A Weekly News Post

Hey, they can’t all be clever titles.

So, a few updates since last week. First and foremost, work on the new Jacob Rocke book trundles on. It’s about a third or so of the way done. This one will be longer than his first outing, but still not as long as Dead Silver, I think. It’s a smaller story, really. However, that means it gets written quicker, and editing (later this year, lets not get too far ahead of ourselves) will be quicker as well.

Anyway, progress continues there. Am I willing to drop any hints at this juncture? Well, let’s just say that a lot of my online advertisements lately have been all about colleges. While you all puzzle on that, let’s move to the next bit of news to talk about which is—


A sale! But not on any of my books. No, not yet (February is coming, more on that below). No, this sale is for a game. A few long-time readers of this site may recall my post of admiration for one Subnautica a few years back. Well, it’s only become a better game since then as the developers have continued to polish it and work to bring it to feature parity with its stand-alone expansion, Below Zero.

Oh, and it’s on sale right now. Along with that stand-alone expansion right now. Through January 30th.

Yeah, I know. I’m supposed to be encouraging you people to spend money on my books. But Subnautica is just fantastic. Besides, I’ll be doing plenty of encouragement for purchasing my stuff at LTUE.


Which is coming soon people! We’re not in February yet, but I myself am in the prep stages. Yesterday I placed my order for a new array of paperback books to be sold at the LTUE vendor hall. A larger number than last year, since everything last year sold out so fast. I’m not joking about that by the way: Every copy of Shadow of an Empire was gone before noon on the first day. I’ve increased the number of books that’ll be on hand this year, but given last year’s sales … that might just mean they sell out by day two.

I’ve still got some other prep work to do in order to be ready for LTUE, however. I need new standees for the signing since Starforge is out, and this year I’m planning on doing some nice prints of a few book covers to raffle off. I’m thinking “one entry for coming by the booth, five for showing proof of purchase of said book.” Which naturally would include brandishing said book.

So yeah, if you’d like a nice matte printing of the covers to Axtara or Shadow of an Empire, maybe even Starforge, be sure to come by the signing booth at this year’s LTUE!


And well … that’s pretty much it. Almost. Sales keep on trucking toward that 10,000 number, but I think the make-or-break moment really will be this year’s LTUE. At the current rate, sales won’t quite reach 10,000 by February’s end if they stay consistent … but they always shoot up during LTUE. So … it’s down to the wire, really.

On a related note, I should figure something out to celebrate the tenth anniversary of both becoming a published author and One Drink‘s publication. One more thing to add to the pile, I suppose.

Anyway, that’s the news. I’m going to get back to work on Rocke’s next adventure! Max, signing off!

Clues Under a Couch – A Weekly News Update

Hey folks! Max here with a weekly update post. There’s not going to be anything Earth-shattering or lifechanging in this post (at least I don’t think so), but if you’re wondering what I’ve been up to and what’s going on, this is the post to check out.

So, with absolutely zero ado, here’s what’s going on.


First up, how’s progress on the new Jacob Rocke book going?

Well. It’s going well. The current draft is sitting at about 22,000 words, and the mystery has taken shape. At a guess I’d hazard this winding up around 60,000-80,000 words long, which isn’t bad. It’s about the size and shape I’d want from a new Jacob Rocke adventure.

So what’s this one about? Well, Rocke’s back on the East Coast of the US this time, having just dealt with another haunted hospital room, when he gets a call from the NSAU. It seems a college student at a nearby university was reporting missing that morning, but the local police force balked the moment they were told she was an unusual, and has claimed the case is out of their jurisdiction. Being the closest agent, Rocke is assigned to the case, and while elements of actual unusual involvement are dubious at best, he’s going to do his job and see if he can’t track the missing student down, especially as the days pass and she remains missing.

So yeah, I’ll probably have that polished off by sometime next month. Which leads me to February, which is a natural segue into—

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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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Weekend News (A Quick Post to See You Through)

Hello readers! Max here with a quick update/news post. First and foremost, if you’d like a preview of my weekend …

That’s right, the paperback proof for Shadow of an Empire arrived this week! And it’s a hefty chonk! With no remorse I placed it on a kitchen scale to bring you the exact weight: two pounds, one ounce!

