“Rafe Ryder and the Well of Wisdom” is now out in the world. It can be found here on Amazon.com. (Jon Stewart is way cuter than me when he is giddy, so we’re using him to illustrate my excitement. )
What’s Rafe Ryder and the Well of Wisdom About?
If twelve-year-old Rafe Ryder ever finds a way to get back to Earth, he’s going to give his parents a serious piece of his mind. They concocted the brilliant idea to ship him off from his home in England to Maine to attend the prestigious Ryder-Knight Academy, and, as a result, he’s now stuck in the most perilous place in the universe–an elite angelic training facility in a world known as Mystfira.
As Rafe discovers unlikely friendships with angels, fairies, and leprechauns, he realizes Mystfira has its charms–even if it rains fire and hosts the universe’s deadliest creatures. Where else could he attend school in a palace, catch a fairy xant, and watch angels prove themselves in Adomis trials?
If only he and his friends hadn’t blundered upon a sinister underworld plot to gain control of the heavens and Earth. Now, like it or not, if Rafe wants to go home, he’ll have to find a way to save it first.
To celebrate the book’s upcoming release… I’m sharing the first chapter of the book with you.
In every ending, there is a new beginning.
Twelve-year-old Rafe Ryder stared at the narrow slip of paper between his fingertips in disdain. Three days ago, his life flushed straight down the toilet, and he resented any attempt to put an optimistic spin on the situation, especially from a stupid fortune cookie.
He glanced at the sophisticated elderly lady sitting next to him. Sure, she looked innocent enough, nibbling on a spare rib with long white hair pulled into an effortless updo, but Lady Jane Ryder was a granny who could scheme with the best of them.
“Did you have anything to do with this?” he asked, setting the fortune on the kitchen table and tapping it with his index finger.
His grandmother dabbed her lips with the corner of her napkin. “My dear boy, you cannot hold me responsible for everything you find written inside a fortune cookie just because I asked Mr. Chou Chou to tuck a few reassuring words inside one of them years and years ago.”
“Uh—yes, I can.”
“Don’t be so dramatic, young man. Back then, you believed everything written inside one of those. The only way to convince you to take swimming lessons was to have a fortune cookie tell you ‘not to be afraid to take the plunge.’ Furthermore,” she said, waggling a finger at him, “you’re the one who fished those out of the fortune cookie barrel at the restaurant, not me.”
Rafe crossed his arms and scowled. “Actually, I didn’t. There was a little girl sitting on the lid, and she handed them to me.”
“Was that the strange child who bolted past us like her hair was on fire while I was paying for the takeout order?”
“That’s the one.”
His grandmother leaned forward and covered Rafe’s hand with her own. “I’ve never seen her before in my life, and I swear to you—if I’d had anything to do with your fortune tonight, it would have read: Your troubles are few and far behind.”
“Okay, but given your track record, you can’t blame me for being suspicious,” he said, flashing a smile. “Let’s see what yours says.”
“Fair enough.” Lady Jane placed her reading glasses on the tip of her nose and untwisted the wrapping from the last cookie. Sliding it out of its packaging, she broke the cookie in half, and pried the fortune from its golden hollows.
As she examined the small scrap of paper in her hand, her back stiffened and she huffed. Rolling the slip of paper between her thumb and index finger, she crumpled it into a ball and flicked it into the trash bin in the corner of the kitchen.
“What did it say?” asked Rafe.
“It didn’t say a thing. Poor old Mr. Chou Chou baked a blank slip of paper into my cookie. I’d ask for a refund if they weren’t so delicious.”
Rafe raised a skeptical eyebrow. “Is that so?”
“Yes, that is certainly so!” snapped Lady Jane, picking up her lemonade and walking out of the kitchen.
Rafe followed his grandmother to the screen door of her wrap-around porch and found her staring at the twinkling lights over the bay, lemonade glass pressed to her cheek. He watched as she lowered herself onto a swing at the end of the porch and sipped her drink.
It was unlike her to speak sharply, but he suspected that the shock and strain of the last few days had taken their toll on her, too.
Rafe pushed open the screen door and whispered, “Lady Jane?”
She smiled and beckoned him towards her. “Come sit, my darling. I’m afraid this ninety-degree heat has left me rather snippy. It feels like late summer instead of late fall.”
“That’s for sure,” said Rafe, striding to the swing and plopping down beside her. “What do you suppose my parents are doing right now?”
“There’s a five hour time difference between London and Maine so I would hope that they’re sleeping, but, please, let’s not dredge up the subject of your pigheaded parents one more time today,” she said, patting his hand.
Pushing back a lock of thick brown hair plastered to his forehead by the heat, Rafe heaved a sigh and glared at the moths flapping around the porch light. Normally, he loved sitting on Lady Jane’s porch when he visited Maine, but he couldn’t enjoy the sway of the swing or the sounds of the surf beneath him because he couldn’t stop thinking about the oppressive heat, his parents, or that blasted slip of paper he’d seen his grandmother pitch into the bin in the kitchen.
His grandmother’s voice jolted Rafe back to reality. “You know, my dear, I’ve been thinking—”
“I’m not sure you should be doing that,” he said, momentarily forgetting his angst. “I’ve heard thinking can be exhausting for someone of your age.”
Lady Jane tweaked the tip of his nose. “Cheeky boy, everything is exhausting at my age. Let’s get back on topic, shall we? I was going to ask you if you’d like to call me Granny instead of Lady Jane.”
Rafe fixed his grey-blue eyes on his grandmother. He wasn’t a kid anymore, and he’d never called her anything other than Lady Jane. He’d made entirely too many unnecessary adjustments in his life lately, and he wasn’t about to make another.
“Let’s not change anything between us because of what’s happened—except maybe the nose-tweaking thing, since I’ll be thirteen in three weeks,” he said with a peevish squint.
“So you will. I do hope I can remember not to do it again, but, at my age, it’s often difficult to recall things the next day,” said Lady Jane with a smile. She looked at her watch and pushed herself to her feet. “I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. I think it’s time we call it a night.”
“I’m with you on that,” he replied, “but I’m going to do us both a favor and take the rubbish out so the kitchen doesn’t smell like old Chinese food in the morning.”
“Considering the heat, it’s probably a good idea. Thank you and sleep well, my darling,” she said, blowing him a kiss from the doorway.
Rafe waited until he heard his grandmother climbing the stairs before making a mad dash to the kitchen. He rummaged through the trash until he found the small ball of crushed paper that she’d thrown away. Pulling it from the bin, he smoothed it out.
Rafe’s fortune had been hand-lettered in neat black print, but Lady Jane’s had been hastily scrawled in bold red ink and capital letters:
TROUBLE IS ON THE HORIZON! THE WORST IS YET TO COME! BE WARNED, THE STORM APPROACHES!
“Rotten fortune cookies,” fumed Rafe as he ripped the paper into tiny shreds and threw it back into the trash.
His grandmother lied to him, but at least he knew why. Trouble wasn’t just on the horizon. No, trouble had sucker-punched his family three days ago, and neither Lady Jane nor he needed to be reminded of it.
He tied up the trash bag, carried it to the mudroom, and flung it into the garage with a grunt. As he climbed the steps to his bedroom, he decided that he didn’t care how delicious Mr. Chou Chou’s homemade, hand-lettered fortune cookies tasted. He’d never eat another one. Besides, he didn’t plan on staying in Maine long enough for it to become an issue anyway.