Hello again, Paul R. Hewlett here. There’s a lot happening around here so let’s begin with a recap to ensure you don’t miss out on anything. First, make sure to check out The Circle of Tivedon Blog Tour. And here’s a few more giveaways for anyone who has time. Yesterday Sher posted the Sunshine Syndicate tour and huge giveaway. Our 1000 follower No Strings Attached Giveaway started earlier this week and runs through 21 Jan, with a box of books to a US winner and a $20 Amazon gift card to an international follower. Most current giveaway links are in Sher’s Escucha Means Listen picture book review and giveway. Be sure to visit the blog tour of Rise of the Fire Tamer by Kailin Gow. Check out The Freak of Nature Book Blast here today too.
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Any children’s book author can get a free promotion here anytime (see the author hosting tab up top), but there’s another great opportunity waiting for authors of middle grade books through the All About Middle Grade Challenge 2013. The link will open a new tab so you won’t lose your place here. What else have you got to lose but a little time? And time spent promoting your book(s) now will pay in sales later
Today we are shining the spotlight on Timothy Davis’s Middle Grade book Sea Cutter. Thanks to Kathy at I Am A Reader Not A Writer and Reviews by Martha’s Bookshelf for hosting the 3rd Annual Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop. I want to share the dedication from Mr. Davis. I feel it bears repeating.
For all girls and boys who still long for Adventure and love to read.
It’s 1771 and I’ve just gotten a secret message from Father who—all of New Bedford says—went down with his ship in 1769, when I was eleven. I know I promised my old friend Wayland not to put to sea without Mother’s permission, but what’s more important—keeping a promise or finding Father? If you want to come with me, help me find a ship bound for the South Atlantic, and we’ll search together for a legendary island, and Father.
But watch out for a smelly, slim, oily-looking sailor with a tattoo of a viper coiled around his arm. We’re going to leave him far behind…
Now for an excerpt for you to enjoy.
I kicked the plaque Mother had hung on the church wall.
To the Memory
Of the Late
Captain Jonathan Childe
Of the Ship Christopher
Who in Battle with the Storm
Went Down with His Ship
August 3, 1769
Is Erected to his Memory
By His Son and His Widow
“He’s not dead!” I yelled.
“Please, Nathaniel. It’s been two years. He’s not coming back,” Mother begged.
“How can you give up on him?”
She put her hand on my shoulder, but I shook it off and ran from the church. When the world had said Father was dead, I’d defied it, but now Mother had given up hope.
“Whoa! Watch where you’re going, lad.”
A horse-drawn fish wagon rattled past on the cobblestones. The dying fish stared at me with wide, surprised eyes. A sob caught in my throat as I stumbled off the road, slamming into the church’s elm tree like a man being dashed against the mast of his ship in a storm.
“Lost in a storm at sea,” Wayland, my father’s first mate, had said. He was my father’s best friend—my best friend too.
“He stayed on his ship to the end,” he’d told me. “He was cutting through the lines tangled around the last lifeboat. He wanted to save James Talbot and Robert Long.”
“But you didn’t see him go under?” I’d pleaded.
“A towering wave broke over the ship. ‘Twas so big it snapped the mast off with a great crack, and it swept all three off the deck. The ship sank fast, the lifeboat still tangled. I’m sorry, Nat. Remember your father acted nobly staying on his ship to save the last of his crew.”
Mother found me sitting under the gnarled old elm. I wouldn’t look at her. She sat down beside me anyway and stroked my hair while humming a song we all used to sing together. Sometimes when I was the angriest with Mother was when I needed her the most. I turned and cradled my head against her heart, clinging to her as she rocked me gently.
“Let’s go home,” she said after a while. “I need your help.”
“With what?” We walked along the cobblestone road.
“A problem many eleven-year-old boys might not understand, but you’re smarter than most boys, and we have to be smart together to keep our home. We’re almost out of money.”
“But the trading company owes us thousands of pounds.”
“They’ve figured out a way not to pay it.”
A bomb went off in my head. “We’ll make them pay!”
Three red-coated British soldiers glanced over in surprise and laughed.
Mother lowered her head. “We’ll have to make our own money.”
We were passing the docks. The masts of great whaling and merchant ships towered above us, while the smell of salt and tar filled my nostrils. Greedy seagulls soared everywhere, filling the air with their harsh “caw-caw-caw.”
“I could go to sea. I’m old enough to work as a cabin boy.”
She swayed and sank on her knees.
“Mother! What’s the matter?” I held her shoulders so she wouldn’t fall to the ground.
She took my hand in both of hers. “Nathaniel, promise me you’ll never go to sea.”
“But I want to be a ship’s captain, like Father.”
“I’ve lost too much to the sea.” Her face was deadly pale. “Promise me. Promise me, Nat.”
“I promise,” I said, stunned by her fervor.
“Promise me. Promise!” she whispered again.
“I promise, Mother. I promise. I promise.”
Mother took a deep breath and stood. “Nat, do you know what Father would say if he were here?” We walked on. “He’d say, ‘Son, this is no time to be talking of going to sea. Mother needs a man around the house. Stick by her, Nat. Take care of her. Make me proud of you.’”
I nodded, puffing out my chest and walking taller as we passed a chandlery overflowing with ship’s tackle waiting to be repaired. I stopped, staring at the pile.
“I know. We’ll open a chandlery in our home, like Grandfather. He taught me to use the furnace and the anvil and—and all sorts of things.”
She cocked her head, studying the mound of broken tackle. “And I grew up with it. It’s hard work, though.”
“I’m big and strong for my age, and good with my hands.”
“You are. Do you think you could do it?”
We reached our heavy, red-painted door. Ambition swelled my heart.
“Mother, you can count on me. I’m going to make sure you have everything you need. Everything you would’ve had if… Everything you would’ve had if Father were still here.”
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