A GRIPPING YOUNG ADULT ADVENTURE!

About the Story:

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time. With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?


What is the Collar for, and What is a Cavvarach?

The story is set in a world very much like our own, with just a few major differences. One is that slavery is legal there. Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone. Any slave attempting to escape faces the dilemma of how and where to illegally get their collar removed (a crime punishable by enslavement for the remover).  

Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil. It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with “have a rack”), an unsharpened weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge. Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades. You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

More About the Story

Set in a world alarmingly like our own, The Collar and the Cavvarach is the story of fourteen-year-old Bensin, a slave, whose status is made obvious to everyone by the steel collar locked around his neck. A martial artist who competes to win money for his owner, Bensin fights in tournaments with a cavvarach. But his greatest battle is the struggle to protect his little sister from the horrors of legalized slavery in a world where slaves have few rights. Desperate to keep her safe, Bensin struggles to find a means – legal or otherwise – to arrange for her freedom.

(For a fun introduction to the story’s setting and its culture, including an explanation of how cavvara shil works, click here.) 


Sound Like a Book you Might Enjoy? 

Click the play button below to listen to the first 15 minutes of the story as narrated by Joseph Baltz.

Click here to go to the audiobook on Audible.
Click here to go to the audiobook on Amazon.
(Either way, try listening to the free sample to see what you think!)



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About the Author


Annie Douglass Lima considers herself fortunate to have traveled in twenty different countries and lived in four of them. A fifth-grade teacher in her “other” life, she loves reading to her students and sparking their imaginations. Her books include science fiction, fantasy, YA action and adventure novels, a puppet script, anthologies of her students’ poetry, Bible verse coloring and activity books, and a fantasy-themed cookbook. When she isn’t teaching or writing, Annie can often be found sipping spiced chai or pomegranate green tea in exotic locations, some of which exist in this world.


Goodreads: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnGoodreads
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/anniedouglasslima
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BeachBoundBooks is pleased to be coordinating a Blog Tour for the children’s adventure book written by Fiona Ingram, Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper (The Chronicles of the Stone). The tour will run from February 26 – March 19, 2018.

About the Book

Title: The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper (The Chronicles of the Stone, Book 3) | Author: Fiona Ingram | Publisher: Bublish, Inc | Publication Date: November 17, 2017| Genre: Children’s Adventure | Number of Pages: 318

Description: Continuing the adventure that ended in Britain just a short while ago, cousins Adam and Justin Sinclair, with their friend Kim Maleka, are now hunting for the third Stone of Power, one of seven mysterious stones lost centuries ago. The third stone might be located in an ancient city, hidden in the depths of the Mexican jungle.When their small plane crashes in the jungle, Adam, Justin, Kim, and James are rescued by an uncontacted tribe. James, who is wounded, must stay behind as the kids, with only a young boy, Tukum, as their guide, make their way through the dense and dangerous jungle to find the city. River rafting on a crocodile-infested river and evading predators are just part of this hazardous task.

Of course, their old adversary Dr. Khalid is close behind as the kids press on in search of the lost city of stone gods. But he is not the worst of their problems. This time Adam will clash with a terrible enemy who adopts the persona of an evil Aztec god, Tezcatlipoca, and is keen to revive the ancient tradition of human sacrifice. Adam, Justin, and Tukum must play a dreadful ball game of life and death and maybe survive. Will they emerge alive from the jungle? Will Dr. Khalid find the third Stone of Power before they do?

Other Books in the Series

Book One: The Secret of the Sacred Scarab

Description: 
A quest filled with danger… Seven ancient Stones of Power… Two young heroes…

This action-packed middle grade/tween adventure tests the courage of cousins Adam and Justin Sinclair from the moment they arrive in Egypt. Can they survive a harrowing journey to discover the secret of the sacred scarab while being pursued across the desert by a deadly foe?

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab is the kind of adventure readers love! The fast-paced action, the evil villain, the secrets of the past, and the mysterious ancient setting make this a sure-hit favorite for both young and young at heart explorers.

