Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Book excerpt - THE SUMMER OF COTTON CANDY by Debbie Viguié

Today's Wild Card author is:




and her book:



The Summer of Cotton Candy



Zondervan (May 1, 2008)


Most people think The Zone is an amusement park, but Candy Thompson knows it’s really a slave labor camp. What else would you call a summer job that requires a sixteen-year-old girl to set aside her whole social life for the privilege of standing out in the hot sun selling cotton candy? Still, there are perks—particularly the mysterious hunk in the Lone Ranger costume. Behind that mask are the most amazing eyes Candy has ever seen. Who is that masked man? But someone else is just as interested. And romantic competition isn’t the only problem. Besides being hard work, The Zone is eating up major time. How is Candy supposed to stay involved in church? Worse yet, will she lose her best friend, Tamara, who resents how Candy’s job limits their time together? This is NOT the summer Candy hoped for! But as she is about to discover, the summer of cotton candy will be the greatest summer of her life.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Debbie Viguié has been writing for most of her life and holds a degree in creative writing from U. C. Davis. Debbie loves theme parks and has worked at both Knott's Berry Farm and Disneyland in California. When Debbie is not busy writing, she enjoys traveling with her husband, Scott. Debbie grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and now lives in Hawaii.

Other Sweet Seasons Novels:

The Fall of Candy Corn
The Winter of Candy Canes


Product Information:

List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (May 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 031071558X
ISBN-13: 978-0310715580

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Chapter One

Candace Thompson wondered where her life had gone wrong. Maybe when she was fourteen, she should have babysat her bratty cousin when her parents asked. Maybe when she was seven, if she hadn’t locked the teacher out of the classroom, this wouldn’t be happening to her. No, maybe her life went all wrong when she was three and she knocked down the girl with the pigtails who had stolen Mr. Huggles, her stuffed bear. Yes, the more she thought about it, that must have been the moment that started her on the path that led to the special punishment she was now suffering.

It was the first day of summer vacation, but for Candace, it might as well have been the last. She sat in a dark dreary office, signing away her freedom. The decree had come down from her father: she had to get a job. No job, no cash. No cash, no movies or hanging with her friends. It didn’t matter to him that if she had a job she wouldn’t have time to do the things she would need the money for.

She took a deep breath as she finished filling out the last form and handed it across the desk to the recruiter, Lloyd Peterson, a strange-looking man in a frumpy brown suit whom she was convinced had to be a perv. Hadn’t she seen him on America’s Most Wanted? She slid down into her seat, willing herself to be invisible, or at least small enough to slip away unnoticed.

“Candace,” he mused, “can I call you Candy?”

“Well ...” She was about to say no. She hated that name.

“Great. So, Candy, what makes you want to work for The Zone?”

She didn’t want to work for The Zone, she just wanted to enjoy her summer like everybody else. Her father had put his foot down, though. According to him it was time she learned the value of work and earning her own way. She had chosen to work for The Zone because she had absolutely no skills, and working for a theme park seemed more interesting than flipping burgers.

She sighed and squirmed, refusing to meet the recruiter’s eyes. “I’ve always dreamed of working for The Zone. I want to be part of the excitement and help -people enjoy themselves more.” It was her rehearsed answer, and she held her breath, hoping he would buy it.

He stared at her for a long minute before nodding. Picking up a bright blue folder on his desk, he flipped it open and cleared his throat. “You realize, of course, that if you wanted a summer job, you should have started applying months ago, right?” he asked, staring at her over the tops of his glasses.

She slunk farther down into her chair. She licked her lips when she realized he expected an answer. “No,” she said.

“No? No? Well, you are wrong. In order to get a good summer job, you should start applying at least in March.”

March! All I could think of in March was holding out until spring break without going postal. Her eyes were now nearly level with the edge of his desk. “I just thought, you know, The Zone needs a lot of employees.”

“You are correct, but most of our summer positions have already been filled.”

He stopped and stared at her. She wasn’t sure what he expected her to say, but she was beginning to have the sinking feeling that her summer would consist of asking -people if they wanted fries with their meal.

Just as she was about to get up to leave, sure that the interview had come to an end, he spoke. “We do, however, have two openings.”

She sat up. “What are they?”

“The first is janitorial.”

“You mean those -people who go around sweeping up after everyone?” That might not be so bad. At least I could keep moving, and nobody ever pays attention to them.

He raised an eyebrow. “Some of our janitorial employees do that, but not this position. This one is cleaning up the women’s restrooms.”

Candace’s stomach turned. In her mind she pictured the high-school bathroom by fourth period, and that was only with a few hundred users, not thousands. There was no way she was going there.

