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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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

 

Article, publishing, Rachel Rueben, writer's life

Advice To Self-Published Authors

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Image via Pixabay

In 2009, I decided to become an author, unfortunately, I had no idea what kind of journey I was signing up for.  As I threw my hat into the race, publishers were closing left and right due to the Great Recession.  Also, Amazon had just started challenging the U.S. publishing industry by creating the Kindle e-reader and their Kindle Direct Publishing company.  Now in 2018, the publishing industry has changed so much, today, many authors are choosing to go indie and major publishers are being even more selective about what they acquire.  So what would I say to an author just starting out today?  Well, I gathered some of the best advice I could and decided to publish it all here.  Hopefully, you too will pass it on to the next generation of newbie authors who don’t have a clue about how the publishing thing works.

 

  1. Educate yourself on the business and keep up with industry news. ~Rachel Rueben

 

  1. My advice to authors is to EDIT EVERYTHING WELL! If you aren’t confident of your own skills, hire someone. Yes, it gets expensive, but it’s worth it. We all make mistakes, miss things, or simply don’t know the correct way to say something. Research your would-be editor well. I’ve seen professionally edited, big company published, best selling authors, with grammatical errors. Apparently, neither they, nor their editors, knew the correct grammar. Find someone who will do a good job at a fair price. If you can’t afford an editor, then read your manuscript until your eyes bleed and your brain melts.” ~Dellani Oakes

 

  1. Avoid vanity presses they accept your manuscript but they charge you for the privilege of getting published.  It’s fine if you have money to throw at the endeavor but you are better off self publishing on Amazon.” ~Karen Vaughan

 

  1. Best advice? Decide how much control you want in the decisions about your new work. A finished story can be like the writer’s baby, so that writer has to decide how they feel about letting it go to another for the “growing up” process. Whether to self-publish with a POD, an ebook indie publisher, or try for the traditional publishing houses, it can be a matter of time and persistence. However, the bigger the publisher, the less control a writer might have on the decisions of cover, marketing, or even the edits. So, a new writer will have to choose whether they want to take the time to submit queries, submissions, and find agents so that they can possibly get more notice (and hopefully money) for their work, but have to let the fine details go to someone else and start working on the next. Or, if they have the tenacity to market themselves, they can have complete control of their baby and self-publish. An indie ebook press can offer a range between these two. Some have their own artists and editors, some let the author have the final say. But, once you have your “baby” fresh from your brain and “on paper” (as most books are files rather than typed manuscripts anymore), you need to decide which path of hard work, long hours, and promotion you want to do. It’s a lot of tedious work either way. As a self-publisher, I like having a say in what my books look like, but I sure would appreciate someone else doing the editing and marketing sometimes. Having a strong network of fellow authors is always good to have as well, no matter how you decide to publish..” ~Ruth Davis Hays

 

  1. Business is business, dead weight is just that, dead weight. If they are not contributing revenue they will drain your resources, cut them loose.” ~ Mike Thrasher – Chief Sales and Marketing Officer – Apex Capital From Amanda Thrasher

 

  1. On verbal agreements: “Some states do not honor verbal agreements. Others do. If one of the parties in your contract is from one of those states, then you could be agreeing to something you think you’ve mentioned casually over the phone.This one fact alone is why I do not conduct telephone negotiations with anyone on any project for any reason.

    People who want to negotiate with me must do so by letter or, these days, by email. I print those emails and keep them as work product for any agreement that we come up with, or don’t come up with, as the case may be.”  ~ Kristine Kathyrn Rusch

 

  1. You can definitely build an author platform and generate good sales from free marketing – but you will pay with your time.” ~ Joanna Penn

 

  1. About mistakes he sees authors make on social media:  “Shouting, ‘buy my book’, ad nauseam, on Twitter. No one is listening.” ~Mark Dawson

 

  1. Whatever you may have heard, self-publishing is not a shortcut to anything. Except maybe insanity. Self-publishing, like every other kind of publishing, is hard work. You don’t wake up one morning good at it. You have to work for that. ~ Zoe Winters