Book Two: The Search for the Stone of Excalibur

Description: A modern day adventure as our protagonists search for Excalibur and the treasures it holds! This is a must-read for Middle Graders keen on action, adventure, and Arthurian stories! Continuing the adventure that began in Egypt a few months prior in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, cousins Adam and Justin Sinclair are hot on the trail of the second Stone of Power, one of seven ancient stones lost centuries ago. This stone might be embedded in the hilt of a newly discovered sword that archeologists believe belonged to King Arthur: Excalibur. However, their long-standing enemy, Dr. Khalid, is following them as they travel to Scotland to investigate an old castle. Little do they know there is another deadly force, the Eaters of Poison, who have their own mission to complete. Time is running out as the confluence of the planets draws closer. Can Justin and Adam find the second Stone of Power and survive? And why did Aunt Isabel send a girl with them?

Join Justin and Adam as they search not only for the second Stone of Power, but also for the Scroll of the Ancients, a mysterious document that holds important clues to the Seven Stones of Power. As their adventure unfolds, they learn many things and face dangers that make even their perils in Egypt look tame. And how annoying for them that their tag-along companion, Kim, seems to have such good ideas when they are stumped.

Watch the Book Video

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgcAp1-JSgU]

About the Author

I am a children’s author, but up until a few years ago, I was a journalist and editor. Something rather unexpected sparked my new career as an author—a family trip to Egypt with my mother and two young nephews. We had a great time and I thought I’d write them a short story as a different kind of souvenir…. Well, one book and a planned book series later, I had changed careers. I have now published Book 3 (The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper) in my MG adventure series Chronicles of the Stone, with many awards for the first book, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, and a few for Book 2, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, and one already for Book 3! I also teach online novel writing for aspiring authors and I find that very satisfying. Relaxation time finds me enjoying something creative or artistic, music, books, theatre or ballet. I love doing research for my book series. I love animals and have written two animal rescue stories. I have two adorable (naughty) little dogs called Chloe and Pumpkin, and a beautiful black cat called Bertie.

Facebook ~ Book Website ~ Twitter ~ Author Website ~ Blog
Google+ ~ Amazon ~Goodreads

Blog Tour Giveaway

Prize: One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card or $25 PayPal cash prize, winner’s choice
Giveaway ends: March 19, 11:59 pm, 2018
Open to: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Fiona Ingram and is hosted and managed by Stacie from BeachBoundBooks. If you have any additional questions feel free to send an email to [email protected]

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don’t forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 

Author’s name: Annie Douglass Lima

Title of book and/or series: The Student and the Slave (Book 3 in the Krillonian Chronicles)
Also:
Book 1: The Collar and the Cavvarach
Book 2: The Gladiator and the Guard

Brief summary of the story:

Is this what freedom is supposed to be like? Desperate to provide for himself and his sister Ellie, Bensin searches fruitlessly for work like all the other former slaves in Tarnestra. He needs the money for an even more important purpose, though: to rescue Coach Steene, who sacrificed himself for Bensin’s freedom. When members of two rival street gangs express interest in Bensin’s martial arts skills, he realizes he may have a chance to save his father figure after all … at a cost.

Meanwhile, Steene struggles with his new life of slavery in far-away Neliria. Raymond, his young owner, seizes any opportunity to make his life miserable. But while Steene longs to escape and rejoin Bensin and Ellie, he starts to realize that Raymond needs him too. His choices will affect not only his own future, but that of everyone he cares about. Can he make the right ones … and live with the consequences?

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:

The story takes place in the Krillonian Empire, which is in a world whose culture and technology are almost exactly like our own in most ways. The main difference is that slavery is legal there. (To learn more about the Krillonian Empire, click here.) In today’s post, however, we will focus on life in the province of Tarnestra (also called Tarnestran Province). Tarnestra is unique in that it recently became the first province in the empire to outlaw slavery. As you can imagine, this history-making event sparked hope in the hearts of slaves throughout the empire, and for many, dreams of escape suddenly became a real possibility. As a result, in addition to freeing all its local slaves, Tarnestra has recently seen an influx of escaped slaves from Imperia and other provinces. These changes have had unfortunate effects on the economy, since many businesses cannot afford to hire as many employees and have had to shut down or cut way back. (The accepted salary for enslaved workers – paid to their owners, of course – is two-thirds what free workers earn.) Tarnestra is now dealing with huge numbers of unemployed and homeless people.


If we were to visit Tarnestra as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?

Snow sports are popular. Tarnestra’s Rurionis Range has several mountains high enough to have snow at the top all year round, and it’s a common destination for anyone who likes skiing, snowboarding, or sledding. 

What dangers should we avoid in Tarnestra?

