It’s Official: Starforge is the Most Stressful Thing I’ve Ever Written

All right, readers. It’s time to come clean. Last night, as I lay trying to sleep at around 4 AM, my mind whirling with questions and maybes and possibilities concerning Starforge, I realized something.

Starforge is officially the most stress-inducing project I’ve worked on in a long time.

Perhaps being kept up until hours like 5 AM thinking “Maybe I need to start over. Redo the entire opening like this?” should be taken as a massive clue.

For the record I’ve not restarted the entire opening. Though … yeah, even at 100,000 words in, I’ve considered completely redoing it from another angle. More than once. Technically I’ve already done it too; earlier in the project I cut 20,000 words and started the opening in a completely different way.

This project is stressing me out.

Why? Well, it’s pretty simple. Starforge is the finale of a trilogy. There are two books before it, both really well received and loved by a lot of people. Further still, those who have read the sequel have ranked it better than the first book, even as it drove things forward toward a finale. So the trend is now I have to deliver a finale that’s the apex of all three, tie everything up, keep everything from almost a million words of prior content straight, reference it, use it …

Yeah … starting to see how I might be a little stressed out? And of course, stress like that makes it harder to work (lack of sleep, etc) which has made me more concerned that the final product could be below the bar, which leads to more stress, which …

Yup. It’s self-enforcing at this point. The worst part is, I’m not quite sure what to do outside of trust my instincts (I had lighter versions of this for previous works and they turned out all right) and keep working forward.

Starforge has to be the best thing I’ve written to date. Full stop. If that means rewriting almost 100,000 words of it, then so be it. That’s only two months worth of work. This is the big finale. The end. Everything the prior two books led up to comes to a head here. This is it.

I can’t stop. One way or another Starforge is going to release. And it will be the next book I release after Axtara. But it has to be the best thing I’ve written. Every bit of character I’ve built up so far, every nuance, every bit of development. All of it needs to peak here.

I’m just praying I can pull this off.

Anyway, I’m about to dive back into it. Wish me luck, folks. This is the mountain of mountains thus far in my career, and that peak has got a lot of obstacles on it.

Now if I could just get some sleep …

Last Chance for the Sale!

Whoa! Hold up there! This is your last alert! Today is the last day to get everything I’ve published on a 50% or better sale for the Big 300 Sale (a sale made in honor of reaching 300 ratings and reviews while still keeping a 4.6 out of 5 average—no mean feat)! Which means you’ve got the following books available on steep discount!


Colony and Jungle

$1.99

A corporate investigator who doesn’t trust his employer. A mercenary gun-for-hire with a talent for violence and a willingness to shoot first. And a white-hat hacker who doesn’t know when to quit.

Three independent contractors brought together for one unusual job. Five years ago, master programmer Carlos Rodriguez retired. Now his old employer wants him back.

Quietly.

It’d be a lot easier if he hadn’t left Earth.

Read a free sample by clicking this link!


$3.99

Jake, Anna, and Sweets are back in the long-awaited sequel to Colony!

Fresh off their mission to Pisces, the trio is looking forward to a well-deserved rest, and better yet, a fat paycheck after everything that occurred on the alien world. But all that comes to a crashing halt when they’re waylaid above Earth by their employer and find themselves with an extended contract, sending them right back out into space.

Worse yet, their trio has been split to best handle their new assignments. Jake and Anna find themselves attached to a scientific expedition, tasked as security escorts keeping the expedition safe as they investigate a new potential colony world thriving with a vast, vibrant jungle. Meanwhile, Sweets has been assigned aboard an UNSEC military vessel, tracking down the source of a pervasive cyberattack against their hardware.

But as both teams get to work, it’s clear that there may be more to their respective missions than they were led to believe. The cyberattacks are brazen and powerful, but simplistic and utterly untraceable. The alien world’s ecology defies logic and sense, puzzling the expedition team.

And above it all, the ripples of events on Pisces continue to spread through the galaxy …

Read a free preview by clicking here!

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Updates and News!

Hey folks! How’ve you been?

I know, I know, I’ve been quiet this week. There’s a good reason for that, actually. and it has to do with out first bit of news here. Basically, I’ve been away from my keyboard and desktop a lot this week. At least, during my working hours.

Sounds odd, right? After all, shouldn’t I be at the keyboard? Normally, yes (and don’t worry, the lack of writing bugs me too). But there’s a good reason: Starforge is coming. And so I’ve been reading through Colony and Jungle all week, getting myself  caught up on every little detail and nuance before I start work on the big finale. I’ve finished Colony already, and I’m blistering my way through Jungle at the moment.

