. . . and the story continues!


Steel and Sorrow: Book Two of the Blood and Tears Trilogy can be purchased from the following locations for only $3.99 in ebook form. (Use Smashwords for your non-Kindle, Kobo, 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 Amazon Kindle application for your desktop or laptop and read it from your computer.

Steel and Sorrow is also available in print at Amazon for just $14.95. You can purchase it here.

Here is a brief synopsis of Steel and Sorrow (warning, contains some spoilers for Rise and Fall)
A Warleader proves his worth, a High Mage seeks revenge, a Commander overcomes his past, and a Queen solidifies her rule.

On the continent of Hesh, Tobin has finally gained the two things that have always been out of his reach—the respect of his clan and a woman’s love. He now seeks to finish what his father began. When Tobin faces an enemy he never knew to suspect, he is left questioning not only his ability to rule, but also his sanity.

A High Mage has been humbled, but he has not been defeated. After spending his time devouring the history of Hesh, he’s discovered a way to return home and reclaim what was once his. But before he exacts revenge on his enemies, he fulfills an obligation to his one remaining friend.

In the aftermath of great tragedy, Kaz has taken the role of commander, and with it, a mountain of headaches. He expected threats from his enemies. He did not expect the largest headaches to come from within his own ranks. To make matters worse, the faded memories of Kaz’s previous life are returning and what he sees haunts him.

Queen Elyse’s kingdom faces collapse at the hands of a civil war. While her army has been organizing to secure the crown against traitorous lords, she has worked at her role as queen. Suspicion of traitors among the ranks of her council threatens to undermine Elyse's authority when a chance for peace presents itself.

A year after the events of Rise and Fall, Steel and Sorrow is the second book in the Blood and Tears Trilogy.

To read an excerpt of Steel and Sorrow, click the “Sample” button below. You can always access it by clicking on the "Books" menu tab above.



However, I would warn you not to read a sample unless you’ve already read Rise and Fall as the sample does contain spoilers for the first book.

If you enjoy the story or any of my other works, please consider leaving a rating or review at the site of purchase as well as other places such as Goodreads and Librarything. Like many other indie authors, I do not have a marketing team working for me and a positive review (even if only a couple of sentences long) can go a long way in enticing others to give my works a try.

Another easy way to help me out is by clicking the “Like” button or “Share button” on the Amazon product page.

You can also shoot me an email at joshuapsimon.author@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks!

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One of the heavier bands I’ve ever heard. Sepultura also has an awesome rhythm sound as they’ve incorporated their Brazilian heritage/influence into their music. Good stuff.

Refuse Resist


Arise


Dead Embryonic Cells


Bloody Roots

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In preparation for the Steel and Sorrow: Book Two of the Blood and Tears Trilogy launch in the next couple of weeks, I decided to create three maps of the world. These maps will be included in both the electronic and paper versions of the second book. I also plan to go back and add them to both the electronic and paper versions of Rise and Fall for anyone who purchases the books going forward.

There are several reasons why I didn’t include maps in the initial release of Rise and Fall, but in the end it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I have them now and they look awesome. Click on the maps below to see more detail. (They open in a new window.)

The first map is of the world I created.



The second map is a close-up of the Kingdom of Cadonia. I’ve only noted the major cities/landmarks that are important within the overall story.



The third map is a close-up of the continent of Hesh. Again, I’ve only noted the major cities/landmarks that are important within the overall story.



Maps have never been necessary for me (yes, I’m an anomaly within fantasy). I usually glance at them once before starting a book and then never refer to them again. However, I know they mean a lot to others. Hopefully, this will improve the reading experience for those individuals.

By the way, I wanted to thank my wife, Leah, as she took my chicken scratch rough drafts and made the awesomeness above. Thanks, babe!

So, what do you think?

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This is one of my favorite albums of all time by one of my favorite bands. It’s REALLY hard not to just select the whole album for Music Monday, but I managed to narrow down my song selections a little.

Rain When I Die (my fav AIC song)

Down in a Hole (unplugged)


Dirt


Angry Chair


Junkhead


Would

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I love to read and write fantasy. That should be pretty obvious to those who spend more than a few minutes on my blog. Part of what I love about the genre is the heroes (flawed or not) that are represented within it. These people can, and sometimes do, inspire me to be a better person.

However, those heroes aren’t real, and so their stories don’t quite hold the same amount of weight as those in our world.

About a week ago, I read an article on MSN that told the story of someone who in my mind epitomized what it means to be a hero. I cut and pasted the article below, worried that the link would expire before I could post it to my blog. It’s a pretty short read and well worth your time.
The parents of Xander Vento, a little boy who was forced under the water while saving another child at a neighborhood pool in Fort Worth, Texas, earlier this week, say they are taking their son off life support.

Cris and Misty Vento released the following statement Thursday:

"We’ve made the extremely difficult decision to remove our precious son Xander from life support. We send heartfelt thanks to all of you who kept our family in your thoughts and prayers; we’re appreciative of your love and support.

We in some way hope our son’s life serves as an inspiration. He was the angel in the pool who sacrificed himself to save another. And now he continues to give as an organ donor. We were blessed to have such a kind and caring boy as Xander who set an example for all of us and even now he will be saving lives by giving of himself."


Xander, 4, held a struggling 3-year-old girl above the water, and after becoming exhausted, slipped below the water’s surface, the Associated Press reported. He was found at the bottom of the pool. After Xander was pulled from the water, rescuers did get a pulse from him, the Dallas Morning News reported, but he was unable to breathe on his own before they loaded him into a helicopter.

Xander was hospitalized at Cook Children’s Medical center, where he fell into a coma. He had been on life support since Monday.

