Amanda Thrasher, Article, author, Book Marketing, books, Cereal Authors, chapter books,, Children's story, educators, Fiction, Life, Literary, parents, publishing, Sharing, Social media, Teens, tweens, writer's life, YA

TLA 18 – What’s this all about?

Signing copies of Bitter Betrayal in the featured author area at TLA 18.

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?

Signing ‘The Greenlee Project’ at TLA 18

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.

TLA

Copyright © Amanda M. Thrasher 

Amanda M.Thrasher

Progressive Rising Phoenix Press

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books, Rachel Rueben, Romance, Thriller

Fedelta 2: Hustling

Fedelta Excerpt 3
Image via Pixabay

*Warning Language*

Meanwhile, just a few blocks away in front of a laundromat, Cassandra was hunting for new clothes.  In most people’s eyes, she was loaded but in reality, she was asset rich and cash poor.  She couldn’t just walk into a store and pay with her jewelry, no matter how nice and expensive it was.  So in essence she was broke, so Casssandra did what she always did when she was broke, she stole.  First, she cased the joint for security guards but only found surveillance cameras on the outside of the building as well at the register.  The rest of the place was free of interference.  Relieved, she began looking for women who were about her size and observed their alertness.  The last thing she needed was someone putting up a fight.  However as she scanned the place, Cassandra noticed only one woman who fit the bill and she seemed to be a young woman with three small children.  It didn’t feel right, so Cassandra decided to make it right.  Sitting in one of the plastic neon orange chairs near her target, she began taking off her diamond earrings.  She figured they were worth around $10,000, way more than anything this woman owned and slipped them into the woman’s purse. With the flick of the wrist, Cassandra slid the goods into the woman’s bag and began her scheme.

Appearing to be busy on her phone, Cassandra patiently waited for the woman to be distracted and it didn’t take long when her kids began fighting.  Completely overwhelmed, the woman snatched one of the boys by the arm and began yelling.  As she did, the baby next to her started crying.  The woman sighed and commanded, “Come on!” as she headed off to the lady’s restroom.  It was the diaper change sent from the gods, and without arousing any suspicion, Cassandra went over to the dryer and plucked out a damp t-shirt with a pair of jeans from the load.  Then without saying a word, she left the laundromat before the woman could return.  When she got to her car, she began putting on the lavender peasant top and cropped blue jeans.  Now the look was complete, no one would ever think of looking for her driving a dirty SUV while dressed in Boxmart style clothes.  Even though she wasn’t dressed like her normal attire, it was still way better than the sweaty and dirty evening gown that she was nearly murdered in.  When Cassandra got to the nearest Mc Restaurant, she threw the gown in the dumpster.  Smelling the food inside her stomach growled.   It had been over 6 hours since she last ate and though it would kill her family to know that she was eating food cooked under a heat lamp, it was cheap and convenient.

None of that mattered because she still had no money, and the only thing Cassandra had left to give away was her engagement ring.  There was no way she would ever part with that.  So she had to find another way.  Looking through her purse, she desperately looked for anything but all she had was makeup, tissues and gum.  Then her phone vibrated.  Looking at the screen, Cassandra noticed the call had a local area code with an unfamiliar number.  She knew better than to answer.  In fact, she knew what to do next, she had to pawn the phone.  But before she did that, Cassandra deleted all the contact info as well as all the apps.  She had another phone in her suitcase, she wasn’t going to miss this one.  Before Cassandra left the restaurant, she looked around for a fencer.  Usually, they hustled on corners or in parking lots.  She knew there would be interest in her phone because it was brand new and had a brand named.  Scouring the block for her new buyer, she noticed a man in front of a gas station.  Checking him out, she noticed he was dressed in a newish football jersey and jeans so he wasn’t homeless.  Cautiously, she scanned the block to make sure he wasn’t a cop.  Cassandra couldn’t see any unusual cars parked on the street and decided to take the risk.  Casually, she walked over to him and smiled then, asked for the time.  Returning the smile he said, “Baby, I got all the time in the world.”  It was the corniest thing she had ever heard, and couldn’t help but roll her eyes.  Seeing the ice had been broken, she straight up asked him, “Hey, I’m looking to unload a phone, is there a pawn shop ‘round here?”

