. So there’s no Being a Better Writer post today. If you’re itching for some writing advice anyway, then in the spirit of the holiday I’d suggest hitting up the “character” tag and looking at some posts on building characters. They’re the backbone of any good story, and there’s always more to think and learn about with them.

As for me? Well, I’m going to be working some more on Fireteam Freelance. I’m not a point to start launching chapters just yet, but it’s getting closer.

In other news, I was delighted to watch Colony and Jungle pick up a half-dozen or so new reviews in the last week alone. ALL of them were five-star as well. Hello new readers and welcome to the adventure! And thank you to those readers out there that are talking about my books and sharing my titles with others. In the last few weeks, I’ve seen a uptick in my works being mentioned online on places like Reddit or Facebook, and in turn that’s brought in a lot of new fans who’ve picked up books, left glowing reviews, and in a few cases even messaged me online to tell me what a blast they were having!

Seriously, those readers who are talking about my books? You’re spreading them faster and farther than I ever could, and in turn you’re helping a lot of new readers find the same enjoyment you had at finishing ColonyShadow of an Empire, or any of my other works.

So thank you, and please keep at it. Word of mouth works, and thanks to your sharing or talking about Colony and my other books online, I’ve seen a lot of new readers discover my work in the past few weeks and love them as much as you have.

Anyway, I’ve got work to do on Fireteam Freelance! Have a wonderful Monday, readers!

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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Merry Christmas

Hello readers.

Nope, this isn’t a plug or an ad. None of that today. Or tomorrow. Instead, I’m just going to wish you all a merry Christmas.

Once a year, a good chunk of the world gathers together to celebrate. Many do it because of a single birth several thousand years ago, a birth that resonated throughout human history and still does today. And some do it because they like the message that birth brought, even if they may not believe in it.

But either way, the world gathers to celebrate. With a little kindness, with a little faith, with a little beauty. As a family. Or as friends. We gather and we celebrate and we enjoy Christmas traditions of varying scope and breadth.

Two thousand or so years ago, a birth changed the world. This week, we exchange gifts, we play rounds of Halo, we nervously glance at mistletoe. we make snow angels, we exchange books, we eat meat … or any number of other Christmas traditions.

We all come together, as best we can, and celebrate in togetherness, kindness, and charity. All from a single, pivotal birth two-thousand years ago.

Merry Christmas everyone. Make the most of it, and may it be, as the songs put it, merry and bright.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey readers! I’m getting this post ready beforehand, because when this hits, I’ll be at my brothers place for Thanksgiving, hopefully getting stuffed with Turkey and making a big old bowl of garlic mashed potatoes.

I hope all of you that have the chance are doing something similar and getting ready for a Thanksgiving dinner. This site has global reach and audience (I see those hits coming in from all over) so I know it won’t be everyone, but I hope wherever you are, you’re having a great time.

Lastly, Thanksgiving is a day when, traditionally, we’re supposed to express thanks for what we have. Some people pick something to declare thankfullness for. It can be anything, as long as you’re thankful for it.

So I’m going to say two things. The first is that I’m really thankful I got Jungle out this year. It was a colossal amount of work and a gargantuan effort … but it’s finally out. Colony has the sequel it waited so long to see.

Second, I’m thankful for those readers of this site that have stuck around, shared links, bought books, supported on Patreon, and otherwise interacted with this site in a way that keeps me from being homeless. It’s been a tight year this year, with the only way I’ve made it through quite a few months entirely because of income from my writing. So to all those of you that share these articles on Facebook or Reddit, or enjoy buying and sharing my books, or supporting on Patreon: I am extremely thankful for you guys. I have a roof over my head only because of that aid.

Thank you, and have a great thanksgiving.

And … since you’re here … What are you all thankful for this year?