Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Candy Sky Tells a Lie Tour and Giveaway

 


Candy Sky Tells a Lie

by Shanna P. Lowe

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy


Candice “Candy” Sky is a thirteen-year-old girl with a lying streak. She hides her poor grades from her parents, she fibs about having a famous cousin, and she claims that rising pop singer Elijah Nole is her boyfriend.

Unfortunately, after lying to her English teacher, a rumored witch, Candy is cursed to live in a world where all of her lies come true. At first, Candy has everything she has ever wanted—designer clothes, popularity, straight A's, and Elijah Nole as her boyfriend!

However, Candy’s lies put her and those she cares about into many dangerous situations. What's worse? In the "Cursed World," Candy is her best friend's bully.

Can Candy break the curse…or will she be forced to live with her lies forever?


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To the Parents or Guardians of Candice Sky,

 

I am writing to you out of concern for your

daughter’s missing project due last Monday.

She claims that a pipe in the bathroom broke,

flooding the apartment and soiling her project.

If you could confirm her story, I would be 

happy to give Candice extra time on this project.


Candice is such a joy to have in class.

I look forward to her success!


Sincerely, 

Mrs. Gulligan

7th & 8th Grade 

English Teacher




To the Parents or Guardians of Candice Sky,


I am writing to you out of concern for your 

daughter’s study guide for an upcoming test.

She insisted that it, and I quote, 

“had a bath in the fryer and was served 

to a customer” at a local fast food restaurant. 

I struggle to understand her story, so if you 

could contact me for clarification, that would

be appreciated. Thank you!


Candice is such a joy to have in class.

I look forward to her success!


Sincerely, 

Mrs. Gulligan

7th & 8th Grade 

English Teacher

To the Parents or Guardians of Candice Sky,


I am writing to you out of concern for your 

daughter’s failed test. Her latest anecdote 

has her stranded on a boat after hitting

an iceberg that destroyed the motor. 

Because she had to wait most of the night 

for a rescue boat, she was too exhausted to 

focus on the exam. Forgive me for saying I 

find the story a bit unbelievable. Please 

contact me at your earliest convenience.


Candice is such a joy in class.

I look forward to her success!


Sincerely, 

Mrs. Gulligan

7th & 8th Grade 

English Teacher




To the Parents or Guardians of Candice Sky,


I have yet to hear from you regarding your

daughter’s missing assignments and grades.

Perhaps email is not the best mode of 

communication. I will be calling to set up a 

parent-teacher conference. Let me know what

time works best for you. 


Thank you.


Sincerely, 

Mrs. Gulligan

7th & 8th Grade 

English Teacher






ONE

My Little Secret


Neiwood School District

Neiwood, CA

Missed Calls (2)


Mom’s phone rings again. I jab the red end-call button and swallow. Air grinds down my throat like bare skin on a dry tube slide. Why does Mrs. Gulligan have to be so persistent?

I listen for the running shower from the only bathroom in our apartment, praying Mom takes her time under the hot spray. My foot ricochets against the hardwood floor of the den with nervous energy. I can’t even concentrate on my favorite show, Young, Bold, and Beautiful, as it plays on the wall-mounted television. It trails several tween fashion designers sewing and piecing together outfits for models. It’s the premiere of the newest season, something I’ve been counting down to for months. Now, I’d have to watch the recording later.

Thanks, Mrs. Gulligan.

This is all because of that ridiculous essay due yesterday. The one focusing on a book I may or may not have read. I can’t help it, though! I have seven classes to manage. Seven. No one should put that kind of pressure on a thirteen-year-old. 

I press my finger against the touchpad and watch the screen unlock. Mom doesn’t know I saved my fingerprint on her phone. As I open her email app, I remember the test I flunked last week. Twenty-five multiple choice questions followed by three essay questions. Anyone who can finish that in fifty minutes isn’t human.

There are also a few assignments that slipped my mind earlier this month. And the other essay from a while back. Again, seven classes. Mrs. Gulligan can’t blame me.

I open a blank email and type:


Dear Mrs. Gulligan


What would Mom say to my English teacher? I chuckle uneasily. I’d be dead if she actually knew about my grades. Not really. She would probably ship me off to Grandma Carrie for fall break, grounded inside her house of creepy antique dolls and an ungodly amount of shrieking parrots. Mom has done it before. I still have nightmares from decades of dust and feathers—dead, glassy eyes following my every movement.

I glance at the bathroom door on the corner of the hallway that leads to our bedrooms. Steam rises out from the crack at the bottom and wafts through the den, making the air hot and uncomfortably humid. Good. Keep showering, Mom.


Dear Mrs. Gulligan,

Sorry to have missed your calls. I am a flight

attendant and spend most of my time on an

airplane.


That’s sort of the truth. Mom does occasionally work as a flight attendant when someone calls out sick or has a family emergency. Usually, she’s a reserve, checking people in at the gate while on standby. She goes on, maybe, four or five flights a year.


Contacting me by phone will not work due

to my busy schedule and constant change 

in time zones. Please continue to email.


