Writing Tip #1. Words to Avoid

Friday, May 29, 2015
 original post from here: http://referenceforwriters.tumblr.com/post/48884709774/by-chuck-palahniuk-8-words-you-should-avoid-when

8 Words You Should Avoid When Writing
As always, Orwell’s final rule applies: “Break any of these rules before saying anything barbarous.” There are instances where each of these words fills a valuable role. However, especially among inexperienced writers, these words are frequently molested and almost always gum up the works.
1. “Suddenly”
“Sudden” means quickly and without warning, but using the word “suddenly” both slows down the action and warns your reader. Do you know what’s more effective for creating the sense of the sudden? Just saying what happens.
I pay attention to every motion, every movement, my eyes locked on them.
Suddenly, The gun goes off.
When using “suddenly,” you communicate through the narrator that the action seemed sudden. By jumping directly into the action, you allow the reader to experience that suddenness first hand. “Suddenly” also suffers from being nondescript, failing to communicate the nature of the action itself; providing no sensory experience or concrete fact to hold on to. Just … suddenly.
Feel free to employ “suddenly” in situations where the suddenness is not apparent in the action itself. For example, in “Suddenly, I don’t hate you anymore,” the “suddenly” substantially changes the way we think about the shift in emotional calibration.
2. “Then”
“Then” points vaguely to the existing timeline and says, “It was after that last thing I talked about.” But the new action taking place in a subsequent sentence or sentence part implies that much already. You can almost always eliminate your thens without disrupting meaning or flow.
I woke up. Then I, brushed my teeth. Then I, combed my hair. Then I , and went to work.
“Then” should be used as a clarifying agent, to communicate that two seemingly concurrent actions are happening in sequence. For example, “I drove to the supermarket. Then I realized I didn’t need to buy anything.” Without the “then,” it would be easy to mistake this as pre-existing knowledge or as a realization that happened during the drive itself. “Then” can occasionally be useful for sentence flow, but keep the use of the word to a minimum.
3. “In order to”
You almost never need the phrase “in order to” to express a point. The only situation where it’s appropriate to use this phrase is when using “to” alone would create ambiguity or confusion.
I’m giving you the antidote in order to save you. 
And after ten minutes of brainstorming for an example of a proper time to use “in order to,” I haven’t been able to come up with anything. Legitimate uses of “in order to” are just that few and far between.
4. “Very” and “Really”
Words are self-contained descriptors, and saying, “Think of tasty. Now think of more tasty” doesn’t help readers develop a better sense of the meal or person you’re describing.
Her breath was very cold chill as ice against my neck .
Mark Twain suggested that writers could “substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” Another strategy is to find a more powerful version of the same idea or give concrete details. To say “It was very/really/damn hot” does little, but saying “It was scorching” helps. Even better?: “The air rippled like desert sky as my body crisped into a reddened, dried-out husk.”
5. “Is”
Is, am, are, was, or were—whatever form your “is” takes, it’s likely useless. When’s the last time you and your friends just “was’d” for a while? Have you ever said, “Hey, guys, I can’t—I’m busy am-ing”?
The “is” verbs are connecting terms that stand between your readers and the actual description. This is especially true when it comes to the “is” + “ing” verb pair. Any time you use “is,” you’re telling the reader that the subject is in a state of being. Using an “ing” verb tells the audience the verb is in process. By using “is verbing,” you’re telling your audience that the subject is in the state of being of being in the process of doing something.
Take this example:
was sprinting sprinted toward the doorway.
If the description is actually about a state of being—”they are  angry,” “are evil,” or “are dead”—then isit up. But don’t gunk up your verbs with unnecessary is, am, or was-ing.
6. “Started”
Any action a person takes is started, continued, and finished. All three of these can be expressed by the root form of the verb. For example, “I jumped.” The reader who stops in frustration, saying, “But when did the jump start? When did it finish?” has problems well beyond the scope of the content they’re reading.
If you’ve been doing yoga for six years, you could reasonably say, “I started doing yoga six years ago.” For you, yoga is an ongoing action with a concrete starting point. But when describing action in a story, there are few circumstances where “start” is effective.
Let’s take this case and look at the potential fixes:
He started screaming.
Is it a single scream? Use “He screamed.” Are you telling us his screams will be background noise for a while? Rather than clueing us in unnecessarily, show us the series of screams first-hand. Do you want to introduce a changed state, such as escalating from loud speaking into screaming? Show us the decibels, the gruffness of voice, the way the air feels to the person he’s screaming at, and the hot dryness in the screamer’s throat as his volume crescendos.
7. “That”
“That” is a useful word for adding clarity, but like Bibles on the bedstands of seedy motel rooms, the word’s presence is often out of place.
When “that” is employed to add a description, you can almost always move the description to before the term and make a more powerful image.
Ireland was nothing but flowing green hills that flowed green.
In many other cases, “that” can simply be dropped or replaced with a more descriptive term.
I was drunk the night that your father and I met.
Many other uses of “that,” such as “I wish I wasn’t that ugly”, can be enhanced with more descriptive language.
8. “Like”
I’m not just saying that, like, you shouldn’t, like, talk like a valley girl (though that too). Here’s the problem: “Like” is used to show uncertainty. And you. Should. Not. Be. Uncertain.
Be bold. When making a comparison, use force. Use metaphor over simile. Don’t let yourself cop out by coming up with a halfway description.
My eyes rested on the gun for a sliver of a moment. I snapped forward, grabbed it, and it was like the chill metal flowed from the gun into my veins. 
As always, these are GUIDELINESnot rules. - Alex

