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

Everyone and I do mean EVERYONE should utilize a professional editor. I love the insight I get from Leah (my alpha-reader) and my beta-readers. However, a professional editor will lift your manuscript and story to the next level (and by professional I mean someone experienced and qualified, not just your best friend).

From an independent publishing standpoint, the idea of an editor scares many. Yes, it can be expensive. In fact, it is by far my biggest expense as an independent author. I’ll freely admit that it’s hard to spend as much as I do on my editor, but when I queried other potential editors, I chose who I felt was the best choice for me. Yes, it meant spending more money to get his services, but comments from the sample I gave him were insightful and educational. I knew right away that he could help me improve my craft as a writer.

Here are some reasons why you should hire a professional editor if you plan on independently publishing your work:

  • No matter how honest your friends, family, and betareaders are, no one is as brutal as a person completely separated from your work. Your editor’s primary focus is to do the job they were hired to do, not maintain a close friendship with you.
  • Content Editing – Many people hire an editor to focus on their grammar, sentence structure, etc. which is definitely important. However, it doesn’t hurt to have another set of eyes review your story. The important thing here is that a professional editor doesn’t just read your story, but rips it down to its basics and checks for every inconsistency and plot hole imaginable. In a way, an editor at this stage is doing what you should be doing, working on consistency in characters, cutting unnecessary chunks of the story, telling you to elaborate further on other areas, and making you aware of reader expectations.
  • Line or Copy Editing – This is the part of editing that at a minimum everyone should do. In theory, a good alpha and beta readers can help you fix a lot of content issues. However, only someone who has a strong grasp of punctuation, grammar, sentence structure and overall language can help you here. What’s important about this is that most people, including myself, read their stories so many times, we see things that aren’t there. We read a sentence or paragraph of how we want it to sound rather than how it is actually written. 

Now, the beauty of being independently published is that I don’t have to make the changes my editor suggests. Granted, this doesn’t happen often, but ultimately the story is mine and therefore, I can do with it what I want. If I went through a traditional publisher, I probably wouldn’t have that kind of leeway. There are plenty of horror stories out there about people having to cut characters or large sections of work from their novels. Granted, I know that some of these cuts are necessary and probably do make the work better. But, I often wonder how often it really improved a story. I’ve listened to author interviews where they try to be diplomatic about the process since they can’t exactly badmouth the publisher…yet you can tell that they weren’t completely on board with the changes.

As much as I hate to see the plethora of comments and corrections my editor gives me, it’s exactly what I need.

By the way, you can find some information about my editor by visiting his website at


Most people recall this project simply because it spawned the song “Layla.” Although that song/riff/piano outro is iconic in every way, the rest of the album is unbelievable too. Great musicianship across the board and who doesn’t want to listen to two legends like Clapton and Allman playing guitar together. In fact, the older I get, the more I think this might be my favorite thing Clapton has done.

Bell Bottom Blues

My favorite on the album. Why does love got to be so Sad?

Key to the Highway


As of yesterday, I finished the rough 1st draft of Book 2 of the Blood and Tears Trilogy. It still obviously needs a lot of work at this point, but that will all get resolved in the coming months as I smooth out the plotting, character, and prose issues during the editing process.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I’ve been participating in a challenge to write 60K words this month. I originally thought that working on Book 2 would take me to the end of February, but I finished early. So, in order to complete the challenge (I was at 52K yesterday) I started rewriting a short story idea from scratch that didn’t pan out in my first attempt. I’ll probably finish that and start another one afterward before the month is through. Working on those two smaller items should allow me to still reach my word count goal of 60K.

No matter what, I start the final edits on Walk Through Fire on March 1st.


For fun I thought I would write an updated version of the Beatles song Paperback Writer to better suit the aspiring authors like myself in the digital age. (FYI, slight fantasy slant because that’s what I primarily write).

Digital writer

Digital writer (digital writer)
Dear Sir or Madam, will you buy my ebook?
I worked real hard, will you take a look?
It's based on the crazy thoughts inside my head
And I need a fanbase, so I can be a digital writer,
digital writer.

