Rise and Fall: Book One of the Blood and Tears Trilogy can be purchased from the following locations for only $2.99 in ebook form.


(Use Smashwords for your non-Kindle and Nook ereaders.)

If you do not have an ereader or a phone capable of acting as an ereader and are interested in reading the story, you can always download the Amazon Kindle application for your desktop or laptop and read it from your computer.

Rise and Fall will also be offered in print. However, I’m waiting to receive a proof copy before making this option available to the public. I’ll post here on my blog once it is finalized.

Here is a brief synopsis of the story:
An ill-prepared queen, a soft-hearted mercenary, and a crippled warrior struggle as a kingdom falls and an empire rises.

For years the High Mages of Cadonia have maintained an uneasy peace among the nobles disgruntled with the rule of the king. In the aftermath of a tragic event, Elyse, the king’s daughter, is thrust into a role she is not ready for. As queen, she must now determine who to trust while struggling to keep the kingdom from collapsing around her.

The Hell Patrol, a legendary mercenary outfit commanded by Jonrell, finds itself disenfranchised with their current employer. Recalling a promise he made over a decade ago, Jonrell breaks his contract in order to right the wrongs of his past.

On the continent of Hesh, the Blue Island Clan has long been ignored by its neighbors. Tobin, a warrior and son of the Clan’s ruler, struggles as an outcast as he watches his brother Kaz lead his father’s army to glory. Emboldened by a new friendship with a mysterious shaman, Tobin finds himself gaining the respect he always wanted.

An epic fantasy tale, Rise and Fall is the first book in the Blood and Tears Trilogy.

To read an excerpt of Rise and Fall (the first three chapters), click the “sample” button below. If you like the sample, consider giving the rest of the story a shot.



One last thing. If you like what you read, please leave me a comment below, shoot me an email at joshuapsimon.author@gmail.com, or leave me a review on the site where you purchased the book. I’d love to hear from you.

And most importantly spread the word by telling friends and family about the book! Another easy way to help me out is by clicking the “Like” button or “Share" button on the Amazon product page. Thanks!

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With the official release of my first novel Rise and Fall tomorrow, I wanted to take a few moments and look back on what it took to get this book published.

I first started writing around March of 2010. I got about 10,000 words into a story when I realized I didn’t have much of a story at all, just a mash up of scenes and characters with no clear path of where I wanted to go. I scraped most of what I had written and started working on the outline that later became Rise and Fall. The only things I saved from those first 10,000 words were half a scene I used in Chapter 2 of the book and several of the character/place names such as Kaz, Tobin, Jonrell, Bronn, and Elyse.

After spending a couple of weeks outlining, creating an ugly map, and doing some basic world-building, I started writing the book on April 27, 2010. Progress was really slow at first. Referencing my daily word count tracker, it took me about a month to write one of the early chapters.

Still, I wrote just about every day through the end of the year. Around that time, I went back and started revising the first 25 chapters to better solidify the ending based on some deviations from my original outline. I wrapped up the last few chapters of the book in the early part of this year.

Then I went through several revisions and around April 2011, I gave Leah a copy to read over. She made some recommendations which based on our discussions I then incorporated into my next round of edits. Then, rather than continuing with more edits, I decided to take a break from the book and wrote a few short stories that so far only family has read. I also wrote the first draft to Walk Through Fire, the prequel novella that will come out in April 2012.

I revisited the manuscript one more time with a fresh set of eyes (which helped tremendously) as I edited once more before Leah performed a line edit. Leah’s next pass helped me tighten things up greatly. Then the manuscript went off to betareaders and while they read the book, I outlined Divide and Conquer (the second book in the trilogy) and started working on that while also revising Walk through Fire, and securing an editor.

I got betareader comments back, made another pass through the book, and sent the manuscript off to my editor. I wrote Warleader while he went over the novel, worked more on Divide and Conquer, finalized cover art, and worked on marketing myself as a writer.

Next, I received comments back from my editor. Based on his suggestions I cut a bunch of stuff I didn’t need, added a few more scenes and information for clarity, all while tightening my prose.

After a very tiring yet satisfying year and seven months, it makes me very happy (and a bit nervous) to know my book is finally done.

Looking back, it’s surprising to see just how much I was able to do while working a full-time job and fulfilling my other responsibilities to both God and family. It’s also a bit daunting to think how much work there is to do in the next year and a half or so as I work to get everything else published in the Blood and Tears world (2 novellas and 2 books left to be published).

