Just a heads up that the first ADVENTURES OF THE FIVE novel, THE COMING OF FROST is available for free through February 28th for the Kindle. This is not a free borrow or Prime deal, but a totally free download. The sequel, THE CHRISTMAS ENGINE, is currently available for purchase, as well.
I’ve made the book free for the week in hopes of getting the word out. It’s a $20 paperback, so this is what my marketing friends call “a deal.”
The book’s description:
Welcome to the Meadow! Big Orange Toy Box’s flagship production is an all-ages tale of five furry friends trying to stop an evil human from conquering Wonderland!
Thirty years ago, Johnson Frost was just a kid from the Real who got lost and ended up in the Fantasy, where he was to meet his destiny by saving the Wonderland 31. When it was time to go home, however, Johnson refused, hiding in the mountains where he helped the Yetis battle the Nutcracker Army for control of Wonderland. Eventually defeated and exiled back into our world, the once wide-eyed kid grew into a bitter adult with dreams of making himself king!
In the present, a new generation of kids visit Wonderland 31. Farm the Half-Wolverine, Aurora the Fox, Jasper the Porcupine, Flake the Rabbit, and Notter the Otter find the entrance while exploring abandoned miner’s tunnels inside the Western Mountain. They encounter a world of Nutcrackers and Yetis, of Marshmallow Bogs and Gingerbread Castles, and learn that Frost is coming back to conquer Wonderland with his Army of Invasives!
It’s up to the Five to stop him. Ignored by their parents and the Meadow’s Elders Council, the Five embark on the most dangerous adventure of their young lives to save both their home and a world they only just discovered!
THE COMING OF FROST is a big book: 164,000 words, 400+ pages, containing a series of 11 connected short stories. Here’s an excerpt from the book’s second chapter, “Mother Hound’s Silent Night Gone Not So Silent”:
Farm looked alarmed. “Notter! Were you spying on Corin again? You’re going to make him furious! We can’t make him suspicious this close to Eve’s New Year! If he suspects anything he’ll keep Aurora home that night. You cannot spy on him, Notter. Not this month, at least. We agreed.”
Notter looked wounded by the accusation. “Spying is such a dirty word, Farm.”
“Not to you it isn’t.”
Notter’s look of concern grew into a wide smile. “Yeah, you’re right about that. Crikey.”
Farm smiled back; it was impossible to stay mad at someone as enthusiastic as Notter, and as long as Notter had already spied there really wasn’t any harm in hearing about what he discovered. “What else did you hear?”
“Nothing, really,” Notter shrugged, darting off his pillow and towards the rectangular, yellow toy box against the left-side wall. “Maybe we can just take some of these and wrap them up for you. Hound won’t know the difference and that way she won’t feel bad about you not getting anything.”
Farm shook his head. “She’ll know. She’s not dumb.” He watched his friend stare intently at a wooden Nutcracker figurine. The paint had almost completely faded away. The toy’s face was nearly absent of features, the jaw was partially broken, and the once golden jacket was now a dull yellow. Notter was studying the figurine as if he expected the secrets of the universe to come pouring out. Farm thought about Notter’s last answer and his brain started to tingle – Notter was hiding something from him. “What do you mean, ‘nothing really?’” he asked suddenly. “’Nothing really’ means ‘something actually’ or I don’t smell that honey starting to warm in the stove. What did you hear?”
“Ack, Farm, nothing,” Notter frowned, turning his back to Farm in an unsuccessful attempt to hide it. “Jiminy.”
“What?” Farm demanded, his heart starting to race. There was usually only one subject that could get Notter to act like this. “Was it something about my dad?” he pressed excitedly and nervously. “Is he back?”
Notter spun quickly, leaping on Farm and pinning him to the ground.
“Notter, quit it! Get off!”
“It’s worse than your dad,” the otter said in a hushed whisper, his voice unusually shaky.
Farm stopped struggling. “Worse than Jacob’s return?”
Notter nodded, his head darting around and his nose sniffing the air before his eyes came back to lock on Farm’s. “Worse than Jacob’s return,” he nodded, his voice barely audible despite only being inches from Farm’s face. “Forsooth.”
Farm’s voice, too, was lower than the wind that howled outside. “What could be worse?”
