Writing Tip Blog Swap with Sara Jayne Townsend

Sara Jayne Townsend and I have swapped blogs to share writing tips today. She stopped by in June to talk about writer insecurity. You can read that post here. Today she’s talking about the struggles she had finishing her first novel and getting it published. Along the way, she drops several lessons she has taken from her experience.

I’ll also give some writing tips on her site. My post focuses on what I’ve learned writing a series. So after you finished reading this post, hop over there to see what I have to say.



By Sara Jayne Townsend

sara-113-Web (2)


My newest release with MuseItUp Publishing is a supernatural horror novel called SUFFER THE CHILDREN that will be hitting the virtual book shelves in late spring. This particular novel is a re-release and has a special place in my heart. Not only was it my first published novel, but it and I have been on a very long journey together.


The journey began in the early 1990s when I wrote a short story called ‘Kiddiwinks’, inspired by a creepy-looking abandoned house I used to pass on my way to work in those days. The story was about a group of children who dare each other to break into the neighbourhood’s creepy house, telling stories about the witch that allegedly lives there, and they discover too late it is indeed occupied by an old lady who eats children. I put the story to my writing group and they encouraged me to turn it into a novel. Which I did. I started the novel in 1994, and it took me ten years to finish.


I learned a lot of lessons in writing that novel, one of which was that anyone who wants to be published shouldn’t take ten years over one novel. One of the main reasons that it took me so long was that in those days I didn’t plot properly. I’d started with a concept and a set of characters. I knew where I wanted to begin, and I knew vaguely where I wanted to be at the end, but I’d given no thought as to how I was going to get there. Unsurprisingly, I got halfway through and had no idea what was going to happen next. I put the manuscript away in a drawer and got on with writing other things. Then I got to a point when I decided I was going to finish this accursed manuscript if it killed me. I went back through what I had and made copious notes, and then I wrote a three-page plot summary, detailing everything that had to happen, from beginning to end. From there I broke the plot down even further, into a chapter-by-chapter summary. Between that and having some time off from work one Christmas, during which time I was able to hammer out 10,000 words, I was able to get to the end of the first draft. And this was another important lesson: plotting. I am now a meticulous plotter, drafting out plot summaries and chapter breakdowns before I even begin writing chapter one. And I no longer get ‘stuck’ halfway through a story.


SUFFER THE CHILDREN was finally finished in 2004, and I started sending out the manuscript. Unfortunately, by then horror had fallen out of favour in the UK. Many of the rejections I collected claimed that the novel was YA, which I didn’t agree with – after all my inspiration was Stephen King, who has written many books with kids as main characters, and he’s not a YA author.


At the beginning of the 21st century, the increasing popularity of e-books saw an increase in the number of small e-presses who did not require an agent as gatekeeper and were more likely to take a chance on a new writer. I started submitting to them, and there’s another lesson: literary agents are not the only way to go. Eventually the novel got accepted by Lyrical Press, but they gave me a condition: the character of Leanne had to be 18, because they didn’t deal with YA. I eventually relented, re-wrote the novel and signed the contract. You have to pick your arguments – another important lesson.


SUFFER THE CHILDREN was released by Lyrical Press as my first published novel in 2010, but the contract was for three years. When the rights were returned to me I commissioned an artist friend to design a new cover, and self-published it. Finally, when I signed on with MuseItUp for the Shara Summers series, they expressed interest in more of my work and I sold the rights to them. SUFFER THE CHILDREN will once more be available later this year – and with the label of YA I resisted for so long. And there’s possibly the most important lesson. Don’t get too hung up on labels, especially if your publisher is suggesting how to market your novel.




Orphaned at eighteen, Leanne’s life is adrift in a sea of grief and drug use. She washes up on the shore of estranged relatives, the Carver family, struggling with loss of their own. The transition from her South London council estate to her new home in the Surrey middle-class suburbs is difficult for Leanne.


But beneath the respectable veneer of the quiet neighborhood, something terrifying lurks. Displaced and troubled teenagers are disappearing. Leanne recruits her cousin Simon and his girlfriend Carrie to help get to the bottom of the sinister mystery. Can the three of them stop a creature of unimaginable evil before Leanne becomes a target?


About the Author:

Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror, and someone tends to die a horrible death in all of her stories.  She was born in Cheshire in 1969, but spent most of the 1980s living in Canada after her family emigrated there.  She now lives in Surrey with two cats and her guitarist husband Chris.  She co-founded the T Party Writers’ Group in 1994, and remains Chair Person.


She decided she was going to be a published novelist when she was 10 years old and finished her first novel a year later.  It took 30 years of submitting, however, to fulfil that dream.


Learn more about Sara and her writing at her website (http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com) and her blog (http://sayssara.wordpress.com). You can also follow her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarajtownsend) and Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3500282.Sara_Jayne_Townsend), and buy her books from Amazon (UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B003QROE8S and US: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003QROE8S).


The Curse of the White Screen by Jami Gray–with a FREE BOOK for EVERYONE!

Today I’m joined by Jami Gray, and she shares a struggle of writing: a blank screen. Not only is she going to tell us about her problems with it, she’s going to give you a book. No contests. No lucky winners. Just read her post and click on the buy link to your favorite eBook retailer to get a copy of the first book in the Kyn Kronicles, SHADOW’S EDGE.

The Curse of the White Screen

If you’re a writer, chances are you’ve faced the horrifying reality of a blank screen. Generally, this terror strikes when you’ve finally completed the roller coaster ride of your last work in progress. You’re flushed with the sweet knowledge that you managed to get your characters, their world and a magnificent plot etched into electronic stone. Some writers may decide to take a small breather, a day, a week, a month, before attempting the next great journey. Others (who are much braver than I am) give themselves a whopping hour before setting fingers to keyboard. Regardless of when you start, everyone encounters the same picture—a white screen where words tremble on the edge of existence.

Since I can’t speak for all of us out there (and we are legion!) we’ll say the views stated below are solely mine.

Follow me back three books. After mending the rips and tears from my writing partners on my second Urban Fantasy, SHADOW’S SOUL, I sent it on to my editor so she could dissect it and throw it back. The apparition of my third book, SHADOW’S MOON, loomed ahead like a large writer-eating slug.

Strapped to my office chair with chains of headphone cords and superglue dusting my fingertips, the urge to run was greatly dampened as I prepared to face my nemesis—a white screen. The decision had been made that SHADOW’S MOON would follow Xander, a secondary character, so as to give our main character couple a break. As the screen mocked me, my brain whirled. Plots and subplots flew around in a maelstrom. Faced with the fact that Xander, the heroine of my third book, was actually a fairly well adjusted, not too tormented being, I panicked. I don’t do well-adjusted characters. Dark and edgy are the two biggest components of character creation for me. Granted Xander can kick butt with the best of them, but she comes from a loving family, she’s confident in herself and her abilities, she’s unique and she just happens to be involved with a not-so-well-adjusted alpha male.

