The Squire and the Slave Master–Cover Reveal!

Two of the most exciting days for an author are the day you get your cover and Release Day. Well, the first has finally come for The Squire and the Slave Master. Not only am I going to reveal the cover for the first time, but I’m also going to share an except. I originally shared this excerpt as a short story titled The Message on Lightning Quick Reads in July which had a theme of Freedom.

Before I get to the fun stuff, I have a little business/self-promotion to get out of the way. Muse It Up Publishing, the publisher for Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud and The Squire and the Slave Master, is celebrating its 5 year anniversary. From now until October 4 you can enter the coupon code 5YEARS2015  in your cart and get 50% off your total order. So take some time to browse around. While you’re there, you may notice Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud is already on 50% sale for $2.75. So with this coupon code you can have it for less than $1.40. If you haven’t read it yet, now is the perfect time before The Squire and the Slave Master’s Release Day.

Okay, I’ve put it off long enough. Here’s the cover. Just like the first book, C.K. Volnek also designed this one.

The Squire and the Slave Master 333x500

Blurb

The award winning Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud (CLC’s Best First Novel 2014) chronicled Yara, Owen, and Cedric’s quest to revive King Kendrick from a dark, magical spell. After the adventure to save King Kendrick, for Yara, everyday life has grown monotonous. The dull work of learning her father’s blacksmithing trade, and the pressure from her parents to decide what she plans on doing with her life, has her nerves so stressed she snaps at her father’s slightest teasing.

Lucky for her, a surprise messenger from the castle brings the king’s request for her to join a collaborative mission between the Central and Western Domains of Wittatun to stop a recently discovered slave operation in a land to the west. King Kendrick and Owen want her to accompany the mission as a secret weapon disguised as a squire.

She has to keep secret not only her magical abilities from any possible traitors, but also her gender. The people of the Western Domain have a superstition prohibiting girls from sailing. But a chill wind carries the distinct odor of sabotage. Can one girl survive to destroy an evil rooted much deeper than mere slavery?

And now the excerpt:

“Sir, the third ship has arrived.”

Casimir didn’t turn from the window. “Yes, Bronislaw, I’ve seen it. Prepare your men for battle. Hold a few back as guards. If any of the slaves turn against us, execute them.”

The sound of Bronislaw’s footsteps faded as he exited the chamber.

A bird flew past the upper chamber and caught Casimir’s attention. I thought I killed all the birds. Oh well, I’ll get rid of this one too.

He raised his staff but lowered it when the bird redirected for the temple. A scroll of parchment dangled from its ankle. The bird landed on the altar in the center of the room. Casimir approached it with caution. It held up a leg, and he removed and unrolled the scroll. The letter didn’t have a signature, but it didn’t need one. He recognized the handwriting from years of correspondence.

I’m free. I understand what you plan to do, but it must stop. You aren’t powerful enough with magic. The temple will open a portal to the underworld, but you’ll never manage to close it and whose body do you think he’ll take? Someone so powerful won’t survive in a body with no magical experience. He will exhaust it in less than a day. Surrender your plan and join me in the swamp in the Southern Domain. Argnam already built the necessary accommodations there.

The paper flashed into flames on his palm. “You had your chance. I have a plan and a reasonable backup plan, which is more than you’ve ever had.”

The bird pecked at a pair of tiny beetles scurrying along the wall. With the flick of his staff, a green orb of light shot and hit the bird. A singed smell and a few feathers were all that remained.

From the window, he could see troops following the path from the beach to the temple. He watched the ships for the sign. A few flashes of light came in quick succession from the southernmost ship.

“Damn!” He thought back to the note. “It’s all right. I can still do this even though he doesn’t have the magician.” He held his staff high and returned a message in flashing lights. “Change of plans. We have to capture Mansfield. Alive.”

Three lines of slaves faced east in anticipation of the troops coming through the woods. Perfect.

Casimir closed the towering double doors as he exited the chamber. With his staff and a brief incantation, he placed an invisible barrier on the room. He took a piece of stone from a pile of rubble in a corner and tossed it at the door. In a flash, it became dust and smoke. Smiling, he left in search of Bronislaw.

Outside the door of the temple, the slaves waited for the pending battle. Bronislaw had taken a spot on high ground where he could overlook the battle soon to unfurl.

Casimir strolled up to him. “We have a new arrangement. They lost the magician. I need Mansfield alive. If you find him, bring him to me.”

Bronislaw nodded and signaled to his lieutenants.

