I am in editing Hell and I don’t know how to escape

So, what happens when you write four books during a pandemic? I can tell you . . . You slowly descend into madness as you read, reread, and edit all four of them. Two sit on the back burner while you’re working diligently to get the other two edited to the conscriptions of the editors hounding your email inbox. At the same time, you mind swirls with stories that you’ve been writing (and want to continue writing) but had to stop to go into edit mode. Like I said . . . Hell!

You wouldn’t know it by looking at me but I am a dazed and frazzled man. I am staring at a computer for nearly 16 hours a day, half at my regular job and half at the job I want to do full time. At the same time, my wife starts me off on a new diet. Yes, I’ve lost weight (10 pounds in a week) but I’m on edge from the lack of sugar and pasta in my life. Celery sticks and sugar free popsicles to not satisfy the burgeoning mind of an author.

It’s hard to focus, especially since I want to make sure everything is right. It’s hard to do when you have multiple projects crossing over . . . different storylines, characters, even genres. I am an idiot for doing this to myself, but I didn’t expect everything to be overlapping like they are. Things happened so fast that I am scrambling to make sure all my bases are covered.

I think this is giving me a reason to retire and go writing full time. I wish that was possible but I’m still a young 58 (59 in August) so I’m at the edge but not there yet. Maybe if I win the lottery or come into some money, but that is not very likely. The idea is to just “pull up my bootstraps” and “buckle up” for a long few months.

I know I should slow down and focus on one thing at a time, but when the mind goes in twenty different directions, you have to go with it. When an idea pops into my head, it rolls around there, over and over again, until I start writing it down. It won’t let me go! If I don’t do something with it, it can be quite maddening.

Follow that up with my recent successes by signing with Revolutionary Press and Curious Corvid Publishing. I’m not complaining, believe me, this was the best thing to happen to me in the pandemic. It’s just the added responsibility to live up to the expectations of the publishers. You want to show them that by picking you, to be one of their published authors, it was worth their time and energy.

So, once again, sorry for the rant, but this is an author’s blog, so its to be expected. Just remember, for all you blossoming and budding independent authors out there, remember to make better time management a priority when it comes to editing. Don’t let the projects overlap. Learn from MY mistakes and you’ll do just fine. If not, prepare for the worst!

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy/steampunk novels and short stories. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon and as an audiobook from Audible and iTunes. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is available through Lulu and other booksellers.

Get ready for the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates, coming soon from Revolutionary Press; and The River of Souls novella, coming soon from Curious Corvid PublishingThe Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel are future installments of my current fantasy book series, coming soon.

When a computer program points out your mistakes as a writer, it hurts even worse

I don’t know if I ever told this story on my blog, but here goes. When I published my first book, Forever Avalon, I was excited. I sent first copies of my book to my friends and family. About a month later, I get an email from my mother with two pages of grammar, spelling, and other errors in my book. She said she enjoyed it but there were mistakes.

That was like a stake through the vampire’s heart at dawn. I couldn’t believe I missed such simple errors, but that is the problem with editing. No matter who does it, a professional editor or your next door neighbor, there are bound to be issues. I have read through my manuscripts several times over and I still find errors.

Finally, I broke down and spent the money on Grammarly. We’ve all seen the ads and how the program works. I wanted to see if it would make a difference in my writing and editing. Low and behold, my eyes were opened. First off, I found out that I write in passive voice more than I thought. It takes one simple word to change a sentence from active to passive and it seems I missed that a lot.

I also found out that Spellcheck is evil! I mean the lowest depths of Hell evil. What Spellcheck missed, Grammarly pointed out as misspelled words (pay attention here Microsoft!) WTF? I had no idea. It’s great that professional editors have an eye for these things, but that’s something an independent author like me isn’t able to afford. Normally, I relied on Spellcheck to help me through my edits. I was wrong.

