Starforge Preview

Hello readers! I’m out and about away from my desk right now (unless something has really gone wrong), but that doesn’t mean the posts—or the rewards—will stop! Especially when celebrating something like Colony hitting fifty reviews on Amazon.

In celebration of that fact, last weekend Colony was free for all. I hope you got a copy while you could if you hadn’t yet, but if you missed it, well … Better luck next time, I suppose.

In the meantime, those readers that have already blitzed through Colony and Jungle and then didn’t see much reward from Colony going free outside of recommending it to those they know and welcoming them to the universe, so I wanted to do something a little special.

Which is where this post comes in. This is the complete, unedited (as the book is still in editing) prologue chapter for Starforge. Yes, that’s right, the entire opening chapter.

It’s big. It’s action-packed. And it’s right here, right now.

Obviously before we get to the link, I do need to issue some warnings. If you have NOT read Colony and Jungle, be advised that this post will contain massive spoilers. Yes, I’m dragging out bold and italics for that.

Again, huge SPOILER WARNING past the jump. Starforge‘s prologue builds off of several big twists and reveals from the prior books. Once you go past that jump, all bets are off. If you have not read Colony and Jungle, be warned that you’re spoiling some big reveals that you otherwise would have discovered on your own. Again, SPOILER WARNING. If needed, bookmark this and then come back to it after reading the rest of the trilogy.

For the rest of you? Hit that jump, and enjoy your first taste of Starforge.

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Pre-Weekend News and Updates

Hello readers! Max here with a news post. Just keeping you abreast of everything that’s going on.

First, let’s talk about Starforge and how the Alpha 1 is going. The foremost of the current readers is nearing the 75% mark, with the other Alpha Readers behind that in varying locations. In fairness, I did point out what a large book this is.

Now, I have a second bit of news that ties into this. It appears that sometime in May—likely early, but that’s still up in the air—I will be heading back to my hometown of Alaska for a few weeks. This means that I’m going to queue up a bunch of posts for the site, yes, but it also means that for those in the current Alpha Read for Starforge, you will have several weeks to gain a substantial lead on me, or even finish the book.

Alternatively, you can take a weekend or two now and blow through it before May is upon us, and I might be able to make enough edits to start the second Alpha before I go.

Either way, those in the current Alpha are about to be able to get a good lead on me.

So yes, both those bits of news overlap. I’d like to finish the first Alpha before heading out and set up the second, because that would allow the second pass Alpha team to get a lot of reading in before I started making changes, but we’ll see what happens. It kind of comes down to how soon I can start the second editing pass from the first Alpha.

Again entwined with this, there will being Being a Better Writer posts while I’m gone. I’ll queue them up here as I do when I’m out, and write them in advance, as well as the occasional thinking piece on one thing or another.

Furthermore related, don’t forget that if there’s a writing topic you want to know about, you should be letting it be known in the post calling for topics. I’m going to be putting Topic List #20 together next week, so comment now!


Now, in other news, Patreon Supporters may note that I also uploaded another reward sneak-peek earlier this week. A Power in Ink is another short (though I’m giving the definition of “short” a real workout) for the Troubadours and Space Princesses anthology submissions, and while I do need to chop about 800 words from it, it turned out pretty good. If you’re a Patreon Supporter (or on the Discord), give it a look and leave a comment!

Which leads me to another quick note: I’ll likely be compiling another book of short stories sometime this summer while editing Starforge, because I have enough shorts now to certainly do so. Maybe. Shorts are usually something I play with as side projects, experiments, or goofy little ideas, but I do have a decent pile of them now, some of which you supporters have seen.

Either way, we’re looking at a More Unusual Events collection sometime in the next year.


Other than that … that’s the news! Have a great weekend everyone, and do some reading!

Changes and Delays for Starforge – Weekly Update – April Fools

I don’t think anyone got past the first paragraph of changes without realizing this, but just in case you’re coming in late or didn’t catch the date, this was an April Fools post. Starforge is on track and looking more awesome with every day!

But you can still enjoy our fake list of changes below. No joke, some of these are changes people really would like to see!

Hey guys! Max here with a weekly news post, and buckle up, because we’ve got some big updates to talk about.

I’ll cut right to the chase and discuss the biggest one by far: It’s become clear by now from the Alpha Reader response that Starforge needs a rewrite. A big one. I know this will push it back at least a year, as large as the book is, but it’ll be worth it in the end to deliver the product everyone’s hoping for. In addition, the rewrite probably won’t take as long since we’re going to be cutting a few of the plotlines that really weren’t resonating with people.

