Book Blitz: Anya Chases Down the End by Jeffrey Yamaguchi @jeffyamaguchi @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #YABooks

We are so happy to share this book with you today! Check out Anya Chases Down the End by Jeffrey Yamaguchi! Read on for details and a chance to win a digital edition of the book!

anya_chases_coverAnya Chases Down the End

Publication Date: May 26th, 2021

Genre: Young Adult/ Contemporary/ Novella

A missing book is about to write the story of her life — before she even gets one.

Recent high school grad Anya doesn’t just want to write the great American novel — She wants to publish it, too. So she has faked her way into a summer internship at a major New York City publishing house thousands of miles from home in order to pursue her dream career at an accelerated pace. But her shaky, clandestine plan — which includes camping out in the office and surviving on leftovers from the pantry refrigerator — is completely upended when she loses track of a coveted manuscript by one of the biggest authors in the world. Off she has to race into the late night streets of New York City to track down the manuscript — to save her internship and preserve her cover story, not to mention her best-laid career plan — before the sun rises and her boss is back in the office.

Come along on the madcap quest in this standalone YA novella filled with secret door venues, abandoned subway stations, concealed backrooms and crash pads, mysterious missed connections on old school rotary phones, electric alleyway kisses, and revelatory poetry hiding in plain sight.

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Chapter One

I wasn’t usually invited to the toasts. And technically, I wasn’t invited to this one, but because I was pulled into the last second effort to put it together, at the very least I’d get to mill about in the group of people raising glasses, as opposed to the usual: being huddled over in my cube, my work-a-day motions provided with the soundtrack of everyone else in the office having a good time.

“Anya, what are you still doing here?”

The big boss — Francine — was looking at me like I had failed to rush to the vet a deathly sick puppy that was lying at my feet.

“I was just about to leave, Francine.”

“You do know how important this is, right?”

As a matter of fact, I did know. Because literally one minute earlier, when she was tasking me with picking up the champagne for the toast, had told me just that, in tones usually reserved for someone who was being given the responsibility of delivering a package that contains the formula for an antidote to the virus that is in the process of wiping out the entire human race.

I had spent the first 30 seconds excited that I would get to be a part of the toast — so excited that you would have thought that I was going to be personally thanked. Not going to happen. Still, it felt like a little bit of publishing history was happening, and I was going to be there to witness it — maybe even showing up in some photographs that many years from now, would end up in the biography about my long and storied career as a writer AND publisher who transformed the literary landscape. Or, more realistically, maybe they’d just end up on the publishing house’s Instagram page, and I could share the photo so all my friends would see me making it big in the big city. Not now, of course — I didn’t want to social expose myself and ruin everything in the real right now (more on that later), but at some point in the future, when I’ll probably need to show photographic evidence to case close on everyone that I really did spend six whole weeks of the summer in New York City working at a publishing house.

The inside-my-own head revelry of both the toast and the future brag did not last long, however, because it hit me like a seven layer chocolate cake in the face — while I’m wearing my favorite summery cocktail dress, no less — that I had no way to actually purchase the champagne.

This was double-drag bad — like, not only is the party off, but the house where the party was supposed to be is engulfed in flames. For one thing, Francine expected that champagne to be ice cold and ready to pop in far less time than it was going to take me to get to and from the liquor store that is located just around the corner from the office.

But the bigger issue is that I had no way to actually buy the champagne for the very simple reason that I am not 21 years old, and I don’t have a fake ID.

Yes, it sucks. It sucks to not be able to buy alcohol. Old enough to vote, but not be able to go to bars. Or get into shows, or clubs. But that’s nothing compared to the suckage that is about to swallow up my situation into a deeper and much darker hole. And the situation is this: I am 18 years old and I just graduated from high school, but nobody here knows this. They think I am 21 and about to start my senior year of college, because that is what I told them. At the time that I applied for the internship, it was an impossible lark, and I didn’t really think about any of the consequences of getting exposed as a fabulist because I simply didn’t think it was ever going to happen.