Tattooed Hearts Cover Reveal

Tattoed Hearts Cover


Title: Tattooed Hearts (Martha's Way, #3)


Author: Mika Jolie


Genre: Contemporary Romance


Release Date: June 29, 2015


Cover Design: Dawne Dominique


Photographer: Taria Reed The Reed Files


goodreads

Synopsis


Being someone first love is unforgettable. Being their last is immeasurable.

Claire Peters should be on top of the world. She owns the radio waves and has a budding movie career. But her heart longs to be rooted. Ten years ago, she fled Martha's Vineyard to pursue her dream and to make something of herself. But there’s still a void. After a decade of running, she returns to the island hoping to find her happiness with the man she’s loved all her life.

When a tragic event shatters Dr. Forrest Desvareaux’ well-balance world, the Vineyard’s hometown good guy discovers everything in his life is based on lies. Angry and betrayed, he turns to Claire - the one woman who has indelibly marked him.

Is it possible to run back to the person who broke you? Forever linked, Forrest and Claire are an unending continuum. But she’s a wildflower and Forrest’s roots run deep on the Vineyard. Can they accept home is not a place but a feeling?

Tattooed Hearts is book 3 of the Martha’s Way series


Excerpt


She knocked on the door and waited. Nothing.

She knocked again, a little firmer this time. Still nothing.

Claire reached in her purse and grabbed her phone. Damn, no freaking signal. Another perk of living on the island. Phone signals were capricious. She turned on her heels to the back of the house where she knew he kept the emergency key, then headed back to the front. The night wind penetrated the wool coat with absurd ease, making her shiver. She drew her shawl around herself more tightly to keep out the cold as she fumbled with the key.

The door slowly creaked open; she stepped inside and was greeted by a muted house, which was not typical of Forrest. She headed down the hall, the click of her heels amplified with each step on the wooden floor. She entered the family room. In here, ESPN always blared in the background. Tonight, there was nothing but an eerie, hollow silence.

A bad feeling slithered up the back of her neck.

She dug in her purse for her phone again. One finger dragged along the screen, it lit up. Still no signal. A knot of fear twisted in her gut.

“Claire.”

The sound of Forrest’s voice, infused with a question mark, caused her heart to jump and fill with joy, relief. She whipped around and faced the main reason she came back to Martha’s Vineyard.


About The Author


Mika




Author of contemporary sensual, empowered romance, with fun relatable characters. Member of Secret Cravings Publishing. I live in New Jersey with what I often refer to as my Happy Chaos or my three men, which comprise of my husband and our two energizer bunnies. When I do have time to breathe, I like to run, hike with my camera at hand, and work on my gardening and knitting skills.

For latest news on my current WIP, interviews with fellow authors, or just to see what I’m up to, check out my blog: http://mikajolie.com/ While there, sign up for my newsletter for latest news and giveaways. No spamming.


The Martha's Way Series


The scale


Need You now



Giveaway



love 2

Forget Tomorrow Cover Reveal

Forget Tomorrow
Release Date: 11/03/15
Entangled Teen

Summary from Goodreads:
Imagine a world where your destiny has already been decided...by your
future self.



It's Callie’s seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else, she's eagerly
awaiting her vision―a memory sent back in time to sculpt each citizen into the
person they're meant to be. A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist.



Or in Callie's case, a criminal.



