Updates and Reminders for the Weekend!

Hey folks! You know, I debated on doing a more traditional post for the weekend, like an OP-ED or the like, but honestly? Instead I sat down and finished reading the Shadow of an Empire proof. Sands and Storms is that a ripping tale!

In addition, the proof was almost perfect. I’ve got a few minor changes to make this weekend or Monday, but all in all it’s largely ready to go. Just need to make a few minor adjustments, and it’ll be ready for launch.

You know what that means, don’t you? That’s right: Shadow of an Empire will be available in paperback form next week! And yes, this means that it most certainly will be a topic for Monday’s live Being a Better Writer Q&A. If you wanted to ask questions about getting a book ready for paperback print and what that entails, this Monday would be the proper time.

Which brings me to the next topic, a reminder that this coming Monday will not feature the standard Being a Better Writer article posting (outside of a link to a classic article), but instead be a live Q&A session with you readers using Discord to post questions which will be answered live via an audio stream. We’ve done a couple of these so far over on The Makalay Camp, the site’s official Discord server and they’ve been pretty successful. If a little light sometimes on viewers, since finding the right time for everyone is tricky. This coming week we’ll be holding it at a later hour: 5 PM MST. That’s Mountain Standard Time, so if you live east or west of that and want to participate, use Google or some other method (math?) to find out what time that would be for you, and then use your computer or your phone to join the site’s official Discord server! Come with questions!

As to how to get on the Discord server, there will be a link provided Monday morning in lieu of the usual BaBW post that will allow admission to the server for those who’ve not joined it before. Bring writing questions! After the Q&A is over, you can leave the server or stay part of it in order to chat or just gain occasional glimmers of news that seep through its channels.

With that, I believe I’m out of news! Have a good weekend everyone, and get ready for both the Q&A and the chance to hold your own paperback copy of Shadow of an Empire in your hands!

Weekend News (A Quick Post to See You Through)

Hello readers! Max here with a quick update/news post. First and foremost, if you’d like a preview of my weekend …

That’s right, the paperback proof for Shadow of an Empire arrived this week! And it’s a hefty chonk! With no remorse I placed it on a kitchen scale to bring you the exact weight: two pounds, one ounce!

That is a big novel. And that’s about a hundred pages less than Colony would be. Jungle would, by the same scale, be almost four pounds. Assuming it could even be bound.

Anyway, I’ll be spending the next little bit working on getting that finalized and ready for shipping! Just in time for … Halloween, I guess? Who doesn’t love a good Western in the fall?

Hit the jump for a few other updates on things, including Starforge news!

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Shadow of an Empire: The Paperback Price Poll

Hello readers! I come to you today with news! And also, with a question.

The news, first. But those of you tempted to skip it, don’t. The question is tied deeply into it, and I would prefer feedback from you, the readers.

So the news: Shadow of an Empire is almost available in print. The proof has been ordered! That’s right. At long last, those of you who loved your sun-soaked journey across the desert Outlands of Indrim will be able to order a paperback copy to sit on your nightstand or coffee table!

Now, this is a chonky boy of a book. At the same trade size as Axtara – Banking and Finance, Shadow of an Empire has smaller text and is still twice as thick. It’s gonna be a hefty volume (and this isn’t even my longest work by far). But as you might expect, this comes with a catch.

See, the print cost is more than double what Axtara‘s is as a result. And when combined with expanded distribution that allows it to show up in bookstores, libraries, etc, that means that the price point for Shadow of an Empire‘s paperback is … significant.

How significant, you might ask? Well, for it to be available in bookstores, libraries, etc, the prices needs to be … $21.99.

Yeah. For a paperback. A good quality one, if Axtara‘s paperback quality is anything to go by, but … yeah, still high. Granted, it’s not too much higher than most similarly sized paperback books of similar quality. Dune is what, 500 pages and that’s retailing at $17.99 or so right now.

