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 …

Reminder: LTUE Online Event Tonight!

Heads up people! Don’t forget that there’s an LTUE online mini-event starting tonight at 6 PM Mountain Standard Time! There are three different panels running at each hour until nine under a variety of topics, so check it out!

In fact, I’ve got a handy sheet of the topics available, provided by the event! So here’s what’s coming!

To join, just head on over to https://ltue.net/october2020 and be sure to have Discord at the ready (which can be run through your browser, so no worries there about needing to install something). Find a panel you like, and hope to see you there!

Axtara Progress Update!

Yes, I know, I’ve been quite silent this week. Don’t worry. It’s because I’ve been busy with Axtara!

The copy-edit for digital is almost done. Tomorrow I should be able to finalize it. At which point all I need for the digital release is the cover.

Which means that yes, I am planning (cover pending) on having the digital release be this month, the physical one in December. Still haven’t settled on a price yet for the digital version, but I’m thinking $3.99, since it is a normal-sized book instead of one of my usual titans.

Anyway, I know this post isn’t much. I’ll try to have a more substantial post later this week. Oh, and by the way, don’t forget that Being a Better Writer is currently open for suggestions for topics for List #16. If there’s a topic you want to see Being a Better Writer cover, let us all know about it!

Anyway, hope you’re all staying hale and healthy! Max out!

News: Axtara and a Mini-LTUE

Great news! Beta 1 for Axtara is done! And yeah, as a reader said, it was impressively clean. But not perfect. There were some typos and errors fixed, and a few aggressive searches to hunt down really pervasive and hard-to-catch issues, but at the same time … it was remarkedly clean.

No, this doesn’t mean it’s up for pre-order yet. I’m trying to get the cover first so that there’s something to show. Today will be that (if I hear from the artist) and moving into copy-edit.

With that comes something I’m sure most of you are wondering about: Release dates.

So here’s the thing: November is dead. Save maybe at the tail-end.

Why? Well, two reasons. One is that Brandon Sanderson is releasing a new book in November. That’s like a giant that crushes all other news of books, and for those people who buy one book a month, a dedicated sale. Two: It’s an election month, and politics kill book sales. You can actually see the debates, political movements, etc in a bar graph of my book sales. Something political happens … no one is thinking about books.

And yes, I know I launched Colony in November of 2016. I’ve also been told that while the sales were good for me, they were also a lot lower than they should have been because there was an election that month.

So I’d like to avoid November if at all possible. If that’s possible.

Which means what? October? December? Well, if I get the art ball rolling and have a cover in the next week or two, I can open pre-orders, and Axtara will be out before the end of the month. Digitally, at least.

Okay, let me clarify on that. So I’ve already said I expect Axtara to be a print release as well as digital. Don’t worry, that hasn’t changed. What I’m not sure it will be is a simultaneous release.

See, I’ve not done a print book before (something about a print book only being able to be so many pages and most of my titans eclipsing that for now). But I do know a bit about the process and it does still require some extra time the digital edition does not. A digital release is one where I can make instant changes, then drop the title onto my reader and see immediately if everything is working or not.

With a print run, I can’t quite do that. I have to order a sample, wait for it to arrive, and then go through and check to see that everything has held up. I can do a lot of digital work beforehand to minimize the chance of an issue, but the chance is still there.

So depending on how the next few weeks go, it may be that the Ebook version of Axtara drops at the end of October, while the hard copy drops in December.

Maybe not. Some of these tools are new to me, so we’ll see. Also, a lot depends on when I can get finished cover art.

But tentatively hope for Axtara in October!

Now, one more bit of news for after the jump. But a juicy one. News regarding an online Mini-LTUE. On October tenth.

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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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News: Last Chance on Sale, Beta Wave 2 Invites, and Updates!

Hey readers! I’m still blitzing away at two projects at once (Starforge first draft and Axtara – Banking and Finance editing) so I’ll be keeping this a little short. As short as I can, anyway, while still keeping you all informed!

So first up: The Big 300 Sale! If you somehow missed the memo, everything I’ve published is on sale this week, at 50% off or more.

Oh, and this sale ends tomorrow. So your window for picking up a book or two at an absolute steal is shrinking. Not that I mind people paying $3.99 for Colony or $7.99 for Jungle, but right now you can grab both of those for a combined total of $6.

So yeah, tell your reading friends! There’s only a day and some change left before prices go back to normal! Sands, One Drink is completely free, and its sequel 99 cents. That’s a weekend worth of reading right there. And since another $3 would grab you the excellent Shadow of an Empire

Anyway, spread the word, since there’s only a short time left!

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Delaying My Fireteam Freelance Thoughts + Other Updates

Just a quick update, but I’ve pushed my post on Fireteam Freelance back a few days. It’ll come out next week. Why?

So that there’s more time for readers to post their thoughts to the reader feedback post. A day (less, really) isn’t enough time for most people to respond, and most people react when they hear that a newer, larger post is coming by just ignoring it.

