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

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Blog post by Amanda M. Thrasher

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Article, Cereal Authors, JD Holiday, Truth, As Strange As Fiction, writer's life

Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Desperate Mind

perfume-labTruth, As Strange As Fiction:

Desperate Mind
by
J.D. Holiday*

I have come crossed a few people in my life who for one reason or another have found something or other about themselves that they were afraid would be found out and to cover it they made up an unbelievable story to hide their secret.
This person is the first I came across to come up with such an elaborate lie to hide they’re desperate secret.
It was the man who hired me at my lab job in a cosmetic factory where I was a a sample girl at the time back in the early 1970s. My job was making samples for the customers and taking bacteria samples and sending them for quality control. The man’s name was Mark* and he was intelligent, and probably attended a ivy leaque school, attractive, well dressed with brown hair and long sideburns always neatly trimmed. But he was also insufferable to deal with. He had to habit it of making everyone feel they were stupid because he knew so much more than they did about the cosmetic business and his reprimands would be sharp, loud and everyone would hear when he told you with attitude, ‘go back and think some more about what you were doing and do it correctly’ eye roll and all. I, myself, was afraid to disappoint him for fear of being reprimanded. But in retrospect I think that made me do my very best. As for Mark, new looking back with what I learn about him, if that was his only flaw I would have to say it wasn’t much at all.
I never look at people and see them through their religion, their color, gender, their looks or anything else, and never dared to assumed their sexual preference. As a child I remember learning for myself that if I smiled and was nice to people they would do the same to me. Well, you know how that turned out, but I’m a dreamer and really liked being liked so I kept that up through most my life. Simply, I treat people as I want to be treated and if that’s one basis flaw, if it is a flaw, I have.
As the boss of this lab Mark’s main skill was to make sure that the samples were exactly what the customer ordered. And boy, was he good at it! He could take any mistake a lab techs made whether it be the eyeshadow, face makeup, creams of all kinds, mascara, you name it and he could name what was missing or had too much of in it to made it right. Nothing left the lab to be sent to a customer unless Mark approving it. And he was rarely wrong.
Mark was friends with one of the owners’ son, Harry* who was the supervisor in the factory making sure that production ran well. Harry was a skawny guy, with drooping shoulders, losing his short whitish blond hair and wearing gray overalls daily.
Very different from Mark in every way.
The lab itself was made up of cheap kitchen cabinets along four walls of the lab with two rows of cabinets occuping the center back to back. My station in the lab was in the far dark corner, against a wall and pretty much hidden from sight by a make-up formulas filing cabinet, and far away from the long glass picture windows. Mark and Harry’s desks were side by side right in front of my station.
The two of them spent many an hour just sitting at their desks which happened to be right in front of me and they did nothing but talk as their jobs required just to monitor things on occasion, but most of the time, with little to do there they sat. If they weren’t friends they certainly spent a lot of time together in the lab.
As part of my job I not only made samples but I had to take care of the sample room where samples of every product ever made in the company’s 40 years or so was housed and I was in charge of it. The only other key was in Mark’s desk. I had to add a sample of everything made daily by all the lab technicians. So I spent part of my time away from my desk and when I was at my desk I didn’t pay any attention to what Mark and Harry talked about so I have no insight into how close they really were.
But all hell broke loose one day after I was there about 6 months.
Backing up a little, the company bosses hired the pill popper, Bromilda* (see: Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Man With A Gun for more) to be Mark’s assistant three months earlier to this event. She had a mediterranean look, was medium built, nice wavy brown hair that I admired but not a smart dresser. Why he needed an assistant I have no idea but management had known her years ago when she was a young lab tech in their lab but left to join another company and was now returning. Though way after this all happened, I wondered if the bosses had a ulterior motive.
There were eight other lab techs and most of them are pretty boisterous all day long, laughing and joking with a few of them constantly maligning others behind their backs when anyone left the room. I felt Bromilda fit right in with the latter group. Once she join that team, as it were, she mainly sat at her desk all day too, though located at the far end of the room away from Mark and Harry.
Now others may have known more about this than I did before hand but I only learned about it the morning it happened. And I was so surprised I can’t even say that I ever had an inkling that this event was going to happen.
As I remember it I believe it was a Friday in October and the days are just starting to get cold when on arriving at work and was about to take off my coat when Bromilda approached me and taking my arm, said, “I have something to tell everybody, come with me,” as she dragged me along with her to the front of the lab. Talking loudly to be heard she took the others to listen and said that Mark’s fiance had been killed in a car accident overnight. I had never heard that Mark had a fiance and was very shocked. I felt so bad for him and I could tell the others did to as the whole day was a solemn one.
Now Bromilda and I did not get along from the start. But she came to my desk and asked me what I knew. But there was nothing I could tell her as this news about Mark was new to me. For the life of me I can’t remember what I did that weekend it was pretty much uneventful but Monday morning once again there was a crisis at work and it about Mark. The place was in a hush. And you could feel the tension in the room as Bromilda (in Harry’s chair,) and Mark sat at the desks in front of mine. There was no sign of Harry.
Bromilda and Mark whispered their shouts at each other. And I couldn’t describe it as anything but. What could possibly have been the matter especially with Mark just losing his fiance what could this be about? Mark was in distress. You couldn’t help feeling bad for him. The two of them did a lot of hands flinging out, heads bobbing and animated gestures. Once in a while I would turn and look that them. It was mind-boggling without knowing what could possibly be the matter other than the obvious.
At some point they got up and left the lab. Once they were gone though the rest of us seem to settle down and able to concentrate on our work. After some time had past I had to go to the sample room in the back of the factory and as I made my way there I looked around for both Bromilda and Mark and findng no sign of them. It was at the door to the sample room that I saw the door was ajar and I I heard Bromilda’s voice. “But why lie about it,” she was saying, “it’s just you don’t need to. You need to talk to someone.” I seemed frozen in place, and at that point they turned and saw me. Mark’s head went down. Looking away from me, too, Bromilda said, “can you come back later?”
“Sure,” I croaked out and left more bewildered than I was before.
Mark never came back to the lab! The next day, Bromilda set in his place. And while I was at the Bunsen burner preparing lipstick samples with a glossy shine, someone whispered to me, “Mark never had a fiance, he made it up. The company sent flowers to a funeral home and the funeral home says there was no such funeral going on there.”
I remember saying something like,”that doesn’t make any sense.”
Someone else added, “Mark’s gay and he was trying to cover it up.”
Another said the boss called him and he had to admit it.
Others piped-in and the discussion was about how Mark wanted Harry and Harry said no but in was much more colorful description than I will use here. We never saw Mark again. He called someone in the company to say he had a job in California and was going there, that’s what he wanted to do.
Bromilda slid into Mark’s job. A few days later Harry was back and he was sitting in the chair he used to occupy when it was Mark’s desk.
I have known desperation in my life, but I never had to hide who I was nor absorb or deal with denying it. What happened to Mark has probably played out one too many times. ~ JD Holiday

