Sooooooo the coolest thing that I believe as an author, Amanda M. Thrasher, and organization, Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, that we are a part of on an annual basis is the TLA (Texas Library Association) Conference. I have attended this conference for years, signed as a featured author for at least five years, and we have committed as a publisher, for now, four years.
Being an author first, and a co-owner and CEO of an independent press founded by authors, we continually try to locate and find ways that bring the most ‘bang for our buck’ for our authors. What exactly does that mean when it comes to TLA? In case you are not familiar with TLA, it is a professional organization promoting librarianship and library services in Texas. Through legislative advocacy, continuing education events, and networking channels. The conference usually has between 5000 to 6500 attendees, if not more, and often consist of librarians (academic, public, and private), educators, consumers, category buyers, publishers, vendors, to name a few.
Being that it takes place during the week, most attendees go on their companies time and dime. This is good for us, (publishers and authors) because the visitors are pre-registered and literally plan up to a year in advance to attend the conference which brings a different type of ‘crowd’ versus people just look for something entertaining to do. So what do all of those people do?
Everyone attends sessions as they listen and learn about new techniques, equipment, products, and don’t forget they all get to network and socialize as well. Meeting the authors is always a big draw, especially the featured authors, and so many fantastic publishers are represented such as Penguin Random House, Scholastic, McMillan, Disney, Chronicle Books, Capstone, Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster, Little, Brown, Book Co., to name a few…. Oh yeah, and us 🙂 as well, Progressive Rising Phoenix Press.
I am not big on the author to author events (me personally), that become book swaps. However, I will always tell our authors, or any other that ask, that I believe in this particular trade conference. This one is worth saving your $’s for and vesting in the trip. It moves yearly, location, but is always in Texas. We network; share our work with the librarians, teachers, and readers. Sign books, and pick up book orders. I have attended and signed at ALA, BEA, and TLA. For us, PRPP, I still believe we receive the most value for our vested dollars in this event. If you have ever considered going, as a company, but you are not sure if it is worth it or if you are an author and you do not know if you should spend the dollars here are my top reasons for doing so:
1) It is a professional trade show; attendees are pre-registered, and that means a guaranteed X amount of participation.
2) Attendees are there with a purpose to do the following: Place book orders for their locations, receive free books for review, and to share new talent or books with their districts. If you have a new title or an old title with limited exposure, it is the perfect place to share your work with the experts or potential real buyers.
3) It is expensive, yes, but with a joint effort it can be done and is worth the $’s spent due to the added benefit of buyers, readers, vendors, librarians, educators, all under one roof at the same time.
4) Networking with different schools, librarians, teachers, readers, is priceless, especially when they are all book lovers and want to be there with you.
5) We have placed multiple bulk orders through this conference, introduced new titles and authors, and re-launched older titles.
6) Negotiated contracts for services authors cannot receive on their own, such as Lexile scoring, contact made through TLA.
7) Received great submissions & we do not solicit authors.
8) Met librarians, teachers, educators, and others that we have stayed in touch with and shared our catalog, and new titles over the year. They have come back, and picked our latest work, sharing it with their districts.
9) Featured author area: the authors are reviewed and scheduled to sign. The advertising is great, and visiting with people as you sign your work is fantastic, but having them come back year after year, remembering you from the year before as they look for your new work….is…..priceless.
10) Often it seems as if we accomplish more at this one trade show than at ten regular author events. Those often seem time-consuming, turn into author swaps, and end up with minimal unit sales.
“Have I ever failed to pay you?” Keinigan protested. The knife held at his throat was making it difficult to talk with bravado.
The thieves of The Slider Guild were sincere in their threat of cutting him if he did not produce the money, but they were not merciless to those that kept their word, and Keinigan had always made sure they were on the top of his debt list. To not pay them after they had given him their aid was worthy of a knife in the back.
He made it to the safehouse without pursuit. Yet, the gate to sanctuary was a perilous one. The thieves did not care for people to burst in unannounced and fresh out of a jailbreak.
Novak, a burly human with one eye and a long, ugly scar down his neck, held Keinigan pinned beside the door with one arm. The other arm gripped the jagged knife, warm from being next to the small of his back, against Keinigan’s golden skin.
“But, you don’t have the silver on you. Do you, Keen?”
The query came from a thin, dark-skinned woman lounging calmly at a table in the far corner of the tavern. She could have been considered pretty if it were not for the hard, cruel expression that always sat on her face. It was clear from the respect that all others in the room gave her that she was their leader. She had not even moved since Keinigan arrived in a flush of excitement; nevertheless, he knew the only real threat came from her. She could order his life taken with the bat of one black eyelash.
“Do you, Keen?” she repeated, skeptical. Using Keinigan’s guild name was a show of authority and the ominous tone caused the blade of Novak’s knife to sink in a little closer. The guild was determined to extract a payment or, at least, secure the promise of one.
Keinigan made a depreciating gesture. “No, it’s true I have nothing on me, Gala.” He called her by her guild name as well to try evening the odds. “But, I’ll double the price if you cover me for tonight. I swear.”
There was silence from the corner. Then her face broke into a crooked smile. “You are such a filthy liar,” Gala cackled as she waved Novak away.
The knife withdrew and the tension in the room eased. Keinigan rubbed his throat and glared at the lumbering human. They were deemed equals now and he was allowed to be indignant. Moving over to Gala, the fae slid down into a chair opposite to make his offer.
“Look, you know I’m good for at least the price of two days’ hiding. I can get more if you want it.” He smoothed his tunic and settled into his most charming attitude. “Come now, Gala. What’s better for you? Twenty silver pents now or an extra ten added to that later? You wouldn’t even have to let the Silvermen know about it.”
Her brow creased in mock anger. “Wait. Ten extra? You said you’d double the twenty. Swindler.”
He spread his hands over the tabletop. “Like I could really get my hands on forty silver pents.”
Gala shook her head, her mouth turned up on end with a smirk. “I know you too well, Keinigan.”
“I know you; it’ll take you forever to scrape it up. Just give us the regular twenty and I’ll forget what I heard about cheating the Slider’s guildmaster.”
Keinigan lowered his head with a smile. He knew it was a gentle reprimand coming from her. However, a little bribe is never out of place.