But such an exposure will trigger a cascade of questions and open up the floodgates to a number of deceptions that I’ve had to vocalize, sign-on-the-dotted-line, and sustain in order to pull off what I am literally just one day from totally and completely getting away with.

I know it sounds like I’m a lying, no-good cheat, but to my mind, I applied for an internship in a field I am desperate to break into, got it, and have worked hard during my six weeks here at Teasdale House. While it’s true that I lied about my age, and that I was close to finishing up college, not to mention telling my parents that this was all part of a University program for pre-college students — I wasn’t trying to be deceptive. The false information propping it all together didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. But now, it’s clear to me that there’s quite a few people — and institutions — unknowingly tangled up in the web of deception that I’ve weaved to pull all of this off. If it all falls apart… Well, frankly, I can’t think about that right now.

I dash into the elevator bank, see a set of doors that are in the midst of closing, and jump my way in, like I’m narrowly escaping a mine shaft about to be rocked by a massive explosion.

It wasn’t until after I screeched “Fuck!” that I realized someone was in the elevator with me.

“Good thing you made it! This is the last transport off the literary industrial complex prison module known as the Teasdale House of Strikethroughs and Last-Minute Changes.”

***

Of course it would be Max, or Hot Max as I referred to him in my waking workaday fantasies. I also call him “The dude,” because he’s always the one dude in meetings full of women. He’s one of those forever interns, meaning he’s operating outside the usual seasonal cycle, and people think of him as a staffer, but ultimately, he’s still just an intern. Likely, when he graduates from college, he will get a job at the publishing house. The word is that he’s been promised exactly that. But I have no idea. What I do know is that he’s quite the dapper dresser despite always looking like he was out a little too late the night before. I would occasionally relay messages to him from Francine. This is how our interactions would go:

“Francine would like to see the front cover selections for the Spring list’s lead titles.”

“Okay, I will bring them by in a few minutes, just need to print out the latest versions.”

“Great, thanks,” I’d say, already turned around with my head down.

Pathetic, I know. I made myself feel a little bit better by acknowledging the fact that he probably wasn’t paying close enough attention to me to notice the ridiculously insecure way in which I was functioning, seeing me more as a sentient being transporting messages and documents from one person to another, nothing more, nothing less.

But there was no time for this kind of thinking. In fact, there was no time for thinking at all. The elevator in this shiny and slick new building might as well have been a hyperspace chamber, zapping you instantaneously to whatever floor you needed to get to by the push of a button.

So I just blurted out: “Hey, I just realized I forgot my ID at home. Do you think you could help me get something done for Francine?”

This not thinking thing was really working for me. Not only did I lay the groundwork of the forgotten ID, but I threw in a Francine name bomb. Even if Max was going to try and squirm his way out of helping me out — a fellow intern who never said more than two words to him, if he even remembered anything about me at all — the inclusion of the Francine factor was going to force his hand.

Max swung around and looked me square in the eyes, his smile further lighting up his light green eyes, as well as a no sleep swell to the perfect skin above his everyday, all the time, 5 o’clock shadow. He was holding the elevator door open for me.

“No problem,” he said, with not a hint of annoyance, “Whaddya need?”

***

Fifteen minutes later, the champagne was set up in the conference room, which had an expansive view of the NYC skyline, but most directly looked out upon a residential building that seemed to have some kind of dance studio on one of the floors about midway up the old brick structure. You couldn’t help but catch the movement flowing from that floor, especially after the sun went down. It’s always lit up, and there is always a blur of activity: whirling, gorgeous, flowing bodies moving from one side of the floor to the other.

That’s what I love about the city. It doesn’t make sense that there’s a dance studio in an otherwise residential building, but there it is, and there are people in their dancing, and your eyes can’t help but fall on one particular dancer, who is moving this way and that way, seemingly never touching the ground. As I held in my breath, I realized this dancer’s movement might possibly be the most beautiful thing that is happening on the entire planet at that particular, fleeting moment in time. I’m too far away to actually make out her face. It always strikes me as odd — sad, even — that If I saw this dancer on the street, I would have no idea that this was the person I had been watching flow through the most beautiful of moves, elegantly sweeping her way across the floor in a blur, or balancing herself in a graceful, otherworldly stillness.

