A tennis match? Starting a war between the Duchy of Avann and the Kingdom of the Westlands?All royalties will go to a local LGBT organization.
Only in a fairy tale.
When Prince Henry hurts a young ball boy who told him Danilo’s ball was inside the line, Danilo’s response is automatic. Punch the prince’s face, pick him up left-handed, and break the royal jaw. Unfortunately, there’s another “automatic” at work: a death sentence for whoever strikes royalty.
King Hiram can’t—won’t—change the rule of law to rule of royal whim. But he grants the Heir of Avann fifteen days to find words that will allow Danilo to live.
In those fifteen days: Magick. The gods, goddesses and gender-fluid deities on Deity Lane. Kilvar, the assassin. A purse which opens in a bank vault. A mysterious old man. The Lady of All. The Magickal Hand writing, rewriting. A fairy tale within a fairy tale. A huge horse called Brute. And at the end...perhaps the right words and a most unexpected love. Plus a deity-supplied dinner with just the right amount of garlic.
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From Chapter Three:
The Small Throne Room
The King of Westland’s Castle
Late Morning, the Day The Story Starts
“Sit,” King Hiram commanded. The young man, still head-bowed, didn’t move. The guards squeezed the prisoner’s biceps, half-marching, half-dragging to the chair at the opposite end of the table from the king. With four guard hands occupied by flesh or chains, the difficulty in moving the chair was obvious. The wizard’s spell removed the chains; they reappeared with a clunk!on the floor beside the table.
The guard on the young man’s left pressed a dagger-point against his throat. The other guard released him, stepped behind the chair and pulled it enough away for the young man to be maneuvered in front of it. Rough hands on shoulders forced him down. It was, of course, only happenstance the knifepoint nicked the neck, a drop of blood appearing when the blade was removed.
The recent command not to hurt the prisoner apparently didn’t apply to chairs in which the prisoner was sitting. The force used to propel it toward the table would have crushed the young man’s fingers if he’d rested them on the arms when he sat. Fortunately, his hands were in his lap. The young man’s head remained down as he was in effect caged by the chair and table.
He raised his head, looking straight ahead, but Hiram and his advisors could see he wasn’t seeing anything then present in the room.
Beneath the dirt, bruises, scrapes and crusted blood he was handsome. Sharp cheekbones, aquiline nose, thin lips, a faint cleft in his chin. Brilliant green eyes, flecked with gold. Unusual long hair tumbling near his shoulders, red-brown strands mixed with varying shades of gold. There was something almost familiar... The king chased a wisp of memory, but lost it.
The young man tilted his chin up enough to look at the king, apparently believing if cats could, so could he. There was no cringing in those eyes, no shame, no embarrassment. No anger or resentment. Perhaps, though, a tiny glimmer of...interest. As if this was some grand adventure and he needed to absorb everything happening to and around him for later remembrances.
Unfortunately, he wouldn’t be remembering anything again, in the not too distant future. A man doesn’t when his head has been severed from his neck, or he’s been hanged until a neck-snap or slow strangulation ends him. Hiram realized he didn’t remember what death the law required. He would, he knew, have to check.
In silence, the young man lifted his hands, and pushed the long, thick hair behind his ears, each movement telling a story of strain and pain. As did his face. One eye was swollen almost shut; a cut on his forehead still oozed blood; there was dirt on the bruising on cheeks and jaw; one lip was split.
“Did he resist arrest?”
“No, Your Majesty.”
“Did the prince do this?” The king refused to let himself display the tiniest glimmer of hope the answer was “yes.” The hope Henry fought back.
“Did he attempt to flee and have to be captured?”
“He is as the Guards found him on their arrival. I am—”
The young man interrupted with a laugh—a bright, beautiful baritone, filling the room with a joy entirely out of place in the circumstances.
The king’s low and angry voice in turn smashed the laughter. “You think all this is a joke?”
The young man blinked. “No, Your Majesty. I just thought it was funny someone thought I might run away. Only a coward runs, when he knows he’s done no wrong. I did what was right.”
“You struck my son.”
The young man shrugged. “I’ll strike any bully beating a child.”
Someone in the room gasped. The king merely thanked the Thirty-Nine it wasn’t him and pretended he hadn’t heard.
But as Hiram spoke he realized he was defending his son because of a father’s obligation, not from a belief in his innocence. “Prince Henry is my heir. He would never—”
“He did.” Kings do not flabbergast easily. Hiram was rendered so. Rogermight interrupt him in the privacy of the royal chambers, but elsewhere? No one dared. Until the young man.
Who had no idea what he was facing; had no idea of the inevitable outcome of his admission of guilt. Hiram did not need to hear more. The law was clear. The punishment was clear.
Yet if he was compelled to do as the law demanded, he would at least learn the truth first.
“Do you have any witnesses?”
The young man’s response was a scoffing, “Of course. Anyone there will tell you...” His voice faded away. “But they won’t, will they? He’s a prince, I’m a foreigner, and they’ll only tell you what a kingly father wants to hear: his son is as pure and innocent as the drifting...slush would be, in a kingdom where snow is possible.”
The chin-tilt this time was defiant. “So. What’s the penalty in this kingdom for saving a child from a beating which might have left him crippled?”
The young man paled, but didn’t flinch, and when he moved his hands to the table, there was no trembling.
Nor was there any in his voice. It was calm, almost matter-of-fact, and he didn’t avert his eyes from the king’s. “Interesting. I thought to rescue a child and instead I start a war.”