Also, I found that using Grammarly, I put a lot of prepositions at the end of sentences, used adverbs wrong on different occasions, wordiness in sentences, and my comma misuse was way out of hand. Am I that bad of a writer? No, I don’t think so. I think its just I’ve never been properly edited before and gotten the feedback I needed. Most of my novels have been through a basic editing, not in depth. I found that Grammarly gave me an in depth review of my work and made me a better writer.

As I’ve reviewed my latest WIPs using Grammarly, I found myself correcting the errors without even having to look at the correction column. I knew instinctively what was wrong, after just a few chapters of review. This is where technology helps a writer by showing them their mistakes, and making me correct myself as I write. It’s worked so far in editing my WIP, and as I’m writing new material, it makes me react faster to mistakes or incorrect sentence structure. It’s making me a better writer.

So, to everyone out there, I would recommend Grammarly as a tool to help you in your writing. It has its quirks… There are times it makes me remove a comma then tells me to put it back. I’ve learned to make adjustments to the program so as to fit my writing style. I mean, as a fantasy writer, its hard to make a software program understand words you make up as magic for what it tries to understand as our reality.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

“Authors supporting Authors” is the real deal

I saw this great meme on Instagram the other day. It said, “Other authors are not my competition! I stand with them, not against them!” Among the independent authors I have engaged with regularly on social media, that is absolutely true.

Believe it or not, we are a rather enlightened community. We give advice, like posts, share ideas and creative criticism to make us better writers. We might not be the most social bunch in public, which makes sense since most of us rarely see the light of day except for the soft glow of our laptop. But we are stronger together.

We all have the same problems… Writer’s block, manuscript editing (take 11), finding a publisher, getting reviews, book sales, etc. We share that common bond through our love of writing, and being a storyteller. And its through that bond that we reach out to one another for help, advice, and support.

I’ve edited manuscripts, swapped books for a review, promoted other authors books, all for free. Why? Because I know that someone will see what I’m doing and will maybe do the same for me. That’s what we do.

We all have the same goals and same aspirations. We want to achieve the same thing… Recognition for the thousands of hours of work, sleepless nights, and spending vacation money on marketing, publishing, and artwork.

Working together helps our community of independent authors grow, learn, and become a force to be reckoned with. We may not be signed up with a publisher, agent, or publicist, but we have each other. That’s what makes us unstoppable.

So let’s help each other out. If you need a book review, message me and we’ll do an exchange for reviews. I am here for my fellow authors.



Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

I’ve finished editing my third book, now what?

book coverIt’s taken me over a year, but I’ve finally finished writing and editing the third book in the Forever Avalon series, The Outlander War. This is the finale of the first trilogy in the series following Forever Avalon and The Dark Tides. I want to thank my book editor, Michael Stettes, for helping me with editing my book. This was his first time editing a novel and, I have to admit, he did a great job. I also want to thank Adam Aldrich for the cover art he provided.

So, with all this done the question is, now what? Now comes the hard part that many writers face. What to do now that all the writing, editing, rewriting, nail biting, and late night coffee breaks have finished? The answer to that is publishing.

I want to try and find a regular publisher, hoping that someone will like my work and take a chance on me, but that isn’t easy. It takes research, time, and the stamina when those rejection letters start coming in. For independent authors, this is a decision that usually costs money. It you want to self-publish your novel, complete with ISBN number, etc., it can cost anywhere from $500 to $5000 dollars, depending on the publisher and whatever publishing package you pick. These options include help with editing and marketing your novel.

However, there is another option. If you just want to go the ebook route, these are usually inexpensive, sometimes even free. For example, Kindle Direct Publishing through Amazon is a FREE ebook publishing option. My first book, Forever Avalon, was originally only available in paperback. Since I owned the rights to my book (in most cases, as an independent author, the publisher doesn’t own the rights to your book) I was able to publish my book on Amazon as an ebook. It was easy to do and it added to my profile on Amazon.

Deep down, I want to take the easy route. I love writing and I just want to put my book out there as quickly as possible. But there’s a little voice down there telling me not to give up on my dream of being a writers full time. It’s like those old cartoons of the angle and the devil on opposite shoulders, trying to convince me that I should do this, not that.