But here’s the thing. If I don’t allow for expanded distribution, IE, no libraries, bookstores, etc … then that cut doesn’t exist, and the price could be $15.99 … a full six dollars less.

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Getting Back in the Swing of Things

Hey folks! It’s time for a news update!

So, what’s new? Well, after spending all of last week save a day sick (seriously, gnarly cold), this week has been more of a return to form. Writing, working, and all the usual once more.

So what’s there to talk about? Well, for starters, this week saw Axtara – Banking and Finance grab a few new 5-star reviews, both of which were full of praise. Take a look!

The second one kind of makes me laugh a little because it reminds me of my favorite C.S. Lewis quote, but hey, they loved it anyway and still gave it 5-stars! Axtara really is a great success. The titular dragon herself would be proud, I think. And a little mortified that everyone’s reading about her life, but that’s most fiction.

Speaking of Axtara, I once again want to float the idea of Axtara t-shirts out there. Right now I’m thinking something with a slogan on it. Sort of like “Banking shouldn’t be a drag …” on the front, and “… so I do my banking with a dragon. Axtara – Banking and Finance!” You know, something goofy like that, as if Axtara herself were actually handing out promotional t-shirts at a job fair somewhere in hopes of drumming up business (she probably would).

I’ve never done t-shirts before, but especially if they’re just text on a color, they couldn’t be that tricky, difficult or (hopefully) expensive, right? Anyway, right now I’m just trying to gauge interest, so as before leave comments in the affirmative if you’d be interested in an Axtara t-shirt!

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Quick Weekend Update

Hey folks! I know, I know, you haven’t heard much from me lately. This week saw a Being a Better Writer post on Saturday, and that was it until now. But … I’ve had good reason.

Starforge is in the last five percent. Yes. It’s that close. So I’ve been just a little occupied. There’s a chance that maybe even next week it might be done. I’d be pumping out a lot of words a day, but there’s still a chance.

Speaking of words, the draft is now over 450,000. Definitely Jungle size. Again, this is pre-polish before editing, so there’s a chance things might shift and change, but right now it’s a bit of a titan. A titan that’s kind of consuming my every waking thought because, well, ending!

However, it’s not the only thing I’ve got a bit of news on. Weekends I usually don’t write on primary projects, working on smaller things or side jobs (plus taking a bit of time to myself for things like laundry, house cleaning, etc). This weekend? Finishing off formatting for the paperback edition of Shadow of an Empire!

Yup! It’s done following several hours of work today. Well, save the cover, which is the next step. Cover’s made, you all know (and glorious, as those of you with the 4K wallpaper can attest) but needs to be positioned, have the spine and back text put together, etc. All stuff I did for Axtara, so at least it won’t be quite such a trial and error step by step this time. In fact, I put together a good start at it already, and so the project is in motion.

Get that done next Saturday, and I can order the proof. After which … Well, sales can go live. So yeah, looking at end of this month, or maybe August perhaps? Rest assured, you’ll know as soon as it’s up for pre-order/sale. And that day is close!

I’ll share some more details as things develop. For now, have a good weekend all!

The Pricing of Axtara – Banking and Finance … in 1994

Here’s a fun one, folks! About two years ago I wrote a post called The Price We Pay – Are Book Prices Too Much? which investigated a (still) common complain that books were needlessly expensive—yes, even indie books—and that the prices needed to return to what many online remembered them being when they were younger, circa 1994.

This post took that declaration to task, examining it, breaking it down, looking at how the industry operated, then using math the readers could verify themselves to show that memory and nostalgia don’t always line up, and then from there showing that a wide range of books—Indie titles especially—are cheaper than ever thanks to advancements in technology.

The post also noted that where that isn’t true, IE where prices are higher it tends to be the big Trad Pubs who have deliberately eschewed modern advances and then as a cherry on top have sent their prices even higher just because they want more money.

To this day, this post remains one of the most popular on the site, collecting a regular daily stream of readers usually arriving from a Google search like “Why are books so expensive?” or the like.

