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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Where Stranded Went Wrong … and Right

Well, I figured I’d better do something to have more content this week than Being a Better Writer, and I wasn’t feeling another OP-ED today since I’d rather finish another writing project, so how about we talk about that other writing project for a moment?

I mentioned Stranded earlier this week and mentioned that it was a bit of a flop. This is true: It doesn’t seem to be resonating with Alpha Readers the way my other works have. More to the point, a number of them find it either A) boring or B) not to their liking.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to finish it. Experimental as it is (and it’s an experiment that seems to have bombed), I’m only a few thousand words from the end as of today. And even though it appears to not be what my audience is interested in, there’s still chance that it’ll find a home with a different audience, though I consider that a low chance at this time.

But I’m not disappointed with it. The whole point of an experimental piece is to learn, and I’ve definitely had some moment of that with this one. I took on Stranded with the goal of stretching my writing capabilities to some new areas, and I hold that I managed to do that, despite that it didn’t quite aim for my audience.

So … what did go wrong, and what went right? Even though the story isn’t finished, and all I’ve got is some Alpha Reader feedback, so maybe it’s a little early to say for certain, well … I’ve still been thinking on it as I wrap the story up.

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Nanowrimo, Reviews, and More – A News Post

Hello once again, folks! I’m back with a news post, and most of you know the drill. So … what’s happening lately?

Well, let’s start with the writing news. Stranded is almost finished up (draft-wise) which … is good. Stranded is one of those experimental projects I do to try out new things, and this one ballooned on me. I’ll be glad to finish it. While I wouldn’t call it a dud, I think both its experimental nature and its lack of full pre-planning before I just dove in did hurt it somewhat.

Does that mean it’s worthless? Of course not! I am glad of the experiments I was able to delve into with it, all of which I’m going to be able to put forth in an upcoming writing project I’ve been excitedly planning for a few years now (and which I’ve only mentioned a few times). Said writing project is still a ways off (don’t worry, we’ve got another Jacob Rocke book and of course Axtara – Magic and Mayhem to be worked on and written before I start this one) but it is one I’ve had in mind for a few years now, much like the UNSEC Space trilogy and Shadow of an Empire.

And you know, like Shadow of an Empire had the Ripper short in Unusual Events, I’m thinking that when I tidy up Stranded, one of the last shorts I’ll do before I get down to business on the Starforge draft might be a short story set in this new setting I’ve been envisioning. Like Ripper as a test-bed for the setting and some of the worldbuilding, to see if I’ve worked out some elements to my satisfaction or not.

Unlike with Ripper, however, hopefully this short story won’t creep so many people out it’s a de-facto dead end for most people’s reading of whatever collection it was in (if you’re not familiar with Ripper, it was so dark owing to its PoV character that many readers of Unusual Events stopped partway through it and never finished the collection, a lesson in “location” I learned the hard way. It’s a fantastic story, but for many it was a little too good considering the darkness of its subject matter).


Anyway, that’s what I’ve been working on. Tied in with that, it’s worth noting that this month is November, AKA Nanowrimo month! Nanowrimo, for those of you not familiar with it, is a yearly writing challenge given to aspiring novelists to sit down and write a short novel in a month, a total of 50,000 words across November’s 30 days.

Nanowrimo has gotten quite popular over the years, even among some authors that struggle to output more than a few thousand words a month using it as a catalyst to finally finish a book project.

This year? Nanowrimo has kicked off again. Now, I don’t participate in Nanowrimo. I’m a successful author who churns out books, and have a daily wordcount of 3000-4000 words. It’d be both redundant and, I feel, a little pretentious (and perhaps demoralizing) to those entering Nanowrimo who do find it a struggle to hit the given quotas to see someone whose literal job it is to put words on a page shattering a goal they themselves may struggle with because they’re trying to interspace it between whatever jobs they’re bouncing between.

Maybe I’m wrong? I don’t know, but it feels a bit fair because at it’s core, Nanowrimo is for (at least according to what I can see online) young writers trying to finish their first book.

I’m not saying I don’t support it. I do—and in fact, I want to know how many of you, readers, are participating and how it’s going so far? Comment below!—but rather that I don’t enter under the exact same logic that Kramer uses in Seinfield to join a junior karate class. Just … you know … not the same aim?

Now, if you’ve never entered Nanowrimo before but have always wanted to push yourself to finish up, or even start, a novel, then maybe this should be the year? We’re only a few days into November, so there’s still time to catch up! 50,000 works written by November 30th! You can do it!

