A Weekly News Post

Hey, they can’t all be clever titles.

So, a few updates since last week. First and foremost, work on the new Jacob Rocke book trundles on. It’s about a third or so of the way done. This one will be longer than his first outing, but still not as long as Dead Silver, I think. It’s a smaller story, really. However, that means it gets written quicker, and editing (later this year, lets not get too far ahead of ourselves) will be quicker as well.

Anyway, progress continues there. Am I willing to drop any hints at this juncture? Well, let’s just say that a lot of my online advertisements lately have been all about colleges. While you all puzzle on that, let’s move to the next bit of news to talk about which is—


A sale! But not on any of my books. No, not yet (February is coming, more on that below). No, this sale is for a game. A few long-time readers of this site may recall my post of admiration for one Subnautica a few years back. Well, it’s only become a better game since then as the developers have continued to polish it and work to bring it to feature parity with its stand-alone expansion, Below Zero.

Oh, and it’s on sale right now. Along with that stand-alone expansion right now. Through January 30th.

Yeah, I know. I’m supposed to be encouraging you people to spend money on my books. But Subnautica is just fantastic. Besides, I’ll be doing plenty of encouragement for purchasing my stuff at LTUE.


Which is coming soon people! We’re not in February yet, but I myself am in the prep stages. Yesterday I placed my order for a new array of paperback books to be sold at the LTUE vendor hall. A larger number than last year, since everything last year sold out so fast. I’m not joking about that by the way: Every copy of Shadow of an Empire was gone before noon on the first day. I’ve increased the number of books that’ll be on hand this year, but given last year’s sales … that might just mean they sell out by day two.

I’ve still got some other prep work to do in order to be ready for LTUE, however. I need new standees for the signing since Starforge is out, and this year I’m planning on doing some nice prints of a few book covers to raffle off. I’m thinking “one entry for coming by the booth, five for showing proof of purchase of said book.” Which naturally would include brandishing said book.

So yeah, if you’d like a nice matte printing of the covers to Axtara or Shadow of an Empire, maybe even Starforge, be sure to come by the signing booth at this year’s LTUE!


And well … that’s pretty much it. Almost. Sales keep on trucking toward that 10,000 number, but I think the make-or-break moment really will be this year’s LTUE. At the current rate, sales won’t quite reach 10,000 by February’s end if they stay consistent … but they always shoot up during LTUE. So … it’s down to the wire, really.

On a related note, I should figure something out to celebrate the tenth anniversary of both becoming a published author and One Drink‘s publication. One more thing to add to the pile, I suppose.

Anyway, that’s the news. I’m going to get back to work on Rocke’s next adventure! Max, signing off!

Clues Under a Couch – A Weekly News Update

Hey folks! Max here with a weekly update post. There’s not going to be anything Earth-shattering or lifechanging in this post (at least I don’t think so), but if you’re wondering what I’ve been up to and what’s going on, this is the post to check out.

So, with absolutely zero ado, here’s what’s going on.


First up, how’s progress on the new Jacob Rocke book going?

Well. It’s going well. The current draft is sitting at about 22,000 words, and the mystery has taken shape. At a guess I’d hazard this winding up around 60,000-80,000 words long, which isn’t bad. It’s about the size and shape I’d want from a new Jacob Rocke adventure.

So what’s this one about? Well, Rocke’s back on the East Coast of the US this time, having just dealt with another haunted hospital room, when he gets a call from the NSAU. It seems a college student at a nearby university was reporting missing that morning, but the local police force balked the moment they were told she was an unusual, and has claimed the case is out of their jurisdiction. Being the closest agent, Rocke is assigned to the case, and while elements of actual unusual involvement are dubious at best, he’s going to do his job and see if he can’t track the missing student down, especially as the days pass and she remains missing.

So yeah, I’ll probably have that polished off by sometime next month. Which leads me to February, which is a natural segue into—

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Forward and Back – A Look Ahead at 2023, and at the Accomplishments of 2022

Wow. 2022 was a year.

