Things I Miss from Covid

I realize that title sounds a bit strange, or maybe even upsetting. Just bear with me for a moment. There were good things about the Covid-year, by which I mean 2020.

Yes, I know that Covid-19 isn’t gone yet. It’s still sweeping through places—even my hometown—leaving pain and sadness in its wake. We’re still not through this. Not entirely.

But a lot of people are content to pretend that we are. And while there are good reasons for the pandemic to be over … there are bad ones as well.

Yesterday, I was out for a bike ride. Long-time readers know that I’m a regular bike rider. I live near a river trail that runs through a good chunk of the city I live in, and it’s a great way to get some fresh air and exercise.

But I noticed something as I was shooting along this trail. Something that took my brain back to some comments I’d made during 2020, at the height of lockdown. See, this trail takes its course past several very nice parks, each of which has playground equipment such as swings and slides.

And I noticed, with a bit of sadness, that a decent amount of this equipment was, in the early evening, unused.

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Dune is a Stellar Adaptation of the Book

Yesterday, as part of Veteran’s Day (since a buddy had the day off) I went and saw the new Dune flick.

Here’s the short of it: This is hands down the best adaptation of Dune put to film by a long shot. While there were adaptational changes (there always are) they to me felt minor, while there were many scenes that were spot on to the book to the point of capturing exactly what I remembered most from it, while the other changes—at least personally—captured the spirit of things while fitting the adaptation to film a bit better.

Basically? I was enthralled from start to finish, and I am happy to say that the film exceeded my expectations. This film captured the visuals and setting of Dune and made it look like a place that could actually exist.

Now, it is a bit of a slow film. Go in expecting something more Lord of the Rings in scale and scope than Star Wars. This is a film that knows the audience is okay naval-gazing at a shot of shimmering, spice-laden Dunes for ten to fifteen seconds. This is a film that’s okay letting everyone watch ornithropters zip around for ten-fifteen seconds so that they can appropriately marvel at the world. This is a film that is okay using slow-mo to give the audience time to think about what has just happened so that you just don’t jump into the next scene without time to consider the ramifications of what went down.

I’m keeping this post short, partially because it’s Dune, so you likely already suspected you wanted to see it, or you already did see it. But yes, if you’re one of those people on the fence who loves the book and setting but held off because well … Dune doesn’t have the strongest track record with adaptations? This is the one you’ve been waiting for. This one gets it.

Side note before I wind down: Yes, this is Part One, something that all the marketing noticeably omitted. Rumor has it that the director even blindsided the studio with that one by being told to make a full-adaptation and then deciding on his own to split it into two and gambling that they would let him make the second half of the story.

I don’t know how true that is. But the movie is far better for it. If you know nothing about Dune but like epic movies with grand scope, then go see it. If you’ve been waiting for a good adaptation for forever … well, I’d say this is it.

And with that, I’ve got writing to do. Have a good weekend everyone, and I’ll see you Monday for another installment of Being a Better Writer.

Why You Won’t Be Seeing My Work on Serial Story Sites

Hey readers! Really quick, before I get started on this post, don’t forget that if you’re a Patreon Supporter, there’s a poll going right now to determine the name of a new arms manufacturer in Starforge! Go vote!

Okay, now that you’ve done that … So yesterday someone upon encountering my work for the first time asked a question that I’ve heard before, which goes a bit like this: “Hey, is any of your work on any of those episodic release writing websites where I can just read a chapter a day/week for free?” For those of you who’ve never looked at or for such a thing, yes, these places exist.

And no. None of my work is on any of them (and if it is, it’s been stolen). Nor do I plan on having my work on any of them.

Now, some of you might be asking “Why?” and that’s a fair question. I had one individual (not a writer, imagine that) suggest that all the “real” writers were on Royalroad because that was “where the money was” and if I was ‘serious” about this writing thing, I should look at going there.

Well, they were correct about one thing. That’s where the money is. Just … not for the creator.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with services like RoyalRoad or the newly-arriving Vella (Amazon’s service which they’ve several times begged me to join) they’re basically a serialized story service. Think of the basic setup a bit like a fanfiction site (though with a lot more money at stake) in terms of delivering readers categorized content, easy to search and find.

