Hot military heroes, the women who love them, and the devoted dogs that always have their backs. EXTREME HONOR is the first book in a high adrenaline contemporary suspense series from Piper J. Drake published by Forever Romance. Fans of Jill Shalvis’s Animal Attraction series and Cindy Gerard’s One Eyed Jacks, will love this brand new action packed romantic suspense series.
Synopsis: David Cruz is good at two things: war and training dogs. The ex-soldier’s toughest case is Atlas, a Belgian Malinois whose handler died in combat. Nobody at Hope’s Crossing kennel can break through the animal’s grief. That is, until dog whisperer Evelyn Jones walks into the facility . . . and into Atlas’s heart. David hates to admit that the curvy blonde’s mesmerizing effect isn’t limited to canines. But when Lyn’s work with Atlas puts her in danger, David will do anything to protect her. Lyn realizes that David’s own battle scars make him uniquely qualified for his job as a trainer. Tough as nails yet gentle when it counts, he’s gotten closer to Atlas than anyone else—and he’s willing to put his hard-wired suspicion aside to let her do the same. But someone desperate enough to kill doesn’t want Lyn working with Atlas. Now only teamwork, trust, and courage can save two troubled hearts and the dog who loves them both . . .
Genre: Romantic Suspense Release Date: January 26, 2016 Publisher: Grand Central Publishing- Forever
David Cruz studied the woman standing in the front waiting area with equal parts irritation and interest. The room had an open design to accommodate dozens of owners and their dogs comfortably with enough space to prevent tussles the humans might not be able to break up without a trainer’s help. Of course, the area was empty of other people and dogs at the moment and this little bit of trouble filled the room just fine on her own. Her neat dress suit had to have been tailored to a fit so exact, it might as well have been a military dress uniform. And she wore it as if she was ready for inspection, her posture perfect with her shoulders straight, her chin up, and her hands easy at her sides. If her thumbs lined up with the side seams on her skirt, he’d have wondered if a cadet had gotten lost from the nearby military academy. The severe grey fabric didn’t leach color from her face though, instead the contrast set off her peaches and cream complexion. Made him think of a dish of ice cream on a hot day. And even standing still, she radiated energy. Charisma. Like she could burst into motion at a moment’s notice and heaven help the man who got in her way. He had an urge to step right up and see if she could run him over. Not likely, but it’d be fun to let her give it a try. “Look, Miss…” “Jones. Evelyn Jones.” Her sharp tone cut across his attempt to address the current issue with any semblance of calm. “Any and all documentation you might need is right there in the folder I handed you. If you’ll verify it instead of wasting both of our time trying to send me away, I’ll be able to get to what I’ve been sent here to do instead of standing around engaging in a pissing contest.” Well, she’d come in ready for a fight. Head held high and standing as tall as she could, her hackles would’ve been raised if she’d been a dog. The mental image was entertaining, to be honest, especially since her blonde hair was pulled back in a no-nonsense ponytail combined with the stylish poofed up effect. No idea why women did that but hell, she looked good. And he did take a minute to appreciate her as she was: compact, curvy, and hot enough to catch the attention of every male on two legs walking the property. But her impact on the four-legged variety remained to be seen. He could do without her glaring attempt at intimidation though and he wondered whether he shouldn’t send her sweet ass right on back out the door. If she crossed her arms over her admittedly impressive chest or otherwise altered her body language to increase her aggressive stance, he would. If her attitude was enough to scratch his temper, the dog she was here to see would rip her to shreds. “Your credentials aren’t in question, Miss Jones.” He raised his hand to forestall another interruption. He’d had plenty of experience with her kind of sprint-out-the-gate, establish credibility immediately personality. It didn’t intimidate him one bit but he also wouldn’t be rushed. “As I was about to say, you could wait here and be run over by the incoming class of two-year-olds or you can come on in to the office area and have a cup of coffee while I make a few calls.” She blinked and her cheeks flushed. “I…of course. A cup of coffee would be appreciated.” Somehow, he doubted that considering the sour tone of her voice. It took some effort not to grin at her discomfort. “Glad you decided to come along. The two-year-olds aren’t a bad batch but their handlers are in some serious need of training. Go figure. ” The corner of her very kissable mouth quirked. “Isn’t it always the human side of the pair in need of the real training?” Now, they had some common ground after all. At least when it came to civilians. But if he wanted to be fair—and hell, who did?