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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Over the Mountain and Back by @marieastor #excerpt #fantasy



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Over the Mountain
and Back

By Marie Aster



Synopsis


After taking his new snowboard for a ride in the mountains of Colorado, Peter Bailey is stunned to find himself in Transadonia - a hidden world that coexists alongside with the Earth.

Peter soon learns that the shiny, new snowboard was crafted especially for him by the smiths of Transadonia. Now, Peter's help is needed to defeat the evil mastermind who is threatening the freedom of Transadonia's magical inhabitants. Just why has Peter been chosen for this daunting task, and does he have the mettle to complete it?

Lara Grover never listened to her elders, so warnings like "do not talk to strangers" mean nothing to her. When a boy from an unknown world saves her from an avalanche with the aid of a snow dragon, Lara is not stunned in the least. Instead, she joins Peter on his quest to help him realize the purpose behind his arrival to Transadonia.

Together, Lara and Peter embark on an adventure filled with perils, trickery, betrayals, and unexpected alliances.

Excerpt

“Show us the way to the Bear Charmer,” asked Lara.

Immediately, the thread became taut as the ball began to roll up the path.

“Looks like it’s working,” said Peter, and the children followed the ball quickly.

The forest soon grew dark and thick as birches and maples were replaced by massive pines with heavy shadowy branches bearing giant pine cones the size of a grown man’s hand. A springy carpet of pine needles covered the ground and silenced all noises. Peter and Lara followed the thread ball for some time until, suddenly, they heard a loud growl coming from somewhere behind a thicket.

“What’s that?” whispered Lara alarmed. “Sounds like an angry bear.”

“More like a wounded bear,” replied Peter. He had heard the same, desperate-sounding growl before. His mother’s side of the family came from Alaska, and her sister still lived there with her husband in a huge, wooden house in the middle of wilderness. Peter’s father was not a hunter, so he never joined his brother-in-law for hunting trips during their visits, but they would often go fishing together. One day, as they were walking towards the lake, they heard loud growls coming from somewhere deep inside the forest. Peter’s uncle got alarmed since the growls sounded like those of a wounded bear, although hunting bears during that time of the year was prohibited. As they approached the source of the noise, they saw a young bear of about two years old with his leg stuck in a trap. The trap was medium-sized and was intended for a smaller animal, but the bear cub was small enough to get caught by it. The bear was moaning helplessly; the fur on his hind paw was torn, and blood was seeping from the gash made by the trap. Traps were not allowed in that part of the woods, yet some rogue hunters still put them up, tempted by an easy catch and willing to risk the punishment of paying a fine. Peter wanted to rescue the bear right there, but his uncle told him that it would be best to call the wildlife conservation center, since the bear could easily panic and attack them, not understanding that they were there to help him. Despite the cub’s small size, his teeth and claws were quite large. Those working for the conservation center would know how to free the bear without anyone getting hurt, and they would also try to catch the rogue hunter who set the trap. Peter’s uncle had a rifle with him, and he stayed to keep watch over the bear to make sure that no harm came to him, while Peter and his father walked several miles to get to the phone. The bear was rescued, and Peter knew that the bear’s wound healed well since a year later, Peter’s uncle told him that he had seen a bear with the exact same scar on his hind paw.

“Let’s go see who it is,” said Peter.

“Are you sure?” asked Lara. “Perhaps it’s best to keep going.”

“If it is indeed a wounded bear, we might be able to help,” said Peter.

They cautiously parted their way through the bushes and looked in the direction of the noise. At first they did not see anything, but then they saw that the cries were coming from a fissure in the ground. Slowly, they approached the edge of the chasm, looked down, and saw a massive brown bear standing on his hind paws, moaning loudly. A few paces away from him lay the decaying, reeking corpse of a giant rat. The stench was so powerful that Lara and Peter had to press their noses against their sleeves to block it out.

At the sight of the children’s faces, the bear said in a deep growl-like voice, “Please, could you help me? I’ve been stuck here for two days without food or water, and the stench is driving me mad!”

“Hold on, we’ll get you right out!” cried Peter. “Lara, see that fallen tree over there?”

“Yes?”

“Let’s push it down into the pit so that the bear can climb along it. Hello?” Peter called into the pit, uncertain how to address the bear since he did not know his name.

“I can hear you,” came the bear’s voice. “Push the tree down, and I’ll grab its crown.”

Even though the tree’s trunk was very thin, it still turned out to be quite bulky, so it took Lara and Peter considerable effort to push the tree into the pit. The bear stood up on his hind paws and grabbed the sturdier branches of the tree crown with his front paws to anchor himself. Then, he climbed up the trunk of the tree. In a few moments, he was standing next to Lara and Peter.

AUTHOR Bio and Links


Dear Reader,

Thank you very much for joining me for Over the Mountain and Back blog tour. The story of Over the Mountain and Back began over twenty years ago when I was fourteen years old and decided to write a novel as an anniversary gift for my parents. It was going to be a fantasy adventure about a boy named Peter and a girl named Lara set in a magical country, Transadonia. I remember writing studiously on the pages of an ornate notebook I had acquired especially for the occasion. Back then computers were not yet widely used, so I had to pay extra care to my handwriting. A year later, Over the Mountain and Back was completed, or at least I had thought so at the time. Needless to say my parents were very surprised with their anniversary gift.

Years passed; I finished high school and went on to college. Lara’s and Peter’s story faded from my mind, replaced by the hustles and bustles of everyday life. Then, one day – the day that happened to be my thirtieth birthday, my parents presented me with a gift: it was oblong in shape and wrapped in shiny paper. After I opened the wrapping, I was stunned to find the long forgotten story I had written all those years ago.

Long story short, after two years of extensive work, I rewrote and expanded Over the Mountain and Back into a novel of 95,000 words. For me it had been an exciting journey to be reunited with my old friends: Lara and Peter, Forest Witch Ramona, Chancellor Libra, Bookbrownies, and, of course, Carnelion, among the many others.

I hope that you will join Lara and Peter on their adventure in Transadonia.

If you would like to find out more about my books, please stop by website: www.marieastor.com.

Regards,
Marie Astor


Social Media Links


Website: http://www.marieastor.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/marieastorcollection

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4665230.Marie_Astor

Twitter: @marieastor

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