Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Next Big Thing

I was asked to participate in The Next Big Thing blog chain by Charles L. Dougherty, author of the Bluewater Thrillers:

The rules for this Blog Chain are very simple: Answer a few question about The Next Big Thing you are working on (or the current one if you so choose), and then select 5 more authors to carry it on.  That's it, so here goes:

My latest release is The Phantom Student by Cool Well Press.  I will be giving away a signed copy starting Friday, December 7th in conjunction with The Kid's Books Blog Hop.  Check back for that ~ you will be able to pick up some great Christmas gifts for your kiddos.  My ebook, The Phantom Pilot, will be FREE on Amazon during the hop.  Read on for a preview.

Here are my answers to The Next Big Thing:

1) What is the working title of your next book?  My latest book is The Phantom Student

2) Where did the idea come from for the book? It is book two in The Phantom Series so the characters were already there.  However, the addition of Derol Pavey, the student with Tourette syndrome, came from my years of teaching elementary school.  I had a few students with Tourette’s, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, ADD, ADHD, and so on.  But no matter the label our system stuck on them, all these kids were precious to me.

3) What genre does your book fall under?  It is Middle Grade fiction, but many of the reviews on book one (The Phantom Pilot) came from adults.  On The Phantom Student, I think one of the best reviews is the one that said, “I loved this, and so did my daughter.”  That is exactly what I’m aiming for!

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? For Stevie, I would choose someone like Jennifer Lawrence from The Hunger Games.  She is brave and strong, but she doesn’t realize it until she is tested.  For Jase, I’m thinking Liam Hemsworth, he’s tall, blond (I think) and heroesque (is that a word?).  And for Derol Pavey, picture the Filipino child actor (now grown up) named Carlo Aquino.  There is a sweet, child-like innocence about him.  For the phantom student, I would definitely choose a very young Dakota Fanning.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  Jase and Stevie try to keep a new kid (who has Tourette syndrome) from being bullied at school, while at the same time attempting to figure out why Stevie is being haunted by a phantom student. 

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  It was published by Cool Well Press

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?  Several months.  But it was easier on this book because Jase and Stevie were already established characters from book one, The Phantom Pilot.  Book three, The Phantom of Crybaby Bridge, is taking much longer to write because I’ve taken the kids out of Crossroads and put them into the woods (camping trip).

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?  I think it could be compared to other MG books like Bridge to Terabithia (because of the relationship between Jase and Stevie), or The Dollhouse Murders (because of the inherent mystery they must solve). 

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?  The characters from The Phantom Pilot weren’t finished with me!

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?  It has some scary moments, the kind that make you look over your shoulder while you are reading.  It also has some very touching moments.  My editor said she forgot to edit the last forty pages because she was sobbing (she had to go back and edit later).  

Here is a snippet of The Phantom Student.  This is one of my favorite scenes.  In it, the phantom girl has just made her first appearance in the kitchen where Stevie has just got up from the table and crossed to the sink:

             I stood very still, my back to Gramps.  In the reflection of the dark kitchen window, I could see Sally Jean standing behind him at the table.  I’d never seen her outside the mirror before, except in the schoolhouse.  I closed my eyes when she reached toward him, afraid she would shudder and fall.  I didn’t want to see what would happen if she actually touched him.

            When I opened my eyes, Gramps was rubbing his hand across the back of his neck as if he’d caught a chill.  Sally was nowhere to be seen.

For another link in the Next Big Thing blog chain, visit Ashley Fontainne at


  1. I'm reading Phantom Student now and having a hard time stopping to do other stuff I HAVE to do. I didn't realize until just now that you have both Phantom stories in one book! I've got to get a copy and have you SIGN it! :)

    1. Thanks, Katy! So glad you're enjoying it. Beth really surprised me when she put both books into one volume!


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