Amanda Thrasher, Article, author, books, Cereal Authors, Dellani Oakes, Excerpts, Fiction, interviews, publishing, Ramblings, review, Romance, So Much It Hurts, Social media, Uncategorized, writer's life, Writing Process

‘So Much It Hurts’ ~ Another hit by Dellani Oakes

Dellani Oakes

Many authors hold multiple positions in other areas of our lives. However, regardless of how busy we are, nor how many books we have written, it does not change the fact that each time we have a new release we feel the same as any other author exposing themselves to the world for the very first time. Feelings are often are the combination of joy, nervous anticipation, excitement, and a slight element of fear (at least for me). Dellani Oakes is no exception to the rule of a woman with multiple roles; she is a busy wife, mother, Blog Talk Radio host, publisher, and an author. She lives in Florida, grew up in Western Nebraska, has lived in multiple states, and being a people watcher by nature, this has given her the opportunity to gather information over the years for her work.

She’s written multiple novels, but now has a new romance, set to release November 1, 2017, from Tirgearr Publishing, titled – So Much It Hurts. I’m thrilled to say I had the opportunity to interview Dellani about her work and her new novel.

The main character, Pia Donovan, Pia has just moved to the City from a tiny town in Nebraska. Overwhelmed by the fast pace, and after a long day of getting lost in the worst part of the city possible, she finally arrives at her destination, a historic, grand hotel in the downtown area. Picking her way across the rutted ground in front of the building, she loses her balance, practically falling into the arms of Flynn Chancellor. Handsome and friendly, Flynn presents a happy distraction for a girl who’s trying to recover from a broken heart.

Questions:

Amanda M. Thrasher

Amanda:

1) You have written several novels. Is this your first romance?

Dellani: I have written other straight romances, but this is the first published romance. The others are either romantic suspense or sci-fi.

2) Does Pia resemble anyone you know?

Dellani: She resembles me in several ways. First of all, she’s an academic brat. My father was a college professor. For Pia, it’s her mom. We both grew up in Nebraska, though she’s from the east and I grew up out west. It’s still the small town girl vibe. Also, her musical loves are mine – hands down, exactly like me.

3) Is the protagonist, Pia, a heroine, victim or neither?

Dellani: She is certainly no victim, though she has some hurt in her life. She does suffer a little in the story, but she rises above. I wouldn’t call her a heroine, as there is no real villain. However, she is a strong female lead.

4) When I think of romance, I often think of love stories. Is this a typical love story?

Dellani: It is a love story, with a bit of a surprise. If you’re asking if this follows the standard romance formula, no. But it is a sweet story of loss, love and redemption.

5) I am sure some scenes maybe steamy. How would you rate them, R rated or X?

Dellani Oakes

Dellani: This particular story is very mild. There are some heavy make-out scenes and certain acts are mentioned, but there is no graphic sex in the story. It’s more of an understood thing. Because there are some sensitive people out there, I would give it a light R. It would be appropriate for 17+

6) Being a visual writer (myself), do you have to visualize your scenes. If so, how fun 🙂 but on another note, is it emotionally draining at times being in someone else’s relationship?

Dellani: Yes and yes. I see the scenes play out in detail. I hear them talking in their individual voices, and try to capture their individual styles.

There are times when character’s don’t get along. That’s inevitable. It’s hard when the actions of one character adversely affect another. Sometimes, there’s reparation. Other times, there’s an irreparable split. Those are hard, especially if I really like both characters.

7) I know by nature you are an observer; the material is all around you, but writing romance, is it hard to find good relationships to mimic these days?

Dellani: I don’t really try to mimic any relationships. If anything, their couple dynamic is similar to my own marriage. We’ve been together 35 years and still have fun together. Our style is a little avaunt-garde but it works for us.

8) If you had to tell your audience/readers one thing about this book that you want them to know?

Dellani: Don’t pick it up expecting a “typical romance”. Anyone who knows my work already knows this, but new readers don’t. I have never followed the boy meets girl, boy and girl fight, boy and girl makeup and live horribly ever after. I can’t even imagine people hating one another throughout a book, then realizing they are in love. I give it a year—maybe.

