Amanda Thrasher, Article, author, books, Cereal Authors, Life, Literary, Sharing, Social media, writer's life, YA

BACK TO SCHOOL – BULLIES DON’T CARE

Back to school is right around the corner; some kids have already started the new school year, while others make final preparations. Usually, it’s an exciting time, but some kids dread the thought of going back to the place they feel the most insecure or where they’re an easy target for others entertainment. Bullying comes in all forms such as verbal, physical, isolation, and bullies themselves are often hard to identify. Sometimes they’re the stranger in the shadows, others, they’re the most popular kids on campus, and sometimes they hide behind being kind and respectful. But these days any kid given the right circumstances such as being in a group egged on by their peers, hiding behind a device, can feel empowered, and  become hateful or bolder in their word choices than they normally would to others.

Social media has played a huge role over the years desensitizing kids to bullying acts that occur both physical and verbal. Behavior once considered unacceptable has slipped into the realm of socially acceptable, not only in teenage circles but often in households all across the world. Watering down meanness and turning it into humor is unsettling to me as a parent.

Outrageous name-calling or verbal onslaughts for the sake of the latest trend or lingo, can often turn conversations into subtle attacks that can cause harm and inflict damage in less than ten words. Especially if one has no idea how fragile the other person on the receiving end might be. Words and rumors causing reputations to be ruined, individuals isolated, and unfortunately, too many times we’re witnessing the unthinkable when tweens, teens, and sometimes even adults take their lives without a solid punch ever being swung. Weapon of choice these days? Phones mostly, but bullies aren’t limited to those, tablets, and the ol’ desk top still works as well. 

Teen language and lingo is so foreign to me, it changes daily, and I have two teens still at home. It often sounds like slang bombardments with laughter attached. “I hate you.” “Everyone hates you.” “No one likes you.” “Drink bleach.” “Kill my self.” And I hate this one, “Kill yourself.” “Do it!”

If questioned the standard answer is the same, “I was just kidding,” or “It’s a joke.” Alternatively, “I didn’t mean it!” But unfortunately, fragile teens will take those type of words literally to heart. It wears on them and breaks them down. One has no idea of the fragile state of mind of young teens, many who are legally medicated without others knowledge.

According to the CDC, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year. However, for every successful suicide, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Unfortunately, many of those are related to bullying. Cyberbullying is experienced on some level by many kids today. Kids are killing themselves because the bullying is torturing them and affecting them to such a degree they’d rather be dead. How disturbing is that! Again, no one can tell how the fragile state of mind is of the child on the receiving end. Disturbing.

I was inspired to write a book that addresses bullying and teens, The Greenlee Project, it’s a MCA® winner for YA and General Fiction and has been named among the best in family-friendly media, products, and services by the Mom’s Choice Awards®. It also won for YA and General Fiction at NTBF. The Greenlee Project demonstrates the effect of using social media negatively. How it affects the victim, family, friends, communities, and even the bully or bullies that are sending the damaging texts. So-called good kids, unexpectedly, become the so-called bad kids. How? Easy, one touch of a button; send!

During my research for The Greenlee Project, I observed teens on different campuses, sat at football games and in cafeterias with the teens. Visited libraries, and interviewed teens, teachers, parents, and counselors. I have teens of my own, and my house is often full of kids. But I can honestly say I was shocked about some of the things I learned during my research.

We all know that bullying has existed for years, but no one will argue today it’s a different world. Social media can put the victim on a public platform delivering the maximum amount of damage within seconds. It spreads like wildfire. 

We can’t take away nor do I suggest taking away devices. But be vigilant. Watch your teens. Bullies pick on kids of all sizes and economic status. They do not discriminate and most victims, once tweens or teens, do not openly share their feeling of being abused by other kids. If you’re looking for a book that will open up a conversation about this topic, girls, and boys, read The Greenlee Project with your teen. I gurarentee emotions will brought to the surface and a discussion will start. There are even discussion questions in the back of the book to assist with the topic. Don’t wait. Bullies come in all shapes and sizes.

Greenlee Lynn Granger is about to find out the meaning of technology used as a malicious tool: a normal teen one day, and ruined the next. Who knew a boy’s affections could turn her life into such turmoil? Becoming a designated project, a joke in front of the whole school, turns Greenlee’s life upside down. What she does next is shocking. An emotional glimpse into the reality of cyber bullying : cruel betrayal of such magnitude devastates Greenlee. Greenlee knows her choices will determine the future of her abusers. Her relationship with her family and friends strained, she’s forced to make mature decisions. Cyber bullying affects the victims and everyone who surrounds them. What a waste: what path will Greenlee, her persecutor, and family take?
We have all seen the devastating and lasting effects upon children, teens, their families, and the community as a whole, due to bullying and cyber bullying. This book sheds light on the impact that the bullying act has not only on the victim but also on the families of the victim and the bully, teachers, communities, friends and the person acting as the bully. Greenlee’s strength, courage and determination to stand up and right this grievous wrong is encouraging and inspiring. Greenlee could be any girl, anywhere, in America. And Clay Monning, a star athlete, could be any parent’s great kid. Peer pressure, bad decisions with horrific consequences, changes everything for both of them. Good kids, turned bad. How? Social media.

Reviewed by Stephen Fisher for Readers’ Favorite

The Greenlee Project by Amanda thrasher is a brilliantly written story about a selected few students who are considered to be the B.P. (Beautiful People) who truly believe that it is they who run the high school that they attend in today’s electronic society. The story begins with Greenlee Granger, a fourteen-year-old girl who is going through a huge social dilemma at school. After her father drops her off at school, instead of going inside, she decides to take a long ride on a public bus. Time doesn’t seem to exist until she finally gets let off, God knows where, in a town 20 miles away. She finally gets back to reality and calls her father to pick her up.

From here the story unfolds as you get to know her circle of friends and social status, as well as the cute new boy that just transferred to her school. Clay joins the football team because he was the star quarterback where he came from. Now he has to prove himself and make the team. When it comes time for him to be initiated, he is allowed to decide the ritual, and sets out to make it a memorable one, so he proposes “The Greenlee Project.” The only people that can know about the initiation are his new team mates. That is until queen bee, Laurel, sets her sights on Clay as well.

Amanda Thrasher does a superb job of describing the intense situations that arise when the elite crowd’s attention is threatened by those that they feel are beneath them. Ms. Thrasher also delivers the pressures that the B.P. experience to maintain their status quo. All of her characters are well developed and, by the end of this powerful story, Amanda adds some unexpected surprises that really put a twist in the outcome. The Greenlee Project is an eye opening, powerfully written book that I highly recommend for teenagers, faculty, and parents. Well done!

Author Website Amanda M Thrasher

The Greenlee Project

Book Trailer

Amanda Thrasher, Article, author, books, Life, Ramblings, YA

Father’s Day ~ Martin Mulroy

As we honor all of the dads around the world, I have to brag about mine, Martin Mulroy. I can not begin to tell you all of the sacrifices he has made over the years for our family, but I can describe a few.

A British Royal Marine, he learned the art of discipline at a very young age and taught all of us the same. From early morning workouts, keeping things tidy, a strong work ethic and leadership skills, the life lessons he instilled in us as children, teens, and young adults continue to be a part of our daily lives. And I can honestly say I still learn new things from this man.

As a young Marine, practically a kid himself, he sent his paycheck home to his mother to help support the family. He loved being a Marine, and like those before him, and currently, serving his country.

He moved our family all over England, each move better than the last, until a job offer, moved us to the United States. It was not a move he took lightly. He did it on behalf of our family. It was a great move so that he could provide a better life for his children. He believed in the dream, American dream, still does and taught me the same. As a family, we become American Citizens, and it was a day I will treasure since my mom (no longer with us), was so happy. 

As a child, I never knew my dad worked as hard he did. It was something they (my mom and him) kept from us. An engineer by trade, this man I love so much, worked two jobs. One to pay our household bills, but the other to provide the luxuries we didn’t even realize was a sacrifice for them such as dance, music, and horse riding lessons. When he was home, they packed us up, packed a lunch, and took us all over England to the greatest lake districts, touring cities, hiking, museums, so we’d have the opportunity to see it all.

Parents often remind their children how hard they work to provide a better life for their families. I’m certain I’ve been guilty of that myself, but my dad, he never said a word. I was sixteen years old when I found out by accident how hard my dad had worked for us. My mom never mentioned it, and my dad never complained. Standing in the kitchen, while pouring a cup of tea, my mom softly asked me a question. “Amanda, why do you think he was gone so often for all of those years?” It had honestly never occurred to me that he was working a second job for our gifts of dance, music, and riding. Quite frankly I was shocked; two jobs, one for what we needed and one for things we took for granted yet enjoyed so much.

