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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Review Blurbs

So, random thought for today, but have you ever considered how differently review-blurbs are treated for books than they are for any other medium?

You might never have thought of this one, but let me give you an example. I just finished yesterday Wrath of Empire by Brian McClellan, which is a great book. I enjoyed it quite a bit and lost some sleep to finishing it. But there was something I couldn’t help but notice. Displayed on the cover is a blurb from Brandon Sanderson that says “Just plain awesome.” in large, bold letters. Brandon’s name is also large and bold. But under that, in much, much smaller print?

“On Promise of Blood.” Which is the first book this author wrote, which came out in 2013.

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A News Post

Whoa! Things have really piled up lately. Between writing, my part-time job (with extra hours), running the end of a DnD campaign, keeping up with exercise, and well, life being what life tends to be, things have gotten crazy levels of tight lately! There’s a lot that’s been going on! Not all of it newsworthy, but some that is. Which means it’s time for … NEWS POST.


Patreon first! Never fear Patreon Supporters, I haven’t forgotten you. September’s post just ended up late because I spent the weekend a bit under the weather and decided to spend what brainpower and time I had trying to finish a chapter in Hunter/Hunted. Monday was another Being a Better Writer post and more work, Tuesday was  work all day, and then today … Well, finally today this month’s Patreon Supporter Reward went up! And this month, it’s a preview of A Game of Stakes, The first straight Romance (Fantasy Romance, to be specific) story I’ve ever written. Supporters get to see the first third of it. There will probably be a teaser for the rest of the site in the coming months, but for now, this is the only way to get an early look save being an Alpha Reader!


Okay, next bit of news? Sales have picked up a little again. They’re not quite back to “pre-cliff falling” levels, but they are still there, especially on the Kindle Unlimited service. So it looks like a burst sale worked. Oh, and all three titles on sale sold well during said sale. Colony again dominated everything else though. As many copies as that book has sold, Jungle I think will be the only book I release for a while capable of challenging it.

Thankfully, with sales also come more reviews. Or, at least, ratings on Goodreads, which seems to be a much bigger driver now that Amazon has restricted reviews to those who purchase more than $50 of goods through them per year. The sale saw a few new ones crop up, as have the last few weeks. If you’ve ever poked your head over to Goodreads, head on over and take a look! Maybe leave a rating of your own, or check out some reviews!


Last but not least, update news. Hunter/Hunted is still moving along. I’m nearing the end of part 2 of 3. If October goes well, it’ll be done by the end. Maybe mid-November if things run late. Which means I can then get started on the next book project (a submission for an established universe) and then get to work on Fireteam Freelance and editing for Jungle! The end of this year will be busy!

Okay, a little bit on Fireteam Freelance, since I’ve mentioned it before, and it’s listed on my current projects page as “upcoming.” Fireteam Freelance is going to be something unique: An episodic story that is posted here on this site, chapter by chapter as it’s written (and in time with the editing of Jungle). That’s right, the entire Alpha will go up for free here on the site. As an early Alpha. So anyone will be able to read it.

What’s it about? Well, all I’ll say at this point is that it’s set in the same universe as Colony and Jungle, but follows a different cast of characters. Oh, and it’s set on Earth. Directly and very clearly. Details are still being worked out, but if you were one of those readers who expressed disappointment that Colony left future-Earth for an alien world, this story is definitely one you’ll want to check out.

And since the Alpha will be going up chapter by chapter on this very site for all to read, you’ll be able to with ease.

Yes, the book will still get an editing run and for-purchase release. The Alpha chapters will stay up but be clearly marked as such. This is kind of an experiment, an idea I had a while ago that I think is worth playing with.


Granted, ALL of this might be delayed by a few months if that established-universe-thing-I’m-not-being-too-specific-about-yet gets picked up. I’ll have to swiftly flip some plans and push things back in that case, but it will be for a darn good reason. But … we’ll see how that goes.

Anyway, that’s the news for today, unless you’re interesting in fanfic news (in which case, check that blog). With that, I need to get to work!