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Writing in Ice

January 24, 2014

Announcing Book Three of the Planetary Union series: Shrapnel, now available on Amazon and Smashwords.

Those who know me in real life know that I’m a fan of this one series that has to do with trekking through the stars. To me, it’s always been about hope and exploration, with an emphasis on wide-eyed wonder in spite of the worst that the universe can throw. It’s also about a sexy crew that’s part of a wide, sprawling organizations…why on earth WOULDN’T they have something like the Recreation-Class ships?

Anyway, the Planetary Union books are a pure joy for me to write because I get to visit my own universe that’s a little like that one. My goal is to write sci-fi that also happens to include sex, preferably as a natural outgrowth of the situations faced by a multi-species crew that’s there to help others blow off steam in the most enjoyable ways possible.

…not that I’m concentrating entirely on the Union. I’m currently editing another Aegis story (not popular, but again…I love them). It ended up being a combination story: focus on Venus and his/her relationship with his/her new girlfriend Dynamiss, and a knock-down drag-out brawl between a team of super villains and the heroes of Aegis. I also have another Gender-Switch/Breast-Expansion bit of fluff planned. That’s what I’m writing next.

Finally, I’m still at work editing my urban fantasy serial. It’s seven parts long, each of which is about 45 pages. So out of that 315 pages, I’ve gotten through about 120 of them in the first sweep. It’s intimidating as hell, because I’ve never tried editing anything of this scope before. Thank heavens for Stephen King’s book On Writing; it has rather a good, simple set of signposts for a writer who’s going to edit his or her books. If you’re a writer and you haven’t read that yet…God, WHY?

Checking my work:

Finished editing book three of Planetary Union. Started work on the GS/BE story tentatively titled “Jiggle Physics.” Hard at work editing my urban fantasy. Partridge. Pear tree.

2013 In Review

January 3, 2014

SO the resolutions were to write every day, post here once a week, and get some stories out. The first one went…well, I’ll say about 90% well. The second one went GREAT, as fans of this blog can attest. Stories got out.

Why haven’t I been posting? At first it was life. I had a lot of things going on, things being planned, things happening and throwing me off-balance. When life stabilized, it was inertia. I’m afraid that I’m quite prone to not doing things if they’re not right in front of me, and I’m horrible about procrastinating. Wonderful traits for someone who wants to be in the public eye, hmm? Yet there we have it. Still, new year, so it’s a good time to get back on the horse with this blog and Twitter both.

That’s the secret, by the way. Just because you haven’t done something for a while, it feels like you can’t anymore. That’s bullshit. You just do it. Writing in particular, by the by. Exercising too, though you need to build back up to your previous levels and consult a doctor.  >.>

No reason.

Writing levels for the year! The initial goal was Between 1000-3000 a day, preferably closer to the 3000 mark. This would have left me with 365,000-1,095,000 words at the end of the year. Let’s see how Max did!

January: 45112. Average 1455/day.

February: 37121. 1326/day.

March: 63649. 2053/day.

April: 51,105. 1704/day.

May: 52,101. 1681/day.

June: 25,165. 839/day.

July: 23,910. 771/day.

Aug: 36,044. 1163/day.

Sep: 43,640. 1455/day.

Oct: 27,750. 895/day.

Nov: 60,052. 2002/day.

Dec: 34,170. 1102/day.

Total for the year: 500,819. That’s 1372 words/day on average. So that’s on the low end of the goal, and the only place to go is up!

A few notes: Yay for NaNoWriMo. My goal was actually higher than this, but I did my 50,000 words for the competition and another 10k for a side story, so I’m gonna call it a win*.

*: In all honesty, I didn’t actually finish. I wrote the final TWO parts of a seven-part series, each of them around 25k, to finish the 50k for the month. Since it’s a competition against myself more than anyone else, I consider it a solid win. The seven-part series is an urban fantasy which will be published under my real name. I’m excited and scared about it at the same time.