In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger sister. Before she
can process what it means, Callie is arrested and placed in Limbo―a prison for
those destined to break the law. With the help of her childhood crush, Logan, a
boy she hasn’t spoken to in five years, she escapes the hellish prison.



But on the run from her future, as well as the government, Callie sets in
motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate. If not, she must
figure out how to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all—Callie,
herself. 




Pre-Order Links:


About the Author

When my first-grade teacher asked me what
I wanted to be when I grew up, I replied, “An author.” Although
I have pursued other interests over the years, this dream has never
wavered.


I graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude,
with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. I received my J.D.
at Yale Law School, where I was an editor of the YALE LAW JOURNAL.
I published an article in the YALE LAW JOURNAL, entitled, “How Judges
Overrule: Speech Act Theory and the Doctrine of Stare Decisis,” and received
the Barry S. Kaplan Prize for best paper in Law and Literature.
I am represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House.
I'm a 2012 Golden Heart® finalist and a 2014 double-finalist. I'm a
member of Romance Writers of
America
Washington
Romance Writers
YARWA,
and The Golden
Network
.


I live with my husband and children in Maryland.

Author Links:
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Cover Reveal Organized by:

Dream Caster: Light Blitz

Thursday, May 28, 2015
Dreamcasters: Light Blog Tour


About the Book:

Book Details
Title: Dream Casters: Light
Author: Adrienne Woods
Series: The Dream Caster Series
Publisher: Fire Quill Publishing
Release Date: May 2015
ISBN: 978-0-9946641-2-9

Mr. Sandman, send me a dream, ta da da da…..Seventeen year old Chasity Blake knows the Sandman is just a silly children’s story parents tell their children to get them to sleep. At least she thought it was, until the day a mysterious, light golden sand appeared in her hands during a high school prank that went horribly wrong. A sand that has the power to send anyone it touches into a deep, sound sleep.
Fearing she had lost her mind, Chasity soon discovers the shocking truth of her heritage- she is a Dream Caster. Chasity was never supposed to be raised on the Domain, or what humans call Earth and she is forced to return to her true birth place, Revera – the world of Dreams.
However, in Revera there is no balance between good, the Light Casters, and darkness, the Shadow Casters, and Chasity is caught square in the middle. She soon learns that there is no place for anyone containing both the light and the darkness within them, and the shocking truth that if anyone in Revera ever discovered her shadow self, Chasity would be thrown into the Oblivion – the world of Nightmares.
Dreams are always more than they seem, and this time Chasity is going to discover just how different they can be.



Author:


Adrienne Woods was born and raised in South Africa, where she still lives with her husband and two beautiful little girls. She always knew she was going to be a writer, but it only started to really happen about four years ago. In her free time―if she gets any because moms don’t really have free time―she loves to spend it with friends, whether it’s a girls night out, or just watching a movie. She’s a very chilled person. Her writing career started with Firebolt, book one in the Dragonian series. There will be four books in total, including a further two to three books, which will be stories that take place within the Dragonian series. Her other series, Dream Casters, will be released mid 2015. She also writes in different genres, and her woman’s fiction, The Pregnancy Diaries, will be published under a pseudonym. And then, she has a paranormal series by the name of the Aswang series, which will consist of about ten novels. And if that wasn’t enough, there is another series, Guardians of Monsters, which will be released in 2016.