—Military dog handlers needed heavy training at the beginning too. Especially if they wanted to reach the level of excellence required of a special forces working team. He led her past the receiving desk and down a short hallway to a smaller area with chairs arranged for easy conversation. They had one of those little one cup coffee makers and she seemed fine fixing up her own mug. He preferred his coffee brewed in a real pot and none of those handy automated gadgets managed a strong enough brew. The whole host and good manners thing dispensed, he headed for his office. “If you’ll just wait here…” “It would save time if you showed me Atlas. I could introduce myself to him while you’re making your call.” He halted, his temper simmered back up to the surface. “With all due respect, Miss Jones, you’re not meeting Atlas until I’ve straightened out exactly what is going on here.” “It’s fairly straight forward. I’ve been brought in at the request of the Pentagon to work with the dog you refuse to introduce me to.” At the edge of his peripheral vision, her movement caught his attention. A slight raise of the chin. “It would save you time if you would take my suggestion before I make a call of my own.” He studied her for the few seconds it took for his irritation to cool enough for polite conversation again. All bravado and possibly some real bite behind her threat. It depended on exactly who at the Pentagon had contracted her. “You could save us even more time and leave now.” He turned to face her, calling her bluff. Lesser men backed down immediately under his glare. Took her a full five seconds to drop her eyes. “As far as the United States Air Force is concerned, Atlas was placed under the care of Hope’s Crossing Kennels with me as his official trainer. Currently, I’m willing to go through due diligence and consider a joint effort if your consulting credentials are confirmed. But if you truly did your homework on Atlas and this facility, you would know you either work with us or you are escorted off the property. This is not a general kennel where consultants are allowed to stroll in and work independently.” After all, Hope’s Crossing Kennels wasn’t just a training facility for domestic pets. And the trainers who lived here weren’t civilians.
Ultimate Courage True Heroes series Book #2
Elisa Hall is good at starting from scratch. Leaving an abusive relationship in her rearview, she packs everything she owns into the trunk of her car and heads for refuge with her friend in Hope’s Crossing, Pennsylvania. Alex Rojas returned from his second deployment as a Navy SEAL to find his condo empty and divorce papers on the breakfast table. Now he’s building a life for himself and his daughter at Hope’s Crossing kennels training younger dogs and handlers to search and rescue, struggling to adjust to life back in the States and as a single father. When Elisa shows up at the kennels, it’s obvious she’s running from something. Luckily, the dogs and trainers at Hope’s Crossing are more than capable of warding off trouble. And with every minute he spends with Elisa, Alex becomes even more and more determined to protect the woman he’s certain he won’t be able to live without…
About Piper J. Drake: Piper J. Drake (or “PJ”) began her writing career as “PJ Schnyder” writing sci-fi & paranormal romance and steampunk. She has recently received the FF&P PRISM award for her work as well as the NJRW Golden Leaf award and Parsec award. Now, PJ is exploring the complexity of romantic suspense, incorporating her interests in mixed martial arts and the military into her writing. Connect with Piper at: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google + | GoodReads| Youtube
Peggy Lampman will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner during the tour. Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations here. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ Interview: Crystal: Today I have the pleasure of hosting Peggy Lampman. Welcome Peggy! I'm so happy to have you here today. Would you share a little bit about yourself with us today? Peggy: One of my protagonists, Mallory, is a version of myself in that we both had similar upbringings in the Deep South and we both share a love of cooking, writing and photography. As well, we both had by-lines in a newspaper and then, dot com. Mallory is a more twisted, tortured and exaggerated version of myself, and––unlike Mallory––I’d had a couple of kids and a divorce under my belt at her age. Having owned a specialty food store, and worked in advertising and hiring in the grocery industry, I’ve gotten to know many Shelby’s (my other protagonist) in my life, as well. I was fortunate not to grow up in in an environment like Shelby’s, but I am familiar with the world where she was raised. Crystal:Do you have a favorite scene you would like to share with us? Peggy: I have a favorite scene in every chapter; some of them happy and some disturbing. I’ll share a quirky-odd, funny-sad scene that involves Shelby when she leaves her new (promising) job in Atlanta and returns to her armpit of a hometown for a weekend visit in Coryville. ### I wake up with a start. That smell. Lord, do not let it be what I’m sure it is. I glance at the clock: ten thirty; I’ve been sleeping an hour. I walk out of my bedroom, down the hall, and lo and behold, there sits Mama in Lester’s lap, a lit cig dangling between her fingers. When she sees me, her back stiffens