By the way, I’ve been doing this with a new ereader (the absolutely awfully named, but otherwise fine, “Boox Poke2) which means I’ve been using the Kindle App rather than my old Kindle (both are still e-ink, however). Anyway, this newer reader has a feature for Kindle that’s quite nice: Estimated reading time. When you start a book, it shows you the average reader time to completion, and then adjusts it to match whatever pace you set.

Jungle? The average was something like 29-35 hours. The thing is a titan of words.

Actually, that’s only one of the amusing things I learned reading through Colony and Jungle this week. The other was … Well, for those of you who don’t read ebooks often, Kindle has a neat feature where readers can highlight passages from books, and if enough people highlight the same passage, a small dotted, light-grey line will show up in everyone else’s copy (if the feature is turned on) to show that people have marked the passage. Originally this was created with the intent of helping folks perusing non-fiction texts find relevant sections (like students searching for a date) but has since become a staple for a lot of fiction readers for favorite quotes, insightful lines, etc.

Anyway, I was both surprised and elated to find Colony now bearing such markers! A milestone I didn’t even realize was there until it arrived, but it did make me feel a nice inner glow to see a number of people marking moments in my work as insightful and worth referencing. Time to see how many I find (if any yet) in Jungle!

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Being a Better Reader: Stocking for Covid-19

Hello readers! Welcome back! Though you may notice something a little different in the title today.

There have been a few times in the past when I’ve done Being a Better Writer posts that are jokingly titled Being a Better Reader, though not without reason, as each of them was about exactly that. Today, with everything that’s going on in the world, I figured it was time for another one of those.

If you’re confused at all about this post, than I’d urge you to open a new tab and look up news on Covid-19, AKA the Coronavirus. We’re officially in a global pandemic, with cases spreading and multiplying fast enough that whole countries are shutting down. Economies too, with most jobs either having their people work from home or shutting down entirely. My own part-time was among the latter, as were a lot of other jobs worked by people I know. Borders are closing, countries going into lockdown …

Thankfully, these places are doing this to slow the spread, and it is showing signs of helping. I’m not a WHO-speaker or a CDC doctor, though, so I’ll say no more on that front save the standard rallying cries during this pandemic of—

Stop shaking people’s hands. Wash your hands! Don’t touch your face.

Seriously people. Stop doing all three. Fight the spread.

While we’re at it, fight misinformation. Stop, think, and source before spreading something like “Salt water kills the infection!” It doesn’t, and 41 people in South Korea got infected because they believed the salt water thing and shared the same water among themselves.

Okay, so with all this going on, what does it have to do with today’s post? Simple: There are a lot of people around the world who are under quarantine right now, for one reason or another. Either they’re under a full quarantine, where they may have been exposed and are stuck inside a room for two weeks, or they’re under another quarantine where their country has entirely shut down and they’re unable to leave their house. Or they’re under a loose quarantine (my words, not anyone else’s) like the US where their job has shut down and any gathering of more than 50 people has been requested to not happen by the CDC.

In other words, a decently large-sized chunk of the world right now has a lot of free time on their hands. They’re out of work, Earth is closed, and they’re just sitting at home wondering what to do.

At home entertainment, in other words, is spiking. Streaming services and gaming portals like Steam are already setting records for usage. Everyone’s got time on their hands. People are looking for things to do that allow them to stave off cabin fever while stuck at home for the foreseeable future.

Have they considered books?

This brings us to the point of today’s post: Books and series to read during the Covid-19 pandemic. A massive collection of reading material to keep one occupied during the outbreaks. Pages and pages and pages to turn. My own works will be on the list, as well as the works of many other authors I’ve read and enjoyed. We’ll start with books, but then I’ll jump into webcomics that are perfect for an archive binge as well.

Now, a few things to note. 1) These stories will not be about disease. I’ve seen way too many lists of “Best books to read for the Coronavirus” or “Greatest books to read stuck inside during Covid-19” that are just every famous disease and plague book out there, like The Stand.

No. Not doing that. We’re living a pandemic right now. We don’t need escapism that’s just more of that, and worse. Sands, I’m not even going to be linking one of my favorite webcomics on this list, specifically because it’s about a world-ending plague. So no, no stories about disease.

2) Most of these stories will be Science-Fiction and Fantasy. Not too surprising, but I write Sci-Fi and Fantasy, so a lot of what I read tends to be Sci-Fi and Fantasy as well. What I link here is going to be stuff I’ve personally enjoyed.

