Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hello!

***You can e-mail me at mcgrathalexr@gmail.com to set up an interview or any other event.***

Below you will find the summary and 1st Chapter from my new novel, "Someday this will be in a Museum". 

This is the first book of a series.  I have the other books planned out, but I still have to finish writing them. 

Here is a short description of this first book.


It has been over a year since her family’s heartbreaking move from their beachfront hometown, and 11-year-old Melody McDougal is still struggling to make sense of the abrupt and mysterious departure.  After being scorned and bullied in her new city for her tireless work ethic and high intelligence, Melody was transferred to another school after the end of her fifth grade year.  Left feeling alienated, the young girl begins sixth grade both scared and desperate, constantly yearning for the kind of genuine friends she had back home.


Melody’s diary offers a view into the heart and mind of a lonely girl who is desperate to fulfill the vicarious dreams of her loving but demanding mother.  Expecting nothing short of spectacular academic success, Mrs. McDougal spends her days molding her daughter into the child prodigy that she wishes she could have been herself.  Her ambitions for Melody go far beyond straight A’s as she also eyes the capture of a national prize and the cash reward that comes with it.  


If you get a chance to check it out, let me know what you think by posting a comment.  I spent a long time planning and writing and revising this book, and I always wondered what people would think of it when it finally came out.

If you want to order the e-book but you don't have a Kindle, that's ok!  You can download free software from amazon.com that lets you read the e-book on your computer or smart phone or other device.  Here is the link to that software if you need it.  Just click on the bold word "here" for the link. 




 
**You can now borrow the e-book for free, on a Kindle or a device with Kindle software, if you have an Amazon Prime membership.






Someday this will be in a Museum : Chapter 1

Melody's Diary
August 21st, 1996



Maybe, someday, a thousand years from now, someone will dig this up out of the backyard and read it and study it and put it in a glass case in a museum. They could have a special about it on TV where they use it to explain what life was like for the human race way back when. If they still have television at that point. I see those artifacts from the ancient civilizations in the museum all the time, but it’s weird to think that it will be our things in there one day.

My Mom gave me this journal a few weeks ago, right out of the blue. I never asked her for one… she handed it to me after she came home from shopping one day. I hadn’t felt like writing in it until now.

I’m supposed to write in it whenever I have the time and fill it up with everything I can think of. Whatever pops into my head. Even the weirdest things. Even conversations with people.

"Use that remarkable memory of yours," Mom told me.

And I’ve got to store it in a safe place. Mom keeps reminding me of that part. She says it will be very valuable someday after things "fall into place." I guess she means I’ll like looking at it again when I’m older, for nostalgia. The way she likes to look through our old photo albums.

The last thing she said about it was to not let anyone see it until she says so. I don’t know why. I wouldn’t have shown it to anyone anyway though, even if she hadn’t said that.

It’s a really beautiful book. I like the purple cover, and the design on it. It looks regal. Like something a Queen or King would have embroidered on their clothes. I wonder if I could find wallpaper like this. I’d cover a dining room with it.

Anyway, the reason I finally took this thing out of the wrapping is because I finally had something to write about. I went looking for my brother Dyson today, at his friend Justin’s house, and, they were hanging out, like no big deal, anddd you really never would have thought anything bad was about to happen. Dad had sent me over to tell Dyson it was time for dinner. He was running late.

"Hey guys," I said, pulling into the driveway.

"Hey Melody," Dyson said, looking happy.

Justin smiled and nodded my way.

"How’s Goosey doing?" Dyson asked.

"Good," I smiled.

That’s my bike’s name.

The two of them were sitting out there playing music. Justin was strumming on his guitar and Dyson was playing some bongos. They looked so content. The strap on Justin’s guitar looked like a legitimate Native American had made it. I’ll have to ask him about that next time.

"It’s time for dinner," I said. "Dad wanted me to come tell you."

"Ohh yeah… ok," Dyson said, unconcerned. "I’ll be back in a little bit."

"Come on. If I show up without you Dad will fuss at me," I laughed.

But Dyson didn’t answer. He was staring off towards the street. He was watching these four boys make their way down the sidewalk and into Justin’s driveway. They didn’t look friendly. Justin stopped strumming.

One boy was really tall and husky, two were average looking, and the other one, the blonde boy, he was leading the way. The other three stood behind him. He walked right up to Dyson and Justin, with this stupid lollipop in his mouth, and he just stood there for a second. Him and his friends whispered some things to each other and laughed. Is there anything that makes people look more like jerks than that?