But now take it one step further. Rather than one-off stories or completed work, the goal here is to hook readers on serialized content that’s produced as rapidly as possible. So a reader comes to the site and finds, for example, a romance story that updates with a new chapter every day or every week. The goal of the site is to get that reader coming back every day or every week and reading the new chapter, which triggers their ad revenue. Or better yet, said reader can become a premium reader and pay a little bit each day to read ahead, as the story itself is usually a couple chapters ahead. As long as the reader is willing to pay a fee (a buck or two, usually) for that story each week, they can read the next chapter “before” the rest of the world.

And when you look at it like that, it doesn’t seem that bad. Not from the reader’s perspective. They can log in, read their new chapter each day on their phone, confirm that they’re paying for it, and come back again the next day.

But here’s the thing … If I wanted to do that system … I could do it right here on my website. In fact, I did, except that it was free entirely, with no fees or ads, with Fireteam Freelance. Of course, it wasn’t identical. People had to load my webpage rather than an app to check the latest chapters, and there was no way to become a “premium” reader and pay money to look ahead.

Outside of me being able to set up the same process on my website, however, there’s another reason you’ll never see me on sites like RoyalRoad or Vella.

They’re made to bleed money to the siteholders. Not to authors/creators.

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News, Updates, and Musings

Hey readers! Been sort of a quiet week from me, hasn’t it?

Well, I’ll have you know that’s because I’ve been hard at work on both Axtara – Banking and Finance and Starforge. Even better, work on both is coming along nicely.

Now, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any other news worth reporting, or that you’re about to have Axtara in your claws (or hands, whichever). Right now Alpha 1 is about 76% complete, and I think after it’s finished up, I’m going to do a second Alpha, just to make sure some of the changes and alterations fly true under new eyes. This will delay any release a little bit, but shouldn’t by too much. You’ll still get the book fairly soon.

Plus, I still need to sit down and spend some time finding a cover artist since the one I’d really hoped for wasn’t interested. Which is tricky, as finding artists that can do spectacular portraits of dragons while still giving them very recognizable expression is … tricky.

Still, there’s good news coming out of the Alpha: Axtara is awesome. The readers have enjoyed it quite a bit, and I think it’s going to make quite a splash when it arrives.

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The Tale of My Wrist (With Pictures!)

Okay, first up, all the pictures in this post are going to be hidden behind the jump. There’s not even a featured image for this one, despite me having ten pictures of my wrist at the ready for the post. Why?

Because some people do not want pictures involving even a little blood or pain. And some of these pictures are a little gross. So if you’re squeamish about that kind of thing … Yeah, this post past the jump is going to be a little unwelcome for you.

Anyway, that warning out of the way, today’s post, as promised, is about my wrist injury. How it happened, what’s been going on since then, and my recovery. Because it’s a fun, interesting tale.

I do have one small bit of news on an upcoming thingamajig before I get rolling on this however: This month’s Patreon Reward! It’s going up tomorrow, and it’s a doozy of a preview. What of, you may ask? Well, my current project is, as I’ve mentioned a few times, a Halo novel! The first three chapters of one, anyway. The plan is to pitch the first few chapters and the outline at Gallery/343 and see if they pick it up.

But since that’s what I’ve been working on, this month’s preview is going to be an excerpt of the first chapter, which I finished yesterday. Pre-alpha, naturally, but it’s a lot of fun. I’m enjoying it so far, and in fact really want to get back to work on it, so let’s get to this post so I can continue working on it! But if you’re a Patreon Supporter, check back tomorrow!

Now, about my wrist injury. Let’s start at the beginning …


I have a part-time job working at a local convention center. While my full-time hjob is writing, which takes about 8-10 hours of my day, often more, it doesn’t pay all the bills yet. So I have to work part-time in order to make ends meet. This means that my average workweek ends up being around 60-70 hours, but hey, sacrifices for the job, right?

