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Official blog of Kelly Hashway, young adult and middle grade author.
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26. Friday Feature: Cheerleading Can Be Murder Cover Reveal


|||||| COVER REVEAL ||||||
CHEERLEADING CAN BE MURDER
Horror High Series #1 by Carissa Ann Lynch
Coming April 5th from Limitless Publishing!

||| SYNOPSIS |||
Getting on the cheerleading squad is hard enough without a psycho on the loose…

For Harrow High freshman Dakota Densford, life should be easy. All she has to worry about is talking to cute boys and remembering her locker combination. But when cheerleading tryouts draw near, she learns the cards are stacked against her—spots on the varsity team are limited. Dakota faces her competition head-on, but when her life is threatened, that takes the competition to a whole new level.

High school is never easy, and freshman year is off to a rough start…

Between Dakota’s uniform being ripped up and masked vandals trashing another girl’s house, everyone is suspect. To complicate matters further, Dakota has a thing for Andy McGraw, but she finds him locking lips with another girl.

The harassment continues, and when Dakota finds suspicious flyers inside her best friend’s locker, she doesn’t know what to think. The principal’s unfeeling, overachiever daughter, Brittani Barlow, will do anything to secure her place on the team. But Dakota’s neighbor, on the other hand, definitely fits the profile of a sociopath.

Cheerleading has become a game of life and death.

 ||| COVER DESIGNER |||


||| CARISSA ANN LYNCH |||
Besides my family, my greatest love in life is books. Reading them, writing them, holding them, smelling them…well, you get the idea. I’ve always loved to read, and some of my earliest childhood memories are me, tucked away in my room, lost in a good book. I received a five dollar allowance each week, and I always — always — spent it on books. My love affair with writing started early, but it mostly involved journaling and writing silly poems. Several years ago, I didn’t have a book to read so I decided on a whim to write my own story, something I’d like to read. It turned out to be harder than I thought, but from that point on I was hooked. My first and second books were released by Sarah Book Publishing: This Is Not About Love and Grayson’s Ridge. I’m a total genre-hopper. Basically, I like to write what I like to read: a little bit of everything! I reside in Floyds Knobs, Indiana with my husband, three children, and massive collection of books. I have a degree in psychology and worked as a counselor.

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1MFqBf9

*Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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27. Writer Wednesday: Revamping Your Newsletter


I was all set to answer a reader question, but there's something else that I want to share with you all today. It's about newsletters. Last week I mentioned that mine was changing and in a big way for my subscribers. Well, I didn't realize that those changes would also be big for me. Here's how.

First, I changed the subject line of my newsletters. I used to boringly title them with the month and the year. *Yawn* Seriously, what was I thinking? The newsletter I sent out a few days ago was titled "Just For You: A Sneak Peek, A Giveaway, and a FREE Story!" Surprise, surprise, I had my highest open rate ever! I mean, come on. This is way more exciting than the month and year. I promised you free stuff, the potential to win something, and a sneak peek. That's much more interesting and gives you a reason to click on it and see what's inside.

Now let's take a closer look at what I did there. I made my newsletter all about my readers. I rewarded them three times in one newsletter! Subscribers got to see the cover of Out of the Ashes before everyone else. They got an exclusive giveaway no one else can enter. AND they got a FREE story that's not available to anyone else.

I'm planning to keep this format for my newsletter because it's great for everyone. A higher open rate is what I want. Goodies are what my subscribers want. Everyone wins!

If you want to get in on all these goodies I'm giving my newsletter subscribers, click here.


If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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28. Monday Mishmash 2/29/16


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Out of the Ashes Cover Reveal!  I seriously can't decide which cover in the Into the Fire Trilogy I love the most. This one is just as gorgeous as the first. Check it out.
    Add the book on Goodreads
  2. Leap Into Cash Giveaway  I'm a Reader Not a Writer is giving away $250 and I'm one of the authors contributing to that prize money. Be sure to enter here: 
  3. a Rafflecopter giveaway
  4. Editing  I have two client edits on my plate this week, which is pretty typical. ;)
  5. Writing Adult  Lately, I'm getting all these ideas for adult series. One is a romantic suspense, which will be written as Ashelyn Drake, and the other is a paranormal series that I'm really excited about. Am I finally growing up? Nah. Let's not get crazy. ;)
  6. Giveaway Winner!  Over the weekend, I had rafflecopter select winners for my Diary of a Wimpy Kid giveaway and my Dork Diaries giveaway, and rafflecopter decided Beth Ellyn Summer should get both! Huge congrats to Beth!
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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29. Friday Feature: Piper Morgan To the Rescue


I'm really excited to share the cover of Stephanie Faris's newest book, Piper Morgan to the Rescue. It's adorable!
Piper Morgan To the Rescue
By Stephanie Faris



Piper helps some four-legged friends find the perfect home in the third book of the brand-new Piper Morgan series.


Piper is super excited to help out at Bark Street, a local animal shelter in town. Who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by adorable puppies and dogs all day? And when Piper sees Taffy, the cutest dog she has ever seen, Piper is determined to find a way to bring Taffy home. But it won’t be easy—especially when she finds out someone else wants to make Taffy a part of their family, too!





Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in broadcast journalism, she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing.

Stephanie is the Simon & Schuster author of 30 Days of No Gossip and 25 Roses, as well as the upcoming Piper Morgan series. When she isn’t crafting fiction, she writes for a variety of online websites on the topics of business, technology, and her favorite subject of all—fashion. She lives in Nashville with her husband, a sales executive. 

Instagram

Don't you just love it? And Stephanie has a giveaway for you all too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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30. Writer Wednesday: Big Changes to My Newsletter & A Dear Teen Me Letter


Today, you're getting two posts for the price of one! Okay, they're both free. ;)

First, I've decided to make some big changes in my newsletter, and they will mean great things for my subscribers. You see, I've been sending out my newsletter's on the first of each month. Here's the problem with that. 

I miss out on giving newsletter subscribers sneak peeks at my covers, trailers, sales, etc. Shouldn't loyal subscribers get perks? Of course they should! And not just sneak peeks. I'm going to offer you MORE!

