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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Cover Art Contest Details

Cover-Art Contest for A Mage's Play by Zak Shareef
$300 Award and publication as the cover for novel from a best-selling Amazon author.

Submission deadline is December 15, 2013

No submission fee.
Email queries, requests for the full novel, and submissions to

Prize awarded January 1st 2014.
Excerpts you may wish to illustrate or work from:

1)         Joshua’s neighbor demonstrated his answer by way of calling out, “Come in.”
            The woman who did was gorgeous. She was clearly a combination of several races that had left the mark of none on her clearly. Her skin color was slightly darker and warmer than an East Asian’s. Her eyes were almond shaped and brown, but there was a softness to her features not typical of Arabian women.
            Without meaning to, Joshua had slipped into poet mode for the first time in months. He tried to figure out how and why and to what extent she was beautiful. His neighbor took the hose from his mouth and started laughing that deep laugh of his. There was nothing overtly magical about it, but the noise seemed to carry within it the humor of every laugh the man had ever heard.

Joshua closed the book. He looked up at his girlfriend who stood in the doorway of what had become his bedroom. She wore dark jeans with small holes in them above the knees. She had a crimson tank top on under a loose and partly unbuttoned cream blouse. Joshua hadn't meant to check her out, and he knew she knew what the smile that had appeared on his face meant he was feeling.

            Ananda stepped onto the mat. Her body was coated with a dense, dark gray gel. Despite the fact that it literally outlined her form, it obscured her figure by subtly shifting the shade of gray at certain points along her body.
            “If we’d done this when we first met, you’d have won in a second,” said Joshua.
            “And, I won’t now?” she asked.
            Joshua shrugged. The Guardsmen in the City were, on average, better than the ones Joshua had trained with on the base when he was a kid. It had been a decade since he’d focused on combat training. Plus, he’d seen Ananda move. Dancers brought a grace and efficiency to combat techniques that most pure martial artists didn’t reach for decades, and she was an extraordinarily talented dancer.
            Ananda was probably faster and stronger than he was. She might be able to do things he’d never heard of, but this fight wasn’t going to come down to techniques.
Fight Scenes:
            The air around the man started to crackle and violet lines of electricity slithered along his arms. He looked at Joshua and spoke in a voice that echoed through the bar. “I’m not? What am I then?”
            Joshua moved with Augmented speed. He stood behind the man before anyone else in the bar realized he had moved. Joshua placed his hand on the man’s neck, and he wrapped it in a Bind which directed a magnetic pulse inward. The pulse disrupted the Tech buried in the tattoos.
            The air settled. The electricity vanished, and the black faded from the man’s eyes. “You,” said Joshua, “are an imposter. You play at being a Wizard, and you get away with it because so few people have met a real one.”

Seconds later, the cutest toddler Joshua had ever seen floated at eye level. The boy wore a black onesie. Joshua recognized the shade. It wasn't just black. It was blackness. A baby floated in front of Joshua Awen wearing the Abyss. He wore that emptiness which the worst that had ever touched Joshua's mind leaped to fill. Every cruel whisper that had never passed Joshua's lips, every whimper he'd bitten down on, every terror he'd forced himself to breathe through danced just in front of the blackness which draped the adorable baby.
The City:
            They continued on. Joshua was exhausted from keeping his nervous system going that fast for that long. He needed to eat and sleep. He used a few subtler Augmentations to keep himself going, but it was starting to get tough. If that weren’t bad enough, the unchanging buildings next to him made the march feel surreal, unending, and pointless. Joshua's mind reached for Marvin. Joshua wrote a quick script modifying a standard film-projection spell. Even that little coding was still difficult for Joshua without any kind of visual or tactile feedback. Matthew had crammed every kind of photo gallery imaginable onto the Mobile. Instead of a movie he had the spell pull random pictures from every collection. Joshua executed the spell.
            The walls around them filled with images. There was a building sized tiger to his left. On Ananda’s side there was a sketch of the white rabbit checking his pocket watch.
            A chime of delight warmed Ananda's voice as she said, “Alice In Wonderland? A little on the nose. Don’t you think?”
            Joshua looked at her. She stared off into a shadowed gathering of trees. Joshua sighed. He had Marvin build her a yellow brick road from their current position to the cluster of what Joshua decided, for safety's sake, to label as something other than large plants.
            “Ananda, dear, please stay on the yellow brick road when you go investigate those tree-like-beings.”
            “One little boo-boo, and you become all paranoid about safety,” said Ananda.
            “Wouldn't it have been faster to just call me a wimp,” asked Joshua.
            “Faster but less rewarding,” she said before hopping onto the yellow brick road and skipping the thirty feet to the cluster of probably-trees.
            Joshua followed her. He kept his hand far from his blade, but he Augmented his nervous system,  squinted through his third eye, and pushed his mind outside his body. He tried to be ready for anything. He failed.
            The trees did not form a circle, but one clearly would have been in the center if they had. This central tree differed from the others in one readily identifiable way. A man wearing a wrinkled, paisley sheet as a toga sat on the ground and occupied a large portion of the space that ought to be reserved for the tree's trunk. He did not touch the rest of the trunk. The roots poking up from the ground did not grow into him. He was not physically part of the tree, but on some important level of existence that Joshua did not have access to the man and the tree were one.

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