Slowly, bit-by-bit I started to carve out the plot, but it was like pulling teeth—without painkillers. I got halfway through, and felt like I just completed a 5K run in flip-flops. I sent out an SOS text to my partners in word slinging.

“Do I have to do it from her POV?” I whine.

Their responses are instantaneous: “Don’t be wimpy!” “Suck it up!” “YES!” and so on.

Resigned to my fate, I set Siri aside and continued on. Years and years later, I have a plot. HOORAY! Now to come up with the opening scene.


I reached into my emergency stash of chocolate and caffeine. I harbor a futile hope that this edible combination will save me from the bleak fate waiting on the other side of the screen.

I spent days lost in my head running through various scenarios. It got so bad I ended up walking around my house muttering constantly, hair sticking every which way, and wearing clothes that show why stripes and plaid should never go together. It’s horrible and my husband seriously considered contacting the local psych ward for help.

Finally, I dragged my weary, abused mind back to the computer. Six hours later, all I had to show for my efforts were seven measly pages. Tears of relief played havoc with my vision as I powered down the computer. That night I’m thrilled I’ve gotten something down, and even managed to go to sleep.

Then morning came, and with it, the realization that the scene would not work—not for the opening, and probably not in this book. My creativity threatened to implode. Now my inner critic pipes up. Maybe two books are all you have. You’re all written out. My creative well was empty.

I contemplated new hobbies such as…maybe….cooking, the kind that doesn’t involve a microwave, or rock collecting…a wisp of something drifted through my mind. It teased the edges of my consciousness with subtle pokes and prods, finally it snapped me out of my self indulgent whine-fest. That teasing temptation whispered, “What if…”, and suddenly I was tripping across the floors (it’s a super talent) and stumbling to my desk. Fingers raced across the keyboard and the most wonderful sight ever….WORDS started to spread across the white screen.

With six books under my belt, I have complete confidence I will face the challenge of the white screen again, rather soon actually. Any writer will warn you, this situation will pop up with frightening frequency…in the beginning of the story, in the middle of the story, at the end of the story. No matter how many times you manage to beat it back, it will endure, but so will you, because that’s what writers do. We endure and push through all those walls and blank screens so we can share the magic of our worlds and introduce readers to our wickedly cool peeps.

Pick up SHADOW’S EDGE for FREE for a limited time and dive into the shadows of the Kyn…

Amazon     ARe     Black Opal Books     Smashwords     iBooks     Kobo     Scribd.     Google Play


SHADOW’S EDGE, Kyn Kronicles #1
Everyone fears what hunts in the shadows—especially the monsters…

When the supernatural lurks in the shadows of the mundane, hunting monsters requires unique skills, like those of Raine McCord. A series of deaths threatens to reveal the Kyn community and forces her to partner with the sexy Gavin Durand.

As the trail leads to the foundation haunting Raine’s childhood, she and Gavin must unravel lies and betrayals to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.

Jami Gray Small


Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. She can be soothed with coffee and chocolate. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.

You can find me at:

Black Opal Books: http://www.BlackOpalBooks.com

Muse It Up Publishing: http://museituppublishing.com

Website: http://www.JamiGray.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jamigray.author

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JamiGrayUFWriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JamiGrayAuthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/JamiGray

Google+: https://google.com/+JamiGray

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.com/e/B006HU3HJI

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/LvoZn

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/jamigrayauthor/

You can find all the buy links for both The Kyn Kronicles and PSY-IV Teams, in all formats at:



Or you can use the following:


THINGS THAT GO BUMP FOR THE HOLIDAYS (Wrapped in Shadows .5 Kyn Kronicles)

Amazon: http://amzn.com/1626940908

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/things-that-go-bump-for-the-holidays-black-opal-books/1117680975?ean=2940148940685

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/387518

Black Opal Books: http://www.blackopalbooks.com/anthology/things-that-go-bump

Shadow’s Edge: Bk 1 of Kyn Kronicles

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0061CAXJ4

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-shadow039sedgethekynkroniclesbook1-625433-139.html

Black Opal Books: http://www.blackopalbooks.com/shop-our-store/authors/jami-gray

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/101023

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/shadows-edge-kyn-kronicles/id482595056?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/shadow-s-edge-the-kyn-kronicles-book-1

Scribd.: https://www.scribd.com/book/235371403/Shadow-s-Edge-The-Kyn-Kronicles-Book-1

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Jami_Gray_Shadow_s_Edge?id=ubxyAgAAQBAJ

Shadow’s Soul:Bk 2 of the Kyn Kronicles

Black Opal Books: http://www.blackopalbooks.com/shop-our-store/authors/jami-gray

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B008DIZ9OI

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-shadow039ssoulthekynkroniclesbook2-848561-139.html

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shadows-soul-the-kyn-kronicles-book-2-jami-gray/1111742135?ean=2940014698955

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/174291

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/shadows-soul-kyn-kronicles/id541827836?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/shadow-s-soul-the-kyn-kronicles-book-2-1

Scribd.: https://www.scribd.com/book/235371430/Shadow-s-Soul-the-Kyn-Kronicles-Book-2

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Jami_Gray_Shadow_s_Soul?id=nb9yAgAAQBAJ

Shadow’s Moon: Bk 3 of the Kyn Kronicles

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00K8AZZES

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shadows-moon-the-kyn-kronicles-book-3-jami-gray/1119462166?ean=2940149437719

Black Opal Books: http://www.blackopalbooks.com/shop-our-store/authors/jami-gray

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/435674

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-shadow039smoonthekynkroniclesbook3-1507186-140.html

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/shadows-moon-kyn-kronicles/id875444016?mt=11

Kobo http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/shadow-s-moon

Scribd.: https://www.scribd.com/book/233279819/Shadow-s-Moon-The-Kyn-Kronicles-Book-3

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Jami_Gray_Shadow_s_Moon?id=npODAwAAQBAJ

Shadow’s Curse: Bk 4 of the Kyn Kronicles

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00RLE3PZU

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shadows-curse-jami-gray/1121072005?ean=9781626942202

Black Opal Books: http://www.blackopalbooks.com/shop-our-store/authors/jami-gray

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/shadows-curse-kyn-kronicles/id954894551?mt=11

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/505822

KOBO: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/shadow-s-curse-the-kyn-kronicles-book-4

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-shadow039sedgethekynkroniclesbook1-625433-140.html
Scribd: https://www.scribd.com/book/253090806/Shadow-s-Curse-The-Kyn-Kronicles-Book-4


Hunted by the Past: Bk 1 of PSY-IV Teams

MuseItUp Publishing: https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/our-authors/57-our-authors/authors-g/445-jami-gray

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00M289FTA

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/449240

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1119776913?ean=9781771275538&itm=1&usri=9781771275538

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id890554328

ARe: https://www.omnilit.com/product-huntedbythepast-1553419-143.html

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/books/Hunted-by-the-Past/PsOHi6QaXUSjCDITW_cZ-A?MixID=PsOHi6QaXUSjCDITW_cZ-A&PageNumber=1&MixID=PsOHi6QaXUSjCDITW_cZ-A&PageNumber=1

Google Play:

A Quick Update

I haven’t made many posts here lately, so I thought I should leave a few words about what’s happening.