Here are some of the things you can expect from my newsletter:
  • Exclusive Monthly Giveaways  I always give my newsletter subscribers more entries in the giveaways I run on my blog, but from now on I will also do monthly giveaways just for my newsletter subscribers. You'll be the only ones allowed to enter! I'll be giving away a variety of items, such as ebooks, signed paperbacks, ARCs, gift cards, SWAG, and any other cool items I come across that I think you'd enjoy.
  • Sneak Peeks  Newsletter subscribers will now get to see my covers, trailers, etc., BEFORE they are revealed to the public.
  • Bonus/Deleted Scenes  I've decided to give my newsletter subscribers access to bonus and deleted scenes from my books. Some of these will later end up either on Wattpad or compiled for sale, but newsletter subscribers will get them for FREE and before anyone else!
  • Sale Notifications  If I'm running a sale on one of my books (which I do pretty often), my newsletter subscribers will get notified so they can get the discounted price.
  • Book Recommendations  If I read a great book that I think everyone else should check out, I'll tell you about it and most likely giveaway a copy.

So no more newsletters on the first of the month. You'll hear from me when I have something great to share with you. That might be once a month, twice a month, or three times depending on how many freebies I feel like showering you with that month. ;) Sound good?

If you aren't signed up for my newsletters already, sign up NOW here, because my first giveaway is fast approaching.


Second, the Into the Fire street team is posting Dear Teen Me letters this week, so of course I had to write one. Let me just start by saying these letters are tough to write!



Dear Teen Me,

As you get older, you're going to realize that you don't need to be the center of attention. It's great that you're friends with all types of people, but what's really important is forming close bonds with the people who really care about you. You can't please everyone, and life is a lot easier when you stop trying to. Just be you. Some people will like who you are and some won't, and that's okay. So what if someone sees you in your glasses instead of your contacts? I promise the world won't end and neither will your relationship with that person. And embrace your accident-prone tendencies. They aren't going to go away, so being embarrassed by them is silly. They are part of who you are. Stop being afraid of how others will see you and learn to laugh at yourself. My motto now is "If you aren't weird, you're boring" because everyone has quirks and they are nothing to be ashamed of.

You're good at accepting others for who they are, so start doing the same thing for yourself.

Love,
Kelly

As another incentive to sign up for my newsletter, I'm including a letter from Jeremy from Into the Fire, where he writes to his former self after going through his rebirth. Sign up here, to get access to his letter, which I'll be sending on the 28th along with a sneak peek at book two's cover.

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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31. Monday Mishmash 2/22/16


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Into the Fire Paperbacks!  OMG!!! I'm still freaking out (in a good way) over how gorgeous the Into the Fire Paperbacks are. They arrived on Friday. Here are some pictures of my pretty books! 

  2. Big Changes to My Newsletter  I'm going to post about this on Wednesday, but BIG things are in store for my newsletter. Big for my subscribers that is. If you aren't subscribed, you're going to want to do that here. And check back on Wednesday to see exactly what I have in store for my loyal newsletter subscribers. Hint: You're going to like it. :)
  3. Mystery of Majestic Cave Cover  The second book in the Curse of the Granville Fortune series has a gorgeous cover. I'm not sharing it yet, but I just approved it at the end of last week. Stay tuned for the big unveiling. :) Oh, and book two is coming your way in early June.
  4. What Is Up With Outlook's New Look?  MSN decided to update my email. AGAIN. *Sigh* I'm not liking the new changes. The system is very wonky because I think they tried to make it do too much. Now it glitches all the time. I hope they work the kinks out soon.
  5. Big Changes All Around  My newsletter isn't the only thing that's going to change. I'm putting my foot down and getting really stern…with myself. You see over the past year, I somehow became an editor who also writes, and while I love editing, I'm not okay with this. I'm a writer. I WILL write first and edit second. No more of this, "My editing schedule is booked for the next five months so I won't be able to write until then." I'm writing EVERY day. My pace with edits will slow down, but I'm okay with that.
  6. My Daughter's Birthday  My daughter turns nine on Friday. I can't believe that. My little girl is getting so big!
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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32. Friday Feature: Frog Hollow


I'm really happy to feature my fellow Limitless author, Savannah Blevins. First, look how gorgeous the cover of Frog Hollow is!


It's a sign. No one is safe.

At just twenty-two years old, Wilhelmina Daniels inherits a house, a family of eclectic witches, and a death sentence on the same day. As revealed by Reid Thomas, her shy but smoldering neighbor, Wilhelmina is a descendent of the Innocent--a line of gifted women who are to be admired, feared, and above all else, protected. 

Death, mayhem, and The Haunted...

The murder of Wilhelmina's mother--the family matriarch--sends the small town's rumor-mill into a frenzy. Suspicions fall on The Haunted, a rival force with dual personalities, one of them being Julien Cote.It's difficult to believe the charming boy has a sexual deviant with a hankering for violence lurking inside.Rumor has it Julien can seduce an angel out of her wings. Wilhelmina doesn't have wings, but if he calls her cheri d'amour one more time, she's liable to lose something of equal importance--her heart. But with Reid hailing from her clan, will she stay close to her own, or venture into the unknown?
Even a powerful spell can't seal Julien's fate

Julien knows an incantation that just might help Wilhelmina to solve her mother's death, but when an unidentified stalker is spotted spying in her house, her family is certain it's Julien's dangerous alter ego come out to play.Wilhelmina must decide--is risking her life worth the possible heartbreak of discovering the truth about Julien's fate and her mother's death? Or will she cast aside her desire for Julien and vow her love to Reid. 

Leaving her past forever buried in the murky depth of...Frog Hollow

And doesn't the book sound amazing? I need to read this one. Grab your copy hereOh, and if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can grab this book for FREE! 

Savannah was born in Hyden, Kentucky. She received her M.S in Speech Language Pathology from The University of Mississippi in 2009. She's been writing since the early age of nine when she begged her parents for a type writer for Christmas.

She now lives in Corbin, Ky with her husband of eight years, John, and their two wonderful daughters, Delilah and Gracie.

When she isn't working, or running after her kids, she spends her free time traveling the country with her husband. There is nothing better than a day of football in the grove, a late night of basketball at Rupp Arena or slapping the glass to celebrate another Washington Capitals goal.

She is a strong believer that with enough hard work and determination you can accomplish anything.

*Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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33. Into the Fire Release Day!

It's release day!

My paranormal romance Into the Fire is here!


