News and Updates

All right everyone, let’s discuss the big news item first: Where is Starforge currently?

Well, the good news is it’s coming along well. I have, however, delayed the move into Beta by a few days while I do some more polishing and tweaking on the Alpha 2. I know, there’s a schedule with a ticking deadline that’s drawing closer and closer, but I want this story to land for as many readers as possible, so I’m making some final tweaks that aren’t, for the most part, large, but are in evidence through the whole of the book, just to get some narrative beats to land just right.

So yes, today is the last of these tweaks, at which point I’ll start dropping chapters into the Beta Master List, send out invites to those respondents to the Beta Call Email (if you previously have been a Beta Reader, check your inbox for the call), and will start sending emails out to those of you that commented on the Beta Call post.

I believe that’s everything for today. I mean, that’s what I have to do today for Starforge. Outside of writing work … Well, you’re not here for that news. You’re here for writing news. So: Beta delayed slightly due to some Alpha polish. Those who have Beta Read before please check your email inbox if you haven’t seen the Beta Call email, and those who left comments, emails coming.


Now, onto other news: The site remodel. Yes, you may have noticed some stark changes around here. Pleasant green swapped for a harsher red. The lack of a smiling dragon banker in the top banner, replaced by an almost blood-red planet floating in space.

Yes, it’s the change of the site’s look for the newest book release. I guess we’re fortunate that red fits both Halloween and Christmas as a color, because we’re going to be with this one for a little while. Granted, it fits the spooky Halloween theme a bit better than Axtara’s cheer. But if you’re missing Axtara, I’m certain she’ll be back. After, a new Axtara title is slated as the second book I’ll be working to release after Starforge is done, and those are lot less work than a juggernaut like Starforge, which means they’ll be coming quicker and sooner.

But hey, for now, let’s just bask in the stark, dark void that is the dread of Starforge, shall we? Two last bits of news, but they’re going below the jump.

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I’m Back!

Readers! I have grand news! I am back from the north!

That’s right, I have returned from my expedition to the north! And well … let’s just say I think it was a good thing I queued up so many posts in advance, because wouldn’t you know it, things went wrong.

Nothing major. At least, not for this post. I arrived, we got geared up, everything was ready to go … but when the time came for the ship to depart … The depth reader wasn’t working.

This is, for a boat, a pretty vital piece of machinery. Especially when it not only tells you how far away the bottom is, but what kind of bottom it is (something critical for the type of fishing we were about to do). The machine, twenty-plus years old, had finally croaked. It was far beyond support from the original manufacturer, who had already been folded into another company, so that avenue was out of the question. And because these units aren’t exactly modular … Well … we were out of luck.

The result? Money had to be dropped on a new depth reader. Entirely. Which was not cheap, and in an added bit of “of course the universe works like that” took some time to arrive. Combine that with some other stuff, and bingo boom, I’ve been up there for two weeks and we still haven’t made it out on the water.

Once we did, things went largely according to plan. But these delays meant that yes, once again the trip took longer than was initially quoted at me. Hence, my preparation in adding several extra weeks of posts to the original estimate.

Point being, I’m back and I’m glad I prepped in advance? So … what now?

Well, with all of May pretty much a write off (I made my goal a much more realistic quarter of my normal goal and due to the extended trip couldn’t even make that), moving into June there’s one big project on my mind: Starforge.


As of right now, the goal with Starforge is still to work for a November release. Alpha 1 has shown some really rough spots and dissatisfaction with a few elements, so the next few weeks for me are going to be focused on pulling together things and making changes and fixes to try and ready the draft up for Alpha 2.

And this will need Alpha 2 readers. All hands on deck for this one, because there’s a large number of fixes in the wings, but also because I will need feedback on those fixes and what’s already there. So expect to hear more about Starforge in the coming weeks, because my immediate aim—well, once I stop feeling so sore and battered; fishing work really takes it out of you—is to hit Starforge and hit it hard.

Of course, this isn’t all I need to do, but I don’t want to make a first page titan, so for the rest of the upcoming summer, hit that jump.

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Big News!

Attention readers! It’s time for news, and I’ve got a doozy of a post for you in that regard.

So those of you that are long-time followers of the site may recall that back before I injured my knee, at least once a year I would head up to Alaska to work on a fishing boat and make some cash. Then I injured my knee, the injury was permanent, and that pretty much put and end to that.

