The Publishing Treetops Shake

So the last few weeks have been full of interesting news for the book industry. In fact, I was planning on posting on this last week, since it was more topical then (and I would have found easy access to the relevant links, now I’m just going to talk about it) but had that run-in with a falling teen from the sky and ended up a little out of it.

So we’ll discuss it right now instead, between bits of pre-work on Starforge. So then, what’s to talk about?

Well, when I say “book industry” I really mean one area: Traditional publishing. To be more specific, the big five. The last few weeks have seen a number of shakeups across the big five, from Simon & Schuster switching CEOs (even as they’re up for sale) to other publishers replacing high-up corporate positions, funneling their long-held higher officials out and bringing in new ones with the hope that they’ll bring change.

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In Which the Universe Attempts Symmetry

Hello readers! Bit of an update here! You may have noticed that like last week I was a bit silent this week, despite not having made any plans in that direction. And, well, you’re right. I was planning on posting more this week. And starting Alpha Feedback response for Axtara – Banking and Finance. And finishing my Jungle reread so that work could begin in earnest on Starforge.

So what happened? Well … my ribs happened. Or rather, idiot teenagers happened to my ribs.

So here’s the breakdown: On Monday, after I’d finished this week’s Being a Better Writer and done a little bit of prework on Starforge, I decided to go out for a nice spot of exercise (trying to stay healthy) on my bike and ride down the local trail near my home. This went wonderfully until

See, this trail has underpasses. It flows beneath several roads, highways, and railways, so in each case it dips down like one would expect, those using the trail emerging on the other side into the sun once more.

No one expects a teenager to fall on them during this process.

See, these teenagers, in one of the more pure examples of how teenagers can be complete idiots, had decided it would be fun to climb up atop one of these overpasses and then drop down onto the trail.

Without looking to see if anyone was coming. Into the lane of the trail where no one would be able to see them dropping down.

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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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Axtara – Banking and Finance Alpha Now Open, Plus Starforge News!

Yeah, I don’t have a cover for Axtara yet (working on it), so the cover for A Dragon and Her Girl will work as the featured image for now. Especially as Axtara takes place in the same setting as A Game of Stakes, which featured in A Dragon and Her Girl. So the two do connect a little!

Anyway, got an exciting news update for you here, readers! Those of you who can read the title have already deduced it, but I’ll repeat it here anyway: Axtara – Banking and Finance is now in Alpha!

Yep! Invites to previous Alpha Readers went out and replied to. How’s it going so far? Well …

One Alpha Reader finished the book within 15 hours of getting their invite. Yeah. It was almost non-stop.

In other words, I think a lot of you readers are going to love this one.

Second, if you’re a prior Alpha Reader but have not received an invite, check your inbox and make sure it didn’t get sent to spam or promotions or some other folder.

Now, with the influx of Alpha Readers received on this title, there’s not really a need for more Alpha Readers at this point … However, they can’t hurt. If you’re interested in being an Alpha Reader, have Alpha’d before or know what it entails, or would like to do a trial run, get in touch with me and we’ll see what we can do.

Other than that, I’m going to keep working on getting this cover done, and once a few more Alpha Readers get through Axtara, start polishing for Beta! Right now I’m planning on a late summer release, and it looks like that window will be neatly open.

There is one other item of note, however, before we hit the jump. Just an FYI sort of bit, but Axtara is only 122,000 words. So standard novel size compared to my usual far. But this also makes it small enough (hah!) to get a print run.

Surprise! More on that as we move closer to a release date. Now, hit the jump for some news on Starforge.

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Another Project Complete! The News Rolls in Again

Most of you can probably guess what this post is about. Yesterday, I put my fingers to the keys one final time, and wrote the last line of Fireteam Freelance.

That’s right. The whole thing is now complete. All episodes.

Do I have thoughts on it? Oh yes. I’ve noted from the beginning that an episodic story like this was definitely an experiment. I won’t say what those thoughts are at this juncture, because you readers haven’t finished the story, and I don’t want to inadvertently color your expectations. Though I will say some of the episodes coming up have some of my favorite scenes I worked on through this series, and I don’t feel at all that my time was misspent.

Naturally, of course, this means that there will be another episode this Saturday. Episode 9, Apatos, will be live at 8 AM mountain time, and after the events of the last episode, you absolutely will not want to miss it.