***

What I had thought would be a very good thing — standing there with everyone, holding a plastic cup, listening intently to the toast — in reality felt painfully forced and extremely awkward, like I had been invited up on stage to share in the acceptance of an award that I didn’t deserve.

Francine wasn’t a particularly eloquent speaker, but she knew how to command a room. “This is one of many toasts to come,” she began. “There will be many more milestones and even more successes.”

And then, with just the right amount of volume uptick, she proclaimed even more forcefully, “This new book, which Chester just finished, insures all of this and more. This is just the beginning. And oh what a glorious beginning it is. Cheers to you, Chester!”

On cue, people put their hands together and clapped. Chester Fred Morrissey had the look of a man who was used to applause, and no matter how muted it might be, I got the feeling he felt it roll into his ears with pounding thunder. He had a monster hit a few years ago, and that’s a ticket that he, along with everyone else standing in this conference room, plus many others, has been riding ever since.

“I just finished going over the edits with Francine — there weren’t hardly any at all,” he said, a little too heavy on the self-assuredness.

Was that a joke? I wasn’t sure, and I don’t think anyone else was either, because no one laughed.

“I hand it over to you, and I have absolute faith that you will all do your best to share it with the whole world — They’ve been waiting for it, of course, so by all means, carry on with your hard work, full speed ahead!”

Another joke? No one was laughing at all, and though Francine was still smiling, there was the ominous hint of confusion — or was it concern — in that steely, never-let-them-see-you sweat veneer of hers.

“So to the hard work that is complete, and onto the hard work yet to be done!”

People were barely clapping, and perhaps that’s why it quickly became apparent that someone was clapping a little too loudly and far too slowly. All of the sudden, all eyes were staring down on the perpetrator of the obnoxious clapping, which meant all eyes were zeroing in on me as well, because wouldn’t you know it, I had the terrible luck of standing right next to this…. insane person.

I had no idea who this guy was — a disheveled, full-bearded, middle-aged white guy, dressing like an old man wearing the opposite of a custom fit grey suit and, of course, dirty white sneakers. I think I had seen him around before, but I couldn’t quite place him. He definitely didn’t work on this floor.

Before I knew it, Francine was on top of him, smile ablaze but moving too swiftly and with too much purpose to seem like a natural, so good to see you here approach.

Nobody was drinking their champagne. The eyes in the back of Francine’s head must have made her aware of this because she quickly turned around, raised up her glass, and announced, “Cheers indeed!”

She then took a hard swallow from her glass, drinking not in celebration, but to be done with it. With the murmuring reaching its peak, Francine put her arm around the gentleman, whispered into his ear, and ushered him away back towards her office.

I scanned the room and saw that I was not alone in wondering what the fuck was going on — everyone was unified in a look of discomfiting confusion. Everyone, that is, except for Max — he was radiating a bemused grin. I don’t think he knew what was going on, and that was fine with him — he was just enjoying the disarray. He raised up his glass in my direction, kept his eyes locked on mine, and then drank his glass down in one swallow.

***

Just as I’m sinking into Max’s eyes and working to decipher exactly what that was all about — hedging toward the fantasy that Max is actually interested in me — I am immediately struck with an urgent and impossible thought: What if he comes over at this very moment and starts talking to me? Yes, this is what I want, but because I’m a total idiot, I also realize I’d just like to disappear.

It turns out that the disappear option would have been the right choice, because without warning, Francine stomps into my space, grabs a hold of my shoulder, and pulls me in the direction of her office.

Once inside, she shuts the door, and then takes a seat behind her desk. It still feels like her hand is on my shoulder.

