12 Random Facts

If anyone missed my 12 random facts when they appeared on Erin Albert’s Blog Wednesday, June 5, here they are again.

1.       My first name isn’t Eric; it’s Stanley. I’m not sure why my parents decided to call me by my middle name (I don’t know if I’ve ever asked them), but I certainly feel more like an Eric than a Stanley. I’m surprised by the number of people I’ve met who go by there middle names. But it does make for confusing conversations.

2.       Maybe it’s from my own confounded name, but I put great care in picking names. Both for my children and the characters in my stories. I didn’t want week names for my boys, so I named them after rulers. I have an Alexander (after Alexander the Great) and a Marcus (after Marcus Aurelius). I later learned Marcus was derived from Mars, the war god. And with his occasional catastrophic temper tantrums, I wonder if more research could have helped. Their middle names are Richard and David: family names, but also famous kings. We call them by their first names.

3.       I have donated close to four gallons of blood at blood drives, but I’m sure I’m well over ten gallons if you count what mosquitoes have taken from me without asking. For some reason they love me. I can sit around a campfire with ten other people, and I’ll be the only one with bites. My luck is exactly the opposite when it comes to fishing.

4.       This brings me to why I do everything I can to avoid killing spiders, snakes, and cats. They eat things I do not like.

Cover of "Bull Durham"

Cover of Bull Durham

5.       I watch Bull Durham at the start of every baseball season. And I agree with Crash Davis: “I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter.”

6.       I think the World Cup is the most important sporting event. One of my greatest accomplishments came during the 2002 Cup in Japan/South Korea. I adjusted my sleep schedule to watch the games live. To stay awake during the downtime between games, I decided to check out the first four books of this series called Harry Potter everyone was raving about—maybe you’ve heard of it. I enjoyed it and the cup.

7.       I am a recovering comic book addict. Now I satisfy my fix with The Walking Dead and Locke & Key. I get them from the library to avoid buying them, which leads to collecting, which is the true problem of the addiction.

8.       I am also a recovering video game addict. This was easier to get over than the comics. The financial and time commitment required phased it out when I started college. I’ve had occasional relapses, but for the most part I can control it if I limit my play time to Lego Star Wars with my sons, and maybe an occasional hit of The Legend of Zelda.

9.       At the end of my senior year of high school, one of my teacher gave everyone in the class a certificate with a single word on it he felt best described the student. My word was “DREAMER.” To this day I’m not sure if he meant it as an insult or compliment.

10.   If you count summer elective courses, it took me four colleges and six years to get my bachelor’s degree. I don’t have a degree in English, creative writing, or anything else which may be useful to an author. I majored in biology. I would have had enough credits to minor in chemistry, but the college I finally graduated from didn’t offer a chemistry minor.

11.   I’m a self proclaimed technophobe. Eventually society catches up with me, and I’m forced to give in. Although I have found the practical value of things like Facebook, Twitter, and smart phones, a part of me still believes the internet is inherently evil, and social media, games, and apps are time wasters developed as part of a deep, dark conspiracy to retard our sociological advancement. But maybe it’s just me. I have started using an eReader. I thought it appropriate as my book will be released as an eBook. I’ve found it helps me stay focused on what I’m reading, which brings me to my final point.

12.   I have a strange attention problem which makes it difficult for me to complete a book. I struggle reading just one book, so I tend to read eight to ten books at a time. I’m working on the issue. I try to limit myself to one book of fiction, two of nonfiction (a biography/history/etc. and a book about writing), and one of poetry. I don’t completely understand poetry, but I’m learning. Sometimes I’ll slip in a short story or two just to feel like I’ve accomplished something. So far my attempt at “limiting” myself seems to help. I read Katie Carroll’s Elixir Bound last week without stopping to read anything else. Katie is the content editor of my book, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud, at MuseItUp Publishing. I recommend it to anyone looking for a young adult fantasy not about vampires. Do I hear crickets? Please, don’t let me hear crickets! I don’t have anything against vampires, it’s just YA used to be about so much more, and it will be again. It will. I promise.

And here is the excerpt from Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud included with the original post:

Chapter One
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 a reprieve with each step; yet he continued to circle, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. After a long day of sword dueling, with little downtime between rounds, Owen’s whole body needed a rest. But he wanted nothing more in the world, at this precise moment, than to win the championship bout.

Owen knew Edward must also be tired. They had each fought four previous matches, and every contestant entered in the tournament presented a worthy challenge. Edward, Shield of the King—the commander of the King’s Sentry, the strongest army in all of Wittatun— received continual praise for his skill with a blade. Owen, already defeating two Sentrymen earlier in the day, hoped to beat one more. But to overcome the King’s Shield would require more skill than besting a Sentryman.

The fighters continued to circle one another. Sunlight gleamed off Edward’s brilliant metal chest plate and helm. Now facing the westering sun, Edward squinted; 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. The vibration transmitted up Owen’s 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 the 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. Edward sidestepped, moved back in line, and raised his sword to the en garde position. Owen noticed Edward’s shield drop ever so slightly. The tiny gap in defense may have provided the opening needed to finish him.

Owen lunged. But his forward motion could not be stopped when he recognized the move as a mistake. The tip of the sword slid between the hinge where the chest plate met the shoulder guard and dug into the muscle. Sharp pain shot through Owen’s left shoulder, and he barely heard the judge blow the whistle through the anguish. Edward lowered his shield as an invitation for Owen’s attack. When the younger fighter took the offering, the elder’s stop-thrust found the only week point of the armor.

Owen, large for his age, still stood six inches shorter than Edward. The Shield’s muscular forearms resembled Owen’s thighs. The chainmail armor on his forearm, formfitting on most solders, clung tight to Edward. His muscles rippled as he pushed the sword tip a little deeper into the meat. A thin stream of blood trickled down the blade and dripped to the ground.

Edward sneered as red drops splattered the trampled grass. “I wish we fought to first-blood. I hope the king doesn’t put me to death for injuring his son.”

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