It's a fantasy story of mighty men
Start it now and you won’t want it to end.
Kindle or Nook, you won’t need the mail.
It's a tough life if you want to be a digital writer,
Digital writer.

Digital writer (digital writer)

Hundreds of screenshots, give or take a few,
I'll be writing more until I’m through.
I really hope that you like the style,
If not, I don’t have to change it round because I’m a digital writer,
Digital writer.

Technology ensures I don’t have to give up the rights,
It’s a marathon, I don’t expect success overnight.
If you like it, please spread the word
I need a break so I can be a digital writer,
Digital writer.
Digital writer (digital writer)

Digital writer - digital writer
Digital writer - digital writer

And here’s the original song…

So, how bad is it? lol

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I wanted to do something different and post another Music Monday about a lesser known guitar virtuoso. Below is a quick bio of him from Wikipedia along with a few videos showcasing his Govan’s talent. Unreal.
Govan began playing guitar aged three, encouraged by his father but initially learning mainly by ear. At the age of nine he and his brother Seth Govan played guitar on a Thames Television programme called Ace Reports. At secondary school he was exposed, via older classmates, to "shred" guitarists of the time. 
After leaving school, Govan read English at the University of Oxford, though he left after a year to pursue a career in music. Around this time (by Govan’s own estimation, 1991) he sent demos of his work to Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records. Varney was impressed and offered him a record deal; ultimately however, Govan declined. Regarding his reasons he has explained: "it was as though all I really wanted to know was that I was good enough […] I found I was getting a bit wary of the shred movement." 
In 1993 he won Guitarist magazine’s "Guitarist of the Year" competition with his instrumental piece Wonderful Slippery Thing (a version of which would eventually appear on his debut solo album); the demo of the track earned him a place amongst several other entrants in the live final, which he then won. Subsequently, he submitted a sample transcription (of a Shawn Lane piece) to Guitar Techniques magazine; this earned him a job as a contributor to the magazine, ending a spell working in fast food.
Fives – Most famous song probably

Fretless Guitar which is just insane.


We all know that “word-of-mouth” is by far the best form of advertising. When you hear a friend or family member they respect go on about something they enjoy, you are usually far more inclined to give that item a chance than you would otherwise. As a writer, this form of advertising is absolutely crucial. However, I also understand that generally speaking people don’t talk about the books they’ve read with friends and family (though they should!).

So, then what’s the next best thing you can do to support someone’s work that you enjoy? Write a review.

Think about it, when you’re scrolling on Amazon or other retail websites and looking for a book what are some of the things you look for?
  • An eye-popping cover.
    • Does it grab your attention?
    • Does it look professional?
    • Does it evoke a strong emotion?
  • The book’s rating.
    • It needs to be at least 3 stars.
  • How many reviews the book has garnered.
    • The more the better. I’m much more inclined to read a sample if I see 50 reviews over just 2.
  • The sincerity of the reviews.
    • In other words, does it seem like the review was fake? Unfortunately, there have been authors who’ve been caught setting up fake Amazon accounts in order to rate their books higher in the hopes of selling more copies…because of this many serious book buyers will now click on the name of the person reviewing the book to see what else that person has reviewed. It’s kind of lame, but one idiot screws things up for others.
  • The product description.
    • Is it interesting?
    • Is it well-written?
  • The sample.
    • I’ve already talked about the quality of openings chapters here and here.
Reviews are an integral part in most people’s book buying process. Yet, how many buyers write a review on Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, LibraryThing, Smashwords, etc.? Not many. Most people aren’t sure what to say or they become self-conscious about what to say.

A review should say what the reader liked and/or disliked about the book and that’s it. Just be honest. And it only needs to be a few sentences to a couple of paragraphs. There isn’t any need to write a book in your review about a book.

Why do I bring this up?