“How about if I give you something that the guild won’t mind missing out on…”
Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Like what?”
His hand stole across the table to gently pick hers up and play with the fingers. He raised his slanted, green eyes up to her with a lustful promise simmering in them.
“Oh,” he purred. “I’m sure the Silvermen won’t mind a little reminiscing between two old friends.” He leaned in closer as he saw her opening to the suggestion. “Two good friends. We could go down to the hide-room and –”
His offer got cut short by a movement near the window. One of the thieves stood up and peeked out the glass.
“Torches approaching,” was all they heard.
The room cleared.
Translations from Jorthus series available from Amazon.com. Visit the author page for more information on the books, or join the conversation on The Worlds of Jorthus page on Facebook. http://rldavishays.webs.com/apps/blog/
Reading apps are not just for you to read Ebooks. Text-to-Speech software or apps, TTS, are intuitive apps that read to you. This is a good way to proofread and spot then easily correct mistakes in your own manuscripts, articles and school papers for anyone not just people with dyslexia.
Of course, some of you might know this already but for those of you who don’t, this can be a stroke of luck. Imagine listening to your own words read back to you before anyone else has read it. For me, hearing my own words read to me was a treat.
BUT there was a great benefit. I was able to hear any mistakes and fix them easily. Now, my main problem is switching words, a problem caused by dyslexia. I might type where or were for here or there. OR, what for that, or and for can.Really. It is a mystery to me even. It’s a problem that has to be weeded out of my manuscripts. So Text-to-Speech software is just what I needed.
I tried a few Text-to-Speech apps and found that Voice Reading (Read Aloud) by Microsoft Word worked the best for me. Microsoft developed this text-to-speech software to help people with dyslexia as well as editing. This app reads to you from these formats: EPUB, PDF, DOC, DOCX, TXT in either a male or female voice. It’s not perfect. It some cases, the borders are not aligned and you can’t move forward without clicking to the next page, which I found annoying at times, and the read voices are not all the natural.
Before you start looking for a text-to-speech app though, look on your devices to see if they have them as part of the operating system. I know iphones, androids, and some tablets already have some versions of a Text-to-Speech on them.
Last note: I did try the Natural Readers free app without success. I found that their free text-to-speech app posts an ad to buy their other versions on just about every page. It flashes up and you have to delete it every time to continue the app. It also would sometimes malfunction when you tried to get it to go back a page or two.
So the FREE Voice Reading (Read Aloud) by Microsoft is worth trying. Find out more about the Voice Reading (Read Aloud) by Microsoft Word at:
An Excerpt from a Middle-grade novel by JD Holiday.
It’s my latest book. A 35000-word middle-grade novel. I’m not sure what to title it yet. My ideas for below.
The book is about the Cameron children worried that they will not get the toys they asked for for Christmas. The uncle that Trisha Frankel has lived with most of her life with has died. The only option she has is to find the father she does not know, even though her uncle said, “He was no good.” Trisha takes her dog, Mitch to search out her father and find out what he is like for herself. Along the way, her dog is stolen. The most likely suspect in the dog’s disappearance is a man connected to the Cameron children Phoebe, Tucker, and Kirby. Phoebe, Tucker, and Kirby are busy trying to figure out if their Christmas gifts will arrive. But helping Trisha makes them realize that sometimes the lives of others are more important their own interests.
The Speed Delivery truck stopped in front of the Cameron house by the shoveled driveway. Kirby heard it pull up. Christmas was in two days and his mother was still waiting for ‘deliveries’ for some of the family’s Christmas gifts. In fact, all the big gifts like his racing car set, the MagMax Drone his older brother, Tucker wanted and for Phoebe, the oldest child in their house, the china doll she wanted for her doll collection.
Kirby left the TV and rushed through the open French doors from the living room leading to the front windows of the sunroom to see if he could see what was being delivered. He loved guesting games and solving problems. He maneuvered between the computer table with the computer it, the tropical fish in the screen saver still swimming around, and passed the wicker loveseat to get to the window with the better view of the truck.
Kirby rubbed the frost off the window and leaned his elbows on the sill and pressing his turned-up nose to the glass. All the Cameron children had inherited from their mother’s side of the family that same turned up nose, green-grayish eyes capped by dark lashes and eyebrows in a round faces and framed nicely with straight black hair. Their father always said every chance that came up that the children had his long legs that he, himself could always count on to carry him quickly down any basketball court he played on in high school and college.
The driver hopped out onto the snow-covered road and headed to the rear of the truck. Kirby watched the truck’s roll-up door fly up and the man pulled out a hand truck, grabbed four boxes and stacked them on it. He then pushed it along to the driveway and up onto the sidewalk lifted the boxes and climbing up the narrowly shoveled stairs to their door. Kirby knew he would not be able to tell what was inside all the boxes, but he thought he might see the box with the Sotrux Racecar logo on it if he were lucky and it wasn’t inside a larger box. But none of these boxes were big enough Kirby judged to hold his racing set.
He looked back at the truck with its door still open and then he saw it. Still in the truck was the racing car label. Kirby jumped up and down. “YES!” he shouted to the empty room and then he yelled loud enough for his grandmother to hear him while keeping an eye on the man quickly coming down the stairs and heading back to the truck for more boxes. “Gram, a delivery is here.”
When his grandmother didn’t come, Kirby ran to the kitchen. Gram was just entering the apartment from the back stairway that connected all three apartments in the house to a common outside door and to the entrance to the basement. She was cooking in the old kitchen area in the basement, which she said was the ideal place for her to prepare meals for a city mission where she volunteered. Her kitchen on the third floor was much too
“Gram! Gram!” he shouted running to her.
“What’s the yelling for, Kirby?” she asked. She went straight for the sink and opened the cabinet underneath it. Rattled some pans and pulled out a large pot. “I have a dinner to start. Your parents will be home from work and Phoebe and Tucker will be flying in from the after-school Christmas party they went to, and dinner is going to be late.”
“It’s a delivery. The Christmas gifts are here,” he said, and raced back through both the dining and living rooms to get back to the porch.
“They’ll leave the package, Kirby,” his grandmother remarked as he ran back to the living room.