and she stubs it out with quick jerks. The butt is stained with a plum-colored lipstick, matching the ticking on her plunging neckline, and in the dim light, the TV outlines them in a blue florescent glow. Smoke furs the room and bends around the cragged, fanged antlers of the jackalope, who’s presiding over the scene, eyes dancing, eager to see my reaction. “You promised me you weren’t smoking in the house....” “You heard the doctor. He said cigarettes weren’t causing her asthma.” “He said they could be a trigger.” “This is the first time in over a month I’ve smoked in my own home. Smoking outside hasn’t made a lick of difference to Miss Ann’s cough, one way or the other.” Grinding my teeth, I growl low and deep, like a mama bear protecting her cub. “I don’t know how you could be so selfish. You only think of yourself. I don’t give a rat’s ass what the doctor says, either your smokes or your hair products are hurting my baby. Your—only— grandchild.” I spit out those last words slow, like I was thrusting a knife deep into her heart. The jackalope’s antlers rattle, as if applauding my performance. She gives a sharp wounded cry like a crow’s caw, puts her face into her hands then turns into Lester’s shoulders. Static strands of red hair stand from her head like pins stuck in a cushion and Lester smooths them down. “Now, I don’t want you talking mean to your mama like that.” Rage swells my chest as my shoulders rise to my ears, fingers curling inwards, poised to jump at Mama, to claw out her freckles like a bobcat. I shake my hands then press them into my thighs, leaning over, trying to clear these crazy thoughts. One minute I’m in love with Clare, and the next I hate my own mother. Something is wrong with me. I’m not mad at Mama. She loves us and is doing the best she can taking care of Miss Ann so I can follow my dream, to carve us a better life. The jackalope snares me with his eyes, anticipating my next move, goading me on, urging me to attack her. I pull a chair from the card table, stabilize it against the wall, hop up, then pounce into the creature. Weaving my fingers between his antlers, and with every bit of strength I can muster, I pull...wiggle... pull. Ripping sounds of tearing wallpaper fill my ears...bolts heaving from drywall...Mama crying no, Shelby, no... a puff of plaster dust explodes from the wall blinding my vision....as I lose my balance...as I fall to the floor...gripping the vicious, tormenting jackalope. His antlers, like swords, puncture my palms, and my blood seeps and stains his gnarled, matted fur. I hurl him to the floor, stand, press my hands together and hold them over my head to stop the bleeding. Lifting my leg, I smash the jackalope with the heel of my foot, over and over and over, flattening his skull and crushing his eyes...until an antler cuts my foot...until Lester links his elbows under my arm pits, dragging me away. Miss Ann is standing in the doorway, which frames her as if she was a portrait of an angel. She is wearing a white cotton nightgown and curls circle her head in a halo of glistening gold. Her blue eye stares at me, crusted around the edges, yet wide, shining with silvery light. Looking down at the shattered jackalope, my throat tightens, and I am proud, amazed by my bravery; both of his evil eyes are missing. Miss Ann and I are rescued. That creature’s been done in for good. Crystal:Where did you come up with the idea for “Simmer and Smoke: A Southern Tale of Grit and Spice. Peggy: One December afternoon in 2010, I was visiting my ancestral graveyard in Stewartville, a back-woods, confederate flag-waving town in Alabama. As I watched a young woman and child wander down the road, I wondered how a young mother could escape a town of poverty, racism and crack houses. That evening I wrote the first page of “Simmer and Smoke”.
Crystal: What are you currently working on? Peggy: I’m currently working on a contract with Lake Union Publishing. They’ve presented my agent with an offer to buy “Simmer and Smoke”, as well as an advance for a second book to be completed within the year. Prior to this, I was working on a sequel, “Where There’s Smoke”, had finished the outline and first few chapters, but they (boo hoo!) may be out the door if Lake Union has other ideas. Crystal:Do you have any special routine that you follow when you are writing? Peggy: Any routine that can get me into a calm space, void of distraction. I much prefer writing in the morning, well caffeinated. I “stream” 500 words on day, the go back and file and shape them the next. I try to stick to this discipline but life often gets in the way. I always work from an outline. Crystal: Did you have to do a lot of research for this book or any other? If so do you have a fascinating fact that you have learned you would like to share with us? Peggy: I researched the book living my life. My husband and I have relatives that live in “colorful” communities. I have drawn tremendous inspiration from these folks that I’ve come to love, and appreciate their giving me license to draw intimately from their landscape. I’ve worn dozens of hats in my life, have lived in big cities and small towns, and have studied and befriended various types of people. To know, first-hand, the people and community of your book, is the best research for me.
