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LOREE LOUGH: LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST ONE DAY AT A TIME!

I remember the first time I met Loree; it was at a conference in Gainsville, TX. She was the keynote speaker, and I was a guest speaker. Before we addressed the attendees, Loree introduced herself. She was so gracious; one would never know they were speaking face-to-face with a best-selling author of hundreds of novels. I was slated to speak before Loree, can you even imagine? The room was silent. Gasp! But fortunately, it was because I happened to deliver information that most had not heard of at that time (industry related).

Loree stood up to speak next. I can’t begin to describe how shocked I was when she started several comments with the following statements. “And just like Amanda Thrasher said,” only to add, “I hate to repeat myself, but again, as Amanda Thrasher said.” To say I was stunned was an understatement. Best-selling author Loree Lough, backing up my claims and validating my thoughts about our industry, made such an impression on me that I never once forgot about our first meeting.

A while later, I’m honestly not sure how long, Loree called regarding a project she’d been asked to write for the talented Kevin James O’Neill (Actor, Writer, Producer, Screenplay Writer, Film Director). She described the project and spoke so passionately about the novel she was going to write that she had my attention immediately. Loree loved Kevin’s screenplay! You could hear it in her voice. And I could tell that the characters she would create to build the backstory necessary were already spinning in her head. She asked me a question that left me momentarily speechless. “Amanda, will you consider publishing this book?”

I was stunned that she wanted Progressive Rising Phoenix Press to be a part of this project. Why? Because we’re a tiny independent press founded by authors and Loree Lough is larger than life. She’s a beautiful writer, best-selling author, and well represented. Her Agent had this piece already placed, and she still moved forward with PRPP. I’m humbled and honored to be a part of this project.  But I can honestly say, and I’ve seen a lot of pieces, that this novel was supposed to have been written by Loree Lough. It was as if it was predestined to be written by Kevin specifically for her. Who knew?

There is a story behind this story; but it’s not mine to tell, it’s Loree’s. You will find the answers in this interview and in between each page of 50 HOURS. You will indeed find a piece of the author in between the lines as well as a beautiful story of redemption, peace, second chances, friendship, love, and forgiveness. If you can read this interview and not shed a tear, you’re stronger than me.

 

Meet Loree Lough.

  1. You’re a multi best-selling author, congrats! For those that are unfamiliar with your work, exactly how many books have you written?

Loree: Over the course of my looooong career, I’ve written about 250 books…but only 115 have been published. The others? Are taking up space in the bottom of a file drawer, waaaaay in the back, in the dark-dark, right where they belong.

  1. You’ve written for adults and kids, turned screenplays into novels, but what’s your favorite genre and why?

Loree: This may seem like a cop-out, but when I’m working on a project, that’s my favorite. I enjoy all genres thanks to the research, the interviews with experts, maps, and field trips (like doing ‘loops’ in an F-16 and getting into a cage to play with wolf cubs). Applying all of that to the characters, setting, and storyline is fun!

  1. One of your recent projects was taking a screenplay written by Kevin James O’Neill and turning it into a novel. Screenplays are so skeletal and novels, full of detail. At what point did you know you loved the idea enough to create a beautiful story?

 

 

Loree: Kevin hooked me on the story during our very first phone conversation. His enthusiasm was contagious, and once I saw the actual screenplay, well, I was RE-hooked! Instantly, my mind started whirling with ideas that could broaden and deepen the storyline and the characters: I saw the hospice center in my mind. Envisioned Franco and Aubrey. Built on the screenplay’s basic descriptions until the main characters were well-rounded, believable individuals with interesting backgrounds…and believable, reader-identifiable flaws.

I knew right away that these two would need other characters to interact with, so I invented them. They helped me expose the inner fears, thoughts, and joys the main characters were hiding—from others, and from themselves. (Kevin included a bluejay in his screenplay and I loved it so much that I turned it into a secondary character, and oh, what fun I had writing him!)

  1. A reference to the novel 50 HOURS has been quoted as being, “This is the kind of book that wins Pulitzer prizes.” I can’t think of a greater compliment for a literary fiction piece. What ran through your mind when you read that endorsement from the famous novelist Catherine Lanigan (Romancing the Stone, Jewel of the Nile, and a multitude of other works).

