Friday, March 11, 2016

My Short Story from "Ghosts in Tight Spaces"

The Boat 

The winds were strong. Mom and Dad kept urging me ahead. They didn’t seem to remember how much I dislike boats. But this would be different. Different they said because the boat was a ship: an Ocean Liner. I thought that was ridiculous. It’s bigger therefore it sinks faster.
“Come on, Desi,” Mom said. “Don’t you want to see the room?”
Oh, great. Yes, I really want to spend time in a room with fishbowl windows, and being lashed from side-to-side. My stomach already sour, queasiness had settled there.  This was going to be a nightmare.
“I bet there’ll be a few cute boys,” she said.
Oh, God. She’s trying that one, again. I’m most attractive in the hue of blue and green. I rolled my eyes and pray to be close to a railing where I can jump off.  I mean, throw up.
I drop my bag on the bed. I have my own room. I mean I should, I am traveling with my parents. It’s times like these I wish I had a sibling.  Now they’re going to expect me to go out there and make new friends. Why bother? It’s not likely I’ll see any of these people again. 
When we take family vacations, I might meet a few people, and collect a couple numbers, but we never call each other and make plans. Usually, they’re from a hundred miles away. Sure, we friend each other on social media. But then one of us drops the mic and forgets about ever chatting again. Who cares?  After the weekend, I’ll be back home where my real friends are. 
A knock. “Hi, Mom.”
“Isn’t this fun, we have joining rooms if you want to use it?”
“I like having a front door.” I fold my arms and sit on the very thin mattress. Great, I’ll get to feel every wave we rock over.
“Want to come with us for the meet and greet?”
I give her the infamous Desiree eye.
“Okay, but that’s where we’ll be. Make yourself comfortable. Maybe stroll along the promenade.” She turns back before closing the door. “You all right?”
I nod and unfold my arms, and if I want to get rid of her I better say, “I’ll take a walk, soon as I unpack.”
She smiles, and reassures me, once again, where she and Dad will be hanging out.
I sigh, heavily. Look at my watch. I better not start that. If I watch every minute till this is over it’ll feel like an eternity. I begin unpacking, and hang the black dress, of which mom thought was too serious for boat trip and for summer, inside the tiny closet. I turn for my bag and notice something on the floor in the closet.  A string? I bend over and tug on it, but the string won’t budge. I pull harder, and nothing happens.  I drop to the floor, trying to see where the string ends. This closet is larger than it looks. “AHH!”
“Ahh!” Something screams back.
I jump up and bang my head. “What are you doing in my room?” I ask. Some boy is sitting there, his sweater unraveling and I’m holding the end of the unravel.
“Hi, nice to meet you, I’m Guy.”
“French pronunciation. You’re American, right?” he said, with his French accent.
I nod. “My parents aren’t going to like you being in my room. Why are you in the closet? You hiding from someone?”
“Actually, yes I was.” His eyes look around. “The last person in this room was Dutch, very nice boy. He kept me company.”
“You’re a stowaway, I get it. But you must have missed your departure. We’re leaving NYC.”
“Yes, that’s what the Dutch boy told me.”
“Where’d you want to go?”
“I don’t know actually. I’m waiting for someone to find me. We were playing hide and seek, and I hid in here . . . and?”
“Why won’t you come out of the closet, are you hungry?”
“Did your parents get off already? You should come out quick before we actually depart—come on.” I try and pull him out, but my hand slips through his wrist. I try again, and again.
“You’re a ghost!”
“Yeah, I think I am. That’s what the Dutch boy said, too.”
“Cool.” I collapse next to him. “But you aren’t one of those dangerous, and scary ghosts, right?”
“Don’t think so?”
“How come your sweater isn’t, um, transparent like the rest of you?”’
“Some girl, from years back gave it to me. Said it helped her to see where I was.”
“Oh? Can you leave the closet?”
“Sure, but only in the room. I think. But once I leave the closet, you won’t see me either.”
“I bet it’s the same throughout the ship.”
 “We could hang out. There’s never anyone to talk to on these boring trips my parents drag me on.”
“Well, if your going to be my escort maybe we should take the sweater off, completely. Wouldn’t want to draw too much attention.”
I open the closet door, and wait. He floats out, wearing the sweater and slowly disappears in the light. The sweater may have been a hundred years old from the looks of it. He takes it off and fades.
“We’re going to have so much fun.” I imagine the tricks we are going to play, first on my parents and then the staff.
Mom calls my cell.  “I’m heading up now, meet you there.”
I turn to Guy. “Ready for some fun?”
“Anything’s better than that closet.”
I’m dressed for dinner in my black dress and ready for adventure. Maybe this trip will be some kind of fun after all.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Kidlit Book Review: My Diary From the Edge of the World.

