Spooktacular Annual Giveaway Hop 2013


Spooktacular Annual Blog Hop 2013

This is the Spooktacular Annual Blog Hop, hosted by   ‘I Am A Reader, Not A Writer’,  with almost 400 Bloggers participating.  Click on the link or the image above to find all the other Blogs and the masses of  other giveaways.

So… welcome Spooktacular hoppers et al.  Thank you all for dropping by.  I thought I would keep it simple, and  I know you all have a lot more Blogs to whizz over to. So here goes…

I AM GIVING AWAY one  $10 Amazon Gift Card and three Paperback copies of  Mungai and the Goa Constrictor .  The winners will be announced by November 3rd.  All you have to do is ‘LIKE’ my Facebook page or ‘Follow’ my blog.  Whichever you prefer; or both if you wish. I much prefer being followed by people who have a genuine interest in my blog, so there is no pressure to follow if it is not for you. (Oh! and please let me know in the comments below)

New cover size 24.09.13

‘Beware of predators in the guise of friends’

Mungai, a jungle creature of indeterminate origin, happily ambles through life dreaming up scandalous get-rich-quick schemes. On his travels he meets Goa, an equally ruthless and selfish Boa Constrictor. Having explained to her  “the usefulness of the lesser species”,  and his latest highly profitable master plan, Mungai tempts Goa into joining him in his search for as many unsuspecting creatures as they can muster.  Successful in this quest, they set about stripping the rainforest of its valuable assets.

Told through the eyes of animals, the reader is taken on a compelling journey through the jungle; together with a wealth of colourful and enjoyable characters, conspiracies and the unlikely friendships forged between the various species of the animal kingdom.

A timeless tale for children and adults alike

An excerpt from Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

They journeyed on, getting deeper and deeper into the jungle, and then changed tack and veered towards the edge, but not in the direction of the two-legs. They were, in fact, quite far away from them when they eventually managed to track down the mysterious monkey.

They caught a fleeting glimpse of him, just as he caught a glimpse of Hogbog, and watched in awe as he disappeared with unparalleled speed into the branches above.

“Wow!” said Bodger. “Did you see that?” he asked anyone who was listening. “No wonder he’s never been captured.”

“Hogbog,” called Caw-Caw. “You’re on again.”

Hogbog scurried round in circles near the spot where they had last seen him, and within minutes was on the trail again.  He forged ahead, sniffing and snuffling after his quarry, refusing to be beaten (after all, he did have a reputation to uphold) until finally, there above him, high in the canopy, sat the Oracle.

Good luck with the Giveaway 

Ta dah! – And the winners are…


Off to Oz giveaway

Sorry to be so late with this announcement.

I am pleased to announce the following winners of the three paperback copies of Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

A. Scribbles

Tammy Hudson

Michelle Willms

I shall contact you all by email to see where you would like your copies to be sent.   🙂

Thanks to everyone who participated.  It was great fun.  See you all at the next hop.

Book Tour and Spotlight: Sir Stan the Bogeyman by Stacie Morrell


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Welcome to the Spotlight of Sir Stan the Bogeyman.  I am rather partial to rhyming books, and this one is particularly good.   The rhyming is excellent and the story just right for children  –  not too scary,  but carrying just the right amount of intrigue to keep them sitting to attention.  
Plus,  there is a bonus  –  Enter the rafflecopter and you could win a signed paperback copy of Sir Stan the Bogeyman.
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Sir Stan the BogeymanBook Description:

Do dark places bother you?

The space under your bed…

The closet, door slightly ajar…

Do you believe in the Bogeyman?

Who is he?

Where did he come from?

What does he want?

Maybe he has a story to tell,

And we should listen.