I guess it’s a good thing that I can get by on a little sleep!

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AC/DC is a band that epitomizes everything good about Rock & Roll. Amazing riffs, memorable solos, and vocal melodies that will have you singing along to their music in no time and lyrics that either get you pumped up or make you want to laugh. They’ve influenced just about everyone on some level and are one of the few bands whose members are still rocking as hard in their 50s/60s as they did in their 20s/30s.

Below are a few of my favorite songs by them. Most are live versions since AC/DC is a band that I personally think sounds better live than recorded.

Thunderstruck
One of the coolest intros ever to any song. Seeing this song performed in concert is amazing.


It’s A Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock And Roll)
A song that proved bagpipes had their place in Rock.


Ride On
A very underrated bluesy song…maybe the slowest song they’ve ever done.


Whole Lotta Rosie
This is my personal favorite. Unreal riff, awesome solo, killer lyrics, and an amazing vocal performance by Bon Scott. Just watch the clip.


So tell me, what are favorite AC/DC songs?

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For the previous posts in this series on my writing process, click on the links below.
Part 1 - Introductions
Part 2 - Ideas
Part 3 - Outlining
Part 4 - First Draft

Today's post addresses how I revise my manuscript.

Revisions are the never-ending process of taking that cruddy first draft and turning it into something you hope others will find great. For me, there are many different levels of revision. However, the first level starts with my own. Long before I ever allow even my wife to read my work (she gets first dibs), I revise the work several times myself.

In a perfect world, I would rather wait to start the revision process until I’m completely done with a first draft but sometimes, as drafts evolve, you realize that something you originally wrote isn’t working and it will cause a problem later. Granted, I could still fix the issue after completing a first draft, which I often do if the change is minor. However, if the change is something significant, I’ll stop my first draft and make the necessary revisions early on simply for my own peace of mind.

For this post, I’m going to assume that I was able to wait until the first draft is complete before starting to revise. So, my approach is to obviously go back to the first chapter and start reading the manuscript. At this stage, I’m cleaning up and correcting the biggest mistakes in my prose as I go along, but it is not yet my main focus. The story itself is still most important, so I’m trying to examine each scene, asking myself various questions. Is the story being told from the right POV character? Are the characters consistent and acting naturally? Do I adequately describe the setting? Is the plot moving forward? Is the pacing ok? And so on. Ultimately, I just want to make sure the scene doesn’t suck.

This second draft usually takes awhile as I’m cleaning up the first draft while examining the story, and not everything is as coherent as I feel it should be. Something else I also do at this time is take notes. I write down character or scene descriptions, bits of foreshadowing, and so on to make sure that I don’t drop a fact later on in the story that I needed to address.

The third draft involves a lot of jumping around. I’m looking at the notes I made earlier and addressing any inconsistencies while adding depth to the characters, world, and story. Often at this point, I am adding or cutting large pieces of texts or entire scenes to make sure the flow of the story is what it should be.

The fourth draft (and sometimes fifth and sixth) is read from the beginning again. This stage is to really clean up the prose before giving it to Leah to read. I’m still not analyzing every sentence just yet since I still know a lot can change. However, I want to make sure that the prose isn’t so bad that it distracts her from the story itself. I’ll usually extract all POV scenes by certain characters and read only those if I’m trying to work on consistency in their voices as well.

After completing this process, it’s time for the first alpha-read which I’ll discuss next time.

I would like to make one closing point. When writing Rise and Fall (ahem, scheduled for release on December 1), I had probably at least a dozen drafts before I even gave the story to Leah. However, I’ve written several things since then and as one would assume, my writing is much better than it had been. Therefore, it doesn’t take me quite as long to get it to a readable stage as it once did. Hopefully, I can cut down my drafts even more in the future.

How do you handle revisions?

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Today I will be continuing my series on What Makes a Great Story. Check out the last four installments below:
Openings - Part 1
Openings - Part 2
Description
Characters

"Plot" is a literary term defined as a series of events that make up a story, particularly as they relate to one another in a pattern, in a sequence, through cause and effect, or by coincidence. According to Aristotle, a plot must have a beginning, middle, and end, and the events of the plot must causally relate to one another as being either necessary or probable. From an author’s standpoint, you want those events to accomplish some sort of emotional affect on your readers.

Plotting is something that’s hard for me to explain as there isn’t any secret way to do it. I think the key thing to remember is that plotting must (not should) be logical. In my mind, you want to avoid the dreaded deux ex machina which means a problem is suddenly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object.