And if you’ve decided to give it a shot, let us all know in the comments below!

Now, onto other news! We’ve got the holidays coming up!

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Next Week

Hey folks. Do you know what happens next week?

After months of work, I get to close the draft for Starforge. Because today? Today I was working on the epilogue. That’s right. The last chapter is over and done. The final battle, from start to finish (and I count start as the moment it engages, not the prelude) weighed in at 68,000 words. The draft right now is sitting at about 493,000 words.

And it’s almost done. Which … is good. I’ve barely done anything but write, exercise, and then relax these last few weeks. Starforge has taken over almost everything. Including the usual posts on the site, save Being a Better Writer.

But it’s been worth it. Monday, maybe Tuesday … Starforge will be done. I’m writing the closing moments. The characters are taking their bows. The last few bits and pieces are being wrapped up in an ending that, hopefully, feels earned.

And I am tired. My brain feels worn out. This draft is almost half a million words, and I wrote it in less time than it took to write Jungle. I’m really looking forward to taking a break for a few days and then writing an non-UNSEC story for a bit.

But it’s basically there. Sands, I might just finish it tomorrow and sacrifice the weekend just to be done.

Because it’ll be worth it.

So again, sorry for the lack of other posts this week. But this titan is almost done.

Unexpected Sick Day (and Other News)

So today, my expected plan was to get up, climb out of bed, write a quick news post, and then get back to work on Starforge, which I’ve got awesome news about below. I was all ready to go.

And then last night my throat started to feel off. Which, combined with what I’m pretty sure is a tension headache, led to this morning, or rather, today I noon, when I woke up at 12:30 with my throat saying “Yup, it’s a biological war in there.” I’m tired, and a little achy, and feel like one of my sinuses is having some issues. This might have had something to do with my insistence on biking outside despite the 100+ degree heatwave we’re under pushing me past a healthy edge, but … Anyway.

So … today might be a sick day. I seem to be writing in a somewhat readable form here, so I still may give it a shot, because I need to get this story done, but I’m not quite foolish enough to think that I shouldn’t watch things carefully, and if it’s not looking good, stop for the day and rest.


Which is a shame, because yesterday I did some calculations, and Starforge is only six or seven chapters from THE END. That’s right, the draft is almost done. Now, these are going to be decently lengthy chapters, I expect, as there’s a lot going on, but …

Yeah, rejoice! The end is almost here! I mean, it’ll still be a while yet before the last book of the trilogy is out, but the first draft is almost done!

It’s going to be another titan, too. Right now, the current draft is 424,000 words long. Given that there are still a few lengthy chapters to go, the first draft will likely end up around the same length as Jungle. Editing may change that, but that’s what it’s looking like right now.

Plus today … Oh today was going to be awesome. Fleet engagements, twists that were foreshadowed a whole book ago, chaos and explosions as spaceships blow one another into smoldering, atmo-venting wrecks … Yeah, it was going to be neat.

I hope I can get some of that done today, but … Bleh. Even this is making me feel more off.

On the plus side, I’m only 11,000 words shy of my monthly quota. I have been tearing it up the last few weeks. So having a day off wouldn’t be that bad an impact on my progress.

I was just really looking forward to smashing these fleets together, you know?


All right, so that’s the Starforge news. In other news, I screwed up the Patreon Supporter vote, so there’s still another week to go with that one. Oops. Those supporters who haven’t voted yet, there’s still a chance!

Oh, and both Colony and Axtara were the recipients of a couple of new five-star reviews this last weekend! Glad to see them still garnering awesomely positive attention! Now, if they could get even more of it …

Bleh. I’m going to go write about spaceships hitting other spaceships (maybe literally, maybe not), or at least try to. Wish me luck, leave a review for Colony or Axtara if you haven’t yet, and stay cool and healthy in this shimmering heat-wave we’ve got going!

Managing Marketing

Hello readers! Max here with a short news post. Nothing big. Mostly just updates, starting with the big one on everyone’s mind: What’s going on with Starforge?

Work, actually! Joking aside, progress on Starforge continues forward. Returning from my vacation, I’ve taken some time to tighten up (read: rewrite) the last quarter that I was working on, and progress over the last few days has been in the high-quota range. If things continue at their current pace, I could see the first draft being done by the end of this month.

About time, too, I know. Speaking of which, I really want to get back to it (things are happening) so this is going to be a short post.