 
Page excerpt from Sir Stan the Bogeymen by Stacie Morrell

Author Stacie Morrell

About Stacie:

Accomplishments: Started a used bookstore for the Friends of the Wilsonville Library, subject of Oregonian article, published in: Antiques and Collectibles Magazine, Bookman’s AB Magazine, Antique Trader, Writer’s Digest (writing clinic), Book Magazine. Started the E-Commerce collectibles department for Goodwill of the Columbia Willamette. Currently pursuing an Associates of Applied Science in Business and Management at Portland Community College, holding a 3.98 GPA, member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society, on Dean’s and President’s List.

Interests: Reading (pretty much anything even the cereal box if nothing else is available), writing (all genres), family (wife and mother), growing in and spreading my faith, learning (information geek), travel (but I rarely ever get to), volunteering, bargain hunting at garage sales, thrift stores, flea markets, etc.

In one sentence, who am I? Stacie Morrell is an eccentrically entertaining neurotic bibliophile who sells collectibles, tries to have patience with her precocious daughter, fearlessly tries to do everything, and writes because she is driven to as part of her genetic composition.

If I could go back and do one thing over: I would have figured out what I wanted from life way before now and gone back to school to get it (much, much sooner than I did).

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Off to Oz – Giveaway Hop


Off to Oz September 10th - 17th 2013 LOGO

Welcome to all blog hoppers and other visitors
This week I am thrilled to be part of another fabulous event hosted by I Am a Reader Not a Writer and Angela’s Anxious Life

To celebrate this happening,  I am giving away three paperback copies of Mungai and the Goa Constrictor.
To enter;  all you need to do is follow this blog (right sidebar) or LIKE Mungai’s page on Facebook (left sidebar) – as simple as that  🙂

There are over 80 wonderful blogs participating and masses of prizes to be won.
Click here to view the list and follow the fun 

New Book Cover December 2012

About Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

Mungai,  a jungle creature of indeterminate origin,  happily ambles through life dreaming up scandalous get-rich-quick schemes.   On his travels he meets Goa,  an equally ruthless and selfish Boa Constrictor.   Having explained to her “the usefulness of the lesser species”,  and his latest highly profitable master plan,  Mungai tempts Goa into joining him in his search for as many unsuspecting creatures as they can muster.

Very soon they meet and befriend some innocent animals of the woodland,  including Bodger,  an amiable and easily led badger.   With much flattery and tale spinning,  Mungai cajoles Bodger and his friends into joining forces with him and Goa in his latest ill-founded chicanery.

The gullible little creatures take it all in.   But,  will they come to their senses before their beloved environment is destroyed entirely?

“Great, great, great book!  Excellent lesson,  and almost a vicious-circle type ending,  which I find to be uncommon in most books”  (The Halulkos)

“This was a clever,  enjoyable,  different,  well-crafted story and one I’d love to see as an animated movie. Both the book (and the movie!) would appeal to older children and adults alike” (Beeshon)

“This ought to be a staple in family homes,  schools and libraries across the globe”  (Paul)

“Filled with endearing characters and plenty of action and adventure,  Mungai and the Goa Constrictor would make a perfect addition to any home library” (Bette Stevens)

Click on the menu in the left sidebar to read more review snippets, full reviews and chapter snippets.

Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop: WINNERS


Freedom to Read

Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop July 2nd to July 9th 2013

Now that this great giveaway is over, it’s time to announce the winners of the 3 paperback copies of Mungai and the Goa Constrictor. Thanks to all who visited and a special thank you to those of you who left a comment.  It was greatly appreciated.

I have tried to be fair and in the end I put all names on separate bits of paper and threw them into a bowl. One of my children drew out three names.

And the winners are: Ta Dah…. Vanessa Hancock – Bette A Stevens – Dorothy Teel – Congratulations to all of you 🙂 🙂

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Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop


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Freedom to Read Welcome to yet another fantastic Giveaway Hop co-hosted by Bookhounds and I Am A Reader, Not A Writer

To celebrate this spectacular event I am giving away three Paperback copies of Mungai and the Goa Constrictor (US only).