3) Most entries on this list will be longer, multi-book series. Something you can really dig your teeth into. There will be some smaller, one-shot entries, but I’ll try and keep most of these recommendations in the realm of “This will take you some time.” Because most of the world has it right now.

4) I don’t get any financial compensation here save on my own books. All the books I’ll be linking that I didn’t write? I won’t get any compensation for you clicking the link and picking up a copy. If you buy one over the other and I didn’t pen it, it doesn’t matter to me … but it does matter to the author who wrote it (or their foundation if they’re no longer with us). I’m promoting them because they’re good reading material, not because I’m getting any sort of compensation (again, exception if you purchase one of my books from this list).

5) Click the cover to head to an Amazon ebook page. I don’t get any compensation for that, first off. But if you’re interested in the book, then click the cover to go right to Amazon. By default the page will be for the ebook (no delivery, just download it!) but if you’re looking for a paperback to be delivered to your door, that’s probably an option for most of these as well.

6) I do recommend sharing this list! Especially if you liked what it had on display. Sharing helps more eyeballs discover it, which helps more people find new options for what to read, and in turn stave off boredom and cabin fever during this pandemic. So feel free to share away, on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or wherever else you hang out!

That settles it, so hit the jump and let’s get to the list! We’re going to start with some smaller, one-shot books. Why? Maybe you’re new to reading or want to start small. That’s fine. We’ve gotcha covered. Hit the jump, and let’s see what’s out there!

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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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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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The Emergency Update

Initial Emergency post here.

First of all, thank you everyone who posted get-well wishes, sympathy, and support for my sister. It was passed on an appreciated. She’d had a rough week already before everything went sideways at 40+ MPH, making the collision and totaling of her car the cherry on top.

However, she’s doing really well. The first two days were the roughest, as all the muscles across her body were not having a good time after the accident, and so bruised and tensed and whatnot were stiffening, swelling, and pulling her broken collarbone every which way they could. Tuesday morning she was too sore and stiff after sleeping to even get up.

But the swelling has faded, the muscles healing and loosening up, and my sister’s adjusted enough to having one functional arm at the moment that as of last night I am back in my own home.

I slept way in this morning lol. Catching up.

Okay, so there are two things I need to discuss now: how my sister’s doing, and what the status of Christmas updates for the site will be.

First up my sister: She’s well-cared for now. Her collarbone is broken, yes, but it’s a clean break and should heal well. She’s already seeing a sport-doc for it, and insurance, while a tangled, complicated mess, has at least let the wheels roll forward. It appears that she’ll be on leave from work for some time, but it’ll be covered, as well her medical and whatnot. There’s plenty to do going forward, but she’s gotten past the start, which was pretty much all uphill.

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Speaking of Word of Mouth …

This post is the kind of thing I’ve been talking about. Someone over on Reddit’s r/printsf (print speculative fiction, usually Scifi), after a discussion about how the subreddit almost always discusses the same few books, launched a post specifically to talk about indie Sci-Fi authors and people’s favorite indie Sci-Fi books.

This is word of mouth time. People in this post are discussing some of their favorite Sci-Fi books from Indie authors. Like myself.

Nudge nudge.

Look, the subreddit has rules against self-promotion, and I respect that. However, if I notify my fans and they head on over to mention, say, Colony, Jungle, or Shadow of an Empire, well, that’s cool of my fans, and violates no rules at all. Really cool. And some folks on the subreddit get a chance to try out some new books they very likely haven’t heard of but would very possibly love.

So yeah, if any of you feel like doing me a favor and helping out (which, in the spirit of your own interest I will point out that the better my sales become, the more time I can spend writing, which means faster, more frequent releases), head on over to the post here and give Colony or something a shout-out!

Please. Think of it as a Christmas gift.

 

EDIT: Thanks guys! Word of mouth like that really helps!

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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Jungle is Out!

Jungle Cover

I mean, really, what else is there to say? It’s here. After three years, the sequel to Colony so many asked for has finally arrived.

So go ahead! Snag your copy! It’s here at last! Ready to read! And … most of you are already gone.

Well, those of you that are left might be wondering what the fuss is if you’ve not read Colony. Well, good news for you too. Colony‘s last price-drop went into effect last week, so you can grab a copy for just $3.99.

I’d say more, but most of you are already reading. So keep doing that, folks. Enjoy. You’ve waited long enough.