0904157First, I’d like to welcome all the new visitors from France. An article appeared on cafepedagogique.net about the project I’m working on with Marie-Hélène Fasquel and the American International section at lycée international Nelson Mandela de Nantes. This project has been an amazing experience. I plan on writing more about it as it draws toward the conclusion. Madam Fasquel and I have made plans to work together again next school year.

The Squire and the Slave Master, the first of two sequels to Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud, has entered the editing phase. As always, my content editor Katie Carroll has brought her magic to the pages. I think it’s better than Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud. I’m anxious to hear what the readers think. Look for it August 4 from all major eBook retailers.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, or if you’ve fallen behind on reading the stories, Lightning Quick Reads is going strong. If you don’t know, LQR is a collaborative short story blog of 12 authors masterminded by Kai Strand. My stories post on the 17th of each month. I’m currently in the middle of a 3 part science fiction story about genetically engineered humans. Also, it’s a great opportunity to check out the other 11 authors.

Last, the edits are finished on the paperback release of Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud. It should be available soon.

Kenneth Hicks and Anne Rothman-Hicks: Writing as a Team

If you don’t count working with editors, I’ve done all my writing alone. But I have found myself wondering how writers work as a team. Well, Ken Hicks and Anne Rothman-Hicks have kindly shared that information with me for today’s post.

How and why do we write as a couple?

We first started writing together when we were in College – Anne at Bryn Mawr College and Ken at Haverford College.  We asked one of Ken’s favorite English professors at Haverford to oversee a project course in which we would write a work of juvenile fiction over the course of a semester and he agreed.  We talked about what we wanted to do, prepared a somewhat sketchy outline, and started writing.  One of us would prepare a draft of a chapter and the other person would then work on it, then we would talk some more, plan some more, and write some more.  The process continued until we had a finished book.  That was approximately 44 years ago.

What we learned very quickly back then has remained true throughout the course of our writing together.

First, you must put your ego aside.  You must be willing to accept the criticism of your partner as valid and, even if you don’t agree, you must be willing to understand why the criticism is being made.  In other words, you may not like the change that is proposed, but you can still agree that some change to the prose is necessary.

Second, you must put your ego aside.  You must be willing to be partners, which means not taking credit for a particular sentence or paragraph or line of dialogue.  What comes out on the page is a finished product of the partnership – of the process of two people thinking, talking and working together.

Third, you must put your ego aside.  Okay, you get the message?

The benefits of the writing partnership are extensive.  During those dark nights of the soul when you wonder why you are bothering to put pen to paper or pound those keys, there is someone to pull you out of your funk, kick you in the rear end, or pat you on the back, whatever might be needed.  During the good times, you have someone to share you happiness in a way that probably no one else in the world can understand or appreciate better than your partner.  You also have the memories of the process itself.  We still laugh at a few of the things that we wrote — and regretted — over the course of our years together.

And laughter brings me back to the ego thing again.  You really have to be able to laugh at yourself and not take yourself too seriously.  You’re writing a book.  Do the best you can with the talent you have – and do that always.  But enjoy yourself.  We always have and hopefully will continue to do so for many years.

Melange pic 2

Kenneth Hicks and Anne Rothman-Hicks


Authors of:
Kate and the Kid, (adult fiction)(Wings ePress)Kate and the Kid - WEB II
Stone Faces, (middle grade)(on the Apple iBookstore)
Hearts (no flowers) Signs of Love in the Gritty City (on the Apple iBookstore)
Mind Me, Milady, (adult fiction)(coming in October, Barbarian Books)

Theft of the Shroud (adult fiction) (Banbury/Putnam)

Series of Ten Books on Children’s names (Banbury/Putnam)


The Return of Erin Albert and the Prophecy Blog Tour

Today I’m pleased to welcome my first return guest. Her first guest post, which you can find here, is the third most viewed guest post on this site as of 10:45 CST on November 10, 2013 (in other words, I just checked), and believe me, the two ahead of her are stiff competition. She is also the most frequent commenter on this blog, other than myself. Of course I’m speaking about Erin Albert. Her book, The Prophecy, comes out Friday (it’s available for pre-order here), and she’s excited to tell you about it to entice the few of you who haven’t pre-ordered it to drop the $4.40. She’s sent along two excerpts, a blurb, and a bio to go along with the blog post which finally explains how she is the only person I know who has successfully pulled 26 hours out of a day.


First of all, I want to give a big shout out and virtual hug to my book brother, Eric, for hosting me today!! His book Unveiling the Wizard’s Shroud comes out November 22, so be sure to check it out!! Fantasy novels ROCK!

Eric asked me to give a little bit of information about my writing process. If you dare, enter the inner workings of my mind… 😉

What am I working on?

I am always working on multiple projects. Currently, I am revising the sequel, The Outlanders, to my young adult fantasy debut novel, The Prophecy (which releases November 15). I also have a futuristic thriller called Number 25598, a middle grade fiction in the vein of Judy Blume called Meet Kit: An American Boy, and another young adult fantasy novel without a title—all in progress.

Why do I write what I do?

I write young adult books because I LOVE young adult books. My friend and Dream Team member Danielle Craver (she created all of the crest for The Prophecy) got me hooked on the YA genre, and I’ve read that almost exclusively ever since. Epic high fantasy appeals to me because I’ve always loved Arthurian legend. When George R.R. Martin combined that time period with fantastical elements, my mind sprung to life. Reading fantasy allows a person to fully immerse in a totally different world, escaping this one completely. Who doesn’t need a good escape every now and then?

How does your writing process work?

I am a total pantser, which means I do not plan a thing. I have a rough idea of how I want the story to start and how I want it to end, but I let the characters take over for the middle. Sometimes that gets me in some logic trouble, but I’m fortunate enough to have my Dream Team and critique partners to catch those little snafus.

The demands on my life and time afford me a very short window to get my writing done, usually between 3pm-5pm. I have ADD, so I always have to drink something caffeinated to help me focus. Also, a little container of chocolate is a creative must. I seek to write a chapter a day (my Dream Team member and timekeeper, Kim Sharp, requires a new chapter to read each night which keeps me on task).