Loree: After the ‘wow, just wow’ mood wore off, I ran that Pulitzer line around in my head a couple dozen times. (Okay, about twice that many, but I digress…) I’m grateful. Humbled. Honored. Overjoyed. And you know what? My feet still haven’t touched the floor! An endorsement like that, coming from a writer as talented as Catherine, is heady stuff, indeed!

  1. Franco, the main character in the book, is a spiritually broken soul. No reason to live; simply going through the motions of life it seems, damaged. Fate changed that through the punishment phase that you described…sentenced to community service at a local hospice. It was there that he met Aubrey, the beautiful artist, who is terminally ill. The friendship that developed between the two is one that is truly life changing. Did Franco save Aubrey, per se, or did Aubrey ultimately save Franco?

 

Loree: I believe they saved each other. Living with the constant knowledge that your life is slowly ebbing to an end isn’t easy. But Aubrey is determined to squeeze as much joy and vigor from every precious moment as she can. Still, she’s lonely, exhausted, and no matter how hard she tries to hide it, terrified. I get that, and so will readers. I mean, it’s tough, grappling with a terminal diagnosis. Despite all that, meeting Franco gives her yet another thread of hope to grasp onto, and she realizes that her long-held dream of painting autumn leaves (something that isn’t readily found in Savannah) can come true…with his help.

And you’re right: Franco’s existence was, for the most part, flat and uninteresting. Burdened by the belief that he hadn’t deserved his wife’s love, and feeling he’s partially responsible for the car wreck that killed her…turned him into a man who eked out his existence by putting one foot in front of the other, because he doesn’t know what else to do. Then he meets Aubrey, whose zest for life is infectious. As his 50 hours tick by, he finds himself drawn to her strength. He likes her. Respects and admires the way she’s dealing with the diagnosis and accompanying symptoms. His feelings help build the foundation of a solid friendship. As they share pieces of the past, Franco’s ‘life puzzle’ comes together, and he begins to see himself through her eyes. And he likes what he sees.

  1. There is something incredible about the relationship that you have with the character Aubrey. It’s one that you usually only find in books. Healthy when commissioned to write this piece, you were later diagnosed with a similar illness as your character. Shock doesn’t begin to describe a readers’ or fan reaction when they find this out. How on earth did you continue the novel?

Loree: It was admittedly challenging at times, I’ll admit. Early on, I confessed to Kevin that I wasn’t sure I could handle it, that I might need to take a break from the story…maybe permanently. Good friend that he is, Kevin told me to follow my heart. Excellent advice, as it turned out, because every day of the year and a half, twice-daily chemo, through the stem cell transplant, I could not get the characters out of my head. Or my heart. At that point what I needed was to finish the story, to show readers whose lives have been touched by this dreaded disease that there’s plenty of reason to hope. It sounds corny and sappy, maybe, but there’s a lot of truth in that old adage: There is always, always something to be thankful for.

  1. At times, did you find your heart intimately connected to Aubrey’s, emotionally, and did it help to share you’re feelings on paper about what you were experiencing by allowing Aubrey to share her struggles with Franco?

Loree: I found myself putting words into Aubrey’s mouth, words I’d said only in the privacy of my mind. Talking with my fellow patients proved I wasn’t alone: A lot of cancer patients keep things to themselves. They do it to spare loved ones, already worried and afraid of an uncertain future, who don’t quite know what to do to comfort us. Through Aubrey, I was able to let them know that we expect nothing, quite literally, except to be with us. But it isn’t easy, watching someone you care about suffer the side effects of drugs and treatments. Friends and family deserve to hear we appreciate their steadfastness. Aubrey’s relationship with Franco and her mother helped me make that point.

Also, while it isn’t a common experience (thank God!), my research and interviews proved there are far too many “loved ones” like Aubrey’s ex-husband; Michael put on a good show of being the dutiful spouse…until her condition deteriorated, taking the spotlight off him and putting it on her. It’s an ugly fact, but a fact nonetheless: The occasional loved one will leave. So through Aubrey, I hope to show cancer patients and family members alike that we can survive even that. 

  1. I can’t imagine that the two of you, you and Aubrey, were completely separated at times during the writing process of this novel. I was struck by the humor you infused throughout the piece. Did Aubrey’s humor that you created for her help you at the same time deal with this terrible illness?