Emails are easy to delete. Phone calls? Not so much. They’re dangerous.


As for your concerns regarding my daughter

Candy, I can safely vouch for every incident

she has claimed. She has such bad luck.


Bad luck when it comes to English teachers. Why can’t Mrs. Gulligan leave me alone like the others? They hardly bat an eye when I miss an assignment, opting for communication through the online parent portal (which mysteriously had a glitch that changed the password at the beginning of the school year).

Perhaps her persistence could have something to do with the rumors circulating about her.

My best friend Maggie swears on her life that Mrs. Gilligan is a witch. A living, breathing, cauldron-stirring, broom-riding, frog-eating witch.

Maggie claims that Mrs. Gulligan cursed a boy named Sayer Lafayette after he was caught paying classmates to write his papers. Every dollar bill he touched turned into dried leaves. Coins became acorn caps. If that wasn’t enough, his perfectly smooth angel face grew massive boils that oozed greenish white pus. No one could look at him without gagging. 

Do I believe Maggie? Absolutely not.

If she were a witch, Mrs. Gulligan would have found a way to contact my parents.


Please grant Candy extra time for these 

assignments. I’ll make sure she gets them 

done by the end of September.


Sincerely,

Samantha Sky


My thumb hovers over the send button. I re-read the email, double-checking for errors and clarity. I certainly sound like my mother. Prim and proper. Practically her middle name.

A wormy sliver of doubt wriggles in my mind, softening my earlier determination. This email will officially open a line of communication between Mom and Mrs. Gulligan. Bile rises at the realization. “Mom” must admit to reading the other emails.

I picture the email tennis match I’ll have to play in that scenario.

By not replying, Mrs. Gulligan might actually give up. Eventually. Hopefully.

With a sigh, I tap the trash icon. I have to prevent Mom from answering Mrs. Gulligan’s calls somehow. There’s more at stake than a summer with Grandma Carrie.

The Fall Equinox Dance.

When fliers for the dance appeared around school, I secretly ripped one from a bulletin board and taped it to my bathroom mirror. I read the flier every morning, planning what will be the greatest moment of my life. 

Unlike other middle school dances where the dress code calls for jeans and t-shirts, the Fall Equinox Dance mimics a high school prom. Only eighth graders are allowed to attend. We get to wear dresses and heels and make-up and doll our hair up with spray and shimmer and–

I exhale noisily, a tornado of fantasies leaving me winded. I’ve seen these dances all the time in movies, but to actually experience one? The idea leaves goosebumps on my skin. It’s not just because it’s a day dedicated to glamor and DJ tunes. I’ll fulfill a lifelong dream of mine.

Perhaps not lifelong. But I have daydreamed about it since starting middle school.

The dream?

A boyfriend.

And not just any boyfriend.

Elijah Nole.

The rising pop singer who happens to be in the same grade at my middle school.

I met Elijah in-person on the second day of sixth grade. Or rather, his soccer ball met my face during PE, knocking me clear off my feet. Dazed and bleeding from my nose, I barely recognized Elijah helping me up and dusting me off until I was inches away from his warm amber eyes and worried frown. His voice, asking me if I was okay, was as calming as rain pattering against leaves. His touch a comfortable sea breeze. His presence was like taking a bite of the world’s finest chocolate, hazelnut-ganache center and all. I wanted more.

My dream is for Elijah to sweep me off my feet and, quite possibly, share a first kiss with. To rest a hand on my hip on the dance floor, lean me backwards, gaze into my eyes, and whisper, “Candy Sky, you’re the only girl for me.”

Blood rushes to my cheeks. I squeal and hide my face in my hands.

“What are you doing on my phone?”

I jolt. The phone slips from my fingers and clatters face down on the floor. I scramble for it, chest heaving. I check for damages (and if I actually deleted that email). The screen is black except for the time and lock icon. I can’t use my fingerprint with Mom watching me from the bathroom door.

Her arms cross over her plush robe. A towel twists on the top of her head, drying her brown hair.

When did the water turn off?

“Seriously, what are you doing?” She plods over and holds out her hand.

“N-Nothing!” I almost pull the phone away from her, but doing so indicates guilt.

I give her the phone shakily.

She presses her thumb against the lock pad. Her eyes narrow on the screen. “You were obviously doing something on my phone.”

“You left it on and—” Think, Candy. Think. “—I needed to look up information for an assignment. I couldn't use my phone since you took it away.”

“Why is the email app open?” she asks.

I shrug and lean back on the couch nonchalantly. The trick is to look relaxed. Don’t break eye contact. Twirl a strand of hair. Appear annoyed that someone doesn’t believe you.

“It must have opened when I dropped the phone,” I say. “Seriously, I was on the school’s website looking up an assignment.”

She purses her lips together, unconvinced. There’s no evidence of any wrongdoing. Innocent until proven guilty, right? Eventually, she lets it slide. Mom crosses the den to her bluetooth speaker and presses play.