My couples meet, feel a spark and work together against conflict. They resolve their issues and work through them together.

9) Flynn sounds as if he is gorgeous and delightful, but is he a nice person? Don’t answer if it gives away your story 🙂

Dellani: Flynn is a great guy, but he has some baggage that even he doesn’t recognize. He’s learning and growing as a person. I love Flynn. (I love Yancy and Pia as well) 🙂

10) While writing romance is hard to put original spins on twists that are already out there and make them your own?

Dellani: Yes, it can be. People have certain expectations for romance, which I don’t give them. I do my best to find ways to bring my characters closer, not drive them apart. Not to say they don’t have problems, but at least they try. Finding a new spin isn’t easy, but I hope I still deliver a good story.

11) Greenlee honestly could have been any kid, in any town, anywhere in America. Could Pia be any woman, anywhere, in any small town or is she special?

Dellani: She’s very universal, in my eyes. Although she is a musician, she could be anyone, anywhere—a displaced small town girl in the big city. I love that she’s like that, but retains her individuality – just as Greenlee did. (I love her)

12) Who is your favorite character in this book, and why?

Dellani: I love all my leads, but as far as favorite – I’m gonna have to go with Oz. He’s not a major character, but he is pivotal. Oz is special, a young man with Asperger’s, who lives down the hall from Pia. He is fiercely loyal, intuitive and sees into a person with a great clarity. He talks to Pia about seeing the pattern. At first, she’s not quite sure, but when she sings for a group of the residents, she sees it quite clearly. Glancing at Oz, she realizes that he knows what she’s seeing. It’s a cool moment.

13) What would you tell your fans excites you about this release?

Dellani: I love this book! I fell in love with the characters, I love the plot twists and I can’t wait for it to be out so that they can enjoy it too.

So Much It Hurts by Dellani Oakes

14) Did you learn anything about your self while writing this piece?

Dellani: Yes, I learned that I’m very sarcastic and have bizarre sense of humor. Oh wait, I knew that already. Let’s say that the dialogue made that abundantly clear.

15) I cannot go back and reread my pieces for a long time. I would change too many things (it is a personal author/writer thing). Now your new book is ready for release, is there a single thing you would have written differently and will you ever go back and rewrite it?

Dellani: Usually, I’m the same way. I read my books later and find things I’d change. This time, I can’t say that. I am really pleased with how this came out. Of course, five years from now, I might feel differently, but right now, no.

16) Will you write a sequel to this piece?

Dellani: I’m not sure about a sequel. It’s possible, but I think I tied up the loose threads successfully. However, I’m very likely to bring these characters into other books set in the same city. There are a few incidental characters that the three core characters encounter, who are featured in other of my books (which aren’t published yet).

17) Is there an element of mystery to this romance?

Dellani: For once, there is no real mystery involved. Since I mostly write romantic suspense, I thought it would be interesting to break away from that for once. I think I was successful.

18) How do you define success as an author?

Dellani: If I get positive feedback from readers, I feel I’ve been successful. I would love to be the writer making millions (who wouldn’t?) but I’m realistic. Those contracts are rare. If I make even one reader laugh, cry or sweat, I have done my job.

19) Define the best makebelieve day as a writer?

Dellani: My best makebelieve day would be to have a movie company call me up and tell me they want to turn one of my books into a movie and I can pick the leads.

20) If you could speak to a stadium full of Dellani Oakes fans about this book, what is the very first thing you would say after the initial introduction?

Dellani: I think I’d channel comedienne Minnie Pearl. I’d walk onto the stage in a big, flowered hat, wave my hand and say, “Howdy!” Once I had everyone laughing, then I’d start to talk.

Excerpt:

“You weren’t kidding about how close it all is. I’ll have to explore Making Music soon. I can’t go long without a fix.”

“We can go in now, if you want.” He turned to face the store.

The front window was filled with shiny saxophones, sparkling flutes, and tantalizing objects Flynn couldn’t name. It caught his artist’s eye, drawing him in.

“Today’s goal is campus.”

