Two Weeks …

Starforge releases in two weeks, people. Fourteen days. At this point you could put a countdown app on your phone to when Starforge will be available to read in your country if you wanted to. And I wouldn’t blame you one bit.

If you haven’t pre-ordered yet for some reason, then click that cover there. Do it! Do it now! The finale of the UNSEC Space Trilogy is only a few clicks away from being delivered to your device on November 29th.

Maybe you’re waiting for the reviews. Maybe you’re hesitant that Starforge can deliver what it’s promised, to both tie up all the lose ends from Colony and Jungle while still being an epic, satisfying ending.

I get that. But you’re in luck. One reviewer has already received their copy and posted their thoughts on it, which you can read at this link. It’s got some small spoilers, but the biggest of all I’ll drop in your laps is the rating. 5 out of 5.

And the word “stellar” is used, which is quite appropriate given the subject matter.

We’re fourteen days away from this six-year journey (for the readers, anyway) concluding at last. I hope you’re pumped for it. Because you should be!


All right, what about other news? This is technically a news post, so yes, there is a little more to talk about. Yes, Starforge comes out in two weeks. Yes, that is grand. Oh, and yes, it has now passed its predecessor, Jungle, for pre-order numbers and is tied for third place. Yes, it has several preview chapters you can read and cool lore bits filling in some details of the setting at this tag. But surely there’s other news, isn’t there?

Well yes, there is. For starters, I’m looking forward to being able to work on other projects again. Like a new Jacob Rocke book. Or that Axtara sequel that everyone’s really excited for. I’m excited for it too. It’s going to be great fun to both write her once more.

Speaking of Axtara, did you know that on Amazon she’s almost eclipsed Colony for reviews? It’s true. As of writing this, she’s only two reviews away. She remains a bit further behind on Goodreads, but she’s still the sitting with the third-highest number of reviews there. And over 80% of them are 5-Star. Everyone just loves Axtara.

Colony and Jungle continue to get some attention as well, but I think right now there are just a few readers who are catching up, while most are waiting for the big finale to drop.


Let me see … Other news. Oh yes! November 29th is the release date for Starforge, so November 28th, which is a Monday and would normally be a Being a Better Writer post will instead be a Reddit AMA! That’s right! The last time I did an AMA on reddit was for Jungle, and so it’s only fitting that the finale to the trilogy comes with one more AMA.

Oh, and one last thing before I wrap this post up. Yes, there is a price increase coming for my library. More on that before it happens. But … if you were hoping to pick up the entire UNSEC Space Trilogy (that’s Colony, Jungle, and Starforge all at once when Starforge drops) now that it’s a complete, finished set, you might just want to wait until, oh, November 23rd or so. Just for … reasons.

Max out! I’ve got more copy-editing to do!

Starforge’s First Review!

So, starting this post with the obligatory reminder: Starforge is now available to pre-order and releases November 29th! That’s right, the epic conclusion to the UNSEC Space Trilogy is finally here! The journey that began in Colony six years ago and continued in Jungle three is now finally coming to its breathtaking, action-packed conclusion, and you won’t want to miss it!

Of course, some of you might be skeptical. After all, it’s not unheard of for the final book in a series to deliver a less-than-spectacular ending. Maybe you’ve read Colony and Jungle but are worried that the big finish won’t do what you hoped to wrap everything up and answer those lingering questions?

Well, that’s why with Starforge I decided to send out early copies for review. And now that the pre-order is live, Starforge has it’s first review, courtesy of reviewer PaulAsaran (who also reviewed Colony and Jungle). How does he find it? If you’ll pardon the pun, “stellar.” Here, have a few choice selections of his words on the matter:


Starforge jumps into the action from the start. Max’s action is as riveting as ever, and is accentuated by new threats, new solutions, and new consequences. The trio find themselves traveling across an alien world yet again, only this time accompanied by a bunch of soldiers … As time goes by and these people survive more and more brutal encounters, it can be easy to start recognizing names and rooting for a few … Then people start dying.


In the midst of these character elements comes the worldbuilding. We’re traveling across an alien world, and our inquisitive protagonists can’t help but theorize and guess at what it all means for the race that not only used to live there, but literally built it. There’s an effort here to truly embrace the concept of “alien life”, with unique architecture, quirky technological concepts, and interesting ideas regarding how an aquatic species might view the world around them.