I’m asking those of you who have bought and read a book recently (including either of my two books, Rise and Fall and/or Warleader) to please drop in to Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, LibraryThing, Smashwords, etc. and leave a quick review of your thoughts on the book. You don’t have to gush over it. Just be honest. If you want to leave an author a three-star review instead of a five-star, go for it. Besides, any feedback only helps any author improve as a writer.

The authors you read, including me, will appreciate it!

Joe Abercrombe writes how I wish I could write. He’s actually one of the first fantasy authors I got into after Howard, Cook, and Martin. Even after countless author books, he remains one of my top 5 favorite authors.

  • His characters are unbelievably well-developed, believable and totally memorable. San dan Glokta and Logen Ninefingers are impossible to forget.
  • His dialogue is natural and witty.
  • His humor is dry, dark, and cynical.
  • His worldbuilding is how I like my fantasy…just enough to give the reader a mental picture of going on, but not so much you become bored in the unnecessary information.
  • The world he depicts is grim with few people ever landing out top..and those that do are often the ones you wanted least to succeed.
  • His action/fight/battle scenes are well thought out and realistic, keeping you on the edge of your seat whether you’re reading a one on one scuffle or some epic clash between massive armies.
  • If I had one complaint of Abercrombie’s writing it’s that he is pretty free with the coarse language and the few sex scenes he includes in his books are pretty over the top on the ridiculous scale, IMO.

I’m awful at praising authors, even though I’ve tried numerous times already. That’s why I add excerpts to these “Influences” posts because I feel their writing should do the talking, not mine.

Here are a couple of examples of Abercrombie’s awesomeness.

“Has it ever occured to you, Master Ninefingers, that a sword is different from other weapons? Axes and maces and so forth are lethal enough, but they hang on the belt like dumb brutes. But a sword...a sword has a voice. Sheathed it has little to say, to be sure, but you need only put your hand on the hilt and it begins to whisper in your enemy's ear. A gentle word. A word of caution. Do you hear it? Now, compare it to the sword half drawn. It speaks louder, does it not? It hisses a dire threat. It makes a deadly promise. Do you hear it? Now compare it to the sword full drawn. It shouts now, does it not? It screams defiance! It bellows a challenge! Do you hear it?”
― Joe Abercrombie, The Blade Itself

“Truly, life is the misery we endure between disappointments.”
― Joe Abercrombie, Last Argument of Kings

“I have learned all kinds of things from my many mistakes. The one thing I never learn is to stop making them.”
― Joe Abercrombie, Last Argument of Kings

“If you want to be a new man you have to stay in new places, and do new things, with people who never knew you before. If you go back to the same old ways, what else can you be but the same old person?”
― Joe Abercrombie, Last Argument of Kings

“You were a hero round these parts. That's what they call you when you kill so many people the word murderer falls short.”
― Joe Abercrombie, Best Served Cold

“We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.”
― Joe Abercrombie, Before They Are Hanged

“Chose? If you believe that I chose any part of the pitiful shadow of a life you see before you, you are very much mistaken. I chose glory and success. The box did not contain what was written on the lid.”
― Joe Abercrombie, Last Argument of Kings

“I’ve fought in three campaigns,” he began. “In seven pitched battles. In countless raids and skirmishes and desperate defences, and bloody actions of every kind. I’ve fought in the driving snow, the blasting wind, the middle of the night. I’ve been fighting all my life, one enemy or another, one friend or another. I’ve known little else. I’ve seen men killed for a word, for a look, for nothing at all. A woman tried to stab me once for killing her husband, and I threw her down a well. And that’s far from the worst of it. Life used to be cheap as dirt to me. Cheaper.

“I’ve fought ten single combats and I won them all, but I fought on the wrong side and for all the wrong reasons. I’ve been ruthless, and brutal, and a coward. I’ve stabbed men in the back, burned them, drowned them, crushed them with rocks, killed them asleep, unarmed, or running away. I’ve run away myself more than once. I’ve pissed myself with fear. I’ve begged for my life. I’ve been wounded, often, and badly, and screamed and cried like a baby whose mother took her tit away. I’ve no doubt the world would be a better place if I’d been killed years ago, but I haven’t been, and I don’t know why.”