Before Francine even has a chance to say anything, and that means I spoke up pretty quickly, I asked, “Who was that guy?”

Whoa. Clearly I was buzzing off the two sips of champagne I had drunk… that, and the buzz I was feeling from the look Max may or may not have been throwing in my direction.

Francine didn’t want to spare the second to compute that I had perhaps spoken out of turn. “He’s not important, never mind him, Anya.”

Then, she got even more cult-leader like.

“What is important is Chester, and the manuscript completion we are celebrating. He arrived today with the last pages — the ending we’ve been waiting so long for. It’s all been reviewed and the pages have been marked-up, including on the stunning new pages that close the novel. The edits just need to be implemented.”

Francine then lets out a sigh of accomplishment, and pauses for effect, before carrying on: “Now I’ve got to go out to dinner with Chester. What I need you to do is go through the marked-up manuscript and the notes, implement all the changes and fixes, and lock down a final draft. Pay special attention to everything, but especially the end. These are the newest pages and they’ve had very few eyes on them — Just Chester’s and mine.”

She was looking at me, and pointing at the manuscript, which was drenched in so much red pen it looked like someone had left it in a room full of school children armed with nothing but red crayons. Clearly, she wanted to see my reaction.

“This has to be done… before the start of the work day tomorrow,” she says sternly. 

“By tomorrow morning…?”

“That’s not a question, right, Anya? That’s your affirmation to me that you understand how critically important this is, and how you will have it done by tomorrow morning.”

She didn’t wait for an answer. She got up, put on her jacket, and opened her office door.

“I know you’re going to have to stay here pretty late to get this done,” she said, in a softer voice than usual. For a moment, it seemed like she was about to show some concern, or possibly, some gratitude, but the next thing I knew, she had raised up her arm and she was pointing a finger in the direction of my chest but seemingly aimed at my very soul.

“Under no circumstances should you remove the manuscript from this office — not even a page or two while you go to get a cup of coffee. And no one — I mean NO ONE — is allowed to step foot in here.”

And with that, she turned and left to go out to her fabulous dinner with the fabulous author in a fabulous restaurant in a fabulous part of the city.

Of course I’m stuck at the office with a pile of work that is sure to keep me here all night. I know what you might be thinking. How horrible! An all-nighter in a deserted, darkened office tower, the creepy clinking and clanking of air vents and cheap metal file cabinets settling deeper into the industrial carpet. But for me, this wasn’t unusual at all. Not because I was always being left to do all the work while everyone else goes out for the fancy dinners, or at least some slices and a few after-work drinks.

Staying not just late, but through the entire night, is absolutely normal for me, because I’ve been sleeping at the office since this internship began.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

yamaguchi_author_photo

At the age of 26, Jeffrey Yamaguchi quit his job, threw himself a retirement party, and believed that he could make a living publishing zines. It didn’t work out, but he continues to dream the dream. Jeffrey’s books include 52 Projects, Working for the Man, Anya Chases Down the End, and Body of Water. His stories, poems, photography, and short films have been published in many literary journals, including Okay Donkey, Kissing Dynamite, Back Patio Press, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Honey & Lime, Spork Press, Vamp Cat Magazine, Nightingale & Sparrow, Black Bough Poetry, and the Atticus Review.

Jeffrey Yamaguchi | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Giveaway: Win one of five digital editions of Anya Chases Down the End (Closes August 21st)

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Blog Tour: Drowning by Steven M. Cross @stevecrosswords @RRBookTours1 @btwnthelinespub #Drowning #RRBookTours #YA #YAReads #YABooks #Drama

Welcome to the blog tour for Drowning by Steven M. Cross! Read on for an exclusive excerpt and more details!

Drowning digital coverDrowning

Genre: Young Adult/ Contemporary

Publication Date: October 29th, 2019

Publisher: Liminal Books

Dean knows being different isn’t always a good thing.

Trapped by the voices and visits from the dead, Dean is drowning. His father, allegedly drowned, and the friend who took his own life taunt like the school bullies he can’t seem to get away from.