In one month’s time, seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman will die and be reborn from her own ashes…


Her life of secrecy has never been easy. She’s watched her younger brother, Jeremy, burn and rise again in a coming-of-age process called rebirth. And just like her brother, when her time comes, she won’t remember anything from her first life other than she’s a Phoenix—a member of a small group of people descended from the mythical Phoenix bird.


The last thing she needs to worry about is falling for the new guy in town—Logan Schmidt.


Cara is drawn to Logan in a way she can’t explain, but she’s not exactly complaining. Every-thing is perfect…except it’s not. Once she’s reborn, she’ll forget Logan. And to make things worse, a Phoenix Hunter is on the loose, and Cara’s involvement with Logan is bringing out her Phoenix qualities—the very qualities that will draw the Hunter right to her.


Desperate times call for desperate measures…


Afraid of hurting Logan, Cara breaks it off for good. But her attraction to him runs deeper than a typical high school crush. She wants him—needs him. And if he proves willing to stay by her side, their love might destroy them both.


Can Cara hide from the Phoenix Hunters long enough to survive her rebirth? And if so, will it mean a new beginning with Logan—or the beginning of the end?

Need some teasers? Of course you do!





Grab your copy here now!

I want to thank everyone who participated in the cover reveal earlier this month, who is helping with the social media blitz this week, and who is participating in the blog tour next week. This book is very special to me and so is everyone who is spreading the word about it. 

Also, I want to thank my amazing Into the Fire Street Team for being so supportive. Thank you to:
Stephanie Faris
Beth Consugar
Booknut 101
Stephanie Belden
Michelle Willms
Denise Cayetano
G. Donald Cribbs
Kristen Chandler
Jen Bibi Helms
Brie Wood
Kat Romeo
Keren Hughes
Jessica Porter
FSMeurinne
Ashley Kemp
Maghon Thomas
Veray Carter
Rachel Gunter
Doctors Notes
Rachel Andrews
Elizabeth Thiele

Thanks to these amazing readers, there are already a bunch of reviews up on Amazon, so be sure to check those out.


*Writer Wednesday will resume next week.

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34. Monday Mishmash 2/15/16


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Into the Fire releases tomorrow!  I can't believe release day is almost here already! Tomorrow is the big day. Grab your copy of Into the Fire here.
     
  2. Giveaway for Diary of a Wimpy Kid 10 and Dork Diaries 10  To celebrate the rerelease and revamping of Curse of the Granville Fortune, I'm giving away the newest books in the Dork Diaries and Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Enter here.


  3. Drafting  Last week I started drafting a new book. It's another adult romantic suspense! I was surprised too. ;)
  4. Editing  I'm booked with client edits again this week. Last week I sent another Leap book off for formatting and got a cover just about finalized. It's so much fun being on the other side of publishing.
  5. Presidents Day & Valentine's Day  My daughter and husband are home today for Presidents Day, so we'll be spending the day together. I hope you all had a great Valentine's Day and are enjoying Presidents Day.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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35. Friday Feature: Curse of the Granville Fortune and Two Giveaways!


I've been very quiet about my relaunch of Curse of the Granville Fortune. I wanted to get the book edited, have a new cover designed, and get it back out into the hands of readers. That didn't allow me to promote it the way I usually would. So now that the book is back out in the world in both ebook and paperback formats, I've decided to host a giveaway, TWO actually. But first, check out the new and improved Curse of the Granville Fortune.

Twelve-year-old J.B.’s visions leave him sweaty, lightheaded, and certain he’s turning into a freak—or worse, going insane. 

The visions stem from a family curse. An ancestor stole the Granville fortune, and now J.B.’s entire family will suffer. To break the curse, J.B. must find and return the Granville’s stolen property. 

But he’s not the only one searching for the treasure. His journey leads to a dark forest where he’ll battle his worst fears. And when he meets two others who share the missing pieces of his visions and suffer from the same curse, the three soon realize they need to work together to break the curse before it's too late.

Buy the book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

And now for the giveaways. I have brand new copies of Diary of a Wimpy Kid Old School and Dork Diaries Tales From a Not-So-Perfect Pet Sitter for you. I'm keeping them as separate giveaways and separate rafflecopters so there will be a different winner for each. Good luck!

***Giveaways are only open to US residents.***

If you'd like to enter to win Diary of a Wimpy Kid Old School, enter on the rafflecopter below:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you'd like to enter to win Dork Diaries Tales From a Not-So-Perfect Pet Sitter, enter on the rafflecopter below:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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36. Writer Wednesday: Making the Most of Your Book Launch

Today's topic comes courtesy of Rick Starkey, who happens to have a middle grade book coming out next month, so his question is quite timely. Rick wants to know what mistakes a debut author should avoid and what are some tips for success.

Let's start with the mistakes because those are easier to identify. 
  • Don't claim your book is better than *Insert Best-Selling Title Here.*  Nothing makes a reader or buyer cringe more than someone who thinks they are better than everyone else and, therefore, wrote the best book ever. 
  • Don't talk about nothing but your book.  Spamming people is guaranteed to make people tune you out, unfriend you on FB, unfollow you on other sites, and not buy your book.
  • Don't badmouth other authors.  Again, this goes with the first tip. Putting other people down does NOT build you up. It brings your own reputation down. Don't do it.
  • Don't sit there doing nothing and expect readers to magically come to you.  Marketing is tough, but we have to do it or readers will never find our work.
Okay, let's move on to things you should do, and notice I didn't say things that will ensure your book's success. The reason for that is because really nothing will ensure the book's success. What works well for one author may not work at all for another author, so there is no real answer to what will make your book sell. What you need to do is make sure you are putting yourself and your book before readers in the best possible light. After that, you're kind of hoping for the best. So how do you do that?
  • Let readers know you have a book out.  Readers can't buy what they don't know exists. On release day, tell the world your story is now an actual book.
  • Post genuine content and make an effort to connect with readers.  Again, it can't all be about your book. Talk about other things too. Let people see you're a real person.
  • Offer bonus incentives for people who review your book.  Everyone loves free stuff. So offering bonus scenes, deleted scenes, signed copies, SWAG, etc. for people who review the book is great. Now, you may have to hold an exclusive giveaway if the items you're offering cost money because you don't want to spend your lifesavings. ;)
  • Support other authors.  In the midst of sharing the news about your book, promote the works of others. Writers need to stick together.
  • Utilize Joint Promo.  This is similar to the last one, but a little different. Banding together with a bunch of other authors means you can offer big rewards to readers and also drastically increase your online reach. Think of this. If you get together with 9 other authors and all pitch in $10, you have a $100 prize to giveaway. That will attract a lot more people than doing a $10 giveaway on your own. Also, you now have the audiences of 10 authors seeing your book. That's great exposure.
  • Let readers try before they buy.  One of my favorite features on Amazon is the Look Inside feature, because I want to read page one to see if I like the author's voice before I buy. So jump on Wattpad (and your website) and post a few pages of your book to let people test it out. Then create some teaser images to post all over social media. Why go through the effort to do this if Amazon let's readers Look Inside? Simple. If readers don't see your book on Amazon, they'll never use that feature to try out your writing. But posting a teaser on your social media accounts might just draw them in and get them to read more.
Okay, I could keep going but this post would get really long. I think that's a good start. If you have any tips you'd like to share, please leave them in the comments so we can all learn from each other.


