Introducing Martine Lewis

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Martine Lewis, the author of the young adult title, Crossing the Barrier: The Gray Eyes Series Book One. She’s also hosting a book giveaway on Goodreads!

_JEF6320Why don’t you start by telling us about yourself.

This is always the hardest part, isn’t it?

We’ll get the hard part out of the way first.

I start writing when I was eleven years old, and have written on and off ever since. I wrote mostly fanfictions and some bad originals when I was younger, mostly inspired by people I knew. Fanfiction was a good way to hone my skill and when I tackled the writing of my own original fiction, I was ready.

Now, I write original fictions with no end in sight.

On a more personal side: I work full time as a Project Scheduler/Planner to pay for my “writing addiction”. Hopefully one day, my writing will support itself and me, and I’ll be able to do it full time.

As a Project Scheduler/Planner, you probably don’t have the organizational problems that plague me and so many other authors.

Tell us about Crossing the Barrier.

It’s the story of a football player who falls for a band girl. It was heavily inspired from my attending high school football games here in the suburb of Houston. I came to love the atmosphere at those games, and I got to know a lot of the parents. It’s an interesting world, where the players are very devoted to the sport, and the band is having the time of their life, and I wanted to explore it more.

It turns out this book worked very well in the universe I created. While this is the third book I wrote in that universe, it was only fitting that it would be the first one to come out. It worked best in the series timeline.

Blurb:

High school student Malakai Thomas, star wide receiver of the varsity team, collides with band member Lily Morgan on his way to football practice. As days go by, Malakai cannot get the petite clarinetist out of his head.

Lily Morgan can feel everyone’s emotions. She loses her ability to shield herself against them the day Malakai runs into her. Now she must try to maintain her sanity in the emotional jungle that is high school, as well as deal with her growing feelings for Malakai.

Can Malakai get over the social stigma and his own internal struggle to be with Lily? Is Lily’s secret too big to accept, even for him?

Who is your target audience?

I would say young adult/new adults between the age of 16 and 20.

How many volumes do you plan to write in the series?

This book is part of a series of six, the Gray Eyes Series.

A few days ago, I received the development edit comments for book 2, and I am currently revising book 3 to send it to my legal reviewer. All my books go through her. I think it’s important for me to get my legal facts right and I take good care in doing just that.

I will complete the first draft of book 4 in April during Camp Nano. I began in November and got halfway through before I had to go back to book 1 (Crossing the Barrier) to address my copyediting comments.

Book 5 is written, at least a first draft. I should begin my first revision of it in September.

Book 6 is the only one that is not yet written, at least in part. I should be writing it during Nanowrimo this coming November.

It certainly sounds like you’ve got a great start on the series. How long did it take to write?

Usually, I can write 95,000 words in a month. I use challenge months such as the National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo), Camp Nano and Junowrimo to complete my first drafts, and off months to plan. It works for me to have the pressure of a challenge in order to obtain a good word count by a certain date. I think my first draft is by far the easiest part to write.

Then I do revising, at least two passes, then the editing cycle.

I’ve always wanted to try the challenge months. They don’t fall at good times for me.

What are some books that influenced/inspired you in the writing of this one?

This particular book wasn’t inspired by any books. It was mostly inspired by what I witnessed at the football games I attended.

Who are your favorite authors?

While I write Young Adult, Cambria Hebert, who mostly writes New Adult, is a big inspiration for me. I especially like her #Hashtag Series, which I read three times in the last year. I also like CM Doporto and her University Park Series, and Tammara Webber’s Easy.

And of course, I would be remiss not to mention JK Rowling. She really created a wonderful universe in which I took an enormous pleasure to write in. I wrote hundred of thousands of words of fanfiction in the Potterverse.

J. K. Rowling? Would I have read anything she’s written? Joking. I too am a huge potter fan. I recently read the series with my oldest son, now I’m on book three with my youngest.

On which aspect of your writing do you work the hardest? (Characters, plotting, prose, etc.)

Prose. English is my second language and I do struggle with it a lot. My first draft reads like a paper from a third grader. The words are not very diverse and the phrases are frequently worded using French grammar. That’s why I do so many revisions. That’s why I put so much importance in my editing effort too. I have surrounded myself with editing professionals who know English is my second language and are a great help in varying my vocabulary and finding the right word for what I’m trying to say.

Characters are sometimes a challenge too. While I was writing book 4, or trying to, Malakai, my main character of book 1, kept on talking to me. In fact, he was talking so loud, I couldn’t hear the characters of book 4. That’s part of the reason I couldn’t finish book 4 during Nano, like I would usually have done.

Now plotting is usually not very hard as long as I have an idea already in mind. Subplotting can be challenge sometimes but after a long drive, I can usually figure it out… Yes, I love to plot while I’m driving. There is nothing else to do!

From what little I know of you, I’d have never guessed English wasn’t your first language.

What’s next?

