Walk Through Fire - A Blood and Tears Novella can be purchased from Amazon.com for only $1.99 in ebook form. Just click the Amazon button below to go to the product page.

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

Here is a brief synopsis of the story:
Jonrell escaped from his previous life, leaving behind an unhappy existence of privilege and responsibility. Two years later, as a captain in the mercenary Hell Patrol, responsibility has found him again, whether building relationships in the chow line or saving lives on the battlefield. 
After completing their most recent contract, the Hell Patrol is looking forward to a long-deserved rest. But when a former employer conspires against them, many are thrust into new roles, including Jonrell. 
While on the run for their lives, Jonrell's skills are put to the test as he reins in the clashing personalities of the surviving Hell Patrol members. 
Walk Through Fire is a stand-alone novella of approximately 36,000 words. It is a prequel that takes place ten years prior to the events of the epic fantasy Rise and Fall: Book One of the Blood and Tears Trilogy. A free 9,000 word excerpt of Rise and Fall is included in the purchase of Walk Through Fire.

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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I recently concluded a series of posts about my writing process. In the series, I talk about the various stages of editing I go through to get the story where I want it to be. One of those posts discussed the importance of using an editor. Since I’m very happy with my editor, Joshua Essoe, I wanted to give him a chance to promote himself on my blog and have readers learn a little bit about writing from his perspective. Below is a quick interview we did via email. I hope you enjoy it, and if you’re a writer, please consider using Joshua in the future. You won’t regret it!

Q: Who is Joshua Essoe? Give us a bit of background about yourself.
A: I wasn't an army brat, but I moved more times growing up than any of my friends. The best of my childhood was spent tramping through the woods, scrambling up boulders the size of my house and building rafts from discarded pallets and found flotation. I attended four highschools, took classes from five colleges, and a friend recently told me that out of all the people he knew, I'd had more jobs than any of them. Most of the time I've worked for myself. I did art and book restoration for a decade, real estate for another, and I'm chipping away on that decade of editing now. Never did get a degree though.

Q: How did you get into editing? Is this something you always saw yourself doing?
A: Through writing. I was that guy who all my friends came to for a look at their writing or their paper. I've been editing since they discovered that not only would I read what they'd written, but I'd get excited about it with them. I pulled together writing groups, I created school newsletters, I wrote editorials. Funny thing was that it never occurred to me to try it for a living until a friend of mine, Moses Siregar III, asked if I'd be interested in editing his first novel, The Black God's War. After that I cultivated the chance to edit for David Farland and things took off from there.

Q: Do you have a job outside of editing?
A: I've worked very hard to get away from it. Being a real estate agent was a stop-gap, and I was quite successful at it for a while. But, as you can imagine, it's not quite what it used to be. I'd say I spend about ten hours a week at it now. The rest is devoted to editing.

Q: What are your qualifications as an editor? What experience do you have?
A: I've been editing and writing fiction for a quarter century. Does that sentence make me sound as old as it makes me feel? As a sampling, in the last six months or so I've edited eleven novels, three short stories, and a novelette; including manuscripts for New York Times bestseller, David Farland, and nebula award nominee, and Writers of the Future winner, Tom Crosshill. Every new project gets everything I've got. I think you can see the results of this through the generous and truly wonderful things my clients have written about my service.

Q: What genres do you feel qualified to edit?
A: What kind of fiction wouldn't I edit! Story is transcendent. It's about the ins and outs of character interactions; with one another, with their environment, with society, with government. Setting. Conflict. Try/fail cycles. Getting the movie running in your head.

That being said, I love me some epic fantasy, science fiction and horror. Zombies have a warm, gooey place in my heart.

Q: What types of editing services do you offer?
A: Comprehensive content and line editing. Sometimes, depending on the project and how awake I'm feeling, I'll offer to double up if an author really needs their MS done before I have availability in my schedule. I'll essentially work overtime after my regularly scheduled program has concluded for the day.

I also do a little publicity for my authors. I try to let people know about their books on my social networks and website, joshuaessoe.com. It's exciting stuff, so people should know about it!