My Diary from the Edge of the WorldMy Diary from the Edge of the World by Jodi Lynn Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You enter into a world of the familiar, and wham—it’s not familiar but so close. A place where encroaching forests nurture sasquatches, elves, and ghosts, who enter this Earth from deep underground caves. A place where a dark drifting cloud waits to snatch up the dying. Somewhere in Cliffden, Maine.

Twelve-year-old, Gracie Lockwood, decides to write in the diary her mother gave her, after two bad omens, both a sign that someone is about to die, and she’s going to document it. “I want to be able to prove that I knew it first.”

Our MC, Gracie, is a funny young writer. A “Tasmanian-she-devil” her father says. In the beginning, Gracie tells us she has to set the scene, which she does. And what a scene it is! Dragons fly overhead, in from the north to hibernate in South America. A time when all the townspeople take cover or use tunnels to get from place to place. The dragons have burned down the TJMAxx, and Applebees among other familiar places in this fantastical world. I love that the dragons drop scales here and there that people use for decoration. There are tales of mermaids rising from the seas to hunt. And there’s the Dark Cloud.

“Dark Clouds come for people when they die.” Waiting outside their homes. Hanging around. Gracie’s eight-year-old brother is ill. Surely it’s waiting to take him. What does the Lockwood family do?

Gracie’s family escapes. Her meteorologist, absent-minded father, her cheerful mother, who always raises the family’s spirits, an older sister, she doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with, and her beloved little brother, Sam, she calls mouse, who’s a little small for his age, and always has a cold.

The family escapes to about as far away as they can from the Dark Cloud—to the Extraordinary World! A place everyone says does not exist. On their way, Oliver, a child Gracie’s age, who has lost his family at the hands of sasquatches, is invited along for the ride in the Winnebago.

Adventure ensues! Gracie keeps us updated on all that’s happening through the writings in her diary. I enjoyed the diary aspect, very much. As a kid who kept several, I could relate. Especially the parts where she’s worried who will read it. Three cheers, to the coolest grandmother ever. When Gracie’s family and Oliver, swing by to visit, she points them in the direction of the Extraordinary World. Confirming the suspicion of Gracie’s father, while no one in the family believed him. Lost in equations, and the scientific process, the Extraordinary World could just be another hypothesis. The Lockwood family set out to find it, hoping to leave the Dark Cloud behind. After much hijinks and scary near misses, this story wraps into to a delightful and surprising discovery. Await the chill bumps!

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Monday, March 7, 2016

March Came in like a Lion.

 . . . and I'm buzzing from all of the energy!

Feels so good to be producing and being acknowledged for hard work. After years of toiling away uncertain. Uncertain if anyone will see the stories I'd spent years writing. Continuing to trust my voice even in unfamiliar, guarded territory, and learning to raise it as I step forward.

Ahhh. I'm refreshed, but still at it. Working to create something from my imagination and mind and heart, others can share. Maybe find something of themselves in the work. Otherwise, why?

I've written poetry only for myself. I needed it. Books of poetry. Handpainted and bound. My fiction became my longest commitment to paper. Growing up, I didn't believe becoming an author was a possibility. Even while I created book covers with my name on them in my tweens, or read my diary to the first-grade class. Writing a sprint of poetry during the twenty minutes my child would nap. I pursued dreams I thought I could manage like music or illustration. If I want to keep writing in secret I could do that and write in isolation.

Dug this up yesterday. My handmade poetry book circa 1989. More on my Instagram account author_klhallam. 

But I want to live outside--with everyone, creating conversations, building communities, and bringing people together. Communication. I love living in New York City. It's a large city with small communities. I talk to most everyone and find myself fortunate hearing their stories. So many STORIES. It's intoxicating! Sharing stories is part of our humanity.

So, March came in like a lion and I've been immersed in revisions for two separate books since last summer. GITCH, my MG "Tech" Fantasy releases in 2017 with  Georgia McBride for Tantrum books. THE UNMOVING SKY is my young adult, contemporary, suspense, launching with Leap Books this May 16, 2016!!  I'm so very excited and nervous of course. But I'm buzzing with energy! The gratitude swallows the terror of WT-heck am I doing? Especially as far as all the non-writer parts go. Such as marketing and growing a business. But that's okay. I love learning new skills.

As Rick James would say "Give it to me baby".    
How about you? What are you excited about? 
Tell me a story.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

BookHounds Interviewed Me on their Blog This Week!

Do you obsessively plot out each point or just go with the flow? 

I go with the flow for the most part. When I get stuck, or the tension slows, I break and make an outline of possible worst case scenarios and head down that path, until I get stuck again and repeat the process.

Read more.     

Tacho and Coco came with me.