“Um, and the other one is ...?” she managed to ask as diplomatically as she could.

“Cotton candy operator.”

“I’ll take it!” she exclaimed, more loudly than she had meant to.

“Good!” Lloyd stood up and opened a drawer in one of his many filing cabinets. He pulled out a stack of papers two inches thick and slammed them down on his desk right in front of her. The desk continued to shake for a moment as though there had just been an earthquake. “Fill those out.”

“Now?” she asked, her mind boggling over the enormity of the task. She moved slightly so that she was eye level with the stack, and she could feel her hand begin to cramp up in premature protest.

“Yes, now. You can, however, use the table in the courtyard if you’d be more comfortable.”

The word duh came to mind, but she bit her tongue and kept it to herself.

“Yes, sir, thank you. I’ll do that,” she said instead, scrambling to her feet and grabbing the stack of papers. She made her way out of the room as fast as she could, taking a deep breath once in the hallway.

The hallways around this place are roomier than the offices, she thought to herself as she immediately began to feel less claustrophobic. She turned around, not sure which way the courtyard would be. She hadn’t seen one on her way in, so it must be in the other direction.

She came to a T in the hall and craned her neck to the right. All she could see that way were more offices, so she turned to the left ...

... and ran straight into a six-foot wall.

“Umph,” the wall gasped as Candace’s papers went flying in all directions.

“I am so sorry,” Candace said, realizing that the wall she had run into was actually a guy, a big guy, a guy with muscles she could see through his shirt. She looked up and forgot what she was going to say next. She was staring at the Lone Ranger. He stood there, larger than life in pale blue, complete with boots and gun belt. Black wavy hair shone from underneath a white hat pushed far back on his head. A black mask covered part of his face.

All this was not what stopped her in her tracks, though. What took her breath away and caused her to stare like an idiot were his eyes. He had amazing eyes that were bright blue and crackled like lightning. He stared right through her, and her heart began to hammer.

“I—I—”

He smiled at her, and she felt dizzy. “Are you lost, my lady?”

She nodded, still unable to look away from those piercing eyes.

“Here, let me help you,” he said, bending down.

For one dizzying moment his face came close to hers, and she thought he was going to kiss her just like in some movie. Instead of kissing her, though, he knelt down and began picking up her papers.

Idiot, she said to herself, feeling her cheeks burning. Her knees began to buckle, and she covered it by quickly dropping down to her knees and scooping up some of the papers that had managed to spread themselves across the width of the hall.

“I’m such a klutz,” she said.

“Not at all. How could you expect to run into something when you’re not looking where you’re going?”

She glanced up quickly, stunned at the rebuke. Then she noticed that he was grinning from ear to ear. They both burst out laughing.

“That should do it,” he said finally, handing her the last sheet of paper. His fingers brushed hers, and she felt her stomach do a flip-flop.

“Thanks.”

“So, where are you headed?”

“Um, um,” she stammered for a moment, her mind going completely blank.

“I take it you’re filling these out?” he said, tapping the stack of papers.

She nodded, relieved as she remembered, “Something was said about a courtyard that had a table.”

“I’ll show you where it is.”

She fell into step with him, and he led her down the corridor. They made three quick turns in a row and arrived at a door leading out to what truly was a small courtyard.

“There you go,” he said, holding the door open for her. She walked outside into the sun and plunked her papers down onto a table.

“Thanks.”

“I live to serve.”

She couldn’t think of something witty to say, so she just stared at him.

He winked at her. “I’ll see you around.”

Then he turned and left. She sank down into the chair, her knees feeling weak. “Who was that masked man?”

˝

Four hours and three phone calls to her father later, Candace finished filling out the application. She stacked up the tax forms, identity forms, nondisclosure forms, noncompetition agreements, and receipt-of-employee-handbook forms. And with a snort, she put the background check and financial disclosure form on top of the whole stack. She was seventeen, and she had no finances to disclose. She’d had a momentary panic about the background check until she realized they were looking for things like a criminal background or drug use and wouldn’t be interested in the fact that she’d had detention twice in seventh grade.

She flipped back through the employee handbook. It was over a hundred pages long. After reading through it, she realized that The Zone had a policy and procedure for absolutely everything. They even had three different emergency-evacuation plans, depending on whether it was fire, weapons problems, or natural disasters. Clearly the -people who worked on the handbook were paranoid, and now, after reading it, so was she.

She dragged herself to her feet, her stomach angrily reminding her that lunch had been hours before and she had missed it. She miraculously made her way back through the maze of corridors to Mr. Peterson’s office. He was speaking on the phone, so she stood in the doorway until he looked up and saw her.

