UNSEC Space Lore: All Alert – Hoppers

The Starforge beta is on, readers (and you can find out more about that here) which means we’re drawing closer to the finale’s release with each passing day. An end to the adventure six years in the making—and for some of you, reading—Starforge is the epic conclusion to the UNSEC Space trilogy and the journey that began in Colony and continued in Jungle.

But until Starforge is in your waiting hands, tide yourselves over with these little looks into the setting. Today we’re going to be talking about the harbinger of one of the most dangerous threats known in the setting and talk a little bit about the alien lifeform known as the hopper.

As before, these posts contain spoilers for both Colony and Jungle, so if you’d like the twists and reveals of those novels to stay exciting and fresh, we advice not hitting that jump, and instead clicking over to the books page of the site to get your own adventure with the UNSEC trilogy going.

Those of you that are ready to take the dive? Hit the jump.

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UNSEC Space Lore: Earth in the 22nd Century

Starforge draws ever closer, readers, and with it the epic conclusion to the UNSEC Space Trilogy. But while it isn’t quite here yet, that doesn’t mean we can’t take a look back at the state of the universe and some of its characters, locations, technology, and lore. So, until Starforge is in your waiting hands, tide yourself over with these little looks into the setting. Today, we’re going to be looking at the homeworld of all mankind itself: Earth.

NOTE: This post does include spoilers for Colony and Jungle, books one and two of the UNSEC Space trilogy. Be warned if you want the exciting reveals of those books to stay exciting!

Otherwise, hit the jump.

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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.

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!

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.