That is a big novel. And that’s about a hundred pages less than Colony would be. Jungle would, by the same scale, be almost four pounds. Assuming it could even be bound.

Anyway, I’ll be spending the next little bit working on getting that finalized and ready for shipping! Just in time for … Halloween, I guess? Who doesn’t love a good Western in the fall?

Hit the jump for a few other updates on things, including Starforge news!

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Big News!

Attention readers! It’s time for news, and I’ve got a doozy of a post for you in that regard.

So those of you that are long-time followers of the site may recall that back before I injured my knee, at least once a year I would head up to Alaska to work on a fishing boat and make some cash. Then I injured my knee, the injury was permanent, and that pretty much put and end to that.

Well, last week I got a call. A deckhand had quit short notice, and my old employer wanted to know if I wanted to try the job again. After some back and forth and agreement that we’ll have to play a lot of the job by ear due to my knee, but also that it’ll be a bit more relaxed than the “Witness me!” levels of commercial fishing’s usual dedication.

So I agreed to it. So near the end of next week, I’ll leave for Alaska on what will probably be close to three weeks of work. Though there is some variance with that. Two weeks is just the average, but there’s also the work getting the boat ready to go, getting the gear on it, etc.

Hopefully, I make it through without doing any extra damage to my knee, and come back with enough money to live at least the next few months without fear of immediate eviction (do not ask what my bank account looks like at the moment, just don’t).

Now, what does this mean for the site? Well … very little actually. I can schedule posts on Unusual Things, so there won’t be much change here outside of me being unable to approve comments from posters that look a lot like spam. But I’ll be writing next Monday’s Being a Better Writer post today, and then a bunch of them (along with other posts) next week before I leave, so posts here will still go up.

However, other sites that get excerpts of those posts? They don’t have scheduling. So before I leave each will get a notification post, and then person that follows the site through those locations will simply have to exercise their own efforts to come to the main site and see what the content is each week. Sorry, folks. There’s only so much I can do.

Anyway, there will be content while I’m gone (and if things stretch on really long, I’ll try to make some posts from my phone). When I get back, I’ll hit each of the places that don’t have scheduled updates or feeds with a nice summary post.

This does have other effects, of course. Remember Shadow of an Empire’s paperback copy? Well, I’m unlikely to get the proof before I leave (and even if I did, it’d be stuck with me in Alaska where it couldn’t do much good and I couldn’t do much work on it). Which means … release of the paperback will be delayed a bit.

Sorry guys. This was just unexpected. So … September then. Basically, as soon as I get back, I can get the proof ordered, and then once any errors there are cleared up, the book can go live.

Now, onto other news!

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Vacation Throwback: The Last Call of Christmas Eve

Hey readers! Max here! Yup, I’m still on vacation. This post was queued up in advance. A few years ago I wrote a short story starring Jacob Rocke, the protagonist of the first book I ever sold, and released it on my site as a Christmas Eve gift. And while looking for things to liven the site up with while I was gone, well … What fits better than an old Christmas mystery? It’s out of season, but who cares? Not me, since I’m on vacation, and not you, because hey free story you might have missed!

So anyway, enjoy The Last Call of Christmas Eve out of season. Hit the jump.

The Last Call of Christmas Eve

The Last Call of Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas readers! It’s Christmas Eve here, which is the traditional time in my family to start opening gifts from friends and family. So, as some of you already know, I thought this year I’d give you all a gift in the form of a Christmas story.

A Jacob Rocke Christmas story. That’s right: set in the Unusuals Universe.

Is it weird? Of course it is. And it’s also a bit rough about the edges (it hasn’t seen any formal editing yet, but give me a break, I only finished it Friday). But hey, it’s a free Jacob Rocke story, and that’s a pretty sweet.

Later this’ll make it to More Unusual Events, but for now? Merry Christmas, guys. Enjoy.

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“The Last Call of Christmas Eve” on Patreon!