Well, last week I got a call. A deckhand had quit short notice, and my old employer wanted to know if I wanted to try the job again. After some back and forth and agreement that we’ll have to play a lot of the job by ear due to my knee, but also that it’ll be a bit more relaxed than the “Witness me!” levels of commercial fishing’s usual dedication.

So I agreed to it. So near the end of next week, I’ll leave for Alaska on what will probably be close to three weeks of work. Though there is some variance with that. Two weeks is just the average, but there’s also the work getting the boat ready to go, getting the gear on it, etc.

Hopefully, I make it through without doing any extra damage to my knee, and come back with enough money to live at least the next few months without fear of immediate eviction (do not ask what my bank account looks like at the moment, just don’t).

Now, what does this mean for the site? Well … very little actually. I can schedule posts on Unusual Things, so there won’t be much change here outside of me being unable to approve comments from posters that look a lot like spam. But I’ll be writing next Monday’s Being a Better Writer post today, and then a bunch of them (along with other posts) next week before I leave, so posts here will still go up.

However, other sites that get excerpts of those posts? They don’t have scheduling. So before I leave each will get a notification post, and then person that follows the site through those locations will simply have to exercise their own efforts to come to the main site and see what the content is each week. Sorry, folks. There’s only so much I can do.

Anyway, there will be content while I’m gone (and if things stretch on really long, I’ll try to make some posts from my phone). When I get back, I’ll hit each of the places that don’t have scheduled updates or feeds with a nice summary post.

This does have other effects, of course. Remember Shadow of an Empire’s paperback copy? Well, I’m unlikely to get the proof before I leave (and even if I did, it’d be stuck with me in Alaska where it couldn’t do much good and I couldn’t do much work on it). Which means … release of the paperback will be delayed a bit.

Sorry guys. This was just unexpected. So … September then. Basically, as soon as I get back, I can get the proof ordered, and then once any errors there are cleared up, the book can go live.

Now, onto other news!

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Patreon Supporters! A New Reward Has Risen!

Hello readers! If you’re a Patreon Supporter, than today is your lucky day. Yesterday, I sat down and wrote a new short story for the next shorts collection, and the Pre-Alpha is up on Patreon! If you’re a supporter, you can go read it!

If you’re not, well, it doesn’t take much to start. Supporters keep Being a Better Writer coming and ad-free each week, so it’s always worth considering. But if you’re dead-set against a service like Patreon, but still looking for some reading, best I can do is point you at my books page, the free samples page, or the Fireteam Freelance page.

For those supporters about to click through, enjoy! I had fun with this one, and I think you will too. I won’t spoil anything because it’s short enough to go through in a burst, so instead I’ll just give you the title:

DB Coop.

Good luck puzzling that one out while you read!

Attention Patreon Supporters – Go Vote!

Hello readers! Today’s quick post is directed at those that are Patreon Supporters, because you’re getting a chance to pick the name of Pisces’ first major arms manufacturer and R&D lab!

That’s right! Without spoiling anything, near the end of Starforge Anna finds herself in possession of a new weapon produced by a Pisces-based startup. As I was wondering what to name this new company, it hit me … Why not let you decide!

So there’s a blank spot in the draft for Starforge with [POLL WINNER HERE] written in it, waiting for your decision! I put the full list up in a Supporter poll on Patreon. It’ll be up for a week starting today, and each supporter gets one vote. So make it count! There’s a small list to choose from, which I’ll drop here to help get your minds thinking, but I won’t tell the public at large who won! The answer will only be revealed when Starforge itself comes out later this year when it comes out (I’d like it to release end of this year, but it’s far enough off I won’t commit quite yet).

Anyway here’s the list, Patreon Supporters can hit the jump at the bottom and go vote!

The choices:

  • Poseidon Arms and Ammunition
  • Minerva Munitions
  • Revolt Arms
  • Ōjin Weapons Development
  • Lemuria R&D

Now Go Vote!

Final Bit of Pre-Vacation News!

Hey readers! I know a Saturday news post is a bit unusual, but hey, I’m going to be on vacation next week, so it is what it is, right? Plus, I do have news!


First, let’s talk about Starforge. No, the draft isn’t done. I’m currently at work on the fourth and final portion of the story, and actually kind of glad I’m going on a vacation because I’ve hit a … shall we say swing point? I know where I’m at, and I know where things are going, but I have two different ways to reach that point and I’m trying to figure out which one works best for the characters.