The worldbuilding is, not to put too fine a point on it, stellar.


Just know that this is a big story with a lot going on … But you should be reading the whole thing anyway, because it’s all great … A great read, and a delightful way to end the trilogy.


Ultimately, Starforge has earned its first 5 Star rating, what will likely be one of many. You can check out the full review on Goodreads, or if you’re already convinced, go pre-order Starforge here.

November 29th can’t come soon enough! See you all tomorrow for another Starforge lore preview—this time with a new spin on things—and Monday for more Being a Better Writer. Until then, have a great weekend!

The Friday News and Such

Hey there everyone! It’s time for a news post, keeping you all up to date on what’s going on and all. But this week we’re going to start off with an odder bit of news that’s less to do with writing and more just to do with the personal goal of me getting healthier.

Back in the end of June I picked up a Fitbit. I did this with the goal of measuring my workouts and tuning them to be more effective. To that end, I will say I was shocked with some of the results. Some of the routes I was following that I assumed would have been decent workouts were, in fact, not that great, and some of the routes that “common sense” would have said weren’t that great were actually my best in terms of caloric burn and cardio.

The power of a little data, right?

Anyway, there was a little bump in the middle where I got sick and lost a week of workouts while eating … not so great food … but the result is that currently I am, since June, down about thirteen pounds, and still heading further down.

Now that’s nice to have lost, isn’t it. It’s not a shock diet, or a carb fast, or anything like that. It’s just having metrics and a willingness. Well, and the bike. The holiday pounds are on their way out!

I know it’s not super impactful when it comes to the site, unless that lost weight will somehow help me write faster (I doubt it, personally), but it is something that I’m very happy to be able to see progression on, day after day.

With that said, I’ve got more news for people, and more tangential to the focus of the site, so hit that jump!

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The First to Fifty: Colony Makes History

Well, it finally happened. In a move this weekend that saw me updating every scheduled post for the next few weeks, Colony has become the first book of mine to hit the fifty-review/rating milestone on Amazon. For a while there it was a real question of which would be first, Colony or One Drink (my first), as both were neck and neck for a few weeks. But Colony has proven itself, and has now taken not only the lead, but broken the first major review milestone I’ve had on Amazon, cracking fifty reviews and ratings.

Which … may not seem like a lot to some of you. In an era where a ten-thousand dollar instagram campaign can drive a book to a thousand reviews seemingly overnight, fifty reviews doesn’t seem like much. But there’s one thing that Colony has going for it with its small selection that those massive advertising campaigns don’t: Colony‘s reviews are organic and all-natural!

Better yet, it’s still sitting at 4.5 stars after all these years.

And in case I didn’t have more to say about this, One Drink caught up as of this morning. That’s how close it was. Colony managed it on Saturday, One Drink just this morning. Talk about a tight race!

But a race that Colony clearly won. Which means it’s time to deliver on the tease I kept making recently about whichever title managed it getting a reward worth bragging about. And well, here it is:

Colony will be free to everyone this weekend. And it’ll be a five day weekend. Fifty reviews, five days. That means starting this Thursday, May 5th, and running through Monday, May 9th, Colony will be free to download and keep forever.

For five days.

Yeah. That’s the prize. Colony was the first to reach fifty, so it’s going to be free for almost a week. If you’ve been waiting in the wings thinking you’d pick this one up when the moment arrived … this is the moment! Starting tomorrow, you’ll have your chance!

But it shouldn’t just be you. If you know someone who would enjoy Colony and the rest of the trilogy, fire a link at ’em! Let them know now is the time to check it out!

However … that’s not all. Those of you that have read Colony and Jungle will be happy to know that next week, after the free giveaway is over, you’re going to get a very special post indeed: A preview of Starforge.

This was a Patreon-exclusive for some time, but now you’re going to get a look at it. Pre-Alpha, so unedited (Starforge editing is ongoing). But hey, it’s a preivew! It is, in fact, the entire prologue.

And it will be massively full of spoilers if you’ve not read Colony and Jungle. Just saying. I’ll have a warning on the post, just in case.