Notter’s eyes darted around again, as if looking for something. A board creaked and both Notter and Farm snapped their head toward the wall. When nothing came through, Notter whispered, “Human.”
Farm’s eyes went wide. “There’s a human in the Meadow? Tonight?”
Notter nodded. “An old human, too, Farm, and Corin said he was big and fat and knew the Meadow good enough to know which homes had creatures in it and which didn’t. Corin said he watched the human stepping right past the empty fox dens and entering the ones that had foxes in ‘em.”
“Magic,” Notter whispered fiercely, pushing Farm’s shoulders hard onto the floor. “Human magic, too. The worst kind. Yeah, and Corin said this human’s got something to give a particular fox and isn’t leaving until he finds him.” Notter pushed his face in close to Farm’s. “Or her.”
Farm gasped. “You don’t think … Aurora?”
Notter nodded. “She’s the daughter of the most powerful creature in all the Meadow. If the humans were after anyone, it would be her, wouldn’t it?”
“We’ve got to save her!” Farm shouted, knocking Notter off him with surprising strength and leaping to his feet. Plans were already forming in his mind about where to take Aurora after they rescued her. If this magic human could tell which dens were inhabited and which weren’t, maybe that’s because he was a tracker of some kind. Maybe they could take her to the caves and sneak down through the abandoned miner’s tunnels and lead her to safety? Which safety, though? To another spot on the Western Mountain? To the abandoned mining facility? To the Factory up on the northern edge? To the Crop Fields in the South? They certainly couldn’t go east, to the human settlement of Eastbrook, unless hiding among the humans was the last place the magic man would look for them.
Decisions, decisions, too many decisions. Farm’s mind raced. The mountain had the most places to hide, but they’d be out in the open too much. The magic man could spot them easily just by looking, and besides, Farm shivered, the birds patrolled the mountain. The last thing he wanted to do was rescue Aurora from a human and deliver her to the hawks. It wasn’t Flake, but Farm bet Dancer wouldn’t mind making the rabbit a bit more scared by killing her best friend.
Then again, maybe they could hide her beyond the Old Wall. Even looking at the Old Wall was a violation of Meadow Law (in fact, it was a violation of the oldest Meadow Law), but that meant it would be the last place anyone would look for them – unless the magic man didn’t know about Meadow Law. Did Farm want to potentially lead this evil magic man to -
He shook the thought away; the Western Mountain was out. The North Factory was off-limits, too, according to Meadow Law, but visiting the factory wasn’t as severe a violation as seeing the Old Wall. Maybe that made it the best place to hide. Few would suspect them of going there and the noise and pollution kept the hawks and wolves away. Notter had been in the factory a bunch of times (or so he said) and there were plenty of hidden ducts and vents where they could hide out. Since it was Christmas time, the factory wouldn’t be running for a few days, meaning the humans wouldn’t be around to spot them, either. Hunting was illegal in the Meadow, but humans were allowed to shoot animals that wandered onto their property. They’d have to come up with some way to avoid the alarms, though, or else the police would come and-
Farm pushed the thought aside. The Crop Fields were … he scolded himself. He was spending too much time planning and not enough time acting. First they had to rescue Aurora. The rest they could figure out once they had her.
Farm spun on Notter. “We’ve got to get going! There’s no telling when the mag … ic … man …” He stopped cold as he saw Notter double over with laughter, his paws clenching his stomach as he wiggled back and forth on the worn red carpet.
“Notter! What’s so funny?”
“You’re so easy, Farm!” Notter giggled. “A human magic user walking around the Meadow tonight? Only visiting houses with people inside? With something to give someone special?”
Farm’s anger was blinding his ability to think; the half-wolverine had started to notice that he was getting angrier quicker than he used to get. Aurora was in danger and Notter was here playing riddles. They had to go warn her, or if they were too late for that, to save her. He didn’t see what was so funny about this magical human appearing in everyone’s house with something … to … give …
Farm groaned. “I’m so easy,” he mumbled, flopping back onto Flake’s pillow by the round table. He slapped his paw against his forehead. “Corin was talking about-”
“Santa Claus!” Notter shouted and then burst out laughing again.
This was the way it usually was between these two friends, and that’s why, when Farm had a secret to tell, he told it to Jasper the Porcupine.
–continued in THE COMING OF FROST!
Thanks for reading, all.