I have a decision to make and its not an easy one. To be totally honest and up front with you, I have spent more than $10,000 on publishing and marketing my first two books, and I’ve made less than $500 on sales for both of them. Financially, it doesn’t make sense to throw more money at it.

But its my passion, and…Arrgh! You see what I mean? The angel and the devil are talking to me and it’s driving me crazy. I have a decision to make, as do a lot of other Independent Authors. What that is, we’ll just have to wait and see. I would appreciate any advice from people in the comments below.

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.


Seeing red on an edited manuscript is not a bad thing

copyeditsIt’s the worst thing for a high school or college student, and worst for a journalist or author … The dreaded red pen marks. Those notes and edits—whether on a term paper, thesis or manuscript—can send a writer into a tizzy. You wonder if it means your ideas suck, your writing is terrible or prose just God awful. Sometimes that’s true, but most times, it’s far from the truth. As writers, we are far from perfect. We miss the occasional comma, overuse a word or phrase, and forget the “y” on “they” turning it into “the” so spellcheck doesn’t catch it. That’s why every writer needs a good editor to help catch the things we miss.

I’m currently editing my third novel in the Forever Avalon series, The Outlander War, and it’s the first time I’m working with an editor. I just glanced at Page 1 (he’s editing by hand to start) and it’s covered in red. I panicked, but soon realized that it’s a lot of structure issues, not the story itself, and my mind was put at ease.

Seeing red can bring back bad memories. For me, it was shortly after I published my first novel, Forever Avalon. I received free copies of my novel from my publisher and sent them out to family and friends. Within the first month, I received an email from my mother with two pages of spelling and grammatical errors she found in the book. Nothing is more humbling for a writer than to have your mother correct your work.

In the end, I pulled the book, made the edits and got it back out, but all of that could have been avoided with a little editing help. There are professional book editors out there for self-published authors with varying prices in relation to word count. If money’s an issue, then turn to a friend or colleague to take a read on your manuscript.

Seeing red is not a bad thing because, in the end, it provides your readers with a clean, crisp story that flows better without the occasional drop off due to a missing comma or misspelled word. Remember, spellcheck is not your friend. It can easily miss a lot of mistakes. Plus, a human eye can look for those little subtleties in continuity.

For example, as a fantasy writer, if your wizard casts a spell and it does one thing on page 25, and something completely different on page 79, that’s something you need to catch. It’s a lot for a writer to keep up with, which is why you need to pair up with a good editor to make your manuscript smooth as silk.

So don’t fear the red pen. If you establish a good working relationship with your editor, then their edits will help, not hurt, your manuscript. In the end, it’s still your story, but now it’s a well edited story that’s an easy read.


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.

Editing your novel can lead to harsh cuts – A deleted excerpt from “The Dark Tides”

SKU-000941753I hate to admit it but it took me almost six months to edit The Dark Tides. I was hard because, I got a little out-of-hand as I was writing it and it reached almost 228,000 words. I had to get it down to a little more manageable size, and that called for extreme editing. I found some places where I repeated myself and, in other places, I found sections of my novel that really didn’t add to the overall story.

This is one of those parts as I give you a glimpse into part of the story that would’ve been in this deleted excerpt from The Dark Tides. I like to call it “Ambush at Merlin’s Pinnacle” so, here you go!


The Avenger glided through the air around Merlin’s Pinnacle. The crew was on their toes during this part of the passage, as the air currents around the peak could be quite treacherous. The Gil-Gamesh watched his crew move like a well-oiled machine during the flight. Even Hunter and Andrew were pitching in, to not only be helpful but to learn more about the operation of the airships of Avalon.