He looked down at his hands, pink and clean on the stone. “There are few men with more blood on their hands than me. None, that I know of. The Bloody-Nine they call me, my enemies, and there’s a lot of ’em. Always more enemies, and fewer friends. Blood gets you nothing but more blood. It follows me now, always, like my shadow, and like my shadow I can never be free of it. I should never be free of it. I’ve earned it. I’ve deserved it. I’ve sought it out. Such is my punishment.”
― Joe Abercrombie, The Blade Itself

“Good steel bends, but never breaks. Good steel stays always sharp and ready. Good steel feels no pain, no pity, and above all, no remorse”
― Joe Abercrombie, Best Served Cold

“The smell of it. The feel of it." He rubbed one hand up and down the stained sheath of his sword, making a faint swishing sound. "War is honest. There's no lying to it. You don't have to say sorry here. Don't have to hide. You cannot. If you die? So what? You die among friends. Among worthy foes. You die looking the Great Leveller in the eye. If you live? Well, lad that's living, isn't it? A man isn't truly alive until he's facing death." Whirrun stamped his foot into the sod. "I love war!”
― Joe Abercrombie, The Heroes

“You ever have the feeling you were in the wrong place? That if you could just get over the next hill, cross the next river, look down into the next valley, it'd Be right."

"All my life, more of less."

“All your life spent getting ready for the next thing. I climbed a lot of hills now. I crossed a lot of rivers. Crossed the sea even, left everything I knew and came to Styria. But there I was, waiting for me at the docks when I got off the boat, same man, same life. Next valley ain’t no different from this one. No better anyway. Reckon I’ve learned … just to stick in the place I’m at. Just to be the man I am.”
― Joe Abercrombie, Best Served Cold

“They've strengthened the walls since last year. I wouldn't fancy trying to storm the place."

"Don't pretend you'd have the guts to storm the place"

"I wouldn't fancy telling someone else to storm the place"

"Don't pretend you'd have the guts to give the orders"

"I wouldn't fancy watching you tell someone else to storm the place."

― Joe Abercrombie, Best Served Cold

“People love to see death. It reminds them that however mean, however low, however horrible their lives become… at least they have one.”
― Joe Abercrombie, Before They Are Hanged

“Strange, isn't it,' mused Glokta as he watched him struggle for air. 'Big men, small men, thin men, fat men, clever men, stupid men, they all respond the same to a fist in the guts. One minute you think you're the most powerful man in the world. The next you can't even breathe by yourself.”
― Joe Abercrombie, Before They Are Hanged

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I have to thank my Uncle Frank for getting me into several classic rock bands. The two that stood out the most to me were Pink Floyd and Alice Cooper. The latter is today’s Music Monday.

Below are some great Alice tunes. I actually wanted to pick a couple more, but couldn’t find better quality videos.

Desperado – Great intro and pretty different than what most people expect from Alice. This was one of my uncle’s favorite songs.

No More Mr. Nice Guy – One of my favs from a lyrical standpoint.

Billion Dollar Babies – very underrated song

Elected – love the guitar work and chorus here

Welcome to my Nightmare – first Alice song I heard. Along with Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, it is also considered one of the first music videos.


Valentine’s Day is next Tuesday.

It’s an awful, stupid holiday and I’m one of the few guys in the world lucky enough to marry someone who feels the same as I do regarding it. In fact, when Leah and I were dating, I was forbidden from buying her anything that related to Valentine’s Day.

Paraphrasing, she feels that the holiday lays a huge guilt trip on men so that they feel as though they must live up to some unreal expectation that society has imposed on women to seek out. Those who do accomplish this goal are congratulated while those who don’t are in the doghouse.

Her and I both agree that the true definition of showing your love for another should be acted out each and every day, not on one day of the year.

So, for all of you guys who aren’t as lucky as I am...