Q: How do you approach editing a fresh manuscript?
A: Like a ninja. A ninja with a laptop and a timer. Or maybe a Jedi. . . . Yeah, a Jedi would totally beat a ninja. You can tell just by the capitalization.

Q: What are the three most common weaknesses/mistakes you see in your client’s writing?
A: Disregarding formatting, I'd say overuse of passive voice is easily the top gremlin. I'll soon have a blog about passive voice going up on my site. Confusing action sequences, and backwards descriptions that take you from the least important thing to the most important, instead of the other way around, tie for the second most common. Strangely, I think there is a lot of confusion about where and when to begin new paragraphs. That would probably be the next most common.

Q: What advice/tips would you give to new writers? What areas should they pay extra attention to?
A: As banal as it is, the most important advice I can give is that if this is your dream, if you sleep and breathe stories and start to shake when you can't write -- don't give up. One of my favorite quotes, from JA Konrath, I think, is: "There's a word for a writer who never gives up . . . published." A lot more can be said on this, but since I just got a wonderful guest blog post from Brad Torgersen for a collaborative site I'm a part of called fictorians.com, I'll direct you to that. It's a great read. I think Kevin J. Anderson cross-posted it to his site the other day.

More specifically, learn your craft. Read the books they say are important to read, do your research on technical aspects like formatting, take online classes on how to write query letters, go to seminars and workshops. Don't think that you don't need to learn these basics. You do. Meet your peers, make contacts, build your platform, you never know if that guy you roomed with once is going to be the next Dan Wells or Brandon Sanderson. Grow a thick skin, enjoy your rejections, they're your right of passage, and for God's sake, practice, practice, practice. This is not a sprint, so don't be the hare.

Q: I know you’re also a writer. How long have you been writing? What genres? Do you have any specific goals?
A: There's a story about a grasshopper named Dan and his herd of racing snails in some old box in my parent's house, I'm sure. I've always written fantasy and science fiction. As it turns out my first book will be a zombie novel. And it's going to be awesome. I just have to make time in the space between one breath and the next. Somewhere around the editing, the wife, the three cats, the embers of my real estate work, and the short stories for Writers of the Future. My third entry got an Honorable Mention, so after I got over the initial disappointment of not winning the Gold Award, I was pretty jazzed. I'd like to place in the competition before moving forward with writing, but you've got to seize your successes as they come.

Q: How do you juggle time spent on your writing with the rest of your life?
A: Like a tightrope walker at night with a guttering candle balanced on his head.
This is not as easy as it sounds.

Q: What are some of your favorite books/authors?
A: Okay, some current favorites off the top of my head. . . . I have a small man-crush on Brandon Sanderson, mum's the word. Loved the Mistborn series, and a couple years ago he helped me onto the next level in my editing. Rhiannon Frater and her As the World Dies zombie trilogy. I've read a crap-ton of zombie novels and hers really stand out above the slush. Anything Charlie Huston does is pretty much fantastic. And David Farland who has become a teacher and friend. His Runelords books are some of my favorites, but I discovered him way back in highschool when I read The Courtship of Princess Leia.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: My what?
Actually, many thanks to my wife who has made me take one day off every week. First person horror shooters are great--the scarier the better. I'm an award winning miniature painter. I hate running but love starting and finishing. In fact in the fall I hope to combine loves with Run for Your Life in SoCal. I love everything about climbing and sitting on the couch watching movies. Figure out how to combine those two and you'll have your perfect activity.

Q: For those who might be interested in your services, how can they contact you?
A: Check out my site: http://www.joshuaessoe.com. Send me an e-mail or find me on Facebook!

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Rocky is my favorite movie of all time and I like all the sequels made afterward (even Rocky V has its moments). Therefore, it isn’t surprising that one of my favorite songs all time is the theme song written by Bill Conti.

How can you listen to this song and watch these movies without wanting to go workout?


The next installment of my series on What Makes a Great Story is about romance. To see the previous posts in this series, check out these links:
Openings - Part 1
Openings - Part 2
Dialogue and Internal Thought

Romance is a topic I find difficult to both read and write about. It just isn’t what motivates my interest in a story. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t think romance can be an important element. I just prefer it not to be the main focus of the work. Therefore, it isn’t likely that you’ll see me reading or writing in the romance genre.