My other lab story: Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Man With A Gun
https://cerealauthors.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/truth-as-strange-as-fiction-man-with-a-gun/

* Names have be changed to protect the innocence. 😀

Article, books, Cereal Authors, Rachel Rueben

Humor & Sarcasm In Writing: Examples of Laughter Throughout History

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I was asked by Dellani Oakes and Karen Vaughan to participate in a blog series about sarcasm and humor so I decided to find out what was considered funny in literature.  This quest took me way back in time before Terry Pratchett and Mark Twain even before Shakespeare.  I actually found one-liners from ancient Rome, and even further back to the Eyptians.  Below I listed some of what you could call an evolution of humor throughout the ages.  Most of these come from literature, while others are of unknown origins.  One thing to keep in mind is that what people may have found funny in ancient times may have us scratching our heads today.  Nonetheless one thing unites all cultures, people loved to laugh no matter the time or place.  I  really enjoyed researching this subject and hope you enjoy it as well.  So without further ado..

Ancient Egypt:

“I do not see a stoneworker on an important errand or a goldsmith in a place to which he has been sent, but I have seen a coppersmith at his work at the door of his furnace. His fingers were like the claws of the crocodile, and he stank more than fish excrement.”       –Satire of the Trades

Ancient Greece: Aristophanes’ Rant About Modern Poets:

“A disgrace to their art. If ever they are granted a chorus, what does their offering at the shrine of Tragedy amount to? One cock of the hind leg and they’ve pissed themselves dry. You never hear of them again.” –The Frogs

frog-1037251_1280
Image via Pixabay

 

Ancient Rome:

A man is taking care of his departed wife’s burial. Someone asks him: “Who is it that rests in peace here?” The man answers: “Me, now that I’m rid of her!”  –Source Unknown

China:

After his wife had beaten him badly, a man crawled under his family bed. “Come out this instant!” his wife screamed.
“I am man enough to do as I please!” he said. “And I’ll come out when I’m good and ready.”  –Ming Dynasty Tales

 

Shakespeare:

CHIRON:  Thou hast undone our mother.
AARON:  Villain, I have done thy mother.