The creative portion of my work takes me very little time. I wrote the entire Fulfillment Trilogy in 3 months. But I am also an anal grammar freak, so editing the work takes me MUCH longer. It’s a painstaking process.

So, to recap: Afternoon writing time with chocolate and caffeine, 1 chapter a day, and edit, edit, edit!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post!!


Back Cover:

Growing up on a small farm in the kingdom of Vanguard, seventeen-year-old Layla Givens lives a deceptively tranquil existence. But her carefully constructed life quickly falls apart when she’s abducted by a religious zealot who proclaims her The Fulfillment of an ancient peace prophecy and whisks her away to marry her greatest enemy.

Wilhelm, Prince of the Ethereals, is reluctant to meet his new bride. He’s grown up believing Vanguards are evil, an enemy to fight and fear…not love. Can he set aside his prejudices and work alongside Layla to bring lasting peace after centuries of war?

Nash, a loner who has never fit in, carries a huge secret, one big enough to destroy both kingdoms. When he accidently meets Layla, he’s no longer content to live in the shadows, but he must resist his growing attraction—for her safety and for the longevity of the two kingdoms.

When Nash’s secret is revealed, a firestorm sweeps through both realms, with Layla at the center. Now she must choose between duty and desire while the fate of two nations hangs in the balance.

The Short:

Even though she had no chance to escape now, Layla shoved the Elder with all her might. The blow sent him flying into the baker’s door, which splintered under the force, and she darted forward.  The Vanguard soldiers moved to block her.

“We are all Vanguards,” she pleaded. “Please let me go.”

For a moment, they hesitated.  Layla used the opening to slip around them.  She ran as fast as her legs would carry her, but they proved to be too slow.  Within moments, the soldiers leapt upon her, knocking her to the ground.  Wrenching Layla up by her hair, they dragged her back to the Elder, whose face now bled from his encounter with the baker’s door.

“I see you’re going to be trouble.” He brushed the dirt off his robes.  “You can’t escape your destiny, girl.”

The Long:

“Everything must be taken down.” A rotund man, with beady black eyes, surveyed the town, disdain in his expression. While he did not appear distinguishable from the other black and purple clad men, he spoke with authority. “The First Ones and their great Prophecy must be honored properly.” He sniffed, his actions indicating the very existence of Medlin and its occupants offended him.

Layla wondered what this man considered a “proper honoring” of the First Ones. The First Ones…they’d been dead for centuries, and, as far as Layla could tell, hadn’t done much in life except start a never-ending war. She knew nothing more about them except that she was to thank them for good things, curse them for bad, and celebrate them on this day.

“That’s Elder Werrick, head of the Ecclesiastics,” whispered Samson, glancing back at Grant. Layla noticed the look that passed between them.

Grant nodded his assent. “Get her out of here, brother.”

Samson tried to steer Layla away, but she held her position to get a closer look at the man whom her family so feared. She knew they had good reason to worry—her black hair and purple eyes marked her as a Fulfillment candidate, one with the potential to bring about the long awaited peace. But she couldn’t quite bring herself to believe Elder Werrick would notice her on the crowded streets, especially with her eye drops and hood. Could he really be responsible for dragging candidates from their homes, forcing them to undergo strenuous, sometimes gruesome, testing for the sake of the Prophecy? To Layla, he looked like nothing more than a short, fat, unhappy man. The very notion that he could strike such fear into the hearts of her people seemed almost laughable…almost. As his gaze swept over the crowd, she glimpsed a sinister undertone that made her shiver.

Waving his pudgy arms at the awaiting townspeople, Werrick commanded, “Take it down.”

Suddenly, his body stilled and his tiny eyes grew wide. They briefly connected with Layla’s, narrowing with calculation. The Elder turned to his nearest black clad companion.

“Do you feel that?” Layla heard Werrick ask.

The other man looked skeptical. “Feel what, Elder?”

Werrick leaned in as the two whispered, stealing furtive glances in her direction. When the Elder’s companion pointed at Layla, Samson grabbed her arm. She heard his breathing change from rhythmic to jagged as he pulled her away from the men.

“We have to go now.” His urgency spurred her into action.

Grant moved to block them from the Elder’s view. “Get her away from here, Samson.”

The Elder looked up to see everyone staring at him as if frozen. He repeated his demand, “I said take everything down.”

The townspeople, joined by the Elder’s minion, scampered to remove their decorations, anxious to “properly” celebrate the First Ones. Their flurry of activity concealed Layla as Samson and Grant escorted her away. Layla scanned the streets, horrified, as the people of Medlin stripped the town’s center barren. In no time, everything appeared as it always had, devoid of any celebratory adornments. She looked up at the sky with its gray clouds lingering overhead. A bad omen…

On the hill, a safe distance away, Layla watched a group of Ecclesiastics erect a monstrous stage where the donkey races should have occurred. She heard the braying of the angry animals, harnessed and corralled on the orders of the Elder to avoid interfering with the “true” Day of Dawning celebration. Her ire rose. Who did they think they were coming in and changing everything?

An icy, phantom finger traced a frigid line down her spine. After hearing warning after warning from the Mantars her whole life, Layla knew exactly what the Ecclesiastics could do, what they had done to others in the past. Maybe Samson and Grant had been right. Maybe she should never have come, especially today. Layla turned her back on the town, resolved to go home, to safety.

“Layla!” Samson’s alarmed tone sliced into her, and she swung around toward him.

To her horror, two Vanguard soldiers forced Samson to the ground. She knew just how much strength he possessed, yet he couldn’t free himself. Her hands balled up into fists, shaking with their desire to unleash the full force of their fury.

“Run!” Samson screamed before a soldier’s fist smashed into his face.

His body stilled. Panic, coupled with indecision, crippled her. She should run like Samson commanded, but she couldn’t leave him lying there. To her relief, Grant ambled toward them, his eyes full of rage.

“Run!” Grant echoed Samson’s warning.

With a final glance at the two boys who’d been as close to her as brothers, Layla fled. She flew down the hill, swinging her head from side to side in alarm. Ecclesiastics swarmed throughout the city, making a clear escape route difficult to discern.

Terror rose within Layla. Why hadn’t she listened to her family? She’d been foolish to believe she could sneak around under the ever-watchful eyes of the Ecclesiastics, and that hubris put Samson and Grant in danger as well. She choked back a sob.

“Run,” she whispered.

Willing her feet to move forward, Layla darted toward the back of the baker’s shop, hoping to take a shortcut through the back alleyway. She swerved to miss a wooden box and stumbled, arms flailing to right herself. Unfamiliar hands reached out to break her fall. Once stable, Layla looked up to find Elder Werrick staring down at her. She screamed but no sound came out of her open mouth.