Again, this is the most stressful writing project I’ve ever had because well, Starforge has to live up to Colony and Jungle, and that is a tall order, especially when it has to finish off both of their respective stories.

The current draft has cracked 400,000 words, by the way. Probably about another 45,000-50,000 to go. Yes. It’s close. Then I’ll probably put it down for a month or so, do some short stories or something for other books or works to let my mind disengage, and then … come back and start editing. Hard. Maybe we can get a November release, but I make no promises.

Of course, if you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking “Sounds like you need that vacation.” Everyone keeps telling me that. Anyway, I’ll have a week off to think about how to swing this last bit of the finale, and there will very likely be some rewrites for the current chapter I’m working on (at the moment I feel it’s a little inconsistent with the tone) once I’m back, but … Other than that, I’ll I’ve got is “it’s still coming, it’s still the most stressful thing I’ve ever written, and I really hope I’m keeping it up to the standard of the first two.”


But I’ve got other news! Really good news, in fact. As of last night, I have officially reached 200 reviews and ratings on Goodreads!

How’s that for a milestone? Combined with my Amazon reviews, that brings me to 359 reviews total. And the average of all those reviews?

4.5 out of 5. If we double that to find the “US grade scale” that puts me at a 90%. Actually, a 91% since there’s some rounding with the last few digits.

Yeah, for all the stress I’m experiencing over Starforge, that review average feels pretty good. And I’m only 41 reviews from hitting that big old 400 I’ve been hunting for.

Curious what pushed me to the new milestone? It was Axtara. Another five-star review from a thrilled reader was the last tick I needed to go from 199 to 200. At the current pace Axtara is racking up reviews, it’ll be competing with Colony before long!


Now let me see. Other news. There will be a Being a Better Writer post while I’m gone, and I’ll be setting up a few classic throwbacks while I’m out so the site won’t be totally dead. I’m going to try and spend this next week somewhat relaxed so my brain can punch through the last few finale bits of Starforge without shredding itself, so I won’t be doing new posts while I’m gone. But again, stuff is set up, so keep an eye on things here. Nothing groundbreaking, but still fun.


Oh, and while we’re discussing news, eagle-eyed Patreon Supporters may have already noticed that the fourth and final portion of A Trial for a Dragon went live this morning! So those of you that have been following the misadventures of Axtara’s older brother Ryax have the conclusion to his struggle with the Rietillian Council of Wizards at last! Thanks for supporting!

And with this, I’m going to sign off, get a few final scheduled posts ready to go … and check out. Enjoy next week everyone, and wish me luck!

Bits and Pieces of News

Hello hello people! Yes, I know we had a post Wednesday and yesterday, but there are still a few things to say heading into this weekend. So, diving right in …


Those of you who are Patreon Supporters and fans of Axtara – Banking and Finance will want to keep an eye on the Patreon this weekend. Why? Because the first bit of a unreleased story set in the same universe will be dropping there this weekend. That’s right, it’s a supporter-only look at A Trial for a Dragon, a short story starring Axtara’s older brother Ryax. In … Rietillia? What is he doing there? Well, if you’re a supporter, you’ll have to tune in tomorrow on Patreon to get your first look.

But not the whole of it. It’s a short story but most of you know that doesn’t mean much where I’m concerned. So to keep Patreon from breaking under the size of the post, it’ll be in pieces.

And if you’re not a Patreon supporter, well … it is slated for a future release at some point in a collection. Patience will bring it to you in the end!


Speaking of Axtara, after 22 reviews, it finally got its first non-five-star the other day. A reader gave Axtara … four stars. For its 23rd review.

That’s not bad at all. The banking dragon continues to soar, and it’s a lot of fun to hear back from readers and fans how much they fell in love with Axtara and her adventures in Elnacier!


Speaking of reviews and ratings, just going to point out really quick: I am four ratings/reviews shy of 200 on Goodreads! This brings my total review rating count to … 357! And with all those reviews … still sitting at a 4.5 star average.

Now that’s the power of good writing.


