Alyssa Mccarthy’s Magical Missions: From Frights to Flaws Blog Tour Schedule
Title: From Frights to Flaws (Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions #1)
Author: Sunayna Prasad
Release Date: August 19, 2013
Twelve-year-old Alyssa McCarthy can no longer stand the toughness of her uncle and wants a better life. But one day she discovers not only the existence of magic, but also a villain hunting her down. The villain uses magic and magical technology to kidnap Alyssa to the Fiji Islands. As much as she wants to go home, she has to face some dangerous challenges first. Not only that, the villain himself must also be defeated. Can Alyssa succeed, even with the help of her mentors?
First Chapter Excerpt
The sound of the rain banging against the window distracted Alyssa from washing her lunch dishes. She stared out the window and watched every drop. What better way to spend a Thursday noon than to wash dishes? No hard work involved—just looking out the window.
Gone were the happy days of living in her uncle’s house. No more family fun. No more sweets and desserts. Just a structured life of strict and unfair rules. Alyssa longed for a normal and better life—the kind she’d lived before her parents had died in a car crash five years ago. She wanted to be like many children her age, but when would it happen? Not any time soon
Unless… she could find her godfather’s phone number and call him without her uncle knowing. One of the rules here was that all phone calls had to be earned unless there was an important reason to call someone. She hadn’t talked to her godfather ever since she’d also lost her aunt three years ago. She had never been able to find his number nor had she ever succeeded at convincing her uncle to let her talk to him. But she still remembered how sweet, fun, and caring he’d been. He even could be her legal guardian since her parents had designated him as one. If she could find his number and ask about moving in with him, her life would be happier.
But now something didn’t seem right with the raindrops, which took Alyssa’s mind off of her godfather. They turned grayish blue. Huh? How could that be? That broke the laws of nature. Too distract her more, though, the blue deepened into a dark grayish blue. What could be going on?
The rain now turned black, looking as if ink fell from the sky. Alyssa leaned closer, squinting her eyes to determine the shapes it formed on the window. The rain formed—letters. What? No. That was impossible. But then a message formed as the rain plopped on other parts of the window. What could be causing this? Nature couldn’t be changing its laws, right?
The message finished putting itself together. Alyssa gasped at what it said.
Your life will never be the same, Alyssa McCarthy, as magic will interfere.
What the heck—magic? Alyssa had never believed in magic. She’d even been told at a very young age that magic didn’t exist. But was now the time to change her views on reality? Was now the time to start believing in magic? Who could’ve done all that? No one on Orion Street was a wizard—at least Alyssa had thought that ever since she’d moved here, right after her parents’ deaths.
Turning around, she saw her babysitter, Mrs. Hutchinson, examine the kitchen floor as her eleven-year-old cousin, Hailey, watched, since she had mopped the floor. Would Hailey get a break now? Ever since her uncle, Bruce, had hired Mrs. Hutchinson, she’d liked the way Hailey had done her chores better than Alyssa.
“Hailey, you can take a break until your next chore,” said Mrs. Hutchinson. “Alyssa, get back to work. You’ve been staring at the rain for too long.”
“Okay.” Alyssa turned back—only to see the message gone and the rain back to its normal transparency. What?
“What did I say?” asked Mrs. Hutchinson.
Alyssa sighed. “Fine, I’ll finish washing the dishes.” She scrubbed her dish and glass with dishwashing soap under warm, running water. Her eyes focused on those and that was it. No way would she want Mrs. Hutchinson to catch her looking out the window again. Even though Mrs. Hutchinson was only in her sixties, she had the irritability of a ninety-year-old. But it had taken Hailey and Alyssa a while to realize that she wouldn’t even tolerate the mildest kind of nonsense, such as getting distracted by a windowpane when having to wash dishes.
After she finished washing her dishes, Alyssa put them to the side and grabbed some paper towels to dry them.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Mrs. Hutchinson asked.
Alyssa stopped. “I’m just—”
“The last few times I was here, you’d left little bits of food on your dishes,” Mrs. Hutchinson reminded her.
“But they were stuck.”
