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Pearle, it’s as if she was meant to be!

Spider-Web-Scramble-a-Mischief-BookI think I may have told this story a hundred times, but it never gets old, and there’s always someone that hasn’t heard it. It revolves around one of my characters, a tiny beautiful fairy by the name of Pearle that lives in the mushroom patch, which of course, centers around my Mischief series and how she came into existence.

 

If you’re not familiar with my fairy series, the mischief series, it’s an early reader chapter book series, independent reading level second to fourth grade for both girls and boys. The characters and setting are timeless, purposely written that way, so that kids of all generations can enjoy the stories. There are currently three books, and I’m writing the fourth book right now. The main characters are Lilly, Boris, and Jack. They’re delightful, mischievous at times but in the nicest way, kind, and helpful. I wrote Mischief in the Mushroom Patch for my mom, and I credit her for changing my path from writer to author.

 

mischief in the mushroom patch by amanda m thrasherMy mom loved fairies. We lost her too soon, and when she was ill, I wrote her Mischief in the Mushroom Patch. The main character, Lilly, was inspired by a fairy that she had sitting by the bed that was given to her from her sister, my Aunt Nancy. I have Lilly sitting on my shelf to this day. My mom, Irene Yvonne Mulroy, was one of the most beautiful, funniest, people I have ever known. She was incredibly important to me, and not just because she was my mom. We were very close. When I wrote the story, she was unable to read the ending before she passed; I hadn’t written it. But I was able to sit with her, in her own bedroom, and tell her the conclusion.

 

It was then that she made me promise to finish the manuscript, send it out, and see what happened. When I lost my mom, it is safe to say I was absolutely devastated. My heart shattered that day. I couldn’t look at the manuscript, and so against my mom’s wishes, I put it away. A year later, almost to the date of the first anniversary of her death, I woke up in the middle of the night. I could have sworn I heard her voice. “It’s time.” That’s all I heard, but it was the manuscript that popped into my head. Needless to say, I pulled out that manuscript, reworked it, finished it, and sent it off. It was picked up and published, which brings me to beautiful little Pearle.

 

During one of my book signings at Barnes and Nobles, I spoke to a lady about my book. She purchased it, and as I was signing the copy, I asked her to share with me her thoughts after she’d read it. The lady, Beverly Hutton, took my card but little did I know that exchange would change the course of the series forever. I received an email from Beverly, which I still have, and in short, it stated the following.  “Amanda, I was wondering if I might make a suggestion. Could you possibly create a fairy character or write a book with a fairy that has a disability? My daughter, Jeni, would have loved this book, and she always asked me where are the fairies for me?”

 

a fairy match in the mushroom patch by amanda m thrasherI was stunned and flattered when I read the email, and several things ran through my mind. I emailed Beverly back and asked her if she’d give me a minute to think. I might be able to do that…but I need a minute to think – there were things to consider, and I needed time. 1) I was thrilled she’d read it and loved it (Mischief in the Mushroom Patch). 2) I didn’t know her daughter and didn’t want to be disrespectful to her or her family. 3)  This was my mom’s book, and I didn’t want to be disrespectful to my mom and the story I had written for her. Shortly after that, I wrote to Beverly back again. This time I introduced beautiful little Pearle. I sent her a sample chapter and said, “Meet beautiful little Pearle. Though she can not walk, she can fly with ease, and if you approve, I will continue. I created a chariot for Pearle instead of a wheelchair, and her personality is always pleasant. She doesn’t seem to realize she’s any different, and never complains. Everyone loves her, and she is a joy to be around.” Beverly wrote me back, and said, “I love her, and approve!”

 

The story continues. 🙂 I continued to write, finished the book, and invited Beverly to the book launch at Barnes and Noble. This was the first time I had met her in person, though we had exchanged emails, and talked on the phone. She purchased dozens of books that day, and being with my other publisher at the time, they were all hardcovers and quite expensive. As I signed each copy, I asked her why on earth she was purchasing so many books. Her response was heartbreaking and wonderful, all at the same time. “I’m donating them to the Scottish Rite Hospital,” she said. “Jeni had nearly fifty-four surgeries there before she passed.”  I was speechless for a minute, but found my voice and said, “I’m going with you.”

