I Promise You Won't Learn A Thing From This Blog

The official blog for author Ashley Chappell. Check back every week for a few laughs at my expense or, if you know the love-hate process that is writing, commiseration.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Novel Excerpt - "Alice Will"

This is a section from my latest young adult fantasy - "Alice Will". In this scene, teenage demi-goddess Trotter is fighting a new foe: boredom. With Prowler, an enchanted cat that is both her friend and guardian, she roams the docks of Sarano.
There is a universal law which naturalists and scientists have yet to discover that supplies that anywhere people gather or pass through, someone will arrive to sell them food. It is due in large part to the tremendous attractive force between the street creature known as a vendor and the gold residing in the pockets of anyone who isn’t them. This is why within a fifty foot walk along the bay Trotter and Prowler were able to purchase and devour two fresh steamed cods, a sampling of shrimp, fried caramel snaps, banana pastries, and a very large syrupy fruit drink made with fizzy water. Trotter was just finishing off a deliciously sticky taffy dainty when they reached the foot of Poorbetters St. and a new sign caught her eye.
“Hey, look! The boys have a new store.”
“I heard about that. Apparently a child in the west side started asking too many questions about one of the gadgets and the parents got suspicious. So, they packed up shop, changed the name a little, and here they are. Good choice, too. People around here aren’t into asking questions.”
The store ahead of them had a sign that advertised “Pratt, Pratts, Potts, and Pot: Items of Technific Wonder.” Though the quartet had moved around quite a bit they were always simple to find by those who knew them. The store in the illustrious west end of Sarano had been called “Pat, Pratt, Pots, and Potter,” and the store before that had been of another similar variation. The reason for their constant moving was that after a while people would catch on to who they really were and chunks of brick would invariably be hurled through their window at best or, at worst, flaming bottles would be thrown in the night. Yet this didn’t deter the young men whose names were actually Pratt, Pratt, Pratt, and Pratt.
Pratt was, or Pratts were, if you will, a mage. Early in his life he discovered that he had a natural aptitude for magical inventions and also discovered that he had far too many ideas and inventions to create than he could do alone in one life time. His solution was as simple as it was impossibly insane. Rather than attempt to find another mage to work with he decided that he worked better by himself, so that is exactly what he chose to do. Using a little-known loophole in Scatcatter’s Infundibulum Dispersal he cast a small net in time and caught himself from one second in the future. With the help of his slightly future self, he repeated the process two more times until Pratt was certain he had enough help for his creations. The only drawback was that he tended to fall into a four second loop in his conversations with other people. Therefore, only two Pratts worked in the front of the store at any time while the other two worked feverishly in the workshop constructing toys that were part magical and part mechanical.
It was generally held among the public that yes, magic existed and yes, it’s quite handy to have around when someone gets ill or the dragons get frisky again, but it’s not really proper, is it? And so it was that they tended to become uncomfortable around practitioners of magic. When groups of uncomfortable people gather together they typically become a group of angry people quite quickly if for no other reason than that it seems to be fashionable at the time.
Magic was never fashionable in the trendy and modern city of Sarano. It signaled a time when people, chiefly people with money, were not in control and put them largely in mind of pitch forks and torches. It was tolerated, however, in the same way that mice are tolerated to exist so long as they did not appear in one’s kitchen.
The Pratts made beautiful toys and time-saving inventions that could practically prepare and cook an entire meal if the buyer had enough gold to spend. However, in order to entice an affluent citizen to purchase one of their magical goods they’d had to be creative, and even a little devious. Pratt, one or all of them, came up with the name technifical to describe the creations and called himself, themselves, an engineer. Since everyone knew that nobody could understand an engineer anyway they seldom asked them what technifical meant. If a brave or morbidly curious soul did ask then they would be ambushed with terms like reversible inverse momentum, floppy circuits, limited infinite quantities, and quantifiable unknowns until the listener gave up and went away pale, shaken, and confused.
Still, from time to time an enterprising mind would dissect one of their wonders and discover that where they’d expected to find clockwork was nothing but seemingly sparkly air or sometimes even a flapping butterfly. Then the Pratts would have to pack up their store and move yet again. It no longer bothered them, actually. It was a matter of pride to them that they were never in one place long enough for the property tax bill to arrive.
The newest incarnation of their store stood in front of Trotter with the promise of at least one thing: it would alleviate an entire morning’s worth of boredom in one stop.
“Let’s go in for a visit,” she said, swallowing the last of her taffy.
“Not this time. We need to get back and wait for Miro.”
“Oh, come on, it’s right on the way! It won’t take long.” She started heading toward the door.
“You promised!” Prowler called behind her indignantly.
“What? I can’t hear you. You should speak up when you’re so far away,” she taunted back as the door to the shop began to close behind her. Prowler darted through the door before it could shut on his tail.
“Five minutes. Then we really have to go. I’m getting bad feeling right down to my whiskers now.”
“Don’t be such a fraidy cat.” As soon as she stepped through the door the buzzing of toys and gizmos filled her ears. As she wandered down an aisle a small rodent sized toy zipped in front of her, pausing only long enough to squeak a tinny apology before hurrying along. In the corner a toy bird was flapping from wall to wall while a life-like toy frog hopped into her hands. It had a small key turning in its back, but she knew it was only for show. That key turned nothing at all and never needed winding. But it made it look less magical and therefore more acceptable to the parents of proper children with the pockets full of gold.


  1. Anonymous5:41 PM

    I think the voice in this is really well-developed and every paragraph held another laugh. I can't wait to read more of your work :-)

  2. Leigh7:50 AM

    I agree! I'm definitely not a young adult anymore (about 20 years past), but I would love to have this on my book shelf. Is it published yet? I want to read the rest of it!

  3. Thanks to you both! This one is not published yet - I'm actually heading to my first conference next month, and I'm hopeful to start making connections and learn the ropes of the industry. Apparently this is one rope that likes to change lengths right about the time you think you've just grasped the end of it...

  4. wannabeme9:05 AM

    OMG! That's hilarious. Can you post more?? Where can I get it?

  5. Retired paper jockey9:08 AM

    Great analogy about the industry. You are quite right, and with the economic down turn it is far harder for aspiring authors to break into the club than ever before. The good news is the digital transformation of the industry is opening a lot of doors for those willing to embrace the future of publishing. I think your samples show you've got what it takes and I wish you the best!

  6. Anonymous10:25 AM

    Girl, you are going to be famous!

  7. Anonymous12:45 PM

    Ha! As an engineer myself, I got a total kick out of your description of the Pratts. It's exactly the kind of thing an engineer would do if you gave him a wand! After he caused some major accidental damage while trying to figure out how it worked, that is.

  8. Parker11:06 AM

    Great job! Have you been writing long?

  9. Thanks so much! I've been writing from the time I could hold a pen, I think. I remember when I was a VERY young child seeing my uncle's car on a lift in a garage gave me the idea for a story about a new hero: Supercar. That was my first 4-page 'book', and as I recall it was quite a hit on the playground.

  10. Anonymous8:24 AM

    Have you thought about self publishing?


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