“Let me inspect them. Also, if something is rubbery, you have to wash it again.”
“Because clean dishes aren’t supposed to be rubbery. And boy, did you do such a sloppy job! Look at that stain on your sweater.”
Alyssa looked down.
“That looks like chocolate,” said Mrs. Hutchinson.
Alyssa blushed and arched her eyebrows. Washing dishes was no slice of peach cobbler. Yet Mrs. Hutchinson just had to embarrass her as if she were a messy five-year-old child.
“Hey—it’s just water,” Alyssa said, covering the stain at the bottom of her sweater’s V-neck with her hand.
But Mrs. Hutchinson held up her index finger. “Don’t you ‘hey’ me, Alyssa,” she warned, waving her finger. “That’s very rude. In my days kids respected their elders. We never would dare talk to them that way unless we didn’t mind them smacking our bottoms.”
“Things change,” said Alyssa.
“Yeah, yeah,” said Mrs. Hutchinson. “Let me do my inspection.”
Great—an inspection! How long would Mrs. Hutchinson take? She might take a couple of minutes, or maybe twenty minutes. Alyssa crossed her arms and tapped her foot. She wanted her break now. She wanted to read, rest, do a small craft—anything but wait for Mrs. Hutchinson to finish her silly inspection.
“Mrs. Hutchinson,” Alyssa started.
“Whatever you need to say, wait till I’m done,” she insisted.
Alyssa sighed. She continued to watch Mrs. Hutchinson run her finger down the middle of the front of the dish. She then rubbed it back and forth. When she put it down and nodded, Alyssa figured out that that the dish had nothing on it.
After a few minutes of running her finger down the glass, Mrs. Hutchinson put it down and turned to Alyssa. “You’re good. Now what did you want to tell me?”
“Um… if I tell you, can you not give me a hard time?”
“There was writing on the window.”
Mrs. Hutchinson pursed her lips and tilted her head, as if Alyssa had spoken Ancient Chinese. “Writing?”
“Nonsense,” said Mrs. Hutchinson.
“No, really, it was there,” Alyssa said.
“There was nothing here when I came, and there’s nothing there right now. So don’t tell me stories.”
“But it’s not a story.”
“I don’t want to hear any more,” said Mrs. Hutchinson.
“Now it’s time for your next chore.”
“Aw, but I wanted my break,” said Alyssa.
“Too bad,” said Mrs. Hutchinson. “You have to go vacuum the living room.”
Alyssa dragged her feet towards the living room and took the vacuum from the corner. While vacuuming, she thought about that writing and how Mrs. Hutchinson wouldn’t believe her. Would a nicer babysitter believe her? Mrs. Hutchinson had babysat her and Hailey for three years, and not once, did she smile or use kindness. Alyssa wanted her out of the house.
After vacuuming the carpet for about ten or fifteen minutes, Alyssa decided that it looked clean enough and stopped vacuuming. She put the vacuum away.
“Hailey, you and Alyssa need to go get the mail now!” Mrs. Hutchinson called, facing the staircase.
“Coming!” cried Hailey.
Another rule Uncle Bruce had placed on Alyssa and Hailey was they could not go outside by themselves. He worried about people taking them or some animal attacking them, even though they were older. Alyssa would be turning thirteen next month, so childhood would end for her. But that rule had been placed because a few months ago, Uncle Bruce had heard about a seventeen-year-old boy who got shot while skateboarding in his neighborhood. Violence could even happen here in Bursnell, New Jersey.
Hailey and Alyssa headed to the closet and put on their raincoats until Mrs. Hutchinson said, “It stopped raining outside.”
“Already?” asked Alyssa.
“Yes,” said Mrs. Hutchinson. She walked towards the bathroom.
The girls walked outside towards the mailbox. Alyssa pulled the mail out of the mailbox and walked back towards the door. Then, all of a sudden, she spotted some mud bubbling from the ground right near the house. It piled up, looking like horse manure, and grew as more mud emerged. Alyssa dropped her jaw and stared at it.
“Alyssa, what’s going on?” Hailey asked.