Author’s Links


Excerpt:
Dogs could always see them, where humans couldn’t. He had always assumed the dust worked differently for animals. He used to toy with them, he’d told Zac once it was a good work out, before hitting them with a dose of dust that would kick them out for at least half a day. Against these hounds, however, his golden dust didn’t just put them to sleep, it put them to sleep forever.
“Take my bag,” Graig spoke softly reaching out his had.
“I’m not leaving you, I can fight.”
“These are your family. It’s enough that you have to know that they will die, I’m not going to let you kill them.”
“I don’t give a shit, Graig. You are my family now, you and bean, nobody else.”
Graig smiled. Ever since they’d found out that she was pregnant, she’d called the fetus, bean. Spinning her in his arms, he gave her a hard kiss and handed her a celestian, an oval shaped gel pendant that would take her and the child to their save haven, incase he didn’t make it, and a small green bag filled with his dust. “Just in case,” he spoke, swallowing the lump in his throat.
“There is no incase, you make it, you hear?”
She planted a hard passionate kiss on his lips. The kind that filled him with confidence, he had no doubts not even in that second that would have given away their hiding place.
“Vinicola, are you sure you want to do this?” One of the Shadow Casters mounted on the back of a hound growled. His voice made Graig’s skin crawl. Everything about them screamed the word evil. How that power ran through this beautiful creature standing fiercely next to him, was beyond his knowledge.
Graig surveyed the Caster before him. His hair was wild, hung to his shoulders, and was pure white, just like his love. He must be her family, but how close he didn’t know. Yet, the man didn’t look anything like her. He was big, brought shoulders, and dirty.
Vinicola laughed, the one that Graig hated. It didn’t sound anything like her, but it was the only language she knew to speak, a sound that told them if they killed her, they would feel her father’s wrath. This was purely a retrieval mission for her, but a wipe out for him. “Sibian, you can tell him I’m done with Oblivion, and nothing you do will ever drag me back to that wretched hell hole you love so much.”
“Your mind seems a bit clouded, dear,” the Shadow Caster said. “Let me refresh it.” He lifted up his hands and let his dust flow freely, and four more Shadow Hounds appeared out of his dark sand.
Graig whipped his bow from his shoulder and started to shoot invisible arrows that would take shape through his golden dust.
The hounds that were hit fell into useless heaps of black sand. Vinicola ripped of her whip that had been securely around her waist, and did the same. The other hounds exploded into the sky, but they weren’t destroyed, they would reemerged a couple of minutes later, whole once again.
It was useless for her to fight, she only gave him a couple of minutes as she was still one of them, even though she’d made the choice to leave in her heart.
Graig made sure he used all of the minutes she gave him and when it was time for the full on fight, they both took on two at a time.
He conjured his sword for full on battle and started slashing away.
“Graig!” Vinicola’s voice yelled in panic. When he found her she was captured, with a huge Shadow Caster’s arm around her neck.
In those few seconds he felt defeated, their plan was ruined and he knew he wouldn’t get a second chance with her.
As he stood there, an ax hit him straight in the back, the dark sand ripping his veins inside his body apart. It hurt like hell, and he could feel his golden sand starting to seep out of him. Vinicola’s shrill scream pierced the night air around them. 
He wasn’t going to survive this, but he’d made the choice for the love of his life and their unborn child.
He took a celestian out of his pocket, stood up with a mother of an ax inside of him and mustered all the strength he had. He had only moments to act before the others would come, or worse take her away.
He threw the celestian hard on the ground near her feet and yelled the word “San Francisco” as loud as he could. In an instant, a bright light blinded all the Shadow Casters and he watched her close her eyes tightly. 
She knew what to do and he watched as she, and the Shadow Caster who had his arm around her neck, disappeared.
The Shadow Caster would die. His DNA wasn’t attached to the celestian, and he wouldn’t make the trip. He had won. Just then another object sliced through his neck and he fell on the floor, the last images he saw was a body without a head before everything went black.

Bonus Excerpt:
A mixture of cologne over powered me as the four guys stood really close to me. Their hands touching my arms and clothes.
Then I saw the grit in my hands again. It was soft, not like sand, and it had a light golden color to it.
At once the slow motion stopped and I threw a handful of the stuff, hitting Mark full in the face. He crouched and tried to get it out his eyes. I felt more sand in my hand and Jake was next. I didn’t know where it came from or how any of this was even possible, but right now that didn’t matter. As I threw a handful at each and every one of them, a refill was waiting patiently in my palm.
Derek was next and before I knew it, all the boys were coughing and crouching down. Then one by one they fell over, in a fetus position with eyes closed and soft snores coming from their lips. 
Clare and Ty ran to the guys and crouched down. Ty felt for a heartbeat, but from the sound coming from their lips I knew they were still alive. I waited for men with cameras to jump out from behind the trees, yelling GOT YOU or something but it didn’t happened.
The fear on both Ty and Clare’s faces were real.
“What did you do?” Ty yelled.
“Nothing they didn’t deserve!” I yelled back hoping he would just back the hell off.
“You’re a freak!” Clare yelled, and stormed at me. More sand accumulated in my hand, but to me, she was still my best friend, one whose mind had been closed by the idiot that was busy running away.
I opened my palm and let the grit fall to the floor. A breeze picked it up and blew it softly into Clare’s face.
She stopped in her tracks, give a huge yawn and lay down on the ground.
Was she sleeping? 
I looked at my hands. The grit was gone, there weren’t even traces of it inside my palm, nothing made sense.
“Just go,” Nichole said as she crouched down next to Clare to investigate.
I stood still as a statue trying to process what was happening to me.
“Chasity!” Nichole yelled again. “Go!” 
I  looked down at Nichole. My legs finally started to move into the direction of home, and grabbed my backpack that had fallen on the turf.
I reached the city of Chicago fast and almost ran into a police office that was chatting to one of the waiters. Guilt over what I’d just done was evident on my face so I ran in another direction.
“Hey, you there, stop!” He yelled.
 I didn’t listen and he chased me for a couple of blocks but he had probably had one too many donuts on a daily base and couldn’t keep up. I took so many turns down back alleys that when I finally stopped I had no idea where I was.
I breathed hard, trying to catch my breath and looked back at my hands. The was still no trace of the grit. It had just vanished. My heart beat fast again and cold sweat dripped from my temple as flashes of ogre-like bodies, almost the entire football team, falling down right after I threw the grit at them came to mind. Coach was not going to like this, and how was I going to explain any of it to anybody?
What the hell did I just do? I glanced at my hands one more time. What the hell was happening to me?