December’s count fell off thanks to a major ice storm that came through and knocked out our power for about a week. That power included our heat, so we basically spent a few days huddling under blankets with increasingly annoyed cats. They were not good writing conditions.

Okay, speaking of good writing conditions…it appears that Amazon is up to its old book-hiding tricks again. People have a hard time finding my stories unless looking specifically for them, which sorta cuts into my sales. This is why I’m branching out into NON-smut like my urban fantasy. I’m also experimenting with things like sci-fi that also includes sex under Maxwell Avoi, like my Planetary Union series.

I’ve put out a lot of stories, and my income is far below what it was when I half the stories up. I’m aware that part of that might be because I seemed to have abandoned this blog and my Twitter, and that’s totally on me. There are also new people joining me in the niche that is gender-swap fiction, which is awesome. Welcome! The professional part of me growls a little, since it scatters the money, but again that’s more my fault than anyone’s. I want to be clear: I’m very glad to have others here with me. Welcome again, and I look forward to writing next to you.

Currently editing: Book 3 of Planetary Union, followed by another Aegis story. I’m also plowing through the 300+ pages of my urban fantasy, which actually is a lot better than I remember it being. It’s good enough that I not only don’t hate it, I catch myself laughing from time to time.

Currently writing: The last book in the Staying In Vegas series. Things get weird.

Thanks for sticking with me, those who have. To those finding this blog for the first time, hi! I’m Max. I like big boobs and gender swapping fiction. I plan to be better about posting. See you soon!

So February happened…

March 18, 2013

The second of my three New Year’s resolutions was to post more regularly in this blog. Once a week, I think the song went, and on Mondays.

Yes. Well. How are your resolutions going?

Anyway! Outside of that one I’m doing pretty well. I have kept a consistent word count of at least 1000 a day, which is a minor miracle for me. Yesterday I did 700 and then was called away from the keyboard for several hours, and I got jittery. I’ve actually been doing over 3000 a day pretty often this month.

But this post is about my work in February! Since there were 28 days in the month, I had a goal of 84,000 words with a minimum of 28,000. I did 37,121, which is slightly above the minimum and well below NaNoWriMo levels. Still, went pretty well. During February I published The Valentine War and Rachel’s Expansion, plus another one under a different pen name. So I hit the minimum there, too.

Sales were down. They’ve been down for a while. I suspect it has something to do with me posting stuff under the other pen name, along with posting either seasonal or non-TG stories. Rachel’s Expansion was an experiment, actually…a friend of mine suggested doing an inflation story, and since I like that fetish as well I agreed. It’s selling okay, but since it’s not a TG story I suspect it’s having a hard time finding traction under the Avoi name. The Valentine War is seasonal, of course, which doesn’t necessarily kill a story but makes it a little harder to sell outside of the season in question. Also, it’s done for laughs, which seems to offend some people. Apparently TG fucking is a srs bzns for some. Ah well, can’t win ’em all.

Just published Temporary Heroine, one of my longer stories, so I’m on track for this month (after publishing book 2 in the Staying in Vegas series, Raising the Stakes). My longer stories seem to sell better; Breeder is one of my best sellers and certainly my best-reviewed. More bang(ing) for the buck, I suppose. Fine with me! I like the long stories.

Checking my work: Currently writing a reality-show-based TG story. I have something like six more ready to edit thanks to recent prolifity. I’m also editing a young-adult urban fantasy and writing a more grown-up urban fantasy along the way. Next story up will probably be either a spooky one about a hitchhiker or a more light-hearted one about (wait for it) quantum nanites. Because mad science is fun!

Carl’s Adult Books

February 2, 2013

I wanted to direct everyone’s attention to Carl’s Adult Books, a new site created and maintained by Carl East. Carl has been an erotica writer since the Bronze Age, and he’s created this site to promote both his and other writers’ books. He was nice enough to invite me to the site and now I can help repay that by spreading the word!

Go! Grab some erotica!

At least count, besides me and Carl, there were 14 other authors on there, each with around a dozen books listed and most with many more available. Now I’m gonna go write some more suggestive material about the Bronze Age. Cheers!