What else is up? Well, I spent a good chunk of today rebuilding and restructuring a lot of my advertising. Advertising for Axtara has done really well, so I spent some additional time working on that and adding a keyword search set to it to see how that performs, as well as going back and building a new advertising campaign for Colony based on its most successful keywords, plus a few new ones.

Hopefully, this will be part of the process that tips me over the knife edge I’ve been balanced on over the twenty and eighty percent. For those who are not in the know, about eighty percent of authors never make enough off of their writing to live, and therefor have a second job. A number which is thankfully up due to indie publishing.

Anyway, I’m on the edge of being able to move from that eighty percent into the twenty percent. Have been for a while, and have just been looking/working for the push that puts me there. Maybe this advertising refinement will do the trick?


Let me see, what other news do I have to drop! Oh, I was interviewed by my hometown radio news station during my vacation (yes, my hometown has a public radio station still, a unique boon that most of the US no longer has, and I can wax on the societal implications/advantages of that for a while), talking about publishing, writing, and where Sci-Fi may go from here, among a few other things. I’ll be sure to let you all know as soon as the story goes live! I myself will be curious to see what gets cut from the 40-odd minutes we talked compared to what airs.


And in other news … I got nothing, actually. There’s some cut content from Starforge that’ll probably be coming to Patreon soon, Axtara got a few more five-star reviews, along with Jungle, and summer’s here, so I’m loving having my biking season back. And being back at work with Starforge‘s draft whizzing along.

Speaking of which, I’m going to get back to that now. These battles aren’t going to write themselves! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Starforge is One Massive Step Closer to Completion (And Other News)

Readers, I have good news: Yesterday, I finished Part Three (out of four total) of Starforge. Finishing out a colossal 56,000 words across three chapters, I laid down the final words of that portion of the draft, and started the section heading for “Interlude 3.”

Which means … Okay, will it actually means a bunch of things. First of all, it means that Starforge‘s draft progress on the “Current Projects” tab is now at 80%, and the total wordcount at 377,000. Now 50k more than Colony, but still almost 79k less than Jungle (which was an absolute unit of a story, and yet at the same time flew by for many).

Second, it means that I need a small break. Today I’ll work on Interlude 3 a little bit, but since I’ve almost hit my monthly quota (I’m just a few hundred words away) I don’t feel the need to stress out about it.

Which is good. The last few months have been very stressful, and Starforge is part of that. Though in fairness, I started working on it officially last July off-and-on between editing on Axtara, and then fully in October. which mean much of its 377,000 word current length has been written in just seven-months. On par for the same speed with Colony, I might note (which was written in six, but was also 50k shorter).

The end is coming, readers. All that’s left is that last 20%. And with that, let’s talk about some other news since we’re all here anyway!

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Weekly Update: It’s Full of Stars and Lovecraftian Monsters – Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey readers! I’ve decided that, at least of the foreseeable future, this Wednesday night update will be a regular feature. A progress report, and a little bit of news!

So, first up, let’s talk Axtara – Banking and Finance. I appears I’ve found a cover artist at last! Good news, I know. With that finally happening, that means I can aim at December release! Ebook first, paperback ASAP (but hopefully before Christmas, for all you book-givers out there).

Excited! I am. Axtara was an absolute joy to write, and I can’t wait for all of you to meet her at long last. Keep watch on things, because there’s going to be more news coming!


Now onto Starforge. As of today, the first draft is sitting at 177,000 words. And I’d say I’m about halfway through the second quarter, so … 37.5% or so. Roughly.

This is the “stars and lovecraftian horrors” of the title by the way. Though the All are easily a more tangible “eat your face off” sort of horror as well. They’re just kind of lovecraftian in their scope.

This book is shaping up to be awesome though, It just keeps picking up speed.

All right, that’s the update. There is some news from the book industry I want to mention, but I’ll put it after the jump. Hit it if you’re curious, otherwise, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Weekly Update

Short and sweet here guys. I’m still pretty tired. And was tested for Covid-19 last night so … yeah. 72 hours until the results come back. Only symptoms fatigue (a lot of it) and the occasional light headache.

But enough of that. Book updates!

Starforge is now at 163,500 words. I’m running a little slow right now, just doing 2,000 a day instead of 3,000-4,000 and I’m tired through it, but I can’t stop. This story is too important.

Axtara updates: I am still trying to find someone to do a cover. Most artists I’ve tried to contact are either busy or not doing art right now because of what I’m guessing are Covid-19 related issues. If any of you readers know of anyone who can do art like this and is looking for commission work, let me know.

That’s it for today. Tired now. Going to rest for a bit.