 

Here are a just a few books worth reading if you want to learn more about self-publishing:

  • (APE) Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur by Guy Kawasaki
  • Write. Publish. Repeat: The No Luck Required Guide to Self- Publishing Success by Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant and David Wright
  • Closing the Deal on Your Own terms by Kristine Kathyrn Rusch
  • Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook, Second Edition, by Helen Sedwick
  • How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn (This is book 2, in a series.)
  • Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran

Also, if you want more information and resources you can check out: Important Resources for Indie Authors Parts One & Two, right here on the Cereal Authors blog.

 

Happy 2018, if you have any advice that you would like to impart to the next generation, please share it in the comments section.

 

books, Cereal Authors, Life, Literary, Musings, Ruth Davis Hays, Sassy Sarcasm, Uncategorized, writer's life, Writing Process

Sarcasm vs…

I used to have a snarky reply for every question. When I was a teen, my mother used to ask why I was so “smart-mouthed”.  When I was college-aged and in a group of friends I considered to all be equally intelligent, I would let the sarcasm fly. I knew they would “get” it.

Looking back, I don’t know if I was eager for the laughter (even if it was only my own), or if I was guarding my emotions. Can’t get hurt if they think you don’t care, right?

But recently, I’ve noticed that I’m not as off the cuff as I used to be. The sarcasm comes out when I’m irritated or tired; it’s reserved for those special moments when I’ve been pushed too far.

When Dellani first spoke to the Cereal Authors about posting on sarcasm, I thought it would be easy. On the contrary, I’ve found myself at a loss lately. Thinking on it, I tried to trace back to where I had lost my everyday sarcasm. I believe I tempered it when I was raising my son. (There is only so much witty, sardonic banter one can throw at a five year old before it just sounds cruel.)

As my son developed into a teenager, I let it creep back and he seemed to take to it like a duck to water. Now, he’s the smart-mouthed one. (Maybe it’s a teen thing!)

In looking for examples of sarcasm in my writing, I’ve come across the conundrum of:  Is this sarcasm or is it irony?

So, I thought I’d try and work that out this month, and in doing so, found that it is not a situation of Sarcasm vs. Irony. It is rather a hand in hand relationship.

Dictionary.com describes Sarcasm as “a form of irony in which apparent praise conceals another, scornful meaning…” and “mocking, contemptuous, or ironic language intended to convey scorn or insult.”

It is usually delivered through dialogue or tone. Now, a person’s tone is somewhat difficult to convey in a literary piece without actually using a descriptive speech tag like “he said in a mocking tone.” (A bit subtle, don’t ya think?)

Irony has one definition that is just as vaguely symbiotic:  “the humorous or mildly sarcastic use of words to imply the opposite of what they normally mean.

However, irony can be more situational and punctuated by the use of sardonic, biting dialogue. And with its second definition:  “an incongruity between what is expected to be and what actually is, or a situation or result showing such incongruity,” and “In Literature:  a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.”

There we go, as clear as day. A big, bright, sunshiny day.

For a crude example of the two, I came up with a situation in the blurry haze of the morning.  Say that there are two characters riding an elevator together, and one guy passes gas. The other notices and remarks, “Nice. Thanks. We needed an air-freshener in here.”

Now, if that same gassy character is lying in bed, lets one fly, and then flips over in his covers and essentially Dutch Ovens himself. (That is not only karmic justice, but on the ironic side.)

I warned you it was crude. I’m not sure where I was going with this article, but it sprang out of a contemplation of myself. Like I said, I used to wield sarcasm in almost every social situation when I was young. I used it to not get too close or appear too vulnerable to those around me. One definition of irony rang true to me on this point. “(especially in contemporary writing) a manner of organizing a work so as to give full expression to contradictory or complementary impulses, attitudes, etc., especially as a means of indicating detachment from a subject, theme, or emotion.”

Detachment from an emotion.

Yes, there it is.