“As the lady wishes.” He swung her around to face the way they’d been going. “I should see if they’ll let me do a camo piece there. I could have fun with all the shiny objects. Matching things like metal and leather is tricky.”

“I imagine so. The textures and the way it catches the light. And suede versus tanned hide would be an additional challenge.”

“You must have taken painting classes.”

“A few. Mom thought we should all have a well-rounded education. Her granddad was an artist in Mexico. Quite well known. Maybe you know the name. Rafael Dominguez?”

Flynn stopped in his tracks. “No! Really? Shit!” His hand flew to his head, searching for a cap that wasn’t there. He grasped his hair instead. “I am the hugest fan of his work. My first copies were of his Santa Rosada Sitting. The colors are so hard to match, I couldn’t do it justice. It’s phenomenal.”

Pia’s eyes watered and she sniffled. “That was my great-grandmother. He painted that of her just before she died.”

“The play of light…the textures…his use of bold colors. It just leapt off the canvas. Incredible! Is it true he made his own paints?”

“Yes. Mom even has some containers of his original paints. Would you believe, they’re still good? We don’t use them, of course, but Mom has his recipes. Virtually unintelligible, though. We’re hoping someone will be able to read through them and figure them out. He used a very bizarre shorthand, since he couldn’t read or write.”

Flynn dug his hands into his pockets, biting his lower lip. “I need a project for my final semester. I chose the work of Rafael Dominguez. Do you have copies of the notes, or could you get them? Because I would be honored to try to translate them.”

“I do! Well, Mom does. We loaned the originals to a museum, along with some of his paintings, and sketches. They scanned them for us and put them in a display case. I can make that happen.”

Swept away by the moment, Flynn grabbed her face and kissed her. It was brash and impulsive, but he didn’t even think. As soon as he realized what he was doing, he considered stopping, but Pia took his face in her hands and kissed him back. From there, it took on a life of its own and he couldn’t stop. Sighing contentedly, Pia disengaged and smiled up at him.

“Unexpected,” she murmured. “Nice.”

“I’m sorry. I got carried away…”

“Don’t apologize unless I rack your balls.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He pulled her close, resting his forehead against hers. “Does that mean I can hope for another?”

“We’ll see.” She cut her eyes at him, grinning. Swishing away, she walked down the street.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

Links: I’m lots of other places, but these are spots where I actually share posts.

Dellani Amazon page

Dellani Oakes FB page

Blogspot http://writersanctuary.blogspot.com/

WordPress 

Twitter 

LinkedIn

Google+

Blog post by Amanda M. Thrasher

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Amanda Thrasher, author, books, Excerpts, Fiction, Life, Sharing, Uncategorized, writer's life, Writing Process, YA

BITTER BETRAYAL, NOT A TYPICAL TEEN ROMANCE

Being a mother of two teen girls, I am often surrounded by groups of teenagers. The stories that they share from time to time are both disturbing and concerning. Teen novels often glorify teen dating and teen romances, but there are so many dangers out there in the real world that many people do not always discuss the ugly side of dating for fear of shaming their kids or admitting it could happen in their family communities. After listening to more than one story about terrible, dangerous dating experiences of teens, interviewing teens and listening to their examples of neurotic behavior when where actual individuals personalities were compromised and changed while dating due to their emotions, I was compelled to write a novel based on the ugly side of teen dating. I set about writing a book titled Bitter Betrayal, that shows the parallel lives of a teen boy and girl and how they think and react differently to the exact same situations that they find directly or indirectly involved in. I also wanted to point out how certain situations become dangerous and life-changing within in a blink of an eye. 

The purpose of the book is to demonstrate how the simplest actions in the name of fun can have devastating consequences. Some results are everlasting and can’t be undone. And the circumstances and decisions themselves, due to the maturity level of impressionable teens, is often confusing and leaves lasting emotional scars that can take years to overcome, if ever. Consequences of reckless actions can put kids, families, friends, and communities at risk. I hope that the story I’ve written triggers discussions, emotions, and allows teens—girls and boys—to make smart, intuitive decisions, and that they remember to respect each other’s boundaries.