Loree: Aubrey is, in a whole lot of ways, me. I cracked jokes throughout the entire process: IV needle wouldn’t hit a vein? “Just jam it in there,” I’d tell the nurse, “and sooner or later, you’ll strike gold!” IV pole got stuck on a threshold as I (repeatedly) made trips to the bathroom during infusions? Imitating car motors and horns helped me get (literally) over the hump, and brought smiles to other patients’ faces. Humor has always been my go-to, whether dealing with Lyme Disease, Lupus, or that blasted Black Widow bite on my left butt cheek—all diagnosed in a one-month period. I built that attitude into Aubrey’s character, to help her cope with what would otherwise have been a dismal prognosis. It helped her deal with her teenage hospice neighbor, Dusty, too. And it helped me practice what I may face, far, far down the road.

  1. To me this story is so beautifully written, and I’m not just saying that. How is it different from your other pieces? Do you think it’s the topic, emotional connection, or how you are so inspired to share this story of friendship, connection, living your last dream, and second chances with the world that made it unique? (Adding of course, all of your pieces are incredible, thus you’re a best selling author). This novel has a different feel to me.

Loree: 50 Hours is different, all right. Since many of my published novels are for kids or the romance audience, each includes the required “happily ever after” ending. Humor, tears, suspense, adventure, yes (to quote Prego) “it’s in there.” But in every novel—except A Man of Honor—the guys got the girls, the kids found the hidden treasure, or the bad guys got their due.

In this story, as in A Man of Honor, my aim was to give readers a satisfying ending. Have you seen the movie Somersby? It’s a beautiful, colorful story of one man’s redemption. SPOILER ALERT! The ending requires the main character (Richard Gere) to make the most difficult choice of his life: Continue pretending to be Jodie Foster’s once-missing husband (a man, it is discovered as the story progresses, who’s guilty of murder), or escape the hangman’s noose by admitting his true identity as a charlatan. By the time he’s faced with that hard decision, he has earned the respect of townsfolk; Jodie’s little boy believes Gere is his real dad; Jodie loves Gere’s character as she’d never loved her husband. Most important of all, he likes himself. So much, in fact, that he can’t bring himself to disappoint those who see him as a good and decent man, something he was definitely not before assuming the murderer’s identity.

A happy ending? No way! There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as his life ended. But, it was a satisfying ending. Gere died a noble death, and spared everyone who cared about him from having to face the ugly truth.

That was the kind of ending I was going for in A Man of Honor and 50 Hours. An ending that would leave readers feeling the story simply couldn’t—shouldn’t—have ended any other way. Even if it did require a few tissues… 

  1. Franco is a changed man after he meets Aubrey. You connected and poured yourself into Aubrey. Do you believe your fans will ‘meet’ a piece of Loree Lough through the pages of this book?

Loree: I think most authors will admit (if you pump enough wine into ‘em, anyway) that a bit of themselves lives in every character they write. I identified almost as closely with Franco as I did with Aubrey. No, I’ve never been an addict of any kind (unless chocolate counts), but like anyone who has spent more than 25 years on this planet, there are things in my past that I’m not proud of. Things I’d rather keep to myself until St. Peter meets me at the pearly gates and says “What were you thinking!” There comes a time in every life, however, when regret must take a back seat to reformation, and unless we hope to spend the rest of our days looking over our shoulders, whimpering “I should’ve” or “why didn’t I?”, we have to bury those negative sentiments and concentrate on the future…where we’ll strive not to repeat those mistakes!

  1. My wish for the YA’s that I write is to write in such a way that I touch teens and prevent them from making the mistakes that my characters do before they actually experience them. Do you have a secret wish for this book?

Loree:  I definitely understand that, Amanda! My hope, my dream, my goal for 50 Hours is to leave readers with the belief that no matter how bleak and scary life is, there’s always reason to expect light can come from our dark times…if we choose to flip the switch!

  1. What was your favorite chapter to write and why?

Loree: Now, that’s a tough question. I enjoyed introducing Aubrey to Franco, and presenting Dusty to readers. It was fun crafting scenes in which the annoying bluejay teased Franco. I even liked developing Agnes’s prickly personality. During one scene, as Aubrey sleeps in the RV and Franco paces outside, I could almost feel the gravel poking through his socks, could almost hear that Eagles song, pulsing in the distance. But a favorite scene? Sorry, but I have to admit I loved writing all of them!

  1. Was there ever a time, during the process of this book and treatment of your illness that you wanted to give up on this book?

Loree:  Yes, absolutely. When I first heard the diagnosis (Multiple Myeloma, which is incurable), I didn’t think I could write that close to the bone. (Pun intended, since MM is a bone/marrow cancer. Heh heh heh.) But I digress, again… I feared writing a depressing, maudlin story that smacked of defeat. Or worse, self-pity.