But there was another factor in that post that made it, at least to me, quite memorable. It was when I went and adjusted the (then—tail prices have since taken effect with a few) prices of my own books back to 1994 cash to see what they were worth. And we got these two nifty little charts:

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Just News Things

So basically … kind of a news post. But not. More just a case of “Well, I really should say something, and there have been goings on lately …”

Also, I really wanted to talk about what happened yesterday. So you know how I have a standing thing with Axtara – Banking and Finance of “let me know if you find a copy in the wild?” Send a picture, etc?

Well, I’m sharing not a picture, but definitely a demonstration of how far Axtara has spread her wings. Yesterday a new entry popped up on my royalty notifications. One I’d not gotten before. It was an end-of-month royalty for copies sent to bookstore distribution. Checking up, I found that these are usually a bit after the fact (so this royalty was probably for back when Axtara launched), but there was another detail that I caught.

This order was for Germany. Which means that somewhere out there in Germany is a bookstore with Axtara – Banking and Finance proudly displayed on its shelves.

Or not, if it’s already been bought out, at which point they’ll probably order more. Yes, I definitely hope that.

Is this particularly special? Well, yes and no. It’s not like this is the first time I’ve sold books in Germany, or in other countries around the world. My ebook market is pretty global.

But Axtara is my first paperback, and this order means that someone working at a bookstore in Germany was either familiar enough with my work on their own through my ebooks to place an order based on what they already knew, or read the synopsis and thought “Yes, that sounds good. I want to read this, and I think people will buy it,” then placed it then.

Either way, it makes me happy. My paperback sales are now not just global, but they’re in bookstores outside of the US. That is a freaking accomplishment.

And it makes me dang proud. Axtara’s got wings, and she’s using them to fly around the world. I wonder where she’ll land next?

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The Bi-Weekly Report: Happy St. Patrick’s Day

You know, if you’re looking for one more way to celebrate, Axtara—the titular protagonist of Axtara – Banking and Finance—is green. You can read the first few chapters for free here, or pick up your own copy here! Or even just adorn your device background with her cheerful grin!

Since I’m on the topic of Axtara, she’s reached a grand total of 20 ratings and reviews now. All of them granting her Five Stars. There hasn’t been a disappointed reviewer yet! Or even one that’s just slightly impressed.

And that? It’s pretty pleasing. To paraphrase one review, ‘Axtara knocks it out of the park,’ and that brings me a lot of joy. Which is great, because so far Axtara seems to be bringing a lot of readers old and young a lot of joy as well, like I’d hoped it would. So it’s like one big circle of joy.

Best of all, I’ve been hearing from readers that have passed it on to their teenage girls that they absolutely love it. Success! Here’s to more reviews in the coming weeks, and thousands of new readers as those who fell in love with Axtara share their newfound find with others!


Since we’re on the topic of both reviews and green covers, Colony and its sequel Jungle got some more love this last weekend from reviews. Colony might be over four years old at this point, but it’s still garnering praise from readers of Sci-Fi and picking up new readers. Which is good, because Starforge is inching step by step towards completion and wrapping the whole thing up.

But yeah, if you’re not in the mood for green dragons for Saint Patrick’s Day, well, Jungle is also full of a lot of green. A lot of it. In a most threatening manner. You can check out a free preview here if Sci-Fi is your thing, but you’re still looking to stick to that St. Patrick’s Day tradition.


Speaking of Starforge, the current draft is now at 310,000 words. Continued progression, like clockwork, with each daily quota. It’s still somewhere near the 66-70% done marker, but with a book that has to tie up this much, that’s probably not a surprise to any of you. As to when, roughly, this draft will be finished? I’d rather not make predictions at the moment, but I do write 3000-4000 words a day for my daily quota, so rest assured there is progress.

