Jungle: The First Two Weeks

Jungle CoverHello readers! I’m back! Two posts in two days is cutting it a little close, but … We’ve got special circumstances here.

How so? Well, as of two weeks ago Jungle, the long-awaited sequel to Colony, launched at last.

That’s right! It’s been out two weeks already. Some of you might even be getting close to finishing its titanic 1500 or so page length!

And a few of you already have, and left delightful reviews and ratings.

So, let’s talk about it for a bit! What’s the reaction so far?

Positive. Very positive. After two weeks, Jungle is sitting at Five-stars. With only five-ratings and reviews across Goodreads and Amazon. But again, it’s a titan of a book, and only came out two weeks ago. So even in two weeks, that’s a pretty hefty, time-consuming read. Five ratings and reviews in that time is pretty good.

Though, if one goes off of the reviews so far, it’s pretty easy to see how some finished it that quickly. Jungle has a knack, it seems for sucking the reader in and taking them on a ride to the very end, a ride no one wants to put down. One of the reviews is titled “A Tour de Force” for this exact reason.

So, let’s take a peek at some of these accolades! Well, from the aforementioned “Tour de Force” review, we’ve got this praise:

Lush, wildly imaginative and painstakingly yet appropriately concisely detailed settings, interstellar in scope but with careful attention to individual characters and their human(-ish?) interactions, speculative science that was fantastic beyond my imagining yet internally consistent and satisfyingly believable, and most important to me, characters that I could care about – even several of the ones who were obnoxious or abrasive (much like the real humans in my circle).

Another reviewer noted that the story “… becomes a frenzied dash for survival” and summed up a lengthy (but concise and spoiler-free) review with—

Ultimately, Jungle is a slow-build thrill ride full of interesting characters, deadly stakes, and terrible threats looming around the corner. The threats here are far less human than the last story had to offer, but is no less engrossing for it. Fans of Colony will not be disappointed.

Both gave it five stars.

So yeah, Jungle is off to a very strong start, at least in the reactions from the public. Speaking of which, if you’re currently working your way through it, what are your thoughts so far? Predictions for the future? Where are you at? How are you liking it so far? Leave a comment! I’d be interested in knowing what you’re thinking!

So, Jungle is being received well critically. What about as far as sales go? Well, that’s proved interesting so far. Hit the jump for a discussion on sales and interesting trends on display.

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The Countdown (A News Post)

Three Days to Jungle


Jungle CoverThree days, people. Not counting today, since it’s halfway gone for most already. Three. Days.

And then Jungle drops.

I mean … what else do I even say? At this point, it’s just waiting to see what happens. Watch the pre-orders tick up for those folks that want it ASAP, and then see what day-one sales look like. Wait for reviews to roll in. See what all of you make of the biggest Sci-Fi adventure I’ve ever pumped out.

No pressure, right?

Seriously though, it’s all over but the waiting, now. In three days, those of you that pre-ordered will have a copy in your hands, be it on your phone, tablet, laptop, kindle, or whatever other device you’ve decided to use for reading it. And it should probably be a device, too. At 457,000 words, an actual print copy of Jungle would probably weigh something like six or seven pounds. Good luck holding that one-handed.

Three days. It’s finally happening. Just so you guys know, work on Colony, the first book in this set, started five years ago, in late 2014. Colony released two years later, in 2016, and work on Jungle started almost immediately afterward. So the grand total of these two books? Five years of work and effort.

In three days you’ll all get to see where that’s led us, as well as the series’ starring trio of Jake, Anna, and Sweets.

While we wait for that release, if you’ve already locked in your pre-order and before we get to the rest of the news, I’d like to do a bit of an informal survey among you readers: Who’s your favorite of the three, and what do you expect is coming for them in Jungle? Got any theories?

While you ruminate on that, hit the jump for some more news!

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News Post!

Okay guys, it’s time for a news post! Your update on all things Max Florschutz! Regarding writing-related things, anyway.