I know. This is a blow. But it really is about delivering the best possible book, one that will sell and resonate with the largest number of readers. To that end, some changes have to be made. But I’m confident that the extra wait will be worth it.


So what changes are we making? Well, enough of the book is changing that a few updates here won’t spoil anything. But they are pretty hefty changes, mostly so we can bring Starforge in line with what the modern Sci-Fi reader wants.

For start, we’re dumping the whole “All” plotline. And all that stuff with the drones. Sci-Fi readers these days don’t want Sci-Fi elements like that. We’re still working on the replacement, but we’re looking at a lot of popular, award winning Sci-Fi from the last few years for inspiration and retooling the plot accordingly. While we can’t give away any details (that’d be spoilers), rest assured it will involve lots of people standing around and talking with pseudoscientific-sounding jargon that pretends to be social science but is really just thinly-veiled soapboxing.

Secondly, we’ll be taking some of the advice we’ve gotten over the years to heart and dumping the character of Jake entirely. There’s just nothing for a character of his “background” to contribute to things, and having him “contribute” before was just insulting to all other characters.

Third—and this is the most substantial change—we’re going to work Isekai into it somehow. We’re not sure how, but that’s what the audience wants these days. Jake’s replacement will probably be tailored to make this process smoother. Maybe something involving VR.

And fourth, Eidre is no longer a villain. Starforge will now be about how she’s right, and exploring a romantic relationship between her and Anna. That’s right, we’re finally going all-in on the romance! We know this is a bit of a shift, but the demands for space lesbians are insistent (as well as quite violent, and we’re frankly tired of all the threats), so we’re moving ahead with this. We’re also going to be retooling Anna’s backstory to include as much trauma as possible, and downplaying her more active, independent character traits to make the romance more believable, and amplify the eroticism (we’re going to try to appeal to as many fetishes as possible, so if we do bring aliens back, expect centaurs).

We know this is a big change, and probably means Starforge won’t be launching in 2022 as a result, but for Starforge to be the best book that it can be (as well as one that will sell the most copies to the current Sci-Fi climate). If this news is a bit disappointing, we remind you that at the end of the day writing is a business, and if Starforge isn’t selling the largest, most vocal audience exactly what they demand, there’s no point in releasing it.

Again, this news may be disappointing to you, but at the end of the day Starforge needs to pay the bills. Have a great April 1st, and we’ll see you all on Monday.

We’re Picking Up a Weak Signal …

Hey folks! Sorry for my effective absence this week. That frog in my throat I mentioned Monday has been determined to avoid eviction, and has tenaciously clung to my vocal cords in the way a politician clings to money. I have almost all my pitches back, and in truth yesterday felt like I did when this whole mess started last Friday. Now it’s Friday again, and outside of some gunk and my voice sounding a little off I still have that frog clinging to me.

It’s worse at night though. Laying down seems to shift where everything goes, and then I cough, and … well, I’ve had a few rough nights this week.

Long way of saying that I’m sorry there hasn’t been any other content this week other than Being a Better Writer and this little news post here. I’ve just been either fighting this frog or working on Starforge.

Yes, despite being sick, I went back to working on Starforge as soon as I felt up to it. And I’m making good progress. I’m just about done with edits on the first quarter, though I’ll likely make a second pass even before going into Alpha 2.

But hey, progress is good! Starforge draws closer with each chapter scoured!

But speaking of Alphas, there’s actually one other project that’s ready for an Alpha. The Minstrel and the Marshal, my entry for this year’s LTUE Anthology collection, is ready for Alpha Reading! It’s a short, only 17,000 words, and set in a new setting none of you have seen. If you’ve got some time this weekend and would like to take a look, let me know here on on the Discord channel, because I would like to get some other eyes on it before it’s submission deadline at the end of the month.

And uh … Yeah, that’s it. Sorry folks, it’s just been one of those slow weeks (thanks, frog). Monday I’ll have another Being a Better Writer post for you all, and maybe we’ll look at doing another live Q&A in the coming weeks as well, just to shake things up.

I’m going to get back to editing now and another notice of eviction for this dumb frog. Have a great weekend all!

Milestones and Other News

Well, this week has been full of interesting. Interesting in a way that brings to mind that common curse (thought as I understand it, it is neither ancient, nor Chinese) “may you live in interesting times.”

I’m not just speaking of my own experiences here. The war in Ukraine continues to be a constant source of “interesting” as the world rightfully dogpiles on Russia for invading its neighbor in a naked power grab. The longer things go on, the more insane Russia looks, from their claims to their actions. Last night they shelled a nuclear power plant, briefly setting it on fire.