  1. What kept you going?

Loree:  The realization that millions of others are facing the same prognosis as Aubrey (and me) convinced me to ‘make like Franco’ and put one foot in front of the other, and keep moving forward. It was cathartic, in a weird way, and I hope that’s what it’ll be for readers—not just cancer patients and their families—too.

  1. I keep certain objects (they’re not expensive but they’re sentimental to me), close to me when I write. Do you?

Loree: Hmm…not really. Right now, for example, Larry is asleep in his recliner while a Gilmore Girls rerun flashes in the background. The only things I absolutely must have nearby are my dictionary and a reliable Wi-Fi connection so that I can “look stuff up” at any given moment. I’m a tad OCD, you see, and must, must, must ensure that medical, scientific, historical, psychological things I’m writing about will be 100% accurate. Readers deserve to believe when they spend their hard-earned dollars on a novel that what they read will be correct and truthful.

  1. This novel, rightfully so, is going to be a feature film. Just for grins, who would you like to see play Franco and Aubrey?

Loree: I’m so glad you asked, and I hope and pray you’re right! Originally, Kevin had Peter Onorati as Franco, and Lindsay Frost as Aubrey. But, due to all the medical delays, they’re no doubt committed to other roles by now. That said, who do I see as Franco? Christian Slater. And Aubrey? Cate Blanchett. If the movie happens, I’ll insist on being on-set. (How else would I get my picture taken with the stars!)

  1. You lived the research in this book. What did you learn emotionally during treatment that you think readers wouldn’t believe, meaning they think it’s fiction, but it’s fact?

Loree: Rarely, rarely, people who’ve been told there is no cure for their illness sink to moments of desperation. Oh, we fight. We down the pills and struggle through the treatments. We put on a brave front, and take pride in not complaining. (It’s not healthy for us or those close to us. Doctors, nurses, and techs find it easier to deal with us, too!) Once in a while, though, we give in to the horror of it all, and entertain fleeting thoughts such as “How much easier would life be—for me and everyone close to me—if the end just came now?”

As I developed her character, Aubrey experienced several of those moments, but I only showed readers one. She quickly came to her senses, though, as most of us do, once she acknowledged, as I did, that causing the end would hurt our loved ones far, far more than walking beside us on this strange journey.

  1. I know you donate a portion of your royalties, all books, to charities. Cancer research is on the list. Is your type of cancer added to that and if so, where can people donate?

Loree:  Years ago, I volunteered at Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital, where I lugged a tackle box filled with paints and brushes so that I could brighten the kids’ lives, even if only until the paintings flaked off. (I liked to paint their forearms, rather than their faces, so they could see likenesses of Disney and Poke Mon characters, roses, dragons, even <cringe> skulls and snakes. They were such courageous little people that I was inspired me to donate to an assortment of childhood illnesses, which I added to “the usuals”: Heart, cancers, soldiers’ organizations, Autism, Alzheimer’s, etc. When MM entered my world, everything got a whole lot more personal, real fast, and I added MM research to my list. In the two-plus years I’ve lived with this monster, researchers have made great forward strides. New, successful treatments pop up on the horizon every six months or so. My favorite? The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation: https://www.themmrf.org/

  1. Being so closely connected to Aubrey, did you learn anything about yourself that surprised you?

Loree: Well, I always believed I was fairly tough. I lived by the “Never let ‘em see ya sweat” and “Never let ‘em see ya cry” codes. Since the MM diagnosis? I feel climbing onto the roof and bellowing, “I’m big and bad enough to beat your butt, MM!” What I learned is that I’m even stronger than I thought!

  1. If another world, would Franco have dated Aubrey?

Loree:  In my mind and heart, the answer is no. Because although their unusual situation drew them into a deep and abiding friendship, they really had very little in common. The chance that their paths would have crossed elsewhere would be, as they say, slim to none. Sad, I know, but that’s life, y’know?

The way 50 Hours ends, however, leaves hope that there could be a sequel, featuring Franco and Aubrey’s mom, Agnes. If readers asked for it, that is. But only then. <hint-hint>

In closing, I’d like to thank you, Amanda, for sharing your blog and your audience with me. This has been one of the more fascinating interviews I’ve participated in: Excellent questions that really made me dig deep in order to give honest answers!

