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The July challenge

I want to start writing Translocator 3 on August 1st, the same day The Alien Element (Translocator 2) is published.

That gives me 42 days — the rest of June and  all of July — to do the following on the publishing side:

  • Format and publish a sci fi short story called Not Alone
  • Format and update The Auriga Project with a new cover and updated blurb
  • Format and publish The Alien Element with the cover I revealed yesterday
  • (And do all the associated marketing for this new stuff!)

But more importantly, that’s 42 days to do all this on the writing side:

  • Finish a cowriting project, a sci-fi novel that is halfway done
  • Write 4 post apocalyptic/sci-fi short stories for the collection whose working title is Boys and Their Monsters.

My 2017 goal to publish something new every month will be met if I can do all this in July.

If I keep some of the short stories on the shorter side (3-5k or even less as opposed to my typical 6-10k), this should be no problem. I typically average 1000 words a day. With 42 days, that’s 30k reserved for the novel and 12k left for four short stories. No problem. If I can hit the targets. ūüėõ

I’m going to focus, too, on cutting all distraction out of my productive writing time. I write every day as naturally as breathing, but I tend to be easily distracted. Breaking that habit won’t easy but I know it will worth doing.

Even if I’m late, I can still meet my one story per month goal. This was by design. Let’s say it takes me until mid August to get all that stuff done. Well, so what? I’ll still be left holding four new stories and a novel, enough for the rest of the year and then some. And enough time to write one more book to round out the Translocator Trilogy before the year is up.

* grins maniacally *

* cackles like a cartoon villain *

So that’s my July challenge. Can I do it? Or is it too much? I’m sharing this in the hopes that maybe you guys can help keep me accountable. Cheer from the sidelines every once in a while. Throw tomatoes. I won’t dance, but I’ll throw them back at you.

$0.99 cents on Kindle! The complete Tales of the Republic!

Hey everyone! Big sale this week.

All seven episodes of Tales of the Republic are now available as a complete novel. And until June 22nd, 2017, you can get the ebook for only $0.99 cents!

‚Üí Get your copy here!¬†‚Üź

If you buy the complete novel, you’ll also get all sorts of bonuses:

  • Commissioned character sketches of Ming, Ari, and Po
  • A commissioned sketch of the mech scene in Telerethon Square¬†from Episode 3: Perilous Journey
  • A¬†desktop wallpaper made from the book cover
  • And a¬†deleted scene from the novel that takes place in Episode 4: High Crimes (also related to the mechs, but from a new angle)

I hope you like all the bonuses, and the book. Both the ebook and¬†paperback can be found on Amazon.¬†It’s also in Kindle Unlimited,¬†so you can read free if you’re a subscriber to KU.

Teasers of the bonus art!

Now, let’s talk more about the goodies.

How do you get access to all this awesome art and the deleted scene? Simply purchase the ebook or the print book from Amazon, and find the SECRET LINK in the back of the book. That will take you to a page where you can download all the stuff you see below, but without the blackout bars on them.

Here’s a sneak peak of the loot…



About Tales of the Republic

What’s Tales of the Republic¬†about? I describe it as a sci-fi action thriller. It takes place in a speculative future somewhere in Asia, in a new country called The Republic of Enshi. Here’s the blurb and the cover if you want to learn¬†more about the story itself…

Tales of the Republic, a sci-fi action thrillerThe fate of the Republic of Enshi hinges on a genetically modified miracle‚ÄĒand three unlikely heroes.

Kai Ming, a troubled politician, is entrusted with the country’s only hope of ending the famine that decimated the population. Po Li, a scrappy farm girl, battles to be reunited with her sister after rebel insurgents tear them apart. And Ari Klokov, a soldier, wakes in an underground prison with strange biotech in his head and no memory of the last twelve years.

Thrown together in the chaos and united by a fierce love for their country, Ming, Ari, and Po have to cross the mad riots, outsmart the hawkish Senator Khan, and overcome Felix Hull and his tenacious rebels who wage war in the streets of the blasted city.