*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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37. Monday Mishmash 2/8/16


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Blues Bones Cover Reveal  I couldn't be more excited to share the cover of Blues Bones by Rick Starkey because this is the first book I offered on as an acquisitions editor for Leap Books, Seek. It's an AMAZING story, and the cover is just as awesome. Check it out and preorder the book here for a special discounted price. The book releases March 7th.
  2. Into the Fire's New Cover  Into the Fire's new cover has been revealed as well. This book has been heavily edited AND new content has been added. I'm really happy with the end result and think readers will be too. For now, check out my gorgeous cover designed by Deranged Doctor. And thank you to everyone who participated in the social media cover reveal this weekend.
     
    Preorder it here.
  3. Editing  More client edits and edits for Leap this week. :)
  4. The S-word  No, I don't mean spring, though I wish I did. I'd like snow if it was warm and melted within a few hours. ;) We're getting two storms this week and I'm not thrilled.
  5. Drafting  Because my editing schedule is crazy, I got an idea for another adult romantic suspense. Of course! So I'm literary jotting down snippets of dialogue and scenes while cooking, lying in bed at night, and any other time when I can spare a few minutes.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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38. Into the Fire Cover Reveal!

You know when you see a book cover and it brings tears to your eyes because it's just so perfect? Well, that's how I felt when Limitless Publishing sent me the cover of Into the Fire. Deranged Doctor blew me away. I mean this is Cara. Right down to the freaky red streaks she has in her hair and her sapphire eyes. And that Phoenix emblem! Oh wait…you haven't seen it yet! ;)

Okay, check out the GORGEOUS new cover!




In one month’s time, seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman will die and be reborn from her own ashes…

Her life of secrecy has never been easy. She’s watched her younger brother, Jeremy, burn and rise again in a coming-of-age process called rebirth. And just like her brother, when her time comes, she won’t remember anything from her first life other than she’s a Phoenix—a member of a small group of people descended from the mythical Phoenix bird.

The last thing she needs to worry about is falling for the new guy in town—Logan Schmidt.

Cara is drawn to Logan in a way she can’t explain, but she’s not exactly complaining. Everything is perfect…except it’s not. Once she’s reborn, she’ll forget Logan. And to make things worse, a Phoenix Hunter is on the loose, and Cara’s involvement with Logan is bringing out her Phoenix qualities—the very qualities that will draw the Hunter right to her.

Desperate times call for desperate measures…

Afraid of hurting Logan, Cara breaks it off for good. But her attraction to him runs deeper than a typical high school crush. She wants him—needs him. And if he proves willing to stay by her side, their love might destroy them both.


Can Cara hide from the Phoenix Hunters long enough to survive her rebirth? And if so, will it mean a new beginning with Logan—or the beginning of the end?


So, what do you think? I can't tell you how much time I've spent staring at this cover. The book is now up on Goodreads, so you can add it to your shelf here. Want the book to arrive on your Kindle on release day? Preorder it here NOW.

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39. Writer Wednesday: Into the Fire Street Team Revealed!



Applications have been carefully reviewed and the official Into the Fire street team has been selected. Before I share the list of people who made the team, let me just say that this experience was very surreal for me. I was amazed at how many people submitted applications and how excited people were at the prospect of being selected. I want to thank everyone who applied, and know that even if you weren't selected (because we committed to only taking 20 people to keep the group small—and I still took one extra because narrowing down this list was SO hard!), you made my day and have my gratitude for wanting to help me promote this series.

Okay, without further ado, here is the official Into the Fire street team!

Keren Hughes ~ Gothic Angel Book Reviews
Jennifer Helms ~ @JenBibiHelms 
Shieka Doctor ~ Doctor's Notes
Stephanie Belden ~ @smbmar 
Veray Carter ~ @pinkladyroses 
Michelle Willms ~ Michelle Willm's Blog
Janera Holt ~ Booknut101: Once Upon a Time
FSMeurinne ~ Book Enticer
Rachel Andrews ~ Rachel's Book Reviews
Elizabeth Thiele ~ Crazii Bitches Blog
Maghon Thomas ~ Happy Tails and Tales
Jessica Porter ~ Crossroad Reviews
Denise Cayetano ~ I Am Shelfless
Beth Consugar ~ @eaconsugar
Stephanie Faris ~ Stephanie Faris
Kat Romeo ~ Living in a Fictional Reality
G. Donald Cribbs ~ G. Donald Cribbs Books
Kristen Chandler ~ Shelf_Life
Rachel Gunter ~ Bookish Wonderland
Ashley Kemp ~ Mama Reads
Brie Chelton ~ @Chapter_Break

Some of these amazing people have supported my other books and some are completely new to me, but they are all equally incredible for wanting to be part of this series. I thank them all immensely.