 

Needless to say, that’s where our friendship and work together really started. I went with Beverly to the Scottish Rite Hospital. My publisher-donated books, Barnes and Noble, donated books and gift cards, Build-a-Bear donated bears in wheelchairs, and clothes for the bears, and we took the books and gifts and spent all day with the children reading, and making fairy wings, arts and crafts. Our work didn’t stop there; Beverly raised funds, and we spent the weekend teaching writing workshops and donated books to the kids at the Texas Lion’s Camp in Kerrville. Why there? Because that was Jeni’s favorite summer camp. The kids were terrific; had never had an author visit the camp or participated in a writing workshop, and were incredibly creative! We also went to the children’s Pythian Home, and in addition to that, schools, and most recently I signed hundreds of books for a literacy program which she was a part of.

 

Jeni will forever live on through Pearle in the Mischief series. Some of the things that Pearle, Lilly, Boris, and Jack, get up to, Jeni would have or actually did. Spin a fairling green, was actually a spinning game that Jeni used to play in her wheelchair. Of course, now it has a ‘fairy’ name. Racing down the corridor or through the dormitory, well, Jeni would race down the hallway in her wheelchair, and when Lilly, Rosie, Boris, Jack, and Ivy, pile onto her chair, her friends would do that as well.

 

Beverly and I continue to work together, and I’ll always include Pearle in this series. But I can’t help but wonder if Pearle wasn’t just meant to be there the whole time…sometimes it seems as if she was always supposed to have been there, in the mushroom patch, with all of the little fairies, giggling and playing their precious fairy games. Fate? Maybe, I don’t know, but I do know that the Mischief series is a series that represents all kinds of beautiful kids, that just happen to be in a sweet fairy version.

 

Author Amanda M. Thrasher – amandamthrasher.com

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Writer’s All Have A Thing, What’s Yours?

Writer’s All Have A Thing, What’s Yours?

amanda-m-thrasherLike most writers, authors, I’ve been writing for years. But when I sit down to write a new piece, though I’ve evolved slightly over the years, my primary process has never changed. It’s kinda like my personal thing, my way of doing it, that kicks off the project and keeps me motivated and excited throughout the entire thing. It’s possible other writers use the same method, I don’t know, but it works for me.

So what is it? It starts with an idea, of course, but ends up with an entire book mapped out in my mind. Naturally, my head is often spinning, don’t get me wrong, I like it that way. This can lead to one sided conversations for those around me. Distractions during activities that I’m involved in, being there in person but not really being there, and never being as involved as I should in group projects since my mind wanders to engage in the story that I’m writing. (Certain this isn’t always easy for those around me, but don’t worry, upon release of the work all returns to normal).

Preferring to have a complete understanding of my entire storyline, the reason things will happen the way that they will, my characters, a lovely twist, and theories on ways that I could pull it all together, my mind is racing all of the time before an actual word is written. Personally, I like to visualize each scene as I write, hoping to recreate in words the things that I see in my mind. If I do this correctly, the words paint a visual picture for my audience.

For me, not all writers, this can be a slow draining process, especially when the topic is a controversial or brutal one such as bullying, cyberbullying or date rape. Each chapter can be a depleting energy experience. And if I’m not mistaken, it’s because authors want their characters to be so life life-like, that it can actually feel as if they’re experiencing some of the things that they’re writing about for their readers.

Trying to compensate for this slow process of mine, I try to write relatively clean. The results, for me, tend to be less time consuming regarding actual clean up of the final manuscript. Since each chapter can be exhausting, mentally, I’ll ensure it’s a decent chapter before moving on. By the time the manuscript is complete and reworks begin, the rewrite process isn’t as bad as dealing with raw work.

I’ve been working on my new YA, BITTER BETRAYAL, since the middle of 2016. It’s almost done; clean up, and then off to the editors (I use two editors, content and copy line). The topic is controversial but incredibly important. Each time I sit down to write the material has flowed, this is a good thing, but the nature of the topic is controversial, important and difficult to discuss. That is the reason I believe it takes me a tad longer to write these pieces. After a few chapters, a mental break is required. It’s the emotional side that’s exhausting. Characters that are so life-like they could go be anyone’s son or daughter, and that’s truly heartbreaking.

I’m excited about the release of my new piece. It’s important to me to get the word out in a delicate manner for young impressionable teens. But it’s imperative that the message is strong, and I hope that the images expressed through words that I’ve written deliver not only the entertainment factor but more importantly the message I’d hoped to share. Below is an excerpt from my new novel. What’s your ‘thing?’