No, not in the way 2020 was. In fact, I mean that in the best possible sense. 2022 was, by almost every metric available to me, a standout year. Sales were up overall despite a few slump months, with books such as Axtara – Banking and Finance finding success in almost double the number of markets as any of my other closest books, and then Starforge smashing its way to victory in the final months of the year. Site hits were up—in fact, the site saw more traffic, interaction, and the like in 2022 than it ever has. That’s including two prior years in which a single post in each year went a bit viral and accounted for a good majority of all traffic.

Yes, that’s right. Without having a post go “viral” and score thousands upon thousands of hits, Unusual Things still saw more visitors, readers, and regular reads than in any prior year in 2022. And, while it’s still only week two of 2023, the current level of site traffic isn’t just holding steady … It’s growing. December of 2022 had more hits than November of 2022, which had more hits than … well, you get the idea.

And this introduction has already gotten away from me. Welcome, readers and writers, to a post-2022 news post, and a look ahead at what’s to come in 2023. We’re going to talk about what went on in 2022, what the impact was of the lone book release (but it was a big one), and then we’re going to discuss what’s in the pipe for this year.

And folks, I’ve got a good feeling about what’s to come. Hit the jump!

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My Christmas Break is About to Begin

Hey folks! Max here with a heads-up. I’m about to start my Christmas Vacation. Or Christmas Break. I like to think of it as a break because I take a break from writing and running the site for a while. Usually I try to pick one game from my backlog and power through it, but this year I’ve spent the last two or so months working my way through BattleTech and I’m still not done yet (and still having fun) so that might be this year’s contender.

Granted, I’ll also be spending about a week or so of my Christmas Break to visit family, chiefly one of my nephews. So that’s definitely going to be a good chunk of my holiday time.

And who knows? With the ability to just do whatever I feel like for each and every day, I might actually break the bad sleep habits I got into this year working on Starforge!

Speaking of Starforge, some of you have to be nearing the end by now. Those of you that are quick readers, at least, and may have made a few “sacrifices” of time to be able to power through all 1,900 or so pages in the two weeks it’s been out.

What’s the reaction so far? Are the reveals everything you’d hoped? Or are they even more? Have you found yourself caught off-guard or by surprise by a sudden revelation yet? How is it to see both the All and our mysterious drones from the first book now showing off all their capabilities?

Soo, once the new year starts, I will be writing up a full “It’s finally done” sort of post to talk about the trilogy. Now that the ending is out in the open, and everything that the last—for me—eight years have worked toward is complete, and I definitely do want to close out this fantastic journey that you’ve all been part of with some final thoughts.

But that’ll be after the New Year and my break is over. In the meantime, that gives those of you that are journeying through Starforge a few more weeks to finish it off without worrying about any spoilers that will be in that wrap-up post … Because inevitably, there are going to be serious spoilers.

It’s an Epic Sci-Fi Trilogy of 1.3 million words. It’s hard to discuss it without bringing up spoilers.

But that’s for after New Years. Between then and now, I do plan to drop a few more posts just so the site isn’t content-starved for the next two weeks. Monday, for example, I’ll have a pre-schedule post going up. It won’t be a new Being a Better Writer, but one of those “classic” compilations featuring prior posts. There won’t be a Being a Better Writer the week after, but then that’s going to be the day after Christmas, so if you’re looking for site content you’ll just have wait for a little bit. Though I’ll applaud you for looking for content so thoroughly.

After that it’ll be the New Year, and things will move back into their schedule.

For now though, I’ll be sure to drop an official post when my Christmas Break does begin, just to wish everyone a big ol’ Merry Christmas, but for now I’ll say it here and get this stuff setup for the next few weeks, as well as do a little more work on that next book.

Merry Christmas everyone. May it be full of peace and joy.

One Week of Starforge!

Well, it’s been a week. How are you folks finding Starforge?