First up for promo of Into the Fire is the cover reveal happening this Saturday through Monday. And guys, it's so GORGEOUS!!!!! I can't wait for you to see it. So, that means my usual Friday Feature post will actually be on Saturday so I can share the cover. Be sure to stop back on Saturday. :)

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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40. Monday Mishmash 2/1/16


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Editing  January was a crazy editing month for me. If I told you how many books I edited and proofed, you'd probably think I discovered the secret to utilizing all 24 hours in each day. I'm still not sure how I did it. February isn't quite as packed, but it's still booked.
  2. Into the Fire Special Dates  February 6th is my cover reveal for Into the Fire. February 16th is release day. AND February 22 begins my blog tour. I see massive amounts of hazelnut coffee and dark chocolate in my future. ;)
  3. Reading  I've been combining reading time with exercise time, which really helps. I have to run on a treadmill thanks to my sciatica, so I read my Kindle while running. I've also gotten used to the Kindle reading to me on the highest speed, which makes me fly through books.
  4. Revising  Last week I managed to revise two of my own books in addition to editing. I feel really good about getting to work on some of my own projects in addition to all the editing I'm doing for clients and Leap Books.
  5. Monroe County Book Expo  I signed up for the Monroe County Book Expo on April 16th. I'll be there with ALL my Kelly Hashway titles and Ashelyn Drake titles. I'm hoping to have copies of the entire Into the Fire trilogy too, but the last book (Up In Flames) releases just days before, so we'll see.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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41. Friday Feature: The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow (Review)



Fear Not the Unexpected.  


Eleven-year-old Fairday Morrow is less than thrilled that her family is moving thousands of miles from civilization to the quiet country town of Ashpot, Connecticut, where she’s absolutely certain she’ll die of boredom. 


As if leaving New York City and her best friend, Lizzy, the only other member of the elite Detective Mystery Squad (DMS), weren’t bad enough, Fairday is stuck living in the infamous Begonia House, a creepy old Victorian with dark passageways, a gigantic dead willow tree, and a mysterious past. 


Before she can even unpack, strange music coming from behind a padlocked door leads Fairday up a spiral staircase and into a secret room, where an ancient mirror, a brass key, and a strange picture of a red-haired lady are the first in a series of clues that takes the members of the Detective Mystery Squad on an amazing adventure. 

For the first time ever, I'm bringing in someone to help me review this book. My eight-year-old daughter, Ayla, and I read this book together, so I figured it only made sense to review it together too. So here are our thoughts on The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow.

We loved the mystery right from the start with the old newspaper article. The Begonia House really came alive for us. Ayla loved how the noises from the house and the woman who made an appearance in Fairday's room were really creepy. It really made her want to know what was going to happen next, so much so that we read the book in just three days. Without giving away spoilers, we'll just say that we really enjoyed how the setting came to life, adding to the mystery and excitement of the story. Ayla also would like a pair of those magical ruby sneakers. ;) Overall, this is a fast-paced mystery with just enough creepiness to draw readers in and hold their attention to the very last page. It's also a great story about friendship, both old and new.

Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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42. Writer Wednesday: Handling Conflicting Feedback

Today's Writer Wednesday topic comes from Mirka Breen. She wants to know how you approach contradictory feedback on your WIP.

If you're getting feedback on your work, you're doing the right thing as far as taking measures to improve your manuscript. But that doesn't mean it will be easy. Getting contradictory feedback from beta readers, agents, or even editors can throw you for a loop. If this happens, there are two things you should do.

First, remember that reading is subjective. If the feedback is about something that could be personal preference, then there is likely no need to fix it. If one reader doesn't like a character quirk or the way a character handled a situation, then that's reader preference, not necessarily something you did wrong as the author. Similarly, if a reader hates that you ended with a cliffhanger, that's personal preference again. I happen to love cliffhangers. ;) So basically this kind of feedback is preparing you for future reviews and how different readers will have different reactions to your book. There's nothing wrong with that.

The second thing you should do is look at the feedback and decide if you agree or not. It's YOUR book. Let me repeat that. It's YOUR book. You know the world and the characters best. If you feel you did what is best for your book and only one person questioned it, you're fine. Now, if you reflect on that feedback and think there's a possibility that reader is right, then you should try making adjustments and seeing if those adjustments improve the story. They just might.

So really, you have to decide what feedback you listen to and what feedback you chalk up to personal opinion.

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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43. Monday Mishmash 1/25/16


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Scholastic Book Fair  I'm working the book fair at my daughter's school this week. I always love getting to browse all the books, and I'm the crazy woman who has to fix the shelves because series are never together.
  2. Editing  My editing schedule is packed! I'm booking for the summer already.
  3. Into the Fire Cover Reveal  If you'd like to sign up for the cover reveal, which is a social media blitz (so you don't need to have a blog), you can do so here. It will run February 6th-8th.
  4. Into the Fire Street Team  If you haven't been able to apply for the INTO THE FIRE street team but you want to, I'm extending applications until 1/28 due to the demand! You can apply here.
  5. Reading  Even though my editing schedule is busier than ever, I've kept to my 2016 goal of making time to read. I've read some great books lately too.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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44. Friday Feature: Omen Operation by Taylor Brooke


After an epidemic spreads through the country, Brooklyn Harper’s high school years come to an abrupt end.
Implanted in a rural camp, Brooklyn and her friends are cut off from their families and the outside world. Each day is filled with combat training to assure their safety against the crazed, belligerent, and deadly— those infected with a mysterious virus.
If the world couldn’t get any crazier, a letter ups the insanity…
After being assured day after day that the world outside their little camp had been compromised, Brooklyn’s cabin-mate, Dawson Winters, finds a letter that turns everything they’d known upside down. There is a world outside the trees that surrounds their camp, and the virus they’d all come to fear seems non-existent.
Determined to see it herself, Brooklyn plots with others to attempt an escape…
On the outside, Brooklyn finds the world is as normal as ever. But when they are attacked in the city, they dispose of their attackers far more efficiently than any normal human. Is there more to Brooklyn and her friends then just being highly trained?
As their exploration continues, the group is faced with impossible feats. Betrayal, love, death, and a powerful sense of camaraderie lead Brooklyn and her friends to fight for their life, their freedom, and most of all, each other. 
Omen Operation will be available on Amazon for pre-order: 1/16/2016
It will be available for purchase through Amazon and Barnes and Noble: 1/26/2016


Taylor Brooke is the author of the upcoming sci-fi adventure trilogy The Isolation Series. She started out as a freelance makeup artist, and quickly discovered her love of elves, zombies, mermaids, kaiju, and monsters of all kinds. After receiving eight professional certifications in special effects makeup, working on countless projects, and fleshing out a multitude of fantastical creatures, she turned her imagination back to her one true love- books. Taylor has had a knack for writing since she was a little girl, and received recognition for her skills throughout grade school and junior college. When she’s not nestled in a blanket typing away on her laptop, she can be found haunting the local bookstore with a cup of steaming hot tea in her hands, scanning the shelves for new reads, or hiking one of the many mountains that surround her home of Bend Oregon.