Crystal:Who are some of your favorite authors that you like to read? Peggy:I gravitate towards literary fiction, particularly fiction set in the American South. Think authors like Sue Monk Kidd, Pat Conroy and Rebecca Wells. I also love Ann Patchett and Donna Tart. My favorite memoir is Patti Smith’s, “Just Kids” and I’m currently reading her book “Woolgathers”. I just finished Jonathan Franzen’s, “Purity”. It’s filled with psychotic twists and turns and I was intrigued with the quirky mother-daughter relationship. Daniel Woodrell’s work, particularly “Winter’s Bone” that was turned into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence, is quite inspiring. Ree’s character reminds me of Shelby in “Simmer and Smoke”.
Crystal: Is there a genre you haven't written that you would like to try? Peggy: No. I’m very comfortable writing high-concept woman’s fiction as it is the type of literature I enjoy reading, and I have so much personal life experience upon which to draw. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ BLURB: A single mother who dreams of becoming a chef. A food writer who just lost the love of her life. Two women discover what's worth fighting for in this deliciously rendered novel that illuminates the power of food, love, friendship and family on the human heart 1. ASSEMBLE INGREDIENTS: Shelby Preston--a young, single mother trapped in a hardscrabble life in rural Georgia--escapes her reality as she fantasizes herself a respected chef in a kitchen of gleaming stainless steel and pans shimmering with heat. Mallory Lakes--an Atlanta newspaper food writer--may lose her job, and searches for her muse in a shot glass of illusion. 2. SIMMER: Mallory secures her job by crafting a zealous doppelgänger to satisfy the expectations of an illusive cyber audience. This also mollifies the memories of her lover who recently bolted; no warning. Shelby persuades her mother to take care of her daughter so she can pursue her dream of going to chef school in Atlanta. She cooks them a special dinner said to bring good luck; Lord knows her family could use a pot of something good. 3. SMOKE: Chasing desires and ambitions, the women's lives unravel down a path beyond the kitchen, then weave together in an unsettling culinary landscape of organic farms and shadowy borders--some borders not meant to be crossed. As Mallory combats her demons with booze and pills, and Shelby battles the odds stacked against her for becoming a chef, the women discover what's really worth fighting for. GENRE: women's contemporary fiction Amazon Buy Link ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ EXCERPT: Excerpt Two: Mallory Memos from the edge, self-help hieroglyphics, throwaway lines galloping off paper, most of them unfinished. These are the words I should have said to Cooper the day he left, bade farewell, adios, arrivederci—however you say goodbye. Itchy, my dearest friend, is returning a platter and will ignore them, assuming they are recipe scribbles. But if these tourniquets had a voice, their banshee wail would rant, rage and scream, shaking the foundations of Atlanta. Dearest Cooper. What a splendid feast you made of me. A sprinkle of salt, a grind of pepper, you chewed me up then spit me out. Was I that abhorrent? Visceral, grisly, teeth-gnashing words; much better script. I write, post, then return to my cutting board. Chopping furiously, I collect, examine, and discard words much too ordinary to assuage my grief. Words...words...I need more words; what words can I write that will ease the pain of what you’ve done?
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ AUTHOR Bio and Links: Peggy Lampman was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree in communications, she moved to New York City, where she worked as a copywriter and photographer for Hill and Knowlton, a public relations firm. She moved back to Ann Arbor, her college town, and opened up a specialty foods store, The Back Alley Gourmet. After selling the business, she wrote under a weekly food byline in The Ann Arbor News and MLive. This is her first novel. Goodreads Link | Website | Blog
Follow the week long tour January 25th - 29th and enter to win! One winner will receive a new Kindle! Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. You may find a list of locations below. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~ Interview: Crystal: Today I have the pleasure of hosting Kerry Adrienne.Welcome Kerry! I'm so excited to have you here today. Would you share a little bit about yourself with us today? Kerry:Hi, I’m Kerry Adrienne. I’m a stay at home mom who homeschools my youngest daughter, and I have two daughters in college. I also have a houseful of pets—seven cats, a panther chameleon, a gecko, and a lionhead bunny. I have a fun little car—a Mini Cooper Convertible—and I spend a lot of time driving up and around the lake nearby, just listening to music and plotting. Crystal: What are you currently working on? Kerry:I’m on deadline for a shifter book for Carina Press.