Loree is available for author interviews and is open to discussing anything you’d like to ask. Media or other requests contact@progressiverisingphoenix.com or contact Loree through her website. Loree Lough

50 HOURS pre order http://amzn.to/2qcFiy6 (Goes live June 30th).

Amanda M Thrasher

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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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Escaping the Amish for a Connected World

 

emma-gingerich

 

 

 

 

 

When Emma Gingerich left her Amish community in Eagleville, Missouri, she was 18 and had an eighth-grade education. She barely spoke English.

The life that awaited most Amish women—one of cooking, cleaning, and child-rearing—never appealed to her. She wanted an education and the freedom to choose her own path.

Read full article HERE.

 

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What Do You Do? By Nicolette Anspach

mischief in the mushroom patchRecently, a fellow author contacted me and asked if I could do him a favor. “Sure,” I said. “What is it?” He proceeded to tell me that his daughter was taking a college class that required her to interview an author, non-family member. Introductions took place and his daughter, Nicolette Anspach, sent me a list of questions. Once I reviewed them, they were great questions, I realized as soon as people find out what I do, they ask me the same questions. I answered them for her and asked if I could post her interview. Nicolette did not mind at all. So, here’s what I do and why.

 

1) What made you interested in being a publisher/writer?

I have always loved creative writing and poetry, but never once set out to be an author. Children's Chapter BooksGrowing up creative writing was one of my favorite classes, and I’d write poetry just for fun. Continuing to write as an adult, for no reason other than enjoyment, changed the day my mom became ill. Being English, she collected and loved fairies. Diagnosed with a terminal illness I wrote her a book. Mischief in the Mushroom Patch. She never saw it in print. She read the first seven chapters of the manuscript, and I told her the ending. But she made a request of me, that I could not deny her. “Finish your book and send it off. You must continue to write your stories, for you and your kids.” It was the promise that changed my course from writer to author.

2) What was your main influence in wanting to Pursue this career?

I think questions one and two are combined. I did not really set out to be an author, and I certainly didn’t set out to be a publisher. I was with a publisher, quite large; they had three of my titles. They taught me how to be an author, and that is the truth. As the time passed and I learned more about the print and book business as a whole, I felt as if the industry was one sided. Writers were giving so much of themselves, still do, and often receive so little. (Not referring to the big names most people know), there are milllions of word artists. They entertain the world per se, movies, books, plays, cartoons, newspapers, songs, columns and more. I wanted to create a company that was the best of both worlds. When I pulled my titles, it was because I had envisioned a company built for the benefit of authors while operating as it should, as a publishing company. One that gave authors higher royalties, which our company does, and negotiates on our author’s behalves things such as print and shipping costs lowering fees, which we did negotiate, and more. We do provide benefits authors can not acquire on their own, and because we built it our way we can continue to mold it the way we want as we learn and grow. We are getting there; founded by authors, yes, yet printing award-winning titles in paperback, library bound, hardcovers, and Ebooks. We are filling bookstore orders, handling P.O’s for schools, special print runs, and offer wholesale discounts. We have 100 titles, attend large conferences, provide Lexile scoring, and provide consistent PR for our label and titles represented at no charge to our authors. In addition to this, we have a nice web presence and were able to offer our first no-strings-attached traditional contract, tentative release date November 2016. We’ve only been in business for three and half years. We are NOT there yet, but we are closer than we were before.

3) Describe your day to day jobs.

This is a great question. What do we do daily? Where to start? I guarantee I will leave something out. Honestly, each day starts with a conference call, before eight o’clock, where my business partner, Jan Powelson, and I discuss work projects that came in the night or day before. Our contractors, located in the States, England, Australia, and India, are on different time zones. This allows us to work on a few items at a time. As a general rule, we prefer to wrap up one book before another is released. Unfortunately, publishing does not always work that way. Some issues that occur at plants are out of our hands; that is why we have a process that takes time. Deadlines, often imposed by authors themselves, can cause issues that trickle down the line. Most do no realize that files can go back and forth for a variety of reasons, not including back and forth to the authors or their editors which can be a handful of times. This does not include layout or issues if they arise, and being part of the Digital Certification program everything before submission to our printer. All of these things are part of the process. Files must be clean before loading. This doesn’t indicate problems; it’s part of a process. Authors, sometimes think delays are problems. Corrections are not a problem. Adjustments sometimes are necessary. It’s why we have a testing phase. Margins, gutters, color saturation, etc. However, it is nice to make sure things are 100% correct as best we can, before going live. In addition to files in progress, we discuss authors that need PR sent for new releases or introductions, marketing, and target marketing strategies, which is continual, are discussed. We have a marketing director assigned for daily projects, and we also work on larger projects such as trade conferences. Book orders are placed, emails between authors answered. Then there are new acquisitions and proofreading assignments that are assigned. If we bring on a new author, there’s time taken to explain the program. Discuss expectations behalf of both PRPP and the author, and what time frame and limitations are of the small to mid-sized press. If pursued, contracts have to be signed. Social media. Answering general emails, writing letters on behalf of the authors, sending inquiries and constantly working to ensure the site is updated. This does not include setting up new titles in LSI, KDP, or setting titles up correctly from the first step, which is Bowker. In addition to these things (which is likely is not all we do), we still have to maintain our own writing and we both have families.