Either way, if you’re one of the reviewers that helped push Colony to fifty, thank you. Colony continues to thrive in part because of your willingness to let the world know how great it is.

Now it’s time for others to find that out as well.

Congratulations Colony for hitting the milestone!

The Halo TV Show Embraces Everything Wrong with Hollywood Adaptations

Or, how I got my site canceled by CBS (that, if you’ve not heard, is a jab at CBS issuing takedown demands at Youtube reviews for their new show that were, shall we say, less than glowing).

Hollywood has a long, and shall we say, storied reputation when it comes to adaptive works. Particularly when it comes to adapting properties from the medium of video games. While there have been success stories they’ve both been few and far between as well as confined to the last few years (and often outside of Hollywood’s clutching grasp), leading to … Well, let’s just say I’ve had theories on how Hollywood has managed to take again and again something that seems like a sure bet and screw it up in a way that seems too inept to be anything but deliberate.

Now, with Paramount+’s (already a real fount of originality there) new Halo series, I must once again note that my theory seems more accurate than ever.

I’ll be open up front: This show is a mess.


Actually, let me start with something before that, simply to stave off CBS’s most common current defense, which has been ‘people just don’t like it because they’re desperate fanboys who can’t handle something not being 100% faithful to the original.’

Yes, I grew up playing video games (parents attempts otherwise notwithstanding). Halo came out when I was in high school, and I thoroughly enjoyed it in college and to date still have the Master Chief Collection installed on my PC. I put a ton of time into Halo 5, put my thoughts on Halo Inifinite right here on the site, and so yes, I’ve been a fan of the series for a long time.

However, I am also an author, and no stranger to the rule that yes, you do need to make some concessions when adapting things from one medium to another. I have no “demand” that video game adaptations in film or shows be one-to-one with their counterparts. For example, one of my favorite video game movies to date is Sonic the Hedgehog, which admittedly did have to roll back their utterly horrifying design, but after they did so delivered a great, fun film that was full of heart and laughs while also still being true to the series elements that spawned it. Where there changes? Yes. But those changes worked and we designed in conjunction with the elements that were kept in order to make both come together to a harmonious whole.

Detective Pikachu is another movie that handled this well, staying very true to the elements of Pokemon that could be put on the big screen, while telling a slightly different—but no less fun—plot from most of the games.

Point being, I know sometimes you need to change things to make a story work in a new medium. I also know that there are plenty of time people get their hands on something and change it just to try and make it their own, without regard for whether or not those changes enhance or detract from the final product.

In other words, I’m more than willing to set aside devotion to a “core” setting and embrace changes for a new medium provided those changes are for the betterment of what the audience recieve.

And the Halo show? Hoo boy … This … This is not that. The Halo show is full of changes, and none of them are good. In fact, they’re more on par with “narrative disaster” than anything else. These wholly feel about “change for the sake of change” with no thought or regard to even the show’s own setting and the impact the changes have on it. The end result is a mess of show full of poor direction, plot holes, narrative inconsistency, and changes to the plot that are frankly boggling in their foolishness.

Buckle up and hit the jump, because this is going to be rough.

But at least it won’t be as rough as actually watching an episode of this show.

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Nanowrimo, Reviews, and More – A News Post

Hello once again, folks! I’m back with a news post, and most of you know the drill. So … what’s happening lately?

Well, let’s start with the writing news. Stranded is almost finished up (draft-wise) which … is good. Stranded is one of those experimental projects I do to try out new things, and this one ballooned on me. I’ll be glad to finish it. While I wouldn’t call it a dud, I think both its experimental nature and its lack of full pre-planning before I just dove in did hurt it somewhat.

Does that mean it’s worthless? Of course not! I am glad of the experiments I was able to delve into with it, all of which I’m going to be able to put forth in an upcoming writing project I’ve been excitedly planning for a few years now (and which I’ve only mentioned a few times). Said writing project is still a ways off (don’t worry, we’ve got another Jacob Rocke book and of course Axtara – Magic and Mayhem to be worked on and written before I start this one) but it is one I’ve had in mind for a few years now, much like the UNSEC Space trilogy and Shadow of an Empire.

