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.
CHAPTER 1: THE FESTIVAL
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.