Twitter: @Taysalion
Instagram: @Taysalion

Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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45. Monday Mishmash 1/11/16


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Blues Bones Cover Reveal Signups  Signups are now open for the cover reveal for Blues Bones by Rick Starkey. This is the first book I acquired through Leap Books Seek and it's amazing. You can sign up here
  2. Curse of the Granville Fortune Cover Reveal  I'll be revealing the NEW cover of Curse of the Granville Fortune on Friday right here on my blog. Stay tuned!
  3. Editing  I'm editing for Leap Books Seek and my own clients this week. Last week I posted that I have a lot of edits on my plate and jokingly asked people on FB to send me dark chocolate, and the very sweet Beth Consugar showed up at the Pocono Writers Conference with dark chocolate for me. :) How nice is that?
  4. Pocono Writers Conference  I had a great time at the conference yesterday and I got to meet Megan Erickson, a fellow Corvisiero Literary Agency author, and Veronica Park, a Corvisiero Literary Agent. I also bought one of Megan's books. 
    Megan Erickson and me with her book Make It Count

    Megan Erickson, Veronica Park, and me (Veronica was talking when the picture was snapped, but all three pictures we took came out exactly the same. Sorry, Veronica! You still look lovely.)
  5. Big Announcement!  If you are a newsletter subscriber, you will hear my big announcement today, and if you are a Kelly's Coven member, you heard the announcement last week. Everyone else will hear it on Wednesday right here. Come back to find out the big news!
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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46. Writer Wednesday: A BIG Announcement!


Have you heard the big news? I’m announcing a brand new street team! This street team is NOT a Kelly Hashway or an Ashelyn Drake street team, but rather a street team for the Into The Fire trilogy! The first book, Into The Fire, has gotten a gorgeous new cover to match the second two books in the series, and it is being re-released with heavy edits. That means, it’s basically a new book!  What better time to get you guys involved than with the re-release of the first book?




Here are the details:

Only 20 members will be chosen. This means you will be part of a very elite group of bloggers/reveiwers, and readers alike.

It’s vital you understand you’re accepting the time commitment that comes with it.
While I want you to have fun, I’m choosing a very select group of people so that:
1. You’re able to form close bonds with each other
2. We’re able to get you better exclusives - in the form of ARCs, special edition swag, and being able to hang out” virtually with me.

The number one goal (and something you *must* do to be a member) is to agree to post your *honest and unbiased* review during release weeks!

There will be other tasks as well - that aren’t requirements - but that will be highly encouraged (and rewarded).

You can apply here: http://goo.gl/forms/cM0XD961ZC or below:
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*** Important *** 
The app will close on January 21st, so make sure you get your application in before that day. Once the application closes, there will be no exceptions to allow you to fill it out, as my social media manager and I need time to sort through the responses and pick the team. We hope to have a team together by January 25th, but please be patient with us as we sort through the applications.

Thank you!

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47. Friday Feature: Curse of the Granville Fortune Cover Revamp


If you subscribe to my newsletter, then you know I took my rights back for my middle grade trilogy Curse of the Granville Fortune. I'm not going to go into why I did this, but I will say I think I'm doing what's best for my books. That's all that really matters, right?

Well, since I didn't have rights to my previous cover, I hired True Poison to create a new cover for me, and I love it. It's spooky, but not too spooky. It's a middle grade read after all. ;) So here's the new cover and the updated blurb because this book has been revamped. I got to work with one of my favorite editors to make the story even better. And you won't have to wait long to get your hands on it because it will be re-releasing very soon!


Twelve-year-old J.B.’s visions leave him sweaty, lightheaded, and certain he’s turning into a freak—or worse, going insane.
 
The visions stem from a family curse. An ancestor stole the Granville fortune, and now J.B.’s entire family will suffer. To break the curse, J.B. must find and return the Granville’s stolen property.
 
But he’s not the only one searching for the treasure. His journey leads to a dark forest where he’ll battle his worst fears. And when he meets two others who share the missing pieces of his visions and suffer from the same curse, the three soon realize they need to work together to break the curse before it's too late.

I wanted two things for this cover. First, I wanted the background to really pop. The setting IS a character in the story, so I wanted it featured on the cover. Second, I wanted silhouettes because kids like to picture themselves as the characters. So I got exactly what I wanted, and I'm thrilled.

Stay tuned for the announcement of when the book is available in ebook and print.

Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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48. Monday Mishmash 1/18/16


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Curse of the Granville Fortune  I'm putting the finishing touches on the revamped Curse of the Granville Fortune this week. My hope is to have this book out the first week in February. If you missed the cover reveal on Friday, here's the new cover:
  2. Into the Fire Street Team  Only a few more days to apply to be part of the Into the Fire Street Team. The application closes on January 21, so get yours in now. Apply here.
  3. Editing  I'm working my way through my January edits. How I booked so many this month is beyond me, but so far so good. 
  4. Martin Luther King Jr. Day  My daughter is home today since it's a holiday. We're reading two Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and studying for math tests she has this week.
  5. Seeking Questions  I haven't gotten any requests for Writer Wednesday topics in a while, so what do you want to know about being on the other side of the editing desk? Pick my brain, people. ;) I'm willing to share tips from my editorial desk at Leap, so ask away.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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49. Writer Wednesday: Decoding the Positive Rejection

On Monday, Fi Phillips was nice enough to suggest a topic for this week's Writer Wednesday. Here's Fi's question:

If you keep getting your book back from agents saying that it's great, they enjoyed reading it, keep sending it out, but it's not for them (with the additional phrase that it's all subjective), does that mean that the book isn't good enough or simply that I haven't found the right agent yet?

The hardest thing about a rejection like this one is that it means exactly what it says. You're doing everything right, except finding the right agent. This is actually a good rejection to get, but it can break your heart too. What you should take from this is that someone (maybe more than one agent) likes your work. That's a good thing. The problem is, and I can say this from experience as an acquisitions editor, you need to find the person who loves your book as much as you do. I read a lot of good manuscripts. I'm only open to agented submissions right now, so these manuscripts got the attention of agents. That must mean they're pretty good, right? Yes, but it doesn't mean I'll love them.

