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 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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“A Parliament of Wizards” Submission Deadline Extended!

Hey readers! Quick update here! Many of you recall the open submissions for Parliament of Wizards, LTUE’s fourth benefit anthology, correct?

Well, due to the Covid-19 quarantine messing with things, the publisher has decided to extend the submission deadline through the end of May. I only realized this the other day, or I’d have informed you all sooner, but if you’d almost completed a submission before the original April deadline, but Covid-19 pushed it to the back burner … you’re in luck! There’s still time!

The new submission deadline is May 30th. Hemelein’s newly updated post on it can be found here.

Parliament of Wizards Submission Call!

Readers! I have news! For you! Which I mentioned in Monday’s Being a Better Writer post but is finally getting its own post here. Submission calls are open for LTUE’s fourth Benefit Anthology, Parliament of Wizards!

If you’re stumbling across this post with no prior knowledge of what any of those things mean, let me catch you up. LTUE is Life, The Universe, and Everything, one of the best (if not the best) writing conventions out there, attended by hundreds of experienced authors and industry professionals all for one epic goal: To talk about writing in all its forms. This is a conference you come to in order to meet your favorite authors and then listen to them talk about the ins and outs of writing.

Better yet, since the goal of the conference is to help writers learn how to write, it’s also open to students and charges $5 for student attendees. LTUE is about giving resources and knowledge to writers of the world, and students are part of that.

Trace the StarsSo, in order to help keep that student cost low even as the con has grown again and again, the LTUE Benefit Anthologies were set up. These are collections of short stories written by a wide variety of authors, some new, some long-time industry vets that are household names, each around a themed topic, and sold entirely in support of the convention.

That’s right, the authors and editors don’t see a penny. All the proceeds from each sale go toward keeping LTUE running and making sure that the price for students stays at $5, so that the young would-be writers of today can get the education to help them become the writers of tomorrow.

To date, there have been two LTUE anthologies published. Trace the Stars, a collection of Science-Fiction stories, was the first and published in 2019. The second collection was published this year, just in February, and titled A Dragon and Her Girl (and I’m in that one!). The third collection, Twilight Tales, will be released next year (2021).

70081760_568294170598543_7425837595373862912_oWhich means that submissions have just opened for the next and fourth collection, Parliament of Wizards, 2022’s release! Stories about wizards. Submissions are open from now until April 30th, and not only is it a good place to submit a story too as they’re open to authors of all experience but again, it’s to help one of the best writing cons out there keep their costs down.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in submitting to, hit the jump for some more details and link to Hemelein Publications’ submissions page!

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