Crystal: Where did you come up with the idea for for either your current release or your current WIP? Kerry:My new release, Storm Damaged, with Loose Id, came from my enjoyment of being at the beach. I’ve always loved mermaids so writing a book featuring them seemed like a fun idea. It’s really a mermaid-lite book—most of the book takes place on land. Crystal: Do you have a favorite snack that like to munch on while writing? If so would you mind sharing what it is with us? Kerry:I love to pop M&Ms while working, but obviously that isn’t ideal, so I don’t do it all the time. Crystal: Do you have a favorite scene you would like to share with us? Kerry:Here’s an excerpt! And if Chase was going to come into her shop, she’d take full advantage of it—absorb every detail of his sexy self to round out her fantasies. In her head, she’d written at least fifty romance novels with him starring as the hero. Steamy sexy romances, with her as the heroine. The Mermaid and the Millionaire, Shells in the Sand, Once Upon an Ocean… “Mari?” She jerked her head up. “Yeah?” Crap. She’d been busted while fantasizing again. Chase straightened the last suction cup in the box. “Well…” “You done there? Wanna sweep too?” Apparently, the man couldn’t resist. He had to help out, no matter if he was asked to or not. Mr. OCD Protector hot man diver. She stifled a smile. Hot. He shook his head and folded the box closed. “No need to sweep till after the storm. Where do you want this?” “I don’t care. Set it on that top shelf by the plates, I guess.” She realized she wasn’t being nice, but she couldn’t help herself. Chase’s news of the big bad was stressing her out. “Okay.” “I want to know what the news is. Spit it out.” Chase pushed the box onto the top shelf, then stuck his hands in his pockets and looked at the floor. She knew his face well enough to imagine his bright green eyes narrowing with whatever stress this bad news was causing. She remembered the panic during the accident. She studied his thick muscles and the tentacle tattoo that wound its way up from his wrist to his left bicep and then disappeared under his snug T-shirt. His other arm boasted some type of navy diver tattoo, faded and smudged. The one time he’d gripped her he’d almost lost his life. And he didn’t remember any of it. “Rent isn’t going up.” He stepped closer to the display case and picked up a sand dollar from the wooden bin on top. As he turned the white disk over, it broke in half, and dusty fragments spilled into the air and onto the counter. He winced. “I’m selling the bar and moving west. Leaving the island for good.” Mari’s stomach lurched and she steadied herself against the glass case, staring at the mess on the counter. Moving? “Why?” she asked, her voice a quarter-octave higher than normal. One of her main reasons for staying in the little coastal village was to spy on him. Erm, watch him. Ogle him. Pretend he loved her the way she loved him. “Why sell the bar? Why leave? I thought you loved it here.” Oh, no, buddy. You aren’t leaving me. I saved your ass and you are my “Plus One” from now on. “I gotta get out of this little town and away from the ocean.” He gripped the sand-dollar fragments. “Tired of storms and water and reliving bad memories.” “Your brother…” “My brother is dead.” “But wouldn’t he want you to stay?” Chase had loved his brother and had taken his death hard. Now he wanted to move. Well, that wouldn’t solve anything. Was it her business, though? Her mother had always said Mari lacked tact. Maybe she was right. Chase grunted but didn’t respond. “I mean, wouldn’t he want you to run the bar? It was his dream too. A beach bar, right on the sand.” Sweat dampened her palms and she wiped them against her jeans’ legs. She’d never been outspoken with Chase, but she couldn’t let him walk out of her life when he should be swimming alongside her. “Luke’s gone, Mari. And I’m moving to Kansas and buying a farm. Or possibly Montana. Hell, maybe I’ll buy a mine and become a miner if I have enough money. I don’t know exactly where I’ll go or what I’ll end up doing, but I do know it will be far, far away from the ocean. I don’t even want to be near a lake.” He dropped the remaining pieces of the sand dollar onto the counter and dusted off his hands. “Sorry about that.” He nodded at the mess. “Let me know what I owe you.” “You owe me more of an explanation.” Mari could feel her nostrils flaring, and her face was probably as pink as her T-shirt. But she needed Chase. Not his building for her store, but his presence. Crystal: When you are not busy writing wonderful stories to keep us lucky readers entertained, what do you like to do? Do you have a hobby? Kerry:I love to sew, and do most any kinds of crafts. I paint and draw, play guitar, and of course, love to read! Crystal: Do you have a favorite background noise you like to having going while you write (TV, Music, kids playing)? Kerry:I listen to music (but not always). Marilyn Manson, Green Day…
~*~*~*~*~*~*~ About STORM DAMAGED:
In another time and place, she’d be exactly the kind of woman he’d want to date. And more. If only… In a world where humans don’t know mermaids exist, Mari leaves her home in the ocean to escape her mother, her betrothed, and her tribe’s expectations in order to make a go of independence on land. Chase, former Navy diver and self-appointed curmudgeon-who-isn’t-worthy-of-love, lost his brother in a freak diving accident and now fears the ocean he once loved. When a hurricane threatens, they have to work together to save everything they've worked so hard to build. With Mari's betrothed on the rampage over a centuries-old vendetta, the storm isn't the worst thing they'll have to face.