Writing, to be precise. The other job, well … let me tell you about it.

I work in the operations department, which is setting up, taking down, cleaning, and other assorted tasks vital to a convention center. If you’ve ever been to a convention or a vendor’s conference of any kind and seen hundreds of chairs set in nice neat rows, huge panels of staging, drapery, dozens of tables all set up with nice tablecloths and skirts …

Yeah, we do all that. We set it all up. We keep it clean. We straighten it up. We take it all down. And more. If I listed all the things we do, it’d be a post into and unto itself.

We’re also the absolute lowest of the low where I work. So low that most of the time our department feels like an afterthought to the office part of the building. Lately there’s been one manager who’s started to reel that back (great guy, him I back) but it’s been pretty common with our job to be handed incomplete diagrams, measurements that don’t conform to reality or the laws of physics, and other things like that which we’re just expected to “fix.” Our shifts have gradually been pushed further and further into the night so that events can run later and later (the current common shift is 9 PM to 3 AM or 10 PM to 4 AM), with no compensation offered for the extreme lateness of the hour. The pay is also low, so low that we’ve had serious retention problems and our department is quite understaffed. Right now about half our department is made up of high schoolers, because they’re the only people we’ve managed to attract with our low wages (which are below the living wage—not minimum, just living—in our area). Which comes with its own problems as minors can’t work certain hours, but that’s another story.

Why do I work there? Because the hours are flexible enough that I can focus mainly on my writing, and just sort of somewhat disconnect and do the job to make it through. But if it sounds like the place may have some issues, well … yes. I’m explaining this because it leads into how I got this injury by kind of giving you an idea of how it is in our department.

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Just Some Cleaning

Just a heads up, but I’m going to be cleaning the site up over the next few days. Some bits, like the About page, were a bit out of date, while other areas I can just tidy up, tighten up, expand on, or just in general clean a little.

So yeah, small changes, but if you’re curious, they’re happening. About was today, tomorrow will be the Links page.

Also, I’m thinking of maybe turning the About page into a F.A.Q. We’ll see. I’m kind of reaching the point with everything going on that some stuff needs to be expanded on, though.

Also, there will be a post tomorrow. An … interesting one. More then, when it arrives.

The Most-Read BaBW Post to Date

So, I got curious the other day and started digging through site history on here. Why? Well, I can look at stats here on a yearly basis (but not lifetime, for some odd reason) and started wondering about each year’s most popular Being a Better Writer posts. What, I wondered, was the most popular (read: one with the most views) to date?

Now, granted, this is a little unfair. Posts that have been around longer have much more time to rack up views, so older posts automatically have an advantage. Case in point, the most highly-viewed BaBW post comes from 2015, so it’s had four years to gather its viewcount. The post right behind it has had two. The post that I believe to be in third place has only boomed recently, since it became a wikipedia reference.

Anyway, not much point in beating around the bush. The (current) most read BaBW article of all time?

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A Note About Broken YouTube Links

So occasionally I’ll check outgoing links on my site from the control panel I’ve got, just to see what people are following, or in the case of YouTube links, watching. Sometimes I’ll use YouTube to show a video that serves as a good example of something.

However, in the last few weeks I’ve noticed that some of these links go to YouTube videos that no longer exist. Which … is fair. YouTube is changing a lot of its rules and operating terms lately, and channels are being shuffled around or closed off as it happens. It’s the internet. Things come and go.

But personally, I’d rather fix those broken links if possible. There’s simply one catch: My stats page doesn’t tell me what page sent my readers to that YouTube link, nor does YouTube tell me what the name of the removed video was (which would at least give me a clue). Thus, the only way for me to know what link could be bad would be to hunt through every single post on this site (which is several years’ worth) looking.

This … is not feasible. I don’t have that kind of time. And nor do you. But that doesn’t mean it’s without hope.

So open call: If you happen to be using the resources here and find a broken link? Just post a comment letting me know, and I’ll see about fixing it ASAP. Don’t feel a need to go hunting for them. Just … if you see one, I’ll see about fixing it. Or, if I can no longer find it, I’ll make that known in the original post.