“I’ve been looking for you,” he said, a wicked smile on his face.


Erin Albert is an author and fitness trainer. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the “Grammar Police.” In her free time, Erin enjoys acting, running, kickboxing, and, of course, reading and writing.

Find me online:

Preorder Link: https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/our-authors/50-our-authors/authors-a/381-erin-albert

Twitter: @ErinAlbertBooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Erin-Albert-Books/182769448541270

Website: http://www.erinalbertbooks.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18160774-the-prophecy


Guest Post: Margaret Fieland and writing Geek Games

Today I’m joined by Margaret Fieland. She discusses the writing process (or chain of events) that led to her soon-to-be released YA science fiction novel, Geek Games. As a writer, I still find it interesting to read about other writers’ processes, and I have to give my thoughts about one piece of this. Margaret mentions a fact she discovered about one of her characters, something she did not know when she started writing the story. In my opinion, this is the best part about writing, and I encourage everyone to write a story, even if you have no intention of letting anyone else read it, just so you can experience this. Now, before I spoil the post, I better turn it over to Margaret.

Writing Geek Games

When I wrote Relocated  for 2010 Nano, my only goal was to overcome my phobia about science fiction world building. As a long-time science fiction fan, I’d read reams of the stuff but had managed to avoid writing any. In September of 2010, I decided to remedy that. I spent about six weeks planning, mostly in the world building, and wrote the first draft of the novel in a month. It took me quite a bit longer to revise it, and I submitted it to MuseItUp Publishing. It was published in July of 2011.

Starting fairly early in 2011, I wrote what would, after several major revisions, become Broken Bonds.  In the late fall, when I was still struggling with it, I decided to start another YA sci fi novel. I chose Martin Samuels, one of the secondary characters from Relocated, as the main character. I wrote the first draft for 2011 Nano, and then started revising. The whole thing went a great deal more smoothly than Broken Bonds had. I completed both novels and submitted them. Geek Games, the YA sci fi novel, will be published on Nov. 29th. It takes place right after the action of Relocated,  and some four years before Broken Bonds. Martin does appear in the latter novel as well.

Because Geek Games used an existing character and because I decided to use the novel to tie up a few loose ends from Relocated, Martin’s age was fixed at just shy of fifteen. Martin, who to my surprise turned out to be gay, becomes involved in a romance with another boy. My concept of the relationship, and of what happens to Martin after the book ends, changed as I worked on both Geek Games  and Broken Bonds. Fortunately, I decided not to submit Broken Bonds until I was ready to submit Geek Games also. I was uncomfortable, for no reason that I could point to at the time, about submitting a novel that took place four or five years after the one I was working on.

I’ve just completed the first draft of another adult sci fi noel, one which takes place right after Broken Bonds, and I’ve started plotting out another YA novel, one which takes place right after Geek Games  — so far, anyway. I can see I’ll have to give a bit on my penchant for linearity, so I’m guessing I’ll be ready to submit the adult novel before the other is ready.

In case you’re wondering, back when we all still rented movies by dashing into the video store, I would start looking for flics starting with A. Then I discovered I’d overlooked the latest — at the time — Star Trek movie, so I started alternating by starting with Z and working backwards. I’m not particularly well-organized, nor am I particularly neat, but I am fairly linear. Each crazily obsessive person is obsessive in their own way.

And now a question for you readers. What do you think of flashbacks? For or against? How about novels that weave threads from two different time periods?  I’m not a fan of either.

Geek Games 333x500Blurb:

When fourteen-year-old Martin lets Tom, a charismatic bully, persuade him to bring down the spaceport computer network, he never considers someone will place a bomb resulting in the death of his friend’s father. Nothing will bring Captain Frey back, but if Martin can help locate the terrorists’ drug lab, perhaps he’ll be able to forgive himself.


“Are we able to wash up?” I asked after the all clear sounded. “I stink.”

“Come on,” Beram said. “I’ll show you the shower.”

“Come on, Alan, you too.”

Alan climbed down, and we followed Beram to the end of the corridor. A shower proved to be a popular idea, as the rest of the crew assembled behind us. Low laughter reached my ears, and I turned around.

“What do you bet they both run off?” Gamal asked in Aleyni.

Suresh threw an arm around Gamal’s shoulder and planted a big kiss on his mouth. A grin split his face as he glanced at me.

Some joke. Ha, ha. I was laughing my head off—not. Sure, he wanted to make me and Alan uncomfortable. Expected us to be uncomfortable. None of the Aleynis displayed either surprise or disgust, and my gut clenched. My father would have backhanded me if I’d kissed a man in his presence. I would have given every last credit I possessed, assuming I owned any, to make my father react the way the Aleynis did.

Gamal’s gaze bored into me, eyebrows raised, waiting for some kind of response, but the Aleyni word assembly line broke down, and my brain froze solid.

Here’s something weird. Or maybe not; I don’t know. When I spoke Aleyni, I needed to think in Aleyni, so sometimes my thoughts would stop because I couldn’t yet formulate the thought in the alien language.

Hoping to unstop the dam, I opened my mouth to tell him he could go ahead and kiss all the men he wanted, with or without me around. No go. Pathetic.

Gamal touched the door, and it retracted into the wall, revealing a synglass-coated chamber with shower heads suspended from the walls and ceiling and a spigot on one wall.

After a minute, the log jam eased up. Showers were a much safer topic than kissing guys. “How does it work?”

“You soap up, then steam to rinse off.” Beram grinned, his gaze traveling up and down first my body, and then Alan’s. “I’ll show you. The shower is big enough for three. In order to save water, we shower two or three at a time.”

Alan gulped and backed away from the door. “I’ll pass.” He ran down the corridor.

“How about you?” Beram asked.

Inside my head, the vidi of me and Beram naked together in the steamy shower played two or three times. I nodded. “Who goes first?”

Suresh grinned.“You two may have the honor of the first shower this time.”

Gamal crossed his arms and stared at me.

Remove my clothes here, with Gamal and Suresh eager to examine my every move? The air stuck in my throat. They’d have a clear view of my naked body’s reaction to Beram.

Gamal poked Suresh with his elbow and whispered something in his ear.

I’d probably been broadcasting my thoughts again. But lust overcame my fear, and Beram and I stripped and stepped into the shower. We soaped up, and I couldn’t help staring. Beram’s smooth skin showed no body hair at all.

“No Aleyni has body hair,” he said. “You didn’t realize?”

I shook my head. “How would I?” Did he find body hair repulsive? Mildly distasteful? Intriguing, the way I found his smooth skin?

Beram touched a control on the wall and blasts of steam washed us clean. While I hesitated, wondering what to do, Beram pulled my head toward him and kissed me. I kissed him back.