At the window, Kirby frowned. Vic Silian, another of Gram’s grandsons, the oldest son of their mother’s sister, Aunt Junnie, was standing at the back of the truck. Kirby didn’t like Vic. Vic has a sweet and friendly dog that Kirby loves and Vic mistreats. Vic was thin and tall and dressed in dark clothes with a wool cap pulled down to his eyes and hiding his huge forehead which reminded Kirby of Frankenstein’s, wrinkled lines and all. Vic’s eyes bulged out from under the cap like those of a villain cartoon character.
Vic was closing the back of the delivery truck and began to wade over the mounded up snow bank alongside the truck, looking behind him a couple of time before reaching the door to the front seat which he opened and got inside. There was something wrong with this, Kirby thought, staring at his cousin. “What’s he do there?” he mumbled.
Vic had been in the basement earlier talking to Gram telling her he knew how she could get rich if she gives him some of her retirement money. And what would Gram do if Vic took her money? The thought made Kirby cross. But then, Vic did something else. His nose up against the window, Kirby said out loud fogging up the window with each word, “What was he doing getting into the driver side on the delivery truck?”
He rubbed the window with his sweater sleeve in disbelief. Vic had never worked any job for too long and he never worked for a delivery service. So why was he driving the truck away? “I know what he’s doing!” Kirby shouted.
The answer to this one had to be the contents in the truck Kirby guessed. Vic was stealing so he could sell the things in the boxes. Vic had been in trouble before and this was just going to be another time. Kirby glanced behind him looking for grandmother. If I was only bigger, Kirby thought, I go out there and stop Vic myself. Gram would come out and find that he had tossed Vic to the ground to stop him from getting into trouble this time. She would praise Kirby, “I’m so proud of you, Kirby.”
Kirby craned his neck as the truck drove down the street. That’s when the Speedy Delivery driver raced down their front stairs shouting, “Hey! Hey!”
Shaking his head, Kirby went to the front door wondering what to say to Gram. She was not going to believe this.
The doorbell started ringing as Gram came into the living room, her cherry color hair bobbing and her bony arms outstretched while wiping her hands on a dish towel.
The bell rang again as Gram reached it. At the door, Kirby stood to one side as she opened it. The Speed Service deliveryman stood there. “Someone stole my truck,” he said.
Kirby winced thinking this was not going to go well.
The tied-up Christmas tree leaned against the doorjamb on the back porch Uncle John, Trisha mother’s brother had bought and they were going to put up last night. But things have changed. Uncle John died yesterday.
With Mitch, her black lab, on his leash and sit behind Trisha as she closed and locked the door of the apartment she had shared with her uncle for the past nine years in their predominantly African-American street. Mitch was all there was left and people she did not know would soon be looking for her if they were not already. Before Trisha talked to anybody else she had something she had to do.
Wearing her backpack stuffed with food and snacks for them both and carrying a duffle bag with all her belongings in it just in case she didn’t return, Trisha and Mitch kept a steady pace as they walked along the snowy streets. Over the Seven Street bridge and pass many Riverside factories then up the long stretch of River Street where here and there someone had shoveled a path on their trek heading for the city. Once on Main Street where all the busy stores lined the street, they jostled with holiday shoppers and workers on break all avoiding mounds of dirting snow piles to get to their destinations. At a red light, Trisha and Mitch waited to cross through the narrowly shoveled path at the corner.
There are my ideas for titles. Let me know if you have an idea.
I have two teenage daughters at home. My son, now grown, survived the teen years. I’m certain my girls will as well, though they’ll likely receive a few bumps and bruises along the way. Heartache, fallouts with friends, and decisions about future life goals will leave a few scars.
Dating, according to many teens these days, is often nothing more than a hook-up. Sound shocking? Yes! But according to teens, it’s normal. In fact, they rarely call dating, dating anymore. It’s often just referred to as hanging out. I’m hanging out with so-and-so, and then onto the hook-ups. This behavior of hooking up and even random hook-ups is considered normal for many teens. How do I know? I spoke to groups of teens and they spoke candidly and with no fear of their behavior. Local Dr’s told me they treat teens on a regular basis of two to three times a week for STD’s. I know… WHAT?!Scary? It is! It’s not that parents and schools aren’t talking to these kids about the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases or having sex too young because they are, it’s that kids, especially teens, often think that they’re invincible and nothing can happen to them. Some teens were treated over and over by the same Dr. for the same STD, and this is a national problem, not a community issue. In addition to the physical dangers of this type of behavior, the kids often aren’t prepared for the emotional and complications that can come along with behavior that they’re not ready for.
But hanging out and worrying if your kid is hooking-up isn’t the only danger that goes along with teens social lives today. Dying to grow up, surrounded by social media promoting just that, some kids think they’re more mature than they really are, jump into physical relationships taking on more than they can emotionally handle. The problem is they often don’t understand the dangers of that until the emotional rollercoaster starts. Some teens are forced into sexual situations prematurely, especially if they’re not thinking clearly because they’re impaired by using drugs or alcohol. Obviously, the fallout is devastating and can be life-altering.
Concerned about the accounts that I heard from teen after teen, fearful my teens would find themselves in a dangerous situation themselves, I set out to write a novel that would imitate a true-life threatening situation. The situation that occurs in the book, takes place too many times and affects too many young girls/women and boys/men. This type of situation, as in the book, becomes increasingly complicated when the relationship has been a lasting one and something terrible happens. Lines are crossed, emotions are suddenly confused, and lives are forever changed. My hope is that if only one person reads the book, thinks twice about getting into the type of situation described, then I’ve done my job as an author and accomplished what I set out to do with the message in this piece.
I believe I pulled the overall message of Bitter Betrayaloff in regards to showing how the dating situation effects young boys/men and girls/women differently due to their emotions and how they handle a dating situation. I believe the scenes that show the destruction of the relationship depicts what happens to some teens when they find themselves in dangerous situations.
I’ll be one of the authors on a panel at the TeenBook Fest by the Bay, speaking to over seven hundred teens about this book. It shows the dangers of miscommunication while being impaired and how great kids make terrible mistakes that affect them for the rest of their lives. The book has won two awards, The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA), Gold, which 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 the New Apple Literary Award, both for YA. If you’re a teen, parent, educator, youth group leader, or a librarian, this book may interest you.