"Howdy Dice," he said, finally.

He’d lean in a little when he spoke, and take the lollipop out of his mouth, I guess so he wouldn’t sound silly, and after every time he was done talking his friends would say some things too and nod and stuff. He was complimenting Dyson, but, sarcastically.

"Is this what a gang looks like?" I wondered.

"What are you? The president of my fan club?" Dyson asked, smirking.

"Nope, but, from what I hear, you’re the president of Mandy’s. And, I think you should resign, you know? Unless you want there to be problems," he said, shrugging.

"I don’t need your permission to talk to anybody, Collin."

"See, that right there… that’s where you’re wrong," he said, smiling.

I knew I should go get Dad, but I was afraid Dyson might need my help in the meantime. It’s not like I’m some great fighter, but I can at least bite somebody if it comes down to it. Even with me it was still three against four.

"You should stick to the girls you can impress. Like your girlfriend over there," Collin laughed, pointing at me. "Hey. What’s your name?"

I didn’t say anything. Even if I’d wanted to I don’t think I could have.

"She’s kind of pretty for a mute," he said, cracking himself up.

Dyson took a deep breath. He looked the way he looks when he’s trying to look tough. It was working.

Dyson turned towards Justin, and started saying something, it was hard to hear what, and while he was talking to him he was inching closer to that big mouth Collin. Slowly, bit by bit, until he was practically nose to nose with him.

Then, out of nowhere, Dyson clocks him in the head with his elbow. No warning just wham, "goodnight sucker." Collin fell to the ground, covering up with his hands. I couldn’t tell if he was bleeding. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve never seen anyone get hit so hard.

The tall guy went to see if Collin was all right and the other two boys started wrestling with Dyson and Justin. They got them off pretty quick and for a second it looked like Justin was running inside to get away, but he came back out of the garage holding a bat. That’s when the four of them all got out of there. The three lunkheads carried Collin with them.

Once they were totally gone I realized I had a death grip on my handlebars. I’d just been standing there on the lawn like that the whole time. I tried to relax my hands.

"Hey, Mel, you alright?" Dyson asked, coming over.

"Uh huh… I was over here."

"I know. I just meant… well, I’m glad you’re fine."

I nodded.

"Ok…" he said, smiling. "Hey… uh… don’t mention this to Mom or Dad. Alright?"

"Why?"

"Because I don’t want to worry them over nothing. It’s over now. Everything’s fine," he said, hugging me.

"…Are you sure?"

"‘Course I’m sure. …So, don’t mention this. Ok? Brother sister pact."

"Ok."

And we shook on it.

When Dad asked what the heck took us so long Dyson told him we got caught up playing Mario Brothers. I didn’t say a word.

My name is Melody Marie McDougal. I’m eleven years old now and I’m tall for my age. At least that’s what everyone says. Maybe everyone else in my grade is just short for their age and I’m normal.

My birthday is the 1st of May. My hair is brown and wavy, and thick, and curly at the ends, and it goes down to just past the tops of my shoulders. Sometimes I straighten it when I have the time and the patience. I have dark brown eyes. My Mom says they look just like my Grandma’s, but I honestly don’t see the resemblance.

My Dad came up with my name. He said he always wished he had musical talent, so he figured naming me this would give me some help in that department.

"Parents want their kids to be more successful than they themselves are," he told me.

My brother is the one who actually plays an instrument though. Guitar. He’s been playing for about five years now. Maybe there weren’t any boy names that had to do with music. I’m not sure who else will ever read this in the end, but maybe they’ll want to know these things. Everything I can think of right?

Mom has me doing more work than ever lately. Ever since we moved here she’s been cranking it up, and now she says it’s time to "take another big step" since I’m going into sixth grade. Dyson says he feels bad for me but I honestly don’t mind. I get to see Mom all the time this way. We’re a team. Back home she used to work for a TV station. She was always so busy. She was their anchor.

When Mom found out that I was forgetting my homework and bombing my tests on purpose, so I wouldn’t get teased anymore, she was ticked to say the least. That was about five months ago.

"If it’s those kids that are the problem then we’re going to take them out of the equation," she said. "I haven’t exactly been in love with your teachers either. …I don’t think you’ll be going back to Briarwood in the Fall."

She said it was time for a change. She said it was destiny.

"No daughter of mine is going to sell herself short just because her classmates are a bunch of jealous, ignorant, rude little—"

"But they’re my friends," I said.

She looked at me like I was nutso.

