In Sickness and in Health

Sands and Storms, guys, I almost can’t believe how much I’ve been sick lately. Except I have to because I’m living through it. The little bout I had in October? Nothing compared to the last … two weeks. I swear I’ve caught every cold out there this season, one after the other, and cycled through them all. I think I’m on the last one: A chest cough that has knocked me down for a week and been the cause of much lack of sleep problems (though now that I can sleep, I’m catching up by, as I did today, sleeping until 2 PM).

The ultimate problem in all of this? I don’t write well when I’m sick. With the back-and-forth nature of the last few weeks I’ve had some good days and some bad days, but I’m likely to still come in a good 1/3 short of my monthly quota. For those of you wondering why that goes down … let’s just say all my Alpha and Beta readers can attest to what happens when I write with only a fraction of my normal brainpower. Things get bad. Fast.

Granted, my part-time job doesn’t help. They’re classic current US-job, which means you work if you’re sick or not. Oh, they might say at some point during the day “Why not see a doctor?” or something. But they’re paying low enough that seeing a doctor isn’t an option, and if you take a shift off? Well, that’s money you need, since their wages are low. To which you might say “Get another job!” but … it’s the modern world. Local businesses all know what their competitors are paying, so they all pay the same lowball number. Why compete when they can make everything just as appealing?

Unless you’re a manager. According to local data in my area, Managers make anywhere from 2 to 6 times as much as other employees. Curious that.

Anyway, not really sure what the point of this post is other that to say that I’m finally feeling better. Illness-wise, not job-wise. Job-wise I’m pretty sure that my company is an open-and-shut case for the current growing income inequality issues in America. But aside from that, I’m finally feeling a bit more alive and aware, so I’m going to try and finish up a chunk of Hunter/Hunted today and hopefully get things back on track. I really, really have not enjoyed all the crap getting in the way of my writing this year.

Anyway, with that in mind, I really need to get to it. Oh, but before I go, today is the last day in that week-long sale on my books. If you’ve been looking at one and sitting on the fence, now is the time to make your decision!

And with that, I’ve got writing to do!

“A Game of Stakes” Has Been Submitted! And Other News.

That’s it! As of a few minutes ago, A Game of Stakes has been sent out to the editor of the folks who asked for it. Thanks again to all you Alpha and Beta Readers, and as usual, when this gets published (either in the collection it’s been submitted for, or in More Unusual Events) I’ll make sure to ask how (and if) you want to be credited for all your help.

I’ll admit, I really enjoyed this one. It was just a fun story to write, and the characters and the faint inklings of the world were fun to play with too. I still do have to sit down and rewrite the original story that was going to be for the collection, which ended up being more of a novella length. That one I’ll likely publish separately (it’s been a while since I’ve done something like that) rather than stick into More Unusual Events since MUE is already going to have another novella length story in it. Two novellas in one “short” story collection is a bit much. I’ll get to that … maybe after the Halo novel submission. It’s just too good to let rest. I mean, the name is Axtara: Banking and Finance and the protagonist is a dragon. The original draft may have grown well past the scope of a short story, but as a novella? I think it’ll be a fun little adventure in economics, industry, and what happens when a young dragon moves to the edge of civilization with grand designs.

But I’m getting sidetracked. Point is, A Game of Stakes has now been sent in. Thank you everyone who helped with Alpha and Beta reading, and I’ll keep you guys updated.


Other news! Hunter/Hunted is about to enter Part three (the final part). I can see this being done early in December, or even the end of November if I get a few good writing sprints in. There is one specter hovering over it, however, and that’s the Christmas season. Long story short, Christmas means lots of hours available at my part-time job, and since hours are generally in short supply before Christmas, well … I kind of need the extra cash. I may be really limited with writing time in December.

Yeah, I know, the holiday season means working harder than the rest of the year. It’s just how things end up working out. It might mean a few delayed or missed Being a Better Writer posts, though, just so I can get Hunter/Hunted finished.


More news! Don’t fotget that a number of my books will be going on sale Thursday at midnight! Deeply on sale. Now’s the time to grab something if you’re tight on cash!


Okay, last bit of news: I’m only a few ratings away from cracking 100 ratings on Goodreads! My goal has been to surpass 100 by the end of the year, and as of right now, I’m only 14 away! If you have a Goodreads account and would like to help, well …


Anyway, that’s it for news. Thanksgiving is coming, along with a Black Friday sale, A Game of Stakes is in, and … Yeah, that’s pretty much it.

Time to get back to work on Hunter/Hunted.

Being a Better Writer: Self-Deceiving Characters

Hello readers! How was your weekend? Get any good reading in? I did. Working my way through Jack Campbell’s second Lost Fleet series, which has been good fun. Spoilers, but he has an interesting approach to alien life.

Anyway, there’s not much in the way of news (outside of the Beta Call for A Game of Stakes having gone out a couple of days ago, so check your inboxes) so we’re going to jump right to today’s topic. Which, by the way, is a companion piece to a Being a Better Writer post a month or so back on Ambiguous stories and characters.

See, over the course of that post it became clear that there was one aspect which needed its own time set aside. Sure, we can have a plot, events, or characters that is ambiguous or deceptive to the reader, and even to other characters through lack of information, the wrong information, or even the wrong position (all of which, if memory serves, came up in that other post), but what about a character who is ambiguous about things because they themselves refuse to acknowledge them. As in, well, the title today: A character that deliberately deceives themselves?

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Being a Better Writer: Blending Different Genres

Hey readers! Welcome back to the start of another week! I hope you all had a pretty good weekend! Mine went well. In fact, I’ve got some good news for you.