Because of the high homeless population and the fact that so many people are unemployed, there’s been an increase in crime recently. In addition, you’ll want to watch out for the street gangs, especially if you go out alone at night. Rumor has it that at least one of the gangs has even been involved in kidnapping people to sell them as slaves in other provinces where slavery is still legal.

Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Tarnestra?

Since it’s by the ocean, seafood is popular. A dish containing cheese dumplings with mushroom gravy is considered a delicacy. Most foods in Tarnestra are very similar to what you might eat on Earth. 

What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Tarnestra?

Tarnestra is not known for its martial arts. Street gangs battle with knives, clubs, and the occasional gun (though firearms are not as easy to obtain there as in some other parts of the Krillonian Empire). One gang, the Corner Creepers, have designed a weapon known as a bladeclub, which involves a short bat spring-loaded with a knife blade. Meanwhile, Bensin misses the cavvarach he had to leave behind: a sword-like weapon with a hook about halfway down the blade.


What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Tarnestra?

Cars and trucks are the norm in the city. Many people who live on the coast own boats of various kind. People travel to Tarnestra from other parts of the empire by airplane or boat.

Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Tarnestra as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?

As in the rest of the Krillonian Empire, the calendar is the same as Earth’s. Some holidays are different or are given more importance, however. New Year is the most important day of the year, and is celebrated similarly to Christmas on Earth, with decorations, gift giving, music, and feasts with family and friends.

What is the political or government structure in Tarnestra?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?

An emperor, who is never named, governs the whole Krillonian Empire from the capital city, Krillonia, on the continent known as Imperia.  Tarnestra is one of eight separate provinces on nearby continents.  Like the others, Tarnestra is allowed to elect its own legislature and decide on many of its own laws, but the emperor reserves the right to veto any of them and make changes as he sees fit.  

Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit Tarnestra?

Some Tarnestrans consider it stylish to wear silver in their hair. (Most Tarnestrans have blond or brown hair.) It’s not uncommon to see men, especially, in dreadlocks entwined with silver wires, or braids with silver beads on the end. If you choose to follow this particular custom, though, beware: a dangerous gang known as the Silverheads is famous for doing this, and it’s possible you’ll be mistaken for a gang member, especially if you have a burly build and go out at night with a weapon. If you happen to meet any of the Corner Creepers, their rivals, watch out!

Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?


I borrowed a few details from places I’ve been. For example, the Corner Creepers’ bladeclubs are made from rounders bats, which are about half the length of baseball bats. Rounders is a sport similar to baseball that is played in Kenya, where I grew up. And the character Boris has a bad habit of chewing betel nut, a mild narcotic that is common in Taiwan, where I live now. (It’s legal in Taiwan, but not in Tarnestra!)

What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?

Is it better to live as a slave or to be homeless, unemployed, and starving? Is it okay to participate in activities you know are illegal or unethical in order to bring about good for someone else? What do you do when you are forced to make the choice between being there for two separate sets of people who both need you in their lives? Can someone be justified in making a promise they know they will break to a person who trusts them if that’s the only way to help someone else? Is it a good thing to have ended slavery when the results are mass unemployment, a huge rise in homelessness, and the economy taking a “deep sea dive”? These are all issues characters have to wrestle with in The Student and the Slave

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your books? 

The Student and the Slave is available on Amazon here in both Kindle and paperback formats. Its regular price will be $2.99, but I’ve discounted it to 99 cents for the month of November!

Here are the links to my other books:

The Collar and the Cavvarach

The Gladiator and the Guard

Annals of Alasia fantasy series

Hide it In Your Heart (Bible verse coloring/activity book)

Student poetry anthologies

Where can readers connect with you online?

Email: [email protected]








Sign up for my author emailing list and receive a free copy of one of my fantasy books: http://bit.ly/LimaUpdates

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Tarnestra.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to another world in next week’s edition of Realm Explorers!
-Annie Douglass Lima

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Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don’t forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 

Author’s name: Annie Douglass Lima

Title of book: The Collar and the Cavvarach
 
Brief summary of the story:
 
Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time.  With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?
 
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
 
The story takes place in a world almost exactly like our own.  Although most aspects of the culture are just about what they are currently on Earth, a few sports are different, such as the martial art known as cavvara shil (more about that later).  The main difference, however, is that slavery is legal there. 
 