This is, I think, the challenge with writing books of a truly staggering size. The book might release on a certain day, but when it contains nearly four-times the adventure of what would already be considered a fairly large book, one has to account for the fact that no matter how gripping it winds up being, it’s still going to take even the quickest, most efficient reader four times as long to get through it. It’s a basic function of the math. If a three-hundred page book takes a reader a week to get through, than something that weighs in at six times that is going to take, well, six times as long. There’s just an upper limit on how quickly someone can process words, and adding more words means it’s going to take more time.

That said, if we go off of sales alone, Starforge looks like it’s a colossal success, already having blown past first-month sales for most of my books in just a week and continuing to sell. And drawn in quite a few new readers as well, with sales of the entire trilogy topping my sales charts for the last week.

But with all that going on, now that we’re a week in … how are most of you finding it? Where’s everyone at? Have you made it to the end of part two? Part three? Are some of you already closing in on the final chapters? Who’s been your favorite viewpoint character this time around?

I hope it’s been everything you were waiting for.

Oh, and if you haven’t given the finale of the UNSEC Space Trilogy a look yet, you can find it by clicking the massive image above, get a free preview over at the books tab, or check out the whole trilogy at once at this link.

As for me? I’ve got some … unusual … writing to do. I’ll see you Friday!

Starforge Is Here!

What more is there to say? The finale of the UNSEC Space Trilogy has arrived at last. Those of you who pre-ordered should be getting your copies as midnight ticks over, and those of you who didn’t pre-order … you can just go purchase it now! Click the cover below and experience the end of the journey! You can also click here to read the first five chapters for free before you make up your mind!

The end arrives in this epic conclusion to the UNSEC Space Trilogy!

Mankind stands on the edge of a precipice. The All sweep across colony worlds, consuming everything in their path. Earth has recalled her fleets to Sol, abandoning its charges. Pisces, her independence won, now stands alone as a foe unlike any other threatens from the dark. It is not a question of if the All will attack, but when.

Reunited at last, Jake, Anna, and Sweets again find their skills called upon, this time by the new leadership of Pisces. A desperate plan has been conceived, an all-or-nothing long shot out into the darkness of unexplored space to find a means of reactivating the artificial world beneath their feet. If Pisces’ weapons can be brought online there remains a chance that the relentless force of the All can be stopped before it extinguishes the light of mankind forever.

If. Threats move against them from all sides. The All has set its own plans in motion, determined to finish the work it began so long ago. UNSEC and Earth plot from the shadows, uncompromising under Eidre’s vision of a unified empire with Sol at the center, and willing to do anything to bring Pisces back into the fold—even burn it to ashes.

The Trio’s final journey has begun … and it’s an adventure unlike anything you’ve ever read before.

Reddit AMA Today – Starforge Launches Tomorrow!

Welcome back writers and readers both! If you’re wondering where today’s Being a Better Writer post is, well, there isn’t one. That’s because with Starforge releasing tomorrow and as previously announced, today I’ll be doing a Reddit AMA! Which, if you’re not familiar with the acronym, stands for “Ask Me Anything.”

It’s a public Q&A session. Folks on the site ask questions, I type back responses. Generally about the particular focal point of the individual hosting the AMA, though the name does remain “Ask me anything.”

Why do an AMA? Because Starforge comes out tomorrow! It’s finally almost here! Less than twelve hours to go! And I’ve done an AMA for each release with Colony and Jungle. So the last book in the trilogy should definitely get an AMA of its own.

So, proof. Yes Reddit mods, this is me, Max Florschutz. This is my site, and I am indeed doing a Reddit AMA today. I’m not including a picture because unfortunately I’ve come down with a cold, and I don’t exactly look picturesque at the moment—though some may argue when do I ever.

But this is indeed me.

So, hit up the AMA and get asking questions! I’ll be hanging out there until about 5 PM MST, which is a little shorter than my last AMA, but as noted I’m fighting a cold, so I’m going to take it a little easier today.

