The Starlight Chronicles
Lark Singer is seventeen years old and already on the way to a brilliant music career. But as she and her band, Starlight, gear up for a competition, life seems to be throwing her a few curve balls. The mysteries of her past seem to be unraveling, and she’s no longer certain she wants to know those answers or how knowing about her past will affect her difficult relationship with her mother. And when her best friend, Bean, changes things between them, all her plans for a musical future are placed in jeopardy. How can she balance her complicated personal life to keep her musical goals on track?
ORIGINAL PUBLISHED DATE: October 19, 2014
Lark Singer’s relationship with her mother is prickly to say the least. As she enters a musical competition that could launch her career, Lark also searches for answers her mother would rather keep hidden. Throw into the mix the fact her best friend Bean has been acting strangely, and Lark finds herself launched into uncharted territory. Will her quest for answers sabotage her musical aspirations?
I want to be like Gideon Lee. My lips move as I read the title of my essay. They twitch as I stifle a snicker. Looking around the room, I make sure no one has seen my facial tic. My eyes light upon the Presidents’ pictures lined up on the wall. They face me, each with a unique expression, and I wonder what they were thinking while they posed. They are above the clock so my gaze naturally falls on it. It’s almost time for lunch. I settle back in my seat and my lips twitch again. A feeling of defiant exhilaration washes over me like a tidal wave. Montgomery’s going to freak when he reads this. Despite my best efforts, a giggle escapes and the boy in front of me turns around and gives me the evil eye. I return the glare. He is slumped over, and sweat beads on his upper lip. I think this is odd — it’s rather chilly in the room — but dismiss it before I turn back to my essay.
I bet old man Montgomery doesn’t even know who Gideon Lee is. This thought sends another giggle to the surface, but I quickly squash it by biting my lip. I picture him searching Gideon Lee’s name on the Internet. I see his expression changing from confusion to disgust. I imagine him taking off his black, thick-rimmed glasses and shaking his head. I hear him mutter,
“Lark Singer, what are you doing?” He rubs his face.
I can actually hear the rough sandpapery sound as his hand finds his day old stubble. He sighs and puts his glasses back on.
“What am I going to do with you?”
I remember when Mr. Montgomery first told us about the assignment. We were supposed to write an essay on someone we admire, someone who has contributed to society in some way. I know when he says this he wants us to write about an a historical figure. After all this is history class, but I raised my hand anyway.
“Lark,” he called out as he stood at his lectern.
“Do they have to be dead?”
He cocked his head as he studied me with his piercing blue eyes. Then he ran his hand over his military style crew cut, and I watched as his salt and pepper hair flattened then popped back into place as if each hair was standing at attention. I could tell he wasn’t sure where this was going.
“Well… I guess not.”
That’s when he froze, as if he realized he had just opened a door for me and he wasn’t going to like what was on the other side. He shifted his weight, and looked down at the floor before he backpedaled.
“But they have to have made a positive contribution to society. It can’t be about a mobster or anything like that.”
Pursing his lips, he stared at me, fiddling with those glasses.
“This is one half of your semester grade, Lark. I wouldn’t pull any funny stuff.”
“Oh, I won’t. Scout’s honor,” I answered sweetly, placing my hand over my heart and giving him the scout salute, while inside I planned my rebellion. I have him. I’m going to write about Gideon Lee, and there’s nothing he can do about it.
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ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: December 6, 2014
Lark Singer is seventeen years old and already on the way to a brilliant music career. As she and her band, Starlight, gear-up for an upcoming, life-changing band competition, though, life seems to be throwing her a few curve balls. The mysteries of her past seem to be unraveling, and she’s no longer certain she wants to know those answers, or how knowing about her past will affect her difficult relationship with her mother. And when her best friend, Bean, changes things between them, all her plans for a musical future are placed in jeopardy. How can she balance her unraveling personal life to keep her musical goals on track?
THE GUYS ARE impatiently waiting for me. Bean’s foot jiggles so fast; it appears as if a current of electricity runs through him. We have to be down at Pearl’s by seven. We’re all geeked about playing on stage, I can tell. Performing at Pearl’s gives us the face time we need for when it’s really going to count. The real event — the competition — is only a few weeks away. I pick up my pace, we have three hours to jam and grab some food before we go on stage.