That is what drives the sarcastic banter among several of my main characters. Especially those that have the most to lose by admitting their true feelings or having those feelings exposed. Sarcasm is their shield, as it was mine. (And still is on many occasions.) It is an essential element in them, their way of dealing with their world. I cannot picture them without it. And, I don’t think I would want to.

Just a musing for this month, as I approach the Half Century mark in my life, that I thought I would share.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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Blog post by Amanda M. Thrasher

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

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

Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Desperate Mind

perfume-labTruth, As Strange As Fiction:

Desperate Mind
by
J.D. Holiday*

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

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

* Names have be changed to protect the innocence. 😀

Amanda Thrasher, Article, author, books, Cereal Authors, Life, Literary, Sharing, Social media, writer's life, YA

BACK TO SCHOOL – BULLIES DON’T CARE

Back to school is right around the corner; some kids have already started the new school year, while others make final preparations. Usually, it’s an exciting time, but some kids dread the thought of going back to the place they feel the most insecure or where they’re an easy target for others entertainment. Bullying comes in all forms such as verbal, physical, isolation, and bullies themselves are often hard to identify. Sometimes they’re the stranger in the shadows, others, they’re the most popular kids on campus, and sometimes they hide behind being kind and respectful. But these days any kid given the right circumstances such as being in a group egged on by their peers, hiding behind a device, can feel empowered, and  become hateful or bolder in their word choices than they normally would to others.

Social media has played a huge role over the years desensitizing kids to bullying acts that occur both physical and verbal. Behavior once considered unacceptable has slipped into the realm of socially acceptable, not only in teenage circles but often in households all across the world. Watering down meanness and turning it into humor is unsettling to me as a parent.

Outrageous name-calling or verbal onslaughts for the sake of the latest trend or lingo, can often turn conversations into subtle attacks that can cause harm and inflict damage in less than ten words. Especially if one has no idea how fragile the other person on the receiving end might be. Words and rumors causing reputations to be ruined, individuals isolated, and unfortunately, too many times we’re witnessing the unthinkable when tweens, teens, and sometimes even adults take their lives without a solid punch ever being swung. Weapon of choice these days? Phones mostly, but bullies aren’t limited to those, tablets, and the ol’ desk top still works as well. 

Teen language and lingo is so foreign to me, it changes daily, and I have two teens still at home. It often sounds like slang bombardments with laughter attached. “I hate you.” “Everyone hates you.” “No one likes you.” “Drink bleach.” “Kill my self.” And I hate this one, “Kill yourself.” “Do it!”

If questioned the standard answer is the same, “I was just kidding,” or “It’s a joke.” Alternatively, “I didn’t mean it!” But unfortunately, fragile teens will take those type of words literally to heart. It wears on them and breaks them down. One has no idea of the fragile state of mind of young teens, many who are legally medicated without others knowledge.

According to the CDC, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year. However, for every successful suicide, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Unfortunately, many of those are related to bullying. Cyberbullying is experienced on some level by many kids today. Kids are killing themselves because the bullying is torturing them and affecting them to such a degree they’d rather be dead. How disturbing is that! Again, no one can tell how the fragile state of mind is of the child on the receiving end. Disturbing.

I was inspired to write a book that addresses bullying and teens, The Greenlee Project, it’s a MCA® winner for YA and General Fiction and has been named among the best in family-friendly media, products, and services by the Mom’s Choice Awards®. It also won for YA and General Fiction at NTBF. The Greenlee Project demonstrates the effect of using social media negatively. How it affects the victim, family, friends, communities, and even the bully or bullies that are sending the damaging texts. So-called good kids, unexpectedly, become the so-called bad kids. How? Easy, one touch of a button; send!

During my research for The Greenlee Project, I observed teens on different campuses, sat at football games and in cafeterias with the teens. Visited libraries, and interviewed teens, teachers, parents, and counselors. I have teens of my own, and my house is often full of kids. But I can honestly say I was shocked about some of the things I learned during my research.