Genre: Urban Fantasy Release Date: January 26, 2016 Publisher: Loose Id Print Length: 231 pages Format: Digital Digital ISBN: 978-1-68252-044-4 Purchase STORM DAMAGED: Amazon | LooseId | Kobo |ARe ~*~*~*~*~*~*~Read an Excerpt: Mari’s lower lip trembled and she rubbed her palms against her knees and looked back toward Inna. She was in trouble. Big trouble. Inna stood, unmoving, and staring at her. She reached to her throat, but words had dried on her tongue. She shook her head as tears sprang to her eyes. This couldn’t be happening. Not now. Not when she was finally getting Chase to relax. Not when she thought things were finally getting better. Not when she’d finally pushed her betrothal out of her mind, at least for the moment. Mari looked from Chase to Inna, then back to Chase. What to do? What to say? The only way this situation could be worse was if Inna saw everything… Oh gods, how long had he been watching? He’d kill them both. “He’s been watching.” Had she spoken aloud, or was her mind screaming? She blinked away the tears and wiped away the trails on her cheeks. It felt like her frightened heart had expanded and she couldn’t breathe. Inna was going to kill them. Chase jerked upright. “He couldn’t have seen anything inside the cart. It’s okay. He didn’t see anything.” The setting sun streamed across the park, casting long shadows of rides onto the empty beach like an invading army of giant insects. Inna’s thick shadow moved swiftly along the ground. One thing was for sure, Inna had seen enough to be pissed. He was headed directly for them. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~ About Kerry Adrienne:
Kerry loves history and spends large amounts of time wondering about people who lived and walked on Earth in the past. She’s a mom to three daughters, six cats, and various small animals. Her husband says she’s a marketer’s dream, as she often believes everything she hears—at least initially. Her shoe horde will attest to her fine shopping skills. In addition to writing, Kerry loves to sew (costumes and cosplay, especially), draw, paint, make chainmail, and play guitar. Her new love is her Mini Cooper Convertible, Sheldon, and they have already gone on many adventures. They travel to as many concerts as they can–especially Green Day and Marilyn Manson. You can visit her much-neglected costuming blog here: http://cloakandcostume.blogspot.com/ Maybe she’ll have time to update it soon. Repped by the fabulous Marisa Corvisiero with the Corvisiero Literary Agency. http://www.corvisieroagency.com/ Connect with Kerry: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon|Goodreads
GIVEAWAY:$10 Evernight Teen GC. Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations HERE.
The Emotional Meat-Grinder of Our Teenage Years
By Philip Hoy, Author of THE REVENGE ARTIST
When my students ask me what high school was like for me as a teenager, I think about my friends, the crazy fun we had, and the self-discoveries we made. I remember our fearlessness and the risks we took, all the stupid things we did, and all our humiliating mistakes. I recall the insecurities, the heartbreaks, the loneliness, the disappointments, and the regrets. And I turn to them with a lump in my throat, and the only thing I can manage to say is, “Well … we didn’t have cellphones.”
I know this is not the response they are looking for; but in avoiding a direct answer, I’ve said something truthful all the same: The emotional meat-grinder of our teen years will inevitably be, to paraphrase Dickens, the best and worst of times. Although many of the trials and tribulations of growing up may not have changed all that much since I was a teen, the speed at which they occur has.