So much for January

February 1, 2013

Booya! EAT it, January!

So the time comes to see how well things have gone as far as New Year’s Resolutions. Have you kept yours? Actually, I seem to be doing pretty well.

1. Write 1000-3000 words a day, and don’t beat myself up if I don’t hit 3000. Here’s a fun fact: at no time this month did I hit 3000 words in one day. However, I managed to hit at least 1000 a day, and I came in at 45112. Not bad for one month. So, good enough for me.

2. Post regularly in this here blog. Um. Yeah. I said I did “pretty well,” not that I was perfect.

3. Post at least two stories a month. On the surface it looks like fail city, but the fact is that I posted one Avoi story and one story under a different, new pen name. So far that new story has sold precisely nothing. I don’t mean, “Oh, it sold a couple copies but not nearly as well as my established pen name.” I mean dick. However, I did put up two stories, so I’m calling it good.

So that went well. Now the question is whether I can keep it going! Well, we all know that I can, the question is whether I will. I have other, non-writing resolutions like “exercise four times a week” that are already showing dividends, so it’s easy to hit 1000 words before eight, eight-thirty and then sort of fuck around the rest of the day.

I should have made a non-around-fucking resolution. That thing would have been in shambles by the end of the first week, though, let’s not kid ourselves.

Checking my work:

Finished story two in my anonymous short story series. It’s different; it’s not like anything I usually write, not least of which is because men stay men and there’s no magic or mad science. I know, screw that, right? But it’s been fun enough to make part of my writing habits. I’ll probably keep gouging away, as Spider Jerusalem tells us.

Finished my Valentine story for the year. It’s a light-hearted thing about four gods and goddesses of love who get into a war in the middle of a mall, with humans as their pawns. Unlike the previously-mentioned story, men become women in this one. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.

Finished a 30,000-word story about some costume-contest entrants who get in over their heads, so that one’s in an editing bay on my computer. Similarly, story two in the “Staying in Vegas” series is awaiting its own wash and wax. Another story, the one I wrote under my real, actual name during NaNoWriMo, is currently in the unkind grip of Scrivener.

As far as Avoi stories, I’m currently writing a darker one, a take on a ghost story.

Heh. Generally I despise ghost stories and all mentions of Valentine’s Day. My muse obviously likes poking me with sharp sticks.

Writing Advice I Wish I’d Known

January 15, 2013

I’m reading this nice little ebook by Rachel Aaron called 2k to 10k, which is all about upping your daily word output. Great book on the subject, by the way. I mean come on, seriously good writing advice for $0.99? It’s a win all the way ’round, folks. Go buy it.

Toward the end, she puts up a few pieces of advice, and she says that she gets the question, “What advice do you have for first-time writers” quite a bit. Then she says something that I wish I could frikkin’ skywrite.

“THERE ARE NO WRITING POLICE.” Or, as she puts it a few paragraphs later, “If you have a book that you want to write, just write the damn thing.”

Don’t worry about trends. Don’t ever…EVER listen to someone who says that something “shouldn’t” be in a book, or that a story won’t sell, or that it “can’t” be about something. These are the naysayings of small-minded, scared people who can’t tell their own stories. Write YOUR story. It does not matter a DAMN bit if I’d like it or not; if you like it, it’s your piece of art, and others will pick up on your passion.

Uh, rant over.

Poor old worn-out 2012

December 31, 2012

Well, here we are at the end of 2012. I don’t know about you guys, but my adherence to my New Year’s resolutions was spotty at best. Ideally, since this was a leap year (surprisingly important when it comes to certain things), I should have written around 628,000 words. I wrote…rather less than that. However, I did pretty well overall. I just didn’t keep up with my personal goals.

Goals. Psh. Psh, I say.