Giveaway:
$10 Amazon Gift Card
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Library Jumpers Cover Reveal

Library Jumpers
Release Date: January 2016
Entangled Teen

Summary from Goodreads:
Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That
is, until Arik, a leather clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly
disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia
unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and
transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical
knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the
gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound.
Jumping into some of the world's most beautiful libraries would be a
dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or
dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds.
Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard,
and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik's world and
her own, before both are destroyed.




Pre-Order Links:




About the Author

Brenda Drake, the youngest of three children, grew up
an Air Force brat and the continual new kid at schooluntil
her family settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Brenda’s fondest memories growing up is
of hereccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her
a strong love for storytelling. So it was onlyfitting that she would choose to write young adult and middle grade novels with
a bend toward thefantastical. When Brenda’s not writing or doing the social media thing, she’s haunting libraries,
bookstores,and coffee shops or reading someplace quiet and not
at all exotic (much to her disappointment).



Author Links:
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Cover Reveal Organized by:

The Cactus Creek Book Sale

Wednesday, May 27, 2015
The Cactus Creek series got a small face lift!! To celebrate author Violet Duke has put the entire series on SALE for this week only!  75% off (99 CENTS ea.) all 4 books. This is the first sale for Books 2 & 4 so grab 'em while you can!


LOVE, CHOCOLATE, AND BEER [Luke & Dani] 
99¢ Amazon = http://amzn.to/1BpOL4r
99¢ B&N = http://bit.ly/ChocolateBeer_BN 
99¢ iBooks = http://bit.ly/ChocolateBeer_iTunes 
99¢ Google = http://bit.ly/ChocolateBeer_GooglePlay 
99¢ Kobo = http://bit.ly/ChocolateBeer_Kobo


LOVE, DIAMONDS, AND SPADES  [Rylan & Quinn] 
99¢ Amazon = http://amzn.to/1Kpyod9
99¢ B&N = http://bit.ly/DiamondsSpades_BN 
99¢ iBooks = http://bit.ly/DiamondsSpades_iTunes
99¢ Google = http://bit.ly/DiamondsSpades_GooglePlay
99¢ Kobo = http://bit.ly/DiamondsSpades_Kobo


LOVE, TUSSLES, AND TAKEDOWNS [Hudson & Lia] 
99¢ Amazon = http://amzn.to/1POmlgs
99¢ B&N = http://bit.ly/TusslesTakedowns_BN 
99¢ iBooks = http://bit.ly/TusslesTakedowns_iTunes 
99¢ Google = http://bit.ly/TusslesTakedowns_GooglePlay
99¢ Kobo = http://bit.ly/TusslesTakedowns_Kobo


LOVE, EXES, AND OHS [Isaac & Xoey]
99¢ Amazon = http://amzn.to/1KpxBJe
99¢ B&N = http://bit.ly/ExesOhs_BN
99¢ iBooks = http://bit.ly/ExesOhs_iTunes
99¢ Google = http://bit.ly/ExesOhs_GooglePlay
99¢ Kobo = http://bit.ly/ExesOhs_Kobo


You can find the entire series on it's own Amazon page ... 








Ideal High Book Blitz

Monday, May 25, 2015
Ideal High Banner

Ideal High

Ideal High by Valerie Ipson

Genre: YA contemporary

Published: February 24th, 2015

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25032703-ideal-high
Amazon
Smashwords
Barnes & Noble
There’s no way Taryn’s taking Blake’s place as president of the student body. As soon as the memorial for him and six of their friends is over, she’s resigning as VP. Really.
Except people say the fire was no accident.
(She say it’s way too easy to blame someone who’s dead.)
When Taryn reads the writing on the wall, literally, the bathroom wall, she knows what it means. To get to the truth she has to come out from under her paisley comforter.
But, seriously, what stage of grief says Taryn has to be the one to fix what’s wrong at Ideal High? Maybe she’s the one who’s broken.