His warm lips pressed against mine, smooth and soft. I breathed in the fragrance of citrus soap and musk, Beram’s odor and mine. Our mouths were closed, and it lasted only a moment, but the universe tilted; and when it tilted back, everything changed.

No question remained: I loved men, always would. Period, end of sentence. The recognition started in my gut, in the center of my body, and radiated outwards.

I took a step back and grinned at Beram. He placed a hand on the side of my face, only for a moment. It was the most intimate thing I’d ever experienced .

Gamal and Suresh waited outside the shower, both leaning against the wall and grinning. Suresh poked Gamal, whispering something like, “Pay up.”


My Author page on the MuseItUp website, with links to all three of my sci fi novels:


Amazon author page:http://www.amazon.com/MargaretFieland/e/B008E6QBFU






Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/margaret.fieland


goodreads:   http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4417476.Margaret_Fieland

Guest Post: Penny Ehrenkranz on Creating a Fantasy World

This week I have Penny Ehrenkranz, a fellow MuseItUp author as well as an editor with the publisher. We have another similarity, we’ve both published with Sam’s Dot Publishing. She shares a blurb about her collection of short fantasy and science fiction stories available with them later in the post. But first, I asked Penny to write something about fantasy literature for me (I like to be vague with my guest requests–I think it stimulates their creativity). She wrote an excellent essay about how to create a fantasy world. This is a must read for all aspiring fantasy writers, and I’m proud to say I followed all her rules in my forthcoming book, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud. (Hey, it’s my blog. I can shamelessly plug my book if I want.)


By: Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz


Creating a fantasy world means building a world based upon reality, making sure your reader knows the rules of your world, and having your characters remain true to those rules throughout your story.

How do you go about creating a reality that readers will accept? Defining your locale can be a good place to start. It may be helpful for you to make a physical map of your world.  Include street names, inns, the palace, business establishments — anything that will involve your protagonist or your antagonist. If you want your action to take place in a rural location, lay out farms, travelers’ way stations, out-lying estates.  Include anything that will bring your story to life for your reader.

Magic is often the key in fantasy.  When you decide to bring it into your story, you must first decide how much and who has it.   After you decide who has the magic, you need to decide where it originates.  There are several common sources: the gods, nature, sacred places, plants and animals, artifacts, and innate talent.

You’ll want to structure your society around who has magic and who doesn’t.  If magic users aren’t in charge, they may be servants of those with economical power.  Is the magic in your story a gift treasured and respected by the general populace, or is it an evil feared?  The attitude of the people in your world toward magic will help you in structuring your society.

No matter which source of magic you choose, there are a number of variables to consider.  Be sure to write down who does what to whom and how it is done.  Then, the next time magic appears in your story, follow the same rules.  If you don’t, your reader will become confused.

Take the time to learn more about different weapons and what damage they can do.  Remember, there are long knives and short knives, broad swords and dueling swords, daggers and hunting knives.  Each type and style was designed for a specific purpose.

What your characters wear is just as important as their weapons.  Traditional fantasy characters always wear clothing typical of the Middle Ages.  Obtain a reference book on the Middle Ages for accurate descriptions of clothing types and styles for the period you have chosen for your tale.

Your world won’t be real to your readers until it’s real to you.


A Past and A Future, a collection of sixteen fantasy and soft science fiction short stories, available from Sam’s Dot Publishing and Smashwords

Stories included in A Past and A Future are:

1. Flight of the Roc

What would you do if your master told you to collect a roc’s egg?  What would happen if the egg you collected hatched?

2. Blurred Vengeance

Temur’s father is murdered.  Will his journey to avenge his father’s death bring him what he wants, or will it destroy him?

3. Who Will Heal the Healer

Marzan teaches Niane to control the winds, but what about the winds of fate?  Will Niane be able to save her mentor when the underworld claims him?

4. Ashley of Ashland

Ashley, a young magician covets his brother’s fiance, but what are her feelings?  Can Ashley’s magic be enough to save him and his true love?

5. The Watcher

Zerelda is a watcher in a world of women.  When a prince comes to impregnate her ruler, will they find a forbidden love instead?

6. Enchantress

Merlin knows his fate, but he struggles to stand against it.  Will his powers be stronger than his apprentice’s, or will he find himself a victim of love?


She is from this world.  He is from another.  A dragon draws them together.  Will she look beyond his pointed ears and see the man of her dreams?

8. Heshe

Lyda runs, hiding her identity from her abusive stepfather.  Her rescuer has a secret of his own.  Will they both find happiness or will their pursuers stop them before they find their paradise?

9. The Baby Makers

How far would you go to have a baby if you can’t conceive on your own?  Would you accept a clone?  Would you fight for that’s child’s rights in a world unprepared for it?

10. 3-D Pictures

Avery’s boss thought he was crazy, but was he?  When he stared into the 3-D picture, he saw a land others couldn’t.  Will he enter the picture, or accept the doctor’s diagnosis?

11. Screen Saver

Clancy is used to strange people.  His boss represents them.  But when the bullets start flying, will the screen saver save him?

12. Isolation

The world has died, except for small pockets of isolated communities.   But what if you are tired of the isolation?  What if you wanted to find somewhere to be free?  Would you take the chance?

13. Love in a Different Hue

Chiri’s father is a scientist who invents artificial life.   What should she do when the robot her father created looks better to her than her husband?

14. Down So Low The Ground Looks Like Up

Sylvan is sensitive to others feelings.  It drives her crazy, so she drinks to dull the pain.  Will Dev, the police officer who finds her, rescue her from her demons?

15. Rebels With a Cause

Shahleena is bored with her existence.  Will volunteering to help juvenile offenders help her or help them?

16. Clockworks

John lives in Structured.  His ancestors came from Upheaval.  On a whim, he decides to visit.  What will happen to him when he cannot leave fast enough?

Author Photo resizedBIO:

Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz has published more than 100 articles, 75 stories, a chapbook, and her stories have been included in two anthologies. She writes for both adults and children. Her fiction has appeared in numerous genre and children’s publications, and non‑fiction work has appeared in a variety of writing, parenting, and young adult print magazines and on line publications.  She edits for MuseItUp Publishing.  Visit her web site at http:// pennylockwoodehrenkranz.yolasite.com. Her writing blog is located at http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com/.

She has three romances published by MuseItUp Publishing: Love Delivery, Lady in Waiting, and Mirror, Mirror. She has recently released Boo’s Bad Day with 4RV Publishing and has three other children’s books under contract with them: Ghost for Rent, Ghost for Lunch, and Many Colored Coats.  Her short story collection, A Past and A Future, is available through Sam’s Dot Publishing and Smashwords.

Guest Post: Susan Royal Discusses Genre Fiction

Today I’m doing my first blog swap. Susan came to discuss genre fiction here, and you can find me talking about the origin of my novel, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud here.

