Returned From Afar – Happy Memorial Day!

Hello readers! Guess who’s back?

Well, you don’t really have to. After all, this is a new post, not scheduled in any way! So it’s not much of a guess that I am back from my vacation.

And hoo-boy did I need it. I hadn’t realized exactly how stressed and overworked I’d become in the last few years of working with very few breaks. The first few days of my trip, I felt like my mind was one of those crazy metal puzzles with all the rings, but one that had been handed to someone after being passed to an overactive toddler and really bent into an odd shape. Over the last week, it’s gradually relaxed and fallen back into shape, unclenching into something a bit more recognizable.

Basically, five years without a real vacation was a little too much. Even during Christmas and other breaks I spent a lot of days running the site, writing other projects, planning … This vacation was the first time in years were I made a point of not even thinking about writing for the first few days. Complete disconnect.

Sands and storms did I need that.

Now I’m back! Relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to once again to get back to work. Step one? Finishing Starforge. The last quarter is ready to explode into the finale, and I’m ready to write it.

Now, normally this would be the point were I dive into Being a Better Writer, since this is Monday. However, today is also a big holiday in the United States. Memorial Day, when we honor and remember all the fallen warriors that have given their lives in defense of this country. As in keeping with tradition, there will not be an installment of Being a Better Writer today.

However, as I have just come back from an extended break, I will be posting a shorter one tomorrow. So there’s that to look forward to.

Well, that and this awesome picture I took on my vacation. Are you ready? Check this out:

You see it? Right in the upper left-hand corner of the display? That is Axtara – Banking and Finance, proudly on display in my hometown’s library next to Dave Pilkey and a Wings of Fire book.

And yes, I signed it.

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Vacation Throwback: Firstborn

Yeah I know, I might be back by this point. I’m just taking advance precautions. So whether or not I’m back at my desk, here’s one last vacation throwback post.

Any of you remember Firstborn? It was a short bit of flash fiction I pumped out one night after a Reddit prompt last year. Short, cute, and also pretty fun, this story will eventually be in More Unusual Events, but right now it’s free to read for all here on the site. When a witch attempts to con a man out of his firstborn child, things go fantastically awry … and not in the ways you’d expect for any involved.

So hit the jump. It’s short, cute, and a lot of fun.

Firstborn

Vacation Throwback: Fireteam Freelance

I saved this one for the weekend because, well … It’s the length of an epic-sized novel. Maybe a little bigger actually.

Yes folks, I’m still on vacation. But I thought I’d take this time to remind (and notify, for some) of a little experiment I ran last year called Fireteam Freelance.

Fireteam Freelance was a full-length, fully free, episodic story set in the UNSEC Space setting (AKA the same universe Colony, Jungle, and Starforge take place in). Taking place right after the events of Colony, Freelance follows a small team of freelance mercenaries on Earth who, after events on Pisces, start getting some odd jobs from a few new clients. An experiment with episodic storytelling, Freelance gives readers a glimpse of what life on Earth is like after the shattering events at Pisces, and bit by bit the team starts to realize there’s a common thread tying all their jobs together …

By the way, I’ll say again that this is free. You can read the whole thing on the site, no fee needed. It was, after all, an experiment. Having seen the numbers on my end, I can safely say a lot of people slept on it, or waited until it was all uploaded and then just kind of never got around to checking it out, but since I’m on vacation, now seems to be the perfect time to once again promote this fully completed side-novel series, especially for those of you waiting on Starforge.

So yeah, hit the jump and find your weekend read!

Fireteam Freelance: The Complete Series

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

Final Bit of Pre-Vacation News!

Hey readers! I know a Saturday news post is a bit unusual, but hey, I’m going to be on vacation next week, so it is what it is, right? Plus, I do have news!


First, let’s talk about Starforge. No, the draft isn’t done. I’m currently at work on the fourth and final portion of the story, and actually kind of glad I’m going on a vacation because I’ve hit a … shall we say swing point? I know where I’m at, and I know where things are going, but I have two different ways to reach that point and I’m trying to figure out which one works best for the characters.

Again, this is the most stressful writing project I’ve ever had because well, Starforge has to live up to Colony and Jungle, and that is a tall order, especially when it has to finish off both of their respective stories.

The current draft has cracked 400,000 words, by the way. Probably about another 45,000-50,000 to go. Yes. It’s close. Then I’ll probably put it down for a month or so, do some short stories or something for other books or works to let my mind disengage, and then … come back and start editing. Hard. Maybe we can get a November release, but I make no promises.

Of course, if you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking “Sounds like you need that vacation.” Everyone keeps telling me that. Anyway, I’ll have a week off to think about how to swing this last bit of the finale, and there will very likely be some rewrites for the current chapter I’m working on (at the moment I feel it’s a little inconsistent with the tone) once I’m back, but … Other than that, I’ll I’ve got is “it’s still coming, it’s still the most stressful thing I’ve ever written, and I really hope I’m keeping it up to the standard of the first two.”


But I’ve got other news! Really good news, in fact. As of last night, I have officially reached 200 reviews and ratings on Goodreads!

How’s that for a milestone? Combined with my Amazon reviews, that brings me to 359 reviews total. And the average of all those reviews?

4.5 out of 5. If we double that to find the “US grade scale” that puts me at a 90%. Actually, a 91% since there’s some rounding with the last few digits.

Yeah, for all the stress I’m experiencing over Starforge, that review average feels pretty good. And I’m only 41 reviews from hitting that big old 400 I’ve been hunting for.

Curious what pushed me to the new milestone? It was Axtara. Another five-star review from a thrilled reader was the last tick I needed to go from 199 to 200. At the current pace Axtara is racking up reviews, it’ll be competing with Colony before long!


Now let me see. Other news. There will be a Being a Better Writer post while I’m gone, and I’ll be setting up a few classic throwbacks while I’m out so the site won’t be totally dead. I’m going to try and spend this next week somewhat relaxed so my brain can punch through the last few finale bits of Starforge without shredding itself, so I won’t be doing new posts while I’m gone. But again, stuff is set up, so keep an eye on things here. Nothing groundbreaking, but still fun.


Oh, and while we’re discussing news, eagle-eyed Patreon Supporters may have already noticed that the fourth and final portion of A Trial for a Dragon went live this morning! So those of you that have been following the misadventures of Axtara’s older brother Ryax have the conclusion to his struggle with the Rietillian Council of Wizards at last! Thanks for supporting!

And with this, I’m going to sign off, get a few final scheduled posts ready to go … and check out. Enjoy next week everyone, and wish me luck!