UNEDITED EXCERPT:

BITTER BETRAYAL Copyright © 2017 Amanda M. Thrasher

ISBN – 978-1-946329-18-9 & ISBN 978-1-946329-19-6 Tentative release April 2017.

Chapter 1

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?”

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 there. Payton hadn’t heard a single word the kid standing in front of the class nervously speaking had said, as her fingers frantically tapped away on her phone. Looking back, what was she thinking?!?!

Payton – Cover for me

Aubrey- Seriously?

Payton- Problem?

Aubrey- Yah

Payton- Really? J

Aubrey – Nah

Payton- K

Payton – G4I

Aubrey – 182

Payton – U don’t hate me J Luv u

Five, four, three, two, and the bell finally rang. Payton shot out the door. Aubrey, her best friend since 6th grade, took her time and shoved the books she’d left behind in her 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 kids, 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 passed him. No way was she making eye contact with him; questions about her brother and his playing time on the field at college would stall her.

“Whoa girl, where’s the fire?”

Coach grabbed her arm as she tried to rush past him, 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 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.

“What took you so long?” he said.

Payton’s love of her life, well at least to a sixteen, nearly seventeen, year-old love struck teen. One look at his face with that smile and she melted. It was bad enough they attended different schools, but him a senior, narrowing down his college options meant she’d be stuck there without him. The thought of it made her cringe. She obsessed about him leaving on a daily basis, 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 join him. She grinned. So freaking hot! He always looked that way to her, and all she wanted to do was wrap her arms around him and kiss that face of his! Her grin turned into a girlish giggle.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

“Nothing.”

“Whatever!” A cute smirk crossed his face. “Something.”

She grabbed his face in her hands, laughed out loud, and kissed him before stepping aside to hop up next to him on the tailgate, but Reece playfully pulled her back toward him instead. Standing 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, at least to her.

“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 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 smirk that crossed 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.

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

The long cotton skirt she’d chosen to wear that day wrapped around her legs as she swung them back and forth on the tailgate. 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.

UNEDITED EXCERPT:

BITTER BETRAYAL Copyright © 2017 Amanda M. Thrasher

ISBN – 978-1-946329-18-9 & ISBN 978-1-946329-19-6 Tentative release April, 2017.

Amanda M Thrasher

 

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What You Didn’t Know About Karen Vaughan!

I can honestly say that I meet the most interesting people; it comes with the territory, being an author. Karen Vaughan is a multi-talented woman. Author, stand-up comedian, blog talk radio host, wife, mother, blogger, to name a few of the incredible tasks she manages to complete on a daily basis.

Author Karen VaughanKaren lives in Peterborough Ontario, Canada, writes a great mystery series, multiple blogs, and her Facebook updates often make people smile. She loves music and enjoys time with her friends, family, and her cat. She says her sense of humor is warped and sarcastic, but no one seems to mind. Fortunate to have been interviewed by her on her talk show, I asked if I could interview her for my blog. Graciously she accepted. Here’s my interview with Karen, enjoy!

Amanda: I love people, I do. But I’m more of an observer than a participant in large groups or many group activities. Observing tells you a lot about people. You’re a comedian, stand-up comic, do you prefer to get your material by being an observer of others or do you get stuck in and participate in the daily chaos of group events or activities in your daily life?

Answer – Karen: I get my ideas as a comic from things I see on social media or experiences in my own life. I guess I would get ideas from pretty much every where. In groups we toss around plot ideas and dare each other to think way out of the box. I am so way out of the box I forget where I put it. Jamaica Dead a Laura & Gerry Mystery

Amanda: When I start a new project I often know the entire story-line before I start (though inevitably it will change a long the way) map it out. Do you or do you just start to write and figure out the entire book as you go?

Karen: I am what is referred to as a pantser. I flesh it out as I go and my characters are the ones driving the bus most of the time. I am allowed to put  my 2 cents worth in occasionally. I have a beginning point of a story but seldom an end until I get close to it.

Amanda: Have you ever written a scene or character that is directly linked to someone or an event that you regret disclosing?

Karen: No not really as the large part of my audience does not know the origin of the person the character it’s based on.  I had a recent situation where I was going to write about someone who had really let me down and hurt me. I think I have modified my thinking that I should paint her as evil as I really wanted to.

Amanda: If you do not write a scene correctly, does it haunt you or can you let it go and move on?