He hung up the phone. “Come in, Candy. I take it you’re done?”

She nodded, handing him the stack.

“Excellent. Well, I’ll take a look at all these. I’m sure they’re in order. Let me just get copies of your driver’s license and social security card.”

She fished them out of her purse and handed them to him. He left the office for a minute and then returned with photocopies. He handed her cards back to her.

“Okay, you’ll start orientation tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?” she asked.

“Yes, is there a problem with that?” he asked sharply.

“I just thought I’d have a -couple of days before—”

“Tomorrow’s our last orientation class for the summer. It’s either tomorrow or never.”

Never wasn’t an option, no matter how much she wanted it to be. A vision of a certain masked man flitted briefly through her mind. Then again, maybe this wasn’t going to be so bad after all.

“Tomorrow. Tomorrow is fine for me,” she said.

“Report to the lobby at seven forty a.m.”

There went any hope she had of sleeping in, probably forever. She sighed and nodded.

˝

“What do you mean you have to be home early tonight?” Candace’s best friend, Tamara Wilcox, huffed over the phone. “I thought we were hanging out?”

“We can still hang. I just need to get some sleep. I have to start work early in the morning,” Candace explained. She flipped onto her back and braced her legs against the wall next to her bed.

There was only silence on the other end of the phone.

“Tam, you still there?”

“Uh-huh. Meet me at Starbucks.”

“Can’t. I’m getting a job to earn summer spending money, and Dad won’t give me an advance.”

“I’m buying. Just get your butt over here.”


˝

Ten minutes later Candace was sitting down at a corner table where Tamara was already waiting for her. Without a word, Tamara slid a grande hot chocolate with a shot of raspberry across the table to her.

Candace blew through the tiny opening in the lid like she always did. Tonight, though, the whistling sound it produced didn’t make her smile. She was too busy trying to avoid looking at the daggers in Tamara’s eyes.

“So, you’re ditching me for the summer?”

“No, just five days a week. I should be free evenings and weekends.”

“Did they guarantee that?”

“Well, no, but they said it would likely be that. They couldn’t expect me to work during church, you know?”

Tamara crossed her arms over her chest, a sure sign she wasn’t buying it. “And what about youth group? Even if they don’t make you work Sunday morning they’re going to make you work Friday nights.”

“I should be free evenings,” Candace said, slinking down into her seat and hating that she was repeating herself. Somehow, it sounded less plausible than it had earlier in the recruiter’s office.

“And if you’re not? It’s bad enough you’re going to be blowing off church and youth group, but what about me? I’m your best friend. What kind of summer am I going to have without you?”

“Come on, no matter what hours I get, it will only be thirty-five a week. We can still do all kinds of stuff. And I’ll have the money to pay for it,” Candace said with a sigh. It was amazing sometimes how Tamara could turn anyone’s pain into her own.

Tamara uncrossed her arms and leaned forward, tapping one perfectly manicured nail on the table. “You know, if money is the issue, I can take care of that.”

Candace stared at her. Tamara was rich. Her whole family was. Her monthly allowance was more than some -people made in a year. Candace knew she was serious, and it was a tempting offer.

“I can’t,” she said at last, tears of frustration filling her eyes. “My dad would kill me.”

Tamara sat back, a disappointed look on her face. “Oh, is he pulling that rite-of-passage, learn-the-value-of-work crap on you?”

Candace nodded and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. “Yeah, he’d freak if I backed out. And I don’t think you’re prepared to pay for my college tuition.”

Tamara laughed. “Would it get you to bail on this whole Zone thing?”

Candace scowled. “He’s my dad. What can I do?”

“Nothing,” Tamara said, shaking her head. “Parents are so much work.”


AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR


What inspired you to write The Summer of Cotton Candy?

My husband, Scott, and I love theme parks. We have held annual passes to a dozen different parks. Someday we would love to build our own. That was the inspiration for creating The Zone, a place where education and excitement meet. I have worked for two different theme parks and a church (among other jobs). What is interesting about working at one of those two places is that you are working somewhere a lot of people go when they're not working. How many people get paid to go to church? How many people get paid to go to a theme park? A lot, actually, but both settings seem more exotic and strange when you're working there. I thought the theme park was a perfect place for Candace to learn and grow. There's a sense of hyper-reality to working in a theme park. Personalities, conflicts, everything seems exaggerated when you work someplace like that. As such it is a good testing ground to learn who you are and what you believe.

Do you have a favorite scene from the book?

The Scavenger Hunt. I laughed myself silly writing that one.

Do we "see" some of you in your characters?

