Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sample Chapter

I just thought I'd share a chapter out of the book I'm working on. Drama Queen is the third book in my Middle Grade/YA series. What happens when a slightly overweight teenage girl pushes beyond her boundaries to overcome her insecurities? A lot of drama, that's what! The question is--Will the universe align so Charley can have her moment of fame in the spotlight, or will everything crumple around her?

 I've submitted to a publisher, and I'm just waiting to hear what they say.

Chapter 1

I refuse to be invisible.
At least that’s what I told myself as I stood on the roof of Lockwood Academy, dotted with excess glitter, and leaning over the waist-high barrier, daring anyone below to look up and see me. I straightened my shoulders and stretched myself as tall as my frame would allow—something I usually did to make myself look thinner. Not that I was really fat. But for a fourteen-year-old attending a private school for performing arts, I wasn’t at ideal weight either.
I had been equipped with curvy thighs and a round bottom that refused to conform with exercise—which is why I liked my Lockwood uniform. The white blouse and red jacket and pleated skirt hid my size well. But not well enough today. I needed to make a good impression, so I had gone the extra mile and had stuffed myself into a pair of control-top pantyhose. Which for me was like stuffing a king-sized pillow into a pocket purse. It felt like I was about to bust a seam, and with the wrong move, all my voluptuous curves would burst free. Still, squeezing myself into a nylon vice was a small price to pay if it got me the votes I needed.
“I knew I’d find you up here.”
I turned around and saw George Hollister. His back-to-school-look was limited to his hair style because there’s not much that can be done with a uniform. Today he slicked his short mouse-brown hair into a ridge so it looked like a small ocean wave cresting above his forehead. It was cool. The other cool thing is that George was the only other student that knew how to get on the roof (which in my book, made us instant friends). People that share a secret automatically become allies, so it didn’t matter that George was two years younger than me. 
At eleven years and seven months, he was the youngest student boarding at Lockwood. Which was saying a lot because he was here last year too. Not that he was a performing arts prodigy or anything. His mother was the Headmistress of Lockwood, and his dad was Dean of the music program, so apparently the minimum age requirement of twelve didn’t apply to him.
George shielded his eyes from the morning sun to look at me. “Meeting up here on the roof should be our back-to-school tradition.” He paused and dropped his gaze to the poster I held in my hands. “What are you doing?”
“I’m working on my campaign.” I tipped the poster board over the edge of the roof, dumping the excess glitter off. Glimmering flecks of gold fluttered down past the ivy-covered walls and landed on the sidewalk creating a glittery carpet for the students climbing out of the endless line of limousines.
The first day back from summer vacation was always a mad rush. A back-to-school-circus of three hundred of the most talented teens from New York and beyond, all hurrying to find their friends. Soon they would plaster their half of a dorm room with posters and bright bedding, stringing their personal belongings around like confetti. I’d arrived at Lockwood two hours ago, so I could get ready for the election.
George’s footsteps sounded behind me. “You know you’re breaking the rule—Be invisible.”
No one below was even looking up at me. I was tired of being invisible. “That’s a stupid rule.” I turned around and thought about sitting down on the rough concrete roof, but that would probably be the move that made my control-top lose control.
“What do you mean—stupid rule?” George pointed at me. “You’re the one that helped make up the list.”
 He couldn’t really call it a list because we only two rules. 1) Never tell anyone where the roof access door is—although anyone who walked to the back of the custodian’s room would find it. And 2) Be invisible. Which pretty much meant don’t get caught.
“No one saw me.” I didn’t know what the punishment was for being on the roof of Lockwood Academy, but I didn’t want to be invisible anymore. “This is my year,” I said. “Great things are going to happen.” And I wasn’t talking about getting my braces removed. That would happen in three months, but I had bigger things planned for this year. I turned my poster around so George could see it. “What do you think?”
He straightened his red tie with the Lockwood crest embroidered on it. “Charlotte Callahan for Drama President.” His face scrunched up, and for a second I thought he didn’t like my swirly letters or my glittering border.
“What’s wrong?”
He shook his head. “It doesn’t make sense.”
I frowned and looked at my poster. “Charlotte Callahan for Drama President. What doesn’t make sense?” Lockwood Academy for Performing Arts had three different course programs—Drama, Music, and Dance. George knew I was enrolled in the Drama Program. And it was my ninth grade year. All ninth graders could run for their program’s student government. “It’s clear as day.” I jerked my chin toward my poster. “I’m running for Drama President.”
He used a finger to scratch his head, careful not to mess up his ocean wave. “Yeah, but it says Charlotte. Everyone knows you as Charley.”
I turned the poster over showing him my first version. Charley for Drama president. I frowned at it and flipped it back over. “I think Charlotte sounds more professional.”
He shrugged. “But how will people know it’s you?”