Karen: No I go and fix it so it doesn’t bother me as much and then move on.

Amanda: Writing and working from home, requires a tremendous amount of discipline. How do you balance your time?

Karen: I try to write whenever possible but I try to balance time family and friends with my “job” which also includes reviews, cross-promotion of other authors, blogging and self promotion. I will tell my husband when I want a block of time just for that alone and he is good about it.

Amanda: Do you ever doubt your skills, and if so why?

Karen: Doesn’t any writer? Yes I do, so I take a vacation from the writing for a week. Clear my head and go back to it. There are days when I wonder why I quit my day job for this.

Amanda: Who do you believe is your biggest critic?

Karen: Me. Sometimes my hubby will say that’s not as good as some of your other stories but encourages me to go on and finish it. He is a major critic on love scenes though. I wrote a very steamy scene for DEAD COMIC STANDING. He wanted it toned down to the point of why bother writing it but I took the really hot stuff out to satisfy him and myself so I wouldn’t feel like I had given in to him totally.

Amanda: Of all the things in the world as a writer/author, what would you like to accomplish the most?

Karen: It would be fun to hit a best seller list. However, that said my biggest thrill is a good review where I made some one laugh through my writing or my comedy act.

Amanda: Have you written the piece, as an author, that you knew in your heart was the one that should the world that your work has worth? (This has nothing to do with monetary sales; it’s a personal thing, likely one that book lovers and writers will understand). 

Karen: My memoirs about dealing with mental Health/illness and how I can help others. I have yet to write the greatest novel of all time either; still to come I suppose.

Amanda: Do you have secret goals (not secret anymore I suppose if you share them) 🙂 that you rarely discuss with others?

Karen: I’d love to attend a writer’s conference and meet other writers. Do a book tour maybe?  It’s all pretty retro. Do people, especially indie authors get to do that? I am a starving artist and I never have money we don’t need for that. I would do it in a minute if I won a huge lottery.  I have done local readings and signings but nothing huge. These are bucket list items.

Amanda: Bonus type question: Of all the things in the world as an author, what is the one thing that you would you like to be remembered for? What is the single most important thing to you?

Karen: That is easy. If I can make someone who reads my work laugh or feel happy, I figure I am doing my job.

Karen’s work is available where books are sold including Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com or simply click on the links below.

LEFT FOR DEAD 

Jamaica Dead

 Excerpt from LEFT FOR DEAD

Chapter 1

Left for Dead A Laura & Gerry Mystery
Left for Dead
A Laura & Gerry Mystery

I had been visiting Elaine’s cottage near Bancroft. We’re on a walk at the Eagles Nest which sits high over the north end of the town. The view was spectacular and today it did not disappoint.

I am seven and half months pregnant and feeling pretty energetic. Yes, I said pregnant. It must’ve happened in Jamaica last fall. Gerry and I were not disappointed whatsoever as we wanted to try for a family before was too late for either of us.

We had had a mild winter by Ontario standards. Elaine suggested a walk while I could still move before the third trimester waddle set in. I readily agreed as exercise would make labor easier and I wouldn’t gain too much baby weight.

Before I go on my name is Laura Fitz. I am a member of the CSI team for the Metropolitan Toronto police service and the Province of Ontario. Due to my impending parenthood. I have taken a leave of absence from actively visiting crime scenes. My work is concentrated in the lab these days. Testing DNA samples and working ballistics. If you watch any of those crime scene shows on TV. My work is not as glamorous as it seems. Some days are downright tedious, but basically I love what I do. I got into crime scene investigation after finding so many dead bodies in my spare time, I figured I may as well get paid for it. Some people attract animals, I seem to attract dead people. My husband Gerry still thinks my sleuthing is a bit over the top. I don’t ask for this stuff to happen; it just sort of does. I made him a promise last year while we’re on vacation in Jamaica not to get involved in anything that didn’t include just having fun. I tried really hard but the situations we encountered found us. One of the couples we were traveling with got involved with some shady characters on the island. Once again that lead to murder and mayhem, of which I got stuck in the middle.