About the Author:

Valerie

Valerie Ipson loves her family…and reading, writing, genealogy, and Hershey Milk Chocolate Almond & Toffee Nuggets. She lives in Mesa, Arizona, and IDEAL HIGH is her debut novel. Reading has always been a huge love in her life, but she never thought she’d be on the author side of a book. Valerie hopes she can give readers the same experience that she has enjoyed through the years while being curled up with a good book!

Blog: http://valerieipson.blogspot.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13550563.Valerie_Ipson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/valerieipson



The Excerpt:
Whose idea is it to broadcast the super-size faces of those who died to the far reaches of the school’s auditorium? Everybody knows they’re gone. Why emphasize the obvious even for the sake of a memorial? And why no rain on this joyless day? Never a good Texas thunderstorm when you need one.

I force a glance at the pull-down screen behind me, but immediately turn to focus on the line where the ceiling meets the wall at the back of the room. I can’t bear to look into the crowd, but I can’t look at the screen either. A giant reminder that I will never see those faces again. Weeks of grief have left me numb, but I should have worn my hair down to give me something to hide behind. Just in case.

Light pours in through the ribbon of windows high along the back wall. It crisscrosses the podium, making me squint at the sheet of paper in front of me.

It doesn’t matter. I know the list by heart.

I blink through the glare and lean in to the microphone, not sure how loud I need to be. “Ashley Bannister.”

My voice echoes across the vast room. Plenty loud.

All eyes rivet on the screen and a kid from Drama Club tugs the rope of the school bell slowly and deliberately for maximum effect. It must have taken practice to get a perfect mournful clang.

The audience’s collective gaze swings to my right. To Chelsea standing at a matching podium, staring at her own list. She’s leaning heavy on her crutches, and on the podium, too. She needs both to keep her vertical, apparently. I’m just glad I don’t have to share the same half of the stage with her. As always, I need my distance. That hasn’t changed.

“Weston James Brown.” Chelsea’s lips tighten into a thin line. I’m amazed she gets the name out. The bell sounds again, even more slowly than the first time, and a chorus of sniffles and muffled sobs grows slightly louder.

I measure my breathing and tap my fingers along the edge of the sheet of paper in front of me. I have to keep my hands busy, distracted. Maybe if I keep moving I won’t think too hard about the next name.

I switch to rubbing my palms up and down the sides of my pants. I just can’t look at Kayla’s parents who sit with my mom and dad in the front row. I pause too long and the principal clears his throat behind me. Very cliché, Mr. Myers. Doesn’t he get that this is beyond difficult?

“Kayla … Marie … Carter.” I speak her name to the back wall then take up tapping on the podium again. But not so loud anyone can hear. So much for avoiding the faces on the screen. All that loops through my brain is Kayla’s wide smile.

Quit worrying, Taryn. Blake’s not getting back with Chelsea, Kayla had said that night after the party. I’ll go find him for you and you’ll see I’m right. Then she walked right back into the old Gin Co. building.

Why was I forced to do this? I’m not the one who should be speaking the names of the dead in front of all these people. The list reads like the school’s Who’s Who, and I have no business pretending I’m one of them.

Except for him. How many more names until his? I’d scanned both versions as soon as they were held out to us, snatching the one with his name among those highlighted. Chelsea has no right to it, to him. Not like I do. At least that’s what I tell myself.

The light flickers from behind me, so I know they’ve moved on to the next abnormous face. A face that should be in the yearbook, not on a screen at a memorial.

A moan rises from the second row, competing with the plaintive tones of the bell. Plaintive? Where’d that come from? Now I’m conjuring up junior year Vocab?

One of Chelsea’s crutches bangs against her podium. I can’t help shooting her a sideways glance. She’s still hunched forward. Definitely struggling and the service is just getting started.

Thankfully, I don’t have to maneuver crutches and the names in front of me. Still, I will it to be over. My knotted stomach begs for it, and the fetal-position imprint on my bed is only growing colder. Who knows how long Principal Myers will feel obligated to address the assembled after our part is done?

Chelsea finally speaks, but the name comes out in a hiccupped sob. The noise of a bump, then a scrape carry through the sound system when she adjusts her crutches again.