It's nearly impossible for an author to take themselves completely out of a story. There is an amazing amount of bleed over and often where you'd least expect it. There's a tiny piece of me in many of my characters but you have to know what you're looking for. In this book particularly, though, there are two things that come to mind.

First is the scene where Candace tries to win a stuffed animal at the ring toss game. I don't know how much money I've spent over the years at carnivals, fairs, and amusement parks trying to win that game! I've won stuffed animals at every other game, but never that one. It drives me crazy and I let Candace share my frustration. Then I let her have the victory over it that I wish I could have!

Second is in the character of Becca. The character of Becca is a combination of people I know, one of whom is me. I am allergic to Vitamin C. When I drink orange juice I become completely hyper and out of control just like Becca does when she has sugar. It's a well-known fact among my friends who have often exploited it by providing or denying me orange juice depending upon what their goal was. Too much orange juice and I'm practically swinging from the chandelier!

If you were casting actors for a movie of The Summer of Cotton Candy, who would you choose?

This is a constant topic of discussion in my house!

Candace - I could see Christy Carlson Romano, Miley Cyrus or Olesya Rulin as Candace.

Becca - Ashley Tisdale would make a great Becca.

Kurt – Sebastian Stan and Michael Cassidy are possibilities.

Josh – I kind of like Justin Hartley for the role

Gib - Gib would have to be played by Kevin McNally. I actually wrote that character with him in mind.

Tamara - I envision Tamara as having Raven's voice but she looks very different so Raven wouldn't really be right to play her. Shanica Knowles might be able to pull it off.

Do you read Christian fiction yourself? If so, some favorite authors or books both Christian and/or secular?

I read Frank Peretti. I wish I was independently wealthy and could pay the man to write another sequel to This Present Darkness. Generally speaking, my reading tastes are eclectic to say the least. My favorite author is western author Zane Grey and my favorite book of his is The Lone Star Ranger. For mysteries I like Dorothy Gillman's Mrs. Pollifax books, particularly the first one. For young adult books two of my first loves - Walter Farley (The Black Stallion) and Jim Kjelgaard (Snow Dog) - still shine bright.

Can you share a little of your own personal faith journey with us?

I was a pew baby, born and raised in the church. I actually remember the day I accepted Christ as my Savior. I was four. I take my faith very personally and believe that the relationship aspect is critical. I have seen God perform miracles in my life and lives around me. I believe that too many people spend too much time playing at being a Christian and not enough time living as one. Being a Christian should color who you are at the deepest level and be an intrinsic part of your personality. I've seen too many people who only talked to God on Sundays or when they thought someone else was looking.

I also believe that there is a freedom that comes from living in Christ that you can't get anywhere else. I'm often the lone Christian in a group of people who have a seriously damaged view of Christians. More than once people have told me, "You can't be a Christian" followed by "you're not preachy", "you're too nice", "you are fun to be around", "you are hyper" or something similar. It surprises me time and again that so many Christians are working so hard to keep themselves living in an ivory tower away from the world that they don't even notice the pain and longing of those around them. The best way to minister to people is to walk among them and try to understand them. That doesn't mean acting like them, it just means allowing yourself to be approachable and friendly. When you live your faith you'll be surprised at how many people want to talk to you about it. If you try to talk your faith, you'll find yourself speaking to an empty room.

Can you tell us what's on your desk right now? What can readers look forward to in the years to come?

Another fun, quirky YA series that readers of Sweet Seasons will love! I'm also working on a Christian mystery series.

Please briefly describe your latest book:

Girl. Job. Theme park.

Too brief? Kidding aside, The Summer of Cotton Candy is about a girl who gets her first summer job working for a theme park. She doesn't want to be there and one thing after another goes horribly wrong. Slowly, though, she begins to make friends, find her routine, and even gets a boyfriend. It's the most chaotic summer of her life and not at all what she wanted but it turns out to be exactly what she needed.

What do you want your readers to take away from this book?

My number one priority is that readers have fun. Life is stressful enough I don't need to put anything heavy on them. I believe that entertainment should have as its primary goal to entertain. If I've accomplished that, then I'm happy. However, if I can show readers that personal growth, though painful, is worth it and that faith is a real, living, breathing thing then I consider that a bonus! The series has themes of self-discovery, being true to yourself, and living your faith in a way that's real. It would be nice if those helped somebody along the way. If all I accomplish, though, is taking one person out of a terrible day and allowing them to laugh then it's all worth it.

Where do you like to write your books (in bed, a coffee shop, an office)?