The second series, believe it or not. I plan to be around for a long long time.

Starting in 2017, I will begin writing the Blue Eyes Series which is set in the same universe but with different characters. If my schedule holds – remember, I’m a Project Scheduler by profession – I should write book 1 of the Blue Eyes Series for Camp Nano in April 2017, and book 2 for Nano in November 2017. Let’s see if the schedule will hold.

Crossing the Barrier eRev09-eBook
By link:
Don’t forget to enter the Goodreads book giveaway.

Truth or Lie with Crystal Collier Concludes

If you checked out my Truth or Lie post with Crystal Collier last week, where I told two truths and a lie, now you can learn which story was a lie. The stories went like this:

1. I know some guys in a local St. Louis band called Earl. Back stage at one of their shows at the Pageant, they asked me to go out after the break and play bass, which I did.
2. I’ve met Rob Zombie. In a strange sort of creepy, quazi-ironic way, I met him on Easter Sunday.
3. I have a tendency to win front row seats to concerts. I’ve seen Billy Joel, Elton John, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers all from the front row.

Check out Crystal’s blog post this week to learn which is the lie. And congratulations to Susan Swiderski for guessing correctly. She wins a paperback copy of Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud and an eBook copy of The Squire and the Slave Master. While you’re there, you can check out Crystal’s Top 10 List of books in 2015.

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Exciting Book News to Start the Holiday Season!

Two new books are available in time for the holidays. Well, one new book and a new version of an older book.

Unveiling the Wizards Shroud is now available in paperback.

Literary Classics International Book Awards - Young Adult Award Winning Book

As the only son to King Kendrick, Owen despises the idea of being king one day. Magician may be the only career he’d like less. He has dreaded the days leading up to his fifteenth birthday, when his father will certainly declare Owen heir to the throne. But at the birthday celebration, his father falls ill. The only person in the kingdom that may be able to save him is a magician-the very same magician Owen holds responsible for the death of his mother.

Owen and his companions will have to travel the continent of Wittatun in search of the cure for King Kendrick. On the journey, they will battle strange beasts and harsh climates, befriend extraordinary magicians, and meet a dragon before returning to Innes Castle-where much has happened in the days since they departed.

 

Paperback available for $9.95 from:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble

eBook available for $5.50 from most retailers; on sale for $2.75 (USD) from Amazon and Muse It Up Publishing:

Muse It Up Publishing

Amazon:

USUK; CA; FRAU; BR

Barnes & Nobel
Smashwords
OmniLit
Apple iTunes

Coming November 26, The Squire and the Slave Master: Saga of the Wizards: Book Two. It’s currently available for pre-order at the special price of $2.99 (regular $4.99) from select vendors with more to come. Currently an eBook only.

The Squire and the Slave Master 333x500The 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, Yara’s 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 too stressed.

Lucky for her, a surprise messenger from the castle brings the king’s request. She’s 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.

It’s imperative she 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?

Pre-order from:

Amazon
Muse It Up Publishing

 

ALL IS FAIR IN LOVERS’ WAR now on Lightning Quick Reads

My newest post on Lighting Quick Reads is now available to read. Actually, it’s been available since the 17th, but I didn’t want to run a second post on the same day Group 15 got their version of Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud Chapter Three showcased. If you missed that project, here’s a link to the beginning.

As for the LQR post, I really like this main character. Not because he’s a great guy. He’s not! Wait until you meet him. But I like his voice, and how he’s ever so slightly out of touch with reality. See what you think.

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ALL IS FAIR IN LOVERS’ WAR
or How I Got Schooled In Love

Dagger

Through the window of the taxi, I could see a tear in her eye. She still had feelings for me. When she rolled down the window, I knew I would take her back the second she said, “I love you.”

Thunder cracked, and the downpour of rain splattered her face. She looked ready to burst with emotion, and she said, “If I ever see you again, you will regret ever meeting me!”

She rolled up the window and the taxi sped away. I thought it was a tear in her eye–I guess I was mistaken.

****

From the moment I met Mariana, I knew she was “The One.” She had everything I was looking for in a woman: intelligence, a sense of humor, light-brown hair flowing halfway down her back, perky breasts, a Russian accent–I didn’t even know I was looking for a Russian accent until I met Mariana.

I got a job right out of college designing set pieces for plays. Skip ahead a few years to when I landed a job to create the set for MACBETH. I delivered it to the theater the day of the first dress rehearsal. Enter Mariana.

Mariana had gotten her first acting role as the Third Witch. I should have guessed I would fall in love with a witch.

I wasn’t supposed to be at the theater when the cast arrived, but I had gotten a late start that morning. Nelly, a girl I had been seeing for a few weeks, got suspicious that I was cheating on her. Her suspicion aroused when my phone rang. I had gone to take a shower. The caller’s name was Tiffany, and she introduced herself to Nelly as my girlfriend.