I understand that the Young Adult (YA) category covers the ages of thirteen through eighteen years. But I believe impressionable teens—thirteen through sixteen years old—aren’t as emotionally mature as the older teens, yet they’re in the same category. For this reason, I intentionally kept the language and descriptive scenes in Bitter Betrayal clean so all teens could enjoy the book. The book is a two-time award-winner (The Mom’s Choice Awards® Gold. (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, and an Apple Literary Summer Ebook Award winner).  Here’s an excerpt; enjoy.

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 . . . his or hers?”

         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 class. As her fingers frantically tapped away on her phone, Payton didn’t hear a single word from the kid speaking nervously in front of the class. Looking back, what was she thinking?!?!

Payton: Cover for me

Aubrey: Seriously?

Payton: Problem?

Aubrey: Yah

Payton: Really? J

         Aubrey: Nah

         Payton: K

         Aubrey: BTW 182

         Payton: U don’t hate me 🙂 Luv u

         Five, four, three, two, and the bell finally rang. Payton shot out the door. Aubrey, her best friend since sixth grade, shoved the books Payton had left behind in her own 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 students, 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 past him. No way did she want him stopping her and stalling her with questions about her brother and his playing time at college.

“Whoa girl, where’s the fire?”

Coach grabbed her arm as she tried to rush past him and 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 and 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. She must have sped, because she made it in record time.

“What took you so long?” he asked.

The love of Payton’s life, well, at least to a sixteen-year-old, love-struck teen. One look at his smile and she melted. It was bad enough that they attended different schools, but he was a senior, in the process of narrowing down his college options, which meant she’d be stuck there without him. The thought of it made her cringe. On a daily basis she obsessed about him leaving, 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 jump up next to him. She grinned. So freaking hot! He always looked that way to her, and all she wanted to do was kiss that face of his! Her grin turned into a giggle.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

“Nothing.”

“Whatever!” A cute smirk crossed his face. “Something, or you wouldn’t be laughing.”

She grabbed his face in her hands, laughed out loud, and kissed him before hopping up next to him on the tailgate. Right before she jumped up, Reece playfully pulled her back toward him instead. Now 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.

“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 thought as 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 grin on 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. She stared a second too long, capturing that face a moment longer in her mind.

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

He tapped the tailgate again and held out his hand. So thoughtful! Payton thought, and this time she jumped up and joined him. The long cotton skirt she’d chosen to wear that day wrapped around her legs as she swung them back and forth off the back of the truck. 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.

“Aubrey covering for you?” he asked as he rummaged through a sack next to him.

“Yep. Advisory. Shouldn’t be too hard.”

She was always late getting back when they met for lunch, but there was no way she was going to tell him that. He’d cut their time short for sure. Payton had never struggled with confidence before Reece, but he unknowingly made her question herself. She didn’t need to worry, though; she was popular, a good student, considered hot, and well liked.

“Whole or half?” he asked, holding a sandwich in his hand.

“Half,” she answered, knowing she couldn’t eat in front of him anyway.

The breeze was cool but not cold, a perfect day for a picnic on the back of her boyfriend’s truck. Why did they have to go back to school?

         Reece’s phone buzzed. She didn’t glance at it, but she wanted to. It buzzed again. He didn’t read the text, but did check the time. Pointing at the sandwich she hadn’t touched, he nudged her to take a bite. She didn’t think he’d noticed she hadn’t eaten, but he had.

“We’re going to be late if you don’t hurry up. Eat.”

She leaned into his arm. It felt good just being close to him. The feeling of closeness made her want to kiss him, and she had no idea if he knew that. It was so stupid and irritating that she felt this way every time they were together. Not to mention when it was time to head back to school. It made leaving incredibly difficult. Payton missed him before they’d even left. Surely this was normal for a teen like her, wasn’t it? She looked at her sandwich just as Reece took a bite of his.

“I’m not really hungry.” She hesitated for a second, opened up her mouth to speak, but closed it again.

“What is it?” he asked, knowing she wanted to say something.

The words unexpectedly flew out of her mouth, surprising even her.

“We could cut class.”