“Naw, baby girl, but lemme look.”

From a distance she held up the phone and his eyes bulged, “That’s the new Andromeda 10!”  Hearing the excitement in his voice, Cassandra asked, “Yeah, you interested?”  And before you knew it, she had closed the deal and scored an extra $40 in her pocket.  It wasn’t a lot but enough for food and little bit of gas for her ride.  With this Cassandra ordered her McSlop which she ate in the car because she was too embarrassed to eat inside.  As she inhaled her food, Cassandra wondered about her next move.  It was the first time in nearly 8 hours she had time to sit down and think.  She could flee the country but she had to do it quickly before she was named a suspect or a person of interest by law enforcement.  And since she stuck a gun in a cop’s face, they were more likely to just book her on that.  Then there was Stephano’s killers, she would have to deal with them sooner or later.  She needed to get her hands on Danny Marchesi, the man who ruined her life and took Stephano’s.  Angry, all Cassandra could do was fantasize about what she would do with him and his crew once she got a hold of them.  But for now, she was just some chick in a fast food parking lot and wasn’t riding with any crew.  In fact, she had to assume that everyone had turned on her.  It was the safest thing to do.

Feeling all alone, the tears streamed down her face but Cassandra decided to shut that part of her brain down in order to survive.  She needed to survive this attack on her life, Casssandra needed to survive the police and their bullshit, and more importantly, she needed to survive for Stephano.  She was the only one who could deliver justice for him now.  With her mind already made up, she threw what was left of her lunch out of the window and started the car.  It was reckoning time.

 

Thank you for following along with the Fedelta series, if you need to get caught up here are the first two posts:

author, books, Cereal Authors, Excerpts, Fantasy, Fiction, Ruth Davis Hays, Uncategorized

The Dawnstone Tale – excerpt

by R.L.Davis Hays

Chapter 1 continues:

Ruth Davis Hays Book Cover Collage 1

“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.”

“Thirty, then?”

“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/

Amanda Thrasher, Article, books, Cereal Authors, Children's story, childrens stories, educators, Fiction, Life, Literary, parents, publishing, Sharing, Social media

What was your proudest professional moment?

Many of us belong to groups including social media groups. Often added without our knowledge, some groups I know nothing about the subject matter at all, and yet there I am, added. I won’t lie; I spend very little time socializing online, socializing period. I’m not necessarily an unsocial person, but like most people these days I’m spread pretty thin, and I’m incredibly busy. Between my family, personal writing time, and work, spare time is a real issue. But recently a social media group sent out a question that ended up in my inbox, and it caught my attention. It was a great question, which made me stop, read the question and think.

What was your proudest professional moment?

I thought about that question for several minutes. We all have proud personal moments, kids and family rising to the top of the list. But the proudest professional moment, I hadn’t given that particular question much thought till right then.

I think on a personal, professional level, having Barnes and Noble Small Press Division, NY, at one-time purchasing three of my titles, little author, and a small press was a huge professional moment for me. They don’t stay there long, store category buyers list, and it’s not the same as .com. line. That was a huge accomplishment at the time, knowing we have great titles with sales under their belts, large author platforms, that have been declined over and over again for the category buyer store purchase. That ranked pretty high for me, as an author, as a proud professional moment. Starting a business with my business partner, a press founded by authors, in a competitive industry and personally being invited to discuss our company with our print managers at LSI/Ingram in TN was huge. Touring the plant, negotiating a contract that was feasible for us as a company and beneficial for our authors was also a proud professional moment. But one of the proudest moments I can remember, professionally, was the day I received a letter from a Site Director, Jeremy McNair, for one of the after-school programs that he managed at an elementary school on behalf of another organization. I had been asked to conduct a month-long workshop with multiple sites. Listed as one of my locations the letter stated the following:

Dear Amanda,

My name is Jeremy McNair, and I am the Site Director for the YMCA program at Butler Elementary School. This past Monday, you came and spoke to my students about your book and the writing processes behind them. The past two days since then have been completely filled with the kids telling me how much they learned and enjoyed your presentation. I wish I could take the time to tell you every story, but I’ve typed up several of the letters that they’ve written to you and copied them to the end of this email. Your drive and passion were well received and noted by all the children and staff, and I know that your impact will resonate in a huge way in all of their lives.

Thank you so much for your dedication to your craft, but even more than that, thank you for sharing it with the children at Butler. They were left truly inspired.

Sincerely,

Jeremy McNair

This touched me in such a way, as did the letters from the students below (read them, and you’ll see what I mean, precious) that it reminded me of why authors/writers do what we do. Why we share our work, spend time, and encourage our future young writers to tap into and use their imagination to create beautiful future works. Over the years I’ve participated, completed, and accomplished many things that other people would be proud of, but this to this day ranks as one of my proudest professional moments.

Letters from the students below (they’re in a laminate paper for protection) but click on the image to enlarge and read.

Amanda M Thrasher Website

Article, author, books, Cereal Authors, JD Holiday, Writing Process

Text-To-Speech: An Editing Tool

           Text-To-Speech: An Editing Tool by JD Holiday

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.

Screenshot (15)
This is how I edited. I set the Read Aloud app to one side, and the manuscript to the other. When I hear a mistake, I stop the app and fix the problem.

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 tryingFind out more about the Voice Reading (Read Aloud) by Microsoft Word at:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/p/readaloud/9wzdncrdn3ms

©JD Holiday 2018

books, Fiction, Rachel Rueben, Romance, Thriller

Fedelta 2: Hardball

Fedelta 2 Second Excerpt

Meanwhile across town, Detective Amato was back in his cubicle with the other detectives in the financial crimes unit.  It was his own personal nightmare, a desk job  he had to do from a shoe box but at least he had a job.  In the last year, he went from fugitive, to being welcomed back into the fold and it was all a complete mystery to him.  Well not really, he knew that someone called in a favor and he was let back into the force through the cat flap.  Amato managed to keep his nose to the grind and keep out of trouble but it was secretly killing him.  He wanted more and Amato wasn’t even sure if this is how he wanted to live his life.  Looking at spreadsheets and nitpicking over ledgers was not what he dedicated himself to at the academy.  It was pathetic, he didn’t even have a gun anymore.  The last time he discharged his firearm was when he was taking the marksmanship test.  He felt like a dog that had been neutered, a ball-less wonder.  Okay, maybe it wasn’t the gun that was bothering him so much.  Maybe it was the fact that he knew that the only reason why he was back on the force was because of Cassandra Fenetti.  The woman who he owed his newly resurrected career to and the woman he wanted dead for betraying him.

With blurry eyes, he did his best to read the rows and columns of financial data that graced the screen.  His job was to flag any inconsistencies and send the documents off to his supervisor.  Rinse and repeat, all the day long.  It was soul crushing for a man who was used of being out in the field taking risks and chasing bad guys.  He didn’t know how long he could take this, in fact, he had already started looking for another job in another town.  There had to be someone, somewhere, who needed a cop?  As his mind wondered off, his boss, Agent Nicholson, yelled from his office, “Amato, get in here.”  Startled, he nearly tripped over his own feet trying to exit his work station, God he couldn’t wait until this day was over.