“Keisha Lambert.” I blurt it out when it’s my turn, afraid to get stuck on a name again. I shut my eyes and try to erase the image that the crowd views behind me. Her exotic-for-small-town, multi-color-ed cornrows and pierced eyebrow, her excitement at being named cheerleader last May.

Chelsea reads the next name, verbally struggling yet again. It’s understandable. She and Becca Martin were closer than sisters.

My throat tightens when I move in closer to the mic, but I’m determined not to lose it like Chelsea. Fixating on the list, I draw in a breath and the amplification of it hits the back wall. I cover my mouth, but it doesn’t hide my embarrassment. The faces of the crowd blur, and all I can see is Blake’s, creased with alarm as flames leap out of the building behind him.

Don’t turn to look at the screen. Say his name, but don’t look at his face. I hesitate, wanting — needing to. Wishing I could ask him the questions that plague me. They all start with “Why?”

Chelsea’s crutches bump and scrape again, sending javelins of adrenaline into the pit of my stomach. I drop both hands onto the podium in front of me. I suddenly need something to hang onto.

Just say it. Say his name loud and strong. He deserves that. My lips brush the microphone and I taste metal.

“Blake Austin Montgomery.”

His name erupts from my mouth and startles the crowd. The hushed crying and sniffling silences for a moment as if proper tribute to the late student body president mandates it.

Ignoring the looks from the audience, I clench the neatly-typed names on the paper into a fist. Relief surges through me now that my part of the program is over.

But it isn’t over, not really. The memorial is only the beginning of what was supposed to be the perfect senior year.

Blake, the object of my years-long crush, and I were a couple. Sort of.

We’d been elected student body officers — president and vice-president. We spent the entire last month of school sitting in homeroom eating doughnuts on the sly, discussing senior year. True, Blake had done most of the talking and me a lot of nodding, but he intended for us to be a couple, right? I was his date to Junior Prom. That has to mean something.

I head to my seat on the stage, avoiding Chelsea’s eyes as the too-tanned blonde hobbles over to drop into the chair next to me. The principal takes my place at the podium on the left.

“I want to thank these ladies for volunteering for this assignment.” He nods in our general direction, before addressing the audience. “As you know, Taryn Young will step into the position of student body president and Chelsea Manor as head of the cheerleading squad.”

Volunteered? Yeah, right. I stare at my shoes, afraid to look anyone in the eyes. I’m on stage by default. I’m the only one of the newly-elected class officers to survive the fire. But more than that I am a fraud. An abnormous fraud. An enormous abnormal fraud.

I would have never run for vice president if Blake hadn’t talked me into it. The position full-out scared me, but how could I turn him down? Ever since that day in homeroom when he first noticed the doughnut glaze on my shirt sleeves, I couldn’t tell the difference between dream and reality anymore. They were the same. Now I wish I could erase the nightmare, or better yet, rewind it all so the night of the Ideal Gin Co. fire never happened.

I squirm in my seat, trying to get comfortable as Mr. Myers’ words buzz through the sound system. No rewinds. No do-overs. Now I sit with the only other survivor of the fire in front of an auditorium full of people with questions. Why Taryn Young, they must be thinking? Why not my son or daughter, my sister or brother? No, just Taryn and Chelsea. A cruel reminder of those who hadn’t made it out alive.

Things like this don’t happen at my school. Not in a town called Ideal, Texas.

I half-listen as the principal begins his concluding remarks. “The first day of class is one week from today and counselors will be available. Line up outside Ms. McKinney’s door, no appointments needed. Our goal is to get things back to normal as quickly as possible. Let’s not forget,” he stresses, “here at Ideal High School we have a long-standing tradition of unity, pride, and respect. This will carry us through.”

I just want to crawl back into bed where only my pillow hears me scream.

“What about my brother?” A masculine voice coming from the side of the stage jars me. From the shadowed steps, the voice addresses the principal again. “You didn’t call out his name. Isn’t he good enough for your program?”

A figure steps into the stage lights. He wears faded jeans and a gray plaid shirt with sleeves rolled up and shirt tails hanging. The thud of cowboy boots punctuates his step as he edges closer to the podium opposite the principal. He’s about my age, and I can’t help noticing the square confidence of his shoulders, despite the pain that ruts his brow.

“My brother died in the fire, too.”

“Who’s that?” hisses Chelsea. She doubles over like she’s in pain, but maybe she’s just trying to get a better look. The same question seems to vibrate across the auditorium.

I fix my eyes on the intruder. I can’t wrap my brain around his claim. I know everyone who was at Ritter’s Crossing that night where the crumbling old cotton gin had stood for a hundred years before the fire destroyed it.