For starters, Frigid-Reviews asked me to do a special spotlight on how I worldbuild. You can find it over on their site, as well as a number of book reviews—including reviews for Shadow of an Empire and Colony!

Second, Unusual Events: A “Short” Story Collection is on sale today for 99 cents! This price will slowly climb back to the original price over the course of the week, so grab it while it’s cheap!

That’s it for news! Plus, there’s a lot for me to do today, so let’s just dive right in to today’s topic. This topic is … well, it’s a bit of a broad one. I’ve noticed that with these request topics things seem to go one of two ways, broad or extremely specific, so in the future I think I’ll scale back the amount of requests a little to hit some more traditional writing topics as well.

But that aside, this topic is a bit broad because the question behind it concerns genres and how to use them. Specifically, how to mix them together. To get even more specific, the initial question wanted to know how to mix genres that didn’t mesh together, but … Well, I disagree with that. Almost. But since I can’t explain that without a whole lot of other context …

Yeah, let’s just dive in.

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Being a Better Writer: Haters

The moment you create something worthwhile, someone out there in the world will start to hate you. I wish this wasn’t the truth. I wish I could say that people were always going to be rational and capable of thought, but that’s not how it is.

Welcome to Being a Better Writer, where this week we’re going to discuss one of the more asked-after topics since I’ve been writing BaBW, one which I only in the last year decided it was time to tackle. This doesn’t have much to do with the act of writing, but it is about dealing with what comes with it. And, I think, all other forms of art and expression.

Haters. It’s a topic many of you wanted to see. Well, today you do. So … let’s talk.

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No Being a Better Writer Article This Week

It’s Labor Day here in the US, and I’m taking the day off to relax for a little bit.

But while I do that, if you’re looking for writing advice this awesome day, have you looked into attending LTUE? Life, The Universe, and Everything, a writing-con unlike any other?

You should! Authors from all walks of life meet to talk about—what else—writing! Meet with editors, talk with famous authors, attend panels on everything from how to build a realistic medieval town to logistics through the ages, or women’s clothing in the victorian period, or …

Look, they cover a ton of stuff, and more besides! Art, gaming, even sculpture … but writing above all. The three day con is one of the best out there for old writers, young writers, and none-human writers alike. Come meet your favorite authors, get signatures, chat about all aspects of writing … It’s a blast!

And, best of all … it’s in February. Why is that good? Because you have plenty of time to get things squared away and come! Admission is cheap, the venue is awesome, and there’s always someone cool to go see or talk to!

Will I be attending this year? Of course. Panel calls haven’t been sent out yet, so I don’t know which ones I’ll be on yet, if any, but I’ll be there all the same.

Interested? Check it out!

News Post!

Afternoon folks! Max here with a news post! Just little odds and ends of news both local (ie, my news) and large (like say, Dragon Award voting). There’s no real order to this, just news as it comes.

So, first bit of news: Patreon Supporters! Tomorrow your ship comes in! This ties in with the second bit of news, but if you’re a Patreon Supporter, tomorrow around noon, I’d check Patreon for the August Monthly Reward. It’s going to be a good one.

Why? Well, yesterday I sat down and put my current project, Hunter/Hunted, on hold for a few days to tackle a second project. Got an e-mail a few weeks ago looking for short stories for an anthology set that comes out with a certain Writing Con each year, and the requests they had for what kind of stories they wanted got my brain ticking. I spent a few weeks coming up with a good plot, characters … You know, just letting it bubble in the back of my mind while I was at my part-time until I arrived at something I was really excited to work on, and well, since they do need it sooner rather than later and I’d just finished another chapter of Hunter/Hunted, I decided to take a quick break and write this story out.

It’s still unnamed, at the moment, though I’m bouncing some ideas around. And even if it does end up in this anthology, it’ll still be one of the first stories I’ve written for More Unusual Events: Another “Short” Story Collection. So don’t worry, it’ll show up at some point no matter what.

And for Patreon Supporters, part of it will tomorrow. I’m still writing it, of course, but part of the bonus of being a Patreon Supporter is getting an early look at things I’m working on, which tomorrow will be the first few thousand words (plus whatever I can get done today) of this story.

Right, so that’s two news things: Delays for Hunter/Hunted for a short story anthology, and the Patreon Reward for August. What other news do I have?

Well, here’s one. Tomorrow is the last day you can cast a vote for The Dragon Awards. Yup, August 31st is the final day! So if you want to cast your eye upon the nominations and vote for your favorite works, head over to that link and sign up for a ballot! The Dragon Awards is open to anyone who wishes to nominate, vote, or both. The more people do so, the better the award becomes! Plus, they don’t just do books; there’s board games, movies, and more in there! Take a look!

Okay, and final bit of news. Well, not really news, but more a recommendation for a place to hang out on the internet. Have you ever heard of suggestmeabook?

Your eyes don’t deceive you; it is just “suggest me a book” without spaces. Because web addresses don’t use spaces. Anyway, suggestmeabook is a Reddit subreddit that delivers exactly what its name suggest: Suggesting books. Folks show up and post that they’re looking for a book. It can be “I want something in this genre with these stipulations” or just “I really liked X book by this author, does anyone know of anything similar?” And posters on the sub can go in and recommend books that match up to what they’re looking for.

It’s actually a pretty sweet sub. I’ve found some good stuff being recommended that I’ve added to my library list just by browsing. If you’re looking for more books to read, or want something that’s like something else you’ve read but aren’t sure where to look, swing on over there and give them a try!  Fiction, non-fiction … they take it all!

Anyway, I’ve got writing to do. This has been the news!