From the bridge, Bryan looked down at the fog covered Arkengarth Vale and reflected back on that epic battle, his torture and recovery afterwards in Alfheimer. It’s moments like this that the Gil-Gamesh couldn’t help but feel his age. Though 60 was considered middle-aged for someone from Avalon, in Bryan’s “Outlander-way” of thinking, it’s near retirement age for most people. And with everything that happened over the past month, he was beginning to wonder how much longer he could keep doing this.

His 20 years on Avalon had been nothing but non-stop since he arrived. It wasn’t like it was unfamiliar territory to him. Working on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier was no different — fast paced, focused attention-to-detail, non-stop action-packed work for days on end. But the question remained, when this is all over, could he finally take a break from the fast-paced life he led as the Gil-Gamesh? Only time would tell.

Suddenly Bryan noticed a shadow falling across the ship’s deck. He turned to look skyward to see what could be casting it. High in the sky behind them, flying right in the sun, another airship closed in on the Avenger. Because of its position, Bryan couldn’t see who it was or why Captain O’Brien hadn’t acknowledged its presence.

“Captain, what’s that ship following us?” the Gil-Gamesh asked.

“It’s the Intrepid milord. Our lookouts spotted her about an hour ago, just before you came on deck. She appears to be following us into Idlehorn.”

“Has Captain Oldman signaled his course and intentions per protocol?”

Edan thought for a moment before answering. “No milord, he hasn’t. I assumed with the beatings our ships have taken over the past few weeks, it might have slipped his mind.”

“Never assumed anything Edan,” Bryan said as he reaches into his cloak and pulled out his spyglass lens. “Video Visum!” he chanted as the lens zoomed in on the airship. The decks were empty, even in the rigging. This was very disturbing to the Gil-Gamesh, especially for running this close to Merlin’s Pinnacle.

“Have the crow’s nest attempt to signal them,” Bryan ordered. Captain O’Brien relayed the command and the sailor manning the crow’s nest pulled out a pair of flags and started to signal the airship through a series of motions and signals. No response ever came from the Intrepid.

Bryan contemplated his next move. “Shall we fly up alongside her Gil-Gamesh?” Edan inquired.

“No, we’d be too exposed to an attack as we maneuvered into position. He’s got the wind in his favor. I have a better idea.” Lord MoonDrake raised his fingers to his mouth and whistled. “Maverick!” he shouted. From below decks, a tiny dragon whizzed past all the sailors until he reached the Gil-Gamesh. Faerie Dragons were quite small, less than two feet in length, but they’re also the fastest creatures on Avalon. Their wings resembled dragonfly wings, beating as fast as a hummingbird.

Bryan held up his hand and the little dragon landed on it like a falconer would. He stroked it under the chin, causing the beast to purr like a kitten. Bryan spoke to Maverick in the ancient tongue of the dragons. The Faerie Dragon growled and took off toward the Intrepid. It didn’t take long for it to come back and land on Bryan’s shoulder. The little creature grunted and growled to the Gil-Gamesh, garbled to everyone else but Bryan understood it perfectly.

“No one is on deck save for a single Brood manning the helm,” Bryan relayed. “He’s got to be planning a kamikaze run on us. He’s probably waiting until we get closer to Idlehorn.”

“A ‘kamikaze’ milord?” Edan asked.

“In the outside world, there was a world war,” Bryan explained. “When the enemy realized they were losing the war, they decided to take out as many of our ships as they could by flying into them, sacrificing themselves to severely damage us. They were called Kamikazes. It means ‘divine wind’ hoping their sacrifice would earn them a place of honor in Heaven.”

“Shall we beat to quarters?” Edan asked.

Bryan thought for a minute then decided against it. “No, if he sees any real change on deck, he may dive at us sooner than expected. He would cut us in half before we could change course or fire any shot off at him. This calls for something with a little more subtlety.”

The Gil-Gamesh got an idea and walked over to the rail. “Hunter, Andrew … Get your Lancers and get up here!” he ordered. The two young men stopped what they’re doing and headed below decks. Within minutes, they returned to the bridge with their Lancers in hand.