Titus Andronicus: Act 4, Scene 2

Ben Franklin:

In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria.  –There is debate if Ben actually said this but it’s funny, so I included it.

Mark Twain:

To create man was a fine and original idea; but to add the sheep was a tautology (redundant).  –St. Louis Post-Dispatch (30 May 1902); also in Mark Twain : A Life

Dorothy Parker:

You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think.  You Might As Well Live: The Life & Times Of Dorothy Parker

 

Dorothy Parker Quote

 

Douglas Adams:

“In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”  –The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe

Bill Bryson:

“I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.”  –The Lost Continent

Terry Pratchett:

“Just erotic. Nothing kinky. It’s the difference between using a feather and using a chicken.”  —Eric

Terry Pratchett Quote

So what are your favorite one-liners from history, tell us in the comments section.

Bio: Rachel Rueben is author of YA, supernatural as well as romance books.  Her work can be found her on the Cereal Authors blog as well as Wattpad.  She is also a blogger at Writing By The Seat Of My Pants where she discusses self-publishing and rarely refers to herself in the third person.  😉

Article, History, Rachel Rueben, Writing Process

The Research Process That Went Into Miss Mary Mack

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Image via Pixabay

At the beginning of most writing projects there is a bit of excitement as well as fear when it comes to approaching certain topics.  Many authors love stirring the pot but at the same time we need to be sure that we’re making sense.  No matter how desperately we want to be articulate or intellectual, if we’re not making sense we’ve failed as artists.  For example, in one of my scenes in Miss Mary Mack, I had several scenes where the children were in school and back in the 1930’s, school was a much different place than it is today.

I wanted to begin the chapter with the children saying the Pledge of Allegiance however, there was problem with that, the Pledge of Allegiance wasn’t officially accepted by the U.S. Congress until 1942 and even then it was revised in 1959.  So I had to find the right version for my book to recite.  That was my first hurdle, the next would be another scene where several kids were chosen to raise the flag but as you guessed there was a problem.  You see the flag we know today was different back then because there were only 48 states.  Alaska and Hawaii were still only territories.  So my scenes had to be rewritten to reflect that.

Regrouping & Redeploying

To say I was annoyed by all this would be an understatement but I was determined to learn how schools functioned back then.  I found interviews and historical sites that filled in the gaps and learned everything you possibly could about school.  I learned about burn barrels which were used for waste disposal in country schools and even what types of lunch children brought to school (mainly leftovers from dinner or breakfast).  This type of information enabled me to make this world more tangible and relatable.

Including Myths & Folklore

As I mentioned last month, Miss Mary was a compilation of people but she was mainly inspired by the character Rosa Carmichael, a matron of a Civil War orphanage.  Rosa was an infamous character who was accused of abusing children in her care however, there is no proof that she ever existed.  The story goes that she was tried and acquitted of abuse only to be ran out of town after being accused a second time.  There are no court documents mentioning such an event and no grave was ever found belonging to Rosa.  Yet this doesn’t stop the tale from being told by locals as well as tour guides.  I took pieces of the story and wove them into my own, for example, folklore says, that in the cellar of the orphanage, there were chains where children were beaten and tortured.  However, the folklore forgets to mention that the orphanage was commandeered during the Civil War and it was most likely POWs that were shackled in that cellar.  So in my story, I make the cellar a place where unruly children are disciplined.

Why Fuss Over Minor Details?

It’s true that most people won’t notice the finer points if you don’t tell them so would it have mattered if I had the children in my story saying the Pledge of Allegiance in 1930?  Probably not, but it would’ve been embarrassing if someone did notice.  Yes all books have mistakes or inaccuracies but that doesn’t let us off the hook.  It’s our responsibility as authors to make sure our work is as great as it can possibly be.  Things don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to be professional.  If you can go the extra mile, why not?  Who knows, maybe your readers will go the extra mile for you and tell everyone about your book.  🙂

Bio: Rachel Rueben is author of YA, supernatural as well as romance books.  Her work can be found her on the Cereal Authors blog as well as Wattpad.  She is also a blogger at Writing By The Seat Of My Pants where she discusses self-publishing and rarely refers to herself in the third person.