And you know, like Shadow of an Empire had the Ripper short in Unusual Events, I’m thinking that when I tidy up Stranded, one of the last shorts I’ll do before I get down to business on the Starforge draft might be a short story set in this new setting I’ve been envisioning. Like Ripper as a test-bed for the setting and some of the worldbuilding, to see if I’ve worked out some elements to my satisfaction or not.

Unlike with Ripper, however, hopefully this short story won’t creep so many people out it’s a de-facto dead end for most people’s reading of whatever collection it was in (if you’re not familiar with Ripper, it was so dark owing to its PoV character that many readers of Unusual Events stopped partway through it and never finished the collection, a lesson in “location” I learned the hard way. It’s a fantastic story, but for many it was a little too good considering the darkness of its subject matter).


Anyway, that’s what I’ve been working on. Tied in with that, it’s worth noting that this month is November, AKA Nanowrimo month! Nanowrimo, for those of you not familiar with it, is a yearly writing challenge given to aspiring novelists to sit down and write a short novel in a month, a total of 50,000 words across November’s 30 days.

Nanowrimo has gotten quite popular over the years, even among some authors that struggle to output more than a few thousand words a month using it as a catalyst to finally finish a book project.

This year? Nanowrimo has kicked off again. Now, I don’t participate in Nanowrimo. I’m a successful author who churns out books, and have a daily wordcount of 3000-4000 words. It’d be both redundant and, I feel, a little pretentious (and perhaps demoralizing) to those entering Nanowrimo who do find it a struggle to hit the given quotas to see someone whose literal job it is to put words on a page shattering a goal they themselves may struggle with because they’re trying to interspace it between whatever jobs they’re bouncing between.

Maybe I’m wrong? I don’t know, but it feels a bit fair because at it’s core, Nanowrimo is for (at least according to what I can see online) young writers trying to finish their first book.

I’m not saying I don’t support it. I do—and in fact, I want to know how many of you, readers, are participating and how it’s going so far? Comment below!—but rather that I don’t enter under the exact same logic that Kramer uses in Seinfield to join a junior karate class. Just … you know … not the same aim?

Now, if you’ve never entered Nanowrimo before but have always wanted to push yourself to finish up, or even start, a novel, then maybe this should be the year? We’re only a few days into November, so there’s still time to catch up! 50,000 works written by November 30th! You can do it!

And if you’ve decided to give it a shot, let us all know in the comments below!

Now, onto other news! We’ve got the holidays coming up!

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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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All the News That’s Relevant

Hey there readers! Max here with a news post about, well, everything!

First up, unless otherwise pleaded with, the current plan for next week’s live Being a Better Writer Q&A is to have it at 3 PM Mountain Time. Like last time this will last about an hour, and will be conducted over the Unusual Things discord server, The Makalay Camp.

Yes, of course that’s a reference. Anyway, look forward to that this Monday, and start thinking of questions and topics! Not just for the Q&A, of course, because—


Being a Better Writer is in need of topics! That’s right, we’ve reached the end of list #17, and Topic List #18 now sits atop my desk, ready to slowly fill with topic after topic on the arts of writing for the next installments of Being a Better Writer.

Which means after the live Q&A is over, the time will arrive once more for a BaBW Topic Call post to go up! I’ve got some new topics I’ve already been putting on there (such as one on diction and dialogue) but as always there are an endless number of writing topics to choose from, so if there’s something that’s on your mind that you’d like answered, discussed, or talked about in some manner, jot it down and get ready! If you don’t have one off the top of your head, that’s fine. You’ve got time. Sleep on it, and wait for the post to arrive.


Now, let’s talk about Starforge for a moment. Starforge, the grand finale to the trilogy started with Colony and Jungle, is now in the last 90% of the draft. Yes, I am in the midst of the final battle.

And it is awesome. No spoilers, but it’s the climax of everything that the series has been leading up to. For Pisces, for Jake, Anna, and Sweets … even for Earth and humankind.

So once I’m done here, I’ll go right back to working on that because, you know, finale. It’s living in my head right now and pretty much an epicenter of my focus. It needs to be done.

Which raises an important question: What will I do when it’s done? Will the Alpha Reading call possibly be sent out next month?

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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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