Picking a college wasn’t turning out to be as easy as Reece had hoped. The school he wanted to attend was out of state and hadn’t made him any kind of offer yet. His coach had written letters of recommendation. His grades were good, game films highlighting his plays were in the hands of several recruiters, and services that assisted students and parents were working on his behalf. But the waiting part was no fun. His parents wanted him to stay in Texas, but agreed not to stand in his way if a school he liked came knocking.
Reece wanted two things: to attend a D1 school and receive an out-of-state offer. Truthfully, he hadn’t thought too much about Payton or what she thought. There were 347 D1 schools that he was aware of, scattered across forty-nine different states. Some colleges were smaller, private schools and some larger universities, but the odds of Reece receiving a full scholarship were excellent. Coach had said a full ride was more than a realistic possibility; it was a probability, especially riding on his brother’s reputation. Reece idolized his brother and wanted to follow in his footsteps, not easy to do, but he never once felt jealous or envious of his brother’s success. Coach always bragged about Royce and Reece. Proud to have coached them both in their high school years.
“Just like Royce, son. You are capable of playing for a D1 program,” Coach Duncan would say. “You know, those programs can generate millions of dollars in revenue annually for the schools. And like your brother, you could handle the pressure of performing and the expectations of winning.”
Reece believed Coach and worked hard at proving him right. Payton cringed when Reece talked about the schools he wanted to attend, because she knew it meant the inevitable—he’d be leaving. He’d get so excited. His eyes would light up and he’d get animated as he talked. She was happy for him, but sad for herself. Despite the heaviness she felt weighing on her heart and in her head because she missed him already, she tried her best to encourage him. He called her to tell her about an email Coach had received asking about his eligibility. He could tell she was down by how quiet she got on the other end of the phone. Now he knew why he hated to call. He’d rather send her a text than talk.
“You know we’ll stay in touch every day and hang out when I come home.”
“Well, yeah,” she replied, kinda shocked that he had to actually state it. Surely that was understood. Wasn’t it?
“Just checking. You sound down or something.”
Payton shook her head, and then realized she needed to answer. He couldn’t see her through the phone.
“Sorry. I’m fine.”
“I’m almost there. Are you ready?”
“I will be by the time you get here,” she said. “If you let me off the phone!”
When Payton climbed in, Reece raised the console divider in the front seat so she could sit next to him. He’d crank the aux and she’d lay her hand on his leg, unless he was holding hers in his. She loved Friday nights, even more than Saturdays. It was the excitement of spending real time with him after being in school all week. They were going to the movies with Reece’s friends. Aubrey didn’t have a date and even though she could have joined them, she opted out. Payton didn’t mind. All of her attention was on Reece anyway.
“You smell good,” Reece said as soon as Payton climbed into the truck and turned to give him their customary kiss hello.
She knew the perfume she’d sprayed all over her clothes and neck was his favorite perfume; smiling coyly, she kissed him again.
“Trevor might bring some girl,” Reece stated nonchalantly.
Payton laughed. “Like just some random girl, seriously?”
Reese shook his head. “Right! I didn’t ask. He said he might bring some girl. I don’t care who.” He took a sip of Coke. “But I think her name begins with an S. Samantha, Sydney, Sophie, something like that. Chase is coming as well, but I doubt he’ll bring anyone; no one will date that loser.”
As they turned onto Trevor’s street, they saw Trevor outside, leaning against his car with a pretty girl standing next to him. She was tall, slim, and blond. Payton didn’t recall seeing her before, but gave her a quick once-over as they walked toward the truck.
“This is Stacie,” Trevor announced as they climbed into the back.
“Stacie,” Reece repeated, glancing at Payton.
“Hi, Stacie, nice to meet you.” Payton made the introductions for everyone.
Reece looked at Trevor as the girl climbed into the truck and gave him a nod of approval. How did Trevor score a date with that? Trevor looked as if he hadn’t quite figured it out either; he seemed to know exactly what Reece meant as he grinned big, shrugged his shoulders, and threw up his hands. No complaints from him. They had met during one of his classes. She was a transfer. Totally used to rejection, Trevor was bold enough to ask her to go out with them that night. Shockingly she had said yes, and here they were. She was undeniably hot and he wasn’t. Weird.
“You never know if you don’t ask, bro,” Trevor muttered as he patted Reece on the back.
Payton leaned over the back of the seat and spoke to the girl.
“You’ll get used to it. They talk to each other as if we’re not here, and they do a lot of things in groups.” She laughed out loud. “They say girls are bad about doing everything together. OMG! These guys. Stick around, you’ll see.”
Trevor grabbed Stacie’s hand, not sure if he’d actually see her again after that evening, but she didn’t seem to mind. More of Reece’s friends were waiting for them at the movies than they’d expected. Doug, Shane, Tristan, and Lisa. Additional introductions were made, tickets bought, and seats found. Sci-fi was not her thing, but Payton was just glad to be there. The boys enjoyed it, though; she knew because they were relatively quiet throughout the entire show. Unusual.
“Where to?” Payton asked as the credits rolled.
“Lake. Tiger’s trail,” Trevor suggested. “Denis said there’s a party up there tonight.”
Returning to the truck, Reece nodded, turned up the music, slipped his hand into Payton’s, and they took off. Trevor was right. Trucks, cars, and kids were everywhere. There was no telling how long they had until someone called it in, but they were there now. The typical classic red plastic cups found at every teen get-together were being passed around. Beer was drunk by most, but others were slamming liquor brought by kids who could get their hands on it. Some of the kids pretended to drink it. Peer pressure. Payton was one of those kids. She held onto a cup that was handed to her and pretended to sip what was in it. Fake IDs were something else that kids seemed to have easy access to. Payton was dying to look into that, but hadn’t quite been brave enough to attempt it yet. Reece didn’t need one. If he needed anything, Royce took care of him. It was common knowledge that teens were able to get their hands on just about anything they wanted or needed if they had a few dollars. If the price was right, someone always seemed to know someone who could get it or whom to ask. At these parties vodka floated around because it looked like water, was easily found in most homes, and easily mixed with soda, juice, or just about anything else. Every time Payton was handed a drink with vodka in it, her mom’s voice would ring in her head. Kids on booze: not only illegal, but lethal. Her mom had recited these words for years, hoping Payton would avoid the teen drinking scene. Payton was an observer and Reece for the most part was too, unless he was planted somewhere for the night and even then he didn’t usually overdo. But he didn’t mind enjoying the scene with his friends and usually he had fun no matter what, especially with his girl by his side. Handed a beer, Reece shook his head and pointed to his truck.
