#SampleSunday June 12, 2011 Summer Reading Tribute

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I was out on my porch enjoying the summer weather, when it dawned on me. This is the time that my first book, The Lost Secret of Fairies, takes place. What a perfect time to put up the beginning of the story to get everyone into the summer reading mood.

Before the excerpt, I will share the inspiration for this part of the story. As a kid, I would love to hop the fence and read in quiet seclusion in the middle of the orchard behind my house. I grew up in the Silicon Valley before all the orchards were torn down and turned into computer companies.

Back then, it was more often called the Santa Clara Valley. I was lucky enough to grow up with an orchard that was the starting point of many kid adventures. Throw in a creek nearby, and you have a perfect run-around adventure playland.

My books include many of the childhood adventures come to life. At the start of the first book, Wanda is reading in the orchard behind the fence. Many summers started out in the same way for me as a kid. I invite you to enter into that world of adventure with an added bonus, fairies and cats. They seem to go well together.

Excerpt from The Lost Secret of Fairies pages 7-9:

So, you want to know how I became a Keeper? I’d probably have to explain the last few years. I guess I could begin at the beginning, but that would be too much like a fairy tale. This is anything but your average fairy tale. But then, the fairies always say “There is a beginning to every ending,” so maybe I should start there.

Let’s just say my name is Wanda, and no one understands me. That’s why I was out there in the middle of the orchard that first day I had free from gymnastics practice. It was the end of June, you know, that time you’re finally free from school. You know, when no one bosses you around.

I had escaped from my mom long enough to sneak over the back fence of my house and hide in the orchard. I was reading my favorite fantasy series at the time. Nothing much different than what I normally do.

I didn’t notice the air smelled extra fresh. I remember my hair tied back in a ponytail because of the heat, and wanting it to be a different color than my stupid, boring brown. I’d make a better outcast if I had some cool off the wall color hair, like jet black or cherry red. I’d studied the bottles carefully in the drug store.

I didn’t notice the sun doing strange reflections as I walked out to my favorite spot to read. I mashed down the grass into a perfect fairy bowery. The kind that is perfect to read in, hidden and secluded. I could see around the orchard at cat level. Nothing was crawling or walking around. There was just a slight breeze to disturb the tall grass growing around my hiding spot.

I remembered the last scene of my current book-de-jour. The princess was escaping from Landau, the dark sorcerer who was trying to take over her kingdom. Now, what would she do?
Would she use her secret power of flight? Or would she some how find the way to the locket she needed to free her frozen Mother Queen?

Yes, she’s going to have to fight him. I checked to see how many pages were left. Twelve. Good, I’m getting close to the climax.

I wiggled to get more comfortable in my grass hide-away. Glancing up, I blinked as the sun above me looked no different than before. A sharp bright flash came to the side of my vision. I shrugged, and figured it was a reflection of my glasses. Back then; I thought most things were just a flash, or something that I imagined. I know better now. But back to the story, or it just won’t make sense to you later.

I closed my eyes to listen to the breeze drifting across the grass. I was feeling pretty free right then. No more Jessica Newark to bother me. I hated her making fun of my fashion sense. Like I really cared about their group of popular trends and know-it-all about boys. What point was there? I liked being a loner. It was easier.

I was going to have to see them at gymnastics class. Thing with being in the same area of school and community center, sometimes the two overlapped. But for now, I could ignore them as long as I stood on the other side of the gym. Too bad Michelle moved. Emailing isn’t the same as being there. Good friends are hard to find when you’re fighting to save the world. But that comes later in the story.

Like I said, I was enjoying the summer weather, in my favorite reading spot, alone, how I liked it. I heard a little swoosh of something approaching. I thought it was my cat Brewford coming out to visit me, so I looked up.

“Caw!”

I was startled by the bird squawk. Shaking my head, I tried to find the source and saw nothing. Oh well, time to get back to where the princess was just about to make her move out of her hiding place to reach for the magic locket and….

“Caw.”