In my defense, Tiffany was not my girlfriend. Nelly was. Tiffany was just a girl I had met at a bar a few nights before. I had drunk too much to drive, and she lived within walking distance. I don’t even remember giving her my phone number.

Nelly didn’t give me a chance to explain. I’m finishing my shower when her hand reaches in and turns off the hot water. I scream and turn off the cold. I can hear her yelling about “some slut on the phone,” not wanting to be “the other girl,” and “we’re through!”

I grab my towel and follow her into my kitchen. As she slams the door and leaves, I finally figure out what has happened. I step onto my second story balcony and waited for her to appear outside.

“Nelly, come up here so I can explain,” I say. But she grabs a flowerpot from the patio below and throws it at my head. I duck and the pot shatters against the wall behind me–covering me with soil.

Nelly climbs into her car and peels away, and I have to take another shower. This in turn makes me late setting the stage, and gives me the chance to meet Mariana. To quote MACBETH, “So foul and fair a day I have not seen.” If I had known how bad showering would soon become for me, methinks I may have quit bathing.

 

You can read the rest of the story on Lightning Quick Reads.

Vote for Your Favorite Student Version of Chapter Three

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It’s time! You’ve read fifteen different versions of Chapter Three written by groups of high schools students in Nantes, France. Now you get to tell us what you think. Voting ends on September 25. If you leave a comment as to why you liked the one(s) you picked, I’ll hold a drawing for someone to get a FREE copy of Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud. If you win and already have Unveiling, I’ll upgrade the prize to The Squire and the Slave Master when it comes out.

Find the submissions here:

Group 1
Group 2
Group 3
Group 4
Group 5
Group 6
Group 7
Group 8
Group 9
Group 10
Group 11
Group 12
Group 13
Group 14
Group 15

Thank you for your time and consideration in reading all of these stories. We’ll take a break from posts tomorrow, and on Sunday, September 20 (my birthday) you can read the version of Chapter Three from Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud.

Cover Reveal: Super Bad by Kai Strand

Today I’d like to welcome back Kai Strand. I’d have to go back and check to make sure, but I think she now holds the record for the most frequent guest here on authorericprice.com. I’m not sure what more I could say about her. She writes fun middle-grade and young adult novels, and I understand she’s going to be trying her hand at adult soon. She’s also the mastermind behind the Lightning Quick Reads blog. If you haven’t checked that out, you should. So here she is with the cover to the third book in her Super Villain Academy series. Of course I recommend it too. I intended to have reviews of books 1 and 2 ready before this cover reveal, but I failed. I guess Kai will just have to come visit again in a few weeks. Oh yeah, and there’s a giveaway.
Being good isn’t so bad – oh, but it’s so good to be bad.
Excerpt from Super Bad:
Source stepped in front of her, balancing on the edge of the curb. He grasped her shoulders and stared her straight in the eye. “Everything, everyone, will be all right. You have to believe that, Sandra.”
Tears flooded her eyes again. She hated that she didn’t believe him. “I’m scared, Source. I’m afraid Whisper will never wake up. Or that I’ll never walk right again. I’m worried about Mom’s state of mind. I’m scared the world will never right itself, and all this violence will become the new normal.”
Source drew a ragged breath and lightly dragged his thumb across her tear-stained cheek.
Closing her eyes, as though afraid to see the full truth, she whispered her biggest fear. “I’m scared we’ll never find Jeff.”
SUPER BAD The unexpected conclusion to the Super Villain Academy series.
The world is in chaos. Violence and thievery reign. And with the supers still balanced, it’s only getting worse. Without good versus evil, the supers care less and less. In order to restore purpose, the world needs its super heroes and its super villains, but the one who balanced them in the first place is missing.
Sandra’s concern over finding her brother, Jeff, isn’t her only problem. Her pathetic excuse for super powers has left her needing a new ankle. And though she’s still very much committed to her boyfriend, Source, she’s growing unreasonably attracted to Set, the boy who double crossed Jeff by stealing his girlfriend.
When Sandra is taken and held as bait by kids who want to unbalance the super world, it becomes the inciting event that changes things for supers everywhere and forces them to answer the question, “Hero or villain?”
***
Super Bad is scheduled for release in June, but there have been whispers of it releasing sooner. Don’t miss out. Subscribe to Kai’s mailing list and be among the first to know.
***
King of BadJeff Mean would rather set fires than follow rules. He wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie; until he learns he has superpowers and is recruited by Super Villain Academy – where you learn to be good at being bad. Is Jeff bad enough for SVA?
 
Polar Opposites – Heroes and villains are balanced. After Oceanus is kidnapped, Jeff learns the supers are so balanced, they no longer care to get involved. Ironically Jeff’s superpowers are spiraling out of control. Will they find Oci before he looses it completely, and will they find her alive?
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Win a $10 Amazon gift card or an ecopy of either King of Bad or Polar Opposites. Plenty of chances to win. Open internationally. Enter here: a Rafflecopter giveaway About the author: When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and short stories for the younger ones, Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Learn more about Kai and her books on her website, www.kaistrand.com.