These are not the actions of sane people. You don’t shell a nuclear power plant in an area you’re trying to conquer. That’s supervillain 101. Russia is proving more inept than comic book villains right now, but with very real consequences to their nation’s actions.

Here’s hoping Kyiv is the stone their entire military trips over and can’t recover from.

Yeah, sorry to start off with such a dour topic, but that’s sort of the state of things these days on the international stage.


Thankfully, not everything making the news is terrible these days. Have you heard about Sanderson’s Kickstarter success?

Well, I have. Repeatedly. Constantly. So yes, I have heard about it, you can stop messaging me everywhere about it. It is cool, but I heard about it the first day.

Now, those of you that haven’t might be wondering what’s going on. Well, what’s going on is that today (literally), Brandon Sanderson has made publishing history. But you probably wanted a little more background than that.

So earlier this week, Brandon released a video saying that he’d “lied” to all his fans. A lie of omission as it turns out, but during 2020, when the world was in lockdown, Brandon found that all of his public appearances at cons and whatnot were now canceled and he had a lot more time to write. Based off his graph of time spent, I’d guess it was “like the old days” before he was a megastar. But the “lie” was that he kept quiet about this and pretended to be writing books at his “star level” pace.

At least, until this big unveiling that with that extra time no longer spent traveling (roughly a third of his workdays a year, IIRC) now spent writing, he’d written four books that no one knew about. And he was going to be publishing them through his own imprint (Dragonsteel Books) with a kickstarter campaign to finance the publication and gauge interest.

As I said above, we are now two days into this kickstarter, and it is the most successful kickstarter of all time.

Now on the one hand a lot of this isn’t surprising. Megastar author announces kickstarter, gets money. But there’s a bit more to it than that. Because this is Sanderson’s imprint. This isn’t like when when a major studio or publisher hops on Kickstarter just because they can.

This is Sanderson’s own imprint. In other words … this is indie.

That’s right. Four indie books, from one of the biggest authors in the world, who would have publishers promising their first and second-born children for a chance to publish his stuff, and they broke the all-time kickstarter record in less than two days.

Sometimes when discussing history, people talk about turning points. In the world of book publishing, this, I think, will be one of them. The Martian scoring a movie deal and becoming an international sensation despite not having major trad-pub backing was one. The meteoric success of Brandon’s kickstarter? I think this will count as another. Years from now, when moldy historians are discussing the moments when “indie” books finally became accepted the way indie games, music, and movies are, they’re going to point to this moment as one of those moments.

And there’s still a whole month to go.

If you want to check the kickstarter out (and maybe be a part of publishing history) you can check it out here.

But either way, this is a major success, both for Brandon as an author and for publishing as a whole.

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News and the Usual Updates: Starforge, New Projects, Etc

Hey readers.

I acknowledge that there’s a bit of a pallor cast over the day for most people. Russia’s long-hinted at invasion of Ukraine is … Well, there’s no way to sugar-coat it. Unwelcome feels like too polite a word for things. Over there. I actually do have friends in Ukraine who’ve been watching things shift and slide, and so this latest development … All I can say is that I hope they’re okay.

As far as what Putin hopes to achieve with this naked aggression, I can only say that those who aspire to power will constantly crave it in any form they can find, and when that power starts to erode, desperate, foolish grabs become more and more appealing. Foolish grabs like starting a new war in Europe.

Anyway, I’m not deeply read-in on a lot of what’s currently going on over there, and furthermore with all the misinformation around the invasion it’s currently difficult to say what’s happening in the moment (side note: to all those uploading fake videos on youtube, twitter, and other sources to try and score internet karma off this war, you people are sick sick sick and I hope real karma catches you for it), it’s definitely clear that Russian armored forces and paratroopers are in the country and seizing territory.

Either way, I pray things conclude quickly and in the manner that’s best for the Ukrainian people and government (which, if you’re not clear, would mean Russia pulling out, just so there’s no misconception here).


With all this going on, it seems almost strange to suddenly kick back to “what I’m working on right now” but at the same time, I’m reminded of something Howard Tayler said while working on Schlock Mercenary after 9/11, which I’m definitely pulling from memory here, but was something along the lines of not letting the mire overwhelm and giving people something that could make them smile and laugh.

While don’t do comedy (at least, not nearly to the masterful level of Howard), I think there is wisdom in that idea. So yeah, update time. The world can’t stop, and all of us probably need something to take our minds off of what’s happening in eastern Europe.

So what’s the first big update? Starforge! A number of Alpha Readers are almost a quarter of the way through, and with that progress made, I plan to start making edits and changes to the material they’ve covered starting next Monday. Or possibly Tuesday, depending on how the short I’m working on now looks. I may do both for a few days, just so I don’t catch up to the Alphas that quickly.