Jarreon, where this story is set, is the second-largest city on the continent of Imperia.  It’s located on the coast and has a warm climate most of the year, though winter nights are cool enough that you would want at least a light jacket.
 
What is the political or government structure there? 
 
The Krillonian Empire rules much of the world.  An emperor (Geoffrey Kolvar Vandion, though his name isn’t actually mentioned in this book) governs from the capital city, Krillonia, on the continent known as Imperia.  Eight separate provinces (independent nations before they were conquered) can be found on nearby continents.  Each province, plus Imperia, is allowed to elect its own legislature and decide on many of its own laws, but the emperor reserves the right to veto any of them and make changes as he sees fit.  This seldom happens, however, and to most people the emperor is merely a vague and distant ceremonial figure.
 
If we were to visit Jarreon as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
 
The city of Jarreon is famous throughout the empire for its martial arts, especially cavvara shil.  If you enjoy sports, you will definitely want to attend one of the many local tournaments.  I recommend the Grand Imperial Cavvara Shil tourney held in Jarreon every spring.  The contest is held on four consecutive weekends at one of the city’s large arenas.  Contestants of all ages, both male and female, battle it out for fame, trophies, and large cash prizes.  Reserve your seat early, though, as tickets usually sell out months in advance.  If you can’t get a ticket, you’ll be able to watch the matches on television on any of Imperia’s sports channels.
 
What dangers should we avoid in Jarreon?
 
On the whole, Jarreon is a pretty safe city, thanks in part to the City Watch officers who patrol its streets.  (One of them, Officer Kalgan Shigo, plays an important role in the story.)  I would recommend not walking around alone at night, however, especially in the bad parts of town.
 
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Jarreon?
 
Not really.  Most foods you might find on Earth are readily available there, including fast food such as pizza and hamburgers.  One item often eaten by manual laborers is boxed meals that include rice or noodles with vegetables and meat (how much meat depends on how much you want to pay).  Many side-of-the-road eateries specialize in variations of the boxed lunch, which owners will often order for their enslaved workers.
 
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Jarreon?
 
Firearms very similar to ones we have on Earth are readily available throughout the Krillonian Empire.  Watch officers carry them, and they’re legal for citizens to own.  However, it is against the law for slaves to use or even touch a firearm.
 
A number of martial arts are popular in Jarreon.  One kind is called kickfighting, which is similar to our kickboxing.  Another is cavvara dueling, in which fighters strike at each other with a sword-like weapon called a cavvarach.  The cavvarach has a hook about halfway along the top edge of the blade, and you win a duel by disarming your opponent: hooking or knocking the cavvarach out of his or her hand.  Contestants wear poncho-like padding that protects their torso and groin.
 
Cavvara shil is the most widely respected martial art in the Krillonian Empire.  It is difficult to master, since it is a combination of kickfighting and cavvara dueling, with a little wrestling thrown in.  You can win a duel either by disarming your opponent or by pinning his or her shoulders to the mat for five seconds.  In addition to the protective padding, you wear a narrow shield-like guard on one forearm, with which you can block an opponent’s blows or kicks.  Bensin, the main character, is particularly skilled at cavvara shil.  He and his owner/coach, Steene, each have their own reasons for hoping he will qualify for and eventually win the Grand Imperial Cavvara Shil Tourney.  (Click here to read a tournament scene from the book.)
 
Cavvarachs used by most martial artists are unsharpened and not very dangerous, though minor injuries can and do occur.  Only professional gladiators, who live and compete in Jarreon’s four major arenas, use sharpened weapons and fight without the protective padding.  While not usually intended to be to the death, these duels can nevertheless end in serious injury, and all gladiators do die on the job eventually.  (Barely mentioned in The Collar and the Cavvarach, gladiators and the whole arena system play an important role in book II: The Gladiator and the Guard.)
 
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to the Krillonian Empire?
 
Transportation works the same way there that it does on Earth.  Steene, Bensin’s owner, drives an old blue pickup truck.  When not riding with him, Bensin takes the bus to and from the different places where he works.
 
What types of sentient races might we encounter in the Krillonian Empire that we don’t see on Earth?
 