Survival Colony 9 Review and Interview with Joshua David Bellin.

One of the first authors I met (with a publisher other than my own), after signing my contract and trying to establish a presence on social media, joins me today. By the time I met him, Joshua David Bellin had gotten a good start on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, and he had recently created his blog, The YA Guy, where he reviews and promotes other young adult books, as well as his own. I pre-ordered his book, Survival Colony 9, and anxiously awaited its release–though, I did wait a little extra time so I could get an autographed copy. I read it as soon as it came, enjoyed it, wanted to have Joshua join me here . . . but I got busy. So, after a several month delay, here he is, the author of Survival Colony 9, Joshua David Bellin. Read on after the interview for a review of his book. But I admit, I’m not comfortable writing reviews, so it will lack the eloquence with which Joshua writes his reviews.

Ok. I want to get this out of the way right off. We all know you’re a huge King Kong fan. I didn’t notice any references to the giant ape in Survival Colony 9, but I may have missed something. Of all the sequels, remakes, guest appearances, parodies, and references, which is your favorite of the great ape’s RE-appearances?

 

Joshua David BellinWell, we can rule out the ’76 version immediately. The Peter Jackson remake isn’t horrible, except it’s about two hours too long and relies too heavily on CG effects. I’m going to go with another Willis O’Brien vehicle, the original Mighty Joe Young. Even better stop-motion (thanks to O’Brien’s assistant, Ray Harryhausen in his first feature film), and thought the plot and acting are on the weak side, it was nice to see a giant monster film that ends happily for the giant monster!

I intended to insert a clip from How I Met Your Mother here. There’s a scene where a monkey climbs a model of the Empire State Building and they throw paper airplanes at it, but I couldn’t find it.

 

On to your book. I know authors don’t like to speculate which actors should play characters in their books. The best reason I’ve heard for this is they don’t want the reader to have a presupposition for what a character looks like. After all, when you first read Lord or the Rings, did Frodo look anything like Elijah Wood? (Yet for me, Gandalf did look a lot like Ian McKellen.) So I won’t put you on the spot here, but what do you think of *whispers name of a top billed action star* as Laman?

 

I think he’d be great in the role of Laman! Impressive presence, very authoritative, but with an edge of something dangerous or unbalanced. For the same reason, I think [cough, cough] would be just as awesome.

 

A few aspects of this book reminded me of The Walking Dead. We’ll skip the obvious world in ruin stuff. Laman, as a leader, reminded me a lot of Rick. Laman had a bit more of a grip on his sanity, but he grew up in his world, Rick grew up before the world ended. This could be hard to adjust to. Both had a son under their wing, and both sought a permanent shelter. (Of course, I think we, as people, want a permanent shelter. If not, we’d have never started building houses.) Can you expand on some similarities/differences you see?

 

You’re not the first person to make a Walking Dead connection with my book, but I have to admit: I’ve never seen the show. (Or that’s not entirely true—I watched the first episode simply to see if it was as similar to my book as people were saying, but I didn’t like it.) In general, I’m not a huge fan of zombies. I feel like they’ve been done to death, and with very little originality to the story line. They’re undead cannibals who turn their victims into other undead cannibals and destroy the world in the process. Been there, done that.

The reason I made the connection (and I can’t speak for the show, I’ve only seen an episode or two), is the comics really aren’t about zombies. Sure, they exist, and when it’s time for a character to get killed off, they can always get bitten, but the stories are about the people learning to live in a new world. It’s character driven more than any other Zombie medium I’ve seen. It could be a world taken over by mutant lions and have the same result. (Hum, a world taken over by mutant lions.) Anyway, In Survival Colony 9, the Skaldi made them live in constant fear, but the book was really about the characters.

I also intended to compare the Skaldi to the byrus in Stephen King’s Dreamcathcer, but I forgot.

 

In one scene, Laman makes everyone give up the items they carry that aren’t absolutely necessary. In our world, so full of hoarders there’s even a TV show about it, how hard do you think it would be for people to give up sentimental items in the event of the apocalypse?

 

I think it would be nearly impossible. Though I personally feel we in the western world care far too much about material possessions—this is an ongoing dispute with my wife and kids, by the way—there’s no denying that this stuff defines us. So if the world were to collapse, and on top of that (as in my novel) memory were to fade to the extent that people have practically no reference points to the past, I think the importance of material stuff would be greatly magnified. Which is one thing that makes Laman a problematic leader—he doesn’t understand this. But as readers will discover, he has his own reasons for not understanding.

 

I always like to ask authors about characters they like or dislike. I did not like Yov. Who are some of your favorites/least favorites?