Not again! I looked around for the source of the awkward noise. Nothing. I shrugged, looked down to read and…

“Caw. Caw!”

A great black bird hopped into the grass alcove I had created. The bird stalked forward with a grace that gave him authority. His large beak dipped down as he pointed one eye to look at me.
This was odd, but I wasn’t scared. Animals can be friendlier than people most of the time. “What are you doing here crow?” He continued to eye me, twisting his head back and forth. Then hopped up next to my arm. Now, this got me to back up a little. Mind you, it was only from being startled. I mean, how scary can a crow be? Except that normally crows didn’t act like this.

“Caw.” He fixed his eye on me again.

I was afraid to make any movement. Mostly, I was fascinated why the crow was doing this. Was I in his territory? Was it a female crow guarding her nest? I looked around for something in the grass. I thought of my butt crushing her eggs. Oops.

The crow came forward and dropped something that sparkled as it landed in my lap. It hopped backwards and looked at me with puppy dog eyes. This was definitely a strange bird.

I picked the thing up by the cord, and let it dangle in front of me. The crow watched, moving its head to follow the crystal pendant.

“Caw.” He/she/it continued to eye me sideways as I looked at the pendant.

The leather cord was worn, but still strong. It wrapped around a clear quartz crystal. Hints of sunlight sparkled as I turned it in my palm.

Definitely weird. “Curiouser and curiouser” kept repeating in my head like from a bad “Alice in Wonderland” cable movie. I turned it over watching the crystal catch the light. Etched into the crystal were lines or maybe writing, but it was nothing I’d seen before.

If I had known better, I would have dropped the crystal, and ran for my backyard fence. I could have never looked back. But I didn’t want that. And that Alice in Wonderland movie in my mind kept playing. Where did curious get her?

“Is this what you’ve been cawing so much about crow?” I held up the crystal.

“Caw.”

“Are you trying to tell me something,” I felt like one of the heroines in my books. Strange. I sat down leaning closer to the crow.

“Caw.” He hopped away from me and looked back. “Caw.” He began to bob up and down, moving back and forth.

“You want me to follow?” I kept my voice calm as the crow bobbed again, seemed to nod, and turned hopping through the tall grass.

That’s when I took a moment to think. I mean, this could have been my way out? But my sense of adventure was sparked. What was going on? Crows didn’t turn up out of nowhere, drop a crystal pendant in your lap, and hop away beggin’ you with a look to follow? That stuff only happened in movies or books.
I wanted to see what was going on. It could be a trained crow out drawing unsuspecting kids to some weirdo’s house. Like what they show on the news. Or even some new reality show catching unsuspecting kids in orchards. You know, cameras in the bushes somewhere. I tried to look around for something mounted on a tripod. But I doubted it. Nothing that exciting could happen to me. So I thought.

I looked at the crystal. It winked back a flash of light. Was there movement in it? What would the princess do? I had a choice, I guess, like her. I could go after the crow, or go back to reading.

I looked around. There was a rustling movement along the tops of grass stems as a flutter of black feathers rose above the jungle of high grass.

I got up, brushed off the clinging grass stems. I placed my book down under a half-covered rock, and held the crystal in my hand. I felt the wire wrapped tightly around the crystal.
Something began to puzzle me. I guess that’s why I decided to follow. Why was the crow doing this? What was this pendant? And if the crow was leading me on an adventure, it might be more exciting than just sitting here and reading. There was only one way to find out. I headed out after the crow and towards my destiny.

**The Lost Secret of Fairies is available on Amazon.com with paperback and Kindle editions. Also available at Barnesandnoble.com as paperback or Nook editions.

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About Tiffany Turner

I am a teacher by day, writer during the evening and weekends. I've written a children's fantasy series called the Crystal Keeper Chronicles. I've learned a lot as an Independent author. I want to share that now through blog posts, interviewing fellow authors, and reviewing other children's books. If you don't see it out there, build the blog yourself. I'm hoping to create a resource for people to find quality children's books that don't always fall along the lines of mainstream.

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