Friday News Post!

Wow, it’s been silent this week, hasn’t it? There was Monday’s excellent—in my opinion, anyway—Being a Better Writer post and then just … silence. Nothing on Tuesday, which is normal. But then nothing on Wednesday or Thursday either.

Well, it’s not because I wasn’t busy. Alpha Readers from the Second Alpha for Starforge have continued onward, with I believe two in the final quarter of the book, the rest of the Alpha Readers coming up behind them. I’ve been getting steady, consistent feedback, but it has been largely positive thus far with only a few minor things rearing their head. A majority of which seemed centered around the chapter that saw the most rewrites, all concerning smoothing rather than major changes so … Yeah! Things are looking good! As the Alpha team gets further and further, my confidence grows that there will not be an Alpha 3, but a graduation into BETA!

Which does imply that those of you that have been Beta Readers in the past should feel the anticipation growing. Starforge is inching closer to being in your hands! The Beta Read’s time nears!

But there’s another meaning with that as well. Because usually in the industry, once a book is in Beta, that’s when preview copies start going out. And this time? I am looking at sending out digital copies once the Alpha is over and done with to interested reviewers who wouldn’t mind taking a look at the grand finale and seeing how everything shakes out … As well as, of course, maybe dropping some early reviews for the book before it hits.


All awesome, right? But that’s both what others have been doing and what’s coming. What have I been up to the last few days?

Well, I haven’t been writing, save Being a Better Writer and, well, now this post. Though I do have another short story for More Unusual Events bubbling in the back of my head involving a mermaid that’s found a new hobby in bird-watching … But that’s for tomorrow’s writing (the day, incidentally, that you’ll see this post). What have I spent my entire Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday on?

Something very Starforge related. See, with the Alpha 2 reading moving along at a good clip, before I started going over the chapters every Alpha Reader has made it through … I’ve been sitting at my desk with a copy of GIMP open, clicking away and balancing colors.

That’s right, people, the Starforge cover reveal is coming.

Not today. Not in this post. I want to let what I’ve got sit for a bit and see how I feel about it. Previously I’ve withheld from having cover quotes on the cover of my book (after all, I like the art to stand out), but I’m waffling a bit here with this cover.

But it looks good. Those of you who are in the Discord have seen some previews already. As have those of you who are Patreon Supporters. It took me a few days (because I’m not a graphic designer, though I’m certainly learning a lot of the same skills), but I’m pretty happy with what’s resulted right now.

Does it look cool? Yes it does. Very cool. Very striking. Very prime.

And this one? I think I will do a 4K background for it. You’ll see why when the image itself finally arrives.

More news on that next week.

With that, I’m out of news! Enjoy your weekend, people!

Starforge is coming.

News, Updates, and Musings

I really need to make a new list of “assorting things to talk about” for these off days, but right now I spend so much writing time thinking about Starforge that doesn’t seem to be happening!

But hey, at least that means there are updates there to speak of. So, how is work coming along on Starforge?

Excellently. Yesterday I finished off revisions to Part Two of the book, with those revisions passed on to the Alpha 2 crew. Today work begins (for me) on Part Three, which is good because at least one of the Alpha 2 readers have already gotten through Part One.

Part Two took some work as well, particularly in one specific chapter which was not preferred by the Alpha 1 crew (those of you in that crew know which one I’m talking about). In the end, over half of it was completely rewritten, with the latter half being tweaked and edited along the way to bring it up to speed. Hopefully the Alpha 2 crew finds it much more digestible now.

That’s not the only change made across the second Alpha, but it’s so far been the largest and most sweeping one. Though there is one other change that’s been suggested by the Alpha 1 crew that the Alpha 2 crew now gets to deliberate, regarding where Part One ends. Basically, shuffling of chapters. I won’t say which direction I’m leaning with it, but there is a comment left by me serving as a signpost for the Alpha 2 readers asking their opinion.

Those Alpha 2 readers that haven’t reached that yet, what are you waiting for?


Anyway, work continues with that, but I’ve got some other news as well. See, once I finish this pass, I’ll still have to wait a bit for all the Alpha 2 readers to get some distance in the story before sweeping along behind them. Basically editing at the speed of the slowest Alpha Reader. Now, I’d like to get started on this by the end of the month, but if I finish getting all the Alpha 2 chapters up next week, what will I be doing then?