4) Was being a publisher/ writer your first career choice?

This was not what I set out to do. My last position in the corporate work force was a sales position. I was a Regional Sales Manager for Systran, a Division of Textron. I sold Receivable Financing / Factoring and was responsible for several states including TX, LA, GA, CO, MS, FL. Prior to that, I was a CSR for First Data, formerly NTS.

5) How do you communicate what you do to other people around you?

We communicate several ways. Of course phone, the internet. Messages. Text. In person. Fly. Often we teleconference with our authors. Skype. We have an international author, and many of our authors are out of State. We have an open door policy, and it is not unusual for me to drive out of state or several hours to meet with my authors. I’ve put 100 thousand miles on my car. No kidding. 98% PRPP.

6) What books have you personally written?

I have personally written several books. The Greenlee Project, Mischief in the Mushroom Patch. A Fairy Match in the Mushroom Patch. A Spider Web Scramble in the Mushroom Patch (due to release soon), The Ghost of Whispering Willow, There’s A Gator Under My Bed, Sadie’s Fairy Tea Party, What If…A Story of Shattered Lives

7) What books/articles..etc have you been a part of to publish?

I’ve had several articles / interviews written about me. I’ve written articles for online magazines. However, the Momtastic interview was my favorite because it was about balancing everything you do. We did not even have the publishing company then. However, I was lumped with Dr’s. Attorneys, and then little me. It was neat. I’ve also been in women’s essence magazine and others. I contribute to Angie’s Magazine. http://www.momtastic.com/health/110432-work-life-a-balance-amanda-m-thrasher/

8) What are the processes of getting a book published?

The process of getting a book published has changed over the years, especially with so The-Greenlee-Project-amanda-m-thrashermany ‘load and go’s,’ snail mail, gone. People can send their work in via the Internet. Sample chapters, query email. Most publishers have their guidelines on their site. If they are accepting submissions, they’ll state that and will tell you exactly what they need. Usually a brief synopsis, sample chapter, writing references and if you have an agent, who represents you. But unless you’re proven it seems an agent are harder to come by (successful agents). Once your manuscript has been accepted the journey begins. I cannot speak for other companies, but for us, our turn around time depends 100% on the authors completed packet. When we say your manuscript must be print ready, it needs to be print ready. Any time a manuscript is sent back, down time starts. Illustrations take time as well.

9) What are the processes of you, as a publisher, in deciding if a manuscript is book worthy?

Our process is typically this: If a piece interests us, we send it out for review. (Acquisition Editor). Depending on the review, will depend on if we pursue it. A bad review will likely mean we will not. We are looking for marketability, author possibility (platform), work ethics and manageability. Small press, dynamics within is incredibly important. Teamwork is imperative. If we agree on the piece, and the review is good, I will make a call and visit with the author. At that time, I will explain exactly what we do, provide and what that means. A meeting is scheduled, and I will find out first and foremost what their expectations are (this is very important), what they know about the book/print industry and what, if any, experience they have in sales. If we are on the same page, a contract will be offered. Authors are allowed to use an editor of their choice. However, the work must be edited professionally three times before we lay it out. For PRPP prior to layout we require:

Signed contract

Manuscript (plain, double spaced, 12 font Times New Roman).

Illustrations, if they have them, scanned correct DPI

Author Photo

Bio

Dedication

Acknowledgements

Back matter / Blurb and Reviews

Idea of cover

About the author

Sales Market & Media Contacts

Special Requests

We layout multiple files depending on the book, hardcover, paperback and ebook.