To enter to WIN one of these copies, all you have to do is FOLLOW this Blog (right hand sidebar) and LIKE Mungai and the Goa Constrictor on Facebook, and leave your details in the comments section.

There are oodles of fabulous prizes to be won everywhere, so why not join the hop and visit the other sites.   Over 150 blogs are participating, which is pretty phenomenal, so click here on the LINKY and have some fun.

Lots and lots of luck to everyone.

About MUNGAI AND THE GOA CONSTRICTOR

Mungai and the Goa Constrictor by Amelia E Curzon - Book Cover

Mungai, a jungle creature of indeterminate origin, happily ambles through life dreaming up scandalous get-rich-quick schemes. On his travels he meets Goa, an equally ruthless and selfish Boa Constrictor. Having explained to her “the usefulness of the lesser species”, and his latest highly profitable master plan, Mungai tempts Goa into joining him in his search for as many unsuspecting creatures as they can muster.
Very soon they meet and befriend some innocent animals of the woodland, including Bodger, an amiable and easily led badger. With much flattery and tale spinning, Mungai manages to coax Bodger and his friends into joining forces with him and Goa in his latest ill-founded chicanery. So convinced are the little animals by Mungai’s anecdotes of wealth and happiness, the gullible companions persuade multitudes of other species from the woodland, jungle and rainforest to come along as well.
But, things are not quite what they seem, and before long, through the force of sheer greed, the future of their beloved environment is in the balance.
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“Amelia Curzon has created a beautiful fable in “Mungai and the Goa Constrictor” that warns of the effects of destruction of the forest in a fashion that is innocent, entertaining and compelling” – Scarlett Raines

“A witty and fascinating story filled with a splendid collection of characters” – Jason Sullivan

Mungai and the Goa Constrictor by Amelia E Curzon - Book Cover

MUNGAI’S LATEST REVIEW

  Educational and entertaining
By diebus – See all my reviews

Mungai and the Goa Constrictor” by Amelia E. Curzon is as lovely a story as it is serious. Written for children and adults alike it should provide a good base for adult – child discussions on the ethics of animal welfare and nature preservation.
With a hint of Animal Farm and The Jungle Book this is a wonderful moral tale about two animals, one a boa constrictor, the other unspecified, and their ploy to use other animals and nature reserves to have an easy and wealthy life. Told from an animal perspective,
there are beautiful scenes where animals use their natural abilities to create a mill and constructions and only gradually does it dawn on them what they do to their own habitat and environment.
The characters in the story are well-developed and make the story richer than just a moral tale, which I found quite a relief after reading the blurb. This is unique and intelligently written, exposing the idea behind the manipulating two, the naivety of the animals and the book distinguishes between the good and the bad ‘two-legs’.
Pleasantly sophisticated it may be too much for the very young readers, but could well be transcribed into a picture book with the right illustrator. It is a story and a book worth exploring.

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Spotlight: Jack Templar and the Monster Hunter Academy – Blog Tour


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Jack Templar and the Monster Hunter Academy (Book 2)

After barely surviving the onslaught of monsters that tried to kill him the day before his fourteenth birthday, Jack Templar leaves his hometown on a quest to rescue his father and discover the truth about his past. Joined by his friends Will and T-Rex, and led by Eva, the mysterious one-handed monster hunter, Jack sets out for the Monster Hunter Academy where he hopes to find answers to his questions. Little does he suspect that the Academy is filled with dangers of its own, many of them more terrifying than anything he’s faced so far.

Amazon
 
 
 
Jack Templar: Monster Hunter

Orphan Jack Templar has no memory of his parents and only the smallest details from his Aunt Sophie about how they died. The day before Jack’s fourteenth birthday, things start to change for him. At first it’s great: A sudden new strength helps him defend his nose-picking friend “T-Rex” from the school bully, and even his crush, Cindy Adams, takes notice. But then a mysterious girl named Eva arrives and tells him two facts that will change his life forever. First, that he’s the descendent of a long line of monster hunters and he’s destined to be in the family business. Second, that there’s a truce between man and monster that children are off-limits…until their fourteenth birthday! Jack has only one day before hundreds of monsters will descend on his little town of Sunnyvale and try to kill him.