A sliver of hope breaks through when his mother announces they are moving. A chance for a fresh start for all of them. So why does she move them to the cottage near the river his father drowned in?

The water begins to envelop him, threatening to pull him under, when Dean discovers nothing changes and the bullies find not only him, but his twin sister, Dee, as favorite targets. Dean’s personal struggles worsen as his tentative grasp on reality weakens.

An unexpected hand plunges through the water toward him, bringing with it questions and a family secret that haunts them all.

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Excerpt

My dad looks up at me, “I’ll catch you.”

I know he probably won’t, but that doesn’t scare me, not today. What scares me is knowing that this day—this perfect day—one of the few my family ever has will end soon, and it will be back to yelling and screaming and being slapped for saying the wrong thing even when I don’t know what is wrong.

I turn to Dee and ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“I don’t ever want to grow up,” she says.

And I realize I don’t want to either. I back away from the cliff.

Dee says, “Finally. Don’t kill yourself.”

“I don’t want to grow up either.”

I run to the edge of the cliff, but this time I don’t jump feet first. I dive. I think as I sail through the air and hit the water that it’s the perfect day to die.

My dad jerks me out of the water. “What the hell are you doing? You could have killed yourself.”

I just look at him and say, “I didn’t.” Then, I swim toward the beach.

Dee yells, “Holy shit, brother! Way to go.”

Drowning is Available on Amazon!

About the Author

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Steven Cross remembers his first literary success, a play about a wolfman that his English class read. His first publication was a Haiku about hearing wolves at sunset one evening as he sat on his back deck with Luke his faithful mutt by his side. He also published a horror story about mutant moles whose taste buds begin to crave human flesh.

Cross, born in Missouri, has published plays, novels, and poetry and done well in some screenwriting competitions, most recently as a quarterfinalist in The Bluecat Screenwriting competition, considered one of the best in the country.

Cross often writes about mental illness. He is an example of how a person can overcome mental illness and succeed. His young adult book Drowning covers bullying and mental illness and is a must-read for teenagers, parents, and teachers.

An educator for over 30 years, he is now semi-retired. Right now he and his wife Jean live in Poplar Bluff, MO, where they spend a lot of time spoiling their grandchildren. Cross is a St. Louis Cardinals fan and has been ever since he was old enough to hold a baseball card. He also enjoys music, reading, and of course writing.

Steven M. CrossTwitterFacebookInstagram

Drowning

Blog Tour Schedule

January 27th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

I Love Books and Stuff (Spotlight) https://ilovebooksandstuffblog.wordpress.com

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

January 28th

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Interview) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

Tranquil Dreams (Spotlight) https://klling.wordpress.com/

Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Spotlight) www.bansheeirishhorrorblog.com

January 29th

Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

Misty’s Book Space (Spotlight) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

My Bookish Bliss (Review) http://www.mybookishbliss.com

January 30th

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Spotlight) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/

J Bronder Book Reviews (Review) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/

January 31st

Entertainingly Nerdy (Review) https://www.entertaininglynerdy.com

Phantom of the Library (Review) https://phantomofthelibrary.com/

Crossroad Reviews (Spotlight) http://www.crossroadreviews.com

 

Blog Tour Organized By:

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I ❤ YA Mega Book Blitz: A Multi-Author, Multi-Book Event! (Excerpts & Giveaways!)

If YA is your jam, then I have good news! Today, we are celebrating four amazing YA books, and the talented authors behind them. There will be exclusive excerpts and wonderful prizes to win, so be sure to read on!

As an added bonus, all four books will be available to book reviewers in exchange for honest reviews. Contact Shannon @ R&R Book Tours to find out how you can get your hands on a review copy.

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the gemini connection coverThe Gemini Connection by Teri Polen

Publication Date: June 7th, 2018

Genre: YA Science Fiction/ Dystopian

Teen twin brothers Evan and Simon Resnik are fiercely loyal to each other and share an unusual bond—they experience each other’s emotions as their own and can sense where the other is.