Gerry and I reside in North York, a borough of Toronto. There we manage a high rise building which means dealing with collecting rent and dealing with bitchy tenants. The tenants’ association president, one Stella Stadylmeyer tops my list of the most annoying residents. On this vacation weekend. I was glad to get away from the duties of my secondary job. Stella’s been chasing me around wanted to feel my belly and see if the baby will kick. She also wants to throw me a baby shower. This is something I dread. I keep telling her is not necessary as my sisters are arranging something (I can only hope my sisters are planning something to get me out of this). My biggest fear is Stella will call me down to the laundry room an alleged problem and spring a shower on me.

Our peaceful walk along the bluffs was pierced by yelling from below

“Anyone up there? I need help!”

Elaine yelled down. “We’re here, are you hurt?”

“No but I’ve found something and it’s really gross.

“What is it?” I yelled down

“It looks like a man and he’s dead.”

I shuddered. Oh my God, not another one. I thought to myself. “Stay there. I’m calling 911. What’s your name? My name is Laura and my friend Elaine is here with me.”

“Sherry” The girl said.

I called 9-1-1, as promised, and minutes later we heard sirens.

“That didn’t take long.” Elaine said.

“Must be the joys of living in a small town, Elaine. There is an OPP station not too far from here and I guess that’s where the 911 offices are as well.”

We waited for the EMTs and the police to come up the trail. We were sitting in plain sight, so they wouldn’t miss us.

“Are you the ones who called us about the dead guy?”

I spoke up. “Yes, that was me, but the person down below found him.”

Elaine added. She seemed pretty shaken up. You might want to check her out too.”

One of the EMTs thanked us and told us the meat wagon was on its way. Everyone in the medical field referred to the coroner’s van as the meat wagon. The OPP’s crime investigation team arrived to take pictures and process the scene. I knew enough to stay away while they worked, even though I found it morbidly fascinating. I was on vacation. After all, I didn’t really need to get involved. However, like it or not, I was by the sheer bad luck of being in the vicinity of the scene.

Soon after the OPP detective arrived to question us and the witness.

“We never really saw anything officer I mean, detective. You’ll want to talk to Sherry about that.” I was being honest and forthright with him. To this day, even though I work with law-enforcement agents all the time, some of them still scare the bejesus out of me. This guy was no exception. He was tall and built like a brick outhouse. He had strong features and looked like he could chase the devil out of hell with one scathing look.

“Ma’am?” He said to me.

“Yes.” I answered.

“Aren’t you a little far along to be roaming around up here?”

My hormonal pregozilla wanted to tell him that I was practising for the test matter for expectant mothers when Elaine shot me a look that said “behave”, so I toned it down to. “I was just getting my required amount of exercise.”

“Can’t you do then a safer place than this?”

“Probably but what does that have to do with the crime scene?”

“How do you know it’s a crime scene? That guy could’ve been drunk and just fallen off the cliff in a stupor”

“I’m a CSI myself down in Toronto. If we are called inwe assume it’s a crime scene. I’m sorry if I jumped the gun in my assumption, it is just a figure speech and you could be right.” I handed him my card with my credentials on it and gave him my cell phone number in case he had questions.

My interrogator didn’t say much. He just stood there taking more notes. I figure he had the social skills of a mortician suffering burnout. To him, I’m just another set of scribbles in a notebook and he just seemed to be passing the time of day until the CSIs brought the body out after they examined John Doe at the scene. The meat wagon arrived just trying to do the transfer. I sat there and wondered what exactly happened to the guy. Was it as simple as an unfortunate accident or did somebody help him over the edge?

Elaine looked at me and smiled. “Oops! You did again Laura!”

“Did what?” I asked innocently.

“Well you know you’re a corpse magnet.”

The detective turned around. “She’s a what?”

Elaine replied. “She’s a corpse magnet. Laura here has the dumb luck of finding a dead body wherever she goes. She can’t help it. She doesn’t find them; dead people find her.”

The detective and the officers around him looked at both of us like were quite insane.

I was sure I was turning red out of embarrassment and I promised myself I would have a talk with Elaine about revealing too much information when it wasn’t needed. I hated my uncanny ability to sniff out the dead ones, and I really wished it would go away. Gerry and I would have more peace if it did. I gave Elaine a little kick to remind her to shut up, but it was too late. The good detective wanted to know about my penchant for finding dead people.

“Are you psychic?” He asked me.

My only reply was. “Some people go geocaching. I find dead people!”