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First to Fifty

I’ve been pretty quiet this week, as many of you may have noticed. No posts after Being a Better Writer save this one (a few days later), etc. But … I’ve had good reason.

For starters, I’ve been in the middle of the finale for Fireteam Freelance all week. Yeah, the big ultimate showdown. So as you can imagine, if I’ve been writing at all, it’s been on that rather than anything else.

But that’s come with some other complications as well. See, Monday night I started developing a sore throat.

Sands and storms, right? By Tuesday it was especially pronounced, and well … with Covid-19 going around and a sore throat being one of the symptoms, I went into deeper self-isolation (read, I didn’t leave my place) these last few days waiting to see if any other symptoms would appear.

Thankfully, none have, and as of today, the sore throat has almost completely vanished outside of a faint occasional itch showing where it once was. Bullet. Dodged.

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Fireteam Freelance Episode 8 Drops This Saturday

So, you readers may have noticed that there was not anything new for Fireteam Freelance this last week.

It was by choice. It was an off week, by which I mean there was an episode the prior week (Episode 7 – Missing Persons) and these episodes have come out every other week. Which does mean that yes, episode 8 (Last One Out) drops this Saturday.

So yes. Set your alarms and mark your calendars! Episode 8 of Fireteam Freelance arrives this Saturday, and it’s one you won’t want to miss.

But yeah, last week there was no bonus content. That doesn’t mean it’s done, not yet. But there was a good reason for the break. After this Saturday’s climactic episode, there will be another bit of in-between content in the week following.

After that? Well, I’m not sure. About bonus content, I mean. Hit the jump for more.

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A Brief Post Concerning the State of Things in the US

Those of you who are in the US most likely know what I’m talking about today. Those of you outside the US have most likely picked up tidbits, given the amount of non-US news crews covering everything (and finding themselves assaulted for it), so I don’t need to rehash the events surrounding the death of George Floyd or the subsequent protests and then riots sweeping across the US here. If you somehow haven’t gathered much on what happened (another cop killing someone on camera in cold blood with no repercussions) … well that parenthetical is likely all you need to decipher, along with a decent imagination of “Well, how would people react to that?”

Now, I’m not going to go into a lot of depth on this today. Be aware that that depth does exist. If you wish to find records of police brutality, videos of Australian news crews being clubbed with batons, or old men beat up by police until they’re lying bleeding on the pavement for the “crime” of trying to get to their home or waiting for a bus.

So what am I going to say on this? A few things.

First, the murder of George Floyd was wrong. As is any of the racial profiling that still sticks with a lot of people in the US. I think I’ve made it pretty clear over the course of seven books that I think judging someone based on the color of their skin is an utterly asinine practice that no one should engage in. Positive or negative (yes, it’s just as bad to assume someone is “good” because of a skin color as it is to assume something bad about them).

People. Are. People. We’re all human beings on this little rock we call Earth. Blue, green, purple, whatever. Judging someone based on the color of their skin is wrong.

You want to make a judgement on someone, do it by something that matters, like the content of their character.

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The Stable Instability

Hello readers! Never fear, I’m still alive. Just hard at work on episode #10 of Fireteam Freelance.

Episode ten? Why yes, I am getting that far ahead. Which is good, because these last episodes are probably going to be pretty titanic. “Season finale” and all that.

Of course, having a pretty good buffer does mean that this Friday will see the release of the next big episode: Missing Persons. I’m pretty pleased with how this episode turned out. Not only did we get a neat view of a future cityscape, but we also got to see a seriously cool action sequence. And some more puzzle pieces clicking together …

Anyway, that will be up this Saturday, so be sure to keep an eye open. We’ve passed the halfway point with Mandatory Takeout, so things are coming together and moving with a swifter and swifter pace, and again, I’m pretty pleased with some of the action sequences from this Saturday’s episode. They’re pretty crazy.

So, moving on to further news: Facebook advertising is now rolling forward. It’s still somewhat experimental, and I’ll admit I don’t have the strongest grasp on it yet (a lot of this is very much learn as you go), but I desperately needed something to combat the abject slump that came about with the reopening of the economy. Sorry, partial reopening. A topic which I won’t get into outside of saying “It’s divisive.”

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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!