“Dude, I’ve got a full truck tonight.”
His attention turned to Payton as he reached for the cup and handed it to her.
“Babe, yours is gone, you can have it.”
She wanted to shake her head and decline as well, but against her better judgment she held out her hand. Noticing the hesitation on her face, Reece pulled her toward him and whispered in her ear.
“You’re good, you’re not driving. Plus, you’re with me.”
He put his arms around her waist, leaned forward, and kissed the back of her neck. She turned around to face him and he pulled her even closer, kissing her with such intensity that her stomach filled with butterflies. She kissed him back just as hard. As he pulled away from her, he whispered something so softly she wasn’t quite sure what she’d heard. Were they thewords, as in the real form and not a version of them, like he usually said, or number digits in his texts? That’s what they sounded like; surely she hadn’t missed the words? Tugging at his sleeve, she asked him to repeat what he had said.
“Wait. What? What did you say?”
“You heard me,” he countered with a muffled voice so no one else would hear him.
“No, really. What did you say?”
“I love you, babe,” he whispered again, bashfully the second time. He kissed her on the cheek and turned back toward his friends, joining their conversation as if he hadn’t just said the most important words she’d ever heard.
Seriously, the words! First thing she wanted to do was say them back, but she couldn’t because he was talking to his friends. Then she wanted to text her BFF, Aubrey, but she couldn’t do that either, because Aubrey would want details. Super excited, madly in love, how could she have known what would happen next?
“Tori, honey? Could you come in here when you get a sec?”
My mom’s voice sounded strained and I had just walked in the door. What could it be so soon? The bittersweet smoke lingering in the air screamed to me of the presence of Derek, her cigarette-toting man-thing. By God, he had the worst taste in smokes.
I used to love the smell of my grandfather’s pipe, stuffed with the butt-ends of his cheap cigars, a sweet hickory scent that infused my grandparent’s log cabin with the trappings of comfort and acceptance. Not the same as Derek’s at all.
Clutching my backpack, I hurried to my room, briefly catching the sight of dark hair on curled toes peeking out of two Birkenstocks that had seen better days. Through the door to our living room, I could see his pajama clad legs as he sat in the same spot he had claimed the first day mom brought him home. What little sunlight that floated through the window draperies caught in the cloud of clove smoke and was prevented from intruding further.
“Did you hear your mother, Victoria?”
I dropped my backpack to the floor, my hand on the handle to my bedroom. So close. I almost went five seconds without Derek parenting me.
“Yes, Derek. I heard her. Can’t I just put my stuff up first?”
“You don’t have to backtalk.”
My eyes rolled out of sheer habit. Tossing my pack to my bed, I moved into the kitchen to see my mother, her walker against the counter, trying her best to reach up into a top cupboard. A stack of groceries covered the counter-top, the bags littering the floor, and the back door was standing open.
“Why doesn’t Derek help you with the groceries?” I asked for the millionth time as I lowered her off her tiptoes and placed the soup cans onto the shelf with ease. Perhaps I was born for the simple task of reaching high areas for my tiny, middle-aged mater. Seems as likely as any reason.
“He doesn’t come over to do chores, Tori. He works hard. Let him relax,” she mewed.
I sighed. It was the same line she used for my absent father who watched her body disintegrate until he had had enough of “taking care of a mooch” and decided to leave her.
“He could at least shut the door if your arms are full, couldn’t he? That wouldn’t take any of his precious energy.” I mumbled so she could not hear too much as I closed the wooden door.
“I’m perfectly capable of–”
“No, you’re not, Mom.” I heaved a sigh and grabbed the plastic handles of a floor-dwelling bag. “You have a freaking walker to deal with. You shouldn’t have to carry groceries from the car by yourself.”
“No, she shouldn’t.” Derek magically appeared at the arch to the dining room. It was like the click of the back door summoned him. His gravel choked voice continued to scold me as if I had been the one squatting in the other room listening to her struggles this whole time. “You should be more helpful for your mother.”
After the day I had just been dealt, something in me snapped. “You’re right, Derek. I should’ve known my mom was at the store and should’ve dashed home like The Flash to help her with the bags! Utterly brilliant!”
“Tori.” My mom admonished me with her tone. “Just put the things away for me, please? I need to lie down. Can you do that without yelling at anybody? Please?”
I wilted. “Sure, Mom.”
She shuffled to the arch where Derek ushered her to the hall with a waiting arm. He was such a freaking hero. I resumed sorting the items from the bags, muttering to myself. “I wasn’t yelling at just anybody. It was still a pretty stupid thing to say. How am I supposed to help when I’m not even home, Derek? Tell me that. Like you tell me everything else; you’re so smart and so wonderful. Why can’t you tell me that? Huh?”
Meaningless, pointless venting. Eventually my grumble petered off to silence and I was absorbed in organizing the shelves, the frig, and the small pantry closet near the back door.
An hour later, I realized Derek’s true genius. I had cleaned the kitchen without being asked. Pure evil, that’s what he was.
I received an email yesterday from a friend, fellow author, who knew of a child who had killed themselves due to a cycle of bullying. I didn’t know the details, and I didn’t ask about them; I knew it never should have happened. It happens too often, and these days, with social media, anyone can be a victim.
This issue breaks my heart, kids being bullied at school or elsewhere, but being pushed to the point of a child taking their lives is gut-wrenching in the worst possible way. I often wonder what the child/ teen was thinking in those last moments. How disturbing that they’d be in that position at all. Did anyone, anyone, stop to think about their mental well being before push, push, pushing, them over the edge that one last time? And therein lies the problem; no one has a clue what someone else is going through or deals with on a daily basis in regards to mental health issues.