An example of deux ex machina is when Superman flies around the earth and turns back time in order to save Lois Lane at the end of the first Superman movie. One, the character has never had those sort of powers in the comics and two, even within the movie itself, there wasn’t any information that alluded to the character having those powers for the purpose of the story. In this case, the plot device actually raises more questions than answers. “Well why doesn’t he always turn back time?” “So, is Lois more important than the other thousands of people he didn’t save?”

Keeping that example in mind, an author must do a good job of following his own set of rules. Here’s an example. Let’s say you establish a character who is an intelligent person that plans and analyzes life in detail, always aware of his surroundings (e.g., Batman). Poor plotting would have Batman not notice a crucial piece of information that your entire audience can see a mile away. A writer needs to provide a solid reason why Batman didn’t notice the woman in disguise was really the Riddler. Was he drugged? In the middle of a fight? Despondent due to another Robin dying?

The reason I’m using characters as examples in a post about plotting is because the thoughts, motivations, and actions of your characters are what drive a plot. Let’s look at George RR Martin’s series, A Song of Ice and Fire. His plot has to be one of the more complicated I’ve ever read. With a cast of thousands, people are making decisions all the time that not only affect the people around them but also the people hundreds of miles away. All of these little decisions are your subplots which then need to tie back to your much larger general plot. Regardless of the mind-numbing plots and threads the series has, when you get down to it, the characters are what determine the next course of events.

Therefore, a great plot in any story is dependent on consistent characters who act according to the personality that has previously been established. Now, a character can change, but there needs to be a believable reason for doing so.

Within the plot discussion, there are two other smaller points I want to bring up. Going back to deux ex machina for a moment, the thing to remember is that any problem with an ‘improbable’ event can be resolved through the proper use of foreshadowing. I’ve heard some people mention that if you foreshadow something 3 times before it occurs, then you’ve properly prepared the reader for the event. Great storytellers are deft at dropping these clues without you ever knowing they did so. They place hints in casual conversation, subtle body movements, or even description.

The other thing to remember about plot is pacing. Even the best idea, and the best characters, coupled with a great plot twist at the end will suffer if your pacing is off. You want your reader to stay engaged so things need to happen. I’m not saying things should just be non-stop start to finish, though for certain genres that would work. But in a longer story, you want ups and downs. Those lulls allow the reader to better appreciate the highs. Just don’t wait too long without another high lest you lose the reader’s interest.

Everything mentioned above can be covered in one small sentence. Great storytellers tell great stories by using logic and common sense and following their own rules as they tell it.

What authors do you feel are masters of plotting?

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Most people in the Hard Rock/Heavy Metal world are familiar with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). The movement occurred back in the late 70s and early 80s when British heavy metal bands hit the US airwaves. Several bands made it big in the US as a result of the movement, most notably Iron Maiden.

A band part of the movement that for some reason never made it as big as they should have was Saxon. It’s hard to imagine why. Strong vocals, a big sound with great riffs/solos, consistent quality of music, and so on. I’m ashamed to admit that I was late in discovering them, only becoming a fan a few years ago. Since then, I’ve really fallen in love with their music as they represent all that is great about Hard Rock/Heavy Metal.

Here are a few of my favorites. Listen especially to the last track which is by far their biggest hit.

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747 (Strangers in the Night)


Live version of one of the heaviest riffs ever written – Wheels of Steel


One of the greatest Rock anthems – Denim and Leather

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This the fourth post in a series on my writing process. You can see the previous posts by clicking on the links below.

Part 1 - Introductions
Part 2 - Ideas
Part 3 - Outlining

Ok. So the outline is done. Now, it’s time for the fun part, right? I mean the creative process of the first draft is what writers live for. Well, yes and no. Although I enjoy the first draft, it is surprisingly not my favorite part of the process. The second draft is but I’ll get to that in a later post.

For me, the problem with a first draft is that I’m usually second guessing myself an awful lot as I go along and for some reason my brain struggles to concentrate on what is currently happening without looking back or ahead. Another problem I had early on while writing is I kept revising every sentence or paragraph to death. So much so, that I would spend several hours writing and then only have a couple hundred words to show for it.