Speaking of progress, to my utter shock I discovered it had been almost a year since I touched Stranded. Sure, it was a weekend fan project, but … Well, there was 2020. That was a thing. And Stranded appears to have been a casualty. But not a fatal one. I’ve been spending my Saturdays adding to it and getting it moving forward once more,

Of course, that isn’t my only Saturday project. Progress continues on getting the Shadow of an Empire paperback worked out. Granted, two Saturday projects (plus this being tax season) mean that it’s taking a little while, but with then there’s this next bit of news …

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A Smorgasbord of News!

Hello readers! How has you week been?

Mine has been busy. And it’s not going to let up anytime soon. There’s a lot going on for me in the next few weeks, and there already was a lot going on to begin with! Of course, one of the largest projects questing after my time was the Axtara – Banking and Paperback release, but if you’ve been following the site, you know that … that was this week!

That’s right! That’s the first bit of news I’m going to crow about. Because yes, the day finally arrived: You can now purchase one of my books in trade paperback. Sands, you can even order it from your local bookstore thanks to expanded distribution! Or ask your local library to acquire a copy (I still get paid either way, so enjoy your read)!

Of course, you can also just order it right now at this link. The one I just repeated twice for good measure! Or you can click the cover there over on the side. Come on … you know you want to … And plus, as those who have already read it can tell you (check the reviews) it’s a fantastically fun story. And suitable for a good range of ages too!


All right, so that’s Axtara talked about and plugged. So now I need to talk about the next big thing that’s happening and keeping me busy.

Life, The Universe, and Everything 2021!

Yes, that’s right, readers! It’s still happening this year, despite the quarantine. Just … not in the same manner. This year (and only this year, as again Covid-19) LTUE will be online! And yes, I will once again be both attending and presenting this year.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. For the newcomers, what is LTUE, and why should they care? Well, Life, The Universe, and Everything is a Writing Convention for Science-Fiction and Fantasy writers (primarily) that has, over the years, branched into a number of related topics such as art, gaming, and other associated venues while still being primarily arrayed around on thing: Writing.

This means that it has panels on topics such as worldbuilding, writing action scenes, or even writing non-human characters, chaired by authors that have written successful books on those topics. Panels where said authors will talk about the experience, common mistakes, ways to succeed, and take questions from the audience.

To be blunt, if you are at all interested in learning writing advice on hundreds of topics from experts in the business, this is the con to go to.

Oh, and did I mention it’s $5 for students? It’s an educational conference, after all.

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Axtara – Banking and Finance Now Available in Paperback!

It’s here!

Dragons. Princesses. Banking. Now in dead-tree format!

Ladies and gentlemen, guests and readers of all species … The time has finally come. You can now order your own paperback copy of Axtara – Banking and Finance! That’s right, the day has finally arrived! Axtara is here in print-bound, dead tree form that you can order and hold for yourself in your own two hands! Or three, or four, or whatever appendages you may use for such a purpose.

But that’s beside the point. The point is that you can now purchase your own copy of Axtara – Banking and Finance in a lovely paperback edition to grace your bookshelf! Or display on your living room table. Or get signed by the author at a con (you know, once this whole Covid-19 thing is over). Or … well, whatever you want to do with it! It’s yours!

So where can you acquire this wonderful title? Simple! You can just click any of the numerous links to Axtara across the site (there’s one currently to your right, or just use the books tab) and then, once on Amazon, select the paperback option! Axtara is available in a wide array of countries too, so if you’re not in the US, don’t fret!

What if you don’t use Amazon? Well … you’re not actually out of luck. Axtara is available for expanded distribution. While I don’t know how long it takes for things to wend their way to the right place, this means that your local bookstore should be able to order a copy … or even your local library! Strapped for cash but still want to get your hands on a copy? Go make a request for it at your local library and share it with everyone who uses it!

So hit up a link, phone your bookstore or your local librarian, whatever you need to do. But then sit back, wait for that package to arrive … and curl up with a tale of dragons, princesses, and most of all, banking and finance.

Enjoy, everyone. Enjoy!