Now, let’s talk about Starforge. I am on the second-to-last chapter of part three, so about to be roughly 75% done, and the total wordcount is … 337,000 words. We’re definitely looking at a Jungle-length adventure here folks. Some of that will probably get trimmed in editing—there’s a tricky balance with the action and pacing that needs to be met, and I’m positive the first draft will require some trimming and tucking to make it hit just right—but at the moment the concern is finishing the story off once and for all. Which I need to get back to, so let me drop other news and get on with it!

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A Plea to Please Consider the Patreon

Hello readers!

So this is a bit of a different post. But it is that time of year. As of yesterday, the payment to keep both the site and the webdomain running for another year—ad-free—has been paid.

I want to focus on that for a moment: “Ad-free.” As you might imagine, I get a lot of pressure from both the domain hosts and other sources, such as Google, to put advertising on the site. Just clicking to my daily stats for the site quite often puts me face to face with an ad that advertises the “financial virtues” of advertising to all of you.

I’ve steadily ignored that for years. Why? Because online ads suck. And I wouldn’t have control over them either. The last thing I want to hear about on this site would be someone reading a Being a Better Writer article to find their text split by an advertisement that had nothing to do with the site. Or worse, advertising something I myself wouldn’t agree with having on Unusual Things (which could be anything from competing books, to autoplaying noise, to lewd ads).

So no, Unusual Things remains ad-free despite these constant bombardments to me “explaining” to me how much money I’m missing out on. In a similar vein, I’m also constantly advertised at that the site could be running on a subscription model. Being a Better Writer, WordPress really wants me to know, could be behind a paywall! As could all my other content.

Now, there is one “upside” to all this. I could, if Amazon made changes I absolutely couldn’t stomach tomorrow, sell all of my books direct from the site using this service. Yes, it would let me sell files. So there is that option if I really needed it. But that’s a small upside I hopefully won’t need to take advantage of anytime soon.

Okay, so what’s the point I’m getting at here? My point is that there I receive constant encouragement to monetize advertising on Unusual Things. Which, given the regular traffic, isn’t that surprising. I choose instead not to monetize the existence of the site through ads because ads suck and make the site a lesser experience for everyone. Instead, I pay out of pocket to keep the site going while remaining ad-free.

Again, because I hate ads, and don’t think they’d add anything (hah) to the site.

I do, however, have a Patreon account set up, and noted with a single button on the side on the right. Because, well … Unusual Things isn’t free to run. But past that it also requires a good amount of time and dedication. To date, Being a Better Writer has been running each Monday (barring a few holidays the like) continuously now for almost six years. And along the way it’s become a staple of some writers’ Mondays. It’s featured in various college courses, cited/quoted on Wikipedia, linked to from Reddit and Facebook … Being a Better Writer has become for many a source of writing advice akin to Writing Excuses.

All right, maybe I am singing my own praises a little bit in that last statement, but the idea wasn’t to aggrandize things. It was to draw attention to how much Being a Better Writer has done over the years, and continues to do, while being given with zero up-front cost or adveritising.

But it’s still a lot of work. Hence, the Patreon.

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Being a Better Writer Topic Call Ongoing!

Surprise!

Yeah, I’m taking this Monday off. From Being a Better Writer. For three reasons.

One, it’s been a while, and a break sounds kind of nice. I churn these out almost every Monday without fail, year round save the occasional holiday, so yeah, a break actually sounds kind of nice. If you’re still itching to read something BaBW today, I’d say hit that search bar on the side and find one of the hundreds already up!

Or, you can participate in the second reason there’s a break today and suggest a topic in the comments! See, I keep an actual physical list sitting on my desk, checking topics off one by one, and right now, Topic List #15 is done for and #16 is being populated. Not just with topics I’ve come up with, but with suggestions from you!

So you can hit up the comments and leave suggestions about a topic or topics that you’d like to read about! Let’s populate the list!

Third reason? Because that leaves me more time to work on the Copy-Edit for Axtara – Banking and Finance, which I would like to get a lot done on today. The sooner it’s done, the closer it is to being published, so … I’ve got a lot of reading to do today!

All right, that’s it! So, one, taking a break. Two, your topic suggestions for Being a Better Writer are requested! And third, Copy-Edits on Axtara!

Hmm, I suppose there’s a fourth here. If you’re a Patreon Supporter, there will be a supporter update today. If you’ve been following the last few, you can probably guess what it is! Head on over to Patreon to check it out!

Now fill the comments with topics!

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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