What is manageable for one kid, isn’t manageable for another at all. I have a child that has suffered from issues that no one knows about, and I wonder about the thousands upon thousands of kids that experience the same. They’re fragile. They’re beautiful. They’re undeserving of being pushed because they’re different. Until my child was stronger and could fend for themselves, if need be, I lived in fear on a daily basis of losing them to the world. I was fortunate, but even as an adult, their struggles are real.
This topic, bullying, is so near and dear to my heart I wrote a piece titled The Greenlee Project. It’s a book about the consequences of bullying and cyberbullying is a Gold Recipient of the Mom’s Choice Awards, the 2017 International Book Award Winner for YA Social Issues, and won the first place at the 16th annual North Texas Book Festival (NTBF) for YA and General Fiction. It showcases the all-too-common anonymous and cruel betrayals of others through social media, of such magnitude that it devastates a young teen, her friends, family, and the community.
Cyberbullying or bullying affects not just the victims, but everyone around them. After being the target of cyberbullying, what Greenlee does next is shocking. I sincerely hope you enjoy my work and if you have a tween or teen, you’ll share this book with them. If this book prevents one child from being hurt or causes kids to think twice about their actions, then I’ve done my job. Enjoy this excerpt.
All rights reserved. Published 2014 by Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, LLC Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The bus pulled away from the curb slowly, but the shift in gear caused such a jolt that it shook Greenlee’s whole body and woke her up, leaving her dazed and confused. Her eyes tried to focus on the fabric pattern on the seats. It hadn’t registered to Greenlee that she was still on the bus until then. A stale odor wafted through the aisle and filled her nostrils. The smell was nauseating, but brought her back to reality quick enough . . . Greenlee stared out the window with no idea where she was. She didn’t recognize a thing. Hanging her head in her hands, she closed her eyes and thought back to the events that had taken place and brought her to this moment.
Cole’s laughter had rung in her ears and flashbacks of kids pointing fingers and laughing at her raced once again through her mind. Embarrassed, she sank down in her seat. Her heart burdened and heavy, she knew that she couldn’t stay there much longer.
Glancing out the window, Greenlee tried to recognize something, anything, but she realized without a doubt that she was lost. She panicked. Nervously she stood up and moved toward the front of the bus. As if she were invisible, she avoided eye contact and waited for the door to open.
The bus stopped and the doors swished open. Greenlee noticed that the bus driver was staring at her. The woman had an odd look on her face and her mouth opened as if she wanted to say something, but she didn’t. Greenlee couldn’t discern if the lady was concerned or if she owed her more money. As if purposely biting her tongue, the driver simply shook her head, clenched her mouth shut, and waited for Greenlee to step down. As soon as she did, the doors closed behind her and the bus pulled away.
Greenlee stood on the pavement, not sure which direction she should go. Her phone vibrated and it occurred to her that she hadn’t talked to a single person all day. Avoiding people forever was impossible and she knew that, but for now it seemed like a plan. She had twenty-eight missed calls, eleven voicemails and fifty-four texts. Greenlee deleted them all without listening or reading a single one of them. She couldn’t deal with it, not right then anyway, even knowing the consequences for what she’d just done. Marianne’s intentions were good, but she was becoming a problem with her nonstop calling. The phone vibrated again and against her will, Greenlee answered.
“What’s up?” she asked.
“Are you kidding me? What’s up? That’s all you have to say?” Marianne said angrily.
Greenlee didn’t want to talk, let alone argue with her. She already felt like a piece of malleable meat, beat to a pulp for someone else’s enjoyment. Regardless of Marianne’s intention, being chewed out wasn’t her idea of a phone call. Her cell phone pressed against her ear, Greenlee heard the words, but her mind was a million miles away. For the first time, the saying in one ear and out the other made total sense to her. Marianne kept talking but Greenlee wasn’t listening . . . then dead silence. Finally, Marianne had caught on.
“Okay, I’m sorry, I admit it. I’m not thinking clearly. I’m worried about you. Are you all right?” Marianne asked softly.
What a stupid question! Of course, she wasn’t all right. Greenlee didn’t respond. Her throat felt as if it was closing up and she couldn’t breathe. Who was she kidding? She couldn’t have talked through the tears anyway. She wanted to scream into the phone, “No, you idiot; I’m not all right. I’m anything but all right. I’m a mess. How come you don’t know that?” Keeping her mouth shut, she just listened.
“Greenlee, where are you?”
Greenlee glanced at the street sign above her head and mumbled the name of the street written on the sign above her, adding, “I don’t really know where I am. I mean I’m not sure that I really care.”
“I can send someone to come and get you,” Marianne said quietly.
The comment both surprised and alerted Greenlee to the unusual situation that she now found herself in. She declined. She had mixed feelings about that, wanting to be safe but at the same time not wanting to see or talk to anyone, at least not yet. She knew she faced an impending confrontation with her parents and she was avoiding it. Not for her sake, but for theirs—the humiliation she believed that she had caused them was too much to bear and having not been able to handle it only infuriated her.
“No, thanks. I’ll use the GPS and go from there. If I need you, I’ll call,” Greenlee said calmly.
“Greenlee, I just don’t think that’s a good idea. Are you sure?”
Marianne was disappointed, realizing that she’d been dismissed.
“Yes, I’m sure. I’ll call. Okay?” Greenlee said, knowing that she wasn’t going to call her back.
Greenlee was dismissive and Marianne felt ditched. Hurt and disappointed that Greenlee hadn’t trusted her, she reminded herself it wasn’t about her. Once again she forced the idea of contacting Greenlee’s parents out of her head, but had resolved in her mind that if they called her, she’d tell them what she knew. For Greenlee’s sake, she wouldn’t leave her out there in her mental state by herself.
Greenlee pulled up the GPS on her phone. She was twenty-eight miles from home. How in the heck had that happened? Suddenly she felt fearful and started to panic. She hit speed dial D.
“Greenlee, where in the hell are you? We’ve been trying to call you all day!” Matt Granger said.
He didn’t wait for her to respond and kept firing questions at her one right after the other and immediately Greenlee felt that she’d made a mistake.
“What are you playing at? Where are you? What are you doing?” he asked with a slight hesitation. “Where have you been?” After a pause, he said, “We’ve been worried sick!” Breathing deeply, he continued, “Greenlee . . . Greenlee, where are you now?”