Humans are the only sentient race in this world.  There are different races of humans, closely coinciding with races found on Earth, though their cultures don’t necessarily match. Bensin, a Tarnestran, has “light skin, short blond hair, and green eyes” (though hair and eye color can vary). Nelirians, like Bensin’s friend Ricky, have “narrowed eyes and high cheekbones”.  Skeyvians, like Officer Shigo, have “dark skin, kinky black hair”, and in his case, “the stereotypical deep voice”.  Imperians such as Steene are described with “medium brown skin and straight black hair”.
 
I should add that race is really not much of an issue to most people in Jarreon.  As you might expect in the largest port city on the continent, it is a cultural melting pot, and people from all over the empire can be found there.  One character does recall someone making racist remarks to him, but most don’t see others any differently based on their skin color or appearance. 
 
Slavery is not based on race, either.  People from any race can be enslaved as punishment for certain crimes.  For example, Ricky and his family were sold into slavery after his dad, who worked as an accountant for a government agency, was caught embezzling money.  It’s true that more Tarnestrans are slaves than anyone else, but that’s because the nation of Tarnestra refused to submit peacefully to imperial annexation.  After the Krillonian Empire eventually conquered it, tens of thousands of Tarnestrans were ripped from their homes and sold into slavery as a warning to anyone else who might be tempted to resist imperial progress.
 
Is there any advanced or unusual technology in the Krillonian Empire?  If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.
 
Technology is nearly the same there as on Earth, but some of it is used in different ways.  For example, all slaves wear a metal collar that locks around their neck and identifies them as a slave.  For an extra fee, a slave’s owner can purchase an upgraded version that comes with GPS, making it easy to track the slave if he or she attempts to escape.
 
Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in the Krillonian Empire as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
 
The days and months are exactly the same, though the years are based on the time since the empire was founded.  The story starts on January 1st of the year 154. 
 
The biggest holiday in Imperia is New Year.  People celebrate by buying each other gifts and enjoying a feast with family or friends.  As on Earth, it’s common to stay up till midnight on New Year’s Eve.  Schools close for two weeks, and families often use the time to go on vacations.  In the first few days of the new year, those who can afford it usually buy new clothes.
 
Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit Jarreon?
 
The prevalence of slavery is probably what would stand out the most to visitors from Earth.  There are nearly as many slaves in Jarreon as free people, and they are easily identified by their steel collars.  From each collar hangs a tag inscribed with the slave’s name, their owner’s name, and a tiny copy of their owner’s signature.  On the back of the tag is their owner’s phone number and a bar code that can be scanned to access additional information.
 
Owners may choose to send slave children to up to five years of public slave school, which meets only in the mornings and involves reading, writing, and arithmetic.  This is considered all that most slaves need to know for their daily tasks, though some owners pay extra for them to receive additional education or specific vocational training.
 
Many families own one or more slaves who do their housework and yardwork.  Businesses often own a large number of slaves, usually for manual labor, though some are trained for more complex tasks.  “Green slaves,” or those who were born free and enslaved later in life for one reason or another, are in high demand.  Often they have college degrees and the white-collar work experience so hard to find in the enslaved population.
 
People or businesses who don’t own their own slaves may “hire in” a slave belonging to someone else.  The accepted rate for an hourly wage is two-thirds the amount that a free person would earn for equivalent labor (the money goes to the slave’s owner, of course).
 
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
 
I’ve based a few details of Jarreon’s culture on the culture in Taiwan, where I live.  The convenient boxed meals and the importance of New Year, for example.  In addition, people receive award money in red envelopes.  As in Taiwan, some in Jarreon’s lower class chew betel nut, a legal drug sold in shops decorated with flashing colored lights.
 
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
 
Slavery is definitely the big one.  I wanted to explore the idea of what our world would be like if slavery were legalized in the modern day.  It sounds so impossibly wrong that it’s easy to think we could never let it happen in this day and age, but how many other wrongs do we overlook because it isn’t convenient to do anything about them?  It’s my hope that this work of fiction will make readers take a second look at some of the practices we accept or choose to turn a blind eye to in our own culture.
 
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase The Collar and the Cavvarach
 
 
My other books, including two more novels in the Krillonian Chronicles trilogy and one spin-off novella, can be found here.
 
Where can readers connect with you online? 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I hope you all enjoyed the trip to the Krillonian Empire.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to the world of Yargon in Realm Explorers Part XLVII!
-Annie Douglass Lima

Just one more week until The Collar and the Cavvarach is available!  (Of course, you can preorder it right now by clicking here.)  In the meantime, want a sneak preview?  Scroll down to read a scene from the book.  But first, a quick description of the story.



Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time.  With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

Click here for an explanation of what a cavvarach is and what the collar is for.



In this scene, fourteen-year-old Bensin is preparing to compete in a martial arts tournament.  His coach, Steene Mayvins, is eager to see how his new student will do.  Steene’s former prize pupil, Jayce, is competing too.
It was about a quarter to seven that evening when Steene and Bensin pulled into the parking lot of the large park. A cool breeze hit them as they got out of the truck, and they both paused to pull on the light jackets they had brought.
Lively music played from speakers all around, and brilliant temporary lighting illuminated milling crowds in what was almost a carnival atmosphere. Steene sniffed appreciatively; aromas wafted toward them from half a dozen food stalls featuring various local restaurants that offered dinner to the hungry throng.
“Entrance is ten imps per person,” announced an attendant at the gate as they approached.
Steene handed over a ten-imp bill. “Bensin here is a contestant.”
He showed the woman the registration slip, and she compared the name printed on it to the one on the boy’s collar. “All right, your slave gets in free. Good luck!”
Long rows of tables on either side of the entrance sold Springstyle sports equipment of every variety, while other vendors, who had paid well for the opportunity, hawked their wares from around the edges of the park.
In the middle, of course, were the fighting rings. There were six of them: two each for the under fourteen, under sixteen, and under eighteen fighters. Netting hung from poles around each ring to protect onlookers from the occasional flying cavvarach.
Steene checked a nearby sign. “The under sixteen boys’ ring is over on the right there. Come on.” He led the way as Bensin followed him through the crowd on bare feet, carrying the duffel bag with the protective padding, cavvarach, and shil that Steene was letting him borrow for the event.
“Hi, Coach Steene!” A couple of the girls in one of Steene’s intermediate classes waved to him from amongst the crowd.
He waved back. “Good luck this evening! You’ll do great!” He would try to go watch some of their matches if he had a chance, but Bensin was his first priority today.
A cheer went up from somewhere to their left, followed by thunderous applause. The music cut out while an announcer’s voice called over the loudspeaker: “Ladies and gentlemen, let’s hear it for April Levang, our under eighteen girls’ cavvara dueling champion!” There was another cheer, and scattered applause rippled through the park.
They made their way to Bensin’s ring, empty of contestants at the moment, and Steene found the list of pairings for the first round. “So who am I fighting, sir?” the boy wondered from beside him.
I don’t believe this.“You’re going first, and it looks like you’re up against Jayce Torro.” Usually athletes from the same school or training organization weren’t matched against each other in public competitions, at least not unless they both made it to the finals and there was no one else to fight. But Steene had signed Bensin up as his private pupil. He hadn’t mentioned the CSF on the form since the boy wasn’t a paying student there anymore, and so the organizers had had no way of knowing.
“I’m against Jayce, sir? Your former prize student?” Worry crossed Bensin’s face. “I pictured maybe facing him in the final round.”
“Well, now you can beat him at the beginning and get it over with,” Steene replied, trying to sound confident. He wasn’t actually sure which of the two boys was the better athlete, but he wasn’t about to say so now. “Come on, let’s go get you warmed up.” He led Bensin toward the competitors’ tent as another, smaller round of applause went up from the crowd at the other end of the park.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” bellowed a different announcer, “I give you Brock, winner of the boys’ under fourteen cavvara dueling competition!” There were fewer cheers this time. With only one name, Brock was obviously a slave, and people seldom got as excited when a slave won. Not that slaves didn’t have friends who would have been glad to cheer for them, but slaves’ friends were almost always other slaves, and they didn’t usually have the money for the entry fee required at most tournaments.
“And that concludes the cavvara dueling portion of our evening,” the voice went on. “We’ll take a few minutes’ break, and at seven o’clock we’ll start the first rounds of cavvara shil. Check the rings or ask at the information counter for the lists of competitors, and be sure to pick your favorites. Bets can be placed at our betting booth across from the front entrance.”
The competitors’ tent, which was really just a peaked roof on poles, was full of athletes warming up and coaches giving last-minute pep talks. Steene guided Bensin to an empty corner and pulled out the jump rope he had stashed in the duffel bag. “Here. Warm up.” It might look funny, but he had found that jumping rope was the best way to warm up in a small space.