Why wait? Why not immediately respond? Well first, I can edit faster than they can read. Second, I wanted to gain a larger consensus on a few things in the early chapters (and there’s still one Alpha Reader whose feedback I’m waiting for). And third, I didn’t want to be making daily changes in the moment until I’d had some time to think on what needs to change.

Because there are changes that need to be made. There are signs that I was pretty stressed when I wrote this. Already I can think of a very specific chapter that needs to be sanded, smoothed, and in general improved. A few minor inconsistencies—usually with characters repeating info—have been noted. In general there are just some minor issues that need to be fixed, but it’s sometimes helpful to mull on those fixes so that the solution is something refined, and not just immediately move to shore something up.

Anyway, Starforge Alpha edits for the first Alpha will start next week, so Alpha Readers, you have until then to get as much of a lead on me as possible. It’s likely I’ll go through the end of Part One, which most of you are close to anyway (and those who are not, now you know what to aim for).

Now, this isn’t all, so hit the jump, and we’ll talk about a few more bits, bobs, and updaves.

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Starforge Alpha Call!

All right folks. This is it.

“Old guard” Alpha Readers have had access to Starforge‘s Alpha since Monday. Feedback is already coming in, which is awesome. Also it’s pretty positive feedback, not that I’m saying there aren’t changes to make—there are. Just small ones, thankfully, so far. No big plot holes yet.

Anyway, with the Old Guard already moving along, the time has come to open the doors a little bit, and extend a more open Alpha Call to those who are interested in experiencing such and helping with the Starforge Alpha Read.

Now, before you think “Aha! Free book!” or something similar, that’s not what an Alpha Read is. Though yes, you do get to read a title before it comes out, the point of Alpha Reading isn’t just to read it. The point is to perform an Alpha Reading. It’s an editing step with the aim of cutting out ambiguity, plot holes, checking to make sure the audience understands character motivations, etc etc. It’s not for typos or other small errors (those get cleaned in a Beta Read).

Nor is it “this author is asking me how I would write the book if I were going to write it, time to change the protagonists and plotline” (and if that seems hyperbolic to you, I’ve had multiple prospective Alpha Readers do exactly that). That’s not what Alpha Reading is. Alpha Reading is reading each chapter in succession, like one would the final product, and leaving comments like “This paragraph didn’t make sense to me. Who was speaking?” or “Hey, doesn’t this conflict with what was said earlier here?” or, at the end of a chapter, a summary of what worked, what didn’t, or both.

It’s a structural commentary, in other words. What’s working, and what isn’t? That way, I can go back and polish, tweak, and alter things until such concerns evaporate.

So, if you’d like to get an early look at Starforge by participating in this process, if the idea of being able to say to an author “Hey, I didn’t understand this bit based on the wording, can you change that?” sounds like something you’d wished you could do before … Well, now’s your chance. Leave a comment (the system requires contact info I can see, allowing me to contact you) and volunteer! I’ll set you up with a trial of the first few chapters (some quickly realize that Alpha isn’t for them) and if the experience is enjoyable, the rest of the chapters.

If you’re curious but currently busy, this will be the first of two Alphas. So there’s a chance at a future Alpha as well, and you can wait for the second round.

Anyway, leave a comment if you’re interested!

A Week for Good News: Alpha Reading Starforge, New Store Fronts, and More!

So this will make everyone chuckle a bit, I think. This week has been awesome. This News Post? Packed with cool stuff I’m about to inform you about. Save one minor quibble in why you’re hearing about it now, on a Thursday afternoon, possibly with questionable grammar.

Why questionable grammar? Well … the one low point of this week has been a nasty cold I was fighting off Monday which has since blossomed to consume my days. And don’t worry, I’m starting with this as both a “bad news first” sort of thing and an explanation for where I’ve been. The answer is “sick.”

Not COVID, thankfully. Just a nasty cold that’s left me rolling through tissues, achy, tired, and suffering from several days of constant headache. Good news though: Last night I slept until 2 PM, and as a result I’m feeling much better. I’m still fatigued, but the headache is gone and I’m seeing signs that all the crud is losing the battle. Huzzah! But this does mean this week was kind of a sick week (during which I pretty much slept).


Which is kind of a shame as so much awesome happened this week. I’ll start with the big one. The following link is to an item now listed for sale at Wal-Mart, so get ready. Here it is. Click it, and you’ll notice something that’s very big.

Yeah, that’s Axtara – Banking and Finance. Selling at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is now carrying Axtara. Want a copy? You can go get it at Wal-Mart.