On their dying planet of Tage, scientists work tirelessly on its survival. Like the twins’ parents, Simon is a science prodigy, recruited at a young age to work with the brilliant creator of Scientific Innovations. To the bitter disappointment of their parents, Evan shows no aptitude or interest in science. As a Mindbender, he travels into the minds of scientists to locate buried memories, connect ideas and concepts, and battle recurring nightmares.

When Simon mysteriously disappears, Evan is plunged into a world of loss and unbearable guilt. For the first time, he can’t ‘feel’ Simon—it’s like he no longer exists. Evan blames himself. No one knows that he ignored his brother’s pleas for help on the night he went missing.

A year later, Simon is still gone. Evan lost his twin, but Tage might have lost its last hope of survival when it’s discovered that Simon’s unfinished project could be its salvation. Evan is determined to find him—somewhere—and bring Simon home. Their unusual connection might be more extraordinary than they know, and the key to locating Simon.

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 Excerpt

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Ugly.  That was the first word that came to mind.  Deadly was next. 

The twisted creation was courtesy of a new client, a scientist.  The nightmare had been tormenting him for the past couple of weeks. 

The monster stood roughly fifteen feet tall, walked on two legs, and stretched two muscled arms in front of it, but its elongated head was a grotesque combination of goat and demon.  Treacherous horns protruded from either side of its skull, torso, and upper thighs, making it difficult for anyone to get close to the beast.  Not that we especially wanted to, but it was part of a Bender’s job requirement to eradicate nightmares.  So, we took up battle positions—Syd to its right, me to its left—crouched in anticipation of this formidable creature’s attack. 

“I’ll go high, you go low,” I called to Syd.  Besides a hideous appearance, the goat thing screeched like a deranged bird, and we strained to hear each other, even with the com units. 

“Got it, Evan.”  She unsheathed a ten-inch dagger from her utility belt, the silver blade glinting in the eerie cast of yellow-green light in this nightmare-scape.  Being somewhat vertically-challenged (she hated it when I said short), Syd might not look intimidating, but give the girl a knife and she was absolutely lethal.  The creature’s leg tendons would be sliced to ribbons in seconds.

Syd dived to the creature’s right, spinning and coming up behind it, as she avoided an angry kick to her head.  She carved into its left limb, and it let out an ear-piercing shriek.

I withdrew an iron mallet from my own belt and catapulted myself off the wall, soaring over the goat-demon and landing a blow to the left side of its skull.  Its head jerked in my direction when I came down on its other side.  The sharpened tip of the horn caught the left side of my rib cage, and a warm flow of blood seeped through my shirt.  Wouldn’t be the first time I’d walked away from a nightmare with a permanent scar. 

Syd scrambled around its legs, careful not to be trampled.  Her dagger was a silver blur as she slashed the gray-haired appendages, the goat-demon staggering in its efforts to avoid her blade. 

The ground was wet—possibly blood.  But with dream or nightmare creations, you couldn’t be sure.  Because this thing’s creator was a scientist, they tended to more detail-oriented.  Odds leaned in the blood direction. 

The light around us took on a red hue.  Did the ambient illumination correlate to the creature’s anger level?  If yellow-green meant annoyed, did red mean take no prisoners?

-The Gemini Connection

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About the Author

author photo

Teri Polen reads and watches horror, sci-fi, and fantasy.  The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, and anything Marvel-related are likely to cause fangirl delirium.  She lives in Bowling Green, KY with her husband, sons, and black cat.  Her first novel, Sarah, a YA horror/thriller, was a horror finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.  Visit her online at www.teripolen.com

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dear janeDear Jane by Marina DelVecchio

Publication Date: January 3rd, 2019

Genre: YA/ Coming of Age

Kit Kat is a fifteen-year-old adoptee who writes letters to her favorite literary character, Jane Eyre, as a means of surviving a violent childhood in Greece and a harrowing adoption in New York that requires her to silence her memories and her voice. In writing letters to Jane, Kit Kat discovers a connection to literature that saves her life. Dear Jane is about family, love, forgiveness, and the power of a good book.