Here are a few things that are important for me to enjoy reading about a romantic element.
  • Great characters. A good character must make decisions that a “real” person would make under similar circumstances. Therefore, motivations and back story has to be properly conveyed to the reader. Don’t just stick two people together because you want them to be together. Give the reader reasons for doing so.
  • Don’t beat me over the head with how much the characters love each other. In other words, I really don’t want to read about people acting like thirteen-year olds—every moment together or apart is the most monumental thing to ever happen in their lives. In a way this goes back to the first point about great characters. To me, a good romance works when you show that characters have other interests than just the significant other.
  • A few sappy moments can be a good thing. Though I don’t want to be beaten over the head with cheesiness, a couple of touching moments are great. Even the toughest warrior can care about someone (think of the movie Braveheart and the fact that the love William Wallace has for his wife is what spurns him to start the uprising).
  • Conflict. Any story, including romance will be uninteresting unless you give it conflict. The conflict can come internally from the relationship or characters themselves. Or it can be external and come from a big event (like a war or murder) that affects the relationship of the two people.
  • Less is more when dealing with the personal emotions of the characters. Don’t overdo the touchy/lovey feelings (especially if told from a male’s POV). They need to be there, but a couple of impactful sentences will say far more than three pages of detail.

What do you think makes a good romance work?


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
Part 5 - Revisions
Part 6 - Alpha Reader
Part 7 - Beta Readers
Part 8 - Professional Editing

Ok, so I’m finally nearing the end. I’ve reviewed my editor’s comments and made the changes I agreed with and felt were necessary to improve the story and prose. I’ve even made a second pass through the text to ensure that all the changes didn’t disrupt the flow of the text. At this point, I’m ready for the final step. Proofreading.

Proofreading means that you’re simply checking for dropped words, unexplainable added words, odd spacing, consistent spelling with words that Microsoft won’t catch (very important in fantasy fiction…Ha), and so on.

In many ways, this is one of the worst parts of readying your novel for publication because it is REALLY boring. And, no matter how many times you read over the manuspcript, you’ll always miss something. I try to take solace in knowing I’m not the only one. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book whether independently published or traditionally published that didn’t have at least a few errors in it. Still, I want my work to look as professional as possible so I hate having people point out
mistakes in the text.

This is generally how proofreading works for me:
  • I print one copy out for Leah to read.
  • I read a copy on the laptop (sometimes aloud)
  • I make any corrections she and I find and give her the final file to format for publication.
  • I then publish the document and read the entire book again on my ereader. You’d be surprised how different it is to read something just by changing the format. When I read Rise and Fall after the initial publication, I think I found another 5 or 6 errors, give or take, that I quickly changed.
  • At that point, I upload the corrected file to all of the sites carrying the book and then I wash my hands of it.
    • That being said, if a reader discovered a major error or several errors I would fix it. However, if someone says they found one misspelled word on page 298 and that’s really it, I let it go. At some point you just have to move on.

In the grand scheme of things, I think I read and reread Rise and Fall close to 30 times. Despite all the hard work, I’m sure it could be better in some people’s eyes and that’s fine if they believe so. However, just imagine how bad it would be if I hadn’t done my best and spent thousands of hours working on it.

Well, I think that’s about it for this series of blog posts. Hopefully you got some insight into how I approach the writing process.


Ever wondered what Led Zepplin would sound like if they came out in the 1980s? Then listen to Badlands. I promise you won’t regret it. Unreal vocals, killer guitar work, and a solid rhythm section.

Here are a few of their singles.

Winters Call


The Last Time

Dreams in the Dark


The next installment of my series on What Makes a Great Story is about humor. To see the previous posts in this series, check out these links:
Openings - Part 1
Openings - Part 2
Dialogue and Internal Thought

Humor is a part of most stories whether intentional or not.

Some books like The Princess Bride or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy are purposefully written with humor as a primary element of the story. For example, here are a few by Douglas McAdams:
“He hoped and prayed that there wasn't an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn't an afterlife.”

