by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73
So if you've followed me on Twitter and Facebook, you know that production has begun on what will, most likely, be my first published work. Power Play:Hero's Sword Volum 1 is the first book in a series for middle-grade kids, age 8-10. A good comparison would be the wildly successful "Magic Treehouse" books. The books are approximately 20,000 words and divided into chapters.
The Hero's Sword series arc follows eighth-grader Jaycee Hiller. All Jayce wants to do is keep her head down, avoid the cheerleading squad, and survive school. But when she finds herself inside her favorite video game, "Hero's Sword," she must become her avatar, Lyla Stormbringer. "Survival" takes on a whole new meaning as she works to rescue the estate of Mallory from marauding highwaymen.
To celebrate, I offer an excerpt from POWER PLAY for your enjoyment. This is an early scene in the book, after Jaycee is transported into her game and she meets her mentor.
Read a second excerpt here.
I expected to come in contact with my floor, but instead something that felt very much like grass smashed against my cheek, and the smell of dirt and fresh air filled my nose. Really fresh air. I hadn’t smelled air this fresh since that camping trip my parents had forced me to go on in fifth grade.
As soon as my vision cleared, I stood up. My nose and skin hadn’t lied to me. Instead of standing in my bedroom, I was in the middle of a grassy clearing, surrounded by massive trees. The sky above me was a brilliant blue, clearer than I’d ever seen. There were no clouds. I brushed my hands off on my pants and froze.
I was not wearing my usual jeans and t-shirt. Instead, I wore a long-sleeve linen shirt and a close-fitting leather vest. My legs were in tight pants, not uncomfortably tight, but much tighter than I preferred. Instead of sneakers, I wore soft leather boots that came to my knee. There were leather cuffs around my wrists, embossed with some sort of logo, but it was upside down and I didn’t recognize it. The only thing that seemed to be the same was my hair, which was still in a ponytail. But when I pulled it forward, it was a different color, a much deeper brown than it was normally. A few strands stuck to my forehead.
I was about to look at the logos more closely, when a voice shouted behind me. “Stand fast! Who are you, trespassing here? Turn around and name yourself!”
I did what any normal thirteen year old would do. I held out my hands, and turned around. Okay, maybe most thirteen-year olds would have run. But as soon as I saw the owner of the voice, I was glad I hadn’t.
He was tall and muscular - and holding a sword like he knew how to use it. He also looked very familiar, from his dark hair to his boots. His skin was tanned, like he spent a lot of time outdoors. “Um, hi,” I said.
The stranger lowered his sword, but didn’t put it away. “Greetings,” he said. “Might I ask of your name?”
I looked around. “Before I tell you that, would you do me a favor?” The stranger furrowed his brow, but nodded. “Where exactly am I? Like, the name of the town?”
The man’s brow crinkled further. “You are in the estate of Mallory, lands of Lady Starla Caval,” he said. My stomach felt hollow. Mallory is the name of my estate in Hero's Sword. This was getting really weird.
“Uh, and who are you, exactly? I thought the lord of Mallory was Harald Caval.” I was afraid of the answer.
It wasn’t possible for his forehead to crease any further. “I am Roger Woodbridge, chief steward of Mallory,” he said. “Lord Harald is dead, Lady Starla is his daughter. “ The hollow feeling in my stomach increased. This was definitely weird.
I needed more information, right now. “So, Roger, what brings you to this clearing?” I said, trying to sound casual. Stu always tells me I’m horrible at that, but I tried anyway.
“I am on the lookout for a great hero of this land, the woman known as Lyla Stormbringer,” Roger said. “There is unrest in Mallory. Lady Starla’s reign is new and some of her people think she is unfit for her role. Bandits plague the highway and her ladyship cannot stop them. It is Lady Starla’s hope that Lyla Stormbringer can help bring peace to the estate and strengthen her rule.”
Okay, way, way too weird. This could not possibly be happening. The quest I had accepted was to hunt bandits on the main highway though Mallory. Had the Controllix brought me into the game? But that was impossible. I wouldn’t have believed it except for the fact that my pretend Mallory looked a lot like this place, there were characters named Roger Woodbridge and Lady Starla, and my avatar was definitely Lyla Stormbringer - and she dressed a lot like how I was dressed now. But somehow now seemed like a bad time to tell all this to Roger. Had I fallen asleep? I pinched myself, hard. It hurt. I looked around. Still in the clearing. Roger now looking at me in obvious concern. “Are you all right?” he said. “You seem dazed.”
I gazed at the trees again and the sky. I might as well go with it. I spread my hands. “I’m fine,” I said, even though I wasn’t feeling all that fine. “You said you were looking for Lyla Stormbringer. You found her. I’m Lyla.”