This? This is awesome. Yes, Axtara is available at other bookstores, but Wal-Mart is a pretty big market. The fact that they’re carrying Axtara? AWESOME.

This could be why sales this week seem to have picked up from last week (another bit of good news). Wal-Mart is a big market. A lot of eyeballs roll through there. Their stocking Axtara is another milestone for me and a huge moment to be celebrated.

So, if you haven’t picked up a copy of Axtara yet, you’ve got a new option now. You can order it at Wal-Mart and pick it up with your groceries.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Axtara continues to soar.

There’s more cool news, so hit the jump!

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Get Ready, Alpha Readers!

So today’s post is a little late. Can you guess why? It’s not much a guess, nor is it a trick question. If your answer was “Starforge” in any way, you’re right.

More specifically, it’s because this finale is lit. We’re talking full-speed, barely stop to breath awesome that is … let me check … over two-hundred pages long.

Oh don’t worry. That’s not bland “blow for blow” recitation. There is stuff happening here. This is awesome. Awesome enough that it’s kind of hard to pull myself away from it sometimes.

But not hard enough that I couldn’t duck over to make this post. Which is basically an overblown news post concerning two things, one obvious, one not. Well, three actually.

First things first, then: LTUE 2022 nears with each passing day! I just got notification that my books for the con bookstore have shipped and are on their way, which tells us all how near the event itself is. Next week I’ll do a full post of my panel schedule, as well as other panels I plan on attending, along with some other details for the convention for those that are going.

Hit the jump for the rest of the news, about both this Monday’s upcoming Being a Better Writer and the Starforge Alpha!

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Starforge News, LTUE News, Updates, and Reminders, Plus an Anthology Submission Call!

All right folks, gather round for the quick mid-week update on all things Unusual and extraneous! Starting off with some Starforge updates!

Last night I polished off the Pre-Alpha reading/editing of the final chapter of part three of Starforge. Weighing in at just 26,600 words, it was quite the ride. But the Pre-Alpha is now through part three!

“That’s it, right?” some of you may be asking. “Colony had three parts. Jungle had three parts. When is this finale hitting the Alpha Readers? Are you making an Alpha call yet?”

We’re close, but not there yet. Because you see, readers, Starforge has four parts. Surprise! Though some of you might have guessed that based on the length of the finale when the draft was completed last year.

Yeah, this is a big one. After all, it’s got everything from Colony and Jungle to wrap up, and as readers of those novels know, this is not a small universe. It’s a big one with some very terrifying threats.

However, with a few days left in January, will the Starforge pre-Alpha be completed by February? My official answer is “I don’t know. Maybe.” There’s still a quarter of the book to go. But I am making good progress.

Either way, however, it means that the first Alpha is very likely to start in February. Which means … Well, prior Alpha Readers, you know what this means.

Prospective Alpha Readers, those who would like to try being a part of the editing experience: Take notice and keep your eyes open. We’re close.

Oh, and Patreon Supporters, also keep an eye out. Once the Pre-Alpha is done, a few chapters and teasers are going to sneak up onto Patreon as rewards.

Side note: If you’ve been waiting for the trilogy to be complete, and are a slow reader, now is probably the time to start looking at Colony. Give Starforge say … another six months or so to come out, and that’s six months or so to read Colony, Jungle, and if you’ve got extra time, Fireteam Freelance and be ready.


So, that’s it for Starforge news. Now let’s talk about LTUE! I do still have a few updates to offer.

For example, I have asked the LTUE staff about it, and been informed that this year they will not be offering an online component as they did last year. The Discord will remain open, but there will not be an online streaming of panels.

I’ve learned they will also be filming/recording fewer panels this year. As I understand it, a few of their usual dedicated video crew are unable to attend this year (and let’s be honest, look at the last few years, and with a nod note “Yeah, that makes sense”) so while the staff will record what panels they can (for one, I would venture anything that Brandon Sanderson appears on), both they and the later uploads will be limited.

Basically this boils down to “Unless you can attend in person, you won’t be able to attend.” Which sucks for some of you, I know, especially after so many were able to attend online last year. But I’d ask you to bear with things. These are, well to put it bluntly, the “interesting times” of that old curse. There’s only so much manpower to go around, and hosting a conference both online and off can be a surprisingly in-depth undertaking.

However, if you are able to attend in person (and I hope you are), I would note that the final “early bird registration” offers are closing soon, at which point the price of a three-day pass to the con will rise. So if you are going to make it, grab your registration soon!

We’re only a few weeks out! February 17-19th!

Now, there’s one more thing to discuss, but you’ll need to hit the jump. This post has become too large for the front page.

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