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Excerpt

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For the next two weeks that I was in possession of your story, it was as if someone had seen me, claimed me. I had a sister, a mother, an aunt, a place in which I was loved and understood and cared for. I was connected to something solid and real, for even if the story wasn’t real, a real woman had written it, had understood the pain that comes with being rejected and lonely; the angst that comes with being a girl severed from her roots and family.

-Dear Jane

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About the Author

marina pic author

Marina DelVecchio is a college professor of literature and women’s studies and lives in North Carolina with her family. Her work can be found online at Ms. Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Tishman Review, Her Circle Ezine, and The New Agenda.

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Version 3Till It Stops Beating (The Maddie Chronicles #4) by Hannah R. Goodman

Publication Date: July 5th, 2018

Genre: YA Contemporary

Seventeen-year-old Maddie Hickman has always coped with anxiety by immersing herself into the latest self-help book. Then her grandmother is diagnosed with cancer, and she spirals so far downward that she almost risks losing everything she holds dear.

From applying to college to solving the mystery of why she detests jelly doughnuts to writing a novel for her senior project and reconnecting with an old flame (or two), the ever-mounting stress leads to an unexpected road trip where she is forced to listen to her wildly beating heart. It is only in the back of a convertible with pop music blasting, that she discovers what she needs in order to really live.

If your heart has ever hurt from beating widely, whether from anxiety or love, this book is the one to read.

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Excerpt

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“I need to be with Bubbie. I want to be there every day. When she is sick or tired. When she needs help.” I take breath. “I will stay and take care of Bubbie and go to school in January.”

“I don’t like this idea,” Mom says.

Dad sips his coffee instead of gulps. “I don’t know if the deferment is a good idea or not,” he says. “But staying in California for that long? I think it’s sweet to want to stay and care of Bubbie, but what else will you be doing?” He looks at my mom.

Then Mom explodes. “Stan, she is not deferring.” Finally, she looks at me. “You are not deferring. I’m calling Emerson tomorrow to straighten this out.”

This is so ridiculous. When are they going to get it? I stand up. “You know what? This is crazy. I’ve been losing sleep and getting all panicky again over this for the past few weeks and for what? For what reason? Fear of disappointing you? And now here I am full-blown disappointing you both and I did not fall apart or die. I am still here. And so are you guys.” I think of Susan’s opening lines to her speech. Welcome to the last day of childhood. “I’m an adult now, Mom. You guys have to let me make my decisions, without trying to guilt me into doing what you want.” And with that, I walk my adult self out of the living room, and they don’t follow.

-Till It Stops Beating

About the Author

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Often referred to as “the teenage whisperer”, Hannah R. Goodman’s twenty-year career working with teenagers includes the titles teacher, tutor, coach, and, more recently, mental health counselor. Hannah has written essays about mental health for various online publications. Her work has appeared on MindBodyGreen, OC87 Recovery Diaries,  Zencare.co, and The Mighty. Though she has previously earned the title author with her first three books, those were all were self-published. This time around, publisher Black Rose Writing released her novel Till It Stops Beating in July, 2018. Literary Titan’s review praised Till It Stops Beating for “tackling a difficult issue like anxiety and making a story that was funny and sweet without making light of the issue.” Hannah is a member of  ARIA  (Association of Rhode Island Authors) as well as a graduate of Pine Manor College’s Solstice Program in Creative Writing where she earned an MFA in Writing For Young People. She resides in Bristol, RI with her husband, two daughters, and black and white cat named Zoe.

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a step away coverA Step Away by G. Randy Kasten

Publication Date: February 7th, 2019

Genre: YA Thriller

Three friends, Brianna, Sean, and Robert, happen across a body buried in their neighborhood.