Once in the office, he noticed Supervisory Special Agent Cohen from the Organized Crime Unit was sitting across from his boss’ desk.  “Shut the door,” Nicholson ordered.  Doing as he was told, Amato shut the door and approached the desk.  Pointing to a folding chair, his boss commanded, “Take a seat.” Once seated, Cohen addressed Amato, “There was a hit this morning on Columbus Avenue and 96th Street.  Double homicide, both males.”  On the desk was a folder which he reached into and pulled out several photos of two men in a vehicle, shot multiple times.  Handing them over to Amato, he asked, “Recognize, the vics?”

Stunned, Amato answered, “Yes, the male behind the wheel is Lucus Hobbs, driver for Stephano Rimaldi, the very dead gentleman in the backseat.”

“Right,”  Cohen said as he pulled out a tablet and handed it to Amato, “Press play.” Doing as instructed, a grainy surveillance video played the final moments of the unlucky occupants in the car.  “This is overkill” Amato remarked as he saw four men shooting at the vehicle.  He watched as the assassins fled the scene and the patrolman approached the vehicle.  Pressing stop, Cohen corrected him saying, “No, keep going.”  Not certain as to what he meant, Amato pressed play again and watched as Cassie appeared in camera range.  “Recognize the female?”  Cohen asked.

Hesitantly, Amato answered, “Yes, it’s Fenetti, Cassandra Fenetti.  She’s the fiancé of Rimaldi.”

“Interesting,” Cohen said staring at Amato.  “Those of us in homicide would appreciate any assistance you can offer in our little investigation.”

“Of course,” Amato replied.

“We’re looking for the female suspect,”

“Suspect?”

“She couldn’t have done this.”

“No, we don’t believe she’s the mastermind of the hit, but she did threaten an officer with a weapon and we would like to talk to her.”

Chuckling, Amato answered, “Good luck finding her, let alone getting her to talk.”

“Yeah about that,” Cohen said sitting back in his chair, “We want you to lead the fugitive task force.”

“Wait, what?” Amato exclaimed, “This is the wrong way to approach the case.”

Smirking, Cohen looked at Amato, “It’s not your call.”

“I’ll provide intel but I’m not leading any task force.  It’s a waste of time.”

“Why?”  Cohen asked.

“Because she’s probably halfway to Timbuktu already.”

“Are you saying you can’t do it?”

“I’m saying she’s one of the richest women in this town and it will be a million times harder to trace than she was before.”

Questioning his loyalty Cohen asked, “Why should we believe you?  Word is you had a relationship with Fenetti during your excursion away from the force.”

A rush of heat hit Amato’s face from the insinuation that he was protecting some girlfriend.  Nonetheless, he took a deep breath and as calmly as he could, Amato responded, “I stepped in to protect a witness when our agency was unable.  There was never any inappropriate relationship between myself and Miss. Fenetti.”  He kept referring to her by her last name to keep his distance emotionally but also to show that he was not on friendly terms with her which, at that point, he wasn’t.

“If you don’t trust me, then find another agent to do the job.  Problem solved,” Amato said, calling Cohen’s bluff.

“I don’t like your attitude, no wonder they put you in the shitter.”

“Hey!” Nicholson interrupted, “I run this shitter and right now I’m flushing you right back to OC (Organized Crime).”

Without a word, Cohen stood up and gathered his tablet as well as his folder and walked out of the office.

“God, I hate those guys.” Nicholson said with disgust.

‘Yeah, me too.”

“You’re dying to get back in OC ain’t ya?”

“Yep,” Amato said as he stood up.

“So what was all that, I’m not the guy for the job shtick?”

“I’m gonna make them beg.”

Rolling his eyes, Agent Nicholson said, “Get the hell out my office.”

 

 

author, books, Cereal Authors, Children's story, childrens stories, JD Holiday, YA

An Excerpt from a Middle-grade novel by JD Holiday

 Bookworks Featured author.pngAn 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.

Excerpt:

                                                                         CHAPTER 1

              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

 small.

              “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.

Thanks!