Now, I generally average 800-1200 words an hour when writing new material, sometimes higher. So, what changed? I listened to a podcast by Kevin J. Anderson. On it, he gave a piece of writing advice I’ve taken to heart. His advice on a first draft is “Dare to be Bad.” What he meant is that you just need to write, and get the story out. You can always go back and fix things here and polish things there. But, if you never make it out of the first chapter, you’ve done nothing.

Now, I don’t try to suck, but I no longer agonize over every word like I did before…at least not at this stage. This change has helped me focus and more importantly my daily word count has increased dramatically. When writing new material now, I try to shoot for 1200-2000 words a day at a minimum. (On a side note, you’d be surprised that when you do work on that second draft, things are nowhere near as bad as you thought they were.)

Does this mean I never stop and edit? No. On occasion, if something in the plot is glaringly off and I think it will affect the story later on, I’ll make the change to the story early for peace of mind. The important thing is that I don’t stress over wording.

The first draft of any story I write is for me only. So, who cares if it sucks? It’s the final draft that truly matters!

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Today's post continues my series on who influences my writing. You can read my write up of the previous posts here on Robert E. Howard and here on Glen Cook.

George R. R. Martin is a man who has had his hands in several different areas of literature. He’s written short stories, novellas, standalone novels, series, screenplays, television scripts and pilots, etc. He’s written in the genres of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. On top of all of this he’s also edited many anthologies as well as the ongoing Wild Card series.

That being said, his most popular work is the Song of Ice and Fire series. It had already sold millions of copies before HBO decided to bring the work to TV. Now, it is even popular among those unfamiliar with the fantasy genre. However, within the science fiction/fantasy community you’ll find few who haven’t read something by George R. R. Martin. And most new authors in the last 15-20 years have cited him as one of their influences. He helped change the overall tone of the genre to something that more accurately reflects the real world, with various shades of gray rather than the standard black and white characters.

The Song of Ice and Fire series was actually the second fantasy series I read after making my way through several of Robert E. Howard’s books. I remembered reading Game of Thrones (the first book) and thinking to myself how insanely different it was than anything else I’ve ever read, regardless of genre. Though some his books are stronger than others, each one blows me away on some level. I’ve read each of the books twice at this point and actually enjoyed them more the second time around as you start to pick up on things cleverly foreshadowed very early in the series that didn’t pay off until much later.

Martin does many things well as a writer but two in particular stand out to me. One of these things is his genius at weaving a ridiculously complicated plot together while juggling hundreds of subplots within the overall narrative. Again, I appreciated it more on the second read through. The second thing and probably his greatest strength as a writer are his characters. Each Point of View’s voice is completely unique and the minor characters all feel just as real as the major characters. It really blows my mind the voice and personality he can impart on an individual with just a few sentences.

Now, the biggest knock on Martin is that he is a slow writer and on top of that takes on too many projects at once. Considering his last book was over 420,000 words, most of his fans are upset that he doesn’t focus all his effort on the Song of Ice and Fire series while putting aside the other projects until the series is complete.

I can see the point fans make but I guess I find solace in knowing that even if the series is never completed, the first few books are so good and influential, it’s worth it. How often do you hear someone say that a series without an ending is that good? Ha.

Here are a few snippets from his books:
A good act does not wash out the bad, nor a bad act the good. Each should have its own reward.

We hold to the belief that the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. If you would take a man's life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die.

The Sorrowful Men were an ancient sacred guild of assassins, so named because they always whispered, "I am so sorry" to their victims before they killed them. The Qartheen were nothing if not polite.

"Arya, what did you think to do with this . . . Needle? Who did you hope to skewer? Your sister? Septa Mordane? Do you know the first thing about sword fighting?"

All she could think of was the lesson Jon had given her. "Stick them with the pointy end," she blurted out.

"Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?" he heard his own voice saying, small and far away.

And his father's voice replied to him. "That is the only time a man can be brave."

“So many vows … they make you swear and swear. Defend the king. Obey the king. Keep his secrets. Do his bidding. Your life for his. But obey your father. Love your sister. Protect the innocent. Defend the weak. Respect the gods. Obey the laws. It’s too much. No matter what you do, you’re forsaking one vow or another.”

“I swear to you, sitting a throne is a thousand times harder than winning one.”

“People often claim to hunger for truth, but seldom like the taste when it's served up.”

“Every once in a very long while, Lord Tywin Lannister would actually threaten to smile; he never did, but the threat alone was terrible to behold.”

Unfortunately, those few snippets don’t do his writing justice. Just do yourself a favor, buy and read Game of Thrones. It’s worth your time and money.

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