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

Article, publishing, Rachel Rueben

Important Resources For Authors Part 2: Going To School

 

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Last week, I discussed the closing of Predators & Editors and the possible alternatives authors can use when investigating a potential publisher or service provider.  Today, I’m going to list sources that can help indie authors educate themselves on the publishing business.  After all it’s much harder to take advantage of an educated author and that’s what most scammers fear.

Authors are notorious for drawing back the curtain on the publishing industry by talking about their experiences with editors, posting their contracts, and even revealing their monthly income.  This rips the veil of secrecy that kept the publishing industry mysterious while keeping authors broke.  Oh sorry, I meant starving for their art.

Anyway, let’s get started…

News About The Industry

Did you know that All Romance Books and Ellora’s Cave went under in 2016?  You would’ve if you had been keeping tabs on the industry.  Listed below are just some of the blogs/newsletters dedicated to the publishing industry.

Podcasts

These podcasts are recorded by actual indie authors and they often give writing, promoting as well as marketing tips.

 

Authors & Industry Professionals You Can Learn A Lot From

You know they say that experience is the best teacher and if you want to learn from someone who is in the business then look no further then these websites.

  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch If you want to learn the business aspects of publishing
  • Jane Friedman If you want to learn publishing hacks as well as marketing tips
  • The Book Designer Discusses marketing, creativity, as well as interviews publishing professionals.
  • Penny Sansevieri, A Marketing Expert Great place to learn book promotion and general marketing.
  • Kathryn Goldman Offers tips on legal issues that plague authors.
  • Your Writer Platform Discusses various aspects of self-publishing.
  • BookBub Partners Mainly they discuss their platform but they also share tips on book launches, marketing and self-publishing hacks.

 

This is just a small list of all the wonderful blogs and podcasts that indie authors can glean from.  As self-publishing becomes more and more the norm, authors are going to have to make decisions about the direction of their careers.  Some of these blogs and podcasts can help at least point you in the right direction.  The author community is a very supportive place as you can see, we do watch each other’s back.  Though losing Predators & Editors was a big blow to indie authors, it didn’t break anyone’s determination to keep on keeping on.  This is the greatest thing about the author community, and I’m proud to be part of it and you should too.

If you have any suggestions for newbie authors whether it be a podcast, blog or book, let us know in the comment section.

Article, publishing, Rachel Rueben

Important Resources For Authors

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Not long ago, the author community lost a precious resource when the Preditors & Editors website went dormant last year.  For those of you not familiar with P&E, it was a site that listed and graded publishers as well as publishing services.  They helped countless authors such as myself make important decisions and avoid scams.

They are currently looking for a new caretaker who will have the monumental responsibility of updating the website as well as all the information on it.  For those of you actually thinking about taking on the challenge, be warned P&E comes with the burden of constant threat of lawsuits as well as harassment from the mentally disturbed.  It’s no surprise that no one is rushing to pick up the torch but I know eventually someone will because it’s too important to let die.

Instead of going on about how lousey this is, I’m going to give you alternative resources that will help you avoid scammers as well as help educate you about this business.

Finding Out About Scams & Unethical Practices

Predators & Editors did not exist in a vacuum, there are two sites that I am aware of that are dedicate solely to educating authors about the sharks in the publishing waters.

However don’t stop here, there are several other ways to discover if your publisher is on the up and up.

Investigating The Quality Of Your Publisher

The golden rule for any author looking to secure the services of a publisher is to go to Google and type in the company name with the words; “scam”, “complaints”, or “reviews” and if nothing pops up, that’s a good sign however, you still have more investigating to do.

You would think the one place to look is the Better Business Bureau because it’s considered a trustworthy organization that rates businesses.  However, the vanity publisher Author Solutions, has an A+ rating even though there have been numerous complaints over the years as well as a class action lawsuit in 2013.  So a good rating with the BBB doesn’t carry much weight these days especially, after various media outlets reported that businesses were paying for good ratings.  Just a warning, if you’re going to use the BBB as a source of information, make sure it’s not your only source.

Other Sites That Grade Businesses:

As with most review sites things can be manipulated but if you’re seeing the same complaints over and over again by different people then you may want to take heed.