As Bensin began jumping, Steene pulled out the padding and shil that he had worn at so many tournaments in his own teenage fighting days. At the other end of the tent, he could see Jayce’s parents hovering anxiously while their son pulled off his socks and shoes and prepped his custom-designed gear under Markus’ watchful eye.
Steene wove his way over to them, noting the way the boy’s mom and dad sidled away as he approached. They don’t want to have to talk to me about why they pulled their son out of my class.
“Hi, Jayce.”
His former student, who hadn’t seen him coming, started almost guiltily at the sound of Steene’s voice. “Oh, hi, Coach.”
“Ready for your first competition under your new trainer?” He hoped the bitterness he couldn’t help feeling wasn’t too obvious.
“Um, yeah. Listen, nothing personal about switching or anything. It was just, you know ….” His voice trailed away.
“No worries, Jayce. I’m sure you’ll do great with Mr. Brinks.”
Markus smiled toothily at him as he handed Jayce his padding. “Oh, he will. He will.”
“I hear I’m up against a new pupil of yours,” the boy added as he pulled the padding over his head. “Some collar named Bensin.”
“You shouldn’t call him that.” Steene frowned. “Slave or not, he’s a person, and a good fighter too. He’ll give you a run for your money.”
“Well, I’m ready for it!” Jayce grinned and flexed his muscles.
He is ready for it.Steene turned and walked back toward Bensin. Was his new student as good as his old one? He would find out soon, and he had an uncomfortable feeling about this.
Next time I’ll check with Mr. Drogum about mentioning the CSF on the form, Steene decided. Bensin does train there, after all. He should have done that this time.
But he wouldn’t let Bensin see how he felt about this match. “Better start stretching,” he ordered. “They’re going to be calling the two of you out there in a minute.”
“Yes, sir.” The boy coiled the jump rope up. “Was that Jayce you were talking to over there, sir?”
“Yeah.” Steene took the rope, noticing for the first time the holes in the knees of his student’s pants and how threadbare his shirt was. It was quite a contrast to Jayce’s name brand sports clothes and expensive shoes. “Listen,” he began as Bensin pulled one foot up behind himself in a standing quad stretch. “He’s good, but not as good as he likes everyone to think, so don’t let him intimidate you. He’s overconfident. You can beat him if you stay focused.”
“Yes, sir.”
“If you can get him to underestimate you, you’ve got an even better chance. Focus mainly on defense at the beginning while you get a feel for his fighting style. Then attack when he thinks he’s got you intimidated. Try to pin him or disarm him suddenly, before he can come back from his surprise.”
 “Yes, sir. Got it.” They said nothing else as the boy finished stretching. Steene wasn’t sure if Bensin really believed he could do it or not.
Finally Bensin stood up, peeled off his jacket, and donned the padding. The loudspeaker crackled to life as he strapped on Steene’s shil. “And now, ladies and gentlemen,” came the announcer’s voice, “we begin the event you’ve all been waiting for. Will the first contestants for the cavvara shil competition in each age group please step into their rings.”
Steene handed the cavvarach to Bensin and led him out of the tent, through the crowd, and over to the ring formed by the circle of netting. Jayce was already stepping into it from the other side.
A different announcer, the one in charge of just this ring, spoke into his microphone from a few yards away. “For the first round in boys’ under sixteen cavvara shil,” he declared, reading from his sheet, “we have Jayce Torro versus Bensin.”
Excited applause rose from the gathering crowd. “You all set?” Steene asked. Out of habit, he double-checked the straps on his student’s padding and shil, even though he knew Bensin knew just how tight to fasten them. “All right. Get in there and make me proud.”
Bensin nodded under the lights. “I’ll try, sir.”
Steene lifted the edge of the netting, and his student ducked under it and into the ring. A whistle blew and the duel began.

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I’m excited to announce that my young adult action and adventure novel, The Collar and the Cavvarach, is scheduled to be released next month!  Here is the cover, created by the talented Jack Lin:

About the Story:

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time.  With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?


What is the Collar for, and What is a Cavvarach?

The story is set in a world very much like our own, with just a few major differences.  One is that slavery is legal there.  Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone.  Any slave attempting to escape faces the dilemma of how and where to illegally get their collar removed (a crime punishable by enslavement for the remover).  

Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil.  It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with “have a rack”), an unsharpened weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge.  Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades.  You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

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