I relax as soft jazz floats through the room. Silly coffee quotations on colorful canvases hang from the walls. Home Is Where the Coffee Pot Is. Live Life to the Fullest Cup. My Coffee Needs Coffee. Throw pillows on the cream-color furniture feature cappuccinos so realistic that I’m pretty sure you can taste the espresso. And the smell of coffee clings to everything in this apartment. Mom is addicted.

Mom’s shift at the airport starts in an hour, so she heads down a short hallway to her bedroom and disappears inside. She shuts the door behind her.

On the rare occurrence that I venture inside, I’m met with clothes vacuumed in airlock bags and the smell of organic all-purpose cleaner mixed with, of course, coffee. Mom’s room is never out of place. 

Mine on the other hand . . . I like to tell Mom tiny elves have dress-up parties. They cover every surface with my clothes and play 52-Card Pickup with my schoolwork. Not only do they never win the game, but they also leave their garbage and dirty plates all over. 

Curse those pesky elves!

I sprawl on the couch, lift the remote, and increase the volume. I watch the montage of tweens fitting their outfits onto their live models. The theme is a cocktail party. They have to create dresses worthy of high-end social and business networking.

I’d give anything to be one of those models, dripping in beautiful designer clothes and accessories. Elijah would definitely notice me then. I wonder if there’s a way I can apply to the show.

Through the wall, Mom’s phone blares Mozart’s symphony, and my heart sinks.

Could it be Mrs. Gulligan?

“Don’t answer!” I spring off the couch, run down the short hallway, and pound on her bedroom door. “It’s spam callers! Dangerous spam callers!”

When Mom doesn’t answer, I back up a few feet and crouch into my best impersonation of a football player. I shout a battle cry and barrel forward, tensing my shoulder for impact.

The door opens.

I yelp, momentum too strong to stop, and I collide with Mom. We fall into a pile of groans and tangled limbs. I wince as her elbow juts into my ribs.

“Hello?” a disgruntled voice says from beside us. “Samantha, are you there?’

Her phone!

I kick and squirm my way free, and then snatch it up.

“We don’t want your overpriced vacuum, you scheming salesman!” I cry. “Now stop calling this number before I report you to the police!”

“Candice?” the person on the other side says.

That’s not Mrs. Gulligan.

“Aunt Becky?”

“No, it’s a scheming salesman,” she snorts sarcastically.

Oops.

I open my mouth to respond, but the phone is yanked out of my hand. Soon, I’m on the receiving end of Mom’s infamous you-are-so-dead glares.

“Candice Lynn Sky!” she says. “What on earth has gotten into you!”

“I-I thought . . .” I stutter, tailing off as embarrassment paints my cheeks bright pink.

“How would you know it’s spam callers? And how did you get past the lock screen in the first place?"

Aunt Becky calls our names, but Mom ignores her. She taps and swipes her screen, eyes flickering back and forth swiftly. What is she reading? I bite my lip and fidget my thumbs.

Please let that email be deleted.

Please don’t let Mom see the school district’s calls.

Mom huffs before pressing the phone back to her ear. She frowns suspiciously at me but turns away. My shoulders sag. Luck is on my side. This time.

“You’re asking me what that was about?” Mom barks an incredulous laugh. “Who knows! I can already feel my hip bruising.” She massages the spot, wincing.

I frown. I didn’t mean to cause an injury. 

I want to apologize, but Mom ushers me out before I utter the words. The door slams in my face. The lock clicks.

For a moment, I stand completely still and breathe. That was much too close for comfort. I need to be more cautious next time.

I force myself back to the couch. Energetic techno plays from the TV as models strut down the runway. It’s the judgment portion of the show, which will be followed by the elimination of one unfortunate tween. Whoever wins the entire season gets $10,000 and a scholarship to Sarian Design Academy.

Usually, I sit on the edge of my seat, hands clasped together, and maniacally mutter to myself who deserves to move onto the next round and who should be sent home. Right now, though, all I can focus on is my queasy stomach.

Part of me knows it’s only a matter of time before my gig is up. Although eighth grade started a month and a half ago, I’m already not doing so hot in my classes. My parents will inevitably learn of my poor grades during parent-teacher conferences. But I’m okay with that. They are held in October. The dance is at the end of September. By the time my parents do find out, I’ll have completed my lifelong goal and can write letters to Elijah from Grandma Carrie’s house. 

Once I make Elijah my boyfriend, of course. 

I just have to make sure Mom and Dad don’t find out my secret before the Fall Equinox Dance.


Shanna P. Lowe started writing when she was in preschool. She would carry around seed catalogs and copy them word for word into her notebook.

Shanna P. Lowes shares her birthday with The Land Before Time. You better believe she loves dinosaurs!

Shanna P. Lowe is completely and totally, 100% in control of her life. She knows exactly what she needs to do and where she needs to go. She certainly is not a hot mess.


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2 comments:

  1. Fantastic excerpt, Candy Sky Tells a Lie sounds like an excellent book for my granddaughter to enjoy and I like the cover and the title!

    Thanks for sharing it with me and have a terrific day!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This sounds like a fantastic book.

    ReplyDelete

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