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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The First to Fifty: Colony Makes History

Well, it finally happened. In a move this weekend that saw me updating every scheduled post for the next few weeks, Colony has become the first book of mine to hit the fifty-review/rating milestone on Amazon. For a while there it was a real question of which would be first, Colony or One Drink (my first), as both were neck and neck for a few weeks. But Colony has proven itself, and has now taken not only the lead, but broken the first major review milestone I’ve had on Amazon, cracking fifty reviews and ratings.

Which … may not seem like a lot to some of you. In an era where a ten-thousand dollar instagram campaign can drive a book to a thousand reviews seemingly overnight, fifty reviews doesn’t seem like much. But there’s one thing that Colony has going for it with its small selection that those massive advertising campaigns don’t: Colony‘s reviews are organic and all-natural!

Better yet, it’s still sitting at 4.5 stars after all these years.

And in case I didn’t have more to say about this, One Drink caught up as of this morning. That’s how close it was. Colony managed it on Saturday, One Drink just this morning. Talk about a tight race!

But a race that Colony clearly won. Which means it’s time to deliver on the tease I kept making recently about whichever title managed it getting a reward worth bragging about. And well, here it is:

Colony will be free to everyone this weekend. And it’ll be a five day weekend. Fifty reviews, five days. That means starting this Thursday, May 5th, and running through Monday, May 9th, Colony will be free to download and keep forever.

For five days.

Yeah. That’s the prize. Colony was the first to reach fifty, so it’s going to be free for almost a week. If you’ve been waiting in the wings thinking you’d pick this one up when the moment arrived … this is the moment! Starting tomorrow, you’ll have your chance!

But it shouldn’t just be you. If you know someone who would enjoy Colony and the rest of the trilogy, fire a link at ’em! Let them know now is the time to check it out!

However … that’s not all. Those of you that have read Colony and Jungle will be happy to know that next week, after the free giveaway is over, you’re going to get a very special post indeed: A preview of Starforge.

This was a Patreon-exclusive for some time, but now you’re going to get a look at it. Pre-Alpha, so unedited (Starforge editing is ongoing). But hey, it’s a preivew! It is, in fact, the entire prologue.

And it will be massively full of spoilers if you’ve not read Colony and Jungle. Just saying. I’ll have a warning on the post, just in case.

Either way, if you’re one of the reviewers that helped push Colony to fifty, thank you. Colony continues to thrive in part because of your willingness to let the world know how great it is.

Now it’s time for others to find that out as well.

Congratulations Colony for hitting the milestone!

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.

2021 in Review: Another Year Passes By

Welcome back readers! I have returned from my staycation!

Actually, I did travel a little this Christmas, though nothing that involved any sort of flight (or it probably wouldn’t have happened). I’ve got a new nephew, and he is adorable. Point being, it wasn’t entirely a staycation. But hey, close enough. Sands, I even got a 12-hour multiplayer game of Stellaris in at one point. That was an experience!

So, I’ll bet a lot of you were hoping for a new Being a Better Writer post to drop today, but I have a confession to make: We’re going to be waiting one more week. Yes, my staycation is over today, and I’m going to be getting back to work as soon as this post is over, but I’m going to hold off on a new BaBW post in favor of this post: A look back at the year prior! What happened? What did I get done? How did the site perform? What were the new releases, if any? How were book sales?

As always, there’s a reason for this kind of summation. First is to take in how my work really performed and gauge that against what it could be or what I might want to make it. Second is to see what new goals I need to set. All, of course, while keeping you readers informed. So, let’s talk about 2021.

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It’s Done: Starforge’s Draft is Complete

I mean … what else do I need to say. Guys, it’s done. Just minutes ago, I jumped to a new page and typed out the final, pivotal words of a Sci-Fi trilogy that I can now accurately say stretches almost 1.3 million words in total. Those words?

THE END

Sands and storms, readers. Sands and storms. I feel drained. But at the same time, I feel like a weight the size of a planet (or maybe a whole universe) has left my shoulders.

It’s done.

I feel like I’m going to go for a nice bike ride while just … melting. That’s a good word for it.

Okay, so let me drop some numbers at you all. The project started (loosely, since the early weeks were spent also getting Axtara out) at the end of October/start of November 2020. The final wordcount? 502,800 and some change. At the end of July. So that’s half a million words written in about nine months, give or take a week.

Not bad at all, if I do say so myself. Bear in mind if you try to do a “daily average” breakdown, I don’t work Sundays, or all but a few Saturdays. Monday-Friday.

Let me see, more data. Thirty-six chapters, plus prologue, epilogue, and some interludes. A whole lot of deaths (fictional). Dozens of life-threatening situations. Trillions of US dollars in spaceships destroyed. Uncountable headaches.

And it’s done.

Now if you’ll all excuse me, I’m going to collapse.

Fireteam Freelance: A Creator’s Look Back

All right guys, I’ll level with you right from the start.

I wasn’t actually that impressed by Fireteam Freelance.

Don’t get me wrong, there was definitely some gold buried in there. There are some scenes that were absolutely awesome, some great fights, and some good moments of character. But there were also a lot of issues. Oh man were there some ruthlessly brutal issues and constraints. A lot of which I expect most readers noticed. And the further along the series got, the more I tried to break free of those constraints, which helped a little but at the same time … made things a bit messy.

If you’re thinking by now that perhaps Fireteam Freelance isn’t my strongest showing, you’re right. It’s not. It was an experiment. And in light of the entire series being done, while I don’t consider it a failure (after all, it was an experiment, failure is part of that) I definitely see it as one of the weaker things I’ve written.

And a lot of that, I feel, grew out of one rule that I couldn’t escape, by the design and nature of the experiment itself: Freelance being an episodic series. That was the core point of the experiment. To test the idea out and see how it worked. Now, I don’t feel I’ve wasted my time with Freelance, nor do I believe that there aren’t worthwhile moments in it (there definitely are) … But I do believe that the weaknesses of the format really hurt it.

So. you’ve given me your thoughts (and if you haven’t, well it’s too late now). Now it’s my turn to offer you mine. Hit the jump and let’s get started.

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Fireteam Freelance Episode 2 Update and Episode 1 Discussion

Update time! Episode two, titled Blackout, will not be posting tomorrow. It’s about halfway done, though, so look for it next week. What’s episode two about? Well, it involves a new job (shocker!) and … the Mexican Orbital Elevator?

Maybe I should give you guys a bit of a preview! Tell you what, hit the jump below and you’ll get your preview, but after that, let’s open comments for people’s thoughts so far! We’ve technically had three entries, between Episode 0, an interlude, and Episode 1. What’s everyone making of the series this early on? How’s the episodic format working for you? Do you like it? Dislike it? Let me know it the comments, or chat with other readers!

Oh, and I should let you know, I’m planning on getting an official cover made here soon … likely in March. I’m thinking … lots of high energy neon colors. More on that as it comes.

In the meantime, comment on what you think, hit the jump for a little teaser, and then mark your calendars for next Saturday when Blackout will likely drop!

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