His expectations of what we were supposed to do were always delivered firmly but with love. And I wouldn’t dare defy him; even to this day. The things he taught me I still practice. Don’t be afraid of hard work; if you’re working, you’re earning. Work out regularly, stay fit; it’s good for your heart. You can have hundreds of acquaintances but real friends you can count on one hand; keep your circle small, and if you don’t have anything nice to say, keep it to yourself. Simple but wise words.

He’s still the only person in the world I can never say no to and will always try to please, even at my age. I still love his stories, though I’ve heard them a million times. Lately, those stories have become sweeter and more important as time seems more precious these days.

So “Happy Father’s Day” to all the dads out there, all of them, but especially mine, Martin Michael Mulroy!

Amanda M Thrasher

Amanda Thrasher, Article, author, books, Cereal Authors, Fiction, Life, Literary, Musings, publishing, Ramblings, review, Sharing, Social media, Uncategorized, writer's life

A Time To Write

I wear dual hats, writer, author, and publisher. It’s not always easy, but I’ve learned and continue to acquire new knowledge in this ever-changing industry of publishing. When I write, I can’t wear my ‘work’ hat, it ruins creativity. And when I work, I can’t write. It’s not unusual for hundreds of manuscripts to end up in my inbox. If I choose to send them out for review, that will be the deciding factor if we take them on. I see a lot of pieces, and we have talented award-winning authors on our label, but I can honestly say few pieces are written as beautifully as 50 HOURS by Loree Lough, and that is the truth.

50 HOURS

FRANCO ALLESSI is a broken, lonely man who wants nothing more than to outrun the ghosts of his past. For years, he tries to numb the pain of his wife’s death with cheap beer and whiskey. When he’s convicted of drunk driving, the judge revokes his license for six months and orders him to serve fifty hours of community service. Franco chooses Savannah Falls Hospice for his community service, for no reason other than it’s walking distance from his dilapidated house trailer.

On his first day on the job, he meets AUBREY BREWER, a woman whose time on earth is quickly ticking to a stop. Their unusual connection teaches powerful, life-changing lessons about friendship, acceptance, and the importance of appreciating that precious treasure called life.

Now, the endorsements (we have too many to list) for this book speak for themselves; I get it, it deserves every one of them. Catherine Lanigan, Author of Romancing the Stone, The Jewel of the Nile, and over forty-five novels and non-fiction, said, “I defy anyone to start the beautifully written 50 Hours and to put it down or to go on with their own lives as they had before reading about the remarkable, emotional and insightful relationship between dying Aubrey and the lost Franco. As a recent widow myself, the strength, humor and respect between the main characters shot close to home, but delivered so much hope and love that even as I march forward to tomorrow, my perspective has altered—all to the positive. In her last days in this life, Aubrey finally lives out the dreams she’s been too browbeaten by her mother and ex-husband to accomplish. She can only do this with help from Franco, who risks imprisonment to see her wish come true. Emerson said, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.” Aubrey and Franco succeeded. Believe me when I say, THIS IS THE KIND OF BOOK THAT WINS PULITZER PRIZES. “

The main character, Aubrey, is ill, that silent killer, cancer. Cancer destroys or touches too many families in the world, let alone our country. My mom died of cancer, too young, but once diagnosed she didn’t last long. When I read the book 50 HOURS it was inevitable, I was reminded of what she went through and what we went through as a family. But I’ve always wondered what she was thinking, secretly, when she wasn’t trying to put our minds at ease.

Aubrey, a character of strength, hope, determination and sharp wit, dares you to take her journey with her and see and feel what she’s feeling through her eyes. But not in an emotional roller-coaster draining sort of way. She is the perfect definition of courage. Fearless at times, vulnerable at others, but always positive and selfless. She helps Franco, the recovering alcoholic serving time in the form of community service, who inadvertently helps her. Together, they’re the perfect team. Knowing what I know, about cancer, having experienced it with my family, it was touching to read it through Aubrey’s point of view. To take her walk with her, the walk. Knowing the diagnosis and how Aubrey really felt at times, was insightful. I think my mom, like many sufferers, think of those around them most. I was able to ‘see and feel’ things through Aubrey’s eyes.

It is undeniable that authors often bond with their characters while creating them; after all, it takes time and energy to develop fictional beings that a mass audience can relate to in the novels. When they tackle subjects that affect millions of people daily, be it illness, death, addiction, poverty, etc., it’s not unusual for authors to conduct extensive research to ensure the accuracy of the details that they write. Back stories, depth, facts, characteristics, and ultimately the feelings that bounce of the paper and touch people, emotions, must be believable. However, it is shocking when life unexpectantly imitates art. I was stunned, but can’t even begin to imagine what Loree must have felt, when I found out that the she, the author, was diagnosed with the illness that her character had while writing the novel.

The research that she was conducting to develop her character, Loree was suddenly applying to herself. Aubrey, the character terminally ill, and now the author, Loree Lough, found themselves in the same position. Healthy when commissioned to write; diagnosed while half-way through the novel. She was living out Aubrey’s nightmare. Surely it was impossible to divide the two emotionally at times. How did that happen and why? I can’t even begin to fathom it.

Multiple Myeloma, incurable bone/marrow cancer. I can barely say the words, and I couldn’t even begin to imagine completing the novel as beautifully as she did, knowing what all she had endured. Talk about a time to write. How did she do it?! A time to write. Writing from within; seamlessly, and beautifully as one with Aubrey at times.

It is no wonder that Aubrey leaps off the pages and into your heart. Loree’s heart and soul can be found in between the lines. This novel will touch people not just because of the terminal illness, but because of the life-lessons that Aubrey teaches Franco and Franco inadvertently teaches Aubrey. Inspiring hope in the midst of despair, reminding us of what is truly important in life. I honestly believe that this novel was meant to be written and meant to be written by Loree and shared. The screenplay had been stashed for years. Pulled out. Re-filed. Why now?

Loree Lough’s 50 HOURS is a poignant story that reminds us how precious life is, especially if our world has been turned upside down by cancer. But don’t be fooled: This novel will leave readers feeling hopeful, no matter how hard the dreaded disease has hit them. ~Jack Watts, award-winning author of 16 books, including “The Moon” series and Creating Trump Nation.

Loree has graciously discussed her treatments, some experimental, some traditional, and is willing to visit openly about her diagnosis, treatment, and the development of Aubrey (character), and this novel. She can be contacted via social media, her website or right here: contact@progressiverisingphoenix.com

A portion of Loree’s royalties from her 100’s of best-selling novels, go toward cancer research and other charitable organizations.

 

Amanda M. Thrasher

50 HOURS 

Loree Lough

 

Amanda Thrasher, author, books, Cereal Authors, Character Quotes, Excerpts, Fiction, Life, Literary, Sharing, YA

BITTER BETRAYAL

5 Stars – Reviewed By Ankita Shula for Readers’ Favorite

Bitter Betrayal by Amanda M. Thrasher is a book with a purpose. She aims at educating teenagers about how their idea of “just having fun” can actually spoil their future. Payton, a sixteen-year-old teenager, is head-over-heels in love with Reece, a senior at a different school. In her head, she can see herself marrying Reece and spending the rest of her life with him. As romantic as it sounds, their teenage love — like any other love — has its own share of problems. Although Reece keeps trying to go all the way with Payton, she respectfully declines him every time. She is not ready to go down that road, just yet. She second guesses her decision every now and then, but is determined to wait until she is ready. Trouble knocks on their door when the coach’s daughter, Stacie, enters their lives. The green eyed monster is blinding Payton with jealousy and this is affecting her romantic life with Reece.

The author, Amanda M. Thrasher, has highlighted one very important problem that follows when teenagers consume alcohol. Being a teenager is difficult enough as it is, but adding alcohol doesn’t make it any easier. The book is not just about the after effects of consuming alcohol; it also focuses on how it might impact the teenagers and their families. With the social media boom, can any secret remain buried for long? Bitter Betrayal is written in a very impressive style. Payton’s conflicting thoughts and inner struggles would seem relatable to every teenage girl who is in love. There are so many emotions to deal with that Payton finds herself mostly overwhelmed. Reece, like any other teenage boy, finds his girlfriend’s emotions annoying and irrational. He is, however, not a negative character. He respects Payton’s decision to wait until she is ready. He doesn’t push her to give in to his desires. There is a lot to learn from this book. I wish that parents would encourage their teenagers to read Bitter Betrayal and learn from it. An impressive plot, excellent story-telling, and smooth development of the story make this very readable.