 

Simple things

‘ A Little Bit More’ 

 ‘With This Christmas Came A little Bit More’

 ‘Christmas Means A Little Bit More

 ‘Its Christmas Time In The City’

 ‘Sharing at Christmas’

http://jdholiday.blogspot.com/p/latest-middle-grade-novel.html

books, Fiction, Rachel Rueben, Romance, Thriller

She’s Back…

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Image via Pixabay

Warning: Language

Stephano quickly returned with her shawl and his jacket which he draped over his arm.  Fortunately for them, the gala was held on the first floor of the hotel so Cassandra didn’t have to endure the elevator.  God only knows what would happened there.  As they got to the front door, their Bentley Bentayaga was already waiting for them.  While Stephano opened the door, she noticed a man who looked out of place, he was wearing faded jeans and a white t-shirt.  With a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, Cassandra figured he was just of the hotel employees, a poorly dressed one at that.  Nothing to look at here she thought to herself until, he gave them the side eye.  Okay, so he was a badly dressed hotel employee with an attitude problem.  However, Cassandra’s gut told her there was something more to this perceived slight but she wasn’t feeling well and figured she wasn’t thinking straight.  Maybe it was the wine?

As the driver opened the passenger door, Cassandra happily got in while Stephano followed.  Once they pulled away from the curb Cassandra started to relax knowing they were only ten minutes from their apartment.  When they pulled up to a red light, Stephano remarked about the lack of traffic and just as he made that statement, the car behind them turned up their high beems, blinding the driver.  Cassandra’s heart stopped as she realized what was going on.  Looking at Stephano, she grabbed his arm but before anything came out of her mouth, several men approached the car from the front as well as the side.  Two of them pulled out guns, and started shooting, “Oh God!” she gasped as a hail of bullets started showering the car.  In an act of utter selflessness, Stephano pulled her down to the floor and covered her with his body.  Though it only lasted seconds, it felt like an eternity for the shooting to stop.  Shaking to her core, Cassandra said not one word as she heard footsteps approaching the car.  Hearing the driver’s door open, she heard a raspy voice announce, “Yeah, they’re dead.”  Listening as the others approach, Cassandra had to fight the urge to shake.  Closing her eyes, she controlled her breathing and lied as still as she could. “Good job fellas,” said one of the men.  This voice she recognized, it was Danny Marchesi, Stephano’s best friend.

“Dump the car and the bodies in the river,” Danny instructed one of the henchmen.  However before they could follow through, Danny groaned “Aw shit!” Listening closely, Cassandra heard several footsteps running in the opposite direction of the car.  As she remained motionless, she heard a car slowly pulling up and to her relief it was an elderly couple who stopped when they saw the driver slump over the wheel.  Thinking he was having a heart attack, they called 9-1-1 and within minutes, a patrol car arrived.  When the officer assessed the scene he knew immediately he was not dealing with a motorist in distress, this was a shooting.  Cautiously, he approached the car, and as he inched closer, he drew his weapon just in case the perpetrators were nearby.  Observing the driver, he nudged him with his hand and asked, “Sir, are you alright?”  After two attempts to communicate with the driver, he stepped back and noticed a black heap of clothing in the back seat area.  With his weapon still in hand, he opened the back door and realized it was yet another male.  Again, he repeated the proper procedure and tried to make contact with the male.  When he nudged Stephano, Cassandra popped out from under him.  Pulling back in fear, the officer nearly fell backwards into the street.  Drawing his weapon on her, he demanded, “Hands in the air.”  However, instead of complying, Cassandra pulled out her Glock 26 and yelled, “Fuck off!”

As the officer took cover behind his car, Cassandra got out of the passenger door and without taking her eyes off the guy, she retreated to a nearby alley.  Calling for backup, the officer could only watch as Cassandra disappeared from his range of vision and when assistance finally arrived, it was already too late, she was long gone.

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 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 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

 

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.