Independence Day Sale!

Hello readers! This weekend, those of us in America will be celebrating the United States’ Independence Day. A commemoration of the Continental Congress’ passage of the Declaration of Independence. An event which would shake a whole lot of baskets across the Atlantic, and lead to … Well, today.

Every nation has an independence day (even if they don’t celebrate them?) and the United States loves the one it has. July 5th will be a holiday for many of us, and many are spending the weekend grilling and lighting off fireworks (where appropriate, mind).

But it got me thinking. With Starforge on the way, why not add a little extra “oomph” to some weekends, and have an Independence Day sale. Well, not just a sale because, well you see …

Colony is free to grab, no strings attached, July 3rd and 4th.

Yeah, that’s right. Free. I figured a story about a planet of people fighting for independence whose own leader has seen fit to model their goals and aims after George Washington and the American Revolution … Well, it deserved that nod.

So yes, Colony is free this weekend. If you grab it on the 3rd or 4th, you’ll be able to kick back and relax with the book in your hands on the 5th! Or whenever you’ve got free time. This is a limited offer, so grab it while you can!

Of course, once you have one book in the UNSEC trilogy, you might want to grab the second. Especially if you’re one of the many that finish Colony in a single sitting.

But even if you aren’t, and plan on taking your time, why not pick up the second book in the series while you’re at it? Because after all, it’s on sale as well. That’s right. You can grab the first book in the trilogy free of charge, find out exactly why it’s rated so highly … then come off of that rollercoaster ride to grab the second at a discount.

Sadly, the third and final volume is still in development, so you can’t purchase it yet … But with Colony and Jungle in your posession, you’ll be ready for the third and final installment when it launches!


Naturally now, why stop there? If one book is free, and another on sale … well … why not put even more on sale? If you rummage around my books page, you’ll find that more that just Colony and Jungle are up for grabs. Shadow of an Empire, the wild west fantasy adventure and another fitting candidate for an Independence Day celebration, has been discounted. And One Drink and Dead Silver, my first two books, are also free.

Or will be, rather. So mark your calendars! That’s three books for free, and two at a discount! At which point grabbing the whole rest of my library wouldn’t really set you back much!


So, if you’re in the US, enjoy your Independence Day. But if not, or in the meantime … grab a book, and celebrate some freedom.

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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The Bi-Weekly Report: Happy St. Patrick’s Day

You know, if you’re looking for one more way to celebrate, Axtara—the titular protagonist of Axtara – Banking and Finance—is green. You can read the first few chapters for free here, or pick up your own copy here! Or even just adorn your device background with her cheerful grin!

Since I’m on the topic of Axtara, she’s reached a grand total of 20 ratings and reviews now. All of them granting her Five Stars. There hasn’t been a disappointed reviewer yet! Or even one that’s just slightly impressed.

And that? It’s pretty pleasing. To paraphrase one review, ‘Axtara knocks it out of the park,’ and that brings me a lot of joy. Which is great, because so far Axtara seems to be bringing a lot of readers old and young a lot of joy as well, like I’d hoped it would. So it’s like one big circle of joy.

Best of all, I’ve been hearing from readers that have passed it on to their teenage girls that they absolutely love it. Success! Here’s to more reviews in the coming weeks, and thousands of new readers as those who fell in love with Axtara share their newfound find with others!


Since we’re on the topic of both reviews and green covers, Colony and its sequel Jungle got some more love this last weekend from reviews. Colony might be over four years old at this point, but it’s still garnering praise from readers of Sci-Fi and picking up new readers. Which is good, because Starforge is inching step by step towards completion and wrapping the whole thing up.

But yeah, if you’re not in the mood for green dragons for Saint Patrick’s Day, well, Jungle is also full of a lot of green. A lot of it. In a most threatening manner. You can check out a free preview here if Sci-Fi is your thing, but you’re still looking to stick to that St. Patrick’s Day tradition.


Speaking of Starforge, the current draft is now at 310,000 words. Continued progression, like clockwork, with each daily quota. It’s still somewhere near the 66-70% done marker, but with a book that has to tie up this much, that’s probably not a surprise to any of you. As to when, roughly, this draft will be finished? I’d rather not make predictions at the moment, but I do write 3000-4000 words a day for my daily quota, so rest assured there is progress.

Speaking of progress, to my utter shock I discovered it had been almost a year since I touched Stranded. Sure, it was a weekend fan project, but … Well, there was 2020. That was a thing. And Stranded appears to have been a casualty. But not a fatal one. I’ve been spending my Saturdays adding to it and getting it moving forward once more,

Of course, that isn’t my only Saturday project. Progress continues on getting the Shadow of an Empire paperback worked out. Granted, two Saturday projects (plus this being tax season) mean that it’s taking a little while, but with then there’s this next bit of news …

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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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