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MAXWELL WASN'T surprised when the rubber ball smashed through the window and rolled to a stop near his feet. In fact, he hardly flinched as the shards of glass flew through the air, some of them nesting in his blond curly locks.

He'd known it was only a matter of time before the ball being bounced against the side of the house strayed just enough to hit the window.

Maxwell looked down at the signed copy of Andy Robinson's latest self-help bestseller: MAXIM POWER II: GETTING THROUGH DISTRACTIONS. Andy's proud, smiling face (with his unique trademark oversized cleft chin and dimples) on the cover brought the book's first words to his mind.

Distractions should be seen as evil.

Calmly, Maxwell picked up the ball and walked out of the study. The ball was made of Indian rubber, warm and hard with just a little give as he pressed his thumb into it. Tossing the ball into the air and catching it with the same hand, he headed down the hall on his way to the door.

The packed book shelf at the end of the hall caught his eye, as it often did. He paused to run the tips of his fingers across the spines of the books. His fingers stopped on a book with golden lettering down the spine reading: THE BRAZEN HERALD.

He pulled the book off the shelf, admiring the cover lettering, the artwork, the dark winged-dragon silhouette against a purple-red sky, and below that, a blue-black sea, and the lone figure standing in the foreground on the edge of the cliff, mostly in silhouette, the blue and yellow tunic showing, the glinting shine of the sword in hand. Turning the hardcover book in his hand, he admired the black and white photo on the back, how the smiling face captured there resembled him, yet was different. A fuller head of hair, the confident smile of an author still producing. Then he read the text. 'Maxwell Bronte lives with his wife Doris in Arizona and is hard at work on his next novel, furthering the chronicles of Sebastian Eldritch.' He smiled and fondly remembered those days. The novel had been praised and cheered - he had been the talk of the town, described as that up and coming fantasy writer from the Southwest, the way that King was the horror writer from New England. He'd been interviewed and featured in all the major Science Fiction & Fantasy journals.

That, of course, had been five years ago. He still hadn't finished the follow up novel about Sebastian Eldritch, the one he had been planning on calling HERALD IN PERIL. No, between that first blockbuster novel and now, he'd gone through two job changes, the loss of his father, a near divorce and a house fire. Getting back to working on his novel had not been a priority during those changes.

The world around you shouldn't decide your priorities for you. Only you can do that.

Until he discovered Andy Robinson, that was, and learned that all of it, all that change, turmoil and upset, was really nothing more than distractions that had been getting in the way of fulfilling his destiny.

He'd bumped into Andy at Roc*Kon, a science fiction convention in Little Rock just a few months ago. Maxwell was still touring the conventions, riding on his one past publishing success and hoping to revitalize his career by being around other successful authors. He'd ended up reminding himself of a certain television star from 20 years ago whose soul quest seemed to be to work non-stop at rallying fans to help bring back STARSHIP ACADEMY, despite the fact that most of the other main cast members from that series had either all but disappeared from acting or had died.

Minutes after making that realization and wondering if he would be doing this for another fifteen years, he'd gotten off the elevator at the wrong floor, where he'd stumbled into a business leaders' convention, and Andy Robinson, the convention's main speaker. Across from the elevators and just outside the lecture room, Andy was involved in an animated discussion with a few men in suits.

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