 

I actually like Yov, because he’s such a smart-mouth jerk he got some of the best lines in the book! But leaving him aside, I love Aleka and Petra, two of the strong women in the colony, and Korah, because she’s so much more complex than I’d originally planned. She was one of those characters who took on a life of her own and refused to be limited by my first intentions. If I had to choose a character I don’t like—which is hard, because in this book I very much wanted there not to be simple heroes and villains, so I got to know all my characters too well to hate them—I’d say it’s Araz. I get where he’s coming from, but I simply can’t condone some of the things he does.

You’re the second person in a row I mentioned the character I liked least, and the author pointed out that the character is smart-mouthed. Interesting. What does that say about me? Maybe I don’t like characters too similar to myself.

 

All right, enough about Survival Colony 9. As you wrote in the book, “Life isn’t about looking back. It’s about looking ahead.” What can you tell us about Skaldi City? I assume it will also be about Querry. What’s next for him? Do you know an approximate release date?

 

I don’t have a release date yet, alas. But you’ll know as soon as I do (as will the rest of the Twittersphere). SKALDI CITY picks up right where SURVIVAL COLONY 9 leaves off, but it takes Querry and the others into very different territory, revealing much more of the world, as well as much more of his personal history. I think readers will be surprised by what they discover. And they’ll also meet a new character who is, hands down, my favorite in the series. So it’s something to be on the lookout for!

I look forward to it. I’d pre-order a copy now if I could. On to the review.

Survival Colony 9 Review:

Querry Genn can’t remember who his is, or how he got to Survival Colony 9, but he needs to remember to save himself . . . and possibly the human race. In a world destroyed by war, the remaining people formed survival colonies, but harsh climates, including lack of food and water, aren’t the only threats in this post-apocalyptic world. They also have to contend with the Skaldi. No one knows what these monsters look like. No one has seen them and lived to tell. You see, they possess a human host and mimic them perfectly. They could be anyone, even me.

Joshua David Bellin creates a completely plausible dystopian world. When the Skaldi attack, and Survival Colony 9 has to pack up and run, you’re there. When they find a place to set up camp, possibly for a long-term, you feel their relief. And you share in their losses when members of Survival Colony 9 fail to survive the Skaldi.

My only complaint is the book left me wanting more. Sorry for the vagueness, but I’m not actually sure what ‘more’ I wanted from it. I may have wanted more interaction between Querry and Laman. Or perhaps I wanted more information about Querry or the Skaldi. If that’s the case, I guess it’s a compliment not a complaint. In which case, I should get my ‘more’ in Skaldi City.

Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud wins Best First Novel Award

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The Literary Classics Awards are in. Unveiling the Wizards’ shroud has won Best First Novel. This is a great honor, compounded by the fact that Literary Classics posted on their website:

“2014 was a record year for entries in the Literary Classics International Book Awards. With entrants from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and many more places around the globe, competition was tremendous. The extraordinary selection of books for young readers gave our reviewers and judges quite a lot to consider as they worked their way through impressive piles of books (and eBooks) for deliberation in this year’s awards.”

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About Literary Classics:

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 young minds of future generations. Judging is based upon the criteria set forth by Literary Classics’ highly selective awards committee which honors books promoting character, vision, creativity and learning, through content which possesses key elements found in well-crafted literature. Click here for a complete list of the 2014 Literary Classics Award Recipients.

Literary Classics International Book Awards - Young Adult Award Winning Book

About Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud:

As the only son to King Kendrick, Owen despises the idea of being king one day. Magician may be the only career he’d like less. He has dreaded the days leading up to his fifteenth birthday, when his father will certainly declare Owen heir to the throne. But at the birthday celebration, his father falls ill. The only person in the kingdom that may be able to save him is a magician–the very same magician Owen holds responsible for the death of his mother.

Owen and his companions will have to travel the continent of Wittatun in search of the cure for King Kendrick. On the journey, they will battle strange beasts and harsh climates, befriend extraordinary magicians, and meet a dragon before returning to Innes Castle–where much has happened in the days since he departed.

Buy Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud:

Also available at many other online bookstores.

Author Photo
About the Author:

Eric Price lives with his wife and two sons in northwest Iowa. He began publishing in 2008 when he started writing a quarterly column for a local newspaper. Later that same year he published his first work of fiction, a spooky children’s story called Ghost Bed and Ghoul Breakfast. Since then, he has written stories for children, young adults, and adults. Three of his science fiction stories have won honorable mention from the CrossTime Annual Science Fiction Contest. His first YA fantasy novel, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud, received the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval and the Literary Classics Award for Best First Novel.

Find Eric Price online:
 

Erin Rhew and the Return of the Prophecy

The threepeats continue. Last week Kai Strand became the first guest featured on authorericprice.com three times. Now Erin Rhew joins Kai’s prestigious status with the re-release of her book, The Prophecy, with an outstanding new cover. If you missed it last November, you can check it out with the new cover on October 1. Read on for an excerpt. And don’t forget to tell Erin and me what you think in the comments section.

cover_PROPHECY (2)

“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.