For one thing (although it didn’t feel like it at the time), life moved at a much slower pace when I was a teen. If someone said they would pick you up from school, you waited and hoped they remembered. If they forgot to get you and you needed to call someone, you found a pay phone that was working and wasn’t being used. If you didn’t have change, you had to ask the operator to make a collect call and pray your baby sister didn’t answer the phone and refuse the charges. If you called a girl you liked and she had permission to use the phone, you still had to listen carefully for any telltale clicks to alert you that someone, somewhere, in your house or hers, wasn’t listening in on your conversation.
Before smartphones, if you did something to embarrass yourself—believe me—it eventually got around. Not within seconds like today, but by the end of the week for sure. And although bullying tended to be more of the face-to-face kind, you never wanted to underestimate the devastating power of good old-fashioned gossip or a well-placed lie. Back then, if you said something you regretted, you could always deny it later. Witnesses might contradict you, but at least that left room for some shadow of a doubt among the jury of your peers. If you say something you might regret today, and by “say” I mean text … you can never, ever take it back.
More and more of my students fail to distinguish the difference between these two actions: speaking and texting. “Do you talk to her?” I asked an emotionally distraught student the other day. “Yes, of course,” he assured me, “but lately she takes so long to return my texts.” It turns out they used to text a lot, but talk? Face to face? Not really. “Not even over the phone?” I asked. “C’mon, Mister…” he groaned, “texting’s just easier.”
In my day, breaking up over the telephone was considered gacho, low class…you know, not cool. Today, I imagine that’s been downgraded to breaking up by text. Who knows, maybe in the future someone will be able to show up in the form of a hologram in her soon-to-be ex-boyfriend’s bedroom to deliver the bad news “in person”: “But we can still be virtual-friends, can’t we?” he will ask. “Sorry,” the hologram will say, “but I just don’t have time for you.”
One of the challenges I found in writing a contemporary young adult novel was describing my characters’ use of technology in a way that was accurate, but not overly specific, especially when it came to cellphones. My greatest worry while working on the story, and especially while waiting to be published, was that there would be some drastic leap in the evolution of the cellphone and that by the time my book was released we’d all be using something else entirely to keep in constant contact with each other. This is not as paranoid as it might sound. Just think about how quickly you are able to date even recent films or television shows the moment a cell phone appears in someone’s hand. Luckily, no one has yet perfected a working model of the computer to brain interface (or CBI’s as they are referred to in that apocalyptic/dystopian story I’ve been working on), so I can breathe easy that, at least for now, THE REVENGE ARTIST correctly captures a day in the life of a typical teenager’s cellphone.
Hernandez is a high school junior who reads Shakespeare for fun, sews her own dresses, and keeps a sketch journal of her daily life. When Varsity quarterback Garvey Valenzuela breaks her heart, she sends him to the emergency room with a busted hand.
Add black magic to her resume...
Evelyn embarks on a dark journey of revenge when she discovers she has the power to make bad things happen by drawing them. Her emotional pain, isolation, and self-hatred lead her down a self- destructive path with dire consequences.
Evelyn Hernandez knew what it was to be invisible, but this was different, this was being ignored ... being avoided. She tried to tell herself it was just her imagination. How many mornings had she walked through the halls of this school feeling exposed and on display? Knowing the redness of her lips, the blunt cut of her bangs, the pleats on her floral print skirt, everything down to the dark hair on her arms was being criticized by a hundred judging eyes. She wondered why they bothered, because the truth was, no one really cared. But there it was: a glance, a turn, a change in volume, a lull in some conversation as she walked by.
In first period, it had been hard concentrating on her painting. Even in the sanctuary of Ms. Shipley's, it felt like she had been on display in the center of the room, like one of those nude
models, the ones Ms. Shipley said she had painted in college.
Second and third were even worse, and by the time she made it to Schwartz's, the tardy bell had rung and she entered the room a full minute late. She had been praying all morning that Garvey Valenzuela would at least have the decency to be absent today, but there he was, looking just as surprised to see her as everyone else. Too many sets of eyes stared at her in silence as she moved toward the front of the room and took her seat directly across from him at the table they shared. She immediately opened her binder against the edge of the table and slouched low enough to protect most of her face from his. There was obviously some kind of writing assignment on the board, but Evelyn couldn't focus to read it.
She had tried so hard not to think about this moment that she was completely unprepared. What should she do? Say something to him? Tell him how much he had hurt her? Never.
What did she expect him to do, anyway? Whisper an apology? Laugh it off like a joke she should have been able to take? Ignore her?