10) What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career in publishing?

We did it specifically for the benefit of authors. We’ve made tough, unpopular decisions to keep the business operating the way it should, as a business. Profit margins are slim. Very slim. People believe the margins are higher because they do not understand how the business works. If you are starting a publishing business, do not be afraid to make hard decisions to protect your company. You cannot grow and vest in your company if you give everything away. Be selective where you go to sign and showcase your titles, conferences, and above all remember content is crucial. It is all right to decline pieces. We’ve learned that over the years what printers to use, what not to do, where to showcase, and what to focus on to get the best for our authors and our company. We are still learning, but the wheel is in motion, and we see results. Even if you have solid, consistent producers, it does not mean all of the work is right for the label. Do not be afraid to tell authors no. Surround yourself with team players. The ‘I’s or the ‘Me’s’ of the world will bring down a team. It takes a team to sell. PRPP is trying to move all of the work we produce. It is inevitable that some titles will sell better than others, but if the label is represented properly and all content is solid, even if a few titles are more popular than others they still are from the same press and are in good company. I firmly believe not every author is a fit for every publisher, and every publisher is not a fit for every author. It is best to cut your losses both sides and walk away if the relation isn’t working out for either one. Negative energy breeds negativity. It is bad for business; it is bad for creativity. The whole reason we write is to stay creative and to be inspire and be inspired. There are many times when you will not have the answers, but do not be afraid to admit that and find the answer out. I know to ask. Be it our CSR or our contractors, print or distributors, I’ll find out. We have learned, the hard way, sometimes people do not need to know everything. Being a small to mid-sized press, we used to share a lot of information. We’ve found our authors do not need all of the information we have, they do not know what to do with it, and it can cause too much confusion.

11) What steps did you personally take to be a publisher/ writer?

I think last couple answered this.

12) Do you enjoy your job and what it entails?

I do enjoy my work. We’ve learned so much; I cannot begin to tell you. From the ins and outs of the publishing world to dealing with the authors, industry trends and what’s new in the market. We learn something new every single day, and that is the truth. Every day something new is on our plate!

13) What do you enjoy or not enjoy about your job?

What I don’t like about my job is unintentionally hurting people’s feelings, but sometimes it’s necessary. And not having my personal time to write. However, now the company is ALMOST where we need it, and then that will change. We gave ourselves five years for the start-up. Looking back, I cannot believe what we’ve accomplished in three and half years. Well, I take that back, I can believe it; I just can’t wait to finish what we’ve done. I’ve always said I’m a writer first and foremost, author second to that, and now I can add publisher to that list.

The-Ghost-of-Whispering-Willow-amanda-m-thrasher
Scary, Mysterious and Sweet? A Different Kind of Ghost Story for Young Readers. Dedicated to Krista, Alley & Kendall. Scary, Mysterious and Sweet? A Different Kind of Ghost Story for Young Readers.

Author site:

www.amandamthrasher.com

Progressive Rising Phoenix Press

www.progressiverisingphoenix.com
 

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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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Ex-Amish Girl Wants to Dance

 

Good morning,

As I am sitting at Starbucks drinking coffee on a beautiful gorgeous Friday morning – the beginning of my 3 day weekend (I have an awesome job), I am reminiscing all the things I’ve done just this year. I surprised myself and I am happy… that’s the way it should be.

I always think of my long and short term goals quietly in my head for a while before I actually verbally say them out loud to another human being…

because I know once I say it out loud it has to be accomplished. That’s just the way I am.

I had the urge to go on a mission trip earlier this year, mainly because I felt a need to use my many blessings to bless others. However, I had no idea how to even plan one, much less where I wanted to go (there were SOOO many options), so I just took a leap of faith and choose Nepal. Once I had my heart set on Nepal, then I started letting my friends know what I was doing. Of course, I waited to tell a select few until I had my plane ticket so there was no way I could be convinced not to go 🙂. Yes I am strong-willed! I get it.

Now that I have accomplished such a major challenge and realized how truly broken my soul was.. I have a new goal that has been circulating in my brain for a long time and I finally started verbally expressing it to other people… ooops!

I want to be a contestant on Dancing with the Stars!

I can’t even begin to say why, how, or if it’s possible. This goal is different because I can’t be solely in control like I was with the decision to go to Nepal. I can’t just buy a plane ticket and decide I will show up on the dance floor and make those judges go “oooohhh” and “awwww” over my dancing skills (I have none).