We lost dad this year. That was a hard time. It still is. I’m sort of dreading the first half of the year, to be honest. We’re going to head out to California for the memorial service (mom insists on calling it a Celebration of Life service…you can hear the capitals when she talks about it) sometime in April. We’re going by train to a place I haven’t seen in…geez, around fifteen years. Last time I was there I was such a different person. Anyway, we miss dad and welcome the opportunity to lay his ashes to rest in the family plot out there.

In theory I have an invitation from a friend of mine to join her in Nawlins for Mardi Gras, but I don’t think I’m going to have the money to do that this time. I might try to scrape up the cash, who knows? Sales are…volatile, mostly ’cause I haven’t been posting stories as often as I should.

Which brings us to the New Years Resolutions portion of our show! I learned last year that Things Happen, so I’m going to make them a little looser than before.

1a. Write 3000/day. 1b. Write a minimum of 1000/day. 1c. Don’t beat myself up if I can’t do that.

2. Post in the frikkin’ blog, Max. For a while I was posting once a week on Mondays. I’d like to get back to that.

3. At least two stories a month. At. Least.

There. Poof.

Checking my work:

Still editing a couple of stories left over from NaNoWriMo, including the second in the “Staying in Vegas” trilogy. It’s pretty damn weird, y’all. Also editing the main story that I wrote for NaNo, a young-adult fantasy involving a smart heroine and some pixies. I’m using Scrivener for that, for the first time, so it’s an interesting experience.

Currently writing: another magical gender-change story, complete with escalations, cosplay, and other stuff. I’m also trying my hand at a bit more realistic fiction that will probably go under another name if it’s published at all. It’s present-tense and not like anything I’ve written before. We’ll see how it goes.

Have a wonderful 2013, guys. Treat other people as well as you can; you never know what they’re going through.

November kinda sucked.

December 4, 2012

Well, 90,000 was the goal for me. I ended with 62,043, approximately a third of which was smut. I ended with most of a novel and 3 short stories.

The reason I didn’t get to the initial goal was that about halfway through November, my father passed away. Some of you might recall that he had been sick for a while. A combination of leukemia, lymphoma, pneumonia, bronchitis, blood clots in his leg and simply being age 82 ganged up on him and simply wore him out. He was in no pain at the end (thank you, hospice care providers, for all you do), and he passed away in his home, in his sleep. My mom and I had a long time to come to terms with the fact that he wasn’t getting better, and while we’re still sad we’re not utterly devastated.

I know you guys sent a lot of kind thoughts our way, and I want to thank you for that. I’m glad to have taken part in NaNoWriMo this year; it’s quite possible that this was the only thing that kept me sane. Congrats to all you awesome winners, and here’s to next year being a better one.

General writing updates

October 29, 2012

I sat down and took a look at the numbers of words written since my hiatus from this blog, and it ain’t encouraging. Well. It’s not good, how about that. It is kind of encouraging, in fact, because it shows me exactly how far behind I’ve fallen and how much I need to step back up. Shame is not always a negative emotion.

April: Goal 50,000. Total 35448. Percentage 70.9%. That’s a C-minus.

May: Goal 54,000. Total 24285. Percentage 45%. F.

June: Goal 52,000. Total 37229. Percentage 71.6%. C-minus.

July: Goal 52,000. Total 26983. Percentage 51.9%. F.

August: Goal 50,000. Total 24892. Percentage 49.8%. F.

September: Goal 50,000. Total 18637. Percentage 37.3%. Super F.

You know, that’s one way to look at it, and as far as negative motivation goes it’s not a bad one. However, there are other ways. The way I’m looking at things is that I wrote 167,474 words in that time. If I followed that pattern, I’d have twice that in a year, or around 335000. And the cool part about that is that I plan to do a hell of a lot better than I did. September was just shameful.

Side note: this year I plan to join in on National Novel-Writing Month for the first time in a couple years. I have a fantasy that I plan to write at the rate of 2000 words/day…and I also plan to keep up the smut at the rate of 1000 words/day at the same time. That’s 3000 words a day for the whole month, leaving me with 90,000 words at the end. To put it in perspective of the other numbers up there, the original goal for November according to my new year’s resolution would be 52,000 (and 90k would be 173%). To be honest, I’ll be happy with the 50,000 minimum for NaNoWriMo and another 25k for the smut, but this event is all about pushing yourself!