Which isn’t great for a feedback post. I’m still going to write my look back on it today, but it won’t go up for a bit yet.

Meanwhile, the Alpha 2 Reader Call is still open. Axtara could use a few more eyes to give it a quick read. 120,000 words, so a few days worth of decent reading. Nothing big. Head on over to the Alpha 2 call page and comment if you’d be interested. It’d be fast and quick, something you could blitz through on a weekend.

Patreon Supporters, meanwhile, have a first-chapter preview over on Patreon. It won’t be the last either! So if you’re a supporter wondering what the hubbub is about, head on over and get your first look!

Tomorrow I’ll once again start trawling for a cover artist. Plus start looking at timetables for Beta 1 …

Starforge‘s first draft is sitting at 56,470 words. This one’s going to easily be just as titanic as Colony and Jungle, but there’s a lot going on in these chapters.

Anyway, I’m going to get to work now. Hit the links, have a good weekend!

Who’s Ready for a Finale? Black Site Bora Premieres Tomorrow!

Are you guys ready?

Tomorrow the ultimate episode of Fireteam Freelance drops. Black Site Bora, episode 12, goes live at 9 AM, Saturday August 8th, 2020. Seven months after the first episode, Zero, made its debut.

This is a juggernaut of an episode. Weighing in at 23,000 words, Black Site Bora is nothing but action from start to finish as the Adah, Ursa, Owl, and Anvil make their do-or-die raid on a UN black site.

So if you’ve been enjoying the journey of the team so far, this is the episode not to miss. Set your alarm clocks. Get your snacks ready. Catch up on any missed episodes over at the Fireteam Freelance page.

Black Site Bora is almost here.

Hit the jump for more news!

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News, News, and More News!

Hello readers!

I feel I must start this news post off with an apology. I know I haven’t said too much on the site lately outside of the regular Being a Better Writer posts. But there has been a reason for it. I’ve been busy writing and trying to help my ribs heal up as quickly as possible, and between that mess (the ribs) and everything else, site posts have been a matter of “Hey I should write that … after I do this one thing.”

But I hope to make up for that a little today. Because this is a big news post. We’ve got the ribs to talk about, AxtaraFireteam FreelanceStarforge … There’s a lot going on!

So, let me get right down to it, starting with the ribs. Rib updates first! Why? Because in a way it has messed with my writing a little.


So, how are the ribs doing? Actually, pretty well. I’ve been working hard to take care of them, from heating and cooling to sleeping in a semi-upright position in a recliner every night. And only two weeks and four days after the breaks occurred, I’m definitely more mobile than the last time I cracked some ribs, and they’re not nearly as battered as they were. In fact, I’ve even been able to go biking for exercise once more—on flat, fresh paving, mind. Cracks and bumps still don’t feel great (though they’re not as bad as they were even a week ago).

Sleeping upright, adding more calcium to my diet … If there’s something I can do for my ribs, I’m doing it. So where, you might be wondering, does this come into writing news? Well, outside of the general health implications … it has messed with my sleep cycle pretty harshly. Sleeping is not comfy with cracked ribs, and even though they’re doing better, lying down is still uncomfortable at first (and not good for them healing), so I’ve been sleeping in a recliner I have.

I don’t sleep that well in a recliner. I’m managing, but between the awkwardness (I really like to both stretch out and sleep on my side, both major no-nos with rib injuries) and the point of my body going “Hey, you need rest to heal this mess” I’ve been sleeping rather late when I do.

So while I have been hitting my quotas, it’s been taking me a bit more time to do so, and since I’m trying to put most of my energy into Starforge at the moment … Well, it has left me a little pressed for time.

So, that’s why there haven’t been as many posts, but the real important work is getting done! So, let’s talk about that important work. First up, let’s talk about Axtara – Banking and Finance!

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Schlock Mercenary Has Come to an End

Surely the author won’t mind me using the logo of his comic to promote it, right? Right?

If you’ve perused my website a little, specifically the links page, you may have noticed that one of the links I’ve had around since the very beginning leads to the most-excellent webcomic Schlock Mercenary, by Howard Tayler. Schlock Mercenary has been a long-time favorite of mine since checking it out in … 2005, I think (?), after I saw Howard present at a few panels at a convention and speak on two topics, one of which would go on to play a vital part of my future career. The first was about how comedy writing was really hard, which I noted. But the other, the big one, was how to take something independent, like a webcomic, and make a living at it.

‘If you can get 5000 people to be fans who will buy and watch your stuff,’ Howard said. ‘You’ll make it. That’s what you need.’

And he knew what he was talking about. See, Howard had left his middle-management job to pursue being a writer (and artist) in the webcomic sphere full time, selling books, prints, and as he once noted with “dark scatological undertones” … maybe even Schlock-in-a-cup.

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