What she could never have prepared for was the open hostility she heard in his voice when he finally said to her, "I can't believe you even came to school today after what you did."
The contempt. That’s what did it. That's what it finally took to break his spell on her. She lowered her folder just enough to meet his eyes and let him see the hate she had there for him. He looked away. Determined to rip him out of her life, she pulled her sketchbook from her backpack, prepared to remove every page with a memory or picture of him on it. But when she opened it to the sketch of his hands, she stopped.
Never before had she considered destroying any of her drawings. They were memories, mere moments, yes, but more than that, they captured her life as she was living it. For better or for worse, this book represented all that she’d done. If she denied her mistakes,
wouldn't she be doomed to repeat them?
But as she stared at the hands on the page before her ... the hands she had allowed to touch her, their creases and lines, their scars, their prints, almost more real on the page that captured them ... she did something she had never done before. She turned her pencil
around and began to erase. Not too much, just a little, a few lines here and there, part of this shadow, the edge of that one. And then, leaning closer, the drape of her hair shielding her actions from prying eyes, she began to add to the drawing, altering and recreating it. She wanted to hurt him, punish him for what he’d done to her, and this was the only way she knew how.
Just as Evelyn completed her revision, the sound of Vanessa Galvan's voice from across the room brought her back to the moment. "Hey Garvey," she said, loud enough for everyone
in the class to hear, "throw this away for me, please."
A wadded up ball of paper hit Evelyn hard on the back of the head. She flinched, but didn't turn around.
"Do not throw things in this classroom!" snapped Mr. Schwartz from where he sat at his desk. More than likely he had not seen it hit Evelyn.
"Yeah, Vanessa!" Garvey said, also for everyone's benefit. "That's not the trash can."
"Close enough," Vanessa said, getting a few laughs.
Evelyn remained bent over her drawing, teeth clenched, refusing to give either of them the satisfaction of a response.
"I'll pick it up," Garvey sighed, playing the teacher's pet.
He got out of his seat and walked around the table to Evelyn's side. There, he bent over to pick up the ball of paper that had settled near her chair, saying with disgust, "There's too
much trash in here already."
She turned on him at that, tears of anger welling up in her eyes.
Now standing in Schwartz's usual place in front of the class, the center of attention, Garvey continued to entertain his audience. "And the quarterback takes the snap!" he said, backing away from Evelyn and imitating the movement with the paper as his football. "He falls back, finds his receiver, and there's the pass!" Lobbing the ball of paper high above his head, he jumped up, twisting in the air with hands open close to his chest to receive his own paper pass ... when somehow, he lost his balance and came crashing down on Schwartz's wooden podium and the frail table next to it.
Papers, books, pens, and pencils literally went flying as the podium spun and toppled, and the table was crushed beneath the weight of Garvey's body.
The class erupted into astonished laughter and applause, but a gradual hush came over the room as Garvey's cry of pain shifted from an embarrassed and genuine groan to hysterical screams of shock.
"Everyone in your seats!" shouted Schwartz as he maneuvered his way to the front of the room.
Garvey, struggling to sit up, had rolled onto his left side. His right arm was extended and supported at the wrist by his left hand. A brand new, freshly sharpened, yellow number-two
pencil had pierced the center of his right hand, stabbing clean through and out the other side. The eraser end stuck straight up in his palm and the sharpened point protruded from the back of his hand. An impressive trick, Evelyn thought, except as Garvey held out his hand, blood began to roll down the bottom half of the pencil, gather at the pointy end, and drip messily onto the floor. A small puddle of red was already darkening the carpet beside him.
Schwartz sprang into action as Garvey rolled back, fainting. "Frank! Go get security! Valerie! Call the office and tell them what happened and to call 911! Erick! Grab that roll of paper towels in the cabinet behind you!" He knelt down beside Garvey, telling him to hold still, and then he took the injured hand below the wrist and lifted it up over Garvey's head. His other hand he wrapped around Garvey's bicep and squeezed, pressing his fingers against the inside of the injured arm.
The class was mostly quiet after that, waiting for the paramedics to arrive. Phones were out, silently documenting the event, but Evelyn didn't need a photo; she had her own picture
... only she had not remembered drawing so much blood.
About the Author:
Philip Hoy is a high school English teacher by day and a short-story author, novelist, and poet by night. When he is not creating lesson plans or grading essays, he is writing. He lives in
Southern California with his wife Magdalena, also a teacher.