Learning to trust each other is a start, but it won‚Äôt be enough. Their resistance pits them against ruthless leaders on both sides who harbor designs on the halls of power. Ming, Ari, and Po need to stop them to survive, but every opportunity has a cost‚Äďand this one must be paid for in bodies and blood.


And some of my favorite reviews on the complete novel that have come in from early readers…

‚ÄúVivid worldbuilding with unexpected twists, great read.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Amazon Reviewer

‚ÄúAn enjoyable page turner. Character driven sci-fi with a female protagonist and interesting characters.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Amazon Reviewer

Some history, and a big thanks

If you’ve been¬†following me for a while, you may know that the first two episodes of¬†Tales of the Republic came out in 2014, and 2015‚ÄĒabout six months apart. I was dipping my toes into the indie publishing waters, and they were the first two things I ever published.

Episodes 3 Р7 were finally finished earlier this year, and the serialized publication was completed over the past few months.

Episode 7: Killer Cause completes the story, and concludes the events of the riot.

All together, I’m calling this version¬†the “complete novel” because¬†that’s what it is. I didn’t realize it back in 2014, but Episode 1 was really just the beginning of the journey. Now, I’ve come full circle. Tales is the first book I ever started (without knowing it), and I sense a certain pleasing symmetry in the universe knowing¬†that it’s now, at last, complete.

Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way‚ÄĒI really appreciate everyone who has followed along or bought the episodes as this story came into being.

I hope you like it, and that you grab it while it’s only a buck and enjoy¬†a whole bunch of bonus art while you’re there.

One last time… Get the book on Amazon for 99 cents while the sale lasts. It ends on June 22, 2017.

Words complete on Translocator 2!

Yes, it’s true! Yesterday afternoon I typed THE END on Translocator 2. Only two days past my ideal deadline of June 1st.

I drank an Old Fashioned to celebrate.

Here’s the word count tracker at THE END. Originally I thought the story would come to nearly 100k words! I’m relieved it got shorter the closer I got to the end, because I was running out of steam. Oddly enough, I made the same estimation mistake on The Auriga Project. Both books had 10k words chopped off their estimates during the draft‚ÄĒbasically as soon as I realized the end was too long and changed up the outline. I haven’t quite figured out why, but I’ve got some theories.


Now, I will give myself about 2 weeks to read through and make revisions. Two weeks, and no more. Then it goes out for editing. Once the edits are in, the book will go to my advanced reader group, and then will be for sale soon after.

So no official date yet. This summer, hopefully.

A few more stats for the word nerds…

First draft by the numbers

88255 total words – my original target was 98k.

90 days total – 14 days outlining and 76 days writing

1,161 average words per writing day Рthis includes several days I skipped (3-5 days?), and several days when I only managed 500 words. Most days I could hit 1k-2k with a couple hours of effort. My best day was over 3,000 words.

This is the fastest novel I’ve ever written by 6-8 months.¬†I give you a range there because I didn’t keep precise track of my previous books.¬†The Auriga Project (Translocator 1)¬†took about 14 months from start to publication and Tales of the Republic took 2.5 years with a long break in the middle (to write TAP and Scrivener Superpowers).

T2¬†is the longest novel¬†I’ve ever written by about 3,000 words. (The Auriga Project is about 50,000 words.¬†Tales of the Republic is about 85,000 words.)

I knock on wood as I type this ( *knock knock* ) but hopefully Translocator 2 will also be the novel that has taken the fewest revisions.

Maybe I’ll write up a post on what I learned writing this book. There are so many good lessons, and I should capture them at least for my own benefit, looking back at some undetermined point in the future. But the one thing I want to say now is that my experience with this book so far proves to me how far I have come since I started publishing my fiction 2.5 years ago, in the fall of 2014. I’m a better, more confident storyteller now than I’ve ever been.

Here’s to many more novels to come!


Today is my break. I finished The¬†City and the Stars by Arthur C Clarke and read more from The Atlantis Gene¬†by AG Riddle (I’m about halfway through). I was productive around the house, and hung out with Shelly while sporadic thunderstorms drifted over Austin. A wonderfully slow and relaxing day.