Simple and straightforward. If you find something that’s broken and you feel like letting me know, do, and I’ll see about fixing it.

Over and out! I’ve got writing on Hunter/Hunted to do!

News Post!

Afternoon folks! Max here with a news post! Just little odds and ends of news both local (ie, my news) and large (like say, Dragon Award voting). There’s no real order to this, just news as it comes.

So, first bit of news: Patreon Supporters! Tomorrow your ship comes in! This ties in with the second bit of news, but if you’re a Patreon Supporter, tomorrow around noon, I’d check Patreon for the August Monthly Reward. It’s going to be a good one.

Why? Well, yesterday I sat down and put my current project, Hunter/Hunted, on hold for a few days to tackle a second project. Got an e-mail a few weeks ago looking for short stories for an anthology set that comes out with a certain Writing Con each year, and the requests they had for what kind of stories they wanted got my brain ticking. I spent a few weeks coming up with a good plot, characters … You know, just letting it bubble in the back of my mind while I was at my part-time until I arrived at something I was really excited to work on, and well, since they do need it sooner rather than later and I’d just finished another chapter of Hunter/Hunted, I decided to take a quick break and write this story out.

It’s still unnamed, at the moment, though I’m bouncing some ideas around. And even if it does end up in this anthology, it’ll still be one of the first stories I’ve written for More Unusual Events: Another “Short” Story Collection. So don’t worry, it’ll show up at some point no matter what.

And for Patreon Supporters, part of it will tomorrow. I’m still writing it, of course, but part of the bonus of being a Patreon Supporter is getting an early look at things I’m working on, which tomorrow will be the first few thousand words (plus whatever I can get done today) of this story.

Right, so that’s two news things: Delays for Hunter/Hunted for a short story anthology, and the Patreon Reward for August. What other news do I have?

Well, here’s one. Tomorrow is the last day you can cast a vote for The Dragon Awards. Yup, August 31st is the final day! So if you want to cast your eye upon the nominations and vote for your favorite works, head over to that link and sign up for a ballot! The Dragon Awards is open to anyone who wishes to nominate, vote, or both. The more people do so, the better the award becomes! Plus, they don’t just do books; there’s board games, movies, and more in there! Take a look!

Okay, and final bit of news. Well, not really news, but more a recommendation for a place to hang out on the internet. Have you ever heard of suggestmeabook?

Your eyes don’t deceive you; it is just “suggest me a book” without spaces. Because web addresses don’t use spaces. Anyway, suggestmeabook is a Reddit subreddit that delivers exactly what its name suggest: Suggesting books. Folks show up and post that they’re looking for a book. It can be “I want something in this genre with these stipulations” or just “I really liked X book by this author, does anyone know of anything similar?” And posters on the sub can go in and recommend books that match up to what they’re looking for.

It’s actually a pretty sweet sub. I’ve found some good stuff being recommended that I’ve added to my library list just by browsing. If you’re looking for more books to read, or want something that’s like something else you’ve read but aren’t sure where to look, swing on over there and give them a try!  Fiction, non-fiction … they take it all!

Anyway, I’ve got writing to do. This has been the news!

Work Shift Today, Being a Better Writer Post Tomorrow

Pretty much the post title. Got a work shift today that’ll keep me from getting Being a Better Writer out on it’s usual day, so it’ll have to come out tomorrow.

Aside from that, there’s not much in the way of news. Shadow of an Empire and Colony both continue to sell pretty well and … Oh, hey, I do have something neat to share on that front.

I was in an online chat the other day where someone was asking for writing advice, dropped a bit, and someone else in the chat pointed out to the one asking for advice that mine was solid because I actually was an author. At which point the individual asking after writing advice asked what I’d written, and when I mentioned Colony, they were surprised, and quickly informed me (and the chat) that they had heard of it before, because their roommate was reading it and wouldn’t stop talking about it. Apparently they liked it, because they’d gotten this individual interested in it as well.

Nice.

Anyway, BaBW will be up tomorrow. Have a great day!