If I go on the show…

I will be out of my comfort zone more that I have ever been. That’s what I want.

I will embarrass myself every single day. I can’t help it.

I will cry happy and mad tears within a few seconds of each other. I  am simply a girl.

…. but mostly – I will express happy emotions. 🙂

My publisher Amanda Thrasher believes in me and everything I do. She believes Ellen Degeneres should read my story and also took in the consideration of my dreams to be on Dancing with the Stars. We are both a huge fan of Ellen and being on her show would be a great honor. And most of all… I could finally have a chance to be dunged in the water tank.  Please read my publishers email to Ellen below and share share share 🙂  I love y’all!

_____________________________________________________________________

Dear Ellen,

I’m writing to you on behalf of Emma Gingerich- she is a role model for women, college students (non-gender specific), teens and tweens. Raised Amish with her immediate family the ‘community.’ She made her clothes and was forbidden to use electricity or running water. Rarely played and of course transportation was a horse and buggy. She knew she wasn’t supposed to live that way. “It wasn’t her.” She decided to leave.  Kept it secret and endured bizarre dating rituals and medical treatments until the day she left. Had the clothes on her back and fifty dollars.

– She lived with strangers in a barn.

– Eventually moved in with a family.

– Shunned by her family.

– Taught herself English.

– Got her GED.

– Went to College

– Worked for the family that she lived with

– Went through horrific ordeals no one should experience

– Got her Bachelor degree and is working on her MBA

– Wrote her book.

– Attended writing conferences.

– Found a publisher.

– Goes to signings.

– Continues to speak, sign, and share her story.

– Kept her faith.

– Went to Nepal on a mission trip to serve others.

She’s 27 years old, young in some ways, so smart and strong in others. Impresses me every single day. My heartbreaks for what she went through. No woman, let alone child (mentally she was), should go through that, yet I’m so proud of her. By the way, her dream of all things is to be on Dancing with the Stars. Can you believe that? If anyone can arrange that, it’s you.

Sincerely,

Amanda M. Thrasher

Ex-amish-girl-wants-to-dance
 

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PRPP’s Linda Boyden

Our very own Linda Boyden was in Plainville, MA. as an invited guest to read her story, Roxy Reindeer. The store is owned by Jeff Kinney, the author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Today he stopped by to see Linda Boyden, the guest children’s author, a former high school classmate and fellow Plainville native who now lives in California.

If you visit the store, you can still find copies of her book there. It is a beautiful, historic three-story space of an old general store in Plainville.

To read the full article about Jeff and his new store, click HERE.

 

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“Hi.” I said to myself.

I feel like I’m always in a rush to finish my current book project. It seems to happen each time I come up with a story. I get the initial idea. I start building characters in my head. I begin laying things out on paper. Next thing I know, I’m writing and am deep within the middle of it all, watching it take shape. To me, this is the most exciting part of writing, the beginning of a new adventure, building that new world. It is very strange, because once you start building it and create worlds, universes, charaters, or just a simple fiction street with a lonely house and a guy named Sue, it actually does exist now. It becomes very real for me. These places and characters become a part of me and stay with me. I think about them throughout my day and what they might be doing, therefore I can visit them again when it’s quiet and guide them in another direction. Take my last book, Hope, for example. Now that that book is finished, I do still think of Christopher and Tommy every now and then. I wonder what it would be like if they started stiring things up again? Hmm, maybe someday. They can just chill where they are for now.

Crazy, you say? I’m not sure. But, if being ‘crazy’ is being able to create different worlds, characters, and having a connection with them enough to take readers on a journey that they will never forget, and hopefully bring a smile to their face, then I don’t want to be sane.

Once a new story passes the halfway point (just a feeling I get, knowing about where that might be is always different of course) I seem to start throwing stuff on the page that doesn’t seem to be well thought out. I have to make myself slow down and breathe. All I can figure is that it’s some sort of mental anxiety of feeling like you have to meet that certain deadline of getting it out to the masses. Yes, this ‘deadline’ is only set by myself. I’m not necessarily under the gun to finish anything, but it is annoying to fight with yourself. Oh well, who am I kidding? I like having conversations with myself. I always know what to say, and I can always make myself laugh.

In closing, the message for today and for myself is to ‘breathe and take your time’ in all you do. Rushing yourself will only cause stress and create mistakes.

matthew-geneMatthew Gene

 

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