Me, specifically. I read each book I work on countless times. I have to still love it after I've poured over each word and practically memorized the book. If I don't, I can't work on it. An agent is much the same. They have to love your book so much they'll cry if they don't get to work with you on it. (Okay, maybe not cry, but you know what I mean.)

So this rejection means just what it says. You're doing everything right. You wrote a great book. Now find that agent who loves it as much as you do. He or she is out there somewhere.

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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50. Friday Feature: The Packing House by G. Donald Cribbs

The Packing House Banner 500x200 png
Paperbacks & Wine is pleased to bring you G. Donald Cribbs- THE PACKING HOUSE virtual book tour January 18-31.
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Title: THE PACKING HOUSE
Author: G. Donald Cribbs
Publisher: Booktrope
Publication Date: 1/18/16
Pages: 261
Genre: YA
~Blurb~
When sixteen-year-old Joel Scrivener has a raging nightmare in study hall and someone records it on their phone, he awakens to a living nightmare where everyone knows the secret he's avoided for ten years. Reeling from a series of bullying incidents posted on YouTube and an ill-timed mid-year move, Joel takes to the woods, leaving the bullies and his broken home behind. However, life as a runaway isn’t easy. Joel finds it difficult to navigate break-ins, wrestle hallucinations, and elude capture. He races to figure out who his dream-world attacker could be, piecing clues together with flashes of remembered images that play endlessly inside his head. Besides these images, the one constant thought occupying Joel’s mind is Amber Walker, the girl he’s been in love with for years. Amber sees little beyond the broken boy Joel has become, despite the letters they’ve written back and forth to each other. But Joel is stronger and more resilient than he looks, and it’s time he convinces Amber of this fact, before he runs out of chances with her for good.

Find out more about THE PACKING HOUSE on Amazon, Goodreads 

gdonaldcribbs author G. Donald Cribbs has written and published poetry and short stories since high school. Donald is a graduate of Messiah College in English and Education, and is currently a graduate student in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. He and his wife and four boys reside in central Pennsylvania where the author is hard at work on his next book, tentatively titled, UNPACKING THE PAST, the sequel to his debut novel, THE PACKING HOUSE (2016), by Booktrope Editions. Having lived and traveled abroad in England, France, Belgium, Germany, China and Thailand (you can guess where he lived and where he visited), the author loves languages and how they connect us all. Coffee and Nutella are a close second. Find out more on G. Donald Cribbs: on Amazon, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter and www.gdonaldcribbs.com 
  


Excerpt:

At the bell, I head to study hall, my last class. There's a substitute today. Cell phones come out. Someone has their iPod up way too high. In a way, I feel sorry for the sub; as a job, it has to be right up there with garbage collector. I prop a book between me and my backpack then close my eyes, which have been slamming shut all day.

The next thing I know, the substitute is standing over me, his hand on my shoulder, shaking me awake. Someone sniggers nearby.

“Wake up, young man. There's no sleeping in study hall.”

Pushing my glasses back into place, I look up and try to get my eyes to adjust and stay open; I blink a few times and look around wildly. What an idiot. I even forgot where I was for a moment. A flush of warmth starts at my ears and neck before sliding across my cheeks.

“All right, I'm up.”

Whispers erupt in various places around me as I sit up and rub my eyes. Someone laughs. My desk is askew. Something smells bad. Sulfur. Odd… the realization hits me hard.

A female voice remarks, “If I were him, I'd be totally embarrassed!”

“What's your name?” the substitute asks quietly.

“Joel Scrivener.”

The substitute leans down. “Joel? You might want to speak with a counselor about those dreams.”

“What do you mean?”

He leans closer, lowers his voice. “You kept saying, ‘get off me, stop touching me, get off me,' over and over.”

He gives me what he must think is a reassuring smile. Then he leaves.

The only thing worse than getting caught asleep in study hall: getting caught asleep andcrying out from a bad dream in study hall.

There's more whispering, but this time it crackles nearby. A recording—presumably of me—replays the sound of me jerking around in my chair, desk legs scraping against the floor, then “Get OFF me!” and “Stop TOUCHING meeee!”

The bell rings.

Down the hallway, students gather in odd clumps, skittering away from me like I'm the monster. A cacophony of whispers follows a chorus of aborted cackles; I hear my voice playing over and over, like my life jammed on repeat. I'm too stunned to reply, even when Shampoo Girl, who rides my bus, tries to stop me. I'm not good with names. We move too much for them to matter. This girl is heavyset, plain, with nice hair. I like how it smells if I sit behind her on the bus. Shampoo Girl. She's one of the few I've caught glaring at my attackers when I'm dropped into the lunchroom trashcan or tripped with an armful of books between classes. She hasn't said anything to my attackers, like that punk from Algebra II, but her quiet defiance is at least reassuring. Not that I've thanked her or acknowledged her for that.

“Joel? Joel, are you okay?” I definitely don't deserve her sympathy; instead, I look back down the hall.

My own brother Jonathan is with his swim team posse and says, “I can't believe you dudes got this,” before he sees me.

“Izzat rilly yer bro, man?” asks a blond-haired skater-punk friend of Jonathan's, pointing at his cellphone. They must be watching the video of me from study hall just like everyone else. Man, that traveled fast. On the far end, cackling like a fiend, my brother Jonathan laughs at his best friend Elias’ reaction, who is doubled over and turning purple. Skaterdude is on this end, sputtering and waving his arms like he’s imitating me from the video. Between the other two is Elias. God, I hate him sometimes. Why does he stick his nose where it doesn't belong?

“You still owe me a fiver for the Terror Bet,” Jonathan says, slapping the back of his hand on Skaterdude's chest. He should've kept our energy drink bet private, between the two of us, but instead I imagine he thought he'd impress his posse and make a few bucks. So he bet off me, did he? Jonathan looks up and sees me staring right at him. He tosses up two fingers after bouncing them off his chest like a salute to his homies, although I'm clearly not one of them. I'm just his loser brother.

It doesn't matter.

He's right. Jonathan must think of me as another one of his casualties just like him. I'm a cast-off, like Terror Man, my mother's latest boyfriend. To Jonathan, Terror Man and I are just accessories on his social status climb. Even after our most recent beating for touching the shrine of Terrors, Jonathan dared me to try to steal one without getting caught. I thought he was just looking out for me since I haven’t been sleeping much, but I guess I was wrong. If I can't tell the difference between someone being nice or using me, I wonder how I will ever fix things with Amber Walker, the only girl I've ever wished was more than friends.