Why, starting on the cover for Starforge, of course! Yes, I’m going to be starting this one a little early, since I’ll need to learn a little more about my graphical editing (I think) in order to pull off what I have in mind, so it might take longer. Regardless, as most of you will probably guess, it is going to be in line with the other covers in the UNSEC Space trilogy. But … this one’s gonna be a little different. You’ll see … eventually. I’m not sure how long it’ll take, but if I can figure out the tools for what I’m going to try to do, the cover might be previewed as early as August!

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Starforge Updates and Other Things!

Hey there folks! I know, it’s been a slow week, hasn’t it? Monday was a holiday, and I’ve really not said much since then.

But that’s because things haven’t actually been that slow. In fact, for me they’ve been very busy! And for the Alpha Readers of Starforge‘s Alpha 2!

That’s because as you’ve largely surmised, that’s what I’ve been hard at work at. And things are booming. Currently, I’m rewriting the majority of chapter 15, as it needed a severe cleaning, and about halfway through that chapter. Chapters 1-14 are up for the Alpha crowd, and I’ve been seeing comments crop up … though not that many given the work done on the other passes.

Will this be the last Alpha? Or will I go for a third? Can’t say, honestly. As I’ve stated before, this being the last book of the UNSEC Space trilogy (and yes, I will reaffirm that this is the end of the story started in Colony; no secret “surprise” extra book here) I want it to be as spiffy and shiny as I can make it for you all. So will it get a 3rd Alpha?

Maybe. We’ll have to see. But at the current pace, with my editing speed and the speed of the Alpha Readers (seriously guys, you’re rocketing along!) the Alpha 2 could be done this month.

And that would be awesome.

So yeah, Starforge‘s second Alpha is off to a rolling start, with several readers already racing to catch up to me at my rewrites … Though once chapter 15 is done, my pace will likely increase to what it was before I got slowed rewriting most of a chapter.

Though if any of you Alpha readers want to impatiently knock at my “door” by catching up, you’re welcome to try!


Now, moving onto related news … The rest of the UNSEC trilogy seems to be getting some attention over the last few months. Colony has continued to collect reviews since hitting the big five-zero, with much positive applause. Accordingly Jungle has followed suit, picking up new five-star reviews as well. The world is getting ready for Starforge! And when it hits …

Of course, Colony‘s star status is closer and closer to being challenged, as Axtara – Banking and Finance is currently outselling it. Granted, Colony is quite a bit older and Axtara is new, but the banking dragon is doing her best to unseat the adventures of Jake, Anna, and Sweets at the top spot. Though in fairness, Colony has quite a lead … but Axtara is winging hard to catch up.

I can only imagine once I get a sequel out things will really start to heat up.


Other than that, I’ll go light with the news. New Being a Better Writer Monday, as usual. For now, everyone enjoy your weekend, and get some reading in!

Oh, wait, I do have one last bit of news. Absolutely zero individuals expressed an interest in Ko-Fi support on the site. So unless you’re one who was interested but didn’t speak up, for now I think that’s going to be tabled indefinitely unless you do speak up. Speak now in the comments, or forever hold your peace!

Have a good weekend everybody!

News! The Alaska Trip, Upcoming Alpha Call, Axtara Fan Art, and More!

Heyo readers! How are things going on your side of the screen?

Things over here are … busy, to put it lightly. Last week I edited 168,000 words, and I’ve already put a solid effort in this week on another 60,000. Haven’t even started today yet (because sadly I cannot edit and write this news post at the same time, though if I could …).

But one of the things that I need to be busy with is this news post! Because I’ve been AFK for five weeks (not counting last week), and the news continued to pile up during that time. So I’ve got some stuff to drop for everyone. Including, yes, you read that title correctly, Axtara fan-art that I received while I was in Alaska.

But we’re going to talk about that in a bit. First, let’s talk about the Alaska trip. Now, unlike last year I’m not going to dedicate a whole post to this. Last year was a special occasion, and in addition had much more eventful happenings (like the killer whale pod that checked us out). This trip was more sedate by comparison. With a few exceptions.

Which isn’t to mean I didn’t get some pictures. A friend of mine asked me to snap some pictures for them, and I obliged, sending them a decent-sized dump when I was back on the grid. Though, just in fairness, these are all quick snaps, unlike some of the pictures I took last year. They’re still solid pictures, but they’re not professional in any sense, and I say that with even more emphasis than last year.

