Thursday, June 9, 2022

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: Harley James and the Mystery of the Mayan Kings (Harley James Adventures #1) by Leah Cupps

Welcome to my stop on the book tour for Harley James and the Mystery of the Mayan Kings by Leah Cupps. This book tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as a fantastic guest post from the author. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: Harley James and the Mystery of the Mayan Kings
Series: Harley James Adventures #1
Author: Leah Cupps
Publisher: Vision Forty Press
Publication Date: May 11th 2022
Print Length: 172 pages
Genre: Middle Grade Mystery Adventure
Will Harley Find the Missing Mayan Statue & Save the World?

Amateur cryptologist Harley James has just landed in the sticky jungle of Tikal, Guatemala—home to the famous Mayan ruins. She’s made a few friends, a few mistakes…and a ground-breaking discovery.

The legendary statue of the long-lost Mayan King.

Just as she is about to impress her father with her discovery, the statue is stolen. Right from her own room!

And what’s worse? The legend says if the statues of the three kings are reunited, they’ll bring back an army from the dead to rule the world.

Follow along with Harley as she tracks down the missing Mayan statue, solves a few riddles and stumbles upon a secret society that will change her life forever!

Tikal, Guatemala, Present Day

You know how you just know something in your “knower”? As if you had a crystal ball built into your brain?

Well, today I had a feeling. This was going to be my year.

I, Harley Rebecca James, am going to win the Junior International Cryptography Competition.

What is that, you ask?

JICC is an online competition that follows the story of two explorers as they embark on a cryptographic adventure. Solving riddles and clues are my favorite things to do, so naturally, I love cryptography. Each week for twelve weeks, a new chapter is released, with a new code to break. Thousands of kids enter to win. And I was about to solve the clue for week two.

Thirty-nine characters. A famous phrase… got it!

I scribbled the answer down in my journal and smiled.

“Where there is ruin, there is hope for treasure,” I whispered to myself.

A quote from the ancient philosopher Rumi. Of course, I’ve heard Dad say this a hundred times.

The code itself had been easy to crack. The technique used was a simple Caesar shift. The hard part had been finding the key to unlock the cipher.

I couldn’t wait to get back to my room so I could log on and enter the answer.

“Harley? Have you finished your report on Mayan glyphs yet?” A voice suddenly broke through my thoughts.


Right. I was supposed to be finishing my homework, not cracking codes.

“Almost,” I replied, tucking a piece of unruly blonde hair out of my face. I was with my tutor Jessica Rodríguez and her dog, Daisy, sitting under the shade of one of the famous temples of Tikal, an ancient Mayan site nestled in the dense Guatemalan forest.
Leah Cupps is an author, designer and entrepreneur. She came up with the idea for Harley James with her oldest daughter Savannah. Savannah had taken an interest in Mayan history and so the two of them worked together to come up with the idea for the first Harley James book; the Mystery of the Mayan Kings.

Leah lives in Indiana with her husband and three children. She is also the cofounder of Vision Forty Press, a small family owned publishing company.

- What do you love most about writing middle grade fiction?

Middle grade fiction is a special arena, because you are capturing an audience that still has the imagination of a young child, but also has an interest in history.

Around the age of ten, is when I personally became interested in the ancient history. Indiana Jones was all the rage, and I was a huge fan. Raiding tombs, discovering the mysteries of the ancients, mystical powers…my young heart was full of adventure. And that’s my story. But real inspiration for Harley James, was my 9-year-old daughter Savannah.

My 9-year-old daughter Savannah was the inspiration behind Harley James. In the summer of 2021, Savannah was watching a documentary series on National Geographic about a lost Mayan city. When I saw her engaged in the story of the Maya, I had an idea. What if we wrote an adventure story together that took place in the famous city of Tikal?

Being an avid mystery thriller reader, I had never considered writing for a younger audience. I had even outlined a book for a female version of that character as an adult. But when I sat down and thought about creating a younger version of this character, it made sense.

The rest is history. After some back and forth banter, we came up with the character of Harley James. Savannah even helped come up with some of the plot points for the book.

Harley also has some special skills. She is an amateur cryptologist, or someone who excels at solving riddles and decoding messages. I love this idea of incorporating riddles into the story, because it engages kids beyond just reading the words...they have to solve the puzzles, too. Who doesn’t love solving a good mystery?
Leah Cupps will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Good luck!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Goddess Fish Promotions and the author assume all responsibility over this giveaway.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Sounds fantastic for children!

  2. Sounds like a great read. Looking forward to reading the book.

  3. Sounds like a great book. My grandchildren would really enjoy this book.

  4. this sounds like a wonderful cook

  5. My daughter would love this book. Thank you

  6. looks like a fun one

  7. Do you like getting fan mail from young readers?

  8. Do you have any advice for new writers?

  9. Thank you for sharing your guest post and book details, I have enjoyed reading about you and your work and I am looking forward to reading Harley James and the Mystery of the Mayan Kings with my grandchildren

  10. David HollingsworthJune 9, 2022 at 9:33 PM

    This book sounds refreshing and fun!

  11. My niece would like this book.
    Thanks for the contest.

  12. I have grand kids who would love this book!
    Thank you for sharing this with us.

  13. The excerpt is interesting. Thank you for sharing it.

  14. I enjoyed the excerpt. Thank you for the giveaway!

  15. How do you think we should warn future inhabitants of earth about nuclear waste?

  16. I really enjoyed your guest post. The book sounds really good.

  17. My son liked the synopsis & excerpt. He asked to put this on his want list

  18. Sounds like a fun book. My niece would really enjoy this book.

  19. This sounds like an interesting book and I also like the cover.

    abfantom at yahoo dot com

  20. Do you have characters living in your head?