Reece’s eyes darted toward her.

“Stay here and hang out a bit longer,” she added.

Payton Phillips suggesting they cut class. Sweet! He wasn’t sure if he was shocked, but he was definitely impressed that it was her idea. They’d been together nearly two years, but she’d never once insinuated they should cut class before. Grinning, he shook his head.

“I can’t. I’ve got a test this afternoon. No pass, no play, remember?”

Even though she knew he was right, her heart sank.

“But I can’t believe you just suggested that—it’s something I might think of, might, but I didn’t think you would.” Reese took a drink of his Coke. “Um. OK then. I think you just kinda got yourself in a bind. I might hold you to it later!”

She didn’t care. Hell, Advisory or Reece?
Seriously . . . was that a real question? Worth the trouble if she got caught? Hell yeah! Reece jumped off the tailgate of his white dodge and stood in front of her. One arm wrapped around her neck, one around her waist, he kissed her, a real kiss, and she kissed him back. An incoming text interrupted them. Flushed cheeks, heart racing, and although Payton wouldn’t have agreed in that moment, it was for the best that the text came in. They may not have left that spot for a while longer, and then they both would have been late. Not to mention Aubrey couldn’t cover for that long. After all, Aubrey wasn’t a miracle worker. Covering for lunch and half of sixth period, Advisory, was no problem, but more than that rose the red flags. Reece’s phone buzzed again; this time he answered the text.

Reece: K CUS – DTB

         (OK See you soon, don’t text back)

“Hey, can I ask you a question?”

Reece shrugged his shoulders. “Sure.”

“How come when you text me sometimes, and apparently others.” Her raised eyebrows indicated she’d read his response.

“Yeah,” he said hesitantly.

“You don’t let me text you back?”

He looked puzzled.

“What are you talking about?”

“What’s with the DTB, don’t text back?” she asked.

Reece shoved his phone into his back pocket and packed up the trash. Payton waited for his response.

“What? Seriously?” He laughed. “That’s your question?”

She nodded. “Yeah. That’s it,” she said, moving her foot in tiny circles in the dirt. “Like, if you text me first, why can’t I text you a response back?”

He grabbed his phone and pointed to her texts. Now she wished she hadn’t asked such a stupid question. It felt like she was invading his privacy or something, but a simple explanation hadn’t seemed too much to ask for a second ago.

“Really, you want to know why?” He didn’t wait for a response. “It’s simple. Sometimes I’m in class. Sometimes I can’t talk for various reasons. Like right now, I’m here with you, and dip-wad Walker is looking for me. Or sometimes I’m driving, at practice, whatever.”

He glanced at his phone to check the time. “But right now I’ve gotta go, and so do you.”

DTB. A way to communicate without communicating. Cute, wasn’t it? Was it? Why was she suddenly questioning it?

Amanda M Thrasher Website

To Order Bitter Betrayal 

Book Trailer

 

Amanda Thrasher, books, Cereal Authors, Dellani Oakes, JD Holiday, Karen Vaughan, Rachel Rueben, Ruth Davis Hays, Stephanie Osborn

It’s Our 5th Anniversary & We’re Celebrating!

 

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I can’t believe it’s been five years!  You know they say for a 5th anniversary you’re supposed to buy wood but the only thing I can think of that a writer would want that’s wooden is maybe a pencil?  Okay, how about a paperweight?  Hey, you know paper is technically made from trees, imagine it, I can be the Oprah of loose leaf paper…

Oprah Meme

Call me crazy but I don’t see anyone getting excited over paper products.  As you see, tradition isn’t very helpful when it comes to a fifth anniversary.  However instead of going on about how lame these gift traditions are, I’d rather explain why we decided to do this blog in the first place…

Once upon a time, a group of authors got together and decided form a collective blog where we shared book excerpts, writing tips, or just plain ranted.  Today, with over 1,100 posts, we’ve surprised even ourselves by the amount of work we’ve done and I can only speak for myself but I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished here.  If it weren’t for this blog, I wouldn’t have started, let alone finished my romance novel, Fedelta.

