Welcome! Indie Author Excerpts is a feature allowing indie authors the chance to showcase one of their books and allows readers to find their next favorite story. Each week, an indie author gets to promote a 1-2 page excerpt of their book here at BookShelfery. This is a win-win for everyone! This feature was inspired in part by Indie Author Spotlight, a meme hosted by Beckie @ Bittersweet Enchantment and CYP @ A Bookalicious Story. Are you an author that would like to be featured in Indie Author Excerpts? If so, check out this page and fill out the form. [indie-author-excerpt] From the moment Nick’s tiny legs could support the weight of his body, he was put to work. It might be hard to imagine a baby doing anything more than spittle and poop, but Fergus saw possibilities. When the ceiling fans slowed under layers of soot, Fergus hoisted Nick into the air on a pulley, and with his little rag, baby Nick scrubbed them clean. Nick’s itty-bitty fingers weren’t strong enough to hold a hammer, but they could fit inside nooks and crevices. They could pull out screws, wires or anything else someone might have dropped. He could crawl into vents. It started out as a lark but soon became the most profitable decision Fergus would ever make. It wasn’t simply that children were small enough to fit in tight spaces; they didn’t demand full wages. They could be molded, their spirits fragile and easily broken. And while adults wore down after nine or ten hours, a child’s boundless energy lasted up to fourteen, even sixteen hours a day. New York was caught in the fever of the Industrial Revolution, and no one flourished more than Fergus Crank. He turned the candle factory into a steel mill, and with those profits, he bought another factory, then another, and another. He was finally free to pursue profits the way he’d always dreamed. Unbridled, unfettered. The stockholders loved him for it. They lavished him with praise, called him a financial genius. And as long as the money kept pouring in, no one asked questions. Fergus ran his factories the same way he raised Nick, without sympathy and with no room for excuses. If children didn’t show up on time or failed to meet a quota, Fergus hung lead weights around their necks and forced them to walk around the entire building. The number of laps depended upon the offense. Ten minutes late incurred ten full trips, often in the snow. So, children learned to wake an hour earlier, to eat on their way to the mill. Daydreamers stayed focused. Talkers remained quiet. Everyone became what Fergus wanted them to be: docile little workers. And upon their backs Fergus was building an empire. Nick kept his head down and did whatever Fergus asked. He’d been told, “Your parents threw you out like garbage. If it weren’t for me, you’d be dead in the river.” While this was somewhat the case, Nick never learned the whole truth. Fergus had fired all of the original employees, so no one told Nick about the real Karl and Klara. He simply believed he’d been abandoned. Nick was ignorant of many things, mainly because he never stepped foot inside a school. Fergus taught him all he needed to know. Nick assumed his life was normal, especially as the factories filled up with more and more children, most of them orphans, just like Nick. They stoked coals at the cannery and fed looms at the cotton mill. Their fingers were calloused, their skin hairless from burns. Children were everywhere, but Nick struggled to make friends. The reason was simple: Fergus watched Nick like he was a cancerous mole, constantly checking on him, eyeing him with suspicion. No one wanted to live under that kind of scrutiny, so the other children stayed away despite Nick’s best efforts to win them over. He’d pocket a quarter of his lunch and give it to the skinniest. When a co-worker spoke of a sick mother or an out-of-work dad, Nick offered some of his wages. He told Betty, a freckled girl with a lazy eye, “Fergus lets me sleep for free in his basement, so I have plenty extra.” It took Betty three tries to capture the coins from his palm, on account of her wonky depth perception. She didn’t even say thanks, but that night Nick curled up on the floor with his dirty blanket and slept more peacefully than he had in his short life. Fergus was always lecturing Nick on the value of a penny, but it never took. It’s not that Nick hated money. He loved purchasing ginger ale by the pier and rock candy at Koontz’s Mart, but he always felt better giving it away. When the barrel factory flooded because Georgie and Charlotte had forgotten to shove mats under the side doors during a storm, Fergus emptied their pockets and smacked them upside their heads. Later, little Nick found himself staring at Georgie and Charlotte’s wet stockings, dripping from four rusty nails on the wall. He reached into his pockets, pulled out every cent, and shoved them into each stocking, well, three of them. He had to double Georgie’s into one stocking because the other had a hole.Disclaimer: All material and links in the Indie Author Excerpts feature have been provided voluntarily by the author, publicist or publisher. Any materials quoted before publication date may change with final copy. No affiliate links were used in this post.