Amanda Thrasher, Article, author, Book Marketing, books, educators, Excerpts, Fiction, Life, Literary, parents, publishing, Sharing, Social media, Teens, tweens, Uncategorized, writer's life, YA

The Dangerous Side of Teen Dating

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 scratches, I’m sure.

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 it dating anymore. It’s often just referred to as hanging out. I’m hanging out with so-and-so, and then the hook-ups often follow that with no regard as to it being unnormal. Scary? It is.

Local Dr’s have said they treat teens two to three times a week for STD’s. I know… WHAT?! And 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 they’re invincible and nothing can happen to them.

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 Betrayal off 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.

Here’s an excerpt of the book:

Bitter Betrayal by Amanda M. Thrasher Text Copyright © 2017 Amanda M. Thrasher – All rights reserved. Published 2017 by Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, LLC

Sweet as Sugar, Bitter as Poison

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 the words, 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?

Author Website Amanda M. Thrasher

 

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author, books, Cereal Authors, Fantasy, Fiction, Musings, paranormal, Romance, Ruth Davis Hays, Teens, Uncategorized

Watchdogs Part 3

by R L Davis Hays 2017

WIP copy

“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.

Amanda Thrasher, author, books, Cereal Authors, educators, Excerpts, Fiction, Life, Literary, parents, Sharing, Teens, tweens, YA

“Bullying is OK!” said no one ever!

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.

Could be any kid, anywhere.

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.

The Greenlee Project Copyright © Amanda M. Thrasher

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.

Absolute silence.

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.”

“Ok”

“Greenlee?”

“Yeah?”

“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.”

“Mrs. Granger, we’re trying. We’re doing our best.”

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.

Author website Amanda M Thrasher

The Greenlee Project

author, books, childrens stories, Fiction, JD Holiday

Janoose And The Fall Feather Fair

JANOOSE and the FALL FEATHER FAIR
by J.D. Holiday and Luke Brandon Winski
The Fox returns to
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!

REVIEWS:

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 her  friends 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 

                                                    ~

MORE PICTURES:

This is a preview of the first page .
Second 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.

 

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

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

Dellani Oakes

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

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

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

Questions:

Amanda M. Thrasher

Amanda:

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

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

2) Does Pia resemble anyone you know?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dellani Oakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So Much It Hurts by Dellani Oakes

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

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

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

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

16) Will you write a sequel to this piece?

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

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

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

18) How do you define success as an author?

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

19) Define the best makebelieve day as a writer?

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

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

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

Excerpt:

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

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

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

“Today’s goal is campus.”

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

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

“You must have taken painting classes.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Unexpected,” she murmured. “Nice.”

“I’m sorry. I got carried away…”

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

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

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

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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

Dellani Amazon page

Dellani Oakes FB page

Blogspot http://writersanctuary.blogspot.com/

WordPress 

Twitter 

LinkedIn

Google+

Blog post by Amanda M. Thrasher

author, books, childrens stories, JD Holiday

Winter is Coming! Read The Great Snowball Escapade, a chapter book for 6 to 9 year olds!

9780981861425Can 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.
SB6-12-10-09013Finished-1_edited-1Wil 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. 9780981861425_txt_img_8Her 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?

BUY AT:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/%22J.D.+Holiday%22?_requestid=793356
https://www.amazon.com/The-Great-Snowball-Escapade-Holiday/dp/0981861423

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

BITTER BETRAYAL, NOT A TYPICAL TEEN ROMANCE

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

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

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

Cover for Me

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

         DTB CU there!

         (Don’t text back see you there)

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

Payton: Cover for me

Aubrey: Seriously?

Payton: Problem?

Aubrey: Yah

Payton: Really? J

         Aubrey: Nah

         Payton: K

         Aubrey: BTW 182

         Payton: U don’t hate me 🙂 Luv u

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

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

“Whoa girl, where’s the fire?”

Coach grabbed her arm as she tried to rush past him and her whole body swung around, forcing her to face him. Arm still in his grasp, he shook his head.

“Slow it down, girl! If only my boys had moved half as fast this morning.”

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

“What took you so long?” he asked.

The love of Payton’s life, well, at least to a sixteen-year-old, love-struck teen. One look at his smile and she melted. It was bad enough that they attended different schools, but he was a senior, in the process of narrowing down his college options, which meant she’d be stuck there without him. The thought of it made her cringe. On a daily basis she obsessed about him leaving, even when he asked her not to, but she couldn’t help it. Not today, she told herself, pushing the thoughts out of her head.

The best part of his day was right then, as he watched her walk toward him. He was sitting on the back of his tailgate, swinging his legs back and forth, waiting for her to join him. He tapped the cool metal, her cue to jump up next to him. She grinned. So freaking hot! He always looked that way to her, and all she wanted to do was kiss that face of his! Her grin turned into a giggle.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

“Nothing.”

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

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

“What?” he asked.

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

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

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

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

He rolled his eyes. But Payton could tell by the boyish grin on his face that her comment had pleased him. She loved that look on his face. He looked a few years younger, like a real kid. It was sweet. She stared a second too long, capturing that face a moment longer in her mind.

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

He tapped the tailgate again and held out his hand. So thoughtful! Payton thought, and this time she jumped up and joined him. The long cotton skirt she’d chosen to wear that day wrapped around her legs as she swung them back and forth off the back of the truck. Sandals, painted toes, and a T-shirt completed her outfit. Her long dark hair, with a delicate headband complimenting her outfit, finished off her look.

“You look hot. But I know you know that, so I’m not going to tell you!” He laughed. “Just kidding. You look amazing. Beautiful as usual!”

