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During my freshman year at Grand Valley State University, I was killing time between classes. I had a small idea in my head about a scene for a story. That in itself was a strange thing, for though I had always enjoyed writing, I hadn’t put much fiction down on paper. I really liked the couple hundred words that I put down, and over the next fifteen years, the story and the character have grown in my mind.

I attempted writing what is no doubt a large novel about the character, only to be crushed under the weight of my first attempt. Last year, I pushed farther on a different story and found a way to complete 150,000 words. There’s lots of work left to do on it, but I finally figured out how to finish something.

While I was writing Shattered, I was also reading Robert E. Howard and really enjoying the Conan the Cimmerian stories. I felt the short story style fit Saulzar, that first lonely warrior I created back in college, and in a flash of insight I wrote down an outline to twelve stories that took place before the large novel I didn’t finish.

After much mental prodding, I have started on the short stories, and I plan on publishing one a month for the next year. It’s ambitious, but I also think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I hope you think so too.

That means that A Price to Pay will be hitting the Kindle store on August 1st! It will cost $.99, and should be a quick and entertaining read. I even have a real cover for it, thanks to a very artistic friend. Check her out on twitter at @brokenbrawler.

I’ll leave you with three things.

1) Saulzar has learned how to tweet. Check him out @TheRealSaulzar.

2) Here’s the cover art for A Price to Pay

price-to-pay[halfsize]

3) And here’s that very first email I wrote that started this entire story arc. Yes, this is unedited, email writing from 16 years ago, so let’s just keep that in perspective, shall we?

The warrior rested as he reached the crest of the plateau. Before him, the harvest moon, the “Blood Moon”, loomed large and hung low upon the horizon. Behind him, he could still see the glow of the village he had pillaged just hours before. Pillaging is tiring work, he thought to himself with a wry smile, remembering perfectly well what consequently happens directly after one pillages. He understands that what he does, many consider evil. But is he not just doing his job? Sure, that’s part of it. He reminded himself that he was unable to see the whole picture, the real purpose behind his destructive tendencies. As he sheathed his blood-ripened sword, he posed himself a grisly thought, what if all this was for naught? Was the emperor he served a heartless killer, or did the destruction instituted here gravitate toward a well-meaning purpose, something that the world as a whole was too feeble minded to comprehend. If this emperor were a madman, than he, a mercenary from the north with a penchant for destruction, would be forever viewed as an exceedingly evil myth. But, if this emperor truly did have the world’s betterment in mind, then he, Saulzar, would be viewed as not only a legend, but as someone who possessed the capability to rule a great portion of the empire.

Insightful thoughts for someone who bathed and drank from the same water. Never the less, Saulzar, at the very least, was a genius in his own right. Why else would the emperor have picked him to carry out this fateful task? He mounted his steed and began to move on. He continued over the crest of the plateau and into the next valley, inevitably moving closer to the next peasant-filled village, all the while contemplating his own place in the order of the world.

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