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.

TheProphecy_ErinAlbert_AuthorPhoto_Smaller

Erin Rhew 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:

Twitter: @ErinRhewBooks

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

Website: http://www.erinrhewbooks.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23265671-the-prophecy

Life with a Fire-Breathing Girlfriend… and Bryan Fields

Where to begin? When I first came across Bryan Fields and his book, Life with a Fire-Breathing Girlfriend, I thought, “Well, that’s an interesting title.” But I had a lot going on with my book, so I didn’t give it much more attention than that. A few weeks later I saw the cover of the book. Most book covers at Muse It Up Publishing are outstanding, and Bryan’s is no exception. There’s a saying about not judging a book by its cover, but really, why else does a book have a cover if not to catch a readers attention… and hold the pages together (but in the world of eBooks we’ve conquered that problem). After seeing the cover, I looked at the book a bit closer and decided I needed to read it some day.

While this was going on with me, Bryan had his own life to deal with. While I admit I know very little about his life (more now that I’ve conducted this interview), I did see a post he made on Facebook about how he had a blog stop lined up and the host backed out for… well, for his or her own reasons.

After seeing this, my brain started working. Always a dangerous event, but sometimes it leads to interesting results. I decided to contact Bryan to see if he wanted to participate in a blog post where I read his book and ask him some questions (some are even about the book). He agreed, and here it is. Right now I’m feeling like I came out ahead. I got to read a good book and I got a new post for my blog. So, if you please, leave Bryan a comment so he can get something out of this as well.

Oh, and at the end, read on for a glimpse of Book 2: The Land Beyond All Dreams.

Life with a Fire-Breathing Girlfriend Cover Image

Did you set out to write three books into a single volume, or did it just happen, the way writing often has a mind of its own?

Rose showed up in a dream I was having about life after high school. I had no idea who she was, but I knew she was a dragon and she was keeping herself fed by dining on… well, people whose absence made the world a better place. I stumbled to my computer at 4:00am and got the details down. When I actually woke up the next morning, I started writing an outline as soon as I’d had some coffee.

The first two sections of the book started as short stories. I wrote the two of them in eight or nine hours total, all in one weekend. Everything was right there – why the dragons were here, how the connecting spell worked, what the obvious issues were for dragons living on Earth.

I initially submitted the two short stories to an anthology, but they were rejected for having inappropriate content. I was overjoyed, frankly. My beta readers had said the stories were too short, so I was in the process of rewriting them as novellas.

The third section didn’t come together quite that fast, but it was still much faster than almost anything else I’ve written. It’s a little different from the first two since it was plotted out as a longer story.

The characters in your book really embrace geek culture. Can you relate to them?

David is a guy I would have hung out with in high school and played D&D with. Well, other than my being twenty years older than he is. I tried to make him someone geeks in general could relate to. He’s done conventions, he’s a tabletop, console, and MMO gamer, he’s been in the SCA, and he works in IT. He pretty much ticks all the boxes.

Rose was a little different. The challenge with any non-Human is to make them alien but not so alien they become unrelatable. I wanted her to feel like someone any reader could have a relationship with. She gets into all the stuff David likes and embraces it. I think that’s what makes her relatable – who doesn’t want a romantic partner who makes an active effort to embrace the things we like to do?

Have you ever gone to a festival in costume?

Yes. Conventions, too. I never really caught the costuming bug, though. I did try learning to sew and discovered I couldn’t stitch a straight line following a chalk mark. I could never picture how the pieces fit together, either.

I noticed many literary quotes as I read, from Shakespeare to Thomas Harris. What are some of your favorite quotes from literature?

Hmm, so many good ones to choose from. I have to go with a few from Richard Bach:

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.”

“If your happiness depends on what somebody else does, I guess you do have a problem.”

Actually, here’s one more – one your readers should carve on their livers:

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

Rose said, “No one can take the sky from me.” Is that a Firefly reference?

Gorram right.

What’s the air speed velocity of a swallow?

African swallows are non-migratory and don’t travel north of the Zaire region. European swallows, on average, have a cruising speed of 11 meters/second, or 24 MPH.

And Assyria had four capitals: Ashur (Qalat Sherqat), Calah (Nimrud), Dur Sharrukin (Khorsabad), and Nineveh.

I’m pretty sure I noticed a Mythbusters reference in there. Who’s your favorite Mythbuster?

Actually, there are two: Cutting through a gun barrel and the hwachas used in book three.

I’m partial to Jamie. I like the way he approaches problems and breaks them down for their builds.

It’s hard to not like Jamie. He does give me a full-blown case of moustache envy though.

You write some pretty detestable characters. Have you created any characters you hate, or is there something you like about all of them?