"Some friends," she scoffed. "Friends don’t hold you back dear. Friends encourage you. When you’re friends with someone you shouldn’t have to worry about them making fun of you for wanting to succeed."

"They really don’t do it that much."

"You’ve been telling me all about it for months," she said, annoyed. "Everything those little jerks do to you. And I’ve been retelling it to your school because for some reason they don’t want to believe you. Did you forget?"

"This is already my second school."

"It’s in the past now Melody. It’s decided, ok? We’re moving on. There are bigger and better things ahead. I think the fresh start will be good for you."

"We already had a fresh start when we got here."

"Well another one can’t hurt."

"But, there are actually some things I like about—"

"That school can’t give you the resources you need," she said, calmly. "Alright? Trust me. I love you."

"I love you too."

So Mom put me in a different school. Briarwood was right down the street, but this one is about fifteen minutes away. It’s called "The Independent Learning Academy." It’s on Allen Road, wherever that is. Apparently there are only around 175 kids that go there. It goes from fifth grade to eighth. I can’t believe it’s only a few weeks away. I keep thinking it’s not really going to happen. Like the first day of school will come and I won’t really have to go there.

It’s practically the end of Summer already and I haven’t even really seen my Briarwood friends at all since school let out. I can never get a hold of them. I guess they’re at camp or something. That’s what Aimee’s Mom says at least, whenever I call there.

Dad wasn’t too thrilled that Mom signed me up for a different school so suddenly, but one night, after they were done arguing about it, he said, "Your Mom’s very passionate about your education kiddo. She just wants you to be the best you can be. Your new school sounds pretty great."

So I guess he’s ok with it now. And I guess he wanted me to be too.

This will make three different schools in three school years. After fourth grade we moved here because Dad got a new job. We’re living in Burlington Vermont now. We’re originally from Maryland. Ocean City specifically. Dad used to own his own big time restaurant in town there but we left because he wanted to try something new.

"I needed a change of scenery," he always says.

I’ll never forget the way he explained it.

"You know the etch a sketch?" he asked.

"Yeah."

"Well, sometimes, you’ve gotta shake it up, so you can draw a new, better picture. Right?"

"Not if you already have a good one on there in the first place. In that case you don’t touch it."

"Sometimes you do, even if you have a good one on there already. So you can make an even better picture. You know?"

"…"

During the Winter he works at one of the resorts here. Majesty Mountain it’s called. It’s only a little less than an hour away. He’s a manager at one of their restaurants, "The Summit." He works there Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. He says someone else works the other days. He got Dyson discount snowboarding lessons there last season. He tried skiing at first but he likes the snowboard a lot better. He says it’s more stable feeling when you only have one thing to worry about. What he really wants to do is drive. He’ll be 16 at the end of April.

All this Summer Dad had to work at the water company doing quality control. That’s what he’s still doing now, until the ski season comes back again. He doesn’t like it much.

"Not much room for creativity," he says.

Last Summer he was renting out a beach house he bought back in Ocean City and he didn’t have to work anywhere else at all. It was nice. He was around all the time and we even went down there and stayed in the house for two weeks! I didn’t want to leave again. I kept hoping someone would yell ‘surprise’ and then tell me we were back for good. They’d say we were staying and that the move had just been to teach me about appreciating what you have. But I’d tell them, "I already did. Even before all this."

When we got back to Vermont I stayed in my room the whole rest of that night and cried into my stuffed animals. I tried to act like leaving again didn’t bother me but I don’t know if I actually did a good job. I’m not a very skilled actress. As we were packing up I kept saying things like, "We’ll probably come back again soon" and "We won’t be gone long." But nobody said anything. Sometimes you’re just dying to have someone agree with you, but then nobody does.

My room there reminded me of my real room. In our original house. Dad sold that new place already though, right at the end of last Summer.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my room here too… it’s comfortable and all… it just isn’t the same. But it’s quiet and I can lie in my bed under the covers and nobody bothers me. Mom even let me choose which colors to paint my walls when we first moved here. They were light blue but that color makes me feel so cold and sad I had to get rid of it. That’s a color hospital bed sheets would be. The sky looks nice of course though. I’m not saying you change that. So we turned my room purple and red, two walls each, and it looks so much better now.

"Interesting choices," Mom said.

"Are you gonna paint your room like this?"

"Maybe," she said. "I’ll see what your father thinks."

"Tell me if he says no. I’ll talk him into it."

"Will you now?" she asked, laughing a little.