He returned to the entrance of the temple and watched the battle unfold. The first troops emerged from the forest to an onslaught from the slaves. They had probably expected to hit them with a surprise attack, but the slaves had known. Casimir had known. Casimir always knew.

The second group emerged with their swords and shields at the ready. The slaves matched them well in strength but outlasted them in stamina. Most of the fishermen from Beroe had little or no battle training.

Mansfield’s men had one major disadvantage that greatly outweighed even their lower endurance or their lack of training. Twice Casimir noticed the soldiers relinquish an opportunity to slay their opponents.

They don’t want to kill. They see my slaves as innocent victims.

Another group emerged from the trees. They almost exclusively donned long beards and, barring their sunburns, looked a lot like many of the more recently acquired slaves. Some of the slaves hesitated; others dropped their weapons.

Now we’ll identify my dedicated servants, those who recognize what they have gained by coming here.

Several slaves, most of them having significantly different appearances to the men from Beroe—taller, more muscular, darker skin, some thin with scraggly beards—turned their attention to the traitors. With their weapons lowered, they had no defense. A distant voice shouted, “No!” Heads and limbs splashed into pools of blood as men turned on each other, betraying their former lives for the promises of their master.

Don’t fight your children’s fantasy

I thought this an interesting post on fantasy, children’s lit, and unfounded prejudice, so here it is. Who remembers these books?

The Intergalactic Writers Guild

Fighting Fantasy books by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone

In 1983 a new craze spread through Britain’s children (mostly the boys). It was a range of books called Fighting Fantasy by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone. Based loosely on the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons that had taken the US by storm, the books differed in that they were for just one player/reader and they covered a much wider range of adventures and settings than the role-playing games did. The idea was simple. It was a book where you started reading and after a few pages you were given a choice. Did you want to go north or south? Ask the wizard for advice or not? Fight the monster or run away? Each choice would be accompanied by a page number which you would then turn to and continue reading. So you read the book by constantly moving from one page to another in a non-linear way. The aim…

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Seal of Approval and $0.99 BUZZ Deal

Recently the Children’s Literary Classics awarded Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud their Seal of Approval. To celebrate, the publisher, Muse It Up Publishing, is selling the book for $0.99 on both their website and Amazon.

Children's Literary Classics Seal of Approval

Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval:

I entered two contests with the Children’s Literary Classics: Best Fantasy Novel, Young Adult and Best First Novel. Winners will be announced in October, but in the meantime, all entries get reviewed. Those that meet certain criteria get awarded the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of approval. Here is the press release they issued with the Seal of Approval:

For Immediate Release

Literary Classics

pr@clcawards.org

Literary Classics is pleased to announce that the book, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud, by  Eric Price, has been selected to receive the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.  The CLC Seal of Approval is a designation reserved for those books which uphold the rigorous criteria set forth by the Literary Classics review committee, a team comprised of individuals with backgrounds in publishing, editing, writing, illustration and graphic design.

Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud is the tale of Owen, a boy who is the likely heir to his father’s throne.  But Owen has no desire to become king and dreads the moment when, on his fifteenth birthday,  King Kendrick will most likely announce that he is to be his father’s successor.  But when the king becomes ill, Owen’s only hope is to turn to Cedric, the wizard who may have been responsible for his mother’s death. 

Author, Eric Price has crafted a gripping story, full of imagery, that draws the reader into Owen’s quest which takes place in a fanciful world of magic and mystery. 

Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud is an enjoyable read that would make a great movie for teens. 

Literary Classics, an organization dedicated to furthering excellence in literature, takes great pride in its role to help promote classic literature which appeals to youth, while educating and encouraging positive values in the impressionable minds of future generations.   To learn more about Literary Classics, you may visit their website at http://www.clcawards.org.

$0.99 BUZZ Deal:

From now until July 27, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud can be purchased for just $0.99. Here is the publisher’s promotional write-up:

Owen, King Kendrick’s son, must unveil the most deceptive shroud of magic to save his father and the kingdom.

Super Weekend $0.99 BUZZ Deal…

Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud by Eric Price
Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval
YA Fantasy
Now ONLY $0.99 until midnight Sunday, July 27

“Definitely a must read for all YA fantasy lovers!” 5 star review

“Eric Price takes the reader on a breathless journey in his YA fantasy Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud.” 5 star review

“Unveiling the Wizards Shroud is a wonderful compelling tale of adventure, magic, dragons , danger and secrets.” 5 star review

Special at Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GTSKO5S

and MuseItUp Publishing
https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/now-available-in-ebook/unveiling-the-wizards-shroud-detail

 

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

www.randh71productions.com

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)