I try to find something likable in all the characters, just to keep them from becoming caricatures. I try to base the Human villains on real people, or at least the actions of real people. The stuff the HOA does, for example, all came from real events.

I’ve only written one character I’ve hated. How was your working relationship with Randall?

I was glad to see him go. He was an amalgam of some real jerks, like the armed guard who would start cleaning his .357 if he didn’t like the way the D&D game was going. One time he finished cleaning the gun, reloaded it, and set it on the table pointing at the person he was angry with. That’s not an exaggeration – I was one of the people sitting downrange from him.

This book makes me question if I should like elves and unicorns… it’s the whole cat thing. Do you like them? (Elves and unicorns I mean, not cats.)

I do, but for story reasons, they had to be that way. What is one Human to a creature that thinks in terms of entire biomes? How can you expect mercy from someone who views the Black Death the same way we look at a bug zapper?

It’s hard and unpleasant to get into that headspace, but once you do, Smith and the other unicorns make perfect sense.

I’m currently on the last act of David & Rose’s third book. We meet some elves from a different world, and they’re much more fun to have around.

On that note, what’s next for your characters?

The second book, ‘The Land Beyond All Dreams’ has already been picked up by MuseItUp and is in the editing process. I’ve been working on the third book, and am almost to 70,000 words with it. It takes place at a comic/scifi/gaming convention in Las Vegas. Vegas is really Rose’s kind of town, I have to say.

‘The Land Beyond All Dreams’ is very much the story of David’s maturation into a full-blown Hero. He discovers the new weight loss drug his employer is testing may be causing episodes of psychotic violence and cannibalism. He becomes a whistleblower and accepts an early retirement offer, but soon finds out the drug prototype was contaminated.

A plane-travelling necromancer named Ingrim Thain has added a cocktail of his own to the drug prototype, trying to trigger episodes of murderous rage in the test subjects. He offers to cure David’s mother of her terminal cancer and shower him with wealth, if only David will look the other way. That leaves David in a tough position, because his mother only has a few weeks to live.

Most of the characters from the first book are back. We have more fights, bigger and more brutal battles. We get to see more of Rose’s world. We meet lizard men, Pack Rats of Ginormous Size, and naked Dwarf women with neatly knotted beards. And we learn why you should never ask a Dwarf to do you a Kindness.

My favorite new character is Thirteen, a cat who moves in with David and Rose. He has thumbs and takes his coffee black, two sugars.

‘The Land Beyond All Dreams’ should be available this summer.

 

‘The Land Beyond All Dreams’ Preview: Contents subject to change prior to publication

ONE: Cat, In Hat

The inevitable zombie invasion of Earth began at dawn on the day of the Mayan Apocalypse, and the herald of the End of Days was a cat in a hat.

Well, sort of.

Before anyone gets excited, it was just a cat wearing a hat. And there is no ‘Mayan Apocalypse’; just the calendar rolling over, like a car’s odometer. I wouldn’t say the cat in question was really a zombie, either. He’s more of a living mummy.

But other than those few quibbles, that was how it was. Cat in a hat.   Zombie invasion. Mayan calendar. “Hark, the Herald Zombies sing, “Time to start the brain munching…”

Just before dawn on the 21st of December, 2012, about twenty of us gathered at the top of Red Rocks amphitheater. We were there to drum, dance, and sing up the sun, welcoming the start of the New Year and the 14th bak’tun.

As a rule, Denver doesn’t have white Christmases, the notable exceptions being the blizzards of 1982 and 2006. Nor do we tend to have white solstices, but today we did and the predawn hours in late December were damn cold.

Rose was the only one dressed for dancing, but we clapped and cheered her on through five or six songs about the sun or sunrise. Being a Dragon, Rose was immune to the cold and could have danced the rest of the morning; the rest of us mere Humans were ready to leave far sooner.

With the sun well up and everyone ready for coffee and breakfast, we walked back to the upper parking lot. Our cars were just as we left them.

Well, sort of.

“What the frak?” Ember pointed towards our car. “When did you two get a cat?”

“We don’t have a cat,” I said.

Ember moved to the side and pointed again. The rear passenger door of our Range Rover was partially open, giving us a good view of the seat and the cat perched on it. “Something tells me you do.”

“Pretty sure we don’t.” I knelt and pulled the door open, while Rose peered over my shoulder. The space that was supposed to be empty was unquestionably occupied by a highly factual feline. I stared at him for a moment, but he showed no signs of Cheshiring off anytime soon. I had no idea what to say, so I stuck with the incredibly obvious. “Huh. It is a cat.”

Rose said, “In a hat.”

The cat flicked his tail. He was wearing a worn leather drover’s hat and the faded, cracked remains of a sky blue leather collar. Bright green eyes peered out at us from under the brim of his hat. A jagged scar pulled his lip up into a permanent sneer and a dried stem of catnip dangled through his exposed teeth. He looked to be little more than bone and thin, worn-down flesh. Whatever color nature gave to his fur had long-since bleached away, leaving him an irregular patchwork of brown, grey and tan, mostly due to the dirt and sand encrusting his fur.