We all know that bullying has existed for years, but no one will argue today it’s a different world. Social media can put the victim on a public platform delivering the maximum amount of damage within seconds. It spreads like wildfire. 

We can’t take away nor do I suggest taking away devices. But be vigilant. Watch your teens. Bullies pick on kids of all sizes and economic status. They do not discriminate and most victims, once tweens or teens, do not openly share their feeling of being abused by other kids. If you’re looking for a book that will open up a conversation about this topic, girls, and boys, read The Greenlee Project with your teen. I gurarentee emotions will brought to the surface and a discussion will start. There are even discussion questions in the back of the book to assist with the topic. Don’t wait. Bullies come in all shapes and sizes.

Greenlee Lynn Granger is about to find out the meaning of technology used as a malicious tool: a normal teen one day, and ruined the next. Who knew a boy’s affections could turn her life into such turmoil? Becoming a designated project, a joke in front of the whole school, turns Greenlee’s life upside down. What she does next is shocking. An emotional glimpse into the reality of cyber bullying : cruel betrayal of such magnitude devastates Greenlee. Greenlee knows her choices will determine the future of her abusers. Her relationship with her family and friends strained, she’s forced to make mature decisions. Cyber bullying affects the victims and everyone who surrounds them. What a waste: what path will Greenlee, her persecutor, and family take?
We have all seen the devastating and lasting effects upon children, teens, their families, and the community as a whole, due to bullying and cyber bullying. This book sheds light on the impact that the bullying act has not only on the victim but also on the families of the victim and the bully, teachers, communities, friends and the person acting as the bully. Greenlee’s strength, courage and determination to stand up and right this grievous wrong is encouraging and inspiring. Greenlee could be any girl, anywhere, in America. And Clay Monning, a star athlete, could be any parent’s great kid. Peer pressure, bad decisions with horrific consequences, changes everything for both of them. Good kids, turned bad. How? Social media.

Reviewed by Stephen Fisher for Readers’ Favorite

The Greenlee Project by Amanda thrasher is a brilliantly written story about a selected few students who are considered to be the B.P. (Beautiful People) who truly believe that it is they who run the high school that they attend in today’s electronic society. The story begins with Greenlee Granger, a fourteen-year-old girl who is going through a huge social dilemma at school. After her father drops her off at school, instead of going inside, she decides to take a long ride on a public bus. Time doesn’t seem to exist until she finally gets let off, God knows where, in a town 20 miles away. She finally gets back to reality and calls her father to pick her up.

From here the story unfolds as you get to know her circle of friends and social status, as well as the cute new boy that just transferred to her school. Clay joins the football team because he was the star quarterback where he came from. Now he has to prove himself and make the team. When it comes time for him to be initiated, he is allowed to decide the ritual, and sets out to make it a memorable one, so he proposes “The Greenlee Project.” The only people that can know about the initiation are his new team mates. That is until queen bee, Laurel, sets her sights on Clay as well.

Amanda Thrasher does a superb job of describing the intense situations that arise when the elite crowd’s attention is threatened by those that they feel are beneath them. Ms. Thrasher also delivers the pressures that the B.P. experience to maintain their status quo. All of her characters are well developed and, by the end of this powerful story, Amanda adds some unexpected surprises that really put a twist in the outcome. The Greenlee Project is an eye opening, powerfully written book that I highly recommend for teenagers, faculty, and parents. Well done!

Author Website Amanda M Thrasher

The Greenlee Project

Book Trailer

Life, Rachel Rueben, writer's life, Writing Process

When You’re The Killer!: A Revelation About Writer’s Block

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Image via Pixabay

 

In the last year I’ve been suffering from writers block and I couldn’t understand why?  I mean I could see the story clearly but I had trouble coming up with the right words.  Every scene was a struggle, which led to me abandoning the story (Miss Mary Mack) several times.  Then one day I was having a discussion with a friend who was having trouble dealing with her teenage daughter when she came to the realization that their problems were rooted in the fact that they were both so similar.  Now if that isn’t the ultimate form of irony then I don’t know what is?  However as my writer’s block continued, I read several articles on why authors write themselves into their work and reached a shocking conclusion: I was Miss Mary!!!