“Because I’ll be sitting behind the poster.”
He stared at me like he still didn’t know if that would make a difference.
“You’ll vote for me, won’t you, George?” He was in the Music Program, but voting for the different presidencies was open to all students. Seventh through ninth grade voted for the junior-high presidencies, and the upper grades voted for the senior presidencies. 
“I don’t know.” George picked up my portfolio that was sitting next to my container of markers. He lowered his voice as he started to read it. First was a list of the various stage roles I’d played. “A tree in Little Red Riding Hood, a pig in The Big Bad Musical, a horse in Cinderella.” George looked up at me, one eyebrow cocked.
“Keep reading, it gets better.”
Before he even got to my role as a nun in the Sound of Music, he flipped the page. “Workshops and classes.”
I nodded, encouraging him to go on. This was the impressive part of my portfolio. Most kids just took the performing classes here at the academy, but I went above and beyond, taking every class and workshop I could find. 
George scanned through the list. “I thought your parents sent you to California to go to a summer technology camp, but it says here that you took a Shakespeare acting class.”
My expression fell. My parent’s lack of confidence in my career choice was like a thorn in my side. Maybe I wouldn’t get rich doing theater, but it’s what I loved. “I did go to the tech camp, but I took online acting classes in my spare time.”
George closed the book without reading the rest of my credentials. “I’ll vote for you.”
I wanted to ask him if it was because my portfolio was so kick-butt-amazing, or if it was just because we were friends, but then the sound of someone singing floated up to the roof. Being at a school for performing arts, this wasn’t uncommon. People were always singing. Me included. I could practically sing every song from every mainstream musical that had ever crossed a New York stage. But this voice, floating up to us, was different. It was soft and sweet, moving effortlessly through the complicated stanza, and showing all of us what a real superstar sounded like.
George crouched low as he walked over to the edge and peered down to the courtyard below. “You’ll never guess who it is.” The girl’s voice moved up an octave, holding a high G long enough to defy the laws of physics.
I turned away from George and folded my arms across my chest. Of course, I knew who it was. I had grown up with that voice. I couldn’t get away from it. My sister, Eden, was a year younger than me, but she was admitted to Lockwood at the same time I was last year. It was a dark spot in my memory, a time I tried not to think about—how she had hijacked my audition. Eden had never shown interest in going to a private boarding school, let alone starting a career in performing arts. But Mom insisted that she come with us when I had my audition at Lockwood.
I was nervous that day. (Ok, more like terrified.) I wanted to be accepted to the school so badly, I had tried on every outfit in my closet before I settled on the perfect one. Eden had tagged along in a pair of jeans and a Disney princess T-shirt (which was definitely too babyish for a twelve-year-old). I had memorized a four-and-a-half minute dramatic monologue and had worked for weeks on my musical theater performance—I have Confidence from The Sound of Music. (Ironic, I know.)
But apparently Mr. Perkins and Mrs. Mapleton—Lockwood’s acquisition personnel—had more confidence in Eden than me. Everyone always seemed to like her more. People were just attracted to her. She was soft spoken and sweet. I was dramatic. Plus, she was better-looking. Platinum blonde hair (mine was straw colored), tall, slender, with elf-like features. Me, I had braces and control-top pantyhose.
It didn’t take long for Mr. Perkins and Mrs. Mapleton to comment on my cute little sister. I was relieved when Eden left to use the bathroom, but then the worst thing ever happened. She started singing as she walked down the hall. Eden was blessed with a beautiful voice. Me, I had to work for every note, tone, and pitch. But not her. As soon as she got back in the room, all the attention was on her. How old was she? Did she want to audition too? Would she like a scholarship?
Eden and I used to play well together as kids, but for some reason, things have been harder since that day. It’s not that I’m not proud of her accomplishments. I am. But I also get a bad taste in my mouth whenever I think about how amazing she is. So I try to count my blessings whenever it crosses my mind. Like: I’m thankful that Eden is in the Music Program instead of the Drama Program. (She can play piano too.) And I’m thankful that I’m older than her. Although most people can’t tell. Sometimes I just want to tell everyone that at least I wear a bra and she doesn’t yet.
“Your sister is AMAZING.” George leaned forward, resting his arms on the roof barrier and looking dreamily down at Eden. I’m pretty sure the Be Invisible rule was the last thing on his mind. I rolled my eyes and refused to join the Eden-admiring-moment. Instead, I let my gaze move across the school grounds, past the dorms, past the dance building and the Bell Tower, past the trees, and over to the back side of the old abandoned Lockwood mansion.
    All at once, my breath caught in my throat and all kinds of creepiness moved down my spine, somehow working its way past my control-top pantyhose, and moving right down to my toes. I dropped my poster and blinked to make sure I wasn’t imagining before I grabbed George and pulled him next to me. “You’ve got to see this!”


I'm always excited to release a new book, but I have to say...This one is extra special. THE WIZARD'S WORKSHOP , was born out of m...