Old Moldy heard a threat and started to bluster. Hiram heard a statement of fact, or what the young man believed was truth. He told Old Moldy “No!” and the Chancellor slumped back in his chair.
“A man admits to a crime in my kingdom, for which the law demands the severest penalty. Why should anyone go to war over just punishment?” Everyone heard the silent question, “Who are you your death would cause a war?”
The young man’s bow—so far as he could in his seating situation—was formal. An objective observer might have called it regal.
“Your Majesty, permit me to introduce myself. I am Danilo ys Daeaen ys Cirill. I am the only grandson of the Duke of Avann.” The young man shrugged. “They call me the Heir of Avann.”
OF PRINCES FALSE AND TRUE
BLOG TOUR INTERVIEW
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Getting it done. It was started in November of 2016, and reached 31K by the end of the year. Very intermittent writing only added 15K by June of 2018. Then I met the guys at OWI, and they seductively said, “Hey guy, ya wanna hook up with us? We give good tours.” Well, two such handsome and talented fellows, how I could I resist? I agreed, and the commitment gave me the impetus to get the final 32K done in July. from July 1st on.
Another OWI blog tour commitment is going to drive getting the next Another England done, as well.
After that, I can but hope I’ll have the sticktoitivity (Google Youtube for the 1948 Disney song) to keep on and get the next two books in line done. [Author knocks on wood(en head) for luck.]
Do you outline before or while you write? Or not at all?
For the most part, not at all.
The only one with an outline is the next release, in September of 2018: no way out (yes, the lowercase is intentional), a Regency historical which is third in the Another England series. It wasn’t an outline though, with the kind of detailed complexity I’ve read about other writers doing.
I had the opening chapter, and I had the last chapter. I knew what the flow of the book was going to be, but there was also the issue of dates. The story takes place between March and October of 2016, and each chapter takes place on a specific date and time, at a specific place. So I had to work carefully with a United Kingdom calendar for 1816 to get it all right.
And as I did, for the first time, I found myself giving titles to chapters. Some samples out of the forty-two: One Impossible Thing Before Breakfast. Banging the Bankers. Adonis on the Half Shell. Birds of a Feather Try Plumage Together. The Matter of Numbered Accounts. In Which a Hawk is Met. Privy Privacy.
My outline became the chapter titles (with accompanying date, time, place and who is narrating) with a couple of short sentences about what happened for the chapters that were unfinished when I started the outline.
But for the rest, I have a title, I know where I’m starting, I know where I’m going, and I simply...or not so simply...fill in the blanks.
What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
I never kept track of dates, and some of my work was first published for free with a Don’t Read in The Closet event, before those books were expanded, revised and sent off to Amazon. As near as I can tell, though, the first published-for-pay was in November of 2013: Like a Mountain, Waiting.
When I went back to Goodreads to see if I could find the answer to your question, I was shocked to find that this story, which hasn’t been promoted in forever, had a five-star rating and wonderful review from July 25, 2018, and an over-all rating of 4.57. This one has a special place in my heart. Here’s what it’s about:
I was given a prophecy by the Oracle at Delphi, long before the birth of your Christ-child. She said I would be a soldier, and that I could not die until four things had happened. The first was finding “a mountain to the west.” Do you have any idea how many mountains there are to the west of Delphi?
As the years and centuries passed, I searched, and fought, and searched again. Not knowing how I would know which mountain was the right mountain, but somehow certain I would know.
I exhausted Europe. The British Isles. Iceland, Greenland, eastern Canada. Down into America around the time she was born, and there I found...my mountain. I made it my home. I left only when I was called to battle, for my new country, for others. I survived, of course. Came back to wait for the next call. Wondered, too, as I fought, and lived, and waited...when the second, and third, and fourth would happen. Wondered, too, sometimes, when the millennia made a world’s weight on shaking Atlas shoulders, if the right word was actually “if.”
And then I met him. July 12, 1912. I was so very sure....
This is my story, and the story of my kin in the village-town, and in the homes and farms grain-scattered around my mountain, though not blood kin, for I never married. How could I? My story, told by the man whose life was intertwined so closely with mine for a time.
In school, were you more academic, artsy, or athletic?
In elementary school and high school, academic; in college and graduate school, academically artsy (two theatre degrees), except when I was nine or so, and shocked everyone—family, friends, teachers, schoolmates, the gym teacher!—when the skinny, glasses-wearing geek played a season of soccer, including games in the cold and the wet and the mud. Never athletic since.
Eric is a Midwesterner, and as Lady Glenhaven might say, “His first sea voyage was with Noah.” He started reading at five with one of the Andrew Lang books (he thinks it was The Blue Fairy Book) and has been a science fiction/fantasy addict ever since. Most of his writing is in those (MM) genres.
The exceptions are his Another England (alternate history) series: The Rake, The Rogue and the Roué(Regency novel), Mr. Felcher’s Grand Emporium, or, The Adventures of a Pair of Spares in the Fine Art of Gentlemanly Portraiture(Victorian), with no way out(Regency) coming out a month after Of Princes.
Two more fairy tales are in progress: 3 Boars & A Wolf Walk Into A Bar(Eric is sure you can figure this one out), and The Truth About Them Damn Goats(of the gruff variety).
Now all he has to do is find the time to write the incomplete stuff! (The real world can be a real pain!)
Eric is giving away two backlist eBook titles to one lucky winner with this tour.
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Other Worlds Ink