  • Yelp
  • Google Reviews (First make sure that you’re logged into your Google+ account and just go to Google Maps and enter the name of the company you’re investigating. You should see an address as well as a rating.

Find The Office Water Cooler

You shouldn’t just stop at what customers are saying, if things are really bad at a company like they were at Tate Publishing and Author Solutions, then their employees are talking.  Fortunately for us, there are sites that allow employees to rate the companies they work at.  This can be a Godsend for those who are on the lookout for things like upselling, shoddy production or terrible customer service.

Sites That Let Employees Rate Their Employers

  • GlassDoor
  • CareerBliss (Be sure to use the drop down and choose “reviews” before searching the company’s name.)

Professional Associations

If you’re not into doing all the leg work then you might want to join a professional organization that will do it for you.  Many places like ALLi (The Alliance for Independent Authors) and IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association) offer recommendations for services such as editors, formatters, as well as designers.

The Author Water Cooler

Want to know about someone’s personal experiences with a service or publisher from an actual author?  Then look no further than the following sites:

These are just some of the places that indie authors should check out if they want to investigate a publisher or service.  Next time, I’ll be discussing resources for authors who want to educate themselves about indie publishing as well as publishing matters in general so stay tuned.

 

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

Article, books, JD Holiday, publishing, Writing Process

Putting a book cover together by JD Holiday

9780981861425-PerfecColor wTextPicBack MatterFOR bLOG]_bakTo put a bookcover together you need to make a template or get one from your

print company. This is a mock-up of the one I got from my printer. The cover must extend to the

outer lines of the template in order for the book to have the trim line which gives the book its

nice neat final look. In other words, the whole area of the template must have the book’s cover color in it, back and front. The area right inside the outer line is called the Bleed area which is cut off at the second line in on the template all the way around the bookcover. That will be the actual book size when it is done.

The front of the book is on your right hand side and the back cover is on the left side.

The spine is the middle area between the back and front covers. The spine size is based on the number of pages and the paper size of the book and that is calulated by the printer.

The red lines (a 1/2 inch from the trim line) on both the covers is the area you must keep all text and graphics in.

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Next I painted the front cover and top part of the back cover in Corel Painter Essentials

Then I brought the cover into Indesign CS 3 to work.

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I used Indesign CS 3 to create my book and cover, though I do most of the artwork in art/graphic software.

This is a example of a text frame which using the Text Tool you put in the template and do your typing.

You use the Selection Tool to resize the Text frame when needed by grabbing any of the small squares around the frame and dragging it. You can also copy and paste your text from your word processor into the text frames.

For graphics you would go to File> Place find your picture on your computer (tif) and click Open.

The Selection Tool in Indesign will become loaded and you just click the place in your template or frame that you want the picture or graphic to go.

I rotated the cover to the left and typed in the spine text.

Adding all the items needed  I created the book’s cover!

Article, author, books, Cereal Authors, childrens stories, Fiction, JD Holiday

MY Work in Progress for my children’s chapter book: The Great Snowball Escapade!

The Great Snowball Escapade, by me, JD Holiday  is a chapter book for children 6 to 9 years of age. I first completed the drawings and then inked them with waterproof Indian ink artist pen. There are 3 of the 25 drawings from the process.

This is the first page.

Page 5

Page 6

In the story, Wilhemena Brooks,’ cousin, Bud Dumphy come to live with her family. Wil, as she likes to be called, finds her pink pencil sharpener is missing after Christmas. Wil knows Bud has it! Who else would have taken it?

Bud doesn’t like girls! In fact, Bud doesn’t like anybody. Wil tries to ignore him but he pulls her friends hair, taken over games, and when Bud is in trouble he making his “you’re going to got it” face at her.

After a snowstorm closes school, Wil and her friends go sled riding. Bud shows up and starts a snowball fight which lands Wil in her room for the rest of the day for fighting.

When her pencil sharpener is found, Right where she left it, Wil decides she has to try harder to understand her cousin and stay out of trouble. Her mother told her to be nice to Bud and to treat him like she would like to be treated. But where will that get Wil?

This is the image for the cover.

                                                       Finished cover. 9780981861425-The Great SB COVER PIC

Find At: https://www.amazon.com/Great-Snowball-Escapade-J-Holiday/dp/0981861423

Find me at:  http://jdholiday.blogspot.com