This blog keeps me accountable, it forced me to take my career seriously.  It also keeps me surrounded by other authors who are also pursuing their dream and that’s infectious.

As I look back on the last five years, I noticed that many of the authors that started out with us are no longer around.  Some had health problems or money issues, while one of us actually died!  It’s been quite the journey nonetheless and the fact that we’re still here, and still writing, tells you about our determination.  This isn’t our hobby, we’re serious!

Anyway, enough of my babbling, I wanted to showcase the works of our authors here and hope you take the time to pick up one of our books.  Just click on the graphics, and it will take you to that author’s Amazon page.

Dellani Oakes Author of Sci-Fi & Romance:

Dellani s Sci Fi 1

Dellani s Romace Collage

J.D. Holiday: Author of Children’s Books & Short Stories:

JD Holiday Collage 1

Karen Vaughan: Author of Cozy Mysteries:

Karen Vaughans Collage

Amanda M. Thrasher: Author of YA & Children’s Books:

Amanda Thrasher s Collage 1

Amanda s YA Novels Collage

Ruth Davis Hays Author of Fantasy Novels:

Ruth Davis Hays Book Cover Collage 1

Rachel Rueben: Author of Romance & YA

Rachel Rueben Collage 1

Stephanie Osborn: Author of Sci-Fi & Mystery Novels:

Stephanie Osborn s Book Collage 1

Stephanie Osborn Mystery Collage

I guess the moral to this story is, to always surround yourself with people who are doing the thing you want to do.  Despite what the naysayers tell you, you can succeed at a career in publishing.  It just takes time and dedication.  A few years ago, there was a TED Talk concerning the subject of grit and how success is usually determined not by intelligence or talent, but by grit.  Grit is often defined as determination and/or resolve.  After seeing that video, this blog immediately came to mind, because I can say without a doubt, that the Cereal Authors are some of the grittiest authors you will ever meet and I mean that with all the love in the world.  ❤

Anyways, happy anniversary guys, it’s been a privilege to know you all and to be part of this blog.  And here’s to the next chapter of our journey…

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Most of the images in this post are courtesy of Pixabay

 

 

 

Amanda Thrasher

Celebrate with Us! More About Amanda Thrasher

Our spotlight finally falls on the lovely Amanda Thrasher. Honestly, she doesn’t need a spotlight, because she lights up the room with her smile. Publisher, author, mother of teens (the woman is a saint) she’s constantly on the go. We’re pleased she was able to take a few minutes from her busy life to drop in and say hello.

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Amanda’s Bio:

Amanda M. Thrasher was born in England, moved to Texas and resides there still. Author of children’s books including picture books, middle-grade chapter books, young adult (YA) novels, and a reader’s theater written for the Texas Municipal Courts Education Center (DRSR) Driving on the Right Side of the Road program, titled What If . . . A Story of Shattered Lives. She conducts workshops, writes a blog, and contributes to an online magazine.

Amanda is a multiple Gold Recipient of the Mom’s Choice Awards in YA, General Fiction, and early reader, chapter books. 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.

The Greenlee Project, a book about the consequences of bullying and cyberbullying, also won the first place Young Adult Book Award at the 16th annual North Texas Book Festival (NTBF). The NTBF helps schools, public libraries, and literacy programs in North Texas. Since its inception, it has awarded more than $45,000.00 in grants for literacy.

As Chief Executive Officer of Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, an independent publisher founded by authors, she assists authors with their work and continues to write.

Amanda’s Interview:

Have you ever, over the years, lost your self in a certain piece (novel) to such a degree your family, friends, and even YOU, didn’t recognize yourself, and if so was it worth it?

I remember so clearly the day I decided to write The Greenlee Project. It wasn’t with the usual excitement or exhilaration that I typically feel when starting a new project; it was a with a sense of urgency and desperation to try and do something, anything, to stop kids from being so cruel to each other through social media. Having teens at home, watching their actions, and listening to the words of their conversations and their friend’s conversations, sitting on school campuses, attending football games, and visiting with students that shared their bullying stories, the more disgusted with social media and bullying I became. I knew The Greenlee Project would have to be written.