Greenlee blurted out the first thing that came to mind. “Dad, I don’t really know,” she said. “And if you don’t mind, I really don’t want to talk about this right now!”
“You called me,” he snapped.
Her dad bit his lip, took another deep breath, and as calmly as he possibly could in that particular moment said, “Greenlee, we’re definitely going to talk about it; maybe not at this very second, but you can rest assured that we will talk about it!”
“Dad, please, could you just come and get me? Please.” Another slight pause and he could hear her exhale, “I don’t even know where I am . . . I know you’re mad and disappointed in me, but please, can you just come and get me?”
A combination of relief and fear swept over him with such magnitude that he was forced to bat away his own tears. The photo of Greenlee that sat on his desk didn’t help: all smiles, sparkling eyes, and freckles across her cute button nose. It took him back to the days when he’d lift her in his arms and swing her around and around until she begged him to stop. He took a deep breath and spoke as softly as he could without breaking down.
“I’m not mad at you, Greenlee,” he said softly, “or disappointed in you. Don’t say that. But we will talk about this and you know that we will!” He grabbed his jacket and his keys. “I’m on my way. Don’t move from that spot and text me the street address.”
“Don’t talk to strangers!” He slammed down the phone and left his office.
As the air chilled, Greenlee realized that she was starving and cold. She wondered if she should ask her dad to stop and grab her a bite to eat, but given the circumstances, she figured it wasn’t the best time to ask for a favor. She kept her head down, hoping to avoid eye contact with the people on the street. She wasn’t used to being in the city by herself, especially at that hour, and the hustle and bustle of people that spilled onto the concrete made her fearful. Fortunately, no one was paying much attention to her, and that brought her some comfort. She shivered as a gust of wind blew through her body. Her hands clambered to grab her sweatshirt and wrap it as tightly around herself as she could. She continued to wait for her dad, who seemed to be taking too long. In less than twenty-four hours she had gone from not wanting to see her dad at all, to feeling relieved that he was finally pulling up to the curb.
The car door opened and she slid into the front seat without saying a word. Her dad asked her if she was hungry and Greenlee nodded gratefully. He pulled into the first fast-food place they came to and he ordered a burger and a large coffee. Handing her the brown soggy bag, he continued driving home.
Greenlee spoke first. Her voice echoed with the sound of distress, her pitch inconsistent, and she frantically tried to compose herself to speak without trembling. It was impossible. Reaching over, he grasped her hand. He never took his eyes off the road and didn’t offer any kind words—his simple gesture was enough. It was heartfelt, meaningful, filled with love and compassion, and touched Greenlee beyond any words that he could have chosen anyway. Gently he squeezed her hand in his, and she tried to speak.
“I . . . I can’t go back there, Dad, I just can’t. I thought I could,” she said as the tears flowed uncontrollably down her cheeks. She swallowed, sucked in a gasp of air, exhaled, and tried to continue.
“The whole thing is just too unfreaking believable. I can’t wrap my head around it. I still feel so stupid.”
She wasn’t hungry anymore but took another bite from her half-eaten burger, chewed a moment too long, swallowed, and looked at him as he continued to drive.
“I’m begging you, Dad, please, please don’t make me go back there. I still need to do what I’m doing, just maybe somewhere new.”
Her words and the tone with which she said them broke his heart. He hurt for her. He was angry for her, angry at himself for not having known, and furious with the kids who were involved. His daughter! Terrible for anyone’s daughter, but it was his daughter. Swallowing hard, he struggled to find the right words. His voice sounded different than usual: shaky but soft, concerned, but definitely filled with anguish. Greenlee studied his face for a moment but was forced to turn away. Tears had filled her dad’s eyes, and though it would have killed him to know, Greenlee felt humiliation engulf her as she realized that she had inadvertently brought her father to tears and caused him such pain.
“It was cruel and I still want to kill him, hurt him, and the others for that matter,” Matt Granger said. “And of course I can’t kill him. I’m angry, no, make that furious! I’m disgusted and mad at myself for not protecting you.” He couldn’t look at her, but he had to ask, “Greenlee, how did I not know?”
Greenlee put down the burger and whispered, “It’s easy, Dad, I didn’t even know!”
He stopped at a red light, released his grip on her hand, and took a sip of coffee. Clearing his throat, he tried to speak again, but he couldn’t. The words simply would not come. Rage had taken over and fearful of scaring her, he put his foot on the gas pedal and moved forward into the flow of traffic again.
“If you don’t go back, you’ll have to transfer. If you transfer, they win. You can’t let them win. You are better than they will ever dream of being. I hope you know that. I hope, Greenlee, that you see just how amazing you are. I think you should return to school. I don’t know how hard this will be for you. I’d be lying if I said I did. But I do know this”—he hesitated, choosing his words carefully—“you have to do this; you have to do this for yourself.”
He never said another word and Greenlee didn’t offer any either, there was no point. The inevitable was around the corner, but how she’d deal with the situation once she went back to school, facing the people who had put her through hell, remained to be seen.
The principal had been calling their house all day long. He didn’t mention the calls the school had made to Greenlee.
“We assure you,” the principal had said, “if anything else has happened, anything at all, we will handle it appropriately. Any student that may have been involved in this dreadful situation, if it was brought up again, will be disciplined to the full extent that the district is able to.” He hesitated and added, “Mrs. Granger, you have to know that we do not under any circumstances approve of this behavior.”
The principal waited for any assurance that he was handling the situation appropriately, but that affirmation wasn’t about to come. Mrs. Granger was angry and her words were sharp and bitter.
“What am I supposed to tell her?” she asked. “That you’re handling it as best you can?” She wasn’t thinking, just spouting words. “How do I explain that you’re handling the situation to the best of your ability? Greenlee is devastated and rightfully so. She’ll never get over this.”
She despised the sarcasm in her own voice; she tried to bite her tongue, but the poison, the bitter tone toward him, continued to flow, her voice hissing as the words attacked on behalf of her daughter.
“Clearly I’m not thinking straight,” she muttered through gritted teeth. “My apologies to you for my tone, but not to those kids, and for that, I make no apologies. I can’t imagine, as I’m sure you can’t, how Greenlee must be feeling right now.”