Okay, first up, the elephant in the room. Or should I say, in the Jungle? Yeah, it’s time we talk about how the Jungle Alpha is coming along.


Quite well, actually. Currently half of the Alpha Readers have already finished it, and I’m on track to move it into Beta in August. Which means … still on track for that early fall release. Unless something wild comes up. There’s still a chance that there could be a wildcard out there somewhere.

But the Alpha has also said good things for Jungle so far. The other day I had the pleasure of waking up to an e-mail in my inbox that basically said ‘AAAAAAHHH! I just hit X plot point and I’m freaking out!’

Obviously that’s not what they said exactly. For starters, the “AAHHH!” was a lot bigger and longer. And the rest of the message would involve major spoilers that you’re just going to have to read to find out.

With the Alpha moving along to, I can also give you guys a much more concrete word count. Even though there is going to be some more trimming here and there, it’s not a large amount. Which means that moving into Beta, Jungle is likely going to be around 450,000 words.

For the record, Colony was 334,000 words. Jungle is a third again as long as Colony. Conversely, Colony is 3/4 the length of Jungle.

How does this stack up against other popular books? Well, Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings was around 387,000 words. The Lord of the Rings (all three books) was about 473,000. A Game of Thrones was 298,000 words.

Yeah, Jungle is thick. But packed. Seriously, this is one ride you’re not going to want to miss.

Speaking of which, while Colony isn’t as long as Jungle is, it’s still a behemoth. Which means if you were waiting for Jungle to get close to pick up Colony and finally start the adventure, now would be a good time to get started! You can grab it here!

Now, on to more news!

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You’ve Got to Be Careful with User Reviews …

Hey readers. Got a bit of an interesting one for you today. How well do you look at user  reviews when you’re examining a product?

Okay, now to be clear, most of us know that reviews, with the advent of the internet, have sort of become a giant free-for-all. Sands, I remember when One Drink had just come out, and I was young and innocent and looking for ways to get my book out there. I was astounded and disappointed with the amount of paid review services out there.

And oh yeah, that’s not allowed. But despite a lot of online companies’ best efforts (such as Amazon) the process continues. I recall, when looking out there for One Drink, being shocked at how easy some of these places made it seem. Why wait for real reviews when a company in China could simply give you several hundred reviews for a few hundred dollars, all from “guaranteed different accounts” with a “guaranteed variance” so that while you’d end up with the 4 or 5 star rating you chose (no joke) you could still have a wide range of reviews that averaged there, so that Amazon’s automated systems wouldn’t pick it up. Again, guaranteed. All you had to do was pay them and gift them a copy of your item for every review you wanted.

Now, while Amazon and other places have worked at closing down loopholes, they’re still there. I remember another site, a book review blog that seemed fairly popular (though that isn’t my sphere, so it’s hard to say) that would freely take any book sent to them … but pointed out very overtly in their “review request” section that they wouldn’t look at it without a “donation” and that said donation would have a lot to do with how much attention they gave your book.

I wish I were joking, but I’m not. If memory serves correctly, a “donation” of $500 meant that they were “very likely” to feature your book on their banner and praise it for at least a few weeks, while further “donations” could lengthen that time.

This was years ago, and I’ve long since stopped looking, but given that sites like Amazon continue to make changes to their review policies (such as the recent Amazon change where you must be spending $50 a year on average to leave reviews) would seem to suggest that the issue is still an ongoing battle.

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Jungle Alpha Call 2 and Hunter/Hunted Update

News post! Let’s dive right in!

So, first up, let’s talk about Jungle. For those of you for whom the name doesn’t breed instant recognition, Jungle is the sequel to Colony, that big Sci-Fi Epic I released a few years ago that was a smash hit. Jungle is currently in Alpha, and moving along at a steady clip. I’m still working on having this one out by the end of summer/early fall. Which means in the coming weeks I need to start working on the cover while the first cycle of Alpha readers finish making their way through it.

I can already tell it’s going to be good. I’m getting Alpha read notifications at four and five AM, and the tension of readers as they make their way through the chapters is ratcheting up (I know this because I get comments). So far it’s looking pretty good.