Chapter 9

She’s One of Us

Several of them met at their usual Mexican restaurant for lunch. It was good, but more importantly, it was cheap. Trevor was the only guy who brought his girl, the new girl, Stacie. The boys gave him a hard time at first, but after a few minutes no one seemed to care, and she didn’t mind that they were harassing her boyfriend. She just kept eating; everyone noticed that, refreshing. She ate like them; she didn’t pick at her food, she actually ate it. And she didn’t turn up her nose at how much or what they ate. She even slouched just a bit. Most girls Reece knew, including Payton, were hesitant about eating in front of the guys. This girl couldn’t care less. He hadn’t counted them all, but he’d seen her put away four tacos while they were sitting there. She also contributed to their conversation. Real stuff. Trevor hadn’t mentioned she was the outdoor type, but she talked football, deer season opener and, of all things, trucks. She held her own when they talked about their last game, and even bitched about Trevor’s truck for all the right reasons! Clearly she had brothers, or her dad wanted a boy and got stuck with her. Witty, hot, ate like a horse but didn’t look like one, liked sports, had a great laugh, and didn’t seem to notice that she was way out of Trevor’s league. Damn! That girl was a keeper. She had all the boys mesmerized, not just Reese, but part of her charm was that she didn’t know it, nor care. Her mannerisms reminded Reece of Royce’s girl, Jenna; she was hot. A text brought him back to his girlfriend, Payton.

 

Payton: TOY 143

(Thinking of you, I love you)

Reece: love ya babe

 

         Straight to the words he knew she wanted him to say. Cut it short so he could finish eating and listening to everyone else. Just as he slipped his phone back into his pocket, the table erupted into laughter. Everyone was staring at Stacie’s screen, a clip she’d been describing, and she’d pulled it up.

“I know, right? Who would’ve believed it?” She laughed.

“I’m trying to get it to go viral, see how many hits it’s got already?” Her face beamed.

“Damn!” Duncan screeched. “No freaking way! How’d you capture that?”

Trevor replayed the video again, realizing his friends were stunned. Reece reached out his hand and took the phone. Trevor didn’t object.

“What is it?” Reece asked.

“Dude, check this pass out and who caught it.” Trevor pointed to the phone. “It’s freaking awesome!’

They weren’t kidding. Reece had the same reaction they did.

“Whoa! Seriously!”

“Hell yeah,” Stacie hollered. “That’s exactly who you think it is!” She laughed. “That’s my boy, right there, doing it!”

“How’d you capture that?” Reece asked. “Looks like you’re right there, on the side lines.” Puzzled, he asked, “Why are you there?”

Stacie took a bite out of her taco and did something Payton would never do: spoke with her mouth full, kinda gross, but funny.

“Cause I was, there, hanging with my dad.”

“Wait, what?” Reece looked shocked. “Hanging with your dad. How’s that possible, what does he do?”

Stacie swallowed her food and started to laugh. “Fool, how may people in this town do you think have the name Wiggins?”

“You’re kidding me! You’re the kid of the new defense coach they brought in?” Reece asked, and then stared at Trevor. “Trev! C’mon man!”

“Dude, she didn’t want me to say anything. Figured ya’ll would figure it out.”

“I was wrong.” She laughed.

That wasn’t a small deal. No one thought to mention that crap?! Hell, if Reece didn’t want to leave Texas as badly as he wanted to, he’d consider playing for them. The guy, evidently her dad, had been all over the media for months. Recruited for the university when they didn’t renew the contract of their last defensive coordinator. They had high expectations for Coach Wiggins; his reputation preceded him, he had an exceptional record.

“Wow! That’s cool!” Reece stated and he really meant it. “Really cool!”

“Hey Stacie, can we meet him, Coach? I guess your dad,” Shane asked, grinned and added, “you don’t know if you don’t ask, right?”

“Yes, I’ll introduce you morons to him.” She grinned. “No, he won’t care, and yes he’ll let you hang at the field with me sometime.”

Trevor had just elevated his position to a level he couldn’t begin to imagine with his friends. He was proud of his new girl. No wonder she was so confident around guys; she’d been around him her whole life, not to mention all the players over the years she must’ve hung out with. Everyone knew the coach was coming, but they didn’t know much about his family. Now his daughter was their new best friend, at least to them. Hanging with the coach’s kid. Trevor, of all people—now she was one of them!

Half in fun and half dead serious, Shane playfully shoved his friend, Trevor, knocked his cap off his head and asked Stacie a question.

“How come you’re with this joker right here? I’m available!”

Trevor placed his ball cap back on his head and waited to see what she’d say. He was as surprised as they were that this girl had actually said yes and gone out with him, let alone stuck around. Reece’s ear perked up. Why was a girl like that with Trevor? He liked Trevor, but seriously. Stacie had their attention as they walked back to the truck. The ridiculous seriousness of the question they were trying to get an answer to caused her to burst out laughing.

“OMG, you idiots. What do you expect me to say? He’s Trevor.” She grabbed his arm. “He’s nice, why not?”

“Well hell, you’re not gonna hear me complain!” Trevor said, throwing up his arms.

“Hail Trevor!” Chase laughed.

“Will you let us know when we can go to practice, then?” Shane asked. “I can’t wait to meet Dustin Miller.”

She nodded. “But I think I should have everyone over first, like a meet-and-greet of my new friends.” She laughed. “I swear, you better be on your best behavior. All of you!”

Reece couldn’t wait to tell his dad and Royce he was going to Coach’s house. She’d even said Payton could go. He wasn’t sure how thrilled Payton would be, but she’d have to deal. The question was, how quickly could she plan it? They were all ready!

 

BITTER BETRAYAL

Amanda M. Thrasher

 

Amanda Thrasher, books, Cereal Authors, childrens stories, Excerpts, Fiction, Life, Sharing, Uncategorized, YA

BITTER BETRAYAL

My new book BITTER BETRAYAL like the award-winning title, The Greenlee Project, focuses on consequences of action. I’m passionate about protecting impressionable teens that are between the ages of thirteen and sixteen years olds. Teens this age fall into the YA category, which caters up to eighteen years old, but there’s a huge maturity difference between a thirteen and eighteen-year-old teen, so I have to write carefully. In today’s world with all of the technology and freedoms that teens have, every parent thinks their kid is protected and makes wise choices, but they are wrong. Dating has been complicated these days as kids hook up and have casual sex because it’s what kids do at parties if they’re a couple or not, at least that’s what the kids are saying. Their answers, “That’s what kids do, kids have been doing it for years.” And they have, right? Does is it make it right? But when alcohol and minors are involved, dating or not, he said she said, becomes the question of the day, and whose version of a terrible truth does one believe when innocent lives are at stake? “If you have a daughter or a son, who do you protect? Or how do you protect them? Whose version of the story do you believe?” Everything is fun and games until it gets out of hand and complicated!

Excerpt of BITTER BETRAYAL Copyright © 2017 Amanda M. Thrasher

Chapter Eighteen 

Start Planning

Every kid who planned to attend Stacie’s lake party was preparing the necessary groundwork to avoid complications for when the actual event rolled around. Stacie had already discussed her plan with her partner in crime, Sophia, working out every detail to a tee. Sophia would spend the night at Stacie’s, then Stacie would go to Sophia’s; they’d make a routine out of it for the next few weeks. The night in question, party night, there shouldn’t be any red flags at all. And if there were, they had a plan for that as well. Sophia’s Aunt Chloe, would put in a text on their behalf and if the text wasn’t enough, a call would be placed as backup. Patterns. Stacie had learned from her brothers that patterns didn’t raise red flags, but sudden changes in behaviors did. Stick with the pattern, and worse-case scenario her parents might make a comment about her staying at her friend’s home too much, but it wouldn’t be weird or out-of-the-norm behavior for her.

“That’s a great idea!” Sophia agreed.

“Right!” Stacie said proudly. “It’s practically a no-fail plan if we start getting them used to it now. They’ll think we’re just taking it in turns, yours, mine, yours, mine, sometimes yours, and then mine, and we’re home free!”

Sophia took a sip of her Coke and tried to calculate how many people would show up. Imagining each face of those they’d invited and had said they’d be there, she quit counting after thirty.

“Dang, girl, it’s going to get too big if we’re not careful.”

Stacie wasn’t worried. She had every intention of making sure everyone stayed outside of the house as much as possible. There was plenty of room, no need really for anyone to go in and out of the cabin, except maybe the girls to use the bathroom. The guys, hell, she’d seen her brothers disappear behind a tree on numerous occasions out there in the woods. Her mind was focused on food, as in snacks, and alcohol, as in beer and whatever else they could get away with that night.

“I’m already nervous, about your dad, I mean. And the beer part; not sure about that.”

“Don’t talk like that,” Stacie said somberly. “You’ll make me second-guess myself. I don’t need to envision him and what he’d do to me if he had any idea what I’m planning. He’d absolutely freaking kill me!”