Enjoy folks, and I’ll see you at the AMA!

OH! And don’t forget! Today is the last day to get the entire UNSEC Space Trilogy on sale!

Thanksgiving Sale!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you’ve got great plans and make the most of it!

As for me? Well, I just clicked the button to upload the final manuscript for Starforge. Which, in case you weren’t aware, comes out next Tuesday. The 29th of November. We made that release window after all.

Of course, some of you have been waiting for the series to be complete, and for those of you who have—or are just discovering this epic Sci-Fi series for the first time—I’ve got good news! The first two books in the trilogy are on a steep discount this weekend to celebrate the conclusion of the trilogy! You can pick up all three books—over a million words of Sci-Fi adventure—for only $14.97. Click those covers and grab the whole series now.

That’s right. Less than fifteen bucks. This is a fantastic deal. Plus, it’s over the perfect weekend to curl up with a book.

And yes, this is now a complete trilogy. No hidden “fourth book.” No “surprise, we’re going to have another ending.” This. Is. It.

So happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Enjoy, and I’ll see you all Monday for the Reddit AMA.

Starforge: A Literary Trailer


With a sudden bang the weakened airlock door burst outward, slamming into the cutter and knocking the tech over on the tarmac. Someone screamed as something large and armored shot out of the opening, slamming into the other exosuit and driving it into the ground, claws digging deep through the metal.


“You think we’ll make it?”


“Break course!” Anna shouted, her hand snapping to the side of her helmet. “Now!”


“All of us?”


Jake pushed himself back an instant before another tendril slammed point-first into the metal in front of him, the spike at its end punching cleanly through whatever the path was made of.


“I don’t know.”


Anna crashed into the water behind the creatures, spinning and lashing out with her hard-light blades to cut two of them in half. The remaining two, caught between them, died moments later, just before Ngata slammed into the water, tumbling before righting herself and shooting along after them.


“We’ve lost six colony worlds.”


Tentacles, so large that even at a distance Sweets could see them slamming down atop the pathway and wrapping it, utterly annihilating the Sha’o drones.


“Any ideas?”


Micro-missiles swarmed out of the thinning haze, close enough that Jake could make out the individual fins on a few of them as they shot just past and detonated further back. Sand and gravel sprayed over him, sliding down his visor.


Towering walls of water rose miles into the air. Free-floating orbs of ocean the size of mountains, their surfaces sculpted into geometric shapes and lines, linked to the seas below sometimes by thin passageways of water, sometimes not at all.


The marine pounded on ahead, throwing himself into a slide that shrieked of metal-on-metal to pass under the small opening in the door. He kicked himself back up with a single movement, rising to his feet—

And something slammed into the marine from the side, bowling him over and out of sight with a yell.


“Contacts! All vessels!” Comms said, a tone of panic in their voice. “Appear to be fighting unknowns. Total count over one thousand!”


The sky was alight with flames now, some of them, Anna noted, almost uncomfortably near the team’s position. Some of the earlier flames had burned out, leaving long trails of smoke instead that made the horizon look like a painter had slapped a brush covered in charcoal across it.


The tail was whipping back, the razor-edged scythes at the end sweeping through the air. Roen ducked beneath the attack, as did Ngata—only she fired a shot straight up with her phoenix cannon as she did so, the shot slamming into the tail and almost severing it.


“We end this.”


A sickening, metallic squeal rent the air, new alarms flashing across his controls, vying for Sweets’ attention as the Sparrowhawk shot past overhead.


The force of the explosion hit Jake like a wall, blasting him from his feet even as he felt sharp twinges of pain erupt across his front.


Something bit into Anna’s back, slicing through muscle and for a moment feeling as though it touched bone.


“And those who refuse?”

Syrah Eidre stared down at Earth, the planet twisting in the black.

“They made their choice, and will suffer the consequences.”

THE END ARRIVES

NOVEMBER 29TH

PRE-ORDER NOW

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!