However, I do want to widen the pool a bit. So I’m opening up a second Alpha call for Jungle. I’m looking for a few more Alpha readers willing to run through it in its current state and take a look.

Alpha Reading, though. Not Beta. For those of you not familiar with the editing process, Alpha Reading is not concerned with typos or the like. Alpha Reading is about the big things. Does the plot make sense? Did this chapter drag? Was this chapter exciting? What are predictions for the upcoming chapters? Was this concept adequately explained or was it confusing?

Beta, which comes later, is all about the typos and whatnot. Because there’s no sense in fixing them if the “fix” is in a section that may be rewritten.

But Jungle is still very much in Alpha right now.  Chapters are still open to being modified extensively, even with whole sections rewritten if needed (though that hasn’t happened yet; at most there’s just some trimming and small rewrites).

So, if you’re interested in playing a part in the Alpha of Jungle, leave a comment or contact me through the usual channels. The most headlong of the current Alpha readers is about halfway through, so you’d probably be able to catch up.

Commitment warning: The current draft of Jungle is about 456,000 words. Yes, that is gargantuan. Even longer than Colony (there’s a reason for it, I swear). So yes, it is a significant time investment. On the other hand, you will get to read the whole work before it ever comes out (please don’t spoil it for those who are waiting eagerly for the release) and be able to offer feedback that can help polish that final release.

So again, if you’re interested, fire me a line via the usual methods. If you’re new, I’ll set you up with a few chapters to cut your teeth on, and if you’re a returning Alpha Reader from before who now has the time, welcome back!

Now, that’s it for Jungle news. Well, almost. Just let me express how awesome this story is. I don’t want to spoil anything but if you enjoyed Colony you’re going to love this, and be taken for a surprising ride as well.

I’m not going to say anymore than that. Now. on to Hunter/Hunted.

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A Multitude of Various Updates

Hey readers!

I know. Content has been light the last few weeks. Thankfully enough, that’s about to change, starting with today!

First, I can’t tell you how good it feels to be writing again, even if I’m only at the moment doing about 1,500 words a day. Which all things considered is pretty good. But doing more than that makes me pretty sore. And it might get cut down slightly now that I’ve started physical therapy, which has given me a rash of exercises to do that, well, if you’re familiar with how physical therapy works, they wear the recovering area out.

But I’m doing my best to bring things back up to speed. Things may be a little shorter than normal for a while, but I’m trying. But today I’ve got some updates for you on how Unusual Things will be coming back on track. Upcoming features, current projects, etc. And then at the end of it all, a Being a Better Writer topic call! It’s been a while since I’ve done one of those!


So, first and foremost, the current editing project: Hunter/HuntedHunter/Hunted is currently in the Alpha, and has been distributed to several Alpha Readers, and now I’m just waiting for them to work their way through. Once that’s done, we can move to beta, and once that’s done? Well, the usual. Out to the public with it! Or at least, the side of the public that’s made up of my old guard fans.

At this point, though, it’s up to the Alpha readers to go through it. I’m excited to let this one out into the wild, but not until it’s ready to survive and thrive.

Which reminds me, I gotta find a new artist for the cover.

Now, onto more news!


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The Good News!

Four items of news today, folks! All of it good!

You know that old saying “No news is good news?” Well, I have been a little quiet over the last few weeks.

In fact, the area where I’ve been the most quiet is my Current Projects page, simply because a few months ago I forgot to update it for a few days and lost count of where I was on Hunter/Hunted. As in, I lost track of my word-count, which was my process for updating everyone.

Well, I haven’t gone through and added up a word count of each chapter. I mean, I could … but it was the holidays, etc etc. So I just went with “No news is good news” and kept writing.

And now? I can give you the good news. The Dusk Guard Saga: Hunter/Hunted has only four chapters left, counting the one I’m working on right now. Five, maybe, if something unexpected catches me by surprise.

Yeah, we’re talking next week.

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