Sophia hesitated, and then asked Stacie a question she wasn’t sure her friend would answer. “Then why do it Stacie, the risk? It’s crazy. You know what I mean.”

“Do what?” Stacie purposely avoided the question, knowing exactly what Sophia wanted to know.

“Why risk him finding out? You get away with so much; I mean really, compared to most kids. Let someone else throw a party. You could let someone else take that kind of risk.”

Stacie stared out of her bedroom window. She thought about the question that Sophia had just asked. Why did she take such stupid risks? This one by far the worst she’d ever contemplated taking, and if she pulled it off, what next? But why risk literally making her father so furious? She could lose her car, be grounded for life, have her brothers hate her for embarrassing them, her dad the Coach, and her mother would look at her with such disappointment in her eyes that it would hurt. Why? She thought about all of the times they had moved. All the tricks and stunts she had pulled over the years, no one had asked her this question before. Being asked such a question head-on irritated her and made her feel uncomfortable. She didn’t have an acceptable answer, because there wasn’t one. Taking the risk made her feel like she was in control of something and that certainly was an unacceptable selfish answer. Stretching out onto her bed, she finally answered Sophia. She said the most shocking thing she could think of, but her answer didn’t surprise Sophia, though she’d hoped for something different. Her answer was chilling and convincing.

“I guess because I can.”

Sophia’s phone buzzed, and she held it up to show Stacie the message. Her mom’s response was “yes.” Stacie could spend the night, but she had to pick up her clothes. Phase one in motion; phase two, start stockpiling snacks; phase three, work on possibly hiding beer and a bottle of liquor. She could swipe beer from the fridge in the garage, a few from the house, and find a spot to hide them from her parents and brothers when they came home. Oh and don’t forget the housekeeper—she’d have to think about that one; she’d need a secure hiding place. But that was going to be the easy part. Phase four, getting everything to the lake house, unnoticed: that was going to be difficult.

“I don’t want people to feel like they have to drink it though, the beer and stuff, you know what I mean?” Stacie stated. “I do know I don’t want to be responsible for that, pushing alcohol on anyone. That I know is way bad, off limits. Gotta be their choice.”

Sophia started to laugh and interjected something for Stacie to consider. “Yes. I get it! Can I make a suggestion?”

Stacie nodded. “Shoot.”

“I don’t think you should supply it at all—liquor or beer. Or even suggest or recommend it. In fact, I don’t think you should insinuate it’s OK to bring it or anything at all relating to it, if you know what I mean.” She raised her hands to silent Stacie when she tried to object. “Let me finish. Look, you’re already risking the party. But if you supply the alcohol or say it’s OK that people bring it and someone gets sick or worse, and your parents or their parents find out, can you seriously even imagine? Stacie . . . your dad is the new coach.”

Surprisingly, Stacie didn’t object. “I could just say bring what they want to drink. Then it’s up to them, not me.” She smirked. “Because I already know they’ll bring it. It’s what they do. Right! No worries; they’ll be plenty of booze.”

“That’s a great way out of it. That way you’re supplying the venue but not any alcohol. Who knows what they’ll bring, but you’re not the one who’s supplying it.” Sophia lowered her voice, as if she shouldn’t say it for fear of upsetting her friend. “If we’re lucky, they really won’t be a bunch of alcohol there. We don’t need the trouble.”

It was decided right then and there: that’s what they would do. When the time came, they’d announce that everyone coming to the party would bring their own beverage. Stacie would never admit it, but she felt one hundred percent relieved about that scenario. Why couldn’t she just tell her friend the truth: she didn’t want to be responsible for kids on booze anyway. It made her feel semi-responsible while being completely irresponsible. She pushed the irresponsible part out of her head. Who didn’t have parties at their age? It’s just that hers would be ten times better than everyone else’s. Keep blocking out the negative, focus on the positive, she told herself. At least there would be no drinking and driving, and no trashing the house or damaging property. Think of it like a great big camping trip for teens. That was responsible, wasn’t it? That was the theme. Camping party for teens, with no mention of alcohol at all. They would focus on cooking, hanging out, and fun for everyone!

***

Reece couldn’t wait to text Payton. Surely she was over being disappointed and mad at him; the excitement of spending extended time together had seemed to help. Not to mention they still had plenty of regular date time to hang out, prepare, and anticipate the big party ahead. It was all everyone in their circle was talking about—a night at the lake, all night.

Reece: Can’t wait to see you. Picnic?

Payton had a test, but when it came to that boy, she couldn’t say no, and without hesitation she texted back.

Payton: OMG Yes. Can’t wait!

Reece: love ya DTB

She didn’t try to analyze why she couldn’t text him back. Maybe he was driving or was about to hit the locker room shower. Who knew? All she cared about right then was that in a few hours she’d be at meeting that boy at the dam. From there, she knew she’d hop into his truck, plant a great big kiss on that beautiful face, and they’d head to their tree by the lake. Texts to Aubrey to make sure she’d cover her during lunch and advisory, no problem. Quick text to Maddie; she’d know how to get out of the make-up test that she was scheduled to take after she’d been sick. A great knack that Maddie had was thinking on her feet. She was always good with coming up with excuses if someone needed one—plus an added benefit, the teachers loved her!

Maddie: Easy peasy. Tell her you’re double-booked for tests due to being out sick, but immediately ask if you can come back by after school to take it. Chances are she doesn’t want to stay late and will reschedule for lunch tomorrow.

Great idea. Payton recognized that asking the teacher if she could come back the same day after school and take the test showed that she was sincerely sorry for missing it in the first place, booking two tests during the same lunch period, and she was trying to keep up her grade. Again, Maddie had come up with another great idea on the spot!

Payton: Do you think she’ll check with Ms. Taylor?

Maddie: Nah. Why would she?

Payton: True.

Payton: Thanks.

Maddie: No problem.

As soon as the bell rang, Payton ditched her friends and literally ran to her car. Reece was already waiting for her when she arrived at the dam. Pulling up next to him, he rolled down his window as she parked and climbed out of her car. His smile radiated across his face, making Payton smile too. She couldn’t see his pretty green eyes, because his shades covered them. Hopping into his truck, she leaned over, held his face in her hands and kissed him hello. He reciprocated, kissing her back just as sweetly. As soon as they pulled up to their spot, Reece parked under the branches of their tree.

“Let’s eat,” he insisted, pointing to two brown paper sacks on the floorboard.

They jumped out of the truck and perched themselves on the back of his tailgate. Perfect picnic weather: clear, with lots of sunshine and a cool breeze. Rummaging through the sack, Reece handed Payton her favorite sandwich. He smiled, knowing he’d done a good job with his restaurant selection. Pleasing her pleased him.

“I want you to eat that, now, ya hear?” he mocked playfully.

“Thanks, Dad, I will,” she replied, knowing he was watching her eat.

She’d never been so relieved that she accidently looked decent. Her outfits were typically planned, but she’d half haphazardly thrown together something that morning. Her jeans fit her perfectly, and the light sweatshirt she’d pulled out of her closet complimented her casual look, black, low-top converse, and she looked cute.

It didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to Stacie’s party. Surprisingly, Payton brought it up first.

“Give me the details. I can’t stand it.”

Recce took a bite of his sandwich, washed it down with a swallow of water, and dove into his bag of chips. Making her wait for information was fun. Payton wasn’t good at being patient, and knowing he had information she wanted made him laugh. She asked him again, only this time she had that whiney girlfriend-working-it voice, not quite irritating, but almost.

“Seriously. C’mon babe. I’m dying here. Give me details!”

“You already know most of them,” Reece said. “Stacie’s throwing a party at her parents’ lake house, we’re invited, and it’s going to last all night due to location. The real question is, how are we going to pull it off?”

Payton’s entire face lit up. She didn’t even care that it was at Stacie’s parents’ lake house. She heard two things, “all night” and “Reece.” Her eyes sparkled, and she tried to contain her excitement. She already knew, just like Stacie, that she was going to pull her friends Aubrey and Maddie in her plan. Schedule a sleepover night, but one without raising any concerns. It wasn’t unusual for them to spend the night at each other’s houses, but Payton felt the need to secure that date. She thought if she had a viable reason in place that she’d be gone, and her parents checked up on her, all would pan out.

“I feel as if I should come up with something more than a sleepover, like a sleepover for a reason, to ensure that date is blocked.”

“Whatever you think will work, do it. Anything in particular in mind?” Reece asked.

“Maybe an opening of a movie, like we plan a sleepover specifically because we’re going to said movie.” Payton looked down at her legs, which were swinging back and forth as she sat on the edge of the tailgate.

“I think you’re way overthinking it,” Reece stated. “Just stick with the sleeping at Maddie’s or Aubrey’s and have them do the same. Worse-case scenario, you can always say miscommunication and you ended up at the wrong house.”