“Alright, time for a battle test of your new weapon,” Bryan began. “Behind us is the Intrepid, but its crew is missing and it’s being piloted by a single Brood. From the position they’re in, if we do anything to show aggression, she’ll dive right at us and we won’t be able to respond.”

“You think they’re going to ram us?” Hunter asked.

“More than likely, which is where you and your Lancers come in,” the Gil-Gamesh explained. “I need you to shoot some explosive dragonfire rounds into that ship, preferably up forward where the ammunition is stored. That should be able to blow it right out of the sky.”

“Just out of curiosity sir, why don’t you cast a spell to do the same thing? I mean, your spells seem to be more powerful than these spell shots could ever be.”

“That’s true Andrew, they are, but to cast a spell to travel that distance and be effective, it takes some time in conjuring. If he sees me performing any kind of enchantment, he would more than likely dive right at us. That’s why you built these Lancers, remember … Stealth with precision. To him, it’ll probably look like you’re looking at them through a spyglass. Now, get to it!”

Hunter and Andrew loaded the spell shots into their Lancers. They took position on the aft end of the bridge. “You want to aim about ten feet back from the bow ornament Andy, about halfway down the hull,” Hunter told him.

“Got it …” Andy retorted.

“Remember to adjust your second shot if and when he starts to react,” Bryan reminded them. The two men just nodded their head.

“On three …” Hunter said as he counted down, “One, two, three …” The two men fired simultaneously as the Lancers exploded with a loud “whoosh”, almost like a musket firing, as the dragonfire spat out, launching fireballs that grew incrementally as they travelled through the air. Almost immediately, the two men fired a second volley at the airship. The first two fireballs impacted right on target on the bow, causing a massive explosion as the Intrepid started to dive. Then the second fireballs hit, causing the ammunition to detonate, and the airship was reduced to burning embers.

Bryan steps up and patted his son and son-in-law on the shoulders. “Well done gentlemen, well done. I hate losing another ship but we can’t let them take any advantage over us.”

“The Lancers are more powerful than we ever hoped,” Hunter added. “Great job Andy.”

“Thanks … I just hope it will help in the coming battle,” Andrew said with due humility.

“Well, we may be losing battles like this, but in the end, we’re going to win the war. Morgana won’t know what hit her,” Bryan replied. “In the meantime, I suggest you start planning a training regime to teach our forces how to use them. You won’t have a lot of time to get them up to speed on the Lancers.”

“Don’t worry father. I’m putting together the best shooters from the Knights of the Round Table. These men are already quite skilled with the GunStars, so teaching them how to use the Lancers should be child’s play.”

“You might want to include Captain McLoughlin in your training,” the Gil-Gamesh added. “The Shield Maidens paired with those knights will have to be ready to adjust their tactics.”

“How much time will we have?” Andrew asked.

“Less than a week, a few days at most … I don’t expect Morgana to attack before the new moon, but I need her too. So, I’ll just have to give her a little nudge.”

“Is that a smart thing to do Dad?” Hunter inquired. “We should take all the time we need to get ready for this fight.”

“The problem is that if I give Morgana more time, it brings us closer and closer to the new moon, when the Dark Tides will be at its peak. That’s one advantage I don’t want her to have.”

Before he departed the bridge, Captain O’Brien stopped the Gil-Gamesh. “My apologies Gil-Gamesh, it won’t happen again.”

“Edan, I don’t expect you to be perfect. People make mistakes,” Bryan explained. “Just learn from those mistakes and don’t make the same one again. You get one chance from me, but do it again and you’ll be sacked so fast, I might not land the ship before kicking you overboard.”

Bryan walked right by Edan as he got a lump in his throat from the very ominous threat by the Gil-Gamesh. Hunter tried to reassure the young Captain about his father’s overzealous attack.

“Don’t worry Edan. Jupiter Antilles once told me my father threatened him on more than one occasion to toss him overboard. I’d say you were in good company.”

“I hope so Hunter. It’s just … I’d hate to be the first.”


The Dark Tides is now available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.