No turning back now. My social life is officially over. I wonder how long it will take until everyone hears, and probably sees, a cell phone clip of my nightmare.

Only I can't wake up from this one.

***

I don't plan to collapse on my frameless mattress late that night. By the time I'm fully out.., I'm already drifting down a vaguely familiar set of stone stairs, before I realize the déjà vu—at first a cold tingle then a white-hot shudder that seeps down my spine. As it dissipates, I continue down, despite the thrumming in my ears.

Firelight dapples across shadowed walls near the bottom. Cold air gusts past, chills me until my teeth rattle, and almost blows out the torches. The room opens to the right, but I can't see around the corner.

As I step into the guttering light, I'm knocked on my face so fast I barely get my hands out to break my fall. I gasp for breath beneath this tremendous weight. There's no getting away. Sharp pain bursts along my ribs.

From its grip, I get a twinge in my spine, sharp stings that shoot up my back and spread out across both shoulder blades. Whatever is behind me is huge. Its hulking mass presses me down into the ground. I sure as hell don't dare move.

“C'mere, Joel!” the deep voice snarls against my ear.

***

I wake up.

Sometimes I wake screaming. How does it know my name? My mother has found me a few times that way; about as comforting as getting caught jerking off under blankets.

When she finds me like that, I roll toward the wall and mumble about a bad dream. I'll be fine. Go back to bed. Please don't ask any more. I'll never live this down if my mother holds my hand and chases away some boogeyman. I've got to figure this out. Better to man-up than be labeled a loser. At least Jonathan's still asleep. I don't need him betraying me any further.

If I could, I'd squeeze my eyes shut and will myself back to sleep. What if that thing is there? The stone stairs. The horrible, personal things it says. The sweat-rot stench of sulfur. I'd rather stare at the blurry ceiling all night. Besides, questions begin to swirl, threatening to keep me awake indefinitely. There's at least three hours until it's time to get up for school. I might have a test. Better not think too much.

Next thing I know, it's light; the roof of my mouth is sandpapery, I've got rank morning breath, and, if I don't get to the bathroom right now, I'm going to have a waterbed for sure.

I have to limp my way there, momentarily forgetting about our lecture at the hands of Terror Man last night. I don’t like him. He’s always in our faces. Always trying to prove what a man he is when he slams us against the wall or some shit.

He’s nice enough when he’s not railing on Jonathan and me for drinking his Terrors.

As I find relief in the bathroom, I start to wonder about this latest nightmare. Then I grab a shower, wincing when the tender spots in my back come under the flow. Maybe I should've let Jonathan take the brunt of it all, since he made the bet, but I couldn't live with myself if I hadn't intervened. I thought he was gonna kill Jonathan this time. What a nightmare. Which reminds me: I've got too many memory gaps to make sense of it all. I need to figure out their source. The root cause.

It's not for lack of trying.

I've scoured every book on nightmares I can find. One said the mind is a strange muscle that remembers every ache. Nightmares are a way we revisit each painful experience, circling back to make sense of what happened. That still doesn't explain how the creature knows me well enough to snarl my name. Is it someone I know? I glance at the clock. No time to dwell; the bus'll be here any minute. Time to get dressed and head downstairs.

My mother is at work, and Jonathan went in on the early bus for swim team. I grab breakfast and ibuprofen and then head for the street corner. My hand lands on the last two cans in my backpack. I'd forgotten all about the Terrors. Jonathan. I'd toss them back in the fridge if I weren't already at the bus stop.

Might as well. Chugging the first one down, I collect weird looks as I let the burp rip. Jonathan still got pretty roughed up; after all, he dared swipe from the shrine of Terrors on the top shelf of the fridge. Terror Man left no visible marks on me, only bruises, but I doubt Jonathan made it out unscathed. I wonder what Coach said to him this morning.

Was Jonathan trying to set me up? Guarantee a win for his second round of Terror Bets, so he could up the ante? It's never enough with him. Jonathan can't seem to leave well enough alone. Like he has to poke the bear or something. Everyone knows you let a sleeping bear lie. Not him.

The last stragglers come out as the bus pulls up. I'm the new guy. Technically, it's Redhead-Dude-With-Braces-And-Acne's stop.

I must space out the whole ride to school because it feels like only moments later when the bus pulls into the drop-off circle by the Broad Run High School, Home of the Panthers sign. Cheerleaders brush past in uniform, and the football team is sporting jersey hard-ons, strutting as we all press toward the door.

School's a bust. I doze through most of my classes, but at least I overhear that the history test has been moved to next week. Now I just have to make it through English class (easy for me), study hall, and I'm out.

We're reading this book Fahrenheit 451, where Guy Montag is an anti-fireman who burns books for a living. If I could talk some sense into him, maybe he'd lay off the bonfires and help me sort through all the bizarre shit in my brain. Yeah, it's a crazy thought, just like the ones about Amber.

I get flustered when I think of her.

Maybe Montag and I aren't as different from each other as I first thought. We both have problems we're running from. Beatty hunts him down when they catch Montag hoarding books in his air vent. I knew he was a reader. His own wife turns him in. Betrayed by someone that close.Man.

That's what set him off running.

My English teacher makes us write on the salamander or fire lizard. Is it a tattoo or just a uniform logo? I consider writing a story or a poem. According to legend, they're not lizards, which are reptiles. Salamanders are amphibians and have an affinity for fire. They can also regenerate lost limbs and tails. Remind me of an Escher tessellation. Patterns that transform from one thing to another. I should go for extra credit.

Speaking of extra credit, my grades have been nothing but toilet water, they're so flushed. Up until now, I've held tight at honor roll. But, just like that time in the closet with Amber, it, too, was a test I knew I was doomed to fail. Now I can't shake these nightmares. Neither could Montag.

If I don't do something soon, I'll have to repeat my sophomore year. Then I'd be in the same grade as Jonathan. That's reason enough to invoke my previous plan.


Before you go, check out this great a Rafflecopter giveaway - get one of 5 amazing paperbacks referenced in THE PACKING HOUSE: The Packing House (Fahrenheit 451, The Chocolate War, The Outsiders, Catcher in the Rye and To Kill A Mockingbird.) 

*Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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