Payton agreed that might the best way to go, if she couldn’t come up with a viable excuse for the date in question. Lying to her parents made her nervous. But going to the party and spending extra time with Reece suddenly seemed worth it. She couldn’t believe she’d have a whole night with him. The excitement and anticipation of being with him for so long was consuming her every thought. He was excited as well, but showed it differently than she did. He’d already prepared his own groundwork. He’d be going fishing and four-wheeling for the weekend at Trevor’s Dad’s place, with Cody and a few other guys. If a group of boys were going, his dad would probably talk openly with the boys. They all had the same story and Reece had even pulled in Royce as back-up. As an added bonus, Trevor had asked his dad if he really would take them out to their hunting lease or at least to go fishing and ride the four-wheelers, in the next few weeks. His dad not only agreed, but started making plans as well. Only downside that they could see, which wasn’t a downside at all, they’d be taking a boys trip!

Reece’s phone vibrated and a message flashed across the screen. Payton never asked who it was, but she was dying to find out. He never mentioned it, but tapped away, ending with the infamous DTB. They wrapped up lunch and sat and visited for a few minutes in the bed of his truck. She didn’t want to leave, and truth be told, he didn’t either. Sitting in between his legs, his arms wrapped around her, she wished the party was already here. His warm breath hit the back of her neck. She took her hands and ran them softly through the back of his hair. Turning around to face him, she stared into his green eyes. He pulled her closer and kissed her. She kissed him back. Her phone broke the momentum this time; alarm, time was up. She had to go. Seeing him during the week always made her happy, but leaving him was always hard. She never dreamed, at her age, she could feel the way she did. Once last kiss and another, and then one more, before Reece finally peeled himself away and said goodbye.

BITTER BETRAYAL Copyright © 2017 Amanda M. Thrasher

Amanda M. Thrasher

BITTER BETRAYAL

 

 

 

Amanda Thrasher, Article, books, Cereal Authors, Life, Literary, Musings, Sharing, Uncategorized, YA

Teens, how well do we know them?

BITTER BETRAYALI’ve recently finished my new YA titled BITTER BETRAYAL. Like any piece that a writer completes some will love it, some hate it, some like it, some will agree with it, and some will disagree with it. Every person is entitled to their thoughts, but my hope regarding this piece is that my audience receives the important message impressed on me to share while still being entertained through the actual story line.

I have raised a son and still have teen girls living at home, fourteen nearly fifteen, and sixteen, almost seventeen. One an artist, introvert, and the other an athlete who is always surrounded by other teens. Our house is that house, the one where kids often hang out. I don’t mind that; it means I know where my kids are, and that brings me peace of mind. It also gives me a chance to talk to and listen to them. Good kids. Great families. Solid community. But the stories that I hear over and over again, from the teens and teens that I interview, are horrific. Knowing some of the parents, like me, they likely have no idea how certain things affect our kids. But listening to them as they tell the same stories/scenarios, different kids, over and over, is shocking.

As usual, a lot of it revolves around social media and the pressures that kids face daily. Surprisingly we rarely talk about how desensitized kids are today. The things that shock ordinary people don’t faze teens at all. Sending nudes to strangers, acquaintances, or boyfriends when asked, most parents think their kids would be too smart to do something so stupid; they’d be wrong. Impressionable teen girls do this on a daily basis, and when I ask them why, the answers are always the same. “Because he asked me too, and he said he wouldn’t show anyone.” I always ask the following questions. “How well did you know the boy?” And, “Did he share the pictures?” As expected the answers are heartbreaking; they often hardly know the person at all, online relationships formed through snap chat, twitter, and whatever else they’re using. Yes. The pictures had been in their words “sketched” which means shared. “Did your parents tell you about the dangers of social media and sending pictures?” And of course, they knew better and had been warned multiple times via parents, school, and what they’ve talked about amongst each other. It’s not the bad kids that get caught up in this behavior, it’s the kids you go to church with, have over for dinner, and play football or cheer, good kids, “Why did you do it?” Their answers as a parent first and foremost are disturbing and concerning, as a human being, terrifying as they often say the simplest things, “I don’t know.” Or, “Because he asked me to do it.” Or my favorite, “Everyone does it.” It’s not uncommon to find girls sending pictures unknowingly to the same boys. Being played.

Topping off this disturbing behavior is the fact these kids are often, for lack of better words, blackmailed and harrassed. Once the guilt sets in, after they’ve sent the pictures that they shouldn’t have sent, then the boy(s) often older harasses them to get more pics., often more revealing by threatening to expose the girl. The girls crumble doing one or two things: breaking down and sending more, telling their friends or someone they can trust, and blocking the person(s) until someone is suspicious and the harassment becomes public, and everyone knows who sent nude pics.

Instant communication is another factor that affects teens. I’m not a doctor by any means or a psychologist, but teens take on entirely different personalities when they’re in love (think they’re in love), and have the ability to instant communication at their fingertips. Girls and at times boys, waiting on those instant messages, conversations, snaps, has made some of them semi-obsessive. It, the social media, can make them frantic. Girls will fight with other girls publicly over boys, calling each other terrible names, and the war of words in the social media realm begins. Strangers get involved, reputations are drug through the mud. It becomes a mess of words. I’ve personally witnessed these things unfold right before my very own eyes and have had several teens discuss them openly with me and share their stories. Dangerous situations, impaired judgments, drugs, drinking, social media mistakes, obsessive behavior, all revealed in the social media realm. It’s a scary world.

What’s shocking to me is how little, we as parents, know about our kids. We think we do; every parent believes that they would know if something terrible was happening under their roof. It’s sad; the truth is, most don’t until it’s too late and once the damage is done, clean up begins. What’s the answer to the social media madness? I certainly don’t have one, but I am aware of the problem that surrounds our teens. All we can do is stick together as parents, be alert, and open to listening to what the teens are saying. The best advice that I can offer to help with awareness regarding this issue is don’t be naive; it could be your teen. It can happen under your roof. Your kid can be that teen, the one that sends the nudes, drinks too much at the party, causes the fight, starts the rumor. Teens on social media; scary stuff, be alert.

Amanda M. Thrasher

Amanda Thrasher

Meet Amanda Thrasher, One of Our Cereal Authors

linkedamanda-1024x812Amanda Thrasher is an author whom I have come to greatly admire – not just for her talent, but because she is a lovely, genuine person. Pick up any one of her books and you will feel that quality. I dearly love her Mushroom Patch series and have decided that when I grow up, I want to move to the Mushroom Patch! I hope they will kindly save me a spot. These questions are from an interview a few years ago.

When did you start writing?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. What sticks in my head, was recognition for a poem that I wrote when I was nine years old and a creative story when I was ten. That poem was saved for years via my mom; it now is hung above my desk. Writing for me, truly is about the love of words. I love words. I love to watch them leap off of a page and come to life. I love to see a story ‘work.’ As a child, poetry and short creative stories were what I wrote for fun. I loved pencils and paper, journals or pads. Being an author is not what I set out to be.

What gave you the idea for your first book?

My very first book was likely build on childhood memories, though the characters are fictional. My first published book was written for a woman I loved dearly, my mother. She was ill, she loved fairies and I wrote her a fairy story, ‘Mischief in the Mushroom Patch.’ She never saw it in print; but she read the first eight chapters and I told her the rest.

My published pieces are children’s fantasy; I often refer them to them as fresh new fairy tales. Purposely written with polite characters that are sweet and kind, there’s a lot to be said for kind. There are no scary characters in the Mischief series, purposely written that way, of course. My intent was and is, to take my little readers, into a fantasy mushroom patch that is so real it seems unbelievably, believable. My adult novel I believe would be considered mystery/drama.

What do you do to keep yourself focused?

I think this is a great question! It seems as if I am only truly focused when I am working. I am ninety to nothing on a normal basis. But my writing time is so important to me I schedule it, often daily. When I write I require complete silence. (I know often writers like music etc), but not me. I have to be able to hear myself think. To do that requires a quiet stillness that can only be obtained through scheduled time. If I can’t give 100% of what I feel my work deserves, my art, my words, I will not write that day. On the other hand, if I have scheduled writing time nothing will detract me from it, phone, other to do’s, nothing. It’s too hard to come by, for me. I schedule my time at my desk and will not allow anything to detract me from it. I read the chapter I wrote prior to my new day’s work, to find my rhythm in my flow of thought. For me, it works and makes sense. It has to make sense or for me, it’s a waste of time. I value my time.

Do you stay with one project or do you work on multiple projects

I have an adult novel that I love, but I cannot work on that piece at this time. My children’s pieces take precedence over it. A particular children’s novel I am working right now, of course to me, is phenomenal. But it has to be. Because the truth is, if I don’t love it that much first, how on earth will my little readers love it second? I enjoy the piece I am writing, it still find it exciting. That can only be good, since I am creator of this piece. I have flat pieces, they are finished, but they are flat. The one I am working is not….I like it!