Because a police investigation might reveal that the trio is connected to a stolen motor, and that Sean’s mother was having a relationship with a neighbor, the three friends decide they must solve the apparent murder before contacting authorities.

In the process, they sneak into a house, befriend a vigilant neighbor with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and develop a friendship with a kind, older man.

Brianna becomes convinced that clues point to Sean’s father and realizes their detective work is doing more harm than good.

She makes tough choices that affect families and friendships.

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Excerpt

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Right below the pipe, a human hand and wrist poked out from the dirt, its flesh partly rotted away. The fingers pointed at us.

I let out a panicked yell identical to Robert’s but stood frozen. A hot, prickly feeling crawled up my back as Sean as shouted to Robert. “You okay, Robber?” When Robert murmured a response, Sean scrambled down to the creek. “Cover it up!” he demanded as he went, pointing at me. “Cover it back up!”

        “We can’t just…” I started.

       “Cover it up!” Sean was bending over, one hand on Robert’s shoulder. “Just do it!”

I shoveled dirt and leaves at the void, breathing as little as possible and only glancing occasionally at the rotted appendage sticking out at me. Each scoop of crumbly soil slid back down, so finally I started stomping on it to get it to stay, right on top of the hand. I felt as if I was pressing down on something evil. Trying to keep it back. After a minute, Sean stood next to me working with Robert’s abandoned shovel. With his head turned away from the hole, he didn’t help much.

Robert sat where he was, letting out little wails every now and then. It wasn’t a sound like the pain of a sprained ankle or something. It was more like the desperate moans of someone who’d forgotten how to talk.

Once we managed to get the hand covered, we scrambled down the bank, grabbed Robert by his arms, then half carried him and the tools back to the workshop we’d taken over from Sean’s dad. After breathing the rotten stench of the creek, I barely noticed Robert’s smell and couldn’t get that image of the decaying hand out of my mind.

We set Robert down in one of the beaten-up old armchairs we’d dragged in there, then sank down ourselves, panting. The hot prickly feeling was still crawling all over me. Sean and I looked at each other for a few seconds, then away. Robert stared at the floor.

I’d never seen a real skeleton — or a dead body – before. The tuna sandwich I’d eaten an hour earlier seemed to be on a climb back up. I imagined the scene once we called the sheriff; Sean’s parents would arrive home to a flock of cop cars in the driveway. Maybe there’d be a coroner’s van. They’d love driving into that mess.

Then things went from bad to worse. Sean leaned forward and pointed one finger at me and one at Robert. “We can’t tell anyone about this.”

Robert peered out from under the layer of the coarse black hair fallen in front of his eyes. “But Sean, somebody buried a body.”

         “We know that, Robert,” Sean snapped. His nasty scowl reminded me of his father. “But nobody else is going to know that.”

          “Why not?” that high voice again. “That body where it is, it’s not by accident.”

Sean turned to me, “Brianna, you know why we can’t tell anyone.” Like he was pleading with me. “You know.”

-A Step Away

About the Author

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After some childhood acting and living in England for a year, I graduated from Reed College, then attended law school. As a litigator in California and Washington State for thirty years, I learned a great deal about what people really want, and also how humor helps in tough situations.

Writing remains my main interest. I am the author of Just Trust Me: Finding the Truth in the World of Spin (Quest Books, 2011), a book about discerning truth from appearances. My young adult novel, A Step Away, will be published by Black Rose in 2019.

I have also written a couple of short plays, which were performed at a local theatre in Marin County, CA. The Ribbons Agency is a nearly completed satirical book about the arduous task of securing a literary agent. On a more serious note, I am working on a non fiction book that presents a unique, logical reason to believe that greater international peace is inevitable.

A resident of San Francisco’s east bay for most of my life, I have lived along Hood Canal (a fjord and part of Puget Sound) in Washington State for the past three years. I’m still adapting to the weather, though it keeps me inside and productive most of the year. When not writing, I’m enjoying the outdoors or playing improvisational piano.

G. Kasten

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Monday Jan. 28th

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