I love this question! The answer is: anywhere that I can! Seriously, probably ninety percent of the actual writing is done on the computer with the other ten percent scribbled out in restaurants, waiting rooms, cars, etc. When it comes to thinking about the stories and working out plot points, though, take those numbers and flip them! I'm most creative when I'm not home. My husband and I will go to the beach or a restaurant and talk over the story. I take home a lot of paper placemats and napkins filled with scribbled notes!

Your favorite book, and why?

The Lone Star Ranger by Zane Grey. He's my favorite author and it was the first of his books that I read. I love westerns and he is the master of them. I love the story because it's about redemption and also has a lot of action and romance in it as well.

What book are you currently reading?

None, sadly. Writing leaves me very little time for reading.

What are you working on now? (If you can tell us)

Another fun, quirky YA series that readers of Sweet Seasons will love! I'm also working on a Christian mystery series.

What one tip would you give to any of our readers who want to become writers?

Persevere! Don't let yourself get discouraged by rejection or criticism. The way to become a published writer is just to keep working at it. Eventually you'll meet the right person who loves your writing. Until then, work at making that writing as strong as you can. Count every rejection letter as a friend that gets you one step closer to your acceptance letter.

Why did you choose a young adult audience?

To be honest, I didn't. The first series of books I had the opportunity to write with Nancy Holder I had no clue were targeted to YA until we were halfway through writing the third one. My experience there has led me to other YA projects. I would have to say, though, that at least half the fan mail I get is from adults. I don't write anything that can't be enjoyed by people of any age.

That said, I think I do well with books targeted towards teens because in many ways I'm still a teenager. I dress like I'm seventeen, right down to my babydoll Supergirl shirts. I engage in the same types of social activities (lots of shopping and movie watching) as I did then with friends who are likeminded. I tell all my secrets to my stuffed animals, which I still collect. My close friends and I have annual girls only slumber parties even though most of us are married and some have kids. We stay up all night playing games (including Truth or Dare!), laughing, and pigging out. My career has allowed me to keep a schedule that looks more like that of a college student, including pulling all-nighters to get a project done. I also follow current pop culture trends, not because I have to, but because I enjoy it. I'm a fan of Hannah Montana. I couldn't go to one of the concerts and our island doesn't have an IMAX screen so my husband took me over to Oahu so we could see the 3-D movie of the concert. (Scott so rocks, by the way!) I often joke that I am my target audience.

Do you consider writing more of a career or a ministry?

Writing is both. I know, that's cheating to say that, but it's true. I write novels as a career. I write a lot of other things as more of a ministry which I share with friends, family and strangers. Eventually I would like to find ways to marry the two. For example, I've done an Advent devotional for the church I used to work for and family and friends. Someday I'd like to do another one and sell it to a publisher so that it can find its way into bookstores.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? How did you go from there to becoming a writer?

Growing up I knew I wanted to either be a veterinarian or a writer (or both like James Herriot). I wrote a lot as a kid - everything from poetry to short stories to novels. Eventually I went to U.C. Davis where I was on the pre-vet track. The end of my junior year I switched over and became an English major. The rest was a lot of hard work, constant writing, and networking.

Do you have any future plans to retire from writing to do something else? What?

I have yet to meet a professional writer who retired from it. I'm sure one or two exist, but I've never heard of it. A writer writes regardless of what else is going on in their life. It's a compulsion. I see myself doing other things down the road to enhance my life but none of them would have me retire from writing.

Which of your characters would you most like to be?

In this book I'd like to be Tamara. I enjoy spoiling family and friends and wish I had more time and money to do both.

What Biblical truth are you trying to convey to your audience in this book?

Ecclesiastes 3:1 states that "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven". Life is not static, it does not stand still no matter how much we wish it would. Everything happens in its season and that's one of the things Candace has to learn throughout the series. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 concludes "I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God." I like the last part that the good of a person's labor is the gift of God. Candace won't fully understand much of the good of her labor until closer to the end of the series.

Do you have any quirky habits or rituals that you observe while you are working on a writing project?

Every time a deadline is looming and I have a lot of writing to do I get a 12 pack of Coke and a jumbo box of Cheez-its. People see those on my desk they know not to interrupt because I'm probably in the middle of pulling an all-nighter!

When we've finished this interview, what would you like your audience to remember about you?

That I have more books coming out that they should definitely buy. :)

About me specifically that I'm a person of great passion and intense spiritual beliefs who thinks that you should seize the opportunity to have crazy fun whenever you can because joyful is the man whose God is the Lord!

Do you have any parting words?

Don't be afraid to be yourself. When you are free to do that then and only then will you find the friends, relationships, and opportunities in life that will be truly meaningful. True friends will love you for what's real.





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1 comment :

  1. This was way cool. I can't wait to see what lessons she learns

    ReplyDelete

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