As if that weren’t enough, things get even more complicated when Jack discovers that the Lord of the Creach (as the monsters are collectively known) holds a personal grudge against him and will do anything to see that Jack has a slow and painful death. To stay alive and save his friends, Jack will have to battle werewolves, vampires, harpies, trolls, zombies and more. But perhaps the most dangerous thing he must face is the truth about his past. Why do the other hunters call him the last Templar? Why do they whisper that he may be the “One?” Why do the monsters want him dead so badly? Even as these questions plague him, he quickly discovers survival is his new full-time job and that in the world of monster hunters, nothing is really what it seems.

Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Awards for Jack Templar Monster Hunter

Book of the Year Finalist by Forward Magazine

Next Generation Indie Book Finalist

gunhus award

Indie Excellence Finalist

gunhus award 2

Parents Choice Recommended Book Award

gunhus award 3

Author Jeff Gunhus

Jeff Gunhus grew up in Cyprus, Greece, and Saudi Arabia where there was a distinct lack of television. He quickly found books were the gateway to incredible adventures, fascinating characters and unbelievable discoveries. Now, with five children of his own (all who watch too much television, in his opinion), he has enjoyed revisiting his old books and reliving those adventures all over again.

Website * Twitter * Facebook * Website

Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 7/8/13

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Book Tour: Untimed by Andy Gavin


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Untimed by Andy Gavin - Promotional Poster
 
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Genre: YA Time Travel Adventure/RomanceUntimed Book Cover

Publisher: Mascherato Publishing

Release Date: December 18, 2012

Amazon

Book Description:

Untimed is an action-packed time travel novel by Andy Gavin, author of The Darkening Dream and creator of Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter.

Charlie’s the kind of boy that no one notices. Hell, his own mother can’t remember his name. So when a mysterious clockwork man tries to kill him in modern day Philadelphia, and they tumble through a hole into 1725 London, Charlie realizes even the laws of time don’t take him seriously. Still, this isn’t all bad. Who needs school when you can learn about history first hand, like from Ben Franklin himself. And there’s this girl… Yvaine… another time traveler. All good. Except for the rules: boys only travel into the past and girls only into the future. And the baggage: Yvaine’s got a baby boy and more than her share of ex-boyfriends. Still, even if they screw up history — like accidentally let the founding father be killed — they can just time travel and fix it, right? But the future they return to is nothing like Charlie remembers. To set things right, he and his scrappy new girlfriend will have to race across the centuries, battling murderous machines from the future, jealous lovers, reluctant parents, and time itself.

Excerpt: Chapter One “Untamed”

UNTIMEDby Andy Gavin

Illustrations by Dave Phillips

Advance Review First Chapter
Cover Art Not Final
Formatting Not Final
Illustration Formatting Not Final

© 2011-2012, Andy Gavin. All rights reserved.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

MASCHERATO PUBLISHING
PO Box 1550
Pacific Palisades, Ca, 90272
publishing@mascherato.com
http://andy-gavin-author.com

Copyright © Andy Gavin 2012
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

MS version: 3.20a
75,300 words, November 19, 2012, 1:19:29 PM PST

Cover Photo-Illustration copyright © Cliff Nielsen 2012
Interior Illustrations copyright © Dave Phillips 2012

E-book ISBN 978-1-937945-05-3
Hardcover ISBN 978-1-937945-03-9
Trade Paperback ISBN 978-1-937945-04-6