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

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

“What question was that?”

“Why were you late?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We could cut class.”

Reece’s eyes darted toward her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reece: K CUS – DTB

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

“Hey, can I ask you a question?”

Reece shrugged his shoulders. “Sure.”

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

“Yeah,” he said hesitantly.

“You don’t let me text you back?”

He looked puzzled.

“What are you talking about?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amanda M Thrasher Website

To Order Bitter Betrayal 

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Celebrate with Us! More About JD Holiday

JD Holiday is another driving force behind Cereal Authors and has been in the group since its inception. Author and illustrator of children’s books, she has created lovable characters for readers of all ages.

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JD’s Bio:

Author and illustrator, J.D. Holiday is the author of four children’s books: Janoose the Goose and the sequel Ganoose and the Fall Feather Fair, The Spy Game, and a chapter book for six to nine-year-olds, The Great Snowball Escapade: and for adults, a collection of short stories, stories and imaginings for the reading spot. She has written a variety of short stories and articles.

JD Holiday Blog

JD’s Writers Blog

This And That Art

JD’s Interview:

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

Yes. It was a romance that now, 45 years later, I can’t remember the title though the author was Janet Dailey. I do remember the story itself. I couldn’t cope with life at the time; family deaths, oppressive in-laws who we had to live with for a time. My husband considered that reading was all I did. While reading this one book I cried my heart out and wished I could be living the heiress’ life, or anybody elses life for that matter. I guess, in hindsight it might have given my husband some insight that I was not coping with his family after the deaths of my parents.

Describe your Muse and the working relationship you share.

I don’t have a muse that I know of. All my inspiration comes from my wonderful childhood. Oh, it wasn’t all roses, but it was fun. Every one of my stories comes from it.

How long does it take you to write and illustrate a book?

That always depends on what is going on around me. Most of my stories I wrote years ago, but I think most of them took a few months to write and even up to eight months for the longer stories. My book, The Great Snowball Escapade, is a chapter book for 6 to 9 year olds which I wrote in 1989. The illustrations took about 6 months fitting them in around my family, work, cooking and pets who all come first.

If you had to start your writing career over would you do anything differently?

I would have started self-publishing years before I did.

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

Yes, I always wanted to make money from my books and maybe have a movie made of one. I still could happen! Really!

What does your favorite book say to you? What do you feel it might say to someone else?

My favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird. It has taught me how race differences are only skin color. No more. It shows you there will always be bad people and good people, and that you can be a good one. This story should say the same to everyone else who reads it, if they are on honest with themselves and no matter what race they are.

What makes you laugh or cry?

I laugh a lot when my family is around. We always find things to laugh about, even if hard times.

The state of my country makes my cry. I haven’t felt this sorrow in years.

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

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So New, It Doesn’t Even Have a Title

A work in progress:

The juice box was definitely against me. Its resistance was punctuated by a taunting titter.  My efforts to open it were futile, it mocked.

 

WIP copyNo, wait. The snickering was not the juice box. It came from down the lunch table.  I didn’t even have to look their way. I knew who was laughing, and I didn’t want to see if it was me they were laughing at.  In my heart, I knew it was.

 

I continued to stab at the little cellophane covered hole with the sadly beveled end of the hard plastic straw like Van Helsing at the climax of a bad B movie. The final strike bent my straw, but rewarded me with a squirt of lukewarm apple juice in the face. An arterial explosion worthy of the best special effects artist in the business.

 

The laughter from the perfectly coifed girls at the other end of the table could not be ignored this time.  My life was not a bad horror movie; it was a comedy and I was the hapless victim of a situational schtick.

 

Staring down at the lunch tray, I watched the juice drown my stale, rectangular pizza slice.  At least, I wasn’t hungry anymore anyway.  My appetite was ruined by the whispered jokes about me destroying the little paper box with my brute strength.

 

I closed my eyes and swore that if I heard one more comment from those four makeup-slathered, social media celeb wannabes about me being a “she-male”, I’d flip this table on their heads.

 

Not that I hold any direct animosity for She-males, or what have you, but I do resent lies being spread about me.  And, I resent those who start the lies.  Namely, Brittany.  My mom says I spend way too much time worrying about Brittany, her crew, and what they think or say about me.

 

Mom says it doesn’t matter what others think, only what I know about myself.  Yeah, she’s full of inspirational poster stuff like that.

 

Sorry, Mom.  But, it’s hard not to see myself reflected in the eyes and jeers of my fellow students.  My peers.  What a joke.  I have so very little in common with them that I hesitate to call them peers of any sort.  Alas, for the next year or so, I must.

 

Of course, using the word ‘alas’ in casual conversation is one of the things these girls would tease me about.  Can I help it if my grandfather read Shakespeare to me for the last fifteen years of his life?

 

The siren-like bell blared from the hall to announce the next class would begin in five.  I gathered my sloshing tray and stood, never glancing at Brittany once.  Fifth period was next.  Gym class, right after lunch.  Brilliant scheduling.

 

When was this nightmare going to end?

*****************************************************************************

I woke up the other day recounting my dream several times as I did to try and remember it. The sights, the feelings, the familiar trappings of high school. I often dream that I’m back in school, but never had I wanted to write them into a story. This one was fun.  Well, to me, running for my life and fighting creatures while possessing an unnatural strength in a dream is fun.  Others may call it a nightmare.  Either way, it spawned this new character. This is a little beginning snippet from what I will call my first Urban Paranormal Young Adult story.

It is such an infant at the moment that it has no name.  Heck, I just came up with the protagonist’s name this morning.  I hope you enjoy!