Chester Phillips is building a hot air balloon, and if it's made out of filmy shower curtains, defunct office fans, and a corroded bike frame, so be it. He's going to fly it around the world anyway. Although the town's notorious dumpster diver isn't above sacrificing dignity and cleanliness in search of parts, Chester maintains one rule: he only takes things that no one else wants.
When a mysterious man offers to fund Chester's around the world trip in exchange for an errand, Chester has no idea that he'll be breaking his cardinal rule by accepting. Chester is sent to fetch a battered scuba tank and deliver it to San Francisco. No one bothered to tell him that the tank housed a beautiful, if somewhat dry and aloof, genie.
Unfortunately, "finders keepers" isn't exactly honored among the non-dumpster diving community, and now the genie's thuggish masters are coming after Chester.
Chester never wanted to be a thief, but as his friendship with the genie grows, he realizes that he can never let her fall back into her masters' cruel clutches.
There's only one way to ensure that she'll be safe, and it involves a hot air balloon adventure.
BALLOONING is a 57,000-word fantasy adventure novel for upper middle grade readers. It was featured as a semi-finalist in the Young Adult Novel Discovery Contest hosted by Regina Brooks and Gotham Writers' Workshop.
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First 150 Words:
Chester's uncle laced his fingers into a stirrup. Chester stepped into it, and his uncle boosted him into the dumpster.
He landed on a mattress of black trash bags and was immediately absorbed as if he'd fallen into a large beanbag chair. The contents crinkled. He kicked to right himself, and rusted metal flaked away from the inner walls. The interior of the dumpster smelled like plastic packaging and spoiled fruit.
“See anything good?” Uncle Trent held a flashlight above his head. He slowly panned its beam across the interior of the dumpster.
Chester floundered in the bog of swollen bags. If he had the choice, he definitely preferred commercial dumpsters to private ones. For one thing, businesses generally bagged their trash. Once, while launching himself into an individual's trash bin, he'd ended up with a mouth full of diaper. He hoped never to repeat the experience.
I am a thirty-something writer and mom of two.
I write YA fiction and am repped by Sarah Lapolla of the Bradford Literary Agency.
I love, in no particular order: Watching my kids sleep, reading anything that will take me out of real life for a bit, spending time with my family and sharing this writing journey with fabulous people like you!