Chapter One:
Ignored
Philadelphia, Autumn, 2010 and Winter, 2011

My mother loves me and all, it’s just that she can’t remember my name.
“Call him Charlie,” is written on yellow Post-its all over our house.
“Just a family joke,” Mom tells the rare friend who drops by and bothers to inquire.
But it isn’t funny. And those house guests are more likely to notice the neon paper squares than they are me.
“He’s getting so tall. What was his name again?”
I always remind them. Not that it helps.
Only Dad remembers, and Aunt Sophie, but they’re gone more often than not — months at a stretch.
This time, when my dad returns he brings a ginormous stack of history books.
“Read these.” The muted bulbs in the living room sharpen the shadows on his pale face, making him stand out like a cartoon in a live-action film. “You have to keep your facts straight.”
I peruse the titles: Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Asprey’s The Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, Ben Franklin’s Autobiography. Just three among many.
“Listen to him, Charlie,” Aunt Sophie says. “You’ll be glad you did.” She brushes out her shining tresses. Dad’s sister always has a glow about her.
“Where’d you go this time?” I say.
Dad’s supposed to be this hotshot political historian. He reads and writes a lot, but I’ve never seen his name in print.
“The Middle East.” Aunt Sophie’s more specific than usual.
Dad frowns. “We dropped in on someone important.”
When he says dropped in, I imagine Sophie dressed like Lara Croft, parachuting into Baghdad.
“Is that where you got the new scar?” A pink welt snakes from the bridge of her nose to the corner of her mouth. She looks older than I remember — they both do.
“An argument with a rival… researcher.” My aunt winds the old mantel clock, the one that belonged to her mom, my grandmother. Then tosses the key to my dad, who fumbles and drops it.
“You need to tell him soon,” she says.
Tell me what? I hate this.
Dad looks away. “We’ll come back for his birthday.”

* * *
While Dad and Sophie unpack, Mom helps me carry the dusty books to my room.
“Time isn’t right for either of you yet,” she says. Whatever that means.
I snag the thinnest volume and hop onto my bed to read. Not much else to do since I don’t have friends and school makes me feel even more the ghost.

* * *

Mrs. Pinkle, my ninth-grade homeroom teacher, pauses on my name during roll call. Like she does every morning.
“Charlie Horologe,” she says, squinting at the laminated chart, then at me, as if seeing both for the first time.
“Here.”
On the bright side, I always get B’s no matter what I write on the paper.
In Earth Science, the teacher describes a primitive battery built from a glass of salt water covered in tin foil. She calls it a Leyden jar. I already know about them from Ben Franklin’s autobiography — he used one to kill and cook a turkey, which I doubt would fly with the school board.
The teacher beats the topic to death, so I practice note-taking in the cipher Dad taught me over the weekend. He shows me all sorts of cool things — when he’s around. The system’s simple, just twenty-six made-up letters to replace the regular ones. Nobody else knows them. I write in highlighter and outline in red, which makes the page look like some punk wizard’s spell book. My science notes devolve into a story about how the blonde in the front row invites me to help her with her homework. At her house. In her bedroom. With her parents out of town.
Good thing it’s in cipher.
After school is practice, and that’s better. With my slight build and long legs, I’m good at track and field — not that the rest of the team notices. A more observant coach might call me a well-rounded athlete.
The pole vault is my favorite, and only one other kid can even do it right. Last month at the Pennsylvania state regionals, I cleared 16’ 4”, which for my age is like world class. Davy — that’s the other guy — managed just 14’ 8”.
And won. As if I never ran that track, planted the pole in the box, and threw myself over the bar. The judges were looking somewhere else? Or maybe their score sheets blew away in the wind.
I’m used to it.