“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”

“It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.”

And here are a few from William Goldman.
“Life isn't fair, it's just fairer than death, that's all.”

“I am your Prince and you will marry me," Humperdinck said.
Buttercup whispered, "I am your servant and I refuse."
"I am you Prince and you cannot refuse."
"I am your loyal servant and I just did."
"Refusal means death."
"Kill me then.”

People don't remember me. Really. It's not a paranoid thing; I just have this habit of slipping through memories. It doesn't bother me all that much, except I guess that's a lie; it does. For some reason, I test very high on forgettability.”

However, most fiction generally approaches humor in a much different manner. Similar to romance or action, authors treat humor as another tool when telling their story. The difficult thing about humor is that it must feel natural and not forced. From a writer’s standpoint, the harder you try to make something funny, the less humorous it tends to be.

For me, humor must fit not only the situation, but also the characters involved in the situation. I find adding humor later in a story is generally easier than including it early on since at that point each character’s personality and tendencies has been established. The character and story must be true to itself. A joke shouldn’t sound like it is coming from the author. It should sound like it came from the character. A hard-nosed killer with ice water in his veins better not suddenly tell his friend a fart joke unless you’ve somehow set the character up to work in that way long before he does it.

Some stories may not need humor and that’s fine. The worst thing an author can do is force something that isn’t there. Readers can see through a forced joke just as easily as they can see through an implausible action sequence.

Are there any authors you find handle humor better than others?


People have been trying to make a film version of the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series for a long time. (The first in the eleven book series, Princess of Mars, was released in 1912.) It’s a shame that it took so long to bring the stories to the big screen because they’ve influenced almost everyone in the science fiction/fantasy genre. George Lucas has made a comment that without Burroughs, he doubts there would be Star Wars. James Cameron’s Avatar has a lot of similar elements as well.

What makes these stories especially unique is that they combine both science fiction (space travel, airships, and guns) with fantasy (swords, ancient races, and detailed worldbuilding).

I’ve known about these books for some time, but didn’t move them up on my TBR pile until recently, when I read the first three in preparation for the film. Leah and I saw John Carter last night and I wanted to give a few thoughts on what the movie did right and what it did wrong. I’ll also mention a few changes they made for the movie (both good and bad). I’ll try to refrain from spoilers, but if anything slips through, it will be minor.


  • They got the worldbuilding/description right which was one of Burroughs strengths.
  • The explanation for how John Carter gets to Mars is MUCH better than the books.
  • The casting of the main characters fit, thought I felt a few of the minor characters didn’t really work.
  • They made Carter a more sympathetic protagonist which I liked. In the books, he is pretty full of himself and at times this can be a bit annoying.
  • The changes to Dejah Thoris were great. In the books she is a much stronger female character than was typical for the time the story was written in. However, they added even more depth to her for the movie.
  • Tars Tarkis was great.
  • Kantos Kan stole a couple of scenes.


  • My biggest complaint that hurt this movie was that they tried to do too much and probably made it more confusing than it needed to be. Rather than stick mostly to elements of the first book, they tried to bring in pieces of the second book (i.e. The Therns)
    • By bringing in too many elements, they rushed some of the best parts of the first book which included Carter’s gradual acclimation to living with the Tharks, Sola’s subplot, etc.
      • Rushing the scenes with the Tharks didn’t properly portray them as being an EXTREMELY savage culture. Though there were glimpses of this in the movie, it was overpowered by what turned out to be almost comic relief.
    • The extra elements also belittled the hate/threat Helium felt for Zodanga.
  • The Therns were completely changed from what they are in the books. Only their name and part of their appearance stayed the same. I understand why this was done, but the execution fell flat.
  • I know it was a Disney movie, but it was too “Disney” for me when you consider the source material. The addition of more clothing was a smart move (in the books, most of the people are described as completely naked and only wearing ornaments or barely wearing anything at all). However, the battles scenes where people are dying in droves with little blood, gore, and suffering rang hollow and lessened its significance.

Overall, I’d give the movie a 7/10. It wasn’t as good as I had hoped it would be, but I promise you it is far better than the awful trailers make it seem.