“No idea,” said Alyssa.
The mud stopped piling up, but it continued to bubble, and the bubbles spread throughout the whole pile. This also had to be caused by magic because mud couldn’t just bubble on its own.
The bubbles stopped popping up and down. Alyssa and Hailey gasped as they expanded. They kept their mouths open as the bubbles merged together. Each bubble attached to another bubble, forming a single bigger bubble. Alyssa and Hailey stepped back as the now-one giant bubble swelled. And to their horrors, it… popped! Particles of exploding mud landed on the girls, causing them to shriek. A few seconds later, the front door opened to reveal a glowering Mrs. Hutchinson.
“What the heck have you two been doing?” she screamed.
“T-the mud… it e-exploded,” explained Hailey.
“Nonsense!” growled Mrs. Hutchinson. “Get inside!”
The girls headed inside, pulling and wiping the mud out of their hair. Alyssa could easily spot the mud in her straight, pale blonde hair, unlike Hailey, who needed more patience to search for globs in her elbow-length red hair. But Alyssa’s hair fell to her tailbone, a few inches past her hips, so cleaning out the mud would take longer, even with the shorter layers in the front.
“How could dirt explode?” yelled Mrs. Hutchinson, stomping her feet.
“I-I think it was magic!” exclaimed Alyssa.
“There’s no such thing as magic!” screamed Mrs. Hutchinson. “Alyssa, you’re twelve years old. You’re too old to say things like that!”
“But nothing else can make mud explode!” Alyssa pointed out.
“Mrs. Hutchinson, we swear it did!” whined Hailey.
“Enough!” retorted Mrs. Hutchinson. “You and Hailey—go upstairs and take showers!”
Alyssa followed Hailey up the stairs and heaved a sigh. How else would the mud have gotten all over the two of them? Mrs. Hutchinson couldn’t have thought they’d play in the mud. They weren’t small children anymore.
“Alyssa, can I shower first?” asked Hailey.
“Sure,” said Alyssa.
As Hailey strode into the bathroom, Alyssa strode into her room. She scratched more mud off her skinny jeans (the only thing she’d wear ever since they’d come into style) and the back of her left hand.
Standing by her bed, since she didn’t want to get dirt on it, she thought about the writing on the window and the exploding mud. Why did they happen? Someone wanted magic to interfere with her life, but who, and why?
Also, why hadn’t she ever seen magic before? Why would her parents and others tell her that magic didn’t exist? Could magic be new to the earth? Had it been hidden somewhere? There had to be some reason why no one had ever believed in magic.
Alyssa thought about the possibility that maybe magic would only interfere if she stayed here in her uncle’s house. Maybe she’d be safe if her godfather could arrange with his lawyer to let her move in with him. Or would it? Unlike science, anything could be possible with magic, which meant that magic could follow her wherever she went. How could she find out more about it? Right now there were no options available.
The sound produced by the shower ended, which let Alyssa know that Hailey had finished. Now she could have a turn. She walked towards the bathroom as Hailey stepped out with a towel wrapped around her body. After heading inside she took off her clothes and stepped into the hot shower.
After five minutes Alyssa stepped out and headed back to her room. She put on leggings and a long shirt, but she gasped when something appeared out of nowhere, onto her bed. What on earth? Now that had to be caused by… magic. Approaching it, she saw that it was a folded piece of paper. She unfolded it and read it.
Hello Alyssa McCarthy,
You must be wondering about the writing on your window, the exploding mud, and the note that appeared here. Who was responsible for them? You’ll find out at some point.
Anonymous? What in the Milky Way—how dare someone create incidents and not say his or her name? To make matters worse, Alyssa couldn’t report that person to the police without a name. But she needed to know. She didn’t want strange, magical occurrences to keep happening. The only way to tell this mysterious person to stop was to find out a name.
Regardless of that, now she had proof to Mrs. Hutchinson that the writing and exploding mud had occurred. Mrs. Hutchinson had seen her write before, and this looked nothing like her own handwriting. She wrote in a half-print and half-script style. This writing, however, was pure print.