* * *
Dad is nothing if not scheduled. He and Sophie visit twice a year, two weeks in October, and two weeks in January for my birthday. But after my aunt’s little aside, I don’t know if I can wait three months for the big reveal, whatever it is. So I catch them in his study.
“Dad, why don’t you just tell me?”
He looks up from his cheesesteak and the book he’s reading — small, with only a few shiny metallic pages. I haven’t seen it before, which is strange, since I comb through all his worldly possessions whenever he’s away.
“I’m old enough to handle it.” I sound brave, but even Mom never looks him in the eye. And he’s never home — it’s not like I have practice at this. My stomach twists. I might not like what he has to say.
“Man is not God.”
One of his favorite expressions, but what the hell is it supposed to mean?
“Fink.” For some reason Aunt Sophie always calls him that. “Show him the pages.”
He sighs and gathers up the weird metallic book.
“This is between the three of us. No need to stress your mother.”
What about stressing me? He stares at some imaginary point on the ceiling, like he always does when he lectures.
“Our family has—”
The front doorbell rings. His gaze snaps down, his mouth snaps shut. Out in the hall, I hear my mom answer, then men’s voices.
“Charlie,” Dad says, “go see who it is.”
“But—”
“Close the door behind you.”

* * *

I stomp down the hall. Mom is talking to the police. Two cops and a guy in a suit.
“Ma’am,” Uniform with Mustache says, “is your husband home?”
“May I help you?” she asks.
“We have a warrant.” He fumbles in his jacket and hands her an official-looking paper.
“This is for John Doe,” she tells him.
The cop turns to the man in the suit, deep blue, with a matching bowler hat like some guy on PBS. The dude even carries a cane — not the old-lady-with-a-limp type, more stroll-in-the-park. Blue Suit — a detective? — tilts forward to whisper in the cop’s ear. I can’t hear anything but I notice his outfit is crisp. Every seam stands out bright and clear. Everything else about him too.
“We need to speak to your husband,” the uniformed cop says.
I mentally kick myself for not ambushing Dad an hour earlier.
Eventually, the police tire of the runaround and shove past me as if I don’t exist. I tag along to watch them search the house. When they reach the study, Dad and Sophie are gone. The window’s closed and bolted from the inside.
All the other rooms are empty too, but this doesn’t stop them from slitting every sofa cushion and uncovering my box of secret DVDs.

* * *

Mom and I don’t talk about Dad’s hasty departure, but I do hear her call the police and ask about the warrant.
They have no idea who she’s talking about.
Yesterday, I thought Dad was about to deliver the Your mother and I have grown apart speech. Now I’m thinking more along the lines of secret agent or international kingpin.
But the months crawl by, business as usual, until my birthday comes and goes without any answers — or the promised visit from Dad. I try not to let on that it bothers me. He’s never missed my birthday, but then, the cops never came before, either.
Mom and I celebrate with cupcakes. Mine is jammed with sixteen candles, one extra for good luck.
I pry up the wrapping paper from the corner of her present.
“It’s customary to blow out the candles first,” Mom says.
“More a guideline than a rule,” I say. “Call it advanced reconnaissance.” That’s a phrase I picked up from Sophie.
Mom does a dorky eye roll, but I get the present open and find she did well by me, the latest iPhone — even if she skimped on the gigabytes. I use it to take two photos of her and then, holding it out, one of us together.
She smiles and pats my hand.
“This way, when you’re out on a date you can check in.”
I’m thinking more about surfing the web during class.
“Mom, girls never notice me.”
“How about Michelle next door? She’s cute.”
Mom’s right about the cute. We live in a duplex, an old house her family bought like a hundred years ago. Our tenants, the Montags, rent the other half, and we’ve celebrated every Fourth of July together as long as I can remember.
“Girls don’t pay attention to me.” Sometimes paraphrasing helps Mom understand.
“All teenage boys say that — your father certainly did.”
My throat tightens. “There’s a father-son track event this week.” A month ago, I went into orbit when I discovered it fell during Dad’s visit, but now it’s just a major bummer — and a pending embarrassment.
She kisses me on the forehead.
“He’ll be here if he can, honey. And if not, I’ll race. You don’t get your speed from his side of the family.”
True enough. She was a college tennis champ and he’s a flat-foot who likes foie gras. But still.