“Come on, Chickie,” he says, gesturing with his sticks as he settles into position behind his drums.
Rushing forward, I plug in my amp. As I crank out a few chords to warm up, that old energy buzzes through my veins. After a couple of licks, I’m ready and my nimble fingers tingle. I’m wired. I love playing in front of a live audience.
“Which one are we jamming on?” I look over at Bean and wait for his answer.His brow creases as he tries to decide.
“This one here.” He holds up the lead sheet and waves it impatiently in the air.
I squint to see it. It’s the one we titled “Secrets.” Pointing to the lead sheet sitting on Stevie’s stand, I get into position. I had taken a few minutes and titled Stevie’s lead sheets for him the other day.
Bean slams his sticks together and counts out. “One… two… three.”
We’re off, filling the garage with musical energy. My body’s rigid, as if every muscle’s flexed and ready for action. Screaming chords fill the air, as my nimble fingers crank on my Gibson. I feel like I’m a live electrical wire, popping and snapping with unrestrained energy. When we’re done with that song, no one speaks. Instead, Bean holds up another lead sheet and then we’re off again.
Tonight’s performance is going to be epic. I can tell just by how we’re coming together. I grin in spite of my intense concentration; my confidence is growing by leaps and bounds. We are so ready for this competition that I can feel it all the way down to my bones.
After the second song, I hold up my hand and say, “Our sound smokes. But don’t you think we should play some of the music we’re going to be performing tonight?”
Bean snorts. “Yeah. Probably.”
We take a few minutes and discuss some of the songs we want to play. We usually crank out tunes that were big hits in the seventies and eighties, a lot of Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and Rolling Stones. They’re more mellow than what we’ve been playing, but they’re still good melodies and the crowd at Pearl’s digs that classical sound. Playing this type of music broadens our musicianship, but there’s nothing like cranking out our own songs. After choosing a few of the harder tunes we immediately start jamming. We’ve chosen “Hotel California” by the Eagles. It’s a dark tune about moving to California and I love the melody. My guitar howls out the chords and I feel that quiver inside as I sing the lyrics. After cranking out three more Eagles’ songs, we change it up for a few Fleetwood Mac and Rolling Stones’ songs. They’re great dance tunes and we know we’ll get people out on the floor with these. After the last melody, we take a break. The garage seems to hum with the absence of our music. As if it was vibrating at a rapid rate and is slowly winding down because the music stopped. We all take swigs from the water bottles Bean brought out earlier and then sit in the folding chairs by the wall.
“What time is it?” Stevie asks, screwing the cap back on his water bottle.
“Time to get going,” Bean answers after a quick glance at his watch.
“My brother should be here any minute to help me get my drum set down to Pearl’s.”
“Cool. I guess I’ll ride down with Francine.” I grimace as I say this and Bean exchanges a look with Stevie.
“I’ve got my parents’ Toyota for the night. You could ride with me,” Stevie offers with grin and a shrug.
“Awesome.” I smile at him as my heart swells with gratitude for my band mates.
The truce between Francine and me has been extended, mainly because I’ve been
avoiding her and there hasn’t been an opportunity to wage another war. So I welcome any opportunity to keep the avoidance plan going. A horn sounds off in front of the house. Moving to the garage door opener, I press the button. The Brown Turd sits in the driveway, rumbling and vibrating.
“There’s my ride,” Bean says. “Can I get some help?”
No one talks as we all gather around Bean’s drum set and help him disassemble it. It takes us about fifteen minutes to get everything in the car, but when we’re done, Bean’s satisfied with our work.
He gives me a wink and says, “I’ll see you down there, Chickie.”
Shifting his focus to Stevie, he says, “Later, dude.” They exchange a quick knuckle bump, and then Bean jumps in the car.
As they pull out of the driveway, Stevie gives me a nudge. “Come on. Let’s get going.”
I follow him back to the garage, where we grab our equipment and stow it in the backseat of his parents’ green sedan. Then we hustle inside and grab our coats. On my way out the door, I glance at my watch and realize we’ll just have enough time to eat before we play. Since we don’t charge for our performance, the owner of Pearl’s gives us our meal on the house. We’re okay with that because we need the face time and the food at Pearl’s is epically awesome. After we climb into the car, Stevie starts it and pulls away from the curb.