I’ll probably crack into the revisions next. Now that I’ve written this blog, I’m excited about the work again. It’s funny,¬†going back to the beginning is like experiencing the book for the first time. I’ve already forgotten some of what I wrote in the first parts, and I’ll have my editor/reader glasses on now.

How fun. It will be just like reading a new book by another author. Except the author is past Matt. Recent past Matt. What was he thinking? What does he care most about? I guess I’m about to find out.

How Not to Stay in Vegas

I just contributed a snippet to a collaborative fiction project called How Not to Stay in Vegas, a story that started on Facebook,¬†of all places. Well, that’s probably not uncommon. Writers are introverts. They don’t leave their house, do they? I haven’t left my house in two days. Okay, a week. Actually, all my social interaction happens on Facebook. Get off my lawn. Wait, how’d you get inside?¬†Stop messing with the blinds!¬†Oh, god, is that sunlight? It burns¬†my eyes. It burns! It BURNS I TELL YOU

*shoves you out*

*draws blackout curtains*

*withdraws into fortress of solitude*

Okay, you know what, I’ve gotten off track. I just wanted to thank¬†Burt Walker and Jim Goodman for shepherding¬†the experiment, and wish them¬†luck because getting a writers to do anything on time or in an orderly fashion or with other people can be hazardous to your health.lasvegas.jpg

The race with time

I can’t believe it’s the end of May already. It seems as if time¬†itself¬†has¬†raced¬†past me this year.

There’s so much I want to accomplish and do before the year’s end. Books and client projects‚ÄĒand what I guess I’ll lump together and call¬†LIFE STUFF‚ÄĒall competing for my¬†attention. Sometimes different stories even compete for the writing¬†time I have¬†set aside.

But I’m trying to stay focused. Most of my writing time has been¬†devoted to¬†Translocator 2. When I get restless I write these blogs and plan the launch of the Tales of the Republic complete novel‚ÄĒwhich happens on¬†June 13th¬†by the way. *HINT HINT*

Translocator 2 has until June 17th to fully bake, though. And, I actually feel pretty good about it right now! This is weird for me. I’m taking it this confidence as a trust in the process and the work I have yet to do. Also, it helps that since I rejigged the ending‚ÄĒI’m¬†pretty sure‚ÄĒ¬†mostly sure‚ÄĒlike nearly 99% sure it’s going to come in significantly shorter than I had expected. This is great. To be blunt, less¬†words = less work.

And that means less time I have to spend on it. Amen.

I’m at 83,000 words with three chapters of grand finale and three chapters of resolution left to go.


I lowered the goal to 94k, but I’m actually thinking, maybe 90k? Maybe less? Either way, I’m just winging it from here.

I am less than a week from WORDS COMPLETE. Home stretch, baby!

After that, I have until June 17¬†to¬†read through and tidy up. I’ve got to revise a few scenes because their first drafts missed the mark, but mostly just tighten and smooth out the prose, and fix errors and inconsistencies.

After the Tales complete novel launch in June, I’ve been thinking about lining up some snippets from the unedited version of Translocator 2 to¬†share. That will be fun.

Yesterday was interesting…

Yesterday I realized I’m actually farther into¬†Translocator 2 than I thought I was.

My 98k goal was probably wrong? (That’s a question because I am not sure of anything.) But it doesn’t matter anymore?

This is awkward.

I talked it through with some writers I trust and decided to break up with my plot for the ending. It actually won’t change things that much. Just need to rejig the ending, plant a few clues earlier on, and sprinkle them throughout the book. I’ve been working on revising the outline of the last few chapters most of this¬†morning.

It’s super fast-paced now. I finally¬†feel close to the ending, and confident in carrying on even though I know there are some things that need to be fixed in the first half of the book.

That’s the funny thing about writing a novel. It’s too much to hold in my head at once, so I rely on my instincts. Over the past two weeks, my instincts were right to be telling me that something felt wrong up ahead.

Now I can see why.