* * *

Our history class takes a field trip to Independence Park, where the teacher prattles on in front of the Liberty Bell. I’ve probably read more about it than she has.
Michelle is standing nearby with a girlfriend. The other day I tapped out a script on my phone — using our family cipher — complete with her possible responses to my asking her out. Maybe Mom’s right.
I slide over.
“Hey, Michelle, I’m really looking forward to next Fourth of July.”
“It’s January.” She has a lot of eyeliner on, which would look pretty sexy if she wasn’t glaring at me. “Do I know you from somewhere?”
That wasn’t in my script. I drift away. Being forgettable has advantages.
I tighten the laces on my trainers then flop a leg up on the fence to stretch. Soon as I’m loose enough, I sprint up the park toward the red brick hulk of Independence Hall. The teachers will notice the headcount is one short but of course they’ll have trouble figuring out who’s missing. And while a bunch of cops are lounging about — national historic landmark and all — even if one stops me, he won’t remember my name long enough to write up a ticket.
The sky gleams with that cloudless blue that sometimes graces Philly. The air is crisp and smells of wood smoke. I consider lapping the building.
Then I notice the man exiting the hall.
He glides out the white-painted door behind someone else and seesaws down the steps to the slate courtyard. He wears a deep blue suit and a matching bowler hat. His stride is rapid and he taps his walking stick against the pavement like clockwork.
The police detective.
I shift into a jog and follow him down the block toward the river. I don’t think he sees me, but he has this peculiar way of looking around, pivoting his head side to side as he goes.
It’s hard to explain what makes him different. His motions are stiff but he cuts through space without apparent effort. Despite the dull navy outfit, he looks sharper than the rest of the world, more in focus.
Like Dad and Sophie.
The man turns left at Chestnut and Third, and I follow him into Franklin Court.
He stops inside the skeleton of Ben Franklin’s missing house. Some idiots tore it down two hundred years ago, but for the bicentennial the city erected a steel ‘ghost house’ to replace it.
I tuck myself behind one of the big white girders and watch.
The man unbuttons his suit and winds himself.
Yes, that’s right. He winds himself. Like a clock. There’s no shirt under his jacket — just clockwork guts, spinning gears, and whirling cogs. There’s even a rocking pendulum. He takes a T-shaped key from his pocket, sticks it in his torso, and cranks.
Hardly police standard procedure.
Clueless tourists pass him without so much as a sideways glance. And I always assumed the going unnoticed thing was just me.
He stops winding and scans the courtyard, calibrating his head on first one point then another while his finger spins brass dials on his chest.
I watch, almost afraid to breathe.
CHIME. The man rings, a deep brassy sound — not unlike Grandmom’s old mantel clock.
I must have gasped, because he looks at me, his head ratcheting around 270 degrees until our eyes lock.
Glass eyes. Glass eyes set in a face of carved ivory. His mouth opens and the ivory mask that is his face parts along his jaw line to reveal more cogs.
CHIME. The sound reverberates through the empty bones of Franklin Court.
He takes his cane from under his arm and draws a blade from it as a stage-magician might a handkerchief.
CHIME. He raises the thin line of steel and glides in my direction.
CHIME. Heart beating like a rabbit’s, I scuttle across the cobblestones and fling myself over a low brick wall.
CHIME. His walking-stick-cum-sword strikes against the brick and throws sparks. He’s so close I hear his clockwork innards ticking, a tiny metallic tinkle.
CHIME. I roll away from the wall and spring to my feet. He bounds over in pursuit.
CHIME. I backpedal. I could run faster if I turned around, but a stab in the back isn’t high on my wishlist.
CHIME. He strides toward me, one hand on his hip, the other slices the air with his rapier. An older couple shuffles by and glances his way, but apparently they don’t see what I see.
CHIME. I stumble over a rock, snatch it up, and hurl it at him. Thanks to shot put practice, it strikes him full in the face, stopping him cold.
CHIME. He tilts his head from side to side. I see a thin crack in his ivory mask, but otherwise he seems unharmed.
CHIME. I dance to the side, eying the pavement, find another rock and grab it.
CHIME. We stand our ground, he with his sword and me with my stone.
“Your move, Timex!” I hope I sound braver than I feel.
CHIME. Beneath the clockwork man, a hole opens.
The manhole-sized circle in the cobblestones seethes and boils, spilling pale light up into the world. He stands above it, legs spread, toes on the pavement, heels dipping into nothingness.
The sun dims in the sky. Like an eclipse — still visible, just not as bright. My heart threatens to break through my ribs, but I inch closer.
The mechanical man brings his legs together and drops into the hole. The seething boiling hole.
I step forward and look down….
Into a whirlpool that could eat the Titanic for breakfast. But there’s no water, only a swirling tube made of a million pulverized galaxies. Not that my eyes can really latch onto anything inside, except for the man. His crisp dark form shrinks into faraway brightness.
Is this where Dad goes when he drops in on someone? Is the clockwork dude his rival researcher?
The sun brightens, and as it does, the hole starts to contract. Sharp edges of pavement eat into it, closing fast. I can’t let him get away. Somehow we’re all connected. Me, the mechanical man, Sophie, and Dad.
I take a step forward and let myself fall.