What is your writing process?

My process has always been the same and is the same regardless of the highresscramble-copypiece(s) I write. (Adult or children’s), and I have absolutely no idea why. It has always been this way and so I wouldn’t have known to question it anyway. Having no intentions of being an author and just writing, why would I? It doesn’t matter what I write, I can visualize the whole thing in my head before I pen it. I haven’t written a word of Mischief 3, and yet I can tell you the whole thing. Right down to the newest character. What the opening scene will be, what the highlight will be, what the disaster will be, who will save the day, how I will close it etc. I even know most of the dialog exchanges. Every piece I write is like this, though the details often are perfected along the way, the bulk of what I’m doing is laid out prior too, in my head. I carry a common book with my, (much like other writers), twenty four seven and have for years. I have jotted down things such as a name, and by the next day known exactly who the character will be. I’ve jotted down possible scenarios for chapters I’m writing etc. I think most writers do this. My common book is invaluable to anyone else and yet priceless to me.

What is the theme of your novel?

The theme of my newest one, ‘A Fairy Match in the Mushroom Patch,’ I believe is so neat for lots of reasons. First it gently teaches how a colony of ‘fairies’ can work together to overcome a pending disaster and how to have fun in a game one of them is not a fan of. Building unity in the ranks of elders, scientists and fairlings, (my word, fairlings,…I love it ). It also has a very special theme, building confidence and feeling comfortable in your skin. This is based on a lovely character I created named 08142015-CV2-sm-120x181rle. She has her own story, a true story and it’s beautiful. I had written Mischief and a lady I did not know purchased the book at a Barnes & Noble signing. We must have conversed, because weeks later she emailed me. She said, “I loved your book and my daughter would have loved your book.” She went on to say, “Could you consider creating a character with a disability, because my daughter was bound to a chair and she always asked, where are the fairy tales for me.” You can only imagine how I felt when I read that email, it touched me so. I emailed the lady back and said, “If you give me a minute to think, I might be able to do that.”

I had two concerns (a) First and foremost I wanted to be respectful of her request and (b) respectful of my art, my work, which I had already created. (the second book was underway). But I created a beautiful, little fairy named Pearle. Though she can’t walk, she can fly effortlessly. She is in a chariot, her chair, though always referred to as her chariot. The other fairies love her and she loves them. She has no limitations and is accepted by all; but more importantly, she accepts herself. I sent the lady, (Beverly Hutton), sample chapters. I said, “If you approve, I will continue.” Needless to say she loved her too, and Pearle will forever be in the Mushroom Patch, in honor of Jeni. We have done some good things together, with the help of my Mentor, Anne Dunigan, in honor of Jeni.

Do you consciously use symbolism in your book?

I don’t. I would have to say Pearle is the first character or thing, based on something or someone that I know of and she was a unique and special request. If I do, it truly is on a subconscious level. Meaning I do not purposely try to incorporate such.

How did your cover design come about?

I was assigned an artist, though I knew exactly what I wanted on my cover. The artist drew what I asked, detail, per detail as best she could.

Amanda Thrasher, Article, books, Cereal Authors, childrens stories, Excerpts, Fiction, Sharing, Uncategorized, writer's life, Writing Process, YA

WRITER’S ALL HAVE A THING, WHAT’S YOURS?

 

What's your 'thing?'
What’s your ‘thing?’

Writer’s All Have A Thing, What’s Yours?

Like most writers, authors, I’ve been writing for years. But when I sit down to write a new piece, though I’ve evolved slightly over the years, my primary process has never changed. It’s kinda like my personal thing, my way of doing it, that kicks off the project and keeps me motivated and excited throughout the entire thing. It’s possible other writers use the same method, I don’t know, but it works for me.

So what is it? It starts with an idea, of course, but ends up with an entire book mapped out in my mind. Naturally, my head is often spinning, don’t get me wrong, I like it that way. This can lead to one sided conversations for those around me. Distractions during activities that I’m involved in, being there in person but not really being there, and never being as involved as I should in group projects since my mind wanders to engage in the story that I’m writing. (Certain this isn’t always easy for those around me, but don’t worry, upon release of the work all returns to normal).

Preferring to have a complete understanding of my entire storyline, the reason things will happen the way that they will, my characters, a lovely twist, and theories on ways that I could pull it all together, my mind is racing all of the time before an actual word is written. Personally, I like to visualize each scene as I write, hoping to recreate in words the things that I see in my mind. If I do this correctly, the words paint a visual picture for my audience.

For me, not all writers, this can be a slow draining process, especially when the topic is a controversial or brutal one such as bullying, cyberbullying or date rape. Each chapter can be a depleting energy experience. And if I’m not mistaken, it’s because authors want their characters to be so life life-like, that it can actually feel as if they’re experiencing some of the things that they’re writing about for their readers.

Trying to compensate for this slow process of mine, I try to write relatively clean. The results, for me, tend to be less time consuming regarding actual clean up of the final manuscript. Since each chapter can be exhausting, mentally, I’ll ensure it’s a decent chapter before moving on. By the time the manuscript is complete and reworks begin, the rewrite process isn’t as bad as dealing with raw work.

I’ve been working on my new YA, BITTER BETRAYAL, since the middle of 2016. It’s almost done; clean up, and then off to the editors (I use two editors, content and copy line). The topic is controversial but incredibly important. Each time I sit down to write the material has flowed, this is a good thing, but the nature of the topic is controversial, important and difficult to discuss. That is the reason I believe it takes me a tad longer to write these pieces. After a few chapters, a mental break is required. It’s the emotional side that’s exhausting. Characters that are so life-like they could go be anyone’s son or daughter, and that’s truly heartbreaking.

I’m excited about the release of my new piece. It’s important to me to get the word out in a delicate manner for young impressionable teens. But it’s imperative that the message is strong, and I hope that the images expressed through words that I’ve written deliver not only the entertainment factor but more importantly the message I’d hoped to share. Below is an excerpt from my new novel. What’s your ‘thing?’

 

UNEDITED EXCERPT: 

BITTER BETRAYAL Copyright © 2017 Amanda M. Thrasher  ISBN – 978-1-946329-18-9 & ISBN 978-1-946329-19-6 Tentative release April 2017.

Chapter 1

Cover For Me

“They say there are two sides to every story and somewhere in the middle lies the truth; there’s no exception to this one. But whose truth will you believe?”

 DTB CU there!

(Don’t text back see you there).

The message flashed across her phone, and that’s all it took. Not even a whole sentence and suddenly all she could think about was getting out of there. Payton hadn’t heard a single word the kid standing in front of the class nervously speaking had said, as her fingers frantically tapped away on her phone. Looking back, what was she thinking?!?!

Payton – Cover for me

            Aubrey- Seriously?

            Payton- Problem?

            Aubrey- Yah

            Payton- Really? J

            Aubrey – Nah

            Payton- K

            Payton – G4I

Aubrey – 182

            Payton – U don’t hate me J Luv u

                  Five, four, three, two, and the bell finally rang. Payton shot out the door. Aubrey, her best friend since 6th grade, took her time and shoved the books she’d left behind in her backpack. Payton’s behavior though frustrating at times wasn’t surprising. She was head crazy about that boy, Reece Townsend, and it helped that Aubrey liked him as well.

With less than ten minutes to freshen up, get across campus to her car and make it to the dam in time to meet Reece, Payton didn’t have time for small talk with anyone. Dodging in and out of kids, she avoided eye contact with as many people as she possibly could. The boy’s football coach, Coach Duncan, was headed her way. His voice, undeniably recognizable, bounced off the walls and echoed through the corridor before he was physically present. When finally in view, she purposely looked at her feet and rushed passed him. No way was she making eye contact with him; questions about her brother and his playing time on the field at college would stall her.

“Whoa girl, where’s the fire?”

Coach grabbed her arm as she tried to rush past him, her whole body swung around forcing her to face him. Arm still in his grasp he shook his head. “Slow it down girl! If only my boys had moved half as fast this morning.”

Managing a slight smile, she pointed toward the bathroom. Coach raised his hands in the air shook them back and forth, stopping her from saying another single word. He wanted no part of what could pop out of that girl’s mouth. She was liable to say something for the shock value alone. He didn’t need to know, want to know, or care to know for that matter. He let her on her way, no questions asked. A healthy spritz of perfume, lip-gloss, duck-lip practice, and Payton climbed into her car.

“What took you so long?” he said.