No, I don’t go around murdering people, (although those thoughts do pop up in my head from time to time) I took pieces of my life and sprinkled them throughout the story.  Miss Mary was in fact physically modeled after my first grade principal Miss Murray, who wore dark clothing that covered her body from head to toe.  She also was a disciplinarian which made her a terrifying figure in the first grade.  However she wasn’t evil, just tough.

I also had a fourth grade bus driver by the name of Miss Johnson who was sometimes called, Miss MaryShe didn’t really like driving a bus and insisted we all ride in silence.  Weird, huh?

Then there’s me, I’m not too fond of children, I mean don’t hate them, I just prefer not to be around them.  P.S. I come from a long line of women who were reluctant mothers.  So I was able to draw on that when it came time to summon the callousness required for a villain.  It was also then I realized that I was trying to make sense of my past.  And guess what?  Miss Mary is the perfect vehicle for that, I can run loose and do as much damage without really affecting anyone in the real world.  The big plus is that I can kill and not wind up in prison.  I guess this is what George R.R. Martin feels like every time he sits down at his computer.  LOL!

Okay, I’m Getting To The Point!

When your work hits too close to home, it can be difficult to navigate through the story.  If you have a real unresolved conflict in your own life, it may be near impossible to resolve the one in your story because you can’t imagine your characters finding peace.  You know, the apology that never came, the relationship that failed, or the never ending dysfunction of a family, can really damage your perception and almost make you blind to the obvious.  I know, I had this problem and the only way to get through it was to think my way logically through it.  I had to know what readers or in this case society expected from this book.  I had to dole out punishment and correct injustices.  That doesn’t always happen in real life.  I also had to step back and let my characters go their own way.  Once I did that, their world unfolded and things began making sense again.

A Final Thought

As with most things in life, writing isn’t about you.  Sure you can create worlds and characters but once you do so, they start to develop their own reality.  Try as you may, you are not of their world and vice versa.  Only a piece of you will live on in your work, but the rest of you gets to move on and make peace with the reality that is meant to be.

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

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A Time To Write

I wear dual hats, writer, author, and publisher. It’s not always easy, but I’ve learned and continue to acquire new knowledge in this ever-changing industry of publishing. When I write, I can’t wear my ‘work’ hat, it ruins creativity. And when I work, I can’t write. It’s not unusual for hundreds of manuscripts to end up in my inbox. If I choose to send them out for review, that will be the deciding factor if we take them on. I see a lot of pieces, and we have talented award-winning authors on our label, but I can honestly say few pieces are written as beautifully as 50 HOURS by Loree Lough, and that is the truth.

50 HOURS

FRANCO ALLESSI is a broken, lonely man who wants nothing more than to outrun the ghosts of his past. For years, he tries to numb the pain of his wife’s death with cheap beer and whiskey. When he’s convicted of drunk driving, the judge revokes his license for six months and orders him to serve fifty hours of community service. Franco chooses Savannah Falls Hospice for his community service, for no reason other than it’s walking distance from his dilapidated house trailer.

On his first day on the job, he meets AUBREY BREWER, a woman whose time on earth is quickly ticking to a stop. Their unusual connection teaches powerful, life-changing lessons about friendship, acceptance, and the importance of appreciating that precious treasure called life.

