Monthly Archives: May 2015

Cloudy Day

It was not a cloudy day in the sense that clouds covered the sky.  Rather, the clouds seemed particularly fanciful, as though an artist with a brush full of white paint was having some fun.  First, it seemed as if the sky were being ruled in preparation for a penmanship exercise. 3 linesBut then, a slashing movement of the brush created a sign known to all who have struggled through the upper levels of mathematics. The not-equal sign.

slashIt sort of begs the question, doesn’t it? Not equal to what?

FossilThen this formation appeared, seeming to be some sort of ancient  tribolite fossil, etched into the sky.

Fanciful 2Then the artist seemed to calm down somewhat.  Maybe he had just a little paint left? Maybe she was inspired by calligraphy from China or Japan or Persia.

Fanciful 3Who knows?  It was splendid, like this shape, also suggesting the technique of an artist who is sure with his brush.

Fanciful cloudsI am sure this bit of writing has some meaning, if only I understood the language.

Cloud wavesBut every day has to end (at least in the known universe). And the final theme was the peaceful lapping of waves on a shore that leaves rippled patterns in the sand.

Cloud waves 2 Or the sky of course.  Until the tide comes again and washes the marks away.

MoonHappy Peaceful Safe Memorable Thoughtful Memorial Day.

Welcome to Author Eric Price

Well, it is Tuesday, May 12, 2015 and  Eric Price has taken a breather from his writing and from this very busy time of year on his wife’s family farm to visit  with us.  It has been a long time since I have been in Iowa.  I went through there on my motorcycle after college graduation.  It was the last nice day we had before it broke down in the center of the country.

Welcome, Eric!

Please share with us a memory of visiting the library or of reading, preferably as a young child.

Well, I wasn’t necessarily a young child at the time, but this memory is one of the most important on my path to becoming a writer.

As a child, I didn’t like to read. I had a friend who tried to get me as excited about books as he was. In the sixth grade, he read Stephen King’s The Stand. The next year, while at the library, I spotted a used copy of Stephen King’s The Shining on the sale rack. I decided to give it a try. I loved it, and the world of reading opened to me.

(This kind of answer is why we love this question. And also why we love visiting places where there are lots of books lying around.  You never know where one book will lead you.)

Which book have you inherited from the generation above; that is, which book have you read and has stayed with you and made you reread it in whole or in part? What about the book created this attraction?

One of my dad’s favorite books is The Outsiders. After I got into reading, I tried it. I liked it a lot. Then a few years ago, I read it again. While I still liked it, it was almost like reading a different book due to the amount I have changed since seventh grade.

(Re-reading a book is an amazing experience. But sharing a favorite book of your Fathers is really special).

Which book would you like to leave to future generations in the hope that it would have the same effect on others that your inherited book had on you? Why? (NOT one of the books you’ve written).

Not one I’ve written? You’re right. They should all pass to the next generation.

Okay, here’s my ‘for serious’ answer. Harry Potter came out when I was in college. I knew very little about it, but its extreme popularity made me avoid it. When the 2002 World Cup came around, and it was played in Japan/Korea which is on the opposite side of the world from me, I needed something to keep me awake in the late hours between games and during the halftimes. The first three Harry Potter books were available in paperback, so I finally picked them up for a try. I loved them, and I’ve gone on to re-read the series countless times. I think they’re the best series written in my lifetime, and now I’m reading them with my oldest son. We’re almost done with book five.

(It is so nice to enjoy a book with your son. Soon he will be a reader of yours.  Maybe a critic?)

Take a photograph of one of your bookshelves. (And please send it with your answers.) If a stranger were to enter your room and see it, what would it tell that person about you?

BookshelfThis is just one of many bookshelves, but it’s my favorite. I think it says a lot about me. The top shelf and part of the second show I like the classics, both modern and older. It also shows I’m a collector (read obsessive) about my favorite authors. All of Chuck Palahniuk books are on the second self, and the third and fourth shelves have some of my Stephen King books. This one has my all time favorites, as well as the few I haven’t read yet. If you notice the relatively new copy of The Shining, not the second hand copy I mentioned before. Well, it fell apart. You’ll also notice my current favorite, IT, and how it has nearly fallen apart.

(We will have to check out Chuck Palahniuk.  Steven King is already a favorite of ours, although too scary to read at night!)