Payton’s love of her life, well at least to a sixteen, nearly seventeen, year-old love struck teen. One look at his face with that smile and she melted. It was bad enough they attended different schools, but him a senior, narrowing down his college options meant she’d be stuck there without him. The thought of it made her cringe. She obsessed about him leaving on a daily basis, even when he asked her not to, but she couldn’t help it. Not today she told herself pushing the thoughts out of her head. The best part of his day was right then as he watched her walk toward him. He was sitting on the back of his tailgate, swinging his legs back and forth, waiting for her to join him. He tapped the cool metal, her cue to join him. She grinned. So freaking hot! He always looked that way to her, and all she wanted to do was wrap her arms around him and kiss that face of his! Her grin turned into a girlish giggle.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

“Nothing.”

“Whatever!” A cute smirk crossed his face. “Something.”

She grabbed his face in her hands, laughed out loud, and kissed him before stepping aside to hop up next to him on the tailgate, but Reece playfully pulled her back toward him instead. Standing face-to-face, she brushed his sandy-brown hair to one side revealing his green eyes. She could get lost in them; they were that pretty, at least to her.

“What?” he asked.

“Nothing,” Payton giggled. “You grabbed me, remember?”

“I did. But why are you staring at me like that?”

His breath hit her face. Truth be told all she wanted at that moment was for him to kiss her; really kiss her. Move Payton. Move now; she stepped back and took a deep breath.

“I’m just looking at you, that’s all. You’re kinda cute like that.”

He rolled his eyes. But Payton could tell by the boyish smirk that crossed his face that her comment had pleased him. She loved that look on his face. He looked a few years younger, like a real kid. It was sweet.

“You know I’m supposed to say that kinda stuff,” he said as seriously as he could, but it wasn’t working.

The long cotton skirt she’d chosen to wear that day wrapped around her legs as she swung them back and forth on the tailgate. Sandals, painted toes, and a T-Shirt completed her outfit. Her long dark hair with a delicate headband, complimenting her outfit, finished off her look.

“You look hot. But I know you know that, so I’m not going to tell you!”

He laughed. “Just kidding. You look amazing. Beautiful as usual!”

Payton’s face lit up. She leaned in and kissed him gently on the lips. Funny thing, though, she thought Reece was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen. They’d actually argued about that statement once. Guys aren’t beautiful, he’d stated. They could be handsome. Good looking, sexy, dope, hot or even cute, but not beautiful! Men were not beautiful. But it didn’t matter what he thought. To Payton he was, and she could look at him all day long.

“Hey, you never did answer my question,” he said.

“What question was that?”

“Why were you late?”

“You idiot!” She nudged him playfully. “I’m not late; you’re early, and for the record, I’m the one who’s usually waiting for you!”

He held her by the elbows, leaned in, and kissed her quickly on the lips. She would have kissed him back, but he’d already pulled away. Just as well, she wouldn’t have wanted to stop, and that wouldn’t have been good since time wasn’t on their side.

UNEDITED EXCERPT:

BITTER BETRAYAL Copyright © 2017 Amanda M. Thrasher

ISBN – 978-1-946329-18-9 & ISBN 978-1-946329-19-6 Tentative release April, 2017.

Amanda M Thrasher

 

Amanda Thrasher, Article, books, Cereal Authors, Life, Ramblings, Sharing, Uncategorized

Christmas Cake & Traditions

Growing up in England, it wasn’t unusual to have the traditional Christmas cake this time of year. British Christmas cakes, the original, are complete with marzipan, spices, brandy, and royal icing. My mom used to bake them and taught me how to bake them as well. If you’ve ever had the British version of the Christmas cake, you’d know they’re usually put into the acquired taste category. This is often because the spices can be quite strong and of course, ours have liquor in them (especially home made).  And since it’s added afterward, it isn’t cooked out during the baking process.

The cake is prepared and cooked two months before Christmas so that it can be stored and ‘fed’ with Brandy or Sherry, personal preference, weekly until Christmas. It contains the usual butter, flour, eggs, but also has spices (representing the wise men), black treacle, almonds and dried fruit. The marzipan rolled on top of apricot jam (helps it stick to the cake), and is then covered with Royal Icing (my favorite).  This final step in the process and isn’t applied until a few days before Christmas.

The cake takes four to four and half hours to cook. Once it’s completely cooled, it’s placed in a lined tin, turned upside down where it’s skewed with holes, and put upside in a tin for storage. Each week brandy or sherry is poured into the holes keeping the cake moist and filling it with flavor. This process is called ‘feeding’ the cake. A week before Christmas the cake is covered with the apricot jam, marzipan, and icing. The icing will harden, and the cake will be ready to served throughout the holiday season with coffee or another brandy.

My mom’s Christmas cake truly was delicious, never a slice left. The year I offered to make the cake, wasn’t a good year for the famous Christmas cake. It started off well, looked like it should when I pulled it out the oven. Once cool, I placed it in the lined tin and pierced it with holes. Thus began the process of ‘feeding’ the cake by pouring brandy into the holes. I did this for two months. A whole bottle of brandy went into the cake.

When it was time to decorate the cake, I’m not kidding I could hardly lift the tin to pull down the cake from the storage shelf. I completely understood there was a bottle of brandy in there (not sure it should have been an entire bottle), but the full bottle didn’t feel as heavy as the cake did. It felt as if it had gained three times its original weight. How did that happen? (Now I understand why there are so many jokes about heavy Christmas or fruit cakes). OMG, mine! I couldn’t lift the cake by myself to deliver it to my parent’s house, took two of us.  But once I got it there, I felt so proud that I had pulled off that cake, and it did look beautiful. Didn’t taste that great, but it looked gorgeous.

My mom admired the cake, complimented how it looked and praised the work that had gone into the process. My dad picked it up and burst out laughing (rightfully so). Mom gave him the stop it stare but then she tried to lift it and couldn’t help herself, burst out laughing as well. By then we were all laughing. That moment made it worth it. Cutting into the cake the brandy had kept it moist, and the icing and marzipan were delicious. It wasn’t the best tasting cake at all, in fact, it didn’t taste like mom’s, but again the brandy made it edible.

Most of it did get eaten that year, but I’m convinced that was because of the extra brandy, not the actual cake. I love these types of traditions; they bind people and families together. Mom was great at that, holding traditions together. I’d like to teach my girls how to make a cake like this or have them join in the process at least once. I know they likely won’t like the flavor, but I hope they can appreciate the process. I’ll have to find a new tradition in the kitchen for them.

If you do like Christmas cake, you must try cooking it the British way. It’s the original, the best (for that cake), and if you’ve acquired that flavor, tastes delicious.

Christmas Cake
Recipe from BBC Food (bbc.co.uk) find the process on the site.

500 g Currants
350 g Glazed Cherries
2 Oranges
175g Raisins
350g Sultans

4 Eggs
3 Egg whites

3 tsp Lemon juice
1 tsp Treacle, black

675 g of Icing Sugar
250 g Muscovado sugar, light
250 g Plain Flour
1 1/2 Spices, mixed

75 g Almonds
250 g Butter
675 g Marzipan

1/4 pt brandy or sherry (thus would have been my problem) not a bottle

3 tbs apricot jam.

Amanda M. Thrasher

Amanda Thrasher, Article, books, Cereal Authors, childrens stories, Excerpts, Fantasy, Fiction, Uncategorized, writer's life

The Mischief Series – It’s Special

Most writers have written a piece at some point in their lives that is special to them; I am no different. My piece has become a series, one that I will probably continue to write until my ideas no longer flow anymore. I always think of this piece as my mother’s book since I originally wrote it for her. Growing up in England, she loved the fairies, collected them and told me fairy stories for years. When diagnosed with a terminal illness, I wrote her a fairy story, Mischief in the Mushroom Patch. She never read the book in print but did read the first seven chapters. I told her the ending before she died. She made me promise to finish it and send it in. I had no idea that story would change my course from writer to author or how many people it would touch.

That book, my mother’s book, led to the creation of a character called Pearle. Based on the likeness of real live person I had never met, Jeni, requested by Beverly Hutton, whom I had never met. She had purchased my book Mischief in the Mushroom Patch and took the time to write me an email to tell me that she had enjoyed it. She also made a request, a suggestion, asking if I would consider creating a character with a disability since she thought her daughter would have loved Mischief in the Mushroom Patch. She said her daughter always asked, “Where were the books for me?”

After reading that email, I contacted her back and asked her to give me a minute to think. After a while, I created a beautiful little character by the name of Pearle. Placing her in a chariot, created by the elders, Pearle whizzes around the mushroom patch. However, though she can not walk, she can fly with ease. Pearle will forever remain in the Mischief Series. We have done much work with this series, Beverly Hutton and I. We visited the Shriner Hospital and donated books and made fairy wings with the children. Her daughter had fifty-three surgeries at that hospital; we also spent time with the children at the Texas Lions Camp, Jeni’s favorite. We spent all day with all of the children teaching them about writing and creating stories.