Mr. Myers takes a step toward the young man. “May I help you after the service? We’re almost finished here.”

“You can help me. You can have one of these pretty girls with their expensive clothes and neon-white teeth stand at the microphone and shout out Tim’s name.” The stranger’s voice breaks, but he continues, “He’s important, too, even though no one knows his name.”

“Son, please,” Mr. Myers begins again. “Let’s discuss this afterwards in my office. I’m sure we can clear up any misunderstanding.”

I sense movement among the faculty members sitting on the stage around me, but I don’t take my eyes off the stranger. Mr. Myers seems unruffled, but my mood moves quickly from confusion to irritation. Who is this guy? Who’s his brother?

“Let me do it. Then I’ll leave y’all alone.” He reaches the podium where Chelsea stood moments before. The mic’s movement grates through the sound system when he pulls it to him, and I slide to the edge of my seat. I have to admit, now he’s really got my attention.

“He was my younger brother. My only brother.” The guy turns away from the mic, momentarily pressing his left thumb and index finger to his eyes. Mr. Myers motions for the others to hold back as the young man continues. “Sure he was new, an easy target for bullies. But he was a student here.”

His words are half-whispers now where before he had been practically shouting. “Can’t you say his name? Can’t you give him even that much?”

The guy takes a deep breath. His next words echo across the room, calm and clear. “Timothy Wade Jenks.”

He turns, steps straight to the bell, and grabs the rope. Yanking it, he sends a single deafening bong reverberating across the room. He pauses, head bowed, then disappears down the same steps from which he came, leaving behind a brief, bewildered silence.

As the auditorium door closes behind him, the room erupts into chaos.




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Eight Second Ride Cover Reveal

Saturday, May 23, 2015
COVER REVEAL

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EIGHT SECOND RIDE
Author: Anne Jolin
Series: Willow Bay Stables #2
Genres: Contemporary Romance & Sports Equestrian Romance
~ SYNOPSIS ~
Owen Daniels lives his life eight seconds at a time. The thrill of anticipation that comes with sitting on twelve hundred pounds of untamed power is unparalleled. The adrenaline rush that floods his system when the chute opens is one of life’s most unique and natural highs. 
Ride eight seconds bareback on a bucking bronco—that’s his life.
When Owen’s stock horse, Remington’s Lady, is injured midway through the rodeo circuit, he trailers her back home to Willow Bay, Alberta, to remain in the care of the local vet, Ray Brookes.
Months later, with a truck bed full of buckles, Owen comes home to collect his Lady from the man he trusted to help her recover. Only Ray happens to be short for Rayne, and Rayne happens to be a woman. 
And this woman wants nothing to do with a cowboy fresh off the circuit. As far as she’s concerned, he can take his buckles, boots, and spurs right back on out of her life.
Will Rayne keep them from holding on to their eight-second ride? Or will love buck out of the chute in time for a perfect score?



~ COVER DESIGNER ~
Sara Eirew

~ COVER PHOTOGRAPHER ~
FuriosFotog

~ COVER MODEL ~
Justin Keeton


~ Other books by Anne Jolin ~
Rock Falls Series:
Chasing Rhodes, Book 1: http://bit.ly/ChasingRhodes
Choosing Henley, Book 2: http://bit.ly/ChoosingHenley
Breaking Bennett, Book 3: http://bit.ly/BreakingBennett
Keeping King, Book 4: http://bit.ly/KeepingKing

Willow Bay Stables:
Change Rein, Book 1 - Coming JUNE 15th!

~ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~
ANNE JOLIN

Hey y’all, 
I was born and raised in Ladner, a small farm town just outside Vancouver, Canada. I grew up riding horses, shooting guns, and driving in trucks. 

I never expected to be an author. A massage therapist? Yes. Take over the family construction company? Yes. But an author? No. Writing was something that snuck up on me and rooted itself into my life. It was beautiful to discover that love, and I’m truly grateful to say I’ve found my passion. 

Since I’ve always been a creative person, it feels amazing to harness all of that energy and use it to tell a story I love. I enjoy incorporating bits of my real life into the stories I write. What parts are true? Hah. I’ll never tell—what would be the fun in that? 

If I could leave y’all with one thing, it’s that life’s far too short to not live it out loud. Drown in your passions, hold on tight to the things that inspire you, and chase your dreams relentlessly. I can promise you without a doubt that you won’t regret it. I know I don’t. 

Mad love, 
Anne Jolin 
xx



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