When I created my character, Greenlee, she could have been any kid, anywhere, in any part of the world, and that made the task of creating her brutal believable journey that much sadder; she was so normal. It put me in a very dark place. It was incredibly depressing researching all of the lost kids due to bullying, and ensuring the proper emotions from all parties involved (Greenlee, bullies, parents, and the friends in the book), literally had me in tears on multiple occasions while writing scenes.

Withdrawing noticeably from my family and friends, rarely engaging in conversations or laughter, I finally finished the book. It was a relief. My family constantly asked, “What is wrong with you?” I didn’t have a right answer because I didn’t know. I believe writing ‘The Greenlee Project’ was worth it because I think the book helps tweens, teens, and parents, reflect on the effects of cruel words and social media bullying has on others and their lives. I felt a different kind of sadness with Bitter Betrayal; almost a need to tell the ugly truth of consequences and action vs. glorifying teen issues.

Describe your Muse and the working relationship you share.

Um. Mine honestly change with each new book that I write; often the main character, but sometimes the secondary or auxiliary character will play a stronger role. I put myself completely in ‘their’ head, and it helps me to write what they would feel, do, think, or how they’d act, etc. It allows me to pay attention to the world as they would, often in unlikely places, such as grocery stores, movies, and football games. Being observant but in their shoes.

How long does it take you to write and illustrate a book? Or, What is the longest it has taken you to write a book?

I’m not an illustrator, but I’m a slow writer. 1) Time. 2) I cannot write, just to write. I have never struggled with writer’s block, knock on wood, and always know the story that I’m going to write before I start. I tend to map it out, complete with beginning, middle, and end. Of course, it can change along the way. But if I can’t sit down and write without chaos, I feel rushed and frustrated. My words are empty and merely appear on the paper, flat. I prefer to write with emotion and feeling; words that count, not solely for a word count. Therefore it often takes me a year to write a piece; but that includes the entire process, edit, etc.

What are your publishing goals? Meaning: Would you like to become a bestseller or just make a comfortable living at it?

I can’t imagine any writer/author that wouldn’t want to become a best-seller, but it’s not my place to say that. I would love to be on that list, but not for the reasons people may think. It will always be my goal to write the’ one,’ the legacy piece. The ‘one’ that lasts the test of time. The ‘one’ that when I’m dead and gone, and my children’s, children, are grown, people will say to them and others, “I love this book, it’s my favorite. It touched me and made me think.” Maybe they cried or got mad, laughed or got sad, but it meant something. They may not remember my name, but if they say, “I can’t remember who wrote it, but I can tell you the story by heart,” that would mean as much. I think writers, writers in it for the long haul, the ones that are going to write no matter what would love a legacy piece. What we write will be left behind. If it touches others, have wonderful is that?

What does your favorite book say to you? What do you feel it might say to someone else? (could be either your own work or that of someone else)

I have a few favorite books. Books from my childhood that I’ve never forgotten, they sit in my office today. C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe. It taught me how to love a great story. Along with Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, which taught me to never judge a book by its cover (characters). Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, my all-time favorite classic story, Pride and Prejudice a close second, taught me that love, money, and betrayal go hand in hand. And I love great biographies; reading about the lives of people that have shaped the world. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson; I loved this book! Many interesting lessons in this book, but what stood out to me was the demanding the best of everything, materials, design, people, vs. being able to just mass produce, manufacturing, to define your product or company and stand out. He was eccentric but brilliant. Demanding, but at times odd. The biography was well written; loved it!

What makes you laugh or cry?

I need to laugh more…wow…that sounds awful! I work too many hours and do not have enough downtime or writing time. But if I had to say what makes me laugh it would be the simple things such as an off colored joke from time to time, things that my teens think are genuinely funny, but as they’re trying to tell me, it’s not funny at all, that in itself makes it funny. My grandkids at times, again, when they don’t realize it, and my dogs.

What makes me cry: I hate being hurt, who doesn’t? And will limit my time with people because of past relationships from years ago. I have deep empathy for others and their situations, but can’t help but tear up if it involves children. Kids. They get me every time.

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