Jogging down the stairs, Alyssa carried the note.
“Mrs. Hutchinson, I have something to show you!” she cried.
“Not right now, Alyssa,” said Mrs. Hutchinson, striding out of the kitchen. “You and Hailey have to go wash my car.”
“But it’s quick,” said Alyssa.
“You can show me after you’re done with washing my car,” said Mrs. Hutchinson. She turned to Hailey, who emptied the dishwasher and put dishes away. “Are you almost done?”
“I think so,” said Hailey.
“How many dishes do you have left?” asked Mrs. Hutchinson.
“Uh…” Hailey looked into the top rack. “Four.”
“Okay, hurry up,” Mrs. Hutchinson ordered. She turned to Alyssa. “Why don’t you go put that piece of paper away?”
“But this is what I need to show you,” said Alyssa.
“Do I have to repeat what I said before?” asked Mrs. Hutchinson.
“Alyssa, do as you’re told,” demanded Mrs. Hutchinson, pointing at the staircase.
Alyssa sighed. This note contained so much crucial information. It was the only piece of evidence that those incidents happened.
After putting the note back in her room, Alyssa headed down the stairs and walked with Hailey towards the garage. The two of them grabbed sponges, buckets, and soap for washing cars. They filled the buckets with water and soap and then scrubbed Mrs. Hutchinson’s car.
“I wish we had another babysitter,” muttered Alyssa.
“What was on the piece of paper?” asked Hailey.
Alyssa told her.
“Who wrote it?” asked Hailey.
“There was no name on it,” said Alyssa. “Just ‘anonymous.’”
The sound of whistling turned Alyssa’s attention away from the car. She leaned her head towards the sidewalk and saw her friend from school, Madison Jennings, riding her scooter.
“Hi, Alyssa,” said Madison, as the wind blew her long, dark brown waves across her face. But when she stopped at Alyssa’s driveway, her hair went limp. Hailey and Alyssa ran up to greet her and ask how she’d been.
“I just moved onto Draco Drive a few days ago,” said Madison, mentioning a street off of Orion Street.
“So how do you like the middle school?” asked Alyssa.
“Oh, I go to Catholic school now,” said Madison. “What about you?”
“Hailey and I are homeschooled now,” said Alyssa. “I never got to tell you.”
“That’s okay,” said Madison. “So you guys want to come over to my house on Saturday?”
“What time?” asked Alyssa.
“I’ll ask my mom,” said Madison. “Okay, bye.” She rode back in the direction she’d come from as Hailey and Alyssa said goodbye to her.
After washing the car for half an hour longer, Alyssa and Hailey cleaned up and walked back inside. The sound of snoring suggested to Alyssa that Mrs. Hutchinson slept. Huh? Why would she sleep now? She never slept while babysitting.
Striding towards the living room, Alyssa saw Mrs. Hutchinson asleep on one of the couches.
“Why is Mrs. Hutchinson sleeping?” asked Hailey.
“I don’t know,” said Alyssa.
“Can you show me the note?” asked Hailey.
Alyssa nodded and led her up the stairs. But when she opened her door, she gasped. The note that she’d left on her bed was gone.
“Where’s the note?” asked Hailey.
“It was right there,” said Alyssa, pointing at her bed.
But then another piece of paper appeared onto her bed. Alyssa picked it up and read it.
Hello again, Alyssa,
I have put your babysitter to sleep again to reveal magic to you. You’ll find out why she is sleeping later.
“Not again,” mumbled Alyssa. “Why won’t they say their name?” She showed the note to Hailey.
“Let’s go call my dad before anything else happens,” declared Hailey.
How much worse could this get? Alyssa thought as she followed Hailey down the stairs.
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About the Author
Sunayna Prasad has been writing stories for over thirteen years, starting at the age of six. Now nineteen, she will start her junior year of college this fall, and will study accessory design as well as continue to write for children. Aside from that, Sunayna also likes to cook, watch movies, and draw. She lives on Long Island, New York, with her family.
Her latest book is the middle grade fantasy, Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions: From Frights to Flaws.
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