She didn’t wait for an answer or say goodbye; she simply hung up the phone and burst into tears. Where was Greenlee? Why hadn’t she called? She glanced at the phone, but it still didn’t ring.
Free Range Farm and he has a score to settle with Janoose.
How will the fox get his revenge?
Janoose finds her job at the feather factory in trouble! Bags of feathers are disappearing, and Janoose is puzzled over how this is happening. But with help from her true friends at Free Range Farm, she will solve this mystery!
I’m painting the pictures for my next children’s picture book: Janoose and The Fall Feather Fair. This book is a sequel for my children’s book, Janoose The Goose. The Fox returns to Free Range Farm and again, he wants something from Janoose! What is it THiS Time!
Review by Emma KnightleyThis is a great read aloud book for families with young children. You can use fun voices until your children can read on their own. This is a sequel to the original Janoose the Goose, but can be read on it’s own too. The colorful illustrations add to the enjoyment for both the children and the adults.
Janoose and the Fall Feather Fair:
by J.D. Holiday and Luke Brandon Winski
Something has gone terribly wrong for Janoose. Someone has been stealing two bags of feathers from her delivery truck and that is making her boss Mr. Rooster wonder why and it might mean she will lose her job. Now, anyone that knows Janoose knows she is diligent, careful and always has the right total of bags she is to deliver at all times but somehow things have been going down hill and for some reason she loads ten bags on the truck at Free Range Farm and when it is delivered there are only 8! Why? How?
This is serious and she just might need the advice of someone else to help her solve this problem before the Fall Feather Fair. What is they do not have enough feathers? Who could be stealing her feathers and who wants to discredit poor Janoose? Enlisting the help of the Mallard and Margie as both were perplexed, Margie shook her head and Mallard asked how the Fall Feather Fair’s parade float is coming but Janoose was sad and although they were trying to cheer her up by saying how excited they were about the fair and what they would have it did not change things for her. Austin the Horse, Gertie the Hen and of course Dee Dee Duck would be on the float but what about the feathers?
Janoose is observant and as she looks at the Feather Wear Truck she sees something that is supposed to be a painter but just who is it ? So, taking a picture with her camera and realizing that the factory did not need to be painted she had a photo of the painter? But, just who was it and oh my! It’s the fox who just got out of jail for stealing feathers and is supposed to be in a reform program. But, is he reformed? Deciding to collect more bags she drove back to the farm to get more feathers. There were many barnyard friends working in the barnyard on the float for the parade. However, Poor Janoose was out of feathers and once again stated that she was out 2 bags of feathers. But, Gertie is smart and realized that this is serious as does Austin. Well, fox is out of jail and she thinks the painter looks like him but she could be wrong.
Someone wants her job and someone is hoping to get her fired. Someone as Austin stated is stealing her bags of feathers and wants her job or is it someone that was fired and is trying to take what they lost from poor Janoose? This might take a touch of detective work as Gertie uses her head and tells her that they can mark the bottom of each bag with a J for Janoose and if someone steals her bags she can prove it with this special mark. So, instead of brooding and pouting she and her friends collected more feathers, marked the bottom of all the bags and loaded them on the feather factory’s truck and she drove back to the factory.
However, someone got there first and when Mr. Rooster wanted to know if she all the bags this time she said yes but wait until you see what happens to poor Janoose again. How could two bags be missing this time when they were right there? Why is he disappointed in her and what will be her fate? Will he let her go back for more feathers and she tells her friends what happened that the two bags were gone. But, her friends were out on a nature walk for a science project and maybe just maybe that might have captured the thief in one of their pictures. You won’t believe what they saw and who it was but seeing them getting into their old truck just where do you think they were going? You got it to the feather factory but first they stole some of the wheels from her truck so she could not get there before the them.
Poor Janoose was stunned when she saw Mr. Rooster paying someone else for her feathers and he refused to listen to what she had to say and fired her on the spot. Not listening to her will herfriends come to her aid? Will they show him the proof and the pictures of the thieves? Sometimes people jump to the wrong conclusions as authors J.D. Holiday and Luke Brandon Winski bring to light this story of trust, loyalty, understanding and friendship. Confidence in someone you never had to doubt is something that Mr. Rooster might have to learn. Will he look at the photos that her friends took? Will the Fall Feather Fair be a success? Check out the amazing life like illustrations by author J.D. Holiday making the story come to life for readers of all ages. So, will there be enough pillows for the fair? Will Janoose ever forgive Mr. Rooster and will he realize he was wrong or does she have to get a new job? The only way you are going to find out is to read this outstanding book that teaches so many things: Honesty, being truthful, owning up to your possible mistakes, asking for help when needed and hoping that the end result will be positive. Teachers, parents, discussion groups and peer readers can really enjoy talking about the many issues presented in this FIVE GOLDEN FEATHERS BOOK.
REVIEW by Fran Lewis: MJ magazine
This is a preview of the first page .
Janoose & The Fall Feather Fair is a project I’m still doing sketches for and is a sequel for my children’s book, Janoose The Goose. The Fox returns to Free Range Farm and he has a score to settle with Janoose! How will the fox get his revenge?
This book I co-wrote with my seven year old grandson. It’s in the painting stage.
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.
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: 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.
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.
“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.
Can Wil stay out of trouble and get along with her cousin, Bud and treat him like she wants to be treated?
on The Great Snowball Escapade, Wilhemena Brooks’ has a problem when her cousin comes to live with her family. Wil, as she likes to be called, finds things begin to disappear and that includes her pink pencil sharpener is missing after Christmas. Wil knows her cousin Bud has it! Who else would have taken it and she also finds out that Bud doesn’t like girls In fact, Bud doesn’t like anybody.
Wil tries to ignore him but he pulls her friend’s hair, takes over games, and when Bud is in trouble he making his “you’re going to get it” face at her which causes others to laugh. After a snowstorm closes school, Wil and her friends go sled riding. But Bud shows up and starts a snowball fight which ends with Wil in her room for the rest of the day for fighting. When her pencil sharpener is found, right where she left it, her mother tells Wil she must try harder to understand her cousin and stay out of trouble. Her mother wants Wil to be nice to Bud and to treat him like she would like to be treated. But if Wil treats Bud nicely does that change anything for her?