Do you write full time? If not, how do you manage to balance your writing with what you do to earn money?

I work on my wife’s family farm. Some times of year this provides me with hours and hours of writing, other times I have to squeeze time in wherever I can find it. Tablets and smart phones have helped since I now have a computer with me wherever I go.

(Sounds like a great idea).

At what point did you decide to write a novel? What caused you to pick the particular novel that you first wrote?

I’ve wanted to create my own stories since I started reading for fun. I guess I always thought I would write novels since I didn’t know anything else. Of course, the first four fiction stories I sold were short stories, and I wrote about thirty articles before I finally got my novel published.

My first novel came as a result of a writing class I took. I had to send the instructor two or three book proposals. I had two worked out already, but I wanted to submit three since I could. I put a rough story idea together and submitted it (typos and everything), but told the instructor I wanted to write a contemporary piece. I had already written the first chapter of it. After I sent it, the third story started developing in my mind. I waited for my instructor’s response, fully intending to tell her I wanted to do the third story. When I heard back from her, she told me I could write any story I want, but she urged me to consider the third one, the fantasy that became Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud.

(Great story about writing a story.  And, it won a prize!)

Are there any genres that you have never written in that you would like to try? Why or why not?

I would like to write a pure comedy—Christopher Moore style—I’m not sure I can, though. Sometimes I get funny ideas to put in my story (Check out Chapter Eight of The Squire and the Slave Master when it comes out.), but I’d have trouble coming up with enough comical material for an entire novel.

Tell us about the next book we will see from you. Are any others in the planning stage?

My next book, coming August 4, The Squire and the Slave Master, is the first of two sequels to Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud. In it, Yara has to disguise herself as a boy, keep her magical abilities a secret, and travel to a far away land to put an end to a slave operation. I don’t want to give away too much, but needless to say, things aren’t going to go as smoothly as she hopes.

Mock CoverThe third book in the series, A Wizard Reborn, will take place simultaneously with The Squire and the Slave Master, but it will follow Owen’s adventures in trying to establish himself as a future ruler, recruit for a weakened army, oh, and he’s going to have to deal with some nasty reincarnation business. But I think an old friend will show up to help.

Literary Classics International Book Awards - Young Adult Award Winning Book
Literary Classics International Book Awards – Young Adult Award Winning Book

(You’re on our TBR pile, Eric.)

Attach a photo of you (preferably one that we have not seen before, perhaps in some activity that you enjoy!)

Eric and FamilyThis is a picture of my family from our first Disney cruise. We love to travel, and I think my kids have learned more from first hand experiences than they ever will from a classroom.

(Great photo! And we could not agree more about the value of travel to education.)

If there is anything else you would like to share with us before we move on to the important stuff — an excerpt of your latest book and links to where we can find all of your books?

If you’ve never heard of Lightning Quick Reads ( you should check it out. Every month, the twelve participating authors, as well as one guest author, post short stories based on a monthly theme. May’s theme is The Unbelievable. My story goes live on the 17th of each month. This month I’ll post the conclusion to a three part science fiction story I’ve been working on. We have sports stories, sci-fi/fantasy, contemporary, historical fiction, romance. Really, just about everything. Every comment left during the month of May will get entered for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card, so there’s more incentive to check it out.

This is a buy link for all of Eric’s published works.

These are links to Eric’s website, twitter and Facebook pages.  Check him out!

  This is an excerpt  from The Squire and the Slave Master:

Yara’s mother, her long, brown hair, much like her daughter’s, but streaked with grey, entered the stables. She looked around and must have sensed the remaining hostility. She put her hand on the man’s shoulder. “Oh, Pavit, you didn’t try to tell Yara her place in the world again, did you?”

“Now Kamala, you know—”

“Yes he did, Mother. And do you know what’s worse? He wants to arrange my marriage. And even worse, he wants to go back to the time of slavery.” Yara tried to scowl at him, but she felt a smile break through.

“Now, I never even suggested that.”

“Yara, honey,” her mother said, smiling as well, “a messenger from the castle’s here to see you.”

“Agh! Right now?” She dripped with sweat and smelled like horse manure. “What could the castle possibly want with me? Can he come back another time?”

Her mother turned to leave. “I think you need to see what he wants.”