Copyright © 2016 Amanda M. Thrasher

Amanda M. Thrasher
 

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Pearle, Joy to Create

Mischief in the Mushroom PatchI will never forget the day I received correspondence from a woman I’d met during a book signing, that email forever changed my Mischief Series. The lady, Beverly Hutton, had been in Barnes and Noble and purchased Mischief in the Mushroom Patch. She spent a few minutes visiting with me and left. I remember specifically asking her if she’d let me know what she thought about my book. It’s important to every author, to know what their audience thinks about their work, and I gave her my card. She remembered, and her email came weeks later and it included a suggestion.   beverlysemail

Her words had such a profound affect on me, that to this day I refer back to it from time to time. She graciously complemented my work, “It is a wonderful book, beautifully written. It is written so young people can understand but is not condescending.  The lesson interwoven throughout the story us subtle but at the same time strong.” She went on to say, “Could I make a suggestion for your next fairy book? Include a young fairy that is born with a handicap. My daughter was in a wheelchair and she was always asking where were the books for her?”

a fairy match in the mushroom patchAfter reading the mail, as you can imagine, my heart sank at Beverly’s loss. But I was pleased that she complimented my work, and I was inspired by the thought that Jeni would have liked the characters that I had created as well. I thought about Beverly’s suggestion for a long time. Mischief in the Mushroom Patch was written for my mom, who I loved dearly, and had lost to a terrible illness. Did I dare touch my mom’s book, and could I honor another woman’s daughter. People I’d never met? Still I couldn’t get Beverly’s email off my mind. I thought if I were careful and respectful, I could do this, and set about creating beautiful little Pearle.

I contacted Beverly back. This time, included in the email were two sample chapters of A Fairy Match in the Mushroom Patch, book two in the series. I said, “Meet beautiful little Pearle. Though she can not walk, she can fly with ease. If you approve, I will continue.”

I carefully wove Pearle into the story, the existing mushroom patch. No official declaration that she was there, it worked. Instead of a wheelchair, I placed her in a chariot. It looked like a chair, but in the story all referred to it as Pearle’s chariot. She didn’t seem to notice she was any different, which delighted Beverly. Pearle constantly has a lovely spirit. Full of life and love. Sweet and kind. Gentle and thoughtful. And she always manages to be helpful and never once does this little fairy ever complain.   IMG_0475

After Beverly had reviewed the sample chapters, two of them, she loved Pearle as well. I finished the book and officially met Beverly for the first time at Barnes and Noble, the launch of A Fairy Match in the Mushroom Patch. At that time, she purchased several books, and I couldn’t help but ask why. She informed me that Jeni had multiple surgeries at Scottish Rite hospital before she passed and that she was going to donate the books to the children. I ended up going with her, as did my editor and mentor, Anne Dunigan. Between all of us, we took bears in wheelchairs from “Build a Bear,” and books from my publisher at that time, Barnes and Noble, and Beverly’s donations from multiple organizations. We also went to Jeni’s favorite camp, Texas Lions Camp, Texas Pythian Home, and visited with other children as well. All in the name of little fairy named Pearle, inspired by Jeni.

Amanda M. Thrasher and Beverly Hutton at Barnes and Noble.
Amanda M. Thrasher and Beverly Hutton at Barnes and Noble.

Since then Spider Web Scramble has been released. It took longer than I planned due to other projects that unfortunately I had no control of, but I’m glad it’s finished. I’ve already started four and do not plan for it to take nearly as long. Pearle has a large role in this magical book, Spider Web Scramble. I realized while writing it, her story, creating her, is incredibly unique. Her character, traits, the things I love about her the most, are qualities and things that I believe everyone can learn something from. She inspires all to work together, how? Because she brings out the best in those around her, fairies or not. She encourages others, and always sees the best in things or co-fairlings, as the case may be. Her unwillingness to be selfish is the at the very heart of every lesson the elders in the mushroom patch teach the others. I couldn’t ask for an easier character to write. She’s so sweet in every way, and I can’t imagine my Mischief Series without her. She is a permanent character and will forever remain a part.

Spider Web Scramble Amanda M. Thrasher
Spider Web Scramble

I stay in contact with Beverly, and there was supposed to be a special piece about the creation of Pearle in this book, Spider Web Scramble. It didn’t make the deadline. But I’ll have it added. I think her story is beautiful and is worth telling. Book 2, A Fairy Match in the Mushroom Patch is dedicated to a girl I never knew, Jeni. I think she would have been pleased with Pearle’s growth, and the lessons she continues to teach us. I know I will never forget the girl I never knew, and her mom, Beverly, holds a special place in my heart as well. I hope when she reads my books she can giggle at times, smile at others, and know in her heart that Jeni would have likely approved.