So booya. Cheers!

Actual Writing Stuff

October 22, 2012

I want to thank everyone for the kind words and thoughts about my dad. He’s steadily improving, but it’s a slow process.

And now for something completely different.

My writing has been…well, not sporadic, but certainly not as regular as I planned for it to be at the beginning of the year. I vowed to write 2000 words a day and have TOTALLY blown that. Some of it was the chaos from dad’s illness and some of it was purely burnout. I’m prone to that; once I get going on something and achieve a bit of success at it, something in my brain clicks off and I lose interest.

This is what is known as “a bad thing” for any kind of business that requires constant sustained effort. Like writing, say. In May I don’t think I posted anything. I wrote some, but didn’t put any stories out at all. Since then I’ve been better, posting two or three stories a month, but that May is still this sort of gaping failure that looms a bit in my mind. I’ve let it push me back into writing more, but I’m still not often up to 2000/day.

I plan to change this in November. I’ve enjoyed being a part of National Novel-Writing Month in years past, and I think it’s just the right thing to get my butt back in gear. The plan is to write 2000/day on my NaNovel and then another 1000 or so on smut. That’s 90,000 words in November, which should give me plenty to edit by December. If I feel myself burning out or getting complacent again, then screw all that. No more burnouts for this writer.

A reader named Lily asked me a question that I hadn’t really considered before:

If you don’t mind my asking, do you notice a difference in sales between your longer works and shorter? And, is it better to write two 20k word novellas per month, or four 10k word shorts per month?

Appreciate the question, Lily. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that I have a hell of a lot of useful information for you. I’ll do what I can here.

The problem is that I’m pretty new when it comes to professional writing. We’re not quite to the one-and-a-half year anniversary of my first post to Amazon as Maxwell. What’s I’ve found, though, is that my writing gets better as I go. Generally speaking, yes, my longer works sell better. My recent novella-length story, Breeder, is about 38,500 words and sells very well compared to others. However, that could easily be because of the three five-star reviews that I’ve gotten for it on Amazon. I like to think I earned those reviews, and it’s one of my personal favorites of my stories, but there’s no doubt that stars sell books.

My short-story collections sell fairly well, with Variations (two five-star reviews, 52,500 words) being the strongest seller. That might be because they’re a bargain. Most of the stories in those collections are 2.99 apiece. I bundle them together and sell the bundles for 4.99, and I’m probably going to raise that to 5.99 fairly soon. That said, my biggest collection, Multiple Variations (98,300 words, no reviews) is a low seller at 8.99. High price? Unappealing cover? People already own the stories? I’m not sure. Either way, I’m gonna make another set of bundles here fairly soon, and we’ll see how those go.

Short answer, I suppose, is that I tend to see more sales from my longer stories…as long as they’re well-received and there are some good reviews. Some of my recent ones are longer, but I’ve become better at writing as I go, too, so that’s probably a factor.

Um. Not to be arrogant or anything here. I go back over some of my early stuff and wince. I HAVE to be better than I was.

Okay, second question! If you are just starting out, and have nothing or very little available in the marketplace, I would focus on the shorter stories for now. This will allow your fans to find additional works by you if they like your stories and do a search for more. It also allows you to create bundles more quickly, which leads to more volume of available works for new fans to find. I’d give it a few months before taking some time out for the longer stuff, so you build some momentum. That said, if you think your novella is going to seriously win some awards or fans, hit it. This is just one guy’s opinion. Lily, I look forward to seeing you in print, even if it’s on my Kindle.

Checking my work:

Current story: Working on one about a voodoo tattoo. Political correctness ho!

Currently editing: Something that I honestly haven’t named yet (sci-fi body morphing deal), along with a book from yesteryear of NaNoWriMo that will be published under my actual name as an urban fantasy. Waiting in the wings is book two of Staying In Vegas.

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