In many ways, writing is even more interesting than reading. When you find a book on a shelf, you usually have a good idea what type (or genre) of book you’re holding. The cover image, blurb, publisher, and author gives the clues we need to decide if we’re looking at a mystery or a western, a fantasy or a thriller. When writing, often times you may have a character in mind who needs to tell his story, but you only have a faint idea of what will happen in the story. At least that’s how it works for me. And what happens when you’ve created a heroine, you know she’s going on an epic adventure, but after you start writing you realize she’s going to meet a love interest along the way?

Sometimes genre can get blurry. This becomes a challenge when you’ve advanced beyond the writing stage and started marketing your book to potential publishers, or later still when you’re trying to find your target audience. Today’s guest blogger, Susan Royal, has written books that blur the genre lines, and she’s going to discuss the challenges she’s faced as an author. Now I’ll turn the keyboard over to Susan.

The Encarta dictionary on my computer defines the word genre as this: one of the categories, based on form, style, or subject matter, into which artistic works of all kinds can be divided. For example, the detective novel is a genre of fiction. While that definition works pretty good most of the time (fantasy, scifi, time travel, adventure, romance, action, thriller, horror) what happens when a novel blurs the lines?

Traditionally, romance involves chivalry and adventure. In modern writing, it tends to be a story about character development and interpersonal relationships rather than adventures. It has produced a wide array of subgenres, the majority of which feature the mutual attraction and love of a man and a woman as the main plot, and have a happy ending.

You have mystery and horror, which can also have supernatural and/or fantasy elements. Then there’s history and alternate history. Fantasy can include SF elements or fit into an Urban fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Epic/high fantasy sub-genre.

Crime stories often falls into the Action or Adventure genres. In an Adventure the protagonist journeys to epic or distant places to accomplish something. In an action story the protagonist usually takes a risky turn, which leads to desperate situations (including explosions, daring escapes, etc.). Action and Adventure are usually categorized together (sometimes even as “action-adventure“)

Science fiction is similar to fantasy, except stories in this genre use scientific understanding to explain the universe where it takes place. It generally includes or is centered on the presumed effects of computers or machines; travel through space, time or alternate universes; alien life-forms; genetic engineering; or other such things. The science or technology used may or may not be very thoroughly elaborated on; stories whose scientific elements are reasonably detailed, well-researched and considered to be relatively plausible given current knowledge and technology are often referred to as hard science fiction.

A Thriller is a story that is usually a mix of fear and excitement. It has traits from the suspense genre and often from the action, adventure or mystery genres, but the level of terror makes it borderline horror fiction at times as well. It generally has a dark or serious theme, which also makes it similar to drama.

My first book was a time travel with action, adventure, history and romance in fairly equal doses. If I promo it as a time travel, some readers might assume it’s heavy on the scifi and avoid it like the plague, while others are going to read it and say, ‘it’s not what I’d call scifi at all.’ If I call it a romance, I’m going to lose male readers who wouldn’t be caught touching that kind of book with a ten foot pole, and others won’t like it because it’s not the kind of romance they’re used to reading.

On the other hand, there’s plenty of action, and I did a lot of research in order to make sure medieval references were as accurate as I could get them, but it’s not a historical novel. I try to incorporate as much action as possible to keep my readers engaged, but only enough to move the story forward.

My books have been called Young Adult, but truthfully they are more on the adult side of the genre. My main characters are in their twenties and testing the waters of adulthood for the first time. Are you beginning to see my dilemma?

Think of your favorite author. Chances are, seeing their name on the cover is all it takes for you to know just what kind of book its going to be. But an author like me is just getting started, and hasn’t established that kind of presence yet. It’s important to promote yourself in the best possible way to draw readers to your books. That’s why I find it so difficult to pick one particular genre and stick with it. For one thing, it’s not the way I write.

One of my favorite authors is Ilona Andrews, a husband-wife writing team, who meshes action and romance in their urban fantasy series. He, I’m assuming, writes the action in great detail, down to the weaponry, while she handles the relationships. It works out great. I love reading Susanna Kearsley’s books. She writes paranormal mysteries with romance. Diana Gabaldon is another favorite of mine. When she began writing her famous Outlander series, she encountered the same problem I did. Her books didn’t fit into any specific genre. They were filled with history, adventure, romance and the underlying theme is always time travel. No one knew where to market them. But they caught on and now it doesn’t really matter. If you’re a Diana Gabaldon fan, you’ll know what I mean. Robert McCammon is another talented author. His books are more likely to fit into one certain genre, but each book varies and are all done with his unique twist.

I guess it all boils down to this. Write the kind of book you love to read. If it blurs the lines, try not to stress over it. These days, most books do. Work hard at getting exposure through promotion and have patience. Your readers will come back for more.

In My Own Shadow:


Talk about the worst day ever! Lara lets her friend Carrie talk her into a blind date, only it turns out the handsome stranger waiting for Lara after work isn’t Carrie’s cousin after all. And, when they’re chased through a portal to another world, Lara realizes Rhys really is out of this world.

Lyra, her alternate in another dimension, has left clues to the whereabouts of the Book of Secrets that explains the mystery of time travel in Lara’s subconscious.  Or so Rhys thinks. Power-hungry telepaths pursuing them will stop at nothing to get it, even if it means breaking Lara’s mind. To complicate matters, Lara gets tangled up in her feelings for Rhys while exploring her connection with Lyra.

With Rhys as her guardian, a bear of a man named Azle to guide her, and the spirit of Lyra haunting her dreams, Lara must find the Book of Secrets before it falls into the hands of those who want its power.  Only then can she return to her world safely.


About the Author:


Born in west Texas and raised in south Texas, Susan makes her home in a 100-year-old farmhouse in a small east Texas town that comes complete with a female ghost who has been known to harmonize with her son when he plays guitar.

Susan is married, with three children and four grandchildren. Her family is rich with characters, both past and present. She spent her childhood listening to her grandmother’s stories of living on a farm in Oklahoma Territory with three sisters and three brothers and working as a telephone operator in the early 20th century.  Her father shared stories of growing up in San Antonio in the depression, and through her mother’s eyes she experienced how it felt to be a teenager during WWII.

Her newest, In My Own Shadow, is a Fantasy adventure/romance. Her first book, Not Long Ago, is a time travel adventure/romance. Both ebooks are available through MuseItUp/Amazon/B&N.  She is currently working on a sequel to Not Long Ago, because her daughter insisted there was still more of Erin and Griffin’s story to tell, and she was right.


In My Own Shadow (fantasy, adventure, romance)

Not Long Ago (time travel, adventure, romance)

Not Long Ago book trailer


Both books available at MuseItUp, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads

How Eric Price became a YA fantasy author; plus an excerpt

The following is a re-post that originally appeared on the MuseItYoung & MuseItYA Blog on May 1. In case you missed it, here it is again.