Heads up, readers! Quick question: Are you a supporter of the site on Patreon? If so, rejoice, for the Jacob Rocke Christmas tale The Last Call of Christmas Eve has just gone up for you to read!

It’s odd. It’s strange (plus pre-Alpha, so you’ll probably find some typos). And it’s a Christmas story. I won’t spoil it for you, but you can find it over on Patreon if you’re a supporter of $1 or more a month!

Those of you who are not Patreon supporters will just have to wait until Christmas Eve. Or for the eventual release of More Unusual Events. Which is going to happen, but not anytime soon (there are several books in front of it in the queue).

Oh, and we’re at eight to go in nine days on Goodreads! So close!

Merry Christmas folks! I hope you’re having a good one!

Ten for Nine

Hey readers! I did say I’d be posting things here during my break, though not quite as often. So, a few things to note.

First, if you’re looking for a last-minute gift (we are getting down to the wire here) or just something fun to read over the break, consider heading on over to my Books page and picking a title or two up. Not only do they make great gifts, buying one helps me out too.


All right, enough shilling, though if you enjoy my works, you’re going to like this next bit of news. Right now, there’s a word document open on my desktop. The title? The Last Call of Christmas Eve. I got a little bit of work done on it this week, and now I’m finishing it today.

It’s a Jacob Rocke Christmas story, readers. And it’ll be up to read for Patreon Supporters tomorrow. And here on my site in time for Christmas Eve.

That’s right: Merry Christmas. You’re getting a new Jacob Rocke short. What’s it about? Hah! No telling. You’ll have to make your guesses based on the title.

Now, this short will show up in print later (It’ll end up in More Unusual Events), and since I am getting this ready last minute, don’t expect too much in the way of editing. But hey, my drafts tend to be pretty clean, so it’ll be readable regardless. Also, free Christmas story involving one of my first characters.


One more bit of news, then I’m off to keep working on it: I am nine ratings away from my end-year goal of 100 on Goodreads. NINE (EDIT: It’s now eight, but I’m not updating the title). So. Close. And with ten days to the New Year, that’s the cause for the title of this post. If you have a Goodreads account and have not yet, please head over and leave your rating on my books! More Goodreads ratings (as well as higher numbers of reviews on Amazon) mean more new readers willing to take a fresh look, and that’s always good!

Anyway, I get to go write about Jacob Rocke and … well, I can’t tell you that. But I get to go do that right now. Merry Christmas to all, and I’ll see you (figuratively) real soon!

Quick News Post

Sorry for the lateness. Had work yesterday and I’ve been battling a gnarly chest-and-throat cold that refuses to die. Now, really quick, some news!

Unusual Events

First up, Unusual Events: A “Short” Story Collection, is currently 50% off. It actually has been for almost a week, but being blasted by being sick, I completely neglected to mention it. In any case, you can grab this collection of ten “short” stories (there are two novellas in there, and only three or four of them are actually short enough to warrant the short story tag) for just $2.99!

Second, the Alpha 2 Reading of Shadow of an Empire is moving along, but at this point I’d like to get some more eyes on it. If you’re interested in being an Alpha Reader (and if you’re confused as to what an Alpha Reader does, check this handy post here on the topic), drop me a line! The more eyes, the better.

Third, LTUE, or Life, The Universe, and Everything, the writing con, is coming up! Next week, in fact, from February 15th-17th. Unfortunately, this year I will only be able to make it to one day due to costs, and that will be the first day, the 15th. Still, if you can at all make it to one of the best writing cons for chatting with authors and learning about the craft, this is it. And if you’re going to be there that first day and want to put a face to the words, let me know! I’m always happy to talk with fans!

Okay, last one, I promise. This one has been on the back-burner for a while, but with everything sort of reaching an equilibrium, there’s no sense in me not destabilizing my carefully balanced load with some new business. I pose to you readers a question: How would you feel about doing a live Q&A session over Discord? I get a mic, you readers get questions, I drop a link here on the site at a pre-planned time, and I spend an hour or so answering questions on a variety of topics? Anyone interested in that?

Right, that’s it for the news! Onward to today’s Being a Better Writer post!