I didn’t even have any pictures of wildlife this time. What exposures we had were brief and over far too quickly to get a picture. With one exception, which was when we were pulling a set that was following a beach, while further out from some whales that were playing or feeding at the beach.

There are no pictures or video of this. We had our hands full. And there wasn’t much to see outside of occasional spouts as both took a breath and went back to whatever it was they were up to. But it was a neat counterpart to our work for a good half-hour, since we were keeping time up the beach.

Okay, with that disappointment of no footage for all of you, here are the pictures I took. Consolation prize, right?

Yes, that is a barge in the last picture. Hauling trains. Well, train cars anyway. Portions of a train? Trainlets? Carriages?

You get the idea. The rest is just scenery, which is usually what I was able to find time to capture pictures of.

So, here’s a quick question for you (which some of you might have wondered about): Why did this trip take me five weeks? I’d of course warned it might take that long, but why did it?

Well … the correct answer is equipment failure. There’s a lot of equipment you need for fishing, and one of those is a very vital piece of machinery that I’ve always called a “depth finder” though I’ve also heard it referred to as a “depth sounder” or in a term that dates the user, “color machine.”

Basically, this neat little device bounces signals off of the seafloor and displays the result on a screen, telling you both how much water you have between the bottom of your boat and the seafloor (more than zero is ideal) and, if you know what you’re looking at, the condition/material of that floor.

When you’re fishing on the bottom, this information is vital. Which is why it’s really bad if you’re about to set out from the harbor and the depth finder will not function.

Long story short, the boat needed a new one, which meant finding a new one, ordering a new one, waiting for it to arrive, and then installing it. All of which royally wrecked the schedule. On the plus side, I had a sudden abundance of days with which I got to just read and catch up on the fat stack of books I’d been holding onto.

But yes, as to why it took five weeks instead of three? That’s why. Thankfully, I’d guessed that something like it might, and prepped the site accordingly.

Now, this wasn’t the only disaster that occurred on this trip. There was a brief but very exciting incident with one of our holds losing, shall we say, containment, and dumping hundreds of gallons of water into a particular place that water should not have been, resulting in very bad things happening aboard the boat until we figured it out. That story, however, does deserve its own telling, and so I won’t post it here.

Besides, we’ve got more news to get to, including some Axtara fanart to see. So hit that jump, and let’s talk about what else is coming down the pipeline.

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I’m Back!

Readers! I have grand news! I am back from the north!

That’s right, I have returned from my expedition to the north! And well … let’s just say I think it was a good thing I queued up so many posts in advance, because wouldn’t you know it, things went wrong.

Nothing major. At least, not for this post. I arrived, we got geared up, everything was ready to go … but when the time came for the ship to depart … The depth reader wasn’t working.

This is, for a boat, a pretty vital piece of machinery. Especially when it not only tells you how far away the bottom is, but what kind of bottom it is (something critical for the type of fishing we were about to do). The machine, twenty-plus years old, had finally croaked. It was far beyond support from the original manufacturer, who had already been folded into another company, so that avenue was out of the question. And because these units aren’t exactly modular … Well … we were out of luck.

The result? Money had to be dropped on a new depth reader. Entirely. Which was not cheap, and in an added bit of “of course the universe works like that” took some time to arrive. Combine that with some other stuff, and bingo boom, I’ve been up there for two weeks and we still haven’t made it out on the water.

Once we did, things went largely according to plan. But these delays meant that yes, once again the trip took longer than was initially quoted at me. Hence, my preparation in adding several extra weeks of posts to the original estimate.

Point being, I’m back and I’m glad I prepped in advance? So … what now?

Well, with all of May pretty much a write off (I made my goal a much more realistic quarter of my normal goal and due to the extended trip couldn’t even make that), moving into June there’s one big project on my mind: Starforge.


As of right now, the goal with Starforge is still to work for a November release. Alpha 1 has shown some really rough spots and dissatisfaction with a few elements, so the next few weeks for me are going to be focused on pulling together things and making changes and fixes to try and ready the draft up for Alpha 2.

And this will need Alpha 2 readers. All hands on deck for this one, because there’s a large number of fixes in the wings, but also because I will need feedback on those fixes and what’s already there. So expect to hear more about Starforge in the coming weeks, because my immediate aim—well, once I stop feeling so sore and battered; fishing work really takes it out of you—is to hit Starforge and hit it hard.

Of course, this isn’t all I need to do, but I don’t want to make a first page titan, so for the rest of the upcoming summer, hit that jump.

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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!