Now, the endorsements (we have too many to list) for this book speak for themselves; I get it, it deserves every one of them. Catherine Lanigan, Author of Romancing the Stone, The Jewel of the Nile, and over forty-five novels and non-fiction, said, “I defy anyone to start the beautifully written 50 Hours and to put it down or to go on with their own lives as they had before reading about the remarkable, emotional and insightful relationship between dying Aubrey and the lost Franco. As a recent widow myself, the strength, humor and respect between the main characters shot close to home, but delivered so much hope and love that even as I march forward to tomorrow, my perspective has altered—all to the positive. In her last days in this life, Aubrey finally lives out the dreams she’s been too browbeaten by her mother and ex-husband to accomplish. She can only do this with help from Franco, who risks imprisonment to see her wish come true. Emerson said, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.” Aubrey and Franco succeeded. Believe me when I say, THIS IS THE KIND OF BOOK THAT WINS PULITZER PRIZES. “

The main character, Aubrey, is ill, that silent killer, cancer. Cancer destroys or touches too many families in the world, let alone our country. My mom died of cancer, too young, but once diagnosed she didn’t last long. When I read the book 50 HOURS it was inevitable, I was reminded of what she went through and what we went through as a family. But I’ve always wondered what she was thinking, secretly, when she wasn’t trying to put our minds at ease.

Aubrey, a character of strength, hope, determination and sharp wit, dares you to take her journey with her and see and feel what she’s feeling through her eyes. But not in an emotional roller-coaster draining sort of way. She is the perfect definition of courage. Fearless at times, vulnerable at others, but always positive and selfless. She helps Franco, the recovering alcoholic serving time in the form of community service, who inadvertently helps her. Together, they’re the perfect team. Knowing what I know, about cancer, having experienced it with my family, it was touching to read it through Aubrey’s point of view. To take her walk with her, the walk. Knowing the diagnosis and how Aubrey really felt at times, was insightful. I think my mom, like many sufferers, think of those around them most. I was able to ‘see and feel’ things through Aubrey’s eyes.

It is undeniable that authors often bond with their characters while creating them; after all, it takes time and energy to develop fictional beings that a mass audience can relate to in the novels. When they tackle subjects that affect millions of people daily, be it illness, death, addiction, poverty, etc., it’s not unusual for authors to conduct extensive research to ensure the accuracy of the details that they write. Back stories, depth, facts, characteristics, and ultimately the feelings that bounce of the paper and touch people, emotions, must be believable. However, it is shocking when life unexpectantly imitates art. I was stunned, but can’t even begin to imagine what Loree must have felt, when I found out that the she, the author, was diagnosed with the illness that her character had while writing the novel.

The research that she was conducting to develop her character, Loree was suddenly applying to herself. Aubrey, the character terminally ill, and now the author, Loree Lough, found themselves in the same position. Healthy when commissioned to write; diagnosed while half-way through the novel. She was living out Aubrey’s nightmare. Surely it was impossible to divide the two emotionally at times. How did that happen and why? I can’t even begin to fathom it.

Multiple Myeloma, incurable bone/marrow cancer. I can barely say the words, and I couldn’t even begin to imagine completing the novel as beautifully as she did, knowing what all she had endured. Talk about a time to write. How did she do it?! A time to write. Writing from within; seamlessly, and beautifully as one with Aubrey at times.

It is no wonder that Aubrey leaps off the pages and into your heart. Loree’s heart and soul can be found in between the lines. This novel will touch people not just because of the terminal illness, but because of the life-lessons that Aubrey teaches Franco and Franco inadvertently teaches Aubrey. Inspiring hope in the midst of despair, reminding us of what is truly important in life. I honestly believe that this novel was meant to be written and meant to be written by Loree and shared. The screenplay had been stashed for years. Pulled out. Re-filed. Why now?

Loree Lough’s 50 HOURS is a poignant story that reminds us how precious life is, especially if our world has been turned upside down by cancer. But don’t be fooled: This novel will leave readers feeling hopeful, no matter how hard the dreaded disease has hit them. ~Jack Watts, award-winning author of 16 books, including “The Moon” series and Creating Trump Nation.

Loree has graciously discussed her treatments, some experimental, some traditional, and is willing to visit openly about her diagnosis, treatment, and the development of Aubrey (character), and this novel. She can be contacted via social media, her website or right here: contact@progressiverisingphoenix.com

A portion of Loree’s royalties from her 100’s of best-selling novels, go toward cancer research and other charitable organizations.

 

Amanda M. Thrasher

50 HOURS 

Loree Lough