Adults were present at the pool during the incident, including an off-duty nurse who helped rescue the children, according to the Dallas Morning News. It wasn’t clear where the adults were when the incident happened.

The 3-year-old girl, whose name has not been released, apparently swallowed water but never lost consciousness.
I’m not sure if I’m more sensitive to stories like this now that I’m a parent or not, but I admit that I choked me up a bit when reading it. For someone so young to show such unselfishness and strength is humbling to me in ways I can’t even put into words.

Xander Vento, you are a real hero.



It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally a cover will actually turn out better than the original version. Below are a couple that definitely fall into this category for me (though I do like the originals as well).

BALL OF CONFUSION
Anthrax (cover)


The Temptations (original version)


STARBREAKER
Arch Enemy (cover)


Judas Priest (original version)


WHERE DID YOU SLEEP LAST NIGHT
Nirvana (cover)


Leadbelly (original version)


Any covers that you feel are better than the original?

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While writing the first draft of Rise and Fall, I took a small break and tried my hand at short fiction. The result was a story titled, The Old Warrior. I originally drafted it in third person, but later rewrote it in 1st person. I go back and forth on which version works better.

I’ve submitted the story a few times and although I had a little interest from a few places, the story never sold. Given the unusual structure of the story and the short length, I decided to post it for free on my website. It isn’t my best work. However, I do like the overall idea and tone of the story. Maybe others will enjoy it as well.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Thanks.



The Old Warrior

I sat near the edge of a cliff with my back against a giant oak. The sun sank below the distant horizon. Light bathed the wide mountains and deep valleys in a blood red. Years ago I might have actually enjoyed the sight, but not today.

My left hand squeezed a bottle of whiskey, knuckles whitening as the cool air blew against my face. A jolt of pain ran up my shoulder when I tried to take a drink. Dark liquor spilled out before reaching my half-open mouth.

I muttered a few curses while switching hands. After taking a long pull, I wiped my mouth on a tattered sleeve and settled the bottle in my lap.

I tried to work the sting from my shoulder, tilting my head back and to the side, laying it against the rough tree trunk, while trying to find the source of my discomfort. The wind rustled through the leaves as I wrestled with the old wound.

Anyone who had fought as long and as often as I had was bound to come up with a wound or two. Dozens, in my case. Each one of the blasted things had a memory I longed to forget.

The shoulder problem came from service during the Second Pithani War. Captured by the enemy and chained by my wrists and ankles, the Pithani had done their best to extract information from me. But, I never said a word. I had wanted to stop the pain, but what little I knew they didn’t want to hear. The shoulder came out of its socket during the ordeal and when I had finally managed to escape, too much time had passed for it to properly heal.

After a long sigh I spat over the cliff. The shoulder finally began to loosen up.

I could go on forever describing the aches and pains that haunted me. The most embarrassing injury came when a horse fell on top of me in a botched cavalry charge, breaking my leg.

I shook my head and chuckled. Even with a broken leg I killed over a dozen men that day, hobbling the entire time. Men talked about that for years afterward. Among the many names I’ve been known by, that day I had earned my favorite.

“The man who didn’t know how to die.”

I had been a man the enemy feared and one my allies held in awe. Of course, I didn’t think about consequences in those days. I was just worried about building up my name and adding to the stories about me, just like my father and grandfather had done before.

But no one looked at me in fear or awe any longer. All those battle scars caught up with me as the years crept along. Even the small injuries started to hinder my ability to fight. I guess when I look back at my life I started out young and foolish and I ended up old and foolish.

A missing finger caused me to lose my sword more than once. A bad leg hampered my footing. The shoulder caused my shield arm to dip on more than one occasion which resulted in the death of several good men.

Once those things started to happen, people began to look at me differently.

“The man who didn’t know how to die,” I said aloud.

In hindsight, the name has become a curse. None of my names will be remembered in song and tales like I always wanted them to. I lived too long. When a warrior gets gray and wrinkled, people forget the glory from their past.

My father and grandfather both died young and it was the best thing that could have happened to them. My name had once been greater than theirs, but not anymore. I never knew when to quit.

I could have raised a family when things started to fall apart, but I kept pushing myself. The more I tried, the further I beat my name into the mud.

I stared at the bruised sky.

They wouldn’t even let me join the field today. They laughed and sneered at me like some fool, yelling insults as I walked away.

“Too much of a liability.”

“Likely to get us all killed!”

“Old and useless.”

The worst part of it all is that I agree with them. I’m not the same man who had been first in at the siege of Hermath or the man who once stood toe-to-toe with the giant of Lanknar and won. No one remembers those stories any longer. They only know the broken warrior I am now.

The last hope I clung to before today had been denied to me—the chance of a warrior’s death. There would be no place for me in the Hall of Vashan, home of the warrior Uthal, the one god I ever cared about.

But, I guess that’s for the best. How could I look Uthal in the eye when we both know how far I’ve fallen?

I took one last drink and tossed the empty bottle out into the air. It fell down into the deep valley where the sound of it breaking was lost in the wind. I grabbed the other two empty bottles at my side and threw those over too.

Apparently the only thing I could still do well is hold my liquor. I had spent the last few coppers I had on the whiskey and still felt far more than I had wanted to.

I climbed slowly to my feet and shook the stiffness out of my tired limbs. Two steps later I stood at the edge of the cliff and looked down. A wall of tall pines stood to either side of a wide stream as if they guarded the passing waters.

I knew the stream was shallow, only a few feet deep and filled with rock. Despite the lack of depth, the water flowed with enough force to wash just about anything out to sea. Just the sort of thing I had been looking for.

“The man who didn’t know how to die,” I said one last time, chuckling lightly and feeling a surprising wetness on my cheeks.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t known how to die. I had never wanted to before now.

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