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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LTUE Day Three Report!

Hello readers! If you’ve been following the two days before this, well … you can probably guess how tired I am, stacking onto the two days prior. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one in the green room this morning waiting to wake up. Cons are a marathon, and LTUE is no exception!

So, as I am currently only a few bare steps away from pure exhaustion (and my voice is almost gone from talking so much), let’s simply get down to business with the report!


The first panel I attended, at 9 AM, was “Paying the Reaper: Financing a War.” This is a panel I’ve attended before, but that’s because it’s a classic. And a golden panel for anyone who wishes to write about a military. Because it asks a very important question: Who is paying for all these soldiers, and with what?

That’s the whole point of this thread. To consider camp followers, the cost of a military, the cost of the logistics. This time around, the focus shifted toward modern militaries, and how the cost of maintaining them has increased tremendously alongside their force multiplication—something the panel wanted the audience to remember. Armies today are smaller than they were before, but far deadlier, while costing a lot more per person or bit of hardware compared to older times.


I then missed the next set of panels. I ended up caught in a conversation about 18th century sailing ships and the differences/similarities to modern vessels. One shocker that came out of this conversation, with the woman who had given the presentation I mentioned yesterday, was that the full operating crew compliment for a 112-foot sailing ship was … 12 people.

That dumbfounded me at first, but made sense. Today there are engines and mechanics to keep tabs on them, electrical equipment, etc, and they run 24-7 on some ships so you have crew rotations. A coast guard cutter twice as long, for example, has a standard crew compliment nine times as large.

Interesting, no?

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LTUE Day Two Report!

For all the typos yesterday, today may see even more. I am absolutely wrung out. Ever seen a taffy pull? That taffy is how my brain feels. And if I’ve lost my voice tomorrow morning due to speaking so much today, well …

Worth. It.

So, let’s recap, shall we?


9 AM I went to How to Ursurp a Kingdom. Yes, it was as awesome as it sounds. The panel talked about how to take over, assassinate, play political games, the works. I enjoyed it immensely.

Two works were suggested as primers during this panels. Machiavelli’s The Prince and a two-part CCPGrey video I’ll embed below.


10 AM was a panel on Oaths and Honor in societies. This panel covered a variety of topics, from how a character’s honor (or a challenge against it) can make them much more intriguing, or how characters from societies that honor different things can play off of one another (or even coexist).

More about characters with honor and how that’s a character tool than cultures steeped in honor, but nonetheless interesting.

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LTUE Day One Report!

Hey readers! This will be a short one, as I am bushed, but the first day of LTUE (Life, The Universe, and Everything) was today! So, naturally, I’m here to give you the session reports. Though it may be a little tricky as I was on a number of panels this time, rather than listening from the audience. Plus there was this book launch …

Yeah, if there’s typos here I apologize, but I am exhausted. This day was awesome, but it did wear me out by the end. 10+ hours of con will do that to someone.


So, let’s start with 9 AM and the first panel I attended, or rather, gave! That’s right, I was one of the panelists for it! The topic was on using weather properly in fiction, not just as a backdrop, but as something that could influence the plot and characters! And it was a lot of fun, though early lol. We discussed how different forms of weather can completely change a scene (such as an escape from a prison camp in sunlight, hazy rain, or fog), how to set up weather in advance so that it doesn’t come out of nowhere, and even ways you can learn about weather or help establish the mood for your writing. A fun panel that definitely got a lot of audience members thinking.


At 10 AM, I attended a panel on lost technology. You know, stuff like Damascus Steel or Greek Fire. However, I was pleased when the panelists subverted what I (and I expect many others) predicted would be the focus, instead focusing on lost modern technologies that we still have record of, but no longer have the ability to create, such as Saturn V rockets, or mechanical calculators. Both of which, the panel pointed out, we don’t have a need for (which is why they’re gone), but they’ve gone so hard that we have the blueprints to create them (mostly), but not the expertise or machinery.

An interesting approach, and one that left me thinking on progress.


At 11 AM was the keynote for the day, a presentation of Fantasy in art through the ages. Interesting, and with some fun art.

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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.

Fireteam Freelance/LTUE News

Hey readers. Just a quick update on Fireteam Freelance and a reminder. First, the reminder: LTUE is in thirteen days! Last chance to make it to one of the biggest and best writing conventions out there! Go to ltue.net to grab your ticket!

Now, Fireteam Freelance (I did say this was a quick update). As of Wednesday, all the interviews are done! The planning is mostly done (just fleshing out some fine details) and work on the first episode (or rather, prelude episode) starts today! So keep your eyes on the site, because Fireteam Freelance is making its official appearance soon!

That’s it. Quick update done and done. See you all soon!