Jeni was only supposed to live a few years, but Beverly was blessed with her for thirty. During that time, Jeni had happy days and struggles. She had many surgeries, but also enjoyed the life that she had. The camp and the hospital among other places we visited, were all attended by Jeni. Texas Lions Camp was her favorite.

When you write a story, you never who you’re going to meet, and what amazing things you can do.

Copyright © 2016 Amanda M. Thrasher

Amanda M. Thrasher

All work available from author site, the Publisher, Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com and select stores.
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CDC Says 4,400 Teen Suicides Per Year – Bullying a Factor? Yes!

amanda m thrasherOctober marks National Bullying Prevention Month. Many organizations join STOMP Out Bullying™.

STOMP Out Bullying™ encourages communities to work together to stop bullying and cyberbullying by increasing awareness of the impact of bullying. It’s a great goal. STOMP Out Bullying
Social media has desensitized many of our kids to certain acts of bullying that occur. Often behavior once considered unacceptable has slipped into the realm of acceptable. Outrageous name-calling or verbal onslaughts for the sake of humor is quite the trend, and verbal attacks causing harm can inflict damage in less than ten words. Reputations ruined. Individuals isolated. Simplest things can be used as a weapon, phones, tablets, and more. Tween and teen language, more like slang bombardments, I’m sure we all find quite disturbing. “Drink bleach.” “Go die.” “No one likes you!” Worse, “Kill yourself.” And when questioned or disciplined the common answer is the same, “I was just kidding.” Alternatively, “I didn’t mean it!” But unfortunately we have tweens and teens that take these words literally. Popular videos, produced by teens, have included kids luring innocent victims to remote locations to beat them with bricks, bats, or shovels for no other reason than to post the incident on social sites. Why? Hoping the post will go viral.

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. As a parent, this is shocking to me. Over bullying. Terrible.

the greenlee projectDue to the overwhelming kids affected by bullying and cyber bullying, I was inspired to write The Greenlee Project. It is a cyberbullying book specifically for tweens and teens it demonstrates the effect of using social media in a negative way. How it affects the victim, family, friends, communities, and even the one(s) that are sending the damaging texts. So-called good kids, unexpectedly, become the so-called bad kids. How? Easy. Once touch of a button. Send! Kids can’t retrieve those damaging text messages.

During my research for The Greenlee Project, I observed teens, sat in football games, cafeterias, libraries, and interviewed many different types of people. I have teens of my own and my house is often full of kids. But I wasn’t prepared for the things I heard or found out about during my research, and we have great kids in our area. Things such as apps that parents can’t trace, the language and terminology that kids use with each other, secret groups, to name a few. Vicious onslaught of texts and postings when kids get mad or worse, sexual sites of kids barely in their teens. We all know that bullying has existed for years, but today it’s a different world. The exposure, due to social media, has the ability to put the victim on a public platform delivering the maximum amount of damage within seconds. What’s the answer? Clearly we can’t take away nor do I suggest taking away phones, tablets etc., I believe constant communication and teaching our kids not to be fearful of speaking out against the kids that are inflicting harm with their texts. Yes parents are vigilant, I get that, but if you aren’t aware of the app in the first place, you can’t keep an eye on it. I think our kids are too young for some of this technology. It doesn’t change they fact they have it. If you’re looking for a book that will assist with this message, read The Greenlee Project it won a The Mom’s Choice Awards® Please let me know your thoughts, we’ll visit.

If you’re looking for a great bullying book for pre-school and elementary kids, include The-Greenlee-Project-amanda-m-thrasherShelby the Cat by award-winning author Don W. Winn. Shelby loves to read and tell stories. He makes friends with birds, mice, and even dogs. This makes the alley cats look bad, so they try to force Shelby to be more like them. Shelby refuses. He knows who he is and won’t let anyone pressure him to be different. This is a great book to start conversations about dealing with bullying and peer pressure. The book includes questions at the end of the story to give parents a jumping-off point for starting discussions with their children. I interviewed Don specifically for Bullying Prevention Month. Take a peek.

