I mentioned on the front page of my website that I've been working on a young adult novel. Thought I've written short stories, this is my first full-length novel. I'm about 33,000 words in, and I'm sharing a brief excerpt now because I'd love to know what you think! Please feel free to post your comments below or let me know what you think on Twitter or Facebook!
“I’m going to have to offer up my first born to go to this convention.” I gaze at the video on my computer screen which is stilled on Zach Langston’s handsome face. “And it’s his last one.” I point toward Zach’s dimpled chin even though my best friend doesn’t need the direction. She knows more than enough about my celebrity crush.
Only Zach Langston isn’t just a crush for me. He captured my heart the first time I saw him on my television screen. Since then, I’ve devoured every piece of information I can about him, have watched his videos hundreds of times, and am currently in my seventh viewing of his latest television series, Just Dating. That’s the seventh this month.
“Those tickets are going to be killer anyway.” Jasmine slurps her green tea. “I heard they were going to be more than $100 each.”
“$100?” I gulp and mentally calculate how much money I have in my secret stash even though I already know. It’s nowhere near enough for one ticket let alone a trip to California where the convention is being held. Which means I’m going to have to talk my parents into so much more than just allowing me to on a 3,000 plus mile trip.
“Why does this have to be his last convention?” I groan and flop my head down atop the gel wrist rest flanking my keyboard.
“Because of his movie career.” She answers me like the question isn’t rhetorical.
I lift my head and glare at her. “I know that. He’s always said how much he loves giving back to the fans, but being in movies enables him to give more to charity. And he just can’t keep squeezing everything into his schedule, especially since he got the role of Agent Chase in Uptown Spies. Did you know some of that movie will be filmed in Austria? Do you know how much I’d love to go to Austria just to see him on a hillside like in Sound of Music? How freakin’ awesome would that be?”
Jasmine bobs her blonde head with its exceptionally cute haircut. I love the fringe bangs that always look so sleek. Meanwhile, I have to tame my curly hair with a blowtorch.
“I doubt he’ll be twirling and singing though.”
I reach over and click off my monitor. “There’s no sense in torturing myself.”
“I guess I should probably get going. Mom’ll be getting home from yoga in a few minutes.” She slips off my bed and stretches her arms high over her head, one hand still clutching her plastic cup of tea. “Call me tonight after Just Dating goes off.”
Jasmine’s a big fan of the series, too, but her real crush attends our high school. Aaron Masters. He’s a junior, a football star, and is probably more enamored with himself than she is. But I’d never dash her hopes.
“Girls.” My mom’s call prefaces her knock by seconds. She doesn’t wait to be invited in before opening the door. She and my dad are of the opinion that privacy is something you can have when you can pay for it yourself. “Hi, Jasmine. Are you staying for dinner?” She’s still wearing her scrubs, and the smell of antiseptic permeates my room.
“Uh, no, Ma’am.” Jasmine scurries to the door. As much as she loves my mom, she’s intimated by her, which isn’t surprising.
Even if my mom wasn’t one of the top cardiothoracic surgeons on the East Coast, she’d still scare people by her six feet of height. That’s one of the good things she passed along to me. At sixteen, I’m already 5’11 and hoping I can eke out another inch before I stop growing.
“Tell your mother I said hello.” Mom waits until Jasmine dashes down the hall before directing her hazel eyes toward me. “Good day at school?”
I shrug. “The usual.” When she frowns, I add, “We may be getting a new volleyball coach, though.”
Her face lights up. “Honey, that’s wonderful! You can start playing again.”
“Yeah.” I did miss volleyball. Once Mrs. Winter left, the school had tried to recruit my mother as the volunteer coach, but her schedule wouldn’t allow it. So our team had been sidelined while waiting for another coach.
Mom leans down and plants a kiss on the top of my head. “I’m sure your father will be thrilled, too. He misses your games.”
“You mean the ones he could attend when he wasn’t in trial?” I immediately bite my tongue once the words are out. My dad is one of the hardest-working men I know, and it shouldn’t matter that he missed a few of my games or most all of my school plays. Or my dance recitals.
“Abigail.” Mom only uses my full name when she’s unhappy with me. I think it’s a parent thing.