Yara picked up the hammer and horseshoe and placed them on the workbench, brushed some of the soot and dirt from her clothes, and took the coif from her hair. She never worried about her appearance, but her hair was uncomfortably matted to her head. When she untied it and fanned it out, it stretched nearly to her waist. It felt much better free.

Opening the door, she paused to size up the tall, well-built man, a few years younger than she, who stood outside the yard gate. His hair had grown out since she had last seen him, and it looked like he hadn’t shaved for a week. He wore gloves, but she knew underneath, the palm of the right one looked black and charred. She sprinted and threw herself into his arms.

“Owen! How are you?” She pulled away to look at him. “What’s this on your face? Dirt?” She rubbed his beard stubble.

“Yeah, it’s dirt. I thought I should match you.”

Yara’s face grew warm. She couldn’t imagine how much filth must cover her. She didn’t care to take time to freshen herself for a messenger, but she would have had she known his identity. It must have something to do with their time apart—Owen and Yara used to spend almost every day together—but as the official heir to the throne, each time she saw him, he somehow looked different in her eyes. More noble. More royal.

He smiled and wiped at a smudge on her cheek. “Did I hear you say something about getting married?”

“Oh no! Father loves trying my nerves. I don’t want to talk about it. Why are you here?” And how much of the conversation did you hear?

(Looks like love is in the air.  Another book on the TBR pile!)

Thanks for taking the time to join us, Eric, and best of luck to you!




Anne and I visited the national park that now protects the land on which  the Battle of Gettysburg was fought in 1863 during the Civil War, or the War Between the States depending on your point of view.  It is a remarkable place with a wonderful museum and many many many monuments, large and small.   We saw most of the places that are well known to those who have read about the three day battle and where many died in ferocious fighting– the Wheatfield, the Bloody Angle, Little Roundtop, Devil’s Den and many more.  One of the iconic spots is the field now famous for Pickett’s charge  on the final day of the battle that spelled the end of the effort to invade the North and is said to be the beginning of the end of the war, although that is an oversimplification.  Some might even say it is still being fought.

PickettLooking from the Union side, this is the field that the men who participated in  Pickett’s charge marched across as cannon filled with all sorts of implements of human destruction were fired at them.  It is a long way even without the prospect of death on the other side.

Pickett 2This is a picture of what they were looking at when they started.  The tree in the middle, is now standing at what is called the Bloody Angle because two stone walls came together at that point and after the fighting the bodies were piled particularly high there.  Remember that place.

Devil's DenThis is a picture of what was and still is called Devil’s Den.  It is one of the spots that takes very little imagination to feel what the battle must have been like as men from both armies hid among the rocks trying to kill before someone could kill them.

Sniper denThis is taken from within Devil’s Den.  The wall is a fake, but there is no doubt that similar structures were built by both sides during the battle.  In the distance is Little Roundtop.  From this spot, Confederate snipers could take shots at unwary Union soldiers.  There are many ways to die on a battlefield.

The DevilAs I said, the rocks have not changed over the years.  I wonder if any soldiers saw the irony of this grim devil overlooking his Den while countrymen tried to kill each other over the course of several days.

BBluff 3Anyway, after Gettysburg, Anne and I drove down to a little town called Leesburg in Virginia where another much smaller battle took place during the Civil War called Ball’s Bluff.  It was a disaster for the North and the dead included Senator Baker, who was a friend of Lincoln.  One of the wounded that day was my great-great grandfather, Robert Hicks, who was a captain in Baker’s regiment.  His wound was serious enough to keep him out of the fighting for the rest of the war although he re-enlisted in the Veteran Reserve Corps which performed duties necessary to the war effort.

BBluff 1There is a tiny cemetery at Ball’s Bluff enclosed by a brown stone wall in which one marker has a name and twenty four are marked “unknown.”  Unknown to whom? some might ask.

Fence bayonetAnyway, one of the things I learned while at Gettysburg was that the regiment that was in the thick of the fighting at the Bloody Angle was the regiment that my great-great grandfather would have been in if he had not been wounded at Ball’s Bluff.  Things might have turned out differently for him and for me.  My great grandfather was not born until many years after the war was over.

Bbluff 2Turkey vulture above Ball’s Bluff Battlefield.  Blue sky.  Clouds.

As we stood at the bloody angle at Gettysburg, a mockingbird was attacking starlings that had invaded his tree.  Some battles never end.