“What’re you going to get?” he asks after adjusting his mirror.
I tilt my head and think about it before I answer. “Probably a wet burrito.” I smile and face him. “How about you?”
“That does sound pretty good. I’ll probably get one of those too.”
We share a giddy laugh and then zoom down the road. I love Friday nights at Pearl’s, the relaxed atmosphere and the friendliness of the staff. The owner of the bar, whose actual name is Marge, always welcomes us with a smile. Her grandmother, the original owner, was Pearl. Marge is a rotund woman with big boobs and an even bigger heart. When I was a young girl, I’d been afraid of her. Afraid that I’d get lost in that big pillowy chest and suffocate. I snicker every time I think about that now and chalk it up to irrational fears of childhood.
As we pull into the parking lot behind the bar, I turn to Stevie and say. “Hey, did Bean tell you we have a name for the band?”
Stevie shakes his head as he puts the car in park and shuts it off. “Nope. What is it?”
Stevie grins and fiddles with his glasses. He repeats the name a couple of times, then turns to me, and says, “I like it.”
I let out a squeal of delight. “I do too.”
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Original Date Release: February 17, 2015
Everything is on track for Seventeen-year-old Lark Singer and her band Starlight. They have a great shot at winning the competition that can launch their musical career. But when Lark discovers they will be competing against her old nemesis Duane McIntyre things really heat up. How far will Lark go to win, and what will it cost her in the end?
“AWESOME JAM session!” announces Bean as he twirls his sticks in the air.
“We are so ready!” I exclaim. The competition is just a week away, but I’ve never been so ready for anything in my life. We have the smoking hot tunes. Four of them, and they’re full of positive energy. And we have the smoking hot name. Starlight. I love the way it rolls off my tongue when I say it.
“Yeah.” I give him a smile. “I would.”
“Bean. Come on, I’ve got to get home,” Stevie says in a tone that’s not quite impatient. I stand.
“Yeah. Tomorrow,” I say with a quick smile. I can’t wait for him to leave so I can be alone with Bean.
“Later, Dude,” Bean yells before rolling up his window. I snuggle up to him as he steps on the gas and heads toward downtown.
I shrug. “I don’t know. Let’s go someplace where we can talk.”
He winks at me and says, “I know just the place.”
“You’ll see.” He gives me a mischievous smile that sends my heart racing. I love it when he looks at me like that.
We make small talk while he drives to our destination. I’m shocked when we pull into a cemetery. “What are we doing here?”
“You said you wanted to go someplace to talk.” He snickers. “We definitely won’t get interrupted here.”
“No kidding,” I say as I stare out the window. The grave markers go by and I can’t help but think about the people lying beneath the ground. I wonder what kind of lives they had. As I think about these things, I realize there’s a lot of history in this cemetery.
“So, what did you want to talk about?” Bean asks as he grabs my hand. The familiarity of the rough calluses on my skin warms my heart. He stops the car and turns the engine off.
“My mom admitted it.”
“Admitted what?” Bean shifts in his seat and slouches against the driver’s door.
I shift and turn toward him. Before I speak, I rub my fingers along the scar above my right eyebrow. It’s my bastard stamp. I got it the day Duh-Wayne called me a bastard and then laughed when I didn’t know what one was. As I recall the horrific fight we had, a shudder runs through me as I tell him.
“What?” Bean sits up straight and bumps his head against the window. Rubbing it he says, “When did all this happen?”
“Last night.” I brush a curl away from my face.
Lisa Orchard grew up loving books. She was hooked on books by the fifth grade and even wrote a few of her own. She knew she wanted to be a writer even then. Her first published works are the “Super Spies Series.” These stories revolve around a group of friends who form their own detective squad and the cases they solve. “The Starlight Chronicles,” is the next series that Lisa created with musical misfit, Lark Singer as her main character.
Lisa resides in Michigan with her husband, Steve, and two wonderful boys. Currently, she’s working on the next book in the Starlight Chronicles Series along with a few new ideas that may turn into stand-alone novels. When she’s not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, running, hiking, and reading.
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