I looked around and asked, “I don’t suppose he came up here with one of you?” All around the circle, people shook their heads. I stepped back and opened the car door all the way. “Sorry, buddy, but this isn’t your ride.”

Ember snickered. “Oh, yeah, that’s telling him.”

The cat stayed where he was, staring out from under the brim of his hat. The catnip stem twitched, and nothing more. I started trying to think of places where I could get my hands on a water pistol.

Rose stepped up and tapped me on the shoulder. “Let me try,” she said. I moved aside and she knelt to look the cat in the eyes. “We’re not the right family for you,” she said. “See if someone else here will take you home.” I know cats don’t understand English, but with the magic of the imperative form, that shouldn’t matter.

The cat started to stand up, shook his head, and settled back into position. Rose tried again, speaking Draconic this time. The cat flicked an ear at her.

Rose sat back on her heels. “I don’t think he’s an ordinary cat. Maybe we should give him a chance.”

“Fine,” I said. “He gets a chance. But not here. Let’s get into town and get some breakfast. I’ll buy him some chow and we can toss around theories. Starting with how he got a locked car door open.” I looked at the thin layer of snow and frost covering the parking lot, crisp and clear and even. Our footprints and tire tracks were obvious, but the area was singularly devoid of cat prints. It didn’t prove anything, but it was something else to consider. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve caught a cat teleporting.

Miriam asked, “Is he wearing any tags or anything?”

“I don’t see any,” I said. “I’ll try to check his collar.” He didn’t look hostile or feral, but I still took my time and watched for any sudden change in demeanor. The only identifying mark I found was the faded remains of the number ‘13’ embossed on his collar. He tolerated the search, but made it clear he didn’t like to be touched. At least he agreed to move to a blanket-lined box long enough for us to drive over to the diner.

The cat breezed past the ‘Service Animals Only’ sign and hopped up on the window ledge next to our table.  The waitress flipped to a new ticket and asked who was paying for his breakfast.

I looked at the cat and asked, “Scrambled eggs and sausage?”

He nodded.  He stuck one paw out and tapped the window ledge twice.

“Two of each?” I asked.

He nodded again.

The waitress’ name tag said ‘Retta’.  I smiled at her and shrugged.  “Two eggs, scrambled, with two sausages cut up and mixed in. Put it on our bill.”

Retta looked at the cat.  “You want anything to drink, honey?  Milk, water, soda, hot coffee?”

The cat shook his head, then flexed one paw and tossed his head back.

“Six bucks for a shot of Jack,” Retta said. “You going to pay for that, too?”

“Sure, why not.” I shook my head at the cat. “You’re an expensive date, buddy.”

“A shot of Jack Daniels in a saucer coming up.”  Retta looked at me and added, “Don’t you be letting that cat drive home after this.”

“Not a chance,” I said.  “He lost his license for catnip abuse.”

Once our food was delivered, the cat polished off his breakfast and started nosing around, collecting leftovers and bringing them back to his plate. I looked him over as he made short work of a blueberry pancake and said, “Pretty clever, cat. You picked the biggest bunch of suckers you could find. What’s the next step in your master plan?”

The cat ignored me and went back to looking out the window. Around us, the conversations went on, eventually turning to our hopes for the New Year and the new age of the world. Somewhere in there, the cat sat up and started pawing at the fogged-over glass. I glanced over, but it looked to me like any of the ‘finger-painting cat’ videos you can find on the Internet. He finally got tired of it and sat down, leaving the window covered with an abstract pattern of lines and whorls.

“That’s pretty cool,” Ember said. “Think he’ll hold still while I get a picture of it?”

“You know cats,” I said. “Give it a shot.”

Ember skipped the usual cell phone camera and pulled a Nikon out of her purse. She took half a dozen shots and the damn cat posed like a furry Van Gogh for all of them. She scratched the cat under his jaw and asked, “What are you going to call him?”

Rose said, “Lunch.”

“Don’t be mean,” Ember said. “Was there anything on his collar?”

“Just the number thirteen,” I said. “It’s not the greatest name in the world, but we could use that. What do you think, cat? Once for yes, twice for no.”

The cat looked at Rose and then back to me. “Mrow.”

I nodded. “Thirteen it is, then.”

Bryan Fields Author Photo

Where can we buy a copy of your book?

https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/coming-soon/life-with-a-fire-breathing-girlfriend-detail

http://www.amazon.com/Life-Fire-Breathing-Girlfriend-Bryan-Fields-ebook/dp/B00HN9G6KY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1388697726&sr=1-1&keywords=bryan+fields

And if someone wants to contact you, what are your links?

https://www.facebook.com/BryanFieldsAuthor

http://laughingotterslair.blogspot.com/