“I know. I know. I’m sorry.” Before she could launch into a lecture about appreciation, I bounce from my bed and give her a kiss on the cheek. “I was going to nuke some corn dogs for dinner.”
“Corn dogs?” The disapproval drips from each consonant. “You know I don’t allow that stuff in this house. Where on earth did you get corn dogs?”
“Kidding, Mom.” I bound out into the hallway ahead of her, happy that my quick-thinking has diverted a potential life lesson speech.
“Abby.” She chuckles and follows me. “You father called. He’ll be here in about forty-five minutes. I thought we could eat on the deck tonight.”
“Sure.” As I get the plates down from the cabinet, I know it’s now or never. When dealing with topics that will set my dad’s head to spinning, I generally approach my mother first. She’s more level-headed. I think it has something to do with her career since she’s all about keeping the blood pressure and stress under control.
“Zach Langston’s going to be at Mega-Con this year.” I make the announcement as though he doesn’t attend every year.
“Wasn’t he there last year, too?” She removes a thick stack of salmon steaks from the freezer.
“Well, yeah, but this is going to be his last one.” I heave a heartsick sigh. “So it’s going to be my last chance to see him.” Before she can say anything, I spin around and launch into my rehearsed speech. “You and dad did say that I could go once I turned sixteen. By the time the convention rolls around, I’ll be almost sixteen and a half. And it’s perfectly safe. Half of my school is going.”
Mom doesn’t pause with the cooking preparations. “The half that we know?”
“Mom, you know everyone at my school practically.” Okay, so that was an exaggeration, but she did make it her duty to get to know my friends’ parents so that was like a third at least.
“Is Jasmine going?”
“I hope so. The tickets might be a little steep for her, though.” Jasmine’s father had just gotten a new job after a six month long layoff. The family had survived off their savings and her mother’s salary. Needless to say, things had been more than a little tight. I’m hoping that my parents will chip in on the expenses if we can talk Jasmine’s parents into making the trip.
“How are they doing now that Mike is back to work?” Mom smoothly segues into another topic.
I let her have her way for now. “Good. He really likes the job, and Jasmine says the tension is gone. So that’s a good thing I guess.” I shrug. “She never really talked a lot about it because she didn’t want anyone at school to find out.”
Jasmine and I go to a private school in Charleston, and the tuition alone must have taken most of Mrs. Alexander’s salary. But there’d been no question of her changing schools. Mike Alexander wanted his children to have the best education possible, even if that meant tightening their belts so much they could barely breathe. Jasmine’s words not mine.
“I’m sure that was difficult for her. I’m going to light the grill, hon.” She heads out onto the back patio, and I trail after her, knowing my time to convince her is rapidly dwindling.
“So do you think I could go this summer?” I perch on the edge of one of the Adirondack chairs and watch her get the grill ready.
“I’ll have to talk to your father about it.” She doesn’t sound disinterested, but I’d prefer it if she would at least look at me. But she’s focusing on the salmon and making sure the grill is set to the perfect temperature. My mom is a major foodie, and large appliances captivate her. Which is why our grill is the size of a Porsche.
I stand and lean over the oval-shaped patio table so I can get closer to her. “You think maybe you can talk to him tonight?”
She closes the lid and looks at me. “What’s the rush?”
“Jasmine and I need to figure out a way to earn some money if I’m allowed to go.” I give Mom my biggest smile. “Unless you and Dad are open to the possibility of a loan.”
Neither one of my parents is big on giving money away even though they both make enough to buy a small country each year. They believe that everyone should earn their own way…even their one and only child. They provide me with everything I need, and I certainly can’t complain about my life. But I do wish they’d lighten up some on the purse strings. I can already tell this convention trip is going to take some strong-arm convincing if I even stand the slightest hope of going.
A frown mars my mother’s youthful face. “A loan? And how would you pay it back? You don’t have a job yet.” She stresses the last word as a reminder that gainful employment is a requirement for the summer now that I’m sixteen.
Now I’m irritated, and before I can control my tongue, I blurt out my feelings. “Oh, Mom, it’s not like you and Dad don’t have the money. Why does it always have to be a battle when I ask for something?”
My thoughts, experiences, challenges, and goals. Right here. At least once a week or so. Oh, and opinions, too. Those will definitely come in. Join me!