The rejig necessitated some research, which I’ll share with you soon. It’s about the possibility of a lunar nuclear reactor. For me, fun stuff.

OK, that’s it for now, time to get typing.


An update on Translocator 2 and some perspective

Still don’t have a proper¬†title for this book yet, but I’m only 11 chapters away from the end of Translocator 2, a science fiction thriller novel.

Okay, I’ve got a few ideas for titles, but I haven’t decided. Still too much work to do.

I wrote 1400 words this morning with a couple writer friends and lots of coffee, and headphones with Ratatat cranked up. It felt like I had to break limbs to get the words on the page, but I had 1400 by 11am.

Then I took a break and came back home to write this blog.

Writing this book has been an interesting experience. In some ways I am breaking through walls and setting new personal records. Other days, I question myself and start to freak out, especially when the writing is hard or I get snagged on a plot or character issue. So I wanted take a step back and look at the big picture, and hopefully get some perspective.

If you like the nuts and bolts of this kind of work, you’ll find this interesting. The math is¬†where the insights are, so stick with me through the numbers.

Here are the original goals for Translocator 2.

Outline:  March 6th РMarch 19 (done and on schedule)

Write: March 20 – June 17th (Today is day 66. Only 24 days left.)

Words per day: 1,000 words per day target

Manuscript goal: 75k manuscript goal

A few days into the work, I realized the book was going to be much longer. The manuscript target shifted up to 98k.

No problem, I thought. Just write more per day.

So tried to do 1500 words per day. It’s been 66 days, and¬†my average words per day is 1,139. My low is 0 words per day, but my high is almost 3k. In my logs, I have half a dozen¬†or so days of 2500+ words. That’s incredible. I’ve never written this quickly.

I still fall¬†short some days. Like most¬†writers, I have a day job and a personal life, so some days I have less time to write than others. But I try to write every day, and only missed one or two days where I didn’t write at all on this project so far. And those off days were usually planned (i.e. a family vacation).

I figure if I get “words complete” (98k)¬†in early¬†June, that gives me enough time¬†to read¬†through and revise anything that sticks out or needs fixing up before sending it off for editing by my original June 17th deadline. Or before? We’ll see.

More words, same deadline. I can live with that.

Here’s what I’m working with today. To finish by June 1st, I need 2700 words per day.


That’ll be tough, but I think I can make it work. Maybe. If it¬†takes an extra day or two, that’s fine, too.¬†I’ll be happy to have another¬†finished novel either way. That’s big picture thinking.

For comparison, the first Translocator book, The Auriga Project took 14 months from start to finish. It was about 50k words.

Even if I’m a few days late at June 20th, that’s still less than 4 months and change (March 6 – June 17) for a 98k¬†word novel.

So how’s that for perspective?

Bonuses! Artwork! June 13th!

I accomplished a ton of writing and book marketing stuff today, so I am exhausted, but I’m not tired because my mind keeps revving on all the cool art and bonus material I’ve put together for the upcoming launch of the complete Tales of the Republic.

That’s all seven episodes collected into a 400+ page book. A dangerous adventure filled with resistance fighters and scheming politicians between two matte covers.

If you buy the book when it launches on June 13th, you’ll also get all this great stuff with it:

  • A mech sketch
  • Character sketches of Po, Ari, and Ming
  • A desktop wallpaper of the cover
  • A deleted scene from the book

I’m still looking for ARC (Advanced Review Copy) readers. If you like reading and reviewing books early, get at me.

Finally,¬†I’ll¬†being giving away signed paperbacks during launch week‚ÄĒmaybe a few other things.¬†So¬†keep an eye out! June 13th!

Strike while the iron is hot

My story board reminds me to strike while the iron is hot. It helps me keep published stories from this year, works in progress, and ideas at eye level. If I have a new one, I throw it up. The squares are sticky notes so they’re easy to fix and replace. Old ideas dry up and fall off. Placeholder titles grow stale and get replaced. 

The five on the right are new this year. Let’s see how many make it all the way over before 2017 cools off.