1) Bullying is a serious issue that kids have dealt with for years; however, technology has magnified the intensity of the situation due to the sharing and spreading of information and terrible threats. We can’t take phones, laptops, and electronics away from kids. What do you propose we do?

shelby the catDon
Parents and concerned educators can strive to help young people understand the responsible use of technology. All of us, at any age, need to be judicious about how much information we put out on the web. We also need to be aware that everyone has cameras with them at all times, and remember that a sizable segment of the population does not respect personal boundaries when using them.
It’s also important to teach kids how vulnerable their own personal reputations can be, and why that matters. In years past, a person’s ethics and standards were discerned by observing their conduct. With advances in technology and social media, anyone can say anything, accuse anyone of anything, exaggerate anything, and Photoshop or fabricate anything they like against another individual. Sadly there’s often very little recourse against a targeted cyber-bullying campaign, other than relying on the fact that real friends, family, and teachers will know who you really are based on their genuine experiences with you, and that in time, the truth of the matter will come out.

Amanda
2) As children, we both endured some bullying, and most kids experience verbal or physical bullying at some point during their childhood. What did you do to overcome your bullies or did you?
Don
My family life was comprised of a hardworking dad who was unfortunately away from home much of the time, and a mom who struggled with mental illness. Home was not a place of proactivity in teaching coping skills. Therefore when I encountered bullying, especially because of my difficulty reading and spelling due to my dyslexia, I was unprepared, way out of my depth, and on my own. Some of those early experiences were quite traumatic. This is one of the reasons I seek to help parents to have conversations with their kids about potential problems before they encounter these situations. Kids who are well prepared can cope more effectively.
Amanda
3) Children relate to words and find comfort in stories. We are fortunate that we can share our experiences through our words. Did you create your character Shelby because of your personal experiences or to prevent children from getting into bullying-type situations?
Don
I wanted kids to see that people (and cats too, I suppose) who know what’s important to them, who have principles they believe in, and who believe in themselves are able to withstand attacks by bullies. When we make sacrifices to share with others, do acts of advocacy, behave honestly, resist the lure of instant gratification or peer pressure, we must also remember the purpose of those sacrifices, or the pressure to lower our standards can overwhelm us.
Amanda
4) You’re accomplishing some amazing work with your series, Sir Kaye 1 & 2, (reluctant readers), but also with Shelby the Cat, and your anti-bullying message for younger readers. With October being Bullying Awareness month, are you inspired to write another Shelby the Cat message? Maybe incorporate a story with a dyslexic message for your reluctant readers as well?
Don
Shelby’s character is a good stand-alone foundation for younger readers to begin to understand what it’s like to successfully stand up to bullies. I am continuing to go back to the message that we can stand up to bullies in the Sir Kaye series for middle readers. Throughout the stories and adventures, the protagonists in those books also face lots of bullying, scare tactics, and moments where they have to actively decide whether they’re going to do the right thing or not. Reggie, one of the young boys in the series, struggles with dyslexia, reading, and writing, but also discovers his strengths and sees that, though challenged at times, he is a meaningful part of the group. He finds the acceptance he needs and feels good about his contributions to the adventures and solutions to problems the group faces.
Amanda
5) If you could give any advice to a bully victim, what would it be?
Don
We all crave love and acceptance from our peers and family. The fact that you have been targeted does not mean you are not loveable or acceptable. But having been targeted, one of the best ways you can respond is to love and accept yourself, even if at the moment, you may feel like an outlier. The more comfortable and secure we are with who we are deep down inside, imperfections and all, the more resilient we can be when under attack. Keep sticking to your own code of behavior, and eventually you will find companionship and acceptance among others who value similar ethics and beliefs.
Amanda
6) If you could give any advice to a bully, what would it be?
Don
Be curious about why someone who looks, acts, or believes differently from you, angers you or makes you want to do hurtful things. Is it possible that there’s a part of you that knows that choices you are making are not true to who you really are inside? Could it be possible that in the search for acceptance and belonging, you are joining in group activities that hurt others? Believe in the possibility that you can become part of a group who accepts you without having to attack those different from you.
Amanda
7) If you could sum up your feelings about bullying as a whole in one word, what word would you choose?
Destructive.
Don
If you could sum up your feelings for the bullied victim(s) after their incidents, what word it be? Compassion.

Amazon Links:mom's-choice-award-progressive-rising-phoenix-press

The Greenlee Project
Shelby the Cat

 

Both books are Mom’s Choice Award Winners!

 

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