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Andy Gavin Headshot

About The Author:

Andy Gavin is an unstoppable storyteller who studied for his Ph.D. at M.I.T. and founded video game developer Naughty Dog, Inc. at the age of fifteen, serving as co-president for two decades. There he created, produced, and directed over a dozen video games, including the award winning and best selling Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter fD7B38Aranchises, selling over 40 million units worldwide. He sleeps little, reads novels and histories, watches media obsessively, travels, and of course, writes.

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Book Blast: The Trouble with Toads by Danyelle Leafty


 

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Once upon a time a young girl wanted revenge. But first, she wanted to be beautiful.

Twelve-year-old Bettony has read enough stories that begin with ‘Once upon a time’ to know what happens to the ugly stepsisters at the end, and she’s determined to escape that fate by any means necessary—even by magic.

Unfortunately, when it comes to magic, there is no place for regret, refunds, or exchanges. Even if you accidentally turn your older sister into a toad.

If Bettony wants her Happily Ever After to end well, she’s going to have to find a way to turn her sister back into a person before their mother finds out she’s been dabbling with magic and grounds her for life.

Tracking down the family magic turns out to be surprisingly easy. Now, if only it came with directions . . .

THE TROUBLE WITH TOADS (45,000 words) is the first book in a new upper MG series The Secret Stepsister Society. The second book will be released Summer 2013.

Amazon

danyelleAuthor Danyelle Leafty

Danyelle Leafty writes upper MG and YA fantasy, and is the author of THE FAIRY GODMOTHER DILEMMA series. Danyelle has always loved fairy tales, and prefers stories where someone gets eaten, or at the very least, transmogrified. Much of her inspiration has come from fairy tales, because as G.K. Chesterton so aptly states, “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

In her spare time, she collects dragons, talking frogs, and fairy godmothers. She also collects books, and one day hopes to make a house out of them. She enjoys learning languages, fiddling with her harp, and perfecting the fine art of mothering. (It’s a lot like trying to herd chickens during a lightning storm while a goat stampede is going on.)

One of her heroes is Albert Einstein, particularly for the following quote: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The most important thing is not to stop questioning.”

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Book Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 6/10/13

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. Prize value $50 US.

Children’s Book Week Giveaway Hop – WINNERS


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CHILDREN’S BOOK WEEK – MAY 13th to 19th 2013

And… the winners of the three paperback copies of Mungai and the Goa Constrictor are… Ta dah!

Bookaholicholly

Mayla M

Nicole Krutz

Congratulations to all of you 🙂

Please contact me at amelia(dot)curzon(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing addresses. I look forward to hearing from you.

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