How did I get here? I ask myself that same question several times a day, both in my fiction writing and in real life. We’ll focus on real life for now, and mix in the fiction when it fits.

I was born and raised in central Illinois, about thirty miles north-east of St. Louis, Mo. I lived there until I graduated high school and moved to St. Louis for college. Somewhere between birth and graduation, probably about seventh grade, I decided I wanted to write a story (I hadn’t decided I wanted to write a lot, that comes later. For now, just a story). Up to that point I was a reluctant reader. I read slowly, and I didn’t read aloud well, so I didn’t like reading. You may wonder how a reluctant reader became a writer. Two important events happened around this time which made me like to read, a friend introduced me to Stephen King, and my English teacher introduced me to Edgar Allan Poe.

Fast-forward to college (I know that’s an old term from the days of VCRs. Younger readers, I mean scan or skip ahead). This is when I decided I wanted to be a writer. OK, we need to backtrack a little. I wrote some stuff in high school I thought was pretty good. For assignments, I mean. I even wrote a speech which won third prize in a VFW contest. At this time I had also started reading a lot of comics, so I started writing comics. This was my first step into fiction, but I did it for my own entertainment with no intent of publishing. That changed in college.

In my Freshman English class I had a professor whose name I no longer remember. I wrote for him what I thought was the masterpiece of my academic life. He returned it to me full of red ink contrasting my black font. I don’t remember everything he wrote on it, there was too much, but he did tell me I was a horrible writer. You may find it hard to believe a college professor would tell a student something like that, but if you knew where I went to college, you’d know I’m not writing fiction now.

Maybe it’s the romantic in me (I can use that term when I don’t mean candles and flowers, right?), but part of me thinks he thought I had talent, and he wanted to push me to reveal it. The realist part of me thinks he was another name for a donkey. But the comment did motivate me, and I did start writing more, just not complete works.

I had a notebook full of comic strips, story ideas, and first pages by the time I transferred to a much better college, where the professors cared about the students, to finish my degree in biology. While at this new school I wrote a lot more, but I still never finished a story.

Fast-forward a couple more years (there’s that term again), until after I met my wife, Allison. On the bulletin board of the grocery store I saw a flyer for the Institute of Children’s Literature. I took it home, talked it over with Allison, and we decided I should at least take their admissions test to see if they liked me. I did and they did. I took their “Writing for Children and Teenagers” course and learned a lot about writing and marketing. One of my assignments became my first published short story, “Ghost Bed and Ghoul Breakfast.” Of course it was a horror story, remember that bit about King and Poe? But I kept it PG as I wrote it for kids.

Just before I sold that story I applied and was accepted to write a quarterly column for the county paper where I lived in St. Louis. I also started entering stories into contests. Three of them have won honorable mention in the CrossTIME Short Science Fiction Contest. Yes, I switched from horror. But not to worry, the story I started a few weeks ago scares the socks off of me. And it’s aimed at adults, so no more PG.

I went on to write the column for two years before my wife and I decided to move away from the city. We both grew up in small towns and wanted to raise our two sons in a like environment. An opportunity came up to move into the house my wife grew up in, and for me to work with her father on the family farm. We took it.

After moving to the farm, I started writing agriculture advocacy articles to do my part to combat all the anti-agriculture groups out there. If you’ve never looked into it, there are a lot of people who want to shut down agriculture as we know it. You’d be amazed. Similar groups have worked their black magic even more successfully on the EU. Although these articles seemed the right thing to do, they also became WORK. I want to write for fun. I want to write to escape reality for a few hours. So I gave it up.

Instead I started writing new stories and going through my old ones. I came across a young adult fantasy I wrote for the second course I took from the Institute of Children’s Literature, “Writing and Selling Books.” “The Stargazer’s Son,” as it was then called, was good, but not great. I had meant to revise it and submit it to publishers, but much like George McFly in Back to the Future, I had a fear of rejection. Instead of wasting time rewriting it, Allison suggested I send it to some publishers and see if anyone is interested first. I gave it a quick coat of polish, renamed it “Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud,” and sent it to Muse It Up. They essentially replied, “It’s good, but not great.” I used their suggestions, rewrote it, resubmitted it, and got it accepted. So here we are, and that’s how I got here.

Thank you for putting up with my ramblings for this long.You can find me on the web at authorericprice.com and Twitter @authorericprice. I guess you deserve a reward for reading my life’s story, so here’s a brief excerpt from my upcoming release, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud.


The setting sun glared in the young warrior’s eyes. Squinting, he could just make out his opponent’s outline. His ever tightening leg muscles cried for rest with each step he took; yet he continued to circle, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. After a long day of dueling, and what felt like each battle starting as soon as the previous one ended, Owen’s whole body needed a rest. But he wanted nothing more in the world, at this precise moment, than to win this championship bout.

Owen knew Edward had to be equally tired. They had each fought four previous matches, and every contestant entered in the tournament stood a chance of victory. Edward, Shield of the King (the commander of the King’s Sentry, the strongest army in all of Wittatun), constantly received praise for his skill with a blade. Owen had defeated two Sentrymen earlier in the day, but to hold the position of Shield, Edward would surpass them in skill.

The fighters continued to circle one another. Sunlight gleamed off Edward’s brilliant metal chest plate and helm, and as Edward began to squint due to the shine of the westering sun, Owen saw his opportunity and sprung. He feinted a slash attack toward the commander’s shield hand. When Edward raised his shield and braced for impact, Owen redoubled his attack. He spun and sliced his blade at his opponent’s neck. The loud clang of steel on steel resonated throughout the courtyard as Edward raised his sword to parry. Owen felt the vibration transmit up his arm, but he finished his compound attack by kicking the Sentryman in the chest plate. The judge blew a whistle to signify the landing of the first blow in this best-of-three veney.

Edward wasted no time mounting his counterattack by gaining the measure and reestablishing just distance. He made several quick jabs at Owen’s head and chest, which the defender parried away with ease. Owen countered with a testing jab which Edward sidestepped. Edward stepped back in line and when he raised his sword to the en guard position Owen noticed his shied drop ever so slightly. But this tiny gap in defense may have provided the opening needed to finish this battle. Owen lunged and instantly recognized the move as a mistake, but his forward motion could not be stopped. Sharp pain shot through Owen’s left shoulder, and he barely heard the judge blow the whistle through the anguish. Edward had lowered his shield as an invitation for Owen’s attack, and when the younger fighter took the offering, the elder’s stop-thrust found the only week point of the armor. The tip of the sword slid between the hinge where the chest plate met the shoulder guard and dug into the muscle.