When you create a story, that is special to you, it is inevitable, it will touch others. I love this series. I do! The characters are sweet, loyal and it teaches kids and adults alike how to be kind. Kind is rare these days it seems.

Each book is written to stand alone, so it is not necessary to read them in order. My favorite so far is the third book in the series, Spider Web Scramble,  because it focuses on the characters working together to help Pearle achieve her goals. It won a Gold Mom’s Choice Awards® Recipient in its category and received multiple five-star Readers’ Favorite Reviews. I hope you enjoy this excerpt.

Chapter 3 – Preparation

The mist was thick early the next morning. They were leaving the mushroom patch and meeting at the meadow. From there they’d fly across the tall grass to the forest edge; the final destination was the forest itself. Lilly’s hair, though perfectly combed when she left, was now a matted mess. Pearle, eager to fly, sat patiently in her chariot, waiting for the others to arrive. Free fly days were her favorite; a time when despite her usual confinement to her chariot she was felt uninhibited and free. The hall monitors checked their pocket watches as the fairies breezed past them; it was early, even for fairies with so much energy to burn.

“Pearle, I couldn’t find you this morning,” Lilly giggled. “It was then that I knew you’d already be here.”

Pearle beamed and hovered out of her chair. She flew with ease as her tiny legs dangled below her. Her body felt as light as a feather. Darting in between her friends, giggling as she flew, she hummed her favorite fairy tune. Boris reached above his head and tugged playfully on the hem of her lilac dress. Laughing, she darted away from him and slipped through his fingers. He chuckled. Pearle, having so much fun, was always a joy for everyone to see. Her cheeks were flushed with the crisp cool air and her eyes sparkled as she flew in circles around them.

“Pearle, do slow down. If you continue to fly so fast, you shall tire yourself too early, will you not?” Lilly asked.

Boris gently tugged Lilly’s beautiful curls. “You’re not Mademoiselle,” he said. “Pearle can fly as fast or as high as she wants—after all, it’s our free fly day!”

Lilly’s lips puckered up. She knew Boris was right, but that didn’t stop her from worrying about Pearle. Everyone was protective of little Pearle, including Boris.

Boris lowered himself downward, hovered a perfect two inches off the ground, and nailed his landing perfectly. He was pleased that Lilly had not only noticed­, but also complimented him.

“Well done, Boris. Mademoiselle would be pleased with such a fine hover and landing.”

Jack was waiting for them at the edge of the meadow.

He patted Boris on his back. “What took you so long?” he joked.

“As soon as we get to the forest we’ll find our web, then we should ask permission to scramble.” Jack sounded serious. “Something tells me scrambling as a group and helping Pearle—no offense Pearle—will be harder than just jumping from web to web.”

“None taken, Jack,” Pearle said softly. “You can have my fairy-twists for a fairy month if you like.” She then pulled out a handful of fairy dust and asked, “Did everyone bring dust with them?”

Boris and Jack shook their heads.

“Why?” Boris asked.

“Because I think we’re supposed to gift the spiders if we borrow their webs. Remember, the elders will not have gifted on our behalf this time,” Pearle said.

“That’s right,” Lilly agreed.

Rosie, Ivy, Pearle, and Lilly had all been to the dusting parlor to receive their allotted amount of dust from the dust monitor.

“It is possible we won’t need fairy dust today,” Lilly stated. “But if we do, we’ll share.”

“On the count of three then?” Jack hollered.

“Count of three,” the fairies replied.

“One a-fairy, two a-fairy, three a-fairy, go!”

They flew as fast as they could above the tips of the tall grass, over the meadow, to the other side of the forest. They knew the largest spider clan lived deep there among the large oak trees; their webs shouldn’t be too hard to find. Lilly had envisioned small groupings of webs to practice upon as a group for their first few times. If they could complete a small course, they could practice a larger course later. They still had the power of the dust once the actual race took place. Fairy dust would increase the springiness of the webs. Boris and Jack were already excited about that part. The extra power was rumored to throw fairies so high into the air that they hadn’t come down for hours, though it was just a rumor. It didn’t take long to find a group of webs. Boris and Jack inspected them for holes. They didn’t look too shabby; not brand new, but the webs certainly hadn’t been neglected.

“These are in pretty decent shape,” Jack said, checking them out. He landed on one of them, jumped up and down, and flipped over. Landing on his rear he yelled, “Is anybody there?”

No answer. Jack hollered again.

“Hello. Is anybody there?”

Jack’s voice echoed through the forest, bounced off the trees, and returned to him. He shrugged his shoulders, winked at Lilly, and flew high into the treetops. He didn’t see any signs of a single spider.

“I think it’s safe to say we can use the webs,” he said. “No one’s home.”

Boris clasped his hands and yelled, “If these are your webs, could we please talk to you?” Nothing.

“Lilly, do you think we can jump?” Jack asked.

Lilly thought for a moment. “Since we can’t ask for permission, if we gift the spiders, it should be fine to use the webs.” She stuck her hand in her pocket and pulled out a handful of beautiful sparkling dust. “Dust. We must leave fairy dust. It’s the polite and right thing to do.”

Boris had a worried look on his face. Time spent in the dust factory for wasting fairy dust still on his mind, he had to ask. “What if they’re not in the forest, Lilly? Wouldn’t we be wasting the dust? You know the penalty for wasting fairy dust.”

Lilly shook her head. “Boris, if the spiders aren’t coming out because they’re afraid, we must make it right by offering a gift.” She put her hand on Boris’ shoulder. “If they truly aren’t here, maybe someone else can benefit from the dust. I think Mademoiselle would tell us to leave the gift.” She placed the dust at the bottom of the webs. “We’d like to be able to come back and practice. If we gift the spiders, we’ll be able to do that, so the dust stays!”

The fairies would gift the spiders, then scramble the webs or at least try. Boris and Jack excluded, the fairies placed dust at the foot of the web. They knew how to jump the webs and scramble the course individually. But the challenging part was figuring out how to scramble from web to web with Pearle. That would take lots of practice and they didn’t have much time. Jumping was one thing, but scrambling meant jumping from web to web with no wings, and the actual race would be timed. If they could get Pearle through the course and to the last web, she could fly on her own from there, and at least have a shot to reach her star. But how were they going to make that happen? They were about to figure that out.

Boris jumped onto the web first. No flying allowed, Jack reminded him. He sprung into the air, arms waving and legs flailing. Jack followed. Ivy jumped onto the web next, followed by Rosie. Lilly lowered herself onto the sticky web. Pearle, sitting on the web, was being bounced up and down as the others jumped on the web. There has to be a way to assist Pearle or Mademoiselle wouldn’t have shared such beautiful words with her, thought Lilly. Your physical size, my little one, is not an issue; it’s your strength from within that will determine a win, a strong heart that will set you apart. Lilly asked everyone to stop bouncing for a moment.

“I think I have a plan that just might work,” Lilly announced.

Everyone stopped and waited for Lilly to explain. The gleam in her eyes indicated she’d figured something out. But before she could announce what it was, Boris made an announcement of his own.

“I have an idea,” blurted out Boris.

“What is it, Boris?” Lilly asked, genuinely wondering about his plan.

“We could fairy bomb Pearle. You know, like we do off the lily pads into the brook when we swim. But now we’d bomb Pearle from one web to the next web.” Boris waited to see what everyone, specifically Lilly, would say.

To his surprise, Lilly was smiling.

“Boris, as odd as that sounds, you may be onto something. I like your plan better than mine!” Lilly announced, surprising everyone. “In fact, I think we could fairy bomb Pearle quite nicely from one web to the next web and scramble the whole course if we all work together.” She smiled and added, “Well done, Boris. Nice one!”

Jack chimed in as well. “Don’t forget that on the day of the actual scramble, the webs will be covered in dust. Extra bouncy. Pearle could spring from web to web on her fairy rear.” He pointed to the branches above and at a web located to the left of where they stood. “It just might work. We should try it and see.”

Pearle giggled at the very thought of it. “I’m willing to try.”

“Oh my!” Lilly squealed. “It’s going to work. I just know it. Boris, we have a plan!”

They had a plan all right. A fairy-bombing, web-scrambling, plan!

Copyright © 2016 Amanda M. Thrasher

Amanda M. Thrasher

Spider Web Scramble Mom’s Choice Awards® Gold Recipient

The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA) evaluates products and services created for children, families and educators. The program is globally recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. The organization is based in the United States and has reviewed thousands of entries from more than 55 countries. Around the world, parents, educators, retailers and members of the media look for the MCA mother-and-child Honoring Excellence seal of approval when selecting quality products and services for children and families.