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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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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News and Updates!

Hey readers! Guess what? There’s only ONE WEEK left until the Life, The Universe, and Everything writing convention!

Yeah, that’s headline number-one today. As of today, we’ve only got a week left! Are you ready? I’ve been letting my brain boil over my panel topics, as well as making sure I’ve got a working setup to stream myself live. In fact, I’m considering doing a test run over Discord to see how my mic holds up, maybe a sort of live Q&A in place of next week’s Being a Better Writer, just to see how it goes. I’ve got a decent mic and headset, but I could also borrow a better one if needed. And I should have a decent webcam, but again, I could perhaps get a better one working. We’ll see. Look here for further updates. Point is, LTUE is coming and I’m excited! Are you?


Next up, let’s talk about Axtara! So the ebook has been out for over a month now, and the paperback a little over a week. How has everyone been finding it so far?

Spectacular. Okay, that’s my own reaction to the public’s reaction, but I’ve got those too. Reviews have started to roll in from a wide range of sources, and so far they have all loved meeting Axtara and getting to know her and her world. For example, we’ve got this bit from a review from a reader on Goodreads—

… Florschutz hit it out of the park with “Axtara–Banking and Finance.” … Regardless of whether you have a mathematical mind, I would highly recommend “Axtara–Banking and Finance”, and if the author is considering making a sequel, I would definitely look forward to picking it up. 

—or from this review on Amazon—

I’ll admit I was drawn to this book by the cover and the tittle, I mean a dragon banker, how could I not check this out? And this book delivers with laughter and intrigue … everything you could ask from such a book. 10/10.

—or this one—

… I loved it … it does leave it open for a sequel too, and I hope that there is one – or more – eventually!

—or this one—

I’ll give a try on kindle unlimited to most any book with a dragon as the protagonist, but I quite liked this one enough to leave a good review. I was particularly interested in the entrepreneurial elements as Axtara works to establish her bank. Axtara’s focus on reaching break-even point shows the author did their research here, and the business side seems well grounded and interesting. The fantasy setting was a lot of fun seeing how business would work there, and had some interesting hints as to other things yet to be discovered in the world (I’d definitely read a sequel …)

—that all seem pretty certain that they love Axtara and can’t wait to see more! And yes, there will be a sequel. I already knew the basics of the plot before Axtara was even halfway finished, and it’ll come along in due time. There also will be, and has been, more in the same setting (A Game of Stakes, my short in A Dragon and Her Girl, takes place in the same setting but a few decades earlier, while the as-yet-unpublished Trial for a Dragon stars Axtara’s older sibling Ryax).

But that isn’t the only feedback I’ve had from people regarding Axtara either. I’ve got two others I’ll share with you guys, though not in direct quotes. I’ve been told via Facebook by several people that their teenaged (or near it) daughters have been reading Axtara.

The ultimate test, as that is the intended audience. And …?

Well, in the words of one parent, and I quote, “She loves it!” Which has been the response from the other parents that have told me about their kid’s experience. Axtara, it would seem, is indeed a winner!

Oh, but that’s not all. Behold the following picture! It’s beyond the jump, since this post was getting long.

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One Week of Axtara!

Hello readers! Max here with a news post about … Well, what else? Axtara – Banking and Finance of course! It’s been one week since Axtara‘s release … so I thought I’d hop on and share with all of you how the book has been doing! As well as drop some other news and then the Axtara background images (yes, at last)!

So, how is Axtara – Banking and Finance performing right now? What’s the reception by the general public? Well … it’s great! Axtara beat Jungle for pre-orders and actually ended up matching Shadow of an Empire, and since release has enjoyed strong sales that have continued to accrue. Before launch, it even made it into the top fifty on Amazon in YA Fantasy for Women! And it’s actually stayed fairly high in that category too!

Of course, this has likely been aided by the strong reaction to the book from the general public. In just seven days Axtara picked up six reviews and ratings from the reading public … all of them Five-Star.

That is an excellent start, if I do say so myself. It would seem that many of you love Axtara as much as I’d hoped you would! If you’ve already grabbed your copy, I hope to see your reaction on Goodreads or Amazon, and if you haven’t yet well … think about it! And maybe click that book cover on the right!

Now, I did say I had a little bit of news. It’s related to Axtara and it’s a bit of an “oops” on my part. Some of you may notice that the prices for Jungle and Shadow of an Empire haven’t dropped yet as promised. And well … that’s because I goofed. I went ahead and put everything on the Christmas Sale to coincide with the Axtara release … and I’m not supposed to alter prices for 14 days after a sale has ended. Whoops. So for now, Jungle and Shadow of an Empire will stay at their current price … but only until that period has elapsed, at which point they’ll drop down to their tail prices. Shadow to its final price point, Jungle to the first step.

Now, about those backgrounds I promised? I’m going to put it past the jump, but yes, here you are. Each of these images will take you to a 4K, full image of the cover for Axtara – Banking and Finance, one with text, the other without, perfect for gracing the background of your desktop or laptop machine. Enjoy, and then don’t forget to pick up a copy of the book!

Images after the jump, and will also now be linked on the Books page.

Have a happy New Year everyone! And a big thank you to all of you that have picked up and enjoyed Axtara!

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My Thoughts on Terminator: Dark Fate

I was five when I saw Terminator 2: Judgement Day for the first time. Maybe six. Somewhere around there. My dad rented it on a VHS tape and watched it and let me sit there and watch it too.

My mother was horrified, which is a whole ‘nother story that from my perspective is pretty funny.

Anyway, my point is I saw T2 at a very young age and loved it. I mean, why wouldn’t I have loved it? Robots from a future where machines have risen up against man? And one’s a good robot while the other is a more advanced shapeshifting robot made of liquid metal?

Okay, I don’t need to explain to most of you why T2 is both so iconic and so good. Most of you know. And if you don’t, well, it’s really hard to go in blind, but the less you know past “An AI losing a war against mankind in the future sends back a machine to change the past by killing the kid responsible for the victory of the resistance” the better.

So why tell you this? Because I’m always interested in a new Terminator film when it comes out. I like the premise. I like the action. Drop a trailer for a new Terminator film and I’ll likely go see it. Save 3. 3 was … well, there’s a reason I’m not even bothering to italicize the title.

Actually, in fairness the other Terminator sequels haven’t been that great either. Salvation was at least somewhat novel but ultimately didn’t click for me, despite at least being memorable. Genisys was … How to explain this? Oh, I know. I literally forgot that the movie existed after I saw it. It wasn’t until a youtube algorithm spat me a link to a fight from it that I remembered “Oh yeah, this was a thing!”

Amusingly enough, a friend of mine said almost the exact same thing about it last night, noting that he too completely forgot the film existed after seeing it. Compared to T2, well … ouch.

Note: It does have some cool moments that are worth hitting on Youtube. So there is that.

But with all that, I was still excited for Terminator: Dark Fate. And at long last, I finally got to see it. So now, I’m going to tell you what I think about it.

I liked it. A lot.

No, really. I enjoyed the action. I loved Gabriel Luna’s fantastic portrayal of the REV-9, with plenty of very clear callbacks to the iconic Robert Patrick’s role as the T-1000 (if memory serves, Luna even stated in an interview that he underwent some of the same training to achieve the same effect). I enjoyed seeing Linda Hamilton again, and even if some of her lines were a little over the top I felt it worked as she’s clearly someone who’s still not over the … well, that’s a massive spoiler alert, so heads up, we’re going deep into spoiler territory here. If you want to avoid spoilers, well … stop reading here. And know that I enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s not T2, but it at least deserves a place on my shelf alongside it.

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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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