I met my guest author, Sara Stinson, a year ago on the online writers’ site, Authonomy. It’s run by HarperCollins Publishing. Each month, the top five books on the site are given an award, followed by a review from one of the publisher’s editors. Sara’s children’s book for middle grades and older, Finger Bones, is in the number four spot this month. I’m very excited for her, and I’m happy to introduce her. Meet Sara Stinson and her book.
EXCERPT from the first chapter, FINGER BONES
The locals called him Finger Bones.
His name was Charles P. Moody, and for 122 years, he had lived on a dirt road in an old, ramshackle cabin. The road was called Screaming Hollow Road, and it ran alongside part of Bone River which curled around the small town of Bridgeville.
No one ever went up Screaming Hollow Road at night, especially alone. Strange things happened up there, and quite frankly, it was a scary place. And as for Finger Bones’ cabin, no one dared to step near the front porch. Mr. Dugmore, a night watchman for the town, witnessed strange lights and eerie noises coming from the cabin. Mr. Murkett, a railroad conductor, told of odd fogs that lingered and cold spots on the land that could chill the bones. Mrs. Lottie swore when she was a young girl she saw ghosts that floated in and out of the windows. And Mr. Fickleburg, the oldest gentleman in Bridgeville, besides Finger Bones himself, blamed Finger Bones for all the happenings.
Finger Bones lived alone in his cabin, the single house on the dirt road. Every morning he walked to town wearing the same tattered clothes, overalls, and a black hat. Ash covered the top of his head and spread downward into a full beard the color of every gray imaginable. Propped over his shoulder was a stick held by his dark, bony fingers. To the end of the stick a red, burlap sack was tied. Never did anyone see him without it.
The street lights gave a dull yellow glow upon the pavement as he ambled down Ann Street. Stores lined together on his right. He casually passed the high school and then the elementary school on his left. Reaching the end of Ann Street, he crossed West Street and went straight to his favorite bench, which was located between the police station and the library.
From early dawn till dusk, he sat and watched nothing in particular. A few of the merchants and locals would pass Finger Bones avoiding him. The people were afraid terrible things might happen if they ventured too close.
But there were two sweet ladies, Mrs. Mimi Elsie Taylor and Mrs. Caroline Jean Harper, who treated Finger Bones with kindness and didn’t consider him odd. Mrs. Taylor was the town’s librarian and had been for as long as anyone could remember. Her sister, Mrs. Harper, owned the local jewelry store called, The Bridgeville Jewel Box. Both were considered upstanding citizens of the community. They had lived in Bridgeville all their lives. They had never met a stranger, or forgotten a name. Of course, a few of the locals felt the sisters, mingling with this strange old man, were as odd as Finger Bones himself. But the sisters didn’t seem to mind what they thought.
Most of Finger Bones’ family and friends had passed away forty-five to fifty years before. Mrs. Taylor and Mrs. Harper were his family now. Although the community couldn’t understand why, the sisters doted on him. Mrs. Taylor could simply bake the best rum cake in Bridgeville. And Mrs. Harper grilled the best barbequed chicken. At least once a week, one of the ladies could be found sitting at the bench with Finger Bones. Each sat munching with an oversized napkin stuffed in their shirts.
It’s fair to say many of the children in Bridgeville were also scared of Finger Bones. They were raised to believe he was a child snatcher. For generations, parents in this small town had told rumors of how the old man took children who didn’t obey their parents and stuffed them in his burlap sack. He then carried the children back to his cabin and kept them in a secret dungeon underneath his bed. However, there was one young girl who thought different from most kids.
Finger Bones has been sending ghosts to their next destination for years. Now it’s Wendy’s turn.
The Bridgeville Clipper announces Finger Bones is dead at 122-years of age. Wendy is not upset. He will be back. Finger Bones and Wendy have unfinished business in this small town.
When ten-year-old Wendy Dee Winkelmann needs to do some serious thinking she likes to chew bubblegum. While sitting on a bench reading, she becomes friends with an old man the townspeople call, Finger Bones. Some locals consider him odd and spread rumors about the ghastly man who lives up a dirt road in an ramshackle cabin. Yet Wendy soon discovers this old man, who walks to town with a burlap bag tied to a stick, has a special job. He sends ghosts to their next destination, and the stick and burlap bag he carries are magical.
Now Wendy chases the lingering spirits. Soon she finds herself caught up in a devious plan of a dark sinister power, and if it means hurting someone, or worse, it will do whatever is necessary to succeed. It’s all up to Wendy to save Bridgeville before the evil power takes over the town.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sara Stinson is a retired Speech-Language Pathologist and draws on her experience of teaching in the education field and living in a small town all her life to create Finger Bones. Sara lives in Alabama with her husband and her two older children, Kendall and Donnie Jr. Also in their household are three cats and one precious dog, Addie.