A quick note for you audiobook listeners – the audio version of Flame & Stone is available now! Narrated by the truly excellent Kevin Clay, I think you’re really gonna love it!
I’ve mentioned the kid’s book I’ve been working on a few times lately, and thought you might a little taste. Keep in mind, of course, that this is just the unedited first draft, and subject to all sorts of changes…
Excerpt: The Time Stone
(The Stone Scavengers, Book 1)
Sydney Pointer wrinkled her nose at the nasty smell that hit her just as Ripley Edwards, boy detective found another important clue. Looking up from her book, she was surprised to see an old man in rumpled layers of dirty clothing with the kind of mountain-man facial hair she’d only seen on TV slide into the booth across from her.
She glanced around the nearly empty diner, but her mother was nowhere to be seen. Her heart pounded in her chest so loud she was sure the man could see it, but she tried to stay calm as she closed her book and reached for her bag. Surely he couldn’t move as fast as an eleven-year-old, she thought. She began to scoot out of the booth when he spoke.
“I have something for you, Sydney.”
She froze at her name, fear turning to panic as she wondered what else he knew about her. She tried to remember everything her mom had taught her in case a strange man ever tried to take her. She opened her mouth to scream, but stopped when the man slid a tattered piece of paper across the table.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said. “But I need to give you this. It’s something your father was working on until recently. I’m sure he’d want you to have it.”
Sydney forgot her fear for a moment at the mention of her dad. He’d left when Sydney was a toddler – off on another one of the treasure hunts he was so fond of. An amateur archaeologist who could never be happy rooted in one place, her mother had always said with a wistful smile. He’d tried, her mother told her, but after a year of missed holidays and sporadic hour-long visits, they’d divorced and Sydney hadn’t seen him since, even though he still kept a house in town for the rare occasion when he wasn’t off treasure-hunting.
“You know my dad?” Sydney let her bag fall to the bench and looked closer at the man. He looked…tired. His hair was long and knotted, his beard in serious need of a comb and shampoo, his teeth crooked and brown, and the lines on his face etched in deep, sunburned furrows. There was something in his gaze though that seemed honest.
Something non-threatening in his hunched posture and shaking bent fingers.
“I know him very well, child.” He pointed to the list, but made no move to reach across the table. “Your dad was looking for these stone talismans – keys, he called them – when he disappeared six months ago. Insisted that together they would open some sort of ancient treasure trove. One that supposedly holds the secret to life-long happiness for whoever opens it.”
Sydney looked at the list, which consisted of six crude pencil drawings with a title scrawled in rough handwriting under each one. At the top the drawing was of a circle with a triangle standing on top. It was labeled Time Stone. There was also a flower blossom, an arrowhead, a heart with a crack down the middle, and what looked like a scroll of some sort.
“He was trying to find these? But how did he know where to look? And if they’re made of stone, aren’t they very heavy?”
The old man chuckled. “A talisman is a small object believed to bring good luck to whoever holds it. Your father found the first one – The Time Stone, he called it. I’ve seen it. It’s a sundial no bigger than a half-dollar coin.” He curled his gnarled thumb and forefinger into a circle to demonstrate. “Legend has it that each talisman has a clue on the bottom that leads to the next. Whoever follows the clues and finds the stones will eventually find the treasure as well.”
Sydney frowned. “He disappeared? What happened to him? Is someone looking for him?” She looked for her mother again. They had to do something. “Did you call the police?”
“I don’t know what happened to him, kiddo. And I suspect the police won’t be able to help.” The man hesitated, and then looked her in the eye. “He had some…trouble getting the first stone. As if there were something protecting it. The last thing he told me before he left was that I should pass this list on to you when you turn eighteen.” He coughed, a wet, phlegmy sound. “I’m afraid I’m not going to live that long, kiddo, so you’ll have to take it now.”
“Sydney Ann Pointer, what did I tell you about talking to strangers?”
Relieved that she’d finally showed up, Sydney looked up at her mother, who only glanced at her before turning on the old man.
“Who are you, sir, and why are you